By Stephen Blank
July 1st, 2016, The CACI Analyst
Despite the ongoing terrorist insurgency, Russian officials claim significant progress in pacifying and reintegrating the North Caucasus. For example, in 2015 alone, Ministry of Interior forces in the North Caucasus (VVMVD) allegedly killed over 70 militants. Yet the National Anti-Terrorist Committee expects that the situation in 2016 will show no signs of marked improvement. Moreover, despite many Jihadis’ departure for Syria or Iraq, local insurgent activity has not slackened. In this context, Russia is reaching out to Saudi Arabia, Gulf States and their investment vehicles, as well as Azerbaijan in what may signify more than just a search for foreign investment. Arguably, these moves mark another stage in the recession of Russian power from the North Caucasus.
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 Emil Aslan Souleimanov (09/02/2015 issue of the CACI Analyst)
Recent months have seen North Caucasian amirs pledging allegiance to the terrorist group calling itself the Islamic State (ISIS). Many have pointed to this process as a sign of the changing paradigm of the regional resistance, which is being transformed into – or absorbed by – the global jihadist insurgency. But these assumptions can be challenged by a look at the internal dynamics, the distance from key hotbeds of jihadist violence, and the limits of the North Caucasian insurgency. While ISIS may have some impact on the North Caucasian jamaats, it is likely to be rather limited and indirect.
By Natalia Konarzewska (19/08/2015 issue of the CACI Analyst)
The North Caucasus is the Russian Federation’s most economically impoverished region, as well as the most dependent on government revenues. Due to Russia’s dwindling financial situation, federal subsidies for the region are shrinking, which negatively affects welfare and social service expenditures as well as investment projects. Since last year, many state-owned regional companies have gone bankrupt. Fluctuations in government revenues will pressure local governments to increase borrowing from external sources, loans that they will have a hard time paying back. The North Caucasus therefore risks seeing a series of financial defaults.
By Tomáš Baranec (08/07/2015 issue of the CACI Analyst)
The continuous crackdowns on North Caucasian militants conducted by Russian security forces intensified in first half of 2015, deepening the crisis caused by the split in the Caucasus emirate. Although security forces are targeting both Caucasus emirate loyalists and pro-Islamic State rebels, the former appear less resilient to such operations. Paradoxically, in comparison to the pro-ISIS group, the Caucasus emirate is better established and hierarchal and its cells are therefore more easily infiltrated by moles. The assassination of the Caucasus emirate’s emir Aliaskhab Kebedov, nom de guerre Ali Abu Muhammad, dealt a fatal blow to the virtual theocracy, facing a decreasing pool of possible recruits and increasing competition from ISIS. Despite such developments, it remains unlikely that ISIS, with its brutal methods, will prove capable of establishing itself in the North Caucasus.
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.