Daily Kos
Political analysis and other daily rants on the state of the nation

Monday | March 31, 2003

Just like Saddam (if not worse), but our ally

[I ran this post last Thursday, right before this site crashed. I'm rerunning it for the sake of all the yahoos who think we're attacking Iraq for "freedom" and "democracy" and to oust a "brutal regime".]

Given our current efforts on behalf of freedom and democracy, it's curious to see this following fellow as a proud member of Bush's "Coalition of the Willing".

IIRC is deeply concerned at the severity of the political repression in Uzbekistan. Arbitrary arrests, evidence of systematic torture and the obliteration of any political opposition are key features of this repression.

Brief background: Uzbekistan is a 90%+ Muslim country. Since independence, a dictatorial regime under the autocrat President Islam Karimov, has presided.

Characteristic of Uzbekistan has been its enduring economic crisis, non-existent civil society, and ongoing tensions with neighbouring countries. Public disaffection over the massive rise in poverty, manifested in demonstrations has elicited government crackdowns. Adjacent to this has been the virtual strangling of the press, with the denial of freedom of expression and the banning of political opposition groups, accompanied by the arrest of prominent political opposition figures.


Torture has become the language of detention.

Repression of Political Opposition: Uzbekistan is an authoritarian state. Karimov has attempted to install himself as ‘President for Life’, a throw back to the era of Soviet-style personality cults. Independent political groups are prohibited. Opposition to the government has been decimated. Constitutional mechanisms place restrictions on the formation of political parties.

So what makes Karimov so freedom loving that he gets to hang out in Bush's club of willing "free" nations?

One word: oil.

Central Asia, especially Uzbekistan, occupies centrality in US foreign policy. The Caspian Basin represents the biggest oil bonanza on earth. This region can alone guarantee US/Western energy security over the next ten to fifteen years and reduce dependency on the Middle East. It is this which drives US policy, taking priority over any other operating commercial consideration.

The US government envisages Uzbekistan as a strategic, long term partner in its ambitions to assert control over Central Asia. This endorsement has increased since 9/11. With the Afghanistan campaign, the US established a military presence, which it retains. Uzbekistan’s proximity to Afghanistan is important to the US. As part of its plans for consolidation in the area, the US wishes to establish a pipeline to carry gas from Turkmenistan and the boarder Caspian Basin through Afghanistan. To aid this, the US administration has enacted bilateral agreements with Karimnov’s regime, with the commitment to provide aid of $100 million. This aid incorporates a military component, with a commitment to further aid to bolster the regime. However, aspects of this bilateral agreement have been kept secret. (Emphasis are mine.)

Dealings, arm sales, and oil. Were have we heard this story before?

Posted March 31, 2003 12:14 AM | Comments (91)


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