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 .  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:   .
“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.