Armenia’s civil rights record isn’t exactly unblemished, but to thousands of Iranians eager to hear pop singers banned in Iran, the conservative South Caucasus country still ranks as a land of liberty.
An increasing number of protests in Azerbaijan in recent months has Baku viewing Iran as a possible instigator of unrest. Although Iran has some levers in Azerbaijan, such as a large Shiite population, several factors — including Russia’s potential involvement — will lead Tehran to proceed with caution in its attempts to destabilize the Azerbaijani government.
The casual visitor could not be blamed for believing Iran’s influence is ascendant in Tajikistan’s capital Dushanbe. Iranian pop music blasts from many of the city’s cafés. Iranian-made yellow taxis ferry a bevy of fashionable Iranian businessmen around downtown. Market stalls are stacked with Iranian cookies and cakes.
On first glance, it looks like an archetypal no-brainer; a large Middle Eastern country with a repressive regime and a simmering, angry protest movement.
Twice in the past fortnight, that movement -- encouraged by events in Egypt, Tunisia, and elsewhere -- has come out of hibernation to stage its first demonstrations in a year, albeit only to be met by crushing crackdowns.
DUSHANBE -- Iran's ambassador to Tajikistan says he has the equipment needed to open the long-planned, joint Tajik-Afghan-Iranian television station if Tajik officials will allow it to be installed, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports.
Iranian diplomat Ali Asghar Sherdust said the new station could begin broadcasting some three weeks after the equipment is set up in a Dushanbe office.
The diplomatic cables downloaded clandestinely from a U.S. government network and published last week without authorization by the activist website WikiLeaks have shone a major spotlight on Turkmenistan and served to validate the reporting done by exile groups about their homeland. The cables from 2009 and early 2010 expose not only the closed society of Turkmenistan, but the use of the U.S.
A diplomatic cable dispatched by the US Embassy in Azerbaijan, part of the cache of documents obtained by the WikiLeaks website, compares Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev to two iconic mafia dons from “The Godfather” movie trilogy -- impulsive Sonny Corleone and his brother, the coldly calculating Michael.