Iranian Maya

She skipped like a little bird as she got to the park. The kids, initially perplexed that an adult would like to join them in the see-saw, soon accepted her as one of them. She then went on the slide and then tottered on the edge of the play ship, and faltered like a scarecrow. She had abandoned her real name Madieheh Mirhabibi and called herself Maya.

She’d wondered why people hated Afghanis, and went off on her own to Afghanistan to find out. Living and working with the Afghans she outgrew here prejudices, and back in Tehran, began working with Afghani refugees. It was soon obvious that they were perfectly at ease with this unusual woman in their midst.

Mahdieh Mirhabibi 5702

The Empty Doorway

We chose not to be photographed. His broad smile was somewhat subdued, though the impishness of his chuckle still remained. The big hug didn’t work out. Even in the generous light through the large open window, a frail Kiarostami with tubes wasn’t how we wanted him depicted. He had cancer, and the surgery had gone wrong. My young friend Mansour Kiaei had accompanied me and had only met the great man for the first time. He wanted to photograph the two of us. We declined, saving the moment, for when Abbas would be better, and more the Abbas, as I had known him.

Abbas Kiarostami Untitled 1978 ? 2003, from a series of 32 photographs, 122 x 93 cm.
Abbas Kiarostami Untitled 1978 – 2003, from a series of 32 photographs, 122 x 93 cm.

Continue reading “The Empty Doorway”

Open Call For Iranian and Bangladeshi Artists

Open Call For Iranian and Bangladeshi Artists
Khooshk
Exchange Program (Iran ? Bangladesh)
1-31 July, 2016 ? Tehran
7 January ? 7 February?, 2017?? Dhaka
Application Deadline
10 May, 2016
Pathshala?and Kooshk Residency present the first?round of?exchange program between Tehran and Dhaka?for two Bangladeshi?and two Iranian visual artists. This exchange program exists out of two parts. The first part is held from 1-31 July,?2016 in Tehran, Iran.
In?this residency, the Bangladeshi?artists have the opportunity to work in Tehran, Iran and collaborate with the Iranian artists. During this time, the space will be open to a local public of artists, students, and art critics. The program will end with a presentation and a panel discussion. Continue reading “Open Call For Iranian and Bangladeshi Artists”

STRANGER THAN FICTION: America?s ramped up nuclear capability: Prelude to another Cold War?

by TAJ HASHMI*

While people across the world for the last three years have been watching the unbelievable resurgence in state- and non-state-actor-sponsored violence and terror across the Arab World – Libya, Egypt, Syria, Gaza, and of late, Iraq – the Obama Administration’s recent decision to ramp up its nuclear capability has almost remained unnoticed to most analysts, let alone the common people. Even if, very similar to what happened during the Cold War, America’s ramped up nuclear capability does not lead to a nuclear conflagration, this is going to signal further nuclear proliferation, arms race and a new cold war. Some American analysts find it unbelievable, that “a president who campaigned for ‘a nuclear-free-world’ and made disarmament a main goal of American defense policy”, has thumbed up a massive revitalization for new generation of nuclear warheads and weapon carriers. The price tag is estimated to be a trillion dollars over the next 30 years. The justifications for the “modernization of nuclear capabilities” – apparently not synonymous with increasing nuclear warheads – are baffling.

While Russia is alleged to be on the march; China is assumed to be pressing further its territorial claims to the detriment of its neighbors; and Pakistan is “expanding” its arsenal. Gary Samore, Obama’s nuclear adviser in his first term, has singled out Putin’s “invasion of Ukraine” as “the most fundamental game changer” in regard to America’s ramping up its nuclear capability. One assumes, thanks to the growing influence of the hawks in Washington, soon Iran’s purported nuclear capability will further rationalize America’s nuclear modernization program.

As a New York Times editorial (Sept 24, 2018) has pointed out, during the past six years Obama promised to make the world eventually nuclear arms free. And that his promises have substantially de-escalated  the arms race: 13 countries so far have completely eliminated their nuclear materials, and 15 have destroyed portions of their stockpiles. Nevertheless, there are about 2,000 nuclear weapons located in 14 countries, and 25 countries have the materials and technology to build their own bombs.

What is apparently baffling is Obama’s raising the nuclear modernization budget from $70 to $84 billion a year. Interestingly, having no qualms with spending a trillion dollars to build a dozen nuclear submarines, 100 new bombers and 400 land-based missiles, and spending billions on weapon upgrades, the Congress hardly debated the issue.

As we know, in accordance with the “Weinberger Doctrine” (Weinberger was Reagan’s Defense Secretary), America does not want to commit the Vietnam mistakes. Now, it favors using overwhelming force for a swift and decisive victory, as it achieved in Iraq in 1991 and 2003. In 2011, America spent $739.3 billion on defense, equivalent to more than 45% of what the rest of the world spent on defense that year. Obama’s latest volte-face indicates two things: a) either he has started believing in American hawks who love to see their country as an empire, which should be on the path to “permanent war”; or b) he is too vulnerable to the overpowering influence of the Military-Industrial Complex (MIC) on the Congress.

We have reasons not to blame Obama for his “ambivalence” towards arms race and nuclear escalation. The Nobel Laureate in Peace is anything but the “most powerful man in the world”. He cannot overpower the hawks and the MIC, who, as one analyst believes, want at least one major war every ten years in some distant part of the world. The hawks are good at generating fear among the bulk of Americans about the unknown or least known enemies, such as the ISIS and the Khorasan Group in Iraq and Syria.

In view of Obama’s latest “backsliding on nuclear promises”, one may argue as to why his administration and the beneficiaries of the “permanent war” should spend another trillion dollars in the next three decades on nuclear modernization while America has slowly and steadily entered into the arena of another long war in the Middle East against the ISIS, who seems to have appeared from nowhere, and despite its meager resources and manpower, captured substantial territories in Syria and Iraq. As America’s latest war is being planned – albeit with tepid support from five Arab autocracies, one of them (Saudi Arabia) also regularly behead people in the name of Islam and Shariah like the ISIS extremists – should make the hawks and MIC  happy. So, why should the Obama Administration go for the nuclear modernization?

We believe the nuclear option is not for containing Russia, China or Iran. It is all about the “profits of war”. Another cold war or “cold peace” may lead to further arms race, even nuclear proliferation. Nevertheless, America and its Western allies would remain dominant militarily in the foreseeable future. It seems, America’s latest military adventure in the Arab World gives credence to what General Wesley Clark said about the Pentagon’s long-term plan to invade several countries in the region, including Iraq, Syria and Iran, without any specific reasons but – as one would guess – for the benefit of the MIC alone.

Similarly, one may argue that investing a trillion dollar on nuclear modernization would further benefit those who benefit from conventional wars as well. Conversely, one is not sure if the nuclear modernization in the long run might be more profitable (for the MIC) than waging unpopular wars against Syria and Iran! However, America’s ramping up the nuclear capability is likely to end the so-called unipolarity; and might usher in another cold war and “cold peace” hurting food supply, human rights, democracy and development across the world, especially in the Third World. Last but not least, nuclear modernization would eventually lead to nuclear proliferation. And there is no guarantee that terrorists and terrorist-states would not have access to nuclear technology.

ENDS

Related link: The Overblown ISIS Threat: Prelude To Another Long War?

* The writer teaches security studies at Austin Peay State University at Clarksville, Tennessee. Sage has recently published his Global Jihad and America: The Hundred-Year Beyond Iraq and Afghanistan.

Does Obama know he’s fighting on al-Qa’ida’s side?

ROBERT FISK The Independent Tuesday 27 August 2013

‘All for one and one for all’ should be the battle cry if the West goes to war against Assad’s Syrian regime. 

Quite an alliance! Was it not the Three Musketeers who shouted “All for one and one for all” each time they sought combat? This really should be the new battle cry if – or when – the statesmen of the Western world go to war against Bashar al-Assad.

The men who destroyed so many thousands on 9/11 will then be fighting alongside the very nation whose innocents they so cruelly murdered almost exactly 12 years ago. Quite an achievement for Obama, Cameron, Hollande and the rest of the miniature warlords.

This, of course, will not be trumpeted by the Pentagon or the White House – nor, I suppose, by al-Qa’ida – though they are both trying to destroy Bashar. So are the Nusra front, one of al-Qa’ida’s affiliates. But it does raise some interesting possibilities.

Maybe the Americans should ask al-Qa’ida for intelligence help – after all, this is the group with “boots on the ground”, something the Americans have no interest in doing. And maybe al-Qa’ida could offer some target information facilities to the country which usually claims that the supporters of al-Qa’ida, rather than the Syrians, are the most wanted men in the world.

There will be some ironies, of course. While the Americans drone al-Qa’ida to death in Yemen and Pakistan – along, of course, with the usual flock of civilians – they will be giving them, with the help of Messrs Cameron, Hollande and the other Little General-politicians, material assistance in Syria by hitting al-Qa’ida’s enemies. Indeed, you can bet your bottom dollar that the one target the Americans will not strike in Syria will be al-Qa’ida or the Nusra front.

And our own Prime Minister will applaud whatever the Americans do, thus allying himself with al-Qa’ida, whose London bombings may have slipped his mind. Perhaps – since there is no institutional memory left among modern governments – Cameron has forgotten how similar are the sentiments being uttered by Obama and himself to those uttered by Bush  and Blair a decade ago, the same bland assurances, uttered with such self-confidence but without quite  enough evidence to make it stick.

In Iraq, we went to war on the basis of lies originally uttered by fakers and conmen. Now it’s war by YouTube. This doesn’t mean that the terrible images of the gassed and dying Syrian civilians are false. It does mean that any evidence to the contrary is going to have to be suppressed. For example, no-one is going to be interested in persistent reports in Beirut that three Hezbollah members – fighting alongside government troops in Damascus – were apparently struck down by the same gas on the same day, supposedly in tunnels. They are now said to be undergoing treatment in a Beirut hospital. So if Syrian government forces used gas, how come Hezbollah men might have been stricken too? Blowback?

And while we’re talking about institutional memory, hands up which of our jolly statesmen know what happened last time the Americans took on the Syrian government army? I bet they can’t remember. Well it happened in Lebanon when the US Air Force decided to bomb Syrian missiles in the Bekaa Valley on 4 December 1983. I recall this very well because I was here in Lebanon. An American A-6 fighter bomber was hit by a Syrian Strela missile – Russian made, naturally – and crash-landed in the Bekaa; its pilot, Mark Lange, was killed, its co-pilot, Robert Goodman, taken prisoner and freighted off to jail in Damascus. Jesse Jackson had to travel to Syria to get him back after almost a month amid many clichés about “ending the cycle of violence”. Another American plane – this time an A-7 – was also hit by Syrian fire but the pilot managed to eject over the Mediterranean where he was plucked from the water by a Lebanese fishing boat. His plane was also destroyed.

Sure, we are told that it will be a short strike on Syria, in and out, a couple of days. That’s what Obama likes to think. But think Iran. Think Hezbollah. I rather suspect – if Obama does go ahead – that this one will run and run.

The Iranian Living Room

FabricaShop

Iranian Living Room
If you leaf through our family album
the first ten years of my life
were spent in black and white
and predominantly in our living room
yet my memories of those years
are full of colour.
Hamid Ziarati, Iranian writer
Iranian Living Room?is the first of a series of editorial projects self-published by Fabrica. Continue reading “The Iranian Living Room”

When the lady ?not for turning?, turned

An insight into the realities of politics and the difference between what politicians say and what they do. By a journalist who knows more about politicians than most. Ed.

By Alan Hart?April 9, 2013

Margaret Thatcher
The news of the death of Britain?s Iron Lady, Baroness Thatcher, prompted me to recall my favourite story about her. In 1980, in the first of her three terms as prime minister, she said in a speech to her Conservative Party?s Conference: ?You turn if you want to. The lady?s not for turning.? Because I was personally engaged with her at the time, I know that she performed her first U turn in her first 48 hours of being prime minister. Continue reading “When the lady ?not for turning?, turned”

PIX: The Interior, A Special issue on IRAN

PIX call 1 800 pix
This is a call for the next issue of PIX titled?.?The Call for Photo Submissions is attached as a PDF, and the deadline is April 15, 2013. Do consider sending in your work or passing this on to whosoever you think may be interested. A brief note is copied below.
Sincerely,
PIX team Continue reading “PIX: The Interior, A Special issue on IRAN”

Flashback 04: Shadi Ghadirian

Photo by Shadi Ghadirian

Some more flashbacks before the official launch of Chobi Mela VII! Less than 76 hours to go!

Today Iranian photographer Shadi Ghadirian talks about her experience of Chobi Mela.

1) What drew you to Chobi Mela? What are your strongest memories?

When I met Shahidul in person in Iran and he showed me the catalogues of Chobi Mela . Travelling to Dhaka was like a big surprise for me. All of it, from the beginning until the festival’s end.

2) What separates Chobi Mela from other festivals?

I felt so familiar with it all. The people who worked there were very friendly and I felt at home.

3) What is it about Dhaka that has made the biggest impression on you?

Lots of people were everywhere and they were OK with everything. I remember Nomoney and also I remember the nice girl who was my interpreter. I remember the night that we went on the boat cruise with all the photographers – there was lots of singing and dancing involved. I remember that all over the city there were photographs from festival. I also had the pleasure to meet the editor of ZoneZero, Pedro Meyer. Moreover I met the mother of Shahidul, an old lady who lived in the middle of Chobi Mela, in the same house! I loved Rahnuma (Shahidul’s partner) and I was lucky because I could stay at Rahnuma’s mother’s house where I could see for myself how Bangladeshi people live.

These are the things which stay in my mind.

4) If you were to describe Chobi Mela to a friend who had never been to Bangladesh before, how would you do so?

It would be a totally new experience. Don’t miss it.

5) Has coming to Chobi Mela changed your perception about Bangladesh?

Yes. Yes of course, I’d love to canoe there again and just walk in the streets and observe the people.

6) What is the one word that best describes Chobi Mela?

It is a friendly festival.

Visit Shadi Ghadirian’s website: www.shadighadirian.com

The 3rd International Resistance Art Festival

Dear Artist;
We are pleased to inform you that Visual Arts Association of Islamic Revolution and Holly Defense in Iran is about to hold ?The 3rd International Resistance Art Festival? in November 2013. The Festival is held in 12 categories including Painting, Drawing and Printmaking, Persian Painting, Calligraphic Painting and Typography, Illustration (Graphics), Poster, Photography, Caricature and Cartoons, Sculpture, Animation, New Conceptual Arts and finally, Scientific Congress and Research Papers. Please read the entry information below. If you are interested to participate, please attach the images of your works to this email based upon the conditions that mentioned below. (For the primary selection, only the images of your works are needed). It is notable that you can participate in more than one category in the festival contest.
WE WILL WELCOME THE SUGGESTIONS FOR CREATIVE AND NEW PROJECTS. Continue reading “The 3rd International Resistance Art Festival”