As the relief effort continues following in the devastating Bam earthquake, the Iranian press and public are asking tough questions about the government's lack of a comprehensive disaster response plan. Straddling several major seismic fault lines and with a history of deadly quakes, Iranians are justifiably asking: why weren't we better prepared?
The political gridlock caused by infighting between conservative and reformist forces in Iran has fostered what analysts in Tehran characterize as a "crisis of legitimacy." Growing popular apathy towards the political process is preparing the ground for a possible authoritarian alternative, some observers go on to warn.
Iran's leading pro-democracy student group held a press conference July 9 to announce the cancellation of planned protests to mark the fourth anniversary of a student uprising. Leaders of the group, known as Daftar-e-Tahkim-e-Vahdat (The Office to Foster Unity), expressed concern that in Iran's "hostile environment," organizers could not guarantee the protesters' safety.
Reformist forces in Iran are making what some observers have described as a last-ditch effort to thwart the country's increasingly defiant conservative minority, which controls the key levers of power in the Islamic republic.
Armenia's recent parliamentary vote and constitutional referendum offers "both great disappointment and great hope" for the country's democratic development, according to organizers of an election monitoring mission. The organizers specifically noted an improvement in media coverage of the campaign. At the same time, they lambasted the "faking" of the constitutional referendum.
Even though US President George W. Bush included Iran in the "axis of evil," Iranian and US diplomats have held periodic exchanges since the September 11 terrorism tragedy. The meetings reflect the reality that the United States needs Iran's assistance as the Bush administration wages its war on terrorism.
In Abadan, a southwestern Iranian city known for its gentle breezes from the Arvand River, a group of Iranians gather each night to watch the fighting just across the border in Iraq. Meanwhile, in the Iranian capital of Tehran, policy-makers are also watching the war closely with decidedly mixed feelings.
Iran is emerging as a key player in discussions on a post-Taliban Afghanistan. Over the past week, four high-level European diplomats have traveled to Tehran seeking Iranian support for a plan that would establish an interim Afghan government with the backing of the United Nations.
Towering over a Tehran highway, there stands a billboard commemorating the death of an early 20th century Muslim cleric, Sheikh Fazlollah Nouri. The billboard, like many of the pictures of gray-bearded clerics or revolutionary soldiers, is meant to sell a political viewpoint.