By Roger N. McDermott
February 25th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
Moscow has stated that among its defense and security priorities for 2016, Central Asia and the South Caucasus will top its agenda. Kavkaz 2016, the main strategic military exercise of the year, will take place in the Southern Military District (MD), while Tsentr 2015 occurred in Central MD with among its vignettes a rehearsal of intervention in Central Asia. Surprisingly in this context, the Defense Ministry plans to restructure the 201st Base in Tajikistan from divisional to brigade status. This initiative is driven by Moscow’s growing concerns about the future of Central Asian security as it faces multiple potential threats stemming from Afghanistan and Islamic State (ISIS). But paradoxically, Moscow’s latest moves to strengthen the basing of its forces in Tajikistan serves as an indicator of official perceptions that the region could suffer a serious security challenge.
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.
By Umida Hashimova
February 10th, the CACI Analyst
Uzbekistan and Russia are working to develop a governmental agreement on organized job placements for potential labor migrants from Uzbekistan to Russia. Such agreements usually mean that future employees will have an agreed job, salary, place to live, insurance, and all permission papers for employment before they leave their home country. Some have interpreted this as a sign of warming relations between the two countries by which Russia is easing the conditions for about two million migrants from Uzbekistan in exchange for some sort of concessions by Uzbekistan’s government.
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 Emil Aslan Souleimanov
September 25th, 2015, The CACI Analyst
Russia’s recent military engagement in Syria and calls for the establishment of an international coalition against the terrorist group calling itself the Islamic State (ISIS) has produced renewed interest in Moscow’s policies toward the jihadist quasi-state. Against this background, while many have speculated about Moscow’s true intentions in the Middle East, relatively little attention has been paid to Moscow’s interests in Central Asia and the Caucasus in the context of its increasingly vocal rhetoric of fighting ISIS. Moscow is actively utilizing the risks and threats stemming from the ISIS to boost its clout in the near and far abroad.
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 Johns Hopkins University's Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, Washington DC., and the Institute for Security and Development Policy, Stockholm. For 15 years, the Analyst brings cutting edge analysis of the region geared toward a practitioner audience.