Tajik president Imomali Rakhmonov yesterday announced certain concessions to two regional warlords who recently turned against his government. Rakhmonov gave in to the latters’ demands to dismiss First Deputy Prime Minister Mahmadsaid Ubaidulloev (responsible for defense and security), Presidential Chief of Staff Izatullo Khayeyev, and several lower-level officials. The president also announced an amnesty for participants in the two rebellions, contingent on their disarmament by the deadline set for tomorrow. But Rakhmonov insisted on keeping Defense Minister Sherali Hairulloev in his post despite the insurgents’ demands for his dismissal. The government and the insurgents have thus far kept their pledges to negotiate and not open fire against one another. However, the government is assembling additional forces in and around Dushanbe for a possible strike against the two groups.
The forces in revolt since January 26, comprised largely of ethnic Uzbeks, remain for the moment in control of the towns of Tursunzade and Kurgan-Tyube. Both forces — Tajik field commander Ibodullo Boimatov’s former Popular Front detachment in Tursunzade and Colonel Mahmud Hudoberdiev’s 1st motorized brigade in Kurgan-Tyube — have approximately 1,500 well-armed fighters, some armor and artillery, and arms stockpiles that can be distributed to local civilian supporters. A third mutiny in the northern, heavily Uzbek city of Leninabad has been defused by the government. Hudoberdiev and Boimatov continue to profess loyalty to Russia and to Rakhmonov, but demand curbs on the political and economic privileges of Rakhmonov’s Kulyab clan and the dismissal of most of the Dushanbe government. The insurgent leaders are also demanding a voice in the government’s negotiations with the Islamic opposition and are urging flexibility in those negotiations in order to end the civil war. Hudoberdiev has offered to support government troops against the Islamic opposition’s offensive in Tavildar if Dushanbe meets his political demands. But he has also opened talks with the opposition and reported finding common ground regarding a political settlement of the conflict. (11)
Moscow Urges Dushanbe to Show Flexibility.