Archive for October, 2022

Iran: Historical Context and Latest Developments

Monday, October 31st, 2022

[On October 21, 2022, the Middle East Policy Council held a panel discussion on Iran moderated by retired Ambassador Richard J. Schmierer. The following is a summary of highlights and not intended as a transcript of the event]:

Ms. Barbara Slavin, Director, Future of Iran Initiative, Atlantic Council.

When she first went to Iran, shortly after the revolution that established the Islamic Republic, women said that the forced wearing of the headscarf was the least of their problems. What has changed is that the scarf has now become the symbol of all that is wrong with the regime.

Mr. Ali Alfoneh, Senior Fellow, The Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington.

The Iranian Revolution has been a modernizing force on Iran.  The problem is that it has not been willing to adapt to the modernization of society that its own policies have provoked. Education, especially of women, availability of not only television but satellite television and the Internet has changed social values and ambitions in ways the state is not willing tolerate let alone support. The regime is not on the verge of collapse, but it is on the verge of a fundamental change. The Revolutionary Guard has the ambition of becoming like the army in Pakistan, the custodian of the state. When the Revolutionary Guard reaches the conclusion that Mr. Khamenei is a liability rather than a source of legitimacy, a military dictatorship that doesn’t care that much about religion may emerge.

Alex Vatanka, Director of Iran Program, Middle East Institute.

Observers do not know if this is the end of the regime, but it has become clear that the Islamic Republic can no longer (if it ever could) reform itself. Iranians born in 2000-2010 are fearless. 70% of those arrested in the recent demonstrations are under 20. Iranian sociologists on Iranian TV are stating that the leading force turning young people away from Islam in Iran today is the regime.

Alfoneh. The killing of Mohandis in Iraq was a disaster for the ways that the loss of Solomeini was not for Iran because the Iranian military is so institutionalized, not so dependent on any single individual. The IRGC calculation is that without the JCPOA we will pursue a bomb and be like Pakistan. If there is a JCPOA it demands positive economic consequences.

Slavin. There has been a deal on the table since March, but whoever is in charge in Iran has not accepted it. This may be because they have no faith because the U.S. can’t be trusted to keep it, but that point is moot, because the taste for this deal is gone “wherever you look.”

Vatanka. I agree there is no  sign of a deal, but if the alleged drone sale is why there is no nuclear deal, the Iranians are losing much more in oil and gas sales than they are making in drone sales. It is evidence that IRGC is poor at long-term strategy.

Alfoneh. The IRGC calculation is that once you get a nuclear bomb you have a blank check. No one would dare to sanction you, as Pakistan remained unsanctioned even after it was found to be housing Osama bin Ladin.

Slavin, North Korea has a nuclear weapon but no blank check. It is one of the most heavily sanctioned places on earth. Before Iran got a bomb, the Isrealis may do something first.

Alfoneh. I am not aware of large scale Iranian deployment’s to Russia in support of the invasion of the Ukraine.

Vatanka. Support for Russia can only be justified as snub to the West. It does not serve Iranian national interests: it does not help the Iranian economy and there is no possible “Islamic” justification.

Mr. Richard Schmierer. What should the response of the West if the nuclear deal is not reinstated and Iran moves to pursue a nuclear weapon?

Slavin. Sanctions have already maxed out. There will probably be cyberattacks and attacks on Iranian scientists and nuclear facilities, although massive strikes may only press Iran to move faster. If they obtain nuclear weapons there would be a balance with the Israeli nuclear weapons in a kind of India-Pakistan situation where neither side could use them. One question is if JOCPOA is bot revived would Iran work more closely with Russia and China in the nuclear field. An alternative approach is to offer a trade of unfreezing some Iranian assets in exchange for a freeze on their nuclear development. Israeli strikes, even if supported by the U.S. would be a disaster.

Alfoneh. Iran’s nuclear program was started by the Shah and the Islamic Republic inherited it along with the Shah’s nuclear ambitions. Any successor to the current regime may inherit both, and if provided with economic means, may more effectively develop nuclear weapons. Nuclearization of Iran is the most likely outcome.

Vatanka. UAE already has a live nuclear project and the Saudis are moving in that direction. Iran must calculate the risks of regional proliferation. Unlike North Korea, Iran has a lively civil society and the risks of nuclearization to the population cannot be ignored. There are many inside the regime who, given a better alternative, would chose it.

Schmierer. When he was in Oman the Omanis were nervous even about the safety of Iran putting a nuclear generator on line. What are the prospects of reducing the Sunni-Shia tension in the region?

Slavin. With the perception that the U.S. is withdrawing from the region, the regional actors se the need to reduce tensions since no side can count on U.S. intervention. But if Iran goes for nuclear weapons, so will the Saudis.

Alfoneh. The regime feels threatened by Iran International television which is backed Israel and the Saudis and they might well bomb the Saudis soon as evidences by allusions made by Iran to the attacks on the Saudi oil facilities.

Slavin. Iran’s interests now are to survive and get what benefits it can from relations with Russia and China. A direct attack on the Saudis is not promising.

Alfoneh. Iran has found that bullying its neighbors had improved relations ion the past.

Vatanka. Iran has been rewarded by recklessness in the past has been rewarded, but a direct attack on Saudi Arabia can’t be counted on to have the same effect. The allegations of Saudi involvement in Iran International comes fro Iranian propaganda.

Schmierer. How should the West on react to the current protests?

Slavin. Biden has been doing a pretty good job, enabling tools to circumvent internet interference and avoiding direct intervention. Advocacy for reform without calling for foreign imposed regime change or direct foreign intervention. One thing that can be done is to kick Iran off the UN Women’s commission.

Vatanka. We need to focus on how to get people within the regime to see its bankruptcy and desert it. I see no sign of compromise on Khamenei’s part. We must start thinking about what we do the day after Khamenei leaves.

Schmierer. Are there forces at work that might allow Iran to evolve put the current morass into a better position.

Slavin. Iran already has somewhat democratic constitution If you get rid of the Supreme leader, the guardian council, and the council of experts, you have a baseline for post-Islamic Republic.

Alfaneh. If the regime in Iran develops into a military dictatorship, then within five to ten years we may see a successful move for democratization as Samuel Huntington outlined in The Third Wave of democracy.

Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, Ph.D.
Minaret of Freedom Institute

News and Analysis 10/30/22

Sunday, October 30th, 2022

If you are surprised that Israelis beat a child attending a pacifist school or gun down a construction worker en route to his job, then you don’t understand political Zionism:

Reprieve, a UK-based human rights charity, said injustice is not rectified by the return of the Pakistani businessman “to his family a frail old man, after being taken in the prime of his life”:

The notion of female agency eludes both the Iranian and Indian regimes:

Taking down an exhibit by a non-Palestinian that did incorporate antisemitic tropes didn’t stop critics from employing the IHRA definition of antisemitism to smear Palestinian artists:

Hindu victims say a trust headed by BJP leader Ranjeet Dandir tricked them into selling their lands by falsely claiming Muslims would be moving into the area:

“The damage was extensive, with concrete vaults for burials destroyed”:

“Despite the threat, student associations reported protests at dozens of universities across the country on Saturday, from the capital of Tehran to the central cities of Isfahan and Yazd”:

News and Analysis 10/28/22

Friday, October 28th, 2022

Israel’s murderous siege of Nablus continues as raids spread across the West Bank:

The “Delhi Development Authority (DDA) along with large number of police force demolished over two dozen houses without any prior notice” while the Muslims residents were at prayers:

“UN experts … called on the Human Rights Council to urgently take action, including by establishing an international mechanism on Iran during a special session”:

In Biden’s eyes, settler colonialism and apartheid are cherished American values:

The The Punjab and Haryana High Court has defended the agency of Muslim women, refusing to allow the state to overrule a young woman’s decision to marry of her own free will:

“Israel and its supporters have stopped responding to the substance of the carefully documented reports on alleged violations, and concentrated their energies on allegations of UN antisemitism“:

“Turkmenistan has ignored repeated international calls … to introduce a genuine civilian alternative to compulsory military service [and] to stop prosecuting and punishing conscientious objectors”:

News and Analysis 10/25/22

Tuesday, October 25th, 2022

The AKP continues its inflationary policies despite adverse effects that include  contributing to a medical brain drain:

Biden remains silent in the face of  “more than 100 ‘nationalist crimes’ have been committed by large numbers of settlers … against West Bank Palestinians” in just ten days …

… and navy attacks on peaceful fishermen despite “international guaranteed Palestinian- Israeli agreements, [allowing them] to fish in within 4 to 6 nautical miles off shore” …

… as well as police threats to shoot sports paramedics who sought to provide a teenager “shot and injured” by the IDF with first aid, followed by the arrest of his father and brother two hours later …

… and the continued firing of “live and rubber-coated metal bullets, as well as tear gas canisters, at the Palestinians”:

The “Oslo-based group Iran Human Rights said Thursday that at least 27 children have been killed” in the demonstrations:

Shatha Hammad if the most recent victim of the Zionist’s smear campaign against journalists exposing the crimes of the apartheid regime:

“In July 2008, Constitutional Court knocked down an attempt by Erdogan’s ruling AK party to lift the headscarf ban at universities on the grounds that it was anti-secular”:

“[R]elatives of those who drowned held the Palestinian officials and Israel directly responsible for the deadly incident”:

One woman “was stirred to action when her six-year-old son was scolded in school for saying ‘oh God’ after falling down in school” and a man protested “letting 10-year-olds read books that detail sexual acts”:

“I chose to dress like this and I wanted other Muslim women to know it’s still possible to do things in the modern day with modesty and class. …  [It’s about] how you represent yourself”:

News and Analysis 10/23/22

Sunday, October 23rd, 2022

Israeli Occupation policies are turning Palestinians into cave men:

“[U]nder the Oslo Accords these types of decisions should be under the purview of the Palestinian Authority”:

Israel delays round-the-clock opening of the Allenby bridge for the second time since PM “Lapid promised … Joe Biden in July that he would expand the hours of operation”:

The “head of the International Press Institute’s Turkey branch said the bill ‘criminalizes what the authorities call disinformation without defining what that actually means'”:

When “nine student groups at the [Berkeley] law school … agreed not to lend platforms to Zionist speakers,” Zionists falsely claimed “Berkeley Law students … were attempting to establish ‘Jewish free’ zones”:

Some French mayors “think that secularism means making Muslim and Jewish children either eat pork or go hungry“:

“The civil rights group says the law is in conflict with a 40-year-old supreme court ruling that boycotts are protected speech”:

“[W]atching television does not equate to social justice, [but] it feels like a tide has turned”:

News and Analysis 10/21/22

Friday, October 21st, 2022

“Israeli Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi did not publicly express interest in any of” the over 100 attacks on Palestinians, but rushed out a condemnation “after Jewish settlers attacked an army unit this week” …

… and a “teen’s death was announced as Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank began a one-day general strike and called for confrontations with Israeli forces”:

The BJP’s contempt for the rule of law threatens everyone, not just Muslims:

Ya’acov Shimshon Shapiro (later Israel’s Attorney General and Minister of Justice) … said there were … ‘no such laws even in Nazi Germany'” but in 1948 Israel adopted the very same laws:

The founder of Kashmir’s first digital magazine is the victim of the frequent “[a]ccusations of terrorism and repeat arrests … [against] Kashmiri journalists”:

“It is now clear that everyone is going to benefit from the natural gas off the coast of Gaza except those who probably need it the most: the Palestinians” of Gaza:

The plea charges ‘[o]pen participation by members of the ruling political part” in public speeches that “openly call for genocide of Muslims”:

“Authorities have not commented on the death of the teenager in Mashhad” whose father asks, “What crime had he committed, that you sprayed his stomach with 24 birdshot?”:

The former Cat Stevens said he is inspired by “See What Love Did to Me, ” a poem “by Turkish poet and great mystic teacher Yunus Emre … [that] teaches you how to love forever”:

Is it a political maneuver, or a return to normalcy?

News and Analysis 10/17/22

Monday, October 17th, 2022

“Police also prevented the entry of Muslims under 50 years of age into their holy site while forcing the younger ones, who were already inside the walled compound, to leave”:

The convert to Islam was told he was put on the No Fly List he “participated in training that may make you a threat to U.S. national security,” namely, he served in the U.S. Air Force:

“That is the highest number in over a decade and among those detained include children, say the rights organisations”:

Criticizing the government won’t necessarily get you detention, but “filming an Afghan woman giving birth, deep dives into sexual preferences, or simply working in-country without” permission will:

“An Israeli sharpshooter shot Dr. Abdullah Al-Ahmad, 43, in the head as he tried to provide medical treatment to another injured Palestinian”:

Eight deaths are reported in a fire that “Iran’s top judge … blamed … on ‘agents of Iran’s enemy’, while the foreign ministry said such an event could have happened in any country”:

“Had the Palestinians openly celebrated blowing up a bridge, and killed Israeli civilians, who can really imagine western media reports being similarly supportive?”

No longer following Trump’s lead, Australia will not move its embassy

“[R]umors and testimonies … about Jewish troops sent to poison wells in Arab villages … [are now supported] by official documentation of the ‘Cast Thy Bread’ operation”:

News and Analysis 10/15/22

Saturday, October 15th, 2022

Justice Gupta was concerned by the “divergent opinion” as to whether the headscarf is mandated by Islam, but Justice Dhulia denied need for the court to decide what should be a matter of choice for the student:

PEN America and members of the international theater community have joined Palestine’s cultural minister in condemning the illegal arrest and six months detention on undisclosed charges:

“Hamas, Fatah and 12 other Palestinian groups agree to hold legislative and presidential elections within one year” but Palestinians in the land are skeptical of “any concrete changes”:

“Against all odds, Nahdlatul Ulama … envisions its Humanitarian Islam philosophy rubbing off on the [Muslim World] League as a result of cooperation with the Indonesian group”:

In 20 minutes rampaging Israeli settlers “managed to set fire to dozens of olive trees and totally destroy the windows and body of three cars”:

The Nigerian military has not yet commented on speculation that they killed Boko Haram’s leader during a gun duel:

“Professor Rashid Khalidi explains how the British violently repressed Palestinians resisting colonization, and how colonial practices shape Israel’s policies today”:

Israel is introducing assassins as role models for American audiences:

News and Analysis 10/12/22

Wednesday, October 12th, 2022

One protester was shot in the leg, another in the eye:

Iran’s Education Minister admits that students protesting the death of Mahsa Amini when she was forced into a “reeducation center” are themselves being forced into reeducation centers:

It also demonstrates how easy it is for government to use wrongful conviction as a tool for targeting Muslims and other feared minorities:

A “loose coalition of Palestinian fighters” calling themselves the Lions’ Den has killed two occupying soldiers, giving Israel an excuse for what Palestinians call “collective punishment” …

… prompting a Palestinian strike:

“On top of Iran’s restrictions, some tech sanctions make it harder for protesters to organize and share information online”:

Fatah demands Hamas “accept the International Quartet’s decisions and [recognize] that the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) is the only representative of the Palestinian people”:

“[T]he US and Turkey get it right in allowing women to dress as they please, and that Iran and France are both wrong to dictate, the former mandating veiling and the latter forbidding it”:

News and Analysis 10/10/22

Monday, October 10th, 2022

Palestinians charge settlers burn books with impunity under Israeli Army control:

Notwithstanding his attacks on protestors, Khamenei may be the first  “cleric of the Islamic Republic [to] say that poorly veiled women” could be valued citizens:

The Palestinian girl whose encounter standing up to an Israeli soldier went viral when she was falsely painted as a Ukrainian child standing up to a Russian soldier speaks:

“Authorities closed all schools and higher education facilities in Iranian Kurdistan on Sunday, in an apparent effort to quell unrest”:

Meta “allows Ukrainians to freely praise the neo-Nazi Azov Regiment as a force for self-defence — [but] no such conflict-sensitive exceptions have ever been made for Palestinians”:

Erfan, a Peshmerga militant denies stories that his cousin Mahsa was colluding with him against the regime and accuses the government of preventing other family members from speaking out:

Israeli violence continues unabated: