The CSS Blog Network

Insight into the Inner Workings of Iranian Politics

Mousavi supporters on the streets of Tehran, Iran, photo: Shahram Sharif/flickr

Mousavi supporters on the streets of Tehran, Iran, photo: Shahram Sharif/flickr

The people of Iran will vote for a new president on Friday, 12 June.

The race is tight. Two of the candidates have good chances of winning. Former Prime Minister Mousavi relies on a broad base of supporters, but polls show that the incumbent Ahmadinejad is the leader in Iran’s presidential elections.

According to this insightful article by ISN correspondent Kamal Nazer Yasin, the developments in Iran in the next few days will be critical. Today, the police have forbidden further displays of political loyalty in the streets. With several million people having experienced the joys of freedom in the streets of Tehran and other cities, it will be interesting to see how the government can contain popular anger once Ahmadinejad is announced the winner.

Kamal Nazer Yasin is the pseudonym of the Iran correspondent for ISN Security Watch. With deep knowledge of the Iranian political environment and 50 Security Watch articles under his name, Yasin has provided the ISN with extensive coverage of Iranian politics and its regional implications.

Turkey: Freedom of speech 2.0

Turkish internet café - for men and women, photo: Marko Anastasov/flickr

Turkish internet café - for men and women, photo: Marko Anastasov/flickr

There are 2.6 million registered personal computers linked to the internet in Turkey today. For a country with 70 million inhabitants this does not appear to be an impressive figure. But in fact, internet use is more widely spread than it seems. Most of Turkey’s users access computers in their working places, internet cafés and in schools.

But who is active in the Turkish Civil Society 2.0?

Here are some insights from a GMF workshop held on June 5th.

Ertuğrul Kürkçü, journalist and coordinator of the BIANET project explains that the public use of the internet plays a very important role in the lives of Turkey’s young and old. Kürkçü’s website is based on this premise. It represents a unique project that approaches Turkish issues from the point of view of human rights, encompassing children’s rights, gender issues and minority issues. BIANET is not only available in Turkish: it also translates news from local media into English.

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ISN Weekly Theme: Indian Democracy

Two women with voting cards

Two Indian women waiting to vote / photo: Goutam Roy/ Al Jazeera English, flickr

In the wake of a surprisingly clear victory for the Congress party in India, the ISN focuses on the democratic process in India, the election results and the future of the incumbent government.

  • In the ISN Special Report India’s Status Quo Surprise Jayne Brady, a research fellow for UNESCO’s International Bureau of Education and Harsh V. Pant, a lecturer at the Defense Studies Department at King’s College London assess the challenges and opportunities the Congress Party faces in its second consecutive term in government. In A Silent Opportunity Jayne Brady examines the tasks ahead for Congress as it tries to match action with heightened expectations, while Harsh V. Pant questions whether Congress will be able to seize this unique opportunity or once again squander its political capital in Indian Electorate Seeks Stability.
  • The Indesec Expo 2009 is taking place in New Delhi in October 2009, concentrating on India’s homeland security and defense systems. Find out more in our Events section.
  • And for a bit of historical perspective, read Jawaharlal Nehru’s Inaugural Address from 1947 and Mahatma Gandhi’s famous Quit India Speech from 1942 in our Primary Resources section.

Why Can’t We Be Friends?

Screenshot of Jon Huntsman with daughter from China Daily site

Screenshot of Jon Huntsman with daughter from China Daily site

The China Daily runs a brilliant website detailing the China-connections of US officials, particularly in the new Obama administration, titled “US Officials and Their China Connections”. The page opens up with a logo of hearts and delicate Japanese-inspired cherry blossom twigs superimposed on a picture of the new US Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman and his adoptive Chinese daughter. How sweet.

And I don’t mean that sarcastically. It’s fascinating to see how an official Chinese media outlet maintains a page dedicated to seeing commonalities, finding links and promoting- on the surface at least- friendship between China and the US. It seems that in the more friendly atmosphere of the post-Bush world such connections are becoming assets on both sides of the Pacific and increasingly, as Timothy Geithner’s recent trip to China proved, are starting to inform the making of bilateral policy in a positive way.

Obama’s appointment of Huntsman as the Ambassador is the most obvious sign of bigger and better things to come. He has life-long ties to China through his family’s business, he speaks Mandarin and has adopted a Chinese girl with his wife. Huntsman has even gone on record to say that the US-China relationship is the most important one in the world. Obama, Huntsman assures us, feels the same way. And best of all, the website points out that Huntsman is indeed considered a potential front-runner for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination. Obama nominating him for this job, of course, might put an end to those grand plans.

Moreover, as the website proudly points out, more and more Chinese Americans are serving in Obama’s multicolored, multiracial and multicultural administration. America, it seems, is finally living up to its multicultural dream and China is taking note. The important posts of Energy Secretary and Secretary of Commerce, most notably, are now held by Steven Chu and Gary Locke, prominent Chinese Americans. Given that environmental issues, finance and commercial ties will likely dominate the US-Chinese agenda in the coming years, the Geithner-Chu-Locke trio is a kind of dream team for the two countries.

Coincidence or shrewd strategic planning, I ask you?

(…And in case you feel like getting some background on China- past, present, and future- check out our podcast on the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests.)

Is Twitter Eroding our Humanity?

Fire Hydrant with quote / Will Lion, flickr

Fire Hydrant with quote / Will Lion, flickr

First it was TV, then it was video games, now Twitter? Are these things really contributing to the decay of the human psyche, our morality and our ability to concentrate? Or is this just paranoid blame-seeking, intent on vilifying the entire spectrum of modern day tools part of our everyday life?

The ISN blog presents two viewpoints- mine and that of my co-worker Cristina Viehmann. Let the debate begin!

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