Posts Tagged ‘Aleppo’

Recent reports of members of the Russian opposition flirting with nationalists and radical Islamists tend to confuse our readers. What game is this? Trivially indiscriminate associations, or a carefully calculated move to bring together different factions in an attempt to overthrow the “regime”? Perhaps an act of desperation? Let us consider Syria as an example where the merger of opposition and Islamists is rapidly taking place.

It is no longer a secret that Al Qaeda and other radical Islamic gangs are fighting against Assad. It is also no secret that the “freedom fighters” are not a homogenous group but rather a patchwork mob made up of groups supporting different interests. The most renown is the so-called “Free Syrian Army” (FSA), which, while being sponsored by the West, is forced to act under the guise of fighting for democracy and protection of human rights in order to maintain this image in the eyes of Western voters.

But the trouble is, the worse things are for the FSA, the stronger the pressure from Assad’s forces, the more of its members stop their democratic masquerade and join ranks with the Islamists. And there are good reasons for this. Firstly, the radicals’ ideals are much clearer to the rebels than alien European slogans. Secondly, Islamists enjoy strong financial support from Wahhabi sponsors around the world. Thirdly, it is widely known that Islamist militants get regular troop support from Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen and other countries. Incidentally, this largely explains the confusion with military victories of the government forces. Every other day we receive reports of the Syrian Army freeing yet another area of ​​Aleppo from militant forces, only to have it re-taken by a new rebel regiment within a matter of days. The stream of people looking to join ranks with the radicals does not dry out, which certainly enhances their credibility within the FSA. In other words, the West, which has been unable to help the rebels win the war over the last one and a half years, is rapidly losing out to Islamist assurances of their firm intent to build a Wahhabi emirate in Syria.

Today one of the Syrian insurgent groups known as Al-Kaakaa broke away from the FSA and its slogans of democracy to join the Dzhabhat en-Nusra Islamist group, giving a bayat (oath of allegiance) to its Emir.

Dzhabhat en-Nusra is a Syrian Wahhabi organization known for its bold terrorist attacks and other ruthless crimes. One of its most recent public actions was the execution of 13 government soldiers, which the group had taken prisoner earlier. The militants thusly commented their grisly deed:

“Indeed, this act of vengeance is not to be separated from the one before it, and we wish for its continuation, so that we would kill and shed their blood (just as they have shed our blood), and that they and their patrons know that, Allah permitting, they will face agonizing death, a terrible end (in this life), and a terrible fate on Judgment Day!”

We would like to remind readers that just a little earlier one of the insurgent Aleppo commanders warned the US:

“We do not want al-Qaeda here, but if no one will help us, we will join them. We want them [the Western countries] to give us weapons for protection, or to carry out a military intervention. We are angry. Syrian people still like European countries, but if they continue in the same spirit, they will know only hate.”

By the way, the aforementioned Syrian Dzhabhat en-Nusra enjoys great prestige and honors from the Russian Wahhabis, which have sharply intensified their activity in the republics of the North Caucasus and the Volga region.

Rumors continue to circulate that Russian citizens participate in the war against Assad. Thus recently Rustam Gelayev, son of the Chechen militant Ruslan Gelayev, who was destroyed by Russian border police in 2004, was killed in Syria. On the other hand, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov denied Chechen involvement in the Syrian conflict, calling “Gelayev, Basayev and others” men without a homeland.

But lets turn back to the Russian “democratic opposition.” Note that its leaders made some demonstrative steps towards the Tatarstan separatists after passing of the new law on Foreign Agents, tougher penalties for rallies, and public allegations of links with the U.S. State Department. We doubt such actions by the opposition aim to intimidate their overseas sponsors, rather it looks like they are trying to blackmail the Russian government by threatening to merge in ecstasy with the separatists and the Wahhabis. On the other hand, perhaps they are just looking for some new faces to join their “march of millions.”

Russia in the Grip of Terror

Russia in the Grip of Terror

We rarely write about events in the North Caucasus, and we realize that this probably isn’t correct. Somehow, destruction of militant groups in places such as Aleppo in Syria seems to elicit a much greater response from us than the destruction of bandits in the Caucasus. This isn’t because we are indifferent to the fate of our homeland, but rather because we would like to avoid any harm that may be caused by an inappropriate comment or assessment of the situation. However, there are times when the chilly Caucasian breeze reaches our cozy armchairs, and we are forced to pay attention. Events that took place over the weekend were no exception.

Recent terrorist attacks in Ingushetia and Dagestan stand out from an unfortunately long chain of similar crimes as being particularly cynical. Alas, we are all too familiar with this breed of terror. It is a very distinguishing feature that sets the so-called “freedom fighters” of the never ending Arab Spring apart from their brothers in arms elsewhere: they backstab at a time and place where violence is prohibited by any religion, moral values and rules of war.

Unidentified assailants fired at a mosque congregation in the city of Khasavyurt in Dagestan, injuring 7 civilians and killing one person. The number of casualties could have been substantially higher if two of the bombs found later on site went off; fortunately this did not happen.

In Ingushetia, a bomber made his way into the funeral ceremony of a local policeman, Ilez Korigovym, who was earlier gunned down by unidentified bandits, and blew himself up in the crowd of mourners. Eight people were killed and another 15 seriously injured.

All of these attacks occurred in the midst of one of the most revered Muslim holidays – Eid al-Adha, marking the end of Ramadan. This reminded us of all the other similarly bitter stories we had reported on in the past: a bombing of a Shiite funeral procession in Iraq, shelling of a mosque in Syria, Islamist assaults on churches in Nigeria and Kenya, wedding executions in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and so on. However, back then it all seemed far away and on the verge of being out of this world; terrible, to be sure, but also impersonal. But the swelling wave of terror in the Caucasus shows that the enemy is not even on our front porch. The enemy is already inside the house.

But forget the Caucasus for a moment. Just today a car was blown up in Kazan, pretty much the center of Russia. Fortunately, this happened in an unpopulated area, so there were no innocent casualties this time. Judging by the fact that remnants of three people, a Kalashnikov assault rifle and bits of religious literature were found within 50 meters from the blast site, the explosion was an unintentional accident. But who knows what could have happened had these people armed the bomb successfully? By the way, President Putin is scheduled to arrive in Kazan for Republic Day celebrations on August 30th. One can’t help but wonder whether this bomb blast was part of a planned “warm welcome” for the President? By the way, few people took notice, but responsibility for the recent attempted murder of the chief mufti of Tatarstan and his assistant was claimed by a group of religious extremists.

The situation is no better with Russia’s closest neighbors (in terms of geography and relationships). Kazakhstan continues to be shocked by a series of mysterious murders. After the shooting of 14 border guards at the Arkankergen outpost, another tragedy occurred in the Ile-Alatau park of Almaty, where 12 people were wantonly slaughtered under peculiar circumstances. This weekend Kazakh riot police destroyed a group of nine terrorists. Just weeks ago reports of terrorist attacks in Kazakhstan were unheard of, but now they are becoming so commonplace that you’d think it was the North Caucasus.

And the situation is nowhere close to being back to normal this week. On Monday a platoon of soldiers was shot at in Khasavyurt, and in Kabardino-Balkaria there was a failed attempt to assassinate the chief of criminal police. Come fall things will likely get even worse, because the link between terrorists and domestic opposition is growing every day. Parliament Deputy Ilya Ponomarev is proposing to create battle units capable of fighting in the streets. Alexander Belov, leader of the “Russians” movement, is taking this proposal a step further, offering to use the Egypt and Libya experience as a blueprint for government resistance. Can all this be a recipe to create a “Russian Aleppo?”

E. Super