By S. Enders Wimbush
February 18, 2021, the CACI Analyst
Both Russia and the United States are advertising new strategies for dealing with Central Asia, but each is deficient in its own way. While Russia seeks to exclude Afghanistan from its vision of Central Asia, the U.S. explicitly and wisely incorporates Afghanistan as organic to its vision. Neither vision links Central Asia strategically to a larger Eurasian concept that embraces the South Caucasus. To the contrary, both explicitly (the Russian version) or implicitly (the American version) isolate Central Asia geopolitically from the larger emerging political, economic, and security dynamics that Central Asians themselves seek to encourage to establish their region as the connective tissue between Asia and Europe.
By Farkhod Tolipov
January 26, 2021, the CACI Analyst
The third Consultative meeting of the five presidents of the Central Asian countries was scheduled for October 2020 to be held in Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan. However, it was postponed to take place in another country – Turkmenistan in 2021. This surprising delay raised concern about the reluctance of Central Asian leaders to reinvigorate the process of regional integration and about invisible geopolitical forces that slow it down. Explanations for the delayed meeting unconvincingly referred to the COVID-19 pandemic and its coincidence with disturbances in Kyrgyzstan in a situation where serious steps toward regional integration are urgently needed.
By Stephen Blank
December 14, 2020, the CACI Analyst
China has offered the Taliban investments in energy and infrastructure projects in return for the conclusion of a peace deal with the government in Kabul. In return for peace, China would commence building a major six-lane highway road network across Afghanistan. This road network would facilitate regional trade with Central Asia and permit direct land access from China to Iran. However, this network would also serve as a means for China to project direct force into Afghanistan, Central Asia, or Iran if needed.
By Niranjan Marjani
July 23, 2020, the CACI Analyst
The U.S.-Taliban deal has generated large amounts of analysis on stability and security in Afghanistan, the role of the Afghan government and Pakistan-Taliban relations. However, another important dimension of the deal is its impact on Iran-Pakistan relations. Pakistan’s relations with both Iran and the Afghan government are unstable, but Pakistan enjoys good relations with the Taliban. Iran has also sought to build contacts and relations with the Taliban. Thus, the recognition accorded to the Taliban in the deal could both improve Iran-Pakistan relations and give Iran an important role in Afghanistan. The increasing significance of the Taliban could worsen instability not only in Afghanistan but also across Central, West and South Asia while completely sidelining the Afghan government.
By Umair Jamal
July 21, 2020, the CACI Analyst
The growth of the terrorist organization known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in Afghanistan poses a formidable challenge to India and Pakistan’s security interests in the region. Recently, an ISIS-claimed attack on a Sikh Gurudwara in Afghanistan involved a suicide bomber from India. On April 4, Afghan security forces arrested a Pakistani national and a high-ranking ISIS commander in Afghanistan, who authorized the Gurudwara attack. Reports indicate that ISIS is rapidly gaining recruits from India and Pakistan for its Afghanistan and Central Asia operations. The emerging threat in this regard would require close counterterrorism cooperation between Islamabad and New Delhi if the group is to be successfully defeated in Afghanistan. However, given Pakistan and India’s competition and record of undermining each other’s interests in Afghanistan, ISIS is set to gain exponentially in the coming months.
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.