By Roger N. McDermott
February 25th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
Moscow has stated that among its defense and security priorities for 2016, Central Asia and the South Caucasus will top its agenda. Kavkaz 2016, the main strategic military exercise of the year, will take place in the Southern Military District (MD), while Tsentr 2015 occurred in Central MD with among its vignettes a rehearsal of intervention in Central Asia. Surprisingly in this context, the Defense Ministry plans to restructure the 201st Base in Tajikistan from divisional to brigade status. This initiative is driven by Moscow’s growing concerns about the future of Central Asian security as it faces multiple potential threats stemming from Afghanistan and Islamic State (ISIS). But paradoxically, Moscow’s latest moves to strengthen the basing of its forces in Tajikistan serves as an indicator of official perceptions that the region could suffer a serious security challenge.
By Armen Grigoryan
February 22nd, 2016, The CACI Analyst
The confrontation between Russia and Turkey, and the fast-changing situation on the oil and natural gas markets, have strongly impacted the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict resolution process, as well as the internal state of affairs in both Armenia and Azerbaijan. Russia recently increased its military presence in Armenia, which has unsuccessfully sought support from fellow CSTO members in its confrontation with Azerbaijan. The ongoing clashes along the line of contact imply that the situation will likely remain tense in the short term. Meanwhile, the economic downturn in Armenia and Azerbaijan, as well as in Russia, increases the risk of domestically motivated escalation of the conflict.
By Arslan Sabyrbekov
February 17th, the CACI Analyst
On January 22, Kyrgyzstan’s President Almazbek Atambayev signed a law denunciating the agreement with Russia on the construction and operation of the Kambarata-1 hydropower plant (HPP) and the Upper Naryn HPPs cascade. The expected decision officially put an end to Kyrgyzstan’s prospects of attaining energy independence in the foreseeable future.
By Fariz Ismailzade
February 19th, 2016, The CACI Analyst
After a decade of cold relations, Azerbaijan and Iran are eager to warm up to each other, as both nations are hungry for foreign investments and boosted regional trade. As world oil prices hit low levels, Azerbaijan and Iran are looking for ways to develop their non-oil economy, integrate regional transport networks and boost mutually advantageous business projects. In that respect, thorny political issues that have dominated the bilateral relations appear to have been put on the backburner. President Ilham Aliyev’s upcoming visit to Iran will aim at lifting Azerbaijani-Iranian relations to a new high.
By Umida Hashimova
February 10th, the CACI Analyst
Uzbekistan and Russia are working to develop a governmental agreement on organized job placements for potential labor migrants from Uzbekistan to Russia. Such agreements usually mean that future employees will have an agreed job, salary, place to live, insurance, and all permission papers for employment before they leave their home country. Some have interpreted this as a sign of warming relations between the two countries by which Russia is easing the conditions for about two million migrants from Uzbekistan in exchange for some sort of concessions by Uzbekistan’s government.
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.