Shanghai Cooperation Organization’s Peace Mission 2007
On August 11, The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) initiated
phase two of "Peace Mission 2007", a military exercise comprised of
troops from Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and
Tajikistan. The SCO was founded in Shanghai on June 15, 2001 by these
six nations. SCO's member states have a total population of 1.455
billion, about one quarter of the total human population on Earth.
number of SCO members participating in the current exercise has
increased from two to six since Peace Mission 2005 in which only Russia
and China participated. NIA Novosti reminds that Peace Mission 2005
invovled "large-scale amphibious landings on China's Yellow Sea coast
suggesting to some the exercise was preparation for a Chinese invasion
According to Asia Times Online, Iran, India,
Mongolia and Pakistan were elevated from observer status to full
members of the SCO in April, 2007. This move was reportedly a response
to US threats of military action in Iran, however, these newly elevated
states are not participating in Peace Mission 2007. There are
conflicting reports about Iran's current status in the SCO, however
Iran, Pakistan, India and Mongolia will reportedly be represented in
Moscow during the exercises. The Iranian Fars News Agency reports
that Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will attend the closing
summit "in accordance with SCO regulations and an agreement reached by
member states." Ahmadinejad's attendance at the summit will be part of
his five day tour of Afghanistan, Turkmenistan and Kyrgyzstan.
Moscow newspaper Kommersant suggests that Russia and China are not
minimizing their dominance of the 2007 exercise noting that signs in
the training camp are in Russian and Chinese only, and "the training
camp is decorated with posters showing a firm handshake of Russian and
Chinese flags" The Turkish Daily News suggests that Russia and China
have become "friends" since the US occupied Afghanistan and began
forcing regime change in other central Asian countries.
President Hamid Karzai will also be in attendance as Russia and China
continue to woo the Karzai government promising protection from a
Susan N. Stevenson, a spokeswoman for the
U.S. Embassy in Beijing has indicated that the US asked "to be invited,
and we were told no" according the the Seattle Times.
took place on August 9 in China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.
Chiefs of Staff from each of the six military forces met in the city of
Urumqi for military-political consultations and to give orders. Phase
two, described as "prepatory", started with a parade of 2,000 troops
near a military base in Russia's Ural Mountains. The third and final
phase will involve maneuvers and an exhibition of the military arsenal
including devices used in counter terrorism operations. Special
purpose detachments, air assault elements and sniper units will
participate. On August 16, the leaders of the SOC countries - Russian
President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Hu Jintao, Kazakh President
Nursultan Nazarbayev, Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, Tajik
President Emomali Rakhmonov and Uzbek President Islam Karimov - will
meet in Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan. The operation ends on
Compostion of Peace Mission 2007
Russia: 4,700 soldiers
2,000 in the drills,
2700 are responsible for logistics
Mi-8, Mi-24 and Mi-28N helicopters
China: 1,700 soldiers and officers
of the People's Liberation Army
G-9 and Mi-17 helicopters
IL-76 transports and
JH-7A "Flying Leopard" fighter-bombers
Tajikistan: 200 soldiers in two paratrooper companies
Kazakhstan: 200 soldiers in two paratrooper companies
Kyrgyzstan: air assault platoon
Uzbekistan: staff officers who run the exercise
Combined: 6,500 soldiers will partipate in the drills
500 military vehicles will participate in the drills
Vladimir Moltenskoi, first deputy commander of Russian land forces,
stated at a news conference on 03 July 2007 that Peace Mission 2007 is
not targeted at any "third country." Moltenskoi described the exercise
as a terrorist drill. Adam Wolf of PINR explained that "one of the
main scenarios of the exercises will involve retaking a town that has
been overrun by militants. Reports claim that Russian officials
developed the scenario based on the events in Uzbekistan's Andijan
Province in 2005, which led to Uzbekistan's isolation from the West.
This scenario displays how the S.C.O. views its role in collective
security terms for the region."
In Japan Focus: Asia Pacific
e-Journal, M K Bhadrakumar described as "understatements" Moltenskoy
remark that the exercises are not "not aimed at third countries" and a
Chinese Ministry of Defense statement that emphasized the exercises "do
not target other countries and do not involve interests of countries
outside the SCO". The government-owned China Daily reported the
exercises are intended to demonstrate that "SCO cooperation over
security has gone beyond the issues of regional disarmament and
borders, for it includes how to deal with non-traditional threats such
as terrorists, secessionist forces and extremist religious groups".
K Bhadrakumar served as a career diplomat in the Indian Foreign Service
for more than 29 years, with postings including ambassador to
Uzbekistan (1995-98) and to Turkey (1998-2001). His article, "Shanghai
Cooperation Organization Primed and Ready to Fire: Toward a Regional
and Global Realignment?", in Japan Focus is a detailed analysis of
tensions in central Asia. Its not possible to recount here the nuances
of Bhadrakumar's analysis. In it he identifies the US strategy to
realign the oil rich former Soviet Republics with the US and NATO, and
the Russian goal of maintaining influence over those former Republics.
Among other factors are the cooperation among Iran, Turkey and the
Eurpean Union to build the Nabbuco gas pipeline to deliver gas from
Turkmenistan to Europe, and a statement by Russian strategic analyst
Gleb Pavlovsky about the "relentless US encirclement of Russia" noting
that "virtually all countries along Russia's southern and western
borders are being stuffed with missiles ... A mad arms race in the
Caucasus, Caspian and Black Sea regions is under way..."
K. Gvosdev of the "National Interest" recognizes Chinese and Russian
assurances that the military exercise should not be viewed as a threat
to the West, noting that the Chinese want no disruption with the West
given the upcoming Beijing Olympics in August 2008. However, he
identifes increasing Asain cooperation as a challenge to the "promise
Zbigniew Brzezinski outlined in the Winter 2003/04 issue of The
National Interest, that "America can look to only one genuine partner
in coping with the 'Global Balkans'": Europe"?" Gvosdev suggests the
US will likely be compelled to be a team player with Asian nations
despite the US vision of being the sole super power.
most of the two billion rubles that Peace Mission 2007 cost. According
to Kommersant, "The generosity is not surprising. Peace Mission 2007 is
essentially part of a plan to turn the SCO into a Central Asian
military and political bloc to protect Russia's interests and counter a
growing influence of the United States in the region. The same task is
to be voiced at the August 14 summit in Kyrgyzstan's Bishkek which will
bring together all SCO leaders. June meetings of SCO foreign and
defense policy chiefs have shown that Moscow would seek support of its
allies to counter Washington in issues ranging from the proposed U.S.
missile shield in Eastern Europe to expelling the U.S. military base
from the Manas airport in Kyrgyzstan. Vladimir Putin and his
counterparts are to fly right from Bishkek to Chebarkul for the final
stage of Peace Mission 2007 to demonstrate that the SCO has the
resources and power to "fight against aggressive plans".
searches for "Peace Mission 2007" and similar terms suggests the
military exercise is being lightly covered in the West, or lightly
referenced in Google. The only US newspaper to turn up in the search
at the time of this writing was The Seattle Times with the headline,
"Russia, China and allies play war game". "Wired" blogger, Bruce
Sterling, has referred to Peace Mission 2007 as "The Other
War-On-Terror". The UK Guardian Unlimited's, Simon Tisdall, begins a
respectable analysis of the event in his "Putin's politics put partners
on edge", but Tisdale descends into a series of ad hominem attacks
against Putin that distract in a flurry of denial. The Radio Free
Europe website reported that Peace Mission 2007 is the largest military
exercise to date for the SCO, and Eruasia editor Matthew Clements
suggests "the scale of Peace Mission 2007 seems slightly excessive for
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K. Bhadrakumar, "Shanghai Cooperation Organization Primed and Ready to
Fire: Toward a Regional and Global Realignment?," Japan Focus: Asia
Pacific e-Journal, August 10, 2007, http://japanfocus.org/products/details/2494 (accessed August 12, 2007).
"Drill not to push SCO into military alliance - experts," China Daily, August 12, 2007, http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2007-08/12/content_6022763.htm (accessed August 12, 2007).
Gabuev, "Maneuvers to Outflank US: The Shanghai Cooperation
Organization launches military exercises," Kommersant Moscow, August
10, 2007, http://www.kommersant.com/p793960/r_527/Shanghai_Maneuvers/ (accessed August 12, 2007).
Nikolas K. Gvosdev, "A 'Peace Mission' Without the West?," The National Interest Online, August 10, 2007, http://www.nationalinterest.org/Article.aspx?id=15144 (accessed August 12, 2007).
"Iran unlikely to join SCO: China," Daily Times - Leading News Resource of Pakistan, August 10, 2007, http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2007%5C08%5C10%5Cstory_10-8-2007_pg4_19 (accessed August 12, 2007).
Tim Johnson, "Russia, China and allies play war game," Seattle Times Newspaper, August 11, 2007, http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2003831600_asia11.html (accessed August 12, 2007).
Ali Külebi, "Russia and the thrust on Asian policy," Turkish Daily News, August 10, 2007, http://www.turkishdailynews.com.tr/article.php?enewsid=80412 (accessed August 12, 2007).
""Peace Mission 2007" not targeted against third country," Shanghai Cooperation Orgainzation, July 3, 2007, http://www.sectsco.org/news_detail.asp?id=1517&LanguageID=2 (accessed August 12, 2007).
Palmer, "Central Asia: SCO To Hold Largest Military Exercises To Date,"
Radio Free Europe - Radio Liberty, August 8, 2007, http://www.rferl.org/featuresarticle/2007/08/B04CCF5D-9CBD-4DF6-B07E-9454ECC7324D.html (accessed August 12, 2007).
Nikita Petrov, ""Peace Mission 2007" to tackle terror threats," RIA Novosti, July 24, 2007, http://en.rian.ru/analysis/20070724/69580465.html (accessed August 12, 2007).
Bruce Sterling, "The Other War-On-Terror coalition," Wired Blogs, August 10, 2007, http://blog.wired.com/sterling/2007/08/the-other-war-o.html (accessed August 12, 2007).
"The Official Website of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games," The Official Website of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, http://en.beijing2008.cn/ (accessed August 12, 2007).
Simon Tisdall, "Putin's politics put partners on edge ," Guardian Unlimited, August 10, 2007, http://www.guardian.co.uk/russia/article/0,,2145968,00.html (accessed August 12, 2007).
Adam Wolfe, "Peace Mission 2007 and the S.C.O. Summit," Power and Interest News Report, August 10, 2007, http://www.pinr.com/report.php?ac=view_report&report_id=672&language_id=1 (accessed August 12, 2007).
Yunlong (Ed.), "SCO military forces start 2nd phase of anti-terror
joint drill," SCO military forces start 2nd phase of anti-terror joint
drill, August 11, 2007, http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2007-08/11/content_6514853.htm (accessed August 12, 2007).