How is Afghanistan Really Doing?
By: S. Frederick Starr
The Afghan peace talks are the order of the day. The negotiations themselves are wrapped in secrecy. But are Americans (and NATO allies) in a position to evaluate their outcome? This depends in large measure on whether our reigning assumptions about what’s going on in Afghanistan itself are accurate. This briefing paper acknowledges that many of them are; Afghanistan remains a very troubled land. But it also presents evidence that those assumptions are dramatically and woefully incomplete. It argues that important positive developments in the Afghan economy and society have been largely ignored, but are gaining ground over the long term. These in turn demand and justify revisions in strategic thinking in Washington and other NATO capitals.
Americans are well acquainted with the official evaluations of American aid to Afghanistan that have been issued annually by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR). Based on voluminous data, these reports present a grim tale of malfeasance and corruption. Headings in the “Executive Summary” of the most recent report include “Widespread Insecurity,” “Under- developed Civil Policing Capability,” “Endemic Corruption,” “Sluggish Economic Growth,” “The Illicit Narcotics Trade.” “Threats to Women’s Rights,” “The Challenge of Reintegration,” and “Restricted Oversight.”
The work of the Special Inspector General has been thorough and dispassionate. To be sure, one can challenge his findings in several areas.
By Niranjan Marjani
February 27, 2020, the CACI Analyst
Uzbekistan’s Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Kamilov visited India on January 14-15, 2020, where he met with his Indian counterpart Subrahmanyam Jaishankar and addressed the Raisina Dialogue, an international conference organized by India in which several foreign delegates share their views on global issues. This was one of several recent engagements between India and Uzbekistan. Uzbekistan has emerged as the Central Asian country with which India has not only accelerated but also diversified engagements in the past few years. This is evident from the increasing number of bilateral visits between the two countries as well as cooperation in an increasingly diverse number of areas.
By Sudha Ramachandran
January 16, 2020, the CACI Analyst
The recent escalation of tension in the Persian Gulf following the assassination of a top Iranian general in a U.S. missile strike in Baghdad has set alarm bells ringing in the region. Iraq has already been dragged into the escalating U.S.-Iran tit-for-tat missile strikes. Given the fact that Afghanistan neighbors Iran and has a large presence of U.S. troops and facilities, the country risks becoming an additional battleground for the U.S.-Iran conflict, with potentially serious consequences for Afghanistan and the region.
By Nurlan Aliyev
December 19, 2019, the CACI Analyst
On October 17-18, 2019, the 7th China-Central Asia Cooperation Forum, was held in Nanning, Guanxi province. The goal of the Forum was to further strengthen ties between China and the countries of Central Asia. Aside from its economic and security related interests in the region, China is also hoping to improve its image with the help of soft power influences, among populations where Sinophobic sentiments are strong. Despite several reports and information on Chinese projects with this aim, the question remains how effective China’s soft power in Central Asia really is.
By Elzbieta Pron and Emilie Szwajnoch
October 31, 2019, the CACI Analyst
On September 21, another wave of popular anti-Chinese protests burst in Kazakhstan’s two main cities – Nur-Sultan (formerly Astana) and Almaty. During the demonstrations, Uyghur protesters joined Kazakh activists and jointly voiced their demands regarding Kazakhstan relationship with China. However, the issue of Kazakhs and Uyghurs detained in Xinjiang camps has been sidelined as a broader agenda has taken charge and the protests been overtaken by emotional anti-Chinese sentiments. While the official Kazakh response to the problem of Xinjiang camps has been very limited, yet the most active among Central Asian states, the collective voice of protesters is hardly going to have any effect on politics.
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.