Beslan again proves the need to fight terrorism worldwide

Posted: Thursday, September 09, 2004

The bloody outcome of the hostage crisis in Beslan, North Ossetia, has united not only Russia but the entire free world in grief. ... The horrific tragedy should leave no doubts even among "human rights" do-gooders about the savage nature of Chechnya's so-called "war of independence."

Its wagers, like their atavistic kin elsewhere, proved the enemies of civilization the day they made bloodletting a rite of passage towards perverted ends. ... When children are not merely caught in crossfires, when they are coldly and consciously made to go as lambs to slaughter, it is an outrage against humanity. ... In the past few years, Russia has suffered as much as India in terms of loss of life owing to terrorist depredations.

... Chechen "separatism" has a Kashmiri cousin. Both secessionist 'movements' stand hijacked by foreign elements. The latter have been spreading their tentacles via co-option of localized strife, in depraved pursuit of ''world domination'' through regional destabilization. Nine ultras liquidated in Beslan were West Asian ... .

... Russians seem to have a false sense of security about the remoteness of terror, seen as afflicting Chechnya alone. The Moscow theatre strike in 2002 should have put paid to this illusion. Beslan itself followed the downing of two airliners and a suicide blast in Moscow. Though President Vladimir Putin's iron will to crush insurgency has never been doubted, Russia's anti-terror campaign appears reactive rather than proactive, hitting out only after the tragic event. ... It demands a sense of urgency, flowing from popular mobilization and preparedness.

... Russia must have the wherewithal to anticipate sneak attacks, and could learn from India in this regard. Finally, the world must stand by it as solidly as for post-9/11 America. ...

Pioneer, New Delhi, India

Sept. 6

... Vladimir Putin's refusal to negotiate with Chechen separatists ... will find a broad echo among Russians. Hatred of the Chechens was strong enough before last week. Beslan will have intensified it and thereby further legitimized Mr. Putin's refusal to compromise.

... However, on solving the Chechen problem, Mr. Putin seems to have run out of options. He has tried the military one in the shape of a second war, which gave the Kremlin control of the plain, but left the population largely disaffected. He has embarked on the political one through Chechenisation, but that was probably given the coup de grce in May by the assassination of Akhmad Kadyrov, the Kremlin's protg. By treating all separatists as beyond the pale, the president has boxed himself into a corner in which political legitimacy is spuriously claimed through rigged elections.

... Given the deep-seated corruption of the Russian security forces and bureaucracy, this is unlikely to be the last incident of its kind.

With each new terrorist attack, Mr. Putin's reputation as the strongman who can sort out Chechnya will suffer. At the moment, he is riding on a wave of sympathy for the dead and grieving in North Ossetia. But questions are being asked about his handling of the siege, both within Russia and abroad, notably from the Dutch presidency of the European Union and Jean-Pierre Raffarin, the French prime minister. Having propelled Mr. Putin to power, Chechnya has become a wasting asset.

Daily Telegraph, London

Sept. 8

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