VOL. 16 NO. 23, 10 December 2014

By Emil Souleimanov (12/10/2014 issue of the CACI Analyst)

On December 4, a group of Chechen insurgents in three vehicles, despite being detected in the outskirts of Chechnya’s capital city, carried out an unprecedented attack on Grozny. After hours of fighting, insurgents, isolated in the republic’s Press House building and a nearby school, situated in the city center, killed 14 and wounded three dozen local policemen. In turn, 11 insurgents were killed. The December 4 attack raised questions about the strength of the Chechen insurgency and the capability of local authorities to stem it. With a three years’ break, the insurgency has been ongoing for two decades.

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By Jacob Zenn (12/10/2014 issue of the CACI Analyst)

The Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP) is a Pakistan-based militant group operating with the Pakistani Taliban and Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU). Led by Uighurs from China’s Xinjiang Province (which the TIP calls “East Turkistan”), the TIP seeks the “liberation” of Xinjiang and its incorporation into a Central Asian Caliphate called “Turkistan.” In 2014, the TIP has sought to emphasize its role in Syria in its propaganda. This suggests that, like the IMU and some Pakistani Taliban factions, the TIP receives inspiration and seeks funding from the Islamic State (also known as ISIS). This is but one of many examples of ISIS’s increasing traction among Central Asian militants.

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By Huseyn Aliyev (12/10/2014 issue of the CACI Analyst)

On November 12, an Armenian combat helicopter was shot down by Azerbaijani defense forces after an attempted attack on Azerbaijani positions over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh. The incident took place just two weeks after the fruitless peace talks between Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev and his Armenian counterpart Serzh Sargsyan, organized on the initiative of French President Francois Hollande in Paris. Although the escalation of violence on the border between the Armenian-controlled breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijan has been growing steadily since the early summer, this particular incident appears to be the highest point yet in the confrontation.

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By Daniel Linotte (12/10/2014 issue of the CACI Analyst)

In January 2015, a new regional agreement will enter into force between Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia – it will create the so-called Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), replacing the Eurasian Economic Community (EEC) established in 2006. Taking into account actual trade flows and national economies, the EEU can hardly be justified and should not have much impact on economic integration among its members. Nevertheless, Western countries should still be worried about possible non-economic consequences of the new agreement, especially for governance, democracy and human rights, in countries that are already displaying authoritarian tendencies.

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  • Russia's Intervention in Ukraine Reverberates in Central Asia
    Wednesday, 19 March 2014 17:46
    Russia's Intervention in Ukraine Reverberates in Central Asia

    By Slavomír Horák (03/19/2014 issue of the CACI Analyst)

    While Russia's intervention in Ukraine at first glance has few implications for developments in the Eastern part of former Soviet territory, Central Asian governments and elites are likely to analyze Russia's recent actions carefully. While the Crimea intervention could serve as a short term deterrent against foreign orientations away from Russia's regional integration project, the increasing Chinese influence in Central Asia will in the long term offer these states a powerful alternative to Russia and the crisis in Ukraine is increasing China's attractiveness as a partner.

    Article 3

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    • Authored Slavomír Horák
  • The Crimean Crisis and Georgia's Breakaway Territories
    Wednesday, 19 March 2014 17:50
    The Crimean Crisis and Georgia's Breakaway Territories

    By Valeriy Dzutsev (03/19/2014 issue of the CACI Analyst)

    Russia’s support for the secession of Ukrainian Crimea is likely to affect Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which Russia unilaterally recognized after the brief Russian-Georgian war of 2008. Following the open confrontation with the West over Ukraine's territorial integrity, Moscow is now ramping up its control over Georgia's breakaway territories. Russia's entrenchment in Abkhazia and South Ossetia is linked to the Russian government's general sense of entitlement to the post-Soviet space and the perceived threat of retreating from it. While there are many parallels between how the situation in Crimea evolves and that in the South Caucasian semi-recognized territories, there are also some important differences.

    Article 2

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    • Authored Valeriy Dzutsev
  • Crimea is not a Pawn on the Ukraine Chess Board - Russia is There to Stay
    Wednesday, 19 March 2014 17:57
    Crimea is not a Pawn on the Ukraine Chess Board - Russia is There to Stay

    By Avinoam Idan (03/19/2014 issue of the CACI Analyst)

    Russia’s move to gain control over the Crimean Peninsula deviates from the context of the crisis in Kiev. Gaining control over Crimea is not a tactic in President Putin’s hands vis-à-vis the competition over Ukraine's future. Crimea is not a pawn on the Ukrainian chess-board in the rivalry between Putin and Obama. The Crimean Peninsula is the “queen” in the chess game Putin is playing; it is aimed at nothing less than improving Russia’s position in the entire Black Sea region, as well as in the area referred to as the Mediterranean Basin.

    Article 1

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    • Authored Avinoam Idan
  • Bishkek's First Official Statement on Ukraine
    Wednesday, 19 March 2014 18:12

    By Arslan Sabyrbekov (03/19/2014 issue of the CACI Analyst)

    On March 11, Bishkek made its first official statement on the ongoing crisis in Ukraine. The Kyrgyz Ministry for Foreign Affairs says that the ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych can no longer be considered the country’s legitimate leader, as he continues to claim.

    Bishkek reacted to Yanukovych's statement on March 11 that he is still Ukraine’s only legitimate President. The Kyrgyz Foreign Ministry stated that the current crisis in Ukraine was caused by widespread corruption and wrong decisions taken by the former authorities of that country. “The only source of power in any country is its people, a president who lost his people’s trust, who de facto lost his presidential authority and moreover, who fled his own country, cannot consider himself to be the legitimate leader,” the statement says. Furthermore, Bishkek described the people who died during the violent clashes in Kiev as “innocent people.”

    The statement did not directly mention the critical situation in Crimean peninsula. But Kyrgyzstan expressed its concern over the development of the general situation in Ukraine and condemned all activities aimed at destabilizing the situation in the country, without specifying who it considers to be responsible for destabilization. The Kyrgyz Foreign Ministry also called on the country’s current political leadership and all other actors to use peaceful methods in resolving the crisis and adhere to national and international law, citing specifically the Charter of the United Nations. Thus, the statement implicitly recognizes the new Ukrainian political elite and power holders.

    Bishkek's reaction immediately turned into a source of discussion among local political analysts. In the words of the Bishkek based political analyst Marat Kazakpaev, “even though the statement of the Kyrgyz Foreign Ministry against Yanukovych seems to contain some sort of political attack on Moscow, it is in fact very tuned and precise.” According to the expert, the statement from the Kyrgyz MFA will not cause a negative reaction from the Russian leadership, especially taken into account its growing economic presence in the Kyrgyz republic, particularly in the form of gas, hydropower, and mining investment projects.

    Based on this opinion, the statement seems to be directed primarily to the domestic audience. On the one hand, it neutralizes a constant claim of the opposition that the current leadership is subordinated to Moscow. On the other hand, it would be illogical for the Kyrgyz authorities, who came to power by means of demonstrations and many casualties to express its support for Yanukovych, who has often been compared to ousted ex-president Kurmanbek Bakiyev. Like Bakiyev, the ousted Ukrainian President Yanukovych had established a heavily corrupt authoritarian regime, used force against demonstrators, and also settled in a foreign country with continuous statements of his legitimacy. Even in terms of foreign policy, the ousted presidents resemble one another in terms of lacking a clear vision and playing with all the big actors in their efforts of maximizing dividends, which were often personal.

    On the contrary, political analyst Mars Sariev believes that "the statement of the Kyrgyz Ministry for Foreign Affairs will negatively impact and cool down the Kyrgyz-Russian relations. As a response to this statement, the Russian Federation can and is in a position to block Kyrgyzstan’s entry into the Customs Union under preferable terms and conditions asked by Bishkek." Sariev also recalled that in 2008, Bishkek took another position than that of the Russian Federation over the Ossetia-Abkhazia conflict in Georgia, which at that time did not cause a heavy deterioration but cooled down relations between the two countries.

    In turn, the U.S. Embassy in the Kyrgyz Republic issued its own statement commending the Kyrgyz Ministry for Foreign Affairs “for its strong statement recognizing the new Ukrainian government. By condemning all acts that would lead to further destabilization in Crimea and elsewhere, and affirming that the legitimate source of power in any country is the will of its people, the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic has shown respect for the democratic aspirations of both the people of Ukraine and the Kyrgyz Republic.”

    While it remains to be seen what this statement will bring, it has turned Kyrgyzstan into the first member of the Russia-led Commonwealth of Independent States with a view that largely contradicts the Kremlin’s.

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    • Authored Arslan Sabyrbekov

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Joint Center Publications

Silk Road Paper S. Frederick Starr, Bulat Soltanov, et. al., "Looking Forward: Kazakhstan and the United States", September 2014. 

Analysis
Svante E. Cornell, "No More Frozen Conflicts"The American Interest, 21 July 2014.

Op-Ed
Svante E. Cornell, "Why America Must Step Up Its Role in Resolving Armenian-Azerbaijani Conflict", Christian Science Monitor, 10 June 2014.

Analysis Halil Karaveli, "Cold Turkey: Reforming Ankara from the Outside In", Foreign Affairs, April 23, 2014. 

Op-Ed
Svante E. Cornell, "Checking Putin's Eurasian Ambitions",Wall Street Journal, 6 April 2014.

Analysis Svante E. Cornell, "Crimea and the Lessons of Frozen Conflicts", The American Interest, 20 March 2014.

Op-Ed S. Frederick Starr, "Moderate Islam? Look to Central Asia", New York Times, 26 February 2014.

Book 
Svante E. Cornell and Michael Jonsson, eds.,Conflict, Crime and the State in Postcomunist Eurasia, University of Pennsylvania Press, February 2014, 304pp. (Click here for contents and first chapter)

Monograph
Svante E. Cornell, Getting Georgia Right, Brussels: Center for European Studies, December 2013.

Silk Road Paper Stephen Blank, Azerbaijan's Security and U.S. Interests: Time for a Reassessment, December 2013.

Book S. Frederick Starr, Lost Enlightenment: Central Asia's Golden Age from the Arab Conquest to Tamerlane, Princeton University Press, September 2013.

 

 

The Central Asia-Caucasus Analyst is a biweekly publication of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Program, a Joint Transatlantic Research and Policy Center affiliated with Johns Hopkins University's Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, Washington DC., and the Institute for Security and Development Policy, Stockholm. For 15 years, the Analyst brings cutting edge analysis of the region geared toward a practitioner audience.

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