While the UK media focused on bunting, NATO announced the substantial deepening of its most shameful alliance with the vicious Uzbek dictatorship. As long prefigured in this blog, NATO is forced to retreat from Afghanistan through Uzbekistan, after cutting yet more deals to support the World’s most vicious torture and slave labour regime. The irony of this when the Afghan “Mission” still pretends to be about bringing democracy and human rights to Afghanistan, is apparently lost on the entire western media. I cannot find a single article critical of the NATO deal.
NATO have not announced what specific sweeteners the governments of Uzbekistan, Kirghizstan and Kazakhstan are going to get. It is worth noting that they will have to pass through either Uzbekistan or Kirghizstan first to reach Kazakhstan, and the transport logistics are such over 80% of this will have to be through Uzbekistan.
Doubtless large official payments are being made to the governments for transit rights, while in both Uzbekistan and Kirgizhstan there is a track record of using transport, fuel etc suppliers owned by the ruling families, and I have no doubt that will be a major continuing part of the operation. Other intrinsic parts of the deal have officially been conducted outside of NATO, such as the lifting of EU and US arms embargoes imposed after the 2005 Andijan massacre by the Uzbek government of over 800 pro-democracy demonstrators. The UK and USA have resumed military training of Karimov’s soldiers and the USA has resumed large subsidies to his notorious secret police.
Less tangible but more prized still by Karimov is the political support, the ending of pressure over Uzbekistan’s appalling human rights record and the high level visits in both directions with major capitals to pander to Karimov’s thirst for official acclaim. I heard again today from an Uzbek source that part of the deal is for Gulnara Karimova to become Uzbek Ambassador in London. The FCO continues to deny this; but take my word for it, by the end of next year we will have seen both Karimov and his daughter parading the streets of London.
I would like to hope that this will backfire, that the transit of NATO past 12,000 political prisoners in gulags will not be silently passed over by the western media and political class. But I fear I am wrong.
I highly recommend this series of videos compiled thematically from clips of the various speakers at the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights‘ High Level Hearing on Uzbekistan in Berlin. It is all the more powerful as it juxtaposes without comment the official German government (and NATO) view with that of human rights and democracy campaigners
The State of Human Rights in Uzbekistan
State-sponsored Child Labor in the Uzbek Cotton Fields
The Responsibility of Economic Actors
The Role of Germany and the EU
Termez, NATO and the Conflict of Democratic Values
Karimov Regime: The World’s Largest Family-Owned Business
What Should the West Do?