Thursday, October 25, 2018

Is Tajikistan Lurching toward a New Round of Violent Civil Unrest?

Paul Goble

            Staunton, October 24 – The National Alliance of Tajikistan, the umbrella opposition group, has called on Dushanbe not to carry out its threats to impose order in the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast, warning that if it does so, the authorities will face countrywide protests that could trigger violence.

            The declaration, which was issued yesterday, says that the situation arising between the capital and the oblast on the border with Afghanistan, recalls the horrific days of the country’s civil war which tore the country apart between 1992 and 1997 and the lesser violence of 2012 (заявление-национального-альянса-тад/

            According to the NAT, Dushanbe is planning not only a wholesale replacement of officials in the autonomy but also the formation of new paramilitary groups there consisting of veterans of the civil war who brought Emomali Rakhmon to power in the first place and who have anything but a sterling reputation for observing the law.

            The National Alliance called on Tajiks and especially Tajik officials to refuse to provide any support for such “illegal” orders and directives and warned that “in the case of the start of such illegal actions in Badakhshan, we will view this as an act of state terrorism against the Tajik people and respond with NAT protest actions in the major cities of Europe and the world.”

                This comes on top of complaints from the region, the Fergana News Agency reports, that have been circulating ever since President Rakhmon visited the area in mid-September and told officials to impose order ( Cf.

                It is far from clear how far Rakhmon plans to go and how much of Tajik society the NAT represents, but such exchanges are worrisome because of Badakhshan’s location on the Afghan border and the possibility that Islamist militants from there may seek to exploit tensions in Tajikistan to spread their power and influence. 

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