Iran government clamps down on opposition leaders as protest grows (+ analysis); Al Qaeda offshoot claims responsibility for bombing attempt; assinations in Iraq; Japanese factories churn out goods; and more
Top of the Agenda: Clashes and Arrests in Iran
Iranian police fired live rounds and tear gas into throngs of protesters over the weekend as opposition groups clashed with government authorities on one of the holiest days on the Shiite Muslim calendar. The New York Times reports that at least ten people died in street clashes on December 27, including the nephew of defeated presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi.
The unrest in some of Iran's major cities signals the reinvigoration of Iran's opposition movement, initially galvanized in the aftermath of the country's disputed June 2009 presidential election. Iranian authorities today arrested a number of opposition leaders (BBC), including a former foreign minister, and a senior aide to Mousavi. Iranian security forces also reportedly stormed opposition offices, rounded up activists (al-Jazeera), and targeted at least one news agency (Times).
The BBC's Jon Leyne says that the regime's tactic of arrest and intimidation resembles moves taken after protests intensified in June.
Iran Analyst Meir Javedanfar, writing for PBS' Tehran Bureau, posits that after a period of normalcy the current unrest suggests a full-scale civil disobedience campaign is festering, "not unlike the first intifada the Palestinians initiated against Israel in 1987."
CFR's Ray Takeyh says that despite the ongoing anti-regime demonstrations in Iran's streets, opposition forces remain fragmented and disjointed. But Rouzbeh Parsi and Trita Parsi argue the most recent protests could prove the regime's breaking point (Daily Beast).
Photographs from the protests portray the rage fueling Iran's opposition movement (WashPost). Amateur video obtained by the Wall Street Journal depicts protestors attacking a small police depot in central Tehran.
PACIFIC RIM: Japan’s Factory Output Grows
A recovery in export demand from Asian countries boosted production in Japan, spurring a 2.6 percent jump in November from the month before. Factory output is a key barometer of Japan's economic health (AP) .
China: Chinese authorities have rescued the twenty-five members of the ship De Xin Hai, a bulk carrier that was hijacked by Somali pirates in October (BBC). A reported hijacker told Reuters that a $4 million ransom, dropped onto the deck of the ship, cleared the way for the crew's release.