This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.
The U.S. Embassy in Dushanbe on September 1 announced plans to build a border-guard facility on the Tajik-Afghan-Uzbek border, where tensions have risen in recent months as Taliban fighters captured Afghan regions that abut Central Asia’s post-Soviet republics.
The embassy said a groundbreaking ceremony to launch the project is scheduled for “early 2022.”
“The new border detachment will replace the old one in Shahritus and allow the Border Service to deploy troops to the border areas as soon as possible in response to threats,” it said in a statement.
The facility will house an unspecified number of border guards and their families.
Central Asians states bordering Afghanistan are concerned about security threats emanating from the war-torn country and the potential for tens of thousands of refugees to pour over the border to avoid life under the fundamentalist Taliban.
The United States and Russia have each responded to Taliban gains with increased diplomatic outreach among Tajikistan and its neighbors.
“The United States and Tajikistan enjoy strong security cooperation, and this Border Detachment project is another example of our shared commitment to the security and sovereignty of Tajikistan and Central Asia,” the embassy quoted U.S. Ambassador John Pommersheim as saying.
It cited more than $300 million in U.S. security assistance to Tajikistan since 2002.
During talks with visiting Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi in Dushanbe on August 25, Tajik President Emomali Rahmon expressed his vision for a future Afghan government under Taliban control with all ethnic groups represented in the next cabinet.
Thousands of Tajiks are said to have volunteered recently to help locals defend the heavily Tajik region of the Panjshir Valley, which has so far resisted Taliban capture, although participation in foreign military ventures is banned under Tajik law.
Russia, which has military bases in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, has vowed to defend Moscow’s allies in Central Asia against any security threat from Afghanistan.
The Russia-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) said last week that the alliance planned to hold fresh military exercises in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan in connection with the ongoing situation in Afghanistan.
Three more sets of CSTO military maneuvers will be held close to the Tajik-Afghan border in October, with a fourth scheduled for November.