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

January 31, 2011 by admin  
Filed under Blog Posts, Huffington Post Pieces

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

Iran’s “Blogfather” Gets 20-Year Prison Sentence

September 28, 2010 by admin  
Filed under Blog Posts, Featured

SAN FRANCISCO, California, Sep 28, 2010 (IPS) — A week after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told heads of state gathered for the U.N. General Assembly in New York that his government does not jail its citizens for expressing their opinions, Iran’s Revolutionary Court sentenced Hossein Derakhshan, an internationally known Iranian-Canadian blogger, to 19 and a half years in prison.

On Monday, the conservative website Mashreq announced the verdict issued by Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Courts.

Arrested in October 2008, Derakhshan had been charged with “cooperation with hostile states” and “propagating against the regime,” among other counts, the site said. In addition to the lengthy prison term, he was fined and banned from membership in political parties and work in the media for a period of five years. Read more

IRAN: Revolutionary Guards Tighten Economic Hold

December 29, 2009 by admin  
Filed under Featured, News Stories

BERKELEY, California, Dec 29 (IPS) - News that Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps is withdrawing a billion dollars from the country’s Foreign Reserve Fund in order to complete Phases 15 and 16 of the gigantic South Pars gas project has generated concern among Iranian analysts, who believe the move reveals the military organisation’s excessive power over Iran’s economy.

In view of looming sanctions from the United States and the United Nations Security Council over Iran’s nuclear programme, the IRGC’s control over the country’s sensitive oil, and gas and nuclear industries could provoke a serious crisis, they warn. Read more

Obama’s Iran Dilemma: Human Rights or Nuclear Negotiations?

December 29, 2009 by admin  
Filed under Huffington Post Pieces

HuffPost- It took more than six months for the White House to “strongly condemn” the excessive use of force against the protesters in Tehran, and God knows how long it will take President Obama to conclude that compromising universal values, including human rights, at the expense of erratic negotiations with the Iranian government. It will not change the behavior of the Iranian government although it will undermine America’s moral authority. Read more

How to Help the Three American “Hikers” Come Home Soon

December 16, 2009 by admin  
Filed under Blog Posts, Featured, Huffington Post Pieces

HuffPo-The Iranian government has announced that they will try the three American citizens who strayed across an unmarked border into Iran in late July. But the question remains how can the U.S. government help free them? And what should the families do to make this perplexing story be over?

Considering similar patterns in the past, it’s almost clear that the three young adventurists are not spies. In fact, if the Iranian authorities had any evidence in this regards, they would have presented it months ago in a public trial to embarrass the U.S. government; something they thrive on.

At this time the families are facing two scenarios. Read more

Iran’s protest movement has entered a new phase

December 16, 2009 by admin  
Filed under Featured, News Stories, Op-Ed Piece

The DailyStar-Last week, six months after Iran’s June 12 presidential elections, thousands of students protested against the government in universities across Iran – a strong signal that Iran’s domestic crisis is far from over, and moreover, entering a new phase.

Six months ago, the major focus of the hundreds of thousands of protesters who marched the streets of Tehran was to show their anger and dissatisfaction with the election results, which many believed were rigged and resulted in not only Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s re-election, but also beliefs that this pre-planned coup was orchestrated with the support of the Revolutionary Guards, the para-military Basij, and the military intelligence.
Read more

Iran’s Leaders Battle Over Khomeini’s Legacy

July 28, 2009 by admin  
Filed under Featured, News Stories, Op-Ed Piece

TIME, By Robert Baer and Omid Memarian- Are the wheels coming off the Iranian regime bus? On July 26, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad fired the country’s Intelligence Minister, Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejeie, a man who customarily reported directly to the Supreme Leader, Ayatullah Ali Khamenei, rather than to the President. The move came a day after Khamenei had forced Ahmadinejad to drop Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie as his candidate for Vice President. But in an act of flagrant defiance of Khamenei, Ahmadinejad appointed Mashaie as his chief of staff. All this suggests that a political brawl is raging within the corridors of power, the likes of which the world has not seen since Ayatullah Ruhollah Khomeini died in 1989.

Read more

A coup Manual: What We should Know About Iran’s Election?

June 16, 2009 by admin  
Filed under Featured, Huffington Post Pieces

HuffPo- The foreign media and western states are confused and puzzled as to how to interpret the Iranian election on June 12th. Over the past few days I’ve been speaking with many journalists in Tehran who normally go there for one or two weeks on assignment. Many of them, initially, believed that Ahmadinejad’s declared re-election was similar in nature to his first term election in 2005. Meaning that he had successfully mobilized his base of poor people and conservatives and that the reformists and Iranian middle class had, once again, lost the election. But recent development tells us that this is not the real story.
So, what are the sources of confusion? What went wrong and why are people angry and un-accepting of the results? Here are some essential questions that one might ask in order to fully understand the issues at hand: Read more

Policemen from Venezuela and Lebanon?

June 14, 2009 by admin  
Filed under Blog Posts

There are lots of rumors about what’s going on in Iran now. I just heard that Ahmadinejad’s government is preparing for the use of guards from Lebanon and Venezuela. It seems that the Iranian police is not going to do whatever they are asked to do. I hope this stays just a rumor. Iran’s police is not a professional one and most of the people we see in the streets as policemen are poor soldiers who spend their mandatory military service. They are just like the other people. Many of them probably do now support the government, and Ahmadinejad in particular.

IRAN: Ahmadinejad Victory Sparks Protests and Claims of Fraud

June 13, 2009 by admin  
Filed under Featured, News Stories

iran_elections_finalSAN FRANCISCO, Jun 13 (IPS) - Just a few months after a right-wing government gained power in Israel, Iran’s hardliner president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was declared the winner in Friday’s election, although his main rival has not accepted defeat and reformist supporters were skirmishing with security forces in the capital Tehran Saturday.

According to Iran’s Interior Ministry, Ahmadinejad took 62.6 percent of the vote, with leading reformist candidate Mir Hossein Moussavi receiving 33.7 percent – thus averting a widely anticipated run-off. The ministry says turnout was a record 85 percent of eligible voters. Read more

Iran on the move

June 11, 2009 by admin  
Filed under Featured, News Stories, Op-Ed Piece

OpenDemocracy.org-Iran has experienced of one of the most exciting presidential elections since the Islamic revolution of 1979. All of the four candidates who appear on the ballot-paper in the first round of voting on 12 June 2009 may be handpicked by Iran’s Guardian Council, and each can be considered either a father or a child of the revolution. But two are reformists who embrace progressive agendas, and whose popular campaigns suggest that millions of Iranians - 70% of whom are under 30 years old - believe that Iran needs reform.

For Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, it wasn’t supposed to be like this. The leader elected in June 2005 expected an easy contest from opposition candidates who could be easily discredited for past failures or outflanked on nationalist rhetoric. Instead, he has been forced to grapple with harsh criticism of his economic policy, foreign policy and human-rights record - and is resorting to extreme denunciation of his rivals as a way of shoring up his core support. Read more

Q&A: Notes From Iran’s Underground Music Scene

June 6, 2009 by admin  
Filed under Featured, Interviews

shl_4504BERKELEY, California, Jun 4 (IPS) - As Iran’s conservative president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad fights for his political future against two reformist challengers in the June elections, Arash Sobhani, a lead figure in the country’s underground music scene, says it’s a very tough time to be an artist in Iran.

“At the beginning of his [Ahmadinejad’s] first term [in 2005] there were still a few notable musicians who thought they should stay and try to work inside Iran and try to make things better little by little, like they had done for the past 26 years, but Ahmadinejad proved them wrong,” Sobhani told IPS.

Sobhani is the lead singer and songwriter of Kiosk, a band that is widely popular among Iranians inside and outside of the country. With its Mark Knopfler musical style and politically sharp and ironic lyrics, Kiosk is considered one of the most influential underground rock bands to emerge since the 1979 Iranian Revolution. Read more

Iran: Saberi is no spy

April 25, 2009 by admin  
Filed under Featured, Op-Ed Piece

saberi-index25Apr09 – The imprisonment of Roxana Saberi for ‘espionage’ is the act of a government obsessed with controlling the media, says Omid Memarian

American-Iranian journalist Roxana Saberi was sentenced to eight years in Iran’s notorious and feared Evin prison last weekend. She had been arrested in January by Iranian authorities. Her family was initially told it was for buying a bottle of wine, illegal under the country’s Islamic laws. It later emerged she did not hold a valid press card, required by law and issued by the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance. The charge was then changed to espionage, of which she was found guilty. Read more

Suzanne Maloney: Both Obama and Clinton want negotiations but not a nuclear Iran

December 22, 2008 by admin  
Filed under Interviews

The United States will not initiate dialogue with the Iranian government, given the possible boost for President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s re-elections next June, according to Suzanne Maloney, former State Department policy advisor and Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution.

During his campaign Barack Obama has insisted on negotiating with Iranian leaders, regardless of its extensive political risk. But considering Iran’s domestic politics, American diplomats prefer to wait and see who will be Iran’s next president.

Many believe that Iran’s worsening economic situation, demonstrated by its high inflation, skyrocketing unemployment and the fall of oil prices, which have prevented Ahmadinejad from fulfilling his promises to the Iranian people, might change the result of the upcoming elections. Read more