Sunday 5 September 2004

A Recap of Recent History : Chechnya

FactMonster has a timeline about the history of Chechnya, dating back to the 1830's.

But recent events regarding Chechen Independence can be summarised as follows:
  • 1991 : Soviet Union Collapse, Chechens declare Independence. Yeltsin sends in some troops in a half-hearted attempt to regain control (as was done unsuccessfully elsewhere), but armed Chechens resist, and the Russians soon withdraw (again, as they did elsewhere). Chechnya is now Independent, de facto if not de jure.
  • 1992-1994 : Organised and Disorganised bandits (literally - bands of armed men) engage in a reign of criminal terror in all provinces adjacent to Chechnya. The main crime is Kidnapping, but cattle-rustling and grand theft are also common. Chechnya becomes a true Kleptocracy, ruled by thieves. Anyone familiar with the Achean pirates 3000 years ago, the Scottish Border reavers of 1000 years ago, the 'Terror of the Norsemen' Viking/Danish raiders of 1500 years ago, or even the Plains Indians of 200 years ago, will recognise the raider culture. The raids become intolerable.
  • 1994-1996 : Russians sends in the army - or rather, dispirited and demoralised remnants of what used to be the Red Army. The Criminals get wiped out or disband, but the Islamic 'patriots', in scenes reminscent of the US War for Independence, take on the Russians and win. The former Red Army get their heads handed to them, whole battalions are wiped out in a military fiasco. Russians declare they've won (or at least destroyed the organised criminals), and withdraw.
  • 1997-1999 : Anarchy in Chechnya. This time, it's not criminal gangs, it's Jihadis, who help fellow-muslims in neighbouring Daghestan in their 'Independence Struggle', actually a genocidal war against non-Muslims there. Finally, the escalating and concurrent series of terrorist bombings against civilians in Russia is capped by them blowing up an apartment block, killing or maiming hundreds.
  • 1999-2000 : Russia goes into Chechnya again, this time with morale high, a greater degree of organisation, and bloody-minded thoughts of revenge. They go in 'cum Scutum et Ignis', with Fire and the Sword. Grozhny reduced to rubble, with indiscriminate bombardment of Chechen civilians and both unofficial and officially sanctioned human rights abuses. This was a 'punitive war' designed to stop the terrorism by brutal military action, state-snactioned terrorism. It is largely successful, and Chechen overt resistance is eradicated. Chechen Independence is now ended. But at a terrible cost to innocent lives, and an encouragement of greater resistance in the long term.
  • 2000-2004 : Slow increase in terrorist activity, with Chechen Jihadis now exported to all parts of the Middle East, and Arab Jihadis fighting a guerilla campaign in Chechnya. Terrorist bombings and other atrocities, especially the massacre of 3rd party NGOs trying to relieve Chechen suffering, increase. These reach a climax in 2004, when over 20 separate bombings and massacres occur in the first 9 months, including aircraft destruction, and the massacre of the innocents at Beslan
  • (2004 : Russia goes in for the last time, this time in what is unofficially a war of genocide... In a traditional Russian solution to similar problems, all Chechens are rounded up en masse and re-settled in Northern Siberia...Those that survive...?)

I'm desperately trying to think of an alternate ending to this one. The problem is, that Russia has tried (with varying degrees of sincerity) to live alongside an Independent Chechnya twice. And failed both times, due to Chechen intransigence. From the Russian viewpoint, it's not possible to "live and let live" with the Chechen culture as it stands now. The Chechens have a right to independence, but the actions of the Chechen Jihadis have forfeited that right. Russia has a right to secure borders, even though their acts of revenge should have been punished, or better, prevented, if the UN was living up to its charter. But Russia's right still stands.

I'm sure the Israelis could tell them a thing or two about this. Remember Ma'alot :
This small town made world headlines when a group of 11th graders on a field trip from Safed spent the night in a school in Ma'alot. On May 15, 1974, three PLO terrorists disguised in Israeli uniforms, who had infiltrated from Lebanon, killed the school children's guard and stormed the building. Some children were killed as the terrorists entered, others escaped through a window on the second floor. The terrorists threatened to kill the remaining children unless Israel released Arab terrorists held in Israeli prisons. Israel's official policy was not to negotiate with terrorists, but the government decided to ask for more time to talk. The terrorists rejected the request. Fifteen minutes before the terrorist-imposed deadline for starting to kill their hostages, an elite Golani brigade unit mounted a rescue operation. When it was over all the terrorists were dead, but so were 21 children who had been murdered by the Arabs.

In 1963, Ma'alot merged with Tarshiha, a 900-year-old neighboring Muslim and Christian Arab village to form a single municipality. This a rare model of interdependence and cooperation between Jews and Arabs.
But you know the situation is truly dire when the Intifada starts looking like the lesser of two evils....

I refuse to believe that a 'Trail of Tears' that punishes the innocent along with the guilty is a legitimate option. Of course in the original, they were all innocent, even though the Cherokee kept slaves, just as did the rest of Georgia.

One possible solution : a declaration that any organisation that does not immediately and unequivocally condemn the Beslan Massacre of the Innocents is in a state of war with Russia : and any building where a pro-Beslan Jihadi speech is made is subject to demolition (with 24 hours notice) by Russian weaponry, no matter where in the world it exists.

The UN of course would never sanction that. And the USA's 'Freedom of Speech' fixation might well mean that it loses some important public buildings, hopefully by a demolition contractor's hammer rather than a smart bomb. But the alternative is unthinkable.

No comments: