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.
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.
"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."
2255 GMT: Subsidy Cuts Watch. Fares for taxis have risen up to 15% today. No one seems to have addressed the economic question, though: how does this cover a tripling or quadrupling of fuel prices?
2250 GMT: Economy Watch. The price of gold and gold coins are rising, and the toman has fallen to 1080 per US dollar.
1840 GMT: Taxing the Nobel Prize Winner. Shirin Ebadi's property has been seized for alleged non-payment of taxes, and the Nobel Prize laureate has been banned from leaving the country.
Ebadi is currently outside Iran, and her lawyer Nasrine Sotoudeh has been detained since early September.
1835 GMT: Diplomatic Criticism. Former Deputy Foreign Minister Mohammad Sadegh Kharrazi has asserted that the Foreign Ministry has no strategic perspective on global developments.
On Wednesday, Turkey's National Security Council (MGK) convened under the chairmanship of President Abdullah Gul. At the end of the meeting, which iincluding the Prime Minister; Chief of Staff; deputy premiers; Justice, Defense, Internal, and Foreign Affairs Ministers; the commanders of air, land and naval forces and the gendarmerie, a statement declared:
In the meeting, attention was drawn to the fact that any attempt to change the Turkish Republic's official language, which is Turkish, and to alter the understanding of "One Flag, One Nation, One Land, and One Language"cannot be accepted.
So much for a political accommodation with pro-Kurdish parties over bilingualism and autonomy in parts of Turkey....
Demonstrators in Tunisia are continuing their street protests, ignoring a warning by Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, the Tunisian president, that disturbances will be firmly dealt with.
Protests continued unabated on Wednesday with demonstrators deploring the lack of employment opportunities in the country.
Lawyers have joined students and youths on the streets of the capital and trade unions are reportedly lending their support to the movement.
Ben Ali, who named a new youth minister on Wednesday in a limited cabinet reshuffle, warned earlier that protesters would be punished if rioting continued in the country.
1445 GMT: The state security service KGB has issued a warrant for Belarus Free Theatre co-founder Nikolai Khalezin.
The Belarus Free Theatre is a prominent challenger to the Lukaskenko regime. On 5 December, Index on Censorship hosted a double-bill performance by the Free Theatre at London's Young Vic with guest appearances from Sir Ian McKellen, Jude Law, Siena Miller, Samuel West, and Adjoa Andoh. There is speculation that the arrest of Khalezin is an attempt by the authorities to stop a forthcoming performance in New York.
Before founding the Belarus Free Theatre with his wife, Khalezin was a renowned journalist. who was dismissed by various newspapers for criticism of President Lukashenko.
1410 GMT: The human rights organisation Vyasna publishes the latest known status of 700 detainees from Sunday's post-election protests.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki made news this week with his interview in The Wall Street Journal, in the course of which he insisted that all US troops would be out of Iraq by January 1, 2012:
WSJ: Some American officials have spoken about contingency plans being drawn now in Washington for the possibility that some American troops will stay after 2011. Do you know about these contingency plans, and do you need troops?
Mr. Maliki: I do not care about what’s being said. I care about what’s on paper and what has been agreed to. The withdrawal of forces agreement [Status of Forces Agreement or SOFA] expires on Dec. 31, 2011. The last American soldier will leave Iraq.
Secondly this agreement is sealed and at the time we designated it as sealed and not subject to extension, except if the new government with Parliament’s approval wanted to reach a new agreement with America, or another country, that’s another matter. This agreement is not subject to extension, not subject to alteration, it is sealed, it expires on Dec. 31 .
1735 GMT: Tuesday's Executions. Fereshteh Ghazi posts a summary of her interviews with the family and lawyer of Ali Saremi.
1720 GMT: Un-Free Press. Chief investor Ali Khodabakhsh and editor-in-chief Ahmad Gholami of the reformist newspaper Shargh have been released on $10,000 bail each. The two were among six Shargh staff arrested during the week of 7 December, reportedly for an article on National Students Day.
1700 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch (Execution Edition). A nephew of Ali Saremi, who was executed on Tuesday, has reportedly been detained. Ali Saremi's widow Mahin said Mohammad Saremi was seized in Tehran after he displayed a picture of his uncle on the door of the family home as a sign of mourning.
Mahin Saremi said eight other relatives, as well as friends, who were detained on Tuesday outside Evin Prison where Saremi was hanged, have been released after giving written pledges not to gather again in front of the facility.
In August 2007, a well-placed Iranian approaches the US Embassy in London with an offer. The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), with its "central and preeminent role in the Iranian government", will co-operate with the US in Iraq, but "a U.S. terrorist designation of the IRGC would prevent any such cooperation".
This source, in making the offer, provides confirmation of the Revolutionary Guards' support for attacks against US forces in Iraq during the height of post-2003 violence.
And who is this Iranian who spoke with such knowledge and, apparently, the authority to make the offer to the Americans?
The brother of the commander of the Revolutionary Guards, Yahya Rahim Safavi.