Thursday 9 August 2012

Cosy chats with Karimov? I don't think so

Odd to see Sarah Chayes at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace advocating cosy chats with Uzbekistan's murderous Karimov regime to discuss post-2014 Afghanistan.
"U.S. policymakers might do well to take time to listen to how Uzbeks see events in Afghanistan playing out, and perhaps to base some contingency planning of their own on the insights. Uzbeks’ relationships and potential leverage with key Afghan interlocutors are also precious assets. What about some quiet meetings in Tashkent with Afghans and Uzbeks, to brainstorm creative ways out of a presaged implosion?", she says.
With the intermittent closure of the supply routes through Pakistan to Afghanistan, the US has been forced to rely on resupplying its troops via Uzbekistan and this has seen a degree of pragmatic engagement between the two countries. General Petraeus visited in 2009 and other senior bureaucrats have made the trip, presumably holding their noses as they did so. As recently as June this year Deputy Secretary Bill Burns visited Uzbekistan to discuss security issues, including Afghanistan.
But no-one can seriously believe that it is in US interests to go into partnership with Karimov and his kleptomaniac daughter Gulnara Karimova.
No-one in their right mind can ignore the fact that the Karimov regime is one of the most brutal in the world. Ms Chayes would do well to read any recent Amnesty International or Human Rights Watch report on the country. And if that's not good enough she could try the leaked US diplomatic cables on the Wikileaks site, one of which described the country as "a nightmarish world of rampant corruption, organised crime, forced labour in the cotton fields, and torture". Karimova was described as "the single most hated person in the country".
The latest Congressional Research Service report Uzbekistan: Recent Developments and US Interests, published last week, says pretty much the same thing. Think again, Carnegie.

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