Pres­i­dent’s ri­vals ce­ment lead in par­lia­ment

The Washington Times Daily - - World -

TEHRAN | Con­ser­va­tive ri­vals of Iran’s pres­i­dent ce­mented their con­trol on par­lia­ment as the count from last week’s vot­ing moved into the final stages.

Mah­moud Ah­madine­jad’s po­lit­i­cal op­po­nents clearly had the up­per hand Sun­day, with more than two-thirds of the seats de­cided in the 290-mem­ber par­lia­ment. The full tal­lies are not ex­pected un­til Tues­day.

Fri­day’s elec­tion high­lighted Mr. Ah­madine­jad’s po­lit­i­cal tum­ble af­ter at­tempts to chal­lenge the au­thor­ity of Supreme Leader Ay­a­tol­lah Ali Khamenei to make all key pol­icy de­ci­sions, though their views are sim­i­lar.

Par­lia­ment has no di­rect sway over crit­i­cal is­sues such as Iran’s nu­clear pro­gram, but con­trol by Khamenei loy­al­ists gives the lead­er­ship a more united front in the es­ca­lat­ing show­downs with the West.

BER­LIN | Kazakh of­fi­cials hope that re­cent trade deals with Ger­many will lead to a trade pact with the Euro­pean Union that will spur the Cen­tral Asian na­tion’s eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment.

“The gov­ern­ment is mak­ing a strong ef­fort to go be­yond oil and gas, and is seek­ing also to di­ver­sify its for­eign in­vestors, look­ing be­yond China, the U.S. and Rus­sia to Europe,” said Robert Cut­ler, who spe­cial­izes in en­ergy se­cu­rity and geo-eco­nom­ics at Car­leton Univer­sity in Ot­tawa.

Kaza­khstan’s econ­omy re­cov­ered quickly from the global fi­nan­cial cri­sis of 2009, soar­ing to a growth rate of 7.1 per­cent in the first half of 2011 over the same pe­riod the pre­vi­ous year. But growth rates are slow­ing: The econ­omy is ex­pected to grow 4.8 per­cent in 2012, Mr. Cut­ler said.

This slow­down, along with a de­sire for po­lit­i­cal sta­bil­ity af­ter un­rest among oil work­ers in De­cem­ber, prompted Kazakh Pres­i­dent Nur­sul­tan Nazarbayev to an­nounce in Jan­uary ef­forts to fur­ther in­dus­tri­al­ize and di­ver­sify the econ­omy.

“The en­ergy sec­tor is cur­rently the sin­gle-largest con­trib­u­tor to the state cof­fers, and thanks to this, Kaza­khstan has im­pres­sive eco­nomic growth,” said Lilit Gevor­gyan, an an­a­lyst at IHS Global In­sight, an eco­nomic anal­y­sis and mar­ket­ing in­tel­li­gence firm in London. “But there are so­cial con­se­quences as well to this type of mono­type econ­omy.”

Ms. Gevor­gyan said deadly oil ri­ots in the western town of Zhanaozen in De­cem­ber high­light the vul­ner­a­bil­ity of the for­mer Soviet repub­lic’s long-term po­lit­i­cal sta­bil­ity. That has prompted Kazakh of­fi­cials to pro­mote small- and medium-sized busi­nesses and a “stronger and wider mid­dle class.”

Mean­while, Euro­peans are search­ing for a re­li­able sup­ply of in­dus­trial raw ma­te­ri­als — and Kaza­khstan’s wealth of rare earth and other min­eral de­posits makes it an at­trac­tive in­vest­ment.

“Kaza­khstan has long been known to be a vir­tual pe­ri­odic ta­ble of el­e­ments,” said Mr. Cut­ler. “The prob­lems have been to de­velop the de­posits and get them to mar­ket in a com­mer­cially vi­able man­ner.”

Cop­per, zinc and other met­als vi­tal

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