Chechnya: From Nationalism to Jihad

Copyright Date: 2007
Pages: 296
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    Book Description:

    The sheer scale and brutality of the hostilities between Russia and Chechnya stand out as an exception in the mostly peaceful breakup of the Soviet Union. Chechnya: From Nationalism to Jihad provides a fascinating analysis of the transformation of secular nationalist resistance in a nominally Islamic society into a struggle that is its antithesis, jihad. Hughes locates Chechen nationalism within the wider movement for national self-determination that followed the collapse of the Soviet empire. When negotiations failed in the early 1990s, political violence was instrumentalized to consolidate opposing nationalist visions of state-building in Russia and Chechnya. The resistance in Chechnya also occurred in a regional context where Russian hegemony over the Caucasus, especially the resources of the Caspian basin, was in retreat, and in an international context of rising Islamic radicalism. Alongside Bosnia, Kashmir, and other conflicts, Chechnya became embedded in Osama Bin Laden's repertoire of jihadist rhetoric against the "West." It was not simply Russia's destruction of a nationalist option for Chechnya, or "Wahabbist" infiltration from without, that created the political space for Islamism. Rather, we must look also at how the conflict was fought. The lack of proportionality and discrimination in the use of violence, particularly by Russia, accelerated and intensified the Islamic radicalization and thereby transformed the nature of the conflict. This nuanced and balanced study provides a much-needed antidote to the mythologizing of Chechen resistance before, and its demonization after, 9/11. The conflict in Chechnya involves one of the most contentious issues in contemporary international politics-how do we differentiate between the legitimate use of violence to resist imperialism, occupation, and misgovernment, and the use of terrorism against legitimate rule? This book sets out indispensable lessons for understanding conflicts involving the volatile combination of nationalist insurgency, jihad, and terrorism, most notably for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    eISBN: 978-0-8122-0231-1
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xv)
  4. Maps
    (pp. xvi-xviii)
  5. Chapter 1 The Causes of Conflict
    (pp. 1-29)

    There is no a priori reason to assume that ethnic conflict in Chechnya was inevitable or would be more intractable than in other post-communist states or elsewhere in the world. While it is important to give due recognition to historical factors in the conflict, it is equally important to avoid an overly historicist interpretation of the causes of the conflict. In contrast to previous studies of the conflict in Chechnya I explore in depth the role of contingency in sparking the conflict. There is now a significant literature on how the contingency of the period of liberalization during Gorbachev’s perestroika...

  6. Chapter 2 Russia’s Refederalization and Chechnya’s Secession
    (pp. 30-55)

    The survival of the Russian Federation after the fall of communism is an exceptional case since all the other federal communist states failed to refederalize and collapsed. The Soviet Union dissolved suddenly and chaotically, Czechoslovakia had a peacefully negotiated disassociation, and Yugoslavia was ruptured by civil war. This pattern suggests that the combination of multiethnicity, federal state, and democratizing transition is a highly unstable compound. The Russian Federation exhibits many of the characteristics that contributed to the collapse of the Soviet Union: immense size, administrative and ethnic complexity, and a built-in territorialization and institutionalization of ethnicity in its federal structure....

  7. Chapter 3 A Secular Nationalist Conflict
    (pp. 56-93)

    A period of over three years elapsed between Dudaev’s seizure of power in Chechnya during the August 1991 coup in Moscow and the Russian military invasion in late December 1994. Because Chechnya was the most recalcitrant of the secessionist republics for the Russian Federation, one would have expected that it would be a priority to resolve this problem through President Yeltsin’s policy of selective asymmetric federalism. From the Russian viewpoint, a power-sharing treaty offered the best prospect for a peaceful resolution to the conflict, as it would retain Russian sovereignty over Chechnya, and would have averted the drift toward war....

  8. Chapter 4 Dual Radicalization: The Making of Jihad
    (pp. 94-127)

    Conflicts that become protracted are generally associated with the polarization of opinions and radicalization of protagonists. Prolonged conflicts create openings and opportunities for new actors, new forces, and new ideas to come to the fore in the struggle. The renewal of conflict between Russia and Chechnya in late 1999 is often attributed, especially by Russia, to the failure of the agreements of 1996–97, and to the failure of nation-state building and the breakdown of order under President Maskhadov. While the political differences over the unresolved status of Chechnya remained strong, the erosion of the political space for negotiation and...

  9. Chapter 5 Chechnya and the Meaning of Terrorism
    (pp. 128-161)

    Previous studies of the international aspects of the wars in Chechnya have tended to focus on how Russian foreign policy has managed the conflict internationally.¹ The determinants of the foreign policies of other states and the decisions of international organizations on the question of Chechnya are a much-neglected field of study. It is not the case that there were no opportunities for international leverage or even international conditionality, which if applied, might have changed the course of events in Chechnya. The international politics of the conflict in Chechnya is illustrative of how the relations of states and international organizations and...

  10. Chapter 6 Chechnya and the Study of Conflict
    (pp. 162-197)

    Are the post-communist states particularly prone to national and ethnic conflict? Is there something specifically structural or cultural about the bloody conflicts that have followed the collapse of communism? Comparative studies of conflict by Gurr and others have identified a global resurgence of nationalism and ethnic conflict in the second half of the twentieth century, which is correlated with the spread of decolonization and democratization.¹ For many scholars the post-communist conflicts are prime examples of such national and ethnic conflicts, but the rare context of immense and rapid changes after the collapse of communism tends also to be identified as...

  11. 7. Conclusion
    (pp. 198-208)

    In his comparative study of state expansion and contraction, Ian Lustick observed that what “distinguishes a dominance relationship over a region ‘inside’ the state from a dominance relationship over a region ‘outside’ the state is the presence of a well-institutionalized belief within the dominant core that the region under consideration is immutably bound to it.”¹ Policies of expansion and control and resistance to contraction originate in the way territory is appropriated and transfixed in political identity. The most useful starting point for understanding the conflict in Chechnya must be to examine the relationship between territory and identity. The conflict originated...

  12. Appendixes
    (pp. 209-212)
  13. Notes
    (pp. 213-250)
  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 251-268)
  15. Index
    (pp. 269-276)
  16. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 277-279)