Ahmadinejad’s Power Grows as New Cold War Chills the Persian Gulf

By Arthur Hayes

The recent removal of Hashemi Rafsanjani as the Chairman of the Assembly of Experts in Iran occurred at a time when the region is swathed in political turmoil. His removal may be further evidence of the consolidation of the traditionalists and principlists within the Iranian Government. According to the Iranian constitution, the 86-member Assembly of Experts has the authority to select and remove the Supreme Leader if he is deemed not capable of carrying out his role in accordance with the constitution. Rafsanjani’s removal from the post of Assembly Chairman, and his replacement by Ayatollah Mahdavi-Kani, was authorised by the current Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei.

AP Photo/Hussein Malla

As Protests Mount, Is There a Soft Landing for Syria?

By Joshua Landis

The Baathist regime that has ruled Syria for 48 years is on the ropes. Even President Bashar al-Assad himself seems to have been shocked by the level of violence used by Syria's security forces to suppress demonstrations. 

AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis

Project Assimilation

By Sille Larsen Nielsen

The topic of integration, immigration and preservation of national culture once again sparked new debate in the Danish media earlier last week. Following a Cabinet reshuffle, current Minister of Development, the right-wing Soeren Pind, also became Minister of Integration. 

AP Photo/Bassem Tellawi

An Opportunity for Peacemaking

By Massimiliano Fiore

With the Middle East in turmoil and the Quartet (the US, UN, EU and Russia) eager to resume the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is under intense international pressure to prove he is serious about achieving peace. 


Bahrain: A New Front in the Battle between Sunni and Shia Muslims

By Tallha Abdulrazaq

The wave of popular unrest sweeping across the Middle East is paving the way for opportunistic power politicking. In Tunisia, decades of oppressive rule combined with corruption, lack of jobs, and increased food prices began this chain reaction of events that has led to the downfall of several of the Middle East’s old guard, including Tunisia’s Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali and Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak. Indeed, we can now see from the UN Security Council sanctioned no-fly zone in Libya that the old Arab regimes are beginning to crumble one by one. It is in this sort of environment that players interested in exploiting the chaos are attempting to expand their influence and power via the use of religious ideology.

AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia

Italy at 150: The Need for a New Momentum

By Lorenzo Piras 

Italy turned 150 on 17 March 2011. The celebrations, preceded by bitter controversy, were marked by important public figures and common citizens alike in a lukewarm manner. 

AP Photo/Peter Morrison

Changes in Contest

By Arthur Hayes

Pauline Neville-Jones, Security Minister in the British coalition government, gave a speech on 28 February 2011, in which she discussed the future of the Government’s counter-terrorist strategy, known as Contest. She affirmed that the main driver behind Contest remains the assurance of public safety while protecting human rights, and a commitment to “restore public confidence in counter-terrorism powers” by reducing the length of pre-charge detention and the abolition of  control orders, among other measures. In defining the threat facing the UK, she referred to the potency of international terrorism and the danger faced from those who are influenced by the Al Qaeda narrative to use violence. This is what the British National Security Council (B-NSC) now calls the Tier I threat.