In a lengthy article in Tehran Bureau covering events from summer 2009 to the present, Muhammad Sahimi puts forward a picture of a developing contest between the Supreme Leader and President Ahmadinejad and concludes, The struggle and the gaping fissures that have emerged among the conservatives led by Khamenei, on the one hand, and Ahmadinejad and (presumably) the Guard hardliners, on the other, will bring their eventual downfall. This prospect is magnified by the administration's utter incompetence and corruption." I differ from the analysis on the key point of the Supreme Leader leading a conservative blog against the President and the Revolutionary Guard --- my assessment is more that Khamenei is manoeuvring between contending factions, trying to hold them together --- and I think the portrayal of the politics, especially the nuclear talks with the "West", is incomplete. However, this is a wide-ranging review of the tensions EA has been noting for more than a year....
Iraq's elections for a national government were held on 7 March, but there is still no resolution of power amongst curent Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, leading challenger (at least in those polls) Iyad Allawi, Moqtada al-Sadr, and Kurdish leaders. In The New York Times, Michael Gordon and Anthony Shadid report on the latest US move for a settlement.... The Obama administration is encouraging a major new power-sharing arrangement in Iraq that could retain Nuri Kamal al-Maliki as prime minister but in a coalition that would significantly curb his authority
On Thursday afternoon, on a national radio talk show, Sarah Palin finally endorsed Catherine O’Donnell’s campaign to be the next Senator from Delaware. Within hours, after Palin repeated her backing for O’Donnell via Twitter and Facebook, the Internet was swamped with the news. Nothing too surprising about that: this is the way politics is conducted in the US. To people in Britain, "activist" conjures a picture of a small group trudging through streets posting leaflets every election year. Some folks might occasionally remember a canvaser knocking on their door to solicit their vote. But the grassroots activism of America is an alien concept.
1530 GMT: Economy Watch. Iran has banned the import of 20 food products, including wheat, rice, and beef. The Government has been under heated criticism for sharp rises in agricultural imports, allegedly putting local producers out of business. The issue has been prominent in the campaign for impeachment of Minister of Agriculture Sadegh Khalilian.