Tehran

So says a headline in Wednesday’s New York Times. And the article by Mark Landler elaborates the cosmic kvetch brought on by the Obama administration’s courting of Damascus. I’ve written about this a few times myself. The courting of the Assad dictatorship was supposed to lure Syria away from its entanglement with the Ahmadinejad regime in Tehran. But the Senate Foreign Relations Committee refused to consider the confirmation of the president’s nominee, Robert S. Ford, as emissary to the Syrians. My friend, John Kerry, loyally subbed for the putative ambassador.

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Sorry for the bad pun. But it's 1:30 a.m. Monday morning. Turkish political culture is now in tatters. Or, rather, its sensible political culture is in tatters. But the sensible Kemalists were no longer so sensible. They were corrupt, they were very authoritarian, they exported what some of them explicitly called their "surplus population" to Europe. These were mostly Kurds with Turkish passports. Now, some of them are called "Germans." But the reality is that many of them are internal Kurdish exiles.

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From the Washington Institute for Near East Policy's Executive Director Robert Satloff comes this analysis:  The Gaza Flotilla Incident: Impact on Three Key Arab Actors By Robert Satloff June 22, 2010   The Gaza flotilla episode pitted Israel versus Turkey, with Arabs as bystanders and observers. Yet reverberations of the incident have had a keen impact across Arab capitals. Egypt: Policy Adrift The country most negatively affected has been Egypt.

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MEMRI is the most authoritative source on news from the western Maghreb to Pakistan, concentrating on the Middle East and western Asia. It publishes a daily blog on Iran. Here is today’s: Iran - June 18, 2010                The following is research published today from the MEMRI Iran Studies Project (www.memri.org/content/en/country.htm?country=iran), including reports from the Special Dispatch Series, the MEMRI TV Project, and the MEMRI Iran Blog. Special Dispatch No. 3043 – Iran/Lantos Archives on Anti-Semitism and Holocaust Denial/U.S.

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Noonan Of York

Political science is not a perfect field. But there are a few things the field has a pretty good grasp on, and one of them is that there is a strong relationship between economic conditions and presidential approval rating. Political scientist Brendan Nyhan posted a chart showing this the other day: I mention this because of Peggy Noonan's column today. Now, political pundits tend to be fairly unaware of political science, and prefer to explain events in terms of narrative and broad assertions about the character of politicians and the public that cannot survive empirical scrutiny.

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The New Map

There are figures in history who wish to leave behind what Malraux called “a scar on the map,” but it was Barack Obama’s desire to leave behind a new map, and one without scars. His promise of global transformation was outrageously genuine, underwritten by an invincible belief in his own unprecedentedness and in his own magic; and it now looks like a personal delusion enlarged by political excitement into a popular delusion.

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It is a story worthy of a great director. In the year since the contested reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a dramatic struggle has played out between Jafar Panahi and the Islamic Republic of Iran. In July the filmmaker was arrested at a funeral service for protester Neda Agha-Soltan. In August, after Panahi organized a demonstration in solidarity with opposition leader Mir Hossein Moussavi at the Montreal Film Festival, the government revoked his passport.

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One year ago this week in Iran, the desire for democracy gave birth to an indigenous political reform movement that is more promising and more consequential than anything the Middle East has seen in a generation. One year ago, the conventional wisdom held that the prospect for political evolution in Iran was dim and distant.

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It is a story worthy of a great director. In the year since the contested reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a dramatic struggle has played out between Jafar Panahi and the Islamic Republic of Iran. In July the filmmaker was arrested at a funeral service for protester Neda Agha-Soltan. In August, after Panahi organized a demonstration in solidarity with opposition leader Mir Hossein Moussavi at the Montreal Film Festival, the government revoked his passport.

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Bennett Ramberg is one of those (few) nuclear strategists who does not shy from telling the truth. He's been telling the truth, the difficult truth, about what will not stop Tehran from pursuing nukes...and what will. Here he confronts Iran's little partner, Syria, and tells us what Dr. Assad--welcomed as a rational scientist upon his ascent to power after the death of his tyrant father--plans. The nuclear order is unraveling, and it is the timidity of the Obama administration that is responsible.

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