By Roger N. McDermott
February 25th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
Moscow has stated that among its defense and security priorities for 2016, Central Asia and the South Caucasus will top its agenda. Kavkaz 2016, the main strategic military exercise of the year, will take place in the Southern Military District (MD), while Tsentr 2015 occurred in Central MD with among its vignettes a rehearsal of intervention in Central Asia. Surprisingly in this context, the Defense Ministry plans to restructure the 201st Base in Tajikistan from divisional to brigade status. This initiative is driven by Moscow’s growing concerns about the future of Central Asian security as it faces multiple potential threats stemming from Afghanistan and Islamic State (ISIS). But paradoxically, Moscow’s latest moves to strengthen the basing of its forces in Tajikistan serves as an indicator of official perceptions that the region could suffer a serious security challenge.
By Armen Grigoryan
February 22nd, 2016, The CACI Analyst
The confrontation between Russia and Turkey, and the fast-changing situation on the oil and natural gas markets, have strongly impacted the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict resolution process, as well as the internal state of affairs in both Armenia and Azerbaijan. Russia recently increased its military presence in Armenia, which has unsuccessfully sought support from fellow CSTO members in its confrontation with Azerbaijan. The ongoing clashes along the line of contact imply that the situation will likely remain tense in the short term. Meanwhile, the economic downturn in Armenia and Azerbaijan, as well as in Russia, increases the risk of domestically motivated escalation of the conflict.
By Fariz Ismailzade
February 19th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
After a decade of cold relations, Azerbaijan and Iran are eager to warm up to each other, as both nations are hungry for foreign investments and boosted regional trade. As world oil prices hit low levels, Azerbaijan and Iran are looking for ways to develop their non-oil economy, integrate regional transport networks and boost mutually advantageous business projects. In that respect, thorny political issues that have dominated the bilateral relations appear to have been put on the backburner. President Ilham Aliyev’s upcoming visit to Iran will aim at lifting Azerbaijani-Iranian relations to a new high.
By Eka Janashia
December 9th, the CACI Analyst
On November 23, a group supportive of the terrorist organization calling itself the Islamic State (ISIS) released a video via social media calling on Georgian Muslims to join the “Islamic caliphate” and admonishing that the time of beheading “infidels” would soon come.
The twelve-minute video containing the “message to the Georgian people” was posted on the Russian-language Furat’s social media accounts and a Georgian-language pro-ISIS website, proclaiming itself to be the “Caliphate’s Georgian Information Channel.” The video, featuring Russian subtitles, shows four Georgian-speaking men, armed with AK-47 rifles and a rocket-propelled grenade launcher.
By Eduard Abrahamyan
December 3rd, 2015, The CACI Analyst
The Turkish Air force’s downing of a Russian Su-24 warplane on November 24, has deteriorated relations between the two states, already tense after Russia’s increasing military engagement in the Syrian conflict. The incident represented the first direct clash between Moscow’s and Ankara’s interests in the Middle East and could potentially extend the geography of the enduring standoff between Russia and the West. Yet it has been met in the West with some understanding of Russia’s concerns. Turkey’s response to Russia’s consistent violations of its airspace coincided with an anticipated accord between Armenia and Russia on the establishment of a joint missile air defense system that will be deployed during a visit of Russia’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and Minister of Defense Sergey Shoygu to Yerevan.
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.