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  • Author: Paul A. Goble
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Jamestown Foundation
  • Abstract: Azerbaijan’s victory in the Second Karabakh War (September 29–November 9) has had a transformative effect on the country. It not only changed the attitudes of its population, whose members now feel themselves to be heroes rather than victims (see EDM, January 21), but also bolstered the diplomatic weight and possibilities of the Azerbaijani government in its dealings with other regional states. In prosecuting a triumphant war against Yerevan, Baku demonstrated its own ability to act. But just as importantly, Azerbaijan has shown to peoples and governments in the Caucasus and Central Asia that it is a force to be reckoned with, in part thanks to its growing links with Turkey. Moreover, that alliance makes possible an appealing path to the outside world for all who join it. That reality is causing countries east of the Caspian to look westward to and through Azerbaijan in their economic planning and political calculations. At the same time, however, these developments are generating concerns in Moscow and Tehran, which oppose east-west trade routes that bypass their countries’ territories and instead favor north-south corridors linking Russia and Iran together. As a result, Azerbaijan’s recent successes in expanding links with Central Asia set the stage for new conflicts between Azerbaijan and its Turkic partners, on the one hand, and Russia and Iran, which have far more significant naval assets in the Caspian, on the other (see EDM, November 27, 2018 and February 20, 2020; Casp-geo.ru, December 24, 2019; Chinalogist.ru, November 21, 2019).
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Territorial Disputes, Conflict, Trade
  • Political Geography: Russia, Iran, Central Asia, Middle East, Azerbaijan
  • Author: Pavel Felgenhauer
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Jamestown Foundation
  • Abstract: The Second Karabakh War, between Armenia and Azerbaijan, began on September 27, 2020, and ended on November 9, 2020, with a Russian-brokered and guaranteed agreement. The conflict claimed the lives of thousands of Armenian and Azerbaijani soldiers. But after 44 days of fierce fighting, it concluded with Yerevan soundly defeated: Armenia lost territory occupied during the First Karabakh War in 1992–1994 as well as over 30 percent of prewar Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast—a region of Soviet Azerbaijan majority populated by ethnic Armenians. Today, the rump self-proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR or “Artsakh”)—still controlled by Armenians and not recognized by anyone—is fully surrounded by Azerbaijani troops and territory. The rump Karabakh “republic’s” perimeter is guarded by some 2,000 Russian “peacekeepers” who also control the so-called Lachin corridor, the only highway left open from Armenia proper to Karabakh through the city of Lachin. The future of the rump NKR and its Armenian population is unclear. Baku refuses to discuss any special administrative status for the territory, insisting Armenians born in the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast or their descendants must disarm and apply for Azerbaijani citizenships to stay as a minority inside Azerbaijan. In turn, the NKR leadership has declared Russian an official language alongside Armenian to avoid use of Azerbaijani Turkish (Izvestia, February 17). Officials in Stepanakert (Khankendi in Azerbaijani) apparently hope this may tempt Moscow to keep its peacekeepers in Karabakh permanently and maybe eventually agree to annex the NKR outright.
  • Topic: Weapons , Conflict, Crisis Management
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia, Eastern Europe, Nagorno-Karabakh
  • Author: Jacob Lees Weiss
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Jamestown Foundation
  • Abstract: On December 20, 2020, 21 Katyusha rockets struck the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, breaking an Iranian-sponsored ceasefire in Iraq for a second time (U.S. Central Command, December 23, 2020). The Iraqi security forces later arrested a member of the Iraqi political and militant organization Asaib Ahl al-Haq (AAH), Hussam al-Azirjawi, after finding conclusive evidence of his involvement in the attack (al-Hurra, December 26, 2020). Following al-Azirjawi’s arrest, multiple widely-shared clips on social media appeared to show a large mobilization of armed AAH militants in East Baghdad. A further clip showing masked AAH gunmen threatening to attack Iraqi security forces on command from AAH leader, Qais al-Khazali (al-Arabiya, December 25 2020). These arrests and video clips reveal that AAH has begun to show increasing signs of dissent from the party line set by Iran and its most loyal proxy in Iraq, Kata’ib Hezbollah.
  • Topic: Non State Actors, Conflict, Militias, Resistance
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Sudha Ramachandran
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Jamestown Foundation
  • Abstract: Tensions between India and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) have remained high ever since violent clashes occurred in the Galwan Valley region in mid-June, resulting in the deaths of 20 Indian Army soldiers and an undisclosed number of People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops (Jamestown, June 29; China Brief, July 15). A significant new development occurred on the night of August 29-30, when the Indian Army took control of strategic heights at the southern bank of the Pangong Tso, a lake in eastern Ladakh that straddles the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the de facto border between India and China. The operation was significant: it was the first time since the eruption of tensions along the LAC in May that the Indian Army preempted the Chinese from unilaterally altering the status quo (The Telegraph, September 2).
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Territorial Disputes, Armed Forces, Conflict, Borders
  • Political Geography: China, India, Asia, Tibet
  • Author: Paul A. Goble
  • Publication Date: 12-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Jamestown Foundation
  • Abstract: The Azerbaijani military’s use of Bayraktar TB2 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), purchased from Turkey, played such a prominent role in Baku’s victory over Armenian forces during the Second Karabakh War (September 27–November 9, 2020) that defense analysts around the world are now focusing on how their countries may utilize similar unmanned systems and how they could respond if such drones are used against them (Regnum, accessed December 16; Ecfr.eu., November 24; see EDM, November 9). Notably, Azerbaijan employed its Bayraktars to identify and attack Armenian forces as well as to provide a real-time picture of the battlefield that was useful for both strategic planning and propaganda (see EDM, October 15). Now, Vadim Nozdrya, who heads the Ukrainian arms trade state committee Ukrspetseksport, has announced that Kyiv is prepared to purchase from Turkey 48 of these battle-tested UAVs (Milliyet), December 4). That news is undoubtedly prompting analysts in Moscow to consider how Ukraine could eventually use such drones to threaten Russian control of occupied Crimea or Donbas and what Moscow needs to do in response.
  • Topic: Military Affairs, Weapons , Drones, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Eastern Europe, Azerbaijan, Crimea, Mediterranean
  • Author: Can Kasapoglu
  • Publication Date: 12-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Jamestown Foundation
  • Abstract: In the wake of Azerbaijan’s successful offensive against the dug-in Armenian forces in Karabakh and surrounding Azerbaijani districts, the defense ministers of Turkey and Russia, General (ret.) Hulusi Akar and General Sergei Shoigu, respectively, met on November 11 and penned a memorandum of understanding to broker the ceasefire process in the war-torn region. According to the deal, Ankara and Moscow have, in principle, agreed to establish a joint peace-monitoring headquarters. The Russian foreign policy community has been extremely uneasy to see the Turkish Armed Forces suddenly operating in the South Caucasus, once considered Moscow’s undisputed hinterland (Milliyet, December 3).
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Peacekeeping, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Russia, Turkey, Armenia, Nagorno-Karabakh
  • Author: Brian M. Perkins
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Jamestown Foundation
  • Abstract: The oil-rich governorate of Marib has increasingly become the focal point of the war in Yemen as the Houthis’ determination to take control of the strategic governorate has intensified over the past several months. Marib is the last remaining stronghold in the north for Yemen’s internationally recognized government and is a key strategic territory not only due to its oil fields, but also because it could set the stage for the Houthis to eventually move into key southern governorates, where fractures between the Southern Transitional Council (STC) and pro-government forces show no signs of abating. A Houthi success in Marib would mark a critical tipping point in the war and a major defeat for the government and Saudi coalition, leaving them essentially hemmed in by the Houthis on one side and the Southern Transitional Council on the other. In such a scenario, the Saudi coalition and the Yemeni government would be left with few options other than negotiating from a position of considerable weakness or dragging the losing fight on for far longer than the coalition likely has the will for.
  • Topic: Non State Actors, Conflict, Houthis
  • Political Geography: Yemen, Gulf Nations
  • Author: Michael Horton
  • Publication Date: 11-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Jamestown Foundation
  • Abstract: Neutrality is one of Oman’s greatest assets. Under the leadership of the late Sultan Qaboos bin Said, Oman successfully navigated the fall of the Shah in Iran, the Cold War and its end, the U.S.-led War on Terror, and the Arab Spring. Through all these global and region shape events, Oman has maintained its neutrality and independence. Oman, for example, maintains longstanding relationships with the United States and Great Britain while, at the same time, it enjoys constructive relations with Iran. Moreover, although Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are aligned against Iran, Qatar, and Turkey, Oman has managed to work with all of these countries to address regional issues.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, War, Non State Actors, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Gulf Nations
  • Author: Jacob Lees Weiss
  • Publication Date: 12-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Jamestown Foundation
  • Abstract: On November 12, the Algerian Constitutional Council confirmed amendments that were approved in the country’s November 1 referendum, which allow the Algerian People’s National Armed Forces (APN) to participate in operations outside the country’s borders (El Khabar, November 12). Missions must be approved by a two-thirds majority in each parliamentary chamber and be within the framework of the objectives of the UN, the African Union, and the League of Arab Nations (al-Arab, October 25). The constitutional referendum was the flagship project of Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, who has sought to distinguish his government from that of his predecessor, Abdelaziz Bouteflika.
  • Topic: Constitution, Military Intervention, Conflict, Referendum
  • Political Geography: Libya, Algeria, North Africa