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Cumberland Lodge: A Name I’ll Keep Remembering For Special Reasons…

Cumberland Lodge: A Name I’ll Keep Remembering For Special Reasons…

Photo by: Laura Garcia @lauragrb Kourosh Ziabari - The Huffington Post: Christmas heralds the beginning of the New Year for those who celebrate it. There are millions of people who observe Christmas, not necessarily because they follow Christianity. They sometimes mark this occasion because of their cultural and hereditary ties to the festival. But it’s an unfathomable fallacy to say that Christmas is only dear to Christians or people living and celebrating it in places, which are geographically considered to be part of the ‘West’. Even in Muslim-majority countries such as Iran, there are Christians who happily observe Christmas, and there are non-Christian Iranians who joyously join them in celebration. Shops put on...

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Why has France become a safe haven for extremism in Europe?

Why has France become a safe haven for extremism in Europe?

Kourosh Ziabari - The Huffington Post: Casting blame on those responsible for the rise of the Islamic State in various parts of the Middle East and its disconcerting extension into other parts of the world is a futile exercise. The fact that the Islamic State has developed a global sphere of influence and is able to spread instability unimpeded necessitates detailed investigation, but it is important to note that the current state of affairs is the result of the faults, shortcomings, and negligent decision-making of many actors. What matters now is that the Islamic State is making advances on multiple fronts and the international community is barely committed and insufficiently united to be able to tackle its unchecked...

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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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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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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 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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“Nowruz” Is Approaching Cheerfully. So, What Is Nowruz?

“Nowruz” Is Approaching Cheerfully. So, What Is Nowruz?

Kourosh Ziabari - The Huffington Post: The countdown has started for the arrival of Nowruz. For starters, Nowruz, meaning “new day” in Persian, is a festival that marks the beginning of solar New Year, and is celebrated by around 300 million people in the Middle East, West Asia, Central Asia, Caucasus and parts of Eastern Europe, even though the Iranian Diaspora enshrine and observe it wherever they happen to be, whether in New York and San Francisco or Paris and Amsterdam. Nowruz is celebrated by the people of Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and other countries, but it historically hailed from the Greater Iran and continues to be its foremost national holiday. Nowruz is an ancient...

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