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Washington Pursues Its Interests In Central Asia

Stratfor, 2 November 2015

So Taliban leader Mullah Omar is dead, and apparently no one noticed for two whole years. His death is a good thing, insofar as it saves American taxpayers the $10 million bounty the United States was offering for his capture. Still, if I were to drop dead, I’d like to think that someone might notice a bit more promptly, if only because my kids might wonder why no one was cooking dinner anymore. But perhaps that explains the delay: Mullah Omar hadn’t been making dinner for anyone in the U.S. intelligence community. Nonetheless, Mullah Omar’s belatedly recognized demise suggests several lessons for the United States.

1. We don’t know what’s going on.

Mullah Omar was on America’s most wanted list for almost 15 years — and we couldn’t even figure out whether he was still alive.

Take all intelligence assessments with several grains of salt.

Take all intelligence assessments with several grains of salt.

Better still, add a whole bushel of salt: Reports now suggest that Jalaluddin Haqqani, leader of the Taliban’s lethal Waziristan-based Haqqani network, has also been dead for the last year — and he actually did make dinner for people in the U.S. intelligence community, back in the day. What’s next? Soon, I imagine, we’ll be told that Angela Merkel has also been dead for a decade and that the Germans have just been wheeling her effigy to and fro ever since.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry visited Kazakhstan on Monday, the day after meeting with the foreign ministers of all five Central Asian countries in Samarkand, Uzbekistan. Kerry is the first U.S. secretary of state to meet with all five Central Asian foreign ministers simultaneously. Moreover, his visit to Kazakhstan kicked off a tour of each of the Central Asian countries — the first such tour conducted by a U.S. secretary of state.

At their meeting, Kerry and the foreign ministers from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan discussed and publicly promoted areas of cooperation as diverse as economics, water security and education. However, more sensitive and strategic issues are likely to be discussed during Kerry's visits to individual countries. And perhaps the most sensitive and strategic topics will relate to countries not represented at the summit: Afghanistan and Russia.

https://www.stratfor.com/geopolitical-diary/washington-pursues-its-interests-central-asia

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