Tajikistan holds military manoeuvres with China

Yet more evidence that Central Asia, increasingly wary of US military designs in the region since 9-11, is radically tilting away from Washington. Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan all opened their territories to US forces after 9-11, and Tajikistan, with its 1,000-mile border with Afghanistan, was particularly critical as a staging ground for the October 2001 offensive against the Taliban. Today only Kyrgyzstan still hosts significant US forces—and Tajikistan is holding joint manoeuvres with China. But also note that despite all the supposed tension between the US and China, the preceived enemy and justification for flexing military muscle in the region is identical: radical Islam. From DPA, Sept. 15:

Moscow- Tajikistan will this month hold its first joint military exercises with neighbouring China, officials in the former Soviet Central Asian republic said Friday. Up to 600 troops will rehearse search and destroy operations against terrorist groups from September 21 to 23 on a training ground south of the Tajik capital Dushanbe, according to the Tajik defence ministry.

China has become more active in Central Asia in recent years as Beijing deepens its cooperation with Moscow, which regards the region as a sphere of Russian influence.

Joint measures aim to control the spread of radical Islamic groups like Hisb-ut-Tahrir.

Tajikistan shares a 519-kilometre border with China, which since 2004 afforded the impoverished mountain republic some 2.5 million US dollars in military aid.

For more on Hizb-ut-Tahrir see WW4 REPORT #s 46 and 97, and our special report on Uzbekistan.

See our last posts on Tajikistan, China and the Great Game for Central Asia.