Friday, September 29, 2006

Bush entertains Kazakh autocrat

No sooner was Dick Cheney finished criticising Russia for its record on democracy than George Bush was sitting down with the president of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, to thank him for his country's support in the 'war on terror'.

You could not make this stuff up. The media
in Kazakhstan is controlled by the state and since the country achieved independence in December 1991 no election has been seen as free or fair. In February this year the death of one of Nazarbayev's main opponents was widely believed to have been the work of the country secret service.

Kazakstan sent 29- that's TWENTY NINE- troops to Iraq. Now I'm not knocking that contribution. It's not their fight over there and I've no idea what kind of standing army they have. I'm guessing in a country with a population of 15 million the army is not spectacularly large. But doesn't ol' Georgie boy not appear a little too grateful for
Nazarbayev's modest support?

Moldova, for example, has, according to the website, 33 troops in Iraq, outstripping the Kazakhs by four troops. As far as I know the president of Moldova, Vladimir Voronin, has yet to receive an invitation to the White House to be bathed in Bush's munificence. And goodness knows what Nambaryn Enkhbayar president of Mongolia thinks of Bush's back-slapping given his country has provided 133 troops to the war effort.

Could Bush's willingness to cosy up to
Nazarbayev have anything to do with Kazakhstan's vast untapped reserves of oil, estimated by some as the largest outside the Kingdom of Saud?


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