CRISIS IN THE CAUCASUS: THE KID GLOVES COME OFF

Created: 1/23/1990

OCR scan of the original document, errors are possible

The Ducaor of Central ladhgeace

Intelligence Council

ANUARY. 1W0

EXF.CTJTTVE BRIEF

CRISIS IN THE CAUCASUS: THE KID GLOVES COME OFF

The Soviet military effort to restore order is likely to quickly devolveong-term occupationontinuing insurgency requiring significantly larger numbers of forces to control the situation.

Rules of engagement by Soviet military forces remain very restrictive, indicating that Moscow wants to minimize the use of force and realizes that any solution will be primarily political.

Tehran is not enthusiastic about increased Azeri nationalism and is likely to continue toeasured approach to the situation; this course will be difficult to sustain if Moscow is required toong-term occupation.

Gorbachev has probablyhort-term political benefit in the run-up to February's Central Committee plenum, but these advantages will dissipate as the costs of the occupation mount.

I

Oneleconference between OA, DIA, NSA and State/INR was called by MO/USSR lo dbcuu (he impucabocs for Ihe Soviel dedsion to lend troops mlo Baku.

SSdjiC

CRISIS IN THE CAUCASUS: THE KID GLOVES COME OFF

There oretoops in the region (excluding Georgian0 of these are soldiers from five different airbornethhe remainder are regular army, naval, and MVD units and reservists.

Soviet forces have managed to gain control of key government buildings and freedom of movement in the Baku area. Casualty figures are likely close to those reportedby Sovietessilled and several hundred wounded (both military and civilian).

Gorbachev probably intends to minimize the use ot force. Although Soviet forces did not interfere in Monday's demonstration in Baku, there are indications of an increasing willingness to use police forceelective fashion.

Cities and areas south of Baku to the Iranian border presumably remain in the hands of the Popular Front

Fighting is continuing in Nagorno-Karabakh and Nakhichevan and it is unclear whether the situation is improving or worsening

Armenia remains stable,!

secession by the Azerbaijan Supreme Soviel It is likely:

An insurgency will develop, directed against Soviet forces.

The martial law situation in Azerbaijan willong-term affair requiring substantially larger numbers of forcesore divisions) to maintain order.

Tbe degree to which the Azeri have been cowed by Moscow's use of force will have an impact on the ultimate success of the operation.

Most Community analysts believe that resistance, active and passive, to Soviet occupation forces will be both widespread and prolonged.

INR believes that, although there will be resistance, Moscow will use force so overwhelming that the population will eventually accept, grudgingly, the new conditions.

Poh'ucally, Moscow may hope that iu actions are viewed as aimed against Popular Front exvemists and that it will be able toialogue with moderate Azeri leaders.

representatives view this outcome as very unlikely since Moscow's actions appear to have radicalized the Azen population.

Potential for Spread to Central AJrifl Ihe potential to spread beyond Azerbaijanoncern for Moscow and in part explains the cautious approach Gorbachev has followed in using force against Muslims until now. Although thereearth of evidence, the possibilityan-Islamic uprising in Central Asia in support of Azerbaijan is considered unlikely by Community representatives at least in the near- to(Some experts outside the Community believe this potential is higher.)

The driving factors causing unrest in the region are much more likely to be problems unique to tbe area.

Central Asians, unlike Azeris, are Sunni, not Shite, Muslims and have historicallyuch different national experience.

If Moscow's efforts to control the Caucasus run into serious, prolonged difficulty, however, it could encourage various Central Asian nations to press their demands more vigorously.

Significance for the Baltic Republics

If anything, the Community believes that Moscow's actions have encouraged the Baltic republics to pursue their present steady, political and non-violent course toward independence. Moscow's distinction between violent and peaceful approaches toward change gives them greater reason to believe that their course will produce the desired outcome with nunimai risk of confrontation.

Relations with Iran Despite unofficial warnings of the consequences of any Soviet over-reaction, the use of force in Baku seems to haveow-key Iranian response. Tehran ts not enthusiastic about increased Azeri nationalism, regardless of the form, in partf the world's Azeris live in Iran. It is likely to continue toeasured approach to the crisis in the near term to avoid inflaming Azerihich could spill over intond to continue to develop its relations with the Soviet Union.

The Iranian leadership, however, will find restraint increasingly more difficult if Moscow is required toong-term military occupation.

A Leadership CrUU for Gorbachev? By "playingorbachev has answered criticism of his 'indecisiveness' in dealing witb the nationalities issue. He will likely benefit politically from this in the short run, especially in the run-up to the Central Committee plenum in early February.

But an Azeri insurgency develops as expected and Russian casualties mount or if massive demonstrations continue, pressure will once again come to bear.

The crackdown does not signal, in the Community'setreat onGorbachev may, as our Embassy suggests, accelerate it further.

The turmoil in the Caucasus will, however, add to the economic strain the system is already under and raise new questions about this ability to handle the consequences of his policies.

TO

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