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Robert Fisk: Our friends are killers, crooks and torturers

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  • Islamic News and Information Network
    Assalamu alaikum, Robert Fisk: Our friends are killers, crooks and torturers 07 October 2001
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 7, 2001

      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 Slovenia.

      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

      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 aims".

      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.

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      "First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out because I was
      not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not
      speak out because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the
      Jews, and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew. Then they came for
      me, and there was no one left to speak for me." - Pastor Martin Niemoller
      regarding the Nazi reign.
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