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An Administration Plagued by Fraud and Corruption

by MUHAMMAD SAHIMI in Los Angeles

30 Mar 2010 22:0435 Comments
car_2008_18novb.jpgAhmadinejad and His Men: Embodiments of Fraud and Corruption.

[ comment ] There is no doubt in the minds of many Iranians, including the author, that Tehran's hardliners committed fraud on a vast scale to steal the presidential election of June 12, 2009, and deny victory to Mir Hossein Mousavi. The rigging of the election, the hardliners' violent crackdown on peaceful demonstrators, the jailing of thousands of people, the systematic murder, rape, and sodomy of dozens or more, the Stalinist show trials--these acts have plunged Iran into a crisis with no end in sight. Superficially, the country is calm, but even the most minor event may trigger a huge national explosion at any moment.

Rigging the June election was by no means the first time that the hardliners resorted to fraud and cheating to maintain their hold on power. Such acts have been going on ever since the 1979 Revolution (echoing, of course, the behavior of the preceding monarchy), and they have become ever more widespread since Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was appointed Supreme Leader in 1989. Because he had neither Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's charisma and popular base of support, nor the religious credentials expected of the man who would replace him, Ayatollah Khamenei has always had to rely on the security, intelligence, and military forces, as well as the minority of Iranian clerics in the conservative and reactionary camps, in order to consolidate his control of the nation. The result has been the never ending growth of economic corruption and the looting of national resources by a small group, widespread political and social repression, and a culture of institutionalized criminality that has provided fertile grounds for electoral fraud. Indeed, the commission of political crimes is an essential tool used by the hardliners to maintain power.

At the same time, with the partial exception of the first three years of Mohammad Khatami's presidency, Ayatollah Khamenei has never allowed a free press to flourish in Iran. There is no independent news media that can act as a watchdog of the state and reveal the depth of corruption and political crimes that the hardliners have been committing.

The purpose of this article is not to discuss all the crimes for which the hardliners have been responsible over the past three decades. There are enough to fill several books. I have described some of them, such as the infamous Chain Murders, and the execution of thousands of political prisoners in the 1980s, in previous articles. The intention here is to provide an overview of the various economic and political crimes, as well as intellectual frauds, that have been committed by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the administrations that he has run at every level, and the people close to him.

Ahmadinejad's Academic Degrees

MahmoudAhmadinejad.jpgEverything associated with Ahmadinejad is complex, contradictory, shrouded in secrecy. He was born on October 28, 1956, in Aradan, a village near Garmsar, a town about 80 km southeast of Tehran. His family moved to Tehran when he was very young. After finishing high school, Ahmadinejad took Iran's national university entrance examinations in 1976. He claims to have ranked 132nd out of 400,000 participants that year, but he enrolled in what is now the Iran University of Science and Technology (IUST) as an undergraduate student of civil engineering. That is strange.

In the mid-1970s, the school did not even have university status. It was a daaneshkadeh -- roughly, "college." Someone ranked as high as Ahmadinejad would have easily gained admittance to one of the three premier engineering schools in Iran: the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Tehran and Aryamehr University (now Sharif University) at the top, followed by Tehran Polytechnic (now Amir Kabir University of Technology). The IUST was considered among the country's second tier of engineering schools, as it still is.

At the time, participants in the national entrance examinations had to identify their top ten choices before taking the test. Almost all those who wished to study engineering would place the three premier schools at the top of their list, and then less distinguished institutions lower down as their "plan B." One of Ahmadinejad's hallmarks has been his utter confidence in his own ability, mixed with extreme arrogance. There is thus every reason to believe that he would have identified his desired schools in just such an order. Given his supposed examination rank, he should therefore have been accepted to a first-tier school. The evidence clearly indicates that he ranked nowhere close to the position he claims.

The Basij militia was formed in November 1979 on the orders of Ayatollah Khomeini. In September 1980, Iraq's army invaded Iran. It is believed that after the invasion Ahmadinejad joined the Basij militia and later worked in the intelligence apparatus. At the same time, he held a number of administrative posts in the province of West Azerbaijan in northwestern Iran, including the governorships of the towns of Maku and Khoy. Later, he was an advisor to the governor-general of Kurdistan province in western Iran. But he was also accepted to the Master of Science program at the IUST in 1986 and received his degree three years later. How did he manage to attain this degree while he was employed far from Tehran?

In 1993, Ahmadinejad was appointed governor-general of Ardabil province, which used to be part of East Azerbaijan province. But he was also a Ph.D. student in transportation and planning at the IUST. He always claimed that he was working 18 hours a day for the people of the province. Perhaps he did, but then when did he find the time to work on his doctoral dissertation? After Khatami was elected president in 1997, his first interior minister, Abdollah Nouri, immediately removed Ahmadinejad from his post.

That same year, Ahmadinejad received his Ph.D. It has been reported that on the day he was supposed to defend his dissertation, his thesis advisor, Hamid Behbahani, told the dissertation committee, "You all know Mr. Ahmadinejad and how pious he is. Thus, say salavvat [salutation to the Prophet Muhammad and his family] and accept his thesis." It seems that Ahmadinejad never actually defended his dissertation. In any case, "Dr." Ahmadinejad joined the faculty of the IUST.

Mayor of Tehran

In early 2003, the Khatami administration held perhaps the most democratic elections in Iran's history for the city councils around the country. Unlike the presidential and parliamentary elections, city council candidates are not vetted by the ultra-reactionary Guardian Council. Practically anyone who wanted to run was allowed. With many members of the Nationalist-Religious Coalition (led by Ezzatollah Sahabi) and the Freedom Movement (led by Dr. Ebrahim Yazdi) running for the Tehran council, Ayatollah Khamenei left the city so that he would not have to vote. He grew angry enough to imply that he would order the cancellation of the elections.

As it turned out, Ayatollah Khamenei did not have to cancel any elections. Frustrated by the slow pace of reform under Khatami -- who later said that during his two terms the hardliners created a crisis for the country every nine days -- and particularly by the infighting among the members of the Tehran council, which was dominated by the reformists, large numbers of people in Iran's large cities boycotted the elections. In Tehran, only 12 percent of eligible voters took part, and the vast majority of those were supporters of the Islamic fundamentalists, who refer to themselves as "principlists."

A heretofore unknown fundamentalist group, Abaadgaraan-e Iran-e Eslami, or Developers of Islamic Iran (DII), swept the Tehran elections and all 16 seats on its city council. The 17th highest vote getter was former deputy Interior Minister Mostafa Tajzadeh. Jailed right after last June's rigged presidential election, he was recently released for Nowruz, the celebration of the new Iranian year.

The DII was actually a front for Jameiyat-e Isaargaraan-e Eslami, or the Society of Islamic Revolution Devotees (SIRD). Its members began their political activities in March 1995, and the group was formally founded in February 1997. In Iran, the SIRD is known simply as the Isaargaraan. Isaar is an Arabic word for altruism, and an isaargar is someone willing to selflessly sacrifice for a sacred cause. The SIRD consists mainly of former Basij members and Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps veterans of the Iran-Iraq war. Its secretary-general is Hossein Fadai, who was jailed during the Shah's reign for his political activities and worked with the Revolutionary Guards during the war as a combat engineer. He has repeatedly accused the reformists of being supported by the United States. Ahmadinejad himself was a founding member. Fadai and another leading member of the SIRD, Ali Reza Zakani, are very close to Ahmadinejad. The organization was fiercely opposed to Khatami and issued many statements against him and his administration, criticizing practically every one of his policies.

The DII was led by Mehdi Chamran, the ultraconservative brother of the Berkeley-educated Dr. Mostafa Chamran (1932‒1981), Iran's first minister of defense after the Revolution, who was killed in the war with Iraq. The group nominated Ahmadinejad, then an obscure politician, for the position of Tehran's mayor. Such appointments must be approved by the minister of interior. But Abdolvahed Mousavi Lari, the reformist cleric who then held the office under Khatami, refused to approve the nomination for several weeks, due to Ahmadinehjad's record as Ardabil governor-general (discussed in more detail below). Eventually, due to intense pressure from Ayatollah Khamenei, Mousavi Lari relented and approved the appointment, starting Ahmadinejad's rise in the Iranian political galaxy.

As Tehran's mayor, Ahmadinejad reversed changes made by the previous reformist mayors, Morteza Alviri and Mohammad Hassan Malekmadani. He transformed the city's cultural centers, founded by Alviri and Malekmadani, into religious ones, demanded separate elevators for men and women in municipal offices, and ordered the remains of those killed in the Iran-Iraq War to be buried in the city's major squares.

From the moment he took office, Ahmadinejad also advocated the construction of a new monorail system, though work on a Tehran subway system was already under way, led by Mohsen Hashemi, son of former president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. Because the DII, Ahmadinejad, and other hardliners despise Rafsanjani, they wanted to set up a rival public transportation system, defying all economic sense. Huge sums of money were spent on the project, but it never took off.

Election Fraud

As Tehran's mayor, Ahmadinejad put together a coalition of some of the Revolutionary Guard and Basij commanders, ultra-reactionary clerics led by Ayatollah Mohammad Taghi Mesbah Yazdi, and his allies in the DII, and announced his candidacy for the presidential elections of 2005. He was given very little chance of winning. It was widely believed that Ayatollah Khamenei's initial choice was Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, a brigadier general, pilot, and former commander of the Revolutionary Guards' air force, who was much more polished than Ahmadinejad. Most people believed that Rafsanjani and Mehdi Karroubi, the reformist candidates, would make it to the second round of the elections (Iran's presidential election system requires a runoff if no candidate wins over 50 percent of the vote in the initial round).

Ayatollah Khamenei apparently changed his mind at the last moment and switched his support to Ahmadinejad. It is widely believed that he did so at the urging of his son Mojtaba, an ally of Ahmadinejad's. Both are close to Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi. It is also widely believed that a large number of votes were changed to allow Ahmadinejad to make it to the runoff with Rafsanjani.

During the campaign's second round, Ahmadinejad's humble background and lifestyle, along with his promises to root out corruption and maximize oil revenues, attracted many poor and lower-class people. In contrast, Rafsanjani was considered by many as a symbol of corruption. There is also credible evidence that Ayatollah Khamenei directed the Revolutionary Guards and the Basij commanders to order their members to vote for Ahmadinejad, and to take with them to the voting stations as many family members and friends as possible. As a result, Ahmadinejad was elected. Complaining about the irregularities in the vote, Rafsanjani said, "I will leave it to God to judge what has happened."

Once in office, Ahmadinejad began a sweeping purge of the bureaucracy. He installed many allies in positions of authority, indicating the extent of his secret network around the country. As a key ally, Brigadier General Mohammad Bagher Zolghadr -- a hardliner in the Revolutionary Guards -- declared, Ahmadinejad's election "was not an accident. It was a result of two years of complex, multifaceted planning." It has been reported that even Ayatollah Khamenei was surprised by the extent and depth of Ahmadinejed's network.

In 2006, simultaneous elections were supposed to be held for the city councils, as well as for the Assembly of Experts, the constitutional body that appoints the Supreme Leader and is supposed to monitor his performance. The reformists forged an alliance and put up 16 credible candidates for Tehran's city council. Ahmadinejad's sister, Parvin Ahmadinejad, also ran for a seat on the council. For months, she accompanied her brother everywhere. Ahmadinejad claimed that she would receive the highest number of votes because he was highly popular and the people wanted another Ahmadinejad.

By then, Ahmadinejad had formed a new political group, the Sweet Scent (SS) of Service. (There is no entirely satisfactory English translation for the group's name. Although it might make little sense in English, it is an unexceptional phrase in Persian.) Most of its members are former commanders of the Revolutionary Guards. Its secretary-general is Mohammad Ali Ramin, a close ally of Ahmadinejad who used to work at Kayhan, the daily that serves as the mouthpiece of the hardliners and is run by Hossein Shariatmadari. Ramin is currently deputy minister of culture and Islamic guidance and responsible for the press. In the short time that he has held the position, he has ordered the closure of scores of newspapers, weeklies, and other publications. Ramin lived in Germany for many years and is rumored to have associated with the neo-Nazis and the far right there. He is believed to be the prime mover behind Ahmadinejad's rhetoric about Israel and the Holocaust, and was the secretary of the Holocaust conference that was held in Tehran in 2006.

Despite its use of public resources, the SS of Service was defeated badly in the elections for the city council, with its candidates receiving only 4 percent of the votes. The Tehran election results were not announced by Ahmadinejad's Interior Ministry for quite some time. All indications were that at least ten reformists had been elected, and that Parvin Ahmadinejad was not even among the top 30 vote getters. It was widely reported that Ayatollah Khamenei had said that no more than four seats should be given to the reformists, and so, after considerable alterations of the votes, it came to pass. Parvin Ahmadinejad was declared the 15th-place vote getter and was thus "elected." Even then, only three of the SS of Service candidates for Tehran made it onto the council. Around the country, the reformists received 60 percent of the votes cast in city council elections.

The same thing happened in the elections for the Assembly of Experts. Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi, Ahmadinejad's spiritual mentor, and the hardline clerics around him nominated many younger, relatively unknown clerics. Mesbah Yazdi himself ran for a seat as a representative of Tehran province, and it was claimed by the hardline clerics that he would receive the largest number of votes. But the pragmatists and relatively moderate clerics allied with Rafsanjani, who was also running for a Tehran seat in the Assembly.

Once again, the results were not announced by Ahmadinejad's Interior Ministry for sometime as Mesbah Yazdi did extremely poorly, while Rafsanjani led the balloting. Once again, the votes were altered. For example, Gholamreza Mesbahi Moghaddam, a relatively moderate conservative cleric, was also running for a seat as a representative of Tehran province. It was reported widely, and implicitly confirmed by Mesbahi Moghaddam, that all his votes were counted for Mesbah Yazdi. Rafsanjani was ultimately declared the largest vote getter -- though with a reduced number of votes -- and Mesbah Yazdi was announced as the eighth-ranked candidate.

Then came the 2008 elections for the Eighth Majles, the Iranian parliament. The reformists lined up a strong slate of candidates, particularly for Tehran. They nominated many former ministers and high-ranking officials that had served in the government for years, believing that the Guardian Council would not dare disqualify them. However, the local councils, which carry out the preliminary review of candidates' qualifications and had been appointed by Ahmadinejad's Interior Ministry, eliminated the vast majority of reformist candidates. Only about 100 reformists, most of them little known, were allowed to run for about 100 seats, out of a total of 290. Even then, they did well -- 50 of them won their elections, along with 25 "independents" who were, in fact, also quietly reformist.

There is, of course, no need to detail here what happened in the 2009 presidential election. It was completely rigged.

Economic Corruption and Crimes

On behalf of the 1997 presidential election campaign of Ali Akbar Nategh Nouri, Khatami's main conservative rival, Ahmadinejad as governor-general of Ardabil province spent 3 billion toumans (about $5 million at the time) of the provincial budget. Khatami's first minister of the interior, Abdollah Nouri, fired Ahmadinejad and referred his involvement in Nategh Nouri's campaign and the illegal use of government funds to the courts. The case is apparently still open, although it has been inactive for 13 years.

As governor-general, Ahmadinejad also made arrangements for his close friend Sadegh Mahsouli to have exclusive rights to the oil swaps then taking place between Iran and the Republic of Azerbaijan. Mahsouli made at least $7 million, which put him well on his way to acquiring his nickname: "Billionaire Minister."

During Ahmadinejad's tenure as Tehran's mayor, 350 billion toumans (about $430 million) in municipal funds went unaccounted. No one knows what has happened to the money. Ahmadinejad's supporters claim that it was spent partly on research and preparation for the monorail project and partly on addressing Tehran's heavy traffic jam problems, but there is no documentation to support these assertions.

Almost immediately after he was elected president in 2005, Ahmadinejad asked the Majles to allow him to withdraw and spend about $400 million from Iran's foreign currency reserves for the Basij militia. He received permission, but again there is no accounting of how the money was spent.

Ahmadinejad's friend Sadegh Mahsouli is the embodiment of corruption. As minister of the interior, he delivered the "victory" to Ahmadinejad in the rigged election of last year. The "Billionaire Minister" estimates his own wealth at $160 million. How did he amass it? In addition to being helped by Ahmadinejad in the oil swaps with the Republic of Azerbaijan, Mahsouli used his Revolutionary Guard connections to purchase thousands of square meters of lands in some of the best neighborhoods of Tehran at a small fraction of their market price. He then turned around and sold the lands at their real value, making an astronomical profit. Now minister of welfare and social security, he surely possesses a unique perspective on the lives of the poor.

Over the past five years, the Ahmadinejad administration has awarded nearly $10 billion in contracts to Guard-controlled companies, most often without any formal bidding. They include large projects in the oil and natural gas industry, the petrochemical industry, and railroad and dam construction. The contracts have been so rich that Rostam Ghassemi, head of Khatam-ol-Anbia (KA), the engineering arm of the Guards that is currently under UN Security Council sanctions, recently announced that his company will no longer participate in "small and medium-size projects."

With KA receiving most of the large projects, many private companies have either gone bankrupt, or have been forced to work as subcontractors for the Revolutionary Guards. Since KA does not have the required expertise to carry out many of the projects it controls, it keeps a significant fraction of the profit and then contracts out the actual work to the private sector. Delays, inferior performance, and cost overruns are the frequent result.

No-bid contracts and KA's involvement in most large projects harm Iran's national interests in at least two other important ways. First, KA's involvement with Iran's oil and natural gas industry makes it extremely vulnerable to sanctions by the United States and its allies. Given that oil and natural gas are the most important sources of energy in Iran, as well as the most important sources of foreign currency, any large-scale sanction against the industry is extremely harmful to the vast majority of Iranian citizens. The industry is already suffering from the lack of significant investments by the European and American oil giants, while other major oil producers have raidly been developing their reserves. If these trends continue, Iran's loss of market share will likely be severe.

The Iranian economy has also been harmed by the way that KA, in alliance with Ahmadinejad, has been allowed to raid the treasury with impunity, in the absence of any supervision by the Majles. An example is the Persian Gulf's South Pars/North Dome field, the largest natural gas reservoir in the world, which Iran shares with Qatar. The field covers 9,700 square kilometers: the South Pars, comprising approximately 3,700 square kilometers, is in Iran's territorial waters; the North Dome, comprising the remainder, is in Qatar's territorial waters. In terms of fossil energy content, the field is also the largest in the world.

The Ministry of Oil intends to develop the South Pars in 28 phases. Phases 15 and 16 have been granted to KA. But mismanagement and other factors shrouded in secrecy have delayed the work. In addition, Ghassemi, the KA head, announced in early January that "to remedy the financial difficulties that KA was experiencing" and to complete the project, the Revolutionary Guards were planning to withdraw $1 billion from Iran's reserved foreign currency. Ghassemi blamed the National Iranian Oil Company for the problem.

This withdrawal is, of course, illegal. Any such use of funds must be approved by the Economics Council, the Foreign Reserves Funds' Board of Trustees, and the Majles. But Ahmadinejad has completely bypassed all of them. He stripped the council of its powers and brought it under his own control. He also removed the Board of Trustees. And he never asked the Majles for permission.

Article 44 of Iran's Constitution stipulates that most national industries must be privatized. Under Rafsanjani, the Assembly of Experts developed a plan for privatization. But the Ahmadinejad administration has been conducting a fire sale of some of the most important national assets, selling them at a small fraction of their actual value to quasi-private corporations controlled by the Revolutionary Guards; to several bonyaads, or foundations, run by hardliners that already control vast assets; and to companies controlled by high-ranking clerics loyal to the hardliners. The result has been a vast looting of the nation's resources. In a future article, I will probe this issue in depth.

In August 2008, Ahmadinejad introduced Ali Kordan to the Majles as his new minister of the interior. His predecessor, Mostafa Pourmohammadi, was sacked after he submitted a report to Ayatollah Khamenei concerning the 2008 Majles elections and its many irregularities without informing Ahmadinejad. During his confirmation hearings in the Majles, Kordan claimed that he has an "honorary" doctorate from the University of Oxford. He was confirmed by a very slim majority, but his supposed doctoral degree opened up new venues for Ahmadinejad's critics to probe. By late October 2008, it had become clear that not only did Kordan not have a doctoral degree, but that he did not even have a bachelor's. The Majles voted to impeach him.

Mohammad Abbasi, who headed the government's liaison office to the Majles, tried to bribe the Majles deputies to prevent Kordan's impeachment, handing out checks for 5 millions toumans (about $5,000). A physical confrontation ensued between one deputy and Abbasi. Ali Larijani, the parliament's speaker, called Abbasi's efforts "indecent" and forbade him from entering the Majles. Kordan was impeached and removed from office. He recently passed away.

In February 2009, the National Audit Office reported that $1 billion was missing from Iran's foreign currency reserves.

Ahmadinejad claimed that it was an accounting error, but even many conservative Majles deputies dispute that. The matter is still unresolved.

Several weeks ago, there were widely credited rumors that two of Iran's most important banks were going bankrupt, which caused a panic and led many people to withdraw their money. The rumors were so persistent and the flight of money out of the banks so swift that the government barred withdrawals of more than 15 million toumans ($15,000) at a time. Mahmoud Bahmani, governor of Iran's Central Bank, ultimately admitted that the banks had given $47 billion in loans to 300 people, but had succeeded in collecting only about $7 billion. The rest is essentially in default. In one case, an unnamed prominent man had taken a loan of $210 million, an unheard-of amount in Iran. The hardliners essentially treat Iran and its resources as their own private property.

The corruption is on such a great scale, the Revolutionary Guards' power is so vast, and the remaining press is so incapable of probing the endemic fraud and deceit that even the unexplained disappearance of $1 billion from the national treasury, the illegal withdrawal of another $1 billion, and $40 billion of loans in default does no harm to Ahmadinejad, a man whose claim to piety and incorruptibility is one of his hallmarks. Talk about a "Teflon president."

Academic Fraud

ahmadinejad.mehrabian.jpgAhmadinejad and his cohort have even badly damaged the credibility of Iranian academics. In addition to the unanswered questions about his own advanced degrees, many of his close aides and cabinet members have been caught cheating and lying about their records.

In addition to Kordan, Kamran Daneshjoo, Ahmadinejad's minister of science, research, and technology, responsible for overseeing the universities, has also not received the degrees he has claimed. Daneshjoo was in charge of supervising the rigged 2009 election and certifying it.

In his page on the website of the IUST, where he is a faculty member, Daneshjoo claimed to have received a Ph.D. from the Imperial College of London. When questions were raised, the name of the institution was changed to "Manchester Imperial Institute of Science and Technology," which does not exist. He also claimed that he had received his bachelor's degree from "Queen Mary," presumably meaning Queen Mary's College.

The fact is that Daneshjoo was expelled from the Imperial College for his political activities. In early 1989, Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa against Salman Rushdie for his book The Satanic Verses, declaring that the author should be killed. There were demonstrations in London and elsewhere in Britain against Rushdie, in which Daneshjoo participated. Britain decided to expel him and several others. He never finished his studies before he was obliged to return to Iran. A university professor in Tehran who is very familiar with what happened told me that, after Daneshjoo's return, a thesis was put together for him to "defend." Most academics stayed away from it. The "defense" was held at Amir Kabir University, and Daneshjoo was awarded an "equivalent Ph.D. degree."

That was not the end of the fiasco. On September 20, 2009, Declan Butler of Nature, perhaps the most prestigious science journal in the world, asked me to compare two scientific papers, one published by Daneshjoo and his student, Majid Shahravi, and a second one published by a Korean group.

Nature wanted to know whether Daneshjoo and Shahravi had plagiarized the Korean paper. After reading the two papers, I realized that not only had Daneshjoo and his student copied about 70 percent of the text of their paper, word for word, from the Korean piece, but that many of the purported results were virtually identical. Some of their figures precisely mirrored ones in the Korean paper, while others were simply replots of the Koreans' results. Butler publicized the story.

Nature identified similar copying in other papers by Daneshjoo and Shahravi in a paper in the Journal of Mechanical Science and Technology, in the Taiwanese Journal of Mechanics (25, 117 [2009]), and even in the Iranian Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering Journal. Shahravi attributed it to a plot by "Zionist agents." No satisfactory explanation was ever offered by Daneshjoo, who told the Majles that he had not even read the papers on which his name appeared as coauthor. All the foreign journals have retracted the papers.

Then there is Hamid Behbahani, minister of roads and transportation, the man who asked Ahmadinejad's Ph.D. dissertation committee to say salavaat and accept the thesis. Nature examined a paper, co-authored by him, Hassan Ziari, his deputy and the head of the Islamic Republic of Iran Railways, and Mohammed Khabiri, then an IUST Ph.D. candidate, that was published in the Ukrainian journal Transport (XXI, 207 [2006]). Much of its text and results were copied from previously published papers (see here and here).

These discoveries have damaged the credibility of the Iranian scientists who have achieved remarkable success under the most difficult conditions. A recent survey published by New Scientist indicated that scientific output has grown faster in Iran than in any other country, 11 times faster than the world average. A group of Iranian scientists, both inside and outside the country, has set up a website to expose scientific frauds, identify low-quality journals, and report on related issues.

Another member of Ahmadinejad's cabinet guilty of intellectual fabrication is his nephew, Ali Akbar Mehrabian, minister of industries and mines. In July 2009, an appeals court upheld his conviction on charges of scientific fraud. Farzan Salimi, a researcher in Tehran, had proposed and developed an idea for an "earthquake saferoom" -- a residential fortified space. He had presented his design to Tehran's municipal Department of Crisis Management in 2003, when Ahmadinejad was mayor. In a book published two years later, Mehrabian and an associate, Mousa Mazloom, described the details of the design and claimed it as their own invention. Ahmadinejad's name was also on the book as a coauthor.

Mohammad Reza Rahimi, Ahmadinejad's first vice president (the Iranian government has eight), claims to have a Ph.D., though it is not clear in what field. It is widely believed that his degree, like Kordan's, is fake. One thing is for sure: He is a master of pleasing his masters; perhaps his Ph.D. is in this area. At a ceremony in which Ahmadinejad was present, Rahimi claimed that during a trip to Syria a man had approached him and declared, "If God were to send a prophet after Prophet Muhammad, it would be Mahmoud Ahmadinejad!" The judiciary recently announced the discovery of a major case of financial fraud involving "high government officials." There is persistent speculation that the "high official" is Rahimi. It has been reported that the judiciary chief, Sadegh Larijani, phoned Ahmadinejad and asked him to fire Rahimi, but was rebuffed.

Ahmadinejad's first minister of science, research, and technology, Mohammad Mehdi Zahedi, who received his Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Kerman, was the "mathematics genius" of the cabinet. Zahedi has always claimed to be a member of the New York Academy of Sciences, which the organization has flatly denied. In 2005, when he was introduced to the Majles as a cabinet nominee, he claimed to have been called "one of the most prominent mathematicians of the century" by the American Mathematical Society. As it turned out, he was simply a member of the Society for a while. Zahedi has been dispatched to Malaysia as Iran's ambassador.

The cases surveyed in this article represent just the tip of the iceberg. Only when Iran is a true democracy with a free press will we learn the full extent of the crimes, corruption, and fraud perpetrated by the hardliners.

Cartoon of Sadegh Mahsouli being led to Majlies by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. By Nikahang Kowsar for Roozonline.

Copyright © 2010 Tehran Bureau

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Really hard getting past the shrill of your first paragraph, Muhammad.

And the element of doubt you attempt to instill over President Ahmadinejad's background reminds me a lot of the Tea Baggers' "birther" claims against President Obama, as well as the intrigue they promote regarding the legal fees necessary to maintain the privacy of Obama's university records and scholastic papers.

Many of President Ahmadinejad's economic policies are questionable, as are the results of such. But these policies and results were open to a lively debate on Iran TV and elsewhere during the election campaign period of 2009, and you didn't have to vote for him.

The rest of this, my friend, is more shrill and sour grapes.

My advice is vote in the upcoming parliamentary election (you'll need to travel back to the Islamic Republic of Iran to do so) and vote in the next presidential election. And if you don't believe in voting, enjoy your comfortable life as an exile in the United States of America. Simple as that.

Pirouz / March 30, 2010 8:38 PM

[quote]During the campaign's second round, Ahmadinejad's humble background and lifestyle, along with his promises to root out corruption and maximize oil revenues, attracted many poor and lower-class people.[/quote]

He kept his promise... He rooted out corruption and put them all in his cabinet and placed maximum oil revenues in his and his friends pockets.

perry1949 / March 31, 2010 12:00 AM

Dear Dr. Sahimi,

Thank you for this informative article.

I would like to highlight a few points:

Ahmadinejad's claim about ranking 132nd in the 1976 national concours should be easy to check. Surely, one of the students who aced those tests must retain a published copy of the official results for 1976?

The picture accompanying the article appears to show Ahmadinejad sitting next to Mehrabian, not Daneshjoo as stated.

In the section entitled 'Election Fraud', it would have been useful to provide links or footnotes whereever you refer to 'reports', 'rumours' and 'indications'.

While anectodal evidence of vote-rigging in last year's election is too plentiful to recount, I was captivated by Ali Ansari's cool, methodical approach in analyzing the results.

He compared the official 2009 election results with those of 2005 (which he accepted at face value), and demonstrated concretely, with facts and figures, that the 2009 tally would require such a drastic, unprecedented change in popular voting patterns that it should beggar the belief of any thinking person.

Ali from Tehran / March 31, 2010 12:35 AM

Ahmadinejad is corrupt along with his cabinet and they are all a bunch of idiots. O.K. fine. We have known this for 31 years starting from the biggest idiot of them all, Khomeini.

We have established that the Barbaric Republic is indeed worthy of its name. Bravo.

Can we spend some quality time on solutions for a change? Do we have any plans for a brighter future? Can you show us a strategy or two to get there?

These are the real issues that Iranians are keen on. WE ARE DONE WITH THE BARBARIC REPUBLIC.

Niloofar / March 31, 2010 5:57 AM

Thanks Prof Sahimi for another informative article. Amazing that one can still find folks like "Pirouz" who try to defend Ahmadinejad and his sodomizing-pedophilic cronies, criminals so incompetent it is beyond description. These folks remind me of Saddam's PR guy (forget his name), or Leslie Nielsen in Naked Gun, who proudly broadcast reports of "all is well, nothing to see here" as mayhem ensues around them. High comedy.

And Ali - I hope that this time you stick to constructive facts and analyses as opposed to smug typo corrections. And, btw, here's why: you have two typos in one line alone. "Whereever" is misspelled, and the comma in "reports" should come within the second paranthetical. That's the last time I'll correct yours so long as you play nice with the non-native speakers.

np / March 31, 2010 6:29 AM

Excellent Article Dr Sahimi. Tip of the iceberg indeed. I hope you will succeed in exposing more of it, for Iran's sake. Deeply sad stuff but a very important article.

Cy / March 31, 2010 6:50 AM

Peering behind Ahmadinijads invented biography and his apotheosis, its hard to avoid the impression he must had one or more powerful patrons early on. How difficult is it to be appointed governor of an Iranian province with the attendent control of gov't revenues? For a populist he seems to have been so unpopular that every position he has had to date has been handed to him on a silver platter. The parrallels with Bush Jr are uncanny.
The only hope the GOP has to return to power, is to take a leaf out of Ahmadinijads book and engineer low turn-outs (%12 would be ideal). Scott Brown was elected on a turn-out of %52 ( the election that was heard around the world).If Ahmadinijad has plagiarised anyone it would be Rove (Bush's Mouth).

pirooz / March 31, 2010 9:59 AM

Interior Minister Sadegh Mahsooli is a very hard working, pious and devoted person and Iraqis need to learn a lesson or 2 from him.
At the end of June 2009 presidential election it took his Ministry to "efficiently" count over 46 million votes in 4 hours.
Now compare that to recent elections in iraq which it took over 3 weeks to count 9 million votes. ;)

Aryajet / March 31, 2010 10:09 AM


I agree, the first paragraph may have been a little dramatic. However, I have some problems with your arguments. You say that what's written is similar to the typical teabagger argument? I disagree, you see, teabaggers have relied on absolutely no evidence about Obama's past. They blatantly call him a socialist/nazi. I digress, the author here has clearly explained WITH EVIDENCE. He has proven his point with exact dates and analyzation.

Then you continue to say that Ahmadinejad's economic policies are questionable, which who doesn't agree with? Next you say that the author had the option of not "voting" for him. Do you honestly think that the majority voted for this mockery of a "president" we currently "have." My fellow Iranian, do you think that people did not vote!? When you have massive excess of money and your own militia, you can turn around the votes. In the end, does it matter if you voted or not since elections have been manipulated for decades on end?

Also, you are absolutely the biggest troll after Ahmadinejad. You continually post on these articles spouting your terrible arguments.

"My advice is vote in the upcoming parliamentary election (you'll need to travel back to the Islamic Republic of Iran to do so) and vote in the next presidential election. "

NO ONE in their right mind is going to vote in the next election...I'll give you a hint. As long as there is a supreme leader, there is no use for a president. The supreme leader will continue to herd the sheep that decide to believe in your pathetic religion, ideology, and state of mind. This is one of the dumbest republics ever made. We need a serious renaissance in the middle east. With people like you, it just won't happen.

IRI is a republic that will last for a blink of an eye / March 31, 2010 1:29 PM

Dear NP,

I don't mind you correcting my typos, and I will point out others' mistakes whenever I wish to.

Concerning your suggestions on mental [expletive deleted], please give me some pointers. I would like to learn from the best of the best.

Ali from Tehran / March 31, 2010 3:57 PM

Thank your for this delightful (!) summary of frauds and fakes! This infectious nepotism, in my opinion, plays a key role in hindering progress in all directions of Iranian society.

I do not mean to say that we (in the west) don't have our own share of frauds and fakes at all levels and in all administrations (the current one included). However, we have some hope that by exposing these characters we will remove them from positions of influence; at least in some cases.

Sunshine is truly the best disinfectant -- one that is badly needed in Iran's bureaucracy!

jay / March 31, 2010 8:41 PM

Ali - you're way too hung up on my earlier comment (I guess it struck a chord or you just can't let go of the mental image). Please drop it. I'll take it back, OK? No reason to waste time on this nonsense. I was actually giving you credit for having some intelligent posts, but you detract from yourself by being annoying and harping on typos, especially when you make a ton of them yourself. He that is without typos point out the first typo, or something like that. Chill out.

Niloofar - your points are well made and your position is clear. What exactly do you want from Prof Sahimi? To divine a solution to this mess? I think he's stated his position on civil, non-violent disobedience. What else is he going to say? He doesn't have a solution as to how to counter a bunch of murderous, pedophilic, sodomistic, Islam-infatuated, corrupt, criminal lowlifes any more than you or I do. All he can do is report and inform. But, remember, we are not dealing with respectable and dignified human beings like the Shah, who despite his faults would never authorize the commission of 1/1000th of the rapes, tortures, and other crimes that the lowlife Mullah/IRGC contingent do, and as we saw (and as that two-faced Karroubi even agreed) would never stick around when the majority of people obviously didn't want him around. These bastards aren't going, and they've stolen enough money and own enough guns to comfortably stick around for a while. Most of us agree that "they must go" but what are you suggesting as far as "solutions" that you would want Prof Sahimi to promote?

np / March 31, 2010 10:28 PM

Pirouz you say to Muhammad Sahimi:

"My advice is vote in the upcoming parliamentary election (you'll need to travel back to the Islamic Republic of Iran to do so) and vote in the next presidential election. And if you don't believe in voting, enjoy your comfortable life as an exile in the United States of America. Simple as that".

This is so Ahmadi-Nedjad to the last dot, congratulations! Just as disingenuous and just as smug. It is not the case that Muhammad and many of us do not 'believe in voting', we do not believe in sham elections. You also know that Muhammad will not be welcomed in Iran because of his brave, principled and patriotic stance - that is, whilst defending Iran's sovereignty and integrity in relation to Iran's nuclear rights and regional security, he demands an answerable democratic government. As well as amongst the exiles, MANY IRANIANS IN IRAN, and many of the most educated, patriotic and fair-minded people, who voted in these last two elections, will not vote again under these sham elections.

Anonymous / April 1, 2010 12:29 AM


emmm let's see,

What are the possibilities for wide spread strikes in Iran and how/what would it take to achieve a level of paralysis for the government to collapse?

Should there be a collapse, what are the alternatives. How can we create a management body to guide Iran while we seek permanent social, economic and political solutions/status?

What are our political assets abroad and how can we utilize them efficiently?

How can we stop these childish and politically immature infightings among Iranians of various political backgrounds and focus their talents on defeating the evil in our country?

And on and on and on rather than analysis of the benefits of soup in our society. Do Basigi thugs wash their hands before they club people to death? Is a mullah a true idiot? Have they stolen any money since 1979?


np, it has been 31 years. A generation or two have gone to waste. What will it take for these people to realize we need to do something other than the same old same old. We are going nowhere.

If feel sorry for these people. You have lots of talented people here, but wasted on small childish nitpick. Isn't it time to grow up? Isn't it time for the men of Iran to show some courage, valor and creativity?

We are losing our fatherland. I am looking at Persia, but all I see is Arabia. Does anyone realize what that means?

A Few more years and most kids of Persian heritage abroad won't even relate to Iran anymore

Niloofar / April 1, 2010 8:36 PM

Dear NP,

You say: "... we are not dealing with respectable and dignified human beings like the Shah, who despite his faults would never authorize the commission of 1/1000th of the rapes, tortures, and other crimes that the lowlife Mullah/IRGC contingent do ..."

So, in your warped moral universe, the Shah could have authorized a number of rapes while remaining "respectable and dignified", PROVIDED he kept well short of 1/1000th of IRI's threshold.

Given the crass sexual imagery in your previous posts, and your alleged background as an English teacher, I hope all of your pupils were of legal age. [Ali Agha from Tehran, I know you didn't start it, but please drop the sexual references. moderator]

Ali from Tehran / April 1, 2010 10:11 PM

With the British general election due shortly, I have been contemplating whether to vote. But as I delve more deeply into it I realise my vote will make no difference. The Labour candidate in my area has such a huge majority there is no chance of unseating her. Then I discovered that British elections are actually decided on about 100 marginal seats which amount to about 20% of the total number which actually decide which party will be in power. Further the choice is usually between (New) Labour (leftwing although more centre now) and Tories (rightwing but more centre now). Minority parties rarely get more than a few seats and are more a way of expressing discontent or an opinion but not to put a party in power. Britain, of course, prides itself in being 'mother' of all parliaments and the British have been the model for many other states as well as drafted their constitution whilst not having one themselves.

The point of all this is to say that, it is a dark world, and IRI is not the only place where there is darkness. However where given the opportunity we should light a candle rather than forever curse the darkness as this does not bring light. AN and his team have faults but one should also look at what good his administration has achieved. As some in this column say the Shah was a good man although those who suffered under his torturers call him a bad man. I think AN has spoken brilliantly on Palestine and other Muslim causes. I hear he has carried out many development projects in rural areas of IRI and improved people's lives. He also seems a very activist President and has promoted Iran's peaceful use of nuclear energy vociferously and he has inspired self confidence in many Iranians from the lower economic strata. Despite exaggerated claims, there has been no genocide against the opposition in IRI yet.

Anyhow I have decided to vote as I see that as my way of lighting a little candle and I think where given the opportunity reform minded Iranians should vote even if it is a protest vote. If lots of candles are lighted altogether repeatedly then someday the light from them will overwhelm the darkness. Be positve and hopeful and good things will come, enshallah.

rezvan / April 2, 2010 4:49 AM

Muhammad, if you're at all interested in objectivity, take a look at this:


Pirouz / April 2, 2010 6:40 AM

Dear Moderator,

Certainly. But pls take care henceforth to filter out any profanity coming my way from np and like-minded individuals.

Ali from Tehran / April 2, 2010 4:58 PM


Look at the response by the leader of Revolution, Niloofar who, as somweone pointed out in this thread, writes under another name in another site. As always, she is not saying anything, but ranting.

1. The possibility for the strike in Iran and creating paralysis: 31 years ago, the same strikes toppled the Shah. Does she know? No!

Hint: She is pro-sanction, but she is shy!

2. Should there be a collapse..... All the necessary elements are already in Iran, ready to serve. No need for advanced warning!

3. Political assets outside the country... "assets?" What assets? There is no political asset outside Iran. This will be done by Iranians living in Iran. The Iranians in exile have a supporting role.

4. How can we stop the childish behavior... This is most interesting. This is the same lady who labels people (including a non-Iranian like me!), attacks everyone that disagrees with her, and never says a word that is worth a penny, yet she bemoans "the childish behavior!"

This is the same person who insulted the author of this article in another article, and when he responded to her innuendoes and insinuations and demanded an apology, not only did she not apologize, but also told him that he is insecure because, as a matter of principle, he had demanded an apology (not that he actually needed one from a faceless, nameless person). And, she bemoans about childish behavior!

5. And then she goes on with her usual routine. ONLY she understands what has happened in Iran. ONLY she knows what is going on. ONLY she knows.... and on goes her usual rants, shallow, devoid-of-substance defeaning screaming!

As my Iranian friends say, "she thinks everything is mobaah for her!"

George Stewar/Qolam-Ali / April 2, 2010 7:37 PM

George Stewart aka Gholam-Ali,

Once again, thank you for exposing yourself and your inner circle.

Niloofar / April 2, 2010 10:04 PM

Brills op-ed piece would have been more fittingly posted a day later, April Fools. Reminds of the story that Bush Sr specialty at the CIA was reportedly elections.

pirooz / April 3, 2010 12:32 AM

Niloofar - I am not going to attack you like many others, mainly because I can sense your extreme frustration (which I'm sure you share with millions of others) and agree with your basic principle of "they must go". However, in an effort to be constructive, I don't see how you can object to Prof Sahimi's writings and then, as an alternative, demand that he somehow 1) encourages or organizes strikes, 2) suggests an interim political body to govern during a transition, and 3) suggests how to mobilize foreign Iranian talent. My take on Prof Sahimi is he's an invaluable resource to all of us given his unparalleled supply of information and history, and we should appreciate him as such (whether or not we agree with him all the time). However, I do not see him as the strike organizer, or the leader who is to galvanize Iranians abroad. I also don't think he is going to get into proposing transitional bodies, because his clear statement is that Mousavi is the transitional body (whether anyone agrees with him or not). I would love for him to be able to bring disparate groups together and help teach Iranians how to disagree respectfully, and I've stated that to him multiple times. But attacking him is different than giving him practical, alternative opinions and getting his thoughts/analysis on them. I still don't see that happening, and I'm not sure your post is going to elicit too much information from him.

Ali - man, you don't quit do you? The eternal critic. Now you are trying to play games with my statement, and unfortunately, you are misunderstanding and misinterpreting. I never said, nor did I imply, that if the Shah committed x% of the rapes of the IRI, he would or would not remain respectable. My basic point was that, in contrast to these pedophilic-sodomists, he was a dignified person who a) can't be compared with them as far as the level of corruption/criminality, and b) did not unleash his arsenal on the people and indeed fled the country -- in other words, the opposite of these clowns. Are you clear now, or should I put it in simpler terms? And stop whining - I never cursed at you, and never will. Mental masturbation is a turn of phrase, in English, and it is neither a curse word nor is it meant to be "sexual" (a bit disconcerting that you took it that way). And yes, you love to do it. And yes, I was an English teacher, and now I'm a lawyer, and in both cases I dislike intellectual bullies like you who try to pick on others to show off how smart they (think they) are. The eternal critic who sits around all day waiting to point out typos and poke holes in other people's posts - I will always step up and fight back against someone like this. My request from you - you seem like a smart guy, so just stick to constructive comments and help the process by sharing your knowledge and spreading good information to enlighten everybody of all political backgrounds. In fact, that remains my hope for all Iranians as we go through this "Green" process: to learn how to apply the "marketplace of ideas" concept in peace, thereby paving the way for true democractic government.

Moderator - if using words words like "mental masturbation" or "pedophilic-sodomist" is too extreme for this blog, please let me know and I will cease to do so. These are phrases that can be found in the opinion pages of a variety of respectable publications ("sodomy" and "rape" are used in Prof Sahimi's instant article), so I did not deem them as "sexual references."

np / April 3, 2010 1:26 AM


Thank you. You said it better than whatever I could, although I refuse to respond to that person. After seeing her reaction, it would be beneath me.I have made my thinking clear many times. People are free to agree or disagree. Either way is fine with me. I see two tasks for myself in writing for TB:

(1) Bring the history of contemporary Iran to the attention of the readers. We won't be able to move forward if we do not learn from the past, and we won't learn unless we learn the history as it happened, not the way we would have liked it to happen. History does not have or need interpretation. It is what it is.

And despite much claim to the contrary, a lot of people do not know a lot of significant events, why they happened, who was behind them, what their implications and results were, etc. All they know is that this or that person is evil!

(2) Report and analyze on what is happening now. One can agree or disagree with me. One can criticize me as much as one wants, but in a polite way, which unfortunately the person that you debated with is not - more precisely, does not know how, or believes that if she does so, she has "lost."

I have no claim to be a leader of anything. That is not my job or ambition. I do not speak on behalf of anybody, but myself - unlike many who comment here and say "the Iranian people want" this or that.

Muhammad Sahimi / April 3, 2010 3:05 AM


I thank you for your thoughts, but I still think more can be achieved if we try harder (group effort with positive guidance rather than ineffective information). In a free society one can object. That is free speech.

I don't believe anything can come out of Mousavi and the likes since they are part of the same evil system known as the Barbaric Republic. As far as I am concerned and I have no doubt many agree with me, they must all be tried for their crimes against humanity. They can not and will not Green wash Mousavi and his side of the Barbaric Republic. It won't happen.

Also, I need to make some clarifications based on your points:

"1) encourages or organizes strikes."

I did not say or suggest that.
I believe I asked, "What are the possibilities for wide spread strikes in Iran and how/what would it take to achieve a level of paralysis for the government to collapse?"
I am sure anyone with inside information/connection can give valuable information to the general public.

"2) suggests an interim political body to govern during a transition."

That was not my question NP.
I asked,"Should there be a collapse, what are the alternatives. How can we create a management body to guide Iran while we seek permanent social, economic and political solutions/status?
What are our political assets abroad and how can we utilize them efficiently?"
Once again, anyone with inside information/connection can shed light on these questions.

"3) suggests how to mobilize foreign Iranian talent."

Absolutely NP. That is the $64m question for the majority of Iranians. A man with inside information /connection ought to be at the forefront of the struggle and inform/guide people on these crucial matters.

Do you think if I did not feel the talent present here I would waste my time to challenge them? I see a great potential, but I do not see it directed in the right direction to help FREE Iran.

The Barbaric Republic is history. It died last June. WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE is what everyone is eager to find out.

Iranians are "Tarofi" and love to be praised even when they do not deserve it. If I am not popular with this crowd then it is just too bad. I think the future of our country gets priority over popularity. I am learning too, but I won't hold back when I feel the otherside is totally wrong.

I am a woman, I reserve the right and have the privilege. Iranian men need to update. GOOD LUCK.

Happy Easter to all Christian Iranians. We love you. Iran loves you.

Niloofar / April 3, 2010 3:16 AM


I usually do not respond to your comments. But the last couple of comments should be responded to.

People should be out of their mind if they vote again in any election in Iran, so long as there is no guarantee that their votes actually mean anything, and so long as the candidates are vetted by the Guardian Council, and the system is such that the election can be rigged.

Same is true about me. Even if I could go to Iran - which I cannot, because of my writings and other activities - I would not vote ever again, so long as the present conditions prevail. If I did, at the minimum that would be utter disrespect to those who lost their lives over the past 9 months, not to mention many other things. Having lost my own loved ones to the IRI, that would also be treason to my beliefs, and insult to my family.

I practice what I preach. If I call the election rigged, why would I have any confidence in a system that did the rigging?

My belief regarding Iran is: Defend what must be defended, reject what must be rejected, and criticize what must be criticized. I am a scientist. I do not look at things in black and white. My world is not binary, 0 (them) and 1 (us). Defending Iran's rights to a nuclear program within the framework of the international agreements that it has signed is not only not defending the IRI, but defending Iran's national interests.

By the same token, demanding that the IRI be held accountable to its obligations regarding the international human rights agreements and conventions that it has signed is not only patriotic, but also the thing that any decent person should do.

Regarding the article by Eric Brills: he communicated his article with me for at least two months. I gave him many reasons and much evidence as to why the elections were rigged. In many cases his response was, "Oh, I did not know that," but at the end he posted the same nonsense that he had sent me at the very beginning. Typical of an arrogant American that knows it all and lectures everyone about what is right or what is not.

And, after he posted his nonsense, he had the nerve to ask me to read it, because "it is interesting!' Some nerves!

So, do not tell me that this is an objective analysis. You are not objective yourself, but calling that objective is beyond the pale.

Muhammad Sahimi / April 3, 2010 3:27 AM

"There is, of course, no need to detail here what happened in the 2009 presidential election. It was completely rigged."

Why not detail it, Dr. Sahimi? Others disagree.


Anonymous / April 3, 2010 9:15 AM

Dear NP,

I had promised the Moderator not to revisit this lousy topic, provided she could persuade you to drop it.

Authors who contribute articles to TB devote considerable time and resource to drafting their pieces. That in itself is worthy of esteem, irrespective of our opinion of the ideas they offer or their persons.

If TB publishes a piece, it means the editorial staff of this board consider it worthy of serious consideration and debate.

So if a reader posts a comment attacking a TB contributor's article, she should have the patience and acumen to critically analyze the ideas offered in the piece, and the discipline to stay within the limits of polite discourse.

But a poster who launches an ad hominem attack on the author, or for example, refers to the article itself as 'a load of crap', better have his facts straight, and also would be well-advised not to spell crap with a 'k'.

You aver that most posters are non-native English speakers and should therefore be held to a lax standard. This patronizing view fails to persuade me.

If they are so handicapped in English, then they probably have a meager grasp of the article they are savaging, and so must temper their urge to assault the author or her ideas with nonsense, obscenities or libel.

With spell-check features now included in most writing software, an insulting post filled with obvious typos indicates that the writer is mean-spirited, foul-mouthed, inattentive and lazy, a nasty combination that deserves my reproach.

By the way, English teacher, a couple of pointers for your next class: the word is 'parenthetical' not 'paranthetical', and your favorite adjective 'sodomistic' is not a word at all. To keep your repertoire of buggery terms intact, I suggest you consult the dictionary.

Finally, I encourage you to use the supposedly innocuous construct "mental masturbation" in your next legal case and watch the judge's reaction.

I intend to go on as before. It will take more than a pedantic 2nd rate Pahlavista English teacher to give me pause or 'put me in my place'.

Ali from Tehran / April 3, 2010 6:23 PM

Eric A. Brill who comes to the defence of Ahmadi-Nedjad's election, fails to address a fraudulent electoral system in which the Guardian Council handpicked by the Supreme Leader, vetoes the candidates!!! Neither does he see any fault with banning of legal demonstrations, closure of papers and websites, beating, arresting and killing of ordinary citizens and activists, and jailing almost all opposition figures with no charge or spurious charges. Who is Eric Brill trying to convince?! Prof Sahimi describes him as arrogant, I describe him as also totally clueless, morally lame, and intellectually lazy.

gorg O'meesh / April 4, 2010 12:52 AM

For those interested, there's a fairly lively debate on election related issues going on at http://www.raceforiran.com/video-of-the-leveretts-on-charlie-rose#comments.

Eric A. Brill / April 4, 2010 2:15 AM

"There is no independent news media that can act as a watchdog of the state and reveal the depth of corruption and political crimes that the hardliners have been committing."

Dear Dr. Sahimi,

Still, many in Iran are fortunate enought to have access to the internet. I think it is important to make Persian copies of your articles available on a blog to make it easier for people inside to know the truth.

Thank you.

Kia / April 4, 2010 9:19 AM

This debate on the subject is interesting:


Anonymous / April 4, 2010 6:31 PM

Ali - this is the last time I respond to you. Go ahead and keep correcting typos, if that is the best thing you can do with your time. Unlike you, I am not treating these blog posts (can you get any more informal?) as term papers or legal documents. So, I will misspelllll any words I want, and don't caaaaare if anyone else does. There are a host of names I can call you for doing this, but I won't. You, on the other hand, pulled the (all too predictable) move that so many Iranians love to use, and that Prof Sahimi criticized in a recent comment above: the binary name-calling nonsense. Because I made a point contrasting the Shah with the Mullahs, you called me a "2nd rate Pahlavist English teacher." What does that even mean? I haven't lived in Iran since I was 5, but now I'm a "Pahlavist"? High comedy. I take back what I said before - I'd rather not hear from you at all anymore, because with silly comments like that you have no credibility, and are no better than Fox News or your blessed Supreme Leader. Believe whatever you want - I'm IRI, or Pahalavist, your choice. But clearly you have made a joke of yourself and your credibility on these blogs. As promised, the last time I deal with this, because you really are a pain in my....neck (no profanity!).

np / April 6, 2010 12:34 AM

Dear NP,

I apologize for pushing on your sore spot, and thank you for avoiding profanity in your most recent post.

Ceasefire. Peace.

Ali from Tehran / April 6, 2010 8:36 AM

I dont agree with the comment of the editor, about the rigged elections and Khamenei, it happened before Khamenei , and it happened also during Khomeini, these are baseless to try to give any legitimacy to Khomeini. Khomeini also committed the worst crimes during his satanic power as supreme leader

GreenQuran / April 11, 2010 6:44 AM

Question for author:

Why is in you opinion strange that a candidate qualifying the university entrance exam opted for civil engineering?

Ali Mehranfar / May 1, 2010 1:56 PM