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.
By Eduard Abrahamyan
December 16th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
On November 12, 2016, Vladimir Putin officially approved a government proposal to form a permanent joint Russian-Armenian ground force. This is the second Russian initiative following the establishment of a united Russian-Armenian regional air defense system. As the crisis in Ukraine has expanded, the security thinking of the Russian leadership has undergone important changes regarding the imposition of actionable mechanisms intended to prevent allies such as Armenia from drifting westwards. By reinforcing existing military bases and simultaneously integrating Armenia’s armed forces into its Southern Military District (SMD) framework, Russia seeks to bolster its control over Armenia’s defense strategy and defense policy-making.
By John C. K. Daly
December 12th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
On October 2, China and Georgia signed a preliminary free trade agreement (FTA), scheduled to take effect from the end of 2017, China’s first substantive FTA negotiations in Eurasia. The FTA’s 17 sections include trade goods, services, intellectual property rights and emerging issues like e-commerce, with the two parties agreeing to remove all tariffs for most of the two nations’ commodity trade, as well as pledging to open many service sector markets and improve bilateral trade laws while identifying key areas for enhancing cooperation.
By Natalia Konarzewska
November 25th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
Georgia held parliamentary elections on October 8 and 30. Georgia’s ruling party, Georgian Dream-Democratic Georgia (GDDG) emerged decisively victorious and was able to secure a constitutional majority after a run-off election in the end of October. Although GDDG was able to gain widespread support, the low turnout suggests disappointment among voters, caused especially by the failure of Georgian authorities to counter the country’s economic downturn and worsening socio-economic conditions. International observers described the elections as well-administered and competitive, but the turbulent campaign sparked fears of violence in the aftermath of the elections.
By Stephen Blank
November 27th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
Few people think about trends in the Caucasus with reference to or in the context of Russia’s Syrian intervention. But Moscow does not make this mistake. From the beginning, Moscow has highlighted its access to the Caucasus through overflight rights and deployment of its forces in regard to Syria, e.g. sending Kalibr cruise missiles from ships stationed in the Caspian Sea to bomb Syria. Therefore we should emulate Russia’s example and seriously assess military trends in the Caucasus in that Syrian context.
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.