Friday, 17 October 2014 13:16

Fall 2014 Rumsfeld Fellowship

9469325398 9a8a07d299 mThe Central Asia-Caucasus Institute and the Rumsfeld Foundation continue to sponsor a fellowship program for raising regional leaders in government, commerce, and academia from Central Asia, the Caucasus and Afghanistan. The goal of this program is to foster better understanding and build stronger relations between the United States and countries of the region. Since its inaugural session in fall of 2008 the program has brought dozens of young leaders to the United States to conduct independent research and to meet policymakers, business leaders, journalists and academics.



Mr. Omer Uloomi (Afghanistan), 36, is the Vice President of the Afghanistan Branch of Hanjin Intermodal America, Inc., a prime contractor for the U.S. Army’s Surface Deployment and Distribution Command (SDDC), Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) and the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA).  These agencies rely on Hanjin to provide line haul and freight services in Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Prior to joining Hanjin Intermodal America, Inc. in 2009, Mr. Uloomi served as the Chief of Logistics with the UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS) in Kabul, where he oversaw logistics and supply chain support for the implementation, rehabilitation and construction of the Afghanistan Secondary Roads, Bridges, Schools and Medical Facilities. From 2003 to 2005, Mr. Uloomi worked as the UNOPS Regional Logistics Manager in Southern Afghanistan directly supporting the first-ever democratic parliamentary and presidential elections in Afghanistan.  For these outstanding efforts and his service, Mr. Uloomi received a prestigious Joint Electoral Management Body (JEMB) Award from the U.N. During the Taliban rule, Mr. Uloomi served with Médecins Sans Frontières, Holland (MSF-H) working on numerous medical service projects in southern Afghanistan. Mr. Uloomi holds a B.A. from the Economic School of Kabul University (2004) and a M.B.A. in Project Management from Preston University in Islamabad, Pakistan (2009). Research project: "The Challenges of Central Asia and the Silk Road Initiatives."

Mr. Wahidullah Waissi (Afghanistan), 38, is the Director-General for Economic Cooperation at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan.  Prior to joining MFA, from 1998 to 2011, he held different positions in national and international NGOs, UNDP, the Afghanistan Aid Coordination Authority, the Ministry of Finance, and the Office of the Senior Economic Adviser to the President. Mr. Waissi has served in different positions, including Director and Formulation Manager for Afghanistan National Development Strategy and Afghanistan Millennium Development Goals; and Senior Policy Advisor to the Ministers of Finance and Foreign Affairs. He has been involved in organizing and coordinating 22 international conferences for Afghanistan in Kabul, Berlin, Paris, Tokyo, Rome, London, Bonn, Delhi, Dushanbe, and other places. At the Foreign Ministry, Mr. Waissi chairs the Economic Diplomacy Committee; coordinates the Regional Economic Cooperation Conference for Afghanistan (RECCA); serves as a National Focal Point for Trade, Commerce and Investment, as well as the Regional Infrastructure Confidence Building Measures in the Heart of Asia process; and is a board member for numerous projects, like TAPI, CASA-1000, Railroads, Mining and Investment. Mr. Waissi is a member of Afghanistan Policy Group, focusing on regional peace and stability with other policy groups from ten member countries. He is also a member of Afghanistan 21 Young Leaders Initiative and a Co-founder and Chair of the Green Club, a voluntary association on environmental issues that promotes awareness and advocates for sustainable development. Mr. Waissi teaches economic development at the University of Afghanistan in Kabul. He holds a M.A. in Development Economics from Williams College in Massachusetts (2005). Research project: "At the Crossroads of Eurasia: The Silk Road through Afghanistan."

Mr. Ara Hovsepyan (Armenia), 40, is the Senior Country Representative of Contour Global LLP in Armenia, an American energy company that invests and runs energy producing plants in different parts of the world. He currently leads Contour Global’s negotiations with the Government of Armenia to acquire Vorotan HPP, the biggest hydropower plant in Armenia. If the deal goes through this will be the largest American investment in Armenia to date. Mr. Hovsepyan’s prior professional experience is both national and international. He started his career in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1995 as a junior diplomat in the Department of International Organizations, responsible for the U.N. and UNESCO affairs. From 2000 to 2006, Mr. Hovsepyan was Head of the Armenia Office in the U.K. Department for International Development (DFID), where he oversaw an annual development projects portfolio of about USD 10 million. From 2006 to 2011, Mr. Hovsepyan served as CEO of the Millennium Challenge Account in Armenia, the U.S. Millennium Challenge Corporation’s USD 250 million development program. In 2011, Mr. Hovsepyan moved to lead the North-South Road Corridor Investment project – a USD 1.5 billion program funded by development banks and the Government of Armenia. Mr. Hovsepyan holds a B.A. from Yerevan State University of Foreign Languages (1995), a M.A. in Political Science and International Relations from the American University of Armenia (1997), and a Post-graduate diploma in International Relations and Diplomacy from Exeter College, Oxford University, UK, as a Chevening Fellow (1999). Research project: "The U.S. perspective on Global Energy Security and Alternative Resources."

Ms. Eka Grigalava (Georgia), 35, is currently an independent consultant with vast experience in both the NGO and private sectors. In her previous job, from 2009 to 2014, she worked as Stakeholder Manager and then as Consultant Stakeholder Advisor for the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) in Zug, Switzerland, where she was responsible for managing the project’s stakeholder relations in three host countries – Greece, Albania and Italy. She has extensive experience in corporate social responsibility, social compliance, project management and stakeholder relations. From 2005 to 2008, Ms. Grigalava worked as NGO and Community Affairs Coordinator at BP Georgia, managing some of the company’s key CSR projects as well as coordinating the production of the main annual publication – BP Georgia Sustainability Report. Prior to moving to the private sector, from 2002 to 2005, Ms. Grigalava was coordinating civic and gender programs at the Tbilisi office of the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI). Ms. Grigalava holds a B.A. in Public Administration from Georgian Technical University (2000) and a M.A. in Public Administration from Georgian Institute of Public Affairs (GIPA, 2001). Research Project: "Beyond Fuels – How Can Countries Better Benefit from Transnational Pipelines."

Dr. Anuar Ayazbekov (Kazakhstan), 32, is the First Secretary at the Department of Foreign Policy Analysis and Forecasting of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan. In this position he is responsible for research and analysis of the foreign policy of Kazakhstan with focus on integration processes and challenges in Central Asia. Prior to joining MFA, Dr. Ayazbekov worked as a researcher at the Analytical Department of the Administration of the President of Kazakhstan in Astana, a researcher in the Kazakhstan Institute for Strategic Studies in Almaty, as well as visiting research fellow at the Japan Institute for International Affairs. Dr. Ayazbekov’s professional and academic interests include Central Asian regional affairs and the diplomatic history of Kazakhstan in the 1990s. Dr. Ayazbekov holds a B.A. in International Relations from KIMEP University in Almaty, Kazakhstan (2003), a M.A. in International Diplomacy from Bond University, Gold Coast, Australia (2004), and Ph.D. in International Relations from the University of St. Andrews, UK (2013). Research project: "Bridging Academia and Policymaking in Kazakhstan."

Ms. Madina Tulesbayeva (Kazakhstan), 36, is a Financial Analyst at ExxonMobil Kazakhstan Inc. where she is responsible for the preparation of financial reports to North Caspian Operating Company, as well as financial operating reporting to the company management. Before taking her current position, she worked on other projects at ExxonMobil Kazakhstan such as Caspian Pipeline Consortium and Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli in the Caspian. Ms. Tulesbayeva has more than 10 years of working experience in the financial sector and, prior to joining ExxonMobil Kazakhstan, worked from 2003-2005 for the National Innovation Fund JSC and from 1999-2003 for the Bank CenterCredit, JSC. Ms. Tulesbayeva holds a B.A. in International Economic Relations from the Kazakh State Academy of Management in Almaty (1999), and a MBA with a specialization in Finance from the Rochester Institute of Technology (2007). Research project: "North Caspian Sea Production Sharing Agreement: Government’s policy and Corporate Governance."

Mr. Talant Sultanov (Kyrgyzstan), 36, is the Director of the National Institute for Strategic Studies of the Kyrgyz Republic, a government think tank, which provides the offices of the President and the Prime Minister with analytical support on economic, political and social issues. Mr. Sultanov is also the Vice President for Finance of the American University of Central Asia (AUCA), where he manages administrative, financial and security matters, as well as issues related to the new campus and dormitory construction projects. Mr. Sultanov is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Microcredit Organization “Humo” in Tajikistan (a volunteer position). Prior to his current positions, Mr. Sultanov worked in Project Finance at Kazkommertsbank in Almaty from 2006 to 2010, then at the World Bank Head Office in Washington, D.C., and in the Central Asia Regional Office in Almaty from 2003 to 2006. Mr. Sultanov holds a B.A. in International Relations from San Francisco State University (1999, Summa Cum Laude), where he graduated as the Top Student in the Program, and a M.A. in International Finance from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA, 2006). Research project: "Kyrgyzstan at the Silk Cross-Roads - Future of the U.S.-Kyrgyz Relations."

Mr. Saintulga Munkhgerel (Mongolia), 29, is the CEO of Khotgor Minerals LLC, a company that is working to develop one of the largest rare earth element deposits in Mongolia. Prior to joining Khotgor Minerals in 2012, Mr. Munkhgerel worked with Rio Tinto Group on its Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold mine development project in Mongolia where he negotiated with the Mongolian government to obtain a license to build the largest power plant in the country. Mr. Munkhgerel also served as a member of two government appointed working groups that negotiated power import terms with a Chinese state owned enterprise and commercial terms for the sale of copper concentrates to the Chinese enterprises. In 2009, while working as a relationship manager at Golomt Bank, Mr. Munkhgerel helped to structure a deal between Standard Bank, the Mongolian Ministry of Finance, and other Mongolian commercial banks for the funding of gold mining projects worth USD 90 million. Mr. Munkhgerel is also a core organizer for NextGen Mongolia, a community organization for leadership development of young professionals. He holds a B.A. in Economics from the University of the North Carolina at Chapel Hill (2008). Research project: "Policy Development for Imported Raw Materials Critical to U.S. Manufacturing."

Ms. Gunesh Bakgalova (Turkmenistan), 35, is a Senior Legal Counsel and Regulatory Compliance Manager at Schlumberger Corporation in Turkmenistan where she deals with legal and regulatory compliance issues; mitigation, litigation and arbitration; drafting and negotiating contracts for clients and suppliers; as well as represents the company in external affairs. She is also a Country Director for Turkmenistan at INOGATE, the European Commission’s energy program. Prior to her current position, Ms. Bakgalova worked for numerous national agencies, law firms and international organizations including the Ministry of Trade and Foreign Economic Relations, the Ministry of Justice, the National Coordinating Unit of the Cabinet of Ministers of Turkmenistan, ABA Rule of Law Initiative in Turkmenistan, OSCE Center in Ashgabat, AK Counsel-SNR Denton, PPG Industries Inc., and Miller & Martin PLLC. In 2012,             Ms. Bakgalova was honored by the Government of Turkmenistan and the European Commission as one of the top practicing lawyers to develop the first-ever trilingual interpretive legal dictionary in Turkmenistan. Ms. Bakgalova holds a LL.B. from the School of Law & International Economic Relations of the Turkmen State University (1999, Summa Cum Laude), a LL.M. from the Law School at the University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (2009), and a M.A. in Political Science from the Institute for European Politics in Berlin, Germany (2012). Research project: "Combating Money Laundering and Corruption in Turkmenistan."

Mr. Mirzo Ibragimov (Uzbekistan), 32, is the Deputy Head of the Political and Public Diplomacy Section at the British Embassy in Uzbekistan. His role requires him to manage and coordinate the Embassy’s project, media and public diplomacy activities. He also contributes to analysis of main political and economic developments in Uzbekistan and in the region. From 2008 to 2012, Mr. Ibragimov held the post of Program Officer for Armed, Police and Security Forces at the International Committee of the Red Cross Delegation for Central Asia, where he implemented activities designed to build capacity of the Ministries of Defense and Internal Affairs in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan in the fields of Law of Armed Conflict and international human rights standards regulating the use of force in law enforcement operations. Prior to joining the ICRC, Mr. Ibragimov interned in the European Anti-Fraud Office in Brussels and the International Criminal Court in the Hague, where he practiced his knowledge in European and International Law, and judicial and law enforcement co-operation in criminal matters. In 2006, in the Office of the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities, Mr. Ibragimov conducted research on political and legal issues relating to the protection of the national minorities of Central Asia. Mr. Ibragimov holds a LL.B. in International Law from the University of World Economy and Diplomacy in Tashkent (2005), and a M.A. in Political Science from the OSCE Academy in Bishkek. Research project: "The Russia-Ukraine Crisis and Its’ Implications for Central Asia: Challenges and Opportunities."





  • 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.