Perizat RISBEK KIZI
Defense and security of Tajikistan largely depend on foreign states, providing it with assistance. For several decades now, the Russian armed forces within the 201st base have made a significant contribution to the security of Tajikistan. In addition, the country is a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and can count on the help of its other participants. Finally, over the past years, military-defense cooperation with China has also been developing. However, Russia and China are not the only ones providing military assistance to Tajikistan.
Thus, today it was announced that the US Embassy has provided 18 jeeps to the border troops of Tajikistan in order to facilitate border security. According to the message, the vehicles, worth more than $ 1.3 million, will help the border troops carry out operations in the difficult geographic conditions of the country’s border regions. US Ambassador to Tajikistan John Mark Pommersheim, who attended the ceremony, noted that this assistance is just one example of the technical assistance that the United States provides to Tajikistan to protect the state border. Highly assessing the bilateral relations in the field of security, the ambassador noted: “In confirmation of our relationship, we plan to invest about $ 60 million in the security sector of Tajikistan in the coming year.”
According to the US Embassy in Tajikistan, last year alone, US military-technical assistance totalled more than $ 10.7 million, making the United States of America one of the key donors. In addition, on October 5 this year, the US Embassy supplied Tajikistan with 20 jeeps worth more than $ 8 million “to repel threats from Afghanistan”.
Why does the United States, which has withdrawn its troops from Afghanistan, provide military assistance to Tajikistan?
According to US officials, close cooperation with Tajikistan is based on their common fight against terrorism, drug trafficking and nuclear proliferation.
Moreover, in the Foreign Policy analysis, American experts concluded that the United States is increasingly being out of Central Asia. According to them, the local elites and the people of Central Asia is increasingly turning back to Russia and China, and the importance of Russia is growing in connection with Afghanistan, around which Moscow is pursuing a well-thought-out and beneficial policy for itself. Thus, the more the US leaves the region and the less it affects the local balance of power, the more open cracks remain that China and especially Russia can use to their advantage, and this explains the US interest in increasing military cooperation with Tajikistan.
In parallel with this, Russian expert Alexander Khrolenko, in his commentary for Sputnik, stated that the Americans are pursuing their own geopolitical goals in the region, are seeking to weaken Tajikistan’s interaction with Russia and other CIS countries and reduce the influence of Russia and China in Central Asia. According to Khlorenko, Washington measures the sovereignty of the former Soviet republics not by the degree of their real independence, but by the distance of separation from Russia and interstate associations with its participation in the CSTO.
In turn, after the transfer of SUVs to Tajikistan on October 5, Deputy Secretary of the Russian Security Council Yuri Kokov said that the consolidation of the United States in the countries neighboring Afghanistan would mean an even closer approach of NATO infrastructure to the borders of Russia. According to him, there are geopolitical threats due to the fact that the Americans, in fact, do not abandon their intentions in Central Asia, even with the withdrawal of their troops from Afghanistan.
The Caspian Policy Center writes that because of serious concerns about political representation and protection of ethnic Tajiks in Afghanistan, it is likely that Tajikistan will not recognize the Taliban government in the near future. And the opportunity for Tajikistan to receive US border security assistance will strengthen that as the United States seeks reliable partners in its strategy towards Central Asia.
Earlier in September, Tajik political scientist Nurali Davlat stressed that world and regional powers are pursuing their own interests in Afghanistan and neighboring Central Asia, thereby turning the region into a field of struggle for influence and moving to a new level of the Great Game.