Uzbekistan's Weaponry Wish List Getting Bigger
Uzbekistan is seeking to get mine-protected vehicles, small arms, and even helicopters and drones from NATO forces who are using its territory for logistics support in Afghanistan, the New York Times has reported. That Uzbekistan is seeking some sort of leftover weapons is old news; this has been discussed (publicly) for more than a year. But the Times story provides a lot of new detail on what in particular Uzbekistan might be looking for, and it looks like they're aiming their sights high:
[T]he Uzbeks have been broadening the scope of their demands, said a senior American official directly involved in the diplomacy of the Afghan logistical routes, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the delicate negotiations.
The requests have gone from relatively common items like night-vision goggles to large and expensive American-made goods like MRAP vehicles, the 14-ton armored utility trucks that help protect troops from roadside bombs.
Other items that the Uzbeks have eyed in the American arsenal in Afghanistan are small arms, mine detectors, navigation equipment and possibly drones, according to Der Spiegel, the German newsmagazine, suggesting that the Uzbeks are looking at the pullout next year as a sort of everything-must-go moment for military shopping.
And Uzbekistan isn't just looking to the U.S., but Germany, too:
After years of watching helicopters fly in and out of Termez airfield, which is used as a German base in Uzbekistan, the government in March told Germany’s defense minister, Thomas de Maizière, who was visiting, that it would not mind getting its hands on a few of them, the newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported....
Such talks have alarmed members of the German Parliament, who requested clarification from their government.
“Either the Uzbeks want money, and quite a lot, or they want weapons,” Viola von Cramon, a member of Parliament, said in a telephone interview. “What I’ve heard from informed sources is they are not interested in civil assistance, or anything progressive like university exchanges. It’s really hard in that respect. They really prefer the military sector.”
Last year, Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Robert Blake suggested that it was unlikely that Uzbekistan would get any lethal equipment (a category in which many of the things above would certainly be included). The State Department provided a statement for the Times that didn't include any such condition. But I asked a State Department spokesperson for clarification on this issue, and was told that there is "no change from A/S Blake's comments last year." So, if lethal assistance is still off the table, it sounds like the Uzbeks are going to be disappointed when it comes time to hand out goodies.