Iran Election Guide

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Thursday
Dec302010

The Latest from Iran (30 December): A Year After the Regime's Display

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.

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Dec292010

Turkey Update: National Security Council to Pro-Kurdish Parties "Go Away"

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....

 

Wednesday
Dec292010

Tunisia: Escalating Protests over Unemployment (Al Jazeera)

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.

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Dec292010

Belarus Updates: Agents Provocateurs?

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.

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Dec292010

Iraq Analysis: Is PM al-Maliki Holding Firm for US Withdrawal? (Cole)

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 [2011]. 

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Dec292010

The Latest from Iran (29 December): "Can You Show Us The Door To Heaven?"

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.

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Dec292010

WikiLeaks and Iran 2007: Brother of Revolutionary Guards Commander Safavi Offers Co-operation to US

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.

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Dec292010

Terrorism Weekly: A Plot for Christmas 

“Yes, Virginia, there is a terrorism threat.”

Whether on the "left" or "right", the British media love a good terrorism plot. The timing of this one, in the notoriously slow period just before Christmas made it even more enthralling --- the same way that the Pakistani student bomb plot during the Easter break of 2009 similarly grabbed the headlines before turning out, for various reasons, to be a damp squib.

So for the last few days we have been treated to repeated stories about the arrest of 12 men for an alleged bomb plot. Note the word “alleged” in the previous sentence, for it is one that does not often appear in the assured British media when it comes to reporting terrorism. In the current example, the news has gone beyond noting g the arrests of the men to listing their alleged targets: from Big Ben to Westminster Abbey to the London Stock Exchange to the American Embassy, from celebrities to pubs and restaurants.

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Dec282010

Turkey Analysis: Erdogan Faces Political and Paramilitary Challenges on the "Kurdish Question"

With Ankara's cease-fire with the Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK) still in effect, discussions on the political level continue

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has responded to criticisms from opposition parties over his silence on the demands of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) for bilingualism and autonomy.

BDP Co-Chairman Selahattin Demirtaş said it would begin a de facto bilingual system in municipalities in the eastern and southeastern parts of Turkey.which would enhance the country's democratic structure. Vice Chairman Meral Danis Bestas added:

Our proposal is that we want regional assemblies apart from Turkish Grand National Assembly (TBMM) and provincial assemblies. We bring this proposal to strengthen local governance because central government is not responding to demands. We don't want this only for a single region but for the whole country. We don't want Turkey to get divided but we want an urgent and democratic constitution in which everyone can feel himself/herself inside and and which can include rights and freedom in unity.

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Dec282010

Belarus Updates: Detained Candidate Neklyaev Finally Sees His Lawyer

1124 GMT: Security Services have searched the home of the deputy chairman of the United Civil Party, Anatoly Lebedko.

Lebedko is in the KGB prison and is reportedly on hunger strike.

1120 GMT: On Wednesday at 9:30 a.m., a court will hear complaints by lawyers for detainees held by the state security service KGB.

Meanwhile, Presidential candidate Vitaly Rymashevsky was interrogated on Monday, with his lawyer managing to meet with him for a second time.

0730 GMT: Presidential candidate Vladimir Neklayev, beaten in the Election Day demonstrations of 19 December and then taken by security forces from his hospital bed, was finally allowed a visit from his lawyer on Monday afternoon.

Neklyaev's morale was "good", according to his lawyer Tamara Sidorenko; however, she added that Neklyaev was complaining of headaches and high blood pressure and "his face remains a huge bruise". Sidorenko said the Government must charge or release her client by Thursday.