April 30, 2007


Iran's long road to Sharm al-Sheikh (Kaveh L Afrasiabi, 5/01/07, Asia Times)

Although Iran's delegation will be headed by Mottaki, all eyes are on Ali Larijani, the powerful head of the Iranian Supreme National Security Council, who made a surprise visit to Baghdad to discuss the summit, about which Larijani has expressed "certain ambiguities and questions".

But the ambiguities may run on both sides, and a key question centers on Iran's own diplomatic priorities. Larijani is fresh from constructive dialogue with Javier Solana, the foreign-policy chief of the European Union, in Ankara last week, on Iran's nuclear program. Solana has said Larijani told him Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei had expressed "readiness to engage in direct dialogue" with the United States. [...]

Rice appears to be amenable to Solana's suggestion and has stated that she does not "rule out" the possibility of direct dialogue with Mottaki on the sidelines of the Egypt conference, adding that if this were to take place, she would discuss not only Iraq but also the nuclear issue.

Inside the struggle for Iran (Simon Tisdall, April 30, 2007, The Guardian)

A grand coalition of anti-government forces is planning a second Iranian revolution via the ballot box to deny President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad another term in office and break the grip of what they call the "militia state" on public life and personal freedom.

Encouraged by recent successes in local elections, opposition factions, democracy activists, and pro-reform clerics say they will bring together progressive parties loyal to former president Mohammad Khatami with so-called pragmatic conservatives led by Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani. [...]

[O]pposition spokesmen say their broader objective is to bring down the fundamentalist regime by democratic means, transform Iran into a "normal country", and obviate the need for any military or other US and western intervention. Rightwing political and religious forces, divided and dismayed by Mr Ahmadinejad's much-criticised performance, are already mobilising to meet the threat.

The movement amounts to the clearest sign yet within Iran that the country is by no means unified behind a president who has led it into confrontation with the west over the nuclear issue, while presiding over economic decline at home.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 30, 2007 9:37 AM
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