Russia, Iran and Iraq: Mullahs, Militants, Missiles

The Beslan tragedy and its aftermath have thrown the spotlight once again on Russia’s ambivalent relationship with the Islamic world. Moscow insists that its quarrel is with international terrorism and Islamic extremism and not with Islam as a political-religious movement.

The World Today Published 1 November 2004 Updated 19 October 2020 4 minute READ

Bobo Lo

International Relations Analyst, Independent

In reality, the recent escalation of Chechen-related violence has produced a fraught emotional climate, in which the distinction between the Islamic mainstream and radicalism has become increasingly blurred. Despite public disclaimers, Russian attitudes towards political Islam are hardening – a development that has major implications for its policy towards the Middle East.

The consequences of Moscow’s attitudinal shift emerge most clearly in two areas: re-evaluation of the relationship with Iran, and a more co-operative approach towards post-conflict security and reconstruction in Iraq. Both bear the imprint of a changing strategic calculus after September 11 2001, above all the need to respond to a new international security agenda shaped by concrete threat perceptions rather than geopolitical stereotypes.

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