Sunday, July 28, 2013

The New Great Game Round-Up #13

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.

Since Russia and China will be confronted with a terror campaign at their doorsteps in the near future, joint efforts to prepare for this situation are underway:
Chinese soldiers leave for anti-terror drills in Russia
The drill involves 1,500 soldiers from both sides and will be held from next Saturday until August 15th. Over 100 pieces of equipment and military hardware, and over 20 aircraft and helicopters will take part in the manoeuvres.
During the exercises, the parties will train in joint operations on planning, training and conducting military actions in the course of a counter-terrorism operation.
© Photo xinhuanet.com
Beijing is justifiably concerned about the security of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region with groups like the Turkestan Islamic Party (TIP) now reaching out to more parts of the population for its operations [emphasis mine]:
Turkistan Islamic Party trains women for jihad
The al Qaeda-linked Turkistan Islamic Party is actively training female recruits to wage jihad in South and Central Asia.
A short, one-minute-long video by the Turkistan Islamic Party shows five burka-clad women training with pistols, assault and sniper rifles, machine guns, and grenade launchers. A male trainer is seen directing the women. The Turkistan Islamic Party's distinctive light blue flag is seen flying in the background.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The New Great Game Round-Up #12

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.

Azerbaijan's interest in the largest Chinese administrative division, Xinjiang, was scrutinized last week. Now we will take a closer look at Baku's dealings on the opposite side of the Eurasian Balkans:
Azerbaijan, Turkey discuss cooperation in defense industry
Notorious NATO proxy Azerbaijan and NATO member Turkey maintain very good relations. Both countries work together in various sectors with the defense industry especially worth mentioning. This is furthered by the close military cooperation:
Turkish side approves MoU on military training with Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan, Turkey launch joint military drills
Eyvaz Jafarov also said that these exercises are very important from the viewpoint of increasing the combat readiness of Azerbaijan's Armed Forces, achieving coordination of operations as well as ensuring the security and stability in the region.
From now onward Azerbaijani-Turkish joint military exercises will be held each year in turns in Azerbaijan and Turkey.
Which is very profitable for Turkey's military-industrial complex:
More than 20 Turkish defense industry companies have cooperation and commercial relations with Azerbaijan.

Friday, July 12, 2013

The New Great Game Round-Up #11

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.

When the head of the Chechen republic, Ramzan Kadyrov, recently vowed to eliminate insurgency leader Doku Umarov before the Sochi Olympics, he was apparently dead serious about it:
Rebel Warlord’s Bodyguard Killed in Chechnya
Rustam Saliyev, who from 2008 to 2011 served as a personal protector of “the leader of the North Caucasus bandits,” according to the anti-terrorism committee, was reportedly killed in a special operation in the rural Achkhoi-Martanovsky district of southwestern Chechnya.
Foreign companies will certainly factor the highly volatile situation in the North Caucasus into their decision about investments in Chechnya's energy sector:
Foreign energy companies will be intrigued to learn that Russia’s turbulent Caucasian republic of Chechnya is now open for investment in its hydrocarbon industry. 
Because they could be facing some problems with the local terrorists:
On 18 June the Russian Prosecutor General's Office announced that the Supreme Court of Chechnya has handed down guilty verdicts on five terrorists who planned to derail an oil train in Chechnya received sentences ranging from 9 to 16 years in a high security prison camp, telling journalists, "In June 2011, the conspirators, who planned to derail an oil train, made a barrel bomb that they placed under the rails in the Grozny District of the Chechen Republic" before being discovered by security guards.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

The New Great Game Round-Up #10

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.

The defeat of Nabucco West is seen by many as a heavy blow to the Southern Gas Corridor. In particular, Ashgabat's plans to deliver gas from Turkmenistan to Europe are affected. While Nabucco West could have accommodated significant volumes of Turkmen gas, the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline lacks the sufficient capacity. So some members of the European Commission are still talking about the realization of both projects:
EU Commissioner: Both TAP and Nabucco West are needed in medium term
Vladimir Socor explains why this won't work:
Gazprom one winner from Nabucco demise
"During the Nabucco-TAP contest, the European Commission had insisted that the winner project would "open" the Southern Corridor, strongly implying that the other project would be implemented next. According to this logic, the two projects could be sequenced; the contest over Shah Deniz gas would merely determine the order of sequencing Nabucco-West and TAP; and they would coexist in the future, each supplying Caspian gas to different parts of the European market, once a trans-Caspian pipeline from Turkmenistan materialized. 
That logic, however, is not being borne out now. There will not be another iteration of Nabucco-West without guaranteed supply sources and financing. Connecting the Caspian basin with Central Europe will be a matter for a post-Nabucco project. This will require a stronger consortium and more credible leadership than has been the case until now."
According to his prediction, especially one company will profit from Nabucco's demise:
"The Continental European Gas Hub at Baumgarten near Vienna will continue to suffer from limited competition to the Russian gas flooding the terminal. Nabucco gas would have introduced a greater element of competition, contributing to the development of spot-market pricing. With Nabucco's defeat, however, Gazprom will continue to dominate the price-setting process in Central Europe."
 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The New Great Game Round-Up #9

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.

In the wake of the recent terror campaign in China's autonomous region of Xinjiang, the Global Times published an interesting article about the arrest of Muslim Uyghur Memeti Alili and the connection between unrest in Xinjiang and the proxy war in Syria [emphasis mine]:
Xinjiang terrorists finding training, support in Syria, Turkey
From a foreign student studying in Istanbul to a soldier receiving training in Syria's Aleppo, to a terrorist plotting attacks in China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, 23-year-old Memeti Aili said he felt like his dream was turned into a nightmare.

Memeti Aili was recently caught by the police when returning to Xinjiang to complete his mission to "carry out violent attack and improve fighting skills" assigned by the East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM). ETIM is a terrorist group that aims to create an Islamist state in Xinjiang, which works alongside the East Turkistan Education and Solidarity Association (ETESA), an Istanbul-based exile group.
Istanbul-based? Considering Turkey's involvement in recruiting Central Asian militants and funneling them into Syria, this is hardly surprising. Last year the Global Times already provided more information about ETIM and ETESA:
Xinjiang jihad hits Syria
Leaders from "East Turkestan" terror organizations have organized for members to head for Syria to participate in their quest for jihad, the Global Times has learned from Chinese anti-terrorism authorities.

The organizations include the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) and the East Turkestan Education and Solidarity Association (ETESA) that push for "independence" for China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.

Since May, ETIM and ETESA members have been going to Syria and linking up with organizations like Al Qaeda to fight against the Syrian government, according to China's anti-terrorism authority.
The headquarters of ETESA, located in Istanbul, are quite extensive and include research, media, social affairs, education and women's affairs departments. It aims to "educate and train Muslims" in Xinjiang and "set them free" by forming a Muslim state, according to a second official.
© Associated Press/Ibrahim Usta