The head of Kazakhstan continues to pile oddity upon oddity. Each of his statements taken separately can be understood and explained by the imperative of the political situation, but put together they are truly puzzling.
The infamous “20,000 terrorists” evaporated. They vanished like smoke, in just two or three days. It took twenty-four hours to bring in the peacekeepers and ten days to withdraw them. And then there is this confusing wording: “the primary mission”. Meaning, there are also secondary missions. The completion of which could take an indefinite amount of time.
What is Tokayev going to do now? First of all, he is going to carry out a drastic reform in the security bloc. In other words, he will reorganize the national security system, reform the work of the armed forces, law enforcement agencies, national security and foreign intelligence agencies.
That in itself implies a lot of costly and long-term measures such as a qualitative improvement of the army’s combat readiness, a complete restructuring of all the intelligence community of Kazakhstan and at the same time setting up an effective coordination of all the security agencies.
He also needs to build up regional elites, control a large-scale redistribution of property and bring to heel shadow business, which, by the way, makes up about 20% of Kazakhstan’s entire economy. And these are just the first priority measures—which Tokayev will have to accomplish practically without “security coverage”: the “old” National Security Committee is completely compromised, and no alternative has been created so far.
Besides, although the army in the period of turmoil was most mostly faithful to their oath and duty, there are serious questions about the behavior of many units of the armed forces. Overall, the picture looks rather gloomy: the national security, defense and law enforcement agencies of Kazakhstan today are not in any condition to provide effective support to large-scale political reforms. Besides, there is no knowing how deeply “conspirators”, people profoundly and sincerely devoted to Nazarbayev’s team, have infiltrated it.
In these circumstances, the withdrawal of the entire CSTO contingent is tantamount to a headshot for Tokayev. It is one thing to withdraw the Armenian, Kyrgyz and Belarusian units, and quite another to be left without the support of the Russian units. And so the Kazahstani president is forced to maneuver: on the one hand, he has to reassure those who are unhappy with the deployment of foreign troops, and on the other hand, he has to make meaningful caveats about the “primary mission”.
It is not him but Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoygu we should listen to here, as the latter says bluntly that “the Collective Peacekeeping Forces will carry out their tasks until the situation in the Republic of Kazakhstan has been completely stabilized.” This sounds much closer to the truth, since a “complete stabilization” in Russian interpretation means that the Kremlin needs to be sure that Tokayev is stable and that there will be no recurrence of the revolt.
Moscow will be trying different ways to achieve it, from keeping its military presence in key and critical points of the country, to sending considerable number of “political scientists in plain clothes” to Kazakhstan and setting up bases disguised under most innocent names, which could be used for mass deployment in the shortest period of time.
At any rate, one thing is clear today: the Russian Federation has come to Kazakhstan for a long time, and it is not going to leave any time soon, no matter how hard Tokayev may try to convince his country and the world otherwise.
Translated from Haqqin.az