Two Items of Note

by Joshua Foust on 8/24/2010 · 3 comments

I wrote a summary of the issues Uighurs face in China, and how that affects the regional security setting, for PBS this week.

This latest bombing in Aksu is, in many ways, another symptom of China’s dysfunctional relationship with Xinjiang and the Uighurs who live there. According to Chinese sources, the attack targeted a man leading a group of public security officials into an inspection of a majority Uighur area of the city. It’s possible that this was a terrorist attack, in the sense of being violence against civilians meant to affect some political change. It bears a striking resemblance to a similar attack on Chinese policemen in 2008 in the city of Kashgar, near the border with Afghanistan, which could mean there is a a growing pattern of violence against Chinese police officers in Xinjiang. But it’s equally likely that this was, in effect, the killing of a “snitch” (or maybe a race traitor) in retaliation for cooperating with the Chinese authorities.

I’m not certain I got the nuance there right—fire away in the comments!

Secondly, Liz Fuller has a great report on Magomedali Vagabov, who Russian authorities killed in retaliation for the Moscow subway bombings earlier this year.

Vagabov’s name has never been mentioned before in connection with Umarov’s disavowal of his status as president of the Chechen Republic Ichkeria and simultaneous proclamation of the Caucasus Emirate. It is generally believed that radical Chechen ideologue Movladi Udugov pressured Umarov into making that decision.

It is only in late 2008 that Vagabov’s name began to figure regularly in reports in the Russian-language Daghestani weekly “Chernovik” of attacks on police and security officials by Vagabov’s Gubden jamaat. By then he had apparently made up for his previous lack of experience as a military commander. In July 2009, an unnamed Federal Security Service (FSB) source told “Chernovik” that “Vagabov himself doesn’t leave the forest even though he has a well-trained unit with professional weapons, including some mercenaries from abroad. He recruits young people, training them in the forest ideologically and in sabotage and subversion, then sends them into the city [Makhachkala]. When they’re destroyed, he recruits new fighters from among the relatives and friends of those killed.”

It’s a really interesting story, one that helps demonstrate that most of what I do is summarize the really impressive work of others.


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This post was written by...

– author of 1848 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Joshua Foust is a Fellow at the American Security Project and the author of Afghanistan Journal: Selections from Registan.net. His research focuses primarily on Central and South Asia. Joshua is a correspondent for The Atlantic and a columnist for PBS Need to Know. Joshua appears regularly on the BBC World News, Aljazeera, and international public radio. Joshua's writing has appeared in the Columbia Journalism Review, Foreign Policy’s AfPak Channel, the New York Times, Reuters, and the Christian Science Monitor. Follow him on twitter: @joshuafoust

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{ 3 comments }

steve August 25, 2010 at 10:46 pm

ah yes, but summarizing the really impressive work of others is a talent all its own.

Caomengde August 26, 2010 at 3:05 pm

“Xinjiang is home to the Uighurs, an ethnicity that has chafed, sometimes violently, against Beijing’s rule”

I didn’t know that an entire ethnicity could chafe. Show how little I know. Kinda like 1992 LA riot demonstrated that Blacks, an minority that has chafed, sometimes violently, against Washington’s rule. Hmm… I wonder if I could get a job writing for People’s Daily.

Caomengde August 26, 2010 at 3:16 pm

Okay I finally finished the PBS piece. I must say I am overwhelmed by this gem of wisdom:

“At the same time, the Uighurs are not some Borg-like unified political class.”

Thank you Joshua Foust for making my day : )

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