Simmering Border Tensions Continue To Hinder Development

Relations between Tajikistan and neighbouring Kyrgyzstan are set to remain tense following a January 11 shootout on the border of the Tajik-controlled exclave of Vorukh, which lies inside Kyrgyzstan's territory. The incident left six Kyrgyz and two Tajiks hospitalised. Government officials in both Dushanbe and Bishkek blame the other side for the shootout, and we do not rule out an escalation in violence as a result of tensions that have been bubbling under the surface for many years in the border regions.

External Threats Remain Primary Risk
Tajikistan - Short-Term Political Risk Rating and Components, Out of 100

We have long highlighted the potential for an uptick in inter-state conflict in the region, especially the densely populated and ethnically diverse Fergana Valley, in which Vorukh is situated ( see 'Afghan Withdrawal To Raise Central Asia Tensions', 8 May 2013). Moreover, the governments of both countries are set to receive weapons shipments from Russia totalling around US$1.2bn in the years ahead. The prospect of two opposing border forces made up of heavily armed, but poorly trained troops is likely to make the sort of incident seen in January a much more commonplace occurrence.

Exclave Dispute Unlikely To Be Resolved Any Time Soon
Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan - Vorukh Exclave

Relations between the two states have been fraught ever since the region was divided up under the rule of Soviet leader Josef Stalin, and any preliminary signal of an escalation in violence will probably deter foreign investment. Both countries rely heavily on commodities to bolster GDP growth (in Tajikistan's case aluminium). The Tajik government has long stated that it intends to diversify the economy away from commodity reliance; however without foreign investment, this is likely to prove unfeasible.

This article is tagged to:
Related sectors of this article: Political Risk, Defence, Foreign Policy, Armed Forces, Security
Geography: Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan

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