Thursday, November 30, 2006

[russia-chechnya] that little matter some were waiting on

I had three longish discussions today about Chechnya, Politkovskaya, Litvinenko, the former PM and radiation but mainly about Chechnya. It’s oh so complicated, essentially because various parties have ancient feuds with other parties, who have feuds with yet others. Here’s how I understood what was said to me today by Muslim and non-Muslim Russian alike.

Chechnya – the history behind the conflict really starts with intense resentment of the Russians who prevented the caliphate from Persia to Kazakhstan centuries ago. In other words, Chechnya was the stalling point and the Russians prevented further incursion. Vienna was another stalling point in Europe proper. The population in the mountainous Chechyan region remained predominantly Muslim and therein lay the problem.

With disaffected Checnyans forever sniping at Russia and resenting the lost opportunity, the USSR just moved the whole population to Kazakhstan and Siberia in the 40s to prevent them aiding the Germans but they were allowed back by Kruschev later. This did not help Russia but gave the Chechnyans a base and an identity. When the USSR fell, the Chechnyans saw the chance for independence as a nation and unilaterally declared this. Unfortunately, the area became both gangsterland and the breeding ground for more terrorism.

Two brutal wars followed and the Russians acted with the type of brutality which Cromwell showed in Ireland and that which followed the ’45 in Scotland, whilst the Chechnyans went in for both ethnic cleansing [mass murder] through these sort of people:
Akhmed Zakayev, Dzhokhar Dudaev and Shamil Basayev and attacks on neighbours e.g. Dagestan, which in turn led the Russians to see them as terrorists, not freedom fighters.

One lady today said the problem was one of totally unreasonable forces on both sides killing and maiming each other whilst the general populace wanted to just live their lives. But the others I spoke to today didn’t agree. Deep down, this whole thing is about simple antipathy. The two sides absolutely detest one another – almost an ancient blood feud. Hence the atrocities and the frenzy with which one attacks the other.

Who’s right?

If you support a non-Muslim west and the stonewalling of sharia law, then you’ll support the Russians. If you prefer to see sharia law across Europe and Britain, then you’ll support the Chechyans. From all the comment in the UK blogosphere, it seems most Britons want the sharia law.

When Politkovskaya butted in, she was initially even-handedly scathing about both sides and not a lot was done about her. But as she showed she was clearly aligned with Chechyan independence, which means dismantling the Russian bulwark against militant Islam and allowing it to spread once again across Europe, she and the warlords had to find sanctuary somewhere.

Enter Britain, who happily threw open its doors to them, aided and abetted by the FCO and BBC. The Russians concluded from this that Londonistan was just another haven for terrorism and fugitives from justice, e.g. Berezovsky - and their little club was a natural gravitating point for the likes of Litvinenko and anyone else getting the rough end of the stick in Russia.

Now comes the bone of contention. Even if Politkovskaya was a traitor to her country [which one side says and the other hotly denies], almost no one I spoke to today would favour the systematic bumping off of various parties. The Kremlin denies it, the Brits pretty well think the FSB is behind this and my friend this morning simply said: ‘It’s stupidity to speculate when we simply don’t know, on current evidence. Let British justice take its course and see where it goes.’

And that’s where I leave the topic for now until something new comes up.


Ellee said...

It certainly is complicated, and is becoming increasingly so. However, I do not feel you spoke of Anna in a very fairly, you are very dismissive of the work she has done to highlight so many atrocities. She was passionate about her cause and cannot be condemned for that.

james higham said...

Perhaps, Ellee, perhaps. Let's just see what eventuates now.