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In the first four months of its war on terrorism, the United States has given military support to several of the countries involved in its campaign in Afghanistan. Its post-September 11 aid can be divided into two types. It has used foreign military assistance 1) to advance its military goals in Afghanistan by supplying forces opposed to the Taliban, and 2) to reward countries that have offered political or military support for its campaign.

The United Front (or Northern Alliance)

The Afghan opposition coalition, which helped the United States bring down the Taliban government, has received the most deliveries of military equipment to date. After September 11, U.S. officials repeatedly said they would support the efforts of the United Front, also known as the Northern Alliance, to defeat the Taliban. "[W]e want to help those forces in the country that are anxious to get the Taliban and al Qaeda out of there," Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld stated on October 19.25 In mid-October, Rumsfeld announced that the United States had supplied the anti-Taliban forces with food, ammunition, and air support.26 After that, announcements of increased aid appeared regularly. According to Pentagon officials, nonlethal assistance included food for army horses, blankets, water, and cold-weather gear.27 U.S. planes airdropped ammunition requested by the United Front.28 At a press conference on November 6, Gen. Peter Pace acknowledged delivery of "weapons" as well as ammunition, but would not specify the types or quantities of arms.29 At the same press conference, Rumsfeld said that the U.S. military had supplied ammunition and supplies not only to the northern coalition of anti-Taliban fighters but also to southern opposition forces led by Hamid Karzai.30 According to a December 7 report by the Wall Street Journal, the Central Intelligence Agency had airlifted weapons and supplies to anti-Taliban troops around Kandahar.31 These shipments included Soviet-designed AK-47 assault weapons from CIA stocks; Afghani troops have used Russian weapons in the past and therefore prefer them.32 The flow of U.S. military assistance to Afghanistan is likely to continue, but Rumsfeld said aid to its new provisional government, which took control in late December, would be conditioned on maintaining peace.33

In addition to lethal and nonlethal equipment, the United States provided extensive air support to opposition forces fighting the Taliban on the ground. In October, Rumsfeld said the United States was coordinating particularly well with northern opposition troops.34 "Our effort would be to try to make them successful, to do things that are helpful to them so that they have the opportunity to move forward, as they are, toward Mazar-e-Sharif...,"35 he said at the time. The United States not only bombed Taliban front lines but also sent advisers to help coordinate attacks. According to United Front officials and journalist eyewitnesses, about a dozen civilian-clothed advisers arrived in mid-October to help organize the campaign to take the town of Mazar-i Sharif, which fell to the United Front on November 9.36 By November, U.S. Special Forces were "embedded in Northern Alliance elements," assisting with communications, military equipment delivery, and targeting for bombing missions, Rumsfeld said.37 The United States has also collaborated closely with anti-Taliban forces in the south. By late November, U.S. special operations troops had been in that region "for some time"38 calling in air support and providing arms and other supplies.39 With significant help from the U.S. bombing campaign in north and south, anti-Taliban forces had captured all but a few pockets of the country by the time the new interim government took control on December 22.

While the end of the abusive Taliban regime will have important consequences for human rights in Afghanistan, the victorious United Front and other opposition forces have a history of human rights abuses and international humanitarian law violations that the United States should consider when planning military assistance to the new government. During Afghanistan's long civil war, Afghan forces on all sides were implicated in summary executions, rapes, indiscriminate attacks on civilians, and large-scale pillage.40 Concerns about the post-September 11 conduct of anti-Taliban forces include reports of looting of private stores and humanitarian agency compounds and the summary execution of captured Taliban fighters in the immediate aftermath of the Taliban's collapse. The defense minister for the interim Afghan government, Gen. Qaseem Fahim, has announced plans to build a new national army and to demobilize about 500,000 of the estimated 700,000 armed fighters in the country. The United States should work with the Afghan interim government to ensure that respect for international humanitarian law be a primary criterion in recruiting this national army and its command, and that as far as possible past abusers be identified and screened out. In its counterterrorism operations, the United States should end direct military assistance to commanders who continue to commit abuses. 41

Central Asia: Uzbekistan and Tajikistan

In Central Asia, the United States has offered military assistance in exchange for political and military support, including the use of former Soviet bases. According to a Washington Post story that broke in October, the United States and Uzbekistan have secretly shared intelligence and conducted joint covert operations in an effort to capture Osama bin Laden since the 1998 embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania.42 The U.S. campaign in Afghanistan led to increased military relations between these two countries. At least one thousand U.S. troops from the 10th Mountain Division had moved into an Uzbek military base by mid-October.43 After meeting with Rumsfeld on his November trip to the region, Uzbek Minister of Defense Qodir Gulomov noted that his military had benefited from training and joint exercises with U.S. forces over the past several years and hinted that other types of aid might come in the future. Responding to a question about whether the United States would give lethal aid to Uzbekistan, Gulomov said, "I am confident that the kind of cooperation which is being developed now is characterized by a higher level, and consequently I am positive that the forms of our cooperation will change accordingly."44 Rumsfeld concurred with this interpretation of their meeting.45 Uzbekistan has an appalling human rights record that includes torture and extensive religious persecution.46 It also laid anti-personnel landmines along its borders with Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan in 2000 and 2001, causing civilian casualties in all three countries.47

The United States has pursued similar military assistance exchanges with Tajikistan. In early November, the United States negotiated with Tajikistan about the possibility of using three bases for U.S. planes involved in air strikes and humanitarian airdrops over Afghanistan. It sent in a team of experts to inspect the bases and reportedly promised tens of millions of dollars if it decided to use them.48 The United States took a significant step toward rewarding Tajikistan for its support when, as discussed above, the State Department lifted its eight-year-old arms sales restrictions in early January. The order states that the government will review requests to buy arms on a "case-by-case basis."49 A spokesman for the Tajik Defense Ministry said his government welcomed the decision to lift the ban.50 He added, however, that arms purchases were not Tajikistan's top priority because it did not have the money to buy them and its military will require training to use them.51 Such comments suggest that Tajikistan may ask the United States for foreign military financing and training in the near future. Like Uzbekistan, Tajikistan has an extensive history of human rights violations including torture, suppression of political opposition and the media, and arrests based on religion.52

South Asia: Pakistan and India

Having had sanctions against them lifted, both Pakistan and India stand to receive significant military assistance as a reward for supporting the U.S. war on terrorism. This assistance will likely come in the form of foreign military sales negotiated through the Defense Department. After President Bush lifted the nuclear-related sanctions allowing direct commercial sales, there was much speculation about what arms Pakistan would want to purchase. Reports said Pakistani officials would request new fighter aircraft and spare parts for older models, and possibly missile and artillery systems.53 On a mid-October trip to the region, Secretary of State Colin Powell said he would be willing to discuss sales as well as future military-to-military relations, such as training.54 The passage of Public Law 107-57, which lifted additional sanctions, paved the way for actual transfers. In early November, the United States agreed to provide US$73 million in aid for "border security," including six Apache helicopters and spare parts for F-16 fighter jets.55 On November 9, during an official visit to the United States, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf said he sought further "`visible gestures' of gratitude" for his country's decision to support the U.S. campaign in Afghanistan. He asked President Bush to deliver twenty-eight F-16 fighter jets Pakistan purchased in the 1980s but never received because Congress cut off all military sales in 1990 after learning Pakistan was secretly developing nuclear weapons.56 The United States rejected Musharraf's request for the F-16s, claiming the transfer might destabilize South Asia.57

India initially complained that the United States had given a disproportionate amount of its post-September 11 military assistance to Pakistan, but in early November the United States demonstrated a willingness to collaborate with India as well. At a November 5 joint press conference with India's Minister of Defense George Fernandes, Rumsfeld said the United States would be sending officials to work out the details of military cooperation with India. "[T]hey will be discussing ways that we can establish the linkages between our two countries from the standpoint of military exchanges and training and various educational opportunities, and other aspects of the relationship," he said.58 U.S. Ambassador to India Robert Blackwill reiterated Rumsfeld's support at a press conference on November 21. "We now anticipate a conclusive acceleration in defense cooperation. It will include arms sales, joint army exercises, and military-to-military cooperation that happens between very good friends," Blackwill said.59 The next week Adm. Dennis Blair, commander-in-chief of the U.S. Pacific Command, met with Fernandes and Indian military officials to discuss joint exercises, military training, and counterterrorism cooperation.60 Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith arrived in New Delhi during the first week of December to hold further strategic discussions with Indian officials.61 On December 4, the United States agreed to expedite its review of India's military equipment priorities, including radars and light combat aircraft components.62

The United States should consider the human rights records of Pakistan and India as it renews its military assistance relations with these countries. Pakistani President Musharraf continues to consolidate the army's control over the government following the October 1999 coup and took steps in 2001 to all but ensure that the government would continue to operate under military tutelage. In the process, authorities arrested leaders of religious parties who challenged his authority, kept in force a ban on political rallies, and detained thousands of party members and activists to head off protests against continued military rule.63 Abuses in India include systematic discrimination and violence against Dalit ("untouchable") communities, arbitrary arrests and torture, and attacks and legal restrictions on nongovernmental organizations and human rights activists. In the contested region of Kashmir, where violence has escalated, Indian security personnel targeted Muslim citizens suspected of supporting guerrillas, and arbitrary arrests, torture, and staged "encounter killings"-extrajudicial executions-were reported throughout the year.64

25 "Secretary Rumsfeld Media Availability En Route to Whiteman," U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) News Transcript, October 19, 2001.

26 Ibid.

27 "DoD News Briefing-Secretary Rumsfeld and General Pace," U.S. DoD Defense News Transcript, November 6, 2001; "General Myers Interview with Meet the Press, NBC TV," U.S. DoD News Transcript, November 4, 2001.

28 "DoD News Briefing-Secretary Rumsfeld and General Myers," U.S. DoD News Transcript, October 29, 2001.

29 "DoD News Briefing-Secretary Rumsfeld and General Pace," U.S. DoD News Transcript, November 6, 2001.

30 Ibid.

31 David S. Cloud, "CIA Supplies Anti-Taliban Forces in South," Wall Street Journal, December 7, 2001. Earlier press articles bolster this report. About three weeks after the September attacks on New York and Washington, the Washington Post reported that President Bush had bypassed the more public forms of military assistance discussed above and signed an order authorizing covert aid to the United Front. Susan B. Glasser, "Northern Alliance Expects U.S. Aid Soon: Anti-Taliban Forces See Delivery of Military Support Within a Month," Washington Post Foreign Service wire, October 2, 2001.

32 Cloud, "CIA Supplies Anti-Taliban Forces in South." Russia has also provided between US$40 million and $70 million in military assistance to the Afghanistan opposition; its equipment deliveries include Soviet-era T-55 tanks, armored vehicles, helicopters, and infantry weapons. Veniamin Ginodman, "Renaissance of Council for Mutual Economic Assistance," (Moscow), October 11, 2001, in Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS), document number CEP20011011000173. Several unconfirmed press accounts say that the United States or Great Britain paid for some of the Russian-supplied arms. The Boston Globe, for example, said a U.S. intelligence source and a Northern Alliance source confirmed U.S. funding of Russian arms transfers to the United Front. "Turning the Tide in Afghanistan as War Unfolded, US Strategy Evolved," Boston Globe, December 31, 2001. See also Ginodman, "Renaissance of Council for Mutual Economic Assistance"; Artyom Vernidoub, "Afghan War Profitable for Russian Arms Industry,", October 29, 2001. Rumsfeld denied these reports saying, "The Russians are providing assistance of their own. We have not engaged in any arrangement to that effect, to my knowledge." "DoD News Briefing-Secretary Rumsfeld and General Myers," U.S. DoD News Transcript, October 29, 2001.

33 "Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld Wraps Up Visit to Central Asia," Good Morning America broadcast transcript, December 17, 2001.

34 "Secretary Rumsfeld Media Availability En Route to Whiteman," U.S. DoD News Transcript, October 19, 2001.

35 "DoD News Briefing-Secretary Rumsfeld and General Myers," U.S. DoD News Transcript, October 18, 2001.

36 Anna Badkhen, "Afghan Rebels Have Bark but Little Bite: Poorly Trained, Ill-Equipped and Calling for More Help," San Francisco Chronicle, October 23, 2001.

37 "Secretary Rumsfeld Media Availability at Great Lakes, Illinois," U.S. DoD News Transcript, November 16, 2001.

38 "DoD News Briefing-Secretary Rumsfeld and General Franks," U.S. DoD News Transcript, November 27, 2001.

39 "DoD News Briefing-Secretary Rumsfeld and General Franks," U.S. DoD News Transcript, November 15, 2001.

40 Human Rights Watch, "Military Assistance to the Afghan Opposition," A Human Rights Watch Backgrounder, October 5, 2001.

41 Ibid. See also Human Rights Watch, "Crisis of Impunity: The Role of Pakistan, Russian, and Iran in Fueling the Civil War in Afghanistan," A Human Rights Watch Report, vol. 13, no. 3(C), July 2001; Human Rights Watch, World Report 2000 (New York: Human Rights Watch, 1999), pp. 166-69; Human Rights Watch, "Afghanistan: The Massacre in Mazar-i Sharif," A Human Rights Watch Report, vol. 10, no. 7 (C), November 1998.

42 Thomas E. Ricks and Susan B. Glasser, "U.S. Operated Secret Alliance with Uzbekistan," Washington Post, October 14, 2001.

43 Ibid.

44 "Media Availability with Uzbek Minister of Defense Qodir Gholomov," U.S. DoD News Transcript, November 4, 2001. The DoD transliterated Gulomov's name as "Gholomov," but both names refer to the same person.

45 Ibid. The United States also signed a $6 million agreement to help clean up a former Soviet anthrax test site in Uzbekistan. "U.S. Agrees [to] Anthrax Deal with Uzbekistan,", October 23, 2001, at (accessed December 18, 2001).

46 Human Rights Watch, "Human Rights Abuses in Uzbekistan," A Human Rights Watch Backgrounder, September 26, 2001. See also Human Rights Watch, World Report 2002 (New York: Human Rights Watch, 2002), p. 370-78; Human Rights Watch, World Report 2001 (New York: Human Rights Watch, 2000), pp. 335-42; Human Rights Watch, "`And It Was Hell All Over Again . . .': Torture in Uzbekistan," A Human Rights Watch Report, vol. 12, no. 12(D), December 2000; Human Rights Watch, "Uzbekistan: Leaving No Witnesses: Uzbekistan's Campaign Against Rights Defenders," A Human Rights Watch Report, vol. 12, no. 4 (D), March 2000; Human Rights Watch, "Uzbekistan: Class Dismissed: Discriminatory Expulsions of Muslim Students," A Human Rights Watch Report, vol. 11, no. 12 (D), October 1999; Human Rights Watch, "Republic of Uzbekistan: Crackdown in the Farghona Valley: Arbitrary Arrests and Religious Discrimination," A Human Rights Watch Report, vol. 10, no. 4(D), May 1998.

47 International Campaign to Ban Landmines, Landmine Monitor Report 2001 (New York: Human Rights Watch, 2001), p. 915.

48 Michael R. Gordon and C.J. Chivers, "Tajikistan, U.S. Make Military Deal," San Diego Union-Tribune, November 5, 2001.

49 Federal Register, vol. 76, p. 1073, January 9, 2002.

50 "Tajik Ministry Welcomes US Decision To Lift Ban from Arms Sale to Tajikistan."

51 Ibid.

52 Human Rights Watch, "Press Backgrounder on Tajikistan," A Human Rights Watch Backgrounder, October 5, 2001. See also Human Rights Watch, World Report 2002, p. 352-56; Human Rights Watch, World Report 2001, pp. 322-25; Human Rights Watch, "Tajikistan: Freedom of Expression Still Threatened," A Human Rights Watch Report, vol. 11, no. 14 (D), November 1999; Human Rights Watch, "Tajikistan: Leninabad: Crackdown in the North," A Human Rights Watch Report, vol. 10, no. 2 (D), April 1998.

53 Mohammed Ahmedullah, "Pakistan Seeks U.S. Weapons for Anti-Terror Partnership," Defense Week, October 22, 2001.

54 Secretary Colin L. Powell, "Press Briefing on Board Plane En Route [to] Pakistan," October 15, 2001.

55 "US To Provide Pakistan Helicopters, F-16 Parts," Dow Jones International News, November 10, 2001.

56 Serge Schmemann and Patrick E. Tyler, "Pakistani Leader Seeks `Gestures' for Backing U.S.," New York Times, November 10, 2001.

57 Eric Schmitt, "U.S. Says Aid to Pakistan Won't Include F-16 Fighters," New York Times, November 13, 2001.

58 "Secretary Rumsfeld Media Availability with Minister of Defense of India," U.S. DoD News Transcript, November 5, 2001.

59 Uttara Choudhury, "Indo-US Military Cooperation To Strengthen," Agence France-Presse, November 21, 2001.

60 Neelish Misra, "Commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet in India To Boost Defense Ties," Associated Press, November 28, 2001.

61 Uttara Choudhury, "India, US Share Common Goals on Afghanistan," Agence France-Presse, December 4, 2001.

62 "India, United States Outline Ambitious Defense Partnership," Associated Press Newswires, December 4, 2001.

63 For more information human rights abuses in Pakistan, see Human Rights Watch, World Report 2002, p. 245-51; Human Rights Watch, World Report 2001, pp. 212-17; Human Rights Watch, Reform or Repression?: Post-Coup Abuses in Pakistan (New York: Human Rights Watch, 2000); Human Rights Watch, Prison Bound: The Denial of Juvenile Justice in Pakistan, (New York: Human Rights Watch, 1999); Human Rights Watch, Crime or Custom?: Violence Against Women in Pakistan (New York: Human Rights Watch, 1999).

64 For more information on human rights abuses in India, see Human Rights Watch, World Report, p. 221-29; Human Rights Watch, World Report 2001, pp. 196-201; Human Rights Watch, "India: Politics by Other Means: Attacks Against Christians in India," A Human Rights Watch Report, vol. 11, no. 6 (C), October 1999; Human Rights Watch, "Beyond the Kashmir Conflict: Abuses by Indian Security Forces and Militant Groups Continue," A Human Rights Watch Report, vol. 11, no. 4(C), July 1999; Human Rights Watch, Broken People: Caste Violence Against India's "Untouchables" (New York: Human Rights Watch, 1999).

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