Four Russian cruise missiles intended for launch into Syria, landed in Iran instead. Russian officials hastily released a statement saying that the missiles did not cause any damage and instead focused on the 26 other missiles at 11 targets in northern Syria, reiterating that those hit all their targets. NATO members, in particular border nation Turkey, has complained multiple times of violations of their airspace, which could be considered an act of war, were this the Cold War era.
Iran has not yet released any statements, but only reported through its state controlled news agency that an unknown flying object crashed into a village in the province of West Azerbaijan, and some conservative outlets in the Iranian media even called the downed missiles “psychological operations by the US against Moscow.” US Secretary of State Ash Carter said that Russia launched these missiles without warning, but Moscow maintains all targets were intended for support of Islamic State targets.
In a larger sense, this drives home how large of a theater the Caspian region is turning into and it is unclear how Iran and Russia are cooperating with regards to Syria.
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- While most in the West are praising the efficacy and open nature of the Kyrgyz elections, the future for new Kyrgyz Parliament is looking murky. The Parliament is now even more fractured than before between the ruling Social Democratic Party of Kyrgyzstan (SDPK), closely allied with President Almazbek Atambayev and the rest of the country. The SDPK actually lost seats in Parliament, which leaves it falling short of the number of members need to form a new government in Bishkek – requiring the formation of new coalitions.
- The Former CEO of Centerra Gold, Len Homeniuk, has avoided extradition to Kyrgyzstan on corruption charges. A court in Belgium was holding him to determine the validity of the government’s accusations, the court noting that Kyrgyzstan provided no documentation, no evidence that the statute of limitations still applied to their accusations, and singled out Homeniuk in comparison to other defendants in the case. The failed extradition is only the latest in a long series of events that have degraded the relationship between Centerra Gold, which runs the Kumtor gold mine, and the Kyrgyz government.
- According to the top US General in Afghanistan, much of the country’s Taliban groups are open to peace talks with the Afghan government, but that negotiations will not resume for several more months. However, he noted that major elements of the hostile Taliban, like the Haqqani network, are not as open to peace negotiations, and warned of the rise of Islamic State groups as well.
- Iran is poised after relief from its sanctions to become world’s largest frontier market, with an initial market size of some $500 million, corporations and investors are lining up to be first in line. However, the post-sanctions environment may not be the gold rush currently envisioned, as issues with the domestic customs agency and continuing enforcement of sanctions until evidence of compliance with the nuclear deal is verified by the IAEA have made most international investors extremely cautious.
- The TAPI (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India) Pipeline consortium said it would be finalizing the price of its gas export next week. This comes after a discussion of the cost of project and the shareholders’ agreement, which is assumed to have been the reason behind all the delays in the construction of the pipeline – the issue is not necessarily only the typical areas of costs, but also of risks of going through the most dangerous and war torn areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan.
- Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Iran have introduced a single tariff for container/intermodal trains along the Uzen-Bolashak-Serhetyaka-Akyayla-Incheburun rail line after a meeting between the three chairman of rail affairs earlier last month. Container trains running from China to Iran through Central Asia starting from October 15, 2015 will have one tariff applied to the freight, rather than three. The motive is to increase the attractiveness of land transcontinental corridors, and will also grant greater access for Kazakh and Turkmen goods to reach the seaborne market through Iran’s main port of Bandar Abbas.
- Credit ratings agency Fitch has kept its crediting rating of the Kazakh sovereign wealth fund Samruk-Kazyna at an investment grade rating (BBB+) and issued its long term outlook on its senior unsecured domestic bonds at A-, generous ratings for a country whose economy is highly dependent on hydrocarbons exports for much of its wealth. The Kazakh fund SK has large stakes in key national companies and is encouraged to take stakes in prime sectors of the country’s economy.