Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Russian Are Coming - Again

Back in August, 25 Islamic militants escaped from a high security prison in Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan.  The government immediately initiated a hunt.  It's not going well.  On September 19 in the northeastern valley of Rasht, militants ambushed a Tajik patrol and killed at least 25 soldiers.  Nothing like this has been seen in a decade.

There are a whole variety of different militant groups operating in Tajikistan whose terrain is difficult, to say the least. Similar groups exits in Uzbekistan and the Kyrgyz Republic. The sudden increase in activity coupled with the upcoming withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan just to the south may spell trouble for the entire region.

Which is why the Russians are coming.  They have never rally left and have bases in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, most notably along the Uzbek border who the Russians fear may have designs on becoming the regional power since it has the largest population and a ruthless military. But all the countries have an interest in making sure the conflicts of the 1990s don't return, especially in the form of Islamic militancy. So the Russian just sent around 25,000 troops to Tajikistan.  More will be coming and China will certainly take an interest as some of the militant groups spill over into their territory. 

As the US pulls back and the latest iteration of The Great Game dials down, these Central Asian republics are in for a ride.  It will be left to the Russians.

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