The following report brings Wikistrat predictions
about trends and events, that will shape the world in
2016. The report is based on an online crowdsourced
simulation that ran in December of 2015, involving
more than 100 analysts.
Already in 2015, labor unrest – the most reliable real benchmark of
Russians’ dissatisfaction with their lives and government – became an
increasing concern for the Kremlin. While Russians still registered broad
support for President Putin himself and approved of his forward foreign
policy, there was considerably less enthusiasm for the impact on their
own quality of life as a result of the economic crisis caused by oil price
falls, sanctions and ofcial corruption. Of these three, the only issue on
which the government can be expected to act is the last.
September 2016 will see the next elections to the State Duma, the lower
chamber of the Russian legislature. While the Duma is relatively powerless,
the elections are always treated as much as anything else as a vote of
condence in the Kremlin. As such, it will be crucial to the government
to ensure a high turnout and strong support for its chosen candidates.
There is no question that the regime will manage the elections to ensure
that it wins – but the more blatant the rigging, the greater the chance of
a repeat of the middle-class protests that followed the 2011 Duma and
2012 presidential elections. Were middle-class protests to coincide with
disenchantment and active anger from the working class (increasingly
Putin’s main support base), it could prove a serious embarrassment at
best – and a major challenge at worst.
However, given that further foreign adventures are unlikely to have any
positive impact or do anything for the economy, Putin’s ability to protect
an embezzling elite while also inspiring the masses impoverished by that
same embezzlement will be put to the test. Ultimately, he will either need
to conclusively abandon his attempts to appeal to the latter as the “wise
tsar” governing in their interests – a key plank of his legitimacy – or else
he will have to adopt a more populist campaign against some of the
excesses of the elite. To this end, 2016 may see a partial rehabilitation of
economic reformers such as Alexei Kudrin, some high-prole sackings
or prosecutions of especially venal gures, and also a renewed anti-
corruption campaign that will be given particular prominence on state-
PROF. MARK GALEOTTI
Prof. Galeotti is a Professor
of Global Affairs at New York
University’s Center for Global
Affairs, and an associate member
of New York University’s History
and Russian & Slavic Studies
PUTIN FORCED TO CHOOSE
BETWEEN OLIGARCHS AND
Putin’s ability to protect
an embezzling elite
while also inspiring the
by that same
embezzlement will be
put to the test.
Commercial in Condence
Copyright © 2015, Wikistrat Inc.
All Rights Reserved. Patent Pending.
The upcoming year poses two signicant challenges for the Iranian
regime: the implementation of the nuclear deal and the parliamentary
elections due on February 26.
The implementation of the nuclear deal, which will be followed by the
removal of economic sanctions on Iran, is expected to allow an inux of
money into the country’s ailing economy and to cause a strengthening
of regime stability – at least over the short term. This being said, the
regime does consider the nuclear deal to be an opportunity for the West
to increase its economic and cultural inltration into the country.
The upcoming parliamentary elections pose an additional challenge to
the regime, which is worried that moderate candidates supported by
President Rouhani might regain their control over the legislature for the
rst time since the 2004 contest.
In light of its concerns regarding increased Western inuence in Iran
and a possible reformist/centrist backlash, the regime has already
intensied its domestic repression. In recent weeks, Iranian authorities
have arrested dozens of journalists, artists and social media activists –
and have moreover increased the enforcement of the Islamic dress code
in an attempt to weaken the moderates ahead of the elections and to
restrain the President.
Considering Iranian hardliners’ determination to curb Rouhani’s power,
stop the reformists from gaining ground and avoid any potential
undermining implications of the nuclear deal (from their perspective),
next year will see an increased political and civilian crackdown.
DR. RAZ ZIMMT
Dr. Raz Zimmt is a research fellow
at the Alliance Center for Iranian
Studies at Tel Aviv University, a
research fellow at the Forum for
Regional Thinking, and editor of
Spotlight on Iran (published by the
Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism
IRAN: MORE CRACKDOWNS TO
In light of its concerns
Western inuence in
Iran and a possible
regime has already
intensied its domestic