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Iranian Alert -- November 20, 2003 -- IRAN LIVE THREAD
The Iranian Student Movement Up To The Minute Reports ^
Posted on 11/20/2003 12:04:04 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; lebanon; protests; qassemsoleimani; southasia; studentmovement; studentprotest; syria
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Join Us At Today's Iranian Alert Thread The Most Underreported Story Of The Year!
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posted on 11/20/2003 12:04:04 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 11/20/2003 12:06:36 AM PST
Iranian Hard-Liners Wary of Nuclear Deal
Washington Post - By Karl Vick
Nov 20, 2003
U.N. Agency to Weigh Action on Past Violations
TEHRAN, Nov. 19 -- Iran's commitment to tighter monitoring of its nuclear program is vulnerable to sabotage by hard-line conservatives, despite apparently broad support within the country's divided government, according to analysts and officials here.
A major test of last month's agreement between Iran and European diplomats looms Thursday, when the governing board of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) convenes to decide how strongly to admonish Iran for decades of secret nuclear research that involved procedures potentially useful in a weapons program, which Iran denies any interest in.
The Bush administration is pushing for the IAEA to declare Iran in violation of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and to report Iran to the U.N. Security Council for penalties that could include economic sanctions. Iranian officials warn that doing so would violate the bargain struck with the Europeans, who want the IAEA to focus on Iran's declared willingness to suspend uranium enrichment and its agreement to accept on-demand inspections.
Iran's ambassador to the IAEA told reporters last week that "things could very easily get out of control" and "lead to consequences that none of us would like to witness" should the 35-nation panel refer the matter to the Security Council.
Diplomats and mainstream Iranian officials and analysts say they detect no evidence that Iran is backing away from the declaration it signed Oct. 21 with the visiting foreign ministers of France, Britain and Germany. The government has ordered a stop to uranium enrichment and repeated its pledge to sign an enhanced safeguards agreement called the "Additional Protocol" to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, whose provisions Iran had repeatedly violated during more than 20 years of secret atomic research, the IAEA found.
In an additional move that diplomats said was not negotiated -- but apparently was meant by Iran to build confidence in the afterglow of the pact -- the Defense Ministry renewed a vow not to build a medium-range missile, the Shahab-4, capable of carrying a conventional payload as far as Europe or a nuclear warhead to Israel.
Yet defiant rhetoric from the conservative press and high-ranking clerics illustrates the lingering tensions over the bargain, which was flatly opposed by two-thirds of Iran's major decision-makers when negotiations opened, according to diplomats and informed Iranians.
"We shouldn't say it's signed and we've lost everything," prayer leader Mohammad-Reza Tabatabaie told worshipers Friday in Isfahan, Iran's second-largest city. "Almighty God's power is above all, and even if it's signed, any change He deems necessary may come our way. We can change the decision with your prayers."
Ali-Naqi Khamoushi, a prominent conservative and longtime president of Iran's Chamber of Commerce, said: "I do not deny that there is a problem here, and this problem may get severe in the future. But at the same time, I believe that those who are in favor of the agreement are more powerful."
Hard-line conservatives already are seizing on a vaguely worded assurance in the Oct. 21 declaration promising that inspections will not undermine Iran's sovereignty. The sentence was intended to reassure Iranians that the IAEA inspections would be less aggressive than those the Security Council had ordered in neighboring Iraq, a key factor in bringing Iran around, several sources said.
"They don't want to humiliate a country," said Mohsen Mirdamadi, the reformist chairman of the Iranian parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Committee.
But some conservatives are interpreting the provision as declaring off-limits not only shrines and mosques, which inspectors would not normally approach, but also universities. "These are the symbols of our national dignity and pride," said Habibollah Asgar-Owladi, general secretary of the Islamic Coalition Association.
There is also confusion over whether the Europeans promised to provide Iran with technical assistance in a peaceful atomic program. Numerous Iranians interviewed said they expect such assistance. One foreign diplomat close to the negotiations said it would come only after years of confidence-building. But another diplomat said any nuclear assistance was "explicitly" ruled out during negotiations. "That's not in the agreement, but it's understood," this diplomat insisted.
To many outside Iran, the Oct. 21 declaration read like capitulation. But the agreement actually dovetailed with a quiet trend among Iran's ruling clerics toward seeking ties with the West after more than two decades of international isolation. Driven by social and economic pressures, Iranian diplomats opened negotiations with Europe on human rights and trade. Iran's supreme religious leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, last year took the dramatic step of inviting foreigners to invest in an economy that is 70 percent controlled by the government.
"Absolutely this was an effort to attract the world," said Taha Hashemi, who edits the moderate conservative Entekhab newspaper and advises Khamenei.
But the shift has come at the expense of hard-liners, who control the most powerful branches of Iran's divided government and have a long history of thwarting approaches to the West, sometimes violently. Concentrated in the Revolutionary Guard and the judiciary, Iran's conservative clerics have defined Iran's foreign policy since the 1979 Islamic revolution, embracing isolation as the natural condition for a theocracy founded in opposition to a meddling West.
Opinion polls indicate, however, that Iranians -- two-thirds of whom are under age 30 -- long ago tired of such rhetoric. Three-quarters of Iranians favor reestablishing ties with Washington, according to the surveys.
"You like Bush?" asked an army guard at the former U.S. embassy in Tehran, now a museum celebrating its 1979 takeover by militant students, who held 52 Americans hostage for more than a year. "I like Bush. He seems like a tough guy."
Support from Iranians hungry for change has put pro-reform clerics in most of the government's elective positions, including the presidency and the majority of legislative seats. But when the state appears to be coming under threat, even reformers inside Iran's government close ranks with the conservatives.
The reflex kicked in this summer following disclosures that Iran had secretly invested $4 billion to $8 billion to build facilities that might produce fissile material for nuclear weapons by four separate paths. As international pressure mounted, defiance dominated the internal debate.
"The hard-line position was that a confrontation is inevitable: 'We're implacably opposed to one another. Better to have it now when we're at full strength rather than in 10 years after being weakened by sanctions,' " said a foreign diplomat in Tehran.
The moderate alternative called for drawing out negotiations with the Europeans for perhaps a month, then walking away. "What is wrong with considering this treaty on nuclear energy and pulling out of it?" Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, chairman of Iran's powerful Guardian Council, asked in late September. "North Korea withdrew."
In coaxing Iran's political establishment toward cooperation, the Europeans made clear that whatever their differences with the Bush administration over Iraq, the West stood united against nuclear proliferation, and if Iran did not come clean it almost certainly would face U.N. sanctions. The message hit home, said one economic analyst, noting that in a country that must produce 800,000 new jobs a year to absorb young workers, "there is absolutely no capacity to bear even a one-month ban on oil exports."
At the same time, the European envoys offered Iran face-saving assurances, including an explicit affirmation of Iran's right to pursue nuclear energy. Although that merely asserted what the Non-Proliferation Treaty grants any signatory, it let the Europeans play good cop to Washington's bad and allowed Iran's government to appear triumphant, at least in the state-controlled media that create much of the context for Iran's insular politics. When Khamenei publicly endorsed the bargain on Nov. 2, he declared that his government had dodged "a conspiracy by the Americans and the Zionists" aimed at isolating Iran.
Demonstrations against the pact immediately stopped. Seyed Ahmad Alavi, an official in the Basiji -- militia forces that pledge fealty to Khamenei -- said that "no Basiji organization will protest now. He is not only the political leader. He is the leader of our souls and our bodies."
But observers warn that the calm may be temporary.
"I'm really afraid of the backlash, because some people are really, really angry right now," said a political analyst who spoke on condition of anonymity. "They didn't want this to happen. The anger is still there. And they would do something -- if not everything -- to sabotage this deal."
Indeed, the hard-line newspaper Jomhouri Eslami advised in a Nov. 8 editorial that the current silence "is an obedient silence."
The editorial argued that Iran has the right to develop nuclear weapons even if religious doctrine prevents their use. It concluded with the ambiguous warning that with "the least indication" from Khamenei, "all these suppressed sentiments would be reflected in the form of a great explosion."
Khamenei "was not totally in favor of the deal that was struck," one diplomat said. "But he invested his own authority in endorsing it publicly."
It was the abruptness of it all that worried one Iranian analyst.
"What is really important is how much help these people get from the outside world, to make the hard-liners embrace this," the analyst said. "The hard-line conservatives were saying the United States is going to come and get us anyway, so just bring it on. Coming back from that brink and making the deal seemed quite extraordinary." http://www.daneshjoo.org/generalnews/article/publish/article_3667.shtml
posted on 11/20/2003 12:09:27 AM PST
Nuclear Board Said to Rebuff Bush Over Iran
By DAVID E. SANGER
Published: November 20, 2003
VIENNA, Nov. 19 The board of the International Atomic Energy Agency appears prepared to approve a resolution on Iran's 18 years of secret work on a nuclear program that will stop short of recommending United Nations Security Council action, a setback to President Bush, senior officials from several countries said here Wednesday.
Only hours after Mr. Bush, in Britain, declared that the agency must hold Iran to its obligations under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, officials here said that the board was likely to adopt a European-sponsored resolution that was being strengthened on Wednesday to include wording that would likely "deplore" Iran's deceptions and declare that they amounted to a "breach" of its obligations.
But Secretary of State Colin L. Powell was unable to persuade more than three of the board's 35 member countries Canada, Australia and Japan to vote for a formal censure of Iran. Even the government of Prime Minister Tony Blair, Mr. Bush's host, sided with France and Germany and said that the best way now to deal with Iran is to encourage its sudden conversion to openness.
"What I would like to see is a resolution that strengthens my hand," the director general of the atomic energy agency, Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei, said in an interview in his office here on Wednesday, without discussing specifics. Dr. ElBaradei sided with Mr. Powell in urging a strengthening of the language of the proposed resolution but stopped short of recommending any sanction against Iran. Dr. ElBaradei angered Bush administration officials last week when he issued a report that described in great detail Iran's deceptions, including its attempt to use an exotic laser technology to enrich uranium, but concluded there was not sufficient evidence to prove that the country was seeking a nuclear weapon. Mr. Powell said he believed the evidence inevitably led to the conclusion that Iran intended to build a weapon, even if it had not yet succeeded.
"I told him I cannot verify intentions," Dr. ElBaradei said on Wednesday, as representatives of some of the countries on the agency's board met nearby to work out compromise language. The formal session begins on Thursday.
Iran has maintained that its nuclear work has been for peaceful purposes, and President Mohammad Khatami has said the report showed that his nation has complied with the Nonproliferation Treaty.
Turning to Iraq, Dr. ElBaradei said that based on what he has read and heard since Mr. Bush declared in May that major combat operations had ended, American inspectors have been unable to contradict his conclusion before the war that there was no evidence that Iraq had an active nuclear weapons program.
At the time, those statements enraged some hawkish members of the Bush administration, and they directly contradicted statements by President Bush and Vice President Cheney. It was the international atomic agency that first concluded that the evidence Mr. Bush cited in his State of the Union speech in January, saying that Saddam Hussein had tried to obtain nuclear material in Africa, was based on forged documents.
"We were right after all" to declare to the United Nations that the Bush administration was overstating the evidence, Dr. ElBaradei said. "We said there was no evidence, and it turned out to be true."
He said his agency, which has been blocked from returning to Iraq, should be allowed to "go back and finish this," and he added that the United States was spending a billion dollars on a search effort his staff could do more efficiently.
Officials here note that the budget for the international agency's operations to safeguard nuclear programs around the world is about a tenth of what the United States is spending on the search.
The argument over how to handle Iran's nuclear revelations has echoes of the debate in the United Nations earlier this year about confronting Iraq though in this case, the administration appears to be working toward building diplomatic pressure rather than moving to military action.
The question is whether Iran will open up more fully if it feels the constant pressure of threatened United Nations sanctions or whether that threat would be counterproductive, undercutting the country's recent announcement to freeze the enrichment of uranium and open itself to full inspections.
Mr. Powell has argued that Iran only revealed details of its nuclear program because the pressure on it was overwhelming. Other senior officials around Mr. Bush said that the agency had a statutory responsibility to report breaches of the Nonproliferation Treaty and that failure to go to the Security Council would send a message around the world that there is little penalty for secretly working on nuclear weapons. But the Europeans and Russia and China argued that Iran should not be punished for finally telling some part of the truth.
The first draft of their proposed resolution played down the 18-year-long covert program and congratulated Iran for its recent turnaround. Dr. ElBaradei objected, as did the United States.
But the drafts circulating Wednesday night included stronger proposed language, including a statement that Iran was in "breach of its obligations."
The last time the board referred a country to the Security Council for action was this year, when North Korea threw out the agency's inspectors and announced it would withdraw from the Nonproliferation Treaty and restart the production of bomb-grade plutonium. The Security Council has not acted, keeping the issue in abeyance until the outcome of six-nation talks on the issue scheduled to reconvene in Beijing in December. http://www.nytimes.com/2003/11/20/international/middleeast/20IRAN.html?ex=1069909200&en=8f6b9d4e18f11c91&ei=5062&partner=GOOGLE
posted on 11/20/2003 12:15:55 AM PST
Canada pressures UN over Iranian human rights
By JEFF SALLOT
Wednesday, November 19, 2003 - Page A17
Ottawa -- Canada is asking the United Nations to condemn Iran for human-rights abuses, including torture, suppression of news media, imprisonment of political dissidents, and discrimination against women and religious minorities. The Canadian resolution, which could come to a vote at the UN General Assembly in New York later this week, expresses serious concern about how security forces have cracked down against journalists, parliamentarians, students, clerics and academics.
Authorities in the Islamic republic are responsible for a deterioration in the respect for human rights, Canada says, especially freedom of opinion and expression of political views. Normally, such resolutions are introduced, debated and voted upon at the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva during long sessions in the spring. The Canadian approach with this resolution will bring it to a quicker vote. http://www.globeandmail.com/servlet/ArticleNews/TPStory/LAC/20031119/REPO2/TPBusiness/International
posted on 11/20/2003 12:17:49 AM PST
Things are about the heat up in Iran.
I have a feeling that the US and UK efforts against the mullahs of Iran is about to heat up significantly.
Secretary Powell and his DOS are finally speaking much more clearly that we need to act and soon against Iran, if it doesnt abandon its nuclear ambitions. Iran must back down. But of course they will not. The mullahs of Iran will continue down the path it is on until the EU withdraws its support of Iran. But the EU is trying to maintain its support Iran The EU appears to believe that this support will protect them from terrorist attacks.
But the UK is much more dependent on its relation with the US. I am convinced the Royals invitation of Bush to the UK providing him the honors not given to a US president in nearly a century is due to their conviction that events around the world are about to change. It appears to me an orchestrated effort to win the hearts of Britain and shift the debate around the world. Bushs three pillars speak is the heart of this and lays the groundwork for action against Iran (and perhaps others).
Why is the Bush administration willing to increase the pressure on Iran, now? I believe that our intelligence fears an attack on the US is imminent. Such an attack is likely to be much more deadly than 911. The connection of Iran and Al Al Qaida is already well established.
I think that if an attack on America or Britain does take place that these two nations will no longer hesitate to launch massive efforts against all those implicated in the attack. The UK and the US have recently charged Iran with preplanning attacks on the US and Britain.
Without an attack on the US or UK, Iran may be safe for the next year, but if we are attacked all bets are off.
2004 may be much more unpredictable than the pundits predict.
posted on 11/20/2003 1:05:03 AM PST
posted on 11/20/2003 1:50:59 AM PST
To: DoctorZIn; McGavin999; freedom44; nuconvert; Eala; AdmSmith; dixiechick2000; onyx; Pro-Bush; ...
ElBaradei says Iran guilty of nuclear ''breaches''
20th of November, 2003
VIENNA, Nov. 20 The head of the United Nations nuclear watchdog said on Thursday Iran had been in breach of its obligations under the global anti-nuclear weapons pact, but said the U.N. was now conducting tough inspections of Iran.
Speaking to reporters before a key meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) Board of Governors, IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei said he hoped the board would pass a resolution that ''strengthens my hand'' and reacts to the ''the bad news and the good news'' about Iran's atomic programme.
''The bad news is that there have been failures and breaches and the good news is that there is a new chapter in cooperation with Iran,'' he said.
Iran has agreed to sign the Additional Protocol to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which gives the IAEA the right to conduct more intrusive, snap inspections of atomic sites.
Although Tehran has yet to sign the document, ElBaradei said that the IAEA had begun conducting its inspections as if it had been signed and ratified.
''We are acting as if the protocol is in force and we have been getting all the access we need, both to locations and to information,'' he said, adding that there was ''a new spirit'' of cooperation in Tehran.
The IAEA said in a recent report on Iran that over the last two decades Tehran had repeatedly failed to comply with its obligations to keep the U.N. body informed of its nuclear activities. It had -- among other things -- secretly produced plutonium and enriched uranium.
The IAEA's 35-member board is meeting to discuss the report and a draft resolution circulated by France, Germany and Britain accusing Iran of ''failures to meet safeguards obligations,'' a phrasing too mild for both Washington and, diplomats say, ElBaradei. http://famulus.msnbc.com/FamulusIntl/reuters11-20-015313.asp?reg=MIDEAST
posted on 11/20/2003 2:57:51 AM PST
by F14 Pilot
To: F14 Pilot
Thanks for the ping!
To: F14 Pilot
Freedom ~ Now!
posted on 11/20/2003 8:18:09 AM PST
Iranians Wary of Program to Build Nukes
November 20, 2003
The Washington Times
TEHRAN Just out of jail, a dissident Iranian intellectual has an urgent message for Europeans compromising with Iran on its nuclear ambitions: Don't do it.
"We Iranians see the nuclear program not as a way of ensuring the security or future of our nation, but as insurance to maintain the political power of the clerical government," he said, asking that his name not be used.
"We see the potential for nuclear weapons as weapons against [the people], rather than weapons against other countries."
Iran's nuclear ambitions have come under increased international scrutiny in recent months, with the United States and Europeans both pressuring the country to come clean on its attempts to develop nuclear weapons.
Today, the United Nations' atomic-watchdog agency meets in Vienna, Austria, to discuss Iran's failure to disclose elements of its nuclear program.
Iran insists its program begun in the 1970s under Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, who was deposed in a 1979 Islamist revolt is a peaceful one. It recently admitted, however, that it had enriched small quantities of uranium, a step toward developing nuclear weapons.
The nation of 70 million remains far from united about the prospect of obtaining nuclear power, much less the nuclear weapons prohibited under international agreements.
Even within Iran's fractious government where a weak, reform-minded elected body led by President Mohammed Khatami is overwhelmed by hard-line clerics who control the judiciary, intelligence and military branches a classic guns-vs.-butter debate has raged.
"On the one hand, some were saying, 'No way. We won't accept these conditions and will continue our efforts at nuclear development,' " said Muhammad Reza Dehshiri, a professor of international relations in Tehran.
"On the other hand, there were others who were saying it's better to concentrate on ameliorating living conditions of ordinary Iranians instead of spending the public budget on nuclear development. The latter group won the debate."
Among Iranians, too, there remain differences of opinion. Some, such as the dissident intellectual, see Iran's nuclear ambitions as an effort to gain international legitimacy. http://www.washtimes.com/world/20031119-092652-8283r.htm
EU Should Get Tougher with Iran, Sharon Says
November 20, 2003
ROME -- Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said in an interview published on Thursday Iran poses a major threat to peace and that he has urged the European Union to be tougher over Tehran's nuclear ambitions.
Sharon said he had asked Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to take the lead in hardening the EU position during a three-day visit to Rome that ended on Wednesday.
''I spoke at length with Berlusconi about the danger posed by Iran...it's the number one danger,'' Sharon told Corriere della Sera newspaper.
''I hope that (Italy) keeps Iran in very close check because it seems to me that the EU position has been lightweight up until now,'' he said.
France, Germany and Britain have come under attack this week from the United States for a draft document the three countries have drawn up on Iran's 18-year concealment of atomic research.
Washington believes the draft does not go far enough in criticising Iran and wants the European heavyweights to acknowledge formally that Iran violated a global pact on atomic weapons.
Iran denies its nuclear programme is designed to make atomic weapons. It says its nuclear policy is peaceful and devoted to generating power.
Sharon said Iran had not hidden its desire to destroy Israel and Jews. ''What no one says is that if Iran possesses nuclear weapons they will be able to threaten not only us but the whole region,'' he added.
He went on to say that Italy was Israel's closest ally in Europe and praised the Italian presidency of the European Union.
''Let me say that the EU Italian presidency is the best one there has ever been,'' he said. ''Israel's best friends are the United States and Italy.''
Italy has traditionally been seen as having close ties with Arab states and Iran but under Berlusconi's leadership over the past two years the emphasis has shifted to giving more vocal support to Israel. http://famulus.msnbc.com/FamulusIntl/reuters11-20-022915.asp?reg=MIDEAST
Jordan FM to Visit Iran with Message from King
November 19, 2003
AMMAN -- Jordanian Foreign Minister Marwan Moasher will travel to Iran early next week to deliver a letter from King Abdullah II to Iranian President Mohammad Khatami, official Petra news agency reported Wednesday.
Petra did not give the exact date of the visit or specify the content of the message but said that during the visit Moasher will meet Iranian officials to discuss regional developments and issues of concern for the two countries.
In September, Abdullah was the first Jordanian monarch in 25 years to visit Iran in what was seen by both countries as an "important" step in improving bilateral relations.
Talks during that visit focussed on the Palestinian conflict with Israel and the future of war-battered Iraq.
Diplomatic relations were restored between Amman and Tehran in 1991 after a 10-year break, during which Iran criticised Abdullah's father, the late King Hussein, for supporting Baghdad in the 1980-1988 Iraq-Iraq war. http://www.iranmania.com/News/ArticleView/Default.asp?NewsCode=19854&NewsKind=Current%20Affairs
US Administration Acknowledges Iraq Gesture to Iran
November 20, 2003
The Associated Press
WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration confirmed on Wednesday that Iraq has made overtures to Iran and said it was up to Baghdad to work out its relations with its neighbors.
A senior administration official said Jalal Talabani, the interim president of the Iraqi Governing Council, signed several documents of mutual understanding during a visit Tuesday to Tehran.
The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Iraqi government had to work out its relations with countries in the region.
The U.S.-led Coalition for Provisional Authority, which is headed by L. Paul Bremer III, appointed the Iraqi council to help arrange transition to Iraqi self-rule.
The Bush administration has since reached agreement with the council to accelerate the transition and an end to the U.S. occupation by next June.
During a visit by Talabani to Turkey on Wednesday, a spokesman for the interim president's Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, Adel Murad, said Iran was the first country other than the United States to recognize the council.
"They helped us to control the area and they closed the border," stopping infiltration into the Kurdistan region, he said.
Last month, Murad said, council aides went to Tehran for preliminary talks.
Secretary of State Colin Powell (news - web sites), meanwhile, dismissed a call by France for an end to the transition within six weeks.
"We would like to do it as soon as possible," Powell told France TV3. "But it has to be done in a realistic way and it has to be sovereignty that is given to a group of leaders, effective, prominent leaders, who enjoy solid legitimacy with the people."
Powell said "there really is not yet a government that enjoys legitimacy of the people to which one would turn authority over to." http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/ap/20031120/ap_on_re_mi_ea/us_iraq_iran_2
UN Identifies Iran's Nuke Suppliers
November 20, 2003
The UN's nuclear watchdog has identified Russia, China and Pakistan as probable suppliers of some of the technology Iran used as part of its nuclear programs.
Iran has said it cannot identify the countries of origin because it bought the centrifuges and laser enrichment equipment through third parties.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) needs to establish where the equipment came from, however, to be able to verify whether Iran is telling the truth about the source of the traces or whether it enriched uranium to nuclear weapons levels domestically.
Reacting to earlier reports linking it to Iran's enrichment program, Pakistan has denied all involvement.
IAEA Director General Mohamed El Baradei has said that five countries and companies in Asia and Europe are the source of the enrichment equipment.
The revelations came amid intense discussions by the IAEA on a "quite strong" resolution on Iran's past covert nuclear activities that also acknowledges its recent co-operation, said El Baradei.
Iran has begun co-operating with international authorities after increasing pressure to open up its domestic nuclear programme. http://www.sky.com/skynews/article/0,,30200-12931124,00.html
Sensing Shiites Will Rule Iraq, U.S. Starts to See Friends, Not Foes
November 20, 2003
The New York Times
WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration, which was wary earlier this year of installing a government dominated by Shiites in Iraq, has concluded that such a development is virtually inevitable and not necessarily harmful to American interests, administration officials said Wednesday.
The officials said that fears of an Iranian-style . and Iranian-influenced . theocracy in Baghdad have faded because it has become clear that Iraq's Shiite population is not a monolithic bloc and not necessarily dominated by Tehran.
"Our basic position is that as we get to know more of Iraqi society, we're more comfortable with a democratic process, and if that emerges with a predominant Shiite role, so be it," said an administration official. "There's been a steady education process here."
Still, American officials are taking steps to ensure that when a Shiite-dominated government is installed next year, as most expect, religious freedom and minority rights are respected and Iraq's neighbors are reassured that the first Shiite-governed Arab country does not pose a threat to them.
The shift in the administration's thinking laid the groundwork for the decision announced last week to accelerate the timetable for self-government in Iraq, administration officials say.
Administration officials acknowledge that elections or local meetings held to choose an interim government next year are likely to be dominated by Shiites, who represent a majority of Iraq's population and who are better organized to win.
And while administration officials believe such a government will seek to be independent of Iran's religious influence, some experts on Iran and the Middle East caution that even the more secular of Shiites will also come under at least some influence of religious leaders in Iraq, and perhaps even in Iran.
"It is true that the Shiites are not monolithic," said Flynt Leverett, a former director of Middle East affairs at the National Security Council under President Bush. "It's also true that most Iraqi Shias do not want to see an Iranian style rule brought into post-Saddam Iraq."
But Mr. Leverett cautioned that most Iraqi Shiites also "want to see a system in which Islam has an official standing, and in which Islamic law is recognized as an important foundation for society."
This fact, he said, could create problems for the Bush administration as it plans for a government that respects religious diversity and the rights of minority groups and separates religion and state. Mr. Leverett is now a visiting fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution.
Half the Iraqi Governing Council's 24 members are Shiites. The number was 13 out of 25, a bare majority, until the assassination of one member earlier this year. But Bush administration officials note that the Shiite members range widely in ideology: some are clerics, some are not, and there is also at least one Communist.
The Bush administration first prepared for the likelihood of a Shiite government by insisting that the Iraqis write a constitution enshrining certain minority rights before an Iraqi government was installed. But that process looked like it was going to take a year or two.
Because of the worsening security situation, the administration speeded up that timetable last week. Now the administration wants the establishment of what it calls a "fundamental law" . in effect, an interim constitution . before an interim government is chosen next year.
That law is to be developed in "close consultation" with the American-led occupation authority's in Baghdad, according to a document on its Web site.
American officials say that the main fear concerning a Shiite government in Iraq is more external than internal. Some of Iraq's neighbors . Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the Gulf states . are said to be worried that a new Shiite-ruled nation in their midst might inflame their own restive Shiite populations.
If that came to pass, some Arab diplomats say, neighboring countries might end up encouraging the Sunni minority in Iraq to rebel against the government in Baghdad . as some Sunnis are already doing.
Another possibility, some in the administration say, is that Iraq could evolve toward a political compromise forged by the exile Ahmad Chalabi . a secular Shiite. Mr. Chalabi might manage to stitch together pro-Iranian groups, Kurds and others into a government.
A top administration official predicted recently that in that event, Mr. Chalabi . who set up an office for his opposition group in Tehran before the American invasion of Iraq . could become the first Iraqi prime minister.
The fear among American policy makers has long been that Iran would exercise too much influence over Shiites in Iraq. The best-known Shiite groups opposing Mr. Hussein, officials note, had links to Iranian intelligence services.
Now, however, American officials say that Iran might see a Shiite-dominated government in Baghdad more as a rival than an ally. Iraq has many centers of Shiite study, like Najaf, that could easily pose a threat to Iran's centers, including the city of Qum.
"We see the religious rivalry playing itself out," said an administration official. "Some of us call this the coming Najaf-Qum rivalry." http://www.nytimes.com/2003/11/20/international/middleeast/20GOVE.html
Movement's call for boycott of anti-Semite "Ghods Day" rallies well perceived
SMCCDI (Information Service)
Nov 20, 2003
The Movement call for a massive boycott of the governmental anti-Semite rallies of "Ghods Day" has been well perceived by many in Iran. The SMCCDI's call which was part of a statement condemning last week's bombings in Istanbul and accusing the Islamic regime of sponsorship and promotion of Islamist Terrorism was issued on Monday and broadcasted by several abroad based sources, such as the famous Azadi and NITV Satellite Networks.
The mouvement requested as well the official ban, by major European countries, of such rallies planned to be held in their capitals. The request was made as a symbolic gesture and despite knowing the countries, such as Germany or France, are following a dual policy and will not interfere in the organization of such Hate Actions by groups funded by the Iranian clerics. An official meeting was held, yesterday, in Berlin where the Movement's request for ban along with the condemnation, by several right groups, of German authorities silence were discussed.
The Berlin's Mayor pressured by a growing anti hate opinion has only promised " to ask from the organizers to avoid shouting hate slogans".
In Iran, most nationals have planned to stay home, tomorrow, and far from the governmental rallies where the same load of usual "professional" demonstrators and forced school students and gvernmental employees will be brought to the scenes of this "show of force" by the Islamic regime.
It's to note that as the Movement's stated in its analysis, the Istanbul bombings against Jewish centers happened just the day after that the regime's Supreme Leader pointed to the dangers threatening the Iranian theocracy and requested actions and a massive participation in "Ghods Rallies" .
The "Ghods Day" was instated, in 1979, by Rouh-ollah Khomeini who made of Israel the first target of his regime. "Ghods" means "Jerusalem" in Arabic language.
The Movement's call was issued in Persian and translated in several languages, such as, English, French and German and was mass e.mailed while being posted on this website. http://www.daneshjoo.org/generalnews/article/publish/article_3680.shtml
US, allies seek to close divide on Iran
Powell urges hard line while Europe strikes softer note
By Brian Whitmore, Globe Correspondent, 11/20/2003
VIENNA -- Diplomats convening today to address Iran's alleged weapons program worked late into last night in an effort to mend a growing rift between the United States and key European allies over how hard a line to take with Tehran.
The Bush administration has accused Iran of using its civilian nuclear power program to covertly produce plutonium and enriched uranium, which could be used in nuclear bombs. It had been pushing for the International Atomic Energy Agency to declare Tehran in violation of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and to bring the issue before the UN Security Council, which could impose sanctions.
"America believes the IAEA must be true to its purpose and hold Iran to its obligations," President Bush said in a speech in London yesterday.
Britain, Germany, and France are pushing a softer line and have circulated a draft resolution on Iran that the United States views as inadequate. The European nations argue that despite past concealments of nuclear activities, Iran has recently come clean and agreed to comprehensive inspections.
Punishing Iran when it is beginning to cooperate, they say, could prompt Tehran to cease its new openness, possibly withdraw from the Nonproliferation Treaty, and spark an international crisis.
Faced with an impasse as the IAEA's 35-member board of governors begins meetings in Vienna today, Germany, Britain, and France are working to insert language into the draft resolution "that would be more acceptable to the United States," Western diplomats close to the talks said last night.
Some diplomats said a possible compromise would formally forgo reporting Iran to the Security Council and pushing for sanctions, but would seek tougher language in the draft condemning Tehran's past concealment of its nuclear activities and saying that Iran had "breached" the Nonproliferation Treaty.
A US official who spoke on the condition of anonymity described the situation as "very fluid" and would not comment on the details of a potential compromise.
How the issue is resolved, diplomats close to the talks say, could set an important precedent for how to combat proliferation amid mounting fears that nuclear weapons could spread to terrorists and to states that support them.
The trans-Atlantic rift broke into the open in Brussels earlier this week when Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and European foreign ministers failed to agree on a common approach to Iran's alleged nuclear program. Powell expressed concern that the draft resolution prepared by Britain, Germany, and France fell short of declaring Iran to be in violation of the Nonproliferation Treaty.
"We had 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," Powell said Tuesday.
The draft focused on Iran's efforts to cooperate with the international community in the past few weeks, including the voluntary suspension of uranium enrichment and agreement to allow tougher inspections by the IAEA. Critics say it minimizes nearly two decades of covert possession and potential production of plutonium and enriched uranium.
Some countries on the IAEA board, including Canada, Australia, and Japan, support the US approach. But the majority, including Russia and China, appear to back the Europeans, diplomats said. Russia's foreign minister, Igor Ivanov, told CNN yesterday that he saw "no grounds for imposing sanctions against Iran."
In a classified Nov. 10 IAEA report, the agency's director, Mohamed ElBaradei, detailed 18 years of Iranian nuclear violations, including the failure to report plutonium production and uranium enrichment. But he said there was no evidence that Tehran was trying to build a bomb. "In the past, Iran has concealed many aspects of its nuclear activities, with resultant breaches of its obligations," said the report, which was made available to the Globe. It added, however, "There is no evidence that the previously undeclared nuclear material and activities . . . were related to a nuclear weapons program."
Signatories to the Nonproliferation Treaty may enrich uranium, but must report such activity to the IAEA. The IAEA report also said that "Iran's policy of concealment continued until last month" and that cooperation had been "limited and restrictive." But in recent weeks, Tehran had "shown active cooperation and openness."
On Oct. 21, the foreign ministers of Germany, France, and Britain won key concessions from Iran, including an agreement to voluntarily suspend uranium enrichment and to allow the more stringent inspections.
But Hassan Rohani, the head of Iran's powerful Supreme National Security Council, warned yesterday that Iran would not tolerate any resolution legally requiring it to cease enriching uranium.
"Any sentence in the resolution that turns our voluntary suspension into a legal commitment will be unacceptable for us," Iran's official IRNA news agency quoted him as saying.
Material from Reuters and the Associated Press was included in this report. http://www.boston.com/news/world/articles/2003/11/20/us_allies_seek_to_close_divide_on_iran?mode=PF
posted on 11/20/2003 8:39:32 AM PST
by Pan_Yans Wife
("Your joy is your sorrow unmasked." --- GIBRAN)
To: Pan_Yans Wife
Thursday, November 20, 2003.
An 18-hour ride along Iran's rocky road reveals nation in transition
By Steve Coll; Reuters
The Washington Post
BISTOUN, Iran Among the least of its many problems, Iran's isolated and bloated bureaucracy struggles with English spelling. A battered tourist sign declares, "Historical Remainds of Bistoun," and sure enough, around the side of a cliff looms an ancient bas-relief, a chiseled king whose hand stretches to the divine while his foot grinds the neck of a prostrate rebel. Several well-dressed Iranian travelers stare up at this tableau.
Their talk turns easily to politics and war.
"Iranians especially young people have a strong feeling. They think maybe America will help them change the system," offers Ayoub Adeli, an engineering manager from Tehran. But he doubts this will occur; perhaps there has been enough upheaval already. "I think everything will happen from within Iran, inside the system."
Overweight trucks honk and belch below on the highway from Baghdad to Tehran. A hundred miles to the west lies Iraq, a country in ferment because the state has been overthrown. To the northeast lies the seat of an Iranian government no less in ferment over how to retain its grip.
An 18-hour drive from Baghdad to Tehran is a ride among people in flux, some lifted by hope and faith, some cowed by threats.
Nahid is the youngest traveler among us. Thirty-one and unemployed, she says she seethes at the Iranian mullahs who shadow her ambitions, dictating about lipstick, jobs and television channels.
To one side of the highway's gated border, American military commanders seek amid rising violence to re-create Iraq as a democracy from the top down. Across a sparse frontier, a season of debate grips Iran: How should the country manage its estrangement from the United States? How should it reply to encroaching U.S. power and ideas?
A mass of motion
Along the highway between, thousands of people have been set newly in motion. Devout Iranian pilgrims and clerics trek to Iraqi Shiite shrines previously beyond reach. Displaced Kurds flood into the borderlands to reclaim lost property. Traders, smugglers, political agents and tribal chieftains slide back and forth in search of money and influence.
Out of Baghdad, the road unfurls at dawn across a half-lit sandy plain dotted with date palms. Dented Datsun and Toyota mini-pickups zip and weave in a high-speed ballet of near-miss. Some haul single cows strapped precariously in their tiny beds. Others carry chador-clad female field hands collected at roadside day-labor markets.
Behind lies the sprawling Iraqi capital, its occupied center sprouting with razor wire and crossed by protective blast walls. Ahead lies fertile Diyala province, a Sunni Arab flatland long favored by former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's patronage machine. The highway is wide and smooth here. Electric lines crisscross walled villages.
Eighty miles from Baghdad, beyond the last U.S. checkpoint, beyond the last convoys of gun-swinging Bradley armored personnel carriers, the road rises toward Iran across an arid dunescape.
The Kurds step in
The U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority has recently deployed an Iraqi border force here to check for possible terrorist infiltrators from Iran. The force includes scores of Kurds recruited from friendly U.S.-allied militias to the north. Their new Nissan double-cab trucks are stenciled "Border Patrol" in freshly painted English.
In hastily erected shacks along the road they control sit the beneficiaries of their nascent regime: Kurdish farmers who have left impoverished villages for new lives as highway shopkeepers, hoping to sell candy bars and cans of warm Pepsi to recent busloads of Shiite pilgrims rolling from Iran.
The bare hills are strewn with detritus from the long, decimating stalemate of the 1980s Iran-Iraq war. Berms and mounds from abandoned Iraqi gun emplacements stretch to the horizon, as if this were a vast suburb of prairie dogs. For two decades it was nearly impossible for ordinary Iraqis to travel to Iran, or even to approach the border. It was equally difficult for Iranians to reach Iraq.
From the late 1990s, Saddam authorized a few controlled bus tours for Iranian pilgrims to visit the holy Shiite cities of Najaf and Karbala, but mainly he managed the area as a vast security zone, enforced by interlocking networks of Iraqi militia and local informers. Now Kurdish return, Shiite revival and the retreat of Saddam's forces define the region.
Besides the 2,000 approved Iranian pilgrims who pour through the area's sole official border checkpoint each week, thousands more are crossing to Iraq illegally on foot. At least 200 have been killed by land mines or died of exposure along these pathways since the summer, the Tehran Times has reported.
Through the door
A black steel gate divides Iraq from the Iranian border village of Khosravi. At 10:30 a.m., a long line of anxious Iranian pilgrims snakes behind it young families toting Nike duffels, old women shuffling in pairs, turbaned religious scholars in dry-cleaned robes barking on cellphones. They press toward the narrow door into Iraq. Kurdish border guards call names from a clipboard and wave the chosen toward a row of Hyundai buses bound for Najaf.
"Amer-I-kee good," the Iranian gatekeeper finally announces after two hours, and through the gate we squeeze, across to a cavernous, airport-style terminal where polite policemen dip each of my 10 fingers into thick black ink and rub the fingerprints twice onto colonial-style registries.
Iranian security forces run checkpoints and drive in mobile patrols to enforce a 12-mile exclusion zone running east, off-limits to the general public.
Memorials to the 1980s war with Iraq festoon Iran's border provinces. Billboards on the outskirts of every small town depict the painted faces of young war dead. Whitewashed graves and battered tanks hoisted onto concrete pedestals are still freshly dabbed in revolutionary slogans: "Death to the Traitors," or "Martyrs Are the Heart of History."
Yet the vernacular of Islamic revolutionary nationalism holds little appeal to many younger Iranians. Along the highway and hundreds of miles from the elite, international neighborhoods of Tehran they talk instead of jobs, fashion, romantic relationships and the attractions of a more tolerant Islam.
Iran's clerics now run the country mainly to take care of their own, complains Reza, a clean-shaven security guard who works in the southwest mountains. "Those mullahs have sunk some roots with the majority of the people," he says. "They give them jobs, privileges, houses." He and his friends support the urban university students who have tried off and on since 1999 to demonstrate for political change in Iran, but who more recently have been subdued by mass arrests.
Reza doubts the students can succeed. The rural poor in his area who depend on government handouts "think that if the mullahs go away, they will lose everything. And the rest of the country is so poor they can't think about this kind of thing. It's hard just to take care of a family."
An arc of frustrations
Later on the road, Nahid, the unemployed young woman, traces the arc of her frustrations. She earned a college degree in Persian literature, then was rejected for a high-school teaching job because the mullahs in her provincial city said she was on a list of girls who wore too much makeup on campus. She remembers the exact words the Islamic official spoke when he rejected her: "We don't need people like you." She had gone to the job interview with her mother, who scolded her afterward for bringing this on herself.
"You feel sinful," Nahid says. "I think they want to give you this feeling." In early afternoon, she invites me to her family's small apartment to break my drive. It is clean but modest, three or four rooms lit with a fluorescent bulb. Government TV news plays on a small set in the corner.
Nahid's family wants their landlord to get a satellite dish that can pick up international channels. The dishes are in bloom across Iran, illegal on paper but lately tolerated by the government, part of a modest loosening of social rules in response to the student protests.
The government anchors talk over footage from CNN depicting violence in Iraq, then air sound bites from Democratic candidates in the United States, who criticize the Bush administration's policies.
"I think the majority of the young are like me," Nahid says, meaning they are fed up with their government. "Yet we have no good opinion about this situation in Iraq. Maybe before, we thought it would be good to have the United States come in. But now, we look at these pictures from Iraq, and it looks terrible. So we think, maybe it is just better to be patient and hope for change from within or tolerate the system we have.
"All of our lives have been spent in wars, revolution, changes. When you think about this, you prefer silence."
Sixty miles short of Tehran, sputtering in the darkness, my boxy Iranian car-for-hire runs low on gas. The first station the driver tries is closed. Then the second. In a panic he pulls down the highway to a third. We are on a six-lane superhighway in the heart of urban Iran, northwest of Karaj, and still there is no gas. Truckers and tourists have clustered at the shuttered station, desperate. A policeman turns up and is set upon by the drivers. There is no gas between here and Tehran, he announces.
Maybe, just maybe, he confides, if you drive back three miles in the opposite direction, off the highway in a small town, you might find one station with some gas left. An angry convoy sets forth across dusty lanes, down through a culvert, twisting and turning off-road, trying to find the village. There it is: a huge pileup of vehicles, more than a hundred idling in line before the pump islands and jockeying for position like demolition-derby drivers.
Oil-exporting Iran is a gasoline importer. Its price subsidies (25 cents a gallon at the pump) are designed to quell popular discontent, but they encourage overconsumption and mass smuggling. Its refining capacity is inadequate to meet demand, battered by war and crimped by closed-market policies.
The great majority of Iran's economy is state-run, unable to create jobs for its swelling population. There is no consensus within the government about what to do.
It is nearly midnight when the lights of the capital at last appear, sparkling across a vast valley.
Show and tell
The next morning Tehran celebrates the 24th anniversary of the seizure of the U.S. Embassy by militant students on Nov. 4, 1979. "Death to America," echo the familiar megaphone chants. Amid the modest crowd of bused-in demonstrators outside the former embassy mainly young students joyous to be free from a day of classes it all feels a bit phoned-in. The chanting is dim and desultory. A press badge identifies me in Persian as an American. Protesters read the badge and laugh, then pose for snapshots.
A few blocks away the real student radicals live behind university campus gates guarded by crisply dressed plainclothes police. The press badge does not impress the cops: no entry.
A passing student carries a message to the local chapter of the Office for Fostering Unity, one of the most radical of the splintered movements. Ten minutes later Sadjad Ghoroghi, 23, a marine engineering major, saunters through the gates and leads the way to a private office nearby.
He and a colleague lay out their platform: "completely confronting the system in certain areas," as Ghoroghi puts it. They seek by nonviolent means a full electoral democracy in Iran, separation of religion and politics, respect for human rights and a free-market economy. Many of their members have been charged with political crimes or jailed, some beaten or tortured, Ghoroghi says.
One of his colleagues, Mehdi Habibi, is appearing in court across town on this day. He and 10 colleagues at universities across Iran wrote a letter to the United Nations outlining their government's systematic human-rights violations and demanding international help. After the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, they issued a statement declaring that outside force was sometimes necessary to overthrow dictatorship.
Last June, thousands of students took to the streets in protest against government policies. But the numbers did not shake the system, and many were later arrested. The demonstrations have waned. Some Iranians say that by loosening social rules and cracking down on student leaders, the clerics are gaining the upper hand.
Ghoroghi sees the religious establishment he opposes as increasingly pragmatic. "They will bow to changes and developments they're not like the Taliban," he says. "These people are political. They want to stay in power." Yet there are hard-core militants in the security services and Islamic societies who gird the establishment, he says, "people with whom you can never hold a dialogue."
As for the Americans and their program of regional change, he says the future of the Iranian student movement may be dependent on the course of the U.S. occupation of Iraq.
Many Iranian students remain inspired by U.S. and European ideas. Yet the impact of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq "very much depends on how well the United States will be able to establish a democratic system in Iraq and be responsive to the demands of the Iraqi people," he says.
"If the U.S. fails in Iraq, it may change the attitudes of the Iranian populace."
Refugees cross border
TEHRAN, Iran A small convoy of refugees crossed into Iraq from Iran yesterday to test the route for repatriating about 200,000 people, a U.N. spokesman said.
The pilot convoy of 69 people traveled from a camp near the southwest Iranian city of Ahvaz to return to the area around the southern Iraqi city of Basra.
Many southern Iraqi Shiite Muslims fled Saddam Hussein's crackdown on an uprising after the 1991 Gulf War. This was the first official return of refugees to Iraq from the Islamic republic since this year's U.S.-led war to oust Saddam.
The United Nations had hoped to repatriate 70,000 to 80,000 refugees by the end of the year, but the program was frozen because of the bombing of the U.N. office in Baghdad and other security fears. http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2001796379_iranroad20.html
posted on 11/20/2003 9:09:41 AM PST
by Pan_Yans Wife
("Your joy is your sorrow unmasked." --- GIBRAN)
To: Pan_Yans Wife
Democracy in Iraq depends on Iran
By Alireza Jafarzadeh 20/11/2003
The recent wave of attacks in Iraq, including the deadly bombing in Nasiriyah, has drawn attention to the involvement of foreign governments in that country. By far, Iran tops the list.
The question of who is behind the attacks notwithstanding, what is of paramount importance is to recognise what is the most dominant force laying the social, religious and political grounds for such attacks in Iraq. Who is the prime beneficiary of these attacks and continued chaos in Iraq?
On August 24, the top US administrator in Iraq, L. Paul Bremer III, told CNN: "The Iranian Revolutionary Guards are present in Iraq, the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence is present here and we think that Iraqis do not appreciate interference in their affairs." A month later, he said, "Iranian intelligence agents have been aiding groups that have carried out violent attacks in different parts of Iraq."
According to Iranian government sources, Tehran has smuggled large amounts of weaponry into Iraq in the past two months, including mortars, anti-aircraft missiles, 106 mm guns, 107 mm multiple rocket launchers, RPG-7s and machine guns, largely hidden in agricultural fields and villages. The weapons were smuggled in trucks carrying fruit and vegetables, buses and utility vehicles to evade border inspections.
For months, the notorious Al Quds (Jerusalem) Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards has been working to spread its influence in the Shiite-dominated southern regions of Iraq with the ultimate goal of erecting a sister Islamic republic there.
After major military operations ended in Iraq, many Iraqi expatriates, groomed, trained and funded by the mullahs for years, were dispatched to the country to gain control of key local and government positions. They now dominate a major portion of southern Iraq, including Samavah, Meissan, Nasiriyah, Basra, Wasset, Karbala and Najaf provinces, according to sources with access to the Iranian government.
At least 2,000 Iranian and Iraqi clerics entered Iraq from Qom and Mashad in Iran. Truckloads of books, CDs and cassette tapes promoting Tehran's fundamentalist version of Islam accompanied them.
"Najaf residents talk of Iranians who take up long stays in the city's hotels," the Reuters news agency reported September 7. "They suspect they are secret-service agents sent to keep a close eye on developments on the ground." Even in Baghdad, a majority of the government agencies are run by Shiites, many loyal to Tehran, sources within Iranian agencies dealing with Iraqi affairs said.
In late August, sources said, the commanders of the Al Quds Force and Iraqi surrogate groups met in Tehran and the oil-rich Iranian city of Ahwaz to work on a plan of action in Iraq, the sources said. Part of the plan called for setting up cells in mosques and recruitment from all regions.
Tehran pledged to provide logistic support. In that August meeting, the Al Quds Force commander, Brigadier-General Qassem Soleimani, said that more instability, insecurity and US casualties would benefit the Iranian regime.
The force also set up medical centres in various cities, including Najaf, Baghdad, Hillah, Basra and Al Amarah, to garner support among the local population, much the same way the Revolutionary Guards did in Lebanon's Bekka Valley.
Bremer told a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing in September that 62 captured Iranians were the second-largest group of detained saboteurs. "Elements of the Iranian government are causing mischief in Iraq, interfering in affairs through their intelligence services and through the Revolutionary Guards. This is not helpful."
Against this backdrop, as long as fundamentalists control the reins of power in Iran, their sphere of influence will inevitably spill into Iraq. In many ways, Tehran is the heartland of fundamentalism and terrorism, much as Moscow was for communism.
With the mullahs out of power, fundamentalist thinking would wither away under the power of democracy and secularism.
The United States and the international community must be firm against Tehran and support the call by Iranians and the opposition movement for a referendum for regime change in Iran. Giving in to Tehran's demands, including the bombing of Iranian opposition camps, did not deter the clerics' post-war intervention in Iraq.
Accommodating them now would be a recipe for disaster, for it would only invite further intervention, bringing Tehran a step closer to its dream of establishing an Islamic empire.
Democracy in Iran is a prelude to democracy in Iraq, not vice versa.
Jafarzadeh heads a consulting company in Washington and is a longtime commentator on Iranian affairs
posted on 11/20/2003 9:14:12 AM PST
by Pan_Yans Wife
("Your joy is your sorrow unmasked." --- GIBRAN)
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