Terrorist massacre in Russia: capitalism sinks ever deeper into chaos!

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On the back of the 800 civilians and 300 Israeli soldiers killed in the Hamas raid on Israel on October 7, a new round of barbarism has led to 150 being shot dead and 300 wounded, some with knives, by an Islamic State (IS) commando unit that attacked a rock concert on the outskirts of Moscow on March 25. In between these two tragic events, the horrors of the Israeli offensive in Gaza and the intensification of the bloody war between Russia and Ukraine has sent a constant stream of innocent people to their graves with entire towns razed to the ground. In Gaza there are now more than 32,000 predominantly civilian deaths, which includes more than 13,000 children. And the deadly combination of constant bombing, growing famine and the spread of epidemics among a population literally on its last legs will only add to the death toll. At the same time the intensification of the war in Ukraine has meant that the two-year death toll of the conflict is now alarmingly at least 500,000 deaths, without counting the civilian victims and the ruins and desolation inflicted across many parts of Ukraine, or the threat to the Russian city of Belgorod, regularly bombarded by Ukrainian artillery, and to Moscow itself and other parts of Russia.

Since the collapse of the Eastern bloc and the dissolution of the Western bloc in 1990, the wars intrinsic to decadent capitalism are no longer symptomatic of the tensions between two rival imperialist blocs and the discipline they exercise. They increasingly obey the logic of every man for himself and of generalised chaos. The current world situation provides a graphic illustration of this tendency insofar as one country, Russia, is now at war with two adversaries, namely Ukraine and the Islamic State, who have not entered into an alliance with each other.

Behind the monstrosity of the Moscow attack lies the gravity of the global situation. By inciting Russia to invade Ukraine in order to weaken it through the ensuing conflict, the United States did not wish to cause its collapse, with all the immense risks that a break-up of the Russian Federation would entail. Nonetheless, this has now become a serious risk.

Chaos on the borders of Russia

The IS, the butcher of the attack on the outskirts of Moscow, is also emblematic of the trend towards widespread chaos. Increasingly, sinister militias are taking part in imperialist conflicts, seeking to impose their rule through terror and sometimes by killing each other, nearly always under the banner of religious fundamentalism, like Al Qaeda, Hezbollah,...

The Islamic State in Khorassan (IS-K), which claimed responsibility for the attack in Moscow, is an Afghan branch of the terrorist group. It broadcast its responsibility, accompanied with a video showing its four assailants in action. There can be no doubt about the significance of this barbaric act, which is also an act of war and not without antecedents in Russia. On 31 December 2018, a building in a town in the Urals had already been bombed, killing 39 people. A few hours later, the town was the scene of an armed confrontation. IS-K had recently demonstrated its "military" capabilities, as it was behind the attack in Iran on January 3 that killed almost ninety people. Its members, who carry out particularly brutal attacks in Afghanistan against girls' schools and hospitals, are now even in open combat with the Taliban.

The rivalry between IS-K and Moscow is the result of Russia's weakening position on its borders, which has allowed the terrorist group to infiltrate the former Soviet republics of Central Asia (Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan, from where the perpetrators of the attack originated) and certain autonomous republics of the Russian Federation itself. The rapprochement between Moscow and the Taliban is explained by Russia's need to defend its influence in the region. But for Russia it also means opening up a second military front at a time when it is exhausted in an interminable war in Ukraine.

Great problems ahead for Putin and Russia

Putin's handling of the terrorist attack in Moscow is bound to weaken his credibility. His initial reaction of attributing direct or indirect responsibility to Ukraine was grotesque, when everything pointed to IS as the culprit, with the United States having previously warned various countries, including Russia, they might be targeted by terrorist attacks. When he realised his mistake, Putin added to the farce by declaring that there was still some doubt as to who was behind the attack. It was then that the IS's claim of responsibility for the attack put the nail in Putin's coffin. He could do nothing but keep a low profile, especially as there was a precedent to support the plausibility of the warning transmitted by the American intelligence services.

Indeed, this terrorist attack could hardly have come as a surprise to the Kremlin, given that " Vladimir Putin had already expressed alarm on 15 October 2021 about 'the ambitions and strengths of the Islamic State jihadist group in Afghanistan', stressing the 'combat experience' acquired by its members in Iraq and Syria ". Putin, questioning the ability of the Afghan Taliban to defeat these armed groups, said at the time that " the leaders of the Islamic State are preparing plans to extend their influence in the countries of Central Asia and the Russian regions by stirring up ethno-religious conflicts and religious hatred ". (1) What's more, IS-K had already organised an attack on the Russian embassy in Kabul in September 2022. Putin has thus just committed a huge faux pas, which will certainly not go unnoticed at a time when he is launching a spring conscription campaign, to draft 150,000 people for compulsory military service: in short, a campaign to requisition cannon fodder for the war. This miscalculation can only undermine his authority and legitimacy in the face of his rivals.

As the war continues to weaken the Kremlin's authority, the danger of a pure and simple break-up of the Russian Federation is growing. At the forefront of the consequences of such a break-up would be the spread of the nuclear arsenal among different warlords with their own uncontrollable ambitions. It would also represent a formidable headlong rush into chaos, in the heart of a region that is particularly strategic for the world economy (raw materials, transport, etc.). So far from benefiting any one belligerent, this new hotbed of war could have dramatic consequences for an entire region of the world.

Fern, 3 April 2024


1 "Attentat près de Moscou : l'Asie centrale, nouvelle tête de pont de l'organisation État islamique", Le Monde (25 March 2024).



War in decomposing capitalism