Policy Memos

Small Steps for U.S. Security Interest in Kyrgyzstan

Policy Memo:


Publication Date:




The United States faces a dilemma in Kyrgyzstan because the two countries’ short-term and long-term security interests may be in conflict with each other. For the next few years, the United States would like to maintain its military presence in Kyrgyzstan, especially its ability to use the Ganci air base at Manas airport outside the capital of Bishkek. To do this requires giving financial support to the Kyrgyz government led by President Askar Akaev, who has explicitly said that his country deserves payment for its loyal contributions in the war against terrorism. But in the long term, U.S. security interests require that disaffected Muslims in the Central Asian region not be lured into extremism as a response to domestic government repression. The problem is that the Akaev government seems to have grown more authoritarian and repressive as U.S. assistance to it has increased in the aftermath of September 11, 2001. The current U.S. presence in Kyrgyzstan may ironically contribute to an insecure environment for U.S. security interests there in the future. How can this dilemma be resolved? [...]

About the author

Professor; Chair of the Political Science Department
Barnard College, Columbia University