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Iran to move its capital from Tehran? 3, November 2009

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Iran.
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The BBC reports that Iran is considering moving its capital city from Tehran to – it has been suggested – near Qom. The official reason for this mooted change is that Tehran sits atop countless earthquake-prone fault lines. Indeed, the devastating quake at Bam in 2003 may well ‘concentrate the minds’ as the reporter puts it.

There are, however, other motives afoot. Tehran is known as being something of a relatively liberal city where demonstrations are relatively easy to organise (i.e. wide boulevards and squares) and there is also something of a pedigree of demonstrations, offering tacit support to the dissenters. Moving the capital uproots the history of dissent and can make it simply harder to do, if, for example, it is away from a major population center. The flip side to this is, of course, that it is away from a major population center and staffing Ministries is problematic and the overall cost of moving a capital can be – predictably – astronomical.

Iranian Facebook & YouTube: open for business 18, March 2009

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Iran.
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Iranian authorities have released their blocks on Facebook and YouTube. This is quite a move forwards for the repressive regime in Tehran. Is this some kind of concession of sorts towards Obama’s recent more gentile rhetoric? Is this finally the vanguard of new media-savvy technology being embraced by the regime, after admitting defeat a la King Canute? It seems not. In an excellent article for Radio Free Europe, Golnaz Esfandiari suggests that it is in fact the Iranian authorities taking advantage of these media with one eye firmly on the upcoming June elections. In short, it is a way to contribute to roping in the youth vote. Time will tell…after a facebook status update has told us, that is.

Hat tip: Andrew Bishop. Much obliged.