Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 21

Two formerly pro-regime warlords rebelled January 26 against President Emomali Rakhmonov. In the western city Tursunzade, former mayor and civil war commander Ibodullo Boimatov returned after a short stay in Uzbekistan with a small armored column and 300 armed followers, seized a government military post with its weapons and ammunition, and took control of government buildings and other key positions. In the southern city Kurgan-Tyube, Maj. General Mahmud Hudoberdiev and his 1,000-strong 11th motorized brigade similarly took control of key government buildings and strategic positions. Both rebel commanders are ethnic Uzbeks from Tajikistan and both were reported as demanding changes in the Dushanbe and local governments. Rakhmonov and the Tajik military and security ministries are negotiating with the rebels, offering them amnesty if they give up the towns. Russian "peacekeeping" and border troops and Tajik government forces have been placed on high alert.

The rebellions appear to reflect discontent over the predominance of Rakhmonov’s clan — from the Kulyab region — in the country’s government and economy. Both towns in which rebellions were staged hold economic prizes: Tursunzade, a large aluminum factory; Kurgan-Tyube, a major cotton industry. The two rebellions are deeply embarrassing to the Rakhmonov government because they coincided with scheduled January 27 and 28 visits by two top-ranking Russian delegations.