Influential Institutions

Friday, February 04th, 2011
As head of the 125,000 strong Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRCG or Pasadaran) Mohammad Ali Jafari, aged 53, is a very powerful figure in the establishment. From Yazd, a very conservative city in central Iran, he was always a fervent loyalist for the revolution. During the war he fought with distinction with the paramilitary Basiji forces founded by Ayatollah Khomeini and reporting directly to the Revolutionary...
Monday, January 24th, 2011
Though there was no breakthrough at the Istanbul talks between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN (China, Russia, US, France, and UK) plus Germany, it is still very important to keep praying there is a negotiated settlement to this issue. The five plus one team said the door was still open for Iran to return to the table, and some diplomats are privately hopeful this will happen. And Saeed Jalili, the...
Monday, December 20th, 2010
Reports are appearing that Turkey is brokering a deal whereby Iran will send its 20% enriched uranium to a safe location, and Russia and France will supply ready made fuel rods needed for domestic energy. There is also talk of sanctions against Iran being dropped. If these reports are true and all parties are in agreement, this could signal the end to the looming crisis of the impact of Iran’s nuclear ambitions. The...
Monday, December 06th, 2010
You are charged with some responsibility for the defence of seventy million people. You and your leaders are feeling surrounded, and now the whole world knows through Wikileaks that some of your neighbours have been asking the world’s superpower to attack you, “to cut off the head of the snake”, you being the snake. So a part of you thinks you should try and get the best defence weapon available, especially as the...
Thursday, October 28th, 2010
Last week the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, went to Qom, the emotional home of the Islamic Republic. And with up to 50,000 religious students, it is the training centre for Shias the world over. Workers and children were given the day off, and a huge crowd poured out to welcome him. In his speech Ayatollah Khamenei gave generous praise for Qom, and then he moved to familiar ground, with much mention of foreign...
Wednesday, October 13th, 2010
Azad means free, and Iran’s Azad University, the largest in the Middle East, has been free from government control since it’s founding in 1982. But it looks like its days of being truly ‘azad’ are numbered. During last year’s massive show down between moderates and conservatives over the presidential election, Azad University was seen as a support base for the reformers, and since then as more sympathetic to the...
Wednesday, October 06th, 2010
Iran’s foreign minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, has started a flurry of activity at the United Nations after indicating that his country is ready to resume negotiations on their nuclear programme. His only pre-condition is the recognition that Iran has a right to nuclear energy. Given the other powers have always accepted Iran can develop nuclear energy the talks, in theory, should resume. This is good news for...
Tuesday, July 20th, 2010
As the world erupted in protest over the imminent stoning of Sakineh Ashtiani, the authorities announced it would not go ahead with the ordeal. This shows there are serious reservations among the senior ranks in the judiciary and across the government regarding this form of punishment. Given the high standards of education in Iran and the sense all Iranians carry of being stewards of one of the oldest civilisations...
Thursday, July 08th, 2010
Iran’s universities compete with the best and none more so than the prestigious Islamic Azad University. Founded twenty five years ago for private paying students the university has enjoyed phenomenal growth due to the huge demand for higher education. The university has one and a half million students taught by over 35,000 academics in three hundred campuses in Iran, and five overseas. One of its campuses, the...
Tuesday, June 08th, 2010
Iran’s leaders are now actively joining the cause to break Israel’s blockade of Gaza and have offered military escorts. Christians should be praying that this difficult issue will not turn into a major confrontation. Israel imposed the blockade to deter missile attacks, but many have decided the measures are too harsh and are sending in aid. While it is certainly difficult to provide security for Israel without such...
Friday, May 28th, 2010
While severe sanctions against Iran over their nuclear programme are looming ever nearer at the UN, President Ahmadinejad’s government has presented its opponents with a deal to send their uranium to Turkey to ensure it will not be used for weapons. The US and her allies are not happy with the deal, so the sanctions are still on the table. With Iran’s economy already causing social problems (see Society Stressed)...
Thursday, May 20th, 2010
Most of the male diplomats drafting the sanctions against Iran to stop her enriching uranium have not seen friends choked to death by chemical weapons, nor have the female diplomats queued for hours to get a little bit of bread or find they cannot buy soap or paper. The Iranians have: they suffered during the Iran-Iraq war. So their response to the new UN sanctions is– so what? We’ve had worse. But sanctions will...
Tuesday, May 04th, 2010
This week President Ahmadinejad is in New York for the five yearly talks on nuclear disarmament. He will not be Hilary Clinton’s favourite foreign dignitary. As well as recently saying that Iran would ‘cut off Israel’s legs’ if Syria were attacked, which did not go down well in Washington, President Ahmadinejad seems to have no intention of meeting the West’s demands for his country to stop enriching uranium. So...
Monday, April 26th, 2010
April 18th was Iran’s army day. As well as inspecting thousands of marching troops on the ground, and watching phantom jets in the air, President Ahmadinejad in Tehran and the millions of TV viewers also saw an impressive display of the country’s missile technology, including the latest long range Ghadr (Worthy) weapon. Meanwhile in the Persian Gulf, Iran began five days of military exercises designed to show its...
Tuesday, April 20th, 2010
The N word dominates all news about Iran. We live in tense days. To deal with Iran’s nuclear programme the US has said all options are on the table, a clear reference to military action; Europe basically supports the US poistion; and Israel used her national Holocaust day to demand action against Iran. In response Iran has filed a complaint against the US threats with the UN and has ordered a new surface to air...
Wednesday, March 10th, 2010
Ever since President Khatami eased up media restrictions in 1997, the press has been a flashpoint between Reformers and Conservatives. Back in 1999 when the closure of the paper ‘Salam’ brought thousands of students onto the streets, it was even a battlefield. Ten years later, with eight papers being closed down since the disputed presidential election, and over sixty journalists in jail, more closures feel like a...
Thursday, February 25th, 2010
The name of that stretch of shallow water separating the south of Iran from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states has always been the Persian Gulf. This is not surprising since Iran has usually been the dominant regional power and indeed Bahrain and those Gulf states used to be a part of the Persian Empire. However in modern times some have started to use another name, anathema to all Iranians and friends of Iran – the...
Tuesday, February 16th, 2010
At home most Iranians support the nuclear programme and their right to defend themselves. This explains why President Ahmadinejad proudly announced during the 31st anniversary celebrations that Iran can now enrich uranium to 20%, and is going to mass produce ‘drone’ planes. This went down well among the thousands of supporters who massed in Tehran’s Azadi Square for the celebrations, many of them bussed in for free...
Tuesday, February 02nd, 2010
The execution a man and a teenager, Mohammad Reza Ali-Zamani (37) and Arash Rahmanipour (19) who were detained during the summer protests has sent a chilling warning to the government’s political opponents. The state prosecutor said they had been found guilty of being ‘enemies of God’ after confessing membership of a pro monarchist group intent on committing acts of violence. The executions have been widely...
Thursday, January 21st, 2010
There is a dangerous impasse. Iran has rejected the deal whereby they would export their uranium to a third country to allay fears it would be enriched for weapon use. The US has said this is an ‘inadequate response’ which means they will want to talk sanctions, a step supported by Europe, but not by Russia or China. And after sanctions, there is a real threat of war. That is why there is such an urgent need for...

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