Tag Archives: Iran

‘The Imprisonment of Jafar Panahi’

‘The Imprisonment of Jafar Panahi’ by Tariq Ali for The London Review Blog, March 18, 2010

It’s one of those ironies of history: a by-product of the clerical revolution in Iran was the emergence of a new wave of Iranian cinema. Kiarostami became the most celebrated auteur in the west, but he was part of a much larger creative and critical community. They view each other’s work at rough-cut stage, they comment on scripts, they suggest actors: there is a strong sense of solidarity. The cinematic language is varied, the interior destiny of each filmmaker is different, but even the self-contained Makhmalbaf family benefits from being part of a larger group. Watching their work one can see the influences that stretch from Rossellini, Fellini and Godard to Kurosawa, Ray and Hou Hsia-hsien.

I’ve always regarded one of this group, Jafar Panahi, as the country’s most fearless filmmaker. The Circle revolved round the oppression of women and the religious police. Offside revealed the Iranian passion for football and the absurdity of denying women the right to watch it in the stadium (Panahi’s daughter is a football fanatic). Crimson Gold is a neo-realist masterpiece, where fragments of reality are combined to reveal an astonishing mosaic: the raw greed of the moneyed elite. The class structure in Iran is rarely mentioned and Panahi’s film (scripted by Kiarostami) was popular inside the country and DVDs circulate even in the villages.

Over two weeks ago, Iranian security forces raided his house and arrested him together with his wife and daughter. The latter were released after 48 hours, but Panahi is still in prison. read more

Iraq, and next Iran?

Tariq Ali discusses the Iraq War, and the prospects of an Iran War, with Progressive Magazine editor Matthew Rothschild, October 29, 2007

Listen to the interview

‘Withdrawal the solution to the mess’

‘Withdrawal the solution to the mess’, and interview with Tariq Ali by Inter Press Service posted at Asia Times, September 18, 2007

Inter Press Service: Who, according to you, is the main beneficiary of the US-led “war on terror”?

Tariq Ali: Undoubtedly Iran. But then the Americans could not have occupied Afghanistan and Iraq and without Iran’s support. This is what no one likes talking about. Had the Iranians said, if you take Iraq we will fight you, the occupation probably would not have taken place. But the Iranians, who regarded the Taliban and Saddam Hussein as enemies, kept silent.

The Americans thought, because the Iranians supported them before they went in, things would be fine. But the Iranians were opportunists. They had their own agenda and defended their own state interests—just as the US defends its interests. These interests are now clashing, and so the US is threatening Iran.

IPS: Do you think that the US will now launch a war against Iran?

TA: I do not believe that the US can launch a new war on Iran because they haven’t the troops. Second, if they do that they will be fighting the Iranians on three fronts – Iraq, Afghanistan and in Iran itself. So I think it is very unlikely that a war against Iran will happen. read more


Rocket-Rattling Against Tehran

‘This high-octane rocket-rattling against Tehran is unlikely to succeed’ by Tariq Ali for The Guardian, May 3, 2006

Ringed by nuclear states, Iran’s atomic programme is scarcely unreasonable. So why has Washington manufactured this crisis?

Till now, what has prevented the crisis in Iraq from becoming a total debacle for the United States has been the open collaboration of the Iranian clerics. Iranian foreign policy—fragmentary and opportunist—has always been determined by the needs and interests of the clerical state rather than any principled anti-imperialist strategy. In the past, this has led to a de facto collaboration with Washington in Afghanistan and Iraq. During the Iran-Iraq war, the clerics had no hesitation in buying arms from the Israeli regime to fight Iraq, then backed by Britain and the US. In the wake of the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq—hoping, no doubt, that clearing the path for the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and Mullah Omar might have won them a respite—the regime took a tougher stance on the nuclear question.

The Bush administration appears to be psyching itself up for a safe strike against Iran either by itself or via the Israelis, whose new leaders have referred to the Iranian president as a psychopath and a new Hitler. Why has Washington manufactured this crisis? read more

‘Mid-Point in the Middle East?’

‘Mid-Point in the Middle East?’ by Tariq Ali for New Left Review, Mar-Apr 2006

Looking down on the world from the imperial grandeur of the Oval Office in the fall of 2001, the Cheney–Bush team was confident of its ability to utilize the September events to remodel the world. The Pentagon’s Vice Admiral Cebrowski summed up the linkage of capitalism to war: ‘the dangers against which US forces must be arrayed derive precisely from countries and regions that are “disconnected” from the prevailing trends of globalization’. Five years later, what is the balance sheet?

On the credit side, Russia, China and India remain subdued, along with Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia. Here, despite the attempts of Western political science departments to cover the instrumentalist twists of US policy with fig-leaf conceptualizations—‘limited democracies’, ‘tutelary democracies’, ‘illiberal democracies’, ‘inclusionary autocracies’, ‘illiberal autocracies’—the reality is that acceptance of Washington Consensus norms is the principal criterion for gaining imperial approval. In Western Europe, after a few flutters on Iraq, the EU is firmly back on side. Chirac now sounds more belligerent than Bush on the Middle East, and the German elite is desperate to appease Washington. On the debit side, the Caracas effect is spreading. Cuba’s long isolation has been broken, the Bolivian oligarchy defeated in La Paz and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela has assumed a central role in mobilizing popular anti-neoliberal movements in virtually every Latin American country. read more

From the archive

  • Tariq Ali: Hugo Chávez and Me

    March 7, 2013

    Tariq Ali for the Guardian, March 6th 2013

    Once I asked whether he preferred enemies who hated him because they knew what he was doing or those who frothed and foamed out of ignorance. He laughed. The former was preferable, he explained, because they made him feel that he was on the right track. Hugo Chávez’s death did not come as a surprise, but that does not make it easier to accept. We have lost one of the political giants of the post-communist era. Venezuela, its elites mired in corruption on a huge scale, had been considered a secure outpost of Washington and, at the other extreme, the Socialist International. Few thought of the country before his victories. After 1999, every major media outlet of the west felt obliged to send a correspondent. Since they all said the same thing  …

  • Tariq Ali interviewed by Kashif Ahmed about The Islam Quintet

    February 8, 2012

    In conversation with Kashif Ahmed, Tariq Ali discusses the themes and characters of his set of novels The Islam Quintet. In a wide-ranging interview, Ali talks about why he chose to start writing fiction, and its relation to his opinions on Middle Eastern sovereignty, attacks on Islam, the way to defend Islamic culture, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Along the way he touches on his experiences of the left in the ‘60s and now, and what kind of political action is most effective today.

  • Feeling Good

    August 9, 2013

    Mercifully, I was in South India for two events that showed the English at their worst: a long-delayed sporting triumph and the arrival of George Alexander Louis. So I missed the response to Andy Murray’s win at Wimbledon and the eruption that greeted the birth of yet another royal. Before these there was the ‘multicultural triumph’ of the Olympics, followed recently by the ‘illegal immigrant’ buses and non-white citizens being stopped at railway stations. Even the UKIP leader denounced this as not being ‘the British way’.

    ‘Feel-good’ moments never last long; underneath the decay continues. Amazon is permitted to destroy the bookshops while Google, Yahoo et al hand over encrypted lists of their users to the intelligence services. Much simpler than paying taxes. The assault on education; the continuing privatisation of the NHS; the never-ending propaganda directed against benefit claimants; the  …