The United States' relationship with Hosni Mubarak has been spotlighted recently as Egyptian protesters and American commentators question the Obama administration's support of a president clearly opposed to the will of the people. Salon's Justin Elliott has understandably decided this a good time to step back and take a look at some of the other repressive dictatorships supported by the American government. He offers a sample of some of America's friends with the worst human rights records: Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Equitorial Guinea.
The Saudi Arabian government, for example, ignores the rights of its female and Shi'a citizens as well as its foreign workers. Human Rights Watch is seriously concerned with the Saudi government's prohibition of free expression, movement and association "as well as a pervasive lack of accountability." Still, the United States is planning to sell the Saudis "84 F-15 fighter aircraft and almost 200 helicopters, as well as trainers, simulators, generators, spare and repair parts, and other related elements of program support, according to CNN."
Jordan, on the other hand, received $300 million in military aid from the United States just last year. Jordan is also on Human Rights Watch's radar, where police torture is pervasive and free speech and government criticism are forbidden by law.
Turkmenistan and its vast gas reserves have long been of U.S. interest. Sharing a border with Afghanistan, Turkmenistan is a delivery point for war supplies on their way to American bases. The regime, currently run by the dentist of the former "president-for-life," is known for several human rights violations including, but not limited to, arbitrary arrest, detention and torture; harassment of religious minorities; violence against women; restricted free speech and press, and the list goes on. This hasn't stopped the United States from providing the dictatorial dentist and his government with $2 million in military aid last year.
Meanwhile, Uzbekistan reportedly boiled two prisoners to death. The Bush administration sought it out as an ally leading up to the war in Afghanistan, while the Obama administration is currently working on mending relations with the country following the lifting of sanctions. Reason for sanctions? Killing protesters.
Then there's Equatorial Guinea, both a dictatorial state with large oil reserves and one of America's "good friends." The president, whose family and friends are funded by the state's oil revenues, is known by Human Rights Watch as the leader of a corrupt government that regularly tortures its arbitrarily detained prisoners. Elliott notes that the president's son reportedly spent "more on luxury goods between 2004 and 2007 than the country's annual education budget." We appear to be busy training their soldiers through the American International Military Education and Training program.
Still not nauseated? Elliott points to a more comprehensive study of America's aid to human rights violators at the Center for Public Integrity.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.