The head of a department of Central and Southern Asia of A. Rudaki Institute of Language, Literature, Oriental and Written Heritage of Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Tajikistan Muzaffar Olimov reflects on a role of the Republic of Tajikistan in a security system of the republics of Central Asia. This subject continues to be the focus of attention of the largest analytical centres:
— Are any bases to say that there is a system of regional security in Central Asia? It is necessary to recognize that such system is absent. At the same time the region is stable and develops very high rates. So why do they constantly speak about instability in Central Asia and constantly predict a distemper and ruin to the region?
Perhaps because of safety architecture of Central Asia. Low level of cooperation of the countries of the region in safety and defence is noted. Various measures are carried out in the UN, SCO, the CSTO, NATO … But those often have polar interests and various potential. External players play large role and a big problem of the region is the competition of geopolitical projects. While they move ahead in parallel and very carefully, the countries of Central Asia have the benefit from it. But the forecast for the future is very difficult.
What threats to security of Central Asia are the most actual today? Internal threats — it is the political instability caused by imperfection of mechanisms of power transfer at deficiency of its legitimacy as well as hydro-electric disputes, interethnic intensity, the conflicts on borders, territorial claims, the trade wars. All this has one reason — the proceeding section of the region between the national states.
External threats are the international terrorism, separatism and religious extremism. Internal threats are connected with the section of the region on the national states therefore the countries of the region cope with them independently, by means of national security systems and they don’t want association in the general regional security system at all. But external threats have flexible character and force the countries of the region to participate in the international organizations of the most different configuration, structure, potential and orientation.
And as a result the security structure of the region turned out which is strange at first sight. Certainly, today Russia prevails in a total amount of military and military and technical cooperation of the countries of Central Asia. Moreover, these states are integrated into the organizations playing more and more noticeable role: CIS, CSTO, SCO, EurAsEC. However, the countries of Central Asia don’t refuse from participation in a number of programs of NATO, in the geopolitical project of the USA «New silk way» — strategically this cooperation is favourable to the countries of the region both in economic and military-political aspects. And in this regard Tajikistan is one of the interesting states. The Russian 201st division is there, the CSTO is exercises in the territory of the country. And besides the country participates in programs of NATO and has a battalion of UN peacekeepers.
As a rule, the international threats in the region connect with Afghanistan. And the role of Tajikistan in regional security of Central Asia just is also connected with the Afghan factor. Tajikistan acts as a barrier and at the same time as a link between Central Asia and Afghanistan. The political leadership of Afghanistan recognizes that safety of Tajikistan is impossible without restoration of safe and stable Afghanistan.
Relationship of Afghanistan and Tajikistan is influenced by various moments: a community of culture, language, religion and also that fact that about 35% of the population of Afghanistan are Tajiks. Both countries connect the difficult multidimensional relations of ruling elite and local groups. Afghanistan for Tajikistan is possibility of an exit to maritime routes and on the energy markets of Central Asia. Tajikistan acts as the strategic back for the Dari-speaking elite of Afghanistan, the intermediary in relationship with Russia and China.
Hence there are difficulties in relationship of Afghanistan and Tajikistan after recent elections. The government of Tajikistan is guided by the incumbent president of Afghanistan, seeing the partner in development in him. Dari-speaking elite is still guided by the government of Tajikistan, expecting the help and support in fight for the power. Now this relation changes to the worst and as a result the discontent increases. Information channels are almost closed and it is difficult to understand who represents whom and supports.
The main issue for the region is whether the new power in Kabul will be able to prevent to strengthening of radical Islamists fighters? Today it is clear to all that it is necessary to strengthen the Tajik-Afghan border. Control over it is insufficient because of weakness of the Tajik frontier service having limited personnel and material resources. There was a mitigation of the regime due to opening of bridges, the border markets, check points. 6 bridges are now open, and there are markets at them. There are two special economic zones where from 10 to 15 enterprises work. But along with the trade development also the smuggling scales grow: petroleum products and energy from Tajikistan, cigarettes and agricultural products from Afghanistan. Corruption grows, there is the human and weapon traffic.
The answer to these challenges is creation of capable boundary forces of Tajikistan. In Dushanbe OSCE college on retraining of frontier guards of the highest command structure works since 2010 year. The target program of strengthening of the Tajik-Afghan border works within the CSTO
In Afghanistan there is a large number of the professional fighters ready for money to participate in preparation and organization of terrorism acts in any country including the territory of Tajikistan. There is a merging of terrorists with drug trafficking and dealers in people and the weapon. In general, radicalism in Central Asia is the product of Post-Soviet transit strengthened by streams of money and resources from the Arab countries. Salafis of Central Asia are connected with Salafis in Afghanistan, but this communication is very friable and has tool character.
Talibs train the military science the jihadists from Central Asia in the territory of Afghanistan and Pakistan. But influence of global religious extremism is much more dangerous! And it comes not from Afghanistan, but from the Internet. Therefore, preventive measures are necessary, including a power component. What is done today in practice of Tajikistan: a salary the imam-Khatibs, form for Muslim figures, the state system of retraining and examinations for the imam-Khatibs, the approval by the state of the collection of sermons, tracking cameras in all mosques, a ban of mosques visit by women and children till 18 years.
Experience of Tajikistan shows that more drastic measures block the distribution of extremism to some extent and on the other hand create an underground and feed radicalism. The second direction is preventive measures. In Tajikistan there is an experiment on integration of the Islamic military-political movement of the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan into peaceful life. We created a legal framework for activity of political Islam. So, UTO turned from the military-political movement into political party of parliamentary type.
Stability and safety in Central Asia is impossible without stabilization of a situation in Afghanistan. The good-neighbourhood and economic relations with this country are the pledge of ensuring regional security. The states of Central Asia also should develop interaction forms with various religious trends, including, political Islam.