Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 183

Addressing the UN General Assembly, Tajik president Imomali Rahmonov praised the joint efforts of Russia and Iran in bringing about the signing of recent agreements between the Tajik government and opposition and in monitoring the agreements’ implementation. (Itar-Tass, September 30) The foreign ministers of Russia and Iran, Yevgeny Primakov and Kamal Harazi, last week similarly described the agreements as the fruit of Russian-Iranian cooperation on Tajikistan and other regional issues.

The deputy commander of the Dushanbe police, Col. Asatullo Shomatov, has been arrested while transporting a hefty 62 kilograms of raw opium in his car. In neighboring Kyrgyzstan, a group of Internal Affairs and State Security officers was caught carrying and selling at least 137 kilograms of raw opium brought in from Tajikistan. Dushanbe sources were cited as commenting that "drug-running in Tajikistan could not thrive without the complicity of law-enforcement officials." One senior officer claimed that wage arrears force law-enforcement personnel into such complicity. (Itar-Tass and other Russian agencies, September 30) Moscow often cites the need to combat the drug trade as one rationale for propping up the Dushanbe authorities.

Thousands of Tajik refugees are stranded near Mazar-i-Sharif in northern Afghanistan on the Uzbek border after Uzbekistan denied them passage. Uzbekistan had previously agreed with the Tajik government and opposition and with UN authorities to allow Tajik refugees to be repatriated from Afghanistan via Uzbekistan and to open the largest crossing point, Termez, for that purpose. However, Uzbekistan recently closed the border after victorious Taliban forces reached it. The Tajik refugees are now trapped between the Taliban and local ethnic Uzbeks battling for control of Mazar-i-Sharif. On September 30, unidentified aircraft inadvertently bombed the largest refugee camp in the area. Only local Uzbek forces are known to possess and use combat aircraft in northern Afghanistan. Tajikistan’s National Reconciliation Commission yesterday appealed to the UN to press for a security corridor through Taliban-controlled territory and the opening of Termez for the repatriation of Tajik refugees via Uzbekistan.

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