09.07.2014 Author: Henry Kamens

“New Great Game” The Threat of the Turkic Council and ISIS

324234Turkey once had an empire. It knows the Ottoman Empire will never return. But in order to be the big political player its recent economic success demands, it has to be head of some international alliance, the modern equivalent of having an empire. The Turkic nations already work together, and it is not a pretty sight, and they even work with the US and NATO, and even less a pretty sight.

In 2009, after several previous attempts, it gathered Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan under its wing to form the Co-operation Council of Turkic States, or Turkic Council. Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, which are also linguistically and culturally Turkic, refused to join because they felt it compromised their neutrality, but the door has been left open.

The Turkic peoples generally consider themselves as one nation, and speak very similar languages, so this alliance makes sense for that reason. If you want friends, start with your own family. Turkey wants to be in charge of something because it thinks it’s the big noise in the region, the other members are ex-Soviet states struggling to build any new identity as long as it isn’t Russian. So such an alliance is both obvious and benign. Isn’t it?

A complex network of patronage links Turkish intelligence interests, for instance, Azerbaijan state oil company SOCAR, Kazakh businessmen who control ports, pipeliners and oil storage facilities throughout the region and the colour revolution agitators who, having succeeded in Georgia and Ukraine, ousted two regimes in Kyrgyzstan and replaced them with the same old crowd. Look at the lists of who is known to be involved with these interests, and who else they in turn are involved with – they can simply be googled.

This network has its fingers in weapons trafficking, ISIS terrorism and much of the other dirty business of today. But thanks to the Turkic Council, it has immunity from prosecution.

Based on the official documents at the Bundeswehr website the Black Sea town of Trabzon has been used as a logistics center for the Afghanistan theatre and for the backhaul of military equipment from there. This raises many questions, as too the same is happening in Georgia with US military equipment coming back from Afghanistan on the reverse Northern Supply Route and there is also a Saudi footprint with a nexus to Syria and Iraq, ISIS.

For instance the Leopard tank deal with Saudi-Arabia is in question since Gabriel (SPD) has taken over the Ministry of Economics. The Leo 2A7+ was developed for urban operations, but the Bundeswehr is short of money. It is only natural that Kraus-Maffei would be very interested to sell it otherwise. Informed sources within the Bundeswehr state that it is not the most suitable type of tank; there is no apparent need for such technology for NATO’s stated purposes

Regardless, Germany has had a large military-civilian advisory complex in Trabzon Turkey for over five years, maybe going on ten years, but high end for five.

Also, Germany despite the post WW2 decrees, was “enabled” to sell a shit load of their top Leopard tanks to the Saudis, it has been a big earner for the Fatherland.  The special leopard tanks are made for door-to-door city occupation fighting, i.e., urban warfare. So it has no tracks , and in light of current regional needs, this type of tank may end up carrying out offensive operations in a new theater of operation.

Any moral or legal concerns can be swept away by simple economics and that any action that the German military is doing is connected with fighting terrorism. It does not matter if that is true or not. It knows Turkey history well, dating back to the Armenian genocide, and how Turkey has swung between civilian and military rule, and both of these have been so antagonistic and corrupt that successive generations of politicians have been banned from standing again for certain periods.

Turkic Council has no substance

The Turkic Council has made clear that it will like to further co-ordinate the existing efforts of its members, or even call for morality at home, like any other international alliance.

So what are they all doing, or trying to do? Firstly, they have created façade democracies, and shown no interest in changing this situation. Although each of the member countries holds free elections their systems are still blatantly cronyistic, meaning they have the form of “good” democracies, but the substance of “bad” dictatorships, breeding grounds for those with greatest desire to mask bad intentions behind good reputations.

Azerbaijan has always been run by the Alievs, father and son, as a family business, while they frequently lecture the world on how many different meanings of the word “democracy” there are, for obvious reasons.

In wealthy Kazakhstan, joint 140th out of 177 countries in terms of government corruption, another elective dictatorship remains in power by buying the people off with energy company employment quotas. In Kyrgyzstan successive dictators Akayev and Bakiyev, who consolidated their power by amending the constitutions they were elected under, have been succeeded by Almazbek Atambayev, a veteran of both regimes, who like his predecessors has been accused by investors of the same “flagrant asset grabbing” which is proven to have netted them hundreds of millions of embezzled funds a year.

Thanks to the Turkic Council, this common character of state is being presented as the racial manifestation of the Turkic peoples. If you don’t like it, you are racist, even if you belong to the same race. So these states expect to do what they like because they are only being Turkic, and that isn’t worse than belonging to any other racial group.

Where the rest of the world fits in

In terms of foreign policy the Turkic Council states also have a distinct common factor. They all claim to be part of the War on Terrorism, and the US has important bases in Turkey and Kyrgyzstan. However they are also quite happy to promote terrorism through their network, as we are seeing in Iraq and Syria, as long as it serves their ultimate goal.

All the Turkic nations are either oil producers, oil extractors or have untapped reserves which could make them rich. Control the oil pipelines and you have more influence than force can buy. Wars can fuel economies and keep governments in power, but lack of oil for industry and homes destroys them. No country wants to be seen standing in the way of these developing countries and then be accused of being racist for doing so, and the Turkic Council knows that.

So what is being done to further this end? Look at what is going on in Georgia, as ever the regional hub for things you don’t want your grandmother to hear about. Turkey has always legally controlled the port of Batumi as a result of the Treaty of Kars, and Azerbaijan is the biggest player in the Georgian oil industry through SOCAR subsidiary SOCAR Georgia and ownership. It even controls the oil testing labs and can doctor test results without too much difficulty, and expedite illegal shipments of oil off the books, and we know where that goes, much to the Jewish State.

A great many of the former state businesses which have been privatised, and are commonly described in the Georgian press as “Russian owned”, are actually owned by Kazakhs with oil industry and intelligence connections, particularly in the port areas and along the routes of energy pipelines, actual and projected.

As stated in previous articles, a great many of the weapons being used in Iraq, Syria and other world trouble sports are moving through Georgian and Black Sea ports, transported by the same individuals. Turkish and US intelligence “have been” and “continue to be” involved in training and equipping the senior commanders of ISIS, which is led by a former Georgian soldier invalided-out as too sick for combat.

The Turkic nations, which are predominantly Moslem although officially secular, have unanimously supported the “Moslem cause”, meaning the rebel cause, in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and other countries. The reasoning behind this is that Islam is equated with being Turkic, even though the governments the rebels are fighting against are also Moslem. They continue to provide material support to “Moslem freedom fighters” around the world on this basis, including not only weapons but mercenaries and advisers, many of whom are again shipped there through Georgia.

Who cares?

This situation is convenient for the US, where these weapons and the political agendas behind them ultimately derive from, and for the Turkic nations themselves. If something goes wrong, each can blame the other, but if the schemes work they both stand to gain. This is why the US continues to equate “Islam” with “terrorism” whilst at the same time supporting radical Islamist militants: it gives them ready-made fall guys.

However there is some realisation of the threat posed by the Turkic Council playing an implied race card, even though no one can publicly oppose this. For example, the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has begun to massively fund SOCAR’s competitors in Georgia, even though there is already as much competition there as anywhere else.

EBRD has arranged to give Wissol Petroleum Georgia a $65 million syndicated loan to expand its network of compressed natural gas (CNG) filling stations. SOCAR has about 30 of these. On the face of it this is an environmental project, but there are a great many other such schemes which could be funded instead. A glance at other EBRD-funded projects, which all have strategic political significance acknowledged after the fact in project reports, indicates that its main function is to be a show of opposition to Turkic Council ambitions, much like the Moscow Olympic boycott of 1980, which did not save the life of a single Afghan.

The US is also making similar gestures. It is pretending to oppose what goes on in the Turkish ports by taking over the seas. The U.S. has funded a new Maritime Fusion Center in Supsa, Georgia. U.S. Ambassador Richard Norland said during a visit to it earlier this month,

“What we have been doing today here with developing Georgia’s maritime surveillance and operational capability is part of a broad effort to enhance Georgian law enforcement capabilities to deal with trafficking in narcotics, trafficking in persons, trafficking in contraband.”

Much of what is going on has a nexus to insurgents in Syria and Iraq, ISIS, and that is but the start. In Georgia, for instance, the Army Corps of Engineering such projects are active, aside from continuing to use the Georgian army as a reserve force. Other projects included alleged Export Control and Related Border Security (EXBS), Dept of State Program – Dredge Poti Harbor, Georgia, and the Supsa Fusion Center (Radar Station), Georgia

Recognition should be given how the world should have something to be concerned about, and especially now.

The big deal

The Turkic Council is a full political union; it is not there to celebrate the cultural heritage of its people, and stability pact but to pretend that everything their governments do has some sort of racial inevitability, and imply that any objection to it is lame, and you can’t fight with manifest destiny.

The same could be said of the Arab League. But the Arabs are far from being, or claiming to be, a single people, as Lawrence of Arabia found in his conflicts with the Ottoman Empire. This is reflected in the much looser organisation of that body: decisions are only binding on members who have voted for them, not all members. If the Turkic Council tried that, it would collapse overnight.

Similarly, opposition to one Arab country or government does not mean opposition to them all, and is not taken as such, even in Arab-Israeli relations. For the Turkic Council, an attack on one would have to be treated as an attack on Turks in general, or the Council would have nothing to say about it. If it didn’t say anything it would again collapse, and all its member states have too much to gain from its existence – i.e., eternal self-justification on racial grounds – to allow that to happen.

Few may notice the Turkic Council now, but its existence means we should all hope for benign leadership in these countries. It is supremely equipped to use global anti-racist discourse to destroy those who espouse it, and to defend its existence it may leave itself with no choice.

Maybe this is one of the reasons why Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan have not yet joined, America being another. As neutral countries, and therefore non-aggressive, they recognise playing a race card to justify dirty deeds is an aggressive act. Time will tell if the prospect of oil wealth will ultimately prove more important than funding the foreign meddling and proxy wars in the region, especially the proxy wars of the United States.

Henry Kamens, columnist, expert on Central Asia and Caucasus, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.