Syria And Russia
Members of the initiative group of the Syrian Circassians who had addressed to the Russian administration with the request for repatriation arrived to Russia. They are going to meet with the heads of Adygeya, Kabardino-Balkaria and Karachaevo-Circassia.
The Syrian Circassians are in a mousetrap now. On the one hand, the state borders are closed; the people who had addressed to the Russian president with the request for repatriation are suffered from an unprecedented pressure from the official Syrian authorities. People are afraid to show openly their views, the repatriation lists were sent to Russia secretly.
On the other hand, Circassian settlements in the area Homs town had been undergone to artillery bombardment from the oppositional forces. Among the Circassians there are significant human victims; the majority of their houses is destroyed; the oil pipeline running nearby, had been blown up, as a result of that vicinity became unsuitable for lining.
People do not know where to go: at the moment a column of Circassian refugees from area of Homs town is moving to Damascus, searching for rescue. The remained on their place are under attacks and threats from the various militarized formations. Syria plunges into chaos - fights are conducted already in 20 km from the capital. Not waiting the coming nearer fast bloody outcome the Syrian Circassians asked to start the process of their repatriation immediately.
The administration of the three Russian republics with the "title" Circassian population (Adygeya, Kabardino-Balkaria and Karachaevo-Circassia), numerous Circassian organizations from all over the world being concerned with the approaching humanitarian catastrophe in Syria, had already addressed to Moscow with official petitions concerning repatriation of the Syrian Circassians. The most glorified nowadays and well-known Russian Circassians - Jury Temirkanov, Michael Shemyakin, Vitaly Doguzhiev, Muradin Kumakhov and some others - had not yet joined the information campaign; but the Circassian world usually split by a set of contradictions, has already shown this time its exclusive unanimity and efficiency.
The reports of the federal mass-media, estimations and comments sounded in connection with petitions of the Syrian Circassians to the president of Russian Federation, the Russian people and relatives on the native land, appeared to be unexpectedly constructive. But time goes by, people perish, and the decision is still not made. In Moscow there are necessary consultations, however the dialogue moves ahead too slowly. Informally Russian officials explain that sluggishness with one word - "elections". During the other time it certainly could be understood and accepted: eventually, Circassians - having waited for returning to the native land through six generations - can wait a little bit longer. But not now: the forthcoming full-scale ethnic cleaning threatens to tens thousand lives.
In Syria, by different estimations, there are from 120 up to 170 thousand Circassians among whom during the last century there were strong repatriation moods. Only during 1950-80s thousand people addressed with petitions to the USSR – still unsuccessfully. Recent researches had shown: repatriation moods take place in about a quarter of the community, i.e. approximately 30-40 thousand people or 5-7 thousand families. People, whose ancestors repeatedly through last two centuries from a place on a place moved, during the Caucasian, the Russian-Turkish, the First and the Second World wars, as well as every possible Arab-Israeli wars, having appeared in the center of the next cataclysm caused by strangers to them now only wish one thing - to come back home.
Territories of Resettlement and Integration
Often they raise questions: "where to lodge them?" and "what will they be engaged in?" There is a sense to stop on them in detail.
In republics of Adygeya, Kabardino-Balkaria and Karachaevo-Circassia there are enough lands for accommodation of all the Syrian Circassians is universal, if there is such fantastic necessity. In them there are plane areas with population density considerably below 50 people in a cm. (and even considerably below 30 people in a cm) and thus located in of 40-minute transport availability radius from big cities. Only Adygeya for the last 15 years had accepted more than ten thousand Armenian and five thousand Kurdish immigrants, only according to the official data (expert estimations name considerably greater figures) - place was found for all of them. Will it be found for the Circassian compatriots coming back the native land, too?
Practice shows that repatriates prefer to live in the Circassian environment so there is no language barrier. Therefore, speaking about repatriation, the question is exclusively about those administrative areas in which there are significant Circassian settlements - natural "adapters" between the immigrants and those who found again their lost native land. Besides in Adygeya for them there is a unique adaptable and integration center ready: aul of Circassian repatriates of 1990s from Kosovo - Mafehabl. Experience of Kosovan Circassians can appear to be invaluable for their Syrian compatriots.
In the Western Caucasus (i.e. to the west of the meridian of the Military-Georgian road) up to three thousand repatriates-Circassians, a significant part just natives of Syria has been already living. The majority of them preferred Kabarda, in Adygeya they are less than a thousand, in Karachaevo-Circassia – very few. Practically all of them are engaged in business, nobody lives on grants, nobody became a criminal. They are people who generate money, instead of problems which is proved by 20 years of observing their lifestyle on the native land.
Syria is the country with thousand-year mercantilist traditions and natives therefrom are able to make business. That is that fresh blood which is necessary for the economy of the region, as well as a thousand of strings between it and the Near-Eastern markets. Here the analogy with Huatsiao which became one of the main reasons of the Chinese economic miracle, is pertinent.
But the question is not only about the sphere of services. One curious nuance: many Jewish settlers in Palestine of the beginning of the XX, being mostly townspeople, were learned agriculture by Circassian teachers. Their choice for that role was not casual: traditionally high agriculture of Circassians was considered as the most advanced in the Ottoman empire. Crops of Circassian Cuneitra on Golan Heights surpassed the crops of next German Sarona and Jewish Hedera. So the repatriates from Syria have something to learn the relatives working on the rich native land but lost some skills during the cataclysms of the XX century
The majority of the Syrian Circassians at least are bilinguals knowing the Arabian and the Circassian languages. For them there is no special complexity to learn quickly one more language, in our case – the Russian. All Circassian repatriates living in the federation for today speak Russian. Pertinently to mention that Circassian language (Adyghkhabza) is the state in three republics of the Western Caucasus: Adygeya, Kabardino-Balkaria and Karachaevo-Circassia, i.e. there where territories for resettling are assumed.
At discussion of the humanitarian catastrophe to which the situation around of the Syrian Circassians is more and more similar, risks for the country accepting the immigrants usually remain unconsidered; in fact first of all the question is about the moral position of the state stretching the hand of help to compatriots whose life is threatened with danger. But many people in Russia can ask a question: what confessional, ethnic and situational circumstances are connected with repatriation of the Syrian Circassians?
Repatriates arrive from the country with the ancient Muslim traditions so it does not cause in the Russian society a great enthusiasm. And absolutely vain. The Syrian Circassians can be the first class inoculation from any religious radicalism which in the 2000s became ‘fashionable’ in even recently absolute secular Circassian society of the Russian Western Caucasus, first of all in Kabarda.
For the Syrian Circassians Islam is not something abstract-romantic, fashionable or protest. It is what they face every day, what they have grown in. Those who remember the USSR, know: between communism, as an ideal, and socialism, as a reality - a precipice exists. The charm of socialistic construction outside the USSR was the higher the lesser any Bolivian communists knew the real situation in "the Country of Soviets". Here is approximately the same situation.
Rather eloquent fact which is not requiring additional comments: Circassians, and first of all general Ualid of Abaza, being a native brother of the vice-president of the International Circassian Association Sharaf Abaza, have brought in 1980s an outstanding contribution to the rout of the oldest in Syria Muslim terrorist grouping "Brothers-Muslims". As a result, to 1985, "Brothers-Muslims" completely stopped the activities in the country, and their rests in it surrendered to authorities.
Caucasus for a long time is also steadily connected in the Russian mass consciousness with the interethnic pressure. Fears for "strengthening of the Circassian factor" are expressed in that connection. Here it is possible to tell with confidence that the doubts of such kind are caused by little knowledge of the society: even if all the Syrian Circassians moved to the Western Caucasus, it practically would not affect in any way the ethnic balance of the region which population is estimated absolutely in the other figures. Besides in Western Caucasus the Circassian factor traditionally works for increase of the level of the regional safety, favourable to all who lives there, without any dependence on the ethnic origin. And the reason for that is the hope of Circassians for repatriation.
Repatriation is a core of the modern Circassian idea. It is obvious that mass repatriation is impossible, as far as in the territories of resettling there are no guarantees for property, there are no education systems adequate to the modern epoch, public health services and legal proceedings, but still there is an arbitrariness of the authorities, poverty and threat of conflicts. Moreover - such region will be abandoned even by those who were born and had grown there. That is not the script which is equitable to the Circassian interests. Therefore peace, prosperity and the law and order in the region are the priorities of the Circassian national movement, operating constantly in the legal ways.
During the whole 1990s which were the most difficult for Russia in Caucasus, Circassian nationalists consistently kept their loyalty to Moscow, playing the stabilizing role in the region being torn apart by uncountable conflicts. In one of the three republics with the "title" Circassian population there was not and there are no interethnic conflicts, despite of the obvious preconditions. Marginalization of Circassian nationalists of the end of 1990s led to severe growth of the Islamic radicalism which no more facing any opposing in the ideological floor that had been cleaned up out by the authorities. Results of such policy all of us have an opportunity to see in Kabarda during the last years.
And the last ("last but not least") that can be in the focus of attention in Russia deciding to open the borders for repatriation of the Syrian Circassians: In case of positive development of the situation Moscow will absolutely neutralize all the reputational "Circassian risks" connected with the Olympiad of Sochi-2014, and they, till nowadays, remain extremely serious. Anybody in the Circassian national movement after so eloquent gesture of Russia cannot and will not want to support anti-Olympic protests - for the obvious reasons.
Instead of Conclusion
"I do not wish to come back to the service. I do not want my family and me to find between the two fires - between the contradicting parties. I am 54, I had worked for 30 years in this system, and I know what they will demand from me. But I do not wish to kill people. Therefore I have decided to leave... I wish to begin everything anew. In Russia there is my native land - Adygeya. I just wish to get there, having found my refuge, or in any other way".
On the photo (the author: Ahmed Dzhalla): streets of Homs town.