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Kadyrov is All Over the Middle East

Kadyrov is All Over the Middle East

I came across Ramzan Kadyrov, the Head of the Chechen Republic in the Instagram account of Bahrain’s sports-loving price Nasser Hamad.

Kadyrov was in Bahrain holding talks with the members of the Khalifa family. Nasser Hamad is a proud triathlete, and we all know Kadyrov’s love for martial arts, so I wondered if this visit was concerning sports, but turns out it was not.

You can follow the world leaders’ meetings with each other on Instagram now. Kadyrov, soon thereafter, appeared in Saudi Arabia. He was pampered during his visit there, holding talks with the royal family.

Then we saw him in Iraq successfully negotiating for the return of Russian prisoners held in Iraq back to Russia. There were many Chechen-Russian fighters in ISIS, and Kadyrov promised to bring those people back to Russia.
Back in 2015 when Russia first intervened in Syria, Vladimir Putin asked that the Russian-Muslim leaders condemn Islamic extremism stating that “these people’s ideologies are based on lies.” Russia, who already has a large Muslim population declared war against Salafism.

Russian Islam

Chechen Republic held an international Islamic Conference in 2016. Most of the scholars that attended the conference were from Egypt and the UAE, and they all seemed to directly target Salafism.

Chechen Republic is a semi-autonomous region within Russia. The gang headed by Kadyrov’s father initially stood against Russians during the uprising, but soon changed sides and started to fight against other Chechen rebel groups alongside Russia. So, we may consider Kadyrov who is a Sufi as Putin’s ambassador in the Middle East.

We may deduce from the current outlook that Putin has some plans brewing involving Kadyrov and the region. The conferences held in Chechen Republic, and Putin’s statements against Salafism are all pointing towards a wave of moderate Islam.

USA has long been the champion of promoting moderate Islam in the region, but almost all of their efforts in this regard turned out to be disasters. Now, we may anticipate a new wave of moderate Islam to take root in the region by Kadyrov the Sufi that is backed by Putin.
The Moderate Islam propagated by the US has changed the politics in Turkey completely. We have transformed from a so-so democracy to an autocracy. We’ll have to wait and see how this new wave of moderate Islam affects Turkey.

FSA Flag in Taksim

Of course, there is the issue of what to do with all the extremists left behind. This is the top issue in Syria nowadays, but it is something that we, in Turkey, are not talking about at all.

This brings us to the Free Syrian Army flag opened in Taksim during NYE celebrations. Turkey has been a patron of FSA who are clearly Salafists even if they don’t openly proclaim it. As Assad, with Russia’s help, is gaining ground, what will happen with the extremist groups such as FSA? What are Turkey’s plans here?

Once the war is over, where will those legions who were protected by Turkey during all this time continue to live?

Under the “new-normal” of Turkey, Taksim has been a heavily policed area where no gatherings are allowed. Still, the FSA supporters were freely let to celebrate with Turkish police simply watching, and this alone should provide the answer the question.

Originally published in Turkish @

About The Author

Nevsin Mengu

Born in Ankara in 1982. Studied Political Science at University of Bilkent. Did her masters on Sociology at University of Galatasaray. Worked at several news outlets like Haberturk and Hurriyet. Mostly covered Middle East as a correspondent. From 2009 to 2010, worked for TRT TURK in Tehran. From 2011 until 2017, anchored CNNTURK 18 o’clock news. Now writing opinion pieces for Birgün newspaper and doing weekly interviews for Deutsche Welle.

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