Iran Election Guide

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Saturday
Jun012013

Iran Today: Presidential Election --- Reactions To The Televised Debate

Behind The Scenes At The Televised Debate


Presidential Election Watch: Rouhani Edition

Rouhani Slams State TV

Rouhani has criticized IRIB, saying that State TV had failed to create a healthy competition in Friday's televised debates.

Rafsanjani "Told Rouhani To Stay In Race"

Rouhani says he consulted with former President Hashemi Rafsanjani, and others, who encouraged and advised him to remain in the Presidential race.

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Saturday
Jun012013

Middle East Today: Turkey --- How Serious Are the Protests?

A protester is injured by a water cannon after challenging a police van

See also Friday's Turkey Today: Protesters Defy Police Crackdown as Demonstrations Spread Beyond Istanbul


Protests Beyond Istanbul

Headlines tonight are of the thousands who gathered in Istanbul's Taksim Square as police pulled back and allowed demonstrations; however, there have been large rallies in other Turkish cities. This is Bursa, Turkey's fourth-largest city, in the northwest of the country:

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Saturday
Jun012013

Syria Today: The Battle for Qusayr Continues

Head of Free Syrian Army, Salim Idriss, appealing for foreign help for the besieged town of Qusayr


Insurgent Projects in the North

A 12-minute video from the insurgent group Ahrar al-Sham, boasting of water supply to 50 villages in Raqqa Province:

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Friday
May312013

Turkey Today: Protesters Defy Police Crackdown as Demonstrations Spread Beyond Istanbul


Clashes between protesters and police continue tonight after Turkish security forces, using water cannon and tear gas, tried to disperse peaceful demonstrators in Istanbul's Takism Square.

At least 60 people were detained on Friday after police moved on a rally of several thousand people which began over the demolition of a park, but which turned into a broader protest against what the Erdogan Government.

More than 100 people were injured, some left lying on the ground unconscious and at least two hospitalised with injuries to the head.

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Friday
May312013

Syria Today: Assad Declares Victory and a Fight Against Israel

See also Syria Analysis: A 5-Point Guide to Assad Interview --- Is He Right To Declare Victory?
Syria Audio Analysis: The Real Importance of the "Russian Missiles to Syria" Story
Syria Video & Transcript: President Assad's Interview with Al-Manar TV

Iran Today: IRGC Commander Says Syrian Government, Nation "Modeled Itself On Iran"
Thursday's Syria Today: Last Chance for Opposition "Unity" in Istanbul Talks


Lebanese Parliament Delays Elections to November 2014

Lebanon's Parliament has voted to extend its mandate and delay elections scheduled for June after failing to adopt a new electoral law.

The motion for a 17-month extension was passed unanimously by the 98 members of the 128-seat house who attended on Friday. It said the delay was due to "the security situation in several Lebanese regions that gives rise to political escalation and division which often take on confessional forms".

Fuad Siniora, the opposition head in parliament, said: "We were forced to vote on this bad project to avoid a vacuum and after unrest in several regions and the serious negative development" of Hezbollah's involvement in the Syria conflict.

Amid the months-long delay over a new electoral law, Prime Minister Tamman Salam, who was named on 6 April, has been unable to form a new Government because of divisions over Syria.

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Friday
May312013

Syria Analysis: A 5-Point Guide to Assad Interview --- Is He Right To Declare Victory?

Ramped-up foreign intervention is likely to tip the military balance against the Assad regime. But it faces a political question: is the aim merely to pressure and contain the President or to topple him?

And that question in turn leads to others: is there an effective political group, given the tensions and fragementing within the opposition, that can replace Assad? Will the "extremists", rather than the "moderates", win? Will the fall of the regime send destabilising ripples across the Middle East?

Assad is betting that all these questions can be turned into doubts to block further intervention for the opposition. Last night's declarations were his chips to support that bet.

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Friday
May312013

Syria Audio Analysis: The Real Importance of the "Russian Missiles to Syria" Story

On Monocle 24's The Daily on Thursday night, I discussed the latest rumours and claims over the Russian shipment of S-300 anti-aircraft missiles to Syria to get to the real significance of the story.

Listen from the 7:41 mark on The Daily's homepage or in a pop-out window

The take-away line? "The S-300 story is more important as a political game --- with the "West" trying to put Russia in a corner and Moscow standing firm --- than as a military development."

Friday
May312013

Iran Today: Presidential Election --- The Nuclear Issue

US Sanctions Petrochemical Firms

In the first American sanctions against Iran's petrochemical industry, the US Treasury has blacklisted eight companies.

The companies, owned or controlled by the Iranian Government, include Bandar Imam Petrochemical, Bou Ali Sina Petrochemical, and Mobin Petrochemical.

The petrochemical industry is Iran's largest source of foreign earnings after oil sales.

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Thursday
May302013

Syria Video & Transcript: President Assad's Interview with Al-Manar TV


Al-Manar: Mr. President, we are in the heart of the People’s Palace, two and a half years into the Syrian crisis. At the time, the bet was that the president and his regime would be overthrown within weeks. How have you managed to foil the plots of your opponents and enemies? What is the secret behind this steadfastness?

President Assad: There are a number of factors are involved. One is the Syrian factor, which thwarted their intentions; the other factor is related to those who masterminded these scenarios and ended up defeating themselves because they do not know Syria or understand in detail the situation. They started with the calls of revolution, but a real revolution requires tangible elements; you cannot create a revolution simply by paying money.

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Thursday
May302013

Syria Today: Last Chance for Opposition "Unity" in Istanbul Talks

Opposition Representatives at This Week's Talks Oppositions Appeals for Help in Besieged Qusayr and Damascus Suburb

Insurgent commanders in the besieged town of Qusayr, near the Lebanese border, have appealed for help and warned of dire consequences if it does not arrive:

If all rebel fronts do not move to stop this crime being led by Hezbollah and Assad's traitorous army of dogs...we will soon be saying that there was once a city called Qusayr.

Malek Ammar, an opposition activist in Qusayr, said, "The town is surrounded and there's no way to bring in medical aid."

Ammar said about 100 of 700 wounded needed oxygen: "What we need [insurgent units] to do is come to the outskirts of the city and attack the checkpoints so we can get routes in and out of the city."

Qusayr has been under sustained shelling and attacks for almost two weeks. On Wednesday, the Syrian military captured the nearby airbase of Dabba, cutting off the town on all sides and bolstering their positions.

Elsewhere, insurgents blockaded in the eastern Ghouta, east of Damascus, appealed for help on Facebook, claiming Assad's forces were "preparing to commit more massacres".

The fighters said they held the opposition Syrian National Coalition, whose members have spent a week arguing in Istanbul over the orgnaisation of the leadership, responsible for their plight.

George Sabra, the acting head of the opposition Syrian National Coalition, has confirmed that the group will not attend any international "peace" conference.

However, whereas the Coalition's formal declaration on Wednesday emphasised its demand that President Assad step down as part of any transitional government, Sabra's statement said the condition was the international community's intervention to end the Syrian military's siege of Qusayr, near the Lebanese border.

Then Sabra declared, "The National Coalition will not take part in any international conference or any such efforts so long as the militias of Iran and Hezbollah continue their invasion of Syria."

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