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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 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 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 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 elsewhere.
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 and resettlement.
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 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.
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