Persistent feuding between Tajikistan and Uzbekistan has troubling implications for the future of Afghanistan.
Relations between Tajikistan and Uzbekistan have been frosty for most of the post- Soviet era, but they have taken a particularly nasty turn lately. Uzbek leaders are now maintaining an economic blockade on Tajikistan, halting rail traffic and interrupting electricity supplies. The font of discord appears to be Tajikistan’s efforts to build the Rogun hydropower plant. Uzbek authorities fear Rogun would diminish the amount of water available for their country’s all important cotton sector, as well as weaken Tashkent’s political leverage in Central Asia.
The three most influential powers operating in Central Asia – the United States, China and Russia -- are all keenly interested in easing Tajik-Uzbek tension. But they appear to have few instruments at their disposal to compel Tashkent to ease up on Dushanbe.
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Stephen Blank is a professor at the US Army War College. The views expressed in this article do not in any way represent the views of the US Army, Defense Department or the US Government.