By Stephen Blank
July 8, 2019, the CACI Analyst
In late 2018, National Security Council Director John Bolton signaled a revived U.S. interest in the South Caucasus by visiting all three states of the region. While the outcome remains unclear, the visit itself clearly signaled a U.S. interest in reviving a robust presence in the Caucasus. Indeed, U.S. interest should not only stem from the Caucasus’ proximity to Iran and Russia, or considerations relating to energy flows to Europe. The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia has seen repeated recent outbreaks of violence and the issues and alignments growing out of this conflict spill over into all the other issues pertaining to the Caucasus that justify a renewed U.S. presence. Regenerated U.S. action to help terminate the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict peacefully is necessary because of the visibly mounting frustration and despair in the war zone.
By Farkhod Tolipov
July 2, 2019, the CACI Analyst
After almost a decade-long break in regional summits of Central Asian states, the ice began to melt in March 2018 when the leaders of five Central Asian states met in Kazakhstan’s capital Astana for a so-called Consultative Meeting. Many observers termed the event a revitalization of the regional cooperation process, albeit in a new temporary format for talks, and a cautious step toward a regional approach to regional problems. During that first Consultative Meeting, it was decided that the second meeting would take place in Tashkent in March 2019. However, when March came the meeting was rescheduled for April and is still delayed.
By Ilgar Gurbanov
June 27, 2019, the CACI Analyst
The regime change in Armenia revived hopes in Azerbaijan that the new Armenian government would take a more proactive approach to the frozen settlement process of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The latest meeting of Azerbaijan’s and Armenia’s leaders in Vienna promised humanitarian cooperation, yet the short-term silence on the frontline was soon broken by new ceasefire violations and counter-productive statements from the Armenian government. From Azerbaijan’s perspective, the building of trust required for a reinvigoration of the peace process requires steps such as the withdrawal of Armenian occupying forces from Azerbaijan’s territories, with a subsequent return of IDPs. Armenia’s overreliance on the status-quo creates systemic problems for the negotiations.
By Natalia Konarzewska
June 18, 2019, the CACI Analyst
On June 9, 2019, Kazakhstan held snap presidential elections following the resignation of long-term President Nursultan Nazarbayev. Nazarbayev’s close associate and former speaker of the Senate Kassym-Jomart Tokayev won the ballot receiving 70.76 percent of the votes. The election was accompanied by large protests in the country’s capital Nur-Sultan and in Almaty, followed by detentions of hundreds of protesters. It is unlikely that the change of president will bring radical change in Kazakhstan. Tokayev has already declared his commitment to preserving Nazarbayev’s legacy. Multiple developments indicate that preparations for the power shift in Kazakhstan have been ongoing for years, suggesting that the presidential succession was carefully planned and micromanaged from behind the scenes to ensure a smooth transition of power.
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.