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Published in the 1-15 Jan 2005 print edition of MG; send me the print edition



I write below my reply to the letter of Mr. T. Huseynov of Baku, Azerbaijan, published in The Milli Gazette (1-15 November 2004).

Regarding the origin of the Chechens:
Vainakh tribes were not Chechens. There were many tribes in Caucasus that could be called Vainakhs, not all of them survived. The Vainakh ethnography is represented, due to about 1600 years of intermarriages, in several tribes in the Caucasus: Chechens, Kists, Ingushs, Kmyuiks, Avars, Darghins, Laks Lezgins, Tabasarans, Aguls, Rutuls, Tsakhurs, Balkars, Karachais, Nogais, Tatars, Kabardins, Adygs, Cherkess, Abazins as well as in vainakh-speaking Georgians-Tushins. The Hurro-Urartian language of ancient Armenians is most closely related to Iberian-Caucasus languages prevailing in the north Caucasus. Ossetians, living in north Caucasus, speak an ancient language of Sarmatian (one of the oldest Indo-European languages). We do not have any mention of the word Chechens, a Turkic word, before 16th century. 

The Serir kingdom existed in, what is now Chechen and Dagestani mountains, from the 4th century to the 12th, while Alanian multiethnic early feudal state was formed in the North Caucasian plains and foothills. Taimurlane’s Mongol army destroyed the Semsim state at the end of the 14th century. 

Vainakh contacts with Russians and with Russia started as early as from the 7th to 9th century as the Vainakhs and Russian principalities fought against the Khazar Khanate. The steppes of present-day Chechnya were part of the Khazar Kaganate.

Russians and Caucasian highlanders repulsed nomad raids together in the 11th century, and fought the Mongol-Tartar invaders side-by-side in the 13th century. Georgia, a Christian country, voluntarily joined Russia after signing a treaty, known as the Georgievsk Tract in 1783. With that, Chechnya was geographically incorporated into the Russian Empire along with the entire North Caucasus. 

Ottoman Turks who had occupied Caucasus in the 16th century used to kidnap and marry Vainakh-Russian-Khazar-Mongol women; that does not make the Chechens, the descendents of the Ottoman Turks as Vainakh. Russian Cossacks also in the 18th and 19th century used to kidnap and marry Chechen women, because of their outstanding beauty, as described by Tolstoy in his flowery language. That does not mean the Cossacks are Chechens. 

In the reconstructed history of the Soviet historians, Chechens are considered as Vainakhs; the purpose was to integrate the Chechens into the mainstream society. With the same purpose, idealists in India, Jawaharlal Nehru and M.N. Roy also wrote re-constructed history of India and Islam respectively; these are not real history. 

On the deportation of the Chechens in 1942-4:
In 1940 a nationalist revolt broke out in Chechnya which echoed the pro-NAZI movements in Romania, Hungary, Austria, Western Ukraine, Bosnia and Croatia. The revolt in Chechnya climaxed in 1942, with the Nazi army just 300 miles away with Ukraine under German occupation. Chechen nationalist leaders Hassan Israilov and Mairbek Sheripov issued an appeal declaring that the Nazis would be welcomed as guests. Chechens have organized an army to support the NAZIs. Stalin’s response was, that Chechens along with six other tribes with pro-German sentiments should be deported miles further east to break the back of the revolt and secure the key Caucasian front against the Nazis. Similar action was taken by Stalin against the Russian-Germans in the Volga delta. 

United States had put all Japanese-Americans in concentration camps in the deserts of California and Arizona during the 2nd World War. Japanese had arrested all Korean and Chinese living in Japan during the 2nd World War. All Chinese living in India during the Chinese invasion of 1962 were arrested as well. This is natural for any country under emergency. 

Importance of Chechnya:
Pipelines of petroleum through Chechnya is not important any longer, because alternative routes are being created that would bypass Chechnya. Direct pipelines for China and Japan are under construction. However, the importance of Chechnya lies in the wider implications of the possible creation of a hostile pro-Western Islamic country within Russia. That would provoke similar demands from areas where Muslims are in significant numbers: Tatarstan, Daghestan, Bashkorstan etc. That will have serious impacts, not only economic, on the future of Russia.

Since Russia only has a small outlet to the Black Sea basin, and through it - to the Mediterranean, the Straits of Gibraltar and the Suez Canal, so its interest is in the preservation of stability in the ethnic Russian part of the Northern Caucasus, namely: the Krasnodar, Stavropol and Rostov regions. The importance is great, since with instability in these areas, Russia will face a possible loss of access to short sea routes, which are important for moving Russian exports to foreign markets.

The major issue is the survival of Russia. Is Turkey prepared to give independence to the Kurds, Greeks and Armenians? Is Pakistan ready to give independence to the Baluch, Pushtuns, and Shias? Will Malaysia give independence to the Chinese, Hindus and Buddhists? Indonesia will not consider giving independence to the Buddhists, Hindus and Chinese. Arab rulers of Algeria will not consider independence of the native Barbers. China will not give independence to more than 70 different ethnic groups there. 

Regarding the human rights violation:
Chechens in 1991 were about 54% of Chechnya's total population. When Dudayev declared the formation of independent Chechnya, all non-Chechens, about 46% of the population in Chechnya, were brutally evicted. Separatists launched what amounted to genocide of Russians, Georgians, and Armenians. In the first year of Dudayev's rule, at least 5,000 innocent people were killed. Chechnya provided shelter for over 1,200 criminals, including terrorists led by Shamil Basayev. About 6,000 foreign mercenaries were recruited.

Until 1993, Russia authority made practically little attempts to control the situation. In December 1994, a few thousands untrained teenagers doing national service were sent to Chechnya. The terrorists slaughtered them all in Grozny. As a result Russian army came to Grozny in January, 1995. Thereafter the terrorist groups led by Shamil Basayev and Salman Raduyev seized hospitals with thousands of hostages in Budennovskin June 1995 and in Kizlyar in January 1996. 

Victor Chernomirdeen, the Muslim prime minister of Yeltsin, signed the treaty to give autonomy to Chechnya in 1996. In the three years of arbitrary rule between 1996-99, the Chechen regime brought the republic to total collapse. About 70% of the Chechen population fled Chechnya in that period for Russia and Georgia, as no civilized person can live under these terrorists. Public executions were staged in Chechen squares. Kidnapping turned into a profitable business controlled by the Maskhadov regime. By the summer of 1999 up to 1,200 people, including small children and foreign nationals, were being held hostage in Chechnya. The terrorists then started bombings of residential blocks in Moscow, Volgodonsk, and Buinaksk in 1999, which claimed hundreds of lives. 

Thus, in 1999 Russian again had to sent the army to control these criminals. Human rights violation is the usual weapons the separatists use all over the world, but one need to look at the perspective. Chechen terrorists have violated every norms of the basic human rights of both the non-Chechens and the Chechens. the recent massacres of about 400 children by the Chechens in Beslan is another example. 

International Conspiracy :
Dudaev travelled to Turkey and met with representatives of pro-US Muslim countries. First groups of "Wahhabis" had appeared in the North Caucasus, mainly in Daghestan, in early 1990s. During the first war in Chechnya they formed an "Islamic battalion" made up of foreign volunteers under the command of Al-Khattab. After the war they appeared as the forces with the strongest and most radical appeal for an Islamic state in Chechnya and for its expansion over the whole of the "Muslim Caucasus". "Wahhabis" were represented in the power structures of the post-war "Chechen republic of Ichkeria", and controlled the Shariah tribunals.

These terrorists are citizens of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey. In all, there were mercenaries from over 25 countries in the terrorist groups in Chechnya. There were training centres in Afghanistan and Pakistan that trained Chechen militants, and similar camps were located in Albania, Lebanon, and Bosnia. When al-Queada was created in the late 1990s, Al-Khattab, a compatriot and loyal friend of bin Laden, became its regional representative in the North Caucasus and the rest of Russia. In June 1999, bin Laden visited Al-Khattab's training center, Said Ibn Abu Waqqas outside Urus-Martan in Chechnya.

In the US, the group that pleads the Chechen cause is the American Committee for Peace in Chechnya (ACPC). Its members are the most prominent neo-conservatives who so enthusiastically support the "war on terror" and the occupation of Iraq. They include Richard Perle, very important Pentagon adviser; Elliott Abrams of Iran-Contra fame; Kenneth Adelman, the former US ambassador to the; Midge Decter, biographer of Donald Rumsfeld and a director of the rightwing Heritage Foundation; Frank Gaffney of the militarist Centre for Security Policy; Bruce Jackson, former US military intelligence officer and one-time vice-president of Lockheed Martin, now president of the US Committee on Nato; Michael Ledeen of the American Enterprise Institute, a leading proponent of regime change in Iran; and R James Woolsey, the former CIA director who is one of the leading cheerleaders behind George Bush's plans to re-model the Muslim world along pro-US lines. 

It was Germany and the European Union, who have destroyed Yugoslavia by giving recognitions to the separatists in Bosnia and Croatia. Europeans are also most vocal in their support for Chechnya. Britain, Denmark, Belgium, and USA gave sanctuaries to the Chechen terrorists. 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. 

Kashmir and Chechnya:
European parliament recently in a similar fashion criticized India for suppressing the rights of the Muslim Kashmiris. United States already declared Pakistan, the center of international terrorism, as its major non-NATO ally. The Pakistan army has provided Washington with an instrument for crushing or hindering progressive social movements, not just inside Pakistan, but also in South Asia. India's non-alignment and the good relations of both India and Afghanistan with the Soviet Union were anathema to Washington, which deployed Pakistan against both countries. When a socialist government came to power in Afghanistan in July 1978, the U.S. decided to overthrow it, using Pakistan army as an agent, " to induce a Soviet intervention in Afghanistan", as Zbigniew Brzezinski, National Security Adviser in the Carter administration has admitted recently. With the withdrawal of the Soviets in 1989 and the destruction of the socialist government of Dr.Nazzibullah in 1992, Afghanistan became a centre for U.S. and Pakistani-backed international terrorism. Islamist fighters trained there poured into Central Asia and India, aiming to create pan-Islamic pro-US states stretching from Kashmir to Kazakhstan. A 1997 document of the U.S. Congress reveals how the Clinton administration had "helped turn Bosnia into a militant Islamic base," leading to the recruitment through the so-called "Militant Islamic Network" of thousands of Mujahadeens from the Muslim world. The 'Bosnian pattern' has since been replicated in Kosovo, Southern Serbia and Macedonia and in Kashmir. 

The turmoil in Kashmir has started in 1989, the year the Soviet army left Afghanistan. In 1992, the US State Department declared that the whole of the state of Jammu & Kashmir is a disputed area, supporting Pakistani demands. The Taliban and Al-Queada are CIA-ISI creations as well. The Special assistant of Clinton, Robin Raffael went to Kandahar in 1997 to congratulate the Talibans, who were giving training to the terrorists in both Kashmir and Chechnya. 

The massacre and total evictions of the Hindus from Kashmir was never reported in any Western press, who are continuously criticizing India for human rights violations in Kashmir. The massacres and evictions of the non-Muslims from Chechnya and the flights of the peaceful Muslim Chechens from the terrorist administered Chechnya were not reported either in any Western press, who are convicting Russia for human rights violations in Chechnya.

Prof. Dipak Basu
Professor in International Economics
Nagasaki University

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