The Cocaine Highway–Borderland Beat

The Cocaine Highway

Reporter Arm Chair

By ACI for Borderland Beat

It all begins in the steamy mountains of Colombia, up mist covered hills, hidden under the lush canopy of forests; a plant is being cultivated.  The farmer growing the plant knows little of the journey his crop will take.  This is an examination of that journey.
Every day from his humble one room shack nestled in one of Colombia’s many rural departments, he waters and tends to his crop.  If he is lucky enough to survive the weather or the fumigation from government planes he is able to harvest.  After he harvests his crop he must go through the laborious and time consuming effort of converting the leaves into what is known as coca base.  After his work is through he looks at his harvest and thinks of how lucky he is.  This should provide just enough money for his family survives till the next crop is ready.
He meets a man known locally as El Leche at local village, El Leche is a known as a go between for the farmer and the FARC.  He meets with the farmer and pays him his salary for his work.  He tells the man he will be sending some of his people to collect the base and that they will speak again soon.
Later at the man’s farm, a small armed group shows up at his shack to collect their payment.  They are all young, dressed in military fatigues, worn out boots and rifles rusted from the humid jungle heat.   They look tired and dirty, the result of living in the forest and moving from camp to camp.  These are the front line troops of one of the armed wings of the FARC.  The look tattered, paranoid and scared, they take the paste from the farmer and leave, vanishing back into the forest.

The small group consisting of both young men and women trek through the forest, each one listening for the nightmarish low thumping sound of helicopters in the distance.  They all seem on edge, they have spent too much time in the forest, moving from location to location, unable to enjoy the small luxuries we all take for granted.  If they stay in one spot for too long they may not see tomorrow.  So they trek on for what seems like miles.  After days of hellish hiking through dense and rugged terrain they approach a clearing; they have reached their destination, a large scale laboratory which sole purpose is refinement of the coca base into cocaine.
As the walk up to the compound it is easy to see the many guards standing around with their assault rifle at their sides.  The group drops off their merchandise and once again vanishes into the mist of the jungle.  This factory is run by the Rastrojos, a group which was formed out of the now defunct AUC.  These labs are known as high value targets for the Colombian Government and are often targets of the US/Colombian effort to eradicate the production of cocaine.

Once the coca base has been converted in to what most would recognize as cocaine it is pressed into blocks and loaded on to a beat up, rusty truck.  Smoke pours out the back as the truck is barley able to turn over its engine.  Loaded up with its precious cargo, the overworked truck rumbles down the precarious road towards the mangrove swamps to the north.
There waiting for them in the cover of the mangroves is what could only be described as a testament to the shear will of the traffickers; a fully submersible submarine.  The ship has a crew of 3 and they are all waiting on this payloads arrival.  Everyone starts packing the cramped space with as much cocaine as would fit.  The journey ahead for these sailors will not be easy.   They will be out in the open ocean for days with no one but themselves to insure delivery of the product.  In this cramped space the men will have to navigate the thousand mile journey to Guatemala, their final destination.
After docking in a remote region of Guatemala the shipment is unloaded to group who works for a family known as the Lorenzanas.  The Lorenzanes are intermediaries whose sole purpose is to move the product from one end of the country to the other.  Guatemalan Soldiers provide them with security.  This is generally the smooth part of the operation with little risk due to the deep ties the family has fostered within the government.  Once the shipment has been moved, contact will made with a coordinator of the Sinaloa Cartel, one of the largest cartels in Mexico.  Arrangements will be made to move the contraband into Mexico.
Once inside Mexico, our shipment will traverse the country, making several stops along the way, all the while being broken up into smaller parcels and given to different plaza leaders.  The broken down shipments are then housed in safe houses until they are ready to be moved towards the border with the US.  These leaders are responsible for ensuring the distribution of the product along the various parts of the border which the Sinaloa Cartel controls.
Various methods will then be utilized to move the product across the border and into the United States.  Each area has a variety of ways of managing this; some techniques are locally based while others are used throughout the border region.  In the area of Arizona, where our shipment has arrived; has been using an innovative way of crossing drugs; remote controlled toy airplanes.  They are too small for radar to pick up and can been flown for some distance, it is a highly effective method of smuggling.  Our Kilo is taped to the bottom of one of these planes and flown to spotter on the other side.  GPS is often used to locate the planes once they have crossed the border.  Throughout this whole process those responsible watch in the shadows making sure everything runs smooth.  They know that if a load doesn’t make it, they will be left with the bill.  Spotters and decoys are used to throw off law enforcement and further the odds of success.
Once a load has successfully crossed the US border the shipment is then taken to safe houses located in regional distribution points.  In the case of our load it ended up in Nogales, Arizona.  Given its close proximity to the border and national highway system, Nogales makes for a perfect place to stash this shipment.  From here the shipment is further divided and sent to different regions, each run by cartel distributers.  The kilo we have been watching eventually ends up in Chicago.  It is sold to someone who only deals in bulk, several kilos or more.  It then gets broken down further and sold to street gangs which then sell to the end users.

This is the journey of how one kilogram of cocaine makes on its way to the consumer.  It involves the effort of thousands and the complicity of many more.  Its journey led through multiple countries; it flew, floated, was driven and carried; it traveled through jungles and seas, mountains and deserts, all to reach a consumer who doesn’t have the slightest idea of the blood that was split along the way, same as the farmer who grew it.  The illegalization of narcotics lead to all the blood in-between the two.  The farmer never wanted to shed blood, he just wanted to feed his family, and neither did the consumer who was just looking for a good time.  Both are blind to the destruction.  But those that are really blinded are those who think prohibition is worth the blood stained soil from which their policies stem from.  Only through truth can one clearly see the entire picture, we as world citizens need to weigh the cost verse benefits of our policies, for good intentions often come with unintended consequences.


Enhancing the combustible properties of the Caspian Sea

Enhances the combustible properties of the Caspian Sea

Michael Sheinkman

Ashgabat and Baku have not divided the Caspian Field

Relations between Baku and Ashgabat can go to the bottom. The Caspian Sea. This is where you can see the nature of the newly activated contradictions.

Oil slick

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, protested in connection with attempts to conduct seismic work in the field “Kapaz”. It is located on the border sectors of both countries in the Caspian Sea. This is not a diplomatic note, but the call of Ambassador to the Foreign Ministry and the notes outright dissatisfaction.

Baku believes that the agreement signed by Presidents Aliyev and Berdymukhammedov in 2008, crossing parts of the territories of the two countries should not be any activity in connection with the exploration and production as long as there will not be agreed upon issues related to the delimitation of the Caspian Sea . According to Azerbaijan, Ashgabat has violated the contract, did not act according to the rules and not by a neighbor, and therefore entitled to Baku to take appropriate measures to protect its sovereign interests.

Experts believe that while we are talking exclusively about the political and diplomatic reaction. Although the parties have already had a precedent, when they suddenly no meaning, began to strengthen its military presence in the Caspian Sea. It was then that Berdymukhamedov has decided to create his own navy. And their determination to quickly illustrated the acquisition of a small but mobile fleet. Azerbaijan, too, just in case intensified in the area.

Experts, however, and then thought up the hot phase will not come. Although it is flammable, and the sea, but the light it hurt sanity and neighbors. Professionals are not inclined to dramatize the situation now. Anyway, Azerbaijan, has entered into a tough phase of confrontation with Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh, another smoldering tension does no good. Although outwardly it looks quite serious.

However, despite the apparent suddenness of this turn of events, and the reaction of Baku said that he was in such a scenario is clearly not ready, this exacerbation, probably should be expected. Undivided Caspian Sea, after the collapse of the Soviet Union deprived of legal status – a sea of contradictions. And the sea of desires, often exclusive to each other.

For example, deposit, which is due to the conflict broke out between Baku and Ashgabat, only for Azerbaijan “Kapaz”, and for Turkmenistan – “Serdar”. And it’s not just a different interpretation. For each of them in the name of its geography and its place of residence. Because they call it differently, that the same estimate.

According to official figures and those and other stocks of this site is pulling in 50 million tons of oil. In doing so, they converge. And already in the diplomatic clinch. In 2009, Turkmenistan announced the possibility of further bilateral talks with Azerbaijan on the Caspian Sea oil fields. How Berdimuhamedov said at the time, there are several “good options” for a compromise. Apparently, not quite so good they were.

It is possible that the sea state gets from the outside. And not only at the level of non-public provocation. To them it is possible to include the work of a notorious West’s flirtation with the two capitals of the Caspian, which can not push them to more decisive action in an effort to stake a claim for an oil-bearing territory. Not long ago, a senior EU frankly said that the lack of legal status of Caspian Sea allows anyone to develop its deposits.

You can not reliably assert that the West is interested in pushing the littoral states at loggerheads. But if a regime of the Caspian oil rush that each was guided only by their own interests, you get the very turbid water, where you can catch the fish. Moscow declared that under no circumstances would not allow the introduction into the region of new players. By the way, Russia is seriously increased the Caspian Flotilla. Also, just in case.

The expert of the Russian Institute of Strategic Studies (RISS) Ajdar Kurts will continue.

Sheinkman: This is not the first conflict between the Caspian Baku and Ashgabat. How do you feel now, as all serious?

Kurts: The fact that the relations between Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan in the post-Soviet time evolved quite easy. Maritime border between Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan have not yet determined. From my point of view, there is still more arguments in the dispute on the side of Turkmenistan, as he stands on positions that need to measure the border line of the coast or from the islands, which are located in the Caspian Sea. So usually come in international law.

However, Azerbaijan believes in its own way, of course, trying to field all disputes remained in his area. All negotiations (as they often were, not one, not twice, but dozens of times) to anything concrete failed. All are on their hard-line stance, despite the ethnic, confessional intimacy of the two neighboring states.

I think that the current scandal shows that the new sovereign state, having received independence, not always correctly understand international relations, which are all over the world in which the parties must cooperate, rather than butting each other.

Sheinkman: We are just part of the second embodiment. Azerbaijan has already announced that reserves the right to a response action to protect its sovereignty. That it can be to do? How far will this conflict?

Kurts: As a rule, this language means a lot, up to hint at the possibility of sending naval forces in the area of potential conflict to discourage economic activity in Turkmenistan. In this respect, can not help but notice that both countries have naval forces, but the truth, rather undeveloped.

Azerbaijan in military combat-ready aircraft has more than Turkmenistan. I would not like that it came to military conflict, the more that this option is extremely disadvantageous Baku on the grounds that, having not settled until the end of the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, the country absolutely no need to present themselves in the world as an aggressor, undertaking conflict in their potential eastern borders. But the rigidity of the statement says about it.

Source :: Radio “Voice of Russia”

Afghan Post 2014–5 Super-bases, Bagram, Jalalabad, Kandahar, Mazar-e Sharif and Shindand

US Afghan Campaign – Post 2014

By Imran Malik
US Afghan Campaign - Post 2014. 47363.jpeg

The geostrategic environment of Afghanistan and the South-Central Asian Region (SCAR) will undergo a massive paradigm shift come mid-2013. The US/NATO/ISAF Combine’s juggernaut would have come to a grinding halt and the forces would by then have ostensibly receded into the background pending their final egress from the war torn country/region.

But what would the US/NATO/ISAF Combine have to show for all its troubles in Afghanistan? What would it leave in its wake – apart from a geopolitical and geostrategic mess of gargantuan proportions! Quite like Iraq, the US/NATO/ISAF Combine will leave behind a country destroyed and devastated beyond redemption, a nation ripped and torn apart, traumatized and brutalized beyond healing and reconciliation, a region destabilized and polarized beyond extremes!  And US’ own reputation as a sensible, responsible and assertive Imperial Super Power – in tatters and beyond repair!

What pathetic, pitiful and pitiable returns for a labor of such arrogantly savage proportions!!

The Geopolitical Dimension: The remnants of the US/NATO/ISAF Combine will have little impact at the regional level. The withdrawal of the main occupation forces will however leave a gaping power vacuum in Afghanistan which regional forces will try to fill.

The Regional Scenario:  Powers like Russia, China, Iran, and Pakistan will mount direct/indirect challenges to the remnants of the US/NATO/ISAF Combine for influence there. None of Afghanistan’s neighbors is likely to intervene physically in that country however they will definitely want an Afghan   regime sympathetic to their own national interests. Thus this power struggle could emanate from beyond the borders of Afghanistan portending serious implications within. Pakistan and to some extent Iran have genuine interests in Afghanistan therefore their national interests will have to be secured in any/all dispensations for Afghanistan. Russia and China are getting more proactive there and the Central Asian Republics (CARs) are likely to follow their lead. A peripheral India, still lacking genuine credentials to project power, is most likely to sit on the fence and would be better off by just staying there.

The Shanghai Cooperation (SCO) Factor: This emerging geopolitical and geostrategic environment is ripe for the SCO to exploit. The SCO (with Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran as full members) must start exerting itself at the regional (read SCAR) level to the exclusion of all external powers and influences. It is absolutely imperative for the SCO to dominate, take charge and assume responsibility for SCAR – a region it must start relating to immediately! It must evolve, grow and emerge as a unified competing pole and countervailing force to the US-led West in the region. The SCO must be more proactively involved in the affairs of the SCAR and surroundings.

This will help secure the enormous mineral resources of the region for its people as well as giving it decisive control over the many East-West and North-South trade corridors (eg New Silk Road Project) and oil-gas pipelines (TAPI, IP) under consideration. The SCO must unambiguously declare and demonstrate that SCAR lies well within its sphere of influence and that it will henceforth contest any interference in this vital region! With the US already egressing from Afghanistan and “rebalancing” or “shifting pivot” to the Asia Pacific now perhaps would be the ideal time for the SCO to make its bid for the SCAR!

The Afghanistan-Afghan Nation Scenario: The US/NATO/ISAF Combine will probably hand over power to a Northern Alliance (NA) led Central Government in Kabul albeit with a very limited writ. It will be a blatantly unnatural political dispensation – a minority ruling over the majority (Pashtuns)!! Whither democracy?? An inevitable internecine power struggle will thus ensue at the domestic level.  Afghanistan and the Afghan nation would thus be fractured along many lines. The country is likely to be politically divided up between the NA in the North and West and the Pashtuns dominating the South and the East. And both sides and their allies will get involved in a debilitating and long power struggle attempting to widen their areas of influence and writ at the cost of the other.

Existing and emerging tribal, sectarian and ethnic divisions/affiliations will further complicate the scenario. External influences of Afghanistan’s neighbors, the presence of militant groups like the Al Qaeda, Afghan Taliban, Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) etc and interference by the remnants of the US/NATO/ISAF Combine will further polarize the Afghans. Thus a bewildering array of some mutually exclusive and some reinforcing fractures will emerge along which the Afghan body politic and the Afghan nation will be split up.

Numerous warlords and militant groups with their respective fiefdoms will emerge. There will be widespread chaos and a total loss of central command and control from Kabul. This phenomenon will have an extremely destabilizing and polarizing effect in the country, will lead to a civil war, could cause the balkanization of Afghanistan and could also encourage ethnic unifications across Afghanistan’s political borders with her neighbors – Pakistan (Pashtuns), Tajikistan (Tajiks), Turkmenistan (Turks/Turkmen), Iran (Shiites) et al. The destabilized country could splinter and send the region into a frenzied tailspin, a deathly vortex!!

The Strategic Dimension:  As the US/NATO/ISAF Combine exits from Afghanistan there would be a number of military/militant forces, inimical to one another, present in the country and the region.

The ANSF:  almost totally comprise of non-Pashtuns! The biggest dichotomy would be that the leadership in the ANSF would almost entirely rest with the NA sympathizers which could lead to a serious implosion once the stabilizing command and control factor of the US/NATO/ISAF is removed. The multi-ethnic nature of the ANSF will cause powerful centrifugal forces based on ethnic, sectarian, tribal and area leanings to seriously threaten the unity of the force. Whatever few Pashtuns that they may have recruited may either desert or turn out to be Taliban/Pashtun sympathizers. The issues of long term sustenance and maintenance of the force (US $ 4.1 billion per annum!) will be a serious concern too. This could well mean the difference between maintaining professional Afghan security forces or finding hundreds and thousands of quasi-trained, well-armed deserters/militants roaming the Afghan landscape seeking affiliations and trouble!

The Bases Factor: The ANSF will have the support of the remnants of the US/NATO/ISAF from five bases spread all around the country – Bagram, Jalalabad, Kandahar, Mazar-e Sharif and Shindand. So their immediate support will be limited to the number of US and Allied troops available at a particular base in the region! The order of battle of the US/NATO/ISAF remnants is likely to comprise drones, gunships, airpower, special operations forces, civilian contractors like Blackwater, Xe, etc and the intelligence agencies. Put together they will be a handful and will keep the pot boiling for long.  However the basic issue of supply routes, maintenance and sustenance of these bases will still remain to be crucial.

The Militant Factor: These Afghan and US/NATO/ISAF forces are likely to be opposed by the remnants of Al Qaeda (AQ), the Haqqani Network (HN), some elements of the TTP and most importantly by the majority Afghan population, the Pashtuns. The US bases are likely to be isolated and then reduced piecemeal by the Afghans who are historically known to employ the tactics of siege, intrigue, conspiracy, treachery, raids, ambushes, IEDs and outright attacks to defeat their enemies. Their patience and ingenuity in such affairs is legendary. These bases are going to stick out like isolated sore thumbs on the Afghan landscape and will be under constant siege/attack!

The Pakistan Factor:  In the US-Pakistan context relations have probably hit rock bottom. US arrogance and intransigence have transformed this once major non-NATO ally into a virtual enemy! How has this rapid transformation come about? It was always on the cards for two major reasons. One, the US has never been a reliable ally to Pakistan (flashback 1965, 1971, 1989) or to anyone anywhere in the world except Israel and itself. Two, there was never any convergence of strategic aims and objectives in the Afghan campaign between the two therefore there could not have been any compatible convergences at the tactical level either. So, despite the political rhetoric by both sides the US’ Afghan campaign was actually doomed from the outset. And that is how it will end.

Pakistan is likely to suffer further on two major accounts. Firstly, it will be ironically and unfairly made the scapegoat for US’ ignominious failure and defeat in Afghanistan. Secondly, Pakistan could suffer US cross border operations during the period leading upto US’ final withdrawal in 2014, still two and a half years away! More “Abbotabads” may be in the offing to get militant leaders like Al Zawahiri and Mullah Omar. The US (other NATO/ISAF countries may balk at this idea) could also carry out arrogant cross border operations (a final kick) in North Waziristan Agency (NWA) or even Balochistan or even at some nuclear sites, just prior to its final departure. Its strategic implications and Pakistan’s responses are thus far unpredictable! They could take any form, shape, scope and/or dimension!!

Come end 2014, the US would be defeated, piqued, hurt, angry, bitter and perhaps on the prowl, too!

Pakistan, the SCAR and the world, beware!!

Imran Malik

The author is a retired Brigadier from the Pakistan Army and a former Defense  Attache’ to Australia and New Zealand

CENTCOM Picking SCO Brains Over Peace Mission 2012 Exercises

State Dept. Russian Agitators Afraid To Support US Position On Syria

Why are Russia’s Protest Leaders Silent on Syria?

RIA Novosti

Why are Russia's Protest Leaders Silent on Syria?

Why are Russia’s Protest Leaders Silent on Syria?

MOSCOW, June 14 (Marc Bennetts, RIA Novosti)

As Russia faces growing international pressure over its alleged support for the embattled regime in Syria, the Kremlin’s stance on the crisis in the Middle East country has remained a virtual non-topic at home, with both anti-Putin protest leaders and independent media largely silent on the issue.

That’s not to say, though, that the leaders of recent mass protests against the 12-year-old rule of President Vladimir Putin are indifferent to the ongoing bloodshed in Syria and continuing Russian arms deliveries to Damascus.

“This is an absolutely short-sighted policy that will see Russia lose whatever influence it still has in the Middle East,” said Boris Nemtsov, Solidarity party leader and deputy prime minister under ex-President Boris Yeltsin.

”Putin is backing [Syrian President Bashar] Assad because he thinks he could be next,” Nemtsov told RIA Novosti. “He also sees it as a part of his battle with the United States, his long-time obsession.”

Fellow protest leader Yevgenia Chirikova was even more scathing on Putin’s policies on Syria – Russia’s sole remaining ally in the Arab world.

“I don’t have words to describe how wrong it is to sell arms to a dictator who shoots at his own people,” she said. “It’s also strange to hear the Kremlin say the Syrian people should decide their own destiny, when they don’t pay any attention at all to the wishes of the Russian people.”

Russia – along with China – has twice vetoed United Nations resolutions against Syria over what it says is a pro-rebel bias. Putin has also made it clear that the Kremlin will not sanction UN military intervention to stop what Western powers say is the brutal suppression of the now 15-month uprising against Assad.

But Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said again on Wednesday that Russia had no special interest in seeing Assad remain in power. He also said that continuing weapons deliveries to Syria were of an “exclusively” defensive nature.

But Amnesty International slammed on Thursday Russia’s stance on the crisis, saying the Kremlin “bears a heavy responsibility for allowing the brutal crackdown on legitimate dissent in Syria to continue unchecked.”

Putin’s opponents looked unlikely however to use the criticism by the human rights organization as a stick with which to beat their arch-nemesis.

Ilya Yashin, a high-profile opposition figurehead who recently served ten days behind bars for protest-related offences, told RIA that while he was critical of Kremlin policy’s on Syria, he was wary about raising the issue.

“Personally, I think it’s a crime to sell arms to Assad. But I cannot speak for the entire opposition,” he said. “We are concentrating on domestic Russian politics, on the things that unite us all, rather than the things that we could quarrel over.”

“I realize, of course, that this is a very serious issue, but we have to concentrate on Russia, because there is a danger that things here could go the same way as in Syria,” he added.

And analyst Maria Lipman at the Moscow-based Carnegie Center think-tank suggested the anti-Putin protest leaders were perhaps reluctant to raise the issue of Syria for fear of alienating supporters.

“People in Russia don’t have such feelings that the country should side with the United States,” she said. “There is a lot of resentment in Russia about American policies. Going to an anti-Putin protest does not mean at all that you support the United States.”

“Anti-Putin rhetoric is what unites very diverse ideological groups,” she added. “To raise the issue of Syria would only emphasize this diversity.”

A significant proportion of the anti-Putin movement is made up of left-wing and hard-line Communist groups, all of whom are virulently opposed to what they see as an unacceptable U.S. hegemony in world affairs.

And veteran Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov, who finished a distant second to Putin at this year’s presidential polls, has more than toed the Kremlin line on Syria, accusing “Western special forces” of being behind last month’s massacre in the Syrian village of Houla.

The ongoing rallies against Putin have also seen the involvement of a number of nationalist and ultra-right groups.

Nationalist leader Vladimir Tor refrained from outright criticism of Kremlin policies on Syria, saying simply: “The fewer weapons there are in the Middle East, the better.”

But he also hit out at U.S. policies in the Middle East.

“If it is bad to sell arms to Syria, then it is also bad to sell arms to Israel. If it is bad for Iran to have a nuclear weapon, then it is bad for Israel to have one,” he told RIA. “This is an example of double standards.”

Russia’s opposition media, usually quick off the mark to criticize Putin, has also so far failed to address the Syria issue.

“This theme is, of course, interesting for our readers,” said Vitaly Yaroshevsky, deputy editor of the liberal Novaya Gazeta newspaper. “And we plan to cover the topic soon.”

He cited organizational difficulties for the failure of the paper, funded by former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and tycoon Alexander Lebedev, to focus on the Syria crisis.

“[But] our position is that there is no call to praise the Russian authorities over this,” he went on, adding that his own personal opinion was that the “international community can not turn a blind eye to the murder of peaceful civilians.”

Analyst Alexander Shumilin of Moscow’s Center for the Greater Middle East Conflicts told RIA after the killings in Houla that the vast majority of people in Russia had been convinced by state media that “terrorists” were to blame for such atrocities.

“Most people in Russia believe what state television tells them, that the massacre in Houla was carried out by terrorists and the West is trying to blame it all on Assad,” he said.

Manageable chaos: US goal in Central Asia

Manageable chaos: US goal in Central Asia

Manageable chaos: US goal in Central Asia

What methods does the US use to sideline Russia and China in the region? Alexander Knyazev, coordinator of regional programs, the Center for Studies of Central Asia, the Caucasus, Urals and Volga region, the Institute of Oriental Studies, the Russian Academy of Sciences, discusses this in his interview.

Q.: What is the reason for the United States’ excessive activity in Kyrgyzstan? How does it correlate with the popular opinion that chaos is where America is? How does this small country deserve this “honor”? What will be the outcome?

A.: Actually, Kyrgyzstan is not an end in itself. The US analytical and political circles have worked on the project of “Greater Middle East” for many years already; within it, there is the so-called project of Greater Central Asia.

All these projects and scenarios envisage redrawing huge regions on the world map. These scenarios assign the Kyrgyz part of the Fergana Valley the fate of Kosovo: it will be an enclave where crime, drugs and terrorist structures will concentrate. These strings will allow influencing the countries of the region, if necessary. In Europe, this function is performed by Kosovo – here you have the European drug dealing center under the roof of the US airbase Bondsteel, as well as trafficking in humans and human organs, smuggling of weapons – the entire range of the criminal market… By the way, the same fate is prepared for Libya, notably, for its eastern part where the so-called revolutionaries supported by the West are based.

Q.: Not so long ago, you said at an international conference that virtually any conflict in Kyrgyzstan threatens to become international…

A.: It is good that last year’s southern developments were localized, thanks to a large degree to Karimov’s generally correct policy. I believe that Tashkent understands clearly that any escalation of the conflict in the Fergana Valley is first of all aimed against Uzbekistan.

It should be remembered that historically, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan consists of President Islam Karimov’s former opposition. This tool is aimed against him, against Uzbekistan’s political regime, directly or indirectly. Naturally, Karimov is working to reduce the IMU’s activity in the region.

This, of course, doesn’t stop their transnational activities. Many of the IMU leaders have “practiced” in Chechnya. Last spring, they received powerful reinforcements from the Caucasus and Xinjiang – Chechens, Dagestanis, Uigurs… A universal tool.

Q.: Which is located not far away and is sure to take advantage of a shaky situation here or in our neighboring countries. Take Tajikistan as an example…

A.: Tajikistan in this respect is important and convenient, partially, as a transit territory. This territory has been marred by conflicts since the civil war of the 1990s, which was once again confirmed by last year’s developments in the Rasht Valley. The distance between the Afghan district of Darwaz on the Tajik border and the closest Kyrgyz settlement is about 1,500 km by road. This way has been repeatedly covered by terrorists and drug couriers. Dushanbe has never controlled this territory – Tavildara, Garm, Dzhirgital, the so-called ‘Karategin zone.” In the past, the Soviet Union managed to establish itself there only in the 1950s.

Apart from Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, Russia and Kazakhstan will not be able to stand back – de jure and de facto – as member states of the Collective Security Treaty Organization. In case of a conflict, both Russia and Kazakhstan will have to intervene in some or other way, be it political pressure or something different, up to the bringing of troops.

Q.: Can the latest developments in Libya have affected Central Asia in any way?

A.: Both Astana and Tajikistan must have learned from the Libyan events. Nazarbayev secured his position with an early election, which showed that there was no serious opposition. Uzbekistan must have reinforced the corresponding government structures. However, the attempts at playing multi-vector, hoping for America’s loyalty, are no longer feasible, especially for countries that don’t have resources; the time of such games is over. Playing friends with America is fraught with consequences: the example of Hosni Mubarak is very telling, and he used to be such a great friend of the United States.

What is important for the US now is rotation in itself. This means that loyal regimes that have been around for twenty years or more have to be replaced. Is there a guarantee that the same will not be done to Nazarbayev, for example?

Q.: But an attempt to overthrow him could bring about chaos.

A.: The US goal in Central Asia is to establish a manageable chaos. There will be a smoldering conflict in Kyrgyzstan, sometimes hidden, sometimes open… It is not difficult to manage it, by providing – or not providing – money and weapons. There are a lot of ways to regulate the activities of all these instigators, terrorists and so on.

Q.: What is the goal of managing chaos?

A.: A lot in today’s politics is determined by energy resources. A conflict is a way to manage energy flows. If there is a conflict in a region, the possibility of energy production (and especially, imports) falls drastically: who will invest in a pipeline going through a country at war?

Q.: Many countries intend to build pipelines in Central Asia. Almost all global players have their pipeline projects here.

A.: Now there is a trend towards hydrocarbon supply from Central Asia to China. One of the goals of the manageable chaos scenario is to preserve the region’s oil and gas reserves and not to allow their supply to rivals, i.e. to the Chinese market.

Yet another goal is to put indirect pressure on rival countries. Should there be a conflict, Russia and Kazakhstan will have to spend big, even colossal sums on their security, even if they do not get involved in the conflict directly. For example, China boosted the spending on infrastructure related to the safety of its borders with Kyrgyzstan several-fold after March 2005. Security is a very expensive pleasure, and if you recall that the Russian-Kazakh border is one of the longest in the world… Even Gazprom couldn’t afford to equip it properly…