Recently, 92Y Blog alerted us about a four part series on Russia’s ongoing battle in the Caucasus. Though what little news on the region which makes it into the western media tends to concentrate on Chechnya, the insurgency has essentially spread to become an entire “Caucasus front” no longer limited to one area.
The town of Nalchik in the Caucasus region has long been a vacation resort. Since the middle of October, however, it has hosted a war. But it’s not alone in the region. The town is just the latest addition to a long list of hot spots in the region including Grozny, Beslan and Dagestan. It has become a breeding ground of terror.
The city of Nalchik in the Caucasus has been a resort city since 1928. It boasts 80 degree Celsius (176 degree Fahrenheit) hot springs, fresh mountain air, boulevards perfect for afternoon strolls, and outdoor restaurants that serve tender, grilled lamb. The snow-covered double peak of Mt. Elbrus, the tallest mountain in Europe, presents a dramatic and majestic backdrop to the city.
Russians, of course, have long known about Nalchik, the capital of the Republic of Kabardino-Balkariya. And for the past two weeks, so too has the rest of the world. But for all the wrong reasons. The walls of buildings along Lenin Boulevard are now perforated by missile fire. Staff at the city’s three hospitals tend to the wounded, and the morgue in the Dubki neighborhood is filled to capacity.
The Second Chechnyan War has been fought since October 1999 and shows no signs of letting up and instead has increasingly become a magnet for international terrorists using it as another front of global jihad and a perfect place to to gain experience and training before moving on to other fights and/or terrorist operations. Every year sees another “graduating class” of terrorists whose first hand experience makes not only them dangerous, but those they will go on to train. The longer the Caucasian war goes on, the less of a chance there is that a sustainable peace can be worked out. Similar to the West Bank and Gaza, the conflict has spilled over into the region and drawn in international support and like them, even if serious negotiations were to take place with secular nationalists, the hardliners and Islamists would continue to wage their way thus rendering any real end to the conflict impossible.
Jamestown’s Chechnya Weekly is out with more information. Radio Free Europe also has more questions than answers about Nalchik and Intellibriefs has some history on the area. As usual, perhaps the best resource for more is Global Security while Lebanon’s Daily Star has some analysis on why Russia is Europe’s “sick man.”