Books on Tajikistan
Update No: 296 - (26/08/05)
Dushanbe re-assures Washington
The Tajiks came in from the cold in 2001 after 9:11. They became a key US ally
in the course of its Afghan War. As it so happens they had and have the same
enemies in Afghanistan, the Taleban and al-Qaeda. The Northern Alliance has a
large ethnically Tajik component. It used to be led by Shah Massoud, who was
assassinated by two al-Qaeda suicide bombers on September 9th, 2001, just two
days before 9:11, clearly on the orders of the masterminds of that horrendous
event. A mortally wounded Massoud was taken straight to an Indian hospital in
Tajikistan where he died.
The Dushanbe regime itself fought a long and bitter war against its own
religious fundamentalists (although interspersed with genuine anti-communist
patriots too) in 1989-94. A truce has prevailed since 1994, with opposition
cooperation in local government.
Tajikistan immediately gave the US use of its airfields after 9:11, particularly
the main air base outside Dushanbe itself, an invaluable help in prosecuting the
Afghan operation. Earlier this year, however, Tajikistan, along with Kyrgyzstan
(where the US has an air base at Manas), joined with Russia and China as well as
Kazakstan and Uzbekistan, all co-members of the Shanghai Cooperation
Organisation, to demand that the US set a deadline of withdrawal from all its
Central Asian bases on their territory.
Tashkent, affronted by the US response to its suppression of a Ferghana Valley
rebellion in mid-May (the Americans have airlifted Uzbek refugees in Kyrgyzstan
to safety in Romania), gave it six months to vacate its base in Karsi-Khanabad
on the Uzbek-Afghan border. With parliamentary elections coming up in
Afghanistan this autumn, anyway, it no longer seems necessary for the Americans
to retain their footholds in former Soviet Central Asia to quite the same extent
(if that was what it is all about).
That does not chime with Pentagon thinking at all, ever reluctant to relinquish
an advantage gained. Donald Rumsfeld rushed to Bishkek and Dushanbe in late
July, getting assurances in both capitals that the US forces could stay. In
Kyrgyzstan this means a full-fledged air base with 3,000 personnel, conveniently
placed to monitor developments in Northern China, its real raison d'etre no
In Tajikistan it is a much more delicate situation. Some 20,000 Russian border
troops were once stationed along the Tajik-Afghan border to stem the intrusion
of fundamentalists from Afghanistan in the Tajik civil war of 1989-94. They are
still there in their thousands, probably 5-6,000 or so. It would have been a
slap in the face to Moscow for Dushanbe to have allowed a full US air base to be
installed in Tajikistan.
The Tajiks have, nevertheless, extended full use of their main air base to the
US, even if it has not been much needed since 2003. This will doubtless change
in the aftermath of the US withdrawal from Uzbekistan. Washington already has
emergency landing rights. It will want much more in six months' time. It is
pretty assured of getting it.
Rumsfeld did not come to town empty-handed. He promised continued, indeed,
enhanced aid, which has amounted to hundreds of millions. He confirmed that the
US is committed to the $28m project to build a new bridge across the river
between Tajikistan and Afghanistan dividing their two countries.
At a news conference with Rumsfeld following the meetings, the Tajik foreign
minister, Talbak Nazarov, reaffirmed his government's support for access to air
space and ground territory to support allied operations in Afghanistan.
"Tajikistan has been and will strictly observe all its international
commitments," he said. Translated into real politik, this means it is still
in the interests of the Tajiks to back the Americans, but they did make it
conditional on the state of Afghanistan stability.
None of this negates the continuing pressure there will be from Russia and China
within the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation on Tajikistan to fall in line with
their interest in excluding the US bases from central Asia.
Tajikistan and Iran sign Sangtudeh plant deal
A delegation led by Tajik Energy Minister, Yurabek Nurmakhmatov, visited Tehran
recently to sign an agreement with his Iranian counterpart, Habibollah Bitaraf,
on the construction of Sangtudeh 2 hydropower plant, located 120 kilometres
south of Dushanbe, Interfax News Agency reported.
This will be the seventh hydropower plant constructed on Vakhsh River, which
would be operational within four years after signing the contract between the
two countries. The maximum height of the dam would be about 74 metres from the
river bed with the width of 12 metres while the crest of the dam would be 517
metres. The capacity of this hydropower plant is expected to be 670 million watt
and it is designed to do so in the form of four 167.5 million watt units.
It is noteworthy to know that the dam is of rockfill type with clay core.
Based on a memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed earlier, Iran will take care
of 180m Euro of the cost on the basis of a 10-year loan. The Tajik side will
assume the remaining 40m Euro.
Tajikistan, Pakistan vow to boost cooperation
Tajik President, Emomali Rakhmonov and Pakistani Prime Minister, Shaukat
Aziz, recently decided to further strengthen bilateral cooperation in various
fields. At their meeting in Astana, Kazakstan, Rakhmonov and Aziz also discussed
ways and means to further increase cooperation between the two countries.
Rakhmonov had told Aziz to help his country in the textile industry, New Europe
For his part, Aziz assured his support in this regard and said a Pakistani
delegation will visit Tajikistan to explore opportunities for cooperation.
Rakhmonov also asked Aziz to join with multilateral creditors to develop hydro
projects in his country so that electricity could be sold to Pakistan. Both
leaders agreed that there was need to develop infrastructure and road linkages
to Afghanistan. On the regional issues, Aziz said Pakistan wants a strengthened
and stable Afghanistan which is good for its own people and the entire region.
Tajikistan, Iran to expand IT cooperation
Following the sixth session of Iran-Tajikistan Joint Trade, economic and
technical commission, a memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed by the
commerce ministers of Iran and Tajikistan in the city of Dushanbe, Interfax News
Agency reported recently, citing the public relations department of the software
The MoU explains that the first ICT exhibition is to be convened, from September
1 to 5, by the cooperation of the union, Khorasan international exhibitions
company, the commerce department and the ministry of industries and mines in the
capital city of Dushanbe. Iran's software exporters union agreed earlier that
with assistance of the Tajik ministry, it will offer training courses on IT and
ICDL along with publications on software technology. Other projects with regard
to office and industrial automation, implementing monitoring control projects,
and other related plans will be financed by the Iranian banks under the coverage
of export guarantee fund of Iran.
ZTE Corp offers telecom solutions to Tajikistan
Central Asia's first commercial Next Generation Network (NGN) is to be built in
Tajikistan, under an agreement signed between ZTE Corporation, which is China's
largest listed telecommunications manufacturer and leading wireless solutions
provider and the country's major fixed line operator, Tajiktelecom, a partner of
Tajik National Communications Department, Interfax News Agency reported.
Under the agreement, ZTE will provide Tajikistan with customised end-to-end NGN
solutions, high-quality VoIP and IP Centrex services. The network, based on
ZTE's Softswitch technology, will bring some of the world's most advanced
telecommunications technology to Central Asia.
This is the latest NGN success for ZTE; since embarking on a feasibility
analysis of the technology in 1998, the corporation has constructed China's
first commercial network based on Softswitch technology; built NGNs in
Indonesia, Hong Kong, Pakistan and the Philippines as well as editing standards
on NGN technology for the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).
Li Ming of ZTE said, "This success shows the value of our dedicated R&D
practices as more nations utilise this world-leading technology." He added
that next generation networks are the future for operators across the world. ZTE
also announced that it was to build Africa's first NGN in Angola, following an
agreement with leading fixed-line operator Mundo Startel.
It will be the first time that ZTE installs an NGN based on an IP platform with
CDMA2000 1x and EV-DO technology. This contract increased ZTE's presence in
Last year, in Uzbekistan, ZTE signed a contract with Uzbek operator, Perfectum
Mobile, to supply CDMA2000 1x equipment to build a state-of-the-art network
covering the country's capital, Tashkent and all major economic zones.