Saturday, September 27, 2008

Russia, the Mexican drug wars, and 9/11

Stratfor has a great article (you need to search for the title in Google and access it through there to see the whole article) on Russia's propensity to reestablish contact with the Soviet Union's old proxy groups, and begin to assert itself abroad more. The article discusses here ways that Russia might try to meddle with the US in the Western hemisphere:

There is also a distinct possibility that through their relationship with the FARC, the Russians could gain entree to open a dialogue with some of the more radical elements of the Latin American drug trafficking organizations, including the hyperviolent Mexican cartels. Even Central American drug trafficking groups like Los Kaibiles, who began life strongly anti-communist, might be willing to accept weapons and funding from “democratic” Russians. Considering that Los Kaibiles are now quite mercenary, they also just might be willing to undertake specific attacks if their price point is met. Many Russian organized criminal groups are closely linked to the Kremlin and are a tool Putin and company are already using. These groups could be used to act as an interface with organized criminal groups elsewhere.

The most interesting possibility to me is Russia fanning the flames of Mexico's drug wars. If the killings started bleeding over more into the US, and the political pressure to seal up the border or even send troops into Mexico got too hot, I can see the US doing something that would isolate it internationally, and generally harm its ability to deal with Russia. A little odd that Stratfor never mentions that the problem could be dealt with in one fell swoop by legalizing the drugs that generate the black market profits that allow the violence to continue.

Though I was disappointed that the article failed to mention what could be Russia's biggest foray back into the Soviet-sponsored terrorism that marked the Cold War: Ayman al-Zawahiri and al-Qaeda.

I think it's becoming more and more obvious that all of these people at Georgetown getting Security Studies degrees and studying al-Qaeda are on the absolute wrong track. The Cold War never ended for Russia – if al-Zawahiri is indeed under Soviet influence, it means that their contact with him after the collapse Soviet Union dates back as early as 1996. Though if al-Zawahiri is an FSB agent, he was probably a KGB agent too – it would explain perfectly why al-Zawahiri tried to get bin Laden and his number two at the time, Sheikh Azzam, to turn away from the Russians and focus on fighting the Americans. When he didn't get his way, he assassinated Azzam and became bin Laden's new second-in-command at the tail end of the '80s. This, unfortunately for the KGB, coincided with the turmoil of the collapse of the USSR, which explains the gap between when al-Zawahiri gained influence over bin Laden (right after the assassination) and when al-Zawahiri started really collaborating with bin Laden to commit attacks against the West rather than the Soviet Union and apostate Muslim countries (right after his release from "prison" in Russia in 1997).

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