Research

A truism that is valid for almost all revolutions – including the English, French, and the European revolutions of the mid-nineteenth century, the Iranian Revolution and east European revolutions after the Cold War – is that every revolution has an associated counterrevolution. A common thread through most modern revolutions is that they expressed the desire of the people in a nation to restrain the modern state either by demanding constitutional rights and democracy, confronting authoritarianism and the hegemony of the ruling elite, or by demanding a just social system that would be based on the redistribution of economic burdens and wealth. The success of a revolution, however, has never been guaranteed. In the past few decades, the countries that have experienced relatively easy transitions to democracy have been those that had been part of broader regional systems, or which had received support from regional bodies such as the European Union. Even such countries were not always spared counterrevolutionary retaliations.

When the Saudi ambassador in Washington announced the launching of airstrikes and a military intervention in Yemen on Wednesday night, the kingdom surprised everyone - not least Iran.Conventional wisdom was that Riyadh had dithered and left it too late. The Houthis and elements of the army loyal to the ousted autocrat Ali Abdullah Saleh and his son Ahmed had advanced on the southern city of Aden with such speed that its fall, and that of President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi, was considered only a matter of time.

Russia is working to expand its footprint in the Middle East, pursuing both diplomatic and commercial advantages. What Moscow is also aiming at is the diversification of relations beyond long-standing partners such as Iran and the Syrian regime. Building up its military presence in Syria to prop up Bashar al-Assad, it has also reached out to the Gulf countries. The Middle East is key to Russia’s bid to gain recognition as one of the pillars of a new multi-polar order, balance the US and assert power in its neighborhood. But such ambitions are still a long way from attainment, while risks originating from the region, from the rise of jihadist militancy to collapsing oil prices, are all too real.

After more than a decade since the United States-led invasion, Iraq still struggles to be a functioning state. Political, economic and social problems have beset the country. Failures in the functioning of the state have led to widespread protests in several cities over the last couple of weeks. In order to answer the demands of the protestors and overcome challenges within the state apparatus, Prime Minister Abadi introduced sweeping reforms in administrative, economic and financial issues along with efforts to combat corruption. The success of these reforms remains to be seen. However, if successful, they will empower Abadi against his political opponents as well.

In the 7 June 2015 general elections in Turkey, nearly all components of Kurdish nationalism supported the Peoples’ Democracy Party (HDP). Particularly noticeable among them were Kurdish Islamist nationalists from such religio-political formations as Med-Zehra, Nubihar, Öze Dönüş Platform and Azadi. For the first time in republican history, Kurdish Islamists acquired publicity as the Islamist segment of the Kurdish national movement and created an Islamic political discourse that severely criticized the notion of Islamic fraternity as the Islamist mask of assimilationism. The emergence of Kurdish Islamism, its Islamic narrative, its secession from the ruling AK Party and its crystallization as the Islamist wing of the Kurdish national/ist movement have produced new challenges for Kurdish as well as Turkish politics.

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