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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
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
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
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
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
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
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 of Sufism.
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 else.
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 extreme puritanism.
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 main bastion.
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
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 Russia.
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
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 country.
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
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 resources.
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 everybody)
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 of
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.