Greetings! I am back to wish you all a wonderful 2008 — and to open another window on Iran.
I hope you have had a peaceful holiday. In the spirit of celebration, let’s open this window with festive images of light and color. The young Iranian photographer Hoda Alavi uses urban landscape as her canvas and paints with light. Let’s visit her latest photo exhibit. Click on here to view it: Hoda Alavi Photography Exhibit.
Article on Iranian Women
* While on the subject of women, I have a very interesting article for you from the Guardian (Jan. 9) courtesy of Amir Companieh. The essay encourages readers to forget about stereotypes and look instead at the reality of women’s vibrant and organized activism in Iran: http://www.guardian.co.uk/iran/story/0,,2237579,00.html.
* Still on the subject of women, take a look at images of Iranian women chess players competing for the national championship. Chess is an extremely popular hobby in Iran: http://www.shirzanan.com/spip.php?article1036.
* Over the holidays, I read an excellent book which I recommend to anyone interested in better understanding the complexities of the strategic games played by various regional and outside forces in relation to Iran and its neighboring countries. Authored by Trita Parsi and published by Yale University Press, the book is called Treacherous Alliance: the Secret Dealings of Israel, Iran, and the United States.
The Persian Gulf Incident
* Trita’s book is, in fact, a great tool for helping us understand that many a piece of shocking news about the region has to be placed in its full strategic context to be understood better. A perfect example of that is the recent news of the “aggressive maneuvers” by Iranian boats near American warships in the Persian Gulf. The incident, which many of you have been asking about, seemed totally baffling. Why would Iran provoke the massive American military machine sitting on three of its borders? According to an article sent to me by Daniel Pourkesali, “The list of those who are less than fully confident in Pentagon’s video/audio mash up of aggressive maneuvers by Iranian boats near American warships in the Strait of Hormuz now includes the Pentagon itself.” You can read the full article at this link: http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/01/10/degrees-of-confidence-on-us-iran-naval-incident/?hp
* Daniel also distributed a video supplied by the Iranian Navy which suggests that the incident was a simple and routine exchange in the Gulf: http://www.politube.org/show/341 [or click on the video below to view it].
* Today’s Washington Post, contains an article that supports Dr. Pourkesali’s view suggesting “Iranian Boats May Not Have Made Radio Threat, Pentagon Says,” *check it out: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/01/10/AR2008011000692.html?sub=AR&sid=ST2008011001831.
* Matt Miller, watching the world from Cairo where he is studying Arabic this semester, has sent another related piece by the historian and national security policy analyst, Gareth Porter who further supports the view that the initial report on the Iranian “aggressive” behavior has been unfounded. Thanks Matt! http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/011108J.shtml
There we are! More misinformation about Iran…and really scary misinformation at that!
Iran Opens a Peace Museum
* Iran will open a peace museum to promote sentiments for peace in a culture that still remembers the pain of an 8-year war that started with Saddam’s aggression and led to his use of chemical weapons on Iraqi Kurds and Iranians. The museum which will soon open in Tehran City Park has the sculpture of a white dove at its entrance. While attributing imaginary violence to the culture is common, Christian Science Monitor’s exceptional attention to this museum is commendable. Not surprisingly, the tone of the article suggests that the museum is something of an aberration in a culture that “glorifies martyrdom.” It would be fantastic if the author of the article Scott Peterson would have the opportunity to take a trip to Iran. You can read the article on the Peace Museum in Iran at: http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/1224/p01s03-wome.html?page=1.
A Concert of Sufi Music in Tehran
* Iranians love live music. When master musicians perform, it is common to line up outside the concert hall from the night before the box office opens to make sure you can obtain tickets. I would like to close this window with a ten minute clip from a Sufi music performance at Vahdat Hall, a major concert hall in Tehran. The concert was sent to me by a dear friend, Nakhostin Javidani: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=17wue10S0l0&feature=related [or click the video below to view it].
Until our next window, have a great week!
Fatemeh Keshavarz, Professor and Chair
Dept. of Asian and Near Eastern Languages and Literatures
Washington University in St. Louis
Tel: (314) 935-5156
Fax: (314) 935-4399