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THE ROLE OF THE SCO AND SCTO IN PROVIDING OF REGIONAL SECURITY IN CENTRAL ASIA

Unti1

My presentation is devoted to problems of building of the regional security in the Central Asian States within the structures of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). Only coalitional efforts of all interested States can provide effective resistance to the transborder terrorism in the region. Therefore, the importance of international cooperation in the field of security is increasing. The organizational-institutional framework of the CSTO and the Shanghai Pact allow to these States to combat these threats.

Let me remind that Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan are members of CSTO. Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan are members of the SCO. Turkmenistan remains neutral state, non-aligned to the blocks of the state.

The main threats to regional security in Central Asia are:

- Extremist organizations aimed at destabilizing the political situation in the countries of the region;

- The activities of illegal armed groups;

- The distribution and transportation of drugs, the growing influence of drug traffickers;

- Trafficking of arms, ammunition, explosives, etc.; socio-political instability in the countries of the region;

- The presence near the borders of hotbeds of military conflicts;

 - The spread of influence of international terrorist organizations, strengthen the position of religious extremism.

The answers to these threats are looking for through the national security structures and through international integration Eurasian organizations. The Organization of Collective Security Treaty (CSTO) is military-political bloc that functionally responsible for collective security and the coordination of defense policy of some post-Soviet States. The military component of the CSTO was strengthened in 2009. It was created the Collective Rapid Reaction Force. Also was established the Anti-Terrorist Centre of the CSTO in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.

The last CSTO summit was held on 14 October 2016 in Yerevan, Armenia. The discussion of aspects of collective security until 2025 was the main task of the meeting. In particular, was a list of ongoing threats to the countries of the CSTO. To address these challenges, the leaders agreed to improve the defense of the CSTO countries, to expand military-technical cooperation, strengthen cooperation in combating terrorism to improve cooperation in border security. It was also decided to create a united list of terrorist organizations recognized in the countries of the CSTO. A significant practical outcome of the meeting was the creation of the Сrisis Response Centre of the CSTO, which will interact with the national security structures of the CSTO countries[1].

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) a.k.a. Shanghai Pact Organization is not a military-political bloc. But on the basis of its statutory goals and objectives "joint provision and maintenance of peace, security and stability in the region" periodically comes on to the agenda[2]. In the framework of the SCO even established a coordinating body on regional security issues – the permanent Regional anti-terrorist structure in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. However, we note certain organizational dysfunction due to duplication of functions, since there are parallel with the Anti-Terrorist Centre of the CSTO in Bishkek.

The strongest armed extremist formation that operates in the region is the "Islamic Party (Movement) of Turkestan" (IPT, in 1996-2002 it was known as the "Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan"). It is not surprising that in the pursuit of additional funding for new IPT leader Usman Ghazi declared accession of his organization to the ISIS/Daesh.

So, back in March 2015, a video appeared on the Internet, where the representatives of IPT swear Saeed Khan, representative of Daesh. In this regard, the ISIS represents the serious threat to the States of Central Asia.

There are a large number of immigrants from these countries in the ranks of ISIS. For example, the treason of Lieutenant Colonel Gulmurod Khalimov, the commander of the OMON unit of the Tajik Ministry of Internal Affairs. He fled to the territory of the ISIS, and since September of 2016 he became the military minister of the ISIS. The former military minister of ISIS was deceased Abu Omar al-Shishani. But his real name was Tarkhan Batirashvili, a native of Republic of Georgia.

Uzbekistan is showing "multi-vector" foreign policy now. Uzbekistan is one of the founding members of the CSTO, but left him (the last time Uzbekistan announced the suspension of participation in the CSTO in 2012) nevertheless the country retains membership in the SCO and continuing cooperation with the security departments within the structure.

Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan has got the similar situation of risk. There are active recruiters of extremist organizations. Moreover, the factor of Afghanistan most influences Tajikistan.

However, it can be noted that in resistance to the terrorist threat, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan hopes for the help of the allies in the CSTO and the SCO. In particular, the Russian military bases on the territory of these countries are acting as a security factor.

Kazakhstan has the most stable political and social system Central Asia. And at the same time Kazakhstan has sufficiently strong army and special services to resist extremism. But there is an increase of the extremist influence. Also it should be taken into account that, in addition to the activity of the Salafi underground, a new tendency is the activities of Uyghur separatist organizations. Many of them are linked with international terrorists groups.

An important component of the integration processes is the Russian-Kazakh military-technical cooperation. The military departments of Russia and Kazakhstan in the framework of the agreements held joint military exercises on the territory of the two States alternately. Kazakhstan is actively involved in the work of the CSTO, particularly in the exercise of the Collective Rapid Reaction Force.

Also, Kazakhstan is participating in strengthening the anti-terrorist potential of  the SCO, including through participation in joint counter-terrorism exercises.  The participation in the Eurasian integration structures are mentioned in the Military Doctrine of the Republic of Kazakhstan[3].

The involvement of neutral Turkmenistan in the orbit of the SCO would be promising both from the point of view of Russia and China. Moreover, Russia and China are mentioned as the main strategic partners of Turkmenistan by President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov.

For the first time the terrorist attacks and armed clashes with terrorists have occurred in Ashgabat in 2008. There is also the danger of the invasion to Turkmenistan of armed detachments from northern Afghanistan. Therefore, in the context of rising tensions in 2015 to 70% Turkmen army were transferred to the Afghan border. But for reasons of neutrality the government of Turkmenistan officially denied the threat on the Afghan border. This creates difficulties in the organization of international assistance to Turkmenistan. However, it is worth noting that awareness of threats makes itself felt. And the government of Turkmenistan maintains cooperation in military-technical cooperation with Russia and with other countries.

So, Eurasian integration structures are effective tool to prevent threats and risks of terrorism and to provide collective security. Now India and Pakistan have stepped in the circle of full members of the SCO. But both Russia and China have got wish to involve the Islamic Republic of Iran in that organization. And I hope the IRI will become full member of SCO in near future.

 

Note: This paper was presented during the International Conference “Evolutions in Fighting Terrorism and the New Challenges of the Middle East”, held in Bucharest on the 5th of July 2017.

 

 


[1] См.: «Страны ОДКБ усилят борьбу с терроризмом»//»Известия», 14.10.2016 [URL: http://izvestia.ru/news/638495]

[2] См.: ШОС [URL: http://ria.ru/infografika/20150708/1120666045.html]

[3]См.: Военная доктрина Республики Казахстан. [URL: http://military-kz.ucoz.org/index/voennaja_doktrina_kazakhstana/0-47]

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