Window on Iran Part 21
I would like to start by introducing you to the web site of a very informative independent campaign, CASMII (Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran). This campaign is run by Nader Sadeqi, an Iranian American Professor of Surgery at George Washington University! Thank you Dr. Sadeqi! Do visit CASMII’s web site at http://www.campaigniran.org/
Sunday times has the wonderful news that American military officials at the very top may in fact be far more cautious and unwilling to start a new disaster in the region by attacking Iran. According to this article as many as five top U.S. Army officials “will quit” if the President orders an attack on Iran. To directly quote: “General Peter Pace, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, said recently there was “zero chance” of a war with Iran. He played down claims by US intelligence that the Iranian government was responsible for supplying insurgents in Iraq, forcing Bush on the defensive. Pace’s view was backed by the British intelligence officials who said the extent of the Iranian government’s involvement in activities inside Iraq by a small number of Revolutionary Guards was “far from clear”. General Peter Pace’s repudiation of the administration’s claims is viewed as a sign of grave discontent at the top. For the full essay please go to http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/iraq/article1434540.ece (thank you Adam Shriver for sending this link).
General Pace’s refusal to blame Iran for resurgency in Iraq is based on his knowledge of facts on the ground. On February 19, an attack on an American outpost in Northern Iraq left at least two soldiers dead and 17 wounded. This attack, followed by gun battle, was described by Iraqi and American officials as the work of “Sunni millitants, most probably al-Qaeda.” http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/20/world/middleeast/20iraq.html?_r=1&th&emc=th&oref=slogin What is the relevance of this to Iran? Quite a bit. Iran is one of few places in the region where al-Qaeda members face arrest and cannot operate. In fact, two such members were arrested trying to pass through Iran less than two weeks ago. An America-Iran military confrontation would be a gift to al-Qaeda.
Another story that you don’t hear often is that although Iran refuses unconditional halting of unranium enrichment, it calls almost on a daily basis for direct negotiation with the U.S. and is prepared to put enrichment suspension on the table. Here are two articles in the Iranian papers (in Persian) quoting top Iranian officials on the subject: http://www.isna.ir/Main/NewsView.aspx?ID=News-883808&Lang=P and http://mizannews.com/default.asp?nid=1020
CASMII, which I introduced to you in this Window, has reported this morning “evidence of US coercion of Members of IAEA against Iran revealed.” http://www.campaigniran.org/casmii/index.php?q=node/1456
As papers here in the U.S. make much of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s negative report on Iran’s nuclear activity transgressions, news agencies in Europe are reporting intelligence falsification on the part of the U.S. to incriminate Iran, an ominous attempt reminiscent of the intelligence fiasco surrounding Iraq prior to the war: http://www.theage.com.au/news/world/us-intelligence-on-iran-proves-unfounded/2007/02/23/1171734021636.html The Guardian front page story echoes the news: http://www.guardian.co.uk/frontpage/story/0,,2019666,00.html
Social: Challenge to the Iranian President
Papers in Iran reported a challenge by an Iranian nuclear physicist to the Iranian president Ahmadinejad. Professor Shirazad said in an interview that Ahmadinejad’s views on the necessity of nuclear technology for Iran was as “uninformed” as his views about the magnitude of the Holocaust. Shirzad’s invitation to a public debate is unlikely to be accepted by the Iranian President but the fact that the interview makes it to the front page in Iran is good news: (sorry, Persian source again) http://www.roozna.com/Negaresh_site/FullStory/?Id=31969
Time for a nice colorful break from political matters. A friend, Mazdak Khajehpour, recently sent me the address to the Iranian Institute of Advanced Studies in Basic Sciences : http://www.iasbs.ac.ir/ I hope to be able to utilize this site for information about science and technology in Iran. My first visit to the site yielded visually delightful information. A collection of slides of flowers that grow in Iran. If you are a plant biologist, I am sure you will have your scientific curiosity. If not just enjoy. There are about 70 slides with a 4 seconds transition time. Click on the powerpoint attachment, then on view, then on slide show.
A majority world opinion shows skepticism about a “clash of civilizations” leading to violent conflict between Islam and the West, according to findings of a poll published Monday. Pollsters questioned about 28,000 people in 27 different countries, including the U.S., Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China, India, Brazil, Mexico and Australia; as well as four predominantly Muslim countries: Egypt, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and Indonesia; and two countries with large Muslim populations: Lebanon and Nigeria. http://rawstory.com/showarticle.php?src=http%3A%2F%2Fapnews.myway.com%2Farticle%2F20070219%2FD8NCERSG0.html
In an essay called “Iran: the Day After,” Phyllis Bennis looks at what a horrendous situation we would be facing on the hypothetical day after the U.S. makes such an erronious move: http://www.commondreams.org/views06/0419-23.htm
Fatemeh Keshavarz, Professor and Chair
Dept. of Asian and Near Eastern Languages and Literatures
Washington University in St. Louis