Iran's Guardian Council has just published its list of approved candidates for presidential elections -notable for its absence of challengers to the Supreme Leader. The eventual winner needs to repair external alliances and re-energise faith in the Islamic Republic amongst Iranians.
Recent allegations by the Canadian authorities about Al-Qa'ida in Iran has ignited a flurry of commentary. Experience suggests however that the release of limited intelligence of this nature is fraught with dangers for the public trust and risks being counter-productive.
Since the end of the Cold War, NATO has launched two initiatives that would improve its relationship with countries in the Middle East. Whilst there are undoubtedly common interests on which to build, the public perception of NATO in the region leaves much to be desired. The Alliance must tread carefully if it wishes to build lasting relationships in the region.
Following the Gaza crisis, pledges of aid for reconstruction are helping to strengthen the political will to create an effective Palestinian Unity Government. Although many challenges remain unresolved, some encouraging signs have emerged from the early stages of reconciliation talks.
The regional elections in Iraq took place in January in a much hoped for atmosphere of peace and security. The results will begin to show whether Iraq remains a patchwork of conflicting groups, or whether progress is being made to draw the country together and develop a sense of national unity.