By Rafis Abazov
May 23, 2019, the CACI Analyst
The resignation of Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev in spring 2019, after 30 years of uninterrupted stewardship, had an unexpected timing. However, even more unexpected was the Parliament of Kazakhstan’s hastily announced early presidential elections scheduled for June 9, 2019. Even some major political insiders were caught unprepared. Indeed, leading local analyst Sergei Domnin of Expert Magazine wrote that the entire political establishment woke up to find Kazakhstan at a political “crossroad.” Some believe that the elections are just a face change and that the ruling elite will continue to pursue the same policies. Others claim that the elections could lead to the emergence of an “entirely new political model.”
By Rafis Abazov
April 5, 2019, the CACI Analyst
Recent initiatives on stabilizing Afghanistan and security in the region during the high-level International Conference on Afghanistan in Geneva, and discussions of reconciliation with the Taliban in Doha and Moscow, have offered a number of conventional measures helping to resolve some of the area’s problems, but often only in the short run. However, below the radar of the heavyweight political players, groups of dedicated youth quietly work on the long-term solution through replicating the international efforts inside and outside of Afghanistan in their Model UN. Every year tens of thousands of students from across Greater Central Asia not only discuss the most pressing regional issues, but also educate and train the next generation of young people on diplomatic, negotiation and conflict prevention issues. The question is, will it work?
By Ruth Ingram
March 25, 2019, the CACI Analyst
Official reassurances that Xinjiang's internment camps are only "temporary" fly in the face of mounting evidence to the contrary. Faced with incontrovertible data that now up to 1.5 million Uyghurs and Kazakhs are extra-judicially interned, Beijing is refusing to bow to international criticism and continues to justify its counter-terrorism strategy. Calling on the world to support its methods, Beijing is mounting an all-out public relations drive to persuade critical voices that in fact the camps are benign and successful in achieving their objectives. But the "experiment" already two years in operation shows no sign of abating. World leaders are calling it a cultural genocide and stepping up their demands to inspect the facilities.
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.
Regional Cooperation in Central Asia: Relevance of Foreign Models
A renewed spirit of regionalism is emerging in Central Asia, manifested most overtly in a summit of Central Asian leaders in Astana in March 2018, and the passage of a United Nations General Assembly resolution on the Central Asian region in June of the same year. This has important implications for the region, and will inevitably lead to efforts to institutionalize regional cooperation. As Central Asians ponder how to anchor regionalism in institutions, the experiences of countries as diverse as the Nordic countries, South America, and Southeast Asia may all be relevant. After all, these and other world regions offer a rich history of efforts to develop regional cooperation. They have achieved successes, endured failures, and grappled with challenges that are not dissimilar from those faced by Central Asian leaders today.
Questions range from the technical to the political. How should the freedom of movement of people, labor issues, or trade facilitation be handled? How is regional cooperation affected by the fact that regional countries do not share the same patterns of membership in international organizations? How deeply institutionalized should regional structures be? How do they relate to outside powers, particularly large ones and potential hegemons? These questions are the focus of the following sections.
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.