Thursday, August 27, 2015


The same-old, same-old story gets repeated so many times, one could almost write some of these entries without bothering to do any research.

The pro forma text reads: when Communism collapsed, [add name of country] became independent, but immediately plunged into civil war as rival oligarchs and warlords competed to personalise what had previously been nationalised under state ownership. The various ethnic groups all hate each other and the two main religious groups [insert Christians and Moslems on this occasion], detest each other even more. Tens of thousands have been killed and about 10% of the population has fled. Corruption is widespread and the economy is in tatters. Radical Islam is spreading. Russia keeps elements of its military there, and is in competition with China for access to (read "control of") the oil and gas and gold believed to be lying underground. This happens to be Tajikistan, but a dozen other countries would fit the text with perfect exactness.

The original Tajiks were a Persian tribe, from the era before Zoroastrianism, but today they make up little more than half of the population; a complicated half however, because they include the Pamiris who inhabit the autonomous province of Gorno-Badakhshan, and who not only speak a different language but also follow Shi'a where most Tajiks are Sunni. So add internal religious conflict to the one already mentioned, and the recipe for conflict is spiced up. 

And then add the ethnic conflicts to the religious ones: Russians, Crimean Tatars, Ukrainians, Belorussians, Georgians, Osetians, Armenians and even Koreans who migrated to the area as soldiers and laborers in the time of the Czars. Uzbeks, Kyrgyzi, Turkmen, Kazakhs, Uyghuri, and Jews from Bukhara and western Europe who were forcibly repatriated here during the Soviet era. Multi-culturalism at its best - if it worked. Still more spice for the plov in reality (plov is the national dish of Tajikistan; plov was actually the national dish of Uzbekistan first; no it wasn't; yes it was; plov is properly called pilav, or pilau, in other lands surrounding Tajikistan; the number of "correct" recipes for plov runs between 200 and 1200, depending on which book or website you read; the "v" at the end of plov may be hard or soft, depending on how you choose to pronounce it, but my way is correct, and as to your mother...and none of this is the reason why they all hate each other and can't wait to start another war.)

Marks for: 3 (the number of young British lawyers who have been recruited by Oxfam to assist a group of women lawyers in Tajikistan who are trying to set up the means of legally protecting women)

Marks against: unknown (the number of Tajiki women lawyers who are still alive after a bomb wrecked their offices, just days after the meeting with the British lawyers)

Copyright © 2015 David Prashker
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The Argaman Press

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