I was struck by several statements in tonights ATC report, "Taliban Borrows Brutal Tactics from Terrorists." In this piece Michele Norris talks with Scott Peterson of the Christian Science Monitor, who is in Kabul. Early on Norris states, "after 9/11 Afghanistan was a success story; the US military was talking about how they were able to easily crush the Taliban. I guess the question now is how is it they were able to come roaring back." Well, that is a question--but it ignores well founded dissenting opinions about just how "successful" the story of Afghanistan was after 9/11. If one goes "way back" to 2002, Ted Rall was detailing how the US campaign had already sowed the seeds of failure (it's a prescient piece). Further evidence of these seeds of failure can be found in the cast of criminals who have found sanctuary in the highest levels of Afghanistan's current government (something that Human Rights Watch has also noted). Peterson seemed to agree with Norris as he offered no challenge to her framing of the current situation.
A second, really troubling statement was made by Peterson. He stated that "we've seen evidence of al-Qaeda and also Taliban remnants rebuilding over the last few years and kind of actually conducting attacks in places like Uzbekistan and in a lot of other countries." Uzbekistan? Interesting. I did a little digging around and could find no reliable evidence of al-Qaeda or Taliban attacks in Uzbekistan. In fact what I found was a mountain of evidence that Uzbekistan is a nightmarishly repressive torture state (just read a bit of Human Rights Watch's collection here). Yes, there were suicide bombings attacking police in the capital Tashkent in March 2004 and the Guardian noted that Uzbek authorities "said that the Islamic fundamentalist group Hizbut Tahrir was behind the blasts, a group the authorities have repeatedly persecuted and tortured for terrorism, despite the US and UK thus far considering the group non-violent." The Guardian goes on to report that "the Uzbek persecution of Hizbut Tahrir, which reportedly involved some prisoners being boiled to death, has led to insistent criticism of the regime of President Islam Karimov from human rights groups, the Foreign Office and the EU."
These are large and really inexcusable distortions of events in Southeast Asia, especially as the situation in Afghanistan looks to be getting even worse--with dire implications for the people living there and for us, too. And papering over the sickening situation in Uzbekistan is really irresponsible and sad.