The war on terror without strong allies can’t win. Exactly this argument was used by Donald trump during his election campaign in the United States, suggesting as a possible new ally Russia.
“We will strengthen old alliances and create new ones, we will unite the civilized world against radical Islamic terrorism, which we will obliterate from the face of the Earth,” trump added in his inaugural speech the other day.
Islam minority in Russia
And the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union were multinational States, which were home to numerous ethnic groups and was presented to different religions.
In modern Russia, Islam is second in number of adherents a religion. The number of Muslims in the country is 12-15 million of the 142 million people living in it.
The majority of Russian Muslims belong to the peoples who live in Russia for several centuries, including Tatars, Circassians and Chechens.
Since 2005 Russia has observer status in the Organization of Islamic cooperation.
Remember some of the slogans of the Russian President. One of the campaign promises that shaped Vladimir Putin as a politician in 1999, was a promise to “eradicate” armed groups in the Russian Autonomous Republic of Chechnya.
“We will pursue terrorists everywhere: at the airport — then at the airport, if you’ll excuse me, the toilet, the toilet and soak them in the end”, — Putin said before the bombing that turned much of the Chechen capital Grozny in ruins.
The statements of the trump signal is that weak at the moment, coordination between the US and Russia in Syria can be strengthened, says Catherine sokyryany from the analytical center of the International Crisis Group in Moscow.
She, however, fears that this will occur at the expense of the lives of the civilian population, and that the parties will be governed by the laws of war.
“If you take trump’s words literally — and what he said about torture — that it expresses an approach, methodologically similar to the one that Russia applies two decades in Chechnya and the North Caucasus,” she says.
Russia is accused of war crimes
Such behavior is typical for the Russian intervention in the war in Syria. Russian planes along with the Syrian air force bombed villages and hospitals. And Western governments, including Denmark, Russia accused of war crimes.
Trump such criticism is not supported, indicates Eduard Ponarin, the study of the Muslim minority of Russia in the Higher school of Economics in Saint-Petersburg.
“I think Putin could easily subscribe to the statements of trump,” he says about the possibility of closer cooperation.
But for both parties in this cooperation hide big pitfalls, both experts indicate.
Despite the tough rhetoric of Putin in terms of terror, introduced by trump and many European protest parties vocabulary, critical of Islam, the Russian President is a political minefield. During the presidential election, trump talked about the prohibition of entry to Muslims.
Millions of Russian Muslims
Russia with its 12 million Muslims — including at least 1.5 million living in the capital — has a Muslim population larger than any European country. The main ally of the Kremlin today — Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, who has ruled the Autonomous Republic with an iron hand and with the help of some elements of Sharia law.
The majority of Russian Muslims profess moderate Islam. In formal occasions, Vladimir Putin has often stressed that Islam is part of the Russian identity. At a recent press conference, he pointed to Muslim countries as allies in the struggle for a policy of conservative values.
“The Kremlin is not against Islam and can never be against him. Russian politician who does not want disintegration of the country, cannot afford such words,” says Eduard Ponarin, who also drew attention to the close ties of Russia with the regime of the clergy in Iran.
So — paradoxically — political embrace of European politicians such as Geert Wilders and marine Le Pen, simply explosive for Fishing. For the Kremlin, the decisive criterion is not Islamism or Sharia, but the threat of “legitimate governments,” says Ponarin.
The persecution of fundamentalists
Poor North Caucasus this distinction led to severe persecution of fundamentalist-minded Muslims, the so-called Salafis, regardless of whether they are armed or not. According to the Russian human rights activists, representatives of these extremely religious minorities are tortured, thrown into prison, their houses burned. Only one of the Russian Autonomous Republic of Dagestan 15 thousand people included in the official list of extremists.
“This applies to those who are not armed, but whom the authorities call terrorists. They are persecuted, their families persecuted, their children pursue. And this contributed to the radicalization of their communities,” says sokyryany.
According to many analysts, this course enhances the problem and contributed to the fact that from 3 to 5 thousand citizens of Russia went to war in Syria in the ranks, particularly the Islamic state (a terrorist organization banned in Russia — approx. ed.).
The American side, one of the biggest challenges will be to negotiate with Moscow about what groups besides the Islamic state — can be considered terrorists. And then about whether the US would support the approach of the Kremlin to destroy them.
“We suggest that this occurred on the basis of international law, not the promise of torture and collective punishment,” says Catherine sokyryany.
Simon Cruz — correspondent for Berlingske in Russia