Author Archives: Gareth Smyth

No outcry, just a whimper

No outcry, just a whimper

Protests in the Islamic world were hardly a surprise whenthe Queen of England, Elizabeth II, last month awarded aknighthood to the controversial author Salman Rushdie. BothSunni Pakistan and Shia Iran summoned the British ambassadorfor a diplomatic dressing down. In Tehran, Fars News Agency reproduced the religiousruling of February 14, 1989, from the late Imam RuhollahKhomeini

Taking the hejab heat

Summer arrived early in Iran this year, and withthe hot May days the annual drive against “bad hejab” tookon greater force than usual. Police arrested thousands ofwomen deemed to be flouting laws requiring covering inpublic, seizing women with hair spilling out from headscarves or whose coats were too short or too tight. There has been

Gone fission

For anyone who knows the strange relationship between the Great Satan and the Axis of Evil, the most stunning aspect of the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) concerning Iran’s nuclear program was its notion of anyone in Tehran making rational calculations. Where once there were “mad mullahs”, all of a sudden there was an Iranian state

Lessons of a hostage crisis

The United States’ cold war with Iran has taken aseries of sinister turns in recent weeks. Hopes of regionalco-operation over Iraq’s future are just one victim ofWashington’s drive to apply the thumbscrews. The good news was Tehran’s release of 15 British sailors andmarines, and the freeing in Baghdad of Jalal Sharafi, secondsecretary in Iran’s embassy,

Iran‘s home-grown auto market

  It’s an ill wind that blows someone some good. Tehran’sinfamous traffic congestion may clog its roads and the lungsof its 12 million inhabitants, but it means big business forIran’s car makers. Total production of new vehicles reached nearly 1 millionfor the Iranian year ending March 20, according to Ali RezaTahmasbi, the minister of industries

Saudis moving to block Iranians

While many analysts have in recent weeks trumpeted the role of Iran as an emerging regional power, the more astute have pointed to the remarkable role of Saudi Arabia in shaping the regional agenda across both the Persian Gulf and the Levant. The two key developments were February’s Saudi-brokered Mecca agreement between Hamas and Fatah,

Dealing with Iran

Iran’s influence in the region and the Islamic world will likely continue to increase in 2007, as the United States fails to come up with credible strategies for managing Iraq or for reaching international consensus on Tehran’s nuclear program. If Washington is serious about talks, however, Iran may gradually return to the less confrontational style

Not such a simple picture

Back in January in Beirut, Sadreddine Sadr, the son of Imam Musa Sadr, told me Lebanon could never make peace with itself while “all sects, including my own, look to outside allies for support rather than to fellow Lebanese.” While many Lebanese have in recent years expected the US, France, or the Saudis to solve

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