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Eurasia Security Watch - No. 266

Edited by Jeff Smith and Isaac Medina
September 26, 2012


IRAQI GOVERNMENT ACCUSED OF ALLOWING IRANIAN WEAPONS SHIPMENTS TO SYRIA
Iraq has been accused of allowing Iranian weapons and military personnel to be shipped to Syria through Iraqi airspace. While the Iraqi government has denied the claims, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has threatened to re-evaluate US aid to Baghdad unless such flights to Syria are stopped. According to Senator John Kerry, chairman of the committee, the current mood in Congress does not favor foreign aid recipients who “seem to be trying to have it both ways.” According to a Western intelligence report, the shipments were sent by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard to aid President Bashar Al-Assad fight insurgents. Reuters reported on Wednesday that Iran was also using trucks to make highly systematic shipments to Syria through Iraqi territory. "Iraq has confirmed that it will never be involved or helping or allowing any shipment via its air space or land to Syria," Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh told Reuters. (Reuters September 20, 2012; New York Times September 19, 2012)

THE PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY SEEKS TO UPGRADE ITS UN STATUS
The Palestinian Authority is seeking to change its UN status to “non-member observer state” from “observer entity.” Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas plans to address the UN General Assembly on September 27, after which his aides will consult with other nations before presenting the request. Under the current proposal, the Authority will claim the borders drawn by the 1967 armistice line along with East Jerusalem as its capital. A Palestinian status upgrade would allow it access to the International Criminal Court (ICC). In April, the ICC rejected a Palestinian request to look into alleged crimes in the Palestinian territories due to their lack of full UN membership. In an attempt to dissuade Abbas and avoid a U.N. showdown, Israel has threatened to withhold tax revenues that are vital to the cash-strapped Palestinian Authority. The United States might also impose financial penalties. (Reuters September 20, 2012)

RUSSIA PREPARES FOR A STRATEGIC PUSH IN CENTRAL ASIA AS NATO FORCES WITHDRAW
As the 2014 deadline for NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan approaches, Russia is preparing to forge comprehensive partnerships in Central Asia. Starting this week, Russia will commence a series of high-level exchanges with its regional allies, paying particular attention to Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Pakistan. Among other things, Russia aims at forgiving some of Kyrgyzstan’s debt and is building a dam there. Putin’s visit to Bishkek, however, is making Washington uneasy because Moscow is expected to increase its military presence near Fergana Valley while the US is struggling to find basing alternatives to Manas. Mr. Putin received a fifteen-year extension for Moscow’s lease on Kant airbase in exchange for a gradual cancellation of Kyrgyz debt to Russia. In addition, Russia will take large stakes in the Dastan torpedo plant near Lake Issyk-Kul. As for the US airbase in Manas, the Kyrgyzstani government has expressed its intentions to transform it into a civilian airport. Hillary Clinton is scheduled to visit Dushnabe in October, which will potentially coincide with Putin’s visit to the Tajikistani capital that same month. (Asia Times September 19, 2012; Christian Science Monitor September 20, 2012)

TURKMENISTAN CANCELS IRANIAN RAIL PROJECT BUT TRADE RELATIONS REMAIN GOOD
The government of Turkmenistan has decided to stop an Iranian railroad project that would run through its Caspian coastline and into Kazakhstan, thereby connecting the three countries. The project, originally scheduled to be finished in December of last year, will be taken up by the Turkmen government and is projected to handle up to 5 million tons of goods per annum. According to Slavomir Horak, a scholar at Johns Hopkins University, President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov made the decision to take over the project when he visited it for inspection and became aware of the project delays. The cancellation of the Iranian contract, however, will not damage bilateral relations with Iran, said Horak. Accroding to Hamid Goozaliyan, trade attaché of the Iranian embassy in Ashgabat, Iran’s exports to Turkmenistan have grown fourfold compared to 2008. Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said Tehran is ready to raise its trade volume with the Central Asian nation to $10 billion, up from $5 billion in 2011. (Eurasianet September 13, 2012; FARS News Agency September 24, 2012)


Related Categories: Central Asia; Caucasus

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