By Franz J. Marty
February 3, 2017, the CACI Analyst
Overwhelming evidence – photographs, an eyewitness account and several confirming statements of diplomats and observers, among them a Chinese official familiar with the matter – leaves virtually no doubt that Chinese troops have undertaken joint patrols with their Afghan (and possibly also Tajik) counterparts on Afghan soil in the Little Pamir, a high plateau near the Afghan-Chinese border. While the Chinese source insists that such joint border patrols were based on an agreement, and therefore legal, the Afghan government steadfastly denies the existence of such patrols.
By Boris Ajeganov
January 23, 2017, the CACI Analyst
Foreign investment in Georgia is strengthening the country’s importance in connecting East Asia with Europe, which has positive implications for the broader region. The rise in FDI in commercial and transportation infrastructure in combination with the signing of international free trade agreements will reduce Georgia’s vulnerability in terms of economic and, ultimately, ‘hard’ security. The growing importance of the South Caucasus as node for EU-China trade will weaken Russia’s incentives to undermine its southern neighbors by military, political, and economic means as it has done in the past. Accordingly, Tbilisi’s ability to conduct an independent foreign policy is set to improve despite the absence of Western security guarantees.
By Stephen Blank
January 16th, 2017, The CACI Analyst
Recent evidence shows a gradual increase in Chinese military activity in Central Asia, particularly with Tajikistan, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, although China has for years denied any military interest in the region. In October, PLA and Tajik forces jointly participated in counterterrorism exercises in Tajikistan near the border with Afghanistan, following earlier activity in 2016. Whereas Tajikistan was then silent, this time it publicized the exercises, which aroused a visible anxiety in the Russian media although the Russian government has hitherto been unwilling to comment on this issue. 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
January 16th, 2017, The CACI Analyst
Abu Zar al-Burmi was one of the most prominent Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) muftis and a close associate of the Pakistani Taliban and al-Qaeda. Despite pledging loyalty to the terrorist organization known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in 2015, he has recently renounced his support of ISIS and is preaching under the banner of the Imam Bukhari Brigade (IBB), which is a Syria-based IMU offshoot that is loyal to al-Qaeda and the Taliban. The case of Abu Zar shows how, since the rise of ISIS in 2014, al-Qaeda has defended its stake in Central Asian jihadism.
By Farkhod Tolipov
January 10th, 2017, The CACI Analyst
On December 4, 2016, three months after the death of Uzbekistan’s first President Islam Karimov, the country held new presidential elections. The Prime Minister and acting Interim President Shavkat Mirziyoev became president-elect by defeating three competitors in a highly asymmetric campaign characterized by the utilization of so-called administrative resources. Yet Mirziyoev’s campaign was also an explicit demonstration of new domestic and foreign political trends in post-Karimov Uzbekistan towards more liberal reforms. The campaign also revealed rising new expectations on the part of the Uzbek nation after a quarter-century of one-person rule.
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.