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The Struggle For Power In Tajikistan. Does Rustam Emomali Have A Competitor Now?

Tuesday, November 1, 2016 - 18:48

If you want to amuse God, tell him about your plans. An ambiguous, but historically significant politician – President of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov – has shuffled off this mortal coil. Many were surprised – especially in Russia and in the West – with the absence of any cockalorum in terms of the transfer of power following his death. There have been no revolutions or unrest in the country. Everything went clearly, smoothly, in the famous Tashkent manner. The army stayed in the barracks, the National Security Council was in alert mode, the Ferghana valley witnessed no accidents.


However, this article will deal not the sunny Tashkent and its leaders. This will be a story about the neighboring, less powerful country, Tajikistan. Local President Emomali Rakhmon, who is commonly called the Leader of the Nation, the Founder of Peace and National Unity, began to think about a potential successor more actively after the president's death in the neighboring country.


In general, Emomali Rakhmon faces no problems or difficulties in this regard. In accordance with the recently amended Tajik legislation, he can rule the country indefinitely. The corresponding changes were adopted by the referendum in 2016. And in the case of a force majeure situation, the current President of Tajikistan will be replaced with his son Rustam Emomali. By 2020, this potential successor will be able to run for president, in accordance with the newly introduced age limit for the position of the head of state.


The difficulty lies in another aspect of the situation. Rustam Emomali is young, inexperienced and hot-headed. He can not be a particularly good policy maker yet. His older sister Ozoda Rakhmon is much better at handling the administrative tasks of the national level of importance. Besides, she is the head of the Executive Office of the President; previously, she worked as a deputy foreign minister. However, a woman president is nonsense in Tajikistan. True, it is not impossible. Still highly unlikely. Even though some officials at the US Embassy are longing to see that happen. It comes down to the age-old Western tolerance once again. A woman president in Tajikistan would be an example of “gender equality in the realities of Oriental despotism.” It could be recorded as an obvious victory to the account of the “good” forces, which Washington and Brussels represent.


But this will not happen. For different reasons. However, the well-informed circles in Dushanbe talk about a quiet ascent of a new strong figure onto Tajikistan's Olympus of power. So far, this figure is trying to keep a low profile, while systematically creating the necessary base. First of all, it is about the material base. In addition, this figure works carefully with individual representatives of the security forces, who have already swallowed the bait and are currently sitting quietly without complaining about their life. There are serious forces from overseas behind the politician bureaucrat in question. The tactics he utilized have been developed overseas, as well.


Let us start from the very beginning. The beloved daughter of the Tajik President – Rakhmon Ozoda – has a husband, Jamoliddin Nuraliev. Her husband has always been a deputy. A deputy in the Ministry of Finance, then a deputy in the National Bank. He has always been on the sidelines. He is a gray mouse with an “excellent” Western education (even though the rumor has it he only completed a couple of short courses in American universities).


Relatively recently, Jamoliddin Nuraliev obtained a micro-finance institution. In a very short span of time, it has transformed into “SpitamenBank,” a major bank by the Tajik standards. By the way, the institution is under foreign management. The owner absolutely does not trust local Tajik “experts.”


There is a very strange coincidence: “SpitamenBank” is going to be the intermediary link to process any payments to international financial organizations for the Tajik part of the project “CASA-1000” (the power line that will link Kyrgyzstan – Tajikistan – Afghanistan – Pakistan). If we are not mistaken, these payments will amount to about 300 million US dollars.


Allegedly, Jamoliddin Nuraliev also owns the company “Innovative Road Solution,” which is registered in the offshore of the Virgin Islands. This company is the operator of the only toll road in the Republic of Tajikistan, “Dushanbe – Khujand.” According to the information from the web-sites of the Tajik opposition (we are not sure if these guys can be trusted, though), the company receives huge profits (by the local standards) from operation of the toll highway. The revenues are said to be withdrawn abroad, bypassing the country's tax system. The actual volume of their daily income is 250,000-300,000 US dollars, which is confirmed by specialists who have previously worked on the route's operation. You can grab a calculator and check the figures for yourselves. However, the banker publicly denies the ownership of an offshore company and will never confirm the level of income from the enterprise. And of course, he does not intend to share this information either with his wife or with his president.


In 2016, Tajikistan has actually experienced a collapse of the banking system. On their last legs are a number of major banks, such as “Agroinvestbank” of M. Alimardon, “Tojiksodirotbank” of T. Pirov, and “Orienbank” of H. Asudullozoda. A few of smaller credit institutions have long fallen asleep in the Lord. They have no money for the current payments; moreover, they have accumulated debts to foreign embassies. For example, the Chinese diplomats in Dushanbe simply can not pull out their public money back from the banking system of Tajikistan.


Jamoliddin Nuraliev saves everyone and everything. He brings to the president both official and “very non-official” representatives of the international lending institutions (the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development), so that the parties could agree on reorganization of the banking sector of Tajikistan. This seems like the right decision, an excellent step. The interesting thing is that after Tajikistan receives assistance from the foreign financiers, Jamoliddin Nuraliev will gain control over virtually all the major banks of the country. This mechanism is already worked out. Money will be transferred through the National Bank, and then distributed by... guess who. Nuraliev has actually become the central banker of independent Tajikistan. His status obliges him to keep abreast of all the events related to the republic's economy, to receive “wise” pieces of advice from their foreign friends.


The first in line is “Agroinvestbank.” It has long been owned by the Tajik government only nominally. The situation in the banking organization is the most critical, although it is not advertised officially. The second in line is “Tojiksodirotbank.” The young financier has already taken it away from Dangara oligarch Pirov. He has introduced his suspiciously young crisis manager in the bank's management system, and established full control over the once-thriving organization. By the way, some European auditors who inspected “Tojiksodirotbank” in the spring and summer have said in the smoking room that about 55 million US dollars are kept in the accounts of the bank. They have been obtained by Jamoliddin Nuraliev from the Khujand toll road operation. However, the young financier is yet unable to cope with “Orienbank.” It will be very difficult to take something away from Hassan Asudullozoda; in addition, he has already withdrawn everything available to his German accounts. However, everything is possible in modern Tajikistan. The above-mentioned Pirov was considered an unsinkable, even honest Dangarian: however, his prospects are not any good as of now. Well, no one is going to pity these oligarchs who profit from the poorest population in the CIS.


The sources that are close to the Tajik specialized agencies and energy companies have mentioned Jamoliddin Nuraliev in the context of the “coming” of the Italian company “Salini Impregilo” to the Tajik market. This is the organization that will solve all the problems of the republic and build the Rogun hydropower plant. However, its services are approximately three time more expensive than those of Chinese, Iranians and Russian companies. One should take time to get to the bottom of these schemes. It will take a lot of time; one will need to attract a large number of experts. But we assure you: “SpitamenBank” is going to have fantastic “kickbacks” from the work with the Italian company.


Well, in the end we have the following. In a short time, cunning and rich politician Jamoliddin Nuraliev will come out of the shadows of the Dushanbe plane trees. He will control a significant portion of the country's banking sector. Which is a lot of money. Money will require power. And in this struggle for power, young and inexperienced Rustam Emomali will look like an obvious outsider in a few years. But if there is formed the tandem “Rakhmon – Nuraliev,” Tajikistan is to witness some interesting events. Olympus will pop from local hostilities. We will wait and see. The main thing is that there is no war in sunny Tajikistan. But the Leader of the Nation Emomali Rakhmon always has the last, decisive word. He will be able to get to the bottom of everything, and to put everything in its place. He does have similar experience, although it was not always positive.

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