Qatar – Russia’s Newest Ally in the Arab World?

In the thirty-sixth edition of the Russian Newspapers Monitor, Professor Filip Kovacevic discusses the articles from three Russian newspapers: Nezavisimaya Gazeta, Izvestia, and Kommersant. He discusses the Russian response to NATO military exercises near the Russian borders, the escalation of internal political tensions in Moldova, the reasons why Qatar might be the newest Russian ally in the Arab world, and how the Russian Parliament plans to deal with the alleged U.S./NATO interference in the Russian domestic politics.

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Show Notes

Nezavisimaya Gazeta – June 2, 2017

Nezavisimaya Gazeta – June 6, 2017

Izvestia – June 2, 2017

Kommersant – June 6, 2017

The New Great Game Round-Up: October 13, 2014

ISIS Vows to Attack Russia,Russian Warnings Fall on Deaf Ears in Georgia & Russia Prepares for Trouble in Tajik

*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.

After nearly four years of negotiations, the European Union and Kazakhstan finally agreed on a new enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) during this week's visit to Brussels by Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev. The agreement, which is expected to be signed next year, "aims to boost cooperation in around 30 policy areas including trade and foreign and security policy." Given that the PCA is a far weaker deal than the infamous European Union Association Agreement and that the Kazakh negotiators had been "very careful that the agreement respects their country's commitments to the Customs Union and the Eurasian Economic Union," the Kremlin won't get worked up over the agreement. With the PCA negotiations concluded, Nazarbayev travelled to Minsk to attend summits of the Commonwealth of Independent States, the Eurasian Economic Community and, most importantly, the Eurasian Economic Union, which welcomed a new member:

Armenia Joins Eurasian Union

After months of delay, Armenia formally joined the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan on Friday, drawing praise from Russian President Vladimir Putin. 

President Serzh Sarkisian signed a corresponding accession treaty with Putin and Presidents Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan and Aleksandr Lukashenko of Belarus at a summit of the Russian-led bloc held in Minsk.

Speaking at the gathering, both Putin and Sarkisian expressed hope that the treaty will be ratified by the parliaments of the EEU’s three member states by the end of this year. The Armenian president said his country should be able to “start working from January 1” as a full-fledged member of an alliance which critics fear will restore Russian hegemony over much of the former Soviet Union.

Russia Expands Eurasian Union, Prepares for Trouble in Tajikistan

Kyrgyzstan's President Almazbek Atambaev expressed hope that his country would also join the organization by year's end. The Kyrgyz government had approved a roadmap for joining the EEU just before the summit. Neighboring Tajikistan is still considering the offer and doesn't rule joining the economic bloc as well. Tajik President Emomalii Rahmon said during the talks in the Belarusian capital that Dushanbe is currently analyzing the EEU legal documents. While Kyrgyzstan has decided to cast its lot with Russia, the Tajik authorities are not yet fully convinced of this idea. Lately, some people in Tajikistan have cast doubt on Russia's intentions or abilities to fulfill its obligations with regard to the promised economic and military aid but Moscow is doing its best to assure Dushanbe that Russia will follow up its words with deeds:

Russia Promises Tajikistan "Armageddon," Polite People

Russia will build a new military training facility in southern Tajikistan to help the two countries carry out drills together, a Russian military official has said.

Few details were given about the new facility other than the name, which certainly makes a statement: "Armageddon."

"Russian soldiers will help their Tajikistani colleagues in setting up a new polygon, Armageddon, in the Khatlon province for joint training of military units of the two countries," said a spokesman for Russia's Central Military District, Yaroslav Roshchupkin.

With reference to the immensely popular 'polite people' who protected Crimea after the coup d'état in Kiev, Roshchupkin added that the Tajik language classes that Russian soldiers are going to take "are intended to form and strengthen the image of 'polite people' among soldiers of the Central Military District." A few weeks ago, two Russian soldiers were accused of murdering a Tajik taxi driver and the Russian military is now trying to prevent any further incidents, which could upset the host country. Roshchupkin made this announcement during the recent drills of the 201st Russian military base in Tajikistan:

Russian Military Holds 'Antiterror' Drills In Tajikistan

Russian forces based in Tajikistan are holding military drills near the Central Asian nation's capital, Dushanbe.

A spokesman for Russia's Central Military District, Yaroslav Roshchupkin, says the maneuvers started on the Lyaur training ground on October 6.

He said more than 1,000 servicemen and 300 pieces of military hardware from Russia's 201st military base, which is located in Tajikistan, are practicing to ward off possible attacks by "international terrorists."

Tajikistan shares a long border with Afghanistan and Russia has pledged to support the Central Asian state in dealing with a possible spillover of violence from Afghanistan. Other countries in the region have also offered to provide Tajikistan with military aid to bolster the border with Afghanistan. Tajikistan has already received aid from Belarus as well as from Armenia and Tajik leader Rahmon used the meetings in Minsk to thank the two countries for their assistance. The increasing violence in northern Afghanistan doesn't bode well for Tajikistan and it is of little help that the Tajik regime is more or less turning a blind eye to the recruitment of Tajik fighters for the war in Syria. But instead of addressing these issue and going after real extremists, the Tajik authorities are busy stifling any sign of dissent and going after "extremist" opposition groups:

Tajik Opposition Group Banned As Extremist

Tajikistan's Supreme Court has banned the opposition organization Group 24.

The October 9 decision followed growing government pressure on the opposition group after it used the Internet to call for street protests in the capital, Dushanbe, on October 10.

Supreme Court judge Salomat Hakimova ruled that Group 24, which is led by fugitive Tajik businessman Umarali Quvatov, is "extremist" and therefore is banned in Tajikistan.

ISIS Welcomes IMU, Vows to Attack Russia

While the Tajik authorities were going after the "extremists" from Group 24, the arguably more dangerous extremists from the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) made an interesting announcement, which could affect Tajikistan as well. According to an Uzbek law enforcement official, IMU head Usman Ghazi confirmed that the group has joined ISIS. In recent months, the IMU had been fighting alongside the Pakistani Taliban (TTP). For example, the Jinnah International Airport attack in June and the Quetta airbase attacks in August were the result of joint TTP-IMU operations. Last week, some media reports alleged that the Pakistani Taliban had also pledged support to ISIS but the group lost no time in denying these reports and reaffirmed that they have declared allegiance only to Mullah Omar. Up until now, the IMU has not issued any denial and the Uzbek authorities claim to have "operational video and audio information about IMU's support and participation in joint military actions on the side of IS units." Uzbek security officials and analysts named, among others, the current financial hardship of the IMU as a key motive for the decision to join forces with ISIS:

Helplessness forces IMU to call itself an ISIL 'partner'

A recent expression of Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) support for the "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" (ISIL) betrays the IMU's weakness, analysts are saying.

The IMU lost support in Afghanistan as its brutality leads to civilian suffering, the Uzbek National Security Service (SNB) says. Now the IMU reportedly is eyeing northern Afghanistan, where most of that country's ethnic Uzbek minority lives.

"IMU militants were forced to [announce their 'alliance' with ISIL] because donations had dried up," Tashkent political analyst Linara Yuldasheva said. "They're essentially leaderless, and they're looking for someone to cling to. But this alliance can't guarantee them any more power."

Although Pakistan's Operation Zarb-e-Azb is not anything like as successful as the Pakistani military claims, the military offensive has at least forced IMU fighters and other insurgents in the Pakistani tribal areas to temporarily leave their hideouts and seek shelter in Afghanistan or elsewhere. Northern Afghanistan has long been a safe haven for the IMU, regardless of whether troops of the NATO-led security mission were stationed there or not. Both the IMU and the Taliban are now trying to exploit the ISAF drawdown and conquer even more territory. ISIS is also looking to expand its activities in Afghanistan but the group seems to have a hard time deciding on its next target. If ISIS leader Tarkhan Batirashvili aka Omar al-Shishani gets his will, the next target won't be Central Asia or China but rather Russia:

How Islamic State Grooms Chechen Fighters Against Putin

When the Islamic State commander known as “Omar the Chechen” called to tell his father they’d routed the Iraqi army and taken the city of Mosul, he added a stark message:
Russia would be next.

“He said ‘don’t worry dad, I’ll come home and show the Russians,’” Temur Batirashvili said from his home in
Georgia’s Pankisi Gorge, on the border with the Russian region of Chechnya. “I have many thousands following me now and I’ll get more. We’ll have our revenge against Russia.”

Al-Shishani is the tactical mastermind behind Islamic State’s swift military gains on the ground in Iraq’s Anbar province, west of
Baghdad, including an encirclement in which his forces killed as many as 500 Iraqi troops and captured 180 more near Fallujah, according to Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, senior fellow at the Washington-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies. 

Given that Gartenstein-Ross is praising the "brilliant tactical maneuvers" of the "exceptional field commander" Batirashvili, it is probably a good idea to take a closer look at the suspicious background of the Georgian ISIS commander. As mentioned two weeks ago, several jihadists from the Pankisi Gorge have left the Caucasus to follow Batirashvili's lead and dozens of Georgian citizens are now fighting for ISIS. Fighters from the Caucasus are the backbone of the mercenary army. Therefore, the Russian authorities won't be casual about Batirashvili's threat. The recent terrorist attack in Chechnya served as a stark reminder that the foreign-backed North Caucasus insurgency continues to pose a threat to Russia. One day after the suicide bombing in Chechnya, Russian security forces prevented a similar attack in the neighboring republic of Dagestan, which has become the hotbed of terrorism in Russia:

170 kg of explosives destroyed in Russia's Dagestan

Russian security forces have prevented a series of potentially “resonant” terrorist attacks, destroying almost 170 kg of explosives in the southern Republic of Dagestan. Two policemen and a militant were killed in the operation.

The militant was preliminarily identified as Alidibir Asudinov, a bomb expert and an “active member” of the so-called Kizilyurt gang, who was on the federal wanted list for terrorist crimes.

According to the Anti-Terror Committee, the gang “planned a series of resonant terrorist attacks” in the Republic of Dagestan.

Russian Warnings Fall on Deaf Ears in Georgia

Alidibir Asudinov reportedly recently returned from Syria, where had studied explosives, further highlighting the Syria-North Caucasus connection. When Foreign Policybroke the story of Georgia's offer to host a training camp for "moderate Syrian rebels," Russia was understandably alarmed. The subsequent denials from Tbilisi have failed to reassure the Kremlin and NATO's other activities in Georgia cause additional tensions between the two neighboring countries. NATO compensated the Georgian government with a 'substantive package' for the disappointment of having been denied a NATO Membership Action Plan (MAP) at the summit in Wales. Among other things, this package includes a military training center for NATO members and partners in Georgia. Moscow tried this week once again to make its position on this issue clear to Tbilisi:

NATO Presence in Georgia Could Threaten Stability in Caucasus: Russia

The placement of military infrastructure in Georgia in the interests of
NATO would pose a threat to stability in the Caucasus region, the Russian Foreign Ministry said Wednesday.

"The Russian side has expressed concern over rumors circulated by Georgian media about plans to place elements of NATO-linked infrastructure in Georgia," the Russian ministry said in a statement.

"Such actions would threaten the existing stability in South Caucasus," the statement reads.”

The warning fell on deaf ears in Georgia. Alexi Petriashvili, Georgia's State Minister on European and Euro-Atlantic Integration, countered that the closure of Russian bases in Georgia (Abkhazia and South Ossetia) and Moldova (Transnistria) and the immediate withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine would be a better way of ensuring stability and security in the region. Georgian Defense Minister Irakli Alasania took the same line emphasizing that Georgia will proceed with its integration into the U.S.-led military alliance:

NATO infrastructure in Georgia surely to be created - Ministry of Defence

NATO infrastructure in Georgia will surely be created, Georgian Defence Minister Irakli Alasania said, commenting on the statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia.

“I would like to state that the infrastructure of NATO in Georgia will be created,” the minister said. “It is an agreement reached at the summit. NATO-Georgia package is aimed at creation of an alliance infrastructure in our country, conduction of joint military exercises. This will increase both the constraint of the aggression, which comes from Russia, and our defence.”

Just recently, Lithuanian Defense Minister Juozas Olekas visited Georgia to discuss with Alasania and other top Georgian officials the idea of joint military exercises. The two post-Soviet states agreed to conduct joint drills within the framework of the NATO cooperation program in the future and after his meeting with Olekas, Alasania announced that Georgia looks set to increase its defense budget next year. But although Georgia is doing its best to expedite the military build-up in accordance with Washington's plans, the Georgian leadership seems to have a hard time understanding why Georgia's breakaway region of Abkhazia doesn't show any interest in Tbilisi’s "reconciliation efforts":

Breakaway Abkhazia Wants to Break Away Further 

In a move that many Georgians believe bodes ill for their remaining links with breakaway Abkhazia, the region’s new de-facto leader, Raul Khajimba, has stated he wants to eliminate all crossing points but one into Georgian-controlled territory.

“The national border with Georgia on the Enguri River will be reinforced,”
RIA Novosti quoted Khajimba as saying in reference to what most of the rest of the world sees as an administrative boundary line between Abkhazia and the Tbilisi-controlled region of Samegrelo.

“There should be only one checkpoint for reasons of national security,” Khajimba told an assembly of his party, the Forum of People’s Unity of Abkhazia.”

# # # #

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

The New Great Game Round-Up: October 6, 2014

Terrorist Attack in Chechen Capital Spells Trouble for Russia, Azerbaijan's Real & Not-So-Real Crackdowns and 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.

At the beginning of this week, the presidents of the five Caspian littoral states gathered in the Russian city of Astrakhan to attend the fourth Caspian Summit. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the question of how the Caspian shelf should be divided has been dispute and although Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia and Turkmenistan made some progress at the recent summit, they remain divided on this key issue. While Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Kazakh counterpart Nursultan Nazarbajev were talking about a "breakthrough", Turkmenistan's leader Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow reminded everyone of the disagreements when he reiterated that "Turkmenistan believes that the construction of pipelines under the Caspian Sea is the sovereign right of the states through whose section of the seafloor they pass." Berdimuhamedow was of course referring to the construction of the Trans-Caspian Gas Pipeline, which is vehemently opposed by Russia and Iran. Moscow and Tehran will have a hard time convincing Berdimuhamedow and Azerbaijani leader Ilham Aliyev to give up on this pipe dream but they accomplished another important objective in Astrakhan:

Russia and Iran Lock NATO Out of Caspian Sea

Iran and Russia have built unanimous consensus among the Caspian states, which also feature Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, over the inadmissibility of a foreign military presence in the Caspian Sea, ruling out any future possible deployment of NATO forces in the basin.

A political declaration signed by the presidents of the five Caspian states at the IV Caspian Summit held in Astrakhan, Russia, on September 29, “sets out a fundamental principle for guaranteeing stability and security, namely, that only the Caspian littoral states have the right to have their armed forces present on the Caspian,” according to a
statement by Russian President Vladimir Putin in the wake of the summit.

Azerbaijan's Real & Not-So-Real Crackdowns 

Especially Azerbaijan, close U.S. ally and NATO proxy, had long resisted any notion of formally banning external forces from the Caspian. After Baku had finally given in to pressure from Moscow and Tehran, the United States and Azerbaijan lost no time in pushing back against the Caspian Five joint statement. The Aliyev regime downplayed the statement and the U.S. State Department said it doesn't intend to change anything about its military cooperation with Baku. So it remains to be seen how much this declaration is actually worth. The U.S. and Azerbaijan maintain very close ties. Last week, Azerbaijan Airlines successfully inaugurated its first direct flight to the United States marking "the culmination of several years of close cooperation" between the two countries. As previously discussed, Baku relies on the Gülen movement to remind American lawmakers of Azerbaijan's importance and Hizmet's promotional work for the Aliyev regime has not been affected by Azerbaijan's "crackdown" on the CIA-backed movement:

Azerbaijan: Wary of Breaking Ties with Gülen in US?

Azerbaijan’s recent
crackdown on institutions and individuals allegedly linked to the influential Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen may not have halted promotional work by Gülen-associated organizations in the United States for the Azerbaijani government.

But why the Gülen movement would continue to promote Azerbaijani causes in the US despite the takeover of Gülen-associated educational operations in Azerbaijan remains unclear.


As yet, small and mid-size Turkish businesses in Azerbaijan identified by researchers as run by Gülen sympathizers do not appear to have been similarly targeted.

This demonstrates once again that there was no real crackdown on the Gülen movement in Azerbaijan. SOCAR, the state-owned oil and natural gas corporation of Azerbaijan, which works hand in hand with Hizmet, is reportedly already trying to reopen the Gülen schools in the country after they had been placed under SOCAR's control and eventually closed down a few months ago due to pressure from Turkish President Erdogan. Aliyev doesn't want to disgruntle either his close ally Erdogan or Gülen's puppeteers in Langley but, currently, he is probably more concerned about what his friends in Langley and Washington think of him. The crackdown on the U.S.-backed Azerbaijani opposition has not gone unnoticed in the United States, some people are even calling for sanctions on Baku. Last week, U.S. President Barack Obama criticized Azerbaijan's crackdown on NGOs and while Obama was trying to pronounce the name "Azerbaijan", the Azerbaijani authorities were trying to divert attention from the fact that they have made more politically motivated arrests this year than ever before by arresting a few actual criminals:

Azerbaijan Arrests Alleged ISIS and Other Islamic Fighters

The arrest of 26 Azerbaijanis for allegedly joining armed Islamic groups in Syria and the wider region may help Azerbaijan place its strategic importance to the United States above criticism of its growing autocratic reputation.

The September-23 detentions mark this Caspian-Sea country’s largest operation against alleged Islamic extremist fighters since reports began to circulate over the past year about
a steady flow of recruits from Azerbaijan for the uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Azerbaijan’s Ministry of National Security said that the detainees have joined several paramilitary groups in Pakistan, Iraq and Syria. Some were alleged members of Azeri Jamaaty, a jihad group in Syria made up of Azerbaijani nationals.

The arrests were reported on the same day that
US President Barack Obama mentioned Azerbaijan among the countries notorious for crackdowns on civil society.

Given that there is no shortage of Azerbaijani veterans of the Syrian conflict, the Azerbaijani authorities could probably conduct more operations like this if they wanted to but Baku is doing its best to support NATO's war against Syria and prefers to go after dissidents. The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) recently called on the Aliyev regime to release the jailed civil society activists and, much to the dismay of Baku, honored one of them, Anar Mammadli, with the Vaclav Havel prize for civil society activism. Ali Hasanov, a key aide to Aliyev, immediately condemned this "outside pressure on an independent state." The mounting criticism is not having the intended effect and seems to encourage the Azerbaijani authorities to come up with new police state measures and to ignore the critics: 

Azerbaijan Questions its Future with "Failed and Unfortunate" Euronest Parliamentary Assembly 

Azerbaijan has branded the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly a "failed and unfortunate initiative" and has challenged its fellow member states to explain why it should remain a member.  

The Chairman of the Azerbaijani Delegation to the Euronest PA, Elkhan Suleymanov, has written to his colleagues as a "last resort" telling them that the body, constituted in 2011, is now "bogged down by indecision, platitudes and double standards."

Azerbaijan was last week angered by a European Parliament motion calling for the release of activist Leyla Yunus, who is presently embroiled in a criminal case involving the alleged embezzlement of tens of thousands of euros from a string of NGOs with which she was involved with in Azerbaijan.

Bad News for Georgia's Ex-President Saakashvili

Neighboring Georgia is facing criticism from Europe as well. Georgia's efforts to hold former president Mikheil Saakashvili accountable for some of his crimes are not met with approval in most European capitals, where a few equally corrupt and criminal individuals hold a protecting hand over their friend Saakashvili. Therefore, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe criticized not only Azerbaijan's crackdown on civil society activists but also Georgia's "political prosecution" of members of the previous government. During his time in office, Saakashvili has gone to great pains to please his friends in the West, first and foremost his "friends" in Washington, and he is now reaping the benefits of his work. At least that was Saakashvili's plan but his friends in Washington have apparently other plans:

Saakashvili denied to get business visa in the U.S.

The U.S. has denied a business visa to Georgia's ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili, Georgian Alia newspaper reported on September 30, citing Saakashvili's United National Movement party.

"The veracity of the information will soon be cleared. Supporters of the ex-president's party are disappointed. The U.S. political elite is disillusioned with Saakashvili, he has, in fact, no support at the White House anymore," the paper wrote.

Saakahsvili lives in his uncle's house in one of the skyscrapers in Brooklyn's Willaimsburg district. Saakashvili has recently hosted the ex-head of CIA David Petraeus at his house, and plans to meet with the former French president Nicolas Sarkozy.

Perhaps, Saakashvili should consider a move to France to support the comeback of his friend Nicolas Sarkozy. Returning to Georgia is not an option. Although there are still some Saakashvili supporters who are willing to take a hit for their former president, Saakashvili's return to his home country would most likely end in jail. The criminal charges against him keep piling up with no end in sight. Georgian officials are now wondering how Saakashvili managed to amass a fortune of between $200 and $300 million and, even worse, the exhumation of Saakashvili's prime minister is going ahead:

Georgia Orders Zhvania Exhumed

A prosecutor in the former Soviet republic of Georgia has ordered the body of the late prime minister Zurab Zhvania to be exhumed, nearly a decade after his death in murky circumstances.

Zhvania was a top leader of the Rose Revolution protests that paved the way for Mikhail Saakashvili to become president in 2004. Zhvania died a year later. An autopsy determined that he died of carbon monoxide poisoning due to a faulty space heater in the Tbilisi apartment where his body was found, but suspicions of foul play have persisted.

Predictably, the Associated Press failed to mention the noteworthy video with the title "Saakashvili killed Mr. zurab zhvania", which was leaked in March of this year. The video shows photos from Zhvania's autopsy and highlights suspicious marks on the dead bodies of both Zhvania and Raul Usupov, a young regional official who was found dead in the same Tbilisi apartment along with Zhvania. Therefore, the exhumation of Zhvania could spell more trouble for Saakashvili. The Georgian authorities are always good for a surprise. Usually it is an unpleasant surprise for the opposite side. The Russians can tell you a thing or two about it. Only recently, Foreign Policy's report about Georgia's offer to host a training camp for "Syrian rebels" and other "anti-IS fighters from multiple countries" caused a stir in Russia: 

Moscow Opposes Idea of Training Camp for Syrian Opposition Fighters in Georgia

The creation of a training camp for
Syrian opposition fighters in Georgia will damage security in South Caucasus, the Russian Foreign Ministry said Thursday.

“Moscow noted recent media reports about plans to create a US training camp for Syrian opposition fighters in Georgia,” the ministry said in a statement. “Such a decision, if made by Tbilisi, will do serious damage to stability and security in South Caucasus.”

Terrorist Attack in Chechen Capital Spells Trouble for Russia

Russia's Foreign Ministry took note of Tbilisi's subsequent denial of the training camp offer but reminded the Georgian authorities that Russia will follow this issue very closely. Battle-tested Chechen jihadists are the driving force behind the battlefield successes of the ISIS mercenary army, which is wreaking havoc in the Middle East, and Moscow fears that a similar force could be unleashed in the North Caucasus. As Veronika Krasheninnikova, the head of the Center for International Studies and Journalism at Russia Today, pointed out, there has been an "exceptional level of military and political activity in the South Caucasus" in recent months with Georgia's offer to host a training for "Syrian rebels" being the icing on the cake. According to Krasheninnikova, this indicates "that a second anti-Russian front is being created in the South Caucasus." Something is brewing in the Caucasus and those who were not convinced of the threat until fairly recently changed their mind most certainly after the attack in Chechnya:

At least 5 police killed in suicide blast outside concert hall in Chechnya, Russia

At least five police officers have been killed and another three sustained injuries in Russia’s Republic of Chechnya as they attempted to detain a suspected suicide bomber. The young man detonated improvised explosive when police attempted to search him.

The incident happened ahead of a concert dedicated to City Day in Grozny, which is home to over 280,000 people, most of them Chechens. According to the Internal Affairs Ministry, police forces noticed a suspicious man outside a concert hall. 

"Police officers who were manning metal detectors at the entrance of the concert hall noticed a suspicious young man. When the police officers decided to check the individual, the man blew himself up," a local police officer told RIA Novosti news agency.

Although the man did not succeed in perpetrating a devastating attack inside the concert hall, this incident sends a very strong message to the Russian authorities. For one thing, the attack occured during Eid al-Adha and for another, it struck the capital of the relatively calm and stable Chechen Republic. In contrast to neighboring Dagestan and other republics in Russia's North Caucasus, which are still struggling to contain the violence, Chechnya had not seen any terrorist attacks in over a year and Grozny has become the symbol of Russia's victory over the foreign-backed insurgency. In a recent Voice of America article, Mike Eckel described the situation in Russia's North Caucasus as follows: "After two wars waged by Russia since 1994, the North Caucasus has become relatively stable, free of all-out war and major terrorist attacks." The suicide blast in Grozny indicates that this is going to change and the attack is not the only worrying sign in this regard:

Fears of Radicalization Among Muslim Youth Rising in Russia

There is an increasing risk of
radicalization among Muslim youth in Russia, Russian News Paper Kommersant reported on Wednesday.

A large group of Muslim youth attacked a police bus on September 26, as the police arrested a man, who drove into an officer, after being told to move his car, parked in a no-parking zone, Kommersant reported. As a result of the riots, 30 people have been arrested, World Bulletin reported.

“30 people were detained to prevent a breach of the peace and because they resisted police officers. A court imposed on them an administrative penalty and fine”, said Andrei Galiakberov, Chief of the Moscow Police Department, as quoted by World Bulletin.

The North Caucasus is of course not the only region in Russia, which is vulnerable to Islamic extremism. Crimea's Tatar population is currently experiencing first-hand how serious the Russian authorities take this threat. Lately, a Crimean Tatar news channel was cautioned for broadcasting extremist content and two Crimean Tatars were kidnapped under mysterious circumstances by unknown men in military uniforms. Members of the Crimean Tatar community have pressured the local authorities to launch an investigation into the abduction but it would not be surprising if the Russian security services had something to do with it. The Russian authorities take no chances when it comes to the radicalization of the Tatar population, regardless of whether it concerns Crimea or other parts of Russia, and they spare no-one, not even the "grandmother of Tatar nationalism":  

Nationalist Sentenced for Urging Tatars to Oppose Moscow's Crimea Annexation

A court in Russia's republic of Tatarstan has handed down a one-year suspended sentence to a radical nationalist who had called for fellow Tatars in Crimea to oppose the Russian annexation of the peninsula, claiming violent persecution of Muslims in Russia.

Fauziya Bairamova, 63, nicknamed the "Grandmother of Tatar nationalism" by Russian media for her decades-long radical stance, was also banned from changing her residence without informing the authorities, according to a city court verdict Thursday, which she posted on her Facebook page.
   

# # # #

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

The New Great Game Round-Up: September 29, 2014

Training camp for "moderate Syrian rebels" in Georgia? , Central Asia Boosts Ties with Saudi Arabia- Qatar & 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 the start of China's year-long anti-terror campaign in May of this year, every week new measures are being introduced to contain the terror threat. Of course, the focus is on China's far-west province of Xinjiang, which has seen the most violence. Earlier this month, Chinese prosecutors, especially those in Xinjiang, were asked to fast-track cases involving terrorists, religious extremists and manufacturers of firearms and explosives. Considering that the rewards for people who tip off local authorities about "suspicious activity related to terrorism and religious extremism" are being increased every other day, this anti-terror measure will most likely land a few innocent citizens in jail. But the Chinese authorities are determined to curb the violence in Xinjiang at all costs and they do not want to take chances given the growing influence of extremists among the Muslim population:

China says 'rescues' more children from Xinjiang religious schools

A sweep on illegal religious activity in the capital of China's unruly far western region of Xinjiang has resulted in 190 children being "rescued", along with the detention of dozens of people, a state newspaper said on Monday.

Last month the government said it had "rescued" 82 children in Xinjiang's capital Urumqi from religious schools known as madrassas, and that campaign appears to be continuing.

Children in Xinjiang are prohibited by the government from attending madrassas, prompting many parents who wish to provide a religious education to use underground schools.

Increasing Violence in Xinjiang Seals Fate of Uyghur Scholar

Rian Thum, professor at Loyola University New Orleans and researcher of Uyghur historiography recently summarized the growing religiosity in the region as follows: "There’s a lot more veil wearing than there used to be; a lot more face covering than there used to be; a lot more beards than there used to be." Much to the dismay of Beijing, this development coincides with the sidelining of moderate forces, as demonstrated by the murder of the imam of China's largest mosque in late July. A few days ago, 17 officials and police officers were punished for being accountable for this murder as well as for the huge riots in Xinjiang's Yarkant County two days earlier, which had resulted in the killing of almost 100 people. Officials and police officers in Xinjiang are now probably wondering who is going to held accountable for the latest attack last Sunday:

China State Media Say 50 Killed in Far West Attack

Chinese state media reported Thursday that 50 people, including 40 assailants, were killed in a series of explosions over the weekend in the far western region of Xinjiang, in what officials called a severe terror attack.

Regional authorities had earlier said that the explosions Sunday in Luntai county killed at least two people and injured many others.

The news portal Tianshan Net said bombs exploded at two police stations, a produce market and a store. It said the attack killed two police officers, two police assistants and six bystanders, and that 54 others were injured. It said police took swift action and 40 assailants were either shot dead or died in explosions.

Although the incident occurred already last Sunday, the true scale of the attack only became known on Thursday, when Chinese state media reported that not just two but 50 people had been killed. The Chinese authorities try to keep a lid on terrorist attacks until the government-approved version of events is released to the public. This provides Western media and Washington's Uyghur exile groups with ample opportunity to challenge Beijing's narrative. Rebiya Kadeer & Co. use every opportunity to complain about Chinese oppression and they do not have a hard time finding something to criticize given the fact that China's fight against the "three evils" is marked by dubious decisions: 

China jails prominent Uighur academic Ilham Tohti for life

A court in China has found a prominent Uighur scholar guilty of separatism and jailed him for life, his lawyer says.

Ilham Tohti had spoken out on China's policies towards the Muslim Uighur minority in the restive Xinjiang region, but had denied being a separatist.

Correspondents say China is taking a tougher line amid rising Xinjiang-linked violence.

While some people are pointing out why this harsh sentence was a bad idea, World Uyghur Congress president Rebiya Kadeer is already talking about "a declaration of war against Uyghurs" and Western media is making sure that the next terrorist attack in Xinjiang will be blamed on Tohti's imprisonment. As usual, the NED-funded Uyghur exile groups are being quoted as often as possible and, interestingly enough, the WUC is being described as the self-professed Uyghur government in exile in a few articles, despite the fact that this applies rather to the East Turkestan Government in Exile, which was established in Washington D.C. ten years ago. Predictably, the U.S. government lost no time in condemning Tohti's life sentence and called for his immediate release. But the Chinese government is not in the mood for the usual games and blasted the "foreign interference in China's judicial sovereignty." China maintains that Tohti encouraged fellow Uyghurs to use violence and the Chinese authorities are currently cracking down on everyone and everything related to the violence in Xinjiang. Even the ISIS-Xinjiang connection is now being taken seriously [emphasis mine]: 

Chinese militants get Islamic State 'terrorist training' - media

Chinese militants from the western region of Xinjiang have fled from the country to get "terrorist training" from Islamic State fighters for attacks at home, state media reported on Monday.

The report was the first time state-run media had linked militants from Xinjiang, home to ethnic minority Uighur Muslims, to militants of the Islamic State (IS), a radical Sunni Muslim group which has seized large parts of Syria and Iraq.

"They not only want to get training in terrorist techniques, but also to expand their connections in international terrorist organizations through actual combat to gain support for escalation of terrorist activities in China," the Global Times cited an unidentified Chinese "anti-terrorism worker" as saying.

Central Asia Fears ISIS, Boosts Ties with Saudi Arabia & Qatar

At the beginning of this month, the first Chinese ISIS fighter was captured in Iraq and a few days later four Uyghurs were arrested in Indonesia on suspicion of being ISIS members. It is unclear how many Uyghurs have joined Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi & Co. but even if they survive their trip to the Middle East, they will have a hard time "liberating East Turkestan." Nevertheless, China is concerned about the growing popularity of ISIS in the region. As previously discussed, the pledge of the former leader of the Red Mosque, Maulana Abdul Aziz, to support al-Baghdadi's Caliphate does not bode well for China and some insurgents in Afghanistan and Pakistan are also eager to join forces with ISIS:

Islamic State expanding activities in Ghazni province

Local officials in southeastern Ghanzi province of Afghanistan have warned that militants linked with Islamic State are expanding their activities in parts of this province.

Deputy provincial governor, Mohammad Ali Ahmadi has said that the Taliban militants linked with the Islamic State have raised the flags of the group in various districts.

He said the militants are campaigning in favour of the Islamic State and have closed numerous routes to Ghazni province since they are busy with planning their activities.

A few days ago, Taliban fighters seized control of a strategic district in Ghazni province, which is an important gateway to Kabul from the south-east. Meanwhile, the situation in northern Afghanistan is equally alarming. Turkmenistan was even forced to send troops across the border to drive back Taliban forces that had settled on the border between the two countries. The comeback of the Taliban in Afghanistan and the rise of ISIS have caused a serious problem in the jihadist universe but this does not affect the ISIS fearmongering, which has now reached Central Asia: 

Islamic State will come to Central Asia

The catastrophic wave of violence at the hands of the Islamic State will repeat itself in Afghanistan and then move on to Central Asia, forecasts the president of the Russian Institute for the Middle East Studies.

Speaking recently about the emergence of the new wave of extremism in the Middle East, Erlan Karin, a Middle East expert from Kazakhstan, reported on the creation of an Uzbek unit of militants called Imam Bukhari Jamaat.

Additionally, according to his findings there are about 250 Kazakh citizens, 100 Kyrgyz, 190 Tajiks, 500 Uzbeks, and about 360 Turkmens fighting alongside ISIS extremists.

The Central Asian states are happy to promote ISIS as a serious threat but they would not dream of cutting their ties to Saudi Arabia and Qatar, the terrorist group's biggest bankrollers. This week, Tajikistan's top Muslim cleric issued a fatwa against the participation of Tajiks in conflicts in Syria and Iraq (he also issued a fatwa against government critics) never mind that the Saudis have reportedly been recruiting Tajiks for ISIS with impunity for quite some time. Only a few days earlier, Tajikistan and Qatar had agreed to step up their cooperation. The House of Thani will also give neighboring Kyrgyzstan a hand, for example in the field of education. And while a famous Kazakh political analyst is warning that ISIS poses a serious threat to Kazakhstan, the Kazakh government is boosting cooperation with the House of Saud:

Kazakhstan ready for further cooperation with Saudi Arabia

Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev has met with Abdullah ibn Muhammad Al ash-Sheikh, the chairman of the Majlis ash-Shura (Consultative Assembly) of Saudi Arabia.

“Kazakhstan is ready to develop the cooperation with Saudi Arabia in various spheres, including in the trade and economic field,” the president said.

The president said that a number of buildings were constructed in Astana with the assistance of Saudi Arabia, which is a proof of the friendly relations between the two countries.

Training camp for "moderate Syrian rebels" in Georgia?

According to Western media, Saudi Arabia and those other paragons of democracy in the Gulf are now leading the fight against the same terrorists they have been arming and financing for years on behalf of the United States and NATO. Saudi Arabia has agreed to host a training camp for 5000 "moderate Syrian rebels" in an effort by the U.S. and its allies to build another mercenary army, which is supposed to fight the ISIS mercenary army but will ultimately be used to topple the Syrian government. And Saudi Arabia is apparently not the only country, which is willing to host a training for "moderate Syrian rebels":

Exclusive: Georgia Offers to Host Training Camp for Syrian Rebels

In a potential boost for the Obama administration, the former Soviet republic of Georgia has offered to host a training facility for the Syrian rebels as a part of the U.S.-led war against Islamic State militants in both Syria and Iraq, according to an American administration official.

"[The training center] was something we offered, but is still under consideration," Georgian Ambassador Archil Gegeshidze told Foreign Policy, confirming the U.S. official's remarks.

The potential scale of the Georgia-based training program remains unclear, but Gegeshidze noted that it could host anti-IS fighters from multiple countries, not just Syria. "It's a counterterrorism training center for any nationality," he said.

Foreign Policy reports that Georgian officials made the offer to U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in closed-door meetings during his recent visit to Georgia in the wake of the NATO summit. The Foreign Policy article caused a stir in Tbilisi. Georgia's Defense Ministry immediately released a statement, which did neither deny or confirm anything, but Georgia's State Securtiy Council later said that the report was "not true." The quote of Georgia's ambassador to the U.S. was allegedly "inaccurate." Foreign Policydenies this and stands by its story. Tbilisi's statements have to be taken with a grain of salt, as Joshua Kucera pointed out: "Given Georgia's obvious skittishness about news of this getting out, if such a base does in fact get set up, we probably won't be hearing much more about it." After all, it makes perfect sense to set up a training camp for "moderate Syrian rebels" in Georgia given the fact that some Georgian jihadists have already joined the "Syrian rebels":

Sixth Georgian from Pankisi Gorge dies in Syrian war

An 18 year old Georgian has died in the Syrian civil war. He is the sixth fighter to die in the war who is a native of Pankisi Gorge.

Pankisi Gorge in the northeast of Georgia was used as a jihadist base during both Chechen wars, and this was where the United States went in for the first time with military aid to Georgia in 2002, to counter the threat of islamic extremism.

Kakheti Information Center reported that Besik Kushtanashvili is the sixth Pankisi native to die while fighting in the Syrian war.

Relatives of Kushtanashvili said he left for Turkey together with his siblings this summer, soon after graduating from school, ostensibly to work there. Going to Turkey to work is common among Pankisi residents. His family had no suspicion that anything was wrong before they received information that their boy had died.

The United States has been quite successful in "countering" Islamic extremism in the Pankisi Gorge. As recently discussed, Georgia is still being used to recruit and train jihadi mercenaries for NATO's terror operations in the region. Therefore, it is hardly surprising that one of the most influential ISIS leaders, Tarkhan Batirashvili, is also from Georgia's Pankisi Gorge. Batirashvili's dubious background raises the question as to whether he is really a jihadist or an intelligence operative. Given Batirashvili's growing popularity, it is probably worth the trouble to take a closer look at Georgia's most famous terrorist: 

U.S. Puts Georgian National on Terrorism Sanctions List

The U.S. placed on September 24 a Syria-based Georgian national among 21 individuals in “specially designated global terrorists” list, freezing their assets and prohibiting Americans from having any commercial transactions with them.

Tarkhan Batirashvili, 28, who is known as Omar al-Shishani and is native of Birkiani village in Georgia’s Pankisi gorge, is one of the senior Islamic State military commanders.

There are reports that Batirashvili is not the only Georgian national fighting in Syria. According to a local news agency in Kakheti region, where Pankisi gorge is located, there are about 50 individuals from Pankisi gorge fighting in Syria. News agency, Information Center of Kakheti (
ICK), reported on September 25 about death of an 18-year-old native of Omalo village of Pankisi gorge while fighting in Syria; ICK said that the report was confirmed by relatives of the young man.

# # # #

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

The New Great Game Round-Up: January 26, 2014

Uyghurs & Gülenists in Kyrgyzstan, Xinjiang's Never-Ending Struggle, Qatar-IMU Target Tajikistan & 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.

Western mainstream media reporting about China's fight against the "liberation of East Turkestan" follows some basic rules, one of which is to highlight the oppression of the Uyghur population at any given opportunity. So Western media outlets widely covered the arrest of Uyghur economics professor Ilham Tohti. European and American officials, led by U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki, voiced their concern and demanded an explanation. The Chinese government, not amused by all this hype, decided to set the record straight and explained why the West's new darling had been detained [emphasis mine]:

Leave no chance for malicious preaching

The nearly live coverage shows a particularly close link between Tohti and the West.

Indeed, Tohti is no ordinary Joe. Closely watched by the World Uyghur Congress, he is known to have often given aggressive lectures in class. He founded the Uighur Online website in 2006, which was very active around the riots in Urumqi, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in 2009, which left nearly 200 people dead.

The authorities must resolutely crack down on the terrorists, as well as the "brains" behind them. Without the brains, the terrorists will be like a clueless mob.

Xinjiang's Never-Ending Struggle

Beijing knows of course that the real "brains" behind the terrorists are to be found in Washington but it is arguably more difficult to put them behind bars. According to Xinjiang's police, Tohti engaged in separatist activities and "colluded with overseas East Turkistan separatist forces", which include among others the NED-funded World Uyghur Congress. While Western media reported extensively about the arrest of the Uyghur economics professor, another incident involving the Turkic ethnic group received considerably less coverage, although the information came from the West's preferred source, CIA propaganda project Radio Free Asia (RFA):

Uyghur Attack on Police Station Leaves Three Dead, Two Injured

Chinese authorities have shot dead three Uyghurs who attacked a police station in northwestern China’s restive Xinjiang region, officials said Wednesday, calling the attack an act of “separatism.”

The assault on the Yengieriq town police station in Aksu prefecture’s Awat county is the latest in a string of raids by Uyghurs who exile rights groups say could be retaliating for discrimination by Chinese authorities against the ethnic minority group.

As usual, Radio Free Asia portrays the attack as inevitable consequence of government discrimination against the Uyghur population. Other media outlets had apparently more qualms about publishing the same anti-Chinese propaganda and ignored the story. But with terrorist attacks in Xinjiang occurring more frequently, Western mainstream media will have a hard time ignoring the incidents and resort to RFA-style reporting. The assault on the Yengieriq town police station was not the only terrorist attack in Aksu prefecture this week:

12 terrorists killed in Xinjiang attack

Police in Northwest China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region on Friday shot dead six attackers, while another six died in an explosion, local authorities revealed Saturday.

Two explosions took place in a beauty salon and a grocery market in Xinhe county, Aksu prefecture at around 6:40 pm Friday. A group of terrorist suspects threw explosives at police, who were making arrests, and police opened fire and gunned down six, the Xinjiang government announced on its official website ts.cn.

Six other suspects were killed later in an explosion they set off themselves in their vehicle when they were surrounded by police, according to local authorities.

Police also detained five terrorist suspects and seized some explosive devices. So until China's new anti-terror strategy yields any results, the Chinese authorities have their work cut out and it was a wise decision to double Xinjiang's anti-terrorism budget. After all, the stability of the autonomous region is crucial for China's economic development. Beijing just announced a record high in crude oil imports from Kazakhstan via the Kazakhstan-China oil pipeline, which runs to Xinjiang, and the success of the Silk Road economic belt depends of course on Xinjiang's stability:

Cargo train linking Central Asia, east China begins operation 

A cargo train linking east China and five central Asian countries started operation on Monday amid hopes that it will boost development of the Silk Road economic belt that spans the Eurasian continent.

The train will travel 4,600 kilometers from Yiwu city of Zhejiang Province, pass through Alataw Pass in far west China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and arrive in the city of Almaty in Kazakhstan. The line will then branch off to reach cities in Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan.

Uyghurs, Gülenists in Kyrgyzstan

Other countries in the region share Beijing's interests in this regard. This week, the Kyrgyz government was reminded that Uyghur terrorists could also become a problem for the neighboring 'stans. One day after the violence in Xinjiang's Aksu prefecture started with the attack on the police station, a group of Uyghurs, who had probably crossed the border from the Chinese side, rocked the boat in Kyrgyzstan's adjacent Issyk-Kul province. The intruders broke into the hunters' point in Pikertyk and killed the head of the hunters' society of Issyk-Kul province, Alexander Barykin, allegedly shouting 'Allahu Akhbar' before they were eventually eliminated by Kyrgyz security forces:

11 militants killed by Kyrgyz troops near border with China

Kyrgyzstan’s border service says eleven militants have been killed by Kyrgyz troops near the border with China.

The border service chief said the militants, carrying hunting rifles and knives, were spotted in Pikertyk, some 40 kilometers from the border by a park ranger. The ranger was then brutally killed. Border guards located and surrounded the militants, but a gunfight ensued after they refused to surrender. All 11 gunmen were killed.

Initially there was some speculation whether the criminals were really Uyghur extremists or, for example, illegal poachers hunting for trophies like Marco Polo sheep. However, representatives of the Chinese embassy in Kyrgyzstan identified the dead men as ethnic Uyghurs and according to the chairman of Kyrgyzstan's border service, items found in their possession indicate that they were Uyghur separatists. The Kyrgyz Foreign Ministry immediately issued a statement reaffirming its active cooperation with Beijing in the fight against "the three evil forces" and the incident was certainly discussed during the latest Kyrgyz-Chinese meeting:

China to provide military-technical assistance to Kyrgyzstan

Minister of Defense Taalaibek Omuraliev met with delegation of the National Liberation Army of China led by deputy chairman of Foreign Affairs Office of the Ministry of National Defense of China Tzy Govei.

During the meeting, Minister of Defense of Kyrgyzstan thanked the Chinese side for the rendered military- technical assistance and confirmed the intention of the Ministry of Defense of the Kyrgyz Republic to boost military cooperation with China.

Since China prefers stable Central Asian neighbors, Kyrgyzstan's weak military is being supported with some Chinese military aid. But the delegation of the People's Liberation Army was not the only noteworthy delegation visiting Bishkek this week:

Kyrgyz Minister of Economy and delegation of Turkic - American Alliance discussed trade and economic cooperation

Economy Minister of Kyrgyzstan Temir Sariev met with an official delegation of Turkic - American Alliance, where the issues of trade and economic cooperation were discussed.

According to the press service of the Ministry of Economy of the KR, the delegation included President of Turkic - American alliance Faruk Taban and president of the Turkish- American Federation of Midwest USA Suleiman Turhan.

The Turkic-American Alliance (TAA) (formerly Assembly of Turkic American Federations) is a leading Turkish-American umbrella organization with more than 200 member organizations and part of CIA puppet Fethullah Gülen's vast network. Right now, the same shady network is trying to topple Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan, while Morton Abramowitz, one of Gülen's main CIA handlers, and fellow Zionist operatives are urging the Obama Administration to expedite the proceedings. Kyrgyz officials should know from personal experience that Gülen-affiliated organizations and institutions cannot be trusted [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.

Qatar, IMU Target Tajikistan

But some people are apparently either not willing to learn from their mistakes or more interested in money. Speaking of which, Tajikistan still wants to strengthen its ties with the House of Thani despite the latter's role in facilitating the Islamization of the Central Asian country. Dushanbe and Doha are expected to sign a security cooperation agreement and of course the Qatari regime offers to help with education as well [emphasis mine]:

Tajikistan, Qatar to boost bilateral education cooperation

Tajik Minister of Education and Science Nouriddin Saidov yesterday met here with Qatari Ambassador to Tajikistan Ali bin Mubarak Saeed Al-Muhanadi.

According to the Ministry of Education and Science (MoES) press center, the sides discussed issues related to expansion of bilateral education cooperation between the two countries.

Qatari ambassador reportedly noted that Tajik students could study at prestigious Qatari universities in Doha.

After Emomalii Rahmon had criticized a few years ago that foreign religious schools are indoctrinating Tajik students, the Tajik authorities have urged parents to bring their children back home. So it will be interesting to see how Dushanbe reacts to this proposal. Considering Qatar's tack record in recruiting fighters for jihad in Syria and Rahmon's fear of battle-tested terrorists continuing their activities in Tajikistan, the decision ought to be easy:

Five Tajiks Sentenced For Fighting In Syria

Tajikistan's Supreme Court has sentenced five of the country's citizens to around two years in jail for fighting on the side of antigovernment forces in Syria.

Tajikistan's State Committee for National Security said on December 24 that the five were students at the Syrian International University who decided to join Syrian rebel forces.

All five were detained in October when they returned to Tajikistan.

The presence of several Tajik fighters among the al-Qaeda mercenaries of the NATO-GCC-Israel axis is nothing new but they are now getting younger and younger. Tajikistan's secular government tries to curb the influence of religion on the youth by banning minors from mosques. Video cameras have been installed in all Friday and central mosques across the country to enforce the controversial law. However, if the Tajik authorities continue to cooperate with the House of Thani in the field of education, they will need more video cameras. During the 27th International Islamic Unity Conference last weekend in Tehran, the leader of the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (IRP) warned against extremists replacing moderate forces in the Muslim world. It is unclear whether he was alluding to Qatar's interest in Tajik education or the situation in southern Tajikistan:

Islamic Extremists Gain Ground in Tajik South

The ease with which Islamic radical groups in Tajikistan are recruiting new members indicates that the policy of arresting as many suspects as possible is not working, local analysts say.

Police in the south of Tajikistan say they are seeing a rise in recruitment by banned groups like the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) and Jamaat Ansarullah.

Jamaat Ansarullah is a splinter group of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and both groups made headlines when they tried to disrupt the sham elections in Tajikistan. The IMU is the Central Asian version of NATOGCC's various al-Qaeda brigades and has already singled out China as its "number one enemy". Journalist, author and ex-militant Ahmed Rashid, who previously highlighted the success of the IMU in Afghanistan's Badakhshan province, is apparently convinced that the terrorist group has a great future ahead of it [emphasis mine]:

Central Asian states must unite to halt the spread of jihadism

Fears for the stability of central Asia have increased, with reports that the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan is establishing bases along the Afghan border. With its allies, which include al-Qaeda and the Taliban, it is preparing to inject more fighters into the country once the Americans leave. Pakistani militants keep the IMU generously supplied with arms, money and recruits.

The group already has bases around the northern Afghan city of Kunduz. However, developments in Badakhshan province in the country’s northeast – separated from Tajikistan only by the narrow Panj river – now point to an even greater threat to security in the region. Hundreds of IMU are trying to occupy several districts in Badakhshan, a vast area in the Pamir and Hindu Kush mountain ranges. From here the tip of southern Tajikistan, Pakistan’s northwestern border and eastern Afghanistan are all within striking distance. The next step would be for militants to secure the entire northeastern corridor of Afghanistan, which would provide a major operational base.

# # # #

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

Saudi Arabia, Qatar & the Struggle for Influence in Syria

The Bond Between the Monarchies is Fraying

This week’s resignation of Ghassan Hitto, the so-called “Prime Minister in waiting” of the Syrian Opposition Coalition, coupled with the July 6th election of Ahmed Assi al-Jarba to head the umbrella coalition of US-supported proxy groups attempting to topple the Assad government, has revealed further cracks in the edifice of the imperialist assault on Syria. [Read more...]

The EyeOpener- Terror in the Caucasus: US Sponsored, EU Hosted & Turkey Channeled

The West’s Active Funding, Training & Protection of the Caucasus’ Terrorists

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Turkish claims earlier this year that three Chechen militants who were gunned down in Istanbul were in fact killed by Russian agents hardly made a ripple in the mainstream western media. Seen as a minor footnote to the ongoing Russian edition of the so-called Global War on Terrorism, it seemed like an interesting but isolated incident. Far from being unusual, however, what this incident points to is only the latest data point on a graph that demonstrates protection of Chechen terrorists from the capital of Turkey right into the heart of Europe.

What this case and many others points to is the fundamental hypocrisy underlying the US-led, NATO-enforced, Western-backed "war on terror" paradigm; just as the self-same Afghan mujahedeen could be called "freedom fighters" by one American president and "evildoers" by another, so, too, authorities can use the "freedom fighter" excuse to justify looking the other way when Islamic extremists from the Northern Caucasus set up bases in Europe. Upon closer examination, however, the West has not been involved in merely tacit support of the terrorists in the Caucasus, but in active funding, training and protection of these terrorists.

This is our EyeOpener Report by James Corbett presenting the West’s continuous support and funding of terrorists in the Caucasus, Moscow's evident conviction that the Chechen terror organizations are being protected and supported by the West, and exploring the likely reasons behind the puzzling relative silence from the Kremlin on these still-hidden realities and facts behind the terror in the Caucasus.

Watch the Preview Here:

Watch the Full Video Report Here:

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*The Transcript for this video is available at Corbett Report: Click Here

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BFP Exclusive: US-NATO-Chechen Militia Joint Operations Base

Introducing UNC Terror Cooperation

checkenThe US media may be many awful things, but no one could ever accuse them of not being consistent- at least when it comes to certain subject areas; US-NATO-Chechen joint terrorism operations being one. The censorship of this topic goes to such extremes where even modified-sanitized-pasteurized versions of related events and facts are nowhere to be found in the US media. Let me list a few globally known and reported facts, then add a few twos and twos and twos together, and see whether you can find any traces of that in the US mainstream media:

Assassinations of Chechen Terrorist Leaders in Turkey

The following was reported by British paper Telegraph in September this year:

Kremlin hit squad 'assassinate Chechen Islamist in Istanbul'

The triple murder was carried out by a lone gunman in less than thirty seconds using a 9mm pistol fitted with a silencer. It brought the number of Chechens assassinated in the Turkish city in the last four years to at least six. The gunman pumped eleven bullets into the three men in a busy Istanbul street before speeding off in a black getaway car.

One of the murdered men, 33-year-old Berg-Haj Musayev, was said to be close to Doku Umarov, an Islamist terrorist leader who is Russia's most wanted man. The other two were said to be his bodyguards.

It was Umarov who claimed responsibility for the January suicide bombing of Moscow's busy Domodedovo airport, an atrocity that left 37 people dead. Musayev's widow Sehida said she was sure the Russian secret service was behind her husband's murder, a view echoed by Murat Ozer, head of a Chechen Diaspora group in Istanbul.

I am going to provide you with several cases like this, and go back several years, but for now keep this article in mind, and ask yourself: How did these notorious Chechen terrorist masterminds and leaders end up in Turkey? Why did all these high-level terrorists choose Turkey? How could they be allowed by the Turkish government to operate and carry out their terror operations from Turkey as their HQ-base? [Read more...]