President Barack Obama’s July 2011 deadline for a drawdown of U.S. troops from Afghanistan has raised concerns among Central Asian analysts, who worry that links between the Taliban, al-Qaida and Islamist militants in Central Asia could result in a negative spillover effect following the U.S. withdrawal. As if to highlight their fears, the al-Qaida-linked Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) claimed responsibility for a Sept. 19 attack on a military convoy in Tajikistan, which left 25 military personnel dead. And according to Baktybek Abdrisaev, former Kyrgyz ambassador to the United States and Canada and currently a visiting professor at Utah Valley […]
On Sep. 6, the European Investment Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and the International Financial Corporation (a branch of the World Bank Group) signed a mandate letter with the consortium behind the Nabucco natural gas pipeline, marking the start of an appraisal process that will eventually secure a €4 billion financing package for the project. The three international financial institutions committed €2 billion, €1.2 billion and €800 million, respectively. Along with the more modest €200 million grant provided by the European Commission last March, the contributions will certainly boost confidence in the project among private investors, who […]
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Robert O. Blake held a press briefing on U.S. policy in Central Asia, U.S. cooperation with Russia in the region, and the situation in the Kyrgyz Republic. The briefing occurred at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations in New York City, Sept. 22, 2010. For more on this region, browse WPR articles on Central Asia.
This proposed India-Oman deepwater natural gas pipeline represents a potential major shift in the connectivity networks linking Central Asia to South Asia. Once laid, pipelines help determine geopolitical realities for decades, as a glance at the legacy impact of Soviet-Russian pipelines on Central Asian politics reveals. If the Gulf serves as an effective workaround to bypass the Afghanistan-Pakistan transit route, it would dramatically reduce the strategic logic of stabilizing the Af-Pak region. The fact that Iran is involved in this deal as a source country is also a major plus, as it applies additional commercial constraints on Tehran to keep […]
In early August, at the fourth trilateral summit between Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan held in Tehran, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad urged the leaders of the other two countries to join in an alliance to counterbalance NATO’s growing presence in Central Asia. Though any such formal alliance is unlikely, the declaration reflects Tehran’s desire to play a larger role in Central Asia’s regional dynamics. If Iran has always been geographically part of the regional context of Central Asia and the Caucasus, Tehran’s geopolitical orientation has historically been focused southward, on the Persian Gulf. For more than a century, Iranian interests in […]
Armenia agreed to extend Russia’s lease of a military base in the city of Gyumri until 2044. In an e-mail interview,Kim Iskyan, a director in the Russia and Eurasia practice at Eurasia Group, discusses Russia-Armenia defense relations. WPR: What has historically been Russia and Armenia’s defense relationship? Kim Iskyan: Russia and Armenia have long shared a close relationship, with defense as a critical dimension. Upon the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, there were Soviet bases in all three countries of the Caucasus, but Azerbaijan and Georgia subsequently engineered the departure of the Russian military presence. Armenia, though, wanted […]
At the beginning of July, Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus signed a number of protocols establishing a customs union between the three countries. The union, scheduled to be fully operational in January 2012, will create a single common market of about 170 million people and represents the latest of several attempts by Moscow to create an effective trade bloc with its newly independent neighbors since the break-up of the Soviet Union. In addition to the economic ties maintained through the establishment of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), Russia first committed to a union with Belarus in 1994. That was followed […]