By Tomáš Baranec and Beskid Juraj
May 10th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
A new wave of escalation hit Nagorno-Karabakh in early April. In the course of what was probably Azerbaijani reconnaissance by force, claiming dozens of dead on both sides, Baku managed to secure several heights controlled by Armenian forces. Immediate hostilities have receded for now, but the question remains how the military strength of both sides has changed in recent years, what this means for the future of the peace process, and the role of Russian arms in the resurrection of this conflict.
By Emil Souleimanov
May 12th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
Due to its unprecedented scale, some commentators have termed the escalation of violence in early April along the Line of Contact in Nagorno-Karabakh the April War of 2016. In fact, the recent fighting saw an unprecedented involvement of heavy military technology – including tanks, armored vehicles, aviation, and drones – alongside hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of military personnel in multiple locations simultaneously. Having cost the lives of up to a hundred people on both sides of the frontline, the April War has challenged some common wisdoms that have held since the 1990s.
By Stephen Blank
May 9th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
China has steadfastly refused to get involved in providing hard, i.e. military, security to Central Asian governments, including Afghanistan. This might now be changing. In a March visit to Kabul, General Fang Fenghui, Chief of Staff of the PLA, announced plans to set up an anti-terror regional alliance with Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan. President Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan reportedly endorsed this proposal. China’s initiative could imply a major new development in Chinese policy and in Central Asia’s overall security, with lasting implications for the region.
By Jacob Zenn
May 3rd, 2016, The CACI Analyst
For more than a decade after the September 11, 2001 attacks in the U.S., the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) was the “bogeyman” of Central Asian militancy. It was the most well-known militant group in Central Asia and abroad, even though it was in exile in Afghanistan and Pakistan under the protection of the Taliban and al-Qaeda. Years of drone strikes and counter-insurgency operations failed to eliminate the IMU. Ironically, however, it was neither the U.S. nor coalition forces that destroyed the IMU. Rather, it was the Taliban who liquidated the IMU in late 2015 as punishment for its “betrayal” of the Taliban (and al-Qaeda) by pledging loyalty to Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, leader of the terrorist organization calling itself the Islamic State (ISIS). This will change the nature of the militant threat to Central Asia and force a reconsideration of Uzbekistan’s counter-extremism measures.
By Zaur Shiriyev
May 2nd, 2016, The CACI Analyst
In early April, the escalation of hostilities between Armenia and Azerbaijan resulted in a so-called “four-day war”, which was ended by a truce reached under Russia’s auspices. The expectation was that after the end of this short war, international engagement would increase, with the re-energizing of the Minsk Group. But so far, Moscow is the only active party. The Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, is conducting “shuttle diplomacy” between Yerevan and Baku, the results of which will become clear in the coming weeks.
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.