Influential Institutions

Friday, January 08th, 2010
Intrepid revolutionary activist before 1979, co-writer of the Islamic Republic’s constitution, and till 1988 the Ayatollah Khomeini’s designated successor, Grand Ayatollah Montazeri who died on Sunday December 20, 2009 was certainly an influential figure. And yet this Grand Ayatollah, more qualified in the interpretation of Islamic law than the present Supreme Leader, opposed punishing those who converted from the...
Friday, December 18th, 2009
Iran’s subsidies for the needs of life such as gasoline, electricity, water, and basic foods are generous. In fact for several years many economists have said they are too generous, draining away most of the country’s budget and leaving little for crucial investment. And if severer sanctions come as a result of the nuclear crisis, people need to be prepared for leaner times. So President Ahmadinejad has pushed a...
Saturday, December 05th, 2009
On December 1st the Egyptian Dr ElBaradei stepped down as head of the the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). He is succeeded by Yukiya Amano, a quietly spoken Japanese diplomat. With the situation over Iran’s atomic ambitions becoming ever tenser, Mr Amano needs heavenly wisdom. For the first time in four years the IAEA passed a resolution against Iran on Friday (Nov 27th) for not immediately informing the...
Wednesday, November 25th, 2009
Early in October there was hope of a peaceful resolution to the nuclear crisis. Iran would allow in inspectors for the new site near Qom, and, crucially, agree that much of its uranium was shipped out to Russia and France for the final stages of enriching, so ensuring it could only be used to for electricity. Now Iran is not happy to send out the uranium, but is ready to exchange uranium for nuclear fuel on its own...
Friday, November 13th, 2009
Protesters against the re-election of President Ahmadinejad again braved the streets on November 4th – and again met beatings, tear gas, and about a hundred were arrested by the security forces. Forty of these were questioned and released, but the others are still in prison, along with an estimated two hundred others detained since the summer demonstrations. Their cases will now be dealt with by the Revolutionary...
Tuesday, November 03rd, 2009
The Revolutionary Guards, storm troopers of the Islamic Republic, are certainly an influential institution. They have at least 125,000 infantry, and they control the volunteer Basijis who number half a million, probably more. They also control vast swathes of the economy, including about $12 billion of the building and engineering sector. Originally founded to defend the revolution, they are no longer just guards:...
Friday, October 23rd, 2009
As thousands of Christians around the world have prayed, so negotiations over Iran’s nuclear programme seem to be edging towards a peaceful outcome. This week Tehran has indicated it is willing to send its uranium to Russia where it will only be enriched for producing electricity. This would assuage the West’s suspicions that Iran is trying to build a bomb – something Iran has consistently denied. The deal has not...
Tuesday, October 13th, 2009
This week a government supervisory body that monitors the press shut down three newspapers. Though no reasons were given for the closure of Farhang Ashdi Culture of Reconciliation and Arman Ideals, published in Tehran and Tahlil Rooz, The Day’s Analysis, published in Shiraz, all three were sympathetic to the Reformist cause. During the early years of President Khatami’s administration -1997-2005 - newspapers were...
Monday, October 05th, 2009
On Thursday (1/10/09) the important talks between Iran’s delegation led by Said Jalilee and the five permanent UN members plus Germany got off to a good start. The parties agreed to meet again this month, and this week-end the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mr Elbaradei is travelling to Tehran. Crucial to the talks progressing was Iran’s agreement to allow immediate inspection of the second...
Monday, September 28th, 2009
President Ahmadinejad knows how to enrage the West. He again expressed his doubt about the holocaust on Friday in Tehran, guaranteeing that the US, Canada, and Israel, boycotted his speech to the UN in New York on Wednesday. And though now even Russia is joining the call for severe sanctions if Iran does not open up its nuclear programme to proper inspection, Ahmadinejad shows no signs of backing down. He is cutting...
Friday, September 18th, 2009
The temperature is rising over Iran’s nuclear policy. Hilary Clinton has insisted the Iranians answer US concerns over their nuclear programme; Russia, thought to be more friendly, has now said it will back sanctions if the issue is not dealt with; Nicholas Sarkozy has said he is certain Tehran is determined to build a bomb; and Israel has signaled its readiness to attack Iran to stop that happening. Back in Tehran...
Thursday, September 10th, 2009
Desmond Tutu, the retired Archbishop of Cape Town and passionate campaigner against apartheid, once told the prime-minister of segregated South Africa, Mr Botha, that he prayed for him and his minsters every day. It is unlikely that Christians will sympathise with the views of many in the new conservative cabinet of Iran’s Islamic Republic, but nevertheless, Archbishop Tutu’s example is a good one to follow. The...
Wednesday, September 02nd, 2009
Massive demonstrations, allegations of rape and killings in the prisons, and now there is going to be  a stormy discussion over President Ahmadinejad's new cabinet, but all of this could easily become a sideshow as the international community concentrates its mind on Iran going 'nuclear'. France and Germany are calling for tough sanctions, and this week Germany hosts a six nations meeting on the issue; and, most...
Wednesday, August 26th, 2009
President Ahmadinejad has appointed his new cabinet, including three women, which once ratified by parliament will start work next month. The cabinet will be pretty hard-line especially as some of the key players have close links with the Revolutionary Guards. The new defence candidate, Ahmad Vahidi was the commander of the Revolutionary Qods force, responsible for foreign activities. Argentina has issued a warrant...
Monday, August 17th, 2009
On August 15th Mahmoud Shahroudi stepped down as head of Iran’s judiciary after ten years. He has been replaced by 49 year old Sadeq Larijani. already a jurist in the Guardian Council, who is known to have a close relationship with the intelligence services and the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps. He lectures both at Qom and Revolutionary Guard bases on Islamic ideology and is a keen opponent of intellectuals...
Wednesday, August 12th, 2009
There is a definite lack of enthusiasm for President Ahmadinejad’s second term: hundreds of thousands took to the streets to complain as they thought he cheated; two former presidents, Hashem Rafsanjani and Mohammad Khatami have publicly opposed him; and even his backer, the Supreme Leader, Ali Khamanei has ordered him to sack his vice President while at the inauguration last week he refused to give Ahmadinejad his...
Monday, July 27th, 2009
Friday prayers in Tehran University has traditionally been a time for the government to give its version of events, and usually there has just been one version. No longer. The Supreme Leader recently used the Friday prayers to endorse the disputed election result; two weeks ago Hashemi Rafsanjani, ex-President and a major political power-broker, flatly contradicted this adding that Ayatollah Khomeini had always...
Tuesday, July 14th, 2009
Last Thursday was a day when other innocents could have lost their lives as the opposition planned large protests to mark the tenth anniversay of the 1999 student uprising in Tehran. Thankfully nobody was killed, though many were hurt by the tear gas used by the police to disperse the crowd of about a thousand. Such a small turnout compared with the hundreds of thousands who flooded the streets after the disputed...
Tuesday, July 07th, 2009
The institutions of Iran have been shaken by the anger of the crowd and the fierce criticism from senior figures within the establishment such as Hashemi Rafsanjani, a former president, and Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri, who both oppose to the re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Most Iran watchers believe the divisions on the street and in government are too wide to be reconciled. Ordinary Iranians are furious at...

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