Wednesday, December 02, 2009

The Other Surge

While the U.S. concentrates on its latest surge, another surge, in the Northern Caucasus is prepared by Russia to suppress an Islamic insurgency driven in part by heavy handed intervention. According to Reuters a large deployment is planned by the Russian government :

"An exiled Chechen rebel leader said Russia intends to greatly boost troop numbers in its mainly Muslim south to tighten its grip on the restive region.

The comments by grey-bearded Akhmed Zakayev, who was given political asylum in Britain in 2003, follow Georgian and Russian media reports last month saying Moscow would quadruple the size of its army in the North Caucasus in 2010.

Zakayev, quoting his contacts in the region, told Reuters an "enormous" quantity of troops would be stationed in the North Caucasus, which Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has described as the country's biggest domestic political problem.

A Kremlin spokeswoman would not comment on Zakayev's predictions of troop increases and the press service of the North Caucasus regional military also declined comment.

"They want to solve the Caucasus problem before the Olympics and tell the world they have eliminated terrorism," Zakayev, 50, said in the interview, conducted late last week. "This will also put the North Caucasus in their hands."

Russia will host the 2014 Winter Olympics in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, located close to the Caucasus mountains.

Zakayev forecast the Russian government would explain a troop increase by saying there was a risk of further conflict with southern neighbour Georgia, against whom Moscow fought a brief war last year. He did not say when the surge would happen.

The mountainous Caucasus area stretches from the Black to the Caspian Seas, taking in the poor, Muslim-dominated Russian republics of Chechnya, Ingushetia and Dagestan and the former Soviet states of Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia.

Analysts and rights campaigners say a silent war is raging in tiny Ingushetia, with near daily violence spilling out into neighbouring Dagestan and Chechnya, where Russia has fought two separatist wars over the last 15 years.

Local leaders and analysts say widespread violence is fuelled by a potent mixture of Islamism, clan feuds and poverty.

Zakayev said the Kremlin plans curfews, roadblocks, spot searches and arbitrary detention for the entire North Caucasus."

Sounds very similar to the American struggle for pipelinestan as elucidated by our Hope We Can Believe In.

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