Uzbekistan

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Overview
<p>The most populous country in Central Asia, Uzbekistan was of little interest to the outside world until, in the days following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the United States was attracted to its 85-mile border with Afghanistan. Although 80% of the 26 million citizens are Uzbeks, there are significant minorities of Russians and Tajiks. Uzbeks themselves also live in neighboring countries, such as Turkmenistan and Kyrgyzstan, where they make up 13% of the population, and Tajikistan, where they account for almost a quarter of the population. There are also two million Uzbeks in Afghanistan. Uzbekistan is an oddly-shaped nation, the product of the Stalinist equivalent of gerrymandering. In fact, there are four parts of Uzbekistan that are surrounded on all sides by Kyrgyzstan. Besides the capital of Tashkent, Uzbekistan includes the ancient Silk Route cities of Samarkand and Bukhara, part of the ecologically-ruined Aral Sea and, in the east, most of the densely populated and politically volatile Fergana Valley. Most Uzbeks are Sunni Muslims and 99% are literate. Uzbekistan is the world&rsquo;s second largest exporter of cotton (behind the United States), and it is one of the only nations in the world that is self-sufficient in oil.</p> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>From the very beginning of his reign as the dictator of Uzbekistan, Islam Karimov was almost obsessively pro-American. In no way did he admire or agree with American values. Rather he saw the US as a counterweight to Russia to his north, which he feared would recapture Uzbekistan or, at the very least, enslave it economically. But relations with the US have been up and down. While the Bush administration was never one to place the issue of human rights at the forefront of American diplomacy, the State Department could not ignore atrocities such as the 2005 massacre in Andijan province. American criticism over the attacks prompted the Kamirov regime to kick the US off the air base it was using for missions in Afghanistan. In February 2009, US officials admitted that the Obama administration was considering resuming military cooperation with Uzbekistan as a potential backup plan given the uncertain future of a nearby air base in Kyrgyzstan.</div>
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Basic Information
<p><b>Lay of the Land</b>: Flat-to-rolling sandy desert with dunes; broad, flat, intensely irrigated river valleys along Amu Darya, Syr Darya; shrinking Aral Sea; semiarid grasslands surrounded by mountainous Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan in east.</p> <div><b>&nbsp;</b></div> <div><b>Population</b>: 28.3 million</div> <div><b>&nbsp;</b></div> <div><b>Religions</b>: Sunni Muslim (Hanafi school) 90%, Russian Orthodox 5%, Shi'a Muslim 1%, other (Catholic, Korean Christians, Baptists, Lutherans, evangelicals, Buddhists, Baha'is, atheists).</div> <div><b>&nbsp;</b></div> <div><b>Ethnic Groups</b>: Uzbek 80%, Russian 5.5%, Tajik 5%, Kazakh 3%, Karakalpak 2.5%, Tatar 1.5%, other 2.5%.</div> <div><b>&nbsp;</b></div> <div><b>Languages</b>: Northern Uzbek (official) 62.6%, Karakalpak 1.5%, Turkish 0.7%, Crimean Turkish 0.7%, Bukharic 0.004%, Uzbeki Arabic 0.003%, Judeo-Crimean Tatar.</div> <div><b>&nbsp;</b></div> <p>&nbsp;</p>
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History
<div>Samarkand was founded at least 2500 years ago. The area that is now Uzbekistan was conquered by Darius the Great of Persia and, in 328 BC, by Alexander the Great. Islamic Arabs took over in the 8th century, and Genghis Khan ruled the region in the 13th century. In the 1380s, another conqueror, Tamerlane, gained control and established the headquarters of his empire in Samarkand, which he turned into a cultural center as well. When Uzbekistan gained its independence 600 years later, the new government found itself short of historical heroes and chose to exalt Tamerlane (known locally as Amur Timur). Although Karimov&rsquo;s supporters would characterize Tamerlane as a kind, well-educated and devout Muslim, among historians he is better known as a brutal tyrant who killed millions of people, ordered his troops to fire severed heads while attacking cities and left behind pyramids made of skulls as a warning, including a pile of 90,000 in Baghdad alone.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Uzbek nomads did not appear in present-day Uzbekistan until the Shaybani Uzbeks invaded from the north in 1501. By 1510, they had completely conquered Central Asia. The Persians invaded again in the 18th century, but it was the next group of invaders who would shape modern Uzbekistan.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>While Central Asian warlords were preoccupied fighting each other, Europeans were beginning to show an interest in their region. To the south, British forces conquered Afghanistan, while Russian merchants and settlers from the north moved into Uzbek territory. Once Russian troops completed their conquest of the Caucasus Mountains in the 1850s, the Russian government began turning its focus onto Central Asia; particularly when the civil war in the United States disrupted their supply of cotton. In 1864, Russian forces began attacking the khanates that ruled the Uzbek people. Tashkent fell in 1865, Bukhara in 1867, Samarkand in 1868, Khiva in 1873 and, finally, Kokand in 1876, thus completing the Russian takeover of present-day Uzbekistan.&nbsp;By the turn of the century, the Russian railway system had extended into the area, which was now under the control of the Ministry of War. During World War I, Central Asians were exempt from military conscription, but when the Russian government cancelled this exemption in the summer of 1916, violent demonstrations broke out in the eastern Uzbek territory.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>While the Bolsheviks were fighting to take over the Russian Empire and establish the USSR, they actively excluded Muslims from positions of power. When the local people set up their own government in Kokand in the Fergana Valley, the Red Army dismantled it. They also put down a revolt after the Russian Civil War ended, eventually conquering Khiva and Bokhara in 1920. In 1924, the Soviet government created the Uzbekistan Soviet Socialist Republic, which also encompassed ethnic Tajik regions. In 1929, the Tajiks were given their own republic, leaving behind the borders of present-day Uzbekistan.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Communist rule had its good points, such as the spread of literacy and the emancipation of women, but for the most part, the effects were overwhelmingly negative. In a land of farmers, agriculture was collectivized. Josef Stalin decided that the purpose of the Uzbek SSR was to provide cotton, and the Soviet machine forced the Uzbeks to stop growing food crops and replant their land with cotton. In the post-Stalinist era, it was the diversion of water from rivers that fed the Aral Sea that caused its destruction. Since 1960, the Aral has lost 60% of its water and the water level has dropped fifty feet. The Soviet reliance on Uzbek cotton led to one of the great scandals of the Communist period. Faced with unrealistically high cotton quotas, Sharaf Rashidov, the first secretary of the Communist Party of Uzbekistan from 1959 until 1982, colluded with high central government officials to falsify production figures. When this long-lasting scam was finally exposed, the name Uzbekistan became synonymous with corruption&hellip;and Rashidov was posthumously viewed as a hero by the Uzbek people.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Stalin, suspicious of non-Russians in the USSR, arrested and executed all Uzbek nationalists in the 1930s. When the power of the Communist Party started to break down in the 1980s, a careful opposition developed in Uzbekistan. A group of intellectuals, Birlik (Unity), advocated saving the Aral Sea, diversifying agriculture and making Uzbek the state language. When ethnic fighting broke out in the Fergana Valley in 1989, the national government chose an Uzbek from a different part of the republic to be first secretary of the Communist Party of Uzbekistan. His name was Islam Karimov.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Karimov was fortunate to be the leader of Uzbekistan at the time that the Soviet Union collapsed.&nbsp;He sat on the fence during the August 1991 putsch (coup) that tried to restore communism. When it failed, the Supreme Soviet of Uzbekistan declared independence on August 31. Karimov banned all activity by the Communist Party. However, two months after independence, he changed the name of the Communist Party of Uzbekistan to the People&rsquo;s Democratic Party of Uzbekistan, allowing all the people who had ruled the republic under communism to remain in power.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Even before independence, Karimov pushed through four laws that squelched potential critics of his regime. The Law on Protecting the Honor and Dignity of the President outlawed criticism of Karimov. The Law on Public Associations in the Uzbek SSR limited the right to register organizations, including NGOs. The law on Mass Media squashed free speech, and the Law on Freedom of Conscience and Religious Opposition barred opposition groups from appearing in state media.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>The new constitution that went into effect in December 1992 closed a few more potentially democratic loopholes. Among other provisions, it allowed Karimov to appoint and dismiss all judges and it gave him the right to dissolve parliament in case of &ldquo;insurmountable difficulties&rdquo; between parliamentary deputies and the president. For good measure, it also abolished the office of vice-president, lest any individual achieve a position that could challenge Karimov. Finally, the constitution gave Karimov the right to appoint and dismiss all regional administrators, known as hakims. Traditionally, local affairs, such as family disputes and real-estate transactions, were overseen by councils of elders, called mahallas. The Communists had inserted their own appointees, the hakims, to deal with the mahallas. By taking charge of the appointment of all hakims, Karimov extended his personal power down to the most local levels, while at the same time appearing to align himself with the traditional elders. In addition, the new constitution allowed the hakims the right to nominate 45% of the members of the parliament (the Oly Majlis), which meant that instantly Karimov chose almost half of the members of the legislature.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Before full independence was achieved, two non-communist parties emerged in Uzbekistan.&nbsp;Birlik was created in 1988 and the Erk (Freedom) Democratic Party in 1990. Since both concentrated on promoting Uzbek culture and the Uzbek language, Karimov responded to their growth by giving a series of public lectures on &ldquo;The Uzbek Way.&rdquo; Weak as Birik and Erk were, Karimov decided to take no chances with them. In 1993 he banned both parties and arrested their leaders, charging them with &ldquo;conspiracy to overthrow the elected government&rdquo; and &ldquo;defaming the honor of President Karimov.&rdquo; It would be another ten years before Karimov felt sufficiently unthreatened by Birlik and Erk to allow them to hold party congresses.&nbsp;</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>In the meantime, in order to appease international opinion, Karimov grudgingly allowed the formation of the Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan (HRSU). Unfortunately, Karimov&rsquo;s true attitude towards this group was starkly revealed by an incident that took place in the summer of 2000. Tajik herdsmen in Surkhandarya Province informed troops of the Uzbek army that Islamist guerrillas had moved into their mountain grazing lands. Instead of praising the herdsmen for this tip, Karimov&rsquo;s government accused them of aiding the guerrillas and drove them out of their homes, causing some to die of cold and hunger. One of the herdsmen, Khazratul Kodirov, gave an interview to BBC World Service in which he described the displacement of his people. The Uzbek army seized Kodirov, tortured him and killed him. The HRSU representative in charge of monitoring the case, Shovriq Ruzimorodov, died in police custody July 7, 2001. The following year, the chairman of the HRSU, Yoldash Rasulev, was convicted of &ldquo;conspiracy to overthrow the constitutional order,&rdquo; although Karimov graciously pardoned him for his non-crime a few months later.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>In December 1991, Karimov ran for president against poet Muhammad Solih, founder of the Erk Party. Karimov won 86% of the vote and gained what was supposed to be a five-year term.&nbsp;Parliamentary elections were scheduled for 1994, and this time Karimov faced the international expectation of a multi-party election, so he created some new parties, ordered various supporters to join them and then arranged for the vote to take place. Since his won party only won a minority of the seats, Karimov was able to brag to other countries that he ran a democracy, which, of course, ignored the fact that he controlled every seat in the parliament. Karimov&rsquo;s term as president was due to end in December 1991, but nine months earlier he staged a referendum that extended his term until 2000.&nbsp;</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>The year 1999 saw another parliamentary election in which all parties pledged their loyalty to Karimov, who was reelected president in January 2000. He gained more than 90% of the votes, which was not surprising considering that his opponent, Abduhafez Jalalov, publicly announced that even he had voted for Karimov. Two years later, another referendum extended his term until 2007. By the time of the next parliamentary election on December 26, 2004, international tolerance of Karimov&rsquo;s electoral shenanigans was wearing thin. Taking no chances, Karimov refused to register legitimate opposition parties and banned independent observers from all polling places.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>In 1998, a revolutionary group, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), was formed and called for the resignation of the Karimov government. On February 16, 1999, six bombs went off in Tashkent, killing 19 people and wounding 128. Karimov blamed the IMU, and later threatened to arrest any father whose son joined the IMU.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>In August, Islamic militants raided villages in Kyrgyzstan and exchanged hostages for ransom.&nbsp;Outraged, Karimov bombed IMU villages in Kyrgyzstan, killing civilians in the process. On another raid, the IMU took four Japanese geologists hostage and demanded the release of political prisoners. The geologists were freed five weeks later amid rumors that the Japanese government had paid the IMU $2 million.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>During the year 2000, the IMU killed at least 24 Uzbek soldiers and launched a particularly audacious attack on the Uzbek army only 80 miles north of Tashkent. During the winter of 2000-2001, Karimov cut off gas supplies to the capitals of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan in order to pressure the governments of those two countries to crack down on IMU bases. He also lined the borders with Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan with mines and barbed wire.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>In addition to the IMU, Karimov cracked down on another group, Hizb ut-Tahrir (Party of Liberation), commonly known as HT, whose aim was to restore Islamic rule in all Muslim lands.&nbsp;Unlike the IMU, the HT supported democracy and opposed religious wars, ethnic favoritism and discrimination against women. None of this stopped Karimov from convicting 22 HT members in connection with the Tashkent bombings and, despite the lack of any evidence, sentencing six of them to death. Although the HT has never been connected to an act of violence, they do make one exception to their prohibition against killing. According to HT doctrine, violence is allowed in conflicts already under way in which Muslims are fighting oppressors. Specifically, they approve of Palestinians killing Israelis. In fact, one of the insults used by HT leaders against Karimov was to call him &ldquo;a Jew.&rdquo;</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Until 2005, the worst excesses of Islam Karimov&rsquo;s regime had taken place behind closed doors.&nbsp;But on May 13, 2005, Karimov ordered a mass killing that could not be ignored. Following the arrest of a group of businessmen in Andijan, 50-100 friends, relatives and supporters of the businessmen attacked a police station and a military barracks and stole AK-47 rifles, grenades, a military truck and other weapons. The attackers used the truck to ram down the gate to the prison, and they freed the 23 businessmen, as well as more than 500 other prisoners. After a one-hour gun battle at the building housing the National Security Service, the attackers and some of the freed prisoners moved on to the center of town and took over the local government building (hokimiat).</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Using cell phones, they called for a mass protest in Bobur Square. More than 10,000 people gathered in the square, including lots of women and children. The attackers gave speeches about poverty, corruption, the lack of jobs and the unfair trials. Some of the freed prisoners described their prison conditions and their trials. Then the loudspeaker was turned over to anyone who wanted to speak, and ordinary citizens voiced their complaints, including government employees who had not been paid in four months. Meanwhile, the more aggressive of the protestors took hostage men in uniforms. The head tax inspector, the city prosecutor and two government officials were forced to &ldquo;confess&rdquo; to the crowd.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>In response to this insurrection against the government, Karimov sent in the army. Military armored personnel carriers blocked all roads around the square, and troops opened fire on the crowd. One route was left open and people rushed forward in an attempt to escape. But the route was actually a shooting gallery with government snipers on rooftops and behind sandbags.&nbsp;Hundreds of people were killed, including all but four of the hostages.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>More than 600 survivors tried to walk the 35 miles to the Kyrgyz border, although not all of them made it because they were ambushed along the way. Back in Andijan, the wounded lay untreated and dying. The next morning, soldiers executed the wounded. Water cannons were used to wash away the blood, the dead bodies were taken away, bullet holes in buildings were painted over and broken windows replaced. All that remained was the bodies of 17 muscular men, which were shown to journalists as proof that all the deaths had been caused by these seventeen attackers.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>When the US government rejected Karimov&rsquo;s version of events and condemned the massacre, Karimov became so furious that, on July 29, 2005, he ordered the US to evacuate the Karshi-Khanabad air base they had been using since 9/11. He then signed a treaty with Russia that increased their military ties with Uzbekistan.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div><a href="http://lcweb2.loc.gov/frd/cs/uztoc.html"><font color="#0000ff">Country Studies (Library of Congress)</font></a></div> <p>&nbsp;</p>
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Uzbekistan's Newspapers
<p><a href="http://www.onlinenewspapers.com/uzbekist.htm"><font color="#0000ff">Uzbekistan's Newspapers</font></a></p>
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History of U.S. Relations with Uzbekistan
<p>The United States recognized Uzbekistan as an independent state in December 1991. Diplomatic relations were established in February 1992, following a visit by Secretary of State James Baker to the republic, and the United States opened an embassy in Tashkent the following month.</p> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>In 1992, the Peace Corps sent its first group of about 50 volunteers to Uzbekistan. An agreement with the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) began encouraging United States private investment in Uzbekistan by providing direct loans and loan guarantees and helping to match projects with potential investors.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>In 1993 the United States granted Uzbekistan most-favored-nation trade status, which went into force in January 1994. In March 1994, a bilateral assistance agreement and an open lands agreement were signed.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>In the first two years of Uzbekistan&rsquo;s independence, the US provided roughly $17 million in humanitarian assistance and $13 million in technical assistance. For a time, continued human rights violations in Uzbekistan led to significant restrictions in the bilateral relationship, and Uzbekistan received significantly less US assistance than many of the other former Soviet republics. Because Uzbekistan was slow to adopt fundamental economic reforms, non-humanitarian assistance was largely restricted to programs that support the building of democratic institutions and market reform.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>(From the very beginning of his reign as the dictator of Uzbekistan, Islam Karimov was almost obsessively pro-American. In no way did he admire or agree with American values. Rather he saw the US as a counterweight to Russia to his north, which he feared would recapture Uzbekistan or, at the very least, enslave it economically.)</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>For its first decade of independence, Uzbekistan voted with the US on almost every issue at the United Nations, even when it dealt with Israel and Palestine. In 1992, Uzbekistan became the first Central Asian nation to recognize Israel and, in 1998, Karimov actually visited the Jewish state. Karimov supported President Clinton&rsquo;s 1995 trade embargo of Iran, and that same year US and Uzbek forces engaged in their first joint military exercise.&nbsp;</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>At the same time, a US company, Newmont Mining, began processing low-grade stockpiles of gold in Uzbekistan. Starting in 1997, trade between the US and Uzbekistan jumped from $50 million a year to $420 million. Newmont wasn&rsquo;t the only American company interested in Uzbekistan. In his introduction to the US edition of his book <i>Uzbekistan: Along the Road of Deepening Economic Reform</i> (published in Houston), Karimov bragged about establishing a joint venture with Enron to prospect, explore and develop gas fields. At the urging of Enron head Ken Lay, then-governor of Texas, George W Bush, met with the Uzbek ambassador to the United States. The deal, like so many of Enron&rsquo;s plans, fell through.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>In June 1996, Karimov paid his first visit to Washington, DC. President Clinton felt uneasy about Karimov&rsquo;s already appalling human rights record, but agreed to meet with him if the Uzbek leader pledged to release 89 political prisoners. Karimov agreed to the deal, although, in the end, only five of the prisoners were actually confirmed to have been released. If Karimov received a cool reception at the White House, he was greeted more enthusiastically at the Pentagon, where Defense Secretary William Perry praised Uzbekistan as &ldquo;an island of stability.&rdquo; This tension between Uzbekistan&rsquo;s economic and geopolitical value on the one hand and its embarrassing record of human rights abuses on the other has colored US-Uzbek relations ever since.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>In September 2000, the Clinton administration declared the IMU a terrorist group, citing its connection with Osama bin Laden, its involvement in the drug trade, the killing of civilians and its kidnapping of four American mountain climbers (who later escaped). This declaration delighted Karimov. However, five months later, the US State Department lambasted Karimov&rsquo;s government for torturing prisoners by beating them with blunt objects and asphyxiating them with gas masks.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>The 9/11 terrorist attacks proved to be a stroke of luck for Karimov. He was in the midst of an armed struggle with the al-Qaeda-affiliated IMU and feeling the pressure of the Taliban on his doorstep, when the events of Sept. 11 occurred. Literally overnight, the administration of President Bush was his new best friend. High-ranking American officials streamed into Tashkent and offered him money and friendship. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld made multiple visits to Karimov without saying a word about torture and human rights. Secretary of State Colin Powell assured the world that &ldquo;President Karimov wants to bring through a new generation that understands democracy.&rdquo; Reacting to Powell&rsquo;s meeting, the Washington Post editorialized that the Bush administration was sending the message that &ldquo;If you play ball with the United States in Afghanistan we will look the other way as a decade of democratization efforts is ground to dust.&rdquo;</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Within two weeks of 9/11, 200 American soldiers arrived in Uzbekistan, and Karimov turned over to the US his Khanabad military base. The Americans rushed military supplies to Uzbek General Dostum and then began bombing Afghanistan. The Taliban was driven from power and the IMU was destroyed. For Karimov, the defeat of his Islamist enemies was cause for celebration, but he was to reap even more benefits in the aftermath of 9/11. The number of US forces in Uzbekistan eventually surpassed 5,000. As the Russian newspaper Nezavisimaya Gazeta lamented, &ldquo;The arrival of every American soldier in Uzbekistan chips away at Russia&rsquo;s influence in the region.&rdquo; This was exactly what Karimov had hoped for. The Islamist guerilla forces were gone and Russia&rsquo;s influence was diminished. &nbsp;</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>There was even more good news for Karimov. In one year, US aid to Uzbekistan jumped from $85 million to $300 million. Dozens of members of the US Congress visited Karimov in Tashkent, and in March 2002, Karimov had tea in the White House with President Bush. As late as 2004, some members of Congress continued to praise Karimov. For example, during a visit to Tashkent in March of that year, Representative David Dreier (R-CA) gushed that he was &ldquo;very encouraged from the reports that we have been seeing in the area of human rights.&rdquo;&nbsp;</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>In the executive branch, confusion reigned. In July 2004, the State Department declared that Uzbekistan&rsquo;s human rights record was so poor that they cut off the $18 million in aid it was supposed to receive. The following month, however, the Department of Defense pledged $21 million in assistance to the Uzbek military.</div>
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Current U.S. Relations with Uzbekistan
<p>US-Uzbek relations cooled significantly following the &ldquo;color revolutions&rdquo; in Georgia, Ukraine, and Kyrgyzstan in 2003-2005. At this time the government of Uzbekistan sought to limit the influence of US and other foreign non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working on civil society, political reform, and human rights inside the country. Relations deteriorated rapidly following US and European demands for an independent, international investigation into the May 2005 Andijan violence.</p> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Relations improved in the second half of 2007 as both the US and Uzbekistan sought re-engagement under the terms of the March 2002 Declaration of Strategic Partnership. The declaration covers not only security and economic relations, but also political and economic reform, as well as human rights. This official line belies the fact that the US needs Uzbekistan to carry out commando, intelligence and reconnaissance missions, along with air logistics flights, to support military efforts in Afghanistan.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Admiral William Fallon, head of the US Central Command, stopped in Uzbekistan during his Central Asian tour in January 2008. The visit marked an intensification of US efforts to block Russia from strengthening its energy position in Central Asia. Karimov could use improved relations with the United States and European Union as leverage against Russia in various ongoing negotiations, including discussions covering Uzbek access to the Prikaspiisky Pipeline project.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>In February 2009, US officials admitted that the Obama administration was considering resuming military cooperation with Uzbekistan as a potential backup plan given the uncertain future of a nearby air base in Kyrgyzstan.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>A total of 4,488 Uzbeks visited the US in 2006. The number of Uzbeks traveling to the US has fluctuated between a low of 3,885 (2004) and a high of 5,534 (2002) in recent years.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div><a href="http://www.eurasianet.org/departments/insight/articles/eav012308b.shtml"><font color="#0000ff">US-Uzbekistan Relations: Another Step Toward Rapprochement?</font></a><span> (EurasiaNet.org)</span></div> <div><a href="http://www.cfr.org/publication/8887/interview_with_nancy_lubin_on_usuzbek_relations.html"><font color="#0000ff">Interview with Nancy Lubin on U.S.-Uzbek relations</font></a> (Council on Foreign Relations)</div> <div><a href="http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2009/02/05/considers-uzbekistan-backup-base-military-officials-say/"><font color="#0000ff">U.S. Considers Uzbekistan as Backup Base, Military Officials Say</font></a> (Associated Press)</div>
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Where Does the Money Flow
<p>Uzbekistan&rsquo;s strategic importance to the United States goes beyond its geopolitical location vis-&agrave;-vis Afghanistan. The Central Asian country is also a major supplier of uranium. In fact, the sale of this and other nuclear fuels from Uzbekistan to the US constitutes the majority of all trade between the two nations. In 2008, the US imported a total of $292 million in goods from Uzbekistan&mdash;of which, $285 million was nuclear materials and other fuels.</p> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>US exports to Uzbekistan consists largely of civilian aircraft, which jumped from $0 in 2006 to $144 million in 2008, and represented about half of all exports that year, and pharmaceutical preparations, which increased from $269,000 to $40.9 million.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>The aforementioned exports do not, however, include military sales. US arms sales to Uzbekistan since Sept. 11 have consisted predominantly of non-lethal communications equipment and electronics. Between FY 97 and FY 01, Uzbekistan concluded less than $3 million in arms sales, as compared to more than $90 million between FY 02 and FY 06, according to the Center for Defense Information.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Since FY 05, the United States has also provided Uzbekistan with several sources of counterterrorism training and funding, which are not contingent on State Department certification. Uzbekistan is a beneficiary of the Regional Defense Counterterrorism Fellowship Program (CTFP) receiving $200,000 in FY 05 and FY 06 and will receive an additional $25,000 in FY 07. Uzbekistan has also received funding to expand its counterterrorism capabilities through the Foreign Operations budget&rsquo;s Anti-Terrorism Assistance program (NADR-ATA), which is part of the Nonproliferation, Antiterrorism, Demining, and Related Activities account. Uzbekistan received $2.4 million in FY 05, but was not allocated any funds in FY 06 and is only slated to receive $500,000 in FY 08.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>The US sold $79,188 of defense articles and services to Uzbekistan in 2007.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>In 2007 the US gave $15.5 million in aid to Uzbekistan. The budget allotted the most funds to Health ($4.2 million), Agriculture ($3.2 million), and Civil Society ($3 million).</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>The 2008 budget estimate decreased aid to $10.2 million, and the 2009 budget request will decrease it further to $7.9 million.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>The 2009 budget will dedicate the most aid to Civil Society ($2.4 million), Health ($2.3 million), and Rule of Law and Human Rights ($1.1 million). Funding has declined, especially for Peace and Security programs, because of Uzbekistan&rsquo;s often uncooperative stance towards the US.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div><a href="http://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/statistics/product/enduse/imports/c4644.html"><font color="#0000ff">Imports from Uzbekistan</font></a></div> <div><a href="http://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/statistics/product/enduse/exports/c4644.html"><font color="#0000ff">Exports to Uzbekistan</font></a></div> <div><a href="http://www.state.gov/t/pm/64484.htm"><font color="#0000ff">Uzbekistan: Security Assistance</font></a></div> <div><a href="http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/101368.pdf"><font color="#0000ff">Congressional Budget for Foreign Operations (pages 640-643)</font></a> (PDF)</div> <div><a href="http://www.cdi.org/pdfs/Uzbekistan.pdf"><font color="#0000ff">US Military Assistance and Sales to Uzbekistan</font></a> (Center for Defense Information)</div>
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Controversies
<p><b>US Ambassador Sees Changes in Human Rights for Uzbekistan</b></p> <div>Observers regularly commented during the Bush administration about how the US wants to restore bilateral relations with Uzbekistan, despite its poor human rights record. Instead, US officials tended to elaborate on &ldquo;certain progress&rdquo; being achieved by the Karimov government.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>This trend was particularly undeniable during &ldquo;Law Enforcement, Human Rights, and Security,&rdquo; a joint Uzbek-American forum the US Embassy arranged in Tashkent on March 13, 2008. Human rights activists, journalists, and the socially active were invited to the forum. While US Ambassador Richard Norland noted that human rights in Uzbekistan showed no significant changes for the better in 2007, the diplomat elaborated on certain progress in the human rights sphere allegedly noticed in Uzbekistan. &ldquo;We perceive signals that certain non-governmental organizations may be permitted to resume human rights observance monitoring and efforts to develop civil society. Regardless of the past suspicions concerning their activity, that is,&rdquo; Norland said. &ldquo;Certain web sites are available again to Internet browsers [the diplomat never said which web sites]. Some human rights activists are released from prisons.&rdquo; Norland then condemned critics who refused to see positive changes in Uzbekistan.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Some at the forum disagreed with Norland&rsquo;s assessment. &ldquo;The human rights situation is worsening. Tighter sanctions against Uzbekistan are needed,&rdquo; Yelena Urlayeva of Human Rights Alliance said. &ldquo;We arranged a picket in front of the Prosecutor General&rsquo;s Office earlier today. The protesters numbering 30 people or so were attacked by a bunch of women purporting to be Gypsies. The women had something heavy in their carryalls, and two protesters were hospitalized. That&rsquo;s how the authorities operate.&rdquo;</div> <div><a href="http://enews.ferghana.ru/article.php?id=2344"><font color="#0000ff">An update on the Uzbek-US relations. The stick and the carrot policy again?</font></a> (by Omar Sharifov, Ferghana Information Agency)</div> <div><b><font size="6">&nbsp;</font></b></div> <div><b>Uzbekistan Evicts U.S. From Air Base after Human rights Criticism</b></div> <div>Uzbekistan formally evicted the United States in March 2005 from a military base that had served as a hub for combat and humanitarian missions to Afghanistan since shortly after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. 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 US Embassy in Tashkent. The message did not give a reason. Uzbekistan gave the United States 180 days to move aircraft, personnel and equipment. Previously, a Pentagon spokesman called access to the airfield &ldquo;undeniably critical in supporting our combat operations&rdquo; and humanitarian deliveries. The United States paid $15 million to Uzbek authorities for use of the airfield since 2001. The eviction notice came four days before a senior State Department official was to arrive in Tashkent for talks with the government of President Islam Karimov. The relationship had been increasingly tense since bloody protests in the province of Andijan. 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 US 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.</div> <div><a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/07/29/AR2005072902038.html"><font color="#0000ff">U.S. Evicted From Air Base In Uzbekistan</font></a> (by Robin Wright and Ann Scott Tyson, Washington Post)</div>
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Human Rights
<p>In 2003, Uzbekistan President Islam Karimov ordered parliament to pass a law that made him and all members of his family immune from prosecution forever. Later he made it illegal to refuse to praise him and his policies during religious services. Actually insulting him was punishable by up to five years in prison. He also criminalized placing loyalty to Islam above loyalty to the nation&rsquo;s leaders. For good measure, Karimov banned the study of Arabic, which was being used by students and scholars to read the Quran in its original language.</p> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Upon the issuance of a United Nations report on torture in Uzbekistan in December 2002, UN Special Rapporteur Theo van Boven told reporters that &ldquo;torture, as far as I can see&hellip; is not just incidental, but systemic in nature.&rdquo;&nbsp;</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>According to Human Rights Watch, at least 7,000 political prisoners are held in Uzbek custody at any given time. Many of them are subjected to &ldquo;psychiatric treatment.&rdquo;&nbsp;</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Another group at danger in Uzbekistan is journalists. In 2002, in one of his periodic gestures to please the outside world, Karimov magnanimously announced an end to media censorship.&nbsp;Actually, media censorship had been outlawed by the 1992 constitution. But there had never been much need for official censorship since the threat of beatings and torture had always been enough to encourage self-censorship. In June 2002, the Committee to Protect Journalists declared Uzbekistan the only country in Europe or Central Asia that imprisons journalists &ldquo;for carrying out their professional duties.&rdquo;</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>One typical case of torture in Uzbekistan was that of Muzafar Avazov, a 35-year-old father of four, who, along with a companion, Husnidin Alimov, died while incarcerated in Jaslyk prison.&nbsp;When his body was released to his family, it was covered with heavy bruising, his fingernails were gone and more than 60% of his body was burnt, leading observers to surmise that he had been scalded in boiling water. Relatives of other prisoners have reported that their family members are forced to sign statements begging Karimov for forgiveness and admitting that they are terrorists. Karimov bragged that 50 to 60 people were sentenced to death in 2004.&nbsp;Neither the prisoners nor their families were informed of the dates of their executions and, in some cases, even their burial sites were kept secret.&nbsp;Karimov, as a point of information, had designated 2004 the Year of Kindness and Mercy.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Although the US State Department repeatedly condemned Uzbekistan&rsquo;s use of torture to extract confessions (real or imagined) from prisoners, the CIA took advantage of Karimov&rsquo;s brutal methods.&nbsp;Following the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the Bush administration approved a practice known as extraordinary rendition, in which the CIA handed over suspected terrorists to other nations for interrogation. Over the next three years, dozens of prisoners were airlifted from the US prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, as well as from other sites, to Tashkent, so that Uzbek security personnel could take care of them. In July 2004, Craig Murray, the United Kingdom ambassador to Uzbekistan, wrote a memo to the British Foreign Office accusing the CIA of using the rendition program to violate the United Nations Prohibition Against Torture. The Foreign Office responded that it was alright to use information gained by torture as long as the torture was not performed by British interrogators.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>According to the State Department&rsquo;s annual human rights report for 2008, the Uzbek government held approximately 34,000 inmates at 53 detention facilities. Prison conditions remained poor and in some cases life threatening. There continued to be reports of severe abuse, overcrowding, and shortages of food and medicine. Tuberculosis (TB) and hepatitis were endemic in the prisons, making even short periods of incarceration potentially life-threatening. Prison officials stated that approximately 1,000 inmates were infected with TB. This number could not be confirmed by international health and other organizations. Family members frequently reported that officials stole food and medicine that they tried to deliver to prisoners. There were reports of inmates working in harsh circumstances. Still, several knowledgeable sources reported that authorities had made some progress in the past two years in improving prison conditions, notably in combating the spread of TB.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Sources reported that authorities in some prisons continued to hold political prisoners. Those convicted of membership in banned religious extremist organizations were held in specially demarcated sections of prisons and subjected to harsher conditions and treatment than other prisoners. However, there were reports that authorities at several prisons across the country reintegrated religious prisoners with the mainstream population. Reports showed that authorities did not release prisoners, especially those convicted of religious extremism, at the end of their terms. Instead, prison authorities frequently contrived to extend inmates' terms by accusing them of additional crimes or claiming that the prisoners represent a continuing danger to society. These accusations were not subject to judicial review.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Corruption among law enforcement personnel remained a problem. Police routinely and arbitrarily detained citizens to extort bribes. Impunity was a problem, and the government rarely punished officials responsible for abuses. The Ministry of Information&rsquo;s (MOI) main investigations directorate has procedures to investigate abuse internally and discipline officers accused of rights violations; and has done so in a few cases. The MOI created a new human rights department that has taken positive actions in some police brutality cases. The human rights ombudsman's office, affiliated with the parliament, also has the power to investigate such cases. However, there was no independent body charged with investigating such allegations on a systematic basis.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>There were numerous reports during the year 2008 of police and other security forces entering homes of human rights activists and religious figures without a warrant authorization from a representative of an independent judiciary. Members of Protestant churches who held worship services in private homes reported that on numerous occasions armed security officers raided worship services and detained church members on suspicion of illegal religious activity. There were also reports of government authorities harassing Andijan refugees' relatives who remained in Uzbekistan.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>The government sought to control NGO activity, often citing the role played by internationally-funded NGOs in promoting so-called &ldquo;color revolutions&rdquo; that allegedly toppled governments in other former Soviet states, as well as concerns about Islamic fundamentalist groups. The law broadly limits the types of groups that may form and requires that all organizations be registered formally with the government.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>The law prohibits rape, including rape of a &ldquo;close relative,&rdquo; but the Criminal Code does not specifically prohibit marital rape, and there were no cases known to have been tried in court. Cultural norms discouraged women and their families from speaking openly about rape, and instances were almost never reported in the press.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>The law does not specifically prohibit domestic violence, which remained common. While the law punishes physical assault, police often discouraged women from making complaints against abusive husbands, and abusers were rarely taken from their homes or jailed. Wife beating was considered a personal affair rather than a criminal act.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div><a href="http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2008/sca/119143.htm"><font color="#0000ff">U.S. State Department</font></a></div> <div><a href="http://www.hrw.org/en/europecentral-asia/uzbekistan"><font color="#0000ff">Human Rights Watch</font></a></div> <div><a href="http://www.amnesty.org/en/region/europe-and-central-asia/eurasia/uzbekistan"><font color="#0000ff">Amnesty International</font></a></div>
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Debate
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Past Ambassadors
<p>Note: The United States recognized Uzbekistan on Dec 25, 1991, and established diplomatic relations on Feb 19, 1992. Embassy Tashkent was established Mar 16, 1992, with Michael Mozur as Charg&eacute; d'Affaires ad interim.</p> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Henry Lee Clarke<br /> Appointment: Aug 11, 1992<br /> Presentation of Credentials: Sep 9, 1992<br /> Termination of Mission: Left post Sep 30, 1995</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Stanley T. Escudero<br /> Appointment: Aug 30, 1995<br /> Presentation of Credentials: Oct 12, 1995<br /> Termination of Mission: Left post Oct 3, 1997</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Joseph A. Presel<br /> Appointment: Nov 10, 1997<br /> Presentation of Credentials: Dec 3, 1997<br /> Termination of Mission: Left post Oct 23, 2000</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>John Edward Herbst<br /> Appointment: Sep 15, 2000<br /> Presentation of Credentials: Nov 1, 2000<br /> Termination of Mission: Left post Jul 12, 2003</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Jon Robert Purnell<br /> Appointment: Dec 12, 2003<br /> Presentation of Credentials: Jan 28, 2004<br /> Termination of Mission: Left post, Apr 28, 2007</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div><a href="http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ho/po/com/11336.htm"><font color="#0000ff">Former U.S. Ambassadors to Uzbekistan</font></a></div>
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Uzbekistan's Ambassador to the U.S.
ambassador-image Nematov, llhom

Ilhom Nematov has served as Uzbekistan’s ambassador to the United States since February 2010.

 
Born on May 1, 1952, Nematov graduated from Fergana Polytechnic Institute in 1973. He holds a PhD in economics.
 
From 1973 to 1978, he was the head of production in construction organizations for the Namangan region. He continued to hold senior positions in construction for the next 11 years, while also serving in executive and party organizations.
 
Beginning in 1989, he attended the Diplomatic Academy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, and graduated in 1992.
 
For the next five years, Nematov held different diplomatic assignments while serving abroad.
 
He was a senior consultant in the office of the Uzbekistan president (1996-1997), before becoming ambassador to India.
 
From 1999 to 2000, he was an adviser to the minister of foreign affairs, followed by his roles as first deputy minister of foreign affairs and deputy minister of foreign affairs from 2000-2008. He was national coordinator of the Central Asian Cooperation Organization (CACO) and also represented Uzbekistan at meetings of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.
 
Prior to taking over as ambassador to the U.S., Nematov was Uzbekstan’s ambassador to Russia.
 
Nematov is married and has four children. He speaks English and German.
 
Official Biography (Embassy of Uzbekistan)
 

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Uzbekistan's Embassy Web Site in the U.S.
<p><a href="http://www.uzbekistan.org/"><font color="#0000ff">Uzbekistan's Embassy in the U.S.</font></a></p>
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U.S. Ambassador to Uzbekistan

Krol, George
ambassador-image

George A. Krol was nominated as U.S. Ambassador to Uzbekistan on July 1, 2010.

 
Krol was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1956, and raised in Manchester Township, New Jersey, the youngest of three sons of Mr. and Mrs. Anthony J. Krol. He attended St. Peter’s Preparatory School in Jersey City, and earned a Bachelor’s degree in History, magna cum laude, at Harvard University. At Oxford University in England he received both Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Philosophy, Politics and Economics.
 
Krol taught at the National War College, and joined the U.S. Foreign Service in 1982, taking assignments for the State Department in India, Poland and the Ukraine. From 1993 to 1995, he served as Deputy Chief of Mission and Chargé d’affaires in Minsk, Belarus. Between 1995 and 1997, he was Special Assistant to the Ambassador-at-Large for the New Independent States, and from 1997 to 1999 he served as Director of the Office of Russian Affairs—both positions based in Washington, D.C.
 
In 1999, Krol was named Minister-Counselor for Political Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, Russia, a post he held through 2002. The following year he was appointed U.S. Ambassador to Belarus, a position he held through 2006.
 
In April 2007, President George W. Bush announced his intention to nominate Krol to be the U.S. ambassador to Turkmenistan, but he was never confirmed, although the reasons are unclear. The position remains unfilled.
 
Prior to his appointment as ambassador to Uzbekistan, Krol served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs. Among his responsibilities was engaging in direct consultation with Uzbek government officials.
 
 

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Overview
<p>The most populous country in Central Asia, Uzbekistan was of little interest to the outside world until, in the days following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the United States was attracted to its 85-mile border with Afghanistan. Although 80% of the 26 million citizens are Uzbeks, there are significant minorities of Russians and Tajiks. Uzbeks themselves also live in neighboring countries, such as Turkmenistan and Kyrgyzstan, where they make up 13% of the population, and Tajikistan, where they account for almost a quarter of the population. There are also two million Uzbeks in Afghanistan. Uzbekistan is an oddly-shaped nation, the product of the Stalinist equivalent of gerrymandering. In fact, there are four parts of Uzbekistan that are surrounded on all sides by Kyrgyzstan. Besides the capital of Tashkent, Uzbekistan includes the ancient Silk Route cities of Samarkand and Bukhara, part of the ecologically-ruined Aral Sea and, in the east, most of the densely populated and politically volatile Fergana Valley. Most Uzbeks are Sunni Muslims and 99% are literate. Uzbekistan is the world&rsquo;s second largest exporter of cotton (behind the United States), and it is one of the only nations in the world that is self-sufficient in oil.</p> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>From the very beginning of his reign as the dictator of Uzbekistan, Islam Karimov was almost obsessively pro-American. In no way did he admire or agree with American values. Rather he saw the US as a counterweight to Russia to his north, which he feared would recapture Uzbekistan or, at the very least, enslave it economically. But relations with the US have been up and down. While the Bush administration was never one to place the issue of human rights at the forefront of American diplomacy, the State Department could not ignore atrocities such as the 2005 massacre in Andijan province. American criticism over the attacks prompted the Kamirov regime to kick the US off the air base it was using for missions in Afghanistan. In February 2009, US officials admitted that the Obama administration was considering resuming military cooperation with Uzbekistan as a potential backup plan given the uncertain future of a nearby air base in Kyrgyzstan.</div>
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Basic Information
<p><b>Lay of the Land</b>: Flat-to-rolling sandy desert with dunes; broad, flat, intensely irrigated river valleys along Amu Darya, Syr Darya; shrinking Aral Sea; semiarid grasslands surrounded by mountainous Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan in east.</p> <div><b>&nbsp;</b></div> <div><b>Population</b>: 28.3 million</div> <div><b>&nbsp;</b></div> <div><b>Religions</b>: Sunni Muslim (Hanafi school) 90%, Russian Orthodox 5%, Shi'a Muslim 1%, other (Catholic, Korean Christians, Baptists, Lutherans, evangelicals, Buddhists, Baha'is, atheists).</div> <div><b>&nbsp;</b></div> <div><b>Ethnic Groups</b>: Uzbek 80%, Russian 5.5%, Tajik 5%, Kazakh 3%, Karakalpak 2.5%, Tatar 1.5%, other 2.5%.</div> <div><b>&nbsp;</b></div> <div><b>Languages</b>: Northern Uzbek (official) 62.6%, Karakalpak 1.5%, Turkish 0.7%, Crimean Turkish 0.7%, Bukharic 0.004%, Uzbeki Arabic 0.003%, Judeo-Crimean Tatar.</div> <div><b>&nbsp;</b></div> <p>&nbsp;</p>
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History
<div>Samarkand was founded at least 2500 years ago. The area that is now Uzbekistan was conquered by Darius the Great of Persia and, in 328 BC, by Alexander the Great. Islamic Arabs took over in the 8th century, and Genghis Khan ruled the region in the 13th century. In the 1380s, another conqueror, Tamerlane, gained control and established the headquarters of his empire in Samarkand, which he turned into a cultural center as well. When Uzbekistan gained its independence 600 years later, the new government found itself short of historical heroes and chose to exalt Tamerlane (known locally as Amur Timur). Although Karimov&rsquo;s supporters would characterize Tamerlane as a kind, well-educated and devout Muslim, among historians he is better known as a brutal tyrant who killed millions of people, ordered his troops to fire severed heads while attacking cities and left behind pyramids made of skulls as a warning, including a pile of 90,000 in Baghdad alone.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Uzbek nomads did not appear in present-day Uzbekistan until the Shaybani Uzbeks invaded from the north in 1501. By 1510, they had completely conquered Central Asia. The Persians invaded again in the 18th century, but it was the next group of invaders who would shape modern Uzbekistan.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>While Central Asian warlords were preoccupied fighting each other, Europeans were beginning to show an interest in their region. To the south, British forces conquered Afghanistan, while Russian merchants and settlers from the north moved into Uzbek territory. Once Russian troops completed their conquest of the Caucasus Mountains in the 1850s, the Russian government began turning its focus onto Central Asia; particularly when the civil war in the United States disrupted their supply of cotton. In 1864, Russian forces began attacking the khanates that ruled the Uzbek people. Tashkent fell in 1865, Bukhara in 1867, Samarkand in 1868, Khiva in 1873 and, finally, Kokand in 1876, thus completing the Russian takeover of present-day Uzbekistan.&nbsp;By the turn of the century, the Russian railway system had extended into the area, which was now under the control of the Ministry of War. During World War I, Central Asians were exempt from military conscription, but when the Russian government cancelled this exemption in the summer of 1916, violent demonstrations broke out in the eastern Uzbek territory.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>While the Bolsheviks were fighting to take over the Russian Empire and establish the USSR, they actively excluded Muslims from positions of power. When the local people set up their own government in Kokand in the Fergana Valley, the Red Army dismantled it. They also put down a revolt after the Russian Civil War ended, eventually conquering Khiva and Bokhara in 1920. In 1924, the Soviet government created the Uzbekistan Soviet Socialist Republic, which also encompassed ethnic Tajik regions. In 1929, the Tajiks were given their own republic, leaving behind the borders of present-day Uzbekistan.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Communist rule had its good points, such as the spread of literacy and the emancipation of women, but for the most part, the effects were overwhelmingly negative. In a land of farmers, agriculture was collectivized. Josef Stalin decided that the purpose of the Uzbek SSR was to provide cotton, and the Soviet machine forced the Uzbeks to stop growing food crops and replant their land with cotton. In the post-Stalinist era, it was the diversion of water from rivers that fed the Aral Sea that caused its destruction. Since 1960, the Aral has lost 60% of its water and the water level has dropped fifty feet. The Soviet reliance on Uzbek cotton led to one of the great scandals of the Communist period. Faced with unrealistically high cotton quotas, Sharaf Rashidov, the first secretary of the Communist Party of Uzbekistan from 1959 until 1982, colluded with high central government officials to falsify production figures. When this long-lasting scam was finally exposed, the name Uzbekistan became synonymous with corruption&hellip;and Rashidov was posthumously viewed as a hero by the Uzbek people.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Stalin, suspicious of non-Russians in the USSR, arrested and executed all Uzbek nationalists in the 1930s. When the power of the Communist Party started to break down in the 1980s, a careful opposition developed in Uzbekistan. A group of intellectuals, Birlik (Unity), advocated saving the Aral Sea, diversifying agriculture and making Uzbek the state language. When ethnic fighting broke out in the Fergana Valley in 1989, the national government chose an Uzbek from a different part of the republic to be first secretary of the Communist Party of Uzbekistan. His name was Islam Karimov.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Karimov was fortunate to be the leader of Uzbekistan at the time that the Soviet Union collapsed.&nbsp;He sat on the fence during the August 1991 putsch (coup) that tried to restore communism. When it failed, the Supreme Soviet of Uzbekistan declared independence on August 31. Karimov banned all activity by the Communist Party. However, two months after independence, he changed the name of the Communist Party of Uzbekistan to the People&rsquo;s Democratic Party of Uzbekistan, allowing all the people who had ruled the republic under communism to remain in power.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Even before independence, Karimov pushed through four laws that squelched potential critics of his regime. The Law on Protecting the Honor and Dignity of the President outlawed criticism of Karimov. The Law on Public Associations in the Uzbek SSR limited the right to register organizations, including NGOs. The law on Mass Media squashed free speech, and the Law on Freedom of Conscience and Religious Opposition barred opposition groups from appearing in state media.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>The new constitution that went into effect in December 1992 closed a few more potentially democratic loopholes. Among other provisions, it allowed Karimov to appoint and dismiss all judges and it gave him the right to dissolve parliament in case of &ldquo;insurmountable difficulties&rdquo; between parliamentary deputies and the president. For good measure, it also abolished the office of vice-president, lest any individual achieve a position that could challenge Karimov. Finally, the constitution gave Karimov the right to appoint and dismiss all regional administrators, known as hakims. Traditionally, local affairs, such as family disputes and real-estate transactions, were overseen by councils of elders, called mahallas. The Communists had inserted their own appointees, the hakims, to deal with the mahallas. By taking charge of the appointment of all hakims, Karimov extended his personal power down to the most local levels, while at the same time appearing to align himself with the traditional elders. In addition, the new constitution allowed the hakims the right to nominate 45% of the members of the parliament (the Oly Majlis), which meant that instantly Karimov chose almost half of the members of the legislature.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Before full independence was achieved, two non-communist parties emerged in Uzbekistan.&nbsp;Birlik was created in 1988 and the Erk (Freedom) Democratic Party in 1990. Since both concentrated on promoting Uzbek culture and the Uzbek language, Karimov responded to their growth by giving a series of public lectures on &ldquo;The Uzbek Way.&rdquo; Weak as Birik and Erk were, Karimov decided to take no chances with them. In 1993 he banned both parties and arrested their leaders, charging them with &ldquo;conspiracy to overthrow the elected government&rdquo; and &ldquo;defaming the honor of President Karimov.&rdquo; It would be another ten years before Karimov felt sufficiently unthreatened by Birlik and Erk to allow them to hold party congresses.&nbsp;</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>In the meantime, in order to appease international opinion, Karimov grudgingly allowed the formation of the Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan (HRSU). Unfortunately, Karimov&rsquo;s true attitude towards this group was starkly revealed by an incident that took place in the summer of 2000. Tajik herdsmen in Surkhandarya Province informed troops of the Uzbek army that Islamist guerrillas had moved into their mountain grazing lands. Instead of praising the herdsmen for this tip, Karimov&rsquo;s government accused them of aiding the guerrillas and drove them out of their homes, causing some to die of cold and hunger. One of the herdsmen, Khazratul Kodirov, gave an interview to BBC World Service in which he described the displacement of his people. The Uzbek army seized Kodirov, tortured him and killed him. The HRSU representative in charge of monitoring the case, Shovriq Ruzimorodov, died in police custody July 7, 2001. The following year, the chairman of the HRSU, Yoldash Rasulev, was convicted of &ldquo;conspiracy to overthrow the constitutional order,&rdquo; although Karimov graciously pardoned him for his non-crime a few months later.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>In December 1991, Karimov ran for president against poet Muhammad Solih, founder of the Erk Party. Karimov won 86% of the vote and gained what was supposed to be a five-year term.&nbsp;Parliamentary elections were scheduled for 1994, and this time Karimov faced the international expectation of a multi-party election, so he created some new parties, ordered various supporters to join them and then arranged for the vote to take place. Since his won party only won a minority of the seats, Karimov was able to brag to other countries that he ran a democracy, which, of course, ignored the fact that he controlled every seat in the parliament. Karimov&rsquo;s term as president was due to end in December 1991, but nine months earlier he staged a referendum that extended his term until 2000.&nbsp;</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>The year 1999 saw another parliamentary election in which all parties pledged their loyalty to Karimov, who was reelected president in January 2000. He gained more than 90% of the votes, which was not surprising considering that his opponent, Abduhafez Jalalov, publicly announced that even he had voted for Karimov. Two years later, another referendum extended his term until 2007. By the time of the next parliamentary election on December 26, 2004, international tolerance of Karimov&rsquo;s electoral shenanigans was wearing thin. Taking no chances, Karimov refused to register legitimate opposition parties and banned independent observers from all polling places.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>In 1998, a revolutionary group, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), was formed and called for the resignation of the Karimov government. On February 16, 1999, six bombs went off in Tashkent, killing 19 people and wounding 128. Karimov blamed the IMU, and later threatened to arrest any father whose son joined the IMU.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>In August, Islamic militants raided villages in Kyrgyzstan and exchanged hostages for ransom.&nbsp;Outraged, Karimov bombed IMU villages in Kyrgyzstan, killing civilians in the process. On another raid, the IMU took four Japanese geologists hostage and demanded the release of political prisoners. The geologists were freed five weeks later amid rumors that the Japanese government had paid the IMU $2 million.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>During the year 2000, the IMU killed at least 24 Uzbek soldiers and launched a particularly audacious attack on the Uzbek army only 80 miles north of Tashkent. During the winter of 2000-2001, Karimov cut off gas supplies to the capitals of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan in order to pressure the governments of those two countries to crack down on IMU bases. He also lined the borders with Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan with mines and barbed wire.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>In addition to the IMU, Karimov cracked down on another group, Hizb ut-Tahrir (Party of Liberation), commonly known as HT, whose aim was to restore Islamic rule in all Muslim lands.&nbsp;Unlike the IMU, the HT supported democracy and opposed religious wars, ethnic favoritism and discrimination against women. None of this stopped Karimov from convicting 22 HT members in connection with the Tashkent bombings and, despite the lack of any evidence, sentencing six of them to death. Although the HT has never been connected to an act of violence, they do make one exception to their prohibition against killing. According to HT doctrine, violence is allowed in conflicts already under way in which Muslims are fighting oppressors. Specifically, they approve of Palestinians killing Israelis. In fact, one of the insults used by HT leaders against Karimov was to call him &ldquo;a Jew.&rdquo;</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Until 2005, the worst excesses of Islam Karimov&rsquo;s regime had taken place behind closed doors.&nbsp;But on May 13, 2005, Karimov ordered a mass killing that could not be ignored. Following the arrest of a group of businessmen in Andijan, 50-100 friends, relatives and supporters of the businessmen attacked a police station and a military barracks and stole AK-47 rifles, grenades, a military truck and other weapons. The attackers used the truck to ram down the gate to the prison, and they freed the 23 businessmen, as well as more than 500 other prisoners. After a one-hour gun battle at the building housing the National Security Service, the attackers and some of the freed prisoners moved on to the center of town and took over the local government building (hokimiat).</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Using cell phones, they called for a mass protest in Bobur Square. More than 10,000 people gathered in the square, including lots of women and children. The attackers gave speeches about poverty, corruption, the lack of jobs and the unfair trials. Some of the freed prisoners described their prison conditions and their trials. Then the loudspeaker was turned over to anyone who wanted to speak, and ordinary citizens voiced their complaints, including government employees who had not been paid in four months. Meanwhile, the more aggressive of the protestors took hostage men in uniforms. The head tax inspector, the city prosecutor and two government officials were forced to &ldquo;confess&rdquo; to the crowd.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>In response to this insurrection against the government, Karimov sent in the army. Military armored personnel carriers blocked all roads around the square, and troops opened fire on the crowd. One route was left open and people rushed forward in an attempt to escape. But the route was actually a shooting gallery with government snipers on rooftops and behind sandbags.&nbsp;Hundreds of people were killed, including all but four of the hostages.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>More than 600 survivors tried to walk the 35 miles to the Kyrgyz border, although not all of them made it because they were ambushed along the way. Back in Andijan, the wounded lay untreated and dying. The next morning, soldiers executed the wounded. Water cannons were used to wash away the blood, the dead bodies were taken away, bullet holes in buildings were painted over and broken windows replaced. All that remained was the bodies of 17 muscular men, which were shown to journalists as proof that all the deaths had been caused by these seventeen attackers.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>When the US government rejected Karimov&rsquo;s version of events and condemned the massacre, Karimov became so furious that, on July 29, 2005, he ordered the US to evacuate the Karshi-Khanabad air base they had been using since 9/11. He then signed a treaty with Russia that increased their military ties with Uzbekistan.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div><a href="http://lcweb2.loc.gov/frd/cs/uztoc.html"><font color="#0000ff">Country Studies (Library of Congress)</font></a></div> <p>&nbsp;</p>
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Uzbekistan's Newspapers
<p><a href="http://www.onlinenewspapers.com/uzbekist.htm"><font color="#0000ff">Uzbekistan's Newspapers</font></a></p>
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History of U.S. Relations with Uzbekistan
<p>The United States recognized Uzbekistan as an independent state in December 1991. Diplomatic relations were established in February 1992, following a visit by Secretary of State James Baker to the republic, and the United States opened an embassy in Tashkent the following month.</p> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>In 1992, the Peace Corps sent its first group of about 50 volunteers to Uzbekistan. An agreement with the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) began encouraging United States private investment in Uzbekistan by providing direct loans and loan guarantees and helping to match projects with potential investors.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>In 1993 the United States granted Uzbekistan most-favored-nation trade status, which went into force in January 1994. In March 1994, a bilateral assistance agreement and an open lands agreement were signed.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>In the first two years of Uzbekistan&rsquo;s independence, the US provided roughly $17 million in humanitarian assistance and $13 million in technical assistance. For a time, continued human rights violations in Uzbekistan led to significant restrictions in the bilateral relationship, and Uzbekistan received significantly less US assistance than many of the other former Soviet republics. Because Uzbekistan was slow to adopt fundamental economic reforms, non-humanitarian assistance was largely restricted to programs that support the building of democratic institutions and market reform.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>(From the very beginning of his reign as the dictator of Uzbekistan, Islam Karimov was almost obsessively pro-American. In no way did he admire or agree with American values. Rather he saw the US as a counterweight to Russia to his north, which he feared would recapture Uzbekistan or, at the very least, enslave it economically.)</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>For its first decade of independence, Uzbekistan voted with the US on almost every issue at the United Nations, even when it dealt with Israel and Palestine. In 1992, Uzbekistan became the first Central Asian nation to recognize Israel and, in 1998, Karimov actually visited the Jewish state. Karimov supported President Clinton&rsquo;s 1995 trade embargo of Iran, and that same year US and Uzbek forces engaged in their first joint military exercise.&nbsp;</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>At the same time, a US company, Newmont Mining, began processing low-grade stockpiles of gold in Uzbekistan. Starting in 1997, trade between the US and Uzbekistan jumped from $50 million a year to $420 million. Newmont wasn&rsquo;t the only American company interested in Uzbekistan. In his introduction to the US edition of his book <i>Uzbekistan: Along the Road of Deepening Economic Reform</i> (published in Houston), Karimov bragged about establishing a joint venture with Enron to prospect, explore and develop gas fields. At the urging of Enron head Ken Lay, then-governor of Texas, George W Bush, met with the Uzbek ambassador to the United States. The deal, like so many of Enron&rsquo;s plans, fell through.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>In June 1996, Karimov paid his first visit to Washington, DC. President Clinton felt uneasy about Karimov&rsquo;s already appalling human rights record, but agreed to meet with him if the Uzbek leader pledged to release 89 political prisoners. Karimov agreed to the deal, although, in the end, only five of the prisoners were actually confirmed to have been released. If Karimov received a cool reception at the White House, he was greeted more enthusiastically at the Pentagon, where Defense Secretary William Perry praised Uzbekistan as &ldquo;an island of stability.&rdquo; This tension between Uzbekistan&rsquo;s economic and geopolitical value on the one hand and its embarrassing record of human rights abuses on the other has colored US-Uzbek relations ever since.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>In September 2000, the Clinton administration declared the IMU a terrorist group, citing its connection with Osama bin Laden, its involvement in the drug trade, the killing of civilians and its kidnapping of four American mountain climbers (who later escaped). This declaration delighted Karimov. However, five months later, the US State Department lambasted Karimov&rsquo;s government for torturing prisoners by beating them with blunt objects and asphyxiating them with gas masks.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>The 9/11 terrorist attacks proved to be a stroke of luck for Karimov. He was in the midst of an armed struggle with the al-Qaeda-affiliated IMU and feeling the pressure of the Taliban on his doorstep, when the events of Sept. 11 occurred. Literally overnight, the administration of President Bush was his new best friend. High-ranking American officials streamed into Tashkent and offered him money and friendship. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld made multiple visits to Karimov without saying a word about torture and human rights. Secretary of State Colin Powell assured the world that &ldquo;President Karimov wants to bring through a new generation that understands democracy.&rdquo; Reacting to Powell&rsquo;s meeting, the Washington Post editorialized that the Bush administration was sending the message that &ldquo;If you play ball with the United States in Afghanistan we will look the other way as a decade of democratization efforts is ground to dust.&rdquo;</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Within two weeks of 9/11, 200 American soldiers arrived in Uzbekistan, and Karimov turned over to the US his Khanabad military base. The Americans rushed military supplies to Uzbek General Dostum and then began bombing Afghanistan. The Taliban was driven from power and the IMU was destroyed. For Karimov, the defeat of his Islamist enemies was cause for celebration, but he was to reap even more benefits in the aftermath of 9/11. The number of US forces in Uzbekistan eventually surpassed 5,000. As the Russian newspaper Nezavisimaya Gazeta lamented, &ldquo;The arrival of every American soldier in Uzbekistan chips away at Russia&rsquo;s influence in the region.&rdquo; This was exactly what Karimov had hoped for. The Islamist guerilla forces were gone and Russia&rsquo;s influence was diminished. &nbsp;</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>There was even more good news for Karimov. In one year, US aid to Uzbekistan jumped from $85 million to $300 million. Dozens of members of the US Congress visited Karimov in Tashkent, and in March 2002, Karimov had tea in the White House with President Bush. As late as 2004, some members of Congress continued to praise Karimov. For example, during a visit to Tashkent in March of that year, Representative David Dreier (R-CA) gushed that he was &ldquo;very encouraged from the reports that we have been seeing in the area of human rights.&rdquo;&nbsp;</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>In the executive branch, confusion reigned. In July 2004, the State Department declared that Uzbekistan&rsquo;s human rights record was so poor that they cut off the $18 million in aid it was supposed to receive. The following month, however, the Department of Defense pledged $21 million in assistance to the Uzbek military.</div>
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Current U.S. Relations with Uzbekistan
<p>US-Uzbek relations cooled significantly following the &ldquo;color revolutions&rdquo; in Georgia, Ukraine, and Kyrgyzstan in 2003-2005. At this time the government of Uzbekistan sought to limit the influence of US and other foreign non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working on civil society, political reform, and human rights inside the country. Relations deteriorated rapidly following US and European demands for an independent, international investigation into the May 2005 Andijan violence.</p> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Relations improved in the second half of 2007 as both the US and Uzbekistan sought re-engagement under the terms of the March 2002 Declaration of Strategic Partnership. The declaration covers not only security and economic relations, but also political and economic reform, as well as human rights. This official line belies the fact that the US needs Uzbekistan to carry out commando, intelligence and reconnaissance missions, along with air logistics flights, to support military efforts in Afghanistan.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Admiral William Fallon, head of the US Central Command, stopped in Uzbekistan during his Central Asian tour in January 2008. The visit marked an intensification of US efforts to block Russia from strengthening its energy position in Central Asia. Karimov could use improved relations with the United States and European Union as leverage against Russia in various ongoing negotiations, including discussions covering Uzbek access to the Prikaspiisky Pipeline project.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>In February 2009, US officials admitted that the Obama administration was considering resuming military cooperation with Uzbekistan as a potential backup plan given the uncertain future of a nearby air base in Kyrgyzstan.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>A total of 4,488 Uzbeks visited the US in 2006. The number of Uzbeks traveling to the US has fluctuated between a low of 3,885 (2004) and a high of 5,534 (2002) in recent years.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div><a href="http://www.eurasianet.org/departments/insight/articles/eav012308b.shtml"><font color="#0000ff">US-Uzbekistan Relations: Another Step Toward Rapprochement?</font></a><span> (EurasiaNet.org)</span></div> <div><a href="http://www.cfr.org/publication/8887/interview_with_nancy_lubin_on_usuzbek_relations.html"><font color="#0000ff">Interview with Nancy Lubin on U.S.-Uzbek relations</font></a> (Council on Foreign Relations)</div> <div><a href="http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2009/02/05/considers-uzbekistan-backup-base-military-officials-say/"><font color="#0000ff">U.S. Considers Uzbekistan as Backup Base, Military Officials Say</font></a> (Associated Press)</div>
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Where Does the Money Flow
<p>Uzbekistan&rsquo;s strategic importance to the United States goes beyond its geopolitical location vis-&agrave;-vis Afghanistan. The Central Asian country is also a major supplier of uranium. In fact, the sale of this and other nuclear fuels from Uzbekistan to the US constitutes the majority of all trade between the two nations. In 2008, the US imported a total of $292 million in goods from Uzbekistan&mdash;of which, $285 million was nuclear materials and other fuels.</p> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>US exports to Uzbekistan consists largely of civilian aircraft, which jumped from $0 in 2006 to $144 million in 2008, and represented about half of all exports that year, and pharmaceutical preparations, which increased from $269,000 to $40.9 million.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>The aforementioned exports do not, however, include military sales. US arms sales to Uzbekistan since Sept. 11 have consisted predominantly of non-lethal communications equipment and electronics. Between FY 97 and FY 01, Uzbekistan concluded less than $3 million in arms sales, as compared to more than $90 million between FY 02 and FY 06, according to the Center for Defense Information.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Since FY 05, the United States has also provided Uzbekistan with several sources of counterterrorism training and funding, which are not contingent on State Department certification. Uzbekistan is a beneficiary of the Regional Defense Counterterrorism Fellowship Program (CTFP) receiving $200,000 in FY 05 and FY 06 and will receive an additional $25,000 in FY 07. Uzbekistan has also received funding to expand its counterterrorism capabilities through the Foreign Operations budget&rsquo;s Anti-Terrorism Assistance program (NADR-ATA), which is part of the Nonproliferation, Antiterrorism, Demining, and Related Activities account. Uzbekistan received $2.4 million in FY 05, but was not allocated any funds in FY 06 and is only slated to receive $500,000 in FY 08.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>The US sold $79,188 of defense articles and services to Uzbekistan in 2007.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>In 2007 the US gave $15.5 million in aid to Uzbekistan. The budget allotted the most funds to Health ($4.2 million), Agriculture ($3.2 million), and Civil Society ($3 million).</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>The 2008 budget estimate decreased aid to $10.2 million, and the 2009 budget request will decrease it further to $7.9 million.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>The 2009 budget will dedicate the most aid to Civil Society ($2.4 million), Health ($2.3 million), and Rule of Law and Human Rights ($1.1 million). Funding has declined, especially for Peace and Security programs, because of Uzbekistan&rsquo;s often uncooperative stance towards the US.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div><a href="http://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/statistics/product/enduse/imports/c4644.html"><font color="#0000ff">Imports from Uzbekistan</font></a></div> <div><a href="http://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/statistics/product/enduse/exports/c4644.html"><font color="#0000ff">Exports to Uzbekistan</font></a></div> <div><a href="http://www.state.gov/t/pm/64484.htm"><font color="#0000ff">Uzbekistan: Security Assistance</font></a></div> <div><a href="http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/101368.pdf"><font color="#0000ff">Congressional Budget for Foreign Operations (pages 640-643)</font></a> (PDF)</div> <div><a href="http://www.cdi.org/pdfs/Uzbekistan.pdf"><font color="#0000ff">US Military Assistance and Sales to Uzbekistan</font></a> (Center for Defense Information)</div>
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Controversies
<p><b>US Ambassador Sees Changes in Human Rights for Uzbekistan</b></p> <div>Observers regularly commented during the Bush administration about how the US wants to restore bilateral relations with Uzbekistan, despite its poor human rights record. Instead, US officials tended to elaborate on &ldquo;certain progress&rdquo; being achieved by the Karimov government.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>This trend was particularly undeniable during &ldquo;Law Enforcement, Human Rights, and Security,&rdquo; a joint Uzbek-American forum the US Embassy arranged in Tashkent on March 13, 2008. Human rights activists, journalists, and the socially active were invited to the forum. While US Ambassador Richard Norland noted that human rights in Uzbekistan showed no significant changes for the better in 2007, the diplomat elaborated on certain progress in the human rights sphere allegedly noticed in Uzbekistan. &ldquo;We perceive signals that certain non-governmental organizations may be permitted to resume human rights observance monitoring and efforts to develop civil society. Regardless of the past suspicions concerning their activity, that is,&rdquo; Norland said. &ldquo;Certain web sites are available again to Internet browsers [the diplomat never said which web sites]. Some human rights activists are released from prisons.&rdquo; Norland then condemned critics who refused to see positive changes in Uzbekistan.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Some at the forum disagreed with Norland&rsquo;s assessment. &ldquo;The human rights situation is worsening. Tighter sanctions against Uzbekistan are needed,&rdquo; Yelena Urlayeva of Human Rights Alliance said. &ldquo;We arranged a picket in front of the Prosecutor General&rsquo;s Office earlier today. The protesters numbering 30 people or so were attacked by a bunch of women purporting to be Gypsies. The women had something heavy in their carryalls, and two protesters were hospitalized. That&rsquo;s how the authorities operate.&rdquo;</div> <div><a href="http://enews.ferghana.ru/article.php?id=2344"><font color="#0000ff">An update on the Uzbek-US relations. The stick and the carrot policy again?</font></a> (by Omar Sharifov, Ferghana Information Agency)</div> <div><b><font size="6">&nbsp;</font></b></div> <div><b>Uzbekistan Evicts U.S. From Air Base after Human rights Criticism</b></div> <div>Uzbekistan formally evicted the United States in March 2005 from a military base that had served as a hub for combat and humanitarian missions to Afghanistan since shortly after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. 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 US Embassy in Tashkent. The message did not give a reason. Uzbekistan gave the United States 180 days to move aircraft, personnel and equipment. Previously, a Pentagon spokesman called access to the airfield &ldquo;undeniably critical in supporting our combat operations&rdquo; and humanitarian deliveries. The United States paid $15 million to Uzbek authorities for use of the airfield since 2001. The eviction notice came four days before a senior State Department official was to arrive in Tashkent for talks with the government of President Islam Karimov. The relationship had been increasingly tense since bloody protests in the province of Andijan. 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 US 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.</div> <div><a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/07/29/AR2005072902038.html"><font color="#0000ff">U.S. Evicted From Air Base In Uzbekistan</font></a> (by Robin Wright and Ann Scott Tyson, Washington Post)</div>
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Human Rights
<p>In 2003, Uzbekistan President Islam Karimov ordered parliament to pass a law that made him and all members of his family immune from prosecution forever. Later he made it illegal to refuse to praise him and his policies during religious services. Actually insulting him was punishable by up to five years in prison. He also criminalized placing loyalty to Islam above loyalty to the nation&rsquo;s leaders. For good measure, Karimov banned the study of Arabic, which was being used by students and scholars to read the Quran in its original language.</p> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Upon the issuance of a United Nations report on torture in Uzbekistan in December 2002, UN Special Rapporteur Theo van Boven told reporters that &ldquo;torture, as far as I can see&hellip; is not just incidental, but systemic in nature.&rdquo;&nbsp;</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>According to Human Rights Watch, at least 7,000 political prisoners are held in Uzbek custody at any given time. Many of them are subjected to &ldquo;psychiatric treatment.&rdquo;&nbsp;</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Another group at danger in Uzbekistan is journalists. In 2002, in one of his periodic gestures to please the outside world, Karimov magnanimously announced an end to media censorship.&nbsp;Actually, media censorship had been outlawed by the 1992 constitution. But there had never been much need for official censorship since the threat of beatings and torture had always been enough to encourage self-censorship. In June 2002, the Committee to Protect Journalists declared Uzbekistan the only country in Europe or Central Asia that imprisons journalists &ldquo;for carrying out their professional duties.&rdquo;</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>One typical case of torture in Uzbekistan was that of Muzafar Avazov, a 35-year-old father of four, who, along with a companion, Husnidin Alimov, died while incarcerated in Jaslyk prison.&nbsp;When his body was released to his family, it was covered with heavy bruising, his fingernails were gone and more than 60% of his body was burnt, leading observers to surmise that he had been scalded in boiling water. Relatives of other prisoners have reported that their family members are forced to sign statements begging Karimov for forgiveness and admitting that they are terrorists. Karimov bragged that 50 to 60 people were sentenced to death in 2004.&nbsp;Neither the prisoners nor their families were informed of the dates of their executions and, in some cases, even their burial sites were kept secret.&nbsp;Karimov, as a point of information, had designated 2004 the Year of Kindness and Mercy.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Although the US State Department repeatedly condemned Uzbekistan&rsquo;s use of torture to extract confessions (real or imagined) from prisoners, the CIA took advantage of Karimov&rsquo;s brutal methods.&nbsp;Following the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the Bush administration approved a practice known as extraordinary rendition, in which the CIA handed over suspected terrorists to other nations for interrogation. Over the next three years, dozens of prisoners were airlifted from the US prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, as well as from other sites, to Tashkent, so that Uzbek security personnel could take care of them. In July 2004, Craig Murray, the United Kingdom ambassador to Uzbekistan, wrote a memo to the British Foreign Office accusing the CIA of using the rendition program to violate the United Nations Prohibition Against Torture. The Foreign Office responded that it was alright to use information gained by torture as long as the torture was not performed by British interrogators.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>According to the State Department&rsquo;s annual human rights report for 2008, the Uzbek government held approximately 34,000 inmates at 53 detention facilities. Prison conditions remained poor and in some cases life threatening. There continued to be reports of severe abuse, overcrowding, and shortages of food and medicine. Tuberculosis (TB) and hepatitis were endemic in the prisons, making even short periods of incarceration potentially life-threatening. Prison officials stated that approximately 1,000 inmates were infected with TB. This number could not be confirmed by international health and other organizations. Family members frequently reported that officials stole food and medicine that they tried to deliver to prisoners. There were reports of inmates working in harsh circumstances. Still, several knowledgeable sources reported that authorities had made some progress in the past two years in improving prison conditions, notably in combating the spread of TB.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Sources reported that authorities in some prisons continued to hold political prisoners. Those convicted of membership in banned religious extremist organizations were held in specially demarcated sections of prisons and subjected to harsher conditions and treatment than other prisoners. However, there were reports that authorities at several prisons across the country reintegrated religious prisoners with the mainstream population. Reports showed that authorities did not release prisoners, especially those convicted of religious extremism, at the end of their terms. Instead, prison authorities frequently contrived to extend inmates' terms by accusing them of additional crimes or claiming that the prisoners represent a continuing danger to society. These accusations were not subject to judicial review.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Corruption among law enforcement personnel remained a problem. Police routinely and arbitrarily detained citizens to extort bribes. Impunity was a problem, and the government rarely punished officials responsible for abuses. The Ministry of Information&rsquo;s (MOI) main investigations directorate has procedures to investigate abuse internally and discipline officers accused of rights violations; and has done so in a few cases. The MOI created a new human rights department that has taken positive actions in some police brutality cases. The human rights ombudsman's office, affiliated with the parliament, also has the power to investigate such cases. However, there was no independent body charged with investigating such allegations on a systematic basis.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>There were numerous reports during the year 2008 of police and other security forces entering homes of human rights activists and religious figures without a warrant authorization from a representative of an independent judiciary. Members of Protestant churches who held worship services in private homes reported that on numerous occasions armed security officers raided worship services and detained church members on suspicion of illegal religious activity. There were also reports of government authorities harassing Andijan refugees' relatives who remained in Uzbekistan.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>The government sought to control NGO activity, often citing the role played by internationally-funded NGOs in promoting so-called &ldquo;color revolutions&rdquo; that allegedly toppled governments in other former Soviet states, as well as concerns about Islamic fundamentalist groups. The law broadly limits the types of groups that may form and requires that all organizations be registered formally with the government.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>The law prohibits rape, including rape of a &ldquo;close relative,&rdquo; but the Criminal Code does not specifically prohibit marital rape, and there were no cases known to have been tried in court. Cultural norms discouraged women and their families from speaking openly about rape, and instances were almost never reported in the press.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>The law does not specifically prohibit domestic violence, which remained common. While the law punishes physical assault, police often discouraged women from making complaints against abusive husbands, and abusers were rarely taken from their homes or jailed. Wife beating was considered a personal affair rather than a criminal act.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div><a href="http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2008/sca/119143.htm"><font color="#0000ff">U.S. State Department</font></a></div> <div><a href="http://www.hrw.org/en/europecentral-asia/uzbekistan"><font color="#0000ff">Human Rights Watch</font></a></div> <div><a href="http://www.amnesty.org/en/region/europe-and-central-asia/eurasia/uzbekistan"><font color="#0000ff">Amnesty International</font></a></div>
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Debate
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Past Ambassadors
<p>Note: The United States recognized Uzbekistan on Dec 25, 1991, and established diplomatic relations on Feb 19, 1992. Embassy Tashkent was established Mar 16, 1992, with Michael Mozur as Charg&eacute; d'Affaires ad interim.</p> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Henry Lee Clarke<br /> Appointment: Aug 11, 1992<br /> Presentation of Credentials: Sep 9, 1992<br /> Termination of Mission: Left post Sep 30, 1995</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Stanley T. Escudero<br /> Appointment: Aug 30, 1995<br /> Presentation of Credentials: Oct 12, 1995<br /> Termination of Mission: Left post Oct 3, 1997</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Joseph A. Presel<br /> Appointment: Nov 10, 1997<br /> Presentation of Credentials: Dec 3, 1997<br /> Termination of Mission: Left post Oct 23, 2000</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>John Edward Herbst<br /> Appointment: Sep 15, 2000<br /> Presentation of Credentials: Nov 1, 2000<br /> Termination of Mission: Left post Jul 12, 2003</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Jon Robert Purnell<br /> Appointment: Dec 12, 2003<br /> Presentation of Credentials: Jan 28, 2004<br /> Termination of Mission: Left post, Apr 28, 2007</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div><a href="http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ho/po/com/11336.htm"><font color="#0000ff">Former U.S. Ambassadors to Uzbekistan</font></a></div>
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Uzbekistan's Ambassador to the U.S.
ambassador-image Nematov, llhom

Ilhom Nematov has served as Uzbekistan’s ambassador to the United States since February 2010.

 
Born on May 1, 1952, Nematov graduated from Fergana Polytechnic Institute in 1973. He holds a PhD in economics.
 
From 1973 to 1978, he was the head of production in construction organizations for the Namangan region. He continued to hold senior positions in construction for the next 11 years, while also serving in executive and party organizations.
 
Beginning in 1989, he attended the Diplomatic Academy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, and graduated in 1992.
 
For the next five years, Nematov held different diplomatic assignments while serving abroad.
 
He was a senior consultant in the office of the Uzbekistan president (1996-1997), before becoming ambassador to India.
 
From 1999 to 2000, he was an adviser to the minister of foreign affairs, followed by his roles as first deputy minister of foreign affairs and deputy minister of foreign affairs from 2000-2008. He was national coordinator of the Central Asian Cooperation Organization (CACO) and also represented Uzbekistan at meetings of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.
 
Prior to taking over as ambassador to the U.S., Nematov was Uzbekstan’s ambassador to Russia.
 
Nematov is married and has four children. He speaks English and German.
 
Official Biography (Embassy of Uzbekistan)
 

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Uzbekistan's Embassy Web Site in the U.S.
<p><a href="http://www.uzbekistan.org/"><font color="#0000ff">Uzbekistan's Embassy in the U.S.</font></a></p>
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U.S. Ambassador to Uzbekistan

Krol, George
ambassador-image

George A. Krol was nominated as U.S. Ambassador to Uzbekistan on July 1, 2010.

 
Krol was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1956, and raised in Manchester Township, New Jersey, the youngest of three sons of Mr. and Mrs. Anthony J. Krol. He attended St. Peter’s Preparatory School in Jersey City, and earned a Bachelor’s degree in History, magna cum laude, at Harvard University. At Oxford University in England he received both Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Philosophy, Politics and Economics.
 
Krol taught at the National War College, and joined the U.S. Foreign Service in 1982, taking assignments for the State Department in India, Poland and the Ukraine. From 1993 to 1995, he served as Deputy Chief of Mission and Chargé d’affaires in Minsk, Belarus. Between 1995 and 1997, he was Special Assistant to the Ambassador-at-Large for the New Independent States, and from 1997 to 1999 he served as Director of the Office of Russian Affairs—both positions based in Washington, D.C.
 
In 1999, Krol was named Minister-Counselor for Political Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, Russia, a post he held through 2002. The following year he was appointed U.S. Ambassador to Belarus, a position he held through 2006.
 
In April 2007, President George W. Bush announced his intention to nominate Krol to be the U.S. ambassador to Turkmenistan, but he was never confirmed, although the reasons are unclear. The position remains unfilled.
 
Prior to his appointment as ambassador to Uzbekistan, Krol served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs. Among his responsibilities was engaging in direct consultation with Uzbek government officials.
 
 

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