By Emil Aslan Souleimanov
December 27th, 2015, The CACI Analyst
On November 25-26, Azerbaijani law enforcement carried out a special operation in Nardaran, a township on the northern edge of the Absheron peninsula located 25 kilometers northeast of the capital’s center. The purpose of the special operation was to break the backbone of the Muslim Unity group, a purportedly militant Shiite organization. The context and implications of the Nardaran events have received little attention in Western media, despite the concerns raised both within and outside the region about Azerbaijan finding itself on the brink of religiously inspired civil unrest.
By Natalia Konarzewska
December 7th, 2015, The CACI Analyst
After meeting with Gazprom’s CEO Alexei Miller in Milan on September 25, Georgia’s Energy Minister Kakha Kaladze announced that the parties discussed increasing Russia’s transit of gas to Armenia and opened a possibility for Georgian commercial entities to buy additional volumes of Russian gas. In October, Kaladze reiterated that Tbilisi wants to diversify its natural gas routes and suppliers through imports from Russia and possibly Iran. No details about the eventual increase of gas shipments from Russia have so far been revealed. Yet the prospective agreement has already caused controversy among Georgian political opposition, which questions Gazprom’s reliability as a gas supplier, and raised concerns in Azerbaijan, which is Georgia’s largest gas provider.
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.
By Stephen Blank
November 20th, 2015, The CACI Analyst
In early October Frontera Corporation announced that it had discovered 3.8 trillion cubic meters (TCM) of gas in Georgia’s Kakheti region. Although the discovery needs to be confirmed and the precise amount of gas determined; this discovery has major potential benefits of both an economic and geopolitical nature for Georgia, Azerbaijan and Europe. But there are lurking dangers as well, especially as the Georgian government recently voiced its intention to sign an agreement with Gazprom for Russian gas and diversify away from its exclusive reliance on Azerbaijan, despite that country’s utter reliability over several years and lack of designs upon Georgia.
By Richard Weitz
October 19th, 2015, The CACI Analyst
Although international attention regarding Iran naturally gravitates towards Tehran’s activities in the Persian Gulf and the nuclear realm, Iran is also an active player in the South Caucasus, Central Asia, and Afghanistan. Thanks to its nuclear deal with the great powers, the subsequent relaxation of sanctions, and the growth of regional terrorism and Russian military activism, Iran’s influence in the region is set to grow considerably in coming years, though not necessarily to the benefit of the regional states or their Western partners.
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.