US legislators are willing to lift restrictions on the Defense Department’s ability to provide military assistance to Uzbekistan, a country with one of the world’s worst human rights records. But before the floodgates of security assistance are opened for Tashkent, Capitol Hill wants the Pentagon to be more transparent in the way it manages the Northern Distribution Network.
The US Senate in particular has voiced alarm that a lack of oversight over the Northern Distribution Network (NDN) has turned it into a gravy train of graft for Uzbekistan’s ruling elite. Uzbekistan serves as a hub for the NDN, which has emerged as a key supply line for US and NATO forces fighting in Afghanistan.
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Deirdre Tynan is a Bishkek-based journalist specializing in central Asian affairs.