STRATFOR-Dispatch: Egyptian Unrest and the Former Soviet Union Read more: Dispatch: Egyptian Unrest and the Former Soviet Union
As unrest in Egypt continues to unfold there has been speculation in the mainstream media that similar developments could occur across the former Soviet Union. This is unlikely to happen for many reasons as there are simply too many differences, from political to cultural, between Egypt and these countries. However, there are a few states that are at risk for political and social instability for their own reasons unrelated to Egypt, especially Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Azerbaijan.
Before we get to the specific conditions in each of these countries I’d like to make note of some general differences to keep in mind. Politically, the power of the regime in most FSU countries is rooted in the security and intelligence apparatus as opposed to the military in Egypt. Also, many countries in the former Soviet Union are not pro-Western and therefore do not need to prove the legitimacy of their regimes to the West. But at the same time they are more prone to Western political influence as was seen in the wave of color revolutions that swept the region in the early to mid-2000s. That being said there are a few states that are at risk of instability for their own reasons.
The first is Tajikistan. There has been violence and instability in the country over the past few months, especially since there was a high-profile prison break in the eastern part of the country last August. The government and security forces have since then been cracking down on what it calls Islamist militants, which may in fact be opposition elements from the country’s civil war from 1992 through 1997. The government has also been cracking down on religious movements by shutting down mosques, banning Islamic dress and preventing students from traveling abroad to Islamic schools. Tajikistan is therefore the country to watch most closely as the lines are blurred between terrorism, political unrest and religious movements.
Kyrgyzstan is another country that is at risk of instability as it is the only country in Central Asia that has actually succumbed to revolution, most recently last year. Protests are common throughout the country and they are also simmering ethnic tensions between Krygyzs and Uzbeks in the country. Combined with the weakness of the security apparatus another uprising in the country can occur from even the most minor flare up.
Azerbaijan is yet another country to watch as the government has faced pressure even before the uprising in Egypt began. This was caused by the decision of the government to ban hijabs from being worn in secondary schools, which caused a lot of discontent from the religious communities in the country. The situation in the country has been relatively calm since protests occurred following the decision but the question of religion has remained a controversial topic and one that has dominated public discourse. Also this is an issue that has been exploited by outside powers, particularly Iran, to stir unrest in the country. At the end of the day, the Egypt scenario repeating itself in countries across the former Soviet Union is highly unlikely. But at the same time, some of these countries will face indigenous problems that could threaten the political stability of the regimes and the security of the populations at large.
- Howard Steven Friedman: Obama „Disappointed With the Intelligence Community” (huffingtonpost.com)
- Oil back above $100 on Egypt fears (telegraph.co.uk)
- Analysis: Energy riches, fear contain Central Asia dissent (reuters.com)
- USSR is Formed (socyberty.com)
- How are investors reacting to the Egyptian / Middle East unrest? (community.tradeking.com)
- You: Egypt unrest: Your stories (bbc.co.uk)
- Hezbollah chief: Egypt’s unrest will change region (sfgate.com)
- Hezbollah chief: Egypt’s unrest will change region (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- Egypt unrest may push oil above $110: Kuwait official (reuters.com)
- Israel wary of transition in Egypt, concerned about regional stability – Washington Post (news.google.com)
- Egyptian pound drops on unrest (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- Is The CIS Just The Soviet Union in Disguise? (socyberty.com)
- Relax: Muslim Brotherhood says Egypt unrest „not an Islamic uprising” (jihadwatch.org)
- Egyptians seek normalcy after days of unrest (sfgate.com)
- Echoes of Soviet collapse in Mideast revolt (sfgate.com)
- Echoes of Soviet collapse in Mideast revolt (seattletimes.nwsource.com)