CrisisWatch

Tracking Conflict Worldwide

CrisisWatch is our global conflict tracker, an early warning tool designed to help prevent deadly violence. It keeps decision-makers up-to-date with developments in over 70 conflicts and crises every month, identifying trends and alerting them to risks of escalation and opportunities to advance peace. In addition, CrisisWatch monitors over 50 situations (“standby monitoring”) to offer timely information if developments indicate a drift toward violence or instability. Entries dating back to 2003 provide easily searchable conflict histories.

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January 2024

Europe & Central Asia

Tajikistan

Watchdog painted grim picture of media freedom in Tajikistan, and Türkiye’s foreign minister hinted at possible border deal between Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan during working visit. 

Watchdog warned of intensified media crackdown since 2022. Committee to Protect Journalists 4 Jan warned in its annual report that Tajikistan’s media “are in their worst state since the violent years of the civil war” of 1992-1997. Watchdog said series of harsh sentences handed down to seven journalists in 2022 and 2023 marked “a deeply chilling escalation in the years-long constriction of independent media”, with several journalists reportedly linking crackdown to suppression of May-June 2022 protests in Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region. 

Türkiye’s FM hinted at imminent border deal between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. President Rahmon and FM Muhriddin 10 Jan met with Türkiye’s FM Hakan Fidan in capital Dushanbe to discuss bilateral ties, with sides reportedly stressing need to boost cooperation “in all areas of mutual interest”. Speaking with reporters after meeting, Fidan also hinted that Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan could sign border deal in March 2024, but offered few details.

December 2023

Europe & Central Asia

Tajikistan

Talks between Tajik and Kyrgyz security officials on disputed border issue continued.

Chief of State Committee for National Security Saimumin Yatimov and his Kyrgyz counterpart Kamchybek Tashiev 12 Dec said 90% of Kyrgyz-Tajik border had been agreed upon following negotiations in Kyrgyzstan’s Batken city, and promised talks on remaining parts of disputed border would continue; earlier, pair 1 Dec announced progress on issue after talks in Buston town. Kyrgz President Sadyr Japarov 11 Dec said he hoped sides could finalise border demarcation by spring of 2024.

November 2023

Europe & Central Asia

Tajikistan

Iranian president visited Dushanbe amid deepening ties, and FMs from Central Asian countries attended G7 online meeting.

Tajik and Iranian presidents pledged to boost ties. Iranian President Raisi 8 Nov met with President Rahmon in capital Dushanbe to discuss bilateral ties; pair signed raft of documents, including memorandums of understanding on visa-free visits for citizens, transportation, economic and technological cooperation, and efforts to tackle drug-trafficking.

G7 hosted Central Asian FMs for virtual meeting. During 7-8 Nov G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Japan, FMs from Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan 8 Nov attended virtual session amid efforts by G7 to strengthen engagement with Central Asia. G7 promised to “support the sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity of Central Asian countries” and to strengthen cooperation on “regional challenges”, such as impact of war in Ukraine, water security and climate change. Meanwhile, Belarus 23 Nov hosted Russia-led Collective Security Treaty Organization summit, bringing together leaders from Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan (see Belarus).

October 2023

Europe & Central Asia

Tajikistan

Bishkek and Dushanbe made progress on border delimitation and demarcation.

Heads of Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan’s security services 2 Oct reportedly signed protocol in Kyrgyzstan’s Batken city on demarcation and delimitation of disputed border areas; neither side published details of protocol, but Chairman of Kyrgyzstan’s Committee for National Security Kamchybek Tashiev said it “provides a basis for resolving all border issues”. Tajik and Kyrgyz leaders 13 Oct met for further discussions on sidelines of Commonwealth of Independent States summit in Kyrgyzstan (see Kyrgyzstan).

September 2023

Europe & Central Asia

Tajikistan

Tensions with Kyrgyzstan increased over top Kyrgyz official’s border dispute comments; U.S. president met with Central Asian leaders amid growing engagement in region.

Tajikistan summoned Kyrgyz ambassador following remarks on border dispute. One year on from deadly clashes along disputed part of Kyrgyz-Tajik border, Kyrgyz National Security Committee head Kamchybek Tashiev 15 Sept urged Tajikistan to renounce its territorial claims to Kyrgyzstan; Foreign Ministry 16 Sept summoned Kyrgyz ambassador and 18 Sept warned that “such comments could seriously damage the ongoing negotiation process on delimitation and demarcation of the Tajik-Kyrgyz border”.

Central Asian leaders pledged greater regional cooperation. Tajikistan 14-15 Sept hosted leaders of Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan in capital Dushanbe, as well as Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev who attended as “honoured guest”. Leaders discussed ways to promote trade, tackle insecurity and better manage energy resources amid water shortages across region.

U.S. president held summit with Central Asian leaders in New York. U.S. President Joe Biden 19 September met with Central Asian leaders on sidelines of 78th UN General Assembly in New York amid stepped-up efforts to bolster ties in region. Biden hailed “historic” meeting and pledged greater cooperation in number of areas, including security, trade and investment, and regional connectivity. NGO Human Rights Watch day prior issued statement noting “renewed focus” on region following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and warning Biden not to “allow this to eclipse urgent human rights concerns”. Meanwhile, Russia-led Collective Security Treaty Organisation 1-6 Sept held military exercises in Belarus, with troops from Russia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan participating.

August 2023

Europe & Central Asia

Tajikistan

President Rahmon visited Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region in first trip since May 2022 violence; repression of civil society and curtailment of media freedom continued. 

President Rahmon 15-18 Aug visited Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region (GBAO) for first time since anti-govt protests in May 2022 and subsequent crackdown but reportedly made no mention of violence during trip. Meanwhile, Deputy Justice Minister Asadullo Hakimzoda 8 Aug announced that five NGOs in GBAO had been shuttered in past six months owing to their alleged links with local criminal groups; announcement came amid ongoing crackdown on civil society representatives from region. Committee to Protect Journalists 15 Aug called for “immediate release” of journalist Khurshed Fozilov, sentenced in May to seven years in prison, and condemned “criminalisation of the press” in Tajikistan.

July 2023

Europe & Central Asia

Tajikistan

Authorities declared two news websites extremist.

Prosecutor-General’s Office 19 July announced that Supreme Court mid-June had declared as extremist Pamir Daily News, an outlet covering developments in restive Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region (GBAO), and banned publication. Outlet same day published statement accusing authorities of “trying to completely drown out the news from GBAO”, while Reporters Without Borders 21 July said move was “designed to cut this troubled region off from the rest of the world”. Prosecutor-General’s Office 26 July announced Supreme Court had also labelled New Tajikistan 2 website – created by banned opposition movement Group 24 – “extremist”.

June 2023

Europe & Central Asia

Tajikistan

EU and Central Asian leaders sought to strengthen regional cooperation.

Following China-Central Asia summit late May, European Council President Charles Michel 2 June gathered with Kazakh, Kyrgz, Tajik and Uzbek leaders, alongside representative from Turkmenistan, in Kyrgz town of Cholpon-Ata for high-level meeting. In joint press communiqué, leaders reaffirmed importance of deepening ties and used opportunity to express “continued commitment to uphold the UN Charter, particularly the principles of respect for the independence, sovereignty [and] territorial integrity of all countries”; they also discussed climate change, emphasising need to continue dialogue on “open water-energy cooperation in Central Asia”.

May 2023

Europe & Central Asia

Tajikistan

Govt repatriated more women and children from Syria, NGO said Kyrgyz, Tajik forces committed “apparent war crimes” during 2022 border conflict, and China sought closer ties with Central Asian countries during “milestone” summit.

Authorities repatriated over 100 women and children from Syria. Govt 21 May repatriated 109 women and children from detention camps in north-eastern Syria, where suspected Islamic State militants and their relatives are being held.

Tajik and Kyrgyz forces accused of “apparent war crimes”. NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW) 2 May published report detailing attacks on civilians by Tajik and Kyrgyz forces during border conflict in Sept 2022; HRW said several of these violations “likely amount to war crimes” and urged both sides to investigate potential abuses and hold perpetrators to account.

Central Asian leaders attended China summit following Russia trip. Leaders from all five Central Asian countries – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan – 9 May travelled to Russian capital Moscow for Russia’s Victory Day parade, which marks Soviet victory over Nazi Germany. Chinese President Xi Jinping 18-19 May hosted Central Asian leaders in north-western Xian city for “milestone” China-Central Asia Summit. In sign of Beijing’s growing influence in region, Xi unveiled ambitious development plan that includes building infrastructure, boosting trade and strengthening security networks.

April 2023

Europe & Central Asia

Tajikistan

Security forces killed two militants near Afghan border, govt deepened ties with Azerbaijan, and Russia planned to boost combat readiness of military bases in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

Militants killed near Afghan border. State Committee for National Security 26 April reported that security forces had killed two suspected militants belonging to “international terrorist organisation” in Vanj district near border with Afghanistan.

Azerbaijani and Tajik leaders sought closer ties. Azerbaijani President Aliyev 5 April arrived in capital Dushanbe for two-day state visit, meeting with President Rahmon. Sides struck number of agreements aimed at strengthening bilateral relations through deeper economic cooperation.

Russia announced plans to boost combat readiness of military base in Tajikistan. Speaking at Shanghai Cooperation Organisation meeting in India, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu 28 April announced plans to increase combat readiness of its military bases in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, saying U.S. efforts to strengthen its presence there triggered move.

March 2023

Europe & Central Asia

Tajikistan

Court charged journalist with calling for changes to constitutional order; Russian PM promised deeper bilateral ties with Tajikistan during two-day trip to capital Dushanbe.

Journalist charged with calling for changes to constitutional order. Authorities 6 March arrested journalist Khurshed Fozilov in Panjakent city, 13 March charged him with “public calls to change the constitutional structure by force”; Fozilov next day rejected charges.

Russian PM sought to deepen ties and boost economic cooperation. President Rahmon 2 March met with Russian PM Mikhail Mishustin in Dushanbe, where Rahmon expressed readiness to continue developing Russian-Tajik relations. Mishustin next day met with his Tajik counterpart Kokhir Rasulzoda to discuss opportunities to strengthen cooperation in trade, energy, industrial production, transport and culture.

February 2023

Europe & Central Asia

Tajikistan

Authorities handed down lengthy prison sentence to Islamic State recruiter, and U.S. sought to deepen engagement in region.

Court in capital Dushanbe 16 Feb announced it had sentenced notorious Islamic State recruiter Parviz Saidrahmonov, who enlisted over 200 people in the group’s ranks, to 21 years in prison in Nov 2022 on terrorism charges. Meanwhile, U.S. Sec State Antony Blinken 28 Feb held talks with FMs from Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan in Kazakhstan’s capital, Astana, amid U.S. efforts to deepen engagement in region; Blinken announced $25mn of new funding to support economic growth.

January 2023

Europe & Central Asia

Tajikistan

Tajik and Belarusian defence ministers met in Minsk.

Belarusian news agency Belta 4 Jan reported that Defence Minister Sherali Mirzo met with Belarusian counterpart Viktor Khrenin in Belarus; two reportedly discussed “security matters in the responsibility area of the Collective Security Treaty Organization” and ways to advance bilateral cooperation.

December 2022

Europe & Central Asia

Tajikistan

UN condemned treatment of human rights defenders.

During two-week visit to Tajikistan, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders Mary Lawlor 9 Dec raised concerns about deteriorating situation for human rights defenders across country and urged govt to eliminate “the intensifying climate of fear”. Meanwhile, prosecutors 1 Dec called on court in capital Dushanbe to sentence Faromuz Irgashev, activist from Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region detained following region’s deadly May protests, to 30 years in prison.

November 2022

Europe & Central Asia

Tajikistan

Authorities targeted activists in Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region (GBAO); govt deepened military cooperation with China.

Crackdown on GBAO activists persisted. In wake of May anti-govt protests in GBAO that turned violent amid heavy-handed response, Supreme Court 23 Nov handed down life sentences to five activists; eight other defendants were sentenced to between ten and 30 years in prison.

Govt strengthened military cooperation with China. Authorities 21 Nov published agreement committing Dushanbe to joint anti-terrorism drills with Chinese forces every two years.

October 2022

Europe & Central Asia

Tajikistan

Tensions persisted along Tajik-Kyrgyz border as both sides traded accusations of military build-up.

Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan accused each other of mustering forces along border. Following deadly violence in Sept along disputed segment of border with Kyrgyzstan, President Emomali Rahmon and Kyrgyz counterpart Japarov 13 Oct met in Kazakh capital Astana along with Russian President Putin, who offered to help resolve border dispute. Yet tensions persisted, with border guard service 19 Oct accusing Kyrgyzstan of “deliberate actions aimed at escalating the situation in the border areas”, including “preparing firing positions, creating trenches, continuing to pull in additional military equipment and regularly violating [its] airspace”. Kyrgyzstan’s security services same day rejected “absolutely untrue” accusations, blaming Tajik armed forces for “preparing firing positions, digging trenches and making incursions with unmanned aerial vehicles”.

Kyrgyzstan called on regional security organisation to station troops along border. Kyrgyz authorities 19 Oct asked Russia-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), of which Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan are members, to deploy peacekeeping troops at disputed segments of Kyrgyz-Tajik border to uphold fragile ceasefire, saying “until an arbitrator comes between us, say a small contingent from the CSTO, peace will not be achieved”.

September 2022

Europe & Central Asia

Tajikistan

Deadly violence erupted along disputed border with Kyrgyzstan, killing almost 100 people and displacing thousands.

Fierce fighting flared along disputed part of Kyrgyzstan-Tajikistan border. Clashes 14 Sept erupted between Kyrgyz and Tajik border guards, killing at least two. Sides exchanged blame for flare-up; Kyrgyz guards accused Tajikistan of assuming military positions on part of border not yet demarcated, while Tajikistan said Kyrgyz guards had opened fire without provocation. President Rahmon and Kyrgyz counterpart Sadyr Japarov 16 Sept announced ceasefire agreement on sidelines of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit, said they had ordered troop withdrawal. However, violence same day erupted again, marking deadliest escalation since conflict in April 2021 claimed 55 lives. Sides accused each other of breaching ceasefire and of using heavy weaponry including tanks, rocket artillery and assault drones to attack outposts and nearby settlements. Notably, Tajikistan accused Kyrgyzstan of firing toward Ovchi-Kalacha and Bobojon settlements in Gafurov district, and Vorukh and Chorkuh settlements near Isfara city. Kyrgyz border services, meanwhile, said Tajik forces “renewed gunfire at Kyrgyz border guards’ positions” in Kulundu and Jany-Jer settlements in Leilek district and attacked positions in Batken district, which lies 10km from border, signalling spread of hostilities deeper into Kyrgyzstan. Countries 16 Sept signed second ceasefire, after which sides 16-17 Sept reported sporadic shelling but no major incidents. Hostilities left around 100 people killed, including at least 37 civilians. Kyrgyz authorities 18 Sept said they had evacuated 137,000 people from conflict area, 19 Sept said homes in Ak-Sai village (Leilek district) were deliberately burned and pillaged. Authorities same day said civilian homes in Tajikistan were also burned, although there were no reports of evacuation efforts.

Moscow urged “peaceful” resolution and offered to help stabilise border. According to Kyrgyz authorities, situation on border 18 Sept remained “tense” but “appeared to be stabilising”. Russian President Putin same day spoke with Tajik and Kyrgyz leaders, urging sides to “prevent further escalation and to take measures to resolve the situation exclusively by peaceful, political and diplomatic means”, highlighting “Russia’s readiness to provide the necessary assistance to ensure stability in the Kyrgyz-Tajik border region”. Sides 25 Sept reached agreement to demilitarise conflict-affected section of border.

August 2022

Europe & Central Asia

Tajikistan

Human rights organisation condemned crackdown in Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region (GBAO), as U.S.-sponsored military exercises took place in capital Dushanbe. NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW) 23 Aug issued statement calling on Tajik authorities to halt “wrongful detention” of dozens of residents from restive GBAO, which saw violent anti-govt protests in May. HRW said authorities have detained over 200 people on charges “related to the protests and ensuing clashes” who now face “unfair trials behind closed doors without access to lawyers”. U.S.-sponsored military exercise, Regional Cooperation 22, took place 10-20 Aug in Dushanbe. Participants from U.S. Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia and Pakistan were all involved in military exercise designed to “enhance regional security and stability, increase national capabilities and commitment to interdict weapons of mass destruction, terrorist elements, and narcotics, [and] help develop regional defense forces in international peace operations and information sharing”.

July 2022

Europe & Central Asia

Tajikistan

President Rahmon visited Kyrgyzstan along with leaders from five Central Asian states in summit designed to strengthen regional cooperation. Kyrgyzstan 20-21 July hosted President Rahmon along with leaders of Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan in Issyk-Kul Lake town of Cholpon-Ata to discuss economic and political cooperation in wake of Ukraine war, COVID-19 pandemic, social unrest and situation in Afghanistan. Summit marked first gathering of regional heads of state since Russian invasion of Ukraine on 24 Feb (see Ukraine) and ended with pledge to increase cooperation. Tajikistan and Turkmenistan, however, did not sign off on treaty committing countries to “friendship, good neighbourliness and cooperation”, citing domestic procedures. Meanwhile, 146 women and children 25 July were repatriated to Tajikistan from refugee camp in Syria, where relatives of ISIS militants were reportedly being held.

June 2022

Europe & Central Asia

Tajikistan

Skirmishes erupted along border with Kyrgyzstan, while police carried out arrests in restive Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region (GBAO). Kyrgyzstan’s Border Guard Service 3 June said clashes broke out along border with Tajikistan after Tajik border guards reportedly entered Kyrgyz territory. Kyrgyz authorities same day reported unspecified number of wounded on both sides. Tajik and Kyrgyz border guards 14 June exchanged gunfire, reportedly killing one Tajik border guard. Authorities from both sides reportedly held talks, while situation along border remained tense. Police made number of arrests in GBAO following violent anti-govt protests in May. Notably, authorities 11 June said three “leaders of organised criminal groups of the city of Khorugh” had been detained, accused of murder, illegal trafficking and “the creation of a criminal community”; authorities 12 June arrested brother of fugitive opposition politician Alim Sherzamonov, wanted for allegedly organising and financing protests.

May 2022

Europe & Central Asia

Tajikistan

Anti-govt protests in Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region (GBAO) turned violent amid clashes with police and govt security operation, which left at least nine civilians killed. Protests 14 May began in Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region (GBAO), as local leaders in Khorog, regional capital of GBAO demanded resignation of region’s governor Alisher Mirzonabot, probe into police killing of man that sparked unrest in Nov 2021, and end to alleged harassment and persecution by Tajik authorities. After govt refused demands, protesters 16 May announced start of demonstrations; clashes same day broke out in Khorog, leaving one protester dead and three police personnel wounded. Protesters next day marched toward Khorog’s central square, where en route police dispersed crowds using tear gas; authorities same day cut off internet access in region. After protesters 17 May blocked highway between Rushan district and Khorog and clashed with police, interior ministry next day announced “anti-terrorist operation” in region, which it said killed eight people and wounded eleven, with 70 protesters detained. Interior ministry 31 May announced security forces “neutralised” five more men from Rushon district. EU, UK, French, U.S. and German embassies in capital Dushanbe 19 May called on all parties to “refrain from excessive use of force and incitement to violence”. UN Special Rapporteur on Minority Affairs Fernand de Warenne 20 May criticised govt’s “harsh response” as “disproportionate and deeply disturbing”. Police said “internal clashes between criminal groups” 22 May killed informal leader of GBAO. NGO Human Rights Watch 26 May called on govt to “end abuses against protesters in the towns of Khorugh and Rushan”. Meanwhile, Islamic State (ISIS) reportedly claimed it had fired rockets from Khawaja Ghar district of Afghanistan’s Takhar province toward unspecified military targets in Tajikistan on 7 May; Tajik authorities, however, denied rocket attack and said gunfire had crossed border during battle between Taliban and ISIS fighters.

April 2022

Europe & Central Asia

Tajikistan

Clashes on border with Kyrgyzstan killed one border guard. Tajik and Kyrgyz border guards 12 April exchanged gunfire close to Maksat village in Leilek district, Batken region, in south-western Kyrgyzstan, reportedly wounding one border guard on each side; Tajik border guard next day succumbed to wounds. Head of respective border guard services same day reportedly held talks to de-escalate situation. Kyrgyzstan’s Batken region governor 13 April said Kyrgyz-Tajik talks on border situation ended with agreement to withdraw additional armed forces from both sides and “two sides’ police will take joint control over the border segment crossing the Konibodom-Khujand highway”. Tajik FM Sirojiddin Muhriddin and Kyrgyz FM Ruslan Kazakbaev 14 April held call to discuss border situation; pair “agreed to continue discussions on further steps to resolve border issues”.

March 2022

Europe & Central Asia

Tajikistan

Clashes on border with Kyrgyzstan killed one, while U.S. expressed concern over internet blackout in country’s eastern region. Local officials 10 March held discussions with counterparts from Kyrgyzstan following gunfire exchange previous day along disputed part of border between Kyrgyzstan’s Batken district and Tajikistan’s Sughd region that killed one person and wounded another; Kyrgyz authorities claimed clashes erupted after Tajik border guards entered disputed area. U.S. embassy 16 March called on govt “to restore full Internet access” to residents of Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region in east, which has reportedly had its internet access cut since protests in Nov 2021; embassy said lack of internet “impacts the ability of residents to access information, run businesses, and exercise freedom of expression”. Authorities 7 March announced lifting of COVID-19 restrictions imposed in 2020, citing “normalization of the epidemiological situation”. FM Sirojiddin Muhriddin and U.S. Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights Uzra Zeya 22 March discussed bilateral cooperation issues and situation in Afghanistan.

January 2022

Europe & Central Asia

Tajikistan

Deadly clashes erupted along disputed border with Kyrgyzstan. Clashes along disputed border between Tajikistan’s north-western Sughd province and Kyrgyzstan’s south-western Batken province 27-28 Jan killed two civilians and injured ten people – six servicemen and four civilians – on Tajik side, while 11 were injured on Kyrgyz side; clashes reportedly forced some 1,500 local residents to flee before ceasefire was agreed 28 Jan. At virtual Central Asia-India summit, President Rahmon 27 Jan urged Central Asian countries and India to address Afghanistan’s humanitarian crisis. Social media users from 24 Jan called for Russian and Tajik authorities to establish whereabouts of activist Amriddin Alovatshoyev from Mountainous Badakhshan Autonomous Region amid allegations Alovatshoyev may have been detained by authorities. Commander of Russia’s central Military District Alexander Lapin 24 Jan announced Moscow will reinforce its military bases in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan with new weapons and equipment.

November 2021

Europe & Central Asia

Tajikistan

Clashes with police in easternmost Gorno-Badakhshan region turned deadly, while govt participated in 17th EU-Central Asia summit. Protests 25 Nov erupted in Khorugh city in Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region following police raid in which man sought by police was injured and later died; protesters same day rallied outside regional administration building, leading to clashes with police that left at least one dead and several wounded; protests continued 26-27 Nov before officials and protesters reportedly struck agreement 28 Nov. EU foreign policy chief 22 Nov met FMs of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan in Tajik capital Dushanbe for 17th EU-Central Asia Ministerial meeting; parties same day issued joint communiqué that reaffirmed support for “strong, ambitious and forward-looking partnership”, noted “the importance of progressing on the rule of law, democracy, governance, gender equality and universal human rights”, and cited concerns over “regional repercussions of developments in Afghanistan”. Ahead of meeting, NGO Human Rights Watch 19 Nov raised concern that “authorities harass and imprison government’s critics”. U.S. embassy to Tajikistan 9 Nov confirmed that 191 Afghan evacuees, including 143 pilots, would be relocated to U.S. after fleeing Afghanistan following collapse of Kabul govt in Aug; flight reportedly departed next day.

October 2021

Europe & Central Asia

Tajikistan

Concerns persisted over tensions between govt and Taliban in Afghanistan. Russian foreign ministry 1 Oct voiced concern about “growing tension in Tajik-Afghan relations against the background of the mutually acrimonious statements by the leaders of both countries”, indicating build-up of Taliban fighters and Tajikistan’s armed forces on respective sides of border. Reports 28 Oct surfaced that China will finance construction of law enforcement outpost in eastern Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Province in eastern Tajikistan, at border with Afghanistan. Russian FM Sergei Lavrov 29 Oct held telephone conversation with FM Sirojiddin Muhriddin during which pair “confirmed the decision to coordinate efforts on issues related to the situation in Afghanistan”. Muhriddin 30 Oct hosted chairperson of Parliamentary Assembly of Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, Margaret Sederfelt, and reportedly raised “alarming situation on the border” with Afghanistan.

September 2021

Europe & Central Asia

Tajikistan

Authorities continued to express concern about threat to regional security arising from Afghanistan. Dozens of Afghan women 14 Sept rallied outside Afghanistan’s embassy in capital Dushanbe to protest Taliban govt. Border official 22 Sept reportedly confirmed: “We see certain security threats from the other side of the border” in Afghanistan, amid reports that Tajik militants associated with Taliban plan to return to country. In pre-recorded speech at UN General Assembly, President Rahmon 23 Sept warned of “serious threat to regional security and stability” emanating from Afghanistan. Lower chamber of parliament 9 Sept approved bill proposing amnesty for some 16,000 people, including prisoners and those suspected or accused of crimes. Foreign ministry 14 Sept issued verbal protest to U.S. ambassador after U.S. President Biden, who was commenting on U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, said: “If we were in Tajikistan and pulled up a C-130 and said we’re going to let … anybody who was involved with being sympathetic to us to get on the plane, you’d have people hanging in the wheel as well”, potentially implying that many people currently based in Tajikistan would also be desperate to leave country on U.S. airplane; foreign ministry said president’s remarks “do not correspond to the spirit of friendship and partnership”.

August 2021

Europe & Central Asia

Tajikistan

Following Taliban’s takeover of major Afghan cities, country faced influx of Afghan military aircraft and forces; meanwhile, border tensions with Kyrgyzstan persisted. Presidents of five Central Asian states – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan – 6 Aug met in Turkmenbashi city, Turkmenistan, to discuss range of issues, including regional cooperation and “earliest possible settlement of the situation in neighboring Afghanistan”. Kyrgyz, Russian and Tajik armed forces 10 Aug concluded joint military exercises close to Afghan border, held amid “threat of penetration of radical terrorist groups into the border countries of the Central Asian region”. Following Taliban’s seizure of major Afghan cities including capital Kabul (see Afghanistan), reports mid-month surfaced that dozens of Afghan military aircraft and hundreds of soldiers crossed borders into Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan; following talks with Pakistan FM Shah Mahmood Qureshi, President Rahmon 25 Aug called for “inclusive [Afghan] government with the participation of all ethnic minorities, especially the Tajiks of Afghanistan”. Meanwhile, Kyrgyz border force 23 Aug announced officials held talks with Tajik counterparts in Kyrgyzstan’s Batken region to discuss new flare-up; talks held following incident in which unknown individuals attacked Kyrgyz cars when reports surfaced that Tajik authorities had begun construction work at disputed Golovnoi water facility, scene of deadly escalation in April; construction reportedly halted after talks. Delegation to Tajik-Uzbek border demarcation commission 24-29 Aug held talks with Uzbek counterparts. Ahead of 30-year anniversary of country’s independence on 9 Sept, President Rahmon 30 Aug proposed amnesty for some 16,000 people, including prisoners and those suspected or accused of crimes.

July 2021

Europe & Central Asia

Tajikistan

Skirmishes broke out on Tajik-Kyrgyz border while instability in Afghanistan continued to raise security concerns. Tajik and Kyrgyz forces 8 July reportedly exchanged gunfire along border in Leilek district, Batken region, killing one Kyrgyz border guard; guards 24 July reportedly exchanged fire on border between Sughd region and Kyrgyzstan’s Batken oblast. Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) Parliamentary Assembly 1 July convened in capital Dushanbe and expressed concern over intensity of fighting in Afghanistan. FM Sirojiddin Muhriddin 1 July met U.S. Sec State Antony Blinken in U.S. capital Washington where pair discussed situation in Afghanistan and Blinken “affirmed the U.S. commitment to Tajikistan’s security, stability, and territorial integrity”. President Rahmon 5 July ordered 20,000 reserve officers to Afghan border. After Russian FM Sergei Lavrov 7 July expressed willingness to use capabilities of Russian military base on Tajikistan’s border with Afghanistan “to prevent any aggressive impulses”, govt same day requested CSTO support and assistance to strengthen Tajik-Afghan border, two thirds of which govt says is under Taliban control. Deputy head of emergencies committee 23 July said govt was preparing to receive up to 100,000 Afghan refugees.

June 2021

Europe & Central Asia

Tajikistan

Amid ongoing tensions with Kyrgyzstan, sides struck new agreement to stabilise border; concerns rose over border security with Afghanistan. Following deadliest fighting on Kyrgyz-Tajik border in years in April, Kyrgyz authorities 4 June announced they had bolstered border security presence after observing that Tajikistan had violated past agreements by installing container and deploying military personnel and equipment on unmarked segment of border in Kyrgyz’s Chon-Alai district in southern Osh region; Tajik officials same day dismissed concerns. Kyrgyz and Tajik officials 5 June struck new nine-point agreement, including provisions to withdraw troops and military equipment from border and relocate respective border posts 3km from border; Kyrgyz authorities next day withdrew reinforcements after reporting that Tajik side removed container. Heads of Tajikistan’s northern Sughd region and Kyrgyzstan’s southern Batken region 16 June held meeting to discuss border issues, reportedly forging agreement on water distribution. During 28-29 June official visit to capital Dushanbe, Kyrgyzstan President Japarov described late-April military escalation as “heavy test” for both countries. Meanwhile, Head of Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region Yodgor Fayzov 21 June convened meeting with military and law enforcement officials on border situation with Afghanistan where conflict had been escalating in recent weeks (see Afghanistan); highlighted risk of possible refugee influx of between 5,000 to 10,000 people and ongoing border insecurity due to presence of extremist groups along border. Border service revealed that 17 Afghan soldiers 27 June crossed border into Tajikistan, as they were fleeing Taliban operations in Afghanistan’s Balkh province, while media reports late June said Taliban offensive had pushed over 130 Afghan soldiers to cross border over to Tajikistan.

May 2021

Europe & Central Asia

Tajikistan

Tentative calm returned to Kyrgyz-Tajik border following last month’s deadly fighting. Authorities in northern Sughd region 6 May confirmed that last month’s deadly fighting on Tajik-Kyrgyz border killed dozens. Officials in Kyrgyzstan’s Batken region 18 May said security forces established joint checkpoint between Kyrgyz village of Ak-Sai and Tajikistan’s Vorukh district. Announcement followed previous day’s incident during which Kyrgyz authorities claimed three of their citizens beaten in Tajik custody along border; Tajik officials reportedly agreed to hold perpetrators accountable.

April 2021

Europe & Central Asia

Tajikistan

Deadliest fighting in years erupted on Kyrgyz-Tajik border, killing dozens and displacing thousands. Local residents in Kyrgyzstan’s southern Batken region and Tajikistan’s northern Sughd region 28 April clashed and pelted stones at each other, injuring many on both sides; incident reportedly related to ongoing dispute over water facility both sides claim. Kyrgyz police in Batken next day reported that gunfire from Tajik side of border targeted military unit in Kok-Tash village, while Tajikistan’s border guards same day claimed Kyrgyz military personnel opened fire on border units; sides 29 April agreed to ceasefire. Tajik authorities reported 15 dead, including six border guards and Kyrgyzstan reported 34 people dead, including three civilians; fighting reportedly injured scores more and displaced thousands. Earlier in month during visit to Vorukh city, Tajik enclave situated inside Kyrgyzstan’s southernmost Batken province, President Rahmon 9 April said talks on delimitation and demarcation of border with Kyrgyzstan have taken place since 2002 and govt had never considered swapping Vorukh for other land; visit and remarks followed reported proposal by senior Kyrgyz official to exchange Vorukh for other land in Batken region that sparked domestic criticism. Russia 1 April resumed regular flights with Tajikistan, paving way for return of Tajik migrants to Russia. Tajik and Russian militaries 19-23 April held joint exercises involving some 50,000 troops.

March 2021

Europe & Central Asia

Tajikistan

Govt held talks with Kyrgyzstan on border delimitation while concerns rose over instability of Afghan border. Tajik and Kyrgyz officials 15-18 March held talks over demarcation of Kyrgyz-Tajik border and agreed to hold further talks, which took place on 26 March. Governor of Shamsiddin Shohin district in south, at border with Afghanistan, 6 March confirmed that authorities engaged with local residents, including hunters and army reservists, to encourage them to “take up arms to defend our country” amid concerns of spillover from fighting inside Afghanistan’s northern provinces.

February 2021

Europe & Central Asia

Tajikistan

Security chief visited Afghan capital Kabul to discuss border security and Afghan peace talks. Head of Afghanistan’s High Council for National Reconciliation Abdullah Abdullah 14 Feb announced he met with head of Tajikistan’s State Committee for National Security Saimumin Yatimov in Afghan capital Kabul to discuss peace efforts and security situation; Abdullah’s aide same day said Tajik authorities are concerned about “unclarity in the ongoing Afghan peace talks, the continuation of violence in Afghanistan, the activation of terrorist groups in Afghanistan’s north, and the growing illegal drugs smuggling via the Afghan-Tajik border”. Earlier in month, Tajik and Russian govt officials 8-9 Feb convened in Russia’s capital Moscow and agreed “measures to expand Tajik-Russian economic ties and industrial cooperation” while Tajik officials requested that Moscow consider resuming air traffic between two countries, which was largely halted due to COVID-19. World Bank 14 Feb approved $8.63 mn for procurement and delivery of COVID-19 vaccines.

December 2020

Europe & Central Asia

Tajikistan

Amid concerns over widespread food insecurity, reports over harassment of opposition leaders and their relatives emerged. After relatives of opposition leader Mahmurod Odinaev, deputy chairman of Social Democratic Party, said he was missing late Nov after placing Facebook post asking to stage protest over rise in food prices in capital Dushanbe, Prosecutor General’s Office 5 Dec announced arrest of Odinaev on hooliganism charges in capital Dushanbe; authorities same day also reportedly detained Odinaev’s nephew in Hisor city. Meanwhile, NGOs Human Rights Watch and Norwegian Helsinki Committee 4 Dec urged govt to “stop harassing” family of exiled opposition activist Fatkhuddin Saidmukhidinov in apparent move “to force him to cease his online criticism of the government”; authorities late Nov interrogated, summoned and threatened Saidmukhidinov’s relatives. U.S. 7 Dec included Tajikistan on list of ten countries with which it has “particular concern” over religious freedom. After video surfaced in early Dec showing Tajik insurgents who appeared to be fighting against Afghan govt forces in Afghanistan’s Badakhshan province, govt deployed additional troops along southern border with Afghanistan. After 8-9 Dec visit to Al-Hawl and Al-Roj camps in north-eastern Syria, Tajikistan’s Ambassador to Kuwait Zubaidullo Zubaidzoda 9 Dec announced plan to repatriate families of Tajik Islamic State fighters “within weeks”. World Bank 23 Dec released survey revealing widespread food insecurity and poverty associated with COVID-19 epidemic. 

October 2020

Europe & Central Asia

Tajikistan

President Rahmon won fifth presidential term amid reports of voting irregularities. Following presidential elections on 11 Oct, Central Election Commission 12 Oct announced President Rahmon’s victory with 90.92% of votes, securing his fifth term in office. Amid media reports of ballot stuffing and electoral irregularities, EU same day said elections were “peaceful and orderly” but failed to implement previous EU recommendations, including media independence and political plurality. Rahmon 30 Oct was sworn in during presidential inauguration ceremony.

September 2020

Europe & Central Asia