By Stephen Blank
January 16th, 2017, The CACI Analyst
Recent evidence shows a gradual increase in Chinese military activity in Central Asia, particularly with Tajikistan, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, although China has for years denied any military interest in the region. In October, PLA and Tajik forces jointly participated in counterterrorism exercises in Tajikistan near the border with Afghanistan, following earlier activity in 2016. Whereas Tajikistan was then silent, this time it publicized the exercises, which aroused a visible anxiety in the Russian media although the Russian government has hitherto been unwilling to comment on this issue. 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 Stephen Blank
November 27th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
Few people think about trends in the Caucasus with reference to or in the context of Russia’s Syrian intervention. But Moscow does not make this mistake. From the beginning, Moscow has highlighted its access to the Caucasus through overflight rights and deployment of its forces in regard to Syria, e.g. sending Kalibr cruise missiles from ships stationed in the Caspian Sea to bomb Syria. Therefore we should emulate Russia’s example and seriously assess military trends in the Caucasus in that Syrian context.
By Ilgar Gurbanov
October 17th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
The Iran-Armenia-Georgia gas talks have recently gained momentum. Iranian and Georgian companies have signed gas purchase contracts, to supply natural gas to Georgia through Armenia. While the perspective of enhanced Iran-Armenia-Georgia gas cooperation is limited from political and technical viewpoints, Armenia is actively seeking to carve out a new role for itself in order to mitigate the repercussions of its long-running isolation in the region. Yet the dominant role of Russia’s Gazprom in Armenia’s energy sector, as well as the lack of technical opportunities, pose significant obstacles to the delivery of large amounts of Iranian gas to Georgia through Armenia.
By Dmitry Shlapentokh
October 12th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
On June 8, 2016, FSU Oil & Gas Monitor quoted former UK Energy Minister Charles Hendry as saying that gas from Turkmenistan could reach European markets by various different means, including “overland routes through Iran.” It is unlikely that Hendry would make such an announcement without having received encouraging signals from both Tehran and Ashkhabad. The prospect of gas deliveries from Turkmenistan to European markets is disconcerting for Moscow, which regards the monopolization of gas supply to Europe as one of its major geopolitical and geoeconomic goals.
By Erik Davtyan
October 3rd, the CACI Analyst
On September 5, Georgia’s Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili, along with Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Energy Kakha Kaladze, and Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs David Dondua, paid a one-day visit to Yerevan. Kvirikashvili has previously visited Armenia as Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development, however this was his first official visit after he became Prime Minister in December 2015. The visit came nearly a month before parliamentary elections in Georgia, which are set for October 8. Less than one week before, Kvirikashvili made a similar visit to Azerbaijan. During both visits, the Georgian delegation was composed of exactly the same level of representatives, although another deputy foreign minister was present in Azerbaijan – indicating the importance that Georgian authorities attach to demonstrating a balanced policy towards its two neighbor states.
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.