TEHRAN, Iran (AP) – Iranians voted Friday in the country’s first election since its landmark nuclear deal with world powers, deciding whether to further empower moderates backing President Hassan Rouhani or support hard-liners long suspicious of the West. The elections for Iran’s parliament and a powerful clerical body known as the Assembly of Experts are tightly controlled by the establishment headed by the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, which ultimately determines who can run.
But within the range allowed by the Islamic Republic, the voting may provide a referendum on Rouhani’s policies – and his promises that the nuclear deal, the lifting of most international sanctions and a greater degree of opening to the West can help boost a battered economy – a top concern for most voters.
BEIRUT (AP) – Warplanes unleashed airstrikes against rebel-held positions in the suburbs of the Syrian capital and near the northern city of Aleppo, hours before a cease-fire brokered by the United States and Russia was to go into effect at midnight local time across the war-ravaged country. If the cessation of hostilities holds, it would be the first time international negotiations have brought any degree of quiet in Syria’s five-year civil war.
But success requires adherence by multiple armed factions. Also, it is made more fragile because it allows fighting to continue against the Islamic State group and the Nusra Front, al-Qaida’s branch in the country – which could easily re-ignite broader warfare.
FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) – New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie backed Donald Trump in the Republican race for president which is a powerhouse endorsement as the billionaire tries to beat back assaults on his character from a newly aggressive rival, Marco Rubio. Christie joined Trump at a Forth Worth news conference and praised him as “the person who will go to Washington, D.C., and be able to absolutely turn the place around.”
Christie said Trump was hands-down the better choice than Rubio, a first-term senator who “didn’t show up for work.” “We don’t need any more of these Washington, D.C. acts,” said the governor, who had needled Rubio for missing Senate votes back when the governor was a candidate himself.