It is still a mystery what forces exactly are behind the rebellion in Kazakhstan. While I had presumed that it was a CIA operation it may have been outsourced to Britain's MI6. There are also still other possibilities.
The action seen over the last few days smelled strongly of a color revolution as typically instigated by the United States. The gangs which attacked police forces, set buildings on fire and stormed places where arms were stored seemed very well trained. They worked in formations and were obviously under someone's command. Some of them seemed to have been trained snipers as some shots hit policemen at longer distances. Three of the policemen killed were beheaded which points to some Jihadi elements. Some are also said to have been foreigner and the size of the total force was estimated as up to a quite high 20,000. This has led to some speculate that these people came from Turkey where President Erdogan has used Jihadis from Syria for his foreign policy purposes. But for who's benefit would he do such in Kazakhstan?
Turkey is of course a member of NATO and will in end do NATO's bidding. Russia ultimatum to 'keep NATO off Russia's border or else ...' might be reason enough for Washington DC to create trouble at Russia's southern boarder. When the U.S. fled from Afghanistan it tried to get new bases in Central Asia but was denied them by every government in the area. A regime change in Kazakhstan might put someone at the top who would allow a U.S. outpost. But who could that person be?
President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev was installed in 2019 after the long term leader Nursultan Nazarbayev left under public pressure. But Nazarbayev actually stayed in control until very recently. He gained the title 'First President' and was made Chairman of the National Security Committee (KNB). The capital Astana was renamed Nur-Sultan in his honor.
The person who ran the day to day business of the security committee was Karim Masimov, a stalwart allay of Nazarbayev and a business friend of Joe & Hunter Biden. It seemed that the security forces were not really into a fight when the first gangs became violent. Forces guarding the airport of Almaty, the largest city of Kazakhstan, were allegedly told to leave shortly before a gang of some 50 rebels took over the airport.
President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has now taken the leading position of the National Security Committee. Nazarbayev is out. On Friday it was reported that he and his family had left Kazakhstan but his private secretary declared that Nazarbayev, who has not been seen in the public since the end of December, was still in Astana / Nur-Sultan.
Karim Masimov was likewise removed and has now been arrested and charged with treason:
The charges of treason point to the possibility that the KNB chief was involved in a bid to topple Tokayev and seize power.
That theory appeared to receive a semi-official endorsement on January 7, when a well-known commentator and former high-ranking government official went on state television to declare that he had received information that Kazakhstan had been targeted by an “armed rebellion” that amounted to an “attempted coup d’etat.”
Yermukhamet Yertysbayev, a one-time adviser to Nazarbayev, is popularly known by the nickname “the president’s nightingale,” as it was widely understood he would express thoughts Nazarbayev wished to put in the public domain, but with plausible deniability.
By way of evidence for his theory, Yertysbayev told Khabar TV that he had been given information that an order was given to remove the security cordon around the airport at Almaty just 40 minutes before protesters occupied it on January 5. That would likely only have been possible with sanction from the very top.
Tokayev has replaced Masimov at the KNB with Yermek Sagimbayev who was previously the head of the State Protection Service which is tasked with ensuring the president’s security. He is Tokayev's man.
Government media have stopped to use the capital name Nur-Sultan and now just call it 'the capital city'.
If this was an internal coup was it one by Tokayev to remove the Nazarbayev clan and its helpers or did the Nazarbayev attempted a coup against Tokayev?
Another mystery is the arrest of Wild Arman (Arman Dzhumageldiyev), a young mafia boss like figure who seems to have been the leader of the rebellion in Almaty. Wild Arman is popular on social media, runs charities and operates financial pyramid schemes. A quite colorful man.
There is also a similar colorful external figure in the game.
Mukhtar Ablyazov was trained in nuclear physics but became a wild east capitalist after the USSR broke down. He gained a share of the BTA Bank when it was privatized by then President Nazarbayev. He used the bank to gain some $5 billion for himself and in 2009, after some trouble with Nazarbayev, he fled the country. BTA Bank eventually broke down defaulting on some $10 billion of debt with one of its biggest creditor being the Royal Bank of Scotland which was bailed out by the British taxpayer.
As many shady billionaires from the former Soviet Union Ablyazov settled in London and was granted political asylum. He hired several companies with CIA, MI6 and Mossad background to gain material against Nazarbayev and to defend himself from going to prison. Arrest orders against him were out in the Ukraine, Russian and Kazakhstan. Several court cases against him were opened in London. After he had brazenly lied under oath to one British court about the ownership of the $20 million house he lived in a judge sentenced him for 22 months in prison. But Ablyazov would never enter a British jail, he vanished.
He later appeared in Rome and then in France always followed by court cases and arrest notices against him. He always hired several PR firms and lawyers to defend himself. A judge in Britain eventually stopped his extradition to Russia and with the relations between the 'west' and Russia breaking down he eventually was allowed to stay in France.
(The whole, much longer story is told in a 2017 Financial Times weekend piece which is free to read.)
Ablyazov is a perfect example of what Chatham House recently called The UK’s kleptocracy problem:
The growth of London as a centre for financial and professional services coincided with the collapse of the USSR and the rise of post-Soviet kleptocracies in the 1990s. These states and their elites have since become a major source of clients for UK-based services firms and of investors in UK assets.
Based on extensive research on the laundering of money and reputations by elites from the post-Soviet successor states, this paper details how the UK is ill-equipped to assess the risk of corruption from transnational kleptocracy, which has undermined the integrity of important domestic institutions and weakened the rule of law. It concludes by calling for the UK government to adopt a new approach to this problem focused on creating a hostile environment for the world’s kleptocrats.
Over the last years Ablyazov has been accused of several regime change attempts in Kazakhstan. He has founded and funded a political party in Kazakhstan which was promptly prohibited.
Two days ago Reuters suddenly started to whitewash the guy by headlining him as 'opposition leader' of Kazakhstan:
The West must pull Kazakhstan out of Moscow's orbit or Russian President Vladimir Putin will draw the Central Asian state into "a structure like the Soviet Union", a former minister who is now a Kazakh opposition leader told Reuters.
Mukhtar Ablyazov, a former banker and government minister who is leader of an opposition movement called Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan, said the West needed to enter the fray.
"If not, then Kazakhstan will turn into Belarus and (Russian President Vladimir) Putin will methodically impose his programme - the recreation of a structure like the Soviet Union," Ablyazov told Reuters in Russian from Paris. "The West should tear Kazakhstan away from Russia."
"Russia has already entered, sent in troops. CSTO is Russia. This is an occupation by Russia," he said.
He said he was ready to go to Kazakhstan to head a provisional government if the protests escalated.
"I would not only return - people keep on asking when I will return and blame me for not returning to lead the protests - but people don't understand how difficult it would be for me to return as Russia has sentenced me to 15 years and Kazakhstan to life," he said.
Ablyazov dismissed suggestions that the West had financed the protests as an attempt to distract attention from the fact that the roots of the protests were domestic.
"I know the Soviet cliche of a Western spy, but I would be happy to be an American or European spy because then we would live like the people in America or Europe - and everyone would laugh," he said. "Sadly the West doesn't help me; the West hinders me."
Well, well well - "Never believe anything in politics until it has been officially denied."
It was the U.S. embassy in Kazakhstan which had announced details of a planned demonstration by Ablyazov's party on December 16.
Ablyazov is now allegedly in Kiev calling for 'western' sanctions against Kazakhstan.
Ablyazov, with all his stolen money, might well have financed the recent color revolution in Kazakhstan. The British secret service MI6, some of which 'former' agents have worked for Ablyazov, might have had a hand in it. Vladimir Odintsov stitches the line from London over Turkey to Almaty:
The appointment in June 2020 of Richard Moore, a former ambassador to Turkey, as head of MI6, Britain’s foreign intelligence service, was a move to strengthen the British position in the Central Asian theatre. He is not only a stalwart Russophobe, but also a fierce apologist for Great Turania: that is, the success of the pan-Turkist aspiration to create a state uniting the Turkic-speaking peoples in Central Asia, the Caucasus, and even for that matter in the Russian federal republics of the Volga region, the Urals, and the North Caucasus. Richard Moore has long nurtured this project. The key to London’s plans in this area is winning the support of Erdogan, president of the Turkish Republic Erdogan, and the now-head of MI6 worked to realize this aim during his ambassadorship in Turkey in 2014-2018. To this end Moore organized repeated visits to Britain where the Turkish leader met with representatives of its political-military establishment; always supported Erodgan’s course for Turkey in his official statements; and gave backing to his political party.
With Moore taking the helm, British intelligence has noticeably intensified its activities in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. Both pan-Turkist organizations have tame Islamist groups have been strengthened in order to neutralize the influence of Moscow and Beijing in the region. Turkey’s part in this great game is to serve as a kind of battering-ram for British interests.
One of the 'peaceful protesters' in Kazakhstan has been identified as someone who until recently had lived in Turkey. In a picture he makes the 'Grey Wolf' sign of Turkish fascists.
An MI6 cooperation with Ablyazov and Reuters putting him up as the 'opposition leader' makes perfect sense. Turkey in the mix might well have added to the training of the gangs and the Jihadi elements. Karim Masimov, the former head of the security committee in Astana, may have been bribed to help them or was compromised via his Biden connection. The criminal Wild Arman will have worked for money no matter from where.
That still leaves several open questions.
For one how did Russia know what would happen? Russia's CSTO forces were in the air just 13 hours after Tokayev had requested help from the defense pact. Even a well trained quick reaction force will take more time to pack up, get to the airport and leave. CSTO troops from Belarus, Armenia and Tajikistan were also quite quick. Someone must have given them a warning.
Those CSTO troops are by the way not active in the streets but are guarding bases, airports and government buildings. They relieve Kazakh forces who are now free to fight down the gangs. Gunfire was still heard this morning in Almaty. The operation is continuing.
What was the expected outcome of this whole affair? Burning down some government buildings and killing policemen is not enough for a coup. One needs to go for the head of the beast and there was no known attempt to do that.
For now it looks as if Tokayev is sure to win this. There will be no 'western' sanctions coming as several large 'western' corporations are making good money with recovering resources in Kazakhstan. Would they have to move out in retaliation to sanctions it would be a big win for Russia and China.
This all was a quite predictable outcome. But why then launch this operation at all?
The only answer that makes sense to me is that it was an attempt to divert Russia's attentions from the 'western' threat. As such it has failed.
Posted by b on January 8, 2022 at 18:26 UTC