By Aigul Kasymova
July 5th, the CACI Analyst
According to the 2015 Afghanistan Opium Survey, prepared by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and Afghanistan’s Ministry of Counter Narcotics (MCN), opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan has decreased by 19 percent compared to 2014. Production also dropped by an estimated 48 percent from 2014 and is recorded to be the lowest since the Taliban’s 2001 opium ban. Despite this drop, Afghanistan continues to be the largest producer of illicit opium and heroin in the world. It is estimated that 80 percent of global illicit opiates derives from Afghanistan. The immediate and long-term consequences of this production continue to create challenges for the country, its people and hopes for sustainable development.
By Rafis Abazov
June 28th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
Kazakh experts have recently begun to call water the “liquid gold of the 21st century,” as all states in the Central Asian region face greater demand for water concurrent with a significant decline in water supply. The Aral Sea – which became a symbol of environmental mismanagement and environmental catastrophe at the end of the 20th century – shows that sustainable development policies can help to deal with even the most difficult water issues. Conversely, however, mismanagement and border conflicts over water might worsen the situation, leading to further political and economic tensions. The current question is whether Kazakhstan can collaborate with other Central Asian states in saving and perhaps reviving the Aral Sea.
By Tony Pizur
June 14th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
After the ruble crashed in 2014, the Kyrgyz Central Bank (KCB) prevented Kyrgyzstan’s national currency, the som, from depreciating in tandem with the Russian currency. Given Kyrgyzstan’s ascension into the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) and the country’s heavy reliance on remittances from expatriates living in Russia, the KCB’s decision to maintain a relatively strong Kyrgyz currency seems counterintuitive. However, the stable som policy is predicated on long-term structural changes in trade patterns toward China. With the Chinese currency tied to the U.S. dollar, the decision to keep the som stable is based more on central bank policies in Washington and Beijing than in Moscow.
By Mirzokhid Rakhimov and Sung Dong Ki
June 10th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
South Korea’s Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn visited Uzbekistan on May 19-20, 2016. The visit was the fifteenth official high-level meeting between the two countries. Over the last year, several new actors have increased their engagement with Central Asia, aside from South Korea also including Japan and India. South Korea is an important partner to the Central Asian republics, and especially to Uzbekistan. In May 2015, Islam Karimov made Seoul the destination of his first foreign visit after his reelection as president. The visit underscored the priority given to South Korea in Uzbekistan’s foreign policy. South Korea is among the largest investors in Uzbekistan’s economy, and cooperation is growing in education, tourism, cultural exchanges, and security.
By John C.K. Daly
June 7th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
On May 21, a U.S. drone attack killed Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour and taxi driver Mohammad Azam near Nushki in Pakistan’s Baluchistan province. Mansour was returning from Taftan, Iran, where he had gone for medical treatment, to his residence near the provincial capital Quetta, a 370-mile journey. Mansour and his driver had completed roughly two-thirds of the nine-hour trip. A Pakistani passport and a Computer National Identity Card (CNIC) identifying Mansur as “Wali Muhammad” were found near the wreckage. Mansour’s death, coming nine months after his contested election as “Amir al-Mu'minin” by the Taliban’s Rahbari Shura, has added additional volatility to Afghanistan’s complex political landscape, effectively sidelining any possibility of renewing peace negotiations with the Afghan government as Mansour’s successor seeks to consolidate his position.
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.