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WASHINGTON – Uzbekistan has become more and more unpredictable in its response to requests to let the United States use its railway into Afghanistan as part of the Northern Delivery Network to deliver vital supplies to U.S. troops, according to a report from Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.
It’s apparently because the nation is wanting more money for the permissions, and it is feeling pressure from the Russians. But the result is that more expensive and increasingly difficult approaches are being considered.
The need to look to the NDN first came about after Pakistan retaliated against recent U.S. actions by cutting off the flow of supplies through the Khyber Pass, through which some 75 percent of these supplies has been flowing. Due to the recent accidental killing of some 24 Pakistani troops along the Afghan-Pakistan border, the Pakistani government cut off U.S. use of the Khyber Pass altogether, forcing the U.S. and coalition forces to face the obstacles that the NDN posed.
Those obstacles included a more reassertive Russia, which is upset with the construction of an anti-ballistic missile system in Europe because Russia fears it is the target of the system intended to guard U.S. allies against possible Iranian missile attacks.
Uzbekistan has offered the most direct route into Afghanistan but now it is raising the ante just as neighboring Kyrgyzstan similarly began to make it more difficult for the U.S. to use Manas Air Base for supply efforts.
Both appear to be responding to pressure from Moscow to make it more difficult and more expensive to provide the supplies. Now, the Pentagon is looking to use the Kazakhstan-Kyrgyzstan-Tajikistan trucking route. In the winter, however, this approach poses its own problems not only of bad weather but poor road conditions.
At the moment, the governments of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan remain somewhat cooperative, but Kyrgyzstan will not allow armor to traverse through the country, forcing the U.S. to continue using the rail line through Uzbekistan. In addition, the rail line carries some 60 percent of fuel deliveries for U.S. forces in Afghanistan.
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