TransMission blogger Pete Baumgartner speculates there's a chance Turkish president Abdullah Gul's recent visit to Kyrgyzstan might have included an attempt to salvage the United States' right to use the country's Manas airbase for its Afghan efforts.
Such strong statements about Afghanistan raised suspicions among some experts that Turkey may be trying to persuade the Kyrgyz president to allow U.S. forces to continue their operations at Manas International Airport outside of Bishkek.Whether or not the story checks out, the fact that it's a likely possibility shows how useful a partner Turkey is and could remain to the United States if Washington treats Ankara with due respect and support (which seems to be the case). The same should go for India and Brazil, though I regret it doesn't always seem to (see here and here for more on that).
Washington has used the air base there to supply U.S.-led operations in Afghanistan since 2001, and the United States was not happy when Bakiev returned from Moscow in February with a Kremlin pledge for more than $2 billion in loans and promptly announced that the United States would have to vacate the air base.
The United States has been scrambling to find replacement bases in Central Asia to continue the crucial supply operations and, although it has received some promising offers from Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, it has made it clear that extending its stay at Manas would be preferred to moving out in August -- as they have been told to do -- and setting up elsewhere.
Despite the parliament’s approval in March to proceed with the eviction of U.S. forces from Manas, some Kyrgyz officials have intimated that there still is a possibility that the Americans could stay at the air base under a new status.