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.
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”.
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.
China’s influence is growing rapidly in Central Asia at a time when the region is looking increasingly unstable.
Tajikistan, Central Asia’s poorest state and a key logistical link for international forces in Afghanistan, faces a growing security threat from both local and external rebels.
Originally published in Internationale Politik
Originally published in New Eastern Europe
Originally published in Esglobal