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.
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).
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.
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