Monday, January 1, 2018

Iranian Protests Resonating in Russia, Caucasus and Central Asia, Shmulyevich Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, December 31 – The outcome of the events in Iran remains far from clear, with the possibilities ranging from the restoration of the power of the existing government to its weakening to its complete overthrow, Avraam Shmulyevich says, with all but the first certain to have a dramatic impact in the post-Soviet space.

            The Israeli analyst says that three main directions are possible: first, the regime may remain in power and tighten the screws; second, it will remain in place but with significantly modified policies; or third, it will be overthrown if the security forces and army desert it (

            According to Shmulyevich, “civil society in Iran is more mature than it is in Russia. There, there is a real demand for democracy.” And that in turn means that few Russians are likely to be inspired by the Iranian protesters and go into the streets with the goal of overthrowing the existing system.

            But that doesn’t mean the Iranian events don’t matter in Russia and especially to the Putin regime.  On the one hand, the current Tehran government is one of Russia’s few allies in the world and that is a matter of concern for Putin. “Not that Russian television isn’t saying anything about the events in Iran, and this is very indicative,” the analyst continues.

            The Iranian events will affect “not only the Russian Federation,” of course.  They will resonate in Central Asia and in the South Caucasus, “above all in Azerbaijan.”  If the ayatollahs fall, that will lead people in both of those places and in the North Caucasus to think about what they might do to get rid of their current rulers.

                “Such thoughts may arise also in other Islamic regions of Russia, above all in Tatarstan, and this may accelerate the process of the separation of national borderlands from Russia,” Shmulyevich argues.

            He continues: “If the Iranian revolution turns out to be successful, then Russia will lose those remnants of its influence which it has in Syria and in the region as a whole. This will be a strong shock on Putin’s self-esteem and his foreign policy because the only ally he has is Iran.” Moreover, a change in Iran “will strengthen Turkey’s position in its talks with Russia.”

            Moreover, if the Iranian events produce regime change there, this could “push Russia’s Muslim regions, above all in the North Caucasus, to move more actively toward independence and threaten the pro-Russian regimes in Central Asia,” as well as creating “serious problems” for Ilham Aliyev in Azerbaijan.

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