Kazakhstan: The Price of Insurgency
The Price of Insurgency
[Image: from Wikipedia; Kazakhstan’s national exports for 2019. Total value was 60.3 billion USD.]
Publication date: 2022-01-09
Update: 2022-01-10 Added to sources articles by Pepe Escobar and Craig Murray, both of whom are experts on central Asia and have slightly different takes on the events.
Events in Kazakhstan over the past week have been interesting, to say the least.
The country has a wealth of natural resources, particularly in energy (oil and gas), metals (copper, steel and zinc) and uranium.
It is the 9th largest nation by land area and only looks so small because it sits to the south of the world's largest nation, Russia. The Kazakh economy is the strongest in central Asia by absolute and per capita numbers.
As a former member republic of the USSR it also underwent a mass privatization of public assets following the Soviet Union's dissolution in late 1991. Western energy companies, particularly Chevron, have been involved in developing Kazakhstan's energy sector and through that the provision of relevant technology.
Kazakhstan had been ruled by Nursultan Nazarbayev for 30 years since just preceding the end of the USSR until 2019 when his nominated successor, Kasym-Zhomart Tokayev, won the presidential election. Nursultan remained in positions of influence, including Chairman of the Security Committee until he was removed from that position by Tokayev this January 5th.
Kazakhstan has two major cities. Its largest is Almaty, a former capital, located in the south east near Kazakhstan's border with China and its province Xinjiang. The current capital was previously named Astana, but was renamed after the long term ruler to Nursultan in early 2019 as a "gift" along with the honorific "First President".
[Click to enlarge].
Protests and Insurrection
Kazakhstan had price controls (a cap) on Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) which is widely used for vehicular transport. That cap was removed causing a close to doubling of the price of fuel. This lead to street protests, first in the west (Jan 2) and quickly moving around the country by Jan 4. By Jan 5 in Almaty the protests had turned violent, with the civilian protesters seemingly joined by organized paramilitary type forces.
Government buildings were invaded and set alight. The airport was occupied. Police were attacked and murdered, including reports of the beheadings several police. There have been reports of arms stashes being captured and those arms being distributed amongst what can now only be called insurrectionists. There were also attacks on radio and TV stations.
The government reverted policy on the removal of government subsidy of LNG prices as it also removed the ex-President from his role as chairman of the Security Committee. Current President Tokayev called for assistance from the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) which was approved. Russia sent within 13 hours most of the offered 2 500 paratroopers with contingents of Belorussian and Armenian peacekeeping forces expected to follow soon thereafter.
The Russian peacekeeping forces have been deployed to defend government buildings allowing Kazakh police and military forces to be freed to quell the violent outbreaks.
On December 16, 2021, the USA's Embassy in Kazakhstan publicized a collection of anti-government protests to be held in various cities of the country:
The next day, the Russian Federation issues its draft Treaty for collective security with NATO to the USA and NATO.
11 days thereafter the USA and NATO agree to official talks regarding the proposed draft treaties (2021-12-28).
5 days later (Jan 2) the civil protests against the hike in fuel prices begin in Kazakhstan.
2 or 3 days thereafter (Jan 4 or 5) organized violent armed forces join/pervert the protests.
Thereabouts, or a day or so later, the fuel price hikes are rescinded and Kazakhstan calls for assistance from the CSTO, which is quickly approved, and Russian peacekeepers arrive quickly thereafter. This is essentially Christmas Eve in Russia, as the Russian Orthodox Church celebrates Christmas on January 7th.
Echoes and Geopolitical Maneuvering
At the current time, the only people who know who or which groups were behind the transformation of civil protest into armed insurrection are those who acted or instructed them, and possibly the Kazakh security and Russian intelligence services. Reports are so unclear that these groups may be distinct or overlapping.
Nonetheless, there are interesting connections and echoes to be added to the tea leaves:
Tony Blair has been billing "First President" Nazarbayev for political advice
Chevron has a vested interest in the Kazakh energy sector
USA's RAND corporation has advised the USA government to "Reduce Russian Influence in Central Asia"
Joe and Hunter Biden have ties with former Kazakh Prime Minister and now former member of the Security Committee, Karim Massimov
The CSTO has issued a situation report which includes warnings of snipers in Almaty
Mukhtar Ablyazov transitioned from a nuclear physicist to profiting in billions of USD with the privatization of Kazakhstan's BTA Bank and fled to the west to settle like many other profiteers from the privatization of assets during the "naughty nineties" to settle in London. With arrest warrants issued by Russia, Kazakhstan and Ukraine, and a British court sentencing him to 22 months in prison for lying to the court, he has constantly evaded serving any sentence or being remanded for trial.
Reuters describes Ablyazov as an "opposition leader"
NEXTA, the Polish western funded media organisation that ran publicity and coordination for the recent failed coup attempt in Belarus has been issuing demands on behalf of the Kazakh "protesters"
What Has Happened?
There have been western support for opposition groups in Kazakhstan, and why not? The power elite there seem to have been living off the hog for some time, and corruption and nepotism have been a part of that. The protests over the fuel hikes seem to have been locally generated, and rightly so. Who or which groups converted this protest movement into an armed insurrection is the uncertain part.
Ablyazov is obviously being protected and has the funds to support an armed insurrection. He is currently being whitewashed by Reuters, which in cahoots with the BBC and the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (their "State Department" or "Foreign Affairs" department) was supporting the insurrectionist movement in Syria for years. The use of snipers is a direct echo of what was seen in both Syria and Ukraine to inflame civil protest into armed revolt.
The tactics of seizing government buildings and media outlets also echo other organized insurrections. To that, add the seizing of the airport. It is alleged that the Security Committee (Nazarbyev and Massimov) removed security just before it was seized by the insurrectionists.
Some groups are obviously behind the hijacking of civil protest to armed insurrection. Burning government buildings, beheading police officers, seizing and distributing weapons, capturing media outlets and occupying the nation’s largest airport are not “protests” but organized insurgency. While organisation can be seen in some locales there seems to have been a lack of a national strategy, and that would seem to indicate multiple insufficiently coordinated groups acting as the agent provocateurs. Either that or if it was a single coordinating group, which lacked sufficient influence, cultural understanding and/or effective communications networks.
The fuel price hike protests dovetail with an internal power struggle between Nazarbyev and Tokayev, a proxy NATO/SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organisation) power struggle. Here, we get to the geopolitical main course.
At a first glance, the successful intervention of CSTO forces to quell the insurrection is a positive for the SCO and its military wing. The events reinforce the narrative that western backed insurrection forces will try to politically destabilize central Asia to undermine the economic and trade alliances being now cemented in place under the SCO/EAEU/BRI framework. Its a "See, you need our support" moment for the CSTO. One could quickly assume that the whole process has been co-opted by the evil Russians to elevate their influence over the region.
This analysis is significantly weakened by looking at the larger geopolitical landscape. Russia has a current gambit in play, the draft security Treaty, and putting that at risk by creating political tension in Kazakhstan is not a good cost/benefit trade.
Equivalently, unless the CIA has gone completely rogue, creating this trouble now is not that smart for them either, unless they have carefully outsourced this and have plausible deniability. This is where the author believes we approach a likely collection of actors. MoonOfAlabama notes the installation of former British Ambassador to Turkey,
Roger (sorry) Richard Moore, as head of MI6 and his interest in the collective Turkic peoples. Erdogan is a lose cannon and is in serious trouble with the Turkish economy. Could he have been convinced to throw a few extremists pushed out of Syria into escapade two after the Nagano-Karabakh fiddling? Maybe. Was Ablyazov involved? Maybe. He certainly is being touted by Reuters as the "new Navalny". While these are interesting names, they may have nothing to do with the events. What is clear is that a collection of poorly coordinated factions, with the intention of undermining the Kazakh government are the actors perverting the civil protests.
It all looks half baked; not enough time to prepare. But, its got the hallmarks of real estate written all over it: Location, location, location.
China's Xinjiang province is the key location for the land based element of the BRI project. Thus, all the recent "Uygher" propaganda. To where does China need to connect via Xinjiang? Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan are the corridors, and Kazakhstan is the key one to Russia. The other key interlink is Afghanistan, which provides access to Pakistan, Iran and India. It is this mega-project of transport and communications infrastructure which threatens "western" hegemony.
Where were the "protests" most violent? Almaty, less than 400 Km from China, on the Xinjiang border. On an Asian scale, 400 Km is NOTHING. One can well understand the massive support that China's President Xi issued to Kazakh President Tokayev for calling on the CSTO to quell the insurrection. They know whats going on. Words like "enduring reliable partner", and "the Chinese people will stand with the Kazakh people" were issued.
Of course, the Russian Federation is not pointing fingers. It has a very serious international security negotiation shortly commencing. But, their ally China is calling the spades, spades: “foreign influenced” action.
The End Result
The CSTO, the Russian led equivalent of NATO for the SCO, have shown their value. They, and Russia in particular, have learned how to counter insurgencies. The political conflict between Narabyev and Tokayev has ended with Tokayev, and thus Russia, in ascendancy. The latest round of destabilization of the BRI mega-project has failed.
The lesson is, do not send a bunch of ill coordinated fools into Russia's backyard and expect to be successful at political destabilization.
Post-Soviet Billionaires Invade UK … Via British Virgin Islands, David Leigh, Harold Frayman and James Ball, International Committee of Investigative Journalists
West must stand up to Russia in Kazakhstan, opposition leader says, Guy Faulconbridge, Reuters, 2022-01-07
Mysteries Of The Failed Rebellion In Kazakhstan, b., MoonOfAlabama, 2022-01-08
The U.S. Directed Rebellion in Kazakhstan May Well Strengthen Russia, b., MoonOfAlabama, 2022-01-06
Xi Jinping Calls Kazakh Pres Tokayev, Hints at US Interference, Backs Russia, Pledges Support, Alexander Mercouris, his youtube channel, 2022-01-07
Maidan in Almaty? Oh yeah. But it’s complicated., Pepe Escobar, Strategic Culture Foundation, 2022-01-06
What Kazakhstan Isn’t, Craig Murray, his website, 2022-01-07
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