Friday, October 14, 2016

Hussein, A Guide to Contemporary Salvation

We just left behind the days of Ashura, the tenth of Muharram, the annual ceremonies commemorating the martyrdom of Hussein the grandson of Prophet Muhammad, in 61 AH. The event has now been commmemorated for about 14 centuries in many parts of the Islamic world. What makes Ashura eternal and universal is a discourse which is relevant and compelling for most human beings even today.
The Ommayid Dynasty ruled over most of the Islamic lands at that time. In practice they had departed disgracefully from the authentic teachings and ethics of Islam. Their tyranny and materialistic outlook was taking  Muslim societies backwards and they were propagating a very deviated and distorted image of the religion. Imam Hussein who followed the tradition and pure beliefs of the Prophet  was deeply critical and resentful of the ruling system , he had not pledged allegiance to Yazid the Khalifat.His life was thus threatened in Mecca while the people of Kufa had sent thousands of letters asking him to come to their rescue. He decided to leave taking his family along as a sign of peaceful migration. Hussein's rationale and charismatic behaviour had attracted many and this could not be tolerated by Yazid. Imam set out for Iraq  with family and companions but  Yazid decided to confront him and force him to pledge allegiance or face an unequal battle. Hussein asked them to let him return back .He  reminded them of his backgrounds, his father Ali and brother Hassan were of the most famous and revered personalities of their time, they too were also persecuted by the dreadful brutality but also worldly attractions of the rulers that made the people complacent in face of the truth. Imam knew that if he submitted he was in a sense validating their system in the name of Islam. So he decided to withstand, to resist and to fight in an eternal battle between falsehood and righteousness.

Historians have accounted many narratives known as maghatel some of them overstating and some closer to the reality. Many Muslim and non Muslim scholars have studied and written on this important subject. According to the original narratives, Hussein announced that he will stand up for enjoining what is the truth and forbiding what is wrong and to bring about a reform in the deviated ranks of the religion.  The legacy of Hussein was to support the oppressed and confront the oppressors, choosing life with dignity or martyrdom instead of siding with tyranny and hypocrisy. Imam and his companions fought valiantly and were martyred so that the truth would shine and the true path of righteousness would remain for all humanity. His compelling cause was that of all humanity of all times, not confined to one geography or on era but a universal message that many irrespective of religion or nationality respect and cherish.
This event becomes very relevent at a time when certain groups and states in the name of Islam are wrongly attempting to create discord and hatred , when they resort to violence and terror as a means to make their case. When DAESH is supported and funded by certain states to create war in Iraq and in Syria, to establish a rule of terror in the name of the  Religion of Compassion ,who is to be held accountable in the international scene? When double standards take an independent nation to years of sanctions for a probable threat, what has been done to condemn an illegitimate state which has nuclear arsenals with no international regulation and oversight. What has been done to condemn a state that has been bombing civilians in Yemen for so many years ? Why is there so very little coverage about the tragedies and civilian deaths in Yemen in mainstream media? When will governments that have had military adventures in the region be held accountable for the suffering of people in Afghanistan, in Iraq,in Yemen , in Gaza in the West Bank, in Syria, in Libya in Somalia?  Is it only now that the ughly offshoots of terror and the collateral damage of the homeless refugees has reached their shores and shaken their societies, the West is waking up to this tragedy. Now listen to the disgusting election debates that are exposing the dirty side of politics in a country that claims to lead the world. The United Nations has not lived up to its commitments to protect global peace and security, and Ban Ki Moon will leave the world more insecure than when he began, more in environmental distress than before he started. If they have assisted or tacitly approved these actions , global leaders are accomplices in these tragedies.
These are reasons why we need to mourn and pray for humanity today , this is why we need to mourn for the martyrdom of Hussein . These sad realities are why we need to uphold the sublime values that define human dignity .These are the shared values that we need to respect and protect in these turbulent times. This is why Hussein is and will always be the light of guidance and ship of salvation.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Peace & Environment Major Issues Iran Will Pursue in Post Sanctions Era

Iran will play a constuctive role in global and regional peacemaking after the nuclear deal and the full lifting of all sanctions and restrictions on Iran's dealings with the world. This process has advanced since the deal was struck and implementation day announced weeks ago. Private and corporate sector investors from around the globe are securing deals and investments in areas important for the sustainable development of Iran. In the DOE we are encouraging investment for the environment, green technologies, renewables, waste management,energy  and water efficiency fields. 
The visit of President Rouhani to Italy and France was an important step in securing stronger relations with European States that have been strong economic allies in the past.
President Rouhani and President Hollande spoke on the importance of building relationships that go beyond economic and trade issues and could enable peacemaking and resolution of conflicts that have left millions in despair in the region.
They vowed to address the root causes of extremism and terror in todays world.I think this was an important step forward. We signed several agreements including one on environmental cooperation.
What is important in the world is that leaders who control wealth and power need to understand that if they seek peace for their country they should seek peace for all humans. If they look for happiness for their people they must pursue happiness for all humanity. If they aspire a healthy environment for their people they should strive to save the planet for all. These are universal values that do not fit in with greed and selfishness.  What is important is that many conflicts can be resolved peacefully ;if there is a genuine resolve for peace, that is if the military machinery and industry of the big powers allow, if the cartels and oil trusts permit, if the corrupt politicians change course, if the people of the world awaken to these realities which are shaping our future and that of generations to come.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Iran Takes Part in Climate Summit

The earth's vital signs are distressed due to the excesses and agression humans have displayed. Global warming is one of the most important manifestations of this distress. After the Convention for Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol, now global talks for the pre and post 2020 agenda have culminated in the COP21 negotiations. While few actions for implementing the Kyoto Protocol have been taken by some developed countries others refrained and global warming continued. In this round recognising the urgency of the matter, the international community decided to invite all countries to voluntarily submit their contributions to the mitigation and adaptation processes ie, the INDCs.
While 140 leaders took part in the Paris summit, amounting to the largest one day gathering of world leaders, 180 countries submitted their INDCs creating an unprecedented opportunity for global action to curb greenhouse gas emissions and slow the warming processes before it nears the 2 degrees Celsius danger point. The important issue is the inequalities manifested in both the consequenses and the responsibilities which the rich countries do not wish to undertake.  
I took part on behalf of President Rouhani in the Summit in Paris . Leaders were all welcomed by President Hollande and  UNSG Ban Ki Moon as well as Ministers Fabius and Royale. I thanked the President for the hospitality of his government and conveyed the regards of President Rouhani. I also expressed my condolences for the victims of the tragic terrorist attacks in Paris. Mr. Ban Ki Moon also welcomed me and I thanked him and hoped for success in the negotiations. 
In the couple hours we had before the opening we met several heads of States and Prime Ministers, including the presidents of Iraq, Afghanistan, Lithuania, Armenia, Bolivia, Vietnam, Switzerland , King of Sweden, Prince of Monaco and Prime Ministers of Palestine, Pakistan, Japan, Norway, Algeria, Greece,Ireland, Vietnam and Chancellor Merkel. We spoke about bilateral relations and environmental cooperation. After the inaugural plenary session we also had some other bilateral meetings and interviews and ultimately I made my speech and we left for Tehran that night.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Supreme Leader Submits General Policies for the Environment

General Policies are high level strategies formulated by experts in the Expediency Council, adopted in that council and endorsed by the Supreme Leader. We were working with the Council for the past year to define the outlines and content of the major policies we need for the environment in Iran. These general policies will enable us to strengthen cross sectoral cooperation and to engage the judiciary, legislative and even armed forces to engage in implementation of environmental policies. The stategic mandate given in this directive also addresses social participation and the civil society which could be instumental for a social campaign to change current mentality and lifestyles particulaly in consumption patterns of water and energy. In addition  the emphasis on greening of the economy and supporting green technologies will give us strong incentives for investment and growth. The need to mitigate greenhouse gases and confront the detrimental effects of climate change is clearly mentioned as well.  The clear focus on environmental diplomacy is also important given the regional role with our neighbours and with the wider international community that we need to persue. The General Policies have given us a strong support in promoting the environmental agenda led by President Rouhani in the current government. These policies have also given a strong signal of committment and cooperation at the international level at the onset of COP21 negotiations on the new climate agreement. 
Iran will have an important role, as an influential and committed regional and global player, for promoting peace and environmental protection for our home, planet earth. 


Expand green economy, administer justice and raise awareness of the environment

In a letter to the heads of the three branches of government, Ayatollah Khamenei, the Leader of the Islamic Revolution, announced the general policies on the environment on the basis of the first clause in Article 110 of the Constitution. 

The following is the full text of these policies issued on November 17, 2015.

In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful

General Policies on the Environment:
1.    Comprehensive, harmonious and organized management of vital resources (including the air, water, soil and environmental diversity) based on ecological capability and sustainability particularly by increasing capacities and appropriate legal and structural capabilities accompanied by public participation.
2.    Establishing a cohesive and national system on the issue of the environment.

3.    Improving environmental conditions with the purpose of helping society enjoy a healthy environment, administering justice and observing intra-generational rights.

4.    Preventing and prohibiting the circulation of all kinds of unlawful pollutants, recording crimes related to the environment, administering efficient and preventive punishment of polluters and destroyers of the environment and forcing them to compensate for their actions.
5.    Continuous refinement and control of air, water, soil and noise pollutants, destructive waves and rays and unfavorable climatic changes, and making compulsory the observation of environmental standards and criteria in implementing rules and regulations, development plans and spatial planning.

6.    Preparing an environmental atlas of the country and protecting, reviving, optimizing and developing renewable natural resources (such as seas, lakes, rivers, dam reservoirs, wetlands, aquifers, forests, soil, grasslands and environmental diversity particularly of wildlife), imposing legal restrictions on using these resources in line with their ecologic capability (their sustainability and resilience capabilities) on the basis of sustainability standards and criteria, the management of sensitive and valuable ecosystems (including national parks and other national environmental heritage), preserving genetic resources and developing and improving them at the level of international standards.

7.    Managing climatic changes, confronting environmental threats such as desertification, dust particles, drought and microbial and radioactive transmitters, promoting foresight and identifying and managing new environmental phenomena. 

8.    Expanding the green economy by emphasizing:

8.1. Low-carbon industries, the use of clean sources of energy and healthy agricultural and organic products, the management of waste and wastewater by optimizing economic, social, natural and environmental capacities and resources.

8.2.    The reformation of production patterns in different economic and social areas, the improvement of consumption patterns of water, various resources and materials, food and energy sources particularly through promoting those fuel sources that are in harmony with the environment.

8.3.    The promotion of green and non-fossil modes of public transportation such as electric modes and an increase in public transportation particularly in large cities.

9.    Balancing and preserving, in an optimal way, groundwater through watershed and aquifer management, managing elements that reduce groundwater utilization and evaporation and preventing the entrance of pollutants.

10.    Establishing an environmental auditing system in the country by considering environmental values and costs (destruction, pollution and revival) in national accounting.

11.    Supporting and encouraging investments and technologies that are compatible with the environment by using proper means including green taxes.

12.    Preparing an environmental behavior chart and promoting and establishing environmental behavior and culture based on constructive Iranian-Islamic values and patterns.

13.    Improving studies and scientific research, utilizing new environmental technologies, benefiting from constructive domestic experiences in the area of preserving the balance of ecosystems, and preventing the environment from being polluted and destroyed.

14.    Raising and strengthening societial awareness, knowledge and outlook about the environment, and strengthening religious culture and teachings related to social responsiblty particularly through enjoining to do good and forbidding evil with the purpose of preserving the environment at all levels of society. 

15.    Strengthening environmental diplomacy through:

15.1. Efforts to create and strengthen regional organizations with the responsibility of confronting dust particles and water pollution.
15.2. Strengthening relations and encouraging purposeful and efficient cooperation – bilateral, multilateral, regional and international cooperation – in the area of the environment.

15.3. Making efficient use of international opportunities and incentives in moving towards a low-carbon economy and facilitating the transport and development of relevant technologies and innovations.


    Saturday, October 24, 2015

    The Timeless Message of Hussein: A Time for Contemplation

    The timeless message of Imam Hussein the younger grandson of the Prophet, is now a dynamic source of inspiration for many. Ashura has become an opportunity for contemplation on the plight of humanity. 
    Sixty years after the advent of Islam and the Hejira, fearing a serious deviation from the authentic teachings of  Islam ,Imam Hussein did not pledge allegience to the tyrant of his time. Being a charismatic and popular figure, Hussein was under tremendous pressure to approve thetreacherous  policies of Yazid .Branded as a rebell by the regime and based on the invitation of thousands of Kufan residents he departed from  Mecca before Hajj. Along with his companions and household, he faced a full army prepared for war in Karbala. He attempted to prevent war and bloodshed but the enmy was relentless. He was martyred along with his sons and companions leaving his sister Zainab and the children to pass on the message of Karbala.
      His was a life of love and inviting all humans to embrace the qualities of virtue.  The account of his legendary life and Ashura as the climax of his campaign for justice, is laden with references to his compassion and love for all. His endeavors to bring the adversaries to reverse their policy and leave him alone and abandone the battle field are a clear testimony to the ethical nature of his cause. In stark contrast with the message of contemporary reactionary terrorists who try to portray a very violent and ruthless image of Islam, Hussein's mesage was one of abiding to principles of human dignity, even in the battle field Imam orders his warriors not to shut off water from the enemy. He invites them to change course and save themselves,but they have been promised reign and wealth in return for killing Imam and silencing his campaign for justice.
    Fourteen centuries later, the voice of Hussein is loud and clear as he calls " life with oppressors is loss,and death becomes salvation" or as he said "my revolution is to invite people to enjoin in what is right and avoid what is wrong". Hussein stand as a beacon of light in the dark times we experience today, the philosophy of Hussein stands as a ship of salvation for a humanity shaken by stormy waters of war, violence and dangers for the future of our planet earth.
    More and more we see people from different walks of life, from different religions and nationalities embracing the cause of Hussein, striving for a life of dignity in a world torn apart by poverty, war, injustices and environmental degradation.

    Saturday, October 17, 2015

    Iranian Wonderland

    The Islamic Consultative Assembly or Majlis as we call it, witnessed fierce debates on the Nuclear Agreement. The supporters of Paydari Faction,  who stood firmly behind the former President Ahmadinejad During his term, are staunch adversaries of the agreement. They went as far as threatening Drs. Zarif and Salehi ,the Foreign Minister and the Head of the Atomic Energy Organization. Yet ultimately since the majority were convinced, in spite of the  very  heavy lobby  of the opponent and the very negative report of the special commmittee in charge, the agreement was appproved by the Majlis and endorsed by the Council of Guardians. Thus, one of the major vows of President Rouhani during his election campaign has neared fulfilment. While the Supreme Leader has given the green light for the 5+1 Agreement from the star,he has stressed on containment of political relations with the US considering the continued expansionist and militaristic policies of that government in the region.
    During the past months we are witnessing a rising flurry of diplomatic and business delgations, including a evident willingness on behalf of American corporations who feel they are falling behind in the competition. European and Asian, political and economic sectors have arrived but we have also seen a surge in journalists and tourists arriving in the Iranian Wonderland.
    Journalists are asking for interviews many of which I simply cannot accomodate, but those which I do, are keen on asking about the future of our relations with the west about my views as a member of the revolutionary student group in 1979, on the prospects of the new deal for the region and the world .
    I believe that the Moderation Government of Dr. Rouhani has taken great economic, social, political ,environmental and international strides in the past 25 months, yet we still have a long way ahead. In light of the very volatile situation of the middle east Iran has been playing a more proactive role to create more trust and confidence and sort out the differences created by a fabricated wave of Iranophobia among Arab states. We also have much to do in terms of creating grounds for a full integration of political groups loyal to the Constitution in the upcomming Majlis elections.
    We also have a very challenging course ahead in terms of integrating environmental concerns in the country's development processes.
    Hope and Prudence have been the key motivating factors in this path; we trust in God to guide us through these troubled waters.

    Friday, October 2, 2015

    GreenTech Helsinki

    I visited Helsiniki this month based on the invitation of the Finnish Minister of Economy to speak at an international event on Green Technologies. In addition to taking part in that session I met several dignitaries including, the President of Finland, the speaker of the Parliament, the Minister of Trade, the Minister of Environment, and the Committee on Foreign affairs.

    The cordial and positive atmosphere in all the meetings was indicative of a general resolve to upgrade bilateral relationships. Many Finnish corporations had a long history of successful dealings with Iran until of course the sanctions. 

    On the second day of my visit I also had the opportunity to meet with the Confederation of Finnish Industries and several top business leaders who were very keen to find ways to return or to begin investment in Iran. I explained the environmental challenges we face in Iran and proposed a joint effort to invest in green technologies such as solar energy.

    Several interviews with local and international media were convened including one with Euronews. Journalists were mostly inquisitive about the post[-]sanctions plans and the future relationships between Iran and the West.

    In these deliberations I emphasized on the emerging role of Iran in promoting peace and security in the region. I also mentioned that environmental issues are of a global and human nature and that we are all passengers of one ship and have a common but differentiated responsibility in this regard.

    Meanwhile, duringthe previous visit I had two months ago in Norway we had decided to convene technical workshops on renewable energies and environmental standards in petroleum industries. These workshops will be held in Bushehr and Tehran next month marking the start of our practical cooperation .