Analysis: Russian-Tajik Cooperation

by Laurence on 10/25/2004

There is a really interesting analysis of Russian-Tajik cooperation in Ferghana.Ru. It points to a number of factors, including one not often mentioned: the price of aluminum, a strategic metal found in Tajikistan. According to this analysis, Dushanbe turned down $1 billion from the US to keep the Russian base out, and the new agreements are a geopolitical victory for Moscow over the US and Iran. In the long run, Russia may not live up to its promises, warns the author, and there are many pitfalls ahead–but in the short run, Russia is the strategic winner.

My guess is that there is another factor: American support for groups like Hizb-ut-Tahrir and the Islamic Renaissance Party, through NGOs and directly, has completely backfired, frightening Central Asian leaders into Russia’s embrace, once Russia coughed up some money.

The ‘comfort factor’ with Russia was obvious in Uzbekistan. Uzbeks knew how to deal with Russians, from long experience, but they really didn’t know how to deal with Americans–at least, not yet. And American denunciations combined with NGO support of fanatics and extremists didn’t make it any easier.

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