LISD’s current project work on Central Asia and the Caucasus connects to the Institute's work on Afghanistan and the region. As the northern neighbors of Afghanistan, the Central Asian republics are impacted and impact key developments in Afghanistan. Project research focuses on issues including security, governance and corruption, energy policy and economic development, drug trafficking, human rights, and regional stability and power dynamics.
As the project develops, LISD intends to pursue research in the following areas:
- Energy oil, gas, and water: Topics of interest include economic and political aspects of pipelines, Russian and Chinese interests, Caspian energy politics which will include Iran, Central Asian energy politics in relation to the Caucasus, energy generation in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan and utilization of the same by Iran and Afghanistan, and EU involvement in Central Asian energy issues. The question of water distribution and utilization involves all of the Central Asian states and Afghanistan and is an essential issue.
- Economic development and economic diversity: Topics of interest include long- and short-term development of the economies of Central Asia with political and sociological implications, command vs. free market economies, Chinese, Russian, American and European models, competing economic interests of China and Russia, potential economic relations of Central Asia with and through the Southeast Asia market/transit corridor, and the roles of Turkey and other regional actors.
- Political development in the short and long term: Topics of interest include models of state (Russia, China, EU and US), the implications of color revolutions and the Arab Spring in real and assumed political equations, the US presence in Central Asia as a factor in political identities, twenty-first century power dynamics, and the Iranian and Afghan factors. Within the context of economic development (point 2 above) and political development, the issues of drugs, corruption and crime will also be examined.
- Security issues in Central Asia: Subsets in this section include the individual goals and actions of the Central Asian states, the inter-state problems and relations with and intentions of China and Russia; the role of the US and EU and the ongoing implications of Afghanistan now with more reduced international presence. The presence of Islamic fundamentalism and an examination of its implications as a regional reality and a useful excuse for political control should form an important part of the discussion.
- Social values and cultural connections: Topics of interest include globalization as a driver of change in Central Asia, portals to the world and how they change the dynamic of life, different social/religious/political ideologies and perceptions in Central Asia.
- Human Rights and Political Freedom: Topics of interest include political structures and the questions of to what extent the rulers will hold on to power and how and whether democratic institutions will develop; religious practice; and freedom of the press which has been slow to develop and in some cases movement has been backwards rather than forward.