Iran Election Guide

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Tuesday
Dec142010

US Politics: Why There Will Be No DREAM Act, No Repeal of "Don't Ask and Don't Tell", and No New START

There will be partisan bickering in Congress, despite this season's message of peace and goodwill over tax cuts;  however, the likelihood is that some kind of measure will be cobbled together to keep the government funded by the deadline of 1 January.

The real casualty of the discussions over a continuing resolution and the contentious floor battle over tax cuts will be three other issues that the Democrats wanted to address: the DREAM Act, the repeal of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" restriction on gays and lesbians in the military, and the "New START" nuclear treaty with Russia.

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Tuesday
Dec142010

Israel-Palestine Analysis: Washington's "Fresh" Attempt at Talks Puts Netanyahu on the Spot

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu faces a challenge. The Obama Administration wants a "fresh" start for indirect talks from both sides. Netanyahu is expected to put forth an offer, especially on borders between Israel and a Palestinian state. The US hopes that a consensus on those borders will bring the solution of other core issues such as security, Jerusalem, water, and settlements.

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Monday
Dec132010

Iran Special Analysis: Ahmadinejad's Victory? The Firing of Foreign Minister Mottaki (Tehrani)

At some stage, Ayatollah Khamenei probably gave his green light for Foreign Minister Mottaki's replacement, but President Ahmadinejad's disposal of Mottaki was most probably a surprise move, even for the Supreme Leader.

To show off his powers and humiliate his closest rivals, such as Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani and Tehran Mayor Mohammad-Baqer Qalibaf, the President decided to do what none of his precedessors had dared or managed to do: fire one of the Islamic Republic's long-serving foreign ministers. Indeed, Ahmadinejad indulged in one of the more acute examples of his "bravado" behaviour, issuing a terse communique firing the Mottaki, just after the Foreign Minister had delivered a message from the President to his Senegalese counterpart.

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Monday
Dec132010

Afghanistan: Hamid Karzai --- America's "Question Mark" (Chandrasekaran)

Afghan President Hamid Karzai had heard enough.

For more than an hour, Gen. David H. Petraeus, U.S. Ambassador Karl W. Eikenberry and other top Western officials in Kabul urged Karzai to delay implementing a ban on private security firms. Reconstruction projects worth billions of dollars would have to be shuttered, they maintained, if foreign guards were evicted.

Sitting at the head of a glass-topped, U-shaped table in his conference room, Karzai refused to budge, according to two people with direct knowledge of the late October meeting. He insisted that Afghan police and soldiers could protect the reconstruction workers, and he dismissed pleas for a delay.

As he spoke, he grew agitated, then enraged. He told them that he now has three "main enemies" --- the Taliban, the United States and the international community.

"If I had to choose sides today, I'd choose the Taliban," he fumed.

After a few more parting shots, he got up and walked out of the wood-paneled room.

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Monday
Dec132010

The Latest from Iran (13 December): Political Battles and Human Rights

2005 GMT: Signal of the Day. This might be the most telling news item about the future of Iranian diplomacy on the day that Foreign Minister Mottaki was fired.

While Mottaki was in Senegal on his last state trip, another Iranian emissary was leading a delegation to the strategic country of Jordan.

That emissary? President Ahmadinejad’s Chief of Staff Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai.

That's right. The same Rahim-Mashai whose designation as a special envoy this summer prompted Mottaki's threat to resign and the Supreme Leader's chiding of the President for a "parallel" foreign policy, bringing a promise that Rahim-Mashai's position would be downgraded.

2000 GMT: Reaction to the Dismissal. We reported earlier (see 1654 GMT) that Alaeddine Boroujerdi, the chairman of the National Security Commission. learned of Foreign Minister Mottaki's dismissal from a Khabar Online reporter. His reaction is worth repeating in full: "Isn't Mr. Mottaki on a trip? You mean the dismissal decree was issued while he was on a mission?"

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Monday
Dec132010

Egypt Snapshot: Mubarak "Pleased" But Protests Continue Over Elections

Yesterday, even as President Hosni Mubarak tried to settle any tensions over this month's Parliamentary elections, in which his ruling National Democratic Party won more than 90% of the seats, there were further signs of troubled political waters.

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Monday
Dec132010

Iran Snapshot: Political Prisoners, Hunger Strikes, and The Spectre That Defies Calm

Even though news is hard to obtain to verify rumour, the movement of the stories defies the easy declaration --- made by some readers to EA this weekend --- that the "political situation is calm".

Calm is denied by the increasing, rather than easing, repression of the Iranian authorities. Resolution is belied by detention, hunger strikes, and the possibility of death.

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Monday
Dec132010

US Politics and Tax Cuts: Sanders' Remarkable 8 1/2-Hour "BernieBuster" Challenges Republicans...and Obama

Despite some hostile immediate reactions from progressives, including a non-binding resolution by the House Democratic Caucus that they would not even consider voting on the deal unless it was amended, Obama appeared to have won the argument within his party by Sunday.

But a remarkable piece of political theatre that took place on the floor of the Senate on Friday has energised opposition within some circles to the compromise. At 10:24 a.m., Bernie Sanders, the 69-year old Independent senator form Vermont, began a speech criticising the compromise as a “bad deal” for Americans. Eight and a half hours later, without eating or even sitting, Sanders concluded what became instantly known as the #filibernie on Twitter, where the speech trended Number 1 worldwide on Friday afternoon. While he was speaking the filibernie.com and berniesandersisstilltalking.com websites sprung up, and at the former the whole speech is still available on video with the comment: "Because somewhere on the internet this deserves to be looping forever...."

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Sunday
Dec122010

WikiLeaks CyberWar Update: Is Amazon UK Down?

UPDATE 13 DECEMBER: Amazon says a hardware failure, rather than an attack, took down its European sites for about 45 minutes on Sunday night.

A spokeswoman said, "The brief interruption to our European retail sites earlier today was due to hardware failure in our European datacenter network and not the result of a DDOS attempt."

UPDATE 2145 GMT: All Amazon sites in Europe are back on-line.

UPDATE 2140 GMT: Amazon is now reporting "Performance Issues" with Amazon Simple Notification Service (Ireland) and Amazon Simple Queue Service (Ireland).

UPDATE 2120 GMT: It is reported that the outage is because Amazon Data Services for Europe, based in Dublin, is down.

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Sunday
Dec122010

Sunday Music Video Special: Vladmir Putin Finds His Thrills on "Blueberry Hill"

Last weekend's treat was North Korean Dear Leader Kim Jong-Il Looking at Things. This week it is Russian Dear Leader Vladimir Putin Playing Piano and Singing Fats Domino.

From a charity concert on Friday in St Petersburg for children suffering from eye diseases and cancer: