By Fuad Shahbazov
February 21, 2017, the CACI Analyst
China's gradually increasing economic role in Central Asia since the early 2000s is unsurprising considering the region's geographic proximity to China's dynamic economy. In this context, Beijing has carefully shaped a military strategy in the region, particularly in neighboring Tajikistan. In September 2016, Beijing offered to finance and build several outposts and other military facilities (in addition to the Gulhan post, which was opened in 2012) to beef up Tajikistan's defense capabilities along its border with Afghanistan, whereas China's and Tajikistan's militaries performed a large counter-terrorism exercise in October 2016. These unexpected actions have raised concerns in Russia over rising Chinese influence in Tajikistan.
By Mamuka Tsereteli
February 17, 2017, the CACI Analyst
The weakening strategic position of Turkey will have a profound impact on the Black Sea-Caspian region and wider Central Asia. An assertive Russia and diminishing U.S. and Western engagement further limits Turkey's ability to play a pro-active role in the region. For regional actors in the South Caucasus, part of the solution should be to create the best possible conditions for transiting Asian cargos via Central Asia, the Caspian Sea, the South Caucasus corridor and the Black Sea to Bulgaria and Romania. This is how countries of the South Caucasus can bring new balancing powers to the region.
By Avinoam Idan
February 6, 2017, the CACI Analyst
Israel’s Prime Minister Binjamin Netanyahu made a landmark visit to Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan in December 2016. The Israeli Prime Minister's visit reflects Israel’s growing interest in Central Asia and the Caucasus, a region that is part of Israel's greater strategic environment. Israel's interest in Kazakhstan focuses on its trade potential, its regional and international status, and its position as a vital link in the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative. Azerbaijan's geographical location, its role as a significant energy exporter, and its security approach have been foci of the close relations that have developed between Baku and Jerusalem over the years. The Prime Minister's visit reflects the continued deepening of ties with Azerbaijan.
By Sudha Ramachandran
February 9, 2017, the CACI Analyst
Pakistan’s government has set March 31 as the deadline for all Afghan refugees living on its soil to leave the country or face deportation. Although it is not a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention or the 1967 Protocol, Pakistan has been a generous host to Afghan refugees, hosting up to 5 million Afghans at a time. Neither did Pakistan force them in the past to return to Afghanistan. This seems to have changed. For many refugees, returning to Afghanistan will not be a happy homecoming as the security and economic situation in the country remain dire.
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.
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.