Uzbekistan: They speak with forked tongue by William Bowles

16 May 2005

“I wouldn’t be sitting here if I didn’t think that the United States benefited greatly from our partnership and strategic relationship with Uzbekistan”
12 August 2004, General Richard Myers, the Chairman of the US Joint Chief’s of Staff speaking in Tashkent.

Yes, well you bet they do as the US maintains a major space and intelligence base, a so-called “Forward Operating Location”, at Khanabad Air Base in Uzbekistan and why the US underwrites Karimov’s dictatorship to the tune of nearly $500 million a year. Not that it’s exactly a new relationship as in October 2001, Donald Rumsfeld, the US Defence Secretary, visited Tashkent, shortly before a contingent of 1,000 American troops arrived in the country. US-Uzbek military relations are, he told us:

“growing stronger every month … We have benefited greatly in our efforts in the global war on terror and in Afghanistan from the wonderful co-operation we’ve received from the government of Uzbekistan.”

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