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Friday, February 29, 2008

U.S. eyes Iranian president's visit to Iraq

REFILE-ANALYSIS- 29 Feb 2008 14:55:41 GMT
Source: Reuters
(removing word "secret" from first paragrah)

By Sue Pleming

WASHINGTON, Feb 29 (Reuters) - Unlike President George W. Bush's fleeting visits to Iraq, Iran's president is set to go to Baghdad this weekend amid much fanfare on a trip seen by some experts as undermining U.S. influence in the region.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's visit comes after an invitation from the Iraqi government and will be the first by an Iranian president to Baghdad since 1979.

Bush used his own trip to the region last month to cajole (To urge with gentle and repeated appeals) moderate Arab allies to join a U.S. drive to isolate Iran because of its nuclear program and what Washington sees as stoking violence in Iraq.

"President Ahmadinejad's visit is aimed at stealing America's thunder ... the Iranians are masters of propaganda," said Michael Rubin of the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative Washington think tank.

"It is his (Ahmadinejad's) moment of triumph. It is his 'Mission Accomplished' moment," Rubin said, referring to a visit by Bush to a U.S. aircraft carrier in May 2003, two months after the invasion of Iraq, in which he addressed troops under a banner saying "Mission Accomplished."

Bush has never spent the night in Iraq and like his two previous visits, his most recent trip in September 2007, was kept secret until after his arrival.

The United States insists it does not view Ahmadinejad's two-day trip, which begins on Sunday, as a provocative gesture, but has strongly urged Iraq, which fought an eight-year war with Iran in the 1980s, to use the visit to tell Tehran it must change its behavior.

"We very much would like to see Iran play a positive role in Iraq and obviously, there have been many questions raised by us and the Iraqis about whether their rhetoric of wanting to be good neighbors has actually been matched by their actions," State Department spokesman Tom Casey said.

A senior Bush administration official said Ahmadinejad had always been an "extremely worrisome figure" and there were concerns he could cozy up too much to Iraq's government.

'ILLICIT MEDDLING'

"There is still significant evidence of Iran's illicit meddling in Iraq ... This has to stop," said the official, who spoke on condition he was not identified.

"But it is important to remember that this is a sovereign Iraqi decision (to invite Ahmadinejad) and we have faith that the Iraqis will be able to deal with his visit."

Iran expert Karim Sadjadpour said while Bush's tour was aimed at uniting Arab countries against Iran, Ahmadinejad wanted to show through his high-profile trip to Baghdad that Tehran was a major player and could not be sidelined.

"The U.S. may have hard power in Iraq -- they may have tanks and tens of thousands of soldiers and artillery -- but Iran has soft power and has a lot of political and cultural influence," said Sadjadpour of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a Washington think tank.

Since the United States invaded Iraq in March 2003 and toppled President Saddam Hussein, Iran has been highly critical of the U.S. role, saying it has stirred up violence and made the region less stable.

Washington counters it is Shi'ite Iran that has fomented sectarian bloodshed in Iraq by arming Shi'ite groups. Iran denies the accusations and squarely blames the United States for the turmoil.

While Ahmadinejad hopes for political capital at home from the visit, especially ahead of mid-March parliamentary elections in Iran, analysts said he would not want the Shi'ite-led Iraqi government to be seen as a "lapdog" of Tehran.

"That will create more problems with the neighbors. He will want to show his strength but not be seen as threatening them," said Jon Alterman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank.

The Iraq government is providing security for Ahmadinejad but U.S. officials said Washington obviously would be closely monitoring his movements and wanted to ensure his safety.

The U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Ryan Crocker, has met his Iranian counterpart several times to discuss Iraq security issues but the State Department said there were no plans for him to have any encounters with Ahmadinejad during the visit.

(Editing by Bill Trott)

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Iraq rewards trump risks for job seekers

By BRADLEY BROOKS, Associated Press Writer
1 hour, 17 minutes ago



BAGHDAD - Help wanted: possibly life-threatening risks, little freedom outside work, long hours but competitive pay. Must be willing to relocate to Iraq.


For many around the world, that is the sound of opportunity knocking.

The war in Iraq — nearing the fifth anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion — has focused attention on some modern twists to life in the field, from soldier-bloggers to base coffee shops serving up lattes.

But few are as profound as the rise in military outsourcing.

While the spotlight shines brightest on the private security contractors and the fallout after the Blackwater Worldwide shootings last year, the true face of the war-as-work world is the legions of Iraqis and economic migrants from even poorer nations chasing a chance at a juicier payday.

The Associated Press toured the shops and eateries in Baghdad's fortified Green Zone for a closer look at Iraq's little documented international force: the workers drawn to the war for a chance at profit.

For instance, Pramod Benjamin, a 30-year-old from a family of farmers in the south Indian state of Kerala. He's been in the Green Zone for more than three years making sandwiches at a Subway restaurant.

"I'm happy and I want to stay. I need the money," he said recently as he piled meat on a foot-long bun for an American soldier.

Before he arrived, he made about $270 a month working in Kuwait for Subway. In Baghdad, he makes $900 — and, like most outside workers at U.S. facilities in Iraq, he pays nothing for living quarters and meals.

There are roughly 166,000 coalition troops in Iraq compared with the nearly 161,000 contract workers, according to Central Command.

A late 2007 census of contract workers conducted by U.S. Central Command said 30 percent of those — or 45,500 workers — are "third-country" nationals, meaning neither Iraqi or American. Iraqis make up 53 percent of the total while 17 percent are Americans.

"I'm here so I can make a better life for my family," said Miguel, a Peruvian manning a checkpoint in the Green Zone. "With the money I make here, I might be able to buy a house, maybe start a business back home."

Miguel, who only gave his first name for fear of being fired, makes $1,000 a month. In Peru, he said he would be making half that.

Their willingness to work in a war zone stands in contrast to a near mutiny last year by the U.S. diplomatic corps. The State Department nearly had to force diplomats on threat of dismissal to take posts in Iraq.

The pay may be relatively good, but the risks are real.

At least 1,123 contract workers have died in the nearly five years since the American-led invasion, according to a U.S. Labor Department fourth-quarter report for 2007. That compares with nearly 4,000 deaths among U.S. soldiers in Iraq.

The latest worker known killed was an American working for a New York-based consulting firm, SOS International. Jerome McCauley, 44, of Shawboro, N.C., died after being shot Jan. 31 on the road to Baghdad's airport, once considered the most dangerous stretch of asphalt on the planet, but relatively quiet of late.

In September, private guards working for Blackwater Worldwide, who protect U.S. diplomats, fired into a busy intersection in Baghdad, leaving 17 civilians dead. There have been other deadly incidents.

The dependence on contract labor, analysts say, is in part a response to former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's push for a leaner fighting force. But it is also a result of the particular nature of the Iraq war, where fighting and reconstruction are happening simultaneously; the military simply cannot do both without help.

The Labor Department's death statistics do not give nationality breakdowns and there could be more contract workers killed in Iraq than reported. The count is based on the number of families filing for death benefits, and non-Americans might not routinely submit claims, said Deborah Avant, a professor at the University of California-Irvine and author of the 2005 book "The Market for Force: The Consequences of Privatizing Security."

Hundreds of companies doing business in Iraq depend on third-country nationals for labor. American chains like Subway, Burger King and Pizza Hut have outlets dotted across Iraq, either on military bases or in the Green Zone.

Nearly all checkpoints in the Green Zone are manned by third-country nationals — at the moment mostly Peruvians and Ugandans.

Other such workers cook, clean and do laundry for private companies and the U.S. military.

The Labor Department's statistics do not indicate where the contractors' deaths occurred in Iraq, but most were reported by firms whose employees often work outside the Green Zone, such as translators employed by L-3 Communications Titan Corp. who work with soldiers in the field.

Many Iraqis are also drawn to work in the Green Zone, manning shops that cater to the huge pool of contract laborers who eat rich dishes and hummus in the Freedom Cafe and buy whiskey and beer in the two liquor stores serving the area.

A 23-year-old Baghdad native, who asked that his name not be mentioned for fear for his life, manages one of the Green Zone's tobacco shops, which features five enormous hookahs and a floor-to-ceiling humidor full of Cuban cigars that can fetch $200 a box.

"I can get more money working here and it is worth it, despite the danger," the man, dressed in a tan track suit, said on a recent afternoon.

"I've been working here for a year. My wife and family knows, but I tell my friends I work in a grocery store in Karradah," he said, referring to a Baghdad neighborhood just across the Tigris River from the Green Zone.

With the $500 he makes a month, the man said he is able to support his wife and help his father and brother with food and rent. He works 11 hours a day for two weeks, sleeping in quarters behind the tobacco shop, then heads home outside the Green Zone for two days of rest.

Down the road, bundled up against Iraq's cold winter in khaki military cargo pants, a sweater, thick fleece and a stocking hat, the security contractor Miguel counted off the other benefits as his colleagues inspected cars for bombs or contraband.

"I don't have to pay for food, rent, clothing, nothing," he said, thumbing the M-4 rifle slung low across his chest.

"Third-country nationals see it as a good economic opportunity to go work in Iraq. But the public perception is that the U.S. is sort of paying off these people to do the dirty work," Avant said in a telephone interview.

Benjamin, the Indian sandwich maker, said he works 12 hours a day, seven days a week for a six-month stretch. He then spends 15 days off in Kuwait while his Iraqi visa is renewed.

"About four months ago, a mortar hit about five meters (yards) behind our shop," he said. "I was here, everything shook, and I laid down on the floor.

Another day, about 20 mortars hit nearby. "Bap-bap-bap-bap — everywhere," he said, eyes widening at the memory.

And what about his mother back in India?

"Yes, she is worried, but what to do?" he said. "There are no jobs in India. So I stay here."

___

The Associated Press News Research Center in New York contributed to this report.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Suicide attack kills 25 south of Baghdad on Chehlum Day

10 minutes ago



BAGHDAD - A suicide bomber struck Shiite pilgrims Sunday on a highway south of Baghdad, killing at least 25 people and wounding 20, police said.

The blast occurred in Iskandariyah, police said. The pilgrims were marching south toward Karbala to commemorate Arbaeen, the 40th day following the anniversary of the martyrdom of Imam Hussein, one of two major Shiite figures who is buried in the holy city.

It was the second attack against Shiite pilgrims.

Earlier Sunday, pilgrims were attacked by grenades and small-arms fire in the predominantly Sunni Baghdad neighborhood of Dora, leaving at least three dead and 36 wounded, police said.

Iskandariyah, 30 miles south of the capital, was one of the main cities in an area dubbed the triangle of death for much of the U.S.-led war.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

An interview with Commander of Iraq Islamic Army

For security reasons, most Iraqi resistance commanders refuse to give interviews or to speak to journalists. However Iraq Occupation Times (OT) was able to interview the commander of the Iraq Islamic Army.
--------
IOT: Most resistance commanders in the world used ‘Nome di Guerre’
can we have one to address you properly?
Commander: That is un-necessary.
IOT: Because of the sophisticated ambushes and IED’s atrtributed to your army, is it true that you were a military commander in Saddam’s army specialising in Missile technology?
Commander: The answer to this question isn’t useful.
IOT: When did the Iraq Islamic Army started to operate?
Commander: We formed the army in January 2003 knowing that the Americans will be able to enter Baghdad. We waited for other factions to join in, which delayed our announcement until Bush declared his “mission accomplished” on May 1st.2003.
IOT: The Iraqi resistance is divided between supporters and opponents of Al-Qaeda, which side are you on?
Commander: All our men and women are highly-trained and well-equipped Iraqi patriots fighting to liberate Iraq from the brutal American occupation. Al-Qaeda has an international agenda.
IOT: What other differences do you have with Al-Qaeda?
Commander: Al-Qaeda has admitted making mistakes in Iraq which made them lose support among the people and some of the fighting groups.
IOT: Is it true that you differed with Al-Qaeda on sharing the ammunitions dumps under your control?
Commander: The answer to this question is un-helpful.
IOT: Have your men fought against Al-Qaeda?
Commander: Unfortunately, yes. We don’t want to open new wounds. We ask them to concentrate their attacks on the Americans away from Iraqis who differ with them.
IOT: What is your position with regard to the US-financed and armed Awakening Councils?
Commander: Some of members of the awakening councils are simply traitors who had been working for occupation since they entered Baghdad on April 9, 2003. Others are after some profits even if it comes from the American devils. The use of tribal heads is an old British practice used lately by the Americans. We ask them all to re-awaken as supporting the occupiers may expose them to attacks.
IOT: Who is financing your army?
Commander: Besides being rich, the Iraqis are very generous. He who is ready to sacrifice his life in defence of his country doesn’t refrain from financially supporting our operations.
IOT: Is the formation of a unified resistance council will eventually lead to negotiations with the Americans or laying down your arms?
Commander: The Americans don’t want to negotiate as they have a log-term agenda to colonise Iraq. We will only lay down our arms when the last American, their mercenaries and agents have left Iraq. In today’s Iraq, he who disarms commits suicide.
IOT: But what about reports that your representatives have met with the Americans?
Commander: Because of the secrecy of our organisation, many pretenders are believed by the stupid Americans to represent us.
IOT: Are we correct in assuming that your army is made up exclusively of Sunni Arabs?
Commander: Yes. But we are not against our Shiite brothers who oppose the occupation. We ensure that the Shiites living in areas under our control are safe and well that is, if they don’t work for the Americans or for their client regime.
IOT: What do you intend to do following the end of the occupation?
Commander: Our men are not interested in any reward or official position.
IOT: What do you think of the suggested federal rule in Iraq?
Commander: We don't recognise any government or its legislations while under occupation. The Americans want to fragment Iraq under any pretext. We support Iraq Islamic and Arabic identity and its territorial integrity. All nationalities and ethnic groups will be free to live in peace the way they did prior to the hated American occupation.
Adnan Darwash, Iraq Occupation Times

Friday, February 22, 2008

Maulana Azad - Most Articulate Votary

of Hindu-Muslim Unity
By Firoz Bakht Ahmed

Maulana Azad was not only one of the most articulate votaries of Hindu-Muslim unity but also the only erudite aalim (Islamic scholar) who claimed Quranic sanction for his faith in the unity and the freedom of the nation.

In the Shahjahanabadi old city of Delhi, between the Jama Masjid and the Red Fort, both monuments a reminder of the glory of the Mughal era, a green and glossy patch covers an area where once stood the houses of the Muslim nobility. They were levelled after the Indian revolt against the British in 1857.

Near the mosque, and above the level of the crowded new bazaar, a red sandstone wall encloses a garden in which a tomb of simple dignity marks the resting place of a man born in Mecca on Nov 11, 1888, and who died in New Delhi on Feb 22, 1958 - Mohiuddin Ahmed, better known as Maulana Abul Kalam Azad.

On this occasion, one is reminded of this 'modern' Maulana who asked Indians to inculcate in their lives the culture of the holy Quran on the one hand and that of the gracious Gita in the other.

Maulana Abul Kalam Azad is, by any reckoning, a major figure in 20th century India. He was a scholar thoroughly trained in the traditional Islamic sciences, with great intellectual abilities and eloquence of pen and speech. He had, in addition, a remarkable openness to modern Western knowledge even as he opposed Western rule over India.

Born in a predominantly Hindu environment, the Maulana was bold enough to propagate nationalism to Muslims at variance with the prevalent political consciousness based on communalised politics. The Maulana coalesced the Vedantic vision of many parts of truth with the Islamic doctrines of Wahdat-e-Deen (unity of religion) and Sulah-e-Kul (universal peace).

He made a lasting contribution to Urdu prose literature with his translation and interpretation of the Qur'an - the "Tarjuman-ul-Quran". The intellectual history of Islam in India has long been described in terms of two contrasting currents: the one tending towards confrontation, the other towards assimilation with the Hindu milieu.

Maulana Azad believed in the ecumenist and eclectic approach leading towards syncretic existence.

Maulana Azad earned a reputation for 'absolute impartiality' and 'unimpeachable integrity' which served him well, particularly in the years after independence.

The major concern of the Maulana's life was the revival and reform of the Indian Muslims in all spheres of life, and his political hopes for them were within this context.

For any such reform, he realised the key position of the ulema and of the traditional educational system which produces them. This was why he pinned his early hopes on the Nadwat ul-Ulema under the leadership of Shibli. Such was the Maulana's vision concerning matters internal to the Muslim community.

As far as relations with others were concerned, we have seen that he never questioned the fact that being Muslim in India meant living with non-Muslims in common citizenship.

He had never contemplated any other political possibility.

When incidents of communal strife in the 1920s threatened Hindu-Muslim unity, and then in the 1930s and 40s the movement for Pakistan gathered strength, his spirit rebelled against those trends.

Fungi thrive in certain cultures. Factionalism percolates in an unequal and hierarchical society with each individual struggling for a tiny sliver of the economic cake. Discontent, us-and-them divisions, mutual disregard and open suspicion proliferate every pore of our body politic. However, the likes of the Maulana, Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru strived to make India socially united.

Before partition, social cohesion was an inseparable component of Gandhi's Hind Swaraj and Nehru's Fabian Socialism and Maulana Azad's Wahdat-e-Deen. For these leaders, independent rulers of India would enjoy no legitimacy without a measure of shared opportunity, prosperity, equality and distributive justice.

In his presidential address to the Congress in 1923, he said that the ability of Hindus and Muslims "to live together was essential to primary principles of humanity within ourselves".

Almost twenty years later, when he again addressed Congress from the presidential chair, he repeated this absolutely fundamental premise: "I am a Muslim and profoundly conscious of that fact that I have inherited Islam's glorious tradition of the last thirteen hundred years.

"I am not prepared to lose even a small part of that legacy. The history and teachings of Islam, its art and letters, its cultural and civilization are part of my wealth and it is my duty to cherish and guard them... But, with all these feelings, I have another equally deep realization born out of my life's experience, which is strengthened and not hindered by the Islamic spirit.

"I am equally proud of the fact that I am an Indian, an essential part of the indivisible unity of Indian nationhood, a vital factor in its total makeup, without which this noble edifice will remain incomplete. I can never give up this sincere claim..."

Are we following in the footsteps of Maulana Azad, is a question that all of us should ask ourselves!

(Firoz Bakht Ahmed is a commentator on social and educational issues. He can be reached at firozbakht@rediffmail.com.)

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Sadr's Militia Enforces Cease-Fire With a Deadly Purge

BAGHDAD -- The Mahdi Army fighters recalled dragging the 25-year-old man into a dark house where, while verses were chanted from the Koran, he was hanged from a hook in the ceiling.

The execution, carried out last month by Iraq's largest Shiite militia, would have been unexceptional but for one fact: The victim was one of its own.

The man, a Mahdi Army commander whose nom de guerre was Hamza, had killed and kidnapped scores of people despite what was then a five-month-old order to militia members to lay down their weapons, group leaders said. So after Hamza confessed to his crimes during repeated interrogations, a three-page death sentence was issued by the office of the militia's leader, anti-American cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, they said.

"We were ordered to eliminate him and we did," said Mohammed Ali, 24, a commander of the militia in the Sholeh neighborhood who took part in the operation and described how it took place. "This is how we have been cleaning the Mahdi Army."

Hundreds of Mahdi Army members have been similarly executed, jailed or excommunicated by the militia since the freeze was ordered by Sadr in late August, part of a nationwide reorganization that has dramatically altered the group's public image in Iraq and has been a crucial reason for the recent downturn in violence, according to senior militia leaders and U.S. officials.

The purge has boosted Sadr's reputation -- particularly among American commanders who once considered him an enemy but now refer to him respectfully -- while also helping Sadr exert more control over his sprawling irregular army. At the same time, members say, the freeze has made the Sadrist movement more vulnerable to attacks and repression by rival Shiite groups.

Sadr is expected to announce by Saturday whether the freeze will be extended, his aides said. But interviews with more than a dozen leaders of the Sadrist movement suggest that whether or not it is continued, the freeze has already transformed the militia and its place in Iraqi society.

"The freeze brought many secrets to the surface," said Ahmed Abdul Hussein, 33, a Mahdi Army leader from Sadr City, a vast Shiite district of Baghdad. "Now we know who is good and who is bad. Now everyone thinks of the Mahdi Army in a new light. I think everything will be different now."

Last summer, Mahdi Army members were widely viewed as having carried out some of the most vicious violence against Sunnis, pushing the country to the brink of civil war. The militia clashed often with U.S. and British forces.

The militia's public image reached its nadir when more than 50 people were killed in the holy city of Karbala because of fierce fighting between the Mahdi Army and forces loyal to its chief Shiite political rival, the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq. The next day, on Aug. 29, Sadr declared a six-month suspension of the militia's operations.

Sadr's office said at the time that the aim of the freeze was to push out elements not under the cleric's control.

"The freeze has helped us to distinguish and push out the bad figures," said Salah al-Obaidi, a top Sadr aide, who added that the militia now has more than 100,000 followers.

Abu Jaffar, 31, a day laborer from the Shaab area of Baghdad, was one of those purged, according to current Mahdi Army members.

Shortly after the freeze was declared, Abu Jaffar said in a telephone interview, he received a summons from a Mahdi Army unit known as the Golden Battalion, often described as an intelligence service that maintains internal discipline. Abu Jaffar said the battalion members blamed him for allowing the 100 or so men under his command to commit crimes against civilians.

"They came to me and said, 'Why didn't you know about the mistakes of your people when you are the commander of this company?' " said Abu Jaffar, who, like others interviewed for this article, would not give his full name for fear that it would lead to his arrest by U.S. or Iraqi forces. "They said, 'You are not capable to command.' And because of that I was fired."

Abu Jaffar said he learned that his men had kidnapped and fought with people, though he declined to give details and said he had no knowledge of their actions. Other Mahdi Army leaders, however, said that the company was also linked to killings of civilians and that Abu Jaffar was aware they were taking place.

"The Mahdi Army was strict with me because it is controlled by a strict law," Abu Jaffar said. "It doesn't permit any mistakes."

Signs of the purge dot the sewer-filled streets of Sadr City, which the Mahdi Army controls.

During some Friday afternoon prayers, the names of those expelled from the militia are read aloud. Many of those identified flee their neighborhoods and sometimes the country to avoid punishment.

Some walls bear posters announcing who has been purged and why, though these are often quickly ripped down by friends and family members of the accused.

One flier, addressed to "All Mahdi Army Members" from the militia's Baghdad Battalion, reported the firing of one member because of his "immoral actions" and "use of the blessed name of the army to loot, kidnap and bargain."

Elegant calligraphy at the top of the flier read: "Lions in the day and priests in the night."

In many Sadrist strongholds, the militia's focus has shifted from militancy to providing services to residents, as the Mahdi Army continues recasting itself as a political and social force.

On a recent afternoon at the main Sadr office in Sadr City, a woman dressed in a black head-to-toe abaya arrived and began explaining that her husband was beating her.

"I have problems!" wailed the woman, who gave her name as Um Mohammed. "I need the help of the Sadr office."

After about 15 minutes, an official scribbled a note requesting that her husband come to the office for mediation.

"We solve hundreds of problems like this," said the official, Abu Haider. "This is what the Mahdi Army is doing now."

But many residents grumble that robberies, car thefts and other crimes in some parts of the city have gone up since the militia was ordered to lay down its weapons. And in southern Iraq, Sadrists have complained that they have been victimized by rival forces, leading many to demand that the freeze be lifted.

Amar Jabar Saadoon, 35, a Karbala resident who fled to Sadr City, said security forces linked to the armed wing of the Supreme Council destroyed his house and threatened his family.

"We pray to God that the freeze will end soon," he said.

U.S. military commanders, who have fought some of their bloodiest battles of the war against the militia, now praise Sadr and say the Mahdi Army is no longer participating in violence. Anyone disobeying the freeze, they say, cannot be a member in good standing of the militia. The military refers to splinter elements as "special groups" and links them primarily to Iran.

U.S. officials and some Mahdi Army members view the freeze as Sadr's attempt to cleanse Iranian elements from the militia.

"They said, 'Look, we have two foreign influences that are battling for control of Iraq: Iran and the American occupation,' " said a senior U.S. Embassy official, who spoke on condition of anonymity under diplomatic ground rules. " 'And of the two, we need to be more concerned with Iran. We can deal with the U.S. politically and they are going to withdraw soon anyways.' "

Although American officials say they do not have direct contact with Sadr, they convey messages to him through intermediaries and have publicly flattered him.

The commander of U.S. troops in Baghdad, Maj. Gen. Jeffery W. Hammond, whose soldiers were killed in fighting with the Mahdi Army during his first tour in Iraq, now refers to the militia's leader as "the honorable Moqtada al-Sadr."

"His decision to order the freeze has been a most honorable decision," Hammond said.

Sunni leaders, who as recently as last year were accusing Mahdi Army members of sectarian cleansing, said the freeze has ended most of the horrific violence by the militia. "We are not afraid of them now," Tariq al-Hashimi, a Sunni and one of the country's two vice presidents, said in an interview. "Now we don't have eye-catching sectarian strife."

But there are still areas where men professing to be Mahdi Army members continue to engage in sectarian violence.

In December, a dozen Mahdi Army fighters on motorcycles stormed into an ice factory in the capital's Tobji neighborhood and kidnapped its Sunni owner, Maath Salman Feneer, a 30-year-old with three children, according to his family.

When the family complained to the Sadr office in Tobji, officials there said the attack had been carried out by Mahdi Army fighters in the neighboring Hurriyah area, according to Feneer's cousin, Ahmed Abdullah. He said the office in Tobji told the kidnappers to return Feneer or a complaint would be made to the main Sadr office in Najaf.

In discussions with the family about a ransom, the kidnappers disregarded the threat and used an expletive to refer to Sadr. "We don't take orders from anyone," they said, Abdullah recalled. His cousin's bullet-riddled body was found a few days later.

"I don't trust anyone in the Mahdi Army," said Abdullah, 37, a plumbing store owner. "They are all killers."

At the Sadr office in Sadr City, Salman al-Fareji, the local head of the organization, disagreed. "The main reason for the freeze is to save the Iraqi blood," he said. "This is our goal. This is our brightest hope."

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Al-Sadr threatens to end cease-fire

By QASSIM ABDUL-ZAHRA, Associated Press Writer
45 minutes ago



BAGHDAD - Anti-U.S. cleric Muqtada al-Sadr threatened to lift a six-month cease-fire by the end of the week, officials said Wednesday — a move that could send his Shiite militia fighters back out on the streets and jeopardize recent security gains that have led to a sharp decline in violence.


Iraqi police, meanwhile, held funerals Wednesday for 14 officers killed the night before as they responded to a rocket attack launched from a predominantly Shiite neighborhood against U.S. bases in the capital.

In a separate attack, three American troops were killed by a roadside bomb Tuesday night in northwestern Baghdad, the U.S. military said. Their names were not released.

Al-Sadr's Shiite Mahdi Army is among the most powerful militias in Iraq, and the cease-fire he ordered last August has been credited with helping reduce violence around Iraq by 60 percent or more in the past six months.

Sheik Salah al-Obeidi, a spokesman for al-Sadr in the Shiite holy city of Najaf, said that if the cleric failed to issue a statement by Saturday saying that the cease-fire was extended, "then that means the freeze is over." Al-Sadr's followers would be free to resume attacks.

Al-Obeidi said that message "has been conveyed to all Mahdi Army members nationwide."

The threat was confirmed by another al-Sadr official, who asked not to be named because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

The U.S. military has welcomed the cease-fire, saying it is a major factor in the sharp decline in violence. But it has insisted on continuing to stage raids against what it calls Iranian-backed breakaway factions of the Mahdi Army militia — moved that have angered the cleric's followers.

Influential members of al-Sadr's movement said earlier this month they had urged the radical cleric to call off the cease-fire, which was initially set to expire at the end of the month.

Al-Sadr's followers have claimed the U.S.-Iraqi raids, particularly in the southern Shiite cities of Diwaniyah, Basra and Karbala, are a pretext to crack down on the wider movement, which has pulled its support for the Washington-backed government.

No one has claimed responsibility for Tuesday's rocket attack, the second in as many days, but in both cases the explosives apparently were launched from Shiite militia strongholds in the capital, underscoring the fragility of the truce.

The blast that killed the Iraqis occurred after police, acting on a tip, discovered rockets primed for firing behind a deserted ice factory.

A band played Wednesday as four pick-up trucks carried the coffins of the slain police in a slow-moving funeral procession. Interior Minister Jawad al-Bolani walked with other officials at the back of the line.

Brig. Gen. Jihad al-Jubouri, head of the anti-bombing squad at the Interior Ministry, said the blast killed 11 bomb experts and three other officers.

A dust storm that has gripped much of Iraq for the last two days kept police from identifying a booby trap that set off the initial explosion, he said. The storms, which shut down the capital's airport and sent dozens of Baghdad residents to hospitals with breathing difficulties, were expected to abate Thursday.

Officials had initially said that as many as 15 police were slain and up to 27 wounded.

Four U.S. soldiers were wounded in Tuesday's rocket attack against their outposts in the capital, the military said.

On Monday, a rocket volley landed on an Iraqi housing complex near the Baghdad international airport and a nearby U.S. military base, killing at least five people and wounding 16, including two U.S. soldiers, officials said.

The attacks have been among the most intense to strike the capital in weeks as violence has declined sharply with an influx of some 30,000 U.S. troops, a Sunni revolt against al-Qaida in Iraq and al-Sadr's cease-fire.

In yet more violence, Samir al-Attar, deputy minister of Iraq's Ministry of Science and Technology, was wounded Wednesday when two roadside bombs detonated near his convoy about a minute apart as he was driving through Baghdad, according to police and ministry officials. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't allowed to release the information.

___

Associated Press writer Sinan Salaheddin contributed to this report.

Monday, February 18, 2008

The idea of high buildings can be traced to many centuries

۱۳۸۶/۱۱/۳۰

The idea of high buildings can be traced to many centuries ago when monarchs built, fortresses on elevated hill-tops, from where they could keep the surrounding areas under surveillance. Such a building was also useful for the deference of the city. Ancient fortresses overlooking a vast expanse of land are historical examples that are found in abundance in most countries.
High Buildings in Pre-Islamic Period:

One of the most glamorous citadels, still extand in the south-west of Iran (Province of Khouzestan), is Chogha Zanbil Ziggurat which was built by the Elamite Empire in 1250 BCE. This temple was built in the shape of a stepped pyramid, originally having five stories. Remain of the building has a high of 25 meters though it is believed that the building was initially 50 meters high.
During the Median Empire, residential houses were often built in the low lands whereas the uplands were designated for the royal palaces. The most notable among high buildings remaining from that period are the ones situated on hill-tops in an ancient town called Noushijan.
Other is the tombs of the famous persons built on top of Davood Akhtar Mountains.

The era of the Achaemenids gave rise to newer forms of high buildings such as Pasargade, Persepolis, Zoroasstrian temples and some kinds of minarets that were erected for the purpose of making public announcements. The Parthians revived the architectural glamour of the latter dynasty. Roadside minarets, Fire altars, Zahak citadel, Anahita temple are among the major buildings remaining from the Parthian period.

Among the Sassanid high buildings Taqe-Kasra stands out as most notable. In addition, there were many fire-temples in the provinces like Khorasan, Isfahan and Azarbaijan. Fortresses constructed on hill-tops are among other examples of the Sassanid buildings.

Islamic era:

Basically, a minaret is a slender tower built at the side of a mosque from which the call to prayer is given for Muslims. The tall structures built on roadsides or near caravansaries, schools, or other gathering places were originally watch-towers that also provided lighting for the surrounding areas.
The construction of minaret in its present form was first introduced during the reign of the Ommayad caliphs. The earliest minaret is thought to have been built in late 7th century CE.

In Iran, Minarets first appeared in the form of simple guiding poles near the mosques before being developed into elaborate structures flanking mosques and the entrance of monumental buildings. The minaret of Shoushtar Jame mosque built in the early 8th century CE is among the first minarets erected in Iran following the advent of Islam. In the 8th century CE minarets were made with mud-bricks. It was not until the 9th century CE that the first brick-made minaret was built.

In addition to the minarets of Shoush, Damghan and Qom, we may make a mention of Isfahan's Jourjir mosque minaret which was built in the late 10th century CE. Presumably, the oldest brick-work minaret is the one made 26 Km from the city of Mashhad during the rule of Soltan Mahmoud Ghaznavi (998–1030 CE).
The Seljuq period is particularly noteworthy in the development of architectural arts in Iran, especially with respect to minarets. The minarets also rose at the sides of government building; in the city of Kashan may be cited as outstanding examples. Red mosque in Saveh (built in 1087 CE) is regarded as a Seljuq monumental building.

In the eras of the Moguls, Timurids and Safavids, also mosques and shrines with towering minarets in large numbers were built. There is a famous minaret in Mashhad's Goharshad mosque which belongs to the Timurid period.The Safavids period is known as the golden age of the Iranian architectural arts. Minarets were decorated with colored faience and patterned tiles. The Imam mosque, Chahar Bagh building and Shah Mosque in Isfahan display the most elegant minarets of the era.

With the fall of the Safavids and the emergence of the Qajar dynasty Iranian architecture witnessed a decline and the number of minarets built or repaired in that period is insignificant.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

"40 Soldiers" Depicts Persian Mythological Characters Overcoming American Occupation of Iran

December 2007 Clip No. 1681

Iranian TV Series "40 Soldiers" Depicts Persian Mythological Characters Overcoming American Occupation of Iran

The 28-episode series, "40 Soldiers," examines the development of Iranian culture from four historical perspectives: The mythological pre-Islamic period, the life of national poet Hakim Abol-Qasem Ferdowsi Tusi (935-1020 CE), the life of Imam Ali, and the modern era.

The last four episodes of the series take place on an island in the southern Persian Gulf at some unspecified time in the future, when Americans occupy an Iranian island. These episodes were aired on Iranian Channel 2 in December 2007.

Dr. Mohsen Tabesh, an Iranian bank manager, decides to wed his daughter, Pantea, to the son of Farid Memarian, a lecturer on modernization and a newspaper editor. During the wedding ceremony, Tabesh’s security guards betray him and rob the participants.

The Americans use this opportunity to invade the island on which the wedding ceremony is held.

Following are excerpts from the episodes.

"An Island in the Persian Gulf – Sometime in the Future"

An elderly man beats a drum on the seacoast

[...]

U.S. Commanding Officer Isaac Hamilton to soldiers: Faster. Hurry up.

Akbar Kebraye'i, a sugar merchant: What's going on here?

[...]

Hamilton surveys devastated wedding hall. Several Iranians remain in hiding. The bride is sprawled on the floor

[...]

Hamilton: Who is he? Ahmad-Abadi?

Farid Memarian, a lecturer: Yes, Mr. Ahmad-Abadi.

Hamilton threatens Kebraye'i with a gun to his forehead, then introduces himself.

Hamilton: Hamilton. Isaac Hamilton.

Memarian (to Kebraye’i): Introduce yourself. Tell him your name.

Kebraye'i: Kebraye'i.

Hamilton: Kebraye'i?

Kebraye'i: Yes, mister. You pronounced it correctly. I am Akbar Kebraye'i.

Memarian: I am Memarian. My name in Farid Memarian.

Hamilton: Memarian?

Memarian: That's right. His name is Tabesh, Dr. Tabesh.

Hamilton: Tabesh?

Mohsen Tabesh, a bank manager Yes, Mohsen Tabesh.

[...]

Hamilton places candles around the unconscious bride.

Hamilton: Hello, little Alice. Open your eyes for me. Come on, sleeping beauty. What's your name? Would you tell it to me?

Memarian: Her name is Pantea.

Hamilton: Pantea?

Memarian: Pantea.

Hamilton: Very nice. Beautiful.

Pantea the bride opens her eyes.

Memarian: Don't worry, my dear. They are our friends. The nightmare is over.

Pantea: Mother... I'm awake...

Memarian: Everybody is fine. Don't worry. We stayed here for you. These are our friends. They are not strangers. You can believe me, my dear.

[...]

Kebraye'i (to himself): Where did they pop up from, all of a sudden? Or, in fact, is there a place where they are not to be found? If you close your eyes, and put your finger randomly on a map of the world, you'll see that they know every inch of land better than the locals. You don't think so? Take a look...

Kebraye’i (to one of the U.S. soldiers): What is the size of this island in kilometers, mister?

Soldier:110.

Kebraye'i: What did he say?

Memarian: He said 110 kilometers.

[...]

Hamilton: Mister Memarian.

Memarian: Yes, sir.

Hamilton: Are you the father of the bride?

Memarian: Yes, sir.

Hamilton: Where is the groom?

Kebraye'i: The groom? The groom – he did a runner.

Hamilton: He did what?

Memarian: He's gone, sir. Gone.

Hamilton: May this young pretty lady be mine for some time?

Memarian: What?

Hamilton: Didn't you get it? I said: May this young pretty lady be mine for some time?

[...]

Memarian: I don't speak English so well.

Hamilton: Don't you worry. Farsi will do too.

Memarian: Do you know what the word "surprise" means? I was taken by surprise. I can't think so clearly.

Hamilton: The island has been occupied by us.

Memarian: No!

Hamilton: Yes.

Memarian: They have occupied the island. What should we do, Mr. Kebraye'i? Mr. Tabesh?

[...]

Hamilton: Get her for me.

Memarian: Mr. Hamilton...

[...]

Pantea: Father.

Memarian: Don't be afraid, don't worry at all. As long as I'm here, you have no need to worry.

[...]

Pantea: Help!

Several U.S. soldiers chase Pantea, pointing guns at her.

Pantea: Father... Mr. Tabesh... Mr. Kebraye'i....

Kebraye'i: They're just having a laugh with you. They don't mean any harm.

Hamilton raises blinds revealing Persian artwork.

Pantea: Mr. Kebraye'i, help me.

Kebraye'i: Such behavior is unbecoming for an educated girl like yourself, Pantea.

Pantea: I am doomed. Do something.

Mr. Tabesh: Stop, we are friends, stop.

U.S. soldier pushes Mr. Tabesh over a table. Pantea hides behind her father, Memarian.

Memarian: I am against aggression. I detest aggression. We can resolve this issue by...

The soldier butts his rifle into Memarian, throwing him at a table.

Pantea: Help me, Mr. Kebraye'i.

Kebraye'i: Such behavior is unbecoming for a smart girl like you.

Pantea: I'm doomed. Help me.

Kebraye'i: Oh what a night – It's a night of nuptials. Take a look at the bridegroom – how handsome he is. Blessings upon the bride and bridegroom...

Narrator: Five bullets for five invading soldiers.

The soldiers are shot at from outside. Two members of the Islamic resistance, Omid and his wife Zahra, enter with guns in their hands.

Omid: Nobody move!

Zahra grabs Pantea.

Zahra (to Pantea): Calm down.

Omid holds Hamilton at gun point

Omid: What are you doing here?

Hamilton: No.

Omid: Talk!

Hamilton: No.

Omid: I asked what you are doing here.

Omid punches Hamilton.

Memarian: You are acting recklessly. This is reckless behavior. You turned a simple problem, which could easily have been resolved through dialogue, into an irresolvable problem.

Omid: Take his gun, and give it to me. I said: Take his gun, and give it to me.

Zahra: Calm down.

Kebraye'i: Don't shoot, my son. They are not merely bad weeds that you can remove. Do you know who they are? Even their dogs have I.D. cards, let along themselves. He killed five young men, just like that.

[...]

The member of the Islamic resistance takes the weapons of the dead U.S. soldiers and hands one to Mr. Tabesh.

Member of the resistance: We must defend ourselves.

Mr. Tabesh: Don't make things more complicated than they already are, and don't pretend to be a guerrilla fighter. We've been humiliated enough already.

Omid: These people have occupied the entire island. "Oh my Iran, my Iran, you are dearer to me than life itself." Wasn't it you who chanted that poem?

Kebraye'i: Not me. I've got to go somewhere really urgently.

Hamilton grabs free of Memarian's hold and hits him. Zahra shoots at Hamilton.

Kebraye'i: Help!

Omid points a gun at Hamilton

Omid: Get back to your place. I told you to go back to your place.

Memarian (to Hamilton): Sit down.

[...]

Omid ties Hamilton to a chair

Omid: You have not yet said what you are doing here. Did you think that we are like Iraq or Afghanistan, and that you could come into the country, and achieve your goals easily? Do you want me to tell you what you are doing here? You are here because of your complexes. You're running away by moving ahead. You occupy [countries], and plunder them, so that nobody will complain about your own cultural emptiness. Isn't that true? Everybody can see that this pointless invasion is a reflection of your complexes.

Hamilton laughs. Explosions and gunshots are heard in the background

Hamilton: Meaningless. Quite meaningless. It's meaningless. Meaningless.

[...]

Zahra: You weaved a web of lies, and you expect the people of the world to believe you. The greater the lie, the more useful it is. In the name of human rights and democracy, you are trying to achieve your goals. Your lack of culture is your weakness. Your problem is that you don't have a history. True, you are rich, but despite all your riches, your identity wouldn't even fill a suitcase. You perpetrate acts of murder and looting and you kill human beings in order to compensate for your weakness.

Hamilton: Shut up, you fool.

[...]

Memarian: Their technology is their history. Their identity is their money, their wealth, and their atomic bombs.

[...]

Omid: We need help, real help. Can you go and get help?

Zahra: I never thought there was so much hatred and violence in me. What am I doing with these weapons? Doesn't that go against my feminine nature, Omid?

Omid: Look at Pantea. What happened to her is the result of inaction – both ours and hers.

Zahra: God, what kind of disaster has befallen us?

Hamilton: I like it. You are a brave couple.

Kebraye'i: He spoke in Farsi.

Kebraye'i lights a cigarette for Hamilton.

Omid: So you know Farsi too.

Kebraye'i: Didn't I tell you that they are a different kind of creature? If you place your finger at random on a map of the world, you will find that they know everything there is to know about that place. Farsi is nothing – they speak French, English, and everything...

[...]

Memarian: I myself have no dispute with you. I totally understand your situation. I have often held dialogues with your colleagues. I have written treatises with them, and I have delivered lectures. Here in Iran, I am a thinker. I am a teacher, and I navigate political and economic crises. My friends call the "non-conformist" – maybe because I insist on defying the norms. I am sure that we understand each other very well. What do you want, after all? Security. We can work together. You provide us with security, and we will support you.

[...]

Zahra: Pantea!

The wedding hall comes under attack from the outside, Pantea stands upright in the line of fire and sustains a wound.

Memarian: Pantea!

Zahra: Pantea!

Memarian: Pantea, what are you doing? Pantea, where are you going?

Zahra: Pantea!

Kebraye'i: Come back. Come back.

Memarian: Damn you!

Zahra: Pantea!

Zahra sets out to save Pantea, but she herself falls down. Omid comes to the rescue.

Omid: Pantea!

Hamilton: No!

Pantea is mortally wounded

Memarian: I'm out of here. I'm not staying here.

Kebraye'i: If we are safe outside, I'm going out too.

Memarian, Kebraye'i, and Tabesh, run out of the hall but meet a barrage of fire and return.

Kebraye'i: They have taken control everywhere.

Memarian: We couldn't get out and negotiate with them.

[...]

Omid: We need to get help, no matter what. How – I don't know.

Zahra: God, how could we be so careless? When did they plan this, and when did they take action?

Omid: Throughout the time that we didn't do anything.

[...]

Kebraye'i, Tabesh, and Hamilton direct their weapons at Omid.

[...]

Memarian: Throw down your weapon. Put it aside. Get out.

Omid puts down his weapon.

Memarian: When you two weren't here, we made new decisions. Did you hear what I said? When you two weren't here, we made new decisions.

Omid: Yes, I see.

[...]

You are a prisoner of your own words, and you are a prisoner here too.

Memarian: I am free, can't you see?

It is you who are a prisoner, yet you pretend to be Che Guevara.

Kebraye'i: If we had their money and power, we would have been acting the same way.

[...]

Tabesh: I know that it seems as they are attacking, occupying, and plundering, but one can look at it differently. Do you have any money? No. Do you have any power? No. Do you have science, technology, and management abilities? No. When you lack all these things – what's wrong with relying on people who have all those things?

[...]

Hamilton: You smell like a coffin – a disintegrating coffin with a rotting corpse in it. All this wealth of yours... You see them – Mr. Tabesh, Memarian and Mr. Kebraye'i – they are willing to nail you to the wall at my command. I lack identity? I lack history? Didn't I say that you smell like a coffin?

Omid: My coffin is large enough for another corpse.

Hamilton: You are making an effort for nothing. Why were you incapable of killing me? Because you consider me a PoW. You could have negotiated with me. Do you know what there is beyond these walls? A military force that is like a fist encompassing you and all you have. Even if you had killed me, you would still have remained a prisoner of that force.

[...]

U.S. soldiers lead Kebraye'i, Memarian, and Tabesh out of the hall at gunpoint.

Kebraye'i: I can help you. Let's talk about it.

[...]

Omid is tied to a pole

Hamilton: It's just you and me now. Now you can start with your bravado again. I don't see your wife. Where did you send her?

Omid: She went to get help.

Hamilton: Help? Help... Where did you go to get help from? The island is under our control. Where will she get help from?

Omid: From a place where you have no foothold.

Hamilton: From where?

Omid: From near and far.

Hamilton: Don't move much, or else 220 volts might hit your body. So you think we suffer from a lack of history and identity?

Omid: Isn't that true?

Hamilton: Maybe it is, and maybe it isn't.

[...]

We have things that the coming generations will not even dream of. Fine, you have your history, your identity, your myths, your decorated tiles, your domes, and even the historic sites of Minar Jonban and Takht-e Jamshid. But this island belongs to me.

Omid: Hamilton! Hamilton! Listen, the things you mentioned are our identity, yet they are not. Hamilton! Hamilton!

[...]

We have Ali and Hussein, and you don't. Listen up, Hamilton. We have martyrs, and you don't. We have [the courageous] Malek-e Ashtar, and you don't. Hamilton! Hamilton!

[...]

U.S. soldiers enter the wedding hall.

Omid: Hamilton! Hamilton! Should I go on? We have Khomeini, and you don't. We have the Basij members, and you don't. We have the Mahdi, and you don't. We have Fatimah, and don't.

The gun of a tank is driven through the walls.

[...]

Omid's wife, Zahra: I had no choice but to leave the island and to go somewhere else – to a place where I can ask for help from anybody who has a sense of brotherhood with Iran and the Iranians. Woe betide my homeland. I fear the day the enemies will covet and conquer you.

She gets on an amphibious vehicle and escapes into the darkness of the ocean.

Hamilton: Fire!

Fire!

Fire!

Fire!

Fire!

Get her! Get her, I want her. Don't let her escape.

[...]

Zahra: Beyond the roars of those who consider themselves to be masters of the world, there are barefoot people, who, like Moses, will bring about the breakdown of Pharaoh's power of steel, and will cast him into the sea. Men from among the nation, on their way to liberate their homeland and their faith, smile in the face of death. These are the anonymous sons of Iran, who make no demands.

[...]

Hamilton: My soldiers!

The soldiers march off.

More killing, more blood. Is there anything more pleasurable than that? Whoever seeks pleasure in song, wine, lust, and riches is lazy. My pleasure and yours lie in watching an old culture fall apart.

[...]

The U.S. soldiers perform a drilling exercise

Hamilton: To whom does the world belong?

U.S. soldiers : The world belongs to us.

Hamilton: To whom does the world belong?

U.S. soldiers: The world belongs to us.

Hamilton: We are the masters of the world.

U.S. soldiers: We are the masters of the world.

Hamilton: We are the masters of the world.

U.S. soldiers: We are the masters of the world.

Hamilton: We are the masters of the world.

U.S. soldiers: We are the masters of the world.

Hamilton: Say it.

U.S. soldiers: We are the masters of the world.

[...]

As the elderly man beats the drum on the seacoast, Iranian forces run to battle.

[...]

Hamilton: We are now facing several battalions that have united against us. The stench of their antiquity assaults our sense of smell.

[...]

The elderly man beats his drum on a cliff on the seacoast. The Iranian forces march from the coast.

Iranian forces: Oh, Mahdi!

Oh, Mahdi!

Oh, Mahdi!

Oh, Mahdi!

Oh, Mahdi!

[...]

Hamilton: My soldiers, have fun.

U.S. soldiers: We will have fun.

Officer: Say it.

U.S. soldiers: We will have fun.

Officer: Say it.

U.S. soldiers: We will have fun.

Officer: Say it.

U.S. soldiers: We will have fun.

The Iranian forces march through a forest

Iranian forces: Oh, Mahdi.

[...]

Commander of Iranian forces: My dears, we were careless, and they used it to occupy this island. However, our carelessness could be the beginning, not the end, of the road.

Hamilton addresses his troops; characters from Iranian history face them.

Hamilton: My soldiers, victory will be yours. There is no doubt about it. Our children will be proud of you. Kill more and more, because our survival depends on your ability to finish off these lowlifes. In order to be able to face us, they brought their history and identity to the fray. In order to remain masters of the world, we have destroyed many a culture. They had the audacity will cause others to summon their destroyed cultures too. In order to become complete masters of the world, we must destroy them too, if you want to grab the world in your fist. We will have respect for them once they are dead. We will have respect for them once they are dead.

U.S. soldiers: We will have respect for them once they are dead.

Hamilton: The world belongs to us.

U.S. soldiers: The world belongs to us.

Hamilton: Well done, my brave soldiers. The world will be proud of you. Kill those morons who are held captive by their past. By killing each one of them you remove another obstacle from the path of humanity. Humanity will owe you a debt of gratitude. You are the architects of our outstanding culture – the culture of world domination. They are the only ones who reject our domination.

[...]

Hamilton: We are not like Genghis Khan.

U.S. soldiers: We are not like Genghis Khan.

Hamilton: We are not like Genghis Khan.

U.S. soldiers: We are not like Genghis Khan.

Hamilton: We are the friends of humanity.

U.S. soldiers: We are not like Genghis Khan.

[...]

Hamilton fires his handgun at the characters from Iranian history, but the bullets have no effect on them.

Hamilton: First four soldiers prepare to fire.

Fire!

They open fire, but again, the bullets have no effect on their adversaries.

Hamilton: Prepare to open fire!

Fire!

All the soldiers open fire, to no avail.

[...]

The characters from Iranian history charge towards the U.S. soldiers, on horseback. The soldiers begin to scatter.

Hamilton: Where are you going? Come back, you stupid cowards. Stop, don't go. Where are you going, you idiots? Don't go, you cowards. Stop, where are you going? Don't be afraid.

[...]

Hamilton is left alone and escapes to a cave. He opens fire all in every direction.

Hamilton: Ahoy, where are you? We are the epitome of power. We are the supreme race. We are the sole and absolute masters of the world. You're no match for us, you lowlifes.

[...]

This is me – the god of technology, the god of civilization.

Malek Ashtar: I am Malek Ashtar, the source of purity and bravery.

Abu Raf'e: And I am Abu Raf'e, the slave freed by the Messenger of Allah. Wherever there is injustice, we will do whatever needed.

Hamilton tries to shoot at them but they remain unaffected.

Rostam: You call us lowlifes, you rootless man? Get out of our land!

Sohrab: Didn't you hear what my father said? Get out of our land!

Rostam: If you keep on killing and killing, you will be giving up the land to your enemies.

Commander of the Iranian forces: You have come to this island from the other side of the world to say that you are the epitome of power, the supreme race, and the absolute master of the world. Do you want to know who is the epitome of power?

[...]

Esfandyar: You have said many things, stranger. Stay here, and witness the courage of the people of Iran.

Hamilton is surrounded, the elderly man beats his drums, the scene ends with the image of the Iranian flag.

Friday, February 15, 2008

A RELIGIOUS CHALLENGE TO THE MULLAHS' DOMINATION

by Amir Taheri
New York Post
October 22, 2006

Be careful what you wish for: Reformers' push to end clerical domination of Iran's government could backfire — and put ultimate power in the hands of the extremist president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
October 22, 2006 -- FOR the past two months, a tree- lined back alley in a quiet corner of Tehran, Iran's bustling megapolis of a capital, has been transformed into the scene of what looks like a daily carnival - until the arrests begin.

Each morning, busloads of men sporting bushy beards and women clad overall in black hijab arrive before sunrise to perform the first of their five daily prayers in the courtyard of a villa known as Manzel Agha (The Master's Abode).

Once the prayers end, the crowd starts shouting slogans against the rulers of the Islamic Republic, starting with "Supreme Guide" Ali Khamenei. Often, people from the neighborhood join the demonstration - which invariably ends with police intervention and dozens of arrest.

"The Master" whose abode has become a sort of shrine for the religious opponents of the Islamic Republic is one Muhammad-Hussein Kazemaini Borujerdi, a Shiite cleric in his 50s.

To the authorities, he is nothing but a troublemaker wearing a black turban. His followers, however, refer to him as Grand Ayatollah and claim that he is in frequent contact with the Hidden Imam - a Mahdi-figure who, according to Shiite lore, went into hiding in 940 A.D. and will someday return to preside over the end of the world.

The Islamic Republic's leadership is particularly annoyed at Borujerdi because he attracts the same type of people who swept the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to power in 1979. The crowd at Borujerdi's villa on Sarv Lane consists of men, women and children from the poorest districts of Tehran, where the hope of the Mahdi's return often provides the sole solace for a life of poverty and frustration.

BORUJERDI'S supporters claim that their leader has received specific instructions from the Hidden Imam to lead a campaign aimed at "separating religion from politics." Their argument is based on a classical Shiite theological position that maintains that all governments formed in the absence of the Hidden Imam are "oppressive and illegitimate" (jaber wa ja'er).

Under that doctrine, all that Shi'ites must do during the absence of the imam is to tolerate the government in place, cooperate with it to the strict minimum necessary - but never pay taxes to it or feel any loyalty toward it. In the absence of the imam, government is nothing but a necessary and temporary evil.

This classical Shiite doctrine, shared by the overwhelming majority of Shiite clerics since the 16th century, is in direct contradiction with the ideological matrix of the Khomeinist regime. Khomeinism is an innovation (bid'aa) in Shiism insofar as it claims that a mullah bearing the title of "Faqih al-Wali" (Custodian Jurisconsult) must rule on behalf of God, thus circumventing the Hidden Imam.

The case for the Khomeinist doctrine was most cogently put recently by Ayatollah Ali-Akbar Meshkini, the powerful president of the Assembly of Experts that chooses the "Faqih al-Wali.": "The Islamic Republic is a continuation of God on earth," Meshkini said. "Thus any disobedience of its rules amounts to a revolt against God."

MOST Shiite theologians find Mehskini's view - which reflects the official doctrine of the Islamic Republic - as scandalous. Going further, Borujerdi describes that doctrine as a form of shirk (associating others with God).

Borujerdi, who was taken into custody earlier this month, is not alone in arguing that Shiism provides for a separation of religion and government. His view is shared by more eminent theologians - Grand Ayatollah Ali-Muhammad Sistani in Najaf, Iraq, and, in Iran, Grand Ayatollah Hassan Qomi-Tabatabi in Mashad and Grand Ayatollah Hussein Ali Montazeri and Ayatollah Hassan San'ei in Qom.

This doctrine of separation does not mean that religion has no role in society. On the contrary, clerics like Borujerdi believe that the mullahs, having distanced themselves from day-to-day politics and government duties, would be in a stronger position to offer society the moral guidance that no secular authority can provide. The clergy would be a watchdog, overseeing the government, when necessary taking it to task or even calling for its overthrow.

It is virtually impossible to know what a majority of Iran's estimated 300,000 mullahs think about this debate. But one thing is certain: Not a single prominent Shiite cleric today is prepared to endorse the Khomeinist doctrine publicly and unequivocally.

Some mid-ranking ayatollahs such as Fadil Lenkorani and Makarem Shirazi flirt with Khomeinism, largely for personal reasons, but are not prepared to acknowledge the current "Supreme Guide" as anything but a political figure.

The best-known mullahs within the regime - the "Supreme Guide" Ali Khamenei, and the two former presidents Hashemi Rafsanjani and Muhammad Khatami - are recognized as politicians with a clerical background, but never as religious authorities.

OFTEN portrayed as a theoc racy, the Islamic Republic is, in fact, a form of oriental despotism with a turban. A majority of Shiite clerics are opposed to the regime and its ideology. This is why proportionally more mullahs are in prison in Iran than other social strata.

Interestingly, Borujerdi's position is partly shared by Grand Ayatollah Muhammad-Taqi Mesbah Yazdi - the man widely acknowledged as President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's Marjaa al-Taqlid (Source of Imitation). Unlike Borujerdi, Mesbah-Yazdi does not want to abolish the Islamic Republic outright - but he, too, insists that secular power should be exercised by politicians rather than clerics. (Critics of that view claim that mullahs like Borujerdi and Mesbah-Yazdi want power without responsibility while mullahs like Khamenei, Rafsanjani and Khatami are prepared to assume both.)

THE showdown between the two views will take place in December, when a new Assembly of Experts is elected. The assembly is a crucial organ of the regime because it can dismiss the current "Supreme Guide" and pick a new one.

It could also propose amending the constitution to reflect the views of Mesbah-Yazdi, by ending the organic link that Khomeini established between the mosque and the state. Such a separation is anathema to political mullahs such as Khamenei, Rafsanjani and Khatami who will fight tooth and nail to prevent the emergence of a distinctly political space as Mesbah-Yazdi and Borujerdi demand.

In the meantime, each of the factions involved in the power struggle is trying to claim the Hidden Imam for itself. Ahmadinejad claims that he receives periodical instructions from the Mahdi, while Borujerdi's associates insist that the Hidden Imam has chosen him as a mouthpiece.

IN mainstream Shiite lore, the Hidden Imam was initially in contact with just four pious men, known as The Nails (Owtad). But one of Shiism's most prominent theologians in the last century, the late Imadeddin Assar, rejected the idea of limited contact. He argued that the Imam was in contact with 36 pious men, six for each of the six directions, while reserving his right to contact anyone else he deemed necessary.

According to Assar, the Hidden Imam could approach any believer at night and whisper instructions in his ears. Thus, there is no reason to doubt claims of contacts with the Mahdi made by Ahmadinejad or Borujerdi or Khatami or anybody else.

Amir Taheri is a member of Benador Associates.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Josh Malihabadi

Doyen of the Progressive Writers' Movement, Josh Malihabadi dominated the Urdu literary scene of the 20th century Indian sub-continent. Born on December 5,1898 -21st Rajab-1316 AH, as Shabbir Hasan Khan in Malihabad, near Lucknow he studied at St Peter's College, Agra and passed his Senior Cambridge examination in 1914. Josh subsequently studied Arabic and Persian and, in 1918, spent six months at Tagore's university at Shantiniketan.

While working as in charge of the translation department of Jamia Osamania, Hyderabad, Josh wrote a poem against the oppressive Nizam and was exiled from the state. Josh then worked for Shalimar Film Company in Poona as songwriter for about four years.

Josh was known as "Shair-e-Inqilab". He also got actively involved in the freedom struggle and became close to quite a few of the political leaders of that era, specially Jawahar Lal Nehru. His first collection of poems was published under the title of Rooh-e-Adab. The collections of his poetry include Shola-o-Shabnam, Junoon-o-Hikmat, Naqsh-o-Nigar, Fikr-o-Nishaat, Sunbal-o-Salaasal, Harf-o-Hikaayat and Sarod-o-Kharosh. Josh was editor of Aaj Kal and advisor to the All India Radio. He was honoured with the Padma Bhushan in 1954 by the President of India.

Josh was concerned with the state of Urdu in independent India and migrated to Pakistan in 1956, but was not well-received by the authorities and pro-establishment media of Pakistan for his iconoclastic ideas and socialistic leanings. His autobiography Yadon Ki Barat was published in 1966. He died on February 22, 1982 (27th Rabi-II-1402AH.

A View of Iraq From Beyond the Green Zone

By Jeremy Scahill, The Nation
Posted on February 13, 2008

EDITOR'S NOTE: Dahr Jamail has spent more time reporting from Iraq than almost any other US journalist. His new book, Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches from an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq, is a chronicle of his experiences there. He recently sat down with Nation correspondent Jeremy Scahill to talk about the supposed "success" of Bush's troop surge, what would happen if Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton wins the White House and why he believes an immediate withdrawal from Iraq is the only way to peace. Here's an edited transcript of that interview.

Both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have indicated that US troops are not going to be withdrawn in any significant manner in the first term of a presidency. What do you think would happen if the US did withdraw immediately from Iraq?

We have a specific example of what would likely happen throughout Iraq if the US were to withdraw completely. When the Brits recently pulled out of their last base in Basra City late last year, The Independent reported that according to the British military, violent attacks dropped 90 percent. I think that goes to show that the Brits down in Basra, like the Americans in central and northern Iraq, have been the primary cause of the violence and the instability. And I think it's easy to see that when the US does pull out completely, we would have a dramatic de-escalation in violence. We would have increased stability and it would be the first logical step for Iraqis to form their own government. This time, it would actually have popular support, unlike the current government, where less than 1 percent of Iraqis polled even support it or even find it legitimate at all.

Now, obviously, we have a situation in Iraq right now that's very different from the era of Saddam Hussein: many pockets of power, various leaders who have their own armed factions, and a much more significant Iranian influence. How do you see that playing out in the absence of US troops? What do you think would happen among those various groups that are vying for power, and have a significant volume of weapons?

One of the key reasons Iran has the influence it does in Iraq right now is because the US itself appointed Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki. We have to remember that he was in no way, shape or form democratically elected. After the January 30, 2005, elections, one of the first tasks of the government was to choose its own prime minister. It chose Ibrahim Al-Jaafari. And then when he wasn't toeing the US-UK line enough, Condoleezza Rice and her UK counterpart, Jack Straw, flew to Baghdad. And right before they left from their trip, Jaafari was out, Maliki was in.

Maliki, head of the Dawa party, was in exile in Tehran for numerous years, and is basically a political figurehead of the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (SIIC), whose armed wing, the Badr Organization, has staunch Iranian support. It was basically formed in Iran and came into Iraq on the heels of the invasion forces. So I think, again, with [Maliki] out, and with other Iranian puppets in the government out, we would have more nationalist Iraqis who would certainly be able to start making moves toward reconciliation.

Who do you see emerging in a post-occupation Iraq if the US did leave? What are the major political forces in the country that could unify Iraq under one national flag?

It's difficult to say at this point, but there are some political figures who do have popular support. There's a Shia cleric, Sheikh Jawad al-Khalasi, who has mass popular support. He's renowned for being able to bridge differences between Sunni and Shia political groups right now. There's Dr. Wamid Omar Nadhmi, a Sunni, who also has that same effect. He's relatively nonsectarian, compared to everyone else on the scene right now. They have started to form a shadow -- I wouldn't say government, but certainly political organization -- that is a coalition of many different groups. There's Al-Khalasi, there's Dr. Wamid Omar Nadhmi, there's Kurds, there's Christians, there's Turkomen, there's numerous groups represented in this political structure that they have right now. It's based primarily out of Syria, and sometimes they have meetings in Jordan, but this type of political structure would be able to come in and, I think, begin to fill what vacuum would be created.

You've spent a lot of time in Al-Anbar province and in Sunni areas of Iraq. And we've seen the United States and the commanders declare Anbar province a "victory." We've also seen some Sunni puppet figures who have allied themselves with the United States assassinated in recent months, most prominently Abu Risha. What happened in Al-Anbar province?

What's happening in Al-Anbar province today is akin to what the US did in Fallujah, when they were repelled out of the city during the April '04 siege. They essentially saved face by ceasing patrols and buying off the militants in the city. They put them on the payroll -- mujahedeen basically started donning Iraqi police uniforms and Iraqi civil defense corps uniforms -- and took over control of security of the city. When I interviewed them in May, they said this was the most peace they'd had in the city since before the invasion had ever taken place. They were quite happy with it, most people in the city were quite happy with that situation.

But essentially, the US plan ended up backfiring. Because they had to go back in the city in November, they didn't want it to remain the only liberated city in the country. That fighting was far more violent and took so many more deaths, on both sides of the conflict, than even the April siege did. And so we have now a macro version of that same policy in Al-Anbar, where various tribal sheikhs who are willing to collaborate have stepped up. They're taking millions and millions of dollars of US taxpayer money. They're basically being bought off to not fight against the Americans, while simultaneously the Americans, for the moment in Al-Anbar, are sticking closer to their bases, and relying more on airpower than ground troops if any fighting breaks out.

And so right now, that's why Al-Anbar is notably more quiet. But it's a ticking time bomb. Because this is a policy where even US soldiers on the ground right now in Al-Anbar are expressing concerns. They know all too well that they're now working with these people who, three days ago or three weeks ago, they were actually fighting. And some of these people are still lobbing mortars into their bases at night.

So we have tensions. We have the US military trying to ID all these people, so that when things become violent again, they'll know who these people are and where to go get them, while simultaneously, these same fighters are, of course, gathering very, very valuable intelligence by being able to work with the Americans and go around with them.

You've spent about eight months in Iraq unembedded. A lot of your time was spent with ordinary Iraqis, documenting the suffering, the deaths, the civilian injuries. You've also spent time in other countries talking to Iraqi refugees. One of the things that's lost in the mainstream coverage is the extent of the death that's happened in Iraq. In fact, there was an AP-Ipsos poll not too long ago that found that a majority of Americans believed that fewer than 10,000 Iraqis had died since the start of the invasion. Give a sense of the scope of the death that has taken place in Iraq.

This is a good example of why the media coverage is still so horribly skewed. Even though a lot of people tend to think, "Well, the media is coming around a little bit, that it is showing that the occupation is not going well, and that there's suffering." But really, contrast what you may see in some of the larger media outlets with some of these figures from the ground in Iraq.

We look at, for example, how many people have died, based on figures primarily produced by The Lancet report in October '06, which showed 655,000 Iraqis had been killed, or 2.5 percent of the total population of the country.

Another group, called Just Foreign Policy, has taken those figures and extrapolated from them based on more recent media reports, because that first survey, that Lancet survey, the legwork was carried out in July 2005. And so from that time until this time, with new data, it's now estimated by the group Just Foreign Policy that over 1,100,000 Iraqis have been killed. In addition to that, we can estimate that, very conservatively, another 3 million are wounded. According to the UN these figures are too low as well; I've been told this by a UN spokesperson myself when I was in Syria last summer.

Current figures: 2.5 million internally displaced Iraqis in their own country, another 2.5 million refugees outside of the country. In addition to that, another 4 million Iraqis are in dire need of emergency assistance, according to an Oxfam International report released last July. When we take into account the fact that Iraq's total population has fallen from 27 million, when the invasion was launched, to now roughly 23 million, when we add all those figures up, that means over half the total population of the entire country are either refugees -- in or out of their country -- wounded, in dire need of emergency aid, or dead.

In addition to that, we have the infrastructure, where on every measurable level, it's worse now than it was after nearly thirty years of Saddam Hussein's reign, and twelve years of genocidal sanctions. Even oil exports have not for one day been at or above pre-war levels -- and this is where Iraq gets 90 percent of its income. Electricity: the average home has anywhere from zero hours of electricity per day to maybe six or seven hours on a really good day. Unemployment: it's between 60 or 70 percent, vacillating right now. During the sanctions, it was roughly 33 percent, which is about what it was here during the Great Depression. So 60 to 70 percent unemployment, on top of that, 70 percent inflation. We have 45 percent of Iraqis living in abject poverty on less than $1 per day. Seventy percent of Iraqis don't even have access to safe drinking water. So that gives you an idea of the magnitude of how horrific the suffering really has become. According to Refugees International, it's the fastest-growing refugee crisis on the planet.

You haven't been to Iraq for a number of months, but you are regularly in touch with Iraqis on the ground. In fact, a lot of the articles that you do you co-author with Iraqi colleagues still on the ground. Many of the journalists who do go to Iraq are trapped in the Green Zone -- or what an Iraqi friend of mine calls the Green Zoo. And so, in a way, you may be in a better position to analyze what's happening there, because of your regular contact with unembedded Iraqi journalists. Give us a couple of examples of news that's not making it out of Iraq.

I was recently working on a story about Fallujah because one of my Iraqi colleagues lives there. And again, contrast this with what maybe you've been hearing about Fallujah. In fact, it's even been held up by various Bush Administration officials over the last several months as a model city. Look, it's calmer, things are better now, the plan is working, the surge is working. Well in Fallujah, according to my friend who lives there, the security measures that were imposed around the city by the US military during the November '04 siege -- the biometric data, the retina scans, the fingerprinting, the mandatory, bar-coded IDs for everyone trying to go in and out of the city. That remains, that has not changed at all. In addition to that, businesspeople estimate that there's approximately 80 percent unemployment in the city. There are entire neighborhoods that still do not have electricity or running water since the November '04 siege. There's still tens of thousands of refugees from the city from the April '04 siege, not even talking about November.

There's been a vehicle ban, to one degree or another, imposed on the city since May. So how do you live in a city of 350,000 people, when the majority of the time, you can't even drive a vehicle. Most people are either walking or literally using horse-drawn or donkey-drawn carts. And he quoted a man as saying, relatively recently, that yes, it is quieter in Fallujah today, but it's the same quiet as a dead body is quiet. That there's no normal life, that the hospital there doesn't get medicines and things that it needs, because of the corruption of the Ministry of Health in Baghdad, and the bias that's there. And just to give you an idea. That's life in Fallujah today, where there's literally no normal life.

And that's in a city that the US is holding up as a victory?

Exactly.

I know your expertise is not necessarily US domestic politics, but like all of us, you're following the presidential campaign. Do you see any marked difference for Iraqis in the event of a Hillary Clinton presidency or a Barack Obama presidency?

I don't. They've both already officially taken the idea of total unconditional withdrawal of all occupation forces out of Iraq off the table, until after their first term, if one of them is elected. So it's off the table already until 2013, even before one of them would come into power, if that is going to happen. In reality, they in no way are reflecting the will of the troops on the ground in Iraq, or the majority of Americans now who are opposed to the occupation. And certainly not respecting the will of the Iraqi people, where the most conservative polls I've found have shown that 85 percent, at a minimum now, of the total population of Iraq are completely opposed to the occupation and want it to end, right now.

Iraqis are willing to take the risk of what might happen if that much-discussed "power vacuum" is created. And the reality is that the only real first step to a solution in Iraq is full, immediate, unconditional withdrawal, while simultaneously re-funding all the reconstruction projects and turning them over to Iraqi concerns. So this idea of, "You break it, you buy it." Well, there's no buying happening. There's nothing being done by Western contractors on the ground to improve the basic life necessities of any Iraqi in that country right now.

And the other factor is, which candidate is talking about compensation for the Iraqi people? Every Iraqi person who's suffered from this situation deserves full compensation from this government. Because this is the government that perpetrated the war and continues on in this illegal occupation. So, I don't see any of these mainstream candidates talking about any of these things, which are really essential if we're going to talk about a solution to this catastrophe in Iraq.



Jeremy Scahill, an independent journalist who reports frequently for the national radio and TV program Democracy Now!, has spent extensive time reporting from Iraq and Yugoslavia. He is currently a Puffin Writing Fellow at The Nation Institute. Scahill is the author of Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army.

© 2008 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/story/76811/

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

نگاه امام(ره) به دين را سرلوحه‌ عمل خود قرار دهيم سرويس: سياسي

سيدحسن خميني:

1386/11/24
02-13-2008
16:42:21
8611-14329: كد خبر



خبرگزاري دانشجويان ايران - تهران
سرويس: سياسي


حجت‌الاسلام و المسلمين سيدحسن خميني گفت: همه بايد پيرو امام(ره) باشيم و نگاهي را كه ايشان به دين داشت سرلوحه عمل خود قرار دهيم.

به گزارش خبرنگار سياسي خبرگزاري دانشجويان ايران(ايسنا) سيدحسن خميني در سخنان كوتاهي در همايش بزرگ بانوان ورزشكار مناطق 22 گانه شهرداري تهران كه با حضور 40 هزار ورزشكار زن برگزار شد، با اشاره به توصيه‌ اكيد امام خميني(ره) به بانوان مبني بر پرداختن به امر ورزش افزود: يكي از اموري كه همواره در زندگي امام(ره) وجود داشت بحث ورزش كردن و ورزش دوستي ايشان است.

وي با ابراز اميدواري نسبت به اين‌كه " بانوان در زمينه ورزش حضور پررنگ‌تري داشته باشند" اظهار كرد: اميد است با پرداختن به ورزش مانند همه‌ واجبات ديني به حفظ روحيه‌ سالم بپردازيم.

در حاشيه‌ي اين همايش سيدحسن خميني در نشست مديران ورزش شهرداري تهران با تاكيد بر اهميت و گسترش ورزش همگاني در جامعه، گفت: ورزش همگاني به افزايش سطح سلامت جامعه كمك مي‌كند. هم‌چنين سرمايه‌گذاري در امر ورزش صرفه اقتصادي دارد و مي‌تواند هزينه‌هاي درماني كشور را كاهش دهد.

وي در پايان با تاكيد بر جايگاه برتر ورزش در افزايش نشاط فردي و اجتماعي، گفت: بانوان بايد در كنار عفاف و با حفظ مسائل شرعي و مقيدات ديني به ورزش بپردازند.

در اين نشست مصطفي آجرلو مديركل تربيت بدني شهرداري تهران با ارايه گزارشي به شرح فعاليت‌هاي شهرداري تهران در خصوص بسط ورزش همگاني پرداخت.

در اين همايش كه با شعار بيعت با آرمان‌هاي رهبر كبير انقلاب اسلامي و حمايت از مردم فلسطين، باريكه غزه و با هدف ترغيب بانوان براي ورزش مستمر در زندگي برگزار شده بود، حاضران نماز ظهر و عصر را به امامت حجت‌الاسلام و المسلمين سيدحسن خميني اقامه كردند.

انتهاي پيام



*نامه تشكر آيت‌الله العظمي صانعي به سيدحسن خميني و دفاع از مواضع وي*
بدخواهان بدانند كه سكوت فرزندان امام و انقلاب هم حدي دارد سرويس: فقه و حقوق - فقه

1386/11/24
02-13-2008
15:19:15
8611-14270: كد خبر



خبرگزاري دانشجويان ايران - تهران
سرويس: فقه و حقوق - فقه



آيت‌الله العظمي صانعي طي نامه‌اي از مواضع انديشمندانه حجت‌الاسلام و المسلمين حاج سيد حسن خميني تقدير و تشكر و خطاب به بدخواهان تاكيد كرد كه سكوت فرزندان امام و انقلاب هم حدي دارد كه در موقع لزوم ناگفته‌ها و حركت‌هاي منافقانه دشمنان حيله‌گر و عوام‌فريب را بيان داشته تا عرق شرم بر پيشاني داعيه‌داران چند چهره بنشيند.
به گزارش ايسنا، متن نامه آيت‌الله العظمي صانعي به حجت‌الاسلام و المسلمين حاج سيد حسن خميني به اين شرح است:

"بسمه تعالي

محضر مبارك جناب مستطاب حجـت‌الاسلام والمسلمين آقاي حاج سيد حسن خميني، نور چشم امام امت (سلام الله عليه) و سبط استاد اعظم، زاهد بزرگ حوزه علميه قم، سلطان العلماء مرحوم آيت‌الله العظمي سلطاني(ره)

بعد التحيه والسلام؛

بر خود لازم ديدم که به عنوان اداي حق علم و دقت، عرفان و حکمت، فقه و فقاهت و هدايت ناآگاهان جامعه و ارشاد آنان و بيان مسائل و احکام اسلام در رابطه با حکومت و سياست و حفظ نظام مقدس جمهوري اسلامي (که همه و همه آنها در مصاحبه عميقانه و حکيمانه حضرت عالي بيان شده) تشکر نموده و قدرداني خود را به عنوان يک شاگرد از شاگردان جدّ بزرگوارتان ابراز مي‌دارم.

به نظر اينجانب و همه آنان که پير عارف جماران را شناخته‌اند و با شناختي که از ملت بزرگ و انقلابي ايران دارم، بايد بگويم که همه آنان با تمام وجودشان شکرگزار خداوند توانا و حکيمي هستند که از پدري زاهد و عالمي وارسته همچون مرحوم حاج سيد احمد آقاي خميني (قدس سره) فرزندي چون شما را، حجتي براي حفظ نظام اسلامي و دست آورد بزرگ آن كه همان حاكميت مردم بر سرنوشت خويش(جمهوري اسلامي) است، قرار داده.

و چه جالب و تحسين برانگيز است که حضرت عالي همانند جدتان، سيدنا الاستاذ الامام خميني (سلام الله عليه) خطرهايي كه انقلاب و احکام نوراني سياسي اسلام، که همان فتاواي فقهي و حكومتي امام مي‌باشد، را تهديد مي‌كند به موقع اظهار داشته و دِين خود را به اسلام عزيز اداء مي‌نماييد، هر چند ممكن است دشمنان اسلام، انقلاب و انسانيت، حضرت عالي را از گزند آنچه كه خود مستحقش مي باشند در مقابل آنهمه مطالب عميق فروگذار ننمايند،

لکن «يُرِيدُونَ أَن يُطْفِئُوا نُورَ اللهِ بِأَفْوَاهِهِمْ وَيَأْبَى اللهُ إِلاَّ أَن يُتِمَّ نُورَهُ» (با خدا دادگان ستيزه مکن/ که خدا داده را خدا داده). بنده و همه کساني که اوائل نهضت را درک نموده، مي‌دانند که در يکي از لحظات حساس آن دوران، دشمنان اسلام و فرومايگان، شبنامه‌اي را که حاوي توهين و افتراء به امام امت (سلام الله عليه) بود را مخفيانه منتشر نمودند؛ اما آن قلم‌هاي ظالم پسند و غير آن در محاق ظلمت و تاريکي فرو رفت و امروز نورانيت حسينيه و خانه محقّر امام در جماران براي همه باقي و نورافشاني مي‌كند.

در خاتمه به همه كساني كه دغدغه دفاع از آرمان‌هاي آن پير سالك را دارند متذكر مي‌شوم كه دفاع از آرا و انديشه‌هاي حضرت امام (سلام الله عليه) مستلزم پرداخت هزينه‌هايي است كه توسط عده‌اي متحجر و بي‌ريشه ساماندهي مي‌گردد كه لازمه آن تلاش و كوشش بيشتر در راه شناساندن راه آن شخصيت بي‌بديل مي‌باشد، لكن اين حركات در ذهن ملت آگاه و بزرگوار ايران مطرود و محكوم است و البته بدخواهان بدانند كه سكوت فرزندان امام و انقلاب هم حدي دارد كه در موقع لزوم ناگفته‌ها و حركت‌هاي منافقانه دشمنان حيله‌گر و عوام‌فريب را بيان داشته تا عرق شرم بر پيشاني داعيه‌داران چند چهره بنشيند/ تا سيه‌روي شود هر كه در او غش باشد.

والسلام علي من اتبع الهدي - بلدة قم المقدسه

24/ 11/ 86 مطابق با پنجم صفرالمظفر 1429

يوسف صانعي".


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نامه آيت‌الله حسن صانعي به حجت‌الاسلام والمسلمين سيدحسن خميني:
برخي برخوردها هزينه‌هايي است كه براي تثبيت و ترويج انديشه‌هاي امام بزرگوار بايد پرداخت كنيم سرويس: سياسي
1386/11/26
02-15-2008
13:01:38
8611-14913: كد خبر



خبرگزاري دانشجويان ايران - تهران
سرويس: سياسي



آيت‌الله حسن صانعي در واكنش به اهانت‌هاي اخير يك سايت اينترنتي به حجت‌الاسلام والمسلمين سيد حسن خميني در نامه‌اي خطاب به وي عنوان كرد: «اين برخوردها با شخصيت‌هايي چون جنابعالي براي اولين بار و آخرين بار نيست و هزينه‌هايي است كه براي جديت در راه امام و تثبيت و ترويج انديشه‌هاي آن بزرگوار بايد پرداخت كنيم.»

به گزارش گروه دريافت خبر خبرگزاري دانشجويان ايران (ايسنا)، در اين نامه آمده است:

« بسمه‌تعالي

جناب حجت‌الاسلام والمسلمين آقاي حاج سيد حسن آقا خميني دامت افاضاته، يادگار گرامي و نوه عزيز حضرت امام (س)!

پس از سلام

اكنون كه جنابعالي و كيان امام و روحانيت به جرم بيان انديشه‌هاي تابناك امام در خصوص ضرورت عدم دخالت نيروهاي مسلح و نظامي در مسائل سياسي و انتخابات از ناحيه‌ي معدودي از افراد و جريان‌هاي منحرف و مشكوك مورد اهانت و توهين قرار گرفته‌ايد نكاتي را متذكر مي‌شوم.

1- اينجانب در يكي از روزهاي پيش از انقلاب به مناسبتي خدمت امام عرض كردم: زير بار هيچكس جز شخص حضرتعالي نمي‌روم امام فرمودند شما زير بار من هم نرو.

2- امام فرمودند: در ايامي به من نسبت شرك و كفر دادند. من دقايقي با خود فكر كردم كه آيا من مشرك و كافر بالله هستم؟ ديدم من مشرك و كافر بالله نيستم؛ لذا هر چه توانستند از مذمت و بدگويي كوتاهي نكردند و بحمدالله در نفسيات من كوچك‌ترين اثر سوئي نگذاشت.

3- روزهاي اول مبارزه معمولا صبح زود به منزل امام مي‌رفتم. در يكي از روزها تصادفا اعلاميه‌اي كه به درب منزل امام الصاق شده بود توجه مرا جلب كرد، دقايقي به متن اعلاميه توجه و بسيار متاثر و ناراحت شدم از اينكه آنچه در شان خودشان بود نوشته بودند. اعلاميه را به دست ايشان دادم. امام پس از مطالعه آن با روحيه‌اي آرام نكات سه گانه‌اي به اين شرح فرمودند:

اول: من صبح زود كه براي قدم زدن از خانه بيرون رفتم اطلاعيه‌اي را ديدم و اعتنايي نكردم.

دوم: تا به حال ديده‌ايد كه به افراد مرده و بي‌اثر ناسزا بگويند؟ حتما نديده‌اي. علتش آن است كه سال‌هاست از دنيا رفته و منشا اثري نيست. لكن كساني كه منشا اثر باشند، چه زنده يا مرده مورد توهين و اهانت قرار مي‌گيرند. چرا به نبي‌اكرم (ص) و ائمه معصومين (ع) ناسزا مي‌گويند. چون انديشه‌هاي آنان زنده و منشا آثار واقعي است.

سوم: تا باب توهين براي اين مبارزه الهي باز نشود مبارزه پيشرفت نخواهد كرد و ما به اهداف خود نمي‌رسيم اين قبيل اعلاميه نبايد ما را متاثر كند؛ بلكه بايد موجب خشنودي ما شود.

لذا امام بزرگوار به دنبال بدگويي و سخنان سخيف و توهين‌آميز حاكمان ظلم و ايادي آنان با اتكال به خدا و روشنگري و صدور بيانيه و استدلال و منطق و پشتيباني ملت شريف توانست بنياد سلطنت را متزلزل و نابود و پرونده سياه آن را براي هميشه مدفون سازد.

در يك زمان ديگري نيز فرمودند: چون دشمنان جرات توهين به من را ندارند به احمد و نزديكان من اهانت مي‌كنند، احمد ناسزاها را تحمل كند و خدا را شاكر باشد.

چند مرتبه ابتدا به ساكن از وضع آتيه من و مرحوم والد رضوان‌الله عليه كه همگان مي‌دانند چه ايثارها و فداكاري‌ها و لياقت‌هايي را از خود نشان داده است مطالبي را عنوان كردند كه نشانگر چنين روزهايي بود. در حال حاضر نيز كساني كه اين زمزمه‌ها را در بعضي از سايت‌ها ساز كرده‌اند در پوشش انقلاب بر بيت امام و فرزندان ايشان حمله مي‌كنند كه تماما از ضديت با اسلام ناب و انقلاب اسلامي نشات مي‌گيرد و اين برخوردها با شخصيت‌هايي چون جنابعالي براي اولين بار و آخرين بار نيست و هزينه‌هايي است كه براي جديت در راه امام و تثبيت و ترويج انديشه‌هاي آن بزرگوار بايد پرداخت كنيد و اين مطلبي است كه حضرت امام مرتبا به اينجانب و عم بزرگوار شهيدتان و مرحوم والد نيز مي‌فرمودند و توصيه مي‌كردند و از قبل آماده‌باش مي‌دادند.

توصيه اينجانب به جنابعالي به عنوان دوست ديرين مرحوم والد اين است كه هميشه اين آيه را تكرار كنيد تا مفهوم متعالي آن در روح شما ملكه شود «الا بذكرالله تطمئن القلوب.»

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Child suicide bombers "victims of the most brutal exploitation"

Child suicide bombers "victims of the most brutal exploitation" 12 Feb 2008 16:15:42 GMT
Source: IRIN
Reuters and AlertNet are not responsible for the content of this article or for any external internet sites. The views expressed are the author's alone.

LAHORE, 12 February 2008 (IRIN) - Zarak Khan, 16, needs to do little more than sit in his chair, flicking through TV channels, to bring a fond smile to his mother's face. Rehma Bibi is simply glad to have her oldest son at home and safe. "They wanted to make him into a suicide bomber, but we got him away from the seminary school," she said.

Rehma, her husband Shaukat and their four children, moved from the town of Kohat in Pakistan's North West Frontier Province (NWFP) almost a year ago, soon after removing Zarak from the seminary just outside the town where he had been enrolled since he was 12.

Shaukat had become alarmed by the teenager's talk of suicide bombings and paradise - where he said those who carried out attacks on "enemies" went.

Fearing their son was being brainwashed into becoming a suicide bomber, the family moved to Lahore to ensure the teenager escaped the influence of his fanatical Islamic teachers and peers.

"We sent Zarak to a 'madrassah' (seminary) because we are poor and could not afford a regular school," said Rehma. This is a common reality in today's Pakistan.

The family lives on an income of just under US$66 a month, the amount earned by Shaukat as a day labourer.

Most of the thousands of seminary schools dotted across Pakistan offer religious education, food and shelter free of charge to such families, but a few have developed links with extremist outfits which have unleashed violence across the country, say analysts and observers.

Suicide attacks on the rise

Over the past year, Pakistan has been struck by a wave of attacks, many involving suicide bombings. Fifty-six suicide bombings took place in 2007 alone, killing at least 636 people, including 419 members of Pakistan's security forces.

A further four bombings in 2008 have already killed over 70 people - the most recent at a political rally on 11 February when a teenage suicide bomber blew himself up in Pakistan's North Waziristan tribal area near the Afghan border.

The toll of such attacks continues to rise, with suicide bombings having claimed over 2,000 victims in Pakistan over the past decade. Many others have been gravely injured - some disabled for life.

"Victims of the most brutal exploitation"

Many of the bombers who blew themselves up were children, while teenagers who have been arrested provide chilling accounts of how they had been imbued into carrying out similar attacks.

"These young boys are as much the victims of terrorism as those they kill. They are victims of the most brutal exploitation," said Anees Khan, a Lahore-based psychologist who is carrying out a study on the use of children as bombers for a local non-governmental organisation (NGO).

The manner in which teenagers have been used in suicide bombings has become evident in recent months.

In December 2007, an attack in Kohat that killed 11 army cadets was carried out by a bomber aged 16 or 17 who detonated explosives strapped to his body as he approached his targets.

In January, a boy of around the same age blew himself up at a mosque in Peshawar in a sectarian attack on worshippers gathered there.


Indoctrinated

But it is the manner in which these boys are indoctrinated that is most revealing.

Just a few weeks earlier, Aitezaz Shah, 15, detained in the northern town of Dera Ismail Khan, told investigators how he had been recruited by extremists after dropping out of school in Karachi in May last year.

He said he had been assigned to act as a "back-up" bomber in the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, the chairperson of Pakistan's populist People's Party, who was killed in a suicide bombing on 27 December.

Aitezaz had been trained at a 'madrassah' in the tribal area of South Waziristan and was preparing to carry out other attacks.

"We are still conducting interrogations and investigations in this matter," said Pakistan Interior Ministry spokesman Brig Iqbal Cheema.

A year ago another 15-year-old Pakistani suicide bomber, Hainullah, trained in Waziristan, was arrested in neighbouring Afghanistan where he had been sent to carry out an attack on US troops there.

He said he was offered a "way out of a life of boredom" at a seminary in the area by a preacher who offered him visions of paradise, where rivers of milk and honey flowed, in exchange for giving up his life by becoming a suicide bomber.

A few months later, in a case that made headlines, a 14-year-old would-be bomber, Rafiqullah, was pardoned by Afghan President Hamid Karzai and sent back to Pakistan after being arrested wearing a "suicide vest" packed with explosives.

"It is a sad fact that a Muslim child was sent to a religious school to learn about Islam but was misled by the enemies of Afghanistan," Karzai said at the time.