Even though there are historic and cultural roots with Iran, Uzbekistan's political and military alliance is limited by increased relations with the United States. The Shanghai Cooperative Organization permits Uzbekistan to be a member with Iran being an observer creates a symposium of economic dealings that both countries are using as leverage with each other. Data supplied to ALU scholars from CSIS (Anthony Cordesman), and the University of Baltimore (Ivan Sascha Sheehan), provided the imputus for their analysis. Expansion of the Uzbek-Iran relationship was encouraged by Iranian First Vice President Mohammed Reza Rahimi in a meeting in April 2010; although he mentioned the political and diplomatic relations have not met the level of bilateral economic interaction. Trade history statistics between the two countries amounted to, 1) trade turnover exceeded $700 million in 2008, 2) $609 million in 2010, 3) the transportation corridor between the countries will boost trade about 60 percent to 1 billion, and 4) 2011 saw trade reach $125 million in the first quarter. Iran volunteered mediation to ease tensions between Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, who were quarreling over the former's Roghun hydroelectric project which is diverting much needed water from the country (Uzbekistan is a major exporter of cotton). One main area of tension was that Tashkent would not allow rail cars bound for Tajikistan to pass through it's territory undelayed; in which the Iranian state railroad replied with threats to halt all the Turkmen rail freight transiting the Islamic Republic bound for Uzbekistan-holding over 2000 Tajik rail cars (Uzbek railway's Andrey Tropin alleges). Prior to the ultimatum (2 months), which affects 150 freight cars per day, the delayed passage of Iranian cargo by Uzbekistan is in opposition to Tajikistan's construction of the Sangtuda-2 dam. Uzbekistan has remained neutral over the Iranian nuclear enrichment and United Nations Security Council resolutions. Uzbek President Islam Karimov still maintained a diplomatic stance over military strikes targeting Iran's nuclear facilities. With Uzbekistan playing a pivotal role in the Northern Distribution Network, draws US interest, however it has it's problems. Iran is not on the same par with strategic and diplomatic relations that the US has, however it has vibrant ties; causing an uneasy alliance with the US. Having geographical position within the region, it can dictate specific terms to the US and Iran. Being a military transit and supply port for operations in Afghanistan, the US-Uzbek relations are smooth, and can be seperated from US payments and aid directly connected to US combat operations in Afghanistan. US lawmakers are reframing protocol to work on payments within the area of the Northern Distribution Network will act as a stimulus for development and will boost relations with Uzbekistan. The closure of the K2 base indicates that the country will go to lengths to maintain it's autonomony. US interess are served through the Northern District Network and service agreements; but the Obama administration needs to verify base related payments and contracts to help maintain economic growth and democratization. The Pentagon needs to evaluate the distribution of funds for base rents, supplies and transport infrastructure go to pay their taxes and benefit their state institutions and not patronage networks operating behind state structures.The Obama Administration needs to work with Uzbekistan on it's human rights record, making it walk on a tightrope with the country's closeness to the War in Afghanistan. ALU scholar suggestions are, 1) Iran has been performing the job of mediation for Uzbek-Tajik easing tensions-US needs to see how they can help, 2) have the UN draft a motion to let other countries come in to help with the human rights issue, 3) after the US pullout, Iran may be able to access the Northern Distribution Network and the K2 base and use it for it's transportion system for the reconstruction of Afghanistan to their advantage, 4) Uzbekistan may us the infrastructure to further it's aims, 5) with the US not being able to play a major role or provide payments and aid, Iran can step in and pick up the pieces forcing the US to play catchup (US-Iran competition), 6) US and Iran will reevaluate their strategic interests after the War in Afghanistan in the Central Asian region, 7) Iran should seek membership in the Shanghai Cooperative Organization, 8) the United Nations to check to see if the reason the railcars were being detained by Uzbekistan was not because of nuclear materials transport, or illegal substances, 9) since their seperation from the former USSR, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan need to move towards alternative policies other than what they are used to, 10) the US could appoint a regional Central Asian Diplomatic Director (General David Petraeus) to this position to have overall diplomatic control, monitor security, US interest, and the like because of his winning attitude, subjective approach to negotiations, and Irans receptivity to his political approach. He can also negotiate, on behalf of the US with the Shanghai Cooperative Organization. .
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