A suicide bomb attack in the capital of Chechnya on Sunday seems to have been aimed at undermining Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov’s claims to have brought the insurgency under control. Desperate to convince Moscow that he can be a conciliator as well as a fighter, Kadyrov has opened talks with exiled rebel leader Akhmed Zakayev. But the insurgents in the mountains appear determined to keep fighting.
It is no secret that Zakayev has little influence on the insurgents on the ground. “The Republic of Ichkeria that Zakayev claims to represent is a myth, and the insurgents on the ground understand this very well” said Alexei Mukhin, director of the Moscw-based Center for Political Information. Kavkaz Center, which backs rebel leader Dokka Umarov, disparagingly refers to Zakayev as the the head of a “telephone government.”
By appearing to surrender to a fellow Chechen, rather than Moscow, Zakayev saves some kind of face. This makes the prospect of an understanding between the two men far from impossible. If a deal does materialize, it will not, however, quell the current spate of violence. Kavkaz Center claimed that a squad of 20 suicide bombers had been formed in Chechnya. Since then there seem to have been two suicide attacks – on Yevkurov and the latest in Grozny. That would mean that there are 18 attacks still to come.
A Never-Ending War
Roland Oliphant, 29 July 2009