By Rafis Abazov
October 8th, 2015, The CACI Analyst
During his recent visit to China, Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev signed a series of trade agreements and Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) on 48 projects valued at about US$ 30 billion. The Minister of Economic Affairs, Yerbolat Dosayev, has called the Chinese market one of the “main markets for Kazakhstan.” The Kazakh government also reiterated its support for the Beijing-instigated “Silk Road Economic Belt (SREB)” initiative and agreed to continue working on several large infrastructure projects. But opinions of Kazakh experts on the SREB are divided. Some believe China’s financial backing will strengthen trade and lead to economic growth, but others are skeptical, claiming it would conflict with the U.S.´s “New Silk Road” initiative.
By Arslan Sabyrbekov
October 1st, the CACI Analyst
Kyrgyzstan’s parliamentary elections are scheduled to take place on October 4, 2015, with 14 political parties competing for 120 seats. The official campaign kicked off on September 4, with leaders of political parties touring the country and presenting their programs. Regional observers anticipate that the election will, unlike most other regional elections, actually be competitive. During the elections, Kyrgyzstan will for the first time in its election history use its controversial biometric registration process, using fingerprints to verify citizens’ identity before voting. In a recently conducted public test, the equipment revealed some of its drawbacks, leading to wider criticism that the process is unconstitutional since citizens who have failed to submit their data cannot vote.
By Emil Aslan Souleimanov
September 25th, 2015, The CACI Analyst
Russia’s recent military engagement in Syria and calls for the establishment of an international coalition against the terrorist group calling itself the Islamic State (ISIS) has produced renewed interest in Moscow’s policies toward the jihadist quasi-state. Against this background, while many have speculated about Moscow’s true intentions in the Middle East, relatively little attention has been paid to Moscow’s interests in Central Asia and the Caucasus in the context of its increasingly vocal rhetoric of fighting ISIS. Moscow is actively utilizing the risks and threats stemming from the ISIS to boost its clout in the near and far abroad.
By Edward Lemon
September 23rd, 2015, The CACI Analyst
Rather than resulting from external factors, as the regime has argued, the recent violence in Tajikistan erupted from within the state itself. Elites within the Tajik state continually compete for political influence and economic gain. These struggles occasionally break out into violence. Ironically, such conflicts are actually useful for the regime. They allow it to legitimize a purge of potentially disloyal members and a crackdown on other opponents. By blaming the latest conflict on the country’s leading opposition party, the Islamic Renaissance Party (IRPT), the regime legitimized its move to ban the party and arrest its leading members.
By Rohullah Osmani
September 18th, 2015, The CACI Analyst
After several years of uncertainty, a hope for a breakthrough has emerged for a critical energy project in South-Central Asia. On August 6, 2015, the 22nd TAPI Steering Committee approved Turkmenistan’s Turkmengaz as the consortium leader to oversee efforts in constructing, financing and operating the 1,600 kilometer natural gas pipeline. Achieving this milestone suggests a very important development for TAPI. Turkmenistan is taking a firmer lead in the project after talks with a French investor stalled, and also after the recent agreement over Iran’s nuclear program. This suggests Ashgabat is speeding up the project over fears that Iranian gas might flood back on to the market.
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.