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The Latin Alphabet in Central Asia — America’s Geopolitical Tool

By Vladimir Odintsov – New Eastern Outlook – 04.12.2019

Central Asia has long been one of the key fronts in America’s ideological battle and information war against Russia.

A year ago, the American geopolitical intelligence platform Stratfor published its forecast for US policy in Central Asia, which focuses much attention on Russia. Analysts from this agency, which is dubbed the “Shadow CIA”, indicated in this forecast that the United States is looking to strengthen ties with countries along the periphery of the former Soviet Union — from Eastern Europe to the Caucasus and Central Asia — in an effort to put more pressure on Russia. A geopolitical war is going to be waged against Russia, or a multi-domain battle to use the American military terminology, affecting the political, economic, energy and military spheres.

Washington has long identified the Central Asian republics and Afghanistan a “zone of US national interests”, which is why this region is targeted with the full spectrum of American information campaigns. In order for these campaigns to be effective, not only have so-called “independent” media outlets and pro-Western NGOs, been making a massive contribution in Central Asia over the past number of years, which the US has been busily implanting in the region, but military specialists in information warfare have also been recruited — servicemen from the United States Army’s 4th Psychological Operations Group. The 8th Psychological Operations Group is responsible for work in Central Asia, which runs the Caravanserai information portal, a website specifically created to counter Russia, sponsored by the United States Central Command and targeted at residents of Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

The main aim shared by most of the information campaigns Washington supports is to separate the regional population from Russia, mentally and psychologically, and to undermine Russia’s position in Central Asia. The campaigns mainly target young people in the hope that the leaders of the future in these countries will have been brought up on Western “democratic” ideals and will therefore be less inclined to partner with Russia.

Special programs are being launched and implemented by NGOs and “independent” media outlets in order to counteract Russia’s influence in the CIS countries. For instance, a new five-year program called MediaCAMP was presented at the end of last year in Kazakhstan and Tajikistan, which is run in Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan by an American NGO called Internews Network (California, USA), and receives heavy funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The program has a budget of $15 million. Its official goal is “to develop a more balanced information environment”, but in reality, it is used for intensive anti-Russian propaganda. Internews Network had its activity suspended in Russia back in 2007, but it has continued to operate efficiently in most Central Asian countries up to this day. The USAID Agency, funded by the United States federal government, also ran programs in Russia up until 2012 when it was banned.

One clear example of the United States’ involvement in this anti-Russian information war in Central Asia would be the material that was published at the end of January by the Pentagon’s Caravanserai information portal mentioned earlier, pushing Central Asian countries to switch to the Latin alphabet. At the same time, Washington does not try to hide the fact that specialists in information warfare are pushing people to use the Latin alphabet instead of the Cyrillic alphabet, and it is part of their plan because it primarily acts as a tool to drive a cultural wedge between Russia and the Central Asian republics, and would erase the Russian language’s historical presence in Eurasia, constricting and shrinking the Russian-speaking cultural sphere and sphere of information.

It is important to remember that the extensive process of transcribing almost all the languages spoken in the Soviet Union into Cyrillic, which began in 1935, was one of the measures the Soviet government took to unite people in the former USSR. This included transliterating languages with a rich written tradition, interrupted by the reforms of the late 1920s, and languages that had only recently adopted a written form. By 1940, the “Cyrillization of the entire country” was largely complete. Dozens of languages acquired a writing system which united them with the Russian cultural sphere, and it was essentially the first time speakers of these languages received access to a single Eurasian space to share information. After the Second World War ended with Soviet victory in 1945, the Cyrillic alphabet was further consolidated as the main alphabet in the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc which was beginning to take shape (for example, the Cyrillic alphabet was introduced in Mongolia).

That is why Caravanserai’s sponsors not only see replacing the Cyrillic alphabet with the Latin alphabet as a kind of symbolic act; it is also meant to drive a mental and psychological wedge between Central Asian countries and Russia. This is the precise aim of the language conflict and Russophobia Washington has been encouraging in the Baltic States, Ukraine, and in some countries in the Caucasus.

It was Washington that began stirring things up, stressing the need for Latinization in Central Asian countries through various channels under its control in Kazakhstan, where Russian is not only a native language for the ethnic Russians who live there, but also for many of the Kazakhs, Ukrainians, Germans and Koreans living in Kazakhstan. Now the Russian language has even been erased from Kazakhstan’s national tenge banknotes. Around 300 thousand people have emigrated from Kazakhstan over the past 10 years, most of them Slavs, and to some extent, it is due to this policy. As it was put in an article published in the Polish newspaper Rzeczpospolita in November 2017, “by abandoning the Cyrillic alphabet, Nazarbayev is cutting the umbilical cord with Russia.”

Latinization has also been foisted in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan.

However, as we have seen in recent years, switching to the Latin alphabet has clearly been an unhappy experience in Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. Thus, it is worth recalling that Uzbekistan looked to the Turkish model in its first years of independence, and switching to the Latin alphabet was viewed a sort of “basis for unity”. Transitioning to the Latin alphabet also came to symbolize national identity and independence for the new Uzbek authorities. At the time however, no one stopped to consider the financial side of this transition, the costs associated with transliterating a huge archive of literature from Cyrillic into Latin script. Another thing no one saw coming was the conflict between generations reading in different alphabets. Relations between Uzbekistan and Turkey cooled within a very short space of time, the alphabet stayed the same, but the country’s education suffered a significant loss, which even affected basic literacy.

Attempts to switch to Latin have unleashed significant problems in Kazakhstan. In the 80 years since Kazakhstan made the transition from Arabic to Cyrillic, a huge network of libraries was created in this country, even in remote villages. The country had already achieved a literacy rate of 100%, which meant that the whole “matrix” of thinking for the entire population would need to be changed in switching to a new alphabet, and that would not only entail significant financial costs, but would also create generational conflict.

People in the region have responded to the attempts the West has been making to replace the Cyrillic alphabet with the Latin alphabet in Central Asian countries as fast as possible. They have increasingly begun to realize that there is no point in making this transition. Russian is a second language in Central Asian countries anyway, these states are geographically, economically, politically and linguistically distant from the West, and they are members of the Eurasian Economic Union, where the working language is Russian. Given these circumstances, there is a growing understanding that this issue requires a logical approach and some common sense, and linguistic problems should not be politicized.

Various foreign NGOs, such as Freedom House and other similar organizations, have been interfering in the domestic affairs of Central Asian states, destroying the linguistic and cultural heritage of the people who live there, and clearly pose a threat to their constitutional order, a threat coming from outside the region, so it is therefore unsurprising that this issue has been discussed more and more heatedly over recent years, with an increasingly resounding negative tone.

December 4, 2019 Posted by | Russophobia | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Taliban cross the Rubicon

By M K Bhadrakumar | Indian Punchline | August 12, 2018

The Uzbekistan Foreign Ministry announced in a terse statement on Saturday that a Taliban delegation led by the head of its political office in Doha, Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanakzai visited Tashkent last week and the two sides “exchanged views on prospects of the peace process in Afghanistan.”

The Taliban has been somewhat more forthcoming with details. A press statement said that the 5-day visit (August 6-11) took place on the basis of a “formal invitation” from Tashkent and talks were held with Foreign Minister Abdul Aziz Kamilov and the Special Representative of the President of Uzbekistan for Afghanistan Ismatulla Irgashev. The press release added that the two sides “discussed current and future national projects such as security for railroad and power lines,” apart from exchanging views “about the withdrawal of foreign forces and how to achieve peace in Afghanistan.”

The Uzbeks have had direct dealings in the past with the Taliban. Kamilov himself is known to have visited Afghanistan and negotiated with the Taliban government in the late 1990s. Irgashev, too, is a familiar face to the Taliban, having served as deputy foreign minister under Kamilov. But this is the first time that a Taliban delegation has been invited to visit Tashkent for formal talks at the Uzbek Foreign Ministry.

This is an extraordinary development. It significantly enhances Taliban’s regional profile and standing and is precedent setting.

The relations between Tashkent and the Afghan government led by Ashraf Ghani have been exceptionally warm of late. The bilateral exchanges intensified in the past year with Uzbek companies picking up lucrative contracts in northern Afghanistan. The US has actively encouraged such collaboration. Most certainly, Washington promoted the Tashkent Conference on Afghanistan on March 27, which was attended among others by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and the US Undersecretary of State Thomas Shannon. The event was intended to marshal some degree of regional consensus behind an “Afghan-led, Afghan controlled” peace process without any preconditions regarding the presence of US troops in Afghanistan.

As a gesture of gratitude, President Donald Trump rewarded Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev with an invitation to visit the White House on May 16, the first-ever visit of that kind. Indeed, things have been going splendidly well in the US-Afghan-Uzbek triangle. During a visit to Kabul on July 9 Kamilov discussed with Ghani several big investment projects such as a free trade zone spread over 3000 hectares on the Uzbek-Afghan border, a $500 million railway project to connect Mazar-i-Sharif with Herat (linking northern and western Afghanistan), establishment of 6 textile factories in Afghanistan by Uzbek companies and so on.

However, the Uzbeks have a reputation for making their foreign policy moves very cautiously and therefore, the meeting in Tashkent last week should not be seen as signifying a shift in the Uzbek policies toward Afghanistan.To be sure, Tashkent has closely coordinated with Kabul and Washington. Interestingly, Kamilov also had made a phone call to Lavrov on July 31. The crisply worded readout from the Russian Foreign Ministry merely said that the two ministers “exchanged opinions on topical bilateral matters and cooperation between Russia and Uzbekistan on the international agenda.” Quite obviously, consistent with the Uzbek style of diplomacy, Tashkent touched base with Moscow before the Taliban arrived.

Ostensibly, therefore, Tashkent is following up on the offer made by Mirzoyiev after the Tashkent conference in March when he had said: “We stand ready to create all necessary conditions, at any stage of the peace process, to arrange direct talks between the government of Afghanistan and Taliban movement.” Clearly, Washington has encouraged Tashkent to be a peace broker between the Afghan government and the Taliban. Following the first-ever direct talks between the Taliban and US officials at Doha last month, a second round is expected in September. The meeting at Tashkent comes in between.

However, it is highly improbable that the Taliban will accept Ghani as its interlocutor. Tashkent must be quite aware of the strong undercurrents in regional politics as well. Therefore, trust Tashkent to have made its own calculations in self-interest, too.

The point is, there is dire necessity today for Tashkent to maintain a direct line to the Taliban. The security situation in the Amu Darya region bordering Uzbekistan is steadily deteriorating. The growing presence of Islamist State-Khorasan (ISK) in northern Afghanistan worries Uzbekistan, since its ranks have a preponderance of fighters drawn from the radical Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, which is sworn to establish an Islamic Caliphate in Central Asia.

Meanwhile, Ghani’s ill-advised standoff with the ethnic Uzbek leader in Amu Darya, Rashid Dostum (who was forced into exile in Turkey for a year and was prevented from returning. Dostum’s prolonged absence seriously destabilized the northern region, which also worked to the advantage of the ISK. Ghani finally made peace with Dostum and beseeched him to return – and eventually went overboard by giving him a grand ceremonial welcome on arrival in Kabul last month. But the ground realities in northern Afghanistan have changed phenomenally. The old stability that Dostum provided has disappeared.

There was a time in the 1990s when the Uzbek leadership of late president Islam Karimov had regarded Dostum as its Praetorian guard in the Amu Darya region. He used to be lionized and lavishly funded by the Uzbek intelligence during his regal visits to Tashkent. But Tashkent summarily dumped him once the US moved into Afghanistan in 2001 and co-opted him as their warlord. (The US too subsequently dumped him.)

In sum, Dostum is today a freewheeling entity available to the highest bidder and is no more the uncrowned king of the Amu Darya. And yet, he is still locked in a blood feud with the Taliban dating back to 2001 when in a bloody massacre he slaughtered a few thousands Taliban fighters who had surrendered in the northern provinces following the US intervention and were assured of safe passage to Pakistan.

Tashkent seems disinterested in Dostum. On the other hand, the Taliban have emerged today as the most promising counterweight to the ISK in the Amu Darya region. In such murky situations, Tashkent never loses clarity of purpose. Realism always prevails. Conceivably, Tashkent is beginning to see the Taliban as the most meaningful Afghan interlocutor for today and tomorrow  – and, perhaps, forever.

Of course, for Taliban, this is like hitting the jackpot. The invitation from the foreign minister of an important neighboring country to hold direct talks is a novel experience. It is a game changer, no doubt. The Taliban have crossed the Rubicon in their long search for gaining international legitimacy.

August 12, 2018 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , | 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

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

Can Washington Get a New Military Base in Central Asia?

By Vladimir Odintsov – New Eastern Outlook – 30.09.2015

The special attention that the United States has been paying to Central Asia, while actively seeking ways to implement a strategy of global leadership in the region that is now fully recognized as the center of Eurasia, has been covered in numerous articles, including those published in NEO.

According to the geopolitical concept of the recognized American political scientist Zbigniew Brzezinski: Those who control Eurasia control the world. Therefore, Washington’s steps to strengthen American influence in the region in the long run are completely predictable. The pivotal role in this policy is played by the US military bases in the region and military cooperation ties. After all, according to the globalist logic of the White House, American influence in any region must be supported by the “adequate” military force. The 9/11 events in the US and the consequent anti-terrorist intervention in Afghanistan have become a pretext for a major military deployment of American and NATO troops in Central Asia.

By the way, the ongoing engagement of US troops in Afghanistan confirms the notion that the presence of US and NATO forces in this country has little to do with the “struggle for democracy”. The true purpose of the military intervention in Afghanistan was the creation of powerful military bases, as the geographical position of this country is pretty unique in terms of the strategic freedom it provides. From this area Washington can launch a massive attack against Russia’s Urals and Siberia, different facilities in Central Asia, Iran, Pakistan, India and China. For this reason from the very start of the US invasion of Afghanistan, Shindand and Bagram Air Bases were transformed into massive construction sites where a large number of surface and underground facilities being built.

It happens so that for Pentagon Central Asia serves as a base for applying pressure on Russia, China, Iran and the entire Eurasian continent, it also plays a pivotal role in the post-conflict settlement in Afghanistan, since it may form a joint military alliance under the banner of opposition to the Islamic state.

In an effort to strengthen its positions in Central Asia under the above mentioned pretext, the United States has sent invitations to join the anti-ISIL military coalition to both Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. To add some momentum to the matter the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Central Asia at the U.S. Department of State Daniel Rosenblum has recently visited Tashkent, while the commander of United States Central Command general John Lloyd James Austin III made a trip to Dushanbe. In the course of their visits American emissaries discussed the situation in Afghanistan, regional security, and the advantages of cooperation with the United States “in the fight against international extremism” with regional authorities. Of course, a particular emphasis was made on the “need” to stay away from integration with Russia.

It is clear that in dealing with Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan “messengers of Washington” tried to make active use of the fact that those states today are free from obligations of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, which is headed by Russia, and therefore they are free to pursue military cooperation with the US. Therefore, Washington and Tashkent signed a document that provides the latter with free shipments of military equipment in the next five years. American equipment, trucks, military vehicles for a total worth of 6.2 million dollars will be just granted to this Central Asian state. This year, the United States has handed over to Uzbekistan armored class M-ATV, as well as armored repair and recovery equipment to support them, 308 cars and 20 repairs trucks with a total cost of at least 150 million dollars.

In dealing with Uzbek authorities American envoys had to mind the fact that the country entered the international counter-terrorism coalition immediately after September 11, 2001, while establishing special relations with a number of Western countries. As a result, the territory of the Republic at the time was housing a US military base, while the German Air Force had the opportunity to use the airfield in Termez, near the border with Afghanistan. Cooperation with Germany has been prolonged recently for a couple more years, though Tashkent is stressing the fact that the airfield in Termez is not a foreign military base. There’s little wonder to this fact, since the presence of foreign military bases was prohibited by law in Uzbekistan after the Andijan events, therefore in 2005 at the request of the Uzbek authorities American soldiers had to pack and leave.

Uzbekistan, is seeking ways to retain non-aligned status, and has no plans to allow any foreign military bases on its territory, on top of that it remains reluctant to send Uzbek troops abroad. This was pretty much the answer that the President of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov has given to Washington’s offer to join a coalition against the Islamic state.

However, Washington’s attempts to strengthen its military and political influence in Central Asia are far from over. Such efforts will certainly continue, despite the apparent reluctance of regional players to burden themselves with military obligations to the United States. America has severely damaged its reputation, therefore nobody believes in its peacemaking aspirations anymore, since the wars it has been waging are only leading to the suffering and misery of the civilian population of the countries it invades.

September 30, 2015 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , , , , , | Leave a 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

China receives gas from Central Asia via new pipeline

The BRICS Post | June 16, 2014

China, the world’s largest energy consumer, has started receiving natural gas transported through the newly constructed Line C of the crucial China-Central Asia gas pipeline network on Sunday, state media reported.

Gas transported through Line C, which is now operational, successfully reached the Horgos Port in China’s Xinjiang province on Sunday.

Line C is over 1,800 kilometers long and runs parallel to lines A and B, with the pipeline network showing Beijing’s growing clout in Central Asia as it seeks resources for the Chinese economy.

China imports about 20 bcm of gas from Turkmenistan, about half of its total gas imports, and the two countries signed an agreement last year to ramp up gas exports to 65 bcm by 2020.

Central Asia is seeking new export routes for the fuel as transport routes to Europe via Russia are now in question following the EU sanctions on Moscow over Ukraine.

China’s first large international pipeline for imported natural gas, the China-Central Asia line starts at the Turkmenistan-Uzbekistan border before passing through central Uzbekistan and southern Kazakhstan before entering China.

From Horgos in Xinjiang, the pipeline then connects with China’s West-East pipelines, to deliver natural gas across the country.

Trade between China and Central Asia has increased from about $500 million in 1992 to $26 billion in 2009, according to official Chinese figures.

The Central Asia-China gas pipeline runs all the way from China’s east coast cities to Galkynysh field, a distance of 6000 miles as it sources energy from major energy producers Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.

China’s energy giant CNPC also plans to integrate Afghanistan into this energy network.

TBP and Agencies

June 16, 2014 Posted by | Economics | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Uzbek bill flies in face of US hopes of military presence

Press TV – August 30, 2012

Uzbekistan’s upper house of parliament has endorsed a bill, banning the country’s hosting of foreign military bases, amid the US hopes of military presence in the country.

“Uzbekistan will have no foreign military bases and facilities on its territory,” ITAR-TASS quoted Uzbek Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Kamilov as saying in Tashkent on Thursday.

The proposed law, yet to be fatefully signed by President Islam Karimov, authorizes the country to quit interstate organizations that form military blocs.

Komilov likewise said Uzbekistan would “reserve the right to leave any interstate structures if they become military-political blocs.”

The bill came against a backdrop of growing rumors of Uzbekistan’s plan to host a US military base to replace a major airbase, leased by the US military, in neighboring Kyrgyzstan.

In February, Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev said Bishkek planned to close the base, which is located at a major airport in the Kyrgyz capital, and is reportedly being used as a transit center for Washington’s operations in Afghanistan.

August 30, 2012 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment