Tuesday, April 23, 2013

War on Terror: The Imperialist Roots of the Russia-Chechen Conflict

Media likes to portray the “war on terror” such as the Boston bombing incident as either individual (psychological) aberrations or sectarian (religious) problems. They hardly consider the geopolitical or even internal political angles from which may have inspired on such heinous actions. 

Understanding the Russia-Chechen conflict may give us a clue to the recent events.

From historian Eric Margolis at the lewrockwell.com in 2010
There is an old saying about the fierce Chechen tribes who inhabit southern Russia's Caucasus mountains: "Chechen cannot ever be defeated. They can only be killed."

Chechen are Russia's nemesis. Even the notoriously brutal Russian mafia fears the ferocious Chechen, and for good reason.

Last year, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin proudly proclaimed that resistance to Russian rule in the North Caucasus had been eliminated. The region was pacified.

Confounding Putin's claim, Chechen suicide bombers hit Moscow's subway last week, killing 39 and injuring over 70. Chechen suicide bombers in Dagestan killed twelve, mostly policemen. There were further attacks in neighboring Dagestan. The North Caucasus was again at a boil.

The attacks seriously rattled Russians and left the Kremlin deeply embarrassed and enraged.

Two "black widows" – wives or daughters of Chechen independence fighters killed or raped by the Russians (Russians call them "Islamic terrorists" and "bandits") – took their revenge last week, as so often in recent years.

The latest Chechen leader, Doku Umarov – all his predecessors were liquidated by Russia – claimed from his hideout in the Caucasus mountains that the subway attacks were reprisal for the recent killing of Chechen civilians by Russian security forces.

He warned Moscow, "we will make you feel what we feel."

In recent years, Chechen "black widows" have brought down two civilian airliners. Other Chechen hijacked an entire Moscow theater, and derailed the "Alexander Nevsky" Express that runs from Moscow to St. Petersburg.

Chechen are a tiny but fierce North Caucasian mountain people of Indo-European origin. They, and other Muslim Caucasian tribes, such as Dagestanis and Cherkass (Circasians), have battled Russian imperial rule for the past 300 years.

In 1877, Imperial Russia killed 40% of the Chechen population of about 220,000. Four hundred thousand Cherkass were expelled.

Stalin, from neighboring Georgia, hated Chechen. He divided Chechnya, creating the republic of Ingushetia. Then, in July 1937, his secret police, NKVD, shot 14,000 Chechen.

In 1944, Stalin ordered the entire Chechen people rounded up and shipped in cattle cars to his Siberian concentration camps or dumped to perish into icy fields. Other Muslims followed: Ingush, Tatars, Karachai, Balkars.

Neither bullets nor gas chambers were needed in Stalin's death camps. A third of the prisoners died each year from cold, starvation or disease in the concentration camps. In all, some 2.5 million Soviet Muslims were murdered by Stalin, "the Breaker of Nations," among them half of the Chechen people.

In my new book, American Raj, I entitle the section on the Chechen, "Genocide in the Caucasus."

Gulag survivors filtered back to Chechnya. When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, Chechen demanded independence like the Soviet republics.

Instead, Boris Yeltsin's government invaded Chechnya, killing some 100,000 Chechen civilians through massive carpet bombing and shelling. Chechen leader Dzhokar Dudayev was assassinated, reportedly thanks to telephone homing equipment supplied to Moscow by the US National Security Agency. President Bill Clinton actually lauded Boris Yeltsin as "Russia's Abraham Lincoln."

Incredibly, Chechen fighters managed to defeat Russia's army and won de facto independence.

As one would note, imperialism typically engenders retributions via acts of “terror” or terrorism.

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