Dossier: Iran

Mohammad-Reza Shajarian (centre) performing on stage with the Shahnaz Ensemble in Dubai in February 2011 (photo: AP)

Music and power in Iran

An instrument of propaganda and control

In her essay, Maria Koomen examines the important role played by music in the history of Iran, in particular since the Islamic revolution of 1979More

Iranian female students (photo: Massoud Schirazi)

The University of Tehran

Winds of change blowing over the campus

As president of the University of Tehran, Farhad Rahbar made many enemies with his hard-line approach. His successor, Mohammad Hossein Omid, who started work in February, is seen as the great "hope" for the nation's most famous university. By Massoud SchiraziMore

Young people in Darband, northern Tehran (photo: Massoud Schirazi)

Iranian cinema

Shining a light on inner conflicts

"Darband" and "Sar be Mohr" are two new Iranian films that offer profound insights into the lives of young urban Iranians, highlighting their inner conflicts and the turmoil that is tearing many of them apart. Massoud Schirazi went to see both films in TeheranMore

A poster with an image of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in front of the Syrian flag (photo: Reuters)

Book review: "The Wisdom of Syria's Waiting Game"

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How to stay in power against the odds

In her book "The Wisdom of Syria's Waiting Game", Bente Scheller analyses Syrian foreign policy since the Assad dynasty came to power in 1970. She believes that the special relationship between domestic and foreign policy is key to understanding Syria's power apparatus. By Martina SabraMore

Russia's President Putin, right, greets Egypt's General Al-Sisi (photo: Reuters)

The Crimean crisis

The Near East: scene of a new Cold War?

The Crimean crisis could mark the beginning of a new confrontation between East and West. Not only is there already talk of a second Cold War, there are already signs of it in the Near East. A commentary by Nora MüllerMore

Amy Chua (photo: Prakash Singh/AFP/Getty Images)

Book review: Amy Chua and Jed Rubenfeld on immigrant culture

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Attack of the power migrants

Amy Chua and Jed Rubenfeld pledge to lift the lid on the cultural secrets of success of certain immigrant groups in the US. According to Daniel Bax, their book is nothing more than an exercise in cod folk psychologyMore

A Persian "Haft Sin" table featuring seven foods and objects all beginning with the letter "s" (photo: Imago/UPI Photo)

Nowruz: one of the world's oldest festivals

"My paleness is yours, your colour is mine!"

The Iranian New Year celebration "Nowruz" has been a feature of Persian culture for more than 2,500 years. The roots of this festival lie in the ancient Persian religion of Zoroastrianism. Today, more than 300 million people all over the world celebrate Nowruz. Shohreh Karimian looks back at the history of this new year celebration and explains some of its customsMore

A political poster hanging in a market in Lebanon (photo: Ben Knight)

Hezbollah in Lebanon

How Hezbollah is paralysing Lebanese politics

There are few countries in the world where domestic affairs are as affected by regional calamities as Lebanon. With Hezbollah still fighting across the border in Syria and the country's two biggest political alliances at loggerheads about the situation, the government in Beirut is in deadlock. By Ben KnightMore

Baran Kosari and Navid Mohammadzadeh in a still from the Iranian film "Asabani Nistam!" (I'm not angry!)

Interview with Iranian filmmaker Reza Dormishian

The rage of an entire generation on screen

The film "Asabani Nistam!" (I'm not angry!) was the only Iranian entry at this year's Berlinale film festival. On screen, young Iranians vent their anger and frustration at the day-to-day economic hardship and the general hopelessness of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's term as president. Igal Avidan spoke to the director and producer Reza DormishianMore

Still from the documentary "Iranien" (photo: Berlinale)

Mehran Tamadon's documentary "Iranien"

A bold experiment

In Mehran Tamadon's new documentary, the director enters into a debate with four loyal supporters of the regime, who better him in every aspect of the discussion. Igal Avidan saw the film at the BerlinaleMore

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (photo: AFP/Getty Images)

Power struggle in Iran

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Rouhani's balancing act

Hardliners in the Islamic Republic of Iran are intent on showing the president where the boundaries of his ambitious domestic reform agenda lie. By Marcus MichaelsenMore

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan visiting Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on 29 January 2014 (photo: MEHR)

Turkish–Iranian relations

"Zero problems" with the Islamic Republic

Even at the height of diplomatic tensions with Iran and after an intensification of sanctions against the country, Turkey did not fall in with the West's strict line on Iran. Sinan Ulgen explains whyMore

Shahram Nazeri (source: MEHR)

Iranian musician Shahram Nazeri

The Persian nightingale and the flowers of hope

Shahram Nazeri is the undisputed master of setting Rumi's poetry to music. At a recent concert in Teheran, the renowned musician sang his audience into a state of ecstasy and gave voice to the Iranians' hopes for a brighter cultural future. After several barren years, the cultural scene is indeed showing tentative signs of change. By Massoud SchiraziMore

 Ayatollah Khomeini arriving in Iran on 1 February 1979 (photo: Getty Images/Afp/Gabriel Duval)

Interview with Iran expert Bahman Nirumand

"Everyone believed Khomeini's promises"

Thirty-five years ago, Ayatollah Khomeini returned to Iran from exile. Thomas Latschan spoke to the Iran expert Bahman Nirumand about Khomeini's role in the Islamic Revolution and his significance for modern-day IranMore

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (left) and Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal bin Abdulaziz al-Saud in November 2013 (photo: REUTERS/Jason Reed)

Saudi Arabia's foreign policy

The bewildered kingdom

The political changes wrought by the Arab Spring in the region, the prospect of increased oil supplies from deposits outside Saudi Arabia and the possibility of an historical rapprochement between the Saudis' long-term ally (US) and their arch enemy (Iran) have been a game-changer for Saudi Arabia in recent years. Mai Yamani takes a closer look at how the kingdom is reacting to these developmentsMore

Volker Perthes (photo: picture-alliance/dpa)

Interview with Volker Perthes

"It's time for a ceasefire"

Middle East expert Volker Perthes is calling for a ceasefire in the Syrian conflict to allow civil society to recover, which could in turn curb the growing influence of the Islamists. Diana Hodali spoke to himMore

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