Iran US Nuke Deal – Why Are Iranians Smiling So Much?

In the week when the US normalised relations with two of its historic foes – Cuba and Iran, the global media gave wall-to-wall coverage to the deal between the US and Iran, describing it as a historic deal that potentially changes the global political landscape. The accord was announced on Tuesday 14 July by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and the European Union’s Policy Chief Federica Mogherini in a joint statement in the Austrian capital. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif called the deal a “win-win” solution to end “an unnecessary crisis and open new horizons for dealing with serious problems that affect our international community. I believe this is a historic moment.” US President Barak Obama, in a White House briefing described the deal as: “Today after two years of negotiation the United States together with the international community has achieved something that decades of animosity has not: a comprehensive long-term deal with Iran that will prevent it from obtaining a nuclear weapon.”

The details of the deal show Iran capitulated to every US demand and in effect abandoned its nuclear programme. Under the terms of the deal, Tehran agreed to remove two-thirds of its centrifuges, reduce its stockpile of enriched uranium to a fraction of what would be needed to make a bomb and halt the use of advanced centrifuges for 10 years. Iran also promised not to build a new heavy water reactor for 15 years and will modify the core of its heavy-water plutonium reactor at Arak, while its spent fuel — a key component of a potential bomb — will be shipped outside of the country. On top of this Iran would allow UN inspectors round-the-clock access to nuclear sites.

The US President confirmed the series of sanctions would be gradually lifted — providing Tehran with access to between $100 billion and $150 billion in frozen funds — only after Iran demonstrates it is abiding by its commitments under the agreement and would be reimposed if Iran was caught cheating. He also reiterated that Washington reserved the right to use force to prevent Iran from obtaining a bomb. The US Congress now has 60 days in which to consider the deal, though Obama said he would veto any attempt to block it.

After over a decade of negotiations and after developing a nuclear programme, Iran submitted itself to US terms, not even defending any aspect of its nuclear programme. Despite this agreement taking so long which included lots of extensions, the deal is really the culmination of more than a decade of careful diplomacy, with much of it behind the scenes. This nuclear deal was just one part of US-Iran normalization of relations.

Throughout both the 20th and 21st century Iran and US have maintained ties despite periods of animosity. The Shah was America’s man in the Middle East and whilst Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini considered the US the devil, Iran always sold oil to the US and never fully cut ties. After the Grand Ayatollah’s death and the emergence of Ali Khamenei, on all the key issues be it Saddam Hussain, the Iraq invasion and the Afghan invasion both the US and Iran worked closely together. But it was the invasion of Iraq which began in 2003 which bled the US dry that the US desperately needed Iran.

When the Arab Spring reached Syria, the US was seriously worried about developments in the Middle East. It was here the US needed Iran to play a central role in extricating the US and saving it from being defeated. Iran responded by making all its proxies join in the US constructed political system in Iraq. This then allowed US forces to concentrate on the insurgency in central Iraq. Sayyid Ali as-Hussayni al-Sistani brought Sadr, Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI) and Da’wah factions together to form the United Iraqi Alliance (UIA) that gained a large number of parliamentary seats in the 2005 elections. The group similarly won substantial seats in the 2010 parliamentary elections. Without Iran, the US would never have resolved the quagmire of Iraq. The US and Iran are so close in Iraq that when ISIS overran the Iraqi government in the Anbar province Iranian forces along with Shi’ah militia coordinated air attacks with Iranian ground attacks. But it is in Syria where US-Iranian interests directly converge, both see the al-Assad regime as the future of the country despite the public outcry for his removal. The US has had no problem with Iran propping up Bashar al-Assad as both are in agreement on this. In fact the US and Iran have been in agreement on much of the Middle East for a very long time despite their public rhetoric to the contrary.

Since 1979 Iran gained much support from the global Ummah for its stance against the US and the Jewish entity. Its support for Hezbullah in Lebanon and Hamas in Palestine gained it much notoriety when the groups took on the Jewish entity in many wars and made her bleed. But Iran has abandoned the Ummah for its national interests and now sees working with the US as the best way for it to maintain its influence in the region. This has been the dream of many clerics in Iran for decades, despite the constant rhetoric from Tehran. As a regional power, with a guerrilla force in the shape of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Iran is a power that both Saudi Arabia and Israel fear. Iran has every capability to bleed the US dry in the Middle East, but rather then turning the screws against the occupying forces in the region, Iran’s leaders decided to look the other way for strategic national interests. The Jewish entity’s criticism of the deal centers around it being America’s instrument in the Middle East, but now the US has her Persian ally as her main instrument in the Middle East.

Here is a look at what is behind this historic deal:
1. Following the agreement the US president immediately delivered a speech in front of the White House allotted to this agreement, he said, “We have reached a historic understanding with Iran over its nuclear program, it would, if carried out prevent Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons.” He said, “We have reached a deal to stop the progress of Iran’s nuclear program” and added that “Tehran has fulfilled their duties and opened the way for inspection.” He described the deal “as good and that it meets our core objectives” and said, “Iran accepted an unprecedented type of inspection system and the door to Iran’s enrichment of uranium will be closed, and there will be reduction of the stock of enriched uranium and centrifuge by two thirds.” He also said, “We will not allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon ever, and in return we will gradually reduce the sanctions that we had imposed and that imposed by the Security Council,” and noted that “the negotiations will continue until June to agree on the exact details.” Also stressed that “the nuclear inspectors will have unprecedented influence on Iran’s nuclear facilities.” He said, “For the Iranian people, we are ready to work for the common interests” (American Radio Sawa 02/04/2015)… These statements of the US president shows how keen is the US administration to reach this agreement, and this agreement was in the interest of America, it achieved its objective, and there is no reason for the others to object. He mentioned the position of those who opposed the agreement of the Republicans in Congress and the prime minister of the Jewish entity, Netanyahu. Obama said that he wants to work with Iran under the common interest, i.e. to use Iran to achieve the American projects in the region, he does not want Iran to remain busy with the threats of the Jewish entity, and incitements of the European trio: Britain, France, and Germany, and raising new problems for Iran, allowing it to remain living under the threat of sanctions.
2. Iran has agreed to reduce its stockpile of low-enrichment uranium (LEU) from 10 thousand kilograms to 300 kilograms at a rate of 3.67% for 15 years, and pledged not to build any new nuclear facilities for the enrichment of uranium for 15 years. It has agreed to reduce the centrifuges by two-thirds bringing it down from the current 19,000 to 6104 under the agreement, with only 5,060 allowed to enrich uranium over the next 10 years. Natanz Facility will be the only facility used for the enrichment of uranium in Iran with decreased amounts. Iran will not enrich uranium at the Fordow Facility for 15 years, instead it will be utilized for nuclear and physics research. Iran is committed to a plan to enrichment and research which it will provide to the International Atomic Energy Agency to ensure that it will prevent it from developing a nuclear bomb for 10 years. The agreement grants the right to the international observers to monitor the uranium mines and sites of yellow cake manufacturing for 25 years, they also have the right to continuous monitoring of the centrifuges and the stores for 20 years with the freezing of the centrifuges manufacturing.” (Middle East 03/04/2015). Iranian President Hassan Rohani said, “Iran will fulfill all the obligations they have undertaken, provided that the other party fulfills its commitments.” (World Iranian page 3/4/2015). Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said, “The lifting of sanctions will be a fundamental step forward. We have stopped following an undesirable path by everyone. Not desirable for the process of nuclear non-proliferation or any other party.” This goes to show that Iran had agreed to halt its activities of increasing uranium enrichment and accepted to bring it down to a minimum, so it cannot produce a nuclear weapon. It also reduced the number of centrifuges to one-third, and it will remain under international control for 25 years. This will be binding throughout this period as stated by its president. What matters to Iran is the lifting of its sanctions, Javad Zarif said, “The sanctions imposed on Iran will end when the procedures that have been agreed upon with the major powers are implemented.”
3. As for the rest of the P5+1 countries it was clear that their role is marginal, the actual negotiations were often taking place between America and Iran only, publicly and secret, and the role of the remaining parties is closer to spectators than that of a role player. Indications show that America has guaranteed its agreement with Iran, and what was left was its production process in stages the rest of the P5+1 states were on the lookout, if they see something they do not like they are left to sulk, leave to calm down and then return to sign or delegate someone to do so on their behalf! This was evident in the positions of ministers of these countries; Lavrov said during a visit to Tajikistan that “the situation is unusual, unprecedented…” and noted that “the significance of the current stage lies in the formulation of a political framework agreement and it has become clear in all its components.” The Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Alexander Ukashević said, “Russia does not see an urgent need for the return of its Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to Lausanne, but what the participants are doing now in the negotiations is to check the initial agreements.”
What appears from the Russians’ statements that the matter was previously planned and ready, what only remains is to sign it, this is why they did not see the need for the Foreign Minister to go back to sign. He was the one who stated that the matter was unusual, referring to US Secretary of State, who met with the Iranians the most, headed by their Minister of Foreign Affairs Javad Zarif, for weeks alone, and he intensified the meetings non-stop in the last week of 26/3/2015 till the time for signing at the end of last month. He called the foreign ministers from the rest of the group’s member states to participate in the signing! But before signing day, they left the meeting when they found everything was arranged, and that the United States insists on signing the agreement as is. The French foreign minister left angrily through the back door, and the German foreign minister was about to travel to the Baltic Republics, and the Russians, as mentioned above, did not return, and left his deputy there. The Chinese minister was not concerned with the issue, and the coolness of the British minister overwhelmed, so he did not show his outrage, nor satisfaction, but was waiting for what will happen in the usual English brilliance. But everyone eventually returned to the signing ceremony session, but to save face they began debating what was prepared by America, and they extended the debate to two days, and then signed the agreement without being able to change anything of significance in it.
Russia’s Foreign Minister has said that the agreement between America and Iran was agreed prior to today, signing it now is only a political move, therefore, he did not see the need for his attendance in Lausanne, his deputy signed instead. Thus, the main role in the agreement was between America and Iran.
4. The Republicans who control Congress showed their dissatisfaction with the agreement for partisan opposition reasons and electoral purposes to come. The deal was signed by the Obama administration, despite their opposition so that this administration achieves successes in foreign policy and to be able to use Iran in the implementation of projects and plans in the region. Chairman of the US House of Representatives John Boehner said, “The final agreement standards represent a disturbing difference in comparison with the basic goals set by the White House,” and he said, “The Congress must have the right to fully consider the details of any agreement before sanctions are lifted. The Foreign Affairs Committee in Congress is scheduled to vote on the 14th of this month on a proposal that imposes on Obama’s administration to present the agreement to the Council and then vote on it. However, the Obama administration rejects that and says that the conclusion of such an agreement is part of the powers of the executive authority exclusively and the congressional interference in the matter will create a precedent.
5. As for the position of the Zionist entity, Netanyahu said, “The framework agreement on Iran’s nuclear program threatens the survival of Israel.” knowing that before the announcement of a deal in Lausanne he called for any agreement should oblige a “significant reduction in the nuclear capacity of Iran” and he said “the best agreement would be the one that reduces the nuclear infrastructure. The best agreement will link the lifting of sanctions imposed to Tehran’s nuclear program by changing Iranian behavior”, all of this was materialized in the Lausanne agreement. The extortionate position of Netanyahu is to get more aid and US pledges to protect the Zionist entity, and to confirm his previous position he expressed on this issue for the purposes of the election which he won, and to strengthen his relationship with the Republicans coming to power, as he perceives, in the upcoming US presidential election in 2016. Netanyahu went to America to deliver a speech in Congress at the invitation of the Republicans and spoke to them about the dangers of the agreement with Iran. He knows that the agreement undermines Iran’s capabilities to produce nuclear weapons and knows that Iran is playing a role in the region decreed to them; Iran protects the Syrian regime, which ensures its security on the Golan Heights, and it will occupy the area in internal wars and prevent the unity of the Muslims under one central leadership.
As for Iran, it has waived its programs to increase uranium enrichment and accepted to bring it down to a minimum, so that it cannot produce a nuclear weapon. The number of centrifuges has been reduced to one-third. And will remain under international control for 25 years. It will be committed to it for all the agreed time, this was stated by its president.
What matters to Iran is the lifting of the sanctions and engagement in the region to play its role under the pretext of common interests and achieve a regional supremacy for itself by joining hands with western powers under the supreme leadership of the state which was once dubbed by Iranian clerics as Shaitan-e-Buzurg. The clerics have placed the country´s economic issues before its strategic goals. While many may choose to criticize the Ayatollahs for the treaty, common Iranians will feel less curious since the Ayatollahs had never faltered in delivering fatwas (religious edicts) against the building of nuclear weapons, seen by the religious establishment as unIslamic and against the Holy Law (Shareeah). Iranian clerics can now smile all the way back claiming they got something really big from the international community by giving up what they never wanted (nukes) in the first place anyway!

Why Iran seeks constructive engagement, By Hassan Rouhani

Below is the text of the OpEd written by president Hassan Rouhani of Islamic Republic of Iran.

Three months ago, my platform of “prudence and hope” gained a broad, popular mandate. Iranians embraced my approach to domestic and international affairs because they saw it as long overdue. I’m committed to fulfilling my promises to my people, including my pledge to engage in constructive interaction with the world.

The world has changed. International politics is no longer a zero-sum game but a multi-dimensional arena where cooperation and competition often occur simultaneously. Gone is the age of blood feuds. World leaders are expected to lead in turning threats into opportunities.

The international community faces many challenges in this new world — terrorism, extremism, foreign military interference, drug trafficking, cybercrime and cultural encroachment — all within a framework that has emphasized hard power and the use of brute force.

We must pay attention to the complexities of the issues at hand to solve them. Enter my definition of constructive engagement. In a world where global politics is no longer a zero-sum game, it is — or should be — counterintuitive to pursue one’s interests without considering the interests of others. A constructive approach to diplomacy doesn’t mean relinquishing one’s rights. It means engaging with one’s counterparts, on the basis of equal footing and mutual respect, to address shared concerns and achieve shared objectives. In other words, win-win outcomes are not just favorable but also achievable. A zero-sum, Cold War mentality leads to everyone’s loss.

Sadly, unilateralism often continues to overshadow constructive approaches. Security is pursued at the expense of the insecurity of others, with disastrous consequences. More than a decade and two wars after 9/11, al-Qaeda and other militant extremists continue to wreak havoc. Syria, a jewel of civilization, has become the scene of heartbreaking violence, including chemical weapons attacks, which we strongly condemn. In Iraq, 10 years after the American-led invasion, dozens still lose their lives to violence every day. Afghanistan endures similar, endemic bloodshed.

The unilateral approach, which glorifies brute force and breeds violence, is clearly incapable of solving issues we all face, such as terrorism and extremism. I say all because nobody is immune to extremist-fueled violence, even though it might rage thousands of miles away. Americans woke up to this reality 12 years ago.

My approach to foreign policy seeks to resolve these issues by addressing their underlying causes. We must work together to end the unhealthy rivalries and interferences that fuel violence and drive us apart. We must also pay attention to the issue of identity as a key driver of tension in, and beyond, the Middle East.

At their core, the vicious battles in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria are over the nature of those countries’ identities and their consequent roles in our region and the world. The centrality of identity extends to the case of our peaceful nuclear energy program. To us, mastering the atomic fuel cycle and generating nuclear power is as much about diversifying our energy resources as it is about who Iranians are as a nation, our demand for dignity and respect and our consequent place in the world. Without comprehending the role of identity, many issues we all face will remain unresolved.

I am committed to confronting our common challenges via a two-pronged approach.

First, we must join hands to constructively work toward national dialogue, whether in Syria or Bahrain. We must create an atmosphere where peoples of the region can decide their own fates. As part of this, I announce my government’s readiness to help facilitate dialogue between the Syrian government and the opposition.

Second, we must address the broader, overarching injustices and rivalries that fuel violence and tensions. A key aspect of my commitment to constructive interaction entails a sincere effort to engage with neighbors and other nations to identify and secure win-win solutions.

We and our international counterparts have spent a lot of time — perhaps too much time — discussing what we don’t want rather than what we do want. This is not unique to Iran’s international relations. In a climate where much of foreign policy is a direct function of domestic politics, focusing on what one doesn’t want is an easy way out of difficult conundrums for many world leaders. Expressing what one does want requires more courage.

After 10 years of back-and-forth, what all sides don’t want in relation to our nuclear file is clear. The same dynamic is evident in the rival approaches to Syria.

This approach can be useful for efforts to prevent cold conflicts from turning hot. But to move beyond impasses, whether in relation to Syria, my country’s nuclear program or its relations with the United States, we need to aim higher. Rather than focusing on how to prevent things from getting worse, we need to think — and talk — about how to make things better. To do that, we all need to muster the courage to start conveying what we want — clearly, concisely and sincerely — and to back it up with the political will to take necessary action. This is the essence of my approach to constructive interaction.

As I depart for New York for the opening of the U.N. General Assembly, I urge my counterparts to seize the opportunity presented by Iran’s recent election. I urge them to make the most of the mandate for prudent engagement that my people have given me and to respond genuinely to my government’s efforts to engage in constructive dialogue. Most of all, I urge them to look beyond the pines and be brave enough to tell me what they see — if not for their national interests, then for the sake of their legacies, and our children and future generations.

7th Century Warrior of Karbala-Protected by Her Own

 

The 7th Century Heroine of Karbala-Protected by Her Own
Franklin Lamb
The Sayyeda Zeinab Shrine Damascus

Sayyeda Zeinab ShrineIt is well known in this region that powerful foreign and domestic forces in nearly every country, but particularly Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, are increasingly acting, for purely political purposes, to ignite a bloody internecine conflict within Islam. Indeed, the 3/17/13 attacks targeting four Sunni sheikhs in Beirut that led to immediate road blockings in Beirut, Sidon and the Bekaa Valley is a reminder of the vulnerability of Lebanon’s own delicate sectarian balance to potential chaos.

The seemingly rapid escalation of Shia-Sunni sectarian strife pulsating back and forth across Syria and in and out of Iraq and Lebanon appear to some analysts to be unstoppable.  This week the UN Security Council expressed alarm that rising sectarian violence threatened a return to civil war in Lebanon. The sect targeted for destruction, is mainly, but not exclusively, Shia Muslims and a potential conflagration among a few Muslim sects is smoldering from Yemen to Libya to Pakistan and in more than a dozen countries. Places of worship are being attacked with the hope of creating flight and destruction among so-called kuffar (infidels) and other alleged “enemies of Allah.”

As the violence continues in parts of Syria it is not always clear who exactly is behind, for example, the thefts of antiquities from museums and shops, the carting off of medical equipment from hospitals, the widespread stripping of certain factories in places like Aleppo and moving their assets to Turkey, apparently with little if any objection from Ankara, and the damaging of mainly Christian and Shia places of worship. But there is little doubt that Islamist extremists, are behind many of these crimes.
Against this backdrop of targeting religious institutions and  shrines of minority sects in Syria, it is little wonder that following serious attacks on the Sayedda Zeinab Shrine near the village of Zoa south of Damascus, one as recently as last month, that Shia Muslims and others across the world are deeply concerned about its safety. Three recent attacks on the resting place of Zeinab bint Ali, the granddaughter of the Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) has also led to speculation that certain elements may launch a ‘false flag’ attack to ignite conflict between Sunni and Shia. Al-Qaeda affiliated groups such as Jabhat al Nursa and Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) have pledged to defeat Lebanon’s Hezbollah in the name of Allah.

Tens of thousands of Shia pilgrims and others from around the world visit this Damascus suburb every year, most to pray at the Sayyeda Zeinab shrine. It was also one of the reasons why I wanted to go there.

But trying to get to Sayyeda Zeinab has not been easy these past few months. In fact this observer’s new lucky number may be five.  Because that is the number of times I thought I had a deal with a driver to take me from central Damascus to the Zeinab shrine. But each time, shortly before our scheduled departure, the driver invariably called to tell me his car broke down or he had to attend a family event or that the road had been hit by a mortar and was impassable, or he could not find any benzene. Taxis are understandably a bit spooked in Damascus these days and as with the road to the airport there are sometimes snipers peering around and an occasional IED or two.  Fortunately some fellows from Lebanon who are among those guarding the shrine sent me a message that it was ok to come and I trusted their judgment.  Finally I found a driver and he took me to Fao without problems.  However, he was unwilling to wait for me while I visited the Shrine and he abruptly split, even before I had a change to pay him, leaving me to find another way to return to Damascus.

As this observer exited the Shrine, having performed absolution type prayers for myself and friends in Lebanon and Syria who specifically asked me to, I was approached by a middle-aged woman who turned out to be from Homs.  She had lost her home and her neighborhood was emptied by shelling so she came to the village of Fao which she thought would be safe. But as she told me later she wanted also to be near Zeinab bint Ali, the 7th Century Heroine of Karbala, during these uncertain times.

One resident who lives near the Sayedda Zeinab told this observers that during the most recent attack on the shrine, the bomber detonated an explosives-packed van that he drove into a parking lot about 50 meters from the shrine. The blast shattered the shrine’s windows, knocked down chandeliers ceiling fans and cracked some of its mosaic walls. He added that militiamen at Sayyeda Zeinab were motivated partly by the desire to prevent a repeat of the wholesale sectarian violence that followed the 2006 attack on the Iraq’s Shiite Imam al-Askari Mosque, blamed on Al-Qaeda, which cost thousands of lives, both Sunni and Shia.

The story of Zeinab at Karbala, and her subsequent life, like the passion play of Karbala itself, is history that one never tires of hearing.  I had read about both but when this obviously devout woman who told me her name was Miriam, approached me, assuming I guess, that I was a tourist unfamiliar with this holy place,  which was true, I was pleased to sit with her, to be quiet,  and to listen.

Miriam summarized the Battle of Karbala in October 680, in present day Iraq,  and how it is commemorated during Ashoura (October tenth) by millions across religious divides because of its universal message of resistance to oppression, relentless pursuit of justice and even sacrificing one’s life for the good of the community. The actual battle pitted a grandson of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), Hussein bin Ali, one of two of Zeinab’s brother killed that day, against the caliph of the time in the first of a series of succession crises that shaped the unfortunate historic split between Sunni and Shia Muslims.

I was amazed that like me, and others from various countries and cultures that I have crossed paths with over the past few years in this region, who were also raised in a Christian tradition, that my new friend Miriam, viewed the 7th century suffering of Hussein Ibn Ali and those who were martyred at Karbala, in some ways similar to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ at Calvary, 700 years earlier. We both lite up at the realization that the other exactly understood this connection and the historic resistance ethos that Karbala and Calvary have meant for mankind and the current relevance of both working together for humanity as pillars of the Resistance.

But Miriam shed even more light for this admittedly dim observer by mentioning another woman, in some ways much like Zeinab, who was from Europe.  As a group of chadored Iranian women gathered around us, with a Farsi interpreter relating Miriams words, our group shared a common and rapt spirituality. Miriam told us that during this month of recognizing women’s accomplishments, she was reminded of the similarity between Zeinab bint Ali and La Pucelle d’Orléans, known as Jeanne d’Arc who was falsely accused of heresy and burned alive at the stake for resisting the English occupation of her country.

Miriam explained many parallels, between the “two sisters of Resistance” as she called them even quoting from memory the historic speech of Zeinab in Damascus to Yazid, the killer of her family including her bothers Hussein and Abbas and their dozens of followers and relatives at Karbala in present day Iraq.

On the 11th Muharram, 61 AH, after the battle of Karbala, the caravan of the captives, including Zeinab, were marched through the city of Kufa and Sham. For one year they stayed captives in Damascus prison. Zainab encouraged resistance among her fellow prisoners and fearlessly faced Yazid and recited to him the wrongs he had done. Her address to Yazid ends with a black-clad Zeinab addressing Yazid. “You will not succeed in erasing our memory,” she says.

Miriam explained that Zeinab bint Ali like La Pucelle d’Orelans was devout, frugal and unstintingly generous to the poor, homeless and parentless. Both communicated with Allah and were fierce defenders of justice, the cause for which they both willingly sacrificed themselves. Through her good works Zeinab helped her community to know the principles and practices of Islam.

Concerning Joan, the uncrowned King Charles VII sent her to the siege of Orleans as part of a relief mission. She gained prominence when she overcame the dismissive attitude of veteran commanders and lifted the siege in just nine days. Several additional swift victories, against overwhelming odds led to Charles VII’s coronation at Reims and hastened the departure of the British.  Despite her achievements, Joan was accused of heresy. Joan’s trial record demonstrates her remarkable intellect Miriam explained. The transcript’s most famous exchange is an exercise in subtlety. “Asked if she knew she was in God’s grace, the illiterate farm girl answered: ‘If I am not, May God put me there; and if I am, may God so keep me.'” The question of course was a prosecutorial trap carefully set for Joan. Church doctrine held that no one could be certain of being in God’s grace. If Joan had answered yes, then she would have convicted herself of heresy. As the still preserved trial transcript proves, Joan’s trial was a fraud from beginning to end and she insisted, even when threatened with torture and facing  death by fire, that she was guided by God to liberate her country form occupation.

Miriam told us that “one of the legacies of the sisters Zeinab bint Ali and Joan d’Arc is that every women should realize that she can always make a positive difference for mankind. She can always reach for and achieve the better. Those men alone cannot win independence and prosperity, neither can the women. Together, and under the banner of resistance at Karbala and Calvary and following the examples of Zeinab and Joan d’Arc they can achieve to justice and defeat occupation and hegemony.”

One Lebanese druze pilgrim explained to this observer that Sayedda Zeinab represents all women and all who seek justice in the face of tyranny and that the Sayyeda is “everywoman” meaning that Zeinab does not belong just to the Shia or Muslims but to all people of goodwill.

Zeinab bint Ali continues to rest in peace at the sacred shrine at Foa village southwest of Damascus —her final community.  Repairs at Sayedda Zeinab have been made and the beauty and tranquility the holy site has been fully restored.

No doubt to the relief of untold millions, the Heroine of Karbala is being protected by her own–Muslims from different sects as well as Christians like Miriam among others—for they, and all who are part of the culture of resistance to injustice, are truly among Zeinab’s own. It is right that we should protect her for Zeinab bint Ali, like Karbala, belongs to all of us.

As I was trying to figure out how to get back to Damascus and we said good-bye that Miriam told me she was Christian. She understood me perfectly and gave me a warm knowing smile when I gestured toward the glorious Sayyeda Zeinab resting place, and opined that it seems likely that spiritually, we are both Shia-Christian and Christian-Shia.

Franklin Lamb is doing research in Lebanon and can be reached c/o fplamb@gmail.com

Supreme Leader Meets with Participants of International Conference on Islamic Awakening

You may like or dislike the shiite clerical regime of Iran but you will find it difficult to deny their ability to talk straight about some of the most critical socio-political problems of the region.
Iran and Saudi Arabia are the regional cold war players competing for supremacy in the heartland of Islam. Being shii Iran is viewed with bias and unfairly suspected by many sunni intellectuals. The correct approach would be to assess the matter from Islam’s universal view based on Muslims’ real need, which is freedom, independence and brotherhood.
I am reblogging parts of a speech given by the supreme leader of the Islamic Republic Ayatollah Khamenei at the international conference of Islamic Awakening held in Teheran on 11/12/2012.
I hope my respected readers will be kind enough to make a few comments on it.
Thanks in advance…

14 centuries of Islamic struggle

Ayatollah Khamenei the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution met Tuesday morning with hundreds of university professors, outstanding personalities and thinkers participating in the International Conference of Muslim University Professors and Islamic Awakening. Speaking at the meeting, His Eminence referred to the significance of Islamic Awakening and presented an in-depth analysis of the position of Islam, sharia, the conditions of the people in countries which have carried out a revolution and the dangers they face.

 

The Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution stated that if professors, outstanding personalities and intellectuals want to play a crucial role in helping society achieve happiness and salvation, they should show purity, courage, wisdom and diligence and they should not be greedy. He added: “Islamic Awakening and its influence on the Islamic Ummah is a great event which has penetrated the whole world and which has resulted in a number of revolutions and regime change in certain countries.”

View original post 1,353 more words