Activation of militant groups in Afghanistan can bring dangers to transit points in Central Asia

Politics Materials 26 September 2009 09:02 (UTC +04:00)

Azerbaijan, Baku, September 25 / Trend , V.Zhavoronkova / In the case of activization of militant groups in Afghanistan, firstly in Central Asia the danger will threaten the transit points for cargo transportation to Afghanistan, experts say.

"From a military point of view, logistic centers in Central Asia are the first targets for attack," Russian expert on CIS countries Stanislav Pritchin told Trend by telephone from Moscow.

According to senior Afghan Army General Mustafa Patang, over the past few months, hundreds of fighters have moved from the zone of the Afghan-Pakistani frontier region to the north of Afghanistan. General Patang said this on Sept. 23, making a speech in the city of Mazari-Sharif before media, Afganistan.ru reported with reference to ATV TV channel.

The number of "foreign Taliban" in the north of the country exceeded 400 people, General Patang said.

General also did not exclude that the purpose of "foreign Taliban" is to destabilize the situation in northern Afghanistan before the beginning of transportation of NATO cargos via "northern transit route."

Activization of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda in northern Afghanistan has become a cause for concern in Central Asia. In particular, last week, the Tajik government expressed concern about the situation in the neighboring state. According to Deputy Minister of Defense of Tajikistan, Lieutenant-General Ramil Nadirov, the operation of NATO and the Afghan armed forces against the Taliban in the northern Afghan province of Kunduz can provoke the militants to pass the Afghan-Tajik border.

According to American expert on Central Asia Alexander Cooley, there seems to be a strong correlation between the recent rise in militant attacks in northern Afghanistan and certain Uzbek cities, including Khanabad and Andijon, and reported fighting in Northern Pakistan between local Pashtun tribes and Uzbek factions.  

In May this year militants attacked Khanabad and Andijon, who according to some reports, were members of Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU).

"It seems as if many of the Uzbek fighters that were operating in Pakistan are now resettling in various parts of Central Asia, including Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan," Cooley, member of the Open Society, an Associate Professor at Barnard College, Columbia University, wrote to Trend in an email.

According to European expert on Central Asia Neil Macfarlane, activization of militant groups will have possible implications for south-western Kyrgyzstan (Osh).

According to experts, the intensification of armed groups is possible, taking into account the participation of Central Asian countries in the transportation of goods for anti-terrorist coalition in Afghanistan.

"From a Taliban/al Qaeda perspective, the activation of groups would be logical given the role of Kyrgyzstan in particular in transiting US goods," Macfarlane, Fellow of Chatham House Royal Institute of International Affairs, told Trend via e-mail.

A related issue of concern is the security and operation of the Northern Distribution network, or logistical supply network that ships materials through Central Asia for the US and ISAF missions in Afghanistan, Cooley said.  

The expert set an example from the fact that the tankers that were hijacked by the Taliban earlier this month were transited through Tajikistan.  

"Though this attack took place on the afghan side of the border, it is feasible that militant groups may in the future may forge new tactical alliances and expand their theater of military operations to target the US logistical chain in the Central Asian states themselves," the expert said.

According to Pritchin, there is not a common security system in Central Asia and this is the main danger.

Separately only Uzbekistan has real resources, namely a strong army to stop militant attacks, said Pritchin.

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