Tajiks Divided on New Regional Force

Tajikistan’s proximity to Afghanistan means the new rapid-reaction force to be set up by members of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation, CSTO, carries real significance.

Tajiks Divided on New Regional Force

Tajikistan’s proximity to Afghanistan means the new rapid-reaction force to be set up by members of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation, CSTO, carries real significance.

Friday, 6 March, 2009
Analysts are divided whether the joint military force is merely a way for Moscow to advance its interests in the region, or an important regional effort that will benefit Tajikistan more than most.



When the agreement was signed by CSTO members at a Moscow summit last month, Russian president Dmitry Medvedev said the new force would be “no worse than NATO”.



As reporter Khalil Qoimzoda discovered, some analysts in Tajikistan welcome the plan, saying it will give the country much-needed security guarantees.



Others like political analyst Rashidghani Abdullo says the CSTO force offers no benefits to Tajikistan. He points out that Afghanistan already has a force providing security – NATO troops.



“No one is planning to attack us,” he said. “Even when the Taleban were in power Afghanistan, there was no threat to Tajikistan. It’s unthinkable that any post-Soviet country would threaten us, and NATO [in Afghanistan] is not our enemy.”



Another leading analyst, Parviz Mullojanov, disagrees, arguing that there are real threats emanating from Afghanistan, and Tajikistan would strengthen its position in the region by contributing a regional military force. Not only that, it needs to remain on good terms with Moscow, which backs the planned CSTO force.



Rahmatullo Zoirov, head of the opposition Social Democrats, fears that the joint force – which is officially intended to counter external threats – could be deployed by regional governments to crush dissent at home.





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