Search Results for: Iran

The Twilight of the Iranian Revolution

Longreads Pick

“Even as Iranians speculate about who will succeed Khamenei, many believe that, whoever becomes Supreme Leader, the revolution is no longer salvageable.”

Source: New Yorker
Published: May 18, 2020
Length: 39 minutes (9,920 words)

All That Was Innocent and Violent: Girlhood in Post-Revolution Iran

Longreads Pick

Naz Riahi recalls her vibrant childhood in a suburb of Tehran, and considers how the harsh realities imposed by the still new Islamic Republic seeped into her family’s life.

Author: Naz Riahi
Source: Longreads
Published: Mar 18, 2020
Length: 29 minutes (7,251 words)

All that Was Innocent and Violent: Girlhood in Post-Revolution Iran

Photo courtesy of the author, Mel Yates / Getty, iStock / Getty Images Plus, Photo illustration by Katie Kosma

Naz Riahi | Longreads | March 2020 | 29 minutes (7,251 words)

A few months after I was born, just a year after The Islamic Revolution, Shee Shee and Baba bought a house and moved, with my 12-year-old brother and me, to Karaj, a suburb of Tehran.

They moved to the suburb, in part, for the same reasons many young couples with children everywhere in the world, do — for space and a quiet place to raise their family. They moved also to get away from the chaos of Tehran, a city that was changing rapidly, seemingly overnight, after The Revolution — becoming overbearing with rules, regulations and unexpected dangers.

They found refuge in a private development called Dehkadeh. Built a few years before our move, in the mid ‘70s, Dehkadeh had a guarded entrance and a town square. Its streets, named after flowers, were lined with white birch — regal, gentle. Over the years, the birch grew tall, bending towards each other, creating a canopy. In the hot summers, they shaded us, letting just enough light stream through their leaves. In autumn those same leaves changed color and fell to the ground, turning our streets into rivers of reds and yellows. In the winters, their bare branches were covered in snow and icicles.

The town square had a sandwich shop, a grocery store and bakery. There was a fountain in the middle and a sit-down restaurant — which, shortly after we moved, was taken over by the government and turned into a mosque. All of the businesses, including the local bus line, were owned by people who lived in the community, comprising 700 or so houses. My pediatrician was a family friend who lived a few doors down from us, the elementary school I would eventually attend was at the end of our cul-de-sac and all of the teachers lived in Dehkadeh.

That was home. An hour’s drive to the city, but a different world, less hectic, safer (for a time) like a secret that protected us from all the bad, scary things happening in Iran — the war with Iraq, the new government that brutally enforced theocracy, the people whose allegiances weren’t known and who therefore couldn’t be trusted.

We lived on Niloufar Gharby (Water Lily West). Our tiny, single-story ranch-style house had a white metal gate that creaked open and shut and was surrounded by hedges thick with honeysuckle whose fragrance and nectar I’d lose myself in, daydreaming about all the happy lives I’d live someday. I’d become a writer like my grandfather, Baba Moeini, revered as he was. I’d travel the world like Shee Shee and Baba had done before The Revolution, before I was born. I’d be the hero of a real life story like my favorite superheroes, the ones I’d learned about on bootleg videos procured by my aunt’s husband on the post-Revoution black market, where everything from Corn Flakes to Michael Jackson tapes could still be found.

Our backyard was large and filled with fruit trees — peaches, nectarines, sour cherries, apples, and plums. A trellis ran down the middle, covered in grape leaves, and a white swing sat under an enormous weeping willow. There were rows and rows of strawberries in the field, and rose bushes beneath the windows.

Between the time I was a toddler and a child, my parents tore apart the back of our house to expand the living room and give me my own bedroom adjacent to theirs. I remember the excitement of getting a room of my own, but when construction ended and a big-girl bed arrived, I was horribly afraid to be alone at night. Though my parents’ room was just on the other side of my door, I felt abandoned. I remember Baba putting me to bed, tucking me in, and telling me to be brave.

For Baba, a helicopter pilot and soldier who was often away fighting in an actual war, bravery was a person’s greatest asset. His bedtime stories were rich with heroes fighting dangerous forces. I tried hard to be brave for him, but fell asleep each night a coward, hiding beneath my comforter from the night and its invisible dangers.

I took my first steps in the hallway in front of my older brother’s room. Shee Shee insists there is no way I could remember. But I do. I remember falling into an uncle’s arms. After that, the memories rush in.
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Miranda’s Rebellion

Longreads Pick
Published: Mar 29, 2020
Length: 19 minutes (4,976 words)

‘I Want Every Sentence To Be Doing Work’: An Interview with Miranda Popkey

Moon on the sea.

Zan Romanoff | Longreads | February 2020 | 17 minutes (4,459 words)


“What I’m trying to say,” the narrator explains midway through Miranda Popkey’s debut novel, Topics of Conversation, “the theorem that must be accepted as a premise if any of my behavior is going to make sense, is that I have been, that I continue to be, best at being a vessel for the desire of others.”

Indeed, this nameless narrator spends much of the novel relating other people’s stories about their lives: repeating a conversation with a friend’s mother about an affair she had in her 20s, or describing a YouTube video of a woman recounting a party at which she almost witnessed the writer Norman Mailer stabbing his wife. (The stabbing is real; the video, fictional.)

But she also, more and less incidentally, reveals herself as her own life unfolds in short story-like sections that cover the period from 2000 to 2017: her ambivalence about all of the stories she’s hearing, and the way that they shape her actions and her perception of her self.

I’ve known Miranda since we were teenagers: we met in a dining hall our freshman year of college. (Ask her about it, she loves to tell this story, which begins with me being unable to work a hot water dispenser.) Over the course of the fifteen years we’ve known each other, we’ve talked endlessly about the topics her novel covers: about narrative and its pitfalls, desire and its darknesses, whether it’s possible to ever really be sure of what you feel, or think, or want. So of course I had to get her on the record for Longreads, to talk to her about how all of that talking — with me and with everyone else in her life — had finally led her to this book. Read more…

“Set Up For Failure”: How Iran Captured 10 US Sailors at Farsi Island

Riverine Command Boats (RCB) 802 and 805 participate in a bi-lateral exercise with Kuwait naval forces in the Arabian Gulf. Photo by US Navy via Sipa USA

Despite the United States Navy’s insistence that “U.S. Navy Forces deployed globally are ready in all respects,” ProPublica’s ongoing investigation into the Navy’s combat readiness has revealed otherwise.

In the latest installment, Megan Rose, Robert Faturechi, and T. Christian Miller report on how failures up and down the Navy’s chain of command, coupled with a toxic “can’t say no” leadership culture, contributed to 10 US sailors getting captured by Iran in January, 2016, after navigational and mechanical glitches put their ill-suited vessel into Iran’s territorial waters.

In the wake of the Farsi Island incident, the outlines of the Navy’s fumbles were widely reported. But ProPublica reconstructed the failed mission, and the Navy’s response to it, using hundreds of pages of previously unreported confidential Navy documents, including the accounts of sailors and officers up and down the chain of command. Those documents reveal that the 10 captured sailors were forced out on dangerous missions they were not prepared for. Their commanders repeatedly dismissed worries about deficiencies in manpower and expertise.

Foley spotted a blue flag atop one of the boats. He pulled out a Navy reference manual. The flag belonged to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Foley shouted that the men were Iranians.

Nartker was holding up a wrench and pointing at his engine to indicate to the Iranians that his boat was in need of repair.

Inside the engine room, Escobedo made quick work of the repairs on the water pump and then started up the engines. With each movement, the more maneuverable Iranian boats blocked him and the men aboard them racked their weapons. He could see them squeezing their triggers.

“Stop boat!” they yelled. “Stop boat!”

Nartker decided to ignore the shouting men.

“Go!” he yelled at Escobedo.

Escobedo believed that if he followed the order, the Iranians would begin firing. He thought the rounds would cut clean through their boat. Someone was going to get killed. Rather than gunning the boat, Escobedo simply looked at Nartker: “Sir.”

Nartker later told Navy investigators that he had considered grabbing his M4 assault rifle and trying to shoot his way out. But he thought that if he began shooting he could start a war. He had never received a briefing on the region from the Navy, but he had been reading The Economist magazine. He knew about the looming nuclear accord.

Nartker’s superior officers had ignored protests. They had assigned him a mission beyond the capabilities of the gunboats. And they ordered him to proceed, even knowing about the shoddy equipment and the late start.

It was wrong to punish him, when so many others shared responsibility. Nartker, Fuselier wrote, “was set up for failure.”

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Trump Keeps Talking About the Last Military Standoff With Iran — Here’s What Really Happened

Longreads Pick

“In 2016, 10 sailors were captured by Iran. Trump is making it a political issue. Our investigation shows that it was a Navy failure, and the problems run deep.”

Source: ProPublica
Published: Jun 24, 2019
Length: 25 minutes (6,260 words)

Befriending My Iranian Instagram Hacker

Brian A. Jackson (Getty Images)

After her sought-after, five-letter Instagram handle was stolen by an Iranian hacker, professor Negar Mottahedeh opened up the door to her former homeland, striking up an unlikely friendship with the thief to learn more about a man struggling to earn a living in an economy compromised by 35 years of U.S.-led sanctions. Read the story at Backchannel.

How good of a hacker was he, really? Who were his friends? What sorts of things did he enjoy? What were he and Negar like when they were together? Not knowing him unsettled me. So I was determined to find out.

Mohamad was curious about me, too. It was odd, considering that I was much older than him. It felt like he wanted a trusted friend—someone he could use as a sounding board. He chose me.

He needed money, but more than that, he wanted to find a way out of Iran. He asked me about student visas, tourist visas, work visas; he’d send me links or screenshots with sections circled in red ink, asking me to read through them for him. He discussed his marriage options. Could he find an American girl to marry so he could stay in the US after he got there? Or could I maybe adopt him?

But by robbing me of my online identity, my hacker had unshuttered a window to life in the country of my birth. While I had been barred from my home as a young child, my new setting was chock-full of luck. With my Instagram hacker in my life, my fortuitous situation stared me in the face. Looking at myself through his eyes, my life was abundant. I felt fortunate. I wasn’t about to give up the friendship I had forged with my hacker for anything.

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How to Write Iranian-America, or The Last Essay

Longreads Pick

Porochista Khakpour reflects on her desire to write — at first about anything other than Iranian-America. Deeply conflicted about speaking from her perspective as an Iranian-American, she says, “Remind yourself that when the performance is honest two things happen: The essay will feel like it’s killing you and the ending will not be what you thought it might be. Learn to respect more than resent those parallel planes of living and the rendering of living.”

Source: Catapult
Published: May 18, 2017
Length: 15 minutes (3,944 words)