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Mateen, Roof, Lanza: What Do They Have In Common?

Mateen, Roof, Lanza: What Do They Have In Common?

Kourosh Ziabari - Fair Observer: In June, a mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando claimed 49 lives and left 53 wounded. America was left in shock as the deadliest shooting spree in the modern history of the country took place. The perpetrator, Omar Mateen, was himself killed in a shootout with police almost three hours after instigating the rampage at the Pulse nightclub. As soon as details about his identity went public, US media outlets were flooded with accusations that he was an “Islamic terrorist” who carried out the attack on behalf of the self-called Islamic State (Daesh). Mateen, a US citizen, was born and raised in New York. However, the media doggedly highlighted his paternal origins and insisted that he was...

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There Are No Clear Winners in the Saudi War on Yemen: Prof. Charles Schmitz

There Are No Clear Winners in the Saudi War on Yemen: Prof. Charles Schmitz

Kourosh Ziabari - Fair Observer: When Saudi Arabia and a coalition of its regional partners embarked on a military campaign against Yemen in March 2015, it was hardly predictable that the war would drag on for more than a year and morph into a humanitarian crisis. The emergency is characterized by massive civilian casualties, displacement of citizens, nationwide water and fuel shortages and deepening poverty in the already-impoverished country. Saudi military engagement was a response to an uprising by the Shiite Houthis in northern Yemen trying to push the government of Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi from power. In late March, UNICEF warned that some 320,000 Yemeni children faced the risk of life-threatening malnutrition, while 82% of...

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Why Iran’s hardliners are afraid of Hashemi Rafsanjani

Why Iran’s hardliners are afraid of Hashemi Rafsanjani

Kourosh Ziabari - Middle East Eye: Eleven years ago, when Iranians were getting ready to head to polls to elect the replacement of the reformist president Mohammad Khatami, who ruled Iran for eight years and steered the country into achieving some international reputation as a peace-loving nation spearheading the global movement of “Dialogue of Civilisations,” the hardliners who had miserably lost grip over the executive branch of the government were thinking of ways to seize back power. Despite a great deal of division and lack of unanimity, the ultra-conservatives came to a consensus to throw their weight behind Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the 2005 presidential election. Ahmadinejad was not a recognised and eminent politician....

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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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