Fighting in Tajikistan leaves 42 dead

Fighting in Tajikistan has flared up between rebels and the government in the southern province of Gorno-Badakhshan. The fierce government led attack was believed to be a response to the stabbing of a top security official. The stabbing was blamed on the rebel groups loyal to Tolib Ayombekov operating in Gorno-Badakhshan. Gorno-Badakhshan is a semi-autonomous region within Tajikistan. During the brutal Tajik civil war, in which 50,000 are said to have died, those within Gorno-Badakhshan were granted a degree of autonomy. A UN brokered peace deal brought the Islamist rebel leader and warlord, Tolib Ayombekov, into the ruling government. The ruling governments 2010 campaign to rid the country of Islamists has made the situation in Gorno-Badakhshan extremely tense. President Emomali Rakhmon has been trying to consolidate power by squeezing out the Islamists.

Tajikistan is the poorest of all the Central Asian nations. It shares a huge border with Afghanistan, houses a significant number of Islamist fighters, and is the main transshipment point for Afghan heroin. According to the CIA World Fact Book, Tajikistan”…seizes roughly 80% of all drugs captured in Central Asia and stands third worldwide in seizures of opiates (heroin and raw opium);”

With the situation in Afghanistan inching towards civil war, and Tajiks making up the largest minority in Afghanistan, we should be very concerned with this latest spate of violence. Cross border violence alone could reach a staggering number. Americans should also be concerned with our increasingly close relationship with this corrupt and authoritarian country and the effect on American security. Our past dealings with secular dictators who oppress Muslims has not exactly turned out well for America.

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