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Issue 467 - 10 August 1993

Lebanon: Hizbullah, Iran and Syria


Israel's week-long attack on Lebanon last month brought widespread international condemnation, as did numerous previous aggressions against Israel's hapless northern neighbour. The latest attack, however, was distinctive in being directed specifically against Lebanese of the Hizbullah (Party of God) faction. Being directed at them, it involved Iran, which has inspired and financed Hizbullah.

Issue 466 - 27 July 1993



For more than a year the governments of many Islamic states, including notably Saudi Arabia and Iran, have been speaking out strongly about the situation of the Bosnian Muslims in the conflict in the former Yugoslavia. Now, however, the Islamic Conference Organisation (ICO) and many of its member states have gone beyond declarations. At a special ministerial meeting in Islamabad the ICO agreed on 13 July on the dispatch of troops by seven Islamic countries for a much enlarged UN force in Bosnia-Hercegovina.

Issue 465 - 13 July 1993



The American missile raid on Baghdad last month was different from the raids of last January, which were a response to Iraqi challenges to the Gulf War victors. The new raid had no connection with the terms imposed on Iraq after the war, or with the UN resolutions regarding Iraq, or with the UN at all. It was a unilateral US act of retaliation for Iraq's alleged instigation of a plot to assassinate ex- President Bush in Kuwait in April.

Issue 464 - 30 June 1993



As the third anniversary of Iraq's invasion of Kuwait approaches, the occupation and the subsequent war are still an important daily preoccupation of Kuwaitis. If others begin to forget the Gulf crisis and war the Kuwaitis, naturally enough, do not.

Issue 463 - 15 June 1993



Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani is fairly sure to be re-elected as President of Iran in the elections on 11 June. But even if by some extraordinary chance one of the other candidates won, he would probably follow the statement recently made by Rafsanjani's special adviser on foreign relations, Javad Larijani: "It is better for us to stick to our principles and come to terms with our external environment rather than trying to calculate when the world is happy with us and when the world is not happy with us".

Issue 462 - 01 June 1993



If a government ruling a Muslim state in the name of Islam is challenged by non-Muslims, it can deal with them fairly easily. But if it is challenged by eminent and well-educated Muslims in the name of Islam, quoting the Islamic scriptures to back their case, it feels its foundations are threatened. That accounts for the Saudi government reaction to the formation of the Committee for the Defence of Legitimate Rights.

Issue 461 - 18 May 1993



The General People's Congress (GPC), which ruled conservative North Yemen before the 1990 merger with the formerly Marxist South Yemen, won more than a third of the legislative seats in this month's elections to emerge as the largest parliamentary faction in the country. More than 3,600 candidates, including 50 women, competed for the 301 parliamentary seats in what is regarded as a key test of Yemen's fledgling democracy in a region otherwise exclusively ruled by absolute monarchies or government single-party systems.

Issue 460 - 04 May 1993



In a move that had as many political implications as it had financial connotations, Iran's Central Bank recently announced the adoption of a single foreign exchange rate. In a statement on Iranian television, Central Bank governor Mohammad Hossein Adeli said the decision was made by a special committee on foreign currency headed by the President himself, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. "The rial, the national currency, is declared convertible and all those who need foreign currency can refer to the banking system for their various needs", the Governor said.

Issue 459 - 20 April 1993



The recent decision by the western powers not to make the removal from power of President Saddam Hussein a condition for the lifting of sanctions against Iraq is merely making a virtue out of necessity. There is in fact very little the western powers are able or are willing to do about consigning Saddam Hussein to the dustbin of history. The dropping of Saddam Hussein's enforced departure from the western political agenda for Iraq has not, however, at all diminished the fervour and the activities of the Iraqi political opposition groups.

Issue 458 - 06 April 1993



President Rafsanjani remains by far the odds-on favourite to win another four-year presidential term of office in the June election, but he is more than likely to face a number of serious challenges from both the left and right wings of Iran's political establishment. It is probable that the radicals of the left, epitomised by Mehdi Kharrubi's Society of Combatant Clerics of Tehran, and presently virtually excluded from the Majlis, may put forward a candidate. Ayatollah Musavi Khoemha is being mentioned as a candidate. But the radical left has been largely out-manoeuvred by President Rafsanjani and it is thought doubtful that they would garner much popular support during the elections

Issue 457 - 22 March 1993



Whenever - as is presently the case - the official voice from Tehran becomes shrill and censorious it is usually a sign that Iran's internal political stresses and strains have intensified. Certainly there has been international criticism about Iranian policy and actions in recent months and it would be unrealistic to expect the government in Tehran not to defend itself vigorously.

Issue 456 - 08 March 1993



When it comes to arms and armaments, if you have the demand we have the supply, the republic of Russia is saying to the world at large and the countries of the Gulf region in particular. With the latest technology, no political strings attached, rock- bottom prices, quick delivery and no quantitative restrictions, Russia and other cash-strapped republics of the former Soviet Union are making a determined push into the lucrative Gulf arms market, fuelling an already accelerating arms race between Iran and the Arab countries.

Issue 455 - 22 February 1993



Two currencies, two national airlines, two legal systems. Even two armies, supposedly with an integrated command but with separate units in the field. Well past the second anniversary of Yemen's unification, the two parts of the country are finding it very difficult to abandon some aspects of their distinct identities. Most politically- minded Yemenis, however, remain optimistic; they say the process of unification is irreversible and anomalies will disappear as the merging process continues.

Issue 454 - 08 February 1993



The Western missile and air strikes against Iraq added a harshly discordant note to President Bill Clinton's otherwise upbeat and festive inauguration in Washington; a baleful underlining of the foreign policy dilemma he faces. Clinton had vowed over and over to "focus like a laser" on the nation's economy, but when he was sworn in as the 42nd chief executive of the US, he faced even more pressing concerns.

Issue 453 - 25 January 1993



The Tomahawk cruise missiles and the laser-guided bombs of the western allies which thundered down onto in Iraq last week were not, really, of much military significance to the western powers or, even, Iraq. The air raids on missile and radar sites in the southern and northern 'no-fly' zones and the cruise missiles launched from US warships in the Gulf and the Red Sea at the alleged nuclear weapons facility near Baghdad were, for all their violent effects, conveying explicit political messages to the Iraqi regime.