Hostages Sue for Compensation

bkyser on Apr 25th 2012

In August 2001, the American hostages held in Iran for 444 days sued Iran. The hostages won their case due to default, because Iran failed to represent itself in court. However, in 2002, a federal judge ruled that the hostages are unable to receive compensation from Iran because the agreement that they were released under does not allow for such lawsuits.

Judge Sullivan, the judge in charge of this case, criticized the American government for failing to provide compensation and aid to the hostages after their release.

The hostages and their survivors sued Iran using a law issued in 1996; that law was the Antiterrorism Act, issued by Congress. This act “removed immunity of foreign governments in cases of state-sponsored terrorism.” Under this act, the hostages should have been able to sue Iran; however, the Algiers Accord, which began under the Carter administration and followed into the Reagan administration, prevented this from happening. In this accord, America gave Iran immunity from any cases resulting from the hostage taking. Congress reacted to this accord by correcting a typographical error that would allow the citizens taken hostage by the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979 to sue Iran. Despite this correction, both President Bush and the State Department promoted the Algiers Accord and believed that it should be upheld. Many people, including a Marine who was a guard at the American Embassy in Tehran at the time, spoke out against the inability of the hostages to sue. Suing Iran would allow the hostages to receive compensation. This compensation would be taken from Iran’s assets that are currently frozen in the United States.

Here is the link to the 2002 article with the details from this case.

MATTHEW L. WALD, “Judge Rules Iran Hostages Can’t Receive Compensation” The New York Times, April 19, 2002, (accessed April 25, 2012).

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Pahlavi Legacies

bkyser on Apr 23rd 2012


In this article, Times Magaznine reporter Azadeh Moaveni, discusses the legacy that the Pahlavi Dynasty has left on her. In the aftermath of Alireza Pahlavi’s suicide, Moaveni talks about why she feels to connected to the Pahlavis, despite never having grown up under the Shah’s Iran. Moaveni claims that the Pahlavi family represents the First Family of Iran in her imagination. She also discusses some of the sentiments coming out after the news of Alireza’s death reached Iran. Many were upset that people were feeling sympathy for a Pahlavi, a response that Moaveni attributes to Iranian’s resentment towards the regime in terms of the economy, etc. Iranians today attribute the failure of the Pahlavis to the rise of the mullahs. Despite the fact that many Iranians today never grew up under the Shah, his legacy and the legacy of his family lives on.

Click here to see the rise and fall of the Shah in pictures.

Azadeh Moaveni, “Why the Pahlavi Dynasty Still Haunts Iranians,” Time Magazine, January 6, 2011,,8599,2041031,00.html (accessed April 25, 2012).

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Iranian Political Hierarchy

bkyser on Apr 23rd 2012

This BBC article outlines the power hierarchy in Iran and the responsibilities attributed to each role.

The most powerful leader in Iran is the Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei. He appoints the head of the judiciary and half of the Guardian Council, the commanders of the armed forces and confirms the president’s election. The power of the Supreme Leader is checked by the Assembly of Experts. The Assembly of Experts monitors the Supreme Leader’s actions and can remove him if they feel he is not performing his duties. There are 86 members in the Assembly of Experts and their elections are held every 8 years.

The president is listed as the second-highest ranking official in Iran and is elected every four years. The authority held by the president is secondary to that of the Supreme Leader and it is the Supreme Leader who controls the armed forces and makes decisions on foreign policy and security issues.

This article also looks at the Guardian Council, which is headed by Ayatollah Jannati, the armed forces, the parliament, and Ayatollah Shahrudi, who is the Iranian Head of Judiciary.

BBC News, “Guide: How Iran is ruled,” British Broadcasting Company, June 9, 2009, (accessed April 23, 2012).

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Interpreting Ahmadinejad

bkyser on Apr 23rd 2012

An image of a banner said to have been erected outside a center of Iran's Basij militia.


As the Iranian nuclear program gains more attention and as the possibiliy of an attack from Israel on Iran becomes more likely, quotes from both sides are being thrown around. The most famous of these quotes is one from Ahmadinejad, often referenced by the Israelis. That quote is “Israel must be wiped off the map.” However, different circles of scholars have disagreed on whether or not Ahmadinejad did in fact say this. One of the reasons for the disagreement is that Farsi is often hard to translate word for word into English. The quote that is often referenced by Israelis comes from a speech that Ahmadinejad issued at the 2005 “World Without Zionism” Conference. In this speech, Ahmadinejad uses the often poorly translated phrase “must be wiped off the map;” however, many have noted that the word map is not used at all in this speech. It is also not clear whether Ahmadinejad’s quote was a threat or a prediction. In this video, Israeli Minister of Intelligence and Atomic Energy, Dan Meridor, agrees that Ahamdinejad never said that Israel must be wiped off the map. Meridor mentions other anti-Zionist and anti-Israel quotes issued by Ahmadinejad and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in this piece as well.

This article also mentions how Ahmadinejad has failed to correct those who have misquoted him because he is so adamant in his dislike of Israel that  [he does not want] “to be seen as stepping back from even threatening remarks he did not make.” This quote has been used so frequently in the news that it is now taken as common knowledge and used by many different people to indicate that Iran wants to see the end of Israel.

Robert Mackey, “Israeli Minister Agrees Ahmadinejad Never Said Israel ‘Must Be Wiped Off the Map,” The New York Times, April 17, 2012, (accessed April 23, 2012).

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The Iranian Oskar Schiendler

bkyser on Apr 21st 2012

Abdol-Hossein Sardari, better known as the Iranian Oskar Schiendler, earned this title for the 2,000 Iranian Jews that he helped save during World War II. Sardari, who is Muslim, served as a diplomat in Paris during the rise of the Nazis. He was able to save many Iranian Jews by issuing them the new-style Iranian passports needed to prove that they were Iranian and to return to Iran. The Nazis did not consider Iranian Jews to be like European Jews, because they Nazis deemed them as part of the Aryan nation. Sardari told the Nazis that the Iranian Jews were different from the European Jews by creating his own sect, the “Mousaique,” who followed Moses, and who were not part of the Jewish race. Sardari’s work has been so influential that the Simon Wiesenthal Centre in Los Angeles has recognized him for his work. Read more here.

“Here you have a Muslim Iranian who goes out of his way, risks his life, certainly risks his career and property and everything else, to save fellow Iranians” -Fariborz Mokhtari

Brian Wheeler, “The ‘Iranian Schindler’ who saved Jews from the Nazis,” British Broadcasting Company, December 20, 2011, (accessed April 21, 2012).

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The Death of an Ayatollah

bkyser on Apr 16th 2012

Here is a New York Times article released after Ayatollah Khomeini’s death in June 1989. This article discusses key events in Khomeini’s life including the Iran-Iraq War and the fatwa he issued against Salman Rushdie. It also discusses his rise to power including the dismissal of Ayatollah Hussein Ali Montazeri and the fact that there was nobody left in Iran to challenge his authority after his return in 1979. His anti-American and anti-Western sentiments were a large part of his political career and are also included in this article. One anti-American event that is mentioned is the chanting of “Death to America!” and “Death to Israel!” that took place in the 1987 Hajj by Iranian pilgrims.
What is interesting about Khomeini’s life is that many details are missing. For example, the exact year of his birth is unknown. However, many believe that he was born in either 1900, 1901, or 1902. Many details from his childhood are also missing. One key event from his childhood remains well-known and that is his father’s murder. He is reported to have been murdered regarding a land dispute with his landowner; however, many of Khomeini’s supporters attributed his murder to that of Reza Khan, also known as Reza Shah.
This article also discusses Khomeini’s opposition to the Shah’s, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, White Revolution. The White Revolution called for the emancipation of women as well as seizure of lands by the government from the clergy.  He criticized the Shah for this and students at Tehran University published 200,000 copies of his statements condemning the Shah for the White Revolution.  That same year, while preaching to students in Qom, Khomeini was arrested. He was kept under house arrest for a short period of time and then eventually, after criticizing a law allowing American servicemen to receive immunity from Iranian laws, he was sent into exile. His first stop on his journey in exile was Turkey, and then later he went to Najaf, Iraq, where he spent a majority of his time in exile. He later went to Paris before returning to Iran in February 1979 after the Shah left for exile. After his return he called for compulsory veiling of women as well as for as well as for the removal of non-Islamic workers in many industries. Iran also began financing terrorist groups in the Persian Gulf in countries such as Kuwait, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia.
It was believed by many that Ayatollah Khomeini’s son would assume his role as Supreme Leader; however, on the day after his death, President Ali Khamenei was named the new Supreme Leader.

RAYMOND H. ANDERSON, “Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, 89, Relentless Founder of Iran’s Islamic Republic,” The New York Times, June 5, 1989, (accessed April 16, 2012).

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The Iranian-American Relationship from 1923 until Today

bkyser on Apr 15th 2012

This New York Times article traces the evolution of the relationship between Iran and the United States from 1923 until today. This article emphasizes the nuclear program in Iran and the United States’ involvement with this program. Here is a summary of the article, beginning in 1923.

In 1923, a man named Arthur Millspaugh went to Iran from the United States. He was an economic advisor who was sent to help Iran, a country that was seen as “hampered by administrative inefficiency.” He left Iran in 1928. Flash forward 30 years to 1953 and the United States becomes involved with the coup d’etat of Mohammad Mossadegh. This leads to the first real intervention of the United States in Iranian affairs and is often cited as the root to many of the areas of contention between the two nations today. This coup got ride of Prime Minister Mossadegh and placed the Shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, into power. In 1957, Iran and the United States join in on a deal, titled, Iran-United States Agreement for Cooperation Concerning Civil Uses of Atomic Energy as part of President Eisenhower’s Atoms for Peace program. Under this plan the United States gave Iran uranium. Later, in 1968, Iran signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. Throughout the Shah’s rule, he receives praise from different American presidents, from Kennedy to Carter, who view him in a positive light for upholding Iran in an unstable neighborhood.

After the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Iran undergoes many changes, and naturally, so to does its nuclear program and its relationship with the United States. In February 1979, Ayatollah Khomeini returns from exile and immediately calls for an end to all foreign invasion in Iran. This leads to the removal of 1,350 Americans from Iran. In November of that same year, militants also known as “students” occupy the American Embassy in Tehran and hold the hostages captive for 444 days. The students held these Americans captive in demanding for the Shah to return from the United States to Iran to face trial. On July 27, 1980, the Shah passes away in Egypt.

September 21, 1980 is the beginning of the Iran-Iraq War, which begins with Iraq’s invading of Iran. A major area of Iran that experiences a large amount of conflict is the Shatt al-Arab waterway. This war occupies much of the mindset of Iran for the next eight years. The war ends on July 18, 1988 after both Iran and Iraq agree to a cease-fire (United Nations Security Council Resolution 598). An estimated 1 million people are dead as a result of the war.

In 1987, Abdul Qadeer Khan, the father of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program, is reported to have shared his research with Iran and other countries such as North Korea and Libya. Iran and Russia go on to sign a nuclear contract in 1995 calling for the development of a nuclear power plant in Bushehr. As a result of Iran’s nuclear aspirations, President Clinton issues sanctions against all companies with investments in Iran in 1996 as part of his initiative to stop the spread of terrorism. In August 2002, the Muhajeddin (M.E.K.) release pictures of a uranium enrichment plant and a heavy water plant. After accusations from the United States, Iran agrees to an inspection from the Atomic Energy Authority.

In 2004, Iran agreed to halt its nuclear program. However, in 2006, the United Nations Security Council issued sanctions to curb the nuclear program. And in 2009, President Obama calls for international inspections in Iran. In 2010, the United States agreed to more sanctions issued against Iran’s nuclear program. The sanctions are intended to hinder military purchases and financial transactions carried out by the Revolutionary Guards Corp. The bombing on January 11, 2012, that killed Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, a supervisor at the Natanz nuclear plant, leads to more friction between the United States and Iran as the United States and Israel are blamed for this attack.

JEFFERY DelVISCIO, DIANTHA PARKER, DAVID FURST, JEFF ROTH, JON HUANG and ARTIN AFKHAMI, “Iran, the United States and a Nuclear Seesaw,” The New York Times, April 13, 2012, (accessed April 15, 2012).

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Iran Military News

tobin on Apr 13th 2012

Here are two articles posted by the BBC about the Iranian Military. The first article entitled Iran

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Cardboard Khomeini

bkyser on Apr 13th 2012


On February 1, 2012, on the 33rd anniversary of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s return to Iran from exile, the Islamic Republic held a celebration in commemoration of this event. This event caused a frenzy throughout Iran, especially in the Internet world, because of the cardboard cutout of the Ayatollah used in the reenactment ceremony. One blogger created a blog, “Cardboard Khomeini,” as a way to poke fun at the usage of a cardboard cutout. This blog places Khomeini’s cutout in different famous settings, from the Titanic to Abbey Road. To read more, here is the New York Times article.

J. David Goodman, “Cardboard Cutouts of Khomeini Are Mocked Online,” The New York Times, February 2, 2012, (accessed April 13, 2012).

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A Hijacked Revolution

bkyser on Apr 2nd 2012

mf photo mar6 p.jpg


If there was ever any doubt that the Iranian Revolution was intended to bring about a democratic government, the picture above will destroy that doubt. In the article that accompanies this picture, the democratic motivations of the 1979 revolution are addressed. The banner above, which reads, “Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country,” is one indication of this. After the success of the revolution and the exile of the Shah, in March 1979, the Iranian people participated in an election in which 99% of the population voted for an Islamic Republic; however, that December, voters voted for a new constitution. After the implementation of Ayatollah Khomeini’s “Islamic Republic,” the notion that the revolution would lead to a democracy no longer existed. Westerners contributed this to the clerics “hijacking the revolution” and Ayatollah Khomeini’s lust for power. This article also touches on how the United States was still an enemy in the eyes of Iranians during the revolution as a result of the 1953 coup d’etat of Mohammad Mossadeq. This article, although short, presents the idea that during the 1979 Iranian Revolution Iranians demanded democracy and that after the events of the 2009 presidential election it is evident to see that many Iranians still hold these democratic dreams.

Associated Press, “Photo: Iran’s 1979 Revolution Was Democratic,” The Atlantic, March 6, 2012, (accessed April 2, 2012).

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