Troops burnt car
© Mariya Gordeyeva/Reuters
Troops in Almaty's main Republic Square • January 6, 2022
This week's events in Kazakhstan are not surprising.

Less than one week before a major summit between the United states NATO and Russia over the security architecture of Eastern Europe, we're treated to another failed color revolution in the most strategically important place along Russia's southern border.

There was looting, horrific violence and former government buildings, the ultimate symbols of power, set on fire.

What may have been surprising was how quickly Russia and Kazakh's President, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev invoked the CSTO to come in and stop the nonsense. But, if it didn't happen this way the consequences for Russia and the rest of Asia would have been catastrophic.


Comment: CTSO: Collective Security Treaty Organization


Kazakhstan is simply too big and too important for Russia to even consider allowing to fall back into the hands of someone like Nursultan Nasarbaev, a true post-Soviet meglomaniac, Russophobe and self-interested jackass whose double dealings with the West are just shy of those by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

This article by Fyodor Lukyanov, brings up a lot of good points about what this intervention means for the future and I highly recommend it. But what's most important now is that this was a stiff message to Washington, London and Brussels. Get out of Central Asia and stay out. Russia is now in control of the Heartland.

The situation is complicated.

While Nazarbayev resigned from power in 2019 he hadn't really left the room. Alexander Mercouris noted the other day that Nazarbaev still controlled the Security Council in Kazakhstan. So, there was this weird power sharing arrangement in place, which apparently began to break down.

This is the key to understanding what's happened so far.

This morning Reuters is reporting that the head of Kazakhstan's intelligence services, Karim Massimov, has been arrested and charged with treason.

Who is Massimov and why is he important to the bigger picture? This one from the NY Post is worth a lot more than a thousand words:
4 guys
So, just in case anyone was confused about the idea that there could be some outside motivations for taking Kazakhstan away from Russia, I thought it good to get some things out in the open.

But, back to the future. The security council in Kazakhstan controls the military. Therefore, Nasarbaev controlled the military. When the protests began on Tuesday, January 4th, the military was frozen having not been given any orders.

Coincidence? Of course not.

Now what have I said a hundred times on this blog?

"Spooks start civil wars, but militaries end them."

If the military was sidelined without orders than that would be the main way to assist the spook operation on the ground to create havoc and potentially spark a wider political crisis which the military wouldn't be able to deal with effectively, plunging the country potentially into some kind of failed state/civil war.

However, that situation isn't sustainable unless all the institutions of government was simultaneously paralyzed.

By Thursday morning Tokayev announced control of the Security Council and he immediately deployed the military. Having prevailed there, after that he could invoke the CSTO to help intervene and stabilize the situation. By doing this and quickly gaining control of the Kazakh military, Tokayev quickly put to rest the main thrust of the uprising and forced Nasarbaev, reportedly, out of the country.

Nasarbaev has been a thorn in Russia's side for decades, like Lukashenko in Belarus, courting the West to play them off of Russia. This uprising, in my mind, doesn't get as far as it did without him sitting on his hands, since he controlled the military.

Blaming any of this on a doubling of LPG prices - Liquefied Petroleum Gas - is typical MI6/CIA misdirection. Buried in Pepe Escobar's latest piece on Zerohedge is some of the reality on the ground since the foundation for the uprising was already laid.

But, as always, Pepe can't help himself to a heaping of silly Euro-leftism with his digs at capitalism.
The reason is - what else - unbridled neoliberalism and the proverbial free market shenanigans. Since 2019 liquefied gas is electronically traded in Kazakhstan. So keeping price caps - a decades-long custom - soon became impossible, as producers were constantly faced with selling their product below cost as consumption skyrocketed.
Seriously, the price went from 8 rubles/liter (or $0.40/gallon) to 20 rubles/liter ($1.00/gallon) and this was supposed to be the match that lights all of Kazakhstan on fire?

Please, give it a rest.

Yes, price controls are stupid. Yes, they create unsustainable expectations in the minds of consumers. But, by all accounts the Kazakh government warned people that this was gong to happen, so the people knew what was coming.

Unrest? Sure. Some anger? Absolutely. But a full-blown Marxist-rhetoric tinged revolution with typically insane demands? Again, please, spare me the 3rd grade analysis. Events of this magnitude mean we all must step up our game past our own ideological biases, including mine.

The question no one seems to want to ask is, "Why would they go from full subsidy to no subsidy overnight, timed with the latest Summit between Russia and the West?"

I sincerely doubt it wasn't to right some terrible violation of free market principles.

It was much more likely to get the most color revolution bang for the buck (per liter) by shocking the people.

This implies strongly that Nasarbaev and outside forces were behind the fuel subsidy changes, because anyone involved in responsible governing would have rolled them back, say 10% per month until a market price was established allowing people to adjust gradually. This fact alone tells you there was a much bigger game afoot here.

So, with these things established this is what I think has happened and how it will be used by all involved:

First, I don't think for a minute that Putin and his staff were unaware of whatever operation was afoot. It would be folly to think that Putin today wouldn't want to rid himself of another ex-Soviet strongman he's not been able to remove or subjugate. There have been thoughtful suggestions that it was his influence that forced Nasarbaev out of the Presidential palace in the first place in 2019.

I don't seem to recall anyone from the Kremlin shedding a tear about the change in power in Astana.

It seems obvious to me that Nasarbaev tried to bait and switch — to leave power nominally, but control all the major levers of power. Leaving him a kind of sleeper to be activated for whoever paid him the most. This would leave his replacement, Tokayev, holding the bag when the timing was right.

Think about what Tokayev did first this week after the fighting started. He gave the protestors what they wanted, disbanding the government, and reinstated the LPG subsidies. That isolates the late-comers and the uncommitted from the foreign-led agitators and operators. That the fighting continued afterwards also tells you a lot.

The Europeans and Americans are not honest brokers. Lukashenko got the message in 2020, he has no future without Russia. He also learned he isn't as powerful or skilled at this game as he thought he was.

Nasaebaev, apparently, never did.

So, I can see Putin gaming this out to wait for MI6/CIA to make their move and pounce on the fulcrum of the rebellion - a sidelined military - as quickly as possible. That way everyone's motivations and loyalties are brought into the open and the situation quickly brought under control.

This is the #winning part for Russia.

Second, unfortunately, the losing part for them is how the West will spin this going into next week. This was another operation designed to lose on the ground but win politically. Because now the endless virtue signaling commences that Russia is really still in charge in all of the old USSR. All of these new organizations - the EAEU, CSTO, SCO, etc. - are just thin cover for a vast Putin-led dictatorship.

This is why the U.S./EU/NATO cannot allow him to dictate terms over Ukraine or anything else (including where he puts his troops within his own borders). It's also why NATO is now, more than ever, necessary to contain him.

You can see the story a mile away now. That story is uniquely neoconservative, and it serves the interests of those fiefdoms staring at an existential crisis, as I talked about in my last article, if talks in Geneva go the way they should.

The speed with which this revolt was put down tells you two things:
1) It was poorly and hastily planned even if Nasarbaev was effectively a sleeper agent.

2) It was never intended to effect regime change in Kakakhstan, but to be the final poison pill for Russian/Western relations per Davos' desires.
Kazakhstan was likely the last big operation of this Neocon remnant within U.S. and/or British bureaucracies to keep the Trotsky dream alive and the Davos coalition from splintering further. I told you these are both cornered animals, facing similar but different existential threats. They will not go down without a fight.

It looks like they took their shot here, but it failed. More bloody than the Bay of Fat Pigs in Venezuela a few years ago under Pompeo and Trump, but a failure nonetheless.

The Russians have now successfully countered the last four color revolutions attempted on its border regions. Kazakhstan was the big one. Putin learned his lesson with Yanukovich and Ukraine in 2013/14. Don't let this fester, nip it in the bud quickly.

But at the same time, without the failure in Ukraine, people like Tokayev and Lukashenko never fully get the message about the West's intentions for them. They have to experience the betrayal personally to believe it.

There's a lesson there for COVID-19 ninnies if they are listening.

So, sometimes you have to lose a battle to win the larger war.

Whether you want to see this in terms of Russian cauldron strategy or not is your prerogative. I believe Putin saw Syria in these terms, a place where the West over-extended itself to be counter-attacked ruthlessly exposing its hypocrisy and responsibility for the situation.

When the UK Parliament refused Prime Minister David Cameron's request to join Obama in Syria, I think Putin saw the beginnings of his opportunity to take action on the wider stage.

The same thing was at play here with Kazakhstan and the CSTO. This was the opportunity to counter a hastily-prepared operation smartly while announcing to the world that Russia is not alone out there nor are they so weak they cannot come to the aid of an important ally at every level — politically, economically, culturally and strategically.

Kazakhstan fits that bill perfectly.

They can now leverage these organizations to end the era of Color Revolutions on its soft underbelly and strengthen the entire Asian continent.

It's quite a big moment when you think of it in those terms. It means the final nail in the coffin of Mackinder's Heartland strategy for NATO. It means there is no leverage left and the time for honest negotiations can begin.

It has huge implications for next week's talks in Geneva over Ukraine. No amount of narrative control will overcome the reality on the ground. That's what will ultimately break the Neocons and Davos. It's what can begin to bring sanity to this world gone mad.

This is a fire in the minds of the powerful and insane that so needed putting out.
About the Author:
Tom Luongo is the publisher of the Gold Goats n Guns - ruminations on Geopolitics, Markets and Goats.