Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov revealed on February 8 at a press conference in Moscow that “the Islamic State (EI or Daech)” used the Pankisi Gorge in Georgia as a training base. “We have information that the EI fighters use these remote mountainous areas to train, rest and replenish their workforce,” S.Lavrov said. This is not the first time that Moscow calls these deep gorges in the Caucasus mountains, on the border of Georgia and Russia, as an Islamic terrorist breeding ground. Already during the war waged by Russian forces to subdue the Chechens, Russia had mentioned the Pankisi Gorge as the main crossing point of the Chechen fighters and Islamist mercenaries who supported them, not without blame in passing Georgia complacency them.
Russia faces the threat of Daech who, having claimed the crash of the Russian plane to Sharm el Sheikh October 31, 2015, hit its territory, claiming some time after a shootout in Derbent, tourist site of the Republic Dagestan of the Russian autonomous, where the jihadists have settled since neighboring Chechnya has been developed not by a vassal of the Kremlin Ramzan Kadyrov and Moscow took the opportunity to point the finger once again Georgia.
Alexander Krylov, chairman of the scientific studies of Caucasian Society, confirmed that the Pankisi Gorge harbored many a jihadist training facility, unable to assess the number, which varies according to him, according to the whereabouts of regular different terrorist groups in the Middle East. “The military situation in the Middle East is not currently favorable to the ‘Islamic state’, and they are forced to migrate by opening new fronts in the Caucasus and Central Asia.
In this regard, the Pankisi Gorge in Georgia can become a haven for jihadists, where they can carry out acts of terrorism and guerrilla, “said A. Krylov. According to him, Azerbaijan is the gateway easier for these fighters in the Caucasus. In Azerbaijan, the EI fighters already have a well-marked trail. If they decide to destabilize the situation in Azerbaijan, they arrive there without doubt, for they have all the necessary resources for this purpose. “But the biggest danger for Armenia does not take into projects that terrorists are attached to Azerbaijan, but rather in the situation in the Georgian region of Adjara, where they can enter in Javakheti, and here, in Armenia. That would be the worst scenario for Armenia, and we can state objectively that it is a growing threat to the national security of Armenia, “said A.Krylov.
According to the expert, in spite of such a threat, the South Caucasus countries will not join their efforts against these fighters, the region is experiencing a climate of war. Recall that in June 2015, the Georgian special services had conducted a secret operation in the Pankisi Gorge in order to stop an armed group linked to EI. The warlord islamist Abu Omar al-Shishani (Tarhan Batirashvili) was arrested at the end of this operation.