• Revolt in the Arab World, But Not in Iran — Why?

    Iran is a different case because the country already had a revolution in 1979.  Even those Iranians who are in the opposition called for reform within the system rather than revolution.  It is not a climate of fear that explains the survival of the Islamic Republic but the absence of revolutionary fervour.  No state can […]

  • After the “West”

    The notion of the “west”, like any such construct, has various associations depending on who is using it, where and in what circumstances.  Many people (especially in other parts of the world) tend to associate the “west” with military campaigns and foreign interventions by Nato and its leading states, the United States and Britain.  More […]

  • Speaking of Islam: An Orwellian Story

    A few metres from my office at the School of Oriental and African Studies in the heart of London’s Bloomsbury area is the Senate House of the University of London, a remarkable neo-classical colossus of a building which functioned as the headquarters of Britain’s ministry of information, where George Orwell worked occasionally during the second […]

  • “Combat Troop Withdrawal” from Iraq and the Threat of Another War: Interview with Arshin Adib-Moghaddam

      In your view, does the combat troop withdrawal mean that the mission has been completed successfully? Viewed from all conceivable angles the war must be considered a strategic failure and a humanitarian disaster.  True, the US government, together with its allies primarily the United Kingdom, managed to oust Saddam Hussein who was, by all […]

  • A New Order in “Greater West Asia”: AfPak to Palestine

    When the Soviet Union was in terminal crisis in 1990 and the prospect emerged of the United States establishing long-term domination of the international political system, the influential Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer sought to capture the character of the unfolding geopolitical era. The term he used became a buzzword in then-emerging neo-conservative circles, and […]

  • How to Make Peace with Iran

    There seems to be a growing international consensus that the search for a “cold peace” with Iran is a desirable, even essential approach on the part of the international community.  Indeed, successive “war games” at specialised institutions in the United States have shown that bombing Iran’s nuclear installations is militarily unviable.  Even some Israeli and […]

  • Iran: What Is the Green Movement?

    Caught in the intoxicating effects of a violent moment in the history of a nation, one is particularly susceptible to reactionary outbursts.  But it is exactly during such moments that intellectual discourse must prevail over ideological cacophony.  And the cacophony about the causes and consequences of the recent unrests in Iran has been deafening, exactly […]

  • The Future of Islam and Democracy in Iran

    Despite the systematic efforts of many commentators and media outlets to represent what is happening in Iran as a wholesale revolt against everything the Islamic Republic stands for, a sober analysis reveals that we are witnessing the renegotiation of political power in the country.  The protagonists represent different wings within the system; the contours of […]

  • “Terrorists” in the Eye of the American Beholder

    In the early 1970s the shah, via his intelligence organisation SAVAK, the CIA and the Israeli MOSSAD, sponsored a sustained “covert war” of Iraqi-Kurdish factions under the leadership of Mustafa Barzani against the Ba’thist leadership in Iraq which led to bombings of oil installations in Kirkuk and other infrastructural facilities with civilian use and subsequently […]

  • No Military Solution to Conflicts in West Asia

    The nature of the current wars in the wider western Asian area reveals a disturbing trend: next to sources of conflict between states there are an increasing number of conflicts within them.  In Yemen, the civil war has had a ripple effect throughout the Persian Gulf region provoking the military intervention of Saudi Arabia and […]

  • The Future of Iranian-American Relations

    A shift in US policies toward Iran was already discernible at the end of the Bush presidency.  With the extreme right wing of the neoconservative movement marginalized and the US army bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Bush administration amended its policies in accordance with a re-assessment of the United States’ capabilities after the […]

  • Iran: Manufactured Nuclear Crisis ahead of Geneva Talks

    This political crisis has more to do with manufactured “diplomatics” ahead of Thursday’s meeting in Geneva than with the facts.  The revelation by President Barack Obama that Iran is constructing a “secret” nuclear fuel facility, a few days after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) received a letter from the Iranians declaring that a new […]

  • Independence Is a Hard-earned Reality in Iran

    Iranians are writing their history.  The pen of the revolutionaries of the 1970s has been supplemented by the keyboard of a new generation.  Ayatollah Khomeini’s supporters perfected clandestine pamphleteering and the distribution of audio cassettes to subvert the regime of the shah; today’s activists use Facebook and Twitter to get their message across.  This is […]

  • Iran: This Is Not a Revolution

    Political power is never good or bad, never really just or unjust; political power is arbitrary, discriminatory, and most of the time violent.  In Iran, the ongoing demonstrations sparked by the election results in favor of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad indicate that such power can never really be monopolized by the state.  Iran’s civil society is fighting; […]

  • Who Is Counting the Dead in Afghanistan?  Another War Lost

    Within the political and intellectual circles in the country I am living in, and maybe even beyond, in mainland Europe and North America, an ignorant and insidiously complacent attitude towards the war in Afghanistan is more or less taken for granted.  At the time of writing it is exemplified in the few editorials, scholarly analyses […]

  • The Futility of Sanctioning Tehran

    Do facts matter in international relations?  One day after the latest US National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) established with high confidence that Iran is not developing nuclear weapons, President Bush stepped in front of the cameras to declare that the NIE makes it clear that Iran needs to be taken seriously as a threat to peace. […]

  • Why the US Is Losing in Iraq

    Legitimacy is a central yet understudied concept in world politics.  Let me give you an example of how it works in our everyday lives.  If I were to wield a stick menacingly and run around the SOAS campus in London proclaiming that I am an academic, very few people would be persuaded.  What I need […]

  • On the Jewish Presence in Iranian History

    When the chairman of Iran’s Jewish Council, Haroun Yashayaei, criticized President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in a letter condemning his remarks on the Holocaust, he was supported by a range of Iranian intellectuals, artists, poets, and others both within the country and without.  For those amongst us with some understanding about the Jewish presence in Iranian history, […]

  • Uprising against the “War on Terror”: The Danger of US Foreign Policy to International Security

    For those among us who hoped that 2007 would be a more orderly year in world politics, the current trends have been frustrating.  Over the past few weeks, the Bush administration has pursued the escalation of two major international crises. The first major crisis is taking place in Somalia, where the Ethiopian Army and its […]

  • Reflections on Arab and Iranian Ultra-Nationalism

    Critical students of ethnically coded nationalism would agree: propagating the glory of “our” race or culture almost always entails the suppression of equal status for the race or culture that is represented as its other.  West Asia is no exception.  Iranian and Arab identity politics thwarted, perverted, and dismembered communitarian thinking for long periods in […]