By Fariz Ismailzade
March 11th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
After a decade of transformational economic growth, reduced oil prices forced Azerbaijan to a double devaluation of its national currency, significant reduction of public spending, slowdown of GDP, and most importantly, panic in the domestic market among both the general population and the business community. The government responded with several anti-crisis programs and measures, aimed at stimulating national economy, supporting local production and easing the business climate for the local entrepreneurs. President Ilham Aliyev has called 2016 “a year of deep economic reforms.” It remains to be seen whether the country will be able to shift gears and transform its economy to achieve sustainable growth from non-oil sectors.
By Stephen Blank
March 15th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
For years, Moscow has fulminated against the Taliban as a terrorist force that represented a threat not only to Afghanistan’s security but also to Central Asia and even to Russia itself. Yet news surfaced in December that Russia is sharing intelligence with the Taliban and apparently has been in discussions with it since 2013. According to U.S. intelligence sources, these discussions have also been accompanied by weapons transfers. Thus, while Russia is constantly, along with Central Asian leaders, playing up the ISIS threat and selling weapons to the Afghan government, it also shares intelligence and possibly sells weapons to its Taliban adversaries. These contradictions expose some of the problems in Russia’s regional policies in Central Asia and in its approach to terrorism.
By Richard Weitz
March 18th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
The states of Central Asia and the South Caucasus are in for a rough ride if recent Russian national security documents and speeches genuinely represent the Kremlin’s worldview. Not only do these texts veto their membership in NATO, but they exclude mutually profitable partnerships for these countries with the European Union and other Western institutions, constrain their domestic development, and encourage the suppression of civil liberties by warning of fictitious Western plots to change their regimes under the guise of democracy promotion and human rights.
By Arslan Sabyrbekov
February 17th, the CACI Analyst
On January 22, Kyrgyzstan’s President Almazbek Atambayev signed a law denunciating the agreement with Russia on the construction and operation of the Kambarata-1 hydropower plant (HPP) and the Upper Naryn HPPs cascade. The expected decision officially put an end to Kyrgyzstan’s prospects of attaining energy independence in the foreseeable future.
By Edward Lemon
February 29th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
Having outlawed the country’s leading opposition movement, the Islamic Renaissance Party, in 2015, President Rahmon is seeking to further cement his position. On December 9, the Tajik parliament unanimously passed a new law naming him “leader of the nation” and “originator of peace and national reconciliation.” This effectively lifts him above the law, guaranteeing impunity for him and his family. On January 13, parliament backed amendments to the constitution, lowering the age limit for presidential candidates to 30. This would allow Rahmon’s eldest son, 28-year-old Rustam, to run in the next election scheduled for 2020. Further amendments to the constitution, which will fully legalize Rahmon’s new position and pave the way for him to rule indefinitely, will be put to a referendum in the coming months.
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.