Associating with anyone from the West is dangerous

Associating with anyone from the West is dangerous

Associating with anyone from the West is dangerous. In these times, those abroad play a delicate but vital role. Their assistance in disseminating information from Iran is crucial but any form of intervention, be it military (the bombing of nuclear facilities) or economic (increased sanctions), is only incredibly destructive. Each threat of military aggression or proposed negotiation deadline makes “green” efforts more difficult. And increased economic sanction deteriorates our lives and safety. Some think the two recent airplane crashes may have been affected by our country’s lack of access to parts and planes.

This is our movement. We appreciate and continue to ask for global solidarity but this struggle is for Iranians. I believe that Nobel Peace Price laureate Shireen Ebadi’s statements echo the wider sentiments of the Iranian people. While speaking in Germany, she stated: “I am against economic sanctions and military interventions… Diplomatic ties must not be severed, instead the embassies could be downgraded to consulates. This would not harm the Iranian people, but it would illustrate the government’s isolation.” Keeping the table open with no conditions and encouraging dialogue with all factions in Iran is vital. However, it must be done extremely carefully so as not to provide any means of leverage for Ahmadinejad. [continued…]

Strong words from Iran’s opposition

The Iranian opposition leader Mir Hussein Moussavi spoke out more strongly than ever before on Monday against the arrests and killings of protesters, hours before Iran’s supreme leader ordered the closing of a “nonstandard” prison apparently in an effort to deflect rising criticism over the issue.

“How can it be that the leaders of our country do not cry out and shed tears about these tragedies?” Mr. Moussavi said, in comments to a teachers’ association that were posted on his Web site. “Can they not see it, feel it? These things are blackening our country, blackening all our hearts. If we remain silent, it will destroy us all and take us to hell.”

Mr. Moussavi’s angry tone appeared to reflect the steadily rising toll of those killed — some after being beaten in prison — in the crackdown that followed the disputed June 12 presidential election. A funeral was held in Tehran on Monday for Amir Javadi-Far, a student activist who died in prison after being arrested, and reports emerged of still more deaths. [continued…]

Iran’s protesters: phase 2 of their feisty campaign

Phase 2 has begun. Six weeks after millions took to the streets to protest Iran’s presidential election, their uprising has morphed into a feistier, more imaginative and potentially enduring campaign.

The second phase plays out in a boycott of goods advertised on state-controlled television. Just try buying a certain brand of dairy product, an Iranian human-rights activist told me, and the person behind you in line is likely to whisper, “Don’t buy that. It’s from an advertiser.” It includes calls to switch on every electric appliance in the house just before the evening TV news to trip up Tehran’s grid. It features quickie “blitz” street demonstrations, lasting just long enough to chant “Death to the dictator!” several times but short enough to evade security forces. It involves identifying paramilitary Basij vigilantes linked to the crackdown and putting marks in green — the opposition color — or pictures of protest victims in front of their homes. It is scribbled antiregime slogans on money. And it is defiant drivers honking horns, flashing headlights and waving V signs at security forces. (See pictures of Iran’s presidential election and its turbulent aftermath.)

The tactics are unorganized, largely leaderless and only just beginning. They spread by e-mail, websites and word of mouth. But their variety and scope indicate that Iran’s uprising is not a passing phenomenon like the student protests of 1999, which were quickly quashed. This time, Iranians are rising above their fears. Although embryonic, today’s public resolve is reminiscent of civil disobedience in colonial India before independence or in the American Deep South in the 1960s. Mohandas Gandhi once mused that “even the most powerful cannot rule without the cooperation of the ruled.” That quotation is now popular on Iranian websites. [continued…]

Gates says U.S. overture to Iran is ‘not open-ended’

Strains between the United States and Israel surfaced publicly in Jerusalem on Monday, as Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates tried to reassure Israelis that American overtures to Iran were not open-ended, and as Defense Minister Ehud Barak of Israel expressed impatience with the Americans for wanting to engage Iran at all.

“I don’t think that it makes any sense at this stage to talk a lot about it,” Mr. Barak said at a joint news conference with Mr. Gates at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, referring to the American offer to talk to Iran about giving up its nuclear program. Nonetheless, he said Israel was in no position to tell the United States what to do.

But, alluding to a potential Israeli military strike against Iran if it gains nuclear weapons capability, he added: “We clearly believe that no options should be removed from the table. This is our policy, we mean it, we recommend to others to take the same position, but we cannot dictate to anyone.”

Later, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Mr. Gates, and his office released a statement saying that he had pressed Mr. Gates on the need to use “all means” to keep Iran from gaining a nuclear weapon. [continued…]

Russia and Iran join hands

The United States may think of Russia as a strategic partner when it comes to Iran. In reality, the geostrategic tensions between Washington and Moscow are still powerful enough to warrant a common approach by Russia and its eastern neighbor Iran with respect to a deterrent strategy towards the intrusive Western superpower.

This week, a small but significant clue is on full display with joint Russia-Iran military exercises in the Caspian Sea involving some 30 vessels. This is partially disguised by a benign environmental cause.

The maneuver, dubbed “Regional Collaboration for a Secure and Clean Caspian”, combines security and maritime objectives in the Caspian Sea, the world’s largest lake and also a main energy hub that is now the scene of competing alternatives for energy transfer. It signals a new trend in Iran-Russia military cooperation that will most likely increase in the near and intermediate future in light of Iran’s observer status at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. The continuing standoff over Iran’s nuclear program should affect this warming of relations. [continued…]

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