Iranian elections: Another milestone in reformist advance

By Farhang Jahanpour

Since the latest Iranian elections held on 26th February 2016 for the 290-seat parliament (Majles) and the 88-member Assembly of Experts there have been many negative comments about the election results from the usual suspects.

Some people who are fundamentally hostile to Iran, criticize everything that Iran does, regardless of outcome. When the leading Iranian reformist candidate Mohammad Khatami won a landslide election in 1997 and initiated a series of important reforms at home and advocated a dialog of civilizations and even made a remarkable offer to the United States to reach a grand bargain over all the issues of contention, some pro-Israeli groups dismissed him, saying that he had no power.

However, when President Mahmud Ahmadinezhad made a number of outrageous comments, not only were his statements taken out of context and exaggerated, it was said that he posed an existential threat to Israel and the West.

Some people are at least honest about their real motives. During the controversial election in 2009 when Ahmadinezhad was declared the winner over the reformist candidate Mir-Hoseyn Moussavi, some American neoconservatives and Israeli commentators openly said that they preferred Ahmadinezhad because they could demonize him more easily.

“Just because Moussavi is called a moderate or a reformist doesn’t mean he’s a nice guy. After all he was approved by the Islamic leadership,” said Ephraim Inbar, director of the Begin Sadat Center at Bar Ilan University. “If we have Ahmadinejad, we know where we stand. If we have Moussavi we have a serpent with a nice image.” The then Mossad Chief, Meir Dagan, told a panel of Israeli lawmakers: “If the reformist candidate Moussavi had won, Israel would have had a more serious problem, because it would need to explain to the world the danger of the Iranian threat.”

Recently, the staunchly anti-Iranian lobby, The Israel Project (TIP), produced a promotional video showing the leader of the terrorist group, the Mojahedin-e Khalq, denouncing the latest Iranian elections. This is despite the fact that before some right-wing pro-Israeli groups had decided to promote this terrorist group as a popular opposition group, in 2011 TIP director Josh Block had described the group as a terrorist organization. (1) Nevertheless, now his organization calls upon the same group to denounce the Iranian elections.

However, despite all this negative propaganda, the results of the latest Iranian elections exceeded all expectations. The elections set another milestone in the desire of the Iranian people for change and reform following the 2013 presidential election that resulted in the victory of the centrist candidate Hassan Rouhani.

Ever since the victory of the Islamic revolution, the government has held flawed, but competitive and relatively free and fair elections. In order to appreciate the significance of the election results, we should look at some of the obstacles that had been placed on the path of the reformists and moderates.

The right-wing Guardian Council, formed by six clerics appointed by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and six appointed by the head of the judiciary, who is himself appointed by Khamenei, has the job of vetting all the candidates who run for high office in Iran. In the absence of organized political parties, anybody can declare himself or herself a candidate in presidential or parliamentary elections, and normally many unqualified people do so.

Therefore, there is a need for a vetting organization, but the criticism against the Guardian Council is that it does not act in a fair and impartial manner.

During the recent elections,Read More »

TFF PressInfo # 366: Russian Withdrawal from Syria: Could it be the beginning of the end?

By Farhang Jahanpour

On Monday 14 March, in a surprise move and without any warning to Western leaders, President Vladimir Putin ordered the withdrawal of the “main part” of Russian forces from Syria, and instructed his diplomats to speed up the push for peace. “The effective work of our military created the conditions for the start of the peace process,” he said. “I believe that the task put before the defense ministry and Russian armed forces has, on the whole, been fulfilled.”

He added that with the participation of the Russian military, Syrian armed forces “have been able to achieve a fundamental turnaround in the fight against international terrorism.”

According to Western reports, Russian forces are already being prepared for flights back to Russia and equipment is being loaded onto cargo planes.

Although President Putin’s sudden announcement has given rise to a great deal of surprise and some false assumptions in the mainstream Western media and among political pundits, his decision is a timely, bold and constructive move that may result in some positive developments in the long-running catastrophe in Syria.

One of the reasons for the negative and cynical comments about the Russian move is that in five months President Putin has achieved more in halting the advance of the terrorists in Syria than the West had achieved in five years, if indeed it had been the West’s real intention to defeat the terrorists.

The Syrian uprising started with demonstrations on 28 January 2011 in Damascus and Aleppo in the wake of the “Arab Spring” in Tunisia and Egypt.Read More »

TFF PressInfo # 362: Iran’s elections and the nuclear deal

By Dr. Farhang Jahanpour
TFF Board member

Lund, Sweden, February 24, 2016

Two general elections are to be held in Iran this coming Friday the 26th – to the parliament (Majles) for the next 4 years and to the Assembly of Experts for the next 8 years.

Their results will be of utmost importance for the Iranian society and politics, for its foreign policy and the Middle Eastern region and – in the light of the nuclear deal – for the world too.

We are pleased to send you some links to essential analyses of these issues by Iranian-born scholar Dr. Farhang Jahanpour, Oxford University and TFF Board member.

Elections in Iran – A test for the regime

Is Iran the most stable country in the Mideast 37 years after its revolution?

Iran is leaning neither towards the West nor the East
Interview with Tehran Times also available here.

The nuclear deal implementation day: A win-win agreement

Views split in both Iran and the US on nuclear deal implementation

Iran moves fast: Can the nuclear deal survive elections in Iran and the US?

These articles exemplify one of three project aims TFF has for it’s multi-year engagement in Iran since 2013 – namely to increase the knowledge about Iran and thereby help change the hitherto unreasonably negative image of it in the West.

Simply put, where knowledge and understanding replace stereotypes and enemy images, the chance of confidence and peace-building increases.

The second sub-project is to help establish academic peace and conflict research at Tehran’s University, and the third is to create an art photography book from various parts of Iran.

The fifth anniversary of the Egyptian Uprising

By Farhang Jahanpour

Since achieving their independence from Western colonialism, most Arab countries have never experienced events such as they have seen during the past few years. The demonstrators in Tunisia got rid of their autocratic ruler in a remarkably short time.

And the events in Egypt starting exactly five years ago today (25 January, 2015) spelled the end of Hosni Mubarak’s regime. The fire of revolutions and uprisings spread to other Arab countries, and are still continuing.

Although those revolutions have not yet led to any lasting democracy or improvements in the lives of their citizens, nevertheless, what has happened during the past five years cannot be reversed, no matter how hard the autocratic rulers try to set the clock back.

For better or worse, the Arab world is undergoing profound changes, which will affect both the lives of Arab citizens and the relations between those countries and the rest of the world for a long time to come.

Let us remember that the Prague Spring began on 5 January 1968, but it took more than another two decades for East European countries to achieve their independence and a greater degree of democracy. The Prague Spring was short-lived, as was the Arab Spring, but the spark that it ignited never died.

The spark of the revolution in Tunisia was an Read More »

The common roots of our faiths: Return to our collective consciousness – Iran and Christmas

By Farhang Jahanpour

While Christians celebrate Christmas on Dec. 25th, the Persians celebrate one of their oldest and most festive celebrations on Dec. 21st, the eve of winter solstice, the longest night and the shortest day of the year. In Iran this night is called “Shab-e Yalda”, the night of the birth or nativity of the sun, or Mithra the Sun-god.

According to Orthodox Christians, the Armenians and the Eastern churches, Jesus Christ was born on January 6, and the celebration of his birthday on December 25th, may in fact be born out of the Persian Mithraic influence. In ancient Persian mythology, Mitra (Mithra, Mehr), the God of love, friendship, and light, or the sun-god, was miraculously born from a rock by a river or stream on this longest night of the year.

In his fifth volume of the collected works, Symbols of Transformation, Carl Jung, the famous Swiss psychiatrist, has extensively discussed the influence of Mithraism on Christianity and has portrayed its images and symbols. In praise of the Mithraic sun-god, Jung states:

“The sun. . . is the truly ‘rational’ image of God, whether we adopt the standpoint of the primitive savage or of modern science. In either case Father-God from whom all living things draw life; he is the fructifier and the creator, the source of energy into our world. The discord into which the human soul has fallen can be harmoniously resolved through the sun as a natural object which knows no inner conflict . . . It shines equally on the just and the unjust, and allows useful creatures to flourish as well as the harmful. Therefore the sun is perfectly suited to represent the visible God of this world, i.e., the creative power of our own soul, which we call libido, and whose nature it is to bring forth the useful and the harmful, the good and the bad. That this comparison is not just a matter of words can be seen from the teachings of the mystics: when they descend into the depths of their own being, they find “in their heart” the image of the sun, they find their own life-force which they call the “sun” for a legitimate and, I would say, a physical reason, because our source of energy and life actually is the sun. Our physiological life, regarded as an energy process, is entirely solar (para. 176).”

Soon, Mithraism spread its wings from Persia to the ancient-civilized world in Rome and many European countries. Consequently, in Europe as in Persia, Read More »

TFF PressInfo # 346 – Ten articles on the nuclear treaty with Iran

By Farhang Jahanpour

Lund, Sweden, October 21, 2015

It is with pleasure we send you ten recent articles about Iran, the West and the background to the treaty concluded about Iran’s nuclear technology. They are written by Dr. Farhang Jahanpour, Oxford University, who is also a member of TFF’s board.

Given the generally insufficient and/or biased knowledge in media and politics about Iran and this cluster of issues, TFF is proud to have a world renowned expert with Iranian roots sharing his knowledge.

1. Iran and the Non-Proliferation Treaty

2. Nuclear states do not comply with the Non-Proliferation Treaty

3. The early history of Iran’s nuclear programme

4. The recent stages of Iran’s nuclear programme

5. Iran and nuclear weapons, a dangerous delusion

6. The Rubicons that have been crossed

7. Iran’s commitments under the Nuclear Treaty are just short of surrender

8. Israel’s opposition to the Nuclear Treaty with Iran

9. Iran’s nuclear deal and the regional countries

10. The nuclear deal’s impact on Iranian domestic and foreign policy

TFF 30th Anniversary Benefit Event

Lund, Sweden, September 5, 2015
Updated September 5 and our apologies if you’ve received this before.
We want to catch all and miss no one over all these years.

Dear friend!

We are happy to invite you to the TFF 30th Anniversary Benefit Event !
September 11-12, 2015

Live Lectures by videostream
Exciting lectures on world affairs and peace over two days – See program below.

This is not an invitation to visit the foundation in person.
It is an online, live video streamed event that you will be able to follow from anywhere in the world
Here is the link and it’ll also be shown via Facebook, Twitter and on our website.
And all the lectures will be available later as videos on our own video channels.

Open House at the foundation
Saturday September 12 at 14:00-17:00
It’s at Vegagatan 25 in Lund, Sweden – deadline for your registration September 7.

1. Lectures on-site with live streaming

We’ll shortly tell you the links where you may see it all and where videos will later be available.

Lecture program

Friday September 11

Live, video streamed:

16:00
September 11: Alternatives to the devastating War On Terror – Jan Oberg

17:00
TFF 30 Perspectives – TFF Associates and Board on the better world we dream of – And cheers!

Saturday September 12

Live, video-streamed 10:00-18:00

10:00
Iran And the Nuclear Issues – Gunnar Westberg

11:00
Integration – Why and how? Example: Afghan Youth In Sweden – Christina Spännar, Sweden

12:00
Nuclear abolition is necessary and possible – Gunnar Westberg, Sweden

13:00
West and East: Ukraine and New Cold War? – Jan Oberg

14:00
Human Rights And War Crimes – Jonathan Power, UK/Sweden

15:00
Women, Self-Esteem and Violence – Annette Schiffmann, Germany

16:00
Yugoslavia – What Should Have Been Done? – Jan Oberg (in Memoriam Håkan Wiberg), DK/Sweden

17:00
Media and Peace – Sören Sommelius, Sweden

18:00
Burundi’s Crisis And Possible Ways Out – Burundi expert

2. Open House hours 14-17
Buffet, drinks, coffee and tea, cakes and other sweets.
You must register your visit by September 7 at the latest at TFF30@transnational.org or call 0046 738 525200.

3. Peace with peaceful means
The day is devoted to the – ongoing – struggle for ”peace by peaceful means“ as the UN Charter puts it. Gandhi said that the “means are goals in-the-making”. To realize that noble goal remains the mission of TFF. Today we show you how and promote all related activites with the help of social media and new video technologies.

4. This is a Benefit Event – Your support to TFF please!

TFF is unique in being totally independent of government and corporate funds. It’s people-financed. No one related to TFF has a salary; we’re all-volunteer.
This provides for truly free research and permit us to be critical and constructive and practise our freedom of expression. Not everyone can boast that today!
Wars, nuclear and conventional arms, bombing raids and occupations etc. are financed by your tax money. Sadly and unfairly, no tax funds go to realise the UN norm above.

We think that people who believe that peace is better than violence should also pay something to the research, education and activism in favour of that UN norm.
If you can come to Lund on our big day or sit somewhere following our rich lecture program, we urge you strongly to make a donation. Every day over 30 years, TFF has given the world something useful.

You can do it right in the middle of our homepage – click the “Give” button or under the headline “Support” in the right-hand column where many options exist, including PayPal. It easy, fast and secure!
Cash – but no cheques – can also be donated at the event.* *

Thank you so much!

5. Videos
We’re proud to present the first two short videos – 3 more to come – in which the founders talk about various aspects of 30 years in the service of peace on the basis of questions asked by board member Annette Schiffmann. Watch, comment and subscribe!

The First

The Second

6. Brand new Online Magazine
The announced online magazine launched to mark our Anniversary is now here!

“Transnational Affairs – TFF Magazine for conflict-resolution, non-violence and peace-building”

Excited as we are, we’ll be back to you soon with more details!

Yours truly

Christina & Jan
Founders

* If you are able to come in person, you must register to TFF30@transnational.org or call 0046 738 525200 by Tuesday September 8 at the latest.

* * This does not apply to you if you have already made a donation in 2015.

Hiroshima and the Dangers of a New Cold War

By Farhang Jahanpour

On the anniversary of the first use of nuclear weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki it is important to look back at the reasons for those barbaric acts and to look forward to what needs to be done.
The First and the Second World Wars were the most devastating wars ever waged in history. Nevertheless, although those wars killed tens of millions of human beings and destroyed many cities, the end of the Second World War witnessed the use of a new category of weapons by the United States that have the potential to end human civilization as we know it.

Grotesquely called ‘Little Boy’, the bomb that flattened Hiroshima on 6 August 1945, was a uranium bomb that killed between 130,000-140,000 civilians instantly, and many thousands later. ‘Fat Man’ that blasted Nagasaki three days later, was a plutonium bomb and killed about 70,000 people instantly.

There has been a great deal of debate about whether the use of those bombs was necessary to force Japan’s surrender and to end the war. While these debates seem archaic and a part of history, nevertheless, it is important to see whether those weapons were necessary from a military point of view, or whether they had other purposes, something that would have relevance for us today.

First of all, it is remarkable that those two bombs were dropped on two non-military targets, and the vast majority of those killed were civilians.

The two bombs were of two different types, one was a uranium and the other a plutonium bomb. They constituted the two most horrendous single instances of mass slaughter in the history of the world, yet they have not received the attention that they deserve and appropriate lessons have not been learned. It is important to point out these facts to American citizens who have been kept mainly in the dark regarding their past history.

The Germans have apologized to the Jews and to the Poles for Nazi atrocities. The Japanese have apologized to the Chinese and the Koreans, and even to the United States for failing to break off diplomatic relations before attacking Pearl Harbor. The Russians have apologized to the Poles for atrocities committed against civilians, and to the Japanese for abuse of prisoners.

The Soviet Communist Party even apologized for foreign policy errors that “heightened tension with the West.” Pope John Paul II apologized for the Catholic Church’s past behavior towards the Jews. Britain has apologized for slavery. The Australian prime minister has apologized for the treatment of the aborigines.

Yet up till now there has not been an American apology for those two horrendous acts of genocide in Japan. Read More »

TFF PressInfo # 330 – Iran’s Nuclear Deal: A great achievement, but hard work ahead

By Farhang Jahanpour

The announcement of the nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers is a rare moment in history that gives us hope and provides a basis for optimism.

By contemplating what the alternative would have entailed, any agreement, no matter how defective, is a great achievement and has to be welcomed.

However, the indications are that, as the Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has declared at a joint press conference with the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs, there has been a win-win agreement that will benefit everyone. In short, they have made history.

Ms. Mogherini said: “It is a decision that can open the way to a new chapter in international relations. I think this is a sign of hope for the entire world.” The Iranian foreign minister echoed those sentiments and described the deal as “a historic moment”.

He continued: “Today could have been the end of hope, but now we are starting a new chapter of hope.” Zarif rightly pointed out that the deal has ended an unnecessary conflict. As the TFF Associate Gareth Porter has shown in his book of the same title, it was in fact “A Manufactured Crisis”.

It should be remembered that Iran had been ready since 2003 to reach a nuclear deal when she agreed to ratify the Additional Protocol and voluntarily suspended enrichment for two years. The Bush Administration killed that deal by illegally stating that, contrary to the NPT regulations, Iran was not allowed to have any enrichment on her soil. Read More »

The GCC Summit: A Missed Opportunity

By Farhang Jahanpour

While hailing the so-called “framework agreement” on the nuclear deal with Iran reached in Lausanne on 2 April 2015 as a great political achievement, President Barack Obama also announced that he would invite the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) leaders to Washington and to Camp David to inform them about the deal and allay their fears.

Just like the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, some Arab leaders had also expressed their opposition to the deal. Netanyahu has often described Iran as an “existential threat” to Israel and has condemned the tentative deal between Iran and six global powers, the so-called P5+1 (the United States, China, Russia, the United Kingdom, France and Germany), as “a very bad deal”.

While not using Netanyahu’s over-the-top rhetoric, nevertheless, some Arab leaders have expressed the view that Iran’s re-entry into the international community after decades of relative isolation would mean that the West’s and particularly Washington’s loyalties would henceforth be divided between them and Iran, and that they would lose their pivotal position that they have held since Iran’s Islamic revolution.

This is why President Obama feltRead More »