Iran’s Role in the Murder of Two Americans in Tajikistan

Aug. 10 2018

On July 29, terrorists attacked a group of tourists in Tajikistan, killing four (including two Americans) and wounding three others. While Islamic State took responsibility for the attack, the attackers themselves seemed to have received training in Iran and were possibly working with a pro-Tehran group within Tajikistan. The former Soviet republic has a population that, unlike Shiite Iran, is 85-percent Sunni Muslim; but Tajik, the dominant language, is closely related to Persian. The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs documents the Islamic Republic’s recent attempts to sow discord there:

[S]enior Tajik interior-ministry officials told the BBC that Islamic State was not connected to this incident, but rather that an affiliated Islamic movement, the Tajik Islamic Renaissance Party (IRPT) whose activities were legally banned three years ago, planned and carried out the attack. . . . IRPT, which was founded in 1990, has strong ties with Iran. It was first outlawed in Tajikistan in 1993 [but after 1997] its activities took place openly . . . In 2015, . . . two of its representatives [were] elected to the 63-seat parliament. However, Tajikistan declared again in 2015 that the party was a terror organization. . . . Yet the ties between the party and Iran strengthened.

In December 2015, Iran not only invited Muhiddin Kabiri, chairman of the IRPT, to a conference that took place in Tehran, entitled “Islamic Movements around the World,” but there was also a meeting between Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Kabiri that aroused the anger of Tajikistan. . . . Relations between Tehran and Dushanbe continued to deteriorate [thereafter]. . . .

[T]he official news agency of Tajikistan published an article in the spring of 2017 emphasizing that Iran is gathering militias [affiliated with] IRPT that fought in the Syrian civil war on the border between Afghanistan and Tajikistan. According to the news agency, the movement’s militias . . . are located in training camps along that border with the purpose of carrying out further attacks in the area. . . .

The Iranian [state-controlled] media . . . interview Kabiri often. In an interview with the Tasnim agency in June 2018, Kabiri refers to “the natural right” of his party as an Islamic party to have strong ties to Iran “as every Islamic organization or movement needs to have connections with Iran, which is an Islamic country with an Islamic leadership.” According to him, his movement also maintains “strong ties with the Muslim Brotherhood.”

You have 2 free articles left this month

Sign up now for unlimited access

Subscribe Now

Already have an account? Log in now

Read more at Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

More about: Central Asia, Iran, ISIS, Islamism, Politics & Current Affairs, Terrorism

 

The Syrian Civil War May Be Coming to an End, but Three New Wars Are Rising There

March 26 2019

With both Islamic State and the major insurgent forces largely defeated, Syria now stands divided into three parts. Some 60 percent of the country, in the west and south, is in the hands of Bashar al-Assad and his allies. Another 30 percent, in the northeast, is in the hands of the mostly Kurdish, and American-backed, Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). The final 10 percent, in the northwest, is held by Sunni jihadists, some affiliated with al-Qaeda, under Turkish protection. But, writes Jonathan Spyer, the situation is far from stable. Kurds, likely linked to the SDF, have been waging an insurgency in the Turkish areas, and that’s only one of the problems:

The U.S.- and SDF-controlled area east of the Euphrates is also witnessing the stirrings of internal insurgency directed from outside. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, “236 [SDF] fighters, civilians, oil workers, and officials” have been killed since August 2018 in incidents unrelated to the frontline conflict against Islamic State. . . . The SDF blames Turkey for these actions, and for earlier killings such as that of a prominent local Kurdish official. . . . There are other plausible suspects within Syria, however, including the Assad regime (or its Iranian allies) or Islamic State, all of which are enemies of the U.S.-supported Kurds.

The area controlled by the regime is by far the most secure of Syria’s three separate regions. [But, for instance, in] the restive Daraa province in the southwest, [there has been] a renewed small-scale insurgency against the Assad regime. . . .

As Islamic State’s caliphate disappears from Syria’s map, the country is settling into a twilight reality of de-facto division, in which a variety of low-burning insurgencies continue to claim lives. Open warfare in Syria is largely over. Peace, however, will remain a distant hope.

You have 1 free article left this month

Sign up now for unlimited access

Subscribe Now

Already have an account? Log in now

Read more at Foreign Policy

More about: ISIS, Kurds, Politics & Current Affairs, Syrian civil war, Turkey