Category Archives: Iran

Following Laika and Armstrong: Abu Dhabi and Iran Head Into Space………

   Rattlesnake Ridge   Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter   

 
      BFF
The world could soon see the first Emirati in space, as the Global Space and Satellite Forum 2011 (GSSF)focused on developing the regional space industry’s experts of the future. During the final day of GSSF, senior representatives from the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) delivered an interactive UAE Space Career and Exploration video uplink to a gathering of aspiring Emirati astronauts and space industry hopefuls. Dr Omar Al Emam, Voluntary Space Technology Advisor, Arab Science and Technology Foundation (ASTF), spoke about the work of the NASA Lunar Science Institute in California and the importance of hands-on space technology for the youth of the region..……..

Space exploration sure has come a long way. Soviet Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin was the first man in space. I believe Alan Shepard (?) was the first American in space, although Neil Armstrong is the most known. In addition to so many humans having gone into space, there are many of other species as well. The Soviet Union, the first country to invade space, sent the first dog and first human into orbit in space (not together). Laika, a dedicated communist whom some Russians suspected of being a secret Trotskyite, was the first dog and her name means “barker”, as in woof woof. The Americans also sent many animals over time. The most popular animals for sending into space were your nearest cousins the simians. Which makes sense.
The UAE is hoping to send an astronaut into space aboard an American spaceship. The Saudis sent one of their princes on an American mission during the 1980s. When the prince landed back on Earth safely he was asked what was the toughest task he faced in space, and his answer was typical “I had a hard time determining which way to face Mecca”. The prince was a pilot but apparently he was no scientist. I understand that he was never asked another question again.
Back to the United Arab Emirates: it is not clear who they will send if NASA agrees, some years down the road. Can it be another shaikh? I doubt that Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed al-Nahayn, ruler of Abu Dhabi will go: he is probably too old and looks rather lumpy. Shaikh Mohammed of Dubai looks too damn serious for anyone to be locked up with in a small spaceship. All the other Bin Zayed al-Nahayan don’t look any more cheerful for company. I was going to nominate their foreign minister Shaikh Abdullah Bin Zayed al-Nahayn, Metternich of Abu Dhabi, but then who will run the march of our world toward peace and democracy in his absence?
The Iranians have also been threatening to send a man into space during this decade. They already have some satellites up and will launch more this year or next. They have not announced yet whether their spaceman will be a mullah (cleric) or a ‘civilian’. Ahmadinejad will be out of office by that time, which may mean something in this context, or maybe not.
Cheers
mhg




m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

An Iranian Exorcist, Saudi Muftis, Egyptian Abdelwahhab…………….

   Rattlesnake Ridge   Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter   

 
      BFF
Twenty-five close collaborators and supporters of Iran’s president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his influential Chief of Staff, Esfandyar Rahim Mashai, have been arrested, allegedly including “exorcist” or “djinn catcher” Abbas Ghaffari. Many speculate this is due to a quarrel between Ahmadinejad and the Islamic Republic’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei over the resignation of Iran’s minister of intelligence. Last week, Morteza Nabavi, a conservative politician, accused [fa] team Ahmadinejad of thinking they were being empowered by djinns or genies. In a cabinet meeting on Sunday 8 May, 2011, Ahmadinejad responded by dismissing [fa] the notion that he has exorcists in his government as a joke. You can watch the video here [fa]……..

As if he has not had enough quarrels, Ahamadinejad is reported to have lost other allies, including his indispensable Jinn catcher. Many of us think, erroneously, that only Catholics have Jinn catchers, or exorcists. We all do. What do you think all these official Muftis are? Egypt’s al-Azhar Mufti was appointed by Hosni Mubarak from within his own ruling party, and his job was to chase away any notion that the rule of a dictator may be un-Islamic. He tried to do his job, condemning the revolutionaries before and after January 25. But he has seen the light, apparently. Then there is that other great palace exorcist, the Saudi Mufti Shaikh Al Al Shaikh. He did his best to exorcise the Jinns of revolution and protest from the streets of Riyadh and Jeddah, and he succeeded. Shaikh Al Al Shaikh failed in the Eastern Province, but then these guys (and gals) in Qatif and Dhahran are not supposed to be true Muslims anyway, according the the not-s-secret teachings of Al and his ilk.
One advantage of an exorcist being part of the regimes: he won’t go to prison and get flogged in Iran and he won’t get flogged and beheaded in Saudi Arabia.
(FYI, only for those who are new to my blog: Shaikh Al Al-Shaikh is a direct descendant of Shaikh (a k a Imam) Mohammed Bin Abdulwahhab after whom the term “Wahhabi” was named. He was from the Najd area and should not be confused with the late great Egyptian musician and singer Mohammed Abdelwahhab who was not a Salafi (nor a Shi’a nor a Mthodist). Did I write that there are many Al Al-Shaikhs in various high positions in the Saudi state? Did I also write that I enjoyed the songs of Abdelwahhab, including al-Gondool, Cleopatra, al-Nahr al-Khaled, etc)
Cheers
mhg




m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Ahmadinejad (and Obama) in a New Fight with Parliament………

   Rattlesnake Ridge   Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter   

 
      BFF
A blazing row has erupted between President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and parliament speaker Ali Larijani over the restructuring of ministries, media reports said on Thursday, in a fresh sign of tension in Iran’s ruling conservative camp. The row comes shortly after an unprecedented rift surfaced between Ahmadinejad and supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei which saw the president disappear from public life for nearly two weeks. Larijani, an ardent critic of the president who was defeated by Ahmadinejad in 2005 presidential elections, publicly accused the president on Wednesday of “violating the law” by not following parliamentary procedures on the merger of ministries. “If the government has ambiguities in understanding the law, the parliament can explain the law to the government,” the reformist Arman newspaper on Thursday quoted Larijani as saying in sharp remarks aimed at Ahmadinejad. At the centre of the row are government proposals to merge several ministries, including energy and oil, so as to reduce their numbers to 17 from 21 in accordance with a overarching five year plan……..

No sooner was the powder dry from his losing skirmish with Khamenei than Ahmadinejad was in another fight, this time with Parliament and its Speaker Ali Larijani. This one is also about the allocation of power. But this is a rehash: presidents are always in a struggle with legislatures, just ask Mr. Obama. It seems that Mr. Ahmadinejad has serious problems with people named Ali. It is also notable that as we get closer to the next election round in Iran, these political and policy tensions erupt into public disputes. It is a common fight between the executive and legislative branches of government over political turf and policy goals.
Cheers
mhg




m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Ahmadinejad Bows to Khamenei: no Iranian Trotsky………

   Rattlesnake Ridge   Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter   

 
      BFF
President stressed the importance of the Rule of Just Jurisprudent (Velayat-e-Faqih) and said the government would serve Islam, the Islamic Revolution and the nation. President Ahmadinejad made the remarks during the cabinet session in Tehran. Dr.Ahmadinejad said that his government would continue defending the Rule of Just Jurisprudent. President urged all officials to defend the notion of Supreme Jurisprudence which has been inherited by Iranians throughout centuries. ‘I hope all those who have been deviated from the true path of Supreme Jurisprudence to return to the reality,’ President Ahmadinejad said………

Also Sprach the official website of Iran’s president.
So, after several weeks of tension and political poker, or is it chess, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has thrown in the towel and accepted the supremacy of Ayatollah Khamenei. Like any good Iranian president since the very second one, he has acceded to the wishes of the Supreme Jurisprudent, reinstating the minister of intelligence he had sacked a few weeks ago. In doing so, he has underlined that Iran is indeed a theocracy.
Only one Iranian president has ever defied the “leader” in a sustained way, and that was the first president of the Islamic Republic, Abulhassan Bani-Sadr, who had to escape to France quickly before his arrest. But Bani-Sadr was mot pitted against just any “Supreme Leader”; he was pitted against Ayatollah Khomenei, father of the republic.
For a few days it looked like Ahmadinejad would hold the line and end up losing his job (but saving his principles). It would have been intriguing: Ahmadinejad as an unlikely rebel against the system that made him a leader. An Iranian Trotsky, if you will (okay, I agree it is a stretch). But, like the reformist Mohammed Khatemi before him, he decided to cling to the job. Oh well, now we really know who is the boss.
Cheers
mhg




m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Iran: Will Ahmadinejad Follow Bani-Sadr?………..

     
Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter

 

      My BFF
An unprecedented power struggle at the heart of the Iranian regime has intensified after it emerged that the supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, had given an ultimatum to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to accept his intervention in a cabinet appointment or resign…… The extraordinary confrontation came to light after Ahmadinejad declined to officially support Khamenei’s reinstatement of a minister whom the president had initially asked to resign. The rift between the two men grew when the president staged an 11-day walkout in an apparent protest at Khamenei’s decision. In the first cabinet meeting since ending his protest, the intelligence minister at the centre of the row, Heydar Moslehi, was absent and in the second one on Wednesday, he was reportedly asked by Ahmadinejad to leave…….

In 1981, Iran’s first elected president Abolhassan Bani-Sadr fled the country after disagreements with the powerful ayatollahs. Now Ahmadinejad may face the same fate. He has been asked by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to re-instate the minister of intelligence (a cleric) or resign. He seems reluctant to cede on this issue, and may resign. He is a stubborn person and may just defy the Ayatollah and refuse to resign. That is why some clerics are threatening charges of ‘heresy’ if he disagrees: an elected president openly defying the unelected Ayatollah can be a thorny issue for the regime. It may focus more attention of the unelected post of “Supreme Leader”. It may re-invigorate the silenced opposition.
Cheers
mhg

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Iran’s Political Wars: an Epiphany for Ahmadinejad?………

     
Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter

 

 
      My BFF
Although it was predictable that the Moslehi affair would be costly for President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his camp, the extent of the toll for his defiance of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is only now becoming clear. According to the Etedaal newspaper and website, several people close to Ahmadinejad and his chief of staff, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, have been arrested by security services. (Etedaal originally reported that 25 people were arrested in the sweep, but later issued a correction indicating that the actual total was substantially lower…….)

The arrests come amid a growing rift between Ahmadinejad and Khamenei which has prompted several MPs to call for the president to be impeached. On Sunday, Ahmadinejad returned to his office after an 11-day walkout in an apparent protest over Khamenei’s reinstatement of the intelligence minister, who the president had initially asked to resign. Ahmadinejad’s unprecedented disobedience prompted harsh criticism from conservatives who warned that he might face the fate of Abdulhassan Banisadr, Iran’s first post-revolution president who was impeached and exiled for allegedly attempting to undermine clerical power……

Did Ahmadinejad have an epiphany?
It looks like
Ahmadinejad has been trying to undermine the rule of the mullahs, his former allies. This was bound to happen with someone of Ahamadinejad’s aggressive personality. It is the eternal struggle between the theocrats who want to keep power and the ‘elected’ civilians who decide that they want to push them back into the mosques and seminaries. Apparently at some point in his second and last term in office Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has come to see the necessity of reducing the power of all these mullahs in government. He seems to have reached the inevitable conclusion all civilian presidents reach: the clergy should stick to their mosques and seminaries and leave the government to the ‘elected’ civilians. That is how I see it, although Ahmadinejad and his allies are not saying so openly. Possibly the mismanagement of the economy and foreign affairs were the last straw. The next few months should be very interesting in Iranian politics, as both sides maneuver for the elections of 2013. It will possibly be a power struggle unseen in Iran since the early 1980s.
Cheers
mhg




m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Qatar and Oman: Is Iran Cracking the GCC Front?………….

      Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter

 

 
      My BFF
Sultan Qaboos said that regional states should keep vigilant toward the plots of sowing discord in the region. Referring to the latest developments in the region, he called for an urgent settlement to the problems and heed the demands of the people. Iran-Oman excellent ties will ensure interests of the two countries and the entire regional nations, he said. Salehi arrived in the Omani capital city of Muscat on Wednesday morning. He was warmly welcomed by his Omani Counterpart Youssef bin Alawi. “Without doubt, Salehi’s first visit to Oman would be constructive,” bin Alawi said. Bin Alawi added the visit is the best opportunity to foster mutual ties. Omani government is keen to enhance Tehran-Muscat cooperation, he noted. Iran and Oman have expanded cooperation in a variety of areas such as economy and defense since Iran’s President Ahmadinejad took office in 2005. The two countries signed a security agreement in August 2009….Fars News (Iran)

Just before this Salehi visit to Oman, he had been in Qatar. Even during the peak of the Arab revolutions and the Bahraini regime crackdown on the people’s uprising last March, high Omani officials and the Qatari crown prince were in Tehran for the celebration of Nouruz, the Iranian New Year. As I have posted before here, Oman has always marched to its own music, paying lip service to the Saudi-driven GCC band. Oman has always looked across the seas, even long after its territorial interests in East Africa were gone.
Qatar has been an active thorn in the Saudi side, although the Qatari regime has moved closer to the Saudi position as the Arab revolution moved closer to the Persian-American Gulf. But there is serious bad blood between Doha and Riyadh, ever since the 1990s when Saudi Arabia was involved in a plot to overthrow the Emir of Qatar. Several high ranking Saudi security officers were sentenced to prison in Qatar for their role and were only released a year or so ago. They returned to a heroes’ welcome by the al-Saud princes in Riyadh.
Cheers
mhg




m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Incomplete Iranian View of Bin Laden and his Genesis…………

     
Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter

 

 
      My BFF
The death of Osama bin Laden brought closure to many people around the world, especially those who lost loved ones in the September 11 attacks or other terrorist acts that were conducted or inspired by Bin Laden and his Al-Qaeda network. Bin Laden is associated with murder and terror. Bin Laden claimed that his war was against those he called “infidels” but the victims of his shadowy Al-Qaeda network were mostly Muslims, and thus he and his death machine did the greatest injustice and harm to Islam and Muslims. Thousands of children have been orphaned in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan just because Al-Qaeda decided to use these countries as battlefields for taking revenge against the United States. Despotic Arab rulers and Western countries, especially the United States, are responsible for the emergence of people like Osama Bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri. Bin Laden and his Arab comrades were supported by the United States and certain European and Arab countries in the war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. To counter the Soviets in Afghanistan, the CIA provoked the people’s religious sentiments and used religious fanaticism as the strongest tool against forces that the CIA and other intelligence agencies called kafirs (unbelievers), and thus planted the seeds of extremism in the region…….Mehr News (Iran)

On the face of it, nothing seems new here: it is the usual Western view of the emergence of the Salafi terrorist group under Bin Laden. Yet oddly this Iranian view completely ignores the deeper genesis of Bin Ladenism and the al-Qaeda: the Salafi educational system and the Wahhabi religious teachings in Saudi Arabia. This Salafi teaching of the exclusion and hatred of the “other” has spread to other places, especially in poverty-stricken regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan and Indonesia through Saudi schools and clerics. I know firsthand that it has also spread to some GCC Gulf states through Saudi-trained Salafi clerics and activists.
An interesting reluctance on the part of the Iranians; even as senior state-sponsored Saudi clerics wage a vicious media and mosque and fatwa war against “other” Islamic sects, unjustly tying them to the Iranian mullahs.
Cheers
mhg

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Israeli Warplanes in Iraq: Iranian Paranoia? Iraqi Rumors? Saudi Hopes?………

     
Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter

 

 
      My BFF
Iranian media report that Israeli jet fighters have conducted drills at an American military base in Iraq in preparation for an attack on Iran. Press TV quotes a source close to prominent Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sader’s group that a considerable number of Israeli warplanes were seen at the al-Asad base in Iraq. The aircraft reportedly included F-15, F-16, F-18, F-22, and KC-10 jet fighters. The warplanes allegedly carried out their week-long exercises at night. The drills were reportedly aimed at preparing to strike Iran’s air defense systems, disrupt Iran’s radars and attack targets deep inside Iran. Iraqi officials had not been notified of the exercises, which were conducted in collaboration with the US military. The United States operates several bases in Iraq whose future status is not clear yet and the Baghdad government is not involved in any of the military deployments taking place there.

I personally doubt all this: not only will it be futile, but it may divert attention back to the Palestine-Israeli issue and those ever expanding settlements. Yet it is tempting to dismiss all this as Iraqi rumors feeding Iranian paranoia. But one must remember: it is often at times when all seem to be quite that such attacks occur. From Operation Barbarossa to Pearl Harbor to the Ozirak attack to September 11, this has been the pattern (not always, but often).
Meanwhile, the Israelis are being their characteristic selves about this issue, the Iranians worry, and the rulers of Saudi Arabia are probably praying again (for such an attack to happen). I was going to add the shaikhs of UAE and Bahrain, but then I remembered that they don’t count anymore.
Cheers
mhg

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com