Monday, July 07, 2008

The First Violins

At Russia Profile, Sergei Markedonov discusses the shortcomings of what he calls Russia's "outdated" Chechnya policy in the light of the increasing changes in the nature of the armed resistance to Russian rule there:
Terrorism as a political practice is being “reloaded” in North Caucasus. Now, the main terrorist opponent of the Russian state will be not a defender of “free Ichkeria,” but a participant of the “Caucasian Islamist terrorist international group.” In this sense, Russia’s North Caucasus is recreating the historical experience of the countries of the Islamic Orient. A similar stage of “change of generations” of terrorists and terrorism has already been passed by the states of the Middle East and Northern Africa. While, in the 1960s-1980s, the main subjects of the terrorist struggle were secular ethno-nationalists (Yasser Arafat and the PLO), who used religious values and slogans only as an instrument and for the sake of taking advantage of the religious infrastructure, in the early 1980s, the first violins started to be played by the supporters of “pure Islam” (“Muslim Brothers”, “Islamic Jihad”). Now, after a certain delay, the North Caucasus will go through a similar evolution process.

Of course, it was much longer ago that radical Islam started to be used by the Chechen separatist movement, which had originally started acting under the slogans of secular ethnic nationalism. By the way, the constitution of the first Ichkeria, written in 1991-1994, was copied from the Baltic examples. The leaning toward religion started after Khasavyurt. However, Aslan Maskhadov continued to count primarily on support from Europe and the US, for which (for Britain, in particular) Islamists were not “people that could be dealt with.” Today, the West as a whole is not esteemed by Umarov and his team (which makes anti-American and anti-European statements). The former separatists rest no hopes on the West. Now, they are looking to the East, for the support of their “brothers in faith.”
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