A dangerous game. Those who subscribe to the foolish notion that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” have often found that the new friend does not consider the friendship mutual. “Barack Obama courts human rights abusers in Taliban fight,” by Richard Spencer in the Telegraph, July 31 (thanks to Alan of England):
President Barack Obama is resurrecting relations with some of the world’s worst human rights abusers in Central Asia as he attempts to secure new allies in the fight against the Taliban.
In a repeat of the 19th Century “Great Game”, when the Russians and British competed for relations with Muslim leaders on the outposts of their empires, Mr Obama’s envoys are scuttling between the palaces of Central Asia’s post-Soviet dictators.
In the last three months, Mr Obama has cut deals with Presidents Islam Karimov of Uzbekistan and Kurmanbek Bakiyev of Kyrgyzstan. Mr Karimov has been accused by a former British ambassador of ordering two opponents boiled alive. One of Mr Bakiyev’s critics was recently stabbed 26 times in the buttocks by unknown assailants.
US diplomats have also paid calls on Ashgabad, the capital of Turkmenistan, a country still reeling from the personality cult of “Turkmenbashi”, as the late President Sapurmurat Niyazov styled himself during his eccentric 19-year rule.
“The United States is fixated by Afghan issues and does not care if it supports dictators,” Tashbulat Yuldashev, a former Uzbek government official turned dissident told The Telegraph.
He fled Uzbekistan last year under threat from gangs of heavies after criticising Mr Karimov, president since the fall of the Soviet Union eighteen years ago.
Mr Obama has brought a new pragmatism to foreign policy, disappointing those who expected his liberal idealism to dominate all aspects of his administration.
That pragmatism is now being employed on one of the great diplomatic battlegrounds of history: the Silk Road through Central Asia, for decades closed off as part of the Soviet Union but now once again open to the exchange of goods, people — and unrest.
In the Fergana Valley, which straddles Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan and is close to Afghanistan, Islamic militants have found ready recruiting grounds in the hundreds of thousands of migrant workers who have lost their jobs in the financial crisis.
Nine jihadists were killed in gun-battles near the city of Osh, on the Kyrgyz side of the border in June alone, while Uzbek identity cards have been found on dead Taliban fighters in Pakistan….