Is Putin Turning against Russian Minorities, Especially Jews?

A major organ of Russia’s state-controlled press has published a dubious report on the distribution of wealth among the country’s various ethnic groups. Jews, unsurprisingly, are listed as holding the most wealth of any non-Russian ethnicity. The overall message is that minorities—Jews, ethnic Ukrainians, Armenians—have grown fat at the expense of “real Russians,” who have been deprived of their fair share. This piece of “reportage,” Masha Gessen writes, suggests that Putin has settled on his regime’s newest scapegoats:

Russia is casting about for new enemies, and the media appear to feel the need to contribute to the search. For two months now the state propaganda machine has been pulling back from the intense anti-Ukrainian rhetoric that dominated the spring and summer. In Moscow, city authorities have even painted over at least one Crimea-themed mural, replacing aggressive military images with video-game characters. The rhetorical withdrawal from Ukraine probably has two goals: forestalling further Western sanctions and perhaps reversing some that have been imposed, and diverting Russians’ attention from a war that risks becoming too costly.

Read more at New York Times

More about: Anti-Semitism, Russian Jewry, Vladimir Putin, War in Ukraine


Iran’s Program of Subversion and Propaganda in the Caucasus

In the past week, Iranian proxies and clients have attacked Israel from the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon, and Yemen. Iran also has substantial military assets in Iraq and Syria—countries over which it exercises a great deal of control—which could launch significant attacks on Israel as well. Tehran, in addition, has stretched its influence northward into both Azerbaijan and Armenia. While Israel has diplomatic relations with both of these rival nations, its relationship with Baku is closer and involves significant military and security collaboration, some of which is directed against Iran. Alexander Grinberg writes:

Iran exploits ethnic and religious factors in both Armenia and Azerbaijan to further its interests. . . . In Armenia, Iran attempts to tarnish the legitimacy of the elected government and exploit the church’s nationalist position and tensions between it and the Armenian government; in Azerbaijan, the Iranian regime employs outright terrorist methods similar to its support for terrorist proxies in the Middle East [in order to] undermine the regime.

Huseyniyyun (Islamic Resistance Movement of Azerbaijan) is a terrorist militia made up of ethnic Azeris and designed to fight against Azerbaijan. It was established by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps . . . in the image of other pro-Iranian militias. . . . Currently, Huseyniyyun is not actively engaged in terrorist activities as Iran prefers more subtle methods of subversion. The organization serves as a mouthpiece of the Iranian regime on various Telegram channels in the Azeri language. The main impact of Huseyniyyun is that it helps spread Iranian propaganda in Azerbaijan.

The Iranian regime fears the end of hostilities between Armenia and Azerbaijan because this would limit its options for disruption. Iranian outlets are replete with anti-Semitic paranoia against Azerbaijan, accusing the country of awarding its territory to Zionists and NATO. . . . Likewise, it is noteworthy that Armenian nationalists reiterate hideous anti-Semitic tropes that are identical to those spouted by the Iranians and Palestinians. Moreover, leading Iranian analysts have no qualms about openly praising [sympathetic] Armenian clergy together with terrorist Iran-funded Azeri movements for working toward Iranian goals.

Read more at Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security

More about: Azerbaijan, Iran, Israeli Security