Iran: Discovery of 'Islamic Ecstasy' Botanical Drug Good for Arteries, 'Joy'Look out aspirin, there's a new kid in town.
Monday, July 28, 2008
Shahin Zavareqi, a basiji (member of the Basij Resistance Force, the popular militia of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps) inventor and innovator at the Maragheh Applied Science University, has discovered a botanical drug called Islamic Ecstasy.
This drug has been called Islamic Ecstasy because it brings joy. It has been tested for about three years on 80 volunteer students. Islamic Ecstasy is used to prevent blockage of the arteries.
It is made from the juices of six plants including the amga (as transliterated), the musk willow and the mint plant, and is consumed by drinking. This drug was made botanically for the first time in the world. It cannot be made chemically because it will have side effects for the liver. However, this botanical drug has no side effects.
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Also see the Fars News report (in Persian).
Head of student volunteer force explains plan for reforming, improving the force
Wednesday, July 23, 2008 T00:52:23Z
Head of student volunteer force explains plan for reforming, improving the force
desk: The head of the Student Basij (volunteer) Organization has been explaining about a plan for transforming and improving student Basij at universities throughout the country. Iran
Reza Seraj, the head of nationwide Student Basij Organization, speaking in an interview given to Fars new agency about a plan for transforming and improving the student Basij movement, said: Transformation and improvement are set on the agenda of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps and its five forces according to the guidelines of the Supreme Leader and the Basij resistance force also has endeavoured most earnestly for improvement and transformation to the same extent.
Stating that as a progressive and pioneering stratum the Student Basij has undertaken a most serious move for making the transformation and improvement plan operational, he went on to make clear: The moves were organized from four months ago with the formation of a reform and improvement working group in the Student Basij. During the four months while the vulnerabilities of the Student Basij were identified, efforts were made to bring about a suitable situation and draw up an operational strategy for achieving the desired status.
The head of the Student Basij Organization referred to the point that in the reform and improvement plan a macro policy and 12 further policies have been envisaged for the student Basij. A collection of those policies, he said, specify the way to achieve the desired status and pointed out: The policies collectively lead to transformation in the domains of strategy, outlook, structure and approach of the student Basij.
Continuing his explanations about the nationwide student Basij reform and improvement plan, Seraj said: Through a meticulous and ordered plan efforts were made to hold seminars with those involved in the student Basij movement throughout the country, especially Basij students. In addition to that through visits to 15 provinces of the country the preliminary stages of the plan were explained to student Basij officials and the students' critical comments and points of view were gathered. On the whole efforts were made for the plan to be completed gradually.
Explaining that the reform and improvement plan for the student Basij has been approved by the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps and the students' views and critical comments have been implemented in the plan, he pointed out: Following all the summations, the great plan will be presented in the workshop of reform and improvement for the student Basij at universities throughout the country.
The head of the Student Basij Organization noted that the plan has five steps and the first of those is organizing. He went on to point out: The first step will be implemented before the restart of universities in the new term. Explaining that the student Basij movement earnestly concentrates on three issues in this reform and improvement plan, he said: Enhancement of spirituality, knowledge, insight and expertise among all the Basij students, making operational issues such as assisting the efficiency of the government, provision of service and ideological work for resolving the challenges and problems of the country. Those are matters that the Supreme Leader expects of the student Basij. Furthermore, student Basij is audience-centred, a crucial issue that is the subject of serious endeavours. In the meantime, cultural programmes have been envisaged in the plan for every university student.
He stressed the point that in this plan student Basis will carry out all-round efforts to help with the Islamization of universities, generating greater enthusiasm among young students and the training of the required force for the realization of the 20 Year Projection Plan. He also pointed out: In its new policy, which is a transforming policy, the student Basij will carry out special efforts to deepen the ruling system and the revolution. In that course of action scientific jihad is one of the most important policies of student Basij.
Friday, July 25, 2008
Rafsanjani, who heads both the powerful Expediency Council and Assembly of Experts, has been an outspoken critic of the US occupation in Iraq and a SOF agreement between the two countries. His views are representative of Iran's current policy vis-a-vis Iraq and are a good example of how Iranian politicians (including pragmatists like Rafsanjani) have been framing the issue.
TEHRAN, July 23 (ISNA)
Iran's Expediency Council chairman Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani told his audiences of Iraqi cultural and artistic features in Tehran that "a secure, free and unified Iraq is what the Islamic Republic of Iran awaits for." "Creating a situation under which Iraqi people are able to be in charge of their destiny and the end of this country's occupation by aliens could bring a bright prospect for Iraqis," he added.
He asserted that alleging Iran of interfering in Iraq's internal affairs is a big and obvious lie by the occupiers. "Today it is clear that the occupiers' excuses of creating security, campaign against terrorism and humanitarian objectives in Iraq are baseless and through projection, they are seeking for more excuses to continue their presence in the country." The U.S. insists on signing the long-term security agreement with Baghdad because it paves the way for continuing the occupation, Rafsanjani said while stating that Iraqi nation can prevent such measures through unity, solidarity and avoiding disparities.
Meanwhile, he said Iran has extended experience and ability for aiding Iraqis to rebuild their country and that "preparing the situation for Iran's presence in Iraq favors both countries' interests."
[Image: Iranian politician, Ayatollah Ali-Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani]
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
The information provided in the article is vague and not much is said about the purview of the new headquarters. However, it is mentioned that it is part of the greater restructuring effort and a way to improve coordination between the Basij and IRGC. It is also suggested that this headquarters may focus on fostering a more professional military culture within the Basij.
Since its establishment in 1979, the Basij force has had a mixed operational identity. It is one part popular militia, one part armed force, and one part urban political enforcer. In the Iran-Iraq war Basij members (mostly teenagers and older men) bore the brunt of fighting on the front and suffered more casualties than Iran's other armed forces. After the war, the Basij organization has tried to split its role into two: that of a national armed force (in the same vein as the IRGC and Army) and that of a localized hardline militia.
It is in the this latter domain that the Basij has been most active in post-war Iran, especially during the two terms of Khatami's presidency, where it assisted local Ansar-e Hezbollah militias as enforcers for hardline (anti-reformist) policies. However, under the current hardline regime--where Basijis have not been needed counter reformism locally--the Basij force has not been utilized on a national scale to the same degree as Iran's other armed forces.
Perhaps for this reason the current restructuring effort has emphasized a stronger national (and provincial) role for the Basij force. The IRGC has already brought the Basij directly under its command and is currently trying to strengthen its ties with the organization. It also seems Mohammad Ali Jafari, IRGC Chief Commander, wants to build the Basij into a more proper military division of the IRGC and give it a greater (and more professionalized) role in Iran's overall defense strategy.
This will take not only a streamlining of the Basij's command structure and overall organization, but it will also require a shift in the Basij's internal culture. As it stands, the Basij is as much (if not more so) a religious organization as it is a martial one. While the Basij's devoutness is no doubt one of its core strengths, its overemphasis of religious activism (and deemphasis of proper military conduct) has been a weakness. These recent changes, including the establishment of this new headquarters, seem to be geared towards increasing professionalization within the Basij without diluting its animating religiosity.
[Image: Femal Basijis on parade]
Monday, July 21, 2008
Some of the popular titles were predictable (such as the Harry Potter series, or Khaled Husseini's stuff), but others, such as the works of self-help guru Anthony Robbins were surprising. Tehran and Qom book-mongers mentioned a particular interest among their customers for Anthony Robbins and similar self-help literature. For some reason I get a big kick out of imagining seminarians in Qom mixing Tony Robbins' tips for success with their legal and religious studies. Perhaps Western leaders should delve more into neuro-linguistic programing before the next round of nuclear talks.
On that matter, I think it's pretty clear that the Ahmadinejad administration is not going to budge an iota while Bush is still in the White House. Right now, Ahmadinejad and the rest of the hardliners (including the Supreme Leader) are gearing up for the upcoming election season in Iran, and they run the risk of alienating their radical base if they are seen as "compromising" with the West.
[Image: Tony Robbins, big in Iran and loving every minute of it.]
Friday, July 18, 2008
The retired commander, Mohammad Nabi-Rudaki, offers some interesting background information on the recent changes and the roots of the new provincial commands. He also mentions that these changes were resisted by former chief IRGC commander, Yahya Rahim Safavi, and hints they were behind his dismissal. (Safavi, of course, was replaced by Commander Jafari, who has spearheaded these changes.)
Former commander speaks of
paramilitary reforms Iran
E'temad-e Melli (Internet Version-WWW)
Wednesday, July 9, 2008 T13:37:04Z
Journal Code: 9341 Language: ENGLISH Record Type: FULLTEXT
Document Type: OSC Translated Text
Word Count: 956
Text of commentary by Mohammad Nabi-Rudaki headlined: An increase in Basij missions published by Iranian newspaper E'temad-e Melli on 7 July
The history and the philosophy behind the recent plan for the establishment of 31 provincial Guards and the merger of Basij command ranks with the Guards Corps' ground forces goes back to the experiences of the eight year holy defense. A change in the overall command of the Guards Corps is one of the main causes of reverting back to the former structure. When Gen Ja'fari was commander of the ground forces, he believed that this merger should take place but the opinion of the Chief Commander of the Guards Corps was other than this. Now that he has become Chief Commander of the Guards Corps, this proposal was put forward and the plan to establish 31 provincial Guards was approved by the Honourable Leader of all the Forces (Khamene'i) and the implementation operations were started.
During the holy defence period, Basij was present within the Guards' divisions and brigades and Guards' divisions became ready for defence and the carrying out of operations as a result of the Basijis' presence. After holy defence, a command was set up for the Basij unit and the ground forces of the country's Guards were established in the provinces. In this structure, the Basij command for every province was supervised by the commander of the division and the commander of the province's ground force; in such a way that I myself, was the commander of Fars Guards Corps between the years 1368 to the middle of 1371 (1989 to 1992) and commander of the Fajr 19 division.
At that time, Basij was under the control of the Guards commander and the province's other division was also managed under the command of the Guards commander. After the year 1373 (1994), once again there were changes in the Guards and the establishment of the Basij Resistance Force caused the Guards to become separated and for the Basij Resistance Force and the ground force to continue with their missions in the provinces alongside one another.
During the past weeks, according to the viewpoint of the Guards' Chief Commander, the outlooks of the years 1368 and 1373 (1989 and 1994) concerning a merger of the Basij Resistance Force and the Guards have once again taken form. The new structure will have a great impact on the fighting ability of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and will cause the enemies to lessen their greed towards the country.
Under the new structure, Basij forces are trained in Basij and are then placed under the control of the ground forces so that they can be organized. Taking into account the fact that at present, there are more than 3000 Basij resistance bases in the country and if these bases have on average of 300 active Basij members each, there are almost 12 m Basij forces in the country and a country that has 12 m Basij forces will possess extraordinary ability. On the other hand, these forces will obtain the necessary training and fighting ability in the bases. Under the new structure, the connection between the Resistance bases and the units of the Guards' ground forces will increase in every city and province and these forces will be supported by the Guards' ground forces. On the other hand, under the new structure, the Basij bases will use the facilities of the ground forces' battalions and will enjoy the direct trainings and organizations of the ground forces.
Consequently, under this structure, the facilities of the Basij bases increase in practice and this can be one of the philosophies of merging the resistance force and the ground force. On the other hand, under this structure, by implementing command on the level of battalions and maybe even companies, the ground forces can manage the Basij bases and organize the Basijis into companies. The Basij resistance force will give the necessary training to its own forces on two levels as before.
The new structure of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps will have no effect on Basij missions and will not result in a reduction of Basij missions. One of the missions of Basij Forces which is Construction Basij, in addition to its proper measures also has suitable programmes for the leisure time of Basij forces and young people in summer and it will continue with its activities under the new structure. On the other hand, the student Basij organization will also carry on with its activities alongside this organization and other Basij organizations that exist in universities and other groups will continue with their work under the supervision of the commander of the Guards ground force so that there is no gap between Basij companies and the Guards ground force. In this way, a merger will stimulate the forces more and in the future, not only Basij activity will not be reduced, its missions in outside sectors will in fact grow and expand; for example in the culture centres of mosques and other cultural sectors, Basij will continue with its active presence.
(The author was) commander during the holy defence period, former commander of Fars Guards Corps and deputy head of seventh Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Committee.
Thursday, July 17, 2008
The British court's decision came at an awkward time for Iran's relationship with the West. Iranian leaders considered Britain's move a slap in the face--hardening their position in the already go-nowhere nuclear talks--but the EU's decision may partially make up for it.
Iranian leaders and civilians alike consider the Mojahedin traitors for the group's participation with Saddam Hussein during the bloody eight-year Iran-Iraq war. The MKO are also responsible for numerous terrorist attacks against Iranian politicians, including a bombing that maimed current Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
Iran has benefited from the Iraqi government's recent proclamations against the Mojahedin and the organization's presence in Iraq. However, despite its influence in that country, Iran has either been unable or unwilling to target the MKO directly. Recent reports of the arrest of the MKO's leader Masud Rajavi in Jordan a few days ago also appear to be unfounded.
Iran's current leadership have made the MKO (and prosecution of its leaders) a top national priority. For now, it seems that the US, EU, and Britain, will use the issue as both a carrot and a stick.
[Image: Saddam Hussein with MKO leader Masud Rajavi]
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Analysts have long suggested that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will not be a unity candidate for the hardline “principleist” camp. The principleists (osulgariyan) are so-called because they claim to be devoted to the “principles” of the Islamic Revolution. Their faction (which is composed of several political parties and cliques) arose in contradistinction to the reformists, who the former accuse of deviating from the founding ideals of the Islamic Republic.
Despite taking power from the marginalized reformists in the last presidential election, the principleists have found it difficult to unify behind Ahmadinejad. An early split within the hardliners emerged when former presidential candidate-turned-Tehran mayor Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf and Expediency Council secretary Mohsen Rezai formed an alliance. When Ali Larijani (the former head nuclear negotiator) resigned from his position in Ahmadinejad’s cabinet, many speculated that he too had joined forces with Qalibaf and Rezai to oppose the president in the 2009 elections.
With Larijani’s election to Majlis (parliament) speaker, many suggest he’s moved into the front-runner’s position as the hardline candidate of choice to oppose Ahmadenejad. However, as the article suggests, Qalibaf is also expected to run and he has spent the last few years remaking himself into a hardworking and successful mayor of
Qalibaf has been quietly working outside of the political spotlight developing a strong track-record of successful development projects in Tehran and building political bridges with Iranian and foreign leaders. Earlier this year he travelled to
Qalibaf has positioned himself as a moderate who favors diplomacy and pragmatism over rhetoric and saber-rattling. He has a distinguished background in both the Basij and Revolutionary Guards (he retired as a Maj-Gen.), earned a Ph.D. in political science, and was Chief of Police for
In the last election, he lost the key Basiji and war veteran vote to his rival Ahmadinejad, and he’ll have a difficult time courting that constituency this time if he chooses to market himself as a more moderate candidate. He’ll also have to expand his support beyond
Despite his current position as a moderate-conservative, Qalibaf is not a “moderate” in the true sense. The center of
[Image: Tehran Mayor, Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf]
Monday, July 14, 2008
Sunday, July 13, 2008
The majority of the new units mentioned are located in the western provinces, others are located in the crucial southeast (Kerman and Sistan-Baluchistan) and northern provinces.
Also see the Fars report (in Persian).
1. Fajr Corps of
2. Salman Corps of
6. Ruhollah Corps of
7. Qamar Bani Hashem Corps of
8. Mohammad Rasulollah Corps of Greater
9. His Holiness Vali-ye Asr Corps of
10. Saheb al-Zaman Corps of
11. Sarallah Corps of
12. Saheb al-Amr Corps of
13. Seyyed al-Shohada Corps of
14. Ashura Corps of
16. His Holiness Abolfazl Corps of
*The Qods Corps (sepah-e Qods) of Gilan province should not be confused with the IRGC's special forces "Qods" unit . The special forces "Qods" is referred to alternatively in Persian as both the "Qods Force" (niru-ye qods) and the "Qods Corps" (sepah-e qods), hence the possible confusion. Apparently there are only so many acceptable names out there to choose from.
Saturday, July 12, 2008
Jondallah has threatened to execute all of the guards if certain Baluchi militants (i.e. Abdul-Hamid Rigi, the brother of the organization's leader Abdul-Malek) are not released by Iranian authorities.
Jondallah has given Iran a two-week deadline for the release of the Baluchi militants, threatening to kill the remaining hostages should Iran not comply.
So far, Iran has not responded to Jondallah (at least according to the latter) regarding the hostages, six of whom have now been killed.
Friday, July 11, 2008
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
The People's Resistance Movement of Iran (aka Jondallah) issued a new statement this evening, which concerns the Iranian border guards the group took hostage three weeks ago.
Here's the gist of the message, translated from the Persian:
This message is more emphatic and virulent than their 27 June statement, which was blunt:
"If by 11 July 2008 the political prisoners of
Baluchistanare not released and the bombing of (our) regions has not ceased, then two more guards—by the names of Javad Hasanzadeh and Ali Ismailzadeh—will be executed.
It must be mentioned that the guards who were arrested are all war criminals with blood on their hands. They have all confessed to their crimes and transgressions and the Movement (Jondallah) will not hesitate to execute such criminals."
In the name of God
The People’s Resistance Movement of Iran [Jondallah] hereby announces that on this evening of Friday 27 June 2008 two guards by the names of Isa Pudineh and Reza Rahdari were executed after a trial through the Movement’s judicial branch.
In this communiqué the PRMI sends notice to the general public that the “clerical regime” [lit. regime of the “rule of the jurisprudent”] pays no heed to the fate of its butchers and the criminals, and as of today it has not answered the warriors demands. Men’s blood is on the hands of these criminals, [and we] want to exchange these criminal guards for innocent Baluch youth.
In this communiqué to the “clerical regime,” the Movement gives two weeks for its demands to be met. And if they are not met, the 12 remaining guards will be executed.
People’s Resistance Movement of
In their latest statement, Jondallah reiterates the justness of its cause (freedom for the Baluchi Sunnis), talks about the oppression of the Sunnis under the Shia government, and points to specific examples of how Baluchis are depicted as unclean infidels.
This type of argument, at least the way it is framed, is as old as the Islamic Revolution. (But autonomist movements in Iran have antecedents that go back much further.) Segments of Sunni Kurds and Baluch (as well as Arabs and Turkmen) have long accused the Iranian government--which is a Shia theocracy--of oppression and prejudicial treatment.
What is new, however, is that Jondallah (as an organization) has taken on a Salafi-Islamist veneer. Salafism and related Islamist movements (such as the Taliban, which no doubt have inspired Jondallah) have historically held little attraction for Iran's ethnic Sunni minorities, which largely practice more traditional (folk) forms of Islam.
If such an ideology begins to spread or becomes more widely embraced within the supportive Baluch community, Iran could have a more acute problem on its hands.
Monday, July 7, 2008
As part of this effort, Fars reports in Persian that the Basij (Iran's national popular militia) is in the process of establishing 600 new "Imam Husayn" battalions. These battalions, of which "more than 200" have already been created, will work under the new IRGC provincial commands.
Although these battalions will be established throughout the country, the IRGC appears to be emphasizing the Basij's presence along Iran's western border. This is directly related to both the fears of a possible US invasion originating in Iraq and to the increasing skirmishes between Iranian forces and Kurdish groups based in Iraq.
It can be expected that the IRGC will also concentrate its efforts along Iran's northwestern and southeastern borders, where Iranian forces have recently witnessed an upsurge in violence in their ongoing battles with drug smugglers, ethnic militias, and other criminal elements.
Perhaps anticipating war front casualties, the IRGC (according to an OSC translated article from Farhang-e Ashti on 2 July 2008) has also established a modernized field hospital called the "Mobile Tactical Aid and Surgery Unit."
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
Iranian Commander on IRGC Provincial Branches Across Country
Vision of the Islamic Republic of Iran Khuzestan Provincial TV
Tuesday, July 1, 2008 T11:16:31Z
Journal Code: 9339 Language: ENGLISH Record Type: FULLTEXT
Document Type: OSC Translated Text
Word Count: 325
The deputy commander-in-chief of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) has talked about changes in the structure of the IRGC.
Today (30 June) in Esfahan, Commander Seyyed Mohammad Hejazi said that as per the proposal by the commander-in-chief of IRGC and the approval of the supreme commander-in-chief of the armed forces (Ayatollah Ali Khamene'i) there will be 31 branches of the IRGC in the provinces of the country so that operations in each province will be carried out independently without reliance on the main centre (of IRGC).
(Hejazi) IRGC has had various units in the provinces such as ground forces, Basij Resistance Force, educational, support and experts units. Since all these units were dependent on the central office and the IRGC forces, it was not possible to exploit their capabilities in supporting each other.
Sometimes there were certain problems. To have unity and a single command, and to benefit from all the capabilities in operations, a comprehensive command has been allocated in each province to supervise them. For instance, for the IRGC's ground forces they required trained Basijis to develop their units.
Due to administrative and bureaucracy issues, sometimes we used to face problems. With the new structure administrative and official correspondence will be minimized and it will be possible to benefit from their capabilities. On the other hand, considering the possible threats against our country, each region and province's commands should be able to operated independently and defend their related areas. These commands will hopefully be able to fulfil [sic] their duties across each province with full authority and having support units and experts. These measures will hopefully create unity and a unity in command, and strengthening the capabilities across the provinces.
Iranian provincial television also reported that the new IRGC command for the Sistan-Baluchistan region is called the Salman Guards Corps. This unit will be based in the provincial capital Zahedan and will be commanded by Gen. Mohammadzadeh.
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
Fars news in Persian reports on recent changes in the IRGC, all of which are part of the organization's current restructuring effort.
Ali Fazli has been appointed the commander of the new Sayyed al-Shohada unit for Tehran province. This is a plum appointment for Fazli, who is the former deputy commander of the IRGC. Morteza Shanehsazzadeh, the former commander of Tehran's Basij unit, will serve as Fazli's deputy.
IRGC Commander Jafari also appointed Abdollah Araqi as the new commander of the IRGC's greater Tehran unit, known as the Mohammad Rasulollah Corps. Araqi replaces Brig-Gen Javad Khazrai-Rad.
Jafari, who has been streamlining the organization's command structure, mentions that Fazli's appointment represents a strengthening of the IRGC's provincial role. The Revolutionary Guards are establishing 31 new provincial units that will oversee all Basij and IRGC forces in their specific region.
Another new unit is the Sarollah Corps--("Vengeance of God")--which will oversee IRGC and Basij forces in Kerman province. This unit, which will be led by Commander Ruhollah Nuri and deputy commander Gholam-Ali Abu-Hamzeh, is another part of Jafari's effort to strengthen the IRGC's provincial presence and decentralize its command structure.
Guards spokesman Shushtari suggests that these new provincial units are designed to help the IRGC and Basij better prepare for defending against "foreign threats" by bringing these organizations into closer "harmony" with one another. Commander Jafari earlier brought the Basij directly under his command and the new provincial commands is yet another step in bringing these forces together.
The Basij militia has established a new organization which aims to develop the minds and talents of its promising members. Named the Basij Scientific Organization, it will oversee the training of Basij university students and will be housed at the IRGC-aligned Imam Hosayn University.
The Basij have also established another organization which will provide security for tourism, camping, and visitors to the battlefields (and other sites) associated with the Iran-Iraq war.