bin Laden & Investment

by Nathan Hamm on 7/5/2006 · 1 comment

An Uzbek political expert has uncovered another nefarious US plot against not just Uzbekistan, but the entire region.

A statement by former U.S. anti-terrorist coordinator Richard A. Clarke suggesting that Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden is hiding in Central Asia is a special action by Washington aimed at deterring investment in the region, Andrei Kim, an expert with the Uzbek foundation of regional politics, told Interfax on Wednesday.

“This is a time-delayed mine, rather than an accentual hint,” he said.

“The allegation of the presence of the world’s number one terrorist in Central Asia, rates these countries as unfavorable by default,” expert stressed.

“This may be considered as an offensive response to the withdrawal of the U.S. military base from Uzbekistan. It could also be considered a hint that, firstly, they should be allowed to return and, secondly, that they should strengthen their presence in Kyrgyzstan and in the region in general,” Kim said.

It’s all so clear now… Remember how no one thought it was the slightest bit possible that bin Laden could be somewhere like Afghanistan or Pakistan until exactly one day after Uzbekistan asked the US to vacate K2? And remember how things like corruption and seizure of assets did nothing to deter investment in Central Asia until the US started talking about bin Laden being in the area? With guys like this watching out for everyone in Central Asia, the future sure is bright…

P.S. — Check out this gem from last fall that Kim wrote.

UPDATE: Okay, a little background seems to be in order… Clarke apparently said that bin Laden may be somewhere other than Pakistan or Afghanistan in an interview on NPR. He mentions the former Soviet Central Asian states as possible hiding places. (I should make clear that I more or less assumed that what Clarke said was being misinterpreted by Kim.) But then again, Clarke also says that bin Laden could be in Somalia or Iran, making clear that perhaps the reason he hasn’t been found in Pakistan or Afghanistan is that he is not there. Mary Louise Kelly makes clear that Clarke is engaging in pure speculation. It is perhaps also worth mentioning that Clarke does think bin Laden is a particularly dire threat any longer, and that his capture is not particularly important.

Why is that last bit worth mentioning? Well, because that is not the position of the US government. “Experts” like Andrei Kim would do well to recognize that Clarke is no longer an employee of the US government and that there is not much love lost between him and those in the executive branch right now. His speculation is no more a US attack on Central Asia than it is one on Iran or Somalia.

The same caution regarding Clarke’s position goes for Kyrgyz officials.

Following a statement by former US anti- terrorist coordinator Richard Clarke, Kyrgyz Security Council Secretary Miroslav Niyazov said that local security services do not have information to confirm that notorious Osama bin Laden is staying on the territory of Kyrgyzstan. “We should take this statement very seriously. The United States must have grounds to say so,” Niyazov said. He did not rule out the appearance of bin Laden in Central Asia, Kazinform reported. “Central Asian republics must be vigilant,” he said. [Emphasis added]

Apparently Kazakhstan misunderstood Clarke as well because a MP says that there’s no need to worry, bin Laden’s not in Kazakhstan. Someone needs to fire some translators or foreign press monitors…

Finally, a different story on Kim’s remarks said another reason for the US say bin Laden may be in Central Asia is anger at not being allowed into the SCO and that this all amounts to the US undermining the real fight against international terrorism.

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– author of 2991 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Nathan is the founder and Principal Analyst for Registan, which he launched in 2003. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uzbekistan 2000-2001 and received his MA in Central Asian Studies from the University of Washington in 2007. Since 2007, he has worked full-time as an analyst, consulting with private and government clients on Central Asian affairs, specializing in how socio-cultural and political factors shape risks and opportunities and how organizations can adjust their strategic and operational plans to account for these variables. More information on Registan's services can be found here, and Nathan can be contacted via Twitter or email.

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{ 1 comment }

Hobart July 9, 2006 at 2:52 am

Clarke also says that bin Laden could be in Somalia or Iran,

Hm. It seems highly unlikely that bin Laden, the Wahhabist Sunni, is in Iran, no?

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