Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The New Great Game Round-Up #91

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, Uyghur terrorists have been making headlines in several countries, ranging from Turkey to Indonesia and of course China. The Chinese authorities are increasingly concerned that Uyghur would-be terrorists who travel to the Middle East could return and fuel the insurgency in China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. Xinjiang's party chief Zhang Chunxian revealed during a meeting at the annual session of the National People's Congress that local authorities "have broken up terror groups who were plotting violent attacks on Chinese soil after fighting in battles in Syria with the IS." Although ISIS's threat to China is often exaggerated, Beijing's concerns are not unfounded. As discussed in a recent episode of Porkins Great Game, efforts are underway to smuggle Uyghurs out of China and turn them into jihadist mercenaries for U.S.-NATO terror operations. In order to nip the threat in the bud, Beijing wants to prevent Uyghurs from fleeing the country and catch those who have left:

China's Secret Plan to Track Militants and Bring Them Home

Days after Indonesia arrested four Uighur terrorism suspects in September in the country’s east, China dispatched three intelligence officers to ask authorities to hand them over.

While Indonesia initially demurred, China has now secured a preliminary agreement for the men to be returned after a trial in Jakarta, according to Irfan Idris, a senior official at Indonesia’s anti-terrorism agency. The four, who are yet to be charged, face potential execution if repatriated.

China pressed for the deal as part of a global operation begun last year to return terrorism suspects to Chinese soil, according to two people familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified because the initiative is confidential. Many of the suspects are members of the Turkic-speaking Uighur Muslim minority, they said.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The New Great Game Round-Up #90

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.

With all eyes focused on Ukraine, recent developments in the South Caucasus have gone largely unnoticed but tensions are running high on Russia's southern border as well. Not everyone is fond of NATO's relentless expansion into post-Soviet space. Contrary to what Western media would have you believe, "it's NATO that's empire-building, not Putin" and some people are having second thoughts about joining "an aggressive military bloc." Georgian businessman and parliamentarian Gogi Topadze, leader of one of the parties of the ruling Georgian Dream coalition, suggested a few days ago that it might be better to join the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU). Predictably, it didn't take long before some of the most influential Georgian NGOs, including George Soros' Open Society Georgia Foundation, launched a petition against Topadze's "anti-Western statements." As members of the Georgian government never grow tired of emphasizing, Georgia's Euro-Atlantic integration is irreversible. The next step on this path is a NATO training center. But for some inexplicable reason, this doesn't go down particularly well in Georgia's breakaway region of South Ossetia. South Ossetian leader Leonid Tibilov recently cited NATO's activities in Georgia and Tbilisi's refusal to sign a document on the non-use of force against South Ossetia and Abkhazia as key reasons for signing a wide-ranging alliance and integration treaty with Russia:
Putin signs treaty integrating South Ossetia into Russia

Russia tightened its control Wednesday over a second breakaway region of Georgia, with President Vladimir Putin and the leader of South Ossetia signing a new treaty that calls for nearly full integration.

Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili denounced the signing as a "destructive" move against his nation's sovereignty and territorial integrity and said it would further exacerbate tensions. The United States, the European Union and NATO also strongly condemned the signing.

Under the agreement signed Wednesday in the Kremlin, South Ossetia's military and economy are to be incorporated into Russia's. The treaty also promises to make it easier for South Ossetians to get Russian citizenship and to raise salaries for civil servants and state pensions.
© Photo RIA Novosti/Aleksey Nikolskyi

Monday, March 16, 2015

The New Great Game Round-Up #89

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.

Although it is still not clear who is responsible for the assassination of Russian opposition figure Boris Nemtsov within sight of the Kremlin, it is safe to say that Nemtsov's killing has been a gift from heaven for Washington. Western media had solved the case before Nemtsov's body was cold: Putin did it! And even if Putin did not personally pull the trigger, the Russian President is still responsible for Nemtsov's death because he did create the "atmosphere of hate" in Russia, which enabled the killing. Neither the suspicious timing of the assassination nor the ensuing clan war in the Kremlin led Western pundits to rethink their assessment. But the Russian media's coverage in the aftermath of the murder has been hardly any better. Russian media put out several more or less absurd theories, from promoting the Charlie Hebdo angle to blaming the Nemtsov killing on the inept Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) or the new leader of the "Chechen rebels" fighting for Kiev in the Donbass:
Pro-Kremlin Newspaper Spins Conspiracy Theory That Nemtsov Was Killed By Pro-Kiev Chechen

Two weeks after the assassination of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, the pro-Kremlin Komsomolskaya Pravda (KP) has revived a claim first floated a few days after his death and then abandoned - that Adam Osmayev, a pro-Kiev Chechen fighting against Russian-backed separatists in the Donbass, is somehow linked to Nemtsov's death.

KP says they have obtained an "exclusive interview" from an officer of the FSB who is in the investigation group for Nemtsov's murder. The unnamed officer "gave the name of the most likely contractor of the shooting of the politician [Nemtsov]."
© Photo AP/Pavel Golovkin