Omid Memarian

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Iranian Parade in New York

It was my first time being in New York and watching the Iranian Parade on Madison Street. It was so exciting. Hundreds of Iranians and non-Iranians were there to celebrate the Iranian new year through embracing a variety of Iranian symbols; dance, music and architecture....
(Update: I took a bunch of pictures and posted on You can see them here)

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Reading Khamenei: The World View of Iran's Most

Karim Sadjadpour, Iran's analyist at Carnegie Endowment has published a new booklet on the thoughts of Iran's Supreme Leader. Just two weeks ago I met Karim in his office in DC and talked about his thoughts on the importance of paying attention to the most important figure in Iran's politics. For many people, still, Iran's president seems the most influential and significant person, but everybody who is a bit familiar with Iran's political system knows that no major change happens in Iran without his involvement. Karim's narrative of who is ruling Iran gives a solid analysis of Iran's domestic politics. Something that should be considered any analysis about Iran:

There is perhaps no leader in the world more important to current world affairs but less known and understood than Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Supreme Leader of Iran. In a unique and timely new study Carnegie’s Karim Sadjadpour presents an in-depth political profile of Khamenei based on a careful reading of three decades' worth of his writings and speeches.

"Sadjadpour argues that “Iran’s Islamic government is more powerful than it has ever been vis-à-vis the United States, Khamenei is more powerful than he’s ever been within Iran, and in order to devise a more effective U.S. policy toward Iran a better understanding of Khamenei is essential.” Though Khamenei is sometimes dismissed as weak and indecisive, Sadjadpour writes, “his rhetoric depicts a resolute leader with a remarkably consistent and coherent—though highly cynical and conspiratorial—world view.”

Given that the real political power of the Iranian Supreme Leader dwarfs that of the president, Sadjadpour argues, “It’s time for the world to focus less on Ahmadinejad and more on Khamenei. His speeches present arguably the most accurate reflection of Iranian domestic and foreign policy aims and actions over the last two decades.” He explores how Khamenei’s unexpected ascent to power is instructive in understanding his style of leadership, and unearths insightful quotes that provide deep insight into Khamenei’s thoughts on issues such as the United States, Israel, Iraq, President Ahmadinejad, and the nuclear issue." (read the PDF version of this report)

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Is Sen. McCain’s expertise in foreign policy expired?
(Published on HuffingtonPosst)

Senator McCain relies strongly on foreign policy experience for two significant reasons; firstly, it masks his incapability to address the most important national issues such as the economy, health care, education and immigration.

Secondly, his campaign hides behind his patriotic rhetoric and focuses on his heroic past, masking his mediocre knowledge and judgment about the most important issues facing the US including the war in Iraq and the Middle East crisis.

This week’s glaring example was Senator McCain’s blunder about alleging that Iranians are training Al-Qaeda (one of their most hated enemies) in Iran –a “Gaffe” as the Washington Post and other media outlets called it.

Any novice in politics who follows the news from the Middle East (which has dramatically increased since 9/11) knows that Shiite Iranians are thorough enemies of the Sunni Al-Qaeda. In fact, one of the reasons that Iranians supported the US in attacking Afghanistan in 2002 was the strong alliance between the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.

Also, the nature of insurgency in Iraq and the composition of different parties in this bloody conflict indicate Al-Qaeda members are fighting against Shiite groups, which are allegedly supported by Iranians. During the last two years, the Bush administration has accused Iranians of many things, but even he has not accused Iran of training Al-Qaeda.

While the US is striving for a new approach to foreign policy that can resolve the widespread conflicts in the region, from Afghanistan to Iraq and Palestine, the Presidential nominees should represent the highest level of understanding of the most crucial issue in UC foreign policy.

His mistake may not appear as a big deal to many Americans, but for people suffering the consequences of these issues, such a mistake underline McCain’s lack of understanding of the nuances of the conflict in the region and consequently raise serious doubt about his reasons for supporting the war in Iraq s.

It’s now comprehensible why many people believe Senator’s Mc Cain’s Presidency will at best be an extension or third term of Bush presidency.

Despite Senator McCain’s heroic past and service to the country, unfortunately, his experience and judgment in foreign policy are expired.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

POLITICS-IRAN: "The Government Suffers From Delusions"
(This piece was published in IPS News Agency and reprinted in Asia Times,

BERKELEY, California, Mar 17 (IPS) - If your grandfather was the founder of the first Islamic Republic of Iran, you would probably expect to have a very comfortable life in the land of Ayatollahs, where Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is president and Khomeini's successor has absolute power. But you would be wrong.

"No recreation is available to us. Arrests are the order of the day. Students are secretly arrested and imprisoned in droves," the granddaughter of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Zahra Eshraghi, told IPS in a telephone interview from Tehran.

In 1979, Eshraghi's grandfather sent shock waves around the world by leading the last great revolution of the 20th century. Nearly 30 years later, she feels that Iran is in peril.

"The whole country is under pressured silence, begging to ask questions, but, unfortunately, no one in the regime is protesting," she said. "It may take many years for a person to destroy a country, but [hardliners] have managed to accomplish this in a just a few."

On a sunny day back in the spring of 2004, she invited this reporter to her office to discuss a blog she was hoping to create. At that time, blogging was a new phenomenon in Iran, and government officials were exploring it as a way to reach out to the youth in a country where 69 percent of the population is under 29. The blog run by Mohammad Abtahi, a cleric and former vice president, was becoming extremely popular, and many, like Eshraghi, were eager to jump on the bandwagon.

Eshraghi was then an advisor to the deputy minister of the interior, Ashraf Boroojerdi. Her husband, Reza Khatami, was the deputy parliamentary spokesman, and her brother-in-law was the president himself, the reform-minded Mohammad Khatami.

Unlike most religious women in Iran, who are uncomfortable speaking with a man one-on-one, she welcomed the visitor with a warm smile. Eshraghi, now 44, was fashionably dressed, reminding me that she had once lived in London while her husband was studying dentistry.

Today, her situation is very different. Her husband has been disqualified from running a reelection campaign; her brother-in law is out of power; and she has been asked by her family, who she says fear her forthright opinions, to refrain from speaking to the media.

Her last interview, with New York Times correspondent Elaine Sciolino in April 2003, sparked controversy when she was quoted as saying that she felt trapped by her family history and hated wearing the black veil known as the chador. Eshraghi, responding to protests initiated in the Iranian religious centre of Qom, later denied making the remarks. Her family also advised her not to pick fights with conservative hardliners, and she has put aside the idea of creating a blog.

She granted this interview shortly after the Ministry of the Interior announced the disqualification of most of the reformist hopefuls for the Mar. 14 parliamentary elections, in which conservatives won about three-quarters of the 290 seats in parliament. This sweeping disqualification even included current members of parliament, prompting the European Union to criticise the polls as "not fair or free".

Since coming into office in 2005, Ahmadinejad has used the prospect of foreign threats --including the so-called "regime change" policy which has been pursued by the George W. Bush administration -- as a pretext to suppress his opponents and critics. This has been done through arrests of journalists, activists, and students. In addition, Iran's Guardian Council has halted Ahmadinejad's potential rivals from running for office by hand-picking the candidates.

The Guardian Council is comprised of influential hardliner clerics and lawmakers. Half of its members are appointed by the Supreme Leader and the other half by the Parliament, both of which are conservative.

Ahmadinejad has also tried to portray himself as a man with a personal connection to higher powers. This, Eshraghi says, is a "delusion".

"The government suffers from delusions, believing that it can eliminate everyone, [believing that] uniform thinking and restricting choices for voters can help it confront foreign threats, should they emerge," she said.

Ahmadinejad's claims about his connection to God first surfaced after he addressed the U.N. General Assembly in September 2005. He said that someone present in the audience told him that a light surrounded him while he was delivering his speech. He added that he, too, had sensed it.

Eshraghi believes Ahmadinejad is losing support from his base. She believes this is due to his "delusion of receiving messages from above, and his delusion that the people support hardliners fully and will appreciate any opinions they may have." She, on the other hand, thinks the cabinet no longer enjoys the same support it did at the time of the presidential elections in 2005.

"The current situation is highly undesirable both from a security and a foreign relations viewpoint," Eshraghi said. She believes that the U.N. Security Council's multiple sanctions against Iran have harmed the economy and the lives of ordinary people.

"Sanctions on Iran have already started showing their effects, putting Iran in an extremely precarious position. There are signs of these effects today, but by next summer the effects will be devastating ... do we need more problems?" she asked.

On Feb. 22, Ahmadinejad responded to the possibility of a new sanctions resolution in an interview with state television, stating that the U.N. Security Council "could spend 100 years passing resolutions, but it wouldn't change anything."

Ahmadinejad's foreign policy is now the focus of his opponents' criticism. His stance on Iran's nuclear programme, coupled with his unprecedented statements on Israel and his challenging of the accuracy of Holocaust, has led to three rounds of sanction resolutions by the U.N. Security Council.

To illustrate how the hardliner government has also failed to do its job domestically, Eshraghi cited the fuel shortages that have plagued the Iranian people this winter, in a country that has the second largest gas reserves in the world after Russia. "With the modest snowfall, the country was shut down. The government is not sufficiently well-connected to the people to see what they want," she said.

During the past two and a half years, more than 50 economists and academics have sent joint letters to Ahmadinejad criticising his populist economic policies, which have raised inflation to 18 percent, the highest rate since 1990.

But does this dire situation affect the family of the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran like it does ordinary people?

Yes, says Khomeini's granddaughter. "This situation affects everyone. Many might believe us to belong to more comfortable classes, but [it is hard] even for us. I know of many workers -- and even many of my relatives and friends around me -- who voted for Mr. Ahmadinejad, but they regret it now and say that their economic situation has worsened a lot."

*Omid Memarian is a peace fellow at the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley. He has won several awards, including Human Rights Watch's highest honour in 2005, the Human Rights Defender Award. His blog can be read at Photo by Arash Ashoorinia,

A McCain Gaffe in Jordan: Iranians are training Al-Qaeda

No comment on Senator McCain's remark on the relationship between Iran and Al-Qaeda! He is the man who more than everything else rely on his expertise over the national security issues, but at the same time make mistakes that seems ridiculous for people who just follow the news regularly....He should start reading "the Middle East for Dummies":
" AMMAN, Jordan -- Sen. John McCain, traveling in the Middle East to promote his foreign policy expertise, misidentified in remarks Tuesday which broad category of Iraqi extremists are allegedly receiving support from Iran.

He said several times that Iran, a predominately Shiite country, was supplying the mostly Sunni militant group, al-Qaeda. In fact, officials have said they believe Iran is helping Shiite extremists in Iraq.

Speaking to reporters in Amman, the Jordanian capital, McCain said he and two Senate colleagues traveling with him continue to be concerned about Iranian operatives "taking al-Qaeda into Iran, training them and sending them back."

Pressed to elaborate, McCain said it was "common knowledge and has been reported in the media that al-Qaeda is going back into Iran and receiving training and are coming back into Iraq from Iran, that's well known. And it's unfortunate." A few moments later, Sen. Joseph Lieberman, standing just behind McCain, stepped forward and whispered in the presidential candidate's ear. McCain then said: "I'm sorry, the Iranians are training extremists, not al-Qaeda." (Read the read of this peace on the WashPost blog)
Updates: Watch the Video:

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The beneficiary of spectacular attacks in Iraq
(Published on California News Service)

John McCainDespite the Republican presidential candidate's assertions, in the event of a terrorist threat of attack, the only beneficiary among the three remaining candidates is John McCain alone.

On Friday, McCain said that "Al Qaeda or another extremist group might attempt spectacular attacks in Iraq to try to tilt the U.S. election against me." This is a new page in the republican playbook, which they are bound to use more in the coming months. Republicans know that this fear-mongering tactic will work in the general elections and don't want to play their card too soon.

Senator Hillary Clinton used this method once in the Texas primary with her "3 a.m." ad, focusing on the idea of the U.S. president's potential to lead the country during terrorist attacks.

But, if Senator Clinton is so compelling in her efforts to fix domestic shortcomings and Senator Obama seems able to engage more American in politics and form a more united America, when it comes to foreign policy, Senator McCain has the final word, as he can rely on his longtime service in the Army and Senate.

Obama's superior sense of judgment and Clinton's new approach toward foreign policy separate them from the republican candidate. However, when it comes to threats to the nation, people tend to vote somebody who has already been tested.

The fear factor will lead people to choose a candidate who is experienced enough. McCain's allegations show that his advisors are readying people for the day they choose their candidates not because of their passion, excellent plans and inspiring speeches, but simply for their ability to properly react should any national security threat come up.

Yet among the three remaining candidates, McCain is the weakest when it comes to domestic issues and has no significant plan when it comes to economy, health care and education.

Regarding the importance and urgency of capturing the White House, nothing can better serve republicans than images of "fear" and "foreign threat." So, the question now is in what manner republicans will make national security and foreign policy their first priority in the coming months. If you find it hard to guess, remember the months before the Iraq invasion in April 2003. Remember?

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Samantha Power, Ethical Journalism and Truth: To Quote or Not to Quote?
(Published on the Huffington Post)
In every journalist’s life there are moments that define him or her. These are moments of extreme temptation, selfishness and/or honesty. For The Scotsman reporter Gerry Peev , publishing an “off the record” remark made by Samantha Power — Obama’s senior foreign policy advisor — was one of those moments.

Peev had to chose between garnering enormous publicity and respecting a basic principle of journalistic ethics, simply by choosing whether or not to publish an “off the record” quote. This is what thousands of journalists face on a daily basis; they interview people who make mistakes and ask the interviewer to leave out things that they don’t mean or simply realize was incorrect. Journalists then leave out those phrases. That’s why sources trust journalists; why they open their hearts and share their information with them.

For many journalists, “off the record” has a very simple and definite meaning. When a source says something – even in an “on the record” interview or conversation — and corrects themselves promptly, emphasizing that they didn’t mean it, it is understood as unethical to quote that remark.

Ms. Power, who is a talented and terrific scholar but unfamiliar with this sort of destructive journalism, simply complained about the campaign’s situation, making a remark that does not match her personality, her record or even the context of the interview. Peev didn’t ask why she called Senator Clinton a “monster” and did not ask follow-up questions based on it. Why? Because, when Power said “off the record,” the meaning was clear for both parties.

I imagine that when Peev returned to the newsroom and shared the story with her editors, they gave in to the temptation of gaining a huge amount of publicity by quoting that remark – and disregarding the basic ethical rules of journalism. Simple as that!

So what Peev reported has nothing to do with the truth. The truth is what Samantha Power courageously said about Hillary Clinton soon after Peev’s article was published:

"With deep regret, I am resigning from my role as an advisor to the Obama campaign effective today," Power wrote. "Last Monday, I made inexcusable remarks that are at marked variance from my oft-stated admiration for Senator Clinton and from the spirit, tenor, and purpose of the Obama campaign. And I extend my deepest apologies to Senator Clinton, Senator Obama, and the remarkable team I have worked with over these long 14 months."

When the Scottish journalist was asked by an MSNCB anchor why she was printing something that was said off the record, she responded:

“Because I don’t know what the convention is in American journalism, but in Britain here we have very firm rules about the fact that generally you establish whether a conversation or interview is on or off the record before it actually happens…we are not in this business to self-censor ourselves; we are in this business to print the truth.”

What Peev does not get is that there are some rules and codes that do not belong just to a country or a group of people, but are rather universal. Scotsman editor Mike Gilson ignores this fact when defending his publication’s use of the "off-the-record" quotes:

"The interview our political correspondent Gerri Peev conducted with Ms Power was clearly on an on-the-record basis. She was clearly passionate and angry with the tactics of the Clinton camp over the Ohio primary and that spilled over in the interview. Our job was to put that interview before the public as a matter of public interest. It was for others to judge whether the remarks were ill-judged or spoke of the inexperience in the Obama camp."

The editor simply tries to blur the rules that the whole profession of journalism is based on, using the excuse of it being a “matter of public interest,” which is misleading and shows poor judgment on his part.

That’s why Samantha Power’s resignation over her comments made to the Scotsman that Senator Hillary Clinton was a “monster” raises questions about the ethics of journalism, the rules and codes that the whole profession is based on.

Although there are many journalists who unlike Peev abide by journalism’s code of ethics, such an event damages the image of journalists and further exacerbates the difficulty that the media has had keeping people’s trust in the past years.
Samantha Power will continue her service to society, but what happened to her is nevertheless truly regrettable.
Watch this to see who she he is:

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

"Commander Rejects Article of Praise": Why Fallon's Resignation could be important

I think the Admiral Fallon's departure could be an alarming sign in the upcoming remained months of the Bush administration. The months that could potentially bring another front of tension to the Middle East by engaging the US in a fight with Iran. It seems very unlikely, but the Iraq was very unlikely a few months before the US invasion in 2003. Also, I think nothing can serve republicans, in the coming Presidential elections, more than something that bring the national security to the top of Americans' priority list. In such a situation, even though people will blame President Bush more than ever, but that's Senator McCain who will benefit the most. Then who can beat him in the general elections? I believe that President Bush will be ready to do such a sacrifice for the Republican Party. [Update:Or simply he has resigned to be a running mate for either Senators Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton. (CBS scenario)]: (Read the story in gaurdian)(IPS News Agency)(In TimesOnline) and in (The WashingtonPost)

"The top U.S. commander in the Middle East is the subject of a glowing magazine article describing him as the only person who might stop the Bush administration from going to war against Iran.

Esquire magazine's forthcoming profile of Adm. William "Fox" Fallon portrays the chief of the U.S. Central Command as "brazenly challenging" President Bush on Iran, pushing back "against what he saw as an ill-advised action."

Written by Thomas P.M. Barnett, a former professor at the Naval War College, the article in the magazine's April issue predicts that if Fallon leaves his position at Central Command, "it may well mean that the president and vice president intend to take military action against Iran before the end of this year and don't want a commander standing in their way."

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Sunday, March 09, 2008

The Election on Blog in Farsi
(This article appeared on page G - 2 of the San Francisco Chronicle)

(What is the story behind this remarkable surge of voters interest - especially among young people - in the 2008 election? We invited students from Susan Rasky's political-reporting class at UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism to provide their insights. Other student essays on this subject can be found at

The enthusiasm about the 2008 presidential election does not end at the U.S. borders.

Because of the Internet and satellite dishes, millions of people outside the country follow the tight marathon that might take the United States in a new direction in November.

Since I've started blogging on presidential elections in the United States on my Farsi blog, my readers have doubled. I am not really sure whether it's my eloquent writing that's drawing the new readers or a desire to get firsthand information about a unique election that could change the life of millions of people outside the United States.

"Everywhere I go, people talk about Hillary and Obama," observed one of my readers from Tehran. "Some of the university students analyze candidates' debates as though they were going to vote in November."

In Iran, one of the founding members of President Bush's "axis of evil" club, young people record the U.S. candidates' speeches and lend recorded tapes to their friends to watch. A friend of mine told me that she was invited to a gathering to watch the Ohio and Texas primaries. "In Tehran today, it is a hip and fun thing to do," my friend says.

There is a simple reason behind this obsessive attention. The two Democratic front-runners embody the promise of the American dream - that hard work is rewarded with success regardless of race or gender. This dream is sold to the rest of the world in Hollywood movies and Silicon Valley success stories, but when it comes to Washington, the dream turns to war, fear and aggression.

More of the their work on other topics can be found at

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Hillary's Judgment Was Wrong About Iraq --And It's Wrong About Iran

(Published in Huffingtonpost)
During the past months Senator Clinton has tried to portray herself as a most capable potential president who will be ready to spring into action on day one, somebody who can wake up at 3 a.m., pick up the red phone, and make extraordinary decisions based on her experience in dealing with national security issues. She has a variety of qualities when it comes to her experience, but is dealing with national security issues one of them? It doesn't seem so.Buzz up!The idea of Clinton waking up at 3 a.m. and making an extraordinary decision -- probably on how to confront U.S. adversaries -- does not fit her experience, particularly on the two most crucial national security issues, if we can call them this: Iraq and Iran.

It does not need to be 3 a.m. to make a crucial decision. Clinton authorized the war with Iraq when she had enough time to think about the consequences of her decision for the United States and beyond. She was fully awake when deciding to launch a war that has taken the lives of hundred thousands of Iraqis and Americans and used up billion of dollars so far; a war that spread terrorism beyond Afghanistan's borders. No doubt there was no Al-Qaeda presence in Iraq before the U.S.'s invasion in 2003.

But this crucial war authorization was not her only major wrong decision. She voted yes on a Sept. 2007 Senate resolution calling on the administration to declare Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist organization. This was a resolution sponsored by Republican Senator Kyle and co-sponsored by Senator McCain.

For those familiar with the national security issues and particularly U.S.-Iran relations, this was seen as the most aggressive step toward military action against Iran by the Bush administration. This resolution basically calls a part of Iran's official army a terrorist organization and makes it legitimate to confront them with force, making them a target in the vague undefined "war on terror."

At the time the resolution was passed, U.S. officials repeatedly accused Iranians of involvement in the rise of insurgency and IEDs in Iraq, but presented no solid evidence. This resolution was the outcome of the administration's long-time campaign to sway public opinion in favor of war, a trick to secure authorization for another military attack.

The Bush administration was not successful in continuing down its warmongering path only because this resolution was shortly followed by the release of the National Intelligence Estimate (PDF), which basically said that Iran is not pursuing a nuclear weapon program. This had the effect of throwing cold water on the fire-breathing atmosphere created by the Pentagon and the hawkish part of the administration. The NIE changed opinion dramatically, both domestically and internationally, for the administration to use military force only as the last option against Iran. But the question is why, and based on what intelligence and analysis, did Clinton line up with neoconservatives in support of the resolution?

During the past days, she has blamed Senator Obama for "missing in action" when he "failed to show up for a vote dealing with Iran." Yet what Obama chose to do showed his superior sense of judgment on vital national security issues. I think these two examples are enough to illustrate why it scares me when I imagine the day Clinton wakes up at 3 a.m. wanting to make a decision on the most crucial of national security issues.

Sometimes when I listen to Clinton talk about her experience in national security, I think I am listening to Madeline Albright, secretary of state during her husband's administration. To make her resume long and heavy might grab attention in TV ads but does not work in action at 3 a.m. In politics, it really does not matter how many years somebody has occupied a seat in Congress, in the Senate or in the White House. Politics is a sphere of moments and right judgments, and there are many politicians who have lost their credibility, not over their long life service to their country, but for the few wrong decisions they have made in crucial times.

It doesn't matter it is 3 a.m. or 5 p.m., what matters is the right judgment at the right time.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

McCain Uses the Fear Factor in Earning His Votes
(First Published at California News Service)

Ahmadinejad in Baghdad

During the past few months, Senator McCain has been the only presidential candidate to defend the presence of U.S. troops in Iraq, in response to fear that Iran will destabilize Iraq after their departure. But the truth is that despite all the accusations by U.S. officials of Iran's involvement in insurgency in Iraq, there has been no solid evidence to prove this claim.

In my humble opinion, there is no country among Iraq's neighbors that enjoys stability and peace in Iraq more than Iran.Simply because Iranians fear that widespread violence in Iraq can easily speared in Iran and harm the country's stability.

On the other side, the U.S. has given Iranians the best service they could ever expect by diminishing Iran's enemies, the Taliban on the East side and Saddam Hussein to the West. (Don't miss this video)

The point is that McCain, who has not been able to make his case concerning domestic issues - and particularly the U.S. economy - is manipulating the reality of what's going on in the region to scare voters and get their support.

Ahmadinejad's historical visit to Baghdad shows that McCain's argument about Iran is not valid. Here is an excerpt from Reuters' report on this trip that delicately describes the Iran-Iraq relationship:

More... His warm reception, in which he was hugged and kissed by Iraqi officials and presented with flowers by children, was Iraq's first full state welcome for any leader since the U.S.-led invasion to topple Saddam Hussein in 2003.

His visit not only marks the cementing in ties between the neighbors, both run by Si'ite majorities, but is seen as a show of support for the Iraqi government and an act of defiance against Iran's longtime enemy, the United States, which has over 150,000 troops Iraq.

To Iraq's neighbors, Ahmadinejad's visit underlines that a non-Arab country has kept its embassies open since the fall of Saddam and its leader visits Iraq," Iraqi Deputy Foreign Minister Labeed Abbawi told Reuters.

Many Arab diplomats have stayed away after a suicide car bomber attacked the Jordanian embassy in August 2003, killing 17 people. Militants have killed several other diplomats, including an Egyptian who had been sent to head Cairo's mission in 2005.

"Not a single Arab country has an embassy in Iraq and not one of their leaders has visited, despite Iraq being an Arab country," Abbawi said.

(Photo Description: I was chatting with my friend, who is a German journalist and was in Talibani's palace in Baghdad today. I asked her to send me a picture of President Ahmadinejad's meeting with President Talibani. She sent me a picture taken by Iraqi photographer Jamal Penjweny.)
(First Published at California News Service)

Saturday, March 01, 2008

"Ahmadinejad's Trip to Baghdad"

Iraq has become a battlefield for the US and Iran to show their influence in the region. Ahmadienajd who is facing wide range of criticism at home, has found the neighboring countries pretty much relaxing, where people cheer him and enthusiastically talk about him. While the U.S. Republican presidential hopeful, John McCain, has claimed that Al-Qauda existed even before Iraq war, Ahmadineajdneja said that there was no terrorist before Americans come to the region. Senator Obama, also, believe that there was no Al-Qaeda in Iraq before the U.S. invasion. Many people in the region have the same idea. No matter why the US has come to the region, spreading terrorism is a new thing and has occurred after the US invaded Iraq. (Watch BBC's report on AN's trip)