By Richard Weitz (06/04/2014 issue of the CACI Analyst)
The recent signing of the Eurasian Union Treaty between Russia and several other former Soviet republics, combined with Russian actions in Ukraine and the massive Sino-Russian gas deal finalized during Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recent visit to China, risks obscuring the continuing growth of Beijing’s influence in Central Asia, especially with Kazakhstan. When President Nursultan Nazarbayev conducted a state visit to China from May 19 to 22, he met with President Xi Jinping for the seventh time in less than a year. Although grassroots ties remain weak, energy and other economic ties between the two countries are booming.
By Jacob Zenn (06/04/2014 issue of the CACI Analyst)
Recent terrorist attacks in China show that international jihadists have infiltrated or influenced the Uighur nationalist cause. The increasing frequency of car-bombings and suicide bombings in Xinjiang and cities in eastern China attest to the use of al-Qaeda’s tactics, which militants in China may have learned from training with Central Asian jihadists in Pakistan, Afghanistan or Syria or seeing videos that militant groups disseminate on the Internet or through underground Islamist networks in China. In May 2014, China launched a one-year campaign to crack down on terrorism intended to uncover terrorist networks and extremist groups. However, the crackdown may also alienate Xinjiang’s Uighur population and boost recruitment into militant groups if the new counter-terrorism measures are perceived as over-reaching or invasive.
By Jacob Zenn (04/23/2014 issue of the CACI Analyst)
On March 1, six men and two women from China’s Xinjiang Province ran into a train station in Kunming, Yunnan Province and stabbed 29 people to death. This was a rare example of a terror attack in southwestern China. It occurred only five months after a family of three from Xinjiang rammed their car into a gate in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, killing several tourists. The Uighur-led Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP), which now functions like the “spokesman” for Uighur militants in Xinjiang praised both the Kunming and Tiananmen attacks, but refrained from claiming direct responsibility. Meanwhile, an organized insurgency largely independent of the TIP is brewing in China, which benefits from the TIP’s propaganda.
By Slavomír Horák (03/19/2014 issue of the CACI Analyst)
While Russia's intervention in Ukraine at first glance has few implications for developments in the Eastern part of former Soviet territory, Central Asian governments and elites are likely to analyze Russia's recent actions carefully. While the Crimea intervention could serve as a short term deterrent against foreign orientations away from Russia's regional integration project, the increasing Chinese influence in Central Asia will in the long term offer these states a powerful alternative to Russia and the crisis in Ukraine is increasing China's attractiveness as a partner.
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.