The Unholy Alliance
Putin stated at the conference in Kuala Lumpur in 10/03
"Russian Muslims are an inseparable, full-fledged, and active part of the multiethnic and multidenominational nation of Russia. Russia, as a unique Eurasian power, has always played a special role in building relations between East and West. I am convinced that our actions within the framework of the OIC can today become an important element of a just and secure world,"
Putin also called for an increased UN presence in the region (which is the opposite of what he did in Chechnya)
"Like most Islamic states represented here, Russia defends the strengthening of international law, for a central coordinating role for the United Nations to solve international problems,".
With Putin at the OIC was the newly "elected" president of Chechnya (later killed in bomb attack). The OIC and the Arab League were the only organizations to back this sham election but it allowed Putin to claim Chechnya was under the leadership of a democratically elected Muslim President
Russia’s recent efforts to make nice with Islamic despots appears to be a new direction for dealing with the Islamism threat. Having identified Saudi Arabia as the key, diplomatic exchanges between Russia and the Kingdom intensified over the last year. Russia and Saudi Arabia don't have the best history with Saudi Arabia financing rebels in Afghanistan in the 80's and Chechnya in the 90's. Putin may have seen a relationship with the Saudi's as a way to starve the Chechen rebels of funding while Saudi Arabia can make a claim its no longer sponsoring Islamic insurgents to the U.S. If Saudi Arabia sends its money to Putin's hand picked Chechen President instead of the rebels maybe Russia would join the Saudi's in regulation of oil prices and production. Its too bad private firms control most of Russia’s petroleum industry, OOPS not anymore with the head of Yukos (Mikhail Khodorkovsky) jailed on trumped up tax evasions charges. Putin is also helping the Iranian nuclear program with hopes that Teheran's support for Muslim insurgencies won't include Russia. If Russia and the Saudi's, the worlds two biggest oil producers, team up to control the oil market it can only lead to greater leverage against the U.S. and the EU especially since we were hoping to use Russia against OPEC. This makes the success or failure of Iraq that much more important in the coming years while I'm sure they will sell us their oil the Russia/Saudi alliance will have a greater influence in the middle east than the U.S.