Saturday, March 29, 2008

Beyond Petroleum

We all agree that American military and people are over stretched, and are not too gung ho at the present moment to start a new war. (Give them another 30 years to recover, and then you shall have soldiers who "defended (defeated, rather) America in Iraq", will be running for president, and will be busy invading Canada's oil sands, or--since will have gone green by then--massive water reserves!)

So, how have they be settling the score with the big bad naughty disobedient Iran? By imposing unilateral sanctions and pointing their paper-tiger paws at those who have dared to do business with Iran.

Almost immediately after US sanctioned British, Armenian firms for breaking US-imposed sanctions , a Swiss company ignored US and made a multibillion-dollar deal with Iran! A few days after, India's Oil and Natural Gas Corp, announced that in a month Hinduja Group may sign a deal with Iran to develop natural gas field. A couple of weeks earlier than US's new rounds of economic huffings and puffings, Iran and Indonesia signed a deal to jointly set up an Indonesia oil refinery. Another exploration deal was signed with Vietnam at around the same time.

These deals coincided with Iran's announcement that it will hold The Thirteenth International Oil, Gas and Petrochemical Industries and Products Exhibition 16-21 April, 2008. The timing of the Oil & Gas West Asia 2008 conference, that will be held in Oman between April 21-23, makes convenient for those who pretend to respect Iran's sanctions, to follow up on the dealings made in the Iranian conference!

But how effective is the empire in wreaking havoc in Iran, and how serious will it be in imposing sanctions on Iran's oil industry?! America has run out of options. The only plausible scenario is accepting Iran, the way it is, and allowing the Iranians decide the future of their own democracy, economy, culture and religion.

In the meantime, Iran's laying eggs in other baskets.

Fitch Ratings, a global rating agency providing consultancy on investment credit opinions, issued an above passing average rating for Export Development Bank of Iran.

Recent EDBI's activities include:

Providing required finance to export 300 train wagons to Cuba
Supplied credits to export drugs and medical equipment
Pledged to finance water filtration plant in Sudan
Granted credit line to Ivory Coast
Supported the exports of the technical and engineering services in Afghanistan
Announced that the potential of financing tourism industries is bottomless!
Supported building cement factory in Venezuela

Building alliance with the "little" guys, in the grand scheme of history, is the right tide for Iran to be riding now.

Inauguration of a number of "first" conferences are evidence of Iran's serious drive to move beyond petroleum:

First International Conference of Tourism Investment Opportunities.
First Conference on Software Exports
First Conference of ECO mayors (Good urban governance)
First Conference on Organizing and Administering Employment Bureaus (global labour/skill exchange)

In fact, there are so many conferences happening in Iran that we had difficulty finding a 5-star hotel room for our visiting colleagues in November of last year! People who visit Iran leave satisfied, well taken care of, and well paid. Iranians are generous hosts; and even though one may doubt their long terms motives, one cannot help appreciating the pleasures of the fine offerings.

Culture is the other new Iranian export. Hollywood is America's second largest export industry (after weapons). Iran's global fame in "intellectual" cinema industry has turned into a burgeoning "popular movie" industry. Iran's cultural exports aim at the concerns, cultural dilemmas and traditions of the Muslim cinema-goers, who were otherwise visually alienated by both the Hollywood and Bollywood's cultural immodesty.

Iran is driving plans for a Persian-language satellite network to broadcast in Afghanistan and Tajikistan.

Iran, Russia sign deal for radio, TV cooperation

Moving pictures are not the only markets that Iran is exploring. It is reaching to her neighbors with its successful car products:

Iran to export cars to Azerbaijan
Iran due to export Samand cars to Turkey
Iran Khodro to ship Samand cars to Russia

Economic alliance with these neighbors is far more important to Iran's long term stability than satisfying the whim of America's chicken-hawks (TM:jolly Roger).

Read this excellent article as it highlights some of the fallacies of the West's assumptions about their divide and conquer scheme in the Middle East!

Iran is America's capitalist sister, don't believe those who think they hate each other! Unlike India, and Arab countries, Iran doesn't harbor any deep rooted, secret resentment of the ex-colonizers. The sooner this cacophony ends, the better for everyone! But again, little jealous brat Israel won't want that, would she? And the regional whores wouldn't be able to wedge inches by getting concessions from a squeezed Iran and a confused, greedy, needy America; they won't be able to milk both cows at the same time anymore, would they?!

Interesting decade ahead!

But I am not to worry. Were Iran to be defeated, Saddam's rapist co-adventure with his "then" western masters was the time to do so! As history witnessed, he has turned to dust! Who's next?!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Cheney fails to rally the Middle East in military action against Iran!

Our infamous Dicky has been trying hard to win support in the Middle East, and to gain ground for striking Iran via his peripheral puppets.

Just now, even Saudi's gave him the "No" card!

According to Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Washington DC:

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz urged Vice President Dick Cheney to give diplomacy more time before pushing for Iran’s referral to the United Nations Security Council over its nuclear program, the Arab News reported today. Egypt also urged Cheney to give negotiations with Iran more time.

Is it not historically urging to remind these Chicken Hawks [credit for this incredible term goes to Jolly Roger of Reconstitution] that regardless of all the subliminal rivalry between Iran and Saudi Arabia, the two nations have not been really hostile in action against each other in the past 13 hundred years?!

What makes Americans to believe that they can stand two Islamic theocracies against each other, other than their utmost disillusionment and ignorance about the reality of the Middle East?

Saddam, the only Arab leader to engage two Islamic neighbors during his tenure, who was both erected AND toppled by Americans was a "secular" leader. Iraq, when launched military attack against Iran, was not an Islamic state; and it went to fight Iran's Islamism.

By contrast, Iran and Saudi Arabia are constitutionally ISLAMIC. Given the mess in Iraq, given America's unfair bias in supporting Israel's brutality in Gaza, the politicians of Islamic countries CANNOT and WILL NOT side with America, regardless of the size of the carrot or stick!

One needs to realize that the Sunni-Shiite infighting in Iraq is not about religion, rather about settling scores on a nationalist agenda. The infighting is not between Shiites and Sunnis, but between groups who happen to belong to a Shiite majority and a Sunni minority and who hold the other accountable for (national and not religious) betrayal and other's oppression.

Shiites and Sunnis are NOT enemies; as much as the MSM makes the delusional North Americans believe they are! (nothing amuses me more than listening to people--anti-warriors, of course--who think themselves knowledgeable about the reality of Sunni/Shiite animosity!)

That the Middle East countries like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and Iran have not fallen into political instability by the Shiite-Sunni infightings is increasingly worrisome to Israel; the last thing they want is Iran and Arabs united! However, Israelis have not been able to outsmart Arabs and Iranians this time; and their provocative recent actions have not produced the kind of massive Arab reaction they wished/planned for. Israel's increasingly isolated, while Iran's been making concessions to its Arab neighbors.

The recent election results in Iran weakens America/Israel's position even further. It is not that the election was fair and that the conservatives won fair and square. It is that in spite of all the electoral irregularities, there is no massive revolution happening in Iran contesting the conservative status quo! People just have more important issues than toppling a government in Iran!

The hurried travels of McCain, Lieberman and Cheney to the Middle East reflects Neoconservatives and Zionists shared anxiety about loosing power in the Middle East and losing momentum against Iran! Iraq's oil will not remain in their hands for too long! And there is a limit to the indignity of the UAE's prostitution. With US economy failing, the regional whores will be looking to younger richer customers!

Neoconservative might hope to rally Arab nationalists (residuals of Nasserite and Saddamist school of thought) against Iran's "hegemonic" aspirations; but they will NOT succeed in holding Shiites and Sunnis against each other.

Even, flaming nationalist ashes will not be an easy deed, because Iran has NOT BEEN AGGRESSIVE to any Arab country, nor to Jewish state, nor to Turkey, nor to Pakistan or Afghanistan!

The last fight Iran started (and lost, as they tried to take some of the territory lost in an earlier war) was against Russia, in the 18th century, a past long forgotten, a land never reclaimed, a land long forgotten too, and now turned into independent states!

Truth is, Iran is secure enough to not go to war to settle it's territorial disputes in the north, west and the Persian gulf region. The wealth in Iran is no longer only oil-based. In the heart of the Persian plateau, earth is generous with minerals. And the increasingly educated and industrialized youth of Iran are becoming increasingly inventive and entrepreneurial. Iran exports culture, flowers, food, and soon enough water and wind energy!

To consider Iran's economic weight, makes one realize the fear the "real hegemons" feel about Iran's ENTIRE independence from oil revenue. The urge to stop Iran's nuclear activities is not because of fear of its military strike against Israel. But about inability of the old powers in holding Iran by the traditional oil leash. An India or China in the heart of the Middle East? That will set a dangerous inspirational example, would it not?

Alienating Iran is no longer a viable political or economic reality! Iran's not been coercing its neighbors by military threats, she's been cooing them by economic and cultural consensus. To make an enemy of Iran serves no geopolitical purpose. Iraq's history has proven that; and I would be surprised if there are dumb enough politicians in the world (minus Bush, Sarkozy, McCain, Clinton and Bin Laden) who want to risk the foreseeable outcome of engaging Iran in any hostile way.

How deep has Cheney dug America's grave! I hope the American people will hold him accountable, not for the havoc he wreaked in Iraq, but for the demise he brought to America!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Happy Norooz!

Another spring!

Last year, I managed to set a colorful table.
This year, I could not!
I offer the following excuses:

1) Leni, my 4 years old gold fish died, of old age perhaps.
2) My car has been stuck in snow and it was freez-raining today and thus I could not even buy flowers.

My husband still set a haft-seen: seer (garlic), Sekeh (coins), Somagh (sumac), Seeb (Apple), Senjed (no clue what it is in English), Sabzeh (wheat sprouts) and Sonbol (hyacinth). I also have a mirror and sweets and roasted nuts on the table. I didn't have time to paint eggs; or to bake home made cookies.

Nevertheless, I made Ash-reshteh, and I cooked Sabzipolo and Mahi (herb-rice and fish), and I was with those I love most.

We did some spring cleaning, far from thorough, but a gesture counts!
I wore something new!
And, I wrote to my friends!
Our new year festivities are not commercial, so no need to buy gifts for anyone!

Equinox won't be before almost two hours; and I won't be able to stay up till then. So, I wish to welcome the spring with a nice poem from Alexandre Pushkin:

In alien lands I keep the body
Of ancient native rites and things:
I gladly free a little birdie
At celebration of the spring.

I'm now free for consolation,
And thankful to almighty Lord:
At least, to one of his creations
I've given freedom in this world!

P.S. I don't have a bird to liberate, but I have allowed a little squirrel to nest in our balcony; in spite of the damage she is doing and teh mess she is making!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

On the Anniversary of American Invasionism (Iraq war blogswarm)

The Wasteland (T.S. Eliot)


APRIL is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers.
Summer surprised us, coming over the Starnbergersee
With a shower of rain; we stopped in the colonnade,
And went on in sunlight, into the Hofgarten,
And drank coffee, and talked for an hour.
Bin gar keine Russin, stamm' aus Litauen, echt deutsch.
And when we were children, staying at the archduke's,
My cousin's, he took me out on a sled,
And I was frightened. He said, Marie,
Marie, hold on tight. And down we went.
In the mountains, there you feel free.
I read, much of the night, and go south in the winter.

What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow
Out of this stony rubbish? Son of man,
You cannot say, or guess, for you know only
A heap of broken images, where the sun beats,
And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief,
And the dry stone no sound of water. Only
There is shadow under this red rock,
(Come in under the shadow of this red rock),
And I will show you something different from either
Your shadow at morning striding behind you
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;
I will show you fear in a handful of dust.
Frisch weht der Wind
Der Heimat zu.
Mein Irisch Kind,
Wo weilest du?
'You gave me hyacinths first a year ago;
'They called me the hyacinth girl.'
—Yet when we came back, late, from the Hyacinth garden,
Your arms full, and your hair wet, I could not
Speak, and my eyes failed, I was neither
Living nor dead, and I knew nothing,
Looking into the heart of light, the silence.
Od' und leer das Meer.

Madame Sosostris, famous clairvoyante,
Had a bad cold, nevertheless
Is known to be the wisest woman in Europe,
With a wicked pack of cards. Here, said she,
Is your card, the drowned Phoenician Sailor,
(Those are pearls that were his eyes. Look!)
Here is Belladonna, the Lady of the Rocks,
The lady of situations.
Here is the man with three staves, and here the Wheel,
And here is the one-eyed merchant, and this card,
Which is blank, is something he carries on his back,
Which I am forbidden to see. I do not find
The Hanged Man. Fear death by water.
I see crowds of people, walking round in a ring.
Thank you. If you see dear Mrs. Equitone,
Tell her I bring the horoscope myself:
One must be so careful these days.

Unreal City,
Under the brown fog of a winter dawn,
A crowd flowed over London Bridge, so many,
I had not thought death had undone so many.
Sighs, short and infrequent, were exhaled,
And each man fixed his eyes before his feet.
Flowed up the hill and down King William Street,
To where Saint Mary Woolnoth kept the hours
With a dead sound on the final stroke of nine.
There I saw one I knew, and stopped him, crying 'Stetson!
'You who were with me in the ships at Mylae!
'That corpse you planted last year in your garden,
'Has it begun to sprout? Will it bloom this year?
'Or has the sudden frost disturbed its bed?
'Oh keep the Dog far hence, that's friend to men,
'Or with his nails he'll dig it up again!
'You! hypocrite lecteur!—mon semblable,—mon frère!'

(painting: Peter Paul Ruben, Destruction of Sennacherib)

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Welcoming the New year: Wednesday Fire Festival

I am so tangled in work that I almost forgot it's new year!!
But luckily, Massoumeh Price has something on the, which I came across through's archives.
Et voila: Learn all about Wednesday's fire festival; when we give our fatigue to fire, and take up its heat and colour for the new year to come.

The ancient Iranians celebrated the last 10 days of the year in their annual obligation feast of all souls, Hamaspathmaedaya (Farvardigan or popularly Forodigan). They believed Foruhars, the guardian angles for humans and also the spirits of dead would come back for reunion. These spirits were entertained as honored guests in their old homes, and were bidden a formal ritual farewell at the dawn of the New Year. The ten-day festival also coincided with festivals celebrating the creation of fire and humans. In Sassanian period the festival was divided into two distinct pentads, known as the lesser and the greater Pentad, or Panji as it is called today. Gradually the belief developed that the 'Lesser Panji' belonged to the souls of children and those who died without sin, whereas 'Greater Panji' was truly for all souls.

Spring housecleaning was carried out and bon fires were set up on the rooftops to welcome the return of the departed souls. Small clay figurines in shape of humans and animals symbolizing all departed relatives and animals were also placed on the rooftops. Zoroastrians today still follow this tradition. Flames were burnt all night to ensure the returning spirits were protected from the forces of Ahriman. This was called Suri festival. There were gatherings in joyful assemblies, with prayers, feasts and communal consumption of ritually blessed food. Rich and poor met together and the occasion was a time of general goodwill when quarrels were made up and friendships renewed.

Iranians today still carry out the spring-cleaning and set up bon fires for only one night on the last Tuesday of the year. Young and old will leap over the fires with songs and gestures of merriment. This festival was not celebrated on this night and in this manner before Islam and might be a combination of different rituals to make them last. Wednesday in Islamic tradition represents a bad omen day with unpleasant consequences. This is contrary to Zoroastrian cosmology where all days were sacred and named after a major deity. By celebrating in this manner Iranians were able to preserve the ancient tradition. The festival is celebrated on Tuesday night to make sure all bad spirits are chased away and Wednesday will pass uneventfully. In rural areas and remote villages flames are still burnt all night on the rooftops and outside the homes, though people have no idea what this is all about.

Today the occasion is accompanied by fire works from locally made firecrackers. There is no religious significance attached to it any more and is a purely secular festival for all Iranians. On the eve before the last Wednesday, bonfires are lit through out the streets and back alleys, or with the more prosperous, inside walled gardens. People leap over the flames while shouting; 'sorkhie tu az man, zardieh man az tu'. Your fiery red color is mine and my sickly yellow paleness is your. This is a purification rite and 'suri' itself means red and fiery.

The festivities start in the early evening. Children and fun seeking adults, wrap themselves in shrouds symbolically reenacting the visits by the departed spirits. They run through the streets banging on pots and pans with spoons (Gashog-Zani or spoon banging) to beat out the last unlucky Wednesday of the year. They will knock on doors while covered and in disguise and ask for treats. The practices are very similar to Halloween, which is a Celtic version of similar festivals celebrated throughout the area in ancient times.

It is believed that wishes will come true on this night, reminiscent of ancient traditions. Wishes are made and in order to make them come true, it is customary to prepare special foods and distribute them on this night. Noodle soup called 'Ash e Chahar Shanbeh Suri is prepared' and is consumed communally. Every one even strangers passing by will be served with nuts and dried fruits. This treat is called 'Ajeel e Chahar Shanbeh Suri' and is a mixture of seven dried nuts and fruits, pistachios, roasted chic peas, almond, hazelnuts, figs, apricots, and raisins. Local variations apply and the mixture is different according to the location and the group celebrating it.

People who have made wishes will stand at the corner of an intersection, or hide behind walls to listen to conversation by passerby's. If there is anything positive and optimistic in the conversation, the belief is that the wish will come true or there is good fortune to be expected. This is called Fal-Gush meaning 'listening for one's fortune'. The night will end with more fire works and feasts where family and friends meet and with the more modern Iranians music and dance will follow. Happy Chahar Shanbeh Suri, and may your wishes come true.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Iran's Martial Artist Girl goes to Beijing

iran's olympic hopeful
Sara Khoshjamal trains her way to the Beijing Olympics (Lara Setrakian/ABC News)

Since making the Olympic qualifiers in Vietnam and beating the world's top-ranking woman in her weight class last month, Khoshjamal has become a national celebrity. Keeping with what's required in her conservative Muslim society, Khoshjamal competes wearing a headscarf. In a country with limited options for competitive female athletes, she represents irrepressible talent and ambition.

"Sara is becoming a role model for young girls in Iran," Kiarash Bahri of Iran's Tae Kwon do Federation told ABC News, standing near a larger-than-life poster bearing Khoshjamal's image.

Khoshjamal is the first Iranian woman to earn a spot at the Olympics.

In the past three years other women have competed from the Islamic Republic in Olympic pistol-shooting, but Bahri said they were wild card entries. None of the women finished in the top three, making Khoshjamal Iran's best hope for its first female medalist.

"I'm happy, but I am nervous. It is a very big duty. All of my country is watching me," she said.

"I would love to take a gold medal in Beijing. I know it is important for other girls in Iran, but it's important for me too. I practice very hard, and I hope we can do it. It will make the people of my country happy."

Tae kwon do is increasingly popular among women in Iran, with roughly 120,000 women practicing the martial art. It is one of few sports in which Iran's Islamic leadership allows women to compete on an international level.

They are barred from taking part in most Olympic sports, though they can compete internationally in rowing, riflery and chess.

Though intensely physical, tae kwon do is viewed as being compatible with conservative Muslim dictates.

(good people of earth, I am dyslexic! :) )

Camera Reversed: Kiarostami Makes Iranian Stars Cry!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Iranian's 8 Parliamentary Election

Polls closed a few minutes ago!
The right wingers are already claiming victory!

Roughly 39% of eligible voters participated in the election. (None of my family members did! I assume their candidates were not allowed on the ballot.)

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Bush administration has fueled the human-rights abuses in Iran

By Trita Parsi (president of the National Iranian American Council in Washington, D.C.)

The Bush administration's apparent disregard for the expressed wishes of Iranian human-rights defenders has made a bad situation worse. When it comes to human rights in the Middle East, the Bush administration has claimed to walk the walk. But that walk clearly has a limp.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch report that executions in Iran - including instances of stoning - have sharply increased under President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. In addition, using the Bush administration's Iran Democracy Fund as a pretext, Iranian authorities have clamped down on Iran's civil society with thousands of arrests.
The $75 million Iran Democracy Fund, first appropriated in 2006, was reappropriated in December despite loud protests by human rights and democracy champions. Human rights workers argue that this "regime change slush fund" has facilitated the Ahmadinejad government's latest wave of abuses.

Washington has dismissed these protests, putting Iranian human-rights defenders in a double bind. While they recognize that the absence of diplomacy between Washington and Tehran - and the ensuing tensions - enable the Iranian government to intensify human-rights abuses, activists also fear that U.S.-Iran talks might result in a relationship that mirrors America's relationship with Saudi Arabia, Egypt or Iran under the shah. That is, one in which geopolitical objectives trump concerns about human rights and democracy.

There is a solution to this dilemma.

Washington must restore its own standing on human rights, and put the deteriorating human rights situation in Iran on the table in its discussions with Tehran.

A foreign policy contingent on human rights will create a balance between America's relationship with the people of Iran and its relationship with Iran's unpopular government.

The value of this relationship will yield great strategic objectives for the United States. Namely, any resulting improvements in the U.S. relationship with Iran will be sustainable, rather than tied to the survival of the current regime.

By tying improved relations to Iranian respect for human rights, Washington will develop a stake in Iran's future and ultimate stability, but not a stake in the survival of the Iranian theocracy.

Past foreign policy efforts in the Middle East - namely with America's Arab allies - have failed in this regard. While Arab governments support the American order, Arab streets blame the United States for prolonging the reigns of the dictators who rule them. Unsurprisingly, this creates a dangerous breeding ground for anti-American sentiments and terrorism.

Making Iran's human rights record [and not Iran's development toward nuclear technology] a condition of gradual improvement of U.S.-Iran relations would help reduce tensions between the two countries without alienating the Iranian people and undermining America's soft power in Iran.

The next president of the United States must recognize the necessity of reducing tensions with Tehran through diplomacy. Fortunately, this strategic goal can be achieved without getting stuck with the theocracy.