Tajikistan

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Overview

Located in Central Asia, Tajikistan was originally settled in 600 BC, and was subsequently part of the Persian, Greek and Kushan empires before becoming part of the Samanid Empire in 875 AD. Under the Samanids, Tajikistan revived the Persian language, and helped to preserve Persian culture in Central Asia. Russia colonized Tajikistan in the 19th century as it expanded its empire. Tajikistan was part of Uzbekistan in 1924, but then became an “independent” Soviet socialist republic in 1929. Tajikistan remained under Russian control until 1991, when the Soviet Union collapsed. After a bloody civil war in the 1990s, Tajikistan has tried to rebuild its economy and political stability. During the winter of 2007-2008, a severe energy crisis added further stress to a population already in poverty. The United States has sought to develop stronger relations with Tajikistan, as part of its counter-terrorism and counter-narcotics strategies in the region. Tajikistan lies along a major drug trafficking route, which the Taliban uses to export opium. American support for the Tajikistan government has come despite its terrible human rights record, one of the worst in Central Asia.

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Basic Information

Lay of the Land: Tajikistan forms a bridge between Eastern Europe and Asia. It is located between Afghanistan and Pakistan to the south, China to the east, and Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan to the West. Mountains dominate much of the country’s terrain.

 
Population: 7 million
 
Religions: Sunni Muslim (Hanafi school) 96%, Shi’a Muslim (Ismaili) 1%, Christian 1.5%, other 1.5%.
 
Ethnic Groups: Tajik 79.9%, Uzbek 15.3%, Russian 1.1%, Kyrgyz 1.1%, other 2.6%.
7 011 556
Languages: Tajiki (official) 47.6%, Uzbek 12.5%, 0.9%, Western Farsi 0.7%, Shugni 0.6%, Yagnobi 0.2%, Wakhi 0.1%, Pashto 0.06%, Yazgulyam 0.06%, Yagnobi 0.02%, Parya 0.04%, Tajiki Arabic 0.01%, Sanglechi-Ishkashimi 0.005%. In 2009, Tajikistan dropped Russian as an official language.
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History

During Tajikistan’s early history, it was part of the Persian, Greek and Kushan Empires before becoming part of the Samanid Empire (875-999 AD).

 
The Samanids ruled the area now known as Tajikistan, as well as the territory to the south and west. During their reign, they revived the written Persian language in the wake of the Arab Islamic conquest in the early 8th century. They also played an important role in preserving Persian culture and comprised the last Persian-speaking empire to rule Central Asia.
 
During the late 19th century, the expanding Russian Empire took over Tajikistan, along with the majority of Central Asia. Though Russian rule collapsed briefly during the 1917 Revolution, the Bolsheviks consolidated their power and regained Central Asia in the 1920s. An indigenous resistance movement, the “Basmachi movement,” fought back against Russian colonialism, but was wiped out by 1925.
 
Tajikistan became a Soviet socialist republic within Uzbekistan in 1924, and an “independent” Soviet socialist republic in 1929. The country remained under the tutelage of Russia until the latter’s demise in the early 1990s. During this time, use of the Tajik language was promoted, and a nationalist movement became active.
 
As the USSR collapsed in 1991, Tajikistan moved toward civil war. Opposition groups clashed with the government, and from 1992-1997, more than a hundred thousand people were killed. The Kulyabis emerged victorious, and continue to control the country to this day.
 
Since 1991, much of Tajikistan’s non-Muslim population has emigrated, due to severe poverty and instability. In 1992, most of the country’s Jews were evacuated to Israel.
 
During the winter of 2007-2008, Tajikistan faced an energy crisis. Contributing to this crisis were harsh weather, frozen reservoirs used for hydroelectric power, and a cut in natural gas imports from Uzbekistan.
 
In August 2010, 25 alleged terrorists, many of whom were rebels in the Tajik civil war, escaped from a Dushanbe prison and attacked various regions throughout the country. Ambushes continued mainly in eastern Tajikistan.
 
A Country Study: Tajikistan (Library of Congress)
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Tajikistan's Newspapers

Asia Plus (Russian)

Khovar (Russian)Ozodi (Russian)
Tajikistan News (English)
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History of U.S. Relations with Tajikistan

Relations between the United States and Tajikistan began on December 25, 1991, the day the USSR dissolved. The US opened a temporary embassy in a hotel in the capital, Dushanbe, in March 1992. That outpost was evacuated in October 1992, at the height of the civil war, and was not reopened until March 1993.

 
Beginning in 1992, both sides in the Tajikistan civil war sought support from the US. Thus, a trip by Secretary of State James Baker to Tajikistan in February 1992 antagonized members of the opposition, who saw the visit as granting tacit approval to the ruling government. Relations with the opposition were improved somewhat a few months later, when a human rights delegation from the US Congress met with several opposition leaders.
 
During the civil war, the US provided emergency food supplies and medicines to Tajikistan. Tajikistan officials also continued the cooperative program on earthquake forecasting techniques that had begun with the United States during the Soviet era.
 
By the mid-1990s, American foreign policy toward Tajikistan centered on support for peace negotiations and on encouraging Tajikistan to develop closer relations with the International Monetary Fund and other financial organizations that could help in the rebuilding process.
 
When US embassies were bombed in Africa in 1998, American personnel from Embassy Dushanbe were temporarily relocated to Almaty, Kazakhstan, due to heightened security.
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Current U.S. Relations with Tajikistan

Current relations between the United States and Tajikistan are cooperative. The United States has helped Tajikistan with its economic and political development as it recovers from its civil war of the 1990s. To aid these efforts, the US has provided humanitarian aid as well as political reconciliation devoted to the promotion of democracy and maintenance of stability in the region.

 
US-Tajik relations have developed since September 11, 2001. The two countries now cooperate in such areas as counter-narcotics, counter-terrorism, non-proliferation, and regional growth and stability. Since Russian forces withdrew from the Tajik-Afghan border, the US has led an international effort to preserve the country’s boundaries, prevent the trafficking of narcotics, as well as material or technology to be used in weapons of mass destruction.
 
A US Government-funded $36 million bridge over the Pyanzh River connecting Sher Khan, Afghanistan with Nizhniy Pyanzh, Tajikistan opened for commercial traffic in October 2007. About 200 trucks pass daily, and since the bridge opened, trade volume has tripled.
 
In 2006, American Embassy Dushanbe returned to full operations, and in July of that year, employees moved into a new embassy compound.
 
In 2006, 477 Tajikistanis visited the US. The number of Tajikistanis traveling to the US has increased slightly in recent years, up from 295 in 2002.
 
According to the Obama administration, Tajikistan is “a critical partner to military stabilization efforts.”
 
Similarly, Tajik President Emomalii Rahmon announced in April 2008 that it hoped to “expand constructive collaboration with the United States…in this important field [anti-terrorism].”
 
Tajikistan does not host US troops, but does provide air-space and refueling privileges at Tajik airfields. The government offered the US bases such as the Farkhor Air Base; however the US government did not pursue their interest in the base. In return, the US offered to train border guards to decrease the inflow of narcotics and weaponry from Afghanistan.
 
On June 25, 2010, US Ambassador to Tajikistan Ken Gross proclaimed that the US plans to open a national training center in Karatog, Tajikistan, which will include garrison compounds and weapons facilities. The $10 million center will also train Tajikistan’s armed forces about counternarcotics and antiterrorism. Gross said that the center is not a precursor to military presence.
 
The US also will establish a language laboratory training center. It has already signed military agreements to create the Panj Bridge to connect Tajikistan and Afghanistan and has purchased a demining machine to clear more than 600 mine fields on Tajikistan’s border.
 
Tajik-American Relations (Tajikistan’s Embassy yo the United States)
Tajikistan: Recent Developments and US Interests (by Jim Nichol, Congressional Research Service) (pdf)
The US Expands Military Ties with Tajikistan (by Roman Muzalevsky, European Dialogue)
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Where Does the Money Flow

In 2010, US imports from Tajikistan totaled $1.51 million, a decrease of about $7 million from 2009, while US exports to Tajikistan amounted to $56.8 million, an increase of about $15.7 million from 2009.

 
The decrease in US imports from Tajikistan was due to a sharp drop of trade in bauxite and aluminum from about $8.3 million in 2009 to $0 in 2010. In 2005, these imports peaked at $239.3 million.
 
The sharp increase in US exports to Tajikistan was a result of an approximately $12 million increase in the trade of pharmaceutical preparations between 2009 and 2010.
 
Leading US imports from Tajikistan in 2010 included: precious, semiprecious, and imitation gems ($1.3 million), fruits and preparations ($80,000), and household goods such as clocks and portable typewriters ($41,000).
 
US exports to Tajikistan in 2010 were dominated by pharmaceutical preparations ($35.5 million) and meat and poultry ($7.3 million).
 
Congress requested about $45 million in foreign aid Tajikistan for FY2012. A majority of the budget is divided among investing in people ($12.9 million), economic growth ($12.8 million) and peace and security ($11.3 million).
 
USAID cooperates with the government of Tajikistan to “reduce hunger and increase economic growth through market-led agricultural development” by “increasing agricultural productivity and improving access to inputs such as seeds, fertilizer, and irrigation systems.”
 
The US’s Assistance to Europe, Eurasia, and Central Asia (AEECA) program is intended to help design a comprehensive food-security strategy to raise production levels and profits of Tajik farmers.
 
Through the AEECA and the Global Health and Child Survival programs, the US hopes to decrease instances of tuberculosis and improve maternal and child health (MCH). Objectives include improving the quality of services and health education, community involvement, and local capacity. Regarding MCH, the US aims to improve the quality of clinical practices and infection prevention.
 
USAID strives to increase access to primary and secondary education and reform the curriculum by involving teachers in the reform, using student-centered methods, and augmenting transparency in financial and management systems.
 
The US government’s focus with regards to peace and security is on counterterrorism, counternarcotics, border management, security sector reform, and preventing proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
 
The US will train police, renovate police training facilities, provide equipment, and increase the cooperation of drug-related organizations in the region. Funding will help the legal sector combat transnational organized crime and corruption. Aid is also meant to assist security agencies to prevent traffic in illegal narcotics and WMD, and to combat terrorist activities.
 
Tajikistan (USAID)
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Controversies

Flourishing Drug Trade Assists Taliban

In July 2006, then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said that a flourishing drug trade in Afghanistan was helping to fuel a resurgence of the Taliban. Tajikistan, which has supported the US in fighting terrorism, lies along a major drug trafficking route, and has worked to improve its border security. The country has also granted the US permission to overfly its territory on resupply missions to Afghanistan and to help drive the Taliban out of the country.
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Human Rights

According to the State Department, Tajikistan has, “restricted right of citizens to change their government; torture and abuse of detainees and other persons by security forces; impunity for security forces; denial of right to fair trial; harsh and life-threatening prison conditions; prohibition of international monitor access to prisons; restrictions on freedoms of speech, press, association, and religion; corruption, which hampered democratic and social reform; violence and discrimination against women; arbitrary arrest; and trafficking in persons.”

 
Torture and Other Cruel, Inhumane, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
The constitution prohibits torture, but does not define the term nor list potential punishments. Officials also limited access to information, which made it difficult to investigate torture cases.
 
For example, Anvarjon Muhammadjonov was allegedly beaten to death in July 2009, but military reports suggested that his death was a result of exposure to electricity.
 
Prison and Detention Center Conditions
Prison conditions are unknown because the Ministry of Justice disallowed international observers and civil society to access prisons; the Red Cross has not monitored the prison system since 2007. Evidence of harsh conditions reported by detainees includes overcrowding, unsanitary conditions, disease and hunger. 
 
Denial of Fair Public Trial
Corruption and inefficiency was rampant, as the executive branch pressures the independent judiciary.
 
Although defendants are legally innocent before proven guilty, most defendants were found guilty. For example, out of 1,650 verdicts in the Sughd Province, only one defendant was found not guilty.
 
Many judges and prosecutors engaged in bribery and were swayed by government officials.
 
Freedom of Speech and Press
The government allegedly violated the law of freedom of speech and press. Additionally, a person who insults the president can be imprisoned for up to five years.
 
There was an active independent media, but journalists self-censor articles to prevent reprisal from the government. Negative information about the president or his family members was considered off limits.
 
During a time of violence in the Rasht Valley from September to December 2009, the government blocked five websites and three newspapers. Meanwhile, several other publications were also denied publication.
 
The government did not allow independent media to attend press conferences and other events.
 
The Right of Citizens to Change Their Government
Although citizens are theoretically allowed to peacefully change their government through elections, they were often denied this right.
 
The president often exercised his power to appoint and dismiss officials, which allowed his political party, the People’s Democratic Party of Tajikistan, to remain the majority in parliament.
 
Official Corruption and Government Transparency
Anti-corruption laws detail penalties but were poorly enforced.
 
Government officials forced money from citizens and businesses, especially those on the public payroll, to fund the creation of the Roghun hydroelectric dam during the beginning of 2009. Teachers and doctors were threatened to be fired while college students were not permitted to take a test if they did not show a certificate that proved they paid. Government officials claimed the funds were voluntarily donated.
 
Women
The law punishes rapists for up to 20 years in prison. The Ministry of Interior reported 78 cases, but did not release the number of convictions. Many women do not file charges because officials had advised against it and on grounds of stigmatism.
 
Violence against women was prevalent. According to Amnesty International, “between a third and a half of Tajik women have suffered violence from a family member. 42.5 percent of women reported cases of spousal rape.”
 
There was a shelter for domestic violence in Khujand and several crisis centers and hotlines. However, they were short on funding and resources.
 
Women were underrepresented in decision-making and representation in political institutions.
 
Cultural barriers prevented equal pay.
 
Tajikistan: AI Report 2010 (Amnesty International)
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Debate
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Past Ambassadors

Tracey Jacobson served as the United States Ambassador to Tajikistan from August 29, 2006, until August 2009.

 
Jacobson received her BA from Johns Hopkins University and her MA from the university’s Nitze School of Advanced International Studies.
 
A career member of the Foreign Service, Jacobson has served as Deputy Executive Secretary at the National Security Council at the White House, where she facilitated the development of foreign policy initiatives for the National Security Advisor and the President. Her Foreign Service overseas assignments include Seoul, Korea; Nassau, Bahamas; and Moscow, Russia. Her domestic assignments include the Bureau of Intelligence and Research, the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, and the Office of the Under Secretary for Management.
 
She was Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy in Riga, Latvia, where she assisted Latvia’s candidacy for NATO membership. Most recently, she was the US Ambassador to Turkmenistan (August 2003-July 2006).
 
 
Note: The United States recognized Tajikistan on Dec 25, 1991, and established diplomatic relations with it on Feb 19, 1992. Embassy Dushanbe was established Mar 13, 1992, with Edmund McWilliams as Chargé d’Affaires ad interim.
 
Stanley Tuemler Escudero
Appointment: Aug 11, 1992
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 19, 1992
Termination of Mission: Embassy Dushanbe was closed Oct 25, 1992, and all US personnel were withdrawn. Escudero reopened the Embassy Mar 11, 1993, and left post Jun 1, 1995
 
R. Grant Smith
Appointment: Jun 27, 1995
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 31, 1995
Termination of Mission: Left post Aug 21, 1998
 
Robert Patrick John Finn
Appointment: Oct 22, 1998
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 11, 1998
Termination of Mission: Left post Jul 13, 2001
 
Franklin Pierce Huddle, Jr.
Appointment: Oct 1, 2001
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 26, 2001
Termination of Mission: Left post Oct 9, 2003
 
Richard E. Hoagland
Appointment: Oct 6, 2003
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 24, 2003
Termination of Mission: Left post, Aug 3, 2006
 
Tracey Ann Jacobson
Appointment: August 11, 2006
Presentation of Credentials: September 5, 2006
Termination of Mission: August 2009.
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Tajikistan's Ambassador to the U.S.
ambassador-image Shamsov, Nuriddin

The Central Asian nation of Tajikistan, a one-party state dominated by President Emomali Rahmon, has sent a new diplomat to the U.S. who has significant experience defending his country’s human rights record in global forums. Nuriddin Shamsov succeeds Abdujabbor Shirinov, who left Washington in early 2012 to become Chairman of the National Bank of Tajikistan.

 

Born on November 15, 1956, in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, which was then part of the Soviet Union, Shamsov earned a degree at Tajik State University in Arabic Philology in 1977.

 

He started his career in 1977 as an Arabic interpreter in Iraq. From 1979 to 1988, he was a researcher at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Tajik Academy of Sciences. Returning to his work as an Arabic interpreter, from 1988 to 1990 Shamsov worked as interpreter in Yemen. Back home in the capital city of Dushanbe, Shamsov served as a senior expert on the Executive Committee of Dushanbe’s Mayor from 1990 to 1992, when he joined the newly-formed Tajikistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs as a senior specialist.

 

In 1993 Shamsov was named as head of the International Organizations Section in the Foreign Ministry’s Department of International Organizations and International Law, rising to deputy head of the department in 1997, and switching to deputy head of the Consular Department in 1999. From 2001 to 2007, Shamsov served as head of the International Organizations Department, where he was responsible for relations with the numerous non-governmental organizations or NGOs present in the country, primarily to work on development efforts. In that capacity, in August 2006 Shamsov, according to a State Department diplomatic cable released by Wikileaks, “summoned” Tom Hushek, who was then chargé d’affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Dushanbe, to pressure the U.S. to intervene with the NGO Mercy Corps, a foreign employee of which had been accused by twelve Tajik employees of abusive behavior and disparaging the Tajik people as a whole. Hushek wrote that Shamsov “does not quite understand the ‘non’ in non-governmental organization, and views civil society NGOs such as Mercy Corps entirely as

agents of the U.S. Government.”

 

Shamsov’s first overseas assignment came in May 2, 2007, when he was named chargé d’ affaires at the Tajik Embassy in Vienna, Austria, and permanent representative to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and other international organizations located in Vienna. Just three weeks later, on May 26, Shamsov was promoted to ambassador to Austria, a post he held until his July 2012 appointment as ambassador to the United States.

 

Shamsov is married and has one daughter and two sons. He speaks fluent Russian, Tajik, Arabic and English.

-Matt Bewig

 

To Learn More:

Official Biography

Tajik Children, Facing Mosque Ban, To Be Offered Islamic Courses (Radio Free Europe)

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Tajikistan's Embassy Web Site in the U.S.
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U.S. Ambassador to Tajikistan

Elliott, Susan
ambassador-image

One of the most oppressive post-Soviet dictatorships, the central Asian nation of Tajikistan has won the friendship of the U.S. government through its cooperation with Washington’s wars in the region. President Barack Obama on April 16 nominated career diplomat Susan Marsh Elliott to be the next ambassador in Dushanbe. If confirmed by the Senate, Elliott will be the second female U.S. Ambassador to Tajikistan after her predecessor’s predecessor, Tracey Ann Jacobson, who is currently Ambassador to Kosovo.

 

Born circa 1952, Elliott earned a B.S. at Skidmore College in Sarasota Springs, New York, in 1974, an M.S. at Russell Sage College in Troy, New York, and a doctorate in Nursing at Indiana University in 1987, with a thesis entitled “Variables associated with organizational effectiveness of schools of nursing.” She taught Nursing at Ball State University and the University of Virginia.

 

Elliott joined the Foreign Service in 1990 after working as a nurse at the U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Her early career postings included service in Lima, Peru, from 1990 to 1992, and Moscow, Russia, from 1992 to 1994. She served as a desk officer from 1994 to 1995 in the Office of the Coordinator for Regional Conflicts in the New Independent States, where she reported on conflicts in the Caucasus (Nagorno-Karabakh and Georgia) and Central Asia, including Tajikistan. Elliott also worked as a member of the Executive Secretariat Staff from 1995 to 1997. Elliott then served four years at the embassy in Athens, Greece, as deputy economic counselor from 1999 to 2001 and as visa section chief from 2001 to 2003.

 

From 2003 to 2005, Elliott served as office director of the Executive Secretariat Staff, and from 2005 to 2007 as a deputy executive secretary on the staff of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, where her responsibilities included Europe, and South and Central Asia. Elliott was the principal officer at the U.S. consulate general in Belfast, Northern Ireland, from 2007 to 2009, and served in Moscow as minister counselor for Political Affairs from 2009 to 2010. Since September 2010, Elliot has been deputy assistant secretary of state for the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs.

 

Elliott speaks Russian, Greek, and Spanish. She is married to Matthias Mitman, who is also a Foreign Service officer. They have two adult sons.

-Matt Bewig

 

Official Biography

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Bookmark and Share
News
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Overview

Located in Central Asia, Tajikistan was originally settled in 600 BC, and was subsequently part of the Persian, Greek and Kushan empires before becoming part of the Samanid Empire in 875 AD. Under the Samanids, Tajikistan revived the Persian language, and helped to preserve Persian culture in Central Asia. Russia colonized Tajikistan in the 19th century as it expanded its empire. Tajikistan was part of Uzbekistan in 1924, but then became an “independent” Soviet socialist republic in 1929. Tajikistan remained under Russian control until 1991, when the Soviet Union collapsed. After a bloody civil war in the 1990s, Tajikistan has tried to rebuild its economy and political stability. During the winter of 2007-2008, a severe energy crisis added further stress to a population already in poverty. The United States has sought to develop stronger relations with Tajikistan, as part of its counter-terrorism and counter-narcotics strategies in the region. Tajikistan lies along a major drug trafficking route, which the Taliban uses to export opium. American support for the Tajikistan government has come despite its terrible human rights record, one of the worst in Central Asia.

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Basic Information

Lay of the Land: Tajikistan forms a bridge between Eastern Europe and Asia. It is located between Afghanistan and Pakistan to the south, China to the east, and Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan to the West. Mountains dominate much of the country’s terrain.

 
Population: 7 million
 
Religions: Sunni Muslim (Hanafi school) 96%, Shi’a Muslim (Ismaili) 1%, Christian 1.5%, other 1.5%.
 
Ethnic Groups: Tajik 79.9%, Uzbek 15.3%, Russian 1.1%, Kyrgyz 1.1%, other 2.6%.
7 011 556
Languages: Tajiki (official) 47.6%, Uzbek 12.5%, 0.9%, Western Farsi 0.7%, Shugni 0.6%, Yagnobi 0.2%, Wakhi 0.1%, Pashto 0.06%, Yazgulyam 0.06%, Yagnobi 0.02%, Parya 0.04%, Tajiki Arabic 0.01%, Sanglechi-Ishkashimi 0.005%. In 2009, Tajikistan dropped Russian as an official language.
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History

During Tajikistan’s early history, it was part of the Persian, Greek and Kushan Empires before becoming part of the Samanid Empire (875-999 AD).

 
The Samanids ruled the area now known as Tajikistan, as well as the territory to the south and west. During their reign, they revived the written Persian language in the wake of the Arab Islamic conquest in the early 8th century. They also played an important role in preserving Persian culture and comprised the last Persian-speaking empire to rule Central Asia.
 
During the late 19th century, the expanding Russian Empire took over Tajikistan, along with the majority of Central Asia. Though Russian rule collapsed briefly during the 1917 Revolution, the Bolsheviks consolidated their power and regained Central Asia in the 1920s. An indigenous resistance movement, the “Basmachi movement,” fought back against Russian colonialism, but was wiped out by 1925.
 
Tajikistan became a Soviet socialist republic within Uzbekistan in 1924, and an “independent” Soviet socialist republic in 1929. The country remained under the tutelage of Russia until the latter’s demise in the early 1990s. During this time, use of the Tajik language was promoted, and a nationalist movement became active.
 
As the USSR collapsed in 1991, Tajikistan moved toward civil war. Opposition groups clashed with the government, and from 1992-1997, more than a hundred thousand people were killed. The Kulyabis emerged victorious, and continue to control the country to this day.
 
Since 1991, much of Tajikistan’s non-Muslim population has emigrated, due to severe poverty and instability. In 1992, most of the country’s Jews were evacuated to Israel.
 
During the winter of 2007-2008, Tajikistan faced an energy crisis. Contributing to this crisis were harsh weather, frozen reservoirs used for hydroelectric power, and a cut in natural gas imports from Uzbekistan.
 
In August 2010, 25 alleged terrorists, many of whom were rebels in the Tajik civil war, escaped from a Dushanbe prison and attacked various regions throughout the country. Ambushes continued mainly in eastern Tajikistan.
 
A Country Study: Tajikistan (Library of Congress)
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Tajikistan's Newspapers

Asia Plus (Russian)

Khovar (Russian)Ozodi (Russian)
Tajikistan News (English)
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History of U.S. Relations with Tajikistan

Relations between the United States and Tajikistan began on December 25, 1991, the day the USSR dissolved. The US opened a temporary embassy in a hotel in the capital, Dushanbe, in March 1992. That outpost was evacuated in October 1992, at the height of the civil war, and was not reopened until March 1993.

 
Beginning in 1992, both sides in the Tajikistan civil war sought support from the US. Thus, a trip by Secretary of State James Baker to Tajikistan in February 1992 antagonized members of the opposition, who saw the visit as granting tacit approval to the ruling government. Relations with the opposition were improved somewhat a few months later, when a human rights delegation from the US Congress met with several opposition leaders.
 
During the civil war, the US provided emergency food supplies and medicines to Tajikistan. Tajikistan officials also continued the cooperative program on earthquake forecasting techniques that had begun with the United States during the Soviet era.
 
By the mid-1990s, American foreign policy toward Tajikistan centered on support for peace negotiations and on encouraging Tajikistan to develop closer relations with the International Monetary Fund and other financial organizations that could help in the rebuilding process.
 
When US embassies were bombed in Africa in 1998, American personnel from Embassy Dushanbe were temporarily relocated to Almaty, Kazakhstan, due to heightened security.
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Current U.S. Relations with Tajikistan

Current relations between the United States and Tajikistan are cooperative. The United States has helped Tajikistan with its economic and political development as it recovers from its civil war of the 1990s. To aid these efforts, the US has provided humanitarian aid as well as political reconciliation devoted to the promotion of democracy and maintenance of stability in the region.

 
US-Tajik relations have developed since September 11, 2001. The two countries now cooperate in such areas as counter-narcotics, counter-terrorism, non-proliferation, and regional growth and stability. Since Russian forces withdrew from the Tajik-Afghan border, the US has led an international effort to preserve the country’s boundaries, prevent the trafficking of narcotics, as well as material or technology to be used in weapons of mass destruction.
 
A US Government-funded $36 million bridge over the Pyanzh River connecting Sher Khan, Afghanistan with Nizhniy Pyanzh, Tajikistan opened for commercial traffic in October 2007. About 200 trucks pass daily, and since the bridge opened, trade volume has tripled.
 
In 2006, American Embassy Dushanbe returned to full operations, and in July of that year, employees moved into a new embassy compound.
 
In 2006, 477 Tajikistanis visited the US. The number of Tajikistanis traveling to the US has increased slightly in recent years, up from 295 in 2002.
 
According to the Obama administration, Tajikistan is “a critical partner to military stabilization efforts.”
 
Similarly, Tajik President Emomalii Rahmon announced in April 2008 that it hoped to “expand constructive collaboration with the United States…in this important field [anti-terrorism].”
 
Tajikistan does not host US troops, but does provide air-space and refueling privileges at Tajik airfields. The government offered the US bases such as the Farkhor Air Base; however the US government did not pursue their interest in the base. In return, the US offered to train border guards to decrease the inflow of narcotics and weaponry from Afghanistan.
 
On June 25, 2010, US Ambassador to Tajikistan Ken Gross proclaimed that the US plans to open a national training center in Karatog, Tajikistan, which will include garrison compounds and weapons facilities. The $10 million center will also train Tajikistan’s armed forces about counternarcotics and antiterrorism. Gross said that the center is not a precursor to military presence.
 
The US also will establish a language laboratory training center. It has already signed military agreements to create the Panj Bridge to connect Tajikistan and Afghanistan and has purchased a demining machine to clear more than 600 mine fields on Tajikistan’s border.
 
Tajik-American Relations (Tajikistan’s Embassy yo the United States)
Tajikistan: Recent Developments and US Interests (by Jim Nichol, Congressional Research Service) (pdf)
The US Expands Military Ties with Tajikistan (by Roman Muzalevsky, European Dialogue)
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Where Does the Money Flow

In 2010, US imports from Tajikistan totaled $1.51 million, a decrease of about $7 million from 2009, while US exports to Tajikistan amounted to $56.8 million, an increase of about $15.7 million from 2009.

 
The decrease in US imports from Tajikistan was due to a sharp drop of trade in bauxite and aluminum from about $8.3 million in 2009 to $0 in 2010. In 2005, these imports peaked at $239.3 million.
 
The sharp increase in US exports to Tajikistan was a result of an approximately $12 million increase in the trade of pharmaceutical preparations between 2009 and 2010.
 
Leading US imports from Tajikistan in 2010 included: precious, semiprecious, and imitation gems ($1.3 million), fruits and preparations ($80,000), and household goods such as clocks and portable typewriters ($41,000).
 
US exports to Tajikistan in 2010 were dominated by pharmaceutical preparations ($35.5 million) and meat and poultry ($7.3 million).
 
Congress requested about $45 million in foreign aid Tajikistan for FY2012. A majority of the budget is divided among investing in people ($12.9 million), economic growth ($12.8 million) and peace and security ($11.3 million).
 
USAID cooperates with the government of Tajikistan to “reduce hunger and increase economic growth through market-led agricultural development” by “increasing agricultural productivity and improving access to inputs such as seeds, fertilizer, and irrigation systems.”
 
The US’s Assistance to Europe, Eurasia, and Central Asia (AEECA) program is intended to help design a comprehensive food-security strategy to raise production levels and profits of Tajik farmers.
 
Through the AEECA and the Global Health and Child Survival programs, the US hopes to decrease instances of tuberculosis and improve maternal and child health (MCH). Objectives include improving the quality of services and health education, community involvement, and local capacity. Regarding MCH, the US aims to improve the quality of clinical practices and infection prevention.
 
USAID strives to increase access to primary and secondary education and reform the curriculum by involving teachers in the reform, using student-centered methods, and augmenting transparency in financial and management systems.
 
The US government’s focus with regards to peace and security is on counterterrorism, counternarcotics, border management, security sector reform, and preventing proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
 
The US will train police, renovate police training facilities, provide equipment, and increase the cooperation of drug-related organizations in the region. Funding will help the legal sector combat transnational organized crime and corruption. Aid is also meant to assist security agencies to prevent traffic in illegal narcotics and WMD, and to combat terrorist activities.
 
Tajikistan (USAID)
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Controversies

Flourishing Drug Trade Assists Taliban

In July 2006, then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said that a flourishing drug trade in Afghanistan was helping to fuel a resurgence of the Taliban. Tajikistan, which has supported the US in fighting terrorism, lies along a major drug trafficking route, and has worked to improve its border security. The country has also granted the US permission to overfly its territory on resupply missions to Afghanistan and to help drive the Taliban out of the country.
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Human Rights

According to the State Department, Tajikistan has, “restricted right of citizens to change their government; torture and abuse of detainees and other persons by security forces; impunity for security forces; denial of right to fair trial; harsh and life-threatening prison conditions; prohibition of international monitor access to prisons; restrictions on freedoms of speech, press, association, and religion; corruption, which hampered democratic and social reform; violence and discrimination against women; arbitrary arrest; and trafficking in persons.”

 
Torture and Other Cruel, Inhumane, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
The constitution prohibits torture, but does not define the term nor list potential punishments. Officials also limited access to information, which made it difficult to investigate torture cases.
 
For example, Anvarjon Muhammadjonov was allegedly beaten to death in July 2009, but military reports suggested that his death was a result of exposure to electricity.
 
Prison and Detention Center Conditions
Prison conditions are unknown because the Ministry of Justice disallowed international observers and civil society to access prisons; the Red Cross has not monitored the prison system since 2007. Evidence of harsh conditions reported by detainees includes overcrowding, unsanitary conditions, disease and hunger. 
 
Denial of Fair Public Trial
Corruption and inefficiency was rampant, as the executive branch pressures the independent judiciary.
 
Although defendants are legally innocent before proven guilty, most defendants were found guilty. For example, out of 1,650 verdicts in the Sughd Province, only one defendant was found not guilty.
 
Many judges and prosecutors engaged in bribery and were swayed by government officials.
 
Freedom of Speech and Press
The government allegedly violated the law of freedom of speech and press. Additionally, a person who insults the president can be imprisoned for up to five years.
 
There was an active independent media, but journalists self-censor articles to prevent reprisal from the government. Negative information about the president or his family members was considered off limits.
 
During a time of violence in the Rasht Valley from September to December 2009, the government blocked five websites and three newspapers. Meanwhile, several other publications were also denied publication.
 
The government did not allow independent media to attend press conferences and other events.
 
The Right of Citizens to Change Their Government
Although citizens are theoretically allowed to peacefully change their government through elections, they were often denied this right.
 
The president often exercised his power to appoint and dismiss officials, which allowed his political party, the People’s Democratic Party of Tajikistan, to remain the majority in parliament.
 
Official Corruption and Government Transparency
Anti-corruption laws detail penalties but were poorly enforced.
 
Government officials forced money from citizens and businesses, especially those on the public payroll, to fund the creation of the Roghun hydroelectric dam during the beginning of 2009. Teachers and doctors were threatened to be fired while college students were not permitted to take a test if they did not show a certificate that proved they paid. Government officials claimed the funds were voluntarily donated.
 
Women
The law punishes rapists for up to 20 years in prison. The Ministry of Interior reported 78 cases, but did not release the number of convictions. Many women do not file charges because officials had advised against it and on grounds of stigmatism.
 
Violence against women was prevalent. According to Amnesty International, “between a third and a half of Tajik women have suffered violence from a family member. 42.5 percent of women reported cases of spousal rape.”
 
There was a shelter for domestic violence in Khujand and several crisis centers and hotlines. However, they were short on funding and resources.
 
Women were underrepresented in decision-making and representation in political institutions.
 
Cultural barriers prevented equal pay.
 
Tajikistan: AI Report 2010 (Amnesty International)
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Debate
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Past Ambassadors

Tracey Jacobson served as the United States Ambassador to Tajikistan from August 29, 2006, until August 2009.

 
Jacobson received her BA from Johns Hopkins University and her MA from the university’s Nitze School of Advanced International Studies.
 
A career member of the Foreign Service, Jacobson has served as Deputy Executive Secretary at the National Security Council at the White House, where she facilitated the development of foreign policy initiatives for the National Security Advisor and the President. Her Foreign Service overseas assignments include Seoul, Korea; Nassau, Bahamas; and Moscow, Russia. Her domestic assignments include the Bureau of Intelligence and Research, the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, and the Office of the Under Secretary for Management.
 
She was Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy in Riga, Latvia, where she assisted Latvia’s candidacy for NATO membership. Most recently, she was the US Ambassador to Turkmenistan (August 2003-July 2006).
 
 
Note: The United States recognized Tajikistan on Dec 25, 1991, and established diplomatic relations with it on Feb 19, 1992. Embassy Dushanbe was established Mar 13, 1992, with Edmund McWilliams as Chargé d’Affaires ad interim.
 
Stanley Tuemler Escudero
Appointment: Aug 11, 1992
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 19, 1992
Termination of Mission: Embassy Dushanbe was closed Oct 25, 1992, and all US personnel were withdrawn. Escudero reopened the Embassy Mar 11, 1993, and left post Jun 1, 1995
 
R. Grant Smith
Appointment: Jun 27, 1995
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 31, 1995
Termination of Mission: Left post Aug 21, 1998
 
Robert Patrick John Finn
Appointment: Oct 22, 1998
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 11, 1998
Termination of Mission: Left post Jul 13, 2001
 
Franklin Pierce Huddle, Jr.
Appointment: Oct 1, 2001
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 26, 2001
Termination of Mission: Left post Oct 9, 2003
 
Richard E. Hoagland
Appointment: Oct 6, 2003
Presentation of Credentials: Nov 24, 2003
Termination of Mission: Left post, Aug 3, 2006
 
Tracey Ann Jacobson
Appointment: August 11, 2006
Presentation of Credentials: September 5, 2006
Termination of Mission: August 2009.
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Tajikistan's Ambassador to the U.S.
ambassador-image Shamsov, Nuriddin

The Central Asian nation of Tajikistan, a one-party state dominated by President Emomali Rahmon, has sent a new diplomat to the U.S. who has significant experience defending his country’s human rights record in global forums. Nuriddin Shamsov succeeds Abdujabbor Shirinov, who left Washington in early 2012 to become Chairman of the National Bank of Tajikistan.

 

Born on November 15, 1956, in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, which was then part of the Soviet Union, Shamsov earned a degree at Tajik State University in Arabic Philology in 1977.

 

He started his career in 1977 as an Arabic interpreter in Iraq. From 1979 to 1988, he was a researcher at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Tajik Academy of Sciences. Returning to his work as an Arabic interpreter, from 1988 to 1990 Shamsov worked as interpreter in Yemen. Back home in the capital city of Dushanbe, Shamsov served as a senior expert on the Executive Committee of Dushanbe’s Mayor from 1990 to 1992, when he joined the newly-formed Tajikistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs as a senior specialist.

 

In 1993 Shamsov was named as head of the International Organizations Section in the Foreign Ministry’s Department of International Organizations and International Law, rising to deputy head of the department in 1997, and switching to deputy head of the Consular Department in 1999. From 2001 to 2007, Shamsov served as head of the International Organizations Department, where he was responsible for relations with the numerous non-governmental organizations or NGOs present in the country, primarily to work on development efforts. In that capacity, in August 2006 Shamsov, according to a State Department diplomatic cable released by Wikileaks, “summoned” Tom Hushek, who was then chargé d’affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Dushanbe, to pressure the U.S. to intervene with the NGO Mercy Corps, a foreign employee of which had been accused by twelve Tajik employees of abusive behavior and disparaging the Tajik people as a whole. Hushek wrote that Shamsov “does not quite understand the ‘non’ in non-governmental organization, and views civil society NGOs such as Mercy Corps entirely as

agents of the U.S. Government.”

 

Shamsov’s first overseas assignment came in May 2, 2007, when he was named chargé d’ affaires at the Tajik Embassy in Vienna, Austria, and permanent representative to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and other international organizations located in Vienna. Just three weeks later, on May 26, Shamsov was promoted to ambassador to Austria, a post he held until his July 2012 appointment as ambassador to the United States.

 

Shamsov is married and has one daughter and two sons. He speaks fluent Russian, Tajik, Arabic and English.

-Matt Bewig

 

To Learn More:

Official Biography

Tajik Children, Facing Mosque Ban, To Be Offered Islamic Courses (Radio Free Europe)

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Tajikistan's Embassy Web Site in the U.S.
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U.S. Ambassador to Tajikistan

Elliott, Susan
ambassador-image

One of the most oppressive post-Soviet dictatorships, the central Asian nation of Tajikistan has won the friendship of the U.S. government through its cooperation with Washington’s wars in the region. President Barack Obama on April 16 nominated career diplomat Susan Marsh Elliott to be the next ambassador in Dushanbe. If confirmed by the Senate, Elliott will be the second female U.S. Ambassador to Tajikistan after her predecessor’s predecessor, Tracey Ann Jacobson, who is currently Ambassador to Kosovo.

 

Born circa 1952, Elliott earned a B.S. at Skidmore College in Sarasota Springs, New York, in 1974, an M.S. at Russell Sage College in Troy, New York, and a doctorate in Nursing at Indiana University in 1987, with a thesis entitled “Variables associated with organizational effectiveness of schools of nursing.” She taught Nursing at Ball State University and the University of Virginia.

 

Elliott joined the Foreign Service in 1990 after working as a nurse at the U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Her early career postings included service in Lima, Peru, from 1990 to 1992, and Moscow, Russia, from 1992 to 1994. She served as a desk officer from 1994 to 1995 in the Office of the Coordinator for Regional Conflicts in the New Independent States, where she reported on conflicts in the Caucasus (Nagorno-Karabakh and Georgia) and Central Asia, including Tajikistan. Elliott also worked as a member of the Executive Secretariat Staff from 1995 to 1997. Elliott then served four years at the embassy in Athens, Greece, as deputy economic counselor from 1999 to 2001 and as visa section chief from 2001 to 2003.

 

From 2003 to 2005, Elliott served as office director of the Executive Secretariat Staff, and from 2005 to 2007 as a deputy executive secretary on the staff of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, where her responsibilities included Europe, and South and Central Asia. Elliott was the principal officer at the U.S. consulate general in Belfast, Northern Ireland, from 2007 to 2009, and served in Moscow as minister counselor for Political Affairs from 2009 to 2010. Since September 2010, Elliot has been deputy assistant secretary of state for the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs.

 

Elliott speaks Russian, Greek, and Spanish. She is married to Matthias Mitman, who is also a Foreign Service officer. They have two adult sons.

-Matt Bewig

 

Official Biography

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