By Sudha Ramachandran
May 26th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
Iran’s location near key trade routes and strategic waterways could make it a major Eurasian trade and transit corridor in the coming decades. China is keen to tap into Iran’s potential. But will Iran’s rise as a trade hub undermine the importance and prospects of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)? This possibility has raised concerns in Pakistan that China’s commitment to making the Gwadar port a key node in the CPEC could dwindle as Iran’s trade corridors take shape and if Pakistan’s government fails to address China’s security concerns.
By Stephen Blank
May 9th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
China has steadfastly refused to get involved in providing hard, i.e. military, security to Central Asian governments, including Afghanistan. This might now be changing. In a March visit to Kabul, General Fang Fenghui, Chief of Staff of the PLA, announced plans to set up an anti-terror regional alliance with Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan. President Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan reportedly endorsed this proposal. 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.
By Jacob Zenn
May 3rd, 2016, The CACI Analyst
For more than a decade after the September 11, 2001 attacks in the U.S., the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) was the “bogeyman” of Central Asian militancy. It was the most well-known militant group in Central Asia and abroad, even though it was in exile in Afghanistan and Pakistan under the protection of the Taliban and al-Qaeda. Years of drone strikes and counter-insurgency operations failed to eliminate the IMU. Ironically, however, it was neither the U.S. nor coalition forces that destroyed the IMU. Rather, it was the Taliban who liquidated the IMU in late 2015 as punishment for its “betrayal” of the Taliban (and al-Qaeda) by pledging loyalty to Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, leader of the terrorist organization calling itself the Islamic State (ISIS). This will change the nature of the militant threat to Central Asia and force a reconsideration of Uzbekistan’s counter-extremism measures.
By Mirzohid Rahimov
April 19th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
Central Asian nations consider the development of alternative regional transport communications important aspects of their national economic and political strategy, and the republics have become active participants in various international projects to promote economic cooperation with different countries and regions of the world. The development of internal Central Asian communication networks in general, and Uzbekistan in particular, gives the possibility of extending not only national communications, but also broaden networks in Central Asia. The Angren-Pap rail project is very important for national connectivity and for increased international communication. Different international experiences in economic transformation are relevant for Central Asia’s regional connectivity.
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.
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.