Omid Memarian

Monday, July 31, 2006

Israel’s Destruction of Lebanon: Pushing Back the Prospect of Lasting Peace in the Middle East

Omid-Karim Sadjadpour is an analyst in International Crisis Group, and was a visiting fellow at the American University of Beirut during the 2003-2004 academic year. A few days ago I interviewed him for Roozonline website. Meanwhile, I asked him to answer some questions for my blogs. Here are three questions on the current crisis in the Middle East:

Is there any positive prospect for the Middle East peace process anymore?

I think the likelihood of a successful Middle East peace process has now been knocked back years, if not decades. This latest crisis has only deepened the tremendous mutual mistrust and resentment that already existed between the two sides. Few Arabs have the will or desire to make peace with Israel these days. And likewise, few Israelis believe that the Palestinians or the Arabs will ever accept their existence.

Why Arab leaders couldn’t interfere to establish a seize fire of play a mediating role? Are they agreed that Hezbollah destroy by Israel?

Aside from Bashar Assad in Syria, Arab leaders have been torn over how to react to this crisis. On one hand, they are extremely pre-occupied with Iran’s growing regional ambitions and are concerned that a strong showing by Hezbollah will only heighten Iran’s status in the region. But although they initially criticized Hezbollah for provoking Israel, the Israeli response has been so destructive and unremitting that Arab leaders have since been forced to issue strong criticisms of Israel in order not to alienate their own populations.

Israeli and United States officials say that this war is a part of war on terrorism. Do you think that this attack can bring peace to Middle East?

I hope I am wrong, but I fear that Israel’s destruction of Lebanon has pushed back the prospect of lasting peace in the Middle East another generation. There is simply no trust between the two sides, and the younger generations in the Arab world and Israel that are watching this war on TV are getting prematurely jaded.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

"Iran: The Next War"?

Have you read this article in Rolling Stone? "Iran: The Next War "

"...At the far end of that room, on the morning of February 12th, 2003, a small group of eavesdroppers were listening intently for evidence of a treacherous crime. At the very moment that American forces were massing for an invasion of Iraq, there were indications that a rogue group of senior Pentagon officials were already conspiring to push the United States into another war—this time with Iran...."

Even though many poeple believe that it is very hard and difficult for the US administration to start another war, I still think they are thinking on a kind of attack iran. It seems that US offcials, no matter they are republican or democrat, has come to this conclusion that they can talk with the current political system in Iran. While they charge the Islamic republic of Iran as a supporer of many terorrist groups around the Middle East, how they can talk about, for instance, security arrangement in the region?

i think articles like what has appeared in Rolling Stone just show this approach....

Friday, July 14, 2006

Win -Win Proposal for United States!

Have you read the latest story written by Seymour Hersh in New Yorker weekly, titled "last Stand"? Just put this article beside his last article on Iran a few month ago. He says something about the UNSC member incentive proposal which was rejected partially by Iran, which I think is true:

"...The question was whether the Administration expected the Iranians to agree, or was laying the diplomatic groundwork for future military action..."

I believe the incentive project was a win-win proposal for US and its allies. In case of Iran's acceptance, US would be the winner and in case of Iran's rejection US would be the winner. No face facing step for Iranian. It is very obvious that the Iranian government has no tendency to accept it. Read the article…

Win -Win Proposal for United States!

Have you read the latest story written by Seymour Hersh in New Yorker weekly, titled "last Stand"? Just put this article beside his last article on Iran a few month ago. He says something about the UNSC member incentive proposal which was rejected partially by Iran, which I think is true:

"...The question was whether the Administration expected the Iranians to agree, or was laying the diplomatic groundwork for future military action..."

I believe the incentive project was a win-win proposal for US and its allies. In case of Iran's acceptance, US would be the winner and in case of Iran's rejection US would be the winner. No face facing step for Iranian. It is very obvious that the Iranian government has no tendency to accept it. Read the article…

Thursday, July 13, 2006

President Bush meets Akbar Ganji!

Will Akbar ganji meet President Bush?” asks Masoud Behnoud, an Iranian Prominent journalist in his article which published in
Roozonline yesterday. He’s asked people to tell their opinions on the benefits and disadvantages of such an unexpected meeting?

Ganji is going to come to United State to participate in a
3days hunger strike in support for political prisoners within the country next week. He possibly meets President Bush. Last year President Bush visited a North Korean dissident who wrote a book on the current situation in this country.
Some Iranians believe such a meeting; will be an effort to make a clear picture about the Iranian society. In their opinion, Ganji can talk about peace and the democratic movement inside the country and mention how a kind of attack or air strike can postpone the whole process of democratic changes and act backward.

However, Ganji has said that his request is to change the Islamic Republish of Iran by a smooth process of civil objection to the regime in different ways. I think President Bush and Ganji are coming from two different worlds. But at this point of the history they have something in common. Both are trying to collapse the Islamic Regime. Is a good thing to be in common?

Some of my friends told me that such a meeting is horrible. Because ganji is a symbol of freedom and resistance against the brutal regime and the first thing which comes to everybody’s mind by saying Bush is Abu-Ghoraib and Goantanamo and things like these. Some people say that the Neo conservatives in US will benefit of this meeting and some say that it is an amazing opportunity to talk to Bush and tell him not to think about any kind of attack. Consider, Ganji was the only journalist in Iran who president Bush issued an statement forcing the Islamic government to release him.

Still, question is not answered. Will President Bush meet Akbar Ganji? I think, some efforts are carrying out in this way.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

"When Could Iran get the bomb?"

Here is the front page of "Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists". In this article David Albright argues that Iran is close to get the enriched uranium and makes nuclear weapon. Click on the picture below to see the possible scenarios in his point of view.

While the international community is waiting for Tehran's respond to the incentive proposal and the G-8 summit will be hold next week, I think the possibility for the Iranian government to deny the proposal is getting less and less. I read that US is going to sign an agreement with Russia next week on developing their nuclear cooperation. What does it mean? Why after 10 years of halting nuclear cooperation they made this decision? It seems that the circle of pressure on Iran’s government is getting tighter. The agreement is profitable for Russia and so Putin’s administration would be softer on US pressure to stop Iran’s nuclear activities.
Look at the news:

“(AP) Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Bush are expected to make
progress at a meeting next week on a civilian nuclear power agreement, a Western
official and analysts said.

"Now that Russia has been more cooperative in putting pressure on Iran to abandon its" alleged nuclear weapons program, the United States "won't allow the Iran relationship to get in the way
of this particular activity," Wolfstahl said.

The Washington Post reported Saturday that a nuclear agreement would allow Russia to import and store nuclear fuel from U.S.-supplied power plants, opening the way to a
profitable business.”

It is very hard for Iran’s government now to give a negative respond. The content of the incentive proposal is not clear. But, if Iran does not accept the proposal-whatever it is- the possible scenarios would be ambiguously harmful. In the coming weeks, US will convince Russia to consider what they call “Iran’s Threat”. The regional arrangement would be changed by US allies in the region and also Iran’s dossier in UNSC will face harsh decision. US seem determined to stop the whole process of enrichment uranium by Iran. President Bush has emphasized several that all of the options are on the table and Iran’s “No” answer will create a huge problem for them. Iran is facing some huge economy and social problem which makes it very hard to face more international pressure.

At the same time, the conservatives in the government believe that US is not trustworthy. A few month ago, Ayatollah Ali Khamenie, Iran’s supreme leader, clarified that Iran will not go a step back, because if Iran goes back one step, US wants to go 10 steps ahead.

Iranian government is just looking at security guarantee. What US say about joining the nuclear talks just after Iran accept the EU proposal is nothing. Negotiation is just the beginning of asking the other things. Ahmadinejad and his fans believe that it is better not to say the first “yes” unless there is a powerful reason for that. But if they say first “yes” without any achievements, US will bring them to their knees in the later steps. At the time that they have not any precious play card.

That’s why it is very tricky to talk about the Iran’s answer. There are some evidence that Iran will accept suspension of enriching uranium for a couple of years and there are also some reasons that says Iran is just killing time. But now the question is this: Did US and EU countries designed the incentive proposal to be accepted by Iranians or not?

Rabbits Can Still Turn into Bears

Iranian Minister of Intelligence recently said that Ramin Jahanbegloo has been arrested because he has collaborated with US efforts to initiate a soft and velvet revolution in Iran. His statements were not new but intensified concerns for him.

All Iranian dissidents have faced similar accusations in the past. The Islamic Republic’s intelligence officials are true examples of the belief that "if one is not with us, he is with the enemy." While all states do have friends and enemies within the international community of states which is the result of conflicting national interests around the world, it is the weakness of Iran’s intelligence and security apparatus not be able to differentiate true enemies with those who simply have a different point of view regarding political and other issues.

It is the weakness of the security system when it imprisons and confines the best and brightest of Iranians in its notorious prisons under different pretexts: an act that transforms the optimism of its victims into pessimism in a way that even its enemies could not accomplish.

Instead of adjusting its views and perspectives on domestic political and social forces, and international players, thus benefiting from the opportunities that are available to it because of different views around the world, the intelligence apparatus of the Islamic regime is so lame that is pushes its mere critics to the point of hopelessness. The intelligence system only displays its weakness when it denies prisoners the right to be represented by defense lawyers simply because it wants to gather information, which turns out to be absolutely useless because of the methods it uses to obtain it.

It is now many years that the security apparatus has confused reality with imagination and fears. And because of this, its officials misunderstand their own position and strengths, as they do that of other international players. The unplanned arrests that they make in the hope of finding some leads, is a sign of their ineffectiveness.

It wasn't long ago when Ukraine and Georgia's political structure went through velvet revolutions. Iran's dissidents however have been accused of having relations with foreigners to overthrow the Islamic regime. Some have been forced to spend years in prisons without even being charged with anything. Many of these victims were eventually but quietly released, but nobody seems to ask who is going to pay the high price of hard-liner's security delusions that have accused the most innocent individuals of the society.

Three years ago, Iran's powerful intelligence agents arrested an Iranian American who taught at UCLA at Berkley. No one knows how Mesbah Yazdi gained access to information in his file but he did claim that the person came to Iran with a suitcase containing $5 million in cash which he planned to distribute among reformers and dissidents. After four months in solitary confinement and interrogations, the Berkley professor was released on bail without any hue and cry.
Why do intelligence and prison officials so vehemently insist to the point of threats that after their release, prisoners should not talk about their detentions?

It would be useful if the minister of intelligence reviewed the files of other prisoners whose cases look similar to that of Jahanbegloo’s. If he read their complete files he would perhaps learn how security agents actually create enemies for the country. Perhaps he may then allow Iranians to be the judge of his ministry's performance. Mr. Minister, you hold the responsibility for a system that reminds one of the story of a rabbit that confessed to being a bear under pressures of confessions. A story that doesn't seem to have an end.

(Publisheh on Rooz online daily)

Monday, July 03, 2006


football-Video sent by omemarian

Soccer, soccer, soccer, my childhood’s obsession! I can not remember my childhood not including soccer. I remember how my brother and I could enjoy by playing with a ball for hours and hours. For many Iranian kids, soccer ball is a part of their identity.

When I grew up, I understood that how football is not just a game. It was more complicated than everybody could imagine. The First time I saw that the National football team carried out a huge frame of Atatollah Khamenei, I told myself what it means! It was an appealing road to use the popularity of players who basically had no idea of politics and could hold everybody’s picture….

World cup, more than ever has turned to a political events for the Islamic officials….When I heard that CNN put a poll on its website to asked people that Iran can go to World Cup or not, because of its nuclear activities, I was socked. I remember the last game of the Iran’s team when they beat Bahrain and flew to Germany. I was among the people and I enjoyed this victory like them. I can not forget the sense of joy which was poured everywhere. It was just last June in 2004.

I made this clip just to remind how Iranians like football. How they look at this game and how it makes them cheerful and passionate. Pictures you see at this clip are taken by me and the video of people too. I made it before the world cup. However they got feeble result I prefer to remember the cheerfulness of people.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Why don’t they get lessons from what they did with the earlier prisoners in the past?

The minister of intelligence finally announced the reason behind arrest of the Iranian scholar Ramin Jahanbegloo:

"The United States is pursuing efforts to start soft revolution in Iran and in many other countries and Mr. Jahanbegloo's arrest can be defined as part of that," ISNA quoted Mr. Mohseni-Ejei as saying."Mr. Jahanbegloo had an assignment and the intelligence apparatus became suspicious at the scale of his activities and resources" at his disposal, he said"
This is what everybody could imagine. Most of the journalists and intellectuals, who arrested during the last years, are charged as a tool for changing the Islamic Republic by the US and its agencies and therefore doing something against the national security. I wrote a piece on this topic before. The Islamic regime is so suspicious about the role of civil society actors such as journalists, intellectuals and academics. Jahanbegloo was among the optimist scholars who care about the Iranian society by putting all their efforts on changing the social and political life by increasing people’s conciseness, education, dialogue and bringing up questions.

I can imagine Ramin in the jail. I can imagine how the prison guards and interrogators treat him. In such
a situation, people’s life becomes a tool just to destroy their personality and character. They don’t listen to people like Ramin at the jail. They just try to prove that their paranoia exists. They will be satisfied just when prisoners say “yes” to their requests. So, there is no dialogue in detention. Just a monologue, just intimidation and inspiring fear to approve that their paranoia about the “others”is right. That’s why Ramin’s situation is worse than the past. Two months after his arrest, it seems they are going to make him as a forewarning tool for the rest of civil society….

I remember the similar days. When I was in the prison, I was facing with the same story. I couldn’t imagine how their mistrust was deep…most of the journalists who have been arrested during the last months have comparable stories…. I saw some horrible things inside detention that I heard before about it. before the detention period I thought they are all just stories that are created by people’s imagination and are not real. but, it was real. Unbelievable! However, one day prisoners come out and will tell the whole story…and everybody will hear it…and the question is always on the table, “why don’t they get lessons from what they did with the earlier prisoners in the past? Isn’t it really a big question?

I met some of the Iranian bloggers who live in California in Berkeley, Strada Café. I know them just by looking at their blogs regularly and it was a good chance to meet them face to face. The amazing point about this meeting was the diversity. Niki organized the meeting and I met the Author of “let me, “Tell you, Where I’ve been”, Persis Karim. I am going to write a comment on her book. I like the idea behind this book…She was so kind, friendly and tranquil.