Category Archives: Iran

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

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

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

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Fifth Columns in the Gulf: Iranian Threat, Saudi Threat……….

     
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For some years now, it has been perceived by many that the only threat to the Gulf states, the GCC, came from Iran. Iran is a large strong country that is quite militarized and it has been expanding its sphere of influence well beyond the Gulf and the Shatt al-Arab in recent years. It also has an ancient history of domination of the region up to the Mediterranean Sea and into Egypt. Political changes in Iraq after the fall of the Ba’ath regime amplified the notion of a modern Iranian threat. The defeat of the Israeli invasions of Lebanon by Hezbollah in 2000 and 2006 also amplified this Iranian threat around the Gulf, given that Hezbollah depends on Iranian money and weapons.
The Saudi government has focused on the Iranian threat since at least 2005. By that time the Saudis had acquired and built the largest media empire anywhere in Europe and the Middle East: newspapers, satellite television channels, magazines, and general entertainment outlets, Only Aljazeera stood as the competition to Saudi domination of Arab media. Alarabiya, Asharq Alawsat, al-Hayat, ART, LBC, MBC, Rotana, etc, etc: these are all Saudi owned, either by princes or their relatives, and hence they are all official or semi-official media.

In the past few years the vast Saudi media started to amplify the “Iranian threat”. So far so good: that is fair enough among governments and nations. It also started to do some serious sectarian “Shi’a-baiting”, slowly at first but gathering speed after 2006. Soon they were all but accusing the local native Shi’as of their Eastern Province of being a fifth column (in their own native territory that preceded the arrival of the Saudi invaders from Najd). They were joined in that by allies from among the Arab despots such as Mubarak and King Abdul of Jordan. Mubarak’s state security started to uncover “Shi’a cells” dedicated to converting Egyptians. King Abdul of Jordan reportedly established a special branch of his security services dedicated to hunting down Shi’as bent on spreading their “faith”. I suspect all this was to keep the al-Saud and their Wahhabi clerics happy.
Not that the Iranians could not have been a threat. A huge militarized country like Iran can always pose a threat to its smaller “neighbors” under certain circumstances. If one chooses to disregard the huge American navy and other Western forces controlling the Gulf.

Then came the Arab revolutions which spread eastward and into Bahrain, an island that practices its own version of Apartheid. Before Bahrain, the al-Saud and their fundamentalist Salafi agents have been for some years trying to disrupt and sabotage the political process in another member country of the GCC. There is no political process in Saudi Arabia. The Bahrain uprising and the Saudi incursion divided the Gulf region deeper along sectarian lines, and much of the blame for that goes to the Saudi and official Bahraini media and their agents in another Gulf state. The goal has been to scare people and throw them into the lap of the Saudis: an old game often played by nations. And to kill the Arab Spring on the shores of the Gulf, in the bloodied streets of Manama and the villages of Bahrain.

Now a combination of seeing the tanks rolling easily into Bahrain and calls by Saudi Salafi surrogates for a Gulf “confederation” under Saudi control is giving some Gulf people second thoughts. Some people, hopefully enough people. The tanks rolled into Bahrain, and I don’t expect them to leave any time soon, if ever. These two factors have also reminded some people of just how the Arabian Peninsula came to be named after a family, Saudi Arabia. Old Ibn Saud started by re-entering Najd, in central Arabia, with money from a smaller Gulf state in the north, took Riyadh, then continued to conquer Hijaz and al-Hasa and Aseer, etc, etc. They even tried at one point to conquer the country that provided them with seed money to start with, using the Ikhan “militia”.

These recent events and the not too distant history have awakened some Gulf people to one important fact: it is much easier and faster for a land neighbor to send in the tanks than for a force to cross the Gulf. It has also made others aware of another likely fact: if there is a Gulf fifth column with divided loyalties, it is most likely not the Shi’as looking toward Iran, but the Salafis and their “allies” looking back toward Saudi Arabia. Maybe the al-Saud have overplayed their hand again.
Cheers
mhg

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Iran Noruz Summit Includes Qatar and Oman, No Assad or Abdullah……….

     
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Mehr News reports that Iran on Sunday hosted a Noruz (Persian New Year) summit attended by the presidents of Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Armenia, and Iraq. The summit entitled the International Noruz Festival was attended by other foreign guests including Pakistan’s parliament speaker, Oman’s foreign minister, Lebanon’s foreign minister, Qatar’s crown prince, Kyrgyzstan’s culture and information minister, Azerbaijan’s deputy prime minister, India’s union health minister, Zanzibar’s vice president, and the ECO secretary general. The festival was held at Saadabad Palace where Persian artifacts and customs were on display. Four Arab states participated, but no mention of Saudi King Abdullah or Prince Saud al-Faisal attending. Nor did the king or prime minister of Bahrain. Come to think of it, neither did Bashar Assad attend; he must be at least as busy as the leaders of Bahrain. Too bad, Ahmadinejad could have benefited from some pointers on crowd-control by these tow worthies.
Cheers
mhg

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Ahmadinejad: for Chastity Belts and against Tyranny?……….

        
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Noting that the world is in dire need of a modern system and new shape and design, the President said that in the New Year efforts will be made globally for reforms in the tyrannical and inhumane structures and systems. He said human beings are universal creatures, so their attitude and lifestyle should be universal. “Man’s true prosperity depends on his global vision and today, under God’s grace, suspicious borders are getting eliminated. Today, materialistic management has come to an end and all nations are going to share similar universal feeling.” Saying that monotheism, justice, chastity and durable peace are true causes of nations, President Ahmadinejad said all nations are seeking kindness and friendship and this promises coming of a promised rule over the world…….

I am dubious about his bit on “tyranny”: one person’s tyranny is another person’s everyday dirty police work. Tyranny is in the eye of the beholder, or maybe the receiver. As for the ‘chastity’ bit: he ain’t gonna win the West with that one, not even the God-fearing Bible-belt. He’d need millions of chastity belts. Lighten up, Mahmoud!
He’s only antagonizing Sarkozy and most of the French nation (the none-immigrant most).
Cheers
mhg

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

My Disagreement with Ayatollah Khamenei………..

        
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Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei said on Monday that there is no difference between the uprising against tyranny in Bahrain with other Arab countries such as Yemen, Egypt, Tunisia or Libya. The Leader, who was addressing a large group of people in Mashhad in the first day of Noruz (the Persian New Year), said this claim that Iran is supporting the Bahrainis because they are mostly Shia is absolutely false. Ayatollah Khamenei said Iran has been supporting the Sunni Muslims in Palestine over the past 32 years and this shows that Iran makes no difference between Shias and Sunnis. The Leader said those who are trying to interpret the Bahraini people’s uprising against despotism as the conflict between Shia and Sunni are in fact doing the “greatest service” to the United States. “Do not turn the anti-despotic movement of a nation into a Shia-Sunni problem,” Ayatollah Khamenei warned. “We will not make a differentiation between Gaza, Palestine, Bahrain, Yemen, Egypt, Libya and Tunisia,” the Leader asserted……..” Mehr News (Iran)

I don’t agree with Khamenei on many issues: the idea of Wilayat Faqih (rule of a supreme cleric), on theocracy, on secularism, on free speech, on the death penalty, and on many other issues.
But this one is different. Apparently Khamenei is pissed (putting it succinctly) that the vast Saudi official media dominating the Arab waves, and its surrogates in the Gulf states, are painting the Bahrain uprising as primarily a Shi’a-Sunni conflict. I happen to agree with Khamenei on this point, as do most Arabs, almost all Arabs, outside the sectarian-divided Gulf region. The rulers of Bahrain and their partners in Apartheid have been using this Shi’a-Sunni rift, enlarging it shamelessly for their own purpose, dividing the region and inflaming it. The Saudis and some other tame and controlled Gulf media have been aiding and abetting this shameful sectarian approach. On this one I agree with Khamenai, even though I disagree on many others.
Cheers
mhg

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Iranian Illusions of Power, Arab Advise………

     

 

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“The new potentials created by the recent developments can reinvigorate and promote Iran’s regional power in political, cultural and social dimensions,” Deputy Head of the General Staff of Iran’s Armed Forces Major General Gholam Ali Rashid said. He described the new developments in the region as the beginning of a new era which will serve Muslims’ interests and will endanger the interests of the western countries. Decreasing enemies’ concentration on devising and hatching new political, security and military plots against Iran is the least benefit of the recent developments for the Islamic Republic of Iran, the commander continued……..Fars News (Iran)

This Iranian commander seems to agree with some Arabs in the Gulf region who claim fear of the mullahs. I doubt his claim that regional uprisings against dictators and absolute monarchies will strengthen the Iranian regime. On the contrary, if more of the Arab regimes are overthrown by popular uprisings, this will increase the likelihood of an Iranian spillover, especially now with many Iranians restless about their government and the economic crisis of the country. Arab revolts will encourage the Iranian youth to demand real change.
Which means, if you want change in Iran and reduced power for the theocracy, then you should wholeheartedly support Arab revolutions from North Africa to the Gulf. Does this mean that, say, the kings of Bahrain and Saudi Arabia or the oligarchs of Abu Dhabi should support Arab revolutions (and not only in Libya and Syria)? Well, yes: if’n they ever ask me, I’d advise them to go for it and scream “er7l, er7l, depart, depart” as they look in the mirror.
Cheers
mhg

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com