If one wanted to give George Bush the benefit of the doubt about his sermon-ish and idealistic inaugural address, then one of the first fronts of reform in U.S. foreign policy must be our relations with Uzbekistan and Islam Karimov, one of the true monstrous cretins at the helm of a government today.
America gave Uzbekistan $500 million to secure basing rights in this country — and much of that money is allegedly being siponed into the private accounts of Karimov’s thuggish allies. We have evidence that Karimov killed several, if not many more, of his political adversaries by boiling them alive in water. (Here is some evidence — but do not look at these if disturbed by graphic images; these are pretty disturbing.) He is a dictator of gross proportions — but he is still an ally of the United States in the war against terror.
According to this report, Karimov is now applying extra-territorial penalties on human rights and aid groups for ‘his perception’ of their activities in Georgia and Ukraine.
From the AP report:
Uzbek president Islam Karimov on Friday threatened to restrict the activities of Western aid groups that he alleged had helped stage public protests in Georgia and Ukraine, and voiced hope that the neighboring Central Asian nation of Kyrgyzstan would avoid such events in its election year.
“Examination of some Western aid groups has shown that their activity goes far beyond declared programs and it aims at certain goals,” Karimov said in a speech before the newly elected parliament.
“We have enough power to curb the aid groups that violate our laws, I hope those sitting at the balcony understand that,” Karimov said, pointing to the place where Western diplomats sit.
Last year, the Uzbek authorities accused U.S. aid groups of interfering in the country’s internal affairs by helping banned opposition organizations, and they tightened restrictions on foreign aid groups, shutting the office of American philanthropist George Soros’ Open Society Institute for alleged anticonstitutional activity.
The Karimov government does not allow free press or independent political opposition to operate in Uzbekistan.
Here is my note to TWN readers — particularly any U.S. military stationed in Uzbekistan — as well as aid workers and NGO employees who work in the country.
I would really like to know the true extent of our aid and involvement with Uzbekistan. Post a note and share what you know — or better yet, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I have tried to do some quick scans of DoD and government websites, and it seems that in some cases we have programs with Uzbekistan, but the news sometimes indicates that some of this is on hold.
Karimov is the kind of character that Saddam Hussein was a couple of decades ago — someone whom the U.S. knew was a criminal thug but helped build up anyway because it appeared to be in our short-term interests. Karimov could be a real problem for us down the road — and we will find that we armed him and made his party bosses rich.
Even one of our flagship U.S. firms, Coca-Cola, is in cahoots with Karimov. Check out this strange and bizarre story that involves the ex-son-in-law of Karimov and his ownership of a Coca-Cola operation. I imagine that anyone that makes it up the ladder in that country must be used to operating and prevailing in a place where the norm is to destroy your enemies. But Coca-Cola dumped the owner and became the lap dog of Karimov and his goons in one night.
While this story came out in August 2001 — I checked, and it’s still raging. So, I would like to hear some arguments from reasonable people why America should not cut off Karimov totally — and whether we ought not to hold firms like Coca-Cola accountable for their role in enriching the world’s thugs.
— Steve Clemons