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  • 14 February 2013
  • Posted By Sina Toossi
  • 0 Comments
  • Diplomacy

CIA nominee: Iran-bashing good for politicians, bad for US interests

While much attention has been paid to John Brennan’s policy on drones during his tenure as chief counterterrorism advisor to President Obama, surprisingly less has been given to his positions on Iran.

Slotted to be the new head of the CIA by President Obama, Brennan faced a confirmation hearing in the Senate last week that hardly dealt with Iran. But in the McCarthyite atmosphere in the Senate, anything approaching a substantive or nuanced view on Iran or Iran policy has become a political gambit. This was most apparent during Chuck Hagel’s recent confirmation hearing, in which the opposition turned the Iran debate  into a substance free and counterproductive contest of Iran-bashing.

John Brennan has actually spoken out against the use of exactly this type of hyperbolic and politically charged rhetoric when it comes to talking about Iran. In a 2008 paper, he even argues that engaging in such talk runs counter U.S. interests, saying:

“A critical step toward improved U.S.-Iranian relations would be for U.S. officials to cease public Iran-bashing, a tactic that may have served short-term domestic political interests but that has heretofore been wholly counterproductive to U.S. strategic interests. Rather than stimulating a positive change in Iran’s behavior, politically charged and wholesale condemnation of Iranian policies has energized and emboldened Iranian radicals at the expense of Iranian moderates.”

This paper, entitled “The Conundrum of Iran: Strengthening Moderates without Acquiescing to Belligerence,” sheds light on Brennan’s views toward Iran policy at a time before it was politically inconvenient for him to be so forthcoming. In it, he offers striking analysis on the decades old standoff between the U.S. and Iran and even offers several policy recommendations for reaching a peaceful solution.

  • 13 January 2012
  • Posted By Ardavon Naimi
  • 0 Comments
  • NIAC round-up

Iran News Roundup 01/13

CIA memos uncover Mossad “false flag” operations

A series of CIA memos, written during the George W. Bush’s administration, describes how Mossad agents, pretending to be American agents and carrying US passports, reportedly recruited the terrorist group Jundallah to carry out a covert war against Iran (Foreign Policy  01/13).

U.S. sends warning to Iran’s Supreme Leader 

According to government officials, the U.S. has warned Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, via a secret channel of communication, that closing the Strait of Hormuz would constitute a “red-line” which would provoke a U.S. response. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta also stated on Thursday that the closure of the Strait would not be tolerated (NY Times 01/12).

Meanwhile, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei responded to Wednesday’s assassination of an Iranian scientist by saying that those behind the killing would be punished. “We will continue our path with strong will … and certainly we will not neglect punishing those responsible for this act and those behind it,” said Khamenei (Reuters 01/12). The Iranian scientist, Mostafa Roshan, was buried yesterday in Tehran (BBC 01/13).

U.S. defense secretary Leon Panetta echoed strong denials by other top U.S. officials of American involvement in the assassination (The Guardian 01/13).

Russia considers Iran war a threat to security

Russia’s departing ambassador to NATO Dmitry Rogozin told reporters that Russia considers Iranian involvement in any military action as a direct threat to Russia’s security. He also said that Israel is pushing the U.S. towards a war with Iran (Reuters 01/13).

U.N. to discuss nuclear program in Tehran

A senior U.N. nuclear agency team will be visiting Tehran on Jan. 28 to discuss allegations over Iran’s nuclear program. Iranian officials have suggested that they are ready to talk about the issue, according to two diplomats (Reuters 01/12). Some in the West have expressed skepticism over Iran’s readiness to discuss its nuclear program (Reuters 01/13).

  • 9 June 2010
  • Posted By Sanaz Yarvali
  • 0 Comments
  • Nuclear file

An Unsolved Mystery: Shahram Amiri

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iD4SzcAeExg&hl=en_US&fs=1&]

Shahram Amiri, an Iranian physicist who has been missing since June of last year, has uploaded two separate videos online sharing completely contradictory accounts of his situation. Which video is real? Or are both just a fraud?

In his first video, Amiri says he is residing in Tuscon, Arizona after having been abducted from Medina “in a joint operation by terror and kidnap teams from the US intelligence service CIA and Saudi Arabia’s Istikhbarat.” He says that he was abducted for information about Iran’s nuclear program. Toward the end of the video, he says that if this is the last video that his family sees…for them to have patience. He looks quite disheveled in the grainy video, though there seems to be no hard evidence to indicate either that the video is real or fake.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7tMY-oraOfA&hl=en_US&fs=1&]

In the second video, he is well dressed and has asked for everyone “to stop presenting a distorted image of me.” He starts off by saying that he is thankful for having the opportunity to talk and that he is living freely in the United States. He refers to himself as a simple medical physicist, and that he misses his wife and family.

Recently, US officials acknowledged that Amiri had defected and had been resettled in the United States after extensive debriefing, in which he reportedly shared valuable information to American intelligence agencies.

A U.S. official familiar with the case scoffed at the notion that he had been kidnapped, noting that if Amiri were imprisoned, it would not be possible for him to make videos for Iranian television.

Both videos raise lots more questions than answers. For now, it seems like the case of Shahram Amiri will remain an unsolved mystery.

  • 28 October 2008
  • Posted By Ali Hosseini
  • 0 Comments
  • US-Iran War

US expanding cross-border attacks; next up Iran?

After cross-border air and ground incursions into Pakistan earlier this year, which were reportedly authorised by an executive order signed in July, U.S. Special Forces/CIA raided a village compound 5 miles into Syrian territory late last week.  Ostensibly, they were in the search of high-value terrorists, but the daring cross-border operation killed several civilians including women and children, and it is still unclear if any al-Qai’da members are among the dead.

The assault might be an escalation of an announced strategy to widen the scope of operations in the region in search of “high-value al-Qai’da operatives previously beyond” the reach of U.S. forces. Similar to “pre-emptive strikes,” these cross-border operations undermine central concepts in international law, especially state sovereignty.

And this is particularly relevant to the Iranian-American community. Why? In the context of escalated ‘covert operations’ inside Iran (carried out by the CIA, in collaboration with radical Iranian militants), and Congress’ designation of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) as a ‘terrorist entity’, there’s a chance the Bush administration might see an opportunity to challenge Iranian sovereignty, too.

Let’s just hope that President Bush doesn’t try to salvage his legacy by initiating a third war in eight years; after all, the ‘third time’s a charm’.

Sign the Petition

 

7,349 signatures

Tell Google: Stop playing Persian Gulf name games!

May 14, 2012
Larry Page
Chief Executive Officer
Google Inc.
1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Mountain View, California 94043

Dear Mr. Page:

It has come to our attention that Google has begun omitting the title of the Persian Gulf from its Google Maps application. This is a disconcerting development given the undisputed historic and geographic precedent of the name Persian Gulf, and the more recent history of opening up the name to political, ethnic, and territorial disputes. However unintentionally, in adopting this practice, Google is participating in a dangerous effort to foment tensions and ethnic divisions in the Middle East by politicizing the region’s geographic nomenclature. Members of the Iranian-American community are overwhelmingly opposed to such efforts, particularly at a time when regional tensions already have been pushed to the brink and threaten to spill over into conflict. As the largest grassroots organization in the Iranian-American community, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) calls on Google to not allow its products to become propaganda tools and to immediately reinstate the historically accurate, apolitical title of “Persian Gulf” in all of its informational products, including Google Maps.

Historically, the name “Persian Gulf” is undisputed. The Greek geographer and astronomer Ptolemy referencing in his writings the “Aquarius Persico.” The Romans referred to the "Mare Persicum." The Arabs historically call the body of water, "Bahr al-Farsia." The legal precedent of this nomenclature is also indisputable, with both the United Nations and the United States Board of Geographic Names confirming the sole legitimacy of the term “Persian Gulf.” Agreement on this matter has also been codified by the signatures of all six bordering Arab countries on United Nations directives declaring this body of water to be the Persian Gulf.

But in the past century, and particularly at times of escalating tensions, there have been efforts to exploit the name of the Persian Gulf as a political tool to foment ethnic division. From colonial interests to Arab interests to Iranian interests, the opening of debate regarding the name of the Persian Gulf has been a recent phenomenon that has been exploited for political gain by all sides. Google should not enable these politicized efforts.

In the 1930s, British adviser to Bahrain Sir Charles Belgrave proposed to rename the Persian Gulf, “Arabian Gulf,” a proposal that was rejected by the British Colonial and Foreign offices. Two decades later, the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company resurrected the term during its dispute with Mohammad Mossadegh, the Iranian Prime Minister whose battle with British oil interests would end in a U.S.-sponsored coup d'état that continues to haunt U.S.-Iran relations. In the 1960s, the title “Arabian Gulf” became central to propaganda efforts during the Pan-Arabism era aimed at exploiting ethnic divisions in the region to unite Arabs against non-Arabs, namely Iranians and Israelis. The term was later employed by Saddam Hussein to justify his aims at territorial expansion. Osama Bin Laden even adopted the phrase in an attempt to rally Arab populations by emphasizing ethnic rivalries in the Middle East.

We have serious concerns that Google is now playing into these efforts of geographic politicization. Unfortunately, this is not the first time Google has stirred controversy on this topic. In 2008, Google Earth began including the term “Arabian Gulf” in addition to Persian Gulf as the name for the body of water. NIAC and others called on you then to stop using this ethnically divisive propaganda term, but to no avail. Instead of following the example of organizations like the National Geographic Society, which in 2004 used term “Arabian Gulf” in its maps but recognized the error and corrected it, Google has apparently decided to allow its informational products to become politicized.

Google should rectify this situation and immediately include the proper name for the Persian Gulf in Google Maps and all of its informational products. The exclusion of the title of the Persian Gulf diminishes your applications as informational tools, and raises questions about the integrity and accuracy of information provided by Google.

We strongly urge you to stay true to Google’s mission – “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” – without distorting or politicizing that information. We look forward to an explanation from you regarding the recent removal of the Persian Gulf name from Google Maps and call on you to immediately correct this mistake.

Sincerely,

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