Ukraine and the new wave of “color revolutions”

The recent developments in Ukraine and the ouster of Victor Yanukovych after a three-month demonstration have given hope to the other people who live under dictatorships and alarmed the officials of those countries about the possibility of a new wave of revolutions.

            The first wave of the so-called “color revolutions” began in Philippines. However, this term had not achieved widespread use until early 2000s, when it hit the former Soviet Union societies. Democratic movements in several countries achieved unprecedented victories through peaceful, nonviolent resistance, not only in East-Europe, but also in some Mid-East countries. In Lebanon, for example, following the assassination of the opposition leader Refiq Hariri in 2005, hundreds of thousands of Lebanese nationalists took the streets in Beirut. After almost three months of protest, victory was achieved; Syrian troops left Lebanon after 30-year presence there.

            Another example, which was not successful, was the so-called “Green movement” in Iran. When Mahmud Ahmadinejad was announced as the winner of a disputed presidential election, millions of people who believed that Mir-Hossein Mousavi had won the elections took the streets in the Capital Tehran and other major cities. Protesters adopted the color green as their symbol. The green movement was one of the bloodiest color revolutions. In Feb, 2010 it seemed that the Islamic Republic had successfully suppressed the movement. However, a year later, when the so-called “Arab spring” started, thousands of inspired Iranians came back to the streets. “Tehran or Cairo, Dictator must go” and “Mubarak, Ben-Ali, the next will be Seyyed Ali (Khamenei)” were among the slogans that were shouted by the demonstrators. Although it was the last time we saw large numbers of demonstrators in Iran, the officials in Tehran have been worried about a new wave of demonstrations ever since. Now it seems that the new developments in Ukraine alarmed the Islamic regime even more. While reformists’ media welcomed the developments, “Vatan-e Emrouz” daily called the ouster of Yanukovych a “coup by westernized Ukrainians.” But what shows how worried the Iranian regime is, is General Firouzabadi’s reaction to these developments. The chief of staff of the Iranian armed forces said that “nations” should learn a lesson from these developments, and warned people not to become a victim of western deception. It should be said that the term “nation” is used by the Islamic Republic to address its supporters, not the rest of the Iranians. Meanwhile, Mustafa Purmohammadi the minister of justice in Iran warned the opposition about any movement. At the same time, however, a new wave of hope can be seen among Iranian opposition figures, especially in social media.

            Iranians are not alone in this hope. The developments in Ukraine gave hope to millions of Russians who are tired of seeing Putin as their president. It can explain Moscow’s efforts to portrait Ukrainian protestors as “Fascist”, its endeavor to turn a nonviolent revolution to bloodshed and of course, its efforts to separate the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine.

            These developments also alarmed president Lukashenko in Minsk. He ruled out Ukraine-style uprising in Belarus on one hand, while, on the other, warned about “certain tensions and fears for the future.”

            Even in Azerbaijan, the main opposition leader warned President Elham Aliev that he would end up like Ukrainian Yanukovych.

            All these reactions suggest that there is a possibility of a new wave of color-revolution-like democratic movements in other countries. Many people in these countries are ready for a change. But this time they are more conscious. The last time, color-revolutions in many countries eventually failed after a short period of victory. In Ukraine, Yanukovych came back to power and imprisoned Yulia Tymoshenko, who was one of the main leaders of the Orange revolution; and in Lebanon, Syrian regime resumed and continued its presence through Hezbollah. As a Persian proverb says, “these societies are like gunpowder depots that need a spark to explode”. But in order to have a long-lasting victory, there should be enough combustible material that can burn and keep the revolution warm for a long time.

About the Author
Ashkan was born and raised in Iran. He moved to Israel a few years ago, Worked as a journalist at the National radio of Israel and is now working as a freelancer.