Saturday, July 30, 2005
From our distinguished colleague Susie Madrak at Suburban Guerrilla comes news of a widening rift between President Bush and his soon-to-be-former partner in the extraordinary rendition business, Uzbek prexy Islam "hommes frites" Karimov:
Uzbekistan formally evicted the United States yesterday from a military base that has served as a hub for combat and humanitarian missions to Afghanistan since shortly after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Pentagon and State Department officials said yesterday.As far as we're concerned, the severing of relations between the U.S. and Uzbekistan is long overdue. Why should the President ally himself with an autocratic despot and serial abuser of human rights who threatens political retaliation at the first mention of independent scrutiny? It will only give him ideas:
In a highly unusual move, the notice of eviction from Karshi-Khanabad air base, known as K2, was delivered by a courier from the Uzbek Foreign Ministry to the U.S. Embassy in Tashkent, said a senior U.S. administration official involved in Central Asia policy. The message did not give a reason. Uzbekistan will give the United States 180 days to move aircraft, personnel and equipment, U.S. officials said . . . .
"We always think ahead. We'll be fine," Rumsfeld said Sunday when asked how the United States would cope with losing the base in Uzbekistan . . . .
Undersecretary of State R. Nicholas Burns was going to pressure Tashkent to allow an international investigation into the Andijan protests, which human rights groups and three U.S. senators who met with eyewitnesses said killed about 500 people. Burns was also going to warn the government, one of the most authoritarian in the Islamic world, to open up politically -- or risk the kind of upheavals witnessed recently in Ukraine, Georgia and Kyrgyzstan, U.S. officials said.
Karimov has balked at an international probe. As U.S. pressure mounted, he cut off U.S. night flights and some cargo flights, forcing Washington to move search-and-rescue operations and some cargo flights to Bagram air base in Afghanistan and Manas air base in Kyrgyzstan. As relations soured, the Bush administration was preparing for a further cutoff, U.S. officials said.
The White House on Thursday threatened to veto a massive Senate bill for $442 billion in next year's defense programs if it moves to regulate the Pentagon's treatment of detainees or sets up a commission to investigate operations at Guantanamo Bay prison and elsewhere.