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Central Asia Geopolitical Watch – From May 28 to June 3, 2022

Central Asia Watch Team :  Amandine Paillette, Sophie Marc, Mathieu Bailly et Denis Lavaud

05/27/2022: Kyrgyzstan signs an opaque contract with a small chinese company – Denis Lavaud – 

The Kyrgyz government has set up a new state government company to revive the country’s industry, and on May 27 signed a contract with a small new Chinese company. This 200 million dollar contract (which could go up to 1 billion, subject to conditions), aims to develop renewable energies, e-commerce, artificial intelligence and the development of military drones, eco-farms and hydroelectric power stations, according to Kyrgyzindustria, the Kyrgyz state company in charge of this project and this cooperation.

This partnership nevertheless raises some questions: the Chinese company in question, Guangdong Xinjin Energy Development, was created in March in Macau, and has only a relatively modest budget (100 million Yuan, or 15 million dollars), and has never participated in the development of large-scale projects.

Kyrgyzindustria is a joint stock company, the sole owner of which is the government. Its capital amounts to 118 million dollars (1 billion som). Akylbek Japarov, the president of Kyrgyzstan and joint head of the project, sees it as a means of reviving the country’s industry, renewing it, and making it a long-term creator of specialists in the industries concerned.

“Having a single shareholder in the person of the State is a guarantee, for citizens and investors, that the company develops rapidly while minimizing the risks”, declared Akylbek Japarov at the launch of Kyrgyzindustria.

However, the company is subject to a privacy law, which creates civil doubts within the company. No report makes it possible to verify under what conditions the funds are allocated, while the group is led by a politician cited in a corruption case.

05/29/2022: Tajikistan and Iran put an end to their “cold war” – Denis Lavaud – 

On May 29, Emomali Rahmon visited his Iranian counterpart Ebrahim Raisi, during an official stay in Tehran. The two countries, which have had contentious relations since the 1990s, now show a common desire for cooperation.

Tajikistan, which has relied on Russia for its protection for these same years, has seen a large withdrawal of Russian troops on its territory since the launch of the war in Ukraine. Like the other countries of Central Asia, Dushanbe now tends to diversify military and commercial cooperation treaties, so as not to sink with the recent isolationism of its great northern partner.

Although Tajikistan accuses Iran of supporting the opposition in the country since the 90s and the fall of the USSR and until the year 2020, the two countries have shown, since 2021 and the coming to power of Ebrahim Raisi, of a wish for relaxation. The Iranian president thus made his first official trip, in August 2021, to Tajikistan, to attend the summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

Last month, the head of Iran’s armed forces, Major-General Mohammad Bagheri, visited Dushanbe to initiate talks on bilateral security cooperation, as well as to visit an Iranian drone construction center. The Tajik government now seems to be reversing its hostile position towards the country, which it accused in 2016 of supporting the opposition leader (considered in Tajikistan as a terrorist) Muhiddin Kabiri, whom Tehran had invited to the “Islamic Renaissance” conference organized by the Persian state.

05/30/2022: A cooperation agreement in the field of security between Turkey and Uzbekistan enters into force – Sophie MARC –

A cooperation agreement in the field of security and concerning the training of students and cadets was signed between the Turkish and Uzbek governments and entered into force on Monday 30 May. Valid for a period of one year and automatically renewed unless diplomatically indicated otherwise, this agreement defines the responsibilities of the employees of the higher education institutions where the students and cadets sent by their countries will be hosted and trained. 

Several activities are also provided for in the agreement: visits to headquarters and institutions, mutual training, courses through schools, training centers and universities for students; exchange of information, technological cooperation in the field of public order and security, mutual assistance in the development of equipment and teaching materials, exchange of experience and information on common topics and projects between the two governments. 

The authorities responsible for the implementation of the agreement are the National Guard of the Republic of Uzbekistan and the General Command of the Ministry of the Interior of the Republic of Turkey. 

05/31/2022: Deadly anti-terrorist operation in Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region – Amandine PAILLETTE –

On May 31, the Tajik authorities announced the death of five new people while conducting anti-terrorist operations -a mission qualified by the Tajik government- since mid-May in the autonomous region of Gorno-Badakhshan, in the west of Tajikistan. This vast region represents almost 40% of the country’s territory but is home to only 3% of the total population. The State Information Service, quoting the Ministry of the Interior, announced these neutralizations during which assault rifles and explosives were discovered. The press release reveals that during the operation which took place on Tuesday morning, the men, despite being called to surrender, resisted. 

For several weeks, the Tajik authorities have been conducting an operation to eradicate terrorist movements in this mountainous area. The current toll is thirteen deaths, including one soldier, and dozens of arrests. On May 22, the Tajik authorities shared the death of one of their main opponents, Mamadbokir Mamadbokirov, killed during “internal clashes between criminal groups“. 

05/31/2022: OSCE visits Central Asia – Mathieu Bailly

Zbigniew Rau, Chairman-in-office of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and Poland’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, visited from May 31 to June 6 Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.

Zbigniew Rau met President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev as well as Kazakhstani government representatives. During the talk, questions about the future referendum of Kazakhstan and international affairs of Kazakhstan were discussed.

During his visit to Uzbekistan, Zbigniew Rau met with Shavkat Mirziyoyev, president of Uzbekistan, and members of the two houses of parliament. The goals of this visit was to strengthen OSCE-Uzbek relations, and future reforms of the country. 

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