This is what Iran is claiming. On Tuesday, Abdulmalak Rigi, the leader of the Sunni Muslim militant group Jundullah, which has been fighting Iran for years, was arrested by Iranian authorities.
There were conflicting stories about the circumstances of Rigi's arrest, but one was that he was en route from Dubai to Kyrgyzstan for a meeting with a "high-ranking American" at Manas Transit Center, where they were to discuss American support, including a base in Afghanistan near the Iranian border, weapons and training. And this is what he said in his televised confession on Friday:
“They told me that they have a base in Kyrgyzstan named Manas, near Bishkek. And that a high-ranking person was coming to meet me and when such high-ranking people come, Emirates intelligence would take them under observation. But in Bishkek, this high-ranking American person could come and we could reach agreement on making the proper contacts."
In 1839, Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Stoddart of the British Army went to Bukhara, in what is now Uzbekistan, to convince its emir to ally with Britain against Russia in that strategic borderland between the two empires. The emir instead threw Stoddart into a dungeon known as "The Bug Pit," a dank manure- and vermin-filled hole. When another officer, Captain Arthur Conolly, went to win Stoddart's release, he, too, was thrown into the Bug Pit. In 1842, both men were beheaded before a cheering crowd.
Today, foreign militaries are again trying to create alliances and gain influence in Eurasia, building airbases and selling weapons, while conflict threatens to spill over from Afghanistan and to reignite in the Caucasus. And while the perils are not as baroque as in the 19th century, military affairs in Eurasia remain tempting, risky and eventful. The Bug Pit will cover it all.
About The Author
Joshua Kucera covers Washington, D.C. for EurasiaNet
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