Sunday, September 26, 2010

Stuxnet worm, an ominous harbinger

As if the dangers of Iran’s nuclear program, be they political, geological (earth quakes are frequent occurrences in Iran), environmental were not enough. now, we have the malware “stuxnet” that can create havoc within the system and either shut down the machines, or worse, cause severe instability in various sections, including the cooling systems of the rods. Proposing a nightmare scenario that could lead to the likes of Cheronbyl.

This only reinforces the belief that at the moment, given the present regime and its inability to govern a country and its stubborn refusal to heed IAEA protocol, it is only foolish to pursue such nuclear ambitions. But since when logic and sense has prevailed in this regime for this to be another example of it.

Ahmadinejad's dangerous gamble

Ahmadinejad’s latest visit to New York and the U.N. general assembly may have been just another routine visit to the limelight and world media spotlight as far as international media was concerned. But in more serious circuits and company, his bizarre rhetoric, and blatant lies and denials carried little weight as he became a source for puns and ridicule, hardly taken seriously anymore. Evident by the way the US and European heavy weights kept their focus on issues that mattered to them and did not allow for the usual distractions or deflections of Mahmoud and co.

So while Ahmadinejad was cuddled and pampered by his “friends” in the US media, he desperately needed something to divert the attention away from the downward spiral Iran’s economy has taken after the sanctions, the ever widening cleavage of conservatives and the growing number of opposition from within the halls of regime as well as the worsening conditions of human rights in Iran. He needed something equivalent to a media bomb which would suck up all the oxygen from all quarters and take away any straying eye from what awaits him in the country, contrary to what he wants the naïve interviewers in the US to believe. With him, the more provocative the remarks, the better it would suit him.

This move was to be expected. But what was not expected was the subject of his media bomb that was frankly quite reprehensible. Or in the words of president Obama, “disgusting and inexcusable”. Apart from the fact that according to Ahmadinejad, any spotlight on him is beneficial, be it positive or negative, what else did such statement serve? He has been under tremendous pressure at home from the growing number of conservatives, parliamentarians, including some of his own close associates for remarks he and his right-hand, Rahim Mashaei have uttered, pitting the idea of nationalism against the governmental Islam that had quite a few clergy and Khamenei lackeys up in arms.

There needed to be a plug for the loss of popularity among the ruling class and any vile accusation or provocative rhetoric against the “great Satan” would find purchase with this class. And lo and behold as 195 members of parliament immediately issued words of support and encouragement for his “daring statesmanship” on question the role of the US government in 9/11. This, he hoped, would provide some needed respite from the furor of attacks on him and his failing economic agenda.

Such stances also find some resonance in the streets of the Muslim world and he has shown to be sensitive to this issue as the regime has always had an eye on the pulse of the Arab world, always looking for support among the masses.

However, this may have been a very bad time to be this provocative. Especially if he entertained any idea of softening the US administration or Europeans with respect to the crippling sanctions even if he opts for a defiant posture on the surface. In fact he couldn’t have timed it worse as this year saw a major shift in US intentions towards opening up to Iran. Unlike previous years, amidst the familiar sight of empty seats, a couple of US delegates (albeit low level ones) were among those who attended Ahmadinejad’s speech, perhaps an extension of an olive branch. But as he, ever so undiplomatically, brought up the theories of 9/11, the US delegates along with several other European counterparts stood up and departed the hall in protest, as Mahmoud went on and on, addressing even more empty seats.

Such drivel also highlights the vast difference between the regular Iranian population and the ruling class in Iran. Something that Mr. Obama addressed in his interview with BBC Persian. This new attitude of the administration may hold some promise for the people of Iran, worth keeping an eye on in weeks to come.

Carnival of lies

New York city, August 2010. The carnival of comical lies came to town and with it came a man who has lost whatever little credibility he had, who has become the focal point of jokes in international community for his absurd denials and even more hilarious claims. The annual visit of the funny politician from Iran was just concluded and as expected, his visit brought much attention to the strange and bizzare world that exists in his head.

At the same time, I cant hide my dismay at how we over-estimated the intelligence of integrity of the western journalists. Or could it be us. Could we have been caught up with Iran’s affairs so much that we missed the woods for the trees. We relied on journalists whose priority was clearly not the tragic state of human rights in Iran. When there is promise of more trips and interviews with the little dictator, which naturally begets more sponsorship and advertizing, it would be suicidal for the reporter to shoot himself in the foot by asking tough and sensible questions that leave little wiggle room for escape for the cunning dictator.

Judging from Larry King’s abysmal interview that last less than half the time taken for his sponsors’ ads and the repeat of the same mundane and inane questions on topics that only feeds Ahmadinejad’s self aggrandizing agenda. It only reinforced the belief that Larry ought to limit himself with interviews with the likes of Justin Bieber or American Idol drop outs and leave serious politics to others.

Speaking of serious politics, I am reminded of Charlie Rose’s pitiful attempt to interview Mahmoud, where at one point, Charlie exclaimed he was given a guidebook by Iran’s human right watch on the true face of the regime, the truth about abuse of Iranians prisoners and many more topics. Charlie said: “I was requested to ask you about the human rights abuse in Iran …” and then, after raising everyone’s hope of finally seeing someone press Ahmadinejad on the topic believed to be his weakness, Charlie totally disregards his statement and asks about the nuclear program!

We cant expect the world to care for what we, Iranians care. Surely Christian Amanpour, an Iranian expat knows the truth and will have a different set of priorities than the other journalists. Alas! Aside from a half hearted attempt on the matter of stonning sentence of one Sakineh Mohamadi Ashtiani, she received a complete lie as reply and with no persistence she dived into safe waters of Sara Shourd story.

This year, unlike the last, all the journalists were supplied with enough info, data and stats by various groups to be able to counter any and all lies and falsified claims that are part and parcel of Ahmadinejad’s New York visit. And yet, money trumped integrity and humanity, as we have it.

Mahmoud’s visit ended with plenty of spotlight shined on him and his absurd lies and cover-ups, with American journalists getting a hefty boost of revenues for their mundane and redundant interviews with promise of more in Tehran perhaps. At the same time, news of closure of two more political parties, imprisonment of human rights activists and bloggers, and heavy handed sentencing of any voice of dissent ranging from years of imprisonment to execution fills the news feeds from Iran!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Karroubi shatters another taboo

Mehdi Karroubi does it again and shatters yet another taboo in the Islamic regime. In the past 31 years none of officials, clerics or political personalities in Iran have challenged the rule and competency of the supreme leader. But Karroubi, in his recent letter to the Chairman of the Assembly of Experts, Hashemi Rafsanjani, decried the impotency and inability of this assembly to do its duty which is to supervise the leader. He also cited the dependence of the judiciary system on the dictates and control of Khamenei, as well as the infiltration of the revolutionary guards into every level of society, economy and political affairs with the blessing of the supreme leader. The embattled reformist, in other words, opens the door for discussion on removal of the supreme leader as unfit and questions his competency in reigning in elements and applying justice in his rule.

I doubt Karroubi ever entertained any hope of Rafsanjani acting on the letter or perhaps even comment on it. But issuing of the open letter marks another barrier broken which will be followed by more people bringing Khamenei and his decisions under question. I can only imagine how the conservatives and those allied with the leader may respond, which may range from utter shock and disbelief to anger and fury over such impertinence. This may also raise the level of calls for prosecution of Karroubi and other green leaders by the hardliners. However, the damage is done and I can only suspect it will be open season on Khamenei in near future, especially the way he and his decrees have been defied and weakened by Ahmadinejad’s camp.

In the midst of it all, Rafsanjani’s silence is intriguing as well. His character will never allow him to side with such letters and anyone holding their breath for a clear move or word of support from him may be in for a surprise. But he may yet find a way to utilize this to further his own agenda, albeit covertly. One thing is certain, though, which is testament to his longevity throughout the years, and that is he will never risk anything to help the freedom movement. Unlike Mehdi Karroubi, who has risen in stature in the eyes of everyone, surpassing the ever cautious, passive Mousavi.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Who is in for a treat at the UN Assembly?

The upcoming visit of “doctor, professor, president” (!!) Ahmadinejad will be accompanied with as much media hoopla as it has been done before, with plenty of interviews pre-arranged by the Iranian officials with as many media outlets as possible. He, like last year, will attempt to exploit this opportunity to attract even more attention to himself and divert from the real issues that are plaguing Iran at the moment. Akin to last year, he has already prepared a backdrop of issues that will serve his purpose, mainly the release of Sara Shourd, which ironically didn’t go as he planned and his scheme fell flat on its face. And we should not forget the perennial matter of Iran’s nuclear program and the hundreds of talking points attached to it.

But I believe he is in for a treat this time around and we will not experience the absolute torture of watching how experienced journalists like Curic, Sawyer and King fumble through their interviews, get flustered and frustrated, and basically drop the ball and fail to pin anything on him whatsoever. This year I believe we may not see the more aware viewers punch their walls, slam their desks or put their feet through their televisions in exasperation as they watched these journalists struggle and fail to divert the interviews to more meaningful, real and lethal issues that would leave him stumped.

This year, in a preemptive move, the organization of Iran Human Rights has prepared a guide book for all those fortunate (or unfortunate) enough to sit with the little dictator, addressing those issues that have better traction with people and more importantly, those that this illegitimate “president” cannot weasel out of answering or lie about. Although I am sure his staff will have taken the necessary precautions of warning and restricting the interviewers to certain topics of discussion, as well as plenty of advisors on call, real time to assist with any deflections, distractions and downright falsifying he needs. Nevertheless, this guideline is a major step in the right direction that hopes to reveal the true nature of this regime beyond its charade of lies and deceit and more significantly its absolutely terrifying abuse of human rights.

You can view or download this guideline booklet below:

Amidst all the issues stated in the booklet, I would love to see Ahmadinejad persistently pushed to comment on the ever widening rift between his faction and that of Khamenei. The more the interviewer pushes him to comment on it, backed by enough evidence of this divide, the more Ahmadinejad will be forced to take a stance. Knowing his ambitious character who thrives to paint a bigger, more significant picture of himself to the world outside Iran, he will be put in a position to either forgo his nature or take swings at Khamenei, albeit camouflaged and veiled ones.

This only helps drive the wedge even deeper and perhaps prepare for more factional skirmishes back at home, which eventually helps the freedom movement in Iran.

Ahmadinejad also has other matters to look forward too, at the UN General assembly. Such as staring at even more empty seats during his speech, which I presume will be a rehash of the old ones, denouncing one and all in the west, claiming a new world order, and sounding even more caring for Palestinians than the Palestinians themselves!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Islaimc regime plays the “Shourd” card, albeit comically stumbling through it

Sara Shourd, one of the three American hostages in Iran’s Evin prison was released yesterday, amidst the kind of drama that only our conservative Mullahs and illegitimate, unpopular government are capable of. With each faction desperate to exert some sort of supremacy over the other, while futilely attempting to paint a benevolent picture for the outside world.

Shourd along with Joshua Fattal and Shane Bauer were taken hostage near the border of Iran-Iraq more than a year ago on the pretext of trespassing into Iranian territories without permit. Although given the track record of this fascistic regime, it is not beyond reason to allow for the possibility of the three having been taken hostage well within the Iraqi Kurdistan province and brought to Iran to serve as the regime’s political card, a familiar tactic from them.

The release of Shourd wasn’t bereft of controversy either as first Ahmadinejad, on the eve of his trip to New York for the United Nations general assembly, and in a transparent attempt to paint a favorable picture of himself, suddenly announced “he” is effecting the release of Sara Shourd based on humanitarian grounds (Shourd has been having medical complications recently that raised the concerns of doctors which the regime wanted to avoid) coinciding with Eid Fetr at the end of Ramadan month. This grant of freedom was the exact thing Ahmadnejad, nearly a year earlier, professed to everyone in the world, including the parents of the three hikers, that he is not able to do and was not in his hands, rather the supposedly “independent” judiciary system of Iran!

Playing a card just before his visit was expected by many as Ahmadinejad as the individual and his government as a whole was under increasing pressure from within the country through ultra conservatives and Khamenei camp and without the country through international sanctions as well as several world wide campaigns on human rights violations, including Sakineh Mohamadi’s case. Hence the vast media release of this gesture. But not all the players have played their hands yet.

Unbeknownst to the hapless, illegitimate president, the Khamenei camp had different ideas and plans to ruin his party. Within hours of Ahmadinejad’s announcement, the judiciary branch released a statement negating the release. If there was any Ace card to be played, it was only fitting that the “supreme leader” should be the beneficiary of it. Hence, the judiciary statement, which followed by another statement the following day that pointed to Shourd’s release, however under certain conditions and a bail of $500,000. One can only imagine the kind of emotional roller coaster Sara, her family and all the well wishers went through, all within a few hours. This highlights the power struggle that has been building up as the chasm between the two power structures of the regime has been widening with alarming pace, with each side trying to score points over the other and trumping the rivals.

I am happy to see Sara Shourd was finally released yesterday and she boarded a plane to Oman on her way to the States. However, there is the matter of the other two hikers still in captivity. Fattal and Bauer are to remain as unplayed cards for either power factions in the regime, to be used when necessary! But I believe such cards have an expiry date too and the regime cannot simply hold onto them indefinitely and they will have to be released at some point. But I presume that release also will be accompanied with its corresponding charade and theatre. Perhaps in a face-saving manner in which the two are put on trial, the kind of show trials that serve only the propaganda machine of the regime and nothing beyond. And most probably they would get convicted to a year or 15 months of imprisonment, which coincidentally was already served during their captivity. And the two will be released with much fan-fare and hoopla in an attempt to squeeze all the regime can from the two cards that were losing their potency.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Fear tactics or acts out of fear?

The regime despite what they want the international community to believe, is extremely fearful of the opposition movement.

Government sanctioned hooliganism. Arsen and destruction of property. Religious mob threatening the lives of a political personality and his family members. All this may resemble a cheasey movie trailer in an post apocalyptic era where people ran amok bearing guns. Except this is the reality in Iran under the illegitimate Islamic regime.

Fear tactics have been routinely used by this regime to oppress the ever growing masses of opposition and they pride themselves of this ability. But a closer look at the events of past months shows a different side to this notion. It shed light on a ruling class that is riddled with fear of its own people, frightened of any voice of dissent and psychologically paralyzed to the extent that has made it incapable of closing any rift, solving any problem and looking more and more desperate in its measures to cling onto its seat of power by any means possible. It is here that we witness the treatment meted out to the very religious sects and personalities under Khamenei’s rule is unparalleled even during shah’s and his father, Reza shah’s time. Imprisonment, torture, murder of religious opposition was almost non-existent during the late monarch’s rule and yet under Khamenei, it is a regular occurrence.

They may have wanted their feeble minority of supporters to believe they have successfully squashed the freedom movement within Iran. But their reactions to any hint of opposition gathering or move has been to let loose their paid mercenaries and thugs, the now infamous plainclothes militia who carry out the dirty tasks of the power factions with impunity. The regime’s fear is confirmed when at the slightest hint of a rally, they spend obscene amount of money to hire and mobilize thousands of their militia and other security forces, spread throughout the city, days before a possible event, to make their presence felt. To an intelligent observer this only shows the utter fright of a government that has long lost its support among the people.

What took place at the resident of Mehdi Karroubi, a close associate of the late founder of the revolution, Rouhollah Khomeini is another sign of this inhuman ruling establishment’s fright and insecurity. Days before the Qods day, hordes of plainclothes militia and basij, carrying guns and tear gas gathered in front of Karroubi’s home and did everything possible to intimidate Karroubi, his family and ironically his neighbors. All in response to Karroubi’s statement that he would take to the streets and voice his allegiance to the peoples’ rights and demands. They broke every window in the apartment, threw paint on the walls and wrote derogatory comments about Karroubi and his family, threw tear gas into the complex, cut off the electricity (with the help of the city electricity board), even set fire to the entrance of the apartments and shot live rounds. All this while the police and security forces were seen to be merely bystanders and audience to this ugly show of organized thugery, while chants of support for their leader, Khamenei filled the air. This disgraceful display of barbarism continued for several days with promises of more to come by the chanting hooligans.


The freedom movement on its last legs? I think not, my friend. We have just begun and the fright seen in the regime’s actions and decisions clearly proves which side is on the losing streak.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The arc of moral universe

One year after the show of strength and resolve by the people of Iran on Qods day and their denunciation of the repressive regime’s accent on putting other nations and populations above Iran’s by chanting “neither Gaza, nor Lebanon, My life for my Iran”, we witness the endurance of our oppressed and a gradual corrosion and deterioration of the clerical dictatorship and fragmentation of its bases.

The free world observed Martin Luthor King’s famous “I have a dream” speech anniversary merely a few days ago, on August 27th. The day Dr. King had another quote that today, capsulates the dream we Iranians hold dear in our hearts when he said “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice”. And justice we shall have in Iran.

p.s.- Dr. King borrowed this inspirational quote from another visionary, Theodore Parker, who in 19th century said: "I do not pretend to understand the moral universe; the arc is a long one, my eye reaches but little ways; I cannot calculate the curve and complete the figure by the experience of sight; I can divine it by conscience. And from what I see I am sure it bends towards justice."