Fisherman Diplomacy?

6 01 2012

International Relations have seen ping-pong diplomacy, chess diplomacy, sports diplomacy, and musical and cultural diplomacy.  Now, we have the potential for “fisherman diplomacy.”

Thirteen Iranian fishermen were profoundly grateful to the US Navy today.  That’s not something we see often.  Somali pirates had taken over the Iranian vessel and held the crew hostage for weeks.  This happened in the thick of tensions in the Persian Gulf region, with Iran holding naval exercises and threatening to close the Strait of Hormuz; and demanding that the Stennis aircraft carrier leave the region.  Ironically, the very same aircraft carrier group’s forces rescued the Iranian fishermen in response to a distress call.

This development is a golden opportunity for Iran and the US to talk to each other, and in the process calm the tensions that have been building up for the last few weeks.  Interestingly, during all the saber rattling, Iran has hinted at willingness to hold talks about the nuclear program.  The January 7th edition of the Tehran Times reports that Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi “said at a joint press conference with (Turkish Foreign Minister) Ahmet Davutoglu in Tehran on Thursday that the Islamic Republic is also ready to resume talks with the 5+1 group (the UN Security Council members + Germany) at a time and place agreed by both sides.”

However, I could not see any mention of the fishermen’s rescue on the Tehran Times website.  This is not the time to allow egos and pride get in the way of diplomacy and preventing future conflicts.  Rescuing innocent hostages from pirates should be seen as a gesture of good faith.  I recommend that all sides go fishing together, but not in pirate-infested waters.

NOTE:  Everything I write in this blog constitutes my personal opinions and views.

Women are “Strategy,” Says Iran’s Supreme Leader

6 01 2012

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei spoke at a “Forum on Strategic Thought” on Wednesday, the theme of which was “Women and Family.”  This is what he said, according to the Tehran Times:

“’The role of women in the campaign (against the Iranian dictator Mohammad Reza Pahlavi’s regime), in the victory of the Islamic Revolution, and after the revolution, particularly during the extremely difficult time of the Sacred Defense (1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war), and in various areas is an effective, special, and unique role, which cannot be measured with any criterion,” the Leader said. 

Ayatollah Khamenei also advised scholars, researchers, and the media to pay due attention to the issues of women and family from the viewpoint of Islam.

Elsewhere in his remarks, the Leader criticized the West’s attitude toward women as insulting and said that this attitude has damaged the dignity and status of women in Western societies.’”

The ambiguity of his comments surprised me.  I don’t know if it was limited reporting, or he in fact did not elaborate on the role of women during Iran’s revolution and crises, and the “special, unique role, which cannot be measured with any criterion.”  Notwithstanding the theocracy’s male-mullah-dominated power structure, it’s extremely unnerving to me that the state would define women’s roles and effectiveness.  I’d like to ask my readers to chime in on this one.

NOTE:  Everything I write in this blog constitutes my personal opinions and views.

Supremacy Squared

5 01 2012

The world now has two “Supreme Leaders”:  Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Iran, and Kim Jong Un in North Korea.  And, the late Colonel Muammar Qaddafi called himself the “Brother Leader.”  But it’s the double “supreme” leaders that render a global enigma.  Can the world have two “supreme leaders”?  Of course, this is a rhetorical question, tinged with a dose of sarcasm.

Khamanei runs a totalitarian theocracy, based on Twelver Shiism.  Kim Jong Un, now succeeding his deceased father, Kim Jong Il, heads a totalitarian “Stalinist” state.  Both, to varying degrees, stoke personality cults, both rely on powerful militaries, and both embrace nuclear power.  The legacy of both has led their respective countries into isolation, invited harsh economic sanctions, arrested socioeconomic development, brutally repressed opposition and grossly violated human rights, and provocatively brought their countries to the brink of war without regard to the consequences of their actions, and at the expense of their own people.  Supremely reckless indeed.

NOTE:  Everything I write in this blog constitutes my personal opinions and views.