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Iranian election far from a routine affair

The UK-based Asharq al Awsat daily carried a column by Amir Taher who noted that polling day in Iran's presidential election may be five months away but that the election campaign is already in full swing.

The UK-based Asharq al Awsat daily carried a column by Amir Taher who noted that polling day in Iran's presidential election may be five months away but that the election campaign is already in full swing. Although no one has announced their candidacy so far, he said, it is clear that a record number of the regime's heavyweights are preparing to throw their hats, caps, or turbans, into the ring.

"According to tradition, next June's election should be a routine affair? This time, however, things are different. The incumbent, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has provoked intense opposition from within the Khomeinist establishment. Powerful factions of the regime see a second term for the radical president as a threat not only to their privileges but also to the regime's long-term prospects." After assessing various candidates, Taher focused on General Yahya Safavi, the former commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC). "The IRGC," he said, "may make its final move in a chess-game designed to put it directly in power in Tehran."

At the start of his visit to Iran, the head of the political bureau of Hamas, Khaled Meshaal, declared that Tehran had a share in the "victory" that was achieved in Gaza, wrote Hassan Haidar in Al Hayat. Meshaal added, that the aim of his visit was to "return the favour" and "to thank Iran for standing by our side".

The icing on the cake, revealed in the aftermath of the Gaza battle, is the demand by Hamas to find a new Palestinian authority, since it considers that the PLO is no longer valid, Haidar wrote. "Here too, the Iranian dimension is evident in Meshaal's stance, for Tehran has considered, since the Oslo agreement, that the PLO 'betrayed' the Palestinian people and must be changed." This stance towards the sole legal representative authority for Palestinians, Haidar concluded, is also adopted by the Israelis, both publicly and implicitly. Their former prime minister Isaac Rabin even paid, with his life for believing in this stance.

Abdul Rahman al Wabili, a columnist for Saudi Arabia's Al Watan, wrote that every time and place has its own methods for carrying out physical punishments as per the rulings of its judicial institutions against individuals who violated its laws and regulations. "Execution, especially when it comes to punishing murderers who carried out their crime after premeditation and without any right whatsoever, is one of the penalties sanctified by all the old laws and bills and was affirmed by the religious Shari'a and by the modern laws and bills."

"But my article is about the benefits and manner in which execution is carried out in Saudi Arabia: in public and with the use of swords for beheading. "I believe that public executions that are held in public squares with the use of swords for beheading, as is our custom here in Saudi Arabia, has become an obsolete practice and we are better off to look for new methods that suit our times and public mood."

Changing this method was particularly important now that these types of executions were increasingly appearing on the internet.

The Syrian daily Al Thawrah carried a piece by As'ad Abbud who noted that thirty years had passed since the Islamic Revolution. "Thirty years of imperialist and colonialist siege and the strong message to all the countries of the world tell a very simple truth: We in our economic and scientific renaissance depend on our own expertise," he wrote. The message to the oppressed is to "not fear their siege. We can use science and our willpower to serve our renaissance and role in the world and to promote world peace." "Unfortunately," Abbud commented, "we are busy about how to make a historical and geographical neighbour, who extends the hand of friendship and Islamic brotherhood, an enemy! Perhaps, this enmity will comfort our nerves from the weight of the duty towards our real enemy, Israel."

He concluded by asking: "Has Iran come from overseas? Is it not our partner in history and geography and is its strength not our strength in facing the enemies of the region and its peoples?" * Arabic news digest compiled by www.mideastwire.com

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