Tajikistan Strengthens Border as Afghan and Tajik Officials Meet to Discuss Regional Support for Peace Talks
Tajikistan recently deployed additional troops to its southern border with Afghanistan. This decision comes after Afghan officials reported that a group of militants from Tajikistan had a hand in the Taliban’s capture of Maymay district in the northeastern province of Badakhshan, Afghanistan, in November. The officials said that the fighters were part of Jamaat Ansarullah, a militant group founded in Afghanistan by Tajik national, Amriddin Tabarov, in 2010. A video, allegedly showing Tajik militants fighting Afghan security forces, surfaced on social media in early December. The video showed fighters killing men wearing Afghan army unforms and civilian clothes. The Afghan authorities later confirmed the killings and the fighting in Maymay. Afghan member of parliament Latif Pedram published a list of names that he claimed were of the Tajikistani militants who participated in the Maymay fighting. The Tajik security service has since identified at least 15 Tajik citizens whose names were on the list published by Pedram or whose faces appeared on the video purportedly showing the fighting in Maymay.
Badakhshan Deputy Governor Akhtar Muhammad Khairzada said that militants, who are primarily based in the Warduj and Jurm districts, are also of other ethnicities such as Chechen, Uyghur, and Uzbek. Afghan authorities estimate that around 200 Tajik militants operate in the country, and in 2019, around 30 were estimated to be members of Jamaat Ansarullah. While it is not proven if Jamaat Ansarullah has acted separately, against, or in conjunction with the Islamic State Khorasan Province (IS-KP) – the Islamic State regional affiliate group – Ahmad Aziz Barez, a former Afghan consul in Tajikistan, said that the possible security threats should not be underemphasized.
On December 21-22, the Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation of Afghanistan (HCNR), Abdullah Abdullah, paid a visit to Dushanbe to discuss regional trade, energy, and security cooperation and garner regional support for peace talks with the Taliban. He met with Tajik President Emomali Rahmon, Prime Minister Qohir Rasoulzoda, Speaker of the Majlisi Namoyandagon (Tajikistan’s lower chamber of parliament) Mahmadtoir Zokirzoda, and Foreign Minister Sirojiddin Muhriddin. Abdullah said he and Rahmon discussed peace in Afghanistan as the country looks toward a second round of peace talks after reaching a breakthrough in early December. Tajikistan’s presidential press service reported that Rahmon supported the peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban and emphasized that potential constructive results of the peace talks would have positive outcomes for Afghanistan, the region, and the world.
Rahmon expressed concern at an online summit of leaders of the Commonwealth of Independent States over reported militant activity along the Tajik-Afghan border indicating the need for regional cooperation. The recent reports of Tajik militants operating in Badakhshan province in Afghanistan and Dushanbe’s subsequent decision to strengthen forces at the Afghan border demonstrate the importance of regional support for Afghan peace talks, and the support of Afghan security as an issue that affects regional stability.