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Iran Election 2009

Salamatian on society, state, and sanctions in Iran

The following is a transcription from an interview with Ahmad Salamatian on the French radio France Culture (on February 20, 2012). Mr. Salamatian, a political analyst who served in the Islamic Republic’s first government under Bani Sadr and cofounded the Committee for the Defense of Freedom and Human Rights, explains the evolution of  Iranian society and the fracture between the State and the society that led to the 2009 massive demonstrations. According to him, Iranian society suffers from the populist mismanagement of the economy, but he argues that Western sanctions reinforce the Iranian State while slowing down the internal fracture between “the societal Iran” and “the Iranian State”.

Ahmad Salamatian: Iranian Society, Power and the West

Two sides of Iran: “societal Iran” Vs. “the Iranian State”

What happened in 2009 was the revelation of a situation which has been brewing for three decades in Iran.

What we have today is an Iran split in two parts. On the one hand, there is what I call a “societal Iran”. On the other hand, there is an “Iran of power”. They are increasingly far apart and they are increasingly anachronistic to one another.

In 1979 – with regard to his mental and his imaginary– Ayatollah Khomeini was the most in-phase with the Iranian society of that time. It was among those who were familiar with Khomeini that his slogans, symbols and discourses were the most in-phase with people’s imaginary because Iran was transitioning from a rural society to an urban one. The Iranian cities were filled with villagers and other people who lived in the country. They started the process of becoming literate, of learning politics; and with such violence! With a revolution! A fundamental change of everything!

In 2009, you have a society where the city is constituted and advanced. People did not only become literate; they have made steps forward in the shaping of the individual. Iran has somewhat entered history in 1979, with acceleration toward modernity. Though this move is jerky and from time to time shut-off, there is an incontrovertible and irreversible move toward modernity.

The different transitions – demographic, geographic, urban, economic, related to family ties, and cultural – have been accumulated and we have reached the threshold of democratic and political transition.

Transitionally, 2009 was important.

U.S. Companies Blocking Communication Tools in Iran

With Apple’s vigilante-sanctions-enforcement/racial profiling of Iranian Americans receiving well-deserved attention, we wanted to spotlight similar over-enforcement of broad sanctions by tech companies impacting people inside Iran.  Below is a list of services not technically blocked by sanctions but still denied to Iranians by U.S. companies, compiled via researcher Collin Anderson who maintains and updates the list here:

Publisher Product Blocked By Company Require License? Notes
Google Google Talk X N
Google AdSense X Y
Google AdWords X Y
Google Android Market X N
Google Google Code X N
Google App Engine X N Cannot Host or Access Resource on Platform
Yahoo Yahoo Messenger X N
Yahoo Yahoo Web Messenger No SSL Support N
GoDaddy (all) X N Webpage Does Not Respond
Adobe (commercial products) X Varies Webpage Does Not Respond
Geeknet, Inc. Sourceforge X ITAR Issue
McAfee MacAfee Antivirus X Y
Symantec/Norton (all) ? Y
AVG Technologies (all) X Y
Oracle MySQL X Not Where Free
Oracle NetBeans X N
Xacti Group inbox.com X N
cPanel, Inc. cPanel X Y
Logitech (all) X Varies
  • 14 March 2012
  • Posted By Angie Ahmadi
  • 0 Comments
  • Events in Iran, Iran Election 2009

Iran’s Parliamentary Vote: The Beginning of the End of Ahmadinejad

Cross-posted from Huffington Post:

Last Friday, Iran held its first elections since the controversial 2009 presidential contest, after which millions of voters poured into streets of Tehran. Unrest following the announced re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad culminated in mass detention, torture and the death of many protesters. It also led to the near-elimination of pro-reform political forces in the Islamic Republic. For this very reason, the parliamentary vote last week should be viewed as an unrepresentative sham — nothing more than a selection process amongst the ruling conservative elite.

As the dispute between Supreme Leader Khamenei and President Ahmadinejad runs deeper, this election is widely interpreted as a battle between these two political heavyweights. With the ballot boxes now counted, the outcome categorically declares Khamenei as the winner — as was broadly anticipated. But placing Iran’s future policy trajectory in its proper context requires caution against reaching hasty conclusions. The results clearly show that candidates openly associated with Ahmadinejad and his chief of staff Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie failed to enter the parliament. However, the Islamic Revolution Durability Front, backed by ultra-conservative Ayatollah Mohammad Taqi Mesbah Yazdi and fairly close to Ahmadinejad, performed relatively well, thereby lessening the possibility of a solid opposition to the president emerging in the new parliament.

Iran News Roundup 01/03

Iran proposes new nuclear negotiations

Iran’s top nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, has proposed a new round of talks with the P5+1 nations concerning its nuclear program (Guardian 12/31). Salehi said that Iran is prepared to reenter negotiations based upon the “step by step” plan proposed by Russia in July.

A EU foreign policy spokesman said The European Union is open to talks with Iran provided there are no preconditions (Jerusalem Post 12/31).

This comes as Iran announces it has produced its first domestically-made nuclear fuel rod and inserted it into the Tehran Research Reactor, which is used for medical purposes (NY Times 01/01).

President signs new Iran sanctions into law

On Saturday, president Obama signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act for 2012 (NDAA), which includes a measure targeting Iran’s central bank and financial sector (AFP 01/01).

In the president’s signing statement, he notes that the [Iran sanctions] section “1245 would interfere with my constitutional authority to conduct foreign relations by directing the Executive to take certain positions in negotiations or discussions with foreign governments. Like section 1244, should any application of these provisions conflict with my constitutional authorities, I will treat the provisions as non-binding.”

Political analysts said that Washington hopes these sanctions will push foreign banks to change their behavior before the U.S. is required to freeze them from the U.S. financial markets (Reuters 01/02).

Reuters provides a detailed list of sanctions on Iran by the European Union, the United States and the United Nations over the last thirty years(Reuters 01/02).

Greece open to Iran sanctions

A Greek official has stated that if the EU decides to impose sanctions on Iran’s oil exports, Greece will join and not break ranks with its European Union partners (Reuters 01/03).

Meanwhile, Oil prices jumped to over $101 a barrel amid concerns over crude oil disruptions (Bloomberg 01/03).

Upcoming parliamentary elections a challenge for Iran hardliners

The New York Times reports on how a boycott by reformers and dire economic circumstances may undermine Iran’s upcoming parliamentary elections, posing a challenge to Iran’s conservative Islamic establishment (NY Times 01/02).

Iran News Roundup 12/14

How covert operations can spiral out of control

Barry Lando writes on the dangers of increasing covert operations against Iran. “Predictably, aggressive acts will provoke retaliation from Iran — a situation, which, in the context of America’s superheated presidential primaries, could spiral dangerously out of control. Which is just what militants in Tehran, Jerusalem, and Washington may be out to provoke” (Lando Huffington Post 12/13).

Increased sanctions and higher oil prices

The Obama administration and European allies are seeking assurance that Saudi Arabia will boost oil output in order to prevent higher oil prices and damage to the global economy because of sanctions (Los Angeles Times 12/13). Yet Iran’s oil minister, at an OPEC meeting, said Saudi oil minister Ali Naimi has agreed not to increase oil output to replace Iranian oil (Boston Globe 12/14).

Human rights

The U.S. placed sanctions on two top Iranian military figures for human rights violations in the wake of the June 2009 election: Lieutenant Commander of IRGC Ground Force Abdollah Agragi and Chief of Staff of the Joint Armed Forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran Hassan Firouzabadi (AFP 12/13).

Nokia Siemens Networks announced that it would stop doing business with Iran–gradually reduce its existing commitments starting next year (Wall Street Journal 12/13). Nokia Siemens Networks came under fire in 2009 after providing the Iranian government with surveillance equipment used against peaceful protestors.

Mitt Romney on the M.E.K.

Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney was asked whether he supported the removal of the Mujahedin-e-Khalq from the State Department’s list of designated terrorist organizations.

“I have not heard of the MEK, so I can’t possibly tell you whether I support the MEK. I’ll take a look at the issue,” said Romney. Romney’s special advisor on foreign policy, Mitchell Reiss, is an advocate for the group.

Notable opinion: 

In a Washington Post op-ed, Thomas Erdbrink discusses the growing fears and concern amongst ordinary Iranians regarding the possibility of war and the negative impact international sanctions are having on everyday lives.

Instead of sharing that sense of defiance, however, many ordinary Iranians are increasingly worried that war could be catastrophic.

As tension rises, many have started taking precautionary measures. Some are stocking up on basic goods. Others are changing their money into foreign currencies, or obtaining visas to move abroad.

Anxiety is also being fueled by the latest rounds of international sanctions against Iran. While Iranian officials continually say the country can cope with the growing limitations, average Iranians are faced with soaring prices and a plummeting exchange rate for their currency, the rial. It has lost 48 percent of its value against the dollar since 2008.

To read the full piece click here.

Additional Notable News:

Iran’s intelligence minister Heidar Moslehi met the Saudi Crown Prince Nayef bin Abdel-Aziz Al Saud to refute U.S. claims that Tehran planned to kill Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Washington, according to a senior Iranian official.

Why Do We Need to Stand Up to the MEK?

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ttVUXDF717U]

The push to remove the MEK from the U.S. list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations is intensifying in Congress and in pro-war circles in Washington.

A vote is coming before the House Foreign Affairs Committee this week on whether to endorse removing the Iranian Mujahedin from the U.S. foreign terrorist organizations lists.  This would enable it to operate freely and even receive U.S. funding for renewed attacks in Iran.

And John Bolton and Daniel Pipes, who have openly called for the U.S. to bomb Iran, have recently ratcheted up their calls for the MEK to be taken off the terrorist list.

Supporters of the Mujahedin don’t care that the group has no support in Iran. They favor the Mujahedin because it uses violence and terror.

We are standing up to the Mujahedin for three reasons:

1) Delisting the Mujahedin and unleashing its violence would be a major blow to the non-violent, pro-democracy movement.

As Iranian-Americans, we more than anyone else should know from experience that violence can defeat a dictator, but it cannot give us democracy. We have to break the cycle of violence, not perpetuate it.

2) Delisting the Mujahedin would unleash a major force for war.

For years, the Mujahedin have lobbied for the US to attack Iran and to help install MEK leader Maryam Rajavi into power.  We’ve seen how effective they have lobbied for war even while they are a designated terrorist organization.  De-listing them will be a major boost to their lobbying campaign to start a US-Iran war.

3) Delisting the Mujahedin threatens the free, peaceful voices of the Iranian-American community

For years, the Mujahedin have smeared and defamed anyone and any group who differed with them, including Iranian-American organizations and even individuals like Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi.

As Iranian Americans, we have the ability and responsibility to help break the cycle of violence that has engulfed Iran.  NIAC is the only organization standing up to prevent this from happening.

But we need your help.

Join us in taking a stance for non-violence, democracy and human rights.

Donate $100 today for our efforts to prevent war, protect the pro-democracy movement and break the cycle of violence.

Akbar Ganji: “The Worst Scenario for Iran: A Different Look”


On June 15, 2011, Akbar Ganji published an article,"The Worst Scenario for Iran: A Different Look," on BBC Persian, examining the economy of Iran and the effects of the international sanctions on it. NIAC's Ali Tayebi and Sahar Fahimi have translated this article from Ganji's original pen, Persian, to English.  

“The Worst Scenario for Iran: A Different Look”

Two factors could open a small breathing space and create opportunities for the opposition within the upcoming year; first- the dispute between Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s team and the other conservatives; second- the creation of targeted subsidies and its consequences.

In mid-April, the dispute between the conservatives and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad began to escalate, and, in the past few weeks, the majority of political news has been dominated by this topic. In these circumstances, less attention was paid to the economic conditions; a circumstance that is due to structural issues, creation of targeted subsidies, and economic sanctions. This article discusses the second matter and its political outcomes.

The Quest for Nuclear Immensity

Manners and methods of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader of the Islamic Republic, has and continues to display that he is not willing to back down from his stance. His strategy in every situation is offensive. For example, in the case of the United Nations, he advises that instead of awaiting the feedback and criticism of Western governments and civil societies of human rights violations in Iran (the passive approach), Iran should be on the offense, because Western governments are the largest actors in human rights violations of people and governments (the active approach). Or, in the case of women, instead of the West condemning and questioning us for ‘restricting’ our women, we will condemn and question the Western world, for objectifying their women.

In the past 23 years, the supreme leader’s “quest for nuclear immensity” has been activelty persued. He has been firmly against retreating on this matter, and has always commanded the active persuit of this project. He instructed Mohammad Khatami, at the end of his presidential term, to abolish the uranium enrichment suspention agreement with European nations and begin production. Thus, he is not open to compromise and agreement on this matter.

What has been the reaction of Western governmnets? They have passed a few sanctions on Iran through the United Nations. Aside from the international boycotts, the United States and the European Union have independently put more sanctions on Iran. These sanctions have been followed by political ones, the latest of which was an American sanction on June 19,2011, against the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, Basij paramilitary, Iran’s national police and its chief, Esmael Ahmadi Moghadam due to major human rights violations.

Two-year election anniversary marked by silent protests, death of Hoda Saber

On the second anniversary of Iran’s fraudulent presidential elections, brave Iranian men and women took to the streets once again in silent and peaceful protests. According to eyewitnesses, “demonstrators numbered in thousands” and were greeted by massive numbers of armed security and military forces at every corner. In a phone interview with the Guardian, one eye witness said, “their numbers were ten times more than an ordinary day in Vali-e-Asr street, I think around 30,000 people were out there in total.” The demonstrators walked the sidewalks of main streets in silence and refused to respond to the Revolutionary Guard’s roaring motorcycles and insulting comments.

Soon after the start of the protests, members of the guard, security and military forces attacked the protestors, beating many and arresting some. According to an eyewitness testimony on Kalameh, “anyone wearing or carrying anything green was arrested. A few young men, in green T-shirts, were quickly arrested. One of the undercover officers angrily smashed the head of one of the boys on the door of the vehicle, shouting ‘Mousavi and the color green are forever dead!’ before forcing the boy into a van filled with protestors.”

The election anniversary was also marked by the sudden death of imprisoned journalist and activist Reza Hoda Saber after an eight-day hunger strike, adding to the heartache and anger of many Iranians. Hoda Saber began his strike on June 2 as a protest to the treatment and death of Haleh Sahabi, who herself was killed when she was temporarily released from prison to pay respects at the funeral of her father, Ezatollah Sahabi.

Hoda Saber was reportedly taken to Modarres hospital due to complaints of chest pain, where the cause of his death was announced to be a heart attack. The sad irony is that it seems, according to the Iranian government at least, that the fate of imprisoned activists in Iran is all the same: death, caused by a heart attack.  According to Tehran Bureau, “doctors have said that if he had been brought to the hospital in a timely fashion, he would not have died.”  Meanwhile, Iranian authorities deny Hoda Saber was on a hunger strike in the first place.

Yesterday, however, sixty-four of his prison mates signed a witness testimony that was published on Kalameh by anonymous ‘green’ allies at the Evin prison. They testify that Hoda Saber was a healthy, active man who worked out everyday and did not have any illness in the year he had spent in the prison.

  • 15 February 2011
  • Posted By Todd Ruffner
  • 1 Comments
  • Events in Iran, Human Rights in Iran, Iran Election 2009, UN

Crackdown Underway with Mass Jailings and Threats against Opposition Leaders

In the wake of yesterday’s massive protests, a major crackdown appears to be underway.  Radio Zameneh is reporting 1,500 people were arrested in yesterday’s demonstrations and transferred to Evin Prison.  Officials are reportedly refusing to inform families about the status of their loved ones, and “special guards” even attacked and dispersed family members who gathered in front of the Revolutionary Court.

This comes just hours after 221 hard-line Iranian parliamentarians called for the trial and execution of opposition leaders Mir Hussein Mousavi, Mehdi Karroubi, and even former President Mohammad Khatami.  The large group of lawmakers shouted “death to Mousavi, Karroubi and Khatami,” pumping their fists in unison.  Maintaining that they were responding to pressure from some unseen constituency, the MPs said they “believe the people have lost their patience and demand capital punishment” for the opposition leaders.

While conservative politicians have long called for the opposition leaders to be put on trial, today’s statement at a minimum represents a serious escalation in their attempts to intimidate the opposition into silence.

Considering the mass arrests and Iran’s recent “execution binge,” this could also mark the beginning of an even more egregious campaign of human rights abuses and repression by the Iranian government.

What is clear is that greater attention and action is needed by the international community to address this human rights crisis.

In just a couple weeks, there is a critical opportunity for the US to work with the international community to establish a human rights monitor to provide much needed international scrutiny of the Iranian government’s abuses.

International scrutiny on Iran’s abuses can extend needed protection to the Iranian people, including human rights defenders and democracy activists. The Brookings Institute has documented how these human rights monitors have a measurable impact to reduce human rights violations in trouble spots around the world. But while there are eight such monitors in place, there has not been one for Iran since 2002.

The Iranian people deserve the protection that international attention and pressure can provide in the face of an increasingly abusive regime.  If ever there was a time for the UN Human Rights Council to act, now is it.

  • 14 February 2011
  • Posted By David Elliott
  • 2 Comments
  • Events in Iran, Human Rights in Iran, Iran Election 2009

Inspired by Egypt, Iran’s Green Movement Shows Its Resilience

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MWri7zoJUU0&feature=player_embedded]

On the heels of the Egyptian and Tunisian revolutions, large numbers of Iranians defied ominous threats from their government, taking to the streets to express their own aspirations for democracy, human rights, and the rule of law.

The demonstrations were the largest since Ashura in 2009, with the Associated Press and Washington Post estimating that “tens of thousands” of Iranians were in the streets.  While critics of the Green Movement have often tried to portray it as confined to Tehran or even just north Tehran, today’s protests were occurred all across the country.  The BBC reports that there were demonstrations in Isfahan, Mashhad and Shiraz, while Tehran Bureau reports there were also protests in Kermanshah and Rasht.

Chants rang through the streets of Iran, including one proclaiming “Mubarak, Ben Ali, it’s your turn Sayyed Ali [Khamenei]!”

Despite cynical statements of public support for the revolutionary protests in Egypt, the Iranian government deployed thousands of security forces and reacted brutally to the demonstrations in their own country, calling them illegal attempts to stage “riots”.  Opposition leaders Mir Hussein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi were placed under house arrest and prevented from joining the demonstrations, while tear gas was fired into crowds and protestors were arrested and beaten by riot police.  And at least one person is confirmed dead in Tehran, according to the BBC.

No one yet knows if this portends a revival of the demonstrations that rocked Iran’s establishment after the June 2009 elections, but it is clear that while the Green Movement may be bruised and battered, it is in no way dead.  We would all be wise to remember that, regardless of whether Iranians are risking their lives to demonstrate for their rights.