China and Tajikistan Stage Anti-Terror Drill amid Afghan Chaos

A Chinese soldier holds a Chinese flag during Peace Mission-2016 joint military exercises of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in the Edelweiss training area in Balykchy some 200 km from Bishkek on September 19, 2016. The joint anti-terrorism drill involves more than 1,100 troops of Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan …
VYACHESLAV OSELEDKO/AFP/Getty Images

China and Tajikistan completed a two-day joint military drill in the Tajik capital of Dushanbe on Thursday designed to test the two nations’ anti-terrorism preparedness along their respective land borders with Afghanistan, the state-run China Daily reported.

The military operation took place from August 18-19 amid emerging jihadist threats from Afghanistan after the Taliban terror group assumed control of the country’s national capital, Kabul, on August 15 by deposing the city’s U.S.-backed government.

China’s Ministry of Public Security and Tajikistan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs oversaw the exercises in Dushanbe this week, which included nearly 100 military officers from both sides participating in “multiple anti-terrorism courses” and practicing “tactical command and coordination [drills],” according to China Daily.

“The drill was held against the backdrop of the current anti-terrorism and security situation in the region, with some terrorist groups continuing to move and gather in northern Afghanistan, posing a serious threat to the security of China, Tajikistan, and the region,” China’s Ministry of Public Security said in a statement.

“In that context, the two ministries decided to hold the drill to further promote the level of joint combat readiness and combat skills of anti-terrorism forces on both sides, and demonstrate the determination of the two sides to fight terrorism to deter terrorist forces threatening the security of the two countries and the region,” the statement further read.

Russia warned on August 10 that the Taliban had already seized control of Afghanistan’s borders with Tajikistan and Uzbekistan ahead of its eventual takeover of Kabul on August 15.

Zhao Kezhi, who serves as both China’s State Councilor and Minister of Public Security, admitted Beijing is “not optimistic” about the heightened risk of jihadist terror attacks across Central Asia in remarks to the press on August 18. He said the new terror threat stems from the Taliban’s successful campaign of jihad in recent months, which saw the Sunni Islam-based group reconquer Afghanistan and Kabul in record time after the U.S. government began a process to withdraw its military forces from the country.

China’s Ministry of Public Security hopes to foment closer ties with Tajikistan’s State Committee for National Security so that the two entities may coordinate joint frontier defense forces and further cooperation under the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), Zhang said on Wednesday.

The SCO is a regional economic and security bloc uniting Central and South Asia. Moscow and Beijing lead the SCO as an Eastern counterweight to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (N.A.T.O.).

“Tajikistan will host the SCO summit in September this year and China will fully support it under the security mechanism of the SCO,” Zhao told reporters on August 18.

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