The election in Iran and its violent aftermath could create an undesirable precedent for authoritarian governments in the former Soviet Union, according to a former Bush administration democratization official.
Given the existing geopolitical circumstances, the United States and European Union both say they would oppose Iran's participation in the Nabucco pipeline project. But that isn't stopping Tehran from saying it is willing to commit at least 10 billion cubic meters (bcm) of natural gas annually to the venture.
The early July inter-ethnic violence that hit China's western Xinjiang Province may have been shocking, but it shouldn't have been surprising. Tension between the Uighur and Han Chinese communities had been steadily building over the past three decades, and Communist authorities in Beijing hadn't been doing much to defuse simmering anger.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and US President Barack Obama have condemned the Iranian government for cracking down on citizens who have questioned the results of the June 12 presidential election, which President Mahmud Ahmadinejad is said to have won.
The two leaders were speaking at a joint news conference on June 26.
Iran's ethnic Azeri community numbers roughly 15-20 million, or almost a quarter of the country's overall population. Most Azeris harbor deep feelings of resentment toward Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's administration in Tehran, and they are believed to have voted strongly for the aggrieved presidential challenger, Mir Hussein Mousavi, who is himself an Azeri from Tabriz.
Looking past their fiery rhetoric and apparent determination to cling to power using all available means, Iran's hardliners are not a confident bunch. While hardliners still believe they possess enough force to stifle popular protests, they are worried that they are losing a behind-the-scenes battle within Iran's religious establishment.