El presidente tayiko, Emomali Rahmon, habla mucho de democracia, pero su presidencia se ha caracterizado por un estancamiento económico y social, agudizado por la corrupción y la mala gestión. El único partido de oposición con verdadero peso, el Partido del Renacimiento Islámico de Tayikistán (PRIT), ha sido prohibido y tachado de terrorista. Las elecciones fraudulentas y docenas de detenciones en 2015 han callado a los adversarios políticos, y en marzo asesinaron en Turquía a un líder de la oposición en el exilio. Los activistas temen el acoso de las autoridades, y las ONG “actúan en un entorno incierto y de alto riesgo”.…  Seguir leyendo »

The appearance of Colonel Gulmurod Khalimov in an Islamic State propaganda video on May 27 sent a chill across Central Asia. The head of Tajikistan's Special Assignment Police Unit (OMON), a key element in President Emomali Rahmon's security apparatus, had disappeared shortly before. In the video he promised to return to wage violent jihad.

A veteran of brutal Tajik government operations, Khalimov has the qualifications. And Tajikistan, a desperately poor country ruled by a venal elite, is a vulnerable target. As I drove to its capital, Dushanbe, last summer through the ancient city of Khujand and the rickety, fume-filled, Iranian-built Shariston tunnel, I saw poverty and isolation that eclipses the worst pockets of deprivation in neighboring Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan.…  Seguir leyendo »

On June 16, Alexander Sodiqov, a Ph.D student in political science at the University of Toronto, was arrested in his native Tajikistan and reportedly charged with espionage and treason. His crime: investigating a local conflict that the government would rather you not know anything about.

It is easy to keep secrets in the Pamir Mountains — the rugged, sparsely populated eastern region of Tajikistan that borders China and Afghanistan. There is one flight a day from the capital Dushanbe to the region’s main city, Khorog, and it is canceled at the slightest hint of bad weather. The only alternative is a 15-or-so-hour drive over rough mountain roads.…  Seguir leyendo »

During my 30 years in Congress, I was privileged to visit most countries on this planet as a representative of the U.S. government. From the heart of Africa, to the jungles of Asia, to the rain forests of South America, I have seen it all.

Typically, the congressional delegations with which I traveled would visit these countries during major events, transitions or turning points in their histories. As a result, I consider myself honored to have been present and active in many of the world’s most significant events over the past 30 years.

Some of these events have a prominent place in our history books and our national consciousness, but many more do not.…  Seguir leyendo »