Wednesday, 09 March 2016 23:14

Spring 2016 Rumsfeld Fellowship

9469325398 9a8a07d299 mThe Central Asia-Caucasus Institute and the Rumsfeld Foundation continue to sponsor a fellowship program for raising regional leaders in government, commerce, and academia from Central Asia, the Caucasus and Afghanistan. The goal of this program is to foster better understanding and build stronger relations between the United States and countries of the region. Since its inaugural session in fall of 2008 the program has brought dozens of young leaders to the United States to conduct independent research and to meet policymakers, business leaders, journalists and academics.


Mr. Barry Salaam (Afghanistan), 37, is a journalist, activist and entrepreneur. Mr. Salaam is the Founder and President of NAW Media, a production company which produces a wide variety of radio programs, television shows, commercials, documentaries and feature films that reflect the challenges of Afghan society and aim to inform and enlighten the public. Mr. Salaam is also the Founder and President of Channel 7 TV Network, which promotes Afghanistan’s movie industry and focuses on cross-cultural themes and social issues. In 2012, he was also elected as the President of the Organization of Afghan Alumni, a network of over 500 alumni of educational and cultural exchange programs sponsored by the United States Government. Mr. Salaam is a founding member and sits on the Board of the Civil Society & Human Rights Network (CSHRN) of Afghanistan, which unites 120 member organizations, and is also a member of the Board of Directors of Radio Television Afghanistan and a leading member of the Afghan National Journalists Union (ANJU). He is a frequent participant in international conferences promoting democracy, women’s rights, free media, development and security in Afghanistan. Mr. Salaam holds a BA in Persian Literature from Kabul University (2008) and has been awarded several prestigious fellowships in the U.S., U.K. and Germany focusing on journalism and cultural issues. Research Project: "Afghan Civil Society: A Path from the Most Oppressed to the Most Vibrant in the Region."

Mr. Mahmood Noorzai (Afghanistan), 28, is an independent political consultant and the Director of the NGO, "Kandahar Women, Peace and Unity Association." Prior to his current position, from 2013-14 Mr. Noorzai served as the Open Source Intelligence Chief at the National Directorate of Security of Afghanistan, from 2012-13 as Senior Political Advisor to the NATO Senior Civilian Representative to Afghanistan, and from 2010-12 as a Senior Political Analyst at the National Security Council of Afghanistan. He is also a co-founder of "Afghanistan Forward," a leading civil movement with a nation-wide network of young professionals that promotes societal and governance changes and motivates younger generations to play a more active role in the development of Afghanistan. Mr. Noorzai holds a BA in Political Science and Sociology from St. Joseph's College, University of Bangalore, India (2008), a MA in Diplomacy from the University of Nottingham, UK (2012) and a Masters level diploma in Advanced Security Studies from the George C. Marshall Center for European Security Studies, Germany (2010). Research Project: "Geopolitics of Central Asia Energy."

Ms. Lilit Petrosyan (Armenia), 38, is the Commissioner of the Commission on Ethics of High-Ranking Officials, a corruption prevention agency in Armenia that was established in 2012 to promote ethical conduct and standards in the public sector. She was nominated to this position by the Chairman of the Parliament and appointed by the President of Armenia. In her capacity as Commissioner, Ms. Petrosyan is responsible for the elaboration and implementation of ethics and integrity reform initiatives in Armenia. In addition, Ms. Petrosyan coordinates ethics related programs supported by international organizations and partners of the Commission. At the Commission, Ms. Petrosyan is a focal point of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Anti-corruption Network for Eastern Europe and Central Asia and a member of the Eastern Partnership Panels’ Working Group on Public Administration Reform. Previously, from 2007-12, Ms. Petrosyan worked in the Office of the President of Armenia as an advisor to the Analytical Research Department, where she was responsible for preparing recommendations on draft legislation and reforms as well as conducting research on best international reform practices. Ms. Petrosyan holds a BA in International Economics from Yerevan State University (1999) and a MA in Public Administration from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government (2009). Research Project: "Corruption Challenges in the Greater Central Asia-Caucasus Region."

Mr. Emil Gasimli (Azerbaijan), 31, is the Chief of Marketing and Business Development at the State Oil Company of the Republic of Azerbaijan (SOCAR). In this capacity, Mr. Gasimli is responsible for the coordination of marketing campaigns as well as the business development activities of the company in the Caspian region and beyond, including the coordination of SOCAR’s commercial activities within the Southern Gas Corridor project. Prior to his current position, he spent 5 years working in different IT consulting companies as well as for BP, coordinating their IT projects and activities in Azerbaijan. Mr. Gasimli’s areas of interest include energy security, international affairs, public policy, IT, governance and marketing. Over the years, he has participated in numerous international conferences and events on energy issues. Mr. Gasimli holds a BA in Finance and Accounting from the State Oil Academy in Baku and Georgia State University, USA (2007), a MBA from the University of Louisiana (2009) and a MBA from the State Economics University in Baku (2010). He has also completed the Advanced Foreign Service Program at the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy (ADA), receiving the ADA Distinguished Attaché Award (2010), and has earned a Master Certificate in Project Management from the School of Project Management of the Educational Services Institute (ESI International) in partnership with George Washington University (2015). Research Project: "Caspian Energy: Source of Regional Conflict and Cooperation."

Mr. Sulkhan Glonti (Georgia), 33, is an elected Board Member and Chairman of the Faction of the "Free Democrats" political party, as well as a Deputy Chairman of the Committee on Human Rights Protection of the Supreme Council (Parliament) of the Autonomous Republic of Adjara, Georgia. Mr. Glonti is one of the founders of the Free Democrats party, and from 2009-12 served as the head of the party’s youth organization. Prior to joining politics, Mr. Glonti was actively involved in civil society development, and from 2006-9 worked at the Institute of Strategy and Development. From 2004-5, he also served as a Member of the Presidential Council’s Commission of Education and Culture of the Autonomous Republic of Adjara. Mr. Glonti holds a BA in Theology from Tbilisi Theological Academy (2003) and a BA in Public Relations from Tbilisi State University (2007). He is an active blogger and an author of numerous of publications. Research project: "International Terrorism: New Challenges for Georgia."

Mr. Rakhim Oshakbayev (Kazakhstan), 39, is a Vice-Minister for Investments and Development of the Republic of Kazakhstan. In this capacity, he is responsible for the development and implementation of investment policy and international cooperation in this area. Prior to joining the Ministry of Investment and Development, from 2013-15 Mr. Oshakbayev served as Deputy Chairman of the Board of the National Chamber of Entrepreneurs of Kazakhstan, where he was in charge of integration, customs and technical regulations, agribusiness, the food industry, new technologies and green economy. From 2012-13, Mr. Oshakbayev served as the First Deputy Chairman of the National Economic Chamber of Kazakhstan, from 2011-12 served as a Managing Director of Kazakhstan’s Sovereign Wealth Fund, "Samruk-Kazyna," and from 2009-11 he was Director General of the Analytical Center of Economic Policy in the Agro-Industrial Complex under the Ministry of Agriculture of the Republic of Kazakhstan. In addition, from 2010-13, Mr. Oshakbayev was Head of the "Association of the Economists of Kazakhstan," a public foundation. Mr. Oshakbayev began his career in 2001 at "KazAgroFinance," a financial leasing company, where he eventually was elected the Chairman of the Board. In 2004 he left the company for private business and until 2008 was CEO of "Synergy" LLP, working on several development projects in Astana. Mr. Oshakbayev holds a BS in Economics from Lomonosov Moscow State University (1999). Research project: "How Strengthening Civil Society Can Help Kazakhstan Overcome Current Economic Difficulties."

Ms. Eliza Nishanbaeva (Kyrgyzstan), 36, is the Founder and Managing Director of Human Resources of Kyrgyzstan Ltd., a regional consultancy and recruitment service provider for assignments for highly qualified and experienced professionals in Central Asia. In addition, she founded Bishkek Business School in response to the growing interest in promoting human resources and education management in Kyrgyzstan. Today, Bishkek Business School is a leading institution providing business training and coaching in the country. Ms. Nishanbaeva is also a Deputy General Director at Manas Resources Ltd., an Australian-based gold developer and mining company in Kyrgyzstan. She is also an active member of the Women Entrepreneurs’ Association "Kurak," Bishkek Business Club, International Business Council, the American Chamber of Commerce in Kyrgyzstan and the Kyrgyz Chamber of Commerce.   Ms. Nishanbaeva holds a BA in Education Management from Arabaev Kyrgyz State University (2000), a diploma in Crisis Management from the Folke Bernadotte Academy in Sweden (2007), a MA in Human Resources Management from Lomonosov State University of Moscow (2010) and is currently pursuing a MA in Health Safety and Human Resources in Mining from the University of British Columbia, Canada. Research project: "Recruitment Strategies for the Government: Case of Kyrgyzstan."

Mr. Narantuguldur Saijrakh (Mongolia), 29, is the Country Director of Khan Investment Management Ltd., a Singapore-based investment boutique providing global investors with access to a wide range of investment and business opportunities in Mongolia. He is also a Board Member of the Khan Mongolia Equity Fund, the first open-end investment fund dedicated to Mongolia, and serves as the Chair of its Investment Committee. Prior to his current position, Mr. Saijrakh was the General Manager of Asia Pacific Securities LLC, the Mongolia-based securities brokerage arm of Asia Pacific Investment Partners, where he led its expansion into one of the largest brokerages in the country. Mr. Saijrakh currently serves as the Incoming (Deputy) Curator of the Global Shapers Ulaanbaatar Hub, a local youth community under the World Economic Forum, and a Board Member of TEDxUlaanbaatar, organizer of the main TEDx events in Mongolia. He also initiated the NextGen Mongolia community dedicated to the leadership development of young professionals. In 2015, Forbes Mongolia named Mr. Saijrakh on their "30 Under 30" list of the most influential change-makers in the country. Mr. Saijrakh is a Certified Private Banker from the Luxembourg Banking Training Institute and a Certified International Company Director from the Australian Institute of Company Directors. Mr. Saijrakh holds a BA in Business Administration and Economics from the American University in Bulgaria (2009). He has also completed a training program in International Capital Markets at the London Stock Exchange Academy (2011). Research project: "Sustainable Economic Growth Strategy for Mongolia: Development of the Financial Industry to Counter Cyclical Shocks Created by Mining Cycles."

Mr. Nemuun Gal (Mongolia), 37, is a co-founder and partner at NovaTerra LLC, specializing in corporate and project finance deal structuring, general contracts and regulatory framework advice. At NovaTerra Mr. Gal was instrumental in closing several multi-million dollar deals. In the past, Mr. Gal has also served as General Counsel at SouthGobi Sands LLC, a leading Mongolian coal mining company, and as General Counsel at Newcom Group, one of the largest investment companies in Mongolia. Prior to joining the private sector, Mr. Gal worked for the Mongolian Foreign Service for seven years, first in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia and later at the Permanent Mission of Mongolia to the United Nations, where he was in charge of political and legal affairs. Mr. Gal holds a law degree in jurisprudence from the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO University, 2001) and a LLM from the Columbia University School of Law, New York (2009), where he was the Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar, Bretzfelder International Law Scholar for 2008-9 and LLM Class Speaker in 2009. Mr. Gal is a member of the Bar of the State of New York since June 2010. Research project: "FDI and International Arbitration: Lessons for Mongolia."

Mr. Ozodkhon Davlatshoev (Tajikistan), 39, is the Executive Director of Kulob Petroleum Limited and the Director of Tethys Petroleum Representation in Tajikistan, an international oil and gas exploration and production company currently focused on Central Asia. He is also a Founder and Director of Shohsotoon LLC, a manufacturer and importer of energy efficient construction technologies in Tajikistan, and a co-Founder and Director of Vantage Point Partners LLC, a real estate, investment and development company based in the UAE. Since 2012, Mr. Davlatshoev is also an Honorary Consul of Sweden in Tajikistan. For the past 20 years, Mr. Davlatshoev has been actively involved with the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED). He began his career at AKFED’s Enterprise Support Facility, a precursor to the First Microfinance Bank of Tajikistan. From 2000-3, Mr. Davlatshoev worked as AKFED’s Investment Officer in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, helping to launch and manage several companies, including INDIGO Tajikistan (now TCell), Serena Hotel in Dushanbe and the Pamir Energy Company. In 2004 he became AKFED’s Deputy Director for Industrial and Infrastructure Development in Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Afghanistan. Beginning in 2006, Mr. Davlatshoev spearheaded investment and project development activities for AKFED in Central Asia, developing projects in renewable energy, mining, water and waste management, telecommunications, airport infrastructure and management, manufacturing and the agro industry. He now also plays a lead role in the Aga Khan Development Network’s (AKDN) Enterprise Growth Accelerator and Enterprise Development Platform in Tajikistan and other AKDN regions. Mr. Davlatshoev holds a BA in Middle-Eastern Studies (1997) and a BA in Economics (1999) from Khorog State University, as well as a MBA with specialization in Strategic Planning and Strategic Risk Management from Edinburgh Business School, Herriot-Watt University, UK (2004). Research project: "Economic Empowerment through Impact Investments: Creating Jobs and Building Sustainable Enterprises.

Ms. Raykhona Khashimova (Uzbekistan), 33, is a Commercial Officer at the British Embassy in Uzbekistan, where her responsibilities include the promotion of UK-Uzbekistan trade and investment relations, lobbying interests of British companies operating in the country and consulting with British investors on business opportunities and risks in the local market. Prior to joining the British Embassy, from 2009-12 Ms. Khashimova served as the Head of the Country Office of a Hong Kong based company exporting commodities from Uzbekistan, and from 2007-8 was a Logistics Analyst at Carlsberg Uzbekistan, where she helped with procurement to launch a new, multimillion-dollar brewery in Uzbekistan.              Ms. Khashimova is also a pro-bono consultant to the Socio-Economic Development Center, a leading women’s NGO in Uzbekistan, where she provides advice on project management and fundraising, international donor relations, microfinance products and women’s entrepreneurship development. Ms. Khashimova holds a BA in English Language and Literature from Uzbek State University of World Languages (2003), a BS in Finance and Economics from Virginia Union University (2006) and is currently pursuing her MA in International Business and Management at Westminster International University in Tashkent. Research project: "Partnerships between U.S. Based Donor Organizations and Microfinance Institutions in CAMCA Countries."

Mr. Ruslan Ramanov (Uzbekistan), 33, is the Executive Assistant to the Head of the NATO Office in Central Asia, where his primary responsibilities are constant and direct communication with Foreign and Defense Ministries of the five Central Asian countries as well as their Permanent Missions to NATO. The goals of this communication are to maximize these countries’ use of NATO’s partnership; to coordinate NATO-Central Asia transit issues within the framework of the Northern Distribution Network (NDN) and the Northern Line of Communication (NLC); and to facilitate NATO’s practical engagement with Central Asian partners in a variety of areas, including defense planning and review, support to NATO operations, defense education and training, civil emergency planning, cooperation on science and environmental issues and public diplomacy. Mr. Ramanov’s responsibilities also include briefing NATO Headquarters on relevant political-military, security and defense news from the region and to implement various NATO Public Diplomacy events and activities in the region. Prior to joining the NATO Office in Central Asia, from 2001-13 Mr. Ramanov worked at various international agencies and civil society institutes including the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), Freedom House International, the Organization on Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the EU-funded Civil Justice Project under Regional Dialogue International and the Open Society Institute’s Civic Education Project. Mr. Ramanov holds a MA in Public Policy Administration from the University of Missouri, Saint Louis (2009). Research project: "U.S. Foreign Policy in Central Asia following ISAF Withdrawal from Afghanistan: Emerging Challenges and Opportunities for Regional Security Cooperation."





  • New Article Series on Changing Geopolitics of Central Asia and the Caucasus
    Wednesday, 24 November 2021 11:53


  • CACI Initiative on Religion and the Secular State in Central Asia and the Caucasus
    Sunday, 24 January 2021 13:53

    In 2016, the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Program launched an initiative on documenting the interrelationship of religion and the secular state in the region. This initiative departed from the fact that little systematic reserch had been undertaken on the subject thus far. While there was and remains much commentary and criticism of religious policy in the region, there was no comprehensive analysis available on the interrelationship of religion and the state in any regional state, let alone the region as a whole. The result of this initiative has been the publication of six Silk Road Papers studying the matter in regional states, with more to come. In addition, work is ongoing on a volume putting the regional situation in the context of the Muslim world as a whole.


    Case Studies

    Each study below can be freely downloaded in PDF format.


    Azerbaijan's Formula: Secular Governance and Civil Nationhood
    By Svante E. Cornell, Halil Karaveli, and Boris Ajeganov
    November 2016   

    2018-04-Kazakhstan-SecularismReligion and the Secular State in Kazakhstan
    By Svante E. Cornell, S. Frederick Starr and Julian Tucker
    April 2018




    1806-UZ-coverReligion and the Secular State in Uzbekistan
    Svante E. Cornell and Jacob Zenn
    June 2018




    2006-Engvall-coverReligion and the Secular State in Kyrgyzstan
    Johan Engvall
    June 2020

     Event video online


    2006-Clement-coverReligion and the Secular State in Turkmenistan
    Victoria Clement
    June 2020

    Event video online




    Articles and Analyses

    Svante E. Cornell, "Religion and the State in Central Asia," in Ilan Berman, ed., Wars of Ideas: Theology, Interpretation and Power in the Muslim World, Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2021.

    Svante E. Cornell, "Central Asia: Where Did Islamic Radicalization Go?" in Religion, Conflict and Stability in the Former Soviet Union, eds. Katya Migacheva and Bryan Frederick, Arlington, VA: RAND Corporation, 2018.

  • Basic Principles for the Rehabilitation of Azerbaijan's Post-Conflict Territories
    Wednesday, 07 October 2020 09:01

    Rehab-coverIn 2010, the CACI-SRSP Joint Center cooperated with Eldar Ismailov and Nazim Muzaffarli of the Institute for Strategic Studies of the Caucasus to produce a study of the methodology and process for the rehabilitation of the occupied territories in Azerbaijan. The study was written in the hope that it would prove useful in the aftermath of a negotiated solution to the conflict.

    Such a resolution nevertheless did not materialize. At present, however, it appears that some of these territories are returning to Azerbaijani control as a result of the military conflict that began in late September, 2020. While it is regrettable that this did not come to pass as a result of negotiations, it is clear that the challenge of rehabilitating territories is as pressing today as it would be in the event of a peaceful resolution - if not more, given the likelihood that such a solution would have included a time-table and provided the Government of Azerbaijan and international institutions time for planning.

    It is clear that the study is a product of a different time, as much has changed since 2010. We fully expcect many updates and revisions to be needed should the recommendations in this study be implemented today. That said, we believe the methodoloy of the study and its conclusions remain relevant and would therefore like to call attention to this important study, published in English, Russian and Azerbaijani versions.

    Click to download:



  • Resources on the Armenia-Azerbaijan Conflict
    Monday, 05 October 2020 08:19

    Resources on the Armenia-Azerbaijan Conflict


    The Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Program have a long track record of covering the Armenia-Azerbaijan Conflict. This page presents the key resources and most recent analysis. 

    In 2017, Palgrave published the first book-length study of the International Politics of the Armenia-Azerbaijan Conflict, edited by Svante Cornell. The book concluded by arguing that if international efforts to resolve the conflict are not stepped up, “the ‘four-day’ war of April 2016 will appear a minor skirmish compared to what is sure to follow”.

    In 2015, CACI & SRSP released the Silk Road Paper  “A Western Strategy for the South Caucasus”, which included a full page of recommendations for the U.S. and EU on the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict. These are reproduced below:


    Develop a substantial and prolonged Western initiative on the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict.

    o This initiative must be led by the United States, in close consultation with its European partners – primarily the EU Commission and External Action Service, and France. Barring some process to reinvigorate the Minsk Process – a doubtful proposition given Western-Russian relations in the foreseeable future – Western leaders must be prepared to bypass that process, utilizing it where appropriate but focusing their initiative on developing direct negotiations between the Armenian and Azerbaijani leaders.

    o The U.S. and its European partners must abandon the practice of relying solely on the Minsk Group co-chairs to resolve the Karabakh conflict. These diplomats have contributed greatly to formulating a workable framework agreement. However, strong and sustained U.S. Government leadership from the top level is needed to complement or, failing that, to replace the Minsk Process. In practice, this means the expressed support of the President, involvement of the White House, and leadership manifested in the appointment of a distinguished citizen as Special Envoy for the resolution of the conflict.

    o The EU must take a more clearly defined and substantial role in the process, by integrating to the highest degree possible the French co-chairmanship of the Minsk Group with EU institutions. While Washington will need to take the lead on the political side, it would be natural for the EU to take the lead in organizing an international development program for the currently occupied Azerbaijani provinces and Karabakh itself. That effort, too, would need to be led by a senior EU figure.


    In 2011, CACI & SRSP helped launch an extensive study of the steps needed for the post-conflict rehabilitation of Azerbaijan's occupied territories, in cooperation with Eldar Ismailov and Nazim Muzaffarli of the Institute for Strategic Studies of the Caucasus. The monograph "Basic Principles for the Rehabilitation of Azerbaijan's Post-Conflict Territories" can be accessed here


    More background resources:

    Svante E. Cornell, "Can America Stop a Wider War Between Armenia and Azerbaijan?", The National Interest, October 2020

    Brenda Shaffer and Svante E. Cornell, Occupied Elsewhere: Selective Policies on Occupation, Foundation For Defense of Democracies, January 2020. 

    Brenda Shaffer and Svante E. Cornell, "The U.S. Needs to Declare War on Proxies", Foreign Policy, January 27, 2020

    Svante E. Cornell, “The Raucous Caucasus”, American Interest, May 2017

    Svante E. Cornell, Small Nations and Great Powers: A Study of Ethnopolitical Conflict in the Caucasus, RoutledgeCurzon, 2001.

    Svante E. Cornell, The Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict, Uppsala University, 1999

    More recent analysis:

    Turkey Seeks to Counter Russia in the Black Sea-Caucasus Region,” Turkey Analyst, 10/5/20, Emil Avdaliani

    Turkey’s Commitment to Azerbaijan’s Defense Shows the Limits of Ankara’s Tilt to Moscow,” Turkey Analyst, 9/25/20, Turan Suleymanov & Bahruz Babayev

     “Cross-Border Escalation between Armenia and Azerbaijan,” Central Asia-Caucasus Analyst, 9/25/20, Natalia Konarzewska

    Russia and Turkey: Behind the Armenia-Azerbaijan Clashes?”, Central Asia-Caucasus Analyst, 8/31/20, Avinoam Idan

    Armenia and the U.S.: Time for New Thinking?”, Central Asia-Caucasus Analyst, 10/2/19, Eduard Abrahamyan.

    Why Washington Must Re-Engage the CaucasusCentral Asia-Caucasus Analyst, 7/8/19, Stephen Blank

    Azerbaijan’s Defense Industry Reform”, Central Asia-Caucasus Analyst, 5/7/19, Tamerlan Vahabov.

    Military Procurements on Armenia's and Azerbaijan's Defense Agendas”, Central Asia-Caucasus Analyst, 3/27/19, Ilgar Gurbanov

    Armenia's New Government Struggles with Domestic and External Opposition,” Central Asia-Caucasus Analyst, 3/20/19, Armen Grigorian.

    Bolton's Caucasian Tour and Russia's Reaction”, Central Asia-Caucasus Analyst, 12/17/18, Eduard Abrahamyan.