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Total number of comments: 245 (since 2013-11-28 14:42:47)

F Jahanpour

Showing comments 245 - 201

  • 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
      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

    • 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

      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

      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
      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

  • 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
      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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

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  • Netanyahu Imported by GOP to ensure Iran War
    • Farhang Jahanpour 01/22/2015 at 7:35 am

      Sorry the wrong link included, please use the following link
      link to

    • When Senator Lindsey Graham, a senior Republican senator, goes to Jerusalem and tells the leader of another country with an illegal nuclear arsenal: “I’m here to tell you, Mr. Prime Minister, that the Congress will follow your lead…” [on Iran] , link to then it is no surprise that Republican Majority leader asks Netanyahu to address a join session of Congress to issue his marching orders, with probably another 29 standing ovations as he received the last time he addressed Congress.

      It would be interesting to see how the majority of Americans feel towards such humiliating subservience to the leader of a client state that receives billions of dollars of American taxpayers money every year to engage in illegal expansion in occupied territories and the oppression of the Palestinians, thus making countless enemies for America throughout the world.

  • Fearing NSA, Writers in USA and Worldwide Avoiding controversy, keyword Searches
    • Farhang Jahanpour 01/06/2015 at 7:22 am

      Freedom of expression is the greatest guarantee of all other freedoms and the quality of life that we enjoy in democratic countries. It is essential that this valuable asset is not lost due to real or imagined censorship or surveillance. We must try to reverse the current trends by supporting sites like this one that go on explaining things as they are without any fear and favor. The report shows how important and indeed urgent the contribution of brave, independent minds is. Let us make sure that it continues.

  • Iran's Rouhani & Direct Democracy: Wants Referendum to Sidestep Hardliners
    • Farhang Jahanpour 01/05/2015 at 8:12 am

      What President Rouhani said about making use of referendum in his speech in a conference on Iranian economy was very significant. First of all, it should be pointed out that his talk was mainly about the economy and most of the speech was devoted to Iran’s economic problems, including corruption, excessive regulations and above all subsidies. He rightly pointed out that Iranian economy is excessively based on politics, both domestic politics and foreign politics. He said that the only way that the Iranian economy would grow was to end Iran’s isolation, adding: “Our experience shows that the country cannot have sustainable growth when it is isolated.”

      However, his few references to nuclear negotiations were also significant. He said that the negotiations had nothing to do with revolutionary ideals: “Our ideals are not bound to centrifuges. Our ideals are bound to our hearts, brains and determination.” This is reminiscent of what he said during the election campaign, namely “centrifuges should turn, but the wheels of the economy should turn too.”

      Although his reference to a referendum was about “the macro-policies of the country” and was in connection with the economy, nevertheless, his promise that he would hold referendums on major issues could soften some of the opposition by hardliners to his policies, including nuclear negotiations, because the majority of the people would favor resolving the nuclear issue and improving the economy.

      Having said that, it does not mean that he is able or willing to accept a blatantly unfair nuclear deal. Iran has already made most of the compromises in the nuclear talks and may be able to move further, but the key to the resolution of the nuclear dispute lies in President Obama’s hand, and whether he is prepared to accept Iran’s right to enrichment and whether he can take a political decision despite congressional opposition to start a new chapter in relations with Iran. My feeling is that if President Obama decides to go ahead with a deal, the Congress will not be able to prevent it due to the force of domestic and international public opinion. Iranian foreign minister has bluntly pointed out that Iran would not accept “a token nuclear program.”

  • Enter the Dragon: China offers Iraq Aerial Strikes on ISIL/ Daesh
  • Iran Pressures Media over coverage of Acid Attacks on Women
    • Farhang Jahanpour 10/29/2014 at 8:27 am

      While trying to oppose war against Iran on the excuse of her nuclear program or other trumped up charges, it is essential to highlight the dreadful human rights record of the Iranian clerical regime. Two of the most glaring examples of such violations are its treatment of women and the large number of executions. Iran has the largest per capita number of executions in the world. According to Amnesty International, last year alone at least 369 people were executed in the Islamic Republic.

      In the case of the recent acid attacks at women who were badly veiled according to religious fanatics, far from being isolated cases carried out by some rogue elements, they are a part of the deliberate policies of the hardliners who are trying to oppose President Hassan Rouhani’s policies of opening to the West and greater freedoms at home.

      The Iranian Parliament (the Majlis that is dominated by hardliners) has been debating a bill on “supporting those who promote virtue and prevent vice”. On October 16, 2014, Yalesarat, the mouthpiece of the ultra-fanatical “Ansar-e Hezbollah” or Hezbollah’s Helpers, published a report about a conference held by that group to enforce the strict observance of hijab by women. Speaking in that conference, Abdol-Hamid Mohtasham, secretary general of Ansar-e Hezbollah, ominously warned: “Our hands will not be tied in confronting those who violate religious injunctions.” He added: “The most important point that should be made in this meeting is that we will not stop only at oral warnings.” A few days later, eight girls were subjected to acid attacks in Isfahan.

      President Rouhani has denounced those actions and has called for the prosecution of the perpetrators. He rightly said: “The sacred call to virtue is not the prerogative of a select group of people, a handful taking the moral high ground and acting as custodians. It is upon all Muslims to exhort love, respect for other and human dignity." It is only right to highlight these human rights violations and call for serious action to be taken against those vile vigilantes.

  • US Negotiator: All the Components of an Enrichment Deal with Iran are on the Table
    • Farhang Jahanpour 10/25/2014 at 11:58 am

      Amy Goodman and Robert Kelly should be thanked for this excellent interview that should be seen by all the policy-makers in Washington if they are really interested in learning the truth, rather than being influenced by malicious propaganda. The issue of negotiations with Iran is extremely important for the peace of the Middle East and the world and for relations between Iran and the United States. The talks are reaching a very crucial and critical stage next month. This is why those who wish to sabotage those talks have also intensified their efforts in spreading lies and producing phony intelligence. This time they should not be allowed to lead the world to another war on the basis of lies, because a war with Iran will be even more devastating than the disastrous invasion of Iraq.

      There is a good deal on the tale. The interim agreement that was reached last November between Iran and the P5+1 has rolled back most of Iran's peaceful nuclear activities, including stopping enrichment at 20%, changing the design of Arak heavy water reactor to make sure that it will not be able to produce weapon-grade material, turning Fordo enrichment plant into a research only facility, as well as cutting back the stockpile of uranium enriched to 3.5%. Furthermore, Iran has agreed to more stringent inspections of its sites, on a daily basis, and the IAEA has regularly reported that Iran has carried out its side of the bargain.

      All those who are in favor of peace in the world should put their efforts behind a comprehensive agreement in November, because the alternative based on lies and false intelligence is too awful to contemplate.

  • Why is this Man Smiling? Iranian Officials say Confidant of US Deal on Nuclear
    • Donald and Mark! I agree with almost everything that you say. Personally, I am not in favor of nuclear energy for Iran when the country has not explored all other options, especially solar and wind energy, which is plentiful in Iran. However, Iran’s nuclear program is not solely about whether it makes economic sense or not. It is about much more than that. It is about hypocrisy and double standards. At the time of the Shah, all the factors that you refer to existed and Iran still had much more abundant deposits of oil and gas than at present, but the United States was encouraging Iran – or at least acquiescing – to build 23 nuclear reactors.

      The objections of Israel and neocons to Iran’s nuclear program have not been due to the fact that they think Iran has better options. Iran has been under U.S. sanctions since 1979 Islamic revolution. Bushehr nuclear reactor that was being built by Germany was nearly 90 per cent complete when the revolution took place, and Iran had already paid six billion dollars to Germany for it, which was a huge amount of money in those days. Iran asked Germany to complete the reactor, but under U.S. pressure they refused to do so.

      There is such a thing as national pride and self-determination in international relations. According to some reports, Iran has spent close to 300 billion dollars in actual payment or losses suffered as the result of her nuclear program. Iranian leaders and it seems the majority of Iranian people are not willing to give up that program just because Israel or U.S. hawks demand that they should do so.

      There is also such a thing as international law. Iran was one of the first countries to join the NPT and according to NPT Iran is entitled to have a peaceful nuclear program, and there is no provision in it about the number of centrifuges you can have or about the “breakout capability”.

      Iranians have said that they do not accept nuclear apartheid. All that the West is entitled to demand is to have a robust inspection policy to make sure that Iran’s nuclear program will not be diverted to military uses.

      My hope is that Iran and the West will be able to reach a comprehensive nuclear agreement next month, because the reasons against it are totally bogus. However, afterwards, when Iran has proved her point, I hope Iranian leaders will be persuaded to have a more rational energy policy and make greater use of solar and wind energy and make better use of their gas resources. There will be great scope for Western companies with knowhow in those fields to help Iran to diversity her energy sources, but at the moment the argument to stop Iran from pursuing her nuclear program is about wanting to use this issue to put pressure on Iran for other political purposes.

    • The issues surrounding the Iranian nuclear program have been mainly political and not technical. The world has known, at least since the 2007 NIE report, that Iran has not been pursuing a nuclear weapons program since 2003, if she ever did. Some officials close to Iranian nuclear program have said openly that at the height of the Iran-Iraq war when Iran was subjected to massive chemical attacks by Saddam’s forces, mainly provided from Western sources, and the fear of the development of nuclear weapons by Saddam, some officials in the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps suggested that Iran should develop those weapons to counter Saddam. However, according to the historian and investigative journalist, Gareth Porter, who has done a great deal of work on Iranian nuclear program, Ayatollah Khomeini rejected the suggestion and Ayatollah Khamenei too has issued a fatwa saying the making, storing and use of nuclear weapons is Haram, religiously forbidden.
      link to

      In any case, after the US invasion of Iraq and the fall of Saddam’s government, many Iranian officials have persuasively argued that an Iranian nuclear weapon would be more of a liability than an asset. However, anytime that the IAEA and the West have tried to reach a deal with Iran, Israel and her friends have provided a new excuse to scuttle the talks, such as the alleged information on a laptop that Iranian officials have been denied access to, which allegedly shows some experiments that could have military implications, or lately the issue of the “breakout capability” that has no place in the NPT.

      The question is whether the West still wants to make use of the nuclear issue to impose sanctions on Iran and restrict her role in the Middle East and beyond, or whether in the light of the latest terrorist threats in the Middle East and tensions with Russia it wants to put an end to Iran’s isolation and ask for her help in tackling diverse problems in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and beyond. Even apart from all these considerations, it is time for the West to settle the nuclear issue with Iran and lift the sanctions, because failing to do so would undermine the NPT and would show the lack of sincerity regarding real nuclear proliferation in the Middle East, such as Israel’s arsenal of nuclear weapons.

  • Palestine goes to UN Security Council to Demand Israeli Withdrawal by 2016
    • Farhang Jahanpour 10/02/2014 at 12:49 pm

      After having pinned their hopes on the United States as an honest broker for many years and having been disappointed time and time again, the Palestinians have no other option but to take the matter into their own hands and go through the UN and ICC route. If America vetoes a resolution again, it will show the whole world, including the Muslim and the Arab world, that the American government only does Israel's bidding. This could not be in the long-term interest of the United States and it might persuade enough Americans to force their government to change course. American electorate has certainly had enough of Israeli belligerence and the attitude towards Israel's extremist policies are changing.

  • Obama & Airstrikes to Protect Iraqi Kurds: 1991 Deja Vu all Over Again
    • Although I wish the air strikes or any other military action could be taken jointly with some regional countries on the basis of a Security Council resolution, there is no doubt that the Yezidis, the Christians, the Kurds and the Shi'ites in Iraq need to be saved from the barbaric attacks of IS terrorists. We should not underestimate the threat posed by these groups to the entire region, because they have an extreme militant Sunni ideology that even scares the Al Qaeda and the Saudis who bankrolled them, and now they have also succeeded to occupy a large territory in Iraq and Syria. With a base like that, huge quantities of military equipment that they plundered from military bases in Iraq and Syria, billions of dollars that they stole from the banks in Mosul and from the sale of oil, they can pose a threat not only to Iraq and Syria, but in time to Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Iran and even Saudi Arabia. They have to be stopped before they gain greater strength.

      If America launches a unilateral attack on them she will be marked as their main enemy, and if Iran alone takes them on it will only confirm that it is a war between the Shiites and the Sunnis that will again devastate the entire region. Saudi Arabia claims that IS poses a danger to the kingdom, and Egypt is also fighting against "the terrorists". Parts of Turkey have already been destabilized as the result of the spillover from Syria. If at the moment, due to the unnecessary new Cold War with Russia, it is impossible to get a Security Council resolution, the United States must act together with Iraq, Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Iran to form a united front against IS and then push for some real reforms in those countries. The battle should not be between the United States and IS, or the Shiites against the Sunnis, but a joint Sunni-Shia campaign with the help of the West against terrorism. Whether these terrorists would have existed without the invasion of Iraq and the arming of the insurgents in Syria is now immaterial. The fact is that now the world is facing the scourge of the most virulent form of terrorism that has to be stopped before it is too late.

  • A Discourse of sexualized violence rises among the Israel Firsters, including on Bill Maher
    • Farhang Jahanpour 08/07/2014 at 9:35 am

      In all wars women and children are the greatest victims. One image that has stayed in my mind has been of groups of Afghan women escaping with their children from one bombed-out building to another. There are allegedly over one million widows in Iraq who nevertheless have to do as best they can to take care of their children. As if all that were not enough, now we have such vile racist and sexist taunts against the women of Gaza, and rape has also been used as another form of humiliation and punishment in many recent wars. It is time for women and sane men to rise up and demand an end to wars waged by violent macho men.

  • Israel caused $5 billion in damage to Gaza, 40,000 Homes Destroyed or Damaged
    • Farhang Jahanpour 08/06/2014 at 5:46 am

      Why is the international community so reluctant to confront the Israelis for their war crimes and demand the payment of reparation for the enormous damage that they have caused? Over 1900 Palestinians who have been killed cannot be brought back to life, but surely Israel should pay for the healthcare of some 10,000 Palestinians, the vast majority of them civilians, who were injured.

  • Israel Still Holding Gaza Civilians Hostage, Doesn't Get Geneva Conventions
    • Why is it "legitimate for Israel to seek the disarming of Hamas", while Israel that has a long record of aggression against all her neighbors and the Palestinians under its occupation should be armed to the teeth? That kind of peace would be the peace of the grave, and it would mean that Israel could attack the defenseless Palestinians every time she wishes as she has done regularly in the past, while the Palestinians have no means of defending themselves. Surely, a more equitable solution would be to ban the sale of all weapons to Israel until a lasting solution has been found to the Arab-Israeli conflict and a free and viable Palestinian state has been established.

      In view of the level of Israeli atrocities during the past few weeks when they have shown that they stop at nothing in order to crush their opponents it is high time to put Israel's arsenal of nuclear weapons on the table and remove that mortal and existential threat to the whole of the Middle East and beyond. Anything short of that would be highly irresponsible as Israel’s nuclear arsenal poses a grave danger to international peace and security and encourages proliferation.

  • Top 5 Ways the US is Israel's Accomplice in War Crimes in Gaza
    • Farhang Jahanpour 08/04/2014 at 3:39 pm

      The full extent of American-Israeli military and intelligence collaboration is gradually becoming clearer due to some leaked documents. The following article and especially the link to NSA Intelligence Relationship with Israel reveal how intimate and detailed those relations are:
      link to

  • In Palestine, R2P isn't Dead; It was never on the Table
    • Farhang Jahanpour 07/27/2014 at 3:17 pm

      This is why many people in the non-Western world see lofty-sounding ideas such as R2P, humanitarian intervention, regime change in the name of democracy, non-proliferation, etc as mere tools in the hands of powerful countries to use against the countries that do not give in to their dictates, while ignoring many worse atrocities in countries that are their outposts or are subservient to them, such as the carnage that we are witnessing in Gaza.

  • In the Deaths of 3 Israeli Teens, Likud Policies are also Implicated
    • Farhang Jahanpour 07/01/2014 at 6:30 am

      While everybody condemns the murder of the three Israeli teenagers and sympathizes with the bereaved parents, it must be stated that they are the victims of a conflict that has gone on for far too long and involves the brutal occupation of Palestinian lands and the denial of their rights. Many crimes are perpetrated by Israeli forces almost on a daily basis that often go unreported. Dr. Mustafa Barghouti, a Palestinian peace campaigner and advocate of non-violence, said in an interview on BBC radio this morning that two Palestinian children had been killed by Israeli forces the day before the three Israeli teenagers, and that since the kidnapping of the Israeli teenagers Israeli forces have demolished the houses of two suspects, without providing any proof of their involvement, and have raided the houses and arrested more than 400 Palestinians, including some prisoners who had been released as part of a deal with the Palestinian Authority, and have killed 11 people in the course of those arrests. Israeli forces have also attacked Gaza and are warning of much worse to come.

      What Israel is seeking is not justice but vengeance and collective punishment, and the ultimate aim is to further weaken the Palestinian Authority, break its unity with Hamas and put an end forever to any hope of a meaningful peace with the Palestinians. Danny Danon, the Deputy Defense Minister has hinted at what Israel has in mind: “This tragic ending must also be the ending of Hamas! The nation is strong and ready to absorb [attacks] for the sake of a mortal blow against Hamas. … [W]e have to destroy the homes of Hamas activists, wipe out their arsenals everywhere, and stop the flow of money that directly or indirectly keeps terror alive… make the entire Palestinian leadership pay a heavy price.”

      While the world should demand justice for the death of three innocent Israeli teenagers, it should also demand justice for a large number of Palestinians including two children who have already been killed as the result of Israel’s collective punishment, and should demand an end to the occupation and the establishment of a viable Palestinian state in keeping with international law.

  • Top 5 Reasons US Aid to "Moderate" Syrian Fighters is Quixotic
    • Thank you for another clear-sighted and informative column.
      Oh what a tangled web we weave,
      When first we practise to deceive!
      WikiLeaks have shown that after the failure of Israel’s disastrous invasion of Lebanon in 2006 to crush the Hizbullah, U.S. and Israeli officials decided to cut off the link between Iran and Hezbollah. Saudi King Abdullah said: “Nothing would weaken Iran more than losing Syria.” The result has been the destruction of Syria, the death of close to 200,000 people, and the creation of the Al-Nusra Front and the ISIS, exactly as happened with the creation of the Afghan Mujahedin that gave us Al Qaeda and the Taliban. Clearly both the Syrian government and the insurgents have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity, but as you point out the victory of ISIS in Syria would create a situation in the entire Middle East that is hard to imagine.

      The fact is that in recent months the Syrian government has been gaining the upper hand and has defeated the terrorists in a number of cities, including Homs where the residents who had fled are beginning to return. Also there was an election in Syria, no less valid than the elections in Ukraine or Egypt, which showed that the majority of the Syrians voted for Bashar Assad. To spend a further $500 million, in addition to all the funds that the United States has already spent overtly or covertly, to train and arm what the White House called “appropriately vetted” members of the Syrian opposition in the midst of a raging civil war is the height of folly, and is like pouring more fuel on the fire. This time the result will be much more catastrophic than the training of the Mujahedin. The aim in both Iraq and Syria should be to defeat the terrorists first and then push for more inclusive governments.

  • Cons of Going to War against Iraq (Cole, Jan. 2003)
    • Although many people had warned against a war in Iraq and many experts had argued that the claims of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and links to Al Qaeda were fabrications, and the term "the dodgy dossier" had been already coined for Tony Blair's shameful file about the Iraqi WMD, yet your article above is a remarkable and extremely perceptive and detailed account of what followed. What has happened in Iraq since the illegal invasion has followed almost word-for-word everything that you had predicted in your lecture and note. These very useful and well-informed comments still continue, and we are very lucky to have access to such detailed and intelligent account of what is really going on in the Middle East. Many thanks for this, and please keep it up.

  • The Second Iran-Iraq War and the American Switch
    • Many thanks for a fantastic summary of the Iran-Iraq war and its consequences. The successes of the ISIS are stunning and it is clear that they receive quite a lot of backing from a variety of sources. However, the silly game of Iran-bashing and geopolitical considerations have run their course. It is no good going over the terrible mistakes made by various US, Iranian and Iraqi governments. What is important is that the countries in the region will unite to put out this fire and gain the upper hand, because otherwise the Middle East and the world will be faced with a catastrophe greater than anything experienced since the Second World War.

      The misadventure in Syria to cut off Iran’s link to Hezbollah has failed, and the terrorists have not only destroyed Syria, but now they are busy destroying what is left of Iraq, and soon they will turn their attention to Turkey, Jordan and beyond. It was the US-Iranian cooperation under the Shah that established some order in the region. No matter how hard it is for some people to accept it, only the United States and Iran with the cooperation of Turkey are capable of stemming the tide of militant Sunni radicalism. Let us hope that some politicians who have a short-term view of history will come to their senses and realize that they have to reverse course and follow a new political path in the region.

  • Dear Sen. McCain: No, the Taliban Prisoners didn't Carry out 9/11; but you Supported Muslim Radicals
    • Some U.S. politicians seem to have short memories. The Taliban was mainly created by Pakistan, with full U.S. support. After the fall of the Soviet Union, the United States had her eye on oil and gas resources in Central Asian republics and was determined to get to them through Afghanistan, thus bypassing both Iran and Russia. In October 1994, Pakistani Interior Minister General Naseerullah Babar, trying to show that Pakistan was a potential outlet for Central Asian trade and the export of its gas and oil deposits, made a highly publicized trip across Afghanistan, via Kandahar and Heart, and then organized a trade convoy to cover the same route. This convoy was protected by the Taliban, and it was the first time the world heard about the Taliban, which was armed and trained by Pakistan’s ISI, with massive Saudi financial support.

      On 27 September 1996, the Taliban conquered Kabul. As soon as they reached Kabul, they dragged the former President Najibullah and his brother Shahpur Ahmadzai from the UN headquarters and hanged them in public view without any trial. Some 50,000 people fled Kabul after the city fell to the Taliban. Three days before the fall of Kabul, a Taliban aircraft was hijacked by its own crew and flown to an Afghan airfield. The pilot allegedly said that he was defecting to draw attention to Pakistan’s involvement in Afghan affairs. Seven Pakistani officers were on the aircraft. They were captured by the government in Kabul and were put on public view in front of the international media.

      On October 2, 1996, shortly after the Taliban came to power, the American Oil Company UNOCOL in a statement said that it regarded the Taliban’s new dominance in Afghanistan as a ‘positive development.’ It argued that a single government there would bring stability and improve the prospects of proceeding with plans to build oil and gas pipelines through Afghanistan. In July 1997, a two billion-dollar agreement was reached between UNOCOL, Delta Oil of Saudi Arabia and the Pakistani and Turkmen governments, which provided for the construction of a gas pipeline connecting Turkmenistan to Pakistan, through Afghanistan, to commence at the end of 1998.

      On April 17, 1998, the US ambassador to the United Nations, Bill Richardson, visited Kabul at the head of a delegation, including the US ambassador in Pakistan, and met with the chairman of the Caretaker Council, Alhaj Mola Mohammad Rabbani. Richardson was quoted by the Taliban’s Bakhtar Information Agency, as saying: “The US considers Afghanistan as its friend and respects Islam and Islamic values and wants to have close relations with Islam. The US completely defends peace, the independence and territorial integrity of Afghanistan and wants to resolve all issues related to America peacefully, and the US has never spared any efforts in this.” Senator McCain seems to have forgotten all these details about U.S.'s good old friends, the Taliban.

  • Iran's Rouhani pulls a Pope Francis: 'Let People choose own path to Heaven'
    • Iran is in the midst of a culture war whose outcome is more important domestically than the outcome of the nuclear talks. Ever since the victory of the Islamic revolution, the mullahs have imposed an austere, morbid and gloomy way of life on millions of Iranians, something akin to what was done by Christian Puritans or even worse. Twenty-five years after Khomeini’s death and 25 years of the equally austere rule by Ayatollah Khamenei, Iranians would like to break some of the chains that bind them, but the hardliners are determined to prevent this from happening.

      The battle is between two groups: On the one hand are millions of mainly young, fun-loving, educated Iranians and the reformist leaders who wish to take Iran out of the Middle Ages; and on the other side there are the hardline and narrow-minded clerics, led by Ayatollah Mesbah-Yazdi, Ahmad Khatami and other rightwing clerics whose vision of Islam is not all that different from that of the Taliban. They are backed by the Revolutionary Guards and the Basij paramilitary forces that are in a mutually profitable alliance. What is at stake are two different interpretations of Islam, one that sees it very much as the harsh religion of Arabian deserts of 1400 years ago, and the other that wishes to see a new interpretation of Islam that is more in keeping with the realities of the modern world. The irony is that in Sufism Islam has produced one of the most tolerant, open and spiritual mystical literatures in any religion. Modern world will win, but if the militant clerics try to resist too violently modernization will come with a vengeance.

  • Pastor Hagee: It's not Climate Change, It’s The Return Of Christ
    • Farhang Jahanpour 06/01/2014 at 7:16 am

      Some Shi’is (those who believe in 12 Imams) believe that the 11th Imam, Hasan al-Askari, had a son born on 29 July 869 who succeeded him as the 12th Imam at the age of five after the death of his father. As he was a child he communicated with his followers through his deputies, who received all the donations on behalf of the Hidden Imam and transmitted the answers that he gave to various questions by the believers. That period was called the period of Minor Occultation. When the Hidden Imam was nearly 71 years old, the followers became restless because they wanted to see him. As the fourth Deputy Abul-Hasan Ali ibn Muhammad al-Samarri insisted that the 12th Imam was still in hiding and only communicated through him, there is a story that someone brought a sack of money and said he wanted to donate it to the Hidden Imam, but he wanted a sign or a miracle from him. He asked al-Samarri to ask the Hidden Imam how much money he had in his sack and if the amount was correct he could have the money to take it to the Hidden Imam. At this point, in the year 941, al-Samarri said that the Hidden Imam had got angry that someone had decided to test him, and sent a letter to his followers saying that he had postponed his reappearance and had started the period of his Major Occultation. The Shi’i faithful are still waiting for the end of the period of his Major Occultation and the reappearance of the Hidden Imam with Jesus.

      I have got it on good authority that as Pastor Matthew Hagee mentioned some climatic changes as firm evidence of Christ’s imminent return, Jesus is angry because some people are trying to predict his Second Coming and expediting his return. So he has decided to postpone his Second Coming by another 1,000 years. So I am afraid we can expect many more climatic catastrophes before the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.

  • Israeli PM Netanyahu Vows never to Return Occupied E Jerusalem to Palestinian Residents
    • In the light of Israeli intransigence and Palestinian helplessness, it seems the only solution for Jerusalem is to revive what was envisaged in the initial UN Partition Plan, namely declaring Jerusalem as an international city run under UN administration with the followers of all faiths and of none having equal access to this ancient city.

      Jerusalem that owes its name to the Canaanite deity Salem (the City of Salem) came under Jewish rule for a short period under David and Solomon. The entire glory of Jerusalem and what remains of it belongs to the period when it was under Christian and Islamic rule. To claim this city entirely for the Jews is wrong and will never be accepted either by the majority of Muslims or Christians. It was in fact the fate of the city that proved the main stumbling block to reaching an agreement between Yasser Arafat and Ehud Barak at Camp David talks. Instead of making it a scene for constant violence and hostility, it should be turned into a symbol of reconciliation between the three Semitic faiths by brining it under international administration and a city open to all.

  • Egypt: Passive Aggression and Counter-revolution: Voters, Youth Stay Home
    • One has to applaud the Egyptian people for having boycotted the sham election with their low participation. The Egyptian people have voted by not going to the polls. Many Egyptians might have disliked former President Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood, but they should have been removed through the ballot box not by a bloody military coup. The generals have killed over a thousand protestors since the coup, have sentenced many more thousands to death, and have arrested tens of thousands of Egyptians for holding different political views.

      Should not this humiliatingly low turnout, despite all the intimidation, show US officials that the election is a sham and that the regime that emerges out of it lacks legitimacy and should not be recognized? The American government should officially call the violent overthrow of a democratically-elected government by its proper name, namely a coup, and should stop funding it and cooperating with it. Such policy may anger the military junta and its Saudi backers, but millions of people in Egypt and throughout the Middle East are watching how the United States as the champion of democracy reacts to this travesty of an election. It is inconceivable that after the Arab uprisings the politicized young people who constitute the majority of the populations in the Middle East will put up with military juntas for long. The future belongs to freedom and democracy, and the United States should be on the right side of history.

  • Obama's Just Right Foreign Policy
    • Farhang Jahanpour 05/26/2014 at 7:17 am

      It is truly amazing that after the disastrous warmongering neocon policies of the Bush era some of them still have the audacity to criticize President Obama for not having started more wars. Looking at President Obama’s foreign policy, it can be argued that it has been understated but very effective. For a start, President Obama has repaired some of the damage that was done by the previous Administration to America’s global prestige and reputation. Most Americans do not seem to realize that many global polls describe the United States as the biggest threat to world peace. Surely, this impression is not one that the Americans would like to have of themselves and this does not augur well for any concept of American leadership. link to

      As far as Russia is concerned, Obama’s non-violent policies have diminished Russia’s position and power in the world and in her own neighborhood. Ukraine had always been regarded as an indispensable and inseparable part of Russia. As the result of what has happened during the past year, Russia has lost Ukraine and has held on to Crimea that was arguably hers for the past few centuries. However, in return for gaining that small bonus, Russia has turned Ukraine into an enemy state, firmly in the Western camp. There has just been an election in most of Ukraine and an avowedly pro-Western tycoon with close links to the EU, the US, and the World Bank has come to power. How can this be regarded as a victory for Russia?

      Obama’s single most glaring failure has been in forcing Israel to allow the establishment of a Palestinian state and to put an end to her expansionism and the occupation of more Palestinian lands, but unfortunately he is in very good company in that, because the record of failure goes right back to President Truman and all his successor. Given the grip of pro-Israeli lobbies in the United States, it is clear that no U.S. president can play the role of an honest broker in that dispute and if there is going to be a solution to that conflict it has to come from the U.N. and other governments that are less beholden to Israeli lobbies.

      President Obama greatest foreign policy achievement has been to start serious negotiations with Iran after 35 years of mutual hostility. If he can pull this off, and it is still a big if given the attempts of the neocons and Congress to prevent it, he would have not only put an end to decades of unnecessary estrangement with one of the largest and most influential countries in the Middle East, but a rapprochement between the United States and Iran can also resolve many other problems in the Middle East, including Syria, and not least the looming and dangerous sectarian conflict between the Sunnis and the Shi’is that would destabilize the entire region.

      Although President Obama has certainly not lived up to all the high expectations of those who wished for a real change in the direction of U.S. foreign policy, I would certainly give him a B grade for having prevented more disastrous wars. President Obama would do well to stress Thomas Jefferson’s dictum “Peace, commerce and honest friendship with all nations; entangling alliances with none” for the remainder of his term.

  • Iran "Happy" Video Arrestees out on Bail but Pharrell Cover goes Viral
    • Farhang Jahanpour 05/22/2014 at 11:50 am

      What the young dancers did was brave and they should be applauded for pushing the boundaries. They knew what they were doing and its possible consequences, and still they went ahead with it. If Iran is not going to experience another violent revolution and a great deal of bloodshed, it has to learn to accommodate the wishes of its young and educated population.

      President Rouhani understands this and has called for greater openness. Referring to what Ayatollah Khamenei has called “a Western cultural onslaught”, Rouhani said this weekend in a speech: “Even if there is an onslaught, which there is, the way to face it is via modern means, not passive and cowardly methods.” He rightly asked: “Why are we so shaky? Why have we cowered in a corner, grabbing onto a shield and wooden sword, lest we take a bullet in this culture war?”

      These are fine words, but he has to match these words with bold action. Many people refer to the former reformist President Khatami's failed attempt to reform the clerical regime and drag it out of its medieval mind-set, but times have changed. After eight years of Ahmadinejad’s failed presidency people have seen the bankruptcy of the fundamentalist mullahs and hardline politicians even more starkly than ever before.

      President Rouhani received a decisive mandate for change from the electorate, while the share of the votes of the fundamentalist candidates was in single digits. He should call their bluff and he should know that he would get the support of the majority of the youthful and educated Iranian population. The hardliners are not going to give up without a fight, but if President Rouhani does not succeed to rein them in, the fight will be bloody and destabilizing. Iranian people should help him succeed in isolating the hardliners and bring about change peacefully.

  • Why Oklahoma's Botched Execution is an Argument for ending Death Penalty
    • Farhang Jahanpour 05/01/2014 at 7:04 am

      In Britain, the Parliament abolished capital punishment for murder in 1965, and it was abolished in all circumstances in 1998. The last execution was carried out in 1964. There has been no indication that ending capital punishment has resulted in an increase in major crimes. On the contrary, crime rates have been falling for many years. The state should not be allowed to execute its citizens, for you cannot stop one crime with another crime. An eye for an eye is a barbaric teaching that belongs to less civilized times. As Gandhi said "An eye for an eye will make the whole world blind."

  • The Impunity of American Torture: From Abu Ghraib to Sen. Feinstein's Brawl with the CIA
    • Farhang Jahanpour 04/29/2014 at 5:41 am

      Thank you for publishing this detailed and well-documented column by Karen J. Greenberg,
      drawing our attention to the continued legacy of torture and the lack of any action to stop it. It is right to keep on at it until something is done about it because torture is corrosive and does not affect the hapless victims alone but also the perpetrators and the whole of community. The Shah’s regime in Iran did many good and many bad things. The economy certainly did well under him and apart from the lack of political freedom many other forms of social freedoms flourished under him. As someone who lived in Iran during the last years of his reign and who witnessed the way that some students who had taken part in demonstrations were arrested and a year or so later they returned emaciated and looking like ghosts of themselves, I became convinced that the one factor that contributed most to the revolution was the practice of torture by the SAVAK.

      Most people by nature are appalled by inhumane treatment of their fellow human beings and turn against the perpetrators of those crimes. Many horrible things were done during the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan but the pictures of torture inflicted on poor Iraqis at Abu Ghraib still stick to mind and create a feeling of shame and revulsion. It is time to end these inhumane practices because they do nothing but harm.

  • John Kerry admits Israeli Apartheid; and 5 Ways he is Understating It
    • Farhang Jahanpour 04/29/2014 at 5:12 am

      John Kerry has already backtracked and has said that he used the wrong words link to
      President Obama has blamed both Netanyahu and Mahmud Abbas equally for the collapse of the talks link to

      On the issue of whether Israel runs an apartheid state or not, in his speech in Oxford a few years ago Desmond Tutu, one of the strongest moral voices of our time, clearly compared the treatment of Palestinians to the apartheid state in South Africa, something that he had already said during his Christmas visit to Jerusalem in 1989, when he said “if I were to change the names, a description of what is happening in Gaza and the West Bank could describe events in South Africa.”

      Some time ago, I met a South African bishop who had just returned from a visit to Israel and I asked him about his views. He said that the plight of the Palestinians, especially in Gaza, was worse than that of the blacks during the apartheid regime. He added that in South Africa the white minority wanted to keep the blacks and exploit them, but in Israel the government is working hard to get rid of the Palestinians and force them to leave Israel and the occupied territories. As a result, the Palestinians suffer greater hardships.

  • A Widening War: Iraq intervenes in Syria with Helicopter Gunships
    • Farhang Jahanpour 04/28/2014 at 2:47 pm

      Could it also be due to the agreement that was reached between the US and Saudi Arabia during President Obama’s recent visit to the Kingdom to supply some antitank missiles to the rebels in Syria? They could be a game-changer if enough of them are supplied to the Syrian opposition. The Saudis also wanted to supply the rebels with anti-aircraft weapons but apparently the United States did not agree due to the fear that they might be used against US allies. link to

  • When will Israel Stop Shooting at Gaza Civilians?
    • The Israeli army seems to be out of control and is operating completely outside the rules of international law. Let’s summarize what the article says. Israel has created an open prison for 1.8 million Palestinians in Gaza who had been expelled from their homes in what is now Israel, has erected a barrier around them, and does not allow them even to get within 300 meters of the perimeter fence on their side of that illegal fence, thus placing 35 per cent of Gaza’s limited agricultural land off-limits to farmers. On top of all that, according to UN figures, Israeli military forces have killed four and wounded more than 60 civilians near the perimeter fence since the beginning of 2014 alone, and in the face of all that there has been a “conspiracy of silence” by the so-called “international community”.

      Just imagine the outcry that would have been created if the situation had been reversed and if four Israeli civilians had been killed and 60 wounded in just over the past few months by the residents of Gaza. It is truly appalling and shameful, and “international community” must do something about it.

  • The Coming Holy War over al-Aqsa Mosque/ Temple Mount in Jerusalem
    • Farhang Jahanpour 04/26/2014 at 2:58 pm

      Religion is supposed to be the cause of peace, tranquility and spirituality. Jerusalem is the best proof that religion is none of those things. A bunch of seemingly mature and intelligent people fight over some bricks and mortar under the excuse that it is holy, and in order to prove the holiness of that spot or a building they kill their fellow human beings. I have been to Jerusalem. Nowhere else have I ever felt the same degree of tension, hostility, fanaticism and bigotry that I have felt in that “Holy Land”. How right Ralph Waldo Emerson was when he wrote: "How little love is at the bottom of these religious shows; congregations and temples and sermons, - how much sham!"

  • Is Obama right that America's Future is in Asia, not the Middle East?
    • Farhang Jahanpour 04/25/2014 at 11:40 am

      Thank you for this insightful and as usual blunt and courageous column. In the midst of a wave of short-sighted and dangerous misinformation about Russia and Ukraine, it is important to point out that the Western push towards Russian borders since the collapse of the Soviet Union has been aimed at “barricading Russia and ensuring it did not reemerge as a great Power…” Putin’s efforts during the past few years to establish a Eurasian Union (comprising Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, with the hope of the eventual membership of Armenia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and it was hoped Ukraine) in order to compete with the EU, as well as the issue of replacing US oil and gas for Russian supplies to Europe, are as important in the crisis in Ukraine as any desire for democracy on the part of the West or helping the Russian speakers in Ukraine on the part of Russia. Ukraine’s membership in the Eurasian Union could have made a big difference in its viability, and this is something that the West wished to prevent.

      On the other hand, China with a population bigger than that of the United States and Europe combined, with an economy that is expected to surpass that of the United States in less than a decade, and a with a more assertive military is a major issue of concern to America. Unlike Europe that laid the foundations of the United States, and even unlike the Middle East that has mainly the same worldview with the West due to the shared legacy of Abrahamic religions and also centuries of contact in Eastern Europe and the Middle East itself, the Chinese culture and worldview is a total mystery and puzzle to the West. The West does not exactly know what to do with that mysterious colossus that is emerging in the East. This is why President Obama’s policy of transfer to the East makes a great deal of sense, provided that America is not looking for a new enemy to replace the Soviet Union and does not look at relations with Asia as a zero sum game, pushing Russia and China closer together.

  • Israel, US Complain about not being able to Divide and Rule the Palestinians
    • Farhang Jahanpour 04/24/2014 at 6:08 am

      The new move towards reconciliation between the Fateh Party and Hamas is a most welcome development if it lasts, because even if some form of an agreement had been reached between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (and the talks had already collapsed) it would not have lasted because it included only one segment of the Palestinian community. Anybody who is sincerely interested in long-term peace between Israel and the Palestinians should welcome this move and should try to make it work.

      As to the recognition of Israel by Hamas, that has already been achieved. Hamas leaders have repeatedly said that they would abide by any agreement reached between the Palestinian Authority and Israel. A more important question to ask is what constitutes Israel. When in 2006 the Palestinians overwhelmingly voted for Hamas, immediately the Israeli and US governments branded them as terrorists and said that they would not talk to them until Hamas recognized the State of Israel. In response, Hamas’s elected Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh asked: “Which Israel do you want me to recognize? Israel based on the UN Partition Plan; the one that was formed after armed Jewish groups seized areas not included in the Partition Plan; the one that came into being when the State of Israel was declared; the post 1967 war when Israel occupied vast tracts of Palestinian lands, including East Jerusalem; or the Greater Israel from the Nile to the Euphrates?” That question has not yet been answered as Israel has never declared its borders.

      The Arab League and all the 57 members of the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation, including Iran, have said that they would recognize Israel in its pre-1967 borders. It is time the Israelis said yes to that generous offer, which gives them about 80 per cent of historical Palestine.

  • Pictures Don't Lie: Refuting #there_was _ no _ Palestine
    • Farhang Jahanpour 04/17/2014 at 4:18 pm

      Although some ignorant or opportunistic politicians and some revisionist historians have tried to falsify historical records, historically there is no doubt about the continuous existence of Palestine and the Palestinians. The term Palestine (old form Peleset in Hieroglyphic texts) appears in Egyptian texts, dating back to c 1150 BC, even predating the Kingdom of Israel, which was established in 1020 BC. In the 5th century BC Herodotus wrote of Palaistine, which included the Judean mountains and the Jordan Rift Valley, as forming part of the 5th Persian satrapy. The Hebrew name of Palestine, translated as Philistia in English, is used more than 250 times in the Bible. There are numerous references to Palestine during the Byzantine period.

      Muslims conquered Palestine in 636 AD, and with the exception of a relatively short interval of the reign of the Crusaders (1099-1187) it was ruled by various Muslim dynasties until after the First World War.

      The Ottoman Turks ruled Palestine from 1516-1917. At times, they divided Palestine into different Eyalet or Sanjak, sometimes becoming part of the Eyalet of Damascus until 1660 and later it became part of the Eyalet of Sidon, but the term Palestine was still very much in use as a collective term for its different component parts. Thomas Salmon’s 18th century book, Modern History, states: “Jerusalem is still reckoned the capital city of Palestine.” (Thomas Salmon, Modern History or, the present state of all nations, London, Longman, p. 461)

      So only those who deliberately wish to distort historical facts can doubt the continuous existence of Palestine and Palestinian people.

  • Christian Sharia Law: Iowa Governor’s Proclamation Destroys Separation Of Church And State
    • Farhang Jahanpour 04/15/2014 at 6:30 am

      Religion’s appeal to millions of people throughout the ages has been due to the fact that it speaks of “transcendental, sublime, heavenly, spiritual and higher” issues to which instinctively most people aspire. However, as A. N. Wilson, the novelist and theologian turned agnostic, has pointed out: “Religion is the tragedy of mankind. It appeals to all that is noblest, purest, loftiest in the human spirit, and yet there scarcely exists a religion which has not been responsible for wars, tyrannies and the suppression of the truth.” This is why it is absolutely necessary to be on our guards when someone, especially a politician, speaks of religion and wishes to use it for purposes that are not religious.

      Religion belongs to the private domain, and while people are entitled to believe in whatever they wish, no matter how mistaken, they have no right to mix it with politics and push it on others. This is why US Constitution with amazing farsightedness decreed a separation of church and state. Whenever a politician speaks about prayer, humble repentance, intended purpose and such like he/she should be told to get on with his job of running the state; in the same way that whenever a cleric, a rabbi or a mullah wants to interfere in the affair of the state he (mainly he) should be told to go back to his church, synagogue or mosque. We have seen many examples of the tragedy of mixing religion and politics throughout the Middle Ages, and still see many examples of it in Iran, Israel, among the Taliban and sadly even in the United States and elsewhere.

  • US sent CIA Director as Ambassador to Tehran after CIA overthrew Iran's Democratic gov't (US now Complaining about Hostage-Taker Amb.)
    • Farhang Jahanpour 04/13/2014 at 1:48 pm

      As a sign that Aboutalebi's nomination was not intended as an insult or a snub, there are reports from Tehran that Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has nominated Abbas Araghchi, deputy foreign minister and the chief nuclear negotiator, as the new ambassador to the UN. If this report is confirmed, it will show that Iran did not intend to pick a fight with the United States and US Congressmen should have the grace to reciprocate. In view of the domestic backlash, this could not have been an easy decision to take, but it shows that Iran wishes to defuse the crisis.

    • It is sad that Iran and the United States cannot get over their past history and move forward to a more productive relationship. While any sane person should condemn the taking of US hostages by a group of militant students, it is important to put it into context. The true history of the hostage crisis has not yet been written. Many people in the West do not realize that during the first year after the revolution in February 1979 a deadly battle was going on between leftist and communist groups on the one hand and Ayatollah Khomeini and his religious followers on the other hand for supremacy. The leftist groups, especially the Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO), believed that they had been the main instigators of the revolution. Many people also do not know that US Embassy in Tehran was first occupied by MKO members, but Ayatollah Khomeini and Prime Minister Bazargan immediately sent Foreign Minister Ebrahim Yazdi to talk to them, and he persuaded them to leave the Embassy compound.

      Later on, a group of militant religious students decided to occupy the Embassy in order to outmaneuver the leftist groups and to prove their own revolutionary credentials. They intended to occupy the Embassy for a day or two to outdo the MKO, but when Khomeini noticed that it had received popular backing, again mainly by leftist groups, he used it to consolidate his own position and to crush and decimate the leftist forces.

      Although his action was wrong and opportunistic, nevertheless, at that time many people in the West regarded the clerical rule to be preferable to a complete leftist takeover of the government. In any case, that incident cost Iran much more than it did the United States. Less than a year later Saddam Hussein attacked Iran, if not with initial US support, at least with the support of US allies in the Middle East and later on with direct US military and political support. That war killed and wounded a million Iranians and cost hundreds of billions of dollars in damages.

      I do not think that Aboutalebi’s appointment was meant as an insult, but it was probably an oversight, as he had served as ambassador in a number of European capitals and had also visited the United States as a member of Iranian delegations without any problem. However, at this particular time when there is a possibility of rapprochement between Iran and the United States it has provided ammunition to the extremists in both countries who wish to undermine any prospects of an agreement between the two sides. They should not be allowed to succeed. As President Carter has said it is time to leave the past behind and to move on.

  • Russian Sanctions-Busting?: Putin's bruited 500k b/d oil deal with Iran draws US Threats
    • Farhang Jahanpour 04/10/2014 at 2:19 pm

      The volume of Iranian-Russian trade is very low compared to Iran's trade with the rest of her neighbors and with China, and it would be good if they could diversify their trade. However, it would be a big mistake for Iran to get into a deal with Russia that would undermine the nuclear agreement with the West. So far, the talks have progressed well and both sides express hope that a final agreement could be reached by the end of July. Under these circumstances, Iran should not jeopardize a landmark agreement with the West by a hasty deal with Russia, especially as in the past Russia had used Iran quite opportunistically.

      The main danger of Western sanctions on Russia and on Iran lies in what you allude to, namely losing the dollar’s centrality, and even more seriously undermining the entire international monetary and economic system. The way that the neocons in US Congress and Treasury have forced other countries, especially the EU, to impose sanctions on the countries with which they have some problems, and even forcing them to make use of some international economic mechanisms such as SMART and blocking normal banking transactions, apart from being wrong and bullying in itself, it undermines the global economic exchanges. It may be time for countries such as Russia and China to find an alternative to the dominant Western system and the centrality of the dollar until a proper international system is devised that cannot be subverted by some dominant countries, such as the United States.

  • Top 7 Surprising pieces of Good news in Afghanistan Presidential Election
    • Farhang Jahanpour 04/06/2014 at 8:05 am

      One may be against US invasion of Iraq and critical of many US policies in Afghanistan, nevertheless, one has to admire the remarkable election in which a majority of Afghans have participated despite threats by the Taliban and despite the problems that they are still facing in the society. The participation of a relatively large number of women in the election is particularly very impressive. One should also give some credit to President Karzai for presiding over an election for his successor that has been mainly free and fair. If democracy holds in Afghanistan this would also be a great legacy left by the United States, despite many sacrifices made by both Americans and Afghans.

      However, the main question is what is going to happen after the election and whether a number of US forces should stay on in Afghanistan or not. Many people who advocate the continued presence of US forces in Afghanistan have not clearly said what the aim of their presence is. If it is to fight against the Taliban, when the presence of tens of thousands of US and ISAF forces did not deter the Taliban what can be achieved by the presence of a few thousand American forces confined to their barracks. It can be argued that just like the 10,000 or so American forces left in Iraq they will be ineffective in any domestic clashes and will in fact be sitting ducks. If the presence of US bases in Afghanistan is for keeping an eye on the neighboring countries then it should be spelled out and debated openly. Although the return of the Taliban to power is a very worrying possibility, on balance, it seems that the United States should withdraw all her forces from Afghanistan and leave it to the Afghans to sort out their problems.

  • Palestine's Abbas finally says will Go to UN over Israeli Squatters
    • The problem with the "peace talks" is that the two sides expect quite different outcomes from them. The Palestinians are hoping that the talks would result in an end to the Israeli occupation and the creation of some form of Palestinian state on a small portion of historical Palestine. For the Israelis, the process is an end in itself. The “peace talks” are as long as a piece of string and so far they have continued for decades without any tangible outcome. They see no urgency for putting an end to the conflict because they believe that they can “manage” the conflict, and in time they can expand their control over all the occupied territories. Therefore, they have no intention of accepting the creation of a Palestinian state.

      Past experience has shown that due to domestic politics no US administration is willing or able to put real pressure on Israel to reach an equitable deal with the Palestinians. Therefore, it is disingenuous for any US official to pretend to act as an honest broker in the conflict. Going through the UN or the ICC route may not succeed, mainly due to US influence and her tendency to veto any resolution that may be against Israeli interest, but it is the only option that the Palestinians have and it is worth a try. The least it can do is to force other states to take their case more seriously.

      On the issue of Jonathan Pollard that the report brings up, he is a US national who was convicted of passing some very important classified information to a foreign government. I am surprised that more Americans are not outraged that Israel even demands his release as a part of a deal to continue talking to Palestinians.

  • Will the US side with Saudi or Qatar in the Great Gulf Civil War?
    • Farhang Jahanpour 03/31/2014 at 7:05 am

      Tiny Qatar has three assets that worry Saudi Arabia. The first one is that it has huge wealth for its tiny population and does not need to rely on Saudi Arabia. The second and a more important asset is that it houses America’s main military base in the Persian Gulf region, thus it is indispensable to US military in the way that Saudi Arabia no longer is. Its third and the most important asset is what Bandar Bin Sultan contemptuously referred to as a TV channel. Al Jazeera television network, the first relatively free and independent television network in the whole Arab world, has emerged as a major vehicle for change in the region, exposing the weaknesses of many Arab regimes. It is a channel that is watched widely and mainly trusted by young Arab populations and it has opened a window to the outside world for those conservative societies. It can be argued that “Arab Spring” owed more to Al Jazeera than to any other factor.

      Despite disagreements with Iran over Syria, Qatar has kept a line of communication open with Iranian leaders and with its opposition to the Egyptian military junta it has also established close relations with Turkey. So it has regional backers much more populous and much more important than Saudi Arabia. For all those reasons, Saudi Arabia is bound to lose out in its fight against Qatar, and the US would do well to side with Qatar to reduce religious extremism emanating from Saudi Arabia and forcing some real change in that medieval kingdom.

  • Saudi King channels John McCain, demands Obama Take Hard Line on Iran, Syria, Muslim Brotherhood
    • Saudi rulers’ opposition to Iran has more to do with their precarious domestic and regional position than with Iran’s nuclear program. Not only were the Saudis not bothered about Iranian nuclear program under Presidents Hashemi-Rafsanjani and Khatami with whom they had very friendly relations, they also warmly received President Mahmud Ahmadinejad who was the most ardent supporter of nuclear enrichment.

      However, since the “Arab Spring”, Saudi rulers feel extremely vulnerable. They have placed themselves as the main supporters of the former dictators of Tunisia, Egypt and Yemen, and they have given refuge to former Tunisian leader Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. They have invaded Bahrain to support the Bahraini ruler’s suppression of the protests by the majority Shi’as, and they are heavily involved in Yemen’s civil war against pro-al-Qaeda groups while they are supporting similar groups in Syria.

      During the last GCC summit meeting in Kuwait, the Saudis called for a joint military force among all the six GCC countries. Not only did they not achieve that goal, the GCC seems to be on the verge of collapse. Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain have withdrawn their ambassadors from Qatar due to the latter’s support for Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. During President Obama’s visit to Saudi Arabia all GCC leaders were due to go to Riyadh to meet with him. The disagreement among them has been so intense that the whole project was shelved. Domestically too Saudi rulers feel very vulnerable. The 91-year old King Abdullah is very frail, the 77-year old Crown Prince Salman has had some trouble focusing mentally of late and is believed to show signs of dementia. This is why, in an unusual move, on the eve of President Obama’s visit, King Abdullah appointed his 71-year old half brother Prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz as deputy crown prince. How long this method of succession among some 5,000 princes can go on is anybody’s guess.

  • Donald Rumsfeld: A "Trained Ape" would be better at U.S. diplomacy than Obama
    • In this case, I believe President Obama is reaping the result of his decision not to prosecute war criminals who had been responsible for torture, the use of depleted uranium and many other banned substances in populated Iraqi cities, including in Fallujah, Abu Ghraib torture chamber, etc. If the United States is a country subject to the rule of law, all those guilty of wrongdoing, including the highest officials, should be prosecuted. The blanket amnesty given to the officials of the Bush Administration who dragged the country to one of the most disastrous wars in its history on the basis of lies and manufactured intelligence did a great disservice to the United States and to the world, not to mention the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who were killed and millions who were displaced. It has also set a pattern for other countries to follow, so much so that every American who accuses Russia of illegal behavior in Crimea will be regarded as a hypocrite.

      For heaven’s sake, there has not even been a serious official investigation of what happened prior and during the invasion of Iraq at least to establish the facts and expose the people who were responsible for that fiasco. Even if they are not going to be prosecuted, the public has the right to know so that such people cannot fool the public again, as they seem to be doing in the case of Iran. Even now it is not too late. People should demand that after the withdrawal of US forces from Iraq and Afghanistan there should be an open and through investigation of the facts about those two misadventures and the officials responsible for them.

  • On Iranian New Year, Russia hints it May Swing Support to Tehran over Crimea Sanctions
    • The effect of Ukrainian-Crimean situation on Iran’s relations with the West and with Russia is very complex and it can go either way. Some argue that Russia’s spat with the West will persuade her to cooperate more with Iran and there has even been some talk of buying half a million barrels of oil from Iran in return for Russian goods (military equipment, possibly SS400 missiles?), while others have said that the West may show its displeasure of Russian action by intensifying hostility towards Syria and Iran. Others have argued that the West may get closer to Iran in order to turn her against Russia. Many Iranians are aware of these problems and have warned the officials that Ukraine is a geopolitical dispute between Russia and the West and Iran should remain neutral in the whole affair link to

      Iranians remember that Russia voted with the West in all the Security Council resolutions against Iran and went along with most of the sanctions imposed on Iran, cancelling some military agreements. At the moment, the biggest game in Iranian foreign policy is to resolve the nuclear dispute with the West and to have sanctions lifted. They would be foolish to jeopardize the success of the talks by provoking the West as the result of getting close to Russia.

      On a different note, in view of today being Nowruz, which is celebrated by more than 300 million people in Iran and many surrounding countries, here is a song sung by a popular Iranian singer called Hayedeh, which is called Nowruz Eve, for your Persian speaking readers or for all those who likes exotic music and dancing link to

  • RIP: Tony Benn - "We'll never have Democracy as long as Big Business can buy Both Parties
    • Farhang Jahanpour 03/17/2014 at 4:59 pm

      Although I had admired Tony Benn from afar, a few years ago I had the good fortune to share a platform with him at the University of London to address a very large crowd of students. When talking to him after the lecture, it was as though I had known him all my life. He was so modest, kind and approachable that one instantly felt at home. When I said how wonderful it was to see that so many people had come to listen to lectures about peace and to campaign against war, he said: "Never forget that we are in majority. People instinctively prefer peace over war. They are only pushed to war as the result of massive propaganda and misrepresentation. All we need to do is to organize, to believe in ourselves and never to give in." May he rest in peace!

  • A New Arab Cold War: Saudi Arabia Pressures Qatar on Muslim Brotherhood, American Think Tanks
    • Farhang Jahanpour 03/10/2014 at 5:06 pm

      To add to all the problems that Saudi rulers are facing, Saudi women are also becoming restive and are demanding their rights. In an incredible and unheard of interview with the British Channel 4 tonight, King Abdullah’s second wife says that her four daughters are kept as virtual prisoners in Saudi Arabia and have suffered years of abuse in a royal compound in Jeddah. She calls on Saudi authority to free them from their captivity and allow them to travel to the West for medical treatment
      link to
      This interview will be a great embarrassment for King Abdullah and the entire Saudi ruling family and is bound to intensify the demands of Saudi women for equality or at least better treatment.

  • Can the Neoconservatives make a comeback via the Ukraine Crisis?
    • Farhang Jahanpour 03/10/2014 at 9:13 am

      smatthew. Thank you for your measured comment, but I believe that the Nuland tape cannot be dismissed as easily as Timothy Snyder does. The tape shows plans not only to install someone who Nuland favored, as happened subsequently, but also how to get the UN involved to “glue this thing, to have the UN glue it”, and how she is so dismissive of the EU, which after all is the main body that Ukraine wanted to join, unless we are also thinking of extending NATO to Ukraine. Also, various neoconservative organizations have been active behind the scenes about how to make Ukraine independent of Russia. In another speech, Nuland speaks of how US has invested $5 billion to bring about change in Ukraine
      link to

      I also do not wish to demean the 88 deaths of real Ukrainians, both civilians and policemen, who were killed during the demonstrations. But the tape of the conversation between Catherine Ashton and the Estonian foreign minister alleges that the snipers who killed both demonstrators and policemen were hired by Maidan leaders. This is a very serious charge and it is demeaning to those who were killed not to investigate this matter fully. If the report is true it shows that what happened was a violent coup and not a peaceful uprising. There have been many examples in the past when genuine uprisings by people hoping for democracy have been hijacked by violent elements. There is no contradiction between Neo-Nazis being behind the violence and the fact that the new Prime Minister is Jewish. Initially, the neocons who pushed for war in Iraq were behind Ahmed Chalabi, but as we know things turned out differently and sadly Al Qaeda is still killing hundreds every month in Iraq.

    • Farhang Jahanpour 03/09/2014 at 10:19 am

      This is an important and interesting article that shows the profound influence of neocons on various US Administrations. My only observation is that after the Clean Break and President Bush Senior’s decision to leave Saddam Hussein in place, the neocons did not give up. Many of them achieved high positions under President Clinton. It should be remembered that the foreign policy community in Washington is small, everybody knows everybody else, and most of them hold broadly similar views. They are all the products of Washington foreign policy establishment. Victoria Nuland, one of the main authors of the Ukraine crisis, is the wife of Robert Kagan who with his brother Fred Kagan were strong advocates of the Iraq war and the surge, and Nuland herself worked as a foreign policy advisor to Dick Cheney. Her husband served as a foreign policy advisor to both Hillary Clinton and Mitt Romney at the same time.

      The tragedy was that after all the promises of change President Obama again drew on the same pool of foreign policy hawks to carry out his new vision, and they have created obstacles on his path at every turn. The more hawkish ones are still waiting in the wings to push the next administration to more wars in the Middle East.

  • US Hypocrisy on Crimean secession move: Washington Supported Break-up of Sudan, Yugoslavia, Iraq
    • What recent events in Ukraine show is that
      1- The Cold War is still very much with us and people on both sides of the fence are not willing to move on. The truly amazing propaganda on both sides harks back to the worst days of the Cold War.
      2- There is no limit to how far Western powers are prepared to go in order to weaken Russia. President Reagan promised Gorbachev on the eve of the breakup of the Soviet Union that NATO would not incorporate former Soviet republics. However, practically all East European members of the former Warsaw Pact are now NATO members, and now the West is even pushing to separate Ukraine that has a substantial number of Russian speakers and even ethnic Russians from Moscow.
      3- There is no concern for truth or human rights. The new tape that contains a conversation between EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton and the Estonian foreign minister who has since confirmed the authenticity of the conversation shows that the snipers who shot at both the protestors and the police in Kiev were allegedly hired by Maidan leaders. This is a matter of great importance. It shows that the members of the new gang who have taken power in Ukraine committed crimes not only against members of the police, but also against ordinary unarmed civilians. Should this not be investigated and those responsible brought to book instead of serving in the new “democratic government”?
      4- The Nuland tape provides a rare glimpse into how the United States makes use of her diplomatic assets, the UN, vast funds (some five billion dollars according to Nuland’s admission elsewhere) and her European allies to get what she wants. It is interesting to note that the United States is pushing for the separation of Ukraine from Russia and incorporation into the EU even more than EU leaders want, and in Nuland’s words, “F… the EU”. Meanwhile, Ukraine needs some $35 billion to be bailed out, presumably by the EU.
      5- It shows that neocons are still very much at the heart of US Administration and their demise has been greatly exaggerated.
      6- Above all, and the most frightening aspect of recent events, is the fact that the neocons are prepared to drag the whole world to the brink of a major global confrontation in order to achieve their goals. I believe all of us should be concerned.

  • Ukraine Crisis Shows Urgency of Green Energy: Russian Nat'l Gas Blackmail
    • Farhang Jahanpour 03/06/2014 at 12:08 pm

      Here is the link to the conversation between EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton and the Estonian foreign minister who has since confirmed the authenticity of the conversation. It is the Estonian foreign minister who tell Ashton that the snipers who shot at both the protestors and the police in Kiev were allegedly hired by Maidan leaders. link to

    • Farhang Jahanpour 03/06/2014 at 7:34 am

      One dimension of the Ukrainian crisis that has not been explored sufficiently concerns the energy war between Russia and the US in view of the boom in American natural gas supplies. Despite the fact that hydraulic fracturing is environmentally debilitating and will result in massive pollution and environmental degradation in the United States, many oil and gas tycoons are not bothered by that. In fact, a report in today’s New York Times hails “a new era of American energy diplomacy” and the use of vast new supply of natural gas as “a weapon to undercut the influence of the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin, over Ukraine and Europe.”
      link to
      Is it just a coincidence that the former US Ambassador to Ukraine Carlos Pascual new heads the State Department’s Bureau of Energy Resources set up in 2011 by Secretary Hillary Clinton? NYT quotes him as saying that his team’s efforts had already weakened Putin’s hand.
      Some other energy experts had spoken about the geopolitical significance of oil and gas pipelines and the growing sale of LNG from the United States and elsewhere to replace the pipelines
      link to
      So while your point about the urgency of green energy is absolutely correct, the politicians and oil and gas corporations have different priorities and different agendas.

  • A New Crimean War? (Update: Stuff's Getting Real)
    • Thank you very much for this timely and necessary historical perspective about a part of the world with a very complex background. Although clearly President Putin’s action in Crimea has been rather crude and heavy-handed, nevertheless, one should also remember the equally crude activities of the neocons over a number of years. link to
      After the fall of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, the neocons have found it difficult to move on and have continued the fight, this time against Russia. Robert Gates described that approach by quoting Dick Cheney: “When the Soviet Union was collapsing in late 1991, Dick wanted to see the dismantlement not only of the Soviet Union and the Russian empire but of Russia itself, so it could never again be a threat to the rest of the world.”

      Contrary to the promise given by President Reagan to Gorbachev that NATO would not push to Russia’s borders, we have seen the expansion of NATO to many former Soviet territories, even the failed attempt to incorporate Georgia and now Ukraine. As you rightly warn, if the situation is not handled with care it can easily lead to a major confrontation with unpredictable consequences. The only solution seems a non-aligned federative state of Ukraine with friendly relations with both Russia and the EU.

  • The Iran Breakthrough TV News is Ignoring: Uranium Stockpile falls below amount Needed for Bomb
    • Farhang Jahanpour 02/21/2014 at 1:16 pm

      There is nothing new with the corporate media not reporting Iran’s compliance with the terms of the Geneva agreement. This has been the case at least since 2003 when Iran negotiated with the European Troika, signed the Additional Protocol and even suspended enrichment for over two years. It should be pointed out that most of the demands of the P5+1 have nothing to do with the NPT, but go way beyond the requirements of the Additional Protocol. Their demands, which Iran has already agreed as part of the interim Geneva Agreement, include capping enrichment at five per cent, turning the stockpile of 19.5 per cent enriched uranium to fuel rods that cannot be used for any military purposes, closing the heavy water reactor in Arak or modifying it to a light water reactor, reducing the stockpile of uranium enriched to five per cent, cutting the number of centrifuges, etc.

      According to the NPT, all that a member country is required to do is not to manufacture nuclear weapons. In return, nuclear countries have given an undertaking to get rid of their weapons, something that they have failed to do. If Iran ratifies the Additional Protocol and provides greater transparency, according to the NPT she is allowed to engage in any peaceful nuclear activity that she desires. In short, what the West is demanding of Iran has nothing to do with the NPT, but is based on bullying and blackmail, while Israel that is the only country in the Middle East that possesses nuclear weapons is totally ignored.

      It is important to bear in mind that if for any reason the talks fail Iran will be blamed for the failure, and the neocons will again ask for military action. Yousaf Butt, a prominent nuclear physicist and a non-proliferation expert, in an important article entitled “No Iran Deal? No Problem” argues that even if the nuclear talks fall apart, all is not lost, because the IAEA still continues to inspect Iran’s nuclear facilities link to

  • Putinism in Cairo? The Rise of the Russian Model
    • An excellent analysis as ever! It is sad to see that a revolution that was supported by such a large section of the population and provided such a promise to the rest of the Arab world has ended up in perhaps a worse shape than the regime under President Mubarak. I believe that your observation about the failure of Putinism and soft dictatorship will also apply to Egypt. I cannot believe that the millions who rose up against dictatorship in Egypt only three years ago will be content to put up with another military dictatorship for long. It should be remembered that dreams of democracy have a long history in Egypt. In fact, Muhammad Abduh’s attempts to reconcile democracy with Islam over a century ago provided a model for later Muslim reformers. His statement “I went to the West and saw Islam, but no Muslims; I got back to the East and saw Muslims, but not Islam” showed his great admiration for democratic West. Egypt’s economic weakness and the need for stability may delay another push for democracy, but it will come.

  • Israel to Implant 9-Storey Ultra-Orthodox Seminary in Palestinian East Jerusalem
    • Farhang Jahanpour 02/13/2014 at 11:52 am

      Jerusalem is one of the great cities of the world, but when you visit it you can see that apart from some myths it really has very little heritage that can be called Jewish. It is mainly the product of a few centuries of Christian buildings and monuments and over 1200 years of Islamic legacy. Its historic character is being steadily destroyed as the result of a large number of ugly and uniform settlements that are built all round of the city. Building a nine-storey building in such a historic city, even if legal, would be wrong and in very bad taste. I believe the UNESCO should be asked to intervene and preserve the historic legacy of that unique city until its fate is finally decided as the result of a final settlement.

  • False Dawn: The 35th Anniversary of Iranian Revolution
    • Farhang Jahanpour 02/14/2014 at 1:35 pm

      Ciriaco, yes thanks for that. His case had been widely reported in Iran for a long time. It is sad. At least under the Shah poets were not executed for what they wrote, although there were some suspicious deaths that were blamed on the SAVAK, but most of them proved false like Shari'ati's death and the death of Ayatollah Khomeini's son Mostafa, etc.

    • Rjlynn, many thanks for your interesting comment and the lovely translations of Farrokhzad’s poem. I should have referred to Red Rose, because it describes so poetically the sense of anticipation for a new birth. Also thank you for pointing out the message of The Bird. I had not thought of it as a critique of impractical idealism, but you may be right. I always regarded it as the failure of the attempts to bring about a revolution up to that point or the mortality of the poet, not the futility of the effort or impracticality of idealism. After all, her main message was “keep the flight in mind, the bird may die.”

    • Farhang Jahanpour 02/13/2014 at 6:45 am

      Nap, many thanks for your comment. You are absolutely right. Samad Behrangi has an honourable place in pre-revolutionary Iranian literature, but in a short article I could not include all those who contributed to the social and literary movement that led to the revolution.

  • A $9 Trillion War? Top 10 Reasons Americans will Regret it if GOP Derails Iran Negotiations
    • What is even more tragic is that there is not greater public awareness and a strong backlash against the attempts of a foreign government to drag the US and the world through a devastating war that will cause so much pain, suffering and destruction on charges that are now proved to have been false propaganda in order to manufacture a crisis link to

  • "The Iranians are Coming!" Derangement Syndrome over 1 Destroyer in Atlantic
    • Farhang Jahanpour 02/09/2014 at 9:35 am

      Just compare and contrast this Iranian “fleet” of “warships” that carries “some 30 navy academy cadets for training” with at least one and often two US aircraft carrier strike groups in the Persian Gulf and the Arabia Sea, in addition to dozens of F-22 and F-15C warplanes that operate out of US bases in the Persian Gulf. Images of US ships in the Persian Gulf link to

      Here is the Wikipedia list of the top 10 military spenders in 2012:
      1. USA ($683 billion = $2,200 per capita)
      2. China ($166 billion = $123 per capita)
      3. Russia ($91 billion = $436 per capita)
      4. United Kingdom ($61 billion = $984 per capita)
      5. Japan ($59 billion = $465 per capita)
      6. France ($59 billion = $908 per capita)
      7. Saudi Arabia ($57 billion = $2,014 per capita)
      8. India ($46 billion = $26 per capita)
      9. Germany ($43 billion = $524 per capita)
      10. Italy ($34 billion = $557 per capita)
      Meanwhile, Iran spent $9.00 billion on its military in 2012, which amounted to about $112 per capita, compared to USA’s $2,200 per population. Iran's military expenditure as a share of GDP stood at 1.8% in 2012, which is significantly (28%) below the global average. Israel’s military budget of $14.6 billion accounted for 6.2% of her GDP.

      Just to see comparative figures, here is the Wikipedia list of the top 10 military spenders in 2012:
      1. USA ($683 billion = $2,200 per capita)
      2. China ($166 billion = $123 per capita)
      3. Russia ($91 billion = $436 per capita)
      4. United Kingdom ($61 billion = $984 per capita)
      5. Japan ($59 billion = $465 per capita)
      6. France ($59 billion = $908 per capita)
      7. Saudi Arabia ($57 billion = $2,014 per capita)
      8. India ($46 billion = $26 per capita)
      9. Germany ($43 billion = $524 per capita)
      10. Italy ($34 billion = $557 per capita)
      Meanwhile, Iran spent $9.00 billion on its military in 2012, which amounted to about $112 per capita, compared to USA’s $2,200 per population. Iran's military expenditure as a share of GDP stood at 1.8% in 2012, which is significantly (28%) below the global average. Israel’s military budget of $14.6 billion accounted for 6.2% of her GDP.

    • Farhang Jahanpour 02/09/2014 at 9:32 am

      Just compare and contrast this Iranian “fleet” of “warships” that carries “some 30 navy academy cadets for training” with at least one and often two US aircraft carrier strike groups in the Persian Gulf and the Arabia Sea, in addition to dozens of F-22 and F-15C warplanes that operate out of US bases in the Persian Gulf. Images of US ships in the Persian Gulf link to

      Here is the Wikipedia list of the top 10 military spenders in 2012:
      1. USA ($683 billion = $2,200 per capita)
      2. China ($166 billion = $123 per capita)
      3. Russia ($91 billion = $436 per capita)
      4. United Kingdom ($61 billion = $984 per capita)
      5. Japan ($59 billion = $465 per capita)
      6. France ($59 billion = $908 per capita)
      7. Saudi Arabia ($57 billion = $2,014 per capita)
      8. India ($46 billion = $26 per capita)
      9. Germany ($43 billion = $524 per capita)
      10. Italy ($34 billion = $557 per capita)
      Meanwhile, Iran spent $9.00 billion on its military in 2012, which amounted to about $112 per capita, compared to USA’s $2,200 per population. Iran's military expenditure as a share of GDP stood at 1.8% in 2012, which is significantly (28%) below the global average. Israel’s military budget of $14.6 billion accounted for 6.2% of her GDP.

  • Camel Bones and Jerusalem: Archeology Shows Bible written Late, Full of Errors
    • Farhang Jahanpour 02/06/2014 at 10:09 am

      One of the major mistakes of literalists and religious fundamentalists in all religions is that they read their scriptures as statements of fact. The Bible is not a history book. It is more akin to literature and poetry, to the tales of Sir Gawain and the Green Knights, to the Avestan stories about an ancient kingdom of Jamshid or stories about King Arthur than to any proper historical narrative.

      In fact, there might be more historical truths in the myths about King Arthur who was a legendary British leader of the early 6th century AD than in the tales about Abraham, David and Solomon whose alleged existence is shrouded by mystery and myths. The same goes for the sojourn in Egypt and the exodus. It is important to bear in mind that the oldest record of the complete text of the Old Testament survives in a Greek translation called the Septuagint dating from the 4th century AD and the oldest extant manuscripts of the Bible upon which modern editions are based date from the 9th century AD. In other words, old tales were transmitted by the word of mouth before they were written down hundreds of years after the events that they refer to.

      The Avesta, the Vedas, the Bible, the Koran and other ancient religious texts are fascinating accounts of the beliefs and superstitions of ancient people, but they seldom provide an accurate account of past events or a guide for modern life.

  • Christie, Clapper and other Officials who should be in Jail instead of Snowden
    • In any country where a group of people are given power over the lives of others and immunity from prosecution they are likely to misuse their powers, and no organization has more power than intelligence organizations that hold the secrets about most individuals, including government officials. This is human nature, and the story of every secretive intelligence organization throughout the world. This is why the US Constitution was initially based on checks and balances to make sure that violations were brought to a minimum, but an organization that collects 200 million text messages a day is out of control. The entire structure of intelligence and security organizations need to be reexamined and reformed before it is too late. So far, Americans can still speak about these things, although some have to spend their lives in exile for their brave acts. We must fear the day when even that window is closed as has been done repeatedly in the past in a number of other countries.

  • Despite Reform Pledges, Rouhani's Iran remains Human Rights Nightmare
    • As far as I am concerned, everybody who is interested in peace and human rights should make sure that there is no war or violence against Iran, because violence does not resolve anything. On the contrary, it makes the situation even worse than it is. One only has to look at the situation in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, etc. where violence has destroyed the societies to such an extent that the rule of law has been undermined and chaos and anarchy have become the norm. Under such conditions it is a travesty to speak about human rights.

      Having said that, we should not be so carried away by our effort to prevent war that we close our eyes to real human rights violations in Iran. Many Iranians fear that the rapprochement with the West may come at the expense of human rights in Iran. There was massive violation of human rights by the SAVAK under the Shah and very few people in the West objected to that as long as their commercial and political interests were safeguarded, and the same is going on at the moment in the case of Saudi Arabia or many other friends of the West. It is possible that if Western governments get what they want from the Iranian government the plight of ordinary Iranians will be forgotten.

      There have been credible reports that in a meeting between Ayatollah Khamenei and President Rouhani the president had persuaded Khamenei to stop the hardliners from preventing the nuclear deal with the West. Allegedly, in return, Rouhani had agreed not to push for the release of the Green Movement leaders and hundreds of political prisoners, or implementing many of the promises that he had made during his presidential campaign. It is difficult to verify such reports, but the fact is that there has been very little change in domestic situation under Rouhani. Iran has the largest per capita executions in the world, sometimes on dubious charges. It is only right to raise our voices against death penalty and all human rights violations while also being strong in our efforts for the peaceful resolution of Iran’s nuclear program.

  • Israel and Saudi Arabia on Same page re: Keeping Iran a Pariah
    • Farhang Jahanpour 01/23/2014 at 6:40 am

      As early as 2002 when the then Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah put forward the initiative at the Arab League summit to recognize Israel provided that she withdrew to pre-1967 borders showed that the Saudis were in favor of moving closer to Israel and integrating Israel into the region, which is a good thing.

  • Syria Conference Roiled by Shouting Matches, Insults
    • While completing agreeing with your statement that successful negotiations only take place when the two sides are tired of fighting, I believe that another element should be added to this formula, namely whether the foreign backers of the conflict feel that they have achieved what they set out to do.

      Even if the uprising in Syria started as part of the “Arab Spring”, it is clear that right from the start both Saudi Arabia and the United States tried to use it to bring down the government of Bashar Asad to cut off the link between Iran and the Hezbollah. As early as the summer of 2011, a Saudi official said: "The king knows that other than the collapse of the Islamic Republic itself, nothing would weaken Iran more than losing Syria." link to
      Most Western countries shared that goal and they have not yet given up that goal as manifested by the opening remarks of Secretary John Kerry at Montreux.

  • Massive War Crimes: Syrian Regime Tortured, Starved, Murdered 11,000 Prisoners
    • Farhang Jahanpour 01/23/2014 at 2:37 pm

      Joe, you are absolutely right. I thought that it was a given that the Syrian sides, both the government and the opposition, will also be involved in the final settlement. Otherwise, it makes no sense.

    • Hunter, I was not suggesting any military action. What I meant was that instead of all this grandstanding and conferences with representatives of 40 nations most of whom have nothing to do with Syria, the main players should get together and reach a deal to put an end to all the bloodshed, similar to the deal that was reached over Syria's chemical weapons. Watching the first day of the conference in Montreux leads one to believe that neither side really means business. It is simply a platform for putting more pressure on Assad to resign.

    • The proxy war in Syria is descending into total barbarism and violence by both sides. Instead of playing geopolitical games over the lives of millions of people it is time for the “international community” to come together and put an end to this carnage. The West, the Saudis, the Turks and the Qataris have been backing the terrorists as a part of the plan to weaken Iran and the Hezbollah, while Russia, Iran and Hezbollah have been sending weapons, funds and fighters to fight on the side of the government. There is evidence that despite denial and apparent change of heart, Turkey is still arming the jihadists. link to

      Even if the Geneva Conference takes place, despite the debacle of finally inviting Iran and then de-inviting Iran the following day under US pressure, and some sort of a communiqué is cobbled together, there is no guarantee that it will have any effect on the ground. The Syrian National Coalition, which has agreed to attend the conference under the threats that all funding to it would be cut off if it didn’t, represents only a small part of the opposition, while the real fighting is being carried out by the Al-Nusra Front and ISIS, which are affiliated to the Al-Qaeda. All sides should realize that sometimes “my enemy’s enemy is also my enemy.” What is really needed is for the United States, Russia, Iran, Turkey and Saudi Arabia that are the main players in this deadly game to get together and force both sides to declare a ceasefire, followed by elections under international supervision. Otherwise, the carnage will continue and will spread.

  • The Shame and the Danger of Egypt's 98% Vote
    • Farhang Jahanpour 01/19/2014 at 7:19 am

      This is an excellent assessment of what has happened in Egypt after a revolution that seemed so promising. We are back to the days of President Mubarak with a much more overt and brutal military face. This reminds me of the poem by the Iranian poet Nader Naderpour written after the disappointing results of the Iranian revolution:

      In my homeland
      After the dawn of blood
      There is no sign of the sun

      However, what kept the clerical regime in Iran going was its appeal to people's religious sentiment and above all to the disastrous war imposed by Saddam Hussein on Iran that consolidated the revolution. The Egyptian military will find it much more difficult to justify its harsh rule after a massive and popular revolution.

  • American Public Pushes back against AIPAC Senators seeking Iran Conflict
    • Mark, I usually enjoy reading your well-informed comments on this site and I learn a great deal from them, but I do not see the connection between your comment and what I had to say. Even if we know that Hezbollah has 40,000 Iranian rockets (how do we know that, apart from some Israeli claims?) Israel has shown that she is more than a match both for Lebanon and Hezbollah. Of course, Israel is concerned about its citizens’ safety, as she should be, but my point was about the clause in the Senate bill S. 1881, committing the United States to provide “diplomatic, military and economic support to the Government of Israel” if she takes military action against “Iran’s nuclear weapons program”. I believe to give a free hand to a foreign government to launch an attack on another country on the excuse of self-defense against Iran’s non-existent nuclear weapons and then commit America to provide military support for that aggression is strange and an abdication of national responsibility.

    • Thank goodness that civil society is still strong in the United States, although it seems that it is not as strong as those who are pushing for war. In the same way that public opposition to an attack on Syria, helped by a vote against it in the UK Parliament, put an end to what would have been a disastrous decision, what is needed now is much greater level of public opposition to the AIPAC-backed bill to torpedo the agreement with Iran and potentially to pave the way for another catastrophic war in the Middle East.

      The Senate bill S. 1881 makes it clear what the ultimate aim of its sponsors is. It says that If Israel is "compelled to take military action in legitimate self-defense against Iran's nuclear weapons program," the United States should stand with Israel and provide ... diplomatic, military and economic support to the Government of Israel in defense of its territory, people and existence." It gives a blank check to a foreign government that has described the Iranians as the Nazis and has said that it is 1938 all over again to launch an attack on Iran at a time of its choosing on the excuse of Iran’s non-existent nuclear weapons, and it commits the United States to provide diplomatic, military and economic support for that act of aggression. Such abdication of national responsibility over an issue as important as war and peace is almost unprecedented in history.

  • Messianic Israeli Minister obsessed with Palestinian Land accuses Kerry of Messianic Obsession
    • Mr Watson, that is a big topic and requires one or more articles. Iranian-American relations have not always been bad. In fact, for many decades Iran was a main pillar of US foreign policy in the Middle East. We may not get back to that position again in the near future but a reduction in mutual hostility is a good start. The fact is that the bulk of Iranians are pro-American and would like to have friendly relations with the rest of the world. The following link provides some ideas about the benefits of good relations:
      link to

    • Yaalon's comments reveal Israel's real intentions, to keep talking about the "Peace Process", but never to do anything tangible to bring it about. If an American administration tries to take some serious steps towards ending the conflict that clearly is a nuisance and a threat to those who want to continue with the expansion of the settlements and occupying more Palestinian territory.

  • Dubai Calls for End to Iran Sanctions, Says no Nuclear Threat
    • Contrary to the myth created by some sections of Western media that the Persian Gulf countries back Israel's opposition to Iranian nuclear deal with the West, practically all those countries have welcomed the Geneva agreement. Oman facilitated the meetings between Iranian and American diplomats. Last month UAE’s foreign minister visited Tehran, and Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif made a successful tour of Persian Gulf states, including Oman, Kuwait and Qatar. Even Saudi Arabia welcomed the Geneva agreement, but Iran and Saudi Arabia have serious differences over Syria where the Saudis back the insurgents and Iran backs President Bashar Asad’s government. Iranian foreign minister visited Beirut last Sunday and talked to the Lebanese president and other officials.

      Last week Iranian foreign minister visited Turkey and the two sides talked about expanding their trade relations. In 2013 the volume of annual trade between the two countries was just short of $15 billion despite the sanctions, in the current year it is estimated to rise to $30 billion, and they aim to raise it further to $50 billion by the end of 2015. Turkish prime minister is due to visit Tehran at the end of January, and Iranian President Rouhani has been invited to visit Turkey within the next few months. So, contrary to the myth, Israel and its backers in Congress are alone in opposing the deal.

  • Top Ten Ways Ariel Sharon Ruined Israel and the Middle East
    • At a time when a number of world leaders are heading to Jerusalem to take part in Ariel Sharon's funeral and no doubt many tributes will be paid to him it is important to be reminded of his real legacy for the Israelis and Palestinians as set out in this brilliant obituary.

      His worst legacy was that he perpetuated and institutionalized the notion that “might makes right”, and to use force and violence to subdue defenseless Palestinians. This logic is going to fail in the long term because what the Israelis as a small minority in the Middle East need more than anything else is acceptance by their neighbors not their short-term subjugation by force that will not remain for ever. Even if the Americans and Israelis manage to impose an unjust solution on the Palestinians in their moment of weakness it will be reversed when the present realities in the Middle East change. Sharon made the cause of reconciliation and true friendship between the Israelis and the Palestinians much more difficult to achieve.

  • New Congressional Sanctions on Iran Will Backfire . . . on Congress
    • Farhang Jahanpour 01/14/2014 at 7:53 am

      I am not a fan of Ayatollah Khamenei, but the usual reference to him as the unelected Supreme Leader of Iran is simply wrong. First of all, the term "Supreme Leader" is a title bestowed on him by Western media. In Persian he is referred to simply as "the esteemed" or "the honorable" leader of the revolution. He was elected two terms as Iran's president with higher than usual number of votes, and he was also elected as the leader by the Assembly of Experts, an assembly of senior clerics whose members are elected by the public. You may disapprove of Iranians elections, but to say that he was unelected is simply wrong.

  • Recognizing Israel as a Jewish State is like saying the US is a White State
    • Farhang Jahanpour 01/06/2014 at 7:38 am

      One of our main objections to states such as Iran and Saudi Arabia is that they give a special status to Islam and discriminate against other religious minorities. If India were to call itself a Hindu state, Japan a Buddhist state, Egypt an Islamic state, the United States a Christian state, and Israel a Jewish state where will all that lead to? What will be the status of 150 million Muslims in India, or some 10 million Copts in Egypt, or 1.7 million Palestinians in Israel? Surely instead of going back to the Middle Ages and define countries by their religions, the time has come to move forward and establish states in which there is a separation of religion and politics and people are citizens by right rather than due to their religious affiliation.

  • Israel Rejects Kerry Proposal to Relinquish Control of Palestine-Jordan Border, Endangering Talks
    • Israel’s “very painful concessions” seem to involve recognizing a Palestinian entity with a large number of Israeli settlements in the 20 per cent of historical Palestinian territory that may form the future territory of the Palestinian state, with over half a million Israeli settlers occupying part of that small territory, with no right of return for millions of Palestinians who were forced out of their homes, and the whole place being surrounded by Israeli forces, and no clear concessions on Jerusalem, something resembling a larger Gaza. It is time to give up this charade and allow UN General Assembly and Security Council resolutions on Israel and Palestine to be implemented without a US veto.

  • Iraq Gov't Collapsing as 44 Sunni MPs Withdraw from Parliament
    • The disastrous neocon policy for the Middle East has wreaked havoc and is spreading chaos everywhere. The illegal US invasion of Iraq has not brought democracy to that country. On the contrary, it has killed hundreds of thousands, displaced millions, created a fertile ground for Al-Qaida and other militant groups and has given rise to a failed state. The chances are that the same scenario will be repeated in Afghanistan.

      The campaign launched against Syria in order to weaken Iran and break the link between Iran and Hizballah has again killed well over a hundred thousand people, displaced millions and is now spreading to Lebanon, as well as to Iraq and Jordan. In a bold move, the former French Foreign Minister Roland Dumas admitted that plans to topple the Syrian Assad-government were in the making prior to the outbreak of the “crisis”. He confirmed that the plan was to accomplish the war on Syria through “an invasion of rebels”. Dumas went on to say: “Consequently, everything that moves in the region… and I have this from a former Israeli Prime Minister who told me ´we will try to get on with our neighbors but those who don´t agree with us will be destroyed. It is a type of politics, a view of history, why not after all. But one should know about it.” link to

      The Persian Gulf monarchies that are supporting the insurgency in Syria and Iraq are foolishly preparing for their own destruction at the hand of the militants. Instead of another war on Iran that will set the entire region ablaze, what is needed is for a serious attempt at establishing mechanisms for regional security, involving Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Persian Gulf littoral states, Syria and Israel. The alternative is chaos and destruction for many decades to come.

  • American Studies Association to Boycott Israeli Institutions in Historic Vote
    • Farhang Jahanpour 12/17/2013 at 2:25 pm

      This is good news not only for the hard-pressed Palestinians who live as stateless citizens under occupation and oppression, but it is only good news for all the decent and democratically minded Israelis who wish to get rid of apartheid in their country. The sanctions against South Africa did not only liberate the blacks, but it also liberated White South Africans from the guilt of oppression and discrimination against their fellow citizens. Let us hope that concerted action by many more democratically-minded people in the West will free the Palestinians and the Jews from the clutches of rightwing governments that have ruled them over the past few decades.

  • Can Mandela's Truth and Reconciliation Heal the Middle East?
    • Farhang Jahanpour 12/10/2013 at 8:03 am

      Thank you for another clarion call for sanity and justice. Watching that short clip has shown me that forgiveness is much more powerful than revenge. Those who think "Truth and Reconciliation" is an easy way out should watch this to see that it is the most powerful response to violence and the cycle of revenge.

  • Top 10 errors in Netanyahu's Speech Demanding Iran give up 'Genocidal' Policies
    • Farhang Jahanpour 12/10/2013 at 7:13 am

      Many thanks for this illuminating account, which is totally missing from the corporate media. Falsehoods and exaggerations, such as Ahmadinejad allegedly threatening to wipe Israel off the map or the latest remarks of Khamenei as distasteful as they are, are repeated long enough until they are treated as facts and shape public perception.

      The first sentence of the quote from Netanyahu’s speech gives a clue to his real agenda: “Our best efforts to reach Palestinian-Israeli peace will come to nothing if Iran succeeds in building atomic bombs.” This is the game that Israeli leaders have played successfully for many decades to avoid discussing the Palestinian issue. For the past half a century, Israel has used an imaginary foreign threat to continue its occupation of Palestinian lands. Those who have followed the Arab-Israeli conflict know very well that Gamal Abdel Naser, Hafiz al-Assad, Saddam Hussein, Yasser Arafat and Ahmadinejad were all described as Hitler and any negotiation with them was a repetition of Munich Agreement and a sign of appeasement. Now it seems President Rouhani who has come with a message of peace and wishes to resolve the conflict over Iran’s nuclear program is going to be subjected to the same treatment. This shows that the deal with Iran is by no means guaranteed and Israel and her powerful friends in US Congress will do everything to kill it.

  • GOP: No Climate Change because, Bible
    • It is truly amazing that in technologically the most developed country of the world there are seemingly sane people in positions of power who still hold such nonsensical ideas that one hoped we had left behind a long time ago. Somebody should ask them if they really believe that the world was created six thousand years ago over six days as set out in the Bible too. Some of them presumably do. It is scary to think that these people with the belief in the End Days and the Armageddon also have the power to start wars and crusades and kill hundreds of thousands of fellow human beings on the basis of some ancient myths.

  • US-Iran War Averted by Agreement to Negotiate on Nuclear Enrichment
    • Dear Bjorn,
      Sorry, I have just seen your comment and kind words about me. I still publish widely, but sadly I have not published any article on Informed Comment recently. I have published quite a few articles on TFF recently.

    • Dear Angryspittle, No, I am not Mansour Farhang, I am Farhang Jahanpour

    • The interim agreement that was reached with Iran was excellent news for both Iran and the West:

      1-It is a major step towards non-proliferation without the use of force, while also accepting – at least implicitly – the rights of the NPT members to uranium enrichment.

      2- It is a major step forward for world peace and it has saved the Middle East from another disastrous war. It shows the difference between Bush’s and Obama’s approaches to world politics. While President Bush resorted to the use of force to impose his will illegally on other nations, President Obama has tried to impose his views through dialog and diplomatic means without massive loss of life and huge costs.

      3- It will stabilize the Middle East that has been suffering from instability since the outbreak of the Iranian revolution, both as the result of the revolutionary zeal of Iranian leaders, as well as the military means that were used to contain it, most notably the disastrous Iran-Iraq war that killed and wounded more than a million people and caused hundreds of millions of dollars worth of damage to Iran and Iraq.

      4- On the Iranian side, it has also shown the difference between the approaches of Ahmadinejad and Rouhani. While Ahmadinezhad with the use of the stick and radicalism did not achieve much, Rouhani in a few short months with the use of the carrot and a more conciliatory approach has managed to seal an interim deal with the West.

      5- It has brought Iran in out of the cold and hopefully will reintegrate it into the international community, and will shore up the forces that are fighting for greater democracy and human rights in Iran.

      6- The deal has shown that great powers, including China and Russia, can work together to resolve one of the most dangerous challenges of recent years. This may open the way for more cooperation between the United States, Europe, Russia and China to deal with critical problems, as they did in the case of chemical weapons in Syria.

      7- The agreement has put an end to the military approach advocated by Israel and Saudi Arabia who seemed to have formed a tacit agreement to push for war in order to serve their own hegemonic interests.

      8. Perhaps above all, one of the greatest benefits of this deal has been to put some limits, at least for the time being, on the Israeli Lobby and their rightwing supporters in the Congress. It may make many people realize that the Lobby is not invincible and when it suits American interests it can be confronted and defeated. The various pro-Israeli lobbies and their affiliated media pulled out all the stops to oppose the deal.

      9- Hopefully, this deal and the failure of Netanyahu’s military solution will encourage the more peace-loving Israelis to turn to greater moderation, reaching an agreement with their Palestinian neighbors and elect a more moderate government.

      10- Finally, it is important to bear in mind that as an interim deal it is only the first step and the real battle starts now. We can be sure that the Israelis, the Saudis and hardliners in Congress will work hard to derail the deal and again lead the world towards confrontation. Netanyahu has already expressed his extreme displeasure with the deal. We should not let down our guard prematurely and should push for a long-term realistic, fair, balanced and equal deal with Iran.

  • American Writers are Self-Censoring to Avoid NSA Scrutiny (McCauley)
    • For a long time, Iranian writers and poets looked to America as the land of freedom and democracy and tried to learn from it to improve their society. Under the Shah, constant scrutiny by SAVAK meant that Iranians had to engage in self-censorship or learn to write in clever ways that would fool the ignorant censors. Sadly, that situation has continued under the present regime, and in many ways it is much worse than it was under the Shah. May be now, Iranians can reciprocate and teach their fellow-American writers how to evade the censors.

      Practically all leading writers and poets in Iran have complained about the lack of intellectual freedom. A great Iranian poet, Mehdi Akhavan-e Sales (1928-1990), blamed his contemporary generation for allowing that situation to continue. In a powerful poem, speaking on behalf of the ruins of Susa, he conveyed his message about the “spineless” generation:

      O spineless generation…
      Spineless generation, you have been imagined
      From nothing, you who are an effigy
      You who cast no reflection! …
      O how many days and how many nights
      Have come and have gone.
      Either destroy me, level me with the dust,
      Sweep me away, or rebuild me,
      O spineless generation…

      His other powerful poem 'Zemestan' (Winter) contains another bitter attack on his contemporaries, and symbolically expresses the chilly and frozen atmosphere that he experiences:

      They don't want to answer your greetings –
      Heads are in collars.
      Nobody wants to raise his head to answer
      Or to see a friend.
      Eyes can see only one step ahead
      For the road is dark and slippery.
      And if you extend a hand of love toward another
      With reluctance will he take out a hand from under his arm
      For the cold cuts hard.
      The breath which comes out of the warm space of your chest
      Turns into cloud, stands like a wall before your eyes.

      Ahmad Shamlu, a formidable critic of the former regime who had called on his compatriots to rise up, shortly after the victory of the revolution summed up the feeling of most of his fellow-poets in a poem called 'Dar in Bonbast' (In this dead-end road), in which the post-revolutionary period is described as a new and worse kind of hell:

      They sniff your mouth,
      Lest you've said, 'I love you,'
      They sniff your heart.
      These are strange times, darling…

      And they whip love
      On the barricades…
      We must hide love in the backroom of the house.
      They keep the fire burning
      In this crooked dead-end of the Cold
      With fuel
      Of songs and poems.

      Don't endanger yourself
      By thinking.
      These are strange times, darling…

      Whoever pounds on the door at night
      Has come to kill the light…
      We must hide light in the backroom of the house.

      They are the butchers
      Standing at the crossroads
      With clubs and bloody cleavers.
      These are strange times, darling…

      And they excise the smile
      From the lips, and the song from the mouth…
      We must hide Joy in the backroom of the house.

      The canary roasting
      Over a fire of lilies and jasmines
      These are strange times, darling…
      Drunk and victorious
      Satan feasts our mourning…
      We must hide God in the backroom of the house.

      Let us hope that things will not go that far in the United States. The only thing that keeps the United States from following the path of other totalitarian states in the past is the freedom of expression, uniquely enshrined in American constitution. It should be cherished and protected before it is too late.

  • Is the White House Right that More Iran Sanctions put US on "Path to War?"
    • Thank you for this clear and important column that shows the dangers of a possible war, much worse than the Iraq and Afghanistan wars combined. It is true that some of those who are opposing a US-Iranian deal are unaware of the consequences, but there are some who know the alternative and are deliberately pushing for it.

      It is now clear that those who celebrated the demise of the neocons did so prematurely. The inconclusive talks in Geneva prove the power of the Israeli lobby not only in the United States but also in many European countries, especially France. It is now clear where Fabius received his orders from as Gareth Porter explains link to The fact that Secretary Kerry found it fit to blame Iran for the breakdown of the talks erodes Iranian and international confidence in US good faith. Instead of misdirecting the blame, Secretary Kerry could have been more forthright with Fabius, but he too refused to confirm Iran’s right to enrichment link to

      However, it is not the end of the road and the failure of talks in Geneva should not be allowed to derail the constructive talks and provide an excuse for the warmongers. link to

      The best solution is to convene another meeting at the ministerial level and this time push for an “end game” agreement and bring the protracted nuclear talks with Iran that have lasted for over ten years to a satisfactory conclusion. Otherwise, it is certain that the warmongers will not sit still and will find excuses to get the United States involved in another disastrous war.

  • France Crashes the Geneva Party, Scuttles Iran Deal
    • As usual, a very balanced and informative piece, but I would like to make a couple of points about it. In my view, Laurent Fabius’s efforts to derail the agreement between Iran and the P5+1 had less to do with the desire to forge a new position for France in the Middle East than to the following three factors:
      One: A change of French outlook towards Israel. It is true that in the past the French government had been opposed to Iraq war and followed relatively enlightened policies. That was under Jacque Chirac, but since the election of Nicolas Sarkozy the French policy towards the Middle East changed in favor of Israel. Shortly after coming to power in a speech Sarkozy bluntly pointed out that in future France would not adopt an impartial stance towards the Arabs and the Israelis but would strongly favor Israel. That policy has continued under Francois Hollande.
      Two: Hollande’s forthcoming visit to Israel. He is due to visit Israel in the coming days and is also scheduled to speak before the Knesset next week. After Netanyahu’s strong outburst against the deal with Iran, this is a gift that France is taking to Netanyahu.
      Three: Laurent Fabius’s strong pro-Israeli sentiments. Going beyond all the other foreign ministers, all of whom are close friends of Israel, Fabius insisted that “Israel’s security concerns should not be ignored at the Geneva talks”. Of course, he said nothing about Iran’s security concerns, Israel’s nuclear arsenal and her constant threats to attack Iran.

      In my view, the issue of Arak reactor is quite bogus because it is not a proliferation problem. A prominent expert in the field, Peter Jenkins, a British career diplomat and former UK Ambassador to the IAEA, in an article in response to Netanyahu’s charges wrote: “To extract plutonium from spent reactor fuel a reprocessing facility is necessary. Neither the IAEA nor US intelligence has ever come across evidence of an Iranian reprocessing facility. Iran has assured friend and foe for the last ten years that it has no intention of acquiring a reprocessing capability.” link to

      Today, Mark Thomason commented in New York Times: “It is just not true that the Arak reactor is a proliferation problem. Just the opposite.

      First, a heavy water reactor uses natural uranium fuel without enrichment. In that way it is the opposite of a proliferation problem, it is an alternative to enrichment.

      Second, the sort of plutonium needed for a bomb requires the fuel rods be removed and replaced every six weeks, so that plutonium does not turn into other things not usable in a bomb. The bomb stuff is a transitional product. Pulling a reactor core every six weeks is a really obvious thing to do. They say they won't, we'll have monitors, and even without monitors we'd see something that big done every six weeks.

      Third, the fuel rods are very dangerous. See the Japanese problem today.

      Fourth, the plutonium removal process is even more dangerous, so much so that the Japanese for one never attempted it. The stuff is poisonous on the scale of polonium, and so difficult to work with, and any accidental concentration over five kilos goes off as a nuclear blast. It is like working with black powder, plus it will poison you if the smallest speck of dust gets on you.

      Fifth, the Iranians do not have any plant to do that work, and it would be a big complex plant we'd notice, and a train of nuclear cores going into it every six weeks would be really obvious too.

      This is not a real problem. This is hysteria being used as an excuse for other things.”
      link to

  • Top Reasons Israel's Likud Really Opposes an Iran Nuclear Deal
    • I really cannot understand the rightwing Israeli logic that an Iran that has friendly relations with the United States and the West is more of a threat to them than an Iran that is hostile to the West.

      The other important point is the total disregard of international law. According to the NPT, which contrary to Israel Iran has joined, all member states have "the inalienable right" to have access to peaceful nuclear technology and all that goes with it. It is quite extraordinary that a country that has illegally amassed a large number of nuclear weapons and has not joined the NPT wants to deny a member state of its rights under that treaty.

      The other extraordinary fact is that the rest of the world tolerates this ridiculous situation and has remained silent about Israeli nuclear arsenal. The key to ensuring the security of all Middle Eastern states is to push for a Nuclear-Free Zone in the Middle East and force Israel to declare and destroy her nuclear weapons under international inspection.

  • It wasn't Arafat who was Assassinated but the Palestinian People
    • It was a widespread belief among the Palestinians and even some Israelis that the Israelis had poisoned Yasser Arafat. Even during his final illness many prominent Palestinians speculated that he was suffering from poisoning. Ghada Karmi, a London-based Palestinian physician said as much: link to
      Uri Avnery, a former member of Knesset, also believed that Arafat had been poisoned link to
      He also rightly pointed out that his death was a loss not only to the Palestinians but to any prospect of peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis because he had the personal authority to sign a peace deal with Israel link to
      Of course, certain people such as Sharon and Netanyahu never wanted to reach a peace settlement with the Palestinians. Therefore, they regarded his death as a means of the continuation of the occupation.

  • CIA Drone Kills Pakistan Taliban Leader on Eve of Peace talks with Islamabad
    • It is also a bit of a cut and mouse game between Pakistan and Afghanistan. When the Afghans wanted to speak directly to the Taliban, Pakistani authorities prevented it because they do not like to lose their control over the Taliban and when the Pakistanis want to talk to them the Americans kill them, probably on behalf of the Afghans to prevent the Pakistanis from having the initiative. It is all sad for all the poor people who get killed in this senseless tit for tat game.

  • Top Ten Reasons the US should Stay out of Iraq and put Conditions on Arms Sales
    • In his Op-Ed in New York Times, Prime Minister Maliki said that his country needed air defense capabilities in order to defend itself against “better-armed neighbors”. link to
      At the moment, Iraq is not facing a conventional war by any of her neighbors, but Iraq is facing a deadly insurgency with over 7,000 killed this year alone, the worst figure for the past five years. It is clear that the insurgency is not totally home-grown but is part of the regional Sunni uprising and an extension of “the Islamic Emirate of Sham and Iraq”, in other words a militant Sunni state covering both Syria and Iraq and extending to Saudi Arabia and Persian Gulf littoral states. The success of these terrorist groups is not in anyone’s interest. While Iraq does not need sophisticated fighter aircraft, it certainly can do with helicopters and other equipment to stem the tide of the militant Salafis and other jihadists pouring in from Syria.

      The United States – or rather the Bush Administration – was certainly the cause of the civil war, but after all the sacrifices in lives and treasure, the United States should make sure that Iraq does not become another failed state like Somalia or increasingly Syria. As Maliki said in his Op-Ed, Iraq is not a US protectorate but a partner. Many people in the Congress may feel bad that Iraq did not allow US forces to remain in Iraq, but their misplaced anger should not prevent the United States from being on friendly terms with an independent Iraq and help it develop into a more democratic state than it actually is at present. Some may say that after the suffering that the United States has caused Iraq over the past few decades it actually owes her as much.

  • The American Quagmire in Afghanistan by the Numbers (21,565 US Troops Dead or Wounded)
    • It is very useful to have these figures so clearly displayed to show us the futility of making war to achieve peace, or to bring democracy and human rights to a country or to engage in nation-building.

      However, although even the death of a single person is regrettable and it is obscene to get engaged in a numbers game, it seems that the figure of 15,000 for the number of Afghan civilians killed is very conservative. One study published in October 2011, or more than two years ago, put the estimate of the number of civilian casualties to range from 11,400 to 34,000 by then, and that was a study that tried to report favorably about the number of casualties in that war compared to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. link to

      Other studies have put the number much higher than the above estimates. According to a report by a prominent Guardian reporter, Jonathan Steele, as many as 20,000 Afghans died in 2001 alone as the result of the initial US airstrikes and ground invasion. link to
      Of course, if one adds to those figures, the number of civilians killed by insurgent forces the total number would be much higher.

  • The American Genocide Against Iraq: 4% of Population Dead as result of US sanctions, wars
    • Those who are quibbling about whether the two invasions of Iraq constituted genocide or not should view the two following short videos. I must warn that they are quite gruesome.
      link to
      link to

      The blog also said nothing of the use of depleted uranium that will continue killing many people in Iraq for decades to come.
      link to

      Of course, the vast majority of Americans had no knowledge of this and were not responsible for it, but the sad thing is that those who were responsible have not been prosecuted.

  • Top Ten Ways the US and Iran could avoid a Catastrophic War
    • This blog provides a clear and realistic roadmap for not only avoiding another catastrophic war in the Middle East but also for resolving the disputes between Iran and the West and the resumption of relations with the United States. Judging by the comments that have been made on the margins of the meeting between Iran and P5+1 in Geneva over 15 and 16 October, it seems that the Iranian side is prepared to accept nearly all points in return for the lifting of the sanctions.
      The first point, namely Iran stopping to be prickly and nationalistic, seems to be the most difficult, in the same way that it would be difficult for the US not to see itself as an exceptional country or as the sole super-power, but the election of Rouhani at least shows that the majority of Iranians have become tired of isolationism. Rouhani has actually threatened that he would put his proposal of détente with the West to a referendum if hardliners try to block it. He will be sure of getting a huge majority for his policies.

      Even under Ahmadinezhad Iran offered to give up enrichment to 19.5 per cent if there was a guarantee that Iran would receive the needed fuel for its medical reactor in Tehran. As to the issue of real-time monitoring, Iran has indicated that she would be ready to join the Additional Protocol, which would allow for unannounced inspection, as the end result of the talks. Iran’s deputy foreign minister Abbas Aragchi, who is currently leading the negotiations, has actually said as much. link to
      The sanctions were imposed allegedly for stopping Iran acquiring nuclear weapons. If Iran’s enrichment program comes under constant supervision of the IAEA, logically there will be no further ground for maintaining the sanctions. The Iranians would like to know of the endgame, namely lifting of sanctions for absolute guarantee of a peaceful enrichment program.
      I believe that getting the support of the US Congress would be the most difficult part of the equation. Only a few days ago a group of influential US senators in a letter to President Obama said that sanctions on Iran should be lifted only if Iran stops enrichment altogether link to
      In fact, as most participants in the talks make optimistic noises about a workable solution, Netanyahu again threatens to carry out a pre-emptive strike on Iran. link to
      So the real obstacle to a deal does not seem to rest with the Iranian side, but with Israel and its American friends.

  • Netanyahu and Iranian Jeans: Ironies of Modernity and Tradition
    • Dear RD Sultan,

      I am sorry I did not keep a record of the poll that I saw about a year ago that put the number of Iranians who attend Friday prayers regularly to be less than five per cent. I was surprised by that too. However, this does not mean that the majority of Iranians are not pious and religious, but some of the exhibitions of religiosity is definitely state sponsored. In the link that you have quoted above it says "The Islamic regime claims that Iranians have become more religious." Judging by personal contacts and other evidence clearly many Iranians have been turned off religion as the result of the excesses of the Iranian government, like what one can see in the link that Amir has provided.

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