Baku. 7 January. REPORT.AZ/ The South Caucasus has been a culturally, economically, and militarily important regional crossroads for centuries.
Report informs, an article published by The Heritage says.
"The Islamist insurgency in the North Caucasus threatens to turn the region into a haven for international terrorism and to destabilize the entire area, which is a critical hub of oil and gas pipelines located at Europe’s doorstep", says the article.
According to the authors, neither Russia’s excessive use of military force nor its massive economic aid to the region appear to have helped quell the threat of terrorism.
The article notes that some estimates claim there are as many as 3,000 Chechens fighting for the Islamic State.
Perhaps the most well-known Islamic State fighter from the Caucasus is Tarkhan Batirashvili, who goes by thenom de guerre Abu Omar al-Shishani - “Omar the Chechen.” After a stint in the Georgian army he now serves as an Islamic State senior commander with authority over Aleppo, Raqqa, Latakia, and northern Idlib provinces in Syria."
"The South Caucasus is increasingly becoming a recruiting ground and transit route for fighters heading to Syria," the article says.
According to the authors, visa-free travel, cheap transit costs, and shared land borders between Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkey make getting to Iraq and Syria relatively easy.
The article notes that, Georgia, which borders Chechnya and Dagestan, two extremist hotbeds in southern Russia, serves as a major transit country for fighters headed to Syria and Iraq. Georgia also has a land border with Turkey, another major transit country for fighters entering Iraq and Syria. According to the authors, the number of Georgians fighting for the Islamic State is around 100.