Caspian Weekly Roundup
Serzh Sargsyan Resigns after Days of Protests, Karen Karapetyan a Sargsyan ally, assumes PM’s powers
After eleven days of protests in Yerevan, Serzh Sargsyan has resigned from the position of Prime Minister of Armenia. The protests, which began even before Sargsyan was confirmed, involved around 40,000 people, including unarmed members of Armenia’s military. The demonstrators were met by police and threats from the government that illegal actions would be punished, but they were not deterred. In response to the demonstrations, Sargsyan announced on April 23 that he would accede to the demands of Armenians and step down from the post of prime minister. In his final address as Prime Minister, Sargsyan said that he had been wrong to become Prime Minister and he acknowledged that Nikol Pashinyan, the opposition leader and organizer of the protests who was arrested and then released, was right for leading protests.
Kyrgyz President Jeenbekov Fires Cabinet
On April 19, Kyrgyzstan’s President Sooronbai Jeenbekov sacked his cabinet after it lost a no-confidence vote in the parliament. This latest round of political change includes the firing of Prime Minister Sapar Isakov, who was a holdover from the time of former president Almazbek Atambayev. Isakov’s replacement has been confirmed to be Jeenbekov’s chief of staff Mukhammedkaliy Abylgaziyev. Atambayev originally supported Jeenbekov as a candidate for president, but has since rescinded it as the gap between the two men has grown. Jeenbekov has already removed other high-level officials in the state security service and the prosecutor-general’s office who had been appointed by Atambayev.
New Prime Minister in Azerbaijan, several other ministers changed
On 21 April, the Milli Majlis (parliament) of Azerbaijan unanimously approved the candidacy of Novruz Mammadov for the post of a prime minister. The 83-year-old Artur Rasizade, who had held this post since 1996 has been dismissed with honors.
Previously, he has led the Department of International Politics in the office of the President. Mammadov is a professor of philology, specializing in French. He has worked in diplomatic missions in Algeria and Guinea. He was a personal translator (from French) of the former President of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev. Mammadov is also one of the most active Twitter users among Azerbaijani officials.
Russian and NATO Military Chiefs Meet in Baku, Azerbaijan
On April 19, chief of the Russian military’s General Staff General Valery Gerasimov met with U.S. Army General Curtis Scaparrotti, who is NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe. The meeting in Baku, Azerbaijan was the first one on one meeting between top military commanders of Russia and a NATO state since Russia’s invasion of Crimea in 2014 and the subsequent deployment of NATO forces in eastern Europe. During the talks, the parties reportedly discussed Russian and NATO military activities in Europe, ways to improve trust between them, and the situation in Syria.
CIS Members Meet in Kazan
Last week, representatives from states belonging to the Commonwealth of Independent States (a military alliance headed by Russia), convened in Kazan, Russia. The participants discussed the current military and political situation and assessed challenges to security in the CIS space. They also approved the outcomes of the CIS Defense Ministers’ Council, which outlined a plan for military cooperation in 2018 and began preliminary work on a plan for 2019.
SCO Defense Ministers Convene
On April 23, just a few days after the CIS meeting, defense ministers from Shanghai Cooperation Organization member states met in Beijing to discuss matters of international security. This includes representatives from the Caspian Region states of Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. Specifically, they are considering how to address new threats in the SCO zone and ways to improve overall military cooperation between SCO states.
Iranian Foreign Minister Discusses Iran Deal with US Officials
On April 18, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif embarked on a six day visit to the United States. He will first participating in a UN Meeting on Peacebuilding and Sustaning Peace and then is expected to speak with the US Council on Foreign Relations. News reports say that Zarif will discuss the situation in Syria and the Iran nuclear deal, which US President Donald Trump has consistently threatened to withdraw from. Zarif has personally stated previously that an abrogation of the treaty by the US would result in displeasure from the international community, much of which remains hesitant to invest in Iran due to their fear that the US may reimpose sanctions.
Further Cooperation Between Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan
On a regional level, prospects for improving cooperation between neighboring areas of Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan seem to be promising. A recent meeting between government officials and businessmen from the Balkan region of Turkmenistan and the Mangistau region of Kazakhstan took place in Turkmenbashi, Turkmenistan. Kazakh businessmen expressed their interest in investing in Turkmenistan and undertaking joint ventures with Turkmen businessmen. Both sides said they wanted to take advantage of the opportunities to maximize bilateral trade and improve cooperation in the energy, transport, and industrial sectors.
Turkey Continues to fight PKK
According to the Turkish army, 4,254 terrorists have so far been neutralized during Operation Olive Branch in Syria. Despite gaining a foothold in Afrin and expelling many PKK members, Turkish forces have not subsided. They continue to carry out operations against residual groups of terrorists in Syria and against PKK members in eastern provinces of Turkey and northern Iraq.
Uzbekistan and Tajikistan Hold Another Meeting
Last week, the Chairman of the State Security Service of Uzbekistan Ihtiyor Abdullaev hosted Chairman of the State Committee of National Security of Tajikistan Saymumin Yatimov in Tashkent. The two parties discussed countering international terrorism, religious extremism, and drug and arms trafficking. Both countries recognized that they have similar security concerns and that primary threats are terrorist groups in Afghanistan and foreign fighters returning to Central Asia from the Middle East.
The New Agreement between Kazakhstan and South Korea
On April 20, 2018, Ministry for Investments and Development, RK and the government agency of South Korea have signed a memorandum.
the memorandum will provide mutual aid in research, planning, promotion and development of intelligent transport system. The key directions of interaction were scientific-research, educational and trade cooperation.
Sources: The Guardian, Reuters, Eurasia Net, Washington Post, Trend News Agency, TASS, AzerNews, Hurriyet Daily News, Daily Sabah, AzerNews