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[Czeczenia] Trouble in North Caucasus
Tomas Valasek, Trouble in North Caucasus, "Weekly Defense Monitor" [Center for Defense Information] ,Volume 3, Issue 32 z 19 sierpnia 1999
For the second week in a row, fighting has raged in the North Caucasus region on Russia’s southernmost edge. The war began when armed troops from Chechnya stormed villages in Dagestan, a neighboring republic and a part of the Russian Federation. Russian special police forces, the army and local volunteers banded together to repel the attackers. Since August 7 the Russians have been shelling the attackers’ positions, to little avail so far. In this region, one of the most unstable and ethnically diverse in the world, no solution is ever simple—and neither are the predictions.
Chechnya, whence the attacking troops came, is only a nominal part of the Russian Federation. Since the 1996 peace agreement cemented the defeat of Russian troops, Chechnya has enjoyed a de facto independence. But instead of replacing Russian administration with an indigenous one, the republic sank into anarchy. Chechen residents, foreign workers, neighboring Georgia and other Caucasus republics became targets of numerous kidnapings, robberies and even armed excursions originating from Chechnya. So much oil has been stolen from a pipeline through Chechnya that Russia is planning a new route bypassing the troubled territory. Much of the crime is economically motivated but there is a strong religious element at play as well.
While virtually all the population of Northern Caucasus has been historically Muslim (with most of the non-Muslim population comprised of the Russians and Cossacks), radical offshoots calling for Islamic rule have taken a foothold in the Caucasus in recent years. One of their most vocal advocates is Shamil Basayev, a veteran of the Abkhazia and Chechnya wars and the head of the Congress of the Peoples of Chechnya and Dagestan, an organization fighting for independence from Russia. Basayev is leading the Chechen troops currently fighting in Dagestan on behalf of a self-proclaimed Islamic state. The guerillas claim to control about a dozen Dagestani villages on the border with Chechnya but their claims are nearly impossible to verify.
Is there a potential for another disastrous Chechnya-like defeat for Russian troops? And could militant Islam come to dominate Russia’s south? The answers depend on how the conflict play’s out among the population of Dagestan. For decades this poor republic essentially lived on subsidies from Moscow. For that reason, when their Chechen neighbors rose for independence, most Dagestanis turned their backs on them. But the flow of money from Russia slowed down to a trickle and the bond between Moscow and Dagestan weakened correspondingly. While this might generate greater support for independence than five years ago, Dagestan’s internal divisions may prevent a drive for a statehood. Unlike the ethnically nearly homogenous Chechnya, Dagestan is a patchwork of over 30 nationalities. The republic’s political scene is dominated by a handful of large and powerful ethnic groups, such as the Avars, much to the resentment of the rest of the population. Some (the Kumyks, for example) would prefer to secede from Dagestan, while the Lezgins want reunification with their brethren in Azerbaijan. Basayev’s fighters may find support among the Chechen population of Dagestan, but they only represent about 62,000 of the republic’s two million inhabitants.
The most likely scenario is a protracted conflict limited to the Dagestani-Chechen border. Russian and official Dagestani sources report that local resistance to the Chechen fighters is strong, which may prevent the conflict from spreading. Much depends on Russian conduct during the conflict. Moscow’s heavy-handed treatment of the Chechens and the indiscriminate bombing of the capital, Grozny, won more converts to the cause of Chechnya’s independence than any amount of nationalist rhetoric. Russia’s use of missiles and cluster bombs against villages in the current conflict has already drawn furious protests from neighboring Georgia, which has itself been hit by two misguided bombs during the past week.
But any predictions about the future of Caucasus, however, are notoriously difficult to make. Reports coming out of the region are routinely contradicted the same day. The true strength of the Islamic radicals in Dagestan—who in 1998 briefly seized a government building in the capital of Makhachkala—is hard to assess. Russia has recently shifted the command of the operation from the Interior Ministry to the army and sent its highest commanders to the region, indicating that Moscow is taking the fighting very seriously.
Weapons, Weapons Everywhere by Rachel Stohl, Research Analyst, Center for Defense Information
The recent spate of shootings has reignited the controversy over the availability of guns in our society. While the United States is certainly one of the world’s most heavily armed societies—estimates suggest that there are enough guns in the United States for every man, woman, and child (over 250 million)—what is more frightening is the wide availability of all kinds of weapons worldwide.
Small arms and light weapons continue to be the weapons of choice in today’s bloodiest conflicts. Although the United States and NATO relied on sophisticated weaponry in their 78-day air war on Slobodan Milosevic’s military, Kosovo Liberation Army fighters on the ground used small arms and light weapons as their main tools against a larger, better equipped Yugoslav army. Many of these weapons are now available on the world market.
According to the negotiated peace agreement and subsequent negotiations, KLA soldiers were supposed to surrender machine guns, anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons, and grenade launchers by September 20. Small arms, the majority of the KLA’s holdings, including pistols, handguns, and rifles, can be kept by the demobilized soldiers. However, it is now widely reported that Kosovo has become a virtual weapons bazaar, with everything from AK-47s to Claymore anti-personnel landmines available. Smuggled across the borders of Albania and Macedonia, former KLA fighters can provide, as advertised, anything, anywhere—for the right price.
Some of these same weapons are available in the United States, as demonstrated this month in Washington, DC—an area where 80% of homicides are committed with a gun. Local police officers in the Northeast part of the District held a highly successful amnesty and buy-back weapons collection program. After acquiring over 400 weapons, including AK-47s, shotguns, and rifles for $100 each the program had to turn people away with their weapons in hand, until more funds could be located and the program continued.
From Pristina to Washington, the international community is recognizing that small arms can tear apart the fabric of society, destroy economic growth, and devastate development. A UN report issued last week said that over 500 million guns and other small arms are available around the world, circulating from conflict to conflict, often sold to the highest bidder. The report reads, “The excessive and destabilizing accumulation and transfer of the arms and weapons is closely related to the increased incidence of internal conflicts and high levels of crime and violence.”
Consensus that there are too many weapons around the world—seven million assault rifles in West Africa alone—is relatively easy to reach. Contention arises when considering what should be done to diminish the problems caused by small arms and light weapons. Should the legal or the illicit trade be the focus of control policies?
The UN estimates that about 40% of the world’s small arms are circulated on the illicit market. That leaves 60% for legitimate trades. And the legal channels are large. The United States has exported over one million handguns to developing countries in the last three years. Last year alone the United States sold 9,300 handguns to Argentina, 24,000 to the Dominican Republic, 8,000 to El Salvador, 9,200 to Mexico, 20,400 to the Philippines, 9,650 to Thailand, and 89,000 to Venezuela. Although the United States, through statements made by Secretary of State Madeline Albright and her staff, has acknowledged the responsibility of weapons trafficking and producing nations to curb the negative effects of small arms, the United States has refused to reduce its legal arms exports. As a result, thousands of new weapons are introduced to the global market by the United States each year.
Focusing only on the illicit trade of weapons omits half the problem. Not only must the world implements policies that take weapons out of the hands of criminals and traffickers, it must seek ways to regulate the legal trading of weapons to foreign governments, businesses, and individuals. While demand for these weapons is often insatiable, increasing the supply encourages easier and unregulated access to these weapons. Down this path lies nothing but more violence and more conflict, which, in the end, will cost the United States more blood and more tragedy.
U.S. Ratification of OAS Firearms Convention Held Up in Senate by Jonathan Kaufman, Research Assistant, Center for Defense Information
In the little more than a year since the signing of the Inter-American Convention Against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Ammunition, and Other Related Materials, the Organization for American States (OAS) has faced major obstacles in implementing the Convention’s provisions. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, insists that “ratification of the Convention will help create a regime for the control of illicit trade in small arms which serves the strategic, economic, and political interests of the United States.” Yet the OAS Convention is currently stuck in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, shelved indefinitely.
The delay in ratifying the OAS Convention has nothing to do with its content. As with so many other international agreements, the OAS Convention is hostage to the U.S. political process. Senator Jesse Helms (R-NC), the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, refuses to allow debate on any treaty until the Clinton Administration submits for ratification various amendments to the Anti Ballistic Missile Treaty.
The OAS Convention is an important first step in a hemispheric effort to stem the illegal flow of small arms. The easy movement of small arms remains a major problem in much of Central and South America, even in nations where decades-old civil conflicts have been resolved. For example, the flow of small arms to Mexico from the United States—most often in connection with drug cartels—is a cause of friction between the two nations and a major source of instability in Mexico. The connection was illustrated tragically when an assassin using a gun that was eventually traced back to Texas killed presidential hopeful Luis Donaldo Colosio.
The potential effectiveness of the OAS Convention rests on its practical focus on illicit international small arms trafficking. The treaty mandates that member states keep detailed records and official documents on the import, export, and transit of small arms and obliges arms manufacturers to mark their products to make them easily traceable. Above all, it calls for an unprecedented degree of cooperation between signatories, including sharing information, joint training, joint operations (including “controlled delivery,” a technique allowing known illicit firearms consignments to proceed in an attempt to identify who is involved), and standardizing import/export licensing.
Since the OAS Convention entered into force in June 1998, efforts to block unauthorized firearms transactions in the region have increased. Mexico has expanded the authority of the Offices of the Attorney-General and the Ministry of Defense in order to facilitate government investigations into arms trafficking. In addition, the past year has brought about greater cooperation between the United States and both Jamaica and Mexico in tracking illicit firearms traffic. However, the efficacy of the OAS Convention has been impaired primarily because few member nations have actually ratified the treaty. Besides the United States, most of the South American common market (MERCOSUR) and Central American states have yet to ratify. And even in the seven state parties that have ratified—Bahamas, Belize, Bolivia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Mexico, and Peru—new firearms legislation has been slow to materialize.
Proponents hailed the OAS Convention as a potential model for global cooperation. But because so little time has passed since it entered into force, the real impact of the Convention has yet to be realized. Further, there are concerns that in focusing on the illegal trade in small arms, OAS states might overlook the need to restrict legal arms trafficking. Without such measures, many feel that the proliferation of small arms will continue unabated.
Although it has not ratified the OAS Convention, the United States provides support for and conducts arms control programs in Latin America through the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement, U.S. Customs, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (BATF). Liaison for these joint operations is done by attaches in Mexico, Colombia and Canada. Furthermore, the few changes to U.S. arms control protocols necessary to ensure U.S. compliance with the OAS Convention have been made. These amendments include stricter documentation requirements for arms exports to Canada and the adoption of model regulations developed by the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD) on the information necessary for obtaining an arms import, export, or transit license. According to a State Department official, these minor modifications are not a significant departure from previous U.S. licensing requirements.
What the OAS Convention studiously avoids is the question of civilian ownership and possession of firearms. Some attribute this omission to the participation of the National Rifle Association (NRA) in the convention drafting process. Critics charge that the NRA’s main objective was to ensure that the text would contain no recommendations for modifying existing domestic gun laws. The result is a treaty which uses the bilateral programs the U.S. conducts in Latin America as a model for regional cooperative efforts as OAS states try to improve and harmonize their arms control measures. The OAS Convention would not require the United States to make significant changes to domestic laws, so when ratification finally moves forward there is little doubt that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will ratify the OAS Convention expeditiously. Although the consequences of U.S. ratification of the Convention might be more symbolic than practical, ratification could encourage many other hold-outs to ratify, thus enabling the U.S. to assert leadership in arms control in the Western Hemisphere.
In the end, success of the OAS Convention will depend on the willingness of the member states to give the necessary resources and legislative attention to monitoring arms sales. The recent increase in collective action is encouraging, but all OAS states will have to speed the ratification process and fully support any cooperative efforts if illicit arms trafficking is to be controlled. In the United States this means that Senator Helms should reconsider his stance and allow debate on the Convention to proceed. Full compliance with the OAS Convention will encourage further, more far-reaching arms control measures that will be in the best interests of the United States.
CDI’s “Briefing Room”
Division Plagues Yugoslav Opposition — Although groups opposing the rule of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic have successfully organized a series of protest rallies, including a massive one in Belgrade on August 19, their efforts to topple Milosevic’s rule have been weakened by infighting. The three main opposition blocks are the Alliance for Change, the Serbian Renewal Movement, and the Movement for a Democratic Serbia. Some of the most prominent opposition representatives refused to speak at the August 19 rally.
KLA Faces Deadline — Thursday, August 19 marks the deadline for the Kosovo Liberation Army to turn over a further 30 percent of its small automatic arms, bringing the total of its weapons surrendered to 60 percent so far. The “Undertaking of Demilitarization and Transformation by the UCK,” signed on June 20th by NATO and KLA (also known as UCK) representatives, calls for all automatic weapons to be surrendered within 90 days of signing.
Probe Clears Navy of Hiding Super Hornet Problems — The Department of Defense’s Inspector General has cleared the Navy of allegations that it withheld critical testing information regarding the development of the F/A-18E/F “Super Hornet” fighter plane from DoD officials until after a decision was made regarding continued production of the aircraft. The production decision came at a time that the service was attempting to address a problem with the aircraft, known as “wing drop,” which causes the wings to dip dangerously during certain combat maneuvers. For background on the F/A-18E/F’s “wing drop” problem, see,“Navy’s Super Hornet Suffers Setback,” (http://www.cdi.org/weekly/1997/Issue21/#1) CDI’s Weekly Defense Monitor, Volume 1, Issue #21, December 11, 1997.
UAE F-16 Sale Moving Ahead — The deal for 80 Lockheed Martin F-16s between the United States and United Arab Emirates (UAE) is moving forward after hitting repeated stumbling blocks. The deal, estimated at $8 billion, has taken over a year to negotiate and had been hung up on the configuration of Electronic Warfare (EW) suites. The UAE wanted to ensure they were receiving the most sophisticated EW suites available. Notification of the sale will be submitted to Congress in October, with approval most likely coming one month later.
New Guidelines for “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Policy — On August 13 the Pentagon issued new guidelines intended to strengthen the Clinton Administration’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy for homosexuals in the military and reduce harassment of gays and lesbians. The changes come in the wake of the killing of Private Barry Winchell, who was beaten to death allegedly by a fellow soldier because he was gay. The new guidelines require all military personnel to undergo anti-harassment training beginning in boot camp, and will require officers to consult with senior legal officers before undertaking investigations of suspected gays, particularly when the investigation is the result of a “tip” from another soldier.
wersja do wydruku
Michael Emerson, Approaches to the Stabilisation of the Caucasus, "Caucasian Regional Studies", Volume 5, Issue 1 & 2, 2000
Alexandru Liono, The Chechen Problem: Sources, Developments and Future Prospects, "Caucasian Regional Studies", Volume 5, Issue 1 & 2, 2000
Raimon Panikkar, The Dharma of India, World Affairs, Vol. 6, Number 1 (January-March 2002)
Marin Strmecki, Bush's Approach to North Korea is Appropriate and Necessary, The PacNet Newsletter 2002, The Center for Strategic and International Studies z 27 lutego 2002
Jon B. Wolfsthal, North Korea: Hard Line is Not the Best Line, Proliferation Brief, Vol. 4, No. 2 (Los Angeles Times z 7 marca 2001)
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