Caucasus Emirate Far From Dead But Focused Now On Syria – OpEd


The Caucasus Emirate has been so quiet in the North Caucasus in recent years that many Russian sources have declared it to be dead, but in fact it continues to operate with some structures in the North Caucasus but headquartered in Turkey and focused on fighting for the Islamist cause but not as part of ISIS in Syria, according to Lyubov Merenkova.

The Radio Liberty journalist’s report details what can be gleaned from the Emirate’s various websites and describes an organization that could easily reactivate and again become a threat to stability in the North Caucasus if the fighting in Syria ebbs and Caucasians fighting there return home (

She details the splits within the organization since the death of Emir Doku Umarov in 2013 and notes the absence of any single agreed-upon leader above the regional groupings that largely but not completely follow ethnic lines in the North Caucasus. And she details the controversies among the various sub-leaders in recent times.

While the Russian media rarely refer to the Caucasus Emirate anymore, its representatives use a series of websites to communicate its messages. They include KavkazTsentr, Islamdin, Checheninfo, and Vdagestan. But most of these draw their information from Russian sources, although they put their own spin on it.

The leading figures of the Caucasus Emirate are now based in Turkey or fighting in Syria. Moscow has sought the extradition of those in Turkey but so far without success, although Merenkova says that emirate representatives are anything but pleased with the way in which they have been treated by Ankara.

Paul Goble

Paul Goble is a longtime specialist on ethnic and religious questions in Eurasia. Most recently, he was director of research and publications at the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy. Earlier, he served as vice dean for the social sciences and humanities at Audentes University in Tallinn and a senior research associate at the EuroCollege of the University of Tartu in Estonia. He has served in various capacities in the U.S. State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency and the International Broadcasting Bureau as well as at the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Mr. Goble maintains the Window on Eurasia blog and can be contacted directly at [email protected] .

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