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Iranian Alert -- October 28, 2003 -- IRAN LIVE THREAD PING LIST
The Iranian Student Movement Up To The Minute Reports ^
Posted on 10/28/2003 12:04:15 AM PST by DoctorZIn
The US media almost entirely ignores news regarding the Islamic Republic of Iran. As Tony Snow of the Fox News Network has put it, this is probably the most under-reported news story of the year. But most Americans are unaware that the Islamic Republic of Iran is NOT supported by the masses of Iranians today. Modern Iranians are among the most pro-American in the Middle East.
There is a popular revolt against the Iranian regime brewing in Iran today. Starting June 10th of this year, Iranians have begun taking to the streets to express their desire for a regime change. Most want to replace the regime with a secular democracy. Many even want the US to over throw their government.
The regime is working hard to keep the news about the protest movement in Iran from being reported. Unfortunately, the regime has successfully prohibited western news reporters from covering the demonstrations. The voices of discontent within Iran are sometime murdered, more often imprisoned. Still the people continue to take to the streets to demonstrate against the regime.
In support of this revolt, Iranians in America have been broadcasting news stories by satellite into Iran. This 21st century news link has greatly encouraged these protests. The regime has been attempting to jam the signals, and locate the satellite dishes. Still the people violate the law and listen to these broadcasts. Iranians also use the Internet and the regime attempts to block their access to news against the regime. In spite of this, many Iranians inside of Iran read these posts daily to keep informed of the events in their own country.
This daily thread contains nearly all of the English news reports on Iran. It is thorough. If you follow this thread you will witness, I believe, the transformation of a nation. This daily thread provides a central place where those interested in the events in Iran can find the best news and commentary. The news stories and commentary will from time to time include material from the regime itself. But if you read the post you will discover for yourself, the real story of what is occurring in Iran and its effects on the war on terror.
I am not of Iranian heritage. I am an American committed to supporting the efforts of those in Iran seeking to replace their government with a secular democracy. I am in contact with leaders of the Iranian community here in the United States and in Iran itself.
If you read the daily posts you will gain a better understanding of the US war on terrorism, the Middle East and why we need to support a change of regime in Iran. Feel free to ask your questions and post news stories you discover in the weeks to come.
If all goes well Iran will be free soon and I am convinced become a major ally in the war on terrorism. The regime will fall. Iran will be free. It is just a matter of time.
PS I have a daily ping list and a breaking news ping list. If you would like to receive alerts to these stories please let me know which list you would like to join.
TOPICS: Extended News; Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: iaea; iran; iranianalert; protests; southasia; studentmovement; studentprotest
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posted on 10/28/2003 12:04:16 AM PST
Anyone that bothered to read Michael Ledeen would know!
posted on 10/28/2003 12:06:21 AM PST
(I'm a conservative...not necessarily a Republican.)
To: Pan_Yans Wife; fat city; freedom44; Tamsey; Grampa Dave; PhiKapMom; McGavin999; Hinoki Cypress; ...
Join Us At Today's Iranian Alert Thread The Most Underreported Story Of The Year!
"If you want on or off this Iran ping list, Freepmail DoctorZin
posted on 10/28/2003 12:08:01 AM PST
Iran: it knew al Qaeda terror before rest of world
By Evelyn Leopold
UNITED NATIONS, Oct 27 (Reuters) -
Defending its handling of terror networks, Iran told the United Nations it had warned the world of the "fanatic nature" of the Taliban and al Qaeda networks before anyone else, according to a report released on Monday.
Iran submitted the report to a U.N. Security Council sanctions committee on Afghanistan about a month ago and parts of it are still not translated, including a list of 147 suspects arrested and handed over to their respective embassies and 2,343 people extradited to Pakistan.
As Afghanistan's neighbor, Iran had for years opposed the former Taliban rulers, which harbored Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network, held responsible for the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.
Still, U.S. counterterrorism officials say a handful of senior al Qaeda operatives fled to Iran after the Afghan war and may have a relationship with a military unit linked to Tehran's religious hardliners.
"The Islamic Republic of Iran did not authorize any sort of activity by the Taliban, Osama bin Laden or al Qaeda in its territory from the early days of their domination over Afghanistan due to their sectarian, reactionary and fanatic nature," the Tehran government said in the report.
"Moreover, proper warnings were issued by the Islamic Republic of Iran to the international community regarding the threat they posed against regional and international peace and security," the report said."
In Washington, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said Iran should turn over members of al Qaeda to the United States and not just publicize a list of them.
"Iran has in the past turned over some al Qaeda to third countries. However, frankly, we're not aware of any particular progress with regards to the al Qaeda who are currently in detention," Boucher said.
"And the Iranians have previously stated that that includes senior al Qaeda officials," he added.
The eight-page letter from Iran answers 25 questions the committee had submitted to all nations. The panel's task is to enforce an embargo on travel and arms deals and a freeze on the financial assets of the Taliban, al Qaeda and its associates.
So far the panel's list includes about 123 people and 98 groups or businesses associated with al Qaeda and another 151 people linked to the Taliban. Most of the names have been submitted by the United States, which has to agree before anyone can remove a suspect from the roster.
An independent U.N. panel has criticized the list, saying it contains many misspellings and was compiled with little due process. At the moment any Security Council member can put anyone on the list, with recourse for the accused difficult. http://c.moreover.com/click/here.pl?l98224775
posted on 10/28/2003 12:42:04 AM PST
Iran, Canada ties solid, cordial
IRIB English News
Gorgan, Oct 28 - Head of Ontario's Chamber of Commerce Tom Smith said here Monday that Iran and Canada enjoy solid and cordial ties and "occasional developments cannot sway these relations,".
Speaking at the gathering of the board of directors of the provincial chamber of commerce, industries and mines (CCIM) Smith said "People in both countries who value such relations will not let them become acrimonious."
"We should not let some issues get of hand and become a crisis," he added.
Smith further lauded the Iranian character and hospitality saying "Negative publicity by some international media has not tarnished the image of Iran among the Canadian public."
He underscored economic and trade between Tehran and Ottawa as pivotal in further cementing bilateral ties in other areas, saying "The privatization drive in Iran has been positive."
He also said his trip to the northern province is to assess the investment capabilities and potentials in the province. http://www.iribnews.com/Full_en.asp?news_id=191235&n=15
posted on 10/28/2003 1:33:15 AM PST
by F14 Pilot
To: DoctorZIn; McGavin999; Eala; AdmSmith; dixiechick2000; nuconvert; onyx; Pro-Bush; Valin; ...
Iran's Security Dilemma
YaleGlobal, 27 October 2003
WASHINGTON: Iran's apparent willingness to prove it is not seeking nuclear weapons shows that the international security system can function effectively. Encouraged by the United States, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has relentlessly investigated Iran's suspicious nuclear activities. After initial inquiries yielded inconclusive results, the governors of the IAEA imposed a firm deadline for Iran to clarify past actions, allow unfettered future inspections, and suspend work related to producing bomb-quality materials. Faced with potential pariahdom and sanction, Iranian leaders sought a deal. British, French, and German officials then stepped in as Good Cops, insisting that Iran come clean and straighten up, promising benefits if it does. The Bush Administration played the vital role of Bad Cop, looming in the background - almost hoping that Iran would be defiant so the US could punish it.
The agreement reached on October 21 only suspends Iran's most troubling nuclear activity, but does not stop it. As the chief Iranian negotiator, Hasan Rohani, put it, "As long as Iran thinks this suspension is beneficial it will continue, and whenever we don't want it we will end it." The bargaining is just beginning.
Iran's assertion that it wants nuclear technology only to produce electricity and other civilian services offers the easiest path to a resolution. The Europeans already have hinted at a deal whereby Iran would permanently abandon indigenous production of dual-use nuclear fuels. Because this permanent abandonment would go further than any state is required to go under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, Iran would want compensatory benefits. To this end, the international community could accept completion of the Iranian-Russian nuclear power plant at Bushehr, with guarantees that Russia or other international producers would supply the fuel for the reactor. After the fuel has been "burned," it would be shipped back to Russia, removing the plutonium contained within it.
A nuclear-energy based bargain will work only if Iran and the US are willing to treat the nuclear crisis in isolation. However, this outcome is highly unlikely. This is because, among other reasons, the Bush Administration refuses to un-bundle its demands of Iran. It finds even the one reactor at Bushehr intolerable, notwithstanding an arrangement to ship spent fuel to Russia. The Administration also demands that Iran cease all support of terrorist activities and organizations, and stop interfering in what is left of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Some in the Administration go further and say that only regime change in Iran will satisfy the US. By insisting that all of these sensible objectives be met before making any concessions to Iran, Washington could spoil a "win-win" deal on just the nuclear issue.
Iranians also want more than a tidy nuclear-only deal. Despite official claims, Iran's interest in nuclear weapons may be offensive. More likely, though, it is to deter coercion by the US, Israel, a new Iraq or other actors, and to earn the respect that seems to come with nuclear weapons. A wide range of Iranians resent the perceived arrogance and hegemony of the US government, loathe the double standard surrounding Israel's possession of nuclear weapons and treatment of the Palestinians, fear US control and military presence in Iraq, and want the deference now accorded to neighboring nuclear Pakistan.
In the October 21 Iran-EU foreign ministers' agreement, Iran insisted on a clause calling for "security and stability in the region including the establishment of a zone free from weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East." This formulation, overlooked in commentaries on the agreement, shows that Iran sees the nuclear issue as more than an energy problem.
Ultimately, American and Iranian officials want more from each other than a nuclear bargain. However, the appalling state of US-Iran communications and diplomacy leaves both states unable to resolve a number of classic security dilemmas.
One of the most significant such dilemmas is the US presence in Iraq and Afghanistan. Saddam Hussein's Iraq was the gravest threat to Iran's security, followed by the Taliban government and its brand of Sunni extremism. The United States removed both threats. Iran should, therefore, feel that its security position has improved significantly. This in turn should reduce Iran's perceived interest in acquiring nuclear weapons capabilities.
However, many Iranians see the same reality from an entirely different viewpoint. Instead of Saddam Hussein's regime, Iran now confronts on its western and eastern borders the most powerful military in the history of the world and a radical ideological government in Washington bent on overturning governments like Iran's. The American presence surrounding Iran has not improved security but rather has put a dagger to Iran's front and back. If ever a country needs nuclear weapons to deter a stronger adversary, it is Iran.
But perhaps the crucial dilemma for Iranian and American officials concerns the question of regime change. Iranian citizens essentially have voted for regime change several times and have not obtained it. The unelected Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamene'I, as well as the judiciary and security apparatus he controls, have prevented the elected president and parliament from directing the state. Unfortunately, these unelected men determine whether Iran will seek nuclear weapons, conduct terrorism, or recognize Israel's right to exist. Few inside or out of Iran believe the US can or should remove this regime. Thus, if vital international problems need to be resolved now, there is little choice but to deal with the people who have power in Iran.
Important members of the Bush Administration disagree and refuse to make deals with an "evil" regime. This raises another acute dilemma for Iranian decision-makers. They ask, "Why should we make concessions to the US, including surrendering nuclear capabilities to which we are legally entitled, if they are going to overthrow us anyway?" The prospect of US-pushed regime change is a reason to seek a nuclear deterrent, not to give one up, from this view.
There is a clear response to this argument, of course. Iran will not face military threats to deter if it does not acquire weapons of mass destruction and abet terrorism. And the US and Iran share interest in a future Iraq that poses no threat to Iran as long as Iran poses no threat to a representative, multi-cultural Iraq. But only diplomacy will be able to resolve the current destabilizing US-Iran security dilemma.
The Iran-EU deal last week could be the beginning of a process of reciprocal reassurance that could address the larger issues affecting Iran's nuclear ambitions. Clearly, though, a broader initiative is needed to involve relevant actors - EU leaders, the US, Iran, and other regional states - in a diplomatic process to clarify intentions and set out principles and practices that will promote regional security at the lowest cost. Buffered by this larger mix, US and Iranian officials could address the specific grievances that fuel their worst-case assumptions about each other.
George Perkovich is vice president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and author of "India's Nuclear Bomb" and other studies on nuclear proliferation in Iran, Pakistan, and India.
© 2003 Yale Center for the Study of Globalization http://yaleglobal.yale.edu/display.article?id=2686
posted on 10/28/2003 1:38:32 AM PST
by F14 Pilot
Israel, U.S. Skeptical About Pact Ending Iran Nuke
October 28, 2003
Both Israel and the United States are skeptical about an agreement on Iran's nuclear program that Tehran concluded last week with three European foreign ministers.
Under the deal, Iran would freeze its uranium enrichment program and increase international supervision of its nuclear facilities by signing the additional protocol to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, which permits surprise inspections. It also promised to give the International Atomic Energy Agency full details of its nuclear program by the October 31 deadline that the agency has set for such action.
But a senior Israeli intelligence official told Haaretz that "the Iranians are sending utterly contradictory messages to the Europeans and to their domestic arena. For domestic consumption, the Tehran leadership is already explaining that this is only a temporary halt.
"It is already possible to conclude with certainty that the Iranians have lied once again," the official continued. "Domestically, they describe their commitment to the Europeans as a temporary halt. They are not giving up their capabilities, but freezing them for a limited period.
"What [the IAEA] demanded of the Iranians was ... cancellation of their enrichment program," he added. "[The agency] should not accept any attempt on [the Iranians'] part to play around with this issue and make do with a temporary freeze."
However, the official said, the agreement did highlight the efficacy of European economic pressure on Iran.
According to a report published in the American journal Newsweek Monday, President George Bush's advisers are similarly skeptical about the deal. According to the report, the American administration believes that the Iranian regime is essentially comprised of three independent power centers: the moderates, headed by President Mohammed Khatami; the hardliners, headed by supreme spiritual leader Ali Khamenei; and an even more extreme faction comprised of clerics and intelligence officials. This third group has engaged in various extremist activities on the sly, including massive support for terrorist organizations, and the administration is thus not convinced that Khatami's government could enforce a nuclear freeze even if it sincerely wanted one.
Major General Aharon Ze'evi, the head of Israeli Military Intelligence, said this week in an interview with the journal of the Intelligence Heritage Center that he views the chances of halting Iran's nuclear program as "extremely low." Iran, he said, has been actively engaged in concealing this program, and to date, international efforts to halt it have had very partial success. http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/pages/ShArt.jhtml?itemNo=354464&contrassID=1&subContrassID=5&sbSubContrassID=0&listSrc=Y
posted on 10/28/2003 2:18:29 AM PST
Child Refugee Sues Australian Government
October 28, 2003
An eight-year-old Iranian refugee whose plight ignited a bitter immigration row in Australia launched a civil suit yesterday against the government, claiming that he suffered severe mental health problems caused by his time in detention.
Shayan Badraie, who arrived with his parents and sister at Ashmore Reef, 520 miles west of Darwin, in March 2000, could receive a payout of up to A$1m (£400,000) if he wins his case.
His mother, Zahra, told the Guardian that he was deeply affected when he witnessed riots being broken up by water-cannon in the Woomera detention centre.
He later saw one man threatening to throw himself from a tree, one threatening to cut his chest with a shard of glass, and another who appeared to be dead after slashing his wrists.
"He doesn't like going out from his room, he doesn't like talking with people, is not eating very well and he gets flashbacks of these things," she said. "In the night time he has dreams of these things, wetting his bed."
A recent article in the Medical Journal of Australia found that his experience in detention had left him with acute, possibly chronic, post-traumatic stress disorder. "He described bad dreams about officers taking his father to jail, and people cutting children with glass. The only drawing he produced in which the figures were not covered with bars was one of 'the man who cut himself'," the authors said.
More serious attacks are still triggered off when Shayan sees tall fences, men in uniform, news or other reminders of detention. He refuses to eat or talk and becomes convinced that immigration officials want to take him away.
The attacks often occur weekly and can take up to a week to subside.
One occurred several months ago when the family were shopping and Shayan saw a police car with wire riot-screens across the windows. "He remembered when they took him to hospital in something like that car, and he was scared," his mother said. "He was depressed and for a few days he was very bad."
Medical advice in May 2001 said that Shayan should be placed in a more normal environment and remain together with his family, but it was to be 15 months before the family was finally reunited outside of detention.
Their lawyer, Josh Bornstein, blamed his situation on the intransigence of the immigration department.
"Incarcerating a five-year-old is an instance of child abuse of an institutional kind," he said. "There is a very strong theme running through the medical evidence that this boy will be scarred forever, attributable in particular to his age when he suffered the incarceration."
The former immigration minister Philip Ruddock said his department had simply applied the law. "The fact is that the Migration Act provides a basis under which people who enter Australia ... without a visa will be dealt with," he said.
Mr Ruddock, who is now attorney general, announced plans yesterday to cut the rights of refugees to appeal against asylum decisions.
Shayan's plight was brought to public attention when Dr Aamer Sultan, an Iraqi doctor detained in Villawood, smuggled a video camera into the camp for a television documentary. Broadcast in the week of the September 11 attacks, and less than a month after Australia refused to accept a boat-load of 450 refugees during the Tampa crisis, it provoked a public outcry.
In an interview at the time about the family's case, Mr Ruddock insisted on referring to Shayan as "it".
Rightwing columnists castigated Shayan's family, claiming that his father, Saeed, was a member of Iran's revolutionary guards. In fact, the family had fled Iran after being persecuted for their adherence to al-Haqq, a Sufi creed regarded as heretical by the Iranian government.
Shayan was first put in hospital when he stopped eating and drinking in May 2001. Doctors decided to discharge him to Sydney's Villawood detention centre after two months, feeling that the separation from his family was exacerbating his condition. But in the four subsequent weeks he was rushed to hospital six times, suffering from dehydration caused by refusing food and water.
After the broadcast of the documentary in September 2001, he was removed to the care of a foster family for four months - an experience his mother describes as being worse than detention.
She and his sister were finally allowed out of Villawood in January last year, and the family moved to a two-bedroom flat in western Sydney on temporary visas after his father was freed last August.
Jacqueline Everitt, a lawyer who has worked with the family since they arrived in Villawood, said that Mr Ruddock was personally responsible for Shayan's situation. "All the way through this, Ruddock was able to exercise his power of discretion to follow medical advice and do what was best for this child, but he refused to do it," she said.
Shayan's case is the first lawsuit in Australia brought by a refugee seeking compensation for their experience in detention. But more than 200 children remain in detention and activists say the case could be the tip of the iceberg.
"Imagine how many kids have been through this system in the past 10 years," said Dr Aamer Sultan. http://www.guardian.co.uk/Refugees_in_Britain/Story/0,2763,1072508,00.html
posted on 10/28/2003 2:19:33 AM PST
Halliburton Won't Back Off Doing Biz In Iran
October 28, 2003
Halliburton Corp., the oil field services company once headed by Vice President Dick Cheney, told the New York City Comptrollers office Monday that it wont scale back its business dealings in Iran, despite concerns from the Citys Comptroller William Thompson about corporate ties to states sponsoring terrorist activity, which could force the New York Citys Police and Fire Departments to pull its $23 million investment in the company.
The Comptrollers office, on behalf of the New York City Police and Fire Department pension funds, in a resolution last March urged the boards of directors of Halliburton and General Electric and ConocoPhillips to set up committees to review its operations in terror-linked countries, specifically Iran. Halliburton helps build drilling rigs in Iran's southern oil field.
Thompson accused the firms of setting up offshore and United Kingdom subsidiaries to sidestep U.S. laws against doing business with Iran and Syria countries that Washington says sponsor "terrorism." Shareholder value is threatened by possible negative publicity, public protests and a loss of consumer confidence, he said.
Wendy Hall, a spokeswoman for Halliburton, said in an interview Monday that Halliburton set up an in-house committee to study whether the companys business dealings in Iran has helped fund terrorist activities. Hall said Halliburton finalized a report and sent it to its board of directors and to the Comptrollers office, which oversees the police and fire departments pension funds.
The report details the companys limited work in Iran, Hall said. We believe that decisions as to the nature of such governments and their actions are better made by governmental authorities and international entities such as the United Nations as opposed to individual persons or companies. Putting politics aside, we and our affiliates operate in countries, to the extent it is legally permissible, where our customers are active as they expect us to provide oilfield services support to their international operations.
We do not always agree with policies or actions of governments in every place that we do business and make no excuses for their behaviors. Due to the long-term nature of our business and the inevitability of political and social change, it is neither prudent nor appropriate for our company to establish our own country-by-country foreign policy.
A spokesman for the Comptrollers office said Monday that the Halliburton report was received from the company but officials havent looked it over yet. Its unclear whether the pension funds will remove their investments in Halliburton because the company does business in Iran. However, the spokesman said Thompson hasnt changed his stance on the issue and is unsure whether the pension funds will continue to invest with Halliburton.
Halliburton has been a lightning rod for criticism by Democrats in Congress ever since it won a multibillion no-bid contract to rebuild Iraqs infrastructure after the war started there in March. Last week, Congressman Henry Waxman, D-California, accused Halliburton of gouging U.S. taxpayers by charging inflated prices to import gasoline into Iraq. Hall vehemently denied the accusation and Halliburtons Chief Executive, David Lesar, sent an email to the companys employees urging them to write to their local newspapers to tout Halliburton in a favorable light as a result of the negative publicity.
Shortly after major combat in Iraq ended in April, President Bush accused Iran of giving safe-haven to al Qaeda terrorists linked to Osama Bin Laden, the mastermind behind the 9-11 terrorist attacks, as well as remnants of former Iraqi President Saddam Husseins Baathist regime. Many hardliners in the White House view Iran as the next target on the war on terrorism. The White House has also given financial support to Iranians seeking to overthrow Irans government.
If the war in the Middle East were to spread to Iran, Halliburton stands to earn billions of dollars in reconstruction efforts there because it already has a presence in the country and its expertise in rebuilding war-torn countries which dates back more than forty years.
Halliburton first started doing business in Iran as early as 1995, while Vice President Cheney was chief executive of the company and in possible violation of U.S. sanctions.
According to a February 2001 report in the Wall Street Journal, U.S. laws have banned most American commerce with Iran. Halliburton Products & Services Ltd. works behind an unmarked door on the ninth floor of a new north Tehran tower block. A brochure declares that the company was registered in 1975 in the Cayman Islands, is based in the Persian Gulf sheikdom of Dubai and is "non-American." But, like the sign over the receptionist's head, the brochure bears the Dallas company's name and red emblem, and offers services from Halliburton units around the world.
An executive order signed by former President Bill Clinton in March 1995 prohibits "new investments (in Iran) by U.S. persons, including commitment of funds or other assets." It also bars U.S. companies from performing services "that would benefit the Iranian oil industry." Violation of the order can result in fines of as much as $500,000 for companies and up to 10 years in jail for individuals.
In the February 2001 report, the Journal quoted an anonymous U.S. official as saying a Halliburton office in Tehran would violate at least the spirit of American law. Moreover, a U.S. Treasury Department website detailing U.S. sanctions against bans almost all U.S. trade and investment with Iran, specifically in oil services. The Web site adds: "No U.S. person may approve or facilitate the entry into or performance of transactions or contracts with Iran by a foreign subsidiary of a U.S. firm that the U.S. person is precluded from performing directly. Similarly, no U.S. person may facilitate such transactions by unaffiliated foreign persons."
David Lesar, Halliburtons current chief executive, explained why t
When Bush and Cheney came into office in 2001, their administration decided it would not punish foreign oil and gas companies that invest in those countries. Halliburton has continued doing business in Iran by skirting U.S. laws. Its Tehran office is registered through a Cayman Island subsidiary and does not employ anyone from the U.S.
The sanctions imposed on countries, like Iran and Libya before Bush became president were blasted by Cheney, who gave frequent speeches on the need for U.S. companies to compete with their foreign competitors, despite claims that those countries may have ties to terrorism.
"I think we'd be better off if we, in fact, backed off those sanctions (on Iran), didn't try to impose secondary boycotts on companies
trying to do business over there ... and instead started to rebuild those relationships," Cheney said during a 1998 business trip to Sydney, Australia, according to Australias Illawarra Mercury newspaper.
David Lesar, Halliburtons current chief executive explained why the company does business with countries that may or may not sponsor terrorism.
"A lot of our competition is non-US companies," Lesar said in an interview with Knight-Ridder in July 2000. "We do operate in some other sanctions-countries by complying with sanctions rules. You operate in those countries using non-US subsidiaries and non-US employees." Lesar said at the time he couldn't specify the amount of business that Halliburton did in Iran and Libya, but he called it "not substantial."
In 1995, Halliburton paid a $1.2 million fine to the U.S. government and $2.61 million in civil penalties for violating a U.S. trade embargo by shipping oilfield equipment to Libya. Federal officials said some of the well servicing equipment sent to Libya by Halliburton between late 1987 and early 1990 could have been used in the development of nuclear weapons. President Reagan imposed the embargo against Libya in 1986 because of alleged links to international terrorism.
But the fact that Halliburton may have unwillingly helped Libya obtain a crucial component to build an atomic bomb only made Cheney push the Clinton administration harder to support trade with Libya and Iran.
During a trip to the Middle East in March 1996, Cheney told a group of mostly U.S. businessmen that Congress should ease sanctions in Iran and Libya to foster better relationshipsa statement that when read today seems hypocritical considering the Bush administrations foreign policy.
Let me make a generalized statement about a trend I see in the U.S. Congress that I find disturbing, that applies not only with respect to the Iranian situation but a number of others as well," Cheney said. I think we Americans sometimes make mistakes...There seems to be an assumption that somehow we know what's best for everybody else and that we are going to use our economic clout to get everybody else to live the way we would like.
- - Jason Leopold is a freelance journalist based in California, he is currently finishing a book on the California energy crisis. He can be contacted at email@example.com. http://www.scoop.co.nz/mason/stories/HL0310/S00229.htm
posted on 10/28/2003 2:20:48 AM PST
Regime Change Needed in Iran
October 28, 2003
The Badger Herald
Simply put, there need to be some major changes in the government of Iran. Imagine, if you will, that a group of right wing, fanatically religious conservative leaders were in charge of all the courts, including the Supreme Court, as well as in charge of the military and education.
Imagine further that this group of people sitting on our Supreme Court could veto any law, senator or president they did not like. Imagine that 2/3 of the population is under the age of 30 and living under a theocracy. This is the situation facing the public of Iran, in which 3/4 of the population voted for a reformist president. The people in Iran are clearly unhappy with the fundamentalists.
In November, Hashem Aghajari spoke out against the established order of the Muslim Clerics in Iran, stating that Muslims should not have to go through the clerics to get to their God; they did not have to follow "like monkeys" what the clerics said. This was blasphemy, and Aghajari was sentenced to death by the Islamic judges for "insulting the prophets."
The students took the streets in massive number in support of Aghajari. These protests lasted for almost a month, causing a senior member of the judiciary to resign. It also prompted the brother of the president to admonish the clerics that if they did not listen to the students, they would face the same fate of the Shah, who was deposed. Almost 3,000 students in Tehran protested the ruling Nov. 12, chanting "death to despotism." Eventually, due to the pressure of popular dissent, the judiciary backed off the death sentence.
In July, due to frustrations over a lack of reform, thousands of students from all over the country protested against the clerics and demanded change. For a week, all over the country, a repressed voice was heard the world over. Prominent international leaders expressed their support for the students. President Bush said that the protests were "the beginning of people expressing themselves toward a free Iran."
However, they were all arrested, often without access to lawyers. Their trials were usually before a vindictive judge. The brutality of the crackdown was astonishing. An observer watching women taking off their scarves in demonstration reported to the BBC June 17, "They've been severely beaten by chains, you know, the old chains and locks they use here for motorcycles? Do you know how thick they are? I broke down in tears when I heard this." (And conservatives on UW's campus thought they had a tough time being heard ... )
Sadly enough, the government of Iran has a history of attempting to silence "blasphemers." The day this goes to print, another victim of the Islamic government will give a speech at the Orpheum. Salman Rushdie, an award-winning Indian author, wrote a book called "The Satanic Verses," referring to some disputed verses in the Koran. The Iranian fundamentalist government, in 1989, sentenced him to death and placed a million price on his head for portraying the prophet Mohammed as a fallible human being and for trying to leave Islam. Both crimes are punishable by death.
History has proven time and time again that governments that draw the ire of their masses do not last. You'd think that after the Iranian Revolution that took place in the '70s to depose of the government then, the current government would heed the students' admonishments. (Ironically, it was that first revolution by students that put the current government in place.)
There is nothing legitimate about a repressive government that beats its students, stifles the voices of massive dissent and attempts to kill off those people abroad it does not agree with. Freedom of speech, religion and press are crushed by this fundamentalist government. Governments like Iran's should be, and need to be, overthrown.
John Locke stated that a government derives its power from those who are governed. If the governed no longer find the current ruler legitimate, they have a right to rid themselves of that ruler. The Iranian situation calls for such an action. The masses of that country are discontent. The population is young and unemployment is high. The reform-minded president is paralyzed by the power of the judiciary, and rather than making more jobs, the judiciary and military have embarked on nuclear ambitions that may make life all the more miserable for an impoverished people.
This is a government that needs to go.
Bobak Roshan (firstname.lastname@example.org
) is a senior majoring in international relations and political science. http://www.badgerherald.com/vnews/display.v/ART/2003/10/28/3f9dc701a2c04
If You Harbor a Terrorist
Striking Syria to save Iraq.
By Barbara Lerner
What will it take to win the second great battle of Iraq, the battle against terrorism on Iraqi soil? Thousands of additional Coalition troops and billions of dollars in donor aid will make it easier to hold the line, but I'm afraid it won't be enough, by itself, to ensure another Coalition triumph there in a year or two. We have to add a new element to the mix, and it's not another U.N. resolution. It's another "shock and awe" campaign, this one designed to convince Iraq's neighbors that when we say they must shut off the flow of foreign terrorists into Iraq, we mean it.
In saying this, I am emphatically not joining the chorus of irresponsibles who constantly repeat the lie that "we have no plan." We have one, and it's working: It's why we defeated the Baathist armies in three amazing weeks. It's why all the disasters that the naysayers had predicted millions of civilian casualties, millions of starving refugees, widespread famine and disease, and an oil-related environmental disaster never happened. It's why reconstruction is proceeding faster and better in Iraq than it did in Europe after World War II. It's why all the polls show something like 70 percent of Iraqis are glad we liberated them and hopeful about their future. But when it comes to fighting the terrorist onslaught in Iraq, I'm afraid we're not winning, not yet. We seem to be holding the line, not gaining ground. Our forces are brave and smart; they score many genuine successes. But somehow, the threat does not diminish. At best, it remains constant.
The problem, I think, is that we're fighting two terrorist enemies in Iraq: Local, mainly Baathist terrorists, and foreign terrorist infiltrators. Our plan "hunting them down, one by one" is the right plan for the locals, but for the foreigners, something more is needed. Foreign infiltrators don't just increase the number of terrorists attacking Coalition forces and the Iraqis who fight beside them. They also bring in foreign state influence and subversion, targeting Shiites as well as Sunnis; and they bring expertise the latest in terror warfare methods from all over the Middle East and beyond. They attack us in better-planned, more-lethal ways, and they cooperate and compete to organize and train the locals. At best, the inflow of foreign terrorists into Iraq makes our job harder, longer, and bloodier than it would otherwise be. At worst, it threatens to make our job endless. After all, the supply of local terrorists may be sizeable, but it's intrinsically limited and, thanks to the hard, steady work of our forces, it's shrinking. The supply of foreign terrorists is vastly larger, and it's not shrinking. In fact, it's growing, because failed despotic states in the Middle East and beyond see a free and prosperous Iraq as a threat, and are working feverishly to prevent its emergence. Protestations to the contrary notwithstanding, many states are encouraging the flow of foreign terrorists into Iraq.
President Bush replies that no matter where terrorists come from, it's better to fight them in Baghdad and Tikrit than in New York and Washington, and of course he's right. I'm grateful, as all Americans should be, to President Bush and our military for moving the main terrorist battleground away from our shores and back into the region that spawned these monsters. But it would be better yet to move them out of Iraq too, because we don't want only to kill terrorists, but also to turn Iraq into a proof that Arabs, too, can enjoy the blessings of liberty. And it will be hard to achieve that goal if Iraq remains a battleground where terrorist gangs from all over the Islamist world compete to see who can kill the most Americans and American allies.
Can we shut off the flow, or at least reduce it to a trickle? I think we can. Foreign terrorists may come from all over the world, but almost all of them enter Iraq through only three of her border states: Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Syria. All three are police states. They could pretty well seal up their borders if they wanted to and we need to make them want to, by convincing them that the cost of not doing so is more than they can afford. Some members of Congress have been moving in the right direction on this score for a while now. The Syrian Accountability Act, long championed by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R., Fl.) and other American stalwarts, will raise the price that Syria-the most financially vulnerable of the three terrorist-harborers-must pay (in sanctions) for its intransigence. It's a good first step, and this time, President Bush the White House is behind it this time (it had previously withdrew support from a similar bill).
But the odds that this act alone will be enough to make the terrible trio stop funneling terrorists into Iraq are near zero. Saudi Arabia is the fatherland of the Sunni brand of Islamofascist terrorism; Iran (as well as Lebanon) is run by practitioners of the Shiite brand; and Baathist Syria, home of secular Islamofascism, rents space to them all, on her own lands and in Syrian-occupied Lebanon. If the trio respond to our latest demand to shut off the terrorist inflow as they have to all our past demands, they'll play out a script that reads something like this: Iranian mullahs and Saudi sheiks will increase the large sums they already pay Syria for hosting so many of the remaining terror training camps in the Middle East; thus fortified, Syria will respond to our demands with phony promises and a few insulting token gestures; and the terrorist inflow will continue.
When that happens, I don't think we should respond by going to the U.N. again, or otherwise telegraphing our punches. I think we should launch a shock-and-awe campaign aimed at demolishing all the terror training camps on Syrian-controlled turf. Can we do that while still engaged in Afghanistan and Iraq, without stretching our resources too thin? I think we can, because we don't have to invade Syria or Lebanon to do the job. If ever a task was tailor-made for air power alone, this is it. Syria has no oil, no significant homegrown freedom movement, and no effective air-defense system. What it does have, in the Bekka valley and in the parts of Lebanon that Syria leases out to Hezbollah and its many sub-lessees, is a superabundance of terrorists massed together in places where there are few or no innocent civilians. There, we wouldn't have to limit ourselves to hunting down terrorists one by one, inevitably losing American lives and the lives of our friends in the process. Rather, our bombs could take out large numbers of terrorists all at once. Such a victory would dry up the flow of terrorists into Iraq from Syria and make Saudi Arabia and the mad mullahs who misrule Iran understand, at last, that they too must stop funneling terrorists into Iraq. It would give new hope to the millions of Iranians who are dying to overthrow the corrupt clerics who oppress them and dishonor their religion, and it would have a sobering effect on all those who harbor terrorists, anywhere in the world.
Of course, if George W. Bush does decide to strike Syria, there will be howls of protest from the Franco-German-Belgian axis and from all the U.N. bureaucrats and hangers-on who join them in flattering and appeasing the world's tyrants and terrorists, in the Middle East and elsewhere. Here at home, the multi-lateral appeasement crowd will provide an amplifier of foreign hysteria. Together, they will accuse President Bush of widening the war, risking the "Armegeddon in the Middle East" that Brent Scowcroft's think-alikes keep predicting. But if our president decides to strike Syria, he won't really be widening the war, let alone unleashing some earthshaking new Arab uprising. He'll be facing up to the war's actual scope, doing what we must do to win and the "Arab street" will not "explode." The hate-crazed Arab mobs will be cowed, as they were the last two times our 43rd president made it clear that the policy of the past Rich Lowry calls it "McGovernism without the conscience" died on September 11 and won't be resurrected during this president's term. State Department siren-songs notwithstanding, nothing we can ever do will make fascist fanatics love us. But we can and must make them fear us.
Syrian-occupied Lebanon Hezbollah land is important symbolically as well as strategically, because the terror war began there 20 years ago. American marines were in Lebanon then, in Beirut, serving as peacekeepers in a land where there was no peace to keep. Lebanon, once the freest, most progressive, and most democratic state in the Arab world, was in the midst of a civil war: Islamists were battling moderate Arab Muslims, Arab Christians, and an international medley of entrepreneurial others who once found Lebanon a safe and congenial place. Hezbollah, a Shiite terrorist group, had a population larger than that of its opponents, experienced terrorist allies from Sunni terror groups like the PLO, and a steady supply of money and weapons from the terrible trio. Hezbollah had no interest in compromise or peace. Its jihadis were determined to seize control of Lebanon, subjugate all local Arabs who opposed them, and drive the Americans out and they succeeded. Hezbollah terrorists launched a brutal attack on our marines, asleep in their barracks, massacring 241 of them. And we collected our dead and went home.
Most Americans saw this dangerous retreat as an isolated event; many recall it only vaguely now. But terrorists everywhere remember it well. They still celebrate it as a great victory for their side and a precedent-setting defeat for ours, proof-positive that, despite our size, we are a weak, confused, and cowardly nation, easily defeated by smaller, more courageous and committed Islamist warriors. That false belief was reinforced again and again in subsequent years, most dramatically, perhaps, in Somalia. But most Americans didn't connect the dots, didn't grasp the fact that we were at war, until terrorists from a copycat Sunni terrorist group, al Qaeda, mounted an even bloodier attack on us on September 11, 2001. Afterwards, most of us understood that war was upon us. But we have tended to focus exclusively on the threat from al Qaeda and its offshoots, forgetting Hezbollah altogether or seeing it as a menace to Israel only. In Afghanistan, we deposed al Qaeda and its Taliban allies, and now its terrorist forces are scattered and its leaders are dead or in hiding, while the men who despoiled Lebanon, murdered our sons, and drove us out of Lebanon still strut about, free and unafraid, and rule openly. Hezbollah isn't in hiding; it's in parliament. It has big, secure bases in Lebanon and Syria; it's hurting our efforts to stabilize Iraq; and it's expanding its global reach in places like the tri-border region of Paraguay, Argentina, and Brazil.
It's time, I think, to make Hezbollah and all its admirers understand that there are no exceptions to the rule: If you attack Americans, America will bring you to justice, or bring justice to you.
Barbara Lerner is a freelance writer in Chicago. http://www.nationalreview.com/comment/lerner200310270835.asp
Coaxing Iran, North Korea
By W. ANDY KNIGHT
Special to The Japan Times
EDMONTON, Canada -- Since no weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq, some critics of the Bush administration are suggesting that the use of the military option was premature or even unwarranted unless, of course, the goal all along was to overthrow a dangerous despot -- Saddam Hussein. Certainly, one has to wonder why U.S. President George W. Bush chose to "shock and awe" Iraq, while simply sending verbal warnings to both Iran and North Korea.
Indeed, the argument can be made that if North Korea and Iran are allowed to become nuclear powers, the world will become much more dangerous than it was before the United States launched the attack on Iraq. Selecting Hussein for extermination over a long list of other despots seems quite arbitrary.
Unlike Iraq, North Korea openly admits that it has been enriching uranium to produce a nuclear weapon. Iran has been less candid about its past nuclear activities, but there is speculation that it is, in fact, using the cover of its civilian nuclear power program to develop the capacity to build nuclear weapons. Just imagine the danger that both countries, as nuclear-weapons states, would pose to Asia and the Middle East -- not to speak of to the rest of the world?
If Iran possessed nuclear weapons, why should Saudi Arabia or any other state in the Middle East not want to pursue the nuclear option? One can certainly see prospects, under such circumstances, for a dangerous nuclear race developing in the Middle East. Worse yet, what would stop the Iranian ayatollahs from passing on this technology to terrorist organizations that they support?
North Korea has a history of selling advanced weapons to anyone who can pay for them -- rogue states as well as terrorists. If North Korea refuses to dismantle its nuclear weapons program, why would Japan and other countries in the region not want to develop their own nuclear weapons to counter the North Koreans -- thus leading to another nuclear arms race in Asia? (Pakistan and India are already involved in one).
Knowing this, one wonders why the White House chose not to use the military option against North Korea and Iran?
* First, the U.S. military is overextended -- fighting a war against terrorism in Afghanistan and trying to cope with what has become urban guerrilla warfare in Iraq, months after Bush declared an end to hostilities.
* Second, in the case of North Korea, Bush has been advised that any U.S. military action against that country would have catastrophic consequences for literally hundreds of thousands of South Koreans and Japanese. More than 11,000 North Korean artillery weapons are directly pointed at 10 million people in Seoul. Of the 1.2 million members in the North's military (the fourth-largest army in the world), two-thirds are stationed in the demilitarized zone separating North from South Korea.
The North Korean Taepodong I medium range missile (a modified Scud) is capable of hitting Tokyo, as well as any point in South Korea. It is estimated that the recently improved version of that weapon -- Taepodong II -- can easily reach Alaska, some of the minor Hawaiian islands and perhaps even Arizona. This missile is potentially capable of carrying a nuclear warhead.
* Third, in the case of Iran, there is still not sufficient evidence to show unequivocally that the production of enriched uranium at the Natanz and Arak plants is being done to develop nuclear weapons. There is no way to verify at the moment whether the $800 million Russian nuclear reactor being built in the southwestern port of Bushehr will be used for other than peaceful commerce. Following the embarrassment associated with the unsubstantiated claims about Iraq's WMD capability, Bush would be foolish to go out on another limb.
* Most importantly, U.S. military action in North Korea and Iran would drain American economic resources to the extent that a domestic backlash against the Bush administration could ensue. As it is, the presidential election in 2004 will most likely be fought over U.S. involvement in Iraq, tax cuts and the $87 billion-plus that American taxpayers are being asked to bear as the cost of postwar reconstruction in Iraq.
Last week the president, joined by the leaders of four other nations - China, Japan, Russia and South Korea -- announced publicly that North Korea will not be attacked if it dismantles its nuclear weapons program. In doing so, Bush went against the opinion of Cabinet hawks calling for economic and military sanctions against Pyongyang.
While this security guarantee falls short of the nonaggression treaty the North Koreans have been asking for, it nevertheless indicates to the country's leadership that an "Iraqi-type" strike on North Korea is not in the offing. Whether this is sufficient to cause North Korea to give up its nuclear ambitions is unclear.
Separately, Iran agreed last week to diplomatic and moral pressure from three European foreign ministers -- Dominique de Villepin of France, Jack Straw of Britain and Joschka Fischer of Germany - to suspend production of enriched uranium at its nuclear power plants, and accept stricter international inspections of these sites by the International Atomic Energy Agency. This will include giving the IAEA unfettered access to weapons-development sites as well as allowing inspectors to chemically sample areas where weapons-grade enriched uranium has been produced.
Only time will tell if the diplomatic attempt at moral suasion will work on the Iranian and North Korean leadership. It certainly buys time for Bush who must now be concerned that the Iraqi quagmire could damage his re-election chances.
It also buys time for an Iranian government that was given until Oct. 31 to disclose fully its nuclear activities to the IAEA or see the issue taken to the U.N. Security Council, which probably would have imposed harsh economic sanctions, further isolating the fundamentalist Islamic government diplomatically.
It buys time for North Korean leader Kim Jong Il who can ill-afford to divert any more dollars from his starving and disease-ridden population to nuclear-weapons programs.
This recent turn to diplomacy will not foreclose muscular U.S.-led military options in the future. But it provides some hope that some serious global problems can be resolved through nonviolent means. Of course, a soft-power approach will have to be backed up by real verification on the part of the international community and by a series of concrete steps within the "targeted" countries.
For instance, Iran needs to suspend all uranium imports and its program of uranium enrichment immediately. Centrifuges that can be used for enriching uranium should be dismantled and destroyed. The Russia-built nuclear reactor at Bushehr should not become operational until Tehran agrees that any enrichment of its uranium fuel will be done outside of Iran -- in plants that are under full international safeguards. Iran must also agree in writing that no plutonium produced by this reactor will be exported. North Korea must make similar moves.
It is equally important for both countries to get back under the tent of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and abandon their quest to join the nuclear club.
W. Andy Knight is McCalla research professor in the faculty of arts, University of Alberta and author of "The United Nations and Arms Embargoes Verification."
The Japan Times: Oct. 28, 2003 http://www.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/geted.pl5?eo20031028a1.htm
Iranian Parliament Issues Stinging Kazemi Report
October 28, 2003
The Associated Press
The Globe and Mail
Tehran Iran's reformist-dominated parliament on Tuesday implicated hardline Tehran prosecutor Saeed Mortazavi in the death of a Canadian photojournalist who died in custody last July.
Zahra Kazemi, a Canadian of Iranian origin, died July 10, about three weeks after being detained for taking photographs outside a Tehran prison during protests. An intelligence agent is charged with her alleged beating death.
The parliament criticized Mr. Mortazavi for accusing Ms. Kazemi of spying for foreign intelligence agencies, lacking official permission to work and announcing the cause of her death as stroke. A presidential-appointed committee later concluded she died of head injuries sustained while in custody.
The detention of Kazemi ... was not justified ... and against legal procedures, the parliament said in its report on the murder, read out in an open session and broadcast live on state-run Tehran radio.
The parliament condemned Mr. Mortazavi for failing to respond to several questions justifying Ms. Kazemi's detention and refusing to attend parliamentary sessions to offer explanations.
The parliamentary report is expected to further complicate the investigation into Ms. Kazemi's death and affect the course of ongoing trial of an Intelligence Ministry agent.
The report also paves the way for the questioning and even possible trial of Mr. Mortazavi over the murder.
Intelligence Ministry agent Mohammad Reza Aghdam Ahmadi pleaded not guilty to Ms. Kazemi's murder on the first day of his open trial earlier this month.
Intelligence Ministry officials have denied their agents were responsible, claiming a judicial official assaulted Ms. Kazemi.
Canada has complained to Iran over the handling of Ms. Kazemi's case. It threatened sanctions and withdrew its ambassador after the her body was buried in Iran against the wishes of her son, who lives in Montreal, and Canadian authorities. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20031028.wkaze1028/BNStory/National/
To: F14 Pilot
Thanks for the heads up!
UN Inspecting Iranian Uranium Parts
October 28, 2003
TEHRAN -- Iran is allowing U.N. inspectors to examine thousands of imported uranium enrichment machinery parts to determine the origin of weapons-grade uranium found in Iran this year, a senior Iranian official said on Tuesday.
The move could settle one of the key outstanding questions about Iran's nuclear programme ahead of an October 31 deadline for Tehran to prove it has no secret atomic weapons ambitions.
Tehran insists its nuclear facilities are geared solely to electricity generation and has blamed the traces of highly-enriched uranium found at two nuclear facilities on contamination from machinery bought abroad.
But Western diplomats have expressed scepticism about Iran's explanation that it does not know where the parts came from as they were bought from black market middlemen in the 1980s.
Iran's representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Ali Akbar Salehi said IAEA experts who arrived in Tehran on Monday were being ''allowed to see the components and take sampling.''
''Now it's up to them to find out where the contamination came from. We have done our best,'' he told Reuters in a brief telephone interview.
Salehi said Iran possessed thousands of imported machinery parts for its nuclear programme. Iran late last week handed over what it said was a complete report of its past nuclear activities to the IAEA.
IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei has said he needs full disclosure from Iran to dispel doubts about its nuclear aims.
An IAEA board of governors meeting on November 20 will decide whether Iran has done enough to allay U.S.-led concerns that Iran may have been covertly developing nuclear arms.
Under mounting pressure to come clean about its nuclear activities, Iran last week agreed to suspend uranium enrichment and agree to more intrusive snap inspections by the IAEA.
The deal, brokered by the foreign ministers of Britain, France and Germany, was greeted as a positive step by the IAEA and Washington. But they added that the onus was on Iran to implement the agreement fully.
Salehi said Iran was still studying the exact details of how and when it would suspend its uranium enrichment activities.
''There is a tacit understanding which is being studied. I expect an agreement will be reached in the next few days,'' he said. http://famulus.msnbc.com/FamulusIntl/reuters10-28-014553.asp?reg=MIDEAST
Conditions and Expectations for Private Enterprise in Iraq
October 28, 2003
Center for International Private Enterprise
Raad Ommar and Sabah Khesbak
The Center for International Private Enterprise released today the results of the first post-conflict public survey of Iraq's private sector. The following article presents the key findings of survey. The project was undertaken by the Iraqi American Chamber of Commerce and Industry with support from the Center for International Private Enterprise.
The complete report is available on CIPE's website at http://www.cipe.org/pdf/iraq_survey_final.pdf
"Conditions and Expectations for Private Enterprise in Iraq: Findings from a Survey of Iraq's Small and Medium Sized Business Owners and Managers"
by Raad Ommar and Sabah Khesbak Iraqi American Chamber of Commerce and Industry
After three decades of state domination of the Iraqi economy, small and medium sized businesses in that country are poised to rebuild Iraq's private sector. The end of the Baathist regime of Saddam Hussein has produced strong optimism for economic growth and civil reconstruction.
A strong sense of hopefulness dominates the findings of the first post-conflict survey of Iraq's business sector. Confidence in better future conditions is being reinforced with actual planning to hire new employees, increase output, and expand businesses. Faith in the Coalition Provisional Authority is even stronger than in economic recovery, but Iraq's business community seeks tangible improvements within a year.
Immediate concerns of the small and medium sized business sector include unreliable electricity and the lack of a legal infrastructure to protect property rights and govern commercial transactions. But economic growth is also impeded by deeper systemic problems such as insufficient access to credit.
Longer term interests include a desire to profit from international trade and reform the tax system.
Ironically, the poor state of the Iraqi economy in the years leading up to the removal of Baathist rule provides an avenue for rapid growth and the establishment of an entrepreneurial class which can provide the foundation for stable, democratic political governance.
An economy already dominated by state owned enterprises and overly reliant on the nation's reserves of oil and natural gas was battered by continual intervention in the private sector to further the political and personal goals of Saddam Hussein's regime. Potential economic growth in the 1980s was preempted by the eight years of the Iran-Iraq War. Thereafter, the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait resulted in international sanctions which segregated Iraq from the global economy. Corrupt and unauthorized international trade produced illegal profits which were diverted to regime officials or used to finance military and vanity projects at the expense of the Iraqi people. Presumably, the end of external hindrances and a resumption of normal trade relations will allow Iraqis to fulfill the rich potential of Iraq's fuel reserves, arable land, water resources, geographic location, and entrepreneurial spirit.
Already on the streets of every city in Iraq, a renewed life is evident. Entrepreneurial spirit is blossoming because of a widespread belief that conditions will improve despite current difficulties in the security situation, unclear property rights, and legal and traditional barriers to entrepreneurship.
In August 2003, the Iraqi American Chamber of Commerce and Industry conducted a field survey of the Iraqi small and medium sized business sector to assess the current economic environment in Iraq, solicit their views on the impediments to economic growth, and gauge their business plans for a post-Baathist economy.
The survey included interviews with more than 600 businessmen from all areas of Iraq and all ethnic/religious groups. Firms ranged in size from new start-ups with a single employee to medium sized enterprises with 300 employees (though firms with more than 100 employees accounted for less than 2% of businesses surveyed).
Random sampling was used to select interviewees but controls were established to ensure that the sample represented the sectorial mix of businesses in each geographic region. Willingness to participate in a survey varied from region to region based on cooperation from local officials (both of the Coalition Provisional Authority, the American military, and local Iraqi leaders) and the local history of the region. Response rates were highest in the north where the enforcement of the northern United Nations' "no fly zone" has allowed the region to operate independently of Baghdad for more than a decade. A number of responses were disqualified because of incomplete responses or unprofessional recording by some surveyors. Nevertheless, 393 completed surveys were used in the calculation of this data. (A more detailed account of the survey's methodology is found in Appendix A).
This survey represents the first effort to gather the views of the Iraqi business sector of Iraq. It is intended to provide useful information on the short and long term economic picture, establish reconstruction priorities, and identify future areas for improvement. Its intended audience is Coalition and Iraqi policy-makers, the international community, non-governmental organizations now operating in Iraq, and, most importantly, to the Iraqi private sector itself.
Strong Optimism for Economic Growth
The Iraqi business community holds a strongly optimistic outlook on future economic growth. A resounding 58% of those surveyed believe that the economy will be better in six months. Roughly half as many respondents (28%) believe it will stay the same, but less than 13% suspect that economic conditions will worsen in the coming months.
Optimism for Iraq's overall economic growth slightly exceeds optimism for personal business growth yet a majority (54%) still anticipates positive growth for their own enterprises in the next six months. Similarly, businessmen are less likely to expect their own businesses to decline than to hold a pessimistic outlook on the overall economy.
Although confidence in economic growth over the next six months remains high throughout all areas of Iraq, some regional variation is evident. The predominantly Shi'a southern Iraq (including the cities of Basra, Babel, and Alnajaf) exhibited the highest level of positive response. Northern Iraq and Central Iraq (including Baghdad) responded in line with the national aggregate eventhough the North charted the highest level of "worse" responses. One possible explanation is that Northern Iraq has been functionally autonomous since the imposition of the northern "no fly zone" and that it is already an economic leader in Iraq.
The city of Baghdad is the only distinct place where a majority of the respondents did not choose "better"; still, in Baghdad 49% selected "better" with a response rate for "worse" slightly below the national rate.
Importantly, Iraq's private sector has already begun making plans which reinforce their positive assessment of future business conditions. More than two thirds of businesses represented in the survey (68%) plan to increase their productivity in the next six months. Similarly, 47% are looking ahead to renting, purchasing, or constructing new buildings, and 46% expect to invest in new machinery.
Employment Damaged But In Recovery
Unfortunately, employment has suffered since the recent military action, but it is already showing signs of recovery.
Before the conflict, the average small or medium sized enterprise employed slightly more than 16 people with a median firm size of seven workers. The current figures have dropped to an average of slightly more than 12 employees with the median firm employing of five people.
A majority (56%) of businesses report that they have not reduced jobs since the recent military action to remove the Baathist regime; that majority includes the 20% of businesses which have hired at least one new worker.
Yet, an overall a reduction in net employment occurred because of cutbacks at firms in the higher end of the survey range. Among operations employing less than 10 people, 71% report no cutbacks in employment.
Despite a downturn in employment, signs of recovery are already evident. Of firms which cut employment since the most recent conflict, 59% plan to hire new workers within the next six months. The expectation of needing additional employees was equally strong among both firms which have recently reduced employment and those which have already begun hiring since the end of the Baathist regime. Among both groups, two thirds plan to increase employment. Of firms which have neither added nor lost employees recently, 47% plan to hire within the next six months.
Expectations of the Coalition Provisional Authority
A staggering 71% of respondents believe that conditions will be "better" or "much better" under the Coalition Provisional Authority. This number exceeds even the clear majorities of small and medium sized business managers who hold a positive outlook for national (58%) and personal (54%) economic growth.
Conditions under the provisional authority are expected to remain the same by 19% of respondents, and only slightly more than 5% expect matters to be either "worse" or "much worse."
As with the economic outlook, geographic distinctions amplified or tempered optimism regarding the Coalition Provisional Authority. It is important to note that all regions of Iraq responded with "better" or "much better" more than 60% of the time. The subsample from Southern Iraq indicates a full 93% of small business owners and managers have positive expectations from the transitional government. Within the city of Baghdad, 66% answered in that way. The distinction between the regions comes not in the number of responses for "worse" and "much worse" (which chart about 5-7% of the responses in all areas outside of the South), but in the allocation of responses "better" and "much better." For example, in Baghdad, the "much better" response (15%) is half the national aggregate (32%) and a fraction of the response from Southern Iraq (53%).
Responses to the open-ended question about what businesses expect the Coalition Provisional Authority and the Iraqi Governing Council to deliver fell into a few categories. Iraqis yearn for political stability, physical security, and a restoration of essential services such as electricity, water, and telephones. Iraqi businessmen ask that the governing authority achieve price stability for their inputs and promote trade now that U.N. sanctions have been lifted. They also expect the government to be open and transparent when issuing contracts and soliciting bids from the Iraqi private sector.
Although Iraqis hold strong hopes for betterment under the CPA, they also anticipate seeing results in the short term. Almost two thirds (64%) hope to see tangible results in under a year. A large bloc (38%) expects to see results in less than six months. Only a minority (30%) is willing to wait more than a year before seeing results.
Barriers to Business Development
Survey participants were asked to rank the ten most important issues for their businesses from a list of 19 possible choices. The four issues of highest concern were a lack of modern economic laws, legal uncertainty, insufficient access to credit, and unreliable electricity.
Other issues scoring high as barriers to economic growth include late payments for goods and services, insufficient access to capital, high taxes, and the poor quality of telephone service.
Unsurprisingly, issues which were most frequently ranked as the highest (or lowest) priority tended to score highest (or lowest) when all appearances on the rankings were tallied together. A few exceptions exist. "Late payments for goods and services" received the second most first position votes but relatively fewer votes elsewhere; despite being weighed heavily by many, it finished thirteenth overall. "Access to credit" and the "quality of road transportation" gathered very few first position votes, but were included among the top ten priorities of an appreciably larger group of respondents.
The only issue which did not receive a single first position vote was the quality of the postal system. And the only two issues less likely to appear among the overall concerns of Iraq's private sector were "public administration" and the "quality of public health care."
Access to Credit and Banking
One reoccurring motif in the Iraqi private sector is an underdeveloped and underutilized banking system. Access to credit and capital placed as a high concern of the small and medium sized business community.
Cash remains the primary means of conducting commercial transactions. Firms use cash to pay for just under 90% of all purchases and sales. Banking services are utilized by less than 20% of the small and medium sized businesses. More than 6% of small firms still use direct bartering.
An important indicator of the potential for future economic growth, few businesses currently use credit to finance business expansion. Retained earnings and savings provide the primary sources of business expansion. Fewer than 20% of small and medium enterprises utilize credit. Among those that do tap into credit, private loans were slightly preferred over bank loans. Only 1% use a combination of both sources of credit.
Importantly, utilization of credit and banking services is unrelated to the size of the firm. Firms with fewer than 10 employees responded to questions about banking services in the same pattern as larger firms.
The Role of the Iraqi American Chamber of Commerce
The mission of Iraqi American Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IACCI) is to invigorate the small and medium sized business community in Iraq by promoting an open-market economy and a democratic political system. This will ensure that access to the market is open and fair. IACCI also advocates that transparency, accountability, and the rule of law be enforced in Iraq.
A strong business community is based on business associations having an audible voice in the national policy-making process. By serving as a platform to voice the business community's needs and interests to political decision-makers, business associations contribute to the growth of participatory civil society and the development of a regulatory and policy environment conducive to private enterprise. To that end the Iraqi American Chamber of Commerce and Industry advocates for:
An Open-Market Economy in Iraq
A competitive system wherein rules are the same for all participants, corruption is eliminated, and transparency and accountability are strengthened is essential to Iraq's development. Compliance systems for small businesses in Iraq need to be simplified and the participation of business groups in the day-to-day process of government decision-making must be facilitated. Laws and institutions necessary for an open market-oriented economy should be developed.
Modern Professional, Trade, and Industry Associations
The modernization of professional associations and guilds ? including the Iraqi Industrial Federation, the Contractors Union, and the Federation of Iraqi Chambers of Commerce ? begins with conducting free and fair internal elections, the adoption of key mission statements that advocate goals compatible with IACCI's, and greater responsiveness to their members to promote the emergence of representative intermediaries.
An Entrepreneurial Spirit Among Iraqis
The creation of an entrepreneurial climate and culture is encouraged and access to business and economic information necessary for informed decision-making must be expanded if the Iraqi people are to recognize their potential.
Long Term Commercial Relations with the United States
In order to help establish a bilateral relationship between the private sectors of Iraq and the U.S. and facilitate and expand trade between the two, the IACCI supports educational and economic programs in both countries. The IACCI will sponsor trade delegations between the two countries, exhibit and conference promotions in major cities in Iraq with different sectors targeted, and establish the most up-to-date, comprehensive database on Iraqi business available to help foreign companies have greater confidence in the information they receive on Iraqi companies. The IACCI will also work towards a free trade agreement between the U.S. and Iraq and promote Iraq's membership in the World Trade Organization.
The first post-conflict survey of Iraq's small and medium sized business sector reveals that Iraqi entrepreneurs are poised to expand after immeasurable damage done by years of warfare, international censure, and the corrupt purposes of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party.
Although important reasonable variation in responses are noted from region to region, throughout Iraq the small scale private sector conveys a sense of confidence in the national economy, their own fortunes, and the new government structure.
Planning for economic growth has already begun, with a majority of small businesses prepared to hire new employees, purchase equipment, and obtain new facilities. However, insufficient access to credit and an immature banking structure create a major structural impediment for growth.
If progress in the economy and the legal and physical infrastructure is not realized in the short term, opinions may sour and economic conditions begin to contract.
The litany of needs of the private sector ? stable electric supply, new economic laws, tax reform, infrastructure development ? are not unique to the business community, but are important to all Iraqis. Organizations like the Iraqi American Chamber of Commerce and Industry stand ready help enact progress on these important matters.
CIPE is a non-profit affiliate of the U.S Chamber of Commerce and one of the four core institutes of the National Endowment for Democracy. CIPE has supported more than 700 local initiatives in over 80 developing countries, involving the private sector in policy advocacy, institutional reform, improving governance, and building understanding of market-based democratic systems. CIPE programs are also supported through the United States Agency for International Development. http://www.cipe.org/whats_new/press/index.htm
Iran Rejects U.S. Demand to Extradite al-Qaida Operatives
October 28, 2003
The Associated Press
The Jerusalem Post
TEHRAN -- Iran rejected a U.S. demand to hand over senior al-Qaida operatives in its custody, Tuesday, saying the terror suspects would stand trial in Iranian courts, state-run radio reported.
A day earlier, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell insisted that senior al-Qaida operatives held by Iran should be turned over to their countries of origin or to the United States for interrogation and trial.
"Al-Qaida operatives currently in (our) custody have committed crimes in Iran," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi was quoted by the radio as saying. "They will be tried in Iranian courts and will be punished on the basis of the laws of the country." He said Iran would not reveal the number and names of al-Qaida suspects in custody for security reasons.
American counter-terrorism officials said last week that a handful of senior al-Qaida operatives who fled to Iran after the war in Afghanistan two years ago may have developed a working relationship with a secretive military unit linked to Iran's religious hard-liners.
U.S. intelligence suggests that al-Qaida figures in Iran include Saif al-Adl, a top al-Qaida agent possibly connected to May bombings in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; Abu Mohammed al-Masri, wanted in connection with the bombings of two U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998; Abu Musab Zarqawi, whom some U.S. officials describe as the key link between al-Qaida and toppled Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein; and Osama bin Laden's eldest son, Saad.
The al-Qaida operatives are believed to have fled to Iran from neighboring Afghanistan during the Taliban's fall in late 2001 or early 2002. http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull&cid=1067316560248&p=1008596981749
Brothel in Boys' High School Shut Down
October 28, 2003
Tehran - Three brothels, including one set up in a school, have been shut down near the Iranian capital by members of the Islamist Basij militia, the student news agency Isna reported on Tuesday.
"One of these places was in a boy's high school, whose caretaker used the place after school to serve his costumers," a local police commander in charge of fighting vice, Colonel Ferydoun Azizmohammadi, was quoted as saying.
He said a total of seven men and five women were arrested in the three raids in the town of Islamshahr, 50 kilometres south-west of Tehran. A number of compact discs, video cassettes and cellular phones were confiscated.
Crimes related to running or visiting a brothel in the Islamic Republic of Iran are usually punishable by lashes, fines or prison terms. http://www.iol.co.za/index.php?click_id=3&art_id=qw1067346361641B265&set_id=1
Iran MP Jailed for "Iinsult"' to Rival MP
October 28, 2003
TEHRAN -- A reformist Iranian lawmaker said on Tuesday he will appeal against a six-month prison sentence imposed for insulting a hardline colleague, the official IRNA news agency reported.
Mohsen Armin, deputy head of parliament's National Security and Foreign Affairs Commission, denied he had insulted a fellow MP and said he planned to file a counter-suit against the judge.
''I am going to file a complaint against the judge for not being impartial in his judgment,'' IRNA quoted him as saying.
Iran's hardline judiciary has imposed jail terms on a number of reformist lawmakers in recent years but most were overturned on appeal. The details of Armin's alleged insult were not given.
Armin was quoted as saying the judiciary had also ordered he be ''deprived of social rights'' for one year for refusing to attend the court proceedings against him.
Analysts said this ruling would effectively bar Armin from holding or standing for any public office. Iran is due to hold parliamentary elections in February and reformists currently control the majority of seats in the 290-member parliament. http://famulus.msnbc.com/FamulusIntl/reuters10-28-065207.asp?reg=MIDEAST
White House Presses Syria, Iran on Iraq Crossings
October 28, 2003
WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration called on Syria and Iran on Tuesday to take action to stop cross-border infiltration of guerrillas into Iraq after a series of suicide bombings.
White House spokesman Scott McClellan said he would not ''want to speculate'' on who was behind the recent attacks, and military officials played down the number of foreign fighters operating in the country.
He said the United States was working to ''enhance security,'' but added: ''We're making it very clear to them (Syria and Iran) that they need to also take action to stop that cross border infiltration. And they know what those concerns are and we expect them to act to address those issues.''
U.S. military officials say there are signs that foreign fighters were behind four suicide bombings that killed 35 people and wounded 230 on Monday in Baghdad's bloodiest day since Saddam Hussein was overthrown.
One attacker captured in a foiled raid on a police station had a Syrian passport, according to the military.
The U.S. administrator in Iraq, Paul Bremer, said over the weekend that most of the ''terrorists'' in Iraq were not Iraqis but came from countries such as Syria, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Sudan.
Border control was a major issue in Iraq, he said, adding that it was very difficult to seal the country's borders.
Maj. Gen. Raymond Odierno, commander of the Army's 4th Infantry Division, said on Monday that 95 percent of resistance fighters in Iraq were Saddam loyalists, with a ''very, very small percentage of foreign fighters,'' which he estimated at between 2 percent to 5 percent of the overall resistance. http://famulus.msnbc.com/FamulusIntl/reuters10-28-073637.asp?reg=MIDEAST
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