Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 91

Kyrgyz State Security Minister Missir Ashirkulov yesterday indicated that the Russian-Uzbek-Tajik anti-Islamic “troika” envisages, inter alia, joint actions by the three countries’ Security Ministries. Ashirkulov publicly offered the participation of Kyrgyzstan’s Security Ministry in the troika’s activities. He claimed that “Wahhabis” and other “religious extremists” in Tajikistan maintain training camps which pose a danger to neighboring countries including Kyrgyzstan. (Russian agencies, May 11; see also the item below.)

Presidents Boris Yeltsin of Russia, Islam Karimov of Uzbekistan and Imomali Rahmonov of Tajikistan created the troika on May 6 with a view to resisting “the advance of Islamic fundamentalism” in Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Central Asia in general (see the Monitor, May 6. Rahmonov, visiting Kyrgyzstan the day when Yeltsin and Karimov met in Moscow, who had not been invited to the Moscow meeting, was visiting Kyrgyzstan that day. Telephoned by the Kremlin during the meeting, he instantly signed on to the troika.

The Tajik president looks very much like the junior partner in this combination. It was not until yesterday that Karimov informed Rahmonov of the details of the Moscow meeting. The Uzbek and Tajik presidents discussed the troika during yesterday’s summit of the Economic Cooperation Organization in Almaty. Moscow and Tashkent have agreed to press for the creation of a “secular state” in Tajikistan, to oppose “Islamic expansion” in Afghanistan and to coordinate the efforts of Russia and Uzbekistan in the international contact groups which oversee the inter-Tajik and inter-Afghan negotiating processes. Karimov characteristically denounced “training camps for religious militants” in Tajikistan–a swipe at the United Tajik Opposition. (Itar-Tass, May 11)

The troika’s agenda for Tajikistan prejudges the terms of the political and constitutional settlement. It also, implicitly, calls into question the understandings already reached between Rahmonov and the UTO. In Afghanistan, the troika does not press for “secularism” because its allies in that country–including the Iran-oriented Shia movement–act under the banner of Islam against the Taliban. The creation of the troika will encourage those who favor repressive methods against Islam in Central Asia, as exemplified by Kyrgyzstan’s Security Ministry and the Uzbek authorities (see items below). The troika’s actions can complicate pacification efforts in Tajikistan and Afghanistan, and may facilitate Moscow’s attempts to reassert itself in Central Asia in the guise of protector against a purported Islamic threat.–VS