By Stephen Blank
December 14, 2020, the CACI Analyst
China has offered the Taliban investments in energy and infrastructure projects in return for the conclusion of a peace deal with the government in Kabul. In return for peace, China would commence building a major six-lane highway road network across Afghanistan. This road network would facilitate regional trade with Central Asia and permit direct land access from China to Iran. However, this network would also serve as a means for China to project direct force into Afghanistan, Central Asia, or Iran if needed.
By Niranjan Marjani
July 23, 2020, the CACI Analyst
The U.S.-Taliban deal has generated large amounts of analysis on stability and security in Afghanistan, the role of the Afghan government and Pakistan-Taliban relations. However, another important dimension of the deal is its impact on Iran-Pakistan relations. Pakistan’s relations with both Iran and the Afghan government are unstable, but Pakistan enjoys good relations with the Taliban. Iran has also sought to build contacts and relations with the Taliban. Thus, the recognition accorded to the Taliban in the deal could both improve Iran-Pakistan relations and give Iran an important role in Afghanistan. The increasing significance of the Taliban could worsen instability not only in Afghanistan but also across Central, West and South Asia while completely sidelining the Afghan government.
By Umair Jamal
July 21, 2020, the CACI Analyst
The growth of the terrorist organization known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in Afghanistan poses a formidable challenge to India and Pakistan’s security interests in the region. Recently, an ISIS-claimed attack on a Sikh Gurudwara in Afghanistan involved a suicide bomber from India. On April 4, Afghan security forces arrested a Pakistani national and a high-ranking ISIS commander in Afghanistan, who authorized the Gurudwara attack. Reports indicate that ISIS is rapidly gaining recruits from India and Pakistan for its Afghanistan and Central Asia operations. The emerging threat in this regard would require close counterterrorism cooperation between Islamabad and New Delhi if the group is to be successfully defeated in Afghanistan. However, given Pakistan and India’s competition and record of undermining each other’s interests in Afghanistan, ISIS is set to gain exponentially in the coming months.
By Farkhod Tolipov
July 16, 2020, the CACI Analyst
In May-June 2020, Central Asia experienced several border incidents between Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan; Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan; Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. These incidents revealed once again, on the one hand, the local population’s transboundary lifestyle and on the other, the artificial character of the borders that separate independent states from each other. Similar incidents have recurred in the region with a certain frequency since gaining independence; however, none of them escalated into larger and dangerous conflicts since resolutions came quickly and were based on unique integrative arrangements.
By Esmira Jafarova
July 14, 2020, the CACI Analyst
The first Azerbaijani gas via the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) reached Albania at the end of May 2020. This marked the first delivery of natural gas from Azerbaijan’s Shah-Deniz -II field in the Caspian Sea to Europe via the multimillion megaproject the Southern Gas Corridor (SGC). Despite the COVID-19 induced pandemics and global lockdowns, this is an important achievement testifying to the successful implementation of works in all four segments of the Southern Gas Corridor, including its final portion, TAP. The SGC is set to become fully operational in 2020 and it seems that Italy will also receive its earmarked portion of natural gas quite soon.
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.