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Generational Dynamics Web Log for 8-Jan-2022
8-Jan-22 World View -- Kazakhstan protests threaten Russia-China stability in Central Asia

Web Log - January, 2022

8-Jan-22 World View -- Kazakhstan protests threaten Russia-China stability in Central Asia

Russia leads five CSTO nations in sending troops into Kazakhstan

by John J. Xenakis

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

Kazakhstan president orders shoot to kill peaceful protesters without warning


Kazakhstan map (BBC)
Kazakhstan map (BBC)

Protests began in western Kazakhstan over the weekend, and were triggered by the removal of government fuel subsidies and the resulting price rises. However, the protests spread quickly, across the country and over numerous other issues related to government corruption. The result is the worst riots since the country became independent after the collapse of the Soviet Union Empire in 1991.

Kazakhstan was ruled since independence by a dictator, ex-president Nursultan Nazarbayev, who selected his successor, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, in 2019. Nazarbayev has remained head of the country's Security Council after stepping down as president in 2019. Both Nazarbayev and Tokayev were and are unpopular and thought to be corrupt. There were widespread anti-government farmer riots in 2016 when the government announced a "land reform" program that would have permitted China's agriculture businesses to buy up huge tracts of Kazakh land. Because of the protests, the "reforms" were never implemented. (See "22-May-16 World View -- Kazakhstan farmers riot over fears of encroachment from China")

In the last week, protesters have attacked a military barracks, and also brought down a monument of the former president Nazarbayev. The 2016 protests were brutally oppressed by Nazarbayev, and now the new protests, which are far more widespread and dangerous, are being suppressed by Tokayev, who has issued a "shoot to kill without warning" order to the police. Dozens of people have already been killed.

Russia leads five CSTO nations in sending troops into Kazakhstan

President Tokayev has declared a state of emergency, and has shut down the internet and other communications.

At the invitation of president Tokayev, Russian troops are now entering Kazakhstan to help quell the protests. It's not clear what these troops will do in a country as enormous as Kazakhstan, but presumably they'll concentrate on Almaty, the largest city.

It's not just Russian troops. Tokayev made the request through the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), the Russia-led military alliance which was formed in the 1990s as a counterweight to Nato. This is the first time that the CSTO is deploying troops on foreign soil since the organization was formed. So there are now troops from five foreign countries on Kazakh soil: Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Tajijistan and Kyrgyzstan.

According to the CSTO charter, one CSTO member may send troops to another member country only in the case of "foreign interference." No details of this "foreign interference" have been provided, but I heard one report that both Russian and Kazakh officials are blaming "Muslim jihadist terrorists," without providing evidence.

According to several reports that I've heard, this deployment of foreign troops is not very popular with anyone.

Many Kazakhs are opposed to any foreign troops on their soil. The Armenians are really furious that Russia didn't help them out in the Nagorno-Karabakh war with Azerbaijan, and now Armenian troops are being deployed to Kazakhstan. The Tajiks are unhappy with the deployment of their soldiers, and the Kyrgyzstan government is so concerned about the situation that they've closed their border with Kazakhstan.

There is one region of Kazakhstan that's certain to be under the protection of Russian troops, and that's the city of Baikonur which is the home of Baikonur spaceport. All Russian space flights are launched from Baikonur spaceport. According to Dmitry Rogozin, the head of the Russian state space agency, "Today it was calm at Baikonur. The branches of Roscosmosí enterprises, law enforcement agencies, city services and organizations are working as normal. The crisis center set up at Baikonurís administration is fully controlling the situation in the city. Armed security at the cosmodromeís key facilities has been boosted."

While all this is going on in Kazakhstan, Russia is also continuing its buildup of troops along the border of Ukraine. Will Russia invade Ukraine again this month? We'll have to wait and see.

China versus Russia

Kazakhstan is a mostly Sunni Muslim country, with Kazakhs having the same Turkic ethnicity as the Turks, the Azerbaijanis, and the Chinese Uighurs. Kazakhs in China's Xinjiang province (East Turkestan) are subjected to the same torture, beatings, sterilization and enslavement as the Uighurs. Kazakhstan is a kind of poster-child for China's use of money to gain compliance for the worst atrocities since the Nazis in the 1930s. Kazakhstan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and other Sunni Muslim countries are simply ignoring China's torture and enslavement of their Turkic brothers, because China is bribing them to do so.

Nonetheless, it's hard to escape the view that Russian troops in Kazakhstan are less about unnamed Muslim jihadists and more about China. Kazakhstan is rich in oil, gas, copper, and other commodities, and China has invested billions of dollars since independence to buy them.

Furthermore, as I've described in the past, China has 20 border disputes with its neighbors. This includes claiming 34,000 sq km of Kazakhstan's territory, and also claiming much of Russia's Far East, including Vladivostok, the home of Russia's Pacific Fleet, (See "5-Jul-20 World View -- India's list of China's border disputes and disagreements")

As I've described many times, Russia and China are historic enemies, at war most recently in the 1960s. They currently have a kind of "marriage of convenience" in opposition to the United States and West, who oppose their respective threatened invasions of Ukraine and Taiwan.

But it won't be long before the historic differences turn to new disagreements and war. Russia's sending troops into Kazakhstan, with little or no information about their mission, may well be first step in that development.

Sources:

Related Articles:

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the Generational Dynamics World View News thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (8-Jan-2022) Permanent Link
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