Friday, December 30, 2005
It's worth contextualising this story in the background of Western relations with Uzbekistan. The simple fact is that the US and UK in particular support the government in Uzbekistan against all internal foes because it is a friendly regime that will ensure its rich energy assets will be made available to American energy corporations. Take a look at this:
It isn't news, but this documents the involvement of Bush and his friends in Uzbekistan and its energy interests long before the Bush presidency. It was during the 1990s that Uzbekistan formed several wide-ranging agreements with then un-named US oil companies and its state-run concern, Uzbekneftegaz, and it was in 1996 that Enron first formed a business alliance with the Uzbek government.
Indeed, the US established for itself in a 1994 report the extraoardinary energy resources available in the Fergana Basin (including Uzbekistan, Tadzhikistan & Kyrgyzstan). We're talking 4,538 million barrels of oil and 2,403 trillian cubic feet of gas. That's big money, and immensely important for the US economy as Lay points out in his memo to Bush. Consequently, the US took the opportunity provided by 9/11 to establish a large military presence in Uzbekistan, within striking distance of those oil interests. It suited Karimov too, since it would legitimise his war against internal foes as part of a 'war on terrorism'. And if you want to know what the administration thinks of torture in Uzbekistan, consider this exchange:
BBC RADIO: Second question. Second question is to what extent the assistance provided by the U.S. Government to Uzbekistan is linked to the human rights issue and the release of Mrs. Makhadirova which has been mentioned today, the mother of the person who was in detention in Jaslyk camp, who actually died, and the scientists from Glasgow have confirmed that the person died as a result of serious torture. To what extent have you heard about this case?
RUMSFELD: I’m not knowledgeable about every aspect of this. The Ambassador has responded that the United States is pleased with the release that’s been made, And the answer is that the relationships between sovereign nations tend not to be on a single pillar. They tend to involve economic, political, and in this case human rights as well as, security issues.
The answer to a serious question of torture that caused a person to die is that a) the US has applauded the release of the person's mother, and b) we're making money and expanding influence here so kindly fuck off.
The United Kingdom, for its part, has some interesting links with the Uzbek regime. Among these are the awarding in 2001 of a major oil contract to a subsidiary of the UK-based Trinity Energy, a total trade value of £205 million, and UK training for Uzbek troops. That was weeks before the same troops carried out this massacre. As you may recall, the US blocked a probe into this massacre for fear of 'provoking' Uzbekistan, and thereby upsetting it's strategy of placing 'lily pads' (military bases) in the country.
Oh yes, it's all a rich and pretty pageant. And if Uzbekistan wants to supply 'us' with the ripe fruits of its intensive labours in the torture chamber - where a chap might reasonably expect to have his fingernails pulled out, be raped with a broken bottle, boiled to death, asphyxiated, have his limbs broken with blunt objects, be forced to watch relatives get raped - then who are 'we' to ask questions?