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.
By Eduard Abrahamyan
December 17, 2018, the CACI Analyst
On October 24-26, a U.S. State Department delegation headed by National Security Adviser Ambassador John Bolton visited the South Caucasian republics after talks in Moscow. The delegation’s visit to Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia was immediately dubbed a reinvigoration of U.S. policy towards the Caucasus and a pragmatic reengagement with the conflicted region. Bolton appeared to refine the evolving U.S. priorities with each country, categorizing them in accordance with political capabilities, shared interests and the roles that Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia respectively seek in relations with the West. The visit, however, caused an angry reaction from Moscow, especially given the issues Bolton raised in Yerevan.
By Nurlan Aliyev
November 27, 2018, the CACI Analyst
During a press conference in Moscow on October 4, 2018, Major General Igor Kirillov, commander of Russia’s radiological, chemical and biological defense troops, stated that 73 citizens of Georgia had died as a result of medical experiments conducted by a company owned by former U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. He referred to recent accusations from Georgia’s former Minister of State Security Igor Giorgadze, who served in the KGB from the 1970s to the 1990s and holds the title “Honorary Officer of the KGB of the USSR.” Kirillov’s statement coincided with allegations from the UK and the Netherlands that Russian spies attempted to hack the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in The Hague.
By Tristan Kenderdine
October 30, 2018, the CACI Analyst
In the trade war with the U.S., China has clearly shown that it is willing to reject Pacific trade partners based on political over economic considerations. Beijing’s wider policy to develop industrial and agroindustrial capacity in Central Asia, the Caucasus and the Middle East means that these economies can use short-term structural changes in global trade dynamics to their longer term advantage. Ultimately, all states suffer in a trade war. If Central Asian, U.S. and European producers all had open access to China’s markets, all sides would benefit in the long run. In the short term though, a U.S.-China trade war is a huge opportunity for Central Asian economies to soak up China’s heavy industry outward direct investment despite the risk of a China policy bank debt-trap.
By Nurlan Aliyev
September 20, 2018, the CACI Analyst
During the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) foreign ministers’ meeting in Almaty on June 11, 2018, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov informed his Kazakh counterpart of Moscow’s concerns over U.S. military logistics planning involving Kazakhstan, and biological laboratories in the country. The protest was prompted by President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s signature on May 5 of amendments to the 2010 U.S.-Kazakhstan agreement on commercial rail transit of special cargo to Afghanistan through Kazakhstan, which allow the U.S. to use Kazakhstan’s territory for supplying U.S. forces in Afghanistan. The exchange took place on the eve of the fifth Caspian summit, where the heads of the five littoral states signed a convention on the status of the Caspian Sea, according to which non-littoral states may not deploy armed forces to the Sea.
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.