Monday, February 9, 2015

The New Great Game Round-Up #86

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 between a U.S.-dominated NATO, its GCC proxies, Russia, China and other regional players.

At the end of last month, U.S. President Barack Obama made history with his three-day visit to India. Obama became the first American leader to be honored as chief guest at India's annual Republic Day parade and the first U.S. President to visit India twice in his tenure. His trip has been hailed as a milestone in Indo-American relations because it allegedly demonstrates that India is tilting toward the U.S. in its foreign policy, ending its policy of non-alignment. It is indeed possible that India will end its non-alignment policy in the foreseeable future but it is doubtful that this entails closer Indo-American ties. Obama did his best to destroy his popularity with the people in India and Prime Minister Narendra Modi is not a big fan of Washington anyway. As previously discussed, Modi's election paved the way for a rapprochement between India and China, culminating in Beijing's endorsement of India's accession to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). To make matters worse for the U.S., the Modi government has refused to reconsider India's policy toward Moscow and strengthened the strategic partnership with Russia. This week's trilateral meeting between the foreign ministers of India, Russia and China revealed the synergy between the three countries:
India and Russia back China's call for 'new world order'

Russia and India added their voices on Monday to China's call for a new world order and endorsed Beijing's plans to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of the second world war.

In a joint communique, the three nations vowed to "build a more just, fair and stable international political and economic order" and a "multi-polar" world.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said all states should be involved in creating "a modern security architecture" in the Asia-Pacific; his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi , said the region should not be caught up in a zero-sum game.
© Photo EPA

India-Russia-China Anti-Terror Campaign Makes Pakistan Nervous

The Chinese authorities have warned India against falling into the "Western trap" by working against China. Since both counties are not interested in participating in a zero-sum game, they are looking to accommodate each other. Therefore, India won't join the "China containment brigade." In return for New Delhi's support, China and Russia endorsed India's push to join the SCO and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC). Furthermore, India secured greater Chinese support for its bid for a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council, which would be an important step on the way to a multi-polar world. While most countries prefer a multi-polar world to the current order, the sole remaining superpower begs to differ. As The Diplomat's Shannon Tiezzi noted, the interests of India, Russia and China "continue to converge in ways the U.S. would not approve of." This includes economic cooperation, such as the idea of a Russia-China-India gas pipeline, as well as anti-terror cooperation, which was high on the agenda in Beijing:
India, Russia and China join forces to fight terror at trilateral meet

India joined hands with Russia and China on Monday to fight terror, pledging at their 13th trilateral meeting to crack down on not only terrorists but also those who finance and give refuge to them.

The three nations issued a strong joint statement on terror, saying religious, racial and ethnic divisions were no justification for terrorism.

Without naming any country, the communiqué said there was a need to “bring to justice perpetrators, organisers, financiers and sponsors of terrorist acts”.

India's Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj announced that Russia and China have decided to back the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT), which was proposed by India in 1996 and has been a controversial subject ever since. The resolution is aimed at punishing Pakistan for its support of Kashmiri militants in the Kashmir conflict against India, thus the news didn't go down well in Pakistan. Although China had stressed only a few days prior that Pakistan is an "irreplaceable all-weather friend," Beijing's decision to back the resolution comes as no real surprise. Pakistan is playing a dangerous game by sheltering and supporting insurgents from various countries, including Uyghurs from Xinjiang. Last year, the Pakistani authorities agreed to help China with its fight against the "East Turkestan terrorist forces" after the Chinese government had ramped up the pressure on Islamabad. Beijing can no longer afford to turn a blind eye to the dubious activities of its "irreplaceable all-weather friend," as the region's stability becomes more important for both countries:
Sino-Pakistan economic corridor nears implementation phase

China is pushing for the development of an economic corridor to Pakistan as a key component of its national development strategy of "One Belt and One Road," according to the Shanghai Securities News.

During a meeting with Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, speaker of the National Assembly of Pakistan, on Jan. 30 in Beijing, Chinese premier Li Keqiang said that a Sino-Pakistan economic corridor functions as the strategic framework for the cooperation of the two nations.

Shanghai Securities News said the Sino-Pakistan economic corridor project will begin implementation this year, highlighting the construction of major transportation infrastructure.
In order to obtain Islamabad's support for its fight against the insurgency in Xinjiang, China has promised Pakistan billions of dollars in investment. Now it is up to both countries to ensure that Pakistan's troubled relationship with extremist networks and militants doesn't impede the implementation of the planned economic corridor from the Pakistani port city of Gwadar to the ancient Silk Road trading hub of Kashgar in Xinjiang. Since China's "New Silk Road" depends on stability in Xinjiang, Beijing is increasingly worried about Uyghurs gaining combat experience abroad. The Chinese authorities are now trying to shut down what state media call the "underground railway," as highlighed by the arrest of several Turks and Uyghurs in November of last year in Shanghai. Many Uyghurs are trying to leave China via Southeast Asia and the Hong Kong-based Yazhou Zhoukan recently reported that Malaysia has become a main "transfer station" for new recruits hoping to join the Islamic State (ISIS). Some of them change their opinion about ISIS once they get to the Middle East but by then it is too late:
Islamic State kills Chinese militants

The Islamic State (IS) has killed three Chinese militants who tried to leave the group, an official from the Kurdish security force in Iraq told the Global Times. 
The Kurdish security official said Wednesday that in the past six months, IS has executed 120 of its members who attempted to escape from the group and leave Iraq and Syria. Among the 120, three were Chinese citizens and were members of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), a terrorist organization that is also known as the Turkistan Islamic Party.

Singapore-based Chinese news portal zaobao.com earlier reported that around 300 Chinese extremists were fighting for IS in Syria and Iraq after travelling to the two countries via Malaysia.

"Chechen Rebels" Busy In Syria & Ukraine, Can't Liberate Chechnya

As highlighted in a previous round-up, NATO member Turkey plays a decisive role in smuggling Uyghurs out of China and in recruiting Uyghur fighters for ISIS or other terrorist groups in Syria. This has strained relations between Ankara and Beijing. While individuals like Seyit Tümtürk from the NED-funded World Uyghur Congress (WUC) are denouncing China's "persecution" of Uyghurs and promoting Turkey as the only safe place for their "brothers from East Turkestan," the Chinese government is growing increasingly impatient with anyone who suggests that the Uyghurs leaving China are all just innocent refugees. Turkey's National Police Chief Mehmet Celalettin Lekesiz visited Beijing last month to put oil on troubled waters. Lekesiz stressed that Turkey would never support activities harming China's interests and offered to beef up law enforcement and security cooperation but Beijing knows full well that Ankara cannot be trusted. One need look no further than the arrest of Turks and Uyghurs in Shanghai or the last major terrorist attack in Russia's North Caucasus to understand Turkey's role in the New Great Game. If the Chinese have second thoughts about Turkey's intentions, they can ask Chechen Republic head Ramzan Kadyrov who knows a thing or two about this issue. Kadyrov usually doesn't mince his words when it comes to NATO-backed terrorism:    
Chechen leader blames US & Western intel for Islamic State terrorists

Ramzan Kadyrov has accused the US and other Western nations of “spawning” the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) terrorist group in order to incite hatred towards Muslims all over the world.

“Today, no one doubts the fact that this group has been spawned by America and other Western countries in order to spark hatred of Islam in the hearts of people all over the planet, to stop the process of mass conversion to Islam,” the head of the Chechen Republic wrote on his Instagram page.

Kadyrov also suggested the West was backing IS in order to distract public attention from numerous problems in the Middle East, in the hope of destroying Islamic nations from inside.
A few days earlier, Kadyrov had accused the CIA and other Western intelligence agencies of using fake social media accounts to recruit young Russians for ISIS and other terrorist groups. Judging by his frequent use of Instagram, it is fair to say that the Chechen leader is a social media expert. Some people are trying to use this against him but no one can deny that Kadyrov has managed to achieve what many others have failed to do: making ISIS nervous. While Kadyrov's nemesis Tarkhan Batirashvili, also known as Abu Omar al-Shishani, is still nowhere to be found, his old colleagues from Jaish al-Muhajireen wal-Ansar (JMA) are using the opportunity to slam ISIS for using inexperienced recruits as cannon fodder, an accusation that has been made before against Batirashvili. Given that the "Chechen rebels" are busy quarreling with each other in the Middle East, the situation in the North Caucasus has been relatively calm in recent months, except for the high-profile attacks in Grozny. Moreover, NATO's Chechen mercenaries are currently not only fighting in Syria but also in Ukraine:
Veteran Chechen Commander Killed Fighting in Ukraine

Prominent Chechen commander Isa Munayev has reportedly been killed in eastern Ukraine, where he was battling alongside Kiev government troops against pro-Moscow separatists.

Munayev — a veteran of Chechnya's wars for independence from Russia — was killed Sunday near the town of Debaltseve, said Amina Okuyeva, a press officer for the Dzhokhar Dudayev peacekeeping battalion, which Munayev commanded.

He was providing cover for Kiev-loyal forces that were withdrawing after "successfully completing a mission" when he was killed by artillery fire, Okuyeva said Monday in a statement posted on the Odessa Crisis Media Center website.

During the Second Chechen War, Isa Munayev was the military commandant of Grozny and head of the Interior Ministry of the unrecognized Chechen Republic of Ichkeria under Aslan Maskhadov. After the "Chechen rebels" had been largely defeated, Munayev fled to Denmark, where he lived for a couple of years before coming to Ukraine to stop the "moskals." To this end, Munayev formed the Dzhokhar Dudayev battalion, which consists of Chechens, Russians, Ukrainian and Georgians. The Kiev regime depicted him as a hero and mourned his death, whereas Chechen President Kadyrov insisted that Munayev never was a warrior or a real man. Furthermore, Kadyrov made the ludicrous claim that Munayev's close associates Adam Osmayev and Amina Okueva had organized his murder on behalf of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) and the CIA after the intelligence agencies realized "that Munayev is not worth even a devalued hryvnia." Adam Osmayev, who succeeded Munayev as head of the Dzhokhar Dudayev battalion, has an interesting history as well:
Adam Osmaev assumes command of battalion fighting for official Kiev

A native of Grozny Adam Osmaev, who had been once accused of plotting a terror act against the Russian President Vladimir Putin, has headed the "International Peacemaking Battalion named after Dudaev", created by Isa Munaev, a former Chechen field commander, and taking part in the war in Eastern Ukraine as a part of the antiterrorist operation (ATO).

In October 2014, the Ukrainian Prosecutor's Office excluded the terrorism article from his indictment. On November 18, 2014, the Primorsky District Court of Odessa found Osmaev guilty of illegal handling of explosives, reckless destruction of another's property and forging documents, sentenced him to 2 years 9 months and 14 days in jail and released him in the courtroom, because he had already served this term in the SIZO.

Ukraine To Conquer "The Whole Of Russia" Using Georgian Experience

As Chechen terrorists are leading Kiev's so-called anti-terror operation, Western media is doing its best to whitewash anyone who is fighting for the Ukrainian regime. Osmayev made headlines when he was jailed for trying to assassinate Russian President Vladimir Putin but his early release from prison didn't attract much attention. Admittedly, it is difficult to keep track of all the criminals who are finding a new job in the "New Ukraine." Not everyone is as publicity-seeking as former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili who is currently making the case for arming Ukraine. A few days ago, Saakashvili caused a lot of laughter when he told Ukrainian television that a properly armed and prepared Ukrainian army could "capture the whole of Russia." Saakashvili is of course speaking from his own experience. In 2008, the U.S.-trained Georgian army almost captured the whole of Russia after Saakashvili started the Russo-Georgian War. The Ukrainian authorities can consider themselves lucky that the Georgian leader is ready to use all his experience to help the New Ukraine:
Georgia's ex-president Saakashvili seeks to become Ukraine’s anti-corruption chief

Former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili confirmed on Monday that he is ready to fight for the post of Ukraine’s national anti-corruption bureau chief.

In an interview with the Censor.net news portal, Saakashvili said corruption is one of the main enemies of Ukraine and he could introduce an action plan based on Georgia’s experience of fighting against corruption.

Saakashvili said he could use his international ties to focus on the issues of returning to Ukraine the arrested assets of a corrupt group linked to former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.

While the former Georgian President is offering Kiev his help to return the assets of corrupt individuals linked to former President Yanukovych, Georgia is still trying to capture Saakashvili and seize his assets. Saakashvili's old nemesis, former Georgian Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili, is making sure that nobody forgets which crimes Saakashvili and his associates committed during their reign in Georgia. Ivanishvili announced last month in a much-noticed TV interview that he is planning to do a TV series of 200 episodes about Saakashvili's rule. The richest man in Georgia also used the opportunity to criticize Saakashvili and his party, the United National Movement (UNM), for encouraging youth to fight in Ukraine, stressing that Saakashvili & Co. "should first ask their own children to go." As previously pointed out, the regime in Kiev would be lost without its Georgian fighters and Saakashvili-era officials:
Wanted Georgian ex-justice minister spotted in Kiev

Georgian Justice Minister Zurab Adeishvili, who has been wanted for more than a year and is subject to an Interpol Red Alert, was recently spotted in Ukraine.

The Georgian Prosecutor General’s Office has now asked the Ukrainian government to detain Adeishvili and extradite him to Georgia.

Adeishvili has been wanted since November, 2013, for involvement in the staging of torture of prisoners, of trying to run an opposition-affiliated bank into bankruptcy, and for the cover-up of the murder of bank employee Sandro Girgvliani in 2006.
According to Deputy Interior Minister Archil Talakvadze, Tbilisi has sent the necessary documentation about the charges against Adeishvili to Kiev and is now waiting for a response. Many people in Georgia demand that officials who broke the law during the Saakashvili regime are held to account but Kiev and Washington might have other ideas. Tbilisi won't risk annoying its masters in Washington just to hold a few criminals to account. After Ivanishvili recently dared to draw attention to the dubious role of NGOs in the country, he was immediately rebuked by U.S. Ambassador Richard Norland and Ivanishvili's protégé, Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili, tried to calm the waves. The Georgian government knows that wrong decisions could prompt a Georgian Maidan because the country is a crucial outpost in the new Cold War against Russia. The U.S. is planning to boost military and economic aid to Georgia and NATO is going ahead with the implementation of its 'substantial package' of cooperation with Georgia despite all Russian warnings:
NATO training center in Georgia to escalate tension in Black Sea region — Russian diplomat

NATO's plan of setting up a training center in Georgia is a step towards escalating tension in the Black Sea region, Russia’s representative at NATO Alexander Grushko told reporters on Friday.

"A training center in Georgia is a step, which cannot be taken other than provocative. NATO does not need any centers," the diplomat said. "We shall be looking into the issue, but establisheng NATO military objects in Georgia is a step towards tension and aggravation of the regional security."

"Our position is that in the Black Sea region there are all conditions to have security provided by regional states. I mean by countries of the Black Sea," he said.