An article by Qamar Nourulhaqov, an employee of the Center for Islamic Studies under the President of Tajikistan, accuses Iran of imposing its religious ideology on Tajikistan and attempting to export the Islamic revolution to Tajikistan.  For this purpose, Iran has supported the Islamic Revival Party of Tajikistan (IRPT) for many years, the author says.   

The paper titled Shiism: Ideology and Practice that was posted on Center’s website on October 20 and 21, in particular, notes that impasse in once friendly relationships between Tajikistan and Iran has been caused by Iran’s attempt to Islamize Tajik society and propagate ideas of Shiism.   

A general sense of the paper comes to the fact that the author demands that Iran stop its “political-and –religious game” in Tajikistan.   

Tajikistan and Iran have traditionally close relations, sharing many similar cultural, religious and ethnic identifiers and Iran has been a major sponsor of essential hydropower infrastructure in Tajikistan, but Iran has angered Tajikistan by welcoming IRPT leader Muhiddin Kabiri, who is wanted by police in Tajikistan to face various terrorism charges.

Recall, Iran invited IRPT leader Muhiddin Kabiri to attend the International Islamic Unity Conference that took place in Tehran on December 27-29, 2015.

Tajikistan’s MFA said in a statement on December 29, 2015 that it was “greatly concerned” that “the head of the extremist and terrorist former IRPT, Muhiddin Kabiri, who faces charges of attempting to overthrow the government … has been invited to the conference.”

In April 2016, Tajikistan’s customs service introduced restrictions on the import of food products from Iran. Dry leaf tea, poultry and other goods were ruled unacceptable for their allegedly poor quality.  In July 2016, the Tajik office of Iran’s Khomeini Imdod Committee, an international development fund, closed.  In early July this year, the Iranian trade and culture center in the Tajik northern city of Khujand, which was particularly appreciated for its library services and fast internet, closed its doors.  The shuttering reportedly came at the request of the Tajik authorities.

In August this year, Tajik authorities have accused Iran of backing high-profile killings in Tajikistan during the Tajik civil war in the 1990s. In a documentary broadcast on Tajik national television on August 8, the Interior Ministry of Tajikistan claimed that Iran was allegedly interested in unleashing civil war in Tajikistan, and it allegedly provided assistance to the Islamic Revival Party of Tajikistan (IRPT) and trained its militants in Iranian territory.  The documentary also accused Iran of involvement in the murder of several Tajik social and political figures as well as 20 Russian military officers in the country during the 1990s Tajik civil war. The documentary further claimed that at the time, Iran had organized a plot to “eliminate Tajik scientists and intellectuals.

Iran’s Embassy in Dushanbe on August 9 released a statement, in which it dismisses “unfounded claims made in the documentary.”  The statement posted on the Embassy’s website, in particular, described such claims as 'regrettable' saying there is no doubt that the documentary’s producers will not be able to mar cultural bonds and historic friendship between the two nations of Iran and Tajikistan.

It added that the noble nation of Tajikistan will never forget that Iran as one of the main founders and guarantors of Tajikistan’s peace and host of talks between the country's conflicting sides, has played a constructive role in ending Tajikistan's civil wars in 1990.