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28 October 2019  

Tunisia's sustainable democratisation: Between new and anti-politics in the 2019…

on Tunisia

By Larbi Sadiki On 13 October, the election of retired constitutional law professor, Kais Saied, as Tunisia’s new president triggered a wide array of reactions and energised hopes...

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04 October 2019  

The Africa-Palestine Conference: Why South Africa must lead the way

on Palestine

By Ramzy Baroud On 16 September, I visited South Africa, a country where many Palestinians have always felt welcomed, if not overwhelmed by the degree of genuine and meaningful so...

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14 September 2019  

Tunisia’s presidential elections: A fragmented field

on Tunisia

  By Larbi Sadiki The Tunisian presidential race is heating up. With several front-runners and twenty-six candidates, the upcoming early elections on 15 September reflects a...

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06 September 2019  

The war ahead: Netanyahu's election gamble will be costly for…

on Israel

By Ramzy Baroud On 1 September, the Lebanese group Hizbullah, struck an Israeli military base near the border town of Avivim. The Lebanese attack came as an inevita...

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04 September 2019  

Budding frenemies: The complicated US-Turkish relationship

on Turkey

When Donald Trump was elected the forty-fifth president of the USA in November 2016, the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, was among the first world leaders to congratulate ...

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14 August 2019  

Syria's security reshuffle highlights Russia's consolidation of power

on Syria

July began with a major shake-up in the Syrian military and intelligence apparatus. In an attempt to consolidate power after regaining territorial control over most of the country...

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28 October 2019  

Tunisia's sustainable democratisation: Between new and anti-politics in the 2019…

on Tunisia

By Larbi Sadiki On 13 October, the election of retired constitutional law professor, Kais Saied, as Tunisia’s new president triggered a wide array of reactions and energised hopes...

Read more

04 October 2019  

The Africa-Palestine Conference: Why South Africa must lead the way

on Palestine

By Ramzy Baroud On 16 September, I visited South Africa, a country where many Palestinians have always felt welcomed, if not overwhelmed by the degree of genuine and meaningful so...

Read more

14 September 2019  

Tunisia’s presidential elections: A fragmented field

on Tunisia

  By Larbi Sadiki The Tunisian presidential race is heating up. With several front-runners and twenty-six candidates, the upcoming early elections on 15 September reflects a...

Read more

06 September 2019  

The war ahead: Netanyahu's election gamble will be costly for…

on Israel

By Ramzy Baroud On 1 September, the Lebanese group Hizbullah, struck an Israeli military base near the border town of Avivim. The Lebanese attack came as an inevita...

Read more

04 September 2019  

Budding frenemies: The complicated US-Turkish relationship

on Turkey

When Donald Trump was elected the forty-fifth president of the USA in November 2016, the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, was among the first world leaders to congratulate ...

Read more

14 August 2019  

Syria's security reshuffle highlights Russia's consolidation of power

on Syria

July began with a major shake-up in the Syrian military and intelligence apparatus. In an attempt to consolidate power after regaining territorial control over most of the country...

Read more
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04 October 2019  

The Africa-Palestine Conference: Why South Africa must lead the way

on Palestine

By Ramzy Baroud On 16 September, I visited South Africa, a country where many Palestinians have always felt welcomed, if not overwhelmed by the degree of genuine and meaningful so...

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06 September 2019  

The war ahead: Netanyahu's election gamble will be costly for…

on Israel

By Ramzy Baroud On 1 September, the Lebanese group Hizbullah, struck an Israeli military base near the border town of Avivim. The Lebanese attack came as an inevita...

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04 September 2019  

Budding frenemies: The complicated US-Turkish relationship

on Turkey

When Donald Trump was elected the forty-fifth president of the USA in November 2016, the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, was among the first world leaders to congratulate ...

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14 August 2019  

Syria's security reshuffle highlights Russia's consolidation of power

on Syria

July began with a major shake-up in the Syrian military and intelligence apparatus. In an attempt to consolidate power after regaining territorial control over most of the country...

Read more

23 June 2019  

Strategic implications of the 'deal of the century' and the…

on Palestine-Israel

Aisling Byrne interviews Abdel Bari Atwan Donald Trump’s ‘Deal of the Century’ (DoC) - whether in its actual or conceptual form - is ushering in a new strategic era, providing cov...

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14 June 2019  

Postponed: Unveiling of Trump's 'deal of the century' frozen as…

on Palestine-Israel

Touted by its architects as the ‘deal of the century’, US president Donald Trump’s plan for Palestine and Israel has had to again be kept hidden as Israel heads back to elections a...

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23 October 2018  

Jamal Khashoggi, small spark for a large fire

on Saudi Arabia

By Hassan Aourid Until last Saturday, I was hopeful that the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at his country’s consulate in Istanbul was not more than a case of c...

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19 October 2018  

Khashoggi murder: Killing dissent even from within

on Saudi Arabia

The gruesome murder of exiled Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul was designed to be a clear and firm message for Saudi dissidents, and reflected th...

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08 July 2018  

As Hudaida falls to Saudi-Emirati coalition, peace for Yemen seems…

on Yemen

The recent and ongoing Saudi-Emirati offensive on the Yemeni port city of Hudaida will render UN special envoy Martin Griffiths’s ‘new’ solution to the five-year-long Yemeni crisis...

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18 May 2018  

Beyond Tradition and Modernity: Dilemmas of Transformation in Saudi Arabia

on Saudi Arabia

By Madawi Al-Rasheed Introduction The dominant narrative through which many observers understand Saudi Arabia depicts a progressive and modernist leadership struggling to gra...

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27 April 2018  

Chaotic Yemen: The deconstruction of a failed state and regional…

on Yemen

by Helen Lackner Yemen remains in the grip of its most severe crisis ever: the civil war between forces loyal to the internationally-recognised government of President Abd Rabbuh ...

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12 December 2017  

How the Saudis Escalated Yemen Struggle Beyond All Control

on Yemen

By Justin Podur Yemen is a small, poor country in a region empires have plundered for centuries. This civil war is a local struggle that has been escalated out of control by the a...

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28 October 2019  

Tunisia's sustainable democratisation: Between new and anti-politics in the 2019…

on Tunisia

By Larbi Sadiki On 13 October, the election of retired constitutional law professor, Kais Saied, as Tunisia’s new president triggered a wide array of reactions and energised hopes...

Read more

14 September 2019  

Tunisia’s presidential elections: A fragmented field

on Tunisia

  By Larbi Sadiki The Tunisian presidential race is heating up. With several front-runners and twenty-six candidates, the upcoming early elections on 15 September reflects a...

Read more

30 July 2019  

Geopolitics of Sudan Revolution - Presentation to AMEC

on Sudan

Sudan lies in the hotbed of the Horn of Africa, a region that has been plagued by decades of instability and ruin as a result of intense conflicts perpetuated by post-colonial vest...

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30 July 2019  

The December 2018 revolution and Sudanese professionals in the diaspora

on Sudan

WE LEFT SUDAN In drovesIn the late 80’s and 90’sIndeed, my generation of educated Sudanese professionals are scattered around the globe(Out of 200 medical graduates from Khartoum ...

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29 July 2019  

Geopolitics of Sudan Revolution - Presentation to AMEC

on Sudan

By Zeenat Adam 17 July 2019 Sudan lies in the hotbed of the Horn of Africa, a region that has been plagued by decades of instability and ruin as a result of intense conflicts per...

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17 April 2019  

Bashir falls but the security apparatus maintains control

on Sudan

Since the military ouster of Sudan’s President Omar Al-Bashir, early on Thursday, 11 April, after three months of protests, different military factions have been jos...

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12 October 2018  

Ethiopia, Eritrea: An unlikely peace deal in a fractious region

on Ethiopia

The recent peace deal between Ethiopia and Eritrea, signed 16 September 2018, is set to have lasting consequences for both countries and for the Horn of Africa ...

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06 April 2017  

Ensuring Somalia remains in conflict: Trump’s expanded ‘war on terror’

on Somalia

By Afro-Middle East Centre The 29 March decision by the administration of US president Donald Trump declaring Somalia an ‘area of active hostility’ will likely ensure an escalatio...

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10 October 2016  

South Sudan: Beyond the logjam of UNSC Resolution 2304

on South Sudan

By Majak D’Agoôt and Remember Miamingi No country is entirely self-contained or lacking in interdependencies. These interlocking interests form the critical part of any country’s ...

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28 April 2015  

Nigeria’s elections and future challenges

on Sub-Saharan Africa

By Afro-Middle East Centre The election of General Muhammadu Buhari as Nigeria’s president will see a renewed focus by the government on domestic challenges posed by endemic...

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26 September 2013  

Kenyan hostage crisis: The desperation of al-Shabab

on Sub-Saharan Africa

By Afro-Middle East Centre The hostage drama at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi over the past week has raised a number of questions about the Somali organisation al-Shabab. After the...

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23 January 2013  

French military intervention will add to Mali’s problems

on Sub-Saharan Africa

By Afro-Middle east Centre   The north of Africa was plunged into yet another international conflict with France’s invasion of Mali on Friday, 11 January. Without im...

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23 April 2019  

India in Kashmir: Risking peace as an antidote to war

on South Asia

By Ranjan Solomon On 14 February 2019, a convoy of vehicles carrying security personnel on the Jammu Srinagar National Highway was attacked by a vehicle-borne suicide bomber ...

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28 August 2015  

Does Pakistan’s refusal to join Saudi Arabia in Yemen indicate…

on Pakistan

By Afro-Middle East Centre Allegedly, the current Saudi-led onslaught on Yemen has already caused destruction that resembles the destruction wrought in Syria over the la...

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31 March 2012  

The feasibility of a continued United States presence in Afghanistan

on South Asia

By Alex Strick van Linschoten and Felix Kuehn Recent events in Afghanistan have fuelled speculation over the ability of international forces to continue their presence in the coun...

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28 February 2012  

Dangerous uncertainty in Pakistan

on South Asia

By Junaid S. Ahmed With relations between Pakistan's civilian government and military incredibly tense, speculation is rife in the Pakistani and international media of a looming m...

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30 May 2011  

Pakistan-USA relations in the post-Usama era

on South Asia

By Junaid S. Ahmad The assassination of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan by US Special Forces was supposed to have been a landmark triumph that would bring peace and stability to the r...

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13 December 2010  

Kashmir and Obama's Indian appeasement

on South Asia

By Mohammad Abdullah Gul Obama's recent jive with school children in Delhi symbolises the nature of the new relationship that is emerging between India and the United States of Am...

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26 April 2017  

IS reorganising to face new challenges

on Political Islam

Reports in January 2017 that the leader of the Islamic State group (IS), Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, had been killed, reports that he had been captured by Russian troops in Syria, and th...

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07 March 2017  

IS in Africa: Containment and fragmentation

on Political Islam

By Afro-Middle East Centre With the Islamic State group (IS) losing territory in Syria and Iraq, many believe that the group will use the territory it controls in Africa as a fall...

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14 May 2016  

The Paradox of Survival and Expansion: How the Islamic State…

on Political Islam

Omar Ashour This paper examines the reasons for the military steadfastness of the Islamic State group (IS) in the face of local and international forces that are larger in numbers...

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19 December 2015  

ISIS in Africa: Reality far different from IS propaganda

on Political Islam

By Afro-Middle East Centre The revelation that the alleged mastermind of the 13 November Paris attacks claimed by the Islamic State group (IS) was of Moroccan descent, the tur...

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20 July 2015  

Remaining and expanding: Measuring the Islamic State group’s success in…

on Political Islam

By Afro-Middle East Centre Since its declaration of a ‘caliphate’ on 29 June 2014, the Islamic State group (IS), the brutal successor to al-Qa'ida, has gone from stren...

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31 January 2012  

The rise of 'Ikhwanophobia': Fear of the Muslim Brotherhood

on Political Islam

By Dr. Mohsen Saleh Introduction Fear of the Muslim Brotherhood (Ikhwanal-Muslimoon), the leading Islamist movement, has gained unprecedented international prominence since the b...

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18 February 2018  

Africa and the problem of foreign military bases

on 'War on terror'

At the establishment of the African Union (AU) in May 2001, discourses about human security and counter terrorism were ubiquitous both globally and on the continent. In Africa, the...

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21 November 2015  

The Paris attacks: Aftermath and the Islamic State group’s future

on 'War on terror'

By Afro-Middle East Centre The terror unleashed on Paris streets on 13 November reverberated throughout the world. From the G20 summit in Antalya to social media debates about how...

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28 May 2010  

Al-Qaeda in the New National Security Strategy

on 'War on terror'

By Mark Lynch The Obama administration's new National Security Strategy has been released today. It goes a long way towards providing a coherent framework for American foreign pol...

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16 February 2010  

Pakistan’s attitude towards Obama’s plan to negotiate with the Taliban

on 'War on terror'

By Dr. Ijaz Shafi Gilani U.S. President Barack Obama's plan to negotiate with the Taliban in Afghanistan has generally been welcomed in Pakistan. It is being seen as a vindication...

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07 February 2010  

Mission Absolute: American hegemony in space

on 'War on terror'

By Sourav Roy Come April 2010, officials from the sleepy Polish municipality of Morag will be gearing up for perhaps their most critical assignment in the new decade. Their job wi...

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Ashura events in Iran: Observations and predictions

By AlJazeera Centre for Studies

Recently, the protest movement in Iran has gained fresh momentum, seizing two opportunities: the hightened tension that accompanied the funeral of the Shi'a cleric Hussain Muntadhiri, who is widely considered to be the spiritual father of the call to reform wilayat al-faqeeh or "rule of the clergy" principle from an absolute to a constitutional limited rule; and Ashura, a shi'a religious festival which masses can celebrate in public congregations without the need for a permit -something which the government has consistently refused to grant the opposition. The protests are another episode in a spiral movement that has continued since President Ahmadi- Nejad's re-election.

Observations about the Events

In light of the recent events, it is possible to make the following observations,

1- The events have demonstrated that the opposition is capable of intiating confrontation with the government. The recent protests have been pre-panned by the reformists, rather than a mere spontaneous or instantaneous reaction.

2- The Middle class is still the principal carrier of the protest movement –even though the government still implicates hostile elements from the Iranian opposition abroad in the protests.

3- Initially, the Ashura events had appeared to be no different from past protests. But their slogans soon escalated to attacking the "rule of the clergy" principle and the Supreme Leader himself, no longer being confined to targetting President Ahmadi-Nejad. Slogans in support of Mir Hussain Mosavi, leader of the reformist camp have also been reported.

4- Protestors have clearly demanded reforming the wilayat al-faqeeh principle. In contrast, past protests had centred on the electoral dimension more than any other, and on Ahmadi-Nejad rather than the Supreme Leader.

5- The death toll was higher than in previous protests, even if the authorities have blamed "hidden" elements for the destruction and killings. It is also worth noting that unlike the last protests, the military establishment and Revolutionary Guards have not issued any warnings to the protesters this time. The government accuses the protest movement of thirsting for the loss of life in its ranks, particularly as some of its leaders had declared that there can be "No reform without blood".

6- Recent protests have demonstrated Mir-Hussain Mosavi's ability to mobilise the street through the statements he issues (which had numbered 15 during the confrontation). These releases have determined the escalation's direction, occasion, and time, albeit implicitly, rather than exlicitly. His last statement had warned the authorities of the escalation of protests during the Ashura days, something which did materialise on the ground.

 

Significance and Repercussions

1- Recent events indicate that Mirr-Hussain Mosavi is the most prominent, indeed, the indisputed opposition leader, even if figures of considerable weight and influence stand along his side. This raises the likelihood of Mosavi's arrest or trial, and possibly worse. In other words, he will constitute the chief target for the protest movement's opponents, either within or outside the regime.

2- Recent events have demonstrated that the Iranian regime still lacks fresh options and new methods for dealing with protestors. This may be interpreted as the result of confusion on the the authorities' part as it is divided over the best means of dealing with the crisis. This would seem to apply to the military institution which has limited its political involvement with the protestors and confined itself to performing its security role, that is, to responding to the protests silently.

3- With Ayatollah Montazeri's death, demands for changing "the nature of the rule of the clergy" from an absolute to a constitutional rule have risen to the forefront of the opposition's demands. From the grave, Montazeri seems to have turned into an inspiring symbol for aspirants for change of this nature.

4- Certain sections of the oppsoition have claimed that crackdown on the recent protests had been overseen by the Supreme Leader himself. Others have, however, claimed that Khamenei is moving to resolve the issue in his own way, particularly as he had expelt Rafsanjani from the circle of his advisers on the crisis. This seems to indicate that negotiation is not one of his options at present.

 

Future of the Crisis and possible vehicles of resolution

Current indicators seem to point to an escalation of events, although the likelihood of the two sides rethinking their strategies remains present. Still, with recent developments, the crisis seems to have reached an advanced stage that might preclude any likelihood of a lull or resolution to the crisis.

If the situation continues in its current open state, circles close to the conservatives and to the authorities insist that the government would not resort to violence, relying instead on the street, clergy, and fatwas to confront protestors, since –as they claim- the majority is on their side. Preparations for such a response are said to be under way. On the other hand, both sides recognise that resolution of the crisis is one of the options on the table. A number of prominent figures in the establishment, like Hashemi Rafsanjani, are said to be capable of acting as mediators to facillitate such a reconciliation (in spite of the slurr directed at him by some conservatives), Ali Larijani, leader of the Iranian Parliament, or Mehdawi Qunni, leader of the conservative Munadhileen Association.

It is worth noting that Rafsanjani has maintained a distance from the political scene claiming that he is generally discontented with the entire situation. Those close to him maintain that Rafsanjani senses that the two sides would eventually turn to him to end the dispute. He is reported to have said, " I will not interfere in the crisis since I am part of two important institutions in the regime (the Leadership Experts' Council, and the Identitification of the Regime's Interest Council. I've already said all I have in my last Friday sermon after the crisis but my words were not heeded." Generally speaking, conservatives would not reject Rafsanjani's mediation should his close links to the Supreme Leader be restored or should they be driven to that by necessity.

Among the other possible candidates for mediation to resolve the crisis is former President Mohammad Khatemi, who is said to be currently trying to calm the situation and bridge the distance between the different standpoints. However, some dispute his loyalty to the 'rule of the clergy' principle, which may serve to weaken his position. The possibility of his assuming a mediatory role largely depends on his performance in the coming weeks and months, that is, after he defines his relation to the regime and its general identity. Khatemi is, in other words, a potential candidate for mediation at a future stage, not at present.

As to the means of resolution, the full picture is yet to emerge. Still, recent events have no doubt enabled protestors to build momentum for some of their demands, which may now be described as central. Should the authorities agree to begin negotiations with the protestors, these demands would centre on three important issues : honest free elections, a reduced role for the military in politics, and limiting the Supreme Leader to the jurisdictions stipulated in the constitution.

1- Honest Elections : The opposition calls for devising a mechanism or an independent committee to oversee future elections, insisting that these should be free from interference (or pressures) from the authorities. In response, the authorities claim that there are institutions in existence performing this function and that such demands must follow due process, that is, pass through existing constitutional institutions, which are available to all.

2- Limiting the role of the military -notably the Revolutionary Guard- and reducing the scale of their interventions in politics. Such demands, the opposition stresses, correspond with Imam Khomeini's directives. Champions of the Revolutionary Guards' role in Iranian political life retort that what the Guards had been warned against was granting one side advantage over the other, or disturbing the country's political equilibrium. There was never any question of their expulsion from politics altogether, in view of the regime's nature. In other words, a demand of this kind is incompatible with a state that operates in accordance with the "rule of the clergy" principle, but with ordinary systems, where the military plays no political role. The Revolutionary Guards' function, as stipulated in the Islamic Republic's legislations, is the protection of the "rule of the clergy" system from "inside and outside conspirators", a duty it could not perform if it were kept outside the political sphere altogether.

3- The third demand is limiting the authority and jurisdictions of the Wali al-faqueeh (Supreme Leader). This is dismissed on the ground that the Council of Leadership Experts is responsible for overseeing the Leader's performance to ensure its compliance with his jurisidictions and that its activation is possible. Anything beyond that is illegitimate.

Finally, we can say that as events unfold, the opposition appears to be acquiring new ideological features. The recent protests have explicitly borne the demand for reforming the "rule of the clergy" principle, thursting the regime's identity into the heart of the political conflict. Some argue that developments within Iran are the outcome of foreign pressures. As proof of that, these point to the reformist camp's unwillingness to disclose its intentions regarding the existing regime's future. The reformists, these maintain, are targetting the "rule of the clerg" -driven by loyalty for the West or fear from it- in order to keep Iran as an Islamic republic in appearnce solely, while in reality being an exclusively nationalistic state. In other words, the very identity of the republic is at stake.

 

** This article is published in terms of a partnership agreement between the Afro-Middle East Centre (AMEC) and the Doha-based Al-Jazeera Centre for Studies

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20 October 2019  

Syria accuses Turkey of violating a ceasefire deal:…

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09 October 2019  

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