Irangardy

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Archive for October, 2011

Fareed’s Take: Time to re-engage Iran

Posted by alanmirs on October 30, 2011


http://globalpublicsquare.blogs.cnn.com/2011/10/30/time-to-re-engage-iran/

By Fareed Zakaria, CNN

Regular GPS watchers and readers will know that I was in Tehran last week to interview President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. You can watch excerpts of the interview here. But being in Iran made me think about our policy towards that country, which strikes me as stuck in a time warp.

You will remember that early in the 2008 presidential campaign, Barack Obama signaled that he was going to have a different foreign policy than George Bush – and he chose as his example, Iran. He argued that simply pressuring the country was not a policy and Obama offered to talk to Iran’s leaders. Well, two years into his presidency, Obama’s Iran policy looks a lot like George W. Bush’s – pressure and more pressure.

The punitive tactics have paid off in some measure. Iran faces economic problems. But they are also having a perverse impact on the country, as I witnessed last week. The sanctions are stifling growth, though not as much as one might imagine. So the basic effect has been to weaken civil society and strengthen the state – the opposite of what we should be trying to do in that country. By some estimates, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard – the hard-line element of the armed forces, supported by the supreme leader – now controls 40% of the economy.

Is that the goal of our policy?

In fact, what is our goal? Is it to overthrow the Iranian regime? Is it to make it bleed until it gives up its nuclear program? A wholesale revolution continues to strike me as a distant prospect. The regime still has some domestic support, and it uses a mix of religious authority, patronage and force quite effectively.

And we keep forgetting the inconvenient fact that, even if the regime changed, the nuclear energy program – which is popular as an expression of Iranian nationalism and power – will continue. Even the leaders of the Green movement strongly support that program.

Obama should return to his original approach and test the Iranians to see if there is any room for dialogue and agreement. Engaging with Iran, putting its nuclear program under some kind of supervision and finding areas of common interest (such as Afghanistan) would all be important goals.

It might not work – the Iranian regime is divided and often paralyzed itself – but it’s worth trying. Strategic engagement with an adversary can go hand in hand with a policy that encourages change in that country. That’s how Washington dealt with the Soviet Union and China in the 1970s and 80s.

Iran is a country of 80 million people, educated and dynamic. It sits astride a crucial part of the world. It cannot be sanctioned and pressed down forever. It is the last great civilization to sit outside the global order. We need a strategy that combines pressure with a path to bring Iran in from the cold.

For more on this, read my column in The Washington Post. For more of my thoughts throughout the week, I invite you to follow me on Facebook and Twitter and to bookmark the Global Public Square. Also, for more of my takes, click here.

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Obama Administration Escalates Confrontation with Iran: Why?

Posted by alanmirs on October 29, 2011


by Mark Weisbrot

The Obama Administration announced two weeks ago that a bumbling Iranian-American used car salesman had conspired with a U.S. government agent posing as a representative of Mexican drug cartels to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington.  This broughthighly skeptical reactions from experts here across the political spectrum.

But even if some of this tale turns out to be true, the handling of such accusations is inherently political.  For example, the U.S. government’s 9/11 commission investigated the links between the attackers and the Saudi ruling family, but refused to make public the results of that investigation.  The reason is obvious: There is dirt there and Washington doesn’t want to create friction with a key ally.  And keep in mind that this is about complicity with an attack on American soil that killed 3,000 people.

By contrast, the Obama Administration seized upon the rather dubious speculation that “the highest levels of the Iranian government” were involved in this alleged plot.  President Obama announced that “all options are on the table,” which is well-known code for possible military action.  This is extremist and dangerous rhetoric.

University of Michigan professor Juan Cole, a leading Mideast scholar, offered that Obama may be “wagging the dog” — looking for a military confrontation to help his re-election in the face of a stagnant economy and high unemployment.  This is certainly possible.  Recall that George W. Bushused the build-up to the Iraq war to secure both houses of Congress in the 2002 election.  He didn’t even have to go to war.  The run-up to war worked perfectly to achieve his main goal: all of the issues that most voters cared about and were threatening to cost Republicans one or both chambers of Congress — the jobless recovery, Social Security, corporate scandals — disappeared from the news during the election season between August and November.  President Obama’s advisers certainly understand these things.

Of course the latest saber-rattling could also just be part of a long-term preparation for war with Iran, just as President Clinton spent years preparing the ground for the Iraq war launched by Bush.  Once this is done, war is difficult to stop; and once these wars are launched, they are even more difficult to end, as 10 years of useless, bloody war in Afghanistan show.

That is why international initiatives to roll back the march toward war, such as the nuclear fuel-swap proposal brought forth by Brazil and Turkey in May 2010, are so important.  The Iranian government has recently offered to stop enriching uranium if the United States would provide uranium for Iran’s medical research reactor — which it needs for hundreds of thousands of cancer patients.  This uranium would not be usable for weapons.  The proposal was endorsed by leaders of the American Federation of Scientists.

Brazil is one of the few countries with the international stature, independence, neutrality and respect to help defuse this confrontation.  We can only hope that it will make further attempts to save the world from another horrible war.


Mark Weisbrot is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, in Washington, D.C.  He is also president of Just Foreign Policy.  This article was first published by CEPR on 27 October 2011 under a Creative Commons license.  Em Português.

http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/2011/weisbrot281011.html

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At the Metropolitan Museum, A New Wing, A New Vista

Posted by alanmirs on October 28, 2011


On Tuesday, after eight years of renovation, the Metropolitan Museum of Art will open its new Islamic wing — the Galleries for the Art of the Arab Lands, Turkey, Iran, Central Asia and Later South Asia. Below, a tour of some of the collection’s highlights, including smaller images of artworks from other parts of the world, made at the same time. Related Article»

 

Start

On Tuesday, after eight years of renovation, the Metropolitan Museum of Art will open its new Islamic wing — the Galleries for the Art of the Arab Lands, Turkey, Iran, Central Asia and Later South Asia. Below, a tour of some of the collection’s highlights, including smaller images of artworks from other parts of the world, made at the same time. Related Article»

The Moroccan Court

Reporter, Randy Kennedy

Nick Harbaugh/The New York Times

Based on 14th and 15th century Moroccan and Spanish architectureThe court was built from scratch by a group of skilled artisans from Fez, Morocco. The intricate tile work is based on patterns from the Alhambra palace in Spain.

Artistic parallel from France

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Stained-glass window, from the abbey church of Saint-Ouen, Rouen, France, about 1325

Illuminated Manuscripts

Reporter, Randy Kennedy

The Metropolitan Museum of Art
“The Night Journey of Muhammed (the Mi’raj),” illustrated in present-day Uzbekistan, about 1530-35

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To deal with Iran’s nuclear future, go back to 2008

Posted by alanmirs on October 27, 2011


Fareed Zakaria

By , Thursday, October 27, 4:12 AM

Early in the 2008 presidential campaign, Barack Obama signaled that he was going to break with the Bush administration’s Manichean foreign policy. The topic was Iran. He explained repeatedly that the Bush policy of simply pressuring Iran was not working and that he would be willing to talk to the country’s leaders to find ways to reduce tensions and dangers. Two years into his presidency, Obama’s Iran policy looks a lot like George W. Bush’s — with some of the same problems that candidate Obama pointed out two years ago.

To be fair, the administration started out in 2009 by making overtures to Iran, which were rebuffed by its supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Then it watched as the Green movement rattled the regime. But the result is that the administration has lapsed into a policy of pressure, pressure and more pressure.

The punitive tactics have paid off in some measure. Iran faces economic problems. But the tactics are also having a perverse impact on the country, as I saw during a brief visit to Tehran last week. The sanctions are stifling growth, though not as much as one might imagine because Iran has oil money and a large internal market. Their basic effect has been to weaken civil society and strengthen the state — the opposite of what we should be trying to do in that country.

“If you need to import anything, it has to be smuggled, which means you have to be in cahoots with the regime. I won’t do that, but many thugs will,” said one businessman to me.

By some estimates, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard — the hard-line element of the armed forces, supported by the supreme leader — controls 40 percent of the economy. Recall Iraq, where decades of sanctions created a country of gangs and mafia-capitalism, and allowed the regime to create an ever-tighter grasp on the society.

Is that the goal of our policy? In fact, what is our goal? Is it to overthrow the Iranian regime? Is it to make it cry uncle and give up its nuclear program?

A wholesale revolution continues to strike me as a distant prospect. The regime still has some domestic support, and it uses a mix of religious authority, patronage and force quite effectively. Sanctions have made people somewhat resentful of the West for hurting them more than the regime.

And we keep forgetting the inconvenient fact that, even if the regime changed, the nuclear program — which is popular as an expression of Iranian nationalism and power — will continue. The leaders of the Green movement strongly support that program and have repeatedly criticized President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for making too-generous offers to the West. (All Iranian officials repeat constantly that they would never develop nuclear weapons. And in a recent interview with Seymour Hersh in the New Yorker, Mohamed ElBaradei, the former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said he had never “seen a shred of evidence that Iran has been weaponizing, in terms of building nuclear-weapons facilities and using enriched materials.”)

Within the context of Iranian politics, Ahmadinejad is the pragmatist. He has been trying to clip the wings of the clergy. His chief of staff has openly mused about having better relations with Israel. And over the years Ahmadinejad has made several moves on the nuclear front that, while imperfect, are serious opening bids for a negotiation. He proposed the creation of an international consortium to enrich uranium, he accepted a Turkish-Brazilian deal to have the Russians enrich uranium for Iran, and he has made an offer that would cap Iran’s enrichment at the 5 percent level.

Obama should return to his original approach and test the Iranians to see if there is any room for dialogue and agreement. Engaging with Iran, putting its nuclear program under some kind of supervision and finding areas of common interest (such as Afghanistan) would all be important goals.

This might not be possible. Iran has its own deep divisions, and many in the regime feel threatened by any opening to the West. But that is precisely why the administration should keep searching for ways to create that opening.

Strategic engagement with an adversary can go hand in hand with a policy that encourages change in that country. That’s how Washington dealt with the Soviet Union and China in the 1970s and 1980s. Iran is a country of 80 million people, educated and dynamic. It sits astride a crucial part of the world. It cannot be sanctioned and pressed down forever. It is the last great civilization to sit outside the global order. We need a strategy that combines pressure with a path to bring Iran in from the cold.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/to-deal-with-irans-nuclear-future-go-back-to-2008/2011/10/26/gIQADQyEKM_story.html

 

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Behind the Iran ‘plot’

Posted by alanmirs on October 26, 2011


Aijaz Zaka Syed
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Who’s behind the Iran ‘plot’ and who stands to gain if the Middle East were to witness another conflagration?
http://www.thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=74435&Cat=9
Recently the alleged Iranian plot targeting Saudi ambassador amid US warnings and threats to Tehran created a sensation. We all know there’s no love lost between Saudi Arabia and Iran. And it’s not just between Riyadh and Tehran. There has always been an invisible, uneasy gulf between the Persians and Arabs and it goes way back – long before the Iranian revolution and even before the dawn of Islam.

The 1979 Iranian revolution did not help matters, what with the ayatollahs talking of sowing the winds of change across the region and beyond.

With the recent Iranian preoccupation with nuclear power amid the constant US-Israel chorus raising the spectre of “a nuclear armed Iran” threatening the region, the Arabs have been understandably nervous about the Islamic republic. Tehran’s growing clout in Iraq and its support to Lebanon’s Hezbollah, the only force to have successfully humbled and drove Israel out, is another apparent reason for concern.

Nonetheless, I still don’t get why Iran would be so foolish as to target the envoy of a country, which is not just its big, next door neighbour but is also regarded by the world’s Muslims as the home of Islam and its most revered shrines. That too, by assigning the job to the Mexican drug mafia through a washed out junky and failed car salesman!

Come on, you may not care for Ahmadinejad’s grandstanding and his Holocaust theories but give the Iranians some credit. They can’t be that dumb. More important, what would the Islamic republic, or whoever is behind it, gain with this so-called plot? Given the total isolation Tehran already finds itself in, increasingly facing the threat of a US-Israel attack as it does, Iran’s leaders would have to be really stupid and stark, raving mad to attempt something like this.

So what’s the reality of this plot or who’s behind it? I have no idea but we will know the truth sooner or later. What I know for certain though is this: This is a plot that directly helps the enemies of Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Writing in The Guardian, Julian Borger argues that the Washington plot would have triggered another devastating war in the Middle East. I couldn’t agree more with Borger. Indeed, I believe it could have set the whole region on fire. The region has already witnessed so much bloodshed and destruction over the past few decades.

The Middle East has been on the edge over the potential US-Israel strike on Iran and possibly a full-fledged war. Against this backdrop, a plot against Saudi Arabia with finger pointing at Iran would have guaranteed a mutually destructive encounter between the two leading Muslim nations and the world’s biggest oil producers, to be followed by the inevitable US involvement sending the Middle East up in blazes.

This nightmare scenario would, however, have been a dream come true for one country. If Saudi Arabia and Iran went to war, splitting the whole of Muslim world down in the middle, who would benefit the most? Yes, you don’t have to be an Einstein to know the answer. The Arabs and Iranians would tear each other apart without Israel having to fire a single shot.

Our colonial masters have repeatedly and successfully used this formula to see their enemies annihilate each other. We saw it used between Iran and Iraq and then Iraq and Kuwait. And when Saddam Hussein was past his sell-by date, he was squashed like an insect.

It’s hardly a secret the Zionists played a critical role in plotting the destruction of Iraq. The neighbourhood bully, with the blessings of his protectors, isn’t prepared to brook the slightest independence of spirit and tiniest of threat – real or imagined.

No wonder most independent observers, including those in the US, have been sceptical about the Iranian plot. They see the Mossad fingerprints all over it.

Indeed, the old fashioned assassination is a stratagem of Israel’s foreign policy and it has repeatedly used it. It didn’t begin and end with Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and commander Mahmoud Al Mabhouh. Indeed, the Mossad hand is seen even in the mysterious illness and death of Yasser Arafat, the most charismatic Palestinian leader ever.

What makes this an Israeli plot is the fact that the same gang of American Zionists and neocons, who built the case against Iraq with their propaganda blitz and lies about Saddam’s nonexistent WMD arsenal and his ties to 9/11, have stepped up their offensive urging Obama to hit Iran.

And the ‘change we can’ president, desperate for re-election next year, seems to have recruited himself to the cause. The latest round of US sanctions could break Iran’s financial back as they target its central bank. Meanwhile the chorus for military action gathers momentum.

These are clearly perilous times for not just Iran but the whole Islamic world. If potential victims do not huddle together and act, the Zionists could very well succeed in their machinations.

Iran is a sitting duck because of its audacity to confront Israel and the west. But others aren’t safe either. Every Muslim country with a streak of independence or resources is in Israel’s sights – and those of its friends.

Yesterday it was Iraq; today it’s Iran and tomorrow it could be Pakistan – or Saudi Arabia, for that matter. Those who fail to learn from recent history will be condemned to repeat it.

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When it comes to the Iranian assassination plot, where’s the motivation?

Posted by alanmirs on October 22, 2011


ASK THIS | October 21, 2011

A former CIA station chief points out that Iran had little reason to hatch such a crazy plan; while advocates of a more hostile approach to Iran are the big winners from its exposure.

 

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By Haviland Smith
twopond@comcast.net

Iran’s shadowy Quds Force is being accused of having initiated an assassination attempt against the Saudi Arabian ambassador in Washington.  The press, with a few exceptions, appears to have accepted this story on face value, without asking enough questions.

The most important question, when it comes to assessing the likelihood of such a story, is who are the winners and losers?

We are being asked to believe that the Iranians, a people with a long and varied history of nasty but effective intelligence operations, virtually all of which have been in their national interest to carry out, set up what is clearly a sloppy, bush league operation.

But what could conceivably have prompted them to undertake such an operation?  The risks were obvious. Such a Keystone Kops operation, when publicly uncovered —  just as it has been — was bound to redound to the deeply embarrassed disadvantage of the Iranians.

By contrast, there is no plausible advantage to the Iranians in this operation, even if it were to succeed.  And even if they had sought the death of an ambassador, they could have easily killed one in any number of places far better suited, for the Iranians, to that sort of operation.

The Iranians would appear to have had nothing to gain if this plot succeeded, and everything to lose if it failed. Of course, Iranians can’t be totally ruled out since the evidence, while shaky, does point to them. But the press and others would do well to put aside Iranian clumsiness or internal dirty tricks in this mystery, and ask: Who outside Iran benefited from this alleged plot’s exposure?

Who, by contrast, benefited from this alleged plot’s exposure? If the purpose of the exercise was to get the United States to be more bellicose with Iran, which appears already to have happened, then we might look to those American interests, in and outside of Washington, who would like us to be at war with Iran. We might also look at Saudi Arabia and other Arab Gulf states, who deeply fear Iran, with its growing hegemony in the Gulf and its nuclear program.  Or we might look at the Israelis, who have already tried on a number of occasions to stiffen our back against the Iranians either by endorsing their attack on Iran or doing it ourselves.  Or we might look at the FBI itself, looking for a public victory against would-be terrorists.

And who loses? Any and all people, groups and nations that would like to see America and Iran reach some sort of understanding without engaging in hostilities. That includes a lot of folks.

http://niemanwatchdog.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=ask_this.view&askthisid=00534

 
Haviland Smith is a retired CIA Station Chief who served in Eastern and Western Europe and the Middle East, as Chief of the Counterterrorism Staff, and as Executive Assistant in the Director’s office. 
E-mail: twopond@comcast.net
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2 charged in Saudi plot; Iran rejects allegations

Posted by alanmirs on October 21, 2011


A mug shot of Manssor Arbabsiar from a 2001 arrest in Texas. Arbabsiar is charged in a plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States, Oct. 11, 2011.A mug shot of Manssor Arbabsiar from a 2001 arrest in Texas. Arbabsiar is charged in a plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States, Oct. 11, 2011. (CBS News)

 

(AP)

TEHRAN, Iran – Iran’s intelligence chief said Thursday there are holes in the U.S. allegations that Iranian agents plotted to kill the Saudi ambassador to the United States, and dismissed the American claims as a “foolish plot” nobody will believe.

 

Two men, including an alleged member of Iran’s special foreign actions unit known as the Quds Force, have been charged in New York federal court with conspiring to kill the Saudi diplomat, Adel Al-Jubeir. Tehran has strongly denied any link to the alleged plot, and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has accused Washington of using the case to divert attention from its economic woes and the Occupy Wall Street protest movement.

 

On Thursday, Iran’s intelligence minister, Heidar Moslehi, dismissed the American allegations, saying no professional intelligence agency would issue orders to an agent in a foreign country over the phone or transfer money to drug cartels through a New York bank.

 

“When you probe the allegations from an intelligence perspective, you find major contradictions and shortcomings and you can’t believe a government like the U.S. … has ended up in a situation where it designs a foolish plot,” he said on state TV.

 

The Iranian government has denied any connection to Manssor Arbabsiar, the man arrested in the alleged plot, and derided the claims, saying U.S. officials have offered no proof.

 

Iran to gather evidence of U.S. “crimes”
Iran: We may cooperate in assassination probe
Analysis: Iran’s bold assassination plot

 

“Which court of law can accept such absurd claims as evidence?” Moslehi asked.

 

Arbabsiar is a 56-year-old naturalized U.S. citizen who also had an Iranian passport. In May 2011, the criminal complaint says, he approached someone he believed to be a member of the vicious Mexican narco-terror group, Los Zetas, for help with an attack on Al-Jubeir. The man he approached turned out to be an informant for U.S. drug agents, it says.

 

The U.S. government charges that Arbabsiar had been told by his cousin Abdul Reza Shahlai, a high-ranking member of the Quds Force, to recruit a drug trafficker because drug gangs have a reputation for assassinations.

 

Moslehi said Arbabsiar, based on the U.S. judge’s bill, made a telephone call to the alleged Quds force member from an FBI office after his arrest and the Americans’ claim they eavesdropped the conversation.

 

Obama: Iran will “pay a price” for assassination plot
Iran murder plot allegations signal new trouble

 

“What intelligence agency or officer will direct an agent stationed in a rival’s territory by telephone? Or orders an assassination on the phone? Or assigns the restaurant — the venue of the planned assassination — and bargains over the price on the phone?” he asked.

 

Moslehi said even the weakest intelligence agencies in the world wouldn’t hire a man with Arbabsiar background let alone assign him to an operation on U.S. soil.

 

The intelligence minister alleged instead that Arbabsiar, who acquired U.S. citizenship eight months ago, likely agreed to cooperate with American intelligence agencies in return for his residency permit.

 

Moslehi said Iran doesn’t need to resort to such terror plots and that Tehran would not benefit from killing a Saudi diplomat.

 

Moslehi claimed that Iran’s security services have notched successes in an ongoing intelligence battle with the U.S., and said Washington now wants to tarnish Iran’s image by attributing a “clumsy” plot to Tehran.

 

He cited Iran’s success in the arrest last year of Abdulmalik Rigi, leader of the Sunni militant group Jundallah. Jundallah, which has claimed responsibility for bombings that have killed dozens in recent years, was behind an insurgency in Iran’s southeast near the border with Pakistan.

 

Rigi was arrested alive by Iran’s intelligence agents when he was flying over the Persian Gulf en route from Dubai to Kyrgyzstan. He was later tried and executed.

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Beyond Ahmadinejad: the Iranians’ democratic potential

Posted by alanmirs on October 21, 2011


Gradually through the years, European and American foreign policies have managed to construct a Western vision of Iran that associated the country with the so-called “axis of evil” states and al-Qaeda. But the Iranian government actually desired cooperation with the U.S. on terrorism. However, the Bush administration did little to foster dialogue. As a result,  hardliner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was elected President in 2005, ushering in an era of renewed anti-Americanism.

Despite this unsavory situation, the history of Iran and its recent popular outcry still suggest that a diplomatic partnership can be established. Before developments can be made on this front, however, it is essential for the United States to understand that Iran knows what democracy is and that its people are able to convert to one.

For close to a century, the Middle East has been under constant foreign pressure. Iran’s oil resources, in particular, drove both foreign and domestic powers to gain as much authority in the country as possible. Yet, Iran seems to have developed a resource that goes far beyond the economic power of oil—people.

During the 20th century, as authority passed from Britain and Russia into the hands of the Iranian Shah, the Iranian population began to speak out. The Iranian people finally demanded a say in their government, and the government rightfully demanded a say in the allocation of the country’s resources. Since then, however, foreign infiltration, the Cold War, and internal military conflict encouraged the formation of a semi-authoritarian government and anti-Western sentiment. However, the Iranian people continually refuse to be silent—the struggle is not yet over.

Over the past few years, we have seen protests in major European cities by Iranian citizens. The Iranian embassy in London is now famous for being constantly under siege by Iranian immigrants. One year ago, a large rally was organized in the streets of Berlin to show solidarity with the Iranian people.

More importantly, however, after the controversial victory of Ahmadinejad in the 2009 elections, the people of Tehran began to protest. Iranian youth flooded the streets, clashed with the police, and chanted anti-government slogans for several days. Many lost their lives. The reason for the uprising was that the government had once again ignored their voices. Without wanting to mythicize the revolts, it is clear that the new generation is supported by a strong democratic history.

The Western response to Ahmadinejad’s autocratic regime has been sanctions, criticism, and judgment. The political authorities in America and Europe fail to understand the importance of pointing out that Iran’s problems go beyond Ahmadinejad. Iran itself is not evil. Iran has been a victim of past international relations, domestic autocracy, and popular suppression. Iran still has explosive democratic potential and active generational progress which must be recognized.

How do you think Ahmadinejad feels when Bill O’Reilly says on national television that “in a sane world every country would unite against Iran and blow it off the face of the Earth” since “that would be the sane thing to do?” Such a statement does not ultimately harm him. Iran has endless chances to kindle anti-American sentiment in the Middle East. It is because of chances like this that the Iranian population, in particular, the rebelling youth, is isolated. The Western world, which should be the main foreign promoter of democracy and cultural understanding, is now suggesting Iran should be destroyed. No one benefits from this situation. No one except for the Iranian regime.

American and European foreign policies should focus more on the difference between the oppressive regime and the thriving population. The West should emphasize a separation between Iranian authorities and Iranian popular sentiment. To continue with simplistic condemnations and sanctions is not an option. It is clear that there is potential for Iranian democracy to return in the future, and the West has the chance to play a fundamental role in the transformation. Perhaps, one day the Iranian state will represent the population and its rights rather than the current authority. In the meantime, awareness should be raised, and the people of Iran must be peacefully supported and understood.

http://georgetownvoice.com/2011/10/20/beyond-ahmadinejad-the-iranians%E2%80%99-democratic-potential/

 

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The ‘Iran plot’ — Psywar for a new U.S. aggression?

Posted by alanmirs on October 14, 2011


 

Published Oct 13, 2011 8:45 PM

Washington’s slanderous campaign against Iran for an alleged assassination plot lacks evidence and fails every test of logic. Many people have raised questions as to its truth. But there’s an even more important question to ask: Why is the U.S. government desperate to use an unbelievable pretext to begin a campaign of sanctions and possible war against Iran?

Remember that U.S. imperialism has been openly hunting and killing its alleged enemies around the world, breaking international laws to do so. It uses drone airplanes to fire rockets at cars and houses. It kills admittedly innocent people along with those it calls “terrorists.”

These, and not any unproven and illogical charges against Tehran, are the real crimes against international law.

The U.S. government, with or without its NATO allies, has also in the past 13 years unleashed four wars against sovereign countries: Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. Its troops still occupy the first three countries. In each case, for each country, there was a lie. A phony “massacre.” In Iraq, the phantom “weapons of mass destruction.” This is accompanied by coordinated demonization of the leaders. And then the brutal bombing campaign begins, and an invasion.

The Pentagon and/or CIA also carry out drone attacks against targets in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. They kill nationals of those countries and, in a recent case, even a U.S. citizen. All this is supposedly justified by nothing but the government’s own statements based on reports from the same CIA and military intelligence organizations.

The charges of an Iranian-inspired assassination plot against a Saudi diplomat — which Tehran emphatically denies — come from this same U.S. rogue government, which makes military strikes and invasions all over the globe and regularly lies to justify its aggression.

So we repeat: The real question is why is the U.S. government now raising a campaign against Iran? Why is this happening soon after the Iranian government made a conciliatory move by releasing two U.S. citizens supposed to be just hikers?

Does someone in the U.S. establishment want to keep the confrontation with Iran burning? Is it even possible that the U.S. regime is preparing for yet another aggressive war?

For those in the U.S. who struggle against war, as well as those now fighting for jobs in the occupations from Wall Street to the main plazas of U.S. cities large and small, it is important to see these unfounded charges against Iran for what they are: an attempt by a totally discredited U.S. government to find a new scapegoat. There is no reason that an accusation from this government should be accepted as having any resemblance to the truth.

Stay alert. Be ready to struggle against another aggression. And stay in the streets against Wall Street and Washington.

http://www.workers.org/2011/editorials/the_iran_plot_1020/

 

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Hostage taking in Iran: the pawns in a battle against US imperialism

Posted by alanmirs on October 1, 2011


Sarah Shourd, Shane Bauer and Joshua Fattal were the latest innocent victims of a mutual hostility stretching back 30 years

US Hikers Press Conference in New York

Shane Bauer (centre), Josh Fattal (right) and Sarah Shourd embrace in New York after being released from their hostage ordeal in Iran. Photograph: Peter Foley\EPA

Sarah Shourd, Shane Bauer and Joshua Fattal would make no one’s list of prime suspects as agents of US imperialism. The three Americans – detained by Iranian security services in July 2009 on espionage charges, now all released and reunited with their families – have a clear and very real commitment to opposing US foreign policy in the Middle East, asshown by their journalism.

 

Indeed, as Bauer noted in a statement upon his release:“No evidence was ever presented against us [by the Iranian authorities]. That is because there is no evidence.” What then was the reason for the three being effectively taken hostage by the Iranian state? As far as Bauer is concerned, “the only explanation for our prolonged detention is the 32 years of mutual hostility between America and Iran”.

 

It is worth taking this opportunity to examine the origins and nature of the antagonistic US-Iranian relationship to which Bauer refers, so as to better understand how he, Shourd and Fattal seemingly became pawns in a long, ugly and dangerous contest between Washington and Tehran.

 

With the other major powers severely weakened after second world war, the United States found itself well-positioned to assume the role of global hegemon and, to that end, quickly identified the energy reserves of the Middle East as a major strategic and material prize. To keep that prize under de facto US control, it became crucial to prevent regional states from moving off in an independent direction, outside of the Washington-led order.

 

In 1953, the CIA orchestrated a coup d’état against the democratically elected Iranian prime minister Mohammad Mosaddegh, who had sought to nationalise the country’s oil reserves and use the revenues for poverty alleviation and national development. Under the imposed rule of the shah, Iran took its place alongside Turkey and Israel in a set of US-allied local gendarmes situated on the periphery of a core of conservative Arab states.

 

This regional system was dramatically disrupted by the Iranian revolution of 1979, whose tragedy was that it came to produce a government every bit as brutal and contemptuous of the Iranian people’s rights as its predecessor. However, from Washington’s point of view, the real problem was that revolutionary Iran was no longer the right kind of tyranny, seeking as it did to draw its strength not from superpower patronage but from local legitimacy derived from its perceived resistance to imperialism and religious piety.

 

The subsequent US-Iranian rivalry was clearly not an even match. While playing both sides off each other for much of the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war, the US came down firmly on the side of Saddam Hussein during the latter stages of that conflict. In the last 10 years, the US has invaded and occupied two of Iran’s largest neighbours, and made no secret of its wish to see regime change in Tehran. Iran is surrounded by US allies and by countries hosting US bases, while the American navy patrols the Persian Gulf.

 

Plainly Tehran does not have the capacity to apply equivalent threats and pressure, but it has used various asymmetric means to bolster its position, one example being its support for opponents of US allies such as Hezbollah and Hamas, and another being the tactic of hostage-taking, employed to humiliating effect against the US at the start of the revolution, again against Britain in 2007, and most recently in the case of the three hikers.

 

Hostage-taking serves a dual purpose for Iran. First, it demonstrates to Tehran’s foreign enemies that it has a means of striking against them as long as there are western nationals in its near vicinity. Secondly, it carries domestic propaganda value, drawing the population’s attention to the external threats the country faces, presenting the state as defender of the nation against such threats, and smearing internal opposition as the product of foreign subterfuge.

 

Thus the dynamic of US imperialism versus reactionary local forces maintains its self-perpetuating momentum. And caught in the crossfire are countless ordinary people who do not seek power but simply the freedom to live decent lives: the population of Iran, passed from one tyrannical regime to another; the three young Americans who wanted to lend a hand in solidarity to the peoples of the Middle East, and who found themselves enduring the daily torture of solitary confinement; and Laura Fattal, Joshua’s mother, who wrote him 781 letters, one every day he was in captivity, which were kept from him by his guards in an attempt to break his spirit.

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