The current Tajik Republic hearkens back to the Samanid Empire (A.D. 875-999), which ruled what is now Tajikistan as well as territory to the south and west, as their role model and name for their currency. During their reign, the Samanids supported the revival of the written Persian language in the wake of the Arab Islamic conquest in the early 8th century and played an important role in preserving the culture of the pre-Islamic Persian-speaking world. They were the last Persian-speaking empire to rule Central Asia.
After a series of attacks beginning in the 1860s during the "Great Game" between the British Empire and the Russian Empire for supremacy in Central Asia, the Tajik people came under Russian rule. This rule waned briefly after the Russian Revolution of 1917 as the Bolsheviks consolidated their power and were embroiled in a civil war in other regions of the former Russian Empire. As the Bolsheviks attempted to regain Central Asia in the 1920s, an indigenous Central Asian resistance movement based in the Ferghana Valley, the "Basmachi movement," attempted to resist but was eventually defeated in 1925. Tajikistan became fully established under Soviet control with the creation of Tajikistan as an autonomous Soviet socialist republic within Uzbekistan in 1924, and as one of the independent Soviet socialist republics in 1929.
The Republic of Tajikistan gained its independence during the breakup of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R.) on September 9, 1991 and promptly fell into a civil war from 1992-97 between old-guard regionally based ruling elites and disenfranchised regions, democratic liberal reformists, and Islamists loosely organized in a United Tajik Opposition (UTO). Other combatants and armed bands that flourished in this civil chaos simply reflected the breakdown of central authority rather than loyalty to a political faction. The height of hostilities occurred between 1992-93. By 1997, the predominantly Kulyabi-led Tajik Government and the UTO successfully negotiated a powersharing peace accord and implemented it by 2000.
Tajikistan is slowly rebuilding itself with an integrated government and continues to permit a Russian military presence to guard their border with Afghanistan and the basing of the Russian 201st Motorized Rifle Division that never left Tajikistan when it became independent. Most of these Russian-led forces, however, are local Tajik noncommissioned officers and soldiers.
Both Tajikistan's presidential and parliamentary elections, in 1999 and 2000, respectively, were widely considered to be flawed and unfair but peaceful. The inclusion of an overtly declared Islamic party committed to secular government (Islamic Renaissance Party) and several other parties in the parliamentary elections represented an improvement in the Tajik people's right to choose their
government. Tajikistan is the only Central Asian country in which a religiously affiliated political party is represented in parliament. President Rahmonov, while no longer specifically obliged--as he was under the peace accords--to allocate one-third of government positions to the UTO, has kept some former UTO officials in senior cabinet-level positions. While the government and the
now-incorporated former opposition continue to distrust each other, they have often found a way to work with each other and are committed to peacefully resolving their differences. In June 2003, Tajikistan held a flawed referendum to enact a package of constitutional changes, including a provision to allow President Rahmonov the possibility of reelection to up to two additional 7-year terms after
his current term expires in 2006.
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