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Video: Ruling #Iran – The Life of Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamenei

21 Oct Ali_Khamenei_(cropped).jpeg

To date, most of what we know about the life of Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei comes from Iran’s state media. As useful as it may be, we have to remember that the media in Iran is heavily censored.

As the most powerful man in Iran, Ayatollah Khamenei’s background and experiences are important for Iran watchers around the world. After all, it is our experiences which make us who we are today.

The BBC documentary below is one of the few investigative programs which has been made about the life of Ayatollah Khamenei.

In it, members of his family (who now live abroad), his former cell mate and other figures who have met him are interviewed.

This documentary was made in 2011. In my opinion, it is by far one of the most informative documentaries made about the life of the man who has the last word regarding Iran’s nuclear program.


شرکت در برنامه صفحه ٢ بی بی سی فارسی:امکان تشکیل کشورمستقل فلسطین

20 Oct 081218page_2_titles_512
چند روز پیش در برنامه صفحه ٢ آخر هفته بی بی سی فارسی شرکت کردم.
در این برنامه, همراه با مهراد واعظی نژاد کارشناس مسائل خاورمیانه و داریوش محمد پور، نویسنده و پژوهشگر علوم سیاسی در مورد به رسمیت شناخته شدن کشور مستقل فلسطین در مجلس عوام بریتانیا و عواقب ان گفتگو کردیم.
سوال دیگری که مطرح شد این بود که “چرا با این که تاکنون، بیش از ۱۳۰ کشور جهان، فلسطین را به عنوان یک کشور مستقل به رسمیت شناخته اند؛ هنوز خبری از وجود کشور فلسطین نیست؟”

Documentary: prostitution in #Iran

19 Oct iran prostitutes

The news about the recent acid attacks against a number of women in my ancestral city of Esfahan in Iran came as a shock, mainly because of its severity.

The regime does crackdown against women. There are arrests and some are even imprisoned. But this kind of violent attack by unknown assailants is foreign to many Iranians. Mention acid attacks against women and most Iranians are likely to tell you that this is far more likely to happen in other countries where extremism is more prevalent among the population. One reason why you are likely to hear such a response is because it is believed that the women were “targeted for not being properly veiled”.

This recent attack should start ringing alarm bells. Whether the government will crackdown hard against such extremism against women is unclear. One member of the Iranian parliament has pointed to Israel as well as other foreign countries as being behind these attacks!!

These attacks are not the only sign which show how life for women in Iran has gotten worst after the 1979 revolution. There are several government imposed discriminations against them, in society and at the work place. This is despite the fact that women form the majority of University graduates in Iran.

Iranian women also suffer because of poverty, much like the rest of society. But because there are fewer opportunities available to them, over the years increasing number have been forced into prostitution. This includes married women, and young girls.

The short documentary below which was made in Iran discusses this phenomenon and interviews a number of prostitutes. They discuss why they chose this profession and what life in Iran is like for women, especially those who do not belong to the upper class.

Video discussion: What To Expect From #Iran Nuclear Talks

16 Oct Secretary_Kerry,_Iranian_Foreign_Minister_Zarif_Sit_Down_For_Second_Day_of_Nuclear_Talks_in_Vienna

Yesterday I took part in a panel On Huffington Post TV, where alongside three other specialists we talked about whether there will be an agreement between Iran and the P5+1, which obstacles remain and what happens if there is no deal.

My  co-panelists were:

  • Joe Cirincione @Cirincione (Washington, DC) President of Ploughshares Fund
  • Negar Mortazavi @NegarMortazavi (New York, NY) Freelance Journalist
  • Reza Marashi @rezamarashi (Vienna, Austria) Research Director at National Iranian American Council

You can watch the panel discussion here

Iranians’ anger is fuelled by ‘Rich Kids’

15 Oct rich-kids-2

My latest article for the Jewish Chronicle discusses the massive social gaps in Iran illustrated by the Rich Kids of Tehran Instagram page, what it says about the 1979 revolution, its achievements and failures.

You can read the article here

Iranians, Israelis could live with ‘bad’ nuclear deal

14 Oct kham-netan

The Israeli and Iranian publics can live with what their leaders each consider a “bad” nuclear deal.

My latest article explains:

Top ten reasons why an independent Palestinian state would be good for #Israel

13 Oct palestine-israel

It takes two sides to make peace. Both Israel and Palestinians have to sacrifice, have to compromise.

However there are some in Israel who are opposed to the creation of an independent state. I am not. I am for it, once negotiations have been completed by both sides. I think it would be good for Israelis too. I have explained the reasons why below.

  1. It will save Israel from the real possibility of becoming a binational apartheid state. This is because demographically speaking, if Israel continues to occupy Palestinian lands in the next 20 years there will be more Palestinians than Israelis living under Israeli rule. Unless there is a state of Palestine, we either have to: – give the Palestinians living under our rule the vote = end of Israel as a Jewish state, or we deprive the majority Palestinians of the right to vote = making Israel an apartheid state.
  2. It will enable Israel to establish diplomatic relations with 57 Arab and Muslim countries, as per the Arab Peace Initiative (API).
  3. Peace with Palestine and the establishment of a Palestinian state will mean more trade with Arab countries =  more jobs and revenue for the Israeli economy.
  4. A Palestinian state, with set borders will enable the economy of Palestine to grow. Less poverty and more jobs + an end to the occupation of their land = less reason for the people of Palestine to support Palestinian extremists who only want war against Israel.
  5. The end of occupation will mean more legitimacy for Israel to strike back at terrorists inside Palestinian territory, if they decide to launch attacks from internationally recognized Palestinian borders. The end of occupation of Lebanon in 2000 and return to Israel’s borders has made it infinitely more difficult for Hezbollah to justify new attacks against Israel and more justifiable for Israel to strike back when under attack. Just compare how many attacks there were by Hezbollah against Israeli army and civilian targets during the occupation of Lebanon and how many were after the end of occupation.  The difference is not just big, its huge
  6. The occupation is corrupting Israeli society. Trauma of aggression taught to soldiers to use against Palestinians is brought home by soldiers and at times used against their own family / other members of society
  7. It would be a huge setback for those in the Iranian regime who abuse the Palestinian issue to divert attention from corruption and problems at home.
  8. A major setback for extremist groups such as Al Qaida and ISIS. Not to mention Hezbollah.
  9. The occupation is allowing extremists in the Israeli society to grow and prosper. Inside the West Bank, when a Palestinian commits a crime, any crime, he is arrested and investigated by the army and the SHABAK intelligence services. When an Israeli in the West Bank commits a crime, its the job of the poorer and the less organized police to investigate. This makes it much more difficult to arrest extremists in the West Bank. Case in point: look at how many attacks there have been by extremists against Mosques and Palestinians farmers and citizens in the West Bank.
  10. Many of the illegal settlements (according to Israeli law) are a major economic and military burden for Israel, while interrupting the lives of ordinary Palestinians.

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