Omid Memarian

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Persianality, Jason's Perspective from Iran

Jason Rezaian, has posted his comments about his latest travel to Iran on SF Chronicle blog. He also has put some fresh pictures, by Yalda Moayeri which are really fits to what he says. Jason travels frequently to Iran and has contributed articles to several newspapers and magazines, including the San Francisco Chronicle. He is also the writer, executive producer and narrator of a feature length documentary film on Iran called A World Between. He's also the founder and director of The Iran Media Service.

Jason looks at the Iranian society with a sharp eyes which makes is very objective for the poeple who want to get an insight picture from the countriy which is labeled by the President Bush as one of the funders of the Axis of Evil Club countries. Jason also is a smart photographer, pictures which capture the hot moments of the Iranian's daily life...

Sunday, October 29, 2006

He's no bomber, just the cofounder of!

look at this report about an Iranian physist in

BERKELEY – Afrooz Family likes to blow things up. But he's no bomber, just the cofounder of, an educational website that features lots of pyrotechnic experiments well documented with photos and videos.

...Afrooz was born and raised in Atlanta, to parents from Iran. His surname is not a traditional Persian one. "I don't think 'Family' is a normal name in any culture," he says cheerfully, before admitting that the reaction to his unusual name can get a little wearing.
His father, a physics professor at Emory University, gave Afrooz his first computer — a Macintosh — when he was 4. "He set it up in my bedroom and showed me how to turn it on," recalls Afrooz. "That was it."

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Why Ahmadinejad Likes to be Connected to God!

Here is my new article on IPS (Inter Press Service) which has been reprinted in Asia Times. It is mostly about the Ahmadinejad's allegations on his connection to God. But I have tried to talk about the relationship with all he says and the current political situation.
"Oct 26 (IPS) - Amid a struggle between two major clerical factions for control of Iran's influential Assembly of Experts, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is trying to shore up his conservative base by portraying himself as a man with a direct link to god. The president, who enjoys close ties to the country's security services, has generally feeble support among the clergy system in the Islamic Republic. He is a strong supporter of Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi, one of the most radical clerics in Iran, who believes in an "Islamic Government" -- where the ruler is chosen by god, through representatives like Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei -- rather than the current Islamic Republic, where people vote for their leaders according to Islamic laws."

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Forget the Family Planning Program!
Ahmadinejad likes more Babies!

Two babies are not enough”, this is what President Ahmadinejad said a few days ago in response to the effectiveness of the family planning programs which have been followed just a few years after the 1979 revolution. What is the aim? It seems doubling-up the population is just to increase the power of Iranian Muslims.

See this cartoon! (By Niki)

What a president we Iranians have. He is remarkable just to put himself on the front page of the magazines and newspapers. He can tell the things that nobody goes after. He can make different points about variety of issues that for the Iranian people is not an issue and they even don’t think about it. Such a President!

Just a few days ago, he claimed that he is connected to God. Last year he said about his spiritual speech at the UN. In his meeting with a ranking cleric in Iran, he explained an observer told him that was surrounded by a circle of light. he also emphasized that he felt that light. And the story goes on…..

At the time he advises to double the population,
unemployment rate has gone up over 25%, in some deprived provinces like Kurdistan even more. Government should make more than 1 million jobs a year. But they can not produce even a half of that number. Ahmadinejad, who celebrated his arrival to the office with the highest oil price, can not deliver his basis promises to bring the money of oil to people’s table. Money injection to some parts of the society has increased inflation dramatically. In response, more than whatever billion dollars of oil money which has come to the country, billions of money fled because of the insecurity of investment which has been increased a lot during the last year.

Iranians can prepare a long list of economic and social barriers which harm their life. Now, what is behind his latest allegations? What have been behind his
other allegations?

Iran has stopped its national family planning program once just after the revolution. But a few years after, when Iranians responded positively this policy, they restarted again. Because it was obvious and terrible mistake; just in 25 years the population has become doubled and many crisis have appeared in the society.

Now, Ahmadinejad put his feet on the same way. He says all the revolutionary slogans which are now old-fashioned, things that have been proved that have no function. In compare with some of the
Islamic Republic founders, Ahmadinejad looks like greatly incapable. The period of ignorance is not possible to take long, like his non-natural smile.

Cartoon By Niki (Nik Ahang Kosar, Iranian Prominent Cartoonist, Publishehd in Roozonline daily.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

"We Need Engagement with Iran"

American political scientist Vali Nasr discusses the bloody sectarian conflict between Shiites and Sunnis in Iraq as well as Tehran's rise as a regional power", with Spiegel

Vali Nasr, the Author of "The Shia Revival", belives that the US should engage with the Axis of Shiites in the region and if not, they have to keep their troops and spend more and more money. Some Arab intellectuals beleive that what he says is a myth, becasue there is no Axis of Shiite in the region and Shiites have no regional plan and ambitions, they are focused on domestic issues. Now I am reading his book and I am going to write something on it later...

Saturday, October 21, 2006

A political Prisoner Released Today!

Just a few days ago I wrote an article about passing the fifth months since the “temporary” detention of former reformist Member of the Parliament, Ali Akbar Mousavi Khoeini. He was arrested on June 12 while he participates in a women’s gathering in Tehran. Today, he released after 130 days. Here is my piece about him in Roozonline daily:

"Oct 19-Five months have passed since the “temporary” detention of former reformist Majlis deputy (MP), Mousavi Khoeini. He was arrested on June 12 while participating at a peaceful gathering to protest discriminatory laws against women. Mr. Khoeini was
in fact one of the sixty people arrested when the gathering took a violent turn after security forces stormed the area. Mousavi Khoeini, who is now spending time in the infamous 209 ward of the Evin prison, had visited this very prison many times as a member of parliament and the National Security Council. The irony of life around us is
that his efforts to bring secret detention centers under the open legal jurisdiction and protect prisoners’ rights have now sent him to jail. Above all, he has now personally experienced what it means to spend time in solitary confinement..."(Continue)

Do Newspapers Have a Future?

I read this article in the Time . This a very important question for the journalists around the world, that like many othe proffsions which are not existed anymore, they should come up with the new era of inromation society, blog hurricane and also, lack of advertisment...take a look.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Is Iran Behind the Escalating Crisis in Iraq?

The situation in Iraq dramatically gets worse. It is a real civil war. People kill their neighbors and officials loose their power. Last night, I attended a panel on Covering Iraq by Washington Post daily. They pointed out how the journalistic task is difficult and how it is so hard to get the story out there. Two of them have written books on Iraq. It would be more difficult these days because of the strong presence militia in some or the Iraqi cities.

Increasing the number the US soldiers who have been killed during the last month and also hundreds of Iraqi people is so sad. The situation is out of the control. During the last days I read some pieces, which indicate that the Iranian government is in partially in charge of this crisis, but I think most of the arguments they make are not true and base on the reality of the crisis. Mainly because they exaggerate about the power of Iranian in Iraq. Iranians are influential among Shiites in some regions, but is happening in Iraq, is a respond to the political system change and also coming up the social and political gaps which were covered under the tyranny of Saddam Hussein.
However, at the time Iran hugely is under the pressure of the United States and there are many speculations that the US is going to attack Iran, conservative officials in Iran look at the scene very carefully. While the security if Iraq means a sort of security for Iranian too, the US difficulties to get rid of this crisis, postpone the US threat against Iran.

Then, as the hardliner say in Iran, it would be impossible for the Americans to lunch an air strike agaisnt Iran. Iran’s government officials also believe that the crisis is escalated by Sunnis who are not happy about the distribution of the power in Iraq after the US invasion and establishing a one-man vote system….

The problems between two major sects in Iraq, Shiites and Sunnis, is deeper than what we think, or some of the “armchair analysts” believe.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

“A Million Signatures for Women's Rights in Iran”

Such an amazing move for Iranian women: “A Million Signatures for Women's Rights in Iran”. Iranian women’s rights activists have initiated a landmark campaign to collect one million signatures to demand an end to legal discrimination against women in Iranian law.” (Click Here)

At the time Iran's hardliner government tries to increase restrictions in the civil society, women’s movement are taking the lead of social change to make a big difference. The significance of this action is related to the issue of women Iran which is strongly connected to the religion, Islam, and any change in the Islamic laws needs lots of efforts. So at the time any kind of change basically targets women’s daily life, it also force the clergy system in Iran to change its mindset about the women in the society. That’s why women movement in Iran is at the frontline of any kind of social change, and the government knows how it can change the political atmosphere and bring change to the other spheres.

Hardliners jockey ahead of Iranian polls

How conservative try to control the two upcoming elctions in Iran, Citiy Council and Assembly of Experts elections? That's the subject of my latest piece in Asia Times. These elections will have significant role in the future of the political forces.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Divisions Among Hardliner Clerics are Esclating

Upcoming Assembley of Experts Election in Iran has become very vital for the political groups. At the time reformist groups have a weak influence on this event, franctions among conservative clerics who follow different political agendas have become deeper than ever. Mostly between Ayatollah Mesbah Yadi who is well known as President Ahmadinejad's mentor and Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani who is the former presidetnt of Iran:

With elections for the Assembly of Experts [Majlis Khobregan, which oversees the activities of the Supreme Leader] looming, divisions between traditional conservatives and the radicals have escalated. Organizations affiliated with ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi, one of Ahmadinejad’s fiercest supporters, have begun campaigning, even though, according to one of Mesbah’s supporters, “The ayatollah said that he would not provide a list.” “However,” he added, “grassroots networks have formed and are active.”

The political editor of “Parto” magazine, which regularly covers Mesbah’s sermons and speeches, continued, “These grassroots organizations consist of university and seminary students. They pick the better qualified candidates from various lists and publish the lists as their own.” So far, some members of the Imam Khomeini Educational Center, run by Mesbah, together with a number of his students have announced their candidacy.

Interestingly, the lists affiliated with ayatollah Mesbah have omitted the names of Hashemi Rafsanjani and Hassan Rohani [former head of National Security Council]. This goes to show the extent of divisions within various right-wing groups.

Seyed Reza Akrami, a member of the Jame Rohaniyate Mobarez [Association of Militant Clergy], told Aftab, “The exclusion of individuals such as Hashemi Rafsanjani by Mesbah’s supporters is against the Sharia, the law, ethical principles, and justice. Instead of campaigning against others, Mesbah’s supporters must say whom they support.”

The Iranian Student News Agency [ISNA] attempted to find the source of the “grassroots” organizations that support Mesbah. In an interview with ISNA, one of Ahmadinejad’s close aids, Ravanbakhsh, was asked, “Are these grassroots organizations the same organizations that campaigned for Ahmadinejad?” He responded, “The organizations that formed during the presidential elections were later disbanded. The model, however, was adopted by these newly formed grassroots organizations. People who come to the fore on their own.”

Political activists remember well how “grassroots organizations” suddenly emerged in the final months of the ninth presidential elections and completely changed the outcome. The same movement, this time under Mesbah’s leadership, is attempting to put an end to the power struggle within the Islamic Republic by taking over the Assembly of Experts.

Mesbah, who is considered to be Ahmadinejad’s spiritual godfather, has succeeded in placing many of his supporters in various official positions. One such person is Mojtaba Hashemi Samareh, who is now in charge of administrating the elections in the Ministry of the Interior. Furthermore, many of Mesbah’s supporters are mobilizing the Basiji forces (the young paramilitary forces operating under the leadership of the Passdaran Revolutionary Guards) for both participating in and monitoring the elections. This has added a great deal of concern about the fairness of the upcoming election.

Regarding the involvement of military and paramilitary forces in the elections, Roshan, political deputy of Tehran’s provincial government says, “In the past military forces did not directly influence elections. But now that a number of military officers have run for office in recent elections, politicians and activists have raised their concerns. These recent elections, however, were among the healthiest elections, and there wasn’t even a single petition filed against the military’s involvement in elections.”

"Can You Tell a Sunni From a Shiite?"

A few days ago, in a small gathering of experts of Middle East and people who have strong concern to make a difference in the world, somebody asked, "How can you identify a Shiite (Shia) from a Sunni guy?” Basically it was a simple question. However, in my opinion, it was very interesting. Because there are many pieces in the newspapers which talk about the fight between these two groups in Iraq and how a sort of micro-conflict tribal is happening there, like the same happened in Lebanon early 80th.

"When you look at a Shiite Muslim, you can see they have ring, but Sunnis don’t have", said one of the audience. "I live somewhere that hangs out with some Shiite people." Many Muslim use "ring", like the agate. But it was not the answer. Some people brought up different answer. But at the end a lady said that how we can identify a Protestants Christian and a Catholic one? How can we identify a Jewish man and a Christian in the street? Simple as that...

That's why I like that question. Questions like this, target the common understanding about the things that we are facing everyday but we get no in-depth information about them. Also, it shows how media make a perception of realities for the public opinion...

Bt the way, I read "Can You Tell a Sunni From a Shiite?', an Op-Ed piece in New York Times yesterday. How is it?

“A few weeks ago, I took the F.B.I.’s temperature again. At the end of a long
interview, I asked Willie Hulon, chief of the bureau’s new national security
branch, whether he thought that it was important for a man in his position to
know the difference between Sunnis and Shiites. “Yes, sure, it’s right to know
the difference,” he said. “It’s important to know who your targets

That was a big advance over 2005. So next I asked him if he
could tell me the difference. He was flummoxed. “The basics go back to their
beliefs and who they were following,” he said. “And the conflicts between the
Sunnis and the Shia and the difference between who they were following.”

O.K., I asked, trying to help, what about today? Which one is Iran
— Sunni or Shiite? He thought for a second. “Iran and Hezbollah,” I prompted.
“Which are they?”

He took a stab: “Sunni.”


Al Qaeda? “Sunni.”


AND to his
credit, Mr. Hulon, a distinguished agent who is up nights worrying about Al
Qaeda while we safely sleep, did at least know that the vicious struggle between
Islam’s Abel and Cain was driving Iraq into civil war. But then we pay him to
know things like that, the same as some members of Congress.” (Continue)

Monday, October 16, 2006

Deployment Orders!

The US is preparing itself for an attack, and Iran is going to be the target. Is it true? Why nobody in the administration, who is anti-war or anti-military attack object against this move? Look at this piece by Dave Lindorff . It will be a huge mess. Many Iranians think that these kind of news or leaking such information is just exaggeration target the Iranian offcials to force them to suspend the enrichment of uranium. But is it possible that the US id paying this huge expense just to prepare an exageration tool for the Iranian goverment?

" ...hope I am wrong about all this, but the sailing of
the Eisenhower, which had been pushed forward recently by about a month by the Pentagon for clearly political reasons, makes me think I'm right. A key will be what happens with the Enterprise carrier strike force, which has already been on station in the Arabian Sea for six months, where it has been launching air strikes against Afghanistan and Iraq targets. Ordinarily, such deployments last six months and then the carrier group returns to base for resupply and for R&R for the crew. If the Enterprise is held over for a longer deployment, after the arrival of the Eisenhower, we will know that something serious is planned...."

Sunday, October 15, 2006

A Divine President !

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is a phenomenon. Just last year, he claimed, during his speech in the General Assembly in September 2005, he was surrounded by a sort of holy light, in a way that nobody could blink. Just a few days ago, he said that he has connection to god. However he emphasized that some of his friends make fun of him. He asked them to believe him. All his speech is full of unbelievable things. One of the funny things is about the President Bush. He believes that both of them are connected. “I am connected to divine inspiration, but Bush is connected to Evil….or something similar to this point. I will put a link of his speech when I just find an English translation of that speech among his friends and fans.

I interviewed an Iranian academic a few days ago who visited him in New York last september. he mentioned that how Ahmadinejad's self confident during the last year has jupmed up dramaticly. He also said that the president is really naive about the International relations and stuff like that. However, he is very articulate on what he knows.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Bill Mahar

Bill Mahar - Video sent by omemarian
This is one of the Bill Maher’s show which I like so much….Christopher Hitchens, a famous American Journalist and Vali Nasr the Author of “The Shia Revival” are in this show. Vali Nasr has become very popular recently. he is among a few Iranians who had chance to vitis President Bush face to face. Another scholar who President Bush is Professor Abbas Milani, Iranian Studies at Stanford University who met president Bush a few month ago too. But have advised him that the idea of going to Iran by lunching a strike is a wrong idea.

I just recorded this show from my TV. It is not good but I think you can hear the voice. There are many things amazing about this show. I have linked this post to my Farsi blog too. I would like Iranians could see such a show. A republican, an academic, and a serious democrat and people make an amazing combination which had many things to say….

Did you watch? What’s your idea about Hitchens reaction to the audience? Is it very common? What did you feel though?

Hey, It is time to do it!

I feel really free this morning. During the last year, since I moved to the United States, I told myself Omid, it is good to look at all the bad things that happen for you, as an experience but not tragedy. It has been a good approach to deal with my daily life here. However because of all nice and amazing people around me I have been always welcomed by the society but still there are some things that have bothered me, more or less. Today, I had a conversation with a close friend which I really didn’t get it very much. But I felt as it was a very honest conversation, it should be a very normal way communication, which I need to know and understand. It was not really easy to go through the details, but I am figuring out how to deal with. And that’s something I would love to do; facing with obstacles and difficulties at the time your behind (back) gets empty by every body. (it is Farsi saying, to empty somebody’s back. It means get no support at the time you need or expect support, in different ways.) Sometimes people get more things from bad news than what they can get from good news, when they use it in a right way, and I decided to do, not only today but also in many different times….

Friday, October 13, 2006

Organic Food Organic Behavior

Berkeley, where I live, is an organic city. I remember that in my hometown, Tehran which is the Capital of Iran, one of the courtiers in the Middle East, which is located in Asia, I rarely ate not organic stuff. Mainly there are not many non-organic foods there. So, I don’t really understand, sometime, what to eat and what not to eat. Because here most of the available things are non-organic and for the organic food people should pay a few more bucks.

It is a little bit chic too. Many of the people who are obsessed with organic food are among the wealthy, educated and also comfortable people. For some is fashion though. However it is hard to explain why and how. I like it though. I enjoy seeing people who take of their health….

But it is not just organic food here. We can include much other organic stuff such as organic behaviors too. This is something I will write about it later. How to be an organic citizen? How to keep away the mainstream and what is the price for doing that? and many other questions which come up with this idea

By the way, after such a long time, I decided to write about my personal issues on this blog too. I get bored sometimes to follow all the political issues, at the time life is surrounded by many amazing things, and of course, many sand ones.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

The Story of a State Secret

Why are Iranian hardliners so infuriated when Ayatollah Khomeini’s letter about ending the 8-year Iran-Iraq war in 1988, which had been read out to Iranian officials at the time and had also been posted on ayatollah Montazeri’s website is published today? Who is the letter targeting and what is their relationship with Hashemi Rafsanjani and what is the impact of the letter on current political events?

Mr. Rafsanjani is the current chairman of the State Expediency Council (Shoraye Maslahat-e Nezam) which meets every few years to publicly review the work of the “Supreme Leader” of the Islamic regime. He is also considered to be the treasure chest of the secrets of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Rafsanjani published the letter that describes the country’s conditions in late 1980s that lead to Iran’s acceptance of the UN Security Council cease fire resolution no 598 at a time when president Ahmadinejad and his associates have, through their confrontation international posture, pushed Iran’s nuclear dossier out of the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency into the UN Security Council in just one year of his administration, while at the same time taking a military posture at home with a national military exercise once every few months and take journalists into military bases to show off the country’s military might.

Furthermore, by launching issues such as the “annihilation of Israel” or doubting the Holocaust, none of which have any national security priorities for Iran, at least not since the end of the war with Iraq, hardliners have presented a frightening picture of Iran to the outside world as if Iran is the source of threat to the civilized world.

Ahmadinejad appears to be still operating as if he is a presidential candidate, traveling from city to town to introduce himself to the countryside and create this image that people support his policies. In his view, people have come to believe that nuclear energy is their inherent right, even though he does not tell them at what cost is this right to be attained and by whom? And as usual propaganda is leading realities on the ground.

The publication of ayatollah Khomeini’s letter is important from two perspectives. First, it shows the cost of the Iran-Iraq war and the conditions under which Iran decided to accept the ceasefire. Second, who paid for the war? The letter raises the question why people must not be made again to pay. The picture that the letter presents of Iran’s situation is completely different from the picture that people were presented in those days. It shows how the propaganda machinery of the regime can distort real conditions.
At the very time that Iran accepted the Security Council cease fire resolution, Iranian television showed people across this land crying in grief, and expressing regret that martyrdom was denied to them. Images that portrayed the desire of many to go to the war fronts. Ayatollah Khomeini himself in those days said, “Since people have come to realize that a quick victory is not attainable, their enthusiasm to go to the war fronts has diminished. Furthermore, in his letter to Khomeini, ayatollah Montazeri in 1988 wrote this on the conditions in the country: “How much longer must people live under these conditions? In addition to economic pressures, some of us treat them harshly and antagonistically. We must not put our hearts into induced slogans or fake interviews. We must look at social realities. We generally use innocent Baseeji kids who have no training, and thus hurt their families.”

In another part of his memoirs Montazeri writes, “In many towns people openly insult clerics if they know that they hold some government or official positions. Volunteers for the war and assistance the war effort are dwindling in numbers and much of the help that comes is coerced. When I say these, I am not quoting counter-revolutionary foreign radio stations. I am quoting those very fighters who go to the fronts and those who have had martyrs among them. These are the ordinary people in the streets and the bazaars and even some officials and government employees.” Ayatollah Khomeini’s letter of accepting the cease fire was written just two months after Montazeri’s observations and letter to him.

It is interesting to note that just a few days after Rafsanjani published ayatollah Khomeini’s letter last week that many others began to question the wisdom and outcome of the protracted 8-year war. Iran’s permanent representative at the UN at the time Rajai Khorasani said that even the officials who visited the war fronts in those days would lose their faith and morale.
In another part of his memoirs Montazeri explained how the successive failures on the war fronts which were paid with the lives of hundreds of thousands of people were covered up and justified so that today they constitute a “state secret”.

“Normally, every time the military suffered a defeat - which would become known to the public – instead of openly investigating its causes and conditions and utilizing the views and criticism of all junior and senior commanders, including the fighters themselves who were witnesses to the facts and calamities, a serious of distortions and empty threats would be announced in the media and the pulpits of Friday congregational prayers, placing everything under propaganda so that those actually responsible for the failure never feared or had concerns about their role in the events, or they simply engaged in finger pointing. This state of affairs led to one mistake being followed by another for the revolution and the people.”
The publication of the letter last week itself demonstrates a serious concern that has been shaping up during the recent months about Ahmadinejad and his associates by those who reject any harm to Iran regardless of its source. At a time when many of the senior leaders of the regime, including Rafsanjani himself, believe that the country is at a seriously dangerous point, this letter clearly shows how the reality of a major event in the country which had taken the lives of hundreds of thousands of individuals is covered up, and that it can happen again.

The responses that Ahmadinejad has been making to Rafsanjani, which are s
ummed up as offensive language and tone, are of the same type that Ayatollah Khomeini was warning against. He warned the public to be watchful of those who would try to distance them from the good of Islam through extremist revolutionary slogans and promises. “I categorically state that you must preach against such an event. Any deviant step is a sin for which there will be a reaction”, he said.
Rafsanjani is in fact doing what Khomeini had said. He and some other officials have realized how a “deviant step” of the recent months can impact not just the future of the regime, but also the whole country.

It is because of this that Mohsen Armin, the spokesperson for the Sazemane Mojahedin-e Engelab-e Islami organization (Mojahedin of the Islamic Revolution Organization) stresses that this letter has been published for the purpose of preventing another episode of “taking the poison potion”, which is how ayatollah Khomeini described his pain in accepting the 1988 cease-fire with Iraq. If at that time the poison potion ended a war, today it is not clear what the outcome may be.

(Published in Roozonline)