Thursday, August 25, 2022

Tajikistan Again at Risk of Descending into Civil War, Orlov Says

Paul Goble

Staunton, July 29 – Increasing radicalism and violence in Tajikistan represents a continuation of the civil war there in the 1990s, Dmitry Orlov says; and nowhere is that echo louder than in the isolated and mountainous Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast which occupied 45 percent of the territory of the country but has only three percent of its population.

The Stanradar commentator says that the Ismaili Pamiris as the people of that oblast are once again locked in aiolent contest about their future. During the civil war, the Pamirs supported the people of Harms against an alliance of the people of Kulyab, Leninabad and Hissari (

The alliance won out and because the current president of Tajikistan is a Kulyabi, Orlov says, it is no surprise that that relations between him and the Pamiris have always been fraught, especially after Dushanbe handed over 1500 square kilometers of land to China at the start of this century, an action the Pamiris say violates the constitution and is designed to hurt them.

Not only have the Pamiris begun to talk about the need for Russia to play a bigger role in their region, but some have attacked senior Dushanbe officials. The most recent such attack came only five days ago when someone in the Gorno-Badakhshan killed Abdullo Nazarov, a general of the Tajik State National Security Comittee.

Dushanbe has blamed a former field commander from civil war times, Tolib Dembekov, but this remains unconfirmed. The day after his death, four men, women and a child were killed in Khorog, the capital of the Gorno-Badakhshan. It appears that those deaths too are intended to spark a conflagration and reignite the civil war of the 1990s, Orlov says.

That possibility, the Stanradar writer says, poses a grave threat not only to Tajikistan and the rest of Central Asia but also to Russia and for two reasons. On the one hand, it would open the way for a new influx of Islamists northward from Afghanistan. And on the other hand, far more than in the 1990s, it would involve not just the West but China as well.

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