In long-term interests of peace

U.S. must change Iran policy


In long-term interests of peace
by Omid Memarian

President Obama has promised to restore the United States' moral authority in the world. In order to do so, the new administration should revise U.S. foreign policy that has proved a political failure and undermined respect for international human rights.

Topping the list is the U.S. policy of regime-change toward Iran. The policy has failed to bring any tangible changes in the Iranian regime's behavior. Instead, the policy has harmed the Iranian people's demands for the rule of law and respect for human rights.

Since December, Shirin Ebadi, the only Muslim woman ever to receive a Nobel Peace Prize, has been suffering at the hands of radical Islamists. Her office had been shut down, her clients' documents have been confiscated, and radical Islamists have protested in front of her house, calling her "an American."

The 2003 Nobel laureate has defended human rights victims and democratic values over the past two decades. She told me during a telephone interview that she believes that if she is killed, the perpetrator will never be identified.

When I asked her if she "would find (her) situation similar to (that of) politicians and intellectuals murdered 10 years ago in Iran," she replied: "Yes, they are serious about what they are doing."

The U.N. secretary general, international human rights organizations, the European Union and the Unites States have strongly condemned such harassment and asked the Iranian authorities to immediately stop such threats against Ebadi.

She incurred the government's wrath when she announced a few weeks ago that a report represented by her center, the Center for Defenders of Human Rights, was the major comprehensive and reliable information source for the United Nations. The U.N. General Assembly followed this report with a resolution against the worsening human rights situation in Iran. Iran has banned entry of U.N. and international human rights inspectors and reporters since 2006.

Ebadi's courageous activities in defense of human rights victims are an indication of Iran's vibrant civil society; one which survives, despite repression. It also demonstrates how Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad fears his own people, particularly the moderate voices for change.

The worsening situation between the United States and Iran has given Ahmadinejad an open hand to suppress his critics and opponents more harshly than ever. The more confrontational the U.S. approach to Iran, the more excuses provided the Iranian government to suppress its people. Many Iranians, including Ebadi, believe the Bush administration's strategy has played into the hands of Iran's ruling ayatollahs.

A government that respects the rights of its own citizens will behave more responsibly and accountably internationally. This is what activists like Ebadi believe and fight for.

President Obama's strategy of engaging Iran must directly address human rights concerns. So far, the United States has failed to establish any meaningful channels of dialogue with Iran. The new administration, harnessing full international support, should engage in full-fledged, but tough, negotiations with the Iranian authorities to address all issues of concern, including human rights.

Ebadi's life and ability to continue her work, as well as the survival of Iranian civil society, are closely tied with the transition in U.S.-Iran relations. It is in the long-term interests of peace and security in the region to make sure moderate voices in Iran are not uprooted by radical elements.

Omid Memarian is a Rotary World Peace fellow at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. This commentary was first published in the San Francisco Chronicle.


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Obama keeps Bush official involved with Iran sanctions

by Reporter (not verified) on

Obama administration keeps Bush official involved with Iran sanctions
Los Angeles Times - By Paul Richter
Feb 3, 2009

Stuart Levey was part of efforts for global financial boycotts.

Reporting from Washington -- The Obama administration has decided to retain the official who led the Bush administration's effort to squeeze Iran with economic sanctions, providing an important clue on how it intends to approach the Islamic Republic.

Stuart Levey, Treasury Department undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, will remain in his post, officials said. Levey has overseen an effort to dissuade international banks from dealing with Iranian government agencies and firms that U.S. officials believe support terrorism or help defy U.N. resolutions on nuclear nonproliferation.

The Obama team has promised to open talks with Iran in hopes of convincing officials in Tehran to give up their nuclear ambitions. President Obama has said that he wants both "bigger carrots and bigger sticks" to prevent the possibility of a nuclear-armed Iran. The move signals that Obama will continue to aggressively pressure Tehran, even as he offers engagement.

Administration officials have said that U.S. military force remains an option as well. Tehran insists that its nuclear program is for producing energy, but U.S. officials and their allies suspect Iran of pursuing atomic weaponry.

Levey, a Harvard-trained lawyer, visited scores of banks overseas to persuade them not to do business with Iran. His campaign, which also has targeted shipping and insurance firms, has brought protests from the Tehran government.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said Levey had served "with great distinction" since 2004, and keeping him was in the "national interest."

A State Department official said the new administration's goal was to "keep what works and to stop doing what doesn't produce results."

Still awaiting action by the Obama administration is a decision on whether to appoint a "super envoy" to deal with Iran.

Dennis Ross, a former U.S. Mideast peace negotiator and foreign policy advisor to Obama's political campaign, is the rumored choice for the job. But officials insist that no decision has been made. Some observers have argued that Ross is too hawkish for the job.

Meanwhile, the five nations negotiating with Iran -- China, France, Britain, Russia and Germany -- meet Wednesday in Berlin. The United States will also be there, represented by William Burns, undersecretary of State for political affairs.


US targets Chinese, Iranian, NKorean firms

by Reporter (not verified) on

US targets Chinese, Iranian, NKorean firms
AP - World News
Feb 2, 2009

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration said Monday it has imposed sanctions on companies in North Korea, China and Iran for violating U.S. law aimed at stopping the spread of missiles and other weapons technology.

The penalties were the first of their kind from the new U.S. administration and signaled a willingness to continue the Bush administration's tough stance on weapons proliferation.

The sanctions, while largely symbolic, come at a sensitive time in two key U.S. diplomatic efforts. The United States relies on Chinese leverage in international negotiations to persuade North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons programs. The Obama administration also needs the help of China, a veto-wielding member of the U.N. Security Council, to deter Iran from pursuing a nuclear weapon.

The measures were in the works for some time, but Obama officials signed off on them after the new president took office and announced them in Monday's Federal Register. They bar the companies from trade with the United States that they were not likely involved in.

The Obama administration is currently reviewing its North Korea policy, but Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has called the six-nation nuclear disarmament talks "essential." The United States heavily relies on China, the host of the negotiations and a country seen as having the most outside leverage with the North.

Those talks are stalled, however, and tensions are rising on the Korean peninsula as the North has made increasingly bellicose threats since President Barack Obama's inauguration. Pyongyang pledged on Monday to maintain its atomic weapons and warned of a possible nuclear war. On Friday, the North said it would scrap all peace accords with Seoul.

The North Korean companies are Korea Mining and Development Corporation, Mokong Trading Corporation and Sino-Ki. The Iranian companies are Shahid Bakeri Industrial Group and Shahid Hemmat Industrial Group. The Chinese companies are Dalian Sunny Industries and Bellamax.

Darius Kadivar

FYI/Iran arrests women's rights campaigner (AFP)

by Darius Kadivar on

Iran has arrested a women's rights activist involved in an award-winning campaign that seeks changes to laws deemed unfair to women, a newspaper reported on Sunday.

Security officials arrested Nafiseh Azad on Saturday in the Darakeh mountains north of Tehran while she was collecting signatures for the campaign's petition, the Sarmayeh newspaper said.

Iran arrests women's rights campaigner

Darius Kadivar

FRANCE Can Be Iranian Civil Society's BEST ALLY !

by Darius Kadivar on

Ari Siletz

Omid, well reasoned article. Thank you.

by Ari Siletz on

US policy towards Iran is similar to the medieval practice of putting a people under siege.  This type of warfare creates paranoia in the leadership, sets citizens against each other, and turns heroes into traitors in the minds of the people. If Obama wishes to restore moral authority to America, the siege of Iran must end.



by Faribors Maleknasri M.D. (not verified) on

Bernard Kouchner and secretary to Human Rights Issues Rama Yade, have greeted Mrs. Ebadi in Paris on Friday to speak about......and the first man threatend the Islamic Republic of Iran with atomic bombs. Very nice parallels.
We "IRANIAN"s can be proud having the possibility to be informed in the completely neutral manner. We get only pure informations served. However always fractions, a part, positiv and helpfull sequences for the informers. He lives of the salary that he gets for informing us in the kind of original text. These individuals are up to my opinion very respectable people. There are other informers they work just for the sake of God against God. These NOKARANE BI JIREH O MAVAJEB..... well nobody likes them. Greeting



by Nader Khan (not verified) on

as long as USA does not respect other countries.
all remain the same.
PLZ fire john Bolton.
very narrow minded .
bring someone w respect to both countries.


Propaganda & politicization of the Noble Peace Prize!!!

by Kurush (not verified) on

Just because the West has created an idol, the Noble Peace Prize, it does not mean we must worship it and obey its oracles! Here is for all of you idolators out there... The Peace prize is a deliberately politicized propaganda tool in the hands of the Western imperialism. It is given to the nationals of the enemey countries which the West has an agenda against. In the 70's, it was given to Andrei Sakharov, to cause embarrassement to the Soviets. Sakharov's goal was attained. The Soviets were undone. The west was then free to invade other countries, Afghanistan & Iraq, with massive human rights violations in those two countries perpetrated by the Western thugs, without worrying about the Soviet threat . Job well done Mr Sakharov! You brought humiliations to your fellow Russians, and pain & suffering to the people of Afghanistan & Iraq who can not turn to the Soviets for help. Job well done being the West's lapdog! In the 80's, the Noble was given to Lech Walesa, who was going to free Poland from the Soviets and Communism. Job well done Mr. Walesa, your homeland, Poland, is now a colony of the West by allowing the NATO, against Poland's long term interests, to station its StarWar paraphernalia in your 'freed' homeland engaged in capitalist orgy of greed and domination. Other Noble Peace Prize winners: Menahem Begin, a well-known terrorist wanted by the British for planting bombs in Hotels, Shimon Perez, Henry kissinger ( the Noble selecting committee did not see a Zionist whom they did not love!). Now Shirin! Job well-done... Incidentally, what is all this mendacity about human rights in Iran, when the Western thugs have been on rampage in Afghanistan and Iraq for the better part of the decade! I guess the Human Rights are not meant for the slaves of the West. Are they?


Shirin Ebadi is waisting of time

by Izzy (not verified) on

Mr. Mermarian,

Your article is a waist of time. IRAN does not recognize EBADI, MOJAHEDIN (RAJAVIS), TUDEH, COMMUNISTS, MONARCHISTS, etc. She is too much. IRAN has elections coming up. She has not chance to win. The next possible candidate is Qalibaf or Larijani.

Nader Vanaki

The US Government Foreign Policy Toward Iran

by Nader Vanaki on

All US administrations for the last 30 years have failed to recognize that Iran is a regional power with influence in its neighboring countries.  The incredible human cost of war in Afghanistan and Iraq could have been prevented had the US government seeked Iranian help in understanding the politics of the region.

The most immature thing to state in diplomacy towards Iran today is talk of regime change.  First of all who the hell is the US government to change the regime in Iran?  When did that ever work?  What is the proposed alternative?  All this comes from policy makers who never read a single book on Iran and take a post in the US administration prescribing means and methods to run the world.

The Obama adminstration better find some experts on Iran and stay away from likes of John Bolton whose policies and attitudes have resulted in such dismal failures.  The US is talking to an equal in the region and not an inferior.


Human Rights Really!!!!

by Rooh e Mosadeq (not verified) on

As a Persian with the longest history of HUMAN RIGHTS in the world, I would like to highlight these issues:

Western Human Rights is a tool to use against other governments when their own interests are in danger not because they care about other Human...good example of this: their support to the CORRAPT governments of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Gulf countries and hundred others across the globe!! Which make their track records quite dark and questionable!!

Their direct interferences have destroyed what we could have achieved in Amir Kabir or Mosadeq era long before IRI, not because of Human Rights but only for their own interests…

If they really care about Human Rights why they have put us under 20 years of Sanctions which only ordinary Iranians are suffering...

Az Khab e Geran Khab e Geran Khabe Geran Khiz...

Payendeh Iran

Tanha dar Ahmadabad


Iranian do not like to have western life

by cartoonist on

we do not like to have such life

1- to became gay

2- to every where is crime or porn and drugs  gun or gangs.

3- a corrupted regime.

4- we are happy with same life we have .

we had before was so ugly we changed , stay  far from are religion and are family and children. we do not like to have dirty life , porn and ...such bad life in Canada or USA.



33 Mil. Vs 66 Mil !!

by Nokteh (not verified) on

Can anybody explain to me why we could get rid of the previous regime with a smaller population than the one we have now? Question is what has changed with the psychy of the people in the past 30 years. In reality people had more power during the Shah's time than now or at least fealt more empowered or maybe he wasn't as blood thirsty compare to this crowd in charge who have stilled such fear in the hearts to render the peopole completely powerless but even worst, hopeless. Yes! we deserve better, rightfully, however do we make choices that reflect that sentiment? Time has already given its verdict and we have lived through it for the past 3 decades. It is not about waking up and smelling whatever, is actually getting rid of the smell by cleaning off what stuck to us when we stepped in it.



by samsam1111 on

I doubt that you are the real sound like the character on this site who impersonate patriots names to muddy the water ..your  gig is kinda up..


The Perfume of History

by Anonymous54 (not verified) on


The Underworld's Majestic Glory

I am longing
For an old wine cellar
With humid slippery stair cases
Going down and further down
To reach them
In utter darkness
I love the perfume of old dust
Sitting on the bottles
In patience since antiquity
To me in these emasculate historic grave yards
One can find the bone of my ancestors
Who fought for love?
That must spread for humanity
Beyond border & shallow hastened convention
Oh this humidity in cellar
Remind me that my
Soul is of the same nature
As my good old grand grand grand... more grand father
Oh I love antiquity!
For in its dust
I find the vapor of freshness air to breathe
In a sunny day one find by old sea
Let me hold one of you in my hand now
To bring you en route the slippery damped stair cases
To the light of surface
To uncork you
To hear your ancient sound of pouring
To share you with friends for few hours
That could last for millennium
With its imprint on one's soul memory
O the glory of you in your underground dress in dust
Is at par with the beauty of sun light after the storm

January, 530 B.C.
Abol Danesh, The Underground


The crunch time

by Fred on

Thank you sickofiri, let me assure you should the situation warrants it I’ll not hesitate a millisecond to apologize for any and all that I’ve said. In this instance I made no direct or indirect mention of Ebadi. And calling Memarian an avid Khatami supporter is a factual statement.  The crux of my comment was about the habit of passing the blame to US.  True Bush made it so palatable but with Obama at the helm it is not going to be as digestible.  

All the Islamists/lefties had it so good and didn’t know it and now have to face the Islamist beast in the eye without the benefit of blaming its behavior on the U.S.


With respect..

by Landanneshin (not verified) on

With due respect to Ms. Ebadi for her courageous and tireless efforts in defence of human rights and dignity, the question of Irano-US relations since 1997 is far more complicated and riddled with so much poisonous rhetoric and missdeeds that it could not be undone so easily. What is needed- and there is no quick fix for it,is for both political systems to change their perception of themselves and their percieaved foe; for America,with present critical economic crisis in mind,to forgo forever the dream of emulating the Roman empire, ie. 'you are either with us or shall vanquish', and for Iran to realise that the validity of revoultionary rhetoric and fervent hatred,both within and without the country,has long expired. Let's hope Mr. Obama can kick-start the process of change and leave Iran with no alternative but to respond in kind.


Fred Jon:

by sickofiri (not verified) on

Dear Fred: I normally agree with your POV, however, I do think Ebadi and Memarian should not be written off as reformists when they are doing their best within the framework of the IRI. They obviously believe that it's the only way to achieve democracy in Iran and they are willing to continue their efforts despite past failures.

You can ask Omid why he believes that the reformists can succeed this time around and debate him on that so we can learn a few things.

But please refrain from labeling him and Ebadi.

I hope you're not offended by my constructive criticism. I always enjoy your erudite comments.


I didn’t understand your

by varjavand on

I didn’t understand your point. Are you in favor of Obama’s approach or oppose to it. You are claiming that so far his administration has failed to establish . . . . . . . . Do you think it is shaf va koon moghanni so to speak. Obama has been in office for only 10 days. He has inherited a myriad of domestic problems that have be dealt with.

I believe in his approach but we should be patient.  


U.S. must change Iran policy

by Faribors Maleknasri M.D. (not verified) on

SAATE KHAB, it has done it allready. However only verbally. That is the beginnening anyhow. Of the end of global imperialism.

Darius Kadivar


by Darius Kadivar on

Bienvenue en France Madame Ebadi !  French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner and secretary to Human Rights Issues Rama Yade, have greeted Mrs. Ebadi in Paris on Friday to speak about Human Rights issues in Iran.



Passing the buck

by Fred on

The proposition that the US-Islamist republic relation or lack of one has a direct effect on the behavior of the Islamists does not stand the test of history.

 During Khatami which Memarian is an avid proponent of, the Clinton Administration went as far as a quasi apology for the past U.S. misdeeds in Iran, relaxed the import and export to and from Iran. During the same period the Islamist regime murdered writers and intellectuals and openly suppressed the students and unions. Their overseas terrorist activities not only went on unabated, its tempo increased markedly.  

This old game of blaming the Islamists maniacal behavior on others is passé. The only viable solution is a concerted effort in empowering Iranians to take the matter into their own hands and rid Iran and the world of this Islamist cancer.