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The Iranian Features
Nov 9-13, 1998 / Aban 18-22, 1377


* Fiction: Forget shomal


* Caspian: Giving all a piece of the pie
* Fiction: Zarry's wedding
* Names: Giving Batul a chance
* Cover Story: If Mahdi doesn't come

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Nov 13, 1998


Forget shomal
Dazzled by the surprising beauty of the desert

By Ali Parandeh

After driving about ten kilometers we stopped and decided to settle for the night. By the time we put up the tents and got ready, it was nearly 6 o'clock. We had less than a few minutes to have everything prepared for dinner before it got dark. We also wanted to go for a walk as the air had cooled down. After making the cooking area, it had become dark already but still some of us decided to go for a walk.

We saw one of the most beautiful sunsets, followed immediately by a clear sky full of stars. I had never seen so many stars in my whole life. But even this was nowhere as scenic as the Milky Way, so clear and so astonishing. The sky was so beautiful that we were looking up half the time and thus constantly losing the trail. The walk back to the camping site wasn't exactly easy, since it was behind a hill and they had not started a fire yet. So we just used my little torch, which I had gotten with a gift certiuficate after eating a whole box of Kit Kat!

After arriving back at the camp, we grouped together to chat the night away. Soon conversation led to jokes and guestimates of everybody's age... GO TO FEATURE

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Nov 12, 1998


Giving all a piece of the pie
The political risks of various pipeline routes in the Caspian basin

A lecture presented by Hooshang Amirahmadi at the Conference on Energy for Europe: Perspectives and Problems of Crude Oil Exports from the Caspian Sea to Europe Technische Universitat Braunschweig, Germany, October 19, 1998.

Geopolitics of pipelines from the Central Asia and Caucasus to markets in Europe, Asia and elsewhere have become a major foreign policy issue for the U.S. in the last few year. Countries like Iran, Turkey and Russia are competing to gain a piece of the great pie. However, Washington favors Turkey for political reasons and against the will of its business community. At stake for Iran is strategic, not just economic, gains or loss. No wonder the U.S. is not letting the business executives and the states in the Caspian region play the pipeline game among themselves. The winners of the game will reap strategic benefits while losers will become marginalized for sometime to come. It is in this context that I assess the political risks of various pipeline routes and suggest an alternative.

In what follows, I shall first provide a description of various routes and their advocates and then give an outline of the major risk factors involved including the extent they are ignored or accounted for in the positions held by the regional players. I shall conclude by proposing that decisions concerning oil and gas pipelines should recognize the need for multiple routes as dictated by political, economic, technical and strategic realities, and that a grand cooperative and win-win strategy is preferred over the current alliance-making and win-lose games. Yet, the most important preconditions for a sustainable transport of Caspian energy are national political and economic developments. The proposed framework is based on the assumption that the long-term prospect for every player is much richer than what it can achieve by maximizing its short-term gains... GO TO FEATURE

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Nov 11, 1998


Zarry's Wedding

By Massud Alemi

A flabby, middle-aged neighborhood matron by the name of Batul Khanoum was having a great time preparing to barbecue a pile of skewered kebabs for dinner. Her facial hair suggested a certain masculinity that could not be ignored. We had circled about her, dying to hear the nitty-gritty details of Zarry's big secret.

"It all began when she was in the twelfth grade, you see," Batul Khanoum said, while fanning the embers. "Their next door neighbor, Bijan, fell in love with her, you know. It may have started even before that. Perhaps they had had something going for some time already. Who knows? Anyway, he used to send her love-letters."

Batul Khanoum looked to her right and left to make sure there were no spies, and continued conspiratorially, "He wrapped them around a rock and threw them in her room by way of a window she left open. This is fifteen, sixteen years ago, now."

A collective gasp went up around her, and she went on: "One night when the Mokris were visiting, there was an enormous thunderstorm. Blackout. Jafar insisted that his guests stay overnight and go home in the morning. Mokri and his wife slept in Zarry's bedroom, while the children slept on the first floor. But this time the window in Zarry's bedroom was closed."... GO TO FEATURE

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Nov 10, 1998


Giving Batul a chance
Changing one's name for practical purposes

By Guive Mirfendereski

Hamid's letter, "What do I do? I am Italian," brought a few smiles and a flood of memories. With a name like mine -- Guive Mirfendereski -- you can imagine how many times in a day I have to spell it all out or explain each name's origin. At times, when prudence or productivity dictates, Guive becomes an imaginative combination of Guy (after Guy de-somebody, the French writer) and Yves (after Yves Mon-somebody, the French matinee idol). Oh why couldn't my parents agree on either name?

Of course, Mirfendereski suddenly becomes Polish depending on the circumstances. In the summer of '86, I had decided that when calling people, particularly in the Washington bureaucracy, I would introduce my self as Guido Murphy. One day I called the undersecretary for-something-or-other at the Department of Commerce to discuss the import classification for Turkish broadleaf tobacco. When the receptionist asked my name, I triumphantly declared "Guido Murphy." "How do you spell Guido," she asked in ernest... GO TO FEATURE

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Nov 9, 1998

    Cover story

    If Mahdi doesn't come
    A reformer's guide to engagement

    By Siamak Namazi

    Our parents had it tough at our age. They lived under the despotic rule of the Shah and had to decide whether to risk their elitist position and fight for changes in the society they lived. We have inherited a challenge that is even more daunting. We are not even sure which society we belong to, and yet our motherland remains far from exercising the democratic values we espouse. Even those of us, like myself, who have decided that Iran is where our attention and love is most needed, remain confused as to what to do and how.

    I have been driving myself to nonplus grappling with this quagmire: While I want to focus my intellect and love in making Iran a better place, I fear success as much as I do defeat. After all, if I do manage to instigate change for the better, have I not also fortified a draconian system, granting it a longer life? But then how am I to remain a disengaged and silent witness to the wide range of intolerable problems in my motherland? What if I contribute to changes that do not reflect the wants and desires of the Iranian people living inside the country? How do I even know what they are thinking and what they need?

    What follows is a silhouette of my personal plan to work around this "dammed if I do, dammed if I don't" state. It represents a process that has slowly brewed throughout the years in my mind and by no means stands above critique. In fact, one of the main reasons for writing this piece is to call on others to contribute to shaping these thoughts and to work with me towards improving what I have called "A Reformer's Guide to Engagement."... GO TO FEATURE

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 Cover Story

If Mahdi doesn't come
A reformer's guide to engagement

By Siamak Namazi

Cover stories

 Gol Aqa



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