The events in Kazakhstan conspired by the United States and the UK in January and the ongoing pressure of external factors experienced by the Central Asian region, primarily from the United States and a number of its Western allies, indicate the presence of continuing threats here. The escalation of US-Chinese conflict, and the special military operation of the Russian armed forces in Ukraine that started on February 24, have caused these threats to become even worse. In such circumstances, the region becomes one of the key platforms for the confrontation of the United States with Russia and China. The main aspect of this confrontation is the information warfare. Pro-Western non-governmental organizations and the media, sponsored by the United States and their allies, are taking active and systematic propaganda activities, spreading sharp criticism of Russia and China, and their integration projects implemented in the Central Asia.
At the same time, the “Western nations” do not hide their willingness to launch the “second front” against Russia and China in Central Asia. And a clear evidence of this intent is a high-level meeting held on February 28 online in the “C5+1” format which was urgently convened with the participation of the following foreign affairs authorities: Kazakhstan’s Mukhtar Tleuberdi, Kyrgyzstan’s Ruslan Kazakbaev, Tajikistan’s Sirojiddin Muhriddin, Turkmenistan’s Rashid Meredov, Uzbekistan’s Abdulaziz Kamilov, and US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken. As part of the context of the explicitly anti-Russia resolution on Ukraine initiated by the White House prior to the UN’s consideration, this online meeting had a clear goal to persuade the Central Asian states to change their political position to be closer to the United States and have them separated from Russia. After the countries in this region demonstrated their unwillingness to accept Washington’s position and the President of Kyrgyzstan Sadyr Zhaparov even expressed support for Russia’s special operation in Ukraine and Russia’s unhesitating actions to protect the civilian population of Donbass, the “Western nations” have shown their true face. In particular, the clear manifestation of this attitude was the proposal issued on March 1, by one of the members of the British Parliament, Margaret Hodge, who proposed to introduce sanctions against Kazakhstan “for supporting Putin.”
In this context, the West, led by Washington, is continuing its strategy aimed at destabilizing the situation in the EAEU countries. And the events in Kazakhstan which took place in January, can be considered as a “reconnaissance battle”, since Kazakhstan remains the most important regional resource of opportunities for slacking the situation in Russia – the other republics in the region, due to many objective reasons, have fewer opportunities to influence Russia, compared to Kazakhstan’s.
The Western nations are seeking to form a counterweight to Russia and China which will be primarily built around the value and ideological categories of modern international relations. At the same time, the sovereignty and independence of Central Asian countries are always mentioned by the western countries in the context of the “threat” allegedly posed by their cooperation with Russia, China and, to some extent, Iran.
The western nations cannot conceal the fact that their provocative policy is caused by the obvious degradation of traditional American partnerships in South Asia, which causes Washington to urgently seek cooperation with key Central Asian countries in managing the global energy market and taking control over the world trade routes. In addition, the United States needs some points of support to maintain their presence in Iraq and Syria, which points are still remaining, and in the Middle East and Asia in general. As there are fewer opportunities for establishing military bases in Iraq and in the Gulf states, Washington again needs some military anchor points in Central Asia from which it would be possible to exercise control over the region itself and the adjacent space.
Therefore, the United States have been fueling unrest in the areas and these anchor points using controlled NGOs, the media and the capabilities of American intelligence services, which they use to initiate conflicts and to exert pressure in the field of regional security, which subsequently poses a further threat to Russia, as well as to China.
In particular, the example of such an area is the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region of Tajikistan, where another escalation began in late November 2021, and has continued since then, and the leadership of Tajikistan does not seem to take any measures to find a solution to this problem.
In addition, there is a long-lasting conflict in the boundary area between Tajikistan with Kyrgyzstan, where shooting periodically occurs. No trend towards a positive, comprehensive resolution of the conflict is seen there too, at least within the next few years.
The potential for conflicts exists also in the Fergana Valley, and it is associated, in particular, with religious radicalism. The events which happened in 2005 in Andijan are considered to be of relatively local nature, but there is a potential risk of this conflict to continue, and it may be easily provoked to break out.
Besides the Fergana Valley, in Uzbekistan there is also another problematic area – Karakalpakstan with all its local problems, where the ethnic factor, in particular, can become a basis for the conflict. The United States has already prepared certain “forces” to incite this conflict, among which, for example, are corresponding online resources, which are backed by ethno-separatist activists in Europe, Turkey, as well as in Kazakhstan, the proponents of “Karakalpak independence.”
Some areas in Turkmenistan are also problematic, where the potential for the conflicts has a multi-layered nature.
It’s been almost three months since the crisis situation in Kazakhstan in January 2022 took place, when the radicals backed by the intelligence services tried to organize a coup, the seedlings of a neo-Russophobia are emerging again in the republic, with clear participation of the West. In particular, it was Kazakhstan where the largest anti-Russian rally in CIS took place and it was permitted by Kazakhstan authorities, although after Russia started a special operation in Ukraine on February 24, 2022, the Kazakhstan leadership has adhered to a policy of neutrality and called on the both parties of the conflict to have peaceful negotiations. The rally in Alma-Ata on March 6 was marked with the demonstration of Ukrainian flags and anti-Russian slogans. In fact, it began with greetings known to be used by pro-Hitler Ukrainian nationalists. This event was “coordinated” by the recently appointed Akim (head) of Alma-Ata, Yerbolat Dosayev, the organizer of this rally was anti-Russian political activist Daulet Abylkasymov, and one of the key speakers was the head of the US-funded Liberty Foundation, Galym Ageleulov. The nationalists have used their main weapon against the Russians — “language patrols”, seeking to ban the Russian language in Kazakhstan. These radicals visit retail stores, organizations, government structures and try to force others to speak only Kazakh language, which is illegal, since Russian language still has the status of the language of interethnic communication in the country.
In the context of convincing advantages of Russian weapons over the US ones, which was demonstrated by Moscow’s special operation aimed at denazification and demilitarization of Ukraine, the United States and its Western allies are clearly afraid to start armed confrontation with Russia. That is why they have been trying to create threats along the perimeter of the Russian borders, hoping that such actions will add problems for Moscow. However, both Washington and the “western nations” do not take into account that the era of the unipolar world is the past, as people in all countries have seen by numerous examples the true – aggressive and expansionist – goals of the US, and they are not ready to support this false American policy.
Vladimir Platov, expert on the Middle East, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.