Joint Center Publications

By Michael Emerson

ISDP Policy Brief no. 190

December 21, 2015

Click here for the PDF version of the Policy Brief

 

On December 21, 2015, the European Union and the Republic of Kazakhstan signed the new Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement in the Kazakh capital, Astana. The new agreement replaced the original one that has been in force since 1999 and it is considered as a significant step for both sides to advance relations and strengthen political and economic cooperation. This development took place in a year when Kazakhstan joined to the World Trade Organization (WTO). In fact, the two agreements are deeply inter-locked: the Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement was signed only on condition and after Kazakhstan's accession on WTO. However, Kazakhstan is also a full member of the Eurasian Economic Union, which complicates its relationship with the European Union.

By Johan Engvall and Svante E. Cornell

ISDP Policy Brief no. 189, December 17, 2015

Click here for PDF version

In the past two years, Kazakhstan has joined the World Trade Organization, obtained a seat at the Asia-Europe Meeting, signed an Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement with the European Union, announced it would host the EXPO-2017 in Astana, and launched a bid for a rotating seat at the United Nations Security Council. This extraordinary high frequency of international engagements is remarkable, but it represents a difference in degree and not nature in Kazakhstan’s diplomatic history. Indeed, since the fall of the Soviet Union Kazakhstan has developed a record of being the most proactive and innovative former Soviet republic in the sphere of international cooperation. 

Svenska Dagbladet, December 12, 2015.

Svante Cornell: EU gör säkerhetspolitiskt självmål mot Turkiet

Det är ett misstag att tro att Turkiet närmar sig Väst, trots att landet redan är en del av Nato och att EU för samtal om medlemskap. President Erdogan går i en helt annan riktning och Europa borde inse att hans politik innebär säkerhetsrisker.

Click to read.

by S. Frederick Starr and Svante E. Cornell

Click Here for PDF version

In 2015, the EU revised its Strategy for Central Asia, and finalized an Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement with Kazakhstan. These welcome steps will not turn the EU into a regional powerhouse overnight, but provide the EU with a platform to play a constructive role in Central Asia. The EU can achieve that if it avoids focusing on issues where it has little hope of direct influence, such as regional security affairs and domestic governance. Instead, to gain such a role eventually, the EU should focus on revitalizing the promise of its visionary initiative of the 1990s – the Transport Corridor linking Europe to Asia via the Caucasus and Central Asia – which it allowed to slip, handing the initiative to other powers, primarily China.

Monday, 14 September 2015 09:11

Turkey's Military Rulers

1509NYT-PICSeptember 11, 2015

THE NEW YORK TIMES

Turkey's Military Rulers

By Halil M. Karaveli

GOTHENBURG, Sweden — Many commentators have interpreted the decision of Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to restart the war against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or P.K.K., as designed to undo the results of the June 7 general election. The ruling Justice and Development Party, also known as the A.K.P., was deprived of its majority in Parliament when the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party, or H.D.P., surged at the polls.

Svante E. Cornell and M.K. Kaya

Current Trends in Islamist Ideology

http://hudson.org/research/11601-the-naqshbandi-khalidi-order-and-political-islam-in-turkey

In the past two decades, Turkey has emerged on the global scene. It has enjoyed dramatic economic growth that has catapulted it into the exclusive G20 club of major economies; and under the rule of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP), Turkey has enjoyed unprecedented political stability. For the past fifteen years, the AKP has formed a single-party government, a remarkable feat given Turkey’s tumultuous politics.

Thursday, 03 September 2015 00:00

How Georgia Stamped Out Corruption on Campus

How Georgia Stamped Out Corruption on Campus

 

 

NATO Leaders Should Ease the Path of Georgia’s Entry

http://www.newsweek.com/nato-leaders-should-ease-path-georgias-entry-356917

BY MAMUKA TSERETELI 7/24/15 AT 10:53 AM

The Warsaw summit of NATO in July 2016 has a chance to become another milestone in the history of the organization, if the alliance chooses to take the next step forward toward further enlargement.

There are several aspirant countries expecting bold decisions. Georgia is one of them.

The Georgian government is taking a more aggressive stand in demanding acknowledgment by the alliance of Georgia’s progress in political and military reforms. The Ministry of Defense issued a statement in June stressing that Georgia requests a Membership Action Plan (MAP) at the Warsaw summit, and Minister of Defense Tina Khidasheli made several statements about the proactive position that the government is going to take on this issue.

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This firm position on Georgia’s part should be welcomed. But based on past experiences of NATO’s inability to make a decision on Georgia, and in order to avoid further frustration of the Georgian public if no decision is made, it is essential to design the right strategy and accompany it with the right wording for both domestic and external consumption.

In terms of the strategy, pushing for the MAP should no longer be the priority for Georgia. In terms of the military compatibility and political-military reforms, Georgia is already very close to NATO standards. In addition, current instruments of bilateral relationships, such as the NATO-Georgia Commission and the Annual National Plan, provide mechanisms that could lead Georgia to membership.

The priority is to convince the NATO partners that short of granting membership, Georgia expects an announcement at the Warsaw summit that current political and military components of the Georgia-NATO partnership can lead to membership without the MAP. This decision will allow the alliance to grant Georgia membership at the right political moment.

Russia Factor vs. Security Interests of NATO

There is no secret that the key factor preventing Georgia’s membership in NATO is Russia. For years, Washington and many of its allies in Europe were keen to avoid anything that could escalate tensions with Russia.

Looking at developments in Ukraine, that cautious approach didn’t really produce desirable results. Unfortunately, President Barack Obama’sdeclaration in March 2014 that “neither Ukraine or Georgia are currently on a path to NATO membership,” was understood by Moscow as Russia’s veto power over the enlargement of the alliance. That led to much greater escalation of the conflict in eastern Ukraine in fall 2014.

Recently, Russia, yet again, moved the so-called borders of the breakaway South Ossetia region of Georgia deeper inside Georgia. As a result, part of the Baku-Supsa oil pipeline, which brings oil from the Caspian Sea to the Black Sea and supplies European and Israeli refineries, is now under Russian control. Clearly, the language of unilateral concessions doesn’t work with Russia.

Skeptics insist that bringing Georgia into NATO is dangerous since it cannot be defended against a Russian invasion. But the fact is that it is easier to defend the mountainous terrain of Georgia than most of the eastern borders of NATO—and this was the case during the Cold War as well.

In addition, while it is true that Georgia cannot defend itself alone, it is also true that with adequate military support, Georgia’s military can inflict very high costs on Russia in case further aggression takes place. NATO and U.S. defensive anti-tank and anti-aircraft weaponry, as well as training, will serve as a significant deterrent to Russian aggression against its smaller neighbor.

The focus on the burden that Georgia would impose on the alliance also needs to be balanced with consideration of the wider contribution the country makes to Western security. With Western interests challenged in the Middle East by radical ISIS militants, as well as by Russia in Ukraine and potentially in the Baltics, maintaining a strategic Western presence in the potentially volatile South Caucasus is even more important.

Georgia is also a central part of the East-West energy and transportation corridor, providing pipelines, ports, railways and highways to bring vital energy resources from Central Asia. This East-West corridor via the South Caucasus has the potential to become the shortest and fastest land route for container shipments between Europe, the Mediterranean and China, thus becoming an important pillar for global trade.

Georgia’s Goal for Warsaw

What Georgia needs in Warsaw is the formal declaration by the alliance’s leaders that Georgia can be admitted to NATO at any given moment without a MAP. This would avoid providing Moscow with any pretext for further negative escalation in the Caucasus.

Currently, Moscow believes that NATO is not ready to accept Georgia in the alliance. By not giving Georgia MAP, NATO will confirm Russian expectations. At the same time, by removing the impediment of a MAP, NATO would strengthen the Georgian public’s faith in the vision of “joining the West.” The understanding then will be that Georgia may become a member when NATO makes a political decision about the issue, and there will be no technical impediments for membership at that moment.

In addition to traditional allies from Eastern Europe who always supported Georgia’s NATO aspiration, the focus of Georgian diplomacy during the next 12 months should be on three key NATO members: the United States, Germany and Turkey.

U.S. leadership will be decisive in the process, but Germany and Turkey in many ways hold the key for Georgia’s NATO future. Both countries should see incentives for their support. Germany may become the key beneficiary of the China-Europe land trade in the future and thus should care more about the security and stability of Georgia.

Turkey is a key member of NATO and a neighbor of Georgia with whom Georgia is enjoying close political and commercial ties. But Turkey is facing increasing challenges in the Middle East, and having a stable and reliable ally next door would be important.

The U.S. can and must help Georgia deal with these allies. Welcoming Georgia’s troop contribution to U.S. and NATO operations for more than decade and not allowing Georgia to have a clear pathway to join the collective security organization that can protect the country’s sovereignty is a moral failure of the West. There is an opportunity to make a positive turn in Warsaw.

Mamuka Tsereteli is the director of research at Central Asia–Caucasus Institute at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies. He was a member of the Atlantic Council’s Georgia Task Force. This article first appeared on the Atlantic Council site.

Svante E. Cornell

 

 
 
June 10, 2015
 

Turkey must find a way to manage what amounts to a Kurdish revolution. Will it attempt to meet the Kurds halfway, or take a nationalist turn?


 

TAI

On June 7, Turkey’s President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, experienced his first electoral defeat—and a stinging one at that, his Justice and Development party (AKP) losing ten points and its majority in the parliament. This marks the end of Erdogan’s aspirations to rule Turkey single-handedly under a new, presidential constitution. With this election, the country has avoided slipping into an Islamist-Putinesque strongman rule but still faces many serious challenges. The first is handling Erdogan’s inexorable demise. Erdogan has little hope of reversing his slide, but he will not step aside easily. Turkey will also have to manage what was essentially a Kurdish revolution. The pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) more than doubled its support and will have a substantial presence in parliament. Will Turkey meet the Kurdish movement halfway and accommodate its demands, or will it take a nationalist turn and push back against the Kurds, with potentially dire consequences?

In the six months that he served as President, Erdogan essentially conducted a test-run of an executive presidency, but without the constitutional mandate for it. He refused to stay out of the day-to-day politics as the Constitution demands, and he chaired cabinet meetings, as well as campaigning overtly for the AKP. Erdogan wagered everything on a presidential system; clearly, the people did not like what they saw, and he lost. His party no longer has a majority in parliament, and any coalition government, even if it includes the AKP, is certain to reduce his influence in day-to-day affairs, including foreign policy. For four years or more, he will be the President in a parliamentary system. A consummate politician, he may yet reinvent himself, but in all likelihood, all he can really be now is a spoiler. It should be noted that one of Erdogan’s legacies is de-institutionalizing decision-making and concentrating it into his own, personal, informal power. Thus, Erdogan continues to have loyalists across the state bureaucracy, and at least for some time, he will be able to mobilize them to serve his goals.

Ironically, this downfall was his own doing. In early 2014, Erdogan faced a choice: remain Prime Minister, or seek the Presidency. His original plan, devised in 2010, had been to first change the constitution to a presidential system, then have himself elected President. But he spent 2011 consumed by health concerns, including what is assumed to be two cancer operations, and 2012 and 2013 were wasted in the intra-Islamic struggle with the Fethullah Gülen movement. The Gezi Park uprising of summer 2013 and the massive corruption allegations against his government later that year also prevented the launch of a new constitution—not least because parts of the AKP’s own parliamentary group opposed a presidential system. Against this background, the safe option would have been to remain Prime Minister and seek a fourth term. True, AKP by-laws limited office-holders to three terms, but Erdogan could easily have changed them. He remained popular, and could simply have cited a need to respond to popular demands. Had he chosen this route, he would almost certainly have retained his majority, and thus remained Turkey’s unchallenged strongman today. But power was not enough: he wanted absolute power.

In August 2014, Turks still gave him the benefit of the doubt: he managed to get elected President with 52 percent of the vote against two opposition candidates. (One of these was the young rising star of Turkish politics, HDP leader Selahattin Demirta?, who managed to get 10 percent of the vote, a breakthrough for a Kurdish candidate.) But by this time Erdogan was losing touch with reality. From 2011 onward, he gradually lost the support of key constituencies. Over time, he alienated Turkey’s liberal intelligentsia and descended into a deadly battle with the Gülen movement. Meanwhile, he parted ways with the more pragmatic and pro-European wing of his own party, led by former President Abdullah Gül, who publicly distanced himself from Erdogan’s rhetoric. Eventually, he also alienated many core party stalwarts that helped create the AKP.

The straw that broke the camel’s back was the Kurds. Erdogan had long courted Kurdish voters; in retrospect, his gambit to open peace talks with the PKK was in great part an attempt to gain the Kurdish vote for his presidential ambitions. But events across the Middle East changed the playing field. The creation of a self-ruling Kurdish region in Syria boosted Kurdish aspirations in Turkey as well. In the presidential election, Erdogan failed to win the Kurdish southeast, but he came in a close second to the HDP candidate Selahattin Demirta?, carrying almost 40 percent of the vote there. Then came the ISIS siege of Kobani. Erdogan refused to allow support for the beleaguered Kurds there, and this led to riots in southeastern Turkey that killed more than a hundred people. Only by bringing tanks onto the streets of Diyarbakir and appealing to PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan to calm tensions was Erdogan able to stabilize the situation.

Kobani convinced the Kurds of Turkey that Erdogan supported ISIS over Syria’s Kurds and was willing to let them be slaughtered. While their allegations are likely exaggerated, there is considerable evidence—as a Bipartisan Policy Center report detailed—that Turkey has turned a blind eye to the rise of ISIS, seeing it as a lesser evil to both Bashar al-Assad’s regime and to the Kurdish PYD. This was too much even for Turkey’s more conservative, Islamist Kurds, who had supported the Islamist AKP over the secular, Kurdish nationalist HDP. Tribal chiefs brought their supporters for massive shows of support for the HDP, and on June 7 the electoral consequences were obvious. The AKP was basically wiped out in the southeast of Turkey, capturing just a sixth of the vote there.

Conversely, the big winner of the 2015 election was the pro-Kurdish HDP, which ran on a platform that sought to attract liberal and leftist Turks as well as its Kurdish base. The HDP swept the southeast, but managed to exceed all expectations and capture a full 13 percent of the vote. If the HDP had failed to clear the 10 percent threshold (which, ironically, was designed specifically to keep Kurdish parties out of parliament), then almost all the seats it won in the southeast would have gone to the AKP, the only other party to have a presence there. That could have handed Erdogan the supermajority he needed to enact a new constitution. Aware of this, and for tactical reasons, hundreds of thousands of Turkish voters determined to deny Erdogan that prize voted for the HDP. This probably amounted to a quarter of the party’s vote.

Thus, going forward, Turkey will face political instability in Ankara while dealing with an assertive and emboldened Kurdish movement. Indeed, the HDP will now use its newly found support to demand answers to the questions it has been raising for several years: What is the Turkish state willing to give the Kurds on the issues that matter most to them: decentralization, education in the mother tongue, and the definition of citizenship, currently tied to the concept of “Turkishness” (whereas the HDP seeks a bi-national re-arrangement of the country)?

The AKP deserves credit for lifting the taboo on discussions of the Kurdish issue, and for gradually liberating language laws, among other things. Yet in the several years that negotiations between the AKP and the PKK have been ongoing, the government has failed to publicly (and allegedly even in negotiations) provide concrete proposals for compromises to meet Kurdish demands. This has led the HDP to conclude that Erdogan has simply been stringing the Kurdish movement along. Yet until now, Erdogan and the AKP could lay claim to represent the many Kurds who voted for it. But now, the HDP enjoys the near-total backing of Turkey’s Kurds, and it is therefore unlikely to accept the current state of affairs much longer. Its leaders will certainly raise their demands in the incoming parliament.

Meanwhile, the first challenge for this parliament will be to form a government. A coalition excluding the AKP is unlikely, because it would have to include two polar opposites: the Kurdish nationalist HDP and the Turkish nationalist MHP. As for the AKP, it could form a government with either of the two, or with the center-left Republican People’s Party. Thus, the AKP faces the choice of partnering with fundamentally different political movements.

A year ago, an AKP-HDP coalition would have seemed likely—but that was before Kobani and Erdogan’s sharp nationalist turn. It should be noted that in recent months, a rift opened between Erdogan and the AKP government on the Kurdish peace talks: Erdogan criticized them, while the government appeared determined to continue. Thus, an AKP-HDP coalition glued together by the prospect of a real peace deal is conceivable, but only if the AKP is able to sideline Erdogan from the party. This is a possibility in the longer term, and would be good for Turkish stability. However, most of the AKP parliamentarians are still personally loyal to Erdogan. That is likely to change over time—Erdogan is already described as a liability to the party—but that process will probably take months rather than weeks.

The alternative is a coalition with the right-wing MHP. On paper, this coalition makes the most sense: the AKP and MHP share a similar base, the difference being largely the diverging emphasis between religion and Turkish nationalism. Once Erdogan let the military back in from the cold to fight his rivals in the Gülen movement, he moved in an increasingly nationalist direction. It may thus be more natural for the AKP, especially if Erdogan initially remains informally in charge of the party, to make common cause with the MHP and the military to check and roll back Kurdish nationalism. That, in turn, could prove very dangerous: the riots over Kobani showed just how much of a tinderbox southeastern Turkey is.

The third and final option might seem the most unlikely: an AKP coalition with its very antithesis, the secularist CHP, once created by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. This appears the favorite option of Turkey’s business community. However, it is difficult to see the denominators that could provide a base for a lasting governing coalition. Such an arrangement, like all options on the table, runs the risk of being short-lived; bets are already on regarding how long it will take until early elections are held.

The conventional wisdom is that the Turkish military has been sidelined from politics, but lately, it has reared its head on the Kurdish issue in a public way unseen since the 1990s. The General Staff in August 2014 publicly expressed its displeasure over the peace process; in the case of Kobani, it vociferously resisted any assistance to the beleaguered Kurds. This augured what Halil Karaveli calledan “anti-Kurdish alliance of Erdogan and the generals.” Throughout modern Turkish history, the military has tended to fill any vacuum left by politicians; the crumbling of the AKP’s single-party government could generate exactly that type of vacuum. No one should be surprised if, behind the scenes, the military gradually begins to take on a stronger role, particularly concerning foreign and security policy, and especially the Kurdish issue. Such a role, indeed, might complicate any prospects of an arrangement with the HDP.

Turkey has escaped the prospect of dictatorship, but it will still have to pay the price for Erdogan’s polarizing politics, which have exacerbated ethnic, sectarian and ideological divisions in society. The President himself has been cut down to size, but it remains to be seen how the dynamics between Erdogan and his party develop. Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu was largely sidelined during the electoral campaign; it remains to be seen if he will be able and willing to challenge Erdogan and pull the AKP out from under his shadow. With international markets already concerned about Turkey’s highly leveraged and fragile economy, Turkish leaders will have to tread carefully to avoid political and financial instability. The question is whether they are up to the task.

Svante E. Cornell is director of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Program, a Joint Center affiliated with Johns Hopkins University–SAIS and the Institute for Security and Development Policy in Stockholm. He is the publisher of the biweekly Turkey Analyst.

 

Aliza Marcus [2]Halil Karaveli [3]

 
 
March 27, 2015
 

Imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan’s recent calls [5] for the Kurdish militants to end the armed struggle [6] inside Turkey seemed designed to show that they were on the brink of a peace deal. It didn’t work. The likelihood of a formal peace settlement has never been worse, and for now this may suit both the PKK and the Turkish government.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015 13:29

Kazakhstan's Snap Election

Diplomatic Courier

March 25, 2015

http://www.diplomaticourier.com/channels/ballot-box/2511-kazakhstan-s-snap-election 

Page 3 of 5

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News

  • Svante Cornell Testifies at House Joint Subcommitte Hearing on "Russia: Counterterrorism Partner or Fanning the Flames?"
    Wednesday, 08 November 2017 15:37

    On November 7, Svante Cornell testified at a Joint Subcomittee Hearing on "Russia: Counterterrorism Partner or Fanning the Flames?" convened by the Subcommittees on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade and Europe, Eurasia and Emerging Threats of the Committee on Foreign Relations of the U.S. House of Representatives. 

    The video of the event is available from the following link, with Dr. Cornell's statement at minute 47.

    1711Hearing

    For the written testimony, click here,

    1711Hearing-pdf

  • S. Frederick Starr on NPR on Uzbekistan
    Wednesday, 01 November 2017 14:59

    On November 1, CACI Chairman S. Frederick Starr was a guest at National Public Radio's 1A show to discuss "What we need to know about Uzbekistan".

    Click here to listen to the podcast, which runs 18 minutes.

  • Resources on Terrorism and Islamic Radicalism in Central Asia
    Tuesday, 11 April 2017 12:20

    Recent terrorist attacks in Istanbul, St. Petersburg, Stockholm, and New York City have been committed by perpetrators with an origin in Central Asia. The CACI-SRSP Joint Center has collected resources from its publication on the topics of terrorism and Islamic radicalism in Central Asia on this page.

    For press inquiries: the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute is part of the American Foreign Policy Council in Washington DC (202-543-1006); the Silk Road Studies Program is part of the Institute for Security and Development Policy in Stockholm.(+46-734-150065) Please click here for further contact information.

     

     

    List of Analytic Resources

    Svante E. Cornell and Michael Jonsson, eds. Conflict, Crime, and the State in Postcommunist Eurasia. University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014. (Includes chapters on Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and the North Caucasus)

    Svante E. Cornell, “Russia: an Enabler of Jihad?Op-Ed, Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies, January 16, 2017

    Jeffry W. Hartman “The May 2005 Andijan Uprising: What We Know” Silk Road Paper, May, 2016, pp. 68

    John C.K. Daly “Rush to Judgment: Western Media and the 2005 Andijan Violence” Silk Road Paper, May, 2016, pp. 85

    Shirin Akiner “Kyrgyzstan 2010: Conflict and ContextSilk Road Paper, July, 2016, pp. 146

    S. Frederick Starr, ”Moderate Islam: Look to Central AsiaNew York Times, 26 February 2014.

    Peter Sinnott, “Peeling the Waziristan Onion: Central Asians in Armed Islamist Movements in Afghanistan and Pakistan” China and Eurasia Forum Quarterly, Volume 7, No. 4 (2009) pp. 33-53

    Didier Chaudet, “When the Bear Confronts the Crescent: Russia and the Jihadist Issue” China & Eurasia Forum Quarterly. Vol. 7 Issue 2, 2009, pp.37-58.

    Svante E. Cornell, Narcotics, Radicalism, and Armed Conflict in Central Asia: The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, Terrorism and Political Violence, 17:4, 2007, 619-639, 2007

    Galina M. Yemelianova “The Rise of Islam in Muslim Eurasia: Internal Determinants and Potential Consequences.” China & Eurasia Forum Quarterly. 2007, Vol. 5 Issue 2, pp 73-91.

    Svante E. Cornell, Narcotics and Armed Conflict: Interaction and Implications, Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, 30:3 ,2007, 207-227, DOI: 10.1080/10576100601148449

    Michael Scheuer “Central Asia in Al-Qaeda's Vision of the Anti-American Jihad, 1979-2006” The China and Eurasia Forum Quarterly: Terrorism, Volume 4, No. 2,2006, pp. 5-10

    Saule Mukhametrakhimova “Perception and Treatment of the "Extremist" Islamic Group Hizb ut-Tahrir by Central Asian Governments” The China and Eurasia Forum Quarterly: Terrorism, Volume 4, No. 2,2006, pp. 49-54

    Svante E. Cornell & Regine A. Spector, Central Asia: More than Islamic extremists, The Washington Quarterly, 25:1, 2002, 193-206, 2002

     

     

    CACI Analyst Articles, 2014-2017, on Islamism, Central Asia and Syria

    Emil Souleimanov “Attacks in Chechnya Suggest Opposition to Kadyrov is Far from EradicatedThe CACI Analyst,  March 24, 2017

    At the turn of 2016 and 2017, events took place in parts of Chechnya that again challenged the triumphant statements of local pro-Moscow and federal authorities that the jihadist-inspired insurgency in this North Caucasian republic was eradicated. Aside from illustrating the latent character of armed conflict in the region in general and in Chechnya in particular, the recent upsurge of violence in Chechnya contains particularities that may have far-reaching consequences. Sporadic attacks against the Kadyrov regime will likely recur in the years to come and intensify should the regime’s grip on power weaken

    Stephen Blank “Central Asia: An Opportunity for the Trump Administration” The CACI Analyst, March 22, 2017

    Central Asia has never ranked high on U.S. priorities. That is unlikely to change under the Trump Administration. Yet recent developments in Central Asia, particularly in Uzbekistan, do offer an opportunity to advance U.S. interests through a greater economic-political presence in the region, whilst also countering growing Chinese economic dominance and Russian efforts at military hegemony at a relatively low cost. The two key countries in this possible opportunity for the U.S. are Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan.

    Fuad Shahbazov “China’s Long March into Central Asia: How Beijing Expands Military Influence in Tajikistan” The CACI Analyst, February 21, 2017

    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.

    Huseyn Aliyev “Islamic State-inspired attacks continue in ChechnyaThe CACI Analyst,  February 7, 2017

    On December 17, 2016, a shootout in central Grozny between members of the terrorist organization known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and local security forces claimed the lives of three militants and one police officer. On December 18, a counter-terrorist operation (CTO) launched in the aftermath resulted in the death of four more insurgents, whereas four remaining members of a militant cell were arrested. Three police officers were killed and one injured. While the confrontation between militants and police in Grozny was only the fourth conflict-related incident in the republic during 2016, it demonstrates that ISIS still has the capacity to target Chechen security forces.

    Jacob Zenn “Abu Zar and Al Qaeda’s presence in Central AsiaThe CACI Analyst, January 16, 2017

    Abu Zar al-Burmi was one of the most prominent Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) muftis and a close associate of the Pakistani Taliban and al-Qaeda. Despite pledging loyalty to the terrorist organization known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in 2015, he has recently renounced his support of ISIS and is preaching under the banner of the Imam Bukhari Brigade (IBB), which is a Syria-based IMU offshoot that is loyal to al-Qaeda and the Taliban. The case of Abu Zar shows how, since the rise of ISIS in 2014, al-Qaeda has defended its stake in Central Asian jihadism.

    Stephen Blank “New signs of Chinese military interest in Central AsiaThe CACI Analyst , January 16th, 2017

    Recent evidence shows a gradual increase in Chinese military activity in Central Asia, particularly with Tajikistan, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, although China has for years denied any military interest in the region. In October, PLA and Tajik forces jointly participated in counterterrorism exercises in Tajikistan near the border with Afghanistan, following earlier activity in 2016. Whereas Tajikistan was then silent, this time it publicized the exercises, which aroused a visible anxiety in the Russian media although the Russian government has hitherto been unwilling to comment on this issue. China’s initiative could imply a major new development in Chinese policy and in Central Asia’s overall security, with lasting implications for the region.

    Farkhod Tolipov “Uzbekistan between a new president and the same nation: is it perestroika?The CACI Analyst, January 10, 2017

    On December 4, 2016, three months after the death of Uzbekistan’s first President Islam Karimov, the country held new presidential elections. The Prime Minister and acting Interim President Shavkat Mirziyoev became president-elect by defeating three competitors in a highly asymmetric campaign characterized by the utilization of so-called administrative resources. Yet Mirziyoev’s campaign was also an explicit demonstration of new domestic and foreign political trends in post-Karimov Uzbekistan towards more liberal reforms. The campaign also revealed rising new expectations on the part of the Uzbek nation after a quarter-century of one-person rule.

    Farkhod Tolipov “Uzbekistan-Tajikistan: game over, but what is the score?” The CACI Analyst, December 15th, 2016,

    Uzbekistan’s and Tajikistan’s independence in 1991 raised the Shakespearean “To be or not to be?” question concerning the ambitious construction of a dam on the mountainous Vakhsh river in Tajikistan, which would embody the Rogun Hydro Power Station. Uzbekistan – a downstream country – has permanently and vigorously rejected and resisted the project referring to numerous risks associated with Rogun for all downstream countries. Uzbekistan’s president has been the principal political antagonist of this project. Two months after his death in September 2016, Tajikistan’s president has decided to move on with the project.

    Stephen Blank “Russian intervention in Syria and the CaucasusThe CACI Analyst,  November 27, 2016

    Few people think about trends in the Caucasus with reference to or in the context of Russia’s Syrian intervention. But Moscow does not make this mistake. From the beginning, Moscow has highlighted its access to the Caucasus through overflight rights and deployment of its forces in regard to Syria, e.g. sending Kalibr cruise missiles from ships stationed in the Caspian Sea to bomb Syria. Therefore we should emulate Russia’s example and seriously assess military trends in the Caucasus in that Syrian context.

    Edward Lemon “Signs of improving relations between Uzbekistan and Tajikistan but tensions remainThe CACI Analyst,  October 19, 2016

    Since the death of Uzbekistan’s President Islam Karimov in early September, signs have emerged of a thaw in relations between Uzbekistan and its neighbor Tajikistan. In the years since independence, bilateral relations have been plagued by mistrust, disputes over water resources and outright hostility. Both sides have adopted a series of punitive measures against each other. Although acting President Shavkat Mirziyoyev has expressed interest in “resetting” relations with Tajikistan, any improvement will be tempered by the ongoing conflict over Tajikistan’s planned hydropower plants.

    Huseyn Aliyev “Revival of Islamist insurgency in the North Caucasus?” The CACI Analyst, October 14, 2016

    The last week of August 2016 saw two large-scale Counter-Terrorist Operations (CTOs) in the North Caucasus republics of Kabardino-Balkaria and Dagestan, followed by another CTO conducted in the second week of September. This relatively low-scale increase in military confrontations between militants and security forces in the region nonetheless indicates a steady recovery of non-ISIS Islamist cells, which have been in decline since the emergence of ISIS in the region. While these recent developments may not indicate a revival of the local Islamist insurgency, they indicate that local insurgent jama’ats are still present and active in the region.

    Dmitry Shlapentokh “Prospects of Turkmenistan-Iran gas cooperationThe CACI Analyst, October 12th, 2016

    On June 8, 2016, FSU Oil & Gas Monitor quoted former UK Energy Minister Charles Hendry as saying that gas from Turkmenistan could reach European markets by various different means, including “overland routes through Iran.” It is unlikely that Hendry would make such an announcement without having received encouraging signals from both Tehran and Ashkhabad. The prospect of gas deliveries from Turkmenistan to European markets is disconcerting for Moscow, which regards the monopolization of gas supply to Europe as one of its major geopolitical and geoeconomic goals.

    Emil Aslan Souleimanov “The North Caucasus insurgency: weakened but not eradicated” The CACI Analyst, October 6 th,  2016

    The North Caucasus insurgency has weakened dramatically in recent years. While Chechnya-based jihadist groups now number a few dozen fighters, jamaats operating in Kabardino-Balkaria and Karachay have been nearly wrecked. In Ingushetia, a few insurgent groups remain numbering a couple of dozen members. In Dagestan, the epicenter of the regional insurgents, several jamaats have survived and number around a hundred active members. Indicative of the unprecedented weakening of the North Caucasus insurgency is the jihadists’ inability to elect an amir of the Caucasus Emirate: since the liquidation of the last amir Magomed Suleimanov in mid-August 2015, the jihadist resistance has been beheaded as it lacks a formal leadership. Yet has the regional insurgency indeed been defeated?

    Franz J. Marty “The phantom menace of ISIS in Northern AfghanistanThe CACI Analyst, September 8th, 2016

     Many accounts allege that the terrorist organization known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has expanded to northern Afghanistan and intends to infiltrate Central Asia from there. Taking a closer look, however, it becomes apparent that virtually all such claims lack a sound foundation and that the remaining, more specific hints like reported sightings of black flags also stand on shaky ground. Consequentially, and contrary to the eastern parts of Afghanistan, there is no compelling evidence of a presence of the self-styled Caliphate in northern Afghanistan and, hence, also no immediate threat to Central Asia.

    Farkhod Tolipov “The Tashkent summit and the expanded SCO” The CACI Analyst, July 27th, 2016

    50 years ago, Uzbekistan’s capital Tashkent hosted a summit ending the India-Pakistan war of 1965, resulting in the Tashkent Declaration. It was, so to speak, a Soviet “Camp David” aimed at bringing two antagonists – India and Pakistan – to peace. The SCO summit of June 2016 was, symbolically speaking, a second – multilateral – platform created in the same place, Tashkent, for the same two states to restore peace. Yet this summit did not appear to be a second Tashkent “Camp David,” but rather a challenge for the SCO itself.

    Emil Souleimanov “Chechen authorities raise pressure on human rights organizations” The CACI Analyst, July 23rd, 2016

    Recent months have seen increased attacks on journalists and human rights activists in Chechnya. Such attacks have long become characteristic of the Moscow-backed Chechen authorities’ attitude to any form of dissent, both within and outside the North Caucasus republic. While most human rights organizations and journalists were pushed out of Chechnya in the 2000s, the recent wave of violence has been particularly aggressive and threaten to remove the last resort for complaints on human rights violations as well as the only remaining sources of data on such violations in the republic.

    Rafis Abazov  “Fixing the Aral Sea disaster: towards environmental cooperation in Central Asia?The CACI Analyst,  June 28th, 2016

    Kazakh experts have recently begun to call water the “liquid gold of the 21st century,” as all states in the Central Asian region face greater demand for water concurrent with a significant decline in water supply. The Aral Sea – which became a symbol of environmental mismanagement and environmental catastrophe at the end of the 20th century – shows that sustainable development policies can help to deal with even the most difficult water issues. Conversely, however, mismanagement and border conflicts over water might worsen the situation, leading to further political and economic tensions. The current question is whether Kazakhstan can collaborate with other Central Asian states in saving and perhaps reviving the Aral Sea.

    John C.K. Daly “The death of Mullah Mansour and the future of the Taliban” The CACI Analyst, June 7th, 2016

    On May 21, a U.S. drone attack killed Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour and taxi driver Mohammad Azam near Nushki in Pakistan’s Baluchistan province. Mansour was returning from Taftan, Iran, where he had gone for medical treatment, to his residence near the provincial capital Quetta, a 370-mile journey. Mansour and his driver had completed roughly two-thirds of the nine-hour trip. A Pakistani passport and a Computer National Identity Card (CNIC) identifying Mansur as “Wali Muhammad” were found near the wreckage. Mansour’s death, coming nine months after his contested election as “Amir al-Mu'minin” by the Taliban’s Rahbari Shura, has added additional volatility to Afghanistan’s complex political landscape, effectively sidelining any possibility of renewing peace negotiations with the Afghan government as Mansour’s successor seeks to consolidate his position.

    Farkhod Tolipov “Ad-hoc peace or ad-hoc war: micro-geopolitics of Central Asia and the Caucasus” The CACI Analyst, June 2nd, 2016

    A few weeks before the April 2-5 fighting over Nagorno-Karabakh between Azerbaijan and Armenia, a border crisis occurred between Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan on March 18-26. Some observers connected these two events as links in the same chain. Indeed, both cases revolve around so-called frozen conflicts in the post-Soviet space; where one of the conflicting sides is a CSTO member and the other is not; and where speculations proliferate of a hidden Russian hand in both the instigation and mediation of the clashes. The two conflicts can be seen as a by-product of the same process – the continuing divergence of the former single Soviet space.

    Dmitry Shlapentokh “Kazakhstan's history as a geopolitical battlefield” The CACI Analyst, May 27th, 2016

    Throughout 2015, Kazakhstan celebrated the 450th anniversary of what it regards as the beginning of its statehood as a major national event. This extraordinary interest in a seemingly academic subject had clear political undertones: Kazakhstan is not an “artificial” state, as sometimes proclaimed by representatives of the Kremlin. The country’s continuous process of distancing itself from Russia has been coupled with repression against suspected proponents of separatism in Northern Kazakhstan, populated by considerable numbers of ethnic Russians or Russian-speakers. Despite the existence of clearly pro-Russian attitudes in this region, Moscow has not supported them out of fear that it could raise extremist forms of nationalism in Russia, which would be highly problematic for the Kremlin.

    Jacob Zenn “The IMU is extinct: what next for Central Asia's jihadis?The CACI Analyst,  May 3rd, 2016

    For more than a decade after the September 11, 2001 attacks in the U.S., the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) was the “bogeyman” of Central Asian militancy. It was the most well-known militant group in Central Asia and abroad, even though it was in exile in Afghanistan and Pakistan under the protection of the Taliban and al-Qaeda. Years of drone strikes and counter-insurgency operations failed to eliminate the IMU. Ironically, however, it was neither the U.S. nor coalition forces that destroyed the IMU. Rather, it was the Taliban who liquidated the IMU in late 2015 as punishment for its “betrayal” of the Taliban (and al-Qaeda) by pledging loyalty to Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, leader of the terrorist organization calling itself the Islamic State (ISIS). This will change the nature of the militant threat to Central Asia and force a reconsideration of Uzbekistan’s counter-extremism measures.

    Roger N. McDermott “Russia-Tajikistan antiterrorist exercises: strategic messagingThe CACI Analyst, March 28th, 2016

    Russia’s and Tajikistan’s joint antiterrorist exercise on March 15-20 involved five Tajik training ranges, and showcased bilateral security cooperation. The exercise seemed routine, consistent with each country’s national security concerns; however a number of factors coalesced on Moscow’s planning and deployment side to make it both unique and potentially revealing. Buoyed by its recent experience of military conflict in Ukraine and Syria, Russia’s Armed Forces display increased confidence in supporting a more pro-active Russian foreign policy posture. The elements it deployed in Tajikistan for the exercise contain strategic messages for the benefit of other actors and Russia’s potential adversaries in Central Asia: for regional governments, the message is one of reassurance and renewed confidence.

    Richard Weitz “Moscow's agenda in Central Asia and the Caucasus: it is officialThe CACI Analyst, March 18th, 2016

    The states of Central Asia and the South Caucasus are in for a rough ride if recent Russian national security documents and speeches genuinely represent the Kremlin’s worldview. Not only do these texts veto their membership in NATO, but they exclude mutually profitable partnerships for these countries with the European Union and other Western institutions, constrain their domestic development, and encourage the suppression of civil liberties by warning of fictitious Western plots to change their regimes under the guise of democracy promotion and human rights.

    Roger N. McDermott “Russia recalibrates 201st base in Tajikistan” The CACI Analyst February 25th, 2016

    Moscow has stated that among its defense and security priorities for 2016, Central Asia and the South Caucasus will top its agenda. Kavkaz 2016, the main strategic military exercise of the year, will take place in the Southern Military District (MD), while Tsentr 2015 occurred in Central MD with among its vignettes a rehearsal of intervention in Central Asia. Surprisingly in this context, the Defense Ministry plans to restructure the 201st Base in Tajikistan from divisional to brigade status. This initiative is driven by Moscow’s growing concerns about the future of Central Asian security as it faces multiple potential threats stemming from Afghanistan and Islamic State (ISIS). But paradoxically, Moscow’s latest moves to strengthen the basing of its forces in Tajikistan serves as an indicator of official perceptions that the region could suffer a serious security challenge.

    Emil Aslan Souleimanov “Azerbaijan, islamism, and unrest in NardaranThe CACI Analyst, December 27th, 2015

    On November 25-26, Azerbaijani law enforcement carried out a special operation in Nardaran, a township on the northern edge of the Absheron peninsula located 25 kilometers northeast of the capital’s center. The purpose of the special operation was to break the backbone of the Muslim Unity group, a purportedly militant Shiite organization. The context and implications of the Nardaran events have received little attention in Western media, despite the concerns raised both within and outside the region about Azerbaijan finding itself on the brink of religiously inspired civil unrest.

    Richard Weitz  “Building on Kerry's Central Asian tourThe CACI Analyst, December 22nd, 2015

    In early November, John Kerry made a long overdue trip to Central Asia, becoming the first Secretary of State to visit all five Central Asian countries in one diplomatic tour. His agenda focused on reassuring the regional governments that the United States cares about their concerns, specifically Afghanistan and religious extremism. Kerry also highlighted U.S. support for region-wide economic integration, ecological protection, and cultural and humanitarian cooperation. He further developed bilateral cooperation with each Central Asian government. However, there were no major agreements or blockbuster initiatives announced during Kerry’s visit. It will require sustained follow-through by the current and next U.S. administrations to achieve enduringly positive results.

    S. Frederick Starr and Svante E. Cornell “The EU and Central Asia: Developing Transport and TradeThe CACI Analyst December 10th, 2015

    A number of initiatives have combined to make the development of continental transport and trade across the heartland of Eurasia a reality rather than a mere vision. Some of these have been external, while many have been internal to the region. Yet Europe, which launched the visionary TRACECA program in the early 1990s, is largely absent from the scene today. Yet if Europe works with Central Asian states, it stands to benefit greatly from this process. This would involve work to make the transport corridors more attuned to market logic; to promote the development of soft infrastructure; to pay attention to the geopolitics of transport and support the Caucasus and Caspian corridor; and not least, to look ahead to the potential of linking Europe through Central Asia not just to China, but also to the Indian subcontinent.

    Huseyn Aliyev, Emil A. Souleimanov “Russia's missile launches and the militarization of the Caspian SeaThe CACI Analyst, November 23rd, 2015

    In early October, Russia's Minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu announced that Russian navy warships based in the Caspian Sea had fired a total of 26 missiles at the positions of the terrorist organization calling itself the Islamic State (ISIS) in Syria. The minister claimed that all the 11 targets, located around 1,500 kilometers from the warships, were destroyed over two days. Russian authorities and pro-regime media have considered the strikes a big success. While information soon resurfaced that some cruise missiles had landed on Iranian soil, the fact that the October strike is definite proof of the failed attempts to turn the landlocked water basin into a demilitarized zone has received less attention.

    Farkhod Tolipov “Pluses and minuses of the C5+1 formatThe CACI Analyst, November 13th, 2015

    During the UN General Assembly on September 27, 2015 in New York, Secretary of State John Kerry met with Kazakhstan’s, Kyrgyzstan’s, Tajikistan’s, Turkmenistan’s and Uzbekistan’s Ministers of Foreign Affairs to set up the new C5+1 format for dialogue between the U.S. and Central Asian states. As a first manifestation of this dialogue platform, Kerry made a Central Asian tour in early November. The C5+1 meeting in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, took place in the context of global geopolitical turbulence that has raised Central Asia’s profile in U.S. global strategy

    Dmitry Shlapentokh “The ISIS threat and Moscow's influence in Central Asia and the Middle EastThe CACI Analyst, November 6, 2015

    Moscow has recently undertaken several actions aiming to increase Russia’s influence in the Middle East and Central Asia. On August 23-28, 2015, the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), which includes several members from Central Asia, undertook military exercises in Russia. Russian authorities stated that the maneuvers aimed to help CSTO members develop means to effectively move airborne forces and other troops to conflict zones, including in Central Asia. The exercises partly served to address a real concern on the part of Russia as well as other CSTO members over the rise of the terrorist organization calling itself the Islamic State (ISIS). However, Russia sees ISIS not only as a threat but also as an opportunity for both increasing Russia’s influence in Central Asia and providing a pretext for its venture in the Middle East.

    Avinoam Idan “Russia in Syria and Putin's geopolitical strategy” The CACI Analyst, October 22nd, 2015

    The deepening of Russia’s military presence in Syria and its direct involvement in aiding the Assad regime during the Syrian crisis is a game changing step in the geostrategic context of the Middle East. This is Russia’s third move during the last eight years to change the strategic status quo in the greater Middle East by means of military force. Russia’s new step in Syria aims to influence the geopolitical makeup of the Middle East following the collapse of the Sykes-Picot order. Russia aims to establish itself as a key player from the Caspian Basin in the east, via the Black Sea, to the Eastern Mediterranean.

    Erica Marat “Kyrgyzstan: beyond democratic elections” The CACI Analyst, October 12th, 2015

    On October 4, Kyrgyzstan held parliamentary elections marked by significant improvements in the country’s democratic development.  The elections have demonstrated the viability of Kyrgyzstan’s 2010 constitution, which delegates more powers to the parliament and aims to prevent the emergence of autocratic political center. Fourteen political parties competed, and six were able to pass the national and regional thresholds to win seats.

    Emil Aslan Souleimanov “Russia's Syria initiative and the exaggerated ISIS threat to Central Asia” The CACI Analyst, September 25th, 2015

    Russia’s recent military engagement in Syria and calls for the establishment of an international coalition against the terrorist group calling itself the Islamic State (ISIS) has produced renewed interest in Moscow’s policies toward the jihadist quasi-state. Against this background, while many have speculated about Moscow’s true intentions in the Middle East, relatively little attention has been paid to Moscow’s interests in Central Asia and the Caucasus in the context of its increasingly vocal rhetoric of fighting ISIS. Moscow is actively utilizing the risks and threats stemming from the ISIS to boost its clout in the near and far abroad.

    Edward Lemon “Violence in Tajikistan emerges from within the state” The CACI Analyst, September 23rd, 2015

    Rather than resulting from external factors, as the regime has argued, the recent violence in Tajikistan erupted from within the state itself. Elites within the Tajik state continually compete for political influence and economic gain. These struggles occasionally break out into violence. Ironically, such conflicts are actually useful for the regime. They allow it to legitimize a purge of potentially disloyal members and a crackdown on other opponents. By blaming the latest conflict on the country’s leading opposition party, the Islamic Renaissance Party (IRPT), the regime legitimized its move to ban the party and arrest its leading members.

    Emil Aslan Souleimanov “A weakened insurgency precludes IS inroads to the North Caucasus” 09/02/2015 issue of the CACI Analyst

    Recent months have seen North Caucasian amirs pledging allegiance to the terrorist group calling itself the Islamic State (ISIS). Many have pointed to this process as a sign of the changing paradigm of the regional resistance, which is being transformed into – or absorbed by – the global jihadist insurgency. But these assumptions can be challenged by a look at the internal dynamics, the distance from key hotbeds of jihadist violence, and the limits of the North Caucasian insurgency. While ISIS may have some impact on the North Caucasian jamaats, it is likely to be rather limited and indirect.

    Farkhod Tolipov “Uzbekistan concerned over SCO expansion” 05/08/2015 issue of the CACI Analyst

    The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) held its annual summit on June 9-10, 2015, in the Russian town of Ufa, which was an historical turning point in the organization’s evolution. It adopted a Development Strategy towards 2025 and admitted India and Pakistan as full members. Uzbekistan has taken over the Chairmanship of the SCO from Russia for the next one year period. During the summit, Uzbekistan’s President Islam Karimov expressed concerns revealing Tashkent’s reluctant acknowledgement of the fact that from now on the SCO will be more than just a Central Asia-focused structure.

    George Voloshin “The Uzbek-Tajik détente: can it last?” 08/07/2015 issue of the CACI Analyst

    On June 22-24, Uzbekistan’s capital, Tashkent, hosted a third meeting of the Uzbek-Tajik intergovernmental commission on economic cooperation. Unlike the two previous sessions, which were organized in Dushanbe in August 2002 and February 2009, this year’s bilateral trade talks took place against the backdrop of an emerging détente between the two Central Asian neighbors. Uzbekistan and Tajikistan are currently confronted with a host of shared challenges ranging from the threat of radical Islam to socioeconomic instability, while their bilateral relationship is still constrained by unsettled disputes from the past.

    Charlie Smith “Islamic State in Central Asia: threat or opportunity” 08/07/2015 issue of the CACI Analyst

    Central Asia is a key region that many believe has fallen into the crosshairs of the terrorist group calling itself the Islamic State (ISIS). Local governments are gravely concerned about returning fighters and possible ISIS infiltration in the region, and foreign powers, especially neighboring Russia and China, have expressed their deep concerns. This grim picture, however, obscures a more complex, and perhaps more accurate, story. Might the specter of ISIS have less to do with its on-the-ground ability to destabilize the region and more to do with the geopolitical concerns of those who are stating these threats?

    Kevin Daniel Leahy “Existing Paradigms for Resistance in the North Caucasus Challenged by Kadyrov, ISIS” 06/24/2015 issue of the CACI Analyst

    With the recent death of its leader and the decisions by numerous field commanders in Dagestan and Chechnya to disassociate themselves with the organization, analysts are wondering if the Caucasus Emirate can endure. The terrorist group calling itself the Islamic State (ISIS) has emerged as the latest paradigm for resistance to Russian rule in the Caucasus. It is, however, only the latest in a long line of such paradigms to take root in the region, competing with the Caucasus Emirate, Chechen nationalism and other forms of ethnic separatism. What is the outlook for ISIS as a paradigm for resistance in the North Caucasus?

    Nurzhan Zhambekov “Russia’s Regulation of Labor Migration Set to Hurt Central Asian Economies” 04/29/2015 issue of the CACI Analyst

    The slowing Russian economy suffered a triple shock in the form of Western economic sanctions, falling oil prices, and the plummeting Russian ruble in 2014, resulting in a negative impact on Central Asian states. In addition, tighter migration regulations in Russia, in force since early 2015, are having an effect on the flow of migration from Central Asia, particularly from Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. These three countries rely heavily on remittances from their migrant workers in Russia. The drop in remittances could increase socioeconomic disaffection in parts of Central Asia that are dependent on labor migrants’ earnings. 

    Emil Aslan Souleimanov “Caucasus Emirate Faces Further Decline after the Death of Its Leader” 04/29/2015 issue of the CACI Analyst

    On April 19, 2015, the Caucasus Emirate’s leader Aliaskhab Kebekov, nom de guerre Ali Abu Mukhammad, was killed in a special operation carried out by Russian elite forces in Dagestan’s Buynaksk district. His death came at a time of profound decline of the North Caucasian jihadists, coupled with the ongoing split in their ranks as an increasing number of fighters and insurgent leaders turn to the Islamic State (IS). Upcoming months will show whether the North Caucasus insurgency, and particularly its Dagestani branch, will become dominated by IS sympathizers and ink up with the global jihad, or remain a largely local endeavor.

    Emil Souleimanov “Dagestan’s Insurgents Split over Loyalties to Caucasus Emirate and IS” 04/15/2015 issue of the CACI Analyst

    Recent months have been hectic for Dagestani jihadists. Since mid-2014, this hotbed of the North Caucasian insurgency has witnessed a gradual split, with numerous Dagestan-based jihadist commanders pledging oath (bayat) to the leader of the Islamic State, Abu-Bakr al-Baghdadi. In response, the Caucasus Emirate’s formal leader, Aliaskhab Kebekov, himself a Dagestani, criticized the disloyal commanders for splitting the ranks of the local insurgency. In mid-February, the newly appointed amir of the Dagestani Vilayat, Kamil Saidov, joined Kebekov in his condemnation of those submitting to Baghdadi’s authority. Given the North Caucasian and Dagestani jamaats' weakening capacity, the ongoing developments in Dagestan could break the unity in this last bastion of the regional insurgency.

    Huseyn Aliyev “Conflict-related Violence Decreases in the North Caucasus as Fighters go to Syria” 04/01/2015 issue of the CACI Analyst

    The end of 2014 and early 2015 have witnessed a notable reduction in conflict-related violence across the North Caucasus. With the continuous departure of Islamist volunteers from that Russian region to the Middle East, in 2014 the number of casualties, among both militants and security forces, have decreased by more than half, compared to the previous year. While observers associate the current de-escalation of violence with the outflow of large numbers of North Caucasian youth to join Islamic State (IS) and with internal conflicts within the North Caucasus Islamist underground (Caucasus Emirate), reasons behind the recent decline of insurgency-related activities are likely to be more complex. 

    Emil Souleimanov “Dagestan’s Jihadists and Haram Targeting” 02/18/2015 issue of the CACI Analyst

    The recent attacks in Paris against the studio of satirical journal Charlie Hebdo, known for its caricatures of Muhammad, have sparked heated debates in Dagestan. While Dagestanis have primarily focused on evaluating the implications of this single case of lethal violence, their debates have unfolded against the background of increasingly frequent attacks carried out by members of local jihadi groups – jamaats – against targets deemed anti-Islamic according to Salafi dogma.

     

  • CAMCA Regional Forum 2017 held in Dushanbe
    Thursday, 07 September 2017 15:27

    1708CAMCA2

  • Mamuka Tsereteli speaks at Helsinki Commission Briefing
    Friday, 28 July 2017 06:53

    WASHINGTON—The Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the Helsinki Commission, today announced the following briefing:

    ENERGY (IN)SECURITY IN RUSSIA’S PERIPHERY

    July 13, 2017
    3:30 PM – 5:00 PM
    Dirksen Senate Office Building
    Room G11

    Under Vladimir Putin, Russia has used its neighbors’ dependence on its energy supplies as a source of geopolitical leverage and sought to keep their energy sectors underdeveloped and corrupt. Ukraine has recently managed to implement crucial reforms in its energy sector, but challenges remain. Meanwhile, initiatives for similar reforms in Moldova have stalled, while Georgia has successfully reformed its energy sector and developed new infrastructure. Why are these outcomes so different and what more can be done to achieve energy security in post-Soviet Eastern Europe?

    This briefing will provide a general overview of energy security in Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia, and examine challenges and opportunities in the energy sectors of these states. Briefers will discuss the role that corruption plays in preventing the implementation of effective reforms as well as strategies to curb Russian influence.

    The following experts are scheduled to participate:

     

    • Peter Doran, Executive Vice President and Interim Director, Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA)
    • Edward Chow, Senior Fellow, Energy and National Security Program, Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS)
    • Andrian Prokip, Senior Associate, Kennan Institute; Energy Expert, Institute for Social and Economic Research
    • Lyndon Allin, Associate, Baker McKenzie
    • Mamuka Tsereteli, Senior Fellow, Central Asia-Caucasus Institute