Policy Memos

Direct Impact: The Influence of the Arab Spring on the Circassian World

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The Arab Spring is an interregional and multinational event, with many ethnic minorities participating from afar and in situ—the Jewish community in Tunisia, Copts in Egypt, Berbers in Libya, Darfuris in Sudan, and Kurds in Iraq and Syria. Significant ideological events like the Arab Spring always impact those with similar problems in other regions of the world. The North Caucasus falls into this category as evidenced by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s February 2011 remark that the Arab revolutions might have a “direct impact” on the situation in the North Caucasus. In this paper, we will analyze what kind of “direct impacts” the Arab events have had on the Circassians, a Russian ethnic minority in the Caucasus with diaspora communities in practically all Arab states. The Circassians make an interesting case study because they found themselves on both sides of the movement: they came to identify with protesters in Libya and they primarily sided with the establishment in Syria. Beyond these parochial examples, they experienced a ripple effect across to their homeland, located in the middle of the most volatile region of Russia. [...]

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About the author

Associate Research Professor
George Washington University