Addressing a joint session of Congress and a national TV audience on September 20, 2001, George W. Bush declared that the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) had “links” to Osama bin Laden, prime suspect in the September 11 attacks in the United States. Henceforth, the US would consider the IMU an international terrorist organization, and a target in the administration’s “war on terrorism.”
Few doubt that the prolongation of the presidential term in Uzbekistan’s January referendum paves the way for presidency for life for Islam Karimov. The Uzbek regime is building a controllable democracy, combining the expansion of democratic-looking institutions with restricted civil liberties and human rights. All this is unlikely to affect Washington’s ever-strengthening ties with its newest ally.