Posted on 12 January 2013 by David Collier
Iran’s Kurds make up roughly 11-15% of the country’s 75 million population, situated largely in its north eastern provinces. They have had a long and eventful history in Iran as it is within its borders that the Kurds are believed to have originated. Yet it was not until the late nineteenth century that concepts of nationalism and separatism began to dominate their relationship with the Persian state.
The concept of Kurdish nationalism was slow to germinate in Iran compared to its popularity in neighboring countries. There was little talk of it during the collapse of the Iranian state in the late nineteenth century, nor during the ensuing Constitutional Revolution of the early twentieth century. Continue reading “The Kurdish situation in Iran” »
Posted on 07 September 2012 by Nicholas Hughes
EU – The Economic and Monetary Committee of the European Parliament has postponed a hearing which was set to ratify a nomination to the executive board of the European Central Bank, on the basis that no females had been offered to fill the position. The suggested candidature of Luxembourg’s Yves Mersch would mean that no women were present in the ECB’s 6-member executive board, 23-member governing council, or 29-member general council. The committee’s head, Sharon Bowles, claimed that EU finance ministers had not formally explained why no woman were considered. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-19520785
CANADA/IRAN – The government of Canada has suspended formal diplomatic relations with Iran, closing it’s embassies in the country and ordering the expulsion of remaining Iranian diplomats within the next five days. Canada’s foreign minister, John Baird, denounced the Iranian regime as the biggest current threat to global security – citing, as supposed evidence, its belligerent attitude towards Canadian ally Israel, its nuclear programme, and support of Syria’s al-Assad regime. Relations between Ottawa and Tehran have long been sour, with the former having closed its embassy in Iran already between 1980-1988. http://www.asharq-e.com/news.asp?section=1&id=30977
PAKISTAN – Whilst Rimshah Masih – the 14-year-old Pakistani accused of desecrating the Qur’an – was yesterday granted bail in a move which may slightly ease the country’s religious tensions, her lawyer has asserted that no attempts will be made to secure her release until her safety can be guaranteed. He claimed that an armoured vehicle and bodyguards would be needed to satisfy security concerns. Nor was it clear how her family could afford to pay the £6,000 surety bond demanded by the court. After her case elicited strong global criticism of Pakistan’s judicial system, Masih became the first person accused of blasphemy to secure bail. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/sep/07/freed-pakistan-christian-girl?newsfeed=true
Posted on 30 August 2012 by Nicholas Hughes
SOUTH AFRICA – Following the killing, by police, of 34 miners taking part in the Marikana dispute, the South African judiciary has charged 270 other workers with the murder of their colleagues. The controversial action – which former ANC youth leader Julius Malema termed “utter madness” – was made possible by the “common purpose” doctrine, which allows those taking part in violent action against the police to be held culpable for any injuries incurred. Infamously, the doctrine had traditionally been used during the period of white minority rule to prosecute those agitating for racial equality. Whilst a review of police conduct has been promised by the government, it is expected to take some months to complete. The hearing against the workers, meanwhile, is set to resume in seven days. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-19424484
SYRIA – President Morsi of Egypt’s characterisation on Thursday of the Syrian regime as “oppressive” and lacking in legitimacy has prompted outrage from the Syrian delegation to the summit of the Non-Aligned Movement in Tehran. The meeting of 120 nations, which the Iranian government has capitalised on in an attempt to bolster it’s own image, allowed the President to express the opinion that foreign intervention was required to end Syria’s chaos. On the same day that his remarks were made, rebels claimed to have shot down the second MiG of the war. http://www.albawaba.com/news/syria-protest-against-morsi-comments-assad-regime-440182
IRAN – It has been claimed that the IAEA’s upcoming quarterly report on Iran’s nuclear programme will show that the nation has increased its potential capacity to refine uranium by at least 30 per cent since May. It is believed that Iran has completed the further installation of several hundred interlinked centrifuges at secure sites devoted to the refinement of nuclear materials. http://220.127.116.11/~egyptian/index.php?action=news&id=27521&title=Iran%20increases%20underground%20nuclear%20capacity%20sharply
U.S. – A number of political commentators have targetted vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan following has speech at the Republican National Convention. Whilst much of his address was given over to an acerbic critique of the Obama administration’s domestic policies, many have pointed to factual inaccuracies contained in several of his claims. In particular, his assertions as to the effectiveness of auto industry bailouts and ‘Obamacare’ have been suggested to be disingenuous, if not outright hypocritical. Also speaking at the RNC, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice received an even more rapturous reception during an assault on the government’s “ambiguous” foreign policy position. http://www.thehindu.com/news/international/article3840873.ece
Posted on 24 August 2012 by Giorgos Dimitriadis
By Giorgos Dimitriadis
During the last months, a number of scenarios were created, regarding the statements of possible attack against Iran, made by Israeli officials. When these plans were initially revealed, it was considered by most as a threatening tactic aiming to some results. First of all, to send a warning to Iran in order to realize that its persistence to continue the classified nuclear program was provoking the international nuclear warfare stability. Second, to direct West’s attention to the Islamic Republic’s possible nuclear weapons plans, indirectly asking for urgent international action. On the other hand, not many were the ones that considered Israel’s threat as a realistic one. Continue reading “Israel vs Iran: Considering the risks” »
Posted on 18 August 2012 by Giorgos Dimitriadis
By Giorgos Dimitriadis
Alliances have always been an important fact that define the determination and the morale of an army. Warlords who know that their moves and decisions are backed by third nations perceive this support as an approval of their actions and have, at some scale, the security to go on. From the soldiers’ point of view, this support boosts their morale through the sense that there is a power that may provide assistance to them, and justify their struggle.
During the civil conflict that started in March 2011 in Syria, alliances on both sides have been an issue of discussion in diplomatic circles and international security councils. Nations and international organizations have been involved, siding either with President Bashar Al-Assad or the opposition, in direct or indirect ways. Continue reading “Iran boosting Assad’s morale” »
Posted on 16 August 2012 by Nicholas Hughes
UK/ECUADOR – The Ecuadorian foreign ministry has reacted angrily to suggestions that the UK government may “storm” its London embassy in an attempt to arrest Julian Assange – the Wikileaks founder who faces allegations of rape and an extradition to Sweden. Although the former has not ruled formally on Mr Assange’s request for asylum, its response to the British government suggests that it may yet be granted out of a desire not to be seen to back down. The British, for their part, claim that provisions in the Diplomatic and Consular Premises Act 1987 allow them to enter diplomatic premises in pursuit of those in violation of their bail. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-19259623
OIC – In spite of the protestations of Iran, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation has voted to suspend the membership of Syria, citing the continuing violence being inflicted by the government against insurgents. The leadership of Saudi Arabia, which sponsored the initiative and hosted the event, had made attempts at conciliation with Iran, only to be rebuffed on the Syrian issue. Likewise, Saudi Arabia’s attempt to encourage military support for rebel forces was met with a muted response. http://www.jpost.com/MiddleEast/Article.aspx?id=281394&R=R3
IRAN – According to an Iranian news agency, a number of “personalities” within the regime have issued a letter to Supreme Leader Khamenei calling upon him to dilute the powers of President Ahmadinejad. The President, who from 2013 will begin his final year in office, is a divisive figure even in Iran – criticised for his handling of the economy as much as for foreign policy. It has long been rumored that the Supreme Leader will seek to abolish the role of President, to be replaced with a premiership less likely to conflict with clerical authority. http://www.rferl.org/content/iran-reports-of-khamenei-being-lobbied-to-curb-outgoing-president/24678643.html
THAILAND – The Thai government is reported to be conducting informal peace talks with some of the Islamic insurgent groups operating in the South. With an estimated 9000 militants operating in the region bordering Malaysia, the country has for some time experienced a violence that has cost the lives of thousands of Buddhists and Muslims alike. http://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/RestOfAsia/Thailand-holds-peace-talks-with-Muslim-militants/Article1-914365.aspx
Posted on 03 August 2012 by Nicholas Hughes
[In a new feature, The Pryer will now regularly publish synopses and external links to the day's most important and interesting international relations news items]
NORTH KOREA – With around 119 dead and several thousand displaced following last month’s flooding (according to state-controlled media), the UN has received requests from the Kim regime to provide emergency supplies. The disaster appears to have exacerbated already-severe infrastructural and agricultural weaknesses. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-19107049
SYRIA – According the the Free Syrian Army’s own propaganda, rebels have taken control of over “50 per cent” of Aleppo – the country’s commercial hub and largest city. The action saw the first use of tanks by the opposition, against a military airport northwest of the city. In spite of the ostensive victory, independent observers have claimed that military forces are massing for a counter-assault on rebel positions in the city. http://www.aljazeera.com//news/middleeast/2012/08/20128353645664375.html
RUSSIA – Whether in a show of benevolence, or out of fear of popular disapproval, President Putin has asked the presiding court in the case of Pussy Riot to show leniency to the band’s members. Given the extent to which the Russian judiciary has frequently been complicit in Putin’s designs upon his opponents, it’s possible that the President’s ‘suggestion’ for the accused may be fulfilled. http://edition.cnn.com/2012/08/03/world/europe/russia-pussy-riot-trial/index.html?eref=edition
RUSSIA – Also in Russia, Putin has expressed his disappointment that participants in the NATO mission in Afghanistan have maintained their intention to withdraw combat forces from the country by 2014. It is, he claimed, in Russia’s national interest to have a stable border region on its southern flanks. Although relations between Moscow and the alliance have remained cool due to an ongoing dispute over a European missile defence system, Russia has permitted land and air transit of NATO supply vehicles bound for Afghanistan. http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/putin-regrets-natos-plan-on-pullout-in-afghanistan.aspx?pageID=238&nid=26924&NewsCatID=353
U.S. – In an attempt to achieve bipartisan action on Iran before the legislature’s August recess, Congress has announced a new wave of sanctions against the Islamic Republic. The measures will target individuals and companies linked to Iran’s energy and shipbuilding sectors – with the intention being to deprive the country of sources of hard-currency earnings. http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-1-124464-US-Congress-approves-new-sanctions-on-Iran
Posted on 26 May 2012 by Luke.Middup
On Wednesday morning, the BBC’s Nick Robinson revealed that Britain’s National Security Council (BNSC) was weighing up the circumstances under which it might be legal for Britain to offer any kind of support to Israel in a preemptive strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities. This seems a very odd issue for the UK Government to be concerned with at the present time for two reasons.
First, because the legality of any preemptive strike will turn on the exact context in which it is carried out, which cannot be known ahead of time. And, second, because any state that was sufficiently concerned about Iran’s nuclear programme to consider preemptive military action is simply not going to care about Britain’s reading of international law.
Despite its ominous overtones, this story is more about the attempt to add weight to the negotiating effort currently underway with Iran than it is about a serious consideration of the issues around a preemptive strike. Continue reading “Israel-Iran: Britain weighs up its options” »
Posted on 02 May 2012 by Bleddyn E. Bowen
The BBC recently published two articles (to coincide with a radio documentary) pushing the theme of the dangers inherent in the cyber realm. The first, by Katia Moskvitch, lists the five ‘biggest threats’ in an interview with the Chief Executive of the Russian anti-virus firm Kaspersky Lab, Eugene Kaspersky. The second article, by Michael Gallagher, looks at intentional government-sponsored cyber-meddling and how this may define the “blitzkrieg of the future”.
These two articles are classic cases of cyber alarmism (hyping the threat and constantly playing on worst-case scenarios), use the metaphorical meaning of the word ‘war’ to death, and miss the most important characteristic of activities in cyberspace: the difficulty of attribution.
I wish to clear up some of the points made and language used – public debate and government policies are increasingly confused, and conflate many different phenomena in the cyber realm under such terms as ‘cyberwar’. Continue reading “Cyberwar alarmism: don’t panic!” »
Posted on 15 April 2012 by Mitch Barltrop
By Jasmeet Singh
In 2008, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s government risked its very survival to get the Indo-US nuclear deal ratified by the Indian parliament. The coalition government had come under existential threat when a group of left-wing parties, supporting the coalition from outside, threatened to pull out of the Congress-led government if the PM did not heed to its demand of making a U-turn on the deal. In almost a show of missionary zeal, Singh let go of these parties and stuck a makeshift agreement with the Samajwadi Party to save the day and got the deal ratified. Singh, it was reported, had even threatened to quit if the deal was not allowed to meet its logical end. When asked later why he gambled so much to get the deal signed Singh replied, “when I became convinced the deal can be achieved and was in people’s interest, I supported it.”
Continue reading “Prying Eye: When Friends Become Pushy. India, Iran and America’s Zero Sum Game” »