Did Qatar Murder Ruin Russia’s Relations With Islamic World?

Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 5 Issue: 28

In a long analysis published in Kommersant on July 5, Mikhail Zygar concluded that the assassination of a Chechen extremist in Qatar by two operatives of Russian military intelligence has led to a disastrous result in one often overlooked area of Russian foreign policy. Even though the governments of both Russia and Qatar have tried to contain the damage, and even though the episode has not harmed Russia’s relations with the west, Zygar opined that “thanks to the court in Doha [which recently convicted the two assassins], the reconciliation of Russia with the Islamic world, which had been so greatly feared in the West, has now become impossible.”

Zygar added that while the Qatar authorities had resisted Russian demands to extradite the extremist Zelimkhan Yandarbiev, they had also repeatedly insisted that he was strictly forbidden to involve himself in politics as long as he was a guest in their country.

Evidence in support of Zygar’s conclusion came on July 8 in the form of an article by Fawaz Turki on the Arab News website entitled “Hypocrisy and Russian Terrorism.” Using the Qatar trial as a news peg, Turki wrote: “Moscow has continued to this day to wage its terror campaign in the Caucasus, a campaign that represents one of the bloodiest wars of ethnic cleansing in Europe…Of equal concern to us is the hypocrisy that the U.S. displays when it considers Russia, a wanton terrorist state of the first order, a ‘partner’ in the fight against ‘international terrorism.'” Turki also mentioned “the strange apartment bombings that took place in Sept. 1999 in Moscow,” insisting that “now it has been established…that the Federal Security [Service] was behind the atrocity.”