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 Stephen Blank
March 15th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
For years, Moscow has fulminated against the Taliban as a terrorist force that represented a threat not only to Afghanistan’s security but also to Central Asia and even to Russia itself. Yet news surfaced in December that Russia is sharing intelligence with the Taliban and apparently has been in discussions with it since 2013. According to U.S. intelligence sources, these discussions have also been accompanied by weapons transfers. Thus, while Russia is constantly, along with Central Asian leaders, playing up the ISIS threat and selling weapons to the Afghan government, it also shares intelligence and possibly sells weapons to its Taliban adversaries. These contradictions expose some of the problems in Russia’s regional policies in Central Asia and in its approach to terrorism.
By Emil Souleimanov
March 9th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
Chechnya’s strongman Ramzan Kadyrov has recently come under increasing fire for publicly humiliating his critics and – particularly when unable to reach out to his detractors in person – for retaliating against their families. In late 2015 and early 2016, members of the Europe-based Chechen diaspora communities organized a series of demonstrations attended by hundreds of Chechens protested in Vienna, Stockholm and Berlin against the indiscriminate practices carried out by the Kadyrov regime in their home country. These protests and Kadyrov’s consequent promise to hold protestors’ relatives living in Chechnya accountable for the supposedly anti-Chechen defamation campaign have drawn attention to the practice of collective punishment that has shaped Chechnya’s social and political landscape since the early 2000s.
By Emil Aslan Souleimanov
February 3rd, 2016, The CACI Analyst
The abrupt deterioration of relations between Russia and Turkey, caused by the downing of a Russian warplane by a Turkish F-16 on the Turkish-Syrian border in late November, has had serious implications for the North Caucasian communities in both Russia and Turkey. While Russia’s imposition of extensive sanctions on Turkey has met displeasure among some of Russia’s Turkic-speaking populations, it has also led to a polarization among Russia’s North Caucasians, some of whom have favored Turkey, an emerging Sunni power, over the state in which they hold citizenship.
By Dmitry Shlapentokh
November 6, 2015, The CACI Analyst
Moscow has recently undertaken several actions aiming to increase Russia’s influence in the Middle East and Central Asia. On August 23-28, 2015, the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), which includes several members from Central Asia, undertook military exercises in Russia. Russian authorities stated that the maneuvers aimed to help CSTO members develop means to effectively move airborne forces and other troops to conflict zones, including in Central Asia. The exercises partly served to address a real concern on the part of Russia as well as other CSTO members over the rise of the terrorist organization calling itself the Islamic State (ISIS). However, Russia sees ISIS not only as a threat but also as an opportunity for both increasing Russia’s influence in Central Asia and providing a pretext for its venture in the Middle East.
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.