Friday, July 23, 2010

The South Country, Part 7

Not surprising...

First, we review the first half of What Role Did Crime Kingpins Play in Southern Kyrgyzstan’s Violence?, dated July 23, 2010:

Criminal networks have long maintained a strong presence in southern Kyrgyzstan, given the region's status as a trade hub. In the weeks since inter-ethnic violence in the region left hundreds dead, observers have been wondering about what role, if any, criminal groups played in stoking the violence?

Some experts believe that a breakdown of state authority in the region in the months leading up to the mid-June violence helped touch off an underworld turf war, which, in turn, played a key role in inciting broader inter-ethnic violence. Others say gangs simply reacted to the violence, using the inter-ethnic clashes as cover for their own actions, which were aimed at altering the local criminal balance-of-power.

Kyrgyzstan's criminal networks generally fit into one of two categories, local experts tell The first – prison-based hierarchical networks – comprise professional criminals who follow an established code of conduct. Kamchi Kolbaev, an ethnic Kyrgyz, was reportedly one of the most influential criminal figures in the South. Authorities detained him on June 16, days after the outbreak of inter-ethnic violence in Osh and Jalal-abad. He has been undergoing interrogations since then.

Athletes – sportsmen, in local parlance – form the second type of networks. These groups are widely believed to engage in racketeering, money laundering, drug trafficking and fraud. Their leaders reportedly fund youth sports clubs, leisure facilities and private enterprises to attract crowds of young and unemployed men.

Osh-based observers, speaking to on condition of anonymity due to fear of repercussions, say that while various links between the two types of networks exist, the sportsmen-led networks do not have the same kind of clearly delineated hierarchy and strong code of conduct that exists in the prison networks. Sportsmen are also known to lend muscle to Kyrgyz political factions during protests, and to form groups along ethnic lines.

"There is no doubt that criminals played a part [in the June 10-14 clashes]," said Abdurahman, an Osh-based expert on ethnic and religious tensions, who asked his surname not be printed.

Abdurahman suggested that the June 7 assassination of Aibek Mirsidikov – a drug lord also known as Black Aibek – was directly linked with the mid-June violence. A Jalal-abad based Kyrgyz criminal gang reportedly killed Mirsidikov, an Uzbek, to neutralize his Uzbek gang. Mirsidikov was believed to have played a role in fomenting protests in May, according to a report distributed by the news agency.

Sabyr, an economics professor at an Osh university who also spoke on the condition that only his first name is printed, contended that there was only tenuous evidence to support the hypothesis that criminal groups initiated the mid-June violence. But he acknowledged that former president Kurmanbek Bakiyev's demise destroyed a fragile balance and unleashed a power struggle among various criminal gangs.

"They have been clashing over control of the bazaars and drug trade for a long time," Sabyr said.

Recently, some government officials have faced allegations of involvement with criminal elements. Timur Kamchibekov and Bakyt Amanbaev, two former top officials in Osh’s municipal government accused Osh Mayor Melis Myrzakmatov of maintaining links with criminal gang members, reported on June 17. Myrzakmatov is a Bakiyev appointee whom the interim government appears unable to remove. He is also widely reviled in the Uzbek community.

Local criminals battling over turf, with the involvement of corrupt government officials (and a superpower or two)... now what blogger do I know who suggested this?

Next, an excerpt from The Pseudostate of Kyrgyzstan, dated July 16, 2010:

In recent years, ordinary citizens of the Republic have received daily surprises in the form of assassinations of members of parliament, businessmen and sports personalities; continual, ineptly hidden disputes among the elite; mob rule and corporate raids; and, more recently, ethnic riots in which hundreds of the country’s citizens are brutally murdered.

Conflict follows conflict without a break, and there is no end in sight. As the sad joke goes in Bishkek, "a brutal mob paid another working visit on Government House."

Everybody now knows that the criminal element facilitated both the first "revolution" (to a greater extent) and the second (to a lesser extent) with the resources and manpower needed to carry out protests and capture Government House. Therefore, it is not surprising that the criminal element has become a major component of everything that happens in the Republic. The hand of criminals can be clearly seen in the riots that took place in Osh, Jalal-Abad and near Suzak. And it appears that Kyrgyzstan's elite sees nothing out of the ordinary in that.

It looks like Bakiyev and his family were the instigators of what happened in southern Kyrgyzstan, but that is not certain. Perhaps even more to blame is the "new" government itself, which is capable of nothing more than idle talk.

A low-intensity civil war of the type seen in Central Asia is going on in Kyrgyzstan—ethnic violence. It is hardly the first in the region; it has been going on in the Ferghana Valley since the middle of the 19th century. In this case, incited by their own leaders and by Bakiyev's hired provocateurs, the Kyrgyz have been working off their frustrations over their poor economic conditions and robbing the slightly more affluent Uzbeks. In addition, for years homegrown ideologues have instilled ideas about the greatness of the Kyrgyz, Manas the Benevolent and their native land. They have been told that invading Sarts set their sights on it and that behind them looms the shadow of Tashkent (which has its own mythology about that great humanitarian consolidator, Tamerlane). Kyrgyz politics and politics in general are overly emotional and hysterical. As rightly noted by Russian analyst Vitaly Khlyupin, "For the most part, those who carried out the massacres in Osh are extremely cruel adolescents who do not understand anything or anybody and who got out of control. Only a very good machine gun can rein them in." The provocateurs got the ball rolling, but ordinary people carried on with enthusiasm and rage.

If you don't know about the Ferghana Valley, take my advice and research it. The United States will, in my opinion, not cease to exist prior to having to send troops there to fight.

Think about that comment.

The region is a crossroads for trade, most emphatically including illegal trade ("contraband"), including arms, people, controlled technologies and, of course, drugs - including opiates from Afghanistan.

The region is also a potential powderkeg due to the different ethnicities involved, and due to variations in culture, an important element of which is the Religion of Peace.

Consequently, there is a potent mix of business opportunities - on whatever side of the law - and corruption and influence-peddling to control it, all set against a volatile ethnic and ideological background, in a region contested by all the world's powers.

Next, we consider an excerpt from Kyrgyzstan Destined To Become Another Narco-State?, April 18, 2010:

First, Kyrgyzstan is indeed a country of unique geopolitical location. It encircles Fergana valley – a heavily populated oasis at the core of Central Asia, shared with Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. Besides the vital Russian interest to control Fergana as the first outpost defending vast and open deserts and steppes on the way to the Volga, all Chinese moves in Uyghur Autonomous Region can be easily monitored from Kyrgyz Tien Shan highlands as well. Perhaps that is the main reason why the USAF installed Manas military base few kilometers away from Bishkek soon after the start of NATO operations in Afghanistan in 2001. The base is still operating there in full fledge as the 'US military transit centre'.

Another key point is that since then Kyrgyzstan became the most notable hub for distribution of the Afghan drugs to Eurasian 'markets', a business that had multiplied in times under the NATO guardianship in Afghanistan. The town of Osh, the 'southern capital of Kyrgyzstan', has long ago become a major cross-point for the Great Heroin Way through non-controllable mountainous Tajik-Kyrgyz border and transparent way to the north-west. Most likely the illicit profits proceeding from narco-trafficking were the main sources of spectacular enrichment of Bakiev's clan during his presidency in 2005-2010. There were numerous evidences that the very arrival of Kurmanbek Bakiev to power in March 2005 as a result of 'Tulip revolution' was financed and supported by prosperous international narco-mafia. It is also notable that while in office Bakiev liquidated Kyrgyz Anti-Drug Agency.

As a matter of fact, Kyrgyzstan, once a 'model Central Asian democracy', as it used to be regarded in 1990s, and the first (!) post-Soviet state that joined WTO back in 1998, has ended up with two illegitimate coup d'etat in 5 years. It makes us believe that the events we witnessed in early April are only partly a result of mismanagement by the Kyrgyz ruling clan, their reckless appropriation of the state funds, international credits and national assets at the expense of their own people. We can assume that the tragedy in Kyrgyzstan reflects a wider diabolic strategy.

The theory of 'manageable chaos' as a perfect instrument for dominating the world 'after tomorrow' is thoroughly scrutinized by the leading Western minds and political practitioners. The old London’s and later Washington’s habit to impose 'puppet' dictators anywhere in the world has proved its ineffectiveness. Sooner or later the dictator starts playing his own game, as it was in case of Saddam Hussein. Much more promising are configurations with a sequence of weak and irresponsible ‘democratic’ governments holding office exclusively thanks to propaganda support from the media centers of global power. Such scheme allows maintaining 'controllable conflicts' in any zone, making up ideal environment for elusive 'terrorist cells' and drug cartels, targeting the strategic adversaries in the neighborhood.

Manageable chaos... an ideal environment for terrorist cells and drug cartels....

From Former FBI Translator Sibel Edmonds Calls Current 9/11 Investigation Inadequate by Jim Hogue, dated May 7, 2004:

JH: Here's a question that you might be able to answer: What is al-Qaeda?

SE: This is a very interesting and complex question. When you think of al-Qaeda, you are not thinking of al-Qaeda in terms of one particular country, or one particular organization. You are looking at this massive movement that stretches to tens and tens of countries. And it involves a lot of sub-organizations and sub-sub-organizations and branches and it's extremely complicated. So to just narrow it down and say al-Qaeda and the Saudis, or to say it's what they had at the camp in Afghanistan, is extremely misleading. And we don't hear the extent of the penetration that this organization and the sub-organizations have throughout the world, throughout their networks and throughout their various activities. It's extremely sophisticated. And then you involve a significant amount of money into this equation. Then things start getting a lot of overlap -- money laundering, and drugs and terrorist activities and their support networks converging in several points. That's what I'm trying to convey without being too specific. And this money travels. And you start trying to go to the root of it and it's getting into somebody's political campaign, and somebody's lobbying. And people don't want to be traced back to this money.

This is exactly what is going on in the Balkans, and in the Caucasus, and even in Latin America these days. In fact, down south, it isn't just terrorism, but Islamic terrorist organizations are getting a foothold, establishing themselves and making connections with the criminal underworld, preparing for their future jihad in the Americas.

And this criminal activity brings with it illicit money, and that money travels...

More to follow.

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