By Fuad Shahbazov
December 7, 2017, the CACI Analyst
On October 30, 2017, Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev, along with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Georgia’s Prime-minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili, Kazakhstan’s Prime Minister Bakytzhan Sagintayev, and Uzbekistan’s Prime Minister Abdulla Aripov attended the opening ceremony of the long-delayed Baku-Tbilisi-Kars (BTK) railway. “The opening of the railway is of historic and strategic significance,” Aliyev said at the ceremony in the Caspian port city of Alat, south of Baku, to mark the departure of the first trains. In fact, the opening of the new railway provides an alternative route to existing rail services carrying goods from Asia to Europe.
By John C. K. Daly
December 1, 2017, the CACI Analyst
On November 15 during the 7th Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan (RECCA-VII) in Ashgabat Turkey, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan and Georgia signed an agreement providing for a major international trade and transport corridor stretching from Turkey to Afghanistan via the post-Soviet Central Asian republics, named the “Lapis Lazuli Corridor.” While many practical problems remain, the development and operation of such a railway corridor has enormous implications for the countries along its route, particularly Afghanistan.
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.
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.