By Stephen Blank
January 19th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
Throughout its tenure, the Obama Administration has minimized U.S. involvement with and engagement in both the Caucasus and Central Asia. However, a change in this policy may now be visible. Secretary of State John Kerry’s recent, and first, visit to Central Asia suggests a new interest in an expanded and hopefully regular mutual dialogue with the region. In the case of Azerbaijan, three high-ranking U.S. delegations have come through Baku in the last few months, clearly signifying renewed interest in dialogue and the subjects of their discussion, as revealed in the press, tend to corroborate that impression.
By Rohullah Osmani
January 21st, 2016, The CACI Analyst
The groundbreaking ceremony of the US$10 billion natural gas pipeline project linking Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India (TAPI) took place in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan on December 13, 2015, with the Afghan President, India’s Vice-President and Pakistani Prime Minister in attendance. The breakthrough on the long-delayed TAPI gas pipeline project came when the 22nd TAPI Steering Committee, consisting of representatives of the participating countries, as well as the Asian Development Bank (ADB) as the acting transactional advisor for the project, approved Turkmenistan’s state-owned Turkmengaz as the consortium leader to oversee efforts in constructing, financing and operating the 1,000 mile long natural gas pipeline.
By Najia Badykova
January 15th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
On November 24, a Japanese delegation met in Ashgabat with the deputy foreign ministers of five Central Asian states in a “Central Asia plus Japan” format to discuss regional security, sustainable development, trade and investment, as well as regional cooperation and disaster prevention. In October, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited all of the Central Asian states as a part of Tokyo’s efforts to strengthen economic relations with the resource-rich region, holding talks with Central Asian leaders mainly devoted to the energy issue. This is an important shift in Japanese foreign policy. Its long-time competitor China is already established in Central Asia and Tokyo’s recent initiatives have been described as part of the growing competition between China and Japan.
By Richard Weitz
December 22nd, 2015, The CACI Analyst
In early November, John Kerry made a long overdue trip to Central Asia, becoming the first Secretary of State to visit all five Central Asian countries in one diplomatic tour. His agenda focused on reassuring the regional governments that the United States cares about their concerns, specifically Afghanistan and religious extremism. Kerry also highlighted U.S. support for region-wide economic integration, ecological protection, and cultural and humanitarian cooperation. He further developed bilateral cooperation with each Central Asian government. However, there were no major agreements or blockbuster initiatives announced during Kerry’s visit. It will require sustained follow-through by the current and next U.S. administrations to achieve enduringly positive results.
By Johan Engvall
December 14th, 2015, The CACI Analyst
Since independence, Kazakhstan’s foreign policy – and its multilateral relations in particular – has expressed a clear logic: to develop a role as a respectable international citizen that can be a pragmatic partner with all quarters of the globe. The decision to launch its bid for a non-permanent seat at the UN Security Council for 2017 can be seen as the ultimate commitment to this role. At the same time, seeking a UNSC-seat is but one part of an increasingly urgent need to assert Kazakhstan’s sovereignty and statehood and to counter the Western notion of the country as being under Russia’s thumb.
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.