By Alexander Rahr and Mikhail Loginov
While western countries have expressed their condolences over the terrorist attack on the Moscow Metro, many foreign analysts explain it as a consequence of Russia’s failure to deal with the situation in the North Caucasus. Once again the world media have recalled the separatists that fought for Chechnya’s independence. They only mention the underground caliphate and its self-proclaimed emir, Doku Umarov, in passing.
This proves that a sizable portion of Western society still see developments in Chechnya, Dagestan and other North Caucasian republics through the prism of separatists movements, whereas the Islamists in the North Caucasus have long been striving to establish an anti-Western Islamic entity in the region, which is supposed to become part of the illusory caliphate in the Caucasus and Central Asia.
Experts have long been following the cross border movement of Islamists in Central Asia. The Pakistani government’s military operations in South Waziristan and U.S. air strikes in the North Waziristan have confirmed that, in addition to the Afghan and Pakistan Taliban, Islamists from Chechnya, Dagestan and Uzbekistan are playing an active role in the conflict in the tribal regions.
Therefore, a link between the terrorist attack in Moscow and Al-Qaeda and the Taliban cannot be excluded. Moreover, the way in which the attacks were carried out in Moscow and Dagestan fits the strategy outlined by Ilyas Kashmiri, the head of the 313th brigade, giving further credence to this suspicion.
It came as no surprise when the G8 announced a few days ago that a joint plan of action must be developed for the lawless border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Moreover, Russia and the West must cooperate closely to counter international terrorism. They must develop new forms of international cooperation that emphasize the indivisibility of security. At present, international cooperation on security is lagging behind the globalization of the terrorist threat.
It is noteworthy that German politicians have suggested admitting Russia to NATO with a view toward adapting the current security system to meet modern challenges. Russian politicians must consider the prospect of integration (rather than membership) into NATO and support for the Alliance in an effort to bolster the fight against terrorism. Russia must not shirk its responsibility to deal with international terrorists operating on its territory which threaten the international community as well. Sooner or later the terrorists will strike in Central Asian republics, where conditions are ripe. In this case, the terrorist threat will become Russia’s immediate concern. Therefore, it would be best to anticipate these developments and support the West in its fight against terrorism, perhaps within the framework of a CSTO-NATO-West alliance (CSTO stands for the Collective Security Treaty Organization).
The Western media’s concerns that increased security problems in Russia may interfere with its attempts to modernize are not entirely unfounded, though they are exaggerated. It is impossible to resolve the problems of the North Caucasus without drastic measures to combat terrorism. The Kremlin is fully aware of this. Alexander Khloponin, presidential envoy to the North Caucasus, must continue to implement the programs that have been adopted. However, the primary goal should be to fight corruption and the clannish nature of society. Only the social and economic modernization of the North Caucasus republic will allow them to integrate into the Russian Federation. Moscow has supported them with millions in subsidies before, but this assistance did not reach the intended recipients. Instead, it only led to more fraud.
The once vague goal of modernization may now acquire a clear-cut form, because modernization is a prerequisite for security, not the other way around. Modernization must be pursued in the interests of security.
Authors: Alexander Rahr, director of the Russia-Eurasia program of the German Council on Foreign Relations. Mikhail Loginov, doctoral candidate at Kemnitz University in Germany
The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti, where this article was first published.