Chechnya after the war. A grim future
Konstantin asks why no-one ever considers what would come after a Chechen peace-deal with Russia. He considers it for them, and comes to the unhappy conclusion that the conflict would become just another civil war, with Kadyrov, Maskhadov and Basayev all fighting for overall control:
The most obvious answer Basayev will try to get power and make Chechnya a fundamentalist Islam republic a safe heaven for bin Laden and al Quada. So, a new bloody war will start. Second, will Kadyrov clan agree to pass the power in Chechnya to Maskhadov? No matter what newspapers say, the Kadyrovs is not just a group of pro-Kremlin collaborators. Its a very big clan that includes hundreds of families related to each other. He sees an equally glum future if Russia negotiates a settlement bringing Maskhadov back to power, arguing that the Kadyrov clan will never surrender it willingly.
Ultimately, he concludes, the only solution for Chechnya is to split the country into three.
It’s an interesting idea, although with one major problem. Chechnya is pretty damn small. Estimates of its population vary due to the war, but it only around one million. At this size, an independent Chechnyan state would face serious viability issues, and I shudder to think of the problems that three states with populations of around 300,000 apiece woud face. They would have little option but to become client states of one or another major power and would, in all likelihood, become almost entirely reliant on crime for their income – an outcome which is frankly in the interests of no-one.
A federal solution would, in my opinion, face similar difficulties. Federations rising from the ashes of civil war are few and far between. Depressingly, Bosnia is the most successful example I can think of and, although Bosnia is at peace, the federation is in name only. In reality, it’s federal constituents work as independent states. Without external pressure holding it together the federation would collapse like the house of cards it is. The emnity between the different groups in Chechnya is too great to persuade them to work together to form a peacetime administration. Even though Basayev and Maskhadov are able – to an extent – to work together today, their alliance is based almost entirely on the maxim of "my enemy’s enemy is my friend" and is almost certain to collapse when they no longer need each other for support.
Despite this, however, I still can’t see any better solution for Chechnya. The chances of some kind of government of national unity emerging in this war-torn region are pretty much zero. Just leaving Chechens to fight out their civil war to the bitter end is more likely to produce a bloody stalemate than a clear victor. And it’s clear that Russia is simply not strong enough to provide Kadyrov with enough support to ensure his clear-cut victory.
OK. Now I’m depressed. Anyone got any better ideas for Chechnya?