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Conflict Management final

Conflict Management final

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Published by Neil Hilton

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Published by: Neil Hilton on Jun 13, 2009
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 Neil HiltonPSPA 315AProfessor Timur GokselJune 9, 2009
International Mediation in Tajikistan:A United Nations Case Study
 Neil HiltonPSPA 315AProfessor Timur GokselJune 9, 2009
International Mediation in Tajikistan:A United Nations Case Study
By nature of their relative unimportance to Western interests compared to states likeAfghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran, the most Central Asian republics get little attention in Americanuniversity systems. The rest of the “-stan” states have valuable natural resources, but do not tradeas heavily with the West as some other countries with stronger economies or larger supplies of  petroleum and natural gas. Despite the presence of radical Islam in many of these states,involvement with international terrorism seems relatively scarce. American business investmentis also fairly uncommon in the region, as it falls much more heavily under the Russian sphere of influence. While the -stans may have high levels of poverty and unemployment, they do notsuffer as badly as places like Southeast Asia or sub-Saharan Africa, so do not garner as muchattention in the media or academia. For these reasons, these states are often forgotten about byWesterners, and their problems ignored. Tajikistan is one of these countries.Between 1992 and 1997, the newly independent Republic of Tajikistan was embroiled ina bloody civil war that killed 50,000-100,000 people, created 1.2 million refugees, and left theeconomy, infrastructure, and government in complete disarray. Evidence of ethnic cleansingexists, as well. The war was extremely violent, with both sides receiving aid from externalsources in the traditional proxy fashion, and peace was not achieved for years until the efforts of international mediators finally resulted in an accord. This paper seeks to give an overview of theconflict, and then examine the role of the United Nations as a third-party mediator in the civilwar in Tajikistan, as well as evaluate its efficacy and methods based on I. William Zartman andSaadia Touval’s prescriptions for international mediation.Tajikistan’s history as a divided nation goes back to the 1920s, as it was incorporated intothe Soviet Union. It became a Socialist Republic in 1929, after a series of shifts and divisions inadministration. The majority of ethnic Tajiks actually lived in what became Uzbekistan, and largecities and cultural centers like Bukhara and Samarkand fell under Uzbek territory. The result of 
this was a people that lacked an intellectual elite, strong infrastructure, or clear cultural identity,and who struggled to build a strong state (Slim and Hodiza). Furthermore, the country developedunevenly, as the northern area of the country became much more industrialized and enjoyedstronger relations with the central Soviet government. This trend continued through the decadesuntil the early 1990s, and was a major contributing factor in the conflict. Though it is thesmallest state geographically in Central Asia, Tajikistan had a wide variety of minority populations, in addition to the predominant Tajik ethnicity and Sunni Islam religious adherence.The political monopoly inherent in the relationship between a rising Northern elite and Moscowled to a great deal of resentment amongst other communities, and several opposition groupsemerged as
gave more opportunities for open dissent.The most vocal anti-government groups were the Islamic clergy, who sought a larger rolein the cultural and political life of the country, liberal democrats that sought capitalism andstronger ties with the West, and nationalists whose primary goal was Tajik independence.Forming a popular coalition, these groups faced off against the Soviet-backed forces, composedmainly of individuals from the northern Leninabad region and their allies in the southeasternKolabi region, who lacked much representation but were adept at forming strong militias to back the government (Akiner and Barnes). Though conflict between the two coalitions was at firstlimited to nonviolent protests, the situation quickly devolved as political pressures on both sidesrose. After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, the new Republic of Tajikistan found itself in a precarious position. Infighting amongst the former Communist leadership over proper successionduring the transitional period led to widespread protests, forcing the government to holdmultiparty elections. Nine candidates ran, but the winner was Rahmon Nabiyev, a former leader of the Communist Party who had seized power for a month earlier in the year through politicalmanipulation. Tension rose as many questioned the legitimacy of Nabiyev’s ascension, and theconflict escalated. A war based on political, ethnic, religious, economic, and ideologicaldifferences broke out in May 1992 (Akiner and Barnes). The first year of that war was the worst, but it took four more years after that for international mediators to finally bring it to a close.Though the United States and Russia were involved as well, the mediation primarily took the form of a United Nations effort. The United Nations Mission of Observers to Tajikistan(UNMOT) was created in 1994 and found considerable success in mediating negotiations between the government and opposition coalitions on issues like prisoner trading, temporary

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