By Stephen Blank
January 16th, 2017, The CACI Analyst
Recent evidence shows a gradual increase in Chinese military activity in Central Asia, particularly with Tajikistan, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, although China has for years denied any military interest in the region. In October, PLA and Tajik forces jointly participated in counterterrorism exercises in Tajikistan near the border with Afghanistan, following earlier activity in 2016. Whereas Tajikistan was then silent, this time it publicized the exercises, which aroused a visible anxiety in the Russian media although the Russian government has hitherto been unwilling to comment on this issue. China’s initiative could imply a major new development in Chinese policy and in Central Asia’s overall security, with lasting implications for the region.
By Jacob Zenn
January 16th, 2017, The CACI Analyst
Abu Zar al-Burmi was one of the most prominent Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) muftis and a close associate of the Pakistani Taliban and al-Qaeda. Despite pledging loyalty to the terrorist organization known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in 2015, he has recently renounced his support of ISIS and is preaching under the banner of the Imam Bukhari Brigade (IBB), which is a Syria-based IMU offshoot that is loyal to al-Qaeda and the Taliban. The case of Abu Zar shows how, since the rise of ISIS in 2014, al-Qaeda has defended its stake in Central Asian jihadism.
By Sudha Ramachandran
December 15th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
India-Afghanistan relations have warmed considerably in recent months. During Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s visit to Delhi in mid-September, the two countries deepened their defense and security co-operation and signed an extradition treaty. India also pledged US$ 1 billion towards capacity building in Afghanistan. A few days later, when the Lashkar-e-Taiba, a terrorist group with close links to Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), attacked an Indian Army base at Uri in Jammu and Kashmir, Afghanistan came out strongly in support of India. The renewed Delhi-Kabul bonding is likely to have stirred Islamabad’s anxieties. ISI and its terrorist protégés could step up attacks in Afghanistan and India in the coming months.
By Rizwan Zeb
November 30th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
The terror attack in late October on a police training center in Balochistan’s capital Quetta, and the August suicide attack in the same city, indicate that despite certain headway in operation Zarb-e-Azb, terror groups in Pakistan are still capable of conducting devastating attacks and that the country’s war on terror is far from over. However, the greatest challenge that Pakistan currently faces is a lack of consensus on the terror problem and that Pakistan’s political leadership has yet to accept ownership of this war.
By Dmitry Shlapentokh
October 12th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
On June 8, 2016, FSU Oil & Gas Monitor quoted former UK Energy Minister Charles Hendry as saying that gas from Turkmenistan could reach European markets by various different means, including “overland routes through Iran.” It is unlikely that Hendry would make such an announcement without having received encouraging signals from both Tehran and Ashkhabad. The prospect of gas deliveries from Turkmenistan to European markets is disconcerting for Moscow, which regards the monopolization of gas supply to Europe as one of its major geopolitical and geoeconomic goals.
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.