Our Reality Can Beat Up Your Reality. Spreading False News Stories on Iran

Taxpayer-Funded Propaganda for Trolls, by Trolls

Global Research, June 17, 2019

Twitter has declared victory over disinformation, deplatforming thousands of pro-Iranian Twitter accounts this week to coincide with US Secretary of State “Rapture Mike” Pompeo’s evidence-free declaration that Iran had attacked two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman. But the mass deletion is merely an effort to distract from the implosion of two anti-Iran troll campaigns dedicated to smearing pro-peace Americans, both tacitly Twitter-approved. And there’s plenty more where those came from. As US media and politicians continues to hyperventilate about Russian bots, who’s the real troll-master?

Pompeo was out front with the blame hours after the attack, absent a shred of proof beyond unspecified “intelligence” and a few other dubious incidents in the Middle East that the US has previously pinned on Iran (also absent a shred of proof). But even mainstream media has initially been reluctant to take his word for it, mostly because the narrative is so improbable – Japan’s PM Shinzo Abe was in Tehran when it happened, promising to make the “utmost effort” to de-escalate tensions, when, as if on cue, one Japanese ship and another carrying Japanese cargo were hit? What are the odds?

When even CNN acknowledged that the attack “doesn’t appear to benefit any of the protagonists in the region,” and Bloomberg admitted “Iran has little to gain” from blowing up the ships of its esteemed guest, Pompeo clearly understood another route of influence was required. Who better to call in for reinforcements than Twitter, which has demonstrated time and again its willingness to serve the US’ preferred narrative with mass deplatformings? 4,779 accounts believed to be “associated or backed by Iran” were removed – less than an hour after Pompeo’s declaration of Iranian guilt – for nothing more than tweeting “global news content, often with an angle that benefited the diplomatic and geostrategic views of the Iranian state.” This was deemed “platform manipulation,” and therefore unacceptable.

One troll down, thousands more to go

Tweeting with an angle that benefits the diplomatic and geostrategic views of the American state, however, is perfectly acceptable – at least, it wasn’t Twitter that brought the “Iran Disinformation Project” crashing to a halt earlier this month. The State Department officially ended its @IranDisinfo influence operation after the social media initiative, ostensibly created to “counter Iranian propaganda,” went rogue, smearing any and all critics of Trump’s hawkish Iran policy as paid operatives of the Iranian government. Human rights activists, students, journalists, academics, even insufficiently-militant American propagandists at RFE/RL, Voice of America and other US-funded outlets were attacked by @IranDisinfo – all on the US taxpayer’s dime.

Congress only learned of the project in a closed-door hearing on Monday, when the State Department confessed the troll campaign had taken $1.5 million in taxpayers’ money to attack those same taxpayers – all in the name of promoting “freedom of expression and free access to information.” The group contracted to operate Iran Disinfo, E-Collaborative for Civic Education, is run by an Iranian immigrant and claims to focus on strengthening “civil society” and “democracy” back home, though its work is almost exclusively US-focused and its connections with pro-war think tanks like the Foundation for Defense of Democracies have alarmed congressional staffers.

“What rules are in place to prevent state-funded organization from smearing American citizens? If there wasn’t public outcry, would the Administration have suspended funding for Iran Disinfo?” Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minnesota) tweeted after the mea culpa meeting. While the State Department was long barred from directing government-funded propaganda at its own citizens, that rule was quietly repealed in 2013 with the passage of the Smith-Mundt Modernization Act, which gave its narrative-spinners free reign to run influence operations at home. And while the Pentagon is technically forbidden from running psychological operations (“psy-ops”) against American citizens, that rule goes out the window in case of “domestic emergencies” – and the domestic emergency declared by then-President George W. Bush days after the September 11 terror attacks remains in effect, 18 years later.

Trump’s favorite anti-Iran troll

Nor was the State Department’s trolling operation the only anti-Iran psy-op to be unmasked in recent weeks. Heshmat Alavi, an anti-Iranian columnist promoted by the Trump administration and published in Forbes, the Hill, and several other outlets, was exposed by the Intercept as a propaganda construct operated by the Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK), a controversial Iranian exile group often called a cult that has only recently lobbied its way off the US’ terror list. The MEK is notorious for buying the endorsement of American political figures, and national security adviser John Bolton, Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), and former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani are among those who have spoken at its events.

Heshmat Alavi’s stories were used to sell Trump’s withdrawal from the Iran deal to the Washington Post and other more reputable outlets, as well as to promote the MEK as a “main Iranian opposition group” and viable option for post-regime-change leadership of Iran – even though it is very much fringe and hated by the majority of Iranians for fighting on the side of Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s. Indeed, Alavi’s relentless advocacy for the MEK may have scared off a few of the sites that initially published his work.

None of the editors who’d published Alavi’s work had ever spoken to him and none could provide the Intercept with any evidence that he was not, in fact, “a persona run by a team of people from the political wing of the MEK.” Defectors confirmed that Alavi is a small part of a massive US-directed propaganda campaign.

“We were always active in making false news stories to spread to the foreign press and in Iran,” a Canadian MEK defector told the Intercept, describing a comprehensive online propaganda operation run out of the group’s former base in Iraq that sought to control the narrative about Iran on Facebook and Twitter. Alavi may be gone, his account quietly suspended by Twitter in the wake of the Intercept’s unmasking and his stories pulled from Forbes and the Diplomat, but there are more where he came from. The Intercept delivered Twitter all the evidence they needed to take down the MEK’s trolling network, a swamp of “coordinated inauthentic behavior” in which Alavi was a prominent node, but the social network sat on its hands.

Friends funding fiends

Add to this toxic US-approved stew the Israeli astroturf operation Act.IL, which in 2018 took $1.1 million from Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs to troll Americans critical of Israeli policies, including its hostility toward Iran. Initially founded to combat the Iran nuclear deal, the Ministry’s mission has pivoted to combating the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, for which it receives significant US funding (Israeli Lt-Gen Gabi Ashkenazi admitted in 2012 that American taxpayers contribute more to the country’s defense budget than Israeli taxpayers). Act.IL boasts it has gotten Americans fired from their jobs, and the app encourages users to accuse American students and journalists who support BDS of antisemitism, mass-report their posts, and otherwise engage in what would be called “coordinated inauthentic behavior” if any other country did it.

Act.IL is by no means the only Israeli trolling campaign aimed at American eyeballs, either. Psy-Group, the Israeli private intelligence company that infamously pitched a social media influence operation to the Trump campaign, ran a multi-pronged online smear operation to influence a local election in California in 2017 and has pitched dozens more. The Israel on Campus Coalition attacks pro-Palestinian student activists and professors through coordinated social media campaigns, while The Israel Project operates a network of Facebook groups whose admitted purpose is to smuggle pro-Israeli propaganda into users’ newsfeeds by concealing it among bland inspirational messages.

Such clear-cut deception by state-sponsored actors is a blatant violation of Facebook’s policies as they’ve been applied to other users, but the site claims the Israeli groups are kosher. Yet of the pro-Iran accounts deleted by Twitter, one “set” included 248 accounts “engaged with discussions related to Israel specifically” – these were shut down for nothing more than their country of origin, even as inauthentic accounts run by Israel were given carte-blanche to spew propaganda. Twitter and Facebook don’t mind being weaponized in the propaganda wars, as long as they’re working for the “right” side.

As 21st century wars are fought more and more in the informational sphere, the brightly-colored propaganda posters of the previous century have been replaced with relatively sophisticated social media influence operations. What Pompeo can’t accomplish by lying to the American public, the State Department will attempt to achieve through the slow and steady drip of disinformation.

US politicians, meanwhile, remain so fixated on the “Russian trolls stole the election!” narrative they’ve been flogging for the last three years that the Senate last week unanimously passed a bill to restrict entry to any foreign national convicted of “election meddling,” a toothless piece of legislative virtue-signaling that reveals their utter disconnection from reality. It’s more than a little ironic that they’d embrace and even pay for foreign meddling as long as they believe the trolls are working for them.

As Friedrich Nietzsche said,

“Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster.” Or a troll.

*

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This article was originally published in abbreviated form on RT.

Helen Buyniski‘s work has been published at RT, Ghion Journal, Progressive Radio Network, and Veterans Today, among other outlets. A journalist and photographer based in New York City, Helen has a BA in Journalism from New School University and also studied at Columbia University and New York University. Find more of her work at http://www.helenofdestroy.com and http://medium.com/@helen.buyniski, or follow her on Twitter @velocirapture23. She is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

All images in this article are from the author

The Saker interviews Aram Mirzaei on Iran

The Saker

June 13, 2019

The Saker interviews Aram Mirzaei on Iran

[This interview was made for the Unz Review]

Introduction by the Saker:

For a while now we have been lucky enough to have a wonderful Iranian member of the Saker community writing analyses for the Saker Blog: Aram Mirzaei has brought a wealth of expertise and priceless insights into Iran and everything Iran-related. Clearly, after the DPRK, Syria and Venezuela – Iran is now the target of Trump’s ignorant hubris and threats and it is therefore extremely important to debunk of AngloZionist propaganda about Iran and its role and actions in the Middle-East. This interview with Aram Mirzaei is just the first step of a major effort by the Saker community to report more often about Iran. Expect much more in the near future. In the meantime, I will let Aram introduce himself and then reply to my questions.

The Saker

——-

My name is Aram Mirzaei, I’m 30 years old and live somewhere in Europe. Originally, I hail from western Iran, a place that is deeply rooted in my heart. Ever since my teenage years, I’ve had a passion for history and politics, a trait I inherited from my mother who was an Iranian revolutionary. Naturally, this passion made me choose to study political science all the way up to my Master’s degree. Having supported my country against foreign threats my entire adult life, I became an activist for the Resistance Axis when the Syrian War broke out in 2011 and have combined my passion for writing and politics, to contribute to the propaganda fight that runs in parallel with the fighting on the ground. Thus, I have endulged myself in anything related to Iran, in an effort to have a complete understanding of the land that I was born in and where my forefathers once dwelled in. Aside from these interests, I also love philosophy, sociology, religion, football (soccer) and trading, with a specific focus on crypto currencies.

The Saker: Please explain what an “Islamic Republic” is and how it is different from any other republic? What makes the Iranian political system unique? How democratic (vs theocratic) is it? Do you consider Iran to be a democratic country (in the sense that the will of the people is the highest, sovereign, authority)?

Aram Mirzaei: These are very relevant questions as this issue is something most outsiders have a hard time understanding. Growing up in the West, I myself had a hard time understanding this system until I read Imam Khomeini’s manifesto: Islamic Governance – rule of the jurisprudence.  Here, Khomeini offers a very unique viewpoint and insight into his ideas of a modern Islamic form of government. Khomeini views the Western democratic system as a foreign way of governance, not suited for Muslim countries, while he also correctly identifies the deep flaws within the contemporary Islamic forms of governance, that they are outdated monarchies prone to corruption and decadence.

Simply put, Khomeini offers a compromise between Western Democracy and Islamic Sharia law. To understand this form of government, one must understand the background of Shia Islamic scholarship and the theological debate regarding Islamic government. As many already know, modern Twelver Shia faith rest on the pillar of the Occultation, the belief that the messianic figure, also known as Mahdi, who in Shia theology is the last (Twelfth) infallible male descendant (Imam) of the prophet Mohammad, was born but disappeared, and will one day return and fill the world with justice and peace. In this time of post-Occultation the theory of Velayat-e Faqih (Rule of the Jurisprudence), holds that Islam shall give a Faqih (Islamic jurist) custodianship over the people, in the absence of the Hidden Imam.

The doctrine of Velayat-e Faqih has been an issue that has divided the Shia Islamic scholars between the ideas of a so called Limited Guardianship and an Absolute Guardianship of the jurisprudence. Traditionally, Limited Guardianship has been the dominant interpretation where Mujtahids (Islamic scholars) have left secular power to the monarchs while the Ulema’s (clerical class) role has been limited to non-litigious affairs. This interpretation holds that the Ulema should only assume an advisory role to the monarch who is responsible for the task of protecting the country. For centuries, especially during the time of the Safavid Shahs, Iran was ruled this way, with the Ulema assuming an advisory role in the royal court of the Shahs. Only during the Pahlavi dynasty of the 20th century did this begin to change as Reza Shah Pahlavi, initiated radical secular changes to the Iranian society as a whole.

The idea of Absolute Guardianship hails from the belief that collective affairs fall under the Guardianship of the Islamic Jurist. Before Khomeini, there had been a few scholars arguing for Absolute Guardianship, yet none of them gained the amount of influence as Khomeini did. He presented the concept as necessary to protect and preserve Islam during the Occultation of the Imam. According to Khomeini, a society should be governed by those who are the most knowledgeable about Islamic law, this is his main argument in what an Islamic Government actually is. In his manifesto, Khomeini argues that monarchy is un-Islamic. In a true Islamic state, those holding government posts should have knowledge of Sharia, as well as having intelligence and administrative ability. Thus the monarchy becomes redundant in such a governing system, paving the way for a Republic to take its place instead. Specifically Khomeini argued that the un-Islamic government “though it may be made up of elected representatives does not truly belong to the people” in the case of Muslim countries.

Where Shia Mujtahids have tended to remain outside the active political sphere, Khomeini argues that leading Mujtahids also have inherited the Prophet’s political authority by explicating several ahadiths of the Shia Imams. An example is his analysis of a saying attributed to the first Imam, Ali who in addressing a judge said:

The seat you are occupying is filled by someone who is a prophet, the legatee of a prophet, or else a sinful wretch.”

Khomeini reasons that the term judges must refer to trained fuqaha (jurists) as they are “by definition learned in matters pertaining to the function of judge” , and since trained jurists are neither sinful wretches nor prophets, by process of elimination “we deduce from the tradition quoted above that the fuqaha are the legatees.” He explains that legatees of the prophet have the same power to command Muslims as the Prophet Muhammad and (in Shia belief) the Imams. Thus, the saying, `The seat you are occupying is filled by someone who is a prophet, the legatee of a prophet, or else a sinful wretch,` demonstrates that Islamic jurists have the power to rule Muslims.

According to the constitution of Iran, an Islamic republic is defined as a state ruled by the Fuqaha. In accordance with Qur’an and on the basis of two principles of the trusteeship and the permanent Imamate (bloodline of the Prophet), it is counted as a function of the jurists. Also it is explained that only the jurists that are upright, pious and committed experts on Islam are entitled to rule . Also those who are informed of the demands of the times and known as God-fearing, brave and qualified for leadership. In addition they must hold the religious office of Marja (the highest rank in the Shia clerical establishment) and be permitted to deliver independent judgments on general principles (fatwas). The Marja has only the right to rule the Islamic Republic for as long as the Twelfth and final Imam remains in Occultation.

In this sense, the Islamic Republic of Iran is unique in comparison to other so called “Islamic Republics” such as Pakistan and Afghanistan as they are governed by secular constitutions and are only Islamic Republics by name rather than in practice.
In both theory and practice, the Velayat-e Faqih differs radically from any other form of government, both Western and Eastern models.

Whether or not this system can be considered “democratic” is really a subjective matter. I personally dont like the contemporary opinions on what constitutes a democracy as they are very much formed and dictated by Western ideas and standards. The generally accepted tools of measurement on democracy in the world follow liberal democratic criteria formulated by liberal thinkers and scholars. This narrows down countries into liberal democracies, so called true democracies and non-liberal democracies, also known as “flawed democracies” in their world view.

As I mentioned earlier, the Islamic Republic is a compromise between Western democracy and Islamic theocracy, which makes it hard to compare to the western notion on what constitutes a democracy, and since there aren’t any other Islamic Republics to compare it to, it makes it even more difficult to measure how democratic it is. But let’s begin by stating the obvious, the Islamic Republic is a republic, which means that the state belongs to the people and not a ruler. The Supreme Leader, or Rahbar Enghelab (Revolutionary Leader) is not a monarch and the title is not hereditary.

Lawmakers are directly elected by the people, as is the President as well. The Iranian elections are considered not “free and fair” by western standards due to the vetting process by the unelected Guardian council, but this is where the theocratic nature of the Islamic Republic becomes prevalent, as the vetting process is important for the elimination of anti-Islamic elements in the government. Another point of confusion is the role of the Supreme Leader, a role that many outsiders have misunderstood. The truth is that while the President rules the government and politics of the country, the Supreme Leader’s role is one of oversight. Think of the Supreme Leader as the U.S Supreme Court, where the Supreme Leader has a duty to uphold the Islamic Republic’s core values, much like the Supreme Court in the U.S upholds the constitution.

The Supreme Leader is chosen by the elected institution called the Assembly of Experts, which is tasked with overseeing the performance and activities of the Supreme Leader. The Assembly of Experts also has the power to impeach a Supreme Leader if needed, thus not even the Supreme Leader is untouchable. The Supreme Leader in turn then elects the members of the Guardian Council who are responsible for the vetting I mentioned above. So you can see that the Islamic Republic is a system filled with checks and balances between elected and unelected institutions.

The Saker: Wikipedia (hardly a trustworthy source) has this picture of the Iranian government structure: 

 

Is it correct?

Aram Mirzaei: I would say that this depiction of the Iranian government structure is not exactly inaccurate, but it also fails to offer a comprehensive picture of the checks and balance system that plays a huge part in Iranian politics. This depiction focuses a lot on who is elected and who is not, instead of focusing on the different branches of government and their roles. Let me explain: The Supreme Leader as mentioned above is a superintendent, who oversees the Executive and Judiciary branch, while he also acts as commander of the Armed Forces of the Islamic Republic. The Supreme Leader in turn is appointed by the directly elected Assembly of Experts which is made up of 88 Mujtahids, and as I mentioned before, the Assembly of Experts has the power to remove him if necessary.

The Parliament and the President are directly elected by the people. While the President chooses his cabinet, the Parliament is responsible with electing 6 out of 12 members of the powerful Guardian Council, these 6 members are nominated by the Head of the Judiciary, who in turn is appointed by the Supreme Leader. These 6 members are non-clerical jurists while the other 6 members appointed by the Supreme Leader are faqihs.

The Guardian Council, acts as an upper consultative assembly. It is charged with interpreting the Constitution of the Islamic Republic, supervising elections of, and approving of candidates to, the Assembly of Experts, the President and the Parliament. Any laws made by the parliament must be approved by the Guardian Council.

The Expediency council is an advisory assembly set up in 1988 to act as an intermediary between the Parliament and Guardian Council whenever conflicts occur. It is directly appointed by the Supreme Leader.

The Saker: The western media always loves to think in terms of “hardliners” and “liberals” in each country they don’t control. To what degree are these categories applicable to Iran?

Aram Mirzaei: The terms as you say, is a way for the Western media to simplify the different categories of political movements in Iran. I would rather say that a better way of dividing the political spectrum in Iran is to say that there are Reformists and Conservatives. While the term “conservative” is difficult to apply on Iranian society, the existence of a conservative movement, or as they prefer to be called, Principalists, is a reality. The Iranian political spectrum can somewhat loosely be defined as a division between the Islamic left (Reformists) and the Islamic right (Principalists).

The Iranian Principalist bloc of today emerged as a response to the rising power of the reformist movement, headed by known figures such as former Iranian President and cleric Mohammad Khatami and to some extent former President Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, one of the richest people in the country.   Iranian principalism however dates further back in history. It roots back to the early 20th century with the constitutional revolution, which demonstrated the power of the clerical class as the Qajar dynasty was disposed by Reza Khan (later Reza Shah Pahlavi), a man who clashed many times with the clergy.  The Shah had initiated a set of reforms aimed at modernizing the country. Along with this modernization effort the Women’s Awakening movement gained strength. This movement sought the elimination of the traditional Iranian chador from Iranian society. This movement was backed by the Shah who sought inspiration from western clothing for his society. The religious establishment were fiercely opposed to this and organized protests against obligatory Western dressing in Mashhad, resulting in the Shah ordering his soldiers to shoot at the crowds protesting.

The policies of Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, the son and successor of Reza Shah Pahlavi, further sowed division between the clergy and the royal court. The young Shah’s role in the 1953 coup against the democratically elected Prime Minister Dr Mohammad Mossadeq, the failed “white revolution” which only served to further accelerate his unpopularity. Once more the clergy assumed the position of anti-imperialists in the Iranian political spectrum, arguing that the Shah was a dictator put in place by a non-Muslim Western power, the United States. As witnessed several times before, the clergy and the powerful merchant class, the Bazariis played a crucial role in forming the Iranian political landscape, this was also the case in 1979 when the clergy and the merchants came together to overthrow the monarchy.

The Islamic revolution in Iran brought about a total change to the political landscape of Iran as Iranian politics was now contained within an Islamic framework, free from foreign meddling, imperialism and dependency.  This is the platform which the modern Principalist movement still use in their political campaigns.

Principalism focuses on broad conservative principles: loyalty to Islam and the Revolution, obedience to the Supreme Leader, and devotion to the principle of Velayat-e Faqih.

This set of principles implicitly endorses the status quo and the current power structure. It is also a response to the reformist parties’ emphasis on change: free elections, freedom of the press and assembly and individual rights, and, implicitly, curbs on the almost unlimited power of the Supreme Leader, and limits on the authority of the Guardian Council to disqualify candidates for elective office.

The Principalists include dozens of small cliques and political organizations each centred around a limited number of politicians, activists, clerics, and members of parliament and state institutions.

The conservatism of these groups varies too. They fall generally into four categories:

  • Traditional conservatives may stand firm on social issues, such as Islamic dress for women and bans on gender mixing. But they are more open to possible reconciliation with centrist reformers, albeit with many caveats.
  • Another group of new conservatives cares less about social issues, but they are closely aligned with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) military-security nexus whose influence has grown markedly in recent years.
  • A third conservative wing is closely allied to the bazaar merchants, importers, and shopkeepers.
  • A fourth branch, championed by former Ahmadinejad supporters, is populist in temperament and intent.

In their drive for unity, almost all the conservative politicians now label themselves “Osul-garayan”, or “Principalists.”

The reformist era of Iran is generally accepted to have occurred between the years 1997-2005, during President Khatami’s two terms in office.

Khatami and his allies were the remnants of the Islamic left faction, hardliners who from 1979 to 1989 were the driving force behind many of the Islamic Republic’s signature policies. Domestically this included violently eliminating the political opposition to the Islamic Republic, enforcing strict Islamic morality through revolutionary committees and nationalizing Iran’s economy. They were behind the seizure of the US embassy in Tehran and were instrumental to the founding of Hezbollah in Lebanon. In the first decade of the newly found Islamic Republic they had been strongly backed by the Vali-e Faqih or Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and governed through the Executive under then Prime Minister Mir-Hossein Mousavi (1981-1989).

Between 1988 to 1991, with the end Iran-Iraq War, the fall of the Soviet Union and the death of Ayatollah Khomeini, political stabilization of the state through social change, the Islamic left’s fortunes rapidly declined. Firstly the end of the war put an end to the state of emergency under which the Islamic left exercised their influence. Secondly, the collapse of the Soviet Union delegitimized the statist economy which had been used to govern the Iranian economy in the first decade of the Islamic Republic. Thirdly, the passing of Ayatollah Khomeini, the staunch backer of the Islamic left was a huge blow to their political power.

Their rivals, the Islamic right faction, capitalized on this by selecting their own Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as the new Supreme Leader and Rafsanjani as president, eliminating the Premiership from the constitution, veto-ing Islamic left election candidates through the Guardian Council, purging them from unelected state institutions, and more. Having been eliminated from the system, the Islamic left entered a period of retreat in which it reassessed its place in the Islamic Republic. They emerged from this process “reformed”, the namesake of their faction.

After having lost their standing in the Islamic Republic’s powerful non-elected institutions, the newly formed Reformists under Mohammad Khatami regained political power by appealing to Iran’s restless segments of society yearning for change, and channel popular frustration through elected institutions.

In an interview with the Rah-e No newspaper in 1998, Reformist theoretician Saeed Hajjarian characterized this strategy for achieving their goals as “pressure from below, negotiations from above.” The barren political landscape in Iran during the 1997 presidential election, including the lackluster Islamic right candidate Nateq Nouri, and the tacit support of Rafsanjani who by this time had distanced himself from Khamenei and the Islamic right, resulted in a landslide victory for Khatami.

The initial shock of Khatami’s electoral victory did not faze the Islamic right who rallied under the banner of “preserving the principles of the revolution”, thus rebranding themselves as the Principalists.

The reformists won the Majlis elections of 2000, and Khatami was re-elected in 2001, the Principalists however were able to effectively block them through institutional obstructionism. In the 2004 Majlis elections, many prominent Reformist politicians were deemed unfit to stand for office by the powerful Guardian Council, an appointed and constitutionally-mandated 12-member council that wields considerable power and influence in the Islamic Republic. This strategy crippled the pillars of Reformist theoretician Hajjarians strategy of “negotiating from above”, by excluding them from political institutions.

While the first incarnation of Hajjarian’s “pressure from below, negotiations from above” had failed, it was reinvented by the 2009 election campaign and its aftermath. By conducting an electrifying electoral campaign and using social media, Reformists would use the deep discontent that had built up during Ahmadinejad’s four years in office among certain segments of the population, and bring “pressure from below” by mobilizing this group onto the streets.

This gave Reformists a new weapon to wield against Principalists in case of perceived electoral irregularities, using popular pressure to overturn the election results, elect Mousavi as president and thus restore their ability to “negotiate from above”.

On June 12th, they used this weapon when the election results were announced in favor of the incumbent Ahmadinejad. While there were no actual evidence that proves electoral fraud, the widespread perception among certain segments of the Iranian population took to the streets en masse. This was made possible through the heavy use of social media by the Reformists. The Green movement, once more gave birth to Hajjarians “pressure from below, negotiations from above”.

It did however not take long until the “pressure from below” resulted in severe consequences for the Reformists as their movement most resembles the color revolutions of former Soviet bloc countries such as Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan. In color revolutions one faction within a regime creates “pressure from below” by mobilizing popular energy and channelling it into “negotiating from above” and improves its own position in the regime, usually in the context of allegations of electoral fraud. While this strategy was successful up to a point in the semi-authoritarian former Soviet bloc, in Iran the Principalist faction and IRGC rapidly mobilized to crush the uprising. Through the act of applying popular pressure on the IRI, the Reformists had crossed a ‘red-line’ and from this point were effectively purged from the system, once again destroying their ability to “negotiate from above”.

The Saker: It is often said that the IRGC and the Basij are the Iranian “hardliners”.  Is that true?  What is their real political influence?

Aram Mirzaei: Well, it is true that the IRGC and the Basij are connected to the so called “hardliners” or rather the conservative bloc. This is because The Pasdaran was from its inception an ideologically driven force that recruited heavily from the faithful supporters of the revolution’s spiritual leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. In Iran, it is known even today that the most devout and faithful supporters of the Islamic Republic are those that join the IRGC and the Basij volunteer forces. Furthermore, most of the conservative bloc’s candidates for parliament and the presidency are former IRGC members and veterans of the Iran-Iraq war. As the veteran commander of the IRGC once said: “Unlike the army […] the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps is in charge of safeguarding the revolution and its gains […]. we in the Revolutionary Guards give primary importance to the ideological and political dimensions more than the military ones.

For a deeper insight into the IRGC, I would recommend you read my extensive article on the IRGC and the Basij here.

The Saker: In the West, the IRGC and, especially, the Quds force are considered as evil “terrorists”.  How are they seen in Iran?

Aram Mirzaei: It really depends on who you’re asking. There are those that would answer that the IRGC are the saviours of the Islamic Republic, especially considering their role in defending the country against Saddam Hussein’s invasion in 1980. On the other hand, there are also those who despise the IRGC and the Basij due to their staunch loyalty to the Islamic Republic and their efforts to eradicate deviant elements of the daily political life. After all, the Islamic Republic made great efforts during the 1980’s to eliminate all opposing movements aiming at establishing alternative systems in Iran, such as communists, liberals and separatists. Needless to say, the IRGC and the Basij are very unpopular among most Iranian ex-pats and Sunni minorities such as Kurds and Baluchis, as both of these ethnic groups have relatively large separatist sentiments among their populations.

The Saker: what are the various political forces/currents/movements in Iran today?  Can you please list them, the main people who represent these forces, and what they political views/goals are?

Aram Mirzaei: As mentioned above, the current divide in the Iranian political spectrum is between the Reformists and the Principalists. There are however a lot of fringe movements both inside and outside the country, with different goals and views. These range from islamists, to separatists, to monarchists and “liberals”.

I’ve written before about the different separatist groups in Iran and their foreign backers. Mostly these can be found among the Sunni minorities of Western and Eastern Iran, but also among the Arab minority in Khuzestan who are fuelled and backed by the Gulf states in their anti-Iranian campaigns.

Furthermore, there are terrorist groups such as the so called “People’s Mujahideen” (MEK), lead by Maryam Rajavi, the wife of the late Massoud Rajavi. The MEK is said to be driven by some mix of Islamic and Socialist ideology, something that they themselves deny. The U.S government claims that their ideology is a mix of Marxism, Islamism and feminism, but no one can really know for sure. What however can be said for certain is that the MEK’s main aim is to overthrow the Islamic Republic, despite having helped overthrowing the U.S backed Pahlavi regime and ever since the early days of the revolution. They have ever since changed many of their stances in pursuit of ideological opportunism, such examples include the shift in their anti-Zionist position to becoming “allies of Israel”.

Since the Revolution, the MEK has also engaged in a lot of terrorist attacks, having killed an estimated 16 000 Iranians over the years. Key figures of the Islamic Republic have also been targeted such as Army Commander Ali Sayad Shirazi, Asadollah Lajevardi, director of Iran’s prison system, former President Mohammad-Ali Rajaei, former Prime Minister Mohammad-Javad Bahonar and former Chief of Justice Mohammad Beheshti. In 1981, they failed to assassinate Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei but left him permanently disfigured, losing use of his right arm. Recent assassinations include targeting Iranian Nuclear scientists at the behest of Zionist orders.

Ever since their failed invasion of Iran in 1988, the MEK has remained in exile in Iraq and nowadays in Albania where they continue to operate against the Islamic Republic.

Other fringe groups are also the Communists, which used to be the second largest movement during the revolution after the Islamists. The Communists had a lot of members and mobilized themselves during the early days of the revolution, offering an alternative to the Islamic Republic. I don’t think I need to explain what the Communists were seeking to establish, but they failed mainly due to their own shortcomings rather than the animosity they faced from the Islamists. Yes, it is true that the Islamic Republic went to lengths to eradicate these Communist movements, but their greatest enemy was their own division where the largest parties split into several splinter factions due to internal disagreement between Maoists and Stalinists. The Communists were mostly destroyed after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, along with most other Communist movements across the world and remain today a very small group of ex-pats who pose little to no threat to the Islamic Republic.

Lastly, there are the Monarchists. They mostly went into exile during the revolution, opting to pack up their wealth and moving to the U.S along with the Royal family. They continue to support the so called “heir” to the throne, Reza Cyrus Pahlavi, the son of the late Mohammad Reza Pahlavi to re-establish the monarchy, albeit with some minor “changes” to it. In their own words, they aim to establish a constitutional monarchy where the Shah is supposed to remain only a figurehead much like the European monarchies. Ironically, this is the same promise his father made to Iran before reneging on his promises and ruling the country with an iron fist. The Monarchists often align themselves with the MEK in their attempts to discredit the Islamic Republic, and often jump at any chance to do so. Just take a quick look at Twitter if you don’t believe me!

The Saker: Islam can come in very conservative and in very progressive “modes”.  It seems to me that thinkers like Ali Shariati or even Sayyid Qutb would represent a more progressive version of Islam, especially in social, economic and political terms.  Is this correct?  Who are the main thinkers, besides Ayatollah Khomeini, who influenced the Islamic Revolution and who are the most influential thinkers in Iran today?

Aram Mirzaei: I would argue that Shariati was a Socialist Muslim thinker who tried to blend Shiism with a revolutionary fervour. He referred to his ideas as Red Shiism in contrast to what he perceived as black Shiism, the same kind that was prevalent during the Safavid Shahs and the Qajar dynasty. Black Shiism in this sense can be compared to the Limited Guardianship of the Jurisprudence as explained above. Shariati played a much larger role in the Islamic Revolution and the formation of the Islamic Republic than he is credited for. He suggested that the role of government was to guide society in the best possible manner rather than manage it in the best possible way. He believed that the most learned members of the Ulema should play a leadership role in guiding society because they best understand how to administer an Islamic value system based on the teachings of the Prophets of God and the 12 Shia Twelver Imams. He also argued that the role of the Ulema was to guide society in accordance with Islamic values to advance human beings towards reaching their highest potential—not to provide the hedonistic desires of individuals as in the West.

At the same time Shariati was very critical of the contemporary Ulema and defended the Marxists. “Our mosques, the revolutionary left and our preachers,” he declared, “work for the benefit of the deprived people and against the lavish and lush… Our clerics who teach jurisprudence and issue fatwas are right-wingers, capitalist, and conservative; simply our fiqh is at the service of capitalism.” Despite this criticism of the Ulema, even today, many in the Islamic Republic, such as Khamenei praise Shariati for his influences.

Another main influencer of the Islamic Revolution was the late Ayatollah Beheshti who served as Chief of Justice before his assassination in 1981. Beheshti was known to be the second in command of the Revolution, after Ayatollah Khomeini, and had it not been for his early death, he would most likely have been the one who succeeded him as Supreme Leader. Beheshti is also known to have been a mentor figure for several prominent politicians in the Islamic Republic, such as current President Hassan Rouhani, former President Mohammad Khatami, Ali Akbar Velayati, Mohammad Javad Larijani, Ali Fallahian, and Mostafa Pourmohammadi. Following the Revolution, he was part of the original Council of Revolution and played an important role in the formation of the Islamic Republic’s economy, promoting cooperative companies known as Ta’avoni. Instead of competition, in Ta’avoni companies there is no mediation between producer and consumer. He also asserted that in such as companies, rights belong to humans rather than stocks.

The Saker: Tehran is the political capital of Iran.  Qom is often considered the spiritual capital of Iran.  Is that so?  If so, how much influence/power does Qom have as compared to Tehran?

Aram Mirzaei: Yes, this is true, but one must also remember that the Mujtahids, both the ones in the Assembly of Experts and the ones in the Guardian Council, including the office of Supreme Leader are all educated in Qom. Thus Qom holds a significant influence over Tehran’s policies. One should not see these two cities as rivals as Qom mostly provides Tehran religious legitimacy. In this sense Qom holds a lot of power over Tehran as a centre of religious learning, offering guidance to Tehran’s policies. This was however not always the case as Qom stood as a major rival to Tehran during the pre-revolutionary times. Ayatollah Khomeini for example led his opposition to the Monarchy from Qom where his seminars played a major role in mobilizing the Ulema to unite under his banner.

The Saker: Which are the officially “protected” religions of Iran and what is their status today?  Would you say that these religions enjoy all the freedoms they need?  What is the state’s view of these non-Islamic religions?

Aram Mirzaei: Iran is home to many different religions and faiths, all of which have a long history in Iran. Iran is home to almost 300 000 Armenian Christians of the Armenian Apostolic Church and 20 000 Assyrian Christians, some 10 000 Jews and some 60 000 Zoroastrians.

The officially recognized religions in Iran, aside from Islam of course, include Christianity, Judaism and Zoroastrianism. These religious minorities are protected by law and constitution, thus they are also entitled to hold parliamentary seats and have the right to exercise their faiths. Two seats are reserved for Christians in parliament, the largest minority faith, while Jews and Zoroastrians are allocated one seat each.

Christianity in Iran dates back to the early years of the faith, pre-dating Islam. During the era of the two great Persian Empires, Armenia used to be an important part of Iran, as such it has always been a minority religion relative to the majority state religions (Zoroastrianism before the Islamic conquest, Sunni Islam in the Middle Ages and Shia Islam in modern times), though it had a much larger representation in the past than it does today. Currently there are at least 600 churches in the country, mostly found in northwestern Iran and the Tehran region.

Jews have lived in Iran since the ancient times of the Persian Empires, and used to number about 50 000 citizens in Iran, many of which have today emigrated to Israel. Still some 10 000 Jews remain in Iran today and enjoy the same freedoms as Christians and Zoroastrians do. Ayatollah Khomeini even met with the Jewish community upon his return from exile in Paris, when heads of the community arranged to meet him in Qom. At one point he said:

“In the holy Quran, Moses, salutations upon him and all his kin, has been mentioned more than any other prophet. Prophet Moses was a mere shepherd when he stood up to the might of pharaoh and destroyed him. Moses, the Speaker-to-Allah, represented pharaoh’s slaves, the downtrodden, the mostazafeen (oppressed) of his time.”

At the end of the discussion Khomeini declared, “We recognize our Jews as separate from those godless, bloodsucking Zionists” and issued a fatwa decreeing that the Jews were to be protected.

Zoroastrianism is the native religion of Iran and was the state religion of the two Persian Empires long before Islam was introduced. Even today, Zoroastrianism plays an important part in modern Iranian culture, as can be seen with the continued celebrations of the Iranian new year Nowruz. Low birth rates have affected the Zoroastrian community in Iran as their numbers have been on the decline for some time now. In 2013, they did however make headlines when Sepanta Niknam was elected to the city council of Yazd (a major stronghold of the Zoroastrian community) and became the first Zoroastrian councillor in Iran.

The Saker: is there a big generational gap in Iran, especially in terms of politics?  How would you compare the views/goals/beliefs of young Iranians vs the older generation?

Aram Mirzaei: There is a debate today on whether or not there is a big generational gap in Iran. I would definitely argue that there is, as the difference between the older, revolutionary generation and the modern youth in Iran is pretty prevalent. Let us not forget that the Revolutionary generation grew up in much harsher conditions, in a very backward Iran that lacked infrastructure, education and many of the freedoms that the younger generation enjoy today. Furthermore, they never experienced the eight year long war with Iraq, thus they don’t remember the sacrifices that the Revolutionary generation had to make in order to save this country. Another point that should be made is the introduction of modern technologies in Iran. This has given the younger generation access to Western culture and influences, something that is much more of a threat to the Islamic Republic’s survival than any U.S threat of military action in my opinion. Ayatollah Khamenei often speaks about what he calls cultural warfare, or rather poisoning of the mind. I tend to agree with his analysis as many young people in Iran today have taken much of the decadent Western influences at heart and yearn for the Western lifestyle, something that I have witnessed myself whenever I’ve returned back to Iran. Comparing the Revolutionary generation, where politics played a major role in everyone’s lives, with the post-revolutionary generation who remains rather apolitical and care much less about the political lives of their parents, I can clearly see a pattern where passive Western values have gained a foothold in the minds of the younger generation. Whenever I’m in Iran, I often notice that the older generation often partake in political discussions whereas the younger generations prefer to occupy themselves with trivial matters.

The state does recognize this and for this reason it has done its utmost to counter this terrible influence, hence why social media outlets such as Youtube and Facebook are from time to time banned in Iran. This lack of interests in politics has also dumbed down the youth in Iran who often fail to see that the suffering economy and hardships in the country are mostly to be blamed on U.S sanctions and economic terrorism by the Zionist Empire. Rather many tend to believe in the MEK’s Twitter lies that all of Iran’s money is going to fighting “freedom loving rebels” in Syria and “terrorizing the peaceful nation of Israel”, hence why the rioters and protesters earlier this year directed a lot of their chants against Syria and Palestine in an effort to vent their frustration towards rising prices on commodity and fuel instead of actually seeing the correlation between Washington’s reintroduction of sanctions and the failing economy of the Islamic Republic.

 

السعودية برعاية ترامب تموّل أعداء العرب الأوروبيين

مايو 6, 2019

محمد صادق الحسيني

في مفاجأة للكثيرين، من المراقبين الإعلاميين والسياسيين في أوروبا، فاز حزب يميني اسباني متطرف ومعادٍ للعرب والمسلمين والمهاجرين ولعضوية اسبانيا في الاتحاد الأوروبي، واسمه حزب صوت الشعب Vox ، فاز هذا الحزب بـ 24 مقعداً في البرلمان الإسباني الجديد، أيّ ما نسبته 26.10 من أصوات الناخبين، وذلك بتاريخ 28 نيسان 2019.

وكان هذا الحزب قد تأسّس بتاريخ 17 كانون الأول/ ديسمبر 2013، من قبل أحد أعضاء حزب الشعب الإسباني المحافظ آنذاك، وهو الييخو فيدال قادراس، والذي كان عضواً في البرلمان الأوروبي ونائباً لرئيسه في ذلك الوقت.

كما كان هذا البرلماني الأوروبي، الإسباني الجنسية، صديقاً لمنظمة مجاهدي خلق الإيرانية ويلتقي زعماءها باستمرار ويشارك في معظم نشاطاتها. وقد قامت هذه المنظمة بإطلاق حملة جمع تبرّعات لهذا الحزب الجديد يوم تمّ تسجيله رسمياً، كحزب سياسي في مدريد وذلك بتاريخ 17 كانون الأول/ ديسمبر 2013، حيث بدأ أنصار هذه المنظمة في أوروبا والولايات المتحدة بتحويل تبرّعات بشكل فردي، تراوحت قيمة التحويل الواحد منها بين ستين دولاراً وخمسة وثلاثين ألف دولار. وقد وصل إجمالي ما تمّ تحويله الى حسابات هذا الحزب آنذاك إلى تسعمائة واثنين وسبعين الف يورو.

هذا ما اعترف به مؤسّس الحزب، الييخو فيدال قادراس، لصحيفة «إلباييس» الإسبانية والذي تمّ نشره فيها قبل أيّام.

كما انّ منسق شؤون مكافحة الاٍرهاب في الخارجية الأميركية، السفير دانييل بنجامين، قد كتب مقالاً في مجلة «بوليتيكو ماغازين» الأميركية بتاريخ 23 تشرين الثاني/ نوفمبر 2016، قال فيه انّ مجاهدي خلق قد استقطبت العديد من الساسة والنواب الأميركيين لصالحها، مثل جون بولتون مستشار الرئيس ترامب حالياً لشؤون الأمن القومي، ورئيس بلدية نيويورك السابق رودي جولياني، ورئيس مكتب التحقيقات الفدرالي السابق لويس فريه وقائمة طويلة غيرهم، حيث كانت تدفع عشرين ألف دولار مكافأة لكلّ مشاركة لأيّ منهم في نشاطات المنظمة المختلفة.

وهو بكلامه هذا يشير بكلّ وضوح الى انّ منظمة مجاهدي خلق لا تملك كلّ هذه الإمكانيات المادية لتمويل كلّ هذه النشاطات.

الأمر الذي أكدته مجلة «فورين بوليسي» الأميركيه، على موقعها الالكتروني بتاريخ 27 نيسان 2019، عندما نقلت عن المنشق عن منظمة مجاهدي خلق، والمسؤول الأمني السابق فيها، مسعود خوداباندي، قوله إنه ذهب إلى الرياض، أوائل تسعينيات القرن الماضي، وتسلّم من ضباط مخابرات سعوديين، عندما كان تركي الفيصل رئيساً لجهاز المخابرات السعودي، ثلاثة شاحنات مليئة بسبائك الذهب والتي قمت بنقلها الى الأردن وبيع الذهب هناك لصالح منظمة مجاهدي خلق.

وهو ما أكده للمجلس المنشق الإيراني الآخر عن منظمة مجاهدي خلق، عضو القيادة حسن حيراني، الذي أعلن انشقاقه عام 2018، حيث قال لـ «فورين بوليسي»، في معرض ردّه على سؤال لها حول مصادر الأموال التي تبرّعت بها مجاهدي خلق للحزب اليميني الإسباني مؤخراً، ولغيره من الأحزاب والمنظمات اليمينية الأوروبية، التي يشرف على تشغيلها وتحريكها ضابط البحرية الاميركية السابق، ستيف بانون، والذي عيّنه ترامب كبير مستشاريه الاستراتيجيين سنة 2017، قال حسن حيراني مجيباً:

انها بلا أدنى شك السعودية. فمنظمة مجاهدي خلق ليست إلا أداة تنفيذية بينما المموّل الحقيقي لكلّ هذه الأحزاب والتنظيمات هو السعودية.

بينما قال مدير مكافحة الإرهاب السابق في الخارجية الأميركية، السفير دانييل بنجامين، مجيباً على نفس السؤال: البعض يقول إنّ دول الخليج هي من يقف خلف الدعم الذي يقدّم باسم منظمة مجاهدي خلق.

علماً انّ ستيف بانون هذا كان قد التقى مسؤولي حزب صوت الشعب اليميني الإسباني المتطرف، المسمّى صوت الشعب Vox ، عدة مرات في واشنطن وفي عواصم أوروبية عدة. إضافة إلى انه كان يعمل على مساعدة هذا الحزب لتحقيق انتصاره في الانتخابات الإسبانية، التي جرت قبل أيّام وحصل فيها هذا الحزب على 24 مقعداً في البرلمان الإسباني، وذلك حسب ما جاء في مقال للكاتب بابلو باردو نشر يوم 27 نيسان 2019 على موقع مجلة «فورين بوليسي» الأميركية.

العلامة الفارقة في كلّ ما تقدّم هو انّ السعودية مستعدّة لصرف مالها في ايّ ساحة تريدها واشنطن وعلى أيد أقذر التنظيمات الإرهابية، المهمّ أنها ترضي ترامب وتناكف طهران…!

وبعد ذلك فليكن الطوفان…!

لكن السحر سينقلب على الساحر مهما طال الزمان…!

بعدنا طيّبين قولوا الله…

Hate Fest In Warsaw

By Eric Margolis

February 16, 2019 “Information Clearing House” -Warsaw, Poland is not a fun place to visit in darkest February, but that is where the US just staged an anti-Iranian jamboree of 60 client states that brought derision and scorn from Europeans and much of the Mideast.

The point of this cynical exercise was to lay the diplomatic groundwork for an anti-Iranian coalition to act as a fig-leaf for an upcoming attack on Iran planned by President Donald Trump and his close ally, Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu.

The real question is who is calling the shots in bleak Warsaw, Trump or Bibi Netanyahu? It seems to many that the Israeli tail is again wagging the American dog.

This is thanks to the power of America’s born-again evangelicals, hoodwinked into believing that a Greater Israel is somehow a key part of the Second Coming of Christ.

A Fox News poll this week finds that a quarter of these credulous folks believe that God actually summoned Donald Trump to become president. This may even be more than the number of Americans who believe that Elvis is still alive. More proof that the Republicans have pretty much become a theological party.

The three horseman of the hard right Republican Apocalypse, Vice president Mike Pence, Insecurity advisor John Bolton, and State Secretary Mike Pompeo (who reportedly keeps an open bible on his desk) joined their voices to the Warsaw jamboree to excoriate Iran for being a ‘sponsor of terrorism,’ and a danger to world peace and stability.

The never understated Bibi Netanyahu, whose nation has at least 100 nuclear weapons, claimed Iran, which has no nukes and feeble armed forces, was planning a ‘second Holocaust’ for Israel.

An over-excited Netanyahu even tweeted that the Warsaw meeting was preparing for `war with Iran.’ He was forced to retract his tweet. But he did get to sit next to the delegate from war-torn Yemen, a stooge put into place by the Saudis and Emiratis whose aggression against Yemen has so far cost hundreds of thousands of lives, mass starvation and epidemics.

This week a newly energized US House of Representatives voted for an end to their nation’s support for the Saudi-led war in the Mideast’s poorest nation. The Senate, still controlled by Republican Crusaders, will be likely to vote down the sensible House proposal.

Another participant at Warsaw was the largest Arab nation, Egypt. This nation just extended the rule of its military dictator, Field Marshall al-Sisi, to 2034. It was Sisi, backed by Saudi money, who overthrew Egypt’s first democratic government in history, killing and jailing thousands.

In a slap in the face to Washington, Europe’s leaders, France, Germany and the European Union government, either refused to attend the Warsaw hate-fest against Iran or sent low-level paper-passers.

Ironically, while Trump’s people were fulminating against Iranian ‘terrorism,’ it was Iran that was the victim of terrorist attacks. An attack from a Pakistan-based Sunni Jaish al-Adl extremist group linked to the CIA killed 27 soldiers and wounded a similar number. Iran has been the target of constant attacks since its 1979 revolution by groups linked to the US, and from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and other US regional vassals.
Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, is even a long-term lobbyist for the hyper-violent Marxist Iranian extremist group, the MEK which was even branded a ‘terrorist group’ by the US government.

The Warsaw jamboree was also supposed to set the stage for Trump’s much ballyhooed Mideast ‘peace’ plan. Run by son-in-law Jared Kushner, the full plan is expected to be released in April, right after Israeli elections. It will likely consist of trying to buy off Palestinian land claims with US taxpayer money and some cash from the Saudis. America’s Arab client states in the region will all provide polite applause.

The Warsaw jamboree produced no evident results and left the US even more isolated than before. Europe is moving ahead with a financial mechanism to permit trade with Iran that circumvents US sanctions. US intelligence itself reports that Iran is not working in nuclear weapons. Europe wants to trade with Iran.

America’s anti-Iran campaign has just suffered another blow. This after Washington badly damaged relations with China and Canada over the arrest of the daughter in Vancouver of the founder of Huawei over charges it traded with Iran. Most non-Americans view this as an outrage. But the later-day Crusaders around Trump don’t seem to care that they are damaging America’s reputation and making a mess of its foreign policy.

Eric S. Margolis is an award-winning, internationally syndicated columnist. His articles have appeared in the New York Times, the International Herald Tribune the Los Angeles Times, Times of London, the Gulf Times, the Khaleej Times, Nation – Pakistan, Hurriyet, – Turkey, Sun Times Malaysia and other news sites in Asia. ericmargolis.com

Copyright Eric S. Margolis 2019

Mir-Salim: Iran’s Defense System One of Best Achievements

By Nour Rida

Tehran – Commemorating the 40th victory of the Islamic Revolution, al-Ahed news interviewed Vice-president of the Islamic Coalition Party Council Seyed Mostafa Mir-Salim, who was active during the revolution and had served as police chief following the revolution. He was proposed by then president Abulhassan Banisadr in July 1980 as a candidate for prime minister. He filled different posts during his career years and was also former minister of culture and guidance. Mir-Salim was also named as Islamic Coalition Party’s nominee for Iranian presidential election, 2017 in December 2016. He launched his campaign in April 2017.

Mr. Mir-Salim told al-Ahed news

“The Islamic revolution passed through several stages before arriving to its victory. We can say that the inception point came with the movement of Ayatollah Khomeini, especially in the year 1963 when he stood up to the oppressive Shah regime which led eventually to the events of 15 Khordad.”

The demonstrations of June 5, 1963, known as 15th of Khordad Uprising, were the public protest against the arrest of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini after his strong remarks on Iran’s Shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, ‘Israel’ and the United States. The protestors were harshly suppressed but the event marked the vitality and power of the opposition against Pahlavi dynasty and the support Iranian nation had for their religious and political figure, Ayatollah Khomeini, who 15 years later led the Islamic Revolution to establish the Islamic Republic of Iran.

“The uprising in 1963, during which many Iranians lost their lives, was one of the main events that culminated in the Islamic Revolution some 15 years later,” he noted.

The politician continued

“Then, the period of intense repression and suppression of the struggle continued until 1974. During that year, the nature of dissension of the Mojahedin Khalq Organization MEK was revealed, and the fighters of the Islamic revolution eliminated themselves from the existence of these hypocrites. The Shah regime’s humiliation of the people and their beliefs and its neglect to their needs and principles prompted the people to continue their popular uprising.”

As Mir-Salim pointed out, the negligence of the regime and its offenses towards Imam Khomeini flared the sparks of anger across the different cities such as Qom, Tabriz, Yazd and other cities.

“The leadership of Imam Khomeini who was in exile at that time brought the people together, and on as the events continued and many were martyred, the victory saw light on the 22 of Bahman (February) 1979. It was a soon and unexpected popular victory owing to the strong faith, popular will and the wise leadership of Imam Khomeini.”

During that time, Mir-Salim was already member of the Islamic Coalition Party. However, he emphasized that

“during the early days of the revolution, no political party was officially active due to the violence and suppression of the regime Shah. However, after the Islamic revolution, political parties started to take shape, one of which is the Islamic coalition party.”

The party is a pivotal organization within Front of Followers of the Line of the Imam and the Leader and is considered a lay ally of the influential Combatant Clergy Association.

Asking him about what memories he holds from those days he said “I have bitter and sweet memories of that time. One of the shortest sweet memories that is still alive in my mind and heart is once when I was taking part in the rallies on the way to Azadi square. Suddenly, someone pats my shoulder from the back and says from behind “Sir, the speeches you gave were not futile, the revolution did triumph!” He was one of my committed students.”

As for progress and development that was realized since the days of the Islamic revolution, the vice-president says these are abundant.

“However I will mention what I believe was one of those achievements of which we should be very appreciative. I believe that Iran’s capability to defend itself since the very beginning of the birth of the Islamic Republic of Iran is an important attainment that helped all Iranians achieve independence and liberty in face of arrogance and oppression. It also helped establish an independent and religious democratic system, thanks to the guidance of Imam Khomeini and help of God. We must be thankful to see Iran’s successful defense system which allowed Iran to stand in the face of aggression during the imposed war, and this has made the US very furious to an extent it has used different methods and means to prevent the Islamic Republic from being self-sufficient and ready to confront any attack.”

The White Helmets Ride Again

White-Helmets-Terrorists-600x337.jpg

By Philip Geraldi
Source

I am often asked to explain why countries like Iran appear to be so aggressive, involving themselves in foreign wars and seeking to create alliances that they know will provoke the worst and most paranoid responses from some of their neighbors. My response is invariably that perceptions of threat depend very much on which side of the fence you are standing on. Saudi Arabia and Israel might well perceive Iranian actions as aggressive given the fact that all three countries are competing for dominance in the same region, but Iran, which is surrounded by powerful enemies, could equally explain its activity as defensive, seeking to create a belt of allies that can be called upon if needed if a real shooting war breaks out.

The United States and Israel are, of course, masters at seeing everything as a threat, justifying doing whatever is deemed necessary to defend against what are perceived to be enemies. They even exercise extraterritoriality, with Washington claiming a right to go after certain categories of “terrorists” in countries with which it is not at war, most particularly Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia. Israel does likewise in its attacks on Lebanon and Syria. Both Tel Aviv and Washington have regularly crossed the line drawn by international legal authorities in terms of what constitutes initiating a “just” or “legal” war, i.e. an imminent threat to use force by a hostile power. Neither Israel nor the United States has really been threatened by an enemy or enemies in the past seventy years, so the definition of threat has been expanded to include after-the-fact as with 9/11 and potential as in the case of Israel and Iran.

The “which side of the fence” formulation has also had some interesting spin-offs in terms of how so-called non-state players that use violence are perceived and portrayed. Nearly all widely accepted definitions of terrorism include language that condemns the “use of politically motivated violence against non-combatants to provoke a state of terror.”

It is quite easy to identify some groups that are unambiguously “terrorist.” Islamic State in Syria (ISIS) and its various affiliates fit the definition perfectly, but even in that case there is some ambiguity by those state actors who are ostensibly pledged to eradicate terrorists. There have been credible claims that the United States has been protecting the last enclaves of ISIS in order to maintain its “right” to stay in Syria, allegedly based on the stated objective of completely destroying the group before withdrawal. As long as ISIS is still around in Syria, Washington will have an admittedly illegal justification for doing likewise.

There are two notable groups that should be universally condemned as terrorists but are not for political reasons. They are the Mujaheddin e Khalq (MEK), Iranian dissidents that are based in Paris and Washington, and the so-called White Helmets who have been active in Syria. MEK is particularly liked by Israel and its friends inside the Beltway because it retains resources inside Iran that enable it to carry out assassinations and sabotage, and if it is only Iranians that are dying, that’s okay.

MEK has been on the State Department roster of foreign terrorist organizations since the list was established in 1997. Its inclusion derives from its having killed six Americans in the 1970s and from its record of violence both inside and outside Iran since that time. The group was driven out of Iran, denied refuge in France, and eventually armed and given a military base by Iraq’s leader Saddam Hussein. Saddam used the group to carry out terrorist acts inside Iran. MEK is widely regarded as a cult headed by a husband and wife team Massoud and Maryam Rajavi. Its members were required to be celibate and there are reports that they are subjected to extensive brainwashing, physical torture, severe beatings even unto death, and prolonged solitary confinement if they question the leadership. One scholar who has studied them describes their beliefs as a “weird combination of Marxism and Islamic fundamentalism.” Like many other terrorist groups MEK has a political wing that operates openly referred to as the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), which is based in Paris, and another front organization called Executive Action which operates in Washington.

MEK was regarded as a terrorist group until 2012, when it was taken off the Special Designation list by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. It was removed because multi-million dollar contracts with Washington lobbying firms experienced at “working” congress backed up by handsome speaking fees had induced many prominent Americans to join the chorus supporting NCRI. Prior to 2012, speaking fees for the group started at $15,000 and went up from there. Former Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell reported more than $150,000 in honoraria. Rudy Giuliani has been paid generously for years at $20,000 per appearance for brief, twenty-minute speeches. Bear in mind that MEK was a listed terrorist group at the time and accepting money from it to promote its interests should have constituted material support of terrorism.

The group’s well-connected friends have included prominent neocons like current National Security Advisor John Bolton and ex-CIA Directors James Woolsey, Michael Hayden and Porter Goss as well as former Generals Anthony Zinni, Peter Pace, Wesley Clark, and Hugh Shelton. Traditional conservatives close to the Trump Administration like Newt Gingrich, Fran Townsend and Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao are also fans of NCRI. Townsend in particular, as a self-proclaimed national security specialist, has appeared on television to denounce Iran, calling its actions “acts of war” without indicating that she has received money from an opposition group.

MEK’s formula for success in removing itself from the terrorism lift involved paying its way through a corrupt political system. More interesting perhaps is the tale of the White Helmets, who have just been given the 2019 Elie Wiesel Award by the National Holocaust Museum, with the citation “These volunteer rescue workers have saved lives on all sides of the conflict in Syria. Their motto is ‘To save one life is to save all of humanity.’”

The White Helmets have been praised by those who hate the government of President Bashar al-Asad in Syria and want to see it removed because of its role as a leading element in the propaganda campaign that seeks to instigate violence or use fabricated information to depict the Damascus government as guilty of slaughtering its own citizens. The propaganda is intended to terrorize the civilian population, which is part of the definition of terrorism.

Favorable media coverage derives from the documentary The White Helmets, which was produced by the group itself and tells a very convincing tale promoted as “the story of real-life heroes and impossible hope.” It is a very impressive piece of propaganda, so much so that it has won numerous awards including the Oscar for Best Documentary Short last year and the White Helmets themselves were nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. More to the point, however, is the undeniable fact that the documentary has helped shape the public understanding of what is going on in Syria, describing the government in Damascus in purely negative terms.

Recently, with the Syrian Army closing in on the last White Helmet affiliates still operating in the country, the Israeli government, assisted by the United States, staged an emergency humanitarian evacuation of the group’s members and their families to Israel and then on to Jordan. It was described in a BBC article that included “The IDF said they had ‘completed a humanitarian effort to rescue members of a Syrian civil organization and their families’, saying there was an ‘immediate threat to their lives.’ The transfer of the displaced Syrians through Israel was an exceptional humanitarian gesture. Although Israel is not directly involved in the Syria conflict, the two countries have been in a state of war for decades. Despite the intervention, the IDF said that ‘Israel continues to maintain a non-intervention policy regarding the Syrian conflict.’”

All of the Israeli assertions are nonsense, including its claimed “humanitarianism” and “non-intervention” in the Syrian war, where it has been bombing almost daily. The carefully edited scenes of heroism under fire that have been filmed and released worldwide conceal the White Helmets’ relationship with the al-Qaeda affiliated group Jabhat al-Nusra and its participation in the torture and execution of “rebel” opponents. Indeed, the White Helmets only operate in rebel held territory, which enables them to shape the narrative both regarding who they are and what is occurring on the ground.

The White Helmets travelled to bombing sites with their film crews trailing behind them. Once at the sites, with no independent observers, they are able to arrange or even stage what is filmed to conform to their selected narrative. Exploiting their access to the western media, the White Helmets thereby de facto became a major source of “eyewitness” news regarding what was going on in those many parts of Syria where European and American journalists were quite rightly afraid to go, all part of a broader largely successful “rebel” effort to manufacture fake news that depicts the Damascus government as engaging in war crimes directed against civilians, an effort that has led to several attacks on government forces and facilities by the U.S. military. This is precisely the propaganda that has been supported both by Tel Aviv and Washington.

Perhaps the most serious charge against the White Helmets consists of the evidence that they actively participated in the atrocities, to include torture and murder, carried out by their al-Nusra hosts. There have been numerous photos of the White Helmets operating directly with armed terrorists and also celebrating over the bodies of execution victims and murdered Iraqi soldiers. The group’s jihadi associates regard the White Helmets as fellow “mujahideen” and “soldiers of the revolution.”

So, the National Holocaust Museum, which is taxpayer funded, has given an apparently prestigious award to a terrorist group, something which could have been discerned with even a little fact checking. And the museum also might have been sensitive to how the White Helmets have been used in support of Israeli propaganda vis-à-vis Syria. Perhaps, while they are at it, the museum’s board just might also want to check out Elie Wiesel, for whom the award is named. Wiesel, who was a chronicler of Jewish victimhood while persistently refusing to acknowledge what Israel was doing to the Palestinians, notoriously mixed fact and fiction in his best-selling holocaust memoir Night. Ironically, the award and recipient are well matched in this case as mixing fact and fiction is what both Elie Wiesel and the White Helmets are all about.

 

Iran’s definitive account of the Iraq war: Written by a female Iraqi Kurd

Iran’s definitive account of the Iraq war: Written by a female Iraqi Kurd

by Ramin Mazaheri for The Saker Blog

On September 22nd there was a terrible terrorist attack in the Iranian city of Ahvaz which killed 25 innocent people and wounded 70 other people. This was universally reported in the West as having occurred at a “military parade”, when it was actually a parade to commemorate the 1980 start of the Western-backed, Western-funded, Western-armed invasion which used Iraq to try to destroy the democratic 1979 Iranian Revolution.

But none of those accurate adjectives can be said in the West…no, no, no – it was just a no-reason-needed military parade, as if Iran was a warmongering nation prepping its fanatical people for imperialist adventures. (Iran has not invaded a country in well-over 200 years.)

The timing of the attack was obviously (though not primarily) a way to divert the world’s attention from the deadliest conflict of the last quarter of the 20th century. Instead of talking about what disaster and death was heaped on Iran from 1980-1988, it was Iranian “militarism” which was discussed and not anyone else’s.

But ho-hum, more misreporting on Iran. In other news: the sun rose this morning. This is just life for all socialist-inspired democratic revolutions – Cuba, North Korea, Vietnam, China, etc., have all had their sufferings ignored, their mistakes amplified and their successes denied. To even raise this point makes one an unthinking “apologist”, an Islamofascist, a totalitarian commie, blah blah blah.

This is the front cover art for the book One Woman’s War: Da (Mother) written by Seyedeh Azam Hosseini. The book cover art copyright is believed to belong to Mazda Publishers.

The tragic event, and the subsequent false histories of the Western media, makes this an appropriate time to bring up what has become the most important literary reference for Iranians regarding the war – a book called Da. “Da” means mother in Kurdish, and not in Farsi. The book was written by a woman whose Iraqi Kurdish family had emigrated to Iran when she was a child.

How could the definitive account on the Iranian view of the Iran-Iraq War have been written by an Iraqi Kurd, and a female to boot?!

You would think Iranians hate Iraqis; you are certain that Iran hates women; and you assume that Iran has a war against the Kurds, just like Iraq, Turkey and Syria. If you assume everyone follows the dictates of capitalism’s identity politics, you likely would predict that this book is a litany of accusations and compiled hatreds towards Iran.

If you assume all these things it’s because you fail to realize that Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution was inspired by socialism, which demands a citizen and a government loudly banish racism from the public sphere. Much like this stoned surfer-dude American idiot who wrote an article titled Whoa. The Soviet Union Got Racial Equality Right Before America?, you are way, way, WAY off. (And when did America get racial equality “right”?)

For a comparison: Can anyone imagine that France’s definitive account on the Algerian War for Independence would come from a non-White? Their most famous work on Algeria is The Stranger by Albert Camus, who was an isolated-from-Algerians pied noir whose refusal to condemn French oppression was selfishly defined by the fact that he cared more for his mother’s comfort than a million dead Algerians. Heaven forbid that Madame Camus would have to relocate back to France, even if that meant ending a war and a 132-year occupation.… Camus’ view of morality is 100% rooted in Western capitalism individualism, after all, which is the reason its popularity still endures today.

But Iran had no problem making Da a huge best-seller despite the author’s Iraqi Kurdish roots; and, somehow, Iranian men took time out of their daily oppression of women to find out their thoughts and feelings on past experiences. The 700-page account of the war was read by everyone, including President Rohani.

The book is a memoir of Seyyedeh (indicating lineage from Prophet Mohammad) Zahra Hoseyni, a teenager who was living with her extremely poor but tight-knit family on the border city of Khorramshahr. The city was the first to be sneak-attacked by the Iraqis, and the massacres and devastation wrought there would be reflected by a Farsi pun on the city’s name: “City of Blood”.

A memoir of the last, worst traditional war in our modern times

The book is not an easy read, as Hoseyni recounts one tragedy after another.

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In short, for those attacked by Iraq the war was one day from hell after another, with each one worse than the next. Hunger, thirst, physical exhaustion, emotional exhaustion, the nightmares of screaming planes, repeatedly watching people go insane with the pain of mourning, every weary pause only giving rise to recent tragic memories, the constant filth and lack of clean water a bombarded people must deal with, actual nightmares when sleep does come, the perpetual sound of war which then makes silent pauses totally strange, and the constant, constant guilt of being alive combined with the knowledge that death from a shell could come at any moment.

So much of the book is something like a horror hallucination of the first few weeks of an unexpected, undeserved war, combined with a recounting of the vast citizen efforts to fight back.

Each according to their abilities, of course: Hoseyni is an young lioness fighting for the cubs of the Iranian nation and Khorramshahr. She accepts responsibility after responsibility, and even refuses to back down to proud & protective Iranian men in her insistence on going to the front to help amid the bullets and bombs. She volunteers as a corpse-washer, which turned out to be a never-ending job, and which is certainly a job few would want. Her beloved father and brother die at the front, but still she endures and gives, gives, gives. Everyone is looking at her and seeing a person with an iron sense of justice, duty and faith.

What I suggest makes this memoir so compelling and successful is that, in Hoseyni’s retelling, she remembers not only that every day was a living hell but that every moment within every day was a living hell. Hoseyni repeatedly talks about the constant abyss of mourning and horror opening up inside her at every moment; seemingly dozens of times a day she is assaulted by an event/tragedy/memory/feeling which could send a normal person to a hospital for weeks of recovery and therapy. It is unlikely that a memoir by a male would admit the incredibly sad emotions which any human would go through in Hoseyni’s situation.

And yet Hoseyni appeared to all as indomitable (even after she is wounded at the front). She simply said a prayer of “Ya Hossain” and rushed towards another difficult task nobody else wanted. She was the model defender of the nation – indeed, Iran’s war “Mother” is not even a “true” Iranian, in non-socialist logic — but the book reveals that she was able to live this ideal even though her feelings were the absolute opposite of proud glory.

Saying a prayer before a difficult task can go a very long way, but it’s this juxtaposition of a public persona of revolutionary steel combined with total inner crumbling which makes the book so compelling. How she could do what she did – when she could not even bring herself to eat, nor sleep, nor mourn day after day after day – is astounding and an inspiration to anyone sanctioned by injustice.

For those who are not just uninterested in religion but who also actively detest religion, I’m sorry to objectively report that a huge part of her strength came from her religious faith – she and her family were pious people who took their title of “Seyed” as a serious injunction to be moral examples. However, the family was also extremely politically aware and active – these were true revolutionaries; they were also so poor as to come from the “correct” class to qualify as a revolutionary, although such prejudices represent antiquated notions about who can or cannot be a socialist.

There is much to learn from the war memoirs from World War I, II, or the Holocaust, but Da is exceptional in that it is from our modern times. When she recounts her rage and disbelief at BBC Radio’s totally misguided coverage of the war, we in 2018 share her shock at “fake news”.

Da should be essential reading to any war hawk advocating invasion in any foreign country which has had a socialist-inspired revolution, because you will be facing a very unique type of people. Whether it be the USSR, China, Vietnam, Korea or Iran, these are societies which cannot be divided into tribes or identities, as they have achieved socialist cultural unity:

“I saw myself as a tree with deep roots, resisting being pulled from the ground. How could I allow myself to be uprooted? Although born in Basra, I felt no attachment to the place. I loved Iran…my love for Khorramshahr overwhelmed all reason and logic.”

The Western capitalist and anti-multicultural societies of continental Europe cannot imagine that an immigrant is capable of ever feeling this way, and thus many there want immigrants expelled or at least segregated.

But the old tricks of divide and conquer, Balkanisation or the political segregation of Lebanonization will not work in socialist-inspired nations. The author recounts how Saddam Hussein tried exactly that – telling Iranian Arabs to join their Arab brother – but only the most reactionary fell for such a stupid worldview.

Hoseyni talks about the MKO/MEK terrorist group (and I am only talking about them because Western nations and their propaganda outlets keep pushing them back into the spotlight): stealing corpses to inflate their body counts for propaganda purposes, attacking people who disagreed with them at public debates, working as spies for Iraq and giving them coordinates of places to bomb, attacking ardent revolutionaries and then literally rubbing salt or pepper in their wounds out of sadism. The idea that the MKO isn’t detested by 100% of Iranians, and that they have a zero percent chance of ever being rehabilitated – much less being democratically elected into power – is totally, totally absurd to Iranians. Again, why would anyone even talk about them anymore? Oh yes, because they are propped by the West, Israel and Saudi Arabia.

She also talks about what an exceptionally politically-open society Iran was in the early days of the Revolution, and few non-Iranians know that much of this remains true today. Parliament was open to anyone to come observe and even shout disruptions, Khomeini held public audiences for two hours twice a week and received anyone and everyone, elected representatives were easily accessible and lived the common, poor lives of a nation under war. All of this is in stark contrast to the leaders of seemingly every Arab nation not named “Algeria”, and it also shows the democratic bonafides, the more-than-majority support, of the Iranian Islamic Revolution: you can shudder at the word “Islamic” all you want, but the revolution was democratic in the truest sense of the word and no matter in what country that word is uttered.

Western culture is full of ‘war porn’, but Iran is not titillated by such things

“The fall of Khorramshahr and the things I had experienced in the past weeks had made me more aware of how people suffered.”

Such are the types of wisdoms Hoseyni tosses off, but there is no doubt that they are not false cliches for her, nor for millions of other Iranians.

It reminds me of a major problem with America and the West: they are so war-crazy, and yet everything they know about it – to anyone under 85 – is totally fictitious, video-game-like nonsense.

The American view of war is truly one constant cliche, where glory appears to be a feeling to run after but which Hoseyni proves it is actually the result of living through unwanted horrors and tragedies.

It’s true that the younger generation of Iranians has little memory of the sacrifices, bombardments and war rationing, but the way Iran and the US remember their war martyrs is so very different.

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Can you name one famous American solider who died in Iraq or Afghanistan? All I can think of is Pat Tillman, and that’s only because he was also an American football player (and who was killed by friendly fire). However, Iran is full of portraits and memorials to dead soldiers and even dead teenagers…one cannot even make a comparison of the psychological/emotional/human gravity of war in the minds of the average Iranian versus the average American.

My point is that, for all their fighting, ever since Vietnam Americans have essentially been hero-worshipping an empty solider’s uniform. Unless we are talking about rural Americans from their lower class, most Americans really have no personal/psychological connection to actual war, unlike Iranians.

Such people, like the 4-F Trump, grow enraged at taking anyone knee during the National Anthem to protest the undeniable mass incarceration/mass murder/mass oppression of an ethnic minority, but there is no truly human element present – their honouring is phony and faceless.

Say what you will about Iran, but you cannot say that.

Furthermore, Iranian martyrdom – where death is assured – is far, far different from the power-trip fantasies and motivations of the American solider and the American chickenhawk playing Call of Duty video games.

For Iran war is not a glory, but a horror, and whatever sacrifices the nation must make due to the Western Cold war…at least it is better than the Hot War. Befuddled Western “analysts” of Iran cannot imagine this type of logic playing such a large part in Iranian policymaking because they have zero experiences and comprehension of any war which is not just on a two-dimensional screen.

Iran fights in places like Syria, Iraq an Afghanistan because their allies, cousins and cultural-cousins are being attacked, and also because justice itself is being attacked; America fights wars because it seems like fun, because they have such neat toys to play with, and they fight without gallantry and without esteem from the locals they claim to be “fighting with”. America massacres and plunders; Iran’s forces are far closer to Mao’s Long March injunction that soldiers should not take even a pin from locals they were trying to liberate from fascism.

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Thirty years after the end of Iran’s “War of Sacred Defense” Iran’s “military parades” are attacked, but the world still doesn’t really comprehend exactly what the West is attacking in Iran. Da is an unsparing account of a civilian Islamic socialist revolutionary in wartime – reading this memoir would certainly help Westerners understand what they remain up against as they keep trying to implode Iran’s socialist-inspired democracy.

Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for PressTV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. His work has appeared in various journals, magazines and websites, as well as on radio and television. He can be reached on Facebook.

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