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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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Despite the fact that Chad's military has been accused of using child soldiers, Parade notes that “the U.S. continues to train Chadian commandos.”

5. Islam Karimov, Uzbekistan

The thing that makes Karimov so special is his ( alleged) penchant for boiling his political opponents to death. 

Karimov has been president of Uzbekistan since 1990, when he won the first of a number of rigged elections by a huge margin. Torture, arbitrary detentions and massive roundups of religious minorities are commonplace in Uzbekistan, according to Human Rights Watch. But the country has been a key partner of the U.S. in its “war on terror,” hosting U.S. troops at the Karshi-Khanabad airbase until 2005. Relations cooled somewhat after Karimov encouraged the U.S. to abandon the base, but as Parade notes, “U.S. trade with Uzbekistan doubled in 2008, as Americans continue to import huge amounts of Uzbek uranium, which is used for nuclear power plants and weapons.” The following year “Uzbekistan Airways ordered Boeing jetliners worth about $600 million.”

6. Meles Zenawi, Ethiopia

Zenawi has ruled Ethiopia for 20 years. Just last year, after what Human Rights Watch called “months of intimidation of opposition party supporters,” Zenawi's party, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front, won 99.6 percent of the vote. Legitimacy!

Ethiopia is a key strategic partner in the “war on terror,” and contributes significantly to African peace-keeping operations. According to the U.S. Agency for International Development, the United States is the largest donor to Ethiopia. Congress passed a law, over the objections of the Bush administration, that restricts military aid to the country until it has a free press and the Zenawi regime improves its human rights record, but – and this is a big but – it exempts aid for “counter-terrorism.” So despite the fact that, according to Amnesty International, Ethiopian opposition groups are illegal, NGOs have been banned and Ethiopians often disappear without trial, the U.S. continues to train Ethiopian troops.

 

7. King Abdullah Bin Abdul-Aziz, Saudi Arabia

Bush kiss

Apparently, when a theocratic Islamic state does horrible things to its citizens, it's only a big deal if that state is named Iran. Saudi Arabia, of course, is among the United States' most important allies – the U.S. government has provided security for the Saudi royal family for decades, in exchange for which … oil.

Abdullah has instituted some reforms since taking power in 2005, but Human Rights Watch  says the “initiatives have been largely symbolic, with only modest concrete gains or institutional protection for rights.” Amnesty International's 2010 report  charges that the Saudi authorities continue to use ”a wide range of repressive measures to suppress freedom of expression and other legitimate activities.” 

Hundreds of people were arrested as suspected terrorists. Thousands of others arrested in the name of security in previous years remained in jail; they included prisoners of conscience. Some 330 security suspects received unfair trials before a newly constituted but closed specialized court; one was sentenced to death and 323 were sentenced to terms of imprisonment.

 

There you have it -- a grand collection of bastards, yes. But remember: they're our bastards!

 
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