Archives for the month of: July, 2008

The speeches from the two Iranian journalists at Campaign Iran’s ‘Iran, War and Media’ meeting have now been translated into English. Click on the links below to download Word documents of the speeches:

1. Summary of meeting

2. Lily Farhadpour (Iranian journalist and founder of Women for Peace in Iran)

3. Mashallah Shomsolvaezin (Iranian journalist and spokesperson for Association of Press Freedom in Iran)

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by Naz Massoumi / source: Campaign Iran

Developments in the last few days have left many in the anti-war movement confused over the prospects of a US or Israeli attack on Iran. The decision by the US to send a senior official to yesterday’s meeting in Geneva between Iran and European powers over Iran’s nuclear programme will be the first time the countries have met over the issue and has been welcomed by many as a shift in US foreign policy. Taken together with reports of US plans to open a diplomatic mission in Iran for the first time since the Iranian Revolution of 1979, the news appears to contradict other developments in recent weeks.

In early June this year the Israeli army carried out one of the largest military exercises in its history – flying one hundred F-15 and F-16 fighter jets 1500 km across the Mediterranean, the same distance from Israel to Iran’s nuclear facilities – in what was generally regarded as a dry run for an attack on Iran. This news followed on from an article in the New Yorker by the investigative journalist Seymour Hersh unveiling the US government’s allocation of $400 million for covert operations inside Iran, including support for separatist groups. 

All this comes on the back of several years of sabre-rattling from Washington and Tel Aviv, the presence of a huge US naval fleet in the Persian Gulf and endless hostile rhetoric over Iran’s nuclear programme.  So news of US diplomacy appears to represent a very sharp shift.

But these mixed signals should not come as a surprise. Whilst US Vice President Dick Cheney is intent on war, others are opposed to it including the US military itself. In March this year, Admiral William Fallon resigned from his post as Commander of US Central Command after expressing his opposition to a war against Iran in an Esquire magazine interview. On returning from Israel late in June, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen publicly voiced opposition to an Israeli attack. This is not because they are in anyway anti-war, they just know an attack is incredibly high-risk. In the words of the IAEA chief El-Baradei “it would turn the region into a fireball”.  Aside from its ability to retaliate through its allied forces like Hezbollah in the Lebanon, Iran could shut down the Straits of Hormuz where the bulk of Middle Eastern oil is shipped. With oil at $140 a barrel, this makes a lot of people nervous.

So there are huge divisions in Washington over an attack on Iran and the mixed signals are an expression of these divisions.

This however, doesn’t mean we should be complacent.  Shaul Mofaz, Israel’s Transportation minister and potentially next Prime Minister, has repeated his threats of attacking Iran if it continues with the nuclear programme. More worrying, was last week’s Sunday Times piece which quoted a senior Pentagon official that Bush had given Israel an ‘amber light’ for an Israeli strike.

But there’s no point sitting around and speculating. As long as the US remains bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan, the threat to Iran will remain. The anti-war movement has prevented a war against Iran thus far. We must mobilise to ensure that remains the case for good.

 

Campaign Iran’s Thursday 10 July meeting entitled ‘Iran, War and Media’ was received enthusiastically by the more than 250 people who attended to hear the succinct argument of the Iranian presenters, who despite restrictions, demonstrated an independent democracy movement is really is alive and well in the country. The meeting was chaired by the Iranian born academic Baroness Haleh Afshar, Professor of Politics at York University, who attended to the questions and answer session in the last 50 minutes in dialogue with comments from Guardian journalist Martin Woollacott. Alys Zaerin spoke for Campaign Iran about the current and continual threat of war.

The following is a brief overview of the speeches of the two leading Iranian journalists and activists Lily Farhadpour and Mashallah Shamsolvaezin by Mehri Honarbin-Holliday,a research fellow at Canterbury Christ Church University and the author of ‘Becoming Visible in Iran, Women in Contemporary Iranian Society’ and an active member of Campaign Iran:
 
Our speakers, the peace activist and journalist Lily Farhadpour, founder of ‘Women for Peace’, and Mashallah Shamsolvaezin journalist and spokesperson for the Association of Press Freedom in Iran analysed Iran’s complex political position both nationally and internationally. Farhadpour acknowledged that war against Iran does not simply mean military attacks, but a chain of multi-layered attitudes towards Iran by the West adopting policies of disinformation, demonization as well as sanctions. She drew on personal experience as a citizen of Iran, a journalist, a political activist, but above all as an anti-war anti-nuclear person to illuminate and analyse the double discourse of the state and the independent sector in Iran towards war. The differences between media controlled by the Iranian state, the press, radio and television etc., and those cultural and political endeavours and outputs initiated by the private and independent sector thus emerged. She severely criticised the Western press for their lack of interest in projecting the discourse of resistance and peace in Iran, seeking instead to project the state rhetoric as the only political trajectory worth discussing. She stated that the West resists to understand the complexity of the developing discourses of democracy in Iran.
 
Mashallah Shamsolvaezin set forth a five-point theoretical framework determining Iran’s critical political history in the past three decade since the 1979 Revolution. He asked whether and how Iran might have the ability to play a lasting role, and influence, in the regional and international political stability. He illuminated the ways in which attitudes, forces and policies from outside Iran directly influence the Iranian regime’s crisis management and crisis control, often resulting in an air of mistrust towards Iranian citizens internally as well as acute conspiracy complex and anti-foreign stance, in particular towards the West. He appealed to the Iranian government to hear the cry of the Iranian people for freedom, democracy, and peace and reconstruction, and urged the Western leaders to refrain from burning the hopes and opportunities the Iranians have for reaching for bright horizons. He acknowledged that as a journalist he belonged to the family and community of journalist worldwide and urged the US to place attention on the desires, capabilities, and potential of the Iranian people for co-existing with the world, rather than seeking to push the Iranian government to dead-end politics.

Campaign Iran apologises to those who came but could not gain entry. We had to close the doors once the meeting was full due to health & safety precautions. Full translations of the meetings will be available in due course.

source: Times Online

As Tehran tests new missiles, America believes only a show of force can deter President Ahmadinejad

Uzi Mahnaimi in Washington

President George W Bush has told the Israeli government that he may be prepared to approve a future military strike on Iranian nuclear facilities if negotiations with Tehran break down, according to a senior Pentagon official.

Despite the opposition of his own generals and widespread scepticism that America is ready to risk the military, political and economic consequences of an airborne strike on Iran, the president has given an “amber light” to an Israeli plan to attack Iran’s main nuclear sites with long-range bombing sorties, the official told The Sunday Times.

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source: CASMII

On Monday July 14th Israel’s senior defence official, General Amos Gilad during an interview with BBC Radio four’s Today programme said that Israel is preparing itself to take military action against Iran and that it would do so if diplomacy fails. The statement came only a day after the Sunday Times revealed that “President George W Bush backs Israeli plan for strike on Iran”.

These threats are being made following reports of Israeli aerial military exercise in the first week of June which involved over 100 F-15 and F-16 fighters and was described by a senior Pentagon official as a dress rehearsal for a military strike on Iranian nuclear plants. In the same week, Shaol Mofaz, Israel’s deputy prime minister publicly stated that if Iran continues with its nuclear programme, Israel “will attack it”.

All of Iran’s nuclear plants are under Safeguards agreements with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which after over five years of intrusive inspections has found no evidence of any diversion into a weaponisation programme. In mid June, Dr ElBaradei, the Agency’s Director General threatened to resign if there is any attack on Iran.

Israel’s threats against Iran are in gross violation of the UN Charter which clearly states in Article 2 that “All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.”

The Nuremberg Tribunal, which brought Nazi leaders to justice for their wars of aggression, confirmed that “War is essentially an evil thing. Its consequences are not confined to the belligerent states alone, but affect the whole world. To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.”

In relation to the US led invasion of Iraq in 2003, Benjamin Ferencz, a former chief prosecutor at the Nuremberg Trials who worked on the U.S. legal team and successfully convicted 22 Nazis, stated that “The United Nations charter has a provision which was formulated by and agreed to by the United States after World War II. It says that from now on, no nation can use armed force without the permission of the U.N. Security Council. They can use force in connection with self-defence, but a country can’t use force in anticipation of self-defence.” Israel is neither under attack nor threat of immediate attack by Iran.

CASMII calls on all the international community, the UN, the US Congress, the EU, in particular the UK, France and Germany as well as Russia and China to condemn Israel’s threats of military action against Iran. We call on the US to enter into immediate, direct, unconditional and comprehensive negotiations with Iran on all points of dispute so that a catastrophic war and a major conflagration in the Middle East and beyond can be averted and the present stand-off can be resolved in a peaceful manner.

For more information or to contact CASMII visit http://www.campaigniran.org

Copyright © Steve Bell 2008 / source: The Guardian

source: CASMII
On Thursday July 3, the National Peace Council in Iran convened its first meeting. Tens of prominent individuals engaged in various spheres of political, social and cultural work held the inaugural meeting of the founding committee of the National Peace Council.
The meeting expressed strong opposition to war and sanctions, calling for an end to the situation of “neither war, no peace”, so detrimental to the economy as well as the democratic and civil society movement in Iran.
 
In this conference, political and civil society activists, from Dr Shirin Ebadi, the Iranian Peace Nobel Laureate and Dr Ebrahim Yazdi, the Secretary General of the “Nehzat-e Azaadi-e Iran” (Iran’s Freedom Movement), to Dr Khosrow Paarsa, the renown physician exchanged their views and discussed various issues.
 
This gathering followed the call on November 19, 2007 by Shirin Ebadi, the Head of the Centre for Defenders of Human Rights, who in a public gathering intended for unifying and organising the peace movement in Iran, invited all Iranian peace lovers to do whatever in their power to achieve a long lasting peace in Iran. A Temporary Committee for Peace, which was then set up, invited a large number of civil society, political and cultural activists to form the founding committee of the National Peace Council.
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Campaign Iran is pleased to announce that Martin Woollacott, The Guardian newspaper journalist and commentator will be joining our panel for tomorrow’s meeting at SOAS. The details are:

IRAN, WAR AND MEDIA

organised by Campaign Iran

MARTIN WOOLLACOTT
former foreign correspondent, foreign editor and commentator on international
affairs for the Guardian newspaper

MASHALLAH SHAMSOLVAEZIN
Iranian journalist and spokesperson for Association of Press Freedom (Iran)

LILY FARHADPOUR
Iranian journalist & active member of Women for Peace (Iran)

ALYS ZAERIN
Campaign Iran

chaired by
BARONESS HALEH AFHSAR – Professor in Politics and Women’s studies

THURSDAY JULY 10TH
6:30PM ROOM G2 SOAS
Thornhaugh Street
Russell Square
London WC1H 0XG

More info:
dontattackiran@campaigniran.co.uk

CASMII Press Release /8 July 2008

 

In an interview with NPR on his latest New Yorker Article, titled ‘Preparing the battlefield’, the renowned investigative journalist Seymour Hersh reveals more striking details of his findings on the aim of the $400 million budgeted US covert operations inside Iran. He provides valuable information on US military preparations to strike the country, on the total expansion of the Bush Administration’s executive power, about the US recognition of Iran’s overall positive role in Iraq and on the US support for the anti-Iran terrorist organisations Jondollah, PJAK and MEK.
 
Hersh explains that the aim of the US covert operations inside Iran is to create a pretext for attack with the goal of regime change. “The strategic thinking behind this covert operation is to provoke enough trouble and chaos so that the Iranian government makes the mistake of taking aggressive action which will give the impression of a country in acute turmoil”, he said. “Then you have what the White House calls the ‘casus belli’, a reason to attack the country. That is the thinking and it is very crazy.”
Read more…
 
Listen to the whole interview here .
For more information or to contact CASMII please visit http://www.campaigniran.org

by Mehri Honarbin-Holliday (Campaign Iran)

In recent weeks, Israel’s relentless discourse of immanent military attacks on a variety of sites in Iran, including the channels for refined oil returning to Iran and nuclear installations, have dominated the world press. In the US this week, the Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has told the pro Israeli lobbyists in the Bush administration that the military option against Iran remains on the table. This is despite his promises of  offering a discourse of diplomacy through “meaningful concessions” during his campaign to become the first black president in the US. The map below shows how Iran is surrounded by US military bases, except from the north because of Russia’s presence, and how the countries which are not a direct military base are either occupied by the US forces, or are tied to the US dollar as clients for vast quantities of military equipment, or receive US dollars to sustain regimes which favour US Imperialism.

 

The Iranian nation meanwhile suffers on multi levels.

The promise of military attacks deeply exacerbates the existing uncertainties and demoralises the nation. This  is just one of the elements poignantly outlined and reflected on this week by the Iranian academia in an open letter to the world asking for Long-lasting Peace. They put it to the world that Iran suffers profoundly from the negative impacts of this ‘virtual war’, directly damaging internal political developments, bringing massive inflation, promoting  economic stagnation, and bearing ever tighter political, technical and scientific restrictions.  They suggest that the US and the world would do better to place attention on Pakistan’s possession of nuclear weapons and the likelihood of extremist groups gaining access to these deadly weapons, which would extend beyond its immediate neighbours.

The promise of military attacks further aggravates the lasting wounds of the imposed eight year war with Iraq. Iranian citizens in Ahvaz and its environs in the South East continue to suffer from the chemical fall out buried in the sands which in the summer sandstorms and summer heat contaminate the air. The US supplied Saddam Hussein with experimental chemical weapons during the war against Iran, and this fall out is currently taking the life of the elderly and the physically vulnerable.

The widely implemented unilateral US sanctions continue to have severe consequences. Economic hardships is damaging the nation, the economically vulnerable women who have to feed and shelter children, men and women who have to work very long hours in two or three jobs to provide the most basic needs of their families, students who need to pay for transport to get to their places of education, and those in the industry who are driven to bankruptcy because they cannot sustain the foreign currency exchange rates to acquire supplies from overseas. Regular daily power cuts bring disruptions damaging to the country’s infrastructures, the hospitals, the industry, educational institutions as well as limiting the flow of life in the urban space and domestically in homes, whether in the heat of the summer or the cold of the winter.

 

Why should Iran and the Iranian nation be punished so savagely by the  Imperialist West? Is it not because Iran refuses to be subordinated in the manner the US expects of Iran’s neighbouring countries illustrated in the map above. Is it not because Iran desires to remain sovereign of its destiny rather than succumbing to the US’s expansionist designs for Iran and the region? Does this not refresh our memories of the late 1940s and 1950s when for the love of oil and specific geopolitics the US directly influenced a coup d’état and ousted the democratically elected prime minister Dr Mossadegh in favour of the Shah.  In Iran today, there is no division between the Iranian government and the Iranian nation in wishing to remain sovereigns of their own affairs, and there is no division in when it comes to thinking and planning for the future generations’ need for new sources of energy. Like any self-respecting modern country Iran needs electricity to sustain supplies to the country’s infrastructures, the industry, and scientific laboratories. Iran needs to explore other means and possibilities, other sources of energy through nuclear development. There has been no evidence so far that Iran is developing nuclear energy for weaponry to attack the world; Iran has not attacked any country in the past 200 years.

 

Military attacks on Iran will have unprecedented and profoundly grave consequences for world peace. Military attacks on Iran will not be received quietly by the Muslim world whose boundaries reach the depths of the Far East as well as the Western world. Military attacks on Iran will mobilize profound hatred from Iran’s Muslim neighbours even if they are under the rule of the US. Any military attack on Iran will be a human catastrophe, and an ecological disaster, and a self-inflicting affliction for the West. As the Peace Laureate  Shirin Ebadi has said in an interview with the Guardian:

“Undoubtedly a military attack on Iran would worsen human rights in the country. Look at Iraq – now the fundamentalists have a pretext for their extremism- no one talks about freedom of speech or human rights. People just want a safe shelter. Do you think that since the US troops arrived in Iraq that the Iraqi people have become prosperous?”

The Bush administration in its last shameful months, the misguided neoconservatives, and the Israeli government will do better to follow the European lead in seeking diplomatic solutions through a comprehensive diplomatic initiative which keeps channels of discussion open. Javier Solana, The European Union foreign policy envoy, has visited Iran representing amongst others Britain, France, Germany, Russia, and China, to encourage Iran to suspend the enrichment of uranium offering a new package of incentives. These, some sources reveal, might also offer discussions about help and advice for safe nuclear development for civilian energy use.

As for Barak Obama, he’ll practically shoot himself in the foot if he attacks Iran when in office! He would do much better if he follows his own promise for change, and his own discourse of meaningful concessions.

See David Batty, Friday June 13, The Guardian for Shirin Ebadi interview

Ian Black, Saturday June 7 The Guardian