States Agency for International Development (USAID) is increasing its
presence in the Central Asia, particularly in Tajikistan through various
economic, trade, healthcare and social projects. Only for the last 3 years the
USAID has introduced a number of agriculture projects for the country’s
farmers, has launched campaigns aimed at fighting Tuberculosis along with other
projects involving funding of local prospective journalists, students,
businessmen and entrepreneurs. According to the Agency, USAID investment strategy
in Tajikistan involves large-scale and ambitious projects for the next 3-4
years that aim to increase the living standard in the country.
Even though the US impact and investments in Tajikistan’s economy cannot
be underestimated, the history has assured that nothing is free and there is
some certain price for every good that’s been done. Tajikistan, a small country
in the Central Asia with poor economy but strong authoritative political system,
could become a perfect potential target for US so-called democratization policy.
Positive social and economic changes integrated by the United States in Tajikistan
are building up a solid ground for lobbying Washington political ambitions in
Fostering the pro-Western values in young people’s minds may undermine
the country’s economy and political system in the future – the world has seen
the US hand in attempting the coup of Venezuela, Ukraine and Turkey. And once
the economic and trade compass of a US “ally” country contradicts to the US course,
the result could be a trade war, as it was a case for China. For Tajikistan, а landlocked country with the agriculture-based economy
such consequences may be far more than tragic.
The friendship of Tajikistan’s political elite with the United States has quite a thin basis– the historic, cultural, social and economic paths of the countries have little in common. By infusing money in Tajikistan’s economy, business and social projects the United States would likely start strengthening its political system by proposing candidates loyal to Washington. Given the upcoming elections in Tajikistan in 2020 and the 30th anniversary of the Republic next year, the US political ambitions in the country are quite clear. Once and if they are met the USAID projects and investments may wind down and the entire political system of the country might burst in quite a natural way. In this case, Tajikistan’s political future might inherit the Bolivia’s fate.
A new economic cluster to support Kyrgyzstan’s light industry is to be launched in Bishkek. The project initiated by the USAID aims to enhance the country’s light industry businesses and to provide grant support to entrepreneurs, said the press-office of the US Embassy in Bishkek. However, the US initiative confronts the interests of the EU and China in the region. Earlier in April, President of Kyrgyzstan Sooronbay Jeenbekov made his first visit to Germany after becoming President in 2017. The purpose of the visit was to expand trade and economic relations with Germany, to attract EU’s investment in the region and to reform the banking sector of the country. As a result, 11 bilateral contracts were signed between Kyrgyz and German companies. Later in April Jeenbekov met with Chinese President Xi Jinping in purpose to “open a new page of Kyrgyz-Chinese relations” and to take part in the second One Belt One Road Forum. Jeenbekov’s aim to have tighter relations with the EU and China is explained by the country’s ambitions to play a solid role in the Eurasia integration and to become a strategic transit zone for the global One Belt One Road initiative. On the other hand, the US economic policy in the country might disturb the EU transparent business approach and will lead to Washington’s control over Kyrgyz enterprises. Stronger positions of the US in Kyrgyzstan will also stall the plans of Beijing to integrate infrastructure projects in Kyrgyzstan . The aggravation of relations with China will have a negative impact on the Kyrgyz economy, given its high dependence on Chinese investment and the Bishkek’s inclusion into One Belt One Road initiative. The current situation puts Kyrgyzstan at the crossroads and the way the country will choose will be defining its long-term development for the next decades. According to local politicians, the political and economic compass President Jeenbekov will choose will also play a crucial role during the 2020 Kyrgyz Presidential elections campaign.
The United States are to start a new media campaign in Tajikistan that aims to prevent corruption and other violations by Tajik authorities. Funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the foundation «Eurasia of the Central Asia- Tajikistan» launched a series of training programs for local journalists earlier this years. The program allows professional journalists to learn about latest search engine technologies and media promotion tools to report leaked information about Tajik authorities as well as to learn about possible ways of legal protection against government sanctions and bans.
While the Tajik State Committee for National Security tightens the grip over the national media, a large part of the US media programs is being provided abroad in neighbor countries. For instance, in February 2017 a number of local journalists in collaboration with non-profit organization «InterNews Network» were sent to Armenia to take an internship in the local news agency «Hetq.am». As the program suggests, once the interns return back, they are supposed to perform media investigations on corruption and other misdemeanors pursued by high authorities in Tajikistan. In addition to that, the 3 local shooting teams will be selected to take up the training in the United States where they would master their skills in making documentary movies on human rights protection, as a part of the American project «Media Co-Op».
Meanwhile, among the project trainers are international experts who were involved in training of activists and protesters in color revolutions in Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan and Georgia. Given the fact that the project graduates are to be provided by financial and legal support from the United States they are likely to pursue investigations that would undermine credibility of the Tajik authorities and the President Emomali Rahmon. Which by no means rises a debate about future Tajik-US relations and real intentions of Washington policy in Tajikistan
Media campaigns and journalist trainings funded by the US are common in Tajikistan and around the Central Asia. Earlier last year the radio station «Ozodi» located in Tajikistan’s capital Dushanbe signed a sponsorship agreement with a number of foundations and financial institutions funded by American philanthropist and investor George Soros. As a result, the station openly criticized Dushanbe’s support for Moscow-Beijing economic cooperation, discouraged rapprochement of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan in terms of water consumption, economic and cross-border cooperation and tried to prevent anti-terrorist cooperation between Dushanbe, Moscow and Beijing.