Saturday, 01 January 2011 00:00

CACI Spring 2011 Fellows

The program continues to generate a significant interest in the region and we have received a significant number of highly qualified applications. Upon concluding a multiphase selection process CACI and the Rumsfeld Foundation are pleased to announce winners for the spring 2011 session.


Dr. Mohammad Omar Sharifi (Afghanistan), 32, is the director of the American Institute of Afghanistan Studies, Kabul Office. He is also a member of the advisory board of the Civil Society Development Center (CSDC). A native of Kabul, he was born in 1978 and graduated from Nadira High School in 1995, and the Kabul Medical Institute in 2003. Following his medical studies, he worked as the head of research and publications for the Foundation for Culture and Civil Society in Kabul, and director of Open Media Fund for Afghanistan. From 2006 to 2008, he studied Cultural Anthropology at Columbia University in New York under a Fulbright Fellowship. Mr. Omar Sharifi has written several essays and papers on politics and social issues in Afghanistan, and his articles are published in national and international journals. Research project – "Building Legitimacy: Meeting the Gap between Center and Periphery."

1003QeyamatMr. Sulaiman Qeyamat (Afghanistan), 29, is a Fellow at the Afghanistan’s Center for Research and Policy Studies. His areas of interest include governance, public policy, and democratic transformation. Mr. Qeyamat has worked with different international organizations including the Friedrich-Ebert-Foundation and the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs since 2006. While working with these organizations, his work mainly focused on youth empowerment, civil society capacity building, gender, democratic representation and political parties. He served as Project Coordinator for the Afghan Young Leaders Forum (YLF) from 2006-2008, empowering potential Afghan youth to take local initiatives and raise democratic awareness among youth groups across Afghanistan. Mr. Qeyamat has been an elected volunteer member of the Young Leaders Forum since late 2004. He led a delegation of Afghan Young Leaders to an outgoing visit titled Young Leaders Enhancing Capacities in Political Participation to Europe in May and June of 2008. He also represented Afghan youth at the International Youth Dialogue on Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) Conference in Berlin, Germany in October 2005.  Mr. Qeyamat holds a Masters Degree in Medical Sciences from Kabul Medical University (2005).  Recently he was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to study for his Masters Degree in Public Policy (MPP) in the US later on in this year.  Research project – “Democracy on the Grassroots: Embedding Democracy in Afghan Communities, Drawing Lessons from US Expertise.”

1003RzayevaMs. Gulmira Rzayeva (Azerbaijan), 28, is a research fellow at the Center for Strategic Studies (CSS) under the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan. Her area of expertise lays in energy security issues such as energy policy of Azerbaijan, and Black Sea/Caspian region energy security. Prior to CSS she worked for the international organization SCI-Hellas (Service Civil International) as a placement officer in Athens, Greece. Last fall within the “Exchange Visiting Scholars Program” existing between CSS and the Moscow Carnegie Center Ms. Rzayeva worked at the Moscow Carnegie Center as a visiting research fellow.  Over the years she has participated in a number of international conferences on energy security issues organized by leading think tanks in Azerbaijan and abroad, and has also written several publications.  Ms. Rzayeva holds a BA in international relations from the Baku Slavic University (2003), and a MA in Global Affairs from the University of Buckingham, UK (2008).  She is fluent in Azerbaijani, English, Russian, and Turkish with a working knowledge of Greek. Research Project – “US Perspectives on the South Caucasus Energy Policy.”

1003YeraliMr. Asset Yerali (Kazakhstan), 30, is a Project Director at KUN Renewables JSC where he manages an innovative and strategic project on the construction of an integrated poly-silicon plant (solar industry) in Kazakhstan.  This is a priority project for the country and has been included in the Kazakhstan National 30 Corporate Leaders program, which is being implemented within the framework of the President’s Industrial and Innovation Development Strategy by 2015.  Prior to his current position, Mr. Yerali worked for private sector initiatives in order to develop new investment projects in Kazakhstan.  Mr. Yerali was member of the team working on the Kazakhstan Competitiveness Program implemented by the Center for Marketing and Analytical Research under the Ministry of Economy and Budget Planning of Kazakhstan in cooperation with JE Austin Associates and Economic Competitiveness Group.  Mr. Yerali holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in International Relations from the Middle East Technical University, Turkey (2004). Research project – “Prospects for Renewable Energy exports from Kazakhstan as part of its move away from oil-dependency.”

1003AsanovMr. Baktybek Asanov (Kyrgyzstan), 33, is a Managing Director of Closed Joint Stock Company “Textonic” which is exploring oil and gas under the Australian companies, “Santos” and “Caspian Oil and Gas, Ltd”. At the same time, Mr. Asanov is an advisor to the Secretary of the Investment Council under the President of the Kyrgyz Republic where his responsibility is assisting the Secretary in improving policy dialog between the government and business, and encouraging institutional reforms to support the investment. He is also a member of several business promotion organizations (International Business Council, Bishkek Business Club). Prior to his current positions Mr. Asanov served as a Commercial Attaché at the Embassy of the Kyrgyz Republic in Japan where he was in charge of improving the economical relations between the Kyrgyz Republic and Japan. He also has experience in working in the Japanese metal trading company Advanced Material of Japan (AMJ Co. Ltd.). Mr. Asanov holds a BA in Oriental Studies and International Relations from Bishkek Humanities University (1999), and a MA in Social Science (International Economics) from the Iwate University (Japan, 2003). He is fluent in Japanese, English, Russian and Kyrgyz.  Research project – “The Dialog between Government and Business Community.”

1003BabaevDr. Mukhammadi Babaev (Tajikistan), 29, is a professional banker, manager, and researcher with vast professional experience in areas of macroeconomic and trade liberalization policy, international financing, etc. He currently serves as a Deputy Director of the International Financial Relations Department at OSJC “Agroinvestbank”, is the Chairman of the Board of the Tajik Branch of the Open Society Institute-Assistance Foundation, and a Senior Lecturer at International Economic Relations Department of Tajik National University. Dr. Babaev holds a BA in Finance and Credit (2001), and a MA in International Economic Relations (2003) from the Tajik National University as well as a Law degree (2003) from the Russian Slavic Tajik University.  In addition, he has a Master of Science Degree in Development Economics from the University of Manchester (2004) and a Degree of Candidate of Economic Sciences (VAK of the Russian Federation – 2007). Dr. Babaev has attended various professional training courses on strategic management, corporate governance in the banking sector, art of trade negotiations, remittances and its measuring methodology. He has conducted researches on macroeconomic forecasting, growth and development perspectives of Tajikistan, the business environment in Tajikistan, and cooperation of Tajikistan with EVRAZES. He is also an author of numerous publications including the Asian Development Bank (ADB) Country Report on Tajikistan on Remittances and Financial Sector, a textbook, and several articles. Research project – “Formation of Market Institutes in an Open Economy: The Case of Tajikistan.”






  • CACI Chairman S. Frederick Starr comments on "Preparing Now for a Post-Putin Russia"
    Friday, 03 November 2023 18:30

    Whether Russian President Vladimir Putin dies in office, is ousted in a palace coup, or relinquishes power for some unforeseen reason, the United States and its allies would face a radically different Russia with the Kremlin under new management. The geopolitical stakes mean that policymakers would be negligent not to plan for the consequences of a post-Putin Russia. On November 2, 2023, CACI Chairman S. Frederick Starr joined a panel organized by the Hudson Institute’s Center on Europe and Eurasia for a discussion on how US and allied policymakers can prepare for a Russia after Putin.

    Click here to watch on YouTube or scroll down to watch the full panel discussion.

  • Central Asia Diplomats Call for Closer Ties With US
    Monday, 26 June 2023 00:00

    REPRINTED with permission from Voice of America News
    By Navbahor Imamova

    WASHINGTON -- U.S.-based diplomats from Central Asia, a region long dominated by Russia and more recently China, say they are eager for more engagement with the United States.

    Many American foreign policy experts agree that a more robust relationship would be mutually beneficial, though U.S.-based nongovernmental organizations express deep concerns about human rights and authoritarian rule in the five countries: Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.

    Michael Delaney, a former U.S. trade official, argued in favor of greater engagement this week at a webinar organized by the American-Uzbekistan Chamber of Commerce.

    He noted that three of the five republics are World Trade Organization members and the other two are in the accession process — a goal actively encouraged by the U.S. government.

    "I've always believed that this is a geographically disadvantaged area. There are relatively small national economies," he said. But, he said, collectively the region represents a potentially more connected market, about 80 million people.

    Key issues

    In this virtual gathering, all five Central Asian ambassadors to Washington expressed eagerness to work on issues the U.S. has long pushed for, such as water and energy sustainability, security cooperation, environmental protection and climate, and connectivity.

    Kazakhstan's Ambassador Yerzhan Ashikbayev said that despite all factors, the United States does not want to leave the field to China, its global competitor, which actively invests in the region.

    "Recent visit by 20 companies to Kazakhstan as a part of certified U.S. trade mission, including technology giants like Apple, Microsoft, Google, but also other partners like Boeing, have shown a growing interest," Ashikbayev said.

    The Kazakh diplomat described a "synergy" of economies and diplomatic efforts. All Central Asian states are committed to dialogue, trade and multilateralism, he said. "As we are witnessing the return of the divisive bloc mentalities almost unseen for 30 years, it's in our best interest to prevent Central Asia from turning into another battleground of global powers."

    During his first tour of Central Asia earlier this year, Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, meeting separately with the foreign ministers of all five countries.

    That was deeply appreciated, said Meret Orazov, Turkmenistan's longtime ambassador, who also praised the regular bilateral consultations the U.S. holds with these countries.

    Uzbek Ambassador Furqat Sidiqov sees the U.S. as an important partner, with "long-standing friendship and cooperation which have only grown stronger over the years."

    "The U.S. has played a significant role in promoting dialogue and cooperation among the Central Asian nations through initiatives such as the C5+1," he said, referring to a diplomatic platform comprising Washington and the region's five governments.

    "This is where we address common concerns and enhance integration," said Sidiqov. "We encourage the U.S. to bolster this mechanism."

    Tashkent regards Afghanistan as key to Central Asia's development, potentially linking the landlocked region to the markets and seaports of South Asia. Sidiqov said his country counts on American assistance.

    'Possibility of positive change'

    Fred Starr, chairman of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute in Washington, ardently advocates for the U.S. to adopt closer political, economic and people-to-people ties with the region.

    In a recent paper, he wrote that among dozens of officials, diplomats, entrepreneurs, experts, journalists and civil society leaders interviewed in Central Asia, "even those most critical of American positions saw the possibility of positive change and … all acknowledged that the need for change is on both sides, theirs as well as ours."

    This is the only region that doesn't have its own organization, said Starr, arguing that the U.S. could support this effort. "We have not done so, probably because we think that this is somehow going to interfere with their relations with their other big neighbors, the north and east, but it's not going to. It's not against anyone."

    "Easy to do, low cost, very big outcome," he added, also underscoring that "there is a feeling the U.S. should be much more attentive to security."

    "Japan, the European Union, Russia, China, their top leaders have visited. … No U.S. president has ever set foot in Central Asia," he said. He added that regional officials are left to wonder, "Are we so insignificant that they can't take the time to visit?"

    Starr urges U.S. President Joe Biden to convene the C5+1 in New York during the 78th session of the U.N. General Assembly in September. "This would not be a big drain on the president's time, but it would be symbolically extremely important," he said. "All of them want this to happen."

    Read at VOA News

  • Read CACI Chairman S. Frederick Starr's recent interview on the resurgence of Imperial Russia with The American Purpose
    Tuesday, 23 May 2023 00:00

    Why Russians Support the War: Jeffrey Gedmin interviews S. Frederick Starr on the resurgence of Imperial Russia.

    The American Purpose, May 23, 2023

    Jeffrey Gedmin: Do we have a Putin problem or a Russia problem today?

    S. Frederick Starr: We have a Putin problem because we have a Russia problem. Bluntly, the mass of Russians are passive and easily manipulated—down to the moment they aren’t. Two decades ago they made a deal with Vladimir Putin, as they have done with many of his predecessors: You give us a basic income, prospects for a better future, and a country we can take pride in, and we will give you a free hand. This is the same formula for autocracy that prevailed in Soviet times, and, before that, under the czars. The difference is that this time Russia’s leader—Putin—and his entourage have adopted a bizarre and dangerous ideology, “Eurasianism,” that empowers them to expand Russian power at will over the entire former territory of the USSR and even beyond. It is a grand and awful vision that puffs up ruler and ruled alike.

    What do most Russians think of this deal? It leaves them bereft of the normal rights of citizenship but free from its day-to-day responsibilities. So instead of debating, voting, and demonstrating, Russians store up their frustrations and then release them in elemental, often destructive, and usually futile acts of rebellion. This “Russia problem” leaves the prospect of change in Russia today in the hands of alienated members of Putin’s immediate entourage, many of whom share his vision of Russia’s destiny and are anyway subject to Putin’s ample levers for control. Thus, our “Putin problem” arises from our “Russia problem.”

    Click to continue reading...

  • CACI director Svante Cornell's interviewed on the 'John Batchelor Show' podcast regarding Turkey's 2023 presidential election
    Friday, 19 May 2023 00:00

    Listen to CACI director Svante Cornell's recent interview on the 'John Batchelor Show' podcast regarding Turkey's 2023 presidential election. Click here!

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