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.
By Nurlan Aliyev
February 21, 2019, the CACI Analyst
On December 5, 2018, Colonel-General Alexander Dvornikov, commander of the Southern Military District (SMD), stated that the basis of an inter-forces troop contingent including sea, air and coastal components has been established in Dagestan. According to Dvornikov, fighters of the 4th Army Air Force and the SMD’s Air Defense have been put on alert at one of Dagestan’s airfields. Strengthening its high precision strike capabilities in the Caspian, Russia also intends to improve its ability to block the Basin to outside actors in support of its strategies regarding the Caucasus, Central Asia and the Middle East. The Caspian holds immense strategic value to Russia, given its geographical proximity to the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov.
By Emil A. Souleimanov and Huseyn Aliyev
January 23, 2019, the CACI Analyst
Recent weeks have seen an unprecedented series of high-level meetings of Armenian and Azerbaijani representatives on Nagorno-Karabakh, Azerbaijan’s breakaway territory closely linked since the early 1990s to Armenia. Whereas many analysts considered resumed peace talks unlikely after the April 2016 fighting, Armenia’s Velvet Revolution and the replacement of the country’s war-hardened Karabakh elite with a forward-looking and liberal government has provided new stimulus in this regard. As Azerbaijani officials perceive the recent power shift in Armenia as a window of opportunity to advance a peaceful solution to the long-standing conflict, optimism regarding the prospect of a deal appears higher than in many years.
By Stephen Blank
February 13, 2019, the CACI Analyst
When he announced the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria, President Trump also announced the departure of one half (7,000) of America’s troops in Afghanistan. This abrupt decision both damaged the U.S. position in the Middle East and undermined ongoing negotiations with the Taliban over Afghanistan. It upset all the calculations of the Afghan government, leaving it scrambling for a new negotiating and strategic posture, and undid two years of successful albeit modest U.S. policy of renewed economic and political support for Central Asia. This will allow both Beijing and Moscow to respond by extending their influence in Central Asia at America’s expense and to employ their strongest capabilities for doing so.
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.