The railway was supposed to diversify trade routes in one of the least-connected parts of Central Asia. But six months after workers broke ground on a new rail line from Turkmenistan to Tajikistan via northern Afghanistan, a dispute threatens to derail the whole project.
Dushanbe has hoped the 400-kilometer railway would help it bypass troublesome Uzbekistan, through which all its Soviet-era rails pass, and which has established a de facto economic blockade of its smaller, upstream neighbor. Tashkent is using hardball tactics in an effort to prevent Dushanbe from building the world’s tallest hydropower plant.
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Murat Sadykov is the pseudonym for a journalist specializing in Central Asian affairs.