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  The Conflict of Chechnya: The cause  
 

 

By: Dr.Dipak Basu
September 13, 2004

(Dr.Dipak Basu is Professor in Economics at Nagasaki University, Japan)

The massacre of the innocents in Beslan, has demonstrated the helplessness of the Russian authorities to the continuous threats of the Chechen terrorism.  However, the conflicts is either not known or misunderstood by the world community.  The view of the Western world is that Russia, just like India in Kashmir, is trying to suppress a legitimate movement for the right of self-determinations of the Chechen tribe. The truth is far from it. The tacit supports of the Western countries for the Chechen terrorists, by providing asylum to the leaders of this separatist movement in both UK and USA, have a very different motive.

The origin of the Chechen people:

The Chechens people are not the original people of the Caucasus region.  Ethnic Chechens believe themselves to be an ancient tribal people of Turkic origin who have lived in the Caucasus Mountains of southern Russia for many centuries.  The Turks first came from the wide plains of Central Asia.  These nomadic horsemen migrated westwards, converting to Islam along the way, until they finally reached Anatolia.  In 1071, the Byzantine Emperor Romanus IV Diogenes was defeated by the Seljuk Turks at the Battle of Manzikert, and thus opened the way for Turks into Asia Minor.  Today the ethnic cousins left behind in Central Asia are the Azerbaijanis, Kazaks, Uzbeks, Turkmen, Kyrgyzs, Ugyur, as well as smaller groups like the Chechens and the Gagauz.  The downfall of the Soviet Union has resulted in a rise of a feeling of Pan-Turkism - that of the unity of Turkic peoples that transcends centuries of separation.

There is the ancient Chechen legend about the head of the clan who came from the Arabia and settled in the mountains and became the founder of the Chechen nation.  It seems these Arabs mixed up with Khazars and native Daghestanian groups of people. The Turk influence is evident.  The separatists call Chechnya as the Republic of Ichkeria.  The name Ichkeria derives from Turkish word Ichker or Icher that means the "inner land".

In 1453, Constantinople was occupied by the Turks.  About 400 years ago, there was a combined attack on Armenia and Georgia, by the Turks (Seljuk), Egyptians Turks (Mumluk), and other Arabs.  At that time the Kings of Armenia and Georgia have merged their kingdom with Russia for protection, and sent away all the relics connected to Jesus to St.Petersburg and Moscow.  However, Russia could not save them, and Caucasus was occupied by the Muslim army of Turks and Arabs.  Chechens are the descendants of these Turks; there are many Chechens in Syria, Jordan, Azerbaijan, and Turkey itself.

The original people of the Caucasus are Christians Georgian, Armenians, Greeks, and several tribes of non-Muslim origin, mentioned in ancient Greek literature.  The Chechens are the descendants of the colonizer of the Caucasus, the Turks, and the Arabs.  That is the reason Muslims in former Yugoslavia are still called Turks.

Thus, when the Western countries and Muslim states like Saudi Arabia or Pakistan are supporting the Chechens they are in fact supporting the colonizers of the Caucasus, in the same way they supports Muslims in Kashmir, who are also colonizers of Kashmir, not the original people of Kashmir. 

Conflicts with Russia:

Russia has started, Under Peter I and then Catherine II, in the 18th century, its gradual resistance to the Turkish rule in the Caucasus and liberation of Georgia and Armenia from Turkish colonization.  In 1785, Sheikh Mansur made an attempt to create an Islamic state in North Caucasus to resist the Russians, but he failed. 

Under General Yermolov, during 1816-1827 Russian military pressure intensified.  In response, in 1834, Imam Shamil has established a theocratic sharia state in Chechnya.  In 1859 Shamil suffered defeat and became an honourary captive of Emperor Alexander II.  Some of the most famous Russian writers, Tolstoy, Turgenev and Lermentov, took part in that war in the Caucasus as Russian army officers and wrote several novels about that war.  Imam Shamil and his family were treated kindly by the Czar and the Chechens renounced the ideals of the Caucasian war.

In 1944, when south Russia was occupied by the Germans, Chechens made an attempt to raise an army to support the Nazis.  In response, Stalin deported all of them to Kazakhstan.  Only in 1957, Khrushchev brought them back to Chechnya and instead of mountain land, where the Chechens used to live, gave them the most fertile lands in the border of Georgia and south Russia to form the Autonomous Republic of Chechen & Ingush, within the USSR. 

The present conflict in Chechnya has started, in 1993, when USSR fell apart, and in those days of confusions, Dudayev, a Chechen general in the Soviet Army, declared independence for the Chechnya with the support of some of the Muslim states and implicit supports from the Western countries in general.

The separatist movement was helped by an Arab Mujahideen group with its leader Al-Khattab, a national of Jordan.  Al-Khattab has been active in Chechnya from the time of Russia's first military assault on Grozny, the Chechen capital, in December 1993.  The Chechens, like the majority in Kashmir, are Muslims, and have enjoyed the support of Turkey and countries in the Middle East and Pakistan.  Saudi Arabia is the major source of funds for the Chechens.  Saudis call their struggle a war of liberation

The Economics of the Western supports for the Chechens:

Chechnya, landlocked on three sides by Russia, includes fertile farmland that straddles the wheat fields of southern Russia.  It has key transport assets—rail/road routes that link the Black and Caspian Seas and trade routes to other trans-Caucasus republics.  Most importantly, Chechnya controls vital oil and natural gas pipelines that connect the Black and Caspian Seas, as well as vital oilfields and refineries.  We can add to this Chechnya’s chemical and engineering industries as well as its supply of building materials. Chechen, at one time, was one the richest oil producing regions in the world. 

The stakes are enormous; these are primarily, transit routes for oil pipelines from which Moscow can its export revenues.  Recent oil finds in the Caspian Sea also need these transit routes in order of it to be shipped to the consuming western nations.

Western oil companies are trying to cut off Russia from the central Asian oil producing areas in Kazakhstan and the Caspian Sea.  Enormous investments by both Exxon and British Petroleum are trying to drive out Russian influences on the central Asian oil and natural gas producers.  Proposals have been pushed for pipelines from the Caspian Sea through the Caucuses to the Black sea, which would provide the most direct route to the West.  Other proposals have included a pipeline through Iran, which the US finds unacceptable primarily for political reasons.  Another proposed route through Georgia is also a direct route, however the instability of Azerbaijan and the tension with Armenia over the region of Nogorno-Karabkh precludes an expeditious building of an oil pipeline there.

A proposal put forth by Exxon, Mitsubishi and China National Petroleum would connect Turkmenistan’s natural gas and Kazakhstan’s oil to China.  The route through Turkey also is a prospect, as it’s consumption needs and relative stability make it an ideal choice for the west. The Western supports for Chechnya should be examined in relation to this general objective to eliminate Russian influence on the former republics of the Soviet Union in central Asian countries.

While the majority of the former Soviet Union’s 48 million Muslims gained independence with the dissolution of the USSR in 1991, the Russian Federation still contains over seven million ethnically and linguistically diverse Muslim peoples. Two groups of these "internal Muslims" - the Tatars and the Chechens - are important to the Russian Federation for two key reasons. 

The first is economic: both Chechnya and Tatarstan possess substantial oil reserves, with Tatarstan alone producing 25% of the Russian yield.  The second reason is political: of all the former Russian republics and autonomous republics, only Tatarstan and Chechnya refused to ratify the 1992 Russian Federation Treaty that established Yeltsin’s present Russian Federation.

Analysis:

There are two sources that add fuels to the Chechen conflict, which cannot survive without international funds.  The first factor is the Western ambition to reduce Russia to a small insignificant nation by cutting Russia off from its most important export earner, the crude petroleum.  The second factor is the doctrine of a very violent crude version of Islam, the Wahabi sect of Saudi Arabia, and its follower.

Western oil and natural gas companies are active for decades in organizing invasions, coup, communal riots, and promotions of dreadful dictators throughout the world.  Coups in Iran-1953, Indonesia-1965, Chile-1973, communal riots in Nigeria during the 1970s, in Indonesia in 1999-2001, dictatorial rules of Mobutu in Congo, civil war in Angola, the recent invasion of East Timor by Australia and the invasion of Iraq by US-UK are all promoted by the Western oil and natural gas companies.  UNICAL, the US natural gas company has financed both Muzzahadins and Talibans in Afghanistan. 

EXXON and BP (British Petroleum) have invested heavily in the former Soviet republics of Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan to eliminate Russian influence on these countries.  Both Kazakhstan and the Caspian Sea have some of the biggest oil fields of the world.  Russian oil fields are in Tatarstan, a Muslim majority province and in Siberia.  Chechnya has some oil fields, but the importance of Chechnya rests on the facts that the major oil and gas pipelines from both Russian and Kazak oil fields are passing through Chechnya.

Thus, if it is possible to cut of Chechnya from Russia, it will affect Russian ability to export oil and natural gas the European market significantly.  Independence of Chechnya will crate chain reactions in the other Muslim majority provinces in Russia, Tartarstan in particular.  Separation of both Chechnya and Tartarstan will reduce Russia’s crude oil deposits to a low level, as the Siberian oil fields are located in the most inhospitable areas of the world.  As a result, Russia will be reduced to a very poor country without any military significance

That is the very reason British army is giving training to the their counterpart in Azerbaijan, a Turkic country ethnically linked to the Chechens.  US army is already in Georgia, which is giving sanctuary to the Chechen terrorists.  Both Britain and US is giving political asylum to the Chechen terrorist leaders.  A very important Russian-Jewish oligarch, Boris Berezhovsky, with close contacts with the Chechen terrorists, recently fled from Russia and got immediate British citizenship.  Anglo-American oil companies are buying up as many oil and gas fields as they can in the former republics of the Soviet Union.  Recently BP has tried to purchase a significant amount of shares of Yukos Oil, which owns one-fifth of the Russian oil fields, mainly in Siberia.  However, the sudden arrest and imprisonment of the owner of Yukos Oil, a Russian-Israeli oligarch Khodorkovsky, has put an end to it.  The outburst of the Dutch foreign minister Bot on behalf of the president of the European Union, immediately after the Beslan massacre, criticizing Russia for its treatment of the Chechens is another indicator of the Western supports for the Chechen cause. European parliament recently in a similar fashion criticized India for suppressing the rights of the Muslim Kashmiris.

The second international factors sustaining Chechen terrorists is the Wahabi movement of Saudi Arabia.  Wahabis are active in Bangladesh, where they terrorize both the Hindus and the liberal Muslims like Sufis. Sufis or Bauls of West Bengal are not recognized as real Muslims any more.  In old Dehli, Wahabis are forbidding Muslims to patronize the Sufi shrine of Nijjamudin Aulia.  Wahabis are financing terrorists across the globe, in Afghanistan, Kashmir, Bosnia, Kosovo, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, and in Chechnya.  In all these trouble spots, international armies of terrorists are receiving finance and logistics from the Wahabis, Osama Ben Laden is one of them.  The three countries most active in this sphere are Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Pakistan.  In Beslan, a significant number of the terrorists were Arabs; this is also true among the terrorists in Kashmir.

The ideology of the Wahabi movement is described by the Pakistani writer Brig. S.K. Malik in his book, ‘Quranic Concept of War’ (published in Pakistan by Wajid Alis Limited).  According to this book, the ‘Real Muslims’ should: ”Stage by stage, march against the non-Moslems, hit them, offer them terms of peace when necessary, terrorize them ceaselessly in various forms, open or deceitful, infiltrate and create total confusion in the camp of non-Moslems.  Then attack, and attack ruthlessly.  Slaughter entire non-Moslem communities including their womenfolk and children”. 

Followers of Wahabi movements in Beslan, in other parts of Russia, Bosnia, Kosovo, Kashmir, are doing exactly that.  Chief of Kashmiri terrorist outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed, Maulana Masood Azhar has said: “In Islam the only meaning of jihad was killing, and those who projected the concepts of jihad Akbar and jihad Asghar were against Islam.”  (Jihad Akbar is supposed to be non-violent while Jihad Asghar is supposed to be the war by the sword.)  Another supporter of terrorist groups in Pakistan, justice (retired) Javid Iqbal said that Pakistan and the Islamic world should declare that suicide bombing against the west was actually jihad. 

There is no room for liberalism in the Wahabi version of Islam.  Although a large number of Muslims across the world are opposed to this violent interpretation of Islam, the financial muscles of Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates have turned Wahabism as the main current of Islam today.

President Putin has declared that the massacre of the children in Beslan is the ‘War against Russia’.  In this case, Russia should try to cut the roots of the Chechen terrorists and take the war to its financial sources: the Western oil companies and Saudi-UAE-Pakistan.

Russia should nationalize the oil and natural gas companies and ask Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan to do the same.  That will drive out the Western oil companies.  Russia still is a formidable nuclear power.  If it would attack Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Pakistan, there is nothing USA can do without risking its own annihilation.  Russia must understand that withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1989 has not made Russia safer, as Gorbachev had wished.  Instead, it has encouraged the possibility of eventual destruction of Russia by the terrorists.

It should also open the eyes of India as well.  Dialogue with Pakistan or ‘people to people’ contact cannot deter, Pakistan-Bangladesh backed, terrorism, which has its roots in a twisted interpretation of Islam, that has ruined the possibility of an United India in 1947.  India also must understand that it should not trust the Anglo-Americans, who have used the excuse of ‘the war against terrorism’ to occupy the oil fields of Iraq.  The victims of international terrorism, nurtured by Saudi-UAE-Pakistan, both Russia and India must be united to fight it out with determination and resolve.

Dr.Dipak Basu


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A Solution for the Kashmir Problem August 16, 2004


 

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