By John C.K. Daly
June 7th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
On May 21, a U.S. drone attack killed Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour and taxi driver Mohammad Azam near Nushki in Pakistan’s Baluchistan province. Mansour was returning from Taftan, Iran, where he had gone for medical treatment, to his residence near the provincial capital Quetta, a 370-mile journey. Mansour and his driver had completed roughly two-thirds of the nine-hour trip. A Pakistani passport and a Computer National Identity Card (CNIC) identifying Mansur as “Wali Muhammad” were found near the wreckage. Mansour’s death, coming nine months after his contested election as “Amir al-Mu'minin” by the Taliban’s Rahbari Shura, has added additional volatility to Afghanistan’s complex political landscape, effectively sidelining any possibility of renewing peace negotiations with the Afghan government as Mansour’s successor seeks to consolidate his position.
By Roger N. McDermott
May 31st, 2016, The CACI Analyst
Russia’s Armed Forces are conducting a series of exercises in Central Asia ostensibly designed to reassure regional allies that Moscow will assist in the face of an insurgency or incursion led by the Taliban or the terrorist organization calling itself the Islamic State (ISIS). However, these exercises are increasingly demonstrating the Kremlin’s intention to reassert Russia’s security role in Central Asia, while some features of such military exercises are also betraying increasingly sophisticated Russian technology and warfare capabilities, and consequently a widening gap with the country’s allies in the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO).
By Sudha Ramachandran
May 26th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
Iran’s location near key trade routes and strategic waterways could make it a major Eurasian trade and transit corridor in the coming decades. China is keen to tap into Iran’s potential. But will Iran’s rise as a trade hub undermine the importance and prospects of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)? This possibility has raised concerns in Pakistan that China’s commitment to making the Gwadar port a key node in the CPEC could dwindle as Iran’s trade corridors take shape and if Pakistan’s government fails to address China’s security concerns.
By Stephen Blank
May 9th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
China has steadfastly refused to get involved in providing hard, i.e. military, security to Central Asian governments, including Afghanistan. This might now be changing. In a March visit to Kabul, General Fang Fenghui, Chief of Staff of the PLA, announced plans to set up an anti-terror regional alliance with Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan. President Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan reportedly endorsed this proposal. China’s initiative could imply a major new development in Chinese policy and in Central Asia’s overall security, with lasting implications for the region.
By Jacob Zenn
May 3rd, 2016, The CACI Analyst
For more than a decade after the September 11, 2001 attacks in the U.S., the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) was the “bogeyman” of Central Asian militancy. It was the most well-known militant group in Central Asia and abroad, even though it was in exile in Afghanistan and Pakistan under the protection of the Taliban and al-Qaeda. Years of drone strikes and counter-insurgency operations failed to eliminate the IMU. Ironically, however, it was neither the U.S. nor coalition forces that destroyed the IMU. Rather, it was the Taliban who liquidated the IMU in late 2015 as punishment for its “betrayal” of the Taliban (and al-Qaeda) by pledging loyalty to Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, leader of the terrorist organization calling itself the Islamic State (ISIS). This will change the nature of the militant threat to Central Asia and force a reconsideration of Uzbekistan’s counter-extremism measures.
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.