Chechnya: The New Afghanistan?

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2003-06-19T14:57:00Z
2003-06-19T14:57:00Z
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Thomas B Fordham Foundation
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September 11
was a shocking demonstration of the dangers of lawless countries and
ungovernable regions, which are easy targets for Islamic fundamentalism and
breeding grounds for terror. In the war on terror, President Bush has committed
the
U.S.
style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘> to draining these terror swamps.

style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘>Chechnya

style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘> ought to be on his radar screen as the
next front in the war.

In its
ongoing war there, the Russian military has brutalized the Chechen people,
radicalizing that conflict and creating an environment where international
terrorism can thrive. A secular and democratic independence movement is
changing, as radical Islam and terrorism are being embraced by a desperate
populace. Most alarmingly, there are clear indications that al Qaeda regards
majority-Muslim
Chechnya
style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘> as fertile ground for recruitment and a
potential base for operations.

A HISTORY OF
CONFLICT

Chechnya
style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘> has been intermittently at war with

style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘>Russia

style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘> for centuries, with the most recent
conflicts taking place from 1994 to 1996 and 1999 to the present. It is now a
nation of warlords and anarchy. In the last nine years, between 180,000 and
250,000 Chechens have been killed and 350,000 have been displaced, out of a
population of just 1.1 million. That means that roughly half of the population
has been killed or displaced by fighting. Compare that to Kosovo, where 0.6
percent of Kosovars were killed, and you get a sense
of the nightmarish brutality of the conflict.

With that
conflict has come a human rights disaster of historic
proportions. Amnesty International reports, “Men, women, and children have also
been tortured, including raped, in detention in ‘filtration camps.’ Over a
thousand simply ‘disappeared’ in custody. The dead bodies of
some people who have ‘disappeared’ after being detained by Russian forces are
later sold to the relatives by the military or are found in mass graves.”

According to the International Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, “The
numbers of disappeared Chechens in recent months indicate a continuing assault
against the Chechen people that borders on genocide.”

Russia
style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘> has deployed approximately 80,000 troops
to this region the size of
Connecticut
style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘>, and atrocities are common. Almost every
village and town in

style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘>Chechnya

style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘> has repeatedly endured so-called “mopping
up” operations, during which Russian troops loot, beat, rape,
extort, and illegally execute and detain Chechen civilians. One more
frightening statistic: Russian authorities have designated approximately 73
percent of Chechen territory as environmentally contaminated.

THE
style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘>TERROR

style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘>

style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘>SWAMP

style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘>

Already,
Chechens have turned to terror tactics, including a deadly attack on a

style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘>Moscow

style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘> theater last fall. Still, the Chechen
diaspora in
Russia
style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘> (estimated at 10,000 people) has rarely
carried the war outside the region’s borders–surprisingly enough, considering
the brutality of the Russian occupation.

But of even
greater concern for the West is the possibility that

style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘>Chechnya

style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘> could serve as a base and recruiting
ground for al Qaeda or other terror networks. In March, Chechen foreign
minister Ilyas Akhmadov, speaking at a New Atlantic Initiative meeting in

style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘>Washington

style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘>, said that while Chechen terrorism is now
rare, the tenor of the conflict could make it more common. Because Chechens
have “no right except to die,” the “path to radicalization is open,” Akhmadov
said. “Russian policies toward

style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘>Chechnya

style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘> have been a factory for creating
terrorism.” Akhmadov warned that young Chechens have no other training but in
war. This generation has grown up with ever-present violence that has included
the torture and death of family members, and Russian cruelty is pushing many
moderate Chechens into the arms of extremists. As they seek to protect their
families from violence and humiliation, radical methods and attitudes begin to
appear more acceptable. A Chechen foreign ministry document states, “Four years
of indiscriminate warfare, ethnic cleansing operations, and international
indifference to Russian atrocities have created an atmosphere of hopelessness
and desperation.”

In this era
of worldwide terror networks and alliances between disparate, disaffected
groups such as Colombian rebels and the Irish Republican Army, it should be
clear how this bitter and terrorized people could align with terrorists. The
warning signs are already there. In December 1996, al Qaeda’s second in
command, the Egyptian Ayman al-Zawahiri, investigated transferring the terror
network’s headquarters to

style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘>Chechnya

style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘>. In the fall of 1999, three of the
eventual September 11 hijackers were sent by al Qaeda to the

style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘>U.S.

style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘> after their first assignment–fighting in

style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘>Chechnya

style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘>–was determined to unnecessary. Mounir El
Motassadeq, who last fall became the first man to face trial for the September
11 attacks, told a
Hamburg court that Mohammed Atta, who is believed to have piloted the
first plane into the
World Trade
style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘>

style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘>Center

style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘>, declared that he “really wanted to go to
Chechnya
style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘> to fight.” Motassadeq said that other
suspected terrorists also wanted to fight in

style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘>Chechnya

style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘> “because of the massacre that the
Russians were committing there.” In November 2002, bin Laden himself invoked

style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘>Chechnya

style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘> in a message broadcast on al Jazeera. “As
you look at your dead in
Moscow, also recall ours in
style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘>Chechnya

style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘>,” he told the Russian people.

THE NEW
class=GramE>AFGHANISTAN

class=GramE>?

style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘>

The
proximity of the
Caucasus
style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘> to

style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘>Afghanistan

style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘> makes it likely that displaced terror
training camps and cells will relocate to

style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘>Chechnya

style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘>. Jean-Louis Bruguiere,

style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘>France

style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘>’s top investigative judge for terrorism
cases, said, “I fear that

style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘>Chechnya

style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘> could become the new

style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘>Afghanistan

style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘>. The threat is moving to the

style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘>Caucasus

style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘> because the jihad system needs a new
battleground.”

At the same
time, radical Islam–never popular in secular

style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘>Chechnya

style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘>–seems to be gaining a foothold. Long
beards are appearing on men, while some women are wearing the Arab-style hijab,
a head-to-toe black dress that leaves only the eyes uncovered.

A Chechen
foreign ministry document drew a grave picture of the potential for terrorism
in that country:
Russia
style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘>’s policy of collective terror and total
lack of accountability is turning

style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘>Chechnya

style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘> into a fertile ground for terrorism. The

style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘>Moscow

style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘> hostage-taking clearly demonstrates

style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘>Chechnya

style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘>’s extreme desperation and fast-growing
radicalization. Undoubtedly, continuation of the war will turn
at least a part of

class=GramE>Chechnya

class=GramE>‘s armed resistance to
irrational … violence of vengeance independent of the political agenda, which
neither
President
Maskhadov nor anyone else would be able to control. Ending the war and solving
the conflict are surely the only way to prevent this.

Moscow interprets these developments not as an indication that its war
is backfiring, but as further justification for the campaign in

style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘>Chechnya

style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘>. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy: as the
war creates more brutality and pushes

style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘>Chechnya

style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘> further into extremism, the likelihood of
terror increases, which
Moscow then uses as an excuse for further intervention.

The rise of
Chechen extremism has also caused

style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘>Washington

style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘> to turn a blind eye to Russian brutality
in the region.
Moscow has gone to great lengths to draw comparisons between
style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘>America

style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘>’s toppling of the Taliban to its war in

style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘>Chechnya

style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘>. Sergei Ignatchenko, deputy chief
spokesman of Russia’s FSB security service–the successor of the Soviet
KGB–recently remarked, “We are talking about an international network that
shares the same sources of funding, political support, weapons, training, and
ideology, operating in Chechnya, Afghanistan, and many other places.”

With
Moscow’s aid in the war on terrorism–use of Russian bases in Central Asia,
acceptance of American troops on its borders, etc.–and America’s naturally
increased sensitivity to terrorism, Washington seems to be willing to see
Chechnya the way the Kremlin wants it to. Two weeks after September 11, the
President Bush remarked, “Our initial phase of the war on terrorism is against
the al Qaeda organization, and we do believe there are some al Qaeda folks in

style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘>Chechnya

style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘>.” White House press secretary Ari
Fleischer reinforced Bush’s comments: “There is no question that there is an
international terrorist presence in

style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘>Chechnya

style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘> that has links to Osama bin Laden.” He demanded
that Chechen leaders “immediately” sever ties with terrorists.

POLITICAL
SOLUTION WANTED

Yet this
conflict must be kept in context. The Chechens’ war is one of secession, not of
Islamic fundamentalism. Their goal is an independent state, not the destruction
of the
United States
style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘> or the West. After all, Chechens receive
most of their support from the European Union and the

style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘>United States

style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘>, drawing very little official aid from
Muslim countries. While

style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘>Afghanistan

style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘> was flooded with thousands of foreign Muslim
fighters, there are relatively few in

style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘>Chechnya

style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘>. The Kremlin estimates the number of
foreign fighters in

style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘>Chechnya

style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘> at 700, while outside experts place the
figure at 200. “What Putin calls international terrorism is actually a very
specific form of Chechen national terrorism,” explains Yevgeny Volk of the
Heritage Foundation in
Moscow. “Any comparison with September 11 is artificial. Chechen
resistance is quite different in demands, style, and performance.” Alexander
Iskanderyan, director of the independent Centre for Caucasian Studies in

style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘>Moscow

style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘>, describes the war as an independence
movement: “The penetration of outside money and [Islamic] ideology occurred
later, and to some extent was an inevitable consequence of

style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘>Chechnya

style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘>’s deterioration. But the Chechen
rebellion remains, at its heart, a secessionist struggle. It therefore needs a
political solution, not a military one.”

In addition,
the Chechens are traditionally not very religious, with families and clans
playing a bigger role in their society than religion. Chechen resistance did
not begin with the rise of radical Islam or international terrorism. Michael
Gordon, who has covered the conflict for the New York Times, says that there’s
“no question that there is an Islamic link to the conflict in

style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘>Chechnya

style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘>. There are [Islamic] groups around the
world that raise money for the Chechen cause. There are some people who have
gone to volunteer to fight alongside the Chechens. However, if you were to take
that way, if you subtracted the connections with Islamic militants and
extremists, the conflict would be going on pretty much as it is and the Chechen
people would be resisting Russian government of their republic.”

The history
of Chechen resistance proves this point. As the Russian empire was expanding in
the 18th century, Chechens resisted for years before being finally absorbed
into
Russia
style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘>. In the 1830s, they renewed their efforts
for independence, a struggle that lasted until 1859, and even afterwards
sporadically continued. Under communism, life for the Chechens did not become
easier. In 1944, Josef Stalin deported all Chechens to central

style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘>Asia

style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘>. Thousands died either resisting or
during the journey. (In 1957, Nikita Khruschev allowed them
to return to their homeland.)
As a Chechen foreign ministry document has
stated, “The fact that not only the present generation, but also nearly every
previous generation since 1707 has made similar sacrifices for the very same
goal [of independence] makes acceptance of autonomy within Russia even more
unthinkable. In Chechens’ minds it would be a betrayal of the whole struggle
and history and, most important, the memory of the loved ones.” Blaming the
Chechen conflict on the rise of international terrorism and radical Islam is to
ignore the centuries of abuse

style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘>Chechnya

style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘> has suffered from Russian hands.

In March,
Chechens voted on a constitution that would declare the republic an inseparable
part of
Russia
style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘>. The proposal passed by overwhelming
margins, but international observers say the vote was marked by large-scale
fraud and intimidation, and the results were rejected by

style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘>Chechnya

style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘>’s political leadership and guerillas.

Because of
the brutality of the two wars,

style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘>Chechnya

style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘>’s political leaders consider the
relationship with
Russia
style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘> to be poisoned. The Chechen government
offered a different formula for peace. Pleading for international attention and
action, Foreign Minister Akhmadov wrote in a peace proposal published on March
18, “
Moscow
style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘>’s policy of collective terror against the
Chechen people is turning some elements of Chechen society toward irrational
and undifferentiated vengeance. While the government of Chechen president Aslan
Maskhadov has and will continue to condemn any terrorist acts, regardless of
who may perpetrate them, a just peace is ultimately the only way to prevent this
deeply alarming trend
” [emphasis in the original].

Akhmadov was
in
Washington
style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘> in March to promote this proposal, which
recognizes the security threat

style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘>Chechnya

style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘> poses to

style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘>Russia

style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘>, and the haven

style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘>Chechnya

style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘> could become for terrorists. Because of
these concerns, the proposal is for a conditional independence with a period of
several years of international administration that would include both UN
peacekeeping troops and civilian administrators. This proposal ought to receive
a fair hearing from
Moscow, Washington
style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘>, and the United Nations.

President
Bush has declared that the community of nations is either with us or against us
in the war on terror. But surely that formulation should allow for a variety of
approaches in fighting terror and supporting states that seem likely to
collapse in Afghan-style lawlessness. The Chechen people are clearly being
pushed into extremism by a brutal Russian occupation. American gratitude for
Russian help in the war on terror should not trump the clear national security
interest the
U.S.
style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘> has in forestalling the rise of radical
Islam in the
Caucasus
style=’font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-font-family:”MS Mincho”‘>. The Chechens can be “with us” in the war
on terror, but only if
Washington accepts that in this case, there are true and longstanding
grievances that need to be addressed.

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