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Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Sunday Conversion: Russia's Future is with Islam??

ITAR-TASS reports that, having alienated the entire Western world and terrified of Chinese territorial encroachment, the course of action has become obvious to the Kremlin:

Russia is set for strategic cooperation with the Islamic world, Russian President Vladimir Putin says in a welcoming letter addressed to a summit meeting of the Organizastion of the Islamic Conference that opened in Senegal's capital Dakar Thursday. Russia, which has an observer status in the organization, has sent a delegation, too. It is chaired by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. "For Russia, a deepening of relations of friendship and cooperation with the Islamic world is a strategic course, and we have solid grounds for this rapprochement," Putin says. "Bringing us closer to each other is our common commitment to the consolidation of collective and legal foundation of relationship between countries and the UN's central role in it."

Paul Goble reports:

The Russian Federation may soon become a full member of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) if proposed changes in that organizations charter are approved, a development that would entail profound consequences for the OIC, for Russian foreign policy and for Muslims inside the Russian Federation. At a meeting in Senegal this week of the foreign ministers of the OIC countries, that organization’s general secretary announced that member states have been asked to approve some radical changes in the organization’s institutional structure and requirements for membership . Under the new rules, the group, organized in 1972 and now including 57 Muslim-majority countries, would thus be open to states where Muslims are minorities, if two-thirds of the current countries approved. Among the first states in that category likely to be admitted, if these still controversial measures go through, is the Russian Federation.

Moscow has had observer status at the OIC since 2005, and two senior officials this week signaled that the Russian government would like to have still closer ties with the group. On the one hand, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov took part in the Dakar sessions. And on the other, Valery Blatov, spokesman for the Russian foreign ministry, said that Russia wants even closer ties with the OIC than it has now and has even included a section to that effect in its new concept paper on Russian foreign policy.

Many factors are currently pushing Russia in the direction of closer cooperation with the Muslim world in general and OIC in particular. First of all, both Moscow and the Muslim world now view the West as the enemy, and thus they have a vested interest in cooperating on the principle that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” Second, Russian leaders clearly see the declining fortunes of the United States in the Middle East in the wake of Iraq and Afghanistan as an opportunity to restore and even increase Russia’s influence in a region that ever more Russian commentators have identified as central to Russian geopolitical interests. And third, Russia itself has a growing Muslim population of its own. Demonstrating the Kremlin’s interest in ties with the larger Muslim world is thus politically useful domestically and even more a way to direct the actions of Russia’s Muslims toward foreign policy initiatives Moscow would like to see advanced. (For a useful survey of these and other factors currently pushing Moscow in the direction of expanded contacts with the Muslim world in general and the OIC in particular, see the 2500-word article devoted to this question with appended sources).

If the OIC does agree to include the Russian Federation as a member – and this step appears highly likely although not yet certain – that move will affect everyone involved. Most immediately, it will likely lead the OIC itself to be increasingly outspoken against the West. At the Dakar foreign ministers’ meeting, OIC members condemned “certain Western countries” but not Russia for failing to combat Islamophobia, even though few Western countries have as bad a track record in that regard as does Vladimir Putin’s regime.
At the same time, the inclusion of the Russian Federation as a member of the OIC and the possibilities that would offer for its foreign policy almost certainly would contribute to a further tilt in the direction of neo-Eurasianism, the view that Russia, as a special case, must combine Orthodox and Muslim values.

That could create some problems domestically among Russians who view this idea as a not so subtle attack on the centrality of the Orthodox Church or on Russia as a European country, and it would certainly exacerbate tensions with Western countries that would see such a Russian self-definition as fundamentally antagonistic to Western values. Perhaps the most paradoxical impact of Russian membership in the OIC, however, would be on that country’s more than 25 million Muslims. Most of the Faithful there would immediately and overwhelmingly welcome this step, seeing it as a confirmation that the Russian leadership views them as an important partner.
But at the same time, Russian membership would certainly lead many of Russia’s Muslims to demand better treatment and a larger place in Russian life because they would be able to argue that unless Moscow treats them well, it will find it difficult to advance its interests in the Islamic world. And consequently, what Moscow and the OIC states are almost certainly viewing exclusively as a foreign policy question likely would have an answer whose domestic consequences inside the Russian Federation almost certainly would be far greater, all the more so for being unrecognized and unplanned.


Anonymous said...

ROFLMAO!!!! Putin is getting in bed with the soon before he has to be on his knees. Guess Medvedev's pillow talk got too boring. Ha Ha Ha! Hope the ladies of Russia don't mind Sharia Law...hey, Putin can bring back the old idea of the terem. Lol! And everyone is shocked by Eliot Spitser's(sp) tryst! Oh man this is gonna be something to watch. What won't Putin do for power. What an IDIOT!

And if anyone views this post as anti-islamic; I suggest they listen to the rhetoric, etc...that is espoused by many of these countries in this group. Anti-western, anti-christain (so much for shared values), pro-global domination, anti-American, Anti-Israeli, Anti-Jewish, Terror toleration, anti-female, etc....

Yupper! Looks like Putin really wants Russia to return to the Dark Ages.

One last thought: If Putin is trying to gain a foothold with this group, what was his problem with Chechnya. I am afraid this type of move will only add hate fuel of the skin-head, Nazi-Nashi's types and lead to some undesirable consequences for those muslims living in Russia (Moscow) who wish to live their religion in a peaceful manner.

Anonymous said...

Brilliant foreign policy maximizing their common goals of:
1. sovereignity - neutralize Anglo-American aggression.
2. maximize resources for the benefit of their people

This will allow Moscow privileged access to the world economys lifeline. Meking the position of Anglo-American alliance tenous at best - hanging by a thread? Putin is possibly the most competent leader of any country in recent history, quickly reversing the balance of power favor of Russia seeming effortlessly.

La Russophobe said...

Many said the same about Hitler and Stalin. But soon, their regimes utterly ceased to exist.

The world waits to see whether Russia will become China or Iran, perhaps both.