Tajik President Emomali Rahmon will arrive today in the Turkmen capital of Ashgabat to meet with Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov.
The meeting comes ahead of Friday’s Consultative Meeting of the Heads of State of Central Asia, which serves as an unofficial platform to discuss regional issues pertaining to geopolitics, environmental affairs and trade.
Notably, Rahmon and Berdimuhamedov are expected to discuss the consequences of the rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan. Following the announced withdrawal of American and allied troops from Afghanistan, thousands of refugees have fled the country due to power sharing struggles between the Taliban and the Afghan government, with many fleeing to neighboring Tajikistan. Events in Afghanistan are also likely to further delay work on the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Tajikistan Railway, which experienced delays due to Tajikistan withdrawing from the project in 2018 and re-entering in 2019.
The ongoing crisis and the possibility of a civil war in Afghanistan would pose a variety of border security issues for Tajikistan and Turkmenistan, with overwhelming refugee flow and Central Asian militia groups competing within Afghanistan, as well as imposing further trade barriers for the geographically isolated Tajikistan. Expect a dual focus on trade and border security in the upcoming talks.
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Nastia is a research analyst on the Current Developments team. She focuses on the former USSR region, specializing in security, Russian and Eurasian affairs.