Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 98

May 18 was a public holiday in Chechnya to celebrate the peace treaty signed with Russia on May 12. In Chechnya, this is considered the day the war ended. President Aslan Maskhadov marked the occasion by issuing an order to disband all the armed formations that have not become part of Chechnya’s National Guard. (NTV, May 18) It seems doubtful, however, that this decree will be obeyed. Maskhadov issued a similar order several months ago, which was ignored. During the war, Chechnya became split into zones of influence dominated by individual field commanders. These leaders will not lay down their arms willingly.

Field commander Salman Raduev, who has sworn to continue the war against Russia, remains a serious military force with which Djohar-gala must contend. All the "irreconcilable" Chechen fighters have gathered around Raduev, including the famous armed group from Bamut. (The mountain village of Bamut, on the border with Ingushetia, became a symbol of the Chechen resistance. It was almost a year before federal forces were able to take it.)

The detachment commanded by the Jordanian ethnic Chechen Khattab is also a serious military force. Khattab became world-famous in April 1996 when he destroyed a column of federal troops near the Chechen village of Yarysh-Mardy. He is a supporter of Wahabism — one of the currents in Sunni Islam which is not recognized by the official Islamic clergy in the Northern Caucasus. Today, the Chechen Wahabis, led by Khattab, are an independent military force in Chechnya.

In addition to the detachments commanded by these two Chechen radicals, there are a multitude of other groups whose disarming will be very difficult for Djohar-gala. The Chechen authorities could try to do as the Tajiks did: Dushanbe included all of the independent armed detachments that were fighting against the Tajik opposition into its armed forces. In practice, however, these detachments were only nominally subordinate to Dushanbe, and frequently fought among themselves.

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