11/11/2019, 13.19
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Islamic States attacks Tajikistan

by Vladimir Rozanskij

The jihadi action that killed five border guards remains unclear.  Islamic State militants apparently came from Afghanistan. On 6 November, the day of the attack, marked 25 years of rule by President Emomali Rahmon, who has always kept the country isolated from its neighbours and the rest of the world.

Dushanbe (AsiaNews) – The attack by Islamic State (IS) militants in Tajik territory opens new paths for Islamic terrorism. Overnight on 5-6 November, a group of 20 masked IS militants attacked a border post in Ishkobod, Rudaki district, on the border between Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

Five Tajik policemen died in the attack (three more than initially announced) as did 15 militants, Radio Liberty reported. According to Tajik authorities, five attackers were captured and four of their vehicles destroyed. The attack took place on Constitution Day, a national holiday in Tajikistan.

Yesterday, the border guards killed in the shootout were laid to rest. Dilovar Tolibov, 29, was buried in Kanibadam, his hometown, in the presence of city officials. Private Khafis Hasanov, who had begun military service last spring, was buried in Farob, a village in Pendzhikenst province, with the participation of the local farming council. Khafis's father, Abu Bakr Latinov, told reporters that he had supported his son's military service “out of duty for the motherland; otherwise it is Allah who decides our destinies.”

So far it is not very clear how the jihadi action unfolded. The militants are thought to have come from Afghanistan, something the Afghan Defence Ministry denies. Tajik authorities, after an initial statement, have not issued any further communiqué.

Constitution Day on 6 November marked President Emomali Rahmon’s 25 years in power. For all this period, he has kept his country isolated from its neighbours and the rest of the world. His official title is ‘Founder of Peace and National Unity – Leader of the Nation’.

Even though his coming to power ended a bloody civil war, his 25 years of rule did not bring any development to the country, as its standards of living remains below that of Afghanistan. Socially and economically, Tajikistan is the least developed former Soviet republic. This has led to largescale emigration to Russia, where Tajiks are often lowest-paid workers.

The celebration a few days ago came with the so-called "golden amnesty" that saw the release of more than 20,000 people, starting with women, minors and those over the age of 55, but not the regime’s political opponents. Journalist Khikmatullo Sajfullozoda (70), Democratic party leader Makhmadruzi Iskandarov (65) and opposition politicians Zubajdullo Rozik (73), Rakhmatullo Radzhab, Makhmadali Khait and many others, all aged above 60 years, remain behind bars.

The president’s rule also relies on co-opted many members of his extended family, who are historically opposed by other local families in an ancient clan war, of which various Islamic terrorist groups have tried to take advantage.

More recently, the president has tried to break the country’s isolation, visiting Europe even, ahead of next year’s presidential election in which he intends to present himself as a "democratic leader" and become the longest-serving president in the world (he is currently fifth, after some African leaders, tied with Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko). Provided the terrorists don’t mess up his plans.

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