Sunday, July 19, 2015

Hopes on the Horizon

Hopes on the Horizon

In the Name of Allah, the Merciful the Compassionate

The agreement between Iran and 5 +1 on the nuclear activities of the Islamic Republic has been coined as a major historical event which has changed the course of events not only with respect to relationships among these nations but also at the broader international level. This new page in history has brought into light the real image of Iran.  Adversaries for a long time, used a name calling game to label Iran as a threat, as irrational and hostile in mainstream media, they had invested on creating a negative and fearsome image .  Iran was portrayed as a source of instability and threat for the region, Iranophobia was advertised to ensure a constant sales of arms to the Sheikhdoms of Persian Gulf. Iran was excessively threatened  and pressured for several years. Unnecessary and illegal sanctions were adopted against Iran, including chapter 7 resolutions which could take a country to military confrontation. A continuation of that trend would have eventually lead to escalation of conflicts in the very volatile west Asian region. While the sanctions did pressure the economy and environment in Iran, the nation withstood the pressures. Iranians were never prepared to submit or to relinquish their rights as a dignified member of the global community.
In the Presidential elections of 2013 the people of Iran voted for a change in both  domestic politics and international diplomacy. They voted so that the nuclear issue would be resolved in a peaceful and balanced manner, protecting the rights of Iran to peaceful nuclear technologies but also addressing international concerns.  Dr. Rouhani was elected by the people to change the previous trends and address both national and international challenges in a rational manner. In addition to the weight that the Rouhani administration gave to curbing inflation and improving conditions for the workplace and employment ,special emphasis was placed on environmental standards and mainstreaming sustainable development policy as well as a robust health care scheme which was implemented nationwide. As his government was tackling the very difficult internal issues, Dr. Rouhani mandated the Foreign Minister Dr. Zarif and his team to engage with the 5+1 for a serious resolution of the nuclear issue. According to many observers, the Iranian negotiating team were both very qualified and experienced but also knowledgeable on the technical matters, particularly since Dr. Salehi the current Head of the Atomic Energy Organisation joined them.  A regional power negotiated competently for several months with six major global powers , even as the stream of events unfolded it became clear that Iranians, clear on their rights and objectives, are patient and polite and as Zarif noted clearly “ Iranians are not to be threatened”. After a lengthly process of negotiations where many issues were resolved and both sides made possible concessions, hardliners from both sides began a campaign to derail and spoil the processes. Also those who felt that their interests were undermined began a smearing campaign. The highest political will on all sides and specifically the support of the Supreme Leader, who indicated his full trust for the negotiating team, paved way for the final round and ultimate settlement.
A longstanding conflict between Iran and the West came to a settlement which can prevent a new war and military adventures in the region. Many clashes in the  world have led to armed conflict and loss of human life, this is a new chapter in the international scene where a conflict is resolved through tedious and long months of negotiations. This is an example of a win win outcome where both sides believe they have gained. The strong message of peace and reconciliation that this agreement sends in a world marred by the terrible violence and killings of the extremists and terrorists, is a beacon of hope for the world and can serve as an example for others.
 The Holy Quran has  many lessons for humankind, it makes a clear reference to such examples in the verse Fuselat ayat 34 : “And not equal are the good deed and the bad. Repel [evil] by that [deed] which is better; and thereupon the one whom between you and him is enmity [will become] as though he was a devoted friend.”

Friday, July 10, 2015

Quds Day, Unity for Justice, Peace

People and government have been celebrating the last Friday of Ramadhan as Quds day in Iran for 34 years. Many other nations have also embraced the celebration during these years. Millions march in support of the Palestinian cause and condemn the atrocities and oppression of the zionsts. The issue of Palestine stands today as a stark symbol of global injustice and mismanagement with no clear solution in sight.

International instititions and major powers have failed to act properly and to save innocent civilian lives in many instances including Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Gaza. This incompetence has led to despair and has fuelled hatred and violence in the world. Today many analysts have found evidence to believe that DAESH is a fabrication of Western and Zionists intelligence services, to create discord and hatred against Muslims and to give a very wrong message about a religion preaching love and compassion for humanity.

The marchers of Quds day were mostly Shias supporting the cause of Palestinains who are mostly Sunnis. The march was a demonstration of unity and fraternity of all humanity against oppression and war. Muslims and all believers in righteousness and peace marched today to demonstrate their solidarity against oppression.


A group of researchers have done some valuable work to expose the extent and dimensions of the genocide in Gaza. It is notable that while the recent condemnation of the Gaza massacre in 2014 as genocide by the Human Rights Commission is a valuable action it is only the begining of a process which could shed light on this calamity.

CSI: Gaza - Forensic Architects Map Devastation in Gaza to Show Human Rights Violations

Friday, June 26, 2015

Peacemaking in Oslo

Iran and Norway decided to work together in the field of the environment since 1999. The Norwegian Minster of Environment repaid my visit in 2001 and we signed minutes of the meeting to work together in different areas. Last week I was invited to attend the Oslo Forum, entitled this year: Peacemaking in in times of global disorder. There were many sessions dealing with crisis situations in different regions.Peacemaking is quite valuable when we attempt to understand the root causes, to take effective prevention measures and to transform conflicts into opportunities for develoment and peace.We also had many bilateral meetings as well.

 I spoke at a session devoted to Iran this morning and made note of the fact that peacemaking is an example of enjoing what is good and forbidding what is evil, which is a basic precept of Islamic ethics and also prescribed by Abrahamic religions. I spoke about the internal policies of Dr. Rouhani in different areas including the environment and also referred to the various international overtures we have had in promoting diplomatic relations with our neighbors but also in engaging for a just settlement in the Nuclear talks with the 5+ 1. I took questions from the audience some of which were quite challenging.
I also met with the Minister of Environment of Norway, and the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs in the Parliament. We had a meeting with the Prime Minister and the Minister of Foreign Affairs. We disscussed many issues including environmental cooperation but also regional issues and ways to confront the rise of extremism. Norwegian politicans were very concerned about the rising insecurity in many regions but also the spread of DAESH.
I hope this visit would help to promote more understanding between our two nations.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Iraqi President in Tehran

Fouad Massoum the President of Iraq visited Iran last week accompanied by Ministers of Trade and Environment. In addition to the significant  political implications of this visit, in which Iran reiterated its will to stand alongside the people  and government of Iraq against terror and DAESH, this visit also had important environmental dimensions.
For the first time high level bilateral talks included environmental cooperation and the final communique delivered at the end of this visit clearly stated the will of both countries to improve the state of the environment. During bilateral talks we had we decided to work together for exchange of information, training of Iraqi experts and joint research. Areas included protection of wetlands , prevention of desertification and dust storms and creating transboundary peace parks on the border. 
We have provided technical and training assistance on environmental issues to Iraqi brothers before and we decided to continue. While it is well understood that peace and security are the prerequisite for any improvement of environmental conditions, both Presidents stressed that  Iran will continue to play an instrumental role in confronting terror and insecurity in Iraq along with the Iraqi people. 

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Restoration of Anzali Wetland ,Caspian Sea

The five littoral states of the Caspian Sea are bound by only one modern international legal instrument,ie the Tehran Convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment. This convention which was signed in 2004 in Tehran provides mechanisms for cooperation to protect biodiversity, coastal zone management, waste and pollution control. 

Last week President Rouhani visited Gilan Province on the coast of the Caspian Sea. During this visit I delivered a report on the Anzali Wetland on the coastal zones of the sea.The wetland  which extends over 19000 hectares and plays an important role in the ecosystem and livelihoods of millions has faced many challenges during recent decades.  The government of Dr. Rouhani has laid much emphasis on the restoration programs for this wetland particularly in conjunction and support of the Government of Japan. In my report I noted that the restoration plan for Anzali is now prepared and will be underway this year. Prevention of soil erosion in the larger water basin including protection of forests, waste management,  sewerage treatment and sustainable agriculture practices are all very important. Anzali and the Gilan province is one of the most beautiful natural attractions of the world. The President emphasised on the importance of protecting the wetland and promoting environmental standards in Gilan.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Clean Air for Iranian Cities

The government of Dr. Rouhani has launched a major campaign for better air quality for our large cities. The program adopted last year by the cabinet undertakes several dimensions and cuts across many different sectors.The DOE has undertaken the management of this mega project in national dimensions. The improvement of fuel quality despite continuing sanctions in these areas resulted in the distribution of euro 4 quality petroleum and diesel in many areas leading to a decrease in aromatic and sulfur content. The automotive industry also began implementing euro4 standards under our continuous inspection processes. Power plants were controlled in terms of the heavy fuels they were accustomed to using before. 300000 obsolete cars were outphased for recycling and replaced by new cars under a  new incentive promoted by the government. All these measures and many more led to a gradual but significant improvement of air quality in our mega cities. Tehran had 44 days of better air quality as comparedto the previous year. This indicates we are on a correct track but that we also need to continue and ensure the efficient implementation of this vital project. After Nowrooz we have had very clean air in Tehran and many cities here are some pictures I have taken from Tehran yesterday.

International Environmental Award in Tehran

The fourteenth round of the Dr.Taghi Ebtekar Award was held a few days ago in Tehran. The Center for Peace and Environment as an NGO, convenes this ceremony on an annual basis to appreciate the efforts of researchers and activists in the field of the environment. The managing board decided this year, to award an international figure who has a lifetime achievement for the environment, in addition to the national awardees. Candidates were all selected after a public announcement from among those who applied for the prize, by a jury chosen from amog prominent scholars and activists.The 2015 international prize was awarded to Dr. Klaus Topfer, the former German Minister of Environment and former head of UNEP for 8 years. He championed the cause of the environment at the global level andsucceeded  in taking the issue to the highest levels of the international agenda. He now heads the Institute for Advanced Sustainabiliy Studies in Potsdam. Dr. Topfer who arrived in Tehran for the award ceremony spoke on the importance of cross cultural dialogues for the protection of the environment. He also pointed to the importance of climate change effects in coutries like Iran and stressed on the need for 
a serious collective effort to change current lifestyles and consumption patterns at the global level. He thanked the CPE for the award and hoped that collaboration on matters of joint interest for Iran would continue. Dr. Topfer visited Lake Urumia next day and met with the teams involved in educating and training local farmers for more sustainable agricultural practices.