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
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
President Obama’s decision to give a speech in Egypt on June 4th, one of the most authoritarian regimes and unpopular governments in the Middle East, was surprising, no doubt. Many thought he would choose Indonesia, the biggest moderate Muslim country. But what should the President say, and do, in Cairo to make the best of his trip?
First of all, President Obama has to show that Egypt is the right choice. Many say it’s not. On May 8, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, called Egypt “the heart of the Arab world”. That’s right. But Arabs constitute approximately 10 percent of the Muslims worldwide. Also, as Olivier Roy, the prominent French scholar of Islam told me, “Muslims belong to different nationalities and have different interests. From Indonesia, as the biggest Muslim country, to Lebanon, Afghanistan, Somalia and Muslims in the United States and Europe, they have different interests and concerns.” Plus, all Arabs are not Muslim. Obama should clarify whether he meant to address the issues of the Arab World, which Egypt is rightly the biggest and certainly the most influential country amongst them, or the Muslim world?
For President Obama, who already has shown his desire to talk to Iranian leaders, there is no foreign policy lesson more helpful than that of Roxana Saberi’s case of arrest and release. It shows how the Iranian government functions and could teach the United States how to speak to hard-liners in Tehran. These lessons are:
1- Everything in Iran is impossible, and at the same time, anything is possible. One day you can be accused of espionage for no apparent reason, go to prison and three months later you could walk free, simple as that. On the contrary, you can go to prison under the same conditions and reason (like the case of Silva Harotonian who has been jailed since June 2008, simply, for working for an American NGO) and stay in prison for years. It all depends on many different factors. Uncertainty rules! Read more
BERKELEY, California, Apr 24 (IPS) - In an Apr. 6 address to the Turkish Parliament on the final day of his European trip, President Barack Obama praised Muslim Americans for “enriching the United States”.
However, according to Dr. Munir Jiwa, director of the Centre for Islamic Studies at the Graduate Theological Union of the University of California, Berkeley, “virulent Islamophobia” persists across the country.
Jiwa, who is also a professor of Islamic Studies, told IPS that among those who did not vote for Obama last November, there are even more anti-Muslims. “They think we have voted in someone who is, as they say, a ‘closet Muslim’, and they think that sometime, he will come out of the closet,” he said. Read more
BERKELEY, California, Apr 20 (IPS) - Since Iranian-American journalist Roxana Saberi was sentenced to eight years in prison last week on the charge of spying for foreign governments, human rights and press freedom groups have become increasingly critical of the political nature of her case and the harsh and unprecedented penalty.
A dual citizen of the U.S. and Iran, Saberi, 31, grew up in Fargo, North Dakota. Five years ago, she moved to Iran and began working as a freelancer for a variety of news agencies, including National Public Radio, BBC and Inter Press Service. Read more
President Obama’s Nowruz message to Iranians might seem as a sign of change in Iran-U.S. relations. Unlike his predecessor, Barack Obama chose a respectful tone, not only to the Iranian people but also to the Iranian leaders, and a less threatening language. In a part of his message he refereed to Saadi, a very prominent and popular Iranian poet of hundreds of years ago, which was received by many Iranians very positively. From the interview I did with Kazem Jalali just last week, you get the sense that Obama’s change of tone is not enough to be taken seriously by the Iranian leaders. They have asked for change in actions. Beyond Iranians conspiracy, I think it makes sense, they helped the United States in Afghanistan and received nothing but a membership to the Axis of Evil Club. Also, the United States has done everything to undermine Iran’s influence in the region, impose sanctions on Tehran’s economy and finally an aggressive attempt to overthrow the regime. On Iran’s side, Ayatollahs have not been friendly to Washington as well. They have intensely have used all their cards to make trouble for Americans in the Middle East. Read more
BERKELEY, California, Feb 26 (IPS) - The appointment of Dennis Ross as a special advisor to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has found a cool reaction in Tehran and some U.S. policy circles.
“The appointment of Ross is an apparent contradiction with [President Barack] Obama’s announced policy to bring change in United States foreign policy,” said Iran’s State Radio on Wednesday, accusing Ross of being in league with Israel. Announcing the long-anticipated appointment, State Department spokesman Robert Wood said that Ross would offer “strategic advice” and perspective on the region, coordinate new policy approaches and take part in “inter-agency activities.” Read more
(Huffingtonpost, Jan 26, 2009)-In his inaugural address on January 20, President Barack Obama said, “to the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward based on mutual interest and mutual respect.” But, without further defining ” mutual respect”, how can the President’s remark be anything but words or a vague and indefinite platitude?
Early last December, The New York Times reported that President Obama wants to make “a major foreign policy speech from an Islamic capital during his first 100 days in office”. These signals to the Muslim world are positive. Yet, Obama faces enormous challenges in imbuing mutual respect into policy shifts, new ways of communicating, and conveying the values of this country’s great people and constitution. Read more
Sen. McCain’s risky decision to run his presidential campaign based on character assassination, spreading fear and hatred and even questioning the patriotism of members of Congress, is the best indication that, come November, the Americans’ decisions will be based more on the candidates’ characters rather than real issues.
For some reason, whether it is because he is losing control over his campaign, has weak stance in the Republican Party or has an obsessive desire to go the While House, McCain’s behavior over the past few months has displayed an alarming inconsistency in his character, which is at odds with his previous alleged values and principles. Read more
It was a meaningful moment this morning for Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to be present in the General Assembly Hall to listen to President W. Bush’s last speech to member states. But, is this a message to the United States? It certainly is. There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that the mood in Tehran and Washington has changed.
It might seem that Ahmadinejad’s third appearance at the United Nations this week seemed to provide the Republican campaign with another chance to attack Obama over his previous promise that, should he become president, he will meet with U.S. adversaries, including the president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. But the fact of the matter is that, regardless of who goes to the White House this January, the U.S. will start negotiations with the Iranian government, whether or not Ahmadinejad is Iran’s new president. Read more