In Civility Report 2023, Peace Worldwide Organization Founder Mehdi Alavi reviews all countries within the United Nations and provides human rights, democracy, peace, and civility scores for 193 countries. We urge you to read Civility Report 2023 today.


In Civility Report 2023, Peace Worldwide Organization Founder Mehdi Alavi reviews all countries within the United Nations and provides human rights, democracy, peace, and civility scores for 193 countries. We urge you to read Civility Report 2023 today.


Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. Africa covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area. With 1.0 billion people, it accounts for about 14.72% of the world's human population.


Americas are lands in the Western hemisphere of the world. In English, the plural form of the Americas is often used to refer to the landmasses of North America and South America with their associated islands and regions.


Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. With approximately 3.879 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population.


Europe is the world's second-smallest continent by surface area, covering about 10,180,000 square kilometres or 2% of the Earth's surface and about 6.8% of its land area. Yet the borders of Europe, can incorporate cultural and political elements.


The Middle East is a transcontinental region centered on Western Asia, Turkey, and Egypt.

A First-Hand Look at Arba’een, the World’s Largest Annual Pilgrimage

Arba’een 2018, showing the path of pilgrims coming from Najaf to Karbala. Photo taken by the author’s family during their pilgrimage
 Arba’een draws millions of people together in a gathering where pilgrims’ needs are provided for out of generosity and without payment. I needed to see this with my own eyes and traveled to Iraq to take part. What I saw impressed me forever with the understanding that peace and compassion are possible here on Earth.

Arba’een, the immense annual gathering in Karbala, Iraq, got my attention after I read Sayed M. Modarresi’s Huffington Post article, “World’s Biggest Pilgrimage Now Underway, and Why You’ve Never Heard of It!” After researching it, I knew Arba’een was something that I must experience firsthand.

As the founder and president of Peace Worldwide Organization, I could not get the idea off my mind. In the US, we cannot have a concert with a few thousand attendees without some trouble. How in the world was it possible for millions of people to get together so lovingly and peacefully?

Finally, I took the journey. My experience with Arba’een opened my eyes to many possibilities to achieve global peace. I had never encountered such hospitality, love and generosity in my life. Although it was held in Iraq under the threat of terrorism, I spotted pilgrims from across the world eagerly participating. I was touched by the display of faith in humanity, the likes of which I had never seen anywhere else.

A multicultural gathering

Although it was originally initiated by Shi’a Muslims as a spiritual reawakening, I witnessed that Arba’een brought people together from all walks of life. It was a true representation of all people in the world. The participants included not just Shi’as but Sunnis, Ibadis, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Yazidis and Zoroastrians. There, we were all united in purpose and welcomed with the utmost respect, regardless of religion, culture, ethnicity, gender or race.

Four years earlier, I had participated in the annual Islamic Hajj pilgrimage. In Karbala, I noticed the much greater crowds; Arba’een attracts five or more times more people than the Hajj. In contrast to the Hajj, which is riddled with accidents and troubles, my experience with the Arba’een event was peaceful. While the Hajj consists exclusively of Muslims, Arba’een breaks across identity barriers. Arba’een is truly unique.

As I had read, it was embellished with the longest continuous free dining table with a variety of foods and personal sleep accommodations. Iraqis were stationed throughout the path of pilgrims to wash feet and massage feet, backs, shoulders and necks. Clinics and doctors were available to treat pilgrims. All amenities, down to baby diapers, were furnished free. All services, including the tight security, were provided by volunteers. None of these were paid for by any government or corporation. They were all offered by Iraqis and others who had been saving for a year to serve pilgrims with pure love and compassion. They expected no pay; rather, they felt honored when we accepted their offerings or lodging.

On my journey, I was told that among the servers were the Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi and the Chinese Ambassador along with his wife. I wondered why US officials were absent, especially when the US was generally unpopular in the region and had the largest embassy and military presence in the country. It would have been a great PR opportunity.

Arba’een rarely makes headlines, but when it does, it gives hope to humanity that universal peace is realizable.

Arba’een memorializes the end of the 40-day mourning period for the brutal 7th-century killing of al-Husayn (Husayn), the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson and third Shia Imam. His murder at the hands of the wicked Umayyad Caliph Yazid made him a martyr standing up against injustice. The event left an indelible mark on Islamic history.

As Modarresi says, Husayn’s “legend encourages, inspires, and champions change for the better, and no amount of media blackout can extinguish its light.”

For me, Arba’een was a life-changing experience

Starting in 2014, ISIS freely roamed much of Iraq and committed atrocities that shocked the world. Armed with weapons and vehicles of Western manufacture, ISIS tortured suspects, raped women and girls, robbed, enslaved, used child soldiers and carried out genocide.

I read Modarresi’s article in 2015 and learned that millions of people from all over the world ignored ISIS to attend Arba’een. ISIS, which takes an extreme anti-Shi’a stance, attempted to menace pilgrims into skipping Arba’een. The threat encouraged even more participation in defiance, a courageous audacity rarely seen anywhere around the world.

To the pilgrims, Husayn typifies the man who is spiritually connected to Allah, the Source of all things, which enables him to stand firmly against despotism and never submit to oppression or persecution. Husayn did so even though it cost him his own life and those of his brothers, sons and other loved ones.

To me, Arba’een appeared to be a truer representation of cross-cultural participation and cohesiveness than even the United Nations. Like other political entities, the UN is riddled with favoritism and corruption. Unlike in the UN, all people are treated with equal respect in Arba’een.

For days, nights, weeks and months, I was preoccupied. Something deep inside me urged me to participate. I wanted to be a part of it. I needed to see it for myself and experience the event known to millions. I felt a strong zeal to take the journey, despite the imminent threat of ISIS against the pilgrims. I became excited and eager knowing there was a purpose.

With ISIS controlling much of Iraq, my family was adamantly against me traveling in the Middle East, especially within Iraq. I was compelled to delay my journey.

Thanks to Qassem Soleimani, Iran’s late top general, things have since changed for the better in the region. In mid-2018, Iraq gathered strength with assistance from Iran and Russia to push ISIS out of Iraq. On the ground with Russian air support, Iraqi special forces led by Soleimani and Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis soundly defeated ISIS. That brave action gave me an opportunity to convince my family to let me participate in Arba’een. I assured them that I would be careful traveling there. Knowing how badly I wanted to go there, they reluctantly agreed.

In 2018, Arba’een was at the end of October. I was astonished. The journey exceeded all my expectations; every moment was breathtaking. I stayed in Iraq for 12 days, and it cost me not even a dime for food. My lodging would also have been totally free, but I chose to stay a few nights in nice hotels to reflect. The hotels were around $20 a night.

Step by step, side by side, I marched all 50 miles of the way on foot over three days, alongside millions of other pilgrims. The journey began at the mausoleum of Ali in the holy city of Najaf and terminated at Husayn’s mausoleum in the holy city of Karbala.

As I looked over my shoulder, I saw children in the arms of their mothers and young men assisting the women and elderly in their quest to make the journey. I saw folks with canes and crutches taking each intentional step forward. I found the weakened, aged or disabled rolling in wheelchairs as persistent and committed as those of us on foot beside them. There were no divides or differences. There, we were all one.

There was only hope in their eyes and love in their heart as the people moved beside me. Often, I would find myself interrupted in thought, taking in each individual, making individual picture frame memories of their faces, with the various Iraqi citizens lining the trail motioning to give us water and food or guiding us along the path. I could feel the energy pulsating throughout my body, my mind, my soul—the frequency around me was vibrating, unconditional, pure, wholehearted love.

It was with this powerful frequency that I then took each individual step. All of this beautiful, loving energy made what could otherwise be characterized as a marathon feel like a walk in the park. I had very little on me except for a backpack of clothes, yet I felt fully abundant. 

I had never seen generosity to that extent in my whole life. Various kinds of food and comfortable lodging were freely available along the path everywhere. I was astonished to see that even the poorest Iraqis traveled on foot for days to get there, simply to offer the pilgrims dates here and there.

Heaven on Earth

I thought to myself: If Iraqis could continue that spirit for the rest of the year by treating one another with the same compassion and love, Iraq would once again be the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:8), a place of happiness and peace. Imagine what the world could be if we existed in this nature daily as well.

The instantaneous coming together of millions of people from across the world in Arba’een must be of Heavenly inspiration. It is equally magical how Iraqis work together providing the pilgrims safety and security along with free food, lodging and other services. As Oregon’s Southminster Presbyterian Church Pastor John Shuck described it, “… it is a divine interplay of an unchoreographed dance of love.”

In my journey, I learned that millions of the pilgrims began their journey on foot from Iran, Kuwait, Syria and Lebanon, along with cities in Iraq and the Gulf Arab States, towards Karbala. For days, young and old traveled miles through mountainous and rocky trails in the burning sun of the day and the freezing cold of the night to reach the holy city. Regardless of where they came from, they all simply wanted to connect to Allah and live in harmony and peace. To accomplish these noble goals, they knew that a level of unrelenting self-will, accountability, good nature, kindness and endurance was required to win over oppression and persecution.

Husayn gave us many examples of courage in his stand against tyranny and injustice. Many of his quotes can be heard across the world, even if few are aware of the source of them. Over 1300 years ago, before he was viciously murdered, he said, “Death with dignity is better than a life in humiliation.”

More than ever, I am now convinced that we can all learn a lot from religion in pursuit of harmony and peace. Religion is not inherently good or bad. It can be used as a positive force or abused for personal gain. The event of Arba’een symbolizes a religious occasion that annually brings the largest number of people from across the world together in the hope of promoting compassion, love, harmony and peace.

My journey was exceptional. My life’s dream of unity and peace was realized in my travels. I watched people who were amazingly liberated from fear, judgment and the desire for control and power. I saw them all sharing their basic needs with strangers. I learned that the vision of the coming together of people from all walks of life united for the pursuit of compassion, love and peace ALREADY exists. Now, I can imagine an entire world through this vision, where I paint a picture in my mind as I lead the Peace Worldwide Organization and write about history, philosophy, politics, religion and spirituality.


This article was originally published in Fair Observer on August 28, 2023.

Iraq’s Massive, Peaceful Annual Arba’een Pilgrimage Is Beginning Now

karbala, iraq – september 27, 2021: photo of imam abbas shrine in karbala city in ArbaŹ½een ilgrimage cermony © Mohammed_Al_Ali /

Preparations for the world’s largest annual pilgrimage are underway. Millions will gather in Karbala, Iraq, for Arba’een, a gathering that marks the end of a 40-day Shi’a period of mourning. Every year, Shi’as, joined by others, commemorate Husayn, the heroic grandson of the Prophet Muhammad who was slain in Karbala.

Arba’een should be listed in the Guinness Book of World Records in several categories: biggest annual gathering, longest continuous dining table, the largest number of people fed for free, and the largest group of volunteers serving a single event, all under the imminent threat of suicide bombings.

Sayed M. Modarresi, “World’s Biggest Pilgrimage Now Underway, and Why You’ve Never Heard of It!”

We haven’t heard of Arba’een because the media is primarily interested in negative news, embellished tabloids and controversial matters. Positive news and inspiring stories are often ignored, especially when they relate to Islam. When a few hundred protest in Russia, China or Iran, it makes headlines. When millions gather for the world’s greatest peaceful annual event, with the longest continuous free dining table and sleep accommodations, none of it paid for by any government or corporation, all in defiance of imminent terror, it routinely fails to make a single headline. When it somehow does, it gives hope to humanity that universal peace is achievable!

Last year, despite the threat of the COVID pandemic still persisting and terrorist bombings among crowds, around 21 million people from across the world gathered in Iraq and participated in the event.

Pilgrims are not inhibited by terrorists from participating in Arba’een. In contrast, it draws out more pilgrims in masses in defiance, displaying a faith in humanity never seen before anywhere around the world.

Arba’een breaks across ethnic, racial, religious, and national barriers. Although it began as a Shi’a Muslim pilgrimage, its participants include Sunnis, Ibadis, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Yazidis and Zoroastrians.

Nevertheless, Arba’een has its roots in tragedy. The festival marks the end of the 40-day mourning period for the 7th-century barbarous killing of Husayn ibn Ali, the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson and the third Shi’a Imam. That happened in Karbala, Iraq, around 1350 years ago by the order of the tyrannical Umayyad Caliph Yazid.

This year, Arba’een falls on Safar 20th in the Islamic lunar calendar, corresponding to September 6th. Millions of people from around the globe will gather in Iraq’s holiest city of Karbala to commemorate it, one of the most revered Islamic religious occasions.

Who was Husayn ibn Ali?

The death of Husayn is considered a formative tragedy in Islamic history. In The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Edward Gibbon said, “In a distant age and climate, the tragic scene of the death of Hosein will awaken the sympathy of the coldest reader.” His heroic life and death inspired countless generations.

To know Husayn, we begin with when Muslims wanted to reward the Prophet Muhammad for his services. Allah commanded him, “Say: I do not ask you for any reward for my services except to love my blood family.” (Quran 42:23). The blood family of the Prophet was above all Fatima, his only living child, her husband Ali and their sons, Husayn and Hasan. Tradition holds that the Prophet said of the lad, “Husayn is from me and I am from Husayn.”

Husayn’s life was tragic from the very start. In 632, when he was 6 years old, his beloved grandfather, the Prophet, died.

Before his demise, the Prophet gathered the Muslims and gave them his farewell speech. On the return from his last pilgrimage to Mecca, he commanded all the over a hundred thousand pilgrims to meet him there. He said that it was his last pilgrimage and that he would leave them soon. People cried uncontrollably. In his long speech, he reminded people about their religious duties and Allah’s commands for them to love his blood family.

Then, he introduced Ali, his son-in-law and Husayn’s father, as his heir and the leader of all Muslims. At the end of the speech, the people rushed and gave their allegiance to Ali. This paved the way for Husayn himself to eventually inherit his father’s claim to leadership.

If the demise of his grandfather was not painful enough for Husayn, another tragedy was in waiting. Ignoring Ali’s claim, some men moved to the leadership for another claimant. The ringleaders rushed to Ali’s house to secure his allegiance since Ali’s influence was immense. According to Shi’a tradition, Fatima, Husayn’s mother, intervened to save her husband. The men attacked her. She was badly injured and miscarried her baby, whom the Prophet had named Muhsin. Consequently, she died within six months of her father’s death. At 6, Husayn had now lost both grandfather and mother within a short time.

Among Muslims, Fatima has been considered something like a First Lady of Islam. The outrage provoked by Fatima’s brutal death saved the rest of the Prophet’s family and their small group of supporters, Shi’as, from being killed by the authorities. However, they were mostly kept under house arrest.

After the death of the third Caliph, Uthman, the people rushed to Ali’s house begging him to take the power. Ali consistently refused. After three days of riots, Ali finally consented under certain conditions, ruling only by the Quran and the Prophet’s traditions. They all agreed.

Soon, the rich and powerful people realized that Ali was not giving them any favors as the previous Caliphs had done. They deserted him, rallying around the Umayyad governor of Syria, Mu’awiya. Ali’s rule lasted less than five years. In 661, while prostrating at the mosque of Kufa, a city in Iraq, Ali was fatally struck in the head by an assassin’s poisoned sword. He died three days later from the wound. Hasan, Ali’s oldest son, succeeded him, but Hasan’s rule lasted only a few months before he was forced to abdicate in favor of the Mu’awiya, the first Umayyad caliph. The group left Kufa and resettled in Medina.

In 670, Hasan was poisoned and died. At 44, Husayn had lost his mother, father and brother. Now, he was the only living son of Ali and Fatima. Husayn became the patriarch of the Prophet’s family and leader of the Shi’as. Mu’awiya did not find Husayn an existential threat to their power and chose to ignore him rather than force allegiance on him.

A heroic death in resistance to tyrants

In 680, all that changed when Mu’awiya’s son, Yazid, ascended to power. He wanted allegiance from everyone in the empire. Disobedience meant death. Husayn was no exception.

When Yazid’s ultimatum was formally presented to Husayn, he skillfully asked for a night time to think over it. After tough negotiation, he got the time. That night, when everyone was in deep sleep, he took his family and headed for the safe haven of Mecca. Muslims were strictly forbidden to fight in the holy city. Many of the Shi’as followed him.

In Mecca, Husayn received many letters from the people of Kufa imploring him to come there. He pondered over them. As the annual pilgrimage to Mecca neared, he realized that the holy city was not safe, either. Yazid had sent spies among pilgrims to kill him. Husayn hurriedly gathered his family and the Shi’as, and they secretly headed for Kufa.

Yazid soon learned of Husayn’s move towards Kufa. He sent one of his commanders, Hur, to block Husayn’s path. Husayn and his company were forced to reroute to Karbala, on the Euphrates River. There, Husayn and his male companions numbered about one hundred. Within a few days, they were surrounded by over 30,000 armed soldiers, all with orders to kill Husayn.

Husayn spoke before the enemy soldiers reminding them of what the Quran and the Prophet have said about him and his family. All fell on deaf ears, except for the ears of Hur, who had a change of heart.

Husayn managed to negotiate for one last night to be with his family and companions. That night was critical. Husayn wanted to ensure those who would remain with him truly believed in his mission. In a tent in the middle of the desert that night, Husayn had all the males gathered. He frankly told them all that the enemy wanted to kill him. They did not need to have themselves killed for his sake and should feel free to leave him. He even asked whoever owed someone a debt to leave. Then, he turned off the candles so that people would not feel embarrassed to leave. Some people left, but those who stayed uttered words that history would never forget. Zuhair ibn Qayn, Husayn’s devoted follower, said, “By Allah, I would love that I be killed, then revived, then killed a thousand times in this manner if it keeps you with the young ones from your family.”

On the next day, Muharram 10, 61 AH (October 9, 680 AD), Hur along with a few of his soldiers somehow deserted the camp and joined Husayn. He begged for forgiveness, which Husayn readily accepted. For what he had done, he insisted on being the first one to face the enemy. When Husayn consented, he and his company fought bravely and killed many soldiers before they were killed.

Abu Wahab Abdullah ibn Umayr, a Christian who had just married, overheard Husayn speaking before the enemy forces. Wahab was touched, embraced Islam and joined Husayn. When he was killed, his bride begged to go and fight the enemy. When Husayn tried to discourage her, she replied, “Please do not ask me to go back! I prefer to die fighting rather than to fall captive in the hands of the Umayyad clan!”

When the soldiers threw Wahab’s head to his mother, she threw the head back and said what we have given for Allah, we do not take back. With that statement, she grabbed a weapon and killed at least two soldiers.

The companions begged Husayn to allow them to be the first to defend him. One by one, they fought bravely until death. Next, his brothers volunteered, fought and died. Abbas, Husayn’s half-brother, known for bravery, attempted to save the family from thirst. He broke through enemy lines and reached the Euphrates. On the way back, he was brutally wounded and killed. Today, his mausoleum is across from that of Husayn.

There were around 80 who died in defense of Husayn and his family on that day. Just like today’s pilgrims, Husayn’s companions came from varied persuasions. They all knew that Husayn was right, standing for justice and against oppression.

As the day wore on, the hostile Umayyad force was restless and impatient to kill Husayn. Husayn prayed before facing the enemy: “I will be patient with whatever you decree, my Lord. There is no deity but you. You are the helper of those who seek help. I have no Lord except you, and no one to worship except you. I am patient with your wisdom, O rescuer of the one who needs rescue. O you who are eternal and everlasting. O you who bring the dead back to life. O you who observe the action of every soul. Judge between me and them, for you are the best of judges.”

Before being attacked, Husayn looked at the enemy asking them why they were so determined to kill him. According to Shi’a tradition, they responded, “We will kill you out of hatred for your father.” Husayn fought bravely, sending many of his assailants to their deaths. Finally, he fell. Killing him did not satisfy the enemy’s thirst. They severed his head and ran their horses over his corpse.

After the ordeal, only one male, Husayn’s oldest son Ali, who was sick with fever, survived.

Thereafter, the forces ransacked Husayn’s tents, captured its inhabitants and took them as slaves to Yazid in Damascus.

The Umayyads’ fury against the family of the Prophet knew no limits. They started the tradition to celebrate the occasion by urging people to fast on that day. Today, many Sunnis follow suit. Across the world, Shi’as follow the traditions of mourning that day and feeding the poor and needy.

Despite exhibiting the utmost savagery, though, the Umayyads spared the sick, women and children. Today, military forces are more ferocious. They indiscriminately kill men, women and children without feeling any remorse.

This year, Muharram 10 fell on July 28. Millions of people from around the globe gathered in Karbala to commemorate Husayn’s death. On September 6, they will break their period of mourning in the peaceful festival of Arba’een.

Husayn’s words should be written in gold: “Anyone who keeps silent when others are being oppressed is himself considered to be guilty of oppression.” I am unable to locate the source of this popular quotation, but it certainly encapsulates the meaning of his famous Sermon of Mina in which he condemned the Umayyad tyranny and the lackeys who failed to oppose it. Husayn refused to be like them and submit, uttering the words which would become his epitaph: “Death with dignity is better than a life of abasement.” 


This article was originally published in Fair Observer on August 22, 2023.


The US Supreme Court’s Credibility Is at Its Absolutely Lowest Level

The United States Supreme Court Building in Washington, DC © RozenskiP /

The United States has globally projected itself as the leader of democracy, but a close look at the country refutes that notion. American democracy, especially with the US Supreme Court, requires genuine reforms before it can legitimately call itself representative of a democratic institution.

The US judicial system is a disgrace to justice. Judicial positions are filled based on loyalty and inclination towards certain issues, parties and fraternities, rather than objective factors such as professional qualifications, a sense of justice and ethical considerations. Although the judges are obliged to be impartial adjudicators, above any political considerations, they often vote along party lines, and their decisions are referred to as “conservative” and “liberal.”

Like members of Congress, federal judges are divided. According to the National Constitution Center, the Supreme Court’s nine justices are presently six Republicans and three Democrats. Americans overwhelmingly disapprove of such partisanship. A 2022 Pew Research survey found that 84% of American adults overwhelmingly hold that the Supreme Court justices “should not bring their own political views into how they decide cases.”

Furthermore, the judiciary is filled with incompetent individuals who favor the rich as the poor and minorities remain their victims. It was not surprising when the infamous 2010 ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission enabled corporate entities, wealthy institutions and individuals to donate unlimited money to elections. Consequently, politicians, especially presidents, have become the puppets of the rich in their struggle to finance their campaigns. Not only this, but some of them have become puppets of foreign states. The contributions of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) to political campaigns in support of Israel and stopping those who think America first are well known.

AIPAC has also opposed any attempt by the US to negotiate with Iran, and continuously pushes for sanctions and hostilities against that nation. In reaction, Iran has finally put de-dollarization in motion globally. Thanks to AIPAC. So begins the fall of US hegemony worldwide.

Americans are looking at a stark future. The Supreme Court’s decisions are often tyrannical and devoid of moral values. Its extreme-right majority is now poised to roll back many “long-standing rights and laws.”

What do you really know about the US Supreme Court?

As for the US Constitution, Article III, Section 1 establishes that the US judicial power is vested in “one supreme Court” and that judges hold their office on “good Behaviour.” Going back to the precedent set by George Washington in nominating John Jay as the first Chief Justice, “good Behaviour” has meant that Justices must be patriots and high caliber jurists, known for integrity and impartiality.

While there is no mention of “checks and balances” in the Constitution, the principle is implicit in many of its provisions. Federal judges are appointed by the President, but the Senate must approve them. The Supreme Court may declare presidential actions or Congressional legislation illegal, but Congress can override them by changing the law or even proposing to amend the Constitution. The House of Representatives, furthermore, impeach executive officers and federal judges, including the President and Supreme Court justices.

In 1803 Marbury v. Madison, the Supreme Court established its authority to void actions of the executive and legislative branches found “repugnant to the constitution.” Over time, the Supreme Court has miserably evaded its responsibility to do so and keep those branches in check. The Congress has frequently delegated more and more of its constitutional power to the President, and the Supreme Court has not objected but colluded with the Congress, enabling “legislative distortion.” In doing so, the Supreme Court and the Congress have undermined the constitutional ideal of a balance of power.

The framers of the US Constitution created it in order to “establish Justice.” The 14th Amendment clearly states that no State can “deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” However, the US has never lived up to its commitment. The bigotry peaked in the 1857 Dred Scott v. Sandford when the Supreme Court excluded “enslaved people” from US citizenship.

As for the “equal justice under law,” the recent arrest and arraignment of the former President Donald Trump shows how that has been turned upside down. Unlike others, Trump was treated with respect, including escort through a private corridor and not being handcuffed or subjected to a mugshot.

Like Congress, the Supreme Court has also given in to the expansion of presidential power. The President issues executive orders at will, “instant laws” passed without Congressional approval. The Supreme Court could overturn them but has chosen to do nothing. In other words, the court has practically become a politically rubber-stamp for the other two branches.

The reason is clear. Presidential nominations, especially those for the Supreme Court, have become increasingly political. Presidents have been appointing party loyalists to such positions. In 1991, George H.W. Bush nominated the infamous Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court. The Senate confirmed his nomination, despite attorney Anita Hill’s extensive testimony of Thomas’s sexual misconduct. Now, Thomas is in hot water for violating the court’s own judicial ethics. Trump sparked outrage when he nominated Brett Kavanaugh, who was accused of attempted rape, but Brett was also confirmed.

The Supreme Court has become incorrigibly corrupt. The justices have used their judicial positions to enhance their private interests. While on the Supreme Court, Justice Louis Brandeis promoted Zionism and advised President Franklin D. Roosevelt on Zionism-related issues. Meanwhile, for decades up to the present-day, Justice Clarence Thomas has been taking vacations paid for by a billionaire.

A culture of injustice

The Supreme Court’s corruption and incompetence have taken their toll. The US suffers from endemic male chauvinism, racism, nepotism, and deceit. It continues to have the world’s highest criminal incarceration rate, including a disproportionate number of Black and Native Americans, whom police likewise disproportionately abuse and murder. The US has the world’s most mass shootings, about 5 times that of Russia, which comes second to the US. The shooters are 74% white, nicely treated by police, and seldom die unless they commit suicide. Black, Latino and Asian shooters rarely live to see the next day. Harassment and abuse of Hispanics, migrant workers and asylum seekers by authorities have become common affairs. Women, as well, are still treated unequally.

Although females constitute the majority in the US, they continue to be discriminated against. Female prisoners in the US are sexually harassed with impunity. Violence against women and girls remains widespread and alarming. Gun violence remains high across the country, and their biggest victims are women. Assaults on Native American women and girls continue to be substantially more frequent compared to assaults on other US women. As for wages, the “gender pay gap” persists, with women making 17% less than men doing the same jobs.

Judicial incompetence has put the US on the path of revolution. It has frustrated and polarized Americans, with many of them living in anger. Over 32% of the wealth is possessed by the wealthiest 1%. Over 11% of Americans live below the poverty level and 60% “live paycheck-to-paycheck.” It was in this environment that Trump could manipulate the oppressed into the January 6 insurrection.

Nevertheless, the Supreme Court is not representative of democracy. Its judges are not elected by the people but nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate, neither of which is representative of democracy, considering the US population.

The court’s degenerated status was summed up by a former judge. On March 11, 2020 in a letter to the US Chief Justice John Roberts, former Hawaii State Judge James Dannenberg resigned from the Supreme Court Bar. Addressing Roberts, he wrote, “You are allowing the Court to become an ‘errand boy’ for an administration that has little respect for the rule of law.” He noted that the Supreme Court was moving towards limiting freedom in favor of “wealthy, Republican, White, straight, Christian, and armed males—and the corporations they control.” He ended his letter by saying, “I no longer have respect for you or your majority, and I have little hope for change. I can’t vote you out of office because you have life tenure, but I can withdraw whatever insignificant support my Bar membership might seem to provide.”

Time for the US to Reform

The Supreme Court is riddled with corruption and incompetence. This is not sustainable in the long run, as we saw in the 2021 insurrection at the US Capitol building. At the very least, two steps must be taken:

1.      The justices must take an oath of allegiance to carry out impartial justice, not to serve Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative, white or non-white sectors.

2.      The court must develop an “ethics code” to provide the judges with sensible standards for conducting themselves.

If the US doesn’t get its own house in order soon, another insurrection is inevitable.


This article was originally published in Fair Observer on June 26, 2023.


How Good Is the US Policy on Iran, Really?

Waving Iran flag above skyline of Tehran at sunset. © Borna_Mirahmadian /

Iran is not a backward, violent dictatorship. Under the guidance of its religious leaders, it has developed into a progressive and vibrant Islamic democracy. The US needs to rethink its policy of sanctions and threats toward this increasingly important nation.

Americans believe that Iran is a rogue state run by murderous mullahs, demonizing the Shi’a clerics that oversee the state. This perception is a result of the country’s propaganda, partly influenced by Iranian diaspora there. After the 1979 Islamic Revolution, many wealthy members of the Iranian elite left the country; most of them ended up in the US. They never came to terms with the regime. Although they had serious differences amongst themselves, they were united in their opposition to the mullahs. They used their large financial resources to actively influence the politics of the US and other western countries to follow a hardline anti-Iran policy. Thanks to their efforts, combined with those of the Israel lobby and others, the US has been extremely hostile to Iran.

The US has consistently brandished its “all options open” policy as a formidable weapon against Iran. Under the Obama administration, it unleashed some of the most stringent and extensive sanctions witnessed since 1980. Continuing its relentless pursuit of regime change, the US has unveiled this April a fresh wave of sanctions against the Islamic Republic. While clamor for threats of a military nature has failed to resonate, the repercussions of sanctions on Iran’s economy have been profoundly debilitating. The insidious grip of poverty has tightened unabated across the nation, with countless Iranians succumbing to illness and anguish amidst a dire scarcity of vital medications.

Amidst a relentless barrage of western propaganda advocating for a regime change in Iran, the Iranian populace remains resolutely unfazed, displaying a conspicuous choice not to heed these efforts. There are reasons for this optimism. This is not the first time Iran has faced stern international opposition to its regime, and survived. During the 1980 invasion by Iraq, a conflict that saw the involvement of over 80 nations and military backing from 34 countries, including both the US and the Soviet Union, in support of Iraq, Iran found itself pitted against overwhelming odds, with only Libya and Syria extending their sympathies. In the face of this formidable hostile force, Iran valiantly resisted for a grueling eight years, steadfastly preserving its territorial integrity without conceding an inch of its land to the Iraqi aggressors. One of those killed in the pushing back of Iraqis out of  the country was my brother Sayyid Husayn. He was then a 23-year-old seminary student. Even my over 70-year-old father and other brothers volunteered to defend their country.

Despite the barrage of American sanctions, Iran has been able to avoid their suffocating effects, navigating a path towards self-reliance. The Islamic Republic responded to years of relentless US pressure by spearheading the de-dollarization of its oil trade in 2007, setting in motion an international wave of dissent against the American-dominated financial framework. Consequently, the once-dominant petrodollar rapidly ceded its hegemony, with BRICS nations, Venezuela, and other states eagerly following suit. There are some hints that even Saudi Arabia, a staunch ally of the US, may be succumbing to this paradigm shift. Recent discussions between China and Malaysia in early April concerning the establishment of an “Asian Fund” aimed at diminishing reliance on the US dollar further underscore the momentum of this trend.

Alas, the response from the US to this trend has been disconcerting. Instead of absorbing the lessons and altering its course, the US harbors animosity towards Iran for catalyzing the decline of the almighty dollar. In times to come, impartial historians will undoubtedly highlight Washington’s susceptibility to manipulation by Iran’s diaspora, Israel’s influential lobby, and other anti-Iran factions as contributing factors to the gradual erosion of American hegemony.

What You Probably Need to Know About Iran Under the Mullahs

Despite the persistent hostility spearheaded by the US and its western allies, Iran’s mullahs have propelled it forward on several fronts.

Contrary to the portrayal of Iran as a dictatorial regime, the Islamic Republic operates as a theo-democracy, as affirmed by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khameini, who stated, “Islam does not permit us to establish a dictatorship. We follow our nation’s votes and act according to their views.”

My visits and observations have convinced me that Iran’s leadership is committed to the democratic process. I have witnessed heated debates in Iran’s Majlis, its parliamentary chamber. They exemplify a passion for the vibrant exchange of ideas. Perusing the newspapers, I have noted that some regularly support the government, while others criticize it. In buses, parks, and other public areas, I have listened to common people expressing their thoughts, for or against the government, without being reprimanded or arrested.

On the other hand, I found it perplexing to note the level of sensitivity of some security personnel to the wearing of the hijab in numerous localities. This stringent enforcement has continued to provoke discontent among many young Iranians, who find themselves increasingly aggrieved by such measures.

Iran’s progress under the leadership of the mullahs has been nothing short of remarkable, catapulting the nation to an impressive position in global intellectual achievements. According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Iran boasts the second-highest number of engineering graduates per capita on a global scale. Iran’s engineers and scientific researchers are making great strides in areas from autism research, to pharmaceuticals—of which 96% are now produced locally—to cutting-edge nanotechnology.

Quality of life has surged since the revolution. Between 1976 and 2021, the literacy rate experienced a remarkable surge, soaring from a mere 36.5% to an impressive nearly 89%. Likewise, life expectancy witnessed a substantial upswing, climbing from less than 55 years in 1976 to a commendable nearly 77 years in 2021.

Today, over 90% of the population is covered by free health insurance, ensuring access to essential medical services. In rural areas, health houses have been established to cater to the needs of approximately 1,200 residents per facility, bringing healthcare closer to remote communities. Moreover, Iran’s commitment to healthcare extends to refugees, with accessible services provided to these vulnerable populations.

The quality of healthcare in Iran has become so reputable that many people now visit Iran to benefit from advanced and affordable medical treatment, positioning the country as a destination of choice. Iran has introduced impressive innovations in areas such as addressing autism, offering valuable lessons and insights that can benefit not only the US but also other nations grappling with similar challenges.

Iran is a Beneficial Regional Leader

Iran’s military leaders have left a positive mark on the Islamic world. The revered Qassim Soleimani has left an indelible impression on hearts and minds across the region, and also instills a sense of awe in the hearts of Iran’s adversaries, attesting to the nation’s capacity to nurture exceptional military leaders. Iranian officers are not a gang of thugs, as western propagandists would like to portray them, but competent, professional, and honorable leaders making an impact on the world stage.

In recent memory, General Soleimani, with the help of Russian air power, played a pivotal role in urging Iraqis to liberate their land from the clutches of the terrorist organization ISIS. In Syria, Soleimani’s influence extended to inspiring the local population to push back against ISIS, bolstering the resistance against this extremist group. In Lebanon, he inspired a robust response to Israeli aerial bombings. Furthermore, the Iranian general motivated Yemenis to forge a united front against the Saudi-led coalition’s aggressive actions.

Iran has demonstrated its ability to use diplomacy just as well as warfare to build connections and foster stability in the region. President Ebrahim Raisi’s administration has actively sought to bolster diplomatic ties with key global players, most notably China and Russia, among other nations. Impressively, his efforts have yielded significant progress in normalizing relations with Saudi Arabia and other Arab states. These constructive engagements have the potential to initiate a much-needed environment of peace and stability in this turbulent part of the world.

In stark contrast to the US-led western powers, the mullahs of Iran have demonstrated a clear objective of fostering stability and peaceful coexistence among regional countries. Their unwavering commitment to this vision is exemplified by their endeavors to share Iran’s resources and inspire neighboring nations. The influence of the mullahs has been particularly notable in countries such as Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, Venezuela, and others, where they have been instrumental in galvanizing these nations to assert their independence and stand united against acts of aggression.

Time for a New US Iran Policy

Iran’s strategic maneuvers in forging key partnerships are poised to reshape regional dynamics, inviting the West to reevaluate its approach towards the nation.

Recently, Iran awarded India a contract to develop the Chabahar Port, in a move that holds immense potential for enhancing connectivity and trade. Complementing this development is the planned construction of a railway network linking Iran’s Shahid Rajaee port on the Persian Gulf to southern Russia. Upon completion, this ambitious infrastructure project will revolutionize transportation between East Asia and Russia, with far-reaching implications.

The significance of these initiatives cannot be overstated. For India, the railway and port development will dramatically reduce transportation time, with the current 45-day journey reduced to a mere 14 days, a savings that will translate into substantial cost reduction, amounting to millions of dollars for the Indian economy. Equally consequential is the impact on Europe, as it stands to benefit from an expeditious and cost-effective cargo route between the continent and East Asia via Iran. This newfound advantage is bound to incentivize European nations to reassess their stance on sanctions and explore collaborative opportunities with Iran.

It is not just economic policy that is giving the West reason to reevaluate. The stance adopted by Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, against weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) has posed a formidable challenge to world powers. Khamenei’s moral stand categorically forbidding the production of WMDs is informed Iran’s own history during the protracted and devastating eight-year war with Iraq in the 1980s. The repercussions of Iraq’s chemical attacks persist to this day. Tragically, I recently received news of the passing of one of my relatives in Iran, a victim of the chemical injuries sustained during that period, whose years of suffering have finally come to an end. Despite the suffering that thousands of Iranians have likewise endured, the nation’s moral conviction stands as a rebuke to a Western global order predicated on mutually assured nuclear destruction.

The Iranian revolution has triggered a profound realignment that continues to shape the contemporary global landscape. By asserting its own distinct worldview and challenging western preeminence, Iran has engendered an ongoing dialogue on the nature and distribution of power in the international arena, posing questions that demand thoughtful consideration. Despite these signals, however, the US persists in its efforts to meddle in the affairs of Iran and other nations. Instead of embracing a more diplomatic approach, the US clings to its reliance on punitive sanctions, invasions, and interventions, which have become all too familiar hallmarks of its foreign policy. The recent Russo-Ukrainian War serves as a stark and regrettable illustration of the US’s propensity for favoring military action over constructive dialogue and negotiation. It is imperative that the US awaken to the realities of our changing world.

Under the leadership of its mullahs, Iran has demonstrated an exceptional ability to forge its own path and shape its own destiny. While the hostility exhibited by the US may prove to be transient, one aspect of Iran’s trajectory endures steadfastly: its commitment to de-dollarization. The US must recognize the significance of this development and disregard the influence of affluent and divisive diaspora groups and anti-Iran factions. Instead, a fresh, astute, and equitable policy towards Iran must be crafted—one that embraces peaceful negotiations marked with wisdom and balance, fostering a constructive and mutually beneficial relationship.

By Mehdi Alavi

This article was originally published in Fair Observer on June 5, 2023.

What You Need to Know About the US Congress

Washington DC Capitol dome detail with waving american flag © Andrea Izzotti /

The US has globally projected itself as the leader of democracy through its worldwide mass media, huge economy and massive military expenditures. A close look at the country contradicts that notion, revealing that American democracy, especially the US Congress, needs extensive reforms before it can legitimately claim to be democratic.

The US Congress consists of the House of Representatives (House) and the Senate. Over time, the House has abdicated its responsibility, especially its exercise of war powers, to the president. The White House now has “free rein to go to war so long as it notifies Congress first.” The House has also implicitly relinquished to the president its powers to regulate international affairs and trade. The president may also freely issue regulations and executive orders without going through Congress. This silent transfer of power has strengthened the president in relation to the other two branches of government, the Congress and the judiciary. By transferring so much power to the executive, the US Congress has undermined the constitutional ideal of a balance of power.

The US Congress has also become weak because of the influence of money in politics. Members of Congress spend more and more of their time fundraising, diminishing their ability to legislate. Increasingly, Congresswomen and Congressmen represent their donors more than their constituents. Open Secrets tells us that Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy raised over $27 million and the former speaker Nancy Pelosi raised over $25 million in 2021-22.

Because of this influence of money in politics, Congress is increasingly under the thumb of interest groups. Some of these groups are beholden to foreign states. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is infamous for its hold on Congress. AIPAC has poured millions of dollars to defeat progressive pro-Palestinian candidates in Democrat congressional primaries. On rare occasions that members of Congress speak out against Israel’s influence, such as Representative Ilhan Omar in 2019, they are quickly ostracized.

AIPAC has also opposed Barack Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran as the former president has admitted in his memoirs. Sadly, the Congress sometimes puts foreign interests above American ones, endangering peace, prosperity and national security itself.

Other ills afflict the Congress as well. Pork-barrel projects, earmarks and poison bills, often referred to as “legislative extortion,” interfere with legislation. The Congress has failed to deliver for the people. They have not drafted laws for a healthy economy. Over 32% of the wealth is owned by 1-percent of the wealthiest Americans. Over 11% of Americans live below the poverty level and 60% “live pay-check-to-paycheck.” At such a time, the Congress is deeply divided. Both Republicans and Democrats care more about hurting the other in an adversarial system than acting together in national interest.

Even both parties themselves are deeply divided. It took 15 rounds of voting for Republicans to elect Kevin McCarthy as the speaker of the House. The Congress only unites to pass things in the interest of their donors. The Congress has drafted tax bills, which give tax cuts to the rich and pass on the tax burden to the middle class.

There are representational issues too. The District of Columbia with a population just short of 700,000, far more than Wyoming, and Puerto Rico with a population of nearly 3,200,000, greater than 21 states, have no voice on the House’s bills. The same is true for Guam, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Northern Mariana Islands, and other US territories.

In 1789, the first House had 65 members serving 3.9 million people, one for every 60,000 persons. Now, 435 members serve 334 million, one for every 767,816 persons. It is now difficult for one person to represent so many different and varied constituents.

It is not just the president who dominates the House. Today, the Senate has grown in power too. It dictates terms and conditions. In reality, this has turned the bicameral legislature into a unicameral one. The House now has to either ignore or “rubber-stamp Senate bills”.

The US Senate is not exactly democratic. Every state gets two senators. This means that Wyoming with the population of less than 583,279 has the same representation, privilege, and vote as California with a population of about 39 million. In the US Senate, the vote of a resident of Wyoming equals the votes of 69 Californians. The consecrated tradition of Senate filibuster speeches designed to postpone or neuter legislative action illustrate the principle of the tyranny of a minority over the majority.

As of 2023, according to the World Population Review, the 50 states have a combined population of about 334 million. Mathematical logic tells us that the 26 states with the smallest populations collectively send 52 senators to Congress. Those 26 states wield a simple majority in the Senate, although they only represent 58.7 million citizens or 17.6% of the entire population. That means that the remaining minority of 48 senators represents over 82.4% of the US population. If you were to remove the eight most populated states from a Senate vote, it would take 42 states (84 senators) to represent a simple majority of the US population (52%). In other words, the will of a small minority of the US population represented in the Senate is always likely to prevail over the needs and wishes of all US citizens.

Like the House, the Senate leaves a significant portion of American citizens unrepresented. The constitution excludes from the federal electoral system the entire population of the District of Columbia (DC), Puerto Rico, Guam, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, the Northern Mariana Islands, and other US territories, despite the fact that they collectively have a population greater than that of some states.

The US Constitution, ratified in 1788, gave state legislatures the right to elect senators. Over time, this corrupted the process of selecting senators. Hence, the 17th Amendment was ratified in 1913 and, since then, senators have been elected by popular vote. Unfortunately, that amendment failed to solve the problem of corruption for senatorial elections. Today the average cost of running for senate runs into millions of dollars. This funding is usually provided “openly and directly” by the wealthy through PACs and lobbying groups.

When elected, a senator’s loyalty is first to the rich who bankrolled their election. That is why legislators vote to spend funds lavishly on dubious projects in the service of the wealthy and their corporations, with little or no consideration of the needs of the common people. This produces volumes of legislation whose logic most Americans simply cannot fathom. The Senate consistently fails to represent the people’s needs, interests, concerns, or welfare.

The various ills of the US Congress have been steadily growing. It is now deeply corrupt and highly undemocratic. Before lecturing the rest of the world on adopting democratic norms, the US must put its own house in order and reform its Congress.

By Mehdi Alavi

This article was originally edited by Hannah Gage and published in Fair Observer on May 21, 2023.


Is the US Presidency Actually a Powerful Dictatorship?

White House ©Zack Frank/ 1

The US has projected itself as the global leader of democracy through its powerful mass media, huge economy and lavish military expenditures. A closer look reveals that the country requires extensive reform before it can claim to be a true democracy.

The presidency of the United States has a surprisingly undemocratic selection process. In my previous article on American democracy, I pointed out that the president is not elected by popular vote, but by the electoral college and how, over time, the presidential election process has become corrupt.

America’s founding fathers feared the evolution of the presidency into an imperial office. In fact, that fear was the driving force behind the separation of powers into three distinct branches of government: the executive, the legislative, and the judiciary.

We traditionally call this the “checks and balances” system. Each branch of government can challenge the actions of another branch. For example, the judiciary has the power to overturn unconstitutional laws drafted by the legislature or overrule acts contravening the law by the executive. This can happen both at the state and the federal levels.

In Washington, the president can veto legislation proposed by the Congress. At the same time, the Congress has the power to override presidential vetoes and confirm or reject presidential nominations. At first sight, the checks and balances system appears to be an effective way to maintain democracy. However, the system doesn’t always work out the way it was originally intended. In recent years, it has led to partisan division and logjam.

The Most Powerful Man in the World

Despite the fact that they are not exactly elected directly by the people, US presidents have the power to make critical decisions via executive orders. On August 24, 2022, President Joe Biden signed an executive order “to cancel $10,000 of student debt for low- to middle-income borrowers.”  This cost of Biden’s plan is estimated to be $400 billion for US taxpayers.

Executive orders are sometimes called “instant laws.” They do not need Congressional approval. The Supreme Court has the power to overturn them if they are found unconstitutional. However, this is a high bar and presidents have been usurping the power of Congress.

During his time in the White House, Franklin D. Roosevelt issued a record number of 3,721 executive orders. Only five of them were overturned by the Supreme Court. More recently, Donald Trump made executive orders infamous by announcing big policy changes without Congressional approval.

Even more alarming are the president’s nuclear powers. As commander-in-chief of all the US armed forces, the president has exclusive access to the nuclear codes. With the push of a button, he can cause a nuclear holocaust. Should a single human being have the power to destroy the world?

As I have pointed out repeatedly in my past articles, the US has an aggressive foreign policy. It meddles in the affairs of other countries. This leads to tensions and even standoffs with other powers such as Iran, Russia and China. An American president could blunder into nuclear war in a crisis. In 1962, the Cuban Missile Crisis demonstrated this danger.

The Biden-led NATO supports Ukraine against Russia. This is part of a longstanding American policy. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, NATO has expanded east. The “deep state” has taken charge of American foreign policy. Presidents have to do the bidding of the military-industrial complex. In 1961, Dwight D. Eisenhower warned against this phenomenon in his parting presidential address. In the context of the Russia-Ukraine War, the US president’s nuclear powers have become dangerous.

A Rapidly Deteriorating System

A key reason why the office of the president has become all powerful is because the Congress has become dysfunctional. The incessant squabbling between the two political parties makes passing of laws extremely difficult. The parties themselves are increasingly divided. It took a historic 15 rounds of voting for Kevin McCarthy to be elected speaker of the House of Representatives.

Republican lawmakers are so divided right now that it will be difficult for them to push through any legislation despite their majority. Even if they do, Democrats have a wafer-thin majority in the Senate and can block them. The Democrats are divided themselves and are unlikely to push through significant bills in the Senate. This leaves the White House a clear field for executive orders.

In this way, the US presidential power and prestige are the envy of dictators. Presidents enjoy unprecedented autocracy and imperial power under the guise of democracy. The president appoints thousands of delegates, who often lack the qualifications necessary for the political positions they are assuming.          

The president nominates federal judges, which makes the office extremely powerful. The nomination process has become increasingly political, especially for the Supreme Court. Presidents have been appointing party loyalists to top positions. This is not a new phenomenon. In 1991, George H.W. Bush nominated the infamous Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court. The Senate confirmed his nomination, despite attorney Anita Hill’s extensive testimony of Thomas’s sexual misconduct. Now, Thomas is in hot water for violating the Court’s own judicial ethics. Trump sparked outrage when he nominated Brett Kavanaugh who was accused of attempted rape.

Presidents have not only been appointing shady judges but they have also been benefiting family members. Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, profited immensely from dealings with the Saudis. This might not have been illegal but was certainly immoral. Such is the power of the president that Trump and Kushner were never held to account.

Today, the presidency is too powerful and not accountable to the people. Reforms to the system are long overdue. Otherwise, troubles lie ahead. An unrestrained, all-powerful presidency is not sustainable long term.

By Mehdi Alavi

This article was first published by Fair Observer.