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Doukaev Discusses The Ongoing Threat To Europe Posed By The North Caucasus Conflict

Aslan Doukaev, director of RFE/RL’s North Caucasus Service, discusses the continuing importance of the North Caucasus conflict in an article published by the German Marshall Fund, a nonpartisan American public policy institution. Doukaev highlights the reasons why the North Caucasus insurgency is a threat to Russia's political stability, especially as protests against Vladimir Putin's re-election emerge, and why the threat extends beyond Russia's borders.

An excerpt of the article can be found below. Or read the original, part of the German Marshall Fund's "On Wider Europe" series.


North Caucasus Turmoil Intensifies on Europe’s Doorstep

by Aslan Doukaev

A female suicide bomber killed herself and at least five police officers on March 6, when she blew herself up at a police checkpoint in a village in Daghestan. She acted in apparent revenge for the death of her husband last month at the hands of security forces. This has become an all too familiar story, not just in Daghestan, but across the North Caucasus, where over the past decade, the initially predominantly Chechen military resistance to Russia has morphed into a militant and highly organized Islamic insurgency.

In Chechnya itself, fierce fighting last month along the border with Daghestan left 17 government troops dead and 24 wounded, state news agencies quoted Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev as telling Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. According to the same source, the insurgents lost only seven people in the clashes, which lasted for over a week. It was a highly unusual admission from one of Russia’s top security officials, who are not generally prone to disclose the real extent of their failures, preferring instead to dress them up in euphemism and understatement.

One possible explanation for this surprising candidness is the fact that in the age of mobile telephones it is extremely difficult, if not totally impossible, to keep a lid on such events. On February 15, an insurgent commander succeeded in calling Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s (RFE/RL) North Caucasus Service to report — against a background of heavy gunfire — that on that day alone the insurgents had killed 4 police officersand wounded at least 13.

Another explanation is that developments in the North Caucasus, after more than 17 years of conflict, no longer generate serious interest in the outside world. The events described above received only scant coverage in Western media.

There are, however, three compelling reasons why the ongoing conflict inthe North Caucasus merits more attention.

First, the North Caucasus insurgency is without doubt one of the world’s most ruthlessly efficient and effective jihadi groups. With a total force of no more than 1,000 — 1,500 fighters, it killed an average of two people per day last year and perpetrated a terrorist attack on average every other week, including the suicide bombing at Moscow’s Domodedovo airport in January 2011 that killed 40 people.

Read the rest of the article here.