Omid Memarian

Monday, November 27, 2006

Mark Danner at UC Berkeley;
Democrats Have no Plan about War in Iraq!

What will happen after coming Democrats in Senate and Congress? Can they make any difference in areas they’ve been criticizing during the last years?

Mark Danner, longtime staff writer at The New Yorker, frequent contributor to The New York Review of Books ,and professor at Berkeley and at Bard, writes about foreign affairs and American politics, including Latin America, Haiti, the Balkans and the Middle East in a panel discussion at UC Berkeley said that people are angry and they push pressure on democrats to do their demands.

One of these demands is about post-war conflict in Iraq. Many people think the US should leave Iraq to harm less. Danner believes that Democrats have no plan for Iraq. At the time, according to a recent survey, more than 63 percent of American voters turned to democrats not because of their plans, but to object Republicans’ policies. It makes the situation harder for Democrats while the upcoming 2008 presidency election will strongly relate to the significant political change by Democrats. But how can control the war policies form senate and congress? “You can not run the war from congress and senate, that’s why democrats will have problem for the presidency”, said Mark Danner in a panel discussion at UC Berkeley.

Danner is one a member of Baker-Hamilton committee, who has led the US foreign policy to a new path. “One of the American officers told me that the difference between us and Iranians is that they have plan to secure the peace while we have not”, he said about the decision making process in Baker’s committee. He also mentioned that how Iran is in a strong position to deal with. “Empirical point is to believe what liberal hawks say, you have to be ignorant.”

An audience asked him about the options that Democrats are facing with. “There is no military solution. The UN should be involved, try to have contained failure,” he added. “The time for the US in Iraq is about to end and they have to leave… the amount of money has been stolen in Iraq is astonishing.

That was a inspiring panel, while Mark tried to stand in the middle and give a clear perspective on what’s happening now. I think at the time a micro-tribal conflict is happening in Ira, you can call it civil war; it would be harmful for the Iraqis if the US troops leave there. Perhaps they can start about a time-table to withdraw Iraq. Even Mohammad Khatami, Iranian former President acknowledged that withdrawal would be a mess for the region. However working on a time-plan to leave Iraq will give positive signs to all sides of this conflict.

Watch Mark Danner's Interviews here

Friday, November 24, 2006

Protest Against "Tasering" in Berkeley

Protest Against "Tasering" in Berkeley
Video sent by omemarian

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Phone Call from Hell*

Yes, Bush, Blair & Ahmadinejad finally make their way through the fiery walls of hell & despite all the “hot” company there, they get homesick. They make an appeal to the devil and ask him to allow them a phone call back home. “It will cost you for these long distance phone calls!” the devil says, “each in your own currency.” Money being no object, Bush agrees to pay $100,000 for a 10 minute phone call to his Daddy J Blair having done very well himself agrees to pay the horrendous sum of 100,000 pounds after a 15 minute heated conversation with his wife. Ahmadinejad, although not of money had “accumulated” enough to at least give it a shot; he spent over two hours on the phone to an unlisted number in Iran. Finally, when his conversation was over, he asked the devil how much he owed. “Hmmm” said the devil, “this is a tough one, but since hell to Iran is a local call, there will be no charge for this one!”

*A joke from Tehran.....

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

UC Berkeley Student Protest to Condemn the UCDP Brutal Action (Today on the Campus)

Today many of UC Berkeley students participated in a protest to show their solidarity to the students in UCLA in regard to the latest student abuse by the UCPD. I think in compare with the students in UCLA, UC guys were a sort of unorganized, and cofused,but passionate. I believe that the UCPD overreacted and used "excessive force", but I don’t believe to bring this issue to the racial field…By the way hundreds of student signed a petition to send to the UCLA administration and asked for independent investigation.

During the time I've been in Berkeley, I've gotten a very positive about the UCPD here. I have never seen any weird behavior by them. They are supportive, polite and a sort of kind. I am not sure about the UCPD in LA and I haven’t heard any other similar case about such a behavior. Have you heard anything about this?

So, even though many of sudents are stunned and upset, but it is not a reason to overreact.

-Read Daily Kos blog about this event:UCLA Police repeatedly taser muslim student [Updated1]
-Updated Video in Youtoube...
-An Angry Student uses Youtoube to show his impression

Student Protest in UCLA Agaisnt Tasering a Student! Today in Berkeley, 12 am. Sproul HallHere is another story about the tasering incident of an UCLA student just a few days ago. There are some links about this event just in previous posts....also; there is a video clip by AP about this protest.... Today, Tuesday, there is a demonstration to protest against this tragic and shocking "abuse of power" in UCLA.
UCLA Acting Chancellor Norman Abrams Announced today about the Independent Investigation of the Incident at Powell Library.

By the way, here is the link of latest stroy of Micheal Slackman in New York Times about Iran-US possible negotiating.

If you haven't read Symore Hersh's latest article in New Yorker this week about Iran, click here

Sunday, November 19, 2006

What could be accomplished in talks with Iran and Syria?

Just a few weeks after the failure of republicans in Senate and Congress, the US is going to involve Iran in the Middle East peace process, especially after the escalation of the micro-tribal conflict in Iraq and the no war no peace situation in Lebanon. The United States accuses Iran for, so called, its involvement in most of the terrible terrorist attacks in the region, playing a role as a source for fundamentalism and a major factor to destabilize Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine-Israel conflict. So, how can they sit behind the negotiation table and talk about the common benefits?

What is the major point that has made the Iran’s new conservative government so harsh and extremely untouchable? Islamic Republic’s ranking authorities believe that the US will attack Iran someday and will try to overthrow the Islamic regime. There are many evidences behind this theory. They remember how the United States supported Saddam Hussein, shot the civilian airplane at the end of the Iran-Iraq war (1980-1988), put sanction on Iran and, more than the others, how they support the Iranian opposition all around the world. There are many other issues in between too. Iran's religious government has been a source of supporting Shiite fundamentalism in the region since the 1979 revolution. Americans, also, remember the humiliation of hostage crisis in 1980 which destroyed the empire portrait of the country. There remember how Iranians are back of the Hezbollah and Hamas and many other groups from Afghanistan to Sudan, either officially or unofficially, while Iran denies any involvement.

Iran says that it is possible to solve the security crisis in Iraq by its helps. At the time Shiites are in power and most of the insurgency is led by Sunnis, a part of Iraqis who have lost power after the collapse of Saddam Hussein. Iran knows clearly that instability of Iraq is a huge problem for its national security while the Arab ethnics in southern Iran have turned to be a dilemma recently for the central government. Needless to say that Turkish people in Azerbaijan provinces have gotten frustrated by the government's regional policies and Kurds look at Iraq's changes very carefully. So obviously they don’t want to destabilize Iraq. Who knows that how they can do something for the security now. At the time the situation there is over any control.
Iran really wants to talk. But it is not just Iran. Iran is looking for negotiation with the US during the last decade. But they don’t want to have the lower hand. In Khatami’s period, his paradigm was based on the so called “dialogue among civilization model” at least in foreign policy decision making. He tried to approach the Americans in a smooth way. However it didn’t bring any differences while neither Washington nor different fraction of power in Tehran were ready to respond positively. Now, Ahmadinejad believes strongly that the only way to bring the US to the negotiation table is to have the upper hand and force the US to negotiate. To some extent his policy is coming true. The use has believed that it can not live in the Middle East by ignoring the rule of Iran.

But, does the US try to approach Iran by negotiating on its different concern? Or this is just the game to say that the current government in Iran is really dangerous and doesn’t want to support the peace efforts and bring security to the region. Can the US officials imagine sitting beside the Iranians and talking about the security arrangement in the region? Can they forget all the things that are in between? Or because of their estimation about the Iranian society they if they approach Iran, it is possible that the Iranian people force the government to change in a smooth and colorful way like the Ukraine and or Georgia in 2003. Consider that many conservatives in Iran believe that the NO-Peace No-War situation is the best thing for them.

They use the enmity of with the US as a force to dominate their agenda. If they loose it they will loose many things. Something I will talk about it in another comment. Still the question is alive…What will be the achievements of this negotiation? A big deal?

Friday, November 17, 2006


UCLA2- Video sent by omemarian
Other links:
Original Link to

Thursday, November 16, 2006

"Absue of Power in UCLA"?

Have you heard about the story of excessive use of force (with a tazer gun) against a UCLA student by UCPD? It was one of the most disturbing pieces of local news that I have recently heard. Someone recorded the entire altercation and put on YouTube. The student who is of Iranian descent, is stung by a tazer gun repeatedly for refusing to leave thelibrary (when he didn't show his Bruincard: student card). It made the frontpage of LATimes today. You can read thier report here. He just refused to leave the library...Just leaving the library....Keith Olbermann MSNbc anchor in a short report about this event has asked "Who runs UCL? Josef Stalin?" This event has clearly shocked the media.

Regardless of this person's ethnicity, status as a student, etc., this is a case of brutal, unfair and unbelievable action. That's a shame for UCLA, a Shame for Los Angles, and a shame for humanity. Especially for California state, which is among the most diverse and liberal states within the US. However, I was proud to see how quickly media covered this event to ensure everyone became aware of what really happened, something amazing about this country...

Other links:
- NIAC: Call for External Investigation of Brutal Abuse Against Iranian American UCLA Student

- Original Link to MSNbc video report (Thanks Mahmoud)

- UCLA student stunned by Taser plans suit (Los Angles Times)

- Watch this clip on abc

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The New Yorker College Tour; UC Berkeley

My next post on exciting meeting of the editors of the New Yorker weekly at UC Berkeley, a panel moderated by Orville Schell, Dean of the Journalism school of Journalism....

Monday, November 13, 2006

Iran's Quiet Revolution

Deborah Campbell, a Canadian Journalist who has been in Iran several times during the last years, for a few months, has written an in-depth article in Walrus magazine. Walrus format is pretty similar to New Yorker weekly. She has traveled to one of the villages close to Bushehr in southern Iran where one of the nuclear facilities is located. (Full text in Payvand Website- PDF Foramt, Deborah's Website)Her colorful and multi-aspect story, deals with the cultural changes among the Iranian people and specially the transformations in the cultural atmosphere. She was among some of the few journalists who believed the chance of somebody like Ahmadinejad for the presidency is high. In her article Deborah present a fresh, interesting, updated and close picture of the Iranian society. She says how the Iranian society is turning to an open society.

Like for many journalists who travel to Tehran, reporting from Iran is difficult and the society seems very complex. Deborah has attempted extensively to go beyond the stereotypes and also biases which have bounded Iran for a long time. During the time she has been in Iran, she traveled to many cities and even villages to get a close, real and comprehensive portrait of the dynamic of political and social changes regarding to the rise of new wave of conservatism in a Shiite country.

She also has an intelligent and smart observation about the new president Ahmadinejad and his ideas. She has written a few pieces about Iran since 2005.
Debrah says in an interview that nobody wants to go to war in Iran. “Really what they want is to develop the economy situation”.

(Listen to Deborah’s interview here)

“Iran is a complex, even contradictory nation, and in the context of rising tensions and a growing threat of war, the lens through which the West and the Islamic republic view one another has become dangerously blurred. For the West, Iran is a nation of wild-eyed zealots shouting the familiar refrain of marg bar Amrika—death to America. It's an image Iranian authorities have not hesitated to promote in their efforts to quell internal dissent and present the outside world with the image of a fearsome, loyal populace. Yet Iran has changed remarkably in the quarter century since the Islamic revolution, and such reductionism images are deceiving.”

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Discovery channel video clips about Iran is now online: "Iranians speak to Ted Koppel about what's it's like to live inside the "Axis of Evil". There are more than 10 video clips including an nterview with an Iranian blogger and a filmmaker among this nice series of talks. That's interesting...I talked with the producer of this program and I felt that they are going to go there to get a different picute which normally apears on the frontpage of press in the the United States...and there it is.... Does it have any

Friday, November 10, 2006

palestine-Israel Conflict

Conflict - Video sent by omemarian
I was walking through UC Berkeley campus with Arash who writes in Berkeleyforum, when we decided to make a short clip on a student memorial about the killing kinds in the palestine-Israel conflict from bothside. with three charactors. Arash conducted the interviews which was pretty interesting to see how students react to one of the sad conflicts in the world. A student mentioned something about the role of media to reflect the realities of conflicts....when two sides are not covered fairly....

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

A Stable Iraq Will Move Opposition Ayatollahs to Najaf

Here is my interview with Dr Houchang Chahabi in IPS. He is an International Relation professor atBoston University. He believes that stability in Iraq will provide an appropriate field for some of the ranking opposition Ayatollahs in Iran to choose Najaf city in Iraq to criticize the Islamic Republc of Iran. Similiar to Ayatollah Khomeini prior the Revolution:

"A stable state emerges in Iraq, some Iranian clerics who feel uncomfortable about the Iranian state's interference with religious life in Iran might be tempted to go and live in Najaf, a city in Iraq which has for centuries been the centre of Shiite learning. Najaf could also attract more clerics and students from outside Iran and Iraq, diminishing the clout of Iran's regime among Shiites elsewhere."

Sunday, November 05, 2006

The Story of Chalabi...

Here is an article about Ahmad Chalabi, an Iraqi politician, who was at the frontline of the opposition leaders before the 2003 US invasion to Iraq. A colorful story, which shows his connection to Iranians, Iraqis and also the US officials, is written by DEXTER FILKINS.

I met Ahmad Chalabi in Tehran just a few months before the US invasion. He came as a part of delegation to talk with Iranian authorities about the future of Iraq. Kanan Makiya and Mozar Shokat, two prominent Iraqi academic and politicians accompanied him. I interviewed Kanan Makieh at that night and talked a little bit with Chalabi and had dinner with them. Just 10 days before that, Kanan Makieh had met Vice President Dick Cheney. They were so sure that the US will attack Iraq. Chalabi was welcomed by the Iranian authorities like a real leader. They had brought their guards and dogs too. A house in the north Part of the Tehran, Aghdasieh neighborhood, very close to the palace of the Shah, Iran’s last king before revolution, was a calm, peaceful place for the hottest event which was on the way.

Just three years after a bloody attack, both for the Americans and Iraqis, I am sure that they stand on their thought. I heard that Kanan Makieh who has studied on federalism in Iran and also is the author of “Republic of Fear”, has never come back to Iraq. I heard from one of my Iraqi friends that he is afraid of coming back to his country, though. Perhaps some people think that he has been among some Iraqi exiles, who gave the wrong address to the Americans to invade Iraq.

Here a part of this long story….

"In late 2005, I accompanied Chalabi on a trip to Iran, in part to solve the riddle. We drove eastward out of Baghdad, in a convoy as menacing as the one we had ridden in south to Mushkhab earlier in the year. After three hours of weaving and careering, the plains of eastern Iraq halted, and the terrain turned sharply upward into a thick ridge of arid mountains. We had come to Mehran, on one of history’s great fault lines, the historic border between the Ottoman and Persian Empires. As we crossed into Iran, the wreckage and ruin of modern Iraq gave way to swept streets and a tidy border post with shiny bathrooms. Another world.

Then there was the executive jet. When we arrived at the border, Chalabi ducked into a bathroom and changed out of his camouflage T-shirt and slacks and into a well-tailored blue suit. Then we drove to Ilam, where an 11-seat Fokker jet was idling on the runway of the local airport. We jumped in and took off for Tehran, flying over a dramatic landscape of canyons and ravines. We landed in Iran’s smoggy capital, and within a couple of hours, Chalabi was meeting with the highest officials of the Iranian government. One of them was Ali Larijani, the national security adviser.

I interviewed Larijani the next morning. “Our relationship with Mr. Chalabi does not have anything to do with his relationship with the neocons,” he said. His red-rimmed eyes, when I met him at 7 a.m., betrayed a sleepless night. “He is a very constructive and influential figure. He is a very wise man and a very useful person for the future of Iraq." (Continue...)

Also here is an interesting story about Chalabi and former President Khatami in

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Iran's Military maneuver

In response to the naval war games currently underway in the Persian Gulf by the United States and some Gulf states, Iranian military officials announced that they will hold a 9-day naval exercise in the Gulf of Oman and the Persian Gulf. An informed official anonymously told Entekhab online daily, “In this maneuver we will test different kinds of missiles including new ultra-modern and long-range missiles, cluster missiles and anti-helicopter Katyusha missiles. We will also examine underwater mines and submarines.”

The commander of the Iran's Revolutionary Guards, Major General Rahim Safavi explained the purpose of the exercise, which was to start on Thursday in these words: “The main purpose of this maneuver is to demonstrate Iran’s willingness to defend itself against any type of aggression.” This naval exercise, dubbed the “Great Prophet,” will also include the testing of Shahab-3 missile that has a range of 1300 to 2000 kilometers.

Rahim Safavi further said that, “Iran’s naval maneuver is not a threat against the region or Iran’s neighbors, whom Iran looks to as friends.” Safavi believes that the U.S. military exercise is a propaganda effort and without any military value.

Another purpose of this maneuver, in Safavi’s view, is to prepare and enhance the Revolutionary Guard’s capability to respond to possible threats: “The Revolutionary Guard’s air division will participate in this exercise in the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman by firing tens of missiles including Shahab-3 and Shahab-2 with cluster warheads, Fateh-110 and Zolfaghar-73, also different kinds of rockets and missiles and manned and unmanned airplanes.”

On the other hand, the former head of Iran’s National Security Council, Hassan Rohani told reporters, “Our exercise is not about the nuclear issue because any country makes defensive preparations in proportion to the threats it faces. This exercise is being carried out to keep Iran’s armed forced prepared and up-to-date.” Rohani, who is also the head of the Council of Experts’ Strategic Studies Center, regards the U.S. maneuver in the Persian Gulf as a signal to Iran: “This maneuver is a signal from the U.S. and the West to us. But Iran is neither planning to fight anyone nor is it pursuing nuclear weapons, thus negating the need to send us such a signal.” Rohani also declared, “The nuclear issue is not something we can’t resolve or have to resort through confrontation.”