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.
By Stephen Blank
October 22nd, 2015, The CACI Analyst
On October 13, 2015, the Taliban announced its withdrawal from the major Afghan city of Kunduz that it had captured earlier. A counterattack by the Afghan Army and the ISAF alliance’s air power reversed the Taliban’s earlier victory and forced them out of the city. Nevertheless, this battle cannot be considered a victory for the Afghan government or for ISAF, and its repercussions are wide-ranging. Almost immediately after the Taliban withdrawal, President Obama ended his long review of U.S. strategy and policy in Afghanistan by announcing that 5,500 U.S. forces would stay through 2017, i.e. into the next administration, to ensure the continuing stabilization of Afghanistan.
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.
By Sudha Ramachandran
October 15th, 2015, The CACI Analyst
The fall of Kunduz to the Taliban has set alarm bells ringing not only in Afghanistan but also far beyond its borders. The capture of Kunduz, even if only temporary, has far reaching implications. It has dealt the Afghan government a heavy blow and is a huge setback for President Ashraf Ghani’s approach and strategy towards the Taliban. While it is expected to force the U.S. to revise its plans for troop withdrawal, Russia, China and Central Asian governments are watching the Taliban’s northward expansion nervously.
By Erica Marat
October 12th, 2015, The CACI Analyst
On October 4, Kyrgyzstan held parliamentary elections marked by significant improvements in the country’s democratic development. The elections have demonstrated the viability of Kyrgyzstan’s 2010 constitution, which delegates more powers to the parliament and aims to prevent the emergence of autocratic political center. Fourteen political parties competed, and six were able to pass the national and regional thresholds to win seats.
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.