By Rohullah Osmani
January 21st, 2016, The CACI Analyst
The groundbreaking ceremony of the US$10 billion natural gas pipeline project linking Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India (TAPI) took place in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan on December 13, 2015, with the Afghan President, India’s Vice-President and Pakistani Prime Minister in attendance. The breakthrough on the long-delayed TAPI gas pipeline project came when the 22nd TAPI Steering Committee, consisting of representatives of the participating countries, as well as the Asian Development Bank (ADB) as the acting transactional advisor for the project, approved Turkmenistan’s state-owned Turkmengaz as the consortium leader to oversee efforts in constructing, financing and operating the 1,000 mile long natural gas pipeline.
By Richard Weitz
December 22nd, 2015, The CACI Analyst
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.
By S. Frederick Starr and Svante E. Cornell
December 10th, 2015, The CACI Analyst
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.
By Stephen Blank
October 22nd, 2015, The CACI Analyst
On October 13, 2015, the Taliban announced its withdrawal from the major Afghan city of Kunduz that it had captured earlier. A counterattack by the Afghan Army and the ISAF alliance’s air power reversed the Taliban’s earlier victory and forced them out of the city. Nevertheless, this battle cannot be considered a victory for the Afghan government or for ISAF, and its repercussions are wide-ranging. Almost immediately after the Taliban withdrawal, President Obama ended his long review of U.S. strategy and policy in Afghanistan by announcing that 5,500 U.S. forces would stay through 2017, i.e. into the next administration, to ensure the continuing stabilization of Afghanistan.
By Sudha Ramachandran
October 15th, 2015, The CACI Analyst
The fall of Kunduz to the Taliban has set alarm bells ringing not only in Afghanistan but also far beyond its borders. The capture of Kunduz, even if only temporary, has far reaching implications. It has dealt the Afghan government a heavy blow and is a huge setback for President Ashraf Ghani’s approach and strategy towards the Taliban. While it is expected to force the U.S. to revise its plans for troop withdrawal, Russia, China and Central Asian governments are watching the Taliban’s northward expansion nervously.
The Central Asia-Caucasus Analyst is a biweekly publication of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Program, a Joint Transatlantic Research and Policy Center affiliated with the American Foreign Policy Council, Washington DC., and the Institute for Security and Development Policy, Stockholm. For 15 years, the Analyst has brought cutting edge analysis of the region geared toward a practitioner audience.