Monday, May 26, 2008

Shiraz Explosions, Change of Story

Despite the earlier statements by the IR officials that the ordnance display at the Shiraz Mosque was the cause of the explosion that led to the death and injuries of hundreds of people, the Islamic Republic intelligence ministry now claims that the explosion was the work of a monarchist group and they have made several arrests of those involved.

The monarchist group they refer to is in fact nothing to do with Reza Pahlavi. The group calls itself, Kingdom Assembly of Iran, and was led by Manuchehr Fathollahi, aka Forood Fooladvand, yet another one of these TV satellite based Iranian Don Quixote presenters, only this time based in London and not in LA. Fooladvand was delluded with liberating Iran by himself and setting up a new imperial dynasty of his own. He had even bestowed himself with a title, Iranban, the Protecter of Iran. For him Reza Pahlavi was an incompetent Prince and undeserving for the throne of Iran, but since Fooladvand himself wanted to be the new monarch of Iran, the Western media have been confused with the monarchy connection.

Fooladvand stopped his TV programs a few months ago and said he was on his way to Iran to liberate the country by the next Iranian new year! - how many times have we heard that by now? Since then accounts vary as to Fooladvand's whereabouts, some say he was tricked by IRI agents who were pretending to be his followers and kidnapped on the Turkish border, some say he is already dead and some say he embezzled money and simply disappeared.

Shortly after the Shiraz explosion, some of Fooladvand's followers, typical of those who want to pretend they have a vast network of activists inside Iran claimed it was their network who had bombed the mosque, and so it seems a combination of a typical Islamic Republic Intelligence ministry plot aided by the stupidity of an exiled group, is paving the way for 'justification' of a massive crackdown on dissidents in Iran. Already some pro-democracy activists, Iranian Christians and Bahaii leaders have been arrested and the Intelligence Ministry is promising televised interviews of the perpetrators of the Shiraz explosion who will confess to working for world imperialism and Zionism on the State TV.

Although the regime has not named any of those arrested, Abdollah Shahbazi's blog has published the names and photographs of two of those who are due to appear in the televised confessions. Shahbazi, a former Iranian Communist, has close connections with rival sections of the IRI Intelligence Ministry after his collaboration efforts with the regime in the 80s. Now days he refers to himself as a historian.

Shahbazi claims two of those arrested and promised execution by the intelligence ministry are Faramarz Sheikholeslam and his cousin, Mohammad Shahqotbi. They are in fact computer experts and whiz kids. Shahbazi has even published a picture of one of them, Shahqotbi, while sitting next to Shiraz's Friday Prayer Leader's son and fixing his computer.

Those who have followed Iran news for the last 28 years and the majority of the Iranian population will never believe any such manipulated televised confessions under duress.

The truth is that despite the megalomaniac claims by some opposition groups in exile, the Iranian pro-democracy movement is not about bombs and explosions and acts of violence. The world community must remain alert to such plots by the Islamic Republic. When it comes to blowing up ordinary citizens, its the Islamic Republic who has the top expertise in this field.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Khorramshahr, 20 Years On

If the liberation of Khorramshahr, 20 years ago, brought tears of joy and pride for us, pictures of Khorramshahr, 20 years on, bring us tears of sadness and regret.
Worse still when the mayor of Tehran, talks about rebuilding Beirut and forgets that charity should begin from home, its like he puts salt on the wounds of the citizens of Khorramshahr and those whose courage and sacrifices liberated Khorramshahr from Saddam's aggressors.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Credible Opposition is the Islamic Regime's Achilles Heel

What is the regime's Achilles heel or may be I should use the Persian equivalent, what is the Esfandiyar's Eye of the Islamic Republic?

I believe the overwhelming majority of Iranians want change. If the Islamic regime was overthrown tomorrow, there would be the biggest mass street parties the world has ever seen in Iran. Yet the majority of Iranians both inside and outside Iran remain passive observers of the events. While in their hearts they want to see the back of the mullahs, they are still hesitant in actively playing their part. What is the reason? Rather than lecturing those who fall in this category and coming across as lofty and arrogant towards them, or simply keeping within our own circles, those of us who are active in some way or another should genuinely listen to what the silent majority have to say. As someone reminded me many years ago at school, God has given us two ears and only one tongue, we should therefore listen twice as much as we talk.

The two overriding replies I get when I ask this question are:

1- Who do we replace the mullahs with?
2- We can't do anything, its a waste of time. If the mullahs are to be overthrown, the "great powers" will decide and do it, not us.

Perhaps I should do this post in two parts, but in a way the two are interconnected. Let me start with what I have labelled as reply number two. There are good reasons for this, deep rooted in our recent history. Our nation has struggled against rival super powers of the time, the British and the Russians, who wanted to split the country along their own zones of influence. A weak incompetent Qajar dynasty, backed by Shiite clerics whose sole purpose was to keep the population backward and illiterate, ensured that the Iranians as a nation were too weak to decide their own destiny against the British and the Tsarist Russian superpowers of the time.

When against all odds, Iran produced a hero by the name of Reza Shah the Great, and once again Iran was ruled by an Iranian dynasty, we were just about to find our rightful place amongst other nations. In less than two decades, our wounded pride was restored, we made great advances towards modernising our country and perhaps most important of all, our Iranian identity, trampled on by centuries of foreign invaders and non-Iranian rulers, flourished again. But just when we were finding our feet on the ground again and the foundations of a modern secular Iran was being set, the Allied forces invaded Iran and the British, who hated Reza Shah for having cut off their influence in the country, forced his abdication and exile and even tried to restore the Qajar dynasty.

This deep set Iranian conspiracy theory that the super powers decide our future was best captured and told by the great Iranian novelist and satirist, Iraj Pezeshkzad, in his masterpiece of contemporary Persian literature, My Uncle Napoleon. So much so that the phrase 'Uncle Napoleon way of thinking' or 'Uncle Napoleon syndrome' has become a distinct reference in the modern day Persian language.

Yet despite this My Uncle Napoleon Syndrome(MUNS), Iran has produced three major revolutions and upheavals in the last 100 years. One must remember that the MUNS is only prevalent during the periods of defeat. Thus the same people who took part in some of the biggest street protests in 1979 and toppled 2500 years tradition of monarchy in Iran, once they realised what a mistake it was, started to deny their contribution in the revolution and instead claimed it was the British and the Americans who had engineered the Islamic revolution.

Going back to reply number one, 'Who do we replace the mullahs with?'. Nothing scares the regime more than a credible opposition and nothing puts off the silent majority more than a phony opposition. If the 1999 student uprising across 19 Iranian cities shook the foundations of the Islamic Republic, the unfortunate emergence of the LA TV stations and the kind of comical opposition that was beamed to the Iranian people as the alternative to the Islamic Republic stopped the momentum of the new pro-democracy movement from becoming a mass movement and the protests from reaching the critical mass needed for a regime change.

This is why I pointed out some of this phony opposition in my interview with the Front Page magazine. Paper organisations or to be more up to date, web based non-entities who call themselves "Parties" and have more members in their "central committees" than actual supporters through out the world, led by Don Quixote fruit cakes who never fool the Iranian people inside Iran but do manage to fool some well wishing and well meaning outsiders by their preposterous claims of extensive organisational networks inside Iran, what they like to call 'hasteh' :)

The credible opposition will not come about from hotel conferences of old political groups in London and Paris either. As I told one of the organisers of these conferences, if you put a lot of zeros in one room, the output will still be zero. I have been active for 28 years against the theocratic rule in Iran, I have followed Iran related news every day since the start of the 1979 revolution, I have made the effort to travel and meet face to face with people across the spectrum of the Iranian politics and gauge their appeal, effectiveness, IQ and authenticity and whether they have the potential to mobilize the silent majority. I am no academic, but I trust my instincts and my empirical observations. When I was asked about the outcome of these conferences, this is what I said:
'speeches will be made, they will sing their own praises that they have gathered under one roof, they will elect a co-ordinating committee of around 16 people and then it will all fizzle out, because they will never have the initiative to carry any actions. '

Those who asked me were surprised how accurate my predictions were but I was surprised that they expected anything else.

The credible opposition will come from within Iran but not from within the regime. For people will not trust those who are in bed with the clerics. The credible opposition will not be formed overnight in Iran either, it will not be a homogeneous single organisation and it will not immediately and publicly declare its goal as the overthrow of the Islamic regime. It has to win small concessions step by step, gain people's confidence and ensure that the momentum is maintained. Its success will depend on whether it will correctly judge the mood of the people and their readiness and make the right decisions on a case by case basis.

The continuous conflict between the aspirations of the Iranian people for freedom and the outdated repressive ways of the Islamic Republic makes me confident that this credible opposition will come about.

Meanwhile those of us outside Iran should not present ourselves as the alternative to the current regime but promote every genuine secular and pro-democracy voice inside Iran.
We should be credible, tell the truth as it is, not exaggerate and we should not create Dir-Yassin effects amongst the silent majority.

Making the silent majority active and political should not be made synonymous with becoming a revolutionary immediately and demanding the overthrow of the Islamic regime, it should really be something that deals firstly with the individuals relationship to his or her immediate surrounding.

We should actively solicit the international public opinion and use it as a lever to prevent Western politicians from doing deals with the mullahs and bolster the regime. Having the international support of the people around the world will strengthen us immensely.

The combination of credible effective opposition with international support will once again give confidence to the Iranian people that they are not alone, they can make a difference and they do not have to wait passively for the super powers to decide when this dark regressive period in our history is finally over.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Has the Tehran Mayor Forgotten These Children?

The mind boggles with disbelief, the blood boils with rage, whatever I type can not express my fury and it is impossible to fight back the tears.

Tehran Mayor pledges millions of Dollars to rebuild Lebanon (i.e. Hezbollah) and Islamic Republic officials choose to forget about our own children's plight. These are the faces of Iranian school children who suffered these horrific burns because their school did not have proper safe heaters suitable for a primary school classroom.

A terror machine which started three decades ago by burning more than 400 innocent people in a cinema in Abadan, led by an evil man belonging to the dark ages, but referred to as Iran's Gandhi by the Carter administration, continues to destroy Iran and Iranians.

The Iranian blogger tells the full story.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Go and See Persepolis

I am told Marjan Satrape is a distant relative of mine, not blood related but something like my maternal great aunt's husband's daughter-in-law kind of relative, and our town of Astara is actually mentioned in her story. I have known about Satrape's illustrations but I am ashamed to say that I never got round to buying her books. Ever since her animation has been released, I have been planning to see it and tonight I finally watched the movie along with some friends.

It is simply brilliant. If you want to know about Iran and the story of my generation who left Iran at an early age, don't read any blogs or academic papers, just go and see this fantastic animation movie.

I have noticed this before that those of my generation who had to leave Iran at a young age, have so many common experiences. In the same way I could relate to so many scenes in the Persepolis animation. The last words of her father for example when she leaves Iran, 'Don't ever forget who you are and where you come from' or her insecurity in finding an accommodation she can regard as her home, her frustrations at foreigner's perception of Iran and Iranians, the nostalgia of waking up and seeing the Alborz mountains, the illusions of the older generation who thought the 1979 revolution will make things better, are just a few scenes in the movie which I could so easily relate to.

Unlike me however Marjan returns to Iran just after the massacre of the Iranian political prisoners in 1988. This is during the peak of the repression, and she also experiences studying in Islamic Republic schools and universities. There is a scene in which her RE teacher rambles on about how liberated Iran has become after the Shah and how Iran no longer has any political prisoners. Not able to tolerate such obscene nonsense, she stands up to the teacher and names her own executed relatives and says if there were 300 political prisoners during the Shah now there are 300,000 to the applause of her classmates and the fury of her teacher. We became so fired up by this scene that we too all started clapping and applauding in the cinema and there were more scenes like that.

There are also exceptional one liners. For example as an impressionable young child she hears her elders talk about having Qajar royal blood and being Communists, thinking this is something to be proud of, the young Marjan goes to bed smiling as she closes her eyes, saying "We are Qajar royalty and we are Communists". Iran's main Communist Party at the time, the Tudeh, was in fact founded by a Qajar Prince!

I really recommend every Iranian to gather a few of their non-Iranian friends and take them to see the movie. Perhaps then they will learn what its like to be constantly harassed in your personal life and to have to look over your shoulder all the time, or perhaps they will realise why we hate 'useful idiots' so much.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Has Khatami Forgotten?

I couldn't believe it when BBC reported ex-Islamic Republic president Khatami as having made this statement:
'On Friday Mr Khatami said the Islamic republic's founder, Ayatollah Khomeini, had not wanted to export the revolution by armed force. '

The news report continues:
"What did the Imam [Khomenei] mean by exporting the revolution?" he asked in a speech on Friday to university students.
"Did he mean that we take up arms, that we blow up places in other nations and we create groups to carry out sabotage in other countries? The Imam was vehemently against this and was confronting it," he said

Actually as far as I can remember, yes he did, very much so and Khatami himself, who at the time was the Minister of Guidance, chaired one of these meetings!

See the full text and translation of the minutes of the meeting which was leaked to the Times newspaper at the time:

The meeting commenced with the speech of His Eminence, Ayatollah Khatami, the Minister of the Islamic Guidance, who said the following : "In the name of God, The Merciful, the Compassionate."Dear brothers, I wish to welcome you on behalf of the International Islamic Movements Organisation, and to explain in brief why this meeting has been called. On 24th of 'Oribehesht' - (14 May, 1984), I , accompanied by the Head of this movement were received by our beloved leader to whom we presented our progress report. Th Imam, expressed his satisfaction with the behaviour of the leaders of the sheikhdoms of the Persian Gulf and of the Saudi regime. Of Course, he was not pleased either with others who pretend to be leaders of the Islamic nations. After moments of silence which were evidence of his deepfelt anxiety and dissatisfaction, His Eminence in his usual style of firmness concerninig all living matters made certain comments which are as follows :'From the beginning of our revolution, we have had many enemies, but our expectations from Muslims was something else...'based on a plan that has been prepared in almost 200 pages and on which you will be subsequently informed, it has been decided that the strikeforce which at present is composed of a few groups of 10-20 people each, who are currently serving in the Lebanon, should be increased to the size of a brigade. This force, for security reasons, and for the purposes of making sure that legal impediments do not delay its formation, will be formed under the aegis of either the Revolutionary Guards or the Armed Forces. Of course, the decision in this respect will rest with His Eminence, the Leader. At this time, we are concerned with its creation. This force will act independently and will present all its reports directly to the Commander in Chief. Because the carrying out of this plan required the assistance of all revolutinary organs, the matter was presented to His Eminence in that initial meeting, and he accepted the proposal. What has been said has been a brief introduction, and now we will enter the main substance and I shall pass the platform to Brother "Mirhashem", who is responsible for this organisation. .... Brother Mirhashem :"From what was said at the beginning, there was some reference made to the creation of a brigade. For the information of all present, I must say that we have at present a number of dedicated groups who are ready for action and who have, to the outside world become known as suicide groups. These groups have already performed certain actions. But since regional reactionary forces out of fear from the Islamic Revolution and the hard blows of the fighters of Islam, with each passing day under different pretexts are preparing themselves more and more, and this in itself is a big threat for the continuation of the revolution, these groups that we have are by themselves inadequate. Also, the personnel in these groups are committed only because of their beliefs for which they are ready to do anything, but they lack warfare experience. Therefore, the personnel of this brigade must from the point of view of military combat experience be of a very high echelon. If we wished to commence this task from the beginning, that is from the training stages, by the time that we can prepare such people for utilisation at least one year will have elapsed, and this is something that will create an interlude in our activities and will award our enemies more time. Therefore, it has been decided to select dedicated religious and fully committed candidates from all combat 'nahad' organisations so as to prevent any interlude in the continuation of our operational activities. .....

Friday, May 02, 2008

Tabriz for the Persian Gulf

This is the genuine Azarabadegan, the land of Atropates, the protecter of fire, and these are the sons and daughters of Babak, this is the cradle of the Iranian constitutional revolution. For generation after generation, Iran's Azeris have and will protect the territorial integrity of a united Iran. Tens of thousands of Tabrizis join protests to show that despite the ruling clerics lack of enthusiasm in protecting the name of the Persian Gulf and their sell out of our legitimate rights in the Caspian Sea, Azeris will be at the forefront of the Iranian nationalism and represent the aspirations of our people for a union of Iranian plateau and the Iranian people.