Uzbek and Russian Leverage Grow With Loss of Afghan Supply Routes
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meets with Uzbek President Islam Karimov in Tashkent, Uzbekistan on October 22, 2011. (KEVIN LAMARQUE/AFP/Getty Images)
February 10, 2012
| Security
| Asia and the Pacific
In a move to preserve supply routes into war torn Afghanistan, the United States has eased restrictions on aid to Uzbekistan, a former republic of the Soviet Union. The decision has sweeping implications not only for the war in Afghanistan, but also for Russia’s influence over American policy in the region and Uzbekistan’s oppression of its population, which will now continue with impunity.

When Secretary of State Hillary Clinton signed a waiver on January 18 allowing Uzbekistan to receive non-lethal military aid, human rights groups protested, but looked at through a wider lens, the move is both understandable and of critical importance to the national security interests of the United States. Although democratic minded activists in the West continue to condemn authoritarian regimes like Uzbekistan, the reality is that the behavior of its government is not a priority for the United States. Its overriding national interest lies to the south in Afghanistan and its focus is on winding down the conflict in that country as efficiently and safely as possible.  After Pakistan closed the major supply lifeline through its territory to NATO forces, the Obama administration had little choice but to make a deal with Uzbekistan.

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