Terrorism, Volume 4, No. More than Islamic extremists , The Washington Quarterly, Aside from illustrating the latent character of armed conflict in the region in general and in Chechnya in particular, the recent upsurge of violence in Chechnya contains particularities that may have far-reaching consequences.
That is unlikely to change under the Trump Administration. Yet recent developments in Central Asia, particularly in Uzbekistan, do offer an opportunity to advance U. The two key countries in this possible opportunity for the U.
In this context, Beijing has carefully shaped a military strategy in the region, particularly in neighboring Tajikistan. In September , Beijing offered to finance and build several outposts and other military facilities in addition to the Gulhan post, which was opened in to beef up Tajikistan's defense capabilities along its border with Afghanistan, whereas China's and Tajikistan's militaries performed a large counter-terrorism exercise in October These unexpected actions have raised concerns in Russia over rising Chinese influence in Tajikistan.
On December 18, a counter-terrorist operation CTO launched in the aftermath resulted in the death of four more insurgents, whereas four remaining members of a militant cell were arrested. Three police officers were killed and one injured. While the confrontation between militants and police in Grozny was only the fourth conflict-related incident in the republic during , it demonstrates that ISIS still has the capacity to target Chechen security forces.
In October, PLA and Tajik forces jointly participated in counterterrorism exercises in Tajikistan near the border with Afghanistan, following earlier activity in 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.
The Prime Minister and acting Interim President Shavkat Mirziyoev became president-elect by defeating three competitors in a highly asymmetric campaign characterized by the utilization of so-called administrative resources. The campaign also revealed rising new expectations on the part of the Uzbek nation after a quarter-century of one-person rule. Uzbekistan — a downstream country — has permanently and vigorously rejected and resisted the project referring to numerous risks associated with Rogun for all downstream countries.
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. In the years since independence, bilateral relations have been plagued by mistrust, disputes over water resources and outright hostility.
Both sides have adopted a series of punitive measures against each other. This relatively low-scale increase in military confrontations between militants and security forces in the region nonetheless indicates a steady recovery of non-ISIS Islamist cells, which have been in decline since the emergence of ISIS in the region. The prospect of gas deliveries from Turkmenistan to European markets is disconcerting for Moscow, which regards the monopolization of gas supply to Europe as one of its major geopolitical and geoeconomic goals.
While Chechnya-based jihadist groups now number a few dozen fighters, jamaats operating in Kabardino-Balkaria and Karachay have been nearly wrecked. In Ingushetia, a few insurgent groups remain numbering a couple of dozen members.
In Dagestan, the epicenter of the regional insurgents, several jamaats have survived and number around a hundred active members. Yet has the regional insurgency indeed been defeated? Taking a closer look, however, it becomes apparent that virtually all such claims lack a sound foundation and that the remaining, more specific hints like reported sightings of black flags also stand on shaky ground.
Consequentially, and contrary to the eastern parts of Afghanistan, there is no compelling evidence of a presence of the self-styled Caliphate in northern Afghanistan and, hence, also no immediate threat to Central Asia. The SCO summit of June was, symbolically speaking, a second — multilateral — platform created in the same place, Tashkent, for the same two states to restore peace.
While most human rights organizations and journalists were pushed out of Chechnya in the s, the recent wave of violence has been particularly aggressive and threaten to remove the last resort for complaints on human rights violations as well as the only remaining sources of data on such violations in the republic.
The Aral Sea — which became a symbol of environmental mismanagement and environmental catastrophe at the end of the 20th century — shows that sustainable development policies can help to deal with even the most difficult water issues.
Conversely, however, mismanagement and border conflicts over water might worsen the situation, leading to further political and economic tensions. The current question is whether Kazakhstan can collaborate with other Central Asian states in saving and perhaps reviving the Aral Sea.
Mansour was returning from Taftan, Iran, where he had gone for medical treatment, to his residence near the provincial capital Quetta, a mile journey. Mansour and his driver had completed roughly two-thirds of the nine-hour trip. Some observers connected these two events as links in the same chain. Indeed, both cases revolve around so-called frozen conflicts in the post-Soviet space; where one of the conflicting sides is a CSTO member and the other is not; and where speculations proliferate of a hidden Russian hand in both the instigation and mediation of the clashes.
The two conflicts can be seen as a by-product of the same process — the continuing divergence of the former single Soviet space. This extraordinary interest in a seemingly academic subject had clear political undertones: Despite the existence of clearly pro-Russian attitudes in this region, Moscow has not supported them out of fear that it could raise extremist forms of nationalism in Russia, which would be highly problematic for the Kremlin.
It was the most well-known militant group in Central Asia and abroad, even though it was in exile in Afghanistan and Pakistan under the protection of the Taliban and al-Qaeda. Years of drone strikes and counter-insurgency operations failed to eliminate the IMU. Ironically, however, it was neither the U. Not only do these texts veto their membership in NATO, but they exclude mutually profitable partnerships for these countries with the European Union and other Western institutions, constrain their domestic development, and encourage the suppression of civil liberties by warning of fictitious Western plots to change their regimes under the guise of democracy promotion and human rights.
Kavkaz , the main strategic military exercise of the year, will take place in the Southern Military District MD , while Tsentr 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 st Base in Tajikistan from divisional to brigade status. The purpose of the special operation was to break the backbone of the Muslim Unity group, a purportedly militant Shiite organization.
The context and implications of the Nardaran events have received little attention in Western media, despite the concerns raised both within and outside the region about Azerbaijan finding itself on the brink of religiously inspired civil unrest.
His agenda focused on reassuring the regional governments that the United States cares about their concerns, specifically Afghanistan and religious extremism. Kerry also highlighted U. He further developed bilateral cooperation with each Central Asian government. It will require sustained follow-through by the current and next U. Frederick Starr and Svante E. Some of these have been external, while many have been internal to the region.
Yet if Europe works with Central Asian states, it stands to benefit greatly from this process. This would involve work to make the transport corridors more attuned to market logic; to promote the development of soft infrastructure; to pay attention to the geopolitics of transport and support the Caucasus and Caspian corridor; and not least, to look ahead to the potential of linking Europe through Central Asia not just to China, but also to the Indian subcontinent.
Huseyn Aliyev, Emil A. The minister claimed that all the 11 targets, located around 1, kilometers from the warships, were destroyed over two days. Russian authorities and pro-regime media have considered the strikes a big success. While information soon resurfaced that some cruise missiles had landed on Iranian soil, the fact that the October strike is definite proof of the failed attempts to turn the landlocked water basin into a demilitarized zone has received less attention.
As a first manifestation of this dialogue platform, Kerry made a Central Asian tour in early November. Russian authorities stated that the maneuvers aimed to help CSTO members develop means to effectively move airborne forces and other troops to conflict zones, including in Central Asia. Russia aims to establish itself as a key player from the Caspian Basin in the east, via the Black Sea, to the Eastern Mediterranean.
Fourteen political parties competed, and six were able to pass the national and regional thresholds to win seats. Moscow is actively utilizing the risks and threats stemming from the ISIS to boost its clout in the near and far abroad.
Elites within the Tajik state continually compete for political influence and economic gain. These struggles occasionally break out into violence. Ironically, such conflicts are actually useful for the regime. They allow it to legitimize a purge of potentially disloyal members and a crackdown on other opponents.
Many have pointed to this process as a sign of the changing paradigm of the regional resistance, which is being transformed into — or absorbed by — the global jihadist insurgency. But these assumptions can be challenged by a look at the internal dynamics, the distance from key hotbeds of jihadist violence, and the limits of the North Caucasian insurgency. It adopted a Development Strategy towards and admitted India and Pakistan as full members. Uzbekistan and Tajikistan are currently confronted with a host of shared challenges ranging from the threat of radical Islam to socioeconomic instability, while their bilateral relationship is still constrained by unsettled disputes from the past.
Local governments are gravely concerned about returning fighters and possible ISIS infiltration in the region, and foreign powers, especially neighboring Russia and China, have expressed their deep concerns. This grim picture, however, obscures a more complex, and perhaps more accurate, story. Might the specter of ISIS have less to do with its on-the-ground ability to destabilize the region and more to do with the geopolitical concerns of those who are stating these threats?
It is, however, only the latest in a long line of such paradigms to take root in the region, competing with the Caucasus Emirate, Chechen nationalism and other forms of ethnic separatism. In addition, tighter migration regulations in Russia, in force since early , are having an effect on the flow of migration from Central Asia, particularly from Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. These three countries rely heavily on remittances from their migrant workers in Russia.
His death came at a time of profound decline of the North Caucasian jihadists, coupled with the ongoing split in their ranks as an increasing number of fighters and insurgent leaders turn to the Islamic State IS. Upcoming months will show whether the North Caucasus insurgency, and particularly its Dagestani branch, will become dominated by IS sympathizers and ink up with the global jihad, or remain a largely local endeavor.
Since mid, this hotbed of the North Caucasian insurgency has witnessed a gradual split, with numerous Dagestan-based jihadist commanders pledging oath bayat to the leader of the Islamic State, Abu-Bakr al-Baghdadi.
Given the North Caucasian and Dagestani jamaats' weakening capacity, the ongoing developments in Dagestan could break the unity in this last bastion of the regional insurgency. With the continuous departure of Islamist volunteers from that Russian region to the Middle East, in the number of casualties, among both militants and security forces, have decreased by more than half, compared to the previous year.
While observers associate the current de-escalation of violence with the outflow of large numbers of North Caucasian youth to join Islamic State IS and with internal conflicts within the North Caucasus Islamist underground Caucasus Emirate , reasons behind the recent decline of insurgency-related activities are likely to be more complex. While Dagestanis have primarily focused on evaluating the implications of this single case of lethal violence, their debates have unfolded against the background of increasingly frequent attacks carried out by members of local jihadi groups — jamaats — against targets deemed anti-Islamic according to Salafi dogma.