Sunday, August 2, 2009

Obama courts world's worst human rights abusers in fight against Taliban

A dangerous game. Those who subscribe to the foolish notion that
"the enemy of my enemy is my friend" have often found that the new
friend does not consider the friendship mutual. "Barack Obama courts
human rights abusers in Taliban fight," by Richard Spencer in the
Telegraph, July 31 (thanks to Alan of England):

President Barack Obama is resurrecting relations with some of the
world's worst human rights abusers in Central Asia as he attempts
to secure new allies in the fight against the Taliban.

In a repeat of the 19th Century "Great Game", when the Russians
and British competed for relations with Muslim leaders on the out-
posts of their empires, Mr Obama's envoys are scuttling between the
palaces of Central Asia's post-Soviet dictators.

In the last three months, Mr Obama has cut deals with Presidents
Islam Karimov of Uzbekistan and Kurmanbek Bakiyev of Kyrgyzs-
tan. Mr Karimov has been accused by a former British ambassador
of ordering two opponents boiled alive. One of Mr Bakiyev's critics
was recently stabbed 26 times in the buttocks by unknown assailants.

US diplomats have also paid calls on Ashgabad, the capital of Turk-
menistan, a country still reeling from the personality cult of "Turk-
menbashi", as the late President Sapurmurat Niyazov styled himself
during his eccentric 19-year rule.

"The United States is fixated by Afghan issues and does not care if it
supports dictators," Tashbulat Yuldashev, a former Uzbek government
official turned dissident told The Telegraph.

He fled Uzbekistan last year under threat from gangs of heavies after
criticising Mr Karimov, president since the fall of the Soviet Union
eighteen years ago.

Mr Obama has brought a new pragmatism to foreign policy, disappoint-
ing those who expected his liberal idealism to dominate all aspects of his

That pragmatism is now being employed on one of the great diplomatic
battlegrounds of history: the Silk Road through Central Asia, for decades
closed off as part of the Soviet Union but now once again open to the ex-
change of goods, people – and unrest.

In the Fergana Valley, which straddles Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan and
is close to Afghanistan, Islamic militants have found ready recruiting
grounds in the hundreds of thousands of migrant workers who have lost
their jobs in the financial crisis.

Nine jihadists were killed in gun-battles near the city of Osh, on the
Kyrgyz side of the border in June alone, while Uzbek identity cards
have been found on dead Taliban fighters in Pakistan....

Posted by Robert at August 1, 2009 5:33 AM

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