The History of Islam in Kabardino-Balkaria

From: Eagle_wng
In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful
The History of Islam in Kabardino-Balkaria
By Mikhail Roshchin

The bloody events in Nalchik on October 13-14 this year not only indicated the radicalization of Muslim youth in the Republic of Kabardino-Balkaria (KBR), but also cast light on the drama of the relationships between the authorities and Muslims that has been developing in the republic in recent years. Accidentally or not, the Nalchik events occurred a month after the resignation of Valery Kokov, the republic’s long-serving president. It is obvious, however, that the crisis had been steadily developing during his tenure.

To understand the situation in Kabardino-Balkaria, it is necessary to learn about the peculiarities of the republic’s Islamicization. The mass conversion of Kabardinians and Balkars to Islam started at the end of the first half of the 19th century. In the second half of the 19th century, mostly in the years 1858–1865, a considerable number of Kabardinian and Balkar Muslims—approximately 27,000 people—moved to the Ottoman empire (see Nadezhda Emelianova, The Muslims of Kabarda, 1999, p. 50). However, at that time the Soviet authorities became established in the republic, a majority of its population was officially practicing Islam, and Sharia courts were active on its territory, as well as in other North Caucasian republics. In fact, a dual-faith system was in place, as the republic also preserved traditional (pagan) beliefs and many people adhered to the mountaineers’ code in their daily family and economic life. Kabardinians continued to worship great God Tkha—which, in their opinion, merged with the image of Allah. Stalin’s repressions in the years 1920 – 1930 undercut local Islam, which at that time had not yet established deep roots in Kabardinian-Balkarian society. By 1961, only 13 active mosques remained in the KBR.  They were all in the republic’s Baksan district, populated predominantly by ethnic Balkars. There were 14 unregistered Muslim communities.

During perestroika, the number of officially recognized mosques started to grow quickly, reaching 22 by 1990. Still the number was much lower than in Dagestan (240 mosques) and the Chechen-Ingush Republic (162 mosques), which at the time was not yet divided.

The renaissance of Islam took place in the KBR at the beginning of 1990s following the collapse of the Soviet Union. From the beginning however, the process was very “Arabized” and the newly-emerging interpretation of Islam differed substantially from the Islam that existed there in the 1920s. In the first half of 1990, over 100 students from the KBR went to study in Arab countries (Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria and Jordan). Charitable Muslim organizations began to operate actively in the republic, such as the “Salvation” international organization, the All-world Assembly of Islamic Youth “An Nadva,” and others. With the help of Saudi Arabia, an Islamic youth center was set up, and a branch of the international Muslim missionary movement “Da’wa,” with a staff of over 50 people assigned to different towns and villages, was organized. The Spiritual Directorate of Muslims of the KBR coordinated the work of international Islamic structures in the republic, which by then was home to more than 130 Muslim communities. (Hadjimurat Eziev, a representative of the KBR Ministry of Culture for religious affairs, confirmed this to the author in a February 2001 interview.)

Work on a project to build in Nalchik a large public religious center—which was supposed to house the Spiritual Directorate, a prayer hall for 1,500 people, a marriage hall, a conference hall, a library and a printing press—was started in 1992.  In 1994, a significant amount of money was raised for the construction of the center through a telethon. Soon after the telethon, the money disappeared without a trace. In the words of the head of the Spiritual Directorate, “it burned in the bank.” That, beyond any doubt, undermined the reputation of the official Islamic structures among local population. Muslims started to establish their own organizations, which, in turn, were a source of discontent for the official clergy and authorities.

At the end of the 1990s, the authorities suspected the Islamic Institute in Nalchik of being a center for teaching Wahhabism, and it was closed down for “re-examination.” The republic’s authorities decided that there was no need in having a large Islamic center in Nalchik and made a former movie theater on the outskirts of the city in Valony Aul into a mosque (see Islam in Kabardino–Balkaria – Modern religious life in Russia, edited by Michael Burdo and Sergei Filatov,. Vol. 3, 2005, pp. 183 – 185).

Starting in the mid-1990s, Valery Kokov tried to limit the political activity of Muslims in the republic. His apprehensions were caused by the international Muslim organizations authorized to operate in KBR. In 2000, all Islamic centers in the republic, except Islamic computer classes, were closed down on the orders of the authorities. In January 2004, Nezavisimaya gazeta quoted Spiritual Directorate of Muslims’ mufti Anas Pshikhachev as saying that on the verbal orders of the republic’s Interior Minister, police sealed mosques, prohibited people who came to the republic from other places to visit mosques and kept tabs on people who went to the mosques to pray. “The police have reported many times finding weapons, bullet-proof vests and shooting targets in our mosques, but thus far have not presented any evidence of that,” Pshikhachev said. “Scores of mosques have been suspected of promoting extremism, young people are arrested without any reason, beaten up and intimidated.”

Starting in 2000, the KBR became a region in which the rights of believers have been constantly violated and their right to freedom of conscience, guaranteed by the Russian constitution, has been ignored. All of that led to a formation of an informal opposition structure of Muslim youth. Musa Mukhozhev, imam of the mosque in Volny Aul, and Anzor Astemirov, the director of the Institute for the Study of Islam who now heads the underground armed group “Yarmuk” and led the armed assault of fighters on Nalchik, became leaders of that informal opposition Muslim youth group. They were both students of the late Ahmad-Kadi Akhtaev, a famous Dagestani preacher of moderate Wahhabi views who was poisoned in 1998. Followers of Musa Mukhozhev and Anzor Astemirov believed that Islam in the KBR must start with a clean slate. They believed that any traditions in the republic related to mountaineer ethics should not contradict pure Islam. For them, the ideal of an Islamic community was the community established by the Prophet Muhammad in Medina.

In 1996, Musa Mukhozhev became one of the leaders of the Congress of the People of Chechnya and Dagestan, headed up by Shamil Basaev, and created a structure that was ready to replace the administrative system in place in the KBR. However, he planned to come to power through peaceful means and was not known to be involved in organizing and planning any violent actions. As he told this author in February 2001, the Muslims of the KBR “need at least 20 years for serious progress.” At the same time, he stressed that “although the people of the KBR are patient, they could eventually explode.”

After the attack by fighters on the Department of Drug Control in Nalchik in December 2004, police started to conduct regular police operations against Muslims, and mosques have virtually fell under the Interior Ministry’s control and were available to believers only for performing Muslim prayer. Musa Mukhozhev had to emigrate to one of the Arab states, and in September of this year over 400 KBR Muslims appealed to the president of Russia in an open letter to allow them to emigrate to a country that would not infringe upon the rights of believers. Unfortunately, the KBR authorities did not take that signal into consideration, which, in the long run, triggered the Muslim uprising in Nalchik on October 13-14.

Mikhail Roshchin is a Senior Research Analyst at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

by Abdul Muhsin 10.12.2005

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Ingushetia to offer Jordan ‘preferential’ oil prices – president

From: MSN NicknameEagle_wng  (Original Message)    Sent: 6/21/2006 1:50 AM
Ingushetia to offer Jordan ‘preferential’ oil prices – president
Jordan Times – 21/06/2006
AMMAN (Petra) — President of the Republic of Ingushetia Murat Zyazikov on Tuesday held a press conference during which he described his visit to Jordan and talks with His Majesty King Abdullah as “historic.” He said the upcoming visit by the King to Ingushetia following a visit to Russia would further bolster bilateral ties. He voiced his country’s willingness to provide Jordan with oil at preferential prices, adding that specialists from both sides will be working on the issue soon. On Monday, the King said Jordan was ready to offer technical support to enhance relations between the two countries in a way that serves their common interests, and grant scholarships for students from Ingushetia to conduct Arabic language and Islamic studies in Jordanian universities.

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وكالة أنباء القفقاس: أبخازيا تؤكد وقوفها بجانب الشعب الفلسطيني

أبخازيا تؤكد وقوفها بجانب الشعب الفلسطيني

أبخازيا تؤكد وقوفها بجانب الشعب الفلسطيني 

سوخوم/وكالة أنباء القفقاس ـ أعلنت إدارة الشؤون الدينية لمسلمي أبخازيا شجبها للعدوان الوحشي الذي تشنه إسرائيل على قطاع غزة منذ 12 يوما مؤكدة وقوفها إلى جانب الشعب الفلسطيني.

وناشد تصريح أصدرته الإدارة زعماء الدول الإسلامية والرئيس الروسي ومجلس الأمن ومنظمة الأمن والتعاون الأوربية اتخاذ الإجراءات اللازمة لوقف العدوان بشكل فوري وإيصال المساعدات الإنسانية للقطاع على وجه السرعة.

وجاء في التصريح: “مئات من القتلى والجرحى وعشرات المنازل والمدارس والمشافي والجوامع المدمرة هذه هي إسرائيل وهذا هو الوجه الحقيقي للاحتلال الجديد الذي يستهدف الشعب الفلسطيني الذي كل ذنبه أنه يريد العيش في وطنه على الأرض التي منحها له الله”.

وأشارت الإدارة إلى المساعدات العسكرية التي تقدمها إسرائيل لجورجيا والتي تساعد هذه الأخيرة على ممارسة سياسية الإرهاب ضد جمهورية أبخازيا والشعب الأبخازي. كما لفت التصريح إلى أن إسرائيل تقوم بتدريب الاستخبارات الجورجية وتزويد الجيش الجورجي بطائرات استطلاعية بدون طيار.

يجدر التنويه بأن دائرة الشؤون الدينية لمسلمي أبخازيا تأسست عام 1999 وهي تعمل بالتنسيق مع الجهات الرسمية إلا أنها غير تابعة لجهة حكومية.

07/01/2009 – 19:41


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From: MSN NicknameEagle_wng  (Original Message)    Sent: 1/23/2006 8:37 AM

War still continues in The Chechen Republic of Ichkeria. Abkhazia is under the threat of Georgia-supported armed groups and suffers from the embargo imposed since six years. Tiflis-South Ossetia dispute is temporarily in icebox. Refugee problems between Ingushetia and Ossetia continues with small scale local clashes. And all of the Caucasian Republics are thirsty for stability.

The war that continues in Chechnya since September 1999 have taken thousands of lives and have forced more than the half of the population of Chechnya to leave their homeland.
Paris Club’s credits have financed Russian war machinery in Chechnya and The Club have kept its silence and have concentrated on how to recollect the lent money.
Limitations in economies of North Caucasus, burdensome industrial structure of the Soviet period and its resulting unemployment and lack of investment, the spirit of Politburo and KGB in state organization, non transparent structure of state administration, and lack of secure medium for private enterprise all have fed the lawlessness. Increase in abductions and ransom trade, the climb of terror and why the organized crime got stronger are not mere coincidences.


The war that continues in Chechnya since September 1999 have targeted complete extinction of the Chechen People. The war must be stopped immediately and political solutions must be searched.

—An immediate cease-fire must be declared and Russia must pull out its military from Chechnya.

—Damage of 1994-1996 war has followed another, in year 1999 and a lasting peace is the only alternative. Steps to meet the two Presidents must be taken. Mr Putin and Mr Maskhadov should meet at negotiation table. NATO, United Nations, OSCE and The European Union must mediate.

—It must be remembered that Russia have not been loyal to its commitments of 1996 and 1997 in the Agreements reached with the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria and have acted to take revenge of its defeat in year 1996. For this very reason, it is necessary that international mediators or observers assist the meeting of Russia and Chechnya. An international overseer mechanism should follow up the conformity of the sides.

—An international commission must investigate the war crimes and human rights violations in Chechnya. Concentration camp victims, torture victims, victims of all material damage must be registered as evidences of History. All victims must be compensated.

—Criminals must be found and brought in front of justice.

—International help organizations must have free access into Chechnya.

—Independent media must have access and have freedom of travel in Chechnya.
The People of Chechnya are the victims of international community whom thinks of Chechnya as an internal matter of Russia. This kind of approach have only made it easy for Russia to view Chechnya as its backyard. This approach must be questioned as a covered consent to the crimes committed by the aggressor.


An armed terrorist group of 500 men were stationed in Georgia for the last 3-4 months and started aggression against Abkhazia since 2 October 2001. Georgia have denied the presence of this armed group but the responsibility of controlling this group is still with Georgia. The Abkhazian side believes that the said group is supported by the Georgian intelligence.
This armed group have stepped into the Kodor region of Abkhazia and have attacked to some villages and have downed a helicopter of United Nations Observers on 09 October 2001. The next provocation have been the bombardment of Kodor region by SU-25 aircraft. Georgia claimed them as Russian aircraft. Tiflis and Sohum took war positions and Russia fortified its borders.
Abkhazia is now surrounded by Georgian and Russian armies. Common sense is expected from Georgia. Any Georgian adventure will provoke all of the North Caucasus (Abkhazians have not forgotton the Georgian invasion in 1992 when everything seemed peaceful and there were plenty of federation talk. Abkhazian Parliament were reviewing the proposals of federal structures with Tiflis.There the unexpected Georgian invasion came.)
There is confidence crisis between the sides. International community must take necessary steps to prevent the start of a new conflict.


Caucasian diaspora is anxious of the sensitive developments taking place after the 11 September terror in USA: is anxious of exploitation by Russia and Georgia, is anxious of its transformation into subversion by the belligerents at Caucasus.

It must be remembered that the Peoples of the Caucasus are victims of State Terrorizm for the past 400 years. Caucasian Peoples are looking for peace and freedom.(Caucasians have never been aggressors and invaders. Caucasians are forced to leave their homeland in year 1864 and have been victims of irreparable injustice.The population of Caucasus were 5 million 137 years ago and today it is still 5 million. The population of the Caucasian Diaspora is much more than the population of Caucasus. There are 100.000 Abkhazians in Abkhazia and there are 400,000 Abkhazian living in Turkey. Wars and exiles have not effected the peaceful character of the caucasians. They have been peaceful citizens of the countries they are living in. The Caucasian Diaspora in Turkey, Jordan, Syria, Egypt, Israel and United States strongly adheres to their cultural heritage and stay attached to the developments at Caucasus. The future of Caucasus is a living concern of the Diaspora.

Chechnya and Abkhazia are not the internal matters of Russia and Georgia. Russia is trying to abuse the feelings of the international community with terror references to Chechnya. President Putin said on television that “The Russian war in Chechnya should be considered as international terrorizm.” An obvious effort of Mr Putin to launder the crimes of the Russian military invasion of Chechnya. (President Putin’s laundry efforts have caused reaction in Russia itself and Russian human rights organization Memorial and Helsinki Moscow Group and Russian Soldiers Mothers’ Commitee and Sakharov Foundation collectively reacted on 18 September to the Kremlin intrigue.)

Caucasian struggle of independence for the last 400 years can not be diverted by empty terror talk of the Kremlin. Time again Mr Putin pops up and remarks thru his envoy Viktor Kazantsev and mentions of the historical background of the Chechen conflict and thereby admitted that Wahhabism is not enough to explain the conflict in Chechnya.


In conclusion, Chechnya was the Caucasian barrier for Russia for 400 years.Russian Secret Services’ terror perpetrations in Russia never proved to be the work of Chechens.Any effort to relate Chechnya with terrorizm is a lie against History. And will never explain the horrors of Russian massacres and total genocide of a nation. Any deviation may produce uncontrollable reactionary centers. Settlement of the Chechen conflict will always require the realities of the region and the History. The solution depends on acceptance by The Chechen People.
Stability for Caucasus limited to Southern Caucasus has no chance at all. The chance of such a stability is almost zero. The newly independent states of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia after year 1990 are presented as trium-stability and the North Caucasus is left alone in the dominance of the Russian Federation.

Abkhazian conflict must be considered with the sensitivity of the North Caucasian Peoples. Abkhazia have preserved its independence by help of both North Caucasian Peoples and Diaspora. The volunteers of the 1992-1993 Georgian Abkhazian war, are closely interested in decisions about Abkhazia.

Abkhazian question from the eyeglasses of Georgia have caused the Sohum Administration to have warmer relations with Russia. Sohum Administration is considering to join the Russian Federation in case of Georgian attack.

The demand for stability at Caucasus should not be interpreted and transformed into subversion of the demands of the Smaller Peoples.

The cost of stability at Caucasus should not manifest as leaving Chechnya to the temperance of the Russian Federation and Abkhazia into the hands of Georgia.

Caucasus Foundation

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ACNIS: The Caucasus And Its Geopolitical Neighborhood: Horizons For Peace And Security

The Caucasus and Its Geopolitical Neighborhood:
Horizons for Peace and Security

Occasional Paper Number Twenty-One
September 2000

Address of
Raffi K. Hovannisian
Former Minister of Foreign Affairs and Founding Director,
Armenian Center for National and International Studies

at an International Conference on
Prospects for Regional and Transregional Cooperation
and the Resolution of Conflicts

organized by ACNIS in Yerevan
September 27-28, 2000

In the context of the renewed, and by now perhaps subsided, great game for political and economic influence in the Caspian basin and Central Asia, the Caucasus has special geopolitical significance. Three regional powers, Russia, the Islamic Republic of Iran, and Turkey, share borders with the Caucasus and each has vital strategic interests in the region. In the pursuit of those interests, policies are easily devisable to exacerbate ethnic and social divisions, geographic and economic vulnerabilities, and legacies of past conflicts and injustices endemic to the region.

As a result, until the championship is won or the terms of engagement are changed, the promise of peace and a new, effective security architecture for all three Caucasian countries remains dim. So does the development of Azerbaijan’s vast energy resources and of Turkish routes to Western Europe for Caspian basin oil.

In the meantime, the long-term interests of the South (or Trans)Caucasian peoples and regional and international security can best be served by limiting opportunities for mischief in the Caucasus. To do so, they must begin to chip away at the internal divisions, the evident vulnerabilities, and the “modernization” of historical, at times reciprocal, injustices. Of paramount importance to the termination of these disruptive processes in Caucasia are the regulation of the bilateral relationship between Turkey and Armenia and the inclusion of all three regional powers in significant decision-making for the Transcaucasus.

With the collapse of the Soviet Union, intense competition began for influence up to and including Central Asia. However, because of its geographic position, the Caucasus became critical to the determination of who would exercise control of the flow of the entire macroregion’s petroleum resources and if and how they would reach the West. Moscow pushed Russian routes for economic and strategic reasons. The West sought alternatives that would limit Russian power in the post-Soviet era. It supported Ankara in its bid for Turkish routes and jettisoned Iranian options out of all discussion, understanding of course that without a Tehran connection the only way that oil could transit Turkey was via Georgia or Armenia.

And so the struggle for sway over the Caucasus began. Combatants in local conflicts often served as proxies in the much larger battle for the region and for supervision over the movement of oil.

Indeed, even without external meddling, ours is a volatile area. When the central hand of Moscow was no more, conflicts reappeared around old fault lines in Mountainous (Nagorno) Karabagh, Abkhazia, and southern Ossetia. Just over the South Caucasian borders, Russia took on its Chechen population, Turkey cracked down on its Kurdish minority, and some in the region began laying the ideological groundwork for an Azerbaijani insurrection in northwestern Iran.

External support for governments and movements for self-determination, or separation, widened conflicts in Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Chechnya. This backing took on many forms. Regional powers provided weapons, military training, intelligence, political and economic support, and sometimes military personnel. The situation has frustrated attempts to finalize any deal on oil routes and to develop regional economic integration.

In addition to these conflicts, the three Caucasus states are geographically vulnerable to pressures by regional powers. Armenia, Georgia, and Azerbaijan each have been made painfully aware of the ability of influential players to impede their access to international commerce. Attempts at economic strangulation have further pressured political leaders in Caucasian countries to abandon the development of independent policy.

If they are to build a new and improved security infrastructure in Transcaucasia and to have alternative routes for Azerbaijani and Caspian basin oil, all area actors themselves must begin effectively to address conflicts in the region and the economic and geographic fragility of the Caucasus republics. In addition, for these efforts to succeed, the international community must encourage the full participation not only of the Russian Federation and Turkey but obviously of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Russia, regardless of its political orientations and domestic choices, should be viewed as a leading partner in the affairs of the region and encouraged to maintain its constructive role there. A new formula must find the delicate equilibrium that will allow reliance on Russia’s stabilizing strength without endangering a return to a vertical future. Russia must find itself, fine-tune its policy, and assume its strategic new place in regional and world affairs.

Turkey might be encouraged to come to terms with history’s baggage and make peace with all its neighbors. To this end, it could unequivocally reject the voices that have from time to time called for Turkish expansion into Caucasia and Central Asia. Turkey does have legitimate and vital interests in the region, but the populations of the newly-independent states to its east cannot be expected to trade one outright imperial legacy for another creeping penetration.

Iran is an Islamic republic that enjoys good neighborly relations with Christian Armenia and co-religionist Azerbaijan. It has remained neutral on the Karabagh issue and has resisted certain attempts to draw it into the confrontation. Iran increasingly must be looked upon not as a force to be checked and balanced, but as a necessary participant in bilateral and multilateral initiatives for the creation of a peaceful, prosperous, and secure political environment.

In order to eliminate the geographic and economic isolation and the vulnerability of the Transcaucasian states, the international community may help develop and finance new alternative routes of communications. Viable alternative routes will constitute a disincentive to blockades and will help convert the geographic intradependence of states in the region from a destabilizing to a stabilizing factor. These channels will also create obstacles to external attempts to pressure governments by creating social conflict through economic hardship.

The community of nations, in specific cooperation with Russia, Iran, and Turkey, should look to formulate a strategic development plan for the Caucasus republics, in view of their geopolitical value and their potential as an arena for regional destabilization. With their relatively small territories and populations, as well as their abundant natural and human resources, these countries would make rapid progress if there were a serious world commitment to the area’s reconstruction and development. Prosperity in the Caucasus secured at a relatively modest price would contribute greatly to regional security and peace.

Addressing conflicts over self-determination in the Caucasus poses a much more difficult problem. In a number of these, regional powers in pursuit of their strategic interests have supported one side or another with political, economic, and military assistance and have facilitated their escalation. On their part, arms embargoes and, in most cases, diplomatic activity have proved sadly ineffectual.

Under the current situation, as long as regional and world actors continue, parallel with their situational cooperation, to jockey for their crucial interests in Caucasia, resolution of local conflicts will prove elusive. Part of the reason for this has been the inability of the parties and the international community to resolve for themselves the tension between the equally acceptable, equally applicable, and equally defensible concepts of territorial integrity of states and self-determination of nations.

While both concepts are enshrined in charters of world and regional institutions, the reality is that they sometimes clash or at least are unevenly applied based on politically expedient and interest-based calculations. The world’s powers have failed to examine conflicts concerning self-determination on a case-by-case, merit-anchored basis. This approach has only prolonged conflict and harmed the cause of peace and international security.

In the Mountainous Karabagh conflict, the people of Karabagh defended themselves and, tragically for all sides, had to win their right to govern themselves on the battlefield. It can be convincingly demonstrated that they have achieved sovereignty under both international and controlling Soviet domestic law. But because global and regional decisionmakers have not fully considered their case for decolonization and self-rule, the parties have not felt compelled to sue for final peace. Juridically and otherwise, Karabagh is not comparable with other conflict havens, is not an open and shut case and, while taking into account the rights of all parties, should not be treated as such in the search for a solution.

A case of precedential import, the Karabagh conflict remains a major destabilizing factor in the Transcaucasus and a major obstacle to the development of Azerbaijan’s oil fields and of a Turkish pipeline for Caspian basin oil. Unless the West and the East and the parties together begin realistically to address the tension between territorial integrity and self-determination in the Caucasus, conflicts along this hinge will remain an instrument of choice in the arsenal of powers at once collaborating and competing in the region.

In many ways, Armenia has been one of the keys to influence over Transcaucasia and where and how Caspian oil will flow. The cause for its geopolitical attention, however, is derived largely from the fact that it geographically divides Turkey from Azerbaijan.

Historically, Armenia’s changing, usually shrinking frontiers with Turkey have been the lines over which Turkey has sought to extend into Azerbaijan, the Turkic regions of southern Russia, and Central Asia. For Russia, these borders have been the springboard to push back Turkish policy in the area. Iran, too, has looked to Armenia as a buffer against the expansion of influence along its northern frontier and in Iranian Azarbaijan.

Beyond its importance in resumed historical rivalries, the Turkey-Armenia border is also one of the front lines in the contemporary quest for Central Asia. Among other reasons, strain and suspicion between Turkey and Armenia have dashed hopes for pipelines to bring Caspian basin petroleum through Turkey to markets in the West.

Turkey keeps its border with Armenia closed, and has deployed large numbers of troops along it. The serious boundary incidents of several years ago have recently resurfaced, and the two countries have yet to establish diplomatic relations.

Armenia and Turkey are very much prisoners of history. Without attempts to confront that history, they will continue to find themselves in opposite camps in the Transcaucasus and so help ensure opportunities for fomenting conflict and division there. Mutual mistrust between Turkey and Armenia stemming from the Armenian Genocide earlier this century therefore remains a threat to regional and Eurasian security.

Turkey cannot fathom an Armenia that may one day make claims for reparations and especially territorial restitution. Armenia cannot trust a Turkey that cannot admit the fact of genocide and that continues to posture and make threats against it.

The past has loomed large over the Karabagh conflict as well. Karabagh Armenians, unable to exorcise the ghost of the genocide and fearing total annihilation, have forged an independent existence. Meanwhile, Turkey, with history as guidepost, looks on and considers implications for itself as Armenians reclaim lands once lost to Azerbaijani rule. In this sense, the Karabagh-Azerbaijani conflict has become the vehicle through which both Turks and Armenians live out their worst fears of each other, fears rooted in the legacy of the Big Event.

Unless both Armenia and Turkey-and Azerbaijan for that matter-grapple with this bequest head on and start talking meaningfully with each other, it will hold their relations, and therefore regional and transregional security interests, hostage. As in the striking example mid-century, without international support one is unlikely to face an inconvenient past on its own; first and foremost, however, this is a matter for the parties involved.

In fact, official Armenia, landlocked, blockaded, and in dire need of land routes through Turkey, has itself attempted to skirt the issue. Armenia has hoped economic normalization could come first and eventually lead to a climate where political normalization would be possible. But avoiding the issue has only compounded distrust on both sides. Relations between the two countries in the nine years since Armenia regained its independence have always been strained.

The importance of normalization has not been lost on a variety of foreign policymakers. They have worked hard at times to help this normalization along. However, these efforts have not borne fruit because they have ignored the G-legacy as the root of reciprocal suspicion between Turkey and Armenia.

The primary argument for a brave and constructive new discourse on this world-documented calamity is overwhelming. Renewed affirmation of the fact and of a common history will provide Turkey and Armenia with an honest foundation for encountering the past, eliminating mutual mistrust, exploring their combined comparative advantages, normalizing their relations, and telling the hitherto untold story of thousands of individual Turkish heroes who risked their own lives to save Armenian victims and survivors. If nonetheless Ankara and Yerevan continue to ignore or rationalize this watershed inheritance, they will remain hostage to the past, and their bilateral relations-or the political absence thereof-will continue to play a major destabilizing role in the Caucasus, allowing third parties to pursue political agendas based on that absence.

Armenia also is not above criticism and self-critique. In terms of human resources and much more, we have lost almost as much during the nine years of our own sovereignty as under any empire. Many of our policy problems, foreign and domestic, are of our own doing and a result of a confusion between national and less-than-national interests. Being heir to an ancient culture and rich civilization is a value permanently to be treasured, but it is not an automatic guarantee of good governance and effective statecraft. The challenge for the new Armenia is to develop a political culture based on concept and principle, compromise and consensus-building, and the preeminence of vital national concerns over parochial imitations.

In summary, transregional security for all Eurasia depends on peace and stability in the Caucasus. However, current horizons for peace and a contemporary, operational security system turn on the capacity of the international community to create mechanisms to engage all area actors, primarily Russia, Iran, and Turkey, in a substantive framework for the region and its independence. There must be greater world commitment to the development of alternative routes of communication and the economic integration and prosperity of the Caucasian states. Relevant global policymakers, but most importantly the actual parties including Mountainous Karabagh, must attempt a fresh, forward-looking approach to the Karabagh conflict. Finally, by mutually addressing 1915 and beyond, governments and institutions, scholars and societies must help bring about real, not window-dressing, normalization of the bilateral relationship between Turkey and Armenia and reconciliation between their peoples.

Each of these measures will require courage, vision, and for many a break from the past. Taken together, however, they will help bring home the promise of peace and security in the Caucasus.


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Blast kills one, wounds two in Ingushetia

From: MSN NicknameEagle_wng  (Original Message)    Sent: 8/26/2005 11:08 PM

Blast kills one, wounds two in Ingushetia

Two powerful blasts seriously wounded Prime Minister Ibrahim Malsagov of Ingushetia and killed one of his bodyguards, Amir Tsichoyev, who died at hospital. Another three people, including passers-by, sustained light wounds.

According to various sources, Mr Malsagov was wounded in his hand, shank, and head.

The prime minister’s motorcade was blown up by a bomb planted on the roadside near a marketplace in Nazran’s Oltiyevo district at about 2.25 pm MSK, says ITAR-TASS.

Mr Malsagov was going to work from home after lunch. Two explosive devices were remotely detonated at an interval of 10-20 seconds on his way, Ingushetia’s acting Minister of Internal Affairs Beslan Khamkhoyev, told Interfax. The first blast occurred just 200 meters away from the prime minister’s home, says

The first blast stopped the car of the guards and the second went off right near Mr Malsagov’s car. The head of government attempted to drive himself, but he lost consciousness, according to the NTV channel.

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Russia seals pipeline deal

From: Eagle_wng

Russia seals pipeline deal
Publication time: Today at 17:59 Djokhar time

A deal that would build a pipeline linking Russian oil to the Mediterranean, avoiding the busy Bosphorus Strait in Turkey, has been agreed.

Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, will attend a signing ceremony in Greece on Thursday with Costas Karamanlis, Greece’s prime minister and Sergey Stanishev, the Bulgarian premier.

The 280km pipeline from Bulgaria’s Black Sea port of Burgas to Alexandroupolis, northern Greece, was first conceived in 1993.

Costing .2 billion, the pipeline will be 51 per cent Russian owned, leaving EU-members Bulgaria and Greece with 24.5 per cent stake each in the venture.

The Russian consortium is made up of state oil company OAO Rosneft, Transneft, and a subsidiary of state-controlled gas giant OAO Gazprom.

They will be responsible for the infrastructure, pumping stations, storage facilities and loading docks.

Claudia Kemfert, an analyst at the German Institute for Economic Research, said: “Russia already provides Europe with a third of its oil and 40 per cent of its natural gas.

“You get a strengthening of supply, but it can create higher dependency and other problems. You always have a trade-off … to avoid this we need more diversification on the supply side, and to be less dependent on Russian energy,” Kemfert said.

“We need to look more to the global market … but pipelines are not that flexible.”

The 90cm (36-inch) diameter pipeline will channel 700,000 barrels of oil a day to Greece, and have a potential capacity of 1 million barrels.

On Monday, Matthew Bryza, US deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, visited Athens and expressed support for the project.

But he said: “Where we are focusing most urgently now is diversification of gas supply … away from its one primary supplier, Gazprom.”

US officials want Greece to prioritise gas from Azerbaijan in a natural gas network being built from central Asia to Greece through Turkey that is due to continue onto Italy after 2011.

In Athens, 3,000 police have been deployed for Putin’s visit, which coincides with plans for a mass student demonstration in the Greek capital on Thursday.


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