Thursday, 25 August 2016

Iran to confront trespassing vessels in Persian Gulf

My appearance on Press TV talking about America's trespassing naval vessels in the Strait of Hormuz.

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Behind the 1953 Coup in Iran: Thugs, Turncoats, Soldiers, and Spooks by Ali Rahnema

On this 63rd anniversay of the 1953 coup d'etat in Iran, about two days ago I leisurely started reading this book and just finished it. Ali Rahnema's study utilizes an extensive trove of declassified US and British government documents about the event, and so as a study it is one of its kind and pretty much surpasses anything written about the subject thus far. Rahnema offers a comprehensive background to the event and focuses on both the first and second coups: the first one on August 15-16 1953, which failed (and witnessed the immediate flight of the Shah from the country), and the second that occurred on August 19th, that succeeded.

Contextualizing the event and the major actors behind it, Rahnema then gives us a blow by blow coverage of these four momentous days in modern Iranian history, telescoping on August 19th from several vantage points: the perspective of the internal coup plotters; the paid rent-a-crowd riff-raff of south Tehran who rioted against Mossadegh's government as a cover for the actions of the military putschists; the cosa nostra handlers and organizers of this riff-raff; the foreign organizers and spooks involved; the agent provocateurs pretending to be Tudeh communists; the Tudeh itself; the supporters and entourage of Mossadegh and, of course, Mossadegh himself; Fazlollah Zahedi and his entourage;  those clergy involved and their supporters; the Shah and his entourage; the military commanders and soldiers on the ground carrying out the coup; the US and British governments, etc.

I learned much from reading this study, and Rahnema cleared up several huge gaps around the '53 coup which many scholars had uncritically repeated in much of the literature. For example, the previous assumption regarding Grand Ayatollah Borujerdi's (ra) support of the '53 coup is no longer a tenable one. Borujerdi not only did not support the anti-Mossadegh activities of two of his junior colleagues -- viz. ayatollahs Behbehani and Kashani -- but actually supported Mossadegh to the very end. He also did not send a congratulatory telegram to Shah Mohammad-Reza Pahlavi in Rome when Mossadegh was toppled, as previously held, but waited four days after the Shah had arrived back in Iran (i.e. after August 22nd) to send such a telegram; and the telegram to Mohammad-Reza Pahlavi by Borujerdi was hardly a friendly one, both worded and sounding more like how Mirza-ye Shirazi once addressed Nasiruddin Shah about rescinding the Tobacco concession during the early 1890s.

Rahnema also discusses the questions lingering over the constitutional legality of Mossadegh's dismissal by the Shah; whether the letters signed by him dismissing Mossadegh were even genuine; and so whether or not Mossadegh was legally obliged to hand over power to Fazlollah Zahedi when questions lingered over the veracity of the letters purportedly signed by the Shah dismissing him as PM.

The chronology put at the beginning of the book is perhaps the most extensive and accurate chronology of the August 1953 coup d'etat published in any study. Rahnema also recreates accurate maps of the Tehran of August 1953 showing how events would have unfolded.

All in all, I really enjoyed this book, and in several places it practically read like a spy novel.

5 stars!

Sunday, 31 July 2016

Turkey to close military schools following coup bid

My appearance on Press TV (30 July 2016) talking about the post-coup situation in Turkey, from 2:02min in.

Press TV - Palestine to sue UK over Balfour Declaration

My appearance on Press TV's ON THE NEWS LINE program (30 July 2016) to talk about the strengths of the Palestinian Authority's case against the British government over the Balfour Declaration of 1917.

Why the Palestinian Authority has a valid legal case against the UK government for the Balfour Declaration

1. The British foreign secretary (Arthur James Balfour) made an undertaking to a British national (Walter Rothschild) regarding the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine at a time (November 1917) when Britain neither had territorial possession of Palestine or when the outcome of the war against Ottoman Turkey was even known, let alone realized;

2. At the time the Balfour Declaration was made (2 November 1917) Palestine was still technically Ottoman Turkish territory and so Britain had no legal jurisdiction to be making promissory declarations in the first place;

3. The undertaking to establish a Jewish homeland in Palestine within the text of the Balfour Declaration was made with the explicit provision "...that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine..." This did not happen;

4. The British Mandate for Palestine was officially established in 22 July 1922 when the League of Nations conferred it, well over four and a half years after the Balfour Declaration was made, thus any legal authority the British government may have claimed over Palestinian territory is only valid under international law as of the commencement date of this mandate, and not before it;

5. The British Mandate Authority, its senior administration, bureaucracy, military personnel, etc., were under the direct aegis of the British government in London from its commencement in 1922 to its termination in 1948;

6. From the establishment of the British Palestinian Mandate in 1922 to May 1948 with Ben Gurion's unilateral declaration of Israeli statehood, the British Mandate Authority undermined any possibility for the emergence of Palestinian statehood, and instead in word and action -- even when it claimed to oppose the Zionists -- facilitated the emergence of a Jewish state, whereby it acted as a transition body to that end, thus by word and deed negating its undertaking in the cited passage of the Balfour Declaration above and opening itself to liability under international law for its failure in the explicit undertaking;

7. The British government of 1917 had no right of jurisdiction under international law to be making any undertaking for the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine;

8. At no time in 1947 when the UN partition plan for Palestine took place (29 November 1947), did the British government attempt to assert any rights under the Balfour Declaration against the creation of a Jewish state when the Balfour Declaration had only called for the creation of a "Jewish homeland" and *not* a Jewish state. This vote at the United Nations took place at a time when the British Mandate for Palestine was still legally in place;

Given the above, the British government holds liability under international law and cannot claim any indemnity from a suit brought by the Palestinian Authority against it. It also cannot claim any statute of limitations either with regard to the Balfour Declaration since there are clear precedents in other areas of international law where such liability may be imposed retroactively, such as crimes against humanity/war crimes, etc (per the Nuremberg precedent and others).