An anti-American military confederacy may loom in Asia - June, 2008

The political analysis featured below is several years old but still very interesting and still very relevant to current events.


An anti-American military confederacy may loom in Asia

June, 2008

The members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), an intergovernmental association comprising China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgystan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, will recognize the organization’s fifth anniversary in June 2006 with a much anticipated celebration, “Everyone agrees this first jubilee date must be celebrated accordingly,” said Vitally Vorobyev, Russia’s coordinator in the SCO. Washington, however, will not be joining in the festivities. The reason for Washington’s sour mood? Growing anxiety surrounding the ultimate mission of the SCO and its impact on Central Asia and the Middle East. Pictures taken by journalists of Russian President Vladimir Putin during the recent joint Russsian-Chinese Peace Mission 2005 military exercises, showing the president in full military attire and holding a large model warplane were not reassuring. His subsequent flight in a supersonic bomber specifically designed to deliver a nuclear payload did not help either.

This raises an important question: with SCO leaders such as Russia’s Vladimir Putin, China’s Hu Jintao and Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad openly embracing military modernization and improved synergies, is the organization destined to become a military confederacy with the U.S. as its main target? “For the SCO to be turned into a military and political bloc or alliance, the present-day SCO would need to be dissolved. The legislation of some of the SCO member-countries makes this [military confederacy] impossible,” said Vitally Vorobyov. He immediately followed these comments with a contradictory statement, “Cooperation between defense agencies within the SCO framework can and should develop. The SCO makes provision for this, it’s nothing new.” Statements of this type from high-level Russian and SCO officials continue to perplex western intelligence officials, leading some to speculate that it may be only a matter of time before the SCO begins to exert its collective military influence in Central Asia and the Middle East.

Peace Mission 2005

In August, “Peace Mission 2005,” a joint eight-day military exercise involving 10,000 Russian and Chinese troops, was held in Russia’s Far East and China’s Shandong Peninsula. The exercises were led by Russian General Makhmut Gareyev, a veteran of World War II who fought against both Germany and Japan. Requests by Washington to reduce the scope of the exercises were rejected by both Russia and China. The joint exercises involved beach landings, airborne assaults, naval blockades, anti-ship missiles and precision bombing from strategic bombers. To the surprise of western intelligence officials, Russian Tu-95MS Bear and Tu-22M3 Backfire strategic bombers designed to carry nuclear-tipped cruise missiles were deployed during the exercises. The exercises reportedly involved a mock intervention to stabilize an imaginary country driven by ethnic strife. In response, the U.S. launched a week long “Joint Air Sea Exercise 2005” in Okinawa and Guam which included 10,000 troops and 100 warplanes from the USS Kitty Hawk strike group. In addition, the U.S. and South Korea participated in a twelve day “Ulchi Focus Lens 2005” military exercise. Taiwan has already announced that it has scheduled its own invasion defense exercise code named “Yama Sakura” for 2006. Taken collectively, the military exercises send a clear message to Moscow and Beijing that the U.S. is prepared to respond to any collaborative military threat.

Recent Military Exchanges

In September, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Ivanov announced his country had agreed to supply China with a total of 40 IL-76 transport and IL-78 refueling planes at a cost of about $1 billion. Later this month, Ivanov is expected to sign contracts to deliver Russian military vehicles to China. The recent plane and vehicle sales continue a trend of Russian military hardware transfers to China which have included: 200 fourth-generation fighter aircraft, several S-300 air defense batteries, guided missile destroyers and sophisticated submarines worth a combined $15 billion over the past ten years. In 2004 alone, Russian arms exports to China totaled $2.3 billion. According to Konstantin Makiyenko, the deputy director of the Center for Strategic and Technological Analysis, a Moscow-based think tank, China is also interested in purchasing Russian made A-50 Mainstay AWACS planes and a manufacturing license for the Su-30MK2 multi-role fighter. Moreover, Beijing has made it clear that wants to accelerate the purchase of advanced Russian fighters, unmanned aircraft and long and short-range missiles as part of its ongoing modernization program.

Not surprisingly, Russian Defense Minister Ivanov announced this month that Russian servicemen would travel to China for training stating, “Russia needs more experts who can speak Chinese.” More than 500 Chinese students already study at Russian military universities. But why the sudden urgency for improved communication between the two militaries? Washington has begun to take notice of the evolving relationship. U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack commented in August, “We would hope that anything that they [China and Russia] do is not something that would be disruptive to the current atmosphere in the [Central Asia] region.” Unfortunately, Mr. McCormack may be disappointed.

Future Military Exercises

Immediately after the completion of their historic joint military exercises, Russia and China announced plans to hold additional joint exercises in 2006. Both countries anticipate expanding the exercises to include SCO member states Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan, as well as observer states India, Iran, Mongolia and Pakistan. “It is possible by the time we decide to hold such exercises with China; other SCO countries would be willing to join, like India,” one Russian official said. Russian Defense Minister Ivanov concurred, “I think that future Russia-China military exercises will be held and other members of the SCO will probably take part in them.” Russia and India are scheduled to hold their first joint army drill next month, with mock raids on terrorist facilities taking place in the Indian province of Rajastahn, on the boarder with Pakistan. Andrei Kokoshin, a former secretary of the Russian Security Council and a member of parliament said the impending follow-up to the Peace Mission 2005 exercises could be part of a Russia-China-India triangle which supports the increased activity of the SCO. “The exercise might focus on maintaining stability in Central Asia and ensuring the security of oil supplies via sea routes,” Kokoshin said.

Chinese, Indian and Russian naval assets working in unison to protect oil supplies in the Persian Gulf? This comment shows another disturbing aspect of the emerging confederacy, an increased willingness to use its combined military strength to secure strategic energy reserves located in the Middle East. The mere thought of the Persian Gulf clogged with warships enforcing multilateral allegiances and interests is enough to make any intelligence analyst stay up all night. General Yury Baluyevskiy, Chief of Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, further elaborated on the topic of SCO military cooperation, “I do not rule out that, if a decision is made by the SCO, of which Russian and China are members, the armed forces of our countries may be involved in performing certain tasks.” General Baluyevskiy failed to elaborate on what those “certain tasks” would include.

Observer country Pakistan is also becoming more active in the military aspects of the SCO. In September, Chinese General Liang Guanglie, a member of the Central Military Commission and Chief of Staff of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), met with Pakistani General Ehsan Ul Haq, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to strengthen military-to-military ties. During the meeting in Beijing, the two generals exchanged views on issues of common global and regional interest, as well as army building. The most troubling development of the past month related to the SCO is the growing prospect of a nuclear-obsessed Iran joining the organization as a permanent member. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the newly elected conservative President of Iran, is a proven U.S. antagonist and a firm believer in spreading revolutionary Islamist ideology throughout the Muslim world. His recent comments at the U.N. concerning the U.S. show a preparation for confrontation with the U.S. Making matters worse; Iran is planning to build up its military forces. Iran had planned to double its military budget by 2010, but thanks to record oil revenues, that timetable has been adjusted to 2008.

New Thinking Needed

The SCO is a menacing confederacy of powerful nations arising out of the shadows of the Cold War that could cause tremendous global instability and even lead to world war. Geopolitics aside, the SCO has the potential to become the most powerful alliance on earth, combining Russia’s energy, military and technology expertise; China and India’s economic and human capital; and Iran’s enormous energy resources and growing military capabilities. This unique combination makes the SCO a formidable adversary for the U.S. In February, Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) chief of staff General Liang Guanglie said the Peace Mission 2005 exercises would, “protect the peace and stability in our region and the world.” The world? The world has been led to believe that the SCO is a regional alliance designed to address issues of mutual concern such as terrorism, separatism and extremism -- whatever they may mean at the moment for the members of the SCO. With military operations scheduled for 2006 and an expanded list of participating nations, the military threat posed by the SCO is starting to take shape.

At this time, what steps need to be taken by the U.S. to prepare for a possible SCO military threat? First, the U.S. Congress, Department of Defense and U.S. intelligence community must recognize that the continued military modernization and integration involving Russia, China, India, Pakistan and Iran will directly threaten the U.S. and its allies within the next several years. This is an uncomfortable reality, but one which is taking shape right before our eyes. Second, calls by the SCO and others in the international community for an immediate withdraw of U.S. troops from the Middle East and Central Asia should be disregarded, due to the horrific consequences that the inevitable power vacuum would cause. Instead, strategic alliances should be strengthened with countries such as Georgia and the Ukraine to counter any regional threat.

Third, recent calls by Iran for a Muslim seat on the UN Security Council should be viewed for what they are; an effort by Tehran to weaken U.S. legitimacy in the international community and diminish its influence in Central Asia and the Middle East. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s announcement that his country will sell “peaceful” nuclear technology to other Islamic countries is too chilling to contemplate. In short, the SCO is an immature, but potentially dangerous confederacy of countries with a mutual interest to dethrone the U.S. and if necessary, confront it militarily. Under the guise of economic partnership, regional alliances and friendship, China, Russia and the other members of the SCO are rapidly increasing their collective power. Recent Pentagon reports identifying China as a growing threat are indeed accurate, but don’t go far enough. The reports are deficient in that they base their analysis and predictions on countries such as China acting unilaterally. As a result, compulsory discussions concerning the rise of regional and global alliances that threaten the U.S. are not taking place. This could be a fatal mistake, since the SCO has become the perfect vehicle for coordinated military action in the future.


Russia-China trade up 44% to $48 bln in 2007

Trade between Russia and China increased 44%, year-on-year, in 2007 to $48.2 billion, a Chinese government official said on Sunday. Speaking at the 19th international fair for trade and economic cooperation in Harbin, Ling Ji, deputy director of the Europe department at China's Ministry of Commerce, said that bilateral trade between both countries continued to expand rapidly as it increased 39% in January-May 2008, year-on-year, to $22.1 billion. Ji said that in 2007 China posted a surplus of $8.8 billion in trade with Russia for the first time in the past 15 years, adding that the country would also build up Russian imports to balance mutual trade. Ji said the exports of Chinese electronics and engineering products to Russia in 2007 accounted for about 40% of total exports to Russia ($10.3 billion) while imports from Russia mostly included energy products and raw materials, which accounted for more than 90%.


In other news:

Russia's Lavrov warns against attack on Iran

Russia's foreign minister on Friday warned against the use of force on Iran, saying there is no proof it is trying to build nuclear weapons. Sergey Lavrov said Iran should be engaged in dialogue and encouraged to cooperate with the U.N. nuclear monitoring agency. Lavrov made the statement when asked to comment on an Israeli Cabinet member's statement earlier this month that Israel could attack Iran if it does not halt its nuclear program. "I hope the actual actions would be based on international law," Lavrov said. "And international law clearly protects Iran's and anyone else's territorial integrity." Israel's military refused to confirm or deny a report Friday that its warplanes staged a major rehearsal this month for a possible attack on Iran.

The New York Times report quoted U.S. officials as saying more than 100 Israeli F-16s and F-15s staged the maneuver over the eastern Mediterranean and Greece in the first week of June. It said the aircraft flew more than 900 miles (1,450 kilometers), roughly the distance from Israel to Iran's Natanz nuclear enrichment facility, and that the exercise included refueling tankers and helicopters capable of rescuing downed pilots. Lavrov said Russia had asked both the United States and Israel to provide factual information to back their claims that Iran was working to build atomic weapons. "So far we have seen none, and the same conclusion was made by the International Atomic Energy Agency," he said. "It's absolutely not right to speak matter-of-factly that Iran continues building nuclear weapons," Lavrov added. Iran insists its enrichment program is meant only to generate electricity. But because of its past clandestine activities, including some that could have applications for weapons research, the international community is concerned that Tehran wants to enrich uranium to a purity suitable for use in atomic bombs. The IAEA suggested in a report to the U.N. Security Council last month that Iran was stonewalling investigators and possibly withholding information crucial to determining whether it conducted research on nuclear weapons. Lavrov insisted that Iran must be encouraged to continue its cooperation with the U.N. monitoring agency.

"As long as the IAEA reports to us progress in its relations with Iran, as long as Iran closes the issues which were of concern to the IAEA and this process continues, we should avoid any steps which could undermine this very important process," he said, speaking in English. Russia has maintained close ties with Iran and is building its first nuclear power plant in the southern port of Bushehr, which is expected to go on line later this year. It has backed limited U.N. sanctions aimed at forcing Iran to suspend its uranium enrichment program, but has opposed the U.S. push for harsher measures. "The key to resolving the Iranian issue is involvement," Lavrov said. "We must involve Iran, engage Iran in resolving the Iranian nuclear program, ... but also engage Iran in constructive, respectful, serious dialogue on Iraq and Afghanistan, on the Middle East in general."


Bush May End Term With Iran Issue Unsettled

For more than five years now, President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney have made clear that they did not want to leave office with Iran any closer to possessing nuclear weapons than when they took office. “The nations of the world must not permit the Iranian regime to gain nuclear weapons,” Mr. Bush said in February 2006. The United States is prepared to use its naval power “to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear weapons and dominating this region,” Mr. Cheney said in 2007 from a Navy carrier in the Persian Gulf. But with seven months left in this administration, Iran appears ascendant, its political and economic influence growing, its historic foes in Iraq and Afghanistan weakened, and its nuclear program continuing to move forward. So the question now is: Are Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney resigned to leaving Iran more powerful than they found it when they came to office? The evidence is mixed. For all the talk to the contrary, Bush administration officials appear to have concluded that diplomatic efforts to rein in Iran’s nuclear ambitions will not yield any breakthroughs this year.

Despite a recent flurry of efforts to tighten sanctions on Iran, top officials on both sides of the Atlantic, in recent interviews, had no expectations that Iran’s rulers would make any concessions, particularly on the critical issue of suspending the enrichment of uranium, while Mr. Bush remained in office. On the military front, the picture is fuzzier. Two senior administration officials said that barring a move by Israel, which one characterized as “the wild card” on the Iranian issue, this administration would not be likely to pursue military strikes against Iranian nuclear targets. Mr. Bush himself seemed to signal as much at the start of his European tour last week in Slovenia, when he said of Iran that he expected to “leave behind a multilateral framework to work on this issue,” a statement that seemed to suggest that military action against Iran may no longer be on the table. But there remains the possibility that Israel could force the hand of the Bush administration, foreign policy analysts and diplomats said. Israel carried out a three-day military exercise this month that American intelligence officials say appeared to have been a rehearsal for a potential strike on nuclear targets in Iran.

Israeli officials have tried to put pressure in recent months on the Bush administration to consider such a strike if Iran did not abandon its nuclear program, and the exercise may have been intended as a new signal that Israel might be willing to act alone if the United States did not. “Israel prefers this threat be dealt with peacefully, by dramatically increasing sanctions and maintaining a credible resolve to keep all options on the table,” said Sallai Meridor, the Israeli ambassador to the United States. “But time is running out." Iran, he said, “should understand that under no circumstances will the world allow it to obtain a nuclear capability.” Mohamad ElBaradei, director of the International Atomic Energy Agency, told Al Arabiya television that he would quit his job in the event of a military strike on Iran. “It would turn the region into a fireball,” he said in an interview broadcast Friday, according to Reuters.

Israeli officials have expressed fear to the Bush administration that a new administration would take months, if not years, to decide on its approach to Iran. The consensus in the United States and Europe is that Iran is still at least two years away from a nuclear weapon. Israeli officials say they believe the threshold is closer to a year. An Israeli military strike on Iran would almost certainly require American help. For one thing, Pentagon officials say, it would take hundreds of sorties to take out a big swath of Iranian air defense. For another, the United States controls much of the airspace around Iran. Beyond that, Iran would hold the United States accountable for an Israeli strike, and could retaliate against American troops in Iraq. In Moscow on Friday, Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov urged dialogue rather than confrontation with Iran and said that the United States and Israel had not offered any proof that Iran was pursuing a nuclear weapons program. “So far we have not seen any,” Mr. Lavrov said, according to Interfax news agency.

A trip to Tehran last weekend by European diplomats with a new package of incentives was largely for Iranian public consumption, and to appease Russia and China by appearing to be still trying to woo Iran, European and American diplomats said. But European diplomats have been loath to acknowledge publicly that diplomacy on Iran’s nuclear development is in a holding pattern for the next eight months because they fear that Iran will only use that time to make progress on its nuclear program, which Iran says is for peaceful purposes. “One should not talk about keeping the status quo because that would be dangerous,” one European diplomat said, speaking on condition of anonymity under diplomatic rules. “We can’t say the clock has stopped and we will begin work again after Jan. 1; that is not a good recipe for success.”

Administration efforts to convey a sense of urgency about stopping Iran’s nuclear program were dealt a blow late last year with the release of a National Intelligence Estimate reporting that Iran had stopped work on a nuclear weapons program in 2003. In recent months, Bush administration officials have tried to walk back from that report, repeating often that Iran’s nuclear program remains a threat. Many foreign policy experts are now looking to the next administration for a possible new approach to the standoff with Iran. “The Europeans all understand that the carrots-and-sticks approach is not working, and the entire Iran diplomatic policy has to be rethought,” said Vali R. Nasr, an Iran expert at Tufts University. Until a new administration takes over, he said, “we’re stuck in a process where the ball is kicked to the bureaucrats.”


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The last 20 years has helped me see the Russian nation as the last front on earth against the scourges of Westernization, Americanization, Globalism, Zionism, Islamic extremism and pan-Turkism. I have also come to see Russia as the last hope humanity has for the preservation of classical western/European civilization, Apostolic Christianity and the traditional nation-state. These sobering realizations compelled me to create this blog in 2010. Immediately, this blog became one of the very few voices in the vastness of Cyberia that dared to preach about the dangers of Globalism and the Anglo-American-Jewish alliance, and perhaps the only voice preaching about the strategic importance of Armenia's close ties to the Russian nation. From about 2010 to 2015, I did monthly, at times weekly, commentaries about Russian-Armenian relations and Eurasian geopolitics in general. It was very difficult for me as I had no assistance in this endeavor. The time I put into this blog therefore came at the expense of work and family. But a powerful feeling, dare I say voice, inside me urged me to keep going; and I did.

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