by Waseem Shehzad (Special Reports, Crescent International Vol. 39, No. 1, Rabi' al-Awwal, 1431)
Numerous high ranking intelligence officials from Central Asian countries and Azerbaijan have visited Israel in recent weeks. According to reports the Central Asian intelligence officials requested the help of Mossad in eliminating the presence of Hizb ut-Tahrir in their countries. Zionist officials expressed interest but refused to provide level of assistance needed until the Central Asian states agreed to cooperate with Israel in isolating Iran. Interestingly, the Israelis do not consider Hizbut-Tahrir a terrorist organization so it operates more freely in Hebron and East Al Quds, than in any Central Asian country. However, Central Asian intelligence officials were reluctant to provide the kind of support demanded by the Zionists in isolating Iran. Israeli news sources believe that because of high trade volume with Iran and their dependence on Iranian goodwill to export their goods that could be jeopardized in the event of Iranian retaliation, the Central Asian regimes are reluctant to provide the degree of assistance demanded by the Zionists.
News of Israeli cooperation with regimes of the former USSR should not come as a surprise. It is widely known that this region is one of the key recruitment centers for Israeli settlers in occupied Palestine. The Zionist regime exploits the lack of Islamic awareness among Muslims of the former USSR because of 75-year communist rule. Thus, concern for Palestine’s occupation does not rank at the same level in the Central Asian countries as it does in other parts of the Muslim world. This provides a good opportunity for Israel to operate in Central Asia since many Muslims there do not realize what cooperation with the Zionists entails.
It must also be noted that dictatorial regimes in Central Asia and Azerbaijan are not typical examples of authoritarian regimes driven by some sort of “big evil idea.” Central Asian regimes are feudal in nature, where the primary goal of the system is to use the state treasury and the state resources to enhance the bank accounts of the political elites. The total absence of an ideological framework makes the Central Asian regimes vulnerable to foreign manipulation. Therefore, a more accurate classification of these regimes is kleptocracy. It appears the Israeli political elite fully realize that the kleptocratic nature of these regimes provides Tel Aviv a good opportunity to maneuver through the unofficial economic blockade it faces in other Muslim countries where awareness of the Palestinian issue is widespread. In fact since vigdor Lieberman became Foreign Minister of Israel, he has had 28 meetings with high ranking officials from the former USSR states; five of these were with Azeri officials. Currently Israel is expanding ties with the Central Asian regimes on the economic, intelligence and military fronts. Israeli defense companies Elbitand Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) are currently negotiating their way into the Kazakh weapons market. In all other Central Asia states Israel is also interested in their energy resources in order break its dependence on Arab energy markets. At the moment one-sixth of Israeli oil imports are from Azerbaijan. Cooperating with Israel provides the post-Soviet regimes in Central Asia with an opportunity to enhance their entrepreneurial activities in Europe and the US with the help of the Zionist lobby.
It seems Israeli venture into Central Asia is a strategic policy that the current Zionist regime is setting up as a priority. If Israel succeeds in establishing strong ties with regimes in Central Asia it will attempt to undermine the trade relations Iran has already established there. The fact that Turkmenistan raised prices for gas it sells to Iran right before Israel opened its embassy in Turkmenistan last year clearly signals this Zionist policy. Since Central Asia shares a 992 kilometer border with Iran through Turkmenistan, Iran has a significant logistical advantage for trading with Central Asia which Israel will not be able to replace. In the long run the Israeli policy of eliminating Iranian commercial presence in Central Asia is likely to fail. Zionist harassment of the weak and illegitimate regimes, however, will create certain obstacles for Iran’s trade relations with Central Asia. For Tehran to avoid such problems, it should demonstrate to the Central Asian regimes that if they become totally subservient to Zionist interests, their grip on power will end sooner rather than later. The pathological love of power and wealth of Central Asian ruling elites will make them realize that they must avoid actions that will harm the interests of Islamic Iran. The fact that Israel is a staunch ally of the US and NATO, will also provoke a negative reaction from Russia. Therefore, Iranian actions to counter Zionist plots in Central Asia will have Russian support which will enhance Iranian operational capabilities in Central Asia.
There is also the non-tangible goal that Israel is trying to pursue in Central Asia through which it aims to solidify its presence in the region. Currently the Zionist regime is attempting to manufacture an ideological base for the ruling regimes in Central Asia in order to tie them closer to themselves and fill the existing ideological vacuum. The main ideological tool of the Zionist entity in Central Asia is the promotion of Pan-Turkism as a nationalist ideology which is supposed to counter Islamic revival in Central Asia. The prevailing systems, however, are averse to assisting in the manufacture of a new “national ideology” because then their personal interests will have a greater chance of being exposed and may also be overshadowed somewhat. The autocrats of Central Asia must preserve the current status quo in order to survive. Since Pan-Turkism is a threat to Russia as well as the large Turkic ethnicities within its borders, Moscow will prevent the rise of Pan-Turkism seeing it as a threat to its territorial integrity. Also, Turkey has essentially rejected pursuit of Pan-Turkish ideas since the pro-Islamic party came to power, so Israeli efforts in manufacturing a “national ideology” will not succeed. All long term Israeli goals will, therefore, fail at the strategic level. It is the short term implications of Zionist meddling in Central Asia that will create regional instability and against which Islamic Iran must take steps.