DUSHANBE/JULY 22 2021 (The Bulletin) — Tajikistan mobilised its entire army and put it on “high alert” for the first time since the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union as worries intensified about a move north into Central Asia by the Taliban.
Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan also mobilised their armies and Russia said that it was sending extra military hardware to its base in Tajikistan.
Media quoted a military source in Tajikistan as saying that the Taliban now controls around 80% of Afghanistan’s border with Tajikistan. It has pounced on Afghan government military weakness since the US started to withdraw its forces in May.
In a statement, the Tajik ministry of defence said that it had ordered the mobilisation of all its 100,000 regular soldiers, and another 130,000 reservists. Inspecting some of these forces in Dushanbe, Tajik President Emomali Rakhmon said that the Tajik military had to be ready to defend its borders.
“The situation in neighbouring Afghanistan, especially in the northern regions bordering with our country, remains very difficult and uncertain. The situation is getting more complicated day by day and even hour after hour,” he said.
Earlier this month, hundreds of Afghan government soldiers fled across the Uzbek and Tajik borders to escape the Taliban which now controls most of the northern section of Afghanistan, including the important border crossings into Central Asia, for the first time.
Also in Tajikistan, media said that Russia was sending an extra 17 BMP-2s to its base. The BMP-2 is a cross between an armoured personnel carrier and a tank that Russian infantry favour when deploying into battle. The Kommersant newspaper also reported that Russia had offered the US use of its base as a listening post to spy on the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Elsewhere in Central Asia, news leaked out of Turkmenistan of a road accident that killed 30 soldiers when, according to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, a military convoy collided with a truck and another vehicle. The RFE/RL source said the scene was “horrible”.
— This story was published in issue 493 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin, on July 22 2021
— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2021