By Stephen Blank
April 18, 2019, the CACI Analyst
The Washington Post recently reported that China has an operating military base in Tajikistan, confirming earlier accounts of this base and opening a window on China’s interests and strategic developments across Central Asia. However, China may have a second base situated in the Wakhan corridor of Afghanistan. Chinese forces have been present there since 2017, around the same time that the base in Tajikistan became functional. The newly discovered base, along with the base in Djibouti and the possible base in Afghanistan, reflects the pressures building from within the PRC and PLA to project military power beyond China’s borders, e.g. in the South China Sea.
By Rafis Abazov
April 5, 2019, the CACI Analyst
Recent initiatives on stabilizing Afghanistan and security in the region during the high-level International Conference on Afghanistan in Geneva, and discussions of reconciliation with the Taliban in Doha and Moscow, have offered a number of conventional measures helping to resolve some of the area’s problems, but often only in the short run. However, below the radar of the heavyweight political players, groups of dedicated youth quietly work on the long-term solution through replicating the international efforts inside and outside of Afghanistan in their Model UN. Every year tens of thousands of students from across Greater Central Asia not only discuss the most pressing regional issues, but also educate and train the next generation of young people on diplomatic, negotiation and conflict prevention issues. The question is, will it work?
By Stephen Blank
February 13, 2019, the CACI Analyst
When he announced the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria, President Trump also announced the departure of one half (7,000) of America’s troops in Afghanistan. This abrupt decision both damaged the U.S. position in the Middle East and undermined ongoing negotiations with the Taliban over Afghanistan. It upset all the calculations of the Afghan government, leaving it scrambling for a new negotiating and strategic posture, and undid two years of successful albeit modest U.S. policy of renewed economic and political support for Central Asia. This will allow both Beijing and Moscow to respond by extending their influence in Central Asia at America’s expense and to employ their strongest capabilities for doing so.
By Sudha Ramachandran
December 19, 2018, the CACI Analyst
On October 15, Afghan and Pakistani security forces exchanged fire. Such incidents, which have claimed the lives of hundreds of border security personnel and others on both sides, have grown in frequency in recent years. The clashes are over Pakistan’s unilateral construction of a fence along the Durand Line. Pakistan says the fence will check armed militants moving between the two countries. Afghanistan, which has not accepted the Durand Line as its border with Pakistan, disagrees. The controversial fence is adding tension to an already fraught bilateral relationship.
By Tristan Kenderdine
July 17, 2018, the CACI Analyst
A strategic deployment of trade corridors is taking shape across Afghanistan and Iran as both India and China subvert each other’s trade strategies through key geoeconomic states. Afghanistan’s land corridor to Chabahar port connects it to India by sea, creating a Persian-Gulf to Caspian Sea corridor, while the Afghan air corridor to India provides a parallel, more direct trade route. By contrast, China’s twin economic corridors in the region run perpendicular: north-south through Pakistan to the Gulf, and east-west through Iran to Istanbul. Pakistan’s Gwadar and Iran’s Chabahar are thus effectively in the same geopolitical node, connecting very different Great Game trade strategies.
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.