Russia Urges SCO To Enhance Anti-Terror Efforts In Central Asia

December 15, 2015 – The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) needs to step up efforts to prevent the spread of terrorism at an early stage in Central Asia, Russian experts said.

“A key task is to strengthen the structures inside the SCO mechanism related to anti-terror activities, including (operation of) anti-terror centers and security services, and exchange of information between member states,” Azhdar Kurtov, chief editor of the National Strategy Issues journal and an expert at the Russian Institute for Strategic studies, said in a recent interview.

It will help identify terrorist suspects at an early stage, and block their communication channels and sources of financing recruitment, the expert added.

Since its founding in 2001, the SCO has conducted all-round cooperation concerning security.

To ensure regional security, the bloc has given priority to the fight against the “three evil forces”, terrorism, separatism, and extremism, and founded the SCO’s Regional Counter-Terrorism Structure (RCTS) in 2004.

The danger of terrorism is high is Central Asia, which is rich in mineral resources and is therefore attractive to extremists, Kurtov said.

Several elements have made the region a fertile land for recruiting militants, where Muslims constitute a majority of the population, who might be the object of active propaganda of terrorism, he believed.

The SCO should organize interaction and try to promote mutual understanding among Central Asian states, taking into account the increased risks of invasion by armed terrorist groups from neighboring Afghanistan, where terrorists are becoming more and more active, he proposed.

“If the SCO demonstrates that the level of cooperation between its members is sufficiently high, those who nourish plans of aggressive terrorism in Central Asia will have to think twice as they will face not a state alone but a combined power of the SCO partners,” the expert said.

For Russia, Kurtov believed, security issues in North Caucasus are prominent as the region is geographically close to Syria and Iraq and Turkey, where radical groups are active, and the region has suffered from a relatively low level of social welfare compared to the European part of Russia.

The Russian government, however, has launched a range of programs aimed at improving the social and economic situation in the region, said the expert.

“So the SCO can participate in the implementation of these projects, which are helpful to distract young people from involving in radical activities,” he added.

However, international terrorism could not have been spreading so fast and so aggressively without support from some leading world players, the United State in particular, Kurtov said.

“As the U.S. domination shrinks, it spares no effort to preserve its monopoly and therefore uses more and more aggressive methods in its foreign policy, which has contributed to the formation of radical Islamic movements around the world,” he said.

Therefore the main threat, as Kurtov saw it, consists in the prospect of Washington’s policy, which is increasingly adventurous and ignorant of the international relations regulated by international law.