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Why Russia Wants The Syrian Rebels To Lose

One of Russia’s main concerns in Syria has always been that the anti-Assad rebels would eventually draw in and radicalize Russia’s own Chechen and Dagestani separatists, creating headaches down the road for Moscow. And though Vladimir Putin certainly seems to have gotten the upper hand in Syria—Assad continues to press his advantage on the battlefield unmolested by Western air strikes—this success has not made him any less paranoid. The WSJ reports that Putin’s main man in Grozny is doing some strategic purging:

The top immigration official in the predominantly Muslim southern Russian republic of Chechnya was fired after it was disclosed that his daughter had joined Syrian rebels trying to overthrow Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, officials confirmed Friday.

Kremlin-backed Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov announced the firing on his Instagram account Thursday night, saying, “It’s no longer possible to trust” Asu Dudarkayev as the head of Chechnya’s regional migration service.

Russian officials may boast in private about what a pushover Obama was over Assad’s use of chemical weapons, but their real concern is over the southern belt of impoverished republics along the Caucasus and its many potential terrorists—especially with the Sochi Olympics mere months away.

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  • gabrielsyme

    Worrying about terrorist groups prospering seems reasonable to me. Perhaps someone in the White House should think along the same lines.

    I think we should also give some credit to the Russians for their stated desire to protect Christian minorities in the Middle East. That may be as much public relations as actual motivation, but we should recall that Orthodox believers have a significant role in the Russian government, that the Russian Orthodox Church has a historic concern for their coreligionists in the Levant, and that the Russian state has a strong understanding of the importance of cultural and religious identity.

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