Narrowing the Options on the Table

by Farideh Farhi | published December 8, 2011

Ali Akbar Salehi, Iran’s foreign minister and former representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), is not usually a sarcastic man. But he became one in early November following several days of leaks about the negative content of a pending IAEA report on Iran. “Marg yek bar, shivan yek bar,” he said, using an age-old Persian expression. Literally, the phrase means “You die once, you are mourned once,” but here it might be translated, “Get it over with.”

Debunking the Iran "Terror Plot"

by Gareth Porter | published November 3, 2011

At a press conference on October 11, the Obama administration unveiled a spectacular charge against the government of Iran: The Qods Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps had plotted to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States, Adel al-Jubeir, right in Washington, DC, in a place where large numbers of innocent bystanders could have been killed. High-level officials of the Qods Force were said to be involved, the only question being how far up in the Iranian government the complicity went.

Continuity and Change in Soviet Policy

The Gulf Crisis and the Islamic Dimension

by Alain Gresh
published in MER167

The day after Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze and US Secretary of State James Baker announced what they termed “an unusual step.” They issued a communique “jointly urging the international community to join them and suspend all supplies of arms to Iraq on an international scale.” The Gulf crisis, the first major post-Cold War international crisis, provides a concrete measure of changing Soviet strategy in the Third World. While Soviet policy can be explained in large part by a desire to maintain good relations with the United States, one cannot disregard, in the short or the long run, the weight of Moscow’s relations with the Middle East and how they affect its strategy and tactics in the region.

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Iranian Populism and Political Change in the Gulf

by Eric Hooglund
published in MER174

From the political perspective, the main consequence of the Persian Gulf War has been the restoration of the status quo ante. In Iraq and Kuwait, dissidents who had expected the military defeat of Saddam Hussein to usher in a new era of freedom and democracy have been sorely disillusioned. In the sheikhdoms of the Arabian Peninsula, hereditary rulers had feared the US military intervention might bring pressures for political reform, and citizens had hoped Washington might support at least modest democratization efforts. Both now realize that the West is interested in containing, not promoting, political change.

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Amirahmadi, Revolution and Economic Transition

by Misagh Parsa
published in MER176

Hooshang Amirahmadi, Revolution and Economic Transition: The Iranian Experience (SUNY, 1990).

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Fischer and Abedi, Debating Muslims

by Vinay Lal
published in MER177

Michael M.J. Fischer and Mehdi Abedi, Debating Muslims: Cultural Dialogues in Postmodernity and Tradition (Wisconsin, 1990).

In the older literature on the Middle East and the Muslim world, Islam almost invariably appeared as a religion of fanaticism: austere in its outlook, menacing in its proselytizing tendencies, intellectually impoverished, antagonistic toward reason and monolithic in its structure. Above all it was described as essentially different from Western rationalism, capitalism and democracy.

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Qashqa'i Nomads and the Islamic Republic

by Lois Beck
published in MER177

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Fawcett, Iran and the Cold War

by Moyara de Moraes Ruehsen
published in MER183

Louise L’Estrange Fawcett, Iran and the Cold War: The Azerbaijani Crisis of 1946 (Cambridge, 1992).

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Is the "Fatwa" a Fatwa?

by Sadiq al-Azm
published in MER183

In saluting author Salman Rushdie and expressing solidarity with his plight, I would like to put on the table the question of whether the notorious “fatwa” issued by Ayatollah Khomeini against Rushdie is really a fatwa in the first place. This is neither an academic exercise nor a purely theoretical investigation, but a matter of great practical relevance to any strategy (and tactics) for helping Rushdie the prisoner, writer and human being transcend the debilitating impasse in which he finds himself.

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Interventions is a feature in Middle East Report Online offering critical reviews of important Middle East-related books, films and other cultural production. Click here for past Interventions articles.

Off the Grid

Reading Iranian Memoirs in Our Time of Total War

by Negar Mottahedeh | published September 2004

Air-conditioned transportation in Tehran is notoriously difficult to find. For pampered visitors such as the cultural anthropologists and documentary filmmakers from New York and Los Angeles who seem to converge on the Iranian capital every summer, a cool taxi ride to the northern parts of town recalls something of the charmed life they left behind in the United States, a life some refer to offhandedly as “the grid.”