Reflections on the Chechen Conflict: Geopolitics, Timing and Transformations
Number of pages
SourceMiddle Eastern Studies, 50, 6, (2014), pp. 870-890
Article / Letter to editor
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Middle Eastern Studies
SubjectNON-RU research; Onderzoek niet-RU
The Chechen Conflict is the most fatal and protracted conflict in the post-Soviet space. While it is the most discussed conflict there, it is also the least understood. Many contradicting accounts of it exist, and still many questions remain unanswered. One reason is that the nature of this conflict has changed over time. Unlike what many - particularly Western - analysts think, it is not a religious conflict. It began as an ethno-nationalist separatist conflict but only later was it infiltrated by extremist Salafis/Wahhabis. At this moment a war is going on between the local Chechen and the central Russian governments against the Salafi/Wahhabi Emirate of the Caucasus. Chechnya is the only autonomous region in Russia in which a separatist movement had been successful. The possible reasons are the peculiarities of the Caucasus; especially its mosaic type of ethnogeographic configuration and the traumatic past of many of its peoples. Another important factor in the explanation of such a separatist conflict in Chechnya - and nowhere else in the North Caucasus - is the fact that only in Chechnya has a titular minority enjoyed a dominant demographic position. This paper also discusses issues such as the nature of Islam in Chechnya and the Russian geopolitical codes.
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