By Uran Botobekov
May 2, 2019, the CACI Analyst
In January 2019, the Central Asian terrorist group Katibat Tawhid wal Jihad (KTJ) publicly renewed its Bayat (oath of allegiance) to Ayman al-Zawahiri, al Qaeda’s global chief. More than seven years after the killing of Osama bin Laden, al Qaeda continues to attract Central Asian Salafi groups. This trend has intensified since the start of the Syrian civil war, where several thousand radical Islamists from Central Asia went to wage Jihad. The conflict has allowed al Qaeda to claim Syria as its newest and most important safe haven for a global Jihad ideology. The ideological assimilation of the Central Asian groups with al Qaeda took place precisely in Syria.
By Natalia Konarzewska
April 29, 2019, the CACI Analyst
In March 2019, two high-ranking Armenian officials revealed that Armenia and Russia have not yet reached an agreement on the price of natural gas. Negotiations on gas tariffs are ongoing and remain high on the bilateral agenda. In late December 2018, Gazprom announced that it will raise gas prices for Armenia in 2019. Subsequently, Armenia has sought to reduce the price for Russian supply, with little success. In a move to improve Armenia’s negotiating position vis-a-vis Russia, Yerevan started to explore the possibility of importing gas from Iran. The gas row comes amid heightened tensions in post-revolutionary Armenia’s relations with Russia. Moscow has traditionally used its gas deliveries as a lever in bilateral relations and now routinely expresses its distrust in Nikol Pashinyan’s government.
By Stephen Blank
April 18, 2019, the CACI Analyst
The Washington Post recently reported that China has an operating military base in Tajikistan, confirming earlier accounts of this base and opening a window on China’s interests and strategic developments across Central Asia. However, China may have a second base situated in the Wakhan corridor of Afghanistan. Chinese forces have been present there since 2017, around the same time that the base in Tajikistan became functional. The newly discovered base, along with the base in Djibouti and the possible base in Afghanistan, reflects the pressures building from within the PRC and PLA to project military power beyond China’s borders, e.g. in the South China Sea.
By Nurlan Aliyev
April 16, 2019, the CACI Analyst
An anti-Chinese protest took place in Bishkek on January 17, 2019, the third in recent months. The protesters demanded a moratorium on issuing Kyrgyz passports to Chinese citizens, except for ethnic Kyrgyz, to scrutinize all Chinese-funded enterprises and also to test the appropriateness of loans taken from China. They demanded that Chinese citizens who reside illegally in Kyrgyzstan should be deported and a halt to labor quotas for Chinese. Other topics raised were high-level corruption and demands for transparency in the government’s financial activities, especially regarding its expenditure of Chinese grants and loans. Protesters also expressed disapproval of marriages between Kyrgyz women and Chinese men, demanding prohibited registration of mixed marriages and fines for newlyweds. The anti-Chinese protests in Kyrgyzstan take place in a broader context of rising sinophobic sentiments in Central Asia in recent years.
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.