World View: Iranians Commemorate 34th Anniversary of Storming U.S. Embassy

This morning's key headlines from

  • Volgograd suicide bombing heightens xenophobic tensions in Russia
  • Iranians commemorate 34th anniversary of storming U.S. Embassy
  • Israeli officials says U.S. will 'force' peace deal with Palestinians

Volgograd suicide bombing heightens xenophobic tensions in Russia

Female suicide bomber Naida Asiyalova (R), 30, and her husband Dmitry Sokolov, 22 (RT)
Female suicide bomber Naida Asiyalova (R), 30, and her husband Dmitry Sokolov, 22 (RT)

The October 21 Volgograd suicide bombing by female bomber Naida Asiyalova that we reported last week has heightened tensions between mostly Orthodox Christian ethnic Russians and the mostly Muslim residents of the North Caucasus, Russia's southern provinces. Russia is continuing to turn into two separate nations, one of ethnic Russians, one of Caucasians. 

A few days after the Volgograd bombing, ultra-nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky, a close associate of president Vladimir Putin and the leader of Russia's nationalist LDPR party, said on a television talk show debate that the whole Caucasus region should be fenced off with barbed wire, and that birth control should be enforced on the entire population of the Caucasus. Despite the characterization of his remarks as "fascist," viewers voted for Zhirinovsky over his opponent by a ratio of 3.5 to 1. 

Zhirinovsky didn't back off. On October 31, he expressed concern that ethnic Russians were living in a "humiliated" state while the Caucasus provinces have excessive autonomy. He said that in order to strengthen the country, the ethnic republics within Russia should be disbanded and non-Russian languages outlawed. 

Vladimir Zhirinovsky (RT)

Vladimir Zhirinovsky (RT)

At other times, Zhirinovsky's remarks might simply be ignored, but in the current inflamed climate they're sharply dividing public opinion. This presents the Kremlin with a dilemma. Some officials would like to bring criminal charges against Zhirinovsky for inciting hatred. If Moscow reprimands Zhirinovsky, thereby supporting the North Caucasians, it will face a backlash from ethnic Russians. If Moscow does not react to Zhirinovsky’s tirade, it will disappoint the North Caucasians and undermine the positions of the governors in the region. 

The Volgograd suicide bombing was not an isolated incident. Older Caucasians had organized communities to preserve Soviet-era policies. But in the last 15 years, younger generations of Muslims have been increasingly supporting Salafist interpretations of Islam, and now violence in the Caucasus is almost a daily occurrence. Among Russian officials, the biggest concern is that there will be a terrorist bombing during the Sochi Winter Olympics to take place in February; for that reason, Russia's security forces are going to extraordinary lengths to lock down the Caucasus. Russia Today and Jamestown and EurasiaNet

Iranians commemorate 34th anniversary of storming U.S. Embassy

Tens of thousands of demonstrators chanted "Death to America!" outside the former U.S. embassy in Tehran, Iran on Monday, as they celebrated the 34th anniversary of Iran's takeover of the embassy in 1979. This was the beginning of the hostage crisis, an event still imprinted on many American minds, as 52 Americans were held for 444 days. At the time, evening network newscasts would begin with words similar to, "This is day number 298 that Americans are being held hostage in Iran." Thanks to Iran's actions in holding dozens of Americans hostage for over a year, there has been a deep rift between Iran and America since then. 

Today, Iranians chanting "Death to America!" is as fashionable and as much de rigeur as someone from Boston yelling, "Go Red Sox!" November 4 is celebrated each year as "the National Day of Confrontation with Arrogance." But this year the crowds were the largest in years because of the critical generational battle being fought in Tehran between the older generations of survivors of the Great Islamic Revolution and the younger generations growing up afterwards. (See "2-Nov-13 World View -- Growing power struggle in Iran may make Rafsanjani the Supreme Leader"

Today's crowds of hardliners may have been expressing opposition to America, but they were actually expressing opposition to the plans of the new president Hassan Rouhani to conduct nuclear negotiations with the West. Al Jazeera

Israeli officials says U.S. will 'force' peace deal with Palestinians

Zehava Galon, the head of Israel's far-left Meretz party, is saying that U.S. officials would present an Israeli-Palestinian peace plan in January, 2014, and impose the plan on both sides by force. Under the imposed plan, Israel's boundaries would move back to the 1949 Armistice lines. There's no word on what form the force would take. Israel National News

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Russia, Volgograd, Sochi, Naida Asiyalova, Dmitry Sokolov, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, Iran, Death to America, National Day of Confrontation with Arrogance, Zehava Galon, Israel 

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