Wednesday, 09 March 2016 23:14

Spring 2016 Rumsfeld Fellowship

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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





  • ASIA Spotlight with Prof. S. Frederick Starr on Unveiling Central Asia's Hidden Legacy
    Thursday, 28 December 2023 00:00

    On December 19th, 2023, at 7:30 PM IST, ASIA Spotlight Session has invited the renowned Prof. S Fredrick Starr, who elaborated on his acclaimed book, "The Lost Enlightenment: Central Asia's Golden Age from the Arab Conquest to Tamerlane." Moderated by Prof. Amogh Rai, Research Director at ASIA, the discussion unveiled the fascinating, yet lesser-known narrative of Central Asia's medieval enlightenment.

    The book sheds light on the remarkable minds from the Persianate and Turkic peoples, spanning from Kazakhstan to Xinjiang, China. "Lost Enlightenment" narrates how, between 800 and 1200, Central Asia pioneered global trade, economic development, urban sophistication, artistic refinement, and, most importantly, knowledge advancement across various fields. Explore the captivating journey that built a bridge to the modern world.

    To know watch the full conversation: #centralasia #goldenage #arabconquest #tamerlane #medievalenlightment #turkish #economicdevelopment #globaltrade

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

  • Some Lessons for Putin from Ancient Rome
    Thursday, 04 January 2024 17:01
    By S. Frederick Starr 
    American Purpose
    January 4, 2024
    Vladimir Putin, having sidelined or destroyed all his domestic opponents, real or imagined, now surrounds himself with Romano-Byzantine pomp and grandeur. The theatrical civic festivals, processions of venerable prelates, cult of statues, embarrassing shows of piety, endless laying of wreaths, and choreographed entrances down halls lined with soldiers standing at attention—all trace directly back to czarism, to Byzantine Constantinople, and ultimately to imperial Rome. Indeed, Putin considers himself as Russia’s new “czar,” the Russified form of the Latin “Caesar.”
    But besides all the parallel heroics, Roman history offers profound lessons for today’s world. All of America’s Founders saw the Roman Republic as the best model for their own constitution. Napoleon, Mussolini, and Hitler, by contrast, found in imperial Rome a stunning model for their own grandeur. True, some of Rome’s ancient chroniclers, including the celebrated Livy, so admired specific politicians that they saw only their good sides and ignored the problems and failures. Yet there were others, notably the pessimistic Sallust, who not only wrote bluntly of history’s painful issues but delved deep into their causes and consequences.
    Is Putin likely to delve into the history of Rome for insights on his own situation? Unfortunately for Russia, Putin is not a reader, preferring instead to engage in exhibitionist athletic activities, preside at solemn ceremonies, or offer avuncular obiter dicta. However, if he would study the Roman past, he might come to realize that that model presents more than a few chilling prospects that he will ignore at his peril.
    To take but one example, a glance at Roman history would remind Putin that self-declared victories may not be as victorious as he and Kremlin publicists want to think. Back in the 3rd century B.C., when Rome was still a small state in central Italy, it was attacked by a certain King Pyrrhus, a rival ruler from Epirus, a region along today’s border between Greece and Albania. In his first battles Pyrrhus routed the Roman legions, and celebrated accordingly. But matters did not end there.
    Like Pyrrhus, Putin’s army scored some early victories in its war on Ukraine. As recently as December 1, Putin’s Minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu was still claiming, in spite of all evidence to the contrary, that Russian forces “were advancing on all fronts.” Pyrrhus made similar false claims, only to discover that his own soldiers were no match for the determined Romans. As the Romans drove Pyrrhus’ army from the field, he groused, “If we win one more such victory against the Romans we will be utterly ruined,” which is exactly what happened. Pyrrhus’ statement gave Romans the term “Pyrrhic victory,” which we still use today. Putin should apply it to his “victories” at Bakhmut and Avdiivka.
    Another crisis in Rome’s early formation as a nation occurred when a peasant uprising threatened Rome itself and, according to the historian Livy, caused panic in the Roman capital. In desperation, the elders turned to Lucius Cincinnatus, who was neither a military man nor a professional politician, but who had earned respect as an effective leader. It took Cincinnatus only fifteen days to turn the tide, after which he returned to his farm. George Washington rightly admired Cincinnatus and consciously emulated him, returning after the Battle of Yorktown to Mount Vernon. By contrast, Putin’s “special military operation,” planned as a three-day romp, is now approaching the end of its second year. Putin, no Cincinnatus, doomed himself to being a lifer.
    Roman history is a millennium-long showcase of motivation or its absence. In this context, Putin might gain further insights by examining Rome’s centuries-long battle against the diverse tribes pressing the empire from the north. For centuries Rome’s legionnaires were well trained, disciplined, and committed. The list of their early victories is long. Both Julius Caesar and the philosopher-emperor-general Marcus Aurelius succeeded because they motivated and inspired their troops. But over time the Roman army was increasingly comprised of hirelings, déclassé men who fought not to save the empire but for money or a small piece of the bounty. Inflation and rising costs outpaced pay increases. Punishment was severe, in some cases including even crucifixion. In the end, Rome’s army eroded from within.
    This is what is happening to the Russian army today. Putin attacked Ukraine in February 2022 with what was then an army of several hundred thousand trained professional soldiers. But after the Ukrainians killed more than 320,000 Russian troops, their replacements were unwilling and surly conscripts and even criminals dragooned from Russia’s jails. Putin quite understandably fears such soldiers. Putin’s army, like that of the late Roman Empire, is collapsing from within.
    By contrast, Ukraine’s army at the time of the invasion was small and comprised mainly Soviet-trained holdovers. Both officers and troops of the line had to be quickly recruited from civilian professions and trained. Yet they quickly proved themselves to be disciplined and resourceful patriots, not tired time-servers. True, Ukraine is now conscripting troops, but these newcomers share their predecessors’ commitment to the nation and to their future lives in a free country.
    Sheer spite and a passion for avenging past failures figured prominently in Putin’s decisions to invade both Georgia and Ukraine. Roman history suggests that this isn’t smart. Back in 220 B.C., Rome defeated its great enemy, the North African state of Carthage. Anticipating Putin, the Carthaginian general Hannibal sought revenge. Acting out of spite, he assembled 700,000 foot soldiers, 78,000 mounted calvary, and a force of war elephants, and crossed the Alps. Though he was a brilliant general, Hannibal’s war of spite turned into a disaster.
    Why did Hannibal lose? Partly because of his sheer hubris and the spite that fed it, and also because the Romans avoided frontal battles and simply ground him down. They were prudently led by a general named Fabius Maximus, whom later Romans fondly remembered as “the Delayer.” Today it is the Ukrainians who are the Delayers. By grinding down Putin’s army and destroying its logistics they have positioned themselves for victory.
    The Roman Republic fell not because of any mass uprising but because of the machinations of Julius Caesar. A victorious general, Caesar looked the hero as he was installed as imperator. As was customary at such ceremonies, an official retainer placed behind the inductee solemnly repeated over and over the admonition to “Look behind you!” Caesar failed to do so and underestimated the opposition of a handful of officials and generals who feared the rise of a dictator perpetuus. Even if Putin chooses not to read Cicero, Plutarch, or Cassius Dio, he could productively spend an evening watching a Moscow production of Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of Julius Caesar.
    Turning to a very different issue, Putin seems blithely to assume that whenever Russia defeats a neighboring country it can easily win the hearts and minds of the conquered, whether by persuasion or force. This is what many Roman generals and governors thought as well, but they were wrong—fatally so. Speaking of the impact of corrupt officials sent by Rome to the provinces, the great orator-politician Cicero declared to the Roman Senate, “You cannot imagine how deeply they hate us.” Does Putin understand this?
    Finally, it is no secret that Russia today, like ancient Rome, is increasingly a land of immigrants; its economy depends on impoverished newcomers from Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and elsewhere in Central Asia who fled to Russia in search of work. Yet Moscow treats them as third-class citizens and dragoons them as cannon fodder or “meat” to die by the thousands on the Ukrainian front. Rome faced a similar problem and wrestled with it unsuccessfully over several centuries. Over time the despised immigrants who poured across the Alps from Gaul demanded a voice in Roman affairs, and eventually took control of the western Roman Empire.
    Sad to say, neither Putin himself nor any others of Russia’s core group of leaders show the slightest interest in learning from relevant examples from Roman history or, for that matter, from any other useable past. Together they provide living proof of American philosopher George Santayana’s adage that, “Those who forget history are condemned to repeat it.” In Putin’s case, though, he seems never to have known it. 

    ABOUT THE AUTHORSS. Frederick Starr, is a distinguished fellow specializing in Central Asia and the Caucasus at the American Foreign Policy Council and founding chairman of the Central Asia Caucasus Institute.

    Additional Info
    • Author S. Frederick Starr
    • Publication Type Analysis
    • Published in/by American Purpose
    • Publishing date January 4, 2024
  • 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...