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Czech intelligence: Russia backs separatists, Yemen poses danger

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Prague, Oct 24 (CTK) – Russia continued supporting the separatists in East Ukraine last year, and the situation in Yemen threatens to make a country of terrorists’ recruitment of it, the Czech military intelligence service VZ writes in its annual report.

In 2016, the VZ conveyed about 1,800 intelligence items to allied foreign secret services, 350 more than in 2015.

Last year, the Czech Republic found itself on the margin of big powers and non-state players’ geopolitical interests, the report says.

For countries of the Czech Republic’s size, a strategic commodity has increasingly been the information enabling them to react in advance to situations they may get involved in against their will, in consequence of hybrid actions by stronger players, the report says.

It largely focuses on assessing the situation in turbulent world regions in 2016.

The Russian Federation intensively worked on regaining the position of a respected big power. It continued its military support for the separatist republics in the east of Ukraine and installed anti-aircraft defence means in Crimea in order to confirm its control of the annexed peninsula, the VZ writes.

A direct military confrontation with other big powers is not in Russia’s interest, it adds.

Referring to Syria, it writes that though IS lost almost 30 percent of its originally occupied area by the end of 2016, its expected defeat will not bring the country’s internal crisis to an end.

As for Iran, the nuclear deal with it has positively affected international security. “Iran observed its commitments stemming from the nuclear agreement, which can be understood as a significant success in the fight against nuclear weapons’ proliferation,” the report writes.

An effort at normalisation of relations with European countries was seen on the part of Tehran’s foreign policy last year, rather than steps of hostility, it writes.

The civil war in Yemen ended in a stalemate in 2016. The unstable security situation in Yemen did not directly influence security in the Czech Republic, but 80 percent of Yemen’s inhabitants afflicted by a humanitarian crisis might become a significant recruitment potential for international terrorism unless they receive international aid, the VZ report warns.

The number of radical Muslims in Europe who were supported by Persian Gulf countries rose last year, the VZ writes.

“In view of the open Schengen area and radical Muslims’ transnational links across Europe, this situation poses a potential long- and medium-term threat also to the Czech Republic,” the report writes.

It assesses as serious the repeated “primitive attacks” against civilians, also by means of vehicles, but says that even more dangerous is the terrorists’ capability of preparing complex and sophisticated attacks.

In 2016, the VZ registered no information about a terrorist attack threatening Czech security. An increased risk applies to Czech soldiers deployed in selected Muslim countries, the report writes.

The number of IS fighters returning to Europe increased last year, it continues.

“In addition, the radicalisation of Muslims in Europe was influenced by the wave of Islamophobia that emerged during the refugee crisis in 2015,” the report writes.

This wave has been used by extremist political parties whose Islamophobic declarations legitimise the ideology of radical Islamists who say the European majority society has always discriminated against them.

“Some states’ inappropriate political reaction thus can indirectly raise the number of radicalised Muslims in Europe,” the VZ writes.

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