The Company We Keep

Some of our “allies” in the War on Terror have been in the news as of late. Let’s take stock of how President Bush’s “friends” are doing:

Uzbekistan: “Defense officials from Russia and the United States last week helped block a new demand for an international probe into the Uzbekistan government’s shooting of hundreds of protesters last month, according to U.S. and diplomatic officials.”

Pakistan: “No wonder the Pakistan government can’t catch Osama bin Laden. It is too busy harassing, detaining — and now kidnapping — a gang-rape victim for daring to protest and for planning a visit to the United States.”Saudi Arabia: A recent State Department report states, “Saudi Arabia is a destination for men and women from South and East Asia and East Africa trafficked for the purpose of labor exploitation, and for children from Yemen, Afghanistan, and Africa trafficking for forced begging…some fall into conditions of involuntary servitude, suffering from physical and sexual abuse, non-payment or delayed payment of wages, the withholding of travel documents, restrictions on their freedom of movement and non-consensual contract alterations.”

Turkmenistan: “Turkmenistan is vulnerable to a ‘grave’ public health crisis, thanks in large part to the totalitarian practices of President Saparmurat Niyazov’s regime, according to a recently published report…Niyazov is notorious for establishing a personality cult in Turkmenistan that has sought to seal citizens off from outside influences, drastically restricting basic rights in the process.”


Azerbaijan: “Samuel Bodman, the new secretary of energy, led the United States delegation to Azerbaijan last week to celebrate a huge moment in America’s effort to diversify its sources of oil: The opening of a pipeline that will carry Caspian oil to the West, on a route that avoids Russia and Iran…Just a few days earlier, the Azerbaijani police beat pro-democracy demonstrators with truncheons when opposition parties, yelling ‘free elections,’ defied the government’s ban on protests against President Ilham Aliyev.”