Sunday, May 22, 2005

Strange bedfellows

There's growing evidence that the Uzbekistan government is a very nasty regime. Over the last couple weeks there were mass protests, followed by a mass government killing of the protesters, that killed over 1000 people. There's brutal interrogation and imprisonment tactics. And, the UN is demanding an investigation. etc.

If this were Iraq, the U.S. would be harumphing up a storm and demanding regime change. Well, that's what you would believe from the statements made by our President leading to the Iraq war. Yet, in the case of Uzbekistan, we're not only sending aid to that country, we're keeping troops in the country, and we're providing shielding for them in the UN.

Karimov escapes regime change as America pursues the ‘great game’ (22 May 2005, By Trevor Royle, Diplomatic Editor)

A GLANCE at the map confirms the strategic importance of Uzbekistan, not just in regional terms but also as it is viewed from Washington.

To the south and southwest are Afghanistan and Iran, a fact which inspired President Islam Karimov to push himself into contention as a useful ally in President Bush’s war on terror.

The US operates an air base with 1000 ground troops at Khanabad outside the Uzbek capital Tashkent. The former Soviet facility is used for operations in Afghanistan, and to date the US has supplied the country with some $800 million in military and humanitarian aid.

More to the point, Uzbekistan has a key role to play in supporting Washington’s wider interests. Khanabad is part of the ring of air force bases, or “lily pads


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