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Darwin
22 november 2002, 13:41
THE DAGESTAN WAR: ACTORS, ROOTS AND PREDICTIONS

Published in Osterreichische Militarische Zeitschrift (Austria)
Issue 6/1999
By Tomas Valasek, Center for Defense Information


The entry of over 1,000 armed troops into Dagestan from Chechnya on 7 August 1999 came as little surprise to people or governments in this troubled region. Rather than a new conflict, the fighting represented an escalation of series of violent raids that have been taking place on and near the border since the beginning of this decade. Unfortunately, the complexity of the ethnic and religious situation in North Caucasus and a number of outside factors entangled the issue beyond the comprehension of all but the most patient foreign observers.

During the period covered by this article (from 7 August to 19 September 1999), the conflict went through three distinct phases and entered fourth (see enclosed timeline). On 7 August 1999, an estimated 1,200 armed men – Dagestanis, Chechens and Arabs – entered Dagestan from Chechnya. They occupied a number of villages and strategic points in the Botlikh region of Dagestan. After nearly three weeks of fighting, a combined force of Russian Federation troops and self-defense units formed by local inhabitants dislodged the combatants from their positions. The rebels announced withdrawal on 24 August, thus ending the first stage of the war.

Immediately following the withdrawal, Russian units clashed with the population of the radical Islamic villages in the Buynaksk region of Dagestan. The villagers renounced the secular governments of Dagestan and Russia as early as 1998. Their enclave has since enjoyed a de-facto independent status until the Russian attack on 29 August 1999. As the Russian troops bombarded the Islamic strongholds in Dagestan, the rebels from Chechnya invaded for the second time on 5 September. This time, the attack occurred in the Novolakskoye region, north of the places of previous fighting. As in the previous case, local resistance and federal troops repelled the invasion. In the same week, on 24 September, Russian forces also conquered and occupied the Islamic villages near Buynaksk.

Despite the apparent ease with which local defense units and Russian forces disposed of their foes, violence and instability in this region is likely to continue long after the recent operations have been concluded. Even as the fighting in Dagestan was winding down, first signs appeared of a possible revival of the 1994-96 Russo-Chechen war. Russian forces repeatedly bombed alleged rebel bases in Chechnya during and after the Chechen invasions of Dagestan. The likelihood of renewed war rose dramatically after a terrorist bombing campaign throughout Russia – widely blamed on the Chechens – killed over 300 civilians.


DAGESTAN BEFORE THE CONFLICT

Ethnic diversity

http://www.cdi.org/issues/Europe/dagraph2.jpg

Dagestan, the home of over 30 ethnic groups with competing claims on each other's territories, is the most ethnically diverse republic in Russia (see enclosed graphic). But while ethnic tensions tore other countries apart, Dagestan turned its ethnic diversity into a source of relative stability; at least until recently. The republic's entire political system is designed to preserve stability among the ethnic groups. Dagestan's highest executive authority, the State Council, is composed of one representative of each of fourteen major ethnic groups. The makeup of the Constitutional Assembly, which elects the State Council and makes amendments to the Constitution, also reflects the relative size of ethnic groups. Moreover, the Constitutional Assembly elects State Council candidates on a cross-ethnic vote, which encourages the office-seekers to obtain support from outside their ethnic group. This system has been credited with producing moderate State Councils and keeping the leaders of the (mostly chauvinistic) ethnic organizations out of state offices.

Equally significant to Dagestan's stability is the commitment by ethnic groups to seek political change through constitutional means. There is no shortage of grievances – the Chechen-Akkins demand the return of their ancestral lands occupied by the Avars, some Lezgins pursue unification with their kin in Azerbaijan, and the Kumyks have called for an independent state. Until now, Dagestan's ethnic groups, with few exceptions, have refrained from using force to pursue their claims. Religious radicalization, social tensions, and the increasing presence of armed militants, however, may yet cause this political contract to unravel.

Another strong link binding Dagestan's disparate ethnic groups is Russia itself. The use of the Russian language and the sense of belonging to the Russian Federation gives Dagestanis a degree of unity which the country would normally lack. Some observers go as far as predict that the "Russian withdrawal would inevitably trigger a disastrous struggle between Dagestan's 34 different nationalities, turning the republic into an impoverished version of Lebanon on the 1970's." Russian subsidies and influence, however, have weakened considerably in recent past, partly because of Russia's political and financial difficulties and partly due to the increasing influence of Islam. Moscow did respond to the crisis by approving an emergency grant of $4.1 million to Dagestan. This amount, however, is far from sufficient so solve Dagestan's mounting economic woes. Social tensions

Despite the presence of divisive ethnic issues, the most destabilizing factors in Dagestan are poverty and social tensions. The collapse of the Soviet Union plunged Dagestan into a deep economic crisis. The republic's unemployment rate reached 80 percent as old Soviet defense companies, mostly concentrated in Dagestan, shut down or laid off workers. Handouts from Moscow, which subsidized 80 percent of Dagestan's economy, slowed down to a trickle. As a result, the average salary in Dagestan is one third the already abysmal wages in Russia. And while nearly three fourths of Dagestanis live below poverty levels, a small clique of corrupt officials amassed fortunes exceeding millions of dollars. Unemployment, poverty and popular anger at corruption are also fueling the rising wave of radical Islam in Dagestan and elsewhere in former Soviet Union.


MILITANT ISLAM IN CAUCASUS

The outbreak of violence in Dagestan was paralleled by another Islamist insurgency in Central Asia. Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan joined forces to oust Islamic groups lodged in the mountainous region on the republics' border. While the nature of current crises differ from country to country, they appear to share the same root causes: collapse of states and state authorities, poverty, and outside pressure towards religious radicalization. Dagestan‘s crisis is typified by all above marks.

Most of the population in the Caucasus region has historically been Muslim, dominated by the Sufi order. This particular order blended original pre-Muslim traditions with Islamic customs; an aberration only strengthened through decades of isolation from the rest of the Muslim world during the Soviet rule. Sufi Islam survived even the darkest years of Soviet religious persecution and became closely intertwined with nationalism and with the existing social structures in most north Caucasus republics.

However, the nature of religious beliefs in the region has recently changed. The opening of the borders in early 1990s enabled Arab missionaries preaching a more radical form of Islam to begin working in the former USSR. Russian and local government officials usually label the missionaries as ‘Wahabis,' after an Arab Islamic order originating in the 18th century. In a strict sense, Wahabis are followers of a teaching that strives to purify Islamic belief and rituals by rejecting any changes to the religion that occurred after the death of the prophet Muhammad. Wahabi missionaries in the Caucasus are openly hostile to the traditional Sufi Islam of the region, particularly the pre-Muslim traditions and peculiar local rituals.

The rise of the Wahabi movement encountered violent opposition from both local religious authorities and parts of population. Wahabis are suspected of having killed Dagestan's Mufti, the country's religious leader. Deadly clashes between Wahabis and Sufis became a regular occurrence in Dagestan in the late 1990s. Anatol Lieven, author of a book on Chechnya and a reporter during the Russo-Chechen war notes: "The ‘Wahabis' in the North Caucasus used to number a few, with minimal influence; but religious radicalization produced by the war, the arrival of former Arab Mujahedin who had served in Afghanistan and, above all, Arab money, have since made a strong impact."

The term "Wahabism" has been overused and abused by government officials and the media in Russia, who tend to blame all unrest in the region on this order. There is no indication, for example, that the Chechen commander Shamil Basayev who led the Dagestan revolt is a Wahabi. In fact, Lieven, who interviewed Basayev on a number of occasions, described the commander as a "convinced but not particularly strict" practitioner of Islam. Regardless of the banner, radical Islam is making significant inroads in the former Soviet South. In case of Chechnya, Islam provided spiritual support to fighters facing militarily superior (at least on paper) Russian forces during the 1994-96 conflict. Reporters' accounts demonstrate an increasing reliance on Islam in maintaining discipline and enforcing orders during the course of the Russo-Chechen war. The region now houses countless veterans of the Chechen, Abkhaz and Afghan conflicts, who possess few skills beyond war fighting and few other career options in these impoverished lands. Islam provides a cause to sustain their fight – and more fighting produces more generations of people uprooted from their homes and professions. The categorical moral purity of the Islamic message also appeals to those disillusioned with corruption and poverty plaguing the former Soviet republics.

In Dagestan, the radical Islamic message has been closely intertwined with political efforts to separate this republic from the Russian Federation. It is only natural that reformers striving to establish an Islamic state would reject the continued rule of a secular Russian government – especially with its close ties to the Orthodox Church. As a leader of Dagestani Islamic radicals declared, "Dagestan can stay within Russia only if the latter becomes an Islamic state." Shamil Basayev has stated that he wants a union of Chechnya and Dagestan under an Islamic banner.

While the marriage of nationalist and religious appeals fueled the Chechens' fight, the same link has undermined the efforts by Basayev and other radicals in Dagestan. If an Islamic state were to be formed in Dagestan, crucial issues would have to be solved: Which, if any, ethnic group, would dominate? Can the difference be solved without resort to violence? Radical Islam has failed to cut across the many ethnic divides in Dagestan. Ethnic allegiances in Dagestan seem to supersede and sometimes directly contradict religious affiliations. The religious reformers in Dagestan are seen as too closely linked to specific ethnic groups, which elicits mistrust and suspicion among the rest. For example, the Khachilaev brothers Magomed and Nadyr, whose gunmen seized the parliament in Makhachkala in 1998 and briefly raised the Islamic green flag over the building, also represent the Laks – a relatively small but politically powerful ethnic group. Magomed headed the Laks' political organization, Kazi-Kumukh (see below for more information on the Khachilaev brothers). Some authors point out that Wahabis draw most support among Dagestan's most powerful ethnic groups – the Avars and Dargins, and the Chechen-Akkins. But such division inevitably sows mistrust among the Lezgins, Tats and other smaller groups. Consequently, it is very unlikely that any one religious school of thought will acquire hold over all of Dagestan. An attempt by the larger ethnic groups to impose religious rule on the rest of Dagestan would probably lead to the country's disintegration and inter-ethnic violence. Since most Dagestanis feared this violent scenario, they also opposed the intervention from Chechnya and actively resisted Basayev's fighters – with few notable exceptions.


DAGESTANI RESPONSE TO INVASION

Basayev's forces, only around 1,200 strong, could not hope to capture Dagestan without the help of the local population. For a variety of reasons, local support for the Chechens never materialized, at least not on the scale required for such ambitious undertaking as the conquest of Dagestan. The refusal of the Dagestanis to cooperate and their active resistance to the invasion was perhaps the single most important factor foiling the insurgents' plans. However, the Chechens had reasons to believe that they would find support. There were at least three potential sources of assistance to Basayev – the local Chechen population of Dagestan, the Wahabi community, and the fighters reporting to the Khachilaev brothers.

Chechen-Akkins
The Chechens in Dagestan, known as Chechen-Akkins, number around 70,000, although their exact number is hard to assess due to the influx of refugees from the 1994-96 war in Chechnya. While they share a tortuous past with their ethnic kin in Chechnya (including a forced deportation to Kazakstan from 1944 to 1957), in recent years the state of Chechen-Akkins' relations with Chechnya fluctuated. For example, Chechens in Dagestan remained, for the most part, neutral during the 1994-96 Chechen-Russian war. Individual Chechens and another closely related ethnic group, the Ando-Dido, however, opened their territories to serve as supply routes for fighters in Chechnya.
The latest conflict followed a similar pattern - official Chechen organizations took a neutral or opposing stance on the invasion, while the reaction among people ranged from quiet sympathy to support. The National Council of Chechens in Dagestan responded to the outbreak of fighting in early August with sharply worded criticism. "Armed religious fanatics are trying to seize power...the Chechen people definitively condemn such methods of dealing with existing problems," read the Council's August 11 statement. The reality was more ambiguous. Chechen-Akkins have a number of outstanding issues with other ethnic groups in Dagestan. When Chechens returned from the Stalin-imposed exile in Kazakhstan, they found their ancestral lands occupied by the Laks and Avars, two of the most numerous and powerful nationalities in the republic. The returnees were forced to resettle elsewhere – and have since harbored a grudge against the government of Dagestan. This act of injustice is now driving the Chechen-Akkin population closer to Chechnya. Unable to recover the lost lands themselves, many Chechens-Akkins hope for a union of the de facto independent Chechnya with their original territories in Dagestan. Not surprisingly, the Dagestani government is worried about potential unrest. "Grozny has created a bridgehead in the [majority Chechen populated] Khasavyurt region for seizing all of Dagestan. The local Chechens have been assigned the role of the fifth column," warned the Dagestani Security Council chairman Magomed Tolboev.

His fears did not materialize in the first phases of the recent conflict. Predictably, relations between local Chechens and government authorities became extremely tense when the conflict broke out in August. They deteriorated even further after the forces from Chechnya invaded for the second time, which shifted the brunt of the fighting to the heavily Chechen-Akkin region of Khasavyurt. The fear and suspicions of Chechen-Akkins reached a hysterical pitch in the city of Khasavyurt, which came close to being overrun by the rebels at the beginning of September. News agencies quoted local residents as warning, "the [enemies]...are here too, among us. There thousands of them, and they are well-armed." Two people were killed on 9 September in a clash between the police and a group of local Chechens. The group was apparently readying to storm a prison where the police held a dozen Chechen activists jailed on suspicion of links to terrorists.

After the invading forces from Chechnya reappeared in the Khasavyurt region, the Russian Interior Ministry speculated that the fighters' objective is to win over the tens of thousands of local Chechen-Akkins. This theory is partly supported by the fact that while Shamil Basayev declared the liberation of the Islamist radicals' villages as the primary goal of the operation, the thrust of the attack took place far north of the villages at the place of the highest concentration of Chechen-Akkins. Nevertheless, at the time this article was written, there was no sign of significant unrest among the Chechen-Akkins. Khasavyurt was spared from the fighting (Shamil Basayev denied ever intending to attack the city), and the militants from Chechnya retreated after a week of fighting in mid-September.

Islamic Fundamentalists
Over the past few years, Dagestan became home to a number of communities which openly denounced the republic's government and declared the rule of Islamic Sharia law on their territory. By some estimates, over 60 such localities exist in the republic, mostly in the central Dagestan region of Buynaksk. In August 1998, residents of Karamakhi and Chabanmakhi proclaimed their villages independent Islamic territory and expelled all local police. Following talks with then-Russian Interior Minister and later Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin, the rebels rescinded their declaration of independence, but they retained their weapons and control over the settlements. The 1998 showdown prompted to villagers to make a number of defensive fortifications, stockpiling weapons and digging underground structures. "Sooner or later the local authorities will want to destroy true Muslims, and thus we are forced to prepare to defend ourselves," a local leader stated after the unrest in 1998. The extent of the preparations became clear a year later when Russian forces needed more than two weeks to subdue the villages with air support and heavy artillery. Russian press reported that the defenders' firing positions had been protected with reinforced concrete and stocked with food and extra weapons.
By August 1999 when the latest round of fighting began, some 10,000 residents lived under effective self-rule governed by strict Islamic laws. Just as the Chechens and the Khachilaev brothers, the fundamentalists vowed to end Russian rule in Dagestan. "I don't accept and I don't obey any single Russian law, and neither do my men," the Russian press quoted a local leader, Bagaudin Mahomed. The link between the Islamic radicals and Chechnya goes beyond common goals – in December 1997 the militants from Karamakhi and Chabanmakhi allegedly joined a Chechen raiding party in an attack against the Russian armored brigade near Buynaksk, ending in three deaths. Also, the Jordanian commander in Shamil Basayev's force, Khattab, is married to a resident of Karamakhi.

Nevertheless, the territories controlled by the Islamic radicals remained largely quiet during the first invasion of militants from Chechnya. Their inactivity, however, did not spare the villages from near-destruction in the latter stage of the war. When the combined Russian and Dagestani defense troops forced Shamil Basayev's forces to retreat for the first time, the Russians set about "disarming" the villages. Local population resisted, triggering a fierce battle concentrated primarily on the villages of Karamakhi and Chabanmakhi. At the height of the battle, the militant groups from nearby Chechnya reappeared to the north of the villages, prompting concerns in Moscow and Dagestan that their forces may become overstretched. The invading forces, however, were held off. Karamakhi and Chabanmakhi were briefly occupied by Russian forces on September 3 but defenders succeeded in forcing the troops to retreat few days later. The two villages finally fell on September 12. While never directly linking up with Chechen-Dagestani insurgents, the Islamic radicals aided their cause nevertheless by tying down large numbers of Russian forces after the latter attacked villages in the Buynaksk region. The combined units of Russian military, Interior Ministry, and the Dagestani defense forces, however, proved strong enough to prevail in both places of fighting simultaneously.


Khachilaev brothers
The Khachilaev brothers represent a relatively new breed of gangster-businessmen-politicians in Dagestan. Between them, they are reported to control over a thousand armed man. They have skillfully used their military power, political and religious connections, and their links to the Lak people of Dagestan to amass political power and a fortune. Magomed Khachilaev is the leader of the Lak national movement and the former Deputy Minister of Agriculture in Dagestan. His brother Nadyr founded the Russian Union of Moslems and served as a deputy in Duma, the lower house of the Russian legislature. Both are vocal critics of the Dagestani administration, and Nadyr has openly advocated Dagestan's independence form Russia. The brothers are suspected of organizing a series of terrorist attacks, including a bomb explosion in Makhachkala which killed 18 people in Fall 1998. Their most brazen act of defiance of the Dagestan government came in May 1998, when Khachilaev's gunmen seized a parliament building. They were persuaded to leave only in exchange for promises of immunity for their act. Despite the promises, the Dagestani government did move against the Khachilaev brothers on 9 September 1998, arresting Magomed and successfully stripping Nadyr of his parliamentary immunity.
Immediately following the arrests, Shamil Basayev called for the Magomed's release while another Chechen commander, Salman Raduev, threatened reprisals against the Dagestani government. Chechnya also sheltered Nadyr when he fled Dagestan to avoid arrest. The Khachilaev brothers' links to Chechnya date back to the 1994-96 conflict, when Nadyr served as an intermediary in negotiations between the Chechen president, Aslan Maskhadov, and the top Russian negotiator, General Lebed. As early as Fall 1998, analysts openly warned of a union between the three forces opposing the Makhachkala government: Khachilaev brothers, the Islamic fundamentalists, and Basayev. The Chechen commander hoped, no doubt, for such union to crystallize when he invaded Dagestan in August 1999.

When the conflict broke out, the Russian press reported that Nadyr Khachilaev fought alongside the Chechen rebels, allegedly leading a group of 800 of armed men. If the story is indeed true, the real number is likely to be much lower – the total number of fighters on the rebel side is estimated to have been only between 1,200 and 2,000. The Khachilaev brothers' organization may have been weakened by the Dagestani authorities' preventive move against them in September 1998, and their contribution to Basayev's force in the battle did not prevent the fighters' forced retreat. Nadyr was allegedly expelled from Chechnya to Dagestan for failing to deliver on promises of assistance to Basayev's fighters. Russian media reported him wounded during an attack on 31 August 1999, in operations following the Chechen withdrawal from Dagestan.


Dagestan's self-defense units

For most Dagestanis, however, the reaction to the incursion of troops from Chechnya was far from welcoming. Contrary to the hopes of Shamil Basayev's forces, most Dagestanis refused to support the fighters and thousands actively resisted. As Caucasus-watchers have noted, many in Dagestan fear that independence from Russia would bring inter-ethnic fighting, Chechnya-like chaos and rampant criminality (see Chechnya section for more information). Thus, in response to the Chechen raid ad hoc self-defense units were hastily formed and armed with hunting rifles and other weapons issued by Russian forces. Two weeks after the invasion began, the Makhachkala government bestowed an official status on these volunteers – a government decree from 21 August grants members of the self-defense units the right to "use arms for protecting citizens from attacks...[or] rebuffing a group or armed attack." A representative of Dagestan in Moscow, Gadzhi Magomed Gadzhiyev, reported that "the people of Dagestan are aggressive towards the fighters. Volunteer detachments are being set up in all districts of the republic to squeeze out and destroy the bandits." The volunteer forces played a crucial role in expelling the militants from Chechnya, fighting side-by-side with Russian units. After the second withdrawal of Basayev's forces from Dagestan in mid-September, the speaker of the Dagestani parliament, Mukhu Aliev, said that the volunteer units would not be disarmed until the threat of violence from Chechnya subsides.

Armed civilian population, however, can prove to be a double-edged sword. In the ethnically divided and tense Dagestan, the weapons could fuel unrest between groups competing for power or territory. Aliev's vows to "keep every piece of firearms under strict control" of the government inspire little confidence since the Dagestani government proved unable to control the Khachilaev brothers' gunmen or to disarm the Islamic radicals in the Karamakhi and Chabanmakhi villages.


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Part II.

CASPIAN SEA OIL

The elements for an armed struggle in Dagestan have long been in place but the precise reason for or the timing of the recent conflict remains murky. In Moscow, the outbreak of violence in Dagestan has been blamed by many on countries competing with Russia to become a transporter of oil from the Caspian Sea. The discovery of new large oil and gas reserves in these waters in the 1990s prompted the search for an export pipeline route to Western European markets. One option under consideration is an existing pipeline from Baku, Azerbaijan to the Russian Black Sea port of Novorossiysk. Moscow stands to earn millions of dollars annually in transit fees if the route through Russia is selected. But this is becoming an increasingly unlikely proposition. A major section of the Baku-Novorossiysk pipeline runs through Dagestan and Chechnya. The fighting in both republics has cast doubt on Russia's ability to guarantee safe transportation of oil through pipelines on its territory.

The contest for the rights to export Caspian oil and gas has been plaguing Russia's relations with the West throughout the 1990s. The U.S., Azeri and Turkish governments threw their support behind a competing export route, which would lead from Baku through Georgia to a Turkish Mediterranean port of Ceyhan. This so-called Baku-Ceyhan route would entail loan and financing guarantees from Washington and Ankara and offer strategic links to Washington for the exporter – Azerbaijan. Moreover, Azerbaijan seeks to avoid reliance on Russia for its exports, since Moscow has on numerous occasions in the past exploited its position as a transit country to put economic and political pressure on its oil- and gas-exporting former satellites. Therefore, the Baku-Ceyhan route has long been considered the most likely choice.

If the chances for choosing Baku-Novorossiysk used to be slim, the Dagestan conflict rendered the Russian option – in the words of Financial Times experts – out-of-question, buried, and out of contention. The fighting in Dagestan had little impact on the pipeline itself. As the Russian side pointed out, the nearest the hostilities came to the pipeline was 80 kilometers. But to oil companies concerned with minimizing political risks, the possibility of the repeat of the Chechnya scenario raised warning signals. When Russia lost of control over this republic, Moscow, for all practical purposes, also lost the Chechen sector of the Baku-Novorossiysk pipeline. The quantities of oil stolen from Chechnya and political instability in this republic made it impossible for Russia to reach a transit agreement with Chechnya. Oil from Baku is now being transported around Chechnya on trains, slowing the flow down dramatically. If the Dagestan section is put out of use by fighting, no detours will repair the situation; Russia would lose direct pipeline connection with Azerbaijan altogether.

CHECHNYA AND DAGESTAN
While Moscow points fingers at its pipeline competitors in Turkey and the United States, another theory explains the Dagestan conflict as an extension of Chechen domestic politics. Shamil Basayev, the field commander who led troops on two raids into Dagestan in August and September 1999, is an avid opponent of the Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov. Basayev lost to Maskhadov in the 1997 presidential elections.

Although Basayev and Maskhadov fought together in the 1994-96 war, their views of Chechnya's external relations have diverged in post-war years. As the president of the country, Maskhadov is charged with finalizing Chechnya's status vis-a-vis Russia. The 1996 Russo-Chechen accords signed in Khasavyurt, Dagestan, left Chechnya's political status open while calling for a final arrangement to be agreed on by 2001. As all current Chechen leaders, Maskhadov is a firm advocate of independence. "Chechnya is an independent state....Only this remains: that the rest of the world, including Russia, recognize this independence," Maskhadov declared shortly after his election. However, political reality dictates otherwise. The Chechen government has been unable to guarantee order or provide reasonable living standards to its citizens. Most of the population of Chechnya is unemployed or employed in criminal enterprises, and the civilian authority has almost completely collapsed. Moscow has offered help - trade, subsidies - but only if Chechnya rejoins the Russian Federation. Maskhadov was due to meet with Boris Yeltsin shortly after the invasion of Dagestan began. The timing indicates that Basayev may have launched the operation in order to foil the planned meeting and prevent any compromises with Russia.

The Dagestani conflict has put Maskhadov in an impossible situation. Siding with Russia against maverick Chechen commanders, as Moscow repeatedly urged him to do, would expose the president to the wrath of his former comrades in arms. Already Maskhadov has ceded most of his real power to field commanders who run sections of Chechnya as their personal fiefdoms. If the president allied himself with Basayev, he would almost certainly provoke a Russian military response against Chechnya– which is appearing increasingly likely anyway. Faced with these hard choices, Maskhadov has chosen the implausible path of not only denying official Chechen involvement, but also denying that any Chechens were involved in the Dagestan fighting. Maskhadov stated through his spokesman that the Chechen people "have nothing to do with what is going on" in the neighboring republic." He later revised his position to admit Basayev's role in the fighting but it came too late to appease Russia. Following the bomb explosions in Russian in August - September 1999, official Moscow has essentially stopped differentiating between maverick Chechen commanders and Grozny authorities, and apparently broke off talks with Maskhadov altogether.

FROM DAGESTAN TO CHECHNYA: A NEW WAR BREWING?
In the end, the Dagestani conflict seems likely to revert to a Russo-Chechen conflict. Russian jets, claiming to be targeting the militants' bases, bombed Chechnya on numerous occasions during their operations against Dagestani rebels. The pace of the operations accelerated to over 100 raids a day after the actual fighting in Dagestan ceased. Following a series of bomb explosions throughout Russia, which Moscow blamed on the Chechens, the Russian government abandoned any pretense of adhering to the 1996 Khasavyurt agreements with Chechnya. On 15 September 1999, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin called for economic sanctions against Chechnya, imposition of a "safety zone" around the republic and the "destruction" of all Chechen guerrilla bands, along with the creation of a Chechen government in exile.

While devastating to Chechnya, these measures would also prove difficult to sustain for Moscow. If the Putin-envisioned "safety zone" involves creating a chain of military outposts around Chechnya, these would be vulnerable to Chechen attacks. Further, any large-scale ground operations against Chechnya would trigger a nationalist response and likely draw Russia into another disastrous war. Chechnya's internal divisions do not necessarily translate into weakness vis-a-vis external enemies. The Chechnya of the late Dzhokar Dudayev in 1994 was equally weak domestically, yet it mustered sufficient resolve and resources to defeat the numerically superior Russian forces. Moscow's posturing on Dagestan must also be considered in the light of the upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections in Russia. It is conceivable that the Prime Minister Putin's statements were intended to shore up support for President Yeltsin's supporters, such as Putin himself, who seem destined to lose the elections. Should the rhetoric actually turn into a large-conflict between Moscow and Chechnya, than the war in Dagestan may go down in the history as the turning point in Russo-Chechen relations and a mere prelude to a wider war.


http://www.cdi.org/issues/Europe/omz1.html




http://web.wanadoo.be/leefbaar/images/ethnocaucasus.jpg



Dit is voorwaar een echt "multiculturele" regio. :wink:

Tjolder
24 november 2002, 10:09
Al diegene die zo graag bezig zijn met multicultuur kunnen nu eens zien wat voor een leuk boeltje het hier kan worden . :lol:

De Russen kunnen niet anders dan ginder de boel gedwongen onder controle houden .
Anders krijgen we een geval zoals in de Balkan.

Darwin
24 november 2002, 22:24
Al diegene die zo graag bezig zijn met multicultuur kunnen nu eens zien wat voor een leuk boeltje het hier kan worden . :lol:

De Russen kunnen niet anders dan ginder de boel gedwongen onder controle houden .
Anders krijgen we een geval zoals in de Balkan.
Ja, en dan heb ik nog niet het kaartje van de "Russische Federatie" met alle autonome republieken e.d. geplaatst (wat zeker nog zal gebeuren ;)).

Je zou kunnen zeggen over het gedrag van de Russen tegenover de Tsjetsjenen: geef die mensen gewoon hun vrijheid en onafhankelijkheid. Maar wat er dan met "Rusland" zou gebeuren? Dan spat het mogelijk uiteen in tientallen brokstukken. :?

@lpha
25 november 2002, 00:10
Al diegene die zo graag bezig zijn met multicultuur kunnen nu eens zien wat voor een leuk boeltje het hier kan worden . :lol:

De Russen kunnen niet anders dan ginder de boel gedwongen onder controle houden .
Anders krijgen we een geval zoals in de Balkan.
Ja, en dan heb ik nog niet het kaartje van de "Russische Federatie" met alle autonome republieken e.d. geplaatst (wat zeker nog zal gebeuren ;)).

Je zou kunnen zeggen over het gedrag van de Russen tegenover de Tsjetsjenen: geef die mensen gewoon hun vrijheid en onafhankelijkheid. Maar wat er dan met "Rusland" zou gebeuren? Dan spat het mogelijk uiteen in tientallen brokstukken. :?

Het vrijheidsstreven van een volk kun je niet blijvend onderdrukken.
Misschien dat een confederatie?

groentje
30 november 2002, 23:23
lap, weer zo'n breedbeeld :P

Darwin
13 december 2002, 21:28
Even omhoog zetten voor een Kaukasus-kenner, onze vriend thePiano.

Kun jij ons misschien wat meer wijs maken over deze regio en de belangen die er spelen?

Zo kunnen we misschien een heel klein beetje begrijpen van wat mensen als de Tsjetsjenen drijft en ook wat de drijfveren van de Russen in deze supercomplexe regio zijn.

Kan altijd nuttig zijn als we Europa ooit willen uitbreiden naar die landen toe. Komen we dan in een onontwarbaar kluwen van wespennesten terecht, of valt het daar allemaal nogal mee?


:?:

thePiano
14 december 2002, 10:51
Even omhoog zetten voor een Kaukasus-kenner, onze vriend thePiano.

Kun jij ons misschien wat meer wijs maken over deze regio en de belangen die er spelen?

Zo kunnen we misschien een heel klein beetje begrijpen van wat mensen als de Tsjetsjenen drijft en ook wat de drijfveren van de Russen in deze supercomplexe regio zijn.

Kan altijd nuttig zijn als we Europa ooit willen uitbreiden naar die landen toe. Komen we dan in een onontwarbaar kluwen van wespennesten terecht, of valt het daar allemaal nogal mee?


:?:

Ik heb niet de pretentie om te beweren dat ik een Kaukasus kenner zou zijn, laat staan specialist.

Maar over Georgië weet ik wel wat, omdat ik
1. met een Georgische ben gehuwd (in de hoofdstad van Georgië, Tbilisi) 2. Verschillende keren naar het land zelf ben gereisd
3. Een Georgisch Sociaal-Cultureel Centrum heb gesticht en er zelf de voorzitter van ben 4. Een website over Georgië heb gemaakt, die de grootste nederlandstalige website is over dit land op het internet.


Dus, als je wat vragen hebt over dit land, wil ik ze graag beantwoorden.
In de forum rubriek 'Suggesties en mededelingen' heb ik er gisteren trouwens een posting over gezet: "Georgisch Sociaal-Cultureel Centrum -amarcord vzw- opgericht".

emailadres: info@amarcord.be

Website van Amarcord vzw (http://www.amarcord.be)
Alles over: Georgië, parel van de Kaukasus (http://users.pandora.be/amarcord)

Darwin
14 december 2002, 11:45
Dus, als je wat vragen hebt over dit land, wil ik ze graag beantwoorden.

Wel, vertel ons eens iets over de Apsjaars.

(of moet ik zeggen de "Abchaziërs" ;) ) Want ik zie op dat kleurrijk kaartje dat die binnen Georgië lijken te wonen.

Is het daar allemaal kits? Of krijgt de een er een koek en zit de ander er met een ei?

:wink:

thePiano
14 december 2002, 15:30
Dus, als je wat vragen hebt over dit land, wil ik ze graag beantwoorden.

Wel, vertel ons eens iets over de Apsjaars.

(of moet ik zeggen de "Abchaziërs" ;) ) Want ik zie op dat kleurrijk kaartje dat die binnen Georgië lijken te wonen.

Is het daar allemaal kits? Of krijgt de een er een koek en zit de ander er met een ei?

:wink:

Als het in Georgië allemaal koek en ei zou zijn, waarom zijn er dan al 1/5de Georgiërs hun land ontvlucht dacht je? :roll:

In Georgië hebben verschillende provincies/regio's een beperkte autonomie. Zoals in het zuid-westen de rijkere provincie Adjarië (http://users.pandora.be/amarcord/adjari01.html), en in het noorden Zuid-Ossetië (http://users.pandora.be/amarcord/osseti01.html), en dan natuurlijk Abchazië (http://users.pandora.be/amarcord/abchaz01.html) waar al enkele revoluties werden uitgevochten.

Volgens president Sjevardnadze (http://users.pandora.be/amarcord/shevar01.html) is er echter maar weinig aan de hand :oops:

De toestand in Georgië (en de rest van de Kaukasus) kan je goed vergelijken met wat er met Joegoslavië gebeurde, het is een ongelooflijke mix van religies, etnieën, politieke overtuigingen enz....

Maar zoals ik al zei, op mijn website Georgië, parel van de Kaukasus (http://users.pandora.be/amarcord/) kan je daar meer en beter over lezen.

Uitgebreide kolommen zoals jij die hier cut and paste hebben maar weinig nut. Niemand die dergelijke omvangrijke dingen leest, en zeker niet als die in het engels zijn, zoals dat ding dat jij hier neerpoot.

Knuppel
16 december 2002, 21:50
Darwin, wil je aub voortaan minder brede prentjes inlassen?
Als ik heen en weer moet scrollen om de teksten te kunnen
lezen die even breed worden als de prentjes die oorzaak
zijn van dit ongemak is mijn zin al bij voorbaat over.

Darwin
16 december 2002, 22:47
Darwin, wil je aub voortaan minder brede prentjes inlassen?
Als ik heen en weer moet scrollen om de teksten te kunnen
lezen die even breed worden als de prentjes die oorzaak
zijn van dit ongemak is mijn zin al bij voorbaat over.

Voil*, opgelost Knuppel.

:P

groentje
17 december 2002, 02:25
Te laat vrees ik, tenzij je je teksten kunstmatig gaat verkorten...