The the Caucasus (Russian Кавказ, Kavkaz ; Géorgien კავკასიონი, Kawkasioni; Turkish Kafkas; qavqaz in Persan) is an area of Eurasia consisted of mountains which lengthen on 1 200 km, energy of the strait of Kertch (Black Sea) to the peninsula of Apchéron (Caspian Sea).
Indicated by the Helene S under name “mounts Atlas” until the Roman invasion of Greece, perhaps because of the time when this one overhung the city of the king éponyme before it is brutally submerged by the floods of the the Mediterranean engulfing in the basin of the Black Sea at the time of the collapse of the natural Barrage of the the Bosphorus.
The Caucasus is divided between the the Caucasus of the South , also called Transcaucasie, including the Georgia, the Arménie and the Azerbaïdjan and the the Caucasus of the North , called Ciscaucasie, located in Russia (including the republics of Karatchaïévo-Tcherkessie, of Kabardino-Balkarie, Os of North, Ingouchie, Chetchnia and the Daguestan). Administratively, Ciscaucasie includes also the Republic of Adyguée, the Krai de Stavropol and the Krai de Krasnodar.
The Caucasus is often regarded as marking separation between the Europe and the Asia. If it is considered European, it is the mountainous solid mass highest of Europe, beyond the Arménie one penetrates in Asia Mineure, Turkey and in Asia, Iran.
The chain, rectilinear, takes a certain height only to approximately 300 km of the Détroit of Kertch and culminates, in its central part, with vast solid masses englacés ic Volcan:
- the Dykh Tau 5.203 m (Russia d' Europe)
- the Chkhara 5.200 m (Georgia/Russia)
- the Kazbek 5.047 m (Georgia)
- the Ousba 4.695 m
- the Ouipata 4.638 m
Whereas the central Caucasus is covered many Glacier S, the Western Caucasus is the field of the forest and the Eastern Caucasus, low and more dryness, is an almost desert area. Contrast is less visible between the northern slope and the southern side. The Caucasus does not comprise longitudinal valleys likely to compartmentalize it and attenuate its role of obstacle. In the center, it is crossed by several roads, that of the valley of driving Terek to the collar of the Cross (2 388 m) by the procession of Darial. Between the Large Caucasus and the Small Caucasus, the Transcaucasia extends on 700 km length, between the Caspian Sea and the Black Sea. It is a complex area which associates well developed basins of collapse: the Colchide in the west and the plain of Azerbaïdjan in the east. In the center, the parallel corridors of the average Koura, Iori and Alazani, as well as the plain of Gori are staged between 150 and 700 Mr. In the south, the mountains of Georgia and Arménie constitute the third sector of the Caucasus, the Small Caucasus, whose average altitude borders 2.000 Mr. the chain however is stopped by vast volcanic solid masses which make alternate massive castings and tuffs; in the west of the Lake Sevan, the mountain of Aragats (80 km of width) constitutes the highest part of the volcanic solid mass of Alaghez (4 095 m), culminating point of the Small Caucasus, in Arménie. Many inner basins are dominated by tops which remain snow-covered until summer.
The Caucasus has non-ferrous metal layers and reserves of Pétrole (Azerbaïdjan and areas of Maïkop and Grozny).
The people which live in the Caucasus, whose surface is lower by 20% than that of France, still speak a good hundred about languages and dialects different belonging especially to the very former linguistic family from the Caucasian Langues (60 to 70 languages), but also to the families Indo-European, turco-Mongolian and Semitic, they are mainly of Moslem religion .
The Caucasus is one of the most composite areas of the world on the ethnic level. Tens of people have cohabited there, the ones present since thousands of years, others for a few centuries like the Russian , and at least six religions are practiced there: Jewish, orthodoxe, Monophysite (schismatic Christianity professing that Christ has only one divine nature), Sunnite, Chiite and Bouddhiste. It is not a question here to make a detailed ethnological study, but the extreme diversity of the populations which live in the Caucasus conditions part of the crises which the area meets at the present time and represents for this reason a “ genuine grid of lecture ” of its geopolitical tensions. From an ethnological point of view, the populations can be classified in three principales  families;: the group caucasic, present since prehistory, includes/understands the Géorgiens, the Tchétchénes, the Abkhazian, the Ingouches, the Tcherkesses and the majority of the people of the Daghestan (Avars, Lesghiens…). The people Indo-Europeans are the Russian Armenian, (arrived as of the 18th century, initially of the Cosaques, then farmers and workmen), and the Persan people (Kurdish and Os), without forgetting some Greek. Lastly, the Caucasus gathers many people turcic, with the languages close to the Turkish . They result from Turkey or Central Asia. They are mainly the Azeri , the Koumyks, the Karatchais or the Balkars. The chart opposite plant this decoration of extreme diversity, which one understands that it is potentially generating infinite problems.
On the religious level, if one disregards minorities Jewish and Buddhist, the Caucasus can be summarily divided into a half Musulmane and a half Chrétienne. If one places oneself from the point of view of the “ shock of the civilizations ” stated by Samuel Huntington, one can then consider that it is about a line of particularly strong fracture between these two great religions. The Moslems Sunnites resident in Ciscaucasie, in the North and the West of the Transcaucasia, while the Azerbaïdjan is mainly Chiite because of its old membership of the empire Perse. The Armenian are Christian monophysites, while the Russian , the Abkhazian Géorgiens and the are Orthodoxes; some ancestral communities Juives remain. This distribution explains for example the exodus of hundreds of thousands of Moslems towards the Ottoman Empire at the time of the Russian projection in the area at the 19th century. Contrary, Christian Georgia was attached voluntarily to the Russian Empire, because she had asked her protection at the end of the 18th century in front of the projection of the Moslem Othomans.
See also: War of the Caucasus
Reached by the Greek navigators Millet, at the 8th century, the littoral of the Black Sea is marked out several colonies. The Caucasus itself, where mix the Persian influences, parthes and Romans, is christianized at the 4th century. Contact point between civilizations Byzantine and Arab during the Early middle ages, the Caucasus undergoes as from the 11th century the supervision of the Turks seldjoukides, then, at the 13th century, the invasions Mongolian S. Between 11th and the middle of the 13th century, a brilliant civilization however opens out in the Christian kingdoms of Arménie and Georgia. After the catch of Constantinople (1453), the area is isolated from the Christian world and passes under Othoman domination to the 16th century.
The Russian penetration of the Caucasus begins at the same time, but Russianization is actually undertaken only at the end of the 18th siècle ; after the annexation of Georgia (1801), the war against the Persian and the Ottoman Empire (1805 - 1829) allows the Russian to seize the area of Erevan. The savage resistance of the mountain tribes ends only with rendering, in 1859, of the Moslem chief Chamyl.
The interest for the Caucasus, between Black Sea and Caspian Sea, was particularly decisive in the Russian expansion policy since the conquest of the 18th century until the 19th century. The Russia, with its population in rapid growth, always increased on all sides since the 16th century (the Baltic, the Ural, Siberia, Black Sea, Caspian Sea). The Russian Cossacks settle in Chetchnia punt at the end of 16th century.
The Caucasus as a whole is an incredible mosaic of Peuple S and Culture S, with the strong traditions of vendetta and which was already ensanglanté by various conflicts as of before the disappearance of the Soviet Union. Those can be explained above all by the sometimes conflict traditional relations and complexes between close people autochtones and those arrived at the Early middle ages and the Middle Ages (Turkish-speaking), but especially by the tensions caused by the violent conquest of the area by the great powers such as the Ottoman Empire, Russia, Great Britain. At the end of 18th century Georgia and Arménie are addressed to Russia to require its protection against the Moslem incursions of him.
The most known cases of these people victims of the Russian projection at that time in direction of the area of the Black Sea and the Caucasus are those of the Tcherkesse S (or Adyguéens ), of which there does not remain any more large-thing today in the area, of the Tatars of the Crimea and Tchétchènes, which form all the three still nowadays, more than one hundred years after, of large diasporas in Turkey especially. The history of these diasporas is ignored in Europe, contrary to those of the Arménie Assyrian NS or the Christian.
The Caucasian territories, where had been created in 1917 the socialist republics of Georgia, of Arménie and Azerbaïdjan, will be, of July 1942 at January 1943, the theater of a German massive onslaught whose oil of Bakou is one of the objectives. Hitler, having invaded the Soviet Union in 1941, then tried to cut through a path towards the oil-bearing fields of Bakou, to supply its apparatus of war close to the shortage. Its secret services succeeded in infiltrating in a surface way certain people of the Caucasus of North, ready to collaborate with Germany for émanciper of the Russian yoke. The reaction of Stalin, frightened by the prospect for a Moslem revolt handled in Ciscaucasie, was immediate and radicale : a million and half of men, all Moslems, were off-set in mass towards the steppes of the Central Asia. These “ people punis ” were rehabilitated only in 1956 by Khrouchtchev, which authorized them to return to the country, in areas then désertifiées or populated by other ethnos groups which had taken again the grounds meanwhile. The Western observer should not thus be astonished by the well enracinée distrust that the majority of the people of the Caucasus of North can test towards the central capacity russe : it was learnedly maintained the generations since. To show at which point the traumatism is strong, it is necessary to remember the wars as Chetchnia of the years 1990, during which Moscow sent empty passenger trains to lodge cold delivered refugees and bad weather. “ anciens ” of the community Tchétchène refused to get into the coaches, because they were afraid to be off-set…
End of the Second world war to the collapse of the Soviet empire, the countries of the Caucasus follow the history of the the USSR. Between the death of Stalin and the fall of the USSR, the area knew a punctuated relative calm of short crises which came to recall to each decade the precarious balance of the area. Riots took place in Chetchnia in 1957, following the opposition of the population to oil installations which degraded the environmental quality. This movement badly hid the growing hostility of the population with regard to the Soviet presence and the little of benefit which Tchétchènes drew from the production and the transit of hydrocarbons on their territory. In 1978, Georgia was shaken by mass demonstrations of students and citizens who disputed the project of Brejnev to deprive the géorgien of his statute of language of State of the republic of Georgia: this awkward reform had then ignited identity passions, and this fire will not die out any more until independence of the Georgia, one decade later. The Abkhazie also required for this post-Stalinist period its fastening of the federative Republic of Russia to make the junction with the Abkhazians of Transcaucasia. The ground was prepared for a rupture : in filigree the call, increasingly pressing was expressed, of nationalisms and the identity claims. The fall of the USSR was going to enable them to be expressed.
With the beginning of the year 1990, whereas Russia already lost the control of the Caucasian republics of the south (Georgia, Arménie and Azerbaïdjan) become independent after dismantling of the Soviet Union, the rebellion tchetchene which reappears of its ashes threatens the federal integrity itself. The war caused by the intervention of the central capacity is likely to set ablaze the whole of this area of the septentrional Caucasus located inside the borders of the Federation of Russia.
Russian stakes before the RevolutionQuasi-disappearance at the 19th century of Tcherkesses of the area of the the North-Caucasus and retreat of the other local populations, of which that of Tchétchènes, vis-a-vis the Russian militaro-colonial projection and of its avant-garde cossack allowed the colonists Slaves and Christians (Russian, Belorusse and Ukrainian) sent by the Russian government to repopulate the area of the Black Sea to the septentrional buttresses of Transcaucasie. The best occupied grounds were confiscated and given to the Cosaque S, the autochtones being thorough towards the high not very fertile valleys of the mountains of the septentrional Caucasus.
Just like the same Cossacks had already done it over more a long period by gradually conquering since the 16th century century the the Ural then the Siberia at the expense of the people ougriens, Turkish and Mongolian (partly Moslem, them also, or chamanists) which lived there. And just like at the same time the Russian army endeavoured to take by the force under iniquitous pretexts the control of part of the Central Asia, that one will call then Russian Turkestan (today Kazakhstan, Ouzbékistan, Turkménistan, Kirghizie).
In fact, just like the Caspian Sea in the east, the Russian imperial governments dreamed to make Black Sea a sea 100 % Russian, especially the strait of the the Bosphorus with Istanbul, in order to reach directly the the Mediterranean. One often forgets in Occident which it is as for this reason as certain Armenian nationalist groups radical - and minority in the very prosperous Othoman Armenian community - were instrumentalisés by the Russians at the 19th century, but also by the Germans, the French and the British. The goal of Russia was to proclaim itself protective of the entire Armenian people as well as all Christians of the Middle East, in order to weaken more still, to even destroy its rival of always, the Ottoman Empire, by introducing into the many Armenian community since always faithful to the mode of the sultan a terrorism anti-Othoman and thus “separatist” who was to give the blow of thanks to “the sick man of Europe”… And to thus make it possible Russia to continue its expansion by taking foot in Anatolia from the coldly conquered Caucasus (Tcherkessie, Chetchnia, Daghestan, Arménie de Erevan, Georgia, Azerbaïdjan) and to reach of course, in addition to the oil reservoirs of the area of the Caspian Sea (Bakou) which it had recently, potentially oil-bearing areas of Iran and Mésopotamie (Iraq) which it wanted to dispute with the other avid great powers of power. All the area including/understanding in north the Black Sea and the Caucasus of the Crimea until the Caspian one, in the south the Ottoman Empire in Anatolia and the Middle East as more in the east the Persian empire as far as Afghanistan at the time was dedicated to the greedy and competing covetousness of the powers Russian, German, Austro-Hungarian, British and Frenchwoman. The First World War will see the fatal result of this policy in part of this vast area.
Independences and conflicts
After 1989, the disappearance of the the USSR allowed the creation of three new States (the Arménie, the Georgia and the Azerbaïdjan), former federal republics, whereas the six republics known as “autonomous” of Ciscausie remained within the Federation of Russia. The three new independent States were confronted with serious economic difficulties and were torn by multiples conflits : Arménie and Azerbaïdjan dispute the Haut-Karabakh, area of Azerbaïdjan, claimed and occupied by Arménie, whereas Georgia must face separatism in Abkhazie, like out of OS of the South and Adjarie.
Little time before the dislocation of the Soviet Union in 1991, a movement of independence was formed in Chetchnia, whereas the Russia refused to accept any secession. The general Djohar Doudaev, old driver of hunting of the Red Army, seizes the power following a coup d'etat carried out on September 5th by a " Executive committee of the National congress tchétchène". The speech anticommunist, nationalist and social of Doudaev is directed quickly towards a speech of release national and religious with a strong reference historical, which ignites the masses. Independence is declared the November 2nd 1991. Doudaev quickly becomes the symbol of the fight for the emancipation aimed by the insurrections of Chamil to the 19th century. The Ingouchie separates from Chetchnia rebels the June 4th 1992, by affirming its attachment in the federal center.
A political chessboard
The high contents in hydrocarbons do not constitute the only stake of new the " Large jeu" between powers for the control of the southernmost margins of the old USSR. One of the reasons for which the Russia made the war as Chetchnia east preserve her influence in the whole of the Caucasus. This strategy partly failed with the Russian defeat of 1996, which showed the weakness of the Russian army: she did not manage to recover the control of the territory. The myth of the invincibility of the Russian army was put at evil. In spite of the oppositions of Moscow, Aslan Maskhadov is received with Tbilissi in August 1997 and twice with Bakou to discuss a co-operation pancaucasienne.
The area quickly acquires a greatter importance in the American strategic thought. The American political economist Zbigniew Brzezinski stresses the Azerbaïdjan and the Ukraine like “bolts” of the Eurasian continent. In the same vein, European cooperation programs aim disenclosing the Caucasus and the Central Asia and at attaching them to the European markets. The TRACECA is a vast program institutionalized by more than thirty-two States and thirteen international organizations, who aims to the re-establishment of the Silk route. GUAM, an alliance often presented like a CEI alternative gathering the Georgia, the Ukraine, the Azerbaïdjan and the Moldavie, is founded in 1997 under the auspices of the the United States.
It is this increased engagement of the Americans and Europeans and the Russian backward flow who had implications on the political orientations of the States of the Caucasian South. The Azerbaïdjan considers, in January 1999, to shelter bases of NATO. In Georgia, the agreements on the Russian military presence were gradually denounced whereas the agreements of military cooperation with the countries of NATO multiply. Strong of this support, the position géorgienne vis-a-vis the conflict tchetchene evolves/moves rapidement : it is today the only country of the area to have granted the statute of refugees to the civilians fleeing the engagements.
- Transcaucasia (the Caucasus of the South)
- Ciscaucasie (the Caucasus of North)
- Aoul, type of Caucasian village strengthened
- Geopolitical of the Caucasus. By Florence Mardirossian
- economic and political Topicality of the Caucasus
- Russia: The war of the black gold. By Jean-Marie Chauvier
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