Could peaceful Tajikistan soon become a violent place full of warlords and Islamists? Some seem to think so. After the suicide car bombing in the north, Channel 4 in the UK asked “Is Tajikistan the next Afghanistan?” Well, 70,000 dead in the 1990s in Tajikistan means that one does not have to go far to make comparisons. But the blogger at Channel 4 made a comment that led to several of my friends to email mail with the lols:
“It’s not clear what happened here yet, but it is clearer what it means.”
Right. OK. But what about news sources that actually focus on the region in a more in-depth manner? RFE/RL (one of the better outlets Central Asia news) reported on the suicide bombing that killed the bombers plus two police officers. RFE/RL called this Tajikistan’s “first suicide bombing,” which Lenka Koutnakova disagrees with.
And Reuters writes today on a “bombing” at a nightclub in Dushanbe, the capital. The “pyrotechnics” at the nightclub were amateur, whether intentionally or because they don’t know how to build a bomb is unknown. Reuters writes about the suspects:
A local business owner said he feared further attacks.
“The country is moving more and more towards Islamisation. It’s difficult for those who are more inclined towards the secular way of life, and not the religious,” said the man, who owns a cafe in Dushanbe and asked not to be identified.
He said he was approached by a group of young men at the beginning of Ramadan, who advised him to close his cafe during daylight hours and to refrain from selling alcohol.
And all of this comes after the spectacular and deadly prison break two weeks ago that included a few Islamists. And earlier this year it was confirmed that the US will be stepping up its modest military engagement with the government of Tajikistan.
So is Tajikistan the next [insert scary country]? I doubt it, but I don’t exactly foresee a bright, rosy future either. However, I don’t feel worried at all about returning to Tajikistan for more research (my dissertation is on Tajikistan). It’s an interesting place and the people are great.
Lenin lives on around the corner from where I lived in Qurghonteppa:
If you are one of those people who wants to follow Tajikistan, you can check out the research portal I built. All of the important parts minus the bibliography are complete, but I would appreciate suggestions for improvements.