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 Sudha Ramachandran
October 15th, 2015, The CACI Analyst
The fall of Kunduz to the Taliban has set alarm bells ringing not only in Afghanistan but also far beyond its borders. The capture of Kunduz, even if only temporary, has far reaching implications. It has dealt the Afghan government a heavy blow and is a huge setback for President Ashraf Ghani’s approach and strategy towards the Taliban. While it is expected to force the U.S. to revise its plans for troop withdrawal, Russia, China and Central Asian governments are watching the Taliban’s northward expansion nervously.
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.
By Edward Lemon
September 23rd, 2015, The CACI Analyst
Rather than resulting from external factors, as the regime has argued, the recent violence in Tajikistan erupted from within the state itself. Elites within the Tajik state continually compete for political influence and economic gain. These struggles occasionally break out into violence. Ironically, such conflicts are actually useful for the regime. They allow it to legitimize a purge of potentially disloyal members and a crackdown on other opponents. By blaming the latest conflict on the country’s leading opposition party, the Islamic Renaissance Party (IRPT), the regime legitimized its move to ban the party and arrest its leading members.
By Rohullah Osmani
September 18th, 2015, The CACI Analyst
After several years of uncertainty, a hope for a breakthrough has emerged for a critical energy project in South-Central Asia. On August 6, 2015, the 22nd TAPI Steering Committee approved Turkmenistan’s Turkmengaz as the consortium leader to oversee efforts in constructing, financing and operating the 1,600 kilometer natural gas pipeline. Achieving this milestone suggests a very important development for TAPI. Turkmenistan is taking a firmer lead in the project after talks with a French investor stalled, and also after the recent agreement over Iran’s nuclear program. This suggests Ashgabat is speeding up the project over fears that Iranian gas might flood back on to the market.
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.