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Tuesday, May 27, 2003

What's the difference between Iraq and Uzbekistan? About 20 years, more or less.

Some 6,000 suspected extremists are incarcerated, and some are believed to have died over the past several years from prison disease and abuse. With few options for religious instruction, some young Muslims have turn to underground extremist Islamic movements. The police force and the intelligence service use torture as a routine investigation technique. -- from the US State Department web site's background note on Uzbekistan.

Who would possibly support such a government?

The US condemned this repression for many years. But since September 11 rewrote America's strategic interests in central Asia, the government of President Islam Karimov has become Washington's new best friend in the region.

The US is funding those it once condemned. Last year Washington gave Uzbekistan $500m (300m) in aid. The police and intelligence services - which the state department's website says use "torture as a routine investigation technique" received $79m of this sum.

Mr Karimov was President Bush's guest in Washington in March last year. They signed a "declaration" which gave Uzbekistan security guarantees and promised to strengthen "the material and technical base of [their] law enforcement agencies".
-- from the Guardian.

And we've got this picture all ready for the media to ignore when the time comes for the "Battle of Uzbekistan:"

Rumsfeld and Uzbekistan's brutal dictator Karamov.