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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
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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
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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
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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)
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Opposition supporters remain passionate about the rightness of their cause, but as Basij and other militia stalked the streets of Tehran, the regime appeared to be regaining the initiative in realpolitik terms as this special issue of GSN went to press.

Iran
Issue 855 - 13 June 2009

Khamenei in a tight spot

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Rahbar (Supreme Leader) Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s Friday prayers speech at Tehran University on 19 June was awaited with great anticipation; Khamenei normally only makes public appearances to mark Ramadan and the anniversary of the 1979 revolution. Iranian state television promoted his appearance as a major event.

Iran
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The widely disputed 12 June presidential elections have led to protests in Iran on a scale not seen since the Islamic Republic’s 1979 revolution. The incumbent candidate Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s seemingly implausible victory with 63% of the vote has led to a further divide in Iranian politics and society.

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
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Rapidly spreading protests are seen as a challenge not just to the election result and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but also to Rahbar (Supreme Leader) Ayatollah Ali Khamenei – and may eventually challenge the basis of the Islamic Republic (although this latter challenge still seems a long way off).

Iran
Free

Given half a chance, Iranians will vote against the establishment – not just in disaffected urban areas, but in the countryside (where incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is widely believed to have the edge), and even within the ruling elite, whose members may swap from faction to faction while maintaining staunch support for Iran’s velayat-e faqih system of clerical rule. Ahmadinejad has made a global career by presenting himself as an underdog – a status that tends to attract Iranian voters (as the reformist Mohammad Khatami found when he beat conservative rivals in 1997). But he has other elite ‘underdogs’ to compete with.

Iran