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.
By Farkhod Tolipov
July 16, 2020, the CACI Analyst
In May-June 2020, Central Asia experienced several border incidents between Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan; Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan; Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. These incidents revealed once again, on the one hand, the local population’s transboundary lifestyle and on the other, the artificial character of the borders that separate independent states from each other. Similar incidents have recurred in the region with a certain frequency since gaining independence; however, none of them escalated into larger and dangerous conflicts since resolutions came quickly and were based on unique integrative arrangements.
By Esmira Jafarova
July 14, 2020, the CACI Analyst
The first Azerbaijani gas via the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) reached Albania at the end of May 2020. This marked the first delivery of natural gas from Azerbaijan’s Shah-Deniz -II field in the Caspian Sea to Europe via the multimillion megaproject the Southern Gas Corridor (SGC). Despite the COVID-19 induced pandemics and global lockdowns, this is an important achievement testifying to the successful implementation of works in all four segments of the Southern Gas Corridor, including its final portion, TAP. The SGC is set to become fully operational in 2020 and it seems that Italy will also receive its earmarked portion of natural gas quite soon.
By John C. K. Daly
June 18, 2020, the CACI Analyst
Few processes are more opaque than political succession in the post-Soviet space, which is usually dominated by elite cronyism infighting. The practice becomes particularly pronounced when the departing leadership dates from the Soviet era and attempts to put its stamp on the transition to the future. In general, the leadership seeks to ensure a peaceful transition of power, even if circumventing the wishes of the departing leader. The latest post-Soviet nation to transit the process is Kazakhstan, where on May 2, Kazakh President Kasym-Zhomart Tokayev, having succeeded Nazarbayev as president 14 months earlier, unexpectedly posted a single-sentence announcement that he had removed Dariga Nursultanovna Nazarbayeva from her position as Senate speaker.
By Stephen Blank
July 8, 2020, the CACI Analyst
The revelations that Moscow paid Taliban warriors bounties to kill U.S., British, and other allied soldiers in Afghanistan is already generating a scandal in the United States. Yet for those who closely monitor Russian foreign policy in Central Asia and Afghanistan, this represents a particularly grisly escalation of policy but not a change in strategy. Moscow has long been determined to enhance its position with the Taliban and accelerate the ejection of U.S. forces from Afghanistan, which it regards as a threat to its position in Central Asia and to Russia. In Moscow’s imagination, the presence of several U.S. and/or NATO airbases in Afghanistan could strike Russian targets in Central Asia. Moreover, Russia has consistently expressed a visceral reaction to the presence of foreign military forces, especially Western ones, in and around Central Asia.
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.