By Rafis Abazov
June 28th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
Kazakh experts have recently begun to call water the “liquid gold of the 21st century,” as all states in the Central Asian region face greater demand for water concurrent with a significant decline in water supply. The Aral Sea – which became a symbol of environmental mismanagement and environmental catastrophe at the end of the 20th century – shows that sustainable development policies can help to deal with even the most difficult water issues. Conversely, however, mismanagement and border conflicts over water might worsen the situation, leading to further political and economic tensions. The current question is whether Kazakhstan can collaborate with other Central Asian states in saving and perhaps reviving the Aral Sea.
By Tony Pizur
June 14th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
After the ruble crashed in 2014, the Kyrgyz Central Bank (KCB) prevented Kyrgyzstan’s national currency, the som, from depreciating in tandem with the Russian currency. Given Kyrgyzstan’s ascension into the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) and the country’s heavy reliance on remittances from expatriates living in Russia, the KCB’s decision to maintain a relatively strong Kyrgyz currency seems counterintuitive. However, the stable som policy is predicated on long-term structural changes in trade patterns toward China. With the Chinese currency tied to the U.S. dollar, the decision to keep the som stable is based more on central bank policies in Washington and Beijing than in Moscow.
By Mirzokhid Rakhimov and Sung Dong Ki
June 10th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
South Korea’s Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn visited Uzbekistan on May 19-20, 2016. The visit was the fifteenth official high-level meeting between the two countries. Over the last year, several new actors have increased their engagement with Central Asia, aside from South Korea also including Japan and India. South Korea is an important partner to the Central Asian republics, and especially to Uzbekistan. In May 2015, Islam Karimov made Seoul the destination of his first foreign visit after his reelection as president. The visit underscored the priority given to South Korea in Uzbekistan’s foreign policy. South Korea is among the largest investors in Uzbekistan’s economy, and cooperation is growing in education, tourism, cultural exchanges, and security.
By John C.K. Daly
June 7th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
On May 21, a U.S. drone attack killed Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour and taxi driver Mohammad Azam near Nushki in Pakistan’s Baluchistan province. Mansour was returning from Taftan, Iran, where he had gone for medical treatment, to his residence near the provincial capital Quetta, a 370-mile journey. Mansour and his driver had completed roughly two-thirds of the nine-hour trip. A Pakistani passport and a Computer National Identity Card (CNIC) identifying Mansur as “Wali Muhammad” were found near the wreckage. Mansour’s death, coming nine months after his contested election as “Amir al-Mu'minin” by the Taliban’s Rahbari Shura, has added additional volatility to Afghanistan’s complex political landscape, effectively sidelining any possibility of renewing peace negotiations with the Afghan government as Mansour’s successor seeks to consolidate his position.
By Farkhod Tolipov
June 2nd, 2016, The CACI Analyst
A few weeks before the April 2-5 fighting over Nagorno-Karabakh between Azerbaijan and Armenia, a border crisis occurred between Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan on March 18-26. Some observers connected these two events as links in the same chain. Indeed, both cases revolve around so-called frozen conflicts in the post-Soviet space; where one of the conflicting sides is a CSTO member and the other is not; and where speculations proliferate of a hidden Russian hand in both the instigation and mediation of the clashes. The two conflicts can be seen as a by-product of the same process – the continuing divergence of the former single Soviet space.
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.