Russia expanding anti-terror support in Central Asia

It’s generally the contention among observers of Central Asia that most governments fear a spillover of violence from Afghanistan into their own territories, feeding nascent Islamist movements and causing large-scale violent disruptions in governance. This is hard to refute given the drawdown of American troops in Afghanistan and the increasing recruiting activities of ISIS among Central Asian citizens. In contrast to the US’s diminishing role, Russia has reasserted itself as a prime military vendor for the CIS.

At the beginning of the month, Russia’s 201st military base in Tajikistan increased its troops from 5,900 to 9,000 over a period of five years and another report from the same day said that Tajikistan is being offered some $1.2 billion in military aid from Russia. Last month, Russian troops were dispatched to the southern border of Turkmenistan with Afghanistan – it’s thought that this was specifically requested by the Turkmen government to prevent the spillover. Russian news media is frequently touting the buildup of Islamic militants in Afghanistan preparing to set up shop in the former Soviet Republics. Tajikistan has also banned the hajj, the traditional Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina, for all citizens under the age of 35, in an effort to prevent younger citizens from returning to the country with thoughts of jihad.

Additionally, Uzbekistan confirmed earlier in the week that it would take the necessary measures to combat ISIS recruitment efforts within the country, asking Russia for support. It also probable that the recent CTSO meeting last week specifically was scheduled to discuss Russian outreach for anti-terrorism measures.

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