Omid Memarian

Sunday, April 30, 2006

naked protest_0001

No Sweats for Berkeley; UC Students Protest - Naked!

Omid- The sense of activism among UC Berkeley students has always impressed me. As a journalist and a social activist, I am really interested in diffrent methods that activists use to mobilize poeple, students, and the media to magnify their message. The naked protests in Berkeley to enforce labor rights are examples of this. In general, the argument is very controversial... nevertheless, I like the way in which they try to advocate for a humanitarian purpose. I wish I could write more on this topic, but let's watch what these students have to say and look at what they believe in....Good Job!

Friday, April 28, 2006

Crunch Time for Iran

The possible options on Iran's nuclear program....What is the effects of sanction and military attack? I and Dariush Zahedi have reviewed the latest events on this topic at "Thetyee" a Canadian newspaper which I really like you are:

Why negotiations are the only way to go.
Dariush Zahedi and Omid MemarianPublished: April 28, 2006
Today is the deadline requiring the IAEA to report on Iran's compliance with the UN Security Council decision requiring it to abandon enrichment efforts. Given what is at stake, most analysts are puzzled by Iran's continual insistence on its inalienable right to enrich uranium on its territory.

Iran may be calculating that escalation can enhance their ability to extract face-saving concessions over its ability to enrich uranium on its soil. However, ratcheting-up the situation could backfire, causing events to spiral out of control. The result would be economic and even military confrontations inimical to the interests of all parties involved, especially those of the Islamic Republic of Iran. (

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Many Iranians Embrace Asylum as a Way Out

Here is my story on “Asylum seekers” in Turkey. I like this story because I have lived with these people for a while. I have covered prostitution in Dubai, IEARN conference in Japan, information society in Geneva, civil society delegation in Germany and so on. But, this story has stayed strongly with me….people who have no hope…a story in Istanbul, land of love and poverty… below is the lead paragraph:

BERKELEY, California, Apr 27 (IPS) - Increasingly, Iranians hoping for a brighter future and disappointed with the conservative direction of their homeland are seeking asylum abroad. They're crossing the border into Turkey and some are even employing human smugglers in their rough journey to Europe and even the United States. (Countinue…)

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Consequences of U.S. Attack on Iran

Omid- Berkeley Forum has asked Professor George Bisharat about the escalating tensions between Iran & the United States. Professor Bisharat is a prominent legal scholar at the University of California's Hastings College of Law. He focuses on criminal law and Middle Eastern political & legal affairs. He believes that “a nuclear attack on Iran would be immoral, illegal, and politically disastrous.”

Do you think that the latest speculations on a possible nuclear attack on Iran are logical? What would be the reaction of the internaional community to such an attack?

In my view, a nuclear attack on Iran would be immoral, illegal, and politically disastrous. Of course, the same could be said of the invasion of Iraq, and that did not stop the Bush administration in 2003. However, I think that many elements in the Bush administration, including within the military, are against military action of any kind, not to mention the use of nuclear weapons. It is difficult to distinguish between genuine preparations for attack, and posturing for the purpose of intimidating Iran into concessions. But on balance, I think the odds are against a military strike against Iran.

Would attacking Iran raise the sympathy of the Muslim world? What about Islamist groups like Hamas in Palestine, Hezbollah in Lebanon, and Badr in Iraq?

If such an attack were to occur, I think it would inflame the entire Middle East and Muslim world, at least at the popular level. In fact, fear of this reaction is one of the factors restraining the Bush administration from attacking. How this reaction would be expressed by particular parties and governments is a little harder to predict, because any overt support for Iran would likely be met with consequences from the United States, and no group wants to be identified for this kind of treatment. So support would more likely be surreptitious.

Is there a possibility that in case of an attack Iran would retaliate by activating its Islamic allies in the region?

I would not expect Islamic allies in the Middle East to retaliate against the US militarily, and perhaps not at all on the official level. Again, the US has a great deal of economic, military, and diplomatic power that it can wield against any opponents of its policies, and so the latter have to resort to indirect means that do not put them in line for US retaliation.

*Professor Bisharat graduated cum laude from Harvard Law School in 1983 and holds a B.A. in anthropology (UC Berkeley, 1975), an M.A. in history (Georgetown University, 1979), and a Ph.D. in anthropology and Middle East studies (Harvard University, 1987).

Friday, April 21, 2006

UC Election-april20-2006-Small

UC Election-april20-2006-Small
Video sent by omemarian

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Iran-US Negotiation: Does it make any difference?

Omid Memarian: “Can Iran-US negotiations stop the insurgency in Iraq? If yes, how and if not, why?” Professor Said Mahmoudi LLD, Head of the Department of International Law at Stockholm University, and a very well known scholar on Iran, has answered exclusively to some questions of Berkeley Forum on possible negotiations between Iran and the U.S.

Can Iran-US negotiation stop the insurgency in Iraq? If yes, how and if not, why?”

In my view Iran and the US have different expectations from this round of negotiations. Even if stopping insurgencies can reasonably be an obvious common objective of both countries, but I doubt if the two countries agree on the causes of insurgencies. If you do not agree on the sources of the problem, you have hardly any possibility to come to an agreement on the solutions. United States is in a desperate situation in Iraq. They are ready to meet anybody, to break a deal on any issue just to get out of this inferno. Iran is a natural option in this situation. But this does not mean that US-expectations are very high. Another issue that should be remembered is that Iran’s possibilities to influence the political developments in Iraq seem to have been exaggerated. Many foreign observers take it for granted that since large portion of Iraqis are shia, and the clergy is very influential in Iraq, Iran may be in an extraordinary position to influence the turn of the events there. That is not necessarily the case. The present insurgency is not only due to the consolidation of power by the shai Iraqis to the disadvantage of sunnis. The insurgency is to a large part because of sunni’s lost of power irrespective which other groups now is taking over the political power. What I am trying to say is that no matter what shia Iraqis and Iran say and want, sunnies have their own reasons to continue resistance and fight against all foreign forces. Even when they attack shias, the ultimate target is foreign, and particularly, American presence in Iraq.

Seen in this perspective, I see little hope that negotiations between Iran and the US will lead to categorical changes in the security situation in Iraq. For these negotiations are of course of another significance. It is probably the most important foreign policy decision the Iranian leaders have taken after the Revolution. A formal and publicly announced negotiation with Iran’s chief enemy of course opens avenues for further talks in other areas of mutual interest. This is politically a sound decision, since having negotiations does not mean that you have normal political relations or you approve each other, but it certainly makes it possible for the parties to frankly and directly bring their positions to the attention of the other party. Due to the attitudes of lack of confidence between Iran and the US, most probably the planned negotiations cannot lead to any immediate tangible results. It will, however, pave the way for further contacts in near future irrespective of how the two countries feel for each other.

Is Iran's nuclear case, a failure for EU foreign policy? Because now it is out of control of EU and everybody knows they have no authority to do anything without the US?

The role of the European Union in Iran’s nuclear case should be assessed in a broader context. The three EU countries – UK, Germany and France – took a lead in this case toward the end of summer 2004. The reason then was that President Bush, almost sure that he would be re-elected and still very confident that his Iraqi project would succeed, had started to use the language of force against Iran. Both Iran and of course the European countries had taken the threats seriously. For EU it was important to prevent at any price the repetition of the case of Iraq where the USA finally decided to disregard the Security Council and to run its own race. The Troika of the EU did not want to lose the initiative to the USA this time. That was why they offered a deal to Iran, which is now known as the Paris agreement of November 2004, to negotiate with Iran on its nuclear program with the purpose of securing a suspension of all enrichment activities in return for a package of economic and political advantages for Iran.

For Iran, it was a very welcome move since, as I mentioned, the country, in the aftermath of Iraq occupation, felt the risk of American military operations imminent. Paris agreement gave Iran the time that the country needed to consolidate its position. As the time passed, the situation deteriorated in Iraq, Iran made a new assessment of its negotiating position, and refused the EU proposals as unacceptable. In retrospect, the EU has certainly failed in its efforts in this case. But one can say exactly the same as regards Russia. It is not so much the failure of EU, but the changing position of Iran, which is the reason. Iran’s changed position is partly due to a new administration, with new priorities and goals, and partly due to developments outside Iran.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Why US Can't Buy Dissent in Iran

Here is my Op-Ed piece on $75 million American fund to Iran to promote democracy at Thetyee, Canadian online newspaper.

“…In seeking to overthrow the Islamic republic, it seems that the US hopes to smooth an intermediate path between revolutions in Central Asian countries like Georgia and Ukraine and attempts at social network creation and opposition building it used in Afghanistan and especially Iraq.The US seeks to eliminate the regime by using civil society institutions instead of brute military force…” (Read More...)