Thursday, September 27, 2007

Gary Sick: Iranian Leader Sees Trip to New York as ‘Successful’

Gary Sick: Iranian Leader Sees Trip to New York as ‘Successful’
Interviewee:
Gary G. Sick, executive director of the Gulf/2000 Project, Columbia University
Gary G. Sick, a longtime Iranian expert who served on the Ford, Carter, and Reagan National Security Councils, says that he believes President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad regards his visit to the United Nations and New York City as "successful" because it allowed him to get his views out to a wide audience, and particularly to "people in the Islamic world and the Middle East, especially Arabs." Sick says an opportunity for a dialogue between Iran and the United States may have to wait until 2009 when there will be a new U.S. president, and possibly a new Iranian president. He does not think the United States will attack Iran militarily.... Read More Here: http://www.cfr.org/publication/14309/

Thursday Links

Time: My Dinner with Ahmadinejad (By Richard Stengel)
Boston Globe: How to build US-Iran relations (By Abbas Maleki and Kaveh L. Afrasiabi)
Washington Post: D.C. Area Iranians Criticize Reception Of Ahmadinejad
Washington Post: Iran Reformist Warns Democracy at Stake
Detroit free Press: Rival: It’s best to ignore Iran leader
The Salt Lake Tribune: The Bronx cheer: Columbia University welcomes Iran's president
New York Times: The ‘Crazies’ and Iran
Guardian: US, Russia Spar Over Iran’s Sanction
Independent Online South Africa: Iran’s Reformers have learned
TV New Zealand: Aust tells Iran to stop weapons supply
Tehran Times: French declarations on Iranian N-issue

Economy:
AFP: Iran warns India over Pakistan gas deal
AFP: Iran border closure costs Kurdish region a million a day: Iraq
Reuters: France's Total says decision on Iran LNG far off
Tehran Times: Iran Air to be privatized in 2008

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

From Columbia Students

This story appeared in The Morningside Post written by Columbia University students and It is is interesting:

Bollinger's Belligerence: SIPA Students Respond to Ahmadinejad Talk
Mujda Amini, MIA 2008
Jacqueline Carpenter, MIA 2008
Maryum Saifee, MIA 2007
David Trilling, MIA 2008

Yesterday, Lee Bollinger referred to the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran as a "petty and cruel dictator" and openly doubted whether Mahmoud Ahmedinajad would have the "intellectual courage" to answer the questions posed. In the history of the World Leaders Forum at Columbia University, no guest has ever been treated with such contempt and disrespect.

In contrast, earlier yesterday President Bollinger introduced the President of Turkmenistan, also an autocrat with a dismal human rights record, with a tone of cordiality expected in a forum with a head of state. Why the difference between the two? Could it be the massive media attention present at the second forum inspired Bollinger's belligerence? Could it be because, in the end, Bollinger cowed to the very political pressure he has claimed all week that he was defending free speech against? ... Read More Here

A conversation with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Charlie Rose Interview with Ahmadinejad is much more diplomatic. Listen and watch here:
http://www.charlierose.com/shows/2007/09/24/1/a-conversation-with-mahmoud-ahmadinejad

Tuesday Links

Guardian: Iran and the US must talk
Guardian: UN Starts Round of Iran Nuclear Talks
San Diego Union Tribune: Pensions to drop firms with Iran ties
International Herald Tribune: Sarkozy clarifies France's Iran policy
Tehran Times: No country can harm Iran’s relations with intl. community: president
Economy:
AFP: India committed to Iran pipeline despite missing Tehran talks
AFP: Iran warns foreign banks over US pressureIRNA: Mazaheri: CBI to control liquidity, check inflation
Tehran Times: Iran-China-India cooperation to guarantee Asia economic development

Monday, September 24, 2007

New sanctions may bust Iran LNG

United Press International: Analysis: New sanctions may bust Iran LNG
By DEREK SANDSUPI Energy CorrespondentWASHINGTON, Sept. 24 (UPI) -- Potential European and U.N. sanctions, and an Iranian energy policy unfavorable to foreign investment, may spell disaster as Tehran struggles to develop its liquefied natural gas potential in the massive South Pars fields.With the major powers considering a third set of U.N. sanctions against Iran over worries it is using a civilian nuclear program to cover up attempts to develop nuclear weapons, France’s recent turn to harsher rhetoric toward Tehran may signal a tipping point in Iran’s oil and gas exploration and modernization.

Last Thursday, French President Nicolas Sarkozy called for stronger sanctions against Iran, but also further softened comments by his foreign minister earlier in the week by saying France does not want war with Iran. Last Sunday, Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said war with Iran would be the worst outcome, but they should be prepared for it. Iran denies it is pursuing nuclear weapons.Kouchner also said Thursday the European Union should impose its own sanctions, pressuring energy companies to stop investing in Iran.

France’s energy giant Total has long been invested in Iran’s massive South Pars natural gas field, which is estimated to contain between 280 trillion cubic feet and 500 tcf of gas. In 2006, Total took out about 2 billion cubic feet of natural gas a day from two sections of the South Pars field it has developed since 2004.Total has also been seeking to develop another section, Block 11, of the South Pars field in order to feed a liquid natural gas processing plant it hopes to build in Iran, which would eventually process 15 million tons a year of natural gas.... Read More Here

Links

New York Times: U.S. Focus on Ahmadinejad Puzzles Iranians
CNN: Brzezinski: U.S. in danger of 'stampeding' to war with Iran
Canadian Press: Ahmadinejad denies Iran plans to attack Israel or anybody else
AFP: Iranian activists oppose military attack on Iran -- dissident
The Economist: Same time next year?

The First Day of School


The first day of fall is the first day of school in Iran. The photo is from a village school in Mazandaran, by Hamed Khorshidi from Fars News Agency.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Iran keeps Picassos in basement


This is a very interesting report, by LA Times here is a part of it, the photo is from the paper.

Iran is, by many assessments, home to the most extensive collection of late 19th and 20th century Western art outside the West. It is a treasure trove of masters that is all but forgotten outside knowledgeable art circles because, for all but a few of the last 30 years, it has been virtually unseen...

...Sadeghi says there are plans afoot to build a major national gallery in Tehran to put the paintings on permanent display, along with the museum's extensive collection of Iranian contemporary art, and acquire new works -- a Cezanne, perhaps -- to fill in the holes in the Tehran collection.

"The way you approached me in your letter suggested that we do not appreciate this collection. On the contrary. I myself am an artist and sculptor; I have a PhD in art research. I have participated in 44 international exhibitions. My wife is an artist. My daughter is an artist. Do you imagine we would not safeguard this collection?"This collection is near to our soul. It is a precious thing for us, we keep it like the apple of our eye. But we also believe the collection of the vault belongs to the whole of humanity."

Links

some news, hope and fear are mixed together these days:
The Guardian: Explosive options over Iran crisis
AP: Israel, Iran cooperate in crash probe
CNN: Rice tells nuke watchdog to butt out of Iran diplomacy
Radio Netherlands: Dutch company accused of illegal trade with Iran
Financial Times: (Persian) Gulf States plan trade talks with Iran
Asia Times: A real success story in the US's Iraq: Iran

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Business As Usual

French Foriegn minister might be naive however energy business is energy business as usual:

Forbes: Total says talks with Iran on South Pars gas project still ongoing
ANGOULEME, France (Thomson Financial) - It is unclear whether Total SA will be able to reach agreement with the Iranian government over the future of a huge liquefied natural gas development, whose projected costs have risen sharply, a company spokeswoman said.
'The costs have gone up a lot and we are reconsidering this project,' she said, declining to speculate on the chances of a deal being concluded.
Talks between the two sides on the 15 bln usd plan to develop part of the South Pars LNG field have been ongoing for several months, the spokewoman added. But their profile was raised at the weekend when acting Iran oil minister Gholam-Hossein Nozari cast doubt on the project's future. The high rate quoted by the French energy group on marketing LNG from the project which would force Iran to 'study the feasibility of this plan once again', the Financial Times quoted the minister as saying.
His comments came amid rising tensions between the two countries, fuelled by remarks by French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner that the world should brace for a possible war over Iran's nuclear drive.
The Total spokeswoman declined to speculate on the ramifications of the political spat.
'We are still in the middle of discussions. If we reach (a deal) we will also take into account the political factors,' she said.
tf.TFN-Europe_newsdesk@thomson.com
afp/ejp/jms/jms/dca COPYRIGHT
Copyright Thomson Financial News Limited 2007. All rights reserved

Monday, September 17, 2007

Links

Post Global: U.S. Engage or Isolate Iran?
Flying home from Los Angeles, I work to fit together the pieces of my visit with Iranian Americans there. It's more complicated than I expected. There are some constants: Everyone I spoke to wanted the current theocracy in Iran to loosen up on its own people and open up to the world, including America. At the same time, everyone I spoke to opposed war vehemently, saying a U.S. attack would prove catastrophic for both nations. Read More Here.


The New York Times: After Talk of War, Cooler Words in France on Iran
MOSCOW, Sept. 17 — France’s foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner, sought Monday to tone down remarks he made in a radio and television interview the day before that the world had to prepare for possible war against Iran. …..Read More.

Guardian: Drift into war with Iran out of control, says UN
AP: Abizaid: World Could Abide Nuclear Iran
ARAB News: Saber Rattling Against Iran: Real or Bluff?
Reuters: UAE's Etisalat, MTC bid for Qatar mobile licence
Gulf News: UAE bourses maintain tight range to end in positive territory

It is the death of history

Independent:
It is the death of history
A special investigation by Robert Fisk:
the near total destruction of Iraq's historic past – the very cradle of human civilisation – has emerged as one of the most shameful symbols of our disastrous occupation.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

WSJ: Iran's Unlikely TV Hit,

WSJ: Iran's Unlikely TV Hit, Show Sympathetic to Plight Of Jews During the Holocaust Draws Millions Each Week By FARNAZ FASSIHI
Every Monday night at 10 o'clock, Iranians by the millions tune into Channel One to watch the most expensive show ever aired on the Islamic republic's state-owned television. Its elaborate 1940s costumes and European locations are a far cry from the typical Iranian TV fare of scarf-clad women and gray-suited men. read more here.

Something more sober from NY Times: NY TIMES: Pentagon Studies Pre-Emptive Nuclear Strikes

Taking Out Three Zeros from Rial

According to Fars News Agency President Ahmadinejad has ordered Iran Central Bank to investigate the methods to take out Three zeros from Iranian Rials notes that are circulating in the country.

Mr. Mesbahi-Moghadam a Member of Parliament and an observer in Iran’s Council for Monetary and Banking Affairs, that was dissolved a few months ago, told reporters that a large number in Iranian currency is equal to small change in the strong currencies. In his opinion this necessitates a currency reform. He told reports that when in 1972 the first 10’000 Rials note was introduced two 10’000 Rials notes would have been a month pay. Wages have increased exponentially since then as well as prices. The purchasing power of 10’000 Rials in 1972 is equivalent to that of 1’280’000 Rials in 2007.

He mentioned that per capita there are 110 notes in Iran while the average is 10 to 12 pieces for European countries. He told the reporters that a monetary reform is necessary and President has ordered Central Bank of Iran to investigate the effects of taking out 3 zeros as well as the inflationary consequences of cash checks that are in circulation in Iran.

Meanwhile Iranian economists considered this move as irrelevant to inflation. Dr. Tabibian, a veteran economist of Management and Planning Organization, told Aftab that such a policy would not bear any economic fruit for the country in the absence of inflation control policies. Iranian bankers are more optimistic and suggest adjusting the currency will create some sort of stability.

In the meantime prices continue to increase. And Central Bank reports an increased inflation rate. Inflation is not limited to Iran in the region. The phenomenon is visible in other OPEC countries. Currently UAE is experiencing a 19 years peak inflation rate. However the absence of a monetary market and an investment market in Iran reduces government abilities to combat inflation through interest rate.

That’s a pity. Because if Iranian politicians know anything about economics, that is the political consequences of a high inflation rate and a frustrated public who are struggling with declining shopping power. Anyone who desires another term in the office has to do something about inflation.

MSNBC: Today in Iran.. Matt Lauer

These are excellent reports and videos on this link :
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/20746548/

Specially watch the videos:
1. A glimpse of Iran you don't see
2. Iranian professor discusses politics
3. How do Iranians view America?

Articles:
The lives of women in IranIranian law still favors men, but women in that country are more educated and have a more visible role in life than in many other Islamic countries. Read more.

Pictures:
Iran’s perilous path in pictures

American Professor to Be Buried in Iran

TEHRAN, Iran: President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has agreed to allow an American scholar to be buried in the historic Iranian city of Isfahan when he dies, the state broadcasting company said Thursday.
Richard Nelson Frye, an 87-year-old professor of Iranian and Central Asian studies at Harvard University, made his request in a letter addressed directly to Ahmadinejad, the broadcasting company reported on its Web site.
"I ask the Iranian president to allow my burial in the beautiful city of Isfahan to prove the unbreakable link between the honorable Iranian and American nations," Frye was quoted as saying in his letter.

Read more here: http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2007/09/13/africa/ME-GEN-Iran-American-Scholar.php

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Article on Iran and Attack

Read this : http://www.tcdailyplanet.net/blog-entry/2007/09/10/many-say-attack-iran-coming-soon.html

UAE Cuttting Interest Rate

UAE inflation rate is at a 19 years peak currently. Read Gulf News report:

Rate cut likely to fuel inflation
By Babu Das Augustine, Banking Editor
Published: September 12, 2007, 00:29
Dubai: The UAE is facing the prospect of higher inflation if the central bank decides to cut the interest rates in line with the expected US rate cuts on September 18.
The UAE will cut interest rates 'accordingly' should the US Federal Reserve decide to lower rates at its September 18 meeting, the UAE central bank governor Sultan Nasser Al Suwaidi told media in Damascus yesterday. The governor also insisted that the country has no plans to depeg or revalue the dirham.
Read more here: http://www.gulfnews.com/business/Economy/10153053.html

Photos of Iran's Nature: Shahdad Desert


One must compliment Fars News Agency photographer Hamdi Sadeghi. His photos of Kavir e Shahdad in south east of Iran are remarkable. To see them all go here: http://www.farsnews.com/imgrep.php?nn=8604160543

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Iran in Chicago Int'l Film Festival


Mark the calendar Chicago Int'L Film Festival will be here October 4 - 17 and there are two movies from Iran:
Exile Family Movie
A geographically split Persian family organizes a secret reunion in the bittersweet documentary Exile Family Movie. While some family members have emigrated to Europe or America, the majority has stayed in Iran. Some have been able to meet briefly with extended family members, but there has not been a true reunion in 20 years. Flying in the face danger, the meeting is set in Mecca. Those living in exile navigate their way across borders by pretending to be Muslim pilgrims—thereby avoiding suspicion from the authorities—and the reunion finally occurs. Culture clash seems unavoidable, mostly stirred up by an √©migr√© woman who rejects many Muslim traditions rooted in patriarchy. But in the end, family wins out, and the reunion shines with an irrefutable love. English, German, and Farsi with English subtitles. 94 min

Chahar shanbe souri
Hired as a maid for constantly feuding couple Morteza and Mojdeh, bride-to-be Rouhi is thrust headfirst into a whirlwind of middle-class commotion in rising star Asghar Farhadi’s perceptive and superblyacted drama of infidelity and social hierarchies. Disenchanted Mojdeh suspects her husband of having an affair with next door neighbor, beautician Simin. Modjeh soon entrusts the innocuous Rouhi to spy on Simin, and begins her own reconnaissance mission as well, setting the tone for a chaotic and complex tale where everyone is hiding something. As Rouhi unwittingly stumbles upon all of their secrets, the film hits a climactic end—rounded out with the streets and sky ablaze with fireworks. Farsi with English subtitles. 104 min.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Cartoon: Iran as a Sewer?

After publishing a cartoon presenting Iran as a sewer from where cockroaches are spreading across the Middle East. Many have objected Columbus Dispatch and send letters expressing their opinion. Professor Marsha Cohen from Florida International University has written one of the most eloquent one.
The cartoon could be seen here: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_3f1zZBJa-GA/RuCAENsN5QI/AAAAAAAAAgk/3o_tmHWxXQw/s1600-h/Iran_cockroach.jpg
To the Editor: Columbus Post Dispatch
For over four decades, Fidel Castro has been considered one of the most odious leaders in the Western hemisphere. After he took power, hundreds of thousands of Cubans fled their island home for Miami (where I live and work), and where they have prospered. Many of them have been among the most vocal opponents of any moves by the US government to normalize relations with Cuba. Even now that Castro is old and sick, and at death's door, he remains a hated symbol of a revolution gone wrong, that rapidly morphed into a detested enemy of the interests and values of the US.
Nevertheless, no Florida newspaper would ever dare to depict Cuba as a sewer, with cockroaches from it spreading out across North and South America. The outrage expressed, even by the regime's most vociferous opponents, to the insult to their Cuban identity and beloved homeland, would put the police on crisis alert, and make headlines throughout the entire country.

Yet in an editorial cartoon, published on Sept 4. the Columbus Dispatch had no compunctions about portraying Iran as a sewer, and Iranians as cockroaches. Its decision to do so--regardless of the political motives of the editorial board, of the artist, or the message they were trying to convey--is unfortunate, and reflects more shamefully on the values and integrity of your newspaper than on the Iranian people, both in Iran and and those who have made their home in this country and other parts of the world, that this cartoon (whether intentionally or unintentionally) maligned and demeaned.

I hope that every organization that considers itself a champion of civil and human rights will express its outrage at the publication of this cartoon. Had the "cockroaches" been designated Jews, Blacks or Hispanics, the cartoon never would have made it into print in a respectable newspaper. And if it did, the objections and the fury generated throughout the community would have been loud, swift and resonant.

Anyone who would not want to see themselves and their ethnic group depicted in this way by a cartoonist is morally obligated to vociferously object to its publication. While the rights of a free press may extend to the promotion of racism, hatred and dehumanization, this does not mean you, as a newspaper, are obligated to exercise that right, or that decent people everywhere should not denounce your decision to do so when you do. Your disgusting representation of Iranians--irrespective of their regime--deserves nothing less than nationwide condemnation.
Sincerely,

Marsha B. Cohen

Miami, Florida

Regarding Shirin Ebadi Talk at Chicago Foundation for Women

During the summer Chicago Foundation for Women announced that Peace Noble laureate Dr. Shirin Ebadi would be the main speaker at its annual luncheon and symposium on September 11, 2007. As it is customary of such events tickets were offered to the public. The usual communication networks also informed Iranian community in Chicago about the event. However on September 4th there was a press release that Shirin Ebadi would not be attending this event. It reads:

“Iranian Human Rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Dr. Shirin Ebadi was originally scheduled to appear but the government of Iran has refused to let her leave the country.”

Instead Activist and comedic actor Kathy Najimy will be the foundation annual luncheon speaker. As someone who reads Farsi and follows the news on the both sides of the hills, I must admit there was not any piece of news regarding Iranian government refusing to let Dr. Shirin Ebadi leave the country. By this I mean that there was nothing about it on numerous websites and weblogs. I have checked BBC Persian, Gooya.com and Balatarin.com as well as some individual websites and Dr. Ebadi’s own website. There is no mention of such travel ban.

On the very same day of this press release, September 4th, Washington Post ran a story on Parnaz Azima Radio Farda’s reporter in Iran whose lawyer is Dr. Ebadi. Dr. Ebadi was cited saying that government has returned Ms. Azima’s passport and she is free to leave. Dr. Ebadi has a very heavy schedule. Just recently she invited United Nations to send an envoy to Tehran to probe women’s rights in the country. She has been involved in numerous cases that demand a great deal of her time. Certainly not everyone in Iranian government is thrilled about her and her activities. However the only place that reports that she has been banned from leaving country is Chicago Foundation for Women. I find it very hard to believe that there is such a ban.

Friday, September 07, 2007

The other struggle in the (Persian) Gulf

The Economist has an interesting piece:
What the rest of the world can do to stop America and Iran from talking themselves into a fight
MOST Americans and much of the world is fixated on what General David Petraeus, the American ground commander in Iraq, intends to say when he reports to Congress next week (see article). But in the meantime American relations with Iran appear to be going from bad to worse.
The two countries are used to trading insults, but they have now become explosive. The more George Bush flounders in Iraq, the greater his temptation to blame Iran.... read more here:
http://economist.com/opinion/displaystory.cfm?story_id=9767656

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Now Heaven Has a Tenor


Maestoro Luciano Pavarotti passed away. It is a sad day indeed. But he is not dead for the very same reason that Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, Brams and so many others are not dead. They live through their music, they are immortals. Like them Pavarotti sang his soul, and what a soul, what a voice! Listen to him singing Ave Maria by Schubert:
His website : http://www.lucianopavarotti.com/

Wednesday, September 05, 2007