Yet again the Iranian presidential elections have taken an unforeseen turn. After excluding all his critics and most obvious competitors from the race, Khamenei had thought that he could secure a peaceful campaign period concluding with his handpicked candidate on top. But contrary to his calculations his recent actions have opened up even deeper rifts in the ruling clique. His feeble attempt at forcing unity within the regime has resulted in his faction coming out as the weakest one in the race. At the same time the campaign of Hassan Rouhani has seen a sudden surge in popularity with hundreds of thousands of discontented youth at its mass meetings and rallies.

The declaration of Obama that the USA will step up its support for the rebels in Syria represents a change in the situation. The White House announcement means that the US is to supply direct military aid to the Syrian opposition for the first time. Spokesman Ben Rhodes did not give details about the military aid other than to say it would be “different in scope and scale to what we have provided before”.

After the Istanbul regional governor announced that there would be no attack on the protestors at Gezi Park and Taksim Square, the police marched into Taksim under the pretext of “cleaning” the square. Allegedly, they wanted to “clear” the square of barricades and forbidden flags and symbols like the PKK or Kurdistan flag and banners with Abdullah Ocalan on them.

Early this morning, when most of the protestors were asleep in their tents, riot police armed with rubber bullets, water cannons and tear gas stormed Taksim Square in Istanbul. This attack is part of a co-ordinated string of measures being pursued by the Erdogan government in an attempt to crush the mass movement of Turkish people that has been developing over the past two weeks.

“Papa Tayyip”, as Erdogan’s supporters call him, returned in the early hours of Friday from his visit to the Maghreb. His hiding in Morocco had to end. His party, the AKP, had declared several times that it would not organize a welcome rally for its president, although up 10,000 supporters (according to some estimates) did gather on Thursday evening. “Chemical Tayyip”, as he is referred to by the tear gassed demonstrators, however, met not only his supporters, but also even bigger protests in the country than when he left, despite his claims that everything would end quickly, as the protestors were only “marginal elements” and “marauders”. Wrong he was indeed!

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