By Stephen Blank
December 10, 2019, the CACI Analyst
The Caspian Convention of August 2018 represented a major step forward in demarcating the Caspian Sea and the rights of littoral states. It also regenerated thinking about large-scale projects to integrate the Caspian basin with European, Chinese, and South Asian markets. This agreement was part of a larger contemporary trend involving China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and Russia’s North-South project through Iran and Central Asia to India. However, it will take years of multilateral economic, technological, and political efforts to implement these visions and despite the optimistic dreams fostered by the Caspian convention, there will be many disappointments on the road to realizing them.
By Farkhod Tolipov
November 22, 2019, the CACI Analyst
During an official visit to Tashkent on October 2, 2019, the Speaker of the Federal Council of the Russian Federation, Valentina Matvienko, stated that Uzbekistan’s President Shavkat Mirziyoyev had decided to resolve the question of Uzbekistan’s membership in the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU). If Tashkent actually decides to join, this will be the most dramatic and fateful geopolitical turn in Uzbekistan’s post-Soviet history, since it will signify the transformation of a non-Eurasian country to an Eurasian one. This is, indeed, a moment of truth for Uzbekistan and its foreign policy since it will require public support and a clear explanation of the country’s national interests.
By Azad Garibov
October 24, 2019, the CACI Analyst
With a promise to increase gas imports from Central Asia and to resume gas purchases from Turkmenistan after a three-year break, Russia’s energy giant Gazprom became increasingly active in Central Asian gas politics in the summer of 2019. This stands in contrast to Russia’s relative passivity in this area over the last decade, as its significantly lowered imports of gas from the region has allowed China to become the dominant player in Central Asia’s gas market. However, Russian gas export to Europe has hit record levels for several consecutive years, implying an opportunity to revive the practice of re-exporting Central Asian gas to Europe.
By Nurlan Aliyev
October 22, 2019, the CACI Analyst
In August, China and Tajikistan held counterterror drills in Gorno-Badakhshan. Tajikistan’s Defense Ministry stated that the goal of the joint drills was to improve preparedness to counter possible threats posed by terrorist and extremist groups. The “Cooperation-2019” exercise included about 1,200 troops from both sides, including approximately 580 troops from various units and services of the Chinese PLA Western Theater Command. Following China’s substantial involvement in Central Asian economies, Beijing is increasing its military cooperation with the regional states. China’s military encroachment into Russia’s historical “sphere of influence” has nevertheless not led to a visible reaction from Moscow.
By Huseyn Aliyev
September 12, 2019, the CACI Analyst
On June 24, the head of Russia’s North Caucasus Republic of Ingushetia, Yunus-bek Yevkurov, announced his decision to retire. Two days later, President Putin promptly accepted Yevkurov’s retirement and appointed former prosecutor general Makhmud-Ali Kalimatov as the interim head of republic. In the aftermath of the criticized land swap with Chechnya in the late 2018, Yevkurov engaged in a bitter conflict with powerful Ingush clans, civil society and religious leaders. His growing unpopularity resulted in violent protests and discontent with the Kremlin. Yevkurov’s retirement is yet another attempt by Moscow to tackle the issue of poor governance in the restive North Caucasus region.
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.