By Robert M. Cutler
August 28th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
On June 25, Presidents Vladimir Putin of Russia and Xi Jinping of China met in Beijing, immediately after spending two days together in Tashkent at a summit meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). The two countries’ industrial cooperation is dominated by the energy sector, where the several dozen agreements that were signed in Beijing confirmed that in bilateral economic and trade relations China is the agenda-maker and Russia is the agenda-taker. This relationship is now extending itself to the geoeconomic competition between the two in Central Asia and East Central Eurasia generally, as well as into Greater South Asia at a slower pace.
By Rafis Abazov
June 28th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
Kazakh experts have recently begun to call water the “liquid gold of the 21st century,” as all states in the Central Asian region face greater demand for water concurrent with a significant decline in water supply. The Aral Sea – which became a symbol of environmental mismanagement and environmental catastrophe at the end of the 20th century – shows that sustainable development policies can help to deal with even the most difficult water issues. Conversely, however, mismanagement and border conflicts over water might worsen the situation, leading to further political and economic tensions. The current question is whether Kazakhstan can collaborate with other Central Asian states in saving and perhaps reviving the Aral Sea.
By Tony Pizur
June 14th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
After the ruble crashed in 2014, the Kyrgyz Central Bank (KCB) prevented Kyrgyzstan’s national currency, the som, from depreciating in tandem with the Russian currency. Given Kyrgyzstan’s ascension into the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) and the country’s heavy reliance on remittances from expatriates living in Russia, the KCB’s decision to maintain a relatively strong Kyrgyz currency seems counterintuitive. However, the stable som policy is predicated on long-term structural changes in trade patterns toward China. With the Chinese currency tied to the U.S. dollar, the decision to keep the som stable is based more on central bank policies in Washington and Beijing than in Moscow.
By Sudha Ramachandran
May 26th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
Iran’s location near key trade routes and strategic waterways could make it a major Eurasian trade and transit corridor in the coming decades. China is keen to tap into Iran’s potential. But will Iran’s rise as a trade hub undermine the importance and prospects of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)? This possibility has raised concerns in Pakistan that China’s commitment to making the Gwadar port a key node in the CPEC could dwindle as Iran’s trade corridors take shape and if Pakistan’s government fails to address China’s security concerns.
By Stephen Blank
May 9th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
China has steadfastly refused to get involved in providing hard, i.e. military, security to Central Asian governments, including Afghanistan. This might now be changing. In a March visit to Kabul, General Fang Fenghui, Chief of Staff of the PLA, announced plans to set up an anti-terror regional alliance with Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan. President Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan reportedly endorsed this proposal. China’s initiative could imply a major new development in Chinese policy and in Central Asia’s overall security, with lasting implications for the region.
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.