Archive for June 16th, 2009

“EU criticism could signal tougher approach on Iran nuclear issue”

“EU criticism could signal tougher approach on Iran nuclear issue”
June 15 & 16, 2009
     While the US has been relatively cautious in its response to Iran’s disputed election and subsequent protests, France, Germany and Britain are leading the EU in criticizing Tehran for its repression of demonstrators and are calling for the election results to be reexamined. Daniel Rackowski is quoted as saying that because the US is expected to take charge of future multilateral talks with Iran, the EU now has more leeway to be critical of Tehran (Reuters). UK Foreign Minister David Miliband expressed concern over the effects of the election controversy on nuclear talks and urged Tehran to respond to calls for negotiations (Financial Times).
     Adam Cohen calls the response “stronger than usual” relative to the EU’s traditional role of mediating between Iran and the US. An unnamed EU official speculates that the EU may take a tougher approach against Iran on the nuclear issue, adding that while sanctions are not yet on the table, possible policy responses could be discussed if Tehran continues its crackdown on protestors (Wall Street Journal). Iranian officials have criticized the US and the EU for questioning Iran’s elections (ISNA, Fars News Agency).
Reuters | Financial Times | Wall Street Journal | ISNA | Fars News Agency

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“Sustained protests threaten Khamenei, Ahmadinejad”

“Sustained protests threaten Khamenei, Ahmadinejad”
June 14-16, 2009
     Jim Muir writes that unlike similar disturbances that were repressed in 1999 and 2003, protests continuing in Tehran are much larger and “bring together grassroots sentiment and the political [elite] in a way that the earlier protests did not.” Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, head of both the Expediency Council and the Assembly of Experts, has been grouped with the reformists, and Muir writes that he and other officials must decide whether to overthrow Iran’s current political system or “trim their sails and accept a reduced status” (BBC).
     On Tuesday, seven deaths were reported after the largest demonstrations since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Immediately after the election, analysts in the US and Israel had argued that the results signaled the emergence of a stronger and bolder Iran, writing that Supreme Leader Khamenei and President Ahmadinejad could claim an absolute mandate (Haaretz, New York Times). However, Neil MacFarquhar believes Khamenei has now been backed into a corner, writing that while the demonstrations threaten the current political system, violent oppression would cost the regime its legitimacy (New York Times (2)). Michael Theodoulou points out that the protests include not only students but also older people and the middle classes, adding that the demonstrators are echoing protest chants used in the 1979 revolution (The National).
BBC | Haaretz | New York Times | New York Times (2) | The National