AP: US-Trained Units in Andijan Killings

by Laurence on 5/31/2005 · 1 comment

Burt Herman’s article says some Uzbek soldiers were trained in America:

At the Andijan police headquarters, the masked guard wearing blue-and-gray urban camouflage said he was an intelligence officer with the Kalkon unit, meaning “Shield.”

Seeing a foreign reporter, he briefly reminisced about training in the United States, where lessons were first translated into Russian, but because not everyone could understand, an Uzbek speaker from Tashkent was later summoned.

Uzbekistan has been a key ally in the war on terror, providing a base for American troops for operations in neighboring Afghanistan. But even before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the U.S. government provided training and equipment to Uzbek troops and police.

Human rights groups, according to Herman, are calling for an end to US military aid, as Uzbekistan attempts to negotiate a base renewal agreement with the US military.

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{ 1 comment }

jonathan p May 31, 2005 at 6:38 pm

Pardon me for going off, but I’m in that sort of mood (besides, I don’t do it too often): 😉

Why oh why does every single American news story on Uzbekistan continue to include the exact phrase “key ally in the war on terror” in conjunction with that country?

I work for a newspaper and I understand the shortcuts of newswriting, but geez! Key ally?!? What has Uz ever done to help in the “war on terror” besides make a boatload of money by allowing the US to use a couple of decades-old (or older) piece-of-crap bases on their soil in exchange for 100s of millions of dollars in “aid,” free training for their own elite corps of orphan-warriors, and much more?

And now, the Uz government has worsened things in terms of the possibility for terror in the region by fueling more discontent and resentment; creating an atmosphere of rumor, fear and suspicion; and giving the enemies of the United States — and those on the fence — more reason to find it guilty by association due to its relationship with Karimov as a “key” military ally.

American military funding of Uz in no way helped the US or the “war on terror” in this situation. Besides, if Karimov wants to eliminate a group of his own people, he is more than willing and very able to do so with or without US assistance.

What possible justification remains for the United States to further fund Uz militarily?

What external threat to Uzbekistan’s stability remains that Karimov could not handle at this point? (And even if he couldn’t, Bush, Putin, NATO, etc., could do it easily with a relatively small force. Nobody wants instability here and everybody has money to make in the region. In short, no one is going to let anything remotely Islamist happen in Central Asia.)

With that said, what INTERNAL threat to stability in Uzbekistan remains that Karimov can not crush and that continued US military aid will not further exacerbate?

Continued military support of Karimov by the United States only weakens its position in Central Asia in the long term by further undermining its reputation. The US only proves its enemies right by providing Karimov with more tools for violent suppression.

I am not naive enough to think that Karimov can’t find other means of military aid (China seems to be his latest best friend, and I’m sure China will be more than willing to supply Karimov with whatever he desires). But what in the world is the United States (the self-proclaimed bastion of freedom and democracy) doing in continuing to refer to Karimov as an “ally” and continuing to fund him militarily?

Some might say that our support of Karimov is a necessary part of a chess match we are playing with China and Russia over who will exert the most infuence in the region … and if we shun Karimov we will tilt the balance of power in favor of Russia and/or China. That’s all well and good but, historically, when our “influence” has made us guilty of supporting a dictator, it has often led to our disadvantage in the longterm (The Shah in Iran, Saddam in Iraq, the Somozas in Nicaragua, Marcos in the Phillipines, Pinochet in Chile, Mobutu in Zaire, Noriega in Panama, Batista in Cuba, etc.).

That should do it for now.

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