VOL. 17 NO. 7, 15 April 2015

By Eduard Abrahamyan (04/15/2015 issue of the CACI Analyst)

The visit of Armenia’s President Serzh Sargsyan to the People’s Republic of China on March 24, following his moderate criticism of Russia’s arms deliveries to Azerbaijan, emanated in the signature of a bilateral comprehensive declaration signed between Armenia and China. One of the document’s significant pillars is Armenia’s enrollment in China’s “Silk Road Economic Belt.” Another is an accord to cooperate in the defense and military sphere, emphasizing mutual “military support.” The declaration combined over ten special agreements, involving various ministries of both states, and a preferential loan for adapting and modernizing custom services. China’s agreements with Armenia, coupled with its interest vis-à-vis Azerbaijan and Georgia, heralds China’s economic and political penetration in the South Caucasus.

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By Ariela Shapiro (04/15/2015 issue of the CACI Analyst)

Since November 2014, Georgia’s national currency, the lari (GEL), has devalued an estimated 28 percent against the dollar, measuring at 2.23 to 1 dollar as of April 10, 2015. This currency crisis has severely impacted local Georgian consumers and the operating capacity of Georgian businesses while undermining foreign investor confidence. The current crisis was externally catalyzed by falling oil prices, the Russian ruble’s harsh inflation and regional political and economic destabilization due to the Ukrainian conflict. Domestically, the economic crisis has been exacerbated by the Georgian government’s ambiguous, often ad hoc, economic strategy. Amidst the failing economy and falling domestic confidence, the Georgian political landscape remains deeply fractured and no party has demonstrated political willingness to create a multi-partisan solution to the economic crisis.

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By Emil Souleimanov (04/15/2015 issue of the CACI Analyst)

Recent months have been hectic for Dagestani jihadists. Since mid-2014, this hotbed of the North Caucasian insurgency has witnessed a gradual split, with numerous Dagestan-based jihadist commanders pledging oath (bayat) to the leader of the Islamic State, Abu-Bakr al-Baghdadi. In response, the Caucasus Emirate’s formal leader, Aliaskhab Kebekov, himself a Dagestani, criticized the disloyal commanders for splitting the ranks of the local insurgency. In mid-February, the newly appointed amir of the Dagestani Vilayat, Kamil Saidov, joined Kebekov in his condemnation of those submitting to Baghdadi’s authority. Given the North Caucasian and Dagestani jamaats' weakening capacity, the ongoing developments in Dagestan could break the unity in this last bastion of the regional insurgency. 

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By Ghulam Ali (04/15/2015 issue of the CACI Analyst)

Beijing and Islamabad have completed the groundwork for the implementation of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). A final decision with a clear roadmap is expected during Chinese President Xi Jingping’s much-awaited visit to Pakistan in May 2015. The CPEC is the largest project not only in the relationship between the two states, but also in Pakistan’s history. The future of Sino-Pakistan relations will hinge upon corridor’s success.  

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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.

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  • China's Silk Roads and Their Challenges
    Wednesday, 07 January 2015 16:02
    China's Silk Roads and Their Challenges

    By Stephen Blank (01/07/2015 issue of the CACI Analyst)

    Few realize that China is actually building three Silk Roads, one through Central Asia to Europe; a second, maritime one, through South East Asia to India and South Asia; and third, China is building a robust commercial network through the Arctic to connect it with Europe. In all three cases there is a common geopolitical dream that has been shared by Russian and Asian leaders since the opening of the Suez Canal: building a land-based alternative connecting East, South, and Central Asia to Europe by purely terrestrial means. China’s plans for Central Asia are extraordinarily ambitious but there are serious problems that could undermine them.

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  • The Eurasian Economic Union – Implications for Governance, Democracy and Human Rights
    Wednesday, 10 December 2014 08:58
    The Eurasian Economic Union – Implications for Governance, Democracy and Human Rights

    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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  • Resurgence of the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict - A Russian Move on the Ukraine Chessboard
    Wednesday, 03 September 2014 14:04
    Resurgence of the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict - A Russian Move on the Ukraine Chessboard

    By Avinoam Idan (09/03/2014 issue of the CACI Analyst)

    The return of open fire in the Nagorno-Karabakh (NK) conflict recently brought about a meeting between the presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia in Sochi, under the auspices of President Putin, on August 10, 2014. The growing tension in the conflict and the Sochi meeting take place against the background of the crisis in Ukraine. The Karabakh conflict serves as Russian leverage in influencing and promoting Russia’s geostrategic aims in the Caucasus and beyond, and Russia’s new initiative in the conflict meant to improve Russia’s stance in its confrontation with the U.S. and EU and its hegemony over the gateway to Eurasia.

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Joint Center Publications

Silk Road Paper Svante E. Cornell, S. Frederick Starr, Mamuka Tsereteli, A Western Strategy for the South Caucasus, February 2015.  

Op-Ed S. Frederick Starr, "Dueling Mosques and an American Beacon in AfghanistanThe Wall Street Journal, January 16, 2015.

Article Svante E. Cornell, "Understanding Turkey's Tilt", Journal of International Security Affairs, No. 27, Winter 2014.

Analysis Svante E. Cornell, "Is Georgia Slipping Away?", The American Interest, November 14, 2015. 

Book S. Frederick Starr and Svante E. Cornell, eds., ·Putin's Grand Strategy: The Eurasian Union and its Discontents, Joint Center Monograph, September 2014.

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

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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