September 13, 2004
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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