By MICHEL CHOSSUDOVSKY
Barely acknowledged by the Western media, military exercises organized by Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan under the Collective Security Treaty Organisation, (CSTO) were launched on the 24th of August. These war games, officially tagged as part of a counter terrorism program, are in direct response to US military threats in the region including the planned attacks against Iran.
The Rubezh-2006 exercise, is scheduled to take place from August 24-29 near the Kazak port city of Aktau:
“It will be the first joint military exercise undertaken by CSTO countries, and will involve 2,500 members drawn from various armed services of member states, with Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan the principal participants. Uzbekistan, which has recently rejoined the CSTO, will send observers, while the two other pact members, Belarus and Armenia, will not be taking part . ( IPWR News Briefing Central Asia)
Press reports from the region describe these war games as a response to US military presence and ambitions in Central Asia:
“The growing militarization is connected with mutual mistrust among countries in the region, say analysts. Iranian media have speculated that the United States is using Azerbaijan to create a military counterweight to Iran on the Caspian. It is possible that the exercise conducted by the CSTO – in which Russia is dominant – represents a response to concerns about United States involvement in developing Kazakstan’s navy. Observers say Russia is leaning more and more towards the Iranian view that countries from outside should be banned from having armed forces in the Caspian Sea.”
Experts say the US is trying to step up the pressure on Iran, as well as to defend its own investments in Azerbaijan and Kazakstan. It is also trying to guarantee the security of the strategically vital Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline.