Virtuallu unnoticed, last week’s EU summit lifted the arms embargo and travel ban on the murderous Karimov regime in Uzbekistan. So now British arms manufacturers can sell arms for Karimov to use against his people again. Indeed, British troops may return to Uzbekistan to teach Karimov’s thugs “Marksmanship”, as they did before the Andijan massacre which killed over 700 peaceful demonstrators in 2005.
There have been no improvements in human rights in Uzbekistan. There remains no freedom of speech, assembly, movement or religion. Thousands of political prisoners slave in the gulags, children are forced into the fields by soldiers to pick the cotton. Thousands still suffer hideous torture every year. But the UK hails “Dialogue” with the Karimov regime on human rights as a reason to end the arms embargo. Germany and Milliband led the internal EU lobbying for Karimov.
In March the Obama administration signed a new agreement with Karimov for transit of supplies to Afghanistan, and negotiations are virtually complete for a new US airbase in Uzbekistan. Germany remains focused entirely on the access to Central Asian gas via Gazprom and the Nordstream project. The British remain keen to maintain “Security cooperation” with the unspeakable Uzbek security services.
The politicians do it because the media and public do not seem to care, so they think they can get away with it. So far, they are right. With Karzai exposed for the gangster he is and a new alliance with Karimov, the sickness of our Central Asian policy is now stark.