The Russia-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO, include Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Tajikistan) has started military exercises in Kyrgyzstan it says are needed in response to the ongoing situation in Afghanistan. Last month, Russia held two separate joint military drills with Tajikistan and Uzbekistan near the Afghan border. Central Asians states bordering Afghanistan are concerned about security threats emanating from the war-torn country and the potential for tens of thousands of refugees to pour over the border.
The Russia-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) says it plans to conduct military exercises in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan due to the ongoing situation in Afghanistan. There were already war game conducted against the background of the aggravation of the situation and the threat of penetration of radical terrorist groups into the border countries of the Central Asian region.
Anti-Russian Attacks In Kazakhstan & Kyrgyzstan Are A New Hybrid War Threat
23 AUGUST 2021
These countries’ leaderships appreciate their strategic relations with Russia and are also keenly aware of the serious Hybrid War threat that those provocations pose to their domestic stability.
Some “nationalist activists” in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan have recently taken to attacking those of their compatriots who address them in Russian, prompting condemnation from Moscow and stern responses from their governments against this worrying HybridWar threat. Kazakhstan is a much more multicultural society than Kyrgyzstan due to its significant Russian minority while the latter can best be described as a constellation of various clans who mostly all share the same ethnicity (except in the Fergana Valley where many of the Uzbek minority reside). Both of these Central Asian Republics (CARs) are Russia’s mutual defense allies through the CSTO and also participate in the Moscow-led Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU). Russia is therefore very concerned about its ethnic compatriots and others who speak its language being brutally attacked there.
It remains unclear whether the “nationalist activists” responsible for these crimes are connected to foreign NGOs or intelligence agencies, but they nevertheless constitute a serious regional security threat which could advance American strategic interests if it isn’t soon checked before spiraling out of control. The brief Trump Era was characterized by a resurgence of nationalist sentiment across the world, the origins of which predated his ascent to power and its consequences will long outlast his departure because it embodies preexisting trends in countless societies. It’s first and foremost a reaction to the previously unchecked liberal-globalist processes that swept the planet during the short period of unipolarity but varying degrees of support have been provided to different movements by foreign actors over the years in order to advance their divide-and-rule interests.
In the Central Asian context, the US has every reason not to want this geostrategic region in the middle of the Eurasian Heartland to serve as the convergence point of the many multipolar processes jointly pioneered by Russia and China, particularly connectivity ones related to synchronization of Moscow’s EAEU and Beijing’s Belt & Road Initiative (BRI). There have already been some violent Sinophobic incidents in reaction to what some claim (whether truthfully, falsely, or in an exaggerated manner) are the local economic consequences of many low-cost Chinese products entering their marketplaces and certain BRI contracts being carried out by Chinese workers instead of their own compatriots, but locals haven’t ever really had a problem with Russia’s legacy of influence there.
This is a pretty new phenomenon, especially in multicultural Kazakhstan, which is why Russia is so concerned. Provocations such as these can quickly spiral out of control since the actors participating in them are presumed to be autonomous and can therefore behave in unpredictable ways. Furthermore, the proliferation of cell phones and social media mean that even relatively minor incidents can spark larger crises, especially if the footage or photos are deceptively misportrayed to the public. Kyrgyzstan is particularly vulnerable to this considering its clan-centric society wherein even the smallest of slights against one group can quickly explode into major clashes between each party’s extended network of supporters. These preexisting socio-technological dynamics make Central Asia especially vulnerable to these sorts of “nationalist”-driven Hybrid War threats.
Considering the mutually beneficial relationship between those countries and Russia, as well as the role that the Russian language plays in both of those CARs for facilitating intercultural communication and enhancing one’s job prospects (especially abroad in the Kyrgyz case since many of its citizens migrate to Russia for work), it can be concluded that these so-called “nationalist activists” do not genuinely represent the grassroots will of their societies. Rather, they’re ultra-radical manifestations of preexisting nationalist trends within their countries and are obsessed with provoking inter-ethnic and consequently international crises on this ideological basis. They hope to place their governments in a dilemma whereby they either submit to these extremists and lose Russian support or defend multiculturalism and then be accused of “selling out” their people.
Nur-Sultan (the recently renamed capital of Kazakhstan formerly known as Astana) and Bishkek have thus far responded to these provocations properly by declaring the perpetrators’ actions to be unacceptable. They’re sending unambiguous signals that they won’t be tolerated whatsoever at all but fiercely suppressed anytime and anywhere they occur. These countries’ leaderships appreciate their strategic relations with Russia and are also keenly aware of the serious Hybrid War threat that those provocations pose to their domestic stability. Investigations should be commenced to determine determine whether these “nationalist activists” are connected to foreign NGOs or intelligence agencies, the outcome of which will show that these are either “lone wolf” radicals or another country’s proxies and thus help to fine-tune the state’s response to them.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kyrgyzstan expressed protest against illegal actions of Tajikistan after containers were put up and a significant amount of military personnel and military vehicles were deployed in undelimited border zone in Unzhu-Bulak area of Chon Alay district of Osh region.
Kyrgyz and Tajik officials have agreed to jointly control along a disputed segment of the border to ease tensions following deadly clashes late last month. The situation is particularly complicated near the numerous exclaves in the volatile Ferghana Valley, where the borders of Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan meet.
CHINA- KYRGYZSTAN:China is willing to strengthen strategic coordination with Kyrgyzstan in regional and international affairs, and warned it´s oppose to any external forces interfering in Kyrgyzstan’s internal affairs. Kyrgyzstan, for its part, will continue to fully support China on issues related to the country’s core interests such as Taiwan, Xinjiang, Tibet, Hong Kong and separatism.
KYRGYZSTAN:Kyrgyzstan´s political instability (protests erupted following Kyrgyzstan’s disputed election) could affect the relationship between these countries with external actors, mainly Russia and China, experts warned. They also warned that if political or social instability spread through Central Asia “the strategic, energy, political and security interest of China and Russia will be affected, especially the regional security architecture, which is based on Russia as a security provider. China, because of its Belt and Road corridor in the region.
RUSSIA AND PARTNERS:Russian President Vladimir Putin has said -during an online summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization– “attempts to exert foreign pressure” in Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, and Moldova are “unacceptable.” Regarding Belarus, he assured they are experiencing unprecedented pressure, stand against sanctions and provocations unleashed on them through an information and propaganda war.
Why Wasn’t There Any Post-Election Turmoil In Tajikistan?
16 OCTOBER 2020
Unlike fellow former Soviet Republics Belarus and even neighboring Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan’s latest elections didn’t result in any turmoil even though one might have expected it to have due to some similarly discernible risk factors, but that wasn’t the case (at least not yet) for five primary reasons.
Tajikistan’s latest elections came and went without any turmoil unlike the recent ones in fellow former Soviet Republics Belarus and even neighboring Kyrgyzstan, the first of which is now in the midst of an ever-intensifying Color Revolutionwhile the latter just experienced a successful regime change operationwhich led to the president’s resignation. Some observers expected Tajikistan to follow in their footsteps, especially since it has some similarly discernible risk factors such as a long-serving ruler, an impoverished population (even before the onset of WorldWarC), and a history of internationally criticized election results (to put it mildly). The very fact that this wasn’t the case, however (at least not yet), can be attributed to five primary factors:
* Lucid Memories Of The Former Civil War Deter Regime Change Scenarios
Tajikistan’s former civil war from 1992-1997 was a complex conflict with regional, clan, and religious dimensions. It’s estimated to have killed at least 65,000 people and internally displaced 20% of the population. President Rahmon, who first took office at the beginning of the conflict, still rules the country to this day. Although some members of the population might still be unhappy with him or eventually became fatigued after his nearly three-decade-long rule, they all remember what a tragedy the civil war was and few want to risk doing anything that could repeat it, such as unleashing a Color Revolution or returning to anti-state militancy.
* Afghanistan’s ISIS-K Threat Reminds Everyone Why Stability Is So Important
Even among those “well-intended” members of society who might silently wish for profound political change, they’re keenly aware of the ISIS-K terrorist threat in neighboring Afghanistan. In the event that Tajikistan is destabilized because of post-electoral unrest, the world’s most notorious terrorist group might be able to more easily exploit events in order to establish a territorial foothold in Central Asia. Lucid memories of the former civil war already act as a powerful regime change deterrent for many, but for the most “passionate” among them who might still clamor for change, then the threat of ISIS-K might deter all but the most radical “activists”.
* The “Islamic Renaissance Party” Is Banned & Foreign-Linked NGOs Are Regulated
The “Islamic Renaissance Party” (IRP) played a key role supporting the opposition during the civil war and resultantly earned the right to be legalized as the only such Islamist party in the region after the conflict ended. It was once again banned five years ago and subsequently linked to several terrorist attacks in the country. Some Westerners argue that banning it radicalizes its members, but one can also argue that the IRP was already becoming a front for radical goals. Tajikistan’s regulation of foreign-linked NGOs complemented its crackdown on the IRP by reducing external influence over its domestic political processes, thus stabilizing the state.
* Tajikistan’s “Strongman” System Keeps Regional & Clan Conflicts Under Control
Objectively speaking, Tajikistan’s contemporary politics are a textbook example of a “strongman” system. President Rahmon has thus far succeeded in keeping regional and clan conflicts under control unlike neighboring Kyrgyzstan which jettisoned its “strongman” model after its Color Revolutions in 2005 and 2010. As can now be seen, so-called “democratic” Kyrgyzstan (as described by its many NGOs’ Western patrons) is much more unstable than “strongman” Tajikistan, which vindicates many of the controversial moves that President Rahmon made during his time in office. To his credit, he’s kept the peace for almost a quarter of a century.
* Russian Intelligence Likely Has Greater Freedom To Thwart Hybrid War Threats
Tajikistan is Russia’s first line of defense from Afghan-emanating HybridWar threats, both those related to ISIS terrorism and also the “Weapons of Mass Migration” which might be driven from the Central Asian region to the Eurasian Great Power due to the first-mentioned trigger factor. It’s likely a lot easier for Russian intelligence to thwart these threats by cooperating real closely with its political allies within a “strongman” system compared to a “democratic” one like in Kyrgyzstan. It therefore can’t be ruled out that Russia played a leading role behind the scenes in ensuring that there wasn’t any post-election turmoil in Tajikistan.
The five primary factors that were elaborated upon above help explain why Tajikistan didn’t become destabilized after its latest election unlike Belarus and Kyrgyzstan. That said, instability might eventually erupt in the country if the younger generation has little to no memory of the civil war and becomes politically and/or religiously radicalized through the internet. It’s difficult for a faraway observer such as the author to measure those variables, though they mustn’t be discounted in principle since they represent latent threats that could spiral out of control if left unchecked. One should assume that there are domestic and external forces interested in exploiting them, but the speculated role that Russian intelligence plays in securing the country’s political stability should hopefully suffice for ensuring that no such dark scenarios transpire anytime soon.