Friday, 17 October 2014 13:16

Fall 2014 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. Omer Uloomi (Afghanistan), 36, is the Vice President of the Afghanistan Branch of Hanjin Intermodal America, Inc., a prime contractor for the U.S. Army’s Surface Deployment and Distribution Command (SDDC), Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) and the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA).  These agencies rely on Hanjin to provide line haul and freight services in Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Prior to joining Hanjin Intermodal America, Inc. in 2009, Mr. Uloomi served as the Chief of Logistics with the UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS) in Kabul, where he oversaw logistics and supply chain support for the implementation, rehabilitation and construction of the Afghanistan Secondary Roads, Bridges, Schools and Medical Facilities. From 2003 to 2005, Mr. Uloomi worked as the UNOPS Regional Logistics Manager in Southern Afghanistan directly supporting the first-ever democratic parliamentary and presidential elections in Afghanistan.  For these outstanding efforts and his service, Mr. Uloomi received a prestigious Joint Electoral Management Body (JEMB) Award from the U.N. During the Taliban rule, Mr. Uloomi served with Médecins Sans Frontières, Holland (MSF-H) working on numerous medical service projects in southern Afghanistan. Mr. Uloomi holds a B.A. from the Economic School of Kabul University (2004) and a M.B.A. in Project Management from Preston University in Islamabad, Pakistan (2009). Research project: "The Challenges of Central Asia and the Silk Road Initiatives."

Mr. Wahidullah Waissi (Afghanistan), 38, is the Director-General for Economic Cooperation at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan.  Prior to joining MFA, from 1998 to 2011, he held different positions in national and international NGOs, UNDP, the Afghanistan Aid Coordination Authority, the Ministry of Finance, and the Office of the Senior Economic Adviser to the President. Mr. Waissi has served in different positions, including Director and Formulation Manager for Afghanistan National Development Strategy and Afghanistan Millennium Development Goals; and Senior Policy Advisor to the Ministers of Finance and Foreign Affairs. He has been involved in organizing and coordinating 22 international conferences for Afghanistan in Kabul, Berlin, Paris, Tokyo, Rome, London, Bonn, Delhi, Dushanbe, and other places. At the Foreign Ministry, Mr. Waissi chairs the Economic Diplomacy Committee; coordinates the Regional Economic Cooperation Conference for Afghanistan (RECCA); serves as a National Focal Point for Trade, Commerce and Investment, as well as the Regional Infrastructure Confidence Building Measures in the Heart of Asia process; and is a board member for numerous projects, like TAPI, CASA-1000, Railroads, Mining and Investment. Mr. Waissi is a member of Afghanistan Policy Group, focusing on regional peace and stability with other policy groups from ten member countries. He is also a member of Afghanistan 21 Young Leaders Initiative and a Co-founder and Chair of the Green Club, a voluntary association on environmental issues that promotes awareness and advocates for sustainable development. Mr. Waissi teaches economic development at the University of Afghanistan in Kabul. He holds a M.A. in Development Economics from Williams College in Massachusetts (2005). Research project: "At the Crossroads of Eurasia: The Silk Road through Afghanistan."

Mr. Ara Hovsepyan (Armenia), 40, is the Senior Country Representative of Contour Global LLP in Armenia, an American energy company that invests and runs energy producing plants in different parts of the world. He currently leads Contour Global’s negotiations with the Government of Armenia to acquire Vorotan HPP, the biggest hydropower plant in Armenia. If the deal goes through this will be the largest American investment in Armenia to date. Mr. Hovsepyan’s prior professional experience is both national and international. He started his career in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1995 as a junior diplomat in the Department of International Organizations, responsible for the U.N. and UNESCO affairs. From 2000 to 2006, Mr. Hovsepyan was Head of the Armenia Office in the U.K. Department for International Development (DFID), where he oversaw an annual development projects portfolio of about USD 10 million. From 2006 to 2011, Mr. Hovsepyan served as CEO of the Millennium Challenge Account in Armenia, the U.S. Millennium Challenge Corporation’s USD 250 million development program. In 2011, Mr. Hovsepyan moved to lead the North-South Road Corridor Investment project – a USD 1.5 billion program funded by development banks and the Government of Armenia. Mr. Hovsepyan holds a B.A. from Yerevan State University of Foreign Languages (1995), a M.A. in Political Science and International Relations from the American University of Armenia (1997), and a Post-graduate diploma in International Relations and Diplomacy from Exeter College, Oxford University, UK, as a Chevening Fellow (1999). Research project: "The U.S. perspective on Global Energy Security and Alternative Resources."

Ms. Eka Grigalava (Georgia), 35, is currently an independent consultant with vast experience in both the NGO and private sectors. In her previous job, from 2009 to 2014, she worked as Stakeholder Manager and then as Consultant Stakeholder Advisor for the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) in Zug, Switzerland, where she was responsible for managing the project’s stakeholder relations in three host countries – Greece, Albania and Italy. She has extensive experience in corporate social responsibility, social compliance, project management and stakeholder relations. From 2005 to 2008, Ms. Grigalava worked as NGO and Community Affairs Coordinator at BP Georgia, managing some of the company’s key CSR projects as well as coordinating the production of the main annual publication – BP Georgia Sustainability Report. Prior to moving to the private sector, from 2002 to 2005, Ms. Grigalava was coordinating civic and gender programs at the Tbilisi office of the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI). Ms. Grigalava holds a B.A. in Public Administration from Georgian Technical University (2000) and a M.A. in Public Administration from Georgian Institute of Public Affairs (GIPA, 2001). Research Project: "Beyond Fuels – How Can Countries Better Benefit from Transnational Pipelines."

Dr. Anuar Ayazbekov (Kazakhstan), 32, is the First Secretary at the Department of Foreign Policy Analysis and Forecasting of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan. In this position he is responsible for research and analysis of the foreign policy of Kazakhstan with focus on integration processes and challenges in Central Asia. Prior to joining MFA, Dr. Ayazbekov worked as a researcher at the Analytical Department of the Administration of the President of Kazakhstan in Astana, a researcher in the Kazakhstan Institute for Strategic Studies in Almaty, as well as visiting research fellow at the Japan Institute for International Affairs. Dr. Ayazbekov’s professional and academic interests include Central Asian regional affairs and the diplomatic history of Kazakhstan in the 1990s. Dr. Ayazbekov holds a B.A. in International Relations from KIMEP University in Almaty, Kazakhstan (2003), a M.A. in International Diplomacy from Bond University, Gold Coast, Australia (2004), and Ph.D. in International Relations from the University of St. Andrews, UK (2013). Research project: "Bridging Academia and Policymaking in Kazakhstan."

Ms. Madina Tulesbayeva (Kazakhstan), 36, is a Financial Analyst at ExxonMobil Kazakhstan Inc. where she is responsible for the preparation of financial reports to North Caspian Operating Company, as well as financial operating reporting to the company management. Before taking her current position, she worked on other projects at ExxonMobil Kazakhstan such as Caspian Pipeline Consortium and Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli in the Caspian. Ms. Tulesbayeva has more than 10 years of working experience in the financial sector and, prior to joining ExxonMobil Kazakhstan, worked from 2003-2005 for the National Innovation Fund JSC and from 1999-2003 for the Bank CenterCredit, JSC. Ms. Tulesbayeva holds a B.A. in International Economic Relations from the Kazakh State Academy of Management in Almaty (1999), and a MBA with a specialization in Finance from the Rochester Institute of Technology (2007). Research project: "North Caspian Sea Production Sharing Agreement: Government’s policy and Corporate Governance."

Mr. Talant Sultanov (Kyrgyzstan), 36, is the Director of the National Institute for Strategic Studies of the Kyrgyz Republic, a government think tank, which provides the offices of the President and the Prime Minister with analytical support on economic, political and social issues. Mr. Sultanov is also the Vice President for Finance of the American University of Central Asia (AUCA), where he manages administrative, financial and security matters, as well as issues related to the new campus and dormitory construction projects. Mr. Sultanov is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Microcredit Organization “Humo” in Tajikistan (a volunteer position). Prior to his current positions, Mr. Sultanov worked in Project Finance at Kazkommertsbank in Almaty from 2006 to 2010, then at the World Bank Head Office in Washington, D.C., and in the Central Asia Regional Office in Almaty from 2003 to 2006. Mr. Sultanov holds a B.A. in International Relations from San Francisco State University (1999, Summa Cum Laude), where he graduated as the Top Student in the Program, and a M.A. in International Finance from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA, 2006). Research project: "Kyrgyzstan at the Silk Cross-Roads - Future of the U.S.-Kyrgyz Relations."

Mr. Saintulga Munkhgerel (Mongolia), 29, is the CEO of Khotgor Minerals LLC, a company that is working to develop one of the largest rare earth element deposits in Mongolia. Prior to joining Khotgor Minerals in 2012, Mr. Munkhgerel worked with Rio Tinto Group on its Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold mine development project in Mongolia where he negotiated with the Mongolian government to obtain a license to build the largest power plant in the country. Mr. Munkhgerel also served as a member of two government appointed working groups that negotiated power import terms with a Chinese state owned enterprise and commercial terms for the sale of copper concentrates to the Chinese enterprises. In 2009, while working as a relationship manager at Golomt Bank, Mr. Munkhgerel helped to structure a deal between Standard Bank, the Mongolian Ministry of Finance, and other Mongolian commercial banks for the funding of gold mining projects worth USD 90 million. Mr. Munkhgerel is also a core organizer for NextGen Mongolia, a community organization for leadership development of young professionals. He holds a B.A. in Economics from the University of the North Carolina at Chapel Hill (2008). Research project: "Policy Development for Imported Raw Materials Critical to U.S. Manufacturing."

Ms. Gunesh Bakgalova (Turkmenistan), 35, is a Senior Legal Counsel and Regulatory Compliance Manager at Schlumberger Corporation in Turkmenistan where she deals with legal and regulatory compliance issues; mitigation, litigation and arbitration; drafting and negotiating contracts for clients and suppliers; as well as represents the company in external affairs. She is also a Country Director for Turkmenistan at INOGATE, the European Commission’s energy program. Prior to her current position, Ms. Bakgalova worked for numerous national agencies, law firms and international organizations including the Ministry of Trade and Foreign Economic Relations, the Ministry of Justice, the National Coordinating Unit of the Cabinet of Ministers of Turkmenistan, ABA Rule of Law Initiative in Turkmenistan, OSCE Center in Ashgabat, AK Counsel-SNR Denton, PPG Industries Inc., and Miller & Martin PLLC. In 2012,             Ms. Bakgalova was honored by the Government of Turkmenistan and the European Commission as one of the top practicing lawyers to develop the first-ever trilingual interpretive legal dictionary in Turkmenistan. Ms. Bakgalova holds a LL.B. from the School of Law & International Economic Relations of the Turkmen State University (1999, Summa Cum Laude), a LL.M. from the Law School at the University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (2009), and a M.A. in Political Science from the Institute for European Politics in Berlin, Germany (2012). Research project: "Combating Money Laundering and Corruption in Turkmenistan."

Mr. Mirzo Ibragimov (Uzbekistan), 32, is the Deputy Head of the Political and Public Diplomacy Section at the British Embassy in Uzbekistan. His role requires him to manage and coordinate the Embassy’s project, media and public diplomacy activities. He also contributes to analysis of main political and economic developments in Uzbekistan and in the region. From 2008 to 2012, Mr. Ibragimov held the post of Program Officer for Armed, Police and Security Forces at the International Committee of the Red Cross Delegation for Central Asia, where he implemented activities designed to build capacity of the Ministries of Defense and Internal Affairs in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan in the fields of Law of Armed Conflict and international human rights standards regulating the use of force in law enforcement operations. Prior to joining the ICRC, Mr. Ibragimov interned in the European Anti-Fraud Office in Brussels and the International Criminal Court in the Hague, where he practiced his knowledge in European and International Law, and judicial and law enforcement co-operation in criminal matters. In 2006, in the Office of the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities, Mr. Ibragimov conducted research on political and legal issues relating to the protection of the national minorities of Central Asia. Mr. Ibragimov holds a LL.B. in International Law from the University of World Economy and Diplomacy in Tashkent (2005), and a M.A. in Political Science from the OSCE Academy in Bishkek. Research project: "The Russia-Ukraine Crisis and Its’ Implications for Central Asia: Challenges and Opportunities."





  • 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