1 December 2022News

US campaigners call for end to 'brutal' embargo

US peace group CODEPINK is calling on the US to respond to the wave of women-led protests in Iran by lifting ‘the brutal sanctions that harm millions of Iranian women every day’.

At least 448 people have been killed by Iranian security forces during the nationwide protests which began with the death of Mahsa Amini in mid-September, the NGO Iran Human Rights reported on 29 November.

In late September, Palestinian-Indian-American journalist Samaa Khullar wrote in Salon…

8 December 2020Feature

Censoring the destruction of Iran Air Flight 655

Even after an Iranian air defence unit mistakenly shot down Ukraine International Airlines Flight PS752 on 8 January, killing 176 passengers and crew, the British press failed to remind readers of a relevant incident involving Iran.

On 5 January, Ali Larijani, speaker of the Iranian parliament, compared the US assassination of Iranian general Qassem Suleimani to the CIA-organised coup of 1953 that overthrew parliamentary democracy in Iran, and to the shooting down of an Iranian…

4 December 2020News

Milan Rai surveys the UK media's coverage of the assassination of Qassem Suleimani

A week after the killing of Qassem Suleimani and his nine companions on 3 January, Simon Jenkins was the first person in the mainstream British print media to refer to a US ‘empire’ in relation to the Middle East.

After referring to ‘ceaseless wars of western aggression’ in recent decades, Jenkins wrote: ‘As empires crumble, stuff happens’. He expressed the hope that the US might be about to withdraw from Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. (‘Trump’s rant against Iran is the howl of a dying…

19 November 2020Feature

Pre-war art by Emily Johns

On 3 July 1988, Iran Air Flight 655, a commercial flight inside a commercial air corridor, was shot down by one of the US navy’s most technologically-advanced cruisers, the USS Vincennes. All 290 passengers and crew aboard were killed, including 66 children. Few of the bodies recovered were complete. The US government never admitted wrongdoing and never apologised for the destruction of Flight 655.

This image is from Drawing Paradise on the ‘Axis of Evil’ an exhibition by…

19 October 2020Blog

A review of Black Wave: Saudi Arabia, Iran and the Rivalry that Unravelled the Middle East by Kim Ghattas (Wildfire, 2020; 400pp; £10.99)

I do find it shocking that Kim Ghattas uses the word ‘black’ in such a negative way in the title of her new book about the Middle East.

Ghattas, a former BBC journalist, describes the upsurge of fundamentalism in the region since 1979 as a Black Wave. She takes this phrase from Egyptian film-maker, Youssef Chahine.

For me, the title seems to reinforce the idea of blackness as evil and anti-human – which is how Ghattas, a mainstream Western liberal, sees Islamic…

28 September 2020Feature

Before the US murdered him, it formed an alliance with the Iranian general – twice

Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman, who developed the Propaganda Model for understanding the western mass media, once explained: ‘That a careful reader looking for a fact can sometimes find it, with diligence and a skeptical eye, tells us nothing about whether that fact received the attention and context it deserved, whether it was intelligible to most readers, or whether it was effectively distorted or suppressed.’

In the case of Iranian general Qassem Suleimani, there were a lot of…

28 September 2020News

The Baghdad airport massacre is part of a pattern of US assassinations

On 3 January, a US drone strike destroyed two vehicles driving through Baghdad airport, killing 10 men, including Iranian general Qassem Suleimani and a senior Iraqi military official, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.

US commentator Noam Chomsky described the Suleimani assassination to the Hindustan Times as ‘at least international terrorism, arguably worse.’

As well being aggression against the territory of Iraq, the assassination was the latest in a long line of acts of…

1 August 2019Comment

How the US anti-war movement has helped to restrain Donald Trump

It was the strength of the US anti-war movement that helped us to avoid US military action against Iran on 20 June.

A lot has happened since Iran shot down a US surveillance drone that day (including the seizure of an Iranian tanker by British warships), but it's worth remembering that US president Donald Trump called off a retaliatory air strike that he had approved hours earlier.

Various reasons have been given for Trump's U-turn.

Journalist Alex Ward reported on Vox…

1 June 2019Feature

Iran guilty of "crime" of successful defiance

The threat of a US attack on Iran is all too real. Led by US national security advisor John Bolton, the Trump administration is spinning tales of Iranian misdeeds. It is easy to concoct pretexts for aggression. History provides many examples.

The assault against Iran is one element of the international programme of flaunting overwhelming US power to put an end to ‘successful defiance’ of the master of the globe: the primary reason for the US torture of Cuba for 60 years.


1 August 2015Feature

PN considers broadsheet editorial reactions to July’s nuclear deal

Iran Airbus (detail) by Emily Johns

The British broadsheets varied in their scepticism about July’s US-led nuclear agreement with Iran – from the Financial Times and the Guardian (who respectively welcomed ‘a breakthrough’ and ‘a triumph’ for diplomacy’) through to the Times, which warned of ‘A Reckless Gamble’.

In another demonstration of the accuracy of Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman’s Propaganda Model of the mainstream media, the ‘quality…

1 August 2015Feature

Iranian offers which have been erased from history

Reprocessing facility at Natanz, Iran. Sketch: Emily Johns

The real story of the Iran nuclear deal is that, after over a decade of denial, the United States finally gave up on its attempt to stop Iran enriching uranium. This isn’t how the mainstream media in the Global North portrayed the agreement, but it’s the heart of the matter.

We can see this clearly if we look back at the history of Iranian offers and US rejections over the last 13 years. The US could have had a…

1 October 2013Cartoon

9 March 2013Comment

International Women’s Day has been celebrated in different ways in Iran. Last year, it was reported that meetings were held in people’s houses, and that it was proposed as a day of ‘solidarity and self-criticism’. The year before, there were street demonstrations in Tehran – and masked, baton-waving women police. In 2010, the Iranian government marked the day by banning the country’s greatest living poet, Simin Behbahani, from travelling to France where she had been invited by the mayor of…

9 March 2013Comment

A garden of paradise, Na’in Drawing: Emily Johns

9 March 2013Feature

Part two

Exuberant schoolgirl on a trip to the ancient remains of Persepolis Photo: Emily Johns

In Shiraz, on Day Four, while we were waiting for our minibus to show up to take us to lunch, a man walked by carrying an old rifle. I’m not an expert on guns, but it looked really old, perhaps even a First World War-type Lee-Enfield. (Now that I’m home, I find that these are still used all round the world.) The man carrying the rifle was dressed in civilian clothes, and walked along the road…