Ceasefire Agreement Reached After Clashes Over Water At The Kyrgyzstan-Tajikistan Border

Neighbouring former Soviet Union countries, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan were involved in an armed conflict over border disputes during the past month. The once united countries found themselves in a disagreement over land and water ownership. The issue revolves around a water facility that is located amid tense geographies. Disputes quickly escalated and led to the death of more than 40 individuals and the injury of hundreds.

A ceasefire agreement was reached between the two sides after destruction and loss of life had unfortunately occurred.  Saimumin Yatimov, head of the State Committee of National Security of Tajikistan, said, “today when we’ve discussed the issue, we’ve reached principal agreements to solve the issues in the interests of securing the peace and the stability in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. I’m sure that we can achieve that.” He also added, “the tragedy that happened in the border area must never happen again.” This was the second ceasefire agreement, after the first being breached a few days after its implementation.

The conflict occurred after citizens of both countries attacked each other with rocks nearby a water facility. The cause of the issue was a claim that Tajik officials placed surveillance cameras to monitor the area. The ambiguity of ownership of this land dates back to several years, but this is the first time where a conflict as serious as this one occurs. After the citizen stone-throwing incident, border guards from both countries exchanged gunfire.

The reservoir and pumping facility on the Isfara river is a valuable asset that both countries do not want to forgo. Water is a necessity of life, which is why fighting over it could occur. But, the irony is, while both countries were fighting over “water for life” unnecessary deaths that could have been avoided with diplomacy occurred. The town was devastated, dozens of properties were destroyed and 10,000 individuals were evacuated.

The positive and optimistic side effect in this tense situation is the willingness of both countries to negotiate. Although both countries initially clashed, the inclination to resort to talks after initially not doing so is very promising. They both did not proceed with further military action, which would have undoubtedly caused further loss of life, destruction of towns and severe economic repercussions. It would be interesting to observe how a deal can be reached between the two countries, while keeping in mind the interests of both nations and the aversion to any sort of violence.