Ethnic conflict and its connection to terrorism in the republics of Ingushetia and North Ossetia



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Violence in Russia’s North Caucasus region has not been limited to Chechnya since the early 2000’s. The generally accepted theory on violence in other North Caucasus republics is that it has spilled over from Chechnya and is associated with religious extremism and poverty. There may be other reasons, however, for outbreaks of violence in other North Caucasus republics such as Ingushetia and North Ossetia. The North Ossetians and Ingush have had a tense relationship since the late Tsarist period. Disputes over a region known as the Prigorodny region has fueled ethnic hatreds and resulted in an armed conflict between the two republics in 1992. The relationship remains tense to this day. The conflict may be playing a role in the outbreak of violence in the two republics. Studies have shown that terrorism, while an extreme tactic, is in many cases associated with moderate political demands shared by the terrorists’ community. Additionally, terrorism appears to be often connected with lack of economic opportunity and the need for solidarity rather than simple poverty. The driving forces behind conventional terrorism suggest that Russian policymakers may be misguided in their attempts to combat terrorism in Ingushetia and North Ossetia. Terrorist violence in the region may be an Ingush continuation of ethnic battles fought in 1992, but utilizing extreme guerrilla methods. Exploring the violence in the two republics in the context of an ongoing ethnic conflict may enable policymakers to better tailor anti-terrorism policies in the region.