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'Fueling the Afghan War'

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'Fueling the Afghan War'
by Anthony Fenton                             
"It was as if the Kyrgyz government had been some kind of criminal enterprise within which the United States ran a military base."
 
Last week, mainstream outlets such as the Washington Post reported on a House panel's investigation into how "Two overthrows of the government [in Kyrgyzstan] have been linked to corrupt dealings at Manas air base." Specifically, they are looking into the mega-deals with Red Star Enterprises Limited, which " owns and rents storage tanks outside the U.S.-run Bagram air base and has a contract to deliver oil products from its tanks to a distribution facility on the base."

This week, The Nation published investigative journalist Aram Roston's in depth account of the scandal, 'Fueling the Afghan war,' "the story of two interlinked and secretive offshore companies run by a former Army intelligence officer. The firms run a specialized monopoly of massive proportions. Their niche: supplying aviation fuel for US military operations in Afghanistan--enough to fill two Olympic-size swimming pools each and every day of the year."

Roston's article is a must-read, but one little tidbit that he leaves out concerning Red Star, is found in a related piece by Eurasianet.org, 'Kyrgyzstan: Deconstructing Manas Fuel Suppliers' Corporate Structures,' which notes that at one point Red Star " won Department of Defense fuel contracts with company registration in Toronto, Canada." (Defense contracts to the Toronto-based Red Star appear to have been issued between 2004-2007).
 
[For complete article reference links, please see source at Web of Democracy here.]

- As for the Manas base itself, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Wednesday, "We have been given assurances by the new leadership in Kyrgyzstan that the United States will retain access to the Manas air base." Now word yet on whether or not the U.S. has has to bribe the "new leadership" a la the "old leadership."

- Meanwhile, while ousted President Bakiyev has since fled the country - Belarus has granted him asylum. Bakiyev has stated that he still considers himself to be President, denying that he has resigned, a claim that Russia has rejected. De facto leader Roza Otunbayeva, who read from a letter that she claimed was a "faxed statement of Bakiyev on his resignation" (which his brother said was faked),  has called for Bakiyev to be arrested and tried for the killings of protestors earlier this month, while at the same time, her regime has "authorized the use of deadly force to put down looting and ethnic violence."
 
In another interesting development, the new regime has arrested a British public relations counsel to the ousted Bakiyev regime, Vugar Khalilov:

"He has been charged with money laundering, but his supporters claim the charges are politically driven. The clients served by Khalilov's public relations company included Bakiyev and a bank with alleged ties to one of his sons."
 

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