By Richard Weitz
October 19th, 2015, The CACI Analyst
Although international attention regarding Iran naturally gravitates towards Tehran’s activities in the Persian Gulf and the nuclear realm, Iran is also an active player in the South Caucasus, Central Asia, and Afghanistan. Thanks to its nuclear deal with the great powers, the subsequent relaxation of sanctions, and the growth of regional terrorism and Russian military activism, Iran’s influence in the region is set to grow considerably in coming years, though not necessarily to the benefit of the regional states or their Western partners.
By Sudha Ramachandran
October 15th, 2015, The CACI Analyst
The fall of Kunduz to the Taliban has set alarm bells ringing not only in Afghanistan but also far beyond its borders. The capture of Kunduz, even if only temporary, has far reaching implications. It has dealt the Afghan government a heavy blow and is a huge setback for President Ashraf Ghani’s approach and strategy towards the Taliban. While it is expected to force the U.S. to revise its plans for troop withdrawal, Russia, China and Central Asian governments are watching the Taliban’s northward expansion nervously.
By Erica Marat
October 12th, 2015, The CACI Analyst
On October 4, Kyrgyzstan held parliamentary elections marked by significant improvements in the country’s democratic development. The elections have demonstrated the viability of Kyrgyzstan’s 2010 constitution, which delegates more powers to the parliament and aims to prevent the emergence of autocratic political center. Fourteen political parties competed, and six were able to pass the national and regional thresholds to win seats.
By Rafis Abazov
October 8th, 2015, The CACI Analyst
During his recent visit to China, Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev signed a series of trade agreements and Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) on 48 projects valued at about US$ 30 billion. The Minister of Economic Affairs, Yerbolat Dosayev, has called the Chinese market one of the “main markets for Kazakhstan.” The Kazakh government also reiterated its support for the Beijing-instigated “Silk Road Economic Belt (SREB)” initiative and agreed to continue working on several large infrastructure projects. But opinions of Kazakh experts on the SREB are divided. Some believe China’s financial backing will strengthen trade and lead to economic growth, but others are skeptical, claiming it would conflict with the U.S.´s “New Silk Road” initiative.
By Arslan Sabyrbekov
October 1st, the CACI Analyst
Kyrgyzstan’s parliamentary elections are scheduled to take place on October 4, 2015, with 14 political parties competing for 120 seats. The official campaign kicked off on September 4, with leaders of political parties touring the country and presenting their programs. Regional observers anticipate that the election will, unlike most other regional elections, actually be competitive. During the elections, Kyrgyzstan will for the first time in its election history use its controversial biometric registration process, using fingerprints to verify citizens’ identity before voting. In a recently conducted public test, the equipment revealed some of its drawbacks, leading to wider criticism that the process is unconstitutional since citizens who have failed to submit their data cannot vote.
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 the American Foreign Policy Council, Washington DC., and the Institute for Security and Development Policy, Stockholm. For 15 years, the Analyst has brought cutting edge analysis of the region geared toward a practitioner audience.