On Dec. 21, 2015, Tajikistan’s Deputy Foreign Minister Parviz Davlatzoda arrived in Astana, Kazakhstan to meet with other “European – Central Asia” diplomats to discuss joining the Saudi Alliance. There appears to be some debate as to whether Tajikistan is on board with joining the bloc. Tajikistan’s Ambassador to Riyadh, Sharifi Azamhso, said that Dushanbe is “considering Saudi Arabia’s proposal to join the Islamic coalition to fight against terrorism.” However, Davlatzoda said today, “We do not consider this at all.”
Ambassador Azamhso communicated that Tajikistan’s President Emomali Rahmon will make a trip to Saudi Arabia to discuss with Saudi King Salman bin Adbulaziz Al Saud the joining of the Alliance. Rahmon, who recently fended off a quasi-coup that was funded by the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (IRPT), seems to have reason to align himself with the coalition that aims at combatting religious militants. On Dec. 9, 2015, Tajikistan’s parliament passed legislation rendering Rahmon “the founder of peace and national unity of Tajikistan,” which essentially provides him with immunity with regards to any acts he has or will commit in office that might be considered prosecutable.
The passing of this legislation has received some criticism. Oinihol Bobonazarova, a Tajiki human rights activist who attempted to run for president in 2013 but claims she was not allowed on the ballot, has called the legislation a “mockery of democracy.” Despite these assertions, Rahmon continues to combat “terrorists” within political parties, like those found in the IRPT at home, and according to The Diplomat, has already contributed 600 soldiers in Syria and Iraq to aid in fighting those battles.
Tajikistan has suffered a poor economic environment since their lengthy civil war ended. Now, though, in being part of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, along with China, Russia, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan, it may soon begin to experience some growth. India and Pakistan are due to join the group in 2016. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization is headed by China and motivated its One Belt, One Road plan, and aims at creating an “economic partnership map with multiple rings interconnected with one another.” To some, this revitalization of the Silk Road might be interpreted as a rising force in opposition to what many consider a dollar-centric world. However, with “European – Central Asia” diplomats meeting in Astana, it appears the west is retaining a hold in the region.
It is understood that improving an economy may contribute to combatting tensions generated from impoverishment, like terrorism. China is in a position to play a leading role in building Central Asia’s infrastructure and economy. China currently holds $4 trillion in foreign currency in addition to huge surpluses of cement and steel. At present, it is estimated by PricewaterhouseCoopers in Hong Kong that in 2013 China invested $250 billion in “Silk Road oriented projects [and] the Bank of China has already provided a $50 billion credit line for myriad Silk Road-related projects.”
In Astana, Diplomats are discussing whether Tajikistan will join the Saudi Alliance. Tajik President Rahmon has demonstrated his support for combatting Islamic extremism at home and abroad by providing personnel support in Iran and Syria. While recent communication from Tajiki diplomats may not make clear whether the nation will join the Saudi Alliance, Rahmon’s visit with the Saudi King after the New Year may provide clarity on this issue.
By Joel Wickwire
Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty: Teflon Rahmon: Tajik President Getting ‘Leader’ Title, Lifelong Immunity
TASS: Russian News Agency: Tajikistan Does Not Consider Joining Riyadh-led Anti-Terrorist Coalition – Deputy FM
The Diplomat: Tajikistan’s Campaign Against the IRPT Continues
UTNE Reader: Will Chess, Not Battleship, Be the Game of the Future in Eurasia?
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