By Natalia Konarzewska
March 22, 2019, the CACI Analyst
In February 2019, Kazakhstan saw a wave of protests triggered by various social and economic grievances. Rallies burst through the country in multiple locations, indicating that popular distress is strong and unlikely to fade soon. In an attempt to placate social discontent, President Nursultan Nazarbayev fired the government, citing its inability to improve living standards and announced his own plan to provide social relief for the families. Kazakhstan’s hydrocarbon-dependent economy is struggling to recover after the 2014 plunge in oil prices and the spillover effects of Western sanctions against its largest trade partner Russia. On March 19, president Nazarbayev announced his immediate resignation after ruling Kazakhstan for thirty years.
By Armen Grigoryan
March 20, 2019, the CACI Analyst
After winning an overwhelming majority at the snap parliamentary elections in December, Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has formed a new cabinet and presented its program. While Pashinyan enjoys a high level of public approval, probably the most serious challenge awaiting his cabinet in the coming months is withstanding the massive campaign by the former regime’s proxies to undermine the government’s credibility in order to avoid the prosecution of some top-level former officials and to prepare the ground for their possible return to power. Speculations about the possibility of unilateral concessions on the Nagorno-Karabakh issue have been at the center of the campaign.
By Sudha Ramachandran
March 14, 2019, the CACI Analyst
In November 2018, Baluch militants, angry with China’s exploitation of their resources through Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) projects, attacked the Chinese consulate in Karachi, Pakistan. This underscored the vulnerability of Chinese nationals and infrastructure projects outside China’s borders to terrorism. In addition, China’s repression of Muslim Uighurs in its Xinjiang province has drawn the ire of Uighur militants and jihadist groups. China will have to find a way to secure its nationals abroad and projects in BRI member-states, without triggering alarm among BRI skeptics.
By Neil Hauer
March 13, 2019, the CACI Analyst
Georgia’s final presidential elections in October and November 2018 served as a microcosm of the current uninspired state of Georgian politics. Although the incumbent Georgian Dream (GD) party and its leader, Bidzina Ivanishvili, were able to triumph over their opponents, the trials they faced in doing so underscored the degree to which they have lost public confidence. Exiled former president Mikheil Saakashvili, who played a major role in campaigning for the candidate of his United National Movement (UNM) party, also appears to be a largely spent force. Georgia seems to be in need of a new political movement that can mobilize enthusiasm, but it is unclear when, or from where, this will emerge.
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.