Friday, October 08, 2004

Global Jihad: Chechnya - an Indian RAW Assessment

[There is no room for liberalism in the Wahhabi version of Islam. Although a large number of Muslims across the world are opposed to this violent interpretation of Islam, the financial muscle of Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates have turned Wahhabism into the main current of Islam today. President Putin has declared that the massacre of the children in Beslan is a “war against Russia”. In this case, Russia should try to cut the roots of the Chechen terrorists and take the war to its financial sources: the western oil companies and Saudi Arabia-UAE-Pakistan. Russia should nationalise the oil and natural gas companies and ask Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan to do the same. That will drive out the Western oil companies. Russia still is a formidable nuclear power. If it would attack Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Pakistan, there is nothing the USA can do without risking its own annihilation. Russia must understand that withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1989 has not made Russia safer, as Gorbachov had wished. Instead, it has encouraged the possibility of eventual destruction of Russia by the terrorists.]

CHECHNYA CONFLICT-I and II : The Major Sources Of Support For The Terrorists

By DIPAK BASU

The massacre of innocents in Beslan has demonstrated the helplessness of the Russian authorities in the face of the continuous threat of Chechen terrorism. However, the conflict is either not known or is misunderstood by the world community. The Western world believes that Russia, just like India in Kashmir, is trying to suppress a legitimate movement for the right of self-determination of the Chechens. The truth is far from it. The tacit support of Western countries for the Chechen terrorists, by providing asylum to leaders of the separatist movement in both UK and USA, points to a different motive.

Pan-Turkism

The Chechens are not the original people of the Caucasus region. Ethnic Chechens believe themselves to be an incident tribe of Turkish origin which has lived in the Caucasus mountains of southern Russia for many centuries. The Turks first came from the wide plains of central Asia. These nomadic horsemen migrated westwards, converting to Islam along the way, until they finally reached Anatolia. In 1071, the Byzantine Emperor Romanus IV Diogenes was defeated by the Seljuk Turks at the Battle of Manzikert, and this opened the way for Turks into Asia Minor.

Today the ethnic cousins left behind in central Asia are the Azerbaijanis, Kazaks, Uzbeks, Turkmen, Kyrgyzs, Uygur, as well as smaller groups like the Chechens and the Gagauz. The downfall of the Soviet Union has resulted in a rise of a feeling of Pan-Turkism — that of the unity of Turkish peoples.


There is the ancient Chechen legend about the head of the clan who came from Arabia and settled in the mountains and became the founder of the Chechen nation. It seems these Arabs got mixed up with Khazars and native Daghestanian groups. The Turk influence is evident. The separatists call Chechnya the Republic of Ichkeria. The name Ichkeria is derived from the Turkish word Ichker or Icher that means the “inner land”.
In 1453, Constantinople was occupied by the Turks. About 400 years ago, there was a combined attack on Armenia and Georgia, by the Turks (Seljuk), Egyptians Turks (Mumluk) and other Arabs.

Eastern crusades

At that time the Kings of Armenia and Georgia had merged their kingdoms with Russia for protection, and sent away all the relics connected with Jesus to St Petersburg and Moscow. However, Russia could not save them, and Caucasus was occupied by the Muslim army of Turks and Arabs. Chechens are the descendants of these Turks; there are many Chechens in Syria, Jordan, Azerbaijan, and Turkey itself.

The original people of the Caucasus are Christians, Armenians, Greeks, and several tribes of non-Muslim origin, mentioned in ancient Greek literature. The Chechens are the descendants of the coloniser of the Caucasus, the Turks, and the Arabs. That is the reason Muslims in former Yugoslavia are still called Turks.


Thus, when the Western countries and Muslim states like Saudi Arabia or Pakistan are supporting the Chechens, they are in fact supporting the colonisers of the Caucasus, in the same way they support Muslims in Kashmir — the colonisers of Kashmir, not the original people of Kashmir.

Russia started under Peter I and then Catherine II in the 18th century its gradual resistance to the Turkish rule in the Caucasus and liberation of Georgia and Armenia from Turkish colonisation. In 1785, Sheikh Mansur made an attempt to create an Islamic state in North Caucasus to resist the Russians, but he failed.

Under General Yermolov, during 1816-1827, Russian military pressure intensified. In response, in 1834, Imam Shamil established a theocratic sharia state in Chechnya. In 1859 Shamil suffered defeat and became an honorary captive of Emperor Alexander II. Some of the most famous Russian writers, Tolstoy, Turgenev and Lermontov, took part in that war in the Caucasus as Russian army officers and wrote several novels about that war. Imam Shamil and his family were treated kindly by the Czar and the Chechens renounced the ideals of the Caucasian war.


Present conflict

In 1944, when south Russia was occupied by the Germans, the Chechens made an attempt to raise an army to support the Nazis. In response, Stalin deported all of them to Kazakhstan. Only in 1957, Khrushchev brought them back to Chechnya and instead of mountain land, where the Chechens used to live, gave them the most fertile lands in the border of Georgia and south Russia to form the Autonomous Republic of Chechen and Ingush, within the USSR.
The present conflict in Chechnya started, in 1993 when the USSR fell apart. In those days of confusions, Dudayev, a Chechen general in the Soviet Army, declared independence for the Chechnya with the support of some of the Muslim states and implicit support from Western countries in general.

The separatist movement was helped by an Arab Mujahideen group with its leader Al-Khattab, a national of Jordan. Al-Khattab has been active in Chechnya from the time of Russia’s first military assault on Grozny, the Chechen capital, in December 1993. The Chechens, like the majority in Kashmir, are Muslims, and have enjoyed the support of Turkey and countries in the Middle East and Pakistan. Saudi Arabia is the major source of funds for the Chechens. The Saudis call their struggle a war of liberation.


Chechnya, landlocked on three sides by Russia, includes fertile farmland that straddles the wheat fields of southern Russia. It has key transport assets — rail/ road routes that link the Black and Caspian Seas and trade routes to other trans-Caucasus republics. Most important, Chechnya controls vital oil and natural gas pipelines that connect the Black and Caspian Seas, as well as vital oil fields and refineries. We can add to this Chechnya’s chemical and engineering industries as well as its supply of building materials. Chechnya, at one time, was one the richest oil producing regions in the world.

The stakes are enormous. There are primarily, transit routes for oil pipelines from which Moscow can boost its export revenues. Recent oil finds in the Caspian Sea also need these transit routes in order to be shipped to Western nations.


Western conspiracy

Western oil companies are trying to cut off Russia from the Central Asian oil producing areas in Kazakhstan and the Caspian Sea. Enormous investments have been made by both Exxon and British Petroleum to drive out Russian influence on Central Asian oil and natural gas producers. Proposals have been pushed for pipelines from the Caspian Sea through the Caucasus to the Black Sea which would provide the most direct route to the West. Other proposals have included a pipeline through Iran, which the US finds unacceptable primarily for political reasons.

There are two sources that add fuel to the Chechen conflict, which cannot survive without international funds. The first factor is the Western ambition to reduce Russia to a small insignificant nation by cutting Russia off from its most important export earner, crude petroleum. The second factor is the doctrine of a crude version of Islam, the Wahhabi sect of Saudi Arabia, and its followers (Magomed Yevloyev, leader of the Ingush Wahhabi, was among the bodies of the attackers lying in the schoolyard in Beslan).


Thus, if it is possible to cut off Chechnya from Russia, it will affect Russian ability to export oil and natural gas to the European market significantly. Independence of Chechnya will create a chain reaction in the other Muslim majority provinces in Russia, Tartarstan in particular. Separation of both Chechnya and Tartarstan will reduce Russia’s crude oil deposits to a low level, as the Siberian oil fields are located in the most inhospitable areas of the world. As a result, Russia will be reduced to a very poor country without any military significance.


That is the reason why the British army is giving training to their counterpart in Azerbaijan, a Turkish country ethnically linked to the Chechens. The US army is already in Georgia, which is giving sanctuary to Chechen terrorists. Both Britain and the US are giving political asylum to Chechen terrorist leaders. A very important Russian-Jewish oligarch, Boris Berezhovsky, with close contacts with the Chechen terrorists, recently fled from Russia and got immediate British citizenship. Anglo-American oil companies are buying up as many oil and gas fields as they can in the former republics of the Soviet Union. Recently BP tried to purchase a significant amount of shares of Yukos Oil, which owns one-fifth of the Russian oil fields, mainly in Siberia. However, the sudden arrest and imprisonment of the owner of Yukos Oil, a Russian-Israeli oligarch Khodorkovsky, has put an end to it.


The ways of jihad

The outburst of the Dutch foreign minister Bot on behalf of the president of the European Union, immediately after the Beslan massacre, criticising Russia for its treatment of the Chechens is another indicator of Western support for the Chechen cause. The European parliament recently in a similar fashion criticised India for suppressing the rights of the Muslim Kashmiris.

The second international factor sustaining Chechen terrorists is the Wahhabi movement of Saudi Arabia. Wahhabis are active in Bangladesh, where they terrorise both Hindus and liberal Muslims like Sufis. Sufis or Bauls of West Bengal are not recognised as real Muslims any more. In old Delhi, Wahhabis are forbidding Muslims to patronise the Sufi shrine of Nizamuddin Aulia. Wahhabis are financing terrorists across the globe — Afghanistan, Kashmir, Bosnia, Kosovo, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines and Chechnya. In all these trouble spots, international armies of terrorists are receiving finance and logistics from the Wahhabis, Osama bin Laden being one of them. The three countries most active in this sphere are Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Pakistan. In Beslan, a significant number of the terrorists were Arabs; this is also true among terrorists in Kashmir.


The chief of Kashmiri terrorist outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed, Maulana Masood Azhar, has said: “In Islam the only meaning of jihad was killing, and those who projected the concepts of Jihad Akbar and Jihad Asghar were against Islam.” (Jihad Akbar is supposed to be non-violent while Jihad Asghar is supposed to be war by the sword.) Another supporter of terrorist groups in Pakistan, Justice (retired) Javid Iqbal said that Pakistan and the Islamic world should declare that suicide bombing against the West was actually jihad.


Chechen terrorist leaders like Zelimkhan Yanderbeyev and Salman Raduyev had travelled to Pakistan to mobilise funds for their activities. Retired Pakistan Army officers were found providing military training to Chechen terrorists in the northern Caucasus. Chechen terrorists were also found receiving military training in Afghan camps controlled by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence when the Taliban regime was in power in that country.


Russia-India bhai bhai

There is no room for liberalism in the Wahhabi version of Islam. Although a large number of Muslims across the world are opposed to this violent interpretation of Islam, the financial muscle of Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates have turned Wahhabism into the main current of Islam today. President Putin has declared that the massacre of the children in Beslan is a “war against Russia”. In this case, Russia should try to cut the roots of the Chechen terrorists and take the war to its financial sources: the western oil companies and Saudi Arabia-UAE-Pakistan.

Russia should nationalise the oil and natural gas companies and ask Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan to do the same. That will drive out the Western oil companies. Russia still is a formidable nuclear power. If it would attack Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Pakistan, there is nothing the USA can do without risking its own annihilation. Russia must understand that withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1989 has not made Russia safer, as Gorbachov had wished. Instead, it has encouraged the possibility of eventual destruction of Russia by the terrorists.


It should also open the eyes of India as well. Dialogue with Pakistan or “people to people” contact cannot deter Pakistan and Bangladesh-backed terrorism, which has its roots in a twisted interpretation of Islam, that had ruined the possibility of a united India in 1947. India must also understand that it should not trust the Anglo-Americans who have used the excuse of “the war against terrorism” to occupy the oil fields of Iraq. Russia and India, both victims of international terrorism, must be united to fight it out with determination and resolve.

Statesman, Kolkata 07/10/2004