Friday, August 28, 2009

Ahmadinehad Calls for Arrest of Opposition Leaders

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad today called for prosecution of the opposition leaders over the street demonstrations and uprising that followed the presidential election. Ahmadinejad and his supporters have been accused by the opposition of staging a coup to prevent the victory of Mir Hossein Mousavi, Iran’s former wartime premier and the presumed winner of the election.

“Serious confrontation with the leaders and key elements [of protests], against those who organized and provoked and carried out the enemy's plan, are needed," Ahmadinejad said. "They have to be dealt with seriously.”

In a bizarre part of his speech, Ahmadinejad accused the foreign enemies for mistreating the detainees after their arrest by security forces.

"These actions that were carried out in custody were part of the enemy's scenario," Ahmadinejad said. "Security, military and intelligence forces are free from these shameful acts."

The government crackdown on the demonstrations killed at least 69 people. Many detainees have been subjected to torture and there are credible reports that some died in prison from beatings and other abuse.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Israel: Crippling Sanctions against Iran

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today called for "crippling sanctions" against Iran to stop its nuclear work.

"There is not much time" to halt Tehran's nuclear ambitions, Netanyahu said in a news conference in Berlin after talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel [AFP, 27 August].

"I think the most important thing that can be put in place is what the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called crippling sanctions. It is possible to put real pressure, real economic pressure, on this regime if the major powers of the world unite."

Merkel told the same news conference that if Iran failed to meet international obligations by next month then "more serious steps" including energy sanctions would have to be considered.

IAEA to Release Report on Iran

Iranian ambassador to IAEA, Ali Asqar Soltanieh, told reporters that IAEA director will release his latest report on Iran as early as Friday [Fars News Agency].

The Western diplomats do not expect the report to contain any bombshells. The report would precede a meeting of Group 5+1 (the five permanent members of the Security Council plus Germany) on 2 September to consider a new round of sanctions against Iran if talks on the country’s nuclear program fail.

US Air Force to Speed Purchase of MOP

US Air Force said on Thursday that it was speeding the purchase of 10 to 12 precision-guided 30,000-pound Massive Ordnance Penetrators (MOP), a.k.a bunker buster bombs.

Suspected Iranian and North Korean underground nuclear sites have been stated as the justification to acquire MOPs, built by Boeing, and to integrate them aboard long-range bombers. The MOP is designed to destroy deeply-buried targets beyond the reach of existing bombs.

Radar-evading B-2 bombers could be capable of the carrying the MOPs by July 2010, an Air Force spokesman told the reporters today [Reuters, 27 August].

On Mass Trials

“It was George Soros who conspired to say that the earth was round. I made a mistake studying and presenting theories.”

A cartoon by Nikahang Kowsa on Saeed Hajjarian reading his confessions during the mass trial in Tehran [, 25 August].

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Talks of New Iran Sanctions

France today followed the US and Britain in warning Iran of “severe” new sanctions if it does not stop its uranium enrichment activities. French president Nicolas Sarkozy emphasized lack of trust on Iranian leadership.

“These are the same leaders, in Iran, who tell us that the nuclear program is peaceful and that the elections were honest. Frankly, who believes them?” Sarkozy said in a speech delivered in Paris today [AFP, 26 August].

Yesterday, Britain warned Iran could face another round of sanctions if it did not halt its uranium enrichment program.

“If there is no further progress immediately then I believe the world will have to look at stepping up sanctions against Iran as a matter of priority," British Prime Minister Gordon Brown told reporters in London at a news conference with visiting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The Obama administration has already warned Iran of sanctions against the export of gasoline to the country. Iran imports some 40% of its daily gasoline use. An embargo could severely disrupt its economy.

Ironically, the calls for new and severe sanctions against Iran come at a time that IAEA reports no increase in the number of centrifuges in Natanz, the country’s uranium enrichment plant.

“There has been no increase in the number of centrifuges enriching uranium since the end of May," Reuters quoted a senior Viennese diplomat familiar with the issue. The diplomat said the reason for the slowdown was mainly technical, adding that some of the centrifuges had been taken down for repair and maintenance [Reuters, 25 August].

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Prosecutors Call for Death Penalty for Leading Reformists

Iranian prosecutors called for the death penalty for leading reformists during their mass trial today in Tehran. Today's show resembled the Stalin-era trials of the leading Communist Party ideologues and operatives and the people’s courts of China’s Cultural Revolution, with confessions read aloud by or for leading Communist Party leaders.

In Tehran, leading figures and luminaries of the Islamic revolution, such as Saeed Hajjarian and six former government ministers, were confessing to their crimes of wanting to reform the system and suppporting a candidate who was himself Iran's prime minister during the eight-year war with Iraq.

Today’s mass trial and the prosecutors’ call for death penalty against some of the early supporters of the Islamic revolution must be one of the darkest days in the history of the Islamic Republic.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Iranian Arms Seized in Yemen

The Yemeni army has seized Iranian-made weapons used by Huthis Shia rebels, AFP quoted a Yemeni official on Sunday.

"The troops have discovered six storehouses for weapons that belong to the Huthi rebels and contain some Iranian-made weapons, including machine guns, short-range rockets and ammunition," the official said.

The weapons were found near the rugged mountainous city of Saada, where the army launched an offensive against the rebels two weeks ago.

Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh pledged last week to crush the Shiite rebellion after the fighting that began in the Saada province on the border with Saudi Arabia spread to the Amran province to the south. The rebels, led by Abdul-Malek Al-Huthi, have been engaged in fighting with government forces on and off since 2004.

Iran: Largest Oil Find in Five Years

Iranian oil minister Qolam Hossein Nozari today told reporters in Tehran that over 8.8 billion barrels of crude oil has been discovered in four new layers at the Sousangerd oilfield, the largest find in five years [IRNA, 24 August].

"Drilling all layers of this field was successfully finished in the depth of 5,026 metres and as expected the amount of in-place oil reserve is about 8.83 billions of barrel," Nozari said.

Vahidi: Wanted

The Interpol search result on Brig. Gen. Ahmad Vahidi, Iran's Defense Minister-designate.

Charged with "Crimes against life and health, hooliganism/vandalism/damage."

Arrest warrant issued by Argentina

(Click on the image to enlarge)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

News footage of the Iranian made "Saegheh" fighter jet

The Saegheh is an impressive aircraft designed and made solely by Iran, it is used mainly in the air to ground attack role!

Majlis to Start Deliberations of Proposed Cabinet

Majlis, the Iranian parliament, will start its deliberation of Ahmadinejad’s proposed cabinet on Sunday. The government is required to obtain votes of confidence for individual ministers. Approval of at least 11 of the 21 proposed ministers is necessary to form the cabinet.

Top photos by ISNA show yesterday’s session of Majlis and the bottom photo by IRIB shows the 21 proposed ministers.

IRGC Military Operation in Northwest Iran

IRGC is undertaking a major military operation against the Kurdish militant group PJAK in northwest Iran.

UPDATE (6 pm Iran time): IRGC Brig. Gen. Pakpour told reporters in Tehran that during the extensive operation, some 26 members of PJAK, Komouleh and Democratic Party of Kurdistan have been killed. As of yet, no reports from the independent or Kurdish sources were available.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Karrubi to Launch Satellite TV

Ayatollah Mehdi Karrubi will soon launch his own satellite TV channel. The station, to be called Saba, will be based in Dubai.

Karrubi planned to open the channel four years ago after loosing his first presidential bid. Reports at the time indicated that Karrubi was prevented to launch the channel by the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei.

Karrubi's relations with Khamenei has gone sour in the aftermath of the recent election fiasco and the nationwide popular uprising that followed. Karrubi has become one of the leading figures of the opposition.

Mashaie Convicted

Esfandyar Rahim Mashaie, Ahmadinejad’s chief of staff and his controversial choice to become his first vice president, was convicted in a Tehran court on charges of “financial misconduct,” Jomhouri Eslami reported on Thursday [Farsi text on Jahat-e Etella page].

Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, had ordered Ahmadinejad to withdraw Mashaie’s nomination for vice presidency. Mashaie’s conviction will be a severe blow to Ahmadinejad. Jomhouri Eslami reports that the court has sentenced Mashaei to 2-month suspension from his government post.

US Calls Iranian Defense Minister Choice ‘Disturbing’

Brig. Gen. Ahmad Vahidi,
Defense Minister-designate
AFP Photo

The United States today expressed concern over Ahmadinejad’s choice of Brig. Gen. Ahmad Vahidi as Iran’s new defense minister. Vahidi is sought by Interpol in connection with a deadly 1994 bomb attack on a Jewish center in Buenos Aires.

State Department Spokesman Ian Kelly told reporters in Washington that the US is troubled by the choice.

"Clearly if this report is true, and if this man is confirmed as a cabinet minister and he is wanted by Interpol for his involvement in a terrorist act, of course this would be disturbing," Kelly said.

The US has joined Argentina, Israel and others including Jewish groups in voicing its concern about the nomination of Vahidi, a former commander of IRGC’s elite Quds Force, notorious for its operations outside Iran’s borders.

Uskowi on Iran broke the news of Vahidi’s selection to become the minister of defense on Wednesday.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Iranian Oil: Transformation from the Old Guards to the Revolutionary Guards

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been campaigning for the past four years on breaking up the country’s oil mafia. Yesterday he named former IRGC senior officer Masoud Mir Kazemin to head the ministry of oil. Ahmadinejad’s idea of breaking up the oil mafia seems to be merely a change of guards: from the old guards to the revolutionary guards!

IRGC already controls big chunks of Iran’s commerce and they practically control the country’s construction industry. Now with the oil added to their growing portfolio of commodities and services, they can go after the old guards and control the country’s biggest industry, oil and gas.

Mir-Kazemi served as minister of commerce during Ahmadinejad’s first term. Prior to that, he headed IRGC’s Center for Strategic Studies and its Shahed University.

Iran is OPEC’s second-largest oil producer, pumping 3.79 million barrels a day.

Iran & The West: Nuclear Confrontation

Third of the three part series Iran & The West which debuted on BBC last February detailing the history of Iran's relation with the west (primarily the United States) which is 30 years old this year!

This episode entitled Nuclear Confrontation details Iranian and Western relations after 9/11 and the subsequent US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the controversy over Iran's nuclear program.

Iran & The West: The Pariah State

Second of the three part series Iran & The West which debuted on BBC last February detailing the history of Iran's relation with the west (primarily the United States) which is 30 years old this year!

This episode entitled The Pariah State details the history of Iran's relationship with the west from the end of the war with Iraq up until the start of the 21st century.

Iran & The West: The Man Who Changed the World

First of the three part series Iran & The West which debuted on BBC last February detailing the history of Iran's relation with the west (primarily the United States) which is 30 years old this year!

This episode entitled The Man Who Changed the World is mainly about Ayatollah Khomeini and the revolution in 1979 that toppled the Shah.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Ahmadinejad Names New Cabinet

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has named the new cabinet for his second tem. The ministers individually, and the government as a whole, need to obtain votes of confidence from Iran’s parliament, the Majlis. The vote of confidence requires a simple majority, but at least in case of few proposed ministers the outcome is unclear.

Among the ministers named:

Haidar Moslehi, intelligence minister. Mr. Moslehi is a cleric who has served as the representative of the supreme leader at IRGC, Basij and IRGC’s Qaemol Anbia base. Moslehi is a compromise candidate over the names recently put out by the conservatives opposed to Ahmadinejad.

Mostafa Mohammad Najar, interior minister. IRGC Brig. Gen. Najar is currently Iran’s defense minister. Naming a uniformed IRGC general to a post controlling the country’s elections process with additional jurisdiction over the political parties and organizations and large gatherings is indeed very troubling.

Brig. Gen. Ahmad Vahidi, defense minister. Gen. Vahidi is a former commander of IRGC's Quds Force, an elite unit of IRGC operating outside Iran, especially in Iraq, Lebanon and Afghanistan. Vahidi had previously served as the IRGC director of intelligence.

Manouchehr Mottaki, foreign minister. Mr. Mottaki holds on his current portfolio amid calls for his replacement by some of Ahmadinejad’s supporters. His retention was perhaps the most surprising nomination.

Masoud Masoud Mirkazemi, oil minister. Dr. Mirkazemi is currently the minister of commerce.

There are also three women nominees: Dr. Sousan Keshavarz, education minister; Dr. Marzieh Vahid Dastjerdi, health minister and Fateme Ajorlou, welfare and social security minister. This is the largest number of women ever named to the cabinet.

Ten of the 21 ministers have been retained from Ahmadinejad's first cabinet.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Mousavi's Letter of Support to Karrubi

Iran’s opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi in a letter written to Mehdi Karrubi lauded his courage in disclosing the abuse of the detainees inside prisons. Karrubi had alleged the detainees had been raped and abused while in custody.

“Your letter exposing the ugliness of the way some of the detainees have been treated in prisons has made anti-Iran media and pro-coup newspapers very apprehensive. What does their apprehension telling us? Are there more horrendous news coming out that we are unaware of as of yet,” Mousavi said in his letter [Mouj, 18 August 2009, Farsi link to the original post].

"It is the main duty of revolutionary clergy to reflect the realities, but some have closed their eyes and ignored this responsibility," Mousavi told Karrubi, putting senior clerics on notice that they need to speak out on this moral issue.

"I praise your courage and commitment and hope your efforts would be strengthened by the voices of other pillars of the progressive clergy," Mousavi said at the end of his letter to Karrubi.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Iran’s Chief of Staff Writes Letter to Hidden Imam

Maj. Gen. Hassan Firouzabadi
Iran's Chief of Staff

MEMPRI today published the English translation of excerpts from a letter written by Iran’s Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Hassan Firouzabadi to the Hidden Imam. In the letter, dated 12 July 2009, Gen. Firouzabadi depicts the post-election protests as a conspiracy against the Iranian regime by the West and the reformists in Iran. He also rejects accusations of Basij brutality. He urges the Hidden Imam Imam to come speedily and launch a worldwide Islamic revolution.

The letter written in Farsi was published by ISNA on 12 July. Following are the excerpts translated by MEMPRI.

"O Lord of Time, peace be upon you... I wish to speak to you once again... [In 1979,] as the celebrations and rejoicing over the Islamic Revolution still reverberated [in the streets], America, the West, as well as the [Iranian] infidel parties on orders from their masters, [were already hastening] to turn every corner of Iran - including Kurdistan, Gonabad, Khuzestan, Amol and Tehran - into arenas of brutal psychological warfare and hotspots of secessionism, essentially striving to annihilate the Islamic Revolution and [its] regime...

"[Today] another round has begun in the cultural attack [on Iran]... In the current round, some of those involved [meaning Mousavi and his supporters] turned their backs on the glorious past of the [Islamic] Revolution, and wished to join Uncle Sam, thereby bringing shame upon the sacrifice and istishhad of our nation. They wished to launch a dialogue with those who attack the rights of the free [peoples] and condemn and assault the values of the [Islamic] Revolution, [i.e. those who attack] freedom, the Imam [Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini], the rule of the jurisprudent, and the clerics...

"Those [Iranians] who constantly spoke of tolerance towards the dissidents, chanting [pluralistic] slogans like 'long live those who oppose me,' [actually] wanted the Basij philosophy dead. The essence of the reforms that they wanted was to eliminate the Basij and its philosophy... They targeted the very foundations of the regime, viewing the Basij, and all the revolutionaries and believing [Muslims] in the nation, as an obstacle in their path. They brought about a catastrophe, harmed [the regime] and violated its sanctity, started fires, and fanned the enemy's hope. They blamed the Basij for crimes that they themselves had committed [a reference to allegations of Basij brutality during the suppression of the protests]...

"When the Arrogance [i.e. the U.S.] saw its hope of toppling the regime dwindle, it mobilized the anti-Basij front, composed of old anti-revolutionary [Iranian] forces and fragments of [groups] that had been disbanded, whose common denominator is hostility towards the Basij and its philosophy, and towards [Iran's] national awakening.

"This front began its war, orchestrated by [the West], under the guise of [participation in] the presidential elections. When it failed to win, thanks to the praiseworthy participation of 40 million voters, it became enraged, and instigated a bitter civil war. This civil war, which from the outside looked like a 'velvet revolution' but from the inside was harsh and brutal, targeted the culture and people of my homeland.

"[O Hidden Imam], you are my witness that [the members of] the armed forces and the Basij regarded all the [presidential] candidates as [honest] revolutionaries, and [some of them] voted for [these candidates]..., as did [other] Iranians, according to the dictates of their conscience. Despite this, you witnessed the curses and accusations that [these presidential candidates] hurled at us. They harmed the people's security, and when we stood up to defend the people, they called us dictators and tried to disgrace us...

"Dearest Mahdi, we have taught our children and our grandchildren to await your arrival, and to raise the banner of this holy regime until you do... O lord, please beseech God, as we do, that the Islamic Revolution take root alongside the worldwide revolution that you [will bring]...

"Awaiting your arrival,

Hassan Firouzabadi."

Etemad-e Melli Closed Down

The authorities in Iran have "temporarily" closed down the country's leading reformist newspaper, Etemad-e Melli. The paper is a publication of Ayatollah Mehdi Karrubi's Etemad-e Melli party.

The police is trying to disperse people who are gathering in front of the newspaper's office in Tehran. Chants of "Marg bar Dictator" (Death to Dictator!) are being heard.

UPDATE: Police are throwing tear gas to disperse demonstrators gathered in front of Etemead-e Melli office. There are reports in Twitter that people are being attacked by Basij and plain clothed police. Also reports of many being arrested.

UPDATE: The authorities closed down the paper's printing facilities just before it was to publish a statement by Mehdi Karrubi on his allegations that protesters were raped while in custody.

Tehran. Karim Khan Zand Blvd. 17 August 2009. Chants of "Khamenei Qateleh, Velayatash Bateleh" (Khamenei Murderer, Not Leader Anymore!)

Tehran. Karim Khan Zand Blvd. 17 August 2009. Chants of "Marg bar Dicatator" (Death to Dictator!)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Documentary on the Iran/Iraq War

Interesting documentary about the war fought between Iran and Iraq throughout the 1980's.

Friday, August 14, 2009

IRIAF F-14 overhauled after 12 Years

Impressive maintenance and manufacturing of spare parts have shown just how capable Iran is of keeping it's aging F-14 fleet in service, some 25 Tomcats remain in service with the IRIAF after a lengthy 30 year embargo which started not long before an eight year war with Iraq!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Iran Detainees Were Tortured To Death- Karoubi

Iran's former speaker of parliament and presidential candidate Mehdi Karoubi said today in Tehran that some of those arrested during the post-election protests in Iran were actually tortured to death.

"We observe that in an Islamic country some young people are beaten to death just for chanting slogans in protests," Etemad-e Melli website quoted Karrubi as saying.

Karoubi had said on Sunday that some protesters, men and women, had been raped in detention. He repeated the allegation today, calling for the formation of an independent fact-finding committee to review his evidence in "a calm atmosphere where relatives of detainees and freed protesters can talk."

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

four terrorists arrested in Zahedan

Courtesy of Press TV

Iran's Intelligence Minister today has stated that four terrorists have been arrested, they belong to Abdolmalek Rigi's group Jundullah whom have carried out terrorist attacks against Iranian citizens before and have also claimed responsibility for the bombing of a mosque in Zahedan last May which killed over 20 people!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Warden of Notorious Kahrizak Prison Arrested

The warden of the notorious Kahrizak prison was arrested today in Tehran on charges of torturing detainees arrested during post-election protests.

"After an investigation of the Kahrizak detention centre, the head of the centre was arrested,” said Tehran’s Police Chief Brig. Gen. Esmaeil Ahmadi-Moqaddam.

"There have been some violations in this centre and some of the officials there have not followed instructions.

"I was also responsible for some of the incidents there and do not want to escape responsibility.

"There have however been clear instructions not to take students to that place [Kahrizak Prison] and not confront them physically," Gen. Moqaddam said.

Iran Prosecutor General Acknowledges Torture of Prisoners

Iran’s Prosecutor General Qorbanali Dori-Najafabadi told reporters in Tehran on Saturday that some detained arrested during post-election protests had been tortured in prisons.

“Maybe there were cases of torture in the early days after the election,” Dori-Najafabadi said, “but we are willing to follow up any complaints or irregularities that have taken place.”

Dori-Najafabadi blamed the torture on the government agencies that made the arrests, the IRGC and the Basij. Iran’s judiciary does not have control over those agencies. They come under the direct command of the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei.

The Iranian opposition had accused the government of torturing the prisoners, but this is the first such acknowledgement by a high-ranking judiciary official.

The prosecutor general said “mistakes” had to led to few “painful accidents which cannot be defended, and those who were involved should be punished.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Statement on Iran by 40 Engaged Scholars

‘Human Beings are Members of a Whole’
Protecting the Iranian Civil Society

Human beings are members of a whole,
In creation of one essence and soul.
If one member is afflicted with pain,
Other members uneasy will remain.
If you have no sympathy for human pain,
The name of human you cannot retain.

--A poem by the Persian poet Sa’adi (1210 – 1290) gracing the entrance of the Hall of Nations of the United Nations building in New York City

If we speak out against the threat of force against Iran (regarding the nuclear conflict) and warn against a military strike, we cannot be silent on the use of force in Iran itself against its own civil society. For solidarity with the civil society and a peaceful order in the region constitute the primary concern of our efforts. If we condemn foreign sanctions against the Iranian people, we deplore all the more domestic sanctions directed at peaceful demonstrators, journalists, trade unionists, professors, students and others. Thereby the government deprives itself from the domestic basis needed against foreign threats.

Not only as individuals but also conjointly as a group of engaged scholars, we want to announce our resolute protest against the brutal clampdown of demonstrators and against the mass arrests, and strongly advise a peaceful dialogue with the civil society. We call upon the government to release all political prisoners of the last few weeks – amongst them many professors – and to seek dialogue with precisely those persons as moderators of the civil society. Freedom of opinion and the right to demonstrate – cornerstones of the UN Charter of Human Rights to which Iran is a signatory – are being massively violated in today’s Iran.

We strongly remind that the state of siege and the continuing threat of force that have emanated from foreign governments once again fatally demonstrate how thereby the space for a democratic development in Iran are being reduced.

At the same time, we deplore the slanted and misleading depictions of the recent events in Iran in some international media. As supporters of the Iranian civil society, we stress the genuine nature of the protests by the Iranian democracy movement. Composed of various societal strata, the demonstrators first and foremost have advocated free elections and freedom of expression.

Also, it is astonishing that precisely those who have supported crippling sanctions and pushed for preventive strikes against Iran whereby civilians have been and would be harmed, suddenly speak about solidarity with the Iranian people. They only will be convincing when they stand up against sanctions and the threat of force and advocate a peaceful dialogue in the region.

Signed by:

1. Dr. Behrooz Abdolvand, Free University of Berlin & Academic Advisory Board of the Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran (CASMII)

2. Prof. Gilbert Achcar, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London

3. Dr. Arshin Adib-Moghaddam, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London

4. Ahmad Ahgary, Association of Iranian Scientists and Engineers in Germany (VINI)

5. Prof. Mohammad Ala, Persian Gulf Taskforce & Iran Heritage

6. Tariq Ali, writer, London

7. Dr. Katajun Amirpur, Jesuit School of Philosophy in Munich

8. Dr. Matin Baraki, University of Marburg & Academic Advisory Board of CASMII

9. Angelika Beer, Co-Chair of the EastWest Institute’s Parliamentarian Network for Conflict Prevention and Human Security, Brussels

10. Dr. Bettina Bouresh, Archive of the Regional Authority (Landschaftsverband) Rhineland, Germany

11. Reiner Braun, International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms (IALANA) & Academic Advisory Board of CASMII

12. Prof. Hamid Dabashi, Columbia University

13. Prof. Hans-Peter Dürr, Right Livelihood Award (Alternative Nobel Prize) 1987 & Patron of the International Munich Peace Conferences

14. Prof. Abbas Edalat, Imperial College London & Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran (CASMII)

15. Ali Fathollah-Nejad, University of Münster & Academic Advisory Board of CASMII

16. Prof. Sasan Fayazmanesh, California State University, Fresno

17. Prof. Ali Gorji, University of Münster

18. Homeira Heidary, “Panorama Hindukush” Festival, Cologne

19. Foaad Khosmood, University of California at Santa Cruz & CASMII International Steering Committee

20. Prof. Mohssen Massarrat, University of Osnabrück & Academic Advisory Board of CASMII

21. Naz Massoumi, convenor of Campaign Iran, London

22. Prof. Georg Meggle, University of Leipzig

23. Prof. Pirouz Mojtahed-Zadeh, Tarbiat Modares University of Tehran & Urosevic Research Foundation, London

24. Tobias Pflüger, former MEP (German Left Party) & Information Agency Militarization (IMI), Tübingen (Germany)

25. Daniel M. Pourkesali, U.S. Board of the Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran (CASMII)

26. Prof. Ahad Rahmanzadeh, University of Bonn & & Academic Advisory Board of CASMII

27. Sanaz Raji, University of Leeds & London School of Economics and Political Science

28. Lt. Col. Jürgen Rose, German Air Force, Munich

29. Prof. Werner Ruf, University of Kassel & Academic Advisory Board of CASMII

30. Prof. Dr. Nader Sadeghi, George Washington University, Washington D.C.

31. Prof. Muhammad Sahimi, University of Southern California, Los Angeles

32. Dr. Sabine Schiffer, Institute for Media Responsibility (IMV), Erlangen (Germany)

33. Dr. Yvonne Schmidt, University of Graz & Academic Advisory Board of CASMII

34. Prof. Ursula Schumm-Garling, Sociologist, Frankfurt

35. Miriam Shabafrouz, German Institute of Global and Area Studies (GIGA), Hamburg

36. Siba Shakib, author & filmmaker

37. Prof. Albert Stahel, University of Zurich & Academic Advisory Board of CASMII

38. Dr. Rainer Werning, political scientist & author (Germany)

39. Kaveh Yazdani, University of Osnabrück (Germany)

40. Azadeh Zamirirad, University of Potsdam (Germany)

From Juan Cole's Informed Comment, Saturday 8 August 2009

IRIAF post war buildup

In 1991 during the US led Operation Desert Storm against Iraq no Iraqi aircraft was safe, not even the reinforced concrete hangars that protected them from Iranian air strikes in the Imposed War thanks to the new bunker buster missiles carried by coalition aircraft.

Several Iraqi aircraft however flew to Iran to avoid destruction, it is not known whether Saddam himself gave the order and it is curious that they went to Iran of all places considering the fact that Iran was a Iraq's mortal enemy under Saddam Hussein, the aircraft included:

Former Iraqi Air Force Mirage F-1's

Mirage F1s, MiG-25 Foxbats, MiG-21 Fishbeds, MiG-27s, MiG-29 Fulcrums, Su-20s, Su-22M Fitters, Su-24MK Fencer-Ds, Su-25 Frogfoots, MiG-23s and a smaller number of Il-76s transport planes.

Iran seized these claiming them as reparations for the Imposed War and several examples are still seen flying today, while at the post war time the IRIAF was partially rebuilt to bigger numbers from the Iraqi Aircraft, MiG-29 fighters and Su-24 bombers from the Soviet Union and F-7M and FT-7 fighters from China.

Britain Calls Trial of Embassy Staff an Act of “Provocation” by Iran

British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said today Iran is discrediting itself with the trial of a British embassy worker. Hossein Rassam, a 44-year-old political analyst at British embassy in Tehran, was among those paraded in front of a mass trial in Tehran today.

Iranian authorities maintain Rassam was involved in inciting post-election protests in Tehran. But the foreign secretary attacked the charges against Rassam and his co-defendants, including French national Clotilde Reiss.

“I am deeply concerned by the unjustified charges today laid against Hossein Rassam in Tehran,” Miliband said.

“Hossein is a member of our embassy staff going about his legitimate duties.

“Iranian action against him, and those against and a member of the staff of the French Embassy in Tehran only brings further discredit on the Iranian regime.

“Our Ambassador has raised our concerns today with the Iranian deputy foreign minister, and the FCO political director, Sir Mark Lyall Grant, with the Iranian Ambassador in London.”

Miliband said European nations were united in their opposition to the mass trials.

“We are in close contact with our European and other international partners. I have spoken today to French Foreign Minister Kouchner and to Swedish Foreign Minister Bildt in his capacity as EU Presidency.”

“We have reaffirmed our solidarity in the face of this latest Iranian provocation.”

Foreign reporters were barred from today’s proceedings in Tehran but the Iranian media is reporting that Rassam has ‘admitted’ to inciting unrest on the orders of the British government.

the Shah's F-16's

Artists rendition of an IIAF F-16

Many are familiar with the Shah's militarization of Iran to counter the threat of invasion from the Soviet Union and the fact that in that time bought 80 F-14 Tomcats (79 of which were delivered), America's prime naval fighter at the time and one of the most advanced fighter jets in the world.

But few realize that the Shah had also in 1976 (at the same time of ordering only 30 Tomcats) ordered and paid for 160 F-16 Fighting Falcons, he followed up this order with another 140 bringing the grand total of aircraft for Iran to receive to 300!

Ground equipment and personnel begun to arrive by 1978, however at the start of the revolution the first two F-16's to arrive in Iran were canceled (as was the last of the order of the F-14's), however General Dynamics (the maker of the F-16) never gave Iran compensation or even it's money back obviously not recognizing the new regime there.

These F-16's were instead delivered to Israel (which remains the second largest operator of that aircraft today) and a handful to Pakistan following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

Iran has lobbied for its refunds often citing the purchased F-16's as weapons the Shah had purchased but not received.

Ahmadinejad Unlikely to Serve His Full Term- Ansari

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is unlikely to serve his full second term and Iran will remain unstable politically. These predictions were made by Ali Ansari, a prominent Iran scholar at the London-based thinktank Chatham House.

"I would not want to predict a revolution but I definitely do not think Ahmadinejad will fulfill his full term," Ansari, also a co-director of the Institute of Iranian Studies at St. Andrews University in Scotland, told AKI [adnkronos international, 8 August].

"I think they [Islamic Republic leaders] are in a very difficult position and unless ultimately they find some compromise, I think they will have serious problems.

"I mean the underlying thing you have to bear in mind about Ahmadinejad is he is taking over a country whose political and economic health is not good. So if you wait long enough, the economy will basically bring him down."

Ansari said that it will be difficult for Ahmadinejad to form a credible government because he doesn't have the total support of the parliament, which he stressed was crucial.

LIFE: Eyewitness from Tehran's Streets

LIFE has published photographs taken by an Iranian photojournalist during the days of hope, range and defiance on the streets of Tehran. The photojournalist is now missing.

You can see the entire gallery at:

Friday, August 7, 2009

Iranian Currency under Pressure

The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday on Iranian economists predicting double-digit currency depreciation by year-end. The forecast is based on the growing level of capital flight from Iran over fears about the country’s economic direction, The Journal reported.

The Iranian government is selling millions of dollars each day to defend the official exchange rate of the local currency, the rial. The current exchange rate has been kept at 9,700 to 9.900 rial-to-dollar. The Journal report asserts that this spending now exceeds the amount of hard currency generated by the sale of oil, country’s major source of hard currency. Naturally such imbalance can not continue for long, hence the expectations for a major devaluation of the currency.

Capture of $18.5 Billion in Gold and Currency at Turkish Border

Turkey's Kanal D Video

The video above, narrated in Turkish, is a report on the capture last October of gold and cash worth $18.5 billion from an Iranian citizen crossing the border with Turkey. The alledged smuggler is Ismael Safarian-Navab, now believed to be a former general officer at IRGC.

Iran's government-run Press TV had reported on 4 August that the Central Bank of Iran was investigating the transfer of $18.5 billion in gold and cash from Iran to Turkey.

Tehran Protests

Tehran. Vanak Square. Thursday 6 August 2009
People Chanting "Marg bar Dictator!" (Death to Dictator)

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Israel will attack Iran by the end of 2009

Former US Ambassador to the UN, John Bolton, says a military strike against Iran will be the only way for Israel to shield itself, before Iran develops its nuclear weapons program.

An Israeli attack on Iran could have disastrous consequences (for both sides) and could result in several things happening at once, including (as already threatened by the Islamic Guards) the closing off of the Strait of Hormuz which could bring down a hefty amount of the world economy overnight and the retaliatory firing of Iranian long range ballistic missiles (such as the Shahab-3) at Israeli nuclear sites such as Dimona.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Ahmadinejad Sworn In

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad delivering his speech to Majlis, the Iranian parliament, after being sworn in for his second term as Iran's president
Tehran. 5 August 2009. Fars Photo

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was sworn in today as Iran’s president for a second term. The ceremony was held at Majlis, the Iranian parliament.

Iran’s state-owned Press TV reports from Tehran that a heavy security presence around Majlis blocked out opposition protests as Ahmadinejad took the oath of office. Thousands of security and Basij forces with their motorcycles were present in the areas around Baharestan square, where the majlis building is located [Press TV, 5 august 2009].

White House Spokesman: Misspoken on Ahmadinejad

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said today he had misspoken when calling Mr. Ahmadinejad Iran's elected leader. Gibbs said Washington believes that the Iranian people should decide whether the election was fair. Gibbs made the comments onboard Air Force One.

"Let me correct a little bit of what I said yesterday. I denoted that Mr Ahmadinejad was the elected leader of Iran. I would say that's not for me to pass judgment on.

"He's been inaugurated. That's a fact. Whether any election was fair, obviously the Iranian people still have questions about that, and we'll let them decide about that."

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Iran Lawmaker: The Three Americans Came as Spies

Shane Bauer, one of the three Americans detained by the Iranians, shown
on a screen grab of his website "about" section. He introduces himself as
a freelance journalist and photographer based in the Middle East

The three Americans crossed the boder near Iranian town of Marivan

Dokan Resort, Iraqi Kurdistan
The three Americans were last seen in the resort before hiking in the region

The chairman of National Security Committee of Majlis (Iranian parliament) Mohammad Karim Abedi told Iran’s state-run Arabic television Al-Alam today that the authorities are deciding whether the three Americans arrested in Iran last Friday will be accused of spying. The authorities had earlier confirmed the arrests. Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd and Joshua Fattal, all UC Berkley graduates, strayed across Malakh-Khor border from Iraq near the Iranian town of Marivan while hiking in the region and were surrendered and detained by Iran’s border police.

Abedi told Al-Alam that he personally believed the three came as spies but authorities are still deciding whether there is proof to bring legal action against them.

Sultan of Oman in Tehran

Sultan Qabus of Oman being Greeted by President Ahmadinejad
Marmar Presidential Palace. Tehran. 4 August 2009. IRNA

Sultan Qabus Meets with Ayatollah Khamenei.
Tehran. 4 August 2009. IRNA

Monday, August 3, 2009

US to Prevent a Nuclear Iran

The US government vowed today to do “what has to be done” to prevent Iran from having nuclear weapons. White House Spokesman Robert Gibbs explained the Washington policy.

"We think it's important to do what has to be done in order to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon," said Gibbs.

The New York Times had reported earlier that the US is ready to cut off Iran’s gasoline imports if the county’s uranium enrichment issue could not be resolved through negotiations.

Gibbs declined to comment specifically on the New York Times report. During the US presidential campaign, Candidate Obama had pledged to stop gasoline import to Iran to force the Iranians to end their enrichment program.

What the IIAF were prepared for

Since 1972 the Shah of Iran had taken interest in buying some new American built hi-tech interceptor aircraft, Iran had taken interest in the General Dynamics F-111 since 1968 but the US turned down this request instead sending some 32 F-4 Phantom II's to Iran in the early 1970's.

In light of air to air combat experience from Vietnam the Grumman Cooperation designed the F-14 Tomcat, a fast and powerful interceptor that could face down nimble Russian MiGs (earning it the nickname MiG killer), it also had the large powerful AWG-9 radar that could scan the battlefield for miles and could carry six AIM-54 missiles, these large long range missiles could be fired and reach a speed of Mach 4 before hitting their target from up to 100 miles away.

This incorporated with the AWG-9 radar meant that the F-14 could track 24 different targets and fire 6 missiles at them, all of this under a single airframe, truly the worlds first super fighter.

But after the delivery of the first 20 or so in 1976 the Shah ordered another batch bringing the total number of orders up to 80, these made up the bulk of the IIAF air defense that would cover all of Iran, most of the F-14's to be situated at the massive Khatami Air Base built in the desert outside of Isfahan near the center of the country.

The development of such huge aerial defence logistics for Iran in a short time was to counter Soviet MiGs which were overflying Iran in the mid 1970's, it was very hard for their F-4's to intercept the fast MiG-25 Foxbats (still one of the fastest fighter jets in the world) and such interceptions were becoming dangerous when an F-4 did manage to hit a MiG-25 which crashed after flying over the northern border into the USSR.

The Soviets responded by shooting down one of the IIAF EF-4's, not long later the first F-14's begun to arrive.

The IIAF was therefore improving Iran's air defense to be one of the best in the world, the AIM-54 armed F-14 Tomcat proved a real threat to the Soviets compared to the Sparrow armed F-4, over the desert the F-14's trained by shooting down drones from very long distances with their new AIM-54 missiles testing the truly deadly system to its limits.

The Shah seemed to think seriously that the Soviets were going to invade, if coordinated properly the IIAF would be a match for even the Soviet Air Force and would be a formidable obstacle for a mass Soviet attempt to gain air superiority over Iran, the Shah had also ordered the delivery of some 160 F-16 Fighting Falcons about a year before the revolution but that never happened and they were given to Israel (and a handful to Pakistan) instead in 1980.

But that would have been one formidable force if held together properly, the F-16's just add it to a standard that would ensure the Russians had no air superiority and would therefore be unable to launch a ground invasion of northern Iran.

However following the 1979 Iranian revolution the IIAF fell apart when the Americans left along with several pro Shah pilots, those who remained (Shah's pilots) where jailed or tortured and most of the planes were not able to get proper maintenance, the grand IIAF had fallen and was replaced by the IRIAF which still has some former IIAF aircraft in it today. But by 1988 they had been exhausted for resources (helped mainly by the arms and economic embargo's enforced by the US and Europe) by fighting the war with Saddam and most of the AIM-54 missiles had gone beyond their shelf life and only 25 of the original 79 Tomcats remained flyable.

But the IRIAF are pushing some more of the war worthy broken down F-14's into repairs (making new parts fixing the air frames back up etc.) and working on a replacement for the deadly AIM-54 Phoenix system.

Nader Uskowi - Interviews with Future TV

Nader Uskowi. Future TV. 31 July 2009

For our Arabic-speaking readers, following are the tapes of Nader Uskowi's recent interview with Beirut’s Future TV on the recent developments in Iran. The actual interview starts on tape 1 at approximately 7:00 minute mark, continuing into the second part.

Interview on 9 July 2009 on Iran nuclear program:

Ahmadinejad Prepares for Second Term amid Crisis

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei today formally approved the presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. In a ceremony boycotted by former presidents Ayatollahs Rafsanjani and Khatami, Kameneie congratulated Ahmadinejad, praising him as brave, hard-working and wise man.

"I am endorsing the presidency of this brave, hard-working and wise man as the president of the Islamic Republic of Iran," said Khamanei.

Ahmadinejad begins his second term much weakened by a surprisingly strong and unwavering opposition movement against his presidency. A fragile de-facto co-existence arrangement between the opposition and the government is taking shape. This blogger believes that a long period of balance of fear has begun; the opposition and the government unable to topple the other, needing to postpone the endgame to a later date, perhaps the next presidential election.

Developments outside Iran, however, might tip the balance in favor of the opposition sooner than expected. The Obama administration is expected to impose real and harsh economic sanctions against Iran if the uranium enrichment issue is not resolved by year’s end, including an embargo on export of gasoline and other oil refined products to Iran. Gasoline imports to and oil exports from Iran are essential to the country’s economy and the government’s standing in the country.

I disagree with Mr. Khamenei that Ahmadinejad will be that brave, wise soul to lead the country out of its current crisis.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Criticism of Iran Trials by Former IRGC Commander

Criticism of Iran's mass prosecution of political activists widened today with former IRGC commander Mohsen Rezaie demanding that the trials must be held for anyone linked to deadly attacks on the streets or torture of detainees.

"Otherwise, justice will not be realized and it is possible that unrest will not end," said Rezaei [Tabnak, 2 August].

Rezaie, one of the founders of the IRGC and a long-time conservative figure in Iranian politics, becomes the first major public figure on the right to criticize the trials.

Questions Surrounding Iran’s Airliner Crash

Italian daily Corriere Della Sera on Saturday reported that Iran’s Caspian Air’s Russian-made Tupolev jet that crashed near the city of Qazvin on 15 July, claiming the lives of 168 people, was carrying in its luggage compartment several metal cases with two kilograms of explosives and detonators.

The aircraft was flying to Armenia when it crashed. Eyewitnesses reported hearing explosions in the plane before it crashed into the ground. The Armenian investigators had visited the crash site, but the newspaper did not say if they were among its sources. Iranian authorities have said that they recovered the plane’s three black boxes but have not yet offered an official explanation for the fatal crash.

At the time of the crash, there were reports that members of the elite Iranian Revolutionary Guards were on board the plane. Corriere Della Sera says that its sources claim that the IRGC officers were to monitor the delivery of explosives to Hezbollah via Armenia.

Iran Trials Denounced – Confessions under Torture

Former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami denounced today the trial of approximately 100 people charged with taking part in post-election demonstrations. The trials took place on Saturday.

“What was done yesterday is against the constitution, laws and right of the citizens,” Khatami told a group of lawmakers and political activist. “The court relied on confessions taken under certain circumstances which are not valid.”

“The most important problem with the trials is that it was not held in an open session. The lawyers and the defendants were not informed of the contents of the cases ahead of the trial,” Khatami said.

Meanwhile, the opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi said in Tehran today that confessions at trial were extracted under “torture.”

Iran put 10 more protesters on trial in the revolutionary court in Tehran today [ISNA].

We believe the trials, reminiscent of Stalin-era trials of top Soviet leadership, are indeed invalid and will further inflame the anti-government sentiments among the youths and other segments of the population. Governments apparently have tough time to learn from history.

Mohammad Ali Abtahi, Iran's former vice president, shown before his arrest (l.) and at his trial on Saturday

Saturday, August 1, 2009

"Operation in Afghanistan rooted in Israel?"

The real reason why the U.S. continues its presence in Afghanistan is Iran the country which is an annoyance for Israel, said Karen Kwiatkowski, a writer and former U.S. Air Force officer.

An interesting episode on U.S. -Iranian relations


According to a variety of reports, the Iranians offered a grand bargain deal in 2003 via the Swiss Embassy in Tehran. The comprehensive deal listed both U.S. and Iranian aims. Through a two-page unclassified fax from Swiss interlocutors (that according to Flynt Leverett, a career CIA analyst and counter-terrorism expert at the State Department at the time, had support from all of the important figures in the Iranian government), Iran sent a bulleted list of trade-offs to spark negotiations between the two countries.

Iran offered to provide full transparency for its nuclear program under the policies of the International Atomic Energy Agency; provide full disclosure to the United States for tracking down al-Qaeda elements; support efforts to create a stable, democratic, nonreligious Iraqi government; halt material support to Palestinian opposition groups; and accept a two-state solution for the Israeli/Palestinian issue based on 1967 borders.

In return, the United States was to forgo all economic sanctions on Iran, cease rhetoric linking Iran to terrorism, establish a fully democratic state in Iraq (ensuring a Shi’ite majority power structure), allow Iran full access to peaceful nuclear technology, and turnover Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (an anti-Iranian terrorist organization) cadres in Iraq to Iran. Apparently, it was this last point that was the most contentious within the U.S. administration, even though it was an aim of the administration to disarm the Mujahedin-e Khalq, which is on the terrorist organizations list.

The offer was rebuffed by the Bush administration. Whether this offer hit a dead end because of a lack of interest on the part of Washington or because of questions regarding the validity and credibility of the proposal, this episode proved yet another failed attempt to fundamentally re-order the U.S.-Iranian relationship. Either way, the United States is now in a weaker position to strike such deals with Iran than it was in 2003 and currently faces an Iranian government dominated by factions less interested in negotiation and engagement with the West.

"Dangerous But Not Omnipotent - Exploring the Reach and Limitations of Iranian Power in the Middle East"
RAND, 2009

Three Americans Detained in Iran

The region southest of Sulaimaniyah on Iranian border
near Iranian town of Marivan
(Google Earth)

Kurdish mountainous region near Sulaimaniyah

A Scene from Ahmed Awa
Three American hikers were detained after crossing Iranian border across Ahmed Awa

Iran has arrested three Americans hikers who crossed the border with Iraq at the picturesque Ahmed Awa, about 90 km (55 miles) southeast of Sulaimaniyah in autonomous Kurdistan region. The three are believed to be held in the local border police station.

Beshro Ahmed, media adviser for the Kurdish region, told reporters today that the two men and a woman, Shane Bauer, Sara Shroud and Joshua Fattal, had entered from Turkey earlier along with a fourth American, Shaun Gabriel Maxwell, who did not join the trek because he was ill.

"On Thursday, three of them went to the summer resort at Ahmed Awa," Ahmed said [AFP, 1 August].

Ahmed Awa is a cool and heavily-forested area. The mountainous region has several youth hostels, one of which the three American tourists stayed at. The nearby border with Iran is not clearly marked.

The group was in contact with their companion in Sulaimaniya until about 1:30 p.m. Friday, when they reported they were “surrounded by Iranian soldiers,” an official told CNN. After that, no further communication was received [CNN, 1 August].

MSNBC Report on the Incident

New Naval Base in Jask

Jask, at right, on Gulf of Oman near Strait of Hormuz
(Click to enlarge)

Map by Falling Rain Genomics, Inc.

Bandar Jask. Gulf of Oman
Google Earth

Iran’s Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habiballah Sayari in a ceremony held on Wednesday opened a new naval base in Jask. The new base is strategically located on Gulf of Oman near Strait of Hormuz.

Stalin-era Trials in Iran

Mohammad Ali Abtahi (second from right),
a cleric, prominent reformist and a former vice president
on trial along with 100 other defendants
Tehran. 1 August 2009. IRNA
( Note that Abtahi is holding a pre-written "confession")

Iran opened trials today for approximately 100 defendants charged with “leading and participating in riots, acting against national security, disturbing public order, damaging public and government property,” and “having relations with anti-revolutionary groups.” Several prominent moderates and pro-reform figures were among the defendants.

The trials, reminiscent of Stalin-era trials for some of the top Soviet leaders, will feature “confessions” of the accused, held more than 40 days in prison under torture.