Iran Election Guide

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Saturday
Jun082013

Syria Today: UN Appeal on "Record" Aid for Syrians --- Significant Step or Meaningless Gesture?

The Wounded from Qusayr

Al Jazeera English reports from Arsal in Lebanon, where some of those wounded during the three-week battle for Qusayr have been taken:

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Friday
Jun072013

Iran Special: Highlights From The Third Presidential Debate

Iran's Presidential race has, in many ways, turned into a contest not only between the eight individual candidates but perhaps even more so between the Principlist/ Conservative and the Reformist/Moderate camps.

Although Friday's Third Presidential debate was an opportunity for the candidates to set out their views and policies on foreign policy and politics, it also provided a space to explore this factional divide.

Principlist and conservative candidates --- Ali Akbar Velayati, Mohammad-Baqer Qalibaf, Gholam-Ali Haddad- Adel -- used the debate to criticize the Reformists and past Reformist governments, while Reformist candidate Mohammad-Reza Aref and his moderate counterpart Hassan Rouhani slammed the Principlist movement and the current Ahmadinejad administration. Independent candidates Mohsen Rezaei and Mohammad Gharazi hit out at both factions and called for an end to factionalism.

Some of the main highlights of the debate (thanks to Al Jazeera English and Hassan Rouhani's campaign team, who live-tweeted the debate).

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Friday
Jun072013

Iran Today: Presidential Election --- Edging Toward A Rouhani Coalition?

Supporters of Reformist Mohammad Reza Aref Call For Coalition with Moderate Hassan Rouhani


Presidential Election Watch: Khamenei Warns of Enemy Plots

Speaking on the anniversary of the death of his predecessor, Imam Khomeini, the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, warned that through the use of sanctions and negative press against the regime, the country’s enemies seek to decrease the number of voters in the upcoming presidential election. Khamenei stated that the Iranian people should work together for a massive turnout to crush the plots of the enemies.

Presidential Election Watch: Third Televised Debate

PressTV is broadcasting --- and translating into English --- the final televised debate between the eight candidates here. EA will be providing a full review of the debate later today.

Former Khatami Vice President: Aref-Rouhani Coalition Could Come Tomorrow

Amid growing rumors of a possible coalition between moderate candidate Hassan Rouhani and his reformist counterpart Mohammad-Reza Aref --- a move that would unite centrist and reformist voters and avoid a dilution of support for Rouhani --- Fars News, close to the Revolutionary Guards, reports that such a move could be announced as soon as Saturday.

Fars reports comments by Mohsen Mehralizadeh, vice president under the government of President Khatami, who said that Aref is the only reformist candidate in the Presidential race --- but that because Rouhani is a moderate, he could join Aref in a coalition. There had been considerable discussion on the matter with political leaders including former Presidents Khatami and Rafsanjani.

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Friday
Jun072013

Middle East Today: Turkey --- Defiant PM Erdogan Returns to Istanbul

Supporters of Prime Minister Erdogan at Istanbul's Ataturk Airport last night (Photo: Reuters)


Turkey: New Speech by PM Erdogan Blasts Protesters and Social Media

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has used a speech this afternoon to continue his challenge to protesters. He has also attacked social media, saying they carried out a "disastrous lie campaign with respect to" the demonstrations.

Erdogan has also asked, "Where was the outrage over [police use of tear gas?" in other cases like Occupy Wall Street --- where he said 17 people had been killed --- Greece, and London.

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Friday
Jun072013

Syria Today: The Fighting Near the Golan Heights

Protest Message of the Day

From Kafranbel in Idlib Province:

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Thursday
Jun062013

Syria Today: Will Regime Advance Break the Stalemate?

Qusayr After the Battle Zawahiri Calls To Prevent "Pro-US Regime" In Syria

An audio recording purportedly from Ayman al-Zawahiri, the leader of al-Qaeda, calls on jihadi groups in Syria to prevent the establishment of a pro-US regime in the country.

In the message, published on the internet on Thursday, urges the "Lions of Islam in ash-Sham [the Levant] to gather and unite" above sectarian issues, saying that "America and its agents" want you to shed your blood… to bring down the criminal Baathist regime and then to set up a regime loyal to them that will guarantee Israel's security".

The message goes on to say that jihad in Syria aims to establish an Islamic caliphate in the country, and then condemns Iran for desiring "Safavid expansion". The Mujahadeen of as-Sham have "exposed the ugly face of Iran…and its heinous crimes", al-Zawahiri says.

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Thursday
Jun062013

Syria Snap Analysis: Regime Forces Take Qusayr --- What Next?

Footage from Al-Mayadeen TV of the regime capture of Qusayr


Qusayr did not resolve the Syrian conflict. It only highlighted that resolution is distant.

The regime is unlikely to alter this with victory in one town, achieved only with substantial help from Hezbollah. Whether the insurgency and the "West" can do so is the more intriguing scenario.

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Thursday
Jun062013

Middle East Today: Turkey --- Uncertainty as Prime Minister Erdogan Returns to Ankara

Tear Gas in Ankara on Wednesday (Photo: AFP)Tear Gas in Ankara Square on Wednesday


PM Erdogan Stands Firm Over Gezi Park

Defying protesters, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has stood firm on the re-development of Istanbul's Gezi Park --- he said the construction of a replica Ottoman-era military barracks, housing a shopping mall, will go ahead.

Erdogan spoke from Tunisia during his tour of North African countries.

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Thursday
Jun062013

Iran Today: Is US Pressing for Regime Change?

While Iranians are preoccupied with the Presidential campaign, including Wednesday's second debate among the eight candidates, another story --- one likely to have impact far beyond the June ballot --- has been taking shape.

In the last 10 days, the US Government has expanded sanctions against Tehran on four occasions. Those measures have not only reinforced existing restrictions on the energy and shipping sectors; they have extended into areas far removed from Iran's nuclear programme. Among the new steps, confirmed by President Obama's executive orders, are sanctions against the automobile and petrochemical industries.

Even more significant is the ratcheting-up of measures designed to cripple Iran's financial transactions. One of Obama's orders this week threatens punishment of any firm trading in Iranian Rials or even holding Rial accounts --- the step is no less than an attempt to collapse the currency, which fell 70% last year.

All of this is taking place as Iran's oil exports continue to fall to historic lows. In April, the Islamic Republic exported only 741,000 barrels per day, a 30% decline from March and less than 1/3 the amount sold in 2011.

Meanwhile, the US, Israel, and European allies are banging the drum loudly over Tehran's purported nuclear threats. Over the last week, there has been a series of "leaks" to compliant journalists, recycling old stories as new menaces --- notable among these have been stories about Iran's developing heavy-water reactor at Arak, converted in the articles to a producer of plutonium for a Bomb.

All of this begs the question: is Washington going beyond pressure on Iran to the pursuit of regime change, through the cracking of the economy? If so, does the US have a vision of who and what might succeed the downfall of the current system?


Presidential Election Watch: Rouhani's Election Office Talks About Coalition With Aref

The Tehran election office of moderate Presidential candidate Hassan Rouhani has said that there could be a possibility of a coalition between Rouhani and reformist candidate Mohammad-Reza Aref in the coming days.

ISNA reported that the coalition was likely to be announced soon.

Presidential Election Watch: Rouhani Talks About Mousavi

Moderate Presidential candidate Hassan Rouhani has mentioned detained opposition leader Mir-Hossein Mousavi in two separate tweets.

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Wednesday
Jun052013

Syria Today: Regime Claims Control of Qusayr

Reports Of Breadlines In Largely Kurdish Town Of Efrin Near Aleppo

A Kurdish activist group claims that Kurds in Efrin near Aleppo in northern Syria are suffering because of an ongoing siege by the Free Syrian Army.

Activists on Wednesday tweeted images purportedly of breadlines in the town.

There were sustained reports last month of clashes between the FSA and local Kurdish militia.

Claimed footage, from "Daraa City" activists, of insurgents evacuating women and children from Qusayr

See also Middle East Today: Turkey --- Deputy PM Apologises for "Excessive Violence"...But Will PM Erdogan?
Tuesday's Syria Today: More Than 100 Claimed Deaths on a "Quiet" Monday


Insurgent Withdrawal from Qusayr

Reuters, citing an "opposition group" from Qusayr, said more than 500 insurgents died in the three weeks of the regime assault, with a further 1,000 wounded, leaving just 400 outgunned men struggling to hold onto the town.

Survivors decided to escape in the night through a corridor that regime attackers said they had deliberately left open to encourage flight.

Hezbollah’s Deputy Secretary General Sheikh Naim Qassem said, “The Al-Qusayr accomplishment is a severe blow to the project of the American-Israeli-Takfiri [infidel] trio and a glowing point for the project of the resistance in Syria.

Qassem continued, “Today, it has been proven that betting on the fall of the resisting Syrian [regime] is an illusion....Building political stances on the accomplishments of the American-Israeli project is unsuccessful.”

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