Russia thought it had tamed the Muslim regions on its southern flank when it quelled a rebellion in Chechnya, but trouble is brewing again.
Barely noticed by the outside world, increasing violence and clashes between federal forces and rebels in Ingushetia, just west of Chechnya, threaten to destabilise the north Caucasus.
Ninety-three people were killed in clashes in the year to the end of August, the local branch of human rights group Memorial says -- a big death toll for a region with a population of only 470,000
If you think we are averse to to using militant Islamists for our own aims you just haven't been paying attention the last 30 years.
As Stratfor noted in its latest weekly Intelligence Guidance:
A civil war in Chechnya is building up between the Kadyrov and Yamadayev factions. We need to see if the Kremlin can clamp down on this quickly enough to prevent another full-blown Chechen war and to prevent outside powers from jumping into the fray. If a war does erupt, what's the potential for it to spread to Dagestan, Ingushetia and Georgia in the northern Caucasus? Most importantly, will the United States see instability in Chechnya as an opportunity to tie Russia's hands? We need to look for signs of U.S., as well as Saudi, involvement in Chechnya. The Kremlin will be moving quickly to try to lock the situation down.
Two can play the game the Russians are playing, and the US by 'possibly' bringing Dagestan and Ingushetia into the 'Kavkaz mix' makes life miserable for Putin and Medvedev in Moscow, believe me.
Nota bene: This is just analysis. I am not saying it is morally right or morally wrong. I'm just simply pointing out what might be. Are we clear on that?