By Emil Souleimanov (04/15/2015 issue of the CACI Analyst)
Recent months have been hectic for Dagestani jihadists. Since mid-2014, this hotbed of the North Caucasian insurgency has witnessed a gradual split, with numerous Dagestan-based jihadist commanders pledging oath (bayat) to the leader of the Islamic State, Abu-Bakr al-Baghdadi. In response, the Caucasus Emirate’s formal leader, Aliaskhab Kebekov, himself a Dagestani, criticized the disloyal commanders for splitting the ranks of the local insurgency. In mid-February, the newly appointed amir of the Dagestani Vilayat, Kamil Saidov, joined Kebekov in his condemnation of those submitting to Baghdadi’s authority. Given the North Caucasian and Dagestani jamaats' weakening capacity, the ongoing developments in Dagestan could break the unity in this last bastion of the regional insurgency.
By Sudha Ramachandran (04/01/2015 issue of the CACI Analyst)
The reported eastward expansion of the Islamic State (IS) into South Asia has set alarm bells ringing as it is expected to inflame the already volatile situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan. There are serious differences between the IS and the Taliban and the latter will put up a strong challenge to the growth of IS in Afghanistan. A sharp increase in violence in the strife-torn country can be expected as the Taliban and the IS battle for Afghan hearts, minds and territory. Importantly, the entry of IS into Afghanistan will impact the peace process.
By Huseyn Aliyev (04/01/2015 issue of the CACI Analyst)
The end of 2014 and early 2015 have witnessed a notable reduction in conflict-related violence across the North Caucasus. With the continuous departure of Islamist volunteers from that Russian region to the Middle East, in 2014 the number of casualties, among both militants and security forces, have decreased by more than half, compared to the previous year. While observers associate the current de-escalation of violence with the outflow of large numbers of North Caucasian youth to join Islamic State (IS) and with internal conflicts within the North Caucasus Islamist underground (Caucasus Emirate), reasons behind the recent decline of insurgency-related activities are likely to be more complex.
By Emil Souleimanov (07/02/2014 issue of the Turkey Analyst)
News has recently resurfaced in media outlets across the world referring to Omar al-Shishani, an ethnic Chechen leader of the north-Syrian sector of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), as one of the presently most influential and reputed jihadist leaders. Indeed, since around 2012, when fighters of North Caucasian origin appeared at the forefront of international jihadists engaged in the Syrian civil war, they have become a significant component of the anti-Assad force. They have grouped into various, increasingly divergent, mujahideen armies and their prospective return to the North Caucasus holds significant security implications.
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.