REPORT: U.S.-Russian Relations and the War Against Jihadism 

Photo Putin and Obama

by Gordon M. Hahn

In 2008 I was asked by the Century Foundation in New York City to write a paper for 2009 on Russian-American relations and the war against ‘terrorism’ (that is, jihadism) for the Gary Hart-John Matlock Working Group on U.S-Russian Relations, which offered policy proposals to the then incoming U.S. Administration of Barack Obama. This paper is no longer on the foundation’s website or otherwise available on the Internet. Therefore, I am publishing it here, especially as it has some relevance to the current Syrian crisis, recent Islamic State attacks and the ongoing catastrophic failure to cobble together a grand anti-jihadi alliance throughout the Obama administration’s tenure.  A Century Foundation PDF version is available upon request.

U.S.-Russian Relations and the War Against Jihadism

by Gordon M. Hahn

Introduction

At the September 2008 World Policy Conference in Evian, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev called for a new European security architecture and a new quality of interaction in combating non-proliferation, narco-business, and terrorism. The incoming Barack Obama administration should take  up  his offer, pursuing aggressively the most robust level of U.S.-Russian cooperation in the war against violent Islamism or jihadism possible. In addition to security cooperation, joint soft power measures are needed to drain the pond of ideological extremism and poverty in which Islamism spawns and from which jihadists recruit.

U.S. and Russian interests overlap considerably on this crucial national security issue. Moreover, by maximizing cooperation in areas of common interest and threat, such as counterterrorism, we can contain and  possibly overcome differences on more vexing issues in the relationship.

Although it makes sense for Washington and Moscow to establish closer cooperation, even an outright alliance in the struggle against jihadism, this has not happened for a number of reasons. First of all, there has been a significant decline in the overall U.S.-Russia relationship in recent years, which complicates the prospects of counterterrorism cooperation and operations. Thus, Britain’s MI5 chief Jonathan Evans noted his “disappointment” that he is forced to devote so many resources to countering Russian and Chinese espionage efforts instead of fighting international terrorism.[1] Other factors impeding  U.S.-Russian efforts are institutional, bureaucratic, and cultural resistance to cooperation in any areas involving important secrets of national security, as well as differences in threat and interest perceptions in the various fronts in the war against jihadism.

Changes in the structure of the jihadist movement since the September 11 attacks strengthen the rationale for broader and deeper U.S.-Russian cooperation. The leading role of al Qaeda in the global jihad has weakened, and a more decentralized network of still-allied but more isolated and self-sufficient jihadist nodes such as the “Caucasus Emirate” has emerged. In part, this restructuring is a result of better intelligence, police, and immigration performance in the West and Russia. However “leaderless” the jihad may be, the combination of continuing mutual assistance between its local nodes requires real coordination between the United States and Russia if not joint efforts in order to disrupt communications and attack more localized nodes.

Strategically, Washington and Moscow are on the same page, which reads the global jihadist threat is real and must be eliminated. But tactically, they diverge according to the extent that they perceive one particular jihadist movement or another as a threat, in particular to itself. With this in mind, in which regions can U.S.-Russian cooperation against jihadism be initiated and enhanced, and where is it an unviable venture, at least at present?

Jihadists outside of Eurasia writ large—including Eurasia proper, plus Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, and the Persian Gulf region in general—represent little or no threat to Russia, but do threaten U.S. interests and/or those of its allies. Thus, in places such as Southeast Asia and northern Africa, there is little or no common interest or threat, though jihadist takeovers ultimately would affect both countries’ interests in the long run. In the Middle East, including Iraq, interests and perceptions diverge significantly, though again, a jihadist takeover in Iraq would have serious implications for both countries.

Regarding the more immediate threats to their respective homelands, threats to one are, by all appearances, of less concern to the other, but mistakenly so. A catastrophic terrorist attack in the United States would affect the entire world, something that the U.S. financial crisis and its spread around the globe underscored. Similarly, Russia’s own jihadist threat in the North Caucasus means that Russia, together with Pakistan and India, constitute the only countries that possess both a significant jihadist movement and large stockpiles of nuclear and other materials and weapons of mass destruction. Moreover, the North Caucasus mujahedin have metastasized into a threat to the U.S., albeit one with limited capacity at present. In regions bordering Russia, such as Central Asia and the southern Caucasus, especially Azerbaijan, deepening U.S. and Western involvement creates a modus vivendi for cooperation with Moscow in the war against jihadism. In sum, South and Central Asia and the Caucasus are the two regions where sufficient common interests and threats offer realistic prospects for increased U.S.-Russian security cooperation against jihadism.

The Prospects for Cooperation in Central Asia

U.S.-Russian cooperation in the war against jihadism can be deepened most easily and beneficially in the Afghanistan-Pakistan war against jihadism, and then expanded to broader cooperation in South and Central Asia, partnering with India and perhaps China. The South/Central Asian theatre is the only front in the war against jihadism where Russian and American threat perceptions largely coincide. The Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan have long constituted a common threat to the U.S. and Russia. The Taliban and al Qaeda provided refuge, training, and other forms of support for Central Asia’s various Islamist and jihadist groups before they did so for the perpetrators of the World Trade Center bombing, the USS Cole attack, the embassy attacks in Africa, and the September 11 attacks.

Russia was first to recognize the seriousness of the jihadist threat in Afghanistan and Pakistan, informed by the Soviet experience in the region in the 1980s and subsequent development of radical Islam in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. Even before the Tajik- and Uzbek-dominated Northern Alliance government in Kabul fell in 1996, Moscow was warning Washington of the Taliban and al Qaeda threats to Central Asia and Russia, if not more broadly.[2] This same concern was repeated earlier this year by Russia’s representative to NATO.[3]

With September 11 and Putin’s quick and spontaneous expression of support to President Bush, Russian and American interests in the region were brought into almost complete accord. That region remains important to both American and Russian interests also by dint of their value as hydrocarbon energy sources and transport routes. Although Russian and the United States are competitors in the energy game at present, both have an interest in securing the Central Asia and the Caspian region from jihadists first. Thhe hydrocarbon game then can resume, if it must.

Today, the Taliban, al Qaeda, the Lakshar-i-Taiba, Tablighi Jihad, and even the dwindling Islamic Movement of Turkestan (IMT, the successor to the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, or IMU) and Tajik jihadists remain threats both to NATO forces in Afghanistan and to Russia’s southern underbelly in Central Asia. The Islamist revolutionary organization Hizb ut-Tahrir Islami (HTI), which is largely nonviolent but functions in effect as a recruiting agency for future jihadists, is also a potential threat to Central Asia, Russia, and U.S.-allied Europe, with a significant presence in each. HTI also maintains a presence in Russia’s Tatarstan and Bashkortostan republics, the nationalists of which are potential allies or recruits. Also, Chechen and other Caucasus jihadists maintain links to remnants of the IMT/IMU in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), the main front now in the war against the Taliban, al Qaeda, and global jihadism.

Thus, Russia has an interest in defeating jihadism in South and Central Asia, and greater Russian cooperation serves American interests in its main front in the war against jihadism. Indeed, since both countries view the defeat of the Taliban and al Qaeda and stability in Central Asia as vital to their own national security, cooperation is already significant. The common interest has been evident in Moscow’s support, albeit hesitant, for Western use of military bases in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan early in the Afghan war, assistance to the Northern Alliance, permission for NATO aircraft to fly through Russian airspace en route to the region, and the more recent talk on the possibility of ground transit of NATO supplies through Russia to Central Asia and Afghanistan. More importantly, Moscow has sent important signals over the past year that it is prepared to step up cooperation in Afghanistan and by extension Pakistan, including agreement to establish the northern route for supplying NATO forces there, as part of broader alliance to fight the global jihadist movement.[4] Failure to take advantage of Russian overtures would present risks of further deterioration in relations and a dangerous U.S.-Russian competition in the region.

The piquancy of the situation was highlighted on February 3 when Pakistani militants cut the main eastern supply route through the Khyber Pass to Afghanistan and Kyrgyzstan president Kurmanbek Bakiev announced that Bishkek would terminate U.S. use of the Manas airbase. That the latter was announced after meeting with Russian president Medvedev and a deal involving over $2 billion in Russian credits and grants as well as a construction of a hydroelectric station for Bishkek suggests that Moscow was underscoring its vital role in the region and gathering chips to deal in negotiations with the new U.S. administration.

The inability of the United States and Russia to cooperate could lead to NATO’s defeat in Afghanistan and a new haven for jihadists bent on repeating September 11. For Russia, a jihadist victory in Afghanistan (and/or Iraq) would lead to the export of foreign jihadists and the return home of native battle-hardened ones to Central Asia and the Caucasus. This could lead to failing or failed states in the region, giving an opening to Islamists or jihadists in South and Central Asia and even to the Caucasus Emirate or other Islamists in Russia. The capture of the Pakistani state by jihadists could lead to the transfer of nuclear weapons or radiological materials to jihadists targeting the United States, Europe, and/or Russia.

However, there is some space between U.S. and Russian interests when it comes to a NATO defeat and withdrawal from Afghanistan regarding the war’s outcome. In lieu of a complete U.S. victory over the Taliban and other jihadists in Afghanistan as well as the capture of al Qaeda’s leadership, most importantly Osama bin Laden, Russia’s interests would be served more by the West’s long-term engagement of jihadists in Afghanistan and Pakistan than by defeat and withdrawal. This would contain the threat to South Asia and bog down the United States, NATO, al Qaeda, and jihadists in the region, diverting their attention and resources from deployment elsewhere.

After NATO’s withdrawal, Russia and/or others might be tempted to enhance the already growing military component of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO; members include Russia, China, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan; observer-members are Pakistan, India, Iran, and Mongolia) and employ it to defeat or contain jihadism in Central Asia.[5] This would be more costly for Moscow, and many there would blame the regional crisis on American hubris or even conspiracies, further damaging U.S.-Russian relations. A SCO role would involve China even more deeply in the region, something that is probably neither in Russia’s nor America’s interests. In this event, Moscow likely would promote a more virulently anti-Western, especially anti-American, and perhaps “Eurasianist” line, proposing an alliance of non-Western civilizations to counter American hegemony. In the long-term, this could compensate Russia’s Muslims for Moscow’s war against foreign Muslims and rally some Islamic states towards SCO, further threatening American interests.

At present, Moscow supports U.S. efforts in Afghanistan, where the West is doing heavy lifting for the Kremlin. It is imperative that Moscow’s support continues and grows, even if NATO draws back from ground operations to covert and air operations. It is in the American and Russian interest to maximize reconstruction, intelligence, security, and, perhaps in future, limited military forms of cooperation in Afghanistan. Otherwise, as Barnett Rubin and Ahmed Rashid have warned, Afghanistan and Central Asia could be transformed into yet another region where Russian-American differences lead to competition or conflict (such as the recent five-day war in Georgia), which can only benefit the region’s jihadists.[6]

The Prospects for Cooperation in the Caucasus

Four factors shape the context for U.S.-Russian cooperation against jihadism in the greater Caucasus: Russia’s jihadist “Caucasus Emirate,” Azerbaijan, Iraq, and Iran.

 

Russia’s Caucasus Emirate

The presence in Russia of a jihadist threat that has ties to the global jihadist movement creates a basis for establishing greater U.S.-Russian cooperation, even a strategic partnership against jihadism. However, many in the West continue to question the extent to which the United States and Russia face common Islamist and jihadist threats. There is little debate within al Qaeda or other jihadists that both states are leading infidel enemy states. The United States may be the main target of many jihadist movements, but Russia is also a target. In 1996, al Qaeda mastermind Ayman al-Zawahiri urged jihadists to seize all Muslim lands in Russia and the former Soviet Union in order to fragment the Russian Federation and “topple a basic ally of the United States in its battle against the Islamic jihadist awakening.”[7] Since then, al Qaeda and other foreign jihadists have been meddling in Russia. Zawahiri himself went to Russia around this time, and later, Mohammed Atta was redirected by al Qaeda from heading to Chechnya and diverted instead to Germany and preparations for September 11. Thousands of foreign mujahedin have fought in Russia’s North Caucasus (some sent there by al Qaeda), and many hundreds of Chechen fighters, including the late notorious Shamil Basaev, received training in al Qaeda’s Afghan training camps and have fought on various jihadist fronts, from Pakistan’s FATA to Baghdad. During the inter-war period, when Islamists and jihadists began to infiltrate the de facto independent Chechen Republic of Ichkeria (ChRI), Basaev’s close associate, the notorious al Qaeda operative Khattab, modeled Chechnya-based training camps on the al Qaeda model for preparing a core of foreign and indigenous jihadists that would invade Dagestan in August 1999, kicking off the second Chechen war.

By summer 2002, the jihadist element was able to parlay the war to gain greater control over the formerly Chechen nationalist-oriented, underground ChRI and its fighting forces. Henceforth, the ChRI became another affiliate in the global jihad. The refashioned ChRI, increasingly under the control of Basaev and the jihadists, began spreading its network of “combat jamaats” to Ingushetia, Dagestan, Kabardino-Balkaria, and the entire North Caucasus. In spring 2005 the ChRI openly declared Caucasus and Dagestan fronts in the jihad, encompassing the entire North Caucasus. In spring 2006, Volga and Urals fronts were added, expanding the jihad’s goal to encompass all “Muslim lands” in Russia. Terrorist attacks targeted Moscow airports, subway trains, and sports stadiums, as well as schools in North Ossetia, and the ChRI jihadists’ Web sites proselytized the most radical jihadist teachings as well as anti-American, anti-Western, and anti-Semitic propaganda.[8] Given the ChRI’s full jihadization, it was high time in 2003 that observers in the West and particularly in the United States understood that the Chechen and Caucasus jihadists were now part and parcel of the global jihadist threat and a real danger to Russian national security. Unfortunately, a combination of political correctness on the Left and Russophobia on the Right prevented such understanding.

In early November 2007, the ChRI, led by its new “amir” Abu Usman (also known as Doka Umarov), was renamed the “Caucasus Emirate.” Regarded in jihadist circles as the third emirate after those in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Caucasus Emirate declared jihad on the United States, Britain, and Israel upon its founding. “The USA is the main and most dangerous enemy,” noted the Caucasus Emirate’s leading Web site in commemorating the Caucasus Emirate’s first anniversary.[9] In sum, Washington and Moscow have a common jihadist enemy inside Russia itself.

Aside from nullifying the Caucasus Emirate’s declaration of jihad against the United States, the defeat of jihadism in Russia would eliminate other threats that Caucasus jihadists pose to the United States:

  • an enlarged recruitment base for the international jihadist movement from among Russia’s Muslims;
  • the potential emergence of a Russia-wide terrorist network of various Muslim ethnic organizations tied to international Islamist groups, and of civil war across large swathes of southern Russia, rendering Russia a failing or failed state;
  • with the Russian state’s weakening or disintegration, the increased likelihood of acquisition of weapons of mass destruction by Russian Islamists, who could become intermediaries for their transfer to international terrorists targeting the United States;
  • the secession of one or more of Russia’s Muslim regions, and the establishment of a single or multiple Islamic caliphates on their territory, offering a potential state base for the global jihadist movement;
  • a rising tide of Islamist terrorism and the Russian government’s failure to hold on to large portions of territory could destabilize Moscow itself, leading to a gradual harshening of an already, albeit soft authoritarian regime or a hard-line coup led by virulently anti-Western forces.

How potent is the Caucasus Emirate? I estimate there were some 372 jihadist terrorist incidents in Russia during 2008, 370 of them in the North Caucasus. This means more than one per day.[10] Most jihadist attacks were assassinations of law enforcement and civilian officials, assassination attempts, ambushes, and improvised explosive device (IED) or mine explosions targeting police posts, military convoys, and various law enforcement organs’ headquarters. Ingushetia suffered most from jihadist terrorism, with 138 incidents. There were 128 in Chechnya, 62 in Dagestan, 28 in Kabardino-Balkaria, 5 in Karachevo-Cherkessia, and 9 in North Ossetia. Terrorist incidents in Russia killed 412 and wounded 435 civilian and law enforcement officials and servicemen, and killed 36 and wounded 55 civilians. The mujahedin saw 129 of their ranks killed, 13 wounded, and 76 captured (including a very few who surrendered).[11] This would mean the Caucasus Emirate lost 218 fighters in 2008.

How large is the Caucasus Emirate network? Whether one uses my figure of 218 or Kavkaz-uzel’s figure of 626 for the number of Caucasus Emirate fighters lost in 2008, it is clear that the number of jihadists exceeds the estimate of 400–500 jihadist fighters operating in the North Caucasus made by General Nikolai Rogozhkin, the commander in chief of the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs troops, and renders absurd Chechen president Ramzan Kadyrov’s claim that there remain only 40–50 in Chechnya.[12] In January 2009, Arkadii Yedelev, deputy chief of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, claimed there were as many as 500 jihadist fighters in Chechnya alone and as many as 120 jihadist fighters and 1,237 jihadist militants in Ingushetia alone. He gave no figures for Dagestan, where there is a strong jihadist underground, or for the other North Caucasus regions.[13] Ingushetia president Unus-bek Yevkurov claimed in a February 2009 interview that Ingushetia’s jihadists include “thousands” of fighters and facilitators.[14] I estimate rather tentatively that the Caucasus Emirate controls approximately one thousand fighters with a reserve of many thousands, including facilitators such as informants, safe house providers, messengers, and suppliers.[15]

That some Western governments or government-tied organizations have for years denied, downplayed, or ignored the connection between the Chechen militants under the Caucasus Emirate and its predecessors, on the one hand, and global jihadists, on the other hand, limits the development of a stronger Russian-Western alliance in the war against jihadism, not to mention an even broader partnership.[16] U.S. policy continues to ignore jihadist threats to Russia seven years after the jihadists seized control of the ChRI and more than a year after the Caucasus Emirate declared jihad on America. For example, the Caucasus Emirate still does not appear on the U.S. Department of State’s list of officially designated terrorist organizations as revised in April 2008.[17]

Some Western governments and organizations that receive government funding continue to harbor or otherwise support former and perhaps present-day Chechen separatists and jihadists, lending credence to the more paranoid Russian nationalist elements’ claims that the West, not al Qaeda or other global jihadists, are behind separatism or jihadism in the North Caucasus as part of the “Great Game’ in Eurasia. For example, London gives refuge to Akhmed Zakaev, the culture and then foreign minister of the jihadist-era Chechen Republic of Ichkeria from 2002 to 2007, allowing him to address a joint session of the Houses of Lords and Commons. Zakaev has stated openly that he controls some Chechen separatist units still fighting Moscow, presumably independently from the Caucasus Emirate, the creation of which he refused to support in November 2007.[18] His Web site, Chechenpress.org, reports daily on the Caucasus Emirate’s jihadist attacks.

Thus, some in and around the Kremlin suspect that significant elements in Western capitols—particularly in Washington, London, Warsaw, Riga, Tallinn, and Vilnius—would not mind seeing the jihadists in Afghanistan and Iraq turning their attention toward Russia and its North Caucasus. Russian hardliners and seemingly even some high-ranking officials suspect that American and perhaps other Western intelligence agencies finance and even supply Caucasus jihadists or indirectly support such groups.[19]

As is true to a lesser extent in Afghanistan, the revived Great Game for hydrocarbon energy and political influence diminishes the potential for U.S.-Russian cooperation in the region. The five-day war in Ossetia in August 2008 made those complications and the costs of NATO expansion in the region all too obvious. For this and other reasons discussed below, joint U.S.-Russian cooperation on the ground in the war on jihadism is unlikely in Russia and its North Caucasus for any time in the foreseeable future. However, Islamic militants in the North Caucasus bring Russia’s jihadist threat to another region of vital U.S. and Russian interests—the south Caucasus, in particular Azerbaijan—where cooperation against the Caucasus Emirate and other jihadist elements might be feasible.

The Jihadist Threat to Azerbaijan and the South Caucasus

A greater jihadist presence in Azerbaijan, a state that borders both Iraq and Iran and through which runs the strategic Tbilisi-Baku-Ceyhan pipeline (TBC) carrying oil to Europe, would have grave implications for the region and Russia’s North Caucasus. The Caucasus Emirate has declared not only all Muslim lands in Russia, but also the entire Caucasus as its rightful domain. Russia’s republic of Dagestan, across Azerbaijan’s northern border, has been a hotbed of Caucasus Emirate activity. Recent incursions by jihadists south into northern Azerbaijan as well as jihadist activity in Baku suggest mujahedin could threaten this strategically important state.[20] Ethnic Muslim Lezgin separatism and Shiite or Sunni Islamism in Azerbaijan are potentially destabilizing factors that could feed Islamism and jihadism. Both Dagestani and Azeri Sunni jihadist cells as well as a Shiite Lezgin population with some separatist aspirations straddle the Dagestani-Azeri border. Thus, both Russia and the West face a potentially common Sunni threat in southwest Asia and the Caucasus. The problem is that there is little evidence that either side is aware of this common interest; competition has characterized Russia-West relations in the region.

The War in Iraq

The geopolitics of the Caucasus informs Moscow’s concerns about the war in Iraq, where differences with Washington are considerable and cooperation largely absent and unlikely. To be sure, tension in the overall U.S.-Russian relationship has defined Moscow’s stance on Iraq. Russian nationalists and Eurasianists are convinced that Washington is using its war in Iraq (and against global jihadism) as cover for expanding its hegemony and control over hydrocarbons. Realist Russians understand that the more Moscow allies with the West in Iraq, the more likely it is that Russia’s Muslims will revolt, and that after the conflict foreign and native mujahedin will go to the Caucasus.[21] Iraq sits but 200 miles from neighboring Azerbaijan and 350 miles from Russian’s North Caucasus. Some in Moscow also worry that Iraqi Sunni Islamism or Kurdish separatism could destabilize Turkey and Azerbaijan, where Chechen and Caucasus diasporas offer some support to the Caucasus Emirate. The southern Caucasus already is shaken by the Azeri-Armenian dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh and Georgian-Russian tensions over South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Those in and around the region do not need new conflicts.

The Iranian Factor

Iran is a wild card not only in the overall U.S.-Russian relationship, but also in any cooperation against jihadism and in the Caucasus (and Central Asia). Russia’s close economic and political ties to Tehran suggest Moscow continues to place its bet on the Shi’a over the Sunni as the lesser of two potential Islamic threats to the Caucasus and Central Asia. The Shiite threat to Russia is minimal, given the limited Shi’a presence in these regions as compared with Sunni Islam. Tehran’s opportunities for fomenting jihad in Central Asia and Russia’s North Caucasus are limited respectively to the small Shiite Lezgin population that straddles the Dagestan-Azerbaijani border in the Caucasus (and the Farsi-speaking, but Sunni Tajiks in Central Asia).

It is unlikely that Iran would support Shiite or Sunni jihadists in Russia’s North Caucasus and/or in Central Asia so long as Russia continues to veto Western resolutions for truly tough sanctions on Tehran in the U.N. Security Council. The Kremlin must be cautious, and hedge against the possibility that Tehran might support jihadization in the Caucasus, and even transfer radiological materials to the Caucasus Emirate.[22] On the other hand, Tehran might be able to turn a Kremlin fully alienated from the West, and together they could incite Shi’a Islamism in Azerbaijan in order to threaten the TBC pipeline and a West-leaning Baku. Thus, putting the Iranian nuclear issue aside, there is an objective logic for greater U.S.-Russian cooperation against jihadism in the larger Caucasus. A quid pro quo involving an end to NATO expansion might be most effective in encouraging Moscow to choose Washington over Tehran. But cooperation against jihadism as well as the mutual confidence-building and strengthened security in the Caucasus and Central Asia would help.

In sum, residual fears, mutual suspicion, and differences in perceptions create considerable divergence between the United States and Russia in their approach to the jihadist threat outside of South and Central Asia. Even there, cooperation remains limited. But an objective assessment shows there are a number interests and threats that the two countries have in common and that are not being exploited sufficiently, either to address the jihadist challenge or to leverage an increase in overall cooperation in U.S.-Russian relations. Washington and Moscow have a common interest in the defeat of jihadism in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the Iraq-Caucasus corridor. How can cooperation be deepened?

Policy Recommendations

The United States, Russia, and their allies can and should develop deeper cooperation in all its possible forms in the war against jihadism—security (intelligence, police and military), public diplomacy, and economic development. Unfortunately, the current trend is one of stagnating, even declining cooperation. The Bush Administration’s U.S.-Russia Counter-Terrorism Working Group is dormant, and a recent study commissioned by the U.S. Army war College’s Strategic Studies Institute ignored the subject, failing to devote even one chapter to possible U.S.-Russian cooperation in the war against jihadism.[23]

From the outset, Washington should convey to Moscow (perhaps behind closed doors) that confidence-building between the parties is intended to achieve the larger goal of a broad antiterrorism alliance, in which the United States, Europe, Russia, India, and perhaps China would play leading roles. This will play to the Russians’ desire for a status of regional and global power. Washington also should make that clear by offering such cooperation, the United States is trying to repair damage to relations resulting in part from Western mistakes in the 1990s and 2000s. We must also institutionalize Russia’s role in the war against jihadism in a web of accountability-inducing procedures and agreements.

Cooperation could be institutionalized in a new joint U.S.-Russian Antiterrorism Council (USRAC) or the Bush Administration’s U.S.-Russia Counter-Terrorism Working Group could be revived and significantly upgraded. With the goal of increasing partners and including U.S. and Russian allies as well as others, the NATO-Russian Council (NATORC) or the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) could be the institutional home for wider international cooperation against jihadism (and perhaps for the new European security architecture). Cooperation should begin with research and intelligence partnerships and gradually deepen to encompass joint counterterrorist planning, training exercises, and, in the more distant future, if possible, operations. Similarly, U.S.-Russian or NATO-Russian cooperation should expand toward regionalization of efforts to defeat jihadism and stabilize Islamic society, first in Afghanistan and the southern Caucasus and later in other theaters in the war against jihadism, if necessary and feasible. Below, I propose a menu of policy options and a sequence for steps designed to deepen cooperation with Russia and expanding such cooperation to other parties.

Short-Term Security Cooperation Policy

First, Presidents Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev should convene a special summit on cooperation against jihadism. At this summit, President Obama should propose the creation of a permanent joint U.S.-Russia working group on such cooperation, through which the American side would suggest some of the proposals below. The U.S. proposal to Russia for convening such a summit should be preceded or accompanied by an announcement that the U.S. Department of State is placing the Caucasus Emirate on its official list of terrorist organizations. This gesture of goodwill should immediately improve the atmosphere in U.S.-Russian relations. This announcement should be accompanied by an offer to pursue the possibility of cooperation against the Caucasus Emirate and other jihadists in the larger Caucasus, beginning with intelligence cooperation.

The summit’s purpose would be to establish a permanent working group on U.S-Russian cooperation in the war against jihadism. Because of the coincidence of interests and threats in South and Central Asia and to a lesser extent in the Caucasus, discussed earlier, measures for enhancing U.S.-Russian cooperation should be focused initially in these regions. Thus, the summit should begin discussions on regionalizing efforts to defeat the Taliban and its allies in Afghanistan and Pakistan’s FATA. Regionalization could be helpful for all parties by containing jihadism in South Asia in the event that the current attempt to stabilize Afghanistan fails and the probably overly ambitious NATO ground war and U.S. goal of transforming a feudal Islamic society into a secular market democracy have to be abandoned in favor of targeted covert operations and air attacks.

The summit also could be used to broach a quid pro quo in the form of stronger Russian support for the United States in talks with Central Asian countries on agreements needed to complete the transport corridor for nonmilitary cargoes supplying forces in Afghanistan already agreed upon with Moscow. If cooperation builds trust, a subsequent agreement with Russia and the Central Asian states on U.S. and NATO transit rights for weapons and ammunition cargoes could be achieved.[24]

Initially, NATORC or USRAC could coordinate on analysis of the various theaters in the war against jihadism through a joint research center for the study of jihadism, counterterrorism, and counterinsurgency. In order to promote cooperation between Western and Russian intelligence agencies, the NATORC also should begin negotiations on establishing a joint intelligence center for the exchange and analysis of intelligence data on jihadist organizations and activity. Russia and the Central Asian states are in a better position to provide sound intelligence on the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan’s FATA as well as cultural and social network knowledge that has been so useful in Iraq. This would help reduce NATO’s dependence on Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency, supporting the common American, Russia, and Central Asian goal of defeating jihadism in Central Asia.

Since 2004, Moscow has been lobbying for a NATO-Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) relationship, especially for fighting the narcotics trade in Afghanistan, but has been spurned.[25] Russia soon will begin or has already begun training Afghan anti-narcotics personnel at a special Ministry of Internal Affairs center and has begun talks on closer military cooperation, including officer training with Turkey, a NATO member bordering Iraq and the Caucasus.[26] These efforts should incorporated and be built upon under a joint NATO-CSTO program. The United States should support a broader NATO-CSTO joint officer training program for training police, customs, anti-narcotics, military, and security personnel in Afghanistan, Central Asia, and Iraq. Counterterrorism components of such a program should include a strong Russian component, to be expanded later to include officers from states bordering Afghanistan. Program graduates would be logical candidates for assignment to the NATO-Russia counterterrorism research and intelligence centers.

Mid-Term Security Cooperation Goals

Joint U.S.-Russian counterterrorism and counterinsurgency research and intelligence analysis should evolve to joint counterterrorism and counterinsurgency training, operational planning, maneuvers, and perhaps operations. At the same time, these efforts should be regionalized by extending partnership to the “6+3” (United States, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Pakistan, and NATO).

Initially, joint activity beyond intelligence exchange and analysis could be undertaken for securing the Afghan-Uzbek, Afghan-Tajik, and Afghan-Turkmen borders, and perhaps later the internal Central Asian (Tajik-Uzbek, Kyrgyz-Tajik, Kyrgyz-Uzbek), Afghan-Pakistani, and China-Central Asian borders, to interdict the movement of jihadists and drug traffickers. In the longer-term, joint counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations could be considered, depending on the level of interoperability and preparedness achieved and the tactical and operational needs of the war against jihadism at the time. Capabilities developed in the South and Central Asian theater would be transferred to other fronts if needed.

In the Caucasus, we might broach negotiations on a Caucasus Anti-Terrorism Cooperation Agreement, including the United States and members of Turkey’s proposed Caucasus Stability and Cooperation Platform. This could become an important instrument for interdicting terrorists trying to move across the Iraq-Caucasus corridor through Azerbaijan. Instead of bilateral maneuvers in the south Caucasus—recall the divisive U.S.-Georgian maneuvers in July 2008—we would initiate multilateral counterterrorist U.S.-Russian-Turkish-Azeri-Armenian-Georgian intelligence analysis and military maneuvers along Azerbaijan’s northern and southern borders. Such cooperation would build badly needed trust in this fractured, tense, and blood-stained region in addition to helping shore up security in areas bordering Iraq and the Caucasus Emirate.

Long-Term Security Cooperation Goals

If U.S.-Russian and “6+3” cooperation are firmly established, regionalization could expand to encompass the CSTO and even some non-CSTO SCO members such as India, Pakistan (observer members), and perhaps China. This “NATO-CSTO+” cooperation could include all Eastern European and former Soviet republics that are not members of either NATO or the CSTO. Thus, depending on the level of the noted centers’ ultimate usefulness, they could evolve into NATO-CSTO+ centers.

Negotiations might be initiated on a Terrorist Extradition Agreement pledging the NATO-CSTO+ countries to extradite, try, or indict and extradite suspected terrorists or those who aided and abetted them. These countries also should conclude an agreement pledging not to use jihadists (or other terrorists) as proxies against other treaty signatories. This is in both sides’ interests, particularly in the event of further deterioration in relations. In the wake of the August five-day Georgian-Russian war, then-U.S. presidential candidate Senator John McCain made an ill-advised proposal that, in response to Russia’s war with Georgia, Washington could support separatism in the North Caucasus. Moscow could respond to such a demarche with covert support for Islamic extremism in regions sensitive for U.S. national security. Under this type of return to cold war practices, only the jihadists would be winners.

Ultimately, it might be able to parlay the above joint activity and agreements into a global Anti-Terrorism (Anti-Jihadism) Cooperation Treaty (ATCT) covering extradition and proxy issues and laying the legal groundwork for joint NATO-Russian or NATO-CSTO+ counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations. Such a treaty would secure all the cooperation and codify all the agreements proposed above as well as observation of laws on war, human, and civil rights under any joint activity.

Draining The Pond: Soft Power and the Islamist Challenge

In addition to the hard power measures proposed above to address jihadism, a series of soft power measures are needed to drain the pond of radical Islamism from which jihadists are able to recruit. 

Public Diplomacy Cooperation

Public diplomacy is an essential element in any counterterrorism or counterinsurgency campaign, especially one involving a hyper-ideological element such as Islamism and its violent counterpart, jihadism. The United States suffers from a deficit of knowledge about the Muslim world. Although our British and French allies can boast better knowledge from their colonial encounters with the Islamic world in the Mideast, northern Africa, and Afghanistan, the Russians and Central Asians have longer-standing ties with, and deeper knowledge of Afghanistan and to some extent Pakistan. They can assist in fashioning a sharper and more appealing Western message to this part of the Muslim world.

For example, Imperial Russia was home to an important nineteenth-century modernizing and moderating movement within Tatar and Central Asian Islam known as “jadidism.” Begun as a new more secularist approach to Islamic education, jadidism mixed with the reformist Tatar Islamic thought and Western political ideas such as nationalism and democracy, which entered Tatar lands from Russia proper. Jadidists came to oppose certain radical Islamic traditions, such as stiflingly modest dress for women, the ulema monopoly on Koranic interpretation, and the hegemony of confessional over national identity. Tatar jadidists, including many of the ulema, pushed a Tatar national, cultural, and political renaissance aimed at securing a place for the Tatar people among the community of modern nations; a nascent transformation that mirrored that which produced Kemal Ataturk’s nationalist revolution from above against the Islamic Ottoman caliphate after World War I. The pro-Moscow administration of Mintimer Shaimev in Muslim Tatarstan has promoted a revival of jadidism and neo-jadidism (“Euro-Islam”) as an antidote to radical nationalism and Islamic extremism. For obvious reasons, Moscow has backed this effort internally and has an interest in expanding it beyond Russia’s borders, especially in Central Asia and the Caucasus. The United States should help finance mass publication of classic jadidist works (as well as other moderate Islamic works) in the Russian, Caucasus, Tatar, Bashkir, English, Arabic, Urdu, Farsi, and Central Asian languages.

Economic Assistance

Although the role of socioeconomic deprivation in political or collective violence and terrorism often is exaggerated, it is certainly a relevant part of the mix. Relative deprivation and poverty help fill the pond from which jihadist recruiters are able to reel in new foot soldiers and suicide bombers. It is in America’s and Russia’s interests that the level of socioeconomic development in Central Asia and the Caucasus be markedly and rapidly raised. To this end, Washington, Moscow, Istanbul, and Riyadh should sponsor an international, perhaps Islamic development fund for these regions, once relations become conducive to such cooperation. Western countries should contribute to such a fund, but the United States and Russia would do well to lobby rich oil-producing Islamic countries to contribute. There are large Caucasus national diasporas in the Persian Gulf states and Turkey that might be willing to contribute substantially. Days after Barack Obama’s election as president, one of Russia’s leading muftis, Central Muslim Spiritual Administration Chairman Talgat Tajutdin, called for and offered cooperation with the new U.S. president. In his inaugural address, President Obama called for the establishment of mutually respectful relations between the United States and the Muslim world. The establishment of robust economic assistance for these Muslim regions would serve both calls.

Conclusion

Deeper U.S.-Russian cooperation is imperative for success in the war against jihadism. It also can help preserve and strengthen common interests and threat perceptions as well as facilitate cooperation on other issues, a better overall relationship, and even Russia’s integration with the West. Cooperation against jihadism can and should be gradually intensified and then parlayed into further cooperation in other policy areas. The most logical spheres into which cooperation against jihadism can be extended would be nonproliferation and arms control policy, because of their overlap with counterterrorism. This suggests a sequence for cooperation development that begins with arms control, where there appears to be mutual desire to conclude an agreement quickly, followed immediately by nonproliferation, and gradually by counter-jihadism.

In addition, the institutionalization of cooperation in the war against jihadism could fulfill the “socializing” and even democratizing function that NATO membership action plans are said to have for prospective alliance members. The process would be an alternative to NATO expansion without Russia and prepare Russia for possible NATO membership or a new European security architecture based on the NATO-CSTO+ or OSCE membership. Even if we do not get to the promised land of an ATCT or a overall security architecture, the cooperation developed in the endeavor would build mutual trust and a common vision of overlapping interests. At a minimum, this would tide the relationship through rough spots and institutionalize cooperation on international security issues. At a maximum, it could serve as a secure platform from which a new wave of deepening cooperation and understanding may arise as domestic and international circumstances change.

______________________

ENDNOTES

[1] “Rise in Number of Terrorists,” Manchester Evening News, November 5, 2007, available online at http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/special_reports/editors/s/1022830_rise_in_number_of_terrorists.

[2] The Clinton administration at the time was flirting with cooperating with Afghanistan’s Taliban ruler Mullah Omar in return for U.S. oil company rights to build a pipeline through the country.

[3] In a radio interview Russia’s representative to NATO Dmitrii Rogozin clearly stated Moscow’s fears that failure to defeat jihadism in Afghanistan would increase its potential to penetrate Tajikistan and Uzbekistan and threaten Russia. “Mezhdunarodnaya politika Rossii,” Ekho Moskvy, January 24, 2009, available online at http://www.echo.msk.ru/programs/beseda/567927-echo/.

[4] Moscow has been forthcoming in establishing the northern route for supplying NATO forces in Afghanistan. At the April 2008 Russia-NATO Bucharest summit, Moscow agreed to provide an air corridor for supplies to Afghanistan. Despite tensions in relations over the five-day Georgian-Russian war in August, Moscow maintained the corridor, and it expanded slightly with the addition of an additional airport in Kazakhstan. Seventeen days after the U.S. presidential election, Russian Foreign Ministry representative A. Nesterenko stated that “the Russian side, in particular at the highest political level,” had confirmed its interest in “increasing cooperation with NATO in the Afghanistan theatre . . regarding transit agreements concluded with Germany, France and other partnering countries functioning as suppliers” of the international force in Afghanistan. Russia has already worked out an agreement with Germany and prepared all documents for Russia’s Border Forces to allow the rail transit of military supplies to its forces. See “MID RF: Rossiya mozhet stat’ tranzitom dlya perevozok v Afganistan,” Islam.ru, 21 November 21 2008, http://www.islam.ru/rus/2008-11-21/. In December the Kremlin again signaled willingness to increase cooperation in Afghanistan by publishing a message from President Medvedev to Afghan President Hamid Karzai from June 2008. President Medvedev informed President Karzai that he had ordered the provision without compensation of fifteen thousand tons of grain to the Afghan government and a contribution for 2008–09 of $4 million to the multilateral Afghan trust fund. President Medvedev also promised that Afghanistan could count on Russia’s assistance in the strengthening of the Afghan army and under the aegis of the United Nations in the formation of a system of security belts around Afghanistan for purposes of fighting drug trafficking. See Dmitriya Medvedeva, “Ego Prevoskhoditel’stvu gospodinu Khamidu Karzayu, Prezidentu Islamiskoi Respublikoi Afganistan,” Kremlin.ru, June 26, 2008, available online at http://www.kremlin.ru/text/greets/2008/06/203123.shtml. On January 23, President Medvedev during his trip to Uzbekistan called for an international conference on Afghanistan and stated Russia’s willingness to step up cooperation there in with all countries, “of course, including the U.S.,” on issues such as the possibility of ground transport through Russia of supplies of “a non-military character” to Afghanistan and “obligations to provide assistance in the issues regarding the fight against terrorism.” See Segodnya, NTV, January 23, 2009, and “Russia’s Medvedev Hopes for Cooperation with USA on Afghan Settlement,” BBC Monitoring, January 24, 2009, citing Russian ‘Vesti’ TV, January 24, 2009.

[5] SCO began focusing on counterterrorism in 1999, three years after its formation. As its military component was established, it held counterterrorist military exercises, including most recently in China’s Xinjiang Province and Russia’s Chelyabinsk Oblast in August 2007 and near Moscow in September 2007. During his recent January 2009 trip to Uzbekistan, Medvedev called for an international conference on Afghanistan under SCO auspices. See “Russia’s Medvedev Hopes for Cooperation with USA on Afghan Settlement.”

[6] Barnett R. Rubin and Ahmed Rashid, “From Great Game to Grand Bargain,” Foreign Affairs 87, no. 6 (November–December 2008): 30–44, at p. 41.

[7] Faisal Devji, Landscapes of Jihad: Militancy, Morality, Modernity (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 2005), pp. 130–31, and Dore Gold, Hatred’s Kingdom: How Saudi Arabia Supports the New Global Terrorism (Washington, D.C.: Regnery, 2003), p. 137.

[8] Gordon M. Hahn, Russia’s Islamic Threat (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2007); Gordon M. Hahn, “Islamism in Russia,” in Barry Rubin, ed., Survey of Global Islamism (Armonk, N.Y.: M.E. Sharpe, 2009); Gordon M. Hahn, “The Jihadi Insurgency and the Russian Counterinsurgency in the North Caucasus,” Post-Soviet Affairs 24, no. 1 (January–February 2008): 1–39; and Gordon M. Hahn, “Anti-Americanism, Anti-Westernism, and Anti-Semitism Among Russia’s Muslims,” Demokratizatsiya 16, no. 1 (Winter 2008): 49–60.

[9] Ali Bekhan, “Vragi Islama—Neskol’ko strikhov,” The Chechen Times, November 11, 2008, available online at http://www.chechentimes.net/content/view/2531/37/.

[10] My estimate is based on a daily tally of incidents as reported on the Caucasus Emirate’s Web sites, especially Kavkaz tsentr (www.kavkazcenter.com), as well as non-jihadist sources such Russian media outlets like Kavkazskii uzel (www.kavkaz-uzel.ru). Terrorist incidents here include not only attacks actually carried out by jihadists (the overwhelming majority of incidents) but also successful and attempted arrests and other violent confrontations between mujahedin and Russian or local law enforcement organs. They do not include numerous prevented attacks (discovered and deactivated bombs, and so on).

[11] According to the human rights organization Memorial’s Web site Kavkaz-uzel, there were 129 “terrorist acts” committed by the jihadists and 120 special operations conducted by Russian law enforcement and security forces against them, making for at least 249 terrorist incidents. In addition, there were 73 attacks carried out by unknown assailants, bringing the number of what I designate as terrorist incidents involving jihadists to some 300, according to Kavkaz-uzel’s figures. Jihadists killed 226 and wounded “no less than” 420 members of Russian and local law enforcement and security forces, while 231 mujahedin were killed, “no less than 315” were captured and 80 surrendered, according to Kavkaz-uzel. See “Severnyi Kavkaz—2008: god neokonchennoi voiny,” Kavkaz-uzel.ru, January 7, 2009, 01:35, available online at http://www.kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/north-caucasus-itogi_2008. This would mean that the Caucasus Emirate lost 626 jihadist fighters in 2008. It should be noted that Kavkaz-uzel’s figures do not exactly reflect its day-to-day reporting of attacks and that it often reports attacks clearly committed by jihadists as attacks committed by unknown persons. Moreover, authorities in the North Caucasus deliberately under-report and misreport terrorist attacks to, and hide terrorist attacks from journalists and higher-ups.

[12] “Severnyi Kavkaz—2008: god neokonchennoi voiny.”

[13] “Yedelev: v Chechne deistvuyut do 500 boevikov,” January 21, 2009, 14:30, available online at http://www.kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/148344.

[14] “Rebyata, chto bylo do menya—na vashei sovesti,” Novaya gazeta 13, no. 9 (February 2009), available online at http://www.novayagazeta.ru/data/2009/013/14.html.

[15] According to a source in one of the military commands in Chechnya, more than one thousand young people aged sixteen to thirty have left for “the forest” to join the jihadiststs in the republic since January 2007. Magomet Aliev and Yelena Milashina, “Chechnya: voina pokolenii,” Novaya gazeta 2, 14 (January 2009), available online at http://www.novayagazeta.ru/data/2009/002/00.html.

[16] For good examples close to home and funded by American tax payers, see the reaction to jihadist terrorist attacks in reporting by Russia see Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and the Jamestown Foundation, among others. For example, see Mark Baker, “On Beslan, Putin Looks Beyond Chechnya, Sees International Terror,” RFERL, September 7, 2004, available online at http://www.rferl.org/content/article/1054720.html.

[17]   “Foreign Terrorist Organizations,” Fact Sheet, Office of the Coordinator of Counterterrorism, U.S. Department of State, April 8, 2008, available online at http://www.state.gov/s/ct/rls/fs/08/103392.htm.

[18] For documentation see Gordon M. Hahn, “Look Who Is Talking,” Russia Profile, October 6, 2008, available online at http://www.russiaprofile.org/page.php?pageid=International&articleid=a1223308195.

[19] Recall President Putin’s comments on September 4, 2004, after the Beslan school hostage crisis, that some want to “tear juicy morsels off Russia” and his very limited qualification four days later: “(W)e’ve observed incidents (of Western involvement). It’s a replay of the mentality of the cold war. There are certain people who want us to be focused on internal problems and they pull strings here so that we don’t raise our heads internationally.” See Jonathan Steele, “Candid Putin Offers Praise and Blame,” The Guardian (London), September 8, 2004, available online at http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2004/sep/08/chechnya.russia. Federal and North Caucasus political and Islamic leaders have blamed the United States and/or the Central Intelligence Agency for instability and the invigoration of jihadist activity in the North Caucasus. See the comments of the Federation Council’s International Affairs Committee deputy chairman Vasilii Likhachev in “Rusofoby khotyat stolknut’ pravoslavnykh i musul’man, — zampred komiteta SF po mezhdunarodnym delam,” Islam.ru, September 12, 2008, available online at http://www.islam.ru/rus/2008-09-12/. See comments of Ingushetia’s president Unus-bek Yevkurov in “Rebyata, chto bylo do menya—na vashei sovesti.” See comments of former Ingushetian president Murat Zyazikov in “Prezident Ingushetii: situatsiya v respublike ne napryazhennaya,” Kavkaz-uzel.ru, September 7, 2008, available online at http://www.kavkaz-uzel.ru/newstext/news/id/1228576.html, and “Vilaiyat Galgaiche: Zyazikov uvidel ‘ruku SShA’ v Ingushetii,” Kavkaz tsentr, September 8, 2008, 15:13, available online at http://www.kavkazcenter.com/russ/content/2008/09/08/60890.shtml. See comments of chairman of the Council of Ulem of Nizhnii Novgorod’s Muslim Spiritual Administration Umar Idrisov in “Terakt v Mumbai—eto ochevidnaya provokatsiya, —U. Idrisov,” Islam.ru, December 1, 2008, available online at http://www.islam.ru/rus/2008-01-12/. Media often reinforce this view. In October 2008, Izvestia’s Web site carried a report of Polish “Igla” hand-held rocket launcher found in Chechnya and allegedly delivered there by “the special services of the USA” through Ukrainian and Georgian intermediaries. See “Raketa, priletavshaya iz Gruzzii,” Izvestia, October 21, 2008, available online at http://www.izvestia.ru/investigation/article3121788/, and “Otkuda v Chechne polskie ‘Igly’, prodannye Gruzii?,” Izvestia.ru, October 21, 2008, available online at http://media.izvestia.ru/events/article490/. One Russian journalist noted recently that “the West” refused to recognize the Chechen militants as terrorists and lends them support. See also Viktor Myasnikov, “Vzryvy gremyat po vsemu miru,” Nezavisimaya gazeta, September 26, 2008, available online at http://www.ng.ru/printed/216347. More recently, the liberal opposition military analyst Pavel Felgenhauer noted the possibility of “a new temporary tactical anti-Russian union” of Islamists and the West in the North Caucasus. See Pavel Felgenhauer, “’Filatelistov’ luchshe ne znat’,” Novaya gazeta 64, no. 1 (September 2008), available online at http://www.novayagazeta.ru/data/2008/64/09.html.

[20] Jihadists from Dagestan have been crossing Azerbaijan’s border recently, engaging battle in the north with Baku’s army and police. A recent indigenous jihadist attack on Baku’s Shiite-led Juma mosque underscores the point. An armed Wahhabbi group led by a former Azeri army officer Kyamran Asadov was uncovered in October 2007 plotting to attack state institutions and blow up U.S. and other Western embassies in Azerbaijan. In 2008 a jihadist group previously active in Chechnya and Dagestan was uncovered in Baku by Azeri intelligence.

[21] Russian presidential advisor Aslambek Aslakhanov made this point with regard to Iraq and its effect on the Caucasus and Central Asia. See “Russia Looks to Growing Influence in Muslim World,” Turkish Daily News, July 23, 2007.

[22] According to Azeri intelligence, Iran intelligence cooperated with the Shiite jihadist group, the Northern Army of the Mahdi, uncovered in Azerbaijan in 2007 and dedicated to establishing an Islamic state in Azerbaijan. Faik Medzhid, “V Azerbaidzhane obvinyaemyi v terrorizme Abu Dzhafar prigovoren k 14 godam tyurmy,” Kavkaz-uzel, July 28, 2008, http://www.kavkaz-uzel.ru/newstext/news/id/1226138.html.

[23] See Stephen J. Blank ed., Prospects for U.S.-Russian Security Cooperation (Carlisle, PA: Strategic Studies Institute, 2009).

[24] Kommersant reported a Russian-American “strategic partnership” agreement could be concluded by summer that would include NATO and U.S. military transit through Russia to Afghanistan in return for putting an end to plans for a missile defense system in Earstern Europe. Olga Allenova, “Na Afganistan nastavili prioritety,” Kommersant, January 28, 2009, available online at http://www.kommersant.ru/doc.aspx?DocsID=1109165.

[25] The CSTO first proposed cooperation in Afghanistan in June 2004. On Russian disappointment regarding its proposed anti-narcotics cooperation, see “NATO ‘Ignores’ Russia’s Offer to Help Fight Afghan Drug Trade,” Russia-Eurasia Terror Watch, October 15, 2008, available online at http://www.retwa.org/home.cfm?articleid=6767 citing RIA Novosti, October 14, 2008. After meeting with NATO officials in June 2005, President Putin suggested that Russia and NATO cooperate in combating the drug trade in Afghanistan and Central Asia, offering “a pilot project” to train drug enforcement officials in Afghanistan and Central Asia. In the context of discussing cooperation in the war against terrorism, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov repeated Moscow’s offer to establish NATO-CSTO relations. “Russia Invites NATO to Join Fight against Drugs, Terrorism in Central Asia,” AFX News—Asia Report, June 24, 2005.

[26] Yurii Gavrilov, “More spokoistviya,” Rossiiskaya gazeta, November 20, 2008, available online at http://www.rg.ru/2008/11/20/borba.html.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Gordon M. Hahn is an Analyst and Advisory Board Member of the Geostrategic Forecasting Corporation, Chicago, Illinois; a Senior Researcher, Center for Terrorism and Intelligence Studies (CETIS), Akribis Group, San Jose, California; and an Analyst/Consultant, Russia Other Points of View – Russia Media Watch, http://www.russiaotherpointsofview.com. Dr Hahn is author of three well-received books, Russia’s Revolution From Above (Transaction, 2002), Russia’s Islamic Threat (Yale University Press, 2007), which was named an outstanding title of 2007 by Choice magazine, and The ‘Caucasus Emirate’ Mujahedin: Global Jihadism in Russia’s North Caucasus and Beyond (McFarland Publishers, 2014). He also has authored hundreds of articles in scholarly journals and other publications on Russian, Eurasian and international politics and wrote, edited and published the Islam, Islamism, and Politics in Eurasia Report at CSIS from 2010-2013. He has taught Russian politics and other courses at Boston, American, Stanford, San Jose State, St. Petersburg State (Russia), and San Francisco State Universities as well as the Middlebury Institute for International Studies at Monterey, California. Dr. Hahn has been a Senior Associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (2011-2013) and a Visiting Scholar at both the Hoover Institution and the Kennan Institute.

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About Gordon M. Hahn