Books on Tajikistan
Update No: 308 - (29/08/06)
Tajikistan may be the back of beyond in most people's eyes,
but there is no doubt of its growing geopolitical importance in world politics.
Washington courts it for its vital Afghan border and connections; Moscow for
them and much else besides.
China and Japan are highly interested in its hydroelectric power, a clean source
of energy, as is India, which has a military base and hospital there. Likewise
Pakistan is showing great interest.
Rahmonov Hosts Iranian, Afghan Presidents
Tajikistan is a Persian-speaking country as is northern Afghanistan and of
course the original Persia, Iran. The leaders of Iran and Afghanistan arrived in
the Tajik capital, Dushanbe, in late July for talks with President Emomali
Rahmonov and other senior Tajik officials. Discussions at the trilateral summit
included trade and security issues.
Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad and Afghan President Hamid Karzai covered a
lot of regional ground with Rahmonov, but they also provide a reminder of the
affinities among these three Persian-speaking countries.
It was Ahmadinejad's first visit to Dushanbe since taking office in August and
was part of his two-country Central Asian tour that began in Turkmenistan.
Dushanbe provides a modest amount of electricity to its Afghan neighbour, and
the three leaders discussed ways to extend Tajikistan's power supply routes into
Regional security issues also topped the agenda of the tripartite meeting. The
Avesta news agency quoted a Tajik Foreign Ministry statement as saying the three
presidents discussed ways to cope with what it described as today's global
"challenges and threats."
The Iranian-Tajik axis
In Dushanbe, political analyst Ismoil Rahmatov told RFE/RL's Tajik Service
that cooperation between the two countries is considerable -- and it is gaining
momentum. "Cooperation between Tajikistan and the Islamic Republic of Iran
has been increasing lately. Iran has built the Anzob tunnel. The Iranian side
has also committed itself to building a number of roads and the Sangtuda
hydroelectric power plant, and to set up a number of small companies that will
put out locally produced Tajik goods. At the present stage, Iran is playing a
greater economic role than any other country in the region."
Two major projects to bolster Tajikistan's infrastructure highlight
Iranian-Tajik cooperation. President Ahmadinejad attended a ceremony to open a
5-kilometer tunnel through the Anzob Pass, connecting the capital with the
northern Tajik city of Khojand, that was constructed with Iranian assistance.
Tehran has also pledged to invest up to US$180 million in a Tajik hydroelectric
power plant. Construction of the Sangtuda-2 facility was officially launched in
February, although Iran is reportedly seeking additional financial guarantees
from the Tajik side.
History of Iranian-Tajik engagement
Tehran has shown an interest in Tajikistan since the post-Soviet republic's
first days of independence. When many other countries scaled back embassy
staffing as Tajikistan's civil war broke out in the early 1990s, Iran had the
prescience to increase its diplomatic presence.
The Iranian government provided financial aid to the Tajik government during
some of its darkest days of civil war (1992-97). But it also provided safe haven
for some of the Islamic leaders from the United Tajik Opposition that were
battling Tajik government forces.
Iran -- along with Russia -- played a key role in facilitating a Tajik peace
deal in June 1997.
Iran's ambassador to Tajikistan, Nasser Sarmadi Parsa, is a key mediator today.
The Afghan-Tajik axis
Afghan woes have spilled over onto Tajik and Iranian territory on many
occasions in the region's recent history. By most accounts, recent fighting in
Afghanistan has affected Tajikistan and Iran less than fighting during
Afghanistan's civil war in the 1970s, the Soviet invasion of the 1980s, or
Taliban forces' drives west and north in the 1990s. But the Afghan drug trade
continues to pose a major problem for both Dushanbe and Tehran.
Karzai sought additional help from neighbouring Tajikistan and Iran to improve
transportation routes into his country. And he explored the potential for energy
supplies to fuel Afghanistan's recovery.
India, Tajikistan Pledge To Boost Ties
The Tajiks are looking further away too and are well aware of the growing
importance of the coming Asian giant, India, lying the other side of the vast
mountain ranges separating them. India's population is due to eclipse even
China's by 2050.
President Rahmonov made a five-day visit to India in early August to cultivate
closer ties. The office of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said New Delhi
and Dushanbe agreed to further develop bilateral ties in a number of areas,
including industry, agriculture, and transportation.
Both sides also vowed to boost bilateral trade, which currently "does not
correspond to its real potential," Singh's office says.
Dushanbe, New Delhi hold talks on energy, economic ties
India and Tajikistan held talks recently to enhance their economic ties and
cooperate in the energy sector as India seeks sources to meet its escalating
Tajik President, Emomali Rahmonov, who arrived in India on a five-day visit,
held talks with Indian Premier, Manmohan Singh, in New Delhi, officials in
India's Foreign Ministry said.
Both countries are considering cooperation in the field of energy, particularly
in the development of hydropower in Tajikistan, and the issue figured
prominently in the talks, the officials said. The two leaders also held
discussions on bilateral relations as well as regional and international issues
of mutual interest, the officials added. In its role as a partner in
Tajikistan's development, India is involved in a number of projects in
human-resource and technical-capacity development there. Rahmonov's visit also
came as New Delhi has been endeavouring to upgrade its ties with the
resource-rich Central Asian states, which it also considers strategically
Rahmonov, accompanied by a high-level official and business delegation, was
scheduled to address a joint business summit. He also planned to meet with his
Indian counterpart, APJ Abdul Kalam, who was to host a dinner in his guest's
honour, and was scheduled to visit cities in southern Hyderabad, considered
India's information-technology hub.
Deepening relations with Western and Russian powers
Tajikistan's President, Emomali Rahmonov, and visiting US Secretary, Donald
Rumsfeld, vowed to strengthen cooperation in regional security, trade and
energy, Interfax News Agency reported.
Rumsfeld arrived in Dushanbe on July 10th before flying to Kabul, capital of
Afghanistan. After the meeting, Rahmonov said that US has offered immense help
in fighting extremist and terrorist activities and stifling drug trafficking
It was also noted that Washington has provided important technological support
for the construction of a Tajik border force and tightening security between the
Tajik-Afghan border. The president added that Tajikistan believed it was very
important for the country to develop relations with the United States.
He affirmed that Tajikistan will resolve Iran's nuclear issue through diplomatic
means and was willing to cooperate with the United States and other countries
involved in the anti-terror war to provide support for the reconstruction of
For his part, Rumsfeld said that the US is pleased with the cooperation between
the two countries in areas such as safe-guarding regional security, politics,
trade and the economy. He announced expanding further cooperation with
Tajikistan. Besides strengthening its relations with the US, Tajikistan is also
keen in establishing relations with Russia.
The Tajik Ministry has promoted its close ties with Russia at every turn.
Faridun Mahmadaliyev, head of the ministry of defence press service, recently
stressed the fact that more thAn 100 Tajik nationals have graduated from Russian
military institutions and academies this year.
According to the Tajik Justice ministry, a new national public movement has been
registered. "Friends of Russia" plans to open branches in all the
regions of Tajikistan and wants to strengthen and boost social, political,
economic and cultural relations between Tajikistan and Russia.
Meanwhile, French Defence, Michele Alliot-Marie has scheduled a short working
visit to Dushanbe before going on to Kabul. She is planning to negotiate with
Rahmonov and Defence Minister, Sherali Khayrulloyev. Paris is exploring ways to
strengthen military and security collaboration between the two countries in
combating terrorism, extremism and organised crime.