NATO To Carry Equipment From Afghanistan Through Central Asia
NATO on Monday announced that it cut an agreement with the Central Asian states Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan to allow the transit of its equipment through Central Asia and Russia as part of the drawdown plan of NATO which is expected to leave Afghanistan until 2014.
The announcement was made by Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the secretary-general of NATO, who said that the decision to deal with the Central Asian states was a move by which the military alliance wanted to have more options for the retreat from Afghanistan.
The move indicates that Central Asia is becoming a very important space for strategy planners and diplomats. At the same time, the United States was able to avoid the other route, through Pakistan, thus sending a message to the Pakistani authorities, with which Washington seemed to have come to an agreement last month.
The worsening of the ties with Islamabad has compelled the United States to turn to these Central Asian state and bring them into a political and strategic relation, in spite of the fact that they have many issues related to the human rights observance.
Uzbekistan for instance is accused by the human rights activists of using child labor, while the other two have authoritarian regimes which have kept them in the influence zone of Moscow.
One of the most important transit centers was Manas Transit Center in Kyrgyzstan, which is still under an agreement with Washington and could become a civilian operations airport in the future.
The authorities in Kyrgyzstan were expecting the United States to make an offer for a extending of the contract, while reminding their American partners the dangers Kyrgyzstan was facing as Iran may perceive Manas as a direct threat to its security.
NATO will now transport its equipment by the railroads built in the Soviet era through Central Asia and Russia proper. The deal was cut by the Americans who had the support of the British diplomacy.11