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The Big Discovery: Finding a Mosque in the Middle of Nowhere

The Big Discovery: Finding a Mosque in the Middle of Nowhere

Kourosh Ziabari - International Policy Digest: The last thing a tourist would anticipate to unearth in Cartagena de Indias in northern Colombia is a mosque in the middle of an unthinkably impoverished, underprivileged slum on the outskirts of the city close to the beach bordering the Caribbean Sea in La Boquilla. To understand the notion of being an absolute minority, one can compare the population of Colombia of about 49.8 million to the country’s Muslim citizens: minimally no more than 15,000! So, for a city like Cartagena with about 1.2 million residents, you might need a magnifying glass to detect the Muslims. Joaquin Sarmiento/FNPI The only mosque in Cartagena is situated somewhere that even many locals residing here for...

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Tehran and Washington: How to overcome a history of mutual skepticism

Tehran and Washington: How to overcome a history of mutual skepticism

Kourosh Ziabari - Your Middle East: The contemporary history of Iran-U.S. relations is replete with misunderstandings and mutual skepticism. Up to 1979, Tehran and Washington were staunch allies. President Jimmy Carter had famously referred to Iran as an “island of stability” in the Middle East, and the financial, military and political backing of the United States had emboldened Iran to boast of being a regional gendarme. Besides, frequent trips by the Iranian king and government officials to the States and official visits to Iran by consecutive U.S. Presidents since 1943, when Franklin D. Roosevelt first traveled to Tehran to confer with Joseph Stalin and Winston Churchill at the Tehran Conference, underlined the importance of...

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Daesh is Daesh: Neither Iran nor Saudi Arabia resembles this death cult

Daesh is Daesh: Neither Iran nor Saudi Arabia resembles this death cult

Kourosh Ziabari - Middle East Eye: An opinion article recently published in Middle East Eye drew an analogy between the self-proclaimed Islamic State (Daesh), and my country, Iran. The author argued that Daesh’s ideology, worldview and modus operandi closely resonate with those of Iran. The argument went that if the people who are alarmed by the atrocities of IS would like to imagine what will happen if this death squad establishes a real, fully fledged “state”, they’d better look at Iran. I am familiar with the previous works of the author and can confidently assert that he is an accomplished and well-spoken writer and analyst. He has penned many interesting articles, including on such crucial issues such as Islamophobia,...

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Key Reasons for the Unchecked Growth of Terrorism in the Middle East: Interview with Prof. Jeffrey Haynes

Key Reasons for the Unchecked Growth of Terrorism in the Middle East: Interview with Prof. Jeffrey Haynes

Kourosh Ziabari - Iran Review: It’s said that ISIS has recently conceded significant parts of the territories it used to dominate since 2014. Rebels and Daesh militants have been driven out of the northern parts of Syria through the combined effect of separate operations by pro-government forces and the U.S. and Russian airstrikes. Foreign Policy reports that at the end of 2014, ISIS ruled over around one-third of Iraq and one-third of Syria, but now, according to IHS Jane’s 360, they’ve lost 22% of that territory. With the major losses in territory it has suffered and the diminution of its fighters, ISIS still poses a valid threat to peace and security not only in the Middle East but across the world, and it’s imperative to...

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Ambassador Peter Jenkins: This American Rose Is Sick

Ambassador Peter Jenkins: This American Rose Is Sick

Kourosh Ziabari - Iran Review: The Iran nuclear deal, popularly known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, has been widely lauded as a historic understanding that untangled an apparently intractable dilemma spanning over more than a decade, and opened broad new prospects for Iran and the international community to collaborate with no specter of distrust and confrontation around the corner. The global media and Iran pundits are diligently probing the different dimensions of the landmark deal and how it affects Iran’s connections with the outside world. At the same time, the JCPOA signed last summer constitutes an invariable theme in the U.S. presidential candidates’ debates and speeches these days. The Republican nominee...

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ISIS, An Important Wake-up Call about Arab World’s Problems and Deficiencies: Interview with Rami G. Khouri

ISIS, An Important Wake-up Call about Arab World’s Problems and Deficiencies: Interview with Rami G. Khouri

Kourosh Ziabari - Iran Review: The Islamic State of Syria and Iraq (ISIS) is referred to as the richest terrorist organization in the world. In 2015, it earned $2.4 billion through oil exports and illegal taxation and extortion from the desperate people living under its harrowing rule. Defeating the ISIS terrorists militarily appears to be a daunting task, and people hesitate to call the annihilation of ISIS an easily-reachable and plausible target, at least for the time being when the international community is divided on whom to support and whom to fight in Syria, and the influential actors pursue apparently conflicting interests. The latest estimates by the U.S. intelligence community put the number of ISIS recruits at 25,000,...

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Iran’s not benefiting from the nuclear deal, and that’s not good for Rouhani

Iran’s not benefiting from the nuclear deal, and that’s not good for Rouhani

Kourosh Ziabari - Middle East Eye: When Iran and the six major global powers reached an agreement last summer to put an end to the controversy surrounding Tehran’s nuclear programme by announcing the conclusion of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, Iranians flocked to the streets en masse, celebrating and rejoicing at what they believed would be the emergence of a new horizon in their lives. Most of them were youths, and the freshness of their teenage years had been spoiled by the adventurous policies of the former hardline president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who failed to fortify Iran’s oil-dependent economy in the years when the price of crude oil was at its all-time high and the nation allegedly earned something between...

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Iranians Voted for Engagement Twice: Now It’s the West’s Turn

Iranians Voted for Engagement Twice: Now It’s the West’s Turn

Kourosh Ziabari - The Huffington Post: The political behavior of the Iranian people is not always easily predictable or discernable. Even though there are hints as to the reasons why they voted for the ultra-conservative Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to become president which embroiled the entire nation in all-out economic and political chaos, the observers of Iran’s political panorama are still debating the dynamics that underpinned Ahmadinejad’s confounding success in 2005 and his disputed reelection in 2009. However, what is clear is that Iranians didn’t endorse Ahmadinejad because he was a seasoned politician or knew how to bolster the country’s foreign relations. He was a populist leader whose demagogic economic strategies...

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The Colombian City of Vistas, Graffiti and Caribbean Culture

The Colombian City of Vistas, Graffiti and Caribbean Culture

Kourosh Ziabari - Fair Observer: Colombia is captivatingly emblematic of Latin American traits that everyone associates with the region even without visiting it: a football fervor that paralyzes life and business nationwide whenever Los Cafeteros are playing; a liquefying Amazonian humidity; and a culture of public sanguinity that hardly ever fades away. The journey to get here is unrelenting. Long flights and numerous stopovers totaling some 27 hours finally took me to the city most commonly associated with the late Nobel Prize laureate in literature Gabriel García Márquez. As Colombia’s national icon, Gabo, as he is nicknamed, set some of his major novels, including Of Love and other Demons and Love in the Time of Cholera,...

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Iran Nuclear Deal Is One of the Most Positive Signs in the Whole Region: Lord Alderdice

Iran Nuclear Deal Is One of the Most Positive Signs in the Whole Region: Lord Alderdice

Kourosh Ziabari - Iran Review: On April 27, the 7th United Nations Alliance of Civilizations Global Forum wrapped up in the Azerbaijani capital, Baku. More than 3,500 participants from across the globe, including some 150 young leaders from nearly 100 countries attended the 3-day international gathering, exploring the venues for creating inclusive societies and promoting representative democracy to realize global peace and sustainable development. The UNAOC Global Forum was attended by several dignitaries from different nations, including incumbent and former heads of government and state, foreign ministers, parliamentarians, UN officials, academicians, public figures and other luminaries. In panels and plenary sessions, the speakers...

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Iran and Turkey: Why two regional heavyweights need to de-escalate

Iran and Turkey: Why two regional heavyweights need to de-escalate

Kourosh Ziabari - Middle East Eye: It’s a bitter irony that Iran, a big Muslim nation located at the crossroads of the world’s energy hub, doesn’t maintain cordial relations with several major countries in the Muslim world, and in many cases, these bilateral relations have been unsteady and frosty, if not non-existent. Iran’s relations with Egypt, the most populous Arab country, have been underdeveloped and diminutive since the Iranian Revolution of 1979. A sign of change was the visit by ousted Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi to Tehran in August 2012 to attend the 16th Non-Aligned Movement summit. The visit was reciprocated by former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who travelled to Egypt in February 2013, the...

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Tearing Up the Iran Deal Poses a Major Breach of Trust to US Partners

Tearing Up the Iran Deal Poses a Major Breach of Trust to US Partners

Kourosh Ziabari - Iran Review: While much attention is being paid to the sweeping victories gained by the real estate tycoon Donald Trump in the 2016 Republican Party presidential primaries, there are many observers of the U.S. foreign policy who share a common concern over the fate of the Iran nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, under President Barack Obama’s successor. An investigative journalist and reporter says the nuclear deal is not a bilateral agreement involving Iran and the United States, and five other nations, including some of the closest U.S. allies in NATO contributed to securing it, so a possible violation of the terms of the deal by the next American President would “pose a major...

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