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
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.