Archive for May, 2017

Instability and chaos in the Middle East are the axis of US-Israeli power politics

May 23, 2017

Nasir Khan, May 23, 2017

All those who are interested in understanding the quagmire of war, violence, the victimisation of Palestinians by Israel, rampant abuse of human rights, etc., in which the whole region of the Middle East is enmeshed will readily appreciate the soundness of the views of President Rouhani. What he says is reasonable and factual.

However, political observers know fully well that the main catalysts of instability, war, violence and terror in the region have been the U.S. imperialists and the Zionist rulers of Israel. If there was stability in the region, then the foundation stones of their militaristic domination and their power politics in the region will come under threat. In such a scenario, Arab reactionary regimes, such as the House of Saud, will no longer be able to serve the US-Israeli power games. That also means the two allies are duty-bound to negate or neutralise any attempts or prospects for any positive change in the region because that will be detrimental to their long-term strategies and political manipulation.

As a consequence, they will keep the status quo at any cost, and not let any developments they perceive as challenging their imperial interests in any way. To accuse Iran of ambitions to dominate the Middle East politically is merely a ruse to keep their imperial diktat.

The question of stability will remain a distant dream. The overt and covert fanning of the Sunni-Shia conflict between Arab countries and Iran by the two powerful powers, the US and Israel, to further their hegemonic goals seems to have gained the upper hand. Where will that lead to is not difficult to foresee.

Rouhani says regional stability impossible without Iran

 http://www.reuters.com/article/us-iran-rouhani-idUSKBN18I1M9
Iranian president Hassan Rouhani gestures during a news conference in Tehran,
Iran, May 22, 2017. TIMA via REUTERS
By Parisa Hafezi and Bozorgmehr Sharafedin | DUBAI/LONDON

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Monday stability could not be achieved in the Middle East without Tehran’s help, responding to criticism of the Islamic Republic from U.S. President Donald Trump who is visiting the region.

Trump called for a U.S. alliance with Muslim countries on Sunday aimed at fighting terrorism, singling out Iran as a major source of funding and support for militants in the Arab world.

Rouhani, a pragmatist who won last week’s presidential election, hit back hard by dismissing the summit as a “ceremonial (event) that had no political value and will bear no results”.

“Who can say regional stability can be restored without Iran? Who can say the region will experience total stability without Iran?” he said at a news conference.

At a weekend summit in Riyadh, Trump accused Iran of funding and arming “terrorists, militias and other extremist groups” in Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon and backing President Bashar al-Assad in Syria’s civil war.

Rouhani, who fronted Tehran’s deal with six major powers in 2015 to curb Iran’s nuclear program in return for the lifting of sanctions, said the U.S. administration lacked knowledge about the Middle East.

“Americans resorted to many different methods against Iran but failed in all … We are waiting for the new U.S. administration to find stability and continuity in its policies,” Rouhani said.

“The problem is that the Americans do not know our region and those who advise U.S. officials are misleading them.”

Rouhani said Iran was the vital force behind the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and repeated Iran’s official stance that the United States and Saudi Arabia are funding “terrorism” in the Middle East.

“Who fought against the terrorists? It was Iran, Syria, Hezbollah and Russia. But who funded the terrorists? Those who fund terrorists cannot claim they are fighting against them,” he said.

Tehran and Riyadh are involved in proxy wars across the region, backing opposite sides in Syria, Yemen, Iraq and Lebanon.

FRAGILE DIPLOMACY

Already fragile diplomatic and trade ties between Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shi’ite-dominated Iran were severed last year, after Saudi Arabia executed a Shi’ite cleric and as a result protesters ransacked the Saudi embassy in Iran.

“Buying arms or building weapons won’t make a country powerful. Military power is only a part of strength and we are fully aware of that. But the foundation of power is national strength and this only happens through elections,” Rouhani said.

“Maybe it will help if Saudi leaders let their people to decide over their country’s fate by casting their vote … It will make them (rulers) stronger.”

He said Iran welcomed better relations with its regional neighbors and pledged to fulfill his campaign promises of opening Iran to the world and delivering freedoms to the Iranian people.

“The Iranian people voted for moderation as they know a prosperous economy and jobs can only happen through investment, and investment through freedom and interaction with the world,” he said.

Rouhani’s efforts to open up Iran to less hostile relations with the West still have to be couched in the rhetoric of anti-Americanism that has been a pillar of Iranian rule since the Islamic Revolution of 1979. Iran’s most powerful authority – Ayatollah Ali Khamenei – has ruled out normalization of ties with the United States.

Iran’s economy has slowly recovered since the lifting of sanctions last year but deals with Western investors are few and far between as foreign investors are cautious about trading with or investing in Iran, fearing penalties from remaining unilateral U.S. sanctions.

Washington last week imposed new sanctions on Iran, over its ballistic missile program.

“The Iranian nation has decided to be powerful. Our missiles are for peace and for defense … American officials should know that whenever we need to technically test a missile, we will do so and will not wait for their permission,” Rouhani said, repeating Iran’s commonly expressed stance on the program.

“America’s dream on ending Iran’s missile program will never come true.”

(Writing by Parisa Hafezi; Editing by Louise Ireland)

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Modernity in European history

May 5, 2017

Nasir Khan

“The point of modernity is to live a life without illusions while not becoming disillusioned.”

― Italian Marxist thinker and politician Antonio Gramsci (1891-1937)

Modernity means many things to different people. But in learned discourse, it refers to the collective body of particular socio-cultural norms and attitudes that emerged when the medieval period in European history gave way to new thinking. Prior to modernity, scholasticism of the middle ages covered all aspects of socio-political life. Religion was the pivotal force that controlled the social and political thinking of the people as well as moulded political structures and power relations.

The Church hierarchy interpreted and enforced socio-cultural norms. Even monarchs, barons and landed aristocrats had to accept the directives of the Church in matters that seemed to have little or nothing to do with religion. In simple words, the Church was at the apex of the societal pyramid.

Then the scene started to change. At grave risks, some thinkers and public-spirited people started to question matters relating to the principles of absolutism, divine rights of kings, the power of the Church, even the old sacrosanct doctrines and dogmas that were once only under the domain of the clerics. Now people began to question the rationale of age-old norms and customs. This was something that was strictly forbidden in the middle ages.

We should keep in mind that the process of change was gradual but it had pointed to a new direction in social and political thinking and practice. The powers of omnipotent deity were questioned and some thinkers rejected all notions of any supernatural beings. Such ideas have made meaningful inroads in Europe. More people are rejecting old traditional modes of thought and dogmas.

The roles of many philosophers from the sixteenth and the seventeenth centuries onwards have been instrumental in exploring new ideas to meet the needs of the times.

What public praise for a philosopher’s ideas leads to

May 3, 2017

Nasir Khan, May 3, 2017

“I never desired to please the rabble. What pleased them, I did not learn; and what I knew was far removed from their understanding.”

— Greek philosopher Epicurus (341 BC – 271 BC)

Epicurus was a renowned philosopher and he certainly was aware of the worth of his ideas. In a simple and subtle way, he has also touched our profound longings to be appreciated by others for our mental and intellectual prowess and skills. Some may call it a human trait, some sceptics may call it a human weakness. Let us see what the public approval of one’s ideas, especially those of a philosopher, in reality amount to: That ideas are framed and presented in such a way that they will appeal to the feelings of the maximum number of ordinary people, who, in return, will heap praise on some ‘clever’ guy!

Can a philosopher or thinking person really expect to validate his ideas with the help of popular applause and praise? Epicurus reply was in the negative. So is mine, after having seen how things work in our times!

In fact, the shoddy tricks played on the unwary and simple people (simple people never think they are simple!) are a form of manipulation. In extreme cases that has led to personality cults, from the olden times to the present times, with disastrous consequences. We are still reaping the toxic fruits of our gullibility as common people because those personality cults are still shaping our history. The dead of the ancient and past history still rule us from their graves. We never question them or their motives. We simply idolise them and sing their praises!