By Emil Avdaliani
November 24, 2020, the CACI Analyst
In recent years, China has made significant economic inroads into Central Asia. A recently opened new transportation route linking Xinjiang to Uzbekistan could have large geopolitical repercussions. Although many questions remain as to how effective the corridor will be, particularly as the Kyrgyz section of the railway is still not completed, its likely continuation is via the Caspian towards the Black Sea ports. The route, a part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), indicates the project’s success in Central Asia, which will be stoking apprehensions in Moscow.
By Johan Engvall
October 8, 2020, the CACI Analyst
Kyrgyzstan is again in turmoil following the country’s parliamentary elections on October 4. The day after the election, thousands of demonstrators gathered in central Bishkek to protest the outcome of what opposition leaders described as the dirtiest in the country’s history, ending in a violent showdown between riot police and demonstrators. The fighting went on long into the night, until the protesters overrun the police and seized the presidential palace and the parliament. State power collapsed in the blink of an eye. Now begins the hard part of bringing back law and order and finding a viable path forward. The outcome is genuinely uncertain. There are no boundaries for what kind of interests that can lay claim on political authority. Old and new politicians, criminal groups and political activists all try to fill the power vacuum.
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 Bakhrom Radjabov
June 4, 2020, the CACI Analyst
Since January, COVID-19 (coronavirus) has reached the level of a global pandemic. At first, some Central Asian republics seemed to be virus-free islands with zero confirmed infection cases. Afghanistan confirmed its first COVID-19 case on February 24, followed by a closure of the borders with other Central Asian republics. Kazakhstan discovered its first cases of COVID-19 on March 13, and Uzbekistan on March 15. Kyrgyzstan confirmed its first case on March 18 whereas Tajikistan did not report any cases until April 30. Before this date, the country allowed mass gatherings, including the celebration of Navruz, which was cancelled by other Central Asian governments. Turkmen authorities have so far not officially reported any cases of COVID-19 in the country.
By Nurlan Aliyev
May 27, 2020, the CACI Analyst
In early February, U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo visited Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. He was received by the two heads of states in Nursultan and in Tashkent, Pompeo attended a C5+1 Ministerial with the foreign ministers of the five Central Asian republics to stress “U.S. support for a better connected, more prosperous, and more secure Central Asia” (State.gov). These thoughts are reflected in the new U.S. Central Asia Strategy. (State.gov). The renewed U.S. interest in Central Asia comes against the backdrop of China’s growing economic involvement in the region and Russia’s strong political and security relations with the Central Asian republics. Despite the Trump administration’s declarations of commitment to enhancing relations with the regional states, the perspectives of the U.S. in Central Asia should be examined.
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.