Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Chechnya and Arcs of Instabilities

My Arcs of Instabilities

One of the several paper presentations I saw at the Association of American Geographers' convention in Chicago was Examining the Geo-Political Development of Extremism in Chechnya after the fall of the Soviet Union by Mary Swalligan of Kent State University.

Ms. Swalligan gave a general overview of developments and world influences in Chechnya after the First and Second Chechen War. Also discussed was how Russia views the Global War on Terrorism.

Chechnya fought its first war against the Russian Federation in the early and mid-1990s. The land empire of Russia, after losing many of the former Soviet Socialist Republics, refused to grant Chechnya its independence. War broke out after criminal elements took over the local government and declared independence. The nature of the war was a factionary war based on political backings. In 1995 President Yeltsin of Russia declared a cease-fire and a semi-independent, Russian backed government was installed in Chechnya.

In the period between 1995 and 1999 was one of change. Wahhabists from Saudi Arabia began to set up a network of social aide stations and madrassas. In the neighboring republics and in Chechnya itself Islamists recruited followers and began a campaign of terror against Russia.

The second war broke out after Islamists arose against the Russian-backed government. The attack on a theater, where Chechnya terrorists dressed like Islamists and waved Arabic flags, was a sign of increased influence of Islamists in the area. The war continues today in low intensity but constantly fought battles.

The second part of the paper was dedicated to Russia's view on the Global War on Terrorism. While President Bush actively supports democracy, Russia has been a cautious defender of the Arab states. Willing to oppose the War in Iraq, negotiate with Hamas and Iran are some examples of Putin's real politics. The catch phrase in the United States is Axis of Evil while Russia sees an Arc of Instability from Morocco to the Southern Philippines.

I saw a problem with paper at the end. Ms. Swalligan believed in order to win in Chechnya; Russia must take a softer military approach while rebuilding the local economy. I went into TDAXP mode and pointed out that like in Iraq, the terrorists would attack the local networks of society and the rebuilding. The only way to win would be not only to rebuild the networks but also wage a fierce war against the terrorists and keep them on the run.

As for the Arc of Instability I have an interesting theory. I purpose four Arcs. One by Chechnya, one in the Mideast from Saudi Arabia and Syria to Pakistan, one along the edge of the Sahara Desert to Bangladesh, and the final one from the Thailand, to the Philippines, to Indonesia. I call these the Arcs of Instability. Not too original but it works.

The middle arc (the Mideast) must be the primal goal. This area is the heart of Islamism and with Saudi Arabia the financer of many terrorist operations. Continuing to press democracy and fighting terrorists is the modus operandi here. If we win here everywhere else will be a cake walk.

The northern arc can be handled by Russia. Supporting economic development and fighting terrorists will win the battle here.

The southern arc has to be an international effort. Military operations can be minimal in this area. Foreign investment, globalization, and other cooperative efforts can kill the weed of Islamistism before it blooms.

The eastern arc is the least pressing arc. Islamists actions are still low level (attacks on churches, kidnapping, and alike). By pressing the popular culture to reject these actions, and globalized investments can prevent anything serious. Military action against these thugs should be stepped up with idea of quick victory.

To win we must take on these arcs individually and separately.

Category: Geopolitics

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