Monday, May 26, 2008

Call for participation: Recipes for Peace

Yesterday I was down and Enigma and I got into a little sisterly chat which started from sharing her potato salad recipe:
You need:
Bag little red potatos, english cucumber, red onions, one lime, Cilantro, Sweet Basil, Mrs.Dash, (regular).
Paprika ( Sweet Hungarian) Mustard ( Brown or Yellow, 3-4 spoons) Mayo (half cup to one cup) 2 tablespoons of Sour cream

Little red Potatos Half a Bag...Boil them slowly...Then run under cold water...the skins should fall off...or able to peel off with fingers.. Put in a large bowl... sprinkle lightly with lime juice...from the lime.. Then add the rest of the ingredients, and the mayo is the last thing to add, start with a Half cup, then add until it nice and moist- but not soupy... and then add the Sour Cream ( it adds a nice flavor... Then sprinkle, MrsDash, Light salt , light pepper, and mustard...and sprinkle with paprika...

I have been thinking of a food project for some time, and finally:


You are cordially invited to post one of your most favorite "ethnic" recipes.

Recipes from Israel; Iraq, Jordan, Syria, Egypt and Saudi Arabia are particularly appreciated.

If you know of symbolism of a dish or ingredient, please let me know.

Folkloric food stories are particularly welcome.

If you are or know of an Israeli restaurant in North America or UK, please let me know.

Pass on the message please.

Thank you for participating.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

1982: May 24 Liberation of Khoramshahr

None of my war memories are as sharp as the day Khorramshahr was liberated ... It was the first time my mother celebrated some deed accomplished by the IRI 'regime'--as she still calls it. She, who had lost everything because of the Islamic Revolution, put her scarf on in her clumsy way, took our hands and brought us to the street--with a box of sweets she bought from Papa Bakery. A nation was celebrating; and we (the anti-revolutionary Taghooties) were united with the revolutionary mostaz'af. It was then that I realized the revolution had not really ruined everything.

I have never seen Khorramshahr, but my parents used to call it the Bride of the Iranian cities. Perhaps because they spent their honeymoon there. I have seen khoramshahr through black and white pictures of my parents: Palm trees, row boats ... must have been green.

Wikipedia describes the Battle for Khorramshahr as this:
During the Iran-Iraq War Khoramshahr was extensively ravaged by Iraqi forces as a result of Saddam Hussein's [breaking the] scorched earth policy. Prior to the war, Khorramshahr had grown extensively to become one of the world's major port cities, and home to some of the most exclusive neighborhoods in Iran. The population was predominantly wealthy and upper class, and along with Abadan, the prevalent culture was that of modern Iranian cosmopolitanism.

As the Iraqis drew near at the beginning of the war, the Iranian Army evacuated much of the city. In the defense of Khorramshahr, the Iranians prepared a series of dykes on the outskirts of the city, the first dyke holding regular soldiers and the second dyke holding tanks, artillery, and anti-tank weapons. Personnel wise, the Iranian Regular Army was responsible for the city’s external defenses and the Pasdaran (i.e. The Revolutionary Guards) were responsible for the center.

The Iraqi objectives were to occupy the city outskirts, the Dej Barracks in the north, and the port in the south. In the first days of the fighting, beginning on September 30th (1981), the Iraqis cleared the dykes and captured the area around the city, cutting it off from both Abadan and the rest of the Khuzestan province. The first two attempts to enter the city, launched by an armored division and Special Forces, were met with heavy losses for the Iraqi forces. In response, the Iraqis planned on sending in additional commando units with armor providing backup. Iraqi Special Forces and Commando units took the port whilst Iraqi armored brigades took Dej, both before moving into the suburbs.

It was in the suburbs that the Iraqi attack stalled when they encountered Iranian Pasdaran and Chieftain tanks. Local counterattacks by tank-infantry teams turned back the Iraqi forces at several points. The sheer weight of the Iraqi tank force settled the issue in their favor, but when Iranian armor was encountered on the defense, it stopped attacks cold. Only repeated combined arms assaults broke the ability of the Chieftains to dominate the open areas within the suburban battle space.

As the fighting moved toward the city center, armor operations were reduced to a supporting role, since the tanks couldn’t fire as effectively through the tight and narrow streets. The Iraqis tended to attack at night to advance troops and gain surprise, and place observation points on tall buildings. The Iranians would often move in snipers at night, which also bogged the battle down for the invading Iraqis. [...]
The final objectives towards the end of the battle were the Government building where the Iranian headquarters was located, as well as the nearby bridge connecting the road from Khorramshahr to Abadan. Fighting for possession of the bridge took 48 hours. The last Iraqi attack started at dawn on 24 October and lasted five hours. The city was cleared by 26 October.

The city practically became a ghost town afterward with the exception of the Iraqi army occupants. During the occupation, the Iraqi soldiers looted goods from the Iranian ports and had them transferred to Basra. According to other claims, soldiers raped several Iranian women in the city as well. Due to both the strategically high loss of men and the harsh weather following the battle, the Iraqis were unable to conduct any further offensives against Iran.

The city remained in Iraqi hands until April of 1982, when the Iranians launched Operation Jerusalem to recapture the Khuzestan province. The first attack (April 24 to May 12) consisted of 70,000 Pasdaran and succeeded in pushing the Iraqis out of the Ahvaz-Susangerd area. The Iraqis withdrew back to Khorramshahr and, on May 20th, launched a counter attack against the Iranians, which was repulsed. The Iranians then launched an all out assault on Khorramshahr, capturing two of the defense lines in the Pol-e No and Shalamcheh region. The Iranians gathered around the Shatt al-Arab waterway, surrounding the city and, thus, beginning the second siege. The Iranians finally recaptured the city on May 24th after two days of bitter fighting, capturing 19,000 soldiers from a demoralized Iraqi Army after the fighting was over. [...]

I remember that year I had sent a gift to the frontline. I don't recall the gift, but I remember the card: a Gold background and a white swan. I don't remember what I had written; must have been something like "Happy new year soldier; thank you for defending me; I feel safe in school; and I watch you on TV all the time, fighting in those dry harsh ditches" I don't really know I am imagining. But I also remember the soldier who received my card wrote back to me. What a non-romantic fool I was; I should have kept the letter. I wonder if he lived ... or if he was in one of those many coffins that our school made us follow to the graveyard, as a sign of respect for our soldiers ...

Sad war ... sad sad sad war ... but if they come again, this time the paper tiger himself, I will keep the letter I receive from the soldiers ... who knows, maybe I will be a soldier myself.

but I HATE war ...

Monday, May 19, 2008

Iranian women top Korea's inventor's awards

This year, South Korea hosted the first International Women's Invention Expo. The event aimed to support women inventors and companies set up by women entrepreneurs to provide an opportunity for marketing their inventive products, sharing information and experiences and also finding good business opportunities.

Iranian women presented the following projects, and with 23 medals ranked first among the 25 participating countries:(source)

1. Mehrnaz Golchinfar: Power station without pollution for environment (Winner of the Special Jury Award)
2. Ladan Nakhaei, Saeideh Nooshzadeh and Naser Darijani: Laboratory washer device for washing non accessible points of the laboratory tools and devices.
3. Elena Horri, Mehrangiz Ebrahimi and Mohsen Horri: Washable polymer and elastic for x-ray absorption
4. Negar Mahmoodian: Automatic music stand
5. Marzieh Morselpour, Mohammad Ali jusefzadeh and Parvin Nejad Sarvari: Production of ointment and suppository of citrullus colocynthis extract to reduce blood sugar
6. Negar Molazadeh: Intelligent seat belt
7. Parvin Vasseghi, Anaheita Davoodi and Tahmasb Davoodi: Building energy management system (BEMS)
8. Soheila Kamrani and Saeed Naderian: Producing water color compounds special for use in water color painting technique on stone, as well as regular technique of water color prepared from pigments of fruits, herbal plants, food colors and powder paints
9. Sonya Saberi: Nano composite (World Intellectual Property (WIPO) Award)
10. Fatemeh Soltanzadeh and Mojtaba Emamjome: The Optimization of Cement and Concrete with Usage of Oman Sea Chalky Conches
11. Samaneh Mollaghasemi, Mahtab Ahmadi and Mansoor Norooz Eidian: A device to relieve migraine pains.
12. Roghayeh Hashemi: Anti-Fertility effects of seed of cossypium herbaceum and ruta graveolens plants on adult male rats is regd
13. Hoda Jalali Nejad, Amir Jalali Nejad and Hamid Jalali Nejad: Recycling of polyethylene tare phthalate (PET) which used for water and soft drink
14. Maryam Eslami : An implement for reparation and surgery of osseous diseases in olecranon (nternational Federation of Inventors' Associations (IFIA) Award, also honored with the WIPO special emblem as the top laureate for her findings consistent with the treatment of bone and joint diseases at the 36th International Exhibition of Inventions held on April 2-6 2008,where she (photo to the right) won the first prize)
15. Mahnaz Saeedi Delcheh: Flat gelatins cover for shoes to attending high equilibrium and residence of foot ache
16. Zahra Sajjadi: Automatically system that change unpleasant air to pleasant air
17. Iman Kanani: Water Purifier/Softener
18. Sahar Sepehr: Robo School Police
19. Maryam Noori: Robo traffic police
20. Zeynab Abdolzahrai: Wireless Electric Skate Roller

Also see:
Young Iranian Talent at Geneva Inventions Fair
Iranian inventors ranked second at Moscow Industrial Innovations Fair
A glimpse at the history of Science and Technology in Iran

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Petraeus' failed plan

Bogus Claim, al-Maliki Stall US Plan on Iran Arms

by Gareth Porter

WASHINGTON, May 14 - Early this month, the George W. Bush administration’s plan to create a new crescendo of accusations against Iran for allegedly smuggling arms to Shiite militias in Iraq encountered not just one but two setbacks.

he government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki refused to endorse U.S. charges of Iranian involvement in arms smuggling to the Mahdi Army, and a plan to show off a huge collection of Iranian arms captured in and around Karbala had to be called off after it was discovered that none of the arms were of Iranian origin.

The news media’s failure to report that the arms captured from Shiite militiamen in Karbala did not include a single Iranian weapon shielded the U.S. military from a much bigger blow to its anti-Iran strategy. ... read more

Friday, May 16, 2008

How successful will Bush be in this new round of pimpimg war in the Middle East?

The Asia Times commentary by Bhadrakumar illustrates: Not successful at all!
I provide an annotated summary; but the entire article is worth reading as it provides context for what the popular press and Washington/New York pundits willfully, or negligently ignore.

Last Tuesday, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal warned Tehran that its support to what he termed Hezbollah's "coup" in Lebanon would affect Iran's relations with Arab and Islamic countries. This was reported by the mass media as a rift between Iran and Saudis and taken as a serious cause of upcoming tension--augmented by Bush's visit to the Middle East. In other words, the "cosmopolitan" Saudi Prince flipped his "sectarian" card of divide between Shiites and the rest.

However the Saudi prince's intention to unnerve Tehran failed as " Tehran coolly ignored the Saudi foreign minister's warning. To make things doubly clear, Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad said dismissively the Saudi prince spoke in "anger". Anger, we know, doesn't go well with good Muslims. Ahmadinejad then proceeded to make a startling revelation that Faisal was not following the "orders" of Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud. "

On Wednesday, King Abdullah quickly dissociated himself from his foreign minister's dire warning to Iran and the Saudi ambassador in Tehran, Osama bin Ahmad al-Sonosi, called on the chairman of Iran's Expediency Council, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, to hand over a letter from the Saudi monarch containing an invitation to the Iranian cleric leader to visit Riyadh to attend the International Islamic Dialogue Conference. The Saudi ambassador reportedly said, "King Abdullah believes you [Rafsanjani] have a great stature in the Islamic world ... and he has assigned me the duty of inviting you to the conference."

This is an interesting revelation; as it has to be kept in mind that Hashemi-Rafsanjani and Ahmadinejad are the opposing poles of the IRI: Ahmadinejad won the election against Hashemi; charging him with financial corruption--a charge many Iranians do not dismiss as Hashemi is the face of "capitalism" in Iran; and most probably in cahoots with neoconservatives. However, the power struggles in the IRI are very nuanced; and Hashemi, Ahmadinejad and the supreme leader seem to have a united front with regards to the Palestinian problem, Iraq, Nuclear Energy, Islamic republicanism and etc.

Rafsanjani accepted the invitation and stressed the need for understanding and comprehension amongst different Islamic factions.

The retraction of Saudi's is not surprising because "The entire Saudi political stratagem in Lebanon has backfired. The Saudi backing for the Foud al-Siniora government's moves to drag Hezbollah into a civil war stands badly exposed. A most awkward detail known to the "Arab street" is that Saudi intelligence and diplomacy was acting hand-in-glove with the United States in the dubious business of emasculating Hezbollah. The ultimate US-Saudi intention was to curtail Hezbollah's dominating stature on Lebanon's political and security landscape.
The crisis in Lebanon was proceeded by a barrage of propaganda in the Saudi-supported media aimed at discrediting Hezbollah in Arab opinion and to demolish its profile as Lebanon's resistance movement before disarming it.

However, "As it turns out, Hezbollah made the Siniora government and its Saudi backers look very foolish. As Israeli military intelligence chief Major General Amos Yadlin put it, Hezbollah proved last week that it is the strongest force in Lebanon - "stronger than the Lebanese army" - and could have seized power if it had wanted to. "Hezbollah did not intend to take control ... If it had wanted to, it could have done it," Yadlin told Ha'aretz newspaper. "

Ironically, "The Saudis have realized there aren't many takers in the Arab world for their anti-Iran, anti-Hezbollah ploys at present. Qatar, Yemen and Algeria have visibly dissociated from the Saudis. Syria continues to firmly align with Iran. Oman, which currently heads the Gulf Cooperation Council, is most disinterested in Saudi Arabia's anti-Iranian stratagems. The deputy to Oman's Sultan, Fahd bin Mahmoud al-Said, paid a successful visit to Iran on April 20. A visit by Oman's Sultan Qaboos to Iran is in the cards. Sensing its growing isolation, Riyadh mounted the latest Arab League mediation in Lebanon on Wednesday. The Arab League meeting itself was scarcely attended."

"The supreme leader of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Mohammed Mahdi Akef, said the Lebanese resistance is the only group that determines what is good for the country while facing the "Zionist-US plot that is penetrating deep into Lebanon". Akef stressed that in the Muslim mind, Hezbollah's image stands unshaken. Similar statements of solidarity have been made by other Sunni Islamic organizations in the Middle East, including in Jordan, despite the Jordanian regime's close alliance with Riyadh. Such solidarity of regional Muslim opinion favoring Hezbollah works to Iran's advantage. The Saudi king's invitation to Rafsanjani to visit Riyadh is a grudging acknowledgement of this political reality. Washington has been desperately keen to transfer the "Lebanon file" to the United Nations Security Council next week. US deputy National Security Advisor Elliott Abrams said in Washington on Tuesday, "We are going to be unrolling a few things in the course of the week, starting perhaps with the Security Council." But it is unlikely the Saudis will want a showdown with Iran over Lebanon at New York at this juncture."

"What is most extraordinary is that all this is playing out on the sidelines of Bush's own visit to the region. As things stand, the Middle East is seething with anger that the Bush administration has dumped the Israel-Palestine "peace process", despite all the hullabaloo at the Annapolis conference in the US last November. In addition, Bush's close identification with Israel profoundly alienates Arab opinion. The Bush administration's overall credibility is also very low, given the Iraq quagmire. Bush is being left in no doubt that the mood in the Middle East is firmly against any US adventurism against Iran. Curiously, Washington seems to anticipate the trust deficit in Riyadh and Cairo, the key Arab capitals that are on Bush's itinerary. "

" What it adds up to is that the Bush administration realizes that it is left with hardly any choice other than resorting to "Track II" diplomacy with Tehran. The Iranians are no more taking the lame-duck administration in Washington seriously. They know the Bush administration stands widely discredited in the Middle East. They know it is in any case necessary to deal with the new administration in Washington next year. They are shrewd enough to assess that any US exit strategy in Iraq that the incoming US administration formulates, will be critically dependent on Iran's cooperation.

Meanwhile, the axis involving Iran, Syria, Hamas and Hezbollah remains intact. Tehran knows it can afford to sit tight for the remaining period of the Bush administration. Of course, it should not do anything rash in the meantime that might provide an alibi to Washington to lash out. Most important, the Iranian regime knows its policy enjoys strong popular support within the country. "

" The most critical calculation behind Tehran's policy at the present juncture would be that US-Saudi ties have come under unprecedented stress, which in turn, incrementally, weakens Riyadh's leadership role and overall standing in the region. In an insightful dispatch from Riyadh, Karen Elliott House, the Pulitzer Prize-winning diplomatic correspondent and a former publisher of the Wall Street Journal, wrote in the newspaper on Wednesday that the US and Saudi Arabia are finding it "problematic" to steer their relationship, which is already "fraying" at its edges. The core ingredients of the traditional mutually beneficial relationship - a US security blanket in lieu of cheap Saudi oil - are lacking even as the "neighborhood around Saudi Arabia has become much more threatening". "

" Riyadh is in two minds. The urbane Westernized Saudi foreign minister's uncharacteristic threat to ostracize Shi'ite Iran in the Islamic world on account of its regional policy in Lebanon harks to the past. The Saudi king's native wisdom in inviting an Iranian cleric leader to visit Riyadh at the present critical juncture beckons to the future. The House of Saud is apparently being pulled in different directions. "

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

To totally obliterate us ...

Hamid Dabashi's essay examines Hillary Clinton's "urge" to totally Obliterate Iran:

In the wake of the key Pennsylvania presidential primary for the Democratic nomination on Tuesday 22 April 2008, and in response to a question by a reporter about what she meant by saying earlier that she will launch a "massive attack" against Iran in the hypothetical case of Iran attacking Israel, Senator Hillary Clinton said, "I want the Iranians to know that if I'm the president, we will attack Iran. And I want them to understand that. Because it does mean that they have to look very carefully at their society. Because whatever stage of development they might be in their nuclear weapons program in the next ten years during which they might foolishly consider launching an attack on Israel, we would be able to totally obliterate them. That's a terrible thing to say, but those people who run Iran need to understand that."

Soon after she made this remark, the good people of Pennsylvania (following the example of practically all other large states, from New York and New Jersey to Texas and California) went ahead and handed Senator Clinton a solid victory over her rival, Senator Barack Obama of Illinois.

A rudimentary rule of the English language, as the good Senator from New York surely knows, is that one should never split one's infinitives -- it's against the rules, betrays bad grammar, and it could very well confuse people as to what exactly are the rules of the game in this blasted campaign for the soul of the next generation of Americans, if not simply to put a new face to American imperialism.

"To totally obliterate them (Iranians)" breaks this crucial rule of the English language, splits the infinitive of "to obliterate" into half, and inserts the powerful incentive of "totally"-- not just partially, as in, perhaps, to blow into smithereens just thirty or forty million Iranians, but seventy million plus human beings.

Read the rest ...

This time in the North

This time, the environmental art festival ventures into the lush green of the Caspian region.

Lovely "installations"!

What is the Bush Administration after, really?

I am looking from the corner of my eye at the new saber rattlings against Iran, and I am totally baffled what the objective of the recent undiplomatic Western behavior is.

Here are some interesting views:

Us Misses Iran Opportunity
Dr Kaveh Esfandiari argues that in the light of Iran's recent contribution to de-escalating the tension between the Iraqi government and the shiite militia; the US has the best opportunity to resume direct talks with Iran. Instead, Bush is travelling to Egypt and Jordan to offer them candy and seek their alliance against Iran; thus raising the oil prices; locking Us out of nuclear negotiations; and most importantly diverting the world's attention from Israel's activities in the west bank.

IRAN: Can P5+1 Offer Break the Nuclear Stalemate?
Dr. Trita Parsi (the author of the award winning Treacherous Alliance: The secret dealings of Israel, Iran and the US) explains why the so called diplomacy of the "secret incentive package" offered by the P5+1 group is doomed to fail: First, because it is happening amidst an escalation of rhetoric between Washington and Tehran over allegations of Iranian meddling in Iraq, although Americans have officially retracted from these accusations. Second, because Iran has learned a lesson from previous negotiations that the security council does not keep their end of the bargain; and show little appreciation for inches given away by Iran. Parsi refers to the statements of several diplomats and politicians who regard this new pretense of diplomacy rather pessimistically, and blame Washington's behavior for the nuclear deadlock with Iran.

Iraq: The elusive Iranian Weapons
the LA Times correspondent Tina Susman in Baghdad: "A plan to show some alleged Iranian-supplied explosives to journalists last week in Karbala and then destroy them was cancelled after the United States realized none of them was from Iran. A U.S. military spokesman attributed the confusion to a misunderstanding that emerged after an Iraqi Army general in Karbala erroneously reported the items were of Iranian origin. When U.S. explosives experts went to investigate, they discovered they were not Iranian after all." These allegations, together with Iran protesting to US's killing innocent civilians in Basra, has further deadlocked the chance of negotiations over Iraq security.

Something tells me that not only should the Bush administration be taken to the Hague for crimes against humanity; but they should also be tried in the US for treason!