January 30, 2008

Uzbek Strongman Has Powerful Friends Again

Western nations are once again making diplomatic overtures to Uzbekistan, despite the former Soviet republic’s dismal human rights record.

Admiral William Fallon, of the U.S. Central Command, visited the Central Asian nation’s capital last week, and European officials have also made the trip in recent weeks.

The Organization for Cooperation and Security in Europe congratulated President Islam Kamirov on his victory in last month’s elections, despite the fact that it said the vote was unfair.

Uzbekistan’s location bordering Afghanistan makes it an important player in the United States’ war on terrorism, but Western nations pulled away from Kamirov’s government in 2005 after troops fired on peaceful protestors in the Uzbek city of Andijon.

Hundreds of people were reportedly killed in that incident.

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, which is funded by the U.S. Congress, quoted Ismoil Dadajanov, an Uzbek activist living in exile, denouncing the rapprochement between the West and Kamirov: “It will lead to the strengthening of Uzbekistan’s dictatorship and terrorist threats in the world in general because people will think: ‘If Western democracies support Islam Karimov, it means democracy is alien to us.'”

Meanwhile, the Boston Globe reported that strained relations since 2005 have stalled a deal to provide electricity from Uzbekistan to Afghanistan, which suffers from severe power shortages.

–Will Crain/Newsdesk.org

Sources:

“Uzbekistan: Rights Activists Decry Signs Of Western Rapprochement”
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, January 27, 2008

“Kabul gets only 3 hours of electricity a day”
Boston Globe, January 27, 2008

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