I was recently interviewed on Greek TV to discuss the Syrian conflict and Russia’s role in vetoing U.N. resolutions which would sanction the Assad regime. Russia has clearly sided with Damascus in its crackdown against anti-regime protestors which has gone on for 18 months and has caused at least 20,000 deaths and tens of thousands of refugees. This has been extremely frustrating for Western powers, Turkey and some Gulf states which want the Syrian dictator to step down.
The historical rivalry between Russia and the United States dates back to the 1950s during the Cold War and Syria is Moscow’s oldest and closest Middle Eastern ally. However, the main stream media and many analysts ignore a Russian motive for blocking U.N. resolutions and siding with Damascus: Moscow fears that if the rebels succeed in overthrowing Assad, Islamist radicals in the North Caucasus may think they could achieve similar results and demand greater autonomy or perhaps secede. China shares the same concern with its restive Tibetan and Uighur minority communities.
In the last two decades, Chechnya fought two wars for independence against Russia which was brutally suppressed. The U.N. once referred to the Chechen capital Grozny as the most destroyed city on earth. Although Chechnya is now relatively quiet, it came at the expense of basic civil liberties which could ultimately backfire. Moreover, instability has spilled over into the neighboring republics of Dagestan and Ingushetia, where Russia is fighting an Islamist insurgency.
“Moscow Again Moves to Reign in Kadyrov” Radio Free Europe
“Land Disputes in the North Caucasus” Vestnik Kavkaza
“Kadyrov Denies Having Hit List” RIA Novosti
“Kadyrov’s Chechnya Rises from the Ashes, but at What Cost?” BBC
“Three Police Killed in Dagestan” RIA Novosti
“EU Must Voice Tibetan Human Rights Concerns with China” Public Service Europe