By Valeriy Dzutsev (the 13/11/2013 issue of the CACI Analyst)
One by one, the North Caucasian republics are declining direct elections of governors, instead sticking to the appointment procedure by the President of Russia. Moscow appears to be orchestrating the process to ensure that completely loyal governors are in place in the restive region. Their loyalty, however, comes at the price of greater volatility and lower predictability in the region. Moscow’s policies in the North Caucasus illuminate the crisis of the highly centralized system of governance in Russia. Ironically, regions of Russia that are most adversely affected by the lack of a participatory political system are further deprived of popular voting mechanisms.
By Mina Muradova (the 13/11/2013 issue of the CACI Analyst)
Azerbaijan is moving from words to action in delivering gas resources from the Caspian Sea to European markets. President Ilham Aliyev has taken the development of the Southern Gas Corridor under his own supervision. A State Commission chaired by First Vice-Premier Eyub Yagubov has been established by a presidential decree and will be responsible for coordinating all issues related to the Shah Deniz project on a government level, as well as the implementation of the South Caucasus Pipeline Expansion Project, the Trans-Anatolian gas pipeline (TANAP) and the Trans Adriatic pipeline (TAP).
By Stephen Blank (the 30/10/2013 issue of the CACI Analyst)
The U.S. has decided to give up the base at Manas, presumably because that base is not worth retaining once it leaves Afghanistan next year, and will relocate the base to Romania. Washington is instead moving most of its logistics through Pakistan, with a corresponding decline in the use of the Northern Distribution Network. Once U.S. forces leave Afghanistan there will be no military presence in Central Asia to speak of. Second, the TAPI gas pipeline from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan and Pakistan, nominally the centerpiece of America’s New Silk Road initiative, languishes for lack of any financing.
By Richard Weitz (the 30/10/2013 issue of the CACI Analyst)
NATO’s inability to commit to a definite role in Afghanistan beyond 2014, along with perceived strategic setbacks in Central Asia and the South Caucasus, are reinforcing the narrative promoted by the Taliban, al-Qaeda, Iran, and to a lesser extent Russia and China, that a war-weary West is abandoning Eurasia. Urgent measures are needed during the next months to reverse this perception before it gains irreversible momentum. The perception is already leading regional players to hedge against the expected consequences of a diminished NATO role. NATO needs to reaffirm and clarify its commitment to Afghanistan and Eurasia.
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.