Opinion » Ted Rall

Why to Impeach Obama

Why is the FBI helping a monstrous dictator?

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Forget the IRS, AP and Benghazi. The real scandal is President Barack Obama's decision to support one of the world's most evil dictators.

In a little-noticed move, Obama's FBI has arrested Fazliddin Kurbanov, a 30-year-old Uzbekistani political dissident who, were this 1983, would be dubbed a "freedom fighter."

Kurbanov, who came to Boise as a refugee in 2009, faces the catchall charges used by the feds: conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization--in this case, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan--and conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists. The indictment alleges that he researched and made videos about how to make IEDs to use in Uzbekistan.

Major plot point: Kurbanov's "terror plot" did not target the United States.

Originally based in rural Tajikistan and southern Kyrgyzstan, the IMU's goal is to overthrow Uzbekistani President Islam Karimov, the most brutal dictator in Central Asia since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Karimov's regime brooks no dissent: Torture and murder of political opponents is widespread. Karimov is best known for boiling dissidents such as Muzafar Avazov and Khuzniddin Alimov to death and for orchestrating the 2005 Andijan Massacre, in which at least 400 civilians were slaughtered.

After Andijan, even the ethics-deficient Bush administration decided that enough was enough, pulling U.S. forces out of Karshi-Khanabad airbase, which it had leased since 2001, and slashing military aid.

Even by the cynical standards of international realpolitik, Karimov is radioactive--the kind of over-the-top despot Americans normally consider targets of "regime change," or at least trade sanctions.

"Radioactive" is an unfortunate choice of words, since Uzbekistan's uranium is part of why the United States is sucking up to him.

Rather than targeting Karimov with drones or cruise missiles, Obama has the butcher of Andijan on speed dial, reaching out in 2011 to ask the Uzbek leader for permission to ship war materiel through his benighted country into U.S.-occupied Afghanistan. In 2012, despite a Human Rights Watch report that found that life under Karimov had gotten worse since Andijan, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Obama agreed to restore Karimov's billion-dollar aid package.

To further ingratiate the United States to Karimov, the White House targeted the IMU. But the IMU has never attacked America.

The IMU's misfortune has been to fall on the wrong side of the "enemy of our friend is our enemy" equation.

No doubt, the IMU is a violent insurgent group. During one of its summer offenses, it kidnapped four American climbers in 2000. But the fact that the climbers were American appears to be unrelated to their capture.

IMU fighters have clashed with U.S. forces in Waziristan and Afghanistan. But the IMU has shown no sign of bringing the fight to the United States. IMU ideology is local and regional, limited to spreading Sharia-based governments first and foremost in Uzbekistan.

The U.S. government is at war with radical Islam. The question is: In a conflict between a dictator and a small group of would-be revolutionaries, should we take sides--especially the side of the dictator?

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