Staying put

The US is apparently not getting kicked out of our base in Kyrgyzstan after all:
Following a parliamentary vote on February 19, US forces were given until August to vacate Manas. But with less than three months to go before the eviction deadline, several indicators suggest US forces will be remaining at the base for the foreseeable future.

On June 1, officials in Bishkek insisted that no lease-extension arrangement had been agreed upon. "The decision on air base has been made. The necessary documents are signed. The air base will be closed," said Almaz Turdumambetov, the head of the President’s press office.

But the US Embassy in Bishkek told EurasiaNet on June 1 the matter is not closed and behind-the-scene talks on the base’s fate never stopped. "We remain in contact with the government of the Kyrgyz Republic on issues surrounding the base," the embassy said in a statement.

Perhaps the clearest indicator that US forces will be staying beyond August is the fact that a series of tenders for base services have recently been issued, calling for contract bids for work starting in July 2009 and running through to June 2010.

In addition, a source at the base said that "absolutely nothing" is being done to wind down operations and that fuel suppliers, who work on a nine month order-to-delivery schedule, have been told to continue with business as normal.

"It’s a clear indication that the Americans are not expecting to leave, unless they [intend on] paying out massive amounts in compensation," he said.