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The Majlis has approved 18 of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s 21 nominations to government posts, many of whom are hardliners loyal to the president and with backgrounds in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). The composition of the new government further fuels suspicion that the IRGC is seizing power in the Islamic Republic. It has become more prominent since it backed Ahmadinejad in June’s disputed presidential election, subsequently clamping down on dissenters and opposition.

Iran
Subscriber

A cargo ship that vanished en route from Finland to Algeria on 24 July was carrying arms to Iran and was being tracked by the Israeli security service Mossad, according to sources in Russia and Israel quoted in UK newspaper The Sunday Times.

Iran
Free

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s inauguration marked an inauspicious beginning of his second term in office, as political divisions within the ruling elite continued to deepen, to the extent that forming a new cabinet could prove difficult for the embattled head of government. Until 12 June apparently the master of his political arena, Ahmadinejad now seems unable to do anything right – as was underlined last month when he caused outrage among conservative ranks by appointing Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie as first vice president, a nepotistic move which further diminished his already damaged authority.

Iran
Issue 859 - 08 August 2009

Oman’s approaches to Iran and Yemen

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Oman has reduced the chance of conflict with Iran in the tight confines of the Strait of Hormuz through a policy of engagement, committed defence diplomacy and other confidence-building measures. It regards maintaining defences as an effective way of levering diplomatic efforts and forcing Iran to respect the Sultanate (see GSN view). In 1980, Omani and Iranian naval forces faced off in shows of force,

Iran | Yemen | Oman
Free

Sultan Qaboos Bin Said Al-Saeed’s three-day official visit to Iran has cemented decades of steady relations between the troubled Islamic Republic and Oman, for long seen as a moderate and sensible state whose good offices are valued by international partners. The visit, the Sultan’s first since Shah Reza Pahlavi’s fall in 1979, has highlighted the importance that Muscat attributes to maintaining steady relations with its large and powerful neighbour.

Iran | Oman
Subscriber

The Sultan’s decision to visit Iran during President Ahmadinejad’s inauguration shows that Oman remains a significant player in the region, able to balance strong relations with the West with an open approach to Tehran. And the purchase of 24 Eurofighter Typhoons shows it has a tougher mindset, too.

Iran | Oman
Subscriber

Washington’s decision, announced on 9 July, to release five Iranian officials detained by US forces in Iraq since January 2007 was unusually timed. The men were described by Tehran as ‘diplomats’ but were said to have included the operations chief and other members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps’ Quds force, which was accused of arming local Shia militias and inciting attacks against US forces

Iran | Iraq
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President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad managed to add further complexity to the Iranian crisis with the appointment of Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie as first vice president. Known to favour cultivating diplomatic relations with Israel, the move created a political storm among leading hardliners. Rahbar Ayatollah Ali Khamenei reportedly instructed Ahmadinejad to sack Mashaie, suggesting a potential split between the Supreme Leader and his protégé.

Iran
Subscriber

Iran’s post-election crackdown has deepened GCC concerns about regional security. But that does not mean the Saudis would tacitly grant Israel airspace to mount a strike against the Natanz nuclear plant.

Iran | Saudi Arabia | Israel
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Respected individuals identified with the outside world but not politically active are among those rounded up in the Iranian regime's post-election crackdown.

Iran
Free

Published in June 2009, this map provides an overview of global Islamic finance markets. Charts and graphics include Sharia-compliant financial assets by country (Dec 2007), Takaful operators by country (2008), Leading Islamic banks by asset values (Dec 2007), and Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) inter-regional trade

Iran | Kuwait | Saudi Arabia | Bahrain | United Arab Emirates (UAE) | Qatar
Issue 855 - 13 June 2009

Ways of seeing the election debacle

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President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: Of Iran's international critics he said, "The 84%-plus participation by eligible voters is a major blow… to the oppressive system ruling the world." "This is a great victory at a time and condition when the whole material, political and propaganda facilities outside of Iran and sometimes... inside Iran, were total mobilised against our people," he said. He also dismissed the unrest as being like the "passions after a soccer match."

Iran
Issue 855 - 13 June 2009

Post-election crackdowns

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In the aftermath of the election results, security forces cracked down on opposition members, protesters and the media. Over 100 members of reformist groups have been arrested, accused of orchestrating protests and the ensuing violence. Many backers of the defeated candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi have been rounded up.

Iran
Subscriber

Once debate was unleashed in Iran’s election, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s maverick foreign policy came to play an important role in shaping opinion, among ordinary voters who see beyond populist sentiments to count the cost of Iran’s isolation as well as among elite players who have increasingly come to view the incumbent as a liability.

Iran | Saudi Arabia | United Arab Emirates (UAE)
Free

Two years into his presidency, Nicolas Sarkozy is starting to reap the rewards of an election night promise to place the Middle East among the key priorities of French foreign policy. Arab governments now see Paris as a key point of contact and leverage, a useful counterpoint to their traditionally close relations with Washington, and a strategic ally in propping up the peace process and countering the strategic challenge posed by Iran.

Iran | United Arab Emirates (UAE)