Russia Courts the Muslim World

[Le Monde Diplomatique-France] Jacques Levesque - Vladimir Putin was the first head of a non-Muslim majority state to speak at the Organization of the Islamic Conference in 2003. Putin stressed that 15% of the population of the Russian Federation are Muslim, as are all the inhabitants of 8 of its 21 autonomous republics, and Russia won observer member status thanks to support from Saudi Arabia and Iran. Since then, Putin and other Russian leaders claim that Russia "is, to some extent, a part of the Muslim world." Before 9/11, Putin called Chechen rebels "Muslim fundamentalist terrorists"; now he avoids any reference to Islam. Since Russia's foreign policy aim is to "reinforce multipolarity in the world" and develop poles of resistance to U.S. hegemony and unilateralism, this means taking advantage of the hostility to U.S. foreign policy in the Arab and Muslim world.

2008-12-10 08:00:00

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