By Roger N. McDermott
February 25th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
Moscow has stated that among its defense and security priorities for 2016, Central Asia and the South Caucasus will top its agenda. Kavkaz 2016, the main strategic military exercise of the year, will take place in the Southern Military District (MD), while Tsentr 2015 occurred in Central MD with among its vignettes a rehearsal of intervention in Central Asia. Surprisingly in this context, the Defense Ministry plans to restructure the 201st Base in Tajikistan from divisional to brigade status. This initiative is driven by Moscow’s growing concerns about the future of Central Asian security as it faces multiple potential threats stemming from Afghanistan and Islamic State (ISIS). But paradoxically, Moscow’s latest moves to strengthen the basing of its forces in Tajikistan serves as an indicator of official perceptions that the region could suffer a serious security challenge.
By Sreemati Ganguli
February 5th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
The recent ground-breaking ceremony of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline, was followed by several Indo-Russian Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) on energy during the 16th annual Indo-Russian Summit in Moscow in December 2015. These events add to Rosneft’s decisions in 2014 to buy a 49 percent share in Essar Oil in mid-2015 and to cooperate with OVL, both Indians companies, on exploration and hydrocarbon production in Russia’s offshore Arctic. Also, Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Central Asia in July 2015, particularly Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, to declare India’s growing importance as an alternative energy market in Eurasia, aside from the EU, China and Japan, and as a potential power in the energy-rich Eurasian space.
By Rohullah Osmani
January 21st, 2016, The CACI Analyst
The groundbreaking ceremony of the US$10 billion natural gas pipeline project linking Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India (TAPI) took place in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan on December 13, 2015, with the Afghan President, India’s Vice-President and Pakistani Prime Minister in attendance. The breakthrough on the long-delayed TAPI gas pipeline project came when the 22nd TAPI Steering Committee, consisting of representatives of the participating countries, as well as the Asian Development Bank (ADB) as the acting transactional advisor for the project, approved Turkmenistan’s state-owned Turkmengaz as the consortium leader to oversee efforts in constructing, financing and operating the 1,000 mile long natural gas pipeline.
By Richard Weitz
December 22nd, 2015, The CACI Analyst
In early November, John Kerry made a long overdue trip to Central Asia, becoming the first Secretary of State to visit all five Central Asian countries in one diplomatic tour. His agenda focused on reassuring the regional governments that the United States cares about their concerns, specifically Afghanistan and religious extremism. Kerry also highlighted U.S. support for region-wide economic integration, ecological protection, and cultural and humanitarian cooperation. He further developed bilateral cooperation with each Central Asian government. However, there were no major agreements or blockbuster initiatives announced during Kerry’s visit. It will require sustained follow-through by the current and next U.S. administrations to achieve enduringly positive results.
By S. Frederick Starr and Svante E. Cornell
December 10th, 2015, The CACI Analyst
A number of initiatives have combined to make the development of continental transport and trade across the heartland of Eurasia a reality rather than a mere vision. Some of these have been external, while many have been internal to the region. Yet Europe, which launched the visionary TRACECA program in the early 1990s, is largely absent from the scene today. Yet if Europe works with Central Asian states, it stands to benefit greatly from this process. This would involve work to make the transport corridors more attuned to market logic; to promote the development of soft infrastructure; to pay attention to the geopolitics of transport and support the Caucasus and Caspian corridor; and not least, to look ahead to the potential of linking Europe through Central Asia not just to China, but also to the Indian subcontinent.
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.