McCain Mission’s Playbook?

by Laurence on 5/31/2005 · 1 comment

After searching the web with Google and finding this item on “The Uzbekistan Dilemma”, I wonder if senators McCain, Graham and Sununu might be acting on the basis of this memo by Heritage Foundation expert Ariel Cohen, published on May 13, 2005:

The United States has strategic interests in Uzbekistan and should follow the situation closely. The country was a key ally in the 2001 Operation Enduring Freedom that liberated Afghanistan. A U.S. air force base in Khanabad is just one of the American sites in the country. Islamists use the U.S. presence to agitate against America and the West. They also attack Karimov for maintaining diplomatic relations with Israel.

Russia and possibly Western powers and international organizations will think twice before aiding Karimov to quell the revolt. Meanwhile, China and Kazakhstan, with its oil riches, are nervously watching developments in Andijan. All should keep a close watch, at the least. Uzbekistan’s falling into the hands of the Islamists will cause a geopolitical shift in Central Asia and endanger both U.S. and Russian interests there. In the long run, radical Islamist strategists believe that Central Asia, with its Soviet-educated technical personnel and ample natural resources–including gold, oil and gas, uranium, and globally competitive cotton production–will emerge as a militarized Muslim state. They foresee it as a territorial base of jihad against the West.

To avoid that catastrophic outcome, Uzbekistan’s neighbors and the United States, Russia, China, European Union, OSCE, and the United Nations should prod Karimov to find a way out of the current crisis. This may include legalizing political parties, giving opposition access to the media, and scheduling elections. Parliamentary elections could take place before presidential ones, and Mr. Karimov should be encouraged to transfer power thereafter.

To avoid the political expansion of radical Islam, it is important that the people of Uzbekistan have hope and that the country open itself to modernization. But the time left for Uzbekistan to change course may be running out. Decisive action is needed now.

After reading this, it sounds like the delegation of American senators might have been in Uzbekistan to pick America’s choice to succeed Karimov. No wonder he didn’t want to meet with them. So, I’d say maybe he’s not deaf, dumb, or blind…

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{ 1 comment }

Nathan May 31, 2005 at 6:41 am

Which is true if you ignore what I said his government is ignoring.

And if they were there to pick a successor, let’s have more than just “it sounds like” for evidence. The US has been pretty clear that it doesn’t see any practical alternatives.

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