Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Ali Karimi, a mere excuse for opposition to the system

The latest episode of Ali Kairmi, Iran’s famous football player’s expulsion from his club, Steel Azin F.C., on the pretext of “breaking his fast in public” (Roozeh Khari) shines light on another shameful and dirty facet of the Islamic republic and that is the impunity with which people are accused in the country by anyone who wields some power or is related to any of the power structures.

Karimi criticized his club manager, M. Ajorloo, an IRGC elite commander, in relation to some shortcomings at the club, which was met with the order of expulsion. But Steel Azin, being owned and led by IRGC (explains the absurd amount of money flashed around by their officials) did not stop there and true to the nature of the Islamic regime, had to put their fundamentalist stamp on the affair by stating the breaking of his fast in public as the reason for the expulsion.

Apparently, this regime is hell-bent on proving they are incapable of learning from experience. Within hours of the news appearing in the media there was a whirlwind of internet activity, with fans as well as regular people from all over the world objected to the news and pledged their support to the star player. And the more media outlets like Fars news or IRGC’s Javan news, with even the state-run television chipping in, tried to paint an impious and agnostic picture of the player, the more support poured in. Although Karimi did provide a precedent for this attack by the state-run media as he was among some of the national team players who wore a green wrist band during last year’s World Cup qualifiers which coincided with the presidential elections and its subsequent events.

Another miscalculation

Here was the full force of regime propaganda apparatus at work and yet they were oblivious to the depth of people’s opposition to all things related to the regime. They still have not grasped the fact that people look for and will support any and all acts of defiance. It may not be the individual(s) who do the act, but the ‘idea’ of defiance and standing up to the regime is what finds purchase with the people.

This may have escaped many observers, but is a smaller example of the absolute arrogance of the regime that feels they are not to be held accountable for any of their acts and that they can use Islam and religious sentiments to accuse and indict anyone with impunity. Recent Jannati’s unfounded accusation of the leaders of the green movement receiving a billion dollars from the United States for overthrow of the regime without an iota of evidence is another example of this trait in a larger scale.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Like president, like minister

This news-piece was simply too juicy, if you will, to resist. Ahmadinejad’s embattled vice president, Mohamad-Reza Rahimi, already under attack from many factions inside Iran for massive embezzlement, financial corruption and misuse of power, not to mention his role in the election-coup, has got himself into yet another soup!
In a conference on education, Rahimi made a series of derogatory remarks against the British people, by calling them “inhuman idiots led by a stupid Prime Minister, David Cameron”.

But the Brits were not the only recipients of his ire, as his verbal incendiary was sprayed widely towards any nation that signed the United Nations sanctions against Iran’s nuclear ambitions in the form of calling the Australians as “a bunch of cattlemen” and the South Koreans “in need of being slapped”!

While the British ambassador may have been affronted by this language and attitude, my belief is it should have come as no surprise. When the president, albeit the illegitimate one, of the regime uses the form of low and base language which only appeals to the select uneducated and ill-cultured sects of society sees no reprimand for it and with each passing speech, his turn of phrase and terminology sinks lower and lower, when the head of Judiciary, Sadegh Larijani and his other brother, the head of Majlis, Ali Larijani resort to highly dubious phraseology and adjectives in describing any opposition from the outside world, not to mention the various commanders of the dreaded Revolutionary Guards corp, without being forced to retract or sanitize their comments, it should have come as no surprise to anyone that more and more IR officials reveal their true origins and nature.

This tragic comedy, only highlights the depth of suffering and pain that the Iranians, within and without Iran have endured for the past three decades under the rule of such vile minority.

The most expensive nuclear power plant

According to Iran’s state news agency, the Bushehr nuclear plant is due to be inaugurated by 21st August with Russia having promised to both provide the and to take back the fuel.

The Bushehr plant goes down in the history books as one of the, if not ‘the’ most expensive nuclear plants in the history. Originally, under the Shah’s reign in mid seventies, the German company of Siemens AG was contracted to construct and deliver the plant. But soon after the revolution, the Germans withdrew from the project and the plant was left with only 50% of the construction completed. In mid nineties a Russian company called ‘Atomstroiexport’ was contracted to complete the remaining 50% of the plant. But since the German technology was unfamiliar and ahead of the Russian experts, the Russians were forced to rebuild many parts of the plant according to their own specifications and available technology.

15 years later and still the plant is in process of completion, and while there have been many ebbs and flows in the speed of construction, Russia has used this plant as a leverage and a bargaining chip used in its dealings with both Iran, winning countless concessions from Iran in various areas, as well as with its dealings with the west, especially the United States. Worthy mentions could be the Eastern Europe Missile Shield, or the States’ silence in Georgia.

According to today’s reality, the cost of building a brand new 1000 Megawatt nuclear plant would be about $700-750 Million. But so far, the Bushehr plant has cost Iranians somewhere between 2 to 4 Billion Dollars and still counting, with technology that is no longer safe or comparable to the modern plants. And that is limited to the actual cost of building of the plant and getting it ready for use. At the same time, one may be inclined to add the countless concessions, favors and sweetened deals offered to the Russians along the past couple of decades.

It is no wonder it is claimed to be the most expensive plant whose cost will be mounting as we consider its repercussions on the environment. Its social and economical impacts is another cause for worry, as Iran has come under increasing pressure from the world community for its general adventurism related to its nuclear ambitions.

Putin’s cold shoulder

Although Prime Minister Putin was planned to attend the ceremonies, he has, since, canceled the trip and the highest Russian official attending the inauguration is the head of Russia’s atomic agency. Putin’s cancellation only underlines the cooling off of relations between Moscow and Tehran.
Iran has claimed the plant should be operational by mid September. However Novikov, the spokesman for Russia's Federal Atomic Energy Agency, says the plant will not be ready to produce energy for another six months.

On Friday, the White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said: "It, quite clearly, I think, underscores that Iran does not need its own enrichment capability if its intentions, as it states, are for a peaceful nuclear program” pointing towards several offers the west had made to Iran to supply the fuel and enriched Uranium, which will cost Iran far less than Iran actually enriching it indigenously. Offers that were rebuffed by the Islamic regime, thus leading the country down the path of ever tightening sanctions and hardship for the people of Iran.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Is Rahim-Mashaei Ahmadinejad's Medvedev?

Is Ahmadinejad trying to emulate what Putin achieved in Russia by placing a figure-head at the head of the government while he still calls the shots? You may see Medvedev's face in almost all international fora or sit-ins with other heads of state, but there is little doubt as to who exactly pulls the levers behind the scenes in Russia. To be fair to Mr. Medvedev, he has been displaying a bit of a wiggle room lately in terms of foreign diplomacy, especially towards the west. But to think he is a man of his own and his decisions on major issues independent of his predecessor is perhaps too generous.

Is Rahim-Mashaei, the father of Ahmadinejad's daughter in law, being groomed to continue the line after Ahmadinejad's term completes? Ahmadinejad's infatuation with power is no secret. Neither is his ever growing tendency to grab more control of the country, at the cost of alienating some of his religious support among the clerical establishment. This hunger for more power is demonstrated in his recent-found boldness to stand up to the major regime factions and personalities, be they the speaker of Majlis, Ali Larijani or even a show of defiance in the face of the supreme leader, Khamenei, albeit in a more timid fashion. But his change from being subservient to the rule of supreme leader during his first term to his new challenger for major power structures in the country is clearly palpable, no thanks to immeasurable favors bestowed upon the dreaded IRGC, the Revolutionary Guard Corp during his first term, which in turn created a strong-hold for his vie for power in this term.

What may point towards the Putin-Medvedev analogy is the little discussed, but still persistent rumors that he entertained an amendment of the constitution which limits the candidacy of a person for presidency to only two terms. His supporters may have issued out these 'feelers', and perhaps was rebuked by the supreme leader's camp. But there is no denying Ahmadinejad's ambition. Therefore the second best way is to follow suit and initiate the process of grooming an Ahmadinejad insider for the next presidential election akin to what Putin arranged. And who better an insider than Rahim-Mashaei?

It is, however, a different matter that many facts and figures, most speculations and theories point to an aborted presidency for this man and the freedom movement's eventual triumph, thus making any presumptions with regards to the next presidential elections moot and an exercise in futility.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Jannati and the Islamic regime's Hubris

One of the most hardline clerics in the Islamic regime, Ayatollah Jannati, unwittingly provides a major weapon against Khamenei and perhaps more fundamental pillars of the regime.

In yet another act in the ever increasing series of miscalculations by the regime’s top brass, Ayatollah Jannati may have granted a fresh opening to attack the system and hurt its standing among the shrinking supporting populace.

Jannati, a close ally of Khamenei for many years, is also the head of Iran’s most powerful institutions, the Guardian Council, a constitutional and electoral watchdog that screens candidates for national elections, and is by any standard, considered as one of the top 5 personalities of this regime. He is also known for his rabid views on suppression and crackdown on the anti-government and pro-democracy protestors, calling for their mass executions with no remorse or delay!

It was late July when Jannati claimed he is in possession of ample evidence that the so called leaders of the green movement, Mousavi, Karroubi and Khatami have been on the pay-roll of the United States by receiving an initial down-payment of $1 Billion, through some Saudi channels to incite the unrest and turmoil and a promise of another $50 Billion when they eventually topple the Islamic regime! Perhaps Jannati was under the old illusion that persisted in Iran for the past 30 years where you can label or accuse anyone of any crime without the need of an iota of evidence. This tool was used on countless occasions for the purpose of removal of opponents and rivals in the regime. But the events of the past year have rendered many such tools useless or open to public debate.

Now, in an act of defiance by many in the freedom movement, Jannati, who belongs to the top echelon of the Islamic regime is being publicly ridiculed, something that a couple of years ago would have been unheard of. This is a testament that this fear-mongering regime is rapidly losing its tools of control that are basically built on fear and threats as well as unaccountability of its officials. This also demonstrates a challenge to Khamenei’s authority, which was aimed to be absolute given his title as the supreme leader. Another very crucial barrier broken through.

The strongest statement was issued by Mr. Karroubi, who openly challenged Jannati and explicitly demanded for disclosure of the claimed evidence and failure to do so only should mean Jannati is not only incompetent to hold such vital office, but also is accused of false libel and deceit which is not looked very kindly in the tenets of Islam. Following Karroubi’s full-on attack, Mousavi and a few other personalities have come forth and basically demanded the same. And as days have gone by, there is more chatter on the subject from more individuals, from officials to regular bloggers.

By persisting on their demand for evidence, they will drive the dagger even deeper into the body of the regime, as it only exposes more deception and falsehood, corruption and abuse of power that has formed the regime’s bulk. Not to mention its implicit effect in undermining of Khamenei, himself and his judgment.

Jannati’s Hubris complex has handed a great weapon to the opposition to deal severe and irreparable damage to the regime’s structure. But the attacks should be relentless and precise. Will the opposition cease on this opportunity to gain some of its lost momentum? In my opinion, the only individual capable to deliver this is Mr. Karroubi who has shown great bravery in the face of tremendous adversity, despite being a clergy himself. Mousavi, however, has been somewhat of a let down as he has limited himself to merely issuing statements once in a while. As for Khatami, … well, I wont hold my breath to see anything strong or half direct issued from his side. But aside from Karroubi, there are many others who have the spine to push forth, Like Mr. Saharkhiz, Tajzadeh and many others whose boldness and bravery has been proven time and again.