Vladimir Lepekhin, head of the Institute of the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) «С5+1»: the USA-led alternative of the SCO / SCO Shanghai Cooperation Organization

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«С5+1»: the USA-led alternative of the SCO
08.06.2018 16:17 Vladimir Lepekhin, head of the Institute of the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU)

In 2017 the USA State Department showed its growing interest to «С5+1» program, where C5 means the five major Central Asia states, and 1 means USA. But why is Trump's administration so concerned about this program? USA aiming to surround Iran from all directions, including Central Asia, is one of the reasons. Another reason that is actually more valuable is controlling states of that region and prevent them from participating in concurrent shared projects, pushed by Russia, China, and Iran (including SCO and EEU). However, the «С5+1» program declared objective is establishing security cooperation to prevent the rising terror threat from Afghan territory.

In advance of the Qingdao SCO summit to be held in June 2018, Washington DC intensifies its efforts in Central Asia region. For example, the head of the U.S Centrall Command, Joseph L. Votel arrived in Dushanbe on the May 11. The main reason of this visit was the rising level of Taliban threat near Tajikistan borders. Votel proposed a discussion with Tajik leaders considering joint fight against terrorism. However, this visit should be seen in the context of American intelligence agencies commitment to increase their influence in the most important state of Central Asia region, as US State Department believes.

First of all, Tajikistan shares long border with the most troubled Afghan areas and can be affected by possible provocations from its southern neighbor, which is overrun by US military. Thus, Tajikistan and the entire Central Asian region might be taken hostage by the newest US-led Islamic caliphate version.

Second, Russian border forces protect a part of the Tajik-Afghan border, and American intelligence agencies are eager to involve them in any kind of incident that will result in removing the Russian military base (in much the same way as happened in Georgia and, after the Yerevan revolution in April, might happen in Armenia) as well as the Russian Space Control Facility in Tajikistan.

Third, due to the Tajikistan geographical position, various terrorist groups (such as the ones being currently transported from Syria) can invade other Central Asian states as well as China through Tajikistan territory. That's the reason why Beijing, Kabul, Islamabad, and Dushanbe in August 2016 created a "coordinating mechanism" to fight against terrorism. And may I add: not only to fight against terrorism, but to counter the US hegemonic plans in the region.

Finally, the Tajik opposition press alleges, that the Tajik people are tired of Emomali Rahmon being a President for a 23-year period. This is an important enabling factor for Tajik "color revolution" from the standpoint of US professionals to undertake revolutions.

In 2011 the US State Department and the Secretary of States Hillary Clinton were trying to pit Tajikistan and Uzbekistan by pledging US support to both countries as long as their "water issue" conflict escalates. Eventually they failed. This time it seems like US Government is trying to start a new game with the same cards: intimidating the elite of the Central Asia states (for instance, the Kazakhstan funds of $22 bln were freezed in US last December) on one hand and lure them to partnership with West on the other.

And US politicians have already placed a bone of contention in this region: they guaranteed the «С5+1» summit funding to every participant, but the funds level depends on the degree of cooperation between Washington DC and each particular state. For instance, the State Department bureaucracy guaranteed the President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev during his visit to US in January, to provide a unique role to Kazakhstan in «С5+1» program, despite the fact that program's main target was Tajikistan. And finally, the "widest possible" cooperation was proposed to the Uzbekistan leader, Shavkat Mirziyoyev, as well, during his visit to US on the May 15-17.

Owing to the recent US-led revolution in Armenia, riots in Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan might follow, as many analysts believe. However, the Central Asia states authorities have already recognized the actual value of the US State Department "peacekeeping" intentions that support or even create various terrorist groups that could be used for blackmailing independent countries later.

Also, the influence of concurrent organizations, such as SCO and CSTO, that are the real guarantors of region collective security, could not be ignored. The SCO and CSTO participants obviously do not need any "help" from Western in the fight against terrorism.

However, we will definitely witness terrorists and US intelligence agencies provoking the Central Asia region states, although their elites will hardly switch their geopolitical orientation. Participating in the SCO represents the strategic and civilizational choice of the state. I expect that the upcoming Qingdao Shanghai Cooperation Organization Summit in June will confirm these choices once again.

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