Policy Memos

Manas Matters: The Changing Politics of the U.S. Military Base in Kyrgyzstan

Policy Memo:


Publication Date:




From July 2005 to July 2006 the status of the Manas (Ganci) U.S. military base in Kyrgyzstan became a central issue in U.S.-Kyrgyz relations and within Kyrgyz domestic politics. During this time, newly elected Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev demanded an exponential increase in U.S. compensation payments to the Kyrgyz Republic for use of the base and called for an investigation into how base-related revenues were accounted for during the regime of former president Askar Akayev. Most commentators have explained this sudden politicization of the U.S. base in Kyrgyzstan as a function of prevailing geopolitical changes, especially Russia’s reassertion of influence in Central Asia and Uzbekistan’s accompanying expulsion of the United States from the Karshi-Khanabad (K2) facility in July 2005.

However, a closer examination of the evolution of the new “base politics” of Manas suggests that the renewed Kyrgyz contestation of the U.S. basing accord has been primarily a function of domestic political developments, particularly Kyrgyzstan’s ongoing volatile transition from Akayev’s patrimonial authoritarian regime. This political challenge to the U.S.-Kyrgyz security contract is consistent with other historical cases of overseas base hosts that questioned the terms of prevailing U.S. basing agreements during their turbulent democratic transitions. [...]

Read full text (PDF)

About the author

Tow Professor of Political Science; Director of the Harriman Institute
Barnard College, Columbia University