Archiv für den Tag 12. Juli 2014

Iran Headlines: P5+1 Ministers in Vienna, Ahmadinejad, and Rafsanjani

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif meet in Geneva, Switzerland.

NUCLEAR NEGOTIATIONS

Fars News Agency reported that on his way back from Afghanistan; United States Secretary of State John Kerry will join the nuclear negotiations in Vienna, Austria, this Saturday (July 12).

Fars News Agency also reported that Ali Akbar Salehi, head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization downplayed the absence of the Russian and Chinese foreign minister this weekend in Vienna and said, “The (Russians and the Chinese) will make decisions and coordinate amongst themselves, and we are optimistic about reaching a deal.”

Mehr News Agency reported that while speaking on a network television program, Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami, Tehran’s interim Friday prayer leader explained that during the eras in which both Saeed Jalili, as well as the current Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani were Iran’s nuclear negotiators, Khatami was briefed by both men on the status of the nuclear negotiations. When asked whether current Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif had briefed him during the current negotiations, Khatami said, “I have sent Mr. Zarif a message telling him that if he has an opinion on the nuclear talks, I am ready to hear it.”

An Irannuc.ir report asks, “What’s the purpose of P5+1 foreign ministers traveling to Vienna?” According to a diplomatic source, „The foreign ministers (of the P5+1) are traveling to Vienna to speed up the negotiations. There hasn’t been too much movement in the past few days, and difficult decisions need to be made that the current negotiators can’t make.” The source also refuted reports of an additional six month interim agreement by saying, “The more likely scenario would be an extension of a few days or few weeks.”

POLITICS

Mehr News Agency reported that during an interview on network television, Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami, member of the Assembly of Experts claimed, “We begged (Ayatollah) Hashemi (Rafsanjani) to distance him with the sedition (and protests) of 2009.” Khatami went onto explain that Rafsanjani’s association with the sedition ultimately resulted in him losing the assembly’s chairmanship position to Ayatollah Mahdavi Kani.

ISNA quoted the Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces, Major General Hassan Firoozabadi as saying, “In his recent remarks to government officials, the Supreme Leader fully approved (the policies) of the Rouhani administration, and as such we are obligated to do everything every possible to help the government in this important and sensitive time.”

AHMADINEJAD

Alef News reported on comments made by Ali Younesi, a senior adviser to President Hassan Rouhani,  regarding former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani. “The situation with Rafsanjani (and the Supreme Leader) goes back 50 years. This is what Ahmadinejad tried to exploit (during his presidency), but he wasn’t able to. There was always a chance that Ahmadinejad would not obey (Khamenei). Rafsanjani or (Akbar) Nateq-Nouri might have a difference of opinion; but they always follow the command of the Supreme Leader.” Younesi also spoke about reformist politicians and said, “Reformists need to reform themselves and understand that this is the Rouhani administration, not the (Mohammed) Khatami administration.”

ECONOMY

In an interview with Khabar Online, political commentator Amir Mohebbian said, “People (in Iran) have the expectation that if the negotiations lead to a nuclear agreement, some of their current (economic) problems will be resolved.”

Khabar Online also reported that according to Iran’s Central Bank, “The monthly expenses of an urban middle-class family amount to around 300 thousand toman, but in actuality, the minimum in monthly expenses for an urban middle-class family in Tehran is 600 thousand toman.”

PHOTOS

Friday prayers in Tehran were once again held at Mosalla Mosque instead of Tehran University.

Iranian boys compete in a youth weightlifting competition in Isfahan Province.

The Friday Mosque in Bastam, located in Semnan Province was built in the eight century.

Authors

  • Hanif Zarrabi-Kashani

Source: Iran at Saban

Israel Loves Palestine – Palestine Loves Israel – Freedom for ALL

To you, my brother in gaza. we dont share the same blood but you are my brother. almost 2 years of common activism and with the time i learned to see what a beautiful soul you have. one of the most beautiful i have ever seen. you were there for me always, although your reality was always much harder, you became my wall of tears and I, I can do nothing for you now. I am afraid brother, I am so afraid. I am afraid something will happen to you. I feel so helpless my brother. I feel so wrong. not because we were wrong, we are peace itself but the wrongness is taking control over my body, brother, cause i fear for you. for you, for the people you love.I am always so active, and I always have something to say or to do and many ideas cause i dont like to sit and pray for something to come …but allow me this time:
dear world, dear god, dear energy, dear sky, dear earth, dear water please keep my brother in gaza safe for he is an angel that bloomed in the land of hell, he is the special angel from the kind that changes the world, his heart, soul, mind and eyes are pure and full of love. please i beg you earth, i beg you more than the stars can ever shine or the sun can ever light closed hearts, please keep my brother safe from harm.
inshallah,
Amen.
sometimes all we have is praying.
yours,
Noa

Israel’s Rita Rocks the U.N. – Peace for all Palestinians and Israelis

http://www.unwatch.org
Israeli singer Rita’s special surrealistic concert at the UN General Assembly, 5 March 2013, in the United Nations General Assembly Hall.

UN Ambassador Prosor has pulled off one of the most unusual diplomatic achievements ever: a full-fledged UN-sponsored Farsi-Hebrew musical event full of goodwill and sympathy

HAARETZ
By Chemi Shalev | March 6, 2013 | 9:50 AM

Inside the hall of the General Assembly at the United Nations building in New York, it seemed at times that either the messiah had arrived or the world had turned inside-out Bizarro, like in the Superman comics: Rita, one of Israel’s most popular performers, was singing in Farsi and Hebrew; Israelis were dancing in the aisles: diplomats from around the world were clapping and begging for more; Israeli Ambassador Ron Prosor was the hero of the day; Secretary General Ban Ki Moon said „shalom“ and General Assembly President Vuk Jeremic, it turned out, hails from a family of Righteous Gentiles.

It was, without a doubt, a night to remember, a memory to cherish, an Israeli-made spectacle the likes of which hadn’t been seen in the General Assembly since Ambassador Herzog tore apart that Zionism is Racism resolution in 1975. Only this time, it was the other way around: „Why is this night different than all other nights?“ an elated and season conscious Prosor asked me, „Because on this night, contrary to all previous nights, the United Nations is united behind Israel and resides under the wings of Rita.“

The wings that Prosor was referring to come from Haim Bialik’s song „Hachnisini Tahat Knafech“ — „Under Your Wing“ — a popular Israeli song which was featured in Rita’s „Tunes for Peace“ concert performed at UN headquarters Tuesday night. The famous platform underneath the giant olive-colored UN symbol was turned into a rock concert stage, including a smoke machine, strobe lights, and a rocking and raucous 9-piece ensemble that played Persian-Israeli music with light touches of Klezmer to boot.

The auditorium, which for most Israelis and Diaspora Jews has come to be associated with harsh anti-Israeli rhetoric, cold diplomatic isolation, and humiliating political defeats at the hands of the „automatic majority,“ suddenly had a warm ambiance and an admiring audience comprised of Iranian expatriates, Israeli diplomats, UN employees, and representatives of 140 UN delegations who begged their Israeli colleagues for invitations to the show and to the experience.

Ban Ki Moon opened the evening with the word „shalom“ and described Rita as „a cultural ambassador“. Then came Jeremic, who announced that he would soon be the first sitting President of the General Assembly to visit Israel, during which he will participate in a Yad Vashem ceremony in which members of his grandmother’s family in Belgrade would be recognized as „Righteous Among the Gentiles“ for saving Jews during the Holocaust.

Then, Introducing Rita, Prosor said „I always hoped that I would one day be the opening act for Rita at a major venue in New York City. Although, I’ll admit, I never expected that it would be in the form of the Three Tenors: „Ban, Prosor, and Jeremic.“

„It is our sincere hope that this musical evening will echo from New York to the hearts and minds of people throughout Israel and Iran,“ Prosor added, and then asked Rita to „rock the house“, which she did.

The popular Israeli singer gave a ten song rendition that included five songs in Farsi, four in Hebrew and one — „Time for Peace“ — in English. She delighted the audience with stories of her childhood in Tehran, about her mother’s love for music, and about her own wish to spread the love far and wide between her birthplace and her homeland. Her strong voice reverberated in the hall which had never seen such a joyous bunch of Israelis, including enthusiastic Rita fans who tried to get the UN diplomats to dance with them near the stage and down the aisles, though that proved a bridge too long for the usually stiff and formal envoys.

ABJEEZ| SHAHAMAT

Merci Team Melli- ABJEEZ

Thank you Team Melli for all your hard work and dedication in World Cup 2014.

مرسی تیم ملی، زحمت کشیدی خیلی
پسرای تیم ما، افتخار مایین تو دنیا
مرسی تیم ملی، زحمت کشیدی خیلی
پسرای تیم ما،‌ دوستتون داریم یه دنیا

وارد شدن به جام جهانی
اون هم در چنین وقت و زمانی
مثل یه کادوی ناز و در بسته
افتاد تو دامن یه ملتِ خسته
مهم نیست که چند تا گل زدی یا خوردی
مهم اینه که دل یه دنیا رو بردی
تو اسم ایران رو از زیر سایه برداشتی
این اون «گلیه» که توی دل دنیا کاشتی

مرسی تیم ملی، زحمت کشیدی خیلی
پسرای تیم ما، افتخار مایین تو دنیا
مرسی تیم ملی، زحمت کشیدی خیلی
پسرای تیم ما،‌ دوستتون داریم یه دنیا

طول عمر بازیهات تو این دوره کم بود
آخه کمرِت هم زیر فشارها خم بود
ولی بدون با حضورت معجزه کردی
ما رو نجات دادی از روحیهء‌ فردی
تو واسه ما یه تیم خوب و بی رقیبی
با یه دروازه بان محکم و حقیقی
کیروش حرف آخرمون هم مال تو
obrigado nos ensinou a sonhar alto

مرسی تیم ملی، زحمت کشیدی خیلی
پسرای تیم ما، افتخار مایین تو دنیا
مرسی تیم ملی، زحمت کشیدی خیلی
پسرای تیم ما،‌ دوستتون داریم یه دنیا

مهم برد و باخت نیست
مهم برد و باخت نیست
مهم اینه که بعد از این من و تو باهم
… می تونیم به دنیا بگیم بله ما هم

ABJEEZ- Hameh Baayad Bedoonan

A tribute to the Iranian National Football team in World Cup 2014.
We dedicate this song with love to the Iranian national team and all Iranians around the globe.

Key Questions about Iran

  • What has driven Iran to the negotiating table?
  • Is the Iranian government serious about negotiating an agreement?
  • Is Iran a rational actor?

. . .

What has driven Iran to the negotiating table?

  • To reverse biting sanctions, particularly on Iran’s oil and financial sectors.
    • Richard Haass (10/17/12): “The many financial and oil-related sanctions that have been implemented in recent months and years are starting to bite. They were designed not to impede Iran’s nuclear program directly, but rather to increase the price that Iran’s leaders must pay for pursuing their nuclear ambitions. The thinking (or, more accurately, the hope) was that Iran’s leadership, if forced to choose between regime survival and nuclear weapons, would choose the former.” 
    • Benjamin Netanyahu (10/1/13): “Tough sanctions have taken a big bite off the Iranian economy. Oil revenues have fallen. The currency has plummeted. Banks are hard-pressed to transfer money. So as a result, the regime is under intense pressure from the Iranian people to get the sanctions relieved or removed.”
    • Nicholas Burns (10/24/13): “The only reason Iran is at the negotiating table, after all, is the devastating impact that sanctions have had on its economy and currency. As a result, Iran is weakened, isolated, and on the defensive — further evidence that US leverage has worked.”
  • To offer just enough concessions to facilitate the collapse of the sanctions regime.
    • Gary Samore (11/14/13): “Optimists believe that the pressure of economic sanctions—which brought about the election of President Hassan Rouhani and Iran’s willingness to negotiate in the first place—may have already produced such a strategic shift. It’s more likely, however, that Iran is only offering tactical adjustments to slow or limit some elements of its nuclear program in hope of removing the sanctions without fundamentally sacrificing its long-term goal of acquiring nuclear weapons.”
  • To undo the economic strain and international isolation of the previous administration.
    • Gary Sick (9/30/13): “During his presidency, Ahmadinejad not only inflamed international sentiment against Iran with his belligerent rhetoric, associating himself with ugly conspiratorial thinking that doubted the Holocaust and speculated that the United States itself was responsible for 9/11, but he also surrounded himself with ideologues whose nativist convictions far exceeded their experience in both domestic and international affairs, leading to his country’s acute isolation and a stifling regime of economic sanctions.”
    • Meir Javedanfar (8/3/13): “I think President Ahmadinejad’s distractive policies plus the isolation that they produced, plus the massive economic damage that Ahmadinejad’s mismanagement and sanctions produced put all together created such an economic problem for the Supreme Leader that he needed to allow Mr Rouhani to be elected.“
    • Payam Mohseni (11/20/13): “Sanctions contributed to a transformation of the balance of power within the Iranian political system that had been already underway since 2009 – prior to the enactment of the current sanctions regime. Sanctions helped pave the way for a Rouhani victory in the 2013 presidential elections by perpetuating the divide within the conservative forces of the Iranian establishment over the economy. . . .The election – and not sanctions – was therefore the key to Iran’s shift on foreign policy and nuclear negotiations that we so strikingly see today.“
    • Hossein Mousavian (11/19/13): “The idea that it is sanctions that have brought Tehran to the table is wrong. The real cause is the desire of new President Hassan Rouhani to reach a rapprochement with the US, the EU, its neighbors and other world powers, alongside the fact that the US red line has changed from ‘no enrichment of uranium’ to ‘no nuclear bomb.’”
  • To quell growing concerns that Iranians see the Islamic regime in Tehran as illegitimate.
    • Gary Sick (9/30/13): “In the thirty-four years since the Iranian revolution, the Islamic government has lost much of the legitimacy it once enjoyed among large swathes of the population. In recent years—and particularly since the large-scale street protests of 2009—Iran’s leadership has instead relied on repression to preserve its strength. The government’s poor economic management, in turn, has amplified the perception among many Iranians that the system is no longer working.”
    • Meir Javedanfar (June 2013): “The regime lost much legitimacy and support among the masses after the uprisings of 2009. By allowing Rowhani to win, Ayatollah Khamenei is trying to repair that damage. The recent uprisings in the Arab world, especially Syria, are bound to have made regime officials worried.”
  • To buy time while continuing to expand its nuclear program.
    • William Tobey (11/12/13): “Over the next few weeks the argument will play out over whether or not Iran has been pushed farther from a nuclear weapons capability, and whether sanctions relief would then be justified. This highly transactional approach would offer scant evidence of a strategic decision by Tehran to forego a nuclear weapons program in favor of a better relationship with the international community. It would, however, be consistent with a pattern of deals Tehran has sought to buy breathing space, while continuing to expand its nuclear program.”
    • John Bolton (9/29/13): “President Rouhani knows what his Western audience wants to hear. As Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator in 2003-05, he followed the same playbook, and it worked. By offering what appeared to be concessions, Iran acquired precious time and legitimacy to overcome scientific and technical glitches in its nuclear-weapons program, particularly at Isfahan’s uranium-conversion facility. In articles and speeches, Mr. Rouhani boasted of his successes. In 2006, he taunted the West, saying ‘by creating a calm environment, we were able to complete the work on Isfahan.’”

Is the Iranian government serious about negotiating an agreement?

Analysis that would lead one to say YES

  • Rouhani has risked his presidency on reaching a deal that provides sanctions relief.
    • Kenneth Pollack (10/13/13): Rouhani’s decision to negotiate “is a gamble of monumental proportions.” It “gives credence to Rouhani’s own warning that he needs this deal soon, or else his presidency could be crippled by its failure.” If Rouhani “cannot demonstrate quickly to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and his hard-line rivals that he can secure meaningful compromises from the West, they will use his failure to curtail his room for further maneuver.”
    • Stephen Walt (9/20/13): “Iran has taken a wide range of actions that were not cost-free. First, Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif have been granted enhanced authority to negotiate a deal, and Rouhani has appointed officials who favor negotiations and are familiar to their American interlocutors. Any time you pick one set of officials over another, there are political costs involved. . . . The supreme leader has also endorsed Rouhani’s position that the hard-line Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) stay out of political matters such as this one. . . . Paradoxically, the fact that they have to override hard-liners at home is evidence of their sincerity: Pushing the IRGC to the sidelines is a ‘costly signal’ that they are serious.”
  • Rouhani has selected a negotiating team that is talented, serious, and clear-eyed.
    • Pierre Goldschmidt (11/2/13): “I find encouraging that President Rouhani, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and the Head of the AEOI Ali Akbar Salehi, all understand full well the mentalities of their negotiating counterparts and know what they can possibly agree on as well as what is impossible to expect from them.”
  • Through a series of goodwill gestures, Rouhani’s government has actively attempted to create space for an agreement.
    • Stephen Walt (9/20/13): “Iran has also taken some more symbolic gestures, such as the release of human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, Rouhani’s public greeting to world Jewry on Rosh Hashanah, the implicit repudiation of former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s questioning of the Holocaust, and the condemnation of chemical weapons use in Syria. . . . Skeptics might deride all these developments as ‘cheap talk,’ but in the context of Iranian domestic politics, they are not without consequences. Among other things, these various gestures have made Rouhani & Co. more vulnerable to a hard-line backlash in the event that their more conciliatory approach leads nowhere.”
  • Khamenei has publicly endorsed Rouhani and Zarif’s diplomatic efforts, making it harder to reverse course.
    • Ayatollah Khamenei (11/3/13): “No one should consider our negotiators as compromisers. They have a difficult mission and no one must weaken an official who is busy with work.”
    • Stephen Walt (9/20/13): “Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has publicly stated that Iran should show ‘heroic flexibility,’ thereby lending his own authority to this effort. And this has all been done in public view, making it harder for Iran’s leaders to reverse course on a whim.”
  • Even Iran’s hardliners appear more open to negotiations.
    • Ray Takeyh (10/14/13): Iran’s new Supreme National Security Council recognizes “the importance of offering confidence-building measures to an incredulous international community. . . . They are more open to dialogue than the Ahmadinejad government was.”
    • Patrick Clawson and Mehdi Khalaji (11/12/13): “Many Iranian hard-liners are ready to accept a nuclear deal on the grounds that the West — especially Barack Obama — places so much importance on reducing the threat of weapons of mass destruction that Iran’s human rights abuse and democracy deficit would be ignored in return for a deal.”

Analysis that would lead one to say NO

  • Ayatollah Khamenei, a fierce critic of the United States and defender of the Islamic regime, remains the ultimate “decider-in-chief.”
    • Akbar Ganji (9/24/13): “Khamenei genuinely suspects that the United States and its allies want to hinder Iran’s independent scientific development. There are some things that Khamenei thinks an ‘Islamic civilization’ simply cannot compromise on, including the pursuit of independent technological progress, the division of gender roles in social life, and a commitment to public piety as a means of national solidarity.”
  • The Supreme Leader has walked back claims of “heroic flexibility” to quell criticism from hardliners.
    • Ayatollah Khamenei (11/22/13): “We used heroic flexibility. Some interpreted it as quitting ideals and targets of the Islamic system. Also, some of the enemies made it a means to accuse the Islamic system of withdrawing its principles. These were not right. . . . Heroic flexibility means artistic maneuver to achieve the goal. It means that in any way and any case, in any kind of devotion, one who has devoted his life to God, in any kind of move and behavior toward various Islamic ideals, must use various methods to get to the aim.”
  • Rouhani has deceived the United States in the past.
    • Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli Prime Minister (10/1/13): “Rohani was also Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator between 2003 and 2005. He masterminded the strategy which enabled Iran to advance its nuclear weapons program behind a smoke screen of diplomatic engagement and very soothing rhetoric. . . . Here’s what he said in his 2011 book about his time as Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, and I quote: ‘While we were talking to the Europeans in Tehran, we were installing equipment in Isfahan.’”
  • A failed deal would add evidence to Khamenei’s assessment that the Americans cannot be trusted.
    • Patrick Clawson and Mehdi Khalaji (11/12/13): “In high-profile speeches, Khamenei has been laying the groundwork to walk away from any deal by warning that the West is untrustworthy and will not deliver on its promises — the same reasons he gave for walking away from the earlier nuclear deals.”

Is Iran a rational actor?

Analysis that would lead one to say YES

  • Iran’s concern about its security environment is understandable.
    • Fareed Zakaria (3/8/12): “An Iranian official once said to me, ‘But if we were to pursue a nuclear weapons program, would it be so irrational? Look at our neighborhood. Russia has nukes. India has nukes. Pakistan has nukes. China has nukes. And Israel has nukes. Then on one side of our border the United States has 100,000 troops in Iraq. . . . If you were in our position, wouldn’t that make you nervous and wouldn’t you want to buy some kind of insurance?’ That doesn’t sound like the talk of a mad, messianic regime official, but rather of one that’s looking at costs and benefits and calculating them.”
    • Alireza Nader (5/28/13): “Iran has a lot to be insecure about: It is a Shia and Persian-majority theocracy surrounded by hostile Sunni Arabs, which has recently watched the United States overrun unfriendly regimes in Afghanistan and Iraq with relative ease. . . . As dangerous as it is, Iran’s possible pursuit of nuclear weapons makes logical sense.”
  • Iran has proceeded slowly and cautiously with its nuclear program to avoid triggering an Israeli or American military strike.
    • Amos Yadlin and Yoel Guzansky (April 2012): “Iran conducts an ongoing strategic assessment on whether and at what pace to advance its nuclear program. . . . Iran is not advancing toward the bomb at as rapid a pace as it could. It appears to realize that such progress would bring with it negative strategic repercussions.”
    • Meir Dagan, former Mossad chief (3/11/12): “The regime in Iran is a very rational regime. . . . No doubt that the Iranian regime is maybe not exactly rational based on what I call Western thinking, but no doubt they are considering all the implications of their actions. . . . And I think the Iranians at this point in time are going very careful in the project; they are not running in it.”

Analysis that would lead one to say NO

  • Iran’s leadership is guided by fanaticism.
    • Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli Prime Minister (9/15/12): “They put their zealotry above their survival. They have suicide bombers all over the place. I wouldn’t rely on their rationality. . . . Iran is guided by a leadership with an unbelievable fanaticism. It’s the same fanaticism that you see storming your embassies today.”
  • If a perceived benefit accrues to individuals or factions inside Iran, this can undermine collective rationality.
    • Michael Singh (2/23/12): “Individuals in the regime face their own incentives—for example personal wealth generated in the black markets that sanctions give rise to—as well as disincentives—for example the possibility of ending up imprisoned or worse for too vocally bucking the regime’s line.”
    • Alan Kuperman (4/1/12): “One possibility is that the regime itself is rational but lacks full control, so that extremist factions act autonomously on occasion. Another is that domestic politics drive the regime to appease extremist factions from time to time. Or it’s possible that the regime’s own radical Islamist ideology sometimes overwhelms its rationality.”
  • An insular regime in Tehran is unlikely to make fully rational decisions.
    • Michael Singh (2/23/12): “Decisions in Iran are made by one man—Ali Khamenei. By all accounts, he has not traveled outside Iran since becoming Supreme Leader in 1989, is likely insulated by his aides from bad news or criticism, and depends on an increasingly narrow and homogenous power base which may not expose him to alternative opinions. One is unlikely to make a good decision if ill-informed or unaware of all the options.”

A related assessment

Source: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

Iran Edition—Iranian Democracy Party pledges support for nuclear talks and more

Iran EditionBrett Cox provides weekly updates on news and analysis on the Iranian nuclear challenge in Persian language media. In this week’s edition, Iran’s Democracy Party holds a conference to pledge their support for nuclear negotiations, and more.

 

By Brett Cox

June 17, 2014

Last month, the Supreme Leader re-activated the Strategic Council for International Affairs and announced new members. The short announcement, posted on his press website, also expressed the hope that the Council will be more effective in its duties. A lengthy analysis of the announcement on BBC Farsi listed the new, more conservative members and their background:

Kamal Kharazi – Chair of Strategic Council and Minister of Foreign Affairs under President Khatami

Mehdi Mostafavi-Ahri – former head of the Supreme Leader’s international affairs office

Saeed Jalili – former Deputy of National Security Council

General Ahmad Vahidi – former Minister of Defense and Ahmadinejad cabinet member

Ibrahim Shibani – former Iran ambassador to Austria, former President of the Central Bank and member of Ahmadinejad cabinet

Hossein Taremi – former Iran ambassador in Saudi Arabia and China

According to the BBC, the announcement is remarkable as it essentially replaces the moderate and reformist members of the Council with conservative politicians. It goes on to suggest, however, that this may or may not have political significance. The appointees when Khamenei first established the Council in 2006 ranged from former Khatami cabinet members to former advisers of the Supreme Leader himself, all not in decision-making positions at the time. Though the reshuffling shifts the balance in favor of conservatives, it does match the 2006 arrangement of keeping differing opinions in the conversation.

Several days following Khamenei’s announcement, IRNA reported that the Council would be meeting in the coming week to discuss the current nuclear negotiations and general foreign policy strategy.

June 30, 2014

 “A final nuclear deal and improved relations between Iran and the U.S. will increase the potential for cooperation in Afghanistan when the U.S. leaves in 2016.”

––Kayhan Barzegar in the Washington Quarterly

Khabar Online reporting on Bazergar’s piece on Iran foreign policy:

Barzegar, a professor at Tehran University and former research fellow at Belfer’s Project on Managing the Atom, continued in his article: “Iran’s foreign policy in Afghanistan after the departure of American forces in 2016 will hinge on two effects, competition and cooperation, with other regional and supra-regional actors, especially Pakistan and America.”

Saeed Jalili
 

May 24, 2013 – Former Iranian nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili campaigns in Tehran during an unsuccessful presidential bid. Jalili was named last month to Iran’s Strategic Council for International Affairs. (Majid Saeedi/Getty Images)

“Since the fall of the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2001, the Islamic Republic of Iran has followed a two-vein policy there. In one vein, it has been an advocate for maintaining the stability of and assisting Afghanistan’s central government, and in the other it has opposed the presence of foreign troops in the country.”

In a different part of his article, the Iranian professor added: “Afghanistan has a special position in three dimensions of Iran’s national security: civil-cultural, economic-developmental, and political-security.”

According to Barzegar, “A win-win nuclear deal in the current negotiations could subsequently lead to improved relations between Iran and America, which would increase the potential for Iran-US cooperation in solving the crisis in Afghanistan and opposing extremists after US forces leave.”

July 7, 2014

“Not only are we not worried, but we are composed.”

––Mardom Salari’s resolution from a conference last week

Last week, the Democracy Party held a conference in Tehran to pledge their support for and confidence in Iran’s negotiators at the current P5+1 talks in Geneva. The nuclear debate in Iran has produced a new fault line in the political spectrum over foreign policy, specifically over the ongoing negotiations in Geneva: the “Worried”, the “Valiant, and now, the “Composed”.

The event was attended by Hassan Qashqavi, Deputy of Parliament and spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Ali Janati, Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance, and a number of members of the Democracy Party’s Central Council.

The conference ended with a resolution that takes jabs at the “Worried” and the “Valiant” and promotes the party’s vision as the best way forward. It touts Rouhani’s consensus and its achievements in rescuing the country from the depths it had been forced into by a “Worrier”, referring to former president Ahmadinejad:

“If history can be the least bit of a guide, then we can remember that just one year ago, our country was in a miserable, hopeless state in all realms: political, economic, social, and cultural. And today, we enjoy a hopeful, moderate, stable status…and can expect a bright tomorrow.”

Across the political spectrum in Iran, respect for its right to a nuclear program is an important outcome of the negotiations. The resolution ensures that “the Iranian people’s rights to use nuclear power peacefully will not be shortened one iota”, and that the current team of negotiators will prevail in this endeavor, securing Iran’s future.

July 8, 2014

In the Supreme Leader’s view, enrichment capacity, research and development, and the Fordow installment, are the three important matters in Iran’s nuclear bargaining.

––ISNA reports on a meeting the Supreme Leader held to discuss the issues facing the nation, in which he set out Iran’s red lines with respect to the latest round in Geneva

The Supreme Leader introduced a new number to the conversation. Khamenei says the P5+1’s goal is “to limit Iran to 10,000 centrifuges, but at the beginning they started with 500 to 1,000 (10,000 units meaning 10,000 of the old kind of centrifuges), and now, according to officials, Iran’s actual need is 190,000 units.”

According to Ali Akbar Salehi, head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, “We need 190,000 units to maintain the Bushehr power plant. We must be specific when discussing enrichment… numbers of centrifuges and what generation of centrifuge is being used are separate conversations.” Salehi went on to suggest that building another power plant would be yet another conversation over what equipment and number of centrifuges Iran will need.

Brett Cox is a research intern at the Project on Managing the Atom at the Belfer Center and a student at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.

IRAN PHOTO OF THE DAY: Ghalbe Yakhi

Fom big budget soap operas and sitcoms to gameshow extravaganzas and variety shows, Ramadan in Iran means big business for TV. A variation on the true crime genre, Ghalbe Yakhi is based on actual crimes in the judiciary system’s records.

Iranian women still banned from stadiums

Iranian women watch a game practice session from behind the railings at Azadi sports complex in Tehran, May 21, 2006. (photo by REUTERS/Morteza Nikoubazl)

The recent strong performances by Iran’s national volleyball team against world volleyball giants Brazil, Italy and Poland thrilled Iranians, but once again “half of the society” was deprived of its rights. The ban on Iranian women entering stadiums for the national team’s games once again caused an uproar in society as police forces didn’t allow women to attend the International Federation of Volleyball (FIVB) World League games in Tehran.

Police dispersed women’s rights activists and female volleyball fans who were gathered in front of the entrance of Azadi Stadium when Iran played Italy in the first leg on June 20. According to eyewitness reports, some were beaten and detained.

“First slap, second slap, and a third one inconceivably I received in the face and, surrounded by 10 agents and plainclothes men and women, was beaten and pulled on the ground harshly to a police van,” Shargh daily reporter Fatemeh Jamalpou wrote on her Facebook page. Jamalpou went to the stadium to cover women protesting against the ban. “I closed my eyes for a second, saying should it be a dream, or a nightmare, but it was bitter reality that happened today in front of the western gate of Azadi Stadium before the volleyball game between Iran and Italy.” Jamalpour was kept in custody for six hours and then released.

The ban originally came after the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran as mixed crowds enjoying games was deemed un-Islamic. Some clerics, including those in Iran, strongly object to free mixing between men and women. Gender segregation falls under Islamic jurisprudence and insists on separation of men and boys from women and girls in social settings.

„In the current conditions, the mixing of men and women in stadiums is not in the public interest,“ said Iran’s police chief, Esmail Ahmadi Moghadam. „The stance taken by religious scholars and the supreme leader remains unchanged, and as the enforcer of law, we cannot allow women to enter stadiums.“

At the beginning of the Iran-Italy game on June 20, authorities asked female journalists to leave the stadium. Hours later, Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) announced that they would also be „banned from entering the stadium for the next three games in Tehran.“ This all occurred while the presence of female journalists and executives was authorized by the Iran Volleyball Federation.

During the June 13 Iran-Brazil game, Brazilian women with their passports in hand were allowed to enter to watch their national volleyball team playing Iran. This sparked criticism from some lawmakers, including Kamaledin Pirmoazen, who during the June 15 parliament open session referred to the Iranian constitution’s Article 3, saying, „Iranian women, like Brazilian [women], should benefit from volleyball games.“

According to the cited article, the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran has the duty of directing all its resources to “the abolition of all forms of undesirable discrimination and the provision of equitable opportunities for all, in both the material and intellectual spheres; and securing the multifarious rights of all citizens.”

Meanwhile, according to some reports, several Iranian women managed to sneak into the second leg of the Iran-Brazil game disguised as Brazilian fans.

Vice President for Women and Family Affairs Shahindokht Molaverdi wrote on her Facebook page that during the cabinet meeting of June 16, she “objected to the prevention of women’s presence in stadiums and declared the message of despair and frustration of [the] young generation [to the cabinet members].”

Later she was quoted by Mehr News as saying, “The president has called for further explanations, therefore, the minister of sports and I are charged with the probe.”

Well-known women’s rights activist Jila Baniyaghub, a critic of the ban on women fans, was also present among the crowd in front of Azadi Stadium. In a Facebook post, she gave a brief account of the June 20 incidents, writing, “All roads to the stadium were full of anti-riot police and vehicles … they insulted, beat badly and detained some of the men [who] accompanied protesting women. It’s said more than 15 women have been detained.”

Over the past 35 years, women have been banned from attending almost all men’s football games. Only in 2005, at the end of Mohammad Khatami’s tenure, after women’s rights activists widely insisted on their right to attend the 2006 World Cup qualifying games played in Iran, a group of female fans who crowded in front of Azadi Stadium were allowed to enter at the start of the second half of the Iran-Bahrain game.

These activists had started a campaign called “Rusari Sefid-ha” which means „those wearing white scarves.“ The campaign aimed at “defending women’s right to attend stadiums freely.” Its motto was, “My share, half of Azadi.” („Azadi“ also means freedom.)

In the meantime, Iranian women were briefly allowed to attend volleyball games, but the ban was restored months after Mahmoud Ahmadinejad came to power.

In 2013, during the World League volleyball qualifying games, when Iran hosted Japan, 2,000 out of 12,000 seats of Azadi Stadium were reserved for female fans to have the chance to cheer on the men’s volleyball team. The ban was re-imposed following this game, however.

There were sparse efforts by former authorities to grant women the right to enter stadiums. During 2006, former President Ahmadinejad ordered Iran’s Physical Education Organization to plan “in a way that women are respected and are given the best places to watch national and important games.” Ahmadinejad wrote that women and families help bring “morality” and “chastity” to public venues. The move immediately sparked criticism from hard-line clerics and Qom seminaries.

Amid the recent ensuing clamor, some female lawmakers dismissed the idea of women spectators. Sakineh Omrani criticized the media for publishing false news, saying it’s not possible that they detain women only because they wanted to watch a volleyball game; they must have done something illegal. “They can watch sports matches at home, on television, if they are so eager. It’s forbidden by Islamic Sharia [to go to stadiums] because while doing sports, men are not fully dressed,” she said.

Meanwhile, female member of parliament Fatemeh Alia said, “Women’s duty is to raise children and take care of their husbands, not to watch volleyball games … the woman whose main concern is to go to [the] stadium and find a job and things like these would not be able to fulfill her duties.”

The remarks by these lawmakers caused a major uproar in social media.

Shahla Mirgalubayat, another female lawmaker, reacted differently when asked about women’s rights to attend events in stadiums. “Women are half of the society and their demands should be respected, but in the framework of Islamic and legal standards,” Mirgalubayat said. “They can observe the existing concerns and attend stadiums.”

Women’s right activists still are hopeful they would ultimately join other spectators inside stadiums. It’s been nearly a decade since they have started their fight to recover their “half of Azadi” and it seems that they will, again and again, buy tickets to national games and gather in front of Azadi Stadium — no matter how many times they are turned away.

They are keeping an eye on the government and on Hassan Rouhani’s efforts. As Jila Baniyaghub said, they would „continue to ask Rouhani to strive to keep his promise to defend women’s rights.“

Source: al-monitor.com

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