Archive for the ‘iran’ tag
Gary Sick’s primer on Hassan Rouhani, Iran’s new president, and what he means for the countries relations with the outside world seems to walk carefully and well the line between optimism and realism about the future.
Khamenei appeared before the leadership of the powerful and conservative Revolutionary Guards Corps to remind them politely but firmly that their proper concern was national security, not politics. Since the Revolutionary Guards played a major part in undermining both of Rouhani’s predecessors, this was a unique and unequivocal demonstration of solidarity. It does not, however, guarantee indefinite support for Rouhani’s initiatives. The Guards and the senior clerical establishment will look for results and weigh their own interests. Thus far, Rouhani, with the help of the Leader, has stayed ahead of his domestic and foreign opposition, but in New York he and his associates gave every indication of being men in a hurry.
Though quotidien chaos in the streets is hardly unique to Iran, this video certainly makes me glad that I don’t have to drive there.
I thought this was interesting:
In contrast to the conventional wisdom that Iranian bloggers are mainly young democrats critical of the regime, we found a wide range of opinions representing religious conservative points of view as well as secular and reform-minded ones, and topics ranging from politics and human rights to poetry, religion, and pop culture.
Our research indicates that the Persian blogosphere is indeed a large discussion space of approximately 60,000 routinely updated blogs featuring a rich and varied mix of bloggers. Social network analysis reveals the Iranian blogosphere to be dominated by four major network formations, or poles, with identifiable sub-clusters of bloggers within those poles.
We label the poles as 1) Secular/Reformist, 2) Conservative/Religious, 3) Persian Poetry and Literature, and 4) Mixed Networks. (View the full map.) The secular/reformist pole contains both expatriates and Iranians involved in a dialog about Iranian politics, among many other issues. The conservative/religious pole contains three distinct sub-clusters, two focused principally on religious issues and one on politics and current affairs.
(via Andrew Sullivan)
Nothing in this piece is terribly surprising, but still I like to know how events in the United States are understood in other parts of the world. It would happen that though Hillary Clinton and John McCain are preferred by most Israelis, Mr. Obama is generally the favorite of Arabs. With one caveat:
Some Arabs are less smitten. Anti-Syrian politicians and activists in Lebanon may worry about Mr Obama’s willingness to start talks with Iran, fearing that they could result in America “selling out” Lebanon in exchange for a deal elsewhere in the region. But, for now, he seems to be the candidate of choice among Arabs.
Daniel Miessler’s mildly arrogant “What Every American Should Know About the Middle East” got a lot of attention recently. Sounding more intellectual but covering roughly the same ground, John Esposito and Dalia Mogahed make this point:
What about Muslim sympathy for terrorism? Many charge that Islam encourages violence more than other faiths, but studies show that Muslims around the world are at least as likely as Americans to condemn attacks on civilians. Polls show that 6% of the American public thinks attacks in which civilians are targets are “completely justified.” In Saudi Arabia, this figure is 4%. In Lebanon and Iran, it’s 2%.
Though it looks bad, The Economist argues that it’s not as bad as it looks.
Running on a separate list from the president’s supporters, powerful principlists such as Ali Larijani, Iran’s former nuclear negotiator, attacked Mr Ahmadinejad for the alleged incompetence of his economic management, which has pushed inflation close to 20%, and for needlessly antagonising foreign powers with inflammatory rhetoric. Aware that enthusiasm for the president has waned, even among the provincial poor who make up his strongest constituency, most conservative candidates tried to distance themselves from Mr Ahmadinejad, instead emphasising their closeness to Ayatollah Khamenei.
This is very wonky, but someone might be interested in it. After all, I was. The latest New York Review of Books has a proposal to solve the Iran nuclear problem.
As a solution to the nuclear dispute, the US and its allies should propose turning Iran’s national enrichment efforts into a multinational program. Under this approach, the Iranian government would agree to allow two or more additional governments (for example, France and Germany) to participate in the management and operation of those activities within Iran. In exchange, Iran would be able to jointly own and operate an enrichment facility without facing international sanctions. Resolving the nuclear issue would, in turn, make it possible for Iran to enjoy a variety of other benefits such as membership in the World Trade Organization (WTO), increased trade with Europe, access to badly needed equipment for its aviation and energy industries, and perhaps normalized relations with the United States.
The Economist profiles the reality of Iran’s Potemkin village politics which it so often ignored as people love to hate Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
On paper, the 290-seat majlis looks like any other parliament. It drafts laws, ratifies treaties (such as on nuclear non-proliferation) and debates the annual budget. In theory it can remove cabinet ministers and impeach the president for misconduct.
In practice, it plays second fiddle to the Guardian Council. Its dozen members are directly or indirectly appointed by Ayatollah Khamenei; they vet all candidates and can veto parliamentary legislation. In 2003 the majlis passed legislation to limit the constitutional authority of the Guardian Council—which predictably rejected it.
The Economist examines all the conspiracy theories surrounding the recent broken internet cables and decides that they probably don’t amount to more than a hill of beans.
It may be rare for several cables to go down in a week, but it can happen. Global Marine Systems, a firm that repairs marine cables, says more than 50 cables were cut or damaged in the Atlantic last year; big oceans are criss-crossed by so many cables that a single break has little impact. What was unusual about the damage in the Suez canal was that it took place at a point where two continents’ traffic is borne along only three cables. More are being laid. For the moment, there is only one fair conclusion: the internet is vulnerable, in places, but getting more robust.
The Economist begins its critical look at the status of Iran and the nuclear issue by strongly criticizing America’s intelligence officials. The whole piece is, as that opening hints, still (rightly) concerned about the prospects of a nuclear Iran.
IF YOU are locked eyeball to eyeball with an adversary as wily as Iran, it does not make much sense to do something that emboldens your opponent and sows defeatism among your friends. But that, it is now clear, is precisely what America’s spies achieved when they said in December that, contrary to their own previous assessments, Iran stopped its secret nuclear-weapons programme in 2003.
Slate’s Fred Kaplan gives a very useful illumination of the controversy that surfaced earlier this week about Iranian speedboats approaching and threating US navel vessels maneuvering in the Strait of Hormuz. Both sides have issued very different accounts and videos of the incident, for which Kaplan has a simple (and sensible) explanation:
The likely explanation for the differences is this: The two videos are of two different incidents.
For the new year, the Christian Science Monitor put together a quick-and-dirty run down of some of the world’s most interesting and important trouble spots. The list is neither exhaustive — Zimbabwe, Somalia, Sri Lanka, and (sadly) now Kenya are all worthy candidates, as is the suppressed conflict in Burma — or deep, but for those looking for a reminder of or introduction to international problems, it’s a great place to start. The quick list is: Palestine, Lebanon, Iran, Kosovo, Turkey, Colombia, Darfur. (Single-page printer-friendly edition, if that’s your preference.)