Thursday, November 02, 2006

A crooked alliance in the war on terror? (lol)

* I've been meaning to write about this for a few days - not least because it seems to be somewhat related to Sibel's story:
A crooked alliance in the war on terror?
FBI report ties former Kyrgyzstan leader, and U.S. ally, to organized crime

An FBI report obtained by NBC News suggests that the ruling family of the remote and mountainous Central Asian nation of Kyrgyzstan oversaw a vast international criminal network that stretched all the way to a series of shell companies in the United States.

Still, it was Kyrgyz then-President Askar Akaev’s alliance with the U.S. government, and his role in the war on terror, that may raise the most disturbing questions. Akaev, who was deposed in a revolution last year, agreed to let the Pentagon open an air base in his country for operations in Afghanistan.
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After Akaev fled the country, that air base, called the Manas, or “Ganci” airbase, was at the heart of an immense diplomatic struggle as relations between the U.S. and Kyrgyzstan soured. Kyrgyz officials alleged the U.S. funds going to Akaev’s family should have been going to the state treasury instead.

This summer, after months of wrangling, the U.S. finally announced a deal to pay $150 million over the next year to various Kyrgyz projects, and the Kyrgyz government has agreed to keep the base open.
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Even before the base opened, Akaev was a complex figure, seen alternatively as a reformer and as a dictator. He became president in 1990, in the former Soviet Republic, and was reelected in 2000 in a landslide vote that the State Department said was “marred by serious irregularities.”

But after 9/11, and after he permitted the air base to open, he became a close U.S. ally.
Sibel talks about Kyrgyzstan, and military bases - and presumably arms/narco trafficking.

It appears that the report was leaked by the DoD - and I've been trying to work out why, and why now. It totally looks like a limited hangout - which suggests that it might portend some other news.

And now we get this:
Kyrgyz leader Kurmanbek Bakiyev faced a barrage of fresh accusations and threats of protest from the opposition on Wednesday despite reaching a compromise deal on political reforms.

Bakiyev reached an agreement with opposition leaders late on Tuesday on a new draft of the constitution that curbs some of his powers and hands them to parliament -- the opposition's key demand.

But despite the deal, the opposition renewed its call for his resignation and vowed to organise countrywide street rallies on Thursday to protest against his rule.

"We still want his resignation. It (the compromise) looks great only on paper. We are not satisfied," Melis Eshimkanov, an opposition member of parliament who attended talks with Bakiyev, told reporters.

The impoverished former Soviet nation has teetered on the brink of political crisis since Bakiyev came to power in 2005 after riots ousted his long-serving predecessor, Askar Akayev.

Instability in Kyrgyzstan, home to both U.S. and Russian military airbases, worries the West as it looks for signs of any unrest spilling into other Central Asian states.

"Eight of our remaining demands are still up in the air. Bakiyev said he'd think about it," Eshimkanov said.

The demands include promising measures against crime and corruption and severing what they say are his links to businesses previously controlled by Akayev.
More from the AP:
Bakiyev was elected in 2005 following the ouster of longtime President Askar Akayev, but his reign has been marred by high-profile slayings, prison riots and battles for control of lucrative businesses.

Impoverished Kyrgyzstan, hailed in the 1990s as an "islet of democracy" in Central Asia, has been roiled by deterioration of public security, economic problems and political tensions.
Was the NBC article somehow related to these protests? I dunno. It doesn't seem so at first glance. The timing is curious tho. It's interesting that the NBC article appeared to try to paint a picture of the incumbent govt vs the previous govt - but now we are hearing that perhaps there are 'business' links between the two administrations...

If my assumption that the original story was leaked by the Pentagon is accurate, what are the chances that they didn't know that there was some turmoil imminent?

I love the headline from msnbc: "A crooked alliance in the war on terror? " yada yada.

One very interesting thing about the article is that it mentions a US connection - in the sub-head - but then virtually ignored it completely in the actual article.

1 comment:

Kathleen said...

I can't wait till Sibel can speak. It'll be mythic.