Omid Memarian

Monday, July 18, 2005

Two Choices for Iran
At the same time that CNN and other satellite news networks and major newspapers in the US and Europe were presenting the newly elected Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as one of the American embassy hostage takers in the early years of the Iranian revolution and, by inviting the hostages to comment, were airing some of the strangest comments on the episode (such as saying attributing “these dogs must be killed” to the hostage takers), BBC’s Frances Harrison was in Tehran was interviewing some Iranians in front of the former US embassy on the issue. “If the president-elect was a participant in the hostage taking, then we are proud of it,” is what they said! A pride that was simultaneous with the bombings in London and the daily bombings in Baghdad.

With this barrage against the new president, his team faced serious consequences no matter which direction it chose in responding to the accusations while the message coming out of Tehran was that the president-elect’s team supports terrorism. While some now-moderates have openly acknowledged their participation in the 44-day hostage taking event of the early 1980s, pinning the name of the Iranian president to the event is a very astute connection. This opens up a wound that has not yet completely healed, indicating the issue is not yet over. The news agencies such as the BBC send the ball to the court of the opponents when their message from Tehran is: Hardliners in Iran welcome hostage taking. The broadcasting of a photo of the new president shown along with a cleric, who has been accused by the US of being responsible for some suicide attacks, sends a similar message to the international community. Iranian officials responded to these accusations by denying Ahmadinejad’s role, but because of the weight and spread of Western international news media, the image that is implanted in Western readers and viewers is that these men support terrorism. In addition to this, the Western media have also broadcast news that Ahmadinejad has supported reviving ayatollah Khomeini’s death Fatwa against British writer Salman Rushdie, or that he has had a hand in the murders in the Mikonos restaurant in Germany.

So in contrast to the days when Mohammad Khatami took over the presidential seat 8 years ago and invited the world to a dialogue of civilizations, thus creating a favorable atmosphere for Iran, the newly elected president is already looked upon negatively before even taking the same executive seat, whose results and consequences we await to see. His image is already so negative that perhaps soon he will be even portrayed as an anti-environmentalist by showing a photograph in which he is cutting down a tree!

So even while Iranian officials continue to deny such accusations and Ahmadinejad’s role in the hostage taking event, the current atmosphere provides American politicians to portray the image of Iran that they had been wanting to portray for years. Yes, Ahmadinejad himself is providing some of the food for this type of propaganda and negativism towards himself, especially when he talks of his ideas on nuclear policy or human rights. The continued detention of Akbar Ganji that is supported by the supporters of the new president and the other positions, provide the Europeans with good justification or excuse to break of its negotiations with Iran over the latter’s nuclear policy. It should be noted that these talks had shown that there was an alternative in dealing with Iran and it was gaining ground even amongst the most hawkish elements closely monitoring the events.

Under the circumstances, the Europeans may not even seem themselves bound by the Paris agreement, which keeps the door open to negotiations and which obliges them to come up with a package to convince Iran. Furthermore, they have even said that their trade with Iran is insignificant to play any role in their long-term relations and those with the US. The humiliating behavior with a visiting Iranian delegation in Europe is indicative of how they look at this country. With all these events, it is expected that Europeans will exert even more pressure on Iran in their talks or communications with Iran in the forthcoming weeks and months. Just as US double-edged propaganda against Iran is exerting heavy pressure on Iran’s president to give in, Iranian diplomacy too is facing two choices: resist or give in badly. The West has never been as impatient with Iran as it is these days.

The question remains whether the new president will be able to continue this cat and mouse game with the international community and end up actually achieving something at the nuclear talks or he will be facing far tougher days ahead of him with unknown outcomes.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

UK policy invited attacks Iran
BBC News, UK -Iran has condemned the bomb attacks in London as inhumane, and offered its condolences to the victims. But one of the country's ...
*Senior Iran cleric blames West for London bombings Iran Focus
*REGION: Iranian cleric says Britain paid price for ME policies Daily Times

How Condi scuttled EU-Iran agreementWorldNetDaily, OR - 4 hours ago... director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, continues to report to the IAEA Board of Governors that he can find no indication that Iran now has ... Iran plans to build 20 atomic power plants: source PayvandIran to break UN seals to test atomic parts Aljazeera.comIran asks IAEA permission to remove seals from nuclear equipment RIA Novosti

Friday, July 08, 2005

London Disaster message: Terrorists are alive!

I was shocked by what happened in London. Many analyst believe that it is a signal for the UK about all that has done in Iraq. I think except the painful situation for the UK this horrible event shows that the terror machins are strong enough to follow their targets. Amercicans follow anti terrorism activities everywhere.they try to find out any small threat. But the terrorists have their own way to get ride of Americans. This is a lesson for the world. Actually American officials are the first who are facing with this disaster. They belive themselves as the Pioneers against terror. I am so sad for the poeple in London. I am so sad for the poeple who their life put in danger because the Americans think that they are fighting agains terror.Even the normal people pay the expenses.

One day I went to the American embassy for getting visa. They asked me many questions. Many and many. Things that never mentioned at their forms. İt made me so disappointed. I respect all treatment against the terror activities but as an Iranian saying ı believe they have lost the right way for praying. İ was wondered that many of these policies only hurt the poeple. At that time I was decidıng to forget for going to US even for study becasue of the rude behavior I faced. However I know how americans like many other poeple all around the world are kind and respectful.

I was wondered that how they dont understand the differences between somebody who all his life has been involved for defendeing the poeple’s right and somebody who is going to go to US for terror or something like that. But I am sure at the same time terrorist enter the US by their ways they know. Because they must be stupid if going to the embassy and ask for the visa and answer the questions which are mentioned on the forms. One of the questions asks the applicants to confess any involvment in terror attack or something like that. What do you think? Does anybody confess at the US consulate or embassy that has been involved in any terror attack?
So you see many of the Americans policies are only normal poeple’s oriented. But terrorists are alvive as well. They are breathing from the same atmosphere they the UK polititions or Americans use it.
I wish that they become at last succesful. I think everybody wish to destroy terrotist all over the world. But can the current policies achieve this goal? Can they now tell us how do they evaluate all their acvities? Can they tell us what are the tengible achievements? Can they tell us that how normal people all around the world can forgive them for all that changed their life beause they are not sure what they are doing? Would anybody tell us please?

I think in coming future the American conservative politicians use this bombing for more and more new hard policies. Now nobody knows what they do. But I am sure they never lose this gloomy opportunity.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Alcohol Diplomacy
Europeans send Clear Messages

Refusing to shake hand and no bearing to look at alcohol drinks on the table by Iranian high rank delegation in Belgium again made a sock for the International political climate which is looking at Iran precisely to find out new signal for the future. But there are no good signs.
The repetitious story that the Islamic diplomats can no shake hands with women and also Islamic women can not shake hand with men absolutely is not understandable for the foreigners. It is even is not understandable for many people in the Iranian context. Many Moslems in and out of Iran shake hands and attend at the meetings that alcohol drink is served. However they might don’t drink it. But as an Iranian rule- and I think as an International rule- respecting the host principles and regulations is so important by the quests. In one the Islamic orders there is an advise that says “Respect the host unless don’t put yourself in a situation that bother you.” It means Iranian hardliner politician can not impose their regulation to the host. They can only forget any trip that put them in the similar situation.
But there are many stories about this doubtful Islamic rule that forbid the Moslems for shaking hands with women and women with men and also attending in meetings which alcohol drinks is served. After collapsing the Soviet Union the Iranian supreme leader, Ayatollah Khomeini sent a message to Mikhail Gorbachev, not to choose capitalism for the future of their society and many other advises. Apart from the message, there was a woman at the Iranian delegation which went to Moscow and visited the President, the most powerful man in the east. Ms. Dabbagh a fundamental Islamist refused to shake hand with President publicly and shocked everybody. The ambassador and the other diplomatic members understood that what happened so for the end of the meeting asked her to redress what has happened. So when the delegation was leaving, she covered her hand with her Islamic Chador to shake hand with president. Now this story is like a joke between youth.
A few years later when president Khatami went to Germany, in a formal introducing to the cabinet by the President of Germany, there was a woman at the line which Khatami was shaking hand with them one by one,
“When Khatami reached to the woman who was a minister from the Green party, suddenly he put his palms on each other and curved like an Indian symbol for respecting people. The minister was shocked. Everybody was socked.” the president’s interpreter said to me when I was in Berlin. “It was a awful evening. Nothing and nobody could explain why Khatami did that.” He added.
When I said that it has mentioned in the protocols he answered that we can not impose our regulations to the hosts anywhere in the world. He was true. Because when somebody from abroad comes to Iran, they respect the Iranian governmental limitations and so the women use scarf and a Iranian cover in public.
Khatami had a similar problem when he went too Spain at 2002 too. The press criticized the king of Spain strongly and asked him why he has allowed to Khatami to oppose the Iranian anti-human being regulation for dinner. “We are happy that Khatami didn’t ask the king to attend at the dinner party with pajamas because he would accepted it.” El Mundo columnist said. Many people in Spain asked the government to cancel the meeting with president Khatami. “Perhaps the Iranian can bear the sexual apartheid by we are not obliged to obey it in our country.” Said El Mundo columnist. “We don’t want oil and also any discrimination.” He also said to Khatami that when invite to Spain you could accept or not. But when you accept, there are wine and women here. All the Khatami’s trip was effected by wine, women and shake hands.
Iranian diplomats know how much is the expenses of these kind of behaviours. Some of them shake hands at their offices when there is no other Iranian or camera. But in public they try to ignore it. They attend in many meetings that normally alcohol drinks is serves. However at some levels when many cameras are focusing on the Islamic officials they have problem to ignore it. They have to loose the meetings of participate and ignore. They ignore most of the time.
A few months ago one of the high rank diplomats of the Foreign Ministry visited some of the high rank cleric authorities to describe them how this manner make a black face of the Islamic regime in the world today. Informally they have approved that the Iranian can shake hand with women when there is a possibility that the respect of the regime destroy. It could be a governmental order. But as the fundamentalist Islamists increase their influence in the power, it is so optimistic to expect any new changes. The conservatives insist in their self-made regulations. However 25 years after revolution everybody knows that it doesn’t work.
Consider that, the usage of the alcohol drink in Iran is so popular however is it illegal. Mr.Ghalibaf, the former police commander in Iran, announced for many times that they have banned millions of liters of alcohol drink which was smuggled to Iran. At that time I wrote a comment and mentioned that as you can not ban all the smuggled so it means the amount of smuggled alcohol drink is more than millions of liters. It is a big market. When something has a big market it means people go toward it. However the Islamic regime pays no attention to it. Many of youth drink in their gathering however in secret and in private places.
“We can not even explain the philosophy of these limitations.” One the Iranian diplomats says. “Because, the reason that the men and women are forbidden to shake hands is to avoid any sexual interest of men or women. As some Islamists believe.” He added. “But if we tell anybody this reason, we make a bigger problem. The people ask us how your sexual feelings arouse by shaking hands or how you fall into trouble by looking at alcohol glass.”
By selecting the new hardliner president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, It seems that the European countries united themselves to not to regard the Iranian style of diplomacy.
I think what is done by the Belgian officials is not something only about the shake hands or importance of bottles of wines on the tables. They are sending a message to new government that their patience has finished. As the Americans has send a similar messages during the last two weeks. In the world today there are some differences with governments which representative the society and respect the world and governments which there are many doubt about their legitimacy and representation. Does the Diplomacy of alcohol express the directions of European countries and is it tangible enough for the Iranian authorities or not?

Some related links:
Iranians in Belgian alcohol row Thursday, 30 June, 2005
Belgian refuses to give up wine for IranBRUSSELS July 01, 2005
Wine upsets Iranian trip
· Khatami's Whine List
By June Thomas, Posted Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2002, at 3:01 PM PT
"Khatami Feared Eggs More Than Wine" Reuters, March 29
No wine, no dinner, Iran told telegraph, 2002, By Isambard Wilkinson, Madrid

· A Considerable aerticle about Iran on:
Iran’s President-Elect Incites Islamic Revolutionthe, By Brad Macdonald