09/30/2021, 11.08
TAJIKISTAN-AFGHANISTAN
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Tensions rocket between Taliban and Dushanbe

by Vladimir Rozanskij

More troops deployed on the border between the two countries. Kabul: Tajiks must not meddle in our affairs. President Tajikistan: in Panjshir the Taliban violate the rights of the Tajik minority. Russian expert: the Taliban will not dare to cross the border. Dushanbe positions itself to boost regional role.

Moscow (AsiaNews) - The tension between the new Afghanistan and Tajikistan shows no sign of abating, indeed the Taliban have begun to make explicit threats against the authorities in Dushanbe. The Tajiks' verbal support to the anti-Taliban forces barricaded in Panjshir is the cause of the escalation.

The situation is becoming increasingly tense on the border between the two countries: Tajik President Emomali Rakhmon (see photo) has organized a military parade near the frontier, and the Taliban have transferred new military contingents to the border area "to contain possible threats". Both sides seem more concerned about the propaganda effect of these moves, but they may lead to real conflicts.

In a Sept. 28 interview with Al-Jazeera, Deputy Head of the Afghan Interim Government Abdul Salam Hanafi enjoined Tajikistan not to meddle in Afghanistan's internal affairs. "We wish to maintain good relations with them," Hanafi said, "but the neighbor's interference does not benefit anyone. We will respond to every action with an appropriate reaction."

The previous day, Taliban authorities moved "dozens of soldiers from the special forces of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan's army" to the border province of Takhar, according to the definition given by Deputy Minister of Culture and Information Zabihullah Mujahed. The move by the "students of God" comes after Rakhmon's critical speech at the UN General Assembly in New York. According to the Tajik leader, "the Taliban's failure to live up to its promises to form an inclusive government with broad participation of all ethnic and political forces in Afghanistan raises deep concern."

Rakhmon cited the repression of resistance in the Panjshir as an example of "tragic violation of human rights protected by international law." Members of the Northern Alliance are prevented from accessing food and basic necessities, and even humanitarian aid. Not even UN and Red Cross emissaries can access the Panjshir areas garrisoned by the Taliban.

The Tajik president has rejected the accusation of interference, stating that "the solution of political issues and security problems in the neighboring country is possible only with the expression of the will of its citizens, including those belonging to different ethnic groups, including Tajiks".

Russian expert on Central Asia, Arkadij Dubnov, says a  "the deployment of Taliban troops on the border is to the advantage of Rakhmon, which can now show how real are the threats against Tajikistan, and can ask organizations such as the Csto of the former Soviet republics to defend one of its members". The game of threats and accusations, according to Dubnov, "is just propaganda, which must raise the consensus of mutual nationalisms, in reality the Taliban will not dare to cross the border."

According to various sources of information, the resistance leaders Massoud and Saleh (military commander and former vice president) are in Tajikistan and are counting on Rakhmon's solidarity to challenge the power of the Taliban, which are far from being internally united.

The conflict between the Taliban and Tajiks can explode due to rash moves by either side, and by out-of-control organizations such as the Jamaat Ansarrulah, an extremist group flanking the Taliban that controls Afghanistan's northern border and is allegedly preparing an attack on the autonomous province of Gorno-Badakhshan in Tajikistan. Rakhmon himself went to this inaccessible mountainous area, where he organized the military parade for demonstration purposes.

Temur Umarov, the Moscow Carnegie Center contributor, claims that "Rakhmon is trying to occupy a role left vacant by all, that of open opposition to the new regime in Kabul, and in this way enhance his figure and his country's political role on the international stage."

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