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Total number of comments: 367 (since 2013-11-28 14:42:47)

F Jahanpour

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  • Iran's Khamenei blames Early English Learning for Unrest, Bans Classes
    • Farhang Jahanpour 01/09/2018 at 6:45 am

      It is very good news, because it will encourage more Iranians to study English. When I served as the dean of the Faculty of Languages in Isfahan, it was a government policy for all university students to study at least one foreign language in the first year, for an hour a day, in order to be able to have access to scientific and medical texts written in foreign languages. We offered English, Arabic, French, German and Russian. We had over 2,000 students for the English classes, about 30 for Arabic and French and less than 20 for the other two languages. After the revolution, the authorities encouraged the students to study Arabic instead of English, but it had little effect.

      Even in the European Parliament and European Commission meetings, where it is compulsory to interpret all the speeches to all the languages spoken in the EU, all speeches are interpreted first into English and then from English into other languages. In other words, all the interpreters need to know English plus their own language. Therefore, I think Ayatollah Khamenei’s decree will only encourage more people to study English. In my contacts with the students from Iran, I am impressed by the degree of their English proficiency.

  • Trump Engineered Saudi Soft Coup, attack on Qatar, to Save Self
    • Farhang Jahanpour 01/09/2018 at 12:55 pm

      There is need for further research about background to the links between the Saudis and the Israelis and the Trump Administration. Both states had feelings of intense hostility towards Iran, a feeling that was also shared by candidate Trump and his first National Security Adviser General Michael Flynn.
      Meanwhile, for links between Israel and Kushner just see the article in today’s Informed Comment:
      link to juancole.com
      For the links between Kushner and MbS see:
      link to edition.cnn.com

    • This certainly is a persuasive account of the relationship between Trump and Saudi Arabia. However, I have also heard another version that seems to have some merit. From the time that the talks on the Iran nuclear deal started, Netanyahu and the Saudis who had hoped to use Iran’s nuclear program as an excuse to bring about a US attack on Iran to “cut off the snake’s head” got terribly worried and got to work to torpedo that agreement, including Netanyahu’s address to the Joint Session of Congress to speak against the key policy of a sitting president. Netanyahu had long boasted that some Arab countries were colluding with him against Iran. There were reports even before Trump came to power about Saudis offering huge sums in the form of arms purchases and investment in the United States to prevent the agreement.

      What seems likely is that the Saudis and the Israelis, including some extremely wealthy anti-Iranian activists such as Sheldon Adelson who contributed the highest amount to Trump’s campaign, got behind Trump in order to undermine the deal. Even from the beginning of his campaign Trump called the deal the worst deal in history and pledged to tear it to shreds.

      So, instead of concentrating on Russia’s role to influence the US election or in addition to it, one should look at the role played by the Israelis and the Saudis and their local lobbies to influence the election outcome. Therefore, rather than Trump and Kushner playing the Saudis, it seems that it was the Saudis and the Israelis who influenced the US election and manipulated Trump and Kushner to achieve their goal. UAE Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and the Saudis had put together a plan on the basis of an outside-in-approach to find a solution to the Palestinian issue to Israel’s liking and impose it on the Palestinians. Today’s article in the New York Times about the Egyptian intelligence’s efforts to put pressure on influential Egyptians to say that Egypt’s policy is to give Jerusalem to Israel because there is no difference between Ramallah and Jerusalem lends support to that theory.

  • Has Iranian regime repression Succeeded?
    • Farhang Jahanpour 01/06/2018 at 5:15 am

      I often have the same objection to the way that the term government is used to refer to some friendly governments that are more appropriately regimes, such as the minority cliques that rule over large populations without a democratic mandate, such as Saudi Arabia, other Persian Gulf littoral states and even the Israeli government that does not represent the interests of the occupied people, and the governments that have been elected.

      Whatever one may think of the Iranian government, it is elected in fairly competitive elections, and even the Islamic Republic itself came into being as the result of a massive popular revolution and people voted almost unanimously for it in a referendum a few months after the revolution. One cannot say the same for any of the regimes that I mentioned above.

      However, I also sometimes use the term regime to refer to the Iranian government, partly because it refers to itself as “nezam”, which can be translated as regime or system without having a pejorative meaning, because it regards itself as more than just a government but as a system of thought and ideology. Furthermore, the way that the Islamic Republic has developed since the revolution with the monopolization of power mainly in the hands of the clerics, it is acting more and more like a regime than a government. Probably the term “system” would be a better translation of “nezam”, but it does not have the same connotations in English.

    • Farhang Jahanpour 01/05/2018 at 6:04 am

      In addition to all the excellent points that you make about why the protests in Iran have died down, at least for now, another main reason is that the protests did not have a leader and were in the form of riots rather than “protest movements” with clear demands. They started as the result of a stupid miscalculation by the hardliners, especially by President Rouhani’s defeated rival in the last election and his supporters in Mashhad, in order to weaken Rouhani. In his latest budget bill revealed in December, Rouhani for the first time listed the huge sums that go to religious and paramilitary foundations that are outside government control, many of them in Mashhad and associated with the shrine of Imam Reza.

      In his comments about the budget Rouhani openly said that the government had no control over 200 out of 360 trillion tumans of the budget. In other words, more than half of the budget goes to religious foundations or other organizations that come under the direct control of Ayatollah Khamenei. This greatly embarrassed those organizations that benefit by that inappropriate distribution of national resources, and the mullahs tried to turn the tables on Rouhani, but it soon backfired and people’s anger turned against them.

      I also believe that foreign interference and the enthusiasm of the neocons in the US Administration and outside it, to celebrate premature regime change, had a major impact on turning even the conservative sectors of the society against the protests. Many hardliners began speaking out reminding the people of the events in Syria, Libya, Yemen and elsewhere and that soon cooled the zeal for a national uprising. The government succeeded in organizing huge pro-regime demonstrations throughout the country, which showed that it still has the ability to mobilize the crowds. It now remains to be seen whether Rouhani can use the hard-liners’ deception against them or whether the securitization of the society will weaken the government.

      However, your last paragraph absolutely nails it. The protests were another example of people’s profound unhappiness with the clerical establishment. It certainly is not going to be the last mass uprising. The crunch time will come when Ayatollah Khamenei leaves the scene and the battle begins in earnest between the hardliners and the reformers about the future direction of the regime.

  • Is US National Security Strategy too Important to Leave to the Generals?
    • Farhang Jahanpour 01/05/2018 at 9:42 am

      In response to President Trump’s tweet about cutting aid to Pakistan, Pakistan’s foreign minister wrote: “From our bases you carried out 57,800 attacks on Afghanistan... Thousands of our civilians and soldiers became victims of the war initiated by you.” Referring to the Taliban, he also said that many of those whom US calls terrorists now were their former darlings who were feted in the White House. With his twitter diplomacy and the policy of antagonizing various allies, President Trump will soon find that he has no allies left and that his National Security Strategy will be on very shaky grounds, but who cares as long as he has Israel and Saudi Arabia!

  • How Iran's Protests could hit the Wider Middle East
    • Farhang Jahanpour 01/04/2018 at 7:40 am

      With all due to respect to the author, this is a very biased and inaccurate view of what has been happening in Iran during the atest protests. The author makes some standard points about the protests being the worst since the 2009 protests and anti-regime slogans, but all the stuff about the Ahvazi Iranian Arabs standing in solidarity with their counterparts on the Syrian streets, and bringing in General Qasem Soleimani and the Hezbollah is a part of Arab and Israeli propaganda to distort the message of the protests. All polls, including some by the University of Maryland, have shown that there is a big majority support for Iran’s actions against ISIS and Al Qaeda in Syria and Iraq because people know that if they had not been confronted there they would have taken over Syria and Iraq and Iran would have been next.
      For a long time, especially since Mohammed bin Salman’s seizure of power in Saudi Arabia, Arab regimes have tried to incite separatist sentiments among Iranians of Arab origin in Ahvaz and Khuzestan as a whole but so far they have failed in their campaign. The following link provides an example of demonstrations in a number of cities mainly in Ahvaz against the protests and in support of the Iranian government. Of course, these marches are stage-managed, but they show that the government still has the ability to mobilize a large number of its supporters, even in Ahvaz. To ignore all this is wishful thinking.
      link to fort-russ.com

  • Are Iran's protests Economic or Political?
    • Farhang Jahanpour 01/01/2018 at 8:53 am

      It is interesting to note that it was exactly 40 years ago last night when President and Mrs. Carter celebrated New Year’s Eve in Tehran in one of the Shah’s palaces and when President Carter famously described Iran as “an Island of stability", yet demonstrations started in Tehran shortly afterwards and a year later the Shah’s government was gone. So, things move quickly in Iran and anything is possible as the result of current demonstrations.

      However, it is rich for Elliott Abrams and the rest of the neocons to point a finger at Iran for harsh treatment of demonstrators. They are silent about the daily killing of unarmed Palestinian protestors who only wish to put an end to a brutal occupation. Only last week, a young Palestinian girl slapped an Israeli soldier who was manhandling protestors in a West Bank village. Overnight, heavily armed Israeli soldiers who felt their masculinity and reputation for brutality tarnished as the result of that incident, attacked the home of that girl, beat her up and arrested her and her mother who was protesting and took them for questioning. Education Minister Naftali Bennet told Army Radio on the following day that young women shown assaulting the soldiers “should finish their lives in prison.”

      So, by all means, let us object to the brutality of the Iranian police and call the protests politically motivated, but let us keep a sense of balance, for what they have done so far is minor in comparison with the daily brutality of the Israeli Defense Forces, with the killing of thousands of protestors in Egypt and with the daily killing and maiming of scores of innocent civilians by the Saudis in Yemen, about which the neocons are silent if not actively supportive.

  • Top 5 Signs Trump doesn't Actually Care about Iranian Protesters
    • Farhang Jahanpour 12/31/2017 at 6:45 am

      It is becoming clear that the latest wave of protests was started by hardliners, especially by President Rouhani’s rival candidate Ebrahim Raisi and his father-in-law Ayatollah Alam ol-Hoda, the hardline Friday Imam of Mashhad, to undermine Rouhani and pave the way for a hardline president. The reformist Vice-President Eshaq Jahangiri has openly criticized the hardliners for stoking the protests against Rouhani, but adding that they will be the ultimate losers. In fact, they have already backfired as the slogans of the demonstrators have targeted Ayatollah Khamenei and the entire clerical establishment, and many slogans have praised Reza Shah who suppressed the clerics.

      Certainly, the majority of people would like to see the end of the clerical rule and a more moderate and democratic government. This is what they have shown in every election. If US government were really interested in democratic reforms in Iran it would try to bolster the reformists against the hardliners, something that President Obama was trying to do, but the current administration is aiming to undermine the whole country.

      The irony is that Trump’s gamble might backfire in an unexpected way. Shortly after coming to power, President Carter started a human rights campaign, mainly in order to target the former Soviet Union, but its most tangible result was the Iranian revolution and the toppling of one of America’s strongest allies in the Middle East. It would be ironic if the current campaign could leave the Iranian government bruised but intact, but bring down the Saudi regime, which by any standard is much more repressive and corrupt than the Iranian regime.

  • Did the US cause Iran's Economic Protests & will Trump Take Advantage?
    • Farhang Jahanpour 12/30/2017 at 11:18 am

      Although the reign of Iranian clerics will come to an end sooner or later, the question is how it will come to an end, whether it is through peaceful, democratic means such as the election of more moderate governments and gradually lifting domestic restrictions and opening up to the world, or whether it comes through a violent regime change that Trump Administration and hardliner Israelis favor. We have seen the outcome of that form of disastrous regime change by outside forces in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Yemen and Syria and none of them has worked out very well.

      As you rightly point out, “If people in Iran think Trump is behind this movement, that would kill it right there.” After the travel ban on Iranians, the extreme support for anti-Iranian despotic regimes, especially Saudi Arabia, the total disregard of the rights of the Palestinians, the efforts to decertify the nuclear deal with Iran, etc. very few Iranians would look to this administration for help or regard it as their savior. Again, as you point out, all the indications from the demonstrations that have taken place in a number of Iranian cities point out to hardliners support for the protests in order to weaken Ruhani’s government. They are mainly attacking his opening to the outside world, and the failure of his nuclear deal with the West to bring about any tangible economic benefits. If the demonstrators can weaken President Rouhani’s government and pave the way for the emergence of another hardliner such as Ahmadi-Nejad it will not do any good either to the West or to the Iranians.

      The best thing that could be done is to reassure Iranians that their uprising against their unpopular rulers would not result in foreign meddling or the kind of bloodshed that we have seen in the rest of the Middle East. This means fewer tweets by President Trump and uninformed statements by the State Department.

  • What does the Muslim Scripture say about the Birth of Jesus?
    • Farhang Jahanpour 12/25/2017 at 11:05 am

      In addition to all these excellent points made above, it is also worth pointing out that the Koran speaks of Jesus in a way that it does not of any other prophet, including Muhammad. Jesus is described in the Koran as an aya, or a miracle of God. He is called Ruhollah or the Spirit of God. He is referred to as Kalimat’ullah or the Word of God (Logos). According to hadith or prophetic traditions, Jesus will return at the End of the Days to usher in a period of justice and divine rule on earth. The Koran speaks about Jesus’s miracles, including making the blind see and reviving the dead. Persian mystical poetry is full of allusions to Jesus and his wondrous works. Here is a poem by Rumi about the blind and lame coming to Jesus (Isa in Persian) for healing, as translated by E. H. Whinfield:

      ‘The house of Isa was the banquet of men of heart.
      O afflicted one, quit not this door.
      From all sides the people ever thronged,
      Many blind and lame, halt and afflicted,
      At the door of the house of Isa at dawn,
      That with his breath he might heal their ailments.
      As soon as he had finished his orisons
      That holy one would come forth at the third hour.
      He pondered those impotent folk sitting,
      Troop by troop, at his door in hope of expectation.
      He spoke to them saying: ‘O stricken ones,
      The desires of you all have been granted by God,
      Arise, walk without pain or affliction,
      Acknowledge the mercy and beneficence of God.’
      Then all, like camels whose feet are shackled,
      When you loose their feet on the road,
      Straightway rush in joy and delight to the halting place,
      So did hey run upon their feet at his command.

  • How Trump could avoid another $7 trillion bill in Mideast: Back off war with Iran
    • Farhang Jahanpour 12/23/2017 at 7:03 am

      Despite the tremendous cost of another unnecessary war in the Middle East for the West, for the region and especially for Iran, there are some ominous signs that the US Administration and a whole army of neocons and think tanks that have intensified their attacks on Iran are intent on provoking a war with Iran. In its latest report, the IAEA and the JCPOA Joint Commission have confirmed that Iran is abiding fully by her commitments link to eeas.europa.eu. Nevertheless, Nikki Haley has urged the UN to punish Iran on trumped up charges. link to abcnews.go.com.

      The main problem is to convince President Trump that dialog, finding political solutions, and cooperation with other countries are better than confrontation, unilateralism, issuing idle threats and the use of indiscriminate force. Unfortunately, the sacrifice of American values of democracy, freedom and human rights for the sake of receiving a few billion dollars from some of the most despotic and medieval tyrants in Saudi Arabia (which may prove illusive as Saudi Arabia is broke and MBS’s position is shaky) shows that making money is Trump’s only value.

      I am afraid that Macron may prove to be another Tony Blair in his zeal to please his big brother in Washington. Macron was due to visit Iran before Christmas. He could have used that opportunity to act as a mediator between Iran and America and find solutions to other issues of contention between Iran and the West, but with his hawkish remarks he has undermined that opportunity. Unless there is concerted action by the UN, the EU, Russia and China, and above all by all the peace-loving people in America, another war against Iran cannot be ruled out.

  • Nations of World at UN Humiliate Trump w/ Massive vote for Palestinians
    • Farhang Jahanpour 12/23/2017 at 5:05 pm

      No, there was also Security Council Resolution 470 adopted on 30 May 1980, which called on all parties to implement Resolution 338, which had been adopted on 22 October 1973. Both resolutions were adopted with 14 votes to none.

  • Top 5 Reasons why Trump's Threats to UNGA over Jerusalem are Empty
    • It is really a pleasure each day to read something so topical and so informative about some of the most important issues of the day. Many, many thanks.

      It seems that all the threats issued by Mr. Trump and Ms. Haley did not produce the desired result, as 128 countries voted in favor of the resolution, including many US allies. Even Canada and Mexico abstained. It is quite something when Mr. Erdogan, the leader of a NATO ally, lectures Mr. Trump by saying; "Mr. Trump, you cannot buy Turkey's democratic free will with your dollars, our decision is clear… What is the cradle of democracy doing! They are looking for people they can buy with their dollars." He exhorted other countries: "do not, for the sake of a few dollars, sell off your democratic free will."

  • Trump Nat'l Security Speech: Is he the real threat to National Security?
    • Farhang Jahanpour 12/19/2017 at 2:36 pm

      The threat that President Trump and his incoherent National Security Strategy, which was somewhat different from the text that he was reading from the teleprompter, pose to America and to the world lies in the following factors:

      1- His obsession to undermine the achievements of his predecessors (mainly one predecessor), accusing them of “disastrous trade deals”, the “disastrous, weak, and incomprehensibly bad deal with Iran”, “allowing terrorists such as ISIS to gain control of vast parts of territory all across the Middle East”, etc.

      2- His unabashed praise for his own amazing achievements, boasting how single-handedly he has defeated ISIS; of course with no mention of the Russian bombing, and the contribution of Syrian, Iranian, Iraqi, and Hezbollah forces fighting ISIS on the ground.

      3- How he has renewed “our friendships in the Middle East and partnered with regional leaders to help drive out terrorists and extremists, cut off their financing, and discredit their wicked ideology.” He seems to have forgotten that in his campaign speeches he accused those very states, especially Saudi Arabia, of organizing and financing terrorism.

      4- His maniacal hostility to Iran, which has been mentioned no less than 12 times in the text, linking her to North Korea as a rogue state. He accuses Iran of being “the main sponsor of terrorism in the world”, and “developing more capable ballistic missiles and has the potential to resume its work on nuclear weapons that could threaten the United States and our partners.” This is the country that was prepared to give up its entire nuclear program in 2003, and finally reached an agreement with all five permanent members of the Security Council plus Germany to mothball her nuclear program for 10-15 years and even after the so-called “sunset clauses” will remain a member of the NPT and the Additional Protocol, subject to continued, unprecedented inspections.

      5- His sudden, unexpected outburst against an alleged ally Pakistan, stating: “The United States continues to face threats from transnational terrorists and militants operating from within Pakistan”, and issuing the following threat: “We will insist that Pakistan take decisive action against militant and terrorist groups operating from its soil.”

      6- His dismissal of the Arab-Israeli conflict as “an irritant preventing peace and prosperity in the region.” With such a lack of understanding of this complex conflict, it is clear that he will not be able to propose any solution to it.

      7- No mention of Russian interference in the American election! His only complaint against China and Russia was that they “challenge American power, influence, and interests, attempting to erode American security and prosperity. They are determined to make economies less free and less fair, to grow their militaries, and to control information and data to repress their societies and expand their influence.” Presumably he expects other countries not to compete with America and not to develop their militaries or economies while the United States is spending $1.5 trillion upgrading her nuclear arsenal.

      8- No mention of climate change!

      In short, the main problem with this so-called strategy is that it is a collection of angry and harsh outbursts without any coherence and without any strategy to deal with the real problems in the contemporary world. This is what poses the greatest threat to America and the rest of the world.

  • Exodus of Climate Scientists to France only the Beginning if GOP Guts Grad Education
    • Farhang Jahanpour 12/12/2017 at 6:02 am

      For many decades the United States served as a magnet for scientists from all over the world who came to America to find a place for free research and scientific innovation. That process enriched America and included individuals such as Steve Jobs, the son of a Syrian father, who founded Apple. There have also been scores of Iranian born or Iranian-American scientists who have achieved fame in the United States. They include the late Ali Javan, physicists and a co-inventor of gas laser in 1960; Firouz Naderi, who spent more than 30 years in technical and managerial positions at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory; Pardis Sabeti, computational biologist and medical and evolutionary geneticist, professor of evolutionary biology at Harvard University; Maryam Mirzakhani who received the Fields Medal, the most prestigious medal in mathematics and who served as professor of mathematics at Stanford University before her untimely death; Anousheh Ansari, engineer and astronaut and co-founder and CEO of Telecom Technologies, Inc. (TTI); Nima Arkani-Hamed, theoretical physicist with interests in high-energy physics and string theory, and a former professor at Harvard and now teaching at Princeton; Vahid Tarokh, the inventor of space-time codes and professor of applied mathematics at Harvard University, etc.

      Sadly, as the result of Trump’s travel bans and growing unscientific outlook that process will be seriously curtailed and there will be a reverse brain drain from the United States to other freer countries. However, US’s loss will be to the benefit of the countries that welcome those scientists.

  • Massive worldwide Rallies Condemn US, Courtesy Trump Jerusalem Call
    • In his decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Trump seems to have been badly misled by his pro-Israeli son-in-law Kushner and the latter’s protégé, Mohammed bin Salman. According to many reports by those who seem to be aware of behind-the-scenes deals between the two young princes, Kushner had promised MbS to provide him with the full backing of the US government and the Israeli lobby in the United States in his campaign against Iran if MbS could deliver a Palestinian agreement to Israel’s liking.

      After summoning the Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri and demanding his resignation, MbS also summoned the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to Riyadh and presented him with the text of a proposal about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Allegedly, the proposal allows Israel to keep all the illegal settlements in the West Bank, establishing a non-contiguous Palestinian entity, as well as recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, while reviving the old nonsense about the Palestinian Authority having Abu Dis as its capital. Abbas reportedly said that the proposal was even worse that all former Israeli proposals that the Palestinians had rejected and that he could not put his name to it. MbS had told him that in that case he had to resign and allow someone else to reach an agreement with Israel. This seems to have been one of the reasons for Trump’s announcement of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

      It is important to note that not only have all countries in the world, with the exception of Israel, opposed that decision, even many liberal Jewish organizations in the United States and Israel, including the J Street, also opposed it. According to Haaretz, in a letter to Trump's Mideast peace envoy Jason Greenblatt, 25 former Israeli ambassadors, academics and peace activists had also announced their deep concern about the move. It seems that Kushner and MbS have bitten off more than they can chew and that the move will backfire and will set back the cause of Arab-Israeli peace.

  • How Trump's Jerusalem Move Just Helped Iran Win the Mideast
    • One of Ayatollah Khomeini’s most effective criticisms of the late Shah, which probably appealed most to his religious base, was that the Shah was serving the interests of Israel above that of the Palestinians. Although the Shah was extremely powerful and seemed very stable, a direct attack by one of his ministers on Ayatollah Khomeini in one of the newspapers led to nationwide protests that resulted in the Shah’s downfall a year later. This is not to say that no Arab country should have close relations with Israel in fear of public protest, but it means that in return for that support Israel should show some sign of flexibility and some compromise towards the Palestinians, something that has been totally absent in recent years.

      There are a couple of points that need to be stressed regarding Trump’s ignorant and arrogant statement yesterday. The first point is that unless we believe that he is the supreme leader of the entire world, it is not in his gift to “determine” that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, contrary to historical facts, many UN resolutions and a consensus by US administrations of both parties that Jerusalem is a part of a final status agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians and should not be preempted by a diktat either by an American or an Israeli leader.

      When during the dying days of his administration, President Clinton decided belatedly to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict and summoned Yasser Arafat and Ehud Barak and their teams to a Camp David summit the Palestinians gave in on many issues, including the Israeli annexation of illegal settlements, temporary Israeli presence in the Jordan Valley and long-term Israeli-controlled “early warning stations”, the status of the refugees, and the small portion of historical Palestine that the Palestinians would get. However, the talks failed when Barak insisted on Jerusalem being the “undivided and eternal capital of Israel”, while giving the Palestinians the village of Abu-Dis. Arafat rightly said that Jerusalem was not his to offer to Israel. Jerusalem was an international city sacred to Jews, Christians and Muslims and he was not in a position to give it up. The same logic still pertains.

      However, one good thing that Trump's statement has done is that it has unmasked the hypocrisy at the heart of US policy towards the Arab-Israeli conflict. All US administrations have consistently taken the side of Israel, have closed their eye on Israel's nuclear arsenal, have blocked any UN resolution critical of Israel's illegal activities, and have provided tens of billions of dollars worth of military aid to that regime regardless of the fact that Israel has used those weapons to commit war crimes, etc. Nevertheless, they have continued the charade of the "peace process", and a process is as long as a piece of string, which has so far lasted for decades while Israel has continued its illegal expansion.

      At least now, US policy is clear for all to see. Hopefully, this will unite the peace-loving and fair-minded Americans and the rest of the world in a serious effort to resolve that critical issue that is at the heart of all other conflicts in the Middle East. It has also revealed the duplicity of many Arab leaders towards the oppressed Palestinian people, especially the latest despot MbS who has acted as Kushner’s poodle.

  • Split in Rebel Yemeni coalition, as Saleh turns on Houthis, seeks peace with Saudis
    • Farhang Jahanpour 12/04/2017 at 10:46 am

      The latest report about the assassination of former President Saleh adds a whole new dimension to the conflict, and will further isolate the Houthis who have allegedly been behind the murder and have taken over Sana’a and have announced “end of crisis”. I am afraid it will further intensify the crisis, but perhaps it will bring the end closer, especially as Saleh’s son, who lives in the UAE and was the former head of the Republican Guards, may lead the opposition to the Houthis.

    • Farhang Jahanpour 12/04/2017 at 5:14 am

      Despite the regular media reporting about the “Iranian backed Houthis” fighting against Yemen’s “legal and internationally recognized” government, as you point out it now appears that rather than the Houthis using former President Ali Abdullah Saleh to overrun Yemen, it has been Salih who has been using the Houthis to achieve his aim.

      The Yemeni uprising in 2011 put an end to more than three decades of Salih’s rule as president. After returning to Yemen from his exile in Saudi Arabia, Salih tried to regain power with the help of the Houthis. The conflict in Yemen has been mainly a struggle for power between Salih and his former vice-president Abdu Rabuh Mansur Hadi. In fact, Iran had advised the Houthis not to move on to Sana’a. However, Hadi’s presidential mandate had officially ended by the time he asked for Saudi help in March 2015. So there was little basis in international law for the Operation Decisive Storm, allegedly aimed at restoring Hadi to power.

      The hypocritical stance of the US, UK, and France that provide military and technical assistance to Saudi coalition shows a deep contempt for the Yemenis and a refusal to resolve the underlying causes of the conflict. In October 2015 a Netherlands-proposed UN resolution calling for independent investigators was blocked as the result of strong pressure from Saudi Arabia and US.

      The problem is that Yemen has a strategic position and anyone who wishes to control the Bab al-Mandab, the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf must also control Yemen, hence the need for a pliant, pro-Western regime there. Saudi Arabia’s military intervention in March 2015 was mainly aimed at punishing Salih, as well as portraying the young Prince Muhammad Bin Salman (MBS) as a tough leader. Since then, the war has resulted in tens of thousands of casualties, a famine that threatens 70% of Yemen’s 30 million population, compounded by the worst case of cholera and recently by typhoid.

      This cynical international attitude towards Yemen must end and efforts must be made to put an end to multiple war crimes and the misery of poor Yemeni civilians.

  • Trump tries to undo FDR's rescue of UK from Fascism
    • Farhang Jahanpour 11/30/2017 at 5:46 am

      With his irresponsible words and extreme action, President Trump has intensified division, hatred and violence in the United States, and now he is trying to do the same in Britain. By retweeting those “fake videos” by a far-right bigot who was appearing in court for inciting religious hatred on the same day that the president used her tweets, President Trump has provided a platform for racists, xenophobes and fascists. In fact, it seems that his blind support for the despotic Saudi prince Muhammed bin Salman is also aimed at intensifying hatred between Sunnis and Shi’ites, and he has also deepened the gulf between the Israelis and the Palestinians by appointing far-right Zionists as his ambassador and envoy for the Middle East and announcing that he wants to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem. Trump’s record during the past ten months has proved that not only is he not fit for the office of US president, but that in fact he poses a serious threat to international peace and security.

  • With 305 dead in Sinai Terror, Trump babbles Wall & Visas
    • Farhang Jahanpour 11/28/2017 at 6:28 am

      When the terrible earthquake took place on the Iran-Iraq border on November 14, killing about 500 and injuring about 8,000 in the more populous Iranian cities of Sar-e Pol-e Zahab and Kermanshah and totally destroying many villages, not only did President Trump not issue any messages of sympathy or offer of help, some overzealous US officials even prevented Iranian-Americans who had collected donations to send to the victims from doing so, due to the sanctions. This shows that, despite his declared feelings of respect and affection for the Iranian people, President Trump does not distinguish between Iranian people and government. Pope Francis sent two messages of prayers and condolences to the victims’ families, and many other world leaders also expressed sympathy, but President Trump’s twitter account remained totally silent.

  • The Saudi-US war on Yemen is killing 130 Children a Day & Other Bleak Statistics
    • Farhang Jahanpour 11/19/2017 at 6:13 am

      Thank you for highlighting the human cost of MbS’s disastrous war in Yemen, and to show us that the war in Yemen is not all about politics but it inflicts a very heavy cost on the civilians, especially the children. In fact, what is going on in Yemen is a war crime and the international community cannot remain silent any longer and should call for an immediate end to the conflict and the prosecution of the perpetrators.

      The conflict in Yemen has already give rise to the worst case of cholera in recent history, with more than 928,000 people who contracted cholera in 2017, apparently the fastest outbreak in recorded history. A U.N. panel of experts reported last week that Saudi Arabia is purposefully obstructing the delivery of humanitarian aid into Yemen. link to theintercept.com

      Whenever the issue of Yemen is raised by the media, reference is always made to Iran-backed Houthis. The Iranian government is responsible for many wrong policies, but Yemen is not one of them. As you point out, Iran might have provided some support for the Houthis, but their weapons including their missiles belonged to Yemen’s military forces which were taken over by the Houthis and the former President Ali Abdullah Saleh. In fact, Iran strongly advised the Houthis against marching to Sanaa.
      It is really time to get serious about the disaster in Yemen and not to sacrifice all our humanitarian and democratic values for the sake of selling more arms to a spoilt and arrogant Saudi prince.

  • Pres. Aoun: Saudi Holding Hariri an Act of Aggression
    • Farhang Jahanpour 11/16/2017 at 8:45 am

      The Saudis and their new best friends the Israelis do not seem to understand that both al-Hashed al-Sha’bi in Iraq and Hezbollah in Lebanon are not foreign forces, and cannot go home. When Israel invaded Lebanon, Hezbollah was the main force to fight against them and force them to leave. When ISIS attacked Syria and Iraq, the National Defence Forces (NDF) in Syria and al-Hashed al-Sha’bi in Iraq were important components of the fight against the terrorists.

      It should be remembered that the Saudis allegedly encouraged Israel to attack Lebanon in 2006, as they seem to be doing again. The Saudis have lost in Yemen, in Iraq and in their support for the Kurdish independence. The defeat of insurgents in Syria, especially Jibhat al-Nusra that the Israelis and the Saudis supported, has made them feel desperate and they are meddling in Lebanon in order to make up for their defeat. Forcing the Lebanese prime minister to resign has robbed the Lebanese Sunnis of their leader and has inadvertently strengthened Hezbollah and the Iranians. Instead of dragging the Middle East towards a major confrontation they should accept their defeat and try to think of some positive policies to bring the regional countries together.

  • After Trump lets hundreds of ISIL Leave Raqqa, Turkey Enraged
    • This was a pretty irresponsible move. Unlike President Trump or the British MP Rory Stewart, I do not believe that ISIS fighters should have been killed on the spot link to telegraph.co.uk but I think that they should have been locked up and hopefully sent to some de-radicalization classes. All this shows that all the talk about some Western and Saudi-Israeli support for some of the terrorists was not very farfetched. There have already been some reports about Israel paying the salaries of Syrian rebels link to globalresearch.ca to create a buffer between Israel’s occupied Golan Heights and Syria, although Israel’s original rationale for occupying Golan Heights was that it would create a buffer between them and Syria.

      The point that you make about Trump’s impatience for the YPG Kurds to take over hydrocarbon resources in Syria is also very important and sinister. After the terrible devastation of the past seven years, Syria is in desperate need for reconstruction. Now, Trump wishes to deprive them of their own resources that would enable them to repair some of the massive destruction.

  • Nasrullah: Saudi has declared war on Lebanon
    • Farhang Jahanpour 11/12/2017 at 12:10 pm

      Here are two good articles that show the extent of Saudi disrespect towards Lebanon. In view of this overt interference in Lebanon’s affairs, including installing one of their citizens as Lebanon’s prime minister and then summoning him to Riyadh under false pretenses and them kidnapping him and forcing him to read a letter of resignation, it is rich of the Saudis to accuse Iran of interference in the affairs of Arab countries. Just imagine if something similar had been done by Iran. In the face of this grotesque interference in the affairs of other states the relative silence of the West is deafening. The statement issued by the Secretary of States is very weak and totally inadequate.
      link to independent.co.uk

      link to uk.reuters.com

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

      Mohammad bin Salman has intensified his dangerous game both at home and abroad after Jared Kushner’s secret visit to Riyadh a few days ago. In addition to virtually kidnapping Saad Hariri and forcing him to resign while allegedly holding his wife and children hostage in Saudi Arabia, he has also summoned Mahmoud Abbas to Riyadh, presumably to wean him and especially Hamas away from Iran. In the middle of this enormous crisis that can lead to another major regional war in the Middle East, President Trump found time during his critical visit to the Far East to phone Salman and express his support for him, and also tweeted that Salman and MbS knew what they were doing.

      Meanwhile, the vanishing US Secretary of State who has been silent about all these developments finally issued a statement yesterday that is a masterstroke in its ambiguity. It asserts: “The United States strongly supports the sovereignty and independence of the Republic of Lebanon and of its political institutions.” So far so good, because supporting Lebanon’s sovereignty and its political institutions would supposedly accept the role of Hezbollah that has MPs in Lebanese Parliament and is an important element of the state. It continues: “The United States urges all parties both within Lebanon and outside to respect the integrity and independence of Lebanon’s legitimate national institutions, including the Government of Lebanon and the Lebanese Armed Forces.” Presumably it means that Saudi Arabia should not kidnap Lebanon’s president and force him to resign, emphasizing that point by saying “In this regard, we respect Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri as a strong partner of the United States.” Then it goes on to say: “There is no legitimate place or role in Lebanon for any foreign forces, militias or armed elements other than the legitimate security forces of the Lebanese state – which must be recognized as the sole authority for security in Lebanon.” The Lebanese armed forces and the Lebanese state have recognized the vital role that Hezbollah has played in forcing Israel out of Lebanon and in maintaining Lebanon’s independence. The statement concludes: “The United States cautions against any party, within or outside Lebanon, using Lebanon as a venue for proxy conflicts or in any manner contributing to instability in that country.” Does this refer to Saudi Arabia, Israel, Iran or even the United States and France? Some clarification would be useful.

  • Saudi Official views Lebanon as "at war with us"
    • Farhang Jahanpour 11/07/2017 at 7:31 am

      It is now quite clear that Saad Hariri’s resignation was not voluntary but was dictated to him by his Saudi masters. There are a number of reports indicating that he too is under house arrest. Many Iranian and Arab sources have reported that Hariri’s meeting with Ali Akbar Velayati, long-term Iranian foreign minister and currently Ayatollah Khamenei’s chief political advisor, a few days ago was cordial. In that meeting Iran put forward a number of proposals for normalizing relations with Saudi Arabia, provided that the Saudis stopped supporting the Salafi militants in Syria. Hariri had gone to Saudi Arabia to discuss the offer with Saudi leaders, but it did not go well, at least with the over-ambitious MbS.

      It seems that the arrest of all those powerful and wealthy princes had been connected with the suspicions of a coup or at least as a precaution to prevent a future challenge to MbS. Now, MbS has concentrated all the levers of political, military and economic power in his own hands and is acting like an absolute dictator, despite the traditional Saudi practice of giving some power to a few leading princes. Under these circumstances, it is truly bizarre that the leader of the free world should tweet “I have great confidence in King Salman and the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, they know exactly what they are doing”.

  • Lebanon Hizbullah leader: Saudis dictated Hariri resignation
    • Farhang Jahanpour 11/06/2017 at 2:07 pm

      There seems to be a clear link between Saad Hariri announcing his resignation in Riyadh despite the fact that only a couple of days previously he had be in a happy and jovial mood in Beirut, and the unprecedented move against some of the most powerful and wealthiest princes in Saudi Arabia. It certainly would be a joke to suggest that Salman and his young and ambitious son MbS are engaged in an anti-corruption campaign in Saudi Arabia, because by any standard they are some of the most corrupt individuals in the kingdom. It was MbS that when he was on holiday in South of France saw a yacht belonging to a Russian oligarch and bought it on the spot for 500 million euros, while King Salman reportedly spent $100m on his holiday in Morocco in August. The two of them have been selling off Saudi Arabia’s main asset by floating Aramco, while spending hundreds of billions of dollars on sophisticated weapons that they do not know how to use.

      The latest events could also be connected with Kushner’s recent visit to Saudi Arabia and Netanyahu’s threats against Hizbullah and Iran. The young prince’s adventures in Yemen, supporting the militants in Syria, breaking relations with Iran and going after Qatar have failed and have exposed Saudi Arabia to unprecedented dangers. It seems that he has not learned that when you are in a hole you should stop digging. He is now engaged in a very high-risk strategy both at home and abroad. The latest foolish adventurism will also fail, but it may create great instability in Lebanon and in the region as a whole. Instead of encouraging the over-ambitious prince to go for broke, the wiser heads around President Trump should rein him in and prevent another major conflict in the Middle East. But the young prince does not seem capable of learning from his mistakes.

  • Tillerson tells Iraqi Shiite Militias to "go home." Sad.
    • In a recent debate at John Hopkins University (17 October), including the Iraqi ambassador to Washington and some experts on Iran, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, it was pointed out that there were about 50 Iranian military advisors in Iraq.
      link to youtube.com
      I believe there are some 6,000 US military personnel there too. It would be good if all foreign fighters in Iraq, and for that matter in other Persian Gulf littoral states, could go home too.
      Mr. Tillerson's remarks do not just reveal his ignorance of what is going on in Iraq which is worrying in itself, but it is a sign of a more worrying reality, namely that when you want to demonize a country facts do not matter and anything goes.

  • 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.

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