Статья 'К вопросу об институциональном статусе вооруженных сил Таджикистана' - журнал 'Мировая политика' - NotaBene.ru
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World Politics

On the Institutional Status of the Armed forces of Tajikistan

Khadyrov Ravshan Yunusovich

PhD in Politics

Postgraduate student, Department of World Political Processes, MGIMO

115764, Russia, Moscow region, Moscow, ul. Moscow, 63, of. Moscow

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Abstract: The article draws attention to the new topic of determining the institutional status of the National Army in the state-political system of Tajikistan. Of interest is the positioning of the army institute in the totality of the political institutions of the state and society, its evolution in the process of depoliticization of power structures. It is established that the institute of the Army of Tajikistan has evolved from a political institution during the Civil war into an instrument of the policy of the peacetime authorities, and the actual power component of effectiveness does not fully correspond to the level of external threats. 30 years ago, on February 23, 1993, the armed forces of independent Tajikistan were born. On the anniversary date, speeches by the president, political and military figures, scientists are published, revealing the outstanding role of the army in saving the state during the difficult years of brutal political and military confrontation between secular patriotic and Islamist forces. However, the topic of the connection between the army and politics, the role of the army in politics is not in the focus of interest of the scientific community of Tajikistan, although addressing this issue is relevant in light of the rapid and dangerous changes in the military-political situation in the world and the Central Asian region. These circumstances determined the research question about the status of the Tajik army - it is a political institution or a policy tool, as well as the purpose and objectives of the publication – to reveal the conditions and process of institutionalization of the Tajik army, its functions and status as an institution of the state and society.


Tadjikistan, army, tarmy as institution, political institutions, depoliticization, armed forces, political regime, political process, politics, state

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30 years ago, on February 23, 1993, the armed forces (hereinafter we will use the term army) of independent Tajikistan were born. On the anniversary date, speeches by the president, political and military figures, scientists are published, revealing the outstanding role of the army in saving the state during the difficult years of brutal political and military confrontation between secular patriotic and Islamist forces. However, the topic of the connection between the army and politics, the role of the army in politics is not in the focus of interest of the scientific community of Tajikistan, although addressing this issue is relevant in light of the rapid and dangerous changes in the military-political situation in the world and the Central Asian region.

These circumstances determined the research question about the status of the Tajik army - it is a political institution or a policy instrument, as well as the purpose and objectives of the publication – to reveal the conditions and process of institutionalization of the Tajik army, its functions and status as an institution of the state and society. Solving research tasks, we will follow the recommendation of K.Y. Kolesnichenko, who proposed two levels of understanding the role of the army in politics: the first, theoretical level, the study of a set of views on the role and place of the army in various political regimes; the second - the analysis of the actual situation and the role of the armed forces in political processes [13, 6].

At least three points of view are presented in the scientific literature: the army is a political institution, a subject of politics, an integral element of the political system; the army is an object and instrument of politics; the army is outside or above politics. And the supporters of each point of view are right – the arguments are valid depending on a particular country, its political history and the position of the army in politics and society. K.Y. Kolesnichenko writes that in theory, the army together with the state belong to the institutional subsystem of the political system, under certain conditions can "acquire the qualities of an independent political institution, having the potential to make qualitative changes in the political system" [13,16]. Generalized theoretical arguments are reduced to the following theses: the army is created, improved, controlled by the political decisions of the state (the core of the political system); it participates in the political life of the country, interacts with authorities, other institutions of the political system of society, is an instrument for achieving political goals in which political functions are implemented by force.

Indeed, any army is historically a state institution, therefore, an institution of the political system of society in which the institutions of the state are system-forming. In some countries, the army is an institution that participates in the adoption and implementation of political decisions, in others, the army is used as a forceful, but politically neutral instrument of the state, which is considered a sign of a democratic state. Between them there is a large list of countries in which armies participate in politics to varying degrees of influence, are the support of political regimes or are under the control (of varying depth, rigidity and forms) of government and society [11, 12].

During the years of the USSR, the political system of Soviet society involved military personnel in political life, organized the interaction of the army with the institutions of the political system. This interaction was organized by military-political bodies, organizations of the CPSU and Komsomol as regular structures of units and divisions. The scientific and ideological support of this political institution was based on the theory of Marxism-Leninism, which explains the political position of the army as an armed force of the working people in the class struggle. However, in the Constitution of the USSR in Chapter 1. The political system, where its main institutions are listed, the army is not mentioned [6].

After the collapse of the USSR, one of the first attempts to comprehend the relations that arose between the army and the new government was made by military scientist V.M. Rodachin, believing that "the nature of development and stability of the socio-political system depend on them." He defined the role of the army as a guarantor of the stability of political power while preserving the character of a specific political institution in the conditions of depoliticization. The process of post–Soviet depoliticization of the army, according to V.M. Rodachin, is not the isolation of the army from politics, it is just that now it is not an institution and an independent subject of politics [16, 13]. In his logic, the army is an element of the state and the political system of society, it is a political institution that performs political functions in the life of the country, ensuring political stability by "non-participation in the political struggle", "absence of party sympathies and antipathies" [16, 12].

In the USSR, the depoliticization of the Institute of the army started on August 24-29, 1991 with the decree of President Mikhail Gorbachev, who abolished the military-political bodies of the USSR Armed Forces [7], followed by the army organizations of the CPSU and Komsomol, although the Union legislation did not provide for institutional, personnel depoliticization and departisation of power structures [9, 120].  According to E.I. Volgin, during these years there was not so much depoliticization as deinstitutionalization of the army of the USSR and Russia, which became "an integral part of the overall strategy of the struggle for power" [9, 130]. Years later, the Russian army won victories in counter-terrorism operations in the North Caucasus region, in a special operation to force peace in Georgia, while performing special tasks on the territory of Syria. These victories and the popular support of the army in a special military operation in Ukraine have re-institutionalized the army as the most important political institution that solves political problems by military means.

The armies of China and Pakistan are powerful political institutions. In these countries, the army has historically developed as an authoritative national institution with enormous political weight and influence in the state and society. The People's Liberation Army of China (PLA) is not only a system-forming institution that ensures the external security of the country, but also an effective instrument of state power that supports internal political stability. The PLA, having enormous political weight and influence in power and party structures, is an effective lever of force for regulating foreign policy and internal political processes. This is a prestigious social institution, a kind of career springboard for all segments of society. This status is ensured by the undivided leadership of the PLA by the Central Military Council of the CPC Central Committee, whose chairman performs the functions of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief of all the armed structures of the country. Although, as experts note, "there is a certain separation at the institutional level of the military and political hierarchy," and the professionalization of military service leads "to the partial liberation of the armed forces from unnecessarily dense party-political guardianship" [17, 24].

Since the emergence of independent Pakistan, its army has significantly influenced the course of domestic political events. The highest army elites came to the political forefront of the country four times and took power into their own hands [15, 324]. During the reign of the military regime of General M. Zia ul-Haq (1977-1988), the political role of the military in Pakistani society increased significantly, the military openly ruled the country, the army was entrusted with the mission of reforming Pakistani society as part of the program of Islamization of the country. During the reign of General P. Musharraf (1999-2008), the participation of the military in politics was disguised by a certain "democratic screen", under General A.P. Kiyani, a new model of the relationship between the military and the civil authorities was developed - the role of a political arbiter, which did not allow any unconstitutional change of power [10, 162]. However, even after that, the army elite, dissatisfied with the course of the country's rapprochement with Russia, exerted powerful political pressure on the National Assembly, seeking the resignation of Prime Minister Imran Khan. After his resignation, the Chief of Staff of the Ground Forces of Pakistan, K.J. Bajwa, in November 2022, stated "After much thought, the army decided that it would never interfere in the political process" [19]. However, the army as a military-political institution of Pakistani society, military elites represent the most influential institutionalized social group, "determining not only the basic principles in the field of defense and security, but also priorities in the country's foreign policy. The generals are also a key actor in the domestic political process" [14].

The Institute of the Army of Tajikistan was formed from the moment of the declaration of independence in completely different domestic political conditions, in the absence of its own regular military formations, any independent experience of military construction, specialists, except for a small number of regular Tajik officers of the Soviet Army. In the midst of the civil war, the XVI session of the Supreme Council of the Republic (16.11–02.12 1992) took place, which made historic decisions to strengthen the foundations of statehood.

Already on December 18, 1992, the Decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Council "On the creation of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Tajikistan" was issued, with which the formation of the National Army began. Its personnel base consisted of fighters of the Popular Front, communists, non-party activists and other forces supporting a secular, constitutional government. Military construction began with the unification of individual rebel and militia detachments of the Popular Front into regular units of the National Army and was accompanied by its institutionalization in society through victories in heavy battles, public recognition of merits in preserving a unified, secular state and the lives of tens of thousands of citizens, increased combat capability provided by the transfer of military equipment, combat experience by Russian servicemen of the 201st Gatchina twice the Red Banner Motorized Rifle Division (since 2004 – the 201st Russian military base).

On February 23, 1993, the first military parade took place, and this date is officially celebrated as the Day of the creation of the National Army of Tajikistan [18]. The legislative formalization of the institute of the army continued with the adoption of the law on June 25, 1993 "On the Armed Forces of the Republic of Tajikistan" [1, Article 2]. At the initial stage of the 1992-1997 civil war, the Tajik army actually acquired the characteristics of a subject of the political process: it determined who should be in the central authorities, forced the military-political structures of the United Tajik The opposition (GRT) to the world was an effective tool for managing a still politically divided society.

Since 1997, after the victory of the Popular Front and the signing of the Agreement on the Establishment of Peace and National Accord in Tajikistan, several thousand former field commanders and fighters of OTO detachments have joined the headquarters of army formations and the staff of units in accordance with the agreement. For the most part, they remained ideological Islamists-anti-communists, political enemies of the secular government and the center-left government. This is where the constitutional and legal mechanisms of depoliticizing the army as a power tool of the state, and not an internally conflicted armed force participating in or influencing the outcome of the struggle for power, were involved. The army was excluded from the management of society, its functions focused on protecting the country from military danger from outside and fighting internal extremists, rebels. This was how the model of interaction between the army and the political system of a democratic society was implemented.

When studying the legislation, legal practice of the authorities of Tajikistan, the following mechanisms of depoliticization of the army and other law enforcement agencies are found: regulation by the Constitution and laws of the purpose, recruitment and methods of use of the army in peacetime and wartime [3, Art.7, 11],[4, 8]; implementation of the principles of unconditional subordination of the army to executive, legislative, judicial bodies of state power; legal prohibition of the activities of political parties and movements in the army [3, Articles 7, 17],[1, Article 12]; strict legal, counterintelligence, partly parliamentary control over the activities of the army [1, Article 13]; restriction of political rights and freedoms of military personnel (with the exception of electoral ones), the opportunity to participate in political activities [2, Article 7. Article 8.]; selection of officers loyal to the government, regime for key positions; dismissal from military service, liquidation of rebellious servicemen who take up arms against the government; military, moral and political education of personnel, eliminating the influence of non-state structures and party-political forces. These measures excluded the independent political activity of the army leadership, ensured the monopoly rule of the state over the army and within it.

Under these conditions, a military elite of senior officers was gradually formed, who studied at the military academies of Russia and became the core of the new army institute. In recent years, as part of a "multi-vector" foreign policy, Tajik officers and cadets have been studying at military academies in Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, India, China, Pakistan, the Czech Republic and a number of other Western countries. Personnel distortions are also noticeable in the functioning of the Institute of the army - almost all senior command positions in the Ministry of Defense and other law enforcement agencies were replaced by representatives of the Avlod clans from the Khatlon region.

Dangara avlod: E. Rakhmon, President and Commander-in-Chief, H. Sharipov, Minister of the Interior (1996-2006), Sh. Khairulloev, Minister of Defense (1995-2013), S. Kasymov, commander of the brigade of Special Forces of the Interior Ministry (1994-2007), H. Abdurakhimov, Minister of Security (1999-2006), Chairman of the SCNT (2006-2010). Parkhorsky and other avlods of the region: G. Mirzoev, Commander of the Presidential Guard (1999-2005), G. Avzalov, Minister of Security (1999-2006), Chairman of the GKNB (2006-2010), S. Yatimov, Chairman of the GKNB (2010-present), R. Rahimzoda, Minister of Internal Affairs (2012-present), Sh. Mirzo, Minister of Defense (2013-present).

Difficult regional-clan relations in Tajikistan and personnel distortions cannot but affect the effectiveness of the functioning of the army institute, which is assessed by the level of training and combat capability of troops, weapons and military-technical equipment, the moral and psychological state and discipline of personnel and a number of other performance indicators. Mistakes in personnel policy have also led to a number of armed rebellions. Back in 1996-1998, Colonel, commander of the brigade of the Ministry of Defense of Tajikistan M. Khudoiberdyev, a former influential commander of the Popular Front, attempted three rebellions to overthrow the government in Dushanbe, and in November 1998 seized Khujand for a while, declaring the "Movement for a Just Peace in Tajikistan" by the authorities. In April-September 2015, the mutinies were led by former GRT field commanders. First, Colonel of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Tajikistan G. Khalimov, having taken up arms against the government, sided with the banned group "Islamic State", became one of its military leaders, then Major General A.M. Nazarzoda, Deputy Minister of Defense, mutinied and was killed during its suppression. After these events, there are almost no former militants left in the personnel of the current army, nor officers participating in the Popular Front who have real combat experience.

Experts recognize that the level of combat capability, the state of military equipment and weapons, its quantity and nomenclature do not correspond to the growing challenges and cross-border threats from the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA). The Institute of the Army, as you know, is a "cast" of society. The Tajik army is recruited by citizens who differ in education, worldview, degree of loyalty to the political regime, government and attitude to military service. The negative attitude towards the service, which is not considered socially prestigious, and the low political and moral state of the army personnel are alarming.

The leadership of the Ministry of Defense has been unable for many years to raise the level of discipline, to restore order with the logistical, household support of the troops. The problem of recruiting the army due to the evasion of conscripts has not been solved for many years: poor living conditions, the spread of irregular relationships lead to mass evasion from military service, therefore, military commissariat officers use forceful conscription measures ("catching" conscripts), which undermines the authority of the army service [12].  In February 2015, President E. Rahmon approved a new Concept of political and educational work in the armed forces of the country. The concept brings into the system political training, personnel work, moral and spiritual education of personnel, state policy measures to increase the status and authority of the army in society [5].

Certain positive changes have taken place in mobilization training. On July 22, 2021, for the first time in the history of Tajikistan, by order of E. Rahmon, all military personnel, as well as citizens staying in the mobilization reserve (a total of 230 thousand people) were alerted to conduct military exercises "Marz - 2021". The exercises showed that with an impending external threat, ordinary Tajiks are able to unite with the army in a single formation. These are necessary measures to unite the army, the government and society in the face of the military danger posed by the armed groups of the Taliban, which surpass the Tajik army in combat experience, as well as in numbers and weapons – by tens of times.  The authorities, the army and the majority of the people still associate Tajikistan's security guarantees with the deterrent combat potential of the 201st military base of Russia and the Collective Rapid Reaction Forces of the CSTO [8].

In the realities of Tajikistan, it is difficult to attribute the army to a political institution, that is, to a structure where political decisions are made. The current institutional status of the army does not claim a significant position among systemic political institutions. Unlike China and Pakistan, the Tajik army does not have such political weight and authority in society. The army is not a political institution, but an object of politics, it is not connected with the direct activities of the party–political forces of society and is completely depoliticized. The Tajik army faces only military tasks, its domestic political participation is limited to suppressing rebellious demonstrations, provocations of extremists and localization of border clashes with Kyrgyzstan. The effectiveness of the Tajik army institute is sufficient as an instrument of domestic policy, but not as an instrument of modern warfare. Its development is possible in close cooperation with the CSTO and within the framework of bilateral military-technical relations with Russia. Only then will the Tajik army become the main factor and guarantor of the military security of the state and the stability of political power.


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