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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Kyrgyzstan: Recent Developments and U.S. Interests



Jim Nichol
Specialist in Russian and Eurasian Affairs

Kyrgyzstan is a small and poor Central Asian country that gained independence in 1991 with the breakup of the Soviet Union. The United States has been interested in helping Kyrgyzstan to enhance its sovereignty and territorial integrity, bolster economic reform and development, strengthen human rights, prevent weapons proliferation, and more effectively combat transnational terrorism and trafficking in persons and narcotics. Special attention long has been placed on bolstering civil society and democratization in what has appeared to be the most receptive—but still challenging—political and social environment in Central Asia.

The significance of Kyrgyzstan to the United States increased after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States. Kyrgyzstan offered to host U.S. forces at an airbase at the Manas international airport outside of the capital, Bishkek, and it opened in December 2001. The U.S. military repaired and later upgraded the air field for aerial refueling, airlift and airdrop, medical evacuation, and support for U.S. and coalition personnel and cargo transiting in and out of Afghanistan. The Kyrgyz government threatened to close down the airbase in early 2009, but renewed the lease on the airbase (renamed the Manas Transit Center) in June 2009 after the United States agreed to higher lease and other payments. President Almazbek Atambayev has declared that he will not renew the basing agreement when it expires in 2014. As of late 2012, the Manas Transit Center reports that it hosts about 1,500 U.S. troops and U.S. contractors and a fleet of KC-135 refueling tankers and C-17 transport aircraft.

Cumulative U.S. budgeted assistance to Kyrgyzstan for FY1992-FY2010 was $1.22 billion (all agencies and programs). Kyrgyzstan ranks third in such aid per capita among the Soviet successor states, indicative of U.S. government and congressional support in the early 1990s for its apparent progress in making reforms and more recently to support anti-terrorism, border protection, and operations in Afghanistan. After an April 2010 coup in Kyrgyzstan and ethnic violence in June 2010 in the south of the country, the United States committed about $90 million in urgent humanitarian and other assistance in addition to appropriated foreign assistance. Foreign assistance was $41.36 million in FY2011, and an estimated $47.75 million in FY2012. Under the Continuing Appropriations Resolution for FY2013, signed into law on September 28, 2012 (P.L. 112-175), regular foreign aid accounts are funded until late March 2012 at the same level as in FY2012 plus .612%, and most country allocations may be adjusted at agency discretion.



Date of Report: October 26, 2012
Number of Pages: 22
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