Friday, February 25, 2011

Putin Is As Bad At Handling Iran As Obama--Maybe Even Worse

Lt. Colonel James Zumwalt, USMC (ret) writes about Russian Prime Minister Putin, whose reputation of being tough on terrorism took a hit following the 2010 terrorist bombing of a Moscow subway that killed 40. While Putin did promise retribution, he did not come right out and say that Islamists were behind the attack:
Putin’s reluctance to accuse the Islamists was most likely tied to his need to ease the Russian people into the realization he has fed them false hope. In 2006, when Putin was president, Russia’s secret police killed Islamist leader Shamil Basayev. Putin proclaimed the Islamic insurgency had been defeated and a thousand year era of peace had begun. But in 2007, an Islamist group called Caucasus Emirate—seeking to bring Islamic law to North Caucasus, which includes Chechnya—was formed. Last February, the terrorist group’s leader announced Russian cities would be included within their “zone of military operations.” Thus, it would appear Putin must now hit his own “reset” button concerning his assessment on Islamist terrorism.
Among the threats that Russia faces from the Islamists is a demographic one: Muslim birth rates in Russia are much higher than the native Russians--to the extent that there are estimates that by 2050, there will be more Muslims living in Russia than native Russians.

But according to Zumwalt, the bigger threat to Russia comes from Iran--and from Putin's naiveté in ignoring it:
In the end, it will prove to be Russian assistance given to the Iranians in building their nuclear facilities and Putin’s reluctance to work with the US and other nations to stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapons capability that will come back to haunt Moscow. For as Russia’s Muslim population and the ranks of Islamist separatists grow in the future, the latter will be looking for a “game changing” means of imposing its influence over all Russia. That means may well come in the form of a nuclear weapon the Islamist separatists come to possess—courtesy of Iran.

Putin naively believes in a non-existent Russian/Iranian bond that places Moscow outside Iran’s crosshairs. But Iran eventually has in mind for Russia the same fate it has for other non-Islamic states—a fate shared by the Caucasus Emirate: i.e., to make the country subservient to shariah law.
If Zumwalt is right, Putin is playing with fire. It is one thing to appease Iran, but to arm Iran and ignore its stated goals of spreading Islam could be putting Russia, and other countries, at risk.

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