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Iranian blogosphere reacts to Obama's Peace Prize


11 Oct 2009 22:3714 Comments
18467-3-9-10-09.jpg[ dispatch ] Outside of the United States, the news that U.S. President Barack Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize resonated perhaps most strongly with Iranians.

The traditional anti-US groups in Iran, who view any event as an enemy conspiracy toward their country, this time too declared the granting of the award a political move, for what they called "covering up American complicity in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Gaza."

"Obama pledged to close Guantanamo in three months -- so why are the doors still open?" said Roshan. "He promised to withdraw troops from Iraq -- instead the military bases were just relocated outside of Iraqi cities. He added a surge in the hell that is Afghanistan. Obama also maintained an ugly silence about the women and children massacred in Gaza. Is this the resume of a defender of peace?"

But Obama's Nobel weighed more critically with the Iranian opposition.

Most Iranians appeared to favor improved relations with the world prior to June's tainted election. But judging from an exhaustive reading of the Iranian blogosphere in reaction to President Obama's win, the mood has shifted. After facing off with Iran's hardline government in mass protests, and witnessing scores of their compatriots killed or arrested, tortured and raped in detention, refusal to recognize the legitimacy of Iran's current government was the minimum support many Iranians looked to from other countries.

Out of 155 comments posted on Mir Hossein Mousavi's official Facebook page in response to the subject of Obama's Nobel, the majority of views were negative, given Obama's stance on events in Iran and his engagement policy with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

"I'm sorry that a president who only 'watches' the atrocities in Iran, and shakes hands with the coup government, should win a Nobel," writes Nastaran.

"Why Obama?" asks Aftab. "He is best serving the interests of Wall Street. And his State Department just cut off funding for Iranian human rights activists!"

Weak legitimacy on the domestic front is in fact one reason that the Iranian government now seeks to engage with the international community. It seems that Barack Obama, who demonstrated on numerous occasions over the past year his resolve to improve ties with Tehran (and wrote a letter to Iran's Supreme Leader for this purpose), is not one to pass up the opportunity.

The awarding of the Nobel to Obama has raised a specific concern among the Iranian opposition: Will it prevent the US from stepping up pressure on Iran's government?

Interestingly, Iranian officials did not voice serious reactions to the news, contrary to custom. Only foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki noted that the honor may have come "too early" for Obama. In other words, if Obama continues along the line he is currently treading with the Ahmadinejad administration, Iran's government is likely to champion him as meriting the prize.

A large part of the opposition believes that this year's Peace Prize belonged to a figure symbolizing Iran's Green Movement, such as Neda Aga Soltan (the young woman shot down in protests) or Mehdi Karroubi (a presidential candidate who bravely disclosed sexual abuse in Iranian prisons). This notion did not escape Obama himself, who referred to Neda without mentioning her name in professing to share the award with "the young woman who marches silently in the streets on behalf of her right to be heard even in the face of beatings and bullets."

These words gladdened many Iranians -- yet others took the omission of Neda's name as a sign that Obama is still pursuing détente with Iran's current regime.

"Did he really mean Neda? Then why is he shaking hands with Ahmadinejad?" scolded Shahin.

"Your president is really good and we like him," a blogger going by the name of "Mr. Chocolate" wrote on FriendFeed in response to "Joe," "but [the] Nobel prize wasn't his right, it was Mehdi Karrobi's right!"

Some of the Iranian opposition did support the Norwegian committee's choice and consider it an overall advantage for the people of Iran. They agree with what Obama said in his speech -- that the award was granted not for his actions so far as president, but for the peaceful goals he envisioned and his executive potential as the President of the United States. Some thus view Obama's laureateship as an "ethical tightrope," pressuring him to deliver on his promises of global peace and to prevent war between two countries.

"This great man deserved this great prize. We should not judge exclusively in the context of US-Iran relations!" wrote Banafshe.

Iranians fear that a military strike would further entrench a security climate in Iran and furnish an excuse for the government to purge its political opponents as ruthlessly as it did in the 1980s.

Whether they approve or disapprove of the news, a point that regularly emerges in conversations with many Iranians is their belief that Iran -- perhaps as a perceived threat to global peace -- played a role in securing Obama's Nobel prize.

Copyright © 2009 Tehran Bureau

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This Noble prize belonged to all the people of Iran who died with their bullets, were imprisoned, were beaten in the streets, died under tortures, went to the rooftops, protested at every chance and are protesting in the universities , etc. They were and are very brave and stayed peaceful throughout.

There are different theories out there on why Obama received the Noble Prize but it was extremely premature. I hope Obama keeps his end of the bargain. I haven't seen much in the last 9 months of his presidency. He is a great speaker and we saw that in Eygpt but only actions matter and nothing else.

MM / October 12, 2009 1:11 AM

Good post!!! Thank you!

qutequte / October 12, 2009 1:43 AM

Is Tehran Bureau an "Opposition" website? I ask that, because all the views are oppositional in nature, and I've yet to see a view represented of the establishment.

You know, there are views on the Iranian blogosphere that are pro-establishment. Some are quite visible, and some are in Farsi.

Judging the Iranian political temperature predominantly through the Mousavi facebook site is definitely going to skew your perceptions of the larger Iranian whole, even in the diaspora.

Tehran Bureau is now attached to PBS Frontline. In all the Frontline pieces I've ever seen, all sides of a story are represented. I suggest Tehran Bureau do the same, even if its just the minimum.

Otherwise, be truthful and formally declare you're a "Opposition" website, and we'll know to expect that views associated with the Iranian establishment are officially shut out of your online publication.

Myself, I am a political moderate. I retain an open mind, so I require an even account of what's going on. I guess that's what I'm really asking for here- even handed editorial content, if only at a minimum.

Pirouz / October 12, 2009 5:37 AM

I guess mentioning the name of Neda or the innocent Iranians' plight for Obama would have cost him ... well, would have cost him NOTHING. It is tragic to witness how human rights, murder, torture, rape, and all sorts of crimes can be brushed aside for the sake of breaking a barrier (US-Iran dialogue)!!!

How flimsy this notion and how foolish we are to think the leaders of the free world would uphold basic and rudimentary slogans of human rights and freedom!!

Iranians will prevail, nonetheless. But at least, now they can rest easy not to rely on empty words and empty gestures from the west.

David / October 12, 2009 7:23 AM

DAMNED IF HE DOES AND DAMNED IF HE DOESN'T. Ahmaddinejad doesn't like Obama and the protesters don't either. WHAT WOULD YOU DO?

Dave / October 12, 2009 11:26 AM


Why is that after tragic terrorist attacks leading to many innocent American losses the US administration refuses to talk with the terrorists? Indeed, what are the reasons? Is it because of the principles, ethics, national pride, animosity, hatred, and so forth? We can easily assume that all these have a contributing factor. But, perhaps, the main reason is irrationality to talk to those who have no respect to the most basic notion of human life.

What about talking to Mr. Ahmadinejad after all that he and his government have been doing? Human rights violations of Iranian people at grand scale, electoral fraud at grand scale, barbaric treatment of the peaceful protesters, unlawful arrests, murder, and rape. What else is needed to denounce Mr. Ahmadinejad’s government? Should the body counts reach a certain figure?

Is this because Iranian blood is not RED? I would like to ask President Obama if he would still talk to Mr. Ahmadinejad if Neda and Sohrab, the two out of many young Iranians who were brutally killed by Mr. Ahmadinejad’s elements, were Americans? I don’t think so!

American people wouldn’t permit President Obama to do so with or without the “Nobel Peace Prize (NPP).”

With all the respect to President Obama who I generally support, I have a hard time to understand why he should be awarded the NPP!? What for? Perhaps, for winning the US Presidential election. Or perhaps for scrapping the European defense shield, which wasn’t a good idea after all.

There are other possibilities. Perhaps, President Obama was awarded the Nobel peace prize for "erasing the funds for Iran rights watchdog" or for talking with Mr. Ahmadinejad. The "Norwegian Nobel Committee (NNC)," which awards the NPP each year, is so out of touch that I wouldn’t be surprised if they awarded the NPP to Mr. Putin or Mr. Mugabe. This is not the first time that the NNC has got it wrong.

In 1994 the NNC awarded the NPP prematurely to Yasser Arafat, Yitzhak Rabin, and Shimon Peres “for their efforts to create peace to the Middle East.” Sadly, on 4th of November 1995, former Prime Minister of Israel Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated by Yigal Amir who was a fanatical Jewish Israeli opposed to the Oslo Accords.

Former chairman of the Palestinian authority Yasser Arafat died in November 2004 after a mysterious illness caused by an infection of unknown origin. Many have argued that Arafat had been poisoned. However, since the Oslo Peace Accords, current President of Israel Shimon Peres has not been able to make any significant contributions to the peace efforts. In other words, no peace has been created in middle East yet!

Therefore, despite my support for President Obama, I find awarding the NPP to him rather meaningless because he hasn’t done anything yet. It is not good enough to award the NPP to a good person simply because he wants to do good. We have to wait and see what President Obama is capable to deliver because our actions will eventually determine if we stand with good or evil, and not our words.

Frankly speaking, I think no one more than mothers of NEDA and SOHRAB i.e. as the representatives of all Iranian mothers who lost their young sons and daughters during the protest against the rigged election deserved to receive the NPP.

Alternatively, the leaders of the opposition Green Movement in Iran i.e. former President Khatami, former Prime Minister Mousavi, and former chairman of the parliament reformist clergy Karroubi, together with Prime Minister of Zimbabwe Morgan Tsvangirai deserved the NPP, and not President Obama.

Unfortunately, all that the US administration cares for is the pseudo-interests of the US and its allies especially Israel. The real interests of the nations are not contradictory but rather complementary. Only when nations try to grab increasingly more and more human and natural resources then their interests become hypertrophic by which pseudo-interests do take shape.

It has been poorly argued that a nuclear Iran is a threat to the world, and foremost a threat to the already nuclear Israel and all other undemocratic Arab states! There is less evidence to support such an argument i.e. even if we assume that Iran may possibly decide to make nukes in future.

My point is that the real focus should be on the human rights violations and lack of democracy in Iran rather than highly exaggerated nuclear issue.

Despite my general support for President Obama’s peaceful approach, there is increasingly less rationality in the US administration’s foreign policy efforts especially in the Middle East.

I support President Obama’s position that "talking" is always better than making wars. But, there are all sorts of talking that can lead to nowhere because of the poor rationality behind them.

The assumed rationality for the ongoing talks with Iran is to ensure that Iran won’t make any probable nuke. Unfortunately, such an isolated target alone i.e. without properly addressing the international security arrangements and issues for the region such as the future status of the “Israeli nukes” is doomed to fail as it did in the cases of India and Pakistan.

Evidently, the unresolved Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and ongoing hostilities in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan will make such regional security concerns and issues extremely complex to deal with.

There is no dispute that Talking is the most essential part of diplomacy, and where diplomacy stops wars can become real concerns. This is why all the details of the negotiations should be worked out before the negotiations can start. Foremost, the public must be well informed. Unfortunately, this hasn’t been the case yet.

Undoubtedly, talking should be tirelessly encouraged because the human costs of the wars can never be met. Therefore, talking is fine as long as we know who we are talking with and under what circumstances such talks take place.

A rational approach for talking with Mr. Ahmadinejad must be openly conditional depending on freeing the political prisoners including the Americans, lifting the ban on the press and his critics, compensating all those whose rights have been violated, and rerunning the disputed presidential elections.

Otherwise, what is the point of talking with those who would take off their tongues and ears, and put them on the hanger, before entering the negotiating room and while inside play back and forth the prerecorded messages?

For the diplomacy to succeed one doesn’t need a NPP but rather good diplomatic and communicative skills. And for making wars the NPP is a painful headache rather than any advantage.

Dr. Kazem Zarrabi,
Copenhagen, Denmark.
October 2009

Reference links:


Dr. Kazem Zarrabi / October 13, 2009 10:11 PM

By sitting down for dialogue and grand bargain with ahmadinejad, obama will be legitimizing his regime and the fraudulent elections. obama understands this dilemma intrinsically as he has steadfastly refused to go on any programs of an American television news channel which is critical of him because that would legitimize the news channel and its viewership!

And now obama is given the Nobel Peace award!

And now Iran's Green movement for peace and democracy has to observe and grapple with a Nobel Peace laureate obama who will meet with and give much needed and timely legitimacy to the troubled AN, their tormenting illegitimate president.

What does that make of the Nobel Peace prize?

What does that make of obama?

No, what does all that shame and betrayal make of Iranians and their courageous noble righteous Green movement for peace and democracy?

parisa / October 14, 2009 7:32 AM

Dear Tehran Bureau,

Yesterday I submitted my comment-article to this page. How long your "brief processing" is going to take? Can you please specify e.g. 5, 10, 20 or more or less hours? This is because when article-comment is written and posted on your site, the writer should know of your decision as soon as possible because if your decision is not to publish the post then he or she can post it with others.

I select you first because I think you can understand the Iranian situation better and I think you are doing a good job especially after improving the site design.

You welcome to reply to ******* Otherwise, if you are not happy with my comment posts I will not bother you any longer.

Dr. K. Zarrabi

Dr. Kazem Zarrabi / October 14, 2009 4:05 PM

Awards should never be given for rhetoric, unless the awards are forensics awards. This whole world is upside down!

Obama has done nothing for peace, yet; quite to the contrary. I'm disgusted.

Lavina / October 14, 2009 8:13 PM

Obama is weak and hopefully he will weaken americal resolve in the area. We need a weak america. By its weakness israel will be weak and the gutless uc or uk -- they will not even count.
Victory is at hand for Iran. The boot of america, while dripping with bloot is now impotent. Victory for Iran!

Radical Guy / October 15, 2009 2:03 AM

I am definitely a republican. But I try to have an open mind and never speak ill of Obama in front of my kids. (Although they definitely know who I voted for- it wasn't the socialist) I am disturbed in our country to see this happening because of one reason. He is in no way a contributor of peace and is deserving of this award. He is sending our Men and Women to fight a war in Afghanistan, whether it is justified or not. Why doesn't an incredible scientist receive this award... I know there are many who do deserve it. BO is so manipulative even intelligent people believe him, that is sad. What kind of world am I leaving to my children. This is scary!! The sadest part is BO doesn't even realize that he is thought of as a joke in other countries, especially Iran and the middle east. You know the saying,"Pride goeth before a fall"..... only problem is, we ALL will be going down too!! Pray for real change not his kind of change.

Kristin Erickson / October 15, 2009 7:29 AM

It seems that Evangelists want armageddon. They won't ever get it.

Evangelistic religious beliefs are totally bogus.

Just like Moon's.

It disturbs me that evangelistic religious pushes exist at our nation's air force academy.

Solodon / October 16, 2009 7:22 AM

First I am opposed to criticism of President Obama personally as unworthy of the award since that decision was made by an independent committee. He could have rejected the NPP but clearly said why he did not which was reasonable in my humble opinion.
In context overall it is clear that American diplomacy and past war declarations and American attitudes towards the UN over the last decade were a major contributor to the growth of Terrorism of Jihad.
During his campaigning for President and since, taking office he has made a complete change to the image and desires of the American nations international views diplomatically, and in its war policy, Nuclear armamnents desires and the recognition of Muslims rights, and a more open attitude to the UN.
Without those changes in basic American policy and diplomacy there was no future for Peace or Nuclear arms reduction and yes all he has done is put on the table ideas concepts of peace we can all believe in including the desire for peace in the middle east. Most presidents start the mid east peace talks off In thier last years of office to avoid the risk of failure. Obama has said all these things "up front."
It is now up to others including Iran and Nuclear nations and Jihadists to as he said stand up and support these goals as without it he alone cannot achieve those laudable objectives. Under a Bush style America it would not even be possible to talk about those things! And eveything has to start somewhere.
I just hope the NPP helps get people to work with Obama in a sincere way. We will all be better off.

J.V.Hodgson / October 18, 2009 12:14 PM

I was suprised of hearing Obamas win of the Nobel Peace prize. I am not Iranian I am a Greek American living in New York. Some of my best friends are Iranian, some moved back after college. In the midst of the chaos in Tehran during the election, the news media here in the United States showed very little of what was actually going on. I remember having noumerous conversations with my friends who are there.

My question to President Obama is this. Is opening up a dialogue with a President who commits such human rights violations even worth it. What kind of dialogue can you have with a mad man. For years it has been the United States stance not to negotiate with "Terrorists". Ahmaddinejad is a Terrorist but not against America or too the West but his own people.

Barack Obama and the rest of the American Presidents have to understand that all the problems and strife that is going on in the Middle East at this moment are somewhat a direct resolt of the carving of the Middle East by Britain and France after WWI and WWII.

You cannot expect people in the Middle East to like us, when we preach DEMOCRACY, PEACE, HUMAN RIGHTS, and then turn a blind eye when politicians and countries that we either support or need at the moment commit those crimes.

Angelo / April 10, 2010 10:12 PM