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Posted on on February 5th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (

my correspondence with Kaveh following RIO II

It came up when I googled for Ahmad Fawzi in pursuit of content for another article – and decided that this was an exchange in 2012 that has renewed value today.

Afrasiabi gained a PhD in Political Science from Boston University in 1988, under the supervision of Professor Howard Zinn, with a thesis titled “State and Populism in Iran.”

Afrasiabi has taught political science at the University of Tehran, Boston University, and Bentley University. Afrasiabi has been a visiting scholar at Harvard University (1989-1990), University of California, Berkeley (2000-2001), Binghamton University (2001-2002) and the Center for Strategic Research, Tehran. During 2004-2005, Afrasiabi was involved in Iran as an advisor to Iran’s nuclear negotiation team.

Afrasiabi is a former consultant to the United Nations “Dialogue Among Civilizations”, for which he interviewed the former Iranian president, Mohammad Khatami.

Afrasiabi is a member of the advisory board of the Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran. Afrasiabi has authored numerous articles in scholarly journals and newspapers, including Harvard Theological Review, Harvard International Review, UN Chronicle, Boston Globe, Global Dialogue, Middle East Journal, Mediterranean Affairs, Brown’s Journal of World Affairs, International Herald Tribune, Der Tageszeit, Der Tagesspiegel, Journal of International Affairs, Telos, Nation Magazine, Asia times, Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, Monthly Review, as well as dozens of articles and letters in The New York Times. Afrasiabi has made dozens of television appearances as a Middle East expert on CNN, Aljazeera, Voice of America, PBS, BBC, PressTV, Russia Today, and other networks.

Selected works by Afrasiabi:
After Khomeini: New Directions in Iran’s Foreign Policy (1994)
Nir/North: A Cinematic Story about the Iran-Contra Affair (1996)
Infringements (1998)
Islam and Ecology (2003)
Iran’s Nuclear Program: Debating Facts Versus Fiction (2006)
Reading in Iran’s Foreign Policy After September 11 (2008)
Looking For Rights At Harvard (2010)
UN Management Reform (2011)
Iran Phobia and US Terror Plot: A Legal Deconstruction (2012)

A Controversy with Harvard that blew out of proportion in Boston:

Afrasiabi v. Mottahedeh

From 1996 to 2003, Afrasiabi was involved in a legal conflict with Roy Mottahedeh, former director of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University, who had been his superior during Afrasiabi’s time as a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard, and Harvard University itself.

The conflict started with an alleged extortion against Mottahedeh’s subordinates and a “pre-dawn” arrest of Afrasiabi by Harvard police, and terminated in 2003 with a civil rights case against Harvard, Mottahedeh and the Supreme Court of the United States, in which Afrasiabi acted as his own attorney. During associated controversies, Afrasiabi was supported by Mike Wallace of the US television program 60 Minutes, author David Mamet, linguist Noam Chomsky, and political scientist Howard Zinn, and former deputy prime minister of Iran, Farhang Mehr. In a video deposition, Mr. Wallace has defended Afrasiabi and accused professor Mottahedeh of making false statements to him about Afrasiabi. His “David and Goliath” battle with Harvard has been praised by Mike Wallace, who has stated “I admire Dr. Afrasiabi. He has been wronged. The cannons of Harvard are lined up against a pea shooter.”

June 2010 incident

On June 27, 2010, Afrasiabi went to the Zuzu restaurant in Cambridge, Massachusetts. According to Afrasiabi, employees there showed “racist and indecent behavior” and “treated him unprofessionally”, after which he exited the restaurant without finishing his meal nor paying for it. He approached some police standing nearby. A restaurant employee approached the police. The police then arrested Afrasiabi, on the basis of an outstanding warrant. Afrasiabi claims the warrant was issued in error, based on a 1986 unregistered vehicle incident, for which he had already paid the fines. The police claim it originated from an incident in 1999. Afrasiabi described the arrest taking place with “a racist attitude.” While in custody, Afrasiabi claims that he was denied the right to a telephone call to contact his family and/or a lawyer. He said that the police officers were racist and brutal, stating, “If I had blond hair and blue eyes and had an American-sounding last name, no, I wouldn’t have been subjected to this. They did this to me because they’re racist.”

In July 2010, Afrasiabi filed a formal complaint against Cambridge police alleging racism and physical injury in the hands of Cambridge police, who placed him under arrest after he had approached them to complain of being mistreated at a restaurant.[20] The basis for his arrest was an outstanding warrant for a 1986 ticket, which Afrasiabi claimed to have paid at the time. A judge in Newton, Massachusetts agreed with Afrasiabi and dismissed the warrant without imposing any fines. Afrasiabi has alleged that while being transported to a court the next day, he was deliberately injured when the police van slammed the break after driving in full speed, resulting in Afrasiabi’s multiple visits to hospitals. The Cambridge police initially claimed that Afrasiabi had walked out of a restaurant without paying and then changed their story, deleting any reference to the restaurant. In a letter to The Cambridge Chronicle, Afrasiabi has demanded an apology from the police for what he alleges is their racist and brutal mistreatment of him.


Upton, Geoffrey C. (1996-02-08). “Former Post-Doc Will Stand Trial; Afrasiabi Denies Extortion Charge, Cites ‘Mind-Blowing Conspiracy'”. Harvard University. Archived from the original on 2009-06-03. Retrieved 2009-06-04.……

Fathi, Nazila (2004-11-28). “Iran Reasserts Its Right to Enrich Uranium as Standoff Persists”. The New York Times.

Khatami, Mohammad; Kaveh L. Afrasiabi (2006-09-11). “Mohammad Khatami on the Dialogue Among Civilizations”. United Nations. Archived from the original on 2009-06-03. Retrieved 2009-06-03.

Afrasiabi, Kaveh L. (2005-02-17). “A letter to America”. Asia Times. Archived from the original on 2009-06-03. Retrieved 2009-06-03.

“KAVEH L. AFRASIABI, Plaintiff, Appellant, v. HARVARD UNIVERSITY; HARVARD UNIVERSITY POLICE DEPARTMENT; RICHARD W. MEDEROS; FRANCIS RILEY; LAUREEN DONAHUE; CENTER FOR MIDDLE EASTERN STUDIES; ROY P. MOTTAHEDEH; REZA ALAVI and SHOBHANA RANA, Defendants, Appellees.”. United States Court of Appeals. 2002-07-01. Archived from the original on 2009-06-03. Retrieved 2009-06-04.

“Between Mike Wallace and Me”.

“The David Mamet Society”.

“Reading Kafka at Harvard”.…

“Abused scholar: US police conspiring against me”. Press TV. 2010-07-01. Archived from the original on 2010-07-11. Retrieved 2010-07-11.

Guha, Auditi; Jen Thomas (2010-07-08). “Iranian pundit claims ‘police brutality’ in Cambridge”. Cambridge Chronicle. Archived from the original on 2010-07-11. Retrieved 2010-07-11.

“Veteran Iranian-American Professor Talks of US Police Brutality Against Him”. Hamsayeh.Net. 2010-07-02. Archived from the original on 2010-07-11. Retrieved 2010-07-10.……,…

So, of real interest is:

Kaveh L. Afrasiabi | Al Jazeera America
Kaveh L. Afrasiabi was an adviser to Iran’s nuclear negotiation team from 2004 to 2006 and is a co-author of the forthcoming book “Nuclear Iran: Accord and Détente Since the Geneva Agreement of 2013.”

He also wrote:

Aljazeera : Iran uses Hamas for leverage in nuclear negotiations
by Kaveh L. Afrasiabi & Nader Entessar August 13, 2014

Clinching a final deal with Iran
by Kaveh L. Afrasiabi May 20, 2014
Attachments area
Preview YouTube video Mike Wallace Defends Dr. Kaveh Afrasiabi

Afrasiabi’s correspondence with me – his showing interest in Sustainability, Sustainable Development, and Climate Change:

On May 16, 2012 I received the following e-mail:

Hello I am working on an article for UN Chronicle on Rio and after reading your article, can you please answer the following questions:
1. In your opinion, what will be the likely achievement of Rio?
2. What are the key dividing issues between north and south countries with respect to Rio + 20?
3. Can Rio actually reach a breakthrough on the unfulfilled commitments and if so how?
4. Is Rio destined to be another huge talking shop with lengthy resolutions for UN archives?

thank you.
Kaveh Afrasiabi

Those days, as always and even today, my argument was that Iran ought to be one of the leading nations on many positive issues including on Climate Change and the development of renewable energy. I argued thsi even with the man who is now Foreign Minister and was earlier Iran’s Ambassador to the UN. I said to him at the time that Iran stands to gain much more by being a leader in renewables then in posturing on the nuclear issue. Seemingly this came to the attention of Dr. Arasiabi.

My Immediate answer of May 17, 2012 Was:

1. In your opinion, what will be the likely achievement of Rio?
2. What are the key dividing issues between north and south countries with respect to Rio + 20?
3. Can Rio actually reach a breakthrough on the unfulfilled commitments and if so how?
4. Is Rio destined to be another huge talking shop with lengthy resolutions for UN archives?

I note that you probably think that the UN wants achievements and that there is a North and a South, and in this structure the North is wrong and the South is right.

You see, I was involved in the subjects of sustainability and planet earth since before these subjects became popular – actually I was fighting at the UN – the UN – because UN people planted in the system by home interests, like Ahmad Fawzi who was then high official at UN DPI, preferred to sweep away from sight any comment brought up by curious journalists that might have had implications regarding sales of oil.

So, to the point – it is all about Energy for All but Energy, as much as possible, that does not harm the Environment. Sustainability is the word behind Sustainable Development, and Sustainability is about future generations and not about our generation.

Because of a confluence of many different unrelated political and scientific events, in 1992, at Rio, indeed there were breakthroughs and good results – there was an Agenda 21 – intended for our present century, there were three conventions, there were excellent important Principles etc. After RIO 1992 – the apex of efforts – there was only decline. There was a Commission established for Sustainable Development so built that it slowly killed the subject – to the point that what was supposed to be in 2012 – the twenty year review of that RIO meeting – is not even mentioning Agenda 21.

What started as RIO+20 is a totally different event that reinvents the wheel and will start us on another set of negotiations rather then checking out what is still missing from implementation of Agenda 21.

How did we get here and who is to blame? Everybody is to blame. The old developed countries which are now in decline – they did not make space at the table, the G77 leadership – they had no use for Sustainability or any interest in the environment now – or future generations – that is the future. For them it was DEVELOPMENT NOW and nothing else.

So, now you have the BRIC countries – China, Brazil, India, Russia – in this order – no S yet for South Africa – that are the new Money Rich countries that dominate the old industrialized countries, and you have a new list of evolving countries – Korea, Mexico, Indonesia, Turkey, Poland – add to this others like UAE, Singapore, Hong Kong and you get interests that are very different from those of Bangladesh, Mauritius, Bolivia, Ecuador, Argentina, Grenada, Fiji, etc. who are liberating themselves from what nominally is still the G77 – this because they feel betrayed and left to fend for themselves on the issue of climate change. Civil Society is also waking up and there are calls for bringing back the UN to “We the people” from we the despot governments.”

If you read up to here you will see that your questions had a wrong base.

Now to specifics in your questions – and if you want to use this in the UN Chronicle – please use the introductory logic as well.

1. Rio will achieve a lot – it will show the governments nakedness.

2. There is no North-South divide in Rio of 2012. There is a divide between uncontrolled development and readjusted development that satisfies needs. We will see the start of moves to displace the GDP fixture from ways of measuring growth. We will hear of human needs, of continuing the MDGs with a set of SDGs. We will hear from those afflicted with climate change to have us all start on a path of culture change with an eye to Mother Earth.

3. What you call the North is financially bankrupt. Financial commitments will have to be shared and development will have to mean local development – like production of local foods and undoing some of the effects of giveaways that ruined local economies in the South – specially the previously rather successful small farms. In the North they will have to relearn manufacturing.

4. Yes, the intent was to have a talk fest – but this is being curtailed as what was a two week event in 1992 is now a three days event. The talking will have to be done ahead of those days June 20-22, 2012. If the document will not have been whittled down to a concise set of principles, the Brazilians have in reserve the June 16-19, 2012 days of the RioDialogues that will produce 30 recommendations chiseled in Civil Society negotiations. The Heads of State that will spend 2 days in Rio will have the opportunity to create new content – government based and civil society based – and give birth to a product – right there or via a future process to be started in September at the GA.

So, will there be clear decisions? Not so fast.
Will there be a modicum of success – Yes.
Will the UN stay the same – No! and that is the main achievement of this misnamed event that the UN calls Rio+20.
Will governments learn that people count? Any misbehavior has its price – even if change comes slow.

So, that is what I think.

All the best to you,
Pincas Jawetz



 afrasiabik at to me May 17, 2012

Thanks so here s my real question;
What can third world leaders from iran bolivia etc do to make a real splash in rio? I would appreciate an answer. I was thinking of an ad hoc sub group making joint statement beyond the resolution etc.

Sent on the Sprint® Now Network from my BlackBerry®

and my answer:

Real fast answer – as you can see from my website – I do not shy away from the two countries you mention – an ALBA button is right there in front of my website. Having made that remark – I would suggest that specifically these two countries would be best advised to keep out of the limelight.

For AlLBA – it is Ecuador with some help from Argentina and Chile – that speaks up and that is perfect.

Then, for the best of the countries in trouble spoke recently Bangladesh, Fiji, Grenada, Costa Rica, even Mexico.

Subjects like the issue of going to the International Court of Justice for transnational pollution and climate change, and the effects on the poorest countries – these are subjects that can make a splash.

Also, backing A SMALL OFFICE of a UN Commissioner for Future Generations and the need to do away with the GDP as yardstick for Growth, and some reference to Well Being and Happiness that are not based on consumption (the Bhutan concept) are good topics where your two named countries could be seconds if someone else leeds.

Bolivia has done very well in the past by pushing the Pacha Mama, but Iran has never understood that it had a great pre-Islamic past and thus failed to establish real leadership of any kind.

While Bolivia’s problem is that it pushed too hard, Iran’ problem is that it did not push at all its culture of the past and militancy is not what the UN is about. In both cases what I really talk about – is a real push of culture for the 21-st century.


and the third round of that day:

From Kaveh Afrasiabi to me:

How about int environmental court championed by morales?
Sent on the Sprint® Now Network from my BlackBerry®

and my answer:

I really think now that I gave you enough, and basically – all that material is indeed on my web because these are the things that made me decide to keep the site going. In my book – Copenhagen was the last place that saw progress – and that was thanks to Obama who brought in the Chinese for the first time, and they brought in the IBSA as well.



followed by:

Many thanks i will quote you in my piece and send y link
Sent on the Sprint® Now Network from my BlackBerry®

and the following day:

I have a small book on un reform it s’at un bookshop. Fyi
Sent on the Sprint® Now Network from my BlackBerry®

Having found this by accident, I intend now to restart that contact
to find out what the gentleman is doing these days.


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