28-10-2021 02:47 AM Jerusalem Timing

US’s Kerry Kicks Off Central Asia Visit

US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Central Asia on Saturday for a five-day, five-nation tour of the "Stans," to "reassure them they will not be forgotten."

US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Central Asia on Saturday for a five-day, five-nation tour of the "Stans," to "reassure them they will not be forgotten."

Concern is mounting in the region that, as the US operation in Afghanistan finally draws towards a close, Washington will lose interest in its landlocked northern neighbors.

He landed at Manas airport outside the Kyrgyz capital Bishkek and headed in to meet President Almazbek Atambayev and Foreign Minister Abdyldaev Erlan Bekeshovich.

Senior US officials see Kerry's visit to Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan as "very timely" as the region seeks outside reassurance.

The Central Asian economy has already taken a hit from falling oil prices and the knock-on effect of international sanctions against their former Soviet master Russia.

And now the Takfiri groups are recruiting militants from the region -- including a US-trained special police chief -- raising the specter of extremist violence.

Meanwhile, the situation in the young republics is not stable as they are witnessing political crises.

In Tajikistan, for example, President Emomali Rahmon's regime banned the main opposition party and jailed many of its leaders, accusing them of fomenting Islamist extremism.