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The last few weeks has seen a marked escalation in Saudi-Iranian tension. Regionally the two powers are facing off in Syria, while Riyadh has accused Iran of meddling in its eastern region. The US has revealed dramatic details of a plot to kill the Saudi ambassador in Washington Adel Al Jubair, once again pointing the finger at Iran. But is it just a war of words and accusations, or is there more at play?

Iran | Saudi Arabia
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The missile threat posed to the Gulf region from Iran is “overstated”, according to a paper entitled A Crude Threat: The Limits of an Iranian Missile Campaign against Saudi Arabian Oil, published in the Harvard University-based International Security journal.

Iran | Saudi Arabia
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The activation of Iran’s Bushehr nuclear power plant in September, followed by the publication of excerpts from an allegedly leaked document questioning its safety, have increased fears of a large scale calamity in the Gulf.

Iran
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Over the past year Swiss foreign policy towards the Middle East has shifted away from the country’s long-held adherence to neutrality towards positions that fall more into line with the wider Western camp

Iran
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The astonishing allegation that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) was behind a plot to kill Saudi ambassador to Washington Adel Al Jubeir has left many analysts baffled and the Western media scrambling for an explanation. One US-based analyst called it “just bonkers”.

Iran | Saudi Arabia
Subscriber

The last few weeks has seen a marked escalation in Saudi-Iranian tension. Regionally the two powers are facing off in Syria, while Riyadh has accused Iran of meddling in its eastern region. The US has revealed dramatic details of a plot to kill the Saudi ambassador in Washington Adel Al-Jubair (see box, below), once again pointing the finger at Iran. But is it just a war of words and accusations, or is there more at play?

Iran | Saudi Arabia
Free

Switzerland, Iraq and, bizarrely, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez and Hollywood actor Sean Penn were among those credited with helping to secure the release of the US citizens who spent two years behind bars in Tehran on spying charges. But when Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer touched down in Muscat, Fattal said: “Our deepest gratitude goes toward his majesty Sultan Qaboos [Bin Said Al-Said] of Oman for obtaining our release.”

Iran | Oman
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There are a number of difficulties still to overcome, but the neighbours finally appear to have made progress in efforts to settle long-running border disputes and assign landmarks.

Iran | Iraq
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The Islamic Republic of Iran Navy (Irin) and the more recently created Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy (IRGCN) are developing capabilities that increase their threat to shipping and other targets in the Gulf, Caspian Sea and Gulf of Oman, according to research presented by the Washington-based Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).

Iran
Free

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad finds himself besieged by a resurgent clerical elite and a parliament (Majlis) firmly behind Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Opponents are fighting back against Ahmadinejad’s consolidation of power since his disputed re-election in 2009, and his position in what hardline conservatives call a liberal ‘deviant current’ in Iranian politics.

Iran
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As the rift between President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Rahbar (Supreme Leader) Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and his supporters grows, one of the head of government’s apparently waning number of allies, foreign minister Ali Akbar Salehi, faces impeachment over his controversial 19 June appointment of Mohammad Sharif Malekzadeh as his deputy. Conservative politicians, and particularly the Intelligence Ministry headed by Heidar Moslehi – a close Khamenei ally who Ahmadinejad unsuccessfully attempted to remove in April – were infuriated by the Malekzadeh appointment, at a time when corruption charges were hanging over him.

Iran
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After infuriating MPs and the clerical elite by installing himself as oil minister following the 12 May dismissal of Massoud Mirkazemi, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad bowed to pressure by appointing ally Mohammed Aliabadi as caretaker minister in early June.

Iran
Free

Having fought off mass protests and substantial civil unrest after his disputed re-election in June 2009, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is now besieged by a resurgent clerical elite and supporters of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who are fighting back against the president’s attempts to consolidate power.

Iran
Issue 899 - 30 April 2011

Showdown brews in Iran

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Tensions are high between supporters of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and conservative factions in the run-up to the March 2012 parliamentary election, the Associated Press has reported. Intelligence minister Heydar Moslehi’s

Iran
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Major Nigerian political player James Onanefe Ibori was released from a Dubai prison. Mehdi Hashemi Rafsanjani is being investigated by Oxford University. Qatar is expected to nominate former GCC secretary general Abdelrahman Al-Attiyah as the League of Arab States’ secretary general. Qatar’s newspapers speak out

Iran | United Arab Emirates (UAE) | Qatar