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Iranian reformers unite; seek ouster of Ahmadinejad

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Ahmadinejad may be losing support. Is it a new day for Iran?
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Mohammad Khatami, the reformist former president, has decided to withdraw from the June presidential race to support a political ally […]

Mohammad Khatami

“The most important goal is to prevent Mr. Ahmadinejad from re-election, not to get Mr. Khatami elected,” […]

Mr. Mousavi [the candidate Khatami will support], who is also a painter and architect, stayed out of politics for the past two decades and had turned down calls to run as presidential candidate in previous elections. His wife, Zahra Rahnavard, was the dean of the prestigious women’s university, Al Zahra, from 1998 to 2006 and is close ally of Mr. Khatami.[…]

President Ahmadinejad is supported by the conservative Iranian establishment, but his economic policies have unleashed economic inflation of over 25 percent, and two major setbacks last week suggested that he might be losing support ahead of elections.[…]

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Could be a breakthrough.  The election is June 12.

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Written by Monte

March 16, 2009 at 1:49 pm

What Iranians Want Americans to Know about Iran

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Ever-thoughtful Krista Tippett (writing in Krista’s Journal) ticks off these qualifications of Douglas Johnston, a recent guest on American Public Media’s Speaking of Faith:

Douglas Johnston’s primary … contribution to world affairs in recent years has come through the work he describes in this program … which [is] deeply consonant with the urgent recommendations of the … Iraq Study Group. … Johnston has also orchestrated some of the highest level contacts … between religious and political leaders in Iran and the United States in recent years … I decided that it was finally time to interview him when I read a thought-provoking memo he crafted last year entitled, “What Iranians Want Americans to Know about Iran.”

I quote that memo here. I found it eye-opening. And I encourage a visit to SOF to learn more. To my Iranian friends – built-in experts – how did he do? What else would you want me to know? Thanks!

What Iranians Want Americans to Know about Iran
by Douglas M. Johnston

September 11, 2001
1. There were no Iranians or Shiite Muslims among the attackers on 9/11.
2. Iran was the first Islamic country to condemn the 9/11 attacks.
3. Iran cooperated with U.S. and coalition forces to defeat the Taliban in Afghanistan.
4. Al-Qaeda and the Taliban have never been friends of Iran, and Iran has never funded or supported either group. Arab countries supposedly friendly to the U.S. have provided major sources of funding for both.

Regional Context
1. Iran is a Shia Persian country in a hostile Sunni Arab neighborhood.
2. Iran has been a victim of Arab extremism. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Monte

February 1, 2007 at 5:22 pm

Posted in Islam, Politics, Terrorism

Juan Cole: Straight Talk Express derailed [and Iran update]

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As the battle for political truth plunges into the general election season, Prof. Juan Cole recommends this 3 minute video clip of John McCain. It’ll remind you of Clinton’s Tuszla landing, for here’s McCain saying on film what he says he doesn’t say. [UPDATE: See a stunner of McCain talking about Iran, just below]

[UPDATE #2: Huffington Post is reporting that this video, since its release last Sunday, has become the #1 most viewed video on YouTube, and the #2 story on the Digg election page! It’s been viewed over a million times, giving it “an audience that most cable news shows only dream of.” Some are hoping the corporate media will be shocked into a return to investigative journalism, abandoned during the Bush years out of fear of being labeled “liberal media.”]

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Whether these backtracks represent confusion or dishonesty, I can’t tell. Sen. McCain certainly seems like a likable guy, and was unquestionably brave 35 years ago.

But putting his finger on the nuclear trigger strikes me as a mighty risky enterprise. I want someone in the Oval Office who’s not this mixed up.

UPDATE: It’s worse than I thought.

Joe Klein of Time Magazine calls McCain on his misunderstanding of Ahmadinejad’s role in Iranian foreign policy (as Think Progress notes: “Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and Iran’s National Security Council set Iran’s foreign policy.” The Iranian President is not the Commander-in-Chief.)

McCain’s response (with a smirk): “I think if you asked any average American who the leader of Iran is, I think they’d know.” Watch it:

Yow! He really doesn’t know! And he smiles wisely at the reporter’s ignorance!

Oh, boy.

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Written by Monte

May 20, 2008 at 1:55 pm

Posted in Iraq, Politics

A brief history of Iran-US relations, part 3: Understanding US withdrawal from Iraq

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Cole Juan with captionOn February 27, my wife Lori and I were privileged to hear Juan Cole, the University of Michigan’s distinguished expert on Middle Eastern affairs, at a luncheon of the Iowa City Foreign Relations Council. It occurred to me that notes from Prof. Cole’s brief lecture, with a few supporting resources, could provide a valuable structure for understanding the back-stories that make today’s crises add up.

Part 1 of this thread sketched Prof. Cole’s list of the foundational events of Iran-US relations during the 20th century. Part 2 outlined the rise of Ahmedinejad, Iranian weapons in Iraq, and Iran’s nuclear ambitions. This Part 3 is his response to audience questions.

By all means, check out his Informed Comment: Thoughts on the Middle East, History, and Religion for reflection on news events as they happen.

* * *

ENORMOUS CHANGES IN THE OIL INDUSTRY: OPEC, which began in an era of oil-engendered prosperity, now faces the eventual end of its oil supplies. “We are now playing a game of musical chairs. The Washington power elite looked at the Gulf and said, ‘We could be the ones without a chair at the end.’ One thing you can do – take out a pistol… Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Monte

March 23, 2007 at 9:19 pm

Posted in Iran, Iraq, Politics, Terrorism