Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 2 Issue: 34

On September 18, the head of the pro-Moscow Chechen civilian administration, Akhmad Kadyrov, left on a six-day tour of four Middle Eastern countries to meet with state officials and members of the Chechen diaspora in those countries and also to appeal for financial and material assistance for the rebuilding of Chechnya. He was accompanied by Muslim leaders–muftis–from Chechnya, Ingushetia and Karachaevo-Cherkessia. “We want them to tell their co-religionists the truth of the developments in Chechnya and the entire North Caucasus and give the lie to the [Movladi] Udugov propagandists’ words concerning a ‘holy war’ going on there,’ Kadyrov announced. Kadyrov underlined that “terrorists have no nationality” and said that the fact that there were Arab mercenaries among the militants casts no aspersion on all Arabs. “There are also Turks and Balts [among the terrorists],” he said, “in a word, all those who are paid for their crimes” (RIA Novosti, September 20).

On September 19, Kadyrov arrived in Cairo where he met with the Egyptian foreign minister, Ahmad Mahir al-Sayyid, and with the minister of religious endowments, Mahmud Hamdi Zaqzuq. Kadyrov delivered a written message from Russian President Putin to the Egyptian leadership and discussed with the foreign minister the struggle against international terrorism and extremism (Gazeta.ru, September 20). On September 20, Kadyrov arrived in Damascus for talks with the Syrian leadership, where he was scheduled to have meetings with top officials of the Syrian Foreign Ministry and with the High Mufti of Syria, Ahmed Keftaru. He was also to visit a village in Syria whose inhabitants are natives of the Russian North Caucasus region and who pray in a mosque built on money gathered from local residents (RIA Novosti, September 20). The size of the Chechen diaspora in Syria is estimated at 20,000. Following his visit to Syria, Kadyrov planned to travel to Jordan, where there is an influential 15,000-strong diaspora, and then to Iraq.

The online daily Gazeta.ru remarked: “The most influential Chechen diaspora is in Jordan. They live in close communities, have preserved all their national traditions and even have a privileged status, unprecedented in any other Arab country…. When the second war broke out in Chechnya, Jordanian Chechens allocated considerable funds to… Aslan Maskhadov. Kadyrov’s mission is now to persuade the leadership of Arab states and the Chechen communities that it is worth investing in Chechnya and that the [pro-Moscow] Chechen government will protect their interests” (Gazeta.ru, September 20).