Christiane looks at why protesters are saying the World Cup only benefits outsiders.
By Mick Krever, CNN
Want proof that Iran’s president-elect wants to change Iran’s foreign policy?
“Literally every diplomat that Ahmadinejad fired for favoring engagement with the U.S. was later on hired by Rouhani in his think tank,” Vali Nasr, a former member of Obama’s foreign policy team told CNN's Christiane Amanpour on Monday. “So he’s been working on this.”
Add to that the fact that Rouhani has a track record on the international stage, as a former chief nuclear negotiator, and Nasr is convinced that diplomats around the world have been given the gift of “breathing room” by the election of the new Iranian president. FULL POST
By Mick Krever, CNN
One thing is clear in Iran, at least according to an adviser to the president-elect's campaign: The people have rejected the policies of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
The election of reform-minded Hassan Rouhani is an indication of the mood of the Iranian people, Sadegh Zibakalam, who advised the campaign of the next president, told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Monday.
“The most important issue is not to continue with the policies that have been running and guiding Iran during the past, particularly four years,” Zibakalam said. “Moving towards a better conciliatory, realistic, and pragmatic policy – I mean, that is the main issue.” FULL POST
By Christiane Amanpour, CNN's Chief International Correspondent
You can watch the nightly international affairs program "Amanpour." on CNN International or in its entirety here at the Amanpour.com website.
The stunning election victory for reform and moderation in Iran this weekend takes me back 16 years to the mind-boggling election upset I covered in 1997, when the moderate cleric Mohammad Khatami won. I covered him on the campaign trail and dubbed him the Mullah with the smiling face, and in fact his was a new and different face of Iran. He was the first since the 1979 Islamic Revolution to call for reform at home, and for a type of detente (his words to me) with the West and the rest.
As word of Khatami's landslide victory swept through the country back then, I remember as if it were yesterday, an elderly, religious, working-class woman, tug my sleeve and ask me with a shy and toothless smile: "Will America make friends with us again now?" My heart skipped a beat, and it bled a little too. Iran had spoken, and it has spoken and spoken and spoken for the past 16 years. FULL POST
CNN's Christiane Amanpour speaks with Ambassador Thomas Pickering about Iran after Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
CNN's Christiane Amanpour speaks with Reza Pahlavi, the son of the deposed Iranian Shah, about creating a meaningful opposition to the ayatollahs.
One of the top advisers to Iran’s Supreme Leader gave a hint of cautious optimism about rebuilding ties with the United States, in an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Tuesday.
Mohammad-Javad Larijani said that Iran is not “refraining or shying away” from talking to the United States.
“The issue is how we can restructure this relation, after 35 years of hostility and, right now, unfortunately, it's at the peak of that,” Larijani said.
There were new nuclear talks last month in Almaty, Kazakhstan between the U.S., Iran, and five other countries. The parties are due to meet again next month to see if they can resolve the crisis diplomatically and not militarily.
Both sides are publicly portraying the latest talks positively, although onlookers from Israel to Saudi Arabia say they remain skeptical that Iran intends to be fully transparent about its nuclear ambitions.
Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Salehi said the West is showing signs of good faith.
“I would like to share the view of Minister Salehi, but I'm a bit more cautious,” Larijani told Amanpour. “They are always asking the utmost,” Larijani added, saying the West would get more transparency if Iran got more cooperating from the West, alluding to the easing of sanctions.
The West wants Iran to stop producing and enriching uranium to 20% and Larijani signaled that Iran could agree to that under certain conditions.
“I think this is very simple,” he said. “They should sell it to us. If we can buy it like 15 years ago – we bought it [from] Argentina. Then there is no need to produce it.”
Larijani said it would be a “very bad request,” if the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) and others were to ask Iran to stop its right to enrichment under NPT (Non-Proliferation Treaty) rules.
Though, he said Iran is ready to accept all mechanisms under the NPT to supervise this direction of its development.
When pressed about any type of opening for bilateral talks between the U.S. and Iran, Larijani did not rule out the possibility.
“My recommendation to the diplomatic machinery is that we should think about new models [of] approach.”
By Samuel Burke, CNN
Unlike many of its neighbors, Iran has enjoyed a strong civil society – the intellectuals and professionals who influence the national trajectory outside the spheres of government and business. This was especially true during the 1990s and early 2000s, during the presidency of reformist Mohammad Khatami.
According to Human Rights Watch, that distinction is slipping.
A conservative backlash to Khatami, the presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the crackdown following the 2009 disputed elections have slowly strangulated the careers and lives of Iranian activists, human rights lawyers, bloggers and journalists.
Simply put, professionals are fleeing, fearing arbitrary arrests, detention and even death.
Since 2009, the number of civil society activists who have applied for asylum has steadily increased. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Iranians filed more than 11,000 new asylum applications in 2009, 15,000 in 2010 and 18,000 in 2011.
Many activists have sought temporary refuge and an uncertain future in neighboring Turkey and Iraq, according to Human Rights Watch.
Faraz Sanei monitors the situation in Iran for the group, and told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour that the Iranian government used the 2009 elections as a pretext to go after any sort of dissent or and opposition in the country.
“That meant going after independent NGOs, independent journalists who were critical of the government and human rights activists,” he said. “Many of them were imprisoned - arbitrary arrests and detentions. Many of them were detained in secret detention facilities, tortured often and put in solitary confinement. They did not have access to lawyers.”
Many of these civil society professionals were given unfair trials in revolutionary courts, Sanei said, and sentenced to anywhere from five to 20 years in prison. Often, he said, their imprisonment was punishment essentially for doing their job: speaking out against the government and its actions.
There are currently 45 journalists in Iranian prisons according to the Committee to Protest Journalist – the second most of any country in the world, behind only Turkey.
Years of crackdowns are causing a brain drain, though it is not enough to be called a mass exodus, and nowhere near the refugee crisis that has resulted from Syria’s civil war,
Human rights lawyers are fleeing or in prison, including many of the colleagues of Nobel Peace laureate Shirin Ebadi, who is also in prison.
Sanctions are seen by many in the West as a tool to help force change from the government, but many ordinary Iranians complain that the global sanctions against the country are hurting the very people that presumably the world wants to help.
Groups like Human Rights Watch are pushing for targeted human rights sanctions, against high-ranking individuals as well as security and intelligence forces, who they say are implicated in serious human rights violations.
They hope these measures might reverse the shrinking space in Iran’s civil society.
CNN’s Juliet Fuisz produced this piece for television.
By Samuel Burke, CNN
The former head of Israel’s intelligence agency, Efraim Halevy, has refused to characterize Syrian shelling on the Israel-Syria border as neither deliberate nor as just an accidental spillover from the ongoing civil war.
Initially Israel did not respond to shells falling in its territory. But on Sunday Israel returned fire for the first time since the 1973 Yom Kippur War.
In an interview CNN’s Hala Gorani on Tuesday, Halevy said that at first, Israel purposely avoided hitting a military target; but after the second shelling, Israeli forces hit an artillery battery.
While Israel did this on the ground, it “also sent a message, an oral message through certain channels to the presidency in Damascus that this would not be tolerated," Halvey said. “It would not be to his interest or the interests of anybody in Syria to involve Israel in any possible way in the current fighting.” FULL POST
By Samuel Burke, CNN
A sensational story is rocking Israel this week – alleging that the Israeli military defied orders from its commander in chief, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Leading Israeli journalist Ilana Dayan is reporting that Netanyahu ordered his military to prepare for an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities nearly two years ago. Dayan's story documents that both the army chief and the head of Mossad (Israeli intelligence) refused to comply with Netanyahu’s order.
In an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour Thursday, Dayan said the information came from officials who were in the room with Netanyahu when the conversations took place, during a meeting of Israeli ministers. FULL POST
By Samuel Burke, CNN
It's no surprise that David Cameron was the first world leader to congratulate Obama on his reelection Tuesday, considering the two countries' “special relationship” – the term coined by Winston Churchill half a century ago.
But the British Prime Minister also sees big challenges ahead. Cameron has pointed to the global economy and Syria as two issues that need to be tackled immediately.
“I want to talk to Barack about is how we must do more to try and solve this crisis,” Cameron said in Jordan Wednesday.
In an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour Wednesday, Britain's Ambassador in Washington D.C., Sir Peter Westmacott, says the U.K. is starting to talk more intensively to some of the opposition elements there; and that the United States is taking the initiative to bring together some of the opposition elements inside and outside Syria.