We like to believe -- and newspapers and television like us to believe -- that the battle for Iran is being fought on the streets of Tehran, of Isfahan, of Najafabad Untrue The future of the nation is being decided in Qom, among the clerical leaders of Iranian Shia Islam; and one of the most influential of them -- perhaps the closest of all the ayatollahs to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad -- is silent.
A deadly showdown that pitted an al-Qaida-associated organization against Hamas and police troops left at least 13 killed and 85 wounded in the Gaza Strip on Friday, marking the worst day of violence in the region since January's Israeli offensive, according to the BBC.
Despite two major challenges to the US from Iraq on Friday -- in the form of a breakdown in negotiations between the two nations over long-term plans for U involvement there and Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's renewed call to arms against U forces in Iraq -- President Bush maintained a positive tone while discussing American-Iraqi relations on the Parisian leg of his current European tour .
Muqtada al-Sadr may call for a monthlong unilateral cease-fire amid the formation of a new political coalition in Iraq. Sadr is set to meet Thursday with key Shiite political leaders and Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani to discuss his role, or lack thereof, in the changing political landscape.