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Total number of comments: 250 (since 2013-11-28 14:42:47)

F Jahanpour

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  • Now that SecDef thinks Israeli Occupation is Apartheid, will the Lobby Blackballing Fail?
    • General Mattis’s remark about the Israeli apartheid might be controversial, but there is no doubt about his staunch support for the rightwing Israeli government and his strong denunciation of the groups such as Hezbollah who have fought against Israel’s invasions in Lebanon. His frequent comments about the Persian Gulf “allies” (namely a bunch of medieval hereditary sheikhs) and his enormous admiration for General al-Sisi and for the brutal military coup in Egypt are not very reassuring.

      Many Iranians sarcastically referred to President Ahmadinezhad’s first government as the “government of the barracks” because it included a few retired revolutionary guards commanders. It seems that the new US Administration can also be increasingly described as an “administration of the barracks and the billionaires’ club”.

      General Mattis’s views about Iran also sound extremely belligerent, and although he does not advocate an outright invasion he seems to support all efforts at a regime change:
      link to lobelog.com

      Apart from his interview with Wolf Blitzer, his long presentation on the Middle East at the Center for Strategic and International Studies last April was entirely devoted to Iran’s alleged misdeeds and how to counter them:
      link to csis.org

      It seems that both Iran and the region and consequently the whole world must be alarmed about what is in store, despite all the President-elect’s remarks about wasteful wars in the Middle East and his assurances that he wants to be friends with everybody.

  • How Rupert Murdoch & Fox Created the Fake News Industry
    • Farhang Jahanpour 12/01/2016 at 7:17 am

      The distortion of news and the use of false propaganda are not limited to Fox and other parts of the Murdoch empire. As you point out, the entire corporate news is responsible for distorting public perception of reality. It is the link between corporate media and the military-industrial complex that is responsible for manipulating public opinion for the sake of the tiny minority of the extremely rich industrialists who benefit from wars and conflicts.

      After the collapse of the former Soviet Union, America enjoyed a period of unchallenged supremacy, and practically had no serious enemies anywhere. Yet, new enemies had to be created in order to keep the arms industry profitable. Looking at the United States from outside, it is quite puzzling why the only remaining superpower that spends almost as much on its military as the rest of the world put together, and consequently enjoys a power that dwarfs the capabilities of all its competitors feels so insecure. Just to give one example, Russia’s military budget is only 8% of the NATO budget that is dominated by the United States.

      The reason for this feeling of anxiety and fear of foreigners is that not only Fox but most US media is dominated by the neocons and warmongers who create a feeling of hysteria and terror in the American population. Take the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal. Even the supposedly liberal New York Times’ editorial pages on foreign affairs feature some neoconservatives, such as David Brooks and Thomas Friedman. The Washington Post’s editorial pages are dominated by hardline neoconservatives, such as Fred Hiatt, Charles Krauthammer, Robert Kagan, Jackson Diehl, and far-right bloggers such as William Kristol, Jennifer Rubin and Richard Cohen. These people set the tone for the rest of the media and have a disproportionate influence on both the politicians ad the public at large.

      So long as the bond between corporate media and big business and military-industrial complex is not broken, we cannot expect a great deal of change in the power of the media to frighten and to mislead.

  • Is Jimmy Carter right that Obama should Recognize Palestine?
    • Farhang Jahanpour 11/29/2016 at 12:28 pm

      Sadly, the first thing that is needed for a lasting Israeli-Palestinian peace is for the Israelis to realize that the present course of occupation and oppression will lead nowhere. It is naïve to imagine that the occupation of millions of stateless people and the imposition of apartheid laws can continue in perpetuity just because Israel enjoys the support of a powerful lobby that forces various US administrations to give in to Israeli demands and to close its eyes to the suffering of the Palestinian people.

      If apartheid and oppression could be successful forever, the South African regime would not have collapsed under the weight of world opinion, even though it enjoyed the support of some Western countries. Both Margaret Thatcher and President Reagan referred to Nelson Mandela as a terrorist but they could not save the apartheid regime. The sooner the Israelis grasp that fact the sooner they will be able to reach a just and viable solution with the Palestinians who were the original inhabitants of the land that the Israelis have occupied for the past few decades.

      Contrary to the views of some Israelis and their foreign backers, Israel is in a very precarious position. It is becoming more and more isolated in the world. The weight of opinion in Europe is turning against her. The events in the Middle East move fast and in unexpected ways. The Israelis can reach an honorable settlement with the Palestinians, either on the basis of two states living side-by-side or one unitary state for all its Jewish and Palestinian inhabitants free from discrimination and apartheid laws, but the longer they postpone the inevitable the more difficult will be the outcome for them.

      If reliance upon god who would come to the rescue of his “chosen people” were enough, the Jews would not have lived 2000 years in diaspora. Waiting for the Messiah to return to redeem his people is as promising as the Shi’ites belief in the return of the Hidden Imam to usher in an age of justice and pace. The sooner both groups give up this fantasy and deal with reality the better it would be for them and for the world.

  • Is Lt.-Gen. Flynn Right that Islam is not a Religion?
    • Farhang Jahanpour 11/20/2016 at 5:23 pm

      The extent of ignorance is truly appalling. The general clearly has not read the Bible and has not noticed hundreds of verses that prescribe violence and genocide against non-Jews. link to skepticsannotatedbible.com

      He does not seem to have heard of the Crusades when various groups of Christians poured into the Middle East with the explicit aim of fighting and killing Muslims. They destroyed practically any Jewish colonies they came across on the way, and massacred tens of thousands of Muslims and Jews when they conquered Jerusalem.
      link to en.wikipedia.org

      He does not seem to have heard of the Inquisition, the Puritan Revolution, or wars of religion in Europe. He has not heard of European wars of conquest in Islamic lands, which were often accompanied with horrendous violence. As one example, when Albuquerque captured Goa he ordered the massacre of the entire Muslim population. According to Heritage History, "As soon as the Portuguese were in entire possession of Goa, Albuquerque directed that the Muhammadan population, men, women and children, should be put to the sword.” Albuquerque proudly wrote home about his conquests, adding: “I burnt the city and put everyone to the sword and for four days your men shed blood continuously. No matter where we found them, we did not spare the life of a single Muslim; we filled the mosques with them and set them on fire…” He boasts that he did all that for the glory of Christ.

      European Christians were involved in the two World Wars when they engaged in industrial scale killing of tens of millions of fellow-Christians, as well as six million Jews and hundreds of thousands of Muslim soldiers who fought on the side of Britain in the wars.

      This is not meant at pointing a finger at Christianity or excusing the violence committed by Muslims, especially by various terrorist groups in recent history. Sadly, all religions are guilty of having committed violence in their history. However, one expects someone who is going to serve in a very responsible position as the National Security Advisor to the president of the only remaining super-power to try to push for peace and reconciliation, rather than spreading uniformed message of hatred.

  • How can Progressives get through the Next 4 Years? Organize!
    • Farhang Jahanpour 11/11/2016 at 5:57 am

      Another excellent analysis! In the midst of all this doom and gloom, it is good to feel that we can do something to reverse the situation. One of the unfortunate traits of most human beings, which is also necessary for our survival, is that we adapt to circumstances. I am often asked by liberal friends in the West why Iranians put up with the oppressive and reactionary regime that rules over them, and my answer is that they have adapted themselves to it, in the same way that the Germans adapted themselves to Hitler and the Russians to the Soviet Union. It is only when we realize that there is something wrong with the situation to which we are adapting ourselves that we try to do something about it.

      For Americans who claim to be the leaders of the free world and champions of human rights and democracy it is not acceptable to have a president who wishes to ban Muslims from entering America, who wishes to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants, who belittles, insults and gropes women and thinks it is all a part of locker room banter, who denies global warming and says it is a Chinese hoax, who wants to build a wall not only against Mexico but against trade with the rest of the world, who believes that blacks and Latinos and people of color are inferior to white people, who likes and empowers despots and dictators and who wants Saudi Arabia, South Korea and Japan to have nuclear weapons of their own.

      It is time that we all say in a loud voice that these are not OK, and that these are not the concepts and the way of life that we wish to adapt ourselves to. Democracy and human rights are fragile plants and despots and bullies have often crushed them in the past when people have allowed them to do so out of fear or laziness. It seems the only answer is first to realize the depth of the crisis and not try to explain it away, and then to organize to reverse it. The alternative is a return to a medieval mentality.

  • Iraqi Kurdistan forces take Bashiqa on road to Mosul
    • Thank you for another excellent and informative piece on the developments around Mosul. To me, the one worrying factor is the attitude of the Turks, or rather President or Sultan Erdogan, towards the conflict. In my view, there is nothing remarkable about the assistance provided by Turkey to Peshmerga Kurds. In this conflict not only Turkey is an uninvited guest, but she is a guest that wishes to impose herself by force on Iraq.

      Following the questionable recent article by former Ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, who called on US Administration to include the Turkish forces in the attack on Mosul, I believe that the aim of Secretary Ash Carter’s visit to Iraq was mainly to persuade the Iraqi prime minister to allow the Turks to take part in the liberation of Mosul. That was one of the main points that he stressed when he got to Iraq and he urged the Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to include Turkey in the campaign, an offer that al-Abadi firmly rejected saying that the Iraqis would liberate Mosul by themselves.

      Erdogan’s insistence to be included in the attack on Mosul is a part of his neo-Ottoman policy of expanding Turkish territory in both Syria and Iraq. In a speech symbolically delivered in Bursa on October 22, Erdogan spoke about Misak-i Milli, or national covenant, implying that Mosul belongs to Turkey. He questioned the loss of Ottoman territory to Iraq and made a claim to parts of Iraqi and Syrian territory. He said: "We did not voluntarily accept the borders of our country.... a large area where the founders of our republic were born and grew up remained outside [those] borders." Referring to the acceptance of Turkish borders by past secular governments, he said: “With total ignorance, they said what business does Turkey have in Iraq, Syria, and Bosnia? [But] these 'geographies' are each a part of our soul..." To Erdogan, Mosul is as much a part of Turkey as according to Milosovic, Kosovo was a part of Serbia.

      Far from helping to liberate Mosul, with his aggressive and expansionist policies, Erdogan is sowing the seeds of major future conflicts, which will entangle Turkey in futile wars with her neighbors. It is sad that US politicians, either through ignorance of Turkey’s past and Erdogan’s dreams about the future or through malice, are encouraging those delusions.

  • In Massive Intel Error, US Kills 80 Syrian Troops, Helps ISIL Advance
    • There have been a number of reports about a rift between the Secretary of State John Kerry and the Secretary of Defense Ash Carter over the US policy towards Syria.
      link to washingtonexaminer.com
      If there is any substance to those reports, they can explain the latest bombing as a deliberate act by the Pentagon to make a point to Kerry and to undermine his efforts.

      A few months ago, the Press TV also reported that US institutions were at odds over Syria. In the light of the latest developments, one wonders if there was some truth in those reports after all. link to presstv.com

    • I also hope that the attack was carried out by error, because if it were deliberate it would certainly make the situation much more complex, would spell the end of the “ceasefire” and would prolong the agony of the Syrian people. The least that can be said about it is that US policies and practices regarding Syria have been shambolic and counterproductive. As Russia’s Defense Ministry spokesman, Major-General Igor Konashenkov, said: “If the airstrike was caused by the wrong coordinates of targets than it’s a direct consequence of the stubborn unwillingness of the American side to coordinate with Russia in its actions against terrorist groups in Syria.” link to rt.com

      I believe that it would be much better for everyone if the United States would end its cat and mouse game and would collaborate with the Russians to defeat DAESH and bring calm to Syria, and then to argue about the nature of the next Syrian government. Trying to fight DAESH while at the same time working against the Syrian government and being hellbent on toppling President Bashar Assad does not make sense and the result is what we have seen during the past few years.

  • "Pigs! Crusaders!": US-Backed Fundamentalist Militias drive US Commandos out of al-Ray, Syria
    • Farhang Jahanpour 09/17/2016 at 12:03 pm

      What can the United States show for the billions of dollars spent on the so-called “moderate opposition”? It was clear from the start that there was a continuum and a conveyor belt ranging from “moderate opposition” to “moderate terrorists”, to “al-Nusra Front”, right up to ISIS. One group morphed into another and the weapons and the funds were handed over to those higher up in the chain of barbarity. The aim was to topple President Assad by any means possible, and the rest was window dressing.

  • "This Parrot is no More": The 2016 Presidential Election did not Take Place
    • Farhang Jahanpour 09/16/2016 at 3:33 pm

      Thank you for this truly remarkable and enlightening piece. As Orwell wrote during a very dark period in European history, "We are in a strange period of history in which a revolutionary has to be a patriot and a patriot has to be a revolutionary." Our modern politics as a whole seems to reflect a world of unreality. Words have lost their meanings. “Fair is foul, and foul is fair,” the witches in Macbeth said. “Hover through the fog and filthy air. From that spring whence comfort seemed to come, discomfort swells.”
      To quote Orwell again, "Political language — and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists — is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind."

      Sadly, this tragic situation is not only true of the United States, best represented by the latest election primaries, but is also true of most of modern politics. We must try to change this dangerous situation if we wish to survive as rational human beings.

  • Clinton: No US ground troops in Iraq, Syria; Trump: Steal Iraqi Oil
    • Farhang Jahanpour 09/08/2016 at 11:32 am

      The less said about Trump’s "foreign policy" the better, but Hillary Clinton has been associated with politics practically all her adult life. She served eight years as the first lady, followed by eight years as senator and four years as secretary of state. This is also the second time that she has run for president. For her to have such one-sided and simplistic notions of foreign policy is not only strange, but alarming. When some right-wing Republican neocons, such as the main architect of the Iraq War Paul Wolfowitz and the brain behind the surge in Iraq Robert Kagan are supporting Hillary Clinton and have said that they would vote for her, it says something about her policies. Hillary Clinton has been described as a “Wolfowitz in sheep’s clothing”.

      The fact that many of her backers and financiers are fanatical pro-Israeli tycoons has clouded her judgment. There are many of us who are sympathetic towards Israel and would like to see her continue in safety and security, but only in keeping with democratic principles and allowing the establishment of a viable Palestinian state on the occupied Palestinian territory. However, I find her blind devotion to Israel excessive and dangerous for other countries in the Middle East.

      During her speech at the Democratic Convention, when she turned to foreign policy, her first sentence was that her administration would ensure the security of Israel, as though the security of the nuclear-armed Israel is in imminent danger and that it was the most important issue on the face of the earth, despite all the major crises in the Middle East, US tension with Russia and China and a whole host of other important international issues. Hillary Clinton could make a great American president provided she could see beyond Israel and could pursue a foreign policy worthy of the only remaining superpower in the world.

  • Monsters to Destroy: Top 7 Reasons the US could not have forestalled Syrian Civil War
    • Farhang Jahanpour 08/12/2016 at 8:09 am

      I am glad to read this sensible and reassuring article, not only because it shows clearly that declaring a part of a sovereign country as a no-fly zone is not a minor affair, but that without a Security Council resolution it is an act of aggression that will involve major military campaigns and does not often end well.

      There have been calls by the usual suspects, such as the op-ed by Dennis Ross and Andrew Tabler in the New York Times, for a bombing campaign against the Syrian government. The neocons were actively behind the invasion of Iraq, the no-fly zone in Libya, and they have been continuously inciting attacks on Iran, even after the nuclear agreement that has ended the propaganda about Iran’s nuclear weapons. The thought of attacking and invading Middle East countries, of course with the sole exception of Israel, comes easily to them, regardless of the consequences for millions of innocent civilians. I hope that despite her current enthusiasm for a no-fly zone in Syria, when she comes to power Secretary Clinton will think twice about it.

      I am also glad to read your explanation for your initial no-fly zone in Libya, something that has always bothered me. The Western campaign against Libya had nefarious motives and was illegal as it went well beyond protecting the civilians that the Security Council resolution had authorized. I am reassured by your explanation about why you supported the initial call for the protection of the civilians in Libya, but you clearly distance yourself from what happened afterwards, which was illegal and catastrophic for the Libyan people.

  • Arab Street Shocked as Saudi Delegation Visits Israel
    • There is nothing wrong with Middle Eastern countries wishing to have normal relations with Israel. However, at a time when Israel refuses to budge an inch in its occupation and oppression of the Palestinians and is even expanding its illegal settlements, it is the height of hypocrisy by the Saudi regime that calls itself the defender of Muslims and the Saudi king who calls himself “the custodian of the two holy places” to enter into a covert relationship with Israel. The new ultra-rightwing Israeli defense minister openly says that he intends to crush and uproot HAMAS, which was elected by the people of Gaza when President Bush, trying to weaken Yasser Arafat, demanded that the Palestinians had fresh elections.

      It has been known for a long time that the Saudis have had covert relations with Israeli officials below the radar, and now the former head of the Israeli military intelligence even confirms that the Saudis provided strategic intelligence assistance to Israel during the disastrous 2006 Israeli invasion of Lebanon. It is no wonder that now the Saudis are forcing the rest of the Arab states to declare Hezbollah, which has been the only Arab force which has successfully forced the Israelis to end their occupation of Lebanon, a terrorist organization in order to support their new-found allies the Israelis, who also regard Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.

      I share your view that the Arab street will be shocked by such hypocrisy and collusion with the regime that oppresses their fellow Arabs in Lebanon and Palestine. It seems that the whole Arab world has forsaken the cause of the Palestinians in obedience to US and Israeli demands. This trend will be sadly accelerated under the next US Administration.

  • Disgraced Wasserman Schultz Resigns as DNC Chair, Gets Hired by Clinton
    • Farhang Jahanpour 07/25/2016 at 6:28 am

      Debbie Wasserman Schultz was an agent working for Hillary Clinton’s election. Secretary Clinton should accept responsibility and resign her nomination in favour of Bernie Sanders who seems to be in a stronger position to beat Donald Trump in the election.

  • Who Was the mystic Jalaluddin Rumi, and Whose Rumi Is He?
    • Farhang Jahanpour 06/18/2016 at 9:43 am

      Despite the unedifying competition between Afghanistan, Iran and Turkey to claim Rumi as theirs, the fact remains that he does not belong to any of them. Above all else, Rumi is a universal poet who believed in love, in tolerance, in humanity and in the unity of all religions as different paths to Truth. Rumi does not belong to the Taliban dominated Afghanistan, to Iran under the narrow-minded and sectarian mullahs, to Turkey that is becoming more and more intolerant and moving towards religious fundamentalism. Rumi described himself in the following words:

      Nor Christian or Jew or Muslim, not Hindu,
      Buddhist, Sufi, or Zen. Not any religion

      or cultural system. I am not from the East
      or the West, not out of the ocean or up

      from the ground, not natural or ethereal, not
      composed of elements at all.

      His creed was: “To love is to reach God”. If anyone wishes to claim Rumi let him/her first read his beautiful words and learn from them. He teaches that all religions and creeds are only imperfect manifestations of the same Truth:

      When that goodly Light took shape, it became many, like shadows cast by a battlement.
      Demolish the dark battlement, and all difference will vanish from amidst this multitude

      He taught us that beyond all the sectarian quarrels, “there is a field where we all meet”:

      Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
      there is a field. I will meet you there.
      When the soul lies down in that grass,
      the world is too full to talk about
      language, ideas, even the phrase each other
      doesn't make any sense.

      Rumi does not belong to fanatics.

  • British Trumpism? Anti-Immigrant "Britain First" White Terrorist kills Member of Parliament
    • Farhang Jahanpour 06/18/2016 at 2:33 pm

      If there was any need for further proof to show that Jo Cox’s assassin Thomas Mair was linked to far-right political groups, today when he was taken to court to be charged and asked to state his name, he said: "My name is death to traitors, freedom for Britain." Fortunately, political assassinations are very rare in Britain, but there are some far-right groups that would pose a much bigger danger if they had easier access to firearms.

  • Omar Mateen and Rightwing Homophobia: Hate Crime or Domestic Terrorism?
    • Whether the horrible massacre in Orlando could be described as a terrorist act or not, the fact remains that homophobia was at the root of that heinous crime. In the West too homophobia has a long history. In England, it was not until the 1967 Sexual Offences Act that homosexuality was decriminalized. Even so, Lord Arran, the author of the bill, called upon homosexuals “to show their thanks by comporting themselves quietly and with dignity… any form of ostentatious behaviour now or in the future or any form of public flaunting would be utterly distasteful.”

      In fact, some believe that apparently the legislation facilitated an increase in prosecutions against homosexual men. It was not until the beginning of the 21th century that “the offences of gross indecency and buggery” were repealed from statutory law. The jailing of the novelist and playwright Oscar Wilde from 1895-97 with hard labor on charges of homosexuality was a celebrated case. Many Christian fundamentalists in Europe and the United States still condemn homosexuality as being contrary to Christian teachings, but as the result of public education society at large has come to terms with it, although grudgingly.

      The sad fact is that there has not been a similar development in Islam, and Islamic countries almost uniformly regard homosexual acts as a crime, which in many cases are punished by death. It is time to raise our voices against this medieval mentality and try to educate the public in Islamic countries that far from being a crime homosexuality is a natural phenomenon among a minority of people, thus it is the will of God if he/she exists. As a Pushtun and probably a fan of the Taliban, Omar Mateen shared their homophobic views and that was perhaps the main reason for committing that horrendous crime.

  • Can Iran sue the US for Coup & supporting Saddam in Iran-Iraq War?
    • The actions of US courts in taking funds out of frozen Iranian asset will bring the US justice system into disrepute. In all advanced countries the judiciary is supposed to be independent of the executive power and of political machinations. Sadly, the actions of US courts and even of the Supreme Court resemble more the deliberations of Iranian courts or those of other despotic countries.

      If a country’s court is allowed to act as judge, jury and executioner and take funds out of other countries’ assets, nothing will remain of the international rule of law. This is a bad precedent that US courts are setting. What if Iraqi and Vietnamese governments, and indeed dozens of others, decide to sue the US for the harm inflicted upon them as the result of US action.

      Indeed, in the case of Iran, the United States has signed an agreement known as the Algiers Accord, which ended the hostage crisis, that prevent the United States from taking such cases against Iran. Some of the provisions of the Accord were:
      1- The US would not intervene politically or military in Iranian internal affairs;
      2- The US would remove a freeze on Iranian assets and trade sanctions on Iran;
      3- Both countries would end litigation between their respective governments and citizens, referring them to international arbitration…

      It seems the hawks in US Congress and even the judiciary who wish to torpedo the nuclear agreement with Iran are not giving up and are using every excuse, even if it harms US reputation and interests, to ensure the failure of that agreement. This is sad because if Iran and the United States could put past grievances behind and could cooperate to resolve some of the regional crises they could achieve a great deal for the region and for the world.

  • Reinventing Saudi Arabia after Oil: The Prince's $2 Trillion Gamble
    • Farhang Jahanpour 04/26/2016 at 10:12 am

      Just a minor point. According to a 2014 census, Iran’s total population was 80,840,713, with 71.4 per cent living in urban areas. Iran Population clock gives a figure of 79 939 794. Both of these might in fact be slight underestimates, because traditionally many tribal people in Iran are reluctant to take part in the census as they wish to remain independent of the government. So I think it is safe to give Iran’s population figure at 80 million.

      I believe Prince Muhammad Bin Sultan’s ambition to get Saudi Arabia off her oil dependence is unrealistic, because although Saudi Arabia has a large number of educated people, many of them educated in the West, the Saudis themselves have seldom engaged in a great deal of scientific or technological work, and without a strong scientific or industrial base it is very difficult to see a vibrant economy. The sanctions imposed on Iran did her great service, as she was forced to live on her own means and manufacture a large part of her requirements, including a large part of her military equipment. In the current Iranian budget, oil (calculated at $40 per barrel) accounts for 26% of the total revenue, while in Saudi Arabia the government is dependent on its oil and gas revenue for nearly 80% of its budget. Apart from her costly adventurism abroad, especially in Yemen, with her policies towards pilgrims and the mismanagement of the Haj pilgrimage, Saudi Arabia cannot count on increasing revenue from that source. During the September 2015 stampede in Mina, Mecca, at least 2,236 pilgrims were crashed to death. Some reports put the figure at much higher than that. Such repeated preventable accidents will put many pilgrims off travelling to Saudi Arabia.

  • Israel has detained 43 Journalists since October in Palestine, incl. 2 Westerners
    • Farhang Jahanpour 04/17/2016 at 1:27 pm

      Israel’s greatest strength lies in having some brave and open-minded individuals like Gideon Levy, and there are many like him, although unfortunately they form a small minority and are not taken seriously either in Israel or in the United States. The true friends of Israel should listen to these voices of sanity and should prevent the rightwing Israeli government from doing more damage to the Jewish and Palestinian populations in Palestine and elsewhere.

      The current apartheid policies of the rightwing Israeli government will have no outcome but to lead to more expansion, more oppression, more bloodshed, more isolation and ultimately a catastrophic end. There is still time to save Israel from itself by encouraging the Israelis to follow the path of reconciliation, legality and peace and to agree to a viable and lasting two-state solution. The present crop of the American presidential candidates, with the honorable exception of Senator Bernie Sanders, is moving in the opposite direction. This will spell disaster for Israel and Palestine, for the Middle East and for America.

  • How not to talk about Muslims after a Fringe Terrorist Group attacks
    • Farhang Jahanpour 03/23/2016 at 7:34 am

      Another excellent, factual and enlightening post. As a non-Muslim who abhors terrorism and radicalism, I find these posts extremely useful and reassuring, because they enable us to move beyond the simplistic and inaccurate portrayal of Muslims as terrorists by the media and by some politicians with sinister agendas. Following the terrorist outrages in Belgium, Donald Trump repeated his call for a ban on all Muslims entering the United States, and Ted Cruz went beyond his promise of “carpet bombing” ISIS in Syria, and called for the patrolling and securing Muslim neighborhoods.

      In the recent groveling speeches by presidential candidates at AIPAC, all speakers directed their venom towards Iran, with Ted Cruz calling Ayatollah Khamenei a “genocidal maniac”, not realizing that most of the terrorist acts in Syria and in the West are carried out by radical Sunnis who are the mortal enemies of Iran and the Shiite.

      I have been consistently critical of human rights violations by Iran’s clerical regime. However, it is remarkable that out of hundreds of suicide bombers who have been identified, there has not been a single Iranian national among them. There have been a few cases of suicide bombings in the Iranian province of Sistan va Baluchestan on the borders with Pakistan and Afghanistan, but they have been carried out by militant Sunni separatists who have attacked Shiite mourning ceremonies or Iranian officials.

      Unless we can correctly identify and isolate the terrorists we will not be able to win this ghastly battle. Accusing all Muslims of collusion or of sympathizing with the terrorists will only help the cause of the terrorists.

  • Hillary Clinton goes full Neocon at AIPAC, Demonizes Iran, Palestinians
    • Apart from her support for the disastrous 2003 invasion of Iraq, her flippant remarks about Qadhafi “we came, we saw, he died”, followed by her trademark laughter, her use of her private email for classified communication, etc. this speech by itself disqualifies Hillary Clinton from being the leader of the most powerful country in the world with global responsibilities.

      The United States has always been great and successful when she has abided by her democratic principles and the dreams of the early founders for justice, equality, non-entanglement in foreign conflicts and leading by example. Unfortunately, none of the Republican presidential candidates, nor Hillary Clinton represent those qualities.

      How can Clinton claim that she is an honest broker in one of the oldest and most contentious conflicts in the world when she is so fawning to an apartheid state that has occupied millions of dispossessed Palestinians for decades, that has amassed an arsenal of illegal nuclear weapons, that has committed many war crimes in repeated attacks against Lebanon and Gaza, that has assassinated as many as 800 Palestinians and other nationals including scientists with targeted killings, and that openly violates dozens of UNSC resolutions.

      If any other country had committed a fraction of those crimes, Clinton would have advocated invading it or “wiping it out” as she did in the case of Iran. Not only do these policies not endear America to 1.6 billion Muslims throughout the world, they are even alienating many Europeans who see America forsaking her role as the leader of the free world, and acting as a champion of invasions and regime changes, giving irrational support to a terrorist state and forsaking her legacy of freedom and democracy.

      The late Yasser Arafat often used to say that he found it less difficult to talk to Netanyahu and Sharon than to Dennis Ross and Martin Indyk, the representatives of a superpower who were allegedly acting impartially and in good faith as honest brokers to bring peace to the Middle East. The sight of American presidential candidates humiliating themselves in front of a lobby working on behalf of a foreign government is truly puzzling and demeaning. Bernie Saunders is the only candidate who has maintained his dignity.

  • Syria: More US Weaponry goes to al-Qaeda
    • Is it not time for Western and Saudi politicians to realize that their misbegotten plan to topple President Bashar Assad and replace his government with a Salafi-Wahhabi regime has failed with disastrous consequences? He is still in place but hundreds of thousands of Syrians have been killed, Syria has been destroyed, terrorism has devastated the Middle East, the latest example being the terrorist attack in the heart of Ankara yesterday, and waves of refugees have given rise to the emergence of far-right parties in Europe and America as seen by the triumph of ADF in yesterday’s local elections in parts of Germany and Donald Trump’s popularity among some sections of American population. Many European pundits are wondering if the EU can survive, while some are asking if Europe can survive link to human-wrongs-watch.net

      The Syrian people and indeed people in the Middle East have suffered enough. The West should try to rein in Saudi ambitions and allow the fragile ceasefire that has now held for close to two weeks in Syria to continue. The security of Saudi Arabia, Israel, Turkey and other countries in the Middle East should be safeguarded through a regional security plan, rather than by trying to topple regimes in Syria, Libya, Yemen, Lebanon and elsewhere.

  • Top 5 Crazy things Ben Carson said about Middle East and Islam
    • Farhang Jahanpour 03/05/2016 at 6:32 am

      It seems that no Republican candidate can do any harm to his popularity by attacking Islam and Muslims. However, Ben Carson made some other interesting comments. For a doctor he had some extreme views about abortion. He said abortion should be outlawed in all circumstances, including in cases of rape and incest, and compared it to slavery.

      Again, as an educated man, it is strange that he rejected the scientific consensus that human activity was at least partly responsible for climate change. He even said that he found the debate on climate change to be "irrelevant" and a distraction from protecting the environment.

      As someone who was so opposed to Islam, his tax plan including a 14.9% flat tax for all, except the poorest, is very similar to Islamic Khums or 20% of annual income. His plan would eliminate taxation of capital gains, dividends and interest at the individual level, and he described progressive taxation as socialism. In fact, he claimed inspiration for his flat rate system from the traditional tithe, saying, “I think God is a pretty fair guy.” According to tax experts, apparently his tax system “would increase the deficit by $3 trillion in just one year”.

      As a peace-loving Christian, he was pretty reckless to say “military force is not off the table when it comes to Russia.” If that did not usher in Armageddon I don’t know what would.

      Perhaps his most innovative foreign policy initiative was to force ISIS out of Iraq in order to allow that group to focus on overthrowing the Assad regime. I suppose after they took over all of Syria he would then carpet bomb them in just one country.

      However, what I find most troubling are Dr. Carson’s views about the literal interpretation of the Bible, including the first chapters of Genesis. In an interview in 2013, he said: “You know, I’m proud of the fact that I believe what God has said, and I’ve said many times that I’ll defend it before anyone. If they want to criticize the fact that I believe in a literal, six-day creation, let’s have [a go] at it because I will poke all kinds of holes in what they believe.” It shows that even an advanced level of education cannot remove the virus of religious fanaticism. No wonder the world is in such a mess.

      I think he would have a hard time even selling those ideas to Iranian ayatollahs. He will be greatly missed. He provided some relief from The Donald.

  • "Tehran is liberated territory" as Pragmatists & Centrists win Iranian Capital & Expert Assembly
    • Farhang Jahanpour 02/29/2016 at 3:43 pm

      Many thanks for this excellent and well-informed reporting of Iran’s recent election. As you point out, prior to the election, the reformist had called on their supporters not to vote for three most reactionary clerics.

      One- Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi, who replaced Hashemi-Rafsanjani as the chairman of the Assembly of Expert after the controversial 2009 election when Hashemi-Rafsanjani supported Mir Hoseyn Musavi. Yazdi was sometimes referred to as a possible future Supreme Leader.

      Two- The odious Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi who has said that in an Islamic Republic the votes of the people do not count as the country is run on the basis of the law of God. Instead of an Islamic Republic, he advocated an Islamic Government, with a supreme clerical leader who according to him is chosen by God and not by the people. He too had been been regarded as a possible successor to Ayatollah Khamenei. It is absolutely amazing that they did not even get elected.

      The third hardline cleric was Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, the chairman of the Guardian Council, who disqualified so many reformist candidates. He was elected but he came last in the list of elected candidates from Tehran. In any case, he is 89 and cannot remain at the head of that body for much longer.

      The Principlists (the extreme hardliners) had nominated Gholamali Haddad-Adel as the next speaker of parliament, a post that he had held a couple of times in the past, as they were sure of their massive majority in the next parliament. He is very close to Khamenei, and his daughter is married to Khamenei’s son. It is equally amazing that he too failed to even get elected to the parliament. So, despite all the disqualifications, the reformists and the moderates have won a stunning victory. They do not have an absolute majority, but with 83 from the reformist coalition and 55 independents and 10 from People’s Voice Coalition (as opposed to 64 belonging to the Principlist Coalition), President Rouhani will have a much more cooperative parliament and he may pay more attention to domestic issues and greater freedoms for the people. So far, he has achieved two major successes, the nuclear agreement and a good election, which has put an end to the Principlist domination for the past three terms.

  • Russia and Iran are allied in Syria – but are they as close as they seem?
    • Farhang Jahanpour 02/12/2016 at 7:33 am

      An excellent and balanced analysis of Iranian-Russian relations! It should also be added that while both Iran and Russia factor the West in their relationship with one another, Western policies towards Iran, especially the intense anti-Iranian views and actions of US Congress, are bound to push Iran towards Russia and China, while the general inclination of the majority of Iranians is to turn towards the West. Iranians have always felt more comfortable with European and American cultures than with the Russian and Chinese cultures. The pro-American sentiments of a million Iranian-Americans in the United States and millions of their relatives and friends in Iran is being wasted by the neocon hostility towards Iran, and this is reflected in Iran's political and economic relations with Russia and China.

  • Obama Condemns hatred of Muslim-Americans, Affirms their Importance to Nation
    • Farhang Jahanpour 02/04/2016 at 3:21 pm

      Many thanks for this enlightening post. It was one of President Obama's greatest speeches. As you point out, above all, he is a decent man, as well as a learned and farsighted man. I believe that he will be greatly missed when he has left office. At a time of polarisation in the world, including in the United States, we need such speeches more than ever to remind us of our common humanity.
      It should be pointed out, especially at a time when Muslim radicalism and terrorism is all the rage, that Islam has produced one of the greatest examples of mysticism in the world. Rumi, the translations of some of whose poems have become bestsellers in the United States, is described as the greatest mystical poet in the world. He had a universal vision and for him religious differences were meaningless. Here are a few lines of one of his poems:

      "Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
      there is a field. I will meet you there.
      When the soul lies down in that grass,
      the world is too full to talk about
      language, ideas, even the phrase each other
      doesn't make any sense."

  • Exasperated by Netanyahu, France Prepares to Recognize Palestinian State
    • Despite valiant efforts, President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have failed to force Netanyahu to budge over the expansion of illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory and to contemplate any two-state solution, or indeed any kind of solution short of total Israeli domination of the entire Palestinian territory. In his last year in office, President Obama should have another go at resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict by supporting a European and UN initiative to find an equitable solution to the conflict before another major war breaks out in the region. This would surpass his great success with the Iranian nuclear deal.

      With the grip that the Zionist Lobby has over Congress, no US Administration will be able to act as an honest broker in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Therefore, the only option would be to allow the UN and the rest of the world to take the lead and simply promise not to block their efforts by vetoing a Security Council resolution. With Saudi Arabia allying itself overtly with Israel and the rest of the Arab world in disarray, there would be no objection from the Arab side to the official recognition of Israel, and the present government in Iran is also the one most likely to agree with a reasonable solution to the conflict. Therefore, it is time for the US Administration to ally itself with those who wish to bring an end to this long-lasting conflict and illegal occupation and remove a major cause of anti-Western feeling in the Middle East.

  • Turkish Pres. Erdogan cites Hitler in case for Presidential System
    • Farhang Jahanpour 01/03/2016 at 6:45 am

      An excellent summing up of what is wrong with President’s Erdogan’s Turkey, and his desire for change for the wrong reasons. While he achieved great success in reining in the excesses of mainly military-dominated former governments and bringing Turkey closer to the real feelings of most Turks, it is clear that he has gone too far in his Islamization of the state. Another problem with him is that he is dreaming of reviving some of the glories of the Ottoman Empire by becoming too autocratic and subverting democracy in Turkey.

      The early policies of the AKP party, namely moderate Islam, zero tension with neighbors, reducing the power of the military, improving the judiciary and greater emphasis on democracy, were the policies that Turkey needed. As a moderate Muslim, Erdogan could have played a positive role in bringing the Middle Eastern countries together or at least preventing the sectarian conflict that is now ravaging the region. However, by supporting the insurgents and the terrorists in Syria in league with Saudi Arabia, and by clearly advocating a Sunni rather than a non-sectarian form of Islam he is doing a great deal of damage to Turkey and to the region, the same damage that Ayatollah Khomeini did with his Shiite revolution.

      After the barbaric executions in Saudi Arabia the region is set for greater sectarian tension. The present situation requires statesmanship and wisdom by the leaders of Iran, Turkey and other Middle Eastern states. Unfortunately, the opposite is the case.

  • Christmas and Christians in the Middle East
    • Farhang Jahanpour 12/26/2015 at 12:08 pm

      I have not yet seen any pictures of Christmas celebrations in Iran this year, but these are some of the photos of celebrations last year:
      link to google.co.uk
      Christianity was established in Iran during the early history of the church. There were flourishing Christian churches in Iran prior to the rise of Islam. At the moment, there are between 350,000-370,000 Christians in Iran, including between 250,000-300,000 Armenians, about 11,000-20,000 adherents of the Assyrian Church of the East, about 21,000 Roman Catholics and smaller number of other Christian denominations. The Vank Cathedral in Julfa, Isfahan, is one of the most beautiful churches, combing elements of Iranian and Armenian architecture:
      link to google.co.uk

  • Turkey reels as Putin imposes Stiff Economic Sanctions
    • After Russia, Iran is a major supplier of gas to Turkey and also has growing trade links. Turkey's problems would be compounded if Iran also joins in the ban on the sale of gas to Turkey and limits her trade. It would really put the squeeze on Turkey during the winter months, but it would be an unwise decision. The problems in Syria cannot be resolved without some sort of agreement and joint action by Iran, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, as well as the United States and Russia. Iran could play a more constructive role by trying to bring Russia and Turkey back together and form an effective coalition against ISIS.

  • Why did Turkey dare shoot down a Russian Plane? The Proxy War in Syria
    • A brilliant and truly well informed summing up of the situation and the danger of the events leading to a much greater confrontation! These blogs are indispensable to the understanding of the intricacies behind what is going on in the Middle East.

      This blog proves that the accounts about Turkey and Saudi Arabia's help for the terrorists had not not exaggerated, and far from being just a civil war or another manifestation of the Arab uprising, the events in Syria are a part of a geopolitical game being played by regional countries, backed by Russia and the United States. If the rise of ISIS and terrorist outrages in Beirut, Paris and Sharm al-Sheikh do not bring our politicians to their senses, nothing will. It is time to call a halt to this madness and move towards a proper resolution of Middle Eastern conflicts, including the Arab-Israeli conflict and the Sunni-Shia rivalry that are devastating the region.

  • Against Trump: 9/11 Muslim Candlelight vigils Sympathizing with US
    • Farhang Jahanpour 11/24/2015 at 1:54 pm

      After 9/11, a short video clip was released showing a few Palestinians celebrating, and it was alleged that they were cheering the events of 9/11. Later on, it was shown to be a malicious lie and the scenes of Palestinian jubilation had nothing to do with 9/11, but a show of support by a few Palestinians for the few ineffectual cruise missiles that Saddam Hussein fired at Israel during the first Persian Gulf war.

      As far as Iran was concerned, apart from many spontaneous candlelight vigils in Tehran and other Iranian cities in sympathy with the victims of 9/11, Iranian President Mohammad Khatami was one of the first heads of state to express deepest condolences to the “great American people”. His description of the terrorists was an apt description that equally applies to ISIS terrorists. He said: "They have self-mutilated their minds and hearts and tongues and can only communicate through the language of violence."

  • Did Daesh/ ISIL's Paris attacks bolster al-Assad? Spain calls him 'lesser of evils'
    • Farhang Jahanpour 11/20/2015 at 5:40 am

      Sorry for the typo about the date of the article by Seymour Hersh. As it can be clearly seen from the article, the date of Hersh's article was March 5, 2007, and not 2005.

    • There is no doubt that Bashar Assad has been a brutal dictator and has the blood of thousands of Syrians on his hands. Nevertheless, it should be remembered that he does not bear the sole responsibility for the catastrophic situation in Syria. It is true that the way that he coped with the demonstrations in the wake of the so-called “Arab Spring” was excessive and heavy-handed, but long before the uprising a campaign was waged by Sunni states, headed by Saudi Arabia and supported by the West, to topple him. The civil war in Syria was not a sectarian war between Sunnis and Shi’as (after all, Assad was a secular leader and his Ba’thist Party was not a Shi’ite outfit), but a geopolitical war waged by Sunni states that had been unhappy with the removal of Saddam in order to weaken Iran. It is the same war that is being waged in Iraq, Bahrain and Yemen.

      As early as March 2005, in an insightful article, Seymour Hersh wrote that in a shift of policy the Bush Administration had decided to confront Iran, and one way of doing so was to weaken Iran by removing Bashar Assad. Hersh wrote” “To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has coöperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.”
      link to newyorker.com
      The Arab Uprisings provided an excuse to many Middle Eastern and Western countries to spend billions of dollars in organizing Jihadi, Salafi fighters to fight Assad. Those forces morphed into al-Nusra Front and ultimately into the Islamic State. Removing Assad by force would reward the terrorists and their backers and would plunge Syria into even worse chaos. A better solution would be to organize a coalition of Western and regional countries, including Russia and Iran, to fight the ISIS, and once calm has been established to prepare for a transition period leading to UN-supervised elections, and then respect the result of the election whatever it might be.

  • Paris terrorist attacks: Can France avoid trap of fear and exclusion?
    • Farhang Jahanpour 11/15/2015 at 11:58 am

      Without wishing to question the motive of French authorities who say that they have found the passports of a number of the terrorists, this article in the Guardian says that we should take the reports with a pinch of salt. It is rather odd that terrorists who knew that they were going to blow themselves up would take their passports with them, and that although they were blown to pieces by their suicide vests their passports somehow remained intact:
      link to theguardian.com

  • Why EU Labeling of Israeli Squatter Goods could Affect Israeli Economy
    • As you point out, the amount of financial loss to Israeli economy as the result of new regulations is minimal, but what the Israelis are worried about is that this is just the tip of the iceberg and that other steps will be taken in future. For instance, nearly all major Israeli banks are involved in financing illegal settlements in the occupied territories and all of them are doing a great deal of business in Europe. If those banks are disqualified from operating in Europe, it would be a major loss to Israeli economy. If Iranian banks could be stopped from doing any business with foreign banks on trumped up charges of Iran having a nuclear weapons program, why can’t Israeli banks be thrown out of SWIFT for Israel’s real nuclear weapons and for the illegal operations of those banks in the occupied territories?

  • Netanyahu's Tango with the Ayatollah: Why Israeli & Iranian Hardliners Need Each Other
    • Farhang Jahanpour 10/07/2015 at 8:03 am

      It is absolutely true that the hardliners in Iran and Israel feed off one another. The Israeli leaders would very much like to have an Iranian president such as Ahmadinezhad than a moderate or reformist president such as Mohammad Khatami or Hassan Rouhani. In the controversial 2009 presidential election in Iran that resulted in Ahmadinezhad’s return to power, the Israelis and the American neo-conservatives were quite pleased with the result, because it was much easier to demonize him rather than a reformist candidate such as Mir-Hoseyn Mousasavi. Ephraim Inbar, director of the Begin Sadat Center at Bar Ilan University, said: "Just because Moussavi is called a moderate or a reformist doesn't mean he's a nice guy. After all he was approved by the Islamic leadership. If we have Ahmadinejad, we know where we stand. If we have Moussavi we have a serpent with a nice image." Mossad’s then Chief Meir Dagan told a panel of Israeli lawmakers: "If the reformist candidate Mousavi had won, Israel would have had a more serious problem, because it would need to explain to the world the danger of the Iranian threat."

      The same is true about Iran. If by an unlikely chance a moderate and reformist who is genuinely in search of making peace with the Palestinians and with Israel’s neighbors comes to power in Israel, the hardliners in Iran would find it much more difficult to demonize him.

  • Deal with Saudis? Why does the US care if Russia bombs al-Qaeda and its Allies in Syria?
    • Farhang Jahanpour 10/03/2015 at 1:46 pm

      Thank you for this brave and enlightening piece. It is time the truth was told about the tragedy that is unfolding in Syria. The Syrian people have suffered enough, their ancient country has been almost totally destroyed, millions of them have been turned into refugees and now Europe has to pay the price for the sectarian war that was mainly started by Saudi Arabia. You point out, “… it is both dangerous and shameful for the US to ally with groups that are in turn linked to al-Qaeda or have al-Zawahiri in their reporting line.” I would add, “It is shameful for the US to ally with Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Israel to distort the truth and destroy the Syrian people.” The United States has formed a coalition with a number of countries to fight against the terrorist who had been formed and funded by the same countries. This has been a joke from the start.

      Earlier today I gave an interview to Tehran Times that will be published in a few days’ time. In that interview, I referred to a Wikleaks cable sent in December 2009, in which former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton clearly identified Saudi funding for Sunni "militancy" in Pakistan and Afghanistan. She wrote: "Saudi Arabia remains a critical financial support base for al-Qa'ida, the Taliban, LeT [Lashkar-e-Taiba in Pakistan] and other terrorist groups." The same is true about the Sunni militancy in the Middle East. Vice-President Jo Biden in an unguarded moment admitted that America’s allies in the Middle East were the main backers of terrorism.

      John Hannah, Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, wrote in summer 2011 that a senior Saudi official had told him that the late Saudi king Abdullah believed that regime change in Iran would be highly beneficial to Saudi interests. He went on to say: "The king knows that other than the collapse of the Islamic Republic itself, nothing would weaken Iran more than losing Syria." It was precisely at that time that a plot to organize and fund terrorist groups to bring down Assad’s government took shape. As you have clearly pointed out in your earlier posts, Assad is no angel. He is a tyrant and has committed many war crimes, just as Saudi rulers are committing in Yemen at the moment. But the genuine initial uprising in Syria for greater freedom and democracy was hijacked and used by some Sunni states with Western backing to bring about a regime change in Syria. That plot has failed. It is time to admit it and to start fighting the terrorists. If Russia can help in that venture she should be welcomed. It is certainly hypocritical to criticize her.

  • How Bush/Cheney's War Plans delayed an Iran Deal for a Decade
    • Farhang Jahanpour 09/15/2015 at 6:04 am

      Rudolph, thank you for your comment about Iran’s amazing offer to the United States, to which I had referred in an earlier article in the series. It has been often claimed by Iran hawks in the United States that Iran's offer that was received shortly after the US invasion of Iraq was the sign of Iran's fear of the repetition of the same in the case of Iran. This ignores the fact that the original proposal was discussed during October and November 2002 among the highest levels of Iranian officials, including Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, at a time when nobody imagined that the Bush Administration would be foolish enough to attack Iraq. The delivery of the message to Washington by the Swiss Ambassador who was in charge of US interests in Tehran was delayed due to all the pre-war activities in Washington till after the invasion.

      Iran's offer was indeed intended a follow-up to Iran's assistance to the United States in ousting the Taliban when it seemed that the two countries were getting closer together. After 9/11 President Khatami was one of the first leaders in the Middle East to condemn that attack in the strongest terms and to offer condolences to “the great American people”. Thousands of people in Tehran and other Iranian cities took part in candlelight vigils in sympathy with the victims of those barbarous acts. So the offer of a “Grand Bargain” with the United States was a sign of goodwill, not of fear.

  • How Persian Literature shaped the culture of Iran and India
    • Farhang Jahanpour 09/09/2015 at 10:31 am

      It is refreshing to read an article about the common literary heritage of Iran and India. When Arabic was the language of Islam in the Arab part of the Middle East and North Africa, Persian was the main literary, scientific, diplomatic and religious language of Iran, Turkey, Afghanistan and a great part of the Indian subcontinent.

      The contacts between Iran and India did not start just with the Mongols, but went back to much earlier centuries when Abu-Reihan Biruni [or Abu al-Rayhan al-Biruni], the great Iranian historian, philosopher and astronomer visited India in 1017 and wrote about 20 important works on Indian history, philosophy, sciences and mysticism, including Kitab Fi Tahqiq Ma Li'l-Hind, Al-Athar Al-Baqiya 'An Al-Qurun Al-Khaliya (Translated by E. C. Sachau as, The Chronology Of Ancient Nations, and Alberuni's India) as well as translations of various Hindu religious texts.

      He was the first Muslim to introduce the Bhagavadgita and the Puranas to Muslim readers. In his chapters on theology and philosophy he also referred to Mahabharata, Ramayana, and Manu's Dharmasastra. Thus, he introduces some of the greatest gems in Hindu literature to the Islamic world. According to Sachau who translated many of Biruni’s works, "His work represents a scientific renaissance in comparison with the aspiration of the scholars working in Baghdad under the first Abbasid Khalifs." Those works in turn influenced Iranian Sufism.

      Biruni could be called the founder of the study of comparative religions. He was an inspiration for Prince Dara Shikuh’s Majma'ul-Bahrain some six centuries later. In fact, the contacts between the two civilizations and their literary traditions go back even to pre-Islamic periods with some common themes in the Avesta and the Vedas. The Indian Panchatantra was brought to Iran in the sixth century AD and translated into Pahlavi by Borzuyeh. It served as prototype for various fables and moral tales collected in Kalila va Dimna.

      In view of the current dominance of dogmatic and narrow interpretations of Islam it is good to be reminded of these scholars for whom truth was not limited to any one religion. After quoting at length from the Bhagavadgita, "How can a man think of death and being killed who knows that the soul is eternal, not having been born and not perishing; that the soul is something stable and constant; that no sword can cut it, no fire burn it, no water extinguish it, and no wind wither it?" as well as similar passages from Vishnu-Dharma, Mani and Patanjali, Biruni writes: "The same doctrine is professed by those Sufis who teach that the world is a sleeping soul and yonder world a soul awake, and who at the same time admit that God is immanent in certain places - e.g. in heaven - in the Seat and the Throne of God (mentioned in the Koran). But there are others who admit that God is immanent in the whole world, which they call his UNIVERSAL APPEARANCE. To those who hold this view, the entering of the souls into various beings in the course of metempsychosis is of no consequence."

  • Top Iran General Endorses Nuclear Deal with US, UNSC
    • The Iranian hardliners have a number of genuine concerns about the nuclear agreement. Contrary to the misinformation spread by Western media, Iranian hardliners, the revolutionary guards and the military are not upset about not being able to manufacture nuclear weapons. They argue that the agreement will lay Iran open to Western intelligence organizations and will make it more vulnerable to a Western attack.

      In a recent article in the hardline newspaper Keyhan it was pointed out that the United States and Israel had been threatening to attack Iran for a long time. One reason that they had not done so was because they were not quite sure about the extent of Iranian capabilities. Under the agreement, anytime that the West, perhaps prodded by MOSSAD, raises a suspicion Iran only has 25 days to comply with the request for the inspection not only of its nuclear but also of its military sites.

      Meanwhile, American and Israeli leaders still continue saying that all options are on the table. In fact, the head of Israel's military intelligence in April argued that the agreement would make it easier to attack Iran. He wrote: “[M]ilitary action against the Iranian nuclear program in 2025 would in all probability not be much more complicated or difficult than in 2015… [T]he Iranian program will be reduced compared to what it is today, intelligence about it will be better, and it will be less immune than it is at present.” They have also openly threatened that they would continue killing Iranian scientists.

      The Iranians have given a lot in return for what they have received, namely to have their right to enrichment under the NPT recognized, at least with many conditions attached. This makes the ballyhoo by Republican opponents of the deal the more ridiculous.

  • Iran's Khamenei Praises Nuclear Deal, but slams US Foreign Policy
    • This is an absolutely correct reading of what Ayatollah Khamenei was saying. Like President Obama who has his powerful, irrational opponents, Khamenei too has to take the Iranian hardliners with him. In the same way that President Obama says that the sanctions brought the Iranians to their knees and they gave in to US demands, Khamenei also puts a positive gloss on the deal.

      Another important point that you allude to is what he said about Iran not having initiated any wars in recent times and will under no circumstances wage a war against any country. I believe he was trying to send a message to Israel and may be some regional Arab rulers that, contrary to Netanyahu's fear-mongering about what Iran might do after the lifting of the sanctions, Iran does not intend to use her enhanced position to attack anyone or to start a war.

  • Iranian Police Arrest Leading Human Rights Activist Again
    • Farhang Jahanpour 05/06/2015 at 1:35 pm

      Here is a link to a powerful and brave speech by Narges Mohammadi at the graveside of Sattar Beheshti on the second anniversary of his death under torture. Beheshti's old mother is standing next to Narges
      link to youtube.com

  • Khamenei: US invented nuclear Myth; Iran will Never Invade another Country
    • Farhang Jahanpour 04/20/2015 at 11:00 am

      In an OpEd in today’s New York Times, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif remarked that Iran and P5+1 have agreed on parameters to remove any doubt about the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program. He also wrote: “With courageous leadership and the audacity to make the right decisions, we can and should put this manufactured crisis to rest and move on to much more important work. The wider Persian Gulf region is in turmoil. It is not a question of governments rising and falling: the social, cultural and religious fabrics of entire countries are being torn to shreds.”

      He then made a very important offer: “A regional dialogue could help promote understanding and interaction at the levels of government, the private sector and civil society, and lead to agreement on a broad spectrum of issues, including confidence- and security-building measures; combating terrorism, extremism and sectarianism; ensuring freedom of navigation and the free flow of oil and other resources; and protection of the environment. A regional dialogue could eventually include more formal nonaggression and security cooperation arrangements.”

      This is a restatement of what Ayatollah Khamenei said only a week ago, namely that the nuclear deal could provide a test case. If the West shows goodwill and good faith, it will pave the way for cooperation on many regional issues. It shows that Iran is not only interested in resolving the nuclear issue, but is willing to cooperate with the West on a whole range of regional issues. It is time that the West seized the opportunity and turned a new chapter in relations with Iran, which can help resolve many of the on-going crises in the Middle East. It is time to look forward rather than stick to old hostilities.

  • Iran: What did Khamenei really say about the Lausanne Agreement, and Why?
    • Farhang Jahanpour 04/11/2015 at 10:26 am

      Thank you for this accurate analysis that will correct some of the deliberate misconceptions and distortions in some comments published recently in the West, such as David Brooks recent uninformed OpEd in New York Times. Khamenei’s speech is quite consistent with what he has said before. On the one hand, he is saying that he does not trust the Americans because they have broken some of their former commitments. He could be referring to the additional sanctions imposed on some Iranian banks, companies and individuals after the Joint Plan of Action was signed. Some in US Treasury argued that they were not new sanctions but continuations of the old ones, which was quite disingenuous. It could be argued that in the same way that Khamenei’s remarks are intended at mollifying the hardliners, the US action was also intended to send a message to the powerful opponents of the deal in Congress that the administration was not going to go soft on Iran.

      Since the Lausanne agreement, the divergence in Iranian and US accounts about what was agreed has also been quite stark. Immediately after the end of the talks, the State Department published a detailed account of the agreement, which was quite at variance with the joint statement made by Foreign Minister Zarif and EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini. It should be remembered that Iran is negotiating not just with the United States but with the P5+1, and Mogherini is the spokesperson of that group, and presumably the statement endorsed by her is the only valid, mutually-endorsed account of the agreement. It could be argued that what the US administration has been doing by publishing its detailed version of the framework agreement has been to put their cards on the table for what they would like to see in the final agreement, and then to reverse engineer the forthcoming talks to that position.

      However, I believe that in their bid to mollify Israel and the hardliners in Congress both the State Department and President Obama are boxing themselves in and they will find that they not be to backpedal if they need to do so in order to reach a final agreement. The interviews given by President Obama and Secretary Kerry have been steadily moving closer to Netanyahu’s talking points.

      Although Khamenei’s remarks were mainly addressed to domestic hardliners, I believe that it would be a mistake to dismiss what he, as well as President Rouhani and Foreign Minister Zarif, have been saying about the sanctions and the scope of Iranian nuclear research and development. Khamenei pointed out correctly that he could not say whether he was for or against the agreement because so far there is no agreement but only a framework for a future agreement, with contradictory statements by both sides.
      The major problem in the United States about the nuclear deal with Iran is that it has revolved round the talking points provided by Netanyahu and his supporters in Congress and the US media, such as “Iran cannot be trusted”, “Iran’s possible weapons’ experiments”, “the breakout period”, “the number of centrifuges that Iran is allowed to have”, “the extent of nuclear research that Iran is allowed to engage it”, none of which has anything to do with the NPT. These are terms of capitulation imposed on a country that has been found guilty and defeated in a war and occupied, not the terms of negotiations between two or more sovereign states. So long as this attitude persists in the United States, I am afraid it will be impossible to reach a final agreement that will satisfy both sides.

  • 4 Things more Dangerous to Israel than Iran's civilian Nuclear Enrichment
    • Farhang Jahanpour 03/03/2015 at 4:17 pm

      In his condescending speech that belittled the intelligence not only of the US Administration but of all the other five leading countries that are negotiating with Iran, Netanyahu accused Iran of collaborating with Al Qaeda. Yet it seems that the reverse is true, and indeed it is Israel that supports Al Qaeda-affiliated al-Nusra Front. This is just one example of such collaboration with al-Nusra Front: link to lobelog.com

  • Iran's Khamenei throws support to a Practical Nuclear Deal with West
    • Farhang Jahanpour 02/09/2015 at 7:28 am

      Iranian leaders, including Ayatollah Khamenei, have fallen backwards to reach a satisfactory compromise with the West over Iran’s nuclear program. Ayatollah Khamenei has put his full support behind the efforts by President Rouhani, Foreign Minister Zarif and the Iranian negotiating team to reach a deal with the West. Khamenei’s recent speech seems to be an attempt to stop the tide of opposition by hardliners in the Majles, by the revolutionary guards and by rightwing elements who believe that Iran has already made too many compromises in return for very little concessions from the West.

      During the past couple of weeks there have been very strong comments in rightwing media openly criticizing Rouhani and Zarif for their failure to safeguard Iranian interests. The Iranian parliament, the Majles, has prepared some legislation that is the mirror-image of the legislation prepared by Sen. Robert Menendez and Sen. Mark Kirk, which would practically make it impossible to reach an agreement. The Majles legislation calls for safeguarding Iran’s inalienable nuclear rights, the normalization of Iran’s nuclear program, the talks should only deal with the nuclear issue, Iran’s right to rescind the final agreement if there is any violation by the other side, not roll back any of “nuclear achievements”, to continue research and development in nuclear technology, and all sanctions to be lifted in return for a comprehensive agreement.

      While not mentioning many of the above points, Khamenei stressed that all sanctions must be lifted “in the real meaning of the word”. Speaking on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference, Foreign Minister Zarif also echoed Khamenei’s demand and stressed: “All the sanctions must be lifted at once.” In an earlier statement, he said: “If an agreement is reached, it must be concluded in one go and must encompass both general principles and details.” The United States wants Iran to drastically curtail her nuclear activities, but wants to ease the sanctions gradually, may be over a period of ten years. This can be a deal-breaker.

  • Iran and the West on Revolution Anniversary: 36 Years of Futile Estrangement
    • Farhang Jahanpour 02/04/2015 at 2:24 pm

      Donald, I am not in any way dismissing the faults and responsibilities of the Iranians for what they have experienced during the past few centuries and I am also aware of the effect of colonialism in India, which was partly their own fault too. Otherwise, why should a huge and populous – and rich – country be so easily dominated by a much smaller country thousands of miles away! None of that however contradicts my argument that throughout the 19th and 20th centuries Iran was subjected to a great deal of aggression and hostile action by foreign powers. Iran lost huge chunks of her territory to Russia at the beginning of 19th century following the Gulistan and Turkmenchai treaties. Just compare Iran’s map towards the end of the Safavid period or under Nader Shah in the mid-eighteenth century with today’s Iran and you will see how much territory Iran lost during the 19th century as the result of foreign invasions.

      As you say, Iran was never formally colonized. One difference between Iran and India has been that while in India we can set a date for the beginning and the end of British rule, in the case of Iran there has been a continuous and insidious foreign involvement and interference in Iran’s affairs that has continued right to the present time. Iranians cannot name the date when foreign imperialism ended, and this is the reason for their continued suspicion of the West, and as I mentioned in the article the importance of the concept of independence to them. You probably know that shortly after the revolution there were at least two military coup attempts against the Islamic Republic. Both of them failed, but they have intensified Iranian suspicions of foreign involvement in their affairs.

      In the article I did not have time to refer to all the activities of the imperial powers against Iran or what Iran has suffered since the revolution. Mark Koroi has referred to a few other cases, except that the Iranian assets frozen by the Carter Administration were much more than $5 billion dollars, and all businesses that had some contracts with the Shah’s government were paid in full, something that is quite unprecedented after any revolution.

      Just to give you some idea of the scale of exploitation by the Anglo-Persian Oil Company, some studies have shown that in the year 1950 alone, the last year before oil nationalization, the company revenue and the tax that the British government received from Iranian oil exceeded Iran’s entire oil revenue during the previous 30 years from the time that oil was exploited in large quantities.

      During the Iran-Iraq war Iran was subjected to chemical attacks, as the result of which at least 20,000 were killed and tens of thousands were injured. There are still thousands of people in Iranian hospitals suffering from the effects of gas attacks. A Congressional report has shown the extent of US involvement in the supply of chemical weapons to Saddam (although the European and especially German role was greater), yet nobody has been prosecuted for any of those crimes.

      However, none of this means that Iranians were not partly responsible for their misfortune. What I meant to say was that the Iranian perception of foreign interference in their internal affairs has been partly responsible for their suspicions of foreigners and for the hostage taking, and also to show that although the taking of hostages was illegal, the West has not been completely honest or blameless in its dealings with Iran. Yet, despite all that has happened, I believe that the time has come to draw a line under the past and move forward.

  • Israel 'systematically mistreats' Palestinian children in custody
    • Farhang Jahanpour 01/28/2015 at 1:29 pm

      If you can bear it just watch the following documentary by an Australian TV station to see what goes on in "the only democracy in the Middle East":
      link to youtube.com

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