Sunday, February 19, 2006

Every journey begins with a dream...

Kash Kheirkhah

And so did mine 14 years ago, the very first moment I realized what I really wanted to do with my life.

Three years ago I finally embarked on that life-changing journey, and here I am, young and strong, right here in the place where I belong.

When I look back on the past three bittersweet years I've spent here, I realize how much I've grown, how much I've changed.

And now, as I'm about to turn 32, I feel as if I'm being born again; this time, into the land of free in which I won't have to go through what I did before. It's a new day, in a new land and it's waiting for me.

I'm now a heartbeat away--in fact, only 9 days away-- from proudly becoming a citizen of the free world and I can hardly hold back my tears of joy. Here I am, finally...

The story of immigration is one too difficult to put into words at times. It's as if you are uprooted from your land and planted again in a whole new one.

It's the story of survival, constant struggles and physical and emotional hardships; the story of rough days, and lonely nights. It's the story of those who let go of you just when you need them most. It's the story of the difficult moments you can't share with anyone, because no one understands what you are going through except yourself.

Yet for me, it is also the story of a vision of the promising years to come, the wonderful new places to go, the great new people to see, the precious old friends to rediscover and great new friends to make, the exciting new plans to follow and the life-long dreams to achieve.

It's the story of the chances I'll take and the successes I'll savor.

But above all, It's the story of the best life can hold for me because now I'm free and live in the land of free.

It is the story that hasn't begun yet. Leaving Montreal, for one, would certainly be the beginning of the new era in my life I'm anxiously looking forward to.

To those who made reading my news blog part of their on-line ritual I say thank you from the bottom of my heart. I truly hope some day soon, I'll be back to report the news in a bigger, more original capacity, certainly as a news broadcaster. Stay tuned!

As for my country Iran, I just hope there'll come a time when the future generations of Iranians won't have to be subjected to all that has been going on there for the past 27 years. I hope one day Iran and Iranians will get to taste "real freedom". It's true that we need the free world to support us but it's ultimately for us to work for that future. So far, The fault hasn't been our stars, but in ourselves...

Until next time,

This is Kash Kheirkhah, signing off.

A letter to the US Secretary Condoleezza Rice

Dear Madam Secretary,

I lived in Iran until three years ago for 29 years. I am still in touch every day with my family, relatives and friends in Iran and also the people who travel back and forth to Iran. I know my countrymen and I know you can't win this battle against mullahs the way you are handling it now.

The majority of Iranian people --almost 70 percent of them-- are completely ignorant of the circumstances surrounding the nuclear crisis affair. Believe me, they don't even know what nuclear technology really means. They are under Iranian regime's brutal 24-hour propaganda campaign which is specifically designed to take the maximum advantage of common people's feelings. And mullahs' strategy is working. Almost everyone agrees that most Iranians inside the country--most of whom hate the regime--these days support mullahs' stance on the nuclear issue.

As an Iranian who has no doubt the current regime in Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons, and would like to eventually see a free, democratic Iran, I'd like to draw your earnest attention to the following points:

  • Don't talk about your strategies as to how to handle Iran in public. I can't understand why the U.S is showing its hand before any action is taken. For every strategy you discuss in public, (such as the type of sanctions) mullahs will come up with a counter strategy. Also, In my humble opinion, announcing the US government's financial aid to Iranian dissidents with such fanfare is a deadly mistake which can lead to a lot of Iranian activists in Iran being arrested on the charge of receiving money form the US. It seems the Iranian regime is now fully aware of every single step you're going to take and is prepared to fight them all the way.

  • As for the funding itself, how are you going to fight a regime that is sitting on a sea of oil with only $75 million? They will spend $ 750 to neutralize your spendings in no time. an Iranian official is already making fun of this saying "Is the US going to bring us down with only $75 million?"

  • Stop Europeans from playing cat and mouse with Iran. Do something. We all know Iran has been the main banker of terrorism around the world. We know they have crossed the line. Isn't it time to DO something about all that? Iranians have heard the West using the same rhetoric for twenty seven years and have come to the conclusion this is only a political game. Each time Iran makes a move, the Western powers cry out, “That’s it. you have crossed the line this time" and then again encourage Iran to talk with them. How many times should we go through this vicious circle? you are giving the Iranian regime time and the Iranian people the wrong idea.

Tehran's regime is playing its hand absolutely well. You are up against one smart enemy. You must come up with a new strategy and dispense with the same old, hackneyed ones you have been trying for the past thirty years. Use your budget to carry the voice of the Iranian activists and dissidents around the world into Iran. Have them talk to their compatriots and explain the situation to draw the attention of the Iranian people. Use the Persian Gulf region to strengthen your radio and TV signals into Iran and shut down the US-based TV stations that are being funded by the Islamic regime.

The common Iranians still don't know it's the Iranian regime you don't want to have access to the nuclear technology not the Iranian people. Do whatever necessary to inform them that's not the case. Even if possible, drop flyers on Iran and explain the situation to them in layman's terms. Get the Iranians out of this state of indifference and disbelief. That’s the key to win this fight.

But above all, take an action (non-military, of course). Show the masses in Iran the US is capable of standing to the regime for the sake of the Iranian people's freedom.

Don't just talk about it. Do something about it.


Kash Kheirkhah

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Rice asks for $75 million to spur democracy in Iran

Washington Post - Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice asked Congress yesterday to provide $75 million in emergency funding to step up pressure on the Iranian government, including expanding radio and television broadcasts into Iran and promoting internal opposition to the rule of religious leaders.

"The United States will actively confront the policies of this Iranian regime, and at the same time we are going to work to support the aspirations of the Iranian people for freedom in their own country," Rice told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at a hearing on the administration's foreign affairs budget.

Under the proposed supplemental request for the fiscal 2006 budget, the administration would use $50 million of the new funds to significantly increase Farsi broadcasts into Iran, mainly satellite television broadcasting by the federal government and broadcasts of the U.S.-funded Radio Farda, to build the capacity to broadcast 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

An additional $15 million would go to Iranian labor unions, human rights activists and other groups, generally via nongovernmental organizations and democracy groups such as the National Endowment for Democracy. The administration has already budgeted $10 million for such activity but is only just beginning to spend the $3.5 million appropriated in 2005 for this purpose.

Officials said $5 million will be used to foster Iranian student exchanges -- which have plummeted since the 1979 Iranian Revolution -- and another $5 million will be aimed at reaching the Iranian public through the Internet and building independent Farsi television and radio stations.


Tuesday, February 14, 2006

What Putin hopes to gain from Iran

TIME - Monday's news that Iran has postponed Moscow talks, scheduled to start Thursday, on having its uranium enriched in Russia, and has instead resumed its own enrichment activities, was hardly stunning — except, perhaps, to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Putin had expected a cash windfall from Iran for the Russia-supplied nuclear capacity; the laurels of a global power-broker for defusing the Iranian nuclear crisis; and the praise of his increasingly nostalgic citizens for restoring the lost empire's glory.

Instead, he looks hapless before the specter of a nuclear-armed militant clerical regime that looms beneath the veil of a peaceful nuclear energy project. Putin's massive supplies of conventional weapons to Iran, including air defense missiles and armor, have strengthened that specter — much to Russia's own peril.

...From 1990 through 1996, Russia supplied over $5 billion worth arms to Iran. Then, Russia heeded a U.S. request to stop military supplies, but resumed them in 2000, just as Putin became president. Last October, Moscow and Tehran signed a deal on military supplies worth $300 million annually. Russia will also supply $700 million worth of surface-to-air missiles. The Iranian arms market now promises Russia some $10 billion over next several years.

These tantalizing riches risk falling into the same chasm, however, as the unpaid billions owed to Russia by Saddam Hussein's regime, and other Moscow-backed rogue regimes. Russia risks ending up unpaid, friendless — and facing a volatile nuclear neighbor, connected to terrorist groups and armed with Russian weapons, right on her unstable southern border. Some return to glory, indeed.

Read the article in full.

Ahmadinejad sits down with USA TODAY

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spoke to USA TODAY's Barbara Slavin in an hour-long interview Saturday that touched on U.S.-Iranian relations, the Holocaust and Iran's nuclear aspirations:

UT: Foreign diplomats tell me that the brain drain is increasing and Iranian applications for visas for the West are up 20-50%?

Ahmadinejad: The information I have is the contrary. There always has been travel back and forth.

UT: I hear that $200 billion in Iranian funds has fled to Dubai in recent months?

Ahmadinejad: We have relations with neighboring countries. There is investment back and forth. Dubai is a free trade area. It is natural that many Iranians go there to make investments. What is important is that the result of their work comes back to Iran.

UT: Why do you say the things you do about Israel and the Holocaust when it only upsets people and further isolates Iran?

Ahmadinejad: ...One day they (the Israelis) used to utter the slogan of the "Nile to the Euphrates." It means they have a larger plan to aggress other nations of the region.

UT: But Israel withdrew from Gaza last September?

Ahmadinejad: They had no choice. They were forced to. Isn't the question of Palestine the most important issue in the region?

UT: A lot of Iranians would say no.

Ahmadinejad: Apart from those Iranians you mention, the most important problem facing the region is Palestine. This regime (Israel) was founded on the basis of propaganda regarding the Holocaust.

If you still feel like reading the whole interview, click here.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Happy Valentine's Day everyone!

By the way, to learn more about world-wide flirting habits read this AFP report!

Report: Attack on Iran would kill thousands, start war

  • AP - Report: Attack on Iran Would Kill Thousands, Start War: A US air assault on Iranian nuclear and military facilities would likely kill thousands of people, spark a long-lasting war and push Iran to accelerate its atomic program, a British think tank predicted in a report published Monday. The Oxford Research Group, which specializes in arms control and nonproliferation issues, said military action against Iran, "either by the United States or Israel, is not an option that should be considered under any circumstances." The report by University of Bradford professor Paul Rogers said a US attack would likely consist of simultaneous air strikes on more than 20 key nuclear and military facilities, designed to disable Iran's nuclear and air-defense capabilities. Such strikes would probably kill several thousand people, including troops, nuclear program staff and "many hundreds" of civilians.

  • Reuters - Iran Resumes Uranium-Enrichment Work: Iran has resumed some uranium-enrichment work at its Natanz nuclear plant, a first step in a process that can potentially yield either fuel for atomic reactors or bombs, diplomatic sources said on Monday. An Iranian government spokesman had said earlier that Tehran would restart enrichment activity, suspended for over two years under Western pressure, by early March but gave no date.

  • The Sunday Times - Bush Urged to Stir Rebellion within Iran: Neoconservatives in Washington are urging President George W Bush to drop diplomacy with Iran in favour of boosting internal dissent and opposition forces within the Islamic regime. Michael Rubin, a Middle East expert at the neoconservative American Enterprise Institute in Washington, said: “The United States doesn’t have a policy on Iran. We should be looking for a way to address the people of the country.”

  • AFP - Al Gore: Iran 'Danger for World': Former US vice president and defeated presidential hopeful Al Gore lashed out at Iran's clerical regime, denouncing it as a threat "for the future of the world." "Iran is ruled by corrupt politicians and clerics," the Democrat said in an address to the Jeddah Economic Forum in Saudi Arabia. He said the "corrupt leadership" combined with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's anti-Israeli outbursts should raise alarm bells all over the world, including the Arab world and the Gulf region. "There should be more voices in the region saying this leadership is dangerous for the future of the world," said Gore, who was President George W. Bush's rival in the 2000 presidential election.

  • Amir Taheri, New York Post (via Iran va Jahan) - Hijacking Islam: In many Muslim countries, neo-Islam has been exposed as a political movement and can no longer deceive the masses. In the West, however, it is has managed to dupe parts of the media, government and academia into treating it not as the political movement it is, but as the expression of Islam as a religion. It is time to end that deception and recognize neo-Islam in its many manifestations as a political phenomenon

Sunday, February 12, 2006

US to increase its TV programming into Iran

Kash Kheirkhah

In the news:

AP: VOA Persian TV and Radio Farda were launched in late 2002 with a combined budget of $6.4 million. It is now up to $18.8 million, and the Bush administration is seeking $19.6 million for next year. A VOA television operation tailored for Iranian viewers started in July 2003 with a modest 30 minutes a day of programming. An upgrade to four hours a day is planned by September, and the budget is up by almost half to $11 million for this year. Kenneth Tomlinson, chairman of a board that oversees US broadcasting abroad, says TV programming into Iran "is the most important thing the VOA has done in recent years anywhere." On the radio side, separate VOA operations for Iranian listeners broadcast four hours daily and round-the-clock. The administration is trying to cut budgets across the board, but by contrast to CPB, BBG's Middle East Broadcasting service and Voice of America are considered weapons in the war on terrorism. In fact, while non terror-related language services under BBG will get the knife, or even the outright axe, the Middle East services are getting a 13% increase and VOA a 5.3% increase, which more than offsets the cuts elsewhere.To make room for expanding Middle East TV channel Alhurra from 16 to 24 hours, adding customized local news content (as some legislators had suggested in a hearing on the service), stepping up broadcasts to Iran and other moves, the BBG will pull the plug on VOA News Now Radio, saying that the Internet makes more sense than shortwave transmission.

After the Islamic revolution in Iran, VOA (short for Voice of America) and BBC Persian services served as Iranians' only reliable sources of unfiltered news before internet and satellite dishes made their way to the Iranian households. With the advent of the new technology, the BBC put more stock in the internet whereas VOA launched its TV broadcast in late 1996.

In a country like Iran in which internet has a limited readership, TV is the most powerful medium. People may not have access to the internet or even don't know how to use it, they may not turn to jammed shortwave radio programs for news any more, but they will hit the TV for sure every night, whether there is anything worthy of watching or not.

On the one hand, I'm so glad that the United States Government is finally realizing the importance of communicating better with the Iranian people. On the other hand though, raising the budget by half and increasing the hours don't necessarily guarantee a PR success, unless the programs are sharp, smart and really geared to counteract the around-the-clock propaganda of the Iranian regime.

Unfortunately, VOA Persian service has been unable so far to take advantage of its satellite TV capabilities and turn into a must-see for the public in Iran. Programs such as the one that is now beamed to Iran for one hour every Tuesday (Next Chapter) really don't serve any purpose rather than blowing the Government's budget. The Iranian youths already know about the latest American movies and the top 100 singles on the Billboard charts. It's now time for the US to counter the Iranian regime's disinformation campaign by using all its Iranian resources on this side of the world. It's time to help Iranians get the real news and information through their own highly-qualified political analysts and activists vis-à-vis the Iranian regime's constant lies and distortion of facts.

There is a lot the US can do with four hours of daily TV programs for Iran. I just hope they won't let it go down the drain. Remember, time is short.

Danish cartoons and the plague of Islamic fundamentalism

Kash Kheirkhah

Charles Krauthammer from the Washington Post on the Danish cartoon issue:

"The mob is trying to dictate to Western newspapers, indeed Western governments, what is a legitimate subject for discussion and caricature. The cartoons do not begin to approach the artistic level of Salman Rushdie's prose, but that's not the point. The point is who decides what can be said and what can be drawn within the precincts of what we quaintly think of as the free world.

What is at issue is fear. The unspoken reason many newspapers do not want to republish is not sensitivity but simple fear. They know what happened to Theo van Gogh, who made a film about the Islamic treatment of women and got a knife through the chest with an Islamist manifesto attached."

I do agree with Mr. Krauthammer. But to me what's really at issue here is what prompts Muslim radicals to waste no time in using this opportunity to slander the West, question its hard-earned values and even intimidate the Western Governments into apologizing for something they are not even responsible for?

Well, the answer is crystal clear: Regimes run by Islamic fundamentalists.

The plague of Islamic fundamentalism started when the Western powers led by Jimmy Carter administration-- pushing for an Islamic Green Belt in the Middle East to promote Islam as a means of containing the Soviet Union's expansionism-- allowed (and even helped) the radical Ayatollahs to seize power in Iran 27 years ago, helped arm Islamic Mujaheddin in Afghanistan and let Lebanon plunge into the hands of Hezbollah.

How wrong this was. Step by tragic step, Islamic fundamentalism; emboldened by the Western powers' laconic, short-sighted policies, found its way to the entire region by leaps and bounds, leading to the creation of a multi-headed monster which now seems to be completely out of control.

A living, breathing example of this is the Salman Rushdi story. When in 1987, Ayatollah Khomeini fatwad the killing of the British author Salman Rushdie, what was the West's reaction? (Khomeini's fatwa, in fact, helped publicize Rushdi's book which would otherwise have remaind obscure and brought Salman Rushdi world-wide fame) When the terrorists groups such as Islamic Jihad in the Palestinian territories, Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Hezbollah in Lebanon were openly backed by regimes such as Iran's, what was the West's reaction? In other words, what has the free world done to contain the spread of Islamic fundamentalism that over the years has grown so rampant? What have we done to push reform in the Middle East, stop fundamentalist regimes from brainwashing Muslim children and planting seeds of hatred of the free world in their minds and hearts?

The answer is "nothing" with a capital N. And when for the first time, a US president rightly aims at the worthy cause of stopping the Middle East swamp from breeding mosquitoes of terror, the first group of people to knock him down are the same Western intellectuals who are now so aghast at seeing such harsh backlash by Muslim extremists.

Now having said all that, I truly believe the original publication of these cartoons was wrong for two important reasons: First they desecrate a faith, what millions of people truly believe in. as Mr. Krauthammer says, desecrations of all faiths is wrong, whether it's Islam, Christianity or Judaism. Also as President Bush rightly put it the other day, freedom of the press should come with the responsibility to be thoughtful about others and what is near and dear to their hearts. With all due respect for the freedom of speech, I believe that it must respect the sacred taboos of other religions.

Second, as a result of the West’s wrong policies of the past 30 years, Muslim extremists do have the upper hand now in the Middle East and politically incorrect moves such as the publication of these cartoons will only play into the hands of those who leap on any chance to use religion to their own political purposes. Unfortunately, Islamic fundamentalism is a reality in today and we can't simply close our eyes and pretend it doesn't exist. It very well does and it has tuned into a political culture now, spearheaded by imposters such as the Iranian mullahs.

The sad thing is many of these mullahs and the so-called "religious leaders" couldn’t care less about Islam. If they really did, they would stage protests with the same fury, condemning all acts of terror--such as beheading and suicide killings of innocent people -- that are being committed these days in the name of Islam.

As long as Islamic hardliners are in power and are able to feed terror cells and brainwash the masses with the oil money and as long as the free world continues to stand divided rather than united in the battle against hate-mongering and religious fundamentalism, the world should expect darker days ahead.

Related articles:

Fareena Alam - Why I reject the anarchists who claim to speak for Islam: Violence in the name of Islam has done more to damage the Prophet than any Danish cartoon.

Alamdar Hamdani - When pens draw out the swords of protest: Islam needs a unifying, universally respected voice — its own Martin Luther King Jr., or Gandhi.

Seema Munir - Protests reveal need for mutual trust: I , for one, as an American Muslim, am deeply troubled by the current events and hope to see responsible behavior on both sides. We live in troubled times, torn by mistrust, deceit and ignorance.

Emran Qureshi - The Islam the Riots Drowned Out : Sadly, the recent polarization obscures a rich humanistic tradition within Islam — one in which cosmopolitanism, pluralism and a spirit of open-minded inquiry once constituted a dominant ethos.

'Satanic Verses taught us a lesson'

Spiegel - In her work as a social anthropologist, Professor Pnina Werbner of Britain's Keele University, has written extensively about the "Satanic Verses" affair and the tumult Salman Rushdie's novel created between western and Muslim cultures. In an interview with SPIEGEL ONLINE she compares the greatest literary debate of our time to the outrage over Danish caricatures of Muhammad.

Pnina Werbner: During the Rushdie affair, there was also a major discussion about the limits of freedom of speech. The debate made it clear that despite our invocations of freedom of speech, even in the West freedom of speech is not absolute. After all, limits are set on pornography, for example. Freedom of speech today is to a large extent exercised through self-censorship -- not only through legislation, but by commercial interests, such as newspapers and publishing houses. They constantly make decisions about what should or shouldn't get publicized -- partly in response to audiences, partly in response to commercial interests, partially in response to the sensibilities of their viewers or readers. You can say what you like in the privacy of your own home, but if you try to get it published, to get your voice heard in public, you will find that your opinions may be unacceptable for purely commercial or pragmatic reasons.

In attempting to placate Muslims, you could try to argue that these cartoons are making a serious point -- not so much about freedom of speech, but about the way some Muslims are currently interpreting Islam. You could argue that the artists are trying to say, "there are people in your community who are commiting suicide in the name of Islam, who have hijacked Islam for their own purposes." But trying to make that valid point by depicting a bomb-wearing Muhammad is an unnecessarily offensive way of doing so.


US prepares military blitz against Iran's nuclear sites

Strategists at the Pentagon are drawing up plans for devastating bombing raids backed by submarine-launched ballistic missile attacks against Iran's nuclear sites as a "last resort" to block Teheran's efforts to develop an atomic bomb.

Central Command and Strategic Command planners are identifying targets, assessing weapon-loads and working on logistics for an operation, the Sunday Telegraph has learnt.

They are reporting to the office of Donald Rumsfeld, the defence secretary, as America updates plans for action if the diplomatic offensive fails to thwart the Islamic republic's nuclear bomb ambitions. Teheran claims that it is developing only a civilian energy programme.

"This is more than just the standard military contingency assessment," said a senior Pentagon adviser. "This has taken on much greater urgency in recent months."

The prospect of military action could put Washington at odds with Britain which fears that an attack would spark violence across the Middle East, reprisals in the West and may not cripple Teheran's nuclear programme. But the steady flow of disclosures about Iran's secret nuclear operations and the virulent anti-Israeli threats of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has prompted the fresh assessment of military options by Washington. The most likely strategy would involve aerial bombardment by long-distance B2 bombers, each armed with up to 40,000lb of precision weapons, including the latest bunker-busting devices. They would fly from bases in Missouri with mid-air refuelling.


Saturday, February 11, 2006

Latest Iran headlines

  • AFP - Ahmadinejad repeats Holocaust is a 'myth': Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has repeated his view that the Holocaust of Jews under Nazi Germany was a "myth" and argued that Palestinians and Iraqis were suffering from "the real Holocaust". "The Zionists are on on the verge of being destroyed; the time of occupation is coming to an end, so put an end to your slavery of Zionism," he said of the West.

  • Telegraph - Iran Plant 'Has Restarted its Nuclear Bomb-making Equipment' : Iran's controversial Natanz uranium processing plant has successfully restarted the sophisticated equipment that could enable it to produce material for nuclear warheads, according to reports received by Western intelligence...A senior Western intelligence official said: "Iran's recent activity is a clear escalation of its attempts to enrich uranium to weapons grade. With the UN inspectors out of the way they are basically free to do as they please."

  • AP - Washington Quietly Backs Iran Reformers: The public silence about details of the US push for democracy contrasts sharply with the daily condemnations of Iran's nuclear programme from the White House, the State Department and elsewhere. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on January 18 that it is important for the many Iranians alienated from their government to know that they have outside support. "The Iranian people deserve a better future and deserve an elected future," Rice said. "Iran is simply 180 degrees out of step with the rest of the trends in the Middle East."

Friday, February 10, 2006

A letter from Iranian students to the freedom-loving people of the world


In the name of God, the Supreme Goodness
In the names of Love, Iran and Freedom

Iran is my land. Although her name has espoused history since ever, the world has forgotten her since 27 years ago. Nowadays, my country's name is back on everyone's lips for a threat, bigger than ever, emanating from the idiocy of those theocrats who govern us, is hanging above us all. A looming menace that, with the sagacity of our people, we are determined to turn into an opportunity for awakening.

As I write you these words, those with whom I used to play in my childhood are climbing the walls of the Danish Embassy, chanting and blaring, setting the foreign mission ablaze. Commanded by the ignorant who rule over my land, those innocent kids with whom I played hide-and-seek form today a human chain around the nuclear facilities. Smuggled into my country by Pakistani traffickers riding their donkeys, the technology being guarded by its human shield is now presented as a national pride by those same idiots who surf the tide provoked by the Danish cartoons. As if vociferating insults and pyromania could prevent the nuclear issue from reaching the UN Security Council!

Having taken over my land first, the chaos is now menacing world peace. What anarchy, what confusion!

We, the innocent generation making up 70 percent of the population of today?s Iran; We, who had no say whatsoever in the 1979 revolution...

We now address the peoples of the world,

The real crime going on in our country is the systematic brainwashing of our children whose innocent minds are put under the perfusion of devilish ideologies. The danger of the brainwashed millions, enriched in classrooms turned into ideological centrifuges, is far greater that millions of atomic bombs.

North Korea, Syria, Lebanon and Sudan are in no better shape than we are. Believe us! Long before you became the victims of terror, terrorists themselves had become the first casualties of the foolishness of their satanic rulers.Rulers who, in order to secure their own survival, turn innocent children into moving bombs, killing and spreading terror.

Now that you are alarmed by the nuclear crisis, we beg you not to abandon us once again in the hands of the jailers oppressing us for nearly 3 decades, when the atomic issue is resolved.We look forward to the extended hands of our sisters and brothers, to those of the children of Adam and Eve, those of the noble peoples of the world, to come to our rescue in helping us regain our due place in the concert of the civilized nations. Our nation is on the verge of annihilation and would welcome any measure or economic and political sanctions that would accelerate the downfall of the mullahs!

The great people of the United States withstood 444 days of captivity for their children in the hands of this regime. Their anxiety is still alive. Think of us then! Think of an entire nation that has been for nearly 10 000 days the hostage of a few who, just recently, dropped their mask, thus showing their real fearful face to the world.

We now address the people of Iran,

There will be no miracle! Regardless of what kind of regime will be put in place tomorrow, let us unite our forces today on the basis of our common principles and draft our own charter founded on the pillars of the world?s most noble treaties. It is not up to us to determine what form of governance we want. Tomorrow, in a free Iran, it will be up to the people of this country to decide what they want, thus making it an obligation for us all to submit to their collective will.We, the Student Freedom Lovers of Iran, invite all those thriving towards the immensely difficult task of achieving freedom to participate to the Congress for the Freedom of Iran, putting aside their differences and thinking instead of our children.


Thursday, February 09, 2006

Depicting Mohammed

Reza Aslan, the Iranian-born research associate at the University of Southern California Center on Public Diplomacy and the author of No god but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam, writes why he is offended by the Danish cartoons of the prophet. As a Muslim myself, I find this to be one of the best commentaries I've read on the Danish cartoons issue so far:

...No one doubts that the press should be free to satirize. But freedom of the press cannot excuse the promotion of noxious stereotypes. Jewish groups were furious when the Chicago Tribune published a cartoon in 2003 that portrayed a hunched and hooknosed Ariel Sharon salivating before a pile of money doled out to him by George W. Bush, ostensibly as an incentive to maintain the peace process. ("On second thought," the avaricious Sharon is depicted as saying, "the path to peace is looking brighter.") And rightly so.

As international human rights law recognizes, in any democratic society freedom of the press must be properly balanced with civic responsibility, particularly at a time when the world seems to be engaged in a "war of ideology," to use President Bush's words. Extremist groups and some political leaders in the Arab and Muslim world are eager to exploit any opportunity to propagate their belief that Islam is under attack by the "West" and thus rally Muslims to their murderous cause...

Of course, the sad irony is that the Muslims who have resorted to violence in response to this offense are merely reaffirming the stereotypes advanced by the cartoons. Likewise, the Europeans who point to the Muslim reaction as proof that, in the words of the popular Dutch blogger Mike Tidmus, "Islam probably has no place in Europe," have reaffirmed the stereotype of Europeans as aggressively anti-Islamic...

And that is why as a Muslim American I am enraged by the publication of these cartoons. Not because they offend my prophet or my religion, but because they fly in the face of the tireless efforts of so many civic and religious leaders—both Muslim and non-Muslim—to promote unity and assimilation rather than hatred and discord; because they play into the hands of those who preach extremism; because they are fodder for the clash-of-civilizations mentality that pits East against West. For all of that I blame Jyllands-Posten. We in the West want Muslim leaders to condemn the racial and religious prejudices that are so widespread in the Muslim world. Let us lead by example.

Read the article in full.

UPDATE: Chad Evans from "In the Bullpen" responds to Aslan's assertions here.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Reza Pahlavi's communique regarding Iran's nuclear crisis

Reza Pahlavi needs to do a lot more than releasing a statement every couple of months if he really wants to be heard in Iran. Having said that, he makes some great points in his new statement. He should stick to them and just keep hammering them in the days and weeks ahead to make sure his message is not lost on the Iranian people:

February 2nd, 2006

As the Islamic republic enters its 28th year of continuous crisis, Iran faces the biggest danger of its contemporary history.This time around, it is no longer a question of defending the country's integrity against a smaller neighbour by sacrificing seven hundred thousand of our bravest compatriots while leaving behind two million handicapped and millions of mourning families. A sacrifice aggravated in its abysmal dimensions by the incredible political and military mismanagement of the Islamic republic's decision makers.

With time, the true nature of the regime has surfaced and its ultimate objectives have become clear to all. Today, with poverty and widespread economic crisis deepening each day, the regime is no longer in any position to face a united front of the world's democratic powers. Generating crisis after crisis finds its roots in the very foundations of the regime: the raison d'etre of the Islamic republic resides, not in the defence of Iran's national interests, but in the export of the regime's theocratic model throughout the world. The regime's constitution clearly states the need to build an ideological army capable of expanding the sovereignty of the law of allah over the entire world. To this end, the regime has used any means at its disposal, from supporting terrorist groups and religious extremism to interfering in regional countries' internal affairs. Thus, the very foundation of international trust vis-a-vis the Islamic regime has been seriously eroded.

Clearly, peoples of the world, who cherish their freedom and refuse to live under an Islamist theocracy, find themselves on a collision course with the Islamic republic. Therefore, it is the expansionist nature of the Islamic regime that has become the main obstacle to the realization of the inalienable right of the people of Iran to access nuclear technology. Don't we all remember that, prior to the establishment of the Islamic republic in Iran, France, Germany and the United States were competing with each other in order to provide our country with the latest and safest nuclear technology? Have we forgotten that it was America's best-known institute of technology that tailored an advanced program in order to educate and train Iranian students in mastering nuclear science? With the pursuit of those programs, by now we would have been in possession of 30 nuclear power stations of the highest standards capable of providing 36 thousand megawatts of electricity, which could sustain a more advanced industrial country than today's Iran.

Instead, with each passing day, the regime's ongoing confrontation with the rest of the world further erodes the economic foundations of our country. Massive capital and brain drains, along with the combination of inflation and recession, poverty and unemployment, all contribute to the regime's inability to satisfy our people's basic needs. Therefore, by creating crisis after crisis at both national and international levels, the regime intends to divert our attention from its own intrinsic incapability.

Dear compatriots,

As the people of Iran, our historic responsibility is clear: before the disaster on the horizon becomes a reality, it is up to us to take control of the helm and get our country to the coasts of safety, peace and freedom. This priority is above partisan politics. All our differences will turn into constructive competitive energy the day when our people could go to the ballot box, free of oppression. But, until that day, these differences should not prevent us from uniting our forces and putting, in the name of the people of Iran, the following demands to those who play with our destiny.


It's the Iranian people who have a right to nuclear technology, not the Iranian regime

Kash Kheirkhah

Due to the reactions I have received to my latest article "How the West can help us Iranians choose our own future and win our own freedom" (including two emails in which I was asked to clarify my position as an Iranian) I saw it necessary to once again let you know where I stand on the nuclear issue and a possible US military intervention.

First of all, I believe we do have a right to nuclear technology (although personally, I'm not that crazy about it considering the risks involved) but not under the current dangerous regime. A nuclear Iran is a threat first to the Iranian people and then to the rest of the world. I don't want my beloved country to "confront the real force of the nuclear energy, out of control" because of some tawdry cobbled-together Russian nuclear reactors. The Islamic Republic regime has proved to be unquestionably incapable of running Iran's most vital industries in the past 27 years. Take our aviation industry. Before revolution, Iran possessed one of the most capable air forces in the Middle East. The Imperial Iranian Air Force boasted the most advanced U.S.-made aircraft available, and its personnel received extensive training by U.S. Air Force instructors. What about now? Under the current regime, Iran's ailing Russian-made airplanes claim the lives of hundreds of people every year. Now, how could we Iranians allow ourselves to even think of having a nuclear program run by such incompetent hands?

Politically speaking, given this regime's track record, a nuclear theocratic regime in Iran could potentially serve as a nuclear hub of a vast terror network across the world and the first nation to pay a dear price for that would be none other than "us Iranians."

That's why this calamitous project has NOTHING to do with my sense of patriotism. How is that a regime that up until two years ago, disdained nationalism and even at one point cancelled the official "Oil Nationalization Movement" holiday, is now all of a sudden interested in Iran's "national" interests? Invoking Iranian people's nationalism over a program that poses the gravest threat to Iran and Iranians is a pathetic propaganda campaign no Iranian should fall for.
Second, I'm against a military intervention of any kind, even if leads to the downfall of Tehran's regime. No amount of reasoning and justification can ever convince me that any good can come out of such a potentially catastrophic event. Apart from claiming the lives of thousands of innocent people and alienating the pro-American section of the Iranian society, a post-invasion, American-installed government will not only bear no legitimacy in the eyes of the majority of the Iranians but, just like the never-ending controversies surrounding the US/UK backed 1953 Coup, will jinx the Iranian politics for years to come.

As a result, I believe the only way to win this for the West is through winning the hearts and minds of the Iranian people as I already explained in my latest piece that I invite you to read if you haven't yet.

U.S., Britain discuss promoting democracy in Iran

Still doesn't sound like they mean it, or maybe I've just grown too cynical...

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - American and British diplomats held talks this week on ways to promote democracy in Iran amid concern that Tehran is skillfully exploiting a row over it's nuclear ambitions to fan anti-Western hostility, U.S. officials said on Wednesday.
The discussions in Washington involved Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns, who is coordinating U.S. policy on Iran, and British diplomats who are serving or have served in Tehran, the officials and diplomats told Reuters.

American and British officials are leaning to the view that the West must create links with Iranians who oppose the Islamic cleric-led government of President Mohammad Ahmadinejad and are receptive to democracy.

"Obviously there is increasing interest both on Capitol Hill and in the administration in seeing what actually could be done to strengthen civil society in Iran," said a British diplomat.


Condoleezza Rice : Iran and Syria 'incited violence'

Two nights ago after the attack on the Danish Embassy in Iran, I wrote that I had no doubt that cornered rogue regimes like Iran and Syria were using the Danish cartoon issue to take out all their hatred and anger on the Western countries. The US Secretary of State is now saying exactly the same thing. BBC reports:

The US secretary of state has accused Iran and Syria of fuelling anti-Western sentiment, in a row over cartoons satirising the Prophet Muhammad.

Condoleezza Rice said both countries had used the opportunity to incite violence and exploit Muslim anger.

Also here: At the State Department, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said, "Iran and Syria have gone out of their way to inflame sentiments and to use this to their own purposes. And the world ought to call them on it."

Latest Iran headlines

  • Mirror - Blair: 'British Troops In Iran? We Can Never Say Never' : Tony Blair yesterday refused to rule out a British military invasion of Iran. He told MPs the rogue Middle Eastern state was helping to spread the "virus" of Muslim fanaticism across the world. It was a problem which needed "sorting", the Prime Minister said.

  • The Washington Post - Strong Leads and Dead Ends in Nuclear Case Against Iran: Iranian engineers have completed sophisticated drawings of a deep subterranean shaft, according to officials who have examined classified documents in the hands of U.S. intelligence for more than 20 months.

  • The Washington Post - 3 Myths About the Iran Conflict: Is there anything the West can do, short of a highly dangerous military option, to prevent Iran from going forward with its nuclear program? The answer is clearly yes. Although a prolonged standoff with Iran over its nuclear program would pose significant problems for Western countries, including a probable rise in oil prices, the benefits of preventing a nuclear Iran would clearly outweigh the costs. We'd like to try to dispel some common myths on the subject. Myth 1: Economic sanctions would hurt the West more than Iran...

  • The Wall Street Journal - In a Single Night (via Iran va Jahan): Many commentators argue that a pre-emptive air attack against Iran's nuclear installations is unfeasible. It would not be swift or surgical, they say, because it would require thousands of strike and defense-suppression sorties. And it is likely to fail even then because some facilities might be too well hidden or too strongly protected. There may well be other, perfectly valid reasons to oppose an attack on Iran's nuclear sites. But let's not pretend that such an attack has no chance of success. In fact, the odds are rather good.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Who do you think you're fooling?

Do you think such despicable behavior by a bunch of thugs could've ever happened without the Iranian Government having a hand in organizing the whole show? There's no question for me that cornered rogue regimes like Iran and Syria have now found a great way to take out all their hatred on the Western countries by using the Danish cartoon issue.

And honestly, I'm very disappointed in the Danish Government's impotent reaction...

Sunday, February 05, 2006

How the West can help us Iranians choose our own future and win our own freedom

Kash Kheirkhah

Earlier today Iran's president ordered the resumption of uranium enrichment and an end to UN inspections of its facilities after the International Atomic Energy Agency voted to report Tehran to the Security Council.

For days Iranian officials from Ali Larijani to the the President himself had warned that it would make such a move if IAEA voted to refer Iran to the UN Security Council.

But why? Why has Iran resorted to threats in the face of being referred to the United Nations? Didn't they already lead everyone to believe they didn't care at all about a "referral" or even sanctions?

They did. But the fact of the matter is they were bluffing and the World for the first time called their bluff in unison.

Iranian leaders know that once Iran's referred to the UN, the US and its allies can make life very difficult for them if they choose to do so. They very well know that Washington may consider using evidence of Iranian involvement in a number of past terrorist attacks-- such as Killing 300 US servicemen in the bombings of US Marines headquarters in Beirut in 1983 and bombing of the Khobar Towers in June 1996, killing 19 US servicemen and inuring 372-- against them and even call for the appointment of a UN investigator to look into Tehran’s role in them (just like what's happening now in Syria).

But more importantly, the Iranian regime perfectly knows that the current crisis has also the potential to awaken the long-suppressed longings for freedom and democracy that lie within the majority of Iranian people.

It is true that the majority of my compatriots believe they have a right to nuclear technology but it is also true that they are fully aware of the risks and consequences such technology can have at the hands of their current leaders. The Iranian people once paid dearly for mullahs' war ambitions 20 years ago and are not ready to go through such an ordeal again. What's more, they are fed up with this regime.

Believe me THAT's what has got Tehran so scared.

Since the very first day of its existence, the Islamic regime, modeling on the former Soviet Union's system, employed all possible means to coerce and intimidate the Iranian people into believing they had no choice but to accept this regime warts and all. The idea here was to disabuse the Iranian people of any hope that the opposition or West would ever be of any help to them.

And it worked. The first ten years of mass executions, brutal elimination of major Iranian dissidents (many of them in Europe as the European Governments stood aside watching) and persecution of opposing voices at home left Iranian opposition forces in total disarray. Also, In parallel with their domestic strategy, Tehran began to buy the world's silence over its dismal human rights record and its terrorist activities around the world by offering major industrial powers, fat economic contracts, thus leading the masses to believe it has the world's tacit approval to pursue whatever policy it desires to.

All these years, all the support Iranian people ever needed was to see the free world putting pressure on mullahs. Instead, the US kept ignoring both the Iranian people and the Iranian government's growing threat whereas Europe, while ignoring the Iranian people, continued its profitable relations with Iran under one of the funniest political terms in our contemporary history, "critical dialogue."

That's why the Iranian people stopped trusting the West. All these years, all we've seen from the US and its allies has been just empty talk and no action.

But now for the first time in Islamic Republic's history, things seem to be moving in a different direction. Iran's nuclear defiance has now brought the whole world together against a domestically and internationally despised regime. This new development gives the United States and its close allies an excellent opportunity to bridge the trust gap with the Iranian people and strengthen their hands in their quest for freedom and democracy. It is within this context that I believe the phrase "smart sanctions" makes perfect sense.

Smart sanctions are the sanctions that will help break the fake "untouchable" image of the Iranian regime in the eyes of its suppressed people; sanctions that would target " the Iranian officials", barring them from traveling abroad, suspending their membership in the world's most prestigious bodies such as the UN and cutting their finances, particularly their economic, military and nuclear-related trades.

It will be sanctions of this nature that will not only embolden the Iranian people into taking action, but will eventually convince Iran's armed forces ( including the Revolutionary Guard personnel) to stop supporting an ostracized regime whose existence only jeopardizes people's lives and the country's sovereignty.

The West has a credibility gap to fill with the Iranian people. It should work hard to address the Iranian people's concerns and help them regain their lost confidence in their fight against an oppressive regime. It should reach out to the Iranian people and assure them it is ready to, once and for all, stand up to a dangerous regime. That's how my compatriots can be helped to choose their own future and win their own freedom.

Related articles:

Babak Dehghanpisheh and Christopher Dickey, Newsweek - How dangerous is Iran?

Fareed Zakaria, Newsweek - Islam and Power

Iran's nuclear crisis: West losing public-relations campaign to Iran

Take a look at the following extract from yesterday's NY Times:

News that the International Atomic Energy Agency had voted by an overwhelming margin to refer Iran to the United Nation's Security Council was very slow to get out in Iran, where people have for the most part focused their concerns on domestic economic conditions and their own day-to-day challenges.

But in interviews in this ancient central Iranian city, and in the hills of northern Tehran, people expressed similar ideas-- trepidation over what awaits them, especially the prospect of penalties, but an almost universal commitment to support their government's drive for nuclear energy.
Sad but true. although many Iranians do not agree with Mullahs' policy of confrontation with the world over the nuclear program, Tehran's non-stop efforts to incite a strong nationalist backlash over the nuclear crisis specially in towns and rural areas are paying off. By spinning the nuclear program as a matter of national pride and likening it to Iran's Oil Nationalization Movement, the Iranian regime is desperately trying to build strong popular support for itself and its nuclear ambitions. Where is the West's much talked about "aggressive public-relations campaign" to counteract such efforts?

Also read:

Kash Kheirkhah - Iran's nuclear program: A matter of national pride or tragedy?

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Angela Merkel hits the spot on Iran

My hat off to German Chancellor Angela Merkel for putting Iran's nuclear threat in such great perspective. Ms Merkel's remarks precisely echeos what I wrote about two weeks ago, warning Europeans on the rise of another Hitler :

Reuters - German Chancellor Angela Merkel likened Iran's nuclear program on Saturday to the threat posed by Germany's Nazi regime in its early days, saying the world must act now to prevent it building the atom bomb. Addressing the annual Munich security conference, she said there had been complacency in other countries as Adolf Hitler rose to power. "Looking back to German history in the early 1930s when National Socialism (Nazism) was on the rise, there were many outside Germany who said 'It's only rhetoric -- don't get excited'," she told the assembled world policy makers.

"I say it as German chancellor. A president who questions Israel's right to exist, a president who denies the Holocaust cannot expect to receive any tolerance from Germany."

Points very well-made Madame Chancellor. It's really heart-warming to see you taking such a strong, straightforward stance as opposed to your predecessor Gerhard Schroeder who, I'm sure, would have continued to remain a spoke in the wheel of Europe standing up to Islamic Republic of Iran.