By Armen Grigoryan
April 15th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
Tensions along the line of contact in Nagorno-Karabakh between April 2 and 5 resulted in the heaviest exchanges of fire since 1994. Even though the use of some types of weapons was quite unexpected, the general logic of developments in the conflict in recent years has made the recent fighting rather predictable. Concerning further hostilities, the question is not if, but when they will happen. While this danger needs to be addressed by means of international mediation, so far only Russia demonstrates substantial activity in this regard. Russia’s unilateral involvement will pursue its own particular regional interests rather than producing a lasting solution to the conflict.
By Roger N. McDermott
March 28th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
Russia’s and Tajikistan’s joint antiterrorist exercise on March 15-20 involved five Tajik training ranges, and showcased bilateral security cooperation. The exercise seemed routine, consistent with each country’s national security concerns; however a number of factors coalesced on Moscow’s planning and deployment side to make it both unique and potentially revealing. Buoyed by its recent experience of military conflict in Ukraine and Syria, Russia’s Armed Forces display increased confidence in supporting a more pro-active Russian foreign policy posture. The elements it deployed in Tajikistan for the exercise contain strategic messages for the benefit of other actors and Russia’s potential adversaries in Central Asia: for regional governments the message is one of reassurance and renewed confidence.
By Roger N. McDermott
February 25th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
Moscow has stated that among its defense and security priorities for 2016, Central Asia and the South Caucasus will top its agenda. Kavkaz 2016, the main strategic military exercise of the year, will take place in the Southern Military District (MD), while Tsentr 2015 occurred in Central MD with among its vignettes a rehearsal of intervention in Central Asia. Surprisingly in this context, the Defense Ministry plans to restructure the 201st Base in Tajikistan from divisional to brigade status. This initiative is driven by Moscow’s growing concerns about the future of Central Asian security as it faces multiple potential threats stemming from Afghanistan and Islamic State (ISIS). But paradoxically, Moscow’s latest moves to strengthen the basing of its forces in Tajikistan serves as an indicator of official perceptions that the region could suffer a serious security challenge.
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 Umida Hashimova
February 10th, the CACI Analyst
Uzbekistan and Russia are working to develop a governmental agreement on organized job placements for potential labor migrants from Uzbekistan to Russia. Such agreements usually mean that future employees will have an agreed job, salary, place to live, insurance, and all permission papers for employment before they leave their home country. Some have interpreted this as a sign of warming relations between the two countries by which Russia is easing the conditions for about two million migrants from Uzbekistan in exchange for some sort of concessions by Uzbekistan’s government.
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.