May 29, 2008

It's economically efficient to donate 500 million dollars to Lebanese Hizbollah

According to (Iranian, reformist e-journal), a pro-IRI analyst was recently quoted as saying: "with an oil price of about 120$ per barrel, Iran earns 340 million dollars a day, and 125 billion dollars annually… if we conduct any trouble in Lebanon and if this happens to increase oil prices by 3 dollars per barrel, a sum of about 3 billion dollars will be added to our annual income. Therefore it's economically efficient to donate 500 million dollars to Lebanese Hizbollah."

May 25, 2008

Minorities in Iran

Here is my comment to a post in MEY about Minorities in Iran, which tries to maintain that Islamic Republic of Iran is systematically and deliberately persecuting religious/ethnic minorities.
Some of the details you mentioned in this post are probably incorrect or exaggerated (namely gang-raping Zoroastrian girls and ban on music, respectively). In addition some improvements have been made in recent years, for example in the case of 'Bill of Retribution' which finally made the blood money of a non-Muslim equal to that of a Muslim. Moreover officials usually shut their eyes to some of the laws passed by authorities, for example about liquor or pork; you may easily find them in Christian-dominated districts (last week prices of Isfahan: a pork-burger, just 4 dollars).

By the way, I generally agree that minorities (either religious or ethnic ones) are being systematically mistreated in Iran. However it should be noted that socio-political phenomena often follow a continuous pattern throughout both history and region. Therefore if one focuses on one certain episode while ignoring the broader historical and regional contexts, his conclusion is susceptible to flaw.

Firstly, with regards to broader historical context, I have to mention that such discriminations are usually a legacy of the past. (This, however, does not mean that IRI did not contribute to them.) For example about Shiite-Sunni conflict, a balanced view has to consider the events of even 7 centuries ago, even including Safavid-Ottoman wars. Long standing conflicts and lack of dialogue have made such harsh sentiments among Shiite people toward Sunnis that even if IRI decides to remove legal bans, social discrimination continues to exist. And though such 'harsh sentiments' does not usually turn into violent acts, they often translate into political, systematic discrimination thanks to lack of a democratic temperament in Iran (neither socially nor politically). To an extent, same analysis applies to Bahai faith.

Secondly, with regards to broader regional context, it should be noted that regional or even global interactions somehow affect the issue of interest. For example, people rarely distinguish a Jewish businessman from soldiers who allegedly shot Muhammad al-Dura. Or when they hear of rumors/stories of Shiite being persecuted in Saudi Arabia, they can hardly endorse a Sunni mosque in downtown. I know that this is not fair. The solution, however, does not flow from the upward.

May 20, 2008

Art of Simplicity

Back from a 2 day conference on Media & Communication in Tehran (below photo), on our way to train station, I and some of my friends were speaking about the topics of conference. The discussion led to a debate on different philosophies of communication. Right at this point, hearing the terms 'philosophy' and 'media', taxi driver asked us: "so, from your view, what is the philosophy of Nancy Ajram?" He was apparently a fan of the Arab singer.

This interruption, though seemingly naïve in the first glance, was deep enough to make me think about it for a while. All the professors we meet in such conferences, with all the tribunes they have, can hardly communicate their message(s) to public audience as effectively as Nancy Ajram does. More surprising is that Nancy speaks a different language, and her success in Iran is mostly due to her well-directed, story-telling video clips.

What is the secret to effectively speaking to public audience? I recall Hanibal Lecter in 'the Silence of the Lambs', saying: "first principle is, Claris, simplicity." Be simple and easily understandable, and people will follow you and sympathize with you as a real element; be complicated, and you will become the make-believe part of the story.

One may claim that 'simplicity' is the exclusive profession of Art. I, however, think that Simplicity is itself an Art; an art that many enlightened figures and thinkers unfortunately lack. People's day-to-day problems are simple, and they expect simple answers for their problems. But enlightened thinkers, who may know the solution much better than others, use complicated words to communicate an even more complicated thought. Here appears a gap between people's demand and thinkers' supply. And in Iran, Ahmadinejad is an example of those who take advantage of this gap. He speaks in a simple manner, and is easily understandable. He offers simple solutions (though his solutions may practically turn into nightmares). And in this sense, Ahmadinejad is an artist. This is why that taxi driver, that fan of Nancy Ajram, had hung a picture of Ahmadinejad in his car.


Conference, under the auspices of Youth National Organization

Ayatollah Haj-Ali Akbari, Head of Youth National Organization

May 17, 2008

Practical guidelines for homo***uals who are about to visit Iran

Here is a funny excerpt of "Practical Guide for Tourists", a series of guidelines for those who are about to visit Iran:

Note: I had to replace 'homosexual' with 'homo***uals', because Iran's intelligent filters block almost every page which has this word in its addresses.

May 16, 2008

On the current tension in Lebanon

Here is my comment to "Mullahs’ Whim in Lebanon" which claims speaks of Iran's role in the current tension in Lebanon and Arab countries' reaction to it.
Sustainable stability may never be achieved unless a balance of power comes into existence. In the world’s new order, it was Superpower’s duty to maintain the balance of power. However, right now the only Superpower’s position is frankly in favor of Israel: it has decided to side with Israel, whatever the reasons.
On the other side of the battle, Hizbollah is probably the only armed group which may balance the power struggle with Israel in the Mideast, at least in a psychological level. So, to my view, the American-induced decision of Lebanese administration to destruct this power balance is what might be called an act of destabilizing.
Let me make it clear: I really believe that an armed party is more of a nightmare to the political interactions of both the country and the region. When ‘guns’ find their way in political conflicts, they mark an end to the peace. BUT it’s almost naïve to believe that Hizbollah is merely the product of Iranian/Syrian masterminds. Hizbollah finds its roots in the wrong policies of the US in the Mideast.
Another point is Arab countries’ reactions (mostly that of Saudi Arabia) to the current conflict. I think that Arab countries prefer to have Hizbollah under their own control. In other words, they like the Hizbollah, but not an Iranian-driven Hizbollah. They, however, will not side with US to end the life of Iranian-driven Hizbollah, for this undermines their position against Israel. Thus I think that such reactions are just to remind Iran that “Ana Sharik” (I’m a partner), and Arab leaders don’t want the currant tension to lead to a real confrontation with Iran.

May 10, 2008

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, what if Israel attacks Iran and you are elected as president of the USA?

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinto

US Presidential Candidate

Your Excellency,

In one of your recent campaign interviews you stated that: "I want the Iranians to know that if I'm the president, we will attack Iran. . . . In the next 10 years, during which they might foolishly consider launching an attack on Israel, we would be able to totally obliterate them" (Interview with ABC).

This is not different from President Bush's stated policy towards Iran. The logic of threatening a total obliteration of Iran, possible only through a nuclear holocaust, is based on the "right of power", not the "power of the right".

As you may know, chapter I, article II of the United Nations Charter states that:
"All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations."

Regardless of any hypothetical attack on Israel, the United States is legally bound not to threaten Iran or any other country. In addition to the UN Charter, the US constitution prohibits such threatening policies. Article IV Clause II states:

"This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding."

As an Iranian, I feel compelled to ask you some questions. First, why are you threatening "the Iranians"? Second, if Israel attacks Iran and you are elected as president of the USA, what would then be your policy and position?

I do not agree with the rhetorical statements and foreign policies of Dr. Ahmadinejad, the President of Islamic Republic of Iran. However, while the military capability of Iran to attack Israel is questionable, Israel's capabilities concerning the conventional and non-conventional armaments to attack Iran is beyond any doubt.

With respect

Ebrahim Yazdi,Secretary General, Freedom Movement of Iran and

Former Foreign Minister, Islamic Republic of Iran

May 6th, 2008
Ebrahim Yazdi was the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the interim government of Mehdi Bazargan until 6 November 1979, when he, along with the rest of the Bazargan cabinet, resigned in protest of the takeover of the United States Embassy by the Muslim Student Followers of the Imam's Line.


May 4, 2008

President Ahmadinejad and smoking revival

Last winter, Iran’s Health Ministry in cooperation with Police Forces tried to stop all traditional cafés from serving Qalyan (water pipe) to the customers. It should be noted that two general type of Qalyan have been available in such places: Traditional Qalyan which contains pure tobacco and dates back to several centuries ago, and relatively newer Fruit Qalyan which contains fruit-flavored tobacco. Officials of Health Ministry were determined to at least stop Fruit Qalyan, claiming that its tobacco is of a lower quality and the chemicals used for flavoring the tobacco are highly hazardous. By the way, this act was somehow associated with a broader plan aiming at banning public smoking.

Police forces warned all of the café owners to stop serving Qalyan (or any other kind of smoke) or they would be prosecuted. Some café owners tried to resist, who were finally fined and their shops were closed.

Since Qalyan was the main source of income for such cafés (which used to serve tea, Qalyan and few traditional snacks and foods), most of them experienced a rapid decrease of revenues so that many of them decided to close the shops.

Few weeks later, President Ahmadinejad directly ordered Ministry of State (who is in charge of Police Forces) to abolish the crack down. Since then Qalyan is again available. Yeah, that day was “the re-birth of café owners of Iran” as the below poster states. This poster is available in many traditional cafés, expressing the very thanks of café owners to “beloved, popular president” of Iran. It reads: “thank you, thank you!”