Category Archives: Iran

The Origins of the Shia-Sunni Split

From NPR [link]

Morning Edition, February 12, 2007 · It’s not known precisely how many of the world’s 1.3 billion Muslims are Shia. The Shia are a minority, comprising between 10 percent and 15 percent of the Muslim population — certainly fewer than 200 million, all told.

The Shia are concentrated in Iran, southern Iraq and southern Lebanon. But there are significant Shiite communities in Saudi Arabia and Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India as well.

Although the origins of the Sunni-Shia split were violent, over the centuries Shia and Sunnis lived peacefully together for long periods of time.

But that appears to be giving way to a new period of spreading conflict in the Middle East between Shia and Sunni.

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Iran Prepares for Sanctions and Moves Billions From Europe

Iran’s preparing for UN sanctions. It’s moving money out of European banks. The price of oil exceeds $67. Ominous signs.

Iran shifts billions from banks in Europe amid fears of UN sanctions

· Tehran’s nuclear stand-off intensified by transfers
· British invite to Afghan talks irks wary Americans

Ewen MacAskill and Jill Treanor
Saturday January 21, 2006
The Guardian

The Iranian government has started moving billions of pounds in assets from Britain and the rest of Europe in case international sanctions are imposed over the nuclear crisis.

Ebrahim Sheibani, the governor of the Iranian Central Bank, confirmed Tehran had started shifting funds, according to Iranian news agency ISNA.

Mr Sheibani said: “We transfer foreign reserves to wherever we see as expedient. On this issue, we have started transferring. We are doing that.”

Iran’s pre-emptive action marks a significant escalation in the stand-off between Iran and the west. It is the firmest sign yet that Tehran fears sanctions will be imposed. The move is defensive, as the amount is not big enough to worry European banks. But it pushed oil prices to a four-month high above $67.

Ed: Full article below

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Thug life in Iran

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Did the CIA give Iran blueprints to build a bomb?

The Guardian reports of a botched CIA plan, operation Merlin, that may have accelerated Iran’s nuclear weapons program.

In an extract from his explosive new book, New York Times reporter James Risen reveals the bungles and miscalculations that led to a spectacular intelligence fiasco

James Risen’s book can be found here.

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A Critical Triangle: Iraq, Iran, and the United States

A talk at the U.S. Insitute of Peace available in .mp3 format.
Iraq’s increasingly close relationship with Iran presents the U.S. with unexpected challenges. Tehran’s ties to Iraq’s Shi’ite parties could provide Iran new leverage not merely in Iraq, but also in the wider regional and global arena. Indeed, ongoing efforts to address Iran’s quest for a nuclear fuel cycle, its support for Lebanon’s Hezbollah and its opposition to Palestinian-Israeli peace, have become entangled in Washington’s struggle to bring peace and democracy to Iraq.
  • How will Washington, Baghdad, and Tehran manage this complex triangle of competition, conflict and cooperation?
  • What are the stakes for each and what kind of influence will they wield as Iraq tries to build a new political future?
  • Does the election of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad all but guarantee an American-Iranian collision in Iraq? Or will mounting concerns about sectarian conflict in Iraq prompt Washington and Tehran to imagine possibilities for formal or informal cooperation?

Babak Rahimi just returned from a visit to Iran and Iraq, where he met with Ayatollah Sistani in Najaf.

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Basketball in the ‘axis of evil’

On the streets they may shout “Death to America”, but on the court they cheer for American basketball players.

Insults bounce back and forth between Iran and the United States on an almost daily basis but on the basketball court it is a different story.

The Iranian players kiss each other on both cheeks when they meet, the Americans do a high-five.

Diehard fans play drums and trumpets and shout “Ya Ali” – invoking the name of one of the twelve Shia imams – for the slam dunk.

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Filed under Iran, Middle East & Muslim World, Miscellaneous