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Friday
Jul292011

The Latest from Iran (29 July): And Now We Bring You This Diversion....

Atiyah Abd al-Rahman (0615 GMT)1905 GMT: Oil and Politics. Even though he has not been approved as Minister of Oil by Parliament, Rustam Qassemi --- Revolutionary Guards commander and head of its engineering branch, Khatam al-Anbia --- has called a Saturday meeting of the Ministry's staff and experts in the industry.

Why such a hurry? An EA correspondent observes that a Tehran conference has noted that Qatar is taking 450,000 barrels of oil per day from the South Pars field --- and Iran is taking 0.

Our correspondent mischievously follows up, "[Qassemi is] trying to save his assets after yesterday's conference."

Click to read more ...

Friday
Jul292011

Libya, Syria (and Beyond) LiveBlog: The Opposition's Military Commander is Assassinated

Also see our latest video entry: Latest Syria Videos: Friday's Protests Across the Country - Set 1 AND Set 2

2026 GMT: An important update from an activist in Sana'a, Yemen. Loud explosions could be heard coming from north of the city, presumably fresh government airstrikes against a base that was captured by opposition tribesmen yesterday. (see update at 0920)

1959 GMT: A huge Conservative Islamist rally took place in Alexandria, Egypt, as well. Members of the 6th April Group, a liberal pro-democracy organization, were reportedly harassed and left the crowd:

1948 GMT: An important eyewitness account from a Kurdish neighborhood of Damascus:

In the Damascus neighbourhood of Rukin Aden, home to the capital’s largest Kurdish community, an eye-witness told Al Jazeera there were several hundred protesters gathered around the Saad Basha Mosque, calling for the toppling of the regime.

Anti-riot police and secret police blocked off the neighbourhood's main streets, arresting dozens of protesters and driving them off in large buses.

Protesters also reported land lines and internet had been cut since the morning.

“After four months, we are demonstrating every night despite the big security crackdown on us,” Ammar, a 28-year-old protestor told Al Jazeera.

“About 200 pro-democracy advocates and protesters were arrested but this will not stop our uprising. The regime is trying hard to finish the uprising before Ramadan. We are preparing ourselves for the Ramadan and we will organise big evening demonstrations every day, especially Rukin Adeen which has well-known religious figures and big mosques.”

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Friday
Jul292011

Iran Feature: Taking Apart the US Innuendo on Tehran and Al Qa'eda (Pillar)

Despite the provocative phrase “secret deal", Treasury's announcement says nothing else about any such agreement. The only dealings it describes all seem to have to do with the imprisonment of al-Qa'ida members. Only one of the six designated individuals, named Ezedin Abdel Aziz Khalil, is described as “Iran-based”; the other five all live and operate somewhere else and are included in the announcement because they are part of the same network as Khalil. The one bit of business Khalil is said to have with Tehran is that he “works with the Iranian government to arrange releases of al-Qa'ida personnel from Iranian prisons.” One of the other five is said to have “petitioned Iranian officials on al-Qa'ida's behalf to release operatives detained in Iran”—with no indication whether he succeeded. Any connection between the Iranian regime and the group's other activities involving movement of money and operatives is all a matter of innuendo, at least as far as Treasury's announcement is concerned.

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Friday
Jul292011

Belarus Update: Getting to the Truth on Repression and Social Media (Belarus Digest)

Western media often spread myths about the extent of Internet censorship in Belarus.  Many have the impression that all or many social media sites have been shut down or blocked by Belarusian KGB. The truth is that unlike television or FM radio, Internet access remains largely unrestricted in Belarus. 

Because only a small fraction of Belarusians use Internet to get political information, authorities are rather relaxed about Internet censorship. They usually intervene to temporarily block certain Internet web sites around the dates of scheduled protests. In addition, they effectively use traditional methods against pro-democracy activists such as arrests and pressure on protestors' universities and employers.

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Friday
Jul292011

Iran Cartoon of the Day: Repairing Ahmadinejad "Is a Waste of Time"

Earlier this week, cleric Jafar Shojouni said that the Iranian system, led by the Supreme Leader, "will repair [President] Ahmadinejad, not replace him". Cartoonist Maya Nayestani offers her perspective, as a Revolutionary Guard declares, "Repair is a waste of time."

Thursday
Jul282011

The Latest from Iran (28 July): An Opposition Move on the Elections?

2045 GMT: Politics Watch. A move within the Iranian establishment today, as clerics and former Government officials have announced their "Islamic Constancy Front". Those involved include Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi, his clerical ally Morteza Agha-Tehrani, former Government spokesman Gholam-Ali Haddad-Adel, and former Minister of Interior Sadegh Mahsouli.

Mehr has no less than four stories emphasising the Front's declaration that it strengthens the unity of conservatives and principlists.

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Thursday
Jul282011

Bahrain Document: The Outcome of the National Dialogue

Reuters journalist Andrew Hammond, writing on his website Hammonda, posts the English-language summary of the finding of the Bahraini regime's National Dialogue, which began on 1 July, with  an Arabic version is to be published on Friday. King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa is meeting Dialogue members today --- opposition party Al Wefaq says it will not attend, but the opposition Waad Party. Waad member Munira Fakhro said it is not clear if the King will approve all or any sections of the document.

Hammond comments, "The important thing is that [this] does not change the balance of power between the appointed upper house of parliament and the elected one. It only allows the elected [house] more powers to question cabinet ministers and some other powers of scrutiny, [as in] Kuwait. But at least Kuwait’s Parliament is entirely elected. Also, [there are] no limits on the terms of [the] Prime Minister and other ministers."

Bahrain’s National Dialogue: Executive Summary of Outcomes

Introduction

Bahrain’s National Dialogue was launched on 2nd July 2011 to address the concerns
of Bahraini citizens in the wake recent events. Setting aside differences, the National
Dialogue’s aim was to build consensus on the most salient political, economic, social
and human rights issues, without preconditions, and based on proposals by
participants. Its success was dependent on the active participation of close to 300
delegates from across Bahraini society, and on their willingness to bridge divides,
enhance the reform process and define a shared vision for Bahrain’s future.

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Thursday
Jul282011

Iran Snapshot: When a Highway Becomes a Waterway (France24)

"This project is an absolute mess. It’s the laughing stock not only of Rafsanjan but of everyone who visits the city. If it’s raining, people actually come from far away to see the ‘waterfall’ and ‘swimming pool’ for themselves. It’s pathetic."

"Rumour has it that the engineers responsible for overseeing the project had ties with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which directly or indirectly controls most of the construction and development projects in the country.”

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Thursday
Jul282011

EA Cyber-Watch: Anonymous Launches Another Campaign Against PayPal

On Wednesday, the Web-based shopping outlet eBay opened to a 1% fall in its shares on the US stock market. The cause? The computer "hacktivists" Anonymous has resumed its campaign against the online payment company PayPal.

Last year, Anonymous launched a campaign against PayPal, as well as other financial and credit services like Visa and MasterCard, after the company refused to process donations to WikiLeaks, the website which had downloaded hundreds of thousands of classified US documents. 

Now #OpPayPal, called by Anonymous and their associates at LulzSec and Wikileaks, is protesting the company’s compliance with the FBI to charge and fine online actvisists. Mercedes Haefer, a 20-year-old Social Sciences student at the University of Nevada, is one of 14 defendants facing charges of "conspiracy and intentional damage to a protected computer", having taking part in a denial-of-service attack, with a possible sentence of 15 years in prison and a $500,000 fine.

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Thursday
Jul282011

Syria, Bahrain (and Beyond): Can You "Disappear" All the Protesters?

2030 GMT: Big news from Libya tonight as the opposition National Transition Council has announced the death of its military commander, General Abdel Fattah Younes and two other officers.

The three men appear to have been slain by an assassination squad, possibly a "sleeper cell", in the opposition centre of Benghazi.

Earlier today the opposition had announced that Younes, the former Minister of Interior under Muammar Qaddafi, was going to be detained for questioning over his family's ties to the regime. Tonight the Council said Younes had been killed before he was interrogated.

The Council has announced three days of mourning for the slain commander.

1940 GMT: Back from a break to find claimed footage of a general strike today in Daraa in southern Syria:

And in Hama:

Click to read more ...