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.
TOC \o «1-3» Content. PAGEREF _Toc9336504 \h 2
Introduction. PAGEREF _Toc9336505 \h 3
Chapter 1. History of terrorism. PAGEREF _Toc9336506 \h 4
Chapter 2. Clash, or conspiracy? PAGEREF _Toc9336507 \h 5
Chapter 3. Enter the Wahhabis PAGEREF _Toc9336508 \h 6
Chapter 4. Geopolicy. PAGEREF _Toc9336509 \h 8
Chapter 5. Economy. PAGEREF _Toc9336510 \h 9
Conclusion PAGEREF _Toc9336511 \h 12
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 already several
years is not only the wish of the Russian Government and oligarchs to
take ‘their piece of pie’ from the Caucasus oil. The world community
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
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
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
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.
By the i98os, there were estimated to be 50m Soviet citizens of Muslim
ancestry. For most of them, Soviet rule had had a powerful secularising
effect. Out of cultural habit, many still circumcised their baby boys
and buried their dead according to Muslim custom. But the closure of all
but a handful of mosques, and the virtual end of religious education,
meant that knowledge of Islam had nearly evaporated.
Among the few places in the Soviet Union where Islam remained fairly
strong was the northern Caucasus. The Sufi tradition was well able to
survive in semi-clan-destine conditions. Even without mosques, the
Chechens were able to go on venerating the memory of their local sheikhs
and performing traditional dances and chants.
Chapter 3. Enter the Wahhabis
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Sufi tradition has
faced a challenge of a very different type. Emissaries from the Arab
world, especially Saudi Arabia, have flooded into the Caucasus and
Central Asia, seeing an opportunity in the spiritual and economic
wasteland left by Marxist ideology.
Financed by Saudi petrodollars, these preachers have begun propagating a
new form of Islam, which has become known (through a slight
over-simplification) as Wahhabism: in other words, the austere form of
Islam dominant in Saudi Arabia. The new version of Islam strives to be
as close as possible to the faith’s 1,400-year-old roots. It opposes the
secularism of Russian life. Its universalising message aims to transcend
ethnic and linguistic barriers, and it has no place for the local cults
Many Chechens and Dagestanis find the new form of Islam alien and
uncomfortable, and some actively oppose it. It has caused division, and
even violence, within families. But by building mosques and establishing
scholarships, the Wahhabis have won a following, especially among the
young — often impatient with what they see as a corrupt official
religious establishment left over from Soviet times. Moreover, in the
confusion of post-Soviet Russia, the new creed offers disillusioned and
money and weapons and a sense of purpose which they cannot find anywhere
A daredevil hijacker and hostage-taker, Mr Basaev took part in the
Russian-backed war against Georgia in 1992-93, and then fought
ruthlessly against Russia in the Chechen war of 1994-96. Trained in the
Soviet army, he now says his life’s mission is to wage holy war against
Russia and avenge its crimes against his people. He is not himself a
Wahhabi, but he seems to have decided that the new Muslims would make
useful recruits for his jihad, even though he does not share their
Mr Basaev was both a Muslim and a Chechen patriot; the two qualities are
inseparable. But despite his bushy beard and talk of holy wars, he does
not quite correspond to the image of a single-minded fundamentalist. His
heroes, after all, included Garibaldi and Abraham Lincoln.
Educated in Saudi Arabia, Khattab fought the Russians in Afghanistan
before settling in Chechnya. In other words, he is one of the
«Afghanis»—the 15,000 or so unteers from all over the Middle East
(particularly Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Egypt and Algeria) who did battle,
with strong American support, against the Soviet occupiers of
Afghanistan. Since the war ended, these fighters have returned to their
homelands, or . moved to other countries, in search of new Islamist
causes to fight.
It is the existence of the Afghanis (of whom the most notorious is Mr
bin Laden himself) which helps to explain why Russia regards its own
Islamic adversaries as Frankensteinian monsters created by western
governments and their friends in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. The Afghani
connection also helps to explain why Russia and Iran see eye-to-eye on
the question of Islamist violence. As well as loathing the West and all
its works, some of the Afghanis — as zealous practitioners of Sunni
Islam — are sworn enemies of the Shia Muslim faith, of which Iran is the
Iran has always been resentful of America’s connections with Saudi
Arabia and Pakistan, even though its own relations with those two
countries have been improving. Russia sympathises, to put it mildly,
with that resentment. America, for its part, is highly suspicious of
Russia’s friendship with Iran.
Chapter 4. Geopolicy.
If there is a geopolitical stand-off involving Russia, America and the
Islamic world, it is not a simple triangle. If anything, Russia and
America have each identified different bits of the Islamic world as
friends, and each is suspicious of the other’s partnerships.
Although Russian diplomacy has been quite adept at manipulating the
geopolitical divisions within the Muslim world, there is a real
possibility that its own clumsiness and brutality could create a Muslim
enemy within its borders, as well as alienating Muslims farther afield.
Already, the Kremlin’s heavy-handedness has galvanised the Chechens to
mobilise for a new war against Russia. The neighbouring Ingush people,
related to the Chechens but hitherto willing to accept Russian
authority, may now be drawn into the conflict—along with at least four
or five other north Caucasian peoples who have until now been content to
let Russia run their affairs.
If Russia found itself at war with half a dozen Muslim peoples in the
Caucasus, the effects would certainly be felt in places farther north,
such as Tatarstan.
But if some sort of common Muslim front ever emerges in Russia,
resentment of Moscow will be the only factor that holds it together. In
the Caucasus and elsewhere, Muslims are fragmented; there is not even a
united or coherent Wahhabi movement.
Nor is there any natural unity between Chechnya and Dagestan. The two
also differ over their relations with Russia. The Chechens still feel
the scars of their last war with the Russians, and so the secessionist
impulse is much stronger than in Dagestan, which has little sense of a
common national identity and is economically heavily dependent on
Nor is it inevitable that Islamic militancy in the northern Caucasus and
in other parts of the Muslim world will reinforce one another. Rather
than being proof that political Islam is spreading, the fighting in the
Caucasus is a reminder that Islam exists in many different forms. In the
heartland of the Muslim world, the Middle East, the wave of Islamic
militancy appears to be receding. In the early i98os, the years
immediately after the Iranian revolution, the Arab countries and Turkey
felt themselves most vulnerable to political Islam.
Those expectations are now subsiding. Egypt, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia — all
countries that experienced serious Islamic opposition — have survived,
bruised but intact. Even Algeria, where Islamism took the most violent
form and was suppressed with particular harshness, seems to have entered
a more hopeful phase.
In the Caucasus and Central Asia, as in former Yugoslavia, the moment of
opportunity for political Islam came a decade or so later, with the
collapse of communism, and so the new Islamic movements are younger and
still developing. They are a powerful and potentially destabilising
force, but they are no more destined to win power than their equivalents
There is, however, a form of «peripheral» Islam which ought to be giving
Russian policymakers food for thought: the impressive strength of the
Muslim faith, sometimes accompanied by political radicalism, in western
cities that lie thousands of miles from the heartlands of Islam. From
Detroit to Lyons, young Muslims have been rediscovering their beliefs
and identity—often as a reaction against the poverty, racism and (as
they would see it) sterile secularism of the societies around them. This
phenomenon owes nothing to geopolitical calculation, or to the policies
of any government, either western or Middle Eastern; nor can it be
restrained by government action. If radical forms of Islam can flourish
in places like Glasgow and Frankfurt, there is no reason why they canot
do so in Moscow and Murmansk—particularly if the Russian government
seems to be fighting a brutal, pointless war at the other end of the
Chapter 5. Economy.
There is a way to resolve the conflict, to which international
involvement is key. Such international involvement, however, can only
happen with Russia`s consent, though both the E.U. and the U.S. have the
means to change the numbers in the Kremlin`s calculations using
political, diplomatic and economic leverage. Such involvement must help
Chechnya to become a truly democratic and peaceful state, thereby
eliminating whatever threats to Russian security it might pose.
Incentives are necessary, and the prospect of a de jure recognition of
Chechnya will be a strong incentive for Chechnya to undergo decisive
democratization and demilitarization. The idea is simple: statehood in
return for democracy.
This idea can be implemented through the United Nations Trusteeship
system under Chapters XII and XIII of the U.N. Charter. Since this can
only be done with the agreement of Russia, and since Russia is a member
of the Security Council, she will have a decisive say in the terms under
which Chechnya will be governed for the period, and in the designation
of the administering authority. This could make Russia feel more
comfortable with the idea, which needs to be a Russian-initiated
proposal to succeed.
The terms of the trusteeship will also have to be acceptable to the
Chechen side, since without the Chechen side’s voluntary consent no such
system can be implemented. The prospect of recognition of Chechnya,
together with help in reconstruction and an immediate withdrawal of
Russian troops, are likely to secure Chechnya`s consent.
The European Union might be a good choice for the role of administering
authority, since the E.U. is seen in Moscow not as a threat to Russian
interests but as an opportunity. The administering authority has to be
charged with the speedy and effective implementation of democratization
procedures at all levels in Chechnya, with the aim of preparing Chechnya
to assume the responsibilities of a recognized independent state.
Economic reconstruction, demilitarization and the training of civil
servants and police will have to be given priority. The E.U. has
acquired much experience in this field in the Balkans.
Chechens, along with the other ethnic groups that have lived in Chechnya
since before the first war, should be offered a choice whether to stay
or relocate. Those that desire to relocate to or from Chechnya should be
given the necessary economic and legal support for their transportation
Since virtually everyone in Chechnya owns some kind of weapon, a
sophisticated scheme for demilitarizing the country must be worked out,
taking account of local idiosyncrasies. The most effective way to
collect weapons would be to offer market-price compensation. This will
succeed if the inflow of weapons from outside is prevented, which will
require an effective border control.
The only non-Russian border Chechnya has is with Georgia. OSCE
observers, together with the Georgian border forces, are already
monitoring this border. In future, they can and should be joined by
Chechen border guards.
For the sake of peace, amnesty can be given to all war crimes and
atrocities committed during the last two conflicts. Such amnesty can
reduce the Russian military and security services’ fears of prosecution
and therefore increase the chance of peace.
This scheme has advantages for all parties. Russia will free itself from
the constant problem of Chechnya. The relocation of the Chechens who
chose to do so would mean that Russia would be freed from its hostile
population — a problem that Russia has been trying to solve for
centuries (the 1944 deportation of Chechens is an obvious example).
Russia would also free itself from the burden of the economic
reconstruction of Chechnya, as well as stop wasting already limited
resources on this unwinnable war. Moreover, acceptable adjustments can
be made to the Russian-Chechen border in the northwest of Chechnya,
thereby making the idea more attractive to Russia`s public. In addition,
the E.U. could compensate Russia by increasing economic aid,
particularly to southern Russian republics.
The E.U. will also be a winner. Today it might be a «reluctant empire,»
but as it undergoes deepening and expansion it is bound to play a more
assertive role externally. Its very presence guarantees its actorness.
While Russia may never become a member, it will become more and more
important to the E.U. due to its proximity. By resolving the
Russian-Chechen conflict, the E.U. will benefit from the increased
chance of a future democratic and stable Russia, the importance of which
can hardly be overestimated. The enormous economic resources that will
be required to administer and reconstruct Chechnya may not be too high a
price to pay for the stability of Europe. Moreover, a substantial part
of this expenditure can be covered by using Chechnya`s own natural
The benefits to Chechnya are self-evident. It will get what it has
always strived for — a state of its own. However, even if independence
were to come to Chechnya today, there would not be much to celebrate
since the last two wars have had such tremendous human, economic, and
social costs. Chechnya alone is not likely to be able to succeed in
addressing the huge and difficult post-war challenges that it would
have to face. The trusteeship system will guarantee reconstruction and
economic aid from outside and, by democratizing Chechnya, will help it
to get rid of those who have hijacked the Chechen cause for their own
goals. In short, Chechnya will benefit from all angles.
As you can see, both Russia and Chechnya are tired of this unperspective
war. We need to find some ways to settle this conflict. But we, of
course, have to do it in such a way so that not to violate the interest
of our country.
The problem is that one country, or even the Union of several of them
can’t beat the system of world terrorism. The only way out is to unite
with all other countries which suffer from terrorism to. The Chechen war
is not the Russian internal bisiness, but the act of world fight against
terrorism, that is why world community should give us a hand in this
violent war. It’s rather pressing, because our own economy isn’t able to
stand such expenditures to win world terrorism alone.
amnesty – giving freedom for prisoners (for some of them, or for
armor – synonym for “weapon” (look)
atrocity – violent action
blast – synonym for ‘explosion’ (look)
bombing – fighting target with bombs from the aircraft
border forces – military troops, whose aim is to protect state border
expenditure – outcome, wasting
explosion – the process of quick burn
hijack – thiefing the plain by threats of armor and bombs
implementation – realisation
independence — freedom from will of another state
Islam – the religion of Eastern people, who believe in Magometh.
jihad – holy war against unfaithful
a Muslim country – a country, where Islam is an official religion, or
area, where Islam is the most wide-spread
occupier – enemy soldier which controls the territory of the captured
opposition – group of people which withstand the official point of view
Orthodox — traditional
peripheral – placed far from centre, near the border
prosecution – making somebody responsible for something illegal.
puritanism – kind of behavior, when man refuses himself from many joys
reconstruction – rebuilding and restoring the economy, changing its
Sufism — one of Islam brunches, a confession
terrorism – kind of banditism, encouraged by Islamic ortodoxes, aimed
against Western peoples
trusteeship – kind of protection, looking after somebody.
unfaithful – man, who doesn’t believe in Islam
unity – collecting together
Wahhabi – one of Islam brunches, a confession
benefit – profit, income
weapon – pistols, guns, and other military technique.