Second, relations between Iran and Tajikistan
Tajikistan is more influenced by Iran than any other country in Asia. In terms of language, Tajik belongs to the Persian language group. However, the most important difference between Persians and Tajiks is that Persians are Shiites and Tajiks are Sunnis. In Central Asia, there is a strong Sunni Hanafi tradition, especially in the centers of old cities and religious centers. If this religious tradition continued during the Soviet era, the Tajik religious views and understandings were completely different from the Persians.
Geographically, Iran and Tajikistan have no common land border, and Tehran has established close ties with Tajikistan through the Union of Persian-speaking Countries, which was established between Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan. The elimination of the Taliban regime as a result of the 2001 US intervention, which appeared to rival Iran’s Shiite Islamic ideology, led to increasing Iranian influence in Afghanistan. Iran is seen as a big brother among the three Persian-speaking countries due to economic reasons and statehood experience. Therefore, Iran’s participation and activities in Tajikistan is not only within the framework of language and cultural development, but also it is active in the economic and political fields.
Iran was the first country to recognize Tajikistan’s independence and the first to open its embassy in the country. At the same time, Tajikistan opened its first foreign representation in Tehran. Even before Tajikistan achieved independence, there were attempts to bring the two sides closer together. For example, an official Tajik delegation attended at Khomeini’s first anniversary, and this was the only Central Asian delegation to attend.
In short, strengthen Iran’s relations with Tajikistan has several positive points, including cohesion in religious, geography, historical, cultural and linguistic similarities. Iranian energy resources provide a large part of Tajikistan’s industrial products. When looking at bilateral relations in the first period, there is a more cultural dimension. Since 1992, relations have become stronger in the fields of media and sports. For example, Iran provided financial assistance for the construction of several mosques in Tajikistan. Film festivals and exhibitions of the Iranian Press Agency will be organized in Tajikistan. Due to the common language between Iran and Tajikistan, Tehran’s influence in Tajikistan appears to be increasing. Cultural relations have improved extensively since the civil war.
Tajikistan has a total population about 8 million, with 65% Tajiks, 25% Uzbeks, 3.5% Russians and 6.5% other groups. Religiously, it is 10% Christian, 85% Sunni Muslim and 5% Shiite Muslim. Tajikistan consists of three provinces: Kharough is the capital of Badakhshan, Qarghantapa is the capital of Khatlan and Khojandi is the capital of Saghda. In these three states, Badakhshan has autonomous status. The Ismailis, who call themselves Pamirli, estimated as 250,000 live in the autonomous region.
Iran’s policy in Central Asia is more targeted at balancing Turkey’s soft power, and to this end Iran supports the Persian Union against the Turkish-led Union of Turkish States. Therefore, the issue of cooperation and coordination between Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan is seen here. The Persian unification process has not been achieved as much as the Turkish unification process. Tehran uses the framework of the Economic Cooperation Organization between the three countries (Iran, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan) for the purpose of forming common values.
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