By Sebastian Smith
Publish yr note: First released in 1998
Ancient visitors known as the Caucasus the mountain of languages. Greeks, Persians, Romans, Goths, Arabs, Mongols and Turks have all undergone the zone; poets and artists were encouraged via its rugged attractiveness and but its background is a sad one - for hundreds of years it's been ravaged by means of nearly non-stop conflict. each 50 years, it sort of feels, Russia makes an attempt to take keep an eye on of this highly strategic a part of the realm - sandwiched because it is among Iran, Turkey and Russia and crossed by means of one of the most worthwhile oil pipelines on the planet.
The newest clash to brush around the region all started while Vladimir Putin invaded Chechnya in 1999. hundreds of thousands of Russian squaddies and hundreds of thousands extra Chechens - either rebels and civilians - died and Chechnya's cities and towns have been bombed past popularity. Sebastian Smith travelled to Chechnya in this interval.
A mix of travelogue, heritage and battle journalism, Allah's Mountains tells the tale of the clash among this country of mountain tribes and the may well of the Russian military. A relocating instance of ways background could be written. Smith's account of the old historical past to the clash reads like a singular, yet higher, since it additionally has the intimacy and immediacy of an eyewitness account. He has given us a memorable, well-researched account of a above all terrible struggle. - Literary evaluation this can be a riveting booklet, written with nearly seemless beauty. - foreign Affairs
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Additional info for Allah's Mountains: The Battle for Chechnya
One of the most famous was Zelimkhan, who died in Chechnya early in the 20th century. A shrapnel-chipped statue of him with his horse stands today outside Serzhen Yurt, a village bombed flat in 1995 by Russian artillery and planes in the foothills of the Caucasus. Dakha Gaisultan, a local amateur historian who clearly liked his subject, told me that Zelimkhan’s career started when a quarrel with the Russianinstalled village head over a girl escalated into a blood feud. Zelimkhan and his father were arrested and taken to Grozny by the Russians.
They also have the greatest access to foreign funding, which means power, and the greatest propensity to carry out terrorist attacks. On the other hand, the puritanical Islamicists have almost no support from Chechen society in general, which practises a localised Sufi tradition and has little time for outsiders. It is also seldom mentioned that in practical terms Chechnya is not a simple place for foreign mercenaries or volunteers to reach. There is no real equivalent of the Pakistani border with Afghanistan.
Maybe the Chechen raiders, as Basayev boasted, did want to establish a fundamentalist Islamic state stretching to the Caspian Sea, and in so doing triggered Russian reprisal. On the other hand, Basayev the military man would have known very well that the bare, rocky slopes of Dagestan (as opposed to the forests of Chechnya) would make a poor place to defend against Russian helicopters and jets. So it is also possible that the whole Dagestan affair was really just a diversionary attack by the Chechens in order to win time before the long-planned Russian assault on their own territory.