Category Archives: Iran

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

     
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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?………….

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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…………

     
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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

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

     
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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

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Wilayat el-Faqih Comes to Saudi Arabia, Music and Isotopes……..

     
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Saudi King Abdullah issued a royal decree yesterday making it illegal to criticize the chief cleric, the Mufti of Saudi Arabia, and other clergy. The king, with a simple decree, made Shaikh Abdelaziz Al Al Shaikh infallible. Now Shaikh Al is more infallible than the Prophet Mohammed was (people were free to criticize him fourteen centuries ago). He is more infallible than a Catholic (or Orthodox) saint. His pronouncements are now as holy as he himself is perceived (if you get my drift, and depending on one’s point of view). The royal family is simply returning the favors done by the clergy, the most recent of which was condemning protests against governments as un-Islamic, haram, taboo (except in Libya and possibly in Syria), but especially in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.
Now the Saudis are inching closer to the Iranian system of government: a supreme clergy (wilayat al-faqih in Arabic, or vilayat e-faqih in Persian). But alas, Shaikh Al is still subservient to the al-Saud: like all Arab muftis he tailors his fatwas to fit their needs. Besides, in theocratic Iran there is only one permanent life-time job: that of supreme leader, Khamenei (Ahmadinejad leaves in 2013, and not a minute too soon). Under the Saudi system there are two top ones: the king and the mufti. Come to think of it, there are many more lifetime jobs, as many as there are princes (+the mufti).

(Repetition: Shaikh Abdelaziz Al Al Shaikh is a direct descendant of “Imam” Mohammad Bin Abdelwahab the (now long dead) zealot from Nejd after whom Wahhabism is named. There are several of the Al Al Shaikh holding high ministerial positions in Saudi Arabia, always have been. They are given different numbers to distinguish them from each other, sort of like isotopes in chemistry (or ought to be). Imam Mohammad Bin Abdelwahab should not be confused the late great Egyptian singer, composer, (and occasional plagiarizer) Mohammed Abdelwahab who was not a Salafi or a fundamentalist but did have some great songs).

Cheers
mhg

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The Battle for Iran: the Arab Factor, La Marseillaise………….

     
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Que veut cette horde d’esclaves         What do they want this horde of slaves
De traîtres, de rois conjurés?                Of traitors and conspiratorial kings?
Pour qui ces ignobles entraves              For whom these vile chains
Ces fers dès longtemps préparés?           These long-prepared irons?
Français, pour nous, ah! quel outrage        Frenchmen, for us, ah! What outrage
Quels transports il doit exciter?                What methods must be taken?
C’est nous qu’on ose méditer                    It is us they dare plan
De rendre à l’antique esclavage!
             To return to the old slavery!……La Marseillaise

Iranian sources report that the dispute (s) between President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the conservative clergy led by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei continues. Apparently Ahmadinejad has his supporters among some parliamentarians and within the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC). Two recent developments highlight this dispute: (1) the removal of Mr. Mashaie as chief of presidential staff and (2) the removal then reinstatement of the minister of intelligence. Mr. Mashaie is a suspect among the more conservative clergy and politicians: he has been accused of pushing Iranian nationalism and culture over the Islamic identity (probably a good election position among mullah-weary urban Iranians). The minister of intelligence (Mr. Moslehi) was forced to resign by Ahmadinejad but the more powerful Khamenei has reinstated him. Some exile media report that Ahmadinejad has been boycotting cabinet meetings since the reinstatement of Moslehi.
Mr. Mashaie is almost certainly the favorite choice of Ahmadinejad to run for president in 2013 when he has to step down. He will have a hard time now if he decides to run. He may get approval from the clergy to run, but his chances depend on who, if any, is running on the reform or ‘opposition’ side. It looks like that after the Khatemi experience and the 2009 election dispute, the senior clergy may vet potential candidates more carefully. That would insure the election of a conservative president but it would also increase the pressure among young Iranians yearning for change and more freedom.
A year or two ago, silent docile Arab peoples looked at the Iranians protesting in the streets and wondered: why not, why not us? Just as they did during the Iranian revolution in 1978-79. Now the Arabs are having their revolutions, with the reactionary Arab forces led by the al-Saud and their allies trying to stop and subvert them. Now the Iranians may start wondering as they look at the Arabs: why not, why not us, again?
Cheers
mhg

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Shirin Ebadi on Obama and Bahrain……….

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“The Obama administration is making a major misstep by “closing its eyes” to the violent government crackdown on protesters in Bahrain and leaving the door open for Iran to influence the small oil-producing nation and U.S. ally, Nobel Peace laureate Shirin Ebadi said Friday. “In the absence of the West in Bahrain, the government of Iran can of course influence and exploit the revolution,” Ebadi, the Iranian-born human rights activist, author and former judge who has been living in exile since 2009, said in an interview at The Washington Post. Ebadi highlighted Sunni-led Bahrain, which is a majority-Shiite nation like Iran that has used violence to stop recent protests…….

I bet not a single media outlet in the Persian-American Gulf will ever carry this news item. They always headline Shirin Ebadi’s comments against the Iranian regime, and rightly so. Not single newspaper “anywhere” on the Gulf will carry this news item.
Cheers
mhg

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Iranian Schizophrenia: Fars News Headlines in One Day………..

     
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Iran’s official Fars News Agency had a group of interesting headlines about the Gulf today. They seem to be moving in different directions. I suspect it is because there are different centers of power with different views inside Iran. Oddly, there was nothing from Ahmadinejad. The only way to get one consistent point of view expressed is for Ayatollah Khamenei to issue them directly, a task which would probably give him an infarct:


  • Envoy: Tehran Resolved to Expand Ties with Islamic, Arab States: Expanding ties with Islamic and Arab states is among the Islamic Republic of Iran’s principal policies, a senior Iranian diplomat underlined on Wednesday.

  • Senior MP Blasts PGCC for Attempts to Promote Iranophobia: A senior Iranian legislator lambasted the attempts made by the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council (PGCC) to spread Iranophobia in the region, and said the move is part of the plots hatched to derail the world public opinion from the current developments and uprisings in the region.

  • Iran Renews Concerns about Riyadh, Manama’s Crimes against People: Head of the Iranian parliament’s Human Rights Committee Zohreh Elahian in a letter to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights voiced Iran’s deep concern about the crimes committed by Manama and its foreign military allies against the Bahraini people.

  • Iran Ready to Stage Joint Wargames with Regional Countries: Iran’s Armed Forces are prepared to stage joint military exercises with the regional countries in a bid to show that the regional states can restore peace and security.


Interesting, n’est-ce pas? But then again inconsistency is the case in the West as well. For example, the United States government and France want to spread democracy and freedom in the Middle East but insist that it be done through the use of Saudi money and arms.
They may hope to get the Saudi type of democracy all over our region.
Cheers
mhg

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Rumi: Iranian Cleric Mixes Bestiality with Politics……….

     
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A racy allusion in a Friday prayer sermon by Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati has become the talk of Iran. He invoked a well-known poem about an intimate coupling between a maidservant and a donkey to issue a warning to opposition supporters. “The foe always try to use psychological warfare against the Islamic regime to tarnish the image of the system inside and outside the country,” he said (Persian link). “Therefore, I tell them, the enemies, to go and study the story of the pumpkin.” The “pumpkin” refers to a famous story by the 13th century mystical poet Rumi, “The Importance of Gourdcrafting,” in which a resourceful maidservant who sleeps with a donkey uses a pumpkin as a marital aid. When the lady of the house catches on, she decides to follow suit. But rather than consulting the maidservant she sends her away without obtaining the secret of the pumpkin, and is killed by the donkey. The story is intended as a parable about the dangers of immoderation……….”

Interesting. He seems to be comparing the Iranian regime to an ass without meaning to. Or am I wrong?
Cheers
mhg

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