(Stars and Stripes) MANAS, Kyrgyzstan — In a small village market frosted by an early December snow, the shopkeepers gathered to discuss an economic future that looked as bleak as the weather.
The U.S. Air Force transit center at the nearby Manas International Airport is shutting down, with the last troops scheduled to be gone by July 2014. At least 700 local jobs are leaving with those troops, and the untold economic impact has some residents worried.
“The most important concern is that … our young people who work there will lose their jobs,” said Karachach Iskazhaeva, who, like the other women attending their booths, was wrapped in layer upon layer of scarves and aprons to protect against the cold. “It’s like half our village works there.”
Ever since American forces arrived in nearby Afghanistan after the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, residents of Manas have lived in the shadow of daily flights by U.S. military aircraft.
Now, 12 years later, the American base in the Central Asian highlands, which is used for transporting troops to Afghanistan, is finally closing. The Kyrgyz parliament voted 91-5 in June to end the lease with the U.S. government. […]
Read the full article © Stars and Stripes