Ramzan Kadyrov was again in the focus of attention of the Middle Eastern media: allegedly, he was conducting some kind of separate negotiations with the leaders of the Arab monarchies about participation in the Syrian war. What role can the Chechen leader actually play?
Americans leave, who comes?
While the Russians were celebrating the New Year holidays, Arab social networks were in full swing over Ramzan Kadyrov’s visit to the countries of the Middle East. It all started with the fact that the author of one of the popular Twitter accounts @without__shadow reported that Kadyrov had been negotiating about sending Chechens to the war in Syria during a trip to the United Arab Emirates.
It is believed that the account on Twitter belongs to one of the employees of the UAE special services – he has more than 190 thousand subscribers. After that, the possible role of Kadyrov in the Syrian civil war began to seriously discuss various influential publications, including the Israeli newspaper Debka and the American The Defender Post.
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In particular, Debka in an editorial indicates that as the withdrawal of American forces from Syria, the Arab military will gradually take their place, whose main goal is to contain Turkey’s growing influence in the region. Recall that from mid-December, the Turkish Armed Forces are preparing for a decisive offensive in Syrian Kurdistan (the northern provinces of Syria, which are under the control of Kurdish rebels).
Kadyrov returns Russian children.
Ramzan Kadyrov is indeed playing an increasing role in the Syrian conflict. Back in December 2016, Chechen servicemen were transferred to Syria: they were stationed in Aleppo, where they ensured the evacuation of armed rebels and guarded humanitarian convoys. In February 2017, they were joined by military police, who came mostly from the North Caucasus.
After Russia, Iran and Turkey reached an agreement on the creation of “de-escalation zones”, the military police contingent was significantly increased: the Chechens were stationed, in particular, in the provinces of Homs and Deraa, as well as in Eastern Ghouta (a suburb of Damascus).
As of the end of June 2017, Russia sent at least four battalions of military police from the North Caucasus to Syria, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said.
The last two years, Syrian religious leaders have repeatedly visited Grozny, leading official negotiations with officials.
Chechen politicians also came to Syria regularly. During one of the visits of the mufti of Chechnya, Salakh Mezhiyev, plans were announced to build the campus of the Damascus University in Grozny.
The most frequent guest in Chechnya was Senator Ziad Sabsabi (a Syrian by nationality, originally from Aleppo), who was engaged in returning the wives and children of Islamic State militants to Russia. Thirty more people returned from Baghdad to Moscow the other day, among them children aged 3 to 10 years.
The role of Ramzan Kadyrov in the Middle East can be played by the “Free Press” talked with the senior researcher at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences Mikhail Roshchin.
– Of course, the essence of the negotiations, very few people know. But I would like to understand how likely Kadyrov’s participation in negotiations with Arab leaders can be? Could he even have a “mandate” from the leadership of Russia?
- Of course, we don’t know all the details, but I think Kadyrov is an important person in our indirect contacts with Arab countries.” I am confident that the Kremlin appreciates him in this capacity. It is no coincidence that he is engaged in the release of Russian children and women from Iraqi prisons after the defeat of the “Islamic State”.
– And how likely does it seem to you to create a military alliance of Russia, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates?
– I do not believe that such an alliance is possible. But I think that the United States is now trying to find a replacement for its forces in the zone of Syria, which is still under their control. In terms of combat effectiveness and combat experience of the Syrian Kurds, very few people can replace them there.
Armaments, if the Americans leave it (and it is quite obvious that this will happen), they already have more than enough. But financial support is needed – it is possible that the oil-producing Arabian monarchies will provide it.
Now, if Syrian Kurds manage to achieve real interaction with Damascus, then it is precisely in this matter that Kadyrov can be very useful – for conducting indirect talks with those who do not recognize the Bashar Assad regime.
– Another strange version: Turkey may be allegedly opposed to the Russian-Arab alliance. But after all, with this country we have now restored and even strengthened military-political relations.
– Nothing strange. Now there are various consultations and negotiations between the parties to the conflict in Syria. As I understand it, the Turks are calling on Americans to “surrender” the Kurds. It seems to me that this is just not likely to happen.
But we see that in the US, the domestic political situation is heating up, so there was a statement by Donald Trump on financing the construction of a wall on the border with Mexico. At the same time, Democrats are intensifying their attacks on the Trump administration. And in such a situation, it is obvious that the military presence in Syria loses all meaning for the American president.