Friday, September 3, 2010

In Central Asia, a new headache for U.S. policy

By Andrew Higgins
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 1, 2010; A6

BISHKEK, KYRGYZSTAN - Beset by mounting casualties on the battlefield and deepening
disquiet at home over the United States' longest war, President Obama's Afghan
policy now faces another big headache: the unraveling of central authority in
Kyrgyzstan, a Central Asian nation that hosts a U.S. air base critical to the battle
against the Taliban.

Just a month after agreeing to extend for a year a $60 million lease on a U.S. air
base here, Kyrgyzstan's generally pro-Western but increasingly impotent president,
Roza Otunbayeva, has retreated from U.S.-backed security programs that Washington
hoped would help fortify a fragile Kyrgyz government. These include a
counterterrorism and anti-narcotics training center and an international police

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