Saint-Petersburg State University of Economics and Finance
English Language Department
"The Chaos In the Caucasus"
Written by Nebesoff I.,
Checked by Kirillova O.G.
Chapter 1. History of terrorism. 4
Chapter 2. Clash, or conspiracy? 5
Chapter 3. Enter the Wahhabis 6
Chapter 4. Geopolicy. 8
Chapter 5. Economy. 9
You see, nowadays the Caucasus problem is one of the sharpest and most important for our country. Chechnya and Dagestan are not only oil, but the source of destability and terrorism.
After last autumn events in the United States even Americans and Europeans understood that war in Checnya is not only Russia's internal business, and this war, which we have been leading for several years already is not only the wish of the Russian Government and oligarchs to take 'their piece of pie' from the Caucasus oil. The world community has finally recognised that threat of world-wide terrorism is not a myth, and this battle has to be led by forces of all countries, which want to live undisturbed.
In this work I am trying to show the roots of Islam movement and the history of confrontation in Chechnya. Another aim of this paper is to show links between Chechnya and world Islamic terrorism, and to show how these links work. Only when we recognise that terrorism is the 'world-wide web', civilized world would be able to unite against this, maybe, the greatest evil on the Earth, and, probably, one of the biggest world problems in the new century.
And the last aim was to show how the Chechen war is affecting the Russian economy, and what losses we have had since this war started
Chapter 1. History of terrorism.
At least until recently, the main enemy of Islamic terrorism seemed to be the United States. However diverse and quarrelsome its practitioners, they knew what they hated most: the global policeman whom they accused of propping up Israel, starving the Iraqis and undermining the Muslim way of life with an insidiously attractive culture.
Anti-Americanism, after all, has been a common thread in a series of spectacular acts of violence over the past decade. They include the bombing of the World Trade Centre in New York in February 1993; the explosion that killed 19 American soldiers at a base in Saudi Arabia in June 1996; and the deadly blasts at the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in August 1998.
In many of the more recent attacks it has suffered, the United States has discerned the hand of Osama bin Laden, the Saudi-bom coordinator of an international network of militant Muslims. In February last year, he and his sympathisers in Egypt, Pakistan and Bangladesh issued a statement declaring that "to kill the Americans and their allies-civilian and military—is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it."
Now, it might appear, Russia's turn has come to do battle on a new front in this many-sided conflict. The Russian government has blamed terrorists from the country's Muslim south for a series of bomb blasts in Moscow and other cities which have claimed over 300 lives. And it has launched a broadening land and air attack against the mainly Muslim republic of Chechnya, where the terrorists are alleged to originate.
In their more strident moments, officials and newspaper columnists in Moscow say that Russia is in the forefront of a fight between "civilisation and barbarism" and is therefore entitled to western understanding. "We face a common enemy, international terrorism,"
Whereas western countries have chided Russia (mildly) for its military operation against Chechnya, Iran has been much more supportive. Kamal Kharrazi, Iran's foreign minister, has promised "effective collaboration" with the Kremlin against what he has described as terrorists bent on destabilising Russia. Russia, for its part, has thanked Iran for using its chairmanship of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference to present the Russian case.
Perhaps because of Russia's friendship with certain parts of the Muslim world, Mr Putin has firmly rejected the view that the "bandits" Russia is now fighting could properly be described as Islamic. "They are international terrorists, most of them mercenaries, who cover themselves in religious slogans," he insists.
But ordinary Muslims in the Moscow street — whether they are of Caucasian origin, or from the Tatar or Bashkir nations based in central Russia — fear a general backlash. "Politicians and the mass media are equating us, the Muslim faithful, with armed groups," complains Ravil Gainutdin, Russia's senior mufti. Patriarch Alexy II, the head of the Russian Orthodox church, has been urging his flock not to blame their i8m Muslim compatriots for the recent violence. "Russian Christians and Muslims traditionally live in peace," he has reminded them.
Chapter 2. Clash, or conspiracy?
But even if Russia's southern war is not yet a "clash of civilisations", might it soon become one? And if so, would that bring Russia closer to the West, or push it farther away?
Islam is certainly one element in the crisis looming on Russia's southern rim, but it is by no means the only one. The latest flare-up began in August in the wild border country between Chechnya — which has been virtually independent since Russian troops were forced out, after two years of brutal war, in 1996 — and Dagestan, a ramshackle, multiethnic republic where a pro-Russian government has been steadily losing control.
Many people in Russia did not need any evidence; the government's allegations simply confirmed the anti-Chechen, and generally anti-Caucasian, prejudice they already harboured. Other Russians take a more cynical view. They believe the bomb attacks are somehow related to the power struggle raging in Moscow as the "courtiers" of Ex-President Yeltsin try to cling to their power and privilege in the face of looming electoral defeat.
Such incidents are grist to the mill of Moscow's conspiracy theorists. Some believe that the bombs were indeed the work of Chechen extremists, but insist that the fighting in the south is mainly the result of Russian provocation; some say it is the other way round. Whatever the truth, the crisis has certainly played into the hands of the most hardline elements in Russia's leadership. But there are also signs that people from outside Russia have been stirring the pot.
Mark Galeotti, a British lecturer on Russia's armed forces, says there is evidence that Mr bin Laden, while not the instigator of the urban bombing campaign, has offered financial help to its perpetrators. And fighters under the influence of Mr bin Laden have certainly been active in Chechnya and Dagestan — though their presence is probably not the main reason why war is raging now.
With or without some mischief-making by dark forces in Moscow, Russia would have a problem in the northern Caucasus. Hostility between Russians and Chechens goes back to the north Caucasian wars of the i9th century, when the tsar's forces took more than 50 years to bring the Chechens under control. As well as strong family loyal-ries, part of the glue that held the Chechens and other north Caucasian people together was Sufism, the mystical strand of Islam.
The Bolshevik revolution of 1917 promised to liberate all the subject peoples of the sariat empire. As civil war loomed, Lenin and Stalin made a cynical bid for Muslim support by promising the creation of semi-independent Islamic states in Russia and central Asia, saying: "All you whose mosques and houses of prayer have been destroyed, whose beliefs and customs have been flouted by the tsars and the oppressors of Russia — from now on your beliefs and customs, your national and cultural institutions are free and inviolable."
The reality of Soviet rule was, of course, very different. Periods of repression alternated with periods of relative toleration, but prechens (along with seven other ethnic groups) were deported en masse to Kazakhstan as part of Stalin's policy of punishing "untrustworthy" ethnic groups. But Chechen culture, in particular, proved remarkably hard to destroy.