The New Great Game Round Up- July 21, 2013

CIA Committed To Education in Kyrgyzstan, The Never-Ending TAPI Story, New States in Central Asia & More!

The Great Game Round-Up brings you the latest newsworthy developments regarding Central Asia and the Caucasus region. We document the struggle for influence, power, hegemony and profits in Central Asia and the Caucasus region between a U.S.-dominated NATO, its GCC proxies, Russia, China and other regional players.

Azerbaijan's interest in the largest Chinese administrative division, Xinjiang, was scrutinized last week. Now we will take a closer look at Baku's dealings on the opposite side of the Eurasian Balkans:

Azerbaijan, Turkey discuss cooperation in defense industry

Notorious NATO proxy Azerbaijan and NATO member Turkey maintain very good relations. Both countries work together in various sectors with the defense industry especially worth mentioning. This is furthered by the close military cooperation:

Turkish side approves MoU on military training with Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan, Turkey launch joint military drills

Eyvaz Jafarov also said that these exercises are very important from the viewpoint of increasing the combat readiness of Azerbaijan's Armed Forces, achieving coordination of operations as well as ensuring the security and stability in the region. From now onward Azerbaijani-Turkish joint military exercises will be held each year in turns in Azerbaijan and Turkey.

Which is very profitable for Turkey's military-industrial complex:

More than 20 Turkish defense industry companies have cooperation and commercial relations with Azerbaijan.

More profits are waiting to be made in Central Asia and so Turkey and Azerbaijan are increasingly attracted to this vital part of the 'Grand Chessboard':

FM: Turkey, Azerbaijan could cooperate in Central Asia (PHOTO)

"The establishment of the Cooperation Council of Turkic-speaking states was the initiative of Turkey and Azerbaijan," Davutoglu said. "The countries could expand the partnership in Central Asia, by creating a trilateral format of cooperation, for example, on the basis of Azerbaijan- Turkey-Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan-Turkey-Turkmenistan."

While Ankara is pushing for the delivery of Turkmen gas to Europe via Turkey, Baku wants to get a foothold in another Central Asian country:

Afghanistan, Azerbaijan discuss co-operation

Afghan Interior Minister Mujtaba Patan last week discussed strategic co-operation with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, Bakhtar News reported July 14.

The Never-Ending TAPI Story

Afghanistan's strategic location has long been more a curse than a blessing, putting the country at the center of proxy wars and Pipelineistan conflicts:

Pipelineistan and the New Silk Road(s)

"Washington's obsession with isolating Iran led, for instance, to the Bill Clinton administration embracing the Taliban in the 1990s in the hope of building TAPI."

U.S. officials tried to persuade the Taliban to form a joint federal government with the Northern Alliance in order to implement UNOCAL's plans for a gas pipeline from Turkmenistan to Pakistan through Afghanistan:

Our terrorists

"According to Pakistani Foreign Minister Niaz Naik, who was present at the meetings, US officials threatened the Taliban with military action if they failed to comply with the federalization plan. Even the date of threatened military action, October 2001, was proposed. Needless to say, the Taliban rejected the plan. So months before the 9/11 terrorist attacks, a war on Afghanistan was already on the table."

We all know how this story ended and now more than a decade later Washington is still holding on to the TAPI pipe dream. With the Trans-Caspian pipeline unlikely to materialize, at least not without a large-scale war, Turkmenistan is very interested in the project to diversify its gas supplies:

President: TAPI project to ensure long term Turkmen gas supplies to South-East Asia

"The construction of the gas pipeline, which will ensure the long-term supplies of Turkmen natural gas to South-East Asia in the near future is another action towards the implementation of Turkmenistan's energy strategy, focused on the creation of a multi-variant system of energy supplies to the world's biggest markets," Vatan newspaper quoted the Turkmen president.

Afghanistan's Karzai-led puppet government predictably agreed to support the pipeline:

Turkmenistan, Afghanistan sign agreement gas purchase and sale using TAPI pipeline

The national gas companies of Turkmenistan and Afghanistan signed an agreement for the sale of natural gas which will be supplied from Turkmenistan to Afghanistan through the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline, a press release from the Turkmen Foreign Ministry, released by the Embassy of the Turkmenistan in Azerbaijan said on Wednesday.

But the government does not have any significant influence beyond Kabul and so Washington is essentially in the same position as before the invasion of Afghanistan, negotiating with the Taliban about TAPI:

The China-US 'Brotherhood'

"The problem is Washington has absolutely nothing to offer the Taliban. The Taliban, on the other hand, will keep their summer offensive schedule, knowing full well they will be free to do whatever they please after President Hamid Karzai slides into oblivion. As for the Washington notion that Islamabad will be able to keep the Afghan Taliban in check, even the goats in the Hindu Kush are laughing about it."

Recent reports support Pepe Escobar's assertion. The training of Afghan security forces is a complete mess and the situation in the region will deteriorate with ISAF forces reducing their presence:

Taliban attacks and Afghan forces casualties increased: Azimi

Defense Ministry spokesman Gen. Zahir Azimi confirmed that Afghan security forces casualties have increased as compared to last year. Gen. Zahir Azimi further added that Taliban militants are prove that Afghan security forces are not capable of taking security responsibilities by increasing their insurgency activities.

New States in Central Asia

Tensions emanating from northern Afghanistan are an imminent danger for neighbouring countries:

3 die in conflict between ethnic Tajik and Uzbek in northern Afghanistan

By the end of the day, scores were wounded and three killed. One of the Uzbek leaders, Haji Jamshed, also a member of the Takhar Provincial Council, claims that the government was behind the counter protest that helped spark the deadly violence, something the National Police strongly deny.

More than 400 national police officers were mobilized around Takhar Province National Police headquarters in response to a weeklong rally by ethnic Uzbeks, frustrated by what they say is a lack of representation in both the national government and the province. The last straw, they say, was when an Uzbek police chief for the province was sacked and replaced by one of the Interior Minister's cronies.

More and more Tajik citizens travel south to fight among the Afghan insurgents and particularly worrying are the prospects for Badakhshan Province, which shares a long border with Tajikistan:

Afghans Failing Security Test In Badakhshan

"NATO forces across the country are focusing their efforts and dissipating resources on the places where they can have the most impact," Young says. "Badakhshan is not one of those places. I fear that any terrain not classified as even moderately urban will take a lower priority and open the door to Taliban infiltration."

According to the deputy director of government-run Tajik think tank, Center for Strategic Studies, these developments are part of a larger scheme. Sayfullo Safarov accused "certain forces" of supporting groups in Afghan Badakhshan to destabilize the region [emphasis mine]:

Russia and China will help prevent creation of ‘Great Badakhshan’, says Tajik expert

In a report released at a news conference in Dushanbe, deputy director of the Center for Strategic Studies, Sayfullo Safarov, revealed on July 12 that some countries are hatching plan to merge Afghan Badakhshan and Tajik Gorno Badakhshan and create a new state under the name of “Great Badakhshan.”

“Representative of the CIS Anti-Terrorism Center recently noted at a conference in Kazakhstan that there are plans on creation of two new states in Central Asia – in Badakhshan and the Ferghana Valley,” Safarov noted.

As explained by Safarov, Tajikistan is not the actual target and it is in Moscow's and Beijing's interest to help Dushanbe [emphasis mine]:

He further added that that Russia and China were concerned over ideas of creating new states in Central Asia, because “they understand well that such plans are aimed against, first all, them.”

“Representatives of Russia have already stated that they will not tolerate implementation of those plans in our region,” the expert said.

In the light of Great Badakhshan's emergence, the following statement by the China-led Shanghai Cooperation Organization is definitely correct:

SCO: Peace and stability in region depends on situation in Afghanistan

Russia and China are faced with the difficult task to stop U.S./NATO's Gladio B operations and prevent the creation of East Turkestan, Great Badakhshan and a new state in the Fergana Valley. This Central Asian region, which spans Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, is expected to become a major source of terrorism and instability. Border tensions are frequent:

Kyrgyzstan & Kazakhstan: Water Dispute Highlights Potential for Conflict

Border tensions between Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, which generally enjoy good relations, are relatively rare – unlike among other countries in the region. Incidents occur quite frequently between Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan, particularly in the fraught and densely populated Fergana Valley, where the Soviet Union left a legacy of unclear borders.

The recent unrest in the Kyrgz city Uzgen, located at the far eastern end of the Fergana Valley, is not an isolated case:

Kyrgyz Police Break Up Interethnic Clash In Uzgen

Authorities in Kyrgyzstan have sent additional security forces to the southern city of Uzgen after an incident involving police and members of the Uzbek community.

CIA Committed To Education in Kyrgyzstan

Uzgen is a town in Osh Province. Our favorite CIA front, USAID, has a long list of projects in Osh:

USAID Local Development Program provided assistance to private agricultural companies in Osh oblast

And the rest of the country as well:

Chairman of the Supreme Court discussed judicial reform with representatives of USAID and IDLO

U.S. Government renews commitment to primary education

On July 3, 2013, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) announced the award of the four-year Quality Reading Project that builds on the U.S. Government’s longstanding commitment to education in the Kyrgyz Republic. USAID will continue to support the Kyrgyz Republic’s Education Development Strategy for 2012-2020 by working with 7,500 teachers in more than 1,000 schools throughout the country, reaching 60 percent of the Kyrgyz Republic’s primary grade student population (approximately 260,000 students). USAID’s Quality Reading Project will be implemented by a team of international and local non-governmental organizations led by the American Institutes for Research, a behavioral and social science research organization and Save the Children International, a worldwide non-profit organization working to improve the lives of children.

Education in Kyrgyzstan has always been a matter of great concern for the United States. Washington even sent "American teachers" to Fethullah Gülen's schools in the region [emphasis mine]:

One of the attending Gulen school owners owned and operated 18 schools for Gulen in Uzbekistan. The CIA operation disguised under ‘Teaching English’ at these 18 schools in Uzbekistan consisted of 70 CIA operatives, operating under a project named ‘Friendship Bridge’ (Operation Code Name). The operatives also submitted reports to a certain arm of the Pentagon. The same operation (name not mentioned) had 60 American-CIA operatives as English teachers in Kyrgyzstan; again carrying US Diplomatic Passports.

The CIA was apparently very concerned about education in Central Asia and the United States Agency for Development continues this struggle. At the same time, USAID is also pursuing different projects in Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.

Meanwhile, in an entirely unrelated incident, religious extremism is rising in Osh Province and reasonable measures to contain the threat are discussed:

Kyrgyz civil activists propose ban on religious training abroad

He pointed to an alarming trend of the recruitment of women by radical movements. The Osh police have lately exposed the recruitment of 18-year-old girls by radicals.

In turn, the Osh regional police department told Interfax on Friday that 389 active members of radical religious organizations, most of them followers of the Hizb ut-Tahrir party outlawed in Kyrgyzstan, were in police records.

Neighbouring Tajikistan deals with the same problem and therefore the suspension of madrasahs in the Fergana Valley is deemed necessary:

Five Of Six Legally-Run Tajik Madrasahs Suspended

All five suspended madrasahs are located in the northern province of Sughd on the Tajik side of the volatile Ferghana Valley. Many alleged Islamic extremists and members of banned Islamic groups have been detained in the area.

Since there can never be enough efforts to destabilize a country, Jundallah is now making a surprise appearance. This terrorist organization with close ties to al-Qaeda and the Taliban (not to be confused with Abdomalek Rigi's Jundallah) recently expanded its activities from Pakistan to Tajikistan [emphasis mine]:

Tajik Court Sentences Two For Membership In Militant Group

On July 18, the Asht regional court ordered 27-year-old Adkham Abdulloev and 20-year-old Sodik Turobov, both Tajik nationals, to be imprisoned for 20 years and 15 years, respectively, after finding them guilty of being members of the Jundallah (Army of Allah) Islamic group.

It was the first time anyone in Tajikistan has been jailed for membership in Jundallah, which is a Pakistani extremist group.

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Christoph Germann- BFP Contributing Author & Analyst
Christoph Germann is an independent analyst and researcher based in Germany, where he is currently studying political science. His work focuses on the New Great Game in Central Asia and the Caucasus region. You can visit his website here

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