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Cablegate: Turkmen-Afghan Joint Border Training

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PP RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHBI RUEHCI RUEHDBU RUEHDF RUEHIK RUEHLH RUEHLN
RUEHLZ RUEHNEH RUEHPW RUEHROV RUEHSK RUEHSL RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHAH #1122/01 2461257
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 031257Z SEP 09
FM AMEMBASSY ASHGABAT
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3405
INFO RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC PRIORITY
RUCNCLS/ALL SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA COLLECTIVE
RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA 5623
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 3342
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 3206
RUEHIT/AMCONSUL ISTANBUL 3866
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 1121
RHMCSUU/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
RUEHVEN/USMISSION USOSCE 3864
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ASHGABAT 001122

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

STATE FOR SCA/CEN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV ETTC PARM PREL PBTS OSCE AF TX
SUBJECT: TURKMEN-AFGHAN JOINT BORDER TRAINING
ORGANIZED BY OSCE

Sensitive but Unclassified. Not for Public Internet.

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: On August 21, Turkmen and Afghan
customs officials completed joint training,
facilitated by the OSCE, in Ashgabat and Atamurat
(formerly Kerki), a town in southeast Turkmenistan.
This was the first ever joint training for Turkmen and
Afghan customs officers. The course was aimed at
teaching anti-smuggling techniques to prevent drug
trafficking across the shared border. The OSCE used
former British and U.S. officials as instructors to
teach risk and threat assessment, profiling,
targeting, and search and detection techniques. The
OSCE expects even greater success from its next
project on border security, which the Turkmen
government strongly supports. The implementation of
OSCE customs and border security projects is a sign of
improved cooperation within Central Asia and
particularly with Afghanistan. END SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) Political Assistant was able to observe the
completion on August 21 of an OSCE project on border
security that stemmed from a decision by the OSCE
Council of Ministers to increase involvement with
Afghanistan. The project consisted primarily of
train-the-trainer courses for Turkmen Customs
officials. Ten senior Turkmen Customs officers
participated in the first stage of the project to
become trainers. They in turn trained two additional
ten-person groups of Turkmen Customs officials. The
first three stages of the program were held in
Ashgabat at the Turkmen State Customs Service Training
Center.

3. (SBU) The fourth and final stage of the program,
joint training for Turkmen and Afghan customs
officials, was held in Atamurat (formerly Kerki),
which is close to Imam Nazar, a border crossing point
between Turkmenistan and Afghanistan. Imam Nazar was
originally chosen as the training location, but at the
suggestion of the OSCE team and Afghan Ambassador in
Ashgabat, the Turkmen authorities agreed to shift the
location to Atamurat, which had better facilities.
Turkmenistan was the first Central Asian country to
host an OSCE training program for Afghan customs
officials. The eight Afghan participants were taught
by their Turkmen colleagues who had participated in
the first stages of the program, with the training
being overseen by former British and U.S. customs
officers.

4. (SBU) The course focused on risk and threat
assessment, profiling and targeting techniques, and
search and detection techniques, which were priorities
for the foreign trainers, as well as the Turkmen and
Afghan officials. The training included practical
exercises and discussion. The OSCE Center in Ashgabat
considered this program a great success, and OSCE
Ambassador Arsim Zekolli will publish the results in a
report to the member states.

5. (SBU) This customs training program will be
followed by additional joint Afghan-Turkmen training
on border security, which will be taught by experts
from the UK and Finland. The OSCE expects even
greater cooperation and success in the border security
project since Chairman of the Turkmen State Border
Service Murat Islamov has expressed concern about
border security issues. He was previously a close
advisor on legal issues to former president Niyazov

ASHGABAT 00001122 002 OF 002


and the founder of the State Migration Service, which
is reportedly the best organized and technologically
equipped law enforcement agency in Turkmenistan.

6. (SBU) COMMENT: This customs training project
signals a new stage in OSCE relations with
Turkmenistan, as well as a new willingness on the part
of both the OSCE and the Turkmen Government to get
involved in Afghanistan. Turkmenistan has
transitioned from ostracizing the OSCE for its
reporting on human rights and political prisoners in
the wake of the assassination attempt on former
president Niyazov, to the point that President
Berdimuhamedov has discussed OSCE projects with the
OSCE Secretary General. END COMMENT.

CURRAN

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