Monday, August 5, 2013

The New Great Game Round-Up #14
Christoph Germann, New Great Game, Aug 4 2013
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 US-dominated NATO, its GCC proxies, Russia, China and other regional players. The dispute between the US and Russia about Edward Snowden serves as perfect pretext for Washington to expedite NATO’s Cold War Revival. John McCain, famous for his warmongering and staunch support of terrorists from Libya to Syria, is leading the way:
McCain: Expand NATO, Missile Deployments To Punish Russia
John McCain disapproves whistleblower Edward Snowden’s newly-acquired asylum, and demands that Washington re-examine its relations with Moscow and “strip away the illusions that many Americans have had about Russia. We should push for the completion of all phases of our missile defense programs in Europe, and move expeditiously on another round of NATO expansion, including the Republic of Georgia,” the statement published on the Senator`s official website says.
It’s only a matter of time before the country at Russia’s southern border joins NATO. Georgian Defense Minister Irakli Alasania explained in a recent interview Tbilisi’s strategy for the accession to NATO and how to deal with the Kremlin during this progress:
Georgian Defense Minister Irakli Alasania: The Bug Pit Interview
“No one has any illusion that anything will change in the coming decade. So we have to wait them out, we have to outsmart them. We have to be patient,” he said. “Preparing ourselves means that we’re going to wait for the historic opportunity for this window to open up, as it did for the Baltics, then we’ll jump in.” He added, however, that he believed that Georgia would make some sort of concrete progress toward the alliance next year, though he said it was unclear what form that may take. Asked about key foreign partnerships as Georgia works to strengthen its military, Alasania highlighted four countries in particular: Turkey, Azerbaijan, Estonia and Israel. “It’s time to have a trilateral relationship on defense industry level with Azerbaijan and Turkey,” he said. In particular, Georgia is trying to learn from Azerbaijan’s recent efforts to develop an indigenous defense industry.
As Phil Giraldi reminds us, Turkey and Israel are the best choice if you want to get access to US weapons and military secrets:
In Sibel Edmonds’s day, the Turks and Israelis were under investigation by the FBI because US-made weapons incorporating restricted technologies were appearing in a number of countries not authorized to receive them, many of which were located in Central and South Asia as well as in Latin America. The weapons have also wound up in the hands of criminal cartels and narcotics traffickers, mingling arms sales with large-scale fraud, extortion, and drugs. The scale of Israeli legal and clandestine arms sales now appears to far exceed anything that might have been imagined at the time when Sibel Edmonds was translating documents. Israel’s state controller, to its credit, has reported that there are major deficiencies in the supervision of the country’s arms-exporting companies, suggesting further that there have been abuses as a result.
The Georgian government learned the hard way that certain business partners cannot be trusted and is no longer interested in Israeli drones:
Saakashvili Says Drones, Bought from Israel, were Compromised
President Saakashvili said on Jul 5 that surveillance drones, which his government bought from Israel before the war with Russia, were compromised as sensitive data became available to “adversary”. After WikiLeaks started releasing emails snatched by hackers from Stratfor in early 2012, an allegation emerged that surveillance drones, which Georgia bought from Israel were compromised after Israel and Russia made a swap: Israel gave Russia the ‘data link’ code for those specific unmanned aerial vehicle; in return, Russia gave Israel the codes for Iran’s Tor-M1 missile systems.
In response to this unpleasant experience, Georgia decided to build its own unmanned aerial vehicles. Drones are becoming increasingly popular with governments all over the world and a domestic UAV program is an option to consider since relying on Israel, the world’s largest drones exporter, proves to be dangerous. Russia is obviously not willing to take these risks and pushes its development of drones and combat robots as well:
Russia to fund drone development program through 2025
Think drones and robotic soldiers are limited to the US? Of course they aren’t. Now Russia, apparently concerned over the speed with which the US has automated its armed forces, is making a push to catch up in the combat robot race. The Russian Ministry of Defense approved funding for the development of combat robots through 2025. Shoigu deputy said that up to 30% of the US’s combat vehicles will be remote operated by 2020, which apparently is meant to imply that Russia really needs to catch up.
New technologies dominate warfare to a great extent. Especially the cyberspace is now a vital part of the battlefield and Moscow adresses the issue with a new cyber security doctrine while at the same time continuing the reform of Russia’s armed forces:
Russia Set to Create National Defense Center
According to the minister, the center will consolidate command over the country’s armed forces, especially the nuclear triad and rapid reaction forces. It will also allow real-time monitoring of day-to-day activities of military units around the country.
According to a recent poll by the state-run All-Russian Center for the Study of Public Opinion (VTsIOM), 35% of Russians think that the influx of other ethnicities is the most likely threat to national security. So there is no major opposition to the crackdown on migrants:
Over 1,700 Migrants Detained in Moscow Police Raid
The foreigners, who came from Turkey and Central Asian countries, were detained in northern Moscow and taken to police precincts “to be identified and checked for involvement in earlier crimes.” The raid is the latest in a campaign that officials say aims to “decriminalize” the city, and that has mainly targeted migrant workers.
Terrorist attacks are seen as “very likely” danger by 28% of the Russian population. But this number might increase if the focus shifts from the proxy war in Syria to Russia’s North Caucasus and more Jihadi fighters decide to support the between 150 and 200 militants, who are currently active in Dagestan:
Suspected Dagestani veteran of Syrian war returns without hand
Syrian Fighters Tell North Caucasus Muslims ‘Wage Jihad at Home!’
In a short video address dated Jul 30, a group of Syrian fighters has appealed to Muslims in the North Caucasus to wage Jihad in Russia rather than travel to Syria to participate in the fighting there. Specifically, they refer to the recent appeal by self-styled Caucasus Emirate leader Doku Umarov to prevent the holding of the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi in Feb 2014.
However, the terror problem is not limited to the North Caucasus:
Russian Reserve Army Officer Jailed for Organizing Terror Cell
A court-martial on Russia’s far east Sakhalin Island sentenced a reserve army captain to 1½ years in jail for setting up a cell of the banned Hizb ut-Tahrir, investigators said on Friday.
Hizb ut-Tahrir serves as conveyor belt for terrorists and poses a significant threat to Central Asia because it thrives on the critical socioeconomic conditions which persist in many countries in the region. Concerned by the security in Russia’s backyard, Putin offered Tajik Pres Rahmon his support at an official meeting between the two heads of state this week:

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