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There has been much recent speculation about Iran working with its longtime nemesis, the United States, to confront a new, common enemy: the radical Islamist organization ISIS.

Indeed, the Sunni zealots of ISIS have focused some of their rhetoric directly at Tehran, the center of Shia Islam, vowing to fight what it says are Iran's goal of restoring the Safavid Empire, the much more extensive Persian state of the 17th century.

In an apparent response to such claims, Iran’s conservative parliamentary speaker, Ali Larijani, said this week that the country “does not want an empire.”

Larijani told a Tehran seminar on Palestine that Iran's 1979 revolution was directed against empires, and all Iran seeks now is the "dignity" and "enlightenment" of Muslims. If it was helping “resistance forces” like the Lebanese Hezbollah, he said, in order to “end the Zionist current in the Middle East,” the semi-official ISNA agency reported.

Larijani’s comments on Tuesday appeared directed at a range of critics, including the West. He cited former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger's recent remarks qualifying Iran as a greater threat to Western interests than ISIS, because Iran was "an intellectual current in the Islamic world" whereas ISIS was "just a political group."

Iran's regime has intermittently accused the West of fomenting conflict in Iraq and Syria and surreptitiously backing extremist Sunni groups. Yet in spite of the mutual suspicions, the country is currently negotiating its nuclear program with the West, in a bid to free itself from crippling economic sanctions.

Iran’s Deputy-Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi told Iranian television this week that the sides had written down “about 60 to 70%” of a final nuclear deal, ahead of a meeting in New York scheduled for September 18,” the reformist Aftab-e Yazd daily reported.

— Ahmad Shayegan

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Geopolitics

It's Not About Mussolini, Searching For The Real Giorgia Meloni

As the right-wing coalition tops Italian elections, far-right leader of the Brothers of Italy, Giorgia Meloni, is set to become Italy's next prime minister. Both her autobiography and the just concluded campaign help fill in the holes in someone whose roots are in Italy's post-fascist political parties.

Giorgia Meloni at a political rally in Palermo on Sept. 20.

Alessandro Calvi

-Analysis-

ROME — After Sunday’s national election results, Italy is set to have its first ever woman prime minister. But Giorgia Meloni has been drawing extra attention both inside and outside of the country because of her ideology, not her gender.

Her far-right pedigree in a country that invented fascism a century ago has had commentators rummaging through the past of Meloni and her colleagues in the Brothers of Italy party in search of references to Benito Mussolini.

But even as her victory speech spoke of uniting the country, it is far more useful to listen to what she herself has said since entering politics to understand the vision the 45-year-old lifelong politician has for Italy’s future.

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