Iran Election Guide

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Wednesday
Dec222010

Iran Special: A Plea to Western Media About "Sakineh", Political Prisoners, and Human Rights (Alinejad)

As we approach the anniversary of those who died in the demonstrations of 27 December 2009, I ask my Western colleagues not to be fixated by the Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani case. I ask them to look at the political prisoners languishing in Iran's jails and the pressures faced by families who lost their loved ones during the protest.

I ask them to notice those like renowned Iranian human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, who represented many of these families and political prisoners, who has now been detained for 3 1/2 months, who has gone on hunger strike not only to fight for her rights but for the rights of the all those who are imprisoned for dissent and pursuit of civil society.

I ask the Western media not just to see one 43-year-old woman fighting for her life. I ask the Western media to take notice of the thousands, inside and outside prison, who are fighting for their lives and those of fellow Iranians.

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Wednesday
Dec222010

Iraq: Finally a Government is Formed (Leland/Healy)

Iraq’s Parliament approved a new government on Tuesday, ending nine months of infighting that threatened to throw the nation into a constitutional crisis but leaving many festering problems unresolved.

The delay in forming a government led to growing unemployment, worsening services and rising cynicism among voters who risked their lives to participate in the March election. But the new government rests on jury-rigged alliances that may make it too unwieldy to address Iraq’s many problems, especially as American troops prepare to withdraw by the end of 2011.

As he did after the previous election in 2005, Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki did not appoint heads for the ministries in charge of security, promising to do so later as he named himself as acting head of those posts.

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Wednesday
Dec222010

Belarus Updates: 5 Presidential Candidates, 12 Others Accused of "Organising Riots"

UPDATE 1155 GMT: Aleksandr Klaskovsky, the "hero policeman" who urged fellow police not to beat demonstrators on Sunday, has now repented for his "idiotic" actions.

Klaskovsky is the son of the prominent journalist and political analyst by the same name.

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Wednesday
Dec222010

US Politics: The Military, Gays and Lesbians, and the Miraculous Repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"

Nothing I can say will change Pat Buchanan’s mind. Nor will it help the nearly 13,000 homosexuals expelled from the military since 1993. But repeal of DADT marks another step on the often rocky road to acceptance of civil rights for all Americans. The decision of Congress to end the ban, rather than cravenly letting the courts resolve the issue, shows that America’s political culture --- the "rules" by which both sides of the political divide abide --- still retains the democratic vitality to make tough choices for the right reasons. As politics becomes more and more polarized in America in the future, long may that respect for the will of the people as expressed by their representatives continue.

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Wednesday
Dec222010

The Latest from Iran (22 December): Chaining the Balloon

2155 GMT: Sedition Watch. Kurdish defendants in a trial in Tehran have said that they were paid $30 million by British intelligence to carry out terrorist acts and assassinations. The defendants also implicated elements in Iraqi intelligence "opposed to Iran".

2040 GMT: Subsidy Cuts Watch. Ali Chenar, writing for Tehran Bureau, offers some vivid first-hand testimony about the effect of the rise in gasoline prices on taxi drivers and on airlines. One cabbie summarises his reaction when the increases were announced: "Right away, I knew I was bankrupt."

1950 GMT: Picture of the Day. Journalist Abdolreza Tajik after he was released tonight on $500,000 bail (hat tip to Mehdi Saharkhiz):

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Wednesday
Dec222010

The Turkey-Israel-US Triangle: Obama Boosts Erdogan's Credibility 

On Sunday, following a conversation with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, President Obama conducted an e-mail interview with the Turkish daily Hurriyet

Obama said that he and Erdogan had “reaffirmed the strong state of U.S.-Turkish relations” despite some differences “from time to time.” He continued:

Our partnership is resilient, and we agreed that the irresponsible acts of WikiLeaks do not threaten it. Given the increasingly complex challenges the world faces, I believe that U.S.-Turkish cooperation is more important now than ever.

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Wednesday
Dec222010

WikiLeaks 2007 Special: Palestinian Authority Calls on Israel to Attack Hamas

In a June 2007 report, the head of Israel's internal intelligence service Shin Bet, Yuvak Diskin, had a meeting with US Ambassador Richard H. Jones. Diskin talked about the destructive yet balancing nature of the conflict between the Palestinian parties Fatah and Hamas, outlined Fatah's disadvantages  in that contest, and complained about Cairo.

Then Diskin claimed that a "desperate" Fatah Party had turned to Israel:

They are approaching a zero-sum situation, and yet they ask us to attack Hamas. This is a new development. We have never seen this before. They are desperate.

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Tuesday
Dec212010

US Politics Special: Dream On --- Congress Turns Back the DREAM Act for Immigrants

President Obama still retains options to address the issue of immigration reform, including possible use of his executive order powers, but he appears to be caught between a rock and a hard place: declare an amnesty for the children of illegal aliens, risking a political backlash, or accept the suspension of the legislation. Onn one side, he faces a resurgent opposition committed to tougher controls to stop more immigrants entering America and to laws, like Arizona’s SB 1070, encouraging illegal aliens to leave the country. On the other side, there is a growing demographic of Hispanic voters –-- who some analysts are now crediting with providing the votes that helped Democrats retain a majority in the Senate --- whose top priority is an easing of the requirements for undocumented aliens to gain legal status.

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Tuesday
Dec212010

Belarus Updates: US Declares Elections Illegitimate

UPDATE 1915 GMT: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports that opposition candidate Vladimir Neklyayev, who was hospitalised on Sunday after he was beaten unconscious by police, was subsequently snatched from his hospital bed by men in plainclothes.

Now See Wednesday's Updates: 5 Presidential Candidates, 12 Others Accused of "Organising Riots"

UPDATE 1900 GMT: Activists claim that independent exit polls showed President Alexander Lukashenko was preferred by 40% of voters, followed by Vladimir Neklyayev with 19.3% and Andrei Sannikov with 13%.

The official return declared Lukashenko the victor with 80%, with no opponent getting more than 2.56%. Neklyayev was reportedly beaten unconscious and taken to hospital during Sunday protests.

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Tuesday
Dec212010

The Latest from Iran (21 December): Tremors 

2030 GMT: Diplomatic Protest. Twenty leading MPs, including Ahmad Tavakoli, Ali Motahari, and Elyas Naderan, have written to Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani to protest last week's dismissal of Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki. The MPs have demanded that Parliament's National Security Commission "address the issue as soon as possible".

1850 GMT: Subsidy Cuts Watch. Thomas Erdbrink (see 1840 GMT) also reports that business in department stores had fallen off even though Iranians are celebrating Shab-e Yalda, their festival for the winter solstice.

1840 GMT: The Truckers' Strike. Interesting news from Thomas Erdbrink of The Washington Post in Tehran....

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