*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):
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:
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:
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:
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:
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