The Caucasus, a headache for Moscow


The region with its Muslim majority, high level of unemployment and numerous former fighters is the perfect place to recruit jihadi warriors.

In Russia, the word “Caucasus” lacks appeal. It refers to one of the poorer parts of the country, historically organised along tribal lines and torn by multiple internal conflicts. People tend to leave the Caucasus. Some go to study or work in Moscow, many more emigrate for good to Europe, and a feared minority leaves for Syria to fight in the holy war. The Caucasus is a region with a majority-Muslim population, but the deeper reason that jihadi recruiters can’t wait to target it is the region’s plethora of former soldiers and a high unemployment rate. The recipes for stifling extremism vary from one republic to the next. In the most famous, Chechnya, the war on “bandits”, as described by Russian leaders, literally razed Grozny to the ground.

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