By Richard Weitz
October 19th, 2015, The CACI Analyst
Although international attention regarding Iran naturally gravitates towards Tehran’s activities in the Persian Gulf and the nuclear realm, Iran is also an active player in the South Caucasus, Central Asia, and Afghanistan. Thanks to its nuclear deal with the great powers, the subsequent relaxation of sanctions, and the growth of regional terrorism and Russian military activism, Iran’s influence in the region is set to grow considerably in coming years, though not necessarily to the benefit of the regional states or their Western partners.
By Rohullah Osmani
September 18th, 2015, The CACI Analyst
After several years of uncertainty, a hope for a breakthrough has emerged for a critical energy project in South-Central Asia. On August 6, 2015, the 22nd TAPI Steering Committee approved Turkmenistan’s Turkmengaz as the consortium leader to oversee efforts in constructing, financing and operating the 1,600 kilometer natural gas pipeline. Achieving this milestone suggests a very important development for TAPI. Turkmenistan is taking a firmer lead in the project after talks with a French investor stalled, and also after the recent agreement over Iran’s nuclear program. This suggests Ashgabat is speeding up the project over fears that Iranian gas might flood back on to the market.
By Natalia Konarzewska
September 15th, 2015, The CACI Analyst
Armenia’s economy is currently experiencing a significant decline, which is primarily caused by spillover from Russia’s recession. At the end of 2014, Armenia’s national currency, the dram, saw rapid depreciation, which boosted inflation. Falling remittances from Russia are putting additional pressure on the dram, negatively affecting the livelihood of many ordinary citizens. Additionally, export volumes to Russia, which is Armenia’s top export destination, have decreased significantly. Armenia currently has few options to boost its faltering economy due to a falling number of foreign direct investments, high national debt and a shortfall of budget revenue. Economic forecasts for Armenia remain grim and since June the country has seen a wave of protests over the price hike on electricity.
By Sudha Ramachandran (09/02/2015 issue of the CACI Analyst)
By linking Kashgar with Gwadar port through a network of roads and railway lines, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project has the potential to inject new life into the region’s economies. While India has expressed strong objections to the CPEC for economic as well as strategic reasons, it could also benefit from the project by opening up an overland route to new markets in Central Asia.
By Najia Badykova (09/02/2015 issue of the CACI Analyst)
In anticipation of the lifting of sanctions on Iran and the country’s resulting potential to become a major energy player in Eurasia, Tehran, its neighbors, and European countries are evaluating their options. Iran’s eagerness to enter the European and South Asian gas markets will immediately affect the Caspian Sea Basin, already subjected to intense rivalry over pipeline routes, where most prominently Turkmenistan targets the same markets. Iran cannot in the short term supply gas in the quantities needed to diversify European supply, but seeks to secure its participation in the European market by offering its territory for Turkmen gas deliveries to Europe. Iran is much better positioned towards South Asia, where it can export its surplus gas to Pakistan and India leaving Turkmen gas less competitive in those markets.
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.