By Sebastian Smith
Publish yr note: First released in 1998
Ancient travelers referred to as the Caucasus the mountain of languages. Greeks, Persians, Romans, Goths, Arabs, Mongols and Turks have all gone through the area; poets and artists were encouraged by way of its rugged good looks and but its background is a sad one - for hundreds of years it's been ravaged by way of nearly non-stop conflict. each 50 years, it sort of feels, Russia makes an attempt to take regulate of this highly strategic a part of the realm - sandwiched because it is among Iran, Turkey and Russia and crossed by means of the most worthy oil pipelines on this planet.
The most modern clash to comb 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, background and warfare journalism, Allah's Mountains tells the tale of the clash among this country of mountain tribes and the may of the Russian military. A relocating instance of ways historical past will be written. Smith's account of the historic history to the clash reads like a singular, yet larger, since it additionally has the intimacy and immediacy of an eyewitness account. He has given us a memorable, well-researched account of a primarily terrible conflict. - Literary overview this can be a riveting booklet, written with nearly seemless attractiveness. - overseas Affairs
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Extra info for Allah's Mountains: The Battle for Chechnya
Here, the Nart myth and its Greek counterpart – bound Prometheus having his liver pecked out for all eternity – are almost indistinguishable. Scholars today argue over which came first, even suggesting that the earliest Greeks may have first travelled from the North Caucasus to the Balkans. In another version of the Nart’s punishment, the chained anti-hero cries out in rage, setting off a storm of hail and thunder. Lightening rods shoot out when he beats his chains, and huge stones tumble down the mountainside.
All our lives, we work for a few kopeks, yet Caucasians live better than we do. Chechens, Armenians, Georgians, they’re all the same. They take from us and make nothing themselves. You should have seen in the old days how we lived in Russia, under the Communists. There was nothing on the shelves. You know why? p65 6 6/12/2000, 11:04 am The Jigsaw 7 On the surface, the North Caucasus looks like many other non-ethnicRussian regions which have undergone decades of Russification. The major towns are off the Soviet production line – wide, treelined avenues, sombre blocks of flats around courtyards, desolate main squares named after Lenin and monstrous concrete administration headquarters.
The North Caucasus was not just another Russian region, it was the troubled remains of an empire. p65 3 6/12/2000, 11:03 am 4 Allah’s Mountains ethnic groups everywhere struggling for cultural, even physical survival – had not. I was left with a final question: would the conflict ever end, would the North Caucasus and Russia meet on common ground? Today, minarets of newly built mosques poke above the low roofs where the Soviets once thought they had eradicated religion. On calm summer evenings, the muezzin’s sad voice calls in Arabic for the faithful to come to prayers.
Allah's Mountains: The Battle for Chechnya by Sebastian Smith