the Disillusioned kid: UKzbekistan
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Thursday, June 30, 2005


It's been a while since I posted anything about Uzbekistan, but this article in today's Guardian brought me back to the subject. It reveals that UK "military advisers" trained Uzbek troops in "marksmanship" shortly before the government-orchestrated massacre in Andijan which claimed the lives of hundreds of civillians. I've been looking for sometime, but finding details of British involvement in the country and its dealings with the Karimov regime has been difficult. Much more attention has been focused, unsurprisingly, on the US role. As this article demonstrates, however, that doesn't mean that the UK is faultless. Far from it:
The training was part of a larger programme funded by Britain despite concerns expressed by the Foreign Office at the time over the Uzbekistan government's human rights record.

A group of Uzbek military cadets were given a "coaching course" in marksmanship by British soldiers in February and March this year.


It is not known whether any Uzbek military students or officers trained by Britain were involved in this or any other operation against civilians.

Details of Britain's military training programme in Uzbekistan have been given by Adam Ingram, the armed forces minister, in answers to parliamentary questions from the Liberal Democrat defence spokesman, Michael Moore.

Over 100 Uzbek military personnel were trained by the British military advisory and training teams between October last year and March, at cost of £175,000. The courses included "field training" and instructor training, as well as coaching in marksmanship. Uzbek soldiers, including senior officers, have also been trained in Britain, in courses ranging from peacekeeping to "war-fighting".

One Uzbek officer attended a course in "managing defence in a democracy".
I doubt whether, in reality, this had much to do with "defence" let alone "democracy" in a country ruled by a regime as repressive and brutal as that of Islam Karimov.

The article also reports that military Land Rovers were used in the Andijan "operation". These
appear to have been assembled under licence by the Turkish company Otokar.

There had been a joint exercise between the Uzbek and Turkish armies. Land Rovers "might have been put at the disposal of the [Uzbek] military", a spokesman for the British-based company told the Guardian last month.
Imagine the response if, prior to the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russian equipment built under licence elsewhere had been used for a similar operation in an allied country.

But don't worry:
The Ministry of Defence said last night: "Our limited activities in Uzbekistan are designed to sow the seeds of democratic management and accountability of the military."
So that's alright then.

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