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Uzbekistan has always said that it sees water as a common resource that Tajikistan shouldn’t have a claim over,” Ms. Taggart said.

She added that Uzbekistan also may be wary of Tajikistan becoming less reliant on Uzbek energy supplies and competing with its neighbor in the export market.

Construction on the Rogun hydropower plant began in 1976, but was neglected during the Tajik civil war.

In 2009, work began to restore the abandoned Soviet project, which would allow the 1,099-foot-tall Rogun dam to replace Tajikistan’s Nurek Hydro-electric Station as the world’s tallest dam.

“Forcing Tajikistan to give up construction of the Rogun project is the main goal of Uzbekistan,” said Mukhabbat Saidova, a political scientist at Tajikistan Media Alliance, a union of journalists in Dushanbe.

‘Heavyweight’ referees

This is a widely held view in Tajikistan.

“If Dushanbe cannot agree with Tashkent [Uzbekistan’s capital] on supplies of Uzbek gas or the transit of Turkmen gas, among the first to suffer will be Tajik Cement, whose products are used to construct the Rogun hydroelectric plant,” said Ramzan Sharipov, a political analyst based in Dushanbe.

Tajik authorities dispute claims that the Rogun dam would be damaging to Uzbekistan.

The World Bank is conducting an ecological assessment of the project, and a report is expected this fall.

Ms. Saidova said it was no coincidence that Tajikistan’s outrage over Uztransgaz’s action was published on the website of Tajik Embassy in Moscow.

“Solving the problem mostly depends on the heavyweight countries in the region — on Russia and Kazakhstan, which have political and business interests in both Tajikistan and Uzbekistan,” she said.

A high-ranking Tajik official told The Washington Times that Russia and Kazakhstan would not allow the conflict to get out of hand.

“This is not the first of our conflicts with Uzbekistan, so we hope it will be solved in coming weeks,” the official said on condition of anonymity. “We have set in motion all our connections with Russia and Kazakhstan, and the conflict will not grow into an economic catastrophe for Tajikistan.”

Political scientists agreed.

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