Reading Ahmadinejad via Wikileaks: A Freedom Lover or a Two-Bit Dictator?

Huffington Post,Posted: 01/31/11 - In a recent article for the Atlantic, Middle East expert Reza Aslan writes that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad may not be the hard-line president outside observers actually thinks he is. Based on unverified WikiLeaks documents and remarks by the president himself, the author concludes that Ahmadinejad is, in fact, in favor of greater social and political freedoms and the “Persianization” of Iranian society, but is isolated among others in Iran’s current ruling establishment:

[Ahmadinejad]… is actually a reformer whose attempts to liberalize, secularize, and even “Persianize” Iran have been repeatedly stymied by the country’s more conservative factions… But if you oppose the Mullahs’ rule, yearn for greater social and political freedoms for the Iranian people, and envision an Iran that draws inspiration from the glories of its Persian past, then, believe it or not, you have more in common with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad than you might have thought.”

Here is why Aslan’s characterization of Ahmadinejad is flawed: Read more

January 31, 2011     Leave a Comment

Reading the Shah, and Ayatollahs in Tehran and What the U.S. Should Learn from the History

abbasmilaniHuffington Post- What has been the root of the U.S’. inability to develop a sustainable policy or strategy on Iran for the last 30 years? What was not learnt from the Shah’s fall in 1979 and the nature of the revolutionaries who hijacked a pro-democracy freedom movement? And what are the parallels between the Shah’s regime and the current Islamic government in Tehran?

These are the types of questions that have been raised in my extensive interview with Dr. Abbas Milani, author of the recent book, The Shah, and the Director of Iranian Studies at Stanford University in California.

While the Iranian government continues to curb social and political freedom in Iran, particularly after the post-presidential unrests which resulted in killing of dozens and arresting thousands of people, the author of a recent book, The Shah, provides a comprehensive image of parallels that contributed to the fall of the Shah and is now being perpetuated by the Islamists in Tehran.

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January 24, 2011     Leave a Comment

A Portrait of Iran’s Shah, in Shades of Grey

SAN FRANCISCO, California, Jan 17, 2011 (IPS) - In “The Shah”, a prominent Iranian author and scholar at Stanford University in the United States offers new insights into Iran’s modern history, including the 1953 coup, the revolution a quarter century later, and the current repressive political situation.

“If you understand why the shah of Iran fell in 1979, we understand why the Iranian government is unstable today and based on that, predict what the future of the country will be,” Abbas Milani told IPS.

Drawing on more than 400 interviews and newly released documents by the U.S. and British embassies, “The Shah” traces the rise and fall of Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, who died less than a year after his ouster. Read more

January 17, 2011     102 Comments

Iranian Royal Family’s Suicide Tragedy

The Daily Beast- The shah of Iran’s son took his life Tuesday, a decade after his sister died from an overdose. Omid Memarian and Roja Heydarpour on the family heartbreak and what it means for Iran. Plus, Stephen Kinzer reports on the death of the prince.

There is nothing worse for a mother than the death of a child, except, perhaps, the death of two children who took their own lives. That is what the former queen of Iran must endure now that her son, Ali-Reza Pahlavi, 44, was found dead in his home in Boston from a gunshot wound he inflicted on himself early Tuesday morning.

It isn’t the first time Farah Pahlavi has had to grieve a child who committed suicide. Just 10 years ago, former Princess Leila Pahlavi, whose young daughter suffered from anorexia and depression, took a lethal cocktail of cocaine and barbiturates, and died in her sleep at 31. Read more

January 5, 2011     62 Comments