*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 waiting for Congress approval and pondering if he could win another Nobel Peace Prize by killing more people with Tomahawk cruise missiles instead of drones (maybe that is the promised change), it is important to highlight the close connection between the conflict in Syria and developments in the Caucasus region.
Saudi intelligence chief Prince Bandar bin Sultan, aka Bandar Bush, travelled recently to Moscow where he met among others Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Saudi spymaster wanted to persuade the Kremlin with favorable oil and arms deals as well as other "incentives" to stop supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad [emphasis mine]:
Bandar told Putin, “There are many common values and goals that bring us together, most notably the fight against terrorism and extremism all over the world. Russia, the US, the EU and the Saudis agree on promoting and consolidating international peace and security. The terrorist threat is growing in light of the phenomena spawned by the Arab Spring. We have lost some regimes. And what we got in return were terrorist experiences, as evidenced by the experience of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and the extremist groups in Libya. ... As an example, I can give you a guarantee to protect the Winter Olympics in the city of Sochi on the Black Sea next year. The Chechen groups that threaten the security of the games are controlled by us, and they will not move in the Syrian territory’s direction without coordinating with us. These groups do not scare us. We use them in the face of the Syrian regime but they will have no role or influence in Syria’s political future.”
Bandar Bush, Doku Umarov & the Sochi Olympics
Doku Umarov and his minions are controlled by Saudi Arabia?! This is common knowledge in Moscow and the Russian government is aware of the real players behind the threat of Chechen terrorism. So Putin was not surprised at all by Bandar's statement and rejected his proposal [emphasis mine]:
Putin thanked King Abdullah for his greetings and Bandar for his exposition, but then he said to Bandar, “We know that you have supported the Chechen terrorist groups for a decade. And that support, which you have frankly talked about just now, is completely incompatible with the common objectives of fighting global terrorism that you mentioned. We are interested in developing friendly relations according to clear and strong principles.”
Bandar Bush and the House of Saud have quite a different understanding of fighting terrorism. According to Saudi definition only the Qatari-backed Muslim Brotherhood and groups which are not on Riyadh's payroll qualify as terrorists. As you can imagine, this reduces the number of terrorists significantly.
The head of the Saudi Intelligence Agency was not able to change Moscow's position on Syria and the two sides agreed to continue talks on condition of keeping the meeting secret. However, this was before the Russians leaked the whole story to the press. Afterwards, the situation in Syria escalated, as predicted by Bandar Bush, and the Kremlin is now left without a Saudi guarantee for terror-free 2014 Winter Olympics. It is not hard to guess what Bandar's Wahhabi gangs are doing in the meantime:
A top security official involved in fighting Islamist militants in Russia's North Caucasus republic of Ingushetia was shot dead Tuesday, local authorities said.
Ingushetia’s leader Yunus-Bek Yevkurov said the attack was related to Kotiyev’s “successful” crackdown on Islamist militants in the republic.
Russian security services manage to take large numbers of militants off the streets but there seems to be an endless supply:
157 militants were killed and 206 detained in 1,800 operations in the North Caucasus in January-July 2013, RIA Novosti cites Sergey Chenchik, Chief of the Main Directorate of the Interior Ministry in the North Caucasian Federal District.
Although foreign jihadis prefer to help NATO, Israel and the remaining GCC countries (Qatar being sidelined after the failed Muslim Brotherhood experiment) in their war against the Syrian government, some terrorists from neighboring countries decide to fight in Russia's North Caucasus:
Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) said on August 28 that Shukuran Mamedov was found guilty of participation in the activities of illegal armed groups in Russia's North Caucasus and illegal border-crossing.
The investigators also say Mamedov tried to organize ways to supply the Islamic insurgency in Russia's North Caucasus with equipment, arms, ammunition, and financial support via Al-Qaeda's network.
Bandar should consider recruiting more Georgians in preparation for next year's Olympic Winter Games in Sochi. This would save the House of Saud some transportation expenses.
Wahhabi Schools in Tajikistan?!
Sochi will also host the next meeting of the CSTO Collective Security Council focusing on the military and political situation in Central Asia and threats emerging from Afghanistan. Nikolay Bordyuzha, the secretary general of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, met with Tajikistan's President Rahmon in Dushanbe this week to discuss strengthening the Tajik-Afghan border:
"The CSTO is preparing a proposal for rendering aid in strengthening the Tajikistan-Afghanistan border to minimize the consequences of the exit of international forces from Afghanistan in 2014," Bordyuzha said. "We need to be ready for the emergence of any situation on the Tajikistan-Afghanistan border... The number of armed clashes [on the border] has increased by more than half."
Bordyuzha was not the only noticeable guest of Rahmon in the last few days. The Tajik head of state also received a delegation from the medieval Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the two sides agreed to expand their cooperation:
Satisfaction was expressed due to currently implementing seven projects totaling $60 million through the Saudi Fund for Development by the Government of Saudi Arabia.
The House of Saud is especially interested in sponsoring schools in Tajikistan:
So the Saudis join their old buddies from the CIA in promoting education in Central Asia. One might wonder why our favorite Wahhabism-spreading petro-monarchy is funding schools instead of mosques but it is not hard to figure that out. Tajikistan's Islamization is already conspicuous and there are more than enough mosques in the country:
The Head of Khatlan Province, Ghaybulla Afzal, during his speech at the personal reception of the population in Khavaling District on Saturday, said that 53 mosques for 48 thousand populations is overkill.
If the House of Saud needs help with this new school project, close associate and CIA darling Fethullah Gülen will certainly offer his expertise. Gülen's relationship with the Saudis was discussed in a previous round-up:
"Several bin Laden family members, who participated in the Gladio B operations, worked directly with Saudi Arabia's U.S. embassy and with another familiar face, Fethullah Gülen. The bin Ladens regularly attended official openings of mosques financed supposedly by Saudis and Imam Gülen at the direction of the United States and NATO. As previously mentioned, the Islamization of Central Asia and the Caucasus region is a key part of the Pentagon's Gladio B operations."
Beware of the IMU
Central Asia's Islamization is making progress as required and terrorist groups in the region face no difficulties in recruiting new members. Afghanistan serves as safe haven for the groups and training camps are set up in Waziristan, the infamous mountainous region along the Afghan-Pakistani border:
The suspects, whom authorities did not name, allegedly trained at a terrorist camp in Waziristan. Afghan authorities accuse them of committing terrorist attacks in Paktika, Paktia and Khost provinces, Tajik officials told AsiaPlus.tj.
One of the most notable terrorist groups present in this area is the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU). In a new official statement the IMU emphasized its commitment to fighting the Pakistani government and promoted battles alongside the Taliban in Afghanistan's Badakshan Province which coincidentally also plays a central role in Washington's destabilization plans. Thousands of IMU militants are using North Waziristan as their "main hub":
Central Asian militants under the banner of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) are massing in North Waziristan, posing a serious threat to peace in the Pakistani-Afghan region, security analysts say.
According to Peshawar-based senior security analyst, Shamim Shahid, militants from many different Central Asian states are part of the movement:
"[There are] Uzbeks, Tajiks, Turkmen and Kyrgyz … even Uighur militants from [Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, China]," he said, estimating that as many as 3,000 to 4,000 Central Asian militants operate in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Death & Silence in Xinjiang
So even Uyghur militants from China find shelter in North Waziristan. Considering Beijing's hard-line approach in dealing with terrorist activities in Xinjiang, it is hardly surprising that Uyghurs are training abroad:
"We conducted an anti-terror operation on August 20th, successfully and completely destroying the terrorists," Yilkiqi township police chief Batur Osman told RFA's Uyghur Service.
With Chinese media silent, CIA's Radio Free Asia, known for its psychological warfare, was for a few days the only media outlet reporting the shootout until a Chinese newspaper picked up on the story:
A minor Chinese newspaper has for the first time reported on a violent confrontation last week between security forces and "terrorists" in Xinjiang, in which at least 22 people were killed, according to exile source.
The Kashgar Daily reported on Wednesday on a memorial service earlier this week for Yan Xiaofei, a 32-two year old police officer who died during a security forces raid on a “gang of terrorists” in a building in Yecheng county, Kashgar prefecture, which borders on Afghanistan and Pakistan.
In 2012 a similar incident took place in Yecheng which is close to the porous border with Pakistan and Afghanistan's Badakshan Province. Beijing reacted immediately to this latest attack by establishing a new anti-terrorism team:
A national anti-terrorism team has been established to lead an intensified campaign to fight surging terrorism in China, the team announced at its first conference on Tuesday in Beijing.
Guo Shengkun, minister of public security and leader of the team, said the team will fully mobilize governmental resources and take every effort to fight against terrorism before attacks happen to avoid the risk of social damage, according to a statement on the ministry's official website.
The Global Times report touched upon the shootout in Yecheng but did not provide any more details referring to silence from government side. Western media exploit the lack of coverage in China and start to intensify their propaganda campaign against the Chinese government:
Much of the violence goes unreported in the Chinese news media, but the cases that are publicized are invariably described as “terror attacks” carried out by “separatists,” some of whom, the government says, have been trained abroad. Analysts have cast doubt on such assertions, noting that the suspects are often armed with rudimentary weapons like knives.
As documented above, the separatists are indeed trained abroad and there is a very transparent plan for the destabilization of Xinjiang and creation of East Turkestan. The supposedly unimpeded presence of Uyghur militants on Pakistani territory has long been a contentious point between Beijing and Islamabad but this issue seems to be resolved:
And Pakistan also promised “continuous, active collaboration with and assistance to China in combating terrorist forces including the ETIM," referring to the Eastern Turkestan Islamic Movement, the group China accuses of carrying out an Islamist, separatist agenda in Xinjiang.
Every bit as dangerous as terrorist organizations like the ETIM are the U.S.-funded NGOs posing as "human rights organizations". The Chinese and Russian governments will have to take stronger measures against American fifth columns before they are powerless to do so, as recently highlighted by former United States Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, Dr. Paul Craig Roberts:
"Russia and China have been extremely careless in their dealings with the United States. Essentially, the Russian political opposition is financed by Washington. Even the Chinese government is being undermined. When a US corporation opens a company in China, it creates a Chinese board on which are put relatives of the local political authorities. These boards create a conduit for payments that influence the decisions and loyalties of local and regional party members. The US has penetrated Chinese universities and intellectual attitudes. The Rockefeller University is active in China as is Rockefeller philanthropy. Dissenting voices are being created that are arrayed against the Chinese government. Demands for “liberalization” can resurrect regional and ethnic differences and undermine the cohesiveness of the national government."
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