Representatives from all of the secret agencies of the Stans, except for Turkmenistan, have come together in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan to identify a common threat in Central Asia, emanating from a non-existent terrorist underground (SEE: Secret services say about the presence in Central Asia, domestic extremist underground). This consensus on a common invisible enemy sets the stage for the coming creation of a Central Asian rapid reaction force (which is to be used primarily for crushing political dissent), without defining the author of that budding force. Will it be Western-oriented or Russian in composition, or will there be two competing forces?
The sudden appearance of “Islamist terrorists” in Kazakhstan seems like a sure sign of outside intervention, but is it really? It is doubtful that many of the terrorist attacks which have happened in the past and have been blamed on shadowy, previously unheard of terrorist outfits, have really been the work of religious extremists. The exceptionally high military skills which have been exhibited in most of these rare guerilla attacks (Fedayeen) is proof that most of the terrorist attacks have been the work of military professionals. There is presently no way to know for certain whether the terrorism in Kazakhstan and elsewhere in Central Asia has been by real militants, or has been the work of intelligence agencies or military contractors, (mercenaries), or possibly commando actions by Special Forces soldiers.
Whoever bombed the railroad bridge in Uzbekistan recently, destroying the concrete bridge supports, were clearly professionals, just like those demolition teams who disabled Russian hydroelectric dams last year. It would be accurate to think of Central Asia as a secret battlefield, where attacks and counterattacks have been taking place beyond the eyes and ears of civilization for several years. It is only now, since our attention has been diverted to the former Soviet empire that observers have started to take notice of the secret shenanigans.
When it comes to news reports out of the CIS countries, or any of the closed societies of Asia or Africa(where the legitimate media does not go), we can never be sure if any of them are true. Who can be sure that reported terrorist attacks even happen at all?
If a believable world-wide terrorist organization can be created practically out of thin air, then how many real terrorists does it really take to create a popular perception of a growing terrorist menace? With its “al-Qaeda” project, the CIA has perfected its mastery of a process for creating pseudo-terrorists and weaving terrorist legends around them. Since the official start of the terror war, we have demonstrated our mastery of this black art to the world. Even though our leaders and the national media like to claim that we are locked in a deadly terrorist war with this Islamist organization, secret services in the know understand that “al-Qaeda” is merely a phantom outfit, existing only on paper, to be called forth whenever US inroads are needed anywhere in the world.
Every functioning spy agency knows by now that a few terrorist legends have been blended together to create the impression of a widespread terrorist internationale, to serve America’s secret plans. The only real connection between “al-CIA-da”-linked terrorist groups anywhere is the common denominator of the CIA hand, or the CIA-created al Qaeda brand-name. The CIA has turned mass-murder into an art form, creating a prototype of roving gangs of militants, mercenaries, or hired criminal thugs, who provide cover stories for any missions to terrorize the local populations or to attack designated targets. Anyone who has been paying attention would have learned of our skills and adapted them towards their own ends by now, simply by plugging into the lively “al-Qaeda” mythology for themselves.
Which government is behind the alleged “Islamists” of Central Asia–American, or copycat competitors? Did Kazakh President Nazarbayev manufacture his own “Islamists,” in order to justify a wave of political repression, just as Bakiyev allegedly raised the specter of Mullah Abdullo and the IMU to provide cover for ethnic rioting that was unleashed in the Osh region in southern Kyrgyzstan? Did Uzbek President Islam Karimov claim that unseen “terrorists” blew that railroad bridge to cover his feud with Tajikistan? Or, were all of these faceless terrorists (some of them operating under the name of unheard of militant outfits) real, working for meddling outside powers? That is the nature of a covert war environment—nobody knows what to believe, so everybody is suspect. Such an environment is created with the intention of fostering suspicious paranoia among real resistance forces. It is part of the divide and conquer strategy.
This is what is happening all over Central Asia. In Uzbekistan, phantom “terrorists” have allegedly blown-up a railroad bridge, not on the main rail line being used to supply NATO, but on a side route which only services Tajikistan. This rail blockage comes after months of sporadic service, because of an ongoing railroad war of attrition with Uzbek President Karimov, over the Rogun Dam issue. In Tajikistan itself recently, the government has revived the memory of Mullah Abdullo and bands of phantom Islamists, to cover up government repression of religious dissidents. If a group ever existed anywhere, it remains forever useful to deceitful individuals who want to invoke the image of killer Islamists to cover their own tracks.
The term “militant Islamist” describes a particular, rare type of individual, one who follows a deviant version of Islam, and is highly trained in the military arts. The people who are usually blamed for isolated terrorist attacks have been religious students, who have somehow become radicalized and motivated to take-up arms, allegedly in defense of their faith. It takes outside intervention to train and arm these new militants, after they have gone through religious indoctrination. Somebody has to provide the military hardware they rely on. Every terrorist group has such backers or sponsors. Identifying the state terrorist backer is even more difficult than identifying secret terrorists.
The struggle to dominate Eurasia has evolved past the original Cold War scenario, producing a new form of warfare. World War III has been reduced to a media war, with the East/West coalitions striving in the shadows to influence popular perceptions and thereby alter reality. War reporting is a thing of the past, having been replaced by national “news,” which is usually delivered weeks, after the events have passed.
In a psywar, it is often impossible to tell which side is benefiting from the violence, or which side is responsible for it. It is sometimes even harder to know whether the event is intentional, or simply coincidence. It is sometimes possible after the event has passed to understand which side has gained advantages from the violent terrorist incident, with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight. This is why hard analysis of the many ongoing international confrontations has us all looking backwards, in order to anticipate what the future may hold (perhaps this explains the prevailing paranoia in the conspiracy research community). In Central Asia we see traces left behind from many, widely dispersed terrorist events, forming an evidence trail that unlocks secret events from the past, giving us insight into the forces that will be destabilizing the CIS countries in the future.
All the players in the Central Asian psywar have adapted their games to the new realities. Everyone is now singing the same tune, expressing the same fear of future “Islamists” and narco-terrorists who might be migrating outward from Afghanistan after 2014. Both East and West claim to offer protection and order in the face of this common terrorist threat. There is an unspoken consensus on the true nature of these Islamist terrorists and an understanding that the real terrorist threat comes from those who protect the narco-terrorists and their deadly products. The real terrorists are those government forces which have banded together in secret to manufacture “radical Islam” and to push it onto unsuspecting Muslim populations.
The beliefs promoted by every radical Islamist outfit are the same—someone has insulted God and must die—it then falls to the true believer to become a self-appointed executioner for God. It is the Islamists of tomorrow, who represent the real danger which Central Asian governments prepare for today. Militant groups, led by such individuals are the only real military threat that could possibly endanger Central Asian governments in the near future.
Both East and West are now selling military solutions to meet future CIS needs. The US is relying on its “Partnership for Peace” relationships to gain an inside track to sell its proposed secret military solution. So far, this approach has paid-off with Western inroads made in border control, drug control and counter-terrorism programs in all of the Stans. It remains to be seen whether US diplomats can turn this into actual partnerships with separate governments. That decision will depend upon the American aid program offered and the level of confidence in American security.
Russia is has been taking a different approach to the anticipated security problems of the region, according to the Russian press. They are developing a strategy and war-gaming on it, to deal with an unspecific type of threat which is somewhere between militant Islamists and any “Arab spring” type of movement which might arise in the immediate future. The most obvious problem that is developing with both Eastern and Western strategies, is that all of the solutions are being developed piecemeal, out of separate components, based on separate treaties and security organizations that often don’t match-up. It is making it difficult to synchronize commitments already made by the separate states with developing plans to enhance security. Some governments belong to both East and West security organizations, meaning that they might belong to the same drug control regime, but be on different sides of the counter-terrorism issue.
Russian security solutions are being practiced with individual governments in the region, to develop a common concept of fighting future Islamist terror and popular uprisings. Kazakhstan participated in September’s Center-2011 Caspian exercises. Tajikistan has been named in next year’s Peace Mission-2012 exercise, which has been reportedly focused on the same missions in Tajikistan’s mountainous terrain.
Sept. 9-26, the Russian army, joined by Kazakhstan,Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, deployed 12,000 troops in a huge combined military exercise code-named Center-2011 which reportedly simulated an Iranian attack on Caspian oil fields.
The Center-2011 Caspian war games were very significant because of the specific missions which were reported by the Russian press to have been practiced there. One practice mission was securing an undefined Caspian Sea oil terminal from a military assault by approximately 70 aircraft from an unnamed air force, coming from the south. The games reportedly involved defending Kazakhstan’s Caspian Mangustanskoy field being developed by Exxon Mobil in the northern Caspian. The map released to the press, which had been used in the exercise, looked remarkably like the Turkmen Cheleken Contract Area just south of there,Turkmenistan’s Caspian cash cow.
In addition to the similarity of the two sites, the size of the Turkmen Air Force and the 70 operational fighter aircraft reported in the Center-2011 story are nearly the same. Could Russia and Kazakhstan have actually been practicing taking control of the Cheleken facility, but reported to the Russian press the Kazakh scenario?
The following report appeared in Eurasia.org on Nov. 22, Would Russia Go To War Over The Trans-Caspian Pipeline? Did this reporter’s speculation strike a nerve in Turkmenistan? Putin’s Russia has been very assertive since the Georgian war demonstrated Russia’s resolve to hold on to its special possessions in this vital region. The conflict that has been brewing with Turkmenistan may dwarf the Georgian actions. Disagreements with the Turkmen government have precipitated a media war, with Berdymukhamedov’s stubborn rejection of anything associated with Russia looking like a mutiny, a rebellion against Putin’s dream of Eurasian alliance.
The final straw for Russia may have been Berdymukhamedov’s open promises to sign-on to the European trans-Caspian pipeline projects, which would have cost Gazprom and Russia enormous losses of gas profits. This was unacceptable. The Turkmen President had to be made to understand exactly what he stood to lose by threatening Russia’s economic lifeline.
The day after the Caspian war story ran, Turkmen President Berdymukhamedov was in China, where he signed 14 agreements, among them, an agreement to double Turkmenestan’s pipeline exports to China (SEE: Turkmen in Gas Accord With China ).
He also signed 13 more bilateral agreements with Hu Jintao on securing loans for oil and gas equipment, collaborating on internal affairs, police training, anti-terrorism etc. The full range of the agreements is not yet known, but police and anti-terrorist training for Turkmenistan had already been contracted from the US and NATO. It is unknown what effect the Chinese agreement will have upon such commitments already made to either NATO or Russia.
This new China deal effectively sealed the fate of both European dream projects, Nabucco and the trans-Caspian project, in addition to negating a resumption of high Russian export levels. Turkmenistan could no longer promise such high production levels, no matter what they had previously claimed. In reality, Turkmenistan has not yet managed to produce meet the halfway point in the projected 32 billion cubic meters a year required to fill that first pipeline. It may take an extended development period to consistently produce enough Turkmen gas for a second Chinese pipeline. There will be no available Turkmen gas to send to Europe, despite the rosy predictions made by the government and their British advisers (SEE: Turkmenistan: Ashgabat Energy-Reserve Controversy Continues to Flare).
President Berdymukhamedov recently stated that the U.S. “has been and remains one of the strategic vectors of its foreign policy (SEE: Turkmenistan Hosts Meeting To Develop Action Plan For Implementing UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy; US and Turkmenistan to continue combating illegal narcotics). It is not often mentioned in the Western media, but the US has also been using the airport in Ashgabat for refueling aircraft, as well as the airport town of Mary and at least one other airport in the country, even though the northern distribution network land routes bypass Turkmenistan.
From all available evidence, it is reasonable to conclude that there will be no Turkmen participation in anything Russia has planned. The same cannot be said of Tajikistan, where the 201st motorized division of the Russian Army maintains its only base in the region, overriding any smaller issues like the recent Russian pilot arrest. The Tajik media has reported that Tajikistan has signed-on to next year’s SCO war games with the 201st, to develop a rapid reaction force.
This new military exercise in Central Asia shows that Russian forces are honing their new Rapid Reaction Force, to be operational by the time of the American Afghan withdrawal in 2014. The coming Peace Mission-2012 represents the natural progression of the training acquired in the Center-2011 Caspian war game exercise, which was conducted in September. We can expect to see more of these war games in the future, as Russian forces develop the concept of a quick reaction battalion, to intercept narco-terrorists, or to free villages overrun by unnamed forces.
Turkmenistan has already invited NATO/US forces to help it in counter-terrorist, counter-narcotics, border control and policing efforts, even though the Turkmen leadership boasts loud and often about its “neutrality.”
Even though Uzbekistan is helping the US conduct its NDN (northern distribution network) enterprise in exchange for military aid and help with image modification, the Karimov government refuses to participate in any regional solution that has been put forth by either the US or Russia, even scuttling the US Istanbul agreement on Afghanistan.
Karimov will not support any security scenario that omits the Shanghai Cooperation Organization’s (SCO) Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RAT), which is based in Tashkent. A parallel law enforcement structure is being created there, to expedite terrorism suspects in the US model of operation. Moscow’s coalition building has so far been unable to overcome Karimov’s distrust of Putin, in order to bring him onboard, even though the SCO structure has been officially linked to the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and Uzbekistan is a member.
Karimov refuses to join in any collective security force and Belarus is leading a push to have Uzbekistan expelled from the CSTO, unless it joins the security arrangement. This prevailing anti-Russian sentiment more or less ensures that no conceivable security arrangement will include all the national governments, creating a dangerous scenario where the CIS governments choose-up sides and take-up arms in opposition to each other. It may work out that the separate organizations can come together over the real threats and remain divided over the manufactured points of contention.
The new message emerging from the Russian press reports and manipulations of that news is that Putin is trying to pull together all of the remnants of the Soviet Union that he can influence, in his Eurasian Economic Union (EEU). Laying the economic groundwork for the massive organization effort, the Customs Union is the first stage of that planned reunion. War games to secure the resources of the member states suggest that Russia and its allies are prepared to use military force to hold onto assets. Widespread attacks by “Islamists” who suddenly emerge out of nowhere, or out of retirement, forcing recalcitrant governments to seek military assistance, suggest that the Kremlin may be giving them a nudge.
Against the temptation to side with Russia over concerns about Islamists and revolutions, the Americans have also deployed their own, perhaps more attractive, economic/military package of incentives. In addition to the incessantly advertised Silk Road incentive package we have the promise of such things as the free military surplus weapons, Special Forces training centers and modern border control technology (SEE: Smashing Greater Central Asia –Part One).
Border control enhancement in the Central Asian states is one area of Western penetration into the national security structure of all of the Stan governments. The EU and the UN build and remodel border control facilities for the individual governments to run, while the US and NATO provide the expertise and technical means to control borders in the face of determined smugglers and terrorists, who are hell-bent on conducting their deadly trade across normally porous borders.
In the war to “Smash Greater Central Asia,” the great game is being played-out as a massive psywar, with both sides using the same covert tactics to produce opposite results. The secret war is on, for the hearts and souls of individual nations and individual tribes, who are looking for economic roads out of the remnants of the massive Gulag state and the crumbling industrial base that has been left in its wake. An interesting, though often overlooked, fact about the former Soviet empire is the wreckage that has been left behind in the crumbling infrastructure of roads, factories, pipelines, water and electrical transmission systems. All of these former life-giving arteries of the Soviet industrial state have been milked of their usefulness to the economically starved CIS countries, having surpassed their expiration dates and started to crumble. Repairing these systems may be more difficult and more costly than simply replacing them with brand new systems.
All of the former communist satellite countries are looking to the community of nations for help in overcoming these obstacles to economic growth, no matter whether that help is offered by the Western democracies or by a Gazprom-energized Russian economic union. The objective of the psywar against these CIS countries is to gain the loyalties of the individual governments in a bidding war for the least costly solutions available to the Center. The importance of co-opting each government means that those nations which cannot be tricked into giving their loyalty will be bought, if possible, if not, then the military option remains open.
The issue of “human rights” is overlooked by Western diplomats when they are trying to legitimize their interaction with the dictatorships of Central Asia, such as Islam Karimov, but it becomes a weapon when it comes to other, less vital governments. Human rights becomes a useful issue for bashing unfriendly dictatorships. It has been used too often in this hypocritical manner to be very effective any more. The two-faced method for deploying the human rights issue serves to delegitimize the idea of democratic rights for all, which must form the foundation of any democracy movement. In September, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton commended Karimov for “progress” on human rights and traveled to Tashkent in October to thank the dictator in person for his cooperation. In Turkmenistan, Berdimuhamedov no longer feels obligated to listen to the comments of the West on human rights.
We have worn-out our welcome in Central Asia, before we really got our foot in the door. It is a bad idea to squander all of your good will, especially at the same time that you are wearing out your economic appeal. Interfering in the internal Russian electoral process is also not a good example to set if you plan to encourage dictatorships to be more lenient on human rights. If you cannot get your foot in the door and you cannot even gain observer status, your plans may be left out in the cold as well. The ultimate solution for Central Asia may be whatever defense Russian leaders can organize to stop US State Dept. and CIA subversion. The governments siding with Russia may have already figured that out.
Peter Chamberlin is the American political analyst, author of the blog There Are No Sunglasses. The views expressed are his own and do not necessarily coincide with ones of ORIENTAL REVIEW editorial.
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