By Sudha Ramachandran
April 27, 2021, the CACI Analyst
A new railway line running between Khaf in Iran and Herat in Afghanistan has generated much optimism in the two countries as it has the potential to boost bilateral travel and trade. The railway link is important to the larger region as well as it is part of the ambitious Five Nation Railway Corridor project. While there are great expectations of the FNRC project and the Khaf-Herat railway link’s recent inauguration in the participating countries, the road ahead will not be easy and the project faces implementation problems as well as competition from rival projects.
By S. Enders Wimbush
February 18, 2021, the CACI Analyst
Both Russia and the United States are advertising new strategies for dealing with Central Asia, but each is deficient in its own way. While Russia seeks to exclude Afghanistan from its vision of Central Asia, the U.S. explicitly and wisely incorporates Afghanistan as organic to its vision. Neither vision links Central Asia strategically to a larger Eurasian concept that embraces the South Caucasus. To the contrary, both explicitly (the Russian version) or implicitly (the American version) isolate Central Asia geopolitically from the larger emerging political, economic, and security dynamics that Central Asians themselves seek to encourage to establish their region as the connective tissue between Asia and Europe.
By Umair Jamal
December 16, 2020, the CACI Analyst
The visit of Abdullah Abdullah, head of Afghanistan’s High Council for National Reconciliation, to Pakistan in late September was considered a major shift in Kabul’s approach towards Islamabad. This was Abdullah’s first visit to Pakistan in his new role as the Afghan government’s top negotiator in the intra-Afghan peace talks. When serving in the previous administration as the Chief Executive Officer of the Unity Government, Abdullah declined several invitations to visit Pakistan. During the visit, Pakistan promised to push the Taliban to reduce violence and to support an “Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process” – which Abdullah has demanded for years. The ongoing push from both sides is intended to build trust and could prove to be a game changer for the Afghan peace process.
By Umair Jamal
September 30, 2020, the CACI Analyst
China and Iran’s US$ 400 billion trade deal will hurt India’s economic and security interests. With Iran likely to offer China the Chabahar port project, India’s Central Asia policy has suffered a huge setback. The Iran-China deal increases the importance of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a project that India opposes. Going forward, India’s ability to isolate Pakistan and balance China’s role will be severely circumscribed. The concerted effort of Iran, Pakistan and China to increase economic connectivity will definitely also involve Afghanistan, whereas India’s diplomacy faces an uphill task with the loss of a key ally to China.
By Richard Weitz
September 3, 2020, the CACI Analyst
The revelations that Russian intelligence may have hired criminals to attack NATO forces in Afghanistan underscores the complex nature of Moscow’s Afghan policies. Though what happened or why remains disputed, the reports highlight the Russian government’s weak tools for shaping the future of Afghanistan despite the country’s pivotal place in Russia’s Eurasian agenda.
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.