Tag Archives: middle-east

The Rise & Fall of Iran in Arab and Muslim Eyes – A New Poll

6 Mar

Today Zogby Research Services released its 

“latest poll of views on Iran and its policies from 20 Arab and Muslim nations – including the Gulf and the Arabian Peninsula States, the Maghreb, Egypt and Sudan – and non-Arab Muslim neighbors of Turkey, Pakistan and Azerbaijan.”

This is a fascinating poll.

The numbers really do not look good for the regime.

See in this presentation how Iran’s favorable rating has fallen, and in some cases plummeted in the Middle East since 2006.

The same presentation shows that majority of those countries surveyed are against a military strike against Iran, nevertheless, between 2006 and 2012, the number of those supporting a military strike has almost doubled in each country.

The good news for Iran is that its popularity among the region’s Shia remains strong. Countries such as Bahrain and Saudi Arabia and their racist policies towards local Shia is most probably responsible for this.


The bottom line of Zogby’s findings are listed as follows:

“1. There is a growing antipathy toward Iran across the Arab World and among Iran’s non-Arab neighbors.

2. Iran’s unfavorable ratings appear to be driven by its policies in Iraq, Syria, the Arab Gulf region, in general, and by its nuclear program.

3. Most Arab Muslims, of all sects, see their Arab culture as superior to the culture of Iran. They see themselves as more generous and knowledgeable, less violent, and as having made a more significant contribution to Islamic civilization.

4. Iran has made serious inroads into the region’s Shia population, especially in Bahrain, Iraq, Yemen, and Saudi Arabia.

5. There is near consensus that the region should be a “nuclear free zone” and deep concern with Iran’s nuclear program. There is strong support in most countries for internationally imposed sanctions to deter Iran’s program. While majorities everywhere but Turkey oppose any military strikes against Iran should they continue to develop a nuclear capacity, the percentage of those who would support military strikes has increased since 2006, with a deep division among Sunni and Shia communities on this question. A majority of Sunnis in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Azerbaijan would support the military option.”

You can watch the video of the report’s presentation at The Woodraw Wilson Center.

Questioning Assassinated Iranian Official’s Secretive Past

25 Feb

In her article “On the Assassination of an Iranian in Syria” Farideh Fardi casts doubts on the claim made by Hojatoelslam Alireza Panahian that Hassan Shateri, the assassinated Iranian official in Syria had taken part in secret activities. (This claim was made by Panahian as part of his eulogy for Shateri)

According to her article, Farideh Farhi’s doubts emerge partly from the analysis of Panahian’s Wikipedia page. According to Professor Fardi, there is nothing which proves the claim made on his Wikipedia page that he is an influential cleric. She also asks whether it “makes sense to assume” that Shateri would share his secret activities with “a Panahian-type preacher?”

There is little doubt that Wikipedia is not the most reliable place to research the past and activities of Iranian officials, especially lesser known ones.

Farideh Farhi’s research in other places on the internet whereupon she also discovered that “there is no evidence that he (Panahian) was anything but a child during the Iran-Iraq War” are also insufficient in undermining Panahian claims that Shateri had made secret contributions.

This is due to several important reasons:

1. Panahian never stated that Shateri had shared secrets with him. His only statement was that Shateri’s “secret contributions cannot be mentioned”.

2. Panahian’s claims about the secret activities of Shateri have not been refuted by any Iranian official.

3. The death of Shateri was confirmed by the head of Iran’s IRGC Quds force commander Quasem Soleymani. There is no reason to doubt his credentials or that he is involved in secret operations. Soleymani does not confirm the death of any ordinary official.

4. Ali Shirazi Ayatollah Khamenei’s representative to the Quds force has threatened Israel with revenge for the death of Shateri.  The supreme leader’s representative to such a secretive and important organization does not threaten revenge for the death of any ordinary person.

Despite the fact that neither on Wikipedia nor on any other places on the internet there is any mention or proof that Panahian has been exposed to secrets or is a member of a secret services organization (nor is there any reason to believe that there would be), nevertheless, reaction of regime officials have done much to validate Panahian’s claim that Shateri had taken part in secret activities.

Israel Coalition Talks: Anyone Remember Iran?

24 Feb

According to a recent survey, if elections were held again in Israel, Likud Beitenu would lose ten seats (fall from 32 to 22) while Yair Lapid would gain 11 seats (from 19 to 30), thus making Yesh Atid the biggest political party in Israel.

And why the big jump?

It seems that Lapid’s insistence that Netanyahu accepts his plan for equal draft laws for all in Israel before entering Netanyahu’s coalition government is paying off. This and his ability to form a strong coalition with Naftali Bennet have made life very difficult for Netanyahu, and this seems to be impressing voters.

As I wrote before, there are quite a few aspects of Naftali Bennet’s political platform which I am against. But I must admit that Bennet’s unity with Lapid and his insistence and steadfastness against joining Netanyahu unless he allows Lapid into the coalition plus his demand for equal draft laws for all in Israel have been quite impressive.

In this regard, Bennet deserves a thumbs up. He is showing that domestic issues in Israel which many voted for are important to him.

Neither Lapid nor Bennet have any political experience, yet their unity is making some of the seasoned politicians in Israel sweat. Quite impressive.

Netanyahu needs Lapid. A government without him will most probably consist of ultra right-wing elements, which will bring even more isolation upon Israel. It could also collapse soon as there is little chance that such a government would allow Livni to offer much compromise to the Palestinians. This could translate into her leaving the coalition, thus making new elections more inevitable than before.

One thing is becoming clear: when it comes to unequal draft laws in Israel, changes are upon us. Enough is enough.

p.s – anyone remember Iran? because not a word about it is being mentioned in the coalition talks. Of course at the next Aipac conference Netanyahu will most probably talk about it as if Israel stands on the point of annihilation, but as you can see, here in Israel the reality is different.

How much would Obama’s visit to Israel cost?

8 Feb

Obama is scheduled to visit Israel within the next few weeks, and there are already discussions about the “cost” of his visit. When I say cost, I am referring to the political cost.

This weekend's edition of Sof Hashavua

This weekend’s edition of Sof Hashavua

According to the Israeli weekend newspaper Sof Hashavu (pictured right), the cost to Netanyahu will be one year freeze in the construction of settlements.

The reason being that Netanyahu is expecting a major international push for the peace process to restart. In order to reduce the upcoming pressure, the report says that there will be a one year construction freeze.

Israeli papers have also been reporting that the Netanyahu government is worried about Obama coming here before coalition negotiations for the next government are over. It is  very likely that Obama will embrace Yair Lapid‘s new party because of its more centrist values. This could increase Lapid’s leverage in the negotiations, something which Likud Beitenu would not want.

For now Lapid and Naftali Bennet’s party have formed a united front in demanding that Netanyahu agrees to new draft laws for the religious students. Lets see how far they get. I hope they don’t give in.

I will be happy with a one year freeze. It would be a mistake for Abbas to reject it.  The fact that Obama will be going to Ramallah during his trip is a sign that he too is likely to be placed under pressure to negotiate.

By Retaliating Against Israel, Assad Could Risk His Entire Regime

4 Feb

Assad is under pressure to retaliate against Israel. According to Israel’s Channel 2 Middle East expert Ehud Yaari, for the first time in recent Syrian history, Syrians are coming  on Television and are asking their government to attack Israel on the Golan. According to Yaari this is unprecedented as the Assad family tried to suppress such calls for many years as it did not want to embroil itself in a war against Israel. The fact that such calls are being made publicly now could mean that Assad is preparing his retaliation.

What Assad has to take into consideration is that by attacking Israel, he will risk the stability of his regime.

In the event of a Syrian attack against Israel, should the situation escalate, its possible that the Israeli air force will target his air force. All of his air force, including his helicopters.

Should that happen, it will be much easier for the US and its allies to deploy a no fly zone over Syria to prevent the humanitarian disaster there from worsening, and to weaken Assad.

Losing his aerial superiority will bode very badly for Assad and his forced as this has given them much advantage until now. The loss of his air force could embolden the opposition forces to move against him with more motivation and energy thus speeding up his downfall.

This does not mean that Assad will not retaliate. He is under pressure at home. It also seems that he is being encouraged by Iranian officials. The commander of the IRGC Mohammad Ali Jaafari stated after Israel’s attack that “The Zionist regime (of Israel) can only be dealt with through resistance and retaliation”.

Basher Al Assad has to be very careful about his decision to retaliate against Israel. Perhaps more than ever as he risks losing his air force, and this is something that Iran, and quite possibly not even the Russians could help him replace. Without his air force, the number of Assad’s days in power could be halved, at least.

Iran: Where is the IAEA?

29 Jan

So was there or was there not an explosion at the Fordo site in Iran last week? 

According to a story published today in Times of London:

 An explosion is believed to have damaged Iran’s Fordow nuclear facility, which is being used to enrich uranium, Israeli intelligence officials have told The Times. Sources in Tel Aviv said yesterday that they thought the explosion happened last week. The Israeli Government is investigating reports that it led to extensive structural damage and 200 workers had been trapped inside.

But to make things more interesting, the Americans are contradicting this statement.

According to Reuters:

The United States does not believe media reports about an explosion at an Iranian uranium enrichment plant, White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters on Monday.

So who is right and who is wrong?

Well, first lets see if the Iranians are going to change their current official stance, which states “there was no explosion at Fordo“.

If there is no change there, then lets hear what the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has to say about the alleged explosion.

The IAEA sends its inspectors to Fordo in Iran to check the quantity (ie. Kg) as well as level of uranium enrichment (ie.20%) at Fordo.

If for any reason they are blocked from visiting the Fordo during their next visit to Iran, then that could be interpreted as a sign that something is wrong.

But if they are allowed to visit as per usual and they find nothing has been changed or damaged, then WND which broke the story first is going to lose a lot of credibility. So is everyone else who said that there was an explosion in Fordo.

My Latest Article: Elections Unlikely to Change Israel’s Iran Strategy

25 Jan

Netanyahu did worst in the recent elections than the one before in February 2009.
His coalition is now likely to include the more moderate – centrist party”Yesh Atid” party headed by Yair Lapid.

Yet none of these are going to impact Netanyahu’s Iran policy which relies heavily on threatening war.

My latest article explains.