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From: "Richard Hoagland" <rehoagland@comcast.net>
Subject: Fw: Oxford Analytica and Ambassador's Response [re: Tajikistan]
Date: Fri, 17 Mar 2006


Thought you might like to see the exchange below. I don't often respond to public material, but this one was a "must do."




The Oxford Analytica group heard that I didn't much like their recent analysis about Tajikistan, and the Oxford Analytica vice president wrote to me about my concern. I have attached below their original article, as well as my reply to him.


TAJIKISTAN: State weakness may mean renewed violence

Tuesday, March 7 2006

SUBJECT: Prospects for a renewed civil war in Tajikistan.

SIGNIFICANCE: Tajikistan is the poorest and the most unstable state in Central Asia. It has a fractured, multi-clan society, major drug-trafficking problem and weak political regime. The government's continuing inability to consolidate control means that, in the medium term, Tajikistan will remain a highly volatile state exposed to multiple security threats.

ANALYSIS: President Imomali Rahmonov's accession to power coincided with the 1993-97 civil war between the United Tajik Opposition (UTO) and Russian-backed Popular Front (PF). After more than a decade in power, he has failed to implement democratic reform, secure the country's border with Afghanistan or diversify an economy that remains heavily dependent on cotton.

Growing instability. Tajikistan's health and education systems, as well as its energy and transport networks, all were heavily damaged during the civil war and have not been properly restored. More than 80% of Tajikistan's population live in poverty, and some 900,000 Tajiks travel to Russia each year in the hope of being employed as unskilled labour in construction and municipal services. Preventing Tajikistan from sliding into another civil conflict is essential for the country's longer-term development. Yet the president is reported to be unperturbed by the scale and immediacy of the problem.

Range of threats. Rahmonov's growing reluctance to accommodate the interests of political and religious groups disloyal to him destabilises the country and encourages militant Islam. Three types of immediate threats are of particular concern:

* Insurgency. Rahmonov's victory in 1997 was secured with the assistance from Kulyab-based warlords, who aligned with the PF. The peace settlement that followed gave them seats in the post-war government along with prominent UTO leaders. However, since 2002, Rahmonov has been increasingly reluctant to preserve the balance between regional and ethnic post-war coalitions, relying instead on a narrow clique of former Soviet officials from his home town of Dangara. Moreover, he has attempted to undermine both the PF and the UTO by imprisoning their key leaders, assassinating them or forcing them to emigrate (see TAJIKISTAN: Reshuffle reveals underlying power play - February 11, 2004

</display.aspx?StoryDate=20040211&ProductCode=EEDB&StoryType=DB&StoryNumbe r=1>). The UTO and its moderate religious wing, the Islamic Renaissance Party (IRP), are increasingly denied a political voice, while Rahmonov's security services are quietly reopening criminal investigations against UTO civil war commanders. Attacks on PF and UTO interests are destabilising the state and may push it to the brink of another civil war.

* Rise of Islamic terrorism. The persecution of IRP activists has strengthened support for a more radical strand of Islam, represented in Tajikistan by the Islamic Movement of Tajikistan (IMT) and the local wing of Hizb ut-Tahrir (HT), which are both fighting for an Islamic state. The IMT is believed to have taken into itself hundreds of Taleban and Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan fighters of Tajik and Uzbek origin who were pushed out of Afghanistan and Kyrgyzstan between 2000 and 2003. Some UTO warlords, frustrated by Rahmonov's policies, are aligning themselves with the IMT. HT recruits its members from Uzbeks living in Tajikistan and Tajiks who have received military training in Islamic schools in Iran, Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates and Malaysia. The group disseminates propaganda material calling for the abolition of the secular state and plans terrorist attacks against government targets. In 2005 alone, 20 HT cells comprising over 100 members were identified and broken up by Tajik security services.

* Influx of drugs. Tajikistan remains a major transit hub for illicit drugs shipped from Afghanistan to Russia and the EU (see TAJIKISTAN: Drug problems set to increase - December 8, 2005

</display.aspx?StoryDate=20051208&ProductCode=CISDB&StoryType=DB&StoryNumb er=1>). Revenues generated by Tajik drug-trafficking groups are often spent to support local warlords who defy central government control. In case of an insurgency, many warlords, whose income comes primarily from trafficking drugs, are expected to side with the UTO and, in some cases, with radical Islamists against the Rahmonov government.

Government capabilities. Rahmonov's reluctance to accommodate PF and UTO interests has severely undermined the government's attempts to develop functional defence and security forces. Not all security agencies are fully accountable to Dushanbe:

* MoD. The military is an embryonic land force largely controlled by local warlords aligned with the UTO. The two army brigades of the Ministry of Defence (MoD) are poorly equipped, below their nominal strength and inferior to non-MoD paramilitaries. The only combat-ready unit believed to be loyal to Rahmonov is the 25th Motor-Rifle Battalion stationed in Dushanbe. Rahmonov is currently attempting to regain control over the military by restructuring the armed forces and shifting key warlords into non-MoD positions. In one such attempt to strip the army of its special operations and reconnaissance units, Rahmonov created a new armed service, the Mobile Forces, placing it under his direct control. However, UTO-affiliated interests continue to exercise considerable influence within the MoD.

* MVD. In 1997, the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD), dominated by Kulyab-based PF interests, lent its support to the government to defeat the Islamic opposition. This explains why most capable fighting units in Tajikistan are controlled by the MVD rather than the MoD. These include several small commando units and the 'jewel' of Tajik forces -- the 300-strong Special Operations Brigade. However, the growing rift between the mainstream PF and Rahmonov's Dangara clan has led several MVD commanders to question their loyalty to the president.

* NG. The National Guard (NG, previously known as the Presidential Guard) was the first government-controlled force to engage the Islamist opposition in 1993. It remains the only paramilitary force to be unconditionally loyal to Rahmonov. Set up with modest help from Russian troops based in Tajikistan, the NG comprises several motor-rifle units with a total strength of about 1,200 men. In addition, there are several local warlords that consider their units to be part of the NG and are loyal to Rahmonov. However, the NG's would be insufficient to restore order and reassert Rahmonov's control over the country in the case of an insurgency.

* KOGG. The Border Control Committee (KOGG) is an under-funded, poorly equipped and corrupt body, whose regional officers are known to have colluded with drug-trafficking gangs backed by UTO field commanders. Dozens of KOGG officials are arrested each year on drug-smuggling charges. In late 2005, the deputy head of the KOGG's intelligence division was detained while trying to deliver a large shipment of heroin to Russia. CONCLUSION: Rahmonov's regime appears to be too weak and corrupt to cope with three paramount challenges: political instability, the rise of militant Islam and the prevalence of anti-government forces inside Tajikistan's security community. Yet, with no credible political alternative to Rahmonov in sight, and with little international interest in Tajikistan, the country is set to remain a failed state on the brink of civil war. Keywords: EE, RUCIS, Central Asia, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Uzbekistan, economy, international relations, politics, social, civil war, corruption, crime, ethnic, foreign policy, government, guerrillas, infrastructure, military, narcotics, opposition, party, police, poverty, regional, religion, security, terrorism, war, election, employment, immigration


March 17, 2006

Mr. Marks:

Thanks for writing. I did indeed recently tell a mutual acquaintance about my reaction to "Tajikistan: State Weakness May Mean Renewed Violence" (March 7, 2006). I regularly read a large number of unclassified reports and analyses from many different sources. It helps me catch developments my team and I may have missed, and especially helps me keep a finger on the pulse of non-U.S. government thinking. Not surprisingly, I frequently find small factual errors, or don't fully agree with a point of view. But, frankly, the "State Weakness" analysis was without doubt the worst I have seen in my nearly three years here at Embassy Dushanbe and for the two years previous when I was Director for Caucasus and Central Asia in the State Department. The conclusion, "...the country is set to remain a failed state on the brink of civil war" is so far from reality that if one of my staff had turned this in, I would have responded, "What the hell have you been smoking?"

Had this analytical report been written eight or nine years ago, it would have been closer to the mark. It really reads as if your reporters and analysts are working from decade-old information and prejudices. Have any of them been here to Tajikistan in recent years? The UTO no longer exists. Warlords do not maintain militias - in fact "warlords" are now economic oligarchs and government officials. My folks who follow such things have only two very sketchy recent reports of something called the Islamic Movement of Tajikistan (IMT), and to say that Taleban are flocking to an IMT is a far stretch indeed, since the Taleban is predominantly a Pashtun movement antithetical to the Tajiks who revered Ahmed Shah Masood. The poverty level, according to the IMF and World Bank, is now 64 percent - your figure of 80 percent is several years out of date. The sentence - "Yet the president is reported to be unperturbed by the scale and immediacy of the problem." - seems to me symptomatic of the problems permeating this report. I immediately ask, "Reported by whom?" But, enough. I don't think you're looking for my line-by-line analysis.

The problem with a truly flawed analytical report like this one is that it gets into the mix of other sources and can influence other analyses.

I would really invite your analysts to come to Tajikistan and spend some time absorbing the reality of this country that has been doing a remarkable job pulling itself up by its bootstraps. I enjoy giving briefings to visitors, and would be pleased to do that for your folks. More important, they should not just listen to me and my team, but take enough time to meet a broad range of Tajik society to find out what this country really is about in 2006.


Dick Hoagland
U.S. Ambassador
Ambassador Richard E. Hoagland
American Embassy Dushanbe.