Analysis: Anti-Jewish Riot in Russia’s Dagestan Shows Risks of Putin’s Balancing Act on Hamas Putin has for months played a risky geopolitical game, gambling on anti-Western distrust to shore up support for his war on Ukraine. But an anti-Jewish riot in the southern region of Dagestan shows how quickly that model can backfire. The recent anti-Jewish riot in Dagestan, a constituent republic of Russia, highlights the delicate balancing act that Russian President Vladimir Putin has been trying to maintain. Putin's engagement with Hamas, the militant Palestinian group, has raised concerns about his stance on Israel and the Jewish people. The riot took place in Kizlyar, a town in Dagestan, where angry protesters targeted a local synagogue. The violence escalated quickly, with the mob storming the synagogue and vandalizing the religious site. The incident was sparked by rumors that a Jewish man insulted Islam, leading to widespread anger and calls for revenge. This incident underscores the risks associated with Putin's approach to international relations and his support for groups like Hamas. While Putin may see collaboration with Hamas as a way to counter Western influence and gain leverage in the Middle East, it also exposes him to criticism and backlash from the international community. Putin's support for Hamas stems from his desire to establish Russia as a major player in the Middle East and weaken American influence in the region. By aligning with Hamas, Putin hopes to position Russia as a mediator and gain an advantage over the United States and its allies in regional conflicts. However, this strategy comes with its challenges. Hamas is considered a terrorist organization by the United States and many other countries. Its anti-Israel rhetoric and violent tactics have made it a contentious and polarizing group. By aligning with Hamas, Putin risks alienating Israel and the Jewish community, both domestically and internationally. The anti-Jewish riot in Dagestan serves as an alarming reminder of the potential consequences of Putin's balancing act. The incident highlights the extent to which anti-Semitism can be fueled by political rhetoric and religious tensions. Putin's support for Hamas, while calculated geopolitically, may inadvertently contribute to the rise of anti-Jewish sentiment and actions. The riot in Dagestan is not an isolated incident. Anti-Semitism has been on the rise in Russia in recent years, with hate crimes and discrimination targeting the Jewish community. Putin's alignment with Hamas may provide fodder for those who hold prejudiced views and seek to take action against Jews. Moreover, the riot also exposes Putin's vulnerability to domestic political pressures. While the Kremlin quickly condemned the violence in Dagestan, it can be seen as evidence of the limits of Putin's control over the situation. His attempts to manipulate anti-Western sentiment for his own political gain may have unintended consequences, as seen in the anti-Jewish riot. Putin's balancing act on Hamas is not limited to its impact on the Jewish community. It also has broader implications for Russia's relationships with other countries in the Middle East. By aligning with Hamas, Putin risks alienating Arab states that have been critical of the group's actions. This could strain Russia's diplomatic ties and hinder its ability to maintain a constructive role in the region's conflicts. Furthermore, Putin's support for Hamas raises questions about Russia's commitment to combating terrorism. While Russia has been a target of terrorist attacks, particularly from Islamist extremist groups, its alliance with Hamas undermines its credibility as a leader in the fight against terrorism. The riot in Dagestan underscores the need for Putin to reassess his approach to international relations and his alignment with Hamas. While it may be tempting to use anti-Western sentiment to gain support at home and abroad, the potential consequences, such as a rise in anti-Semitism, are too great to ignore. Putin must recognize that his pursuit of geopolitical goals should not come at the expense of compromising the safety and well-being of minority communities, including Jews. Upholding a balanced and principled approach to international relations requires careful consideration of the impact on all stakeholders, not just those with whom he seeks to align. The anti-Jewish riot in Dagestan serves as a wakeup call for Putin and highlights the risks associated with his balancing act on Hamas. The incident should prompt a review of his relationship with the militant group and a more nuanced approach to international relations that prioritizes the protection of human rights and the prevention of violence. By recalibrating his strategy and engaging in constructive dialogue with all parties involved, Putin can work towards a more stable and peaceful global order while avoiding the dangers of his current balancing act on Hamas. The riot in Dagestan should serve as a turning point in his foreign policy approach, urging him to prioritize the well-being and security of all communities, regardless of religion or ethnicity.
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