OPINION – Rule of law best way to battle terror
About 12 feet from where I write this, she sat in my office explaining patiently the tragedy of Chechnya. That was 2001.
Anna Politkovskaya, fearless journalist, had just published A Dirty War, cataloguing the rape, torture and killing of 200,000 Chechens in two Russian invasions.
Upon her return to Moscow, she continued reporting other atrocities under president Vladimir Putin. She was harassed, beaten, arrested. In 2004, she was poisoned on a flight to Beslan; she survived. But in 2006, they gunned her down.
I thought of her the other day when another figure associated with Chechnya was shot dead in his Dubai exile. The man’s brother had already been killed in Moscow.
Both had been rivals of Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov, the Putin-picked warlord whose atrocities Anna had also exposed.
Another of Kadyrov’s rivals had been shot dead in Moscow in 2006, and a bodyguard in Vienna in January. In 2004, a former Chechen president was killed in Qatar.
Targeted assassinations, all – Russian style – against “terrorists” and troublemakers. Kadyrov did snuff out the insurgency – and the insurgents and the rule of law.
The West has been mostly silent. Not surprising, given our own not-so-sordid but still sorry record on related matters in recent years.Long before Israel – and the West, led by Canada – refused to recognize the victory of Hamas in an open and fair election, another country annulled the victory of an Islamist party at the polls.
That decision in 1992 by the Algerian military triggered a decade-long civil war in which about 150,000 people were killed.
Today, Algeria is relatively peaceful. There’s consensus in official circles that 1992 was a big mistake – not that they paid a huge price for subverting democracy but rather that it was wrong to have let the Islamists run in the first place.
So in 1996 they were banned under a constitutional amendment. In 1999, the army helped Abdelaziz Bouteflika, a former foreign minister, win the presidency in an election widely derided as a fraud.
The strongman was re-elected in 2004 with 83.5 per cent of the vote.
Last November, the constitution was amended yet again to allow him to run for a third term. On Thursday he was re-elected, of course.
“President for life,” jeered the Berber-dominated opposition, comparing him to Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak and Arab monarchs. But the West didn’t care. We like leaders who crush “Islamic terrorists.”
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