By Eduard Abrahamyan
April 27th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
The recent unprecedented escalation around Nagorno-Karabakh highlighted deep systemic shortcomings in existing international mediation initiatives. The OSCE Minsk Group, dedicated to settling the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia, has become largely irrelevant in the new operational situation. The intense fighting erupted on April 2 and lasted for four days until a Russia-brokered ceasefire between the adversaries was mutually agreed upon on April 5. The fighting put an end to the 22-year-old ceasefire regime, and the security environment of the South Caucasus. The escalation was clearly a consequence of a shift in the military balance of power, consistently fueled by Russia’s distribution of advanced offensive arms to Azerbaijan and the evident impracticability of the Minsk Group.
By Almaz Rza
April 11th, the CACI Analyst
Starting from mid-day on April 5, the cease-fire regime was restored after heavy fighting between Armenian and Azerbaijani armed forces along the line of contact since April 2. According to information posted on the website of Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry, “military forces are now working on strengthening their position in newly liberated areas.”
Dozens of soldiers and civilians were killed as the worst fighting in two decades threatened to spread beyond the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh territory and adjacent occupied territories. International organizations have warned that the escalating conflict could spiral into a “full-scale war” over Nagorno-Karabakh, threatening to destabilize the region.
By Zaur Shiriyev
April 12th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
Saudi Arabia’s attempt to persuade Azerbaijan to join its anti-terror coalition comprised of Islamic countries has created problems for Baku due to fierce opposition to this coalition from Iran and Russia. Azerbaijan’s leadership subsequently attended the international donor conference on Syria’s future, seeking to become part of an international platform that will limit the country’s involvement to humanitarian affairs. However, while Azerbaijan’s interests and capacity to engage in international discussions about Syria are limited, the involvement of Azerbaijani fighters in the terrorist organization calling itself the Islamic State (ISIS) may require Baku to join some kind of international anti-terrorism coalition in the future, aimed at supporting intelligence sharing and cooperation with the aim of preventing recruitment of Azerbaijani jihadists.
By Najia Badykova
March 30th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
On February 29, 2016, the Southern Gas Corridor Advisory Council met in Baku for the second time and asserted that the diversification of EU energy sources remains a key component of the Union’s energy security policy. But the project faces serious hurdles. After many years of discussions with potential gas suppliers, Brussels has only been able to secure 10 billion cubic meters (bcm) of Azerbaijani gas per year for the corridor, a tiny fraction of EU members’ needs. Without securing significantly larger new gas supplies, it will be difficult economically and politically to justify such a large and expensive infrastructure project. While EU officials continue to assert their commitment to the corridor, it is unclear whether Brussels is moving toward the pragmatic approach necessary to secure more gas for the scheme or if we are only witnessing further rhetoric from bureaucrats.
By Roger N. McDermott
March 28th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
Russia’s and Tajikistan’s joint antiterrorist exercise on March 15-20 involved five Tajik training ranges, and showcased bilateral security cooperation. The exercise seemed routine, consistent with each country’s national security concerns; however a number of factors coalesced on Moscow’s planning and deployment side to make it both unique and potentially revealing. Buoyed by its recent experience of military conflict in Ukraine and Syria, Russia’s Armed Forces display increased confidence in supporting a more pro-active Russian foreign policy posture. The elements it deployed in Tajikistan for the exercise contain strategic messages for the benefit of other actors and Russia’s potential adversaries in Central Asia: for regional governments the message is one of reassurance and renewed confidence.
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.