New On The NYR Blog
The New York Review blog has two new posts up today, from Haleh Esfandiari, who writes about her tenure in Evin Prison in Tehran, and Ahmed Rashid, who delves into how exactly the U.S convinced Hamid Karzai to hold a run-off election. The Huffington Post has excerpts below.
Iran's Harshest Sentence for an Innocent Scholar, Haleh Esfandiari
For me Iran's sentencing this week of Iranian-American scholar Kian Tajbakhsh to at least twelve years in prison--the harshest sentence so far passed down by the revolutionary court--is particularly fraught. In 2007, he and I were fellow prisoners in Tehran's Evin Prison. He was held in the men's section and I in the women's section of Ward 209, reserved for political prisoners held by Iran's Intelligence Ministry. We had been arrested within a day of each other, and we shared, in separate interrogation rooms, the same interrogators. He began to send me books; thanks to him I was able to escape the confines of my prison cell by reading the novels of Dostoevsky and Graham Greene.
Now, on October 20, Kian has been convicted, on the kind of fantastical charges beloved of Iran's revolutionary courts--everything from plotting a "velvet revolution" in Iran to espionage and undermining the credibility of the Islamic Republic. He was even charged with endangering the security of the state by belonging to a public email list, Gulf2000 (which posts news and commentary on the Middle East), run by Columbia University professor Gary Sick, who is falsely identified in the indictment as a CIA operative. Read More
How They Convinced Karzai, Ahmed Rashid
Everything that could possibly go wrong in Afghanistan has gone wrong over the past two months. The industrial-level rigging and manipulation of the August 20 election--largely by the government of President Hamid Karzai--could have dealt a death blow to international involvement in Afghanistan, as it entered its ninth year. Worse, it occurred just as the Taliban were ramping up their insurgency and Afghans were becoming even more disillusioned with their government than usual. So how did the US and its allies manage to convince Karzai this week to agree to a run-off election?
Last month the Independent Election Commission--an Afghan body appointed by Karzai himself--gave him 54.6 percent of the vote and his main rival, Abdullah Abdullah, only 27.7 percent. But in view of widespread reports of fraud, Abdullah, Afghans, and the entire international community refused to accept this result until a UN appointed complaints body called the Electoral Complaints Commission had done a recount. Read More
Read more at the New York Review of Books Blog.