By Stephen Blank (01/07/2015 issue of the CACI Analyst)
Few realize that China is actually building three Silk Roads, one through Central Asia to Europe; a second, maritime one, through South East Asia to India and South Asia; and third, China is building a robust commercial network through the Arctic to connect it with Europe. In all three cases there is a common geopolitical dream that has been shared by Russian and Asian leaders since the opening of the Suez Canal: building a land-based alternative connecting East, South, and Central Asia to Europe by purely terrestrial means. China’s plans for Central Asia are extraordinarily ambitious but there are serious problems that could undermine them.
By Naveed Ahmad (01/07/2015 issue of the CACI Analyst)
Pakistan has signed a military cooperation pact with Russia, “aimed at bringing peace and stability in the region.” Leading a 41-member high level delegation on November 20, 2014, Russia’s Defense Minister General Sergei Shoigu flew to Islamabad to sign the milestone pact, whose details were not made public. On the invitation of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will soon visit Russia. The move follows Russia’s decision to lift its self-imposed arms embargo on Pakistan in June despite opposition from its longtime ally India.
By Valeriy Dzutsev (11/26/2014 issue of the CACI Analyst)
On November 24, the Russian government signed an agreement with Abkhazia that will further diminish the already limited sovereignty of this territory in exchange for Russian investments and social benefits for the population. The South Ossetian government has signaled that Russia is preparing a similar agreement with this Georgian breakaway territory. Some South Ossetians, however, have unexpectedly spoken out in favor of retaining the republic’s sovereignty. As Russia lays the groundwork for the annexation of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, it encounters surprising opposition from the tiny republics that have become accustomed to a certain degree of independence from Moscow. Tighter control of Abkhazia and South Ossetia will increase the security risks for Georgia.
By Stephen Blank (11/11/2014 issue of the CACI Analyst)
Kyrgyzstan is considered the least authoritarian state in Central Asia, but it is also the most crisis-ridden and least stable of these states. Its long-standing domestic weaknesses are compounded by its external crises and only Ukraine has achieved a similar level of instability among post-Soviet states. In both cases, recent revolts have been aided by direct Russian hands-on efforts at destabilization. Kyrgyzstan risks a turbulent 2015 as it faces a decline in Russian subsidies amid pressure to join the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), along with the interaction of several ethnic, economic, border, and international crises, which Kyrgyzstan’s weakening state will unlikely be able to handle.
By Huseyn Aliyev (11/11/2014 issue of the CACI Analyst)
The fall 2014 military draft to the Russian army differs from previous conscription campaigns in that, for first time since the early 1990s, the draft will include conscripts from Chechnya. In addition, the number of conscripts from Dagestan was doubled. Observers have connected the Kremlin’s increased interest in attracting North Caucasians – previously excluded from the mandatory service – to serve in the Russian army to Russia’s involvement in Eastern Ukraine and the dwindling numbers of ethnic Russian conscripts. Yet the actual reasons might be more symbolic and practical, tied to the precondition of military service for government employment eligibility in Russia.
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.