The New Great Game Round Up- June 23, 2013

Rumsfeld- USAID in Kyrgyzstan, Drugs & Underground Madrasahs, Saakashvili vs. Ivanishvili & 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.

At the beginning of this week Georgia was rocked by an extremely interesting discovery:

Interior Ministry: Large Arms Cache Uncovered

Underground cache included “large amount of explosives and explosive devices; hand grenades; firearms and other weapons and military munitions; communications gear, as well as large amount of narcotics and psychotropic medicines including heroin, opium, cocaine, subutex etc.,” the Interior Ministry said in a statement.

The Interior Ministry said that the cache also included video tapes showing “brutal torture, sexual abuse, beating and inhuman treatment of individuals by representatives of the law enforcement agencies.”

Saakashvili vs. Ivanishvili

According to the Georgian Interior Ministry the arms cache was hidden under “the direct supervision of former high ranking officials of the interior ministry during the previous authorities” and it was not the only one:

Arms Caches Allegedly Connected To Georgian President's Party

Georgian investigators say they have found several caches filled with weapons, explosives, drugs, and documents targeting opponents of Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili's party.

The spokeswoman said the caches contained photos and written material about people Saakashvili's United National Movement party allegedly planned to arrest if it won last year's parliamentary elections.

Many of Saakashvili's associates have been arrested and charged with wrongdoing since Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili's Georgian Dream coalition won parliamentary elections in October 2012.

Shortly thereafter, several arrests were made:

Georgia Arrests Torture Suspects in New Swipe at Old Government

Georgian police on Wednesday arrested nine serving and former police and military officers on suspicion of torture, which the interior minister said was a "systemic problem" under the previous government of President Mikheil Saakashvili.

The nine suspects are accused of involvement in the torture and rape of two detainees depicted on videos found this week in a cache along with guns and drugs, Interior Minister Irakly Garibashvili said.

Just a few days before the arms caches were discovered, the Georgian police detained two suspected terrorists:

Georgia detains two suspected terrorists

Ministry spokesperson Nino Giorgobiani said Thursday that police searched their temporary place of residency and discovered a large amount of potent explosives, electric detonators, firearms, ammunition and fake identity papers.

Kadiev was wanted by Interpol and according to the investigation he has been hiding in Georgia since 2011, but periodically left the country.

The Interior Ministry highlighted the connection between one of the arrested men and President Saakashvili [emphasis mine]:

Georgia: Jihad in the Backyard

Police on June 13 recovered a significant stash of explosives and firearms from a Tbilisi apartment and arrested two men for allegedly plotting an act of terror, the interior ministry said. The two men, Mikail Kadiev and Rizvan Omarov, have Russian passports, and are presumed to hail from Russia's North Caucasus.

What was supposed to be a bipartisan discussion of security threats eventually got reduced to attempts by the Saakashvili team to show that they still matter, and Ivanishvili’s attempts to show that they don’t. And so the pattern continued with yesterday's arrests. The interior ministry informed the public that one of the suspects used to live at an apartment owned by President Saakashvili’s “personal pilot.” The presidential office was quick to accuse the ministry, which is loyal to Ivanishvili, of trying to smear the president.

These latest incidents illustrate the struggle in Georgia between Saakashvili and Prime Minister Ivanishvili. The latter has taken a different approach towards Russia and faced strong criticism for this even before his election when President Saakashvili tried to paint him as a Russian puppet.

There is not much evidence to support this accusation and ties between the country in the South Caucasus and NATO are in no way threatened. Quite the contrary, some analysts argue that Ivanishvili is getting Georgia closer to NATO than Saakashvili did.

Recent developments corroborate this and the cooperation is now closer than ever:

NATO Trains U.S. Troops At Georgian Mountain Training Center

Delegation from Turkish General Staff visits Georgia

Additionally, the country wants to cement ties in the military sector with neighbouring NATO proxy Azerbaijan and is turning its attention to Central Asia. Kazkhstan's resources and strategic location arouse great interest:

David Cameron will be first serving British Prime Minister to visit Central Asia

This meeting is significant because Kazakhstan will likely play a key role in the withdrawal of military equipment from Afghanistan in 2014, CA-News reports. This is an opportunity for Western leaders involved in Afghanistan to "get Central Asian leaders on board," since Central Asia is the most reliable exit route for military hardware, what with the increasing instability in Pakistan, The Independent reported.

GCC Skyscrapers & Extremism

UAE's investments in Kazakhstan were already discussed last week and now we can add Central Asia's tallest building to the list. But even this will pale in comparison with the new Saudi project which might be implemented in Moscow.

Meanwhile Kazakhstan and Russia are trying to contain the threat of extremism:

Kazakhstan blocks 45 foreign religious sites in 2012

Kazakh students need permission to study religion in Saudi Arabia

300 Detained in Raid

Police, security officers and migration officials in a joint raid on Friday detained some 300 people, including 170 foreigners, in a praying room for Muslims in a non-residential building in the southeast of Moscow, Interfax reported.

Three people belonging to Hizb ut-Tahrir detained in Dagestan

For more information about the role of Hizb ut-Tahrir and similar groups in U.S./NATO's Operation Gladio B, I encourage you to read the corresponding round-ups here and here. The arrest of three HT members in Dagestan is hardly surprising considering the source of funding for extremists in this region:

Russia says 50 groups in U.S. raise funds for North Caucasus extremists

According to the Jamahiriya News Agency, Russian intelligence reveals that 50 organizations, many of which are Islamic charities, are actively soliciting and distributing funds from their headquarters in U.S. to terrorist groups in the North Caucasus—the same region where Tamerlan Tsarnaev journeyed prior to the Boston Marathon bombings. Islamic Relief, the largest Muslim charity in America, is included on Russia’s list.

One of the countries, which has been facilitating terrorism in the North Caucasus and providing refugee for Chechen terrorists, is close U.S. ally Azerbaijan. But this won't stop Russia from striking a bargain with its southern neighbor:

Russia Starts Delivering $1Bln Arms Package to Azerbaijan

A source at the Russian Defense Ministry said the order had been on hold for some time to avoid upsetting the military balance in the South Caucasus, where Russia has a military base in Armenia and an agreement to defend the country if it comes under attack. But the deal had been pushed through at the behest of Russia's powerful arms industry, he said.

As far as business dealings are concerned, it was a great week for Moscow:

Russia and China oil cooperation estimated at the unprecedented $270bn – Putin

The value of 25 years of cooperation between Russia’s state oil major Rosneft and China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) will be $270 billion, said President Putin at the economic forum in St. Petersburg.

Under the contract Rosneft will export 360.3 million tonnes of crude to China.

While securing energy supplies from Russia and Central Asia, Beijing is increasing its efforts to ensure stability in the vital Xinjiang region [emphasis mine]:

China And Central Asia: A Significant New Energy Nexus – Analysis

China has turned to Central Asia for energy supply, for two main reasons. Besides accessing a more stable and closer source of abundant energy, China aims to compete aggressively for its energy security by developing its “energy diplomacy” with the region. Secondly, developing close ties with Central Asia through an energy nexus will help China deter threats from the separatist activists in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. China has reorganized the army units in Xinjiang to safeguard its oil fields given the 3,300 km western border with Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

Rumsfeld, USAID in Kyrgyzstan

Xinjiang's Central Asian neighbor Kyrgyzstan recently experienced civil unrest. Coincidentally, this happened after the Kyrgyz government announced to push for an end of U.S. military presence at the Manas Transit Center [emphasis mine]:

Kyrgyzstan: Kamchibek Tashiyev freed. Parliament’s dissolution imminent?

“The opposition forces in Kyrgyzstan became very active over the last several weeks. [This] indicates they must have received financial incentives,” Aleksandr Filippov, a co-founder of the Moscow Institute for Humanitarian and Political Research, maintains. “If one was to test the “seek the benefiter” hypothesis, a political crisis and the parliament’s dissolution would certainly meet U.S. interests in the region at the moment. If the opposition cracks the parliament apart, discussions over kicking the [U.S.] military airbase would be postponed at least for six months. It does not matter what causes the dissolution – the Kumtor issue or anything else. It was George W. Bush who stated that the USA’s military presence in Kyrgyzstan is not time limited. The USA could provide the opposition in this country [with funds] in order to exert pressure on the Kyrgyz leadership.”

To the delight of Russia, there was no dissolution of the Kyrgyz parliament and the vote delivered a clear result:

Kyrgyz Parliament approved the denunciation of the agreement with the U.S. on Transit Center at Manas

Lawmakers voted in favor of ending the agreement in June 2014 to lease the Manas Transit Center in connection with withdrawal due to lack of need for further operation of the facility.

But the United States already reiterated that it won't be giving up and "remains in close contact" with Kyrgyzstan. So what does that mean? Well, currently George W. Bush's old buddy and fellow war criminal, Donald Rumsfeld, happens to be in the country working for his suspicious foundation [emphasis mine]:

Former U.S. Defense Secretary arrives in Kyrgyzstan

Former Defense Secretary of the Unites States Donald Rumsfeld arrived in Kyrgyzstan, the U.S. Embassy in Kyrgyzstan reported. According to its information, he arrived in Kyrgyzstan on June 19 for discussion of the Rumsfeld Foundation issues. “The visit has nothing to do with us,” the U.S. Embassy noted.

Rumsfeld's Visit To Kyrgyzstan Sets Tongues Wagging 

Officially, he was there on the business of the Rumsfeld Foundation, a group that offers short-term fellowships to young scholars from Central Asia and the Caucasus to study in Washington, D.C. And the timing of the visit, at the same time as the parliamentary vote, was just a coincidence.

But as anyone following Central Asian politics knows, there is no such thing as coincidence. And the Kyrgyzstan and Russian press has been rife with speculation about what Rumsfeld's real agenda was in Bishkek.

The efforts of the Rumsfeld Foundation are primarily focused on Central Asia and, with the help of its partners, the organization reaches out to more vital regions:

"The Rumsfeld foundation partners with the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute and the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University to administer fellowships to young leaders from Central Asia, the Caucasus, Afghanistan, and Mongolia."

Rumsfeld's educational foundation is in the business of grooming future puppet leaders. This procedure always follows more or less the same script, as outlined by Sibel Edmonds:

"The location – always a resource rich country or one strategically crucial to resource rich countries. A viable candidate (sometimes candidates) chosen based on the exact same set of criteria – such as degree of corruptibility, and degree of atrocity or criminal tendencies. The grooming and training locations also are the same: the United States of America or the proxy brother, The United Kingdom. The supporting actors are a combination of old timers, think World Bank or IMF, and newer ones with even fancier names, such as XYZ Democratization and Development Fund, posing as well-intentioned NGOs. Okay, enough with the details, since we are very familiar with this repeating script and its consistent execution – collectively known and referred to as United States Foreign Policy."

Kyrgyzstan is hosting another unpleasant organization and the Kyrgyz government should consider to follow Bolivia's example and expel USAID. The United States Agency for International Development has been conducting suspicious activities in the country for quite a while and was recently the topic of conversation between the mayor of Osh, which is located in the Fergana Valley, and the U.S. Ambassador to Kyrgyzstan, Pamela Spratlen:

Osh mayor asks USA to assist in search for initiators of 2010 June events

The parties discussed political and economical issues, bilateral relations, and the work of USAID.

CIA's USAID is also involved in neighbouring Tajikistan [emphasis mine]:

U.S. government fosters cross-border energy trade between Tajikistan and Afghanistan

USAID, through its Central Asia Regional Energy Security, Efficiency, and Trade project, is providing $785,000 to extend cross-border transmission lines to Viyod village in the Shugnan district, and to two Sarchashma sub-villages, Tizhmoy and Pidrud, in Afghanistan.

The USAID Regional Energy Security, Efficiency, and Trade project is one of the many development projects made possible by the American people through USAID.  Since 1992, the American people have invested over $1 billion in programs in support of Tajikistan's democratic institutions, health care, education, and economic growth.

That is really generous of the American people. However, we should consider the possibility that their money is not supporting "Tajikistan's democratic institutions" but financing Pentagon's Operation Gladio B.

Drugs & Underground Madrasahs

 Recently, Kyrgz and Tajik authorities increased the cooperation in the War on Drugs and there are regularly small victories:

200 kilograms of drugs detained during raid in Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyz seized 2 tonnes of drugs

But the drug trade is very lucrative and offers large incentives, especially for the people who are supposed to prevent this trade:

Border officer gets long jail term for drug trafficking

Former deputy commander of one of frontier posts deployed in southern Tajikistan has reportedly got a long jail term for drug trafficking.

All countries in the region must work together to fight against the sophisticated drug networks:

Pakistani drug control officers thwart attempt to smuggle precursor chemicals to Tajikistan

Officers from Pakistan’s Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) have reportedly thwarted an attempt to smuggle a large consignment of precursor chemicals from Pakistan to Tajikistan via Afghanistan. Two Tajik nationals have been arrested.

“About 103,563 kilograms of acetic anhydride/ hydrochloric acid, used in the manufacturing of heroin has been seized. Three smugglers including two foreigners of Tajik origin have been arrested,” said a press release.

Another security challenge for Tajikistan is the advancing Islamization, as demonstrated by this week's discovery of two underground madrasahs near Dushanbe:

Secret religious schools with kidnapped pupils discovered in Tajikistan

'The detainee confessed that he had abducted the children with the purpose of their further education at illegal religious home schools. A corresponding check fully confirmed Rajabov's testimony," the ministry note. The police who made surprise appearances at the schools discovered the recently abducted boy from Dushanbe and nine other children from different parts of Tajikistan there. The ministry says that many of the children were from poor families and some of the parents did not even report their disappearances. "The detained self-proclaimed clergymen had taught religion to children in insanitary conditions and without a corresponding permit, i.e. illegally. Besides, they kept the children by force and previously committed another grave crime by kidnapping them," the press release says.

Radicalizing young children in secret religious schools resembles the modus operandi of Fethullah Gülen's CIA-sponsored network in Central Asia:

"He has since established more than 300 madrasahs in Central Asia and what he calls universities that have a front that is called Moderate Islam, but he is closely involved in training mujahideen-like militia Islam who are brought from Pakistan and Afghanistan into Central Asia where his madrasahs operate, and his organization's network is estimated to be around $25 billion.

He has opened several Islamic universities in the United States. As I said it's being promoted under Moderate Islam. It is supported by certain U.S. authorities here because of the operations in Central Asia, but what they have been doing since late 1990s is actually radical Islam and militizing (phonetic) these very, very young, from the age 14, 15, by commandoes they use, and this is both commandoes from Turkish military, commandoes from Pakistani ISI in Central Asia and Azerbaijan, and after that they bring them to Turkey, and from Turkey they send them through Europe, to European and elsewhere."

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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

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