January 19, 2024
Turkmenistan underwent a serious rapprochement with Russia in recent years, particularly after the establishment of a ruling tandem with Serdar Berdimuhamedow as a formal president and his father, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, who retained significant influence in Turkmenistan’s domestic and foreign policy. Due to a few viable alternatives, Russia represents the balancing factor for Turkmenistan towards the increasing Chinese influence over the country and the principal supporter of the regime. On the contrary, Turkmenistan remains a loyal partner in the region for Russia, where the most significant players (Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan) expressed their cautious approach towards Russia's advance in Ukraine.
December 8, 2023
There has been a rapid intensification of Turkish relations with Turkic states in Central Asia and the Caucasus in the past decade. The creation of the Organization of Turkic States in 2021 was a major milestone, but in the bilateral realm a significant shift has taken place as the Turkish defense and security ties to regional states have intensified – particularly with Azerbaijan, with whom Turkey has a defense treaty, but also with Central Asian states. This development could be a net strategic gain for the West in an era of Great Power Competition, if appreciated rather than ignored and engaged rather than sidelined.
By Svante E. Cornell and S. Frederick Starr
October 3, 2023
Central Asia is often portrayed through metaphors such as a “Grand Chessboard” or a “Great Game,” which suggest that the players in the game are the great powers, and the Central Asian states are merely pawns in this game. This might have been a plausible argument thirty years ago. But today, thirty years into independence, it is abundantly clear that Central Asian states have agency at the regional and even global level.
By Farkhod Tolipov
June 14, 2023
On April 30, 2023, Uzbekistan held a referendum on amendments to the country’s Constitution. The referendum was preceded by an ambitious propaganda campaign calling on people not to be indifferent and to actively participate in the referendum. However, the controversial text of the draft Constitution appeared to be worked out in closed cabinets of the Constitutional Commission without broader engagement of experts and civil society representatives. Loud propaganda, in the spirit of Soviet tradition, contrasted with the silence of ordinary citizens and their very low level of awareness of the content of the document subjected to the vote.
By Farkhod Tolipov
December 15, 2022
Uzbekistan’s foreign policy can roughly be divided into two periods, corresponding to its two Presidents, Islam Karimov and Shavkat Mirziyoyev. Despite Karimov’s slogan “Turkistan is our common home,” indicating an embrace of the wider region, territorial and water disputes in Central Asia overshadowed intra-regional affairs. Since Mirziyoyev came to power, Uzbekistan has taken dramatic steps to overcome such regional discord, instead emerging as a leader in building cooperation both on the region-wide level and through the budding alliance with Kazakhstan. Meanwhile, Tashkent’s regional and international behavior has sometimes been quite cautious and hesitant, particularly as relates to great powers surrounding Central Asia. The question going forward, in particular against the background of Russia’s war in Ukraine, is whether this approach verging on neutrality is sustainable, and whether Uzbekistan must emerge more assertively on the regional scene.
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.