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
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Algerians Vote in Presidential Election

There were few media reports of protests and clashes around the country, but so far no significant violence More

Sharks More Evolved than Previously Thought

The discovery could “profoundly affect our understanding of evolutionary history” More

Pakistan Military Asked to Protect Polio Workers

Request comes as authorities say a Taliban ban on vaccinations in 2012 and deadly attacks on anti-polio teams have prevented thousands of children from getting inoculated 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.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid