Monday, April 27, 2015

The New Great Game Round-Up #95

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.

Chechen Republic head Ramzan Kadyrov has been making headlines on a daily basis in recent weeks, in large part due to the assassination of Russian opposition politician Boris Nemtsov and the ensuing turf war between Kadyrov and elements in Russia's security apparatus. The investigation into the Nemtsov murder has turned the spotlight on Kadyrov's near limitless powers in Chechnya. This has long been a thorn in the side of some people in Moscow. Chechnya lives by different rules from the rest of Russia and investigators realized this lately when they tried to get access to suspect Ruslan Geremeev and his father, Federation Council member Sulieman Geremeev. But some people apparently didn't get the memo. On April 19, a suspected criminal was killed in Grozny during a special operation, which was carried out by members of the Stavropol police and Chechnya-based forces under the command of the federal government. Nobody deemed it necessary to inform the Chechen authorities of the operation and this didn't go down well with Kadyrov:
‘Shoot to kill’: Chechen leader’s row with Interior Ministry heats up

Tensions continue to rise between the Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov and the Russian Interior Ministry. It follows the killing of a Chechen native by police from another Russian region during arrest. Grozny has accused the ministry of distorting facts.

Kadyrov was outraged upon learning of the operation, as he said it was performed without the Chechen authorities being notified.

“I officially state that if [armed people] turn up on your territory without you knowing about this – be they Muscovites or Stavropol natives – shoot to kill. We should be reckoned with,” Kadyrov said during a meeting with Chechen security officials.

Monday, April 20, 2015

The New Great Game Round-Up #94

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.

While Russian President Vladimir Putin held his 13th annual question and answer marathon session, Moscow police raided the office of Mikhail Khodorkovsky's "Open Russia" organization. The search came as no real surprise. After all, the Russian authorities have every reason to keep a close eye on dubious activities of the disgraced oligarch, who is the West's dream candidate for replacing Putin. Khodorkovsky claimed that the real reason for the raid was Open Russia's planned documentary about the role of Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov in the current government system. Although Khodorkovsky's words should always be taken with a grain of salt, his statement makes sense. Kadyrov's place in the current system is a hot topic, especially in light of the assassination of Russian opposition politician Boris Nemtsov. As discussed in the latest episode of Porkins Great Game, there have been some indications that elements in the Russian security apparatus are trying to pin the Nemtsov killing on Kadyrov and his men. Recent developments confirm this assumption:
Zaur Dadaev: investigators demand to testify against Ruslan Geremeev

Shamsudin Tsakaev, an advocate of Zaur Dadaev, a defendant in the case of Boris Nemtsov's murder, requests investigators to re-interrogate his client. According to the advocate, Zaur Dadaev told him that the investigators forced him to testify against his colleague Ruslan Geremeev, the "RBC" reports. Initially, Zaur Dadaev has promised to show how Boris Nemtsov was murdered; however, the investigative experiment has failed, the "Rosbalt" reports.

Zaur Dadaev claims that after his detention in Ingushetia on March 5, he gave a confession. After that, he was brought by plane to Moscow, where the investigators forced him to testify against Ruslan Geremeev. According to him, the text given to him by the investigators in Moscow mentioned a man with the name "Rusik": a person, who allegedly provided a pistol and a car to commit the crime, the "RBC" reports today.

"There is no such person with the name Rusik. He is a mythical character invented by those who tortured me. I would never speak of Geremeev as 'Rusik', since for me, he is senior in rank and age," Zaur Dadaev told Shamsudin Tsakaev as quoted by the "RBC".

Monday, April 13, 2015

The New Great Game Round-Up #93

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 beginning of this year, China's state-run Global Times shed light on Turkey's role in smuggling Uyghur would-be terrorists out of the country and funneling them into Syria or Iraq. It is likely that Beijing made the story public to put pressure on Ankara in the ongoing tug-of-war between China and Turkey over Uyghur refugees in Thailand. But interestingly, the Chinese authorities haven't been the only ones to draw attention to this issue in recent months. In an interview with Turkish daily Hürriyet at the end of last year, Washington's favorite Uyghur leader Rebiya Kadeer complained that the Turkish government has ignored requests to take action against Turkey-based illegal human trafficking networks bringing Uyghurs to Syria and Iraq. AKP officials and the Islamist press responded by calling Kadeer "an infidel" and "an American agent for sale." The latter characterization is not exactly inappropriate and Kadeer's statement indicates that some people in Washington are willing to reveal information about Turkey's role in the East Turkestan project in order to settle a score with the Turkish government. A recent report in the newly launched newspaper of the Gülen movement supports this assumption:
ISIL recruits Chinese with fake Turkish passports from Istanbul

The Turkish daily Meydan has uncovered a network based out of Istanbul, recruiting and facilitating the transport of fighters from China’s autonomous Turkic Uighur Xinjiang region to Syria and Iraq.

The network is based out of Zeytinburnu, a district on Istanbul's European side which is home to a community of Uighurs who live in Turkey. It is headed by Nurali T, a businessman who has been facilitating the movement of Uighurs from China to Syria and Iraq via Turkey since 2011. He is known by his code name Abbas. An individual who works for him, AG, says that a total of 100,000 fake Turkish passports have been produced, 50,000 of which have been shipped to China to be handed to fighters recruited to join the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Porkins Great Game: Episode #6 - Kadyrov-FSB Turf War

On this edition of Porkins Great Game, Pearse Redmond and I focus on the assassination of Russian opposition politician Boris Nemtsov and the ensuing turf war between Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov and Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB). We also take a look at the Georgia-Ukraine connection and the recent attempt by former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili to launch a Maidan in Tbilisi. Afterwards, Pearse and I explain what has been going on the Turkmen-Afghan border lately and how Obama's decision to slow the U.S. "withdrawal" affects the Afghan peace talks. We end this episode with an update on the latest shenanigans of journalist/freedom fighter/CIA agent/filmmaker Matthew VanDyke.



Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The New Great Game Round-Up #92

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 ISIS threat in Afghanistan has been hyped by everyone and his brother ever since the first ISIS flag was seen in the war-torn country. It didn't take long before some insurgents left the Taliban to join the new hip terrorist group. As the rivalry between the two groups escalated, wannabe Caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi even went as far as calling Taliban leader Mullah Omar "a fool and illiterate warlord." Predictably, Mullah Omar didn't respond to the insult. The Taliban leader has not been seen or heard from in years, fueling speculation that he is already dead. This is now becoming a major problem for the Taliban because al-Baghdadi has declared himself "Caliph" of the world's Muslims, finding a sympathetic ear with more and more jihadists. In an effort to counter the growing influence of ISIS in Afghanistan and to remind the world that Mullah Omar is still relevant, the Taliban just published a 5,000-word biography of the reclusive Taliban leader but it is highly doubtful whether that will be enough to stop more insurgents from pledging allegiance to ISIS:

Uzbek Group In Afghanistan Pledge Allegiance To Islamic State
A group of Uzbeks in northern Afghanistan, claiming to be from the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), says it is pledging allegiance to the Islamic State extremist group.

A person calling himself Sadulla Urgenji said the IMU no longer views Taliban leader Mullah Omar as leader since he has not been seen for some 13 years and, "according to Shari'a," can no longer be leader.

Urgenji said his group was recognizing the authority of the Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, leader of the Islamic State group.