The CIA says "it's somewhere in Central Asia." In an effort to stay ahead of the game, soon to be confirmed CIA director John Brennan has already assembled a fleet of weaponized drones to collect intel on suspicious terrorist activity in Kyrzakhstan.
Yet in line with the "dual track" policy also being applied towards Iran, Brennan is reportedly enlisting the efforts of producer George Clooney and director Ben Affleck in a plot vaguely reminiscent of Oscar-winner Argo to infiltrate them into Kyrzakhstan disguised as a Hollywood film crew shooting a movie about Alexander the Great's exploits in Central Asia.
When Kerry, on the eve of his first international trip as secretary of state, praised US diplomats working to secure "democratic institutions" in Kyrzakhstan, little did the State Department know how fierce would be the storm brewing on the horizon. Especially because sources inside the hermit republic have stubbornly decided to remain mum.
In Almaty, Kazakhstan -- where the P5 + 1 (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, plus Germany) is currently at the negotiating table with Iran -- diplomats were deliberately evasive.
European Union sources said that if Kyrzakhstan continues to obstruct the international community's desire for more transparency -- as in refusing to abandon its absolute secrecy program -- the EU will be forced to adopt trade and banking sanctions, following the lead from a "leading from behind" Washington.
Kazakhstan sources in the capital Astana said, "No, this has nothing to do with us. We are a stable 'snow leopard' economy on the way to developed world status. We have a lot of oil and we're doing very good deals with Russia and China, as well as with US Big Oil. We're clean. This may be a plot to subvert the nation."
As for Kyrgyzstan -- a poor, landlocked nation of 5.5 million, also known as the "Switzerland of Central Asia" -- it is not returning any calls, either in the capital Bishkek or in foreign missions. Kyrgyzstan is a key ally in the US-led Global War on Terror (GWOT) centered in Afghanistan; in 2011, the latest data available, Kyrgyzstan received a whopping $41 million in US aid.
Kyrgyzstan was briefly in the news as the epicenter of a Washington-promoted democracy push in Central Asia. It was the seat of the Tulip Revolution in 2005 but also of the counter-tulip revolution of 2010; this all led to somewhat tulip-free elections in 2011. Washington and Moscow are still at odds fighting for influence in Bishkek.
Energy analysts speculate that Kyrzakhstan, though, is something completely different. It may hold some of the largest unexplored reserves of oil and natural gas in the world; thus it is destined to become the most coveted pawn in the ongoing New Great Game in Eurasia.
In an article to be published in the next edition of Foreign Affairs, Zbigniew Brzezinski states that a pipeline from Kyrzakhstan to Western markets, bypassing both Russia and Iran, is forecast to become the number one priority of the Barack Obama administration's pivot to Asia.
North Atlantic Treaty Organization secretary-general Anders Fogh-Rasmussen has already encouraged Kyrzakhstan to join NATO -- which soon will be out of a job in Afghanistan. Rasmussen said, "Our mission is to defend the people of Kyrzakhstan before the country becomes another safe haven for terrorists. Time is running out." If Kyrzakhstan does not comply, Rasmussen said "all options are on the table" in terms of establishing a no-fly zone over the mysterious country.
Other regional "stans," for their part, are already engaged in a lobbying campaign for Kyrzakhstan to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, following express wishes from both Beijing and Moscow. All seem to concur that Kyrzakhstan's application should be considered with no delay, overtaking other nations already in line such as Iran, Pakistan and India.
Urged by the international community, the UN Security Council is meeting in a special session this week to deliberate on the status of Kyrzakhstan. The mood is optimistic; but if the hermit republic persists in remaining invisible, it may be slapped with harsh sanctions and branded as a "rogue state," crossing the red line established by UN Security Council permanent members Russia and China.
In the Middle East, the Syrian National Coalition is taking no chances, assembling a delegation on short notice to visit Kyrzakhstan and ask for weapons for the Syrian rebels, supplementing the ones already bought and shipped from Croatia by Saudi Arabia. Al-Jazeera is planning a special, hosted by Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, to introduce Kyrzakhstan to the world.
Kerry, meanwhile, has embarked on a European/Middle East tour that is taking him to Britain, Germany, France, Italy, Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar. There is no scheduled stop in Kyrzakhstan.
1. For a video of Kerry's gaffe, see here.