After the second and official visit of the President of Iran Ibrahim Raisi to Dushanbe in the last two years, the relations between Tajikistan and Iran entered another stage. The relations between the two republics have witnessed many twists and turns in almost a decade.
During the President’s visit , on November 8 this year, he and the President of Tajikistan, Emomali Rahmon, announced a historic agreement on visa-free travel for the people of the two countries. Also, memorandums of understanding on trade, transport and culture were signed.
In the last year, visits of high-ranking officials of Tajikistan and Iran to each other’s territory have become a regular thing. The Minister of Defense of Iran, Reza Ashtiani, came to Dushanbe in October this year. Before that, in June, the Prosecutor General of Iran Mohammad Jaafar Muntaziri was in Tajikistan.
What was the problem?
The relationship between the two Persian-speaking countries, which have a common language, culture and history, and are considered to be important and common allies of Russia, has not always been smooth .
In the last decade and following the tensions that led to the suspension of investments, exports, direct flight of airplanes and the closure of Iranian charity and cultural centers in Tajikistan, the relationship between the two countries has been damaged.
In December 2015, Iran invited the leader of the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan, Muhiddin Kabiri, to a meeting in Tehran . This union took place just a few months after the Supreme Court of Tajikistan declared the HNIT banned. The image of welcoming Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei from Kabiri doubled Dushanbe’s anger.
Relations reached an all-time low in 2017. When the state television – a dependent apparatus of the Tajik government – accused Iran of investing in and ordering the murder of several well-known figures in 1997-2004. Iran called Tajikistan’s accusation baseless and protested .
At the height of these tensions, in 2017, Emomali Rahmon did not attend the second swearing-in ceremony of Hassan Rouhani, the former president of Iran.
When Dushanbe and Tehran tried to revive relations and Hasani Rouhani came to Tajikistan in June 2019, apparently the parties forgot everything.
However, in September 2020, the state television of Tajikistan again released a controversial film with the content of Iran’s support for militants in Tajikistan. Tehran called this allegation “baseless” and accused Dushanbe of violating the “rules of friendly relations” and warned of the “consequences of its behavior”.
The documentary aired at a time when the Supreme Court of Tajikistan reportedly jailed around 50 former graduates of Iranian universities behind closed doors on charges of treason and extremism.
What will happen next?
Emomali Rahmon did not participate in the swearing-in ceremony of Ibrahim Raisi in August 2021. They met the next month, when Raisi came to Tajikistan on his first foreign visit as the president of Iran .
Since then, bilateral relations have been heated. Dushanbe and Tehran announced at the beginning of 2022 that they will increase the trade from only 121 million dollars in 2021 to 500 million dollars. And Rahmon went to Tehran in May 2022. This was his first visit to Iran in the last nine years.
Ahmed Furqan Ozyakar, a master of international relations from Turkey, told Radio Ozodi, “as part of this closeness, we can expect more visits in the coming months at the ministerial level and military and security agreements, and an increase in trade capacity between Dushanbe and Tehran.”
However, considering the rough history of relations between Tajikistan and Iran, some analysts are not very optimistic. Turaj Atobaki, a well-known expert on the Middle East and Central Asia, does not ignore the possibility of a new “problem” appearing in the future.
Atobaki says that any international changes or serious political changes in one of these countries will affect the relations between Dushanbe and Tehran, which is under the burden of sanctions.
“Tajikistan’s approach to international affairs is different from Iran’s approach in this regard. Problems on the world stage can either make them older or drive them apart. “Problems such as Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine or the current Israel-Hamas war, which threatens to spread to Western Asia, can have such an effect,” Atobaki told Radio Ozodi.
Source : Радио Озоди