By Natalia Konarzewska
March 16, 2017, the CACI Analyst
The crushing defeat in Georgia's October parliamentary elections will have far-reaching consequences for the former ruling party, the United National Movement (UNM). The election results sparked a heated conflict in the UNM leadership and prompted a group of senior party members to challenge former President Mikheil Saakashvili's leadership in absentia of the party. In mid-January a group of party members opposing Saakashvili, including prominent figures, left the party. On January 20, UNM's party congress decided to leave the chairman position vacant until the former president is able to return to Georgia. Saakashvili currently resides in Ukraine, where in late 2016 he launched a new oppositional political initiative after resigning from the post of Odessa governor.
By Theresa Sabonis-Helf
March 13, 2017, the CACI Analyst
The critical but aging Georgian hydropower facility of Enguri is currently closed and under inspection, likely in urgent need of repairs. The facility serves both Georgia and Abkhazia, with portions of the facility located in each territory. Existing agreements compel Georgia to keep the lights on in Abkhazia – for free – in return for Abkhazia's (and Russia's) continued acknowledgement Georgia as the owner and operator of the facility. With Abkhaz consumption continuing to rise, Georgia is increasingly questioning how much it should be willing to do in order to maintain control of its largest power plant.
By Anar Valiyev
March 7, 2017, the CACI Analyst
On November 30, 2016, the defense ministries of Armenia and Russia signed an agreement to establish a joint Russian-Armenian Military Joint Task Force (MJTF). In June 2016, Armenia agreed to join Russia's regional air security system designed to protect Russia's southern borders and its allies. The treaty allowed Armenia to rely on Russia's anti-aircraft system and military satellites in order to defend its airspace. In late September 2016, it was revealed that Moscow had transferred the Iskander mobile short-range missile system to Armenia. These recent developments have raised serious concerns in Baku over Armenia's military buildup and its consequences for the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
By Dmitry Shlapentokh
March 3, 2017, the CACI Analyst
Russia’s economic condition remains precarious, mostly due to low oil prices, whereas Western sanctions have created additional problems. There are so far few signs of public discontent and Putin’s approval ratings remain high. Yet the Russian leadership apparently does not exclude the possibility of mass protests similar to those erupting in early 2012, which could spread and create a problem for the regime. In response to this possible scenario, Putin announced the creation of a National Guard in April 2016, a process that should be completed in 2017. The National Guard incorporated Chechen forces loyal to Ramzan Kadyrov, which could be deployed by the regime as a last resort.
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.