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New US Ambassador to Tajikistan Seems to be Up To the Task

By Martin Berger – New Eastern Outlook – 29.03.2019

To this day Central Asia remains an arena of struggle for a number of major international players, namely Russia, China and the United States. In this struggle, Washington has now started losing its influence, which resulted in a series of desperate attempts to establish a sound foothold in this region, which could serve as a bulwark against both Russia and China. Against this backdrop, it’s no coincidence that the so-called private intelligence service known as Stratfor would reveal in its forecast for this year that the United States is planning to step up its efforts in Central Asia, especially in those countries that share a common border with Afghanistan, namely Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. This service won’t go into much detail about the efforts it’s referring to, but it’s hardly a secret that Washington has been busy redeploying radical Islamists from Syria, where they are getting defeated by the government forces and its allies, to Afghanistan, while making claims about its devotion to the fight against terrorism and drug trafficking.

In this situation, a relatively small regional player – Tajikistan found itself at the forefront of Washington’s attempt to push Moscow and Beijing out of the region. The US is particularly interested in influencing the foreign policy pursued by Dushanbe due to the two following reasons.

First of all, Tajikistan is not just an immediate neighbor of Afghanistan, but it shares the longest common border with this country out of all of the former Soviet republics – 800 miles in total. Secondly, Dushanbe has been enjoying close ties with Russia, which resulted in Moscow establishing its largest overseas military installation in Tajikistan – the 201st Military Base.

Due to the negligible size of its economy and its relative geographic isolation, Tajikistan can hardly be described as a promising trade partner of the United States, as Western oligarchs would have a hard time justifying investments in this country. So, the only approach that Washington can take in influencing Tajikistan into those decisions that it’s not willing to make is to complain about Dushanbe undermining democratic values, while pursuing closer military cooperation with it. For instance, as it’s been reported by a number of media sources, last year the Pentagon handed out 8 million dollars worth of military equipment to Dushanbe.

However, the situation on the ground may change rather abruptly and unexpectedly at any given moment. For instance, on the back of a long list of complaints Washington has made about Dushanbe being “not democratic enough” the West may decide to pursue a regime change in this country, which will result in the CIA and the Pentagon cutting costs on the illegal transit of opiates from Afghanistan.

That is why, in order to achieve its goals, the United States has been actively promoting the notion of establishing a regional young leadership network in Central Asia, under which young activists from Central Asian states would be able to receive education in Western universities together with the offspring of the regional elites. It goes without saying that after returning home those youngsters would promote Western neoliberal ideas, pedaling American interests like there’s no tomorrow. That is why Washington spends hundreds of millions of dollars on sponsoring various non-governmental organizations in Tajikistan.

In recent years, a large network of various organizations has been working for American money in the country, including, among others, the Soros Foundation, the Aga Khan, the Institute of War and Peace, and so on. In fact, there’s there’s well over 3,000 non-profit organizations registered in Tajikistan, with most of them being involved in the promotion of Western interests, including news agencies and law firms.

Back in the early 90s the United States and Tajikistan signed a deal on mutual attempts to facilitate the promotion of humanitarian and technical assistance. It’s hard to say how much money Washington has spent so far while promoting its narrative in Dushanbe, but it’s clear that USAID alone spent some 450 million dollars on such activities in the last three decades alone.

However, a series of “color revolutions” that Washington staged across the globe resulted in a considerable tightening of anti-NGO legislation in Tajikistan, which means that Dushanbe has been steadily increasing its ability to shape the internal situation within the country.

Now the US is testing a new strategy of coercion developed at the Pentagon for Venezuela and a number of other countries that dare to disagree publicly with Washington. It involves the use of a number of leverages, including financial sanctions and offensive online operations against the target country, along with the support of the political opposition and continuous threats of imminent military aggression.

There’s every reason to believe that the United States is going to test this new approach in Tajikistan, combining anti-government street protests with armed “revolutionary” jihad mounted by radical forces and, quite possibly, supported by a rebellion of local criminal groups. At the same time, Washington’s calculations of such developments clearly suggest that the leader of the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan, Muhiddin Kabiri would be advertised as the new leader of Tajikistan, while the prominent Badakhshan drug dealers would be tasked with fielding militants to support the runaway Tajik commander of the special forces who defected to ISIS, Gulmurod Khalimov. The Tajik portal Akhbor, in particular, has already announced that the United States initiated the transfer of elite ISIS fighters from Afghanistan that are being led by Halimov, with Saudi Arabia footing the bill for this operation.

Against this background, the arrival of the new US ambassador to Dushanbe, John Pommersheim can only be regarded as a troubling development. Pommersheim is considered to be one of the best experts on Russia in the entire State Department, as he would study Russian in Moscow after obtain scholarship from the US Department of Defense. The man who made a career at the US Information Agency (USIA) back in the 1980s is being transferred to Tajikistan from the US embassy in Kazakhstan. Moreover, Pommersheim is reverted as an expert on Central Asia and the Caucasus. His appointment in Tajikistan further demonstrates Washington’s growing interest in Central Asia. By using Tajikistan as a bridgehead, the United States can inflict extensive damage to both Russia and China, that are being described as the strategic opponents of Washington. In particular, should it succeed in destabilizing Central Asia, Washington would render the entire concept of the One Belt One Road initiative senseless, which implies China reorienting its trade routes to Europe from sea to land.

Of course, it would be naive to assume that John Pommersheim will start staging a “color revolution” in Dushanbe on the day of his arrival. As of now, the US cannot build enough momentum to force Russia or China out of Tajikistan. Instead it’s going to support all sorts of anti-Chinese and anti-Russian sentiments, taking advantage of the network of NGOs, the tactics that Pommersheim managed to master a long while ago.

We are going to follow the achievements of Pommersheim in Dushanbe rather closely, as it seems unlikely that Washington would have sent such a figure to Tajikistan for him just to enjoy the view.

March 29, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Daesh Militants Transfered From Pakistan to Tajikistan – Russian Official

Sputnik – January 28, 2019

Unidentified helicopters transported a large number of Daesh terrorists from Pakistan to the border with Tajikistan, close to Russia’s southern borders, Russian Deputy Interior Minister Igor Zubov said on Monday. Pakistan and Tajikistan are separated by Afghanistan’s Wakhan Corridor region.

According to the Russian minister, there may be some preparations for a provocation that may affect Russia.

“Daesh fighters in massive quantities were transported from Pakistani territory to the border with Tajikistan. In that area, perhaps, the militants might stage massive provocations that would result in huge amounts of refugees fleeing the territory. This would have an impact on Russia,” Zubov said.

This comes after earlier Col. Gen. Andrey Novikov, the head of the Commonwealth of Independent States Anti-Terrorism Centre, stated that Daesh terrorists were being transported to Afghanistan and Pakistan after facing defeat in Syria and Iraq.

Last year, the Syrian Arab News Agency reported that US helicopters evacuated Daesh leaders from several areas across the Syrian province of Deir ez-Zor to the country’s northeast. The US-led coalition, in turn, denied all accusations.

See also:

Is There a ‘Secret US Hand’ Supporting Daesh in Afghanistan?

January 28, 2019 Posted by | War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

China’s Investment Trap has Become a Major Concern in Central Asia

By Grete Mautner – New Eastern Outlook – May 26, 2018

Perhaps the most curious topic of today’s Central Asian agenda is the growing dependence of local states on Chinese loans, which would often be referred to in regional media sources as “means of neocolonialism.”

In recent years, China has visibly stepped up its involvement in the affairs of Central Asia states, taking advantage of both its loans and its soft power. However, Beijing is trying to pacify worried voices across the region terrified by the demographic and economic might of China. There’s no denying that Central Asia for China is among the most crucial regions, since it shares a common border with a number of regional countries that play a pivotal part in ensuring China’s security and supply of energy and resources.

Nobody is making a big secret today of the fact that China lends regional governments long-term loans with low annual interest rates that can get as low as 2%. Against the backdrop of those hard-to-get Western financial investments, there’s really no alternative to Beijing’s loans. However, those always come with strings attached, as China’s loans would often be provided to back up large infrastructure projects, with Beijing’s contractors demanded be involved, providing labor, logistics and technology.

This financial hegemony never seems to be after a swift return on investments, as it would be typically interested in getting the other state financially dependent. The debt that has grown with time can be restructured and paid through granting China access to raw materials or stakes in the national companies of those states that borrowed money from Beijing. But in what way does this differ from the classic colonial scheme when investments would often be repaid with natural resources and lands? It’s no wonder that the West is trying to do the same to Ukraine these days, demanding it to open the agricultural market to bring its fertile lands to the hammer.

Kazakhstan

There’s little doubt that Kazakhstan ranks first among regional states who’s national wealth relies on Chinese loans and direct investments. According to its national bank, Astana owed China the staggering 12.6 billion dollars at the beginning of this year.

Against the backdrop that China’s loans are granted on the condition of Beijing receiving access to this country’s raw materials along with stakes in a handful of national enterprises, the topic of Chinese loans remains by far the most uncomfortable for Kazakhstan to discuss publicly. The situation got even worse when in 2016 in local media sources announced that Kazakhstan was planning to put another 1.7 million hectares of land on sale, with spontaneous mass protests breaking out across the state, as no one believed that the land would not be sold to foreigners. These protests led to the adoption of moratorium on such sales until the end of 2021, but still such a possibility remains on the cards.

Kyrgyzstan

The American Center for Global Development published a report on China’s debtors last March, identifying a total of eight most financially vulnerable countries. Of the Central Asian countries, both Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan made the top of the list, since the sheer amount of money they are bound to pay Beijing has surpassed 50% of their total foreign debt.

Last year, Bishkek‘s national debt reached the staggering rate of 65% of this Kyrgyz state GDP, with external debt making up to 90% of this total.

As it was announced at the meeting of the Parliamentary Committee on Budget and Finance of Kyrgyzstan in April, the total debt of Kyrgyzstan to China has reached 1.7 billion dollars. The sole largest outside creditor of Bishkek is China’s own Export-Import Bank, that can demand local politicians to hand a total of 470,000 dollars back at any given moment. Sure, China’s involvement in Kyrgyzstan would be unthinkable without large infrastructural projects like roads, electric power infrastructure, along with local industries like the oil refinery of Kara-Balta and gold mines of Taldy-Bulak Levoberezhny.

The country will have to pay China back at least 320 million dollars in the next five years. At the same time, local elected representatives would repeatedly stress the fact that back in the day when an agreement with the Export-Import Bank of China was drafted, those negotiating it were not really taking Kyrgyz interests into consideration, so there’s a chance that when the above mentioned period is over, Bishkek won’t have the money to pay its largest creditor. In addition, the agreement implies that all legal disputes between Kyrgyzstan and China are to be settled in the the Hong Kong arbitration court, which doesn’t make things any more promising for the debtor. Moreover, in the next couple years additional 300 million are to be spent on the servicing of the external debt of Kyrgyzstan, and, according to the local ministry of finance, the Kyrgyz Republic will be theoretically capable to repay its debt to China in the next quarter century or so.

The matter of the massive Kyrgyz debt to China is kept out of the public discussion in the country, as it can trigger massive protests. But since Bishkek has an abundance of natural resources in the form of gold, iron, rare earth metals and other deposits, Beijing doesn’t look too worried about the prospects of its involvement in the affairs of this state.

Tajikistan

In the regional media, Tajikistan is often being referred to as the “ultimate hostage of Beijing” or even “the Chinese colony”, along with all sorts of equally humiliating comparisons.

Dushanbe’s national debt to the Republic to China at the beginning of the year reached 1209.6 million dollars, which amount to 50% of the total foreign debt of Tajikistan.

China is eagerly making investments into Tajik energy and road construction projects, along with a wide range of other sectors, including aluminum production, cellular communications, and gold mining.

As for the repayment for this massive debt, China’s TBEA has recently received exclusive rights to mine the Upper Kumarg gold mine. Earlier, this same company obtained access to the East Douba deposits. TBEA will be extracting gold from these sites until it returns the funds invested in the construction of a large power plant in Tajikistan. Earlier, TBEA received similar rights on the mining of coal in Tajikistan. But now it’s talking gold.

In addition to natural resources and shares in national enterprises, Tajikistan can grant China control over its transport routes and lands. For instance, back in 2011 Tajikistan surrendered to China 1% of its total territory, which amounts to more than 400 square miles of once disputed lands in the Eastern Pamirs. China is particularly interested in those areas that are rich in minerals (uranium, gold, bauxite, asbestos, rock crystal and much more). Therefore, it is possible that China is going to be more that willing to explore various scenarios of Dushanbe fulfilling its financial obligations to it in the future.

Turkmenistan

This republic is being known as a place where China has occupied a dominant position in a number of financial fields. The country has virtually no other revenues on top of those that it receives from exporting natural gas to China, however this country’s closed nature makes further analysis virtually impossible.

Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan, perhaps, can be found in a list of less defendant states in the region when China’s loans are concerned. However, recently China has been trying to address this drawback, as Uzbekistan looks a much more promising market for investments than most its neighbors.

There’s no point in arguing that loans are an instrument of external pressure. And China is known for its way of never writing off debts, like Russia would often do. On top of this, Beijing has a large number of unresolved territorial disputes, like the ones with Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. And if we take into consideration the fact the return of China’s historic territories is part of Beijing’s foreign policy, one can not exclude the fact that land concessions in exchange for investments will remain among China’s most desirable aspect of its foreign policy in the Central Asia region.

Today, there are strong fears across the region that China, which has become one of the largest regional players and a principal partner can demand them to pay the whole sum, while  Beijing sees no reason to be finicky in its investments, but there’s those that don’t want to experience this.

May 26, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | 3 Comments

US in Afghanistan to Influence Russia, Iran, China – Russian Foreign Ministry

Sputnik – March 14, 2108

The United States retains its presence in Afghanistan to exert influence on neighboring countries and regional rivals – namely, Russia, Iran and China, Russian Foreign Ministry’s Second Asian Department Director Zamir Kabulov told Sputnik in an interview.

“In our opinion, the United States is in Afghanistan primarily with the aim of controlling and influencing the political processes in its neighboring countries, and also demonstrating its power to its regional competitors, primarily China, Russia and Iran. The United States is clearly trying to achieve destabilization of Central Asia and later transfer it to Russia in order to subsequently present itself as the only defender against potential and emerging threats in the region,” Kabulov said.

According to the diplomat, Russia and other countries neighboring with Afghanistan have questions about the true goals and time frame of the US military presence in the Central Asian country.

“If the United States and its NATO allies intend to continue their destructive policy in Afghanistan, this will mean that the West is heading toward the revival of the Cold War era in this part of the world. We closely monitor the developments and are ready to respond in cooperation with our partners and other like-minded people,” Kabulov noted.

The diplomat pointed out that Washington still failed to understand that the Afghan conflict could not be resolved solely by military means, stressing that it was impossible to defeat the Taliban by force.

Moscow is puzzled by the attempts of the United States and NATO to persuade Afghanistan to replace Russian weapons and military equipment, such move leads to reduction of Afghan’s military potential, Zamir Kabulov told Sputnik in an interview.

“The course taken by the United States and NATO to persuade Kabul to replace Russia-made small arms and aircraft is surprising, as it will inevitably lead to a decrease in the combat capabilities of the Afghan armed forces and further deterioration of the situation,” Kabulov said.

The diplomat reminded that a bilateral intergovernmental agreement on Russia’s defense industry assistance to Afghanistan had entered into force in November 2016, adding that the document created the legal framework for Russian assistance in arming and equipping the Afghan security forces.

“At the moment, negotiations are underway on repairs and supplies of spare parts for the Afghan Air Force’s helicopters for various purposes, produced in Russia (the Soviet Union),” Kabulov added.

Afghanistan Parliamentary Election

The parliamentary election in Afghanistan is unlikely to take place in July in the current circumstances, Kabulov said.

“I do not think that the parliamentary elections in Afghanistan will be held in July this year as scheduled. The Taliban continue to control about half of the country’s territory, engage in hostilities, organize and carry out terrorist attacks in large cities, and, apparently, are not going to make compromises and reconciliation with the Afghan government,” Kabulov said.

Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission (IEC) is also unlikely to accomplish all the necessary procedures before the date set for the vote, given that the commission has announced earlier that the registration of voters will complete only by early August, the diplomat noted.

Furthermore, disagreements between the presidential administration and its political opposition regarding the parameters of the upcoming elections still remain unresolved, the official noted.

“In my opinion, if elections are conducted in the current circumstances, their results will not improve the political situation in the country and confidence in the current government, will not force the armed opposition to cooperate with the government,” Kabulov added.

The diplomat also noted that the Daesh terror group posed a serious threat to holding the election.

“The Daesh jihadists pose a serious threat to the security of the conduct of elections, especially in the north and a number of eastern provinces of Afghanistan. Some polling stations in the provinces of Helmand, Uruzgan, Kunduz, Badakhshan, Faryab and Ghazni are the most problematic in terms of security, according to the IEC data. I think that, in fact, the list of problematic areas in terms of organization of voting is much longer,” Kabulov said.

Afghanistan Reconciliation Talks

Russia considers the so-called Moscow format of talks an optimal platform for the promotion of national reconciliation in Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov noted.

“Unfortunately, the existence of a large number of international formats on the Afghan issue has not significantly contributed to the involvement of the Taliban in peace negotiations. In this regard, we consider the Moscow format of consultations launched by us in early 2017 as the optimal platform for substantive negotiations to promote national reconciliation and establish a constructive dialogue between the government of Afghanistan and the Taliban movement,” Kabulov said.

Kabulov also noted that Moscow considered the format of talks in the Afghan capital as one approach toward achieving a collective solution to the problems surrounding Afghan settlement.

“A signal of international support for the resolution of the intra-Afghan conflict through political dialogue with the government of Afghanistan has been sent to the Taliban. The Taliban ignored the recent meeting of the ‘Kabul process’ in the Afghan capital, insisting on direct talks with the United States,” the diplomat added.

In February 2017, Russia, China, Pakistan, Iran, India and Afghanistan came together in Moscow for talks to promote the national reconciliation process in Afghanistan through regional cooperation with Kabul in the leading role. Apart from the aforementioned states, the latest round in April gathered five Central Asian countries: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. The United States refused to take part in the meeting.

Afghanistan has long suffered political, social and security-related instability because of the simmering insurgency, including that of the Taliban, but also because of the actions of the Daesh terror group.

The United States has been in Afghanistan for almost 17 years following the 9/11 attacks. Before his election, Trump slammed sending US troops and resources to the Central Asian country.

March 14, 2018 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Propaganda, Confrontation and Profit

By Brian CLOUGHLEY | Strategic Culture Foundation | 06.12.2017

The waves, the artificial tides of anti-Russian propaganda continue to beat upon the ears and eyes of Western citizens, spurred by Washington politicians and bureaucrats whose motives vary from deviously duplicitous to blatantly commercial. It is no coincidence that there has been vastly increased expenditure on US weaponry by Eastern European countries.

Complementing the weapons’ build-up, which is so sustaining and lucrative for the US industrial-military complex, the naval, air and ground forces of the US-NATO military alliance continue operations ever closer to Russia’s borders.

Shares and dividends in US arms manufacturing companies have rocketed, in a most satisfactory spinoff from Washington’s policy of global confrontation, and the Congressional Research Service (CRS) records that “arms sales are recognized widely as an important instrument of state power. States have many incentives to export arms. These include enhancing the security of allies or partners; constraining the behaviour of adversaries; using the prospect of arms transfers as leverage on governments’ internal or external behaviour; and creating the economics of scale necessary to support a domestic arms industry.”

The CRS notes that arms deals “are often a key component in Congress’s approach to advancing US foreign policy objectives,” which is especially notable around the Baltic and throughout the Middle East, where US wars have created a bonanza for US weapons makers — and for the politicians whom the manufacturers reward so generously for their support. (Additionally, in 2017 arms manufacturers spent $93,937,493 on lobbying Congress.)

Some countries, however, do not wish to purchase US weaponry, and they are automatically categorised as being influenced by Russia, which is blamed for all that has gone wrong in America over the past couple of years. This classification is especially notable in the Central Asian Republics.

The US military’s Central Command (Centcom) states that its “area of responsibility spans more than 4 million square miles and is populated by more than 550 million people from 22 ethnic groups, speaking 18 languages… and confessing [sic] multiple religions which transect national borders. The demographics create opportunities for tension and rivalry.” Centcom is deeply engaged in the US wars in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan, and supports Saudi Arabia in its war on Yemen, and the extent of its influence in the Pentagon’s self-allotted geographical Area of Responsibility is intriguing, to say the least. Some of its priorities were revealed in March 2017 by the Commander of this enormous military realm, General Joseph Votel, in testimony to the Armed Services Committee of the House of Representatives in Washington.

General Votel’s description of US self-allocated “responsibilities” was astonishing in its imperialistic arrogance.

As Commander of Centcom, General Votel gave the Armed Services Committee a colourful tour of his territory, describing nations in terms ranging from condescendingly supportive to patently insolent, and he devoted much time to describing relations with countries abutting Russia, Iran and China, which nations, he declared, are trying “to limit US influence in the sub-region.” That “sub-region” includes many countries immediately on the borders of Russia, Iran and China, and averaging 7,000 miles (11,000 kilometres) from Washington.

CENTCOM countries (coloured)

First he dealt with Kazakhstan with which the US has its “most advanced military relationship in Central Asia” in furtherance of which Washington is “making notable progress… despite enduring Russian influence.” It is obviously unacceptable to the Pentagon that Russia wishes to maintain cordial relations with a country with which it has a border of 6,800 kilometres. Then General Votel went into fantasyland by claiming that “Kazakhstan remains the most significant regional contributor to Afghan stability…” which even the members of the Congressional Committee would have realised is spurious nonsense.

But more nonsense was to follow, with General Votel referring to Kyrgyzstan in patronising terms usually associated with a Viceroy or other colonial master of a region that Votel describes as “widely characterized by pervasive instability and conflict,” which he failed to note were caused by the US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

He told the Committee that Kyrgyzstan “sees political pressure from its larger, more powerful neighbours, including Russia, hosting a small Russian airbase outside the capital, Bishkek. Despite ongoing challenges in our bilateral and security cooperation, we continue to seek opportunities to improve our mil-to-mil relationship.” He did not explain why Kyrgyzstan should be expected to embrace a military alliance with United States Central Command, but Viceroys don’t have to provide explanations.

Votel then moved to consider Tajikistan with which “our mil-to-mil relationship is deepening despite Moscow’s enduring ties and the presence of the military base near Tajikistan’s capital of Dushanbe, Russia’s largest military base outside of its borders.” Not only this, says Votel, but China (having a 400 Kilometre border with Tajikistan) has had the temerity to have “initiated a much stronger military cooperation partnership with Tajikistan, adding further complexity to Tajikistan’s multi-faceted approach to security cooperation.”

No: China hasn’t added any complexity to Tajikistan’s circumstances. What has complicated their relations is the fact that Afghanistan is in a state of chaos, following the US invasion of 2001, and drugs and terrorists cross the border (1,300 kilometres long) from Afghanistan into Tajikistan, which is trying to protect itself. During its sixteen years of war in Afghanistan there has been no attempt by the United States to secure that border.

None of these countries wants to be forced into a military pact with the United States, and Turkmenistan (border with Afghanistan 750 kilometres) has made it clear it doesn’t want to be aligned with anyone. But General Votel states that its “UN-recognized policy of ‘positive neutrality’ presents a challenge with respect to US engagement.” No matter what is desired by Turkmenistan, it seems, there must always be a way for the United States Central Command to establish military relations and, as General Votel told the Defence Committee, “we are encouraged somewhat by Turkmenistan’s expressed interest in increased mil-to-mil engagement with the US within the limits of their ‘positive neutrality’ policy.”

In the minds (to use the word loosely) of General Votel and his kind, it doesn’t matter if a country wants nothing whatever to do with the United States’ military machine, and wants very much to be left alone to get on with things without any interference. Adoption of such a policy by any nation presents a “challenge” and the United States, which in this region is overseen by General Votel’s Central Command, is determined to seek military “engagement” irrespective of what is desired by governments. Arms sales would swiftly follow.

Votel’s tour of his area of responsibility covered Afghanistan, about which his most absurd assertion  was “I believe what Russia is attempting to do is they are attempting to be an influential party in this part of the world. I think it is fair to assume they may be providing some sort of support to [the Taliban] in terms of weapons or other things that may be there.”

There was not a shred of evidence provided, but the Committee accepted the pronouncement. Obviously if an allegation is made about Russia it doesn’t matter if it is false. It must be believed. But unfortunately for the imperial Votel and his deferential audience, a person with some sense of truth and balance came up two months later with a statement rubbishing Votel’s unfounded and provocative accusation. In May the Director of the US Defence Intelligence Agency told a Senate Committee that “We have seen indication that [Russia] offered some level of support [to the Taliban], but I have not seen real physical evidence of weapons or money being transferred.” The mainstream media gave no publicity to the truth, and continue to blame Russia for all the ills that befall the US Empire, at home and overseas.

The state of affairs was summed up admirably by Jacob Hornberger of the Future of Freedom Foundation on December 4 when he wrote that “Central to any national-security state is the need for official enemies, ones that are used to frighten and agitate the citizenry. If there are no official enemies, the American citizenry might begin asking some discomforting questions: What do we need a national-security state for? Why not abolish the CIA and dismantle the military-industrial complex and the NSA. Why can’t we have our limited-government, constitutional republic back?”

The Motto of the Pentagon’s Central Command is “Prepare, Pursue, Prevail.” and the Central Asian Republics would be well-advised to bear in mind these threats and think hard about the underlying motif of the US military-industrial complex which is “Propagandise, Provoke, Profit.”

December 6, 2017 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Afghanistan is ripe for proxy war

By M K Bhadrakumar | Indian Punchline | August 20, 2017

Russia has hinted in the past that the United States is covertly sponsoring the Islamic State in Afghanistan. On Thursday, the Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson raised the bar by alleging that “foreign fighters” who were transferred by “unknown helicopters” have perpetrated a massacre of Hazara Shias in the Sar-e-Pol province in northern Afghanistan. The spokesperson said:

  • We can see attempts to stir up ethnic conflict in the country… Cases of unidentified helicopter flights to territory controlled by extremists in other northern provinces of Afghanistan are also recorded. For example, there is evidence that on August 8, four helicopters made flights from the airbase of the Afghan National Army’s 209th corps in Mazar-i-Sharif to the area captured by the militants in the Aqcha district of the Jowzjan province. It is noteworthy that witnesses of these flights began to fall off the radar of law enforcement agencies. It seems that the command of the NATO forces controlling the Afghan sky stubbornly refuses to notice these incidents.

From the above, it appears that sections of the Afghan armed forces and the NATO command (which controls Afghan air space) are hand in glove in these covert operations. No doubt, this is a very serious allegation. The attack on the Hazara Shias must be taken as a message intended for Tehran. Historically and culturally, Iran has affinities with the Hazara Shia community in Afghanistan. Possibly, the Trump administration, which has vowed to overthrow the Iranian regime, is opening a ‘second front’ by the IS against Iran from the east.

Interestingly, the Russian Foreign Ministry also issued a statement on Friday on the alarming drug situation in Afghanistan. It pointed out that:

  • A sharp increase in drug production is expected in Afghanistan this year and one-third of the country’s population is now involved in cultivation of opium poppy.
  • The geography of the Afghan drug trafficking has expanded and now reaches the African continent.
  • Tonnes of chemicals for processing narcotics are illegally imported into Afghanistan – with Italy, France and Netherlands “among main suppliers”.
  • The US and NATO are either unwilling or incapable of curbing the illegal activity.

Russia and Iran cannot turn a blind eye to the hostile activities by the US (and NATO) in their backyard, transforming the anti-Taliban war into a proxy war. They cannot but view the Afghan conflict through the prism of their deepening tensions with the US.

What are Russia’s options? The Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said at a meeting with the top brass in Moscow on August 18 that the Afghan conflict poses a threat to Central Asia’s stability. He said that Russia plans to hold joint military exercises later this year with Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. Russia has military bases in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.

Again, Ambassador Zamir Kabulov, Russian presidential envoy to Afghanistan, said recently that if the Afghan government and the US are unable to counter the IS threat, Russia will resort to military force. Kabulov disclosed that Russia has raised in the UN Security Council the air dropping of supplies for the IS fighters in at least three provinces in northern Afghanistan by unidentified aircraft.

Of course, it is inconceivable that Russia will put “boots on the ground” in Afghanistan. But if the IS breaches the borders of the Central Asian states, it becomes the “red line”, Russia will hit back. Russia is reinforcing its bases in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Significantly, in a joint military exercise with Tajikistan in July, Russia tested its Iskander-M short-range ballistic missiles, one of the most advanced weapons in the Russian arsenal, with a range of 500 kilometers and a payload of 700 kg. Iskander is equipped with terminal guidance systems with the capability to overcome missile defences. Iskander’s accuracy could be better than 10 meters. (Russia has deployed the deadly weapon to Syria.)

With the exit of White House strategist Steve Bannon, an inveterate anti-war ideologue in the Trump administration who wanted the Afghan war to be brought to an end, the generals now have the upper hand in controlling the US policy. Defence Secretary James Mattis and National Security Advisor HR McMaster favour deployment of additional troops to Afghanistan. The ‘known unknown’ is John Kelly, whom Trump recently appointed as his chief of staff. But there are enough indications that Kelly (a retired Marine Corps general and father of a fallen Marine, 1st Lt. Robert Kelly, who was killed in Afghanistan in 2010) almost certainly shares the opinion of Mattis and McMaster.

The more one looks at it, President Donald Trump’s real challenge is not about winning the war against the Taliban, but the high risk he’ll be incurring, by taking his generals’ advice, to put his imprimatur on a full-fledged proxy war in Afghanistan against Russia, Iran and China.

August 22, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, False Flag Terrorism, War Crimes | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Top General Warns That NATO Wants to Turn Post-Soviet Space ‘Into Another Syria’

Sputnik – 08.09.2016

A top Russian general has voiced his frustration over NATO’s lack of cooperation with a Russian-led alliance involving countries from the former Soviet space, saying that the Western alliance doesn’t seem to want countries in the former USSR to ally with one another, allowing NATO pick them off one by one at their leisure.

Speaking at a press conference in Moscow on Wednesday, Col. Gen. Nikolai Bordyuzha, secretary general of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, a military alliance involving six post-Soviet states, including Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, had some harsh words for Russia’s NATO partners.

The North Atlantic Alliance, he said, has been consistently opposed to any military integration between Russia and its partners in the CSTO, and the reason is that NATO wants to deprive these countries of their collective security guarantees.

“Why do you think NATO does not cooperate with the CSTO?” the general asked. “It’s simple – they have no need to support processes of [defense] integration. This way, things will be like in Syria, and nobody will be able to let out a peep. The country is being pounded, and there’s no one to help them, since it didn’t have any allies. And this is the situation they want to create for us as well,” Bordyuzha said, referring to the members of the CSTO.

Furthermore, the officer warned that the Western media has been engaged in what he called campaign of information warfare against the CSTO. “They will tell lies all day, every day. Everything that is being said about the CSTO is presented in a way that’s the opposite to how things are in reality,” Bordyuzha noted. “This is done, for example, in order to ensure that Tajikistan was not together with Russia,” he added.

Ultimately, Bordyuzha suggested that the Western political, media and military effort’s “most important task is to splinter our unity, to separate our nations into our own ‘national apartments’, and to dictate their terms to everyone individually.”

In this scenario, the officer emphasized that while the CSTO has absolutely no plans to fight a war of aggression against NATO, neither does it fear an attack by the Western alliance. “That’s why the CSTO exists,” Bordyuzha quipped.

The Collective Security Treaty Organization, formed in 1992, shortly after the collapse of the Soviet Union, integrates the defense capabilities of six former Soviet republics, including Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Afghanistan and Serbia became observers to the organization in 2013. Former members include Azerbaijan, Georgia and Uzbekistan.

Signatories to the alliance are not able to join other military alliances, and aggression against one member is considered aggression against all.

The CSTO holds yearly command exercises and drills to improve coordination between its states militaries, the most recent being Cooperation-2016, which took place last month in Russia’s Pskov region.

September 8, 2016 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hybrid Wars 4. In the Greater Heartland (III)

By Andrew KORYBKO | Oriental Review | April 8, 2016

(Please read Part I and Part II prior to this article)

Turkmenistan:

The threat facing Turkmenistan is less of a Color Revolution than an Unconventional War. The catalyst for this conflict would be a terrorist invasion coming from Afghanistan that unexpectedly sweeps northwards along the Murgab River. Such an offensive doesn’t even have to reach the national capital in order to be successful, since all that it really needs to do is capture the city of Mary, the capital of the resource-rich Mary Region. This part of the country contains the lion’s share of Turkmenistan’s gas reserve, which includes the massive and decades-long functioning Dauletabad Field and the newly discovered Galkynysh Field, the latter being the world’s second-largest find.

It wouldn’t be all that difficult for terrorists to take over this plot of land either, since the Murgab River is scattered with tiny villages along its banks that could provide cover from government airstrikes and places to provoke pitched battles from. The fertile land nearby is endowed with agricultural potential that’s surely being stored somewhere closely accessible, and this could help feed the occupying forces until greater conquests are made. In short, the Murgab River is the most militarily and logistically sustainable route for an ISIL-like invasion of Turkmenistan, and it leads straight to the gas heart of Eurasia that’s critically connected to China and will possibly be linked to India in the coming decade as well.

The risk of terrorists gaining control of the largest source of China’s gas imports and possibly even destroying the facilities is too much for multipolar strategists in Beijing and Moscow to bear, and it’s assured that they’ve already engaged in some sort of unofficial contingency planning with their counterparts in Ashgabat. An anti-terrorist Chinese intervention is largely precluded due to geographic distances and a lack of support and logistics facilities en route, but the Russian military has no such hindrances and would be much more likely to assist the Turkmen authorities if called upon to do so. This is of course a last resort and would only be commissioned if Turkmenistan proves itself unable to stem the terrorist tide and defend its gas infrastructure, but such an event is most assuredly being planned for just in case the Turkmen-Afghan border proves to be just as fragile of a defense against terrorists as the Syrian-Iraqi one was before it.

Туркмения-нефть-и-газ

Kazakhstan:

Kazakhstan and the other three remaining states of former Soviet Central Asia are greatly at risk of a “Central Asian Spring” breaking out in the Fergana Valley, and Part IV of the Greater Heartland series will focus exclusively on this ever likely scenario. Accordingly, the rest of this section will explore the other Hybrid War vulnerabilities facing these four countries.

The geographically largest state in the Greater Heartland region is surprisingly immune from many of the conventional socio-political factors that lead to Hybrid Wars (excluding the variables that will later be discussed about the “Central Asian Spring”). If one was blind to the domestic and international contexts pertinent to Kazakhstan, then they’d be inclined to believe that the Russian population constitutes the greatest threat to the country’s sovereignty, although this couldn’t be anywhere further from the truth. Theoretically speaking, this demographic satisfies all of the criteria necessary for sparking a Hybrid War, but Kazakhstan’s multipolar alignment with the Eurasian Union and respectful treatment of this influential minority group precludes any chances that they or Russia would ever try to move forward with this scenario. On the reverse, the very inclusion of such a large Russian minority within Kazakhstan ties Astana and Moscow closer together than just about any other state in the former Soviet Union and works to enhance, not deteriorate, relations between them.

The only vulnerability in this relatively secure setup is if the US and its proxy NGO affiliates succeed in brainwashing the Russian-Kazakh population with Pravy Sektor- and Navalny-esque extreme nationalism, which could then create a delicate geopolitical situation where the raucous Russian minority agitates against Astana and attempts to drive a wedge between Kazakhstan and Russia. Security officials in both states are likely well aware of this obvious scenario and can be predicted to have rehearsed coordinated contingency measures for responding to it. Nonetheless, if such a virulent, discriminatory, and destructive ideology as “Greater Russian Nationalism” is allowed to fester in multicultural Kazakhstan and parts of the Russian Federation itself, then a scandalous outbreak in the Near Abroad could provoke a simultaneous cross-border event inside of Russia, especially if ‘sleeper sympathizers’ organize anti-government protests against Moscow’s “betrayal” of its compatriots out of its refusal to replicate the Crimean scenario in Northern Kazakhstan.

Another destabilization possibility that mustn’t be discounted in Kazakhstan is a repeat of the Zhanaozen riots, the ‘localized’ Color Revolution attempt that was sparked by a simmering labor dispute in 2011. The oil field workers were fed up with what they complained to be poor working conditions, low wages, and unpaid salaries, and this created an attractive atmosphere for Color Revolutionaries to exploit. Keeping with Color Revolution tradition, the riots started on 16 December, the 20th anniversary of Kazakh independence, and were presumably expected to signal the beginning of the regime change attempt to other cells across the country, almost one year to the day that the “Arab Spring” Color Revolution first broke out in Tunisia.

Seething with preexisting anger, the workers were extraordinarily easy to exploit, and the carnage they committed killed over a dozen people and injured more than 100 before a state of emergency and necessary military intervention restored order. The authorities’ decisive reaction and the multicultural, patriotic identity of most Kazakhs can be credited with preventing the spread of the Color Revolution virus from the distant Turkmen border all the way to centrally located capital, but the strategic lessons that can be learned from this episode are that: labor disputes and organizing could be both a cover and spark for a Color Revolution; and that destabilizations could start outside of the major cities and originate in the far-flung provinces.

Kyrgyzstan:

This tiny mountainous republic is notably split along a steep North-South divide, with the capital of Bishkek being located along the northern plains while the major population centers of Jalal-abad and Osh reside in the southern Fergana Valley. The clan-based nature of Kyrgyz society has played a strong role in influencing the political system, and this has consequently created identity resentment among whichever group was disproportionately underrepresented at the given moment. Although the situation has relatively stabilized and become somewhat more ‘equitable’ since the 2010 Color Revolution, clan-based tension and its geographic affiliations are still deeply ingrained in the national psyche, and any visible calmness simply belies the aggravating tensions that lay just beneath the surface. As confirmation of this assessment, one need only remember the misleading “stability” that many had inaccurately judged to be prevalent in the country just prior to the 2005 and 2010 Color Revolutions, and after witnessing the ferocious clan-based and ethnic violence that exploded after each of them, it’s improbable to assume that the individual drivers of such identity conflicts simply disappeared on their own after only half a decade.

What really happened is that they went underground as usual and abstained from the national discourse, while still remaining psychologically mobilized and ready to act the moment a future destabilization distracts or dissolves the security forces and provides another strategic opening for settling unresolved blood feuds that still linger from last time. The most violent-prone area of Kyrgyzstan is its southern Fergana region that abuts Uzbekistan, and it’s here where radical Islamic elements have taken root. The difficulty in forcibly eradicating them is that any major Kyrgyz security operation so close to the Uzbek border, let alone one that potentially targets ethnic Uzbeks, could create a hostile impression towards much-stronger Uzbekistan, which in turn could use the events as a pretext for activating a prearranged plan to mobilize in response to the ‘human rights violations’ allegedly being committed against its ethnic compatriots. Tashkent’s geopolitical loyalty has always been nebulous and ill-defined, and the country’s been working more closely with the US ever since the 2014 drawdown in Afghanistan. Washington needs a Lead From Behind partner in Central Asia, and it’s possible that Uzbekistan has been designated this role, which if it doesn’t comply with, could lead to the “Central Asian Spring” scenario that will soon be discussed.

To return to the Hybrid War threats facing Kyrgyzstan, it’s important to highlight that the country’s mountainous terrain is very accommodating to guerrilla warfare. The southern mountain ranges are sparsely populated and the government barely has any presence in some of the more isolated areas. Looking at the regional geography at play, it’s conceivable that Fergana-based terrorists could receive weapons and fighters from Afghanistan by taking advantage of the lack of governance present in Southern Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan’s Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region. After all, this route is already used to smuggle tons of drugs, so it’s certainly possible that it could be used to transport terrorists and weapons along the way as well (if this isn’t being done already). It’s very difficult for the Kyrgyz authorities to exert full control over this region because of tight financial and human resources, a current prioritization on the more populated areas, and the inhibitive geography involved.

To emphasize the last point, wintertime typically renders all of the few north-south roads impassable and strands the mountainous southern-based citizens in their villages for the duration of the season. This effectively splits the country into two, and if timed to coincide with a Hybrid War, then it could give the regime change insurgents active in that region enough time to consolidate their gains and prepare for the hostilities that would inevitably recommence after the snow melts in spring. When one thinks of a terrorist-driven “caliphate”, the last thing that probably comes to mind is a mountainous, snow-covered retreat, but this is exactly what ISIL or any likeminded group could feasibly create in Southern Kyrgyzstan if they played their cards ‘right’. It would be extremely challenging to dislodge the terrorists in such a scenario, and the danger in doing so would critically spike if it were revealed that they had access to anti-aircraft weapons. The Kyrgyz military would obviously be unsuited for such a difficult task and would have to resort to their Russian partners in the CSTO for assistance, with Moscow predictably helping through a combination of drone surveillance and air strikes just as it’s currently doing in Syria at the moment.

Tajikistan:

The threat facing Tajikistan is structurally similar to the one in Kyrgyzstan, and it’s that the country’s large swath of mountainous geography could be exploited by terrorist groups in facilitating smuggling routes or providing cavernous shelter. It goes without saying that Tajikistan’s border with Afghanistan is perhaps its greatest vulnerability, but some respite could be found in the fact that there are more ethnic Tajiks in Afghanistan than in Tajikistan, and that if this community were properly mobilized to its fullest extent, then it could provide an effective bulwark against the Taliban and other terrorist groups. At the moment, however, this doesn’t seem to be the case, since the Taliban was able to briefly capture the northern provincial capital of Kunduz at the end of September and achieve their greatest military success since 2001.

Up to this point, it had been largely assumed that this part of Afghanistan was the least welcoming to the Taliban owing to the valiant history of the Northern Alliance and the relatively secular Tajik community that inhabits the region. What Kunduz taught observers is that these two factors are no longer the strongest determinants of regional security, and that the Taliban has succeeded in the past decade and a half in proselytizing their ideology, gaining sympathizers, and infiltrating enough fighters into the area so as to set up an effective base of operations. The converts that they’ve claimed, the supporters that they’ve acquired, and the terrorists that they’ve relocated to Northern Afghanistan all played an integral role in the Taliban’s capture of Kunduz, and just because they had to conventionally retreat from the city doesn’t mean that their soft infrastructure had to withdraw as well. The reason that this is relevant to Tajikistan is that it proves that the Taliban have a strong presence right along the Amu Darya river border and that fears about their cross-border militant potential are not misplaced.

More domestically, however, the greatest threat comes from the Islamic Renaissance Party, the newly banned organization that represented the last legal party of political Islam in the region. The process was in the works for a while, but ultimately it was decided that the group was full of terrorists and needed to be shut down as soon as possible, with the decision being spurred by rogue former Deputy Defense Minister Abdukhalim Nazarzoda’s coup attempt earlier that month. He and a group of followers slaughtered over 30 soldiers in the capital of Dushanbe before fleeing into the mountains where they were finally hunted down and killed a week later. The subsequent investigation revealed that the deputy head of the Islamic Renaissance Party, Mahmadali Hayit, had consorted with the coup plotters earlier in the year and that 13 members of the party were suspected of being involved in the attacks, so it makes absolute sense that the organization would be outlawed soon thereafter in the interests of national security. At the same time, however, the proclamation came so abruptly that the authorities didn’t have time to completely extinguish the organization, and countless sympathizers and probable sleeper cells can be assumed to be embedded in society. Whether they’ll make the transition to militant action on behalf of the terrorist organization or repent for their prior allegiance to it and disown its ideology remain to be seen, but the actionable threat remains nonetheless and is obviously a destabilizing factor that could be leveraged in any coming Hybrid War against Tajikistan.

Uzbekistan:

Aside from the “Central Asian Spring” scenario that will be detailed in Part IV, there are still quite a few other Hybrid War threats facing the region’s largest country. Uzbekistan is first and foremost threatened by a complete breakdown in law and order stemming from a succession crisis after the passing of Islam Karimov. The author previously explored the contours of these chilling possibilities in his piece “Uzbekistan’s Bubbling Pot Of Destabilization”, but to concisely summarize, the clan-based nature of Uzbek society coupled with the competition between the National Security Service and the Interior Ministry creates a cataclysmic scenario where a black hole of disorder arises in the heart of Central Asia and rapidly spreads throughout the rest of the region.

The only thing that could stop the previously held-together society from dramatically decentralizing down to Somalian-style warlordship would be the rapid reconsolidation of power under one of the two competing security agencies, but since their rivalry could predictably intensify in the days following Karimov’s death (and with the resultant security breakdown this would entail if they focus more on one another than on their designated subjects), it can’t be precluded that Uzbekistan could unravel before anyone realizes what even happened. Of course, if Karimov publicly designates a successor prior to his death or steps down and allows his designee to rule before then, this could potentially assuage the risks inherent in this scenario, but it doesn’t look too likely that this would happen, nor would these steps prevent the rival agency from attempting a major power play the moment the ‘head honcho’ inevitably dies anyhow.

Parallel with this possible tumult could be an explosion of terrorism from the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, Hizb ut Tahrir, ISIL, the Taliban, some yet-to-be-named organization, and/or a combination of these groups, which would exacerbate the already deteriorating security situation in the country and divide the security services’ focus even more. There’s also the likelihood that the Taliban or ISIL might even make a conventional move on Uzbekistan amidst the greater breakdown of regional order, which in that case would usher in a global crisis similar to the one that transpired when ISIL crossed into and began conquering Iraq.

Therefore, true to the theory of Hybrid War, any type of social disruption in the tightly controlled Uzbek society, be it through a Color Revolution, succession crisis, or a combination of factors, would create a tantalizing opportunity for Unconventional Warriors to rise up against the state and increase the odds of regime change. In this case, if there’s no real government in power at the moment, then it would prolong the “regime vacuum” and amplify country’s disorder until it reaches the critical point of spreading to its neighbors. Therefore, in such a scenario as the one previously described, it’s important for some leader or leading entity (e.g. military junta) to assume power as soon as possible in order to preempt a regional breakdown. In hindsight, it was precisely this quick emergence of leadership, however weak and fragmented, that emerged in Kyrgyzstan after the 2010 Color Revolution that helped to miraculously contain the chaos and prevent it from turning into a “Central Asian Spring”.

Before addressing this curious concept that’s been alluded to a few times already, it’s necessary to briefly touch upon a minor socio-political factor in Uzbekistan that shouldn’t be overlooked when discussing forthcoming disorder there. The autonomous republic of Karakalpakstan is a little-known administrative entity in the former Soviet Union that handsomely sits atop rich oil and gas reserves and provides transit to two energy pipelines to Russia. The dried-up majority of the Aral Sea has endowed the region even more oil and gas than was previously accessible, meaning that Karakalpakstan will likely become more important than ever to the Uzbek state.

Still, its energy potential isn’t the exact reason why the autonomous republic is brought up when discussing Hybrid War scenarios, since there lately have been whispers of a Karakalpakstan “independence” movement that provocatively wants to join Russia. In all probability, this isn’t a genuine movement but rather a proxy front controlled by the US to advance the objective of straining the already frayed ties between Russia and Uzbekistan. The appearance of a “pro-Russian” separatist organization at the crossroads of Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan isn’t incidental, and its’ designed to destabilize the entire region if ever given the opportunity. On its own, the Karakalpakstan “independence” movement is powerless to do anything to upset the Central Asian balance, but in the event that the eastern more populated part of the country descends into bedlam following one or some of the abovementioned scenarios, then it’s likely that this group will emerge from the shadows (or more likely, be parachuted or infiltrated into the theater) to violently lay stake to its secessionist claim so that it can then transform into an American protectorate.

UZ_map

To be continued…

Andrew Korybko is the American political commentator currently working for the Sputnik agency. He is the post-graduate of the MGIMO University and author of the monograph “Hybrid Wars: The Indirect Adaptive Approach To Regime Change” (2015). This text will be included into his forthcoming book on the theory of Hybrid Warfare.

April 8, 2016 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Another Day, Another Billion for Color Revolutions Near Russia’s Borders

Sputnik – February 13, 2016

Last week, the Obama administration proposed its final, 2017 fiscal year budget proposal to Congress. Among the proposed outlays is a State Department request for nearly a billion dollars to counter “Russian aggression” and “promote democracy” in the former Soviet Union. In other words, Washington thinks the region needs more color revolutions.

On Tuesday, the State Department and USAID held a special joint briefing, laying out a $50.1 billion spending request for 2017, including $953 million in “critical support for Ukraine and surrounding countries in Europe, Eurasia and Central Asia to counter Russian aggression through foreign assistance and public diplomacy.” The funds, officials specified, would go toward “enhancing access to independent, unbiased information; eliminating corruption and supporting rule of law; strengthening civil society; enhancing energy security, supporting financial reforms, trade, and economic diversification; and increasing some defense capabilities” in countries including “Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova [and] in Central Asia.”

The spending would be separate from the proposed $3.4 billion (up from $789 million in 2016), provided by the so-called “European Reassurance Initiative,” which aims for “a significant reinvestment in the US military presence in Europe after decades of gradual withdrawal” to counter “the growing threat Russia poses to long-term US national security interests in Europe and beyond.”

With most of the Western media basically ignoring the plans and focusing on other aspects of the budget’s whopping $4 trillion in proposed spending, Russian security analysts, naturally, couldn’t let this ‘minor detail’ simply slip by unnoticed, given that the spending proposal is openly oriented against Russia.

Analyzing the State Department’s proposed new spending spree, Svobodnaya Pressa columnist Andrei Ivanov says that the outlays raise as many questions as they answer.

“It’s not difficult to guess what is implied by [the proposed spending for] ‘democratization,'” the journalist noted. “However, several questions arise. Firstly, this year, the State Department has already allocated $117 million ‘to support democracy’ in Ukraine, and $51 million for Moldova and Georgia. But in these countries, so-called color revolutions have already taken place, and the Americans have already almost achieved what they set out to do.””Secondly, it’s unclear what kind of ‘countering of Russian aggression’ the State Department means in relation to Central Asia. Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan have long been oriented toward Moscow, and even joined with Russia in the common customs area of the Eurasian Economic Union. Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan are also part of the Collective Security Treaty Organization’s unified security system. Russia has also signed a series of bilateral cooperation agreements with Uzbekistan.”

The proposed spending, Ivanov notes, “assumes a serious US commitment to pursuing its [geopolitical] goals, which threatens Russia with obvious negative consequences. The question thus arises about the countermeasures our country might take in response.”

“According to experts, on the eve of the coup d’état in Ukraine in 2014, over two thousand non-governmental organizations were created, from training camps for militants to various clubs of political scientists and media workers.”

Unfortunately, the journalist recalls, “Moscow relied more on the agreements reached with Ukrainian elites; the result was disastrous. Today, the question again arises about the need to work actively with the civil society of neighboring states.”

Asked to comment on the State Department’s new spending proposal, Andrei Manoilo, a professor of political science at Moscow State University, expressed a commonly held view among Russian security professionals.

Namely, the professor told the newspaper, “when Washington talks about spreading democracy, and allocates money for this purpose, it is referring to ‘color revolutions’ – the overthrow of undesirable regimes and the drive to bring puppets who mimic democracy to power.”

“Factually, these countries find themselves under American control. Ukraine is a vivid example. Until recently, Georgia too served as a good example, with each department and ministry in the country featuring an advisor and curator from the State Department. In Ukraine, supervision is carried out through the US Embassy, and through officials loyal to Washington, charged with implementing its instructions.”

As for the earmarking funds for countries which have already undergone color revolutions, Manoilo explained that the money “is allocated for the purpose of maintaining the stability of the dependent regime.” This is especially true in Ukraine’s case, he said. It is also meant “to ensure the loyalty of local elites.”

In Georgia’s case, “after Mikheil Saakashvili resigned from his post and was forced to flee the country, the American position weakened somewhat, mainly due to the perceived negativity which the color revolution had brought the country. So here, the US [spends] in order to maintain its influence. It is also possible that the US is considering ensuring the loyalty of Georgian elites by ‘nourishing’ cyclical color revolutions, thus carrying out a rotation of the elite.”

As for Central Asia, the State Department announcement seems to indicate, according to Manoilo, “that color revolutions are planned there as well. The Americans need to see regime change in the countries which, for the most part, are oriented toward Russia. In Central Asia, Moscow has several projects geared toward integration, including the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the CSTO. Today, the countries in the region face a difficult situation, with disintegratory processes growing among them.”

In Tajikistan, the professor warned, the State Department may attempt to reignite the embers of the country’s civil war, which took place between 1992-1997, taking advantage of disagreements between the country’s north and south. “US NGOs, which operated freely in the country until recently, are taking advantage [of discontent] among both northern and southern elites. It was not until about a year ago that President Emomali Rahmon began to restrict their activities.”In Kyrgyzstan, meanwhile, “the situation has changed little since the last color revolution. The protest mood remains strong. US NGOs and foundations have been working actively with the rural population, which is not very versed in politics, but is easy to agitate to participate in demonstrations against authorities, as the ‘melon’ revolution of 2010 demonstrated.”

In all the countries of Central Asia, Manoilo noted, “there is the strong factor of Islamist radicalism. By and large, only the presence of Russian military bases holds back an Islamist offensive in the region.”

Unfortunately, he says, “practice has shown that when it comes to overthrowing undesirable governments, the State Department easily finds a common language with even the most rabid fundamentalists. It’s sufficient to recall the color revolutions of the so-called Arab Spring. It would not be out of place to presume that the US is preparing their repetition, except this time in the post-Soviet space.”

“In addition to Central Asia, there is the southern Caucasus. Last summer, Armenia saw a rehearsal of a color revolution under non-political slogans – a new technology called the ‘Electro-Maidan’. Armenia is a Russian ally in the South Caucasus, and the US has plans for regime change, using their methods of the so-called ‘democratic transition’.”

Ultimately, Manoilo warns, “by dismantling the political order in Russia’s neighboring countries, the US wants to create a vacuum around our country. Simply put, this indicates a repeat of the Ukrainian scenario. After all, until very recently it was simply impossible to imagine Ukraine as a country which is hostile to Russia.” … Full article

February 14, 2016 Posted by | Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Russia: Iran to join SCO after sanction lifted

Press TV – July 8, 2015

Iran will join the Eurasian economic, political and military bloc, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), after sanctions are lifted on the country, a Russian presidential aide has said.

The announcement came after foreign ministers of the organization met ahead of a summit by SCO and BRICS leaders in the Russian city of Ufa.

“The Iranian application is on the agenda for consideration. Sooner or later, the application will be granted after the UN Security Council sanctions are lifted,” Interfax quoted Russian presidential adviser Anton Kobyakov as saying.

Iran and the P5+1 group of world countries are currently involved in make-or-break talks in order to reach a nuclear agreement which would have sanctions lifted on Tehran.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told Interfax that the removal of a conventional arms embargo on Iran is a “major problem” in the negotiations.

“I can assure you that there remains one major problem that is related to sanctions: this is the problem of an arms embargo,” he said in Vienna.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani will head to Russia on Thursday to participate in the summit of SCO and BRICS nations.

Iran has an observer status on SCO, awaiting the removal of sanctions to become a full-fledged member.

SCO currently consists of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. Kobyakov said the organization has received 11 new applications for membership, including from Egypt.

Russian officials have said India and Pakistan will join SCO as full members after years of holding observer status as Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Nawaz Sharif will join regional leaders in Ufa.

The Iranian president will attend the BRICS summit of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa as a special guest and will also deliver a speech to the event.

The BRICS accounts for almost half the world’s population and about one-fifth of global economic output. Its New Development Bank is seen on course to challenge the dominance of US-led World Bank and International Monetary Fund.

July 8, 2015 Posted by | Economics, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Wolf Pack vs. Bear

By Anne Williamson | LewRockwell | April 16, 2015

Having now had a year’s time to get better acquainted with their new Ukrainian friends and the neighborhood overall, Europeans are losing their taste for economic sanctions on Russia.

Contrary to American assurances, economic warfare against Russia meant to compel the return of Crimea to Ukraine hasn’t worked. Nor did the Ukrainian military’s campaign against the Donbas tame the Russian “aggression” mainstream media shouts about daily. All Europe has achieved to date is tens of billions in lost trade and Russia’s abandonment of the South Stream pipeline.

The Russians were building South Stream to insure the – politely put – “integrity” of gas flows to Europe while in transit across Ukraine, and put an end to the country’s 24-year racket of holding Russia’s energy commerce with Europe hostage by virtue of having inherited a key segment of the Soviet pipeline network. The loss of jobs and transit revenues their participation in the construction and operation of South Stream promised was keenly felt in Hungary, Bulgaria, Serbia, Slovenia, Croatia, Macedonia and Bosnia-Herzegovina.  Austria, France, Italy, Cyprus, Luxembourg, the Czech Republic and Germany have all taken serious losses thanks to the trade sanctions as well.

Trade and employment losses coupled with some USD 40 billions more in IMF loans to Kiev, whose proceeds are most likely to be spent – at the US’s insistence – on yet more war, and the growing misery of all the Ukrainian people are typical of the now familiar results of US-organized sedition abroad. However, those results are usually observed in militarily weak, third world nations the US chooses to undermine for whatever reasons, and certainly not on the continent their most loyal and most capable allies occupy.

Besides which, the whole cockamamie story the US has been pushing vis a vis Crimea is falling apart. The fact that one year on there are no Crimean protests and no “Back to Kiev!” grass root committees has undermined the entire premise of the sanctions. Even year long multiple polling by western agencies has shown that large majorities of Crimeans have no regrets concerning the 2014 reunification with their motherland of some 300 years.

In truth, the world owes a debt of gratitude to the Russians. While US State Department operatives busied themselves in Kiev with constructing an interim, post-coup government of fascist stooges and native oligarchs, the Russians’ deft and lightening re-absorption of a willing Crimea took the meat right off the table. The American greenhorns in Kiev were left dumbfounded, and hopping mad.

With the Black Sea port of Sevastopol safely in Russian hands, and the country’s immediate strategic interests secure, there was no need for war. Given time, the Russians know Ukraine as presently constituted will defeat Ukraine, and that not even a Himalaya of dollars and the sacrifices of several generations of Ukrainians will put the country back together again. Default will be Ukraine’s only escape route.

But it is the antics of hyperbolic NATO operatives (Dragoon Ride, a Conga line of armored Stryker vehicles and troops rolling across Europe from the Baltics to central Europe in a “show of force,”) the bloviating of chest-beating US generals (the only way “to turn the tide” is “to start killing Russians”) and the dumb bellicosity of the US Congress for having authorized the export of lethal weaponry to Kiev that finally got the EU leadership looking sideways at one another. Just exactly what has the US gotten them into?

But it was the EU itself who bought, by bits and by pieces, into America’s scheme. The events in Ukraine have left the European Union naked before her own members’ populations, exposed as a highly-bureaucratized system of US vassalage so thoroughly in harness individual nations actually agreed to harm their own economies in pursuit of US policies. There’s a reason for the EU’s acquiescence: The EU and its leadership stands to gain should State Department neoconservatives deliver on their promises. The EU will get bigger and its artificial and suffocating institutions more deeply entrenched.

How so?

The only direction in which the EU can expand is to the East. Ukraine, Moldova, Transdniestr, Armenia and Georgia were all believed ripe for the taking, and each is or was being pursued with EU “association agreements,” which subvert each country to EU dictates while holding the prize of EU membership in abeyance.

Absorbing such contrarily-organized lands is the work of decades. No matter. Their capture alone will enable the ECB to go on an immediate super-binge of vendor financing, which it is believed will conjure up jobs, export profits, and, the ECB (European Central Bank) hopes, a new round of euro-based credit expansion and piratization that will, in the fullness of time, strip the newly “associated” lands and their citizens of their savings and property. Once the fiat money-engineered boom begins to fade, the expectation is that ongoing economic warfare against Russia, directed and policed by the US, will at last bear fruit. Only a small shove and a slight push will be needed to topple and then shatter Russia into bite-sized pieces for the west’s further consumption.

So set upon this course is the US that the White House’s recent offer of a slippery framework to Iran to conclude the Israeli-manufactured dispute over the country’s nuclear enrichment program has the look of arbitrage, indicating there are limits to just how much havoc Washington can create and oversee abroad. Besides, Iran is currently useful in the conflict with the US-created ISIS. With sanctions lifted, the flood of Iranian oil and gas coming to market would further harm Russia’s economic interests while supporting the building of new pipelines to Europe originating in the Middle East and North Africa (under indirect US control) and sparing any further need for US ally Saudi Arabia to continue pumping low-priced oil for which there is insufficient global demand.

As long as Angela Merkel keeps Germany on board, and Germany continues to fund the stagnant EU, the US’s high-tech version of a medieval siege of the Kremlin can proceed.

With new multilateral treaties agreed under cover of tax and banking transparency (FATCA) now in place, the US is well on its way to being able to track in real time every currency unit on the planet that is emitted, earned, deposited, withdrawn, spent, invested, loaned, and borrowed by means of the banks, long seen as a US-engineered globalism’s most effective police force. European governments’ war on cash is meant to insure all commerce will flow through the banks and therefore be recorded. These new surveillance capabilities will be exploited to the maximum in the case of both Russia and hesitant Europeans for the purposes of blackmail, extortion, and control.

In a digital battlescape staffed by the west’s soldiers of finance, winter will not save the Russians.

Another attack strategy the US is about to deploy, drawn not from history but from nature, is that of the wolf pack. Though NATO troops will bedevil Russia’s borders, no western troops will actually set foot on Russian territory prior to the country’s imminent collapse. That would be dangerous, but the more proxy wars and political upheavals the US can stir up along Russia’s periphery while the motherland suffers and declines under the west’s economic blockade, the better.

Necessary and experienced personnel are being appointed and NGOs beefed up in preparation for brewing new crises and rainbow revolutions along Russia’s “soft, underbelly”: the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave, which both Armenia and Azerbaijan claim, in Kyrgyzstan where the south and the north are alienated from one another, in Uzbekistan where control of the Fergana Valley is in dispute with Kyrgyzstan, and in Georgia, which hopes for the return of Ossetia and Abkhazia. Carrots and sticks will miraculously set many a fire.

Keeping those flames under control will seriously tax Russia’s resources.

US objectives include busting up the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), whose members include Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), whose members include China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Russia, and the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), whose members – to date – include Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Russia.

However, there are problems with the above scenarios unfolding as planned.

US foreign policy assumes everyone on the planet wants to be an American, or – second best – a recipient of American interest and munificence, a notion which the state has successfully sold only to movie-mad foreign teenagers and naive Americans. Rather than being an advertisement for the benefits of American intervention, the Ukraine America is building might better serve as one for the beneficial avoidance of same through membership in the EAEU.

Russia is hardly new to the protection game. Armenia and Georgia, the first Christian nations on earth, soon found themselves unmoored in a sea of Islam. Each petitioned the Kremlin for inclusion into the empire. They wanted and needed the protection of the “Third Rome,” and they got it. Today Armenia wisely continues to huddle close to Russia, eschewing the opportunity of becoming a battle station in any anti-Azeri US campaign, while a US-enamored Georgia still chafes at the protection the US provides their former proxy, the corrupt Saakashvili regime. Azerbaijan has but to look at Iran to see what misfortune the US is quite willing to hand round. Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan have the example of their war torn neighbor, US-occupied Afghanistan, to contemplate.

US foreign policy further assumes that targets will stand still and only stare into the blinding glare of America’s oncoming headlights.

Russia’s abrupt shut down of the South Stream gas pipeline’s construction and the rapid replacement of European entry points and participants with a single exit point in Turkey from which Russian gas will flow to the rest of Europe through Greece along pipes it is now the EU’s responsibility to finance and build has put paid to that assumption. It is not only Russia that has an exploitable “soft underbelly.”

Despite the mainstream media’s shameless dissemination of western governments’ fatuous propaganda, and of what is sure to be an exploding supply of tit for tat, sufficient information is available to anyone who cares to look to determine who is destroying and who is trying to build, who is seeking peaceful co-operation and increasing trade and commerce between nations and who is demanding obedience to its diktat while waving a mailed fist.

To paraphrase Mae West, “Democracy has nothin’ to do with it.”

It is certainly an irony of history, wild and raw, that Vladimir Putin, a man who once described himself as “a pure and utterly successful product of a Soviet patriotic education,” is today seen by an increasing number of alarmed citizens worldwide as liberty’s if not civilization’s best, if inadvertent and imperfect, hope. But those souls should have no illusions. Whatever the Russian president does, he will do for Russia’s sake, not ours.

But if Russia cannot stand, we will all sink together into tyranny or eternity.

April 18, 2015 Posted by | Economics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Iran welcomes Tajik proposal for railroad link to China

Press TV – May 6, 2012

Iran’s Minister of Road and Urban Development Ali Nikzad says Tehran welcomes a proposal by the Tajik government to connect the Iranian rail network to the city of Kashgar in China via Tajikistan and Afghanistan.

In a meeting with the visiting Tajik Minister of Transportation and Communications Nizam Hakim Oaf on Sunday, Nikzad said the 392 kilometers (km) long rail corridor will connect Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and China.

“It will increase trade exchange and export volume, reduce transit costs among these countries and facilitate the transport of cargo and passengers in the region,” he added.

The Iranian minister also pointed to the 15,000 km railroad tracks in Iran, saying the country’s railroads are currently connected to Turkmenistan through Gorgan city, to Iraq via Shalamcheh border crossing, to Azerbaijan through Astara port city, and also to Afghanistan through Khaf-Herat railroad.

The Tajik minister, for his part, said the most complicated part of the project is a 270 km-long section that includes 16 km of tunnels and 47 bridges, and needs about USD 8-10 million for every kilometer of the line.

He added that the first phase of the project is 335.4 km and will cost USD 169.5 million while the second phase needs USD 96.4 million in investment. The final stage, Hakim Oaf said, which includes building anti-avalanche structures, will cost USD 30 million.

The Tajik minister of transportation and communications is currently in Iran to take part in a two-day international conference dubbed “South Khorasan, Transit and Development of East Axis.” The event will open in Iran’s eastern city of Birjand on Monday, April 7, attended by participants from 18 countries.

May 6, 2012 Posted by | Economics | , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Iran welcomes Tajik proposal for railroad link to China