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Total number of comments: 337 (since 2013-11-28 14:42:47)

F Jahanpour

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  • Elbaradei: Trump Propaganda on Iran Nuclear Deal like Run-up to Iraq War
    • It is interesting to note that while the whole world has opposed what President Trump said, the Israeli Prime Minister was the only one who openly congratulated Trump for his “courageous decision”, while Saudi Arabia’s support has been more muted. The problem with the Israelis was not the details of the deal. They did not want the United States to have any deal with Iran because it might bring the two countries closer together, as surely the deal did. Their aim from the start had been to demonize and isolate Iran with the hope of inciting a US war against her.

      The speech has definitely strengthened the hardliners in Iran who see Trump’s hostility as the vindication of their warnings that America could no be trusted. President Rouhani has put a brave face on it, saying: “Today the United States is more than ever isolated in its opposition to the nuclear deal and in its plots against the Iranian people. What was heard today was nothing but the repetition of baseless accusations and swear words that they have repeated for years.” He said of Trump: “He has not studied international law. Can a president annul a multilateral international treaty on his own? Apparently he does not know that this agreement is not a bilateral agreement solely between Iran and the United States.”

      However, as ElBaradei says, the speech certainly brings to mind the run up to Iraq war, and may mark the beginning of greater hostilities between the two countries. It all depends on what steps Congress and hardliners in Iran take. Contrary to the period under President Obama when various incidents at sea could be easily resolved, this time any incident could be used as an excuse for a major confrontation. So, on the whole, the speech has done a great deal of harm to relations between Iran and the United States and to the cause of peace in the Middle East.

      As for Iraq, last night there were some clashes in Kirkuk between Iraqi and Kurdish forces and those clashes will definitely intensify.

  • Germany: Immediate Danger of Mideast War if Trump dumps Iran Deal
    • Farhang Jahanpour 10/13/2017 at 3:55 pm

      The head of the IAEA Yukiya Amano responds quickly to Trump's speech and says that "Iran is subject to the world’s most robust nuclear verification regime."
      link to iaea.org

    • Farhang Jahanpour 10/13/2017 at 8:58 am

      In addition to the German foreign minister and a number of other European, Russian and Chinese officials, Federica Mogherini, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs, who was also the EU’s chief representative at the nuclear talks, has categorically rejected Trump’s charges and has said that the EU will abide by the deal:
      link to pbs.org

      However, words alone are not enough. If Iranians see that despite warm words they are not reaping the benefits of the deal, they will pull out of it. There is no doubt that the statement that was released this morning by the Office of the Press Secretary at the White House about Trump’s new policy towards Iran bears the hallmark of Netanyahu and his supporters in the White House who write Trump’s speeches for him.

      The main question that US lawmakers and the international community must ask themselves is whether for the sake of appeasing Israel’s ultra-rightwing prime minister it is right to drag the Middle East through another devastating war and perhaps start a global conflict, or whether the time has finally come to tell Israel to resolve the Palestinian issue and put an end to this long simmering conflict, which is at the root of all the other conflicts in the Middle East.

  • Trump wants 10-fold increase in Atom Bombs but is after Iran, which has none
    • President Trump’s behavior is not just erratic but is becoming increasingly dangerous. Does he really understand what nuclear weapons do? Does he know that a global confrontation will practically put an end to human civilization? Has anyone told him that even a limited nuclear war would make life unbearable for hundreds of millions of people throughout the world? The most recent bilateral agreement between the United States and Russia, New Start, achieved in 2010, commits the two sides to reducing deployed strategic nuclear warheads to 1550 by 2018, now Trump wants to increase US nuclear weapons tenfold! Does he have any respect for international agreements? At a time when everyone is worried about nuclear proliferation, he seems to be completely oblivious to the greatest danger that mankind is facing. He is going after Iran that has no nuclear weapons and wants to totally destroy North Korea with “fire and fury the like of which the world has never seen”, yet he seems to be totally oblivious of Israel’s nuclear arsenal amassed through deceit and deception. Congress should step in and stop this madness that threatens the entire globe.

  • Trump and the Faustian Bargain of Corker and the GOP
    • Farhang Jahanpour 10/10/2017 at 5:42 am

      Does this mean that Trump is about to lose his majority in the Senate? He seems to be shooting himself in the foot by antagonizing the chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations at a time when he is involved in so many hot international disputes.

  • Former US Allies peeling off under Trump: Turkey halts US Visas
    • I am really impressed by the ability and willingness of the Americans to engage in self-criticism and introspection. This is a wonderful trait and it is a sign of strength. As someone who has been critical of U.S. foreign policy during the past few decades, I should say that I am not so pessimistic about America's future. America is still by far the most dominant military and economic, and yes moral, power in the world, despite the major mistakes by its recent politicians. I think that the situation is not irreversible. When I think about other powers and whether I would like to live under the hegemony of another power rather than America, I still feel that America has many strengths: freedom of expression, the good nature of most of its citizens, its general feeling of benevolence, its love for freedom and democracy, its optimism, its unbounded energy and creativity, etc. I am hoping that Trump's disastrous presidency will provide the necessary jolt to put America back on a proper course, which would be good both for America and for the world. It is the make or break period. America will either emerge out of this dark period stronger and more humane, or it will drag the rest of the world to the abyss with it. Let's hope and let's work for the first option.

  • Was Ayatollah Khamenei right about Washington? Trump Reneges
    • Farhang Jahanpour 10/09/2017 at 9:55 am

      What is more important to remember is that Iran's offer of a grand bargain did not come out of US invasion of Iraq, but was prepared after the United States overthrew the Taliban with which Iran nearly went to war when they killed eight Iranian diplomats and a journalist after they overrun Mazar-i-Sharif. At that time, the State Department warned Iran in no uncertain terms not to take action against the Taliban who had come to power with US blessing and support through Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Pakistan.

      The document that you refer to made the rounds in Iran from October 2002 and was then given to Swiss ambassador in Tehran who took care of US interests in Iran. The delivery of that message was delayed due to the preparations for the Iraq war and was finally handed to Dick Cheney in April 2003 who allegedly responded: "We do not deal with evil", because he and other hawks in the administration were already contemplating an attack on Iran. President Khatami was very keen on improving relations with the United States, but that rebuff weakened the Reformers and led to the victory of Ahmadinejad in the next round of presidential election.

      If Trump kills the nuclear deal for no apparent reason except to undermine President Obama’s achievements and implement Netanyahu’s wishes this will again discredit the Iranian Reformers and will pave the way for the victory of the hardliners, if not an actual war between the two countries.

      Yesterday, Senator Bob Corker said that Trump’s volatility could spark World War III. He added: “He would have to concern anyone who cares about our nation.” In an interview with the New York Times on Sunday he added that the “vast majority” of congressional Republicans were concerned with the president’s volatile behavior and that rhetoric from the White House could set America “on the path to World War III.” He went on to say: “Look, except for a few people, the vast majority of our caucus understands what we’re dealing with here,” Corker continued. “Of course they understand the volatility that we’re dealing with and the tremendous amount of work that it takes by people around him to keep him in the middle of the road.” Well, if this is the case, Congress is neglecting its constitutional responsibility to impeach a president who is not fit for office.

    • Farhang Jahanpour 10/06/2017 at 6:11 am

      You are absolutely right to point out that Trump carries a great share of responsibility for reneging on the nuclear deal with Iran. Unfortunately, he is not the only or even the main culprit. He is acting merely as a conscious or unconscious agent of the Neoconservatives. The subversion of the nuclear deal is the final triumph of Netanyahu and his agents in the United States. One of the aims of the Israelis, even before the domination of rightwing governments in that country, has been to weaken all the states in the Middle East to remove any competition or threat to the continuous expansion of Israeli occupation. However, that goal has intensified under Netanyahu. He addressed the Congress during the lead up to the Iraq war and said that there was no question whatsoever that Saddam was developing nuclear weapons, and that the only solution was to remove him link to youtube.com
      After Saddam was removed and Iraq was destroyed the Israeli rightwing leaders concentrated on Iran. Immediately after the invasion of Iraq, Ariel Sharon said that Iran was the next country to be attacked, something that President Bush contemplated with his Axis of Evil speech written for him by David Frum. The Iraqi war did not prove a “cakewalk” as Kenneth Adelman, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, Dick Cheney and others had said it would be. So that plot had to be postponed for a while, but when President Obama decided to allow Iran limited enrichment on her soil to which she is entitled under the IAEA, daggers were drawn again. Netanyahu even addressed the joint session of Congress to argue against the key policy of a sitting US president and was given numerous standing ovations.
      So let’s give credit where it is due. The subversion of the nuclear deal is not a Trump achievement, but a Netanyahu victory. The hostility towards Iran has nothing to do with the Iranian government’s human rights record or its foreign destabilizing activities, otherwise Saudi Arabia with its war crimes in Yemen and its support for terrorist organizations should be at the top of the list. It has nothing to do with non-proliferation, otherwise Israel with its nuclear arsenal amassed through deceit and deception should be the country that should be targeted. It has to do with Iran’s support for Hezbollah and other Lebanese and Palestinians who try to block Israel’s continuous occupation and expansionism to the neighboring countries.
      As for the Iranian distrust of US politicians, in addition to the apt comments by Ayatollah Khamenei that you have quoted, here is a comment by Brig. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, commander of IRGC air forces, made in June 2016: “Why don’t you believe the enemy’s untrustworthiness and deceit? In order to eliminate our defensive power … they tell us today not to have missiles, tomorrow they will say, ‘why do you advise in Syria?’ then ‘Why do you support Hezbollah?’…. We should never think that the enemy’s demands have a ceiling.”
      Sadly, the policies of the Trump Administration prove these US adversaries were right not to trust America. Now, it depends on Europe and the rest of the world whether they agree to another catastrophe or whether they will resist another push to a catastrophic war in the interest of Israeli rightwing.

  • Top 5 signs Donald Trump might be an effing moron
    • Farhang Jahanpour 10/06/2017 at 12:40 pm

      A government of barracks and billionaires representing the military-corporate complex has no place for diplomacy, even if its chosen chief diplomat is a former boss of Exxon Mobil. In the face of his repeated humiliation by his boss, if Rex Tillerson had any self-respect he would resign, especially as he has very little to lose and little to gain.

  • Kurdish Independence: SecState Tillerson opposes, Sen Schumer Supports
    • Farhang Jahanpour 09/30/2017 at 6:15 am

      It is touching to see that Sen. Schumer supports the independence of the Kurdish people who by the way are not occupied by Iraq and are not stateless. I expect him to issue a statement declaring “I believe the Palestinians should have an independent state as soon as possible and that the position of the United States government should be to support a political process that addresses the aspirations of the Palestinians for an independent state.”

  • Iraqi Kurdistan defiant in face of Baghdad sanctions, threats
    • Kim, the arrangement that you have made with your neighbour is a very sensible one. Instead of unilaterally declaring your independence from him and having nothing to do with him you have decided to find a way of getting along together. In today's globalised world, it is extremely difficult to live separate lives as we share so many things from climate, economy, health, security, intelligence, counter-terrorism, transport, science, etc. with other countries. What has enabled us to live peaceful lives in Britain and the United States with our neighbours has been the development of democratic governments that regulate our relations with one another. This is why in Iraq, Spain, Palestine-Israel and in other parts of the world we have to push for more democratic governments, and globally we should push for equality before the international law instead of having a few super-powers bullying us and dictating how we should live. If we want to make sure that human race survives, in a world of nuclear weapons we should soon realise that the age of warfare is over.

    • As I said in a recent interview, I was opposed to the holding of the referendum for some obvious reasons, some of which we see already. The main problem, however, will arise if and when the Kurds wish to define their boundaries and the status of some contested cities such as Kirkuk and Mosul. That could lead to serious conflict and probably ethnic cleansing. Another problem with Kurdish independence in Iraq, as well as in Iran and Turkey, is that the Kurds are scattered throughout the populations and there are many mixed communities. In fact, it is believed that Istanbul holds the largest number of Kurds of any Kurdish city.

      To see that no country welcomes being broken up, one should look at the situation in Catalonia at the heart of Europe where a referendum was due to be held this Sunday. The Spanish government has declared it illegal, but it hasn’t stopped at that. It has seized millions of ballot papers, has arrested a number of the organizers, has used excessive force against the demonstrators, has sent thousands of policemen from other parts of Spain to Barcelona to prevent voting from taking place, etc. In the new global village, the idea of ethnic or religious independence makes no sense. We have to try to find democratic ways of living together and getting along with each other.

  • UK: Is Corbyn's call to Nationalize Utilities the end of Neoliberalism?
    • It is interesting that a recent report by the centre-right Legatum Institute shows that the British public is largely in favour of Corbyn’s nationalisation policies. It shows that a decisive majority “Favour public ownership of the UK’s water (83%), electricity (77%), gas (77%) and railway (76%)… Believe taxes should rise to provide more funding for the NHS… Favour wage caps for CEOs”; and what is most interesting “Hold an unfavourable view of ‘capitalism’ as a concept, viewing it as ‘greedy’, ‘selfish’ and ‘corrupt’.” It seems that there is a big sea change in people’s attitude towards corporate capitalism as it has been practised during the past few decades. link to lif.blob.core.windows.net

    • Farhang Jahanpour 09/28/2017 at 10:36 am

      Jeremy Corbyn’s speech at the Labor Party Conference was one of the most significant speeches by a leader of any political party in recent times. During the past couple of years he had to fight twice against his own Labor Party colleagues for his job, and he was the object of universal criticism and even ridicule by the rightwing press. The transformation from a beleaguered politician to the uncontested and much admired leader of the Labor Party is truly remarkable. The Labor Party now has more members than all the other British political parties combined, as well as being the largest political party in Europe. From totally underestimating his popularity, the press is now accusing him of leading a cult. This shows the degree of their desperation and panic.

      At a time when rightwing parties have given us Trump in America and the shambles of Brexit in Britain, when leading members of the Conservative Party are at war among themselves instead of finding a coherent formula for leaving the EU, on both sides of the Atlantic we need genuine progressive parties that enjoy the support of young people. With the unending wars, the widening gap between the rich and the poor, with President Trump now proposing to give massive tax cuts to the rich at the expense of workers, the unimaginable growth of the military-industrial complex, and the growing rate of public apathy, Corbyn is precisely what Britain needs. His success could also provide a lesson to the progressive parties in America that the answer is not Republican lite, but a genuine progressive party that creates a society for the many, not the few.

  • Saudi King seeks Recognition for letting Women Drive, a basic right
    • Farhang Jahanpour 09/27/2017 at 11:59 am

      While allowing women to drive is a positive move, the Saudi government should no be allowed to use it as a propaganda ploy to divert attention from many other aspects of the regime’s behavior, such as the devastating war in Yemen, its propagation of strict Wahhabi tenets among Muslims in other countries, and its hostile attitude towards the Shi’as and the followers of other religions, etc. It should be interesting to see how the more conservative Saudis will react to this decree. Even this minor move, which will not come into effect till next June, has already given rise to a great deal of opposition.

      The problem is that the base in Saudi Arabia is even more conservative than the members of the ruling elite, but the government is trying to assert its authority and limit the power of the clerics in public life. According to the Guardian, a Saudi cleric who said that women should not drive because their brains shrink to a quarter of the size of a man’s when they go shopping has been banned from preaching. link to theguardian.com

  • How Arab Nationalism & Fundamentalism pushed away the Kurds
    • Farhang Jahanpour 09/25/2017 at 6:35 am

      Every morning when I start my reading this is the first site that I come to, because it selects what is often the most important issue of the day, at least in connection with the Middle East, and it provides a learned, insightful and impartial analysis of it. Today was no exception.

      The issue of Kurdish independence is important for the entire region. As Professor Cole rightly points out, it may not produce an immediate “domino effect” on the rest of the Middle East. However, given the large number of Kurds, constituting substantial minorities in four countries in the region and with long-standing aspirations for independence, it can have enormous repercussions later on.

      A few days ago, Tehran Times carried out an interview with me on the subject, which was published on September 23. Here is a link to Mehr Newspaper, which has republished the interview from the Tehran Times:
      link to en.mehrnews.com

  • Iranian Leader: Trump is "Disturbed," speaks like a Cowboy or Mobster
    • Farhang Jahanpour 09/22/2017 at 6:45 am

      Of course, Iranian hardliners are the last people who have any right to criticize President Trump for his hate speech, because they are the other side of the coin. The silly and meaningless chant (admittedly very rare these days and only used as a form of ritual on special occasions) of “death to America”, provocative statements such as “the regime occupying Palestine will vanish from the pages of history”, etc. are ugly and should be stopped, especially as they do not mean anything and give Iran a bad name.

      However, there is a difference between angry crowds chanting ugly slogans in some ceremonies and the leader of the most powerful country in the world saying that he intends to violate America’s promises and tear up the nuclear agreement, or his secretary of state calling for regime change. Iran is in no position to do serious harm to America, but as we have seen during the past two decades the United States is willing and able to do tremendous harm to Iran, as she has done to so many countries in the region. The great achievement of the nuclear deal was that it brought the more sensible people on the two sides to reach a landmark agreement through dialog. Instead of using that deal as a springboard for more far-reaching agreements with Iran on other issues of contention, President Trump wishes to set the clock back to a period of mutual demonization, mainly to please Netanyahu. It is sad, and the sooner cooler heads prevail on both sides the better.

  • Trump blasts Iran for backing Syria, ignores Russia, Praises Saudis
    • Farhang Jahanpour 09/21/2017 at 5:53 am

      Just compare the following excellent speech by President John F. Kennedy with the hateful and ignorant speech delivered by Trump at the UN General Assembly two days ago, and you will see how far the level of discourse by American politicians has fallen. While Kennedy spoke about peace as a process and how to achieve it, Trump spoke about totally destroying North Korea for its nuclear programme, while uttering not a word about Israel's arsenal of nuclear weapons amassed through deceit and in violation of the NPT. The same policy that Kennedy advocated towards the former Soviet Union could be carried out towards the Middle East and the Islamic world to give rise to cooperation rather than confrontation.
      link to youtu.be

    • Farhang Jahanpour 09/20/2017 at 6:10 am

      In the midst of many unresolved conflicts, the North Korean and Israeli nuclear weapons, the ongoing occupation of Palestinian lands by rightwing Israeli governments, the continuing threat of terrorism, the war in Yemen, the unfinished mayhem in Syria, relations between the West and Russia and China, and above all the climate change whose dreadful effects we are seeing in front of our eyes, all of which require multilateral cooperation, the world was yearning for leadership. It would be a gross understatement to say that in his debut at the world body Trump did not provide that leadership. Again, he resorted to the crudest form of electioneering as though he was still on the campaign trail. It was interesting to note that only Netanyahu and a couple of people around him applauded when Trump launched his bizarre attack on Iran. Apparently, they had slotted an hour for Trump’s address hoping for long applauses, but it was cut to 45 minutes as it was listened to in almost stony silence. America deserves better than this.

      As for Iranian reaction to his remarks, Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif twitted: “Trump's ignorant hate speech belongs in medieval times-not the 21st Century UN -unworthy of a reply.” Perhaps the best response to his insane hostility towards the nuclear deal was the statement issued by European Leadership Network, which shows the gulf between Trump and Europe and may be the rest of the world. link to lobelog.com

  • Trump as Stephen King's 'It': Lashing out at Clinton, N. Korea
    • The violent and chauvinistic speech that President Trump delivered at the UN General Assembly earlier today, perhaps the worst speech ever delivered from that podium, shows that what comes out of the mouth of the "leader of the free world" and the most powerful man on earth is not a joke but should be taken very seriously. The world should take a stand against such promises of total destruction and hellfire before it is too late, and before those wild statements are put into action.

  • Iraqi PM to Secessionist Kurds: "You're Playing with Fire!"
    • Farhang Jahanpour 09/18/2017 at 3:38 pm

      Despite my affection and admiration for the Kurds, I believe that holding the referendum for independence is wrong and potentially very dangerous.

      It is not the first time that the Kurds have had dreams of independence. During the First World War, trying to weaken the Ottoman Empire, Western powers promised the Kurds independence, but following the Treaty of Lausanne (1923) Kurdish territory was partitioned between Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran.

      In 1961 Mustafa Barzani, the father of Massoud Barzani, the current president of the Iraqi Kurdistan, started a rebellion under the slogan “autonomy for Kurdistan, democracy for Iraq”, but he failed to achieve either.

      In the 1970s the Shah used the Kurds in his conflict against Saddam, but when he reached the Algiers Accord with Saddam in 1975 he abandoned the Kurds, but at least he took all the Kurdish leaders to Iran and provided them with comfortable lives.

      The Iraqi Kurds were given a degree of autonomy in 1980s as the result of the no-fly zone, and after US invasion of Iraq a referendum was held in 2005 with 98% of the eligible voters supporting the region’s autonomy. The latest bid for independence will also fail due to a number of reasons:

      1- Contrary to some assumptions, the Kurds are not a unified ethno-linguistic or religious group. Kurdish belongs to the group of old Iranian languages, but nowadays the Kurds have three distinct dialects, Kurmanji, Sorani and Pahlawani. Several million Kurds also speak a non-Kurdish language, namely Zaza-Gorani. Some of these languages are written in Roman script, and others in Arabic script. The speakers of these different dialects often cannot communicate with other Kurds.

      2- Today, the Kurdish area of northern Iraq, known as the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG), is riven by a split between a Western region dominated by the party of President Massoud Barzani, the leader of the Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP); and an eastern region where the party of former Iraqi president, Jalal Talabani, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), holds sway. The KDP is based in the ‘capital’ of Erbil. The PUK, more left-of-centre, modernist and leaning towards Iran, holds sway around Sulaymaniyah. These two parties fought a civil war in the 1990s. Then there is the PKK, which is regarded as a terrorist organization by Turkey and the United States, and recently there have been growing Islamist groups among the Kurds.

      3- Since the Islamic revolution in Iran, the Israelis have been using the Kurds in their conflict against Iran. The Israelis believe that the independence of the Kurds as another non-Arab group, especially if they can turn them against Iran, would be helpful to them. Recently, the New Yorker magazine alleged that Israeli intelligence and military forces were active in Kurdish areas of Iran, Syria and Iraq, running secret operations that could destabilize the entire region. Israel has also played a big role in training Kurdish security forces since 2003. So the push for Kurdish independence is not completely homegrown, but has a number of foreign backers with ulterior motives.

      4- For once, the issue of the referendum has brought Iran and the United States to the same side. Furthermore, Iraqi, Turkish and Syrian governments, as well as France and Britain and EU as a whole are opposed to Kurdish independence. In the face of almost unanimous opposition, except for Israel and some Saudi funding, it would be counterproductive and dangerous for the Kurds to push for independence

      The answer to Kurdish problem is not independence but more autonomy and greater democracy in all the countries were they live.

  • Saudi Arabia wants to improve Image; Here's How
    • In the past, all Sunni sects regarded Jews and Christians as the “People of the Book”, while Wahhabi ideology describes them as Kafir or infidels. As early as 1959, Shaikh Mahmood Shaltoot, he head of the renowned al-Azhar Theological school in Egypt, in a fatwa wrote: “The Ja'fari school of thought, which is also known as ‘al-Shia al- Imamiyyah al-Ithna Ashariyyah’ (i.e., The Twelver Imami Shi'ites) is a school of thought that is religiously correct to follow in worship as are other Sunni schools of thought.” The Wahhabis regard the Shi’is as heretics.

      Wahhabism as it is practised these days by the Saudis has very little to do with Islam or other Sunni denominations. Only yesterday the Human Rights Watch in a statement showed the extent of hostility towards other religions by Saudi authorities and educational system.
      link to hrw.org

    • Farhang Jahanpour 09/13/2017 at 5:43 am

      You are absolutely right to point out that the Saudi regime is not the same as extreme Wahhabi ideology. However, I believe it is true to point out that the regime uses Wahhabi radicalism in order to advance its political goals. After the attack by Juhayman al-Otaybi’s gang on the Grand Mosque in Mecca with between 200-300 armed supporters on November 20, 1979, it seems that the Saudi rulers decided to co-opt Wahhabi radicals rather than crush them. The stream of truly disgusting anti-Shi’a and anti-infidel hate speech that is coming from Saudi clerics and broadcast from various Saudi media is appalling and it is in no way matched by anti-Sunni propaganda by Iran.

      Saudi Arabia has also been responsible for funding hundreds of mosques and madrassas throughout the Middle East, Pakistan, the East Asia and even in Europe that have been spreading extreme religious fanaticism and have been responsible for radicalizing many would be terrorists. According to a WikiLeaks release, Hillary Clinton said that “Saudi Arabia remains a critical financial support base for al-Qaeda, the Taliban, LeT [Lashkar-e-Taiba] in Pakistan.”

      I believe the State Department was right to point out that “While the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia takes seriously the threat of terrorism within Saudi Arabia, it has been an ongoing challenge to persuade Saudi officials to treat terrorist financing emanating from Saudi Arabia as a strategic priority…” link to wikileaks.org

      Another WikiLeaks file quoted from a speech by Hillary Clinton in 2013 when she said: “The Saudis and others are shipping large amounts of weapons – and pretty indiscriminately – not at all targeted towards the people that we think would be more moderate, least likely, to cause problems in the future.” On August 17 2014, she said: “…we need to use our diplomatic and more traditional intelligence assets to bring pressure on the governments of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, which are providing clandestine financial and logistic support to ISIL and other radical Sunni groups in the region.”

      I believe that one can add another policy to your excellent list of seven policies, namely “If Saudi Arabia wishes to be taken seriously as a modern state it should clamp down on radical religious preachers and should cut the link between religion and politics in the kingdom.” This advice should also be heeded by the clerics in Tehran.

  • What will Iran do if Trump tears up the Nuclear Agreement?
    • Farhang Jahanpour 09/12/2017 at 11:41 am

      As you point out, I do not think that Iran would move towards manufacturing nuclear weapons if Trump tears up the nuclear agreement, partly due to the religious prohibition, but mainly because of the negative effect that it would have on Iran’s security. Both the Shah before the revolution and the clerical leaders after the revolution have rightly or wrongly stated that having nuclear weapons would attract greater dangers than enhancing their security. Even Ahmadinezhad in one of his speeches during his second term said that he would not be foolish enough to go nuclear, because according to him one or a few bombs would be no answer to America’s thousands and even Israel’s hundreds of nukes.

      What the Trump Administration is doing has a number of other negative consequences.

      1- The first consequence is that it is alienating a large number of young educated Iranians who were well-disposed towards America and who looked up to it as a mature and rational country. They now see that, contrary to what they profess, the neocons in the administration and in US Congress are not just against Iranian hardliners but are looking for excuses to humiliate, isolate and ultimately attack Iran and turn it into another Iraq.

      2- The second noticeable consequence has been that a large number of Iranians who live in the United States and who are normally hostile to the clerics have begun to condemn the demonization of Iran and the real hardships that they and their relatives who wish to visit them are facing, due to visa restrictions and banking difficulties inflicted on all Iranians. Trump has already drastically curtailed cultural relations with Iran:
      link to al-monitor.com

      3- The third effect of these anti-Iranian measures has been that the hardliners in Iran have been emboldened and government officials, especially Iran’s able foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, are under a great deal of pressure. Iranian newspapers are full of articles these days saying that the Iranian officials were fooled by the promises of the lifting of sanctions. They gave up their advanced nuclear program and got nothing in return. Even a leading foreign policy advisor to Ayatollah Khamenei and the brother of Iranian Majlis speaker who is not normally regarded as a hardliner gave a long interview two days ago and called on the government to admit that they were fooled and that Ayatollah Khamenei was right to say that they could not trust the Americans. He called on the Majlis to pass a resolution saying that if America leaves the agreement Iran should also leave it and resume its nuclear work.

      3- The fourth effect of adopting a hostile policy towards Iran is that the Iranian government has no option but to move closer to Russia and China. Already, Russian and Chinese officials are making strong noises for closer links with Iran. Even President Erdogan of Turkey, a member of NATO, is buying S400 missile defense system from Russia, and Iran too is signing major economic and arms deals with both China and Russia.

      4- On a global scale, the undermining of the JCPOA will do great harm to the cause of non-proliferation as other countries see that the United States does not honor its pledges. Seeing how the US administration is treating Iran, North Korean leaders would be foolish to give up their nuclear weapons on the basis of a peaceful agreement with the United States.

  • Bannon & Trump lost Long ago: White Christians not a Majority in US
    • Farhang Jahanpour 09/07/2017 at 6:26 am

      Can we hope that a time will come, hopefully soon, when our affiliation to a particular religion will become as irrelevant as the neighborhood where we grew up? The wonderful American thinker, essayist and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson put it very well when he said: “Sensible men and conscientious men all over the world are of one religion, the religion of well-doing and daring."

      Religions have certainly played an important role in the past in educating and providing solace to people in different parts of the world, but now they have become as obsolete as voodoo and magic for curing illnesses. There is nothing wrong in people reading the scriptures of various religions and enjoying them as examples of great literature and aspects of our past history, but using those texts as excuses for demonizing others, causing conflicts, denying science and propagating old myths and superstitions is definitely harmful. Again as Emerson said: "Very costly scaffoldings are pulled down when the more costly building is finished. And God has his scaffoldings. The Jewish Law answered its temporary purpose and was then set aside. Christianity is completing its purpose as an aid to educate man." One can add that religions as a whole have served their purpose as useful scaffoldings for man’s spiritual progress and it is now time to move on and look to new horizons, or as Hafiz put it:
      I Have Learned
      So much from God
      That I can no longer
      Call Myself
      A Christian, a Hindu, a Muslim,
      A Buddhist, a Jew."

  • Have we Won yet? Was ISIL a flash in the Pan?
    • Farhang Jahanpour 09/05/2017 at 7:08 am

      In 2003, a Middle East specialist Professor As’ad AbuKhalil wrote: “The Soviet occupation of Afghanistan gave us the Taliban. The American occupation of Saudi Arabia gave us bin Laden and Al Qaeda. The Israeli occupation of Lebanon gave us Hezbollah. Let us see what the American occupation of Iraq is going to give us.” Now we know.

      If the Iranians and the Sunni Arabs do not patch up their differences and continue with their sectarian policies, the future will see a major confrontation between the Sunnis and the Shi’is worse than we have seen already. The conflicts in the Middle East had mainly geopolitical, rather than sectarian, motivations to begin with, but now they have become intensely sectarian.

      It is reported that a Saudi delegation will visit Tehran shortly after the end of Hajj ceremonies with the aim of restoring diplomatic ties. If that report is correct, it is the best news for both sides and may save the region unimaginable hardship and bloodshed in the future.

  • As Trump probes move against Iran, IAEA certifies its Compliance with Nuclear Deal
    • You are just repeating a silly piece of propaganda by the Israelis and their echo chambers. Iran was not obliged to open Parchin because Iran has been under continuous inspection and supervision from the moment that they extract uranium, to the time when it is enriched, etc. However, in order to put an end to the extensive propaganda by the Israelis and their US backers they allowed a further inspection just prior to finalizing the nuclear agreement, although the site had been inspected twice before. Ask anyone who is an expert in nuclear issues and they will tell you that if there had been any illicit activities in Parchin they would not have been able to sanitize it because traces of it would remain for decades. Yukio Amano personally inspected Parchin and his experts certified that there had not been any illicit activities. US experts, including Secretary Ernest Moniz, who is a nuclear scientist, would not have been fooled by Iranian tricks. Those lies have to be put to rest.

      Trump and the insulting US ambassador to the UN want to find an excuse and they are not interested in facts. A friend of mine Mark Fitzpatrick who was the non-proliferation official at the State Department and who is now the executive director of IISS-Americas and who took a hard line on Iran in a number of conferences that we both attended prior to the nuclear deal has said that access debates are not a cause for alarm.
      link to iiss.org
      Only yesterday the IAEA has again confirmed that Iran is adhering to the nuclear deal. link to washingtonpost.com
      Those who wish to attack Iran should find another excuse, because this one is wearing thin.

  • Is Israel's Netanyahu preparing for War on Iranian Special Ops in Syria?
    • Farhang Jahanpour 08/29/2017 at 10:40 am

      Israel’s policy during the past few decades has been to grab more and more Palestinian lands, expand illegal Israel settlements and displace more and more Palestinians, as well as making life hell for the remaining Palestinians in order to force them to flee. Gradually, “occupied” territories have become “contested” territories, and now Israeli leaders and their US backers openly say that the Golan Heights belong to Israel and will never been relinquished, the same as what they say about Jerusalem, a city that is holy to the Christians and Muslims, as well as the Jews and which according to the UN Partition Plan had to be regarded as “corpus separatum” and according to Resolution 181 shall be "under a special international regime and shall be administered by the United Nations". There is already open talk in Israel that the Palestinians in the West Bank should be transferred to Jordan and those in Gaza should be pushed to the Sinai Peninsula.

      The only way that the Israelis have been able to divert public attention from those illegal activities has been to create an imaginary foreign foe that poses an “existential threat” to Israel. During the past two decades, Iran’s civilian nuclear program played that role. Even now after the landmark nuclear agreement that has blocked all the paths to a possible Iranian nuclear bomb, rightwing Israeli officials and their US allies continue to demonize Iran, with President Trump making every effort to avoid certifying Iran’s compliance with the JCPOA.

      Meanwhile, Israeli leaders talk about the danger that Iran poses to them from Syria and Lebanon, two devastated countries that are no match for the nuclear-armed Israel. With a very supportive administration in the United States there is nothing to stop the Israelis from attacking the Hezbollah or Syria under a flimsy excuse, and even continuing to incite the US government to attack Iran. In the absence of massive popular opposition to Israeli plots there is nothing that would constrain her from engaging in greater atrocities.

  • Trump fires Bannon: Who are the Winners & Losers Globally?
    • Farhang Jahanpour 08/20/2017 at 4:08 am

      Thank you for another informative comment about the latest developments in the United States, which puzzle many observers abroad. However, I wish I could share your optimism about Bannon’s departure being good for Iran. It could be good for China and Russia, because sooner or later even hawks in US Administration and Congress will have to realize that any war against any of those nuclear-armed countries will be extremely costly. As a result, they ultimately will return to their favourite haunts in the Middle East to carry out their operations to benefit the military-industrial complex.

      This is especially true in the case of Iran because the hostility towards Iran is not based either on any love for Iranians or on any special US interest. It is primarily directed by extreme pro-Israeli zealots who wish to remove any obstacle on the path of Israel’s expansion in the Middle East. That policy was followed long before Bannon was in the White House and will continue after his departure from the White House. That is the policy that the neocons pursued under Presidents Clinton and Bush and during President Obama’s first term. Even during his second term and after signing the landmark nuclear deal, still some Treasury zealots were travelling to various countries warning banks and companies against doing business with Iran. I believe this policy will follow with greater venom during the remainder of President Trump’s term, because anti-Iranian policy is backed by powerful forces in an out of the administration, and will not end without some structural changes in US policies towards the Middle East.

  • German Politicians think Trump is dangerously close to Neo-Nazis, and they Should know
    • Farhang Jahanpour 08/17/2017 at 6:11 am

      Fascism seldom appears on the scene with all the guns blazing and revealing its full ugliness. It starts slowly and grows gradually. First, fascists blame one group, then another, then another, until it comes closer to home and we realize that we have nowhere to turn, as those in power regard the rest of us as the enemy. We should wake up before it is too late. The following quote is attributed to Niemöller:
      First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
      Because I was not a Socialist.
      Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
      Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
      Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
      Because I was not a Jew.
      Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

      This short clip can also throw some light on the present situation:
      link to youtube.com

  • Fascism in Charlottesville: Why it had a monopoly on violence & Intimidation
    • Farhang Jahanpour 08/16/2017 at 12:14 pm

      The events of the past 24 hours have shown how correct you were in your brave statement that Trump was not sincere in his denunciation of the Alt-Right, the Nazis, the KKK and other extreme white nationalists. When it seems that things cannot get any worse, President Trump says or does something that goes beyond the expectation of even most moderate Republicans. In the face of the creeping fascism, one either has to remain silent and except a repetition of fascist regimes that the world has experienced in the past, or to take the threat seriously and fight and defeat it.

  • 'Locked & Loaded' Trump's 1960s Cowboyism re: N. Korea & Venezuela
    • Farhang Jahanpour 08/12/2017 at 8:55 am

      This is a very important and timely post in view of the current dangerous and absurd situation that we are facing. Your last paragraph sums up what many of us who have been brought up to admire America as a bastion of democracy, freedom of expression, openness and the rule of law, have been feeling for a long time. The cowboy mentality has done a great deal of harm to America and to her image in the world. There has always been much more to the United States than the cowboy mentality, but the words and deeds of US leaders, their violent foreign policy, their unilateral wars, and their disregard for the rights and interests of other nations, especially since the end of the Cold War, have strengthened that stereotype in the minds of many people in the global community. Because of these perceptions, most people in the world, especially in the Middle East, have a negative view of America and her foreign policy. The violent and unthinking statements of President Trump have further compounded that image in the minds of the people.

      I believe that in view of her overwhelming military and economic power, her energy and dynamism, the United States can either destroy the world or lead humanity towards a new future before she inevitably loses her preeminent position in the world. What America needs is to return to the aspirations enshrined in her Constitution and the Bill of Rights and to decisively confront the military-industrial complex and all those who benefit from it at the expense of the vast majority of Americans. In view of the interconnectedness of the contemporary world, this time the United States should include the whole of humanity and not only her citizens in those aspirations.

  • If an Iranian president talked like Trump we'd think them all nut cases
    • Farhang Jahanpour 08/11/2017 at 3:43 pm

      When a new president in Iran starts his term of office, he meets with Ayatollah Ali Khamenei who officially “endorses” his election. In the ceremony that was held last Saturday when Khamenei endorsed Ruhani as Iran’s 12th president Ruhani made a speech in which he said:

      “Freedom, independence, democracy, security and social justice are among the great achievements of the Islamic Revolution. The other advantage of religious democracy is that we have all accepted that we have different political, economic and cultural opinions in our society of 80 million, and we have accepted that ultimately it is the people’s votes that choose their desired path.”

      Iran may not be the world’s best example of democracy, security and social justice, but it is important for Ruhani to utter those words in the presence of Khamenei and in a ceremony broadcast live throughout Iran. Referring to US policies towards Iran, Ruhani said:

      “Today is the time for the mother of all negotiations, not the mother of all bombs. The U.S. has showed a lack of commitment in its implementation of the nuclear deal because its policymakers are addicted to the illegal and futile policy of sanctions and humiliation. This has proved the U.S. to be an unreliable partner to the world and even to its longtime allies. We do not wish to engage with political novices . . . Those who want to tear up the nuclear deal should know that they will be ripping up their own political life by doing so and the world won’t forget their noncompliance.”

      It seems the roles have been reversed. Now, the US president speaks about “fire and fury” and nuclear bombs being “locked and loaded” while Iranian president speaks about negotiations not bombs.

  • Kissinger pushes Iranophobia, fear of 'radical empire' as ISIL declines
    • Gradually facts are being revealed and blinkers are falling off most people’s eyes. Saudi Arabia and Israel did not initially create ISIS, but they helped create an insurgency that morphed into ISIS, as part of a plan to topple President Assad and cut the links between Iran and Lebanon and Hezbollah. There has been plenty of evidence, including remarks by former Secretary of State Clinton and Vice-President Jo Biden, to show that Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf Arab states had been financing and arming the Syrian insurgents including some Al-Qaeda affiliated terrorists, but now evidence is finally emerging that shows that the Israeli government has also been supporting the terrorists too. No wonder Saudi Arabia and Israel are becoming close allies. Recently, Wall Street Journal and Newsweek reported that Israel was not only providing medical treatment to al-Nusra Front fighters and other terrorists, but was even secretly paying the salaries of Syrian rebels
      link to newsweek.com

      Now, that ISIS is on the verge of collapse, friends of Israel including Henry Kissinger are getting very worried. Kissinger is just repeating Netanyahu’s assertion about a “territorial belt from Tehran to Beirut”, in defiance of all the facts on the ground, including the recent rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and Iraqi leaders. Since President Trump has come to power, suddenly a whole host of Israel’s friends have become hyper-active and are inciting violence against Iran in the same way that they did against Iraq. Hopefully, most people have learned some lessons from the past.

  • "Fire & Fury" or "Shock and Awe": it is always the start of a Quagmire
    • Farhang Jahanpour 08/10/2017 at 5:16 am

      General Mattis's remarks that North Korea should give up its nuclear program or face "the end of its regime and the destruction of its people" does not sound very sober and rational to me. America is by far the more dominant force in this contest. If you study the history of the Korean War you will learn that America dropped so many bombs on North Korea that nearly every substantial building was destroyed. As U.S. Air Force General Curtis LeMay said: “We went over there and fought the war and eventually burned down every town in North Korea anyway, some way or another, and some in South Korea, too.” The United States even threatened to use nuclear bombs against what was left of North Korea. More than one million people were killed in that war on all sides.

      The United States has many bases in South Korea with at least 28,500 American soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines. During the past few weeks, the United States has flown B-1 and B-52 bombers over North Korea, etc. Why is it so difficult to sit round a table with North Korea and talk about a denuclearized Korean Peninsula? Instead of the talk of “fire and fury” that is dragging the world to the threshold of another massive war over North Korea, won’t it be better to start intense negotiations, similar to the remarkable Iran nuclear deal and resolve the problem once and for all? U.S. ally Israel is another country with a massive nuclear arsenal. Why is there no fuss about forcing Israel to give up its illegal weapons? There is a great deal of double standards here.

    • Farhang Jahanpour 08/09/2017 at 5:36 am

      It is truly scary that President Trump is making these threats on the anniversary of the dropping of two nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki that killed upward of 200,000 innocent people in those two cities. When he says that he will unleash “fire and fury like the world has never seen before” on North Korea, does he really mean that he intends to drop a nuclear bomb on North Korea and kill more innocent people than was the case in Hiroshima? Does he realize that if he does so and North Korea retaliates against South Korea, Japan and Guam how many millions will be killed?

      Kim Jong Un is clearly a narcissist and an unreliable leader. When the world is faced with two narcissist and unreliable men who are in possession of nuclear weapons we are really in trouble. Clearly it seems that there is no mechanism in North Korea to check and restrain Kim Jong Un. One wonders if there is really an effective mechanism in the United States that can stop Trump blowing up the world before he departs from a position for which he is ill suited.

  • Top 6 Falsehoods Embraced by new WH Chief of Staff John Kelly
    • Farhang Jahanpour 08/01/2017 at 4:08 am

      The “government of the barracks” is now almost complete. Being a weak person, President Trump has a great fascination for the military. All that is needed is to replace Secretary of State Rex Tillerson who is clearly uncomfortable in his job with General David Petraeus whom Trump had earlier considered for the post and the line-up will be complete. In fact, it may make more sense to move the office of the president to the Pentagon and then we will have real hard discipline and a government of tough men “to make America great again”.

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  • Al-Sadr in Jidda: Are Saudis looking for channel to Iran, or anti-Iran Client?
    • Thank you for providing this impressive list of Saudi setbacks vis-à-vis Iran during the past few decades and for highlighting Muqtada al-Sadr’s visit to Jidda to meet with Mohammed bin Salman and what it can mean for the relations between the three countries. Clearly, any rapprochement between the Iraqis and the Saudis would be welcome because since the ousting of Saddam Hussein, which Saudi Arabia initially helped to achieve and Iran’s Reformist President Mohammad Khatam strongly opposed link to theguardian.com
      relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia have been very tense. One reason for Saudi hostility towards Iran has been the Saudis' perception of themselves as the leaders of the Islamic world, certainly of the Arab world. Therefore, they cannot tolerate any encroachment of non-Arab countries into any Arab state (although it seems with the exception of the United States and Israel).

      However, Saudi Arabia does not possess the historical, religious, intellectual or political clout to act as the leader of the Islamic or even the Sunni world. Its significance to the world has been due to its vast reserves of oil, which is a dwindling asset, but historically since the establishment of the Umayyad and then the Abbasid, the Fatimid and finally the Ottoman caliphates Arabia lost any significance in the Islamic world apart from being the venue for the Hajj pilgrimage.

      As to Saudi motive in receiving Muqtada al-Sadr, I believe that the Saudis are trying very hard to separate Iraq from Iran. After refusing to recognize the Iraqi government that emerged after Saddam’s ouster and even not sending an ambassador to Baghdad, recently they have tried hard to woo the Iraqis. In the great jamboree that they organized to impress President Trump they invited the Kurdish Sunni president of Iraq to attend that gathering. About two weeks ago Iraq’s interior minister Qasim Al Araji met with Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince. Iraqi Prime minister Haider Al Abadi also visited the kingdom last month. Another interesting development has been the veteran Iraqi Shia leader Ammar al-Hakim’s decision to step down from the hereditary leadership of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, which was seen as an Iranian proxy force in Iraq, and to head a new party, the National Wisdom Movement, which is seen as a soft defection from Iran.

      Personally, I believe that all of these are positive developments. It is not healthy for either Iraq or Iran for Iraq to be seen as an Iranian protectorate. Some clerics in Iran have gone too far in their relations with the Shi’ite government in Iraq and a more balanced relationship between Iran and Iraq is good for both countries.

      But I believe that this time too the Saudi goal of kicking Iran out of Iraq will fail, because the majority of the Iraqis have not forgotten the atrocities that they suffered at the hand of Saddam or the large number of terrorist onslaughts in Iraq, often supported by hard-line Saudis and certainly influenced by intense anti-Shi’ite Wahhabi thinking. The best option for all the countries in the region is to have friendly relations and develop regional security arrangements so that we do not see the repetition of Saddam’s invasion of Iran or Kuwait, or the Saudi bombardment of Yemen due to some socio-political rivalries.

  • Mideast's 'Only Democracy' joins push to Silence Al Jazeera: Netanyahu
    • Farhang Jahanpour 07/27/2017 at 4:54 pm

      The extensive attempts to silence any form of opposition to Israel’s atrocities and violations of international law have meant that rightwing Israeli politicians can get away with murder. Despite daily violations of the Palestinians’ human rights, Israel is held up in the West as “the only democracy in the Middle East”, while those who try to resist its brutal occupation are branded as terrorists.

      After placing metal detectors around Al-Aqsa Mosque and preventing Palestinians below the age of 50 from praying in the mosque, there were major clashes between the Palestinians and Israeli security forces and six Israelis and Palestinians were killed. Far from trying to calm the tension, Tzachi Hanegbi (ironically minister for regional cooperation) threatened to unleash another nakba on the Palestinians. He told them to remember ’48 and ‘67”, and bluntly warned them: “Don’t try us again because the result won’t be any different.” link to lobelog.com

      One does not expect Netanyahu to expel that minister from his cabinet, but the silence of the international community in the face of such blatantly aggressive remarks is deafening. No wonder the Israelis and the Saudis want to silence Al Jazeera.

  • Did UAE plant Fake News about Qatar to Fool Trump?
    • Farhang Jahanpour 07/17/2017 at 5:32 am

      The whole aim of the lavish ceremony in Riyadh, the sword dance and the agreements to spend hundreds of billions of dollars on US weapons was to unite the Sunni Arabs against Iran and to seal a covert alliance with Israel. The alliance between the two young crown princes of Saudi Arabia and the UAE, Mohammed bin Salman and Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, was to bring other members of the GCC under total Saudi domination. Qatar that shares the world’s largest gas field with Iran could not cut off relations with Iran, and traditionally it has also supported Muslim Brotherhood and HAMAS, both anathema to Israel and to the new coalition of Persian Gulf states and Egypt. Therefore, they had to demonize Qatar in order to force it to surrender to their demands, and in order to achieve that aim they turned to some influential US publicists to win support for their cause in the United States. The following article by Glenn Greenwald sheds some light on the murky proceedings:
      link to theintercept.com

  • 4 Nations twist Qatar's arm, to close down Aljazeera
    • Farhang Jahanpour 06/23/2017 at 4:48 am

      Despite all their protestations to the contrary, it is now clear that what really bothers the medieval autocrats in the Persian Gulf littoral states most is their citizens’ access to any other form of media, especially in Arabic, that is a little more open to the outside world than their own tightly controlled propaganda outlets. This also shows the hollowness of the claims of the new Saudi crown prince and strongman Mohammed bin Salman that he is a reformer and wants to bring real change to his country, because he and the UAE Crown Prince Muhammad bin Zayed Al Nuhayyan have been the main drivers behind the move to isolate Qatar and to close down Aljazeera.

      This is no longer a local or Arab issue but goes to the heart of free speech. Aljazeera certainly has many faults, especially in it coverage (or the lack of it) of Qatar’s domestic issues, but it certainly is a breath of fresh air compared to other stale Arabic channels. Aljazeera has been mainly responsible for opening the eyes of young Arabs to the realities in the outside world, and this knowledge cannot be unlearned no matter how hard MbS and his fellow-autocrats try. It is a duty of everyone who relishes free speech to go to the support of Aljazeera and to make sure that a relatively open media operates in the Arab world. MbS’s campaign against Aljazeera will fail in the same way that his barbaric attack on Yemen has failed, and it will only expose him as an over-ambitious, irresponsible and shortsighted dictator.

  • In Apocalyptic Vandalism, ISIL blows up 800-year-old Nuri Mosque in Mosul
    • Farhang Jahanpour 06/23/2017 at 5:56 am

      ISIS has claimed that the mosque was destroyed as the result of American bombing, and some people have argued that ISIS would not have destroyed the mosque, as it was an Islamic building. However, ISIS is very likely to be the main culprit, because the puritanical Wahhabi branch of Islam to which most ISIS members belong is against even Islamic monuments that according to them take away from the simplicity of Islam.

      When the Wahhabis came to power in Saudi Arabia they demolished many mosques, burial places and historical locations associated with Prophet Muhammad, and especially with Shi’a Imams. The Wahhabi ulema viewed many religious practices and visits to the shrines of Muhammad and the Imams as superstition. They destroyed the shrine built over the tomb of Fatima, Muhammad’s daughter and Ali’s wife, and even wanted to destroy the grave of Muhammad himself.

      They did the same when they attacked Iraq. In 1801 and 1802 when the Saudis under Abdul Aziz ibn Muhammad ibn Saud captured Shi’a holy cities of Karbala and Najaf they destroyed the tomb of Imam Hussein ibn Ali and massacred many people. Therefore, the destruction of a beautiful ancient mosque in Iraq is quite in keeping with their narrow, barbaric beliefs.

  • Russo-US dog fights over Syria?
    • Farhang Jahanpour 06/20/2017 at 6:56 am

      Although it is important to stress the issue of the Kurds and their attempt to take Raqqa City, there seems to be a more ominous subtext to the latest escalation of the conflict. First of all, let us bear in mind the potential enormity of what is happening. The Russian government has called the US attack “an act of aggression, a breach of international law and assistance to the terrorists.” The American military has responded that it “will not hesitate to defend Coalition or partner forces from any threat.” As you say, these are perhaps the most dangerous words we have heard for many decades, being exchanged between the two strongest military powers in the world.

      When President Trump visited Israel, Netanyahu told him that he would not tolerate the presence of Iranian forces in Syria, and apparently Trump responded that he would ensure that Iran would not have any lasting presence in Syria. In addition to numerous Israeli attacks inside Syria on what they have claimed to be weapons destined for Hezbollah, during the past few weeks we have seen a concerted attempt by American forces to establish bases in Eastern parts of Syria in order to cut off any links between Iranian and Iraqi militia and the Syrian forces. There have been a number of serious clashes and Iran has said that it would retaliate if those attacks continued. The latest missile attacks by Iran on ISIS bases in Syria allegedly as a response to the terrorist attacks in Tehran could also be a signal that Iran would not take the attacks on its allies lying down. After all, Iran has been helping Assad’s government to fight the ISIS and other militant groups for the past few years, and she will not be pushed out of Syria completely by American and “Coalition” forces.

      It has to be borne in mind that while the Iranians and the Russians have been operating in Syria at the invitation of the Syrian government, American forces have been uninvited guests, and they seem to be intent on establishing a permanent presence there at the expense of Iranian, Syrian, Iraqi and ultimately Russian forces. The “de-confliction line” that American forces speak about is a self-made line not recognized by any of the chief actors in Syria.

      It seems that in her support for Israel America is prepared to unleash a major confrontation with Russia and Iran. We have to expect more serious developments during the coming weeks.

  • UK hung Parliament: Is Trumpism pushing Europe Left?
    • Farhang Jahanpour 06/10/2017 at 5:46 am

      In addition to the DUP’s rather questionable background, there are a number of other reasons why this coalition is wrong and will not last.

      The first problem is that Theresa May did not consult with anyone about it. In the morning when the results of the election were revealed and she realized that she had failed in her gamble, she drove to Buckingham Palace to tell the queen that she intended to lead a minority government with the help of the DUP, and then she came back and announced it in front of 10 Downing Street.

      The second problem is that she constantly claimed during the election that if she did not win, Jeremy Corbyn would form a “coalition of chaos” with the help of the Scottish Nationalist Party that at that time had 56 MPs and virtually represented the whole of Scotland, with the help of the Lib Dem Party and the Greens. Now she has formed a real “coalition of chaos” with just one extremist Northern Ireland party that represents the views of extreme Unionists. In this election, Northern Ireland has been polarized, marginalizing the smaller Nationalist and Unionist parties. There are now 10 DUP MPs in addition to 7 Sinn Fein MPs who do not take up their seats in the House of Commons. The two more moderate SDLP and UUP have lost all their MPs.

      The third problem is that for the past few decades the British government has been trying to mediate between the Nationalists and the Unionists in Northern Ireland, and this has been the basis of the Good Friday Agreement and Northern Ireland peace process. Now, the British government has placed itself squarely on the side of an extremist Unionist Party. Not only will this alienate the Nationalists, but it will also create problems with Brexit, because some Nationalists may push for a referendum on a union with the South. The issue of a border between the Irish Republic and Ulster after Brexit has been one the main problems. That problem will be exacerbated.

      Furthermore, the DUP holds the most extreme and backward views in the whole of the United Kingdom on a number of social issues. It is opposed to gay marriage and discriminates against anyone from the LGBT community. It wants children to be taught creationism as scientific fact. It wants to bring back the death penalty, and it is even against women’s access to any type of abortion and furthermore criminalizes anyone offering that service. Ruth Davidson, the leader of the Conservative Party in Scotland that has seen a resurgence of Tory votes there, is gay and is planning to marry her female partner shortly. She has already called on Theresa May to give assurances that the position of the LGBT community will not be compromised as the result of the coalition with the DUP.

      So, for a variety of reasons, the alliance with the DUP is problematic and will not last.

    • Farhang Jahanpour 06/09/2017 at 9:38 am

      After the Brexit referendum, this snap election has been the second own goal that has brought Britain to the verge of a political crisis. In order to silence UKIP and the right-wing Europhobe Conservative MPs, former Prime Minister David Cameron promised a referendum on EU membership. The British people wisely do not conduct their policies through referenda because complex issues cannot be settled through a simple yes or no vote. Cameron lost the gamble and inflicted a heavy blow on Britain.

      Theresa May made a similar gamble hoping that she would get a decisive majority and a mandate to conduct EU negotiations on the basis of a hard Brexit. She lost the gamble and not only did she not get a 100-plus majority that she had hoped for, she actually lost her slender majority. She did not have a political mandate because after the referendum Cameron resigned and May took his place, without having won an election.

      Now, we are faced with an almost unprecedented crisis. She has had to rely on Northern Ireland’s DUP to cobble together a slender majority, which is not likely to last. Many people, including some prominent Conservatives, are calling for her to resign and to have a new leadership contest. The problem is that if someone else is chosen to replace her he/she will not have a mandate either. So, Britain is faced with a self-inflicted crisis, and may be forced to have yet another election before too long.

      Meanwhile, the Labour Party has increased the number of its MPs by 32, and even more importantly the Labour share of the vote has risen from 30% in last election to just over 40%. This is a great achievement for Jeremy Corbyn despite the vicious campaign that was waged against him by the Conservatives and even by some rightwing Labour supporters.

  • Top 10 Ways Americans judge Trump in the Comey Covfefe
    • It is good to know that 72% of Americans want the US to fight climate change. It was announced yesterday that for the first time in history there was more energy produced by wind and solar power in Britain than by fossil fuel. If you add nuclear energy to it, Britain now produced 72% of its energy requirements from renewable sources.

  • Trump's Ally: Saudi Arabia's drive for Aristocratic Hegemony in the Middle East
    • You are absolutely right to point out the alliance between the Saudis and the rightwing Likud government in Israel, and hence the involvement of Israeli lobbies against Qatar. The issue is not about Qatar’s support for terrorists, because in that case it is Saudi Arabia and its extreme Wahhabi ideology that should be at the center of attention. The reason for the attacks on Qatar is because she has given shelter to Hamas leaders, supports Muslim Brotherhood, and also is not prepared to join the Arab-Israeli crusade against Iran.

      President Trump and the Iranophobes around him are playing a very dangerous game with their campaign to unify the Arab states and Israel against Iran. Instead of putting an end to terrorism, this strategy will destroy the little stability that exists in the Middle East and will intensify terrorism. Muhammad bin Salman, the ambitious Saudi defense minister, said a couple of weeks ago that he would wage the war inside Iranian territory. This morning's concerted terrorist attacks in the Iranian parliament building and in Khomeyni’s mausoleum that have killed and injured a dozen people seem to be the first sign of the implementation of the prince’s plan. I hope President Trump and U.S. government will condemn those terrorist attacks, as they do elsewhere.

      It is ironic that far from unifying the Sunni world, President Trump’s meeting with Arab autocrats in Riyadh has divided the GCC. Kuwait and Oman did not join in breaking off relations with Qatar, and already Qatar has moved away from the Saudis and closer to Iran that has provided her with flight paths and has offered to send food. There is talk that Qatar will be expelled from the GCC.

      Cooler heads in Washington must see the danger of the present situation and instead of starting an all-out war in the Middle East should press Israel to resolve the Palestinian issue in keeping with international law, and also call on their Arab allies to stop supporting the militants in Syria and beyond.

  • How Trump should have responded to London Attacks if he were Normal
    • I believe what you propose is so contrary to Trump’s style that he would never write it. There are some people who believe in making friends and being polite to others. It seems that President Trump’s special skill is to be rude and to make enemies, sometimes for no obvious reason.

      Trump either misunderstood or more likely deliberately distorted what Mayor Khan had said in order to again give vent to his anti-Muslim feelings. Khan had simply said that during the coming days the Londoners would see more armed policemen on the streets but he urged them not to be alarmed. He was not talking about the terrorist attack, which he condemned in the strongest terms. The best response to President Trump was provided by one of Khan’s staff, namely that he had more important things to do than to respond to Donald Trump’s “ill-informed tweet”.

      The public in Britain has not taken kindly to this inappropriate response by the leader of their closest ally to a dreadful tragedy. As former Vice-President Al Gore said: “I don’t think that a major terrorist attack like this is the time to be divisive and to criticize a mayor who’s trying to organize his city’s response to this attack.”

      By the way, I believe that the off-duty police officer who confronted the terrorists was severely injured, but he did not die.

  • Trump, Paris Accords and the End of the American Century
    • Trump has just withdrawn America from the Paris agreement. He spoke about American leadership, but he does not realize that to be a leader you need to have a number of followers or friends and allies. Sadly, because of his narrow vision of what American interests are he is pushing other countries, even close American allies, away from America. In his speech, he insulted China, India, the EU and practically the entire international community. He will soon find that he is standing alone in a room when everybody else has deserted him. That is not leadership. It is shortsightedness. It is schoolyard bully tactics and, judging by the comments that various world leaders have already made about his speech, it is clear that they are not buying it.

  • Baghdad and Manchester: Let's Commemorate ISIL Victims in Both
    • Farhang Jahanpour 05/31/2017 at 9:30 am

      The latest casualties in Iraq and today’s devastating bombing in the heart of Kabul near American, German, British and other foreign embassies that killed at least 80 and wounded hundreds more put a lie to President Trump’s statement in the gathering of Arab dictators in Riyadh that Iran was the main source of terrorism in the world. According to various statistics, the number of deaths in Iraq due to terrorism has been 6,387 in 2013, 9,926 in 2014, and 6,932 in 2015. That trend has sadly continued in 2016-2017. In Afghanistan the number of deaths as the result of terrorism between 2007-2015 stands at 28,825, including 5,292 just in 2015. These figures do not include the horrendous deaths in Syria, Libya, Pakistan, Egypt, Yemen and many European countries, including 22 killed in Manchester just over a week ago. The vast majority of these terrorist attacks have been carried out by extremist radical Sunni groups, most of them directed against the Shi’is, especially in Iraq and Pakistan. It is outrageous for the US president and officials to blame Iran as the main sponsor of terrorism for the sake of a huge bribe, which the $450 billion contracts with Saudi Arabia clearly were. Trump is not fit to be the leader of a great democracy.

  • Germany: We Europeans must Depend on Selves, not Trump's USA
    • Farhang Jahanpour 05/29/2017 at 11:52 am

      Whether what Chancellor Merkel said was a part of her campaign rhetoric or what she really believes in, the fact remains that Donald Trump has made the American presidency into a laughing stock in Europe and in the rest of the world, may be with the exception of Persian Gulf feudal rulers. The look on the faces of Emmanuel Macron, Merkel, Donald Tusk and other European leaders when Trump was lecturing them about the need to increase their military spending or his refusal to commit America to the Paris Agreement on climate change was quite telling. Trump and the members of his illustrious family have become the butt of jokes on the British and European media. This can’t be in the long-term interest of the United States and her relations with the rest of the world.

  • Only Putin is happy with Trump's NATO Bull-in-China-Shop Catastrophe
    • What I am going to say may sound heretical to many people in the United States and even to some on this side of the pond, but I think one of Trump’s few correct assertions during the campaign was that NATO was obsolete. He has since changed his mind, without stating why last year he felt that it was obsolete and this year he feels that it is not. I believe that what he said last year made a great deal of sense.

      NATO belonged to a world that has vanished. It was formed in 1949 with ten European countries, plus the United States and Canada, allegedly to prevent the expansion of the former Soviet Union. In response, the Soviet Union created the Warsaw Pact in reaction to West Germany’s integration into NATO, and the world was divided between the East and the West. As a result, we had a bipolar world, one dominated by Russia and her satellites and the other by America and her allies (dare we say satellites). It is possible to argue that the balance of power during the Cold War was what prevented the world from a catastrophe, but that balance does not exist any more.

      With the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Warsaw Pact ceased to exist and by definition the mission of NATO that had been created to contain the Soviet Union also came to an end. Instead NATO now has 28 members, including many former members of the Warsaw Pact.

      The collapse of the Soviet Union led to a unipolar world, with the United States as the only hyper-power with “full spectrum dominance”. Not only did the United States not dismantle NATO, she dragged it into Afghanistan, making a complete nonsense of its mission and even its title. Now, they even want to drag it into the Middle East and link it with a provocative and dangerous Arab or Sunni NATO. In other words, NATO is now an organization in search of a mission.

      With the rise of China, India, Russia and other powerful states, we are now living in a multipolar world, something that America refuses to accept. The use of NATO to further U.S.’s unilateral ambitions is wrong and counterproductive. What the catastrophic wars over the past few decades at the cost of trillions of dollars have shown is that America cannot act as the sole global policeman. These wars have not given the world or even the West either security, stability or peace. Furthermore, NATO is a nuclear-based alliance, which rejects the no first use of nuclear weapons. A nuclear conflagration could put an end to human civilization.

      Therefore, I believe that in America’s own interest it is better if should could gradually dismantle her empire and its military wing, NATO, while she is still in the driving seat and to push for a system of collective, global security, and strengthening the United Nations whose most important mission is to put an end to the “scourge of war”. We should start learning about conflict resolution and peace-making rather than always wielding the big stick.

  • Terror and Geopolitics: Manchester 2017 and 1996
    • Thank you for this thoughtful and sober analysis of the terrorist atrocity in Manchester, which as usual explores the bigger picture and puts the gruesome event in context. I lost my cousin’s daughter in the bombings in London on July 7, 2005, and I can feel the pain of the families of young people who were massacred. There were 12 children aged between 8-16 among the victims. The reaction of government officials and the people has been exemplary.

      I do not wish to add to Saudi Arabia’s problems, as I believe that if the current regime falls the alternative may well be worse in the short term. However, this terrorist activity that has been claimed by ISIS, reinforces what you wrote about Trump’s praise of an absolute monarchy that spreads anti-Western and anti-Shi’ite hatred around the world.

      Praising Saudi Arabia as a bastion of moderation and anti-extremism is totally bizarre. It is like praising an arsonist as a fireman. I don’t know what message his speech sent to the region and to the Islamic world. That clumsy speech demeaned America and betrayed the cause of freedom and democracy in the world for the sake of a few pieces of silver. If we wish to see the end of Salafi fanaticism and an Islamic Reformation, we should get serious and must encourage moderation and some measure of democracy and human rights in the countries that propagate that distorted version of Islam.

  • Trump on Islam: Neo-Orientalism and anti-Shi'ism
    • Farhang Jahanpour 05/22/2017 at 4:20 pm

      Miller-Trump’s speech in Riyadh is so bizarre that one does not know where to begin. He certainly felt quite at home among the gilded palaces and chandeliers of his fellow billionaires who have very little concern for human rights, democracy and the rule of law. As Trump was speaking, the whole town of Qatif and the village of Awamiyya in Arabia’s Eastern Province were in lockdown due to the protests of the people calling for the release of their prisoners and for the establishment of a constitutional monarchy.

      The Saudi ruler and thousands of so-called Saudi princes plunder the wealth of the country as though it is their personal property. No wonder that they called the whole country after their clan. Salman’s young and spoilt son Mohammad, at the age of 31, not only is deputy crown prince but is also in charge of the army, the economy and practically everything else in Saudi Arabia. While holidaying in the south of France a few months ago, he saw a super yacht belonging to a Russian tycoon, fancied it and bought it on the spot for 500 million euros, about 200 million euros more than the owner had paid for it. It is no wonder that he has no qualms about spending close to $400 billion on U.S. weapons and other deals. It is strange that the home of the most fanatical Muslim sect organizes a summit meeting to fight against religious extremism!

      What we are witnessing is the triumph of Netanyahu’s evil plan to unite Israel and the most reactionary Arabs to fight against Iran, while ignoring the plight of the occupied Palestinians. It is sad that the “leader of the free world” falls for this despicable plot. Speaking a day after a most vibrant and competitive election in Iran when 75% of eligible voters elected a moderate president and extended a hand of friendship to the West, he brands Iran as the source of terrorism, while closing his eyes to the lack of democracy, the suppression of women, and massive violation of human rights of his hosts. Truly nothing is more bizarre.

  • Trump in Absolute Monarchy during Iran's Election
    • Farhang Jahanpour 05/22/2017 at 6:29 am

      I totally agree. In fact, the way that Khamenei is normally referred to is not as رهبر معظم انقلاب but often as rahbar-e enqelab or the leader of the revolution, or simply as leader. The honorific title simply means the honorable or esteemed leader of the revolution, rather than Supreme Leader. I believe that a more accurate rendering of his title in English would be the "religious" or the "clerical" leader of Iran, rather than the Supreme Leader.

      In fact, his importance in the society as a whole or in determining the course of the elections or even government policies are often exaggerated in the West. In 1997 election he backed Nateq-Nuri but Mohammad Khatami was elected, in 2013 election he backed Sa’id Jalili but Rouhani won. The only time when his involvement made a big difference was in the fraudulent 2009 election when Mir-Hoseyn Moussavi won but Khamenei forced Ahmadi-Nejad on the nation for a second term, something that he regretted later. The massive demonstrations after that rigged election persuaded Khamenei not to interfere openly in the elections again. Although it was clear that Ebrahim Raisi was his favorite choice this time, he openly said that he was not backing a special candidate and even those closest to him did not know how he would vote.

      To appreciate the difference that a president makes, just compare the governments of Ahmadi-Nejad with those of Khatami and Rouhani.

    • Farhang Jahanpour 05/21/2017 at 7:27 am

      Correction: Rouhani received 23.5 million or 57% of the votes, not 75% as stated in my comment. Sorry for the typo.

    • Farhang Jahanpour 05/21/2017 at 7:12 am

      I completely agree with this assessment of the situation in Iran and Saudi Arabia. Iran is certainly not a perfect democracy, but she is way ahead of Saudi Arabia. In election after election, Iranian people, men and women, young and old, have gone to the polls and often have voted for change and reform. In this election more than 41 million people, 75% of the eligible voters, took part in the election and Ruhani who was supported by the Reformists, even by Mir-Hossein Moussavi and Mehdi Karrubi the two reformist candidates in 2009 controversial election and who are still under house arrest, received 23.5 million or 75% of the votes, many more than in his first round. This is a long way away from what is going on under the absolute monarchy in Saudi Arabia.

      Some of your readers may be interested in my interview with Tehran Times two days ago where I also drew attention to President Trump’s arrival in Saudi Arabia coinciding with the elections in Iran: link to tehrantimes.com

  • Which Middle East Authoritarian Leader is Trump most Like?
    • Speaking on the BBC's Today’s program this morning, Michael Hayden, the former director of national security agency and CIA, said: “During the past 110 days this president has fired a national security advisor, an acting attorney general and the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation … and they were fired when they said publicly something that disagreed with the president, and this has sent a chill throughout the Federal bureaucracy, and we may now be requiring that bureaucracy to have uncommon courage in its dialog with the president.” It remains to be seen whether the Federal bureaucracy has the necessary courage to stand up to Donald Trump’s autocratic tendencies or not. This puts an added burden on the shoulders of the members of the public, the press and the judiciary to intensify the pressure in order to preserve democracy in the United States.

      If so far there were mere suspicions about some unlawful contacts between Trump’s team and the Russian Embassy in Washington, the firing of Comey who was leading those investigations strengthens those suspicions and proves that Trump has something to hide. His attempt at a cover up is even more serious and more damaging for him than the original offense, as was the case with President Nixon. Hayden also said this morning that he believed that the investigation of the links between Trump’s team and the Russians might have ended up inconclusively and might have not done him much damage, but his attempt to shoot the messenger has compounded the problem and has turned it into something much more serious.

  • For First Time, a US President backs a Fascist France
    • Wouldn’t it be nice if one could put President Trump, Marine Le Pen, President Sisi, President Erdogan, President Rodrigo Duterte, Viktor Orban, the Persian Gulf monarchs and all their rightwing advisors and supporters on an island to set up a closed society, to build a beautiful wall around the whole island, stop immigration, ban abortion and family planning, deny science and global warming (until the whole island was submerged in the sea) and leave the rest of us all alone!

  • As Leftist Turks Protest, Trump congratulates Erdogan on Authoritarian Turn
    • As the adage goes, “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely”. The problem is that some powerful people do not seem to be content with the enormous power that they already wield and they crave for more, and this will prove their undoing. If Erdogan had followed Abdullah Gul’s advice of “no tension with any of the neighbors”, he would have saved himself and Turkey a great deal of trouble. Turkey prospered on the basis of that philosophy during the first few years of Erdogan-Gul rule.

      Instead, following the “Arab Spring”, Erdogan saw himself as a new Ottoman sultan, and tried to bring various Sunni states under Turkish hegemony. He even prepared a new constitution for Egypt, which was contemptuously dismissed by the Egyptians. His involvement in Syria on the side of the rebels has proved disastrous both for Syria and for Turkey.

      The questionable referendum will mark worse relations with Europe. He already has warned the Europeans to “know your place”, adding: “We would neither see, nor hear, nor know about the politicized reports you prepare and just stick to our way.”

      President Trump’s congratulations to Erdogan reveal his autocratic tendencies too. It is a complete reversal of American ideals when we see that the American president is on the side of the likes of Erdogan, Marshal Sisi, al-Khalifa of Bahrain, Saudi rulers and an assortment of other dictators. This shows how far America has fallen since Trump’s election.

  • In 3 months, Trump has Charged into 4 Mideast Wars, to no Avail
    • Farhang Jahanpour 04/14/2017 at 5:39 am

      With his actions during the short time that he has been in power, President Trump has not only contradicted what he said during his campaign, criticizing U.S. wars in the Middle East at a cost of six trillion dollars, declaring NATO obsolete, and promising to concentrate on domestic issues, but he has also shown that he is a more dangerous president than many of his supporters had imagined him to be.

      Many people throughout the world had hoped that American unilateralism as demonstrated by President George W. Bush would end and we would witness a saner and more peaceful US foreign policy. Unfortunately, Trump’s decision to bomb Syria before any investigation of the use of chemical weapons was concluded (the UN has said that they are still investigating the incident), providing massive support for the Saudi killing machine in Yemen, escalating the bombings in Syria and Iraq, putting Iran on notice, sending warships to the South China Sea and threatening North Korea with a military attack, and lastly the use of this ghastly weapon in Afghanistan show that we are entering a new and more dangerous era in international politics.

      The use of the MOAB in Afghanistan clearly did not have military logic behind it, and as the Pentagon has stated its aim was to send a message to US enemies. Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai has strongly objected to the testing of such weapons on his country, which has been a scene of conflict for nearly 40 years. The Chinese foreign minister has warned that war could break out ‘at any moment’ over North Korea.

      These are truly ominous signs and the actions of President Trump and his military establishment have gone beyond a point of mild concern. There are two new reports today, namely, “Trump is prepared to launch preemptive strikes against North Korea should officials believe North Korea is about to test a nuclear weapon”, and “North Korea threatens to retaliate with nuclear weapons if attacked”. It should be noted that the US is acting offensively and North Korea says that she would defend herself if attacked.

      Those who wish to prevent a global war or at a minimum a slide towards more regional wars must raise their voices against growing militarism. The United States has been at war for decades and she has gained very little from those wars, apart from the enrichment of the military-industrial complex. It is time to try diplomacy for a change and concentrate on the problems at home.

  • Can we survive simultaneous Trump, Ahmadinejad Presidencies?
    • Farhang Jahanpour 04/13/2017 at 11:07 am

      Although it is very unlikely that the Guardian Council would allow Ahmadinejad to run in the election, or even if he is allowed to run it is extremely unlikely that he would win, nevertheless, his decision to run has three positive aspects.

      The first positive point is that he has openly gone against Khamenei’s “advice”. He has said that in the Islamic Republic the Supreme Leader is not a dictator and his statement telling him not to run had not been an order, but an advice. This overt denunciation of the wishes of the Supreme Leader is very rare in Iran.

      The second benefit of his candidacy is that if the Guardian Council disqualifies a person who has served two terms as president – and Khamenei went all the way in supporting him during the fraudulent 2009 election – this would further expose the Guardian Council as a mere tool in the hand of the leader. It proves that the Guardian Council disqualifies the candidates without any logical reasons, and solely on the basis of the wishes of the leader.

      The third benefit of his candidacy is that it would place a civilian candidate against two clerics, the incumbent President Hassan Rouhani and the hardline cleric Ebrahim Raisi who was appointed by Ayatollah Khamenei as the Custodian of Imam Reza’s shrine in Mashhad, one of the richest organizations in the country.

      Apart from the fact that Raisi has no executive experience, he has had a very black record in the judiciary. Last year, Ahmad Montazeri, the son of Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, released the tape of a conversation between his late father and a number of leading judicial officials, objecting to their complicity in the extrajudicial execution of thousands of Mojahedin-e Khalq prisoners during the last days of the Iran-Iraq war. Ayatollah Montazeri’s objection to Khomeini’s order authorizing those executions led to his dismissal as Khomeini’s chosen successor. In an interview with the Center for Human Rights in Iran, Ahmad Montazeri has noted that Ebrahim Raisi was a member of the four-man special commission that ordered the mass executions.

      In the early days after the establishment of the Islamic Republic when the clerics were not yet fully in control of the government Abol-Hasan Bani-Sadr was elected as the first president of the Islamic Republic. He was subsequently impeached for going against the hardliners and fled the country. He was replaced by Ali Rajai who was blown up with Prime Minister Bahonar in a massive explosion carried out by the Mojahedin-e Khalq. Subsequently, all presidents in Iran, with the sole exception of Ahmadinejad, have been clerics. Ahmadinejad sees himself as a nationalist, and during his second term he had very cool relations with the clerics, and even with Khamenei. So his bizarre candidacy is not without its merits.

  • Washington's Supreme Hypocrisy on Chemical Weapons and Civilian Deaths
    • While the latest pictures of innocent children gasping for breath and many dead children and adults are truly appalling, it is important to remember other cases of atrocities committed by our side that most people wish to forget. As Professor Cole points out, Saddam Hussein made massive use of chemical weapons for many years against both Iranians and the Kurds. More than 50,000 Iranians were killed due to gas attacks and there are still many suffering from the consequences of being exposed to them. Saddam also used chemical weapons against the Kurds in Halabja and killed up to 5,000 people, and injured 7,000 more.

      The massive use of depleted uranium by American forces in Iraq, especially in Fallujah, resulted in many documented cases of cancer and other birth defects. According to Iraqi government statistics, the case of cancer in the country skyrocketed from 40 per 100,000 people prior to the First Gulf War to 800 per 100,000 in 1995, and to at least 1,600 per 100,000 in 2005.

      In the midst of the latest horrendous incident in Syria, it was truly sick of White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer to blame it on the previous administration. A great deal has been made about President Obama’s alleged failure to honor his red line regarding the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government. In addition to Obama’s help to Syrian opposition, Obama did not say that he would attack Syria in case there was any use of chemical weapons. He said that it would constitute a red line that would have consequences. There were three problems with a military attack. The first one was that it could not be conclusively proven that the Syrian government had been responsible for the attack. Secondly, the British Parliament voted against military action in Syria, which meant that even America's closest ally thought that it was wrong to take military action. Thirdly, President Obama asked Congress to vote on a military attack, which it refused to do. However, with Russian help, all known chemical weapons or precursors in Syria were taken out of the country. So there was a major consequence for the use chemical weapons, which was much more consequential than a military attack.

      While keeping an open mind about who was responsible for the latest attack, it is important not to jump to a conclusion about the real culprit. The former British Ambassador to Syria Peter Ford says that it is possible that it was the effect of hitting a chemical weapons’ dump:
      link to youtube.com
      Jerry Smith who led the UN-backed operation to remove Syria’s chemical weapons in 2013 agrees that it could provide one explanation: link to channel4.com

  • Trump, al-Sisi and Tightening up the Pressure Cooker
    • Farhang Jahanpour 04/05/2017 at 10:30 am

      It is a sad day when the “leader of the free world” not only receives one of the most brutal military rulers in the Middle East, but also uses effusive language in his praise. Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is the man who deposed the first-ever democratically elected president in Egypt’s history and crushed the opposition.

      The brutality used by Sisi was even unprecedented under former President Mubarak. On the orders of Sisi, military forces moved against the protestors in Cairo on 14 August 2013, and even according to a statement by the Egyptian Health Ministry issued on 15 August they killed 638 and injured 3,994 demonstrators. On 12 August 2014, Human Rights Watch, in a report based on a year-long investigation said that in the 14 August massacre at least 817 and more likely at least 1,000 people were killed. The Muslim Brotherhood claimed that about 2,600 had been killed in the Rabaa al-Adawiya Mosque sit-in alone. Despite all this, Marshall Sisi was allegedly elected president with 97 percent of the vote.

      Despite this brutality, the military junta has not been able to bring calm to Egypt. Tourism is at an all-time low, and the Egyptian economy is bankrupt. It has only been kept afloat as the result of generous handouts by fellow dictators in the GCC. Saudi Arabia pledged to give Egypt $20 billion of oil products over five years, plus $3 billion in loans and grants. The UAE is thought to have paid $25bn, around half of the total Gulf aid, to Egypt. However, since the coup, relations between Egypt and Persian Gulf dictators have cooled, and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan has said of Sisi: “This guy needs to know that I am not an ATM machine.”

      Yet in an interview with Fox Business Network, President Trump said of Sisi: “He took control of Egypt. And he really took control of it.” May be the same could be said of President Trump and his control of the United States.

  • Iran is Back: With Int'l Sanctions lifted and Putin Friendly, Tehran is on a Roll
    • Iran has never been under any serious danger from the likes of Saddam Hussein or Saudi rulers. They would not dare attack Iran without Western support. Even Saddam needed a great deal of encouragement before he agreed to attack Iran. According to a confidential memo written in 1982 by the former U.S. Secretary of State Alexander Haig to Ronald Reagan, using the Saudis as go-between President Carter had given Saddam a green light to attack Iran, and of course he was supported completely by the West as well as by the former Soviet Union. In fact, on the eve of his invasion of Iran, Saddam met with the then Saudi monarch Khalid bin Abd al-Aziz and with the late King Hussein of Jordan to receive reassurances from them.
      link to youtube.com

      The main danger that Iran faces comes from Israel that has constantly campaigned for a U.S. attack on Iran, and from the United States. According to the late Shimon Peres, Netanyahu was intent on launching an attack on Iran and was prevented from doing so by Peres. There is plenty of evidence to show that President George W. Bush would have attacked Iran had the Iraqi invasion gone as well as had been hoped. His designation of Iran, Iraq and North Korea as the “Axis of Evil” was a preparation for a military attack.

      As I mentioned in my last comment, U.S. Congress and some members of the current U.S. Administration, including the President, are intensely hostile towards Iran and, judging by their recent provocative moves, they seem to be determined to find an excuse to attack Iran.

      Many Iranians inside and outside Iran would like to see an end to the current clerical regime, but they do not like to see the disasters inflicted on Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia and Yemen to be repeated in the case of Iran too. Iran has a defective form of democracy, which means that there is hope for a peaceful change from within, which would be much more lasting than any foreign invasion and forced “democratization”.

    • A minor correction, last week President Rouhani of Iran went on his first official visit to Moscow, although he had met Putin seven times before on the margins of other meetings, and not the other way round.

      The fact is that with its Israeli and AIPAC-inspired policies the US Administration and Congress are pushing Iran towards Russia and China, despite Iranian government and especially Iran people’s desire to get closer to the West. However, despite closer relations with Russia, Iran is under a greater danger now than at any other time since the invasion of Iraq by the Bush Administration. The current U.S. Administration is the most anti-Iranian administration in U.S. history, with most of its leading figures having personal grudges against Iran.

      The Pentagon’s growing support for Saudi Arabia’s disastrous two-year-old war against the Houthis in Yemen has been partly aimed at reducing Iran’s alleged influence in the region. CENTCOM Chief, Army Gen. Joseph Votel, told Congress last week that “there are vital U.S. interests at stake” in Yemen and he referred to Iran as a “destabilizing force”, despite the fact that as you and many other experts have pointed out Iran’s influence with the Houthis and its interest in Yemen are marginal, and it is mainly Saudi propaganda to portray her aggression against Yemen as a proxy war with Iran.

      Iran’s Sanctions Bill that the Senate introduced last week and the attempt to designate Iran’s Revolution Guards as a terrorist organization (which has been an AIPAC priority) are not only extremely hostile towards Iran, but a violation of US commitments under the nuclear agreement. The continuation of such hostile policies is bound to lead to a direct confrontation with Iran. Such a conflict might benefit Russia, but certainly not Iran or the United States.

  • After Trump Massacres in Mosul, Campaign against ISIL Halted
    • Farhang Jahanpour 03/26/2017 at 9:21 am

      It is remarkable that the “Syrian regime” was often blamed for all the atrocities that occurred in Syria, while in Iraq it is always the ISIS which uses people as human shields that results in casualties. According to New York Times, US officials admit that scores [not hundreds] had been killed as the result of recent strikes, “But the deaths occurred a few days after the strikes, they said, when a targeted building fell. They are trying to determine whether the collapse was caused by the strikes — or perhaps by an ISIS bomb.” Quite remarkable!
      There was very little reporting of the casualties in the British press and even when there was they referred to “dozens of casualties”. We should have the moral courage to condemn both atrocities equally and, above all, to try to put an end to the senseless carnage in both countries.

  • Daesh/ISIL encouraging Loner attacks to Mask its Death Spiral
    • Farhang Jahanpour 03/24/2017 at 10:55 am

      As more information is provided about the deranged man who carried out the carnage in London on Wednesday it becomes clear that he was just a common criminal with a violent past before he allegedly converted to Islam and changed his name from Adrian Russell to Khalid Masood. It is tempting to shout “Islamic terrorism” anytime an outrageous act is carried out by anyone with some connection with Islam. As a friend of mine Simon Jenkins pointed out in an interview with the BBC Newsnight, giving so much publicity to such atrocities only aids the terrorists. He says such actions should be treated as crimes, which is what they are, and not to dignify them by calling them something else:
      link to mirror.co.uk
      Here is all we know about him so far:
      link to telegraph.co.uk

  • "Media Vandalism?" Top 6 Russian reactions to Trump's Russia Scandals
    • One of the few declarations by President Trump that I agreed with was the aim to improve relations with Russia and join hands in defeating ISIS. The new Cold War that has developed between the West and Russia is in no one’s interest as it may lead to direct confrontation and possibly the use of nuclear weapons that has to be avoided at all costs.

      In the conflict with Russia, Putin is not the only guilty party. The efforts by Victoria Nuland’s effort to ferment the coup in Ukraine (and f… the EU), and the move by NATO to get closer and closer to Russian borders were as responsible for the cooling of relations as were Putin’s more assertive policies. However, it is one thing to wish to repair relations with Russia and it is quite another to have covert relations with Russian officials before having assumed power. What was the Russian ambassador doing visiting Flynn and Kushner in the Trump Tower before Trump’s inauguration?

      It is interesting to note that RT's coverage of Trump was initially very warm and even sycophantic. All opposition to him was described as the work of the deep state to rob him of his victory and stop the improvement of relations with Russia. A change of tone in RT’s coverage of Trump since Flynn’s resignation is quite noticeable. They now see that their fawning support for Trump was a little premature and maybe counterproductive.

      However, once Trump has been stripped of his aides who established covert and questionable relations with the Russian embassy and then lied about it, it would still be a good policy to push for a new détente with Russia, based on mutual interests.

  • Top 5 Hypocrisies of Trump Friday
    • Farhang Jahanpour 02/26/2017 at 6:32 am

      America exported $89 billion worth of arms in 2014 and $80 billion in 2015 (not 1914 and 1915). Sorry for the typo.

    • If you add the budgets of the CIA and various other intelligence organizations to the military budget, the United States spends close to one trillion dollars a year on military-related issues. Furthermore, America is by a long shot the biggest exporter of military weapons and services to the rest of the world. According to a recent report by the Congressional Research Service, in 2015 the United States accounted for more than half of all arms transfers worldwide. America exported $89 billion worth of arms in 1914 and $80 billion in 1915. France finished 2015 a very distant second with agreements totaling $15.3 billion, followed by Russia at $7.2 billion.

      The sad fact is that a large chunk of those weapons are exported to the war-torn Middle East, with Saudi Arabia and UAE leading the arms race. Those weapons are directly killing thousands of people in Yemen and many thousands more indirectly by various radical and terrorist groups. We are now witnessing the true embodiment of what President Eisenhower called the Military-Industrial Complex.

  • Netanyahu rejected offer by Kerry & Arab Leaders of Comprehensive Peace Talks
    • Netanyahu has been exceptionally adept at fooling the world by perpetuating the charade of the two-state solution despite his own admission that he was the person who killed the Oslo Accord. He has done this partly through doublespeak and partly by diverting attention from Israeli expansion by raising the bogus claim about Iran’s “nuclear weapons”.

      As early as 1992, he predicted that Iran would be able to produce a nuclear weapon within three to five years. This has been his constant refrain right up to the present time, as we saw during his meeting with President Trump last week.

      However, Netanyahu has not been the only Israeli leader who has misled the world about the Zionists’ real intentions. Right from the start, the Zionist leadership formally accepted the partition plan, giving the lion’s share of Palestine to the Jews who constituted a minority, but their real intention was the total annexation of the whole of Palestine. When Zionist leaders objected to the partition plan they were persuaded by Ben-Gurion to agree to official acceptance. However, in several secret meetings he made it clear that the partition borders were unacceptable and had to be rectified at the first opportunity. The minutes of those meetings reveal the real intentions of Ben-Gurion and hard-line Zionists, which was to annex the whole of Palestine. In July 1948, Ben-Gurion gave orders for the operation in Lydda and Ramleh, “Expel them”, and they did. Some 70% of Palestinians were expelled and the stealing of more and more territory has continued unabated. The Yinon Plan published in 1982 even envisaged a “greater Israel”, gobbling up some parts of the Middle East outside the Palestinian territory.

      In addition to numerous UN resolutions declaring Israeli settlements in occupied territory illegal, in 2004 the International Court of Justice by a 14-1 majority also declared the wall built deep into Palestinian territory and the occupation of Palestinian lands illegal.

      It is time to implement international law and to stop this vicious plan of expansion, because if it continues under the most pro-Israeli, anti-Arab and Islamophobic administration in America’s entire history nothing will be left of Palestine and the rights of dispossessed Palestinians.

  • Trump plots to keep Palestinians Stateless forever
    • What was so outrageous about yesterday’s love fest was that a lying, deceptive, war criminal and a U.S. president whose only qualification for dealing with the Arab-Israeli conflict seems to be that he has a son-in-law who is an orthodox Jew and a daughter who has converted to Judaism, get together and decide the fate of millions of Palestinians and other people in the Middle East with no concern for international law, Security Council resolutions, or the opinion of the vast majority of mankind, including a growing number of Europeans, about the justice of the Palestinian cause.

      What was more ominous about that charade is that the United States and Israel are going to bypass the Palestinians altogether and devise some form of a shady deal that involves Israel and her new-found ally Saudi Arabia, which initially proposed the 2002 Arab League resolution that Israel totally ignored. It seems, as you point out, that Israel will annex the whole of the Palestinian territory and either push the Palestinians, with the connivance of a few shaky Arab regimes, to Jordan or keep them as second-class citizens or even non-citizens in some Bantustans.

      What we saw yesterday was the total subversion of international law and the confirmation of an apartheid regime by the “leader of the free world”, which claims to play the role of an honest broker in the Arab-Israeli conflict. The Israelis may think that they will get away with it as they have done in the past, but such an apartheid regime is bound to fail even if blind US support for Israel continues under some more enlightened future governments, which is unlikely.

      Another bizarre fact about yesterday’s meeting was that, instead of concentrating on the Arab-Israeli conflict, Netanyahu spent most of his time talking about Iran’s “nuclear arsenal” and the threat that it posed to nuclear-armed Israel. I am sure that even non-experts who know nothing about the details of the landmark nuclear agreement that was reached between Iran and six world powers that blocks all the paths to Iran acquiring even a single nuclear weapon will see that this is merely a devious tactic to divert attention from Israel’s continuing illegal settlements and the oppression of the Palestinian people.

  • After Miller's Mega-Lies, time to rev back up the Reality Based Community
    • No matter what one thinks about the policies of the new administration, it is not clear why so many members of this administration are so angry, arrogant and obnoxious. It really seems that they live in a parallel universe and believe that they are not subject to the same rules as everyone else. This is dangerous.

  • German Ambassador 1933: "Hostility to Jews Aimed Mainly at 'Immigrants'"
    • Farhang Jahanpour 01/30/2017 at 6:39 am

      The similarities that you point out between the feeble justifications about the treatment of Jews in Germany in 1933 and the excuses made for the ban on Muslims entering America are truly amazing and sobering. We are living in difficult times. The huge demonstrations by people against Trump’s racist and Islamophobic policies all over America have been as impressive and heartwarming as Trump’s edicts have been chilling and disheartening.

      If we do not wish to see American values subverted by a man who came to power on the basis of a minority of votes, it is essential to show him and his racist supporters that present-day America is not Nazi Germany and that American people will not allow him to wreck what America has built over two centuries. There have been big demonstrations all over Europe too and more are planned. A petition that was launched 36 hours ago to cancel Trump’s state visit to Britain has already got over one million signatures.

      As Martin Luther King said:
      “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.
      The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.
      The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.
      We will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends."

  • Trump's Visa Ban is about anti-Muslim Bigotry, not Security
    • Farhang Jahanpour 01/26/2017 at 4:24 pm

      Trump’s visa ban regarding the citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries, in addition to being overtly anti-Islamic, has also another message, namely waging a dangerous campaign against Iran. If the decision were based on the countries which are either violent or whose nationals have carried out terrorist attacks against America and the West, he would know that Pakistan, Afghanistan, Egypt and even Turkey have faced greater instability and terrorism during the past few year than Iran. Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other “Persian Gulf allies” have been spreading an intolerant version of Islam, have funded hundreds of militant schools and mosques in various Islamic countries and in Europe, and have even supported militant Islamic groups that Trump allegedly wants to crush and eliminate. Various polls have shown that Iranians score highest in pro-American sentiments among all regional countries – I wonder how long that will last!

      Already, Taraneh Alidoosti, one of Iran's leading actors says she's staying away from the Oscars in protest over President Trump's plans for a visa ban. The film she stars in, "The Salesman", has been nominated in the best foreign film category, but she said: "Trump's visa ban for Iranians is racist. Whether this will include a cultural event or not, I won't attend the Academy Awards 2017 in protest."

      In a recent article Professor Charles Kurzman argues that Trump’s decision “is a dramatic and misdirected overreaction to a relatively small-scale problem” as none of the 9/11 hijackers were from any of those seven countries. (link to huffingtonpost.com)

      According to Bloomberg, Trump’s team aims to test Russia’s alliance with Iran.(link to bloomberg.com) It is also reported that the aim of Trump’s suggestion to establish safe zones in Syria is to oust Iran and Hezbollah from Syria (link to debka.com).

      In short, Trump’s decision has very little to do with security and a great deal to do with politics and anti-Islamic and especially anti-Iranian prejudice.

  • Translating Trump's inaugural Speech from the original German
    • Present day America is not Germany of the1930s, and besides no two situations are identical. There are at least five important factors that distinguish America from pre-war Germany and, for that matter, from many other countries. The first one is a written constitution, with a clear separation of powers and checks and balances. The second important distinction is freedom of expression, which is enshrined in the constitution as the First Amendment. Thirdly, it is a strong civil society. Fourthly, there is a tradition of popular activism through demonstrating and protesting when some fundamental rights are endangered, as we are witnessing today. May be, above all, the most important difference is our experience of the dangers of chauvinistic nationalism as represented by Nazi Germany.

      However, having said all that, there are some worrying signs that need to be watched. Recently, I came across the translation of a speech Hitler delivered in February 1940 about the inferior qualities of former officials and how he was going to rescue the masses from that devastation. Hitler said: “Only inferior personalities were at the helm at that time. The German people had nothing to do with their failure. If at that time I as the representative of a new political idea appeared in this hall I did so as representative of these millions of individual Germans who had not broken down the old parties and the old political forms.” This shows an uncanny resemblance to Trump’s “American carnage”.

      The mood in 1930s Germany was dark. The country had been hit hard by a global economic recession, similar to the economic crash of 2008-9. It was still feeling the pain of a disastrous war, similar to America’s experience of President Bush’s failed wars in the Middle East at the cost of trillions of dollars. There was mass poverty and unemployment. In the midst of all these problems, people looked for a strong leader.

      1- Hitler was portrayed as a messiah-like figure who could offer strong authoritarian leadership. 2- He appealed to the people to develop a unifying idea. 3- He made use of German nationalism as a rallying call; 4- He used Marxists and Jews as scapegoats for all the ills that Germany suffered. It is interesting to note that Trump’s only foreign policy reference in his speech was to unite the civilized world against “radical Islamic [not Islamist] terrorism, which we will eradicate from the face of the earth.” Islamist terrorism is certainly a major nuisance, mainly for people in the Middle East and Europe, but hardly an existential threat to the United States.

      Without wishing to equate present-day America to pre-war Germany in any way, I believe that there are some worrying signs indicating that we are at the beginning of a slippery slope. It is time for Americans to make use of all the above-mentioned advantages that they possess, to make sure that the slide towards authoritarianism, chauvinism, protectionism and militarism will be nipped in the bud.

  • The Inauguration of White Supremacy
    • Farhang Jahanpour 01/20/2017 at 4:56 pm

      To top it all was Trump’s inaugural address, which was the most narrow, chauvinistic, ungracious, uncompromising, uninformed and in a word the most depressing inaugural speech that I can remember by any American president. Domestically, he coined the term “American carnage”, and portrayed a country afflicted by crime, drug addiction, poverty, unemployment, and a landscape of rusted factories like tombstones. He promised that “the American carnage stops right here, right now”, but he did not explain how he was going to implement that edict.

      He blamed all his predecessors and “the establishment” for the carnage, saying that “politicians prospered, but the nation did not share in its wealth… The establishment protected itself, but not the citizens of our country.” All this came from a billionaire who by all accounts has paid very little tax, and who has filled his cabinet with fellow billionaires. He praised people’s support for him, saying: “You came by the tens of millions to become part of a historic movement, the likes of which the world has never seen before.” If he was referring to the number of people who attended the inauguration ceremony, early estimates put the number at many fewer than the number of those who took part in President Obama’s inauguration, and if he was referring to the number of people who voted for him, he lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by nearly three million votes, hardly an event “which the world has never seen before.” The only thing that was unprecedented about Trump’s inauguration was the extent of demonstrations and protests against him and the number of people who were arrested.

      Many people who watched the speech from abroad must have been aghast at the thought that America has “subsidized the armies of other countries while allowing for the very sad depletion of our military” (despite a military budget larger than that of the next eight biggest military powers combined), has provided financial help to other countries while they have plundered America (despite the fact that America has received the lion’s share of the wealth of other countries, such as oil and mineral resources), that other countries have been responsible for the loss of jobs in America (which has been mainly due to automation and the fact that other poverty-stricken countries have risen up and are now competing for jobs), etc. His only solution for that unfortunate state was: “From this day forward a new vision will govern our land. From this day forward it’s going to be only America first. America first.”

      This kind of scapegoating and narrow and chauvinistic nationalism is very dangerous, and when the promises fail to be fulfilled, as they must, there is every danger that people will turn against foreigners and minorities at home whom they will blame for their unfulfilled dreams. Sadly, we have seen many disastrous examples of that mentality in the past. Those who thought that Mr. Trump’s rhetoric during the campaign was just intended to win votes and that when in office he would adopt a broader and a more unifying stance will get a rude awakening.

  • As Trump guns for Iran Deal, can its Reformists survive death of Hashemi-Rafsanjani?
    • Farhang Jahanpour 01/15/2017 at 6:43 am

      Many thanks for your comment. I agree with those points. My short piece was not a review of Hashemi's political life, which would have required a much longer article. I simply wished to speculate about the impact that his death might have on Iran's domestic scene and also to point out that he and other presidents in Iran have tried from long ago to reach out to the United States and have often been rebuffed, with the exception of President Obama who decided to improve relations with Iran by allowing limited nuclear enrichment in Iran, which she is entitled to do under the NPT. I believe that President Obama's was the right approach and it would be a pity if the landmark nuclear agreement with Iran were to be torn apart by the next president as he and some of his appointees have threatened to do.

  • US Media outraged by Russia, won't Notice Israeli plot on UK Parliament
    • Farhang Jahanpour 01/08/2017 at 11:25 am

      You rightly point out that pro-Israeli lobbies have no more relationship to ordinary Jews than the ExxonMobil lobby has to those who drive cars. The problem is not with the Jews but with the pro-Israeli lobbies that often accuse anyone who criticizes some Israeli policies of anti-Semitism.

      A few months ago, we had the hysterical campaign in Britain accusing the Labour Party of “institutional anti-Semitism” in order to get at the newly elected Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn who, in the past, had made some pro-Palestinian remarks. That campaign dominated the British media for weeks. Investigations were held, some MPs were suspended and others made to apologize for what were seen as anti-Semitic remarks. This is despite the fact that there are many prominent Jews serving the Labour Party both in the Commons and in the House of Lords.

      Former London Mayor Ken Livingstone was suspended from the Labour Party for expressing an uncomfortable truth that initially Hitler had supported the transfer of Jews to Palestine, “before he went mad and ended up killing six million Jews.” He lost his place on the all-powerful National Executive Committee and was barred from participating in the elections to it. He was replaced by Rhea Wolfson, a former outreach manager for the New Israel Fund.

      Even more problematic than the activities of pro-Israeli lobbies is the role that some non-Jewish Zionists play in support of Israel. The Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI) and the Labour Friends of Israel in the Parliament are two powerful bodies that support Israeli policies. According to some reports, around 80% of Conservative MPs are members of the CFI. Peter Oborne, the associate editor of the Spectator and former chief political commentator of The Daily Telegraph, called CFI “by far Britain’s most powerful pro-Israel lobbying group”, similar to AIPAC in the United States.

      Such excessive support for a foreign country, and the targeting of those who do not fully support it, poisons politics, inhibits freedom of expression and in the long run is counterproductive and will intensify anti-Israeli feeling.

  • Preparing for the Normalization of a Neofascist White House
    • As someone who has been a student of American literature and later on of American politics and who wrote his M.A. thesis on Oriental Influences on the Work of Ralph Waldo Emerson and was delighted by the universalist outlook of Emerson and the rest of American Transcendentalists, as someone who founded the very first Department of American Studies in Iran with a mutually beneficial exchange program between Iranian and American students that continued right up to the year of the Islamic revolution, also as someone who has lived and taught in America and has been greatly impressed by the American heritage of openness, freedom, tolerance and equality, I really cannot believe what I have been witnessing in American politics during the past few decades, especially since 2003.

      The invasion of Iraq, perhaps the worst policy disaster for the United States, was based on lies and was conducted in a vicious way that involved the killing and wounding of hundreds of thousands of innocent people, the destruction of an entire country giving rise to the worst type of Islamist terrorism that we have ever witnessed. American forces engaged in the worst examples of torture and human rights abuse in Abu-Ghraib, Bagram airbase, Guantanamo and various other hellholes where rendered detainees were kept. The war cost thousands of American lives and trillions of dollars. Yet, despite all that, in such a short time all that seems to have been forgotten and once again some hawks in the new Administration are openly advocating a more devastating war, this time against Iran.

      I simply cannot understand how in a country with such a strong democratic and humane tradition as the United States, with such a strong educational and scientific culture, some politicians who openly tell lies, who have no regard for scientific truths, who are totally ignorant of other countries and civilizations can achieve such popularity that they can achieve power. Those who fact-checked Donald Trump’s assertions during the presidential campaign discovered that between 70-80% of them were simply false, yet that seems to have had little effect on his supporters. Members of the new Administration and Congressmen openly make xenophobic and racist remarks against whole religions, cultures and races and they are not challenged. Various officials jump up and down openly advocating illegal and aggressive wars, yet only a few years after the Iraqi debacle people seem to support them.

      I believe that what we are seeing is not merely a sign of political decline but a deep-seated malaise that is eating into the heart and soul of American civilization. Not only do these factors negate the American claim to be the leader of the free world, they are even cheapening and destroying the American culture and civilization for the Americans themselves. I am sure that most Americans would not like to live in a country, whose government is described by Professor Cole, one of the most learned and eminent scholars of America’s relationship with the Middle East as “Neofascist”. There is really a need for a fundamental rethink of where America is heading before it is too late.

  • With Fall of Aleppo, will a Russo-Iranian Middle East challenge Trump?
    • Despite the heart-rending pictures of families and children caught up in the fighting in Aleppo, I believe that the fall of the terrorists (or rebels) in Aleppo is a positive development that, if not to be celebrated, at least must be seen as the best of bad options. The Syrian civil war, helped by a massive influx of fighters and funds and weapons from outside, has lasted long enough and what most Syrian people want and deserve is a period of peace and stability. Wars, especially in built-up areas, are bloody and gruesome. The battle of Stalingrad was not pretty, nor was the "liberation" of Fallujah, nor will be the stalled liberation of Mosul. The lesson that we should learn from the calamity in Syria is that we should try to find peaceful solutions to national and international conflicts instead of invasion and regime change.

      I am not sure if the members of the incoming US Administration have learnt this lesson. John Bolton, a staunch enemy of Iran and friend of the Mojahedin terrorist group, believes that the only way to stop Iran’s bomb is to bomb Iran. Lt Gen. Michael Flynn believes that regime change in Tehran is the best way to stop Iran’s nuclear program, and that Iran was behind ISIS and Al Qaeda. Rep. Mike Pompeo, Trump’s pick for the CIA, says that Congress should kill the landmark nuclear deal with Iran, which first of all proved that Iran did not have a nuclear weapons program, and even its civilian nuclear program has been severely restricted for the next decade or more, and even later on as Iran agreed to join the Additional Protocol all its nuclear-related will come under strict IAEA inspection. link to youtu.be

      The problem with such officials is that their opposition to Iran is not based on any rational or even geopolitical arguments, but is simply an obsession and a phobia. There are many things wrong with Iran and with many states in the Middle East, but none of those problems can be resolved by military means and attempts at regime change. Indeed, given the chaos in the Middle East and the agreement between Iran and Turkey on Syria, which is a major step forward, the new US Administration should seek Iran’s help to create a regional security structure that will bring a period of stability to the Middle East, instead of constant violence and chaos.

  • After Aleppo, Russians prepare to defy Trump re: their Iran Alliance
    • The problem with the policies of most Western governments is not only that they are inconsistent but that sometimes they are diametrically opposed to each other. Most Western governments allegedly were against Muslim militants, yet they funded the groups that are allied with al-Qaeda and ISIS. They say that they want to get rid of ISIS, yet for the past five years they have allowed that group to freely move through various “allied” countries in the region, to arm itself and to fight against President Bashar Assad’s secular government. The reason for Russia’s success, which Western leaders and media resent so much, is that President Putin knew what he wanted, had a clear strategy to achieve it and pushed that strategy to its logical conclusion.

      Judging by the people that President-elect Trump has chosen as the members of his team, it seems that the same contradictory policies will continue. He has said that he is not in favor of foreign wars and regime change, yet his lieutenants, especially John Bolton and Lt.-General Flynn and presumably General Mattis, have regime change in Iran at the top of their list. Trump has said that he wants to give priority to stability in the Middle East, yet they are intent on weakening Iran’s political allies in Iraq and Syria who are fighting against ISIS. They want closer relations with Russia, but they want to cut Russia’s alliance with Iran and if they can to weaken the alliance between Russia and China. They are in favor of non-proliferation, yet they want to weaken the JCPOA and are one hundred per cent behind Israel’s illegal nuclear program.

      When in office, they will find that they will not be able to square those circles and indeed if they implement those policies they will destroy the region and will weaken America’s standing in the world. They are really in need of some radical thinking and devising a coherent and practical strategy.

  • Syria unlikely to be Partitioned: The Resilience of Colonial Borders
    • Thank you for those interesting quotes about the state of Syria prior to the conflict and about foreign involvement in that tragedy. As early as 1996, “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm Israel” prepared by Richard Perle and other pro-Israeli activists for Benjamin Netanyahu, called for the removal of Saddam Hussein and the containment of Syria by engaging in “proxy warfare and highlighting their possession of weapons of mass destruction”. Rather than pursuing a "comprehensive peace" with the entire Arab world, Israel had to "contain, destabilize, and roll-back" those entities that posed threats to it.

      After the Israelis, the Turks and the Saudis also got involved. A US Embassy Cable from 3 Feb 2009 is basically about the Turkish and Saudi efforts to counter Iran’s influence in the region by destabilizing Syria. Ambassador James Jeffrey, Ambassador to Turkey, writes: “GPT [Turkish Government] remains focused on removing tools from Tehran’s hands and is convinced the best way to do that is to continue to drive a wedge between Iran and Syria, without whose support Iran’s efforts at destabilization would become far less effective.”

      John Hannah, Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, wrote in summer 2011 that a senior Saudi official had told him that the 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."

      As early as 4 November 2011, Alastair Crooke, a former security advisor to EU, in an article in the Guardian headlined “Syria and Iran the Great Game”, laid bare the details of a plan to “set up a transitional council as sole representative of the Syrian people; feed in armed insurgents from neighbouring states; impose sanctions that will hurt the middle classes; mount a media campaign to denigrate any Syrian efforts at reform; try to instigate divisions within the army and the elite; and ultimately President Assad will fall.”

      None of this means that the Syrians did not have some genuine grievances against their government or that President Assad did not use massive force to put down initially peaceful demonstrations. However, it is clear that the Syrian tragedy was not merely a civil war and had many regional and international aspects to it too, and unfortunately ordinary Syrians paid the price for other countries’ geopolitical interests. I am quite confident that both the Syrians and the Iraqis will resist partition of their countries and probably would appreciate the merits of unity more than they did prior to the catastrophes that they have suffered.

  • Why Trump & his Cabinet's Jihad against "Political Islam" will Fail
    • In connection with General Mattis’s 2004 campaign against Fallujah, according to a recent article by Marjorie Cohn in Truthout, after four Blackwater Security Consulting mercenaries were killed and their bodies mutilated, General Mattis ordered massive retaliation against the village where that vile act had occurred. She wrote: ‘In retaliation, US forces attacked the village and killed 736 people. At least 60 percent of them were women and children, according to independent journalist Dahr Jamail, who interviewed doctors at Fallujah General Hospital and at other small clinics inside the city both during and after the April siege.

      In November 2004 NBC News correspondent Kevin Sites, embedded with the US Marines, heard Staff Sgt. Sam Mortimer radio that "everything to the west is weapons free." Weapons Free, explained Sites, "means the Marines can shoot whatever they see -- it's all considered hostile." The rules of engagement come from the top, and Mattis was in charge.

      Collective punishment against an occupied population constitutes a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Yet, according to the Study Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, the US attack on Fallujah in November 2004 killed between 4,000 and 6,000 civilians. Targeting civilians is a war crime.’
      link to truth-out.org

  • Now that SecDef thinks Israeli Occupation is Apartheid, will the Lobby Blackballing Fail?
    • Farhang Jahanpour 12/04/2016 at 7:07 am

      I am by no means a supporter of Hezbollah or for that matter of the Iranian government, and I do not have any clear information about who was really behind the terrorist bombings in Argentina, although there are many contradictory accounts about what happened. In fact, I believe that the use of religion for political purposes has been the main curse of the Middle East during the past few decades, and until the region learns to move beyond fanatical religious beliefs and put an end to sectarian and religious wars, whether between the Muslims and the Jews or between the Shi’is and the Sunnis, the region will not find peace.

      However, what annoys me is the denunciation of one side for these awful happenings and exonerating the other side. The bombings in Argentina have been blamed on Hezbollah, on the Islamic Jihad, and by extension on Iran. According to the prosecution's claims in 2006, Iran had been implicated in the terrorist attacks because Buenos Aires had decided to suspend a contract for nuclear technology transfer to Tehran. That claim was manifestly false, because the contract was never terminated, and Iran and Argentina were negotiating on restoration of full cooperation on all agreements when the bombing occurred.

      Mark Koroi who clearly has made a lot of research on the subject writes: “The March of 1992 Israeli Embassy bombing in Argentina occurred one month following the Israeli assassination of the Hezbollah secretary-general. Islamic Jihad Organization (IJO) claimed responsibility.” Assuming that this claim is correct, and I have no wish to contradict it, while one correctly condemns the terrible terrorist attack on the Embassy and the AMIA bombing, one cannot dismiss the Israeli assassination of the Hezbollah secretary-general as an insignificant issue. On 16 February 1992, Israeli Apache helicopters fired missiles at the motorcade of Abbas al Moussawi, the Hezbollah leader, killing him, his wife, his five-year-old son, and four others. Certainly that act too merits condemnation.

      Earlier on 8 March 1985, allegedly the Israelis and the CIA carried out a massive explosion at the residence of Sheikh Muhammad Hussein Fadlallah, the leading Shi’ite cleric in Lebanon, destroying the 7-story apartment building and a cinema, killing 80 people and wounding 256. Most of the dead were girls and women who were leaving a mosque after Friday prayers. The ferocity of the blast was such that it “burned babies in their beds”. Fadlallah who survived the attack was accused of being the spiritual leader of Hezbollah, a status that both he and Hezbollah denied. That bombing too was a terrorist act and deserves condemnation.

      This culture of tit-for-tat or the Jewish and Islamic concept of Qisas or retribution must give way to forgiveness and reconciliation or at least to political agreements. As Gandhi said if we take the concept of an eye for an eye to its logical conclusion, everybody in the world will be blind.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Rumi does not belong to fanatics.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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