They Love Us in Uzbekistan

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Writing in the British Webzine Spiked, Josie Appleton notes that according to a recent international survey of attitudes toward America, Uzbekistan came out as the U.S.'s "most loyal ally," with 85 percent of the folks there giving us the thumbs up. Overall, though, the numbers are down from a year ago, prompting Appleton to conclude:

Across the world, many people still seem to admire US achievements. Many praise America's technological and scientific advances—more than 80 percent in parts of Africa, Asia and Latin America. People also express a liking of American popular culture—76 percent in Britain, 65 percent in Lebanon and 66 percent in Germany.

Yet when these influences are given a vaguely ideological bent, in the question about the spread of 'American ideas and customs', attraction turns to repulsion—only 39 percent in the UK, 28 percent in Germany and 26 percent in Lebanon say that this is a 'good' thing. The ideals and habits associated with America, the pinnacle of modern capitalism, are failing to win the hearts and minds of the world elsewhere.

What these results suggest is that while America has won the battle for economic and military dominance—it remains unrivalled both in terms of GDP and military capability—it is losing the cultural struggle. No wonder self-image has become one of its major millennial concerns.

The full survey, conducted by the Pew Research Center For the People and the Press, is online here.

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  1. I don’t think it’s an issue of America “losing” the cultural war. The fact is, no one wants ‘ideas and customs’ of other nations to take over their own. I am sure that a huge proportion of Americans would show revulsion at the idea of French ‘ideas and customs’ spreading to America, even though that is unlikely to happen. With American might and percieved power, however, the fear of other nations’ customs supplanting the native ones is more immediate.

    America doesn’t have to do much to ‘win the hearts and minds’ other than talk straight and act accordingly. The failure to do so in the past, to hold double standards, and ignore problems in one place that are deemed worthy of military action in others are the problems– not any sort of cultural war. Give respect where it is due, and you will be respected.

  2. Has there been any decrease in the acceptance of, nay, the hunger for American cultural products overseas? If not, these polls are highly suspect.

  3. I agree with both of the above, especially Franklin. That such a question would ellicit a certain defensive was my immediate reaction as well. I think we can all agree that the question isn’t measuring what Appleton purports it to.

  4. The problem with polls like this is that if you ask someone if they want US culture, then they’ll say no out of national pride. But if you ask them if they want a Mickey Mouse T-shirt, a Coke, or an Eminem CD, then they’ll say yes. Each of those little choices add up to other cultures willing embracing aspects of US culture without many people being in favor of embracing American culture.

  5. Having spent some time overseas, I actually encountered very little anti-Americanism. (Aren’t we actually talking about “anti-America-ism”?)

    I found that when you probe those with anti-US attitudes, envy is at the root of almost all of them. And those that are the most envious were also the most ignorant about American history and values.

    I remember reading a quote once on the difference between an American and a European. When an American sees a huge mansion sitting on a hill, he thinks “Someday, I’m going to live in that house.” When a European sees a huge mansion sitting on a hill, he thinks “Someday, I’m going to burn down that house.”

  6. When you offer someone a specific thing from a culture, like a Mickey Mouse t-shirt or a Coke, they are adopting it into their culture. When you ask someone if they want one culture to take over theirs, of course they’re going to say no.

  7. The best thing about a survey like this is that it reminds us that there’s a difference between liking Mickey Mouse and Coca-Cola, and with wanting America running your nation’s affairs. This is the same fear people have in this country when we talk about the worrisome influence of big government and big business on our lives. People in Lebanon want to have a Coke like everybody else; they just don’t want to lose their cultural identity in the process.

  8. “No wonder self-image has become one of its major millennial concerns.”

    I think a poll conducted in the US would show that American concern for what people in other countries think of us is right about nil.

  9. Responding to Tommy: People can only lose their cultural identity if they choose to (though they have no to little control over what their descendents choose).

  10. American-Uzbek swindlers are wanted by Uzbekistan authorities

    /Novaya Gazeta, Issue #55, July 31, 2003/

    A new scandal is about to happen in the United States – some the largest American companies, such as Coca-Cola, Philip Morris, Procter&Gamble, and others have fallen a victim to swindle. However, Europeans are also in the list of victims. For example, Swiss company Nestle.
    Heads of the export-import company Roz Trading Ltd., – US citizens of the Uzbek origin: Mr. Abdul Rauf Maqsudi and his sons – Mansur Akhmed and Farid Akhmed. Now, all of them are wanted by Interpol. The Uzbek authorities accuse the owners of Roz Trading Ltd. on money laundering, extortion, official forgery, deliberate evasion from taxes, large-scale bribery and organizing of system of illegal transactions with the largest American companies by imitation of export of their production to Uzbekistan. Official documents on this criminal case are handed to the US Attorney General.
    One of the used swindle schemes is rather interesting, though it is simple. Operating as a purely Uzbek company, Roz Trading Ltd. made favorable contracts with the American companies on delivery of their production to Uzbekistan. In doing so they managed to achieve very serious discounts: transnational “giants” traditionally give a price reduction for the new or developing markets. Further, without the knowledge of manufacturers, the consignments successfully passed by Uzbekistan, getting in other Republics of the former USSR, Dubai, or were sold directly on a place, in territory of the United States. And discounts left to the Maqsudis.
    According to the Uzbek Office of Prosecutor, fraud was a basis of the Maqsudis’ business. One could only imagine, how this business prospered when Roz Trading Ltd. was receiving up to 30% discounts for top saleable goods. When representatives of the American companies wanted to be personally convinced on how their goods are sold, they were carried to Tashkent where samples of production of the appropriate companies were in an extra hurry scattered on stalls of the central market. Foreign visitors usually were very pleased and didn’t guess at all that they became witnesses of well-staged show.
    The interesting information on violations of the clan was given with the letter of Ahmet Bozer, Director of the Eurasia and Near East branch of Coca-Cola, addressed to the Uzbek Prime Minister (the editors has a copy of letter). The letter – as a matter of fact, is the respond to inquiry of the Uzbek authorities concerning Roz Trading Ltd. activity, which was the holder of a controlling packet of shares of American – Uzbek JV Coca-Cola Bottlers of Uzbekistan.
    The information of Mr. Bozer sheds light on how business has been done in Coca-Cola Bottlers of Uzbekistan. It was found out that as soon as Roz Trading Ltd. set up a joint venture with Coca-Cola in Uzbekistan and Mr. Mansur Maqsudi became its manager, an American partner was regularly deceived. After receiving control packet of shares Maqsudis almost completely pushed their partners out of the business management and started to control it almost solely. Americans had to hire an audit company that discovered a number of violations in activities of the major shareholder. Now Coca-Cola is alienating itself from the scandal motivating this that it did not have a chance to influence activities the JV.
    It proves to be true by the words of the Coca-Cola Bottlers of Uzbekistan company’s employee Irina, who in telephone conversation with our correspondent has told that the Maqsudis were always stating that it was their family business, but not business of Coca-Cola. Under a pretext of reinvestments through dummy firms they took the most part of the profit to themselves, and other founders practically did not get any profit. Irina asked us not to publish her surname because, according to her words, the Maqsudis have informers in Uzbekistan. She said that all employees were afraid of them, they were very tough and any violation of rules were punished, even if it was highly skilled professional.
    Deputy General Prosecutor of Uzbekistan, Mr.Khamidjan Nematov in interview given to our correspondent stated that the Uzbek side is ready to cooperate with anyone who suffered from activities of the Maqsudis – both father and brothers. The list includes not only Americans, we already mentioned Swiss company Nestle. In Deputy General Prosecutor’s opinion the Maqsudis clan have used all types of fraud invented and disseminated on the territory of the former USSR.
    The investigation in Uzbekistan steadily brings more and more interesting results. Recently ex-employee of Roz Group Mr. Farkhod Inogambaev stated that fraud was the aim of company’s founders. He added that the “lofty words about the strategy of the company appeared to be false… they affirmed that the major aim of the company was to deliver high quality goods to the people of Uzbekistan, but in reality they illegally re-exported those goods to the neighboring countries. It was the only reason why Procter&Gamble, their biggest partner, ceased relationship with them… Lately, the cooperation with Gillette also came to an end”.
    Similar situation occurred in the other companies owned by the Roz Group, especially Valuelink. In Valuelink, there was well-developed system of parallel trading according to which goods ordered for Uzbekistan were sold in Dubai, US and even Africa. When representatives of producing companies (like “Colgate”, “Alberto-Culver”) wanted to visit Uzbekistan to investigate marketing outlets, Valuelink and Roz played well-prepared show.
    In another statement Mr. Inogambaev insists that large amounts of cash that was illegally taken out of Uzbekistan to Dubai, Roz Group purchased goods for re-export to the United States, in that way laundering all the illegal cash.
    Authorities declared an international inquiry for the Maqsudis (farther and both brothers) and looking forward for their fast capture and extradition to Uzbekistan. Anyway, if the clan decided to disappear, it’s necessary to search for them not only in a country of their citizenship – the United States, but rather in the United Arab Emirates or in Republics of former Soviet Union.

  11. October 28, 2003

    TALES OF MONEY, POWER AND SEX: FORMER ADVISER TO UZBEK PRESIDENT’S DAUGHTER OUTLINES WEB OF CORRUPTION AT COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY TALK

    On October 27, Columbia University’s International Affairs Building was the site of an extraordinary tale of financial and political corruption in Uzbekistan by Farhod Inogambayev, former advisor to Gulnora Karimova, the daughter of Uzbek President Islam Karimov. Described by the Financial Times as “prodigiously rich, tall with striking looks, a black belt in martial arts and a degree from Harvard Business School,” Gulnora Karimova is considered the second most powerful person in Uzbekistan. In a two-hour talk, Inogambayev publicly documented fraud, money laundering and corruption within the Karimov circle, focusing primarily on the financial affairs of Karimova. World Monitors Inc. staff member Melisa Moehlman was among those present, and made the following report:

    Inogambayev detailed alleged incidents of financial fraud, money laundering and corruption carried out by Gulnora Karimova from September 2001 – April 2003, while he was one of her financial advisors. Although the Karimov family was known to keep most of their assets in secret accounts at Credit Suisse in Switzerland, according to Inogambayev maintaining the secrecy of these accounts became difficult after September 11, 2001, when banking regulators became particularly suspicious of accounts from Central Asia or the Middle East holding substantial assets. As a consequence of this new scrutiny, Inogambayev said that Karimova directed him to establish several personal accounts and business holding companies for her and her family in the United Arab Emirates free trade zone.

    Inogambayev said he initially created for Karimova a holding company called Revi Holdings in the Sharjah free trade zone of the UAE. Revi Holdings opened bank accounts into which large unaccounted for sums of cash were transferred. When banks required explanations for the sources of the funds, Inogambayev said Karimova refused to provide any information.

    According to Inogambayev, the money in the Revi Holdings accounts came primarily from Karimova’s corrupt business dealings. He said Karimova acquired 51.6% of Uzbekistan’s largest telecom company, Uzdunrobita, by means of unlawful seizure and extortion. Before her acquisition, 51% of the company was state-owned, and 49% was controlled by an American company, ICG Communications, Inc., based in Georgia. She seized 31% of Uzdunrobita from the state agency that owned it, and convinced ICG to hand over 20% of its holdings by threatening to revoke its license to operate in Uzbekistan. Uzdunrobita, valued at close to US$100 million, recently awarded a contract to the Chinese company Huawei Technologies to develop a GSM network. According to Inogambayev, ICG was also forced to give Karimova a US$1.2 million kick-back for the contract.

    Inogambayev asserted that because Karimova’s corrupt dealings with Uzdunrobita were well-known, and Revi Holdings was under increasing international scrutiny, she ordered him to set up another holding company, called United International Group, which she used to seize Uzbekistan’s largest cement company. She also took control of Coca-Cola’s Uzbekistan operations, formerly owned and operated by her ex-husband, Mansur Maqsudi. Maqsudi is a US citizen living in New Jersey with whom Karimova is engaged in a bitter custody battle over their two children. The children are currently in her care, but the Supreme Court of New Jersey has ordered that they be returned to their father. According to an August 18 report in the Financial Times, a warrant for her arrest has been issued should she enter the US or any other country with which the US has an extradition treaty. In addition to Coca-Cola Uzbekistan, Karimova seized other assets belonging to her ex-husband and his family, and put them all into United International Group.

    The United Arab Emirates has minimal restrictions on cash movements — reportedly it allows an individual to enter or leave the country with very large sums of money in a suitcase without questions. Depositing money in a bank is a bit trickier. Inogambayev said Karimova’s transactions were often justified by characterizing them as advertising, consultancy or management fees. He asserted she also launders cash through the Uzbek company OA Stores. Although OA Stores’ charter says its purpose is to import pediatric medical supplies into Uzbekistan, it actually imports scarce consumer items such as sugar, Levi’s blue jeans, and Benetton clothing, and consequently serves as the perfect laundering mechanism. By putting the money through OA Stores, Karimova is able to convert the Uzbek currency from her many business holdings into US dollars, and then move it to her holding account in the UAE.

    Inogamvaye said the Uzbek government recently awarded a contract to exploit a gold field outside Samarkand with known reserves of 60-70 metric tons to “a great and capable United Arab Emirates company,” United International Group, Karimova’s holding company. According to Inogambayev, the company is little more than a name and a post office box, having absolutely no capacity to carry out operations of any kind. He believes Karimova will outsource the mining operations to another company, and then take a substantial share of the royalties and fees.

    In addition to her other Uzbek business ventures, Karimova also runs the only travel agency in Uzbekistan responsible for tourist travel to the United Arab Emirates. Inogamvaye said that most Uzbek “tourists” travelling to the UAE are in fact women forced by the country’s dreadful economy to work abroad as prostitutes to earn money for themselves and send back to their families. He said these women are often well-educated, formerly working as doctors, lawyers and other professionals. Inogambayev estimated that 70-80% of the “tourists” traveling from Uzbekistan to the United Arab Emirates are Uzbek women going as prostitutes.

    Inogambayev asserted that Karimova is aware of this situation, and that her “travel” agency profits from it. He said she rejects suggestions that it looks bad for the President’s daughter to be profiting from women fleeing the country to prostitute themselves abroad, responding that someone else would do it and profit if she did not.

    Inogambayev described Karimova as a spiteful, emotionally unstable woman, obsessed with power and money and possessing frightening power and control in Uzbekistan. He believes her actions are supported and encouraged by her family, and that a strong possibility exists that she could succeed her father as President. Were that to happen, he believes the country would only experience further regression of the economy, human rights, and any other progress made in the social, economic or political spheres.

    Inogambayev said he escaped with his family to the US with the help of Human Rights Watch, Transparency International, the Open Society Institute and other organizations. He said he brought with him documentation of the charges he has made.

    Inogambayev said he is working to organize an NGO to be called the Uzbekistan Transparency Association, and plans to collaborate with Transparency International, Global Witness, Human Rights Watch and the Open Society Institute.

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  12. http://www.insightmag.com/news/449583.html

    Insight on the News – World
    Issue: 08/19/03

    Divorce Drama Goes International
    By Doug Burton

    For two years a long-running divorce battle between a mega-wealthy New Jersey immigrant and the daughter of the president of Uzbekistan has intrigued readers of the East Coast tabloids as a case of “Daddy’s Money vs. Daddy’s Government.” But this War of the Roses domestic dispute now has emerged as a sensitive foreign-policy and international criminal matter with potentially significant implications both for the United States and an exotic region still in turmoil but vital in the war against terrorism.

    Scant attention was given to such geopolitical matters when Mansur Maqsudi won a custody battle in a New Jersey court to claim custody of his two children and divorce the daughter of the president of Uzbekistan, Islam Karimov.

    Maqsudi had been the president and majority shareholder of the Coca-Cola Bottling Co. in Tashkent. But when the marriage started to break up in the summer of 2001, the one-time golden eagle for Coke in Central Asia seemed to have become an albatross around the company’s neck, with repeated visits from the Uzbek tax police preceding a shutdown of the Coca-Cola plant there for four months in 2002 as top management fled the country.

    In the meantime stories about the domestic warfare between the Uzbek couple have included accounts, real or imagined, of a foreign government’s retribution against a rich man whose spurned former wife has excited the full fury of descendants of the Mongol chiefs of Tamerlane, including the wrath of her father, the president of Uzbekistan. Indeed, an investigation by Insight has uncovered allegations of corruption, tax evasion, international oil deals and the bilking of millions of dollars of investments through phony transactions and shady deals – virtually on all sides.

    From Maqsudi’s side, which refuses to go tit for tat on Uzbekistan’s allegations, are claims of money laundering, extortion and corruption, including allegations against the Karimov family and government. He promised full details – though not by Insight’s deadline.

    On the other side, Uzbekistan’s attorney general, Rashitjon Kadirov, claims that Maqsudi owes millions in taxes, cheated his U.S. suppliers of consumer products he had contracted to sell in Uzbekistan but didn’t and traded for oil from Saddam Hussein’s Iraq – to name but a few of the charges underpinning an Interpol arrest warrant for Maqsudi, his brother and his father.

    The charges have caught the attention of Rep. Curt Weldon (R-Pa.), a leader on the House Armed Services Committee. He tells Insight he wants Attorney General John Ashcroft to cooperate with the Uzbek government’s request to question Maqsudi in connection with a growing assortment of allegations of criminal conduct, including alleged Uzbek tax dodging equivalent to $17 million. Weldon says flatly, “I would support the Department of Justice’s investigation of the business dealings of Mr. Maqsudi, and I have shared my position on the matter with Attorney General Ashcroft. The allegations brought to my attention that I believe warrant a thorough investigation range from extremely troubling business practices to fraud and tax evasion.”

    Weldon is a congressional leader for normalizing trade relations with Russia and other former members of the Soviet Union and is cochairman of the recently formed U.S.-Uzbekistan Congressional Working Group.

    But the wealthy Maqsudi, a naturalized U.S. citizen, has his own friends on Capitol Hill. In August 2001, then-senator Robert Torricelli (D-N.J.) wrote to President Karimov to complain about reports that Maqsudi’s parents had been harassed and strip-searched by government agents at the airport as they fled Uzbekistan. And Maqsudi has hired former New Jersey congressman Richard Zimmer, a well-connected Republican, to help deal with the public war surrounding the divorce struggle.

    Maqsudi tells Insight in a brief telephone interview that “all those actions taken against me are because I divorced the president’s daughter.” And, he says, in an Uzbeki equivalent of so’s your old man: “All the things the [Karimov] government accuses me of doing is what they are doing themselves.”

    Although he won a court order from a New Jersey judge granting him custody of his two children in January, they remain with their mother in Tashkent where he cannot get them. Maqsudi tells Insight that at least 21 U.S. congressmen and senators have sent letters on his behalf to Karimov. Several of these letters provided to this magazine by Maqsudi’s attorneys are from congressmen urging Karimov to release three of Maqsudi’s relatives from jail.

    Zimmer tells Insight that all the charges against his client are phony or otherwise trumped up by a corrupt and dictatorial government. He also says that while officials of the U.S. Department of Justice did request that his client cooperate with the Uzbek investigation, “We responded that we were not going to cooperate, and they did not pursue it.” Zimmer’s law firm wrote to the Justice Department in February declaring that its clients “are victims of a vicious terror campaign by Uzbek authorities, who have targeted the Maqsudis ever since Mansur Maqsudi’s marriage to Uzbekistan President Islam Karimov’s daughter collapsed.”

    But Uzbekistan’s top tax officer, Utkir Kamilov, claims Maqsudi evaded taxes worth $17.6 million. And documents from the Justice Ministry in Uzbekistan charge that Maqsudi concealed various trades and deals while running the Coca-Cola bottling plant and unrelated companies by trading upon his family relationship with the Uzbek president until government auditors uncovered the alleged illegal schemes around April 2001. Uzbek officials sent an official request to Ashcroft in late 2001 asking for formal Justice Department assistance to question Maqsudi, his father Abdurauf and his elder brother Farid on a wide range of questions relating to their company ROZ Trading Ltd., which was the major partner in the Coca-Cola venture.

    A year later, the Uzbek government sent an addendum to the request, shortly after it had issued an Interpol arrest warrant for all three. A Justice Department spokesman tells Insight that its communications with foreign governments are privileged and that it cannot comment on whether or how it may have complied with the official Uzbek petition to Ashcroft.

    Documents and interviews obtained by Insight nevertheless show there has been much behind-the-scenes activity churning charges and countercharges of fraud, deception and corruption. For example: Depositions by former managers of ROZ Trading and a letter from the attorney general of Uzbekistan to the minister of justice of the United Arab Emirates allege that the Maqsudis violated international sanctions by using the Coca-Cola Bottling Co. in Tashkent to purchase embargoed oil products from Iraq and Iran in 2001 and then exported them elsewhere.

    The deputy prosecutor general of Uzbekistan, Khamidjon Nematov, states in one letter to the minister of justice of the United Arab Emirates that, “by falsification of documents, Uzbekistan was identified as the country of origin” for said oil products exported to Germany, Latvia, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

    According to an undated deposition given by Farhod Inogambaev, a ROZ Group manager from 1994 to 2001, the Maqsudis violated the trade license of their company, known as Valuelink FZE and based in Dubai, by using the firm to trade for oil, some of which was purchased from Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. Inogambaev further stated in his deposition to Uzbek authorities: “The oil/petroleum-products operations included the purchase of Uzbek oil products from Coca-Cola Bottlers in Uzbekistan Ltd. and exported outside Uzbekistan. To my knowledge the company was buying diesel of Iraqi origin.”

    Nematov tells Insight that, “Financial crimes have become the mechanism of exporting worldwide terror, and we are pleased with the cooperation we have received from the U.S. government [the Justice Department and the IRS] on the case of Mansur Maqsudi, a U.S. citizen who is a wanted criminal in Uzbekistan for international financial crimes.” Nematov adds: “It is our hope that, with the cooperation of the United States, Mr. Maqsudi will soon be brought to justice.”

    The letters from the Uzbek justice ministry and the tax office further claim that ROZ Trading Ltd. fraudulently chartered ROZ Trading Ltd. in Uzbekistan and reneged on its legal obligation to invest $500,000 in its startup ventures. Nematov claims ROZ defrauded its multinational partners, chiefly Procter & Gamble and Alberto Culver, by contracting to sell personal-care products in Uzbekistan, then relabelling the products and reselling them for larger profits in the United States, the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates and African countries. This is a largely illegal practice known as “parallel trading.”

    Maqsudi denies all these charges and claims they have been fabricated by the Uzbek government at the instigation of his former wife. He tells Insight in a faxed statement: “My family and our business scrupulously complied with the laws of Uzbekistan. The criminal charges against us are false. They are the direct result of an outrageous vendetta by my ex-wife and her father that has brutally victimized my extended family and our business associates.” He continues: “No wrongdoing has ever been alleged against us by the government of the United States of which we are citizens and in which we have lived and done business for more than 20 years.”

    So who are these people around whom all this international intrigue is whirling? Until the divorce battle surfaced two years ago, they kept a low profile in their elegant family compounds in New Jersey. Most were born in Afghanistan of Uzbek ethnicity. Mansur’s father, Abdurauf Maqsudi, 71, reportedly was born a peasant in Uzbekistan and moved with his family to Afghanistan where he helped his own father and other family members run a shop until the mid-1960s. The family patriarch reportedly has a fifth-grade education but today presides over a multinational financial empire based in the Cayman Islands, the United Arab Emirates, the United States and, until two years ago, Uzbekistan.

    Sources contacted by Insight claim that the elder Maqsudi rose to riches on the tide of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. A. Zulfiqar, an opponent of the Karimov regime, published an op-ed in the newspaper ERK for Jan. 16, 1994, charging that Abdurauf Maqsudi had a long history of fraud and embezzlement. He allegedly was imprisoned in Afghanistan in 1972 for misusing funds lent to him by the government of Afghanistan and later allegedly stole millions of dollars from the regime installed in Kabul after the Soviet takeover in 1979.

    According to Zulfiqar, Abdurauf Maqsudi began exporting fruit to the Soviet Union in the 1960s and after a time came under the wing of former Afghan prime minister Hoshim Sharq, who was believed to have ties to the Russian KGB. Maqsudi later was installed by the Soviets as chairman of the Afghan-Soviet Trade Council during the regime of Babrak Karmal, and in this capacity traveled frequently to Moscow, according to Zulfiqar’s report and other sources contacted by Insight.

    Zulfiqar claims the Soviets granted Maqsudi a bank credit worth $3 million with which he was supposed to purchase replacement parts for light machinery. They allegedly were left empty-handed when Maqsudi relocated to the United States and opened an electronic-equipment store in New York City. Mansur Maqsudi emigrated to the United States with his siblings and parents in 1979; that same year his elder brother Farid entered college in the United States. Mansur met his future wife in Tashkent in 1991 and the two were married that same year. Both earned graduate degrees from Harvard University.

    All this is as fascinating as it is byzantine. But, whatever the truth, this divorce drama has wide implications for the newfound U.S.-Uzbek alliance in the war on terror. Uzbekistan emerged in early 2002 as a prized U.S. ally in its war on the Taliban in Afghanistan. President Karimov, the former Communist Party boss of Uzbekistan when it was part of the Soviet Union, welcomed U.S. troops onto his nation’s air bases, where many still are stationed today. And Karimov widely is regarded as the foremost friend of the United States among the so-called “-stans” of Central Asia, as attested by his meeting with President George W. Bush last year at the White House.

    As this twisted story of Dynasty on the high plains of Central Asia unfolds, it is apparent the ties that once bound a power couple at Harvard have devolved into a Gordian knot for U.S. officials who assuredly do not need further complications in that part of the world.

  13. In case your are interested MAQSUDI who stole so much money from COCA-COLA in Uzbekistan is now in negotiations with PEPSICO for Afghanistan.

    Just recnetly the Uzbek government forwarded his case to Attorney General John Ashcroft.

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