Saturday, 01 January 2011 00:00

CACI Spring 2011 Fellows

The program continues to generate a significant interest in the region and we have received a significant number of highly qualified applications. Upon concluding a multiphase selection process CACI and the Rumsfeld Foundation are pleased to announce winners for the spring 2011 session.


Dr. Mohammad Omar Sharifi (Afghanistan), 32, is the director of the American Institute of Afghanistan Studies, Kabul Office. He is also a member of the advisory board of the Civil Society Development Center (CSDC). A native of Kabul, he was born in 1978 and graduated from Nadira High School in 1995, and the Kabul Medical Institute in 2003. Following his medical studies, he worked as the head of research and publications for the Foundation for Culture and Civil Society in Kabul, and director of Open Media Fund for Afghanistan. From 2006 to 2008, he studied Cultural Anthropology at Columbia University in New York under a Fulbright Fellowship. Mr. Omar Sharifi has written several essays and papers on politics and social issues in Afghanistan, and his articles are published in national and international journals. Research project – "Building Legitimacy: Meeting the Gap between Center and Periphery."

1003QeyamatMr. Sulaiman Qeyamat (Afghanistan), 29, is a Fellow at the Afghanistan’s Center for Research and Policy Studies. His areas of interest include governance, public policy, and democratic transformation. Mr. Qeyamat has worked with different international organizations including the Friedrich-Ebert-Foundation and the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs since 2006. While working with these organizations, his work mainly focused on youth empowerment, civil society capacity building, gender, democratic representation and political parties. He served as Project Coordinator for the Afghan Young Leaders Forum (YLF) from 2006-2008, empowering potential Afghan youth to take local initiatives and raise democratic awareness among youth groups across Afghanistan. Mr. Qeyamat has been an elected volunteer member of the Young Leaders Forum since late 2004. He led a delegation of Afghan Young Leaders to an outgoing visit titled Young Leaders Enhancing Capacities in Political Participation to Europe in May and June of 2008. He also represented Afghan youth at the International Youth Dialogue on Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) Conference in Berlin, Germany in October 2005.  Mr. Qeyamat holds a Masters Degree in Medical Sciences from Kabul Medical University (2005).  Recently he was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to study for his Masters Degree in Public Policy (MPP) in the US later on in this year.  Research project – “Democracy on the Grassroots: Embedding Democracy in Afghan Communities, Drawing Lessons from US Expertise.”

1003RzayevaMs. Gulmira Rzayeva (Azerbaijan), 28, is a research fellow at the Center for Strategic Studies (CSS) under the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan. Her area of expertise lays in energy security issues such as energy policy of Azerbaijan, and Black Sea/Caspian region energy security. Prior to CSS she worked for the international organization SCI-Hellas (Service Civil International) as a placement officer in Athens, Greece. Last fall within the “Exchange Visiting Scholars Program” existing between CSS and the Moscow Carnegie Center Ms. Rzayeva worked at the Moscow Carnegie Center as a visiting research fellow.  Over the years she has participated in a number of international conferences on energy security issues organized by leading think tanks in Azerbaijan and abroad, and has also written several publications.  Ms. Rzayeva holds a BA in international relations from the Baku Slavic University (2003), and a MA in Global Affairs from the University of Buckingham, UK (2008).  She is fluent in Azerbaijani, English, Russian, and Turkish with a working knowledge of Greek. Research Project – “US Perspectives on the South Caucasus Energy Policy.”

1003YeraliMr. Asset Yerali (Kazakhstan), 30, is a Project Director at KUN Renewables JSC where he manages an innovative and strategic project on the construction of an integrated poly-silicon plant (solar industry) in Kazakhstan.  This is a priority project for the country and has been included in the Kazakhstan National 30 Corporate Leaders program, which is being implemented within the framework of the President’s Industrial and Innovation Development Strategy by 2015.  Prior to his current position, Mr. Yerali worked for private sector initiatives in order to develop new investment projects in Kazakhstan.  Mr. Yerali was member of the team working on the Kazakhstan Competitiveness Program implemented by the Center for Marketing and Analytical Research under the Ministry of Economy and Budget Planning of Kazakhstan in cooperation with JE Austin Associates and Economic Competitiveness Group.  Mr. Yerali holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in International Relations from the Middle East Technical University, Turkey (2004). Research project – “Prospects for Renewable Energy exports from Kazakhstan as part of its move away from oil-dependency.”

1003AsanovMr. Baktybek Asanov (Kyrgyzstan), 33, is a Managing Director of Closed Joint Stock Company “Textonic” which is exploring oil and gas under the Australian companies, “Santos” and “Caspian Oil and Gas, Ltd”. At the same time, Mr. Asanov is an advisor to the Secretary of the Investment Council under the President of the Kyrgyz Republic where his responsibility is assisting the Secretary in improving policy dialog between the government and business, and encouraging institutional reforms to support the investment. He is also a member of several business promotion organizations (International Business Council, Bishkek Business Club). Prior to his current positions Mr. Asanov served as a Commercial Attaché at the Embassy of the Kyrgyz Republic in Japan where he was in charge of improving the economical relations between the Kyrgyz Republic and Japan. He also has experience in working in the Japanese metal trading company Advanced Material of Japan (AMJ Co. Ltd.). Mr. Asanov holds a BA in Oriental Studies and International Relations from Bishkek Humanities University (1999), and a MA in Social Science (International Economics) from the Iwate University (Japan, 2003). He is fluent in Japanese, English, Russian and Kyrgyz.  Research project – “The Dialog between Government and Business Community.”

1003BabaevDr. Mukhammadi Babaev (Tajikistan), 29, is a professional banker, manager, and researcher with vast professional experience in areas of macroeconomic and trade liberalization policy, international financing, etc. He currently serves as a Deputy Director of the International Financial Relations Department at OSJC “Agroinvestbank”, is the Chairman of the Board of the Tajik Branch of the Open Society Institute-Assistance Foundation, and a Senior Lecturer at International Economic Relations Department of Tajik National University. Dr. Babaev holds a BA in Finance and Credit (2001), and a MA in International Economic Relations (2003) from the Tajik National University as well as a Law degree (2003) from the Russian Slavic Tajik University.  In addition, he has a Master of Science Degree in Development Economics from the University of Manchester (2004) and a Degree of Candidate of Economic Sciences (VAK of the Russian Federation – 2007). Dr. Babaev has attended various professional training courses on strategic management, corporate governance in the banking sector, art of trade negotiations, remittances and its measuring methodology. He has conducted researches on macroeconomic forecasting, growth and development perspectives of Tajikistan, the business environment in Tajikistan, and cooperation of Tajikistan with EVRAZES. He is also an author of numerous publications including the Asian Development Bank (ADB) Country Report on Tajikistan on Remittances and Financial Sector, a textbook, and several articles. Research project – “Formation of Market Institutes in an Open Economy: The Case of Tajikistan.”






  • New Article Series on Changing Geopolitics of Central Asia and the Caucasus
    Wednesday, 24 November 2021 11:53


  • CACI Initiative on Religion and the Secular State in Central Asia and the Caucasus
    Sunday, 24 January 2021 13:53

    In 2016, the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Program launched an initiative on documenting the interrelationship of religion and the secular state in the region. This initiative departed from the fact that little systematic reserch had been undertaken on the subject thus far. While there was and remains much commentary and criticism of religious policy in the region, there was no comprehensive analysis available on the interrelationship of religion and the state in any regional state, let alone the region as a whole. The result of this initiative has been the publication of six Silk Road Papers studying the matter in regional states, with more to come. In addition, work is ongoing on a volume putting the regional situation in the context of the Muslim world as a whole.


    Case Studies

    Each study below can be freely downloaded in PDF format.


    Azerbaijan's Formula: Secular Governance and Civil Nationhood
    By Svante E. Cornell, Halil Karaveli, and Boris Ajeganov
    November 2016   

    2018-04-Kazakhstan-SecularismReligion and the Secular State in Kazakhstan
    By Svante E. Cornell, S. Frederick Starr and Julian Tucker
    April 2018




    1806-UZ-coverReligion and the Secular State in Uzbekistan
    Svante E. Cornell and Jacob Zenn
    June 2018




    2006-Engvall-coverReligion and the Secular State in Kyrgyzstan
    Johan Engvall
    June 2020

     Event video online


    2006-Clement-coverReligion and the Secular State in Turkmenistan
    Victoria Clement
    June 2020

    Event video online




    Articles and Analyses

    Svante E. Cornell, "Religion and the State in Central Asia," in Ilan Berman, ed., Wars of Ideas: Theology, Interpretation and Power in the Muslim World, Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2021.

    Svante E. Cornell, "Central Asia: Where Did Islamic Radicalization Go?" in Religion, Conflict and Stability in the Former Soviet Union, eds. Katya Migacheva and Bryan Frederick, Arlington, VA: RAND Corporation, 2018.

  • Basic Principles for the Rehabilitation of Azerbaijan's Post-Conflict Territories
    Wednesday, 07 October 2020 09:01

    Rehab-coverIn 2010, the CACI-SRSP Joint Center cooperated with Eldar Ismailov and Nazim Muzaffarli of the Institute for Strategic Studies of the Caucasus to produce a study of the methodology and process for the rehabilitation of the occupied territories in Azerbaijan. The study was written in the hope that it would prove useful in the aftermath of a negotiated solution to the conflict.

    Such a resolution nevertheless did not materialize. At present, however, it appears that some of these territories are returning to Azerbaijani control as a result of the military conflict that began in late September, 2020. While it is regrettable that this did not come to pass as a result of negotiations, it is clear that the challenge of rehabilitating territories is as pressing today as it would be in the event of a peaceful resolution - if not more, given the likelihood that such a solution would have included a time-table and provided the Government of Azerbaijan and international institutions time for planning.

    It is clear that the study is a product of a different time, as much has changed since 2010. We fully expcect many updates and revisions to be needed should the recommendations in this study be implemented today. That said, we believe the methodoloy of the study and its conclusions remain relevant and would therefore like to call attention to this important study, published in English, Russian and Azerbaijani versions.

    Click to download:



  • Resources on the Armenia-Azerbaijan Conflict
    Monday, 05 October 2020 08:19

    Resources on the Armenia-Azerbaijan Conflict


    The Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Program have a long track record of covering the Armenia-Azerbaijan Conflict. This page presents the key resources and most recent analysis. 

    In 2017, Palgrave published the first book-length study of the International Politics of the Armenia-Azerbaijan Conflict, edited by Svante Cornell. The book concluded by arguing that if international efforts to resolve the conflict are not stepped up, “the ‘four-day’ war of April 2016 will appear a minor skirmish compared to what is sure to follow”.

    In 2015, CACI & SRSP released the Silk Road Paper  “A Western Strategy for the South Caucasus”, which included a full page of recommendations for the U.S. and EU on the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict. These are reproduced below:


    Develop a substantial and prolonged Western initiative on the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict.

    o This initiative must be led by the United States, in close consultation with its European partners – primarily the EU Commission and External Action Service, and France. Barring some process to reinvigorate the Minsk Process – a doubtful proposition given Western-Russian relations in the foreseeable future – Western leaders must be prepared to bypass that process, utilizing it where appropriate but focusing their initiative on developing direct negotiations between the Armenian and Azerbaijani leaders.

    o The U.S. and its European partners must abandon the practice of relying solely on the Minsk Group co-chairs to resolve the Karabakh conflict. These diplomats have contributed greatly to formulating a workable framework agreement. However, strong and sustained U.S. Government leadership from the top level is needed to complement or, failing that, to replace the Minsk Process. In practice, this means the expressed support of the President, involvement of the White House, and leadership manifested in the appointment of a distinguished citizen as Special Envoy for the resolution of the conflict.

    o The EU must take a more clearly defined and substantial role in the process, by integrating to the highest degree possible the French co-chairmanship of the Minsk Group with EU institutions. While Washington will need to take the lead on the political side, it would be natural for the EU to take the lead in organizing an international development program for the currently occupied Azerbaijani provinces and Karabakh itself. That effort, too, would need to be led by a senior EU figure.


    In 2011, CACI & SRSP helped launch an extensive study of the steps needed for the post-conflict rehabilitation of Azerbaijan's occupied territories, in cooperation with Eldar Ismailov and Nazim Muzaffarli of the Institute for Strategic Studies of the Caucasus. The monograph "Basic Principles for the Rehabilitation of Azerbaijan's Post-Conflict Territories" can be accessed here


    More background resources:

    Svante E. Cornell, "Can America Stop a Wider War Between Armenia and Azerbaijan?", The National Interest, October 2020

    Brenda Shaffer and Svante E. Cornell, Occupied Elsewhere: Selective Policies on Occupation, Foundation For Defense of Democracies, January 2020. 

    Brenda Shaffer and Svante E. Cornell, "The U.S. Needs to Declare War on Proxies", Foreign Policy, January 27, 2020

    Svante E. Cornell, “The Raucous Caucasus”, American Interest, May 2017

    Svante E. Cornell, Small Nations and Great Powers: A Study of Ethnopolitical Conflict in the Caucasus, RoutledgeCurzon, 2001.

    Svante E. Cornell, The Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict, Uppsala University, 1999

    More recent analysis:

    Turkey Seeks to Counter Russia in the Black Sea-Caucasus Region,” Turkey Analyst, 10/5/20, Emil Avdaliani

    Turkey’s Commitment to Azerbaijan’s Defense Shows the Limits of Ankara’s Tilt to Moscow,” Turkey Analyst, 9/25/20, Turan Suleymanov & Bahruz Babayev

     “Cross-Border Escalation between Armenia and Azerbaijan,” Central Asia-Caucasus Analyst, 9/25/20, Natalia Konarzewska

    Russia and Turkey: Behind the Armenia-Azerbaijan Clashes?”, Central Asia-Caucasus Analyst, 8/31/20, Avinoam Idan

    Armenia and the U.S.: Time for New Thinking?”, Central Asia-Caucasus Analyst, 10/2/19, Eduard Abrahamyan.

    Why Washington Must Re-Engage the CaucasusCentral Asia-Caucasus Analyst, 7/8/19, Stephen Blank

    Azerbaijan’s Defense Industry Reform”, Central Asia-Caucasus Analyst, 5/7/19, Tamerlan Vahabov.

    Military Procurements on Armenia's and Azerbaijan's Defense Agendas”, Central Asia-Caucasus Analyst, 3/27/19, Ilgar Gurbanov

    Armenia's New Government Struggles with Domestic and External Opposition,” Central Asia-Caucasus Analyst, 3/20/19, Armen Grigorian.

    Bolton's Caucasian Tour and Russia's Reaction”, Central Asia-Caucasus Analyst, 12/17/18, Eduard Abrahamyan.