*Several hundred Iranian students have demonstrated against the regime in Iran, and plan bigger protests on the anniversary of the 1999 demonstrations. The students are fed up with the repression of the hardliners and with the inability of the reformists such as President Khatami to get anything accomplished. The reformists have done well in elections but have been blocked at every turn.
*Paul Bremer, the US proconsul in Iraq, has warned the Iranian regime against interfering in Iraq. This threat may be a way of referring to the current visit of Muqtada al-Sadr, a hardliner, to Qom, where he has met with prominent Iranian hardliners. Bremer has also established a set of region funds for reconstruction, totalling $60 mn. Meanwhile, US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld continues to allege that Iran has a nuclear weapons program and is pushing for a Shiite theocracy in Iraq. Surprising, Rumsfeld’s allegations on the nuclear side are given support by a report in a conservative Japanese newspaper about meetings between Iranian scientists and North Korean ones concerning possible transfer of nuclear weapons technology. The trouble is, I doubt you can trust the Japanese Right about these things any more than you can trust the American.
*A poll done in Iraq shows that about 60 percent of Iraqis favor a separation of religion and state, Only 23% want a state ruled by shariah or Islamic law. This according to a poll reported in the Iraqi al-Ahali newspaper. About 60 percent also favored a decentralized, loosely federal state to a strong central one (an understandable sentiment after the Baath). The problem is that the 23% who want Islamic law appear to be the ones who are highly organized and have AK-47s.