Sunday, August 24, 2014

The New Great Game Round-Up #65

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.

Both the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and the Chinese-led Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) have started large military exercises with interesting scenarios in the last few days. 3000 soldiers from CSTO members Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Tajikistan participated in the "Interaction 2014" drills of the CSTO's Collective Rapid Reaction Force, which took place in Kazakhstan this week and involved a scenario with some parallels to the conflict in Ukraine. The CSTO's rapid reaction forces were asked to prevent the destabilization of CSTO member state "Karania" following the coup d'état by "'brown' forces supported by the military-political leadership of several leading governments of the West" in a country bordering Karania. This scenario was most likely promoted by Moscow and Beijing's hand in the scenario of the SCO exercise is equally visible [emphasis mine]:  
SCO exercise Peace Mission 2014 to involve 7,000 troops

The Peace Mission 2014 antiterrorist exercise of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) will be the largest ever in the organizations’ history, a Chinese military official said on Tuesday.

“It’s the first time that so many troops and so much weaponry have been deployed in joint drills under the SCO aegis,” Wang Ning, chief director of the drilla and deputy chief of the general staff of the People's Liberation Army, told the China Daily newspaper. Drones, Airborne Early Warning (AEW) aircraft, air-defense missiles, tanks and armored vehicles have joined the anti-terrorist drills in north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region that will be held from August 24 to 29.

The joint exercise scenario involves a separatist organization in a certain country, supported by an international terrorist organization, plotting terrorist attacks and hatching a coup plot to divide the country, Wang said.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

The New Great Game Round-Up #64

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.

It is hardly a secret that the conflict in Ukraine has less to do with "Russian aggression" and "European values" than with NATO expansion and Pipelineistan. Even as the NATO-backed Ukrainian regime and Russia are moving closer to a direct military confrontation, all the European Union seems to care about is the stable delivery of gas. After the freaks in Kiev announced that they may halt Russian energy transits through Ukraine, EU officials lost no time in reminding them of Europe's priorities, which can be easily summarized: When Europe has to choose between Ukraine and Russian gas, the gas wins every time. Shortly afterwards, the European Council issued a statement urging Kiev to "to closely coordinate with the European Commission any actions regarding the transportation of Russian gas." With energy transits through Ukraine threatened, Russia's South Stream pipeline blocked and Azerbaijan's Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) still in the works, some countries are now even considering to revive the Nabucco project in order to bring Iranian gas to Europe:
Iran ready to revive Nabucco project, supply gas to Europe

Iran is ready to supply Europe with gas via Nabucco, an abortive gas pipeline project, Iran’s top official said on Monday, adding that two European countries had already showed interest.

As Europe intends to diversify energy resources routes, Iran with its major gas fields could supply gas to Europe via Nabucco, Deputy Minister of Petroleum for international affairs Ali Majedi told Iranian media on Monday, adding that Nabucco would be useless without the Iranian gas.

Delegations from two European countries have visited Iran recently to discuss possible routes for gas deliveries, he said without naming the countries. Majedi said different routes were possible, including supplies via Turkey, Iraq, Syria, Caucasia and the Black Sea, adding that he saw the Turkish route as the best option.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

The New Great Game Round-Up #63

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.

A few days ago, Russia responded to the ridiculous Western sanctions and announced retaliatory measures, which will hurt first and foremost the European Union. The Kremlin had given European governments ample opportunity to distance themselves from the reckless U.S. campaign against Russia and was clearly disappointed, when the EU agreed to impose broad economic sanctions on Russia on July 29. During the Ukraine crisis, European leaders have repeatedly acted against European interests by doing Washington's bidding and the EU will now have to pay the price for this. According some estimates, the trade bloc might end up losing about 1 trillion euros ($1.3 trillion) if the economic war escalates. With Russia banning food and agricultural products from the U.S., the EU, Norway, Canada and Australia for one year, some EU countries are already getting a foretaste of what is to come, while Russia is starting talks with more friendly countries to replace the banned products: 
Putin in Trade Talks With Belarusian, Kazakh Presidents in Wake of Food Ban

Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev the coordination of trade and economy after Russia imposed food import embargo against a number of Western countries, the Kremlin’s press center said on Thursday.

Russia is going to rely on its economic partners outside the European Union for agricultural imports. At present, it is seeking to replace essential EU deliveries by products from blocs that Russia is a member of, including the fledgling Eurasian Economic Union (EAU) and the BRICS group of emerging economies.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

The New Great Game Round-Up #62

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 recent weeks, China has introduced a number of extreme measures, such as banning matches and imposing airline-like restrictions on bus passengers, to prevent further terrorist attacks in Xinjiang. Although the one-year-long anti-terror campaign is in full swing and countless suspects have been imprisoned, there is no end in sight to the violence, as demonstrated by several incidents this week. On Monday, "dozens of people" were killed or injured in what has been described as a "premeditated terror attack" by local police. Since the Chinese authorities have tried to release as few information as possible, it is still not exactly clear what happened in Yarkant County in Xinjiang's Kashgar Prefecture. According to several reports, a group of assailants armed with knives and axes attacked a police station and government offices in the town of Elixhu, with some later moving on to the town of Huangdi. A source told the Global Times that the attack occurred after police officers found suspicious explosives and other reports confirmed that the incident began when a group of Uyghurs impeded a police investigation:
20 Uyghurs and 13 Chinese police and officials killed in Yarkant incident

Over 20 Uyghurs and 13 Chinese officials and police officers were killed during an incident on Monday morning in Yarkant county in the Kashgar prefecture of China's Xinjiang Uyghur autonomous region, reports our Chinese-language sister newspaper Want Daily.

According to Chinese media reports the incident began when 30 Uyghurs impeded an investigation by police officers into "a potential terrorist attack." The resistance soon turned into a massive riot, in which five government buildings and 31 cars were attacked or destroyed.

When around a hundred police officers rushed to the area to contain the riot, they encountered 30 knife-wielding men, which they tried to run over with their cars. Several of the men were reportedly shot dead by police at the scene while others fled to nearby villages. Around 300 people from the villages are then reported to have put up armed resistance to the police, resulting in dozens of civilian injuries and deaths.
© Photo Sihai