Showing posts with label CAR. Show all posts
Showing posts with label CAR. Show all posts

26 August 2018

Central Asian Jihadists Under Al Qaeda’s And Taliban’s Strategic Ties – Analysis

By Uran Botobekov*

At the time when the Uzbek authorities held an international conference on Afghanistan on March 26-27, 2018, and the Uzbek Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Kamilov hosted the Afghan Taliban delegation led by the Movement’s political chief Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai on August 6-10, 2018, Taliban-backed Uzbek Salafi-jihadi groups continued their military operations against the Afghan government forces. Uzbekistan’s President Shavkat Mirziyoyev’s diplomatic efforts to establish a direct dialogue between the Afghan government and the Taliban have not yet produced the desired result. Moreover, these two important events in Tashkent city could not diminish the terrorist activity of jihadist groups from the Ferghana Valley, which are under the dual patronage of al Qaeda and the Taliban.
The dispute between the UN and the US about the al Qaeda’s and the Taliban’s strategic ties

12 April 2018

Central Asia's Economic Evolution From Russia To China


Central Asia has restructured its economic links over the past decade, as China has outpaced Russia in the region on trade, investment and infrastructure development.

6 April 2018

What Turkmenistani President’s Visit to Gulf Means for TAPI Pipeline Project

By: Rauf Mammadov

Turkmenistan’s President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow visited the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait in mid-March as part of a campaign to revive a long-stalled natural gas pipeline from his country to Pakistan and India (Neftegaz.ru, March 16). The visit occurred three weeks after a February 23 groundbreaking ceremony marking the latest effort to put the Turkmenistan–Afghanistan–Pakistan–India (TAPI) pipeline back on track. The ceremony, held on the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan border to initiate the second stage of the pipeline—which will run through Afghanistan—was a high-profile affair. In attendance were Berdimuhamedow, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaquan Abbasi and India’s Minister of State for External Affairs Mobashar Jawed Akbar (RBK, February 23).

30 March 2018

Central Asian Reset

By: Umida Hashimova

According to President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan, 2011 was the last time the leadership of the five Central Asian countries all sat together at the same table to discuss regional issues (Tengrinews, March 15). On March 15, 2018, Nazarbayev, President Shavkat Mirziyaev of Uzbekistan, President Sooronbai Jeenbekov of the Kyrgyz Republic and President Imomali Rahmon of Tajikistan met in Astana. Turkmenistan’s President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow missed this gathering for a visit to Kuwait to sign numerous energy agreements and instead was represented by the chair of the parliament, Akja Nurberdyeva (Turkmenistan.ru, March 14; see EDM, March 20).

12 March 2018

Cooperation and Competition: Russia and China in Central Asia, the Russian Far East, and the Arcti

PAUL STRONSKI, NICOLE NG 

Since the collapse of Russia’s relationship with the West over Ukraine, the Sino-Russian strategic partnership has become more of a reality. Russia and China share a common desire to challenge principles of the Western-dominated international system. But their relationship is complex, with lingering mistrust on both sides. The balance of competition and cooperation is most evident in Central Asia, the Russian Far East, and the Arctic. Engagement in these theaters has tested Russia’s and China’s abilities to manage their differences and translate the rhetoric of partnership into tangible gains.

6 February 2018

Russia's Military Cooperation Goals in Central Asia

https://thediplomat.com/2018/02/russias-military-cooperation-goals-in-central-asia/

What military threats keep Russia and its Central Asian partners up at night?
By Dmitry Stefanovich, January 31, 2018

The year 2017 marked several important milestones for Russian-led “not-so-allied” alliances: the Collective Security Treaty (on the basis of which an organization of the same name, the CSTO, was created) turned 25, while the Commonwealth of Independent States Joint Air Defense System (CIS JADS) received an “adaptation roadmap” to tackle Air-Space Defense tasks. Several high-profile multilateral military exercises took place, and their analysis may help understand the grand strategy of Russia and other participants in these groupings.

Guardians of CIS Air and Space

Basic Guidelines for the CIS Joint Air Defense System (JADS) Adaptation to the Air-Space Defense (ASD) tasks were signed at the meeting of the CIS Heads of State Council in Sochi in October 2017. The process is due to be completed by 2025.Enjoying this article? Click here to subscribe for full access. Just $5 a month.

Currently, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan (as well as Turkmenistan as an observer) provide the Air Defense System of the CIS Member States (CIS Air Defense Forces) with 19 aviation units, 38 anti-aircraft missile units, 16 signals units, nine air defense brigades, and three electronic warfare (EW) units.
The main directions of JADS adaptation presumably include developing the regulatory framework, improving the organizational structure and management system, further integrating the forces and assets, and creating several subsystems, i.e. reconnaissance and early warning, countering aerospace attacks, command and control, and maintenance.

3 February 2018

China’s ‘Soft Power’ in Central Asia Both More and Less than It Appears

By Paul Goble

From one perspective, China has enormous “soft power” in Central Asia, the ability, as Joseph Nye defined it (Bound to Lead: The Changing Nature of American Power, New York, 1990), “to persuade others to do what it wants without force or coercion.” It can and does present itself in the region as a non-European state without an imperial tradition—in contrast to the Russian Federation and the West. Moreover, it is capably presenting itself both as a counterweight to the influence of those countries in the region and as a rising power interested in promoting trade and development across Central Asia. Consequently, many young people in Central Asian countries want to hitch their fate to China rather than to anyone else, even though their elders retain from Soviet times a view of China as a threat to the region.

18 December 2017

America, EU, Japan: Time to Reunite Afghanistan with Central Asia

S. Frederick Starr

Neither the five formerly Soviet states of Central Asia nor Afghanistan is happy with the current setup, and with good reason.

With respect to Afghanistan, the United States, Europe, Japan, South Korea and the major international financial institutions are all caught in a time warp. Dating back a century and a half, this distortion today impedes Afghanistan’s development as a normal country. No less, it helps isolate the other countries of Central Asia from a nearby major market, the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia, and pushes the other countries of Central Asia into a one-sided relationship with their former imperial overlord, Russia. It’s time to correct this long-standing mistake.

4 December 2017

The Four Faces Of China In Central And Eastern Europe – Analysis

By Michał Roman*

An American, a German, and a Chinese gentleman walk into a bar in Prague. The first two order a beer, and the bartender then turns to the Chinese man to ask, “What can I get you?” He simply replies, “The accounts please, I own the place.” FDI competition? Europe remains the leading source of FDI for Poland, the largest economy in the Central and Eastern European region, though China promises more (Sources: National Bank of Poland, Ministry of Development, Polish Investment and Trade Agency)

8 September 2017

Central Asia´s Silk Road Rivalries


What impact will China’s Silk Road Economic Belt (SREB) and the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) have on Central Asia’s economic development, political stability and security? Can Russia and China’s commitments to cooperation between the EEU and SREB be upheld given the diverging goals of the two projects? And what might the initiatives mean for the West’s role in Central Asia? This report by our partners at the International Crisis groups answers these questions and more.

24 May 2017

CHINA’S NEW SILK ROADS ARE PAVING A BETTER PATH TO PERSIA

Andrew Korybko

The neoconservative Brookings Institute think tank authored a 2009 strategic publication about the most efficient way for the US to asymmetrically destabilize Iran, titling their blueprint “Which Path To Persia? Options For A New American Strategy Towards Iran”. Eurasian geopolitics has been completely upended in the 7 years since that document was first published, and many (but crucially, not all) of the precepts mentioned within it are outdated and irrelevant to the contemporary international context. That said, the concept of trailblazing the best Path to Persia still remains attractive, though no longer just for the US and this time towards completely different ends than the original idea had planned for. The rise of China and the unveiling of the worldwide One Belt One Road strategic vision have led to the People’s Republic taking a keen interest in directly connecting itself with the Islamic Republic, and herein lies the foundation for forging a different sort of Path to Persia. 

9 March 2017

Renewed Conflict Over Nagorno-Karabakh


The likelihood that Armenians and Azerbaijanis will clash over Nagorno-Karabakh in the next twelve months is high. The situation remains tense following fierce fighting in April 2016 that marked the worst bloodshed since the 1994 cease-fire that established the current territorial division.

Nagorno-Karabakh, an autonomous region in Azerbaijan populated mostly by Armenians, sought to break away from central government control in 1988. When Armenia and Azerbaijan gained their independence after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the region also declared independence. This triggered a full-scale war in which Nagorno-Karabakh forces, with support from Armenia, gained control over most of the autonomous region plus seven additional provinces, totaling 20 percent of Azerbaijan’s geographic area. Tensions have built up steadily over the past six years, as energy-rich Azerbaijan enlarged its military capability, public opposition by Armenians and Azerbaijanis to a compromise settlement grew, and cease-fire violations became commonplace.

During the April 2016 military clashes, there were roughly three hundred and fifty casualties, with more than one hundred military personnel and civilians killed. Azerbaijan deployed tanks, helicopters, and assault drones to recapture two small slices of territory controlled by Nagorno-Karabakh forces. The United States, Russia, and France—co-chairs of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group responsible for mediating the conflict—used diplomacy to halt the violence. They have been unable, however, to revitalize the peace process.

12 September 2016

Hybrid Wars. The “Greater Heartland”, Crossroads Of The Multipolar World

By Andrew Korybko

Redefining The Heartland:

The “Greater Heartland” acquires its premier strategic and economic importance due to being the supercontinental fulcrum of multipolar integration. As was mentioned at the end of Part III, there’s a direct overlap between Russia’s Eurasian Union and China’s New Silk Road, and the countries of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan presently fall under both connective umbrellas. To those attuned with geopolitical theory, these three states noticeably correlate with the broad territory that early 20th-century British strategist Halford Mackinder termed the “Heartland”, which he defined as the geopolitical pivot of Eurasia. More contemporary strategists narrowed the region down to the former Soviet Republics of Central Asia, but the author feels that this is presently insufficient to accommodate for the changing dynamics of the evolving world order, and thus proposes a modification of the concept to include Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan as well. This redefined version of Mackinder’s original thesis moves the center of geopolitical gravity in a more southwards direction (by contrast, Mackinder’s broad contours included all of Siberia and most of the Russian Far East) in order to reflect more relevant areas of geopolitical competition between the unipolar and multipolar worlds in the context of the New Cold War.

5 September 2016

Uzbekistan and the Coming Central Asian Storm

https://geopoliticalfutures.com/uzbekistan-and-the-coming-central-asian-storm/?utm_source=Geopolitical+Futures+-+Weekly+Analysis&utm_campaign=e9a0dbfc6b-160903_WA_Weekly_Digest&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c98b211994-e9a0dbfc6b-161671693
Aug. 29, 2016 The authoritarian Uzbek leader’s hospitalization could mean chaos in the region.
By Kamran Bokhari

While the world continues to be captivated by ever-growing crises in the Middle East, the nearby region of Central Asia is headed toward destabilization, as our 2016 forecast suggests. Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan have been ruled by geriatric strongmen for over a quarter of a century, going back to the days of the Soviet Union. Uzbekistan is at great risk for instability, given that its president has been hospitalized after a reported stroke with no clear succession plan among regional clan rivalries. Since Uzbekistan borders each of the countries in the region, instability there could destabilize in the rest of Central Asia as well.
Islam Karimov, Uzbekistan’s 78-year-old ruler and the only president the country has had since the collapse of the Soviet Union, has been hospitalized, according to reports on Aug. 28. According to official state media outlet UzA, Karimov is receiving in-patient treatment and unnamed medical specialists said that “a full medical examination and subsequent treatment will require a certain period of time.” Uzbekistan is an extremely opaque nation, and thus it is difficult to ascertain the precise status of Karimov’s health. That said, Tashkent has never before released information on the health of the ailing president, which is why it is reasonable to assume that a leadership transition is finally at hand.

Uzbekistan is not your average authoritarian state. Many autocratic regimes, despite the overwhelming influence of the ruling family and friends, develop institutions. In sharp contrast, multiple clans from Uzbekistan’s various regions have long been struggling for power. Karimov was able to rule because he could balance the clans from the country’s three principal regions (Samarkand, Tashkent and Fergana) and four lesser ones (Jizzakh, Kashkadarya, Khorezm and Karakalpak). In addition, Karimov’s family has been at war with itself – as is evident from the publicly acrimonious relationship between his daughters, Gulnara Karimova and Lola Karimova-Tillyaeva. This combination of two pictures shows the elder daughter of Uzbekistan’s president, Gulnara Karimova (L) and her sister and Uzbekistan’s representative to UNESCO, Lola Karimova-Tillyaeva. Gulnara has accused her sister of destructive behavior and ties to sorcerers, in a public row that has exposed rifts in the Central Asian ruling family.
This means there is no clear line of succession and great risk of a power struggle. The regional bases of the various top clans in the country increases the risk of civil war, though it is possible that the massive costs of infighting could push the elites to negotiate a power-sharing settlement.

27 August 2016

China Quietly Displacing Both Russia and US From Central Asia

August 2, 2016 

Tajikistani President Emomali Rahmon (L) and Chinese President Xi Jinping 

Since 1991, the influence of the Russian Federation in Central Asia has been on the decline, and many have assumed that the United States would move in to fill the resulting vacuum. US influence has indeed increased, at least in certain countries of that strategically important region. But a far more important external player there now is China, which is engaged in what some observers call “a quiet expansion” or even “the Sinification” of Central Asian countries (see China Brief, July 29, 2011; see EDM, January 24, 2011; November 3, 2015; February 10, 2016;March 10, 2016; April 8, 2016).

Although they are often overlooked, China has some real advantages in this effort. It is geographically closer; it is Asian and therefore not associated with past empires, Russian or Western; it does not share the concerns of Russia about retaining control at all costs, or of the United States about promoting democracy and human rights. And in contrast to the two other players, it has enormous financial resources it can put in play to help the hard-pressed countries in Central Asia.

Nowhere has the spread of Chinese influence been greater than in Tajikistan. Dushanbe-based commentator Arkady Barayev says that this has been the result of a longstanding calculation. Namely, China has always sought first to expand into neighboring countries that are internally weak. There, it establishes its influence by taking control of industrial enterprises and natural resources. Only after that does it push to dominate the political sphere or even “seize” territory (Centrasia.ru, July 27).

14 July 2016

Afghanistan’s Role in the Central Asia-South Asia Energy Projects

By Zabihullah Mudabber
July 12, 2016

A bevy of energy projects linking Central and South Asia could provide much-needed stability for Afghanistan. 

Afghanistan is transforming itself into a roundabout between two emerging economic hot spots in the next decade, connecting Central Asia to South Asia for further regional cooperation, energy transformation, trade, and transit. The Central and South Asia region is rapidly changing. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) will soon add new members for the first time since taking its current form. China is set to invest $46 billion in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor linking Kashgar to Gwadar and India will invest $500 million in Iran’s Chabahar port. And there are a slew of other regional connectivity projects: the Five Nations Railway corridor (linking China to Iran via Afghanistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan) and — most importantly — the regional energy integration projects, including the CASA-1000 electricity transmission project, the TAPI (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India) natural gas pipeline, and the TUTAP (Turkmenistan-Uzbekistan-Tajikistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan) electricity transmission line. All these initiatives foreshadow significant geo-economic shifts in the near future. This creates favorable conditions for Afghanistan to play its natural role of connecting the two emerging economic zones and lift itself out of political and economic fragility.

6 July 2016

Imagined Integration: How Russia Can Maintain Its Influence in Central Asia

01.07.2016

Moscow should stop thinking of the other members of the Eurasian Economic Union as junior partners. Russian and Central Asian weakness vis-à-vis China should inspire consolidation and cooperation rather than competition.

In the two years since Russia began its “pivot to Asia,” Moscow has touted its involvement in two major regional initiatives: the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) and the Silk Road Economic Belt (SREB). When presidents Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping signed a declaration on cooperation between the EEU and the SREB in May 2015, Moscow and Beijing agreed to coordinate their economic initiatives on the continent for the first time, potentially ushering in a new era of Eurasian cooperation. 

Both projects looked promising initially. Moscow’s involvement added global prestige to Xi Jinping’s SREB initiative, allowing above-ground transportation routes to run from China to Europe, and providing new markets for Chinese manufacturers and infrastructure companies. The SREB seemed to have the potential to bring China and Central Asia closer together and to strengthen the position of the yuan as the regional currency. 

Chinese recognition of the EEU seemed to fulfill Moscow’s desire to be respected as a global economic and political force, and set the stage for Russia to receive Chinese credit on favorable terms, as well as investment in infrastructure projects connecting the members of the EEU. 

For their part, the Central Asian nations expected engagement with China through the EEU to give them access to cheap Chinese money, as well as investment and employment opportunities. 

11 June 2016

Geopolitical Futures logo Please feel free to forward this email to friends and colleagues! Reality Check A daily explanation of what matters and what doesn't in the world of geopolitics. June 10, 2016 By Kamran Bokhari Central Asia: The Next Region to Unravel The instability in Kazakhstan in recent weeks could spread throughout the region. While the world is focused on the crises in the Middle East, the European Union, Russia and China, Central Asia – located at the center of these regions – is in meltdown. Central Asia cannot avoid being affected by the chaos in the countries surrounding it and is at risk of destabilization. The largest and wealthiest state in the region, Kazakhstan, is most at risk. In recent weeks, Kazakhstan has been hit by two types of security challenges: civil unrest and terrorism. In May, Kazakh law enforcement agencies broke up demonstrations across the country, protesting plans to privatize large swathes of farmland. The government of President Nursultan Nazarbayev and its ally, Russia, believe these protests were backed by the U.S. and designed to foment a color revolution. Considering the large area covered by the protests and the fact that this is an authoritarian state that does not tolerate any genuine opposition, the idea that the West was trying to push Kazakhstan into a Ukraine-like revolution is not unreasonable. While Astana was still grappling with this issue, the country was rocked by a terrorist attack that killed 19 people on June 5. It was carried out by suspected Islamist militants in the northwestern industrial city of Aktobe. The attack, which involved 20 gunmen who struck at three separate locations, appears to have been a fairly sophisticated operation – at least for Kazakhstan, where such incidents are quite rare. Two cells struck at two separate firearms stores, while a third commandeered a bus and used it to ram the gate at a national guard base. Nazarbayev, who is 76 years old and has ruled the oil-rich country for a quarter of a century, issued a statement warning that foreign forces were out to destabilize the country. Whether foreign actors played a role in either of the two incidents remains unclear. But it appears that both pro-democracy and jihadist forces are challenging the regime. For Geopolitical Futures, this is not surprising. Our forecast for the current year predicted that Central Asia is headed toward a crisis. Join Thousands of Satisfied Readers – Subscribe Today! Our position has been that the Central Asian states will destabilize because the world around them has descended into turmoil. The Middle East is in chaos because of the meltdown of autocratic regimes, which has enabled the Islamic State to emerge as a major international security threat. The European Union has become an incoherent entity and faces an uncertain future as Germany deals with a looming export crisis. To the east, China’s growth miracle has come to an end. Finally, Russia, which wields the most influence in Central Asia, is in deep trouble because of the plunge in oil prices. Therefore, it is impossible for Central Asia to remain an island of stability in the middle of an ocean of chaos. Though we are at the beginning of the unraveling, the events in Kazakhstan show that our forecast is on track. For over two decades, the country’s leadership has maintained stability largely because of revenues from crude oil exports. It was a country built on oil wealth, with Western and Chinese investor interest and a strong alliance with Russia. With the steep decline in oil prices, the Nazarbayev regime is struggling to maintain order. Nazarbayev and his top associates have been trying to deal with rampant corruption in the armed forces. The impending leadership transition (due to Nazarbayev’s age) and the weakening of the authoritarian system are creating space for a host of actors who until now were kept at bay. It will be a while before the instability metastasizes in Kazakhstan, and at this early stage it is difficult to know how events will unfold. However, there are few arrestors in the path of this trajectory. Those forces seeking democratic change seem weak, while those with an Islamist agenda in this Muslim-majority nation seem more powerful – in no small part due to their use of armed insurrection. Therefore, the country may turn into a large ungoverned space while the world continues to hope democrats will replace the Soviet-era regime. This is similar to the Arab Spring, which the West hoped would bring democracy to the Arab world; this hope soon faded. The Arab Spring started in a relatively small North African country, Tunisia, but then quickly spread across the Middle East. In Central Asia, the instability has started in the largest country in the region – leaving other Central Asian states vulnerable. When Kazakhstan destabilizes, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and even Kyrgyzstan (which has already gone through one popular uprising) will not be far behind. All these states, along with Russia, have long been worried about how post-NATO Afghanistan could destabilize Central Asia and even Russia. However, the biggest state in the north of the region, far from Afghanistan, is actually where the unrest has begun. The geopolitical precipice that Central Asia is now standing on – highlighted by the events in Kazakhstan – suggests that the fallout from a resurgent Taliban in Afghanistan may be just a footnote in the story of how this region foundered.


A daily explanation of what matters and what doesn't in the world of geopolitics.
June 10, 2016
By Kamran Bokhari
Central Asia: The Next Region to Unravel

The instability in Kazakhstan in recent weeks could spread throughout the region.
While the world is focused on the crises in the Middle East, the European Union, Russia and China, Central Asia – located at the center of these regions – is in meltdown. Central Asia cannot avoid being affected by the chaos in the countries surrounding it and is at risk of destabilization. The largest and wealthiest state in the region, Kazakhstan, is most at risk.
In recent weeks, Kazakhstan has been hit by two types of security challenges: civil unrest and terrorism. In May, Kazakh law enforcement agencies broke up demonstrations across the country, protesting plans to privatize large swathes of farmland.

The government of President Nursultan Nazarbayev and its ally, Russia, believe these protests were backed by the U.S. and designed to foment a color revolution. Considering the large area covered by the protests and the fact that this is an authoritarian state that does not tolerate any genuine opposition, the idea that the West was trying to push Kazakhstan into a Ukraine-like revolution is not unreasonable.
While Astana was still grappling with this issue, the country was rocked by a terrorist attack that killed 19 people on June 5. It was carried out by suspected Islamist militants in the northwestern industrial city of Aktobe. The attack, which involved 20 gunmen who struck at three separate locations, appears to have been a fairly sophisticated operation – at least for Kazakhstan, where such incidents are quite rare. Two cells struck at two separate firearms stores, while a third commandeered a bus and used it to ram the gate at a national guard base.
Nazarbayev, who is 76 years old and has ruled the oil-rich country for a quarter of a century, issued a statement warning that foreign forces were out to destabilize the country. Whether foreign actors played a role in either of the two incidents remains unclear. But it appears that both pro-democracy and jihadist forces are challenging the regime. For Geopolitical Futures, this is not surprising. Our forecast for the current year predicted that Central Asia is headed toward a crisis.

Our position has been that the Central Asian states will destabilize because the world around them has descended into turmoil. The Middle East is in chaos because of the meltdown of autocratic regimes, which has enabled the Islamic State to emerge as a major international security threat. The European Union has become an incoherent entity and faces an uncertain future as Germany deals with a looming export crisis. To the east, China’s growth miracle has come to an end. Finally, Russia, which wields the most influence in Central Asia, is in deep trouble because of the plunge in oil prices.
Therefore, it is impossible for Central Asia to remain an island of stability in the middle of an ocean of chaos. Though we are at the beginning of the unraveling, the events in Kazakhstan show that our forecast is on track. For over two decades, the country’s leadership has maintained stability largely because of revenues from crude oil exports. It was a country built on oil wealth, with Western and Chinese investor interest and a strong alliance with Russia.

31 May 2016

Hybrid Wars and “Color Revolutions” in the Central Asian Heartland: Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan

April 11, 2016

The threat facing Turkmenistan is less of a Color Revolution than an Unconventional War. The catalyst for this conflict would be a terrorist invasion coming from Afghanistan that unexpectedly sweeps northwards along the Murgab River. Such an offensive doesn’t even have to reach the national capital in order to be successful, since all that it really needs to do is capture the city of Mary, the capital of the resource-rich Mary Region. This part of the country contains the lion’s share of Turkmenistan’s gas reserve, which includes the massive and decades-long functioning Dauletabad Field and the newly discovered Galkynysh Field, the latter being the world’s second-largest find.

It wouldn’t be all that difficult for terrorists to take over this plot of land either, since the Murgab River is scattered with tiny villages along its banks that could provide cover from government airstrikes and places to provoke pitched battles from. The fertile land nearby is endowed with agricultural potential that’s surely being stored somewhere closely accessible, and this could help feed the occupying forces until greater conquests are made. In short, the Murgab River is the most militarily and logistically sustainable route for an ISIL-like invasion of Turkmenistan, and it leads straight to the gas heart of Eurasia that’s critically connected to China and will possibly be linked to India in the coming decade as well.