Lebanon, Kuwait Reject Iranian Syria Conference
Iran convened a ”consultative meeting” of representatives from around 20 countries Thursday in Tehran to discuss the crisis in Syria. While the attendance list remains unknown, Russia confirmed that their ambassador would be present, and China, India, Algeria, Pakistan, and Iraq, among others, were also suspected to attend. Lebanon notably refused their invitation due to its policy of “restraint” in Syria, as did Kuwait. In a Washington Post opinion piece announcing the conference, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi reiterated his country’s desire to play a negotiating role in Syria, as well as Iran’s support for a solution “that will allow the Syrian people to decide their destiny.” Also, in a sign of rising tensions with Turkey, Iran suspended special arrangements between the countries that had let Turks travel to country without visas.
Meanwhile, Iran’s Vice President Hamid Baghaei met with Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi Wednesday in what is the highest level meeting between the two countries since before the Iranian revolution 1979. The visit avoided any major policy discussions, focusing instead on the symbolic nature of the meeting, with Baghaei also inviting Morsi to the Non-Aligned Movement meeting in the Iranian capital later this month.
Additionally, senior cleric Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani condemned media restrictions in Iran during a recent conference with independent journalists, saying the country’s supreme leader “should welcome expert criticism from the media…to guarantee the health of the Revolutionary path.”
At a conference in Tehran, Iran’s minister of communication and information technology announced that all government ministries will go offline in September to protect the government from cyber attacks. The move will be the first step in a plan to move the country away from a global internet in “the hands of one or two specific countries” and instead construct an Iranian intranet by 2013. The new network, in the style of North Korea’s Kwangmyong intranet, will be censored to adhere to strict moral standards.