By Stephen Blank
February 13, 2019, the CACI Analyst
When he announced the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria, President Trump also announced the departure of one half (7,000) of America’s troops in Afghanistan. This abrupt decision both damaged the U.S. position in the Middle East and undermined ongoing negotiations with the Taliban over Afghanistan. It upset all the calculations of the Afghan government, leaving it scrambling for a new negotiating and strategic posture, and undid two years of successful albeit modest U.S. policy of renewed economic and political support for Central Asia. This will allow both Beijing and Moscow to respond by extending their influence in Central Asia at America’s expense and to employ their strongest capabilities for doing so.
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.
By Sudha Ramachandran
December 19, 2018, the CACI Analyst
On October 15, Afghan and Pakistani security forces exchanged fire. Such incidents, which have claimed the lives of hundreds of border security personnel and others on both sides, have grown in frequency in recent years. The clashes are over Pakistan’s unilateral construction of a fence along the Durand Line. Pakistan says the fence will check armed militants moving between the two countries. Afghanistan, which has not accepted the Durand Line as its border with Pakistan, disagrees. The controversial fence is adding tension to an already fraught bilateral relationship.
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 Stephen Blank
November 29, 2018, the CACI Analyst
The signing of the Caspian convention in August 2018 has opened up exciting new possibilities for getting Central Asian oil and gas to European and global markets. The long-desired Southern Gas Corridor (SGC) from both shores of the Caspian has thus become a possibility. By thinking big, we can use Caspian gas for beneficial economic and political purposes. Whatever route Caspian energy takes to Europe, it must traverse the Caucasus and can be of substantial value in transforming the Eurasian geopolitical scene and agenda. Specifically, those parties who have the most to gain form resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict can now devise a peace program that incorporates the use of energy to help foster an enduring peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan, reduce Russia’s ability to manipulate this conflict, and at the same time enrich them both as well as European consumers.
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.