The New Great Game Round-Up: December 15, 2014

Uzbekistan- India Welcome "Pariah" Putin with Open Arms, Setting the “Right Priorities” in the South Caucasus & 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.

While U.S. President Barack Obama is still trying to convince the public that Russia is completely isolated, Russian President Vladimir Putin paid official visits to Uzbekistan and India, strengthening Russia's ties with the two countries. On December 10, the Russian President traveled to Tashkent, where he held talks with his Uzbek counterpart Islam Karimov. Putin's visit was a show of support for Karimov ahead of upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections in Uzbekistan, which could get interesting for a change given that Karimov has not stated whether he will stand for re-election as president. Russian-Uzbek relations have been tense since the end of the Soviet Union and the Karimov regime has always been a difficult partner for Russia but the Kremlin is now looking to forge closer ties with Uzbekistan, regardless of who is running the country. The two presidents signed an important agreement, significantly reducing Uzbekistan's debt to Russia in order to pave the way for new loans from Moscow, which are intended for a particular purpose [emphasis mine]:

Russia Cozies Up to Uzbekistan With $865 Million Debt Write-Off

Russia on Wednesday wrote off $865 million of debt owed by Uzbekistan as President Vladimir Putin sought to bolster ties between the former Soviet republics during a one-day visit to the country, news agency TASS reported.

The agreement, which was signed in the presence of Putin and his Uzbek counterpart Islam Karimov, freed Uzbekistan from almost all of its $890 million debt to Russia. Uzbekistan will have to pay just $25 million, Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said Wednesday.

Presidential aide Yury Ushakov said Wednesday that settling the debt issue will allow Russia to expand sales of arms and military equipment in the country, TASS reported.

Uzbekistan, India Welcome "Pariah" Putin with Open Arms

Uzbekistan hoped to profit from the drawdown of U.S. and NATO forces from Afghanistan by getting leftover American equipment, such as Mine Resistant Armor Protected (MRAP) vehicles, but this didn't work out. Therefore, the Uzbek regime is now turning to Russia for new arms and military equipment and since much of the debt has been written off, Tashkent is free to go on a shopping spree. In exchange for freeing Uzbekistan from its debt, Karimov agreed to start consultations on a free-trade zone between the Central Asian republic and the Russia-led Eurasian Economics Union (EEU). Moreover, Uzbekistan's strongman leader praised Russia's stabilizing role in Central Asia and he asked the Russian President to help the 'stans in the fight against the "creeping expansion of militant extremism and religious radicalism" in the region. This issue was also high on the agenda during Putin's trip to India, where the "pariah" was welcomed with open arms by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who used the opportunity to express his condolences for the recent attack in Chechnya's capital Grozny [emphasis mine]:

Combating terrorism, stability in Afghanistan key areas of India-Russian ties, says PM Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said the areas of priority for cooperation between India and Russia include combating terrorism and extremism; advancing peace and stability in Afghanistan; working together for a stable, balanced, peaceful and prosperous Asia Pacific; and cooperating for development in other countries.

"I conveyed my deepest condolences for the loss of lives in the terrorist attack in Chechnya. This also reflects our many shared challenges,"
Prime Minister Modi said in his media statement during the official visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin to India.

"This is President Putin's eleventh Annual Summit and my first. This Summit reinforced my conviction in the extraordinary value and strength of this partnership. I am confident that our bilateral cooperation and international partnership will acquire new vigour and scale new heights in the years ahead," he added.

Russia's landmark military cooperation agreement with Pakistan didn't go unnoticed in India but New Delhi cuts Moscow some slack because the Russians cite the need to combat terrorism as one of the reasons for their closer ties with Pakistan. The strong strategic partnership between Russia and India is hardly affected by such minor points of contention. Washington learned this the hard way in recent months, as the Americans tried in vain to convince India of turning its back on Russia. Instead the new Modi-led government has moved closer to Moscow and Beijing. This week's 15th India-Russia Annual Summit showed that India wants to follow China's example in strengthening its strategic partnership with Russia. As previously discussed, the two allies seek to boost their trade and economic ties so that they eventually match the strong political ties. According to Russia's Minister of Industry and Trade, Denis Manturov, the goal is to increase trade turnover up to $30 billion by 2025 and during Putin's visit to New Delhi, Russia and India took the first step in the right direction:

Modi, Putin discuss defence, energy

Russia will remain India’s foremost defence partner, Prime Minister Narendra Modi told Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday while announcing that Russia had accepted India’s offer to jointly manufacture light-utility helicopters.

India and Russia announced a $10-billion oil deal for Indian company Essar with Russian oil giant ROSNEFT to import about 10 million tonnes of crude oil over the next decade. The two sides also signed seven agreements on atomic energy, military training and health while Mr Modi and President Putin oversaw the signing of 13 commercial contracts.

The highlight of the meeting — part of an annual summit between the two countries — was the unveiling of a vision statement on atomic energy cooperation, where Russian nuclear agency ROSATOM and the Department of Atomic Energy and NPCIL have agreed to build at least 12 new reactors supplied by Russia over the next 20 years.

Furthermore, the two sides agreed to "scout and explore" for hydrocarbons in the Arctic shelf and to conduct a study exploring the feasibility of a multi-billion dollar gas pipeline from Russia to India. Much to the dismay of the United States, Putin announced that they also agreed to expand payments in national currencies. The Reserve Bank of India and the Central Bank of Russia have already set up a joint working group to work out modalities for de-dollarizing the growing bilateral trade. Russia and India signed a number of agreements which won't go down well in Washington but one memorandum of understanding (MoU) is particularly interesting in this regard because it "aims to facilitate India’s deepening economic cooperation with Crimea." Sergey Aksyonov, the Prime Minister of the Republic of Crimea, accompanied Putin's delegation to New Delhi, which prompted the U.S. puppet regime in Kiev to lash out at India:

Ukrainian president slams India over Crimean leader visit

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at
India on Friday over a visit by the leader of Crimea, the former Ukrainian territory annexed by Russia, who accompanied President Vladimir Putin's annual summit delegation this week.

India does not back Western sanctions against Russia, and the unofficial trip by Sergey Aksyonov could spoil the mood before Prime Minister Narendra Modi hosts U.S. President Barack Obama for India's Republic Day festivities in January.

Poroshenko, addressing the Lowy Institute think tank in Sydney, said India was placing more importance on "money" than "values" by welcoming Aksyanov, and it was not standing with "civilization" against Russian aggression.

Insurgents' Families, Human Rights Activists under Attack in Chechnya

Ukrainian oligarch turned president Poroshenko knows a thing or two about money and values and he is definitely a leading authority in the field of civilization considering that his regime is still waging war against the people in eastern Ukraine, who don't share Poroshenko's enthusiasm for neo-Nazis from all over the world. A few of Poroshenko's "civilized" pals are currently being investigated by the Russians for public calls for terrorist activities in Russia in connection with the recent attack in the Chechen capital Grozny, which left 26 people dead, including all eleven insurgents. Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov suggested after the clashes that the attackers might have come from outside Chechnya but this was highly doubtful from the beginning and all insurgents have meanwhile been identified as residents of the Chechen Republic. This will only reinforce Kadyrov's decision to punish not only those who support the insurgency but also anyone who fails to prevent terrorist activities, even if that means evicting families who couldn't stop their relatives from becoming terrorists:

Homes Of Alleged Militants' Families Torched In Chechnya

Residents of Russia's Chechnya region say the authorities are carrying out Kremlin-backed leader Ramzan Kadyrov's orders to destroy the homes of relatives of alleged militants held responsible for attacks.

Residents of the village of Yandi said that masked men arrived in more than a dozen vehicles late on December 8 and set several homes on fire.

On December 6, after 14 policemen were killed in some of the deadliest fighting in the Chechen capital in years, Kadyrov announced that relatives of militants involved in killings would be evicted from Chechnya and their homes "razed down to the basement."

Anticipating that the harsh punishment of insurgents' families would draw a lot of criticism, Kadyrov made it perfectly clear that he couldn't care less about the "opinion of some people or the so-called human rights advocacy groups who watched in silence as NATO warplanes and militants trained by the West murdered millions of Muslims in Syria and Iraq." A few days after several houses had been burned to the ground, the Chechen authorities organized a large anti-terrorism rally in Grozny, reportedly attended by 50,000 people, in an effort to demonstrate that the population supports the persecution of insurgents' relatives. Following the rally, a group of masked men set alight the local office of the Moscow-based Committee to Prevent Torture (KPP), one of the last human rights groups still active in Chechnya. The group is headed by Igor Kalyapin, who appealed to Russia's Prosecutor General over Kadyrov's statements calling for relatives of terrorists to be held responsible and was shortly thereafter implicated by the Chechen President in organizing the recent attack in Grozny:

Chechen Republic Head Implicates Human Rights Defender In Grozny Attack

Chechen Republic head Ramzan Kadyrov has indirectly implicated Igor Kalyapin, head of Russia's Committee to Prevent Torture, in organizing last week's attack by insurgents in Grozny in which 14 police and security personnel were killed and 36 wounded.

an Instagram post on December 10, Kadyrov claimed that a man by the name of Kalyapin channeled from Western intelligence services to Akhmat Umarov, the brother of former Caucasus Emirate head Doku Umarov, the funds to finance the attack by insurgents on Grozny. Kadyrov demanded a probe to determine whether the Kalyapin in question and the Kalyapin "who came to the defense of bandits and their relatives" are one and the same person.

Therefore, Kalyapin was also pelted with eggs during a press conference in Moscow two days before the Chechen branch of the KPP, the Joint Mobile Group, came under attack in Grozny. During the rally in the Chechen capital on Saturday, several signs in the crowd read "Kalyapin Go Home" and asked for Kadyrov to "protect us against the Kalyapins." Some activists of the KPP/Joint Mobile Group are now considering leaving Chechnya due to threats but the NGO wants to continue its work in the republic. Whether or not Kalyapin and his group have anything to do with the attack in Grozny, remains to be seen. As mentioned last week, the trail leads to NATO member Turkey, where Akhmat Umarov is living at the moment. Turkey is the place to be for aspiring terrorists but this week's assassination of a radical Uzbek imam, who promoted jihad in Syria, shows once again that life in Turkey is also increasingly dangerous because everybody knows where to look for the jihadists and their handlers:

Uzbek dissident assassinated in Istanbul, one arrested

An Uzbek dissident who was living in Turkey for around 12 years was assassinated in Istanbul’s Zeytinburnu district on Dec. 11, with a Chechen-origin
Russian national being detained as the sole suspect. 

Abdullah Bukhari, 38, was working as a religious leader and was the head of the İhsan Learning Services and Solidarity Association in the Zeytinburnu district of the city. The Uzbek dissident was wounded in a gun attack at close range in front of the association building.

Bukhari had allegedly received death threats from
Russian and Uzbek intelligence agencies and reportedly donned a steel vest whenever he went outside. He was attacked at a time when he was not wearing the steel vest, while he also reportedly did not inform any students at the association that he was going to the building.

Setting the Right Priorities in the South Caucasus 

According to Turkish media, Bukhari was one of four "dissidents" on a hit list, which was drawn up by Russian and Uzbek intelligence agencies three months ago. Interestingly, the Uzbek imam was assassinated on the same day as Putin and Karimov were meeting in Tashkent but that is perhaps just a coincidence. Be that as it may, on the same day, there was also a noteworthy meeting in the eastern Turkish city of Kars. The Foreign Ministers of Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey gathered in Kars to strenghten trilateral cooperation between the three neighbors. Especially energy and transportation projects, such as the Trans-Anatolian gas pipeline (TANAP) and the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway, were high on the agenda during the fourth trilateral meeting since the launch of this format in 2012. Russia's decision to drop the South Stream project and redirect the pipeline to Turkey caused a great stir in Europe and some EU countries immediately expressed their concern that this could affect the implementation of TANAP but Turkish FM Mevlüt Cavusoglu put oil on troubled waters:

TANAP natural gas project is Turkey's priority: FM

The Trans Anatolia Natural Gas Pipeline, TANAP is Turkey's priority rather than Russia's last project proposal, according to Turkey’s Minister of Foreign Affairs. 

Cavusoglu spoke on Putin's announcement of the suspension of the South Stream natural gas project and his proposal for an alternative route through Turkey to send natural gas to Greece and to European countries.

"We signed a memorandum of understanding with Russia but it doesn’t mean that TANAP stays in the background," Cavusoglu said at a meeting with Azerbaijan’s Elmar Mammadyarov and Georgia’s Tamar Beruchasvili on Wednesday.

After Turkey and Russia signed the MoU on constructing a gas pipeline across the Black Sea, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan emphasized that the deal was not binding and required more talks on the details. Ankara is admittedly interested in the project but the construction of TANAP, which is expected to start next year, takes top priority. With South Stream dead and no Iran nuclear deal in sight, Europe is left out in the cold and new gas supplies are desperately needed. The much-hyped Southern Gas Corridor is supposed to be the solution and the EU hopes to receive the first energy supplies from the Caspian region by 2019 but the construction of the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) is apparently taking longer than expected. Given that the countries of south-eastern Europe face several years of uncertainty, it is easy to understand why they have still not given up on Russia's South Stream project despite vehement opposition from Brussels and Washington [emphasis mine]:

EU turns to Azerbaijan for gas

The EU is considering plans for a new pipeline to enable gas imports from Azerbaijan. The push comes in the wake of Russia's decision to cancel the South Stream pipeline project.

EU Energy Commissioner Maros Sefcovic said Tuesday that a new high-level working group would be set up to advance the integration of central and south-eastern European gas markets and pipeline networks. As part of the effort, Sefcovic discussed proposals to link Azerbaijan's gas fields by pipeline with European markets.

The move is partly in response to the uncertainty generated by Russia's surprise decision to scrap the
South Stream pipeline project that it had agreed with the EU. Several EU member states that had invested in the South Stream pipeline, or stood to benefit from it - including Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Italy, Romania and Slovenia - asked Sefcovic to reach out to Russia and discuss whether it might reconsider its decision.

While Austria, Bulgaria & Co. wait in vain for Brussels to prioritize Europe's interests over Washington's, Azerbaijan stands to benefit from the demise of South Stream. As Azerbaijan is becoming more important to the U.S. and the EU, the Aliyev regime knows exactly how to exploit its position, much to the indignation of Azerbaijani dissidents, activists, journalists and their friends in the West. In recent months, Baku made headlines with an unprecedented crackdown on critics and foreign-backed NGOs, raising the question of whether Azerbaijani leader Ilham Aliyev wants to abandon his pro-Western course. According to Western media, the recent arrest of journalist Khadija Ismayilova, who is working for CIA propaganda outlet Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, proves that this is the case but it remains to be seen whether the close military and economic cooperation between NATO and Azerbaijan continues as before, or whether Ismayilova's arrest was really a breaking point:

Baku in the USSR? Azerbaijan could be set to abandon West and head East

Ismayilova’s arrest is seen by many in Baku as a breaking point in Aliyev’s attempts to align Azerbaijan with the West. In an interview he gave two weeks ago to a Russian news channel, he accused the West of having encouraged the emergence of the Islamic State with its “policies in the Middle East over the last decade.” 

His words echoed the Kremlin’s position that the United States and European Union are responsible for the rise of ISIS (also known as ISIL) by supporting the rebels fighting the Bashar Assad regime in Syria. 

Until very recently, Azerbaijan saw President Vladimir Putin’s Russia as a hostile force trying to undermine its pro-Western policy and supporting neighboring Armenia in the conflict over the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave. Now, Aliyev is praising Moscow and saying that “Azerbaijan and Russia are two neighboring friendly countries which are developing together and are ready to face world challenges.”

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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

The New Great Game Round-Up: May 18, 2014

Xinjiang- Terrorist Videos & Online Separatism,   Moscow's Reshuffle in the North Caucasus & 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.

With the Chinese authorities struggling to get on top of the terror problem, new reports have emerged indicating that the recent terror campaign did not start on the last day of President Xi Jinping's four-day trip to Xinjiang with the attack at Urumqi's railway station but on the first day of Xi's visit with the killing of three senior Han Chinese officials in the autonomous region. According to CIA's Radio Free Asia (RFA), three senior county level officials were brutally murdered and their bodies dumped in the Kokkolyar Lake in Kashgar prefecture, where they had been on a fishing expedition. Police kept the incident under wraps and Chinese media did not report it until last Friday, when the state-backed Global Times confirmed the "tragic murder of three cadres by terrorists". But all efforts to keep the increasing violence in Xinjiang out of the headlines during the visit of President Xi were eventually futile due to the attack in Urumqi, which was reportedly carried out by the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) also known as the Turkestan Islamic Party (TIP):

Islamist group claims China station bombing: SITE

An Islamist militant group called the Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP) claimed responsibility for an attack at a train station in China's western city of Urumqi in late April that killed one and injured 79 people, the SITE Monitoring service said.

SITE, which tracks Islamist militant statements, said TIP had released a 10-minute video in the Uighur language showing the
construction of a briefcase bomb it said was used in the station attack.

"A fighter is shown placing the explosive material and shrapnel of bolts inside a box, then inserting the detonation
device in a briefcase with the explosive, and leaving the trigger exposed in an outside pocket," SITE said of the video.

Xinjiang: Terrorist Videos & Online Separatism 

While RFA did its best to downplay the latest video by the anti-Chinese terrorist group, Chinese media noted that the terrorists are now calling themselves TIP rather than ETIM and interpreted this as further confirmation of the organization's transnational activities. However, it is highly doubtful whether the ETIM is a cohesive group at all and the Chinese government has done a lot to undermine its own credibility in this regard by trying to link all attacks perpetrated by Uyghurs to the ETIM. Fortunately, this time it was not necessary to find any ETIM flags at the crime scene. Perhaps one of the captured suspects will shed more light on the ETIM and its role in the Urumqi attack. Police arrested seven people including two brothers, a cousin and wife of one of the assailants. Furthermore, over 200 people have been detained for spreading the wrong videos on the internet:

232 held for spread of terrorism in Xinjiang

Police in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region have arrested over 200 people in connection with the dissemination of violent or terrorist videos. 

This comes weeks after the regional government announced a ban on spreading these videos online, or by using a portable storage device. 

Since the end of March, Xinjiang authorities found 2,229 webpage links, cracked 226 cases and arrested 232 people who have circulated videos promoting terrorism through the Internet and on portable devices. Among those arrested, 71 are in criminal detention, 107 are under administrative detention, while 34 people connected to 17 cases have been prosecuted, the Legal Daily reported.

China's fight against separatism on the internet is not limited to the East Turkestan independence movement. A few days ago, Dong Yunhu, the head of Tibet's propaganda department, vowed to "seal and stifle" the internet in order to "cut off Tibetan separatist propaganda from infiltrating and destroying all manner of communication". The Chinese authorities are clearly stepping up their efforts to stamp out ethnic unrest in the country. Among other things, this translates into armed anti-terror units patrolling the streets of Beijing and Xinjiang's policemen learning to shoot first and then ask questions:

China sends arms trainers to Xinjiang

A team of arms trainers has been sent to China's northwestern Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region to help local police better handle terrorist situations, the ministry of public security said on Tuesday.

The team, consisting of 30 trainers from across the country, is part of a three-month program launched in April to train grassroots policemen in using arms, the ministry said.

It said training will focus on the legitimate use of weapons, tactical collaboration, emergency response as well as safety protection, and will highlight proper handling of cold arms.

In the wake of the latest attacks, Beijing called on the international community to support its anti-terror efforts. Especially the support of neighboring Pakistan is crucial for China's war on terror, given that the ETIM supposedly found shelter in North Waziristan. When it comes to terrorist organizations based in the Pakistani tribal areas, regardless of whether it concerns the ETIM or "al-Qaeda", Pakistan's intelligence agencies know exactly where these guys are located. Therefore, the Chinese government is now turning to Islamabad:

China seeks stepping up of anti-terrorism cooperation with Pak

Battling militancy in Xinjiang, President Xi Jinping today said China wants to step up security cooperation with Pakistan to combat terrorism.

Xi said China is willing to enhance security cooperation with Pakistan and work with Islamabad to combat the three evil forces of separatism, extremism and terrorism.

Last October, Pakistan's government did Beijing a favor by banning the ETIM as well as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU). But this was more a symbolic action than a substantial change of policy and unless Beijing convinces the Pakistani intelligence agencies of abandoning their jihadi assets, Pakistan will continue to be a safe haven for anti-Chinese terrorists. 

NATO Up to No Good in Uzbekistan

With Pakistan's support doubtful, the Chinese authorities are making sure that they can count on their Central Asian partners in the fight against the "three evil forces". China is now boasting "strategic partnerships" with all five Central Asian republics and wants to step up security cooperation with the 'stans. However, the importance of Central Asia is not lost on the United States. In the light of the Ukraine crisis, Washington is showing great interest in the region as well. The U.S. maintains ties with the armed forces of several Central Asian countries and is apparently looking to expand its military cooperation with Uzbekistan under the auspices of the North Atlantic(!) Treaty Organization: 

NATO to Open Office in Uzbekistan’s Tashkent

A representative office of NATO will be opened in Tashkent, Uzbekistan on Friday, a NATO official told RIA Novosti Wednesday.

"The opening ceremony will be attended by James Appathurai, NATO Secretary General’s Special Representative for the Caucasus and Central Asia,” the representative of the office said.

The office will cooperate in defense planning and analysis, military education and training, scientific and environmental issues and support NATO operations, the representative said.

Uzbekistan is not exactly anywhere near the Atlantic but that does not seem to disturb anyone except for Moscow. When push comes to shove, the abysmal human rights record of the Uzbek regime does not matter either. So nobody raised an eyebrow when NATO announced the opening of an office in Uzbekistan just after Washington's favorite "human rights advocacy group", Human Rights Watch, had called on the U.S. and EU to press the Uzbek authorities to allow an independent, international inquiry into the Andijan massacre. Speaking of which, a conference held by Uzbek exile organizations in Istanbul in commemoration of the massacre made the headlines this week:

Uzbeks are being called to join mujahideens in Syria

Calls have been made for Uzbeks to join mujahideens in Syria at the Uzbek Unity and NDU conference in Turkey held to commemorate the Andijan Massacre on May 11. 

Ozodlik (Freedom) Radio and the Uzbek BBC service reported that a number of organizations joined forces in organizing this conference, among them Unity of Uzbeks, Unity of Turkestan, and the People’s Movement of Uzbekistan (NDU) headed by the prominent political opposition leader Mukhammad Salikh.

The press service of the NDU has published a video on YouTube of at least one presentation from the conference. In this presentation an unidentified person made calls for a jihad against infidels and insisted on the necessity of helping mujahideens in Syria.

Although the Uzbek exile groups were quick to distance themselves from the allegedly uninvited speaker who called for jihad, they did not dismiss his ideas and at least one Uzbek native, whom Unity of Turkestan "had helped", was already killed in Syria. Many Uzbeks living in Kyrgyzstan have joined the "Syrian rebels" and Turkey, which has a visa-free regime with Kyrgyzstan, plays a vital role in channelling these fighters into Syria. One Uzbek terrorist is reportedly commanding a group within the Al-Nusra Front, which consists of "scores of fighters from Uzbekistan and neighboring countries in Central Asia". The longer the conflict drags on, the more the NATO-GCC-Israel axis is relying on jihadi mercenaries from Central Asia and the Caucasus for its war against the Syrian government:

Central Asian jihadist group joins ISIS

A jihadist group made up of Uzbeks, Tajiks, and Russians from the Caucasus that operates in Syria has sworn allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham.

The group, known as Sabiri's Jamaat, swore allegiance to the ISIS in March,
according to From Chechnya to Syria, a website that tracks fighters from the Caucasus and Central Asia who are waging jihad in Syria.

The exact size of the group is not known, but likely has scores of fighters. In a video (below) released by the group back in January, at least 70 fighters are pictured. The speaker in the video says that the group is made up "Uzbekis, Tajiks, Chechens, and Dagestanis."

Moscow's Reshuffle in the North Caucasus

The close cooperation between Central Asian terrorists and their counterparts from Russia's North Caucasus is hardly surprising. According to Kyrgyz cleric Sagynbek Mamatov, many Central Asian jihadists are trained by battle-tested fighters in the Russian Republic of Dagestan. The Dagestani insurgency continues to give the Russian authorities headaches. Last week, a FSB officer was killed in Dagestan's capital Makhachkala and this week more law enforcers fell victim to an ambush in Gunib:

Three Police Officers Killed, Seven Wounded In Daghestan

Three police officers were killed and seven others injured in a shootout in Russia's volatile North Caucasus Republic of Daghestan. 

Daghestan's Interior Ministry says that unknown armed individuals opened fire, possibly with machine guns, at a police patrol in Daghestan's central district of Gunib on May 15.

Despite the relatively peaceful situation in Chechnya, Russia's terror problem in the North Caucasus is far from resolved and it is by no means limited to Dagestan. In order to address the underlying socioeconomic problems of the conflict, the Kremlin recently decided to establish a new ministry, which will deal with the development of the North Caucasus region:

Russia introduces separate ministry for North Caucasus affairs

Vladimir Putin has replaced the presidential envoy in the North Caucasus district and ordered a dedicated ministry for North Caucasus affairs be set up, headed by the former governor of the Krasnoyarsk Region.

The head of Russia’s Presidential Administration, Sergey Ivanov, told reporters that the main tasks of the new ministry would be improving the employment situation in the region, attracting investments and control over the spending of federal budgetary funds.

President Putin's new envoy in the North Caucasian Federal District is Sergey Melikov, the chief commander of the Interior Ministry’s forces in the region. Melikov's appointment indicates that the use of force is an integral part of Moscow's plans for the North Caucasus. With this reshuffle done, the Kremlin can now prepare for future unrest in another part of Russia. As previously mentioned, NATO's jihadi mercenaries might relocate their activities to the Crimean Peninsula and considering the latest videos from Syria, the plot thickens:

Muhajireen Army commander calls for Muslims to wage jihad in the Ukraine

The deputy leader of an al Qaeda-allied jihadist group that is led by commanders from the Caucasus and other former Soviet republics has called for Ukrainian Muslims to wage jihad against the Russia government.

Abdul Karim Krymsky, the deputy emir of Jaish al Muhajireen wal Ansar (the Army of the Emigrants and Helpers, or Muhajireen Army), said that Crimean Tatars and Ukrainian Muslims should "start on the path of jihad." Krymsky made the statement in a video in which he appeared with Salahuddin Shishani (the Chechen), the emir of the Muhajireen Army.

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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

The New Great Game Round Up- June 16, 2013

CIA Guiding the Evolution of Islam, UAE: NATO's Proxy at Work, “Colour Revolution in Kyrgyzstan?” & 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.

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) held its 10th joint counterterrorism drill in Kazakhstan this week. Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan assisted the host nation while China, Russia and Uzbekistan observed the drill. Since 2002 the SCO member states have been conducting joint military exercises, primarily focusing on anti-terror operations. The recent drill featured a terrorist invasion in Kazakhstan:

The drill stimulates a situation where terrorists enter Kazakhstan by helicopters and automobiles, hijack hostages in a bordering village and attempt to conduct terrorist activities.

The mission is for counter forces from SCO member countries to crack down on the terrorist group and rescue hostages through both ground and aerial operations.

Professor Wang Baofu from the PLA National Defence University explains the underlying motives: [Read more...]

Pssssst… Buried News: Khalilzad Now Openly ‘Does’ Central Asia

Tethys Petroleum Appoints Zalmay Khalilzad to the Board

Isn’t it amazing how the US media intentionally glosses over and censors meaningful developments involving key scumbag figures in US politics? Let me give you a personal example from the past- Former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert’s well-known shady-corrupt deeds and associations miraculously and magically (and consistently) were sanitized and or blacked out. [Read more...]

Mr. Obama, How About Sanctions – No Fly Zone – Observer League for Uzbekistan?

Let’s Make This Principled & Consistent; Let’s Go to War with All!

Uzbek1Our nation is famous for many things. Things that it is known for. Things that in one way or another represent it. Things that become synonymous with America or being Americans. Our foreign policy and our presidents are no exception. If you were to ask the recipients of our foreign policy there would be one adjective they’d all agree upon. Unanimously. There is one common and unanimously agreed upon ‘thing’ when it comes to US foreign policy and practices: It is called Hypocrisy. Granted there are slight variations here and there, but the never changing and ever present hypocrisy always remains.

Read the newspapers and watch the coverage of international news broadcast on our networks and cables. There it is. Glaring hypocrisy. Every single day. Hundreds of times a day. Listen to presidential and state department briefings and statements. There it is. Filled with it. Shameless hypocrisy. Check out our congressional records. Day in and Day out. Ever present. Consistent hypocrisy.

I could set up a whole new website to track US foreign policy hypocrisy examples, and it would be filled with them, tens of pages a day, and hundreds of instances. You don’t even need to have a well-developed hypocrisy-detector. It is so bold and obvious even way below-average processing minds can detect it! I am very serious.

uzbek2This morning I found at least 32 bold examples of our hypocrisy-ridden foreign policy, practices and rhetoric. And I was not even looking for them. They were everywhere: mainstream, pseudo-alternative streams, semi-alternative streams … You name it! I wanted to pick one and showcase it. I could have picked any of them: Bahrain, Kuwait, Azerbaijan, Israel, Turkey … Basically any of our ‘intimate allies’ in ‘this and that’ part of the world. You name it. However, I exercised a bit of self-restrain and settled for one. And, here it is [All Emphasis Mine]: [Read more...]

The EyeOpener- Meet the Shanghai Cooperation Organization

The Geopolitical Paradigm of the 21st Century


When The Shanghai Five held its first presidential summit in China in 1996, this innocuous group hardly registered as a blip on the geopolitical radar. Within just five years, however, the loose-knit cooperative organization of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan was already attracting the attention of some of the premier globalist institutions as a potential opponent to Western imperial hegemony.

In 2001 the five countries convened their annual summit in Shanghai where they admitted the body's sixth member, Uzbekistan, and signed the Declaration of Shanghai Cooperation Organization. And from these inauspicious beginnings emerged an economic, cultural and military alliance which is now threatening to become a serious contender for control over one of the most geostrategically important areas of the globe.

This region, which arch-globalist Zbigniew Brzezinski referred to as "The Eurasian Balkans" in his infamous 1997 opus, The Grand Chessboard, encompass portions of Southeastern Europe, Central Asia, South Asia, the Persian Gulf and the Middle East. Brzezinski admonished the global power players who constitute his real readership that "any successful American policy must focus on Eurasia as a whole and be guided by a Geostrategic design."

This is our EyeOpener Report by James Corbett, presenting the creation of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, its increasing role in the formation of economic, political and even military cooperation in the region, a new power bloc that is not within the purview of the NATO powers and threatens western sovereignty over this vastly important region, and the tension that is likely to increase, as both sides become more entrenched, and more desperate to attain control over the area.

Watch the Preview Here:

Watch the Full Video Report Here (Subscribers Only):

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

This site depends exclusively on readers’ support. Please help us continue by subscribing .


Additional Omitted Points in CIA-Gulen coverage & A Note from ‘The Insider’

Crucial Details Missing in the MSM Coverage of the Recent Intel Chief’s Exposé

gulenLast week I wrote about the Washington Post’s incomplete and one-sided coverage of the recently published memoir by former Turkish Intelligence Chief Osman Nuri Gundes exposing CIA Operations via an Islamic Group in Central Asia. Since then I have gone over the same book’s review and coverage by the Turkish mainstream media, and I have interviewed reporters and sources in Turkey who have read the book, followed the coverage, and or are intimately familiar with the topic. With that I now have several additional points on this exposé which further illustrate the journalistically mind-boggling piece marketed by the Post. Writing my previous piece cost me an associate whom I like and respect. It shouldn’t have. I still believe this was a case of institution-Government-editors vs. the journalist, with the former winning. I am not going to weigh my writing, modify my facts, alter the truth, tweak, and censor based on worries of losing a source, or a friend, or even readership. With that said I’ll briefly list my points gathered from documented facts and interviews, and sources familiar with Gundes’ recent book and Gulen.
Extensive Coverage in the Turkish Mainstream Media

As one might expect, the Turkish mainstream media (all major newspapers, magazines, radio & TV channels) extensively (and very intensely) covered the recent publication of Gundes’ book. The following are the main points on former Turkish Intel Chief Gundes’ CIA-Gulen allegations which were documented and reported by every single media outlet in Turkey (since mid December), including this one written by one of the most prominent journalists at Milliyet:
1-     In Central Asia, within Gulen’s Islamic schools, the CIA operatives worked under the guise of ‘American Teachers teaching English.’

Okay, the Washington Post article, going through the exact same publications/articles forgot to add these crucial details, which would have paved the way for journalistic investigation(s) leading to either confirmation or denial. The following is the only detail the article provided:

In the 1990s, Gundes alleges, the movement "sheltered 130 CIA agents" at its schools in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan alone

In this case, as others had done already, the existence of mysterious American teachers teaching English in Gulen’s schools in Central Asia has already been confirmed.

2-     The American Teachers working at Gulen’s Islamic Schools in Central Asia possessed US Diplomatic Passports.

I contacted my source, formerly with the State Department, and he confirmed issuing diplomatic status for at least 50 Americans to teach in former Soviet republics. When I asked him whether they were employed by the State Department, he said: ‘Not officially.’ I asked him whether they were connected to the CIA, and he responded, ‘I wouldn’t know.’ I inquired about the direct foreign employer(s) of these American teachers, and this was his response: ‘Private Turkish companies in education fields and several NGOs in Turkey.’ This particular source was retired in 2004. [Read more...]

Central Asia Militants: A Rhetorical Question of Funding & Sponsors

Central Asian Militants, Pan-Turkic Aims & Mysterious Financiers

armsI just finished reading an interesting article at Asia Times on the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), which is characterized by some as Central Asia's most aggressive militant group. The main focus of the article is placed on the status, recent expansion and transformation of IMU: The IMU is no longer a small band of militants focused on taking down the Uzbek regime and replacing it with an Islamic state. Today, it has a much wider reach and more ambitious goals, and has underlined its revival with attacks that suggest a presence across a wide swathe of South and Central Asia.

Considering my own focus, which I am sure many of you are pretty familiar with by now, the following bits and pieces, none of which happen to receive any elaboration or even a slight explanation by the author, deserve the real attention: [Read more...]

Did You Know: The King of Madrasas Now Operates Over 100 Charter Schools in the US?

Fethullah Gulen Takes the Great Game a Step Further

gulenThe Controversial Muslim preacher has now extended his tentacles into schools in the United States, where he controls and operates more than 100 charter schools within a calculatively set up maze of dubious NGOs. Fethullah Gulen, whose organizations’ net worth is estimated to be somewhere between $22 billion and $50 billion, owns and operates over three hundred Madrasas around the world, including Pakistan, Central Asia, and the Caucasus. While Gulen’s suspicious and secretive Madrasas have been shut down and or restrained in countries such as Russia, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan, based on these governments’ justified suspicions that his schools had more than just education on their agendas, his rapidly and secretively expanding charter school empire here in the US has gone quite unnoticed and unacknowledged.

In less than a decade Gulen’s Islamic network in the US has established over 100 publicly funded charter schools in 25 states. What makes this eyebrow raising phenomenon a very disturbing case is the fact that despite official documents and publicly available data Fethullah Gulen is going out of his way to deny his connections to these schools. The question is why? Here are a few excerpts from a USA Today article in August 2010:

The schools educate as many as 35,000 students — taken together they'd make up the largest charter school network in the USA — and have imported thousands of Turkish educators over the past decade.But the success of the schools at times has been clouded by nagging questions about what ties the schools may have to a reclusive Muslim leader in his late 60s living in exile in rural Pennsylvania.

Top administrators say they have no official ties to Gülen. And Gülen himself denies any connection to the schools. Still, documents available at various foundation websites and in federal forms required of non-profit groups show that virtually all of the schools have opened or operate with the aid of Gülen-inspired "dialogue" groups, local non-profits that promote Turkish culture. In one case, the Ohio-based Horizon Science Academy of Springfield in 2005 signed a five-year building lease with the parent organization of Chicago's Niagara Foundation, which promotes Gülen's philosophy of "peace, mutual respect, the culture of coexistence." Gülen is the foundation's honorary president. In many cases, charter school board members also serve as dialogue group leaders.

…lawmakers, researchers and parents are beginning to put the schools under the microscope for hiring practices — they import hundreds of teachers from Turkey each year — and for steps they take to keep their academic profile high.

The schools' unacknowledged ties to Gülen, they say, mock public schools' spirit of transparency.

My regular visitors are familiar with my on and off coverage of Fethullah Gulen and his movement. Others who have not read our previous commentaries and updates on this topic can check them out here, here, and here . I can sit and write volumes on Gulen’s history and his ‘real’ operations, but I am going to limit the length of this piece and provide you with a list of significant facts and background relevant to this particular post without going into other details: [Read more...]

Friends-Enemies-Both? Our Foreign Policy Riddle

The Three-Decade US-Mujahideen Partnership Still Going Strong

Muj1In the last few weeks I’ve been reading and talking about the latest developments in Central Asia and the Caucasus. I am planning to post a few updates on the status of the score board in this region (pipeline rivalries, military base ‘erection’ scores- and what-not). Meanwhile, as I am dealing with all this I keep ending up with riddle-like situations. And instead of trying to solve or get out of these riddles, I’m going to give up and instead share one of them with you, my blogosphere friends.

Our enemies' enemies are our friends. Many of our nation's enemies are the enemies of our enemies, so that makes them what? Friends? Enemies? It depends? Both? And what would all this make our ‘real’ foreign policy makers? Enemies? Friends? Both? What?

Seriously! Think about it.

By now we all know, or should know, about our government and mainstream media’s past almost romantic relationship with the Mujahideen, Taliban-al Qaeda, during the 80s. Back then, in the 80s, they were fighting the Soviets, they were the enemies of our enemies, thus, our beloved friends, our trusted, financed and backed allies. Here are a few excerpts from what I wrote and quoted on this topic a while back:

Now let’s go back and search U.S. press coverage of Afghanistan’s ‘Freedom Fighters’ during the 80s and try to find any coverage related to these U.S. backed and supported operations’ intersection with the global narcotics trade. Are there any? I’m afraid we know the answer to this question. Here is further coverage based on the report by FAIR:

The press coverage of this era was overwhelmingly positive, even glowing, with regard to the guerrillas’ conduct in Afghanistan. Their unsavory features were downplayed or omitted altogether…Virtually all papers favored some amount of U.S. military support; and there was near unanimous agreement that the guerrillas were "heroic," "courageous" and above all "freedom fighters."”

According to the L.A. Times (6/23/86): "The Afghan guerrillas have earned the admiration of the American people for their courageous struggle.... The rebels deserve unstinting American political support and, within the limits of prudence, military hardware."”

And here the axis of U.S. Government-U.S. Press- and the information spin or black-out:

Another problem was direct manipulation of reporting by the U.S. government, which was supporting the Mujahiddin guerrillas during both the Carter and Reagan administrations. (Indeed, we now know that U.S. aid to the Mujahiddin was secretly begun in July 1979, six months before the Soviets invaded--International Politics, 6/00.) This press manipulation began early in the conflict. In January 1980, the New York Times (1/26/80) reported that the State Department had "relaxed" its accuracy code for reporting information on Afghanistan. As a result, the Carter administration generated "accounts suggesting Soviet actions for which the administration itself has no solid foundation."”

During the 80s our ‘real’ foreign policymakers couldn’t care less about adjectives such as extremists, terrorists, fanatics, anti-west…They were the beloved enemies of our enemies, and we’d do anything to support and use them. And this wasn’t necessarily about we the people of the US or our benefits or our best interests. After all, in the end the American people were the ones to pay the price for those unholy alliances where we selected, trained and backed the evildoer Bin Laden, our enemies’ enemy, thus, our beloved friend:

Our enemies' enemies were our friends. Many of our nation's enemies were the enemies of our enemies back then, so that made them our beloved friends.

Muj2Now, you may say, ‘that was a long time ago, it had to do with the Cold War, and it is simply not fair to criticize and judge based on this particular example…’And, I’d say, okay. Let’s fast forward. Let’s look at what we did with these same groups, in the 90s, after the wall came down and the Soviet empire collapsed.

The problem is this: without the Cold War excuse our foreign policymakers had a real hard time justifying our joint operations and terrorism schemes in the resource-rich ex Soviet states with these same groups, so they made sure they kept these policies unwritten and unspoken, and considering their grip on the mainstream media, largely unreported. Now what would your response be if I were to say, on the record, and if required, under oath:

Between 1996 and 2002, we, the United States, planned, financed and helped execute every single major terrorist incident by Chechen rebels (and the Mujahideen) against Russia

Between 1996 and 2002, we, the United States, planned, financed and helped execute every single uprising and terrorism related scheme in Xinxiang (aka East Turkistan and Uyghurstan)

Between 1996 and 2002, we, the United States, planned and carried out at least two assassination schemes against pro Russia officials in Azerbaijan

Those of you who are truly familiar with our real history and foreign policy making past would yawn, and say, ‘but of course. That has been our modus operandi for many decades.’ Unfortunately, the great majority would either be shocked if open minded, or shake their head in disbelief and write it off as another ‘conspiracy theory;’ well, thanks to our mainstream media. [Read more...]

Weekly Round Up for Nov 6

We had an exciting and positive first week with our new website. I was expecting thousands of visitors for the first week, but was delighted to have tens of thousands of you visiting the site. I am very thankful to those of you who kindly contributed; this project will become reality with your support.

Please help us spread the word, invite your irate friends and associates to visit and join this site, and bring in your views, analyses and feedback in our comments section.

A few Interesting News Items

Crackdown on Terrorism in Xinjiang

CentralAsiaThere is an interesting news item on Xinjiang which was picked up by only a very few in the US media:

“Police in China's far west have launched a crackdown on terrorism and stepped up a hunt for suspects who took part in deadly ethnic riots there four months ago, the regional public security ministry said Tuesday.

Hundreds have already been arrested and nine people sentenced to death following the July 5 riots, which saw Uighurs (WEE'-gurs) attacking Han Chinese in the regional capital of Urumqi. Nearly 200 people were killed in those attacks and in the revenge killings of Uighurs by Han Chinese in the days that followed.

Uighurs are a Turkic Muslim ethnic group linguistically and culturally distinct from China's majority Han. The Uighurs see Xinjiang as their homeland and resent the millions of Han Chinese who have poured into the region in recent decades. A simmering separatist campaign has occasionally boiled over into violence in the past 20 years.

China says overseas Uighur separatists orchestrated the riots to worsen ethnic divisions and bolster their campaign for independence but the government has provided little evidence to back up its claim.”

The Chinese government doesn’t want to provide any evidence because right now they don’t want that kind of an international incident. However, anyone who knows about this conflict and the related developments would know that the overseas orchestrators are: number One – the United States - followed by Turkey and Pakistan’s ISI. Unfortunately, thanks to our media, mainstream and alternative alike, very few people in the US have ever heard of this ongoing saga.

EU to Kiss & Make Up with Tashkent

UzbekKillingsThis development reported by Asia Times is not that unrelated to the piece above.

"The worsening Afghan war has brought some good news for Uzbekistan. On Tuesday, the European Union announced it was lifting a four-year old arms embargo against Uzbekistan. The EU imposed wide-ranging sanctions in 2005 after Uzbek troops fired on civilians during an uprising in the city of Andizhan in Ferghana Valley, and Tashkent rejected calls by Western countries for an international inquiry into those killings. Tuesday's decision completes an incremental process stretched over the past year or so on the EU's part to kiss and make up with Tashkent. [Read more...]

Iran’s Elections & Selective Coverage

Continuing the Smell Test

I see the previous post I had on conducting a smell test on the latest intense coverage of Iran’s elections got quite a bit of traction, including some retorts from the ‘misinformed’ in a few places. First, let me remind you, I don’t disagree with the view of highly probable election fraud in this case. My main point in this was ‘the selective coverage’ of election fraud throughout the world and the typical riots and government attacks that tend to follow these incidents. Also, I have a real issue with the timing of this media focus. Why don’t we have similar coverage and discussion when identical, or in many cases worse, incidents take place elsewhere? Especially when it occurs in countries we consider allies and friends regardless of how dictatorial, corrupt, or atrocious.

I can provide tens if not hundreds of similar cases of election fraud followed by dictatorial repression of demonstrators/rioters who take a stand against such practices.

Here is an excerpt from the election fraud scandal and the following violence in Egypt as reported by Human Rights Watch in 2006:

    “Egyptian authorities should drop threats to dismiss two senior judges protesting election fraud and investigate the violence and fraud that plagued elections last year, Human Rights Watch said today.
    The organization also expressed grave concern about a police attack against peaceful demonstrators outside the Judges Club in the early hours of Monday morning. An eyewitness told Human Rights Watch that a large number of men, apparently plainclothes police, attacked around 40 persons who had been holding a round-the-clock vigil in support of the two judges threatened with dismissal. They beat 15 demonstrators and Judge Mahmud `Abd al-Latif Hamza, who came out from the club.”

The 2003 presidential election results in Azerbaijan dubiously declared Ilham Aliyev the president. Of course this was cheered by many in Western policy circles since they viewed Ilhan Aliyev ‘critical’ to the stability of billions of dollars of investments in Azerbaijan’s energy sector. This is an excerpt from another report:

    “International and domestic monitors reported widespread irregularities in the Oct. 15 election. The government clearly stole the election, and then brutally beat hundreds of people who poured out in the streets in protest. The day after the election, I watched from the roof of a hotel in Baku as thousands of riot police beat protesters unconscious. Afterward the riot police raised their shields to the sky and turned their batons into drumsticks, celebrating the victory of intimidation.

    Now hundreds have been arrested, while Isa Gambar, the opposition leader, is effectively under house arrest and activists from his Musavat party are being beaten and detained all over the country. Everyone I speak to is scared.”

And here is a further damning quote from Peter Bouckart:

    “More astonishing, however, were the public assessments of the election made by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the Council of Europe. Their election-monitoring missions in Azerbaijan took due note of the violence and election irregularities, but their overall appraisals were alarmingly upbeat.”

Speaking of post election protests and the recent ‘bloody’ pictures in post election Iran that have been circulating, here are some that didn’t make it into our social awareness, since it involved another ally country, thus was avoided by our press:

Click here to watch a protest against election fraud in Agri, Turkey.

And where was the same level of ‘attention’ and coverage in cases like this one reported by Craig Murray, where the dictator government of Uzbekistan (supported by us), whom Murray rightfully calls a ‘fascist regime,’ was (and probably still is) engaged in atrocious human right abuses. Yes, we certainly were closely courting a dictator regime where the dissenters were/are boiled alive.

    “The police repeatedly tortured prisoners, State Department officials wrote, noting that the most common techniques were "beating, often with blunt weapons, and asphyxiation with a gas mask." Separately, international human rights groups had reported that torture in Uzbek jails included boiling of body parts, using electroshock on genitals and plucking off fingernails and toenails with pliers. Two prisoners were boiled to death, the groups reported. The February 2001 State Department report stated bluntly: "Uzbekistan is an authoritarian state with limited civil rights."”

And here is how elections are held in Uzbekistan:

    “The Communist Party simply renamed itself the Democratic Party of Uzbekistan, and, after getting rid of

Muhammad Salih, his only rival for power by exiling him, engaging in massive election fraud, and banning his Erk (Freedom) party, Karimov, president of the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic and a Politboro member, seized the reins of power and refused to let go. A completely controlled "referendum," in 1995, led to an extension of his term in office, and in January, 2002, a similar farce awarded him 92 percent of vote, with nominal opposition. Political parties that aim to "change the established order" are banned, including the "Birlik" Popular Unity

    movement, which advocates democracy, religious tolerance, and economic liberty, as well as Islamist groups which the Karimov regime blames for the violence.”

And finally, for a bit of deja vu, remember Black Friday of 1978 in Iran? On September 8, 1978, a huge demonstration against the Shah’s regime was staged in Tehran. Thousands of students and progressive activists took part in this demonstration to peacefully express their dissent against the dictator monarch, Shah Pahlavi. The Shah’s military responded with extreme violent force, and even resorted to using tanks and helicopter gunships to respond. While the Shah Regime and Western media put the number of those massacred at around 80 or so, mainly students, other reports put that number in the range of thousands.

Again, I am inviting you all to join me for a ‘collective smelling test.’ I truly appreciated and enjoyed your informed comments and perspectives posted here. As for those people who chose to attack my previous points 'elsewhere': it is okay, unlike the regimes I mentioned above I do indeed welcome dissent. However, please do it with facts and logic, not as some loose lipped incoherent rant. Go buy a map, learn where Iran is located, then read a bit of history (not the ones written by the Neocons, that is), put aside what you are being fed by the propaganda machine and PR spin, take some vitamins and minerals to fortify your mental clarity, check with your grandparents and receive a tip or two on the value of giving respect in order to receive it in return, then come back and put forth your counterarguments and disagreements; I’ll be all ears.