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IUK: Fisk - Our friends are killers, crooks and torturers
By Robert Fisk
9/10/2001 11:54 am Tue
[Rencana ini patut dibaca dari awal sampai akhir kerana amat
berbisa - Editor]
Robert Fisk: Our friends are killers, crooks and torturers
07 October 2001
Almost four weeks after the crimes against humanity in New York
and Washington, we are playing politics on the hoof and allying
ourselves to some of the nastiest butchers around.
Mr Blair may believe that "the values we believe in should shine
through what we do in Afghanistan" but few of our "friends" in the
region have many values, and some of them have a lot of blood on
their hands. For as we search for facilities and jumping-off points
and air space and access -- and we are now creating policies by
the day -- we are being asked to forget a lot of recent history.
First out of the memory goes Chechnya. The savage repression of
this Muslim republic -- complete with mass executions, mass rape
and mass graves -- was the brainchild of Vladimir Putin, the former
serving KGB officer into whose soul Mr Bush believes he peered in
Mr Putin's assault on Grozny was timed to bring him the Russian
presidency, and within weeks his indisciplined troops had turned the
rubble of Chechnya into something approaching Afghanistan. Mr
Putin now seems our strongest ally in the "war against terror". And
why not, when he is himself such a master of terror?
Second out of the memory goes the nasty little dictatorship run by
the Saudi royal family whose religious "mouttawa" police taught the
Taliban how to run their Ministry for the Prevention of Vice and
Promotion of Virtue.
We should forget that women are not even allowed to drive a car in
Saudi Arabia, we must ignore the weekly head-choppings outside
mosques, the country's disgraceful and unfair judicial system --
everything, in fact, which might remind us of Saudi Arabia's carbon
copy, the Taliban, whose destruction we are now seeking.
Then we must turn our attention away from the not terribly democratic
regime of General Pervez Musharraf. Only a little while ago, the
general was the Pakistani army commander who overthrew the
democratically elected -- though corrupt -- government of Nawaz
Sharif. Indeed, General Musharraf was rather keen to hang Mr Sharif
until President Clinton dropped by Islamabad early last year to
condemn Osama bin Laden and appeal for Sharif's life.
Only a few weeks ago, the general appointed himself president. And
while the world tut-tutted then, it now respectfully accords General
Musharraf the title of "president" too.
Fourth down the memory hole goes our new friend Uzbekistan whose
President Islam Karimov currently holds 7,000 political prisoners in
his jails. There is no free press, no political opposition.
Mikhail Ardzinov, one of the few human rights activists in Uzbekistan
-- who was brutally beaten by Karimov's secret police two years
ago -- now says that although America had promised not to sell out
human rights to get Karimov's friendship, "We know that the tone will
change now". Too true. Karimov has promised that his air space can
be "used in the fight against terrorism for humanitarian and security
And this is not the moment to remind anyone that Uzbekistan has its
own reasons to destroy the Taliban -- not just because the Taliban
has been exporting its revolution over the Afghan-Uzbek border, but
because President Karimov wants to run an oil pipeline through
Afghanistan to a Pakistani port, a project that will help to fund his
bankrupt police state (as well as a few American oil companies).
One of Karimov's allies is the anti-Taliban war criminal Abdul
Rashid Dustum whose men went on a rampage of rape in Kabul in
the early Nineties and who, for several months, went to fight for the
Taliban after receiving a massive bribe for his change of allegiance.
So it's amnesia too for the anarchy and mass human rights abuses
perpetrated when the Northern Alliance -- our friends in northern
Afghanistan -- ruled Kabul. We must remember with sorrow its
former leader, Ahmed Shah Massoud, a genuine patriot murdered by
Arab suicide bombers on 9 September, but we must forget his
colleague Rasoul Sayaf whose men used Shia women as sex slaves
in the early Nineties.
Now it's true that Churchill, when told in 1941 that Germany had
invaded the Soviet Union and that Stalin was now his ally,
announced that if Hitler invaded Hell, he would at least make "a
favourable reference" to the Devil in the House of Commons. But
we're not making any references at all to our "friends" in the region.
We have drawn the shining bright sword and have no time to worry
if the hands we shake are covered in blood.
This is a war of democracy versus evil, according to President Bush.
It's just that there's not an awful lot of democracy around.