Tajikistan's President Emomali Rahmon seen ahead of a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Heads of State Council on June 9, 2017
The news that a cultural center related to Iran’s cultural attaché in Khujand was closed which contributed to the publication of books and articles that introduce the common cultural, historical, and linguistic roots of the people of both countries - Iran and Tajikistan - is astonishing and, at the same time, unfortunate. The closure of the Iranian Chamber of Commerce in Khujand which introduced the possibilities for trade with Iran and the sale of Tajik products in Iran, without any rational justification and providing any information for the public opinion of the two friendly countries, is very unusual and questionable as well.
Under the false pretext that Muhiddin Kabiri, leader of the Islamic Renaissance Party (IRP) of Tajikistan, took part in the Islamic Unity Conference in Tehran which is held every year, and Muhiddin Kabiri had already participated several times in it in previous years as a guest, the Tajik government has seriously challenged its relations with Iran since two years ago. This trend is finding new dimensions every day, as Iranian centers in Tajikistan are closed, and even the location of the Iranian embassy and its affiliated offices in this country is changed under the pretext of modernization and etc.
A country, claiming friendship, cannot use all the financial and spiritual resources of a friend country with the same language to stabilize its position, and at another time, due to having significant financial resources, flirt with a country that intends to put that old friend under political and security pressure. This is done while the Tajik government already knows that Saudi Arabia is actually seeking more influence for Wahhabism among Tajiks. The unofficial and estimated figures indicate that at least 3,000 Tajiks are now fighting along with the ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Indeed, the development of relationship between Tajikistan and Saudi Arabia has provided the ground for spreading Takfiri ideologies in the former, which has endangered its national security.
The argument here is that the development of relations between the two Muslim countries should not serve as an excuse to bring pressure on a third country. The same country that if it had not helped to establish peace in Tajikistan, today the fate of President Emomali Rahmon and his followers who have taken power in this country since 1992 would not have been clear.
President Emomali Rahmon, who has today restored the relations between Tajikistan and Uzbekistan after years, still remembers it well that in the course of the Tajik-Uzbek conflicts over the division of water of the rivers that originated in Tajikistan, this was Iran which, with all its possibilities, supported Tajikistan, and even paid the price for this support in its relations with Uzbekistan.
The Iranian government should not simply ignore these measures, and it is required, more than ever, that Iran use all its possibilities to let Tajikistan understand that old friends cannot be ignored at no cost. Effective and short-term measures can serve as a warning to change the unfriendly behavior of Tajikistan.
© Iranian Diplomacy
Hassan Beheshtipour, a Eurasian affairs analyst, is the senior fellow at IRAS.
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