How Ethnic Civil War Transforms into Religious Civil War: Evidence from Chechnya
CEU Political Science Journal 8 (1): 55-79
25 Pages Posted: 26 Oct 2015 Last revised: 8 Feb 2016
Date Written: October 21, 2013
Many studies have proved that civil war in which religion is central issue is bloodier and longer than civil war in which religion is peripheral issue. Yet, few studies try to analyze how religion can transform Ethnic Civil War with religious divides into Religious Civil War, especially when the rebels identify themselves as Muslims. Currently, there are two conventional arguments on factors transforming ethnic civil war into religious civil war: the structural and the mobilization explanation. Using the Chechen war as a case study, this paper finds that the structural explanation failed to explain how ethnic civil war where religion is peripheral issue transforms into religious civil war where religion is central issue. While the mobilization explanation can only partially explain the Chechen civil wars it cannot answer the question how the ethnic civil war turns to religious civil war. The evidence clearly suggests that the involvement of transnational religious actors in the form of foreign fighters is the main factor that transforms ethnic civil war with religious divides into religious civil war.
Keywords: religion, Islam, transnational religious actors, Chechen Civil War
JEL Classification: conflict and peace studies
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