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The Caucasus Emirate: Between Reality and Virtuality

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This paper discusses the recent (2007) declaration of the Caucasus Emirate by Islamist guerilla fighters waging jihad against Russia in several republics of the Northern Caucasus (Russian Federation). It analyzes the practical reasons and ideological agendas behind the creation of this new polity that remains largely virtual with the website kavkazcenter.com as its primary mouthpiece and recruiting tool. The Emirate's creation by the Caucasus mujahideen marks an important turning point in the evolution of anti-Russian resistance in the region from a group of secessionist movements under nationalist banners to a trans-ethnic Islamist one whose goal is to establish a supranational Islamic state in the region. The paper examines the fateful conflict between the secular-minded Chechen nationalists, whose primary goal is to wrest independence from Russia by means fo putting pressure on her European and international organizations and the Islamists who see Sharia(t) and the jihad as the sole viable means of liberating the entire Northern Caucasus from "infidel" Russian rule. It also addresses the self-representation and propaganda strategies employed by the mujahideen, especially their aggressive use of the Internet to assert their presence in the cyberspace at a time where their physical presence on the ground has become scarce in the face of the overwhelming military and logistical superiority of Russian Federal forces and local militias loyal to the Kremlin.

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  • 01/02/2019
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