Putin’s Islamic Weapon
The fact that Vladimir Putin is a Cold War era warrior is no secret. However, he’s no relic to be dismissed as yesterday’s history lesson. Cold Warrior is a moniker that Putin makes no apologies for, it’s a badge he wears with honor. During the Chechen Wars, Putin was thinning down and honing his skills, while Washington-based Cold warriors were strategically sent out to pasture, falling out of favor with hip pollsters and pundits. Washington’s Cold Warriors grew fat and obsolete. America sank into the quagmires of Iraq and Afghanistan. Trapped by feckless leadership and weak foreign policy, the United States has been cornered to a near stalemate in the Middle East. Gaining a second wind, Putin has waltzed out of the shadows recently to seize the once contested Cold War battlefields.
Achieving peace in Chechnya, punishing Georgia, annexing Crimea and destabilizing Ukraine, Russia has now launched head-long into Syria and may soon establish a base in Afghanistan. Does Putin have a plan? Has he figured out how to leverage Islam to meet Russia’s needs? Perhaps.
To understand Vladimir Putin, one must examine where he has been, the paths he traveled and the people he surrounds himself with. Beginning in the 1990’s and into the early 2000’s, Putin’s failed Soviet Union crumbled around him as he continually worked his Chechen sources into an improbable alliance. He knew then that in order to sue for peace, he must harness the belief systems of the religious in order to focus on a state that superseded mankind. In so doing, Putin became the Savior of Russia. Along the way, he cultivated his relationship with his Chechen bull-dog, Ramzan Kadyrov.
Denis Grishkin / Vedomosti
Ramzan and his band of Kadyrovites are a group of Chechen “special forces” that Putin was able to turn away from the alleged US-backed Chechen rebels and brought them to heal with Moscow. Since then, they have been Putin’s brutal attacked dogs, accused of heinous atrocities against fellow Muslims and any organized group running contrary to Putin’s aims. Kadyrovikes actions were noted in every military campaign from Chechnya on. Ramzan Kadyrov, the current Putin appointed prime minister of Chechnya, himself is in daily contact with his operatives active in Syria, Crimea, Ukraine and Afghanistan.
Kadyrov’s latest public acknowledgement is that his loyalists have penetrated ISIS from the inside and are passing vital information within the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria on to Russian intelligence. Having inside information is imperative to a successful ISIS eradication campaign. Recruiting assets for such an assignment has proven difficult for the West.
Democratic principles of western civilization would most likely be compromised in order to co-opt ISIS cells. Espionage is a dirty game that most Westerners are unable to stomach. It will take considerable losses before Western governments once again will be able to fight unbridled.
On Sunday, Kadyrov told Russian press outlets that his fighters had been fighting ISIS since the beginning, in Iraq and Syria. He said that his men were on the ground and inside the ISIS organizations, where they have been successful in infiltrating the Islamic culture because of the similarities shared amongst their Chechen base.
Russia has been conducting airstrikes against the Islamic State in Syria since September of 2015. In addition to robust satellite imagery, it is most likely the Russian Special Forces which are providing targeting information and these Chechen mercenaries are likely also providing insight. Many of the Russian declared 7,000 strong fighting force hail from the Northern Caucus mountain region, which served as the Islamic battleground of the 1980’s and 1990’s. Many of these fighters have grown to detest Western “intervention” as they saw the West backing Chechen rebels against Moscow, which served as a philosophical breeding ground for the very Islamic extremism that ISIS perpetuates.
Not ignorant of the controlling benefits of Islamic indoctrination, Ramzan Kadyrov has implemented sharia laws into his Chechen government back home, forcing women to veil their faces and subserviently acquiesce to their husbands. In addition to human rights violations, Kadyrov has been accused of war crimes by the United Nations and Human Rights advocates for running several illegal prisons in Chechnya. Prisons which no agency is allowed to visit or monitor. Taking a lesson of brutality out of the ISIS playbook, or possibly serving as the source of the original depravity, these prisons are reportedly hell on earth.
NBC news reports that thanks to Moscow’s generous support of Kadyrov, he has been able to rebuild Chechnya’s capital, Grozny, “which the United Nations had declared “the most destroyed city on Earth” in 2003. Grozny now sports modern high-rises and one of the world’s largest mosques. The prosperity is enabled by the Kremlin, which provides 83 percent of Chechnya’s 2016 budget”.
Reaping the financial windfall that his benefactor, Putin, sends his way, Kadyrov is the ultimate state sponsored terrorist, albeit with political ambitions. A violent dog of war with benevolent master. At 30, Kadyrov was the youngest appointed leader in the Russian Federation, directly appointed by Vladimir Putin himself. With lavish houses, Lamborghinis and opulent parties, Ramzan is a weapon of the Cold War, a war which the West is reluctant to re-engage in. With the Russians negotiating directly with their former Afghan enemies, the Taliban, one can only wonder if Kadyrov won’t be the new Czar of Masar-e Sharif with a brand new international airport built by Western governments, large enough to land Antonov 225s.
It may be a matter of time before the Iranian-Russian alliance expands to directly confront Western troops at Forward Operating Bases, if they haven’t already. Observers who know the history well and those who have studied Ramzam Kadyrov opined that the “the Chechen conflict is not resolved, it has just been pushed outside the country.” This aligns with the Russian propaganda that ISIS is a Western construction designed to assail Russia’s interests, a twist of the facts that implicates the West involvement in the Chechen wars. Putin’s plan is obvious and is clearing up with more actions and bold overtures. He has figured out how to battle Islam with his own Muslim holy warriors. Now he can move forward with his own brand of Middle Eastern leadership. Check. What is the West’s next move?