Arab spring influences situation in Caucasus, Central Asia – Margelov

ITAR-TASS
March 12, 2012 Monday

DATELINE: MOSCOW March 12

The so-called "Arab Spring" events have a direct impact on the situation in the Caucasus and Central Asia, presidential special envoy for Africa Mikhail Margelov said.

Margelov, who is also chairman of the Federation Council Foreign Affairs Committee, took part the committee’s visiting session in Valdai on Monday. Discussions are devoted to the Arab Spring events, their causes, lessons and the scenario. The session involves Russian legislators, scientists and experts, the public and businessmen. Among them are director of the Institute for Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences Vitaly Naumkin, director of the Centre for European Security Tatyana Parkhalina and president of the Institute for Middle East Studies Yevgeny Satanovsky.

During the discussions, experts tried to sum up preliminary results of the unprecedented changes in the Arab world. "Although the processes in the Middle East are developing dynamically, it is possible to sum up certain results of Russia’s policy in this region," Margelov said. "Moreover, the consequences of the revolutions have a direct impact on the situation in the countries and regions that have borders with Russia," the legislator added.

Other participants said, "The hopes for liberalisation in the Middle East failed. Islamists came to power after the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt." "However, they took power by democratic means – through elections," political scientists said.

In their view, this is also related to Libya and Syria. "If the regime changes in Damascus, the Salafiyyah movement can be a decisive force by taking into account serious disagreements among the opposition, experts say. The experts said they "are convinced that the sharpening of disagreements between Sunnites and Shiites are the key force of the changes in the region".

Commenting on Russia’s role in this context, political scientists agreed that the priority of Russian diplomats "is to continue to stay above the fray".

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