Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Regime Change as Official Policy - Iran va Jahan

In his 2006 State of the Union speech, President George W. Bush correctly identified the dichotomy between Iranians and the terrorist regime which rules over them, when he described Iran as being “...a nation now held hostage by a small clerical elite that is isolating and repressing its people.” However, instead of aggressively supporting the democratic aspirations of the almost 70 million hostages in that country, his administration continues to dither on this important issue. It should not. Even though it seems as if the military option is the only alternative to appeasing the turbaned despots on the nuclear issue, it is not. The most potent weapon President Bush can use against the ruling mullahs in Tehran is the Iranian people themselves, for there is no other group in the world that would like to see the demise of the Islamic Republic more than they would.

For a decade now, Iranians have been struggling for their basic human rights. They have used a rational approach, always preferring peaceful methods such as strikes and sit-ins over violent ones, which the regime and its minions continuously use against innocent Iranian men, women, and children. Against their better judgment, freedom-loving Iranians even participated in unfair elections – such as the two presidential ones that made the treacherous Mohammad Khatami the smiling face of the regime – to prove that they desire those things which we who live in freedom take for granted: the rule of law, a representative government accountable to the people, and a free-market economy. That experiment – in which Iranians tried to work within the framework of the Islamofascist system to reclaim their rights – naturally ended in failure, for all elections in Iran are really “selections.” Candidates, hand-picked by the Council of Guardians (an oversight committee of reactionary clerics), run mock campaigns to become part of the regime’s public façade. Real power in Iran is instead held by a cabal which includes the Supreme Leader, other high-ranking clerics, and certain members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

The people of Iran now seek to shape their own destiny by replacing the current corrupt, decaying system with a vibrant, democratic one, and they have done just about everything possible within the narrow limits of power they have vis-à-vis their unelected rulers to achieve this goal. But it simply has not been enough. They require real assistance from abroad, especially the United States – the only country in the world capable of supporting regime change in Iran. In addition, Iranians need President Bush to make regime change the official policy of the US government. Without such a commitment, there remains the possibility – no matter how remote – that democratic dissidents inside the country will be used only as pawns to force the mullahs into surrendering their nuclear weapons program. It is crucial, then, for Iranians to know that America will be with them all the way to the ballot box.

One encouraging sign is that the Bush administration finally seems to understand the importance of aid. The $75 million recently requested by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is an improvement over the previous paltry sum ($3.5 million) allocated to democracy-building in Iran; but it is only a start. On the very same day she made this request from Congress, Secretary Rice asked for $771 million for Iraq, which would “...allow us [the US] to work effectively with our Iraqi partners to advance our strategy of ‘Clear, Hold, Build’ – clearing areas of insurgent control, holding newly gained territory under the legitimate authority of the Iraqi government, and building economic infrastructure and capable national democratic institutions that are essential to Iraq’s success.” It is obvious that we should not be thrifty in helping the Iraqis defeat the terrorists. But isn’t it also obvious that there would be a lot fewer – possibly even zero – “areas of insurgent control” if the terrorists’ backers in Tehran were replaced by a democratically-elected government friendly to the US? If $771 million is – to quote Ms. Rice – “an essential part of our National Strategy Victory for Iraq,” then isn’t an even larger budget for round-the-clock radio and satellite transmissions to Iran, state-of-the-art communications equipment for dissidents in different areas of the country, and a fund for Iranian workers on strike also vital for achieving that goal? Is there any price too high for absolute victory over a regime which seeks weapons of mass destruction, supports militant Islamists such as al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, and Hamas, and murders American soldiers in Iraq almost daily?

The forces of freedom in Iran would be grateful for true American friendship in their time of need and would not view it as meddling. It is only members of the outlaw regime, such as Mahmoud Ahmadinezhad, who would like the world to believe that they have the support of the Iranian people. But the truth is that the Shia Islamists, who hijacked the future of Iran more than a quarter century ago, have never represented the interests of Iranians, for their main purpose has been and always will be to export their Islamic revolution to the rest of the Muslim world and beyond. Even more importantly, many Iranians understand this sobering fact and refuse to be fooled by their oppressors’ disingenuous appeals to nationalism.

The pattern of hesitation and negotiation by the Bush administration needs to end. The US must finally recognize the true nature of the regime in Iran and actively work to dismantle it. Only by helping the Iranian people to build an effective democratic movement through strong political and financial commitments can we avoid the nightmare scenario of a nuclear-armed Islamic Republic and make significant progress in the war on terror.

- This is a beautifully composed article and I don't believe that I could have written it better myself. As I have said before, many Iranians are very suspicious of foreign meddling in the internal affairs of Iran. Feelings of resentment come flowing freely when the 1953 CIA sponsoship of the coup against Dr. Mossadegh is mentioned. However, there is a significant difference between what President Bush has recently announced with regard to funding and what was accomplished 50 years ago. The proposed increase in funding will be granted through regular legislative processes. This means that the money that will be set aside for dissident purposes will be openly available for scrutiny. Thus, there is an air of accountability present here that was completely absent 50 years ago. This will show the Iranian people inside and outside Iran that the United States is working with Iranians and not against them. I think that the United States has realised that everybody wins by the open funding of pro-democracy groups who truly care about Iran. The years of backroom deals and conspiracies are over. The Iranian people have evolved past the point of naiveté that was dominant during the Islmaic Revolution. The best way to capture the hearts of the Iranian people at this crucial time in our history is by openly reaching out a hand.

Marg Bar Jumurieh Eslami

Monday, February 27, 2006

Iran: Alarming Increase in Executions - Human Rights Watch

Hojat Zamani, a member of the opposition Mojadehin Khalq Organization outlawed in Iran, was executed on February 7 at Karaj’s Gohardasht prison, Human Rights Watch said today, after a trial that did not meet international standards.

Human Rights Watch also expressed grave concern for the safety of other members of the Mojahedin Khalq Organization imprisoned in Iran, including Saeed Masouri, Gholamhussein Kalbi, and Valiollah Feyz Mahdavi.

Following the election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad last year, the number of executions in Iran has increased sharply. According to news articles in the Iranian media, between January 20 and February 20 alone, the judicial authorities executed 10 prisoners and condemned another 21 to the death sentence.

The Iranian judiciary accused Zamani of involvement in a bomb explosion in Tehran in 1988 which killed three people and injured 22. He was condemned to death in 2004, after a court hearing that did not meet international standards for a fair trial, because Zamani was not allowed access to his lawyers.

Zamani was taken from his cell by the prison authorities and hanged inside the Gohardasht prison on February 7, but his execution was not confirmed until a week later, after mounting international protests, by Minister of Justice Jamal Karimirad.

In addition, Human Rights Watch fears the imminent execution of three persons accused of involvement in hijacking an airplane in 2001. They are Khaled Hardani, Farhang Pour Mansouri and Shahram Pour Mansouri. At the time of the alleged hijacking, Shahram Pour Mansouri was only 17 years old.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights prohibit the imposition of the death penalty for crimes committed before the age of 18. These treaties also prohibit the use of torture and cruel, inhuman, or degrading punishments. Iran is a party to both treaties.

Human Rights Watch called on the Iranian judiciary to stop applying the death penalty and to abide by its obligations under international treaties, including abolition of death penalty for juveniles and implementation of fair trial standards.

Iranian human rights activists have repeatedly expressed serious concerns that under President Ahmadinejad the government will increasingly resort to violent means to suppress dissent. These worries are accentuated by the presence of several ministers in the cabinet who are suspected of grave human rights violations. The Interior Minister, Mustafa Pour-Mohammadi, for example, is suspected of crimes against humanity for his involvement in summary and arbitrary execution of thousands of political prisoners in 1988.

The True Face of Islam

Last week I was sitting in a coffee shop minding my own business when I overheard a young muslim man discuss Islam with other non-muslims who were sitting around him. For those who are not familiar with the evils of Islam, his arguments were persuasive. He argued that women in Islamic countries are free; he professed that those women who wear the hijaab do so because they choose too. Furthermore, he drew similarities between the Hijaab in Islam and and the manner of dress worn by nuns and orthodox Jewish women. I sat there in my seat grinding my teeth and trying desperately not to scream in his direction. I ended up turning to a female student sitting at the table next to me and saying "the muslim world kills women every day for no reason and this guy says they're free." I don't know if he ever heard me, but when I managed to change my seat to sit directly in front of him I proudly displayed the Iranian flag on my computer as I read my text book - I probably should have displayed one of those Danish Mohammad cartoons that people are fuming over, but hindsight is always 20/20.

So are Iranian women free to choose whether to wear the Hijaab? The short and obvious answer is no. They are REQUIRED to do so under Islamic Law. The official punishment for violations of the Islamic dress code is lashing, however there have been many reports of the use of razor-blades on the face of violators and prison time as well. Reports on the absuses that women face in Iran are numerous and can easily be found through a google search. However, it angers me when the supporters of fascist governments use false information to persuade those who have a limited undrestanding of the area that Islam is inherently democratic and free. No religion has ever been successfully intermingled with politics and has always been seen as antithetical to an independant and representative government. The result in Iran has been just the same. The Islamic Regime in Iran is a tyrannical and fascist regime who does not respect the freedom of others to choose.

I recently acquired two pictures that were sent to me. Unfortunately, I do not know when these pictures were taken or for what purpose these women were executed, but they serve as a grim reminder of the brutallity of the Islamic Regime in Iran.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Final and Revised Letters to Israeli Missions in Ottawa and Washington D.C.

His Excellency Ambassador _________
Embassy of Israel in Ottawa/Washinton D.C.

Dear Ambassador __________,

We are writing you this letter to express our sadness and indignation towards the actions of the Islamic Republic of Iran regarding Israel and the rights of the Jewish people to live in their homeland. We are especially offended at the recent statements made by the Islamic regime’s President regarding the Holocaust and the sponsorship of a cartoon contest in a Tehran newspaper that is intended to poke fun at the misery that millions coped with during the Second World War.

We fear that at a time when the rhetoric of the Islamic Republic is so dreadfully appalling it is easy for the world to forget that the statements made by the regime do not represent the Iranian population’s views towards the people of the Jewish faith. The Iranian people have been held hostage by a corrupt and brutal regime that has sought its own betterment at the expense of all the people of Iran. In fact, we strongly believe that while the Islamic regime unjustly denies that the holocaust ever took place, it is carrying out its own destruction of the Iranian culture. One important element of this culture is the friendship and understanding that our two civilizations have shared for nearly two-thousand and seven-hundred years.

The Iranian people need the help of the international community in order to fulfill their desire of ridding themselves of the Islamic regime. This desire can be accomplished through peaceful means through the support of legitimate aspirations for freedom and democracy. The last twenty-seven years have been a dark time for the people of Iran. Nevertheless, once the Iranian people are free, the relationship that we have shared for millennia will undoubtedly continue. This relationship will be strengthened even further if the Iranian people perceive that Israel stood with them during their time of need. We expect that the friends of the Iranian people will respect and support Iran’s territorial integrity.

The Marze Por Gohar Party has dedicated itself to achieving a free, democratic, and secular republic of Iran. We look forward to working with you in the fulfillment of our goals. Do not hesitate to contact us.


Ruzbeh Hosseini
Foreign Policy Research Analyst of Marzeporgohar party and J.D. candidate at Michigan State University College of Law
Marze Por Gohar Party
Iranians for a secular republic

Iranians to celebrate "Fire Fiest" in show of defiance - SMCCDI

Millions of Iranians will defy once again, on Tuesday March 14th, the Islamic republic regime and its Islamo-Fascist ideology by renewing with their ancestral Persian tradition which is qualified as "Pagan" by the Islamist clerics.

Iranians will gather in all cities and villages of Iran and across main World's cities in order to celebrate the famous "Tchahr Shanbe Soori" (Fire Fiest). They will jump over bushes, set on fire, and will crack fire crackers and other hand made explosive devices. They will break backwarded official and religious taboos, such as dancing and chanting while expressing their love of life, joy and peace.

This year's celebration will become, as not only another act of renewing with the Persian Cultural Heritage, but also, as an act of Civil Disobedience and a show of attachment of Iranians to their National values rather than a forced and imported religion.

Already, groups of young are creating underground networks, in order to use the occasion offered by the massive presence of millions of Iranians in the streets, for carrying actions and strikes against the symbols of the theocratic power.Hand made grenades and incendiary devices are made and stored in safe places. Action plans for closing avenues and streets in order to slow the security forces' reaction are discussed. Web logs are created, for a better coordination, and calls are made, by maverick young Iranians, to abroad based Iranian satellite TV and radio networks asking for the popular preparation.

While some might exaggerate the impact of the celebration/defiance of March 14th, by qualifying it as the last night of the Islamic republic regime, the reality is that the occasion will consolidate more the increasing nationalistic and anti-Islamist feelings of Iranians and will create more hardships for an unpopular and shaky regime.

The fears of the upcoming event and its prospect have, already, forced the Islamic regime's officials to show a more conciliatory face and to declare that the security forces would not intervene unless there's a danger to the public order. But in reality, members of the regime's intelligence and security forces are tracking the underground networks in order to dismantle them.

The clerics have always tried, especially from taking power in 1979, to ban such tradition which is dating from before the Arab invasion of Iran. But Iranians have always refused to allow them to instate their dogmatic view, which is generated from the Islamists' fear of Iranians' Persian heritage and seen as a threat to their spiritual and political existence.

The regime's repressive actions and its policy of 'cultural cleansing' have increased the degree of Iranians' reaction, as well, and last year, thousands of Korans were also set on fire by Iranians who intended to show their total rejection of what they consider as the root of their problems. The sentence for burning a Koran, in Iran, is death with suffer.

In year 2000, the number of bushes, set on fire, was to the point that a landing Air France plane tried to change its trajectory as the pilot thought of a revolution taking place in Iran. The celebration was coinciding with the Shia mourning ritual of Ashura and many clerics had issued Fatwas (religious decrees) against celebrators and the event.

At least 6 persons were killed and hundreds of other beaten and arrested by the regime forces.

The security forces declared that the deaths were due to the explosion of fire crackers at their homes but a month later and in an unprecedented manner, the head of the regime's Medical Legist, confessed that no deaths due to explosion were brought to his services and on that night most deaths were caused by heads of victims smashed with heavy objects.

The Islamic regime forces make a wide spread use of heavy clubs and chains in order to attack the regime's opponents.

Marg Bar Jumhurieh Eslami!

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Letter to Prime Minister of Canada

Dear Right Honourable Prime Minister of Canada,

I am an Iranian/Canadian residing in Ottawa and the Director of the Human Rights Committee of Marze Por Gohar, an exiled political party that is striving for regime change and democracy in Iran. To begin with, I am writing to congratulate you on your victory in the recent elections. I know I am speaking for a large number of the Iranian Community when I say that we are pleased with the election results. If you recall, I was honoured to become acquainted with you a few years ago while demonstrating in front of the home of Mr. Mohammad Mousavi who was the ambassador of the Islamic Republic at that time. Your home was across from Mr. Mousavi’s and we were very pleased when you joined your wife in standing with us in support of our cause. I was quite impressed with you at that time and this eventually lead to my contribution of services to your campaign in the 2004 elections.

It was unfortunate that the Liberal Government had taken a soft approach towards the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) when they should have been uncompromising in light of the extreme human rights abuses, the pursuit of nuclear weapons, and the murder of the Canadian/Iranian Journalist Zahra Kazemi. Instead of taking a stand against these atrocities, the Liberal Government chose to yield in order to enter into lucrative business deals with the IRI. In fact, it was on the first anniversary of Ms. Kazemi’s death that the Right Honourable former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien went to Iran as an advisor for a Canadian oil company.

The Liberal Government had disappointed the Iranian Community on numerous occasions and I am extremely happy that we have a new and accountable government that takes the well being of all its citizens into consideration. As you may know, there has been great labour unrest in Iran in the past few weeks. I attended a protest in front of the Islamic republic’s Embassy on February 2, which was organized to support the bus drivers in Iran. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the Canadian Labour Congress’s Executive Vice President Barbara Byers was also in attendance. I have been active in the resistance against the Islamic regime for four years and we had never had any person of that calibre attend our demonstrations. I was quite impressed by this and I hope that the Conservative Party will take the right step in relation to IRI.

In conclusion, I would like to congratulate you on your well deserved win once again, as well as reiterate that the Iranian people need the help of the International Community in removing the Islamic regime. I humbly ask for your help in this matter and I sincerely hope that the Conservative Government will stand beside the Iranian people and help them achieve their goal of a free and democratic Iran. I would be happy to discuss these issues further at your convenience


Setareh Kaviyan
Director of Human Rights Committee
Marze Por Gohar Party
Iranians for a Secular Republic

Two more executed in Iran - SMCCDI

Two more Iranians were executed by the Islamic republic regime in the southern City of Dezfool. The two new victims identities were revealed as Ali B. and Eidi A.

They were accused of "kidnapping" and "rape".

The theocratic regime has increased the wave of executions in order to boost the existing fear among Iranians. Two other were executed on Friday in the City of Shiraz for "Murder".

In reality many of these victims are young Iranians who had stood up against the regime's use of brutality and had resorted to violence due to exasperation.

The Islamic republic regime is known for using false labels, such as, "Kidnapping", "Armed Robbery", "Murder", "Drug Trafficking", 'Rape', "Spying" or "Banditism" in order to qualify some of its exasperated opponents. Such policy helps its European, Asian and S. American partners to justify the continuation of their economic relations with a repressive regime vis-à-vis their public opinions.

Marg bar Jumhurieh Eslami

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Iranian regime killed the 19-year-old female journalist, Elham Afrootan

BOSTON, MA – On Thursday, February 16, 2006, Women's Forum Against Fundamentalism in Iran (WFAFI) released a statement regarding threats against the life of imprisoned Elham Afrootan, in Bandar Abbas city, Hormozgan province. Elham was charged for publishing a satirical article in a local weekly called "Tamadoun Hormozgan". While a religious judge in Bandar Abbass city issued an execution decree for Elham, WFAFI has just learned that Elham was brutally murdered in prison.

Elham was accused of publishing a satirical piece in the weekly paper which has been shut down since her arrest on January 29, 2006. The piece compares Ayatollah Khomeni to AIDS virus, saying that it "arrived in Iran in 1979", the year of the Islamic revolution. Titled: "Make the fight against AIDS public", the piece describes Iran’s former president, Mohammad Khatami, as "a remedy that allowed for the diffusion of the virus”. It also compares the current president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, to "the virus in the first person" and describes Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC or the Pasdaran), the judicial authority and the ministry of intelligence and security (MOIS) as the "diffusion centers".

Although the editor of the weekly, Ali Dirbaz, faced no repercussions because of his ties to the regime, Elham faced torture and brutal murder in prison cell. Dirbaz, a parliamentarian who belongs to a faction close to Iran's president, Ahmadinehad, claims that Elham passed the piece for publication without his knowledge. Elham was immediately charged with insulting the founder of the Islamic Republic, an act that is punishable by death.

WFAFI has learned that Elham was severely tortured and murdered, in recent days, with forced intake of bleach and cleaning products. The Iranian regime is trying to portray her murder as a suicide.

Like Zahran Kazemi, Elham reminded the community of nations that the fundamentalist regime in Tehran has no respects for freedom of press, expression or association. Such acts of brutality can not be tolerated. Silence and lack of action is just as worse. Elham was a young and brave journalist who paid dearly for the freedom of expression and press.

WFAFI also urges the United States Secretary of State, Dr. Condoleezza Rice, to publicly call out Ahmadinejad’s regime for the murder of Elham Afrootan. Ahmadinejad, Ali Dirbaz (editor of the weekly), and the judge who issued the torture and death penalty must be held responsible for their crimes. The Iranian regime must be held responsible for the killings of its own citizens in the International Criminal Court.

P.O. Box 15205
Boston, MA 02215
Tel: (617) 590-1665
Fax: (610) 862-9110

Appeal to Freeze Iranian Government's Assets - FDI

The Foundation for Democracy in Iran is launching the FDI Appeal to identify and freeze Iranian government assets around the world. Learn what you can do to help this effort below.

FDI believes that the ONLY way to seriously prevent the Islamic Republic of Iran from pursuing clandestine nuclear research is by hitting the regime and top regime leaders in the pocket book. By denying the regime access to international financial markets, the world community can cripple the regime’s ability to sell oil, buy weapons, and finance its terrorist networks around the world.

This is the single most effective sanction that could be imposed on the Islamic Republic.

FDI believes that tough measures designed the isolate the Tehran regime will encourage the Iranian people in their quest for freedom against the tyranny of a clerical elite and their Revolutionary Guards enforcers, as personified by the current president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The problem with today [in] Iran is not nuclear weapons, but nuclear weapons in the hands of a terrorist regime. If the problem were the weapons alone, we should all be worried about Great Britain, which became a declared nuclear weapons power more than five decades ago.

What you can do:
On Friday, Jan. 20, 2006, the Islamic Republic began shifting an estimated $30 billion to $50 billion in foreign reserves in Europe to financial safe havens around the world. This extraordinary effort mirrors regime efforts in 1979 to shelter Iran’s overseas assets before sanctions could kick in.

This time, however, the international community had no ready plan to freeze Iranian government assets. So far, the regime has been able to shelter billions of dollars of cash it can use to pursue nuclear weapons programs and finance terrorism. But by acting quickly, the international community can freeze billions more.

Who can doubt that the threat from the Islamic Republic of Iran is infinitely greater today than it was in 1979, when terrorists in Tehran seized 52 U.S. diplomats hostage? With Shahab-3 missiles aimed at Israel, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and others, a terrorist regime in Iran is trying to hold the whole world hostage, in a deadly game of nuclear blackmail.

The Foundation for Democracy in Iran today is launching an appeal to individuals and government experts around the world, to help identify and freeze Iranian government assets worldwide.

Lovers of a free Iran! If you believe you have information that could help to identify foreign bank accounts, corporations, real estate and other material assets controlled by the Tehran regime or top regime officials overseas, join the FDI Appeal by contacting us at the following email: exec@iran.org. All replies will be kept confidential.

Many of these assets are held through front companies, cut-outs, and bearer-share corporations. We call on your assistance in helping to identify and document these entities.

We need your help to identify the safe havens‚ where Iran has transferred its foreign exchange reserves. If you have knowledge of the latest Iranian government currency transfers, please contact us at the following e-mail: exec@iran.org Safe havens will no longer be safe once their identity is known.

Similarly, if you have information or contacts or can yourself help in the effort to convince world leaders, parliaments, and opinion-makers to join us in tracking the Tehran regime's foreign terror and weapons stash, please contact us. All replies will be kept confidential.

Stop Iran's Nuclear Blackmail Now!

Thursday, February 16, 2006

How Much Damage did Mr. Hakhaa do?

About a year ago, a man by the name of Mr. Ahura Pirooz Yazdi began speaking on an Iranian satellite channel that was broadcast into Iran. His message was captivating; unlike the many other satellite channels, Mr. Yazdi, or Mr. Hakhaa as he was later called by those mocking him, not only spoke out against the regime, but he also prophesised the exact moment that the regime would fall. His plan was to pack planes full of Iranians and non-Iranians alike and then miraculously fly them all to Iran where the Islamic Regime would be overwhelmed by the simultaneous arrival of the airplanes and the millions of people who were supposed to horde into the streets to welcome the travelers. You can probably guess what happened. There were no planes; there were no crowds; and Mr. Hakhaa mysteriously disappeared for about six months only to reappear and repeat the same shenanigan all over again.

I can wager that many of you, regardless of whether you heard of Mr. Hakhaa or not, are sitting in your seats chuckling. “How can anybody fall for that nonsense,” you may be asking yourself. Well, the truth is that Mr. Hakhaa created quite a big stir. Even I (I’m ashamed to say it) took notice and followed his broadcasts regularly the first time around. Although I wasn’t exactly a “believer,” I really wanted to believe. I began the desperate attempts at convincing myself that the plan, while deceivingly simple, could potentially work. I began daydreaming about the crowds in the streets and the planes landing at Mehrabad International Airport. In one of my daydreams I even saw myself on the plane! I probably wasn’t the only one. Judging by the amount of people who regularly called into his show and the amount of discussion that it created among Iranians, I am positive that there were many like me. In fact, rumour has it that Mr. Hakhaa walked away with a pocket full of money from hopeful Iranians who did more then just daydream.

With all this said, there is one question that I haven’t heard any Iranian ask: How much damage did Mr. Hakhaa do? I bet that some Iranians are too afraid to pose this question because the implications could be discouraging. Mr. Hakhaa’s success lay in his ability to reach out to the common layperson. His scheme had three important attributes. First, he had a plan that he shared with everybody. Second, he had an exact time in which his plan would be carried out. Third, he appealed to the person’s emotion. The combination of these three factors allowed him to reach out to not only those with university educations, but those everyday individuals who the opposition groups need in order to carry out a successful revolution. It’s not hard to get students and teachers to demonstrate against the unfair practices of the regime. It is these people who, by virtue of their education, are prone to question their surroundings. But if the hearts of the general population of Iran are crushed it will make the job of the opposition groups even harder when the time comes to do the dirty deed.

I truly can’t answer the question of how much damage Mr. Hakhaa did. I don’t think anybody knows. But the opposition groups and those working outside of Iran in order to foment change from within must take this into consideration. As it is, the people in Iran are already pessimistic about politicians. I can wager that Mr. Hakhaa's adventures only hightened this pessimism.

Marg Bar Jumhurieh Eslami.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Bush wants extra $75 mln to spur Iran democracy - Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President George W. Bush will ask Congress to authorize an extra $75 million in funds to help the United States spur democracy in Iran, a senior State Department official said on Wednesday.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will ask later Wednesday at a congressional hearing for the money in a supplemental budget request for fiscal year 2006, said the official, who asked not to be named because the announcement was not yet formal. The 2006 budget already has $10 million for such funds, he added.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Letter to the Israeli Embassies in Ottawa, Canada and Washington D.C.

Dear Ambassador _____________,

I am writing you this letter to express my sadness and indignation towards the actions of the Islamic Republic of Iran regarding Israel and the rights of the Jewish people to live in their homeland. I am especially offended at the recent statements made by the Islamic regime’s President regarding the Holocaust and the sponsorship of a cartoon contest in a Tehran newspaper that is intended to poke fun at the misery that millions coped with during the Second World War.

I fear that at a time when the rhetoric of the Islamic Republic is so dreadfully appalling it is easy for the world to forget that the statements made by the regime do not represent the Iranian population’s views towards the people of the Jewish faith. The Iranian people have been held hostage by a corrupt and brutal regime that has sought its own betterment at the expense of all the people of Iran. In fact, I strongly believe that while the Islamic regime unjustly denies that the holocaust ever took place, it is carrying out its own destruction of the Iranian culture that is thought to date back almost eleven thousand years. One important element of this culture is the friendship and understanding that our two civilizations have shared for nearly two-thousand and seven-hundred years.

The last twenty-seven years have been a dark time for the people of Iran. Nevertheless, once the Iranian people are free, the relationship that we have shared for millennia will undoubtedly continue. Please do not hesitate to contact me.


Ruzbeh Hosseini

Monday, February 13, 2006

What you can do to help the Iranian dissident movement.

There are many Iranians and non-Iranians alike who are not associated with any formal political organizations, but who nevertheless want to do something more concrete then simply checking the news and debating politics with their freinds and family. If you are one of those people, here is what you can do:

In 2004, Republican Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen proposed a bill called the Iran Freedom Support Act. The purpose of the act is two-fold. First, it tightens and hopefully corrects the flaws of the Iran-Lybia Sanctions act. Second, it provides substantial funding to organizations that are dedicated to a free and democratic Iran. Furthermore, it only makes these funds available to those organizations that refute terrorism (sorry MKO). This funding is desperately needed in order to purchase the tools we need to spread the message of democracy and freedom in Iran. The bill has already been approved by a congressional committee, but we need your help to have it approved by Congress.

The best thing about having a free and fair democracy is that Congressional representatives in both houses will listen if you make your voice heard. Join us in sending your support to your congressional representatives. Get the contact information here.

Remember, the congress-men and -women that you contact do not have to be from your area. The more people you contact the better! You don't even have to be American. U.S. foreign policy is increasingly in the global spotlight and I can assure you that politicians want to know what the international community thinks. If we can get this bill enacted into law the Islamic Regime in Iran will become even weaker.

Help us help Iran.

Marg Bar Jomhorieh Eslami!

Ruzbeh Hosseini

P.S. Please feel free to post your comments on the comment section!! Don't leave me all alone! :)

Sunday, February 12, 2006

US drawing up plans for Iran attack - Sunday Telegraph

LONDON (AFX) - US military strategists are drawing up plans for an attack on Iran as a last resort to stop the Islamic republic from developing nuclear weapons, the Sunday Telegraph newspaper in London reported.

In a front-page dispatch from Washington picked up by Agence France-Presse, the paper said Central Command and Strategic Command planners were 'identifying targets, assessing weapon-loads and working on logistics for an operation.'

The planners are reporting to the office of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld with a view to having a military option if diplomatic efforts fail to put the brakes on Iran's suspected quest for nuclear weaponry.

'This is more than just the standard military contingency assessment,' the Sunday Telegraph quoted a senior Pentagon adviser as saying. 'This has taken on much greater urgency in recent months.'

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad warned yesterday that Tehran could quit the Non-Proliferation Treaty if it is forced by the West to limit its disputed nuclear programme, which it insists is for civilian purposes, AFP said.

Earlier this month, the International Atomic Energy Agency referred Iran to the UN Security Council after the oil-rich nation resumed its uranium enrichment program.

Friday, February 10, 2006

The Iranian Regime Kills, Tortures, and Imprisons Everybody EQUALLY!

Today's LA Times had an article in the editorials section that was authored by Edward N. Luttwak. The work was entitled "Would Iranians rally 'round the flag?" and it was an attempt at showing that Iranians would react favourably to an attack on their nuclear facilities by the West. Aside from his assertions about a military option being wrong, the article suffered from an even greater flaw. Mr. Luttwak's argument rested on the separation of the cultural people in Iran claiming that the ethnic minorities would, at the very least, be apathetic to a military strike. Specifically, Mr. Luttwak claimed that the ethnic minorities were disillusioned by the "Persian" federal government that openly discriminated against them. Furthermore, he claimed that, unlike other countries, Iran was not a "nation," but an "empire."

First, Iran is no more an empire then the United States is 13 British colonies. Nobody claims that the annexing of California or the Louisiana Purchase has made the United States any less of a country. Iran WAS an empire; however, the different cultural people in Iran have lived peacefully together for centuries without any conflict. It angers me that at such a crucial period in our country's history - a period where we, as a nation, are at our weakest - some people are willing to spread lies and misinformation in order to harm us further. At no time in our country's long history was race ever an issue; why is it now?

Iran is a country that is not made up of any one culture. We are a mix of people not unlike the western countries who have, only recently, seen an influx of immigration. For centuries, Iran has welcomed many different cultures who now reside within its borders. We are represented by Balochs, Azeries, Iranian-Arabs, Hindus, Kurds, Armenians, and many other people. All of us, regardless of our background, recognize ourselves as Iranian. I myself am a product of a Turkish-Iranian father and a mother who is Rashti. Neither my father, nor my mother distinguish themselves from anybody else in Iran - we are all Iranian.

Those who play the race card in their observations of Iran fail to realize that the Regime is not represented by Persians. The regime is represented by fundamentalist Muslims that discriminate against everybody in Iran regardless of race. Persians are jailed and killed everyday because they speak out against the regime. Thus, the Persians are treated no differently then anybody else. The Iranian people have been held hostage by a regime that seeks only its betterment.

People like Mr. Luttwak who are quick to make uneducated and trigger happy assertions only further the stereotypes of Americans around the world and ultimately harm their own and their country's reputation. It is wise for Mr. Luttwack to be a friend to the Iranian people at a time when they are in need of help.

Marg Bar Jumhurieh Elsami!

Ruzbeh Hosseini

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Up to 500 Tehran bus workers imprisoned for planning strike - Amnesty International

Up to 500 Tehran bus workers imprisoned for planning strikeAmnesty International is calling on the Iranian authorities to release immediately hundreds of Tehran bus workers who were detained last week apparently to pre-empt threatened strike action. Although some of the workers have been released, hundreds are reported still to be detained without charge or trial at Tehran’s Evin Prison. Some have been beaten and in some cases, their wives and children have reportedly been beaten during raids on their homes.

The arrests began after the Union of Workers of the Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company, which represents workers employed by the United Bus Company of Tehran, called for a strike on 28 January in support of various union demands.

These included the release of the union’s leader, Mansour Ossanlu, who has been detained without charge or trial since 22 December 2005; the introduction of collective bargaining; and for the bus company, which is run by the Tehran local authority, to grant a pay increase.

According to reports, leaflets announcing the strike were widely distributed in Tehran on 24 January 2006 and one member of the union’s executive, Hosseini Tabar, was detained for about four hours while helping with this.

Next day, six other members of the union’s executive committee - Ebrahim Madadi, Mansour Hayat Ghaybi, Seyed Davoud Razavi, Sa’id Torabian, Ali Zad Hossein and Gholamreza Mirza’i - were summoned to appear at the Public Prosecutor’s Office in Tehran.

When they did so on 26 January, they were arrested when they refused to call off the strike and taken to Evin Prison. Interviewed by the official IRNA news agency, the Mayor of Tehran reportedly described the union as illegal and said that the authorities would not permit the strike to go ahead.

The United Bus Company’s management threatened workers who supported the strike call with the loss of their jobs.

The authorities then carried out mass arrests of union members on 27 January, the eve of the threatened strike, detaining some workers as they completed their shifts and others at their homes.

Those detained included the wives of Mansour Hayat Ghaybi and Seyed Davoud Razavi, and a third union leader, Yaghub Salimi.

Security forces raided Yaghub Salimi’s home after he was interviewed by a Berlin-based radio station but he was absent at the time. However, his wife and their children were beaten and detained.

Mahdiye Salimi, aged 12, described her ordeal later in a radio interview. She said that three women and five children had been arrested, that they had been beaten and that her two-year-old sister had been injured when she was pushed roughly into a security forces vehicle, and that her mother had been kicked in the chest.

Mahdiye Salimi was released, together with her mother and young sister, when Yaghub Salimi gave himself up to the security forces. The other children and women who were detained are also now reported to have been released.

Hundreds more union members are reported to have been arrested on the day of the strike, 28 January, with most of these also being taken to Evin Prison.

Workers were reportedly beaten with batons, punched, kicked and threatened to force them to work, including by members of the volunteer Basij force who had apparently been brought in to replace striking workers.

Security forces reportedly used tear gas and fired shots into the air. Further arrests were reported on 29 and 30 January.

Currently, only some 30 to 50 of those detained are reported to have been released, apparently after they agreed under duress to sign guarantees that they would not participate in strikes or other protest actions.

As many as 500 others are believed still to be held at Evin Prison without access to lawyers or family. Some are reported to have started a hunger strike on 29 January to protest their detention. Another strike has been called for 2 February 2006.

Amnesty International is concerned that those detained are being held solely on account of their peaceful activities as trade unionists and as such are prisoners of conscience who should be released immediately and unconditionally.

The right to form and join trade unions is well-established in international law, notably under Article 22 of the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and Article 8 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). Iran is a state party to both of these treaties.

Iran is also a member of the International Labour Organization and bound by its requirements, including the ILO Committee on Freedom of Association’s ruling that it is not legitimate for states to restrict the right to strike during disputes concerning workers’ occupational and economic interests.

States can restrict the right to strike only in cases of acute national emergency (and then for a limited period only), which is clearly not the situation which prevails in Tehran.

Freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining are core principles of the ILO’s Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, which requires all state parties “to respect, to promote and to realize, in good faith and in accordance with the Constitution, the principles [of the Declaration].”

Background Information

The union representing Tehran’s bus workers was banned after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, then reactivated in 2004 although it is not legally-recognised.

On 22 December 2005, police arrested 12 of the union’s leaders at their homes but quickly released four of them.

Further union members were arrested on 25 December while staging a bus strike in Tehran to call for the release of their colleagues but they and all those arrested earlier were released in the following days with the exception of Mansour Ossanlu.

He continues to be detained and to be denied access to a lawyer, and is said possibly to be facing serious charges of having contact with exiled opposition groups and instigating armed revolt.

Seven union members, including Mansour Hayat Ghaybi; Ebrahim Madadi; Reza Tarazi; Gholamreza Mirza’i; Abbas Najand Kouhi and Ali Zad Hossein, were reportedly summoned to appear before a Revolutionary Court in Tehran on 1 January 2006 to face public order charges but their trial was postponed when other union members protested outside the court.

On 7 January, five drivers were reportedly detained when bus company workers staged another strike but later freed.

Marg Bar Jumhurieh Eslami

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Don't Forget to Educate NON-Iranians!

The last several days have been a wake-up call for me. Last week I published an opinion column in the local paper regarding the need for international help in the freeing of Iran. The intent of the article was two-fold. First, I had never written an article for the print media and I wanted to gain some experience in that field. I quickly realized that one of the main concerns of a newspaper is the amount of words you use to make your point! My article was so long that the editors whittled my master-piece into a fraction of what it was. Fortunately for me, the central idea of what I wanted to say was not lost in all the erasing. Unfortunately for me, many of my strongest arguments ended up on the editor's guillotine and my conclusions seemed rather vague. Second, because of the impending nuclear showdown between the Regime and UN, I wanted to inform the public in the United States regarding the dissident movement and to educate them on the crimes of the Regime against the Iranian people.

Let me say that ever since I wrote the article, I haven't had a moment's peace. Many people that know me or who recognized me from my picture in the article have stopped me in the hallways of my university campus in order to discuss Iran. What is even more pleasing is the amount of support that the students on my campus have given for the Iranian people. However, much of my time talking to those same people was spent convincing them that the Regime in Iran does not represent the Iranian people. For instance, many people who were rightfully disgusted at the behaviour of Ahmadinejad also believed that he truly was elected by the Iranian people. Furthermore, I had to spend a lot of time explaining the history of our country and the reasons for the current inaction of the Iranians against the regime.

A great example is a conversation that I had with a Jewish classmate on the subject of anti-semitism. He was rightfully upset at the news comming from Iran regarding the denial of the holocaust and, more recently, the anti-holocaust cartoon contest that is being sponsored by an Iranian paper. First, I had to calm him down. Then I had to make the point very clear that the views of the Regime are different then the views of Iranians as a whole. I reminded him that although the Regime threatens Israel everyday, the real victims are the Iranian people who are killed and sent to prison every day. In the end, I was able to persuade him and to direct his anger at the Regime and not Iranians as a whole. The conversation that I had with my Jewish classmate didn't just happen once. It happened many times and was repeated over and over again like a broken record with different people. This has woken me up tremendously

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, it is not enough to focus your attention on the Iranian diaspora. The Iranian people don't need convincing. What we need to do, now more then ever, is to educate those in the west about the plight of the Iranians. We need to make sure that they distinguish between Iranians and the cruel and corrupt Regime that rules over them. As many people in the dissident movement have come to realise, we need the support of the international community if we are going to topple this Regime. We won't have that support if the same people we are relying on can't tell the difference between US and THEM. It seems that our education has to start at home.

From now on, I am going to engage my fellow students and anybody else who will talk to me so that I can bring them on my side. Those of you who live in North America and Western Europe should do the same. You will be amazed and shocked to find just how little the people around you know about you and your cause - even those same people you talk to every day. If we can convince the average citizens of the world that this Regime does not represent the Iranian people, we will have an easier time convincing the legislatures of the world to support us in our fight. Remember!! The governments of real democratic countries actually represent the views of their constituents.

I hope to see all of you on the streets of Iran.

Long Live Iran.
Marg bar Jumhurieh Eslami!

Ruzbeh Hosseini

Sunday, February 05, 2006

The Time for Negotiations is Over. Regime Change is the Only Solution.

To the leaders of the free world and all freedom loving people!

We have less than one year to bring about a regime change in Iran, achieve our goal of a revolution, and to replace the Islamic Regime of Iran (IRI) with a free and democratic Iran. This is a goal that can only be realized at the hands of the Iranian People. We have selected the tentative timeline of one year because anything longer then that may lead to a military attack by the international community against Iran. This is the last chance.

Now that Ahmadinejad leads Iran, there is no ambiguity about where Islamic Republic stands. Ahmadinejad has stated on numerous occasions that he would like to wipe Israel off the map. We believe his real goal is to erase Iran off the world map and to destroy the history, culture, and civilization that has been created by the Iranian people for centuries. Mr. Ahmadinejad, with his anti-Iranian background, has no regard for the well being of Iran or the Iranian People. By making such comments about Israel the real goal of the Islamic Republic is to raise the wrath of the International Community and to cause a disastrous attack against Iran. Ever since the Revolution, the Islamic Republic has done everything in its power to diminish the Iranian history and culture and they have undermined everything Iran stands for in order to promote and expand radical Islam.

We believe the International Community’s interests and safety are in danger as well. At this moment we stand at a cross roads. The IRI is extremely close to acquiring nuclear weapons. This combined with possible exportation of such technology by IRI will put the entire world in danger. There is a difference between the Islamic Republic acquiring nuclear technology and Iran aquiring the samw with a democratic regime that will provide verifiable and accountable infrastructure.

As we have seen, jets can be converted into flying missiles with suicide squads in the cockpits. The Islamic Republic’s access to nuclear technology could also be converted into dirty bombs and be available to terrorist organizations that will use this technology for their final confrontation with the West. We believe referring the Islamic Republic to the United Nations for possible economic, military, or political sanctions will not work and neither will Russia's joint uranium-enrichment offer nor threats of air raids against Iran's nuclear installations work because this regime is determined to hold the world hostage by its nuclear ambitions. We believe the Islamic Republic should be dealt with decisively.

For the past five years the Marze Por Gohar Party has been active and working towards a democratic Iran. We have been completely independent throughout this time and have not accepted help from any governmental/non-governmental organizations. After great deliberation, however, we have come to the conclusion that these are extremely dangerous and critical times. The reality is that if we want to change this regime through the Iranian people we will need the help of all freedom loving Iranians as well as the International Community. At this point it is not just Iran and Iranians that face a major threat; it is the entire International Community. Even though the Iranian People listen carefully to the leaders of the free world, and although the moral support to the Iranian people will play a major role in their initiative for a regime change, the International Community needs to take CONCRETE steps and help the democratic movements who can and will bring genuine regime change to Iran.

We are asking for help from the Iranian people as well as the International Community so that we can achieve our goal of a regime change in Iran and establish a Secular Republic. Those who will come forward and help the Iranian people will be the true and natural allies of the Iranian people in the future. Let us not pass the one year time line because at that time it might be too late…

The Marze Por Gohar Party is forewarning the International Community that a regime change will be on behalf of everyone. It is important to consider that any military attack against Iran will only cause the Iranians to consider all options in order to defend their motherland. The only real solution is a regime change and we have the ability to make that happen. This is the time for allies of the free world to help the Iranian people in their quest for a free democratic Iran.

Long Live Iran

Down with the Islamic Republic

Marze Por Gohar Party, Iranians for a secular republic.

Friday, February 03, 2006

In Support of Bus Drivers in Iran

Labor unrest has increased in the past week as bus drivers in Tehran have chosen to strike in order to demand the recognition of their trade union activities as well as the freedom of their union leader Mr. Mansour Ossanlu. Mr. Ossanlu who is the director of the Union of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs of Bus Company was arrested on December 22, 2005. Human Rights Watch reports that he is currently being held in cell #209 of the notorious Evin Prison, without access to family, legal counsel, or medical attention.

It is also reported that he is in need of urgent medical attention due to possible torture.

The bus drivers planned a strike on January 28, 2006 to protest the illegal detention of Mr. Ossanlu. When hearing about the possible strike, government officials cracked down by arresting and detaining hundreds of workers. Government forces also raided the home of another well known union member Mr. Yaghub Salimi and detained his wife and two children. According to Human Rights Watch Mr. Salimi has stated that both his wife and children were beaten at the hands of the security forces. The family members were released once Mr. Salimi presented himself to the police. Without regard to the crack down hundreds of bus drivers and their family members joined the protests on January 28th 2006 and were arrested.

It is estimated that about 500 bus drivers are currently detained in the Evin Prison. The bus drivers have planned another strike for Friday February 4th , 2006 to protest the brutal conditions they face under the Islamic Regime.

There has been great support by the international community for the Iranian workers. In his State of the Union Address, George Bush expressed support for the workers and their right to collective bargaining, including the right to strike. On February 2, 2006 a protest was organized in Canada in front of the Iranian Embassy in Ottawa in support of the Iranian workers. The protest was attended by Canadian Labor Congress Executive Vice President Barbara Byers as well as a number of Iranian opposition groups including a Marze Por Gohar member.

We condemn the extreme human rights violations being committed against the workers as well as their families. We stand in solidarity with our compatriots in Iran and support their right for freedom of speech and association, as well as the right to strike for better working conditions. We condemn the gross human rights violations committed by the Islamic Regime and demand the immediate and unconditional release of Mr. Ossanlu as well as all other workers.

Down with the Islamic Republic

Long Live Iran

Compiled by Human Rights Council of the Marze Por Gohar Party.

Pan-Arabism's Legacy

By: Dr. Kaveh Farrokh

Few Iranians (or westerners) have heard of Pan-Arab nationalists such as Satia Al-Husri, Sami Shawkat, Michel Aflaq or Khairallah Tulfah. Their version of Arab nationalism is as anti-Western as it is anti-Persian. The philosophies of these men have done much to inspire generations of Arab leaders such as Gamal Abdel Nasser, who passionately advocated the changing of the Persian Gulf to "Arab Gulf", or Saddam Hussein, who defined his Arabism by the extent of his brutality against Iranians (Kurds, Persians, etc.).

Before we engage in this relatively long discussion of pan-Arabism and Arab chauvinism, let us (Iranians) remind ourselves, that we too have our faults and are not perfect. In fact, I have always found the attitudes of a number of Iranians against Arabs embarrassing and unfair. Nevertheless, I also find the hostile anti-Iranian attitudes and actions of the pan-Arabists shocking (you will read some of these in this commentary). As you read this article, please balance your feelings with how many of us Iranians are also embarresingly chauvinist, with cultural expressions such as "uncouth Arab" or "Lizard eaters". Undoubtedly, Iranians of all stripes are offended at the "Arab Gulf" scandal, not to mention pan-Arabist attempts at fomenting Arab racism against Iranians. A powerful distinction must be made between people who project ignorance and hatred, versus Arabs as a whole, who, in my opinion (and by personal experience), are kind, compassionate, intelligent, and resourceful.

To understand the pan-Arabists, it is necessary to briefly sketch the history and origins of this movement and how this mindset remains a danger to international peace and stability. Al-Husri, along with other pan-Arab thinkers such as Michel Aflaq, helped forge the basis of the modern pan-Arabist identity of the 20th century. Unfortunately, as with other chauvinist philosophies such as Nazism, pan-Turkism, Persian chauvinism, Nordicism, pan-Arabist thinking leads inevitably to violence and confrontation, in this case against the Western and Iranian worlds.

Osama Bin Laden is in fact the latest product of such pan-Arabism. The only difference between Bin Laden and previous pan-Arabists such as Gamal Abdel Nasser or Saddam Hussein is that he overtly perverts the spiritualism of the Islamic religion, to further aggrandize his vision of pan-Arabist imperialism.

At the popular level, many Arabs continue to appreciate and respect the Iranians for their contributions to Arab and wider Islamic civilization. These same Arabs are continually distressed by the anti-Persian rhetoric of the pan-Arabists. A perfect example of this are e-mails from Arab countries condemning the recent use of the term "Arab Gulf" by National Geographic. Note two examples cited below by the local Iranian Payvand newspaper in Vancouver (Vol.11, Issue 667, Friday, Dec.3, 2004):

"I am an Arab from UAE, my dad as well as my grandfather still call it Khalij Al-Farsi which means Persian Gulf…why do some people want us and Iranians to be enemies forever?"

"I am an Arab from Kuwait. I agree that the Persian Gulf should remain Persian (Parsi)."

Pan-Arabism is simply defined as the desire to forge a single Arabian super state. The movement has its roots in the Arab revolt against Ottoman Turkish rule in World War One. British intelligence agents, personified in Thomas Edward Lawrence (1888-1935) "Lawrence of Arabia" or "Al-Lawrence" (see photo), excited the Arabs against the Turks, with promises of an Arab superstate stretching from the Persian Gulf to the Suez Canal (and beyond…). The Arab revolt was not anti-Persian, it was, for all intents and purposes, an independence movement against Ottoman Turkish rule.

The pan-Arab revolt was first proclaimed in the Hijaz. Pan-Arabism found its second home in Damascus, Syria. It was in Damascus that Turkish rule dramatically ended on October, 3, 1918, when victorious Arab warriors swept into this ancient city. The Arabs were to be sorely disappointed. Having used (or tricked?) the Arabs, the British and the French simply carved up the ex-Ottoman Empire's Arab possessions into a series of artificial states such as Syria and Lebanon (under French supervision), with Palestine, Jordan, and Iraq falling under British jurisdiction. Faisal, a hero of the Arab revolt, was defeated by the French in Syria (Battle of Maysalun), but was recompensed by the British, who installed him as king in the newly formed state of Iraq. The birth of "modern" Arab nationalism, is to be found in the aftermath of these events, namely the Franco-British creation of separate Arabian states. The Arabs felt used and cheated by the west, a sense of anger that has pervaded their consciousness for a period close to 90 years.

By 1932, Iraq had been recognized as an independent state by the League of Nations; Syria, Palestine and Lebanon however, remained under French rule until the 1940s. Men such as Michel Aflaq (discussed later in this commentary), directly experienced the effects of French rule.

It was in Baghdad, Iraq where the first Arab nationalists, mainly of Palestinian and Syrian descent, formed the basis of their philosophy. Prominent figures are individuals such as Haj Amin Al-Husayni (the Mufti of Jerusalem), and Syrian nationalists such as Shukri al-Quwatli and Jamil Mardam. All had been exiled because of their desire to overthrow British and French rule. Rashid Ali, a native Iraqi, is well known by the Arabs for his pro-German coup in 1941 with hopes of driving out the British. In Syria, ideologues such as Michel Aflaq (a Christian) and Salah al-Din al-Bitar laid the basis of the present day Baath movements.

What is of special consequence to Iranians is the type of individuals Faisal decided to install in the new Iraqi educational and political systems. Satia Al-Husri was bought to Iraq in 1921. He first served as advisor to the Ministry of Education; he then became Director General of Education and eventually became the Dean of the Law College. Husri quickly ushered in scores of fellow Palestinian and Syrian educators and these people helped shape the Iraqi education system. These individuals formed the nucleus and genesis of true pan-Arabism, and unfortunately, ushered in the basis of anti-Iranian thinking in mainstream Arab education and mass media.

Anti-Persian thinking can be seen in one of the father's of pan-Arabism, the aforementioned Satia Al-Husri. Of special interest is one of Husri's works entitled "Iranian Teachers who caused Us (Arabs) Big Problems". His campaigns against schools suspected of being positive towards Persia are well documented. One dramatic example is found in the 1920s when the Iraqi Ministry of Education ordered Husri to appoint Muhammad Al-Jawahiri as a teacher in a Baghdad school. A short excerpt of Husri's interview with the teacher is revealing (see Samir El-Khalil's Republic of Fear, New York: Pantheon Books, 1989, p.153-154):

Husri: First, I want to know your nationality.
Jawahiri: I am an Iranian.
Husri: In that case we cannot appoint you.

Husri was overruled by the Iraqi ministry and Jawahiri was appointed. Jawahiri was in fact an Arab, however like many Arabs of his day and the present, Jawahiri saw no reason to follow Husri's bigoted anti-Iranian racialism.

It is interesting that Husri, though claimed as a Syrian-Arab, was actually raised as a Turk in a Turkish household; he struggled to learn spoken and written Arabic. It would seem that Mr. Husri may have suffered from an identity or inferiority complex and like many such individuals in history (e.g. Adolf Hitler) found an outlet for his confused emotions by preaching hate against those of the "other" (i.e. Iranians).

Husri correctly deduced that it was through education, especially children, that the "new morality" of Arabism was to be transmitted. In this endeavor, he achieved a great success. In this mission he was helped by a certain British advisor to the Iraqi Ministry of education by the name of Lionel Smith. Smith seems to have admired Husri's passionate zeal for education, but is on record for stating that many of Husri's "views were wrong". Husri's attitudes against non-Arabs seem to have been adopted by his son Khaldun al-Husri, a nationalist Arab historian who has attempted to minimize the violent destruction of the Assyrian community in Northern Iraq in the 1920s. This is reflected in:

Husri, H. (1974). The Asyyrian affair. The International Journal of Middle East Studies, 5, 161-176, 344-360.

For an account of the Assyrian tragedy consult:

Stafford, R.S. (1935). The Tragedy of the Assyrians. London: Allen & Unwin Ltd.

Satia Al-Husri spawned a whole generation of men who advocated violence. One example is Sami Shawkat who is famous for his 1933 speech "Sina'at al-Mawt" (manufacture of death) in which he rationalizes mass violence and war as the way to achieve Arab aspirations. Tragically, this speech was widely distributed in Arab schools and in Iraq in particular. It is interesting that Shawkat teaches that "force is the soil which sprouts the seeds of truth". Although not widely known, Shawkat was a main force in the organization of the Futuwwa Youth Organization - a movement modeled directly after the Nazi Hitler Youth Movement. The Futuwwa set the pace for future Arab chauvinist movements, such as the B'aath party of Iraq and today's followers of Bin Laden. It is interesting to note that Shawkat's ideas became somewhat too hot to handle, even for the pan-Arabists - Satia Al-Husri later disowned Sami Shawkat.

It is worth noting that Sami Shawkat's brother, Naji, who by 1941 was a member of the Arab committee in Iraq (which had absorbed the Futuwwa), gave Franz von Papen (a high ranking German official of Nazi Germany in 1941) a letter which actually congratulated Hitler for the brutality that he inflicted upon the Jews.

Of far greater significance is the following quote that vividly describes Sami Shawkat's thinking (see again Samir El-Khalil's Republic of Fear, New York: Pantheon Books, 1989, p.177):

"History books that discredit the Arabs should be burned, not excepting the greatest work on the philosophy of history by Ibn Khaldun".

But why Ibn-Khaldun? As a historian, Khaldun (1332-1406 AD) is ranked among the best in history, on par with the earlier Greco-Roman historians such as Plutarch or Xenophon; truly one of the most best scholars produced by the Arabs. To understand why pan-Arabists feel uncomfortable with Ibn Khaldun, one has to read a direct quote from his work, The Muqaddimah Translated by F. Rosenthal (III, pp. 311-15, 271-4 [Arabic]; R.N. Frye (p.91):"

…It is a remarkable fact that, with few exceptions, most Muslim scholars…in the intellectual sciences have been non-Arabs…thus the founders of grammar were Sibawaih and after him, al-Farisi and Az-Zajjaj. All of them were of Persian descent…they invented rules of (Arabic) grammar…great jurists were Persians… only the Persians engaged in the task of preserving knowledge and writing systematic scholarly works. Thus the truth of the statement of the propher becomes apparent, 'If learning were suspended in the highest parts of heaven the Persians would attain it"…The intellectual sciences were also the preserve of the Persians, left alone by the Arabs, who did not cultivate them…as was the case with all crafts…This situation continued in the cities as long as the Persians and Persian countries, Iraq, Khorasan and Transoxiana (modern Central Asia), retained their sedentary culture."

You now see why Mr. Shawkat saw the need to destroy the history of Ibn Khaldun. Arab chauvinists from Gamal Abdel Nasser to today's Bin laden have chosen to pretend that that the Persian intellectual legacy does not exist. It is not an exaggeration to state that Arab nationalists have re-written much of Arab history, especially as it pertains to Persian contributions to Islamic and Arabian civilization. The following observation by Sir Richard Nelson Frye encapsulates the crisis in Arab attitudes towards the Iranians (See R.N. Frye, The Golden Age of Persia, London: Butler & Tanner Ltd., 1989, p.236):"

Arabs no longer understand the role of Iran and the Persian language in the formation of Islamic culture. Perhaps they wish to forget the past, but in so doing they remove the bases of their own spiritual, moral and cultural being…without the heritage of the past and a healthy respect for it…there is little chance for stability and proper growth"

It may argued that one source of the political, economic and technological stagnation so evident in the Arab world at present may stem from what has been taught (and continues to be taught) to Arabs at primary, secondary and post-secondary education.

It should come as no surprise that many Arabs (including high ranking statesmen and highly educated professors) now believe that the following Iranian scholars of the Islamic era to be all Arabs: Zakaria Razi "Rhazes" (860- 923 or 932, born in Rayy, near Tehran), Abu Ali Sina "Avecenna" (980 -1037, born in Afshana, near Bukhara, ancient Samanid Capital), Abu Rayhan Biruni (973 - 1043, born in Khiva, Ancient Khwarazm now modern Afghanistan), Omar Khayyam (1044-1123, born in Nishabur, Khorasan), Mohammad Khwarazmi (d. 844, born in Khiva, Ancient Khwarazm, now in Modern Afghanistan). Not a single one of these scientists hailed from an Arab-speaking region, all were born in what is now Iran or the former realms of Persian speaking world.

This has posed an awkward contradiction for pan- nationalists. Their counter to these facts, are mainly based on two premises:

(a) Men such as Biruni are claimed as Arabs simply because they had the name "Al-" attached to their last names or had Arab/Muslim names such as "Omar". This is tantamount to saying that all great people in history with Christian names such as Chris, Michael, or John have been Jews, simply because their names are Jewish. Following this logic, we then must accept Christopher Columbus (Spain), Michaelangelo (Italy), and Johanes Kepler (Denmark) as Jews. Persia accepted Islam after the 7th century AD, just as Europeans accepted Christianity in great numbers after the 3-4th centuries AD. Simply, put, nationality and religious confession are not the same thing. One does not "become" an Arab simply because one is Muslim, just as one does not "become" Jewish simply because one is Christian. Pan-Arabists have simply stretched the definition of Muslim to conveniently include those non-Arabs whom they view favorably as Arabs.

All of these men (without exception) are simply argued to be the descedants of Arabs who settled in Iran after the Arab conquests. While true that Arab garrisons occupied Persia for approximately 222 years, how and when did these warriors from the tough deserts of Arabia become scholars so quickly? Persia's history and traditions of learning rival those of Greece, India and China, and like them, predates Arab civilization for thousands of years. When the Arabs erupted from their desert homes in Arabia and overthrew the Byzantine-Roman and Sassanian Persian empires, they simply inherited the rich legacy of Rome and Persia. Simply occupying another person's territory does not entitle one to their achievements - in that case Greek scholars such as Democritus (Abdera, Ionia 460 - 370 BC), and Pythagoras(Samos, Ionia 582 - 500 BC) are automatically Persian, simply because Achaemenid Persian garrisons ruled the Ionian Greeks (present Western Turkey) at the time. The best retort to the pan-Arabists is the aforementioned Ibn Khaldun himself, who has made clear, in no uncertain terms, of the mighty contributions that have been made by the Persians.

Many Arab nations, such as Egypt, simply avoid mentioning where the Iranian scholars were born and where they ultimately died. Many Arabs would be surprised to learn that the grave of Ibn Sina (Avicenna) is located in Hamadan, Iran.

To understand the awkwardness (and indeed irrationality) of pan-Arabism (or any form of racialism), one is compelled to also briefly learn about the true founders of the B'aath party; Michel Aflaq and Salah al-Din al-Bitar. Both were born in Damascus; Aflaq was a Greek Orthodox Christian and Bitar a Sunni Muslim. They both experienced the humiliating treatment of their country, Syria, at the hands of the French, especially during the 1925-1926 uprising. The two met as students in the University of Paris in 1929. It is unclear if they actually joined the Arab communist students in Paris at the time, but what is clear is that they formed their party on the basis of pan-Arabism, like the movements that had taken place in neighboring Iraq in the 1920s. Another influential and French (Sorbonne) educated Syrian, was Zaki al-Arsuzi. Al-Arsuzi was especially outspoken in his racism against the local Turks of Syria and especially venomous in his hatred against the Jews. To summarize, the followers of Arsuzi joined up with the Aflaq-Bitar team. Arsuzi himself intensely disliked Aflaq, which explains why he himself never joined in.

As a non-Muslim, Aflaq's interest (see photo at left) was not in the cultivation of a pan-Islamic identity, but in the promotion of pure pan-Arabism in the spirit of what he called "al-ruh al-Arabiyya" (the Arabian spirit). Faith and love for one's race is the cornerstone of pan-Arabism, as it is with any kind of racial chauvinism. That same "Arab spirit" is what Aflaq relates to "the great deeds (of the Arabs) in the past, and can continue to do so in the present". It is interesting that Aflaq also rejected those Arabs influenced or sympathetic to Western culture; exactly as Bin Laden does today.

Michel Aflaq defined Islam only as "a revolutionary Arab movement whose meaning was the renewal of Arabism" (see Khalil, p.198). It would seem that Aflaq, Bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, or the Husri and Shawkat clans have chosen to forget one crucial point: Islam (like all great religions), since its inception, went beyond the moronic and barbaric concept of race worship - Islam, like all of the world's great religions (Zoroastrianism, Christianity, Hinduism, etc) rejects racial self-love in favor of the acceptance of others irrespective of race, ethnicity or color - all of mankind are seen as members of one another (to quote the Persian mystic Jalal-e-Din Rumi). As for Islamic civilization, one can again quote Samir al-Khalil (Republic of Fear, p.199-200):"

Arab ethnic hegemony was terminated under the Abbasids, Arabic culture very quickly metamorphosed into a wider Islamic civilization with the peoples of the fertile Crescent - Persians, Turks, Berbers, and Spaniards as well as Jews and Christians…"

Pan-Arabists such as Bin Laden, have perverted religion to further their own truly nefarious pursuits - one can look to many current white supremacists or religious fundamentalists to see the parallels.

Aflaq went further than Satia Al-Husri in that he clearly outlined the "enemy of the (Arab) nation". This broad encompassing term has entered many Arab educational and popular circles, resulting in a whole generation of individuals believing Iranians to be the "enemy of the Arabs" (Aflaq's article "Us and Our Enemies" is often cited as providing insight into this type of thinking). Fortunately, many Arabs have bravely and courageously rejected this thinking; nevertheless, the impulse of anti-Iranianism has taken root in Arab education and mass media (e.g. the Al-Jazeera TV network).

It was in Saddam Hussein's Iraq where Arab racism attained its most vulgar form, truly on par with the neo-Nazi philosophies of today's white supremacists. A prime example is the tract by Saddam's maternal uncle, Khairallah Tulfah, entitled "Three Whom God Should Not have Created: Persians, Jews and Flies". Tulfah's writings were widely distributed in Iraq during Saddam Hussein's rule. Even more incredible is the following description by Said Aburish (in Saddam Hussein: The Politics of revenge, London: Bloomsbury, 2000, p.123):

"…the (Saddam) government offered 'pure Iraqis' married to anyone with Iranian blood 2500$ reward for anyone divorcing them"

This quote is a chilling reminder of what happened in Nazi Germany in the 1930s (e.g. Nuremburg Rally) and the ensuing Nazi 'racial purity' laws against the Jews. Saddam in fact expelled thousands of people of Persian origin from Iraq in the 1970s, many of whom live in Iran today. Although not generally known, up to a third of Baghdad's population may have been Persian-speaking by the early twentieth century. Decades of sustained anti-Iranian propaganda certainly has had its effect in destroying Iraq's vibrant Persian community. The Kurds, an Iranian people like the Persians, have certainly felt the violent brunt of pan-Arabism. The tragedies of Saddam's gassing policies (i.e. Halabja) and the forceful expulsion of Kurds in favor of Arab settlers in Iraqi Kurdistan is so well known and documented that we need not pontificate further on this issue.

Even as I quoted Aburish's description of Saddam's 'divorce reward' policy, I was personally amazed. The Arabs would be shocked if they learned what 'Iraq' actually means. 'Iraq' is derived from Middle Persian or dialectical Pahlavi; it means 'the lowlands', like the Germanic term "Niederland" for modern day Holland. There is a region in Iran today which shares the same Pahlavi root as 'Iraq' - modern day Arak. The term 'Baghdad' is also of Iranian origin - "Boghu" (God) + "dad" (provided by, given by, bestowed by) - "Baghdad" is rough Iranian equivalent of the term "Godiva". The remains of the capital of the Sassanian Empire, Ctesiphon, stand only 40 kilometers from modern Baghdad. Iranians themselves may be shocked to learn that the term "Tehran" is not of Aryan origin - this was an Assyrian settlement (before the Aryans came to dominate the Iranian plateau); the Assyrian term "Taharan" is roughly translated as "The place to which I shall return". Of all Arab countries, Iraq has the strongest Persian legacy, as highlighted by this reference by Fred Halliday (Arabs and Persians - from Cahiers d'etudes sur la Mediterranee Orientale et le monde Turco-Iranien, no.22, July-December, 1996):

"…Iraq, open for centuries to Iranian influence, not least in the period of the Persian influenced Abbassid Empire, the very culture of the Arab speakers is suffused with Iranian influence. One only has to listen to spoken Iraqi, or look at the turquoise domes of the mosques of Iraqi cities, to see how strong the Iranian influence is…while Kurds who, by language and culture, fall very much within the Iranian cultural sphere".

Negative portrayals of Iranians continue to appear today in Arab media and education: the recent caricature portrayal of Iranians by the Al-Jazeera Television network is one recent example that is truly lamentable. Arabs have complained (with justification) that they are portrayed negatively in western press, media and education, yet so many in the Arab world are unaware of the Husri-Shawkat-Aflaq legacy of racism within their own ranks.

Incredible as it may seem, Pan-Arabism's anti-Persian attitude has found unexpected allies in the western world: a handful of western academics and politicians propelled by political, economic and even romantic interests.

It was Richard Farmer in his book "A History of Arabian Music to the XIIIth Century" (London: Luzac Oriental, first published in 1929, reprinted in 1967, 1994, and 1996), who began to instill doubt on the Iranian nationality of the men of sciences cited above (e.g. Razi). The outright attack on Iran and its contributions to the Arabs is exemplified by Montgomery Watt (The majesty that was Islam: the Islamic world, 661-1100, New York, Praeger, 1974) who bluntly downplays Persian contributions as outright irrelevant. Watt's denial and/or downplaying of any Persian heritage in Arab and wider Islamic civilization would have made Shawkat himself proud indeed.

The term "Arab Gulf" neatly encapsulates the history of western (mainly British) economic interests. It was Sir Charles Belgrave who first invented the term "Arab Gulf" and attempted to change the name of the Persian Gulf. Belgrave was the British advisor to the Arab leadership of Bahrain in the 1930s. Belgrave proposed his "Arabian Gulf" invention to the British Foreign and Colonial offices in London, where the project was quietly dropped. Belgrave however had succeeded in a way; he had set the stage for future Iranian and Arab friction.

The British themselves soon began to see the benefits of propagating the "Arab Gulf" project, especially after Dr. Mohammad Mossadegh took control of Iran's oil industry from the British in the 1951. Furious at this perceived outrage, Roderic Owen (see photo), a British secret agent linked to British Petroleum (originally Anglo-Iranian Oil Company) saw the potential of using "Arab Gulf" as a weapon against Iran. Owen eventually published and promoted a book called "The Golden Bubble of the Arabian Gulf: A Documentary" (London: Collins, 1957). The British were not going to be ejected from the Persian Gulf without a fight - and what better way than the famous "Parthian shot" of attacking the heritage, history and civilizational legacy of Persia herself. For an excellent synopis of the attack on the name of the Persian Gulf, please refer to Mahan Abedin's article:


Owen's success as a British secret agent is outmatched only by Ian Fleming's James Bond 007. His genius set the stage for the full ignition of the Arabs against Iran, allowing the British to avoid direct confrontation. Significantly, Owen had provided fresh ammunition to a new generation of post Al-Husri Arab chauvinists, now coincidentally coming to the fore in the 1950s.

Western Arabism is basically a combination of political-economic interests (briefly addressed below) and raw admiration of the Arab Bedouin. The latter (admiration of the Arab Bedouin) deserves some mention. As noted by Barrie Pitt in History of World War One (edited by A.J.P. Taylor, London: Octopus Books, 1974, p.136):

"Englishmen…appreciated the Arabs' virtues…have overlooked their weaknesses…when subjected to the persuasive charm of the Bedouin…".

This "persuasive charm" (along with petro-dollars) has been able to overpower a number of western (mainly English-speaking) academics, politicians and businessmen. To obtain an understanding into the mindsets of such men as Sir Charles Belgrave, Roderic Owen, or Montgomery Watt consult:

McLoughlin, L. (2002). In a Sea of Knowledge: The British Arabists in the Twentieth Century. Reading, UK : Ithaca Press.

Kaplan, R. D. (1995). The Arabists: The Romance of an American Elite. New York: The Free Press, A Division of Simon & Schuster Inc.

Many well-intentioned but naïve westerners often selectively and exclusively praise the Arabs for their contributions to medicine, the sciences and mathematics. The Arabs certainly are on par with all the great peoples of history, and their scientists such as Al-Heitham, or scientific contributions in areas such as Ophthamalogy certainly cannot be dismissed. Nevertheless, the extent of their contributions are being highly exaggerated by certain Arab chauvinists and their western Arabist sympathizers with political, economic and romantic agendas.

From the western viewpoint, this error can be traced to the false fallacy of defining all Muslims as Arabs, a problem that began during the Arab occupation in Spain. The terms "Arab science" or "Arab soap" gained currency among the Western Europeans of the period. Europeans then (and today) identified "Arab" and "Muslim" as synonomous. "Muslim" is no more a "race" than is "Christian". No one speaks of "Christians" as an "ethnic group". This false and simplistic logic in the western world has resulted in the identification of Iranians as Arabs by current western education, popular media and press.

This logic can be applied to Catholic Christians, with silly results: as Filipinos are Catholic then they must be Italians! Many Westerners have fallen victim to this dangerously false line of logic as it pertains to Iranians, with tragic academic results.

An example of this amateur scholarship is evidenced in the Newsweek magazine articles by Fareed Zakaria (see photo) "Why Do They Hate Us?" (October 15, 2001) and "How to save the Arab world" (Dec. 24, 2001). Zakaria inaccurately (or perhaps deliberately) portrays Iranians as Arabs by depicting Iran as a member of the Arab world (depicted on map of p.37 of October 15, 2001 Newsweek article). He also states that "Arabs…invented algebra" (October 15, 2001, p.29). To my knowledge, Newsweek has never replied to, apologized or retracted from Mr. Zakaria's statements.

It is true that Islam is the predominant religion of Iran, but that does not make it an "Arab" country. By "Arabs", Mr. Zakaria may be referring to general facets of "Islamic" culture; however this would include other non-Arab Muslims such as Che-Chens, Turks, Bosnians, Pakistanis, Filipnio Huks, or the Sinkiang Turks of Northwest China. Islam is a multi-cultural society that includes many races and distinct cultures. The use of the term "Arab" is analogous to our previous example of Filipinos being "Italian" simply because they are Roman Catholic. With this failure at distinguishing religion from ethnicity, Mr. Zakaria has set the standard of academic mediocrity. It is a mystery as to (a) why he is so favored by the American media (he is regularly invited to television as an "expert") ( why he has received awards for his misleading and simplistic writings on the Near East.

One should not be surprised as to why over 80 percent of North Americans (and a growing number of Europeans) believe Iranians to be Arabs (see Jack Saheen's "The TV Arab", Bowling Green Press, 1982). The recent row over the use by National Geographic of the invented term "Arab Gulf" in parallel with the historical and legal "Persian Gulf" is simply another example of substandard (and politically motivated?) scholarship.

The "Arab Gulf" gospel was picked up quickly in Egypt by Eli Cohen, a Syrian Jew in league with the B'aath party. Cohen was later executed in Syria on charges of being an Israeli spy.

It was Gamal Abdel Nasser however, the enigmatic pan-Arab nationalist leader from Egypt, who truly popularized Belgrave-Owen's "Arabian Gulf" to the Arab masses in the 1950s. His fiery rhetoric and emotional calls for Arab unity envisaging confrontation with Iran, found a largely receptive audience, thanks to a generation of Arabs exposed to the Al-Husri-Shawkat school of education. The tiny Sheikdoms of the Persian Gulf gleefully chimed in with Nasser, bankrolling the Belgrave-Owen project with vast sums of petrodollars. The aim was to not only change the name of the Persian Gulf, but to change world history as it applied to Persia. The "Arabization" of Persian contributions on the world stage was in full swing by the 1960s and 1970s.

Politics makes strange bedfellows indeed: British oil imperialism and pan-Arabism were united in their quest to diminish and ultimately marginalize Persia's legacy and heritage in world history. This is exemplified by the BBC's adoption of the term "The Gulf", truly one of the pan-Arabists' greatest successes. Other British media have followed suit, and thanks to the standard set by the BBC for its "impartiality", other European and North American media outlets have followed suit.

Pan-Arabism and Nasser's prestige greatly suffered however, after the Israeli armed forces crushed Arab military might in 6 days in 1967. The mantle of pan-Arabism was adopted by the B'aath regime of Iraq in 1968, which saw Saddam Hussein, rise to full power by 1979. The B'aath regime struck a very close alliance with Abu Dhabi in order to provide international legitimacy to Belgrave-Owen's "Arabian Gulf".

The Iraqi-Abu Dhabi axis proved successful. A series of fabricated academic conferences and dubious institutions (e.g. Centre for Arab Gulf Studies in Basra) were established to project pan-Arabism into western academic and political circles. With respect to the latter, the pan-Arabs have had a powerful and receptive lobby in the west. The aforementioned British Petroleum and other companies such as Aramco, Llyods Shipping and Shell simply could not resist the prospect of billions of petrodollars being pumped into their coffers. Acceptance of the Belgrave-Owen "Arab Gulf" in financial and political transactions is simply "good business".

The fact that western (mainly English) academics are vigorously supporting and promoting the Owen-Belgrave "Arab Gulf" project cannot be mere coincidence. In fact, a plethora of books, especially from the 1980s onwards, have greatly aided the cause of pan-Arab nationalists such as Bin laden. Note just three of such texts that have been published in England, Europe and North America since the publication of Owen's book in 1957:

Pridham, B.R. (1985).The Arab Gulf and the West. Published in London: Croom Helm and Centre for Arab Gulf Studies, University of Exeter.

Potts, D.T. (1991). The Arabian Gulf in Antiquity: Volume I: From Prehistory to the Fall of the Achaemenid Empire. Oxford University Press.

Rice, M. (1994). The archaeology of the Arabian Gulf, c. 5000-323 BC. London ; New York : Routledge, 1994.

Olsen, P.R. (2002). Music in Bahrain: traditional music of the Arabian Gulf. Moesgaard: Jutland Archaeological Society : Moesgaard Museum ; Bahrain : Ministry of Information.

These titles are oxymoronic in academic, historical and legal terms. Ever since recorded history the Greeks have referred to the waterway as "Sinus Persicus", followed by the Romans (Aquarios Persico). Historical archives, maps and historians, including Arabs, have recognized the waterway as such (see George F. Hourani, Arab Seafaring, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, p.85):

Refer also to the Iranian Studies Group at MIT for a recent compendium of maps that indicate the Persian Gulf as the name for that body of water: (http://stuff.mit.edu/afs/athena.mit.edu/activity/i/isg/).

If Fareed Zakaria has set the standard of academic mediocrity, he at least has the excuse of not being competently educated. What is hard to comprehend is that why highly educated professors such as Pridham, Potts, Rice or Olson have themselves been seduced into academic mediocrity? More seriously, are the distinguished professors aware of how much they have aided the cause of the likes of Sami Shawkat, Khairallah Tulfah or Mr. Bin Laden?

The only reference to "Arab Gulf" is found with respect to the Red Sea of antiquity (e.g see Herodotus' "Histories", p. Penguin Books). It is interesting that neither Belgrave nor Owen made the proposal to change the name of the Red Sea to its former name, Arab Gulf. This is because neither Belgrave nor Owen were interested in scholarship; their aims were political and economic. Despite Arab attempts (and their western political and academic protégés), the United Nations has twice recognized the legality of the term "Persian Gulf" (UNAD 311/March 5, 1971 and UNLA 45.8.2 © on August 10, 1984). It is significant that all Arab countries (including Iraq, Egypt and Abu Dhabi) have signed both of these documents.

The above mentioned UN resolutions, or historical references are simply ignored by Arab universities. Note the link below pertaining to the University of Sharjah's College of Arts & Science course description for "History of the Arabian Gulf (course code: 0203102)":


One can only guess at what is being taught in these classrooms. These are people who will represent future Arab leaders in business, education and politics.

The ultimate tragedy of Arab chauvinism is indeed expressed by the attack of Saddam Hussein against Iran in September, 22, 1980, 47 years after Sami Shawkat's "Sina'at al-Mawt" (manufacture of death) speech.

On September 22, 1980, Pan-Arabism graduated from hate literature to outright violence: the Iraqis invaded Iran. Just as the Iraqi tanks were rolling into Iran, King Khalid of Saudi Arabia (1975-1982) (see photo) stated publicly to Saddam to "crush the stupid Persians". It is sad that so much of the world at the time, threw its support for the Saddam regime and its genocidal policies. Note the following excerpt by Eric Margolis in the Toronto Sun (Sunday, January, 19, 2004):

"Britain, the U.S., Kuwait and Saudi Arabia convinced Iraq to invade Iran, then covertly supplied Saddam with money, arms, intelligence, and advisers...Italy, Germany, France, South Africa, Belgium, Yugoslavia, Brazil, Chile and the USSR all aided Saddam's war effort against Iran, which was even more a victim of naked aggression than was Kuwait in 1991".

The Saddam regime believed that they would win the war in less than 2 weeks. Instead of a lighting victory, the Iraqis and the Arab world became bogged down for eight years in a wasteful, useless and inconclusive war against Iran. This was a war with no winner, millions of lives were lost and billions of dollars worth of damage was inflicted upon the national infrastructures of Iran and Iraq. Arab volunteers streamed from the entire Arab world to fight against what Saddam Hussein called the "fire worshipping Magi of Persia" (in reference to Iran's Zoroastrian past). Arab volunteers included Sudanese, Egyptians, Morrocans, Syrians, Jordanians, Yemenis, Algerians, Lebanese and Palestenians. Note in the photograph below, the diverse range of Arab nationalities and races in Iraqi service, seen here captured by the Iranian army in February, 1984:

Never in modern Arab history have the Arabs shown such long-term zeal, persistence, enthusiasm and unity against a common foe. It is fortunate for the western world and Israel that the Arabs have never been as persistently unified against them as they have been against Iran.

The above point must be balanced with a sobering fact. Many of the "volunteers" were uneducated and poverty-stricken in their home countries and were given financial stipends to fight the Iranians. Many others were guest workers to Iraq (i.e. Egyptian farmers) who were forcibly pressed into service for Saddam. Morale and fighting qualities were generally very low, and many of these men would simply surrender to Iranian forces. Many of Iraq's native troops (especially Shiites, Kurds and Assyrians) also deserted regularly, not having the desire to fight against a neighboring nation against which they had no animosity.

Saddam's invasion also aimed at permanently severing Iran's Khuzistan's province from Iran. Pan-Arabists have long claimed Iran's southwest Khuzistan region as a "lost" Arab province, requiring "liberation" from the "racist Persians". It is true that Iran's multi-ethnic mosaic includes Arabs in Khuzistan as well as the Persian Gulf coast. Nevertheless, Khuzistan has been Iranian since the days of the founding of the Medes and the Persians. This is the region of ancient Elam (an Elamo-Dravidian people) and was also known as Persis by the Greeks. Arab migrations into southwest Persia can be traced to the time of Shapur II (309-379 AD).

The Sassanians settled many Arabs inside Iran as a buffer against other marauding Arabs of the Arabian deserts. The Lakhmid Arabs were very loyal to the crown of Persia, and proved excellent warriors for the Sassanian army - a prime example is their role in support of Sassanian general Azarethes' Savaran (elite cavalry) at Callinicum in 531. At Callinicum, the Lakhmid leader Al-Mundhir supported the Savaran's left wing, an action which helped defeat the Romano-Byzantine general Belisarius - in AD. Khuzistanis can be described in a variety of ways: Arab speaking Iranians, Iranisized Arabs, Iranian-Arabs, etc. The fact remains that Khuzistan has been an integral part of Persia since antiquity.

Pan-Arabist hopes were dashed when the Arabs of Khuzistan resisted Saddam Hussein's invasion of Iran in 1980; very few (reportedly less than 500) joined Saddam's men. Although not known by many Iranians, the Arabs of Khuzistan fought very bravely for Iran. Saddam believed (as he still does today) that the Khuzistani Arabs would rise up and take over the cities themselves on behalf of Mr. Saddam's army. Note the following quote by Dilip Hiro (The Longest War: The Iran-Iraq Military Conflict, London, Paladin Books, 1990, p.43):

"Patriotism engulfed the (Iranian) military…and civilians - including the Khuzistani Arabs…instead of being welcomed as liberators by Khuzistani Arabs - the majority community in Khorramshahr and Abadan - as the Iraqi forces had been led to believe, the y found themselves facing spirited resistance."

To the dismay of the pan-Arabists, the Khuzistani Arabs fought against Saddam from the start of the invasion, giving the Iranian army precious time to re-organize and counterattack. It is worth noting that only 200 of the defenders of the city of Khorramshahr were professional soldiers - the rest were locals of the city - many of them local Arabs. Together with the Iranian army personnel, they literally fought to the last man. The Khuzistan Arabs, like their Lakhmid ancestors at Callinicum, remained faithful to their nation.

It was these same Khuzistani Arabs who again fought alongside the Iranian army when the city of Khorramshahr was liberated from Saddam's occupation in 1981. Unfazed by this failure (and rejection from the Khuzistanis), the pan-Arabists continue to advocate for the separation of Khuzistan from the rest of Iran (see http://www.alahwaz.com).

The tragedy of the Iran-Iraq war can be partly attributed to the Al-Husri and Sami Shawkat education philosophies dating to the 1920-1940s - these have done much to found Arab animosity against Iran. The Belgrave-Owen "Arab Gulf" invention (and their disciples such as Pridham, Rice or Olson) is undoubtedly another factor that continues to inflame Arab feelings against Persia. In my humble opinion, Belgrave and Owen are also responsible for the catastrophic loss of life and property suffered by both sides in the Iran-Iraq war. It is also tragic that the western world failed to see the dangers of pan-Arabism espoused by Saddam Hussein during that war, especially when he repeatedly used poison gas against Iranian troops and civilian centers, as well as his own helpless Kurdish Iraqi population. Instead as noted by the aforementioned Margolis (Sunday, January, 19, 2004):

"Who supplied "Chemical Ali" (Saddam's cousin Al-Majid) with his mustard and nerve gas? Why, the West, of course. In late 1990, I discovered four British technicians in Baghdad who told me they had been "seconded" to Iraq by Britain's ministry of defense and MI6 intelligence to make chemical and biological weapons, including anthrax, Q-fever and plague, at a secret laboratory at Salman Pak".

To this day, few speak of the atrocities committed on Iranian civilians by Saddam's troops. Atrocities against Iraqi civilians or Kuwaitis are only mentioned due to current political expediency. Sixteen years after the Iran-Iraq war, Iranians must speak out.

The most recent individual to espouse the Al-Husri version of anti-Persianism is Osama Bin laden, a man who openly despises Iran and Persian culture. Before the Taliban were ejected from power by the US following the tragedy of 9/11, Bin laden practically ruled Afghanistan as his personal caliphate where he made vigorous efforts to stamp out Persian culture (i.e. Persian language, music, the Nowruz, etc.). This attitude has been adopted by many of Bin Laden's non-Arab followers in Pakistan where his supporters frequently shout "Death to Iran" during their regular anti-western rallies. Many in the western world misconceive Mr. Bin laden as a religious fanatic; he is in fact a racist in the tradition of Mr. Satia Al-Husri, Sami Shawkat and Khairallah Tulfah. His less than exemplary treatment of Persian speakers in Afghanistan certainly speaks for itself.

Having observed the dangers of pan-Arab chauvinism, let us not forget the dangers of racist attitudes among Iranians. It is unfortunate that a growing number of Iranians, incensed by over 60 years of pan-Arabist rhetoric and blatant racism, have resorted to their own version of anti-Arab chauvinism. Bigotry is a human trait and has the potential to unfold within any human being (myself included) and must be vigorously crushed.

These attitudes ignore one very important fact: many of today's Arabs virulently oppose Arab chauvinism. These include the aforementioned Samir el-Khalil as well the late George Hourani. Samir el-Khalil has attacked pan-Arab chauvinism and reminds Arabs of the legacy of Persia in their culture as well as in Islam. Khalil was for years a hunted man by the Saddam Hussein regime. The late Arab scholar, George Hourani, not only appreciated the Iranians for their role in helping the Arabs form their civilization, but was rigorous against politically motivated attempts to re-name the Persian Gulf as the "Arab Gulf". Many Iraqis have dismantled Saddam's anti-Iran propaganda props from their streets and monuments after the US invasion - this was done in order to destroy Saddam's legacy of hate against Persia. This must be applauded by the Iranians.

Calm discourse and education are the best weapons - the pen is truly mightier than the sword. The Arab world and Iran have a great deal to offer each other - not to mention Turkey, a nation with strong ties to Iran, culturally and ethnically. No matter how hard the disciples of Satia al-Husri, Sami Shawkat, Sir Charles Belgrave or Roderick Owen may try, a calm examination of historical archives (and common sense) will confirm the legitimacy of Persia's past (like that of Greece, Rome, India, Europe, the Arabs, the Turks and China) and the importance of appreciating her.


Kaveh Farrokh: Manuvera@aol.com