tehranbureau An independent source of news on Iran and the Iranian diaspora

The Isolation of Ahmadinejad

by MUHAMMAD SAHIMI in Los Angeles

30 Apr 2010 02:1844 Comments

Ahmadinejad's estrangement at home and abroad puts entire nation at risk.

Mahmoud-Ahmadinejad-and-R-005.jpg[ opinion ] One of the most important results of the rigged presidential election of June 12, 2009, and its bloody aftermath has been the almost total isolation of the government of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and its patrons, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and top commanders of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. This isolation has taken place at both the national and international levels.

Internally, even some of Ahmadinejad's most ardent supporters -- those who, when he was first elected president in 2005, were willing to go to any lengths to justify whatever he did -- are deserting him. As the vast scale of corruption, incompetence, and nepotism of his administration becomes clearer, some of the more honest fundamentalists have criticized Ahmadinejad and the men around him.

As but one example, consider the so-called Fatemi Street Fiasco. Right before the end of the Iranian year on March 20, there were several reports that some of the people closest to Ahmadinejad, most importantly First Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi, have been involved in embezzling as much as $35 million -- a large sum by any standards, and particularly for Iran.

The fiasco acquired its name because another apparent culprit was a high-ranking manager in a state-controlled insurance company with headquarters on Tehran's Fatemi Street. The judiciary ordered the arrest of a few people. Sadegh Larijani, the judiciary chief, reportedly asked Ahmadinejad to fire Rahimi, to no avail.

Who were the most outspoken about the fiasco and who named Rahimi as a central player in it? One was Ali Motahhari, a Tehran deputy to the Majles (parliament), brother-in-law of Speaker Ali Larijani, and son of the late Ayatollah Morteza Motahhari (1920-1979), a student and disciple of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Another was Elyas Naderan, also a Tehran Majles deputy and a former Revolutionary Guard commander. Naderan, a fundamentalist, was the liaison between the Guards and the Majles from 2000 to 2004, when the parliament was under Reformist control. Naderan and Motahhari were, and still are, strong critics of the Reformists, particular of former President Mohammad Khatami, Mir Hossein Mousavi, and Mehdi Karroubi. Both rejected the notion that last year's presidential election was rigged, although Motahhari has spoken about people's loss of trust in the political establishment.

An open letter to Sadegh Larijani, signed by 216 Majles deputies, argued that certain people in high governmental positions had more essential roles in the embezzlement than those who have been detained. Meanwhile, reports began circulating that the $35 million may have been used for buying votes for Ahmadinejad. The Lebanon-based Jaras website, which supports the Green Movement, detailed how government-controlled spending around the country supported Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi's claims that the government had purchased votes. The president visited Ayatollah Khamenei and, swearing on the Qu'ran, told him that all the funds in question were spent on official election business and not diverted for personal purposes. He then asked the Supreme Leader to order a halt to all inquiries into the corruption allegations against Rahimi. Apparently, he argued that the pursuit of such investigations would bring last year's elections into question and thus threaten the entire regime.

So what happened? All of a sudden, the critics fell silent. It seems that Khamenei issued a hokm-e hokoomati (order of the Supreme Leader) declaring that the embezzlement investigations should cease for the sake of maslahat-e nezaam (expediency of the political establishment). That was the end of the story. In the view of Tehran's fundamentalists, the expediency of the political establishment is far more important than the national interest in uprooting corruption. After all, the bloody crackdown and the suffocating repression that followed last year's elections were intended to protect the hardliners, not the nation. And this is only the tip of the iceberg.

One may ask why Ahmadinejad does not fire Rahimi and others such as the utterly corrupt Minister of Social Welfare Sadegh Mahsouli. After all, for someone whose public image rests on claims of piety and fealty to the interests of the poor, is it not better to get rid of those who are glaringly corrupt? Some attribute Ahmadinejad's reluctance to his stubbornness and loyalty to his friends. Some claim that he has to act tough because, otherwise, there will be an avalanche of such cases.

I do not concur with either of these proposed rationales. Ahmadinejad does not fire the malefactors because the hardliners are isolated. For the past two decades, they have been dividing the people into khodi and ghey-e khodi (insider and outsiders, or ours and theirs) -- in other words, those who are perceived as loyal to the political system and those who are not. Due to the growing repression, corruption, incompetence and the resulting protests against them, the circle of the khodis has been shrinking rapidly. Some of the most talented and competent people to serve the country since the 1979 Revolution have been dismissed, jailed, or forced into exile. Others have simply decided to leave the system in frustration or despair.

At the same time, the hardliners are terrified even by their own shadows. They know that they cannot win a free election. They know that the vast majority of the people despise them, either because of their corruption and economic incompetence, or the suffocating repression, or both. Even the high-ranking managers of the Voice and Visage of the Islamic Republic (the national radio and television network) recently conceded that since last year's election the broadcaster has lost close to 50 percent of its audience. Reports from Tehran and other cities indicated that, despite the network's best efforts for the Nowruz holidays (the celebration of the new Iranian year that began on March 21), people did not pay much attention to its programs. During the few trips that Ahmadinejad has dared to make around the country, the hardliners have had great difficulty in putting together even modest-sized crowds to "greet" him.

As a result, the hardliners are suspicious of everybody. Anyone who protests even the most minor issue is immediately labeled a foreign agent, a counterrevolutionary, an enemy of the national interest, a disturber of the public peace. Under such conditions, only those who have a direct stake in preserving the status quo are willing to work within the system, and their ranks are shrinking. After all, they must be worried about the future -- if not their own, then their children's. In sum, if Ahmadinejad were to fire those publicly known to be corrupt, he would have few people left to turn to. That is why the wrongdoers are constantly rotated through various posts.*

Even more dramatic has been the isolation of Ahmadinejad and his government at the international level. He has no allies to speak of. Not long ago, he wrote his second letter to President Barack Obama, but has received no response. As Mir Hossein Mousavi said of the hardliners, "They accuse us of being agents of foreign government, but they write letters to the same governments."

Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki recently went to Vienna in an attempt to convince the Austrian government, a nonpermanent member of the United Nations Security Council, to vote against the sanctions that the United States and its allies plan to propose. He was rebuffed. Bosnia, another nonpermanent Security Council member, which was supported by the Islamic Republic during the Balkan wars of the 1990s, gave the same response: It will vote against Iran.

Russia's position vis-à-vis sanctions have shifted in a similar direction. President Dmitri Medvedev has stated several times that Iran has acted irresponsibly toward the international community in regards to its nuclear program, and that there may be no alternative but more sanctions. As for China, it speaks from both sides of its mouth when it comes to the question of sanctions. It is not clear whether China supports or rejects them. That alone is very telling.

The Arab states of the Middle East would be willing to form a coalition with the United States against Iran, if America was willing to provide them with political cover -- some positive and definitive movement on the Israeli-Palestinian problem. The only thing that has so far saved the day for Ahmadinejad is Benjamin Netanyahu's intransigence over the construction of more illegal settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

The Ahmadinejad administration was recently dealt yet another blow. Its bid to win one of the four seats earmarked for Asia on the U.N. Human Rights Council (HRC) generated fierce opposition from human rights campaigners, both Iranian and non-Iranian. If the campaign had succeeded, it would have made a mockery of the HRC. To save face, the regime now says that it aims to become a member of an international women's rights body, an even more ludicrous proposition from a government that has for years systematically discriminated against women, not to mention all the female protesters that have been killed, raped, and jailed since last June's rigged elections.

The isolation of Ahmadinejad's government is also demonstrated by the status of the Iranian nuclear program. The official position has not changed since February 2003, when then President Khatami announced the existence of the Natanz uranium enrichment facility. But whereas Europe and even the George W. Bush administration made no dramatic moves against the Khatami administration, everything has changed since Ahmadinejad came to power in 2005. Many U.S. and Israeli officials have said repeatedly that he is the best thing that has happened for their attempts to isolate Iran. Many Israeli officials openly hoped that he would win last year's rigged election for just that reason.

Ahmadinejad's isolation was manifested in glaring fashion a few days ago when he visited Zimbabwe. The country's president, Robert Mugabe, is a reviled figure around the world. A former revolutionary and liberation fighter, he now reigns as a cruel despot who has bankrupted his country, once one of Africa's most prosperous. Indeed, his story is strikingly similar to that of some of Iran's ex-revolutionaries.

The fact that Ahmadinejad has to visit such a contemptuous figure in a vain attempt to demonstrate that he is not isolated is only half the tale. Zimbabwe's prime minister, Morgan Tsvangirai, the opposition leader who was essentially forced by South Africa to accept Mugabe as president, strongly protested Ahmadinejad's visit. His political party, Movement for Democratic Change, called the Iranian president a "war-monger, a trampler of human rights, an executioner." It expressed concern that his visit could affect the country's attempts to improve relations with the West. Can it get any worse for Ahmadinejad than to be insulted by the prime minister of a nation that he is visiting as a state guest?

From Zimbabwe, Ahmadinejad traveled to Uganda, another nonpermanent member of the Security Council. He tried to persuade President Yoweri Museveni to vote against the upcoming sanctions resolution, or at least abstain from it. As an inducement, he proposed to build an oil refinery in the country (Uganda has some significant, newly discovered oil reserves), even while Iran itself suffers from a refinery shortage. But Musevini's spokesman, Tamale Mirundi, declared that Uganda has not ruled out voting against Iran.

If Ahmadinejad's isolation held no potential for a lasting effect on the nation as a whole, it would not be so important. But the fact is that his isolation -- the consequence of electoral theft, violent crackdowns on peaceful protesters, rampant corruption, and the pursuit of a foreign policy simultaneously aimless and aggressive -- directly threatens Iran's national security and territorial integrity. If this isolation continues, if it deepens, who will support Iran if Israel or the United States launches a military attack? Who will stand up to argue that attacking Iran is destructive to the Iranian people with whom the West has declared its solidarity? Who will make plain the truth that a violent assault, or the imposition of crippling sanctions that will only hurt ordinary Iranians, would be the worst thing that could happen to the country's democratic movement?

I shudder to even contemplate such horrific scenarios. Will Ahmadinejad force us to witness them come true?

* Ayatollah Khamenei is similarly isolated. He does not have much support among the clerics. Only the most extremist and most corrupt seem to support him, an issue I will explore in detail in a forthcoming article.

Copyright © 2010 Tehran Bureau

SHAREtwitterfacebookSTUMBLEUPONbalatarin reddit digg del.icio.us


Muhammad, you're stretching things here.

The Islamic Republic of Iran has many supporters to its nuclear power program, including all members of the 118 Non-Aligned Movement. Also, the Group of 172 (outside the Group of 20) are all against sanctions. And in the UN Security Council, Brazil, Turkey and Lebanon are each on the side of Iran, and China and Russia continue to seek dialog.

Domestically, sure there is plenty to talk about. But isolation? That's an inaccurate assessment. And President Ahmadinejad continues to travel throughout the country- that can't be denied. The Islamic Republic form of governance continues to function, unimpeded. Is there domestic controversy? Yes. But it isn't extraordinary.

No, Muhammad, the sky is not falling on the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Pirouz / April 30, 2010 8:14 AM

While Mr. Sahimi attempt to make some good arguments he fails to make a coherent point. He correctly points to the fact that last years crackdown has negatively been used against Iran. And that the government of Iran is under considerable pressure, perhaps, even isolated in some ways.

He fails to be truthful about the events that have transpired. While he points to Iran's failure to convince some nations to vote against the UN resolution, the article omits Turkey and Brazil's clear position in favor of Iran. Such omisions simply devaluate his article and casts his writing as biased and lacking credibility. He incorrectly points to Russia's position as being principled. Russia has turned against Iran after it struck a nuclear deal with the US in exchange for its vote against Iran. The US paid a big price to get Russia's vote. More importantly, Iran has had 3 resolutions against her, and all of them except one, were voted unanimously against Iran, at a time that Iran was supposedly less isolated. If Iran is able to achieve a single "no" vote this time around it has done far better than the last three occasions when Iran only achieved Indonasia to abstain.

Mr. Sahimi is being inacurate if not outright dishonest when he compares the Khatami administration's stature with that of Ahmadinejad. It was Mr. Khatami, and not Mr. Ahmadinejad, that reversed Iran's position and broke the talks with the Europeans in 2005, 2 months before Ahmadinejad took office. It was Mr. Khatami who order resumption of nuclear activities after two fruitless years of remaining frozen. It fell to Ahmadinejad to re-ignite the program. Additionally, today, all opposition leaders are speak with the same voice about the program. They all were against this last October's offer for a nuclear swap with Iran. Ironically, the only person in favor of the swap deal was Mr. Ahmadinejad himself who was blocked by both the Supreme Leader and Mr. Larijani. Mr. Mousavi gave a speech rediculing the deal. Therefore, the assertion that Mr. Ahmadinejad's "hardline" positions have isolated Iran, is simply untrue as they are the national position.

Should we all assume Mr. Sahimi is naive? He acts suprised that once again the world stands against Iran and blames the current government for it. He invites us to shed tears for the drama he paints. He asks "who will support Iran?" and "who will stand up" for Iran? Did anyone among us thought any nation would stand up for Iran? Why does Mr. Sahimi assumes the same nations that stood with Saddam Hussein, gave him chemical weapons, and vetoes every resolution in the UN that would have condemned Sadddam's use of chemical weapons, would stand for Iran today? Doesn't Mr. Sahimi misses the point? Is it not the very fact that Iran expects that no one would stand up for Iran during an Israeli/American attack, that Iran needs NOT to compromise on its nuclear quest? Therefore, this so called "isolation" was expected, and had been in the calculation of the Iranian state. They, for reasons that evade Mr. Sahimi, believe all this is worth it if we are to keep Iran's integrity. It is time Mr. Sahimi stops his crockodile tears, and recognize that regardless of whether Iran possesses a nuclear program, or what kind of election Iran had last year, the Nations that support unelected and ruthless governments of Saudi Arabia and Egypt, are going to war with Iran regardless of what Ahmadi or Mousavi do or say.

Pouya / April 30, 2010 12:45 PM

Dear Dr Sahimi, I entirely agree with you that the corruption, electoral fraud and the violent crack down has only served to fracture national unity and made Iran vulnerable in the face of an attack from Israel and its allies. I am sure some would turn this argument on its head by claiming that calling the election fraudulent, the government illegitimate, and the massive protests that followed, have fractured Iran's national unity and made it vulnerable to attacks. And of course, there is no doubt about the external interference and ploys in Iran's domestic turmoil. Chalabi-like elements such as Sazegara, have not lost on this golden opportunity. This is unfortunately the double bind that those who care for Iran have to grapple with, that is, separating the opposition to and weakening of this self-serving regime from compromising Iran's interests, such as Iran's nuclear programme, the issue of sanctions, and resorting to Western powers to put pressure on Iran on issues of human rights! I know the latter is your own position, and as much as I deeply appreciate your scrutiny, precision and enlightening articles, I am still not convinced by the latter. Western powers will only EXPLOIT the abuse of human rights in Iran, as a lever for their own agenda dictated by US and Israel. Turning to the West and particularly the US to put pressure for human rights on Iran, will further the illusion that they have Iran's best interest at heart!! Thank you as always.

gorg O'meesh / April 30, 2010 1:21 PM

I too think this is a bit overdrawn, and I've much appreciated many of his previous commentaries. The point about Netanyahu being a godsend to A/N is on target -- but it's wildly overdrawn (and straight out of the WINEP playbook) to suggest that the "Arabs would join a US coalition against Iran." About Iran being isolated internationally, he might want to consider Brazil. AFAIK, Brazil has no intention of voting for more sanctions. (HC's recent visit there didn't much impress.)

With respect, I note Dr. Sahimi is about to write an essay on Khamenehi's presumed "isolation."

To that thesis, explain why no one in the Iranian opposition, either within or outside the current system, has dared to say anything about Obama's recent nuclear comments/threats towards Iran?

Could it be that Obama unwittingly enhanced Khamenehi's standing inside Iran? (e.g., increased his "legitimacy" on just this issue alone) I hope Sahimi will cover and comment on this issue.

escot / April 30, 2010 5:03 PM

Although the article highlights some relevant and important factual points, the implied conclusions are far less than convincing. In particular, it appears to me that the article, probably inadvertently, promotes the confounding of the very issues that a small number of countries (for example, some of the P5+1) are attempting to exploit in order to exert pressure on Iran.

The cause of personal liberties in Iran has suffered, particularly in the past few years. It is difficult to tease apart the elements of this repression that have been brought about by purely internally driven ideological forces from parts that are driven by a genuine fear of fomenting internal security concerns. Overreaction to security concerns is not an Iran only issue as those of us who follow the "real news" in the US do well to recall that the cause of personal liberties and the rule of law has suffered greatly in this country -- I do not need to enumerate the many violation.

However, the confounding of the Iran's internal security dilemma and overreaction with Iran's inalienable right to enrichment is precisely what the west has pushed to accomplish in the past year. Coincidental or planned, protests and the demand of Iranians for greater freedom has been used by western media and politicians to drum up support for their aims in Iran -- wholly unrelated to the aspirations of Iranians.

Ahmadinejad and his ilk have done much damage along many fronts and they may be amateurish in conducting foreign policy, but Iran is fully correct in pushing for its right to enrich and its right to be free from military threats. We are fully committed to demand that the right of Iranians under their own constitution and legal paradigm be fully respected. But the confounding of the two is troubling to me.

Jay / April 30, 2010 5:22 PM

Dear Dr. Sahimi,

I fully agree with your contention that Ahmadinejad has been a godsend for America and its Israeli patrons.

Without substantial change to its aggressive aims abroad, America managed to rebrand itself by the simple expedient of substituting the soft-spoken, genteel Obama for the crass and polarizing Bush. Iran was robbed of its own historic chance to rebrand last June.

But gorg O'meesh's point that even without Ahmadinejad, we may have eventually arrived at this point deserves serious consideration. (Don't forget that the U.S. press painted Mossadegh as a fanatical, irrational "wizard" burning with pure hatred for the West, so facts clearly don't matter much when Western prestige and solidarity are felt to be at stake.)

Don't you think Russian and Chinese strategists realize that American concessions -- on ballistic missile defence, Nato expansion, currency manipulation and Tibetan secessionism -- are only tactical reprieves, to be shamelessly rescinded after the U.S. gets its way on Iran?

My perception is that these two countries adhere to the "keep your enemies closer" dictum, engaging the U.S. in order to keep the Iran issue within the UNSC's purview, where they have a say, and trying to water down the sanction drafts as much they can.

Ali from Tehran / April 30, 2010 6:03 PM


Your point regarding Turkey and Brazil is well taken, with a caveat. Only Brazil is a non-permanent member of the UNSC at this point, and Lula da Silva, its President has had a long standing argument against the US for its intervention in Latin America. So, the exact reason for Lula's warmth toweard AN is not clear to me. In addition, Brazil itself has had some problems with the IAEA regarding its nuclear program: It is controlled by Brazil's navy. What does it mean when a nuclear program, supposedly peaceful, is officially run by a branch of the armed forces of a country?

Regarding who broke the negotiations with Europe, you are simply wrong. The European proposal to Iran, promised according to Sa'dabad and Paris agreements, was submitted to Iran in early August 2005, when Agmadinejad was taking office. I analyzed that in an article


and thus I am completely familiar with what happened. Khatami was simply a lame duck and without any influence at that point. But, you missed the point. Iran's fundamental position regarding its nuclear program has not changed, but the treatment that it receives by the US and Europe has changed since AN came into office. Why?

I believe that instead of trying to analyze ME, you should analyze what I write, setting aside words like "surprised," "naive," "dishonest," etc. Where did I say that I expect US and Europe stand with Iran? You miss the point again: The US and Europe will pursue what they believe they should. But, it is up to Iran and its government not to provide the excuse for what they want to do. Khatami did not, AN has.


Your point regarding Brazil is well taken, but see also my response to Pouya.

No, the possible Arab coalition against Iran has been talked about for years. Saudi Arabia is very hostile toward Iran, as are UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt. Qatar does have good relations, but it has also given France a permanent air base. Attributing what I said to WINEP is unfair, because I have made it clear how much I am against it as a lobby for Israel.


I have always defended Iran's right to having its own uranium enrichment program. As far as I know, I was the first in 2003 who dared to do so. And, I continue doing so because it is Iran's national right, not AN's or Khatami's right. see my articles here:


But, for a government there is a right way to go about it, and a wrong way.

Ali from Tehran and gorg O'Meesh:

Thank you both. I agree that we may have arrived at this point without AN because the US has always been after dismantling Iran's nuclear program, even though it was the US that pushed Iran to start it. But, even if we are to get there, a good government would do two things: (1) try to get the support of as many countries as possible, and (2) treat its citizens in a way that when the critical time comes, it can count on their support.

Muhammad Sahimi / April 30, 2010 7:32 PM

AN's visit to Zimbabwe and Uganda is for making deals to replenish the fast dwindling supply of Iran's uranium.

Analysis suggests that they have enough to produce a single bomb, which would need to be a risk, you need four or five in order to test your system. Or, they have to use it for power generation, not both. They started with just over 500 tons in early 2000's.

So, the visit to "vile" heads of states is two fold. To help establish him as a vile friend of the press, and to obtain more uranium to keep the nuclear work continuing.

Good article, but the conclusion is a bit sophomoric. No one would support Iran anyway, even if an angel was at the helm. The west needs energy at any cost. They will do anything to procure it. Such as demonizing the regime by giving lip service to the greens, which in turn allows the regime to crack down even more, and keep the oil flowing at cheap prices, but high enough to help middleman oil companies profit up the gazoo.

Hope more rational writers would not aid and abet the west in this endeavor. These people are product of a coup that replaced the ailing shah. If he had survived, the same story would have unfolded as a continuation of the previous 35 years.

Anonymous / April 30, 2010 9:12 PM

Dear Dr. Sahimi,

I share your belief that the cruel thwarting of the public will last June, and the atrocities that followed, have fractured Iranian society and badly depleted Iran's strength to withstand Western aggression.

And I fear that IRI's self-inflicted blow may even prove mortal for Iran's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

But as Jay warns above, we should take care not to confound issues.

You link Ahmadinejad's arrival in office causally with the subsequent breakdown in nuclear talks, the resumption of uranium enrichment, and the onset of UNSC sanctions.

But this linkage may be an example of a "post hoc, ergo propter hoc" fallacy, because whether by quirk of fate or due to European artifice, the waning days of the Khatami administration also coincided with the EU-3's silly offer to Iran.

According to Trita Parsi, writing in The Daily Star on November 8, 2005, "[only] two weeks earlier, on July 17, the Iranians [the Khatami administration] had pleaded with the EU-3 not to make such an offer since it would be rejected and cause a crisis."

Parsi further explains: "The West adamantly sought to portray its imagined superiority in early August by offering Tehran an empty deal it knew did not meet any of Iran's demands. Iran was requested to permanently give up its right to enrichment and make itself dependent on European fuel for its reactors. In return, the European Union-3 - Britain, France and Germany - offered unspecified non-permanent economic incentives and a repetition of the EU states'obligations under the UN charter, which were cast as 'security guarantees.'"

Perhaps if this crisis point had been reached a year earlier, Khatami's more polished team would have finessed it better than the bufoonish Ahmadinejad. But given that Khatami had suspended uranium enrichment on the naive premise that goodwill begets goodwill, the credibility of his approach was shattered by the European offer, and so it is debatable whether he could have acted differently than the incoming Ahmadinejad reactionaries.

It appears to me that August 2005 was destined to signal the end of amicability between Iran and the West, regardless of who was in power in Tehran.

Do you agree?

Ali from Tehran / April 30, 2010 10:04 PM

Dear Dr. Sahimi,

I am familiar with your writing, and I do recognize that you are among the supporters of Iran's right to enrich (as you point out -- an early supporter).

However, as Ali (from Tehran) has articulated, I believe that Ahmadinejad and his ilk as well as the irresponsible wave of repression in Iran is simply being used as a tool by certain countries to beat up on Iran. In public writing and speeches of senior officials of the current administration (and the previous one), there is ample and convincing material to strongly suggest that the core issue with Iran has never been and never will be "the enrichment issue". The US and allies would have not conceded on the enrichment issue even if Mousavi were the president today! In fact, I would hypothesize that even if Iran stopped enrichment under Mousavi (hypothetical scenario to make the point), other objections would have been raised to thwart Iran's path to ascendancy.

As you may guess, it is my view that the rise of Iran in the Persian Gulf and its potential as a major obstacle to American objectives in the region is at the core of the problem. From this viewpoint, the misdeeds of Ahmadinejad have little to do with the so-called nuclear confrontation -- whereas placing them side-by-side may lead one to draw such (incorrect) inferences.

Jay / April 30, 2010 10:45 PM

Ali from Tehran and Jay:

As I have said many times, and even in the present article, Iran's fundamental position has not changed since 2003, namely, Iran will not give up its enrichment program (even if Khatami or Mousavi were in office now), and quite frankly it should not, even though I believe it is not economical from a stand point of making fuels for reactors, but has a national security dimension to it.

However, the aggressive but aimless foreign policy of AN, together with his rhetoric regarding Israel and Holocaust and his desire to be "popular" in the Islamic streets, have created a dangerous situation for Iran. As I explained in a long article,


sending Iran's nuclear dossier to the UNSC was totally illegal, and the UNSC resolutions against Iran are most likely illegal too. But, it was AN and his policy that provided the background for convincing the Board of Governors of the IAEA that Iran is a "threat," which is sheer nonsense.

A European diplomat said a while ago regarding the 2005 proposal to Iran: "We gave them [Iran] a beautiful box of chocolate that was, however, empty." Now, whether they had designed it for August 2005, I do not know, because AN was not a known entity at that time.

I believe, and have stated previously in my articles, that the core issue is this: With a complete uranium enrichment program and facility, Iran can produce nuclear bombs on a short notice, just like Japan and many European countries, South Africa, Brazil, and possibly Argentina. But that possibility makes Iran unattackable. Iran becoming unattackable is not something that the Pentagon and Israel can accept. They want to be able to rule the Middle East.

But, once again, in my opinion Iran could pursue its fundamental rights with a much better regime in Tehran, and not be threatened so much.


As far as I am aware (but could be wrong), Zimbabwe does not have any significant uranium ore deposits, but Uganda does. But, it is again AN's naivete that makes him believe that he can get Uganda to sell Iran the ore; it won't.

So long as the present ruling group is in power in Iran and does not pursue a rational and sober policy devoid of rhetoric, and so long as the internal situation has not improved dramatically, no one will sell Iran uranium ore.

When I say "Who will support Iran," I am not naive to think that the US and its allies could do so. No, they will pursue what they believe is in their interests, regardless of who is in power in Tehran (aside from a Shah-type person who may have come to power through a coup).

Muhammad Sahimi / May 1, 2010 1:28 AM

You and most of Iranians living in LA are living in a virtual bubble you have created around yourself.

99% of Iranians have the same position as Ahmadinejad when it comes to right of enrichment.

This is Iran's legal right under NNPT. West wants to deny Iran her legal right while permit Israel's illegal possession of over 300 nukes.

Iranian all over the world will not fall for your propaganda or Fox News, CNN, AP, NPR, MSNBC or any other propaganda machine.

You are out of touch with reality in Iran.

Behnaz / May 1, 2010 7:29 AM

Mr. Sahimi

Your point regarding European offer to Iran is well taken, but it does not make my point wrong. I made the point that Khatami and the European talks broke down before Ahmadinejad came to power. That too is true. It does not stand against your point that Europe made an offer in August to the new administration in Iran. In fact, they had made a point that they were going to make that offer to Ahmadinejad since their talks with Khatami had come to a dead end. You fail to answer the question why did the Europeans not reach an agreement with a very accommoditing Khatami administration who had frozen the nuclear program for 2 years. You fail to recognize that Khatami became disillusioned with those negotiations long before he became a lame duck and before anyone knew Ahmadinejad would become president.

You are correct to point out that Ahamdinejad should be less provocative. However, My comments do go to the heart of your logic. You fail to recognize that a khatami administration accomplished no better than Ahmadinejad, despite his politeness and the lack of provocation you talk about. You miss the point because you refuse to accept the fact that nations who supplied Saddam with chemicals to kill 150000 Iranians do not value what the people of Iran. I am reminded of the day Ahmadinejad toured the Natanz facility, and Blair said "look what he is doing." Meaning, they could not even tolerate the Iranian president touring its own country without their approval. They seek obedience rather than a deal. What matters is that the Iranian president should rally the troops, not only in the nation but also in the region itself, as Ahmadinejad has done so succefully. The fact that you value what these nations say, and glance over the history they have had with Iran, is very surprising.

It is time you come to the conclusion that Iran has nothing in common with nations who want to dominate Iran and its neighborhood. And the road to disinfect the neighborhood is difficult and requires a nation that cares little what these nations think of Iranians. It is time to recognize that even if Khatami was president of Iran and he had advanced the nuclear program as Ahmadinejad has, we would still see Iran in the same position, with the distinction that Khatami would have failed to position Iran as the absolute oppostion to western domination of nuclear energy globally. A position that has lured Brazil and even the Turkish people toward Iran (and the non-aligned nations), despite your attempt to bring those nations disrepute.

America's interests are best served when this nation abandons these adventures and leaves the region to its own device. Leaving Iran to its own device will also ensure that the Iranian people will eventually take care of the Islamic aspect of their imperfect republic.

Finally, Mr. Sahimi, it is not becoming of you to call the president of a nation "AN." Ahmadinejad's record is clear for all to see. His reputation or disrepute come from his actions. Using a word like "AN" only diminishes the comments of a thoughtful writer. I may dissagree with you, but I enjoyed your engaging article, one that has been thought provoking. I don't agree that the outcome would have been any different if Ahmadinejad was more politically correct, but I do agree with you that Ahmadinejad needs NOT be so provocative at time, but should remain bold. I think if we could combine Khatami and Ahmadinejad into a single man, we would all be happier.

Pouya / May 1, 2010 9:18 AM

I think the article is self defeating. It is trying to project Ahmadinejad as a dictator while at the same time also portrays an image of Iran in which the system is not under control of the proposed dictator but rather under the control of a system that promotes objections to the government and with competition between different and separated centers of power. It looks more like a democracy than a dictatorship. A dictator does not have a final term in office like that of Ahmadinejad who is going to go anyways by 2013. Furthermore the article opens up with the words " rigged election ", which is to say the least highly debatable. Two international polls which are highly credible had predicted the exact result of election 3 weeks before the election day, and this questions if the elections was ever a rigged one. Isolation is not also a problem for government of Iran. Iran has been isolated many times during its history, whether it was during operation Ajax-1 in 1953 or during Iran-Iraq war. Iran always came out stronger than before out of every isolation. I do not see how a nation which has the largest combined hydrocarbon energy reserves (oil and gas combined) of the world, even larger than Saudi Arabia and Russian which incidentally is also the only country with capability to increase its output of energy manifold and satisfy the global energy demand, can ever be isolated. In fact if we go by evidence and facts and not by gossip and bias, Iran has been becoming more and more powerful. Today Iran is basically running Iraq and Lebanon. Its sphere of influence is becoming bigger and bigger with people from Syria and Turkey to Venezuella and Bolivia looking up to it. Not to mention that Iran has the world's fastest growth rate in science and technology. These are hardly compatible with the image of an isolated dictatorial image that this article tries to imply. The fact is Iran is progressing faster than any body could have anticipated.

Ali Mehranfar / May 1, 2010 1:52 PM

It must be springtime for Khamenei. No he is not a dictator at all. Ahmadinijads term is up in 2013 when anyone could become president possibly even Moussavi. The whole Nuclear issue leaves me cold as does the terms RealPolitik and National Security in the name of which many human rights aberrations have taken place in the past. Iranians are concerned with illegal enrichment but not of Nuclear kind.

pirooz / May 1, 2010 5:38 PM


If you read the article whose link I gave you, you will see that I analyzed the problem along the way you are talking about. I am not in major disagreement with you. Read the article


You will see that I consider sending Iran's nuclear dossier to the UNSC as illegal, and the UNSC Resolutions against Iran to be most likely illegal as well. I do not expect the US or Europe to support Iran's position. But, the fact is, as long as Khatami was in office, they did not dare to take the illegal action.

You do have a point about why Europe and Khatami could not reach an agreement. As explained in that article, it was because the European perceived Iran to be in a weak position, because US forces had surrounded Iran. And, I agree that Khatami himself was disillusioned with the negotiations.

But, once again, it is Ahmadinejad and his aggressive but aimless policy, plus the bloody internal crackdown and the suffocating repression that have put him, his regime, and Iran in this position. The US and Europe will do what they believe they should. It is up to us to also adjust our tactics and strategy to respond.

Regarding Ahmadinejad: I do not recognize him as Iran's president, even if the rest of the world does, because I believe his second term is illegitimate. As for using AN, I did not mean it to be insulting, although I agree with you that I should use his full name in order to avoid the impression that you got.


First of all, I support Iran's right to have the complete fuel cycle for nuclear reactors. I was the first person in 2003 who publicly defended it and in a series of articles explained everything. To this date, I have not changed my mind. I am only concerned about the consequences of Ahmadinejad's policy that, in my view, may even destroy Iran's right.

Second, although I fully support Iran's right, I also do not make sweeping statement like yours that 99% of people in Iran support this. I simply do not know, because there is no way to know.

Ali Mehranfar:

My position regarding the legitimacy of the election has been made amply clear. No need to rehash.

If you believe that by having a relation with the likes of Mugabe Iran is not isolated, so be it. But, take Iran's oil and natural gas reserves. Where is the foreign investment that Iran needs to develop the fields? Every major European oil company signed agreements with Iran during the Khatami years to investment in Iran's oil and gas industry. Japan was going to develop Iran's largest oil field, but all of them pulled out, at least partly due to Ahmadinejad's policy.

The Khatami administration and its excellent oil minister, Bijan Zanganeh, developed the Asalouyeh project for the giant South Pars gas field. It created 60,000 excellent jobs, and was going to bring in $30 billion/year in income. Today, Asalouyeh project is in almost total ruin. Only 6000 jobs are still there, no one invests in it, and Qatar is getting the natural gas out.

That is what I call isolation.

But, no one can deny

Muhammad Sahimi / May 1, 2010 7:36 PM

It is amazing how much time western countries spend thinking about Iran. The country is your typical authoritarian ruled backwards country. The Iranian military is a joke. They will not get nuclear capability for another 10 years. Even then they have no delivery system, not even their toy rockets they fire off from time to time. The vast majority of the money the Iranian government steals from it's people is going right back to suppress it's people.
I guess it's just proof of what propaganda can do. It doesn't matter what rediculious claims a government will make. Others will actually take it seriously.

Muhammad billy bob / May 1, 2010 8:09 PM

Good to see so much informed commentary & good natured discussion. I think where Dr Sahimi sees the glass as half empty many others see it as at least half full and rising. Perhaps the only damaging comments made by Ahmedinejad were the ones made on Israel and the holocaust which I later understood to have been misquoted. However his bold and courageous speeches at the UN have actually emboldened and given hope to the oppressed populations of the developing world which has and is the IR's natural constituency of influence. It is interesting to note how little space was given in the dominant media and indeed the patriotic Iranian opposition towards Obama's stated threat to nuke Iran if in the US opinion it did not comply with the NPT. There was no condemnation of this that I have come across by any internation politician or statesman including the UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon or by any human rights organisations. I believe that Iran enjoys widespread moral public support internationally but has probably very few sincere friends when push comes to shove. This is entirely due to the awe that US power causes amongst the ruling classes of the 'South' and their rightful fear of what the extremists in the Pentagon and in Israel are capable of. As Madeline Albright once commented when it was pointed out to her that a UN report had attributed 500,000 deaths of Iraqi children due to the sanctions policy, she simply dismissed that as necessary 'collateral damage'. We are dealing with the kind of psycopathic individuals who would destroy a country or nation, as historically they have done with the African slaves, decimation of Indians in N America, infliction of numerous wars on others as with Iraq-Iran war. Perhaps it is time that the gloves come off for the challenge that the march of history has actually thrown at IRI's doorstep for through that may lie the foundation of a more just world order. This will not come without pain & suffering as the very force of creation is both simultaneously destructive and creative until new life of spring has broken through. In any case very seriously Iran should start a programme of constructing bunkers which are both nuclear and earthquake proof then the hedonists in Tehran can continue enjoying their parties with gay abandon without hopefully fear of Divine retribution. After all the Prophet did say tie your camel first then trust in God. AN by going to NY and lobbying all members of the UNSC is seeking to carry out his hojjah as IRI's president, this is greatly admirable & he deserves praise for that. The rest we should leave upto God.

rezvan / May 2, 2010 12:11 AM

"Who will make plain the truth that a violent assault, or the imposition of crippling sanctions that will only hurt ordinary Iranians, would be the worst thing that could happen to the country's democratic movement?"

What democratic movement?

Your ideal Islamist Mousavi cannot lead it. He is not after an end to the Barbaric Republic. He is only mad because the chosen one gave the promised job to someone else.

Rafsanjani? How could he account for all the money he and his family have looted from the Iranian people? He is not respected.

Karubi, Khatami? They are a thing of the past.

The Green movement cannot succeed because it has no leadership, central planning, direction ...... and for a good reason. It was never designed to bring down the Barbaric government, but to support a soft change against the murderers and rapist torturers running it. A democratic Islam. Now that is a laugh and it was done with the blessing of the United States. Sure, their interest is best served to keep Iran Islamic.

There is only one logical solution to this madness. The commitment of the Barbaric Republic to the garbage of history in its entirety and a follow up referendum in which the people of Iran can pick the type of the government of their choosing as it is done in any civilized society.

Stay focused Iran, victory is at hand.

Niloofar / May 2, 2010 10:24 AM

Who are you to tell consenting adults how to live? Is it your superstitious belief in a medivel warlord who proclaimed himself to be a "prophet" of a god? That "prophet" led a much more hedonistic lifestyle than any US or Iranian citizen does today.
As for your other claims...#1) you could build all the bunkers you want and the US still has weapons that will penetrate them. #2)No "developing countries" is looking to Iran as a cure to their ills. Liberty, socially and economically is the cure to their ills. And the people of "developing countries" know this. So do their dictators, who must repress liberty at all costs to maintain their power and wealth and lifestyle. #3)Obama never threatend to nuke Iran. It has been the stated US government policy to never confirm nor deny any intentions regarding use of nuclear weapons. This is not a threat as the US government has not nuked anyone in 65 years and is currently reducing their nuclear arms. #4)The UN report of the '90's that 500,000 childern died because of sanctions is a total red herring and was an obviously biased, politically motivated lie. The simple numbers alone do not make sense. Iraq is a country of 30 million people. Of which you have to figure maybe 1 million are childern. And half of those died in that 5-8 year period? Of course this UN document provides absolutely no proof or accrediation whatsoever.#5) you are comparing what the US government did 150 years ago to what the Iranian government is doing today? Does the Iranian government have the same policies as it did 150 years ago? Oh yeah, Iran didn't have an idependent government 150 years ago, as it was a part of the Ottoman Empire. ...
After all these inaccuraries what your post is really about is deflecting critisism of an oppressive tyranical government by blaming someone else for their behavior. Regardless of the US governments actions, the Iranian government and all it's hinchmen are criminals and murderers of it's own people.

Muhammad billy bob / May 2, 2010 3:51 PM

According to the Billy Bob above, only 3 percent of Iraqis could be classified as children and "Iran didn't have an idependent government 150 years ago, as it was part of the Ottoman Empire."

Does one need to respond to such idiot-provocateurs?

Ali from Tehran / May 2, 2010 6:21 PM

Idiot-provocatuer? I prefer CIA operative, as all Iranian government officals would claim me to be if I were anywhere near their country.
Fact is that almost all americans could care less about Iran or Iranians. It is a country governed by superstitious people, who use some of their peoples' unrational beliefs in an anceint authoritarian to oppress it's peoples' human rights.

muhamad billy bob / May 2, 2010 9:55 PM

Billy Bob,

As part of an affirmative-action program, the CIA is now hiring ill-educated dyslexics with low IQ for field work in the Ottoman Empire.

Hurry, before the quota is filled!

Ali from Tehran / May 2, 2010 10:56 PM

Ali from somewhere other than Iran,

I second that motion.


I almost fell off my chair.

muhamad billy bob dada,
Iranians are way tooooo smart for you. Try Jpost's Comic page called the 'Iranian Threat. You will find lots of sympathizers over there at your level of intellect. You will feel at home. Go on.

Niloofar / May 3, 2010 2:10 AM

Mr. Sahimi

"it is up to us to adjust our tactics and strategies to respond." Well said. You're right, at least Ahmadinejad could not be used to justify the actions of these warmongers and their Iranian supporters who attack you.

Pouya / May 3, 2010 5:34 AM

Muhamad billy bob

you may have some valid observation in you own silly ways. But those superstitions live in every nation.

But let me take this opportunity and sound the alarms on what is happening to our own America. What do you call the "Patriot Act." Every email you and write, every phone call you and I are making, are all being monitored. I don't see the outrage except with Ron Paul and his supporters. Where do you think this country is headed when trillions have been taken by corporate america and then our government bails them up by giving trillions more. Where do you think where we are headed when the only solution allowed to discuss on television is to cut Medicare and Social Security, the only programs that are guaranteed to benefit the average joe. And there is no discussion of the 1 trillion dollar millitary expenditures, and half a trillion dollar that is the expenditures for Homeland Security dpt, FBI, and the CIA. Where are we headed with those laws and the growing power of those agencies without any checks and blances. And if there is another attack on America, which agencies are going to use that for greater budgets? Again, where are we headed?
I tell you where, an "authoritarian" regime set to "oppress its peoples' human rights." I am sad to say. Let's not trash Iranians for fighting a struggle that we should be fighting now.

pouya / May 3, 2010 5:53 AM

Iran is a joke. They have tons of crude oil, but don't have any refineries to produce gas. They want to ban commerical flights that use the word gulf instead of persian gulf. God forbid someone use Arabian gulf. They make a big show of firing off toy rockets like I had when I was 10. Hold "military" exercises with speed boats that carry WWII quality arms. I could go on and on....Yeah. Iranians are way toooooo smart.

muhammad billy bob / May 3, 2010 6:36 AM

I'm really glad that mr. Ahmadinejad finds himself isolated. He ought to be! He became my favourite president after I saw an enterview from the time before he was elected president in 2005. It was about the iranian boys and girls and the pesident- to-be said that he won't imlply any restrictions on the way they look or sth like that. He said: "Ma ba javanha kari nadarim!"

VICTOR / May 3, 2010 5:55 PM

Pouya, I agree that every nation does have it's superstitious religions. But it is an extreme few that allow such superstitions to control every aspect of it's public lives.
I also agree with you that the US is quite authoritarian. But there are degrees of authoritariaism. I would strongly disagree that ss and medicare are for the average joe. They are for those that are over 65. Those that only paid 3% of income, while those today are paying 13%. I very much like Ron Paul, didn't vote for him as I am a Libertarian and voted for Barr.
What I dislike most of this discussion is the apologists for the Iranian regime. They remind me very much of the "love it or leave it" crowd in the US. They are trying to defelct criticism of the quite awful deeds of the Iranian government by saying basically" everyone does it, and the US made us do it".And that's just nonsense. Very few countries are as repressive as Iran, and the US, for the most part, could care less.

muhammad billy bob / May 3, 2010 7:29 PM

Dear M. billy bob,

Can you articulate further on your statement regarding ""the apologists for the Iranian regime"? I can see comments from one individual that can be interpreted in the context you are referring to, but even these comments have an alternative interpretation -- and, then again this one person does not qualify for the plural "apologists".

Although I could give consideration to the idea of "degrees of authoritarianism", there are no excuses for mistreating other human beings -- there are no degrees of inhumanity. In this context, Iranian and the US authorities are guilty of abuse of other human beings in the name of national security. This is not a statement of apology for either state -- rather, it is reflective of the sad state of affairs. It also points out that you and I as individuals are credible to speak regarding the atrocities of these governments but neither the US government apparatus nor the Iranian government apparatus can be viewed as credible or unbiased sources to pass judgment. Note also that I did not lump together Iran and Iranians, or US government and Americans.

From your comments, and giving the benefit of the doubt, I will assume that your statement of degree of authoritarianism did not mean to suggest that since we (US) are less authoritarian , ipso facto, we are allowed to abuse other human beings as long as we don't do it too hard! Instead, I take your comment to refer to the practical "gray scales" of real life.

I suggest that you offer the same degree of "benefit of doubt" to other people in this forum.

Jay / May 3, 2010 10:59 PM


First I will address "degrees of authoritarianism". Clearly, every state in the world today is to some degree or another authoritarian. For example, the chinese government steals it's peoples' money then uses that money to suppress it's own population with extreme measures against it's own people who may protest it's government policies. Including long prison terms and executions. Meanwhile, you have a country such as Norway. Norway's government will steal it's people's money and use it on which ever program is most popular to the majority. It is definately authoritarian to steal a portion a humans' labor. But in Norway a person is allowed to protest an injustice and is allowed to participate in a peaceful manner to try to change government policies or the government itself. Without fear of beatings or killings from basij thugs.
Which system is more humane? Obviously, it is that of Norway. Norway is still oppressing it's people. But their people are not physically threatened and have no fear that they're going to be picked up any day and tortured into a confession and long prison term or a bullet in the back of the head.
Both governments are authoritarian and inhumane. But to vastly different degrees.
As far as Iranian regime apologists on this forum....pirooz writes" No he is not a dictator at all.....up in 2013. when anyone could become president......." rezvan writes" his bold and courages speeches at the UN have actually emboldened and given hope to the oppressed....." Ali Mehranfar writes" It looks more like a democrarcy than a dictatorship....." There are many more examples from other posts from this site, but I don't have the time or care enough to copy them here.
Finally, my anti Iranian government statements seem to have been taken as a support for US military action against Iran. Nothing could be further from the truth. I firmly believe in Washingtons' statement to not get involved in foreign entanglements. Irans messed up politics and society are for Iranians to solve and deal with. I am just an observer trying to shed a little reality to those on this site. Iran is country which is seriously dysfunctional. Religious freedom is a good thing, and Islam is a religion which takes it's values from the 600's warlord who believed it was exceptable to oppress women and who's main goal in life was to aquire as much power of others' lives as possible. Mostly with violence and threats of violence. And the Modern Iranian government is entirely saturated with these beliefs.

muhammad billy bob / May 4, 2010 5:08 AM

M. Billy Bob,

By the way I get a kick out of your chosen name. Back to the discussion. There is nothing in your last comments that I disagree with.

But let's go to your earlier comments about Iran's lack of refineries because it can be a very illuminating point. There is a very clear attempt to caricaturize Iran in anyway possible,and it has been very successful so far. It is not true that Iran is an oil rich nation that imports its gasoline. That's too simplistic. Iran went through an incredible economic growth and diversification in the past 10 years, and its consumption of gasoline outpaced its production. Iran went from producing less the 100k cars per year to over 1 million/yr, as one example. It is no different than the US, one of the world largest possessor of natural gas, now imports liquified gas. Let's not forget that the US is one of the world largest producers of oil too. But Iran's importation of gasoling goes to the heart of why western nations are against Iran. If Iran's development were to be duplicated in Saudi Arabia and other backward oil exporting nations, they would all become imperters of oil products like Iran and would hold their sale of petrolium abroad. Iran readily acknowledges that it will stop being an oil exporter in 12 years if it does not find an alternative source of energy. You now understand why Iran is keen on nuclear energy and does not want to be dependent on foreign nations.

The issues I raised above have nothing to do with your correct analysis that Iran is an authoritarian regime and deserves to be pointed as such. But western emphatuation with Iran, their obsession with Iran's demise are based on the fundamental fear that Iran and others who follow her, will become importers of oil products.

Pouya / May 4, 2010 8:36 AM

You left out what is probably the main reason for Iran's increase in gasoline consumption.
The extreme subsidizing of gasoline by the Iran government, as well as the nationalization of oil production.
I understand Iran or anyone elses desire for nuclear power plant. I think it's been 30 some odd years since a nuclear power plant has been built in the US, and it doesn't look like any will be built here anytime soon. Irrational fears over safety have stopped them. Btw, my parents live 3 minutes away from a nuclear power plant, and I have absolutely no concern for their safety.

muhammad billy bob / May 4, 2010 6:38 PM

As far Iran weponizing nuclear material....I again think that's their decision to make.

But it would be a very foolish decision to make. Israel's military would pummel Iran if it ever did get close to a nuclear weapon. And the current state of Iran's military would be helpless to prevent this.

Another point is that nuclear weapons are extremely inefficient weapons. They are weapons that are the equivelent to mass carpet bombing with the added bonus of radiation which makes follow up attacks by land forces unpratical. Which is the primary reason why the US and other nations are eliminating as many nuclear arms as possible. They are not doing so out of humanitarian reason. They are doing so out of praticality.

muhammad billy bob / May 4, 2010 6:56 PM

Dear Pouya,

حالا که ممدخان بیل کلنگی را درگیر بحث عمیق جامعه شناسی تطبیقی کردی فکر نمی کنم دیگه به این راحتی از فیض حضورش محروم شویم

Ali from Tehran / May 5, 2010 3:52 AM

M. Billy Bob,

again no dissagreements. I like to point out that no Iranian president has dared to cut the subsidies because of the cheap oil it provided for consumption. Again there, we see Ahmadinejad has stepped up and has asked for $40 billion of cuts in these subsidies. He also placed limitations in consumption to curb demand, but was rediculed by western press for "an oil rich nation is rationing gasoline." That's my point, that Iran is being caricaturized. We can criticize Ahmadinejad for very good reasons, but one cannot deny his reforms, his willingness to deal with tough issues, which will always be contravertial. He has "cojones." I can go through the lists of his reforms.
I believe that it is a mistake for any nation to develop nuclear energy. What are we all going to do with the spent fuel? I like America' record on this issue, and I hope they never build another plant.
On your last comments about "weaponizing ..." well you just made the argument Iran itself has been making for why the time for nuclear bomb has passed and that is one of two reasons they don't want it. The other being religious. It just does not get the attention it deserves. Ironically, that is exactly the argument (and I apologize to you for the comparison) Ahmadinejad has made repeatedly.

As far as Israel is concerned, I want Israel to exist for one reason, not because they have a historic right to exist, but rather removing 3 million Jewish citiczens would be just as wrong as denying palestinians a homeland. But I don't think they are millitarily all that. Hezbollah proved what we all have suspected, Israel has fought with worthless millitaries all of its existence and believed its own propaganda. Hez. has repeatedly delivered them battlefield defeats since 1980's. And they are just a militia, no airforce, no navy, no high tech military systems, and no satellites. Let's not even talk about last year's embarassing Gaza adventure.

These are the reason's why I think this nation, America, will be served well to distance itself from Iraeli adventures (not necessarily abandon them), and follow and American foreign policy. Instead we are in deep debt and more on the way for no returns in sight.

Pouya / May 5, 2010 8:38 AM

Ali from Tehran

That's funny. You may be right, but I don't mind. It's all good.

Pouya / May 5, 2010 8:40 AM


Everytime I see Ahmadinejad's name I think of the Samir character in "Office Space". "Nahad..., Naji.....uh..not going to work here anymore.....".

Anyway, there's a fine line between having cajones and being loco. I don't think the western media is caricatcurizing Ahmadinejad and Iran.I think it is much more like they are over simplifing.As they do with most issues. But Ahmadinejad does a very good job of caricatcurizing himself. And so does Khamenei. The fear of westerners is that a crazy person will obtain a nuke and kill a half a million people to ensure their place in "heaven". Ahmadinejad is not really helping himself by allaying these worries. Sure on one day he will say he does not want nuclear weapons. But on the next he'll say western countries are of the devil.

As far as your assesment of the Israeli- Hezbollah, and Gaza fights, I think you are quite wrong. In these conflicts Isreal was/is trying occupy territory. In the opening phases of these conflicts Israel quite easily destroyed any target it wished. Just as with the US in Iraq,it was only when they attempted to occupy and govern these areas that any significant casualties occurred. In any attack on Iran, Israel will not be concerned with occupation,governance or casulaties. Israel has a very sophisticated military. They have modern aircraft with accurate missles on them. They have subs with missle launch capability, they have accurate intermediate range missles, all of which would be used in a life-or-death fight. Compare this with Iran's military. Iran's military is basically that of a WWII quality. They have missles, but they are not accurate and will probably land on an apartment complex of palestinians.They have AA but so outdated they may shoot down 1/2 of 1% aircraft. etc.

As far as Israel as a state.......They are there. And as long as they are, there millions of muslims that will be upset.(probably the main reason most americans like Israel).Anything that pisses off nut jobs like Khamenei so much can't be all that bad.

muhammad billy bob / May 5, 2010 10:01 PM

Dear M. billy bob,

I thank you for engaging everyone and helping us appreciate the moral clarity with which you make your calls. Although I did say that "I could give consideration to the idea of "degrees of authoritarianism"", meaning that one can make plausible arguments in that regard, I am sure that you recognize that the clarity one exercises in such matters is rather subjective. For example, on the one hand you seem to recognize that the question of authoritarianism is on a sliding scale (example of Norway) and dependent on what values one chooses to judge. On the other hand, you seem to imply that the selection of the "correct" set of values as a basis of comparison is not an exercise of subjective choice -- you suggest this by labeling people who use an alternative basis of judgment for their evaluation as being an apologist. To give you some examples of why I find such subjective measures questionable in terms of moral authority, let me start by suggesting a visit to "http://www.freeexistence.org/freedom.shtml". This site will allow you to define your criteria for freedom and then see the scores. The scores are specified by an organization that if you read you will find out is at a minimum is unfriendly to Iran. However, as an example, if you specify limited government and business freedom as crucial factors in your definition of freedom and ignore all other factors, you will find out that Iran will be ranked ahead of the US!!

For another illustration, let me reach for an example in our own backyard. During the Bush years and in reference to complaints from the administration about heavy Democratic criticism, Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter proclaimed "We’re seeing clearly now that Bush thought 9/11 gave him license to act like a dictator...". The same Mr. Alter, speaking recently on Countdown with Keith Olbermann, lamented that the war on terror is now being harmed by Republicans who were so harsh as to call Obama soft on terror. Alter further boasted that Obama's "killed twice as many" terrorists as Bush. One could call Mr. Alter an apologist for Obama because of this shift in subjective moral judgment based on circumstances. Alternatively, one could say that Mr. Alter was not using the same criteria for judgment because it was not appropriate under the circumstances.

For another example, let's consider Glenn Greenwald's shocking report on the newly-released Yoo Memos:

"The essence of this document was to declare that George Bush had the authority (a) to deploy the U.S. military inside the U.S., (b) directed at foreign nationals and U.S. citizens alike; (c) unconstrained by any Constitutional limits, including those of the First, Fourth and Fifth Amendments. It was nothing less than an explicit decree that, when it comes to Presidential power, the Bill of Rights was suspended, even on U.S. soil and as applied to U.S. citizens. And it wasn't only a decree that existed in theory; this secret proclamation that the Fourth Amendment was inapplicable to what the document calls "domestic military operations" was, among other things, the basis on which Bush ordered the NSA, an arm of the U.S. military, to turn inwards and begin spying -- in secret and with no oversight -- on the electronic communications (telephone calls and emails) of U.S. citizens on U.S. soil."

Greenwald concludes that we in the US were living in a dictatorship during Bush years. Since most of these orders, laws, legal frameworks are still in force, would Greenwald be willing to say today that we continue to live in a dictatorship?

As you can see, on these subjective matters judgments could become rather fuzzy - absent moral clarity. We can agree that no individual, organization, or country, should systematically practice the use of force on its people, to make them suffer indignities, to subject them to pain and inhumanity. And, the fact that a number of governments do it (to various extents) is wrong regardless of their justification and the extents they do it. However, on this basis, no government has moral authority! And, in fact, no organized religion has any moral authority -- singling out Islam, I am sure, was rather an illustrative point by you.

I don't find it easy to label people as "apologists". Labeling them may make me feel good - but, it does not contribute to my understanding. I may disagree with their assessment because I choose a different criteria to evaluate -- but, I believe that one learns the most from dissenting voices!

My apologies for the long response and the possible typos.

Jay / May 6, 2010 6:45 PM

M. Billy Bob

Well, we disagree there.

Let's just take this week. Ahmadinejad came to UN and made a full speech, talked to charlie rose and stefenopolis on ABC. If you watched the interviews, if you watched cspan, he made extremely good points. But he was made out to be crazed or not covered at all.

Let's be frank, this website is dedicated to Iran issues and yet has completely ignored Ahmadinejad's trip. In PBS.org's "headlines" the article dedicated to his trip can only be described as a joke. This is no simplification, this is organized character assassination.

PBS's coverage of this news is an embarassment!

If you go to Huffington there was not coverage, but full of articles to make fun of him. Again, this is no simplification. We are heading to war, and the media, once more, is playing its role to get us there. PBS is part of it.

Pouya / May 7, 2010 8:58 AM


You're being a bit alarmist. We're not heading to war. I know it's easy to get concerned, with the recent US-Iraq debacle. But there are so many different situations and variables involved in the current US-Iran relations. Top of the lists is the US excutive branch. No Cheney, no Bush, no Rumsfeld, etc., etc. Along with many, many other factors, there will be no US-Iran war.

The US media's lack of coverage to Ahmadinejad's visit has more do to with the fact that americans simply do not care (another reason no war). Rather than some attempt to caracaturize Ahmadinejad as a freak. Americans are far more interested in a college student that kills his ex-girlfriend. And the american media gives them what they want.The Huffington report has a definate agenda (that of an extreme minority). It only represents the opinions of that small segment of americans. And everyone reading it knows this. I have lots of problems with US media, but it's incompetence not conspiracy. Believe me, my political viewpoint is rarely represtented in the US media, and when it is it is scoffed at and dismissed as inpractical, crazy, non mainstream.

Ahmadinejad does make good points to one audiance, while he makes an entirely different statement to another audiance. That's probably what worries western governments most. To western audiances he is anti violence. To the revolutionary guard he wants to wipe out countries.
I'm of the actions speak louder than words school. Anyone who takes his own countrymens' and countrywomens' lives with so little care, would probably not mind killing those from other countries.

muhammad billy bob / May 7, 2010 8:47 PM

I agree that "labeling" others beliefs is an ineffecient, and perhaps unfair, way to simplify complex individuals thinking into a simple pharse that most often is ambiguious. But (there's always the but) this is an internet discussion board, and not a forum for phd dissertations and thousand page books that can, and have been written on this subject. There is just not enough space here for that. Believe me, I've been on the wrong side of such labeling.
I have been very unfairly labeled as an extreme rightist, or extreme conservative or extreme leftist.All of which couldn't be further from the truth. The scoring on the freeexistence web site is very similar to that on lp.og, the US Libertarian party site. Both are an attempt to dispell the nonsense of the left-right political spectrum. On the left-right spectrum a communist and a nationalist socialist would be on total opposite sides of the spectrum. Whereas, in reality they have very, very similar beliefs.

In an earlier post, I described an Iranian regime apologist as someone who "basically says that everyone else does it, and the US made us do it". I stand by this. If you wish to bash and critize the US government, I will gladly join in on that. I am no fan. There are thousands of websites that are dedicated to such thought.
But let's look at what that really has to do with the Iranian regime. The Iranian regime and it's apologists use the US as an excuse to oppress it's own civilians. Sure, the US government has made this easy for the Iranian government. But is that really an excuse for not looking at the realities? Is there any logical reason to believe the US is going to attack Iran? Obviously the Iranian government doesn't think so. Otherwise they would prepare for such an attack. Instead, what the Iranian government is preparing for is an uprising of it's own people (which, of course, they'll blame on "US agents"). The Iranian government is preparing for insignificant nusance attacks against international shipping in the Arabian gulf. They are supplying the nusance and repressive militias of Iraq, Lebanon, and Gaza. Are these acts of a government trying to protect it's populace? I think not. There are so many, many other ways they could spend the money they've stolen from their citizens. Things that would actually defend them, rather than try to antagonize other nations.

muhammad billy bob / May 7, 2010 10:42 PM

Muhammad Sahimi;

In your response to me you were sounding more like a politician from a third world country than a writer. First of all election was never rigged as all the polls including the ones conducted by American institutes proved it. What is wrong with Mugabe? Should Iran "sanction" Zimbabwe, just because he is their leader? You do not seem rational. By the way the same Mugabe had fought Apartheid South Africa while all western countries were supporting the fascists of South Africa in 1980s. You better check with Nelson Mandela on that one. The last time I checked Asoulieh was running and came online by the order of Ahamdinejad. 60,000 jobs? yeah they are there. Do not worry about that. Iran has increased its petrochemical production more under Ahmadinejad than during the entire presidencies of Rafsanjani and Khatami combined. Remember its childish to say Khatami wanted to do this or that and in the end he did not anyways. Ahmadinejad got things done by hook or by crook. He launched Iran's stem cell research, He launched Iran's aerospace industry manufacturing aircrafts and satellites. He restarted Iranian nuclear program. Invested heavily in nanotechnology. And about the gas, do not worry. We do not need to bring fat corporations like total or BP (ex-anglo Iranian oil company) to rob us. Rest assure Ahmadinejad will develop the fields by using local companies which is good since Iran will in the process develop technologies and will learn to do things on its own. Investment? well, we really do not need those catchy words. Iran is a rich country and it is west with its huge debts that needs investment and not Iran. Iran is one of the least indebted countries in the world. And will continue to manage by itself.
And yeah, you did not answer my other point that how come such an isolated and desolate regime by your definitions is actually having the world's fastest growth rate in science and technology.

Ali Mehranfar / May 10, 2010 3:27 AM

PBS just keep repeating the old lies and propaganda about Iran, you thought Soviet were brainwashed? Wake up you zionist puppets!

Jack / December 23, 2010 3:19 PM