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The Israeli Right and Hamas vs PLO conflict

By: Meir Javedanfar


The recent decision by Hamas to break off talks with the PLO can be a prelude to renewed conflict in this region.

Hamas says that its decision is based on PLO’s arrest of Hamas members in the West Bank.

Meanwhile, the PLO says that the individuals in question were arrested because they took part in criminal activity and not because of their political point of view.

One can not help but wonder whether the new tensions between them is part of a bigger power struggle between Iran and Syria on one side, and Egypt and Saudi Arabia on the other. Both Tehran and Damascus feel isolated. Hamas walking out of the talks could be one way to boost their position and leverage.

What does this mean for Obama? For his sake, and for the sake of Israeli left, one should hope that Hamas and PLO get back to the negotiation table, and find a solution. Otherwise, further division between Palestinian factions could lead to renewed attacks against Israel, by Hamas. This in turn would justify an Israeli response, thus leading to more tension. This would provide a noticeable boost to Likud’s chances of reelection.

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Posted on : Nov 11 2008
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Posted under Palestine, Uncategorized |

Deconstructing Obama in Tehran

From PJM Media

By: Meir Javedanfar


Iranian President Ahmadinejad has great admiration for his own fortune-telling capabilities. For years, he hasBarack Obama been making all kinds of predictions. Among his most famous are the destruction of Israel and the end of the “U.S. empire.”

In March 2008, he made another prediction.

They would not allow Obama to become the U.S. president,” declared the Iranian president confidently in an interview with the Spanish newspaper El Pais.

This new failure in his clairvoyance has probably disappointed the president.

Nevertheless, he took the time to congratulate the man he thought would never become president by saying, “Tehran welcomes basic and fair changes in U.S. policies and conducts.” He added what is obviously his idea of helpful advice: ”I hope you will prefer real public interests and justice to the never-ending demands of a selfish minority and seize the opportunity to serve people so that you will be remembered with high esteem.”

Despite this message, the conservative hard-line camp in Iran is worried about the overwhelming enthusiasm and support for the U.S. that Obama’s election has created around the world. A popular American president who talks about peace and wants to negotiate with Iran would take away their justification for leading the anti-American front in the Middle East. Furthermore, increased international support and credibility for the United States represents a more serious challenge to Iran, especially if the international community initiates new sanctions against Tehran. All this while oil prices are falling.

This is why efforts are already efforts underway in the Iranian press to tarnish Obama’s image.

A hawk in a dove’s outfit” is the way the right-wing newspaper Keyhan described Obama in a front page article the day after his election.

While describing Obama’s victory and America’s electoral system, the article puts special emphasis on what it calls “Obama’s praise of America’s actions in Afghanistan, and George Bush Sr.’s war in Iraq.” It goes on to say, “Obama also has never been peace seeking.”

Jomhuriye Eslami, another right-wing newspaper, went a step further. “That Black Man Will Never Change U.S. Policy” was the headline of its editorial. It went on to say that despite Obama’s victory, U.S. policy will remain the same because of “the structure of the American regime, which was established by capitalists, Zionists, and racists.” In other words, Obama’s victory won’t change the fact that, to Iran’s leadership, America remains a racist state controlled by Israel.

More important to note is that the leading protagonist in the media assault against Obama seems to be Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. Keyhan and Jomhuriye Eslami are the two newspapers closest to him. This is a strong indication of how worried Iran’s leadership is.

However, not all parties and individuals in Iran see Obama as a threat. The reformists in Iran take a very different view than the hard-liners, as indicated by Ebrahim Yazdi, the secretary-general of the Freedom Movement of Iran. He sees Obama’s election not as a threat but as an opportunity. In an exclusive interview with the Tehran-based IR Diplomacy publication, Yazdi called on Iran’s foreign policy establishment to declare openly that “Iran is prepared to negotiate unconditionally with America over issues such as current disputes in the Middle East, and bilateral differences.” Yazdi went on to say, “If the government of Iran undertakes such an initiative, it would be positive for relations between Tehran and Washington, and the international community as a whole”.

Even moderate conservatives in Iran seem to be willing to give Obama a chance. Tabnak news, a leading moderate conservative news agency in Iran, published a piece which quoted a U.S. soldier telling CNN that Obama is “an angel rescuing (America) from hell.” Meanwhile, the deputy head of the Majles, Mohammad Hassan Abu Tarabi, said that he hoped that “Obama can learn from Bush’s failed policies, especially in the Middle East, and try to reform U.S. behavior.”

Obama’s election has even been used for satirical purposes. In one spoof report by Shahab News, which is close to Ayatollah Rafsanjani, it was reported that former Iranian presidential candidate Ayatollah Karrubi had contacted Obama on the night of the election, telling him “not to sleep a wink.” Karrubi’s “suggestion” was based on his own bitter experience. On the night of the Iranian presidential elections of 2005, he was leading Ahmadinejad before he went to sleep. By the time he woke up, Ahmadinejad had beaten him. Karrubi believes that his victory was jinxed by his sleep. He didn’t want the same to happen to Obama, and that’s why he supposedly contacted him.

The most intriguing reaction to Obama’s victory in Iran was reported by the Saudi-based Al Arabiya. In a report, this news outlet said that some Iranian officials had interpreted Obama’s election as as a sign of the arrival of the Mahdi. This is because Obama’s first name, Barack, means blessing and his second name, Hussein, is the name of the third Shiite imam who Iranians revere. The Saudi channel refused to reveal the name of the Iranian website on which its reports were based.

This raised many eyebrows in Iran, as Al Arabiya had recently been expelled from Tehran. Perhaps the Saudis were getting even with the Iranians, or were following in the footsteps of Shahab News by producing their own spoof report. In any case, its Iranian audience is not impressed by Obama’s spiritual credentials. Nor are Iran’s decision makers. In the meantime, they will keep busy worrying about a U.S. military attack until the last second of Bush’s term in office.

After the recent U.S. attack against Syria, they are worried that Bush may do the same to them. Iran issued its own warning to the U.S. against any invasion plans. They hope it will act as a deterrence. The rest is up to the U.S. — and soon, Barack Obama.

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Posted on : Nov 07 2008
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Posted under Iran-Foreign Policy |

More motions of no confidence being considered

By: Meir Javedanfar


It looks like the removal of Kordan has watered the taste buds of Majles members for more motions of no confidence against ministers serving in the Ahmadinejad government.

The ministers who are being considered are:

  1. The Minister of Education

  2. Minister of Industry

  3. Minister of Jihad Agriculture

  4. Minister of Communication

According to Asr Iran, if one more minister is removed by motion of no confidence, then all ministers serving in the government will have to be brought before the Majles.

This is in line with article 136 of Iranian constitution, which states that if half the ministers serving in the government have been changed for any reason (be it sacking by the president or by the Majles), then all serving ministers will have to brought in front of the Majles again to seek approval for the continuation of their term.

Therefore the removal of one more minister stands before continuation or a very embarrassing and damaging defeat for Ahmadinejad’s presidency.

Will the Majles members have mercy on Ahmadinejad? That depends on what Ayatollah Khamenei tells them, and what Ahmadinejad will promise them.

Posted on : Nov 05 2008
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Posted under Iran- Elections |

4th of November Will Be An Unforgettable Day For Ahmadinejad

By: Meir Javedanfar


Tuesday 4th of November will be remembered as a very important day in American politics.

By the look of things, it will also be an important day for Iranian politics, for a very different reason.Ali Kordan

Dr Ali Kordan, who is the Minister of Interior will be brought before the Majles for a motion of no confidence.

The Majles members embarked on this initiative, because it was discovered that Ali Kordan lied about his honorary PhD, which he said he had received from Oxford. After some investigative work by the Tehran based Alef News, it was discovered that his certificate was false. It even contained ridiculous spelling mistakes. Kordan first denied it and insisted that he is a real PhD. To contain the damage caused, he blocked Alef News’s website, so that the news doesn’t spread. It was too late.

When Oxford University denied having knowledge about him or his PhD, Kordan then changed his story, and said he was “duped”. This infuriated many members of the Majles, and the Iranian public.

As soon as some members of the Majles started the process of bringing Kordan for a motion of no confidence, they were bombarded with phone calls, by persons who tried to change their mind.

Things got even more interesting when some Majles members were offered 5 million Toman, (equivalent to appx $5000) for their local “mosque” (politically correct way of saying your own private bank account), on the condition that they withdrew their signature. To their credit, the signatories refused. Therefore on Tuesday 4th of November Kordan will stand before the parliament.

Ahmadinejad championed the anti-corruption drive in Iran. However, instead of sacking Kordan, he is standing fully by his side. So much so that he has refused to go to the Majles on that day, because he is against the proceedings.

When it comes to Ahmadinejad’s standing, it will be irrelevant if Kordan stays or goes. His public support for Kordan has already damaged his name, even with the Supreme Leader. Judging by a recent report in the Keyhan newspaper, whose editor Shariatmadar is close to the Supeme Leader, Khamenei is not pleased by the fact that Ahmadineajd has publicly declared that the Supreme Leader had fully backed Kordan. Even Khamenei is distancing himself from the Kordan affair. President Ahmadinejad would have been well advised to do the same.

The question on everyone’s lips will be: will this affair damage Ahmadinejad’s chances of being reelected? I would say that despite the damage, this affair is probably not a mortal blow. Where Ahmadinejad will feel the greatest loss will be amongst his own conservative supporters, who will now be even more divided.

Tuesday 4th of November will be an unforgettable day for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He will fear Kordan being removed and Barack Obama being elected as US president. A credible US president who wants to talk to Iran, instead of singing songs about bombing it, is not in the interest of Iranian conservatives. Calling the US a warmonger is one of the few battle cries they have left.

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Posted on : Nov 03 2008
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Posted under Iran- Elections |