"Is This the End of Christianity in the Middle East? ISIS and other extremist movements across the region are enslaving, killing and uprooting Christians, with no aid in sight." --a comprehensive piece by Eliza Griswold (SLNYTMP.)
"More than sixty years have passed since Israel started its nuclear venture and almost half a century has elapsed since it crossed the nuclear weapons threshold. Yet Israel's nuclear history still lacks a voice of its own: Israel has never issued an authorized and official nuclear history; no insiders have ever been authorized to tell the story from within. Unlike all seven other nuclear weapons states, Israel's nuclear policy is essentially one of non-acknowledgement. Israel believes that nuclear silence is golden, referring to its nuclear code of conduct as the policy of amimut ("opacity" in Hebrew)." A special collection of declassified documents was published by the National Security Archive this Wednesday, that sheds some light on How Israel Hid Its Secret Nuclear Weapons Program.
Forty maps that explain the Middle East. Includes sections on Middle East history, the region today, Israel-Palestine, Syria, Iran, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and oil, Iraq and Libya, and "points of light." [more inside]
In 2011, the CIA declassified documents admitting its involvement in the 1953 coup that overthrew Iran's elected government and installed Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, details of which were first first disclosed by the New York Times in 2000. Timeline. However, they refused to release them to the public. Today, the National Security Archive research institute has (after a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit) obtained and made the 21 documents public. "Marking the sixtieth anniversary of the overthrow of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddeq, the National Security Archive is today posting recently declassified CIA documents on the United States' role in the controversial operation. American and British involvement in Mosaddeq's ouster has long been public knowledge, but today's posting includes what is believed to be the CIA's first formal acknowledgement that the agency helped to plan and execute the coup. [more inside]
Iran has a new president, Hasan Rouhani, does that mean there might be hope for a thawing in diplomatic relations? In his inaugral speech Roughani urges an end to sanctions and promises a new era. While the White House response seems cautiously optimisitic US Senators have been pressing for tougher sanctions.
I feel creatively emboldened to personally say something on the subjects that I am documenting. In terms of how it is produced, intellectually I am more excited than I have been in years. I am envisioning so many more possibilities for the work ... I feel for first time empowered on my own terms. We are calling our own shots and have created somewhat of our own institution.An interview with the six-woman Middle Eastern documentary photography collective Rawiya, whose name means "female narrator" in Arabic. [more inside]
While not being an outright example of a clash of civilizations in the Huntingtonian sense, elements of cultural misunderstanding and fears about the system-challenging tendencies of Iran do aﬀect Western perceptions and inﬂuence Western behavior toward Iran. Furthermore, these kinds of reciprocal identity-based fears and projections of the other side’s presumed malevolent intentions tend to be mutually reinforcing. The risk is that they eventually become self-fulﬁlling prophecies.Iran and the West - Regional Interests and Global Controversies [PDF]. [more inside]
The Point of No Return. In the gap between Washington’s and Jerusalem’s views of Iran lies the question: who, if anyone, will stop Iran before it goes nuclear, and how? As Washington and Jerusalem study each other intensely, here’s an inside look at the strategic calculations on both sides—and at how, if things remain on the current course, an Israeli air strike will unfold.
"I like competition in everything ... I have to move whatever is movable in the world." Say hello to Laleh Seddigh, Iran's top rated female race car driver. [more inside]
American-Dutch photographer Peter van Agtmael and English photographer Olivia Arthur are the two newest nominees recently welcomed into Magnum Photos. Agtmael's images of Afghanistan and Iraq are very powerful - he discusses his work in Conscientious. Arthur's recent work has focused on women's experiences in what she calls the Middle Distance. [more inside]
The Man Between War and Peace. "As head of U. S. Central Command, Admiral William 'Fox' Fallon is in charge of American military strategy for the most troubled parts of the world. Now, as the White House has been escalating the war of words with Iran, and seeming ever more determined to strike militarily before the end of this presidency, the admiral has urged restraint and diplomacy. Who will prevail, the president or the admiral?" [Via Think Progress.]
Much of the Middle East has been without reliable internet access recently due to the somewhat suspicious cutting of four seperate underwater cables, in seperate locations, within a few days of each other. The problem has been alleviated by re-routing of traffic until ships can reach the cables to repair them, a process which may take several weeks. The problem was initially believed to be caused by anchors of passing ships, but that has since been retracted and deals have already been signed by several companies for new cables. [more inside]
In the U.S., motorists do not pay their way. The US government spends more on highways and other auto-related expenses than it receives from auto-related taxes, unlike almost every country in Europe. In a recent report [pdf], Mark Delucchi calculates automobile-related costs and revenues in three different ways and concludes the subsidy is around 20-70 cents per gallon or $24-105 billion in 2002. But what are automobile-related costs, you ask? [more inside]
What was Jiroft? An ancient civilization in what is now southern Iran that was lost to history until very recently. Many beautiful artifacts have been dug up. It is claimed that writing originated with the Jiroft civilization and that this is the legendary kingdom of Aratta, subject of one of the world's oldest works of literature, Enmerkar and the lord of Aratta. There is dispute over both. Either way, it certainly was a commercial hub as early as 3000 B.C. The site has been extensively plundered in recent years, but is so rich in artifacts that excavations can go on for decades.
This opinion piece in Prospect magazine argues that perhaps the importance of the problems in the Middle East are overblown. Interesting read.
22 basic suggested readings on the Middle East from history professor and informed commenter on Middle Eastern affairs Juan Cole.
The Redirection. "Is the Administration’s new policy aiding our enemies in the war on terrorism?" New article by Seymour Hersh in the New Yorker.
Hussein Derakhshan [English site] is one of the leading voices of the Persian blogosphere. His blog [Persian site] manages to reach a wide audience in Iran despite being officially censored. Currently, he is fulfilling his dream of visiting Israel [Flickr pics] and breaking barriers in Israeli-Iranian relations. Lisa Goldman, his host in Israel writes about his visit in her blog, too. He is interviewed by the Israeli press in this Haaretz article. He has written "Democracy's Double Standard", an NYT op-ed piece, [bugmenot]. from Tel Aviv, and delivered a lecture on "Reform, Youth and Technology" at the Center for Iranian Studies at Tel Aviv University. Oh yeah, he's also a MeFite.
Animated video broadcast on Iran's IRIB state television, apparently aimed at children, seemingly promotes the virtues of becoming a suicide bomber. Coralized wmv link, transcript.
Q & A with former Israeli Mossad chief Efraim Halevy. Halevy fields questions from readers around the world. See also his article "The coming Pax Americana".
Women In Iran With the slogan of "Women's Right Is Human Right", the website tries to tell the story of struggles, issues and successes of Iranian women, and in this way we would like to extend our hands to and welcome all those who believe in the social and intellectual equality of women and men.
Iran considers moving capital away from Tehran. Tehran lies on a major seismological fault and experts have long warned that a strong earthquake in the city would be devastating. A professor of geophysics at Tehran university, has warned that if a quake of similar magnitude hit Tehran it would kill more than 700,000 people. Government buildings would be destroyed.
An Iranian student's account of the recent protests in Tehran and the retaliation by pro-government vigilantes with an attack on a dormitory: "They got shields from the police and entered the dormitory. There were about 600-700 of them — armed with swords, sticks, daggers, iron chains, and tear-gas guns — to 700 of us students, mostly in pajamas. We had run out of stones to resist any longer…". For more first hand accounts see Buzzmachine's list of Iranian bloggers.
15 months after the first waves, Blogging seems to prove so popular among young Iranian boys and girls that now the number of Persian (or Farsi) weblogs has jumped to more than 9,000. Almost half of them are using Blogger.com's free service and other half are using a similar but more Persian-friendly online application, created by Iranian programmers, called Persianblog.com. Tomorrow, they are gathering in a big conference hall in Tehran to meet other colleagues and bloggers and to share what they've experienced during their lovely days of a rare thing in Iranian history: absolute freedom of expression
America Can Persuade Israel to Make a Just Peace An op-ed piece by former president Jimmy Carter that is going to get a lot of play in the media. Unfortunately, Mr. Carter seems to suggest a rather easy solution: give back the Palestinian lands and have the Palestinians recognize Israel's right to exist. Put the pressure on Israel by withhold financial aid till they do as we bid. Problem: Palestinians being subsidized by Iraq, Iran, EU and Syria. What about pressure on them? And: Palelstinian issues still in need of resolving: capital and Right of Return....with this left out, we are still not going to get peace. Does Carter simplify or is he on target? reg reqd.
Middle East war predictions "..what we are witnessing looks like joint preparations by the Palestinian Authority, Syria, its Lebanese client, Iraq, and Iran, for war on a regional scale, against both Israel and U.S. interests. I fear we may face a major, sudden, external assault on Israel, meant to precede U.S. action against the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq, and indeed prevent the U.S. from going there by enmiring it in the defence of Israel. [From The Ottowa Citizen, lead link in today's Wall Street Journal Best of the Web]
MSNBC reporting 5 Americans arrested in Afghanistan near Iran border and that they are part of a special ops team.
Iran launches missile attack on Iraq Anyone seen this reported by other sources?