The New Great Game Round-Up: February 16, 2014

Georgia Wants NATO Membership & More War, ETIM Threatens 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.

Considering all the terrorism fear-mongering in the run-up to the Sochi Olympics, the last few days in Russia’s North Caucasus have been remarkably uneventful. Besides the usual anti-terror operation in Dagestan, resulting in three dead insurgents, and Tengiz Guketlov, terrorist leader from Kabardino-Balkaria, claiming responsibility for the six killings in the Stavropol region last month, there is not much to report. Terror mastermind Prince Bandar bin Sultan is apparently not going to act on his threats because he is busy supplying the al-Qaeda mercenaries in Syria with more anti-aircraft missiles and his go-to guy in the North Caucasus, Doku Umarov, appears to be dead. Moreover, Russia’s “ring of steel” is quite effective. But not everybody is happy with the Russian security operation:

U.S. feeling shut out of Russian security operation at Sochi

U.S. intelligence officials are frustrated that the Russian government is withholding information about threats to Olympic venues coming from inside Russia, several lawmakers said during talk shows Sunday.

“We aren’t getting the kind of cooperation that we’d like from the Russians in terms of their internal threats,” Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), a member of the House Intelligence Committee, said in an appearance on “Fox News Sunday.”

Georgia Wants NATO Membership, More War

The Russians are probably wondering why the Americans ask for more information about Russia’s internal threats, despite being very well informed regarding these threats. In light of the intensifying U.S.-Russia Cold War, Moscow’s reluctance to share information is hardly surprising. After all, Washington is currently trying to install a puppet regime in Ukraine and expediting Georgia’s integration into NATO:

U.S. to finance Georgia’s inclusion into NATO Response Force

Georgia’s inclusion into the NATO Response Force (NRF) will be financed by the United States, Georgian Defence Minister Irakli Alasania said on Feb. 12 at a joint press conference with the chairman of the NATO Military Committee, General Knud Bartels.

It has already been decided that Georgia will become a part of NRF starting from 2015 and the sponsor state has also been selected which will be the United States, the minister said.

American taxpayers will be delighted to hear the good news. Not only is their money being used to expand a redundant military alliance but they can also look forward to financing more military spending in the future. The purpose of the NATO Response Force (NRF) is to deploy air, naval and infantry ground forces anywhere in the world most likely under the guise of fighting “al-Qaeda” or some other pseudo-gang. NATO’s last mission against al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, which succeeded only in ramping up the opium production, offers a prime example of what this will look like. In order to get some of the military equipment out of Afghanistan after Operation Enduring Freedom’s “success”, the U.S.-led military alliance counts on Georgia’s assistance as well:

NATO to discuss use of Georgian territory for Afghanistan withdrawal

A delegation of the NATO Military Committee led by Knud Bartels and Georgia’s top officials will discuss the use of Georgia’s transit corridor by the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan at a meeting in Tbilisi on February 12.

Tbilisi is willing to do almost anything for its NATO membership and wants some kind of reward at the next NATO summit in Wales in early September. After Davit Usupashvili, Georgia’s parliament speaker, had already attracted attention earlier this year by demanding a Membership Action Plan (MAP), Defense Minister Irakli Alasania now also raised the issue emphasizing that it does not matter whether it will be a MAP or some “new instrument for closer integration with NATO.” Tbilisi expects a lot of the accession to the military alliance. Government officials hope that this would signal strength to Georgia’s breakaway territories and possibly even convince Abkhazia to reconsider its status. However, nobody in Georgia should build up false hopes. Relations with Abkhazia will not improve anytime soon, especially if the Abkhazians noticed what Nino Burjanadze recently had to say about the plans of U.S. puppet Mikheil Saakashvili in April 2008, a few months before he attacked South Ossetia at the behest of Washington:

Burjanadze claims Saakashvili planned to attack Abkhazia in 2008

A former speaker of parliament in Georgia claims that the government of then President Mikheil Saakashvili planned to attack the breakaway region Abkhazia in 2008.

Nino Burjanadze, who was one of the leaders of the Rose Revolution in 2003 and now leads the opposition party Democratic Movement, made the claim during a talk show on Imedi TV Wednesday evening.

She said government officials during Saakashvili’s government were planning to invade Sukhumi, a city in Abkhazia, in the spring of 2008. 

EU, Azerbaijan Argue About NGOs

So the Georgian government will not find many friends in Abkhazia but this is not a priority anyway. Who needs friends in Abkhazia with “friends” in Washington, Brussels and Baku?! Georgian President Margvelashvili just visited the Azerbaijani capital, where he met with Ilham Aliyev to give a new impetus to the strategic Azerbaijani-Georgian partnership. The two leaders discussed among others plans for energy diversification and Aliyev cited the BTC and BTE pipelines as perfect examples of the good relationship between the two sides. Tbilisi is by far not the only player counting on Azerbaijan as a major energy supplier. Washington and Brussels need the country in the South Caucasus in order to challenge Russia’s supremacy in the European energy market. Since plans to transport Turkmen gas via Azerbaijan to Europe are not feasible, Iraqi natural gas is now eyed as an alternative:

Azerbaijan Offers Iraq Gas-Pipeline Route To Europe

Azerbaijan’s foreign minister has said during a visit to Baghdad that his country is open to shipping Iraqi natural gas to Europe.

Elmar Mammadyarov said on February 10 that Iraqi authorities had already expressed an interest in shipping gas to Europe via Azerbaijan’s pipeline network.


For Iraqi gas to reach Azerbaijan’s pipeline network, Turkish participation is needed and Turkish officials said late last year they were interested in including Iraq in the construction of the Trans-Anatolian Gas Pipeline (TANAP).

In the meantime, the European Union is doing its best to impede the construction of Gazprom’s South Stream pipeline. Although the EU and Azerbaijan work hand in glove in this regard, Brussels finds fault with the Aliyev regime. Inspired by Russia’s foreign agent law, there have been some changes in Azerbaijan’s legislation regarding NGOs. For example, foreigners who want to establish a non-governmental organization in Azerbaijan are now required to appoint an Azerbaijani citizen as deputy chairman. This does not go down well with George Soros and the EU:

EU concern over Azerbaijan NGO amendments

The EU is concerned about changes to the laws governing non-governmental organisations in Azerbaijan.

High Representative for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton, and Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy Commissioner Stefan Fule said in a February 12 statement that they “are concerned by recent amendments to NGO legislation in Azerbaijan restricting the environment for an independent and critical civil society, especially in the field of human rights and democracy.”

Baku is not impressed with the criticism coming from Brussels and denounced the political pressure. Aliyev knows very well that all these foreign-funded NGOs, which highlight the horrific human rights situation and pervasive corruption in the country, are used to put him under pressure and could even instigate a color revolution if the United States deems regime change necessary. But he will be careful not to overplay his hand and his masters in Washington will not immediately replace an otherwise very reliable puppet because of this misconduct. After all, the Aliyev regime helped to establish Azerbaijan as a major oil and gas supplier and as a regional base for jihadi operations. Speaking of which, five more Azerbaijani terrorists were killed in Syria this week. While some jihadi mercenaries from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) know at least that they are working for the House of Saud, other ISIS fighters have absolutely no clue whose interests they are serving [emphasis mine]:

New videos of Azerbaijanis fighting in Syria – VİDEO

APA has obtained the videos from the websites owned by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant armed group. The video shows Azerbaijani fighters seizing oil mine controlled by Free Syrian Army. The operations carried out by Iraq Sham State armed group are led by Azerbaijani introduced as Khattab Al Azeri.

Khattab Al Azeri accuses those fighting under Free Syrian Army of serving the US and Saudi Arabia.


“They have gone the wrong way, obeyed to the US and Saudi Arabia. There is no difference between Saudi King and Bashar al-Assad. Maybe Bashar al-Assad is even better than Saudi King,” he says.

ETIM Threatens Kyrgyzstan

With reports about the activities of foreign terrorists in Syria increasing steadily, it is doubtful whether there are any Syrians left among the “Syrian rebels”, which consist, for example, of several jihadists from Central Asia. The ‘stans are trying to contain the problem, so far to no avail. Although the Kyrgyz authorities busted a few terrorist recruiters earlier this year, Bishkek is still concerned about the situation and demonstrated this at the beginning of this week by acknowledging for the first time the deaths of Kyrgyz citizens in Syria:

Kyrgyz deaths in Syria raise concern about extremists’ recruiting tactics 

With the confirmation of five Kyrgyz dying in Syria, Bishkek calls for greater effort to keep youth from believing the terrorists’ false message of conflict being a jihadi cause.

The Kyrgyz State Committee for National Security (GKNB) is sounding a call for more-vigorous efforts to keep youth out of the grip of extremists in light of the on-going conflict in Syria.

The critical socioeconomic conditions in Kyrgyzstan provide a perfect breeding ground for terrorist recruitment and organizations like Hizb ut-Tahrir exploit this. According to recent reports, Hizb ut-Tharir is currently very active in Issyk-Kul province, which borders Xinjiang and made headlines a few weeks ago, when a group of Uyghur intruders created some chaos in the province. Washington’s favorite anti-Chinese terrorist group has now addressed the incident and threatened to retaliate:

Kyrgyzstan Launches Probe Into Alleged Threat By Uyghur Separatists

Kyrgyz authorities have launched an investigation into a death threat allegedly sent by Uyghur separatists in China’s northwestern province of Xinjiang.

The message — written in Russian and English — said that Kyrgyz border guards would be attacked soon for the killing of 11 Uyghurs earlier this year.
The message was signed with an acronym (ETIM) for the separatist East Turkestan Islamic Movement.

Since “East Turkestan’s liberation” is not making any progress and Kyrgyzstan offers an easier target, the ETIM might consider conducting more operations in Central Asia. The last attacks in Xinjiang all took place in Aksu prefecture, which borders Kyrgyzstan’s Issyk-Kul province, and did not end well for the Uyghur terrorists. The same is true of the latest terrorist attack this week: 

11 terrorists dead in Xinjiang attack

Eight terrorists were killed by police and three others by their own suicide devices during a terrorist attack Friday afternoon in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, police said.

Two civilians and two police officers were injured in the attack in Wushi county of Aksu Prefecture. One suspect was captured, police said.

The terrorists, riding motorbikes and cars, attacked a team of police on patrol at around 4 p.m.

While there is no end in sight to the destabilization campaign in China’s far west, Beijing is convinced that the new anti-terror strategy will be successful in the long term and eventually make it more difficult for the United States and its allies to inflame tensions in Xinjiang:

China to spend extra $10 billion in restive Xinjiang this year 

The Chinese government will pump 61.66 billion yuan ($10.17 billion) in extra funds into the restive far western region of Xinjiang this year to improve housing and employment, state media said on Wednesday.

# # # #

 

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

FB Like

Share This

This site depends….

This site depends exclusively on readers’ support. Please help us continue by SUBSCRIBING, and by ordering our EXCLUSIVE BFP DVDs.

Comments

  1. The jihadists recruited in Azerbaijan and elsewhere would not go if their stipend was not generous. Why no
    sanctions against those financing the jihadists?

Speak Your Mind