Shahram Akbarzadeh
Shahram Akbarzadeh: ‘Geo-politics versus Democracy in Tajikistan,’ Demokratizatsiya, Vol. 14, No. 4 (Fall 2006). pp. 563-¬578.
Publication year: 2006

The convergence of international attention on Central Asia in the wake of the September 11, 2001, attacks offered hope for Tajikistan’s fragile democracy. Washington’s commitment to enhancing civil society and democratic rule was cause for celebration among the opposition activists. This was a peculiar experience as the Islamic Renaissance Party has been a mainstay of the opposition movement. Tajikistan is the only Central Asian republic that has allowed the open political engagement of an Islamic party. This has been a novel, albeit difficult experiment. But the resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan and ongoing security concerns appear to have diverted Washington’s attention from Tajikistan’s democratic state building. The United States has edged toward a policy aimed at preserving the status quo for fear of destabilizing the region. This policy is not dissimilar to that of Russia. Consequently, the prospects of an external boost to Tajikistan’s novel democratic experiment are fading fast.