Military operation without military cargos in Afghanistan: Trend News commentator

Politics Materials 21 February 2009 14:49 (UTC +04:00)

Viktoriya Zhavoronkova, commentator at the Trend European Desk

U.S. President Barack Obama plans to significantly increase the U.S. troops in Afghanistan in near future. Since Sep. 11, 2001, Nato has been conducting Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan to combat terrorism.  

Until recently, the U.S. had a sufficient infrastructure to transport cargoes to Afghanistan - the Manas airbase in Afghanistan neighboring Kyrgyzstan with antiterrorist coalition's military equipment and military contingent, military airport Termez in Uzbekistan and many arrangements to organize cargo transportation routes through the territory of Central Asian countries in future.

But Obama's plans have been frustrated by a sudden decision of Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev to shot the Manas airbase. Kyrgyz Foreign Ministry officially notified the White House the administration of the decision on Feb. 20. Nato has six months to completely leave the base.

Manas is important as it was the last U.S. base in Central Asia and was strategically crucial for the operation. Apart from location of military personnel, the base served as a transit point for transportation of cargos to Afghanistan. Military cargoes were also transported through this base.

The cargoes were traditionally transported through Pakistan, but their number decreased and transportation was hampered because of the instability in the country as a result of revitalization of Taliban. The U.S. is trying to find an alternative base or at least a transport corridor to compensate for the loss of the base.

Issues related to supply of civilian goods to Afghanistan have been almost resolved. Since the beginning of the year the U.S. has agreed on either ground or air corridors with several Central Asian countries. Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan are among them.

Kazakhstan will provide Almaty airport to NATO for the transportation of civil cargos. An agreement was reached with Tajikistan and Uzbekistan on transportation via road and railway. A new bridge with Afghanistan in addition to the existing narrower bridge is planned to be built in Tajikistan.

Furthermore, the USA agreed with Russia regarding transit of civil cargos through its territory. Supposedly, the cargos will go along the route Russia-Kazakhstan-Uzbekistan-Afghanistan. The details of agreement are being completed.

Besides, the U.S. agreement on the transit of cargos was signed also with other countries of North Atlantic alliance, such as Germany, France and Spain.

The experts consider this agreement as the step of the USA and Russia towards each other - peculiar field for the negotiations after the aggravation of the relations of the two countries as a result of the August military actions between Georgia and South Ossetia.

However, all these agreements deal with transportation of civil cargos, and what is to be done with the military?

A question arises on how the military operation in Afghanistan can stay without deliveries of military cargos if none of the earlier-mentioned countries officially declared about permission to transport them. It only remains to surmise, through which country the cargos necessary for the military operation in Afghanistan will go...

Officially each of the countries of Central Asia has reasons not to agree upon the transportation of military cargos. Firstly, because of the low level of life and poor-developed infrastructure, these states need material support, which is provided to them by near-located Russia, which speaks against military deliveries to Afghanistan. Unofficially cargos can go through any of these countries because due to the poor condition and standard of living, none of them will refuse the inflow of capital, which will be accompanied by the deliveries of military cargos in the case of their transportation.

It needs to wait which of the Central Asian countries will prefer American dollar to the friendship with Russia.

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