I was about to publish the piece below one day ago. It was based on a press conference of the Iranian Foreign Ministry on Sunday, July 21, 2013. But just two days later, the same Foreign Ministry spokesperson contradicted his own statement that America had been invited to the inauguration. This is a highly unusual development that I will analyze below, and the story may still be unfolding. But first read this piece:
Return the Gesture: Invite President Rowhani of Iran to the White House
The Foreign Ministry of Iran has invited the European Union and the United States
to attend the inauguration of President Rowhani on August 4. The evidence of history suggests that the smart thing for the United States to do is seize the moment and quickly return the friendly gesture. The White House should invite President Rowhani to the White House on September 21, the …
Washington (CNN) — An ancient Persian symbol of freedom, tolerance and coexistence has joined documents like the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights and the Emancipation Proclamation in Washington.
The Cyrus Cylinder represents the spirit and ideals of Cyrus, the leader of the Achaemenid Empire in the sixth century B.C. After peacefully conquering Babylon in 539 B.C.and declaring his principles on the cylinder, Cyrus freed the Jewish population of Babylon from long bondage and rebuilt the Temple in Jerusalem.
The Cyrus Cylinder inspired many throughout history — in particular 18th century Enlightenment philosophers, historians and politicians in Europe and America — as a source of their thinking on human rights, settling conflicts and leadership.
Thomas Jefferson reportedly owned two copies of the Cyropaedia, Xenophon’s biography of Cyrus, and carried it for inspiration and guidance.
Today — far from ancient Persia and the Enlightenment, in a different, far more …
This article was originally published on January 18th here.
At the beginning of December 2011, the Center for World Religions, Diplomacy, and Conflict Resolution at George Mason University convened a meeting of over twenty world famous Islamic scholars and dignitaries together with over one hundred and twenty clerics from every province of Afghanistan. The event was unprecedented in the history of Afghan conflict resolution. Never before had anyone brought together the beleaguered Imams of the Afghan provinces, men who had stood up for peace and risked their lives to fight against the misuse of their religion. These men stood witness as colleagues, who dared stand up at Friday prayer and advocate for Islam’s commitment to nonviolence, for women’s rights, and for tolerance, were assassinated by radical forces in the region and neighboring states whose only purpose was to keep the war going and Afghanistan divided. Nevertheless, these men …
Just a few days ago was the longest night of the year. Another way of looking at is that this was night in which the tide of darkness began to turn back in favor of light. Bunched around this time are so many ancient holidays of lights and candles, of which Hanukah and Christmas are but two. Ancient rabbinic tradition suggests that the purpose of the small light at night is to teach that it takes only the light of one individual candle to illuminate the darkness of an entire room—or the world.
Peering at small lights at night, meditating on them, also has another interesting impact. It makes the blinding light of the morning sun feel almost miraculous. Indeed, many of the pre-monotheistic nighttime celebrations of light at this time of year are actually celebrations of the birth of light, and particularly sunlight. There is an inescapable reality to …
This article originally appeared on the Al Jazeeera English website on Dec. 12, 2011. You can view it by clicking here .
Washington, DC – There is a long record of the grim effects of sanctions in international struggles against those states deemed as “rogue”. Sanctions are seen as righteous instruments, a non-violent way to pressure problematic regimes to change. But when you really don’t care about a country or its people, then your true attitudes emerge in the way in which you use the sanctions instrument of policy.
Let’s take Iraq. Based on estimates of the massive increase in child mortality rates through the years of the sanctions in the 1990s, anywhere from 300,000 to a million people lost their lives. But no one in Saddam’s inner circle, none of the wealthy, and none of the killers, died from those sanctions. Such sanctions were touted as an enlightened and …
More than 120 Muslim leaders Commit to the Future of Afghanistan during International Conference in Turkey
George Mason University Press Release
November 29, 2011
Istanbul, Turkey –From every province of Afghanistan, Imams and civil society leaders will meet together today with Islamic scholars for the first time during the Islamic Cooperation for a Peaceful Future in Afghanistan conference, an unprecedented gathering that will open on November 30 in Istanbul, Turkey. More than 80 Afghan scholars will meet with over 20 of the world’s most prestigious Muftis and Islamic scholars, with millions of followers across the world, from Pakistan to Indonesia.
The conference participants consider this gathering, discussion and commitment for peace and non-violence as the establishment of a historically significant point of reference for Islamic teachings of moderation, tolerance, peace and cooperation.
The conference is an academic forum created by the Center for World Religions, …
By Hind Aboud Kabawat (Senior Research Analyst and Expert in Conflict Resolution, CRDC, George Mason University).
May 20, 2011
Can our beloved Syria be saved from the brink of destruction? This is clearly the question on the minds of millions of our fellow countrymen (and countrywomen). And it is truly astonishing how quickly events have transformed the so-called “facts on the ground” in this country. One of the most locked-down societies in the Middle East quite suddenly erupted in rage, anger and frustration after forty years of political repression and economic stagnation. Just think of it: the first demonstration was on March 15, just a mere two months ago. But so much has changed in the minds, hearts and aspirations of the Syrian people that it is impossible to think that we can ever return to the status quo ante—the Syria of March 14th.
What the …
Here are two interviews that I did with Fox News and Russia TV on Tuesday, regarding thousands of Palestinian refugees who attempted to nonviolently cross Israeli borders from the Syrian, Lebanese, and Palestinian border last weekend, resulting in several deaths and dozens injured.
President Obama has signaled in recent days that he will be confronting China much more on its global policies. But China is on the rise as the premier economic global power, even as America is on the decline, and it remains to be seen what kind of confrontation could be effective. Will China’s rise actually be good news for the world? This will depend on how China rises, and it will be wise to challenge China on its humanitarian impact every bit as much as on its economic impact globally. Let’s look at one example.
Burma has one of the worst governments in the world, a place where citizens live in terror. The military junta seized power when Aung San Suu Kyi’s party won 392 of the 492 seats in Parliament. It does not fully control the Hill Country on the west and east sides of the country, inhabited by …
Here’s an excerpt from Richard Lloyd Parry’s article in the Times Online, titled “North Korean envoys in talks with South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak”:
“If the South and the North genuinely try to resolve problems through dialogue, there will be no problems that cannot be resolved,” [South Korean President] Lee was quoted as having told his visitors, who flew back to Pyongyang soon after the meeting and did not attend the funeral itself. “[The North Korean delegation] expressed its gratitude for allowing the meeting and suggested both sides can co-operate and resolve [problems],” Mr Lee’s spokesman said.
It was the first time that North Korea had sent official mourners for a South Korean president, reflecting the importance of the late Kim Dae Jung in the history of relations between the two states. Mr Kim was the architect of the so-called “Sunshine Policy” which, in contrast to that of the