[Mike Honcho] This past week, the editorial board of the Caucasus Emirate asked the Chief of their Information and Analytical Service, Movladi Udugov to comment on the events in Georgia and the resulting challenges in relations between Russia and the West, as well as thoughts on the conflict from the leadership of the Emirate.
Udugov starts by stating that all sides in the conflict made serious miscalculations, with Georgia and the West making larger errors in judgment than the Russians. The West was fooled into thinking that because of its non-interference in matters concerning the Russian republics of the Northern Caucasus that Russia would not meddle in the affairs of the sovereign Southern Caucasus nations. Additionally, the West’s approval of the Russian campaign of terror against Muslims in the Northern Caucasus within the context of the “War on Islam,” combined with Russia’s newfound energy revenue, re-awakened the “imperial instinct” of Moscow’s leadership.
In fact, he claims the Chechen government (the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria at the time), warned Georgia and Azerbaijan in 1999 and 2000 that after Russia liquidated the sovereignty of Ichkeria, it will surely go after theirs. The Republics of the Northern Caucasus were a shield that protected Georgia and Azerbaijan. He also adds that the fighting by the mujahidin gave Baku and Tblisi time to strengthen their respective nations.
Georgia and Azerbaijan then showed their gratitude by initiating anti-Muslim and anti-mujahidin policies. Ugodov is particularly critical of Georgia and its treatment of Chechens in the Pankisi Gorge, where instead of granting the mujahidin refugee and a legalized status, Georgia forced them out. He strongly believes that without the withdrawal of Russian troops from lands of the Caucasus Emirate, the question of stability and security in the region will remain unsolved.
The conflict also demonstrated that the storming of Tskinvali on 8 August was unexpected by the Kremlin. However as a result of Russia’s overwhelming military response, NATO will speed up the process of naming Georgia and Ukraine members of the organization, an event which Moscow was seriously trying to prevent.
Towards the end of his statement, he summarizes with a list of conclusions:
1. The Western Alliance received a classic “Russian lesson:” you can’t trust any regime that occupies the Kremlin.
2. The configuration of forces and the political situation in the Caucasus has changed once more. The final arrangement of forces and political priorities for all participants of the conflict will become clearer in the near future.
3. Even with all of its blood lust and aggressiveness, Russia demonstrated weakness: they didn’t “ finish the enemy.”
4. The decisiveness and opportunism of Moscow will be directly proportional to the indecisiveness and alienation of the West.
5. There is no clear winner yet.
Document (Russian): 8-18-08 Kavkaz-Center-Udugov