By Dmitry Shlapentokh
March 3, 2017, the CACI Analyst
Russia’s economic condition remains precarious, mostly due to low oil prices, whereas Western sanctions have created additional problems. There are so far few signs of public discontent and Putin’s approval ratings remain high. Yet the Russian leadership apparently does not exclude the possibility of mass protests similar to those erupting in early 2012, which could spread and create a problem for the regime. In response to this possible scenario, Putin announced the creation of a National Guard in April 2016, a process that should be completed in 2017. The National Guard incorporated Chechen forces loyal to Ramzan Kadyrov, which could be deployed by the regime as a last resort.
By Fuad Shahbazov
February 21, 2017, the CACI Analyst
China's gradually increasing economic role in Central Asia since the early 2000s is unsurprising considering the region's geographic proximity to China's dynamic economy. In this context, Beijing has carefully shaped a military strategy in the region, particularly in neighboring Tajikistan. In September 2016, Beijing offered to finance and build several outposts and other military facilities (in addition to the Gulhan post, which was opened in 2012) to beef up Tajikistan's defense capabilities along its border with Afghanistan, whereas China's and Tajikistan's militaries performed a large counter-terrorism exercise in October 2016. These unexpected actions have raised concerns in Russia over rising Chinese influence in Tajikistan.
By Mamuka Tsereteli
February 17, 2017, the CACI Analyst
The weakening strategic position of Turkey will have a profound impact on the Black Sea-Caspian region and wider Central Asia. An assertive Russia and diminishing U.S. and Western engagement further limits Turkey's ability to play a pro-active role in the region. For regional actors in the South Caucasus, part of the solution should be to create the best possible conditions for transiting Asian cargos via Central Asia, the Caspian Sea, the South Caucasus corridor and the Black Sea to Bulgaria and Romania. This is how countries of the South Caucasus can bring new balancing powers to the region.
By Avinoam Idan
February 6, 2017, the CACI Analyst
Israel’s Prime Minister Binjamin Netanyahu made a landmark visit to Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan in December 2016. The Israeli Prime Minister's visit reflects Israel’s growing interest in Central Asia and the Caucasus, a region that is part of Israel's greater strategic environment. Israel's interest in Kazakhstan focuses on its trade potential, its regional and international status, and its position as a vital link in the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative. Azerbaijan's geographical location, its role as a significant energy exporter, and its security approach have been foci of the close relations that have developed between Baku and Jerusalem over the years. The Prime Minister's visit reflects the continued deepening of ties with Azerbaijan.
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.