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 Natalia Konarzewska
March 25th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
In late December 2015, Turkmenistan officially announced the completion of the East-West gas pipeline. This 773 kilometer route with an annual capacity of 30 billion cubic meters (bcm) will connect natural gas from fields located in eastern Turkmenistan to those along its Caspian Sea coast, with the potential of further transfer via the Caspian Sea and onward to the Turkish and European markets. The construction of the pipeline is complementary to Turkmenistan’s current strategy for gas exports. Ashgabat seeks broader export opportunities in Turkey and Europe to reduce its dependence on Russia and China as major gas export outlets. However, despite positive political shifts, which might enhance Turkmenistan’s energy cooperation with Turkey, Azerbaijan and the EU, several obstacles remain to the westward transfer of Turkmenistan’s gas.
By Fariz Ismailzade
March 11th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
After a decade of transformational economic growth, reduced oil prices forced Azerbaijan to a double devaluation of its national currency, significant reduction of public spending, slowdown of GDP, and most importantly, panic in the domestic market among both the general population and the business community. The government responded with several anti-crisis programs and measures, aimed at stimulating national economy, supporting local production and easing the business climate for the local entrepreneurs. President Ilham Aliyev has called 2016 “a year of deep economic reforms.” It remains to be seen whether the country will be able to shift gears and transform its economy to achieve sustainable growth from non-oil sectors.
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.