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Daily News Analysis

Old game, new name in Central Asia and the Caucasus

Crescent International

How prepared are Islamic organizations to use the new emerging situation in the region.


January 30, 2013, 08:50 EST

The new treaty marketed as the joint armed forces of the Turkic-speaking countries with the participation of Azerbaijan, Turkey, Kyrgyzstan and Mongolia is a reactivation of the pan-Turkist project by the US to counter Russian influence in Eurasia.

On January 29 it became public that the founding conference of the so-called joint armed forces had taken place on January 23 during the meeting of the Eurasia Military Law Enforcement Bodies Association. The conference was attended by Azerbaijan’s Deputy Interior Minister, Zakir Hasanov, Turkish Gendarmerie Commander, General Bekir Kalyoncu and Commander of Kyrgyz Internal Troops, Colonel Sovetbek Arbaev and a delegation from Mongolia. The newly formed organization chose to use the first letter of each country’s name. Thus it is to be called TAKM, and selected the horse as its symbol.

The fact that TAKM was founded just a month after Russian President Vladimir Putin stated that building a Eurasian Union will be Russia’s foreign policy priority is clearly not a coincidence. The fact that the bloc consists of regimes sustained in power primarily through Western support is a sign that Washington and its allies are sending a signal to Moscow.

Most probably TAKM was planned a long time ago, as Putin has been mentioning his Eurasian ambitions for over two years. Nevertheless, its formalization at this point is a signal to Moscow that Western powers also have cards to play in Central Asia and the Caucasus.

The analysis of the history of post-Ottoman Turkey reveals that Washington has always utilized Turkey in Central Asia and the Caucasus through policies designed under the rubric of pan-Turkism. Western powers presented pan-Turkism as a concept serving Turkish national interests and as an opportunity for Turkey to become great once again. Therefore, one could not draw a distinction between the US, British, Israeli or Turkish agendas in Central Asia and the Caucasus. Turkey has been a pawn used by the US against China, Russia and Islamic Iran.

Under the concept of Pan-Turkism, NATO aims to foster separatism within Russia through the Turkic people living in Russia, China and Iran. This policy assumes that through Pan-Turkism, Russia will be distracted from its involvement in Eastern Europe; China would be diverted from the Taiwan Straits in the Pacific and Iran would scale back its support for the Palestinian cause. On a strategic level this policy has failed, but this is the only agenda through which Turkey was involved in Central Asia and the Caucasus.

It seems that the AKP government in Turkey could not design a new strategic concept to find a place for itself in Central Asia and the Caucasus. For more than 150 years, Pan-Turkism has been an integral part of Turkish involvement in the region. The AKP failed to reach a level where it could pursue a purely Islamic and independent agenda in its foreign policy. AKP’s pro-NATO position on Syria offers a clear example of this failure.

The creation of the new organization is unlikely to alter the strategic balance of power in Central Asia and the Caucasus in favor of the West. Moscow still possesses better leverages to destabilize anti-Russian schemes. Nevertheless, the new entity—TAKM—will force Iran, Russia and China to consolidate their policies in Central Asia and the Caucasus. This will further undermine Western designs. The result of such a power struggle will be the creation of a new environment that will be utilized by anti-regime forces in Azerbaijan and Kyrgyzstan. The question that Muslims must ask seriously is, how prepared are Islamic organizations to use the new emerging situation in the region.


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