By Richard Weitz (10/01/2014 issue of the CACI Analyst)
On August 24-29, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) held its largest multinational exercise in history, Peace Mission 2014. The declared objective of the joint drills is to help the SCO member governments deter and, if necessary, defeat potential terrorist threats. But the exercises also allow Russia and China to communicate to the SCO and other parties, especially the U.S., that Moscow and Beijing have a genuine security partnership and that it extends to cover Central Asia.
By Richard Weitz (09/03/2014 issue of the CACI Analyst)
President Barack Obama’s recent characterization of China as a global free rider certainly applies in Afghanistan. Although China has declined to join the NATO-led International Security Force in Afghanistan or even allow its members to use Chinese territory to supply their forces in Afghanistan, Chinese firms have been benefiting from the massive economic and security contributions of other countries to Afghanistan. But that time is ending and China and the West need to strike a new and more balanced bargain there. Chinese alarm about Afghanistan is rising as U.S. concerns and commitments are declining.
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.
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.