Rosewater Written & directed by Jon Stewart Starring Gael Garcia Bernal, Kim Bodnia In cinemas now Written and directed by Jon Stewart of The Daily Show fame, Rosewater is a film set in Iran about the ever-present danger of an unaccountable government. This film is based on Iranian-Canadian journalist Maziar Bahari’s memoir And Then They Came For Me, detailing his jailing by the Iranian regime. While it focuses on the Iranian government, the film should also provoke reflection on the actions of Western governments, including Australia’s.
The self-styled Islamic State (IS) may be one of the few unifying forces in the Middle East. A range of mutually antagonistic regional and global powers and non-state groups have joined the fight against them. While Western politicians’ pronouncements that the IS has declared war on the world are clichéd, they are echoed by the group’s own statements.
Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, his prime minister and entire cabinet resigned en masse on January 23, just 24 hours after Houthi rebels occupied the presidential compound in Sana'a. The resignations give unprecedented power to the Houthis, a Shi'ite minority from the country’s isolated northern highlands. The political crisis also opens the door to an all-out war over control of the Yemeni capital, involving Sunni political factions and al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). The conflict could also draw in Saudi Arabia, the United States and Iran.
King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia has died at the age of 90. Abdullah was one of the world’s most powerful men and a key US ally in the region, controlling a fifth of the known global petroleum reserves. In a statement, President Barack Obama praised Abdullah for his “steadfast and passionate belief in the importance of the US-Saudi relationship as a force for stability and security in the Middle East and beyond.”
Of the six nations that reached a preliminary deal with Iran concerning its nuclear program, five ― the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China ― have nuclear arsenals. Atomic weapons were first developed by the US, the only country to have used them against large urban populations twice, over Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Those two war crimes killed hundreds of thousands of people. The hypocrisy is compounded by the fact that the strongest opponent of Iran in the Middle East is Israel, which has hundreds of fission and hydrogen bombs.
Hassan Rouhani was inaugurated as the president of Iran on August 4. He was elected in June, after mass mobilisations swept the country in support of his candidacy. Those who supported him saw his election as the best way to open up space for reforms within the country. However, he is not an outsider to the system. Rouhani was on Iran's nuclear negotiating team and was the country's top negotiator with the European Union on Iran's nuclear program from 2003 to 2009. He received official endorsement from Iran's supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, on August 3.
Foreign Minister Bob Carr said recently that the rising number of Iranian asylum seekers coming to Australia are “economic migrants”. The overall rate of asylum seekers has increased this year and Iranians have become the largest group of people arriving by boat, making up about one third of the total.
A former Tehran University student, Behzad Bargheri, spoke to 50 people at a public meeting on Iran on July 20. Bargheri told the meeting in Melbourne that during the 1980s the Islamic Republic regime took “harsh and bloody measures” to suppress the left. Many thousands of leftists were arrested, tortured and murdered. The universities were closed for several years. When they reopened they had been purged of leftist students.
Where on my body are your eyes zigzagging? I die for you!! The hungry bludger gambling With the lice in my empty pocket and still hung over in the Zipper’s ducts Where have muted body parts been penetrated by the drill With shafts as thick as Imperialism Whose begging is never ending, as the “Taleban” that you are? Laughter is wounded, And Samarkand, with a skirt full of pebbles And a hole, the forbidden commodity of the black market. Hole, hole! Oh, so ruthless Fascism has had no mercy To the body, to the rectum, to the shoulder blade, Even to the damp pants
Iran's presidential election on June 14 resulted in a large victory for self-described moderate, Hassan Rouhani, who received 50.7% of the vote in the first round, a high enough vote to ensure a second round vote was unnecessary. Rouhani's win led to celebrations in many cities across Iran, as his candidacy had picked up momentum during the campaign. There were big pro-Rouhani mobilisations ahead of the vote.