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Gary Sick on Iran 27, October 2009

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Iran.
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Iran expert Gary Sick has written an excellent short article about the fate of Kian Tajbaksh the Iranian-American academic who has recently been sentenced to 12/5 years in prison for assorted ridiculous crimes. Sick’s response is sage, commanding and irrefutable. The whole thing is certainly worth a read but here’s a couple of the most interesting points.




The prosecutors charge that Kian was in touch with me [Sick]. Right. We were both academics in New York, and we saw each other from time to time. However, I have gone back over the past 20 years with that in mind, and I am struck by something quite different. Over that period of time, I have known every Iranian ambassador to the United Nations and many members of the staff of the Iranian U.N. mission. I have spent much more time with them than with Kian.

More important, I have been in meetings with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on four different occasions over the past three years. I have spent at least nine hours with him, much more than I ever spent with Kian. In my last meeting with Mr. Ahmadinejad, I told him that if he were simply a lowly academic, instead of the president of Iran, he would be subject to arrest upon his return to Iran for meeting with the roomful of U.S. academics and think tank representatives that he had assembled at his hotel. He scoffed at the idea. Now one of my colleagues, a lowly Iranian-American professor who was about to take up a position at my university, is being condemned to 15 years in prison because, among other things, he had contact with me.


This is not about Kian, and it is certainly not about me. It is about the abject failure of a ruling clique that has lost the confidence and support of its own people and must contrive scapegoats to excuse its own deficiencies.

Hezbollah on the famous Hummus victory of 2009 27, October 2009

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Lebanon.
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Say what you will about Hezbollah but when it comes to eeking victory out of the mildest and most inconsequential success possible, they are second to none. They, quite seriously, (for I don’t know quite how well their sense of irony is developed (not too well, I’d wager)) wrote an op-ed in their mouthpiece eulogising Lebanon’s recent ‘success’ at wresting the mantle of largest ever pot of hummus away from the ‘Jewish entity’.

Lebanon was set on Saturday to set a new world record and mark a new victory on Israel by preparing a two-ton plate of Humus (Chick-pea), thus beating an Israeli record two years ago when the Zionist entity prepared an 800kg plate of this pure Lebanese appetizer.

Under the watchful eyes of the adjudicator, they poured 1,350 kilograms (2,976 pounds) of mashed chickpeas and 400 liters (13,525 ounces) of lemon juice into the mega-sized pottery dish, cheered on by hundreds of onlookers.

The chefs gathered around their dish upon receiving the Guinness certificate and sang an a capella version of the national anthem before joining hands to dance the traditional dabke in celebration.

Organizers have hailed the event as “a patriotic event of national scale. “El Hommos Lebnaneh (Hummus is Lebanese) is an attempt to break the current Guinness world records of hummus and tabbouleh, reaffirming the Lebanese proprietorship of these two dishes,” said a statement issued by the industrialist association and food syndicate, which planned the event.

Nassrawi added that Lebanon was working on registering Humus at the European Union by presenting a full dossier with information that document when the first ever Humus plate was made in Lebanon, when it was first canned and how it was named Humus Bithini (thick sauce made of sesame oil). He added that the goal was to regain the real identity of Humus and stop Israel from exploiting it for its benefit.

Iranian-UAE relations 27, October 2009

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Iran, The Emirates.
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The Iran in the Gulf blog highlights an interesting example showing just how interlinked the Iranian and the UAE are. This article nicely encapsulate just how much a decision made in one country can potentially significantly affect, for example, the economy in another.


Trade in basmati has suffered a setback after Iran stopped importing the rice.

Dhows carrying several tonnes of Indian and Pakistani basmati are stranded in Dubai and Sharjah after buyers in Iran backed out of agreements to take delivery.

Some traders in the UAE are now offering huge quantities of the rice at half the price. Traders said the departure of Iranian buyers from the market has impacted demand and brought down the price.

“Boats loaded with Indian and Pakistani basmati have been waiting to leave for Iran for some time now,” said the marketing manager of a food trading company in Dubai.

He said: “Boats filled with basmati have been lying idle in Dubai and at Sharjah Cornice. Iran used to be a good market for UAE re-exporters and the fall in demand there will definitely hurt the UAE market.”

He said prices of many premium basmati rice varieties have fallen by 30 per cent to 40 per cent.