Monday, December 30, 2013

Can Russia assure peace and security at Sochi Olympics without outside help? Doubtful!

With a second bombing in two days, in Russia, carried out by terrorists who seek to establish an Islamic state in the North Caucusus, a string of provinces near Volgograd, Russia and the world are facing a security problem with the Olympics only a few weeks away.
Naturally and predictably, the IOC declares confidence that the Russian authorities will provide adequate security for the athletes and spectators to the Olympic Games in Sochi; however, if I had purchased tickets for travel to Russia and for admission into the various events, I would be re-considering the trip.
The people behind these bombings are publicly declaring their wish to disrupt the games, to the point where they are actually unable to be held. The people behind these bombings are not interested in anything except their own political/religious agenda, and their determination cannot be discounted, nor can their cunning and their resourcefulness.
Giving Putin a black eye, on the world stage, is only a means to achieving their objective. It is an important step, however, as was the terror inflicted by Chechyan rebels at the finish line of the Boston Marathon last summer. Similar motives were at the root of both the current bombings in Volgogard and those in Boston.
Unfortunately especially for those hundreds of athletes whose lives have been dedicated for years to their pursuit of "Gold" on an Olympic podium, it seems more and more possible that the games will be disrupted, if not actually cancelled. Such a prospect would, if nothing else, give the terrorists precisely what they want, huge headlines, and major disruptions to the "western" way of life that includes the best of what humans can and do offer in sportsmanship, training, and disciplined commitment, not to mention the integration of multiple ethnicities in a common pursuit of excellence, another role model for the youth of the world.
Tragically, the terrorists are either unwilling or unable, or both, to see the monumental benefits of a world collaborating to the degree resources permit, in an event that speaks to a historic heritage and to a future in which differences can be set aside in order to participate in both individual and national competitions on a stage big enough to include all faith communities, all languages, all ethnicities and all political ideologies. Their hubris blinds them to the larger and mutually shared goal of peaceful co-existence. And their hubris is nothing more or less than their blind, fanatical and unshakeable perversion of a religion, practiced around the globe, known as Islam. They are blackening the eye of all of Islam, in their zealous pursuit of their political/religious agenda, and their capacity to wreak havoc threatens all of us, especially those who have not and will not convert to Islam.
The more I see from the terrorists, including their disdain for the lives of innocent human beings, their willingness to sacrifice themselves for some abstract and hopefully unattainable political goal, and their insensitivity to the damage and danger they inflict on people everywhere, in the name of Allah, the more I believe that their insurgent cancer has to be removed through means that I never would have considered ethical prior to their invasion of the world's neighbourhoods and communities.
And, like most, I suggest that no individual country's security establishment is single handedly capable of suppressing and certainly not of removing this blight on the human landscape, and that includes Putin's Russia. He will have to call for help from all countries participating in the athletic competitions, to provide security support, if these games are to be carried out in peace, in relative security and in some semblance of predictability. And those nations on whom he calls will have to provide whatever supporting resources Russia needs, in what one can only hope will be a beginning of a collaborative effort to bring this monster to "heel."

By Maria Tsvetkova, Reuters, December 30, 2013
A bomb blast ripped a trolleybus apart in Volgograd on Monday, killing 14 people in the second deadly attack in the southern city in two days and raising fears of further violence as Russia prepares to host the Winter Olympics.
The morning rush-hour bombing, which left mangled bodies in the street, underscored Russia's vulnerability to militant attacks less than six weeks before the Sochi 2014 Games, a prestige project for President Vladimir Putin.
Sunday's blast came less than 24 hours after a suicide bomb blast killed at least 17 people in the main railway station in the same city, a major transport hub in southern Russia.
A Reuters journalist saw the blue-and-white trolleybus reduced to a twisted, gutted carcass, its roof blown off and bodies and debris strewn across the street. Federal investigators called the blast a "terrorist act".
"For the second day, we are dying. It's a nightmare," a woman near the scene said, her voice trembling as she choked back tears. "What are we supposed to do, just walk now?"
The consecutive attacks will raise fears of a concerted campaign of violence before the Olympics, which start on Feb. 7 in Sochi, about 430 miles (690 km) southwest of Volgograd.
In a video posted on the web in July, the leader of insurgents who want to carve an Islamic state out of the North Caucasus, a string of Muslim provinces south of Volgograd, urged militants to use "maximum force" to prevent the games from being held.
"Terrorists in Volgograd aim to terrorise others around the world, making them stay away from the Sochi Olympics," said Dmitry Trenin, an analyst with the Moscow Carnegie Centre.
A female suicide bomber from the North Caucasus killed seven people on a bus in Volgograd in October.
A spokeswoman for the International Olympic Committee in Lausanne, Switzerland, said: "Our condolences go to all those affected by today's bombing in Volgograd. Unfortunately, terrorism is a global phenomenon and no region is exempt, which is why security at the Games is a top priority for the IOC. At the Olympics, security is the responsibility of the local authorities, and we have no doubt that the Russian authorities will be up to the task."

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