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Posts Tagged ‘Iran’

This One Too Good To Miss – Ahmadinejad and Staff May Be Under Sorcerer’s Spell!

June 10, 2011 1 comment
President of Iran @ Columbia University.

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Wall Street Journal reports that Ahmadinejad and his staff may be under a sorcerer’s spell! 

From “Rough Spell for Iranian Politics:  President’s Staff Accused of Sorcery“:

Mr. Ahmadinejad’s detractors have accused the president and his advisers, including the Presidential Palace’s top imam, of belonging to a cult-like ring that promotes superstition and mystical fanaticism. Some have said that Mr. Ahmadinejad is under a spell cooked up by his chief of staff, Esfanidar Rahim Mashaie. Mr. Mashaie is already a controversial figure for promoting nationalism over religion, and for his alleged affinity for astrology and mysticism.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303657404576357323069853958.html?mod=djemITP_h

Two More Iran Stories – Sanctions and Nuclear Program

June 10, 2011 Comments off
Nuclear program of Iran

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Two other pieces of breaking news regarding Iran:

  1. New Sanctions:  http://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/tg1204.aspx

 

2. Report on the tripling of nuclear program:  http://www.jta.org/news/article/2011/06/09/3088068/iran-to-triple-uranium-enrichment

 

Six Former European Ambassadors Buck The “Fear-Only” Approach to Iran. They Believe World Still Needs To Engage

June 9, 2011 Comments off
President of Iran @ Columbia University.

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What grabs headlines are the constant reports of Iran’s expansion of its nuclear program – including Iranian officials’ announcement just this week of a tripling of Iran’s enrichment potential.  However, a more even keeled, unemotional approach was taken in an op-ed yesterday in the LA Times. Six former European ambassadors (who might actually know a thing or two about understanding and dealing with real-life, living and breathing Iranian diplomats and politicians) call for continued engagement with Iran.  Instead of hyperbole, they calmly review some of the actual facts with regard to Iran’s nuclear program and indicate that by all accounts, Iran appears to have adhered pretty well to the requirements of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (to which Iran is a signatory – unlike some other countries).  The main thrust of their argument, however, is that even while it is important to be watchful of Iran, the world should continue to attempt to engage with them.

“Of course, a dilemma lingers in the minds of most of our leaders. Why offer the Iranian regime an opening that could help it restore its internal and international legitimacy? Should we not wait for a more palatable successor before making a new overture?

This is a legitimate question, but we should not overestimate the influence of a nuclear negotiation on internal developments in Iran. Ronald Reagan used to call the Soviet Union the “evil empire,” but that did not stop him from negotiating intensely with Mikhail Gorbachev on nuclear disarmament. Should we blame him for having slowed down the course of history?

The five permanent members of the Security Council and Germany should certainly keep the focus on matters of political and human rights, but they should also try harder to solve a frustrating and still urgent proliferation problem. By doing so, we would reduce a serious source of tension in a region that longs more than ever for tranquility.”

Read the full story here:  http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-ambassadors-iran-20110609,0,2564096.story

An Unprecedented View of the Iranian Green Revolution – The Movie “The Green Wave”

June 7, 2011 Comments off

Saturday night, we were able to attend another moving movie at The Chicago Human Rights Watch Film Festival: “The Green Wave” about the lead-up to the stolen June 2009 Iranian election and the brutal crackdown that followed. 

The Iranian Green Revolution was in many ways the first modern “technological revolution” because of its innovative use of new age social networking tools like blogs, Facebook, Twitter and cell phones.  This movie reflects this same technology.  Although the film contains some moving interviews of journalists, activists and even a moderate Ayatollah, the bulk of the ‘script’ is taken directly from tweets, blog posts and cell phone conversations.  The images are a mixture of animation (a la that used in the Israeli film, “Waltz with Bashir”), the aforementioned interviews, and most riveting, the use of actual cell phone and other video of the events themselves.  Although the events received pretty wide media coverage at the time, the true scope of both the demonstrations themselves and the brutality of the government crackdown did not really come across on the small screen the it does here.  To underline this point, on one of the demonstration days it is estimated that three million people were in the streets.  This is likely the largest peaceful, public demonstration that has ever occurred in human history.  Anyone interested in trying to understand Iran needs to see this film. 

You can still get a chance to see it on Tuesday, June 7 at 6:30 PM at Facets Multimedia, 1517 Fullerton Ave.,    Info is here.

A Response To A Recent Comment

June 3, 2011 Comments off

I received a very good comment on one of my most recent posts that deserves an extended response. 

The comment is as follows:

The mistake of the Bush administration was to subscribe to LBJ’s theory that “better to piss from inside the tent……………”, thinking that once Hamas had to pick up the garbage and deliver the mail, they would become more responsible, yet it turns out it just afforded them the opportunity to switch from the mafia to a thugacracy , steal much more which gives them more power to push their #1 agenda: radical Islam and Jihad. Abbas is little better and has shown time and again he is a Holocaust denier and duplicitous. If Israel has a partner in peace even remotely close to Anwar Sadat, this conflict would be settled within 6 months.

You act as if Israel has not lost thousands in their wars of defense and only desires domination. It reminds me of the German-Jewish family standing on the platform before being transported to the camps believing they can’t possibly be such monsters……. ” but, We are German.” This is a time for staying strong as much as we all long for peace.

My reply:

Actually, the history of Hamas post the 2006 election (which as you correctly imply was encouraged by the Bush Administration) is mixed.  Although much attention, including decidedly biased accusations against Israel, continues to focus on Operation Cast Lead, collective memory seems to forget that there was a six month ceasefire agreement signed in June, 2008 which held quite well through November, 2008 (Hamas reduced the number of rockets from about 300 in May to about 20 per month (per NYT report  December 19, 2008) when the rocket fire began again.  The reasons that the cease-fire broke down  was an incursion by IDF troops into Gaza on November 4 to eliminate the threat of a tunnel being dug to the Israeli side of the border presumably to allow for the kidnapping of additional IDF soldiers.  According to the IDF, Hamas responded with 61 rockets on November 5 aimed at Israeli civilian populations, but essentially curtailed the bombardment at noon.  Obviously, each side defended its actions based upon each of their interpretation of the facts.  This essentially was the beginning of the end of the cease-fire, and led to Operation Cast Lead.

 My point here is not in any way to defend Hamas’ use of rocket fire indiscriminately aimed at civilians, nor to question Israel’s right to defend itself militarily (it certainly has that right), but instead it is to address two very important strategic questions: a) whether Hamas can be trusted to comply with any agreements, and b) to consider the strategic effectiveness of Operation Cast Lead.

 The facts seem to indicate that Hamas can be somewhat trusted to comply with agreements.  The cease-fire was enforced pretty well by Hamas leadership.  Although the Hamas charter is an abhorrent document that cannot be ignored, and it is clear that there are people both inside Hamas and in other organizations like the Al Aqsa Brigade and the Islamic Brotherhood who clearly continue to seek the destruction of Israel and the killing of all Zionists anywhere in the world, the evidence provided by the cease-fire is that there are more moderate and pragmatic elements within Hamas who were strong enough to control the more radical elements.  In addition to this circumstantial evidence, I have heard the same from people who have met directly with Khalid Mashaal and other Hamas leaders.  My argument is that both Israel and the United States are better off supporting the moderate elementsRejecting these moderate elements only strengthens the hands of the radical elements.  That is seemingly not in Israel’s long-term best interests.

This is actually supported by evaluating the current situation post-Cast Lead.  Reports indicate that there are now twice as many rockets (with both enhanced range and guidance systems) in Gaza as there were before Operation Cast Lead.  Would it have been better or worse without Operation Cast Lead?  No one can say.  But I think that one can say that the strategic threat from Gaza is much worse today than it was in July-October, 2008 during the cease-fire.  As Secretary of State Clinton said during her speech at the 2010 AIPAC Policy Conference, technological developments are not necessarily on the side of the Israelis.  Iron Dome is an amazing technological success.  But I don’t think it is a strategic success.  Why?  Each Iron Dome missile reportedly costs close to $35-50,000.  Each of the 40,000 Hamas’ rockets (and presumably a similar number of Hezbollah’ rockets on the Lebanon border) cost hundreds of dollars each, let alone artillery and morter shell.    So, even without a nuclear weapon, Iran’s de facto control of these organizations poses a very real existential threat to Israel’s population today.  I have heard all of the arguments against “linkage” and I agree that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not the cause of Islamic jihadism, however that it does not automatically follow that the converse is not true.  That is, I think that the creation of a Palestinian state could be the biggest blow to Iran’s aim for increased hegemony in the region .  (But that is an entirely separate topic).

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