Today, November 8, the President of the Republic of Iran Ibrahim Raisi will pay an official visit to Dushanbe and meet with the President of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon. Asia-Plus asked experts about the main purpose of the visit, expectations and prospects for Iran’s policy in Central Asia.
This is Ibrahim Raisi’s second visit to the republic after his election as President of the Republic of Iran. Last year, Emomali Rahmon made an official visit to Iran for the first time in several years.
These visits became possible after several years of cooling in relations between the two countries.
Currently, the authorities of the two republics often meet at different levels and declare strengthening cooperation.
The Iranian port of Chobahar is an opportunity that Tajikistan should not miss
Kasim Bekmuhammad, expert on Iran and Afghanistan:
- The official visit of the President of Iran to Tajikistan is aimed at meeting and negotiating with the leader of our country and signing new documents on bilateral cooperation.
According to unofficial information, in addition to the joint statement by the heads of the two countries, a number of important documents on cooperation in the economic, trade, transport, cultural, scientific, educational, and sports fields will be signed. As well as documents to facilitate the movement of citizens of the two countries.
According to the expert, strengthening and expanding bilateral trade and economic cooperation between Tajikistan and Iran is the most important issue, which, in his opinion, should be given serious attention.
“The existing level of cooperation in these areas is not proportional to the opportunities and potential that the two countries have,” Bekmuhammad is sure. – It is necessary to return to the stage when Iran was one of the five largest trading partners of Tajikistan and took steps to implement infrastructure projects such as the Sangtuda-2 hydroelectric power station and the Istiklol tunnel.
The expert notes that Iran is one of the most important routes to access free waters, both for Tajikistan and other Central Asian countries.
“Chobahar port is the most suitable and convenient route for our region,” he says. – Construction and investment activities are carried out at a rapid pace in this ocean port. Foreign countries are very interested in Chobahar, and Tajikistan should take steps as soon as possible to find a piece of land on its shores with a view to building a warehouse and other opportunities.
If this is not done, in a few years it will be difficult to find a suitable place on the shores of this port and prices will rise, Kasym Bekmukhammad is sure.
- Since the construction of the Zahidon-Chobahar railway will be completed in the next year and a half, Chobahar will become one of the most important ports and transit routes for Eurasian countries.
Therefore, I expect that attention will be paid to this important issue during the negotiations between the leaders of Tajikistan and Iran.
Today, Central Asia has acquired a special place in the world equation, which is associated, first of all, with the aggravation of conflicts between global and regional powers, the expert notes. The countries of Central Asia are taking measures at the bilateral and multilateral level to reduce the possible damage from the growing confrontation between the powers, the most obvious of which is the creation of the Organization of Turkic States.
We are witnessing regular meetings of the heads of this organization and the deepening integration of Turkish countries, which will have a significant impact on the political, cultural and distinctive atmosphere of the region in the near future.
“Therefore, for us, proximity and integration with countries of the same language, race and culture will be one of the ways to reduce the so-called “feeling of loneliness,” Bekmuhammad notes. “Unfortunately, Taliban-ruled Afghanistan cannot be taken into account or relied upon in this context. That leaves only Tajikistan and Iran, which must come up with a “road plan” for themselves to act by recognizing and defining each other’s interests and so-called “red lines.”
Strengthening Iran’s presence in Tajikistan will not be sensitive to other countries in the region, since the experience of the last three decades shows that they have no reason for this, the expert is sure. – The growing role of Iran in Tajikistan in no way contradicts the great interests of Russia and China, but is also to some extent combined. Only the West will remain, which, paying attention to the identity factor of Tajiks and Iranians, is sympathetic to the rapprochement of relations between the countries.
“The time has come to expand cooperation”
Parviz Mullojanov, Tajik political scientist:
- Iran is now in a difficult and sensitive political and economic situation. Conflict and disagreement with America and the West are growing and intensifying.
In this situation, Iran is trying to strengthen cooperation and its presence in the post-Soviet region.
On the other hand, Iran is concerned that the influence of Turkey and Saudi Arabia in the region will soon increase.
From this point of view, for Iran, Tajikistan (taking into account cultural and linguistic proximity) can become a good tool for expanding its cooperation and influence in the post-Soviet region.
This time, both sides can discuss more security issues – both in relation to Central Asia and Afghanistan.
Saadi Vorisov, expert on regional issues:
- The purpose of the visit, I think, is to expand ties and strengthen cooperation in various fields, as well as discuss various regional and global problems, including the example of Afghanistan.
I believe that the level of relations between the two countries has reached a new stage, which can lead to more serious cooperation. The exchange of official visits between the authorities of the two countries and the warming of bilateral relations confirm these statements.
It should not be forgotten that, in addition to historical, cultural and linguistic similarities, which are the basis for strengthening relations, Tajikistan and Iran are both members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and have good and friendly relations with the most influential regional powers – Russia and China.
In general, the atmosphere of cooperation, according to the expert, can be expanded in all respects and in all areas, and this trip can give it a fresh and serious impetus.
“However, I think that the time has come to expand cooperation in integration and strengthen cooperation on the issue of Afghanistan,” Saadi Vorisov noted.
“Tajikistan could become a gateway to Central Asia for Iran”
Rakhmatulla Abdullayev, expert on Afghanistan and Iran:
- In the first two decades of Tajikistan’s independence, Iran played a significant role in the construction of energy sources, roads and transport networks, trade in consumer goods, science and education, exchange of students and job seekers.
It is hoped that during Ibrahim Raisi’s visit to Dushanbe, the level of relations and cooperation will increase even more. There are many opportunities to develop profitable trade between Iran and Tajikistan, and this should be taken advantage of.
Regarding Iran’s role in Central Asia, it should be said that this country appeared in the region after the collapse of the Soviet Union and established good relations with the region. However, with increasing competition between Iran and Western countries, these relations have declined.
Currently, Iran wants to further strengthen these relations with the countries of the region, and Tajikistan can play an important role in this direction. It can be said that Tajikistan can become Iran’s gateway to Central Asia, and this opportunity cannot be ignored.
Irshod Soleimani, Tajik journalist:
- Tajikistan and Iran have something to say. Until this time, meetings were held at various levels, including in law enforcement agencies. But there are many other issues that require the political will of first-level leaders to resolve.
Iran and Tajikistan have a lot in common. There are many reasons for cooperation between the two Persian-speaking countries, from the political and economic sphere to the cultural and civilizational sphere. If more emphasis is placed on economic and cultural ties and regional cooperation, it will be beneficial for both countries.
The journalist recalls that Iran is a regional power in the region of Muslim countries, the Middle East and South-West Asia and Eastern civilization. It is also a country with large oil and gas reserves and one of the most prosperous economies.
In addition, it has been in the sphere of geopolitical interests of Western countries, including the United States, for many years and faces tough sanctions.
Moreover, now that Central Asia has become the center of world geopolitics, this region is also interesting for Iran’s foreign policy.
- This region is a source of influence of Iranian culture, both in terms of history and in terms of today’s values. As a regional power, Iran always participates in regional games, Soleimani concluded.
Source: Asia Plus TJ