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The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
July 30, 2016

Publication: Windows on Eurasia
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The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Has There Been an ‘Islamization of Radicalism’ Rather than a ‘Radicalization of Islam’?
Staunton, VA, July 30, 2016 -  A Russian commentator argues that it may be more useful to speak about “the Islamization of radicalism” rather than about “the radicalization of Islam” as is usually done and to examine more critically the idea that the era into which the world has entered is one characterized by a clash of civilizations defined increasingly in religious terms.

In a commentary on Snob.ru, Vladimir Malakhov says that all too many people are prepared to accept the idea that what is happening is “a war of religions” and are generally unwilling to consider any criticism of this highly simplified view of what is taking place.

At the end of the 20th century, he says, “supporters of the revolutionary transformation of the world grouped themselves under red banners; now at the start of the 21st, they do so under green ones.” Thus, Malakhov argues, “radical Islamism plays in our days approximately the same role which radical Marxism played in the 1970s.”

At that point in time, “all kinds of ‘red brigades’ terrorized the Western public because they considered that this was the only way to overthrow capitalism. Now this function has passed to the jihadists, who declare as their enemy not only a specific kind of social order but the entire Western world as such.”

And because there will always be found people within the West “who want to settle accounts with it, the ranks of the warriors of jihad never will remain without new recruits.” And such radicals will find Islamism because they see it as the embodiment of radicalism even before radical Islam finds them.

“Today’s terror has largely although not exclusively an Islamist underpinning. But it would be inexact to declare this to be the radicalization of Islam. Rather, one should speak about the Islamization of radicalism,” the latest slogan for those who for their own reasons want to challenge the Western order.

In support of his argument, Malakhov begins by observing that “religions do not fight with one another.” Instead, “people who make of religion this or that political use do.” The current upsurge in terrorist acts shows this: many radicals with little justification claim to act in the name of Islam or the Islamic State.

In considering each case, one cannot be certain just how direct a connection there is between the horrific actions of ISIS in the Middle East and any particular terrorist outburst in the West. Instead, he says, it appears that there are “two parallel processes” going on, both of which deserve to be taken into consideration.

“On the one hand,” he writes, “the Islamist terrorist underground” is obviously involved in some of these horrific events. But “on the other,” one can see “the self-indoctrination of individuals who for biographic reasons begin to imagine themselves to be soldiers of a global jihad.”

This phenomenon, he argues, represents “something truly new,” because it means that almost anyone with a highly developed sense of grievance regardless of background may choose to ally himself or herself with Islamism just as many of the same kind of people did with the Red Brigades two generations ago.

But this “innovation” has another and more serious consequence, Malakhov says. It reduces to “nothing” the ability of nation states to control their own populations even on their own territory because in today’s globalized environment such borders are meaningless for radicals of all stripes.
The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Kyiv Should Not Give Agrément to Moscow’s Proposed Ambassador, Ogryzko Says

Staunton, VA, July 30, 2016 - When one government wants to send a new ambassador to another country, it requests what is called agrément from the government of that country, a process by which the government of the latter has a chance to weigh in on the individual the sending country would like to dispatch.


That often introduces delays in the appointment of ambassadors, but it has a great advantage in that it not only reinforces the idea that the two governments are dealing with each on at least in principle on the level of equality but also blocks the appointment of individuals whose careers suggest they will be incapable of working with the host government.

Sometimes governments ignore this requirement of diplomatic life because they have such power over the country to which they are making an appointment that they don’t have to care what the host nation thinks. That was the case with the Soviet regime in naming ambassadors to bloc countries, most of whom were party officials rather than diplomats.

But sometimes, governments do it in a “hybrid” way. That is, they have their parliaments approve someone as ambassador even before the host country has had the chance to give or withhold agrément. That is what the Putin regime is trying to do now with regard to an appointment of its ambassador to Kyiv.

For that reason and many others, former Ukrainian foreign minister Vladimir Ogryzko says in his view Kyiv should refuse to give its blessing because “the presence or absence of an ambassador of Russia in Ukraine will change nothing” and the Kremlin’s candidate is both “strange” and unacceptable.

Mikhail Babich, the man Moscow wants to send to Kyiv, “has never worked in diplomatic posts,” Delovaya Stolitsa points out. He served instead in the KGB forces, headed state enterprises in Russian regions and was head of government in Chechnya before Ramzan Kadyrov. For the last five years, he has been plenipotentiary in the Volga Federal District.

The way in which Moscow is acting clearly is designed to present Kyiv with a fait accompli, but Ogryzko points out that Kyiv doesn’t have to accept this obvious denigration of Ukraine’s status as an independent country.

What matters more, the Ukrainian diplomat says, is that “in general nothing depends on who is the ambassador of the Russian Federation in Ukraine. Whatever status the diplomatic representation of Russia in Ukraine has, all decisions relative to the relationship between Ukraine and Russia are taken by one man, Vladimir Putin.”

Thus, he continues, “the presence or absence of a Russian ambassador in Ukraine changes nothing.” Indeed, Ogryzko says,, “diplomatic relations with the Russian Federation are nonsensical. That country annexed part of Ukraine and has attacked another part … If this depended on me,” he says, “there wouldn’t be diplomatic relations” between Moscow and Kyiv.

But it is important to remember why Moscow is doing this: it is trying to provoke Kyiv into rejecting its candidate so that the Russian authorities can launch a new propaganda barrage denouncing Ukraine for failing to be cooperative, even though the cooperation they want is one of the victim of aggression with the aggressor.

Regardless of who the Russian ambassador it, “the Russian embassy [in Kyiv] has been [and will be] a center of the Russian special services,” who occupy about “60 to 70 percent” of the jobs there. No diplomat should be talking to these people as if they were diplomats, Ogryzko says.

This case reflects a deeper problem: “Russia has never considered Ukraine a separate and independent state! Therefore it sends not ambassadors but ‘deciders,’” regardless of their background. That has to change if things are to move forward in a positive way; agreeing to Moscow’s candidate won’t help that.

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