News / Middle East

Iran Extends Influence in Central Asia's Tajikistan

James Brooke

Iran is competing with Russia as it seeks to forge closer ties with Tajikistan, the one Persian-speaking nation of the former Soviet Central Asia.

The capitals of Iran and Tajikistan are 1,000 kilometers apart, but when their presidents meet, they don’t need interpreters.

Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spoke in Dushanbe, with Tajikistan’s President Emomali Rahmon. They lead the world’s two majority Persian-speaking nations.

Twenty years ago, when the Soviet Union collapsed, Iran was the first nation to recognize an independent Tajikistan. Iran’s red, white and green tricolor flag served as a model for Tajikistan’s flag.

Muhiddin Kabiri is head of Tajikistan’s Islamic Renewal Party:

Kabiri notes that Iranians are Shi'ite Muslims and Tajiks are Sunni Muslims. Otherwise, he says the two peoples are united by a common history, literature, and language.

Iranian President Ahmadinejad has called the relationship “one spirit in two bodies.”

The Iranian president was here in September to inaugurate a hydroelectric plant and sign an agreement for a second one. Iran is to operate both plants until it has recouped its investments through electricity sales.

Sayfullo Safarov is deputy director of Tajikistan’s Center for Strategic Studies, a government-affiliated think tank:

He says that the two nations’ interests align in energy, trade and culture.

Iran is the second largest foreign investor in Tajikistan after China. Now, China and Iran are planning to build a connecting rail line through Tajikistan and Afghanistan.

But Russia is still the dominant power here. Kabiri’s Islamic Party works closely with Tajik migrant workers in Russia.

He says Iran will never replace Russia. He notes that one million Tajik men now support their families by working in Russia.

But Moscow’s rule of Tajikistan lasted only one century, compared to Tajikistan’s 2,500 years of common history with the ancient Persian Empire.

Zafar Abdullayev, a pro-democracy blogger here, believes that Iran and Tajikistan will eventually form a visa-free common market.

He says that for Tajikistan, an officially largely secular nation, keys to closer ties will be more democracy and more tolerance in Iran.

Two decades after the collapse of Soviet power in Central Asia, Abdullayev and others say that now it is Iran’s turn to liberalize.

You May Like

Australia Knights Prince Philip, Sparking National Outrage

Abbott's surprise reintroduction of knights and dames in the country's honors system last year drew criticism that he was out of touch with national sentiment More

SAG Award Boosts 'Birdman' Oscar Hopes

Individual acting Oscars appear to be sewn up: SAG awards went to artists who won Golden Globes: Julianne Moore, Eddie Redmayne, Patricia Arquette, J.K. Simmons More

Katy Perry Lights Way for Super Bowl's Girl Power Moment

Pop star's selection to headline US football championship's halftime show extends NFL's trend of selecting artists who appeal to younger viewers More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sidesi
X
June Soh
January 23, 2015 10:03 PM
The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.
Video

Video US Marching Bands Grow Into a Show of Their Own

The 2014 Super Bowl halftime show was the most-watched in history - attracting an estimated 115 million viewers. That event featured pop star Bruno Mars. But the halftime show tradition started with marching bands, which still dominate the entertainment at U.S. high school and college American football games. But as Enming Liu reports in this story narrated by Adrianna Zhang, marching bands have grown into a show of their own.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid