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Is Russia Preparing to Get Closer to Iran in the Biden Era?

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Moscow is preparing to counter President Biden’s stringent policy against Russia, that was depicted as the “biggest threat” to the U.S. Recent remarks by Russian officials suggest that Moscow sees the Trump administration’s two main Iran policy legacies in the Middle East, i.e., withdrawing from JCPOA and emboldening Israel through peace deals, as an opportunity for deepening alignment with Iran and promoting Russia’s great power status. Although winning the next Iranian presidential election by hardliners will create an additional capacity to further contribute to Russo-Iranian relations, some complexities require a nuanced approach from both sides.

In his pre-election interviews, president-elect Joe Biden called Russia the “biggest threat” to the United States. No further details have been released about what that exactly means and what policy and goals his foreign policy and national security teams will pursue regarding Russia. Nonetheless, any possible “containment” policy against Russia by Washington will probably not exclude addressing Russian presence and policies in the regions like the Middle East or, for example, Eastern Europe. Such an approach will inevitably affect Russia’s bilateral ties with its allies and partners, including Iran. It may compel Moscow to devise new routes to achieve its regional and international interests and purposes.

Recent remarks by Russian officials caused speculation that Moscow has a calculated plan towards Iran, suggesting Moscow wants more proximity and maybe more intertwined relations with Tehran in the Biden era. Russia hopes Iran will not ignore its endeavours during Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign and not engage with the U.S. to the detriment of its partnership with Russia. Moscow claims if Russian past steps in favour of Iran turn into money, “it will be billions and billions of dollars” which “Tehran knows very well.” The estimation seems sensible from the Kremlin perspective because Russia perceives itself as a saviour of the JCPOA via diplomatic influence in Tehran, a covert contributor to Iran to endure the sanctions, booster of the country’s air-defence and reconnaissance radar capabilities, and opener of new regional markets for Iran.

On the other side, some different voices are heard from Iran, which to some extent can be worrisome for Russia. Ali Akbar Salehi, head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), recently maintained that Iran is the “buckle” of the “belt which the West has thrown around Russia” and President Biden wants to “compromise with Iran somehow to boost pressure on Russia.” He concluded that Iran is a “great and independent neighbour to Russia,” which now could benefit a new “historical opportunity” in the “US, China and Russia triangle.” Salehi’s opportunistic notion is not a dominant view in Tehran. In other words, Washington’s new “containment” policy against Moscow wouldn’t necessarily mean sole and unique opportunities for Tehran. Iran itself will face an entanglement with the Biden administration on its non-nuclear dossiers, which could even contain common ground for Russia and Iran to deepen their relations and use untapped potentials under certain strategic conditions. As stated, Russia is trying to set the stage to provide such conditions, but how?

Russia Sees the JCPOA as Its Key Play Ticket in Iran’s Dealing With the U.S.

Last year, when Iran decided to diminish its commitments under the JCPOA in response to the U.S. withdrawal from the deal, Vladimir Putin decried Tehran’s decision. He affirmed, “Russia is not a firefighting rescue crew… to save things that are not fully under our control.” His statements were covered in the Iranian media and raised historical doubts against Russian policy.

Reportedly, Russia has revised its role and now acts like a tireless “firefighter” to prohibit Iran from “emotional” actions such as “ending the application of Additional Protocol” or taking any other reckless nuclear steps. Moscow also proposed some diplomatic meetings, which were rejected by the US and Iran. Furthermore, Russia presented Collective Security in the Persian Gulf initiative to prevent any regional conflict.

Beyond the diplomatic endeavour, Moscow still advocates the U.S. rejoining to the JCPOA and lifting Iran’s sanctions. This is the same announced policy or at least initial steps that president-elect Joe Biden wants to take toward Iran. Although at first glance Tehran as a close partner of Moscow will take a fresh breath, and Russia may seem envious of that. Still, any new engagement between Iran and the U.S. on the JCPOA will reach Russia to the two major goals: asserting Russian great power status through emphasizing on its previous diplomatic efforts in the multilateral framework and proving to Iran that Moscow doesn’t consider illegal U.S. sanctions against Iran as an opportunity or play card.

Therefore, the Islamic Republic’s compromising with the West on issues like missiles program and regional influence, in a framework other than multilateralism, can be a significant concern for Kremlin. Unlike Iran’s nuclear program, which was a global problem, and Russia had leverage in the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and United Nations Security Council (UNSC), the Islamic Republic’s regional activities and missiles program are more of a concern to the U.S. and its regional allies.

Meanwhile, Iran and Russia seemingly have different views on the aftermath of the JCPOA and Iran’s non-nuclear dossiers. Tehran rejects any new nuclear and non-nuclear negotiations absolutely; Whereas Moscow bears a macro plan in mind. Russia believes the “normalization” of the JCPOA doesn’t require addressing Iran’s “missile program and regional behaviour” and as the latter two “have a chance to be settled only in the broader regional context,” it’s not needed to be “mix up” with “nuclear dossier.” In other words, Russia interprets these issues as negotiable under certain conditions and accepts Western demands, even implicitly.

Regardless of how many years its renegotiation and improvement would require, it seems that Russia views a well-functioning JCPOA as a necessary ticket to attend in Iran’s presumptive future non-nuclear negotiations with U.S. and European powers. But the Supreme Leader of Iran Ayatollah Ali Khamenei insists upon preserving Iran’s regional presence and missile power and rejects any pullback. This is an area of disagreement between Tehran and Moscow. Iran pursues lifting the sanctions and the U.S. returning to the JCPOA without any preconditions and other demands or adjustments based on new developments. Tehran is not enthusiastic about reviving the JCPOA in its original form and is preparing itself for more nuclear escalation.

Therefore, although the JCPOA provides Russia with ample space and opportunity to exhibit its diplomatic status against the U.S., it wouldn’t be an easy task for it to play a constructive role in the nuclear deal in a way that Iran is satisfied with. There has not yet leaked any indication of exchanging views from Russo-Iranian diplomatic collaborations on how Tehran and Moscow intend to address the issue and how they want to bring their views closer together.

Shifting Russian Rhetoric in Favor of Iran Against Israel

Overlooking Israel’s campaign against Iran in Syria has raised critical voices against Russia inside Iran. This compounds societal, historical mistrust between the two countries and amplifies pessimism toward Russia in some Iranian political groups. Though Russia is a great power with enormous capabilities and an undeniable contribution in Syria that couldn’t be ignored or rebuked by Iranian officials, the bilateral dynamics may be affected negatively in the long-term.

Notwithstanding close relations with Israel, Russia adopted a position similar to that of Iran regarding the recent peace deals between Israel and some Arab nations. While underlining its own role in the Middle East peace process, Moscow announced U.S.-brokered peace deals “should not be used as the substitute for the settlement of the Palestinian issue.” In another important case for Iran, the Russian ambassador in Tel Aviv strongly criticized Israel’s regional behaviour, which was signalling Iran’s defensive stance in the region. Anatoly Viktorov told the Israeli newspaper that the problem of the region “is not Iranian activities” and it is Israel who “destabilizes the Middle East” through “attacking Hezbollah.” “Israel must not attack the territories of sovereign UN members,” he added.

Viktorov’s remarks come from a strategic view and prudence. From the Russian point of view, limitless supporting of Tel Aviv’s military-diplomatic campaign in the current situation of the region can be counterproductive and lead to the marginalization of Russia’s influence and footprint in the Middle East political peace process. Additionally, as the growing normalization process continues in parallel with intensifying Israelis aggressive military campaign against Iranian targets in the region, the Russian critical voice against Israel could, at least, prevent more escalation between Tehran and Tel Aviv. Obviously, more escalation provides Iran with more evidence to justify its missile program and regional activities as necessary defensive tools against the “enemy.” This, in turn, would encourage Iran to stay away from the negotiation table as much as possible.

Moscow knows that the furthering of normal relations between Arab countries and Israel will also result in more political isolation of Iran in the Middle East and make Tehran more enthusiastic about increasing Russian involvement in the region. Hence, rebalancing some aspects of the new environment of the region in favour of the Islamic Republic as a “strategic partner” would echo broadly in the Iranian hardliner political circles and stimulate them to give Russia a bigger economic and military footprint in Iran.

Russia and the Coming Hardliner President of Iran

Critics accuse Rouhani’s government of waiting for negotiations with the U.S. new administration and not paying enough attention to Eastern powers like Russia and China. One of the conservative Iranian MPs stated, “China does not has enough confidence in Rouhani’s government and is waiting for the next government of Iran so that may be able to reach an agreement with the hardliners at the time.” Kayhan newspaper, close to Supreme Leader of Iran also wrote “negotiations [with the United States and Europe] make non-U.S. and non-European ways unsafe for us… because it confuses countries like China, Russia and India… and they doubt our sincerity in… turning to Eastern policy.” Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif stressed his record and called Iran’s relations with Russia “unprecedented in history” and claimed it was only in the Rouhani’s administration that “China accepted its relations with Iran to be strategic.” “My thirty visits to Russia are more than all of my foreign trips,” he said.

Discrediting Rouhani’s efforts to rehabilitate the JCPOA and lift sanctions through compromise with Biden’s administration does not mean hardliners rule out negotiations entirely. With a conservative in the horizon as Iran’s next president, hardliners will complete their power monolith. As the most devoted to the Islamic Republic’s core values and achievements, negotiations on non-nuclear issues with the United States will probably be on their agenda. Yet, due to changes in Iran’s periphery security environment, such as the dire hostility of Saudi Arabia and Israel toward Tehran and Arab-Israeli normalization, they would face a difficult balancing act between demands of the U.S. and its regional allies, keeping critical national security guarantees against regional foes, and bounding to mottos and ideals.

A hardliner figure close to the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) taking power will lighten the image of the binary governance in Iran and bring the Supreme Leader and Presidency close together. This could give eager Russia more assurance to regard the new president as “authorized” and the desirable representative of the system (Nezam). Unlike Zarif’s close collaboration with Russia, for example, Moscow hasn’t hastened to get his signature on the revised version of the Russia-Iran 2001 treaty, which includes cooperation principles on a wide variety of fields.

However, critics will seek more progressive contributions to their “resistance” discourse by Russia. As the U.S. and Europe move beyond the JCPOA and address the Islamic Republic’s missile program and regional activities, resorting to Russian diplomatic weight to counter the Western campaign will be an available option for Tehran. From Iran’s perspective, Israel’s extending regional diplomatic campaign could quickly turn into a defensive alliance with Arabs or even a military threat against Tehran. Therefore, the next government in Iran under a hardline president would expect Moscow to bolster Tehran’s deterrence power by providing it with strategic arms, such as jet fighters and advanced air defence systems, including the S-400, and push back Israel to the country’s southern borders.

Additionally, as Iran prepares itself for oil production with full capacity to retake its market share in the post-sanctions era, it will pursue Moscow’s practical steps. Iranian oil minister Bijan Zanganeh, as an influential energy figure in Iran, met with Russian energy officials in Moscow on December 20. He described the energy cooperation of the two countries as “expanding day by day” which is to “neutralize the consequences of sanctions.” Zanganeh assured Moscow implicitly that Iran-Russia partnership will not change under a new situation and “ups and downs in the international arena.” Without giving any specific details, he showed a green light to Russian energy companies to “operate” and “invest” in Iran.

Economically, Russia isn’t as capable as others such as China, yet it is interested in benefitting from Iran’s new market and infrastructure projects, as well as getting its fair share of Tehran’s Eastern strategy. Nevertheless, the Russians take the punitive U.S. sanctions seriously and see them as a significant impediment to Iran’s path. Lifting part of Iran’s sanctions by the Biden administration, including the arms embargo, would pave the way and raise Tehran’s expectations.

The Bottom Line

The rise of a new convergence of the needs between Tehran and Moscow doesn’t necessarily imply determination from both sides to usher in a new phase of coordination at the regional and bilateral levels against the U.S. The possibilities are different from practical decisions. Despite some exaggerated views in Iran on Russo-Iranian relations, Russia always has a balanced foreign policy approach and avoided relations with Iran bearing any extra cost and affecting relations with the U.S., Europe and the Middle East.

Based on this perspective, adhering to Iran’s unlimited nuclear escalation, missile program, and regional activities could be very costly to Moscow. Even facing the new, aggressive U.S. campaign, Russia will view Iran through the great power competition framework. Drivers such as new sanctions or other diplomatic measures aimed at isolating Russia in the Middle East and curtailing its influence will not be profound enough to provoke Moscow to reconsider engagement with Tehran.

Iran needs to understand Russian regional and global constraints. Russian power and influence is limited and can only impact some mild changes and rebalances. If Tehran reaches an ultimate escalation with the U.S. and maintains its current position, anticipating significant Russian contributions will be unproductive and in vain.

From our partner RIAC

PhD candidate in the Faculty of Law and Political Science at University of Tehran and MA in International Relations from Shahid Beheshti University in Tehran, Iran

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Middle East

“Kurdish Spring”: drawing to a close?

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For decades, the Kurdish problem was overshadowed by the Palestinian one, occasionally popping up in international media reports following the much-publicized arrest of the leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), the genocide of Iraqi Kurds and the scandalous referendum in Iraqi Kurdistan. A few years ago, the Syrian and Iraqi Kurds’ opposition to the “Islamic State” (banned in Russia) pushed them to the forefront of global politics with the media now talking about the so-called “Kurdish Spring.”

In short, the Kurdish problem boils down not only to the absence of independent statehood for 40 million people, who account for approximately 20 percent of the population of Turkey and Iraq, and between eight and 15 percent of Iran and Syria, but also to the refusal by Ankara, Tehran and Damascus to discuss the possibility of an autonomous status for the Kurds. Today, the very issue of Kurdish independence is being hushed up, at least in public.

The first example of Kurdish statehood in modern history was in Iran: in 1946, the Kurdish Autonomous Republic was proclaimed in the city of Mahabad, only to survive less than a year. Since then, the Iranian authorities have spared no effort to make sure the name of one of the country’s provinces (Kurdistan Ostan) is the only remainder of the Kurds’ presence in the Islamic Republic. The situation is further aggravated by the fact that the Kurds, most of whom happen to be Sunnis, are a hurdle on Tehran’s official course to achieve the religious unity of the Iranian people.

Since all Kurdish organizations, let alone political parties, are outlawed, most of them are based in neighboring Iraqi Kurdistan. For most Kurdish organizations, the original goal of gaining independence has increasingly been transformed into a demand for autonomy for Kurds inside Iran.

The other “pole” of Kurdish nationalism is Iraqi Kurdistan. The history of the region’s autonomy goes back to 1970, and since the 90s, it has been sponsored by the Americans, who needed a ground base for the “Gulf War.” In 2003, the Iraqi Peshmerga helped the Anglo-American troops to topple the country’s ruling Ba’athist regime.

Under the current Iraqi constitution, Kurdistan enjoys broad autonomy, bordering on the status of an independent state with nearly 40 foreign consulates general, including a Russian one, officially operating in the regional capital Erbil, and in Sulaymaniyah.

Following the referendum on independence (2017), which was not recognized by either Baghdad or the world community (except Israel), Baghdad sent troops into the region, forcing the resignation of the President of the Kurdistan Regional Government and the founder of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) Massoud Barzani. He has maintained a close presence though, with both the current president and the prime minister bearing the same surname.

According to various sources, the armed forces of the Iraqi Kurds number between 80,000 to 120,000, armed with heavy weapons, armored vehicles and tanks, and their number keeps growing. Who are they going to fight? Erbil is on fairly good terms with Turkey and Iran, the autonomy’s two “windows to the world,” and you don’t need a huge army to keep the remnants of jihadist forces in check, do you? Iraq? Iraq is a different matter though, given the presence of disputed territories, the unsettled issue of distribution of oil export revenues, and a deep-seated rejection of the 2017 Iraqi military invasion.

However, the political ambitions of the Barzani and Talabani clans, who divided Iraqi Kurdistan into zones of influence back in the 70s, are obviously offset by oil revenues, and are unlikely to extend beyond the “return” of the territories lost to Baghdad in 2017.

The Turkish factor is a major factor in the life of Iraqi Kurdistan: several thousand Turkish military personnel are deployed there, checking the activity of mountains-based armed units of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, which is branded by Ankara as a “terrorist” organization. Baghdad is unhappy about their presence, while Erbil, rather, pretends to be unhappy as it is in a state of undeclared war with the PKK itself. At the same time, Turkish soldiers are standing by to nip in the bud any further attempts by the region’s Kurdish authorities to gain sovereignty as Ankara fears that an independent Kurdish state will set a “bad example” for Kurds living in Turkey proper.

During the 1980s, several regions in southeastern Turkey declared themselves “liberated” from Ankara. In 1984, the “Marxist-Leninist” PKK (created in 1978) prevailed over all the other local Kurdish groups and declared war on the Turkish authorities. Following the arrest of their leader in 1999, the PKK militants were squeezed out of the country into Syria and Iraq, despite the fact that discarding the slogan of creating a “united and independent” Kurdistan, the party had already settled for a demand for Kurdish autonomy within Turkish borders.

For many decades, the Turkish authorities denied the very existence of Kurds as an ethnic group. During the 2000s, in a bid to sweeten the pill for the Kurds, and meeting the requirements of the European Union, the Turkish government came up with the so-called “Kurdish initiative,” lifting the ban on the use of the Kurdish language, returning Kurdish names to a number of settlements, etc.

Legal organizations and parties, advocating the rights of the Kurds, were granted greater freedom of action. However, this did not prevent the authorities from banning such parties for “connections with terrorists” and “separatism.” The current Kurdish party (creation of any associations on a national basis is prohibited) – the Peoples’ Democracy Party – is also under serious pressure with some of its leading members currently behind bars.

However, the apparent defeat in the military conflict with NATO’s second largest army is forcing Turkey’s Kurdish nationalists to focus on a legal political struggle.

During the past few years the main attention of the international community has for obvious reasons been focused on the Syrian Kurds, who for many decades remained “second-class citizens” or even stateless persons in their own country. Any manifestations of discontent, which occasionally boiled over into uprisings, was severely suppressed by the authorities.

With the outbreak of the civil war, the Kurds assumed the position of armed neutrality, and in 2012, announced the creation of their own statehood with the capital in El Qamishli. Six years later, the name of the quasi-state was changed from a “democratic federation” to an “autonomous administration,” meant to demonstrate the refusal by the authorities of Syrian Kurdistan to pursue their initial demand for independence.

Needless to say, that change of priorities was prompted by the occupation by Turkish troops and their proxies of parts of the Kurdish territories. In 2019, Ankara halted its military advance only after the Kurds had allowed Syrian troops into the areas under their control, and international players “dissuaded” Ankara from any further expansion.

In addition to the Turkish factor, another important factor with a serious bearing on the situation are US troops and members of American military companies who remain in northeastern Syria without any legal grounds for their presence.  Back when the current US President was Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he promoted the idea of ​​creating a Kurdish state in Iraq and Syria. The Kurds have long lost their faith in Washington’s desire to grant them independence, but in bargaining with Damascus for the delimitation of powers, they never miss a chance to refer to US support.

However, in recent years, the Syrian Kurds (and not only them) have had ample opportunity to feel the results of Washington’s unreliability as a partner.

A lack of trust in the Americans, on the one hand, and the constant threat from Turkey, on the other, are forcing the Kurdish leaders to ramp up the negotiation process with the leadership of the Syrian Arab Republic. Moreover, the Kurds are pinning their hopes for the success of the negotiations primarily on the mediation of Russia, given Moscow’s allied relations with the Syrian authorities. Besides, Moscow maintains working ties with the leadership of the self-proclaimed autonomy, and with the leaders of the opposition Kurdish parties.

Meanwhile, the negotiations are stalling with Damascus opposed to the idea of either autonomy or the preservation of the Kurdish armed forces’ organizational independence. It is still imperative, however, for the sides to agree on certain conditions. The “return” of the Kurds can become a turning point in the intra-Syrian confrontation as the Americans will feel too “uncomfortable” in a united Syria, and the Turks will lose the main argument for their continued occupation of the border zone, which will now be controlled not by “terrorists,” but by the central government. Which, by the way, is gaining more and more legitimacy even in the eyes of yesterday’s irreconcilable opponents.

From our partner International Affairs

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UAE schoolbooks earn high marks for cultural tolerance, even if that means praising China

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An Israeli NGO gives the United Arab Emirates high marks for mandating schoolbooks that teach tolerance, peaceful coexistence, and engagement with non-Muslims.

“The Emirati curriculum generally meets international standards for peace and tolerance. Textbooks are free of hate and incitement against others. The curriculum teaches students to value the principle of respect for other cultures and encourages curiosity and dialogue. It praises love, affection, and family ties with non-Muslims,” the 128-page study by The Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se) concluded.

However, at the same time, the report appeared in its evaluation of Emirati textbooks to hue closely to Israeli policy towards the UAE and, more generally, most states that populate the Middle East.

As a result, the report, like Israel that seemingly sees autocracy rather than greater freedoms as a stabilizing factor in the Middle East, skirts the issue of the weaving of the principle of uncritical obedience to authority into the fabric of Emirati education.

That principle is embedded in the teaching of “patriotism” and “commitment to defending the homeland,” two concepts highlighted in the report. The principle is also central to the notion of leadership, defined in the report as a pillar of national identity.

Ryan Bohl, an American who taught in an Emirati public school a decade ago, could have told Impact-se about the unwritten authoritarian principles embedded in the country’s education system.

There is little reason to believe that much has changed since Mr. Bohl’s experience and every reason to assume that those principles have since been reinforced.

One of a number of Westerners hired by the UAE to replace Arab teachers suspected of sympathising with the Muslim Brotherhood, Mr. Bohl described in an interview teaching in Emirati classrooms as “following the autocratic method, very similar to the ruler and the ruled.”

It’s in classrooms, Mr. Bohl said, “where those political attitudes get formed, reinforced, enforced in some cases if kids like they do, decide to deviate outside the line. They understand what the consequences are long before they can become a political threat or an activist threat to the regime. It’s all about creating a chill effect.”

Seemingly to avoid discussion of the notion of critical thinking, the IMPACT-se report notes that students “prepare for a highly competitive world; they are taught positive thinking and well-being.”

The report’s failure to discuss the limits of critical thinking and attitudes towards authority that may be embedded in the framing of education rather than in textbooks raises the question of whether textbook analysis is sufficient to evaluate attitudes that education systems groom in their tutoring of successive generations.

It also opens to debate whether notions of peace and cultural tolerance can be isolated from degrees of social and political tolerance and pluriformity.

The report notes positively that the textbooks “offer a realistic approach to peace and security,” a reference to the UAE’s recognition of Israel in 2020, its downplaying of efforts to address Palestinian aspirations, and its visceral opposition to any form of political Islam with debilitating consequences in countries like Egypt, Libya, and Yemen.

It would be hard to argue that intervention by the UAE and others, including Saudi Arabia, Turkey, France, and Russia, in whatever form contributed to peace and security.

The report notes that “support for the Palestinian cause continues but no longer (is) seen as key to solving the broader range of regional challenges. Radicalism and hate are the chief threat. Iranian expansionism is a threat.”

This is not to suggest that IMPACT-se’s evaluation of textbooks should judge Emirati policies but to argue that rather than uncritically legitimising them, it should explicitly instead of implicitly acknowledge that the country’s next generation is being shaped by a top-down, government-spun version of what the meaning is of lofty principles proclaimed by Emirati leaders.

To its credit, the report implicitly states that Emirati concepts of tolerance are not universal but subject to what the country’s rulers define as its national interests.

As a result, it points out that “the People’s Republic of China is surprisingly described as a tolerant, multicultural society, which respects religions” despite the brutal crackdown on religious and ethnic expressions of Turkic Muslim identity in the north-western province of Xinjiang.

IMPACT-se further notes that the textbooks fail to teach the Middle East’s history of slavery. The report insists that the Holocaust and the history of Jews, particularly in the Middle East, should be taught but makes no similar demand for multiple other minorities, including those accused of being heretics.

The NGO suggests that the UAE could also improve its educational references to Israel. The report takes note that “anti-Israeli material has been moderated” in textbooks that teach “cooperating with allies” and “peacemaking” as priorities.

However, UAE recognition of Israel does not mean that a map of Israel is included in the teaching of the establishment of diplomatic relations with the Jewish state.

To be fair, Israel may not yet feature on Emirati maps, but Jewish life is increasingly part of public life in the UAE. Kosher restaurants are open for business, as is a Jewish cultural center. Large menorahs were lit in city squares to celebrate the Jewish feast of Hanukkah in December, and a government-funded synagogue is scheduled to open later this year.

Meanwhile, Arab Jews who once fled to Israel and the West are settling in the UAE, partly attracted by financial incentives.

Striking a mildly critical note, IMPACT-se research director Eldad J. Pardo suggested that Emirati students, who were well served by the curriculum’s “pursuit of peace and tolerance,” would benefit from courses that are “equally unrelenting” in providing “students with unbiased information in all fields.”

Mr. Pardo was referring to not only to China but also the curriculum’s endorsement of traditional gender roles even if it anticipates the integration of women into the economy and public life, and what the report described as an “unbalanced” depiction of the history of the Ottoman Empire.

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Iraq: Three Years of Drastic Changes (2019-2022)

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When the wave of the protests broke out at the beginning of October 2019 in Iraq, the Iraqi politicians did not realize the size of the gap between the demands of the protesters which were accumulated more than seventeen years, and the isolation of the politicians from the needs of the people. The waves of the protests began in a small range of different areas in Iraq. Rapidly, it expanded as if it were a rolling snowball in many regions of Iraqi governorates. Moreover, the platforms of social media and the influencers had a great impact on unifying the people against the government and enhancing the protest movement.

Al Tarir Square was the region where most protesters and demonstrators were based there. At that time, they stayed all day in this region and set up their tents to protest and demonstrate against the public situation of their life.

The protesters demanded their looted rights and asked for making economic reforms, finding job opportunities, changing the authority, and toppling the government presided by Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi. The protest stayed between ebb and tide, pressuring the political authority in Iraq.

A new period began in the history of Iraq where clashes between the protesters and the riot forces broke out in Al Tahrir Square and many governorates in the south of Iraq. Tear gas and ductile bullets were used against the protesters to compel them to retreat and disperse them. But the protesters insisted on continuing their demands. Many protesters were killed and wounded due to the intensive violence against them. The strong pressure with falling many martyrs gave its fruit when the Iraqi representatives of the Parliament endeavored to achieve the protesters’ demands by changing the election law into a new one. On 24 December 2019, the Iraqi Parliament approved of changing the unfair Saint Leigo election law into the open districts. The new law divided Iraq into 83 electoral districts.

Moreover, this violent protest led to the collapse of the Iraqi government presided by Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi. He was compelled to resign by the end of 2019. Many political names were nominated by the Iraqi politicians but the protesters refused them all because they were connected with different political parties.

Finally, Mustafa Al-Kadhimi, who worked in the Iraqi Intelligence Service and had no party, was nominated by the politicians to be the new Prime Minister. He was well-known for ambiguity and far from the lights of media.

Mustafa Al-Kadhimi has become the Prime Minister in March 2020. The protests were over at the beginning of April 2020. With the taking of responsibility of helping Iraq, Mustafa Al-Kadhimi promised the protesters, who were called “Octoberians”, to hold a premature election, and the election was fixed on 10 June 2020.

Many politicians tried to postpone or cancel the premature election. Under their pressure, the premature election was postponed and fixed on 10 October 2020. During Mustafa Al-Kadhimi’s period as a Prime Minister, he opened new channels with the Arab states to enhance the cooperation and held many summits to support Iraq in the next stage.

Attempts to postpone the premature election by the Iraqi politicians were on equal foot, but all these attempts failed and the election occurred on the due time.

Before the election, many Octoberians and influencers encouraged the people not to participate in the election. On the day of the election, it witnessed low participation, and people were convinced of not happening any change. These calls gave their fruits in the process of elections in Iraq where the election witnessed very low participation, and most Iraqis refused to participate and vote to the nominees even though there was a new election law. When the elections were over, the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) in Iraq announced that the results would be within two days. After announcing the results of the election partially and defeating many political factions in the Iraqi arena, many convictions were directed to the commission, and it was convicted by fraud and manipulation with the results. This aspect affected the activity of the Commission and led to put great pressure on it. After two weeks of pressure and convictions, the final results of the elections were announced and many political elite Iraqi leaders were defeated gravely.

The results of the election gave a new start through new leaders who were supporting the October revolution that happened in 2019. And most names of these winning movements and alliances were inspired by the October Movement. Those, who represented October Revolution, were also convicted by other Octoberians that Octoberian winners in the election deviated from the aims of the October Revolution.

A new struggle has begun between the losers in the election and the new winners who will have the right to be in the next term of the Iraqi Council Parliament of Representatives. Moreover, many independent individuals won in the election, and the conflict would deepen the scope of dissidence between the losers and winners. Finally, all raised claims of election fraud have not changed the political situation.

The final results of the election had been announced, and the date of holding the first session of the Iraqi Parliament of Representatives was fixed to nominate and elect the spokesman of the Iraqi Parliament of Representatives.  The Shiite Sadrist movement, which represents 73 seats, has wiped out its competitors. This aspect has compelled the losing Shiite competitors to establish an alliance called “Coordination Framework” to face the Sadrist movement, represented by the cleric Sayyed Muqtada al-Sader. On the other hand, Al-Takadum Movement (Progress Party), represented by the spokesman of the Iraqi Parliament of Representatives, Mohamed Al-Halbousi, has taken the second rank with 37 seats.

The final results of the election had been announced, and the date of holding the first session of the Iraqi Parliament of Representatives was fixed to nominate and elect the spokesman of the Iraqi Parliament of Representatives.

Finally, the first session of the Iraqi Council Parliament of Council was held. Mohamed Al-Halbousi has been elected as the spokesman of the Iraqi Council Parliament of Council. During the next fifteen days, the president of the republic will be elected.

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Middle East21 hours ago

“Kurdish Spring”: drawing to a close?

For decades, the Kurdish problem was overshadowed by the Palestinian one, occasionally popping up in international media reports following the...

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