Thursday, March 23, 2006

Persian New Year Begins with Fear

Signs of uncertainty point to possible attack on Iran

As Iranians get ready to celebrate a 3,000-year tradition of Norouz, the Persian New year, a legacy from the ancient Persian Empire, they cannot hide their worries about the near future. They also are experiencing more inflation, while another shock this time comes not from the U.S. or the E-3, but from Japan, which has announced they want to reduce oil imports from Iran.Japan has always been one of Iran's best oil costumers. The corrupt and crisis-ridden Iranian economy is susceptible to a nasty shock like this that could send it into a tailspin. As the U.N. Security Council (UNSC) is still discussing how to sanction Iran, many Iranians believe that possible economic sanctions would weaken the middle and lower classes and create more dissidents. While the regime has violently suppressed demonstrations, strikes, and protests, it is difficult to predict radical change.
For example, Ahmad Batebi, a famous Iranian political prisoner who escaped from jail after six years confinement and has gone into hiding like so many others, believes, "Any economic sanctions mean more and more poverty for ordinary people and do not directly threaten the regime". On the other hand, the situation is going from bad to worse, and it seems the Islamic Republic's foreign office is losing it. A spokesman for Iran's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, reacting to Britain's Foreign Minister's speech, told the press: "Jack Straw's brain is jammed!" and Mahmud Ahmadinejad in another speech earlier in the week said, "I didn't see any wise men among western politicians!"
More anxious news has been conveyed by ex-president Mohammad Khatami, who said, "In Germany I was told that if Iran's regime persisted in its nuclear program, the U.S. would attack Iran a month after referral to the UNSC." He was asked to send this "message" to the regime's leaders.
When the Islamic Republic and the U.S. agreed to hold discussions about Iraq's position, right-wing U.S. foreign policy makers tried to put more pressure on the regime in Iran. Some sources say that Elizabeth Cheney was chosen to officially organize the spending of US$75 million, as requested by Condoleezza Rice, to promote a regime change within Iran. The New Yorker last week reported of a connection with the corrupted Iranian opposition based in the U.S. Both Monarchists and MEK (Mojahedin Khalgh) try to pretend they are the only alternative for regime change in Iran, but their background is not so attractive for the new generation of Iranians who don't like either totalitarian Islam or rule by corrupt politicians and generals.
In U.S.-based Iranian satellite channels’ TV coverage includes only old men sitting in front of the camera answering phone calls -- they don't even know the name of Tehran's streets, and then they want to lead a revolution inside Iran.
Of course, regime is not frightened them or establishing an independent office in the U.S FM called progressive democracy in Iran, But they are frightened hysterically by the women's movement, workers, teachers, and students; in the last weeks they brutally suppressed a strike by bus drivers and jailed not only the strikers, but also their families who had joined in support. Oppression has continued involving an attack on a religious sect,, the suppression of Women's Day demonstrations, an attack on a student meeting protesting against grabbing martyrs in Tehran`s Polytechnic University and finally the jailing of hundreds of youths during a fire festival last Tuesday night called Chahar Shanbe Soori.
Police has warned before that considering Mullahs’ Fatwa against Charshanbe Sori, they would confront with any fire festival in the streets .The fest goes to an ancient Persian tradition related with Mithraism .
But like every year millions of people came to streets make fire and jumping over it, singing, drinking, dancing and throwing firecrackers to Police and militias.
Some of my friends who came home after midnight and hours of dancing and singing without wearing a formal hijab in the streets told me; after one night madly sounds of firecrackers and fireworks, they hope never to hear the sound of air strikes and missiles clashing in the cities.
Actually, this is a common fear in Iran in the first moments of the new Persian year this spring.During the last days of the old year, in the south and east of Iran, ethnic rebels continued to be intrigued by U.S. intelligence services and about 22 local administrators killed in Zabol.Political prisoners are in danger, it has been reported that some of them may be executed in the first days of the new Persian year and others are in a bad situation. Bloggers like Mojtaba Saminejad and journalists like Elham Afrotan remain confined in their horrible cells during New Year ceremonies.While the UNSC continues to discuss a deadline or resolution concerning Iran's nuclear program, the American mainstream press has been polling the public about a possible attack against Iran. A majority believe it will happen. At the same time, many people in the Middle East in another poll say they are against this possible attack.Some experts looking to future events may predict a risk of attack on Iran, but people in Tehran are desperately hoping something will stop another calamitous war.
March 28,
Photos: , Bia2, Arash Ashorinia
Related Articles: War Has Already Begun!

War Has Already Begun!

Signs of Israel and the U.S. towards the showdown with Iran over the nuclear program

At the same day that Mohammad El Baredei’s report on Iran’s nuclear program was referred to U.N. Security Council retired Israeli chief of staff, Moshe Ya'alon, has said Israel could launch a military strike against Iran’s nuclear and defense sites. Ya’alon’s speech, broadcasted on an Israeli TV channel, has angered Israel’s army chief Ehud Olmert who has accused Moshe Ya'alon of disclosing classified military information.As the issue of a military strike against Iran intensifies, there are media reports of a possible future attack with NATO’s involvement. The Israeli intelligence have also begun their operation in Iran and have gathered information about suspected sites.Iran has reacted slowly to the events. Iran’s parliament has approved of a motion to suspend the NPT Additional Protocol to forbidden research on Nuclear weapons if Iran’s file is referred to U.N. Security Council. But they are still quiet and hope to got an agreement or concessions. The Guardian has quoted a senior British Foreign Office official saying that Iran needs just one year to acquire technology to develop a nuclear bomb. In fact it is not obvious how Iran’s government gave the IAEA watchdogs highly secret documents on how to make a bomb.News from Tehran shows Iran is ready for a confrontation. The government has planned an economic program in case of a crisis caused by a war or UN sanctions.

Secret military maneuvers are carried out in the south and west of the country. Iran’s Air force and Navy is now at its weakest period and land forces are not highly motivated to fight- they can just cause obstruction and spread war to the entire region.Another hidden war rages in southern and eastern Iran, where US intelligence forces are said to be training ethnic groups to rebel. Last week two young men accused of terrorist attacks, were publicly hanged in Ahwaz in southern Iran..Following John Bolton and Dick Cheney’s speech at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference in Washington D.C, where the two leaders stressed on a painful and hard U.S. reaction against the Islamic republic’s nuclear programs, , George W.Bush also said Iran’s nuclear programs were a national danger for USA.This week the U.N. Security Council may give Iran’s negotiators another opportunity for an agreement. At the same time some right wing voices within US foreign policy would like US unilateral action against Iran, such as a 30-day ultimatum. This has called for appeals from peace activists to stop war against Iran!
2006-03-12 02:32
2006-03-12 16:23 (KST)
©2006 OhmyNews

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Is the U.S. Mulling Nuclear Strikes on Iran?

©2006 OhmyNews
Omid Habibinia reviews news about shadows of war

The news of a possible U.S. plan to attack Iran frightened many Iranians. Now, Persian Web sites are publishing stories of a plan to attack Iran with nuclear weapons.An Islamic Republic spokesman said he believes these reports are more similar to psychological war tactics than actual preparations to attack on Iran.U.S. President George W. Bush has repeated many times he has no military plans to invade Iran, but Vice President Dick Cheney said the United States would attack Iran if it is necessary.
U.S. tactical mini nuke

Many military experts believe this possible attack is not a ground strike to change the regime like the operation in Iraq, but it will be a limited attack by the Air Force or a surgical strike on the nuclear power stations.When Global Research published an article about a possible attack, many people found it to be extreme and unimaginable. At the same time, Tehran's government newspapers reported about a possible U.S. and Israeli attack at the beginning of the Persian New Year which starts at the end of March, according to an Arab news source. Last week, Hosni Mubarak warned Bush to not attack Iran. This news alerted the Tehran government press that there is a possible plan to attack Iran.The general view is that the possible war would not be so close to the Persian New Year like the March 2003 invasion of Iraq. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice last month asked Congress to fund a $75 million media campaign and support Iran's pro-U.S. groups based in the United States. This is not enough to prepare anything really dangerous against the Islamic regime in Iran, but it sends a clear message to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.An air force attack by Israel would be more costly now that the Hamas government is allied with Iran.Some weeks ago, Judith Yaphe, a former senior CIA officer and professor at the U.S. Institute for National Strategic Studies, who was interviewed by Dorna Kouzehgar, stressed a war with Iran (PDF) is the most dangerous event that may happen in the region. Tolerating a nuclear-armed Iran is better than another war in Middle East, she said.The shadow of war in Iran is not completely horrible for the regime; they can exploit it by using it as an excuse to execute political prisoners, threaten Web bloggers and journalists, and try to stabilize an official marshal law in Iran.Oxford researcher Paul Rogers mentioned any attack on Iran will spread the war throughout the Persian Gulf and threaten oil transit routes.

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'Forestall Iran Confrontation by Negotiation'
2006-03-03 12:32
2006-03-03 17:13 (KST)
©2006 OhmyNews
Other articles by Omid Habibinia