Persian games: Iran’s strategic foothold in Tajikistan | openDemocracy

Posted: April 10, 2012 in Confrontation, Economy and Resources, History, Human Rights, International, Language, Politics, Region, Relations, Resources, Tajikistan

 

While international attention on Iran focuses on the country’s nuclear programme and anti-western rhetoric, few have noticed the country’s constructive attempts to develop a sphere of influence in its fellow Persian-speaking Tajikistan. But as western states ramp up sanctions against Iran, will the overlooked Tajikistan be the one to lose out? asks Brenton Clark

International media attention on Iran focuses on the country’s nuclear programme and its ongoing confrontations with the United States and Israel. Meanwhile a number of developments within Iranian foreign policy have escaped widespread attention, presumably because they do not fit the international community’s alarmist and doom-laden narrative for Iran’s political intentions and foreign policy behaviour. One particularly striking example of this is Iran’s concerted push to develop political, cultural and economic ties with the small and fragile post-Soviet state of Tajikistan.

Although Tajikistan has consistently stood in the geostrategic shadow of its perennially unstable southern neighbour, Afghanistan, and lacks the political and military clout of its fellow post-Soviet Central Asian neighbours, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, it is a state of both regional and global import. Situated at a key crossroad within the Eurasian landmass, Tajikistan has the potential to play a strong role in shaping the economic development and trading opportunities for a number of state and non-state actors within Eurasia. With increased investment into its transport infrastructure, Tajikistan could provide a vital link between East Asia and the Persian Gulf, on the one hand, and between Russia and India, on the other. In effect, it could become an important pivot point in regional and global trade.

Although Tajikistan has the potential to contribute to the economic development to the Central Asian region, it also could act as a key source of instability. Its porous border with Afghanistan makes Tajikistan sensitive to developments brewing in Kabul; over the last two decades Russian and Tajik border guards have intermittently battled Islamist militants emanating from Afghanistan and have fought a losing battle against drug traffickers and smugglers.

via Persian games: Iran’s strategic foothold in Tajikistan | openDemocracy.

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  1. […] Persian games: Iran’s strategic foothold in Tajikistan | openDemocracy (tajikistanfocus.wordpress.com) […]

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