Tajikistan is tightly controlled by President Emomali Rahmon and a complex system of patronage and political repression are the hallmarks of his rule. The government’s elimination of moderate Islamic opposition risks creating an opening for violent jihadists and the country faces growing instability along its southern border with conflict-plagued Afghanistan. Through field research, analytical reports and advocacy, Crisis Group aims to mitigate Tajikistan’s internal and external threats and inform national and regional stakeholders about the risk of political instability and radicalisation in the face of government policies.
Four Central Asian states – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan – have argued over their water resources since the collapse of the Soviet Union. At times these disputes have seemed to threaten war. The forthcoming presidential summit in Astana can help banish that spectre.
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”.
The prevailing calm in Gorno-Badakhshan in Tajikistan's remote east does not rule out the prospect of a clash between local powerbrokers and Dushanbe authorities. To mitigate the risks of a local flare-up and regional power rivalry, China and Russia should communicate with each other and nudge President Rahmon toward a smooth transition of power.
With his seven-year term set to end in 2020, uncertainty is growing over whether Tajikistan’s long-time ruler President Rahmon will handpick a successor or continue his reign. Growing troubles at home and abroad ensure both scenarios are fraught with risk and must be managed prudently, lest the country become another source of regional disorder.
Plagued by violence, corruption and economic hardship, and exposed to a long, insecure border with Afghanistan, Tajikistan is under dangerous stress. President Rahmon’s autocratic undermining of the 1997 peace agreement is fostering Islamic radicalisation. As Tajikistan’s growing fragility impacts a brittle region, the country must become a conflict-prevention priority.
Growing tensions in the Ferghana Valley are exacerbated by disputes over shared water resources. To address this, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan urgently need to step back from using water or energy as a coercive tool and focus on reaching a series of modest, bilateral agreements, pending comprehensive resolution of this serious problem.