By Stephen Blank

February 9, 2024

Virtually every assessment of trends in Central Asia since Putin’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022 and many preceding analyses have postulated a decline in most if not all dimensions of Russian influence and capacity. To be sure, Russia’s imperial aspirations and ability to indulge in them remain central to Russian policy. Nevertheless, that capacity and ability to give this area the attention it merits has visibly declined, not least regarding defense policy. That decline has opened and continues to create opportunities for other interested parties to raise their regional profile, including China, Turkey, India, the EU, and the U.S.

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By Vali Kaleji

February 5, 2024

Iran and Azerbaijan recently agreed to establish a transit route called the “Aras Corridor.” It is intended to pass through the Iranian province of East Azerbaijan and connect the village of Aghband in the southwestern corner of the Zangilan District to the city of Ordubad in southern Nakhchivan. Bypassing Armenia, the Aras Corridor could present an alternative to the Zangezur Corridor with the potential of reducing Iran’s concerns for its common border with Armenia. However, if Armenia and Azerbaijan sign a peace treaty and Armenia and Turkey establish diplomatic relations, the current advantages of the Aras Corridor will be reduced. These equations will change only if Nikol Pashinyan’s government falls and the nationalist and conservative movements opposing peace with Azerbaijan and normalization of relations with Turkey come to power in Armenia.

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By Farkhod Tolipov

January 25, 2024

On December 25-26, 2023, two summits were held in Saint Petersburg: the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) summit and the so-called CIS informal summit. They can be regarded as a joint summit of two organizations with similar goals. In fact, in its attempt to prevent the fate of a fading empire, Moscow seeks to resort to its soft power instruments and create a semblance or entourage of collectivity around Russia. In the context of its war in Ukraine and frequent unfriendly and threatening statements towards its neighbors, the Kremlin’s artificial collectivity looks like a disguise of its loneliness.

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By S. Frederick Starr

January 22, 2024

The absence of a region-wide and Central Asian-controlled coordinating institution leaves the region vulnerable to pressures from its major neighbors, Russia and China. To be effective, such an institution must be legitimized by an international agreement or treaty. The Central Asian states’ “Nuclear Free Zone” agreement meets this criterion and has been signed by China and Russia, but not by the U.S., the UK, or France. If the U.S. were to join this pact, the Central Asians will use it as an umbrella beneath which they can erect the security and economic arrangements they so desperately need.

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  • Explaining the Kyrgyz-Tajik Border Clash: Hypotheses in Search of Corroboration
    Wednesday, 14 July 2021 00:00

    By Richard Weitz

    July 14, 2021, the CACI Analyst

    A century ago, the Italian author Luigi Pirandello wrote a three-act play entitled “Six Characters in Search of an Author,” which explored the difficulty of differentiating between illusion and reality. The analyst of the recent border clash between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan faces the same challenge. The event, which saw the most serious fighting between independent Central Asian republics, offers several plausible explanations with divergent policy implications. 

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  • The Second Karabakh War and Caspian Energy
    Monday, 19 April 2021 00:00

    By Fuad Shahbazov

    April 19, 2021, the CACI Analyst

    On November 10, the second war in Nagorno-Karabakh ended with a Russia-brokered ceasefire agreement signed between Azerbaijan and Armenia. While the 44-day war caused severe damages to frontline settlements and civilian casualties on both sides, frequent missile attacks carried out by Armenia towards Azerbaijani cities and infrastructure beyond the frontline raised concerns not only in Baku but also in the EU regarding the security of vitally important energy infrastructure. The possibility of damages to energy infrastructure, particularly the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline and the Trans-Anatolian Pipeline, would explicitly put the role of these pipelines in European energy security under question.

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  • Kyrgyzstan’s Third Revolution
    Thursday, 08 October 2020 00:00

    By Johan Engvall 

    October 8, 2020, the CACI Analyst

    Kyrgyzstan is again in turmoil following the country’s parliamentary elections on October 4. The day after the election, thousands of demonstrators gathered in central Bishkek to protest the outcome of what opposition leaders described as the dirtiest in the country’s history, ending in a violent showdown between riot police and demonstrators. The fighting went on long into the night, until the protesters overrun the police and seized the presidential palace and the parliament. State power collapsed in the blink of an eye. Now begins the hard part of bringing back law and order and finding a viable path forward. The outcome is genuinely uncertain. There are no boundaries for what kind of interests that can lay claim on political authority. Old and new politicians, criminal groups and political activists all try to fill the power vacuum.  

     

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  • Central Asian Salafi-Jihadi Groups and the US-Taliban Peace Agreement
    Wednesday, 03 June 2020 00:00

    By Uran Botobekov 

    June 3, 2020, the CACI Analyst

    The U.S.-Taliban agreement obliges the Taliban to sever ties with al Qaeda and other Central Asian terrorist groups. Nevertheless, Central Asian Salafi-Jihadi groups celebrate the deal as a “victory.” The Taliban’s relationship with these groups will likely continue to develop in secret, and Central Asian regimes must seriously prepare for a new redistribution of power and resources in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of U.S. troops.

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Staff Publications

Screen Shot 2023-05-08 at 10.32.15 AMSilk Road Paper S. Frederick Starr, U.S. Policy in Central Asia through Central Asian Eyes, May 2023.


Analysis Svante E. Cornell, "Promise and Peril in the Caucasus," AFPC Insights, March 30, 2023.

Oped S. Frederick Starr, Putin's War In Ukraine and the Crimean War), 19fourtyfive, January 2, 2023

Oped S. Frederick Starr, Russia Needs Its Own Charles de Gaulle,  Foreign Policy, July 21, 2022.

2206-StarrSilk Road Paper S. Frederick Starr, Rethinking Greater Central Asia: American and Western Stakes in the Region and How to Advance Them, June 2022 

Oped Svante E. Cornell & Albert Barro, With referendum, Kazakh President pushes for reforms, Euractiv, June 3, 2022.

Oped Svante E. Cornell Russia's Southern Neighbors Take a Stand, The Hill, May 6, 2022.

Silk Road Paper Johan Engvall, Between Bandits and Bureaucrats: 30 Years of Parliamentary Development in Kyrgyzstan, January 2022.  

Oped Svante E. Cornell, No, The War in Ukraine is not about NATO, The Hill, March 9, 2022.

Analysis Svante E. Cornell, Kazakhstan’s Crisis Calls for a Central Asia Policy Reboot, The National Interest, January 34, 2022.

StronguniquecoverBook S. Frederick Starr and Svante E. Cornell, Strong and Unique: Three Decades of U.S.-Kazakhstan Partnership, Central Asia-Caucasus Institute, December 2021.  

Silk Road Paper Svante E. Cornell, S. Frederick Starr & Albert Barro, Political and Economic Reforms in Kazakhstan Under President Tokayev, November 2021.

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.

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