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It Ain't Just Mubarak -- 7 of the Worst Dictators the U.S. Is Backing to the Hilt

From Saudi Arabia to Uzbekistan to Chad, the U.S. keeps some very bad autocrats in power.
 
 
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Embattled Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, whose regime has received billions in U.S. aid, has been in the global media spotlight of late. He's long been “our bastard,” but he's not alone.

Let's take a look at the other dictators from around the planet who are fortunate enough to be on Uncle Sam's good side.  

1. Paul Biya, Cameroon

Biya has ruled Cameroon since winning an “election” in 1983. He was the only candidate, and did pretty well, getting 99 percent of the vote.

According to the country's Wikipedia entry, “The United States and Cameroon work together in the United Nations and a number of other multilateral organizations. While in the UN Security Council in 2002, Cameroon worked closely with the United States on a number of initiatives. The U.S. government continues to provide substantial funding for international financial institutions, such as the World Bank, IMF, and African Development Bank, that provide financial and other assistance to Cameroon.”

Amnesty International details unlawful executions, journalists being thrown in jail and a host of other nasty business.

As part of a strategy to stifle opposition, the authorities perpetrated or condoned human rights violations including arbitrary arrests, unlawful detentions and restrictions on the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly. Human rights defenders and journalists were harassed and threatened. Men and women were detained because of their sexual orientation.

2. Gurbanguly Berdymuhammedov (or Berdymukhamedov), Turkmenistan

Berdymuhammedov came to power in 2006 when his predecessor died and the constitutionally mandated successor was thrown in jail.

According to the State Department, “For several years in the 1990s, Turkmenistan was a key player in the U.S. Caspian Basin Energy Initiative, which sought to facilitate negotiations between commercial partners and the Governments of Turkmenistan, Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Turkey to build a pipeline under the Caspian Sea and export Turkmen gas to the Turkish domestic energy market and beyond--the so-called Trans-Caspian Gas Pipeline (TCGP).” Parade Magazine's list of the world's worst dictators notes that “the U.S. continues to import oil from Turkmenistan ($100 million worth in 2008), while Boeing provides airplanes to the Turkmen government. Chevron ... opened an office in Turkmenistan’s capital, Ashgabat.”  

Human Rights Watch says that while Berdymuhammedov has taken some steps “to reverse some of the most ruinous social policies” of his predecessor's rule, “the government remains one of the most repressive and authoritarian in the world.”

3. Teodoro Obiang Nguema, Equatorial Guinea

Thirty-two years ago, Obiang Nguema deposed – and then executed -- his uncle, Francisco Macías, in a bloody coup. Peter Maas called him not only “Africa's worst dictator,” but a man whose life “seems a parody of the dictator genre.”

Obiang ... had promised to be kinder and gentler than his predecessor, but in the 1990s, even the U.S. ambassador to Equatorial Guinea received a death threat from a regime insider, the ambassador has said, and had to be evacuated. Not long after that, offshore oil was discovered, but the first wave of revenues—about $700 million—was transferred into secret accounts under Obiang's personal control.

According to Parade, “The U.S. imported more than $3 billion in petroleum products from Equatorial Guinea” in 2008. 

4. Idriss Deby, Chad

We also imported $3 billion worth of oil from Chad that year. According to the State Department, “The United States enjoys cordial relations with the Deby government. Chad has proved a valuable partner in the global war on terror, and in providing shelter to approximately 200,000 refugees of Sudan's Darfur crisis along its eastern border.”

Amnesty International's 2010 report on Chad paints quite a picture:

Civilians and humanitarian workers were killed and abducted; women and girls were victims of rape and other violence; and children were used as soldiers. The authorities failed to take adequate action to protect civilians from attacks by bandits and armed groups. Suspected political opponents were unlawfully arrested, arbitrarily detained and tortured or otherwise ill-treated. Harassment and intimidation of journalists and human rights defenders continued. Demolition of houses and other structures continued throughout 2009, leaving thousands of people homeless.

 
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