Iran Election Guide

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Entries in The Observer (4)


Syria 1st-Hand: Spectre of War Reaches "Coastal Retreat" of Latakia (Chulov)

"We are afraid, very, very afraid," said Loubna, a final-year university student and resident of the city. "For so long the regime has been saying we will be safe here. That nothing will happen to us. Nothing can happen to us. But people are leaving, people are dying. Death is so near."

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Britain Latest: Unrest in North London Leaves Vehicles and Shops Ablaze (The Observer)

Two police cars, a bus and ­several shops were attacked and set ablaze in north London on Saturday night as violence erupted following a protest demanding "justice" over a fatal police shooting.

Officers on horseback and others in riot gear clashed with hundreds of ­rioters armed with makeshift missiles in the centre of Tottenham after Mark Duggan, 29, a father of four, was killed on Thursday.

At one point, rioters broke through police ranks and attempted to storm Tottenham's police station, pelting officers with bricks, bottles and eggs. As a police helicopter flew over Tottenham High Road, youths in masks and hoods added combustible material to two burned out police cars, included a bundle of documents and an awning ripped down from one of the shops. Some attempted to persuade the rioters to disperse, one young man shouting: "Go home now people."

But others filled bottles with petrol to throw at the police lines. Many lined up with makeshift weapons including metal bars and baseball bats to confront the line of police, but others seemed more interested in looting. At one stage a safe was dragged out of a book­makers, while others were seen with a television set and an electric guitar. Several arrived with shopping trollies to take away what they had stolen.

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Sudan Feature: 500,000 Displaced as North Sudanese Forces Gather on Border (Flint)

Fierce new fighting along Sudan's volatile north-south divide is raising deep concern for the safety of the Nuba people, the forgotten victims of the country's long-running civil war who are once again under attack by government forces and militias.

The fighting has significantly increased the chances that the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that ended the civil war six years ago will collapse, reigniting a north-south war and ending all hopes of peaceful partition when oil-rich South Sudan formally declares itself independent on 9 July.

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Iran Feature: And Now We Bring You This Diversion from Iraq

UPDATE 1730 GMT: So let's check in, after Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's day in Tehran, to see if "diversion" is the right word....

Al-Maliki saw the Supreme Leader, who said, "Formation of a government as soon as possible and establishment of full security are among the important needs of Iraq because development and reconstruction of Iraq...can't be achieved without these two [conditions]." He continued, "All politicians and officials in Iraq should focus on formation of a new government as soon as possible," and then had a little dig at Washington, "I wish the almighty God ends America's menace over Iraq as soon as possible ... it will solve the Iraqi nation's problems."

It was more platitudes when al-Maliki saw Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who put out the sound-bite, "Regional countries and states can manage themselves and the region hand in hand, and by providing for one another's needs they can become each others supporters....Iran completely supports a united, strong and independent Iraq which serves the Iraqi people, Islamic ideals and progress of the region."

But for the most brazen tip-off --- either from al-Maliki or from Iranian state media putting words in his mouth --- that this was primarily a showpiece for the legitimacy of the Iranian Government rather than, in the overblown coverage of this morning, proof of Iran putting together Baghdad's leadership, let's close with the Iraqi Prime Minister's supposed greeting to Ahmadinejad....

""During your visit to Lebanon, the Zionist regime [of Israel] was on high [military] alert, which proved they are really cowards."

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