White Balloon

Daily Journal of Mahaan, an Iranian-American student residing in USA.

Monday, April 21, 2003

Category: Politics of Iran

The story of Sina Motallebi's arrest is still filling my mind. I'm sure that he'll be released very soon, but the whole stupid approach the treachery that I see in the totaliter part of the Islamic Republic is a total disgusting picture. They're shuting down any alternative idea who might be a minute challenge to them. In all theses recent interogations and the type of people that they guys have summoned, they are targeting the non-political faction of Iranian intellectuals. How on earth you can imagine that people like Mottalebi, Kambiz Kaheh, etc get arrested because of being a threat to national security! I'm gravely scared of a day not that far that even people like me give up on any reform within the Islamic Republic. What I know is that Iran will pay a very heavy price in case of revolution.

Sunday, April 20, 2003

Category: Politics of Iran

Sina Motallebi, one of the famous Iranian webloggers has been arrested today in Tehran. He used to work for some of the reformist papers like Hayateno. His weblog was up until 2-3 hours ago, but suddenly the whole content were removed. There is no sign of change in Iran's internal oppression policies and these bastards do not show any understanding about the events that is going on around Iran. They are pushing people to the edge of frustration, exactly what US wants at this point. Hossein Derakhshan wrote a passionate note about Sina's detention. I still trust Khatami and many of people around him as a good solution towards reform in Iran, but I can completely understand comments like Hossein's. I don't know how long reformers are going to continue their silence about all these detentions and the whole dictatorial system which is harassing the intellectuals in Iran. I'm convinced that conservatives are not going to collect any vote in the near future. As much as they work hard to fake themselves, people will never vote for them, so they will continue their Stalinist approach towards controlling the internal affairs. And if Khatami finishes his presidency with these passive style policies, he will probably lose his historical positive position in Iranian politics.
Soon or late, if this condition continues people will move towards stupid alternatives such as Pahlavis, and it'll tough to blame them then.

Friday, April 18, 2003

Category: Personal

I got in. I'm pretty sure that she will get in too. We're getting close to the decision making. Still there are parts of the puzzle left to be filled. One big issue for me is the fame of the program that we are going into. Pitt is an intermediate program and being a graduate of ISP, will not give us as much fredom of job choice as if we have a CS PhD degree. The same issue might have been the case for places like LTI or SIMS, but both these places are associated with high ranking schools. I completely agree with her that the ISP program is a really good combination for a multidiciplinary program and we'll enjoy the environment there. It's just the future which makes me wondering a bit about going to Pitt. Actually in my side, I don't have a better choice, but she has the USC which is some how better than Pitt and also a CS program.

Wednesday, April 16, 2003

Category: Personal

I'm quite bombed today. Much worse than yesterday. I don't know why? Is it because of the admission condition? I tried to do number of things but I don't see any motivation. I really didn't think that much about the admission. The worst part of it is the continious wait for an asnwer. I guess unstability is some time worse than being in deep shit. At least in the later case you know where you're and you work hard to come to the surface. Whatever happens in next few months, I know one thing that I need to change my way of looking at life. Majority of people are usually enjoying of their static life while I am always thinking about the dynamic life without caring a bit about present time and that really sucks.
Congratulation to my dear friend for the admission to USC. It's great that at least one of us has a semi-plan for next fall. And my short paper got accepted in HLT/NAACL 2003. The first paper as first author!

My friend and I celeberated the 8th anniversary of our friendship tonite in Walnut Creek. 8 years! Unbelievable Fast!
Where are we going to be 5 month later? LA? Pittsburgh? Where?

Tuesday, April 15, 2003

I wrote these lines in response to a posting which was claiming that there is a high potential for independence in Azerbaijan part of Iran:

Except the wealthy Khuzestan, none of the Iranian provinces have the potential of being independent and offering a better economy to its people. It's simple math, 85-90% of the current Iranian economy is oil and the remaining 10-15% is the industry (mostly populated in Tehran, Isfahan, Shiraz) and agriculture. So independence should definitely come from outside help.

Looking into Iran's northern neighbors, we have Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Turkmenistan. The economy and the prosperity in all these states is still quite bad. The GDP per capia for Iran is $7000 while for all these three countries it's still bellow $4000. Kazakhstan has the best Central Asian economy which is something $5000 per capita. Their oil industry is still far from competing with OPEC members. Dictators are running all these countries and all of them are quite far from democracy even at the level of Iran, so similar corruption measures and social justice issues exists in these countries. Actually Islamic Republic has been quite smart in the Azerbaijan issue: They introduced the Ardabil province (which forced more government spending in the area) about the same time that these central Asian republics were freed of soviet ruling. while we talk about Azeris in Iran, we are talking about at least half of the Iranian economy and market. Turks are completely integrated into Fars population all around Iran. Is there a single groccery store in Iran who is not Turk or at least doesn't have a Turk assistant? And Islamic Republic has given a lot of attention (TV program, government position, etc) comparing to other ethnic groups like Kurds or Lors.
If we talk about our eastern neighbors, Afghanistan and Pakistan are still in deep shit, so forget the independence for Khorasan and Sistan.
if a new republic of Kurdistan comes out of this Iraq invasion, then that will be a real challenge both for Iran and Turkey and some how for Syria and that's the reason that both Iran and Turkey are trying hard to stop any serious Kurdish foundation there and fortunately or unfortunately it looks like that Kurds are not going to get it this time either.

Khuzestan is the only wealthy state of Iran which can be real independence threat. The history of Iran-Iraq war shows that people of khuzestan fought quite hard against an Arab's invasion. But I agree that if a real democratic and prosper Iraq comes out of this war (maybe in 5-10 years), then Iran will face some real problem with its Arab inhabitants of Khuzestan and actually that's good because at least they will be forced to spend something for the region which is feeding the whole country and is getting almost nothing from that money.

Monday, April 14, 2003

Now US is talking about Syria. It's interesting to see how these guys are building up the story. As the first move , they are calling it a terrorist state and are considering economic sanctions. Today I read an article in the Chronicle about the reform measures that Bashar Asad started in year 2000 in Syria. It came to my mind that how come nothing was mentioned in Western media over these past few years about these reforms while there was this flow of content around Iranian reform?

Parallel to Iran, it was slowed down in Summer 2001. So, it's obvious that Syria will move towards more dictatorship after this. That's what Bush adminstration has done to any middle eastern country who was on the path of reform in the past few years.

Friday, April 11, 2003

Baghdad is filled with looters. It's going to be crazy for the next few days till everyone rich and poor sinks in an equal shit.

I read an article by Mr. Morteza Mardiha which is published in the Aftab Magazine of Tehran. It was some how unbelievable for me to see how far this guy has gone in kisssing up Americans. The guy has written 8 pages filled with justification of many of the actions that US has done in Iran and around the world. He has justified some of the actions like Hiroshima or Vietnam in a way that I hadn't heard even in America. I'm all for dialogue and negotiation with America, even with these hawks who are running US right now. But why do we want to close the history and justify whatever shit these guys have done to us and others in all these years with all sorts of kidish reasons? It's a shame for Mr. Mardiha to call himself an intellectual. I would be OK if I had heard these stuff from Mr. Rafsanjani or some other politician, but why from someone that I have looked as a moderate and reformist thinkers for all the past few years. And surprisingly I saw that Masoud Behnoud has also approved Mr. Mardiha's claims. I am happy to see the superficialities of some of the so called reformers soon before these guys get the power back home.
Today, I went to a lecture in the Department of Middle Eastern Studies of Berkeley by French Prof. Bernard Hourcade. After a while, finally I went to a lecture which had something beyond what I read in Iranian papers. Hourcade is a Geography and History researcher. He's been praised in Iran for his work on ethnic demographic analysis of Iran. Of course major part of his talk went to Iranian politics. One thing that surprised me that I hadn't seen in American researchers was his depth of knowledge about Iran and the current events there. One of the interesting point that he mentioned was: In 1953, Americans did a coupe by spending a little money and with a minimum bloodshed and now after 50 years there is still hostilities between two countries because of that act. Now let's imagine if US attacks Iran like the way that they did with Iraq or Afghans. I guess it'll take centuries that the hate feelings gets removed then.

Thursday, April 10, 2003

Saddam's time is over and his regime was trashed today. I'll definitely write about that later... What I'm writing here is an answer to a note by Hossein Derakhshaan who thinks that Americans will not attack Iran because Blair and British folks will stop them:
I don't think the Hawks around Bush really give a damn about What Blair says. Although US acts as an ally with UK, Spain and some other European folks, but these hawks don't have any problem with going to war with Iran or Syria on their own. Even if you look at this recent war, it's clear that they didn't need the British on the ground and actually they were loosing the psychological war at the middle mainly because of British failure in the first 2 weeks of war in Basra. Basically Britain was a 2nd hand support for them. It was just Powel and some so called "Moderates" inside the Bush administration who were able to convince the hawks to go along the UN path for this war. And of course they failed. And of course, this unilateralism of US which is advocated by these Hawks keeps failing in the diplomatic circles like UN, EU, etc. The whole Iraq war showed a big failure for Powell and the moderate Republicans and the hawk are even more powerful now. Look what's going on there in Iraq: Pentagon is installing its own government without giving a damn about what the State Department says.

So the bottom line is that if the attack to Iran is not happening is not because EU outside US or Democrats inside US are against it; It's because Iran is a tough battle which really doesn't worth it. Think that how much Iran can affect the whole Persian Gulf area. They really don't want to mess with Iran because it can easily remove all of the profits that they can make from Iraq. Iraq is a very tasty meal for these guys which will keep them quite happy for couple of years and they don't want to loose its stability that soon. And one more point: Inspite of all the un-popularities on these Islamic Republic guys, I can easily see that a large part of population will fight against Americans if such an attack happens. I can easily see that anti-American emotion goes to its peak in Iran overnight.
Let's be happy with the fact that our country is quite large and diverse which makes it a very tough and challenging case for US.

Wednesday, April 09, 2003

Tonight, I spent some time reading different weblogs that I have heard about them recently. The endlessness of Internet is becoming more and more with weblog (what the heck was this sentence!). It's just amazing how much content is being produced there.
I'm still trying to organize myself in this digital age. I still feel that I lack some sort of organization in handling my time with this endless amount of data which exists there. I was thinking how much this daily routine of creating content will affect the expectation of public from mainstream media. Specially in Iran, with this huge trend of webloging, the taste of people will improve dramatically and in the long term Iranian journalism needs to really work hard to sell itself to this generation. Just think that a large part of the society are amateur journalist in their everyday life! How you want to make them happy with your payload?
There are numerous things there that I need to have a more established daily routine to take advantage of them. I guess starting this weblog is one important step to make me write more and more and also on a daily basis. As much as I diversify my reading resources and shift them from News to the Weblog space, I'll be able to avoid shallow level politics and spend more time on other topics.
Yesterday US, dropped four of 1 ton bombs on a civilian neighborhood? I have not yet seen a single complain in the media (From Guardian to FoxNews) about these atrocities. Israel on the same day has attacked Gaza with F-15 planes and killed 7-8 civilians. What sort of world order is this?

Saturday, April 05, 2003

Kaveh Golestan was killed by a land mine in Iraq couple of days ago. He was working as a photo-journalist for BBC in north Iraq. It was another sad tragedy of this war. He was from the leftist-nationalist revolutionary generation who stayed committed to art and culture more than any other ideology and worked for Iran and progress in Iran. He avoided all sorts of controversies and work on the thin line of survival that only smart ones can survive in countries like Iran. Jim Muir, the BBC correspondent in Iran and Iraq has written a beautiful and of course tragic article about the last day with Kaveh. Peace upon him.

Land mines! What is this concept? It's basically killing people just for the sake of killing, without knowing who they are. They might be from your own camp, or from the enemy camp. They should be killed. I heard last year that Afghanistan, a very large part of the country is covered by land mines and it's take years and a large budget to clean up. I feel ashamed when I hear that Iran has not signed the land mine treaty which was offered couple of years ago.

Friday, April 04, 2003

She won NSF award. I'm very very happy!
I'm back to writing. I had a chat with my Friend about the necessity of writing in our life. I see the ability of writing as a necessity for any intellectual and educated person. I guess that's part of the PhD education, that everyone is forced to write and publish extensively. And we decided that we need to work on writing more and more and make it a daily habit. To be honest, I should mention that I don't like my writings and after going back to them I usually hate them. That might sound odd, but even now after years when I review my Persian writings which date back to high school years, I don't like them.
Our Araazel group has become a fully political forum these days. It rarely happens that someone posts something unrelated to Middle East events. I guess that's part of the war which makes societies quite polarized. The other night we were talking with Azad, and I felt that even in Iran people have become polarized about this war, specially that there is a chance that US targets Iran in the near future.

Several times throughout these days I have thought about US attacking Iran which became a nightmare for me. I don't know how some of the Iraqis or Serbians could take it. Specially when I think about the ways that these recent wars of Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq had happened. I know for sure that there is no way for me to convince myself to live in America when such a thing is happening.... I should add that I really doubt that America targets Iran in the near future, but I'm sure other kinds of challenges might come for Iran.
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