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About Saeed Rahnema

Saeed Rahnema is Professor of Political Science and Public Policy at York University, Toronto


Articles by Saeed Rahnema

This week's editor

Rosemary Belcher-2.jpg

Rosemary Bechler is openDemocracy’s Editor.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

Netanyahu-Khamenei political tango

Netanyahu did have Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, disgraced former Iranian President, who with the support of Khamenei, would say one foul thing after another about Israel.

Refugee crisis: those most responsible are the least affected

Western governments talk of “moral” responsibility towards the refugees—but morality has nothing to do with it. They are simply obliged to help clean up a mess they helped make.

On 'Arab Awakening'

What's in a name? A critical look at our choice of page title some years after the so called Arab Spring.

Jerusalem: a city on edge

The old city of Jerusalem is the singular most contested city in human history.

Israel’s dual approach to Gaza and the West Bank: an overview

The areas now known as the West Bank and Gaza, despite geographic differences, were once similar in social, cultural and economic terms. But through a long process of one occupation after another, they were set apart and differentiated.

Illusions and realities surrounding Iran’s presidential elections

All the opposition groups, almost without exception, had called for the boycott of the elections. Had Iranian voters listened, a worse candidate would now have won the presidency. 

Iran: grim choices for president

Which candidate will be in a better position to weaken the Supreme Leader? Which will be less detrimental in terms of economic mismanagement? And which candidate less dangerous than the others in terms of brazen violations of human rights and civil liberties?

The politics behind the bazaar demonstration in Iran

 If there is one thing that can save the present Islamist regime and bring together all the Principlists, fundamentalists, and Islamic guards, it is another disastrous war in the Middle East, the attack on Iran threatened by Israel and the US.

Egypt and the presidential election: repeating Iranian mistakes?

Egyptians are now forced to choose the lesser of the two evils: Mohamed Morsy and Ahmad Shafiq. Which one? The question is a forcible reminder of the debates and discussions that took place in Iran during the fateful days of the 1979 revolution.

Playing with fire in the Middle East

As relations between Iran and Syria and the west deteriorate further, what are the possible outcomes of this escalation in the diplomatic crisis?

Saeed Rahnema


Today, democracy prevails all over the Middle East: people freely elect their leaders, a vibrant civil society is active in all aspects of life, intellectuals and artists have enshrined rights to free expression, trade unions actively participate in collective bargaining, the media are free and independent, women can wear whatever they choose, and full and equal citizenship is bestowed on women and ethnic and religious minorities. Massive oil and gas revenues provide for free education, public health and social services. The MENAU (Middle East North African Union), which includes Israel and the Palestinian state, takes full advantage of economic integration and the free movement of labour and capital. Museums display relics and garments of religious fundamentalisms, along with Slabs from the Israeli wall. 

It is unimaginable that only forty years ago, dictators of all kinds roamed the region, foreign powers were engaged in multiple wars, and Islamic fundamentalists imposed their obscurantist views. Israel was ruled by a coalition of hawks and fundamentalists, and Palestinians were engulfed in internal strife, corruption and religious fanaticism. 

A series of events changed that situation. The American superpower, along its neo-liberal ideology, weakened. Iranians toppled the Islamist regime. In Arab countries secularism flourished and Islamism, along with authoritarian rules backed by western powers rapidly waned. Palestinians and Israelis signed a peace deal and created two states within the 1967 borders.   

Nearly 40 years ago, in 2011, it would have been (political) science fiction to imagine any of this happening.


Photo of a rural landscape in Shiraz, Iran (uploaded by on Flickr)

Egypt: Lessons from Iran

With their admirable courage and perseverance the Egyptian people have achieved a great success in toppling a corrupt dictator. But have they pushed their revolution far enough forward to prevent the US-backed army and dominant classes aborting the whole process?

One-and-a-half state solution: Israeli-Palestinian final status

While advocates of one and two-state solutions continue their debate, a one and a half state solution is emerging, little to do with dreams of an independent, secular and democratic Palestinian state
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