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Central Asia: springboard for hybrid war?

Frequent provocations on the border with Turkmenistan and Tajikistan cause major concern in the expert community. According to some political scientists, we can't exclude the possibility of using the Central Asian region as a staging area of ​​so-called hybrid wars. Especially since some of its techniques (for example, artificial incitement of ethnic and social conflicts) are already tested here.

Are the authorities of Kyrgyzstan ready for new challenges and threats? Can they ensure our safety? The officials and experts answered to these questions at the round table in 24.kg news agency.

Ready for the election?

The topic of the security in Central Asia is more than urgent now. The organization "Islamic State" (ISIL) and its aggressive campaign in the East cause increasing concern among the leaders of many countries in the world. Last year Kyrgyz experts began talking about threats of ISIL for the first time. Now this issue is actively being discussed. There are many polar views. Experts are trying to figure out whether ISIL is a threat to Central Asia and Kyrgyzstan in particular.

"A number of Western political scientists say that as the conflict subsided in Ukraine, the conflict in Central Asia will inflame. Political analysts believe that the fire starts in Central Asia after the parliamentary elections in Kyrgyzstan. It will be a fuse to ignite the conflict in the region. There is an opinion that Kyrgyzstan is not ready for new challenges, hybrid wars, that arms supplies are based on the old doctrine of warfare. But today the country needs a completely new system, more mobile types of weapons," political analyst Mars Sariev said.

That is the political elite, without realizing it, are key figures in the fight against external forces for the Central Asian region. Evidence shows that the probability of destabilization of the situation in Kyrgyzstan is high enough. Important role in this is played by domestic policies. Mars Sariev thinks so.

"Our parliamentarians, when involved in the discussions, engaged in polemics or make a statement, should take into account the opinion of experts. Can the political elite understand that it can become key players in the fight against external players? That is the main question. Politicians should be aware of the responsibility that falls on them. After all, the experts say that after the election there can be a clash of political elites. It's dangerous," he warned.

However, Lieutenant-General of intelligence services Tokon Mamytov doesn't agree with his opinion. He is confident that the government made the lessons of the tragic events of 2005 and 2010. The government will do everything to make the forthcoming parliamentary elections open and fair. At the same time one shouldn't speak about the struggle between political elites.

"I would abstain from naming anyone in Kyrgyzstan political elite. We have a very twisted concept of elite. We go to extremes. Some expert or prominent political figure is called elite. Or under the concept of elite falls nouveau riche. This too extreme," Tokon Mamytov said.

"I think that the example of Ukraine in the context of ISIL and new hybrid wars is incorrect. Events in Afghanistan, Iraq, the Middle East and in parts of Southeast Asia are fundamentally different from what is happening in Ukraine. There is internal conflict in Ukraine. It is a struggle for resources. Everyone wanted and wants to grab a piece, to break Ukraine. This new elite doesn't care about the people and the country itself: the more disorders, the more money they will have," he added.

There is difference between wars 

One can argue about what may become a pretext to incite conflict in Kyrgyzstan or any other country in Central Asia. But it is necessary to face the truth and admit that the situation in the region is extremely difficult. Recent developments on the borders of Tajikistan and Turkmenistan show the significant danger. And one need to understand what is happening in neighboring countries affects all of the Ferghana Valley. No state at the present time is able to independently confront terrorism.

"We must recognize that a third world war has almost begun. Clashes will be throughout the different parts of the globe. This is not a war in the classic sense. We have to agree with that, its manifestations are already at our doorstep," Tokon Mamytov said.

In this situation, the only hope is the ability of the Armed Forces of the Kyrgyz Republic to defend the security of the country. The General Staff declares their readiness for new challenges and threats. There is nothing to worry about. The Deputy Chief of the Kyrgyz General Staff Ilyas Subankulov notes that in modern conditions threats to the state have multi-vector character. Threat from ISIL today is more than relevant. There is a notion of hybrid war. The General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Kyrgyz Republic was established two years ago exactly for facing new challenges.

"Many estimate scale of military-technical assistance to Kyrgyzstan coming from Russia, Turkey and China from the media. Immediately appear statements that we receive outdated weaponry. But the program of military-technical assistance provides for delivery of helicopters, communications facilities and other military equipment, which will help to improve training of formations and army units. This increases its mobility in new conditions. The General Staff of the Kyrgyz Republic works wherever sees a potential threat to security of Kyrgyzstan," Ilyas Subankulov said.

Hybrid warfare is a complex of military and nonmilitary actions. This can be seen in the events taking place in Africa, the Middle East and Ukraine. At present the threats are transforming. There is no concept of direct military or terrorist threat. They complement each other and become transformed. Therefore, the system for ensuring security of the state changes.

"We are preparing our troops for conducting brush fire activities to block and eliminate threats. We are also working with the media. After all, one of the types of threats - information war. As for internal security forces, they were disbanded in absolutely right way. Internal troops were not able to work during the events of 2010 in the south of Kyrgyzstan. It was the right decision, that the internal troops were included to composition of the National Guard. But that does not mean that we are not working on public safety. The Chief of the General Staff has the right to apply units of the armed forces for crisis management in the country in individual cases. We have documents that prescribe at what point it is possible to do. Not in all cases the Interior Ministry is capable of withstanding the situation that may arise in the country by its own means," Ilyas Subankulov noted.

Stupidity in minds

Experts say: new types of army make wars, they benefit and win.

"Who do we frighten with criminal liability for mercenary? It's the same as to frighten the goat with cabbage. A man willing to give his life, to sacrifice his family, and we scare him by prison. It is an honor for him. The bearded man with the Kalashnikov gun is fighting more effectively. We have to admit it. We must seek for a dialogue. It is necessary to introduce in all higher educational institutions religious studies lessons, develop spiritual and moral qualities, raise cultural and educational level. There should be barriers, but it's not the way out. The issue should be solved as a whole," Tokon Mamytov assured.

The director of the Central Asian Center for Drug Politicy of the KR, the colonel Alexander Zelichenko agreed with him. Military intervention threatens Kyrgyzstan only in 5 percent of cases. Kyrgyzstan is protected from external threats due to interaction with other countries in the framework of the CSTO, the SCO and other organizations. Internal movement is more frightening for the country.

"There are so many factors, so many things mixed, kind of chopper, which makes me doubt that we can ensure security of the state and its residents. Law enforcers are doing their duty honestly. They are not to blame. Maybe the efficiency could be bigger and better, but that is another question. The ideological component raises concern. More and more of our citizens support the idea of ​​radical groups. The movement of people towards the ISIL is provoked by the fact that they can not find a place in the state. They see no future here. In such a situation there appears the following idea: I'll go to the ISIL, become a hero, become famous, fulfilling my religious duty," Alexander Zelichenko stated.

Statistics of the secret service confirms disappointing findings of the expert. Today, more than 350 citizens of Kyrgyzstan have left for fighting in Syria. It is only the official figures. Unofficial figures show that there are much more such people. According to estimates, there may be about a thousand people.

"We should begin a political dialogue urgently. Let's stop hiding your head in sand! More than 70 percent of Kyrgyz citizens, who left for Syria - representatives of Uzbek nationality. This is a wake-up call. Since 2010, no one takes up the problem. That's half a million population, which we should deal with. They should be adapted to make them feel members of the state. Otherwise they will still seek to go somewhere. If there is no inter-ethnic harmony, then, I'm afraid, there may be serious problems," Alexander Zelichenko warned.

The authorities have very specific tasks of ensuring security in the region. But now no one can guarantee that the country's leadership can successfully cope with them. The country is to hold parliamentary elections. And Kyrgyz themselves are not without worries.

The national ideology is limping in both legs as well. For more than 20 years of independence, we have not managed to find the common idea that would rally the country.

Conclusions of experts on secure future in Central Asia are disappointing. The fact that Kyrgyzstan becomes the weakest link in the region is more frustrating.