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Friday, September 9, 2011

Uzbekistan: Recent Developments and U.S. Interests

Jim Nichol
Specialist in Russian and Eurasian Affairs

Uzbekistan gained independence at the end of 1991 with the breakup of the Soviet Union. The landlocked country is a potential Central Asian regional power by virtue of its population, the largest in the region, its substantial energy and other resources, and its location at the heart of regional trade and transport networks. The existing president, Islam Karimov, retained his post following the country’s independence, and was reelected in 2000 and 2007. He has pursued a policy of cautiously opening the country to economic and political reforms, and many observers have criticized Uzbekistan’s human rights record.

The United States pursued close ties with Uzbekistan following its independence. After the terrorist attacks on the United States in September 2001, Uzbekistan offered over-flight and basing rights to U.S. and coalition forces. However, U.S. basing rights at Karshi-Khanabad were terminated in 2005 following U.S. criticism and other actions related to the Karimov government’s allegedly violent crackdown on unrest in the southern city of Andijon. Since then, the United States has attempted to improve relations, particularly in support of operations in Afghanistan. In 2009, Uzbekistan began to participate in the Northern Distribution Network of land, sea, and air transit routes from Europe through Eurasia for the supply of goods for U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

Cumulative U.S. assistance budgeted for Uzbekistan in FY1992-FY2009 was $934.0 million (all agencies and programs). Of this aid, $321 million (over one-third) was budgeted for combating weapons of mass destruction (including Comprehensive Threat Reduction aid) or for Foreign Military Financing. Food, health, and other social welfare and humanitarian aid accounted for $220 million (nearly one-fourth), and democratization aid accounted for $168 million (nearly one-fifth). Budgeted assistance was $12.0 million in FY2010 and an estimated $11.3 million in FY2011, and the Administration has requested $11.8 million for FY2012 (numbers include funds from the Assistance for Eastern Europe, Eurasia, and Central Asia Account and other “Function 150” foreign aid, and exclude Defense and Energy Department funds). The main priorities of U.S. assistance requested for FY2012 are planned to be health, education, agriculture, and trade, including efforts to encourage trade to support U.S. and NATO operations in Afghanistan.

These areas of assistance are permitted under provisions that otherwise limit U.S. aid to Uzbekistan. Since FY2003 (P.L. 108-7), Congress has prohibited foreign assistance to the government of Uzbekistan unless the Secretary of State determines and reports that Uzbekistan is making substantial progress in meeting commitments to respect human rights, establish a multiparty system, and ensure free and fair elections, freedom of expression, and the independence of the media. In FY2008, Congress added a provision blocking Uzbek government officials from entering the United States if they are deemed to have been responsible for events in Andijon or to have violated other human rights.

Date of Report: August 3
1, 2011
Number of Pages:
Order Number: R
Price: $29.95

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