Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Greening of Diplomatic Relations between Iran and Italy

I met with Emma Bonino, the Italian Foreign Minister in Tehran on Saturday.She came to the DOE only minutes affter arriving at Mehrabad Airport . Nineteen journalists and members of the press accompanied her in this important visit to Iran. The first part of our talks focused on bilateral relations and changes that are anticipated to occur after the election of Dr.Rouhani and the new round of 5+1 talks on the nuclear issue. Ms. Bonino stressed upon her government's resolve to enhance relations with Iran despite the pressures from radicals and "nervous people" as she put it. We also spoke about how important this trend is for global peace and security. The adoption of the WAVE Resoution in the UNGA is a significant milestone after the Dialogue Among Civilization Resolution of 2001, I noted. Then, I mentioned the important policies we pursue in Iran to improve the quality of life and how sanctions have impeded that trend and now how bilateral relations could enable Iran to move ahead in this area. Wetland management including Lake Urumieh, Hamoon International Wetland and others, the Dust/Haze phenomena and green technologies were all discussed in the meeting. We decided to finalize an MOU on these matters as soon as possible. I told her the first phase of your visit consisted of the greening of bilateral relations between Iran and Italy, which I hope will benefit both nations as well as the global environment. 
We then took her to visit our Biodiversity Museum in the Pardisan Park . A brief news conference concluded the 1/30 hour visit.  I also gave her my book "Natural Peace", which is a compilation of speeches I had in my first term as Vice President.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Warsaw and Geneva ,two Venues for Global Peace

I attended the COP19 conference on climate change in Warsaw last week. The global community has sensed an urgency in the matter, but little action has been taken to reverse the devastating trend of the warming of the earth's atmosphere and the ensuing extreme weather events , drought, rising sea levels and immense social and economic losses incurred upon societies. In Warsaw, global powers that are responsible for the major part of the green house gases produced during the industrial era were not ready to accept their historical responsibilities and developing countries, many who are still grappling with abject poverty in their societies, were not ready to undergo quotas to reduce their GGHs drastically, when the major part of the industrialized world including the US never acceeded to the Kyoto protocol. The EU initially pushed to impose their version on the rest of the world but they faced a strong group of like minded developing countries who threatened to leave the conference if consensus was not achieved based on common understanding. In the end, a neogiated text was agreed upon in the final moments, to save the negotiation process. During my stay in Warsaw, I was invited to speak about the role of women in promoting global peace at the European Academy of Diplomacy, I also delivered my country speech at the opening of the high level session on the first day. A press conference with Polish journalists, a speech at PISM a Polish peace research institute on the Internal and External Evolution of https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/s/?view=att&th=1429fa1502b42547&attid=0.1&disp=attd&safe=1&zw and a long working dinner with the Polish foreign minister were also on my agenda. Since the sensitive 5+1 negotiations with Iran were underway then in Geneva, they overshadowed our talks in Warsaw. I had the chnace to speak with the President of Poland at his reception and along with the Iranian delegation we had a lengthly meeting Mr.Ban Ki Moon, the UNSG. In that meeting, I told him I tweeted last night : Planet earth pleads us tonight: Give the world a chance for peace in Geneva , give the global environment a chance in Warsaw. He liked the tweet but sarcastically also noted that it was similar to what he had said a few weeks ago : Give diplomacy a chance in Syria! The success of the 5+1 and Iran negotiations in Geneva was a great achievement for peace and multilateralism, as opposed to the violence and conflict prone policies in today's world. This success proves that even the most difficult and apparently insurmountable obstacles can be overcome with patience and dialogue.https://mail-attachment.googleusercontent.com/attachment/u/0/s/?view=att&th=1429fa1502b42547&attid=0.1&disp=attd&safe=1&zw&saduie=AG9B_P-en6RqDALqBdRUe3mK1csg&sadet=1385872288279&sads=TvPHgoxBnrX1FI_wImmXINOyNOQ

Friday, November 8, 2013

Blatter in Tehran With The Cheetah

Sepp Blatter, the head of FIFA visited the Biodiversity Museum at Pardisan Park on Thursday as part of his visit to Iran last week. Football fans in Iran were overwhelmed to hear that Blatter supported Iran's environmental initiative to use the Asiatic Cheetah which is an endangered species in Iran, as the emblem of Iran's team at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. The Cheetah is now extinct in all of Asia except Iran .Based on a conservation project starting during my first term in 2001, NGOs, specialists and international organisations began a conservation project. The project was evaluated as successful in preventing the extinction of the Cheetah in its first phase. I signed the second phase of the project with UNDP last week. We spoke about the need to promote environmental awareness for football fans world wide and when Blatter named the visit a Cheetah Coalition I noted that we could also propose an international mechanism for this important purpose. Blatter welcomed the proposal which I will follow.

Friday, November 1, 2013

A Call for Putin

Dr. Massoumeh Ebtekar called for immediate release of Greenpeace Activists http://www.tehrantimes.com/politics/111863-irans-environmental-chief-urges-russia-to-release-greenpeace-activists- No government in any part of the world should use violence and deprivation as tools against civil organizations and environmental activists who care for the future of the earth (Iran's Environment News Agency) Following the detention of 30 Green Peace activists protesting against Russia's oil drilling in the arctic who were further charged with hooliganism and piracy by a court in Russia, Dr. Massoumeh Ebtekar called for immediate release of these activist. "Given that this act is directly in relation to non-exploitation of new hydrocarbon resources in the arctic and aimed at stopping the global warming, it is indeed an act of compassion and apprehension," said Dr. Massoumeh Ebtekar, head of Department of Environment of Iran and winner of the « Champion of The Earth » title in 2006, in an interview with Iran's Environmental News Agency. "I expect that by realizing this fact, the government of Russia would at once order the release of these activists," added Massoumeh Ebtekar. She noted that: "No government in any part of the world should use violence and deprivation as tools against civil organizations and environmental activists who care for the future of the earth, and as a champion of the earth, I call upon the Russian government to scrutinize every dimension of this case and act to remove the restrictions off these Greenpeace activists.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Peace an Imperative

The Guardian published this op-ed yesterday. I am providing the text as well as links to the newspaper and related news stories here on my blog. Peace is an Imperative
The past half-century has been an era of unprecedented human advancement. Yet it is equally defined as an epoch of numerous wars and conflicts leading to millions of deaths and endless suffering. Peace has been more elusive than ever in certain parts of the world such as the Middle East and Africa. In the Islamic heartland we have seen more than 10 major wars and conflicts devastate the region in three decades. While the origin of each conflict rests in both internal and external elements, there are lessons to be learned by global leaders and actions to be taken so that such wars and carnage cease. Looking forward, these societies, with the support of the international community, need long-term efforts to address their deep wounds, mend their broken fabric, rebuild cities, reinvigorate agricultural areas and revive the shattered natural and human environment. Because of the human devastation that always follows war, environmental damage is often overlooked, and poorly quantified and evaluated. Yet this destruction is long term, destroys natural resources and inflicts major economic and environmental losses, for generations in some cases. In other instances, a deliberate destruction of natural resources and water is aimed at weakening the so-called enemy. Unconventional warfare has also been employed, causing excessive contamination of soil and water, as in the case of the use of mustard gas by Saddam Hussein against Iranian civilians – still suffering 25 years after the fact. The deployment of depleted uranium munitions by coalition forces throughout Iraq will impact that nation literally for centuries. All this underlines the imperative of peace as a prerequisite for the development and growth of all nations. A long history of foreign intervention and occupation, weak governance systems stemming from a lack of transparency and accountability, civil strife and conflicts are all reasons for tensions and war in this region. A complicated history of 19th- and 20th-century western cartographic invention, calculated poverty and frustration has fuelled flames of real hatred. One result is a distorted and violent faction of "takfiris" whose practice today remains in contradiction with the spirit and basic teachings of Islam. Although Islam advocates resistance in the face of aggression and allows the oppressed to defend their collective and individual dignity and human worth, there are also numerous references to compassion, moral standards, ethical values and avoidance of extremism in the Holy Qur'an. I believe that war and extremism are two major threats to sustainable development in today's world. Considering these circumstances, any effort to strengthen ties among nations, to resolve conflicts and to prevent further tensions is an effort to advance humanity. The west's political stalemate with Iran over its nuclear energy programme and the crisis and humanitarian calamity in Syria are two contemporary challenges that require urgent resolution. The use of force and the threat to use force are both contrary to the spirit of the UN charter. The 68th general assembly of the United Nations provided a unique opportunity for the leaders of Iran and the west to engage in constructive dialogue to resolve outstanding issues pertaining to long years of non-communication stemming from an even longer history of US intervention in Iran. These leaders came with a mandate to negotiate and demonstrated their desire to do so with the first presidential telephone conversation between the two sides since 1979. That might appear insignificant, but was of huge global political importance. The foreign ministers had previously sat together face to face and positively changed the atmosphere for dialogue and resolution of conflict in the region. This development on both sides succeeded despite strong pressure from hardliners and those looking backwards instead of forwards within the political context of their respective nations. President Rouhani, who called for change and moderation in Iran, was elected by a competitive democratic voting process in Iran. He now has the overwhelming mandate of the general populace, including the educated elite and critics who were estranged for eight years by the irrational and counterproductive policies of the former president. The new president came to the UN with an unrestricted mandate to settle the nuclear dispute with the west. President Rouhani proposed a global movement he called Wave – World Against Violence and Extremism – in his UN address. He fared well after the strong diplomatic overtures and arguments that the foreign minister, Javad Zarif, put forward on Iran's behalf. When the supreme leader called these efforts "heroic flexibility", it became clear that there is a concerted effort for the resolution of domestic disputes too. President Rouhani's election has created optimism for an internal resolution of political tensions. There has been a gradual release of political prisoners who were detained on the grounds of opposition to the results of the controversial elections of 2009. This demonstrates a unified and genuine effort on behalf of Iran to change the political atmosphere while adhering to the basic precepts and principles of the Islamic republic and the inalienable right of Iran to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes. President Obama also indicated that the US does not seek regime change in Tehran and that the two countries can have a different, more open relationship after the dispute is settled. While the US seems ready to reciprocate, many observers question whether all the elements of the US administration are pulling in the same direction and whether there will be practical confidence-building measures in the near future to consolidate the fruits of this visit. In 1998 when President Khatami came to the UN with the novel approach of "Dialogue among civilisations", he faced an unrelenting storm of internal pressure while the US president branded Iran a member of the "axis of evil", thus neutralising his excellent initiative at both the domestic and global levels. With the passage of 15 years and the loss of millions of lives in global wars, perhaps we have all learned our lesson, and global leaders are more prepared to say no to militarism, terrorism, nuclear arsenals and extremism. As an environmentalist and a political activist who was involved very early on in my life in the tumultuous events of Iran's revolution, I sincerely believe that we need a global alliance today against war and violence. We need to stand up for peace. We need to sign up for protecting our precious natural environment. The past really needs to become the past. Wide open vistas are waiting for humanity to simply open its collective eyes.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Our Time to Engage

On Sunday, In a ceremony to mark the 26th anniversary of the Montreal protocol, the resident UN Coordinator Garry Lewis read a meassage from Achim Steiner, the executive director of UNEP, congratulating my appointment as vice president of Iran. Steiner had also pointed to the UNEP Champion of the Earth award in his letter. I spoke in that ceremony and mentioned the resolve of the government of Dr. Rohani to improve relations with the world and our policy of environmental diplomacy in the DOE as a strategy to enhance our role in the international community and promote regional and international collboration to face the current environmental challenges. I also planted a tree on that day in the name of peace,on the international day of peace and dialogue among civilisations. We also named a street in Pardisan Park on that occasion. A number of prominent political prisoners were freed last week includind dr. Aminzadeh the former deputy minister and Nasrin Sotudeh. Hopes are high for the release of the remaining political prisoners who were detained after or due to the disputed elections of 2009. President Rouhani has written an important note entitled Time to Engage in the Washington Post and former President Khatami has authored an article for the Guardian. In addition, President Rouhani is in New York for the UNGA session and there is much speculation that direct negotiations between the US and Iran will ease tensions in the region and help to resolve the current nuclear standoff. I hope President Obama understands the unique opportunity created by the democratic elections leading to a wave of change in Iran. Iran is looking forward to a new era of constructive dialogue and engagement with the world. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/sep/23/iran-west-not-turn-back-diplomacy

Saturday, September 14, 2013

To Serve for the Environment

Sometimes destiny plays its game, sometimes you feel there is a reason behind God's will, a reason that you do not know or understand. The Iranian society faced very difficult times during the ninth and tenth governments. Radical and unexperienced groups infiltrated the executive branches and dealt severe blows to the economy, environment and culture. Students, journalists and activists faced harsh repercussions for resisting the deviations of those in power. We experienced set backs in many areas including international relations. Very few believed that a transformation could occur to change these trends, but  Presidential elections posed an opportunity which the people took for granted and changed the negative course of events. The composition of the new cabinet and the new Foreign Minister Dr. Zarif are all signs of a new era for Iran in both domestic and international affairs.

I was appointed as Vice President and Head of the Department of Environment by Dr. Rouhani on Tuesday. The difficult and deteriorating conditions of Iran's environment is manifest and this underlines the challenges that I will face. I believe that God has vowed to support His servants, if they stay steadfast in the path of righteousness and make effort to serve his creation . I hope and pray that I would be able to accomplish what I have undertaken, I pray that God assist me to withstand the pressures and difficulties to tolerate and listen to the expectations of the people and civil society.
 I hope that we can create synergisms and partnerships between industries, private sectors and all those in the economic arena to save Iran's precious biodiversity and nature. As a UNEP Champion of the Earth , I look forward to collaboration with academics and scientists from across the globe. Environmental issues are global in nature and I call upon all international organisations, international NGO' s and environmentalists to join our campaign to save our precious natural heritage.  I believe that environmental diplomacy can help to foster peace and better relations among nations in today's world. 
I began work a few hours after appointment , at 8 am in the DOE to indicate my resolve to work hard to change things. On my second day, I visited Lake Urumia National Park which is now under serious water stress and parts have dried up. Urumia is the largest lake in Iran. The DOE has completed many research projects in partnership with international consultants, but now is the time to act.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Reformist Council Leader in Charge

I have served as councillor for Tehran City Council for 6 years 4 months and 2 days. The third round of Councils in Iran was exceptional in many respects. First, was the duration of this term which was extended after the disputed presidential elections of 2009. After that year, the reformists faced excessive pressures and as the few remaining active elements in the power construct, we had to make all efforts to reverse the negative trends and to speak out on behalf of the people. The diverse political factions in the council and the meaningful collaboration among them despite pressures against reformists, was also unique in many respects.
In addition, along with a capable and experienced  team of  experts, we established and conducted up to 1000 sessions, meetings ,working groups and visits in the Environment Committee. We endeavoured to promote a model of sustainable and democratic governance in the city . We enacted more than 40 bills for the council on environmental issues and amended more than 50 others to reflect environmental concerns. The committee also visited the 22 districts and environment related activities in Tehran each at least 3 times. 

We conducted the large meetings on the basis of a dynamic model of intersectoral and integrated urban management. Municipal authorities, government officials, NGOs ,professionals as well as private sector representatives were invited in each field of expertise to debate the terms of a new bill ,to seek intersectoral approaches or to oversee and regulate the functions of the executive agents. Once a year we also invited council members from across the country to exchange views and experiences and so they could also follow our model in their respective cities.

In the open sessions of the City Council,  I was one of those who criticised and spoke up against the shortcomings of the government and municipal authorities. Even though I was disqualified to run for the next round , I joined the reformist election campaigns for reformist council candidates as well as support for President Rouhani. Following the open invitation of former President Khatami and president Rafsanjani, people came to the polls and elected reformists candidates. In Tehran,we now have at least 16 reformists out of 31. Yesterday, in the first day of the new council members elected Ahmad Masjed Jamei as the new Head . Masjed Jamei was Minister of Culture during President Khatami . I have written about him and made several interviews about him in todays newspapers and sites. This is a great transformation.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

No To War on Syria

I was just watching France 24 broadcasting a report on the massive internet campaign in Facebook, Twitter and other social networks against an attack on Syria. Many have compared the logic to go to war on the  pretext of  deployment of chemical weapons by the Syrian government,  with the reasons provided by George W. Bush in his aggression against Iraq a decade ago. The terrible massacre of civilians by the use of Sarin is  another tragedy for the suffering Syrian people.
This wave of awakening and protest is also seen on the streets in certain American and European  cities as well, where demonstrations have taken place against the war today. Reports indicate that this trend will continue throughout the week.
The British House of Commons has been the game changer in this trend. Their vote not to sanction war against  Syria has left the US in a difficult predicament.Considering the difficult task given to the UN Inspector group in identifying the source of the Sarin nerve gas  employed against the people of Damascus, we have to hope that they do not report  under pressure or biased information. Their job is both difficult and very precise. We have to pray that this group led by a neruo-physiologist, places their conscience before any other consideration.  Rebel groups had reported more than a  month ago, that they had confiscated a military chemical weapons  storage in Syria.Therefore, it is also possible that they have used weapons which are very similar to those of the government against the people.
I hope that influential political figures on both sides would relinquish hostilities and violence and begin an intensive process of national reconciliation. 
These are very sensitive times.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

CIA confirms role in 1953 coup d'etat in Iran

 Now that the evidence published by the  National Security Archives provides new details on the 1953 Coup d'etat which led to the overthrow of Dr. Mohammad Mosaddeq ( the nationalist Prime minster of Iran who nationalized oil), the Iranian Parlaiment has taken action. They have adopted a bill to evaluate and take international legal action against the US and British governments for their interference in internal affairs of Iran.
This evidence includes  declassified CIA documents on the United States' role in the controversial  AJAX operation. American and British involvement in Dr. Mosaddeq's ouster has long been public knowledge, but this evidence includes what is believed to be the CIA's first formal acknowledgement that the agency helped to plan and execute the coup.The 1953 coup remains an issue of global interest because US Iran relations are still very bitter and this tension has overshadowed international equations in the past decades. This event paved way for 25 years of tyranny and cruel dictatorial rule in Iran. Students who led the takeover of the American embassy in Tehran in 1979  mentioned the 1953 CIA led Coup as one of the preoccupations that led them to take this drastic action to prevent a "repetition of history".
The issue is more political than academic. Politicians  and observers on all sides,  regularly invoke the coup to show that super powers are primarily responsible for the country's historical trajectory. This regularly  brings up the question whether the United States can be trusted to respect Iran's sovereignty, or whether the US needs to apologize for its prior interference before  relations can improve.

While the three histories presented  and the narrations are very important in terms of Iranian history and much needs to be done to dissect and analyze the information, it still remains to be known in practice how much of the share of the plot and the ensuing tragedy is to be attributed to Iranian forces and how much attributed to foreign interference. 
21  CIA documents have now been posted (in addition to 14 previously unpublished British documents), which reinforce the conclusion that the United States,  (the CIA in particular) and the British government, devoted extensive resources and high-level policy attention toward bringing about Mosaddeq's overthrow, and bringing a cruel dictator back to power for 25 years.

These documents also show that both governments were for a long time, concerned that the disclosure  of these realities would tarnish their prestige as leaders of the free world and supporters of democracy and as governments that championed human rights in the world.

Now that the US is preparing its 48th or so intervention in a sovereign country under vague pretexts, it becomes incumbent upon American citizens to awaken  up to the painful realities of their government's imperialistic  foreign policy.  Syria is now a new test ground , a test ground for new modern American artillery on the one hand and a test ground for the living consciences of global citizens witnessing a new military aggression in the Middle East on the other.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Political Prisoners' Letter for Dialogue and Peace

In a letter to Barack Obama, 55 Iranian political prisoners mostly related to the reformists and those detained after the disputed elections of 2009, have asked the US administration to  reconsider its position on the crippling sanctions against the Iranian nation. The Guardian published a letter in which several political prisoners have urged Obama to take the opportunity created by the election of   Hassan Rouhani  as Iran's new and moderate president, to seek detente between the two countries.
The letter says:" In our view, the tenure of this government may be the last chance to bring this conflict to a reasonable and mutually acceptable resolution. It is clear that there are parties and actors in both camps who do not wish the conflict to come to a peaceful end and prefer to see it drag on longer."

The letter is an important milestone in the US - Iran relations since it indicates that political prisoners in Iran are also seriously critical of US policies against the nation.

"The practical outcome of the intensification of sanctions and failure in achieving a mutually acceptable solution to the conflict between Iran and the United States will be further polarization and deepening of animosities. This will further undermine regional and international security." , the letter goes on to say.

The authors believe that the measures taken by Congress are leading the conditions towards and embargo and real war against Iran.  In this case the Iranian nation will stand united:" In such a war, supporters of the cause of democracy in Iran, people like us, who have paid the price of our belief in civil and political rights and liberties with the suffering our families have had to endure and the years of our lives spent in prison, will defend the independence and territorial integrity of Iran."
The letter calls for a dignified solution to the nuclear issue :" Mr. President! We believe it is time to replace sanctions with an effort to achieve a mutually acceptable resolution of the nuclear issue. To achieve such an end and given the chronic nature of the deep-rooted conflict, all sides concerned should strive for a dignified solution in which no party will be considered the loser."
 The letter finally urges the US President to take measures for trust building among the two countries:
" We, therefore, urge your administration and the new government in Iran to employ all possible means to build trust and ensure the success of diplomacy."

This letter, if properly read and understood by the people in Capitol Hill and other branches of the US administration will help them to open their eyes to  the realities about Iran and to put aside fantasies and inaccurate assessments about the social and political trends in Iran.

I hope both Presidents display the courage and integrity to resolve this important global conflict and to achieve a sustainable  resolution which would be acceptable for both sides and would lead to more security and peace in the world.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Humans of Iran and US

There were two events last week which indicated how important  public diplomacy can be when dealing with relationships between countries. After visiting Iran, a New York based photographer, Brandon Staton has posted pictures about people in Iran on his blog  http://www.humansofnewyork.com/ .  His posts have been well received by both Iranians and Americans.
This is how he begins his part on Iran:
"The US Government has a lengthy travel warning for Iran. While not advising you to ignore this warning, I do advise that you balance it with direct accounts of Americans who have recently visited the country. These accounts are generally filled with superlatives— the country is beautiful, the history is rich, and the people are eager to demonstrate their almost-sacred commitment to hospitality. "
The captions under the pictures are both meaningful and inspiring:
 "Curves are everywhere in Eastern culture: our writing, our architecture, our instruments, the way we dance, even the tone of our language is curved. The West was built on angles. The East was built on curves."

More interesting are the the  readers’ comments which  are eye opening. Many express the fact that they did not believe they could find such scenes in Iran , many have said that they enjoy seeing the pictures of Iranians. Some said that the human connection in these pictures have helped them see a different image from that portrayed by the mainstream media in the US. While the US administration is preparing the public opinion for a confrontational approach, people are attempting to open new vistas for friendship and cooperation for peace.

 In a more heartwarming but ultimately tragic story, many in Iran and in the mountain-climbing community worldwide were transfixed by the story of three Iranian mountaineers, Aydin Bozorgi, Pouya Keyvan and Mojtaba Jarahi who went missing after completing a daring new ascent of Pakistan’s daunting Broad Peak (8047m). The team had fixed the Iranian flag at the summit to open a new path in the name of Iran but while descending they had lost contact and went missing. In spite of the rescue attempts the missing mountaineers were never found. This created a huge social media campaign in Iran.  The most interesting point in this tragic story was that an American climber named Scott Powrie, who hiked alongside the Iranian climbers, memorialized their generosity and Iranian hospitality in a moving personal blog post:
http://highaltitudescott.blogspot.com/2013/07/bittersweet-homecoming.html   .
“Base camp life with the guys was wonderful.  I learned how to say "pass that food" and "thank you" in Farsi and the guys learned all the slang I could teach them from my California accent. They had brought many goods from Iran, Cheese, meats, pickled vegetables, yogurt, dried fruit and nuts.  This was their own food to sustain them for the entire expedition and they did not need to share.  But they were very giving and wanted us to feel welcome and try their local cuisine, offering all of what they had for us to try.”

Scott goes on to say:”In this world I have been lucky enough to live in many different places and meet many different people.  Some good, some bad and in some rare cases you meet some who evoke a powerful feeling of good inside you, almost like a white light of happiness.  These people are very rare and are the ones that make this world a better place to live in for all of us.  There are so few of these special people on this earth that if you lose even a few there are tremendous negative effects for the rest of us.  Aidin, Pouyu, and Mojtaba are of these few, rare people.  The world will miss these young souls; I will miss these young souls. They were my friends and I am sad to see them go. My heart goes out to the families and friends of these individuals. The entire Iranian team was a great show of talent and character, an amazing reflection of their country from which they came.”
As reports of the unsuccessful rescue attempts were verified, news agencies reported that sanctions restrictions had impeded the flow of information on the location of the mountaineers using Thuraya cellphones . These sanctions are taking many lives, among the ordinary people particularly those in need of special medications, members of Congress and the US administration  better realize that they are complicit in the suffering of Iranians as well as Iraqi’s , Afghans, Syrians and Palestinians.

These events preceeded news in the mainstream media that the American Congress adopted a new set of crippling sanctions against the Iranian nation only a few days before the inauguration of the  moderate President Dr. Rouhani. This unfriendly message was unfortunate since  the Iranian nation had delivered a clear message by electing Rouhani and they expected to hear a rational response to this decision, but it seems that this clear signal has fallen on deaf ears and that radical elements on both sides wish to aggravate the situation. There is no question that the powerful Zionist lobby in the congress and senate are pushing for a confrontational approach against Iran. Their existence depends on escalation of conflict between the US and Iran.

Civil society groups , Iranians residing in the US and political activists should all engage in a serious effort to bring to light the aspirations of the people to connect and mend ties in a spirit of just and balanced relations. Now that the Iranians have made their selection, it is upon the American society to take action to prevent the neocon and Zionist Christian lobby from taking affairs in their hands. Confrontation benefits the military industry in the US for they can sell more arms to fearful Arab neighbors who are being fed with the fake phobia of a “nuclear Iran”. Peace benefits nations who are weary of interventionist policies in the region and seek security and  calm for their children and families who now have been suffering from the calamities of war, conflict and sanctions for several years.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Muslim Mothers for Peace


“The bombing culminated a violent two days in Iraq that left around 60 people dead.There appears to be no let up in the violence between Shi'ites and minority Sunnis, which the United Nations says has killed more than 2,500 people since April.
 Iraqi Sunnis complain that the Shi'ite-led government ignores their needs and is marginalizing them politically. The Associated Press reports Sunni and Shi'ite clerics delivered a joint Ramadan sermon Friday in Baghdad, calling for an end to the violence and a united Iraq.”
The above is an example of news reports we hear every day, about dark events happening in our world.
 In recent years we have witnessed a constant rise in sectarian violence among various groups particularly among   Shia and Sunni  factions. This violence has disrupted the social balance and the chain of normal life in many societies. In addition to Pakistan and India where we were accustomed to hearing news of bombings on religious occasions, now the sectarian divide has spread to Iraq, Syrian , Lebanon and even Egypt. Afghanistan also faces recurrent waves of violence both sectarian and anti occupation in nature.
Eventhough, there are certain differences in historical narratives and interpretations among  Shia and Sunni sects, but the majority of the basic precepts are common among the two schools. The Scripture, ie the Holy Quran is completely identical for all Muslims as are the pillars of the Religion.  Muhammad SA is the Prophet of all Muslims , the  ethicals standards and religious rituals are very similar. The basic differences are in the historical interpretations and the course of history after the demise of the Prophet. The trend of events after the Prophet led many believers to question the  justification of leaders particularly the  misdemeanors   of rulers who after  Ali Ibn Abitaleb took the affairs in their hands violating the basic teachings of the Prophet and  oppressing people by tyrannical  control over their resources and lives.
The history of colonial rule in Islamic societies indicates that occupying and colonial forces have exploited   the few differences among  Islamic  schools of thought to strengthen  their rule and control over the  wealth and resources of  Muslim nations. Now, after what has been inflicted upon Muslim societies in the region the sectarian divide has become deadly and more violent.
I had and interview with an international news agency  Shafaghna.com and I proposed a campaign of Muslim Mothers  for Peace. The proposal has been welcomed by many media and social activists. We hope to launch the campaign in close collaboration with Sunni and Shia sisters and brothers worldwide.
The main objectives are awareness raising, advocacy and promotion of understanding among the Shia and Sunni  schools and a strong denunciation  of violence and terror .

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Winds of Change in Ramazan

We need to change the current trend of affairs in today's world. The world is suffering from an acute case of mismanagement. global powers intervene in the affairs of nations only to secure their interests. It seems that nothing is in its place.The ongoing escalation of violence in many parts of the world, the widening gap between rich and poor nations, the scourge for more wealth and prosperity among the rich and insecurity, poverty and hatred among the miserable masses has taken the world to the verge of unsustainability . The world has not become a better place for people after the world powers intervened in Afghanistan, in Iraq, in Palestine,  in Libya, in Syria. Now, Snowden tells us that the details of our lives are all under the scrutiny of the US intelligence apparatus, the so called  leading country  of freedom and human rights in the world is now accused of controlling everything to maintain its supremacy and control over the wealth, resources and peoples of the world. What can we do as humans who aspire for justice and peace. 
 In  2004, as the Vice President of Iran  and during the Khatami Administration , I was invited to deliver a speech at the University of Seoul. The conference hall was jammed with students and academics who were curious to hear from a woman Vice President from Iran.

In that session I spoke about the common aspirations of human societies , about the fact that many global challenges including environmental degradation and the widening gap between rich and poor nations are rooted in the distorted lifestyles that we humans pursue. We need to improve ourselves individually and collectively in terms of  consumption patterns,  destruction of the natural environment, violence, war and abrogation of human rights.Today we come to the conclusion at the international level that we need to change lifestyles and attitudes in order to correct the current unsustainable trends. I mentioned the need for an inner journey to correct the attitudes and behavior that has become so detrimental. The Four Journeys of Mulla Sadra could be taken as a model , where four stages of cognition and spiritual upliftment were included, I noted. I was fascinated to hear the very intelligent questions and the level of understanding that Korean students displayed to concepts which came from a very distant country and culture but which touched common human values and aspirations. 
The inner journey we all aspire for may begin with the month of Ramadan. Ramadan is a chance to change the monotonous routine of our self-centered and egoistic lives . It is a chance to see beyond the material limits of the self and by closing doors on material senses and desires, to open a door to the mystical realm of the spirit. Ramadan is the month when Muslims refrain from eating and abstain from desires. One should endeavor to refrain from lying and all other sins during this holy month. Ramadan is a time for the inner journey for perfection.  Ramadan has benefits for both the mind and the body as well as the spirit. Eating, sleeping and work behaviors are all altered during this month paving way for a new lifestyle during the whole year ahead.
Ramadan tells us that in order to change the world people need to change their lifestyles, their attitudes, their desires and behavior needs to change before they can change their society and change the current trend of affairs in today's world. 

Saturday, July 6, 2013

New Pressures Against Iran

Fair and peaceful elections in Iran led to the election of Hassan Rouhani as the eighth president of Iran. Hassan Rouhani who called for moderation and alleviation of the pressures on political activists and press enjoyed the overwhelming support of the reformists and moderate centrist groups. The victory of Rouhani who also called for a more balanced and rational approach in dealing with the Western powers, has been considered as a major political development for Iran. Iranians made the best of the circumstances they faced. Indicating that the nation had used its democratic rights to change the current power construct and radical political orientation, these elections consolidated the country's position in future negotiations and diplomatic ventures.
Many analysts and even ordinary people on the street  presumed that this change of course in political trends would enable the West and the Obama administration to take a more sensible direction on Iran.    They believed that these elections would deliver a signal of abiding to democratic values, dialogue and understanding to the world and  lessen the pressure of the sanctions against the people. Realizing that the people are now genuinely behind their President -elect,  it was speculated that the Western powers would get the message and change their strategy on Iran to reach a viable solution that would reasonably satisfy both sides of the equation.
The recent sanctions imposed by the American Congress however indicated otherwise.  The House Foreign Affairs Committee has also produced a letter which indicates how biased and wrong they are about internal and foreign politics in Iran. I would propose that Congress members who have signed this letter should engage in an independent briefing with Iranian politicians living in the US, about the dynamics of internal politics in  Iran.
The election of Rouhani provides an opportunity for all. This window of opportunity can prevent further tensions and instability in the region and in the world. As before,  it seems that the American administration is giving the message that it is  not capable of translating Persian / Farsi texts and speeches or it may be that they are incapable of understanding the shrewd and intricate nature of the Iranian politics? The rest of the world and Europe better understand that the US has lost its credibility and objective approach on this matter. The EU needs to reassess the current course taken on Iran with due consideration of the recent political developments and change of direction in Iran.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Civil Society Prevents the Destruction of A Valuable Garden

Experts believe the natural pristine forests of Iran, belonging to the Hircanian age, probably date back to between 2-3 million years ago. These natural forests are a natural reservoir of diverse flora and fauna and exceptional beauty. They comprise up to 4% of the country's area and are under constant pressure from legal and illegal logging, urbanization and industrialization projects. Situated at the north of Iran andsouthern border of the Caspian sea, these forests are a natural touristic attraction for millions of people who visit the north every year.
Since two years ago, State officials announced plans to construct a highway passing between the Nowshahr Botanical Gardens in Mazandaran. This botanic reservoir which dates more than 5 decades ago is a  unique collection of living plants many of which are at the verge of extinction. Many of these plants are also ornamental as well. In addition to research and education, the Garden is a touristic attraction as well. At that time many NGOs and environmental activists opposed the action and certain members of the Garden administration filed a legal claim against the local authorities. This led to a judicial verdict and the plans were temporarily cancelled.
Last week a new directive was issued to begin the destruction of the Garden on Wednesday. NGOs and civil society activists began a campaign to protest against the action and to prevent the government from executing its directive. They also signed a petition asking Dr. Rouhani the President elect to take action to prevent the destruction of this valuable biodiversity reservoir.
NGOs arrived on the site on Wednesday to see that the directive has been temporarily annulled and construction activity cancelled.

Recent Presidential elections resulted in the victory of the moderate candidate who called for change. This event indicates that the winds of change are on the way and there is much reason for optimism.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Sectarian Divide and The Savior

The Muslim world is now more than ever threatened by sectarian strife  and discord. The Shia –Sunni divide has been orchestrated by radical and deviant groups to fuel terrorism and violence in Islamic societies. The recurring tragedy of sectarian violence has torn apart the social and economic fabric of societies in Pakistan, India, Afghanistan, Iraq , Bahrain and Syria. Messages inciting hatred and revenge are now heard even in social networks which were intended to promote understanding and dialogue .
Certain Sunni religious figures have sometimes given violent and radical   fatwas against Shias and Shia groups have sometimes resorted to insults against the Sunnis.
In the late 70s Imam Khomeini considered the sectarian divide as a major threat to the Muslim Ummat, for this reason he designated the week between  birthday of the Prophet which is the 12th of Rabie according to Sunni tradition and the 17th of Rabie according to Shia tradition as the Week of Unity . Now for years many festivities and  societies like the Dar Al Taghrib  have been established and civil groups are active to promote unity but it seems that this approach does not suffice any longer. It is very evident today among the effective tactics that espionage teams and CIA or MI6 groups follow that creating discord and enmity is a method for weakening the Muslim Ummah.
The birthday of the Savior, which is a common theme not only among Muslim sects( eventhough there are varying interpretations) but among many Abrahamic religions, is a unique opportunity to promote dialogue and discourse among Shia and Sunni groups and to invite them to prevent radical groups from taking the upper hand in their societies.

According to tradition and Hadith , Mahdi will bring a message of peace, unity and justice for all human beings of earth, he will eradicate oppression , poverty and the suffering of the people. His message is one of love and understanding for all humankind.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Rouhani and A New Era of Moderation and Reform

The Coalition of Moderates and Reformists for Change has resulted in the victory of Dr.Hassan Rouhani. His victory was a surprise since many predicted that elections would be taken to the second round and things would become very difficult, but when Khatami and Hashemi backed Rouhani and when the people moved into the election scene things changed quickly.
Tehran was the scene of spontaneous joy and celebration last night. Thousands came into the streets in many cities in Iran to celebrate the victory of the Reformists and the departure of Ahmadinejad. Among the slogans they chanted was the freedom of political prisoners and Mousavi and Karroubi.
The jubilation and political expectations together are another indication that the people are well aware of the implications of this important political development.
For years Reformists were under pressure, they were imprisoned or questioned for their criticism and opposition to government policies. For years the political monopoly of Principalists in power claimed that Reformists were ousted from the social and political scene in Iran. They spoke about the end of reformism and the Green movement but last night Tehran and many large cities in Iran spoke in other terms. Seventy two percent of those eligible to vote had come to the polls and 50.7 percent had voted for Rouhani . As a major display of democracy and change in Iran, expectations are that foreign relations will improve and the unjustified sanctions against the Iranian nation will subside. Considering the strength that Rouhani has in foreign policy this is a reason for hope today. I hope western powers and American politicians would carefully evaluate current developments and find a way to change their one-sided approach on Iran.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Presidential Elections Ahead/ Prudent Coalition

Now that I have been disqualified on political pretexts, to run for Council elections in Tehran, I have been  spending more time on the concurrent presidential elections. Former President Khatami has now, for the past 7 months, convened a Council of Advisers to decide on a road map for the future. A strong and unified presence for the nationwide council elections and a wise decision on presidential elections has been pursued by this group and other remaining Reformist political groups.

Although many well known Reformist figures were disqualified for council elections in major cities like Tehran, yet Reformists have managed to produce an alliance among their groups and give a 31 person list for Tehran as well as many other cities. This is the result of months of tireless efforts of many political activists who have payed the heavy price of Reformist activism in Iran.

After weeks of campaigning Dr.Aref was asked to resign from his candidacy to open way for a coalition of moderate and reformist groups on Dr.Hassan Rouhani . His  justified resignation created new waves of hope for prudent  political activism. Now, we have only one remaining day for election campaigning.
Restrictions on Reformist activities continue, yet we will proceed to the final stage.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Persian Opera :The Rain Bird

The Vahdat Opera House is one of the most beautiful and fully equipped in Tehran. We were invited to see the " Rain Bird" or Morque Baran a creation of Pari Saberi a reknown theater writer and director. In one of her interviews she had indicated that her dreams of having a Persian Opera were realized with this work. The "Rain Bird " is based on the legendary story of Jamshid and Zahak. Jamshid is the King of Persia who gets caught in his pride and claims absolute authority and the devil comes to his help through Zahak to oppress the people and to silence any opposition. In face of his tyranny Kaveh the son of a goldsmith and Feriedoon come to fight against the oppression and ultimately they imprison the cruel Zahak. In addition to beautiful traditional costumes and great Persian music performance by the Kamkar Group, the play was laden with beautiful verses of poetry from Hafiz and Ferdowsi as well as contemporary poets like Sohrab Sepehri and Houshang Ebtehaj.

 Iranian arts, music , theater and poetry were all present in one work. The political message of this legendary epic is one of freedom from oppression and tyranny of the rulers and foreign domination; as the aggression of Alexander remains as a historical reminder of the interests that colonial powers pursued in Iran. The performance was excellent and there was a 10 minute standing ovation at the end indicative of the general approval of the audience.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Elections, Suspense and Prayers

Following the disqualification of hundreds of Reformist candidates for the nationwide council elections last month, now the disqualification of Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani has astonished political activists on both sides of the political arena. The reality is that the Ayatollah’s candidacy had created waves of hope among both reformists and principalists and among the public in general. Initial polls and predictions indicated that Hashemi would gain more than 57% of the votes in the first stage of the election. The fact that he was disqualified due to old age was the only pretext given for this political act of the Council of Guardians. Many Iranian personalities have objected to this decision and have requested a revision of this decree. Reformists have not decided on the strategy they will pursue in the elections. Council candidates like myself who have filed their objections will receive a notice today on whether they have been qualified or not. Then they can begin the campaign. These three days of Rajab are reserved for prayer and occlusion ceremony termed “Etekaf”, recitation of the holy Quran and prayers are recommended. News of additional sanctions and a new pro Israel bill from the US Senate are indicative of a revived attempt to break the resilience of the Iranian nation. We pray for the well- being and brighter future for humanity.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Countdown to elections in Iran

Countdown to elections in Iran has begun .I have signed up for Tehran City Council elections which will be held next month simultaneously with nationwide presidential elections in Iran. The next council in Tehran will have 31 members according to an amended law. According to official reports approximately 3000 people have signed up in Tehran to compete for 31 seats.
Candidates for presidency have also been signing up since yesterday. Reformists are hopeful that either Khatami or Hashemi Rafsanjani will announce their candidacy and sign up until Saturday. National polls indicated that Khatami still holds the highest rank in terms of popularity for presidential elections. Thousands of political activists have invited Khatami to stand as candidate during the past month. Khatami has indicated that current pressures, constraints on activist and ongoing threats have created an unfavorable atmosphere for his participation.
Rumours and certain reports indicate that Reformists may face challenges in the vetting process even for the city council elections which are considered to be more relaxed and open than other elections in Iran. Even if they are disqualified in the first stage they face the opportunity to appeal and obtain final approval through Parliament oversight procedures .
Internet connections have not been working well recently and observers believe this is related to the upcoming elections in June.
By mid next week the political orientations of presidential hopefuls and Reformists candidates will be elucidated and results of the vetting process will be announced.
Elections are an opportunity for public participation in decision making processes of the country.  I hope the trend of developments will lead to an improvement in social and economic indicators of our society.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Khatami, The Ethical Politician

Presidential elections will be held along with nationwide council elections in mid June.  General economic and social conditions have prompted the Reformists who are still under pressure and restrictions after the disputed elections in 2009, to engage in a broad discourse on their political role in the future. Former President Khatami held consultative sessions for the past months and began a controversial debate on how reformists should face the upcoming electoral process. Diverse social and political orientations who feel close to the reformist camp took part and presented their assessments on the current status of affairs and on the options available for Reformists. A comprehensive study on the economic and social trends in Iranian society indicates that the targets and goals set in the 20- year Vision of the Islamic Republic and the development plans have not been achieved and that  lawlessness and incompetence have plagued government processes and programs during these recent  years. Following long hours of reporting and discussions, Reformists came to the  consensus that as believers in  reform they do not support regime change and nor can  they accept the expenses of another revolution, nor do they believe in violent methods, and even more they believe that any change must come as the result of an internal effort based on the diverse political orientations of the Iranian society. The terrible fate of Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Libya and other regional countries cannot be applied to Iran. Therefore, social and political reforms within the existing frameworks need to be promoted and the electoral process with all the current shortcomings and restrictions is one of the most important means of achieving those objectives.  Although consensus on council elections was readily attained, but in the next phase all groups and representations came to the conclusion that we need to take part in both council and presidential elections. Concerns on the fairness of the election process also were debated.  Planning for the council elections has since been underway.
The ensuing debates on the possible scenarios and candidates  for the office of the President was more complicated and difficult. Reformists were banned from convening their national convention on this matter. All political parties were consulted and considering the ongoing restrictions and pressures, their views were incorporated in the reports and synthesis.  Reports on polls conducted by government offices also indicated that Khatami had an overwhelming popularity albeit years of ongoing efforts to smear his image. The majority of the participants in the discourse believed that a well known candidate with a clear background of reformist activity who has remained loyal to the reformist camp,  despite  the pressures should be appointed.  The criteria for a candidate who can respond to the diverse expectations of the constituency and who can regenerate an atmosphere of hope and national esteem were discussed . Although Mr. Khatami had announced initially that he was not willing to stand for candidacy , but the majority of the political groups and the activists even those in prison or exile announced their support for his candidacy. Khatami is a popular public figure, he does not belong to a particular orientation; he represents the general Iranian mentality.

On the eve of the new year, I joined 91 activists in inviting Khatami to stand for these elections. We issued the first official communique on this matter and subsequently 45 members of the consultative group presented their assessment of current conditions and a plan for reform in government processes and policies.
The general public have gradually  welcomed the call and initial evaluations point to much hope in this regard although he has not yet announced his candidacy.
Many other groups have now announced their support and readiness to stand behind Khatami in the upcoming elections.
Khatami has set the standards for integrity, competency and good governance . He is the living standard for Reformists and Iranians who aspire for an advanced and prosperous nation. His legacy stands as  a politician who kept his ethical and human standards while in office. Never did his unrivalled popularity and  power as a president   cause him to abuse power or to undermine legal or ethical standards. Even though, Khatami later faced many baseless allegations by his rivals and many members of his government and reformists faced imprisonment but he never waivered on his principles and stood firm in his resolve to change the current unfavorable conditions in Iran.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Neighboring Pakistan and US Drones

Pakistan is a neighboring Muslim country with a population of over 176 million. I have visited Karachi for two weeks in 1994 during a joint training course on immuno-chemistry as a course requirement for  PhD students of immunology. We were hosted by the Karachi University faculty led by the late Professor Zafar Zaidi and we enjoyed their kindness and hospitality. The attire and customs observed by the faculty and students indicated their high esteem for their national heritage and culture.
 Karachi is a over populated port, quite modern and advanced in some quarters but most of the city was marked by under development and poverty. Dr. Zaidi was quite concerned for our security due to the activities of violent Salafi groups like the Sepahe Sahabe and he asked us to use the University van allocated to our group for transportation. One day we devised an escape plan and went to the traditional bazaar to get a taste of the local culture and atmosphere. On the way back we took a minibus which was very noisy and overcrowded  and gave us a close up to life in Karachi.
We enjoyed the stay and the university held a graduation ceremony for us at the end of the course. The presence of an American air force base in Karachi and the strong control of American politics was quite evident, in spite of the democratic and Islamic aspirations of the educated elite of the country. Now 18 years later, Pakistan has been through very difficult turmoils and relentless violence continues to shake the country. This statistical visualization of US drone attacks made available by the Huffington Post, is the most evident visualization of how American forces  have plowed Pakistan territory  and how civilians and children have been massacred silently all these years.

The visualization, seen below, tracks the victims of the strikes using data from the Bureau for Investigative Journalism, at least 3105 casualties 175 of which were children.
Looking at the interactive graphs I was thinking is this one of the benefits / advantages of being an ally of the United States of America for all these years and harboring their armed forces and protecting their interests??

Monday, March 25, 2013

Iran, Iraq and an Anniversary Not to be Celebrated


Once in a while we hear strong words against Iran and the so called threat of " Iranian nuclear capability". While the nuclear arsenal is a explicit uncontested right for certain members of the international community, the potential thought of such capability for others such as Iran, constitutes an outright threat. Now, for several years, in spite of the lack of any evidence, the IAEA refrains from clearing the Iranian dossier on the pretext that Iranians have to somehow convince the international community (ie Western Powers) that they do not have a military agenda for their nuclear program.  Western powers on the other hand, have set on a course of paralyzing sanctions against the nation, purportedly to convince Iran to stop its nuclear activity. But as many analysts believe, sanctions are devised  in order to weaken the economy and break the nation's resilience in face of decades of pressures against the Islamic revolution and ultimately facilitate the regime change that American neocons have aspired for so long. In spite of hardships and heavy criticism against the government, the Iranians feel that pressures against the peaceful nuclear program are unjustified. Iranians are actually facing two fronts. They are facing an internal struggle for reform on one hand and an unjust and arrogant Western entity on the other.
Even as American militarism has faced heavy casualties and defeat in Iraq and Afghanistan, causing massive humanitarian disasters and the deaths of millions of civilians during the past decade, the world sees no sign of relent or repent .
The National Catholic Reporter makes a point of this fact:” Many believed then, and the world knows now, that the purported government justification for bombing and occupying Iraq were based on lies and deceit. Yet 10 years later, no senior government or military leader who ordered, directed and carried out this blatantly immoral and illegal invasion and occupation has been held accountable. No apology has been made, no public act of repentance or contrition has ever been offered by any U.S. official for the unspeakable war crimes committed. The use of white phosphorus anti-personnel weapons in a massacre in Fallujah in 2004 and the torture of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib are just two cases in point.”
While The Lancet reported over 600,000 civilian casualties in 2006 the numbers are known to be much higher now 7 years later.

 On the tenth anniversary of the US occupation of Iraq there were many reports about the consequences and aftermath of this event for the people of Iraq and for the region. Joseph Palermo did an interesting  article in the Huffington Post.   He reminds us of some of the dreadful facts of this tragic decision: 
"Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) surveyed the nightly news during the first three weeks of the invasion in March and April 2003 and found that on NBC, ABC, CBS, PBS, CNN, and Fox, pro-war U.S. sources outnumbered antiwar sources by 25 to one. With a 25 to 1 ratio of warmongers versus critical voices on the nation's dominant news shows it's no surprise that people came to believe the Bush administration's hype about WMDs. These news sources also assiduously avoided giving much coverage to the massive anti-war demonstrations that took place across the United States in the lead up to the war, including the 15 million strong global rally for peace on February 15, 2003."
Have  the American media learned their lessons? Do they have the independence to resist a new scenario?  Or are they preparing for a similar scenario against Iran, now even more sophisticated with the aid of others like Hollywood ( Argo's anti Iran propaganda).

The Huffington Post article goes on :”We also hear the "argument" that Saddam Hussein was such a bad guy we had no choice but to invade and occupy Iraq, kill over 100,000 Iraqi civilians, and send over 4,400 American soldiers to their deaths. But at the time the world had plenty of human rights violators, including many, like Egypt's Hosni Mubarak, who were for decades considered faithful U.S. allies. The warmongers ten years ago brushed off the observation that the United States armed and aided Saddam Hussein's government throughout the 1980s in his war of aggression against Iran, which was the period when he committed some his most heinous acts. (Remember the 1983 footage of Donald Rumsfeld warmly shaking the tyrant's hand?) To this day, on occasion, we hear Condi Rice or Ari Fleischer or some other defender citing the litany of villainy that Saddam Hussein was responsible for as an ex post facto justification for Bush's war of aggression against Iraq.”

Does it ever pass the mind of the warmongers that contemporary   history gives  Iranians  the  justification they need in their resistance against American hegemony in the region and against their bullying of  the Islamic Republic.
Tony Blair told BBC World a few days ago that they had considered Saddam to be a threat to world peace when they attacked Iraq, he had told told the world that he had weapons of mass destruction, a familiar reasoning that we hear today about Iran.
The consequences of the war in Iraq go beyond loss of life and physical destruction. Scott Bates, President of Center for National Policy, a Washington think tank, said there is a geopolitical price to pay for the decision to invade Iraq.Pointing to the “law of unintended consequences,” Bates said that US credibility and influence were tarnished following the attack on Iraq, while Iran’s clout has increased. America is still living with the consequences of this, 10 years later: “Our unipolar moment ended when we went into Baghdad, but we didn’t know it,” Bates said.
Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, who served as chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell at the time of the invasion, said that Iraq has changed the way the world sees the US. “Our rhetoric is high and lofty and we talk about human rights and human dignity and freedom and democracy, and then what do we do? We mount a war of aggression on Iraq, kill a couple hundred thousand people, and mess it up majorly, including the region,” Wilkerson told RT in an interview.
When asked if the individuals who made the decision to invade Iraq, despite widespread global protest, should be held responsible, Wilkerson said that “history will hold them responsible,” emphasizing that there is “no accountability for people who make grievous errors in high office in the United States.”
Washington’s tendency to forget its past mistakes could prove disastrous, with new war talk brewing on Capitol Hill The American people need to be vigilant about the decisions of their government. If they believe that they are constituents of a democracy then they will be held accountable one day for the actions of their government and for the decisions that have affected the lives of millions and has taken people to the verge of death and devastation in many parts of the world.   When the American people elected Obama in 2008, it seemed that they were disillusioned with the Bush era and opposed American militarism, in 2012 it seemed that they still opposed interventionism.  Although, he has not met their expectations,  but many still  expect and hope that Mr. Obama and the more reasonable politicians in the Capitol Hill   prevent any   new adventurism in the Middle East.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Nowruz, Revival of Nature and Heart

The Iranian new year or Nowruz is celebrated  when the culmination of change and new life in nature appears. When temperatures increase, signs of the cold winter and  sleeping nature vanish, as blossoms grow on branches and flowers bloom.The Iranian new year coincides with what is called the Equinox and the true shift in the earth's axis and change in climate. The moment the Sun crosses the celestial equator and equalizes night and day is calculated exactly every year and Iranian families gather together to observe the rituals.

Nowruz has been celebrated for thousands of years in Iran and within the radius of Iranian civilizational influence. Countries like Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Turkemenistan, Kirghistan and Kazakhstan  where Farsi is spoken and signs of  Persian culture, customs and tradition are evident in ordinary life, all celebrate Nowruz. Hundreds of thousands of expatriate Iranians living in Europe and the US also celebrate this important occasion.  Nowruz is a time for friendship and forgiveness, it is a time for cherishing the blessings of life and nature.
Iranians and many other nations who enjoy the Persian culture and civilization celebrate Nowruz  as a symbol of their common heritage. Celebration of  Nowruz is the celebration of peace and friendship among nations and  has great cultural implications for humanity. For this reason the UN has designated this day as an international celebration.
The Haft Seen Table is the tradition followed in every Iranian home

Its a symbol of preparing for new times and better days. It is also a symbol of the changes we all need to bring about in our hearts and minds, we need to mend broken hearts and to heal the scars left behind. In Islamic ethics as individuals, we need to revisit our practices and behaviors and to evaluate them.  We need to clean the greed, deceit and hatred that plagues our hearts and prepare for an inner Spring and new life.
Family unions are very common and Iranians travel around the country to visit their loved ones and to see the beautiful scenery of spring in different cities throughout the country. 

The upcoming Presidential elections are the subject of many family gatherings. The Ahmadinejad team are trying to promote traditional Persian holidays like Nowruz to focus on nationalism rather than the more religious aspects of the country's Islamic Republic. Reformists have recently  produced an in depth analysis and plan concerning the very difficult conditions Iran is facing. They demonstrate how social and economic indicators have plummeted  due to current mismanagement and  they have given a plan how to tackle the crisis. 

Sprouts are a symbol of revival and spring