Meeting in Dushanbe yesterday, the Military Council of Russian forces in Tajikistan concluded that Russian border troops, in cooperation with Afghan forces loyal to Kabul, have largely succeeded in interdicting the access of Tajik opposition forces to Tajikistan from their bases in Afghanistan. Moreover, Kabul’s troops in Shugnan province were credited with having attacked and driven Tajik opposition forces deep inside Afghanistan from the border area. Afghan president Burhanuddin Rabbani was cited as having telephoned the preceding day to renew assurances of his support for the effort to close the border. Opposition forces inside Tajikistan could be cut off altogether from their rear bases during the approaching winter.
Nevertheless, participants expressed concern lest these achievements be nullified by Kabul’s reverses in the face of the Taliban movement’s current offensive. Tajik president Imomali Rahmonov, who attended the Russian command conference, is preparing an appeal to CIS heads of state for "assistance in reinforcing the CIS southern border." (Interfax, September 26)
Such an appeal would clearly reflect discomfort over the prospect that Kabul’s recent defeats could end its pressure on the Tajik opposition. It would also be consonant with the long-standing attempts of the Russian command in Tajikistan to obtain reinforcements from Russia and from Central Asian countries. Moscow has thus far been unable to provide significant reinforcements, but has repeatedly asked the reluctant governments of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan to increase the size and extend the mandate of their token units serving under overall Russian command on the Tajik-Afghan border.