Web site says Chechnya may gain independence following US-Iraq war
Source: Kavkaz-Tsentr news agency web site in Russian 28 Jan 03
28 January: The US administration is trying to win over Pyongyang with various promises about its readiness to help the Democratic People's Republic of Korea in the energy sphere if the Koreans abandon their nuclear programme.
[Passage omitted: Background to events and the situation in Iraq]
We have already analysed the possible development of events in our article entitled "US bases in Chechnya" which was recently published by the Kavkaz-Tsentr web site. Our forecasts proved to be true to some extent.
We wrote that the Americans would have to use Azerbaijani airfields and demand that Russia, as an ally in the "antiterrorist" coalition, allow them to use its airfields in the North Caucasus (Chechnya, Makhachkala, Mozdok, Krasnodar, Rostov-on-Don and Nalchik).
Our analysis is proved by the fact that US war planes are already flying in the Azerbaijani sky at nights. It cannot be ruled out that the "moment of truth" will soon come for Russia when its allies in the coalition demand that Russia allow them to use its military airfields in the North Caucasus, if they have not already demanded this. For this reason, we think that Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov's statement about a possible split in the "antiterrorist coalition" was not made by chance.
Russia is literally shocked by such an open action by the West which is demanding immediate access to the territory of the CIS. Russia was not ready for such a swift development of events in the belief that the Iraq problem would drag on at the UN Security Council.
We remember how badly it reacted to the West's military invasion of Central Asia. A similar situation is now developing in the Caucasus region. What can we expect soon?
It cannot be ruled out that Russia will walk out of the coalition in the same unexpected way and move its troops to "protect the southern borders of the commonwealth of post-Soviet states". Moscow might declare that the "antiterrorist" operation has ended in Chechnya and then redeploy its troops in Abkhazia (the hasty construction of the Sochi-Sukhumi railway) and invade Azerbaijan advancing as far as the Iranian border.
There are unverified reports that the Kremlin and Baku have reached such an agreement. The invasion might take place in the run-up to the presidential elections [November 2003] in which the incumbent president, Heydar Aliyev, has little chances to hold down power. The presence of Russian troops in Azerbaijan will allow him to retain his power and hand it over to his son later.
Russia guarantees that Aliyev's clan will maintain power in return for solving the "Karabakh issue" in favour of Armenia.
The possible development of the situation in connection with the gulf war does not rule out and even presumes an economic catastrophe in Russia following a fall in oil and gas prices due to cheap Iraqi oil supplies to the world market.
The USA's victory over Iraq might provoke the overthrow of the Putin government by the rebellious Russian top brass which is against his pro-Western policy. This victory might also provoke a civil war in Russia, lead to the overthrow of the Aliyev regime, cause Azerbaijan to unleash a war to liberate the occupied lands with the direct support of NATO (especially Turkey) and subsequently oust Russia from the South Caucasus.
This also means that Turkish troops will be brought into Chechnya as a peacekeeping force, a Russian transitional government and other countries will recognize the independence of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria, grant Chechnya the right to establish the rule of Shari'ah in order to demonstrate its "adherence to justice" to the entire Islamic world and eliminate the West's biased attitude to Islam which appeared against the background of the "antiterrorist" operation on Chechen territory.
[Signed] A. Sardali, the Union of Caucasian Journalists, specially for Kavkaz-Tsentr.