Archive for February 20, 2009

Closure of Sole U.S. Military Base in Central Asia   Leave a comment

kyrgyz_flagPresident Kurmanbek Bakiyev of Kyrgyzstan has ordered the closure of U.S. military’s only base in Central Asia, further squeezing access for troops and supplies heading into Afghanistan.

Manas Air Base in Kyrgyzstan serves as a U.S. supply route for troops and supplies into Afghanistan.

Two other central Asian nations — Tajikistan and Uzbekistan – have indicated that they will allow transit of U.S. cargo to Afghanistan.

Increasing militant attacks on land routes through Pakistan and no likelihood of access through Afghanistan’s major western border with Iran, are putting the the United States under pressure to establish new supply chains from the north.

Manas’ closure could deal a significant blow to U.S. military efforts in Afghanistan just as President Barack Obama plans to step up U.S. troop levels to halt a resurgence of the country’s former Taliban rulers.

The utility of the arrangements with Tajikistan and Uzbekistan would still depend on how much access the United States would have for flights and cargo. It is unlikely they will fully replace capacity lost in Kyrgyzstan.

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Chu: Increased Demand for Oil   Leave a comment

U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu, a champion of renewable energy and biofuels, has a clear position about the future of oil. neft_01

He says global demand for it will increase over the next two decades and even with more efficiency and alternative fuels, prices will increase again.

In the long run, over the next two decades, he said, he’s certain the price of crude will be significantly higher than today. Crude oil has dropped from a high last summer of $145 a barrel to a recent low of about $34.