Ali Ansari

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Though almost a week has passed since President Obama unveiled the framework understanding with Iran, the casual observer may be confused as to its value. And little wonder. The president has said it could be a game-changer – a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see whether or not we can at least take the nuclear issue off the table”. But the stated parameters of this framework are already fraying at the edges. So where do we stand?

On the face of it, this is a good deal, a very good deal indeed. Supporters on either side have understandably spared no time in heralding it as a “historic breakthrough” achieved against the backdrop of negotiations that appeared agonisingly close to failure.…  Seguir leyendo »

Mahmoud Ahmad­inejad claimed a victory that many find difficult to believe: 64% of the vote on a turnout of 84% in Iran's election. The provincial breakdown of the results – obtained by the University of St Andrews and Chatham House from Iran's ministry of interior – show some statistics that are even more surprising.

The surprises include voter turnouts of up to 100%, and the apparent defection of huge numbers of former reformist voters who suddenly changed their minds and voted conservative. Turnout may have been high across the board, but the just over 100% recorded in the conservative strongholds of Yazd and Mazandaran is particularly striking.…  Seguir leyendo »

Reports over the ­weekend that as many as 110 Iranian ­reformist politicians had been ­arrested late at night have given further ­credence to suggestions that more is afoot than simple ­election manipulation, and that the "landslide" election ­victory of the country's incumbent president, Mahmoud ­Ahmadinejad, is a means to a broader end.

Indeed, a question from a hardline journalist at yesterday's press conference provided further evidence of a deeper agenda being pursued by Ahmadinejad with the apparent full support of the supreme leader, Ali Khamenei. The question addressed the letter sent last week by the hitherto powerful chairman of the Expediency Council, the former president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, in which he had protested against the lies and slander hurled against him and his ­family by Ahmadinejad.…  Seguir leyendo »

The honeymoon is over. Iran's controversial president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has finally come unstuck. His popularity with the Iranian electorate - the subject of much incredulous analysis in 2005 - seems to be falling back at last, and the country's latest exercise in populism seems to be reaping the rewards of unfulfilled promises bestowed with little attention to economic realities.Those realities have sharpened with the onset of UN sanctions. Ahmadinejad's casual dismissal of the sanctions has apparently earned him an unprecedented rebuke from the supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei - reflecting growing concerns among the political elite, including many conservatives, who are increasingly anxious at Iran's worsening international situation.…  Seguir leyendo »