Staunton, April 30 – Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon has told his people that unstable times are coming to Central Asia and that they should stock up food for two years in order to survive them, an appeal, the Uzbek opposition says, that reflects plans by Dushanbe to exploit the influx of militants from Afghanistan to seize Uzbekistan’s Samarkand and Bukhara.
According to Erkin Ozbekiston, Tajikistan’s rulers and population are united in their believe that these Uzbek regions “should be part of the Republic of Tajikistan” because of their historical links to the Tajik nation and now believe that instability arising from the influx of militants from Afghanistan will give them a chance to achieve this long-term goal.
The opposition group ends by saying: “Patriots of Uzbekistan! Be active. Show your civic awareness. Join the ranks of Erkin Ozbekistan! Uzbe people! For your silence and inaction today, you will pay with your own lives and the lives of your loved ones tomorrow” (erkinuz.democrat/2022/05/02/emomali-rakhmon-samarkand-i-bukharu-my-vse-ravno-vozmem/).
These words suggest that even if Tashkent and Dushanbe may be willing to cooperate against any influx of Islamist militants, the populations of their respective countries may respond to such a development not by supporting their governments but by seeing the situation as one in which one of the nations is trying to take advantage of the situation for itself.
To the extent that happens, cooperation between the two countries is likely to become ever more difficult; and the possibility may arise that the most serious consequence of the influx of Afghan militants would be to exacerbate ethnic tensions and possibly inter-state conflicts there, a possibility that so far at least has attracted relatively little attention.