Conflict in the Caucasus: An historical context and a prospect for peace

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<ul><li><p>This article was downloaded by: [Case Western Reserve University]On: 29 October 2014, At: 10:56Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registeredoffice: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK</p><p>Central Asian SurveyPublication details, including instructions for authors andsubscription information:</p><p>Conflict in the Caucasus: An historicalcontext and a prospect for peaceRobert Bruce Ware aa Southern Illinois University , Edwardsville, IL, USAPublished online: 13 Sep 2007.</p><p>To cite this article: Robert Bruce Ware (1998) Conflict in the Caucasus: An historical context anda prospect for peace, Central Asian Survey, 17:2, 337-352, DOI: 10.1080/02634939808401040</p><p>To link to this article:</p><p>PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLE</p><p>Taylor &amp; Francis makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of all the information (theContent) contained in the publications on our platform. However, Taylor &amp; Francis,our agents, and our licensors make no representations or warranties whatsoeveras to the accuracy, completeness, or suitability for any purpose of the Content. Anyopinions and views expressed in this publication are the opinions and views of theauthors, and are not the views of or endorsed by Taylor &amp; Francis. The accuracy ofthe Content should not be relied upon and should be independently verified withprimary sources of information. Taylor and Francis shall not be liable for any losses,actions, claims, proceedings, demands, costs, expenses, damages, and other liabilitieswhatsoever or howsoever caused arising directly or indirectly in connection with, inrelation to or arising out of the use of the Content.</p><p>This article may be used for research, teaching, and private study purposes. Anysubstantial or systematic reproduction, redistribution, reselling, loan, sub-licensing,systematic supply, or distribution in any form to anyone is expressly forbidden. Terms</p><p></p></li><li><p>&amp; Conditions of access and use can be found at</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Cas</p><p>e W</p><p>este</p><p>rn R</p><p>eser</p><p>ve U</p><p>nive</p><p>rsity</p><p>] at</p><p> 10:</p><p>56 2</p><p>9 O</p><p>ctob</p><p>er 2</p><p>014 </p><p></p></li><li><p>Central Asian Survey (1998), 17(2), 337-352</p><p>Conflict in the Caucasus: anhistorical context and a prospect forpeaceROBERT BRUCE WARE*</p><p>In this article current strife in the Caucasus is placed in an historical context.Russo-Soviet policies of separatism and federalism are viewed as contributing toethnic conflicts that now threaten the further fragmentation of Russia. However,Daghestan is considered as an anomaly of ethnic accommodation and pragmaticmulticulturalism which may provide a model for peace in the region.</p><p>Few areas of the world display greater complexity of ethnic relations than theCaucasus, and there are few with greater long-term strategic significance. Lyingalong a gauntlet of rugged mountain peaks connecting two inland seas, it is thefrontier that separates Eastern Europe from the Asiatic steppes; the border ofOrthodoxy and Islam; the barrier between Byzantine, Ottoman, Persian andRussian empires; and all but inevitably an arena of imperial strife and multina-tional conflict. Over three millennia of the region's written history, the Caucasushas witnessed incessant struggles between warring clans, religious confessions,states and empires. Throughout these waves of immigration, the region's alpinevalleys have fostered an extraordinary diversity of cultures and languagescurrently with more than 40 distinct ethnic groups, some unable to communicatewith their closest neighbours.</p><p>In keeping with the circumstances of its history and geography, the contem-porary strategic significance of the Caucasus derives from its very large reservesof fossil fuel; from its potential location for pipelines bringing oil and gas to theWest from Central Asia; and from the strategic interest concerns of powersincluding Russia, Turkey, Iran and the United States. According to one observer,the 'Caucasus has become the new "Black" Silk Roadthe transportation routefor oil from the Caspian Sea to the Black Sea and markets in Europeand theperception in the region is that whoever controls the Caucasus will control thepipelines'.1 More broadly at issue is the drift of the Turkic buffer zone from theMiddle East to China, with repercussions for balances of power in Europe aswell as Asia. All contenders have sought to advance their interests through theexploitation of the region's ethnic faultlines.</p><p>Currently Moscow hopes to prevent other powers from establishing separatespheres of regional influence, and is committed particularly to controlling the</p><p>Robert Bruce Ware is at Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville, IL, USA.*The author is grateful for assistance from Enver Kisriev, Zulfia Kisrieva-Ware and Ned Walker.</p><p>0263-4937/98/020337-16 1998 Society for Central Asian Studies</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Cas</p><p>e W</p><p>este</p><p>rn R</p><p>eser</p><p>ve U</p><p>nive</p><p>rsity</p><p>] at</p><p> 10:</p><p>56 2</p><p>9 O</p><p>ctob</p><p>er 2</p><p>014 </p></li><li><p>ROBERT BRUCE WARE</p><p>influence of Turkey, Iran and Islamic Fundamentalism. Additionally, Moscowseeks to prevent the further fragmentation of the Russian federation; secure itsstrategically important borders with Iran and Turkey; guarantee its access tomilitary and industrial facilities of the former Soviet Union; and promoteRussian exports.</p><p>Ironically, present tensions in the Caucasus, which threaten Russia's furtherfragmentation, may be viewed, in part, as deriving from the history of Russo-So-viet policies of separatism, federalism, and ethnic nationalism. It will be usefulto survey this history, and the current tensions to which it has contributed, beforeconsidering Daghestan as an anomaly of ethnic accommodation, which draws,conversely, upon a history of pragmatic multinationalism, and which maysuggest a model for peace in the region.</p><p>Historical context</p><p>By the eighteenth century Russia had acquired the Stavropol region and beguna series of violent incursions into the Caucasus. It established a presence in theregion with the construction of a military outpost at Mozdok (now in NorthOssetia) in 1763, which precipitated a century of conflict with the highlanders ofthe region. In its struggle to establish its power, Moscow exploited the ethnicdiversity of the region through a strategy of 'divide and rule'. Stronger groups,such as the Circassians, were subdivided among a number of artificial ethnicitiesthat stressed previously subsidiary ethno-linguistic distinctions. Other Russianpolicies favoured Christians in Armenia, Georgia and Ossetia over the region'sIslamic population, and settled Cossacks in the territories of numerous ethnicgroups. The Transcaucasus fell under Russian control long before the EasternCaucasus had been subdued. Resistance in the latter region drew upon a potentcombination of Islamic and clan-based solidarity together with the self-reliantindividualism and egalitarianism that traditionally characterized 'free societies'in the area. In the East Caucasus it was tribal federations, not national groups,that determined to fight Russian expansion.</p><p>By local standards, the second half of the nineteenth century was peaceful, butthe civil war brought widespread regional conflict and some of the most bitterencounters of the period. Though the Bolsheviks initially were opposed tofederalism, it nonetheless provided a framework for managing and incorporatingthe nationalist movements that appeared on the periphery of the Russian empireas it approached its collapse. The traditional 'divide and conquer' strategy whichhad served the consolidation of that empire was consequently reflected in the1918 Constitution of the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic (RSFSR),which characterized the new state as a 'free union of free nations, a federationof Soviet national republics'.2 As Pipes has observed, Soviet Russia was 'the firstmodern state to place the national principle at the base of its federal system'.3</p><p>The Mountain Republic (Gorskaia Respublica), which lasted from 1918to 1921, drew upon a common gorski (mountaineer) identity in an effortto unite the North Caucasian peoples within a loose confederation. In January</p><p>338</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Cas</p><p>e W</p><p>este</p><p>rn R</p><p>eser</p><p>ve U</p><p>nive</p><p>rsity</p><p>] at</p><p> 10:</p><p>56 2</p><p>9 O</p><p>ctob</p><p>er 2</p><p>014 </p></li><li><p>CONFLICT IN THE CAUCASUS</p><p>1921, following the Bolshevik conquest of the region, it was established as theAutonomous Soviet Mountain Republic, including Ingush, Kabard, Balkar,Karachai, Chechen and Osset districts. At the same time, the peoples ofDaghestan were combined into a separate Daghestan Autonomous Republic.But whereas Daghestan began with a consolidation of ethnic groups, theMountain Republic was quickly dissolved into separate national units.</p><p>Beginning in 1922, it was partitioned among the Adygei, Chechen, Karachai-Cherkessian and Kardino-Backarian Autonomies. The dissolution of the Moun-tain Republic was completed in 1924, when its remaining territories weredivided into the North Ossetian and Ingush Autonomous regions. As a conse-quence of this process of ethnic fragmentation, schools and infrastructuredeteriorated in many areas.</p><p>These divisions were based upon the administrative, economic, and securityconcerns of the central authority, and not on concern for the locals. Accordingto A. Avtorkhanov,4 the emigre Chechen historian, the fragmentation of theMountain Republic into ethno-linguistic units was initiated by Moscow, moti-vated by a policy of dividing a rebellious population, and decidedly opposed byNorth Caucasian leaders. By fragmenting the Mountain Republic, and bysubsequently stressing cultural, linguistic and religious distinctions among itspeoples, Moscow sought to diminish the threat of a North Caucasian allianceagainst Soviet power. The same policies later permitted Soviet ethnographers toinsist that the North Caucasian nations were separated into several autonomousregions because their diversity rendered them incapable of peaceful coexistence.5</p><p>Yet according to Soviet scholars N. G. Volkova and L. I. Lavsov,6 the identityof North Caucasian inhabitants in the decades after the civil war was character-ized, not by nationalist aspirations, but by localized clan consciousness whichwas complemented by an awareness of the encompassing North Caucasiangorski society.</p><p>Ethnic policy during this period owed much to Stalin, whose position as thefirst People's Commissary-General made him effectively Minister of Nationali-ties. In his 1913 article on 'Marxism and the National Question', Stalin hadcombined ethnicity, territory and political administration within a conception ofthe national state. This was translated into actuality in 1922 when the establish-ment of the Soviet Union provided an elaborate, if often arbitrary, administrativehierarchy of ethno-territorial units.7 In the North Caucasus, these administrativeboundaries were repeatedly redefined throughout three subsequent decades.These adjustments occurred in response to insurrections among many of thenational groups, insurrections which were themselves the result of the fragmen-tation process and its effect upon ethnic land holdings.8 In this way, Sovietethnic policy in the Caucasus contributed to a vicious cycle of vertical fragmen-tation and horizontal conflict which progressively has consumed the region to thepresent day.</p><p>In the 1920s and 1930s the Soviets launched a number of programmesdesigned to develop ethnic identities in the Caucasus through national languageschools, newspapers, theatres, etc. By the mid-1920s languages were standard-</p><p>339</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Cas</p><p>e W</p><p>este</p><p>rn R</p><p>eser</p><p>ve U</p><p>nive</p><p>rsity</p><p>] at</p><p> 10:</p><p>56 2</p><p>9 O</p><p>ctob</p><p>er 2</p><p>014 </p></li><li><p>ROBERT BRUCE WARE</p><p>ized and alphabets were newly formulated in Latin script. The relative in-significance of ethnic identities during this period was indicated by the initialindifference of mountain residents, whether peasants or intelligentsia, to thedevelopment of exclusive national cultures. At the time, the North Caucasianpeoples shared a cultural heritage that transcended their fragmentation along thelines of administrative, ethnic, linguistic, tribal and clan divisions. According toOrmrod, the inhabitants of this society 'exhibited little consciousness of them-selves as members of their officially recognized national groups'.</p><p>Yet while radical nationalism was suppressed, ethnic identity was reinforcedthrough cultural development programmes, through ethno-territorial organiza-tions, and through a system of internal passports (introduced in 1932) whichdocumented the ethnic origin of every citizen. Zaslavsky explains that the</p><p>institutionalization of ethnicity created the prerequisites necessary for pursuing an ethnicpolicy which combined divisive measures and integrative techniques to prevent theorganization of alliances between neighbouring ethnic groups, to undermine the capacity ofany existing ethnic group to act as a unified entity, and to co-opt the crucial sectors withineach ethnic population into the Soviet regime.</p><p>These policies were consolidated in the Soviet Constitution of 1936. In theCaucasus, the constitution recognized five autonomous republics (Abkhazia,Checheno-Ingushetia, Daghestan, Kabardino-Balkaria, and North Ossetia) andthree autonomous districts (South Ossetia, Karachai-Cherkessia and Adygei).</p><p>In 1942-43 complete communities of Balkars, Chechens, Ingush and Karachaiwere deported under appalling conditions to Soviet Central Asia, on looselysupported allegations of collaboration with the Nazis. Their territories wereallocated to other North Caucasian administrative units. Members of othergroups were sometimes forcibly resettled in their homes. Though the republicsof Checheno-Ingushetia, Kabardino-Balkaria and the District of Karachai-Cherkessia were re-established in 1957, and though many deportees returned,this bitter period raised extremely contentious issues that have yet to be resolved.</p><p>Following Stalin's death, there was a wave of ethnic radicalization in regionssuch as the North Caucasus, which can be traced to the Soviet strategy ofmanaging a multinational state. According to Lapidus and Walker,</p><p>(t)he design of the Soviet state as a federation of ethno-territorial 'union republics' thatwere, symbolically if not in fact, national states, both reified nationality as a central aspectof individual identity and created a setting in which liberalization would catalyze ethno-na-tional mobilization.</p><p>The national faultlines along which the Soviet state was structured revealed theirfundamental instability following Gorbachev's reforms. Both the political andthe economic thrusts of these reforms played critical roles in the emergence ofnationalism as a powerful political force in the perestroika period. On the onehand, glasnost...</p></li></ul>


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