#3 - JRL 7217
June 10, 2003
ATYPICAL SUICIDE BOMBERS
Russia has succeeded where Israel failed
Author: Leonid Radzikhovsky
[from WPS Monitoring Agency, www.wps.ru/e_index.html]
ALL POLITICIANS PRETEND THEY KNOW HOW TO UNTIE THE CHECHNYA KNOT. THEY ARE PARTICULARLY ZEALOUS IN THEIR PRETENDING ON THE EVE OF ELECTIONS. BUT ANYONE IN THEIR RIGHT MIND CAN SEE THE SITUATION IS ACTUALLY HOPELESS. THE MORE CAUTIOUS POLITICAL PARTIES ARE SMART ENOUGH NOT TO MENTION CHECHNYA AT ALL.
There is a cult of terrorism in Palestine. Being a suicide bomber there is an honored profession, something like a matador in Spain or a cosmonaut in the former Soviet Union. But there is no cult of the suicide bomber in Chechnya.
Yet there is an even more fundamental difference. In Palestine, Israel faces a monolithic wall of terrorism organized at the level and scale of the state. No matter how much some Palestinians may hate other Palestinians, they are united in their hatred of Israel. This is not what Russia is facing in Chechnya. Russia has succeeded where Israel failed. It has split the united front of the resistance. It split the war of Chechnya against Russia into a thousand fragments, a thousand petty wars among Chechen clans and gangs.
Moreover, Russia didn't even have to strive or fight for this result - a civil war in Chechnya. It is not a result of any efforts on Moscow's orders. Chechen society has been split from the very beginning. As soon as the thin coating of Soviet civilization peeled away, Chechnya immediately reverted to a state of war of all against all.
Unlike their Palestinian counterparts, Chechen suicide bombers don't have a common slogan. Most Chechens do not want independence from Russia; or, to be more exact, they understand that it's impossible. At the same time, from the economic point of view Chechnya is better prepared for independence than Palestine. Chechnya has oil. But as soon as the "UN troops" leave Chechnya (this is the role the federal forces have been playing in Chechnya, they are UN peacekeepers rather than occupiers), their withdrawal will be followed by a bloodbath and total massacre. Followers of Kadyrov, Gantamirov, Maskhadov, Basayev, and dozens of other legitimate and illegitimate chieftains will be at each other's throats in no time at all. To prevent this "mass mutual genocide", Russia will be forced to send its troops into Chechnya anyway.
Chechnya has never known such a fundamental discord yet - not under Dudayev, not even in 1999 when those madmen invaded Dagestan. Terrorism was mostly anti-Russian then. Everything has changed in the last three or four years. Chechnya is split, and the split seems permanent. I don't think anyone will be able to put the state and society together again there, even in the future.
Does this situation benefit Moscow?
It does not, at least to the extent to which Moscow feels responsible for Chechnya as a part of the Russian Federation.
It does, because it prevents the appearance of a united anti- Russian front.
What will happen to Chechnya in the foreseeable future?
Public opinion is convinced that terrorism will continue, with an emphasis against the Chechens themselves. Chechnya cannot expect normal living conditions (at least, by the standards of other Russian regions); but a war on a truly large scale is unlikely as well.
Under the circumstances, either unquestioned support for Kadyrov or negotiations with his enemies (Maskhadov is primarily an enemy of Kadyrov, not of Moscow) would only facilitate further fragmentation of Chechen society. It is impossible to think of any third option (neither supporting Kadyrov nor negotiating with his enemies).
All politicians pretend they know how to untie the Chechnya knot. They are particularly zealous in their pretending on the eve of elections. But anyone in their right mind can see the situation is actually hopeless. The more cautious political parties are smart enough not to mention Chechnya at all.
There are some situations which have no solution. The war in Ireland has been raging for centuries. The war of the Chechens against Russia didn't just start a decade ago either.
As for the suicide bombers who are so "fashionable" nowadays, I think it's a phenomenon that will soon pass. They are not religious zealots; these "atypical suicide bombers" kill their own people. That is why the phenomenon will go away. But terrorism without suicide bombers will not go away.