Omran Zoabi, Syrian Information Minister, who apparently has no sense of irony.
Source: “Syria says Mursi must realise Egyptians don’t want him,” Reuters.
Expanding the European Union
Regarding a previous post on Serbia and Kosovo:
— Maja Kocijancic (@AshtonSpox_Maja)
Also, Croatia (part of the war torn former Yugoslavia), will be admitted to the Union next month:
— EU External Action (@eu_eeas)
Will Iran’s Election Results Bring Change?
According to The New York Times, Cleric Hasan Rowhani won the Iranian presidential election. Rowhani was considered the most moderate candidate in the race. An interesting result and one and that should be looked upon with caution as well as optimism. Reportedly, Ayatollah Khamenei declared that “A vote for any of these candidates is a vote for the Islamic Republic and a vote of confidence in the system.” In other words, a vote for any candidate is a vote for the status quo. Khamenei could confidently state this because as the AP reports:
“The ruling clerics barred from the race reform candidates seen as too prominent, allowing a list of hopefuls who were mainly staunch loyalists of the supreme leader and the Islamic establishment. But the opposition settled on the 64-year-old Rowhani as the least objectionable of the bunch, making him a de facto reform candidate with backers inspired by his message of outreach rather than confrontation.”
Because the clerics groomed the field of candidates they assured themselves a candidate that we at least acceptable if not preferred. This is not to say that Rowhani was chosen, several days ago the Los Angeles Times reported that Saeed Jalili, Iran’s hardline nuclear negotiator was the presumed front runner.
While Rowhani was an ‘approved’ candidate, he has given many liberals hope that they will have more of a voice in the theocracy. Additionally, Reuters tells that some in the Arab world are slightly hopeful that Rowhani ‘s election will bring change.
“Hassan Rohani, a Shi‘ite cleric known for a conciliatory approach and backed by reformists, will have only limited say in policy determined by Iran’s supreme leader; but with the Syrian carnage fuelling rage among Sunni Arabs across the region, any gestures from Tehran may help contain it.”
What the future will bring for Iran is difficult to say. Rowhani may try to seize on the energy that his election created among liberals and reform minded moderates and bring substantive change. As the article by The New York Times points out, Rowhani was popular because he has taken many moderate positions, has been outspoken against police violence, and supports women’s rights. However, it should be remembered that when President Ahmadinejad challenged the clerics and tried to consolidate more power into the presidency* he lost the Council’s approval and (after a power struggle) was marginalized and forbidden from running for a third term. Will Rowhani be successful in bringing change? Only time can tell but any optimism should be guarded by a healthy dose of caution.
*Ahmadinejad’s challenge to the clerics was more of a personal power play, however, since the presidency is an elected position it would have also made Iran somewhat more democratic by vesting more power in an elected official.
Image via Wikipedia.
“Iran Moderate Wins Presidential Election,” Matt Cantor, Newser.
“Iran Moderate Wins Presidency By Large Margin,” Thomas Erdbrink, The New York Times.
“Moderate cleric wins Iran’s presidential vote,” Ali Akbar Dareini and Brian Murphy, Associated Press.
“Arabs put (slim) hopes in new Iranian president,” Alastair Macdonald and Angus McDowall, Reuters.
“Obama Announces New Sanctions on Iran,” Shashank Bengali, Los Angeles Times.
Can We Just Admit that the USA is at War With Iran?
It may be a cold/economic war but it is war.
On Monday, the US announced a new round of even harsher sanctions directed against Iran. This is the ninth round of sanctions.
(See: “Obama Announces New Sanctions on Iran”- LA Times and “U.S. Targets Iran with Currency, Auto-Sector Sanctions”- Reuters.)
Previous sanctions have targeted Iran’s oil industry, some manufacturing, and their banks and other financial institutions. This new round will target the auto industry and most importantly the rial. Reuters reports that a government official stated that ”The objective is to take aim at the rial and to make it as unusable a currency as possible.” The prior sanctions have already decimated the rial causing its value to plummet by 60+%. Now, with currency specific sanctions, the value of the rial will soon be close to zero.
The sanctions, of course, are supposed to pressure the government of Iran to give up its nuclear program. Thus far, after years of pressure, negotiations, and nine rounds of sanctions the best that can be claimed is that the advancement of the Iranian program has been slowed.
It is an “election” year in Iran and as the LA Times reports the presumed front runner is Saeed Jalili, Iran’s “longtime nuclear negotiator.” So, the diplomat who has been defiantly thumbing his nose the West’s sanctions and who has been insisting on Iran’s right to develop and maintain a nuclear program may (Ayatollah permitting) become the next president of Iran. If this happens the chances of this economic war turning hot will probably increase.