Relations between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan reached an all-time low at the end of April when the armed forces of the two countries battled over border issues.
More than 50 people were killed and scores wounded, most of them Kyrgyz citizens.
Attempts at reconciliation along their common border produced mixed results, and a visit to Tajikistan by Kyrgyz President Sadyr Japarov in late June did little to warm relations between the Central Asian neighbors despite talk by Japarov and his Tajik counterpart, Emomali Rahmon, about traditionally friendly ties.
An unexpected opportunity to improve the strained relations came on July 13-14 when 345 ethnic Kyrgyz from Afghanistan's Badakhshan Province chose to flee the increased fighting in their country and crossed into Tajikistan.
Kyrgyz authorities quickly announced they would take the group and the approximately 4,000 livestock they had and resettle them in Kyrgyzstan, as they've done with dozens of other ethnic Kyrgyz from Badakhshan in recent years.
Photo Gallery: Pamir Kyrgyz Nomads On 'The Roof Of The World' RFE/RL Anthropologist Tobias Marschall spent 11 months living among nomadic Pamir Kyrgyz herders in the isolated mountain valleys of northeastern Afghanistan between 2015 and 2019. Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on В Контакте Email to a Friend Share on LinkedIn
It seemed simple enough.
The Afghan Kyrgyz did not want to live in Afghanistan anymore and Tajik officials did not want them to stay in Tajikistan.
Kyrgyzstan said it would accept them and give them land for their livestock and allow them to make a new home in their ancestral country.
Kyrgyz officials had previously discussed the Afghan Kyrgyz with Tajik officials on the sidelines of international conferences and meetings held in Tashkent and Dushanbe from July 14-16.
On July 16, Kyrgyzstan's Foreign Ministry invited the Tajik ambassador for talks on arranging passage for the Afghan Kyrgyz and their herds of animals through Tajikistan to Kyrgyzstan.
But on July 18, Tajikistan's Khovar state news agency reported that the Afghan Kyrgyz had been sent back to Afghanistan after Kabul officials guaranteed their safety.
That guarantee is unlikely to satisfy anyone since fighting is raging across Afghanistan and the government cannot realistically guarantee anyone's safety, a point hammered home by a rocket attack outside the presidential palace in Kabul on July 20.
WATCH: As Rockets Fall Near Presidential Palace, Fears Rise Among Afghans
Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036