Iran Election Guide

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Friday
Dec312010

Israel-Turkey: Another Mini-Conflict

On Thursday evening, the state-owned Turkish Radio-Television Cooperation said its reporters were treated in an ill-mannered way during their three-day-visit to Israel. The TRT reporters had been invited to Israel by the Yilmazlar group, which has business links with West Jerusalem. However, the news agency said that its reporters were held up for hours  in security checks. Israeli authorities confiscated a camera; when TRT objected, the officials said the camera will be held temporarily and returned later. 

TRT said it has complained to the Israeli Embassy in Ankara. There has been no response so far from either Turkish or Israeli politicans. 

Friday
Dec312010

Israel Snapshot: A Happy (Secure) New Year?

The Israeli international security sevice Shin Bet, in its annual report , says 2010 witnessed the lowest number of terror attacks and victims in Israel in a decade.

In 2010, nine civilians and soldiers were killed in 798 terror-related incidents in Israel and the territories, compared with 15 deaths in 1,354 incidents in 2009. The height of violence came in 2002, when 452 Israelis were killed..

Only 150 rockets were fired from the Hamas-ruled Gaza territory, versus 569 in 2009. The oft-made assertion by the Israeli Government is that this indicates "success" in the 2008/2009 war in Gaza.

Yet, amidst these markers of reduced violence, the political discourse from Israeli is still one of insecurity. There is the continuing clash with Hamas and the deadlocked peace process with the Palestinian Authority. There are repeated declarations that Hamas is stockpiling arms, including "quality" weapons smuggled into Gaza from Egypt.

And there is always the omnipotent, "existential threat" of Iran, with its ever-imminent Bomb and its label of primary sponsor of Hezbollah and Hamas.

Happy New Year?

Thursday
Dec302010

Iran Analysis: Tehran's Win-Win with the Nuclear Obsession

At this point, Iran doesn’t even need to have a real nuclear program. All it needs is a few underground bunkers with people moving in and out of them, heating uranium ore and drinking tea. They are already accomplishing most of their goals by stoking fear in the hearts of reasonable people who should be able to see through the façade of the regime.

For Tehran, this is going to be a win-win situation. If the West decides not to attack and Iran develops the weapons, it will have security against future assaults. If the West does launch an operation, expect thousands of innocent dissident Iranians to be slaughtered for supposedly helping the US, the UK, and Israel.

For the umpteenth time, the West needs to respond to the regime by helping the opposition movement in Iran. Otherwise, the talk about how Iran’s nukes will destroy us all is assisting a destruction of a different kind: the destruction of hope for a change that will bring rights and justice.

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Thursday
Dec302010

Iran Pictures: The Gathering for "God's Day" 

Pictures from "God's Day", marking the 1st anniversary of pro-regime marches, in Tehran, via Mehr and Khabar Online:

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Thursday
Dec302010

Pakistan Snapshot: "Hundreds" of Detainees Disappearing (Schmitt)

The Obama administration is expressing alarm over reports that thousands of political separatists and captured Taliban insurgents have disappeared into the hands of Pakistan’s police and security forces, and that some may have been tortured or killed.

The issue came up in a State Department report to Congress last month that urged Pakistan to address this and other human rights abuses. It threatens to become the latest source of friction in the often tense relationship between the wartime allies.

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Thursday
Dec302010

Israel Opinion: It's Over for Benjamin Netanyahu (Benn)

Benjamin Netanyahu has in effect concluded his term as prime minister. It's all downhill until the next elections, without any achievements and without an agenda, passing the time buying political calm and deflecting diplomatic pressure. Instead of initiating and leading, Netanyahu will engage in fruitless holding actions until he falls from power.

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Thursday
Dec302010

Belarus Updates: The Latest Detentions

1435 GMT: Reports indicated five Presidential candidates --- Andrei Sannikov, Vladimir Neklyaev, Nikolai Statkevich, Vitaly Rymashevsky, and Alexei Mikhalevich have been charged with organizing activities which led to "riots" on Election Day on 19 December.

Under the order, the five men can be detained for two months while investigations continue.

The Guardian of London picks up on the story, reporting "at least four" candidates charged --- it does not list Mikhalevich.

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Thursday
Dec302010

Tunisia Analysis: Is This The Fall of the Government? (Whitaker)

The Tunisian dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali may try to cling on, but his regime now has a fin de siècle air about it. He came to power in 1987 by declaring President Bourguiba unfit for office. It's probably just a matter of time before someone else delivers that same message to Ben Ali.

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Thursday
Dec302010

Egypt Analysis: The Tragedy of The Opposition (Roccu)

By its glaring inability to take these grievances seriously, the institutional opposition has condemned itself to continuing irrelevance in parliamentary life and has prevented a credible political articulation of the economic and social demands of both industrial and agricultural workers, ignoring that these movements could indeed constitute the much-needed popular support for a political opposition to the Mubarak regime.

Thus, it is not the split between secular and religious opposition, but rather the one between institutional and popular oppositions that constitutes the foundation for the survival --- that's what it is: mere survival – of Egyptian authoritarianism.

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Thursday
Dec302010

Iran Mystery: So How Big Was This Week's Support for Ahmadinejad?

"I went to Ahmadinejad's big rally-and-fire-spitting extravaganza in Karaj today. It was probably the largest gathering he's had, so far as his provincial visits go. There were around 22,000 people present. It was also the first time in two decades Sepah, the Revolutionary Guards, provided security for a government rally in full uniform. There were about 250 officers I could count on the ground. Overall, there were about 3,500 security personnel -- Sepah, NAJA, Basij -- on rooftops, lining the street, at the stadium.

"We heard they had spent $100,000 on billboards and banners the previous week for an event that got cancelled for security reasons. They must have spent the same amount this week. That's a hefty sum in Iran."

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