By Roger N. McDermott
November 17, 2017, the CACI Analyst
While much international attention has focused upon Russia’s joint strategic exercise with Belarus, Zapad 2017 in September, in its aftermath Moscow also staged important operational-strategic exercises on a wider scale across the South Caucasus and Central Asia. Not only was the geographical scope of these exercises greater than Zapad 2017, but their various vignettes and scenario details provide glimpses into Moscow’s planning and modelling of future conflict on its periphery.
By Dmitry Shlapentokh
November 15, 2017, the CACI Analyst
At first glance, Turkmenistan’s decision in January 2017 to stop selling gas to Iran was a minor episode in the context of an otherwise friendly relationship between Tehran and Ashgabat, as indicated by several meetings of high Iranian and Turkmen officials following the clash over gas deliveries. However, the tension with Iran could imply serious problems for Turkmenistan and lead to increasing dependence on Beijing, regardless of all Ashgabat’s maneuvering. Turkmenistan’s fallout with Iran also limits the ability of both the West and the South to access Central Asian gas and facilitates an increasing Chinese influence in this part of Eurasia, providing additional opportunities for China’s resurrection of the Silk Road.
By Sudha Ramachandran
November 13, 2017, the CACI Analyst
The attack at Mirza Olang village in Sayad district of Afghanistan’s Sar-e Pul Province on August 5 is reported to have been a joint operation by the Taliban and the Islamic State of Khorasan Province (ISKP), the local branch of the terrorist organization known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) (Khorasan is an old name for the region that includes parts of present-day Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran and Central Asia). If the Taliban and ISKP did indeed join forces to carry out the attack, this is bad news for the Afghan government and people. However, given the huge differences and tense relations between the two armed groups, cooperation, if any, is likely to be local, tactical and short-lived.
By Jacob Zenn
November 9, 2017, the CACI Analyst
On October 16, Kyrgyzstan announced that the winner of the country’s presidential election with 54 percent of the vote was Sooronbay Jeenbekov. The election nonetheless received criticism for the way it was carried out from international organizations such as the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). Other commentators have noted that the departing president, Almazbek Atambayev, also invested personal and state resources to support Jeenbekov’s election. Kyrgyzstan’s reputation as the “island of democracy” in Central Asia has suffered a setback. Amid other concerns about jihadist radicalization in the country, Kyrgyzstan will struggle to reclaim its reputation as a democratic model for the region, especially in the eyes of its neighbors.
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.