Insights into the Rasht Insurgency

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Dushanbe, Tajikistan – According to senior Tajik government advisors, the 2010 Rasht valley insurgency was led by Tajik militants who returned to Tajikistan after a long deployment with the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) in Afghanistan. While the facts surrounding Rasht remain murky, they believe that the insurgents were part of a wider regional network that includes al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

By way of background, the Rasht insurgency was led by Mollo Abdullo, a veteran of the Tajik Civil War who rejected the 1997 peace settlement with President Rahmon’s regime. Ironically, the Tajik government appears to have relied upon a militia controlled by one of Abdullo’s former allies in the United Tajik Opposition (UTO). Even if Rasht is an isolated incident, it nonetheless shows that militants have penetrated Tajikistan from neighboring Afghanistan, and that Tajik forces may still lack the capacity necessary to address such threats on their own.

Prior to my departure for Central Asia a prominent Tajik scholar asked me if there was any indication of U.S. involvement in the Rasht events. For the record, my research has found nothing to indicate that U.S. or other foreign forces played any role in locating, much less eliminating, Mollo Abdullo’s forces.