By Stephen Blank
March 15th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
For years, Moscow has fulminated against the Taliban as a terrorist force that represented a threat not only to Afghanistan’s security but also to Central Asia and even to Russia itself. Yet news surfaced in December that Russia is sharing intelligence with the Taliban and apparently has been in discussions with it since 2013. According to U.S. intelligence sources, these discussions have also been accompanied by weapons transfers. Thus, while Russia is constantly, along with Central Asian leaders, playing up the ISIS threat and selling weapons to the Afghan government, it also shares intelligence and possibly sells weapons to its Taliban adversaries. These contradictions expose some of the problems in Russia’s regional policies in Central Asia and in its approach to terrorism.
By Avinoam Idan
February 29th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
The importance of Turkey’s downing of a Russian aircraft and the current Russian-Turkish confrontation is not only connected to the crisis in Syria; it could become a trigger for escalation between Russia and NATO. Since the break-up of the Soviet Union and NATO’s expansion eastward toward the Russian border, Russia has seen NATO as a major security threat to itself and its geostrategic space. Turkey is an important member of NATO, and 2016 is an election year in Washington. This serves as a window of opportunity for President Putin, who can take advantage of tensions with Turkey to undermine NATO’s standing.
By Eka Janashia
December 9th, the CACI Analyst
On November 23, a group supportive of the terrorist organization calling itself the Islamic State (ISIS) released a video via social media calling on Georgian Muslims to join the “Islamic caliphate” and admonishing that the time of beheading “infidels” would soon come.
The twelve-minute video containing the “message to the Georgian people” was posted on the Russian-language Furat’s social media accounts and a Georgian-language pro-ISIS website, proclaiming itself to be the “Caliphate’s Georgian Information Channel.” The video, featuring Russian subtitles, shows four Georgian-speaking men, armed with AK-47 rifles and a rocket-propelled grenade launcher.
By Huseyn Aliyev, Emil A. Souleimanov
November 23rd, 2015, The CACI Analyst
In early October, Russia's Minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu announced that Russian navy warships based in the Caspian Sea had fired a total of 26 missiles at the positions of the terrorist organization calling itself the Islamic State (ISIS) in Syria. The minister claimed that all the 11 targets, located around 1,500 kilometers from the warships, were destroyed over two days. Russian authorities and pro-regime media have considered the strikes a big success. While information soon resurfaced that some cruise missiles had landed on Iranian soil, the fact that the October strike is definite proof of the failed attempts to turn the landlocked water basin into a demilitarized zone has received less attention.
By Dmitry Shlapentokh
November 6, 2015, The CACI Analyst
Moscow has recently undertaken several actions aiming to increase Russia’s influence in the Middle East and Central Asia. On August 23-28, 2015, the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), which includes several members from Central Asia, undertook military exercises in Russia. Russian authorities stated that the maneuvers aimed to help CSTO members develop means to effectively move airborne forces and other troops to conflict zones, including in Central Asia. The exercises partly served to address a real concern on the part of Russia as well as other CSTO members over the rise of the terrorist organization calling itself the Islamic State (ISIS). However, Russia sees ISIS not only as a threat but also as an opportunity for both increasing Russia’s influence in Central Asia and providing a pretext for its venture in the Middle East.
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.