The New Great Game Round Up- July 28, 2013

U.S. Spy Network in Kyrgyzstan, NATO's Cold War Revival, Dagestan Dangerous for Rabbis, SCO & WTO Expansion & 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.

Since Russia and China will be confronted with a terror campaign at their doorsteps in the near future, joint efforts to prepare for this situation are underway:

Chinese soldiers leave for anti-terror drills in Russia

The drill involves 1,500 soldiers from both sides and will be held from next Saturday until August 15th. Over 100 pieces of equipment and military hardware, and over 20 aircraft and helicopters will take part in the manoeuvres.

During the exercises, the parties will train in joint operations on planning, training and conducting military actions in the course of a counter-terrorism operation.

Beijing is justifiably concerned about the security of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region with groups like the Turkestan Islamic Party (TIP) now reaching out to more parts of the population for its operations [emphasis mine]:

Turkistan Islamic Party trains women for jihad

The al Qaeda-linked Turkistan Islamic Party is actively training female recruits to wage jihad in South and Central Asia.

A short, one-minute-long video by the Turkistan Islamic Party shows five burka-clad women training with pistols, assault and sniper rifles, machine guns, and grenade launchers. A male trainer is seen directing the women. The Turkistan Islamic Party's distinctive light blue flag is seen flying in the background.

Xinjiang & Balochistan Threatened By Terror

TIP is also known as the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) and works closely together with the Istanbul-based exile group East Turkestan Education and Solidarity Association (ETESA) in providing more fighters for the proxy war in Syria. ETIM's aim to create an Islamist state in Xinjiang is perfectly aligned with U.S. foreign policy objectives as well. The autonomous region has not only abundant oil and gas reserves but also large deposits of minerals:

Large gold deposit discovered in NW China

A mineral deposit with gold reserves totaling 50 tonnes has been discovered in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, local authorities said Friday.

The deposit is believed to have a potential economic value of 100 billion yuan ($16.3 billion), as its mineral resources include 187 million tonnes of iron and 1.5 million tonnes of zinc, according to Zeng.

And this attracts more and more investment:

Investment in Xinjiang

Outside investment in Xin­jiang rose 34 percent year-on-year to 163 billion yuan ($26.5 billion) in the first half of 2013, local officials said Sunday.

Furthermore, Xinjiang gains importance as China's link to other countries in the region and vital part of new trade corridors:

Gwadar to Kashgar: Implications of New ‘Silk Route’

The much-publicised agreement to speed work on developing a 2,000-km trade corridor linking Gwadar Port on Pakistan’s Makran Coast to Kashgar in China’s Xingjian province has been called a “game changer” by Sharif.

While credit must be given to the Pakistan premier for his plans to speed up this ambitious project — perceived as pivotal to the country’s economic prosperity — there are several underlying factors, especially security and political differences within Balochistan, that will have to be incorporated in policy formulation for the corridor’s implementation.

This set alarm bells ringing in Washington and CIA mouthpiece RFE/RL warned of consequences for Pakistan. James Corbett explained in a previous BFP EyeOpener Report how the United States wants to fuel violence in Balochistan in order to sabotage these projects:

"Now, under the banner of “Free Baluchistan,” a number of think tanks, policy “experts,” human rights groups and Washington insiders are calling for support of terror groups in the region that are fighting against the Pakistani government itself, which is drifting further and further from Washington as it begins to cement ties with Iran, formalize its membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, and draw closer to Beijing. The repeated attacks in the area by Baluchi independence groups provide a way for the Americans to help stop the strategic port of Gwadar from falling under China’s sway and helps to keep Islamabad on its toes."

SCO & WTO Expansion 

Beijing is aware that a similar strategy is in the works for Xinjiang or East Turkestan as the U.S. State Department prefers to call it. Therefore, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization continues to intensify cooperation in the fight against terrorism, separatism and extremism:

SCO Foreign Ministers agreed to work further in fighting against three evils

Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization have agreed to work further in fighting against the three evils: terrorism, separatism and extremism, as well as trafficking in drugs and weapons. Foreign Minister of Kyrgyzstan Erlan Abdyldaev said after a meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the SCO member-states.

During the recent meeting of SCO Foreign Minister in Kyrgyzstan the elevation of three observers into full members was also a major topic of discussion [emphasis mine]:

SCO contemplates expanding membership

The widening of the SCO’s membership to include India, Iran and Pakistan will accrue numerous advantages to the group and strengthen its capacity to realise its goal of regional peace and stability.

The addition of India, Iran and Pakistan would increase the SCO's effectiveness and put the China-led organization in a better position to deal with the situation in Afghanistan, which is a security threat for the whole region.

Meanwhile, the European Union is trying to widen its sphere of influence in Central Asia by cementing ties with one important SCO member state:

Kazakhstan and EU discuss cooperation

The Cooperation Council discussed a number of issues of importance to both parties, notably political reforms, rule of law and human rights, trade and economic relations, regional cooperation in Central Asia (including water, energy and environment) and international issues.

Moreover, Brussels continues to expedite Kazakhstan's accession to the World Trade Organization:

The Cooperation Council welcomed the positive results of negotiations on the accession of Kazakhstan to the World Trade Organization. The EU expressed support for membership of the Republic of Kazakhstan of the WTO which will help dismantle remaining trade barriers and further boost bilateral trade.

Moscow's latest experience with the WTO and EU might discourage Astana from pursuing this plan. But just in case Brussels fails to persuade the responsible Kazakh officials, Washington will certainly be able to help with an appropriate strategy:

U.S. Ambassador's blackmailing of Kazakhstan Healthcare Minister revealed

U.S. efforts in Central Asia are currently focused on Kazakhstan's southern neighbor Uzbekistan. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Jane Zimmerman, wanted to see some of the Uzbek countryside during her latest visit [emphasis mine]:

Foreign Minister of Uzbekistan, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State hold talks

Jane Zimmerman shared her impressions of the meetings and negotiations, held in a number of Ministries and agencies in Tashkent, and of her trip to Fergana region.

The Fergana Valley is not exactly abundant in attractions but she was probably just checking how NATO's creation of a new state in the region is progressing.

One important tool for Washington to exert influence on Tashkent is the American-Uzbekistan Chamber of Commerce (AUCC):

Uzbekistan reviews American investment projects worth US $ 4 bln

“Recently, American- Uzbek Chamber of Commerce submitted a list of commercial and investment projects worth about US $ 4 bln to the Uzbek Government. The list supports and substantiates our countries’ quest for attracting more US investments in Uzbekistan," said Carolyn Lamm, one of the AUCC founders and present Chairperson.

AUCC's mission is to promote trade and investment ties and it represents the most powerful and famous American companies with active business presence in Uzbekistan including: The Boeing Company, The Coca-Cola Company, General Electric, General Motors Company, Lockheed Martin and Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation. This list reads like a who is who of the U.S. military-industrial complex. But what is Tashkent supposed to do with all these American weapons? Scare the hell out of Bishkek?!

Kyrgyzstan & Uzbekistan: Border Skirmish Leaves At Least One Guard Dead

U.S. Spy Network in Kyrgyzstan

Border tensions between Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan are frequent and both countries accuse each other of being responsible for this latest incident. The security of Kyrgyzstan's borders is a constant challenge for the local authorities:

Border Service of the KR: 81Iinfiltrees detained during six months of 2013

In Bishkek the future of the Manas Transit Center continues to be the main issue even after Washington recently agreed to leave Manas in 2014 [emphasis mine]:

KYRGYZSTAN: “Manas” airport rids off American flag but not of its presence

Many people in Bishkek say that Turkey may replace U.S. at the international airport. According to Ravshan Jeenbekov, MP at the Kyrgyz Parliament, Manas airport might become a civilian airport with Turkish capital. Alexander Knyazev, expert on Central Asia and Middle East, has another opinion on the Manas airport future. In his recent interview given to “Nezavisimaya Gazeta he said that only the form of American presence will change in Kyrgyzstan. In general, its presence will be extended. “By the time when American troops leave Manas airport, the construction of the American Embassy buildings will be completed where the radio-electronic reconnaissance equipment is to be moved and troops that were serving the equipment will receive diplomatic status” [ and work in the Embassy].

According to Alexader Knyazev, a joint venture with Turkey is to open in the airport that will serve NATO and Pentagon needs, including transportation. He believes that American flag will no longer be there, but the core won’t change.

Current construction work at the U.S. Embassy in Kyrgyzstan is arousing suspicions. Iranian websites reported that the United States are building a "southern anti missle complex" which prompted immediate denial. According to the Pentagon, Raytheon is only modernizing the air traffic control system. Military expert Leonid Bondarets deems the Pentagon statement to be trustworthy but he is nevertheless concerned about the American Embassy [emphasis mine]:

United States construct “southern anti missile complex” in Kyrgyzstan

“However, the question is: why the U.S. Embassy is looking to expand its staff to 1,000 people, while in the Russian Embassy no more than two hundred employees are working? Besides, check out the massive construction there. There is only one aim to these all – is to prepare the building and move the navigation system that was used in Transit Center at “Manas”. It is possible only due to “lack of discipline” of our government. If Americans carry out such project, they will be able to listen any conversation and track all information”, finalized Leonid Bondarets.

Washington is apparently not leaving Manas without a contingency plan and will use its leverage to achieve desired objectives. This leverage goes by the name of Maxim Bakiyev:

US Freezes Assets of Ex- Kyrgyz Leader’s Son - Report

Now a story from Kommersant daily says the United States has frozen the American bank accounts – worth $74.4 million – of Maxim Bakiyev, who fled to the United Kingdom when his father, former Kyrgyzstan President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, was overthrown in a violent ouster in 2010.

The U.S. Department of Justice dropped the case against Bakiyev without explanation a few weeks ago which contributed to the Manas decision of the Kyrgyz government. Now there might be a reopening of the case:

Kyrgyzstan's American Lawyers Working To Reopen Bakiyev Case

Dagestan Dangerous For Rabbis

Moscow will observe new developments regarding the Manas Transit Center and U.S. Embassy in Kyrgyzstan with great interest. But at same time the Kermlin faces enough problems at home. The fight against religious extremism continues and an end to the violence in Dagestan cannot be foreseen:

Two home-made bombs discovered near mosque in Dagestan 

Counter-terrorist operation in Lak region in Dagestan is over

In the Lak region of Dagestan, where on Sunday and Tuesday six security officers were killed and three militants eliminated, the regime of a counter-terrorist operation has been declared over, the representative of the operational headquarters in the country announced. 

Last week a Rabbi was shot and seriously wounded in the southern city of Derbent in Dagestan. This incident, which prompted widespread condemnation, is only the latest in series of attacks against clerics in the region:

Russia's chief rabbi calls for eliminating "jihadist underworld"

"Several well-known muftis in the Caucasus, who professed moderate Islam and who called for interethnic and interreligious peace, have died at the hands of such thugs," he said.

The attack on the rabbi, as well as the previous attacks on Muslim figures, have pursued the goal of destabilizing all of society and undermining the noble pillars upon which our country's unity has been built for centuries," Rabbi Lazar said.

In June 39 people were killed and 43 more wounded in Russia's North Caucasus. President Vladimir Putin stressed the importance of social development to improve the situation. Government policies have largely failed so far and significant parts of the Russian population are fed up with the North Caucasus:

Failed North Caucasus Policy  

Even as Russians are moving out of the North Caucasus, there has been an influx of Caucasians into regions dominated by ethnic Russians — for example, Kondopoga, Sagra and Pugachyov — sparking sharp, anti-Caucasus sentiment. A seemingly ordinary local conflict was at once a disturbing symptom of a larger problem and a catalyst for still more problems.

13 Chechens Detained Amid Ethnic Strife in Russian Town – Official

But Russia's problems in the Caucasus don't end at its southern borders:

Georgia urges EU to evaluate Russia’s actions in separatist regions’ territories

Persistent tensions between the two neighboring countries were highlighted by the controversy about the Richard G. Lugar Center for Public Health Research in Georgia's capital:

Russian Official Warns Georgia over U.S.-Funded Bio Lab

Just few months after Russia dropped embargo on Georgian wines and mineral waters, its chief sanitary doctor warned that presence of the U.S.-funded bio lab in Tbilisi would have “sharply limiting effect” on bilateral trade ties.

NATO's Cold War Revival

Soros-funded EurasiaNet ridiculed the concerns voiced in Russia but Moscow has every reason to be suspicious about Tbilisi's intentions:

Russian military man convicted for 8 years for spying for Georgia

Especially since the country in the South Caucasus is becoming the new CIA-NATO training center for Arab and North African military elites. In addition to its increasing involvement in Operation Gladio B, Georgia plays a vital role in NATO's encirclement of Russia:

Foundation of military cooperation agreed at Batumi amongst NATO aspirant countries

The foundation of cooperation among Georgia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Macedonia was laid at a meeting held at the Georgian side's initiative. Cooperation between these countries aims to conduct joint exercises and all types of activities to enhance interoperability of the armed forces in accordance with NATO standards.

The Cold War did not end in 1991 but only evolved and actions taken lately by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization stir up growing discontent in the Kremlin:

Russia Slams Cold War-Style, Article 5 NATO War Games On Border

The scenario for a forthcoming NATO exercise in the ex-Soviet Baltic republics and Poland, in which those nations face invasion by a foreign power, is reminiscent of the Cold War period, Russia’s Deputy Defense Minister said Thursday.

The exercise, dubbed Steadfast Jazz 2013, will be held in November in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland. According to NATO, the primary purpose of the exercise is to test the command and control elements of NATO’s Response Force.

In the light of heightened tensions, Russia's biggest military drill since Soviet times involving 160.000 servicemen, 1.000 tanks, 130 planes and 70 ships is seen not only as a signal to neighbors in the Asia-Pacific region but also to Washington and its NATO minions [emphasis mine]:

The real snap in Putin's military inspection

Nevertheless, the scale of the exercise, preparation of the logistical and transportation support, cancellation of leave for military personnel and the testing of strategic mobility all indicate that considerable planning went into this exercise; it is unlikely that was in fact a real "snap inspection". It was politically calculated to show Russia's neighbors in the Asia-Pacific that Moscow has the political will to defend far flung territory during a crisis. Equally, it sends a signal to Washington that Moscow cannot be ignored in its Asia pivot.

Russia's Military on the March in Asia 

Washington should be playing close attention Russia’s show of force, especially since the fighting ability of its military has increased since the 2008 Five-Day War with Georgia. The fact that the Russian military is now more combat-ready than five years ago needs to be taken into consideration not only by the United States, but also by the other NATO countries.

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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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  1. Very useful survey. Thank you!

  2. Rose Mary says:

    Christoph Germann
    “AUCC’s mission is to promote trade and investment …”

    Kazakhstan is heartland for globalists -> native globalists. Carolyn Lamm is also a globalist. What they are doing is to strengthen their political dominans … what they always will try to do.

    “Promote [US] trade and investment” … ha ha

    Who is Carolyn Lamm?
    “In a 2009 article in Foreign Policy, Lamm was criticized for having “close ties” to controversial countries and corporations, such as Zeromax.[6][7] ”

    Who is Zeromax GmbH?
    “A classified diplomatic cable from the U.S. Embassy in Tashkent dated February 4, 2008 and released by the Wikileaks website, confirmed that Zeromax controlled a large stake in many of the key sectors of the Uzbek economy, including its gas, oil, and gold extraction industries.[3]”

    The network here is much larger than “corporations” and “nations”. It is not about politicians running for corporations and profit. It is the ruling elite in action. Same procedure as last year.

  3. ProudPrimate says:

    What a great resource is Herr Germann to this work at BFP.

  4. Excellent article on Russia and Iran.

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