Mass riots that have begun last spring in Syria have turned into a political crisis and the country is almost on the verge of a civil war.
With the increase of aggravation of the situation in Syria active actions of the Circassian public organizations is increasing which mainly is expressed in their frequent appeals to executive and legislative powers of Russia, Adyge, Kabardino-Balkaria and Karachai-Cherkessia where Syrian Circassians who found themselves in a very difficult situation are asking to return them without delay to their historical homeland. But in many cases it is obvious that leaders of some of these organizations are just trying to score points or acting under instructions of certain interested parties.
Those Circassian organizations and public figures that are well familiar with this problem and are thinking about future results make less noise or so far refrain from expressing their position since it concerns question of national dignity of Circassians which is not unimportant for people that respect Caucasian traditions.
Circassians have been living in Syria for more than a century. Syrian people gave shelter to them, supported them, and helped them to retain their language, traditions and dignity. Circassians felt as fully-fledged citizens of this country and in some cases even enjoyed privileges. They had never met any barriers when trying to make a carrier in any sphere of the public life. Circassians occupy important positions in military and other law enforcement bodies on which current Syrian president Bashar al-Asad greatly relies. The same situation was during the time of his late father Hafez al-Asad who had been the president of Syria for 29 years.
Today Syrian people are in a very difficult situation and the country from an inner crisis may appear in the epicenter of a large-scale confrontation.
In this situation mass leaving of the Circassian population of one hundred thousand may be seen as a betrayal not only by Syrian people but also by Circassian elite as well. And betrayal and breaking one’s word is inconsistent with Circassian nature and tradition.
The fate of the Bashar al-Asad government has not been yet decided. The majority of the population supports him. Despite this, the leadership of the League of the Arab States has chosen a doubtful position towards Bashar al-Asad. Islamic countries, including Arab Muslims do not intend to support him.
In case of the retaining of the power by Bashar al-Asad Syrian Circassians would probably be regretting their current indecision since their financial situation in this country is good and a rash decision may place their families in the heart of yet another dramatic events.
An example of their Libyan compatriots will not be good for Syrian Circassians since the former were traditionally in confrontation with Muammar Gadaffi and his government and they maintained the same position during the Libyan crisis. Though with the instigation of the Russian security services a group of Kabardian volunteers still wanted to go to Libya to support Gadaffi with arms in their hands. Leader of the public organization of Kabardino-Balkaria Khase Ibragim Yaganov officially addressed Kabardian volunteers to refrain from such rash actions and by this he saved his young compatriots from conflict with Libyan Circassians and repeating the Gadaffi fate.
Negative position of the Russian authorities towards the return of descendents of the Muhajirs to their historical homeland is very well-known. And through the head of the North Caucasus Federal District Alexander Khloponin and head of the Kabardino-Balkaria Arsen Kanokov Moscow systematically voices necessity of the policy of moving native population of the North Caucasus from the region into central regions of Russia and even outside the borders of the country. And the space will be filled with Russian-language Cossacks. First real steps have already been made in this direction. Four thousand Ingush were settled in the Sverdlovsk Oblast and everything is done to increase their number.
It is hard to say what will be results of these frequent appeals of the Circassian organizations to the Russian authorities in this situation as Moscow so far keeps silent on this subject. Though in the beginning of January the Russian Foreign Ministry asked the leadership of the Adyge republic for information about problems of the Circassian population in Syria. Various media sources issue unconfirmed reports about possible resettlement of one hundred Circassian families from Syria. But where they will be offered to settle and what conditions will be given to Circassians that wish to move back is not yet known.
A movement that was started by the Circassian public organizations was commented upon by the foreign ministry of the separatist Abkhazian government that stated that discussions about a question of possible return of Abkhazians living in Syria have been started there. By earlier information there are up to one thousand Abkhazians living in Syria though after the start of the tensions their number has been increased to ten thousand. Abkhazians in Syria, like their compatriots in Turkey and other countries, used to take advantage of the large numbers and popularity of Circassians and considered themselves as their part. After the events of 2008 when Russia declared Abkhazia an independent state Circassian diasporas started to distance Abkhazians, separate common Caucasian organizations and form independent Circassian organizations. A reason for this was that Abkhazia has almost become one of the Russian provinces. The leadership of Chechnya has also chosen its own path. And after this the common North Caucasian strategic course has underwent changes and it is now different from future national Circassian interests. With regards to return of Circassians and Abkhazians of Syria to their historical homelands leaders of Adyge republics of the North Caucasus as well as those of the Abkhazian separatist government are awaiting instructions from Moscow and after that decisions regarding this issue will be made public. According to current information a visit of the Abkhazian delegation led by co-chairman of the Congress of the Caucasian peoples Taras Shamba is being prepared. Taras Shamba lives and works in Moscow and acts under instructions of Zatulin and Baburin.
Moscow sees ] the issue of resettlement of Abkhazians from Syria to be no less problem since creation of ethnic Abkhazian majority in Abkhazia is not in their interests and in this Moscow is fully supported by Armenian population the number of which has been artificially increased there.
In addition, Abkhazians of Syria, as well as Circassians, coming from purely pragmatic view of things, would not make a decision in favour of moving from one conflict region to another. All the more, that they know very well that they are not welcomed with open arms by either Russians or Abkhazian separatists and Armenians. And from the moral point of view their settlement into houses that had been taken away from Georgians would not be acceptable for them and their security either would not be guaranteed there. It should also be taken into account that modern generation of Abkhazians and Circassians of Syria was born and raised there. An Arab language is their second native language and they use it for communication with others. Circassians, like Syrian Arabs, are Sunnis and their life in non-Muslim world will be hard. One of the reasons of Mukhajirstvo was a religious question. In the worst case they can easily move to another Arab country and live there. Russia may become a shelter for those Circassians and Abkhazians that serve in law enforcement agencies and were directly involved in repressions carried out against Syrians rebels.
There are rumours that right to return to the Russian Federation will be given to those Circassians and Abkhazians who will agree to live in any Russian oblast, themselves buy their own houses and will be able to make certain investments there.
Descendents of the Muhajirs are well aware how the Russian authorities and Abkhazian separatists treat hundreds of thousands of Georgian population that were lawlessly expelled from their land and whose houses, public and state facilities that were built by their blood and sweat and that are worth billions have now become objects of appropriation and illegal trading.
Descendents of the Muhajirs know very well that the authorities that so violently trumps on rights of one part of the population cannot exert lawful and humane attitude towards another. They look doubtfully at prospects of processes that are taking place in the region and are in no hurry to make a decision.
Will Circassians and Abkhazians of Syria return to their historical homeland? It is well known that a significant part of descendents of North Caucasian Muhajirs, among them Abkhazian ones, dream of the return. But they have not forgotten that their ancestors have once already been given an irreparable insult and they were expelled from their homeland. They demand apologies for crimes committed against their fathers and their unconditional and dignified return to their homeland and not patronizing charity as it is presented by the Russian authorities together with puppet heads of Adyge republics of North Caucasus and separatist leaders of Abkhazia with regards to small groups of Circassians and Abkhazians of Syria who found themselves in grave situation there.