A broad coalition of 20 human rights, labor and consumer groups is appealing to the Obama administration not to renew military aid and sales to Uzbekistan. Uzbekistan is widely considered one of the world's most repressive dictatorships and human rights violators.
However the need for a safe alternative route to supply Afghanistan seems to trump any human rights concerns. Obama seems to reject the advice of the rights group. In a statement released late Wednesday, the White House said that Obama had spoken with Uzbek Presidentby phone to congratulate him on Uzbekistan's 20 years of independence. Obama also "pledged to continue working to build broad cooperation between our two countries".
In response to the letter, State Department spokesperson Emily Horne said, "Uzbekistan and the United States have a common interest in regional stability, "agreements to better support our troops in Afghanistan"."We consider human rights to be an important part of our dialogue with Uzbekistan and are part of every high-level engagement with the government," But nothing positive seems to be happening on the human rights front.
The NDN (Norther Distribution Network) is key to supplying Afghan troops especially since transport through Pakistan is becoming increasingly hazardous.The Pentagon wants to ensure that Uzbekistan will permit the supply line to run through its territory in both directions so as troops can withdraw through the territory Such a two-way transit accord is currently being negotiated with Uzbekistan
Legislation passed by the U.S. in 2004 forbids military aid to Uzbekistan until the human rights situation improves but Obama administartion officials are lobbying congress members to pass a waiver.
The Senate Appropriations Committee recently went along with the waiver. This will probably result in ultimate approval by Congress as a whole. For more see this article.