The Alternate History: “The Land Below God: A Tajik Timline” (1)
Part I – Prelude
Since the dawn of civilization itself, the land that would become Tajikistan would prove itself to be a diverse one; with Persia settlers in the south, Chinese in the east and Turks in the north and west coalescing early in nations history into hundreds of small tribes and bands that frequently warred over land, food and basic living goods. Over time these bands of men and women, families with widespread culture ties to one another, ultimately began to draw closer and closer together as the world around them was cut off, the mountainous lands and the large river systems that dominated the landscape shielding them from outside influences, allowing for the growth of the early-Tajik language.
Time would soon prove to be pitted against the isolation of theTajik tribes however, as the centuries progressed and the world around them changed, those that remained in the small lands that the Tajik people called home soon found their lands overrun. From the Persians to the Greeks and the Indians to the Arabs, the cultures of the world were once again mixed in these lands, stirred further through the ebbs and flows of war as Tajikistan remained at the crossroads of the world, a middle man in the exchange of the worlds exotic cultures and arts as well as .
Dynasties with names such as Kushan, Sassanid, Umayyad and Samanid, ruled the green fields and ancient mountains of the Tajik people, the valuable business of cotton cultivation and merchant trade grew immensely during this period providing the lands with luxuries of true civilizations that had never been seen prior. Towns and cities began to appear and prosper with the coming of a golden era, Islamic and East Asian wisdom being passed down to the largely ‘Persian’ speaking population that inhabited the valley regions of Tajikistan as they engaged the outside world from their small place in time.
Such a situation, however, could never last, and has never lasted, and as such in so many glorious ‘golden periods’ of time, the ambitions of a few drove the progress of a thousand into the dirt; the Mongolians. As the Mongol Empire’s hordes swept across the Asian continent during the 13th century, the Tajiks attempted to hold to their small tribal states and towns in the mountains and valleys that they called home, ultimately proving themselves unable to withstand the juggernaut forever as they barred witness to their homes being burnt to the ground and their crops torn apart.
By the fall of the Mongol dynasty and its successor state of the Timurid Empire, the natives of the land had begun to grow weary of the outside world, preferring the grave comfort of a small universe to the enormous cosmos that was the planet Earth. Such a thought ultimately proved to enticing; the sacking, looting and constant war that the Tajiks so often associated with the surrounding world that felt the need to meddle in their was shunned away as the new leaders of Tajikistan withdrew back into the long forgotten peace of isolationist, tribal control, their lands watched (but rarely lorded) over by the distant powers of Persia and Bukhara.
Again, such a case of independence could never last in a world of superpowers, and as such another beast rose to fill the small seats held by clan emirs and local tribal leaders; the Russians. During the American Civil War when cheep cotton fell out of supply, the Russian Empire decided to look south towards the fertile valleys and waterways of central Asia, their enormous military overwhelming a technologically and numerically inferior foe in a matter of months like the hordes of Genghis Khan five hundreed years earlier. Soon, all resistance to Saint Petersburg was crushed in a brutal display of monarchical power as the Emir of Bukhara bowed down to kiss the tsars ring, Tajiks of all colours and faiths now falling under the white, blue and red banner of another distant and imposing empire.
The provinces of Imperial Russian Turkestan, Bukhara in green
Change under the Russians was swift, yet raw and brutalising. For the first fifty years of imperial control, Saint Petersburg went about the business of bolstering an economic powerhouse in Bukhara, the cotton fields mechanized and the towns grown to support the extravagant lifestyle of the local Russian governors and businessmen who grew to extreme wealth off the backs of the Tajik families, most of which never saw a rouble in the process of their deeds. Indeed, such was the life under Russians that most could no longer struggle to remain free, but to only work another day before receiving pay that would rarely ever arrive. Day in and day out across the Tajik lands, something was changing amongst the fields of cotton and mines of gold, something that was changing across the entire Empire itself.
The drums of war beat and the guns of the east rattled as the entire world turned on its head. For three years leading to 1917 the Tajiks had laboured at home and died abroad in a conflict against those they could not even recall, only doing to service of their master in the palace of Bukhara as his strings were pulled from all the way in Petrograd. Indignation arose around the Empire as all voices spoke as one.
Famine was tearing apart the population.
The poor and hungry were forced into the fields day in and day out.
The Empire that claimed to love its citizens robbed them of freedom and peace.
And with that one voice they overthrew the Imperial government in what felt like a single moment in time. In the land of Tajiks, freedom rung out around the nation as its people rose to their feats against their own enemy on the throne in Bukhara, the Emperor in Russia no longer able to support the man that for so long bent and scrapped before a foreign power that only brought struggle and strife to his own people. Together, the Young Bukharans, a communist organisation arose and toppled the last Emir, dissolving his faux council and raising the red flag of revolution. By 1920, Bukhara and Russia had fallen under the auspicious wing of the Russian Bolsheviks despite the rallying cries of the anti-revolutionary Basmachi movement that continued to fight against the Reds out of Tajikistan in an effort that lasted a decade. A fight that was lost.
In 1929, after the consolidation of the Communists in distant Moscow, after the failure to fight against “new imperialism”, the Tajik Soviet Socialist Republic was born, the people so united in their division raised to an “equal” position among the other members of the USSR. Such a position would prove valuable in the long run, as over the next sixty years, through the starvation, wars and machinations of Joseph Stalin, through the battles between Khrushchev and the west, Brezhnev and Mao and the final long struggle between the Soviets in Afghanistan, the economy began to grow at a speed never before seen by the Tajik people. Day after day, schools were raised, dams were built, energy that flowed into the SSR powered the nation for years as those that struggled for so long finally began to receive reason for the struggle.
Of course it wouldn’t last very long. Even in the time of the Tajik SSR’s existence, the structure built by the Tajik Communist Party proved itself to be nothing but corrupt and incompatible with the freedom so yearned by it’s people. By 1989, the system had become rotten to the core and antipathetic to the cries of more moderate voices. Only in this year did the forces of the USSR withdraw from its decade long debacle in the façade of Afghanistan. Only in this year did the reforms of Perestroika and Glasnost promised by Mikhail Gorbachev begin to build momentum in the faraway land of the Tajik SSR. Only in this year did the economy finally begin to pace towards its sluggish death as central industry failed to provide for its citizens. Only in this year did the citizens of all USSR’s find their voice.
Across the vast nation from Vilnius to Tallinn, Kiev to Tashkent, the voices that seventy years earlier rallied against the tyranny of the tsar now rallied against the tyranny of the faceless menace of Communism. Protests for independence and democracy raised and were repressed but raised again, women and children fell against the bayonets of the Soviet menace and in the streets of the Tajik capital, Dushanbe, thousands began to rally behind leaders young and old that would lead them into a radical new era. The blocks of an empire were beginning to crumble and the lights of modernity were struggling to break forth. What then united the normally divided clans and tribes of the Tajik people would never, and could never, last beyond the unified struggle for a voice, and time would only tell before the own cracks of disunity between the people of Tajikistan would begin to appear again.
Now was the time for men.
And now was the time for monsters.
By Michael Buchanan
Sep 26, 2014
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Hello and welcome to my first “proper” timeline on the site, and one that I’ve been researching erratically for about one month now. As you can clearly see, the story itself is going to be focusing on the glorious and eternal nation of Tajikistan (one of my favourite little known nations) and the upcoming civil war that (IOTL) ravaged much of the population in only a few months of proper fighting between the factions, followed by a prolonged period of insurgency that lasted for around four years and saw thousands more killed on both sides. In any case, I hope you enjoy my timeline about this often disregarded nation and hopefully respond.