President Hassan Rouhani, 68, won a landslide victory in the presidential election on May 19. More than 40 million Iranians voted on that day. That puts turnout above 70 percent.
The president is the second-most powerful figure within Iran’s political system that oversees a vast state bureaucracy employing more than 2 million people. He is charged with naming Cabinet members and other officials to key posts and plays a significant role in shaping both domestic and foreign policy. The president has important sway over domestic affairs and serves as the face of Iran to the world but is subordinate to the supreme leader chosen by a clerical panel. As supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei remains the ultimate arbiter in the political system, and approves any significant decisions and changes sought by the executive power.
Rouhani has been a stalwart of the Islamic Republic since the Shah regime was overthrown. He has held a number of top positions in the armed forces and was deputy war commander during the eight-year Iran-Iraq conflict, and was secretary of the Supreme National Security Council for 16 years.
The May 19 vote was largely a referendum on the president’s relatively moderate policies, which paved the way for the landmark 2015 nuclear deal that won Iran relief from some sanctions in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program. Rouhani will now have a bigger mandate to push through his reforms, to put an end to extremism, to build bridges with the outside world, and to get the economy back on track. He campaigned on the promise of a more open, prosperous and internationally integrated economic model, openly criticizing hardliners and Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard – the message supported Iran’s young and increasingly urban population.
The second term to-do list includes fixing the banking system crippled by bad property loans, expanding the private sector and formalizing human rights and freedom of information.
On May 24, when Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi opens the second round of her signature 21st Century Panglong peace conference, a high-stakes initiative to end decades of debilitating and divisive civil war, the outcomes and upshots will be pivotal to her democratically elected administration.
The meeting will aim to draw on the unifying symbolism of the original Panglong conference held by Suu Kyi’s national founder father, Aung San, who signed an agreement with ethnic Shan, Kachin and Chin representatives on February 12, 1947 at the small Shan state market town of Panglong. The agreement paved the way for the declaration of independence from British colonial rule the following year.
Despite the historic parallels and Suu Kyi’s strong political clout, few observers believe the upcoming meeting will meaningfully advance national reconciliation without a significant change in tack. Suu Kyi’s insistence
US President’s speech gives a green-light to authoritarian regimes in the Middle East to carry on torturing and oppressing minorities.
It was crude stuff. President Trump called on 55 Muslim leaders assembled in Riyadh to drive out terrorism from their countries. He identified Iran as a despotic state and came near to calling for regime change, though Iran held a presidential election generally regarded as fair only two days previously.
He denounced Hezbollah and lined up the US squarely on the side of the Sunni against the Shia in the sectarian proxy war that is tearing apart the Middle East.
The impact of US presidential visits and speeches abroad are generally over-rated and turn out to have far less influence than was claimed at the time.
Barack Obama’s speech in Cairo in 2009 about the conflicts in the region was more sophisticated than anything Mr Trump said in Riyadh, but it turned out to denote no new departures in US policy. The same may turn out to be true of Mr Trump’s address.
Families of the victims and survivors of the 9/11 terrorist attacks have asked the Department of Justice to open “an immediate national security investigation” into a “massive Saudi-funded foreign agent offensive” to “delude Congress” into “shield[ing] the Kingdom from any inquiry into the involvement of its agents in supporting the September 11th attacks.”
The complaint marks what is perhaps the most frontal public assault on Saudi influence peddling in Washington since 1981, when pro-Israel critics blasted Riyadh’s successful campaign to win congressional approval for its controversial purchase of AWACS surveillance planes.
The families’ complaint targets Saudi Arabia’s lavishly funded attempts to water down the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA). Passed into law last fall, against opposition from the Obama administration, the act gives Americans the right to sue foreign governments that provide “material support” to terrorist groups.
The complaint asserts that after the law passed, “the Kingdom went on a foreign agent spending spree, hiring . . . more than 100 foreign agents to work on its behalf to wage an assault on JASTA.
Mueller, 72, was appointed FBI Director by President George W. Bush in 2001 and served until 2013, when Comey took over. The DOJ has confirmed he will resign from his private law firm to avoid any conflicts of interest. In the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, as the U.S. was ramping up security, he joined then-Deputy Attorney General Comey in threatening to resign if the White House overruled a Justice Department opinion that domestic wiretapping without a warrant was unconstitutional.
Mueller is rumored to be bringing along Jim Quarles, who worked on Watergate, and Aaron Zebley, his (and Comey’s) former Chief of Staff at the FBI.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions previously recused himself from any involvement in the Russia investigation due to is role as a prominent campaign adviser and surrogate.
Mueller’s appointment aims to quell the wave of criticism that President Donald Trump and his administration have faced since Trump fired FBI Director James Comey last week in the middle of the FBI’s intensifying investigation into contacts between Trump campaign associates and Russian officials. That criticism swelled on Tuesday evening as excerpts of a memo Comey wrote in February surfaced, in which Comey writes Trump asked him to drop the FBI investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
Incumbent has won a landslide victory over ‘conservative’ Raisi, with a high turnout ensuring the country remains open to the world
In the perennial electoral battle between principlists (conservatives) and reformists, Iranian reformists have once again won handsomely.
Iran’s President Hasan Rouhani was reelected in a landslide on Saturday – with at least 56.88 percent of the votes according to the latest count at time of publishing and a projected vote share of 20 million votes (he got 18.6 million in 2013).
In the end, as predicted, it was all about turnout; over 70% in the main cities, with around 78% in Qom – the religious heart of Shi’ism. A low turnout would have benefitted hardliners and their reliable...
Julian Assange has been vindicated because the Swedish case against him was corrupt. The prosecutor, Marianne Ny, obstructed justice and should be prosecuted. Her obsession with Assange not only embarrassed her colleagues and the judiciary but exposed the Swedish state’s collusion with the United States in its crimes of war and “rendition”.
Had Assange not sought refuge in the Ecuadorean embassy in London, he would have been on his way to the kind of American torture pit Chelsea Manning had to endure.
This prospect was obscured by the grim farce played out in Sweden. “It’s a laughing stock,” said James Catlin, one of Assange’s Australian lawyers. “It is as if they make it up as they go along”.
It may have seemed that way, but there was always...
Is Washington Protecting the Terrorists? US Jets Bomb Pro-Government Syria Forces Advancing on Militant Base
US military aircraft have carried out an airstrike on a convoy of pro-Syrian government fighters advancing toward the positions of foreign-backed militants in the south of the Arab country.
AFP quoted unnamed US military officials as saying that the American jets struck a convoy of 27 tanks heading towards a garrison in al-Tanf near the Jordanian border on Thursday.
“A convoy going down the road didn’t respond to numerous ways for it to be warned off from getting too close to coalition forces in al-Tanf,” said one of the officials, adding that British and US commandoes have been training anti-Damascus militants at the base in Homs province.
“Then there was finally a strike against the lead portion of” the convoy, which was “significant” in size, the official stated.
There have been no immediate reports on possible...
US Attack on Syrian Forces, A Criminal Act of War: Asserting the “Safe Zones”, Perpetuating the War
In legal terms, it was both an act of war and criminal. The US military is currently occupying Syrian territory without invitation by the Syrian government and without any form of mandate from the United Nations.
In geostrategic terms, the United States is attempting to assert itself and its geopolitical strategy of establishing and subsequently expanding “safe zones” inside Syrian territory in a bid to topple the Syrian government, then divide and destroy the Syrian state.
It was one of the brighter acts in a darkening turmoil in the last parts of the Obama presidency, but the decision to commute Chelsea Manning’s sentence added a zest of enlightenment. Manning had already found herself on the slippery slope to doom, having made two attempts at suicide the previous year, and facing the torment of incarceration in a men’s military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
Such a commutation was the sensible antidote to an insensible reaction from a tribunal that found her guilty of nearly all of 20 charges, six of which were drawn from that bestial relic, the Espionage Act. The outcome of that trial was a prison sentence of 35 years, of which seven had already been served.
The failure to appreciate proportionality during proceedings for leaking material to WikiLeaks, not to mention a viable public interest defence, was a demonstrable marker in a new information war of increased ruthlessness.
Even now, that sense of proportionately is not always conveyed. The magic 700,000 number, or more, in terms of the number of US secret documents is relayed with casual media analysis, while the nature of what these items disclosed is deemed less significant.
A review by the Defence Intelligence Agency concluded that the risk emanating from the disclosures was moderate to low. Ditto the unofficial review conducted by the Associated Press, which found a conspicuous lack of understanding in how sensitive sources were to be evaluated.
Back in February, it was quietly reported that the CIA had discontinued its support program to rebels in Syria. A month later, a knowledgeable source from the region disclosed to me that the Trump administration and the Saudi defense minister, Prince Mohammed bin Salman, had agreed during their meetings in mid-March for the Gulf states to re-open supply channels to their rebel proxies.
This was done, the source said, to keep the Syrian government’s army and its allied Russian air force occupied so that the U.S. and its Kurdish allies could continue dividing northern Syria…
The new French president, Emmanuel Macron, who was thrust into the French presidential race as a pro-European Union counterweight to prevent the election of National Front leader Marine Le Pen, appears to have more than a casual relationship with the United States. While he worked within the Ministry of the Economy as both a special inspector and as minister, Macron oversaw the virtual theft of strategic French industries by American firms having strong links to the U.S. Intelligence Community.
The hacking of the computers of Macron’s «En Marche!» campaign movement by unknown parties yielded some interesting material. Defenders of Macron contend that the computer files released were either «fake» or extraneous information. However, one set of files dealing with the virtual theft of France’s top information technology giant by individuals connected to the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency is exactly the type of files one would expect the Macron campaign would keep.
In a statement on Thursday, Iran’s Foreign Ministry slammed the US Treasury Department’s move to announce new sanctions on Iran as an attempt to “downplay the positive outcomes” of the Washington government’s measure to continue to waive anti-Iran sanctions as required by the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), a nuclear agreement between Tehran and the Group 5+1 (Russia, China, the US, Britain, France and Germany).
In dual actions on Wednesday, the US administration extended wide sanctions relief for Iran under the JCPOA, but also imposed penalties on Iranian and Chinese figures for what it called supports for Tehran’s ballistic missile program.
How surprising was the accident, which forced thousands of workers to find safety? Not very, according to a report uncovered by the Seattle-based advocacy group Hanford Challenge.
In 1991, Westinghouse Hanford Company requested Los Alamos Technical Associates, Inc. (LATA) to evaluate the structural integrity of PUREX Storage Tunnel #1, where the collapse occurred. While the 1991 study of the tunnel indicated a low probability of any degradation of the pressure-treated timber in the tunnel, the report noted that the “only structural degradation that is occurring is due to the continued exposure of the timbers to the high gamma radiation field in the tunnel.”
While the report noted the effect of this exposure was minor at the time, the strength of the timber walls in a 1980 evaluation was only 65.4% of its original strength. The study recommended that another test be conducted in 2001 by the United States Forest Product Laboratory to check the integrity of the tunnel’s wood beams.
NATO continually pets its yapping dogs on the frontiers of Russia. A story on the Globe and Mailmade me chuckle for its author’s zombie-like adherence to the globalist propaganda script over the recent NATO Parliamentary Assembly on Svalbard. Here’s the most pitiful bit of poodle power political policy propaganda you’ll ever read about. By the time you’re done you’ll wonder, “Where have the big dogs of détente gone to?”
“How Norway stood up to Putin – and what Canada can learn”, is a transparent bit of nonsense, when all is said and done. However, authorMichael Byers does reveal a thing or two about NATO and America’s control of satraps like Norway. The Canada Research Chair of Global Politics and International Law at the University of British Columbia applauds the Norwegians for poking out their chests at Russia, as if he were ordered to pass doggie treats to the yapping arctic elkhounds playing guard dogs of Washington. “Stood up to Putin”, what a laugh.
According to the Constitution, indirect elections would be held, but Parliamentarians are demanding “Direct Elections now!”
The denounce made by Joesley Batista and his brother Wesley—owners of the JBS meat processing company—, which was made public last Wednesday (17) on newspaper O Globo, opened up a very real possibility of impeachment or even resignation for putschist President Michel Temer.
In one of the recordings that was released, Temer herd from Joesley that the businessman was paying former deputy Eduardo Cunha and political operator Lúcio Funaro an... Read More
Continuing the probe into the Wanna Decryptor outbreak, during which that worm paralyzed nearly a quarter million computers worldwide, this second article retraces the hijacking of the EternalBlue exploit (which is vulnerable to WannCry) from the NSA’s vault of cyber-weapons by the team called the Shadow Breakers, who issued repeated warnings about the flaw in older Microsoft systems
In a recent post, the Shadow Breakers explain that they had issued monthly warnings about the EternalBlue problem starting in February, giving Microsoft sufficient time to create a temporary fix, or... Read More