By Najia Badykova
March 30th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
On February 29, 2016, the Southern Gas Corridor Advisory Council met in Baku for the second time and asserted that the diversification of EU energy sources remains a key component of the Union’s energy security policy. But the project faces serious hurdles. After many years of discussions with potential gas suppliers, Brussels has only been able to secure 10 billion cubic meters (bcm) of Azerbaijani gas per year for the corridor, a tiny fraction of EU members’ needs. Without securing significantly larger new gas supplies, it will be difficult economically and politically to justify such a large and expensive infrastructure project. While EU officials continue to assert their commitment to the corridor, it is unclear whether Brussels is moving toward the pragmatic approach necessary to secure more gas for the scheme or if we are only witnessing further rhetoric from bureaucrats.
By Natalia Konarzewska
March 25th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
In late December 2015, Turkmenistan officially announced the completion of the East-West gas pipeline. This 773 kilometer route with an annual capacity of 30 billion cubic meters (bcm) will connect natural gas from fields located in eastern Turkmenistan to those along its Caspian Sea coast, with the potential of further transfer via the Caspian Sea and onward to the Turkish and European markets. The construction of the pipeline is complementary to Turkmenistan’s current strategy for gas exports. Ashgabat seeks broader export opportunities in Turkey and Europe to reduce its dependence on Russia and China as major gas export outlets. However, despite positive political shifts, which might enhance Turkmenistan’s energy cooperation with Turkey, Azerbaijan and the EU, several obstacles remain to the westward transfer of Turkmenistan’s gas.
By Eduard Abrahamyan
March 16th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
Amidst the rising optimism emanating from Iran détente with the West, Armenian authorities have since 2015 sought to reinforce military and security ties with Tehran. Armenia’s MoD leadership visited Tehran on May 24-25, 2015 and after finding common ground on a broad spectrum of issues, Iran’s Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan pledged to visit Yerevan in the foreseeable future, though this has yet to take place. Iran indeed sees a potential for increasing its role in the South Caucasus after the sanctions were lifted. Could Iran present Armenia with an alternative in order to balance its overwhelming dependence on Russia?
By Stephen Blank
March 15th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
For years, Moscow has fulminated against the Taliban as a terrorist force that represented a threat not only to Afghanistan’s security but also to Central Asia and even to Russia itself. Yet news surfaced in December that Russia is sharing intelligence with the Taliban and apparently has been in discussions with it since 2013. According to U.S. intelligence sources, these discussions have also been accompanied by weapons transfers. Thus, while Russia is constantly, along with Central Asian leaders, playing up the ISIS threat and selling weapons to the Afghan government, it also shares intelligence and possibly sells weapons to its Taliban adversaries. These contradictions expose some of the problems in Russia’s regional policies in Central Asia and in its approach to terrorism.
By Mamuka Tsereteli
March 10th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
On March 4, 2016, Georgia and Azerbaijan reached a deal that allows Georgia to receive close to 500 million cubic meters (mcm) of additional gas annually from Azerbaijan. Georgia’s Minister of Energy Kakha Kaladze announced after the signing that Georgia will no longer need to buy additional volumes of gas from Gazprom. This ends several months of speculation about Georgia’s concessions to Gazprom, fueled by a number of controversial statements by government officials. This agreement strengthens the strategic partnership between Azerbaijan and Georgia, and keeps Georgia from becoming further affected by Gazprom’s coercive power.
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.