By Natalia Konarzewska
March 22, 2019, the CACI Analyst
In February 2019, Kazakhstan saw a wave of protests triggered by various social and economic grievances. Rallies burst through the country in multiple locations, indicating that popular distress is strong and unlikely to fade soon. In an attempt to placate social discontent, President Nursultan Nazarbayev fired the government, citing its inability to improve living standards and announced his own plan to provide social relief for the families. Kazakhstan’s hydrocarbon-dependent economy is struggling to recover after the 2014 plunge in oil prices and the spillover effects of Western sanctions against its largest trade partner Russia. On March 19, president Nazarbayev announced his immediate resignation after ruling Kazakhstan for thirty years.
By Svante E. Cornell and S. Frederick Starr
December 4, 2018, the CACI Analyst
Central Asian states are embarking on a new effort to build regional cooperation. In March 2019, the second yearly summit of Central Asian leaders will be held in Tashkent. Discussions are under way to provide structure to this newfound regionalism. Central Asians can build on a relatively rich experience of regional cooperation two decades ago, which culminated in the Central Asian Cooperation Organization (CACO). As they take this experience to new levels, they do not need to reinvent the wheel: an overview of other global models of regional cooperation shows how other states in similar situations – particularly Southeast Asian and Nordic countries – have managed to build long-term sustainable regionalism in difficult geopolitical circumstances.
By Rafis Abazov
July 10, 2018, the CACI Analyst
On the eve of the 20th anniversary of moving Kazakhstan’s capital from Almaty to Astana, the country’s government announced that the city of Astana has welcomed its one-millionth resident. Indeed, this was a remarkable achievement for the city, which within just 20 years – between 1997 and 2018 – grew from a population of only 290,000 to more than 1.1 million inhabitants, or more than 300 percent. Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev envisions that the population of Astana could exceed three million by 2050. Therefore, the main question is whether Kazakhstan can sustain this rapid urbanization shift without facing major social and demographic upheaval.
By Edward Lemon
February 29th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
Having outlawed the country’s leading opposition movement, the Islamic Renaissance Party, in 2015, President Rahmon is seeking to further cement his position. On December 9, the Tajik parliament unanimously passed a new law naming him “leader of the nation” and “originator of peace and national reconciliation.” This effectively lifts him above the law, guaranteeing impunity for him and his family. On January 13, parliament backed amendments to the constitution, lowering the age limit for presidential candidates to 30. This would allow Rahmon’s eldest son, 28-year-old Rustam, to run in the next election scheduled for 2020. Further amendments to the constitution, which will fully legalize Rahmon’s new position and pave the way for him to rule indefinitely, will be put to a referendum in the coming months.
By Jakob Zenn (04/29/2015 issue of the CACI Analyst)
Central Asian governments are speaking openly about threats they face from the multiple security and economic crises surrounding their region. In November 2014, Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev discussed in his annual address the region’s “worsening geopolitical context” with new crises in Ukraine, as well as in Syria and Iraq, the still unresolved “old” conflict in Afghanistan, and the negative impact on Central Asian economies resulting from Western sanctions on Russia. To counter these negative security and economic trends, Central Asian governments have adopted various approaches ranging from more progressive ones in Kazakhstan to stagnant or indecisive ones in other countries.
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.