By Avinoam Idan
February 6, 2017, the CACI Analyst
Israel’s Prime Minister Binjamin Netanyahu made a landmark visit to Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan in December 2016. The Israeli Prime Minister's visit reflects Israel’s growing interest in Central Asia and the Caucasus, a region that is part of Israel's greater strategic environment. Israel's interest in Kazakhstan focuses on its trade potential, its regional and international status, and its position as a vital link in the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative. Azerbaijan's geographical location, its role as a significant energy exporter, and its security approach have been foci of the close relations that have developed between Baku and Jerusalem over the years. The Prime Minister's visit reflects the continued deepening of ties with Azerbaijan.
By Sudha Ramachandran
February 9, 2017, the CACI Analyst
Pakistan’s government has set March 31 as the deadline for all Afghan refugees living on its soil to leave the country or face deportation. Although it is not a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention or the 1967 Protocol, Pakistan has been a generous host to Afghan refugees, hosting up to 5 million Afghans at a time. Neither did Pakistan force them in the past to return to Afghanistan. This seems to have changed. For many refugees, returning to Afghanistan will not be a happy homecoming as the security and economic situation in the country remain dire.
By Franz J. Marty
February 3, 2017, the CACI Analyst
Overwhelming evidence – photographs, an eyewitness account and several confirming statements of diplomats and observers, among them a Chinese official familiar with the matter – leaves virtually no doubt that Chinese troops have undertaken joint patrols with their Afghan (and possibly also Tajik) counterparts on Afghan soil in the Little Pamir, a high plateau near the Afghan-Chinese border. While the Chinese source insists that such joint border patrols were based on an agreement, and therefore legal, the Afghan government steadfastly denies the existence of such patrols.
By Boris Ajeganov
January 23, 2017, the CACI Analyst
Foreign investment in Georgia is strengthening the country’s importance in connecting East Asia with Europe, which has positive implications for the broader region. The rise in FDI in commercial and transportation infrastructure in combination with the signing of international free trade agreements will reduce Georgia’s vulnerability in terms of economic and, ultimately, ‘hard’ security. The growing importance of the South Caucasus as node for EU-China trade will weaken Russia’s incentives to undermine its southern neighbors by military, political, and economic means as it has done in the past. Accordingly, Tbilisi’s ability to conduct an independent foreign policy is set to improve despite the absence of Western security guarantees.
By Stephen Blank
January 16th, 2017, The CACI Analyst
Recent evidence shows a gradual increase in Chinese military activity in Central Asia, particularly with Tajikistan, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, although China has for years denied any military interest in the region. In October, PLA and Tajik forces jointly participated in counterterrorism exercises in Tajikistan near the border with Afghanistan, following earlier activity in 2016. Whereas Tajikistan was then silent, this time it publicized the exercises, which aroused a visible anxiety in the Russian media although the Russian government has hitherto been unwilling to comment on this issue. China’s initiative could imply a major new development in Chinese policy and in Central Asia’s overall security, with lasting implications for the 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.