Ali Omar Ermes, Friday 10 March 2000
When I thought of writing for Q news about issues of importance to the Muslim community in Britain and society at large, then, I had so many burning thoughts and boiling questions, that all became so crowded thus hard to select the right ones to start with, and to tell you the truth, I was at a loss.
Is it going to be this blatant daydream tax of the two times a week lottery? With its unholy practices which have swept the nation and with it some of the Muslim community’s poorest, an issue of considerable importance.
Or, is it some of these newly set-up financial companies, taking advantage of Islam’s anti-usury stand as a cover, without being able to keep to Islam’s standard, or able to deliver to people who need it most?
Or, is it this vast pool of talents of the Muslim community; which are being used, but not properly recognised; in art, science, sport, business, community, and social works, etc, to name but a few!
Or, is it the more urgent item of Muslim victimisation in numerous parts of the world?! (In spite of the fact that Muslims refuse and resist to look at themselves as victims or allow others to treat them as such). Take the plight of the Chechens for example; who in this harsh winter can imagine the suffering of the average human being in Chechnya, moreover to stand idol, while the thousands of fleeing refugees most are women and children, are being frozen to death on the hills or on the borders of Ingushetia, but we all do! Do we not?!
Or the people who are unable to flee among them, the old and the frail, the sick, the disable, etc, with very little food, very little fuel and no medicine, crammed in their cold, damp and dark basements with nobody to feel their pain, to hear their cries and to treat their diseases. These powerless people have been left to face up to the power of a drunken rage of a savage unruly army of Moscow. Who spend their leisure time between drinking and bombarding everything in sight and scavenging at what is left of the property destroyed by their gunships’ missiles after killing women, children, the old and everything that moves.
Weighing all sides, and for its worth, I felt as most reasonable people do that Chechnya is immediate and it is moving fast and the blatant murder of all Chechens is evident, so much as this Russian war machine is able and as long as the trembling soldiers of Moscow and their drunken generals can stand upright to give the next firing order.
The clear genocidal mandate obtained by the Russian generals to cleanse Chechnya from its people is equaled only by what Russia already did twice before. Russia has ethnically cleansed this part of the world twice in the recent past.
History reveals that Stalin (Footnote 1) managed to cleanse millions of Muslims from the Caucasus and the Crimea and scatter them all over Siberia and other parts of the Soviet Union, managing in his stride to liquidate millions in the process, all with the full knowledge of the 20th century West. Before Stalin, the Tsars of 18th and 19th century Russia were doing the same routine more than once.
Back to present time, looking at this from another perspective, and to minimise casualties from both sides, if Yeltsin is confident and justified, following the wise saying: ‘every little thing helps’, I suggest that Yeltsin calls on the leader of the so-called rebels to meet face to face in the middle of Grozny Square (this can be obtained if Yeltsin gives the rebel leader an offer he cannot refuse!) and fight it out there and then and see if Yeltsin can finish all the Chechens’ dreams of independence with a swift blow from his famous “Steady” hand. (I know this is not funny but the irony is there for everyone to see). (Note: since this article was written Yeltsin resigned and appointed Putin as interim president and successor). We all have learned that Putin is a KGB man and his ruthless career is evident in his handling of Chechnya so far.
Thus the glory of the Russian empire with its 150 million-plus population, 17 million sq kilometers of land, and it's million and a half army. All this is hanging on a thread while Russia is indulging itself in conquering a few sq kilometers in Chechnya less than a stamp size land in the Caucasus, destroying everything standing. I wonder how the next Christian Millennium is to begin? Since the last two Millenniums are ending on this conclusion: a mixture of hypocrisy, deceit, opportunism and sheer cowardice (no offense to the Messiah “peace be upon him” and his followers).
None of these tons of fireworks burnt off in the last few weeks, neither all these millions of gallons of beer, wines, and spirits which have been drained by millions of feasting lads and lasses, (they must be helping the environmental cause! or are they?) are able to smokescreen this aggression against Chechnya. More and more we learn about Yeltsin’s desperate search for a cover-up successor, to rescue himself and his family, from the mess he made of Russia, and the brute force used against small ethnic groups like the Chechens (somebody has to pay!).
Not forgetting the financial mismanagement, and the corruption he protected if not created. The more we know about that, some cynics might say, the more we are able to guess who was behind the staged act of bombing some residential areas in Moscow and other cities and the more we are capable to understand why the mighty KGB was not able to find the people who were behind these savage and inhumane acts.
Conventionally they were able to allegedly accuse the Chechens without a shred of evidence insight so far, hence some analysts suggested in the news that, president Yeltsin wanted to create the chance for someone to take over power after him in Russia who was willing and able to cover his tracks after he leaves the Kremlin, and protect his interests against future retributions. This he lately has succeeded in doing.
Finally, let us put this into perspective; we have two clear situations opposite to each other here. The first one is that of a big and mighty power called Russia, with its 150 million population, 17 million-plus kilometers square land and its powerful army of one million and a half soldiers, the ‘Red Army’ as it used to be called, well equipped with conventional and nuclear powers; blasting away a small ethnic minority, in their own country: Chechnya, without anybody raising a finger in objection or an eye browse in anger which must be read as another sign of Russia’s power.
On the other hand, and on the opposite side we have a very small country with half to one million people living in a very harsh mountainous areas; the size of the whole country is less than twenty thousand kilo square meters, with a fighting army estimated at 1500-2000 fighters as estimated by the Russians themselves (allegedly called the rebels) equipped with light personal arms plus whatsoever they could capture from their enemy of light weapons, …and Russia still calls this a war! How come? …unless we dismiss all conventional ideas about war conditions and rules.
Therefore I cant understand on what moral or objective basis would a big power as Russia gives herself the right to attack a small and poor region, like Chechnya, since the Chechen people do not want to have anything to do with Russia, and have spent decades resisting the Russian occupation. (Here I am tempted to mention the East Timor case to show the double standard – blatant and ugly, between these two cases, so close in time and circumstance).
The question still stands on what moral or objective basis the world community or if you must, the big powers, allows this to go on as it did. The point is: if the big powers can see this phenomenon eye to eye without smelling a rat, or is it a few of them rats, without doing the right thing about it, some old hand might say do these big powers know the right thing, or are they willing to do it? Never mind!
If not readdressing the unbalanced military power between Russia and Chechnya, cant we readdress the political decision making means and tools? Therefore, if it is the same to you and in the name of sanity and in the name of all decent human beings who supposedly are equal citizens of this world – we demand, a Security Council seat to be given to Chechnya immediately. (ha ha laughter) and furthermore, a seat with the eight most wealthy nations of the world as well (or is this an unreasonable thing to ask?! if I may?!).
That is of course if we can rescue Chechnya before the big man in Moscow blasts it out of the map and with it all hope of peaceful coexistence in the third Christian Millennium, otherwise, we always can blame the weak. It is free to blame the weak.
Footnote 1: Encyclopedia Britannica (ready reference and Index). During the mid-1940s and once again early 1950s Stalin was responsible for the dispersal of Muslims in the Caucasus and other regions.
Ladies and Gentlemen, before I begin, I would like to remind you that this is a multi-dimensional subject, filled with contradictory issues, concerning approx 300 million people, 22 nations and an anciently, enduring but remarkably modern language. Although in this short space of time, I will only give a general feel of the matter. During the late part of the 1970s, there were a few Arab media outlets such as Al Arab and Asharq al Awsat newspapers and Al-Majaleh magazine that started to appear but it is generally agreed upon that 1980s was the decade that witnessed the birth of the British Arab media.