Iran Election Guide

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Wednesday
Jan052011

Pakistan Feature: The Warnings in the Assassination of the Punjab Governor

The Pakistani Government's continued lack of strong action against this tide is only going to strengthen the fundamentalists who are threatening to derail any semblance of progress made towards democracy in recent years. Democracy does not mean anything if the rule of the majority translates into the oppression of a minority.

Christians, Hindus, Sikhs and all other non-Muslims in Pakistan will remain unsafe as long as people like Taseer are killed because the government does not want to address religious fundamentalism amongst its ranks and those of the military. The section of Pakistan’s population calling itself "liberal" will have to conform to fundamentalist ideas, live in fear or leave the country. This would effectively end Pakistan’s pursuit of a democratic state.

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Wednesday
Jan052011

Belarus Updates: More Raids and International Statements

1130 GMT: The heads of the diplomatic missions of European Union countries have sent a note to the Foreign Ministry expressing concern about the situation, asking for information about the health of detainees, and requesting meetings with the four Presidential candidates who are in prison.

Speaking at a press conference, the Hungarian Ambassador, Ferenc Kontra, said it was important to get the information before the EU discussion on 12 January about the situation in Belarus.

The EU ambassadors had met with the wives of the Presidential candidates and other political prisoners.

1115 GMT: Officers from the state security service KGB have raided the offices of the Belarus Helsinki Committee and are interrogating the head of the committee, Oleg Gulak.

The KGB is also reportedly looking for the leaders of the Belarus Free Theatre, which is currently on tour in New York.

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Wednesday
Jan052011

WikiLeaks and Iran: Tehran Politics Collapsed the 2009 Nuclear Talks

With another round of discussions on Iran's nuclear programme soon to take place in Turkey, this document from WikiLeaks is an important snapshot of why the last set of talks between Tehran and the 5+1 Powers (US, UK, France, Germany, China, and Russia) failed to make progress in autumn 2009.

At the time and since, the Iranian Government and its defenders have blamed the "West" for duplicity that broke down the talks. EA's interpretation, based on sources, was very different: while there was still ground to cover before a resolution, the primary reason for the suspension of discussions was domestic opposition to President Ahmadinejad's quest for an agreement.

This WikiLeaks document supports our analysis....

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Wednesday
Jan052011

Egypt Updates: Demonstrations of "Hundreds" in Cairo and Assuit; Six Activists Detained

Photo: Ian Lee (CNN)1425 GMT: Charges have been filed against eight activists detained in Monday night's protests in the Shubra neighbourhood of Cairo. (EA earlier reported six had been arrested --- see 0940 GMT).

The eight, who are all Muslim, have been charged with illegal rallying, rioting, damaging public property, and assaulting police officers on duty.

1000 GMT: Pope Shenouda III, the head of the Coptic Church, has called on his "children" to stop demonstrations and to pursue dialogue in solving problems.

The Mufti of Egypt, Dr. Ali Gomaa, has called for joint Christian-Muslim development projects and for television discussions between Christian and Muslim youth.

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Wednesday
Jan052011

WikiLeaks Iraq Special: Did US Ambassador "Green Light" Saddam's Invasion of Kuwait in 1990?

For more than 20 years, one of the controversies over the 1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait and the subsequent US-led war against Baghdad is whether the US Ambassador in Iraq --- deliberately or inadvertently --- gave a "green light" to Saddam Hussein to attack the Kuwaitis.

Now WikiLeaks makes an important intervention in the story, releasing the cable with Glaspie's lengthy account of her meeting.

So, taking a fresh look, did April Glaspie give "tacit approval" or at least refrain from objecting to an Iraqi invasion?

The general verdict: Not Guilty.

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Wednesday
Jan052011

The Latest from Iran (5 January): Dramatic and Routine Detentions

2220 GMT: Academic Corner. Rooz Online writes that distinguished sociologist Gholam Abbas Tavassoli has been forcibly retired by Tehran University.

1830 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. The Munich chapter of United4Iran notes an appeal in Bild am Sonntag, made by 100 prominent Germans, for the release of two of the newspaper's staff from an Iranian prison.

Marcus Hellwig and Jens Koch were detained in October as they were interviewing the son and lawyer of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, condemned to death for adultery.

1745 GMT: Corruption Watch. This could get nasty....

According to Rah-e-Sabz, 1st Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi has struck back at political punishment and/or a trail on corruption allegations. He said that Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani had received large amounts of money during his Presidential campaign in 2005.

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Wednesday
Jan052011

Iran Mystery: Is the "Un-Defecting" Scientist Shahram Amiri in Solitary Confinement?

Shahram Amiri and Family, Tehran, July 2009What then is the situation with Shahram Amiri? The murky truth is that we do not know. The best we can do is stay observant and return back to the prediction --- not the confirmation, but the prediction --- made by a well-placed EA correspondent when Amiri returned to Iran.

The scientist, our correspondent judged, would initially be greeted as a hero. Then he would be "disappeared" in Iran's system, like others who have revealed unpleasant episodes such as the Chain Murders of the late 1990s.

That, for the moment, sits along a single interesting but far-from-established source.

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Tuesday
Jan042011

Israel Analysis: Barak v. Netanyahu as Elections Overtake Peace Talks

With elections looming, Israel's domestic politics is heating up. Initially, most parties were turning the ultra-orthodox front of Eli Yishai (Shas) and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman (Yisrael Beiteinu) into a dartboard, but attention is now on Labour Party leader and Minister of Defense Ehud Barak.

Barak has raised the stakes by putting the current approach of his own Government on the spot. In response, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeated that the Palestinian Authority is the only party responsible for the deadlock of the peace process. 

The fight is spilling into sharp allegations in the media. The State Department denied claims that the US Administration was furious with Barak for misleading them regarding his role in the peace process, but Haaretz sources insist that Washington is still "disappointed" with Barak.

This, however, may rebound to the benefit of the Minister of Defense.  Any stigma on Barak cannot be equal to that placed upon the Netanyahu Government if there is no move, even a token one, towards a resumption of talks.

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Tuesday
Jan042011

Pakistan Breaking: Governor of Punjab Province Assassinated (Al Jazeera)

Al Jazeera English reports:

The governor of Pakistan's most politically important province of Punjab has been killed after shootings in a popular market in the capital Islamabad.

Police said Salman Taseer, a high-profile member of the ruling Pakistan People's Party (PPP), was killed by a member of his security detail.

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Jan042011

Egypt Video Special: Police Lash Out at Cairo Protestors on Monday Night

On Monday night, demonstrators in the Shubra district of Cairo again protested Saturday's bombing of the Al-Qiddissine church in Alexandria. This video from the Daily News of Egypt shows a line of police lashing out at the crowd with batons.