Skip to comments.
Iranian Alert -- November 18, 2003 -- IRAN LIVE THREAD
The Iranian Student Movement Up To The Minute Reports ^
Posted on 11/18/2003 12:01:34 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
Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-20, 21-26 next last
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 11/18/2003 12:01:35 AM PST
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 11/18/2003 12:04:33 AM PST
"Please ... Call Me an Iranian, Not a Moslem!"
November 16, 2003
Iran va Jahan
"This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness."
Hold on to Your Hat!
Some days the Persian Gulf is referred to as the Arabian Gulf. Some days Rumi-the great Iranian poet and philosopher-is referred to as a poet from Afghanistan or a poet from Turkey. Some days Sina or Avicenna, Rāzi, Farabi, Birouni-the great Iranian scientists-are referred to as Arab scientists. Some days Iranian arts are referred to as Islamic arts in famous European galleries.
Why, then, should we be surprised to hear that European officials and the European media are referring to Ms. Ebadi, the Iranian Nobel Peace Prize winner, not as an "Iranian" but as a "Moslem"? Has she lost her nationality? Consider this: If a German or a Canadian (or anyone else for that matter) wins the Prize, does the media refer to the winner as a "Lutheran" or as a "Methodist"? No! Why, then, are Europeans bestowing Iranians with the new title "Moslem"?
The title "Moslem" pleases only the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) and others who are promoting the notion of Western Civilization vs. The Moslem World. Strategically, this renaming is a significant gift to the Islamic government of Iran because since the establishment of this antediluvian system in Iran its leaders have done their best to replace the notion of Iranian Identity and Nationality with Moslem Identity and Nationality both inside and outside Iran. Ayatollah Khomeini has emphasized this goal in several of his speeches, for example, on Dec 1980 (as published in Kayhan):
"Those who say that we want nationality, they are standing against Islam. . . . We have no use for the nationalists. Moslems are useful for us. Islam is against nationality. . . ."(1)
"These issues that exist among people that we are Iranian and what we need to do for Iran are not correct; these issues are not correct. This issue, which is perhaps being discussed everywhere, regarding paying attention to nation and nationality is nonsense in Islam and is against Islam. One of the things that the designers of Imperialism and their agents have promoted is the idea of nation and nationality."
Maintaining an Iranian identity and nationality has been an on-going struggle for Iranians since the seventh century Islam-Arab attack on Iran. This struggle, as well as the new European strategies for collaboration with the Islamic government of Iran, requires much insight and understanding. And it should be taken very seriously by all Iranians and those who are interested in long-term world peace.
The Persian Empire Existed Long Before Islam
Let's not forget that Iran was a great empire long before the existence of Islam. Let's not forget that:
Cyrus the Great (580-529 BC), the first Achaemenian Emperor of Persia, issued a decree that was later hailed as the Charter of Human Rights for all nations. Inscribed on a clay cylinder, this first declaration of human rights is now kept at the British Museum. A replica is also on display at the United Nations in New York.
By the time of his death in Battle, Cyrus had conquered the whole of Asia Minor, Babylonia, Syria, and Palestine, and made Persia the world's leading nation. Four years later his son Cambyses had conquered Egypt and ruled an empire bordered by India in the east and the Mediterranean Sea in the West.
"The post-exilic books of the Hebrew Bible often reflect this perception of the Persian conquests of the sixth century BCE as a fulfillment of God's purpose. This comes out most strongly in Isaiah (44:28 and 45:1), when the Persian King Cyrus is spoken of as God's shepherd and even as God's anointed (Hebrew mashiab)."(2)
"Darius (522 BC) the king thus says: In the protection of Ahuramazda, I am of such a character: What is right I love and what is not right I hate. . . Of the man who speaks against the truth, never do I trust a word."(3)
"To the end of his life Darius continued to express his pride in his Ordinance of Good Regulations. His reputation as a lawgiver survived him. To Plato, Darius was the lawgiver whose laws had preserved the Persian Empire to the Philosopher's own day."(4)
"Says Darius the King: This land Parsa, which Ahuramazda has granted me, which is beautiful, possessing good horses and good men, by the favor of Ahuramazda and of me, Darius the king, it has no fear of an enemy.
"Says Darius the King: May Ahuramazda bring me help with all other gods, and may Ahuramazda protect this land from a hostile horde, from the evildoer, and from the Lie."(5)
"In an inscription of 260 CE proclaiming his victory over the Romans, the Persian ruler Shapur I described himself as follows: 'I, Lord Shapur, worshipper of Mazda, King of Kings of Iran and of non-Iran, of the race of the Gods, son of the worshipper of Mazda the Lord Ardashir, King of Kings of Iran, of the race of the Gods, grandson of Papak . . . I am the ruler of the land of Iran.' "(6)
The First Islam-Arab Attack and the Iranian Struggle to Maintain Our Identity
The history of Iran shows that the Iranian ethnicity, nationality, and culture have proven over and over again that-despite lost wars at the hands of Islam-Arabs, Mongols, etc.-Iranians have been able to survive by assimilating the imposed new cultures into the Iranian culture and by overwhelming them with the rich Iranian ethnicity and nationality.
However, neutralizing and removing the influences of the seventh century Islam-Arab attack on Iran due to its strong entanglement with Islam have been an on-going struggle for Iranians throughout the centuries. This struggle started very early in every aspect of Iranian cultural, political, and religious lives.
For example, after the Islam-Arab invasion of the seventh century, Iran was the first and the only country that recovered its distinct Iranian identity from its victorious enemy. Iran alone retained its Persian language, which it still uses, while the rest of the countries that were conquered by the Arabs lost their original language, and today they speak Arabic. Although many Iranian scholars, poets, writers, and scientists contributed greatly to enriching the Arabic language and culture, they nevertheless maintained their own distinct Iranian identity. For example, one of the most important contributions of Iranian scholars to the Arabic language was the development of the Arabic grammar by the Iranian scholar Siboyeh.
Overall, Iranians retained a strong awareness of their homeland as something much more than just a physical place. The reason is very obvious. Iran was NOT just another place that Arabs subjugated. Iran was a political entity (the Persian Empire) centuries prior to the creation of Islam or the formation of the Arab countries. And memories of that independence and greatness were very much fresh in Iranian's cultural memory. Sigmund Freud(7) refers to this memory as the collective or cultural memories of a nation or a group of people. This collective and cultural memory has helped Iranians to maintain their nationality and not adopt the Arab identity despite the fact that many of them were forced to adopt Islam.
Interestingly, even today, if someone mistakenly calls an Iranian an "Arab," the speaker will be informed very politely and promptly that he or she is not an Arab but an Iranian (or a Persian).
Iranian Poets and Thinkers Leading the Struggle . . .
As part of restoring Iran's identity and sense of nationality after the seventh century Islam-Arab attack, Iran's greatest poet of all time, Ferdowsi(8), tells the courageous, noble, and heroic deeds of ancient Iran and Iranians in his masterpiece Shahnameh (Book of Kings). In this beautiful poem Ferdowsi uses poetic rhymes so simple that every Iranian, regardless of his or her literacy, can memorize these stories and be proud of his or her Iranian identity and past. Many of the Shahnameh stories have served to strengthen and to reinforce the sense of Iranian identity and Iranian nationality within the Islamic and Arab folds. Thus Shahnameh became Iran's national epic and for many Iranians more important than their holy book.
Due to Ferdowsi's great contribution to Iranian identity and ethnicity, the Islamic clergies of the time did not allow his body to be buried in a Moslem cemetery, forcing Iranians to bury their poet in his private garden. Finally, after many centuries, the great Reza Shah Pahlavi in the twentieth century built a beautiful, well-deserved tomb for this great patriotic poet of Iran.
Nader Naderpour (1929-2000) believed that the reason that Ferdowsi started Shahnameh with the story of creation (similar to the structure of many holy religious books) was to make Shahnameh as important as a holy book in the mind of Iranians. Naderpour believed that Ferdowsi was successful in achieving this noble and gallant objective. Incisive as always, Naderpour also felt that Book of Kings should be translated as The Best Book. His reasoning is well founded: In Farsi the prefix shah- means "best" (for example, shahroud means "the best river"), and nameh means "book" (it has other meanings too). Therefore, Shahnameh can also be translated as "The Best Book."
In this endeavor, Ferdowsi was not alone. In different eras many others tried to recover the past glories and also restore Iranian national identity (to replace the religious identity), including great Iranians poets and thinkers such as Khayyām, Hāfez, Iraj, Dehkhoda, Hedayat, and Naderpour. Iranian Constitutional thinkers such as Âkhundzadeh(9), Talebof Tabrizi(10), Mirza Agha Khan Kermani(11), and Mirza Jahangir Khan Shirazi(12) supported this endeavor as well by contributing to Iranians' progress toward modernity and secularism in Iran's 1906 Constitutional Revolution.(13)
They all supported and advocated Iran's greatness prior to the Islam-Arab attack of the seventh century and tried their best to inform and educate Iranians of their pre-Islamic past as a vehicle to create a patriotic sense in people as well as to limit and stop the power of the Islamic clergies over people's lives, thus personalizing the notion of religion and separating it from the governing elements of Iran's societies-for good.
"Islamic Republic of Iran" or "Second Islamic-Arab Attack on Iran"?
From the first days of the Islamic Revolution of 1979, one of the key objectives of the Mullahs (Moslem clergymen) and the ruling Islamic government of Iran has been the promotion of the idea of having one great Islamic Nation (called "omat-e Islam") among Iranians and other Shiite-based countries in the region. Ayatollah Khomeini, in order to completely deny Iran and its past history, continuously discussed the idea of "omat-e Islam" and continuously emphasized that Iranians are part of the Islamic "omat-e" and that the Iranian nation and Iranian identity have no meaning. According to Khomeini, Westerners, in order to divide Moslems, created the idea of nation, nationality, and identity. To advance his ideology, even during the eight years the Iran-Iraq war, one of Khomeini's ridiculous objectives was to advance his Shiite-centered Islamic Revolution all the way to the holy sites in the heart of Israel-thus destroying Israel!
To promote the Islamic identity, and at the same time disparage and destroy the Iranian identity, the Islamic government of Iran has been using every possible means, such as:
- Stoning people. Cutting off fingers, right hands, left legs (or vice versa). Gouging eyes. All are now commonly practiced in Islamic Iran.
- Deemphasizing the notion of Iranian nationality in every official government statement. In many government documents even the name "Iran" is omitted.
- Destroying thousands of Iranian historical places and important ancient artwork (or selling them for personal gain). At the beginning of the Islamic Revolution, the infamous Khalkhali (Khomeini's right hand and the famous butcher of thousands of Iranians) tried to destroy Persepolis(14), which is one of the most important historical places in the world. He was stopped by the local people who risked their lives in confronting this maniac.
- Renaming many Iranian streets from, for example, "Cyrus the Great" to "Dr. Shariati," an Islamic-Marxist promoter.
- Commemorating the murder of Anvar Sadat by naming a street in Tehran after his murderer, Khaled Estanboli.
- Trying to replace the Iranian New Year Noerouz(15) (literally "new day") with a Moslem New Year and preventing Iranians from celebrating all the festivities associated with New Year. They failed big time! Iranians have been celebrating Noerouz and its associated festivities more than ever before as an instrument to show their Iranian independence and identity. Significantly, even during the eight-year Iran-Iraq War, Iranians under Iraqi attack in the southwest provinces still celebrated Noerouz to show their resentment toward their external Arab oppressors and their internal Islamic-government tormenters. Proof indeed that Iranians were willing to fight the imposed ideologies and to protect their rich Iranian ethnicity and nationality.
- Incorporating many new Arabic words and phrases into the Persian language in a deliberate attempt to further damage and weaken the Persian language.
- Destroying many Iranian symbols and replacing them with Islamic signs.
- Deemphasizing the roles of great Iranian poets and thinkers who were free thinkers or were against Islamic rule in Iran.
- Removing the Lion and Sun symbol (which has nothing to do with the Pahlavi Dynasty) from the Iranian flag and, instead, adding the symbol of Hindu-Sikhs.
- Changing the symbol of the Iranian Red Cross to an Arabic version.
- Killing, torturing, or jailing anyone who is against the Islamic system.
- And much more.
That is why Nader Naderpour, in his famous article "In Hope of a Third Movement,"(16) describes the Islamic Revolution of 1979 as the second Islamic invasion on Iran. In Naderpour's opinion, since the seventh century Arab attack, Iranian thinkers tried twice-unsuccessfully-to rid themselves of Islamic governmental rule. In his article he describes how the Constitutionalists (in Iran's Constitutional Revolution of 1906) tried to separate religion and state, and to replace "religious identity" with "national identity" in Iran for good.
One More Time . . . The Challenge Is On!
Unfortunately, these days the Islamic government of Iran is getting direct and unprecedented support from its European friends to reach its past-due objectives. Direct support from European countries is a win-win model for both Europe and the Islamic government of Iran-but of course the unfortunate losers would be Iran and the Iranian people
but only if Iranians allow it.
The latest European-promoted and -supported strategy of bestowing Iranians with the new title "Moslem" is part of a much bigger vision, part of a planned strategy that has became apparent since Khatami started his dog-and-pony reformist show more than six years ago.
These days, the European cheerleaders are labeling the collaborators and associates of the Islamic government of Iran with ridiculous slogans such as "Modern Islam," "Modern Islamic Women," "Modern Islamic World," "Modern Islamic Civilizations," and "Gentler Islam," all in an effort to extend the life of the Islamic government of Iran for a couple of more decades with a different image. A softer and a gentler radicalism! A true oxymoron
They are doing their best to destroy the notion of Iranian identity and to promote Islamic fundamentalism as the cultural identity for Iranians-of course, a softer version of Islamic fundamentalism-to further distance Iranians' struggle toward modernity and Western Civilization.
The objective of European countries, G8, China, etc., is very clear: They all know very well that a religious government in Iran is the best instrument to distance Iran and Iranians from Western Civilization and from individualism, social freedom, democracy, and secularism. These countries know that only a chaotic and oppressive system in Iran continues to bring them financial benefits such as:
- Low-cost oil and gas prices (actually below actual production cost)
- Weapon sales (the result of local conflicts and wars)
- Increased business resulting from war-damaged infrastructures
- And much more
We Have a Choice: We Can Fight Back and Stop This Nonsense!
We Iranians who live either forced or self-imposed lives in exile need to use the freedom that we have along with every possible legal and democratic means available to us to FIGHT BACK and not allow this anti-Iranian movement to become Iran's next default alternative and Iran's political scenario for the next few decades.
Every newspaper, every TV and radio station, every government official that substitutes "Moslem" for "Iranian" should be bombarded with phone calls, faxes, emails, and letters against this "Islamic identity."
The same way that the collaborators and associates of the Islamic government of Iran, the leftover Iranian leftists, and their European cheerleaders are using the media to label us "Moslems," we must to the same extent show our disapproval by voicing our opinions and expressing our strongest resentment. How else can we end this dark anti-Iranian campaign?
With Pride and Honor, We Have One Simple Message for the Whole World: "Call Me an Iranian, Not a Moslem"
This is the time to resign once and for all from the "silent majority" and join all those Iranians who care for Iran in this praiseworthy and commendable endeavor. Just say NO to this pro-Islamic and anti-Iranian campaign.
Let us be the last generation of Iranians who experience either a self-imposed or a forced life in exile. Iran deserves much more! So do you! And so do all of us!
P.O. Box 51330, Irvine, CA 92619 Mafie@att.net
1 - This quote is also listed in Mehregan Magazine, Volume 12, Numbers 1 & 2, Spring & Summer 2003, p 16.
2 - Lewis, Bernard, The Multiple Identities of the Middle East. New York: Schocken Books, p. 87.
3 - Olmstead, A.T., History of The Persian Empire. Chicago: The University of the Chicago Press, p. 125.
4 - Olmstead, A.T., History of The Persian Empire. Chicago: The University of the Chicago Press, p. 130.
5 - Olmstead, A.T., History of The Persian Empire. Chicago: The University of the Chicago Press, p. 175.
6 - Lewis, Bernard, The Middle East. New York: Scribner, p. 135.
7 - Freud tried to demonstrate how nothing that has been formed in mental life can perishdespite the depredations of memory. He believed that everything is somehow preserved and can, in suitable circumstances, once more be brought back to light.
8 - Ferdowsi, Hakim Abuol Ghasm (9401020; dates approximate), He undertook his epic Book of Kings (More than 60,000 verses long), a history of Persia that begins with the arrival of the Persians and ends with the arrival of the Arabs, in an effort to glorify Persias past. Variant spellings: Firdausi, FirdawsI, Ferdusi, and Firdousi.
9 - Âkhundzadeh, Mirza Fath-Ali (18121878), He edited and wrote many books, including The Story of the Deceived Stars (Dastan-e Setaregan-e Farib Khordeh), The Story of Pushkins Death (Dastan-e Marke Pushkin), and The Russian Poet (Sher-e Rousi).
10 - Talebof Tabrizi, Abdol-Rahim (18341911), He is one of the first Persian writers who encouraged Iranians to write science fiction and plays and to translate books, and he stressed writing in simple language. He wrote and edited many books, including Ahmads Book (Ketab-e Ahmad), Physics, and A Brief History of Islam (Tarikh-e Mokhtasar-e Islam).
11 - Mirza Agha Khan Kermani (18531896; dates approximate), Born in Kerman (in southeastern Iran), Kermani studied mathematics, natural sciences, and English and French. He was a writer of the Iranian enlightenment and sought to associate the Iranian people with the "advanced, Aryan" Europeans.
12 - Mirza Jahangir Khan Shirazi (18751908), Publisher of the newspaper Soresrafil during the Constitutional movement. His name became synonymous with his famous newspaper. Because of his newspaper editorials, he was hanged by Mohammad Ali Shah Ghajar.
13 - Brown, Edward G. The Persian Revolution 19051909, Mage Publisher, 1995.
14 - The magnificent ruins of Persepolis are located about 400 miles south of Teheran. The exact date of the founding of Persepolis is not known. It is assumed that Darius I began work on the magnificent platform and its structures between 518 and 516 BC, visualizing Persepolis as a showplace and the seat of his vast Achaemenian Empire.
15 - Jamshid, one of the most important and most famous kings in Iranian mythology, started Noerouz (literally new day), the Iranian New Year celebration at the beginning of Spring.
16 - An English translation of this article is available in: Mafie, Farhad, Nader Naderpour (1929-2000): Iranian Poet, Thinker, and Patriot. New York: Mellen Press, 2002. The original Persian version of this article is available on: www.Naderpour.org.
In his article In Hope of a Third Movement, Naderpour explains why two historical Iranian thinker movements, as he calls them, failed, and he describes how a third movement is needed to help Iran and Iranians rid themselves, once and for all, from the tyranny of Islamic domination. Understanding Erfan, the first movement that Naderpour addresses in his article, is key to appreciating Naderpours position. Erfan is often incorrectly associated simply with Sufism. Naderpour makes clear that Erfan was a product of Iranian thinkers and that it was a philosophical ideology, not a religion or a branch of Islam. The second movement, according to Naderpour, was the Constitutional Revolution of 1906, when Iranian thinkers tried to separate church and state, that is, to end Islamic rule over Iran. http://iranvajahan.net/cgi-bin/news.pl?l=en&y=2003&m=11&d=18&a=2
posted on 11/18/2003 12:07:05 AM PST
Wider Split Between U.S. and Europe Over Iran
International Herald Tribune - By Thomas Fuller
Nov 18, 2003
BRUSSELS, Nov. 17 The split between Europe and the United States over Iran's nuclear program widened on Monday with the foreign policy chief of the European Union saying that the Iranian government had been honest about its nuclear work and Secretary of State Colin L. Powell saying that such a conclusion went too far.
The two are to meet here on Tuesday, and on Thursday the International Atomic Energy Agency is to decide if Iran has violated the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, a finding that would send the issue to the United Nations Security Council for possible sanctions.
The Bush administration has said that Iran has a covert nuclear weapons program, while many officials in Europe have been more conciliatory about Iran's efforts to comply with international inspections.
"They have been honest," Javier Solana, the European Union foreign policy chief, said here on the sidelines of a meeting of European Union foreign ministers and defense ministers. "Let's see if they continue all the way to the end."
In Washington, Mr. Powell said he disagreed with Mr. Solana's assessment. "I wouldn't have gone quite as far," he told reporters, according to Agence France-Presse.
Mr. Powell said the United States believed that Iran's nuclear development program "had an intent to produce a nuclear weapon."
But he also said that diplomatic efforts by the foreign ministers of Britain, France and Germany had been "very, very helpful."
The three foreign ministers visited Tehran last month and obtained a promise that the Iranian government would stop enriching uranium.
Mr. Solana said it was his hope that the International Atomic Energy Agency would not recommend that Iran appear before the Security Council.
The European Union has pursued a policy of engagement with Iran and is negotiating new trade and investment agreements contingent on political factors like Iran's human rights record and its policies toward its neighbors. http://www.daneshjoo.org/generalnews/article/publish/article_3615.shtml
posted on 11/18/2003 12:08:50 AM PST
To: DoctorZIn; McGavin999; Eala; AdmSmith; dixiechick2000; nuconvert; onyx; Pro-Bush; Valin; ...
Power games in Washington will undermine freedom in Iran
The Daily Star
18th of Nov, 2003
There has been a recent surge in US congressional initiatives to, allegedly, enhance democracy and freedom in Iran through the introduction of legislative bills. This specifically included, in July, the Iran Democracy Act, proposed by Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas; in September, the Iran Freedom and Democracy Support Act, introduced by California Representative Brad Sherman; and, in October, the New Iran Libya Sanctions Act (ILSA), introduced by Florida Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.
The bill introduced by Sherman into the House is a tougher version of Brownbacks Senate bill. It includes two new provisions that may result in the termination of World Bank loans to Iran and a reversal of the process of partial elimination of sanctions on trade in agriculture, carpets and handicrafts between Iran and the US initiated during former President Bill Clintons administration.
However, the lawmakers are finding themselves in growing disharmony with the emerging Iran policy at the White House and State Department. This is ironic since it comes on the heels of a particularly successful effort by the European Union to obtain the blessing of Iranian hard-liners for Irans signing of the additional protocol to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty on Oct. 21.
Some argue that increasing US difficulties in Iraq seem to have changed US President George W. Bushs tough stance against Iran. This apparent backing away from the axis of evil policy was reflected in two recent congressional appearances, one by Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, the other by Deputy Assistant Treasury Secretary William E. Schuerch. Armitage declared that that the US was prepared to hold limited discussions with Iran on topics of mutual interest. And Schuerch argued that the Treasury Department did not see much virtue in further pressuring the World Bank, noting the department would continue pursuing its current policies.
Despite intense questioning from Sherman, who seemed to suggest that every penny the World Bank loaned to Iran would end up supporting international terrorism and the pursuit of weapons of mass destruction, Schuerch sought to avoid answering questions that were, in his view, under the jurisdiction of the State Department. At times Sherman sounded more like Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld or former Pentagon official Richard Perle laying the groundwork for the invasion of Iraq, than a Democrat who has traditionally been more on the liberal side of domestic and international issues.
Why have congressional Democrats, led by staunch supporters of Israels Likud Party, allied themselves so closely with the neoconservatives? This is partly a result of relentless efforts by lobbyists and analysts such as Michael Ledeen of the American Enterprise Institute and Patrick Clawson of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. They have long been trying to promote the argument that Iranian reformists are defeated, that the hard-liners are fully in charge and that Iran is forcefully backing international terrorism and is clandestinely developing nuclear weapons.
Recently, Clawson indicated, in support of the Sherman bill, that if Irans oil revenues fell, World Bank funding would be a major source of foreign exchange for the Iranian economy. This was highly inaccurate: World Bank loans to Iran since May 2000 have amounted to $783 million, while Irans annual oil revenue usually totals more than $20 billion. It is also worth underlining that all World Bank loans to Iran go to humanitarian or development projects meeting basic needs.
Clawson also twisted the facts by arguing that 70 percent of the Iranian economy was run by shadowy foundations. The only documented figure regarding the scope of direct productive activities of public enterprises in Iran is based on their contribution of up to 60 percent of the total value-added in the industrial sector. Although the revenues generated by state enterprises might be affected by corruption and the pursuit of political objectives by hard-liners, it would be a stretch to consider them shadowy foundations. When I questioned Clawson about this after the hearing, he indicated that he was quoting a statement by an Iranian official.
Interestingly, Clawson presented a similar view in 1996, when the original version of ILSA was being debated. The legislation was the start of a gradual rift between the US on one hand and Europe and the international community on the other when it came to dealing with Iran. However, it failed to discourage major oil companies such as Shell, TotalFinaElf, Agip and Petronas from investing in Iran.
Perhaps the most erroneous aspect of the neocons reading of Iran is their underestimation of the strength of the democratic movement. Irans democratic struggle is led by a new breed of political and intellectual leaders, both inside and outside the country. Such reformists have taken advantage of new information technology and a relatively more open post-revolutionary intellectual and political environment. Their distinguishing characteristic is a rich understanding of Iranian history and of the strengths and shortcomings of their culture. They appreciate the redundancies in such notions as Islamic democracy and classless Islamic society. They recognize the pitfalls of relying on foreign support and intervention, but also the significance of international public opinion and the inner workings of international politics.
Therefore, it is best to avoid allowing questionable information and biased observation to divert valuable energies and resources in both the US and Iran. These resources could be better used to promote freedom, democracy and development in the region.
Mehrdad Valibeigi is an international economic consultant and professorial lecturer of economics in Washington. He wrote this commentary for THE DAILY STAR http://www.dailystar.com.lb/opinion/18_11_03_c.asp
posted on 11/18/2003 4:04:37 AM PST
by F14 Pilot
Powell shops for support on Iran, seeks unity on Iraq
WHNT News Channel
Brussels, Belgium-AP -- Iraq and Iran are topics the secretary of state will take on as he meets with European Union ministers in Brussels, Belgium today.
Colin Powell hopes to get the leaders to focus on how the United Nations can fit into a U-S backed plan for having Iraqis take charge of their government by next June.
Powell says the U-S wants the U-N to play a role in the transition.
The secretary also hopes to convince governments that appear satisfied with the pace of Iranian cooperation with the U-N nuclear agency. Powell will seek backing for possible U-N sanctions unless Iran proves it's not trying to develop nuclear weapons.
Powell acknowledged Britain, France and Germany for playing a "very helpful role" in pressing Iran to cooperate -- but says he doesn't think the matter is finished. http://www.whnt19.com/Global/story.asp?S=1529609
posted on 11/18/2003 4:07:19 AM PST
by F14 Pilot
The objective of European countries, G8, China, etc., is very clear: They all know very well that a religious government in Iran is the best instrument to distance Iran and Iranians from Western Civilization and from individualism, social freedom, democracy, and secularism.
posted on 11/18/2003 4:44:31 AM PST
The elites believe that democracy and freedom aren't for everyone. Their audacity turns my stomach.
posted on 11/18/2003 5:34:13 AM PST
by Pan_Yans Wife
(You may forget the one with whom you have laughed, but never the one with whom you have wept.)
To: Pan_Yans Wife
Iran Says It Will Not Meddle In Iraqi Affairs
Tehran, 18 November 2003 (RFE/RL)
Iran's official IRNA news agency says Iran again assured Iraq that it will not interfere in its affairs. The assurance was made today by Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi (pictured) to visiting Iraqi Governing Council chairman Jalal Talabani.
Kharrazi said that Tehran is ready to help bring about stability to Iraq. He called for the establishment of an independent and strong Iraqi government based on the will of the Iraqi people.
Iranian President Mohammed Khatami for the first time yesterday expressly recognized the U.S.-backed interim Iraqi Governing Council after meeting with Talabani.
Khatami said Iran's government does recognize the Iraqi Governing Council and believes it is capable, with the Iraqi people, of managing the affairs of the country and taking measures leading toward independence. http://www.rferl.org/nca/features/2003/11/18112003074349.asp
posted on 11/18/2003 7:13:31 AM PST
by Pan_Yans Wife
(You may forget the one with whom you have laughed, but never the one with whom you have wept.)
To: F14 Pilot
WE NEED YOUR HELP! Please call your Rep TODAY
Legion Opposes OMB on VA Funding
WASHINGTON, November 14, 2003 - The morning after President George W. Bush delivered his Veterans Day message at Arlington National Cemetery, the administrations Office of Management and Budget in writing opposed an additional $1.3 billion for the Department of Veterans Affairs health care budget and reiterated its call to charge many veterans seeking treatment at VA a $250 annual enrollment fee and to raise the pharmacy co-payment from $7 to $15.
A veteran is a veteran, American Legion National Commander John Brieden said. The law was changed in the 90s to allow all veterans to seek treatment at VA. Although OMB is willing to wield the budget to repel veterans from seeking treatment at VA, the men and women of The American Legion as well as Republicans and Democrats in Congress remain determined not to let that happen.
Brieden made the Legions case to Congress perfectly clear Sept. 16 when he testified here before a joint hearing session of House and Senate committees on Veterans Affairs. Simply put: Health care for veterans is the delayed cost of war. Therefore, if Congress can meet the presidents request for an additional $87 billion to fund the ongoing war in Iraq, then Congress also can raise an additional $1.8 billion next year, and a $3 billion increase the following year, to meet the health care needs of veterans.
A blueprint passed by the House in April called for a Legion-backed $27.1 billion for the system, but in July the House approved an appropriations bill that called for $25.3 billion. Therein lies the $1.8 billion spending gap that the Legion, the nations largest veterans organization, is fighting alongside other veterans groups to close. As the spending bill for VA-HUD and Independent Agencies makes its way through the Senate, an amendment offered by Sen. Christopher Bond of Missouri -- an amendment that has bipartisan support -- could fill the chasm by $1.5 billion. Congress is also poised to remove the Senate Appropriations Committees emergency designation from $1.3 billion targeted for VA health care, and to send the entire increase directly to VA.
How badly does VA need the money? The American Legions I Am Not A Number survey in May identified scores of the more than 200,000 veterans who had been waiting from six months to two years for their initial primary-care appointments at VA. Recent news media accounts noted veterans of the ongoing war on terror also having trouble accessing the system. Although VA reports tremendous recent success in whittling down the backlog, about 164,000 veterans in the lowest of VAs eight priority-treatment groups have been suspended from enrolling in the VA health care system since January because VA lacks the resources to serve all of the veterans who are lawfully eligible for treatment.
The American Legion is fighting to switch the VA health care budget from discretionary funding, which Congress must approve each fiscal year, to mandatory funding, just like Social Security and Medicare, whereby federal dollars are allocated by a formula to meet the systems demands. The nations largest veterans organization also wants to end the restriction that keeps veterans from using their Medicare benefits to pay for treatment at VA.
Read the entire Statement of Administration Policy:
Download Statement (PDF file)
posted on 11/18/2003 7:56:54 AM PST
(Wave your flag, dont waive your rights!)
Iran's Nuclear Two-Step
November 18, 2003
The recent national news headline that the International Atomic Energy Agency had found no evidence Iran had used its illegal nuclear program to develop nuclear weapons says much more about the IAEAs incompetence than it does about the Islamic Republics benevolence. The choice of the headlines focus, however, speaks volumes about media bias.
Although the IAEA revealed that Iran had nurtured a heretofore unknown 18-year-old covert nuclear program, McPaper (USA Today) chose to lead with the No Evidence headline, as did CNN, Yahoo, the Financial Times and most newspapers around the country. So, too, did most cable news organizations. Indeed, the headline was all most Americans saw of the story, as it whizzed below the news anchors desk, surrounded by blockbusters like, Artists Pay Tribute to Johnny Cash and Hilton Sex Tape Scandal Heats Up.
The AP story reproduced in USA Today also fails to mention several key components of the report, not the least of which is Irans production of low-enriched uranium (LEUs) and plutonium, the chief material used in nuclear weapons.
Not all headlines were devoid of the IAEA reports actual findings. The New York Times reported in ho-hum fashion that Iran produced a small amount of plutonium. The NYT, along with the Associated Press and MSNBC, also emphasized that Irans new honesty and openness constituted a setback for the bloodthirsty Bush Administration. Even the far-Left Mother Jones was more balanced in its approach to the reports true dimensions.
The no evidence statement was by far the most perfunctory, legalistic, qualified and misleading statement in a 29-page report filled with explosive revelations about Irans nuclear quest (of which, more below). Why, then, did the mainstream media outlets focus on that portion of the report? Because it would discredit the Bush Administration. The neoconservatives advising the President had long claimed Tehran purposed to create a nuclear weapons program, and here was evidence that Bush was lying again. With a rapidly improving economy, Iraq is becoming the Democrats only line of attack against Bush in 04. Thus, the media have done their leftist partys bidding by denying any Weapons of Mass Destruction have been found in Iraq, showing the world that the POTUS has been proven wrong by UN inspectors in a second Axis of Evil nation.
Except This Evidence
Any competent investigation of the IAEA report would have noted its disturbing picture of Irans advanced nuclear program, and asked whether the report even includes all the regimes progress. As the report reveals, Irans nuclear program, which the world had believed to be only a year or two old, in fact stretches back more than a generation nearly as far as Iraqs infamous Osirak reactor. Iran (which purchased its reactor at Bushehr from Russia) has concealed this program for nearly two decades by lying, dissembling and deceiving UN inspectors. Over the years, Iran has created small amounts of low-enriched uranium and plutonium and has attempted to enrich uranium with lasers for 12 years. Irans mullah-ocracy has also dismantled the plant where these laser experiments had been conducted, before IAEA agents could inspect the grounds.
The medias ridiculous paraphrase of the IAEA report notwithstanding, a few news organizations did a commendable job of reporting this blockbuster exposé. First among these is the Washington Post by no means a conservative media outlet which reported on its front page, Iran Had Secret Nuclear Plan, UN Agency Says. All of the foregoing facts came directly from its multi-page article of November 10.
The Post seemingly alone reported the IAEAs reaction to Tehran: far from merely declaring there is no evidence that Iran has produced nuclear weapons, the UN watchdog has declared Iran has played a deadly nuclear shell game with inspectors for the better part of two decades, breaking its international agreements in the process. The IAEA report noted, Irans policy of concealment continued until last month, with cooperation being limited and reactive
changing and contradictory. Feeling serious concerns, one former inspector openly pondered whether the Islamist regime was merely guessing what it thinks the IAEA already knows. The report concluded that Iran has failed in a number of instances over an extended period of time to meet its obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
No Other Logical Conclusion
Outside experts have been equally outspoken. Its quite clear now that Iran has engaged in willful and systematic deception over more than a decade, said Michael Levi of the liberal Brookings Institution. Even more to the point, Thomas B. Cochran of the Natural Resources Defense Council fumed, It's dumbfounding that the IAEA, after saying that Iran for 18 years had a secret effort to enrich uranium and separate plutonium, would turn around and say there was no evidence of a nuclear weapons program. If that's not evidence, I don't know what is.
Indeed, the very existence of a nuclear program ought to sound alarm bells. Why would Iran, sitting upon an ocean of petroleum, build a nuclear plant for energy, its purported use? The paradox set some of those neoconservatives in the White House asking what a repressive Islamist nation which is a state sponsor of terrorism, has a history of anti-American violence and is developing advanced Shehab-3 missiles in need of payloads would want with enriched uranium and plutonium. There can be only one serious answer, yet the media continue to indulge their Pollyanna optimism, not because they actually believe in the goodness of Iran, but because they believe the lying Bush Administration is the greater threat to world peace.
The Inept IAEA
IF THE REPORTING IS BAD, the situation is far worse. Despite IAEAs transparent frustration and desire for particularly robust verification programs, Iran represents a problem the IAEA has proven it cannot solve. Gabriel Schoenfeld notes the agencys tremendous shortcomings in the current issue of Commentary Magazine (The Terror Ahead, November 2003). For one, the IAEA can only inspect sites the nation being inspected declares under the agencys safeguard; any facility not so declared is off-limits. These need not be declared until 180 days before radioactive material enters the site itself. A few hundred inspectors must oversee 1,000 worldwide reactors under its safeguard, many in stable, First World democracies unlikely to use nuclear weapons nor pass them on to a third party (terrorists).
These conditions make it difficult for the agency to find nuclear programs in nations cooperating with its inspectors. Hidden nuclear facilities would be impossible to detect.
Same Dance, Different Partner
Irans nemesis Saddam Hussein has famously given the UNs international nuclear inspectors the two-step over the past 18 years. Before the Gulf War, Saddams nuclear program went undetected. Although bound by his 1991 peace treaty to comply with inspectors, Saddam gave inspectors the slip time and again, switching nuclear material from one site to another, hiding equipment at undisclosed locations and denying inspectors the right to inspect some areas. Only when the IAEA found classified Iraqi documents did it find, in Schoenfelds words, Iraq was in possession of 400 tons of previously undisclosed radioactive materials, including six grams of clandestinely produced plutonium and more than 35 kilograms of highly enriched uranium.
Naturally, after Saddam kicked the inspectors out of Iraq in 1998, the UN lost all track of the nations weapons programs, nuclear or otherwise. In his few months in the nation, Dr. David Kay
and his team have proven more effective than the entire pre-war IAEA team, forced to jump through Saddams hoops. Can one expect the IAEAs experience with Iraqs neighbor to be any different? If inspectors failed to find undisclosed Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq (even those already found by Kay), how shall they do so in Iran, which is nearly four times Iraqs size?
Why the Cooperation?
One sees in Iranian President Khatami the same cooperation extended by Saddam for years: limited and grudging cooperation, confessions to programs the IAEA already knows about in order to prove ones goodwill, and desperate behind-the-scenes clamor to speed up the quest for a doomsday device. This representative quotation speaks best of his attitude:
We have repeated so many times, myself the (Supreme) Leader and other officials, that we are not following the path of pursuing nuclear weapons. Its not important what machinery we have, its important that we are not pursuing nuclear weapons.
Yes, and pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.
Why Irans sudden cooperation with inspectors now? As Reza Bayegan has pointed out in these very pages, Iran has agreed to a sigheh, a temporary marriage to the law-abiding IAEA regime in order to buy enough time to finish its first nuclear weapon. Submitting to sham inspections, even ever-so-haltingly, will buy Tehran enough legitimacy on the world stage to hold off a military strike. (Even Tony Blair is on board with the Tehran inspections.) And once Iran has a nuclear weapon, an attack will be too late at too uncertain a price. Tehrans mullahs see how differently the United States treats nuclear North Korea and fumbling Iraq. Even the Bush Administration has promised material rewards to Pyongyang for compliance with NPT (probably a worthless compliance, at that), whereas Saddam, if he is alive, is sweltering in a Tikrit bunker burning candles before the pictures of his two slain sons. Iran knows which example it wants to follow. And we must not let it accomplish that goal.
Ben Johnson is Associate Editor of FrontPage Magazine. http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=10825
New York Post - By Murray Weiss
Nov 18, 2003
Two Iranian diplomats who arrived in New York recently to work at their country's U.N. mission are being investigated by the FBI after a transit cop caught them videotaping the subway in Queens, The Post has learned.
The sharp-eyed officer spotted the suspicious pair entering the elevated station at Roosevelt Avenue and 52nd Street in Woodside at 1:30 a.m. Sunday and shooting tape in various directions as they waited for a Manhattan-bound No. 7 train.
The cop continued to watch the two men after they boarded the train and continued to shoot video.
As the train reached the Courthouse Square station, the officer approached the pair to question them.
The men indicated they did not speak English, so cops located a Farsi-speaking officer.
The men said they worked for Iran's U.N. mission, which afforded them diplomatic immunity, and said they had been coming back from a party.
Sources said the Iranians arrived in the United States, via Vienna, on Oct. 22 on three-month visas.
The cops confiscated their camera, which contained about 10 minutes of video - all shot in the subway. There was no recording of a party on the tape.
The FBI-NYPD Joint Terrorist Task Force was notified and an FBI spokesman said yesterday, "We are investigating all aspects of this incident."
Iranian officials could not immediately be reached for comment.
Sources said there have been similar cases, but in most of them the suspects appeared to be "freelance operatives" or "terrorist wannabes" who turned the tapes over to anti-American operatives in foreign countries to score points.
But there have been several serious incidents involving Middle Eastern men - from nations aligned with international terrorist groups, including al Qaeda - caught videotaping landmarks and bridges.
"Sometimes they run away when they're approached and rip out the tape they shot to destroy it," one source said.
The latest case was not the first time employees at Iran's U.N. mission have been caught shooting video in suspicious circumstances.
In June 2002, two security employees at the mission were caught casing the Statue of Liberty, the Brooklyn Bridge and entrances to tunnels leading into Manhattan.
They were expelled. http://www.nypost.com/news/regionalnews/11115.htm
LET IRAQ'S PEOPLE VOTE
By AMIR TAHERI
November 18, 2003 -- THE Bush administration's decision to announce a timetable for setting up a provisional government in Baghdad has already drawn the jeers of the "Hate America" crowds from Paris to London to Washington.
The fact is, however, that what the administration proposes to do is what it should have done immediately after the fall of Saddam Hussein.
In a column published in The Post on March 2, less than three weeks before the war started, I argued against direct U.S. rule, urging the administration to quickly set up an Iraqi provisional government.
"The provisional government," I wrote, "would then sign accords under which the U.S.-led forces would be invited to stay in Iraq at its discretion and for the performance of precise tasks. Thus, legally speaking, Iraq would not become occupied territory but host to an allied force for a fixed period.
"The provisional government would then fulfill Iraq's obligations under the 18 U.N. resolutions, preparing the way for a lifting of the sanctions."
I suggested that if the administration studied Iraq's history, it would "realize that the British, who created the modern Iraqi state, did not try to rule it directly but depended on the local elites for the purpose."
This, however, should not be taken as a criticism of the administration's Iraq policy so far. History is never written in advance; anyone who believes in a seamless application of clever scenarios in complex situations, such as the one in post-liberation Iraq, is naive.
The Coalition's Iraq policy is certain to remain messy, marred by blunders and an easy target for the Hate-America International. All that, however, would matter little once a basic fact is understood: There are two Iraq problems.
The first concerns the situation inside Iraq. The second is Iraq as an issue of domestic politics in Western democracies, especially in the United States and Britain.
As far as the situation inside Iraq is concerned, the Coalition faces fewer problems than this writer, for one, had imagined. There are no tidal waves of refugees and displaced persons, no revenge killings, no land-grab by opportunist gangs and no outbreak of epidemics.
Perhaps most important: There is no popular opposition to the U.S.-led occupation. The Iraqi political, religious and tribal leadership is almost unanimous in demanding that the Coalition forces remain until they are asked to leave by a freely elected government.
At the same time, much of the nation's infrastructure is back to normal while the economy, including oil production, is slowly moving ahead. Despite their success in dominating the headlines for the past few weeks, the terrorist alliance of Saddamites and Islamists represents no serious threat to the Coalition. Lacking popular support, it is doomed to the same fate as its counterparts in other Arab states hit by terrorism in recent years.
Paradoxically, as long as the Saddamites and their Islamist allies remain active, the Coalition will have an easy ride inside Iraq: The Iraqi political parties, and the population at large, would think twice before doing anything that might encourage a return of the ancien regime.
The needs of Bush's re-election campaign may well be the primary reason for speeding up the transfer of power to a provisional Iraqi government. But that does not invalidate the decision. In fact, the terrorist campaign is based on the assumption that it can help defeat Bush's re-election bid in the hope that a Democrat president would withdraw from Iraq, and thus allow the Saddamites to return to power in a Coalition with the Islamists.
The Egyptian government newspaper, Al Ahram, said in a recent analysis that the Iraqi "resistance" was pursuing a two-stage strategy: First, help end Bush's presidency in 2004, and then fill the power vacuum left by a hasty American withdrawal under a new Democrat administration. Thus, any improvement in Bush's re-election prospects would demoralize the Saddamite terrorists and help speed their inevitable demise.
But the Coalition is not at the end of its troubles in Iraq. The transfer of power will not end the terrorist challenge. This will continue for as long as Iraq lacks a proper security apparatus and a credible counter-terrorism force. Right now, the terrorists can strike where and when they like because the Coalition force that faces them is trained and equipped for modern warfare, not fighting a campaign of terror.
The Coalition also faces political problems. Its decision to postpone the writing of a new constitution and the holding of elections in any form is a mistake.
This would prolong a situation in which the majority of the Iraqis, excluded from the political process, remain spectators in a duel between a provisional government appointed by the occupation and a terrorist group under an unknown leadership. And yet the only force that can put Iraq firmly on the path of democratization is that of the Iraqi people. It is that force that provides the real strength of the US-led Coalition at this time.
It may now be too late for the Coalition to change its plans again. But it could still limit the possible damage by doing two things:
* First, demand that all parties and groups in the provisional government sign a document setting out the basic principles of governance in Iraq. These should include respect for human rights, legal equality for citizens regardless of gender, religion and ethnic background, a pluralist political system with free and fair elections, and a foreign policy based on peace and cooperation. The document could be presented as a "national charter" which, in turn, provides the basis for a new constitution.
* Second, submit the "national charter" to the people in a referendum. This does not face the problems that organizing parliamentary elections would in a country with no reliable electoral rolls. All Iraqis age 16 or above should be asked to say yes or no to the proposed charter.
A referendum will bestow on the provisional government a measure of popular legitimacy that it would otherwise lack. It would bring the Iraqi people into the picture by highlighting the principle of national sovereignty. And it would satisfy the Shi'ite leadership, which insists that the power taken away from Saddam revert to the people rather than to parties and personalities who have never faced the test of free elections.
The most effective weapon the Coalition has against the terrorist movement and its sympathizers in Arab and European countries is the Iraqi people. The decision not to consult them for at least another 18 months is a mistake.
At this point in time, the United States and the Iraqi people share a common interest in democratization: the Iraqis because they gain control of their destiny for the first time, and the Americans because a democratic Iraq will not become a base for aggression against neighboring countries and a platform for terrorism against the United States.E-mail: email@example.com http://www.nypost.com/postopinion/opedcolumnists/11028.htm
Powell in Europe to seek support on Iran, Iraq issues
ROBERT WIELAARD, Associated Press Writer
Tuesday, November 18, 2003
(11-18) 02:16 PST BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) --
Secretary of State Colin Powell flew into Brussels on Tuesday seeking to forge an understanding with European governments on a larger U.N. role in Iraq and on preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons.
European Union foreign ministers want to know how the United Nations can fit into a U.S.-backed plan for having Iraqis take charge of their government by next June.
Before leaving Washington Monday, Powell said the United States wants the U.N. to play a role in the transition and is open to a new Security Council resolution on Iraq. He did not elaborate.
Ahead of his talks with EU ministers, Powell was due to meet Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom, who was also in Brussels for discussions with the EU.
On Iran, the United States is at odds with European governments over the level of Tehran's cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency. Powell will seek backing for threatening U.N. sanctions unless Iran demonstrates it is not trying to develop nuclear weapons.
The Europeans, who recently pressed Iran into agreeing to open up to IAEA inspectors, are taking a softer line.
"We have achieved agreements with them, we hope that they will comply with those agreements," the EU's foreign policy chief Javier Solana.
"I think that ... they have been honest," he added. "Let's see if they continue all the way to the end."
Solana spoke after meeting the head of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, Hasan Rowhani, who told the EU his country was committed to signing an additional protocol at the IAEA allowing more checks of its nuclear program.
While paying tribute to European efforts to secure Iran's cooperation with the U.N. agency, Powell said new information provided by the Iranians confirmed that "the Iranian nuclear development program was for more than just the production of power."
European diplomats said it was unlikely Powell would win support for a declaration at the IAEA on Thursday that Tehran is in violation of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty -- a move that could lead to U.N. sanctions.
European diplomats said they were expecting Powell to outline the new U.S. plan for an accelerated transfer of power to Iraqi authorities -- a key demand of Iraqi politicians and European critics of the U.S.-led occupation.
Germany's Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer on Monday welcomed the plan as a "very important step forward." However France's foreign minister said the transition is still too slow.
In an interview published Monday in the French daily Le Croix, Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin urged the Americans to have a provisional government in place by the end of this year -- a demand judged unrealistic by U.S. diplomats.
With U.S. casualties mounting, the United States is seeking more international help in stabilizing Iraq, but France and Germany have resisted appeals for peacekeeping troops and extra reconstruction aid, demanding a transfer of power to an Iraqi administration or the United Nations.
Powell and European officials played down calls for the United States to quickly hand over control of the military operation to the NATO alliance.
"It's premature to think about that," Powell said, while not ruling it out in the longer term.
"As we go further down the road on this new plan (for self-rule) that we have, we could look at a variety of options," he told reporters.
At a meeting at EU headquarters Monday, British Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon said he "could not see any early likelihood" of NATO taking on the mission.
U,S. officials said Powell's talks at the EU would also touch on Afghanistan, terrorism, the Middle East and efforts to stabilize the Balkans.
After Brussels, Powell, was set to join President Bush later Tuesday on his state visit to Britain.
AP Diplomatic Writer Barry Schweid contributed to this report from Washington. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/news/archive/2003/11/18/international0516EST0468.DTL
Sidelined Ayatollah Preaches Moderation
Washington Post - By Karl Vick
Nov 18, 2003
Iranian Censors Limit Cleric's Reach
QOM, Iran -- Ayatollah Ali Meshkini stood erect in the pulpit of this holy city's central mosque, delivering the political portion of his Friday sermon by engaging the 3,000 worshippers in a familiar volley of call and response.
"The first issue and only issue is Palestine," said Meshkini, a lean figure who wore a white turban. "The Great Satan is supporting Israel unconditionally. That's why they are repressing the Palestinians."
"Down with the U.S.A.," chanted the faithful.
A few blocks down Riverbank Street, Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri sat in the house where Iran's government kept him locked away for five years. His audience numbered six, including the man holding a cassette recorder to capture Montazeri's words for posting on his Web site -- provided the Iranian government had not hacked it again.
"I feel irritated whenever I hear this slogan, 'Death to America' or 'Down with America,' " said Montazeri, key architect of the theocracy that he now fights with all the energy an 82-year-old with a heart condition can muster.
"I believe," he said, "that the 300 million people of North America are mostly religious people, hardworking people."
In the pallid, dusty city where politics and theology were knotted 24 years ago and the Islamic Republic of Iran was born, the debate over the wisdom of this country's clerical government remains as lively as the rhetoric ricocheting down Riverbank Street.
As Montazeri received visitors behind a desk stacked with 17 volumes, he looked like an owl in a creamery: He wore a white knit skullcap, a cream-colored sweater opened over a belly upholstered in yet more white. Black-framed glasses with oversized lenses highlighted a searching, occasionally querulous gaze. And when he spoke, his hands danced in front of him, teasing a point, picking a nit.
"People are asking for the promises that were not fulfilled," Montazeri said. "They are asking for freedom, independence and a natural republic. They want freedom of speech, freedom of expression. Now anybody who criticizes the leader, they jail."
The late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the coal-eyed imam who was the Islamic republic's first supreme religious leader, often said Montazeri would succeed him. He called the younger man "the fruit of my life's work."
When Iran was ruled by Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and Khomeini was in exile in Paris, Montazeri was Khomeini's chief representative in Iran. He played a central role in fashioning the clerical government that took power after the 1979 revolution that toppled the shah and in tailoring it to fit Khomeini's outsized presence and broad appeal.
In the 1980s, however, as Iran's theocratic government executed political opponents by the thousands and sent much of a generation to perish in human-wave attacks in the Iran-Iraq war, Montazeri spoke out. "This is wrong," he said at the time.
Khomeini replied by stripping Montazeri of his titles and naming a political aide, Ali Khamenei, as his successor, after a hasty promotion to ayatollah. Khamanei's 1989 accession to supreme religious leader was made official by a clerical council chaired by Meshkini, whose Friday sermon in Qom flashed with the harsh rhetoric that still defines Iran's government to the outside world.
Montazeri said he grew troubled as the clerical class assumed greater and greater authority while Iran became more isolated internationally. "I have condemned occupying the U.S. Embassy. I felt that was a mistake and should not have happened in the first place," Montazeri said of the 444-day hostage drama that cost Iran its diplomatic ties with Washington and bestowed a pariah status in the West upon the theocratic government.
More than two decades later, the embassy takeover is still officially celebrated in Iran. It was a desultory affair this year, attended by schoolchildren on vacation and a few old-timers who blamed the weather for the lackluster turnout. "You should have been here in the first years after the revolution," said one.
Today, public opinion polls indicate most Iranians want to see relations with the United States restored and the power of the religious hard-liners curtailed. Twice, they have voted overwhelmingly for a president, Mohammad Khatami, who promised greater personal freedoms and engagement with the West. But his limited success over six years has resulted in widespread disillusionment.
"All this disappointment is temporary," Montazeri said. "If people want real change, they should do something. If people become aggressive, they can change anything."
Montazeri was arrested and charged with "treason against the revolution" in 1997 after suggesting that the supreme leader "supervise, not rule." Soldiers clad in the distinctive dark green of the Revolutionary Guard shut down his mosque, where he taught 2,000 students. Montazeri was confined to his nearby house.
From there, he continued to lambaste his captors through faxes and a Persian-language Web site. He was released from house arrest in January as reports of his failing health circulated. Analysts said the government was not prepared for the public reaction if he died in custody.
Nor, however, was the government prepared to leave Montazeri unmolested. Last week police arrested 11 people, including two of his sons, after they entered a house that stands between Montazeri's house and his mosque. The property belongs to the family, he said, but now it is occupied by the Revolutionary Guard. The detainees were released the next day.
"Apart from the Web site, they censor the ayatollah from the newspapers, unless he says something bland or about Israel," said Mojtaba Lofti, an aide to Montazeri. "For example, in Tehran, if a student is arrested, the newspapers all mention it. But here, they sent Special Forces from Tehran and attacked 11 people, and the newspapers are not able to write anything about it."
By Iranian standards, Montazeri's views are hardly radical. He favors elected government, greater personal freedoms and the sanctioning of Israel. He called the U.S.-led ouster of Iraq's president, Saddam Hussein, "a good thing," and said that despite the U.S. occupation, "Iraqis are being treated well by the American soldiers."
But among Iran's senior Shiite Muslim clerics, no other ayatollah looms like Montazeri. "His eminence is half the seminary, and the seminary is half of Islam," another grand ayatollah, Jalaeddin Taheri, declared last year. Taheri offered the tribute in a broadside against the Tehran government when he resigned his position as prayer leader in the city of Isfahan.
Now Taheri shares top billing with Montazeri on slick booklets the government publishes attacking both men.
As a grand ayatollah, or marja taghlid, the elder cleric is a "source of emulation." The term implies the democratic element of the Shiite tradition, in which believers choose whom to follow in a historically dynamic faith that those now ruling Iran have tried to freeze in place.
Lofti, Montazeri's aide, flipped through a copy of "The Story of a Separation," a booklet attacking the dissidents.
"What's most interesting," he said, "is these are mostly circulated among military forces." http://www.daneshjoo.org/generalnews/article/publish/article_3616.shtml
To: F14 Pilot
Thanks for the ping!
To: F14 Pilot
Freedom Now ~ Bump!
posted on 11/18/2003 9:54:30 AM PST
Khatami Backs Iraq Governing Council
November 18, 2003
TEHRAN -- Iran's President Mohammad Khatami was quoted on Tuesday as saying his country recognises Iraq's Governing Council, which the Islamic Republic had previously portrayed as a U.S.-installed puppet.
Often rebuked by Washington for meddling in postwar Iraq, Tehran also reassured a visiting Iraqi Governing Council delegation that it had not and would not interfere in its affairs.
''Iran recognises Iraq's Governing Council and believes that no country has the right to interfere in Iraq's state matters,'' newspapers quoted Khatami as saying.
Khatami's comments came during a two-day visit to Tehran by a 17-strong Iraqi Governing Council delegation led by the current Council president, Jalal Talabani.
Khatami stressed the importance of a full transfer of power in Iraq and called on Washington to fulfil its promises and hand over authority to Iraqis as soon as possible.
U.S. officials announced last week that a sovereign Iraqi government would take over from occupation authorities by the end of June 2004.
''Establishing a government in Iraq is impossible except by respecting the Iraqi people's demands,'' Khatami said.
Iranian officials reiterated that Iraq's peace and stability was vital for the Middle East.
Washington has repeatedly accused Iran and Syria of letting foreign militants cross their borders into Iraq to fight U.S. forces there, a charge Tehran and Damascus reject.
At a meeting on Tuesday with Talabani, an Iraqi Kurd, Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi said that ''Tehran's policy is not to interfere in Iraq's internal affairs,'' the official IRNA news agency reported.
Talabani's official visit aims to improve sometimes troubled ties with Iran, with which Iraq fought a bloody war from 1980-88.
Under ousted leader Saddam Hussein, Baghdad believed predominantly Shi'ite Muslim Iran was trying to stir up Iraq's majority Shi'ites against the country's Sunni rulers. Leaders of a Shi'ite faction now represented on the Governing Council formerly spent years in exile in Tehran. http://famulus.msnbc.com/FamulusIntl/reuters11-18-090245.asp?reg=MIDEAST
Europe Too Soft on Iran, Says US
November 18, 2003
US Secretary of State Colin Powell has criticised a draft European resolution on Iran's nuclear weapons programme as not being tough enough.
Mr Powell said he had "a very candid discussion" with EU foreign ministers in Brussels on the issue.
The US wants Iran declared in breach of its nuclear treaty obligations, a move that could lead to UN sanctions.
The EU statement has been submitted to the UN's nuclear watchdog which meets on Thursday to discuss Iran.
Speaking at a news conference in Brussels, Mr Powell said he was pleased that Iran "seems to be moving in the right direction."
But he said the US did not believe that the Iranian Government had abandoned all efforts to produce nuclear weapons.
He said the draft text on Iran offered by Britain, France and Germany was not tough enough on Tehran's non-compliance with its treaty obligations.
"We have some reservations ...about whether the resolution is strong enough to convey to the world the difficulties that we have had with Iran over the years," Mr Powell said.
The BBC's Europe correspondent, Chris Morris, says it is clear there were considerable disagreements between the US and the EU over Iran.
Diplomats familiar with the text said that the three European countries had pressed for a softer position which reflected Tehran's agreement to suspend its uranium enrichment programme and accept inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
While Washington is pushing for Iran to be reported to the Security Council, the European view is that constructive engagement with Iran should be given a chance to work, our correspondent says.
Last week, a report by IAEA inspectors said they had found no evidence that Iran has secretly been developing nuclear weapons.
But they did admonish the Iranian authorities for being secretive.
Iran has warned of serious consequences if the IAEA refers its nuclear programme to the Security Council.
Tehran has always claimed its nuclear programme is designed to meet the country's energy needs. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/3281225.stm
Germany Says Dialogue With Iran Worth the Risk
November 18, 2003
WASHINGTON -- As the United States and the European Union disagreed on Iran in Brussels, German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer argued in Washington on Tuesday that dialogue with Iran was worth the risk of failure.
Fischer was part of a European delegation that persuaded Iran last month to allow tighter supervision of its nuclear programs, which Washington says are designed to make weapons.
The United States has no high-level diplomatic contact with Iran, a country President George W. Bush included in 2002 in his ''axis of evil,'' along with Iraq and North Korea.
The minister put the European case for giving Iran a chance to come clean with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the watchdog body which monitors nuclear programs.
The United States is unhappy about a European resolution which does not find Iran in violation of its nuclear obligations nor refer Iran to the U.N. Security Council
But Fischer said: ''As long as they are in full compliance, we should keep it inside the IAEA, and at the moment I am optimistic about the progress we have made.''
Fischer, speaking to reporters over breakfast, reflected the sharp difference of approach towards Iran, which came to the surface again when U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell met other European foreign ministers in Brussels on Tuesday.
While Washington has singled out Iran as a target in Bush's campaign for Middle East democracy, Fischer said Iran had an strong civil society compared with its Arab neighbors.
''One day I came from Riyadh (in Saudi Arabia) to Tehran, it's striking if you see the difference, and especially also the role of women, and young women. More than 50 percent in higher education are women,'' he said.
''It's a society which has a strong civil society. It's impressive when you are in Tehran, if you compare that with some Arab neighbor states,'' he added.
But he also called Iran a mixed picture, because of its weapons programs and its support for militant groups.
''We try to explore the options and use the positive options. If we fail with our effort, we would be back on square one with all the risk. I don't see that there is a serious risk that we would give ... the Iranians something which would change completely the situation. So let's try,'' he added.
Fischer also disagreed with many U.S. officials on the emphasis they should put on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict when they talk about political change in the Middle East.
U.S. officials try to avoid linking the two. Bush did not mention the conflict in a major speech this month on the need for Middle East democracy.
But Fischer said: ''We are talking about decades and I think that we have to start with a common perspective and solving the Middle East conflict ... is crucial.''
''In the minds of the majority of the Arabs the question of a fair and sustainable peace between Israel and the Palestinians is I think essential,'' he added. http://famulus.msnbc.com/FamulusIntl/reuters11-18-090408.asp?reg=EUROPE
Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-20, 21-26 next last
Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual
posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its
management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the
exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson