News / Asia

Northern Route a Key Supply Network for NATO Troops in Afghanistan

Afghanistan Northern Supply RoutesAfghanistan Northern Supply Routes
x
Afghanistan Northern Supply Routes
Afghanistan Northern Supply Routes
Pakistan has recently re-opened a vital supply line to NATO troops in Afghanistan - the so-called southern route. But, NATO forces also use another major thoroughfare.

The so-called northern route is a far more complex network of supply lines than the southern route, which relies merely on trucks transiting through Pakistan to provide military equipment to U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

Alexander Cooley is a Central Asian expert at Barnard College, New York.

“The northern route uses a mix of ship, road, rail and air. It’s not one route," Cooley stated. "It’s really a series of different routes that originate in the Baltic states, then come down via rail - old Soviet rails - through Russia, through Kazakhstan. Most of them pass through Uzbekistan and the border town of Termez.”

From Termez, the trucks pass over the “Friendship Bridge” into Afghanistan.

Seth Jones, an expert on Afghanistan with the RAND Corporation, says whether the supplies come by rail, air or truck, NATO and the United States must sign agreements with each country involved.

“In order for any material to come through any of the Central Asian governments, or Russia for that matter, they have to agree on specifics on how much those governments are going to make and any companies that are exporting or importing goods, how much they are going to make. So there are a lot of details that have to be agreed on both by the host nation as well as by any private companies that are involved in moving the goods,” explained Jones.

Experts say the exact terms and transit fees paid to each country remain classified. But they say given the complexity of the northern route, experts estimate it costs twice as much to ship supplies through that network than through the southern route.

However the northern route was the only way to ship supplies into Afghanistan for the past seven months. Pakistan shut down the southern route after a U.S.-led coalition air strike accidentally killed 24 Pakistani soldiers near the Afghanistan-Pakistan frontier last November. Islamabad recently re-opened it after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the U.S. is “sorry for the losses suffered by the Pakistani military.”

Analysts say both  southern and northern routes will also be used to move soldiers and equipment out of Afghanistan, as the United States and other NATO countries wind down their military presence in that country.

Alexander Cooley says the so-called “reverse transit” operation will be another source of revenue for the countries involved. “There is a perception that the drawdown is going to be a type of one-shot affair, that they can squeeze now, make increased demands for payments now with the understanding that NATO and the U.S. will just want to get the stuff out and will give in to these demands,” he said.

Many human rights organizations question whether the United States and NATO should rely on authoritarian countries for getting supplies in and ultimately soldiers out of Afghanistan.

Cooley says it is difficult to strike a balance between short-term military needs and long-term democratic aspirations.

“Over the last 10 years, Washington and Brussels [NATO Headquarters] have come to tone down criticism on so-called rights issues and also tone down engagement in other areas to focus primarily on the security and logistics cooperation," said Cooley. "In some way, Central Asia has been made an appendage to the Afghanistan war. And those in the advocacy community who look at questions of democracy and human rights, would like a little more honesty about Washington’s policy and view what has happened in Central Asia as also a political casualty of the Afghan war.”

Seth Jones from the RAND Corporation says there has been no major success, nor prospects of success, in establishing greater democratization across Central Asia.

Andre de Nesnera

Andre de Nesnera is senior analyst at the Voice of America, where he has reported on international affairs for more than three decades. Now serving in Washington D.C., he was previously senior European correspondent based in London, established VOA’s Geneva bureau in 1984 and in 1989 was the first VOA correspondent permanently accredited in the Soviet Union.

You May Like

UN Ambassador Power Highlights Plight of Women Prisoners

She launches the 'Free the 20' campaign, aimed at profiling women being deprived of their freedom around the world More

Satellite Launch Sparks Spectacular Light Show

A slight delay in a satellite launch lit up the Florida sky early this morning More

Fleeing IS Killings in Syria, Family Reaches Bavaria

Exhausted, scared and under-nourished, Khalil and Maha's tale mirrors those of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries who have left their homes in the hopes of finding a better life More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs