Friday, June 08, 2012 -
The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) on Friday launched anti-terror military exercises in Tajikistan.
Much of the war games, dubbed ‘Peace Mission-2012’, will play out in the mountainous terrain of the tiny impoverished nation through June 14.
Around 2,500 soldiers of five of the SCO’s six member states will participate in the drills. The exercises will utilize heavy armor and artillery as well as aircraft.
"The purpose of the exercise is to improve the uniform order of the military authorities in the preparation of joint counterterrorism exercises in the mountainous terrain," said Tajikistan’s defense ministry, the KyrTAG news agency reported.
The war games are divided into several phases, dealing with various crisis scenarios.
The regional security body is designed to strengthen collaboration between China, Russia, and four Central Asia nations Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.
But Uzbekistan has refused to join this year’s drills. Observers say the reason is because its nemesis is hosting the events. However, it is customary for Uzbekistan to forego involvement in the SCO's military drills.
The governments of Uzbekistan and Tajikistan wrangle incessantly over a slew of differences ranging from water sharing to energy supplies, boundaries, ethnic minorities, and more.
Last year’s exercises were hosted by Kazakhstan.