Chehens against Bashar Assad

Georgia Times | 2012-07-24 13:50

A message came from Syria: ethnic Chechens from the former Soviet Union are fighting together with the militants of the Free Syrian Army. Fellow tribesmen of Sheikh Mansur, acting under the flags of al-Qaeda and Taliban, were observed at the Syrian-Turkish border. The administration of Ramzan Kadyrov and the Chechen diaspora representatives deny the "Chechen trace", just like the Syrian opposition. GTimes reporter versed in the situation.

Earlier this week, the Agence France-Presse reported appearance of a new ethnic group – the Chechens – in the Syrian opposition camp. After the rebels of the Free Syrian Army have captured the checkpoint at the Syrian-Turkish border, the agency reporter interviewed the field commander. He told the reporter that in the ranks of the FSA there were a lot of foreign mujahideen who fought in Syria for the idea of ​​an "Islamic caliphate". There are many "soldiers of Allah" of the Chechen nationality in the army along with the Afghans, Moroccans, Libyans and Kurds.

The news about the Chechens from the Syrian opposition were reported by the majority of news agencies around the world. The head of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, has called the news "the next canard". "We well remember that in the period of active hostilities in Afghanistan, the media, with reference to Western politicians and the military, claimed that almost tens of thousands of Chechens were fighting in this country against coalition troops … The new "canard" is from the same category. Allegedly, someone somewhere at the border said that in their ranks there were the Chechens. Where is documented evidence? There is no such evidence and can’t be", Kadyrov told reporters.

Representatives of the Syrian opposition in Russia are also denying information about the Chechen mercenaries in their camp. Moreover, the oppositionists claim they are deliberately distancing themselves from the Russians, who want to fight against Assad in Syria. "Maybe there are such Russians. It may be that they genuinely want to overthrow Assad. But Syrian opposition does not communicate with them. We do not want foreigners interfering in our affairs", Syrian social activist Omar Shaar told GTimes.

So are threre Chechens in the camp of Syria’s opposition? And if it’s true, where are they from? In the Middle East there is Vainakh diaspora. Many Middle Eastern Vainakhs are not delighted with Assad and what is going on in Syria. In an interview to GTimes Yevgeny Satanovsky, president of the Middle East Institute, has commented this difficult situation.

"Could the Chechens become rebels of the Syrian opposition? Why not? There are lots of militants who are fighting all over the world under the banner of al-Qaeda or Taliban? For example, Ayman al-Zawahiri has long declared jihad against Bashar Assad. One of the locations of these fighters, the center of their supply chains and training centers is the present Turkey. This is an open secret.

A sufficient number of militants of al-Qaeda and other international Islamist groups is fighting on the side of the Syrian opposition. There are Libyans, those who came from Central Asia, in general, those who came from all branches of the organization, long turned into an international brand. I personally do not track all the Chechen fighters who travel the world, so I cannot say anything about what Chechens were observes at the Syrian-Turkish border: from what teip they were, how old they were and what families they were from".

The expert says the Chechens are the inhabitants of the Chechen Republic, Russian Federation citizens, but not the Circassians of the Middle East. "Those Chechens who are fighting against Assad are almost uniquely from post-Soviet Chechen. Recruitment of militants in the North Caucasus was part of an active policy of al-Qaeda in the 1990s of last century. During the First Chechen War, Ayman al-Zawahiri spent several years in Makhachkala prison not accidently. In those years Zawahiri actively traveled through the Caucasus, telling everyone that he was a doctor and that he brought humanitarian mission to help people. That was then, and the same is now. There are Tatars, Bashkirs and representatives of other peoples of Russia in the Jamaat "Bulgar" at the Afghan-Pakistani border. This week we saw that someone of these worthy gentlemen has deigned to come back home and started shooting of on Tatar Muftiyat. And what is so special different in Syria?", the expert concluded.

Arthur Pryjmak


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