Friday, March 31, 2006

Security Council Fails to Move Iran (CFR)

The Anti-War movement is getting more serious. At the same time , the situtauin between Iran and the U.S is becoming more intense.Here is a piece on the most recent changes in Iran's case at UNSC. Here is the latest at take a look.
March 31, 2006Prepared by: Michael Moran
Iran’s determination to continue enriching uranium—a key step in the nuclear bomb-making process—appears completely undimmed by a unanimous statement from the UN Security Council urging it to cease and desist. The torturous negotiations on the wording of the statement—which sought to balance the tough line favored by the United States, Britain, and France with the unwillingness of Russia and China to consider sanctions—were heralded by Beijing’s People’s Daily as "a triumph of compromise." Iran’s foreign minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, while rejecting the referral of the matter to the Security Council, notes it now appears very unlikely that sanctions will result. ( Read More)

A Dangerous Path

The Republican Party has chosen a rather detrimental path: endangering a long term goal, which is capturing a decent portion of Hispanic votes, for a short term gain, maintaining their majority after the 2006 midterm elections. The Republicans have successfully alienated black voters in this country. In 2000, less than 10 percent of the black vote went to President Bush. He did better in 2004 by gaining an additional 2 percent. These numbers clearly show the Republican loss of the black vote. The African American community in the U.S. is socially conservative. Most blacks are social conservatives with strong opposition to abortion and gay rights; however, they have continually voted democratic in every major election. The Congressional Black Caucus has 39 members, all from the Democratic Party. Their voting pattern on social issues, such as gay rights, is overwhelmingly liberal. They do not represent the African American community’s social and moral values. They have bowed down to the democratic establishment and vote in every direction they are told to, but why do blacks elect representatives who are so out of touch with their values? Why is it that the African American community does not consider the Republican Party as an option? The alienation of Black voters by the Republicans has everything to do with the republican strategy in the aftermath of President Johnson’s support for Civil Rights legislation. The South to the GOP was a hostile land in the aftermath of the Civil War. Democrats controlled everything in the South. After LBJ’s courageous move to lend his support to the civil rights movement, the Democratic Party began to lose support in virtually every Southern state. Many democrats switched parties by joining the Republican Party, which had undertaken an aggressive campaign to recruit democratic fallouts. The Republicans ended the long democratic reign in the South, but they lost the black vote nation wide.
The Republicans are once again causing irreparable damage to their electoral potential.
The Hispanic population is the largest minority in the U.S., constituting an important voting block in many states. In California, for instance, there are 12 million Latinos. About one in three Californians is Latino. Like the African Americans, the Latinos are socialy conservative. Only 11 percent of Latino voters consider themselves very liberal, while 16 percent of California’s black voters prefer such a label. Nearly 56 percent of California’s Latinos are democrats, and yet this will not provide the Democratic Party with a safe and solid voting block. The Republicans however, have managed to alienate the Latinos, driving them into the Democratic camp by endorsing irrational policies. In 1994, Pete Wilson, as governor of California, championed a ballot initiative, which denied state-financed benefits to illegal immigrants by stating, “Proposition 187, stymied in the courts, would have denied nonemergency public services, including education and health care, to the state's illegal immigrant population, which at the time was estimated at 1.6 million, most from Mexico” (John Harwood, The Wall Street Journal, May 3, 2002). The House of Representative’s immigration bill has only decreased republican popularity among Latino voters. The immigration bill will not stop illegal immigration, since free flow of capital requires free flow of labor as well. America needs her cheap work force, therefore the immigration bill will not do a thing to stop it. The immigration bill was a rash decision to please and mobilize the Republican base for a very difficult mid-term election in 2006. Still, the damage caused by this bill to the Republican Party is colossal. The GOP has engaged in a losing gamble. GOP strategists must look at the broader picture: long term Republican dominance. Losing the Hispanic vote will weaken the Republican Party. Mr. Mehlman, Chairman of the Republican National Committee and the GOP leaders in the House and Senate, should not forget the inevitable historical repercussions of alienating black votes.
-Arash Aramesh

American Hostage Freed in Iraq - by Iran?!?

The American Journalist Jill Caroll was finally released after more than 82 days of captivity - in front of the Iraq Islamic Party. She was abducted while on her way to interview a Sunni Arab politician. She said that her captors had treated her well, that she had been fed well and never threatened. “It’s important people know that I was not harmed,” she said (AP).

Read it again: abducted on her way to interview a Sunni politician, released in front of the Iraq Islamic Party, treated well? I want to add one more clause: freed two weeks after Iran agreed to negotiate with the US over Iraq's security. Lets not forget our history: in the 1980s, several American citizens were held hostage in Lebanon. This was in the midst of the Iran-Iraq War, and Iran was in dire need of American spare parts for its military. So the Israelis, understanding the political significance of hostages for the American government, suggested selling weapons to Iran in exchange for the release of the hostages. Reagan agreed and authorized the CIA to sell Iran weapons through Israeli dealers, and in exchange, Iran agreed to use its influence over Hezbollah and other Islamic groups in Lebanon in order to get the Americans released: between 1985 and 1986, 44 Americann hostages were released in Lebanon. The whole scandal became known as the Iran-Contra Affair [you can read the full Congressional report on the matter here, although I don't recommend it!].

There are two distinct kinds of hostage-taking, the Zarqawi kind, and the Hezbollah kind. Zarqawi slains and murders his hostages in the most brutal fashion; Hezbollah uses them mainly as bargaining chips. Zarqawi's hostage-taking is more ideologic, whereas Hezbollah's is more strategic. This is because Hezbollah had a tangible, practical goal: to drive the Americans and the Israeli's out of Lebanon; whereas, Al-Qaeda and Sunni Wahhabists, from whom Zarqawi draws inspiration, have no such tangible goals: they want to establish an Islamic Empire, to go back to the glory days of the 7th century, to ressurect the "Pure Muhammadan Islam."

I think the the story of Jill Caroll's release fits a familiar pattern. Bush and Reagan were both tough talkers on evil-doers and evil empires, yet they both signed backdoor deals with the Bin Ladens and the Islamic Republics of this world; they both faced deep criticism for involving American troops in foreign conflicts, Reagan for the troops in Lebanon, and Bush for his continued occupation of Iraq; both presidents also faced domestic scandals and deficits.

Jill Caroll was quickly becoming the symbol of America's failure in Iraq. Who can forget her crying face, the covering of the hair, the humilitation of an American woman at the hands of a gang of Arab men? Images like this are responsible for Bush's miserable ratings - and, ironically, also for the appearance of Iran's nuclear file at the UN Security Council. After all, one of America's biggest beefs with Iran is its support of terrorist organizations. Would you, personally, have any sypmathy for a country's right to nuclear technology if that country supports those who keep such a cute female journalist - journalist for god's sake -hostage for nearly 3 months?

The parallels are just too strong. Would we be reading of an Iran-Karbala Affair in 10, 15 years?

- Assareh

New Updates:
BBC: Freed US Journalist 'Manipulated'
Reuters: Freed Reporter Says Forced Into Anti-US Video

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Live Conversation From Iraq: A Real Disaster!

Today I was chatting with my journalist friend who is living in Iraq for a while. Two years ago she wrote a book about Iraq, Cafe Bagdad. I interviewed her once about her observations there. Since then it seems, the situation has become much worse. When I talked to her today, she was very sad because one of her students - she trains journalists in Iraq - was killed in Baghdad during the raid of a mosque....

Omid: Hi Susanne. How are you
Susanne: not good
Omid: why not good?
Susanne: because one of our students was killed in Baghdad!
Omid: Really? It is so sad! How old was he or she?
Susanne: 28, recently married, and his wife is pregnant
Omid: it is really so sad…He was Sunni or Shiite? Who killed him?
Susanne: he was Shiite; he was killed in this raid on a Shiite mosque
Omid: no!!!
Susanne: it is not sure whether it was American or Iraqi soldiers
Omid: It is so sad to be killed at somewhere which is traditionally safest place
Susanne: there are no safe places in Iraq
Omid: even where you live?
Susanne: I guess here it is still ok. But horrible things happen everywhere. In Kirkuk they arrested a doctor who then admitted that he had killed at least 35 policemen. He killed them when they were brought to his hospital after being injured by a bomb etc, and he would give them a lethal injection or reopen their wounds or turn of the breathing machine, and terrorists paid him for this.
Omid: no, I can not believe, it is horrible. Terrorist means Shiite or Sunnis?
Susanne: people are kidnapped in Baghdad in broad daylight…both sides
Susanne: the doctor was paid by Sunnis. Ansar Al Sunna
Omid: do you think it is because of Iranians interference?
Susanne: part of it yes.But no one really knows who is behind that. The Shiite militias are horrible. They killed 540 Sunnis since Feb. 22. People are kidnapped, tortured and then put in the garbage. with holes drilled in their head and faces
Omid: they are related to Moghtada Sadr?
Susanne: some of them are, others to Badr, part of them are in the interior ministry…
Omid: I have heard about that.
Susanne: at least that is what people say and newspapers write
Omid: do you think the insurgency in Iraq can be solving by Iran- US negotiation?
Susanne: no
Omid: why?
Susanne: it is completely beyond control
Omid: so that's just political show?
Susanne: no, I think it is civil war already. It is the result of decades of brutal tyranny
Omid: so what?

Susanne: people do not know mercy,
omid: If Iran can control the Shiites so it would control the situation?
Susanne: part of it maybebut not totally. They can make it worse. But I don’t think they can completely stop it
Omid: How they can make it worse?
Susanne: not after Samarra and after this event at the mosque, everybody is armed now and scared, no one trusts anybody.
Omid: so what is the solution, I think all of them must gather and think about it. The results just destroy every side and nothing will remain at the end…do you think the Shiite and Sunnis clerics can solve the problem?
Susanne: there is no easy solution, omid, this is not a case for a simple editorial that says if people do this, this will happen and everything is fine
Susanne: do you think in a country where people do things like I just told you it is enough just to sit down and talk and think about it and everything will be fine?
Omid: I mean you are living there, what they need? Power? Money? land? What?
Omid: no, I think that's like a social collapse, which you mentioned...
Susanne: even when I live here it does not know I have a solution. There might be cases where there is no solution. Maybe they have to go through another war
Omid: with whom?
Susanne: themselves
Omid: what does it mean?
Susanne: ????
Omid: civil war to find out the solution?
Susanne: come on, don’t make me mad
Susanne: Iraq is a disaster, and it will be for many years. Don’t believe in stupid articles or politicians who claim if we do this and this or this and this, everything will be solved
Omid: ok. Sorry.
Susanne: they should have thought about it BEFORE they came here. If you unleash hell, don’t be surprised when it gets hot…
Omid: that’s why people, in Iran, are afraid of any similar case. If Americans attack Iran the same tragedy will happen here too.
Susanne: yes. At least you do not have Sunni, Shiite and Kurds
Omid: Iran potentially is the same and if they do anything do destabilize Iran it would be huge disaster...We have Kurds, Turks and Arabs in south. Balouch in East and the other social and political crisis inside…
Susanne:I don’t think you have the same potential for civil war as Iraq. But of course it would be a huge mess, too. And the Iranians threatened to make the situation in Iraq worse if US attacks Iran.

Susanne: Look at this:
The New York Times
March 26, 2006
Redirecting Bullets in Baghdad

"...I GOT back to Iraq two weeks ago, having been away more than a year. The first story I covered began with a tip that vigilantes had hanged four suspected terrorists from lamp posts in Sadr City, a Shiite slum. The minute I got to the scene, I realized I was stepping into a new Iraq. Another new Iraq, really; maybe even the third Iraq I have seen since I began reporting here in 2003….”
(Then she sent me the link of
this article)
And she was still sad, that’s a long time I haven’t heard good news from Iraq. When this disaster will stop?

- Posted by Omid

Isreal Election; Future of Middle East Conflict!

An Israeli freelance journalist living in Tel Aviv has posted some photos on the latest Election in Isreal today. I think this election, just a few months after Palestinian election, will reveal the direction of the peace process in the Middle East. However, Since Hamas victory last month, it is very difficult to foresee the future of this crisis. Hamas still continues to refuse to recognize Israel's right to exist. More than 5 million people can vote in Israel. In the past, immigration policies and economy have been the most important topics on election day but it seems this election is dominated by the fear of security or lack there of.
I like this informative comment by
Claude Salhani, United Press international. (Photo by AP)

Monday, March 27, 2006

Immigration, What a Mayhem

You have probably heard of all the fuss over the hottest topic of these days, immigration. Latino and pro-immigration groups held massive rallies across the country in major cities from Cincinnati to Los Angeles. All this is over a piece of legislation that was passed by the House of Representatives, making it a felony to enter the United States illegally. There is nothing wrong with passing laws requiring foreigners to travel and work in the U.S legally. But being unrealistic is the problem. The House bill does not address the real issues; American businesses’ need for cheap labor and Latin America’s poor economic condition that drives her citizen’s to the north. The House bill is just an election year reaction by the republican majority under the leadership of James Sensenbrenner (chairman of the judiciary committee) and John Boehner (majority leader). The Republican base, unhappy with the abominable state of our borders, rightfully demanded action from congressional leaders. But before passing such laws one must first calculate the costs and benefits of such legislation.

1- America needs cheap labor. Neither John Boehner of Ohio nor Nancy Pelosi of California is willing to deny America the cheap work force she desperately needs. When was the last time you saw Jim Underwood and his pregnant wife picking oranges for 16 hours a day for only 4 dollars an hour?

2- Voter sensitivity: both parties realize the sensitivity of the issue. After all, Americans get rather worried when they learn about 12 million illegal immigrants on nightly news. No one will ever come out in favor of illegal immigration (and they should not). But leaders of both parties tend to forget about the immigration issue during non-election years and only speak about the immigration mayhem when their party’s position in congress is in danger.

3- Growing Latino power: the Latin American community is the largest and the fastest growing minority group in the U.S. To politicians, that translates into votes. No party leader in his/her sane mind wants to upset the Latinos. Bush’s guest worker program, for instance, was an effort to please the Latinos while bowing down to the Republican base.

America needs real solutions. I am pro-immigration for I am a proud immigrant/U.S citizen myself. But rash decisions with simple and crowd pleasing answers cannot provide the nation with long lasting solutions to this grave problem. After all, it is an election year. When was the last time you saw politicians doing something constructive while begging for votes?

-Arash Aramesh

Israeli Elections

The elections for the Isreali Knesset (parliament) are scheduled for March 28. Here is a good article by Telegraph entitled, "A Quiet Revolution in Israel to Vote Out the Extremists."

The national voting age in Isreal is 18. The number of eligible voters in the 2006 election is 5 million. On average, turnout for national elections has averaged around 80%, which is pretty high by American standards.

Voters cast one ballot for a political party to represent them in the Knesset. The 120 Knesset seats are assigned in proportion to each party's percentage of total national vote. However, the minimum required for a party to win a Knesset seat is 2% of the total votes cast.

There are a total of 31 parties running in this year's elections. The three major parties are Labor (left-wing), Likud (right-wing), and Kadima (centrist). Current acting Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, heads the Kadima Party, which was formed in November by Ariel Sharon t0 set Israel's final borders. Likud is led by Benjamin Netanyahu, a former prime minister who takes a hard line against the Palestinians. And the Labor Party is headed by former union chief Amir Peretz, who favors a peace deal with the Palestinians and a more equitable economy. Polls indicate that none of the three main parties -- Kadima, Likud and Labor -- will come close to the total of 61 seats required for an outright majority.

A party must have at least 61 of 120 seats of the Knesset to be able to form a government. To date, no party has received enough Knesset seats to be able to form a government by itself. Thus all Israeli governments have been based on coalitions of several parties, with those remaining outside the government making up the opposition. Within 7 days following the vote, Israeli President Moshe Katsav is required to ask a member of the new Knesset, usually the leader of the party with the largest representation, to form a new government. The member then has 28 days to form a government.

Interestingly enough, the Israeli law allows for the disqualification of any candidate who has expressed one of the following:
a) negation of the existence of the State of Isreal as the state of Jewish people
b) negation of the democratic character of the State
c) incitement to racism
This is sort of like our own Guardian Council, which disqualifies candidates deemed "anti-revolutionary" and inimical to the general interests of the Islamic Republic. Some people argue that Israel is the only theocratic democracy in the world. Does Isreal qualify as a theocracy since the law itself designates the state as "the state of Jewish people"? What do you think?

- Ali

Sunday, March 26, 2006

It is serious; Think about it!

Little by little, people all around the world, pay more attention to the possibility of war against Iran. CASMII as an independent campaign organization with the purpose of opposing sanctions, foreign state interference and military intervention in Iran, is one of the pioneers in this way now. They have prepared an atmosphere to magnify the anti-war voices by mobilizing people’s concerns to real action. Professor Abbas Edalat, one of the founders of this campaign, strongly tried to promote a constructive role to mobilize people around this idea. Everybody knows in case of any attack against Iran, such a big disaster will be appearing at the Middle East region. I was at one of his meetings in San Francisco during the last months and I think it was really impressive. He had another meeting in Berkeley last month too. However for many people, it is very far thinking about any attack, at the time US is facing huge problem in Iraq, but just remember 3 years ago and US invasion to Iraq. Go there and see what’s happening…. Omid


In 1940 Sam Rayburn of Texas became the speaker of the House. He served for 20 years as Speaker, leaving a legacy unmatched by any successor to his job. The 2 decades under his leadership, the House went through some of its most conservative years. Democratic majorities in the House all translated into a stronger majority between southern democrats and conservative republicans. As I mentioned in the previous post, these 2 groups formed the “Conservative Coalition”. The CC was formed in 1937 over opposition to one of FDR’s New Deal pieces of legislation; the Fair Labor Standards Act.
1937 to 1958 were by far some of the most successful years for the CC. the alliance emerged over one fifth of all votes and registered a success rate of over 8o percent.
In the other hand, the seniority system shut all the doors to any progressive challengers, most of whom young freshman members of congress. Harold Cooley of North Carolina the chairman of the Agricultural committees told the new comers that they were “walking dead men, zombies” and “new members of both parties must be quiet and listen fro some time”. Such attitudes allowed no real opportunities for progressive minded new comers to challenge the old rule.
Even during those years, northern democrats proved to be the worst possible choice for Presidential races. JFK managed to win 27 million votes, defeating Richard Nixon in a difficult battle while democratic members of congress were pulling over 35 million votes. JFK remains the last non Southern Democratic president up to this day.
Progressive Democrats however formed two institutions to strengthen their forces while under constant attacks by the CC. the fist Institution was the Democratic Caucus that allowed all party members regardless of their seniority to speak up on different issues. The second institution was the Democratic Study Group (DSG);a loosely organized information –exchange group operated by Northern and moderate democrats.
The death of Sam Rayburn and the Speakership of John McCormack of Massachusetts gave liberal democrats new hopes. But real change did not come until 1974 and the election of many freshman democrats to the 94th congress. In the 94th congress the newly elected block of freshman democrats challenged the seniority system in a way that lead to the resignation of 3 committee chairmen. They asked committee chairmen to appear before them and answer their questions. If they failed to do so, the class of the 94th, would not vote in favor of the same chairmen which would result in their removal from their posts. The 1970’s, due to the fallout from the Watergate scandal gave some room for maneuver to the Liberals. These years, in my opinion, were their most fruitful years. They managed to pack the courts with their judges and pass some of the most liberal pieces of legislation ever in American congressional history. But these sweet days did not last for long. The disastrous presidency of Jimmy Carter and the charismatic leadership of Ronald Reagan weakened the liberals in congress once again. The democrats managed to keep their majority in the House until 1994. but the conservative revolution that started during President Reagan and continued under the leadership of Newt Gingrich ended the perceived majority of Democrats .

The picture above is of Sam Rayburn (1882-1961)
-Arash Aramesh

Saturday, March 25, 2006


American voters, in my opinion, are a conservative crowd. Conservatives have ruled the House of Representatives for almost the entirety of the 20th century. They also managed to win 7 out of the 10 presidential races since Lyndon Baines Johnson. In the aftermath of the Vietnam War and President Johnson’s support of civil rights laws, the Democratic Party began to lose its grip over the South and its politics. Old democratic families with over a century of recorded support for the Democratic Party began to jump ship by giving their allegiance to the new and aggressive Republicans. Winning the South, after the civil war, was only a dream to the party of Lincoln. In 1932 the Democrats managed to gain 97 seats in the House. There were 313 Democrats to 117 Republicans. The next 2 election cycles only helped to strengthen their position in the House by providing them with a Democratic majority of 333 to only 89 Republicans. For the next 52 years the Democratic Party called the shots on Capitol Hill. But this majority was anything but united. Many southern Democrats, outnumbered by liberal democrats, joined their conservative allies in the Republican Party by forming the “Conservative Coalition”. A powerful voting block that angered liberal democrats from the Northeast, the Midwest and the Southwest. The Southern Democrats and their Republican allies outnumbered the liberals in the House, controlled committee chairs and virtually killed any piece of legislation they disliked. The CC assigned a score to every single member of Congress, determining their level of conservatism. This score became the determining factor for selecting committee Chairmen in the House, a very powerful position prior to the House reforms taken by the Republican leadership in 1994.
In 1959, eight House committee chairs, from a total of 15 committees, scored over 80 by the CC, all Democratic Party members from the South. The Seniority system in the House did not leave any room for challengers to unseat powerful, conservative committee chairmen who stood firmly against mainstream Democratic values. The liberals frustrated by their lack of power in the House, seeked recognition and more influence. In 1974, seventy five freshman democrats entered the House to form what was called the “Class of the 94th”. This giant freshman class constituted themselves in a unified manner, rather than only accepting the dictatorial style of the seniority system, they decided to challenge it.
Arash Aramesh

Friday, March 24, 2006

Journalism and Iraq War

Journalism and Iraq War
Video sent by omemarian
I am going to write a paper on “Insurgency in Iraq and the prospect of democracy”. That’s why I am trying to follow most of the events on Iraq at the campus which I hope provide more background and updated information for me. However Hani Shokrollah, who is the former editor in chief of Al-Ahram Weekly and the lecturer at UC Berkeley, is really helpful. Two weeks ago, there was a panel dissection on the coverage of war in Iraq by American journalists at the campus. I enjoyed a lot. At the time the Chronicle journalist believed that they can just cover 10 percent of the news there, Washington post reporter said that the coverage is almost 90 percent. So, you can see how is difficult to say what is happening there. If you talk with Iraqis here, they tell how the quality of media coverage is. I have put a piece of this conversation just to give you the sense of this meeting… Omid

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Where is Iran Headed?

We know that the Islamic Republic and the Bush Administration have agreed to hold talks on Iraq's security and stability. There are two possible outcomes. Either:
A) The talks succed;


B) The talks fail.

A) If the talks on Iraq succeed, and there is some sort of stability and security in Iraq, then it is very likely that the nuclear issue would be resolved as well. In other words, if Iran puts the winning card on the table (security in Iraq), then the United States has a strong incentive to compromise with Iran over the nuclear issue as well.

This viewpoint is built on several assumptions:

i. That Iran can provide the winning card in establishing security and stability in Iraq. Iraq is already on the brink of a full-fledged civil war, and it is highly probable that adding Iran to the picture could even worsen the situation. Adding Iran can intensify the Sunni involvement in supporting the insurgency. A "Cold War" could errupt between Iran and Saudi Arabia in Iraq. In that scenario, the Shii'tes would garner support from Iran & Syria, and the Sunnis from Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and even the Occupied Territories.

ii. That Iran is also willing to provide the winning card in Iraq. The Islamic Republic fully comprehends that as long as the United States is bogged down in Iraq it cannot direct a military threat towards Iran. Why would then Iran help the United States to stabilize Iraq so it can then focus its entire energy on challenging Iran? And this brings us to the third, most important, and most problematic assumption behing this possible outcome:

iii. That the United States is willing to finally recognize the Islamic Republic, at least as a semi-legitimate government. The United States asked Iran to help it stablize Iraq. If Iran does this succesfully, its geopolitical position would be significantly enhanced. Is the US ready for this? This brings us to outcome B).

B) The talks on Iraq fail. In that case, Iran would have absolutely nothing in its arsenal. It was given a chance to work with the EU over its nuclear ambitions, and those talks failed; it had a chance to struck a deal with Russia, and it failed; it had a chance to work with the United States over Iraq's security, and it failed again. By then, most of the world would be united against Iran and her ambitions to join the nuclear club.

This view is built on several assumptions as well:

i. That Iran is too weak or incapable to stabilize Iraq. The situtation could have already passed a point of no return. In Iraq, the Sunni's have been ruling over the Shii'tes for the past 1,400 years. Now, for the first time in history, a Shii'te majority is ruling over an Arab country. Add Kurds to the picture, and then ask yourself: how peaceful can one expect this historic transition to be?

ii. That the US is trying to trap Iran. Maybe this is all a US ploy to further isolate Iran internationally. The US backed the EU Big Three's negotiations with Iran knowing fully well that the Big Three could not offer Iran the security garauntees that it needed (not from the EU but from the US). Then the US backed Russia in its negotiations with Iran, also knowing that Iran could not get what it wanted from Russia. In this sense, the US offer to talk to Iran directly can be seen as a 3rd act in isolating Iran. When the talks fail, and Iraq descends into civil war, then the US could come out and say, "look, we gave Iran so many chances, but they're just not willing to work with us. The ruling establishment MUST THEREFORE GO!!!"

Which outcome is more likely in your opinion? And why?
- Ali

Stay on the offensive Mr.Emanuel

The new head of the DCCC (Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee) Rahm Emanuel has the tough task of winning back the Congress in the 2006 midterm elections. The 2 term democratic congressman from Illinois has proven to be an energetic, charismatic leader with a clear vision and understanding of what elections are all about. This time around the Democrats can not afford to be “the nice guys”. They must go on the offensive and do what it takes to win back the lost congressional seats which were under their control for over 50 years. The Democrats need to nationalize the election, the same strategy used by the Republicans in 1994. Newt Gingrich and his Republican allies defeated the Democrats in 1994 midterm elections due to Clinton’s unpopularity and numerous ethics scandals on the part of the Democratic leadership. The Republicans succeeded in nationalizing the election and won every contested seat in 1994 midterm elections. Mr. Emanuel must take advantage of President. Bush’s unpopularity and make a connection between Bush and Republican candidates in the minds of the voters. No one denies the difficulty of taking back the Congress, especially the House, for the Democrats but that does not mean the successors of Andrew Jackson’s party are allowed to lose without a fight.

-Arash Aramesh

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Peruvian Music in Berkeley

march-2006-2 012
Video sent by omemarian

I love this Peruvian band. I have seen them several times when I went to San francisco by Bart. This is close to the Bart Station in Downtown... the music is lovely


Bay Bridged padcast

Hey! What a nice podcast. A podcast has recently been started by a friend of one of my classmates; Leah at J-School, "The Bay Bridged" features interviews and samplings of local independent bands. You might be interested in subscribing and/or giving them feedback. (Listen Here)

- Omid

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

"Everywhere sky is blue"

It was my first year out of home at the New Year eve last night. However, I was connected online to my friends in Washington DC, London, Paris, and Tehran. It is internet which has made this miracle happen. But now, that’s fine….Life goes on and according to an Iranian saying, “everywhere the sky is blue”.

Since I started bloging in 2001, I have been always interested in “Group Bloging”. Personal blog has its own functions, but group blogging provides a diverse range of spreading out ideas and thoughts and that’s why it is interesting. One day, after a long, serious, and constructive discussion with Arash and Ali who are my friends at UC Berkeley, we decided to run a blog together and talk about our concerns, interests, hobbies and whatever else we feel about life. It would be serious, humorous, and at times controversial.

I met Arash first at his Decal class on Suffism. More than 80 students where at his class and I was really surprised. Houtan, a friend of mine, introduced Arash and Ali to me. Since then we have been good friends. “Berkeley Forum” is going to deepen this friendship and make is much more creative. I believe in creativeness to keep friendships… Don’t you think so?
And Ali, the other contributor to this blog, has another Decal on Iran after the Revolution. I had a small talk at his class last semester and I enjoyed it.

Just before finishing this post let me share two links with you. The first one was sent to me by one of my Korean classmates, has sent me today, and it has some pictures of the Iran's president, the most media-covered man in Iran since the Revolution. Besides I invite you to take a look at this nice clip of an Iranian new year's song, Which makes me very passionate …..Omid

Monday, March 20, 2006

US-Iran Dialogue

Happy norouz.

This year I heard some good news prior to the norouz celebrations. On March 16, the head of Iran's National Security Council and the person in charge of Iran's nuclear dossier, Ali Larijani, announced that Iran is ready to enter into talks with the United States over Iraq's security.

The United States insists that the talks are limited only to the issue of "Iraq's security." But it was Larijani, the head of Iran's nuclear dossier, who announced Iran's willingness to negotiate. It does not seem far-fetched that the two countries would enter into a dialogue over Iran's nuclear program soon.

Is this the beginning of a new historic era? Is this anything like Nixon's historic 1972 trip to China? After 27 years of isolation, Iran is once again entering into direct negotiations with the United States. I think this is the beginning of a new historic era. Interaction with the United States will unleash sweeping forces for change in Iran. Integration into the global economic order will boost the development of Iran's weak private sector; and integration in the global system will enhance the ability of progressive forces inside Iran to organize further and mount further assualts on the Islamic Republic.

Look at China in 1972 and look at China now. Politically, not much has changed. The same party still rules the entire country with an iron fist. Economically, however, everything has change. China has registered some of the most marvelous growth rates ever recorded in history. This rapid economic transformation, in turn, has itself become a force for political development. Global business transactions require transparency, stability, and accountability - and no one expects this of a corrupt ruling class.

The forces of economic change in China have transformed China's ruling classes. They have transformed the Communist Party of China from a corrupt, radical class into a highly efficient, technocratic bunch.

Is the "Chinese Model" finally going to work in Iran??

- Ali Assareh

Saturday, March 18, 2006


I must start this piece by thanking my dear friend Omid Memarian who has been a great help in founding this blog. He is more than just a friend, but a true living example of an ongoing fight between good and evil. He was imprisoned in 2004 by the hard line elements of the judiciary in Iran. But he never stopped his fight. He continued to fight oppression despite all the threats posed by the government against him and his family. Once released from prison, Omid began to speak out about his horrific experiences while incarcerated. He is currently a visiting scholar at UC Berkeley’s graduate school of journalism. I salute him and I admire his courage.
This blog is the fruit of hard work and determination of three friends and collogues at University of California, Berkeley. Omid as mentioned above has been an encouragement all along. My dear friend Ali Assareh will also enlighten us with his insightful commentaries. And finally me. My writings will be posted on this blog periodically. I would like to invite all of you to read our posts, and give us your thoughtful feedback.
Happy Iranian New year (1385)
Arash Aramesh
Berkeley, Ca

Friday, March 17, 2006


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