By Najia Badykova
January 15th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
On November 24, a Japanese delegation met in Ashgabat with the deputy foreign ministers of five Central Asian states in a “Central Asia plus Japan” format to discuss regional security, sustainable development, trade and investment, as well as regional cooperation and disaster prevention. In October, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited all of the Central Asian states as a part of Tokyo’s efforts to strengthen economic relations with the resource-rich region, holding talks with Central Asian leaders mainly devoted to the energy issue. This is an important shift in Japanese foreign policy. Its long-time competitor China is already established in Central Asia and Tokyo’s recent initiatives have been described as part of the growing competition between China and Japan.
By Richard Weitz
December 22nd, 2015, The CACI Analyst
In early November, John Kerry made a long overdue trip to Central Asia, becoming the first Secretary of State to visit all five Central Asian countries in one diplomatic tour. His agenda focused on reassuring the regional governments that the United States cares about their concerns, specifically Afghanistan and religious extremism. Kerry also highlighted U.S. support for region-wide economic integration, ecological protection, and cultural and humanitarian cooperation. He further developed bilateral cooperation with each Central Asian government. However, there were no major agreements or blockbuster initiatives announced during Kerry’s visit. It will require sustained follow-through by the current and next U.S. administrations to achieve enduringly positive results.
By S. Frederick Starr and Svante E. Cornell
December 10th, 2015, The CACI Analyst
A number of initiatives have combined to make the development of continental transport and trade across the heartland of Eurasia a reality rather than a mere vision. Some of these have been external, while many have been internal to the region. Yet Europe, which launched the visionary TRACECA program in the early 1990s, is largely absent from the scene today. Yet if Europe works with Central Asian states, it stands to benefit greatly from this process. This would involve work to make the transport corridors more attuned to market logic; to promote the development of soft infrastructure; to pay attention to the geopolitics of transport and support the Caucasus and Caspian corridor; and not least, to look ahead to the potential of linking Europe through Central Asia not just to China, but also to the Indian subcontinent.
By Richard Weitz (09/02/2015 issue of the CACI Analyst)
That China is as worried as Afghanistan’s other neighbors regarding how to sustain security in that country is evident in how Beijing has set aside some long-standing “red lines” concerning that country. In recent months, Chinese diplomats have more actively tried to promote reconciliation between the Afghan government and the Taliban as well as between Afghanistan and Pakistan. China has also more openly provided security assistance to the Kabul government. But Beijing has yet to take a decisive step for Afghan peace despite the critical issues involved.
By Stephen Blank (19/08/2015 issue of the CACI Analyst)
The annual summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization took place on July 9-10 in Ufa, and ratified the expansion of membership to include India and Pakistan, and Iran may join in the future. Thus the SCO is well on the way to becoming a venue for the most powerful Inner Asian states to work together and discuss policy issues affecting Central Asia and beyond. But new membership is not likely to make this organization any more effective as a regional security provider. In fact, all the disputes among the major members, including India and Pakistan, might be imported into the SCO’s structure and serve as a brake on the expansion of its capabilities.
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.