Thursday, January 20, 2022

New Chinese Base in Tajikistan will Allow Dushanbe to Avoid Having to Rely on the Aga Khan, Prokhvatilov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Dec. 1 – A second Chinese base in the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast of Tajikistan will allow Dushanbe to keep the situation there under control without having to rely on the Aga Khan, the leader of the Ismailis who has close ties with the British, Vladimir Prokhvatilov says.

            The Pamiris who are predominantly Ismaili in religion have been in near open revolt against Dushanbe for the last month, the head of Moscow’s Academy of Real Politics says. But the Tajik authorities have been unwilling to ask the Aga Khan to help pacify things as they have done in the past (

            According to Prokhvatilov, by allowing China to build a second base in the troubled region, Dushanbe has rejected calls for the Aga Khan to mediate the current crisis, thus effectively sidelining with Chinese help the British and ending more than a century and a half of the behind-the-scene conflict known as “the Great Game” in the Pamirs.

            “Officially,” the second Chinese military facility in Tajikistan is assigned to the Tajikistan interior ministry. (The first is a radio monitoring side the Chinese have directed against Western forces who had been in Afghanistan.) But there is little question that both are Chinese facilities and that Tajikistan wants to take full advantage of their presence.

            Tajik analyst Abdumalik Kodirov says that China is pursuing its own interests in the region. It wants to block Uyghurs from moving from Afghanistan into Xinjiang and to shut down the drug trade along that route as well. But China has become a force in Tajik politics nevertheless, and the recent quieting of Khorog suggests the protesters know that.

            In some respects, the presence of two Chinese bases in Tajikistan puts Russia on the defensive, and “a number of Russian military analysts consider that another Russian military base is needed in the republic and specifically in the Gorno-Badakhshan,” Prokhvatilov continues.

            But he suggests that “a more effective means of stabilizing the troubled region could be the participation of Russian diplomacy in the resolution of the continuing conflicts between Dushanbe and ‘the informal leaders’ of Gorno-Badakhshan” rather than assuming Moscow must match China base for base in that Central Asian republic.

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