Archive for category World
It is interesting – if not surprising – that in the wake of General McChrystal’s public declaration that more troops and supplies were needed in Afghanistan to ensure the success of our mission, the talking heads and empty suits who occupy the president’s inner circle of advisers have sharply admonished General McChrystal for doing so.
Bad enough it makes the president look bad – we can’t have that – but worse, it puts public pressure on his administration to take action – and by action I don’t mean giving speeches or campaigning in Copenhagen. Read the rest of this entry »
So…Iran announced it is working on a second nuclear facility. Well, well, well. That comes as no surprise to the educated and rational among us. We said all along that Iran is not being forthright about its nuclear program, which is clearly aimed at producing nuclear weapons and not peaceful energy.
The New York Times broke the story about Iran’s secret nuclear enrichment facility in Qum which has the capacity for 3,000 centrifuges.
Obama, who was briefed on this facility prior to his inauguration, is quoted as stating that “the size and type of this facility is inconsistent with that of a peaceful facility.” Read the rest of this entry »
After more than a week of tepid words from President Obama about the Iran government crackdown on protesters, Obama has finally denounced the regime’s treatment of its citizens. This marks a significant shift in rhetoric from the President who had, until now, refused to take sides and back the Iranian people. Read the rest of this entry »
Were I a betting man, which I’m not – unless I am certain of a win, I would bet that Khamenie’s call for election fraud in the Iranian presidential election is nothing more than political grandstanding. Were I a betting man, I would probably be putting my money on the outcome favoring Ahmadinejad. Were I a betting man…
For the last several days the world’s collective attention has been turned to the Iranian presidential election – which I maintain is nothing more than a farce. The election has been marred with calls of injustice, voter fraud and violent street protests – that have produced crackdowns by riot police and plain clothes militia loyal to Ahmadinejad. In an effort to placate the masses of angry reformists both young and old, the Supreme Leader has called for an investigation of claimed vote fraud.
Iran’s supreme leader ordered Monday an investigation into allegations of election fraud, marking a stunning turnaround by the country’s most powerful figure and offering hope to opposition forces who have waged street clashes to protest the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
While the Washington Post and perhaps some oppostition supporters hail this as a sign of hope, I am far more cautious in my thoughts on the matter. Perhaps even cynical given the history of corruption, Khamenei’s open support of Ahmadinejad, and the efforts by the Iranian government to silence the opposition both before and after the election.
From blocking text messaging, websites and cellphones the day of the election and days since, to ransacking college dorms and all out knock-down drag-out fights in the streets, the Iranian police and militias make a good show of opposition silencing.
Security forces also have struck back with targeted arrests of pro-reform activists and blocks on text messaging and pro-Mousavi Web sites used to rally his supporters.
Hard-line militia volunteers loyal to the Revolutionary Guard stormed the dormitories, ransacking student rooms and smashing computers and furniture with axes and wooden sticks, Akbar said.
Before leaving around 4 a.m., the police took away memory cards and computer software material, Akbar said, adding that dozens of students were arrested.
Amnesty International criticized Iran Sunday for blocking media and Internet sites. It said on Saturday, access to social networking sites was blocked, as was access to a range of online news services. Many of these outlets carried reports which raised concerns that the conduct of the election was flawed and results had been rigged, Amnesty said.
This is text book intimidation and opposition silencing… How Ahmadinejad could have ever looked anyone in the eye and say that Iran has democracy is beyond belief. How, after the events that have unfolded over the last week, Khamenei could expect anyone to take his declaration for an investigation seriously is also beyond the pale of belief. Were I a betting man, I would say that the smart money is on Khamenei – after the kangaroo court investigation – declaring there to have been no foul play and that his favored puppet is the rightful president. Which, he very well may be.
In a government such as Iran, there is simply no way to tell for certain. But were I a betting man… That would be my bet.
Were I a betting man, I would bet that Khamenei will stall for the entire ten days of Guardian Council’s investigation – which he controls - or until Moussavi calms his angry followers (whichever comes first) to announce that Ahmadinejad is the victor. What will happen next is anyone’s guess. But were I a betting man, I’d bet Rial to donuts that opposition silencing will continue until it is sufficiently snuffed out.
After all, that is the hallmark of any good authoritarian thugocracry. If only I were a betting man…
Every news station that you turn to and every link you click takes you to yet another article about the Iranian election. From the poll coverage to the street protests these last 24 hours have been filled with article after article and story after story about the presidential election in Iran. The overall tone is that of surprise. The media seems surprised by the election results as much as they are of the violent protests in Iran. Mousavi’s supporters express shock and surprise at the election results. And Iranians in general seem surprised that Mousavi supporters and Mousavi, himself, are crying foul.
Why so surprised?
Mousavi, no matter how many votes he got, was never going to win the election. The Supreme Leader essentially determines who wins, and it is widely known that he supports Ahmadinejad. Khamenei decides who even gets to run for the office. Not to mention the complete corruption of the Iranian government and officials. Is it really any wonder that Ahmadinejad won?
Would it really change anything if he hadn’t? No. The role of President in Iran is similar to the role of Kermit the Frog on Sesame Street. A puppet. Nothing more. Iran’s President, much like our iconic green Muppet, stands in the spotlight, makes speeches and plays the role of figurehead – were the Iranian government a TV show Ahmadinejad’s face would be on the cover of the DVD box set.
But unlike Kermit, if you look behind the curtain there would be no lovable Jim Hensen.
The Iranian government is essentially controlled by one man, Ali Khamenei. Khamenei is Iran’s Supreme Leader. If the Iranian government was The Muppet Show – which it essentially is – Khamenei would be Jim Hensen. Only without the goodwill, lovability and sense of humor. So while Iran has a President elected by the people, it really doesn’t matter who he is or what he thinks. He is there for aesthetics. When he goes to the podium and opens his mouth you may hear his voice… but it is Khamenei’s words that he speaks. It is Khamenei’s stance that he takes. It is Khamenei’s views that are expressed and carried out.
Even if Mousavi was declared the victor, it wouldn’t change anything. Not for the Iranian people and certainly not for U.S. relations.
So the question remains. Why be so surprised?
The Muslim reaction to Obama’s Muslim Nations Speech in Cairo seems to be a mix of accolades, disappointment and skepticism. Basically, the reaction is predictable. While many of the young and moderate Muslims applaud the speech and think it a good step forward to peace, the trouble-makers of the region – the ones that we have the largest gulf in relations with – seem to have met the speech with typical skepticism. Essentially, the only thing to have changed is the face and publicity. As expected the younger and more moderate approve of his words, overwhelmingly. But they aren’t the ones that we need to work with diplomatically. They aren’t the ones with nuclear reactors, RPGs and IDEs. Certainly it is pleasing for there to be a positive reaction amongst the young – as they are the future of their lands. However, the speech did little more than place Obama between a political rock and a hard pitfall. Because the skeptical leaders of nations like Iran and the leaders of “Palestine” are keeping a scorecard. And for every promise that he made in Cairo, they will certainly hold him accountable. If he fails to deliver, it will only prove them right, and further the already cavernous gulf between the U.S. and Islam diplomatically. Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, predictably reiterated the hatred that Islam feels for America and Americans.
“People of the Middle East, the Muslim region and North Africa — people of these regions — hate America from the bottom of their heart” “For a long time, these people have witnessed aggressive actions by America, and that’s why they hate them [because of] violence, military intervention, rights violations and discrimination [by the U.S.]” “I say firmly that this will not be achieved by talking, speech and slogans.” He added, “Even if [Obama] delivers hundreds of speeches and talks very sweetly, there will not be a change in how the Islamic countries perceive the United States.” He called on Obama to deliver change “in practice.”
To boil it down, Khamenei is repeating the same canned lines that the Iranian government has been saying for years… every time that the U.S. tries to reach out to them. As usual, Iran is looking for deep concessions – withdraw our troops, leave the Muslim nations alone, stop backing Israel, capitulate to their every demand and let them build nuclear reactors. Stating that Iran simply seeks peaceful nuclear power.
“Our nation says we want to have a nuclear industry,” Khamenei said Thursday. “We want to use nuclear energy in a peaceful way. However, the West and America say that the Iranian nation is seeking to make a nuclear bomb. Why are they telling lies?” “The Iranian government and nation have repeatedly said that we do not want nuclear weapons. We have announced that according to Islamic principles, the use of nuclear weapons is forbidden. It is dangerous to keep nuclear weapons. We are not seeking to have them. We do not want them.”
No offense to the Supreme Leader and all… But is that kind of the same way that Iran does NOT support terrorism? Does not support Hamas? Does not support the killing of innocent civilians – not that he considers any Jew to be an innocent civilian? Is this not also the same man who said that Islamic principles mandated peace? And that killing another Muslim, or any person, was against Islam? While those things are true… I’ll have to remain a skeptic of the source. Allowing Iran (and thus Hamas and numerous other terrorist organizations) to possess the capacity for nuclear weapons would be a tragic mistake. Until such time as they are willing to recognize Israel and take earnest steps towards their numerable human rights issues, I cannot fathom allowing their nuclear program to move forward. He also went on to call our ally, Israel, a “cancerous tumor in the heart of Islam.” Similar sentiments were echoed by Mohammad Marandi, if not more diplomatically.
“I didn’t hear many new things from Obama. We need to see fundamental change in American policies. People in this region are expecting change as much as the people in the United States.” “When Obama says that he recognizes Iran’s rights to having peaceful nuclear energy, does that mean he will honor that right in negotiations with Iran? Or is this rhetoric? This is what we want to know.”
Naturally, I would like an answer to Mr. Marandi’s question as well. If Obama plans to sit back and do nothing about the Iranian nuclear program, Israeli and American citizens could use a bit of a heads up advanced notice. Bunkers take a while to build…. Just saying. Iran’s nuclear program seems to have been the least of Muslim concerns, though. Most of those interviewed seemed to focus more on Palestine and Israel. Most, if not all, agreed that Obama should withdraw support from Israel and back, more forcefully, a two-state solution for the Palestinians… with Jerusalem as their capital. Nabil Abu Rdainah, spokesman for Palestinian President was quoted as saying:
“His call for stopping settlement and for the establishment of a Palestinian state, and his reference to the suffering of Palestinians … is a clear message to Israel that a just peace is built on the foundations of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.”
This particular argument is one that had prevented the two-state solution from working. Palestinians insist on owning Jerusalem. However, the Israelis are not going to give it up… it is their capital – and rightfully so. There is no sign of Palestinians backing down from that demand. In fact, there attempts to take and hold Jerusalem is what caused the Israelis to drive them into the Gaza strip and keep them there. Rdainah is not alone in his sentiment. Zafarul-Islam Khan, president of the All India Muslim Majlis-e Mushawarat, seems to share the general opinion that the U.S. should back Palestine and stop supporting Israel.
“He was rather mild on Israel and did not tell us what he proposes to do if Israel rejects peace with its neighbors and continues to subjugate Palestinians and occupy their land. In general, this is a good beginning but only future will tell how far America is ready to go after eight years of a totally uncalled for war on Islam.”
While Mr. Khan may think this speech was a good beginning he, like many others, say that it all depends on Obama’s actions and not just his words. As if shaking loose Israel were a good faith gesture Abdi Rahaman Ibrahim suggests “the Palestinians must now be given independence, so we will believe him more.” In essence it is more of the same. Capitulate and help them flush Israel out, or there will be no peace. Personally, I remain convinced that even if Obama throws full support behind Palestine and actually goes as far as helping them evict Israelis from Israeli land, there will still be no peace… only more demands. The question is, will the Capitulator-in-Chief capitulate or will he do what he does best and simply give flowery speeches? Or, however implausible, will he actually support Israel and get tough on those who seek to destroy the Israeli people?