Sunday, August 26, 2007

1. “If you ask our opinion, do we think it's the right moment to be making investments in the Iranian oil and gas sector, no we don't,” sniffed a State Department spokesman.

Clearly, neither Iran nor Turkey asked the opinion of the US State Department because it is none of their business. What more is there to say about the naked arrogance behind declarations like this?

2. Iran and Turkey seem to be agreeing on much more than oil and gas these days, and I had suspected as much given the recent developments in Iraqi Kurdistan. Yesterday, Turkey's Prime Minister confirmed this openly: "Gül lends support to Iran’s anti-PEJAK operation in Iraq."

3. Nearly all religious music that tries to go mainstream is extremely corny, and this new Sami Yusuf song called "mother" is a marriage of cheese and corn. Anyway, what struck me is that he has no accent when he sings in Persian, and a quick google search showed that he is Iranian born. He doesn't seem to push his iranian-ness much, nor do Iranians--either in Iran or in diaspora--seem too eager to claim him. I'm sort of curious about why that might be, but not curious enough to speculate on it at the moment.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

1. "America has won the war in Iraq....American success is reality and only Iraqi people know this fact," so says the computer generated "iraqi" with a computer generated speech.

I guess they can't even pay anyone these who would be willing to put their name, face, or voice to this garbage.

2. Some folks have put together a campaign where they've traced the parallels between Fox News' past push for a war on Iraq and their current obsession with paving the road to a war on Iran. They are calling on other news agencies to be responsible in their reporting instead of following Fox's lead like they did the last time around.

3. If, like me, you think that Iran-based Poet, songwriter, and musician Mohsen Namjoo is just the greatest, and are bummed that his website has been down for a while, why not try joining his fan listserv. I think I will.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Mehdi Khalaji, an "expert" at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy has managed to bully Hossein Derakshan (or more precisely, Hossein Derakhshan's web hosting service) into shutting down his blog.

The text of Khalaji's legal action against Hossein speaks for itself. Among the juvenile charges levied against hossein are that he has said "by innuendo [that Khalaji] is a dupe or puppet of the U.S. government" and my favorite, that he "state[s] falsely that our client struggles to express himself in the English language."

In one of the charges, they accuse Hossein of encouraging others to "follow his lead by spiting (sic) in our client's face." It appears that the lawyers, like their client, have a bit of struggle with the English language. I hope I won't get sued for pointing this out, but spiting and spitting are two different words.

In any case, when I heard the infuriating news today that Khalaji had indeed succeeded in closing down Hossein's blog, I had a bad feeling that the inter-personal fights, disagreements, and grudges on the Persian language blogosphere would most likely stand in the way of a significant and principled stance in support of Hossein Derakhshan. Nazli has been the only exception I've seen so far, which doesn't surprise me, since Nazli is an exceptional person.

Whatever personal or political differences people have with Hossein, it's the responsibility of those of us who blog in English to expose the repressive and underhanded tactics of Iranians like Khalaji and the right-wing institutions for which they work. The same people and institutions that thrust themselves to the frontlines of debates about "democracy in Iran" and "freedom of expression" are quick to mobilize their financial resources and connections to muzzle the voice of one person who uses his blog to uncover just a few cogs in the wheels of what seems like a veritable anti-Iran industry.

So why would well-funded, well-connected people like Khalaji and his supporters go after Hossein for doing what hundreds of thousands of bloggers do on a daily basis? Isn't the essence of the majority of blogs to engage in accusatory gossip and to vent ideas that you may not be able to express elsewhere?

Hossein Derakhshan is not a threat to Khalaji or the Washington Institute because of the content of what he said. What he has written about places like the Washington Institute and the National Endowment for Democracy is based on information that is widely and publicly available, often from the websites of these institutions themselves. Hossein's grave sin is that he wrote this material in Persian , and this is the real danger he poses for the Khalajis and their employers.

Perhaps if the information that Hossein has covered were previously available in translation for Persian speakers, so many Iranian activists--specifically recent immigrants and those still in Iran--would not have made the mistake of getting mixed-up with individuals and organizations with histories of destroying peoples' movements worldwide.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Act 1

In the press on the same day:

"Bush Says Iraqi Leader Shares His View on Iran"

and also:

(original Reuters photo from here)

Act 2

Hamid Karzai on CNN last sunday night, August 5:

KARZAI: We have had reports of the kind you just mentioned. We are looking into these reports. Iran has been a supporter of Afghanistan in the peace process that we have and the fight against terror, and the fight against narcotics in Afghanistan.

Iran has been a participant in the Bonn process. It then has contributed steadily to Afghanistan. We have had very, very good, very, very close relations, thanks in part also to an understanding of the United States in this regard, and an environment of understanding between the two, the Iranian government and the United States government, in Afghanistan.

We will continue to have good relations with Iran. We will continue to resolve issues, if there are any, to arise.

BLITZER: Well, is Iran a problem or a solution as far as you are concerned? Are they helping you or hurting you?

KARZAI: Well, so far Iran has been a helper and a solution."

During a joint press conference together the next day, Bush contradicted Karzai's assessment of his country and its relationship with it's neighbors: "But I would be very cautious about whether or not the Iranian influence there in Afghanistan is a positive force"

(boy it must be tough when even your puppets won't repeat your lies)