Seeking new regional allies, Iran has boosted ties with Tajikistan in the eastern regions. From economic partnership to security and political issues, Tehran and Dushanbe have much common ground to proceed with.
Tehran has traditionally been a regional power with considerable influence. The country has historically emphasized assistance for friendly governments and non-state entities in the Arab states in western borders and beyond.
However, on May 30, Tajikistan President paid a visit to Iran, signaling a new strategic approach. The establishment of a fresh drone plant by Iran in Tajikistan’s capital demonstrates Iran’s “look east” foreign policy stance. In the meanwhile, Tehran seeks to expand its ties with non-Western nations.
The Ababil-2 drone, which Iran claims has 125-mile range, will be manufactured at the new plant in Tajikistan. Iran’s plant is the country’s first of its kind in another country. It emphasizes Tehran’s potential to sell military weapons to allies and friends in order to contribute to greater security and long-term peace.
Drones from Tehran have had influence on Arab nations like Yemen and Lebanon. They’ve been crucial to Iran and its regional allies’ efforts to enhance their positions. They also raised the alarms in Washington, Tel Aviv, and certain Arab nations in southern regions.
“As the poorest of the former Soviet republics, Tajikistan was happy to gain new international partners to help reduce its dependence on Russia,” an expert in British Open University says. “While for Iran, it provided an opening to central Asia and the reinvigoration of a wider Persian cultural space, which helped combat Western-led efforts at isolating the Islamic Republic.”
In the middle years of last decade, ties between Iran and Tajikistan deteriorated. Nonetheless, the relations have increased again, with bilateral commerce exceeding to over $121 million between during last two years.
Tajikistan in an Unstable Region
Iranian and Tajik leaders vowed months ago to increase yearly commerce to $500 million. Tajikistan views Iran’s key accesses as essential to its capacity to reach the Persian Gulf and Oman Sea.
Iran and Tajikistan are boosting their ties, particularly in terms of defense interactions. Both nations are apprehensive about instability in the neighboring Afghanistan and its fragmented ruling system. “Iran also defines stability and security in Tajikistan and Central Asia as its strategic interests. The northeast is the only safe area without a direct threat in the peripheral geography of Iran,” an Iranian expert believes.
Dushanbe aims to improve Tajikistan’s fortifications against militant groups and stop illicit entry from Afghanistan and Kyrgyzstan borderlines. Concerns about ISKP, ISIS‘ Central Asian offshoot, and other terrorist organizations underscore why Tehran wants to strengthen security cooperation with neighboring countries bordering Afghanistan.
Rahmon tries to negotiate with a number of players across the region in order to take full advantage of his influence. This is influenced by geostrategic policies as well as financial forecasts.
Iran intends to offset Saudi clout in Dushanbe while making gains in the country and strengthening defense ties with the nation. When relations between Tehran and Dushanbe were strained, Saudi Arabia made steps to reinforce the ties with Tajikistan.
Rivalry between Turkey and Iran is a key factor in policy-making processes. Baku has already received Bayraktar drones, which Ankara has managed to sell to other Central Asian countries. Tehran ‘s new plant in Dushanbe is most likely part of a strategy to sustain rivalry with Ankara.
Tajikistan is a non-Turkic nation with strong links to Iran, ranging from history to language and culture. Despite manufacturing less sophisticated drones than Turkey, Tehran holds a superiority over Ankara in Cent-Asian region.