Joe Biden’s meeting with the leaders of five Central Asian countries is considered by experts to be a “historically important” event and a new turn in American policy in the region.
On September 19, US President Joe Biden met with the heads of five Central Asian countries in the format of “C5+1” (Five plus one) in New York. He called this meeting a “historic moment” and said that in cooperation with the five countries “we are stronger and the world will be more secure.”
The meeting of the American president with the leaders of the Central Asian countries was unprecedented. Until now, in the “C5+1” format, which has been in effect since 2015, only the ministers of foreign affairs of the USA met with the leaders of the Central Asian countries.
This meeting was held in the conditions where the United States is at odds with two key partners of the Central Asian countries, Russia over the war in Ukraine and with China over its decisions regarding Taiwan. America is one of the original countries that sanctioned Russia for its war in Ukraine and encourages other countries to do the same.
Parviz Mullojonov, a Tajik expert, says that it is precisely America’s opposition to Russia that made the Central Asian region more important for America. He said that the United States does not want the Central Asian countries to help Russia circumvent the sanctions and be dependent on this country.
Previously, the authorities of Western countries said that Central Asian countries obtain goods and products from European countries and transport them to Russia in violation of sanctions.
“America is trying to make the sanctions against Russia more serious and leave no way for goods and products to reach this country. At the current stage, America does not want the former Soviet countries to remain under the influence of Russia, both for economic and political reasons. They are trying to provoke Russia as much as possible and make this country stop fighting,” Mullojonov said.
For more than a hundred years, Central Asia has been under the influence of Russia, and according to experts, in the last thirty years, Moscow has tried to make five countries of the region comply with its wishes.
Temur Umarov, a researcher at the Carnegie Center in Berlin, says that although US interest in Central Asia is not as long-standing as Russia’s, it is apparently not short-term either.
This expert says that America has been interested in these countries since the beginning of their independence from the Soviet Union, and during his 20-year presence in Afghanistan, cooperation became stronger. He said that Biden’s meeting with the five leaders of Central Asia is a kind of “convincing them that America is a strategic partner, not a partner for a short period of time.”
Every year, the United States provides hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to the countries of Central Asia in various sectors. Farhod Tolibov, an Uzbek expert, says that the countries of Central Asia have been accepting US aid all this time with caution and taking into account not to offend China and Russia.
Despite the aid, America criticizes Central Asian countries in its annual reports for violating human rights, restricting freedom of speech and freedom of religion. Some are of the opinion that the situation may change in this direction with the rapprochement of the Central Asian countries and the demands of the USA.
Temur Umarov, a researcher at the Carnegie Center, says, “I don’t think that this meeting will completely change the policies of Tajikistan and other countries in the region.”
According to him, Tajikistan, like other countries of the region, still has strong contacts with Russia, and it is unlikely that its position will suddenly change.
“I think that it is certainly important for Rahmon that he is accepted not only by China and Russia, but also by America. I think that after this there will be no serious changes, but it is important for Tajikistan that America has a topic for discussion and discussion with it,” he said.
Before the meeting, Human Rights Watch asked Joe Biden to demand respect for human rights from the leaders of Central Asian countries. Now it is not known to what extent Joe Biden demanded the observance of human rights in the meeting with his colleagues from Central Asia. However, Farhod Tolibov, an Uzbek expert, says that this is an issue that America cannot ignore and will definitely raise the issue of human rights.
Parviz Mullojonov, a Tajik expert, says that of course this topic will be raised, but it will not be taken seriously.
“There is not much talk about it. The goals are different. For America in the current conditions, the observance of human rights is a secondary task. They talk about this topic, but they don’t take it seriously,” he said.
In the past, the efforts of the Central Asian countries to approach the United States were harshly accepted by Russia as an example of the promoters of its policies. Farhod Tolibov says that despite the cautious behavior of the Central Asian countries, Russia will be worried about the rapprochement efforts.
“This meeting will definitely make Russia nervous in a certain way. I think that such reactions are not logical, as the cooperation of the OM countries with the USA is of particular importance and does not directly interfere with China and Russia,” he said.
At this meeting, US President Joe Biden promised greater cooperation with the countries of Central Asia. The countries of the region are always complaining about Russia’s lack of serious cooperation. In particular, on October 14, 2022, Emomali Rahmon criticized Putin at a meeting in Astana, saying that Russia is not doing anything practical to improve the situation in Tajikistan.
Parviz Mullojonov says that the countries of the region, including Tajikistan, will try to cooperate with any country for their benefit, although China and Russia do not accept this.
“The reaction of both countries (China and Russia) will be negative. First of all, the reaction of Russia. Of course, he doesn’t like Russia, but he can’t do anything. China’s reaction is usually not visible, but I don’t think it is happy with America’s efforts in the region,” said Mullojonov.
The details of the meeting between the leaders of the five countries of the OM with the US president are not known, but Joe Biden promised to meet with them again in one of the countries of the region.
If Biden’s visit to Central Asia takes place, it will be the first visit of an American president to this region in thirty years of independence.
Source : Радио Озоди