A Seminar for Central Asian Studies was held at the Sanjo Kaikan of the University of Tokyo on Saturday March 7, 1998. The following is a synopsis of the report presented there by Dr. Stehane A. Dudoignon.

The full text will be published in the Working Paper Series.



Dr. Stehane A. DUDOIGNON

Lavoisier research fellow of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Lecturer at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (Paris)


Civil War in Tajikistan has revealed the permanence of various deeply-rooted systems of economic and political solidarity found, mainly on a local or regional basis, in the nation. These solidarity networks appear to be not purely a result of ancient history, but modern structures with constantly evolving boundaries and functions, regularly revived during the entire Soviet period.

The main peculiarity of Tajikistan in post-Soviet political sociology comes from the fact that these territorially based solidarity networks cross and divide the state nomeklatura (including official intelligentisa). This nomenklatura's successive division had an extensive influence on the gestation and evolution of the conflict, whose logic they had determined from the very beginning.

This evolution was conditioned by the strategy of different segments of the social elite: the official intelligentsia, the economy technocrats and the security specialists, all assembled for the first time against part of Tajik CP's apparatus, then targetted by the andropovian purges (the famous "cotton mafia"case). Things would have been simple if each of these components was not linked to a regionally based solidarity network.

The central organs of Tajik CP and national economy were dominated by a nomenklatura from the region of Kujand, the great northern commercial and industrial city. The political police was in the hands of Pamirian Ismailis since the middle of the 1970's. As for the republican intelligentsia, it was divided into two well distinguished levels, which soon opposed each other in an antagonistic relationship.

First were the intellectuals who had descended from the generation installed in 1937 and educated in the first Soviet universities of Bukhara and Samarkand. These Bukharan and Samarkandi litterati then educated in turn a new generation of intellectuals who had arrived from regions less favored by the economic development. These people were often born in the migrant (muhajir) communities of the cotton valley of the river Wakhsh, where they have been migrating to, since the 1950's, from their native Kuhistan, the mountain regions of central Tajikistan.

When the USSR began to collapse, these agricultural communities did not have any access to the key activity fields opening the way to nomenklatura. They therefore tried to develop individual patches of land, which was also the strategy of the well-known Meskhs in neighboring Uzbekistan. At the same time, young generations of migrant Kuhistanians came to study in Dushanabe, where they enriched the humanitarian intelligentsia.

Opposing the economic monopoly of the ruling networks, those muhajir agricultural communities and intelligentsia became the most active and numerous members of the Tajik islamist movement in the early 1980's (already, around the time of Sayyid 'Abdullah Nuri) and of the radical political organizations in the early 1990's (the Democratic Party, Nahzat-i- Islami). Their discourse was centered on privatisation of land and hard political recentralisation.

The main turn of the conflict occured in the autumn of 1991, when radical/muhajir intelligentsia joined in a common front with the regional autonomists from Pamir, who controlled the political police at the time. They joined forces against liberal intellectuals (whom we may call "Samarkandis"), economy technocrats from Khujand, and the apparachiks from the south (Kulab and the Khatlan province)-- the latter having been the favourite political target of Pamirian KGBists and of Wakhsh islamists for two decades...