Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Russian Now Third Language of ISIS – and Related Factors Putin Should Have Considered, Albats Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, November 18 – Vladimir Putin has on his conscience the deaths of the passengers of the airplane blown up over the Sinai because he did not take into consideration all the fallout from his decision to bomb Syria or put in place measures to protect Russians and others from those consequences, according to Yevgeniya Albats.

            In an interview on Ekho Moskvy yesterday with Marina Korolyeva, the editor of Moscow’s “New Times,” said that tragedy and others make it “perfectly obvious” that the Kremlin did not take into consideration all the risks that such a policy decision inevitably entailed (

            In the course of a long interview, Albats listed some of those which she suggested should have been and still should be considered regarding the consequences of Putin’s decision to back Asad and his Shiite regime against ISIS, which claims to speak on behalf of the 90 percent of the world’s Muslims who are Sunni.

            Among these risks that she suggests Putin has ignored and that may come back to haunt him in the future are these:

·         Russian is now the third most widely spoken language in ISIS (after Arabic and English), a reflection of its success in recruiting Muslims from the Russian Federation and the former Soviet space.

·         There are at least 21 million Muslims in the Russian Federation as a whole, nearly all of whom are Sunnis. Two-thirds of them are indigenous, and one-third consist of gastarbeiters. (Others put both of these figures even higher.)

·         “Moscow is the largest Muslim city in Europe” having “by various estimates from two to three million Muslims. And these are all Sunnis.)” (In fact, at least some of them are Shiites from Azerbaijan.

·         “The problem with radical views among Russian Muslims exists in a very sharp form.” She notes that there are Islamist radicals from the Russian Federation in Guantanamo and also in anti-government forces in Tatarstan.

·         Russia’s borders with Central Asian countries are relatively open, allowing radicals from there to come into Russia easier than it is for Muslims from the Middle East to enter France.

·         Mistreatment of gastarbeiters from Central Asia and the Caucasus has radicalized many of them.

·         The Kremlin’s close ties with the Russian Orthodox Church inevitably offends many Muslims inside Russia and elsewhere, especially when hierarchs and politicians talk about Russia being by nature “an Orthodox civilization.” 

·         Both the radical Sunni Wahhabis of Saudi Arabia and ISIS have declared war on Russia in the wake of the attacks on Syria.

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