Photo source: AZERTAC (2016).
The recent leaks about Azerbaijan lobbying activity revealed the mechanisms of how states promote its interests internationally. This may be considered as soft power, which in the world of squeezed geopolitics has become the lubricant in affecting major international actors for its own use. The case of Azerbaijan became known as Laundromat illustrates how large amounts, spent mostly in Europe, targeted both political and economic interests of Azerbaijan and had not only external, but a domestic effect as well.
Image: Mehr news agency.
Iran’s Intelligence minister Mahmoud Alavi speaking in the national parliament on 16 August stated that his ministry in recent four years had neutralised about 120 guerilla and terrorist groups which entered Iran’s territory. At the same time, about three tons of explosives, “thousands” of fire arms and ammunition as well as dozens of suicide vests were seized, and dozens of roadside explosive devices eliminated, so Alavi.
Many of the groups fighting against Iran‘s central government, Tehran believes, were supported by Arab monarchies of the Persian Gulf, including Saudi Arabia. Although many factors make Tehran realise what a powerful coalition it has to counter, one of the most painful challenges for Tehran is subversive and terrorist activities on its territory. Iran not only noticed that Saudi Arabia and its allies had received a carte blanche from the US under president Trump for a campaign against Tehran and its allies. Iran felt it on its own skin in recent months, and not only because of the double attack on Tehran on 7 June.
Iranian media regularly report about terrorist and guerilla activities inside the country. Arguably the majority of them may relate to Kurdish– and Baloch-populated region of the country. Continue reading
A spectacular criminal gang symbolises an emerging vital threat to the Russian state?
For the last weeks, Russia has been watching the public trial of the so called ‘GTA gang’. The process underwent remarkable changes. Initially, Russian authorities widely discussed extremist Sunni Islamist aspects in the gang’s activities. Quite a lot of evidence was cited as implicit and explicit proof: confiscation of extremist religious literature from the gang members, association of the gang members with persons newly converted to Islam, involvement of the gang members in sending militants to Syria, etc. Now all those statements have disappeared without intelligible explanations of the state officials. Even more, some of political commentators known to be close to the Kremlin continue hinting at ideological background of the gang.
It leads to the idea that the Russian authorities are trying to avoid focusing on the likely interweaving of criminal communities’ interests and the ones of the Islamist underground, which is likely to take place. And the GTA case indicates a new source of extremist Sunni threat, considerably more dangerous than previous ones to existence of the Russian Federation in its current borders and shape. Continue reading
In his interview to Asr-e Iran on 14 January, Second Deputy Chairman of Iranian parliament Ali Mottahari cited Iran’s missile test launches among various “radical excesses” which in recent years “did harm to our [Islamic] revolution.” According to him, the missile launches were efforts to sabotage the Iran’s nuclear deal, the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Continue reading
Russian military involvement in the Syrian conflict has become one of the most significant activities of Russia in the Middle East in the last decades. Just five years ago Russia stayed neutral as the NATO intervened in Libyan civil war and any Russian military involvement in the Arab Spring chaos seemed unimaginable. Russian officials always declared support of Assad regime, but nobody expected Moscow to send military forces to protect Assad. And then, last September Russian Airspace Force launched its first strikes at the Syrian armed opposition.
There were many ideas articulated about the motives of such active Russian involvement in the Syrian affairs. Today, after the USA and Russia try to impose a ceasefire, it is time to summarise and synthesise versions and opinions about Russian motives in Syria: Continue reading
In a lengthy interview on the eve of the Islamic Revolution Day Iran’s Defence Minister Hossein Dehghan presented optimistic although contradictory picture of Iran’s military capacities. Talking to the Second Channel of Iranian TV on Tuesday he reported also remarkable details about the country’s recent arms purchases abroad.
Tehran seems to pursue very pragmatic line dealing with Russia. And given apparent lack of Moscow’s reaction to Iran’s cancelling or reviewing its deal with Russia, Tehran is by far not the junior partner in the de-facto military alliance between Russia and Iran which emerged over the war in Syria. Continue reading