Murphy's Law: December 10, 2002

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While rebellions are driven largely by hatred of the people running the place, money also plays a role. All rebel organizations have a payroll to meet, and use money to hire friends, or enemies, to aid the cause. The 15 year Lebanese civil war (1975-1990) was fueled by well paid militias. If a warlord couldn't meet his payroll, he was out of business (and sometimes dead.) In Chechnya, the Russians have hired thousands of Chechens to work for the local government, including police and security forces. The national police have a OMON (police commandos) unit of 300 Chechens that goes after known, or suspected rebels, and arrests, or kills them. Often arrest leads to torture and death anyway. Even being released by the OMON is not all good news. The rebels suspect such men, even if they have worked for the rebels, of having changed sides. Such released prisoners usually flee Chechnya, usually for some other part of Russia. The Chechens are paid well, getting bonuses for operating in a combat zone. Their $400 a month pay is eight times the average local wage. The OMON unit has killed at least 300 rebels in the past two years, while losing 60 of their own men. The commander is a wanted man, the rebels openly offer a reward of $150,000 to whoever kills him. As a result, the OMON commander gets hit with one or more assassination attempts a month. Because they are Chechens, in a country that believes in group (family) punishment, new recruits for the OMON (there is no shortage) come from families of existing OMON troops. The rebels can afford to pay near the local wage ($50 a month), plus one time fees for individual jobs. Even rebellion is, after all, just a job. People have to live and everyone has an extended family to support.

 


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