Friday, November 30, 2007

Islam in the North Caucasus

In Chechnya Weekly, Andrei Smirnov looks at the role of Kabardino-Balkarian rebel leader Anzor Astemirov in the founding of the "Caucasian Emirate", and concludes:
It looks as if Astemirov, following Basaev’s death, gave Umarov an ultimatum in an attempt to force him to “bury” Ichkeria and to declare the Emirate. Umarov, who needs the support of non-Chechen fighters in Kabardino-Balkaria, Ingushetia, and Dagestan, had no alternative but to agree.

The declaration of the Caucasian Emirate clearly demonstrates the rising influence of non-Chechen rebel leaders inside the Caucasian insurgency. For non-Chechen fighters, Chechen independence means nothing, and they do not want to fight any longer under the Chechen flag. Indeed, from the very beginning, the Caucasian insurgency, unlike the Chechen separatist movement, showed more signs of being a radical Islamist movement than a nationalist one.
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