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Iranian Alert -- December 2, 2003 -- IRAN LIVE THREAD
The Iranian Student Movement Up To The Minute Reports ^ | 12.2.2003 | DoctorZin

Posted on 12/02/2003 12:04:22 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 American’s 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.


TOPICS: Extended News; Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: iaea; iran; iranianalert; protests; southasia; studentmovement; studentprotest
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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”

1 posted on 12/02/2003 12:04:22 AM PST by DoctorZIn
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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”

2 posted on 12/02/2003 12:07:00 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn

by Amir Taheri
December 1, 2003

The Fires to Come

MISSTEPS: The U. S. is reordering Iraq and the Middle East, but not in the ways it wants or intends

By Amir Taheri

Issues 2004 — The United States invaded Iraq to remove an oppressive dictator and turn Iraq into a model of democracy and economic success in the Arab world. The first objective was achieved in three weeks as one of the most durable of Arab tyrannies crumbled without a real fight. Now, however, the Americans realize that while regime change was easy, model-building is not. In fact, the invasion has shattered the balance of power in Iraq, mostly in ways the Americans did not expect and do not want.

THE UNITED STATES plunged in with little knowledge of Iraq or with false and outdated information from exiles and others with personal agendas. Within weeks it was clear the United States didn't have a clue. Gen. Jay Garner, the first interim administrator, went around making speeches about the Prophet Abraham and the beauty of Mesopotamia, ending up by promising an "Islamic republic" in Iraq. His successor, L. Paul Bremer, first rejected an Iraqi role in the administration, then changed his mind and created the Iraqi Governing Council—with no clear text defining its purpose.

The political mistakes are hurting potential U.S. allies. It was a mistake to disband the Iraqi Army, which was one of the victims of Saddam Hussein. That decision made regime change a threat to the livelihoods of the professional officer corps and their families, or more than a million individuals. It was also a mistake to pursue a program of de-Baathification, or firing members of the ruling Baath Party from all positions of influence. Concocted by some exiles, that program threatened virtually the whole of Iraq's bureaucratic, economic and scientific elites. For 30 years, none of them had been able to find serious work without a party card.

The Coalition ended up disarming the wrong people. To prevent revenge killings, the U.S.-led troops forced some 20 anti-Saddam groups with an estimated 28,000 fighters to give up their weapons. The Coalition also refused to give the estimated 80,000 Kurdish peshmerga fighters any role in ensuring postliberation security. Meanwhile it did nothing to disarm foes, the Saddam loyalists who had looted Army arsenals, often in front of TV cameras. Contrast this to the strategy in Afghanistan, where the United States cultivated allies for a decade before toppling the Taliban in 2001, then built those allies into a relatively unified leadership group. The failure to develop a similar plan for postliberation Iraq has had a disintegrating effect. Competing groups within the Bush administration promote rival Iraqi pretenders. Now power is shifting in favor of the Shiites, who have long been suspicious of the United States, and against the Kurds, who are old friends of the United States. Within the Kurdish areas, younger, more radical leaders are promoting the dream of an independent Kurdish state, which Washington sees as a threat to regional stability.

The power vacuum is partly filled by traditional groups. In the Shiite heartland, Grand Ayatollah Ali Muhammad Sistani has emerged as a power broker. His howzah (seminary) in Najaf is running daily life in nearly a quarter of Iraqi territory with the help of some 3,000 mullahs. The decline of the state apparatus has allowed the resurgence of tribal leaders from the Sunni Triangle north of Baghdad to the marshlands of the southeast and the western desert.
In Baghdad and other major cities, notably Basra, professionals, intellectuals and others are offering the beginnings of a new leadership, but not one necessarily friendly to U.S. interests. Some are dominated by left-wing groups, including the two rival Communist parties. Remnants of the fallen regime and their terrorist allies are part of the unstable pattern of power, especially in former garrison towns like Tikrit, Fallujah, Durra and Baqubah.

The dark horse remains the Iraqi Army that the Coalition wants to create, with help from some 800 officers of the old military elite. Iraq was created as a state around an army in 1921 and is unlikely to survive without a government backed by military force. The Army was also the key institution in which Iraqis from diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds could be remolded as citizens of a single state.

The best-case scenario is the establishment of a pluralist government in 2004, and the start of a phased Coalition withdrawal in 2006. The worst-case scenario could start with a precipitous U.S. withdrawal, perhaps prompted by a new occupant of the White House. That could trigger a power grab in Baghdad and a multilayered civil war, almost certainly bringing in Iran, Turkey, Syria and Jordan—all of which stand to lose from the emergence of a democratic Iraq.

Democracy of any kind threatens the autocratic regimes in Iran and Syria. A new democratic Iraq would reduce the importance of Jordan and Turkey as regional allies of the United States. President George W. Bush's November speech on using Iraq as a base for spreading democracy to the whole of the Middle East has sent shivers down many spines, especially in Cairo, Damascus, Tehran and Riyadh. But if Bush's rhetoric is not backed by action, it could backfire. The danger is that the despotic regimes of the region could come together in a united front to prevent the seed of democracy from taking root in Iraq.

American intervention has provoked a power struggle the likes of which has not been seen in the Middle East since World War I. So far, the United States has won the easy part, hands down. But the hardest part is still ahead.

Taheri is an Iranian author of 10 books on the Middle East and Islam.
3 posted on 12/02/2003 12:13:43 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
I just received an email from a student in Iran regarding their upcoming elections. The Iranians are scheduled to hold national elections in February 2004. Here is the polling information he sent.

"Majority of students being asked in the 2 mentioned polls will vote if they will be given more chances to choose their own favorite candidates.

9% Will Definitely vote.
41% will vote if they can be given a chance to choose their favorite political form of Government ( New Government ) before any other elections.
13% will vote if the moderate candidates become accepted by Guardian Council.
And 37% will NOT vote definitely and they have said that it will be boycotted.
This poll has been done by University of Amir Kabir of Tehran.

In Another poll done by University of Beheshty ( Former National university ), 40.13% will vote
39.7% will NOT vote, and the rest said that they haven't decided yet whether to vote or not. These students have not been asked for the regime change or referendum."
4 posted on 12/02/2003 12:20:53 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
The Iran Challenge

Washington Post - By Richard Cohen
Dec 2, 2003

As far as we know, Iraq has not been a prime sponsor of terrorism under Saddam Hussein in the recent past; Iran was -- and is. As far as we know, Iraq did not have a functioning nuclear weapons program. Iran does. So who did we go to war against? Iraq. Maybe someone in the White House can't spell.

Whatever the explanation, the decision to make war on Iraq has cost the United States plenty when it comes to dealing with Iran. In the past month the Bush administration has been repeatedly rebuffed by our European allies -- Germany, France and even Britain -- over how to deal with Iran's not-so-secret nuclear weapons program. The United States wanted to use the stick; the Europeans prefer the carrot. Iran is now chomping away like Bugs Bunny.

Do not be confused. Unlike the run-up to the Iraq war, this is not a matter of the Europeans quibbling with Bush administration pronouncements that Iran is developing a nuclear weapons program. The signs of one are unmistakable. The Germans in particular are convinced that Iran is -- or was -- developing a nuclear weapons program, and they don't like it one bit.

But this time our allies are even more reluctant to follow the lead of the United States. The last time around, that led to war in Iraq over -- you will remember -- a weapons of mass destruction program that has yet to be found. Only Britain went along, and Tony Blair is paying the price for it in public approval. It now seems apparent that on the question of WMD alone -- never mind links to al Qaeda -- Washington didn't know what it was talking about.

So, over Washington's objections, the Europeans are taking a less confrontational approach with Iran. As a high German official explained it to me, the Europeans think they can convince Iran it has more to gain by aborting its weapons program than by sticking with it. "They could have full trade with the European Union," this official said -- not ostracism.

Good luck to the Europeans. If Iran persists in developing nuclear weapons, then its neighbors may follow -- Turkey, Syria, Egypt and possibly Saudi Arabia. Israel already has such weapons, plus detailed knowledge of Iranian nuclear installations. The Middle East, one of the world's most unstable regions, would be armed to the teeth with nuclear weapons. In the hands of some of those regimes, that would be bad enough, but if the weapons fall into the laps of terrorist groups, the cradle of civilization may well be its grave. Do I have your attention?

The Iranian challenge is both a formidable and a frightening one. Iran is without a doubt a sponsor of terrorism. It supports Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah, and has run guns to the Palestinians. The State Department has called the regime an "active state sponsor of terrorism" -- and here, too, the Europeans do not quibble. And just to add to the gloom, Iran is a justifiably paranoid state. In the 1980s it fought an eight-year war with Iraq in which Saddam Hussein used chemical weapons and rained missiles on Iranian cities. Iran is not about to allow that to happen again.

For the United States, the stakes are greater in Iran than they were in Iraq. Yet the administration has squandered its leadership role with reckless name-calling -- Iran, along with Iraq and North Korea, makes up George W. Bush's "axis of evil" -- and by going to war in Iraq for dubious reasons. The upshot is that both the Europeans and the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency are disinclined to follow Washington's lead. This is especially true of the IAEA's director general, Mohamed ElBaradei, who was bullied and vilified by the Bush administration for his perplexing refusal to agree that Iraq had a nuclear weapons program. That time has so far proved him right has only confirmed this proud Egyptian's judgment -- and the Bush administration's lack of any. The Bush administration wanted to take the Iranian matter to the Security Council, which can impose sanctions. The Europeans and ElBaradei favored a softer approach. Of the 35 nations on the IAEA board, only three -- Canada, Japan and Australia -- went along with the United States. The Europeans got their way, and Iran indicates it will cooperate.

It could be that Washington made an example with Iraq -- and Iran got the message. But it seems more likely that Iran (and North Korea) learned that once you get designated "evil' " you'd better accelerate your nuclear weapons program. Whatever the case, it now seems clear that through clumsy diplomacy, unbridled arrogance and an insistence on taking out Saddam Hussein for reasons that have not been vindicated, the United States comes out of Iraq with its authority diminished. The world respects its might. Its judgment is another question altogether.
5 posted on 12/02/2003 12:24:02 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
Pre-emption policy pedigree

Washington Times - By Arnold Beichman
Dec 2, 2003

On Oct, 25, 1984, then Secretary of State George Shultz laid out what came to be known as the "Shultz Doctrine": "We must reach a consensus in this country that our responses should go beyond passive defense to consider means of active prevention, pre-emption and retaliation. Our goal must be to prevent and deter future terrorist acts, and experience has taught us over the years that one of the best deterrents to terrorism is the certainty that swift and sure measures will be taken against those who engage in it. We should take steps toward carrying out such measures."

Never was such a consensus more needed than it is today 20 years later. In the shadow of September 11, 2001, pre-emption should now be No. 1 on today's agenda. Legal justification for such military action against the metastasis of terrorism must be considered as an integral part of the right of self-defense outlined by the United Nations charter. Let it not be forgotten that when President Reagan invaded Grenada Oct. 25, 1983, and ousted another Castro-controlled Caribbean regime, he was acting pre-emptively. Should President Reagan have waited for another Cuba to appear?

To Mr. Shultz's words, let me add those of an earlier American statesman, Thomas Jefferson: "A strict observance of the laws is doubtless one of the high duties of a good citizen, but it is not the highest. The laws of necessity, of self-preservation, of saving our country when in danger, are of higher obligation. To lose our country by a scrupulous adherence of written law, would be to lose the law itself, with life, liberty, property of all those who are enjoying them with us."

The history of the 20th century is full of examples where pre-emption might have saved millions of lives. Who could have believed that on that Saturday morning of March 7, 1936, when Nazi troops reoccupied the demilitarized Rhineland in violation of the Versailles and Locarno treaties that some 31/2 years later World War II would begin? Had the British and French armies acted pre-emptively against Adolf Hitler's Rhineland coup, how many million lives might have been saved?

Israel, for example, now faces a problem of life and death. This small country of some 6 million people, could be wiped out in a nanosecond because of the rocket development by Iran, and allied terror groups. According to the Israeli daily, Ha'aretz, Iran has reportedly expanded the range of its short- and medium-range rockets that could be shipped to south Lebanon where Hezbollah, the Iran-supported terrorist cabal, is headquartered.

Hezbollah's current arsenal reportedly contains rockets with a range of some 50 miles and warheads weighing 440 pounds. If fired from Israel's northern border, they could hit targets as distant as Haifa and Hadera.

Hamas, another terrorist gang, has tested a new model of the Qassam rocket that can penetrate Israel's coastline. Let's assume this information is solid. Is pre-emption an option to be exercised as it was in 1981 when Israeli F-15s and F-16s bombed into rubble Iraq's Osirak nuclear reactor? Iran itself last July, according to the Associated Press, test-fired the Shahab- 3 ballistic missile, a medium-range 800-mile weapon,capable of flying at 4,320 miles an hour with a 1-ton warhead.

Abraham Sofaer, adviser to the U.S. State Department from 1985 to 1990, has argued that "properly applied, pre-emption is an aspect of a state's legitimate defense authority." Writing in the European Journal of International Law, Judge Sofaer said: "The power to act in self-defense after an attack is based on the need to prevent further attacks, not on any right to exact revenge. ... Pre-emption must be considered responsibly, on a case-by-case basis, but it remains one aspect of every government's duty to protect its people. Weapons of mass destruction can now be fashioned by many states, and delivered in many ways. When such weapons are likely to be used by a state, and all reasonable means short of force have been exhausted, it is reasonable to expect target states to consider pre-emption. When such circumstances exist, pre-emption is necessary, and should therefore properly be regarded as part of the 'inherent right' of self-defense."

The U.N. Charter recognized a world of nation-states. It gave a certain legitimacy to anticolonial and irredentist movements but legitimate actors on the world stage were and remained nation-states, at least as far as the U.N. Security Council was concerned.

There was then no al Qaeda or subordinate freelance groups and their allies capable of projecting terrorist power against the industrial democracies. Yet these terrorist groups are operating on the soil of a nation-state that has granted them immunity from attack. Without a state's support — safe houses, passports, transfer of funds, communications, intelligence, transportation — Hezbollah, Hamas, al Qaeda couldn't operate.

Pre-emption in the day of stateless terrorism needs an expanded legal rationale. Without such a rationale, the democracies are doomed to flounder in a swamp of indecision and confusion.

Arnold Beichman, a Hoover Institution research fellow, is a columnist for The Washington Times.
6 posted on 12/02/2003 12:25:04 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
A Crime And Its Cover-Up

NewsWeek International - By Babak Dehghanpisheh
Dec 8, 2003

With his suit, thin-rimmed glasses and trim beard, Said Mortazavi could pass as a college professor. But few of Iran’s literati would mistake him for a colleague. During a three-year stint as head of Tehran’s Press Court, Mortazavi was responsible for shutting down dozens of reformist newspapers and jailing more than 20 journalists. Critics dubbed him the “butcher of the press.” In recent weeks, Mortazavi, who was appointed Tehran’s public prosecutor in May, has been grabbing headlines again—not for jailing a journalist, but for his alleged role in covering up the death of one.

THE EXTRAORDINARY CASE of Zahra Kazemi, a 54-year-old photographer with both Iranian and Canadian citizenship, has exposed the operation of shadowy security services in Iran and brought international condemnation on the government. Two weeks ago a U.N. committee passed a resolution, drafted by the Canadian government, slamming Iran for human-rights violations. Perhaps more importantly, Kazemi’s death has sparked a major fight between the reformist-dominated majlis , or Parliament, and the hard-line judiciary. Analysts say the dispute is not just about how the Kazemi case gets resolved. There is a larger issue at stake—namely, next February’s parliamentary elections. “Kazemi has become a very important domestic issue,” says a Tehran-based Western diplomat. “If there is a sense that justice isn’t being done, the reformists could lose a lot of support.”

Some basic facts about the case are no longer in dispute. On June 23, Kazemi, who had a work permit from the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance, was arrested while taking photographs of detainees’ families outside the notorious Evin prison in north Tehran. She was accused of spying, but denied the charge. During the initial four days of interrogation by various security agencies, including the Ministry of Intelligence and Public Prosecutor’s Office, Kazemi was hit on the head with a blunt object, which resulted in her death on July 10. Issa Saharkhiz, editor of the reformist magazine Aftab, was himself in Evin prison shortly after Kazemi was beaten. He asked prison authorities why she had been detained. “A picture taken outside of the prison is not a strong case for spying,” he says. “It was only an excuse to arrest her. Various groups wanted to claim she was bringing money from foreign organizations to journalists and local newspapers. But they could not get this confession.”

A report issued in early November by the Parliament’s Article 90 Commission, responsible for investigating complaints against the government, claimed Kazemi had received the fatal blow while in the custody of judiciary officials. Mortazavi, the report said, had tried to cover up the killing by forcing witnesses to change their testimony. The report infuriated members of the judiciary who’d already started proceedings against a Ministry of Intelligence agent in early October. That trial, set to resume in late December, has been dismissed by critics, including President Mohammed Khatami, as an attempt to shift blame away from the real culprits. “Why aren’t all the people who were involved in this matter, particularly those who ordered a Culture Ministry official to announce she died of a stroke, being questioned?” Khatami said, referring to Mortazavi.

Conservatives in the government accuse the reformists of grandstanding for political gain. They argue that, with parliamentary elections looming, the reformists are confronting the judiciary as a means of showing the public they still have teeth. “This case has become a political matter,” says Mohammed Mohammedi, a conservative parliamentarian. “Reformists know they’re going to lose the next elections. So they’ve focused on this case as a means of getting publicity. Mr. Mortazavi did nothing wrong.”

Iran’s reformists do seem to have lost some political momentum. They were trounced in local council elections last February, when only a fraction of voters, 11 percent in Tehran, cast their ballots. Such voter apathy, say analysts, was a clear sign that the public has begun to lose faith in the reform movement. Analysts say that unless the reformists can point to a high-profile achievement, such as a transparent resolution of the Kazemi case or even the removal of Mortazavi, they may be soundly defeated in the parliamentary elections. “The reformists know they have to do something,” says one analyst in Tehran. “But the conservatives are much more confident. They stand a better chance in the elections.”

Even so, members of the judiciary acknowledge they’ve taken a public-relations hit on the Kazemi case, and have been trying to soften the blow. In early November Morteza Bakhtiari, head of the National Department of Prisons, announced, at the behest of the judiciary, that solitary-confinement cells would be abolished from all prisons in the country. And Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi-Shahroudi, the head of the judiciary, made a rare public appearance at a Nov. 22 student gathering at Tehran University. There, he said additional changes may be forthcoming. Among those under consideration: judges may be asked to commute prison sentences and to reduce the length of detentions. In addition, lawyers may be required to attend all phases of a detainee’s interrogation.

It remains to be seen whether these promises will be carried out. Meanwhile, the judiciary must decide how to handle Mortazavi. “What’s important to us is that a tragedy took place,” says government spokesman Abdullah Ramezanzadeh, a reformist close to Khatami. “We only ask that an independent and legitimate investigation of this case take place. Whether someone gets pushed aside from their post isn’t the point. The truth needs to come out, and justice must be served.” If only everyone in power in Iran hewed to those noble goals.
7 posted on 12/02/2003 12:27:25 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
Khatami briefs constitutional board

Sunday, November 30, 2003 - ©2003

Tehran, Nov 30, IRIB -- Iran's President Mohammad Khatami received members of the constitutional supervisory board concurrent with the anniversary of the issuance of the presidential decree on the formation of the board.

A report released by the media department of the presidential office said that in the meeting, the President reiterated the need to adapt today's global situation and ensure full implementation of the constitution to achieve social order and proper communication between the government and people.

Turning to the recent meeting between the heads of the Judiciary and Legislative branches and members of the Guardian Council (GC), he hoped that given the agreements reached, the law on political crimes and the banning of torture will soon be exemplified.

The President expressed satisfaction over the Judiciary Chief's order on replacing the current single prison cells with more proper ones and the attendance of lawyers in the investigation sessions.

The head of the supervisory board, Hossein Mehrpour, briefed the president on the board's activities with respect to various organizations and the implementation of the constitution at home and abroad.

Pointing to the UN resolution on the violation of human rights by Iran, he called for a meeting of high-ranking state officials to settle some of the current difficulties and ensure optimum implementation of law to reduce the chance of providing the world arrogant powers with further pretexts.

Meanwhile, the latest developments on the drafts pertaining to the President's authorities and elections were discussed and the members expressed their views on some of the principles of the constitution and the strategy of their implementation.
8 posted on 12/02/2003 12:31:39 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
Council In Iraq Resisting Ayatollah

December 01, 2003
The Washington Post
Rajiv Chandrasekaran

BAGHDAD -- A majority of Iraq's U.S.-appointed Governing Council has decided to support an American plan to select a provisional government through regional caucuses despite objections from the country's most powerful Shiite Muslim cleric, according to several council members.

The council's stance, the result of intense lobbying over the past few days by the U.S. administrator of Iraq, L. Paul Bremer, could result in a dramatic showdown with Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, who has insisted that a provisional government be chosen through a national election. If the council persists in supporting the American plan, many in Iraq's Shiite majority, who regard the grand ayatollah as their supreme spiritual authority, may reject the provisional government as illegitimate.

"We are facing a very tense situation, perhaps the most tense since the end of the war," one of the council's Shiite members said. "None of us want a confrontation, but we have to realize we are traveling down a road that could lead to a very big confrontation."

Council members and officials with the U.S.-led occupation authority said they remained hopeful that Sistani's objections could be overcome with minor revisions to the plan and a more detailed explanation to him of the new transition process, which was crafted in part to address his earlier concerns about how a constitution should be written. But they expressed an unwillingness to bend on the issue of general elections, on the grounds that holding a national ballot would delay an agreed-upon handover of sovereignty, which is to take place no later than June 30.

"It will be impossible to have elections under the current circumstances," said Ghazi Yawar, a Sunni Muslim who represents one of the country's largest tribes on the council. "We all respect the point of view of Ayatollah Sistani, but there is a difference between what you wish for and what you can have."

Even the country's largest Shiite political party, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, has sought to distance itself from Sistani's insistence on elections. "When we say 'Iraqis choose' or 'Iraqis elect,' this can take many meanings," said Adel Abdel-Mehdi, director of the party's political bureau. "There is no one way to do that."

The decision to stick with the U.S. plan was made informally among a majority of the council's 24 members after intense discussions over the weekend and on Monday, several council members and sources said. They said some Shiite members remained undecided because they were waiting for a clearer statement from Abdel-Mehdi's party, which has voiced reservations about the caucuses.

The initial moves of the council have pleased the Bush administration, which regards caucuses as the best -- and speediest -- way to select a provisional government. U.S. officials had worried that a call for elections by the council would have scuttled the transition plan, making it harder for President Bush to declare an end to the civil occupation before next year's presidential election.

"We're encouraged by the Governing Council's focus on implementing the agreement," a senior U.S. official in Baghdad said.

The council's apparent steadfastness stems from a desire among Sunni Arabs, Sunni Kurds and secular Shiites that an ayatollah not be given veto power over political decisions. "We cannot deny there is an attempt to set a precedent on Sistani's side and our side," one member said. "This is more than about elections. It's about whether we will allow one man to dictate the terms of our sovereignty."

The member said that "the most powerful political forces on the council" did not want such a result and had decided among themselves to confront the issue of religion in politics -- a thorny subject that was to be deferred until the drafting of a new constitution. "The big parties don't want to cross Sistani, but they want to make sure we don't have a system in place where the religious men have the final say."

Under the Bush administration's new transition plan, approved by the council on Nov. 15, caucuses would be held in Iraq's 18 provinces to choose representatives to serve on a transitional assembly, which would form a provisional government. Participants in the caucuses would have to be approved by 11 of 15 people on an organizing committee, which would be selected by the Governing Council and U.S.-appointed councils at the city and provincial levels.

Assuming the process stays on track and on schedule, the provisional government would assume sovereignty no later than June 30, at which time the Governing Council would be dissolved. After completion of a census and enactment of electoral laws, the provisional government would hold an election for a council to draft a new constitution. A second round of elections would be held by the end of 2005 for a full-fledged government as outlined in the constitution.

Bremer had originally wanted a constitution to be drafted -- either by appointees or people selected through caucuses -- before sovereignty was transferred. But his plan was foiled by Sistani, who issued a religious edict over the summer calling for the drafters to be elected. Although Bremer wanted to push forward with his arrangement, council members refused to support it out of fear of crossing Sistani.

Worried that the council might quake again in light of Sistani's most recent pronouncement about elections for the provisional government, Bremer and his staff hit the phones over the weekend and urged members to stay their course. "They were nervous," one source close to the council said of Bremer's team. "They went into high gear."

Some council members responded with political maneuvering of their own. Hoping to win a few concessions from the occupation authority for standing firm, they have renewed efforts to keep the council in existence after June 30, perhaps as a second legislative body or as a "sovereignty council" that would monitor the transfer of power.

U.S. officials have opposed keeping the council around after a provisional government is formed because of concern that the two bodies might squabble and that the entire process could lose legitimacy if an American-appointed council continued to hold power. But several council members, particularly those who do not lead large political parties, are concerned about their ability to be selected through the caucuses.

Some of them now want Bremer to guarantee members a role in the provisional government in exchange for their support of the caucuses.

Several members also want the council to play a greater role in selecting people for the caucuses. Under the Nov. 15 plan, the Governing Council would appoint only five of the 15 members on each of the 18 caucus organizing committees. The 10 others would be drawn from provincial and city councils.

But Governing Council members contend the provincial and local councils, several of which were formed by military commanders with minimal popular consultation, are not sufficiently representative and are rife with loyalists of former president Saddam Hussein. As a consequence, many members want either the Governing Council to have more seats on the organizing committees or the local councils to be dissolved and assembled from scratch.

Council leaders say they believe revamping the local councils or diminishing their role could affect Sistani's position. "He is concerned about the local councils," said a Shiite politician who recently met with Sistani. "If we could reform them, maybe even by holding some local elections, it might satisfy him."

To that end, the Governing Council set up a committee on Sunday intended to suggest ways to revise the selection process. U.S. officials said Bremer would be willing to consider minor modifications but that he remained opposed to giving the Governing Council a dominant role in choosing participants.

While the council attempts to make changes acceptable to both Bremer and Sistani, the occupation authority is wasting no time trying to sell the agreement directly to the Iraqi public in an attempt to win over the grand ayatollah's supporters. A nationwide "information operations" campaign slated to begin in the next few days will tout the new plan as good for Iraqis.
9 posted on 12/02/2003 2:08:33 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn; McGavin999; freedom44; nuconvert; Eala; AdmSmith; dixiechick2000; onyx; Pro-Bush; ...
Iran insiders

By Marshall V. King
Truth Staff
Mon, Dec 1, 2003

GOSHEN -- Not many Americans are heading to Iran these days, but four Goshen residents toured the country in October.

Bill and Phyllis Miller, Marlin Jeschke and Ervin Beck were part of a Mennonite Central Committee study tour to one of the three countries President Bush called the "axis of evil."
"My impression was I was helping George Bush in a small way by fostering relations," said Jeschke.

An Islamic institute in the city of Qom and a government agency in Tehran invited the MCC touring group, which also included five Canadians. Middlebury native Wally Shellenberger is a student at the Islamic institute and helped conduct the tour from Sept. 29 to Oct. 20 for MCC.

Government officials, shopkeepers and families received the group warmly. "People were delighted we were there," said Beck, Goshen College professor emeritus of English and former teacher at an Iran school in the early 1960s.

They were welcomed on the clean, well-lighted streets of Tehran and other cities. "I didn't feel any hostility anywhere," said Jeschke, Goshen College professor emeritus of religion.

The purpose of the trip was to learn more about the Shiite branch of Islam. Jeschke studied Islam in Iran and other countries in 1969. The Millers, who are retired educators, worked for an aid agency Afghanistan and Pakistan from 1995 to 1999. Their work put them in contact with Sunni Muslims. "We found the Shiites much more open to dialogue," he said. "The openness and interest in discussion was much greater."

The quartet said they aren't political scientists, but have some ideas about political relations between the United States and Iran, which has a theocratic government ruled by Islamic leaders. "Pressure from the U.S. really is to the disadvantage of those (in Iran) trying to push reforms," said Bill Miller. "The best we could do to improve conditions in Iran is to help diplomatic relations internally," said Beck.

The government officials they met with expressed hope for improved relations with the U.S. "They're all in favor of restored diplomatic relations between the two countries," said Beck.

U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., is among those using tough language about Iran, said Phyllis Miller, but they hope their visit was part of an ongoing effort to build relationships between the countries and their citizens. For the Millers, that included getting reacquainted with an Iranian family they met 25 years ago at Indiana University Bloomington.

Beck said they don't know what Iran's nuclear ambitions are or what the extremist group Hezbollah is doing. "We didn't see a police state," he said, noting it appears the country is putting money into education and libraries.

The group found that Mennonites and their work are known in Iran. "No other church is as active in Iran as the Mennonite church, as far as we know," said Beck. MCC contributes funds to the Red Crescent Society -- the international equivalent to the American Red Cross -- for relief work for earthquake victims, refugees and those needing artificial limbs. The group toured a workshop where the prostheses are made.

The group toured a prisoner of war camp used in the war against Iraq, as well as historic sites such as Persepolis, the ruins of an ancient capital. "I was struck with the history of the place," said Phyllis Miller of the country as a whole.

They saw a country rich with agricultural resources and artistic treasures. "I would say if Iran ever opens up, it would be a marvelous tourist place," said Bill Miller.

Traffic was chaotic and they sensed some restlessness among young people. They also met with an evangelical group working in Iraq to convert Muslims. Jeschke said the trip helped clarify for him the heart of Christianity and that the way of Jesus is one of goodwill, servanthood and compassion.

Contact Marshall V. King at
10 posted on 12/02/2003 3:46:20 AM PST by F14 Pilot
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To: DoctorZIn
Found an interesting little item. Wasn't sure what to make of it:

Iceland's Foreign Minister in Iran for talks
Iceland's Foreign Minister Halldor Asgrimsson arrived in the Iranian capital city of Tehran Monday on a two-day visit to meet with high-ranking Iranian officials, the official IRNA news agency reported.

Asgrimsson, who is in Tehran at the invitation of his Iranian counterpart Kamal Kharrazi, is expected to meet with President Mohammad Khatami, Kharrazi, Minister of Energy Habibollah Bitaraf and Minister of Agriculture Jihad Mahmoud Hojjati. (

Could be some back channel diplomacy going on here between US and Iran with Iceland as the go between. Then again, it could be nothing.
11 posted on 12/02/2003 3:47:16 AM PST by Prodigal Son
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To: DoctorZIn
Ebadi keeps suspense over headscarf in Paris

December 02, 2003

TEHRAN, Dec 2, (AFP) -- Iran's Nobel Peace prize winner refused to say Tuesday if she would wear the Islamic headscarf which is mandatory in her home country when she receives her award on December 10 in Oslo.

"You will see on that day," the human rights lawyer said at a press conference in answer to a journalist's question. Ebadi shocked conservative Iranians by appearing bareheaded in front of television cameras in Paris after the announcement of her award on October 10.

Since her return to Iran, Ebadi has put her veil back on, saying that she is showing her respect for the laws of her country. She told journalists Tuesday, "I have not changed since the Nobel Prize, but the prize has given me more courage to continue the struggle."

Ebadi has denied any political ambition and rejected the status of standard-bearer that many Iranians would like to see her assume. "I reject hero-worship. Some people wait for heroes to express their wishes. This is a mistake.

People have to struggle for themselves ... because freedom and democracy don't come on a silver platter." She declined to voice support any candidate in the general elections on February 20, 2004, which will see supporters of reformist President Mohammad Khatami defend their majority in parliament against stiff odds.

But she expressed the hope that a bill preventing a conservative watchdog body from vetting candidates would be approved, "to guarantee people's freedom to vote for their choice."

The Guardians Council, which has rejected hundreds of pro-reform candidates in the past on only the vaguest of grounds, has also used its powers to throw out the new bill, which now has to go to arbitration.

Ebadi also defended women's right to run for president in 2005, giving the constitution a liberal reading contested by conservatives. She welcomed a recent modification in the law on custody of children. "The old law, which was more than 70 years old, gave custody to the father, except for boys younger than two and girls younger than seven," she said.

From then on, custody automatically reverted to the children's father. Iran's arbitration body, the Expediency Council, unusually overruled the Guardians Council's rejection of the change allowing divorced mothers to keep custody of both their sons and daughters until they reach seven, state media said Saturday.

Ebadi, founder of a group of lawyers and a children's defence organization, also announced that she has created an association for the clearing of old war zones still infested with mines in Iran.

12 posted on 12/02/2003 6:06:51 AM PST by F14 Pilot
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To: F14 Pilot
Freedom ~ Bump!
13 posted on 12/02/2003 7:39:29 AM PST by blackie
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To: DoctorZIn
Tehran Protests to US over Iranian killed in Iraq

December 02, 2003

TEHRAN -- Iran has sent an official protest to the United States over the killing of an Iranian by American troops during a fierce firefight in Iraq on Sunday, the official IRNA news agency said on Tuesday.

U.S. troops said they killed 54 guerrillas in a battle to fight off coordinated ambushes on armoured convoys carrying large quantities of banknotes in the tense Iraqi town of Samarra.

Police said eight civilians were among the dead, including an Iranian pilgrim.

''Iran's Foreign Ministry summoned the Swiss ambassador to Tehran on Monday to voice its strong protest over the killing of an Iranian by American forces,'' the agency said.

Switzerland has looked after U.S. interests in Iran since Washington cut ties with Tehran shortly after the 1979 Islamic revolution.

The Foreign Ministry called on Washington to investigate the Samarra incident and offer compensation to the dead Iranian's family.

Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi said the United States should be held accountable for the killing of an Iranian which was ''unjustifiable'' under any pretext.

Iran, which fought an eight-year war with Iraq in the 1980s, strongly opposed the U.S.-led war to topple Saddam Hussein and has called on Washington to withdraw its troops and hand over full power to Iraqis as soon as possible.

''America has made the world insecure by its irresponsible measures and it should end Iraq's occupation soon,'' Kharrazi said.
14 posted on 12/02/2003 8:29:32 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
Iran Girl's Murder Spurs Debate Over Blood Money

December 01, 2003
Women's eNews
Dan De Luce

TEHRAN, Iran -- Leila Fathi left her village in the mountains one day to pick wild flowers and never came home. The 11-year old girl was raped and killed. Seven years later, her parents are still seeking justice and Iranian human rights activists say the case illustrates how the country's laws are fundamentally discriminatory against women.

Three men were accused of killing Fahti in the predominantly Kurdish region of Sarghez, northwest of the capital Tehran. One of the suspects confessed and later hung himself in prison. The other two suspects denied the charges but said they had helped bury the body. They were tried and found guilty.

After a series of appeals, the Supreme Court confirmed the guilty verdict. The case has been appealed yet again and proceedings are due to resume soon in the Kermanshah provincial court.

But what has attracted the attention of Iranian newspapers and human rights activists is the death penalty sentence handed down in previous rulings.

Under Iran's laws that determine compensation, a woman's life is worth half that of a man's life. As a result, the killers' lives are worth more in financial terms than the murdered girl. Bizarrely, Fahti's family was required to come up with thousands of dollars to pay the "blood money" for the execution of their daughter's killers.

The concept of enforcing blood money provisions for criminal punishment appears to be unique to Iran, according to Islamic legal experts. In other Islamic countries that use Sharia law as a basis for the legal code, blood money is carried out but only in compensation and inheritance cases and not for criminal sentences.

The family's lawyer is the winner of this year's Nobel Peace Prize, Shirin Ebadi, who has long argued for scrapping the blood-money law. She said in a recent interview with Women's eNews that the murdered girl's parents sold their house and most of their possessions to try to raise the necessary funds and had moved into a tent outside the local courthouse.

Father Tries to Raise Money by Selling Kidney

The victim's elderly father, a day laborer, tried to sell his one of his kidneys to raise a total of about $18,000. His doctor refused. Leyla's disabled brother also tried to sell a kidney, and the doctor refused again.

Appalled by the family's desperate situation, the doctor went to the judiciary to demand the state provide the remaining funds needed to pay for the execution of the victim's killers. Ebadi says the doctor threatened the judges that if they failed to take action, he would tell the French medical charity, Medecins Sans Frontieres--known in English as Doctors Without Borders--about the case.

Ebadi, a prominent advocate on women's issues, says she took on the case to illustrate the inherent injustice of blood money law.

"This case is a result of this terrible law. The victim's family is homeless now and the case is still not closed," Ebadi said. "They are decimated by all of this."

The judiciary decided earlier this year that the state would help pay one third of the sum required, an unprecedented ruling that came partly as a result of the media coverage devoted to the case.

But Ebadi said the ruling does not represent any victory because the law remains. She said she hopes the publicity will force the law to be changed, to make compensation equal for men and women.

Cleric Denounces Law

The national bar association has called for changing the blood-money provisions as well as other laws that discriminate against Iranian women. Female legislators have spoken out against the law and they have found support from an unlikely source, Grand Ayatollah Youssef Saanei, who belongs to the highest ranks of the Shia clergy.

From the theological center of Qom, southwest of the capital Tehran, Saanei has declared that the blood money provisions in Iran are against Islamic Sharia law, which forms the basis of the Iranian legal code.

"Blood money is the price for a human life and the essence of life is driven from the soul," he has been quoted as saying. "The soul that God gave women is no less than the soul God gave men."

Saanei and a handful of other moderate clerics have helped provide valuable religious backing for initiatives proposed by reformists in parliament. The reformist legislators argue that discrimination against women violates Islam and merely reflects patriarchal interpretations of Sharia law handed down by certain male clergy.

The rationale for the law on blood money, according to some scholars, dates to an era when men were the sole breadwinners in a household. Executing the breadwinner could make his widow's family destitute.

But Ayatollah Saanei has argued that such a concept would mean that the lives of children, unemployed people or retired men would be worth less in compensation terms as well. For Saanei, the value of human life is universal and cannot be linked to whether a victim is a breadwinner.

"Blood money has nothing to do with breadwinning at all; it is the issue of the value of the blood and it is a matter of human dignity," Saanei has said in a published interview. Current provisions in Iranian law are "cruel," according to Saanei, and violate the fundamental Islamic principle of justice and fairness.

Other powerful clergy disagree with Saanei, one of the most moderate-minded clerics in Iran, and have blocked previous attempts to change laws on blood money and other issues. The conservatives that wield ultimate authority in Iran see any change in women's legal status as a threat to what they describe as "Islamic tradition."

Conservative Council Stands Against Women's Equality

Female legislators in the reformist parliament have had only limited success in pushing through changes to Iran's legal code. The parliament's initiatives have been repeatedly blocked by the ultra-conservative Guardian Council--an appointed body that includes hard-line clergy and jurists--that vets all legislation. The council has been particularly reluctant to approve proposed laws designed to improve women's status.

The Guardian Council recently vetoed the parliament's approval of the U.N. Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, calling for equal legal treatment for women without exception.

Ebadi said that there are many other cases in which victims' families struggle to come up with the blood money to finance punishment of convicted murderers or rapists. The law also includes contradictory rules for the loss of limbs or other body parts.

The penal code defines blood money compensation for a man as one of the following: 100 camels, 200 cows, 1,000 sheep, 200 silk dresses, 1,000 gold coins and 10,000 silver coins. These older forms of valuation are not carried out in practice and the courts have opted for cash equivalents instead.

Ebadi said there is little public support for the blood money law or other provisions in Iran's penal code that impose an inferior status on women. With women entering university in groundbreaking numbers, there is increasing awareness of women's rights and the theocratic system's discriminatory ways, she said.

"People are mostly against these laws. They see the problems that are created," she said. "If you ask Iranian women 'are you satisfied with your legal situation' about 90 percent will say 'no.'"

A petition has been circulated demanding changes to the blood money law and students, lawyers and human rights activists are continuing to press for amendments.

"As an optimist, I believe the law will be changed but when, I don't know," Ebadi said. "Maybe in two months or in two years, but it will be changed."

Dan De Luce is a correspondent based in Tehran, Iran.
15 posted on 12/02/2003 8:31:01 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
U.S. Rejects Syrian Overtures on Relations, Israel

December 02, 2003
The Washington Times
David R. Sands

The Bush administration yesterday gave a cold shoulder to an unusual public appeal from Syrian President Bashar Assad for better bilateral relations and for U.S. support for new peace talks between Syria and Israel.

Officials at the National Security Council said yesterday President Bush is still committed to signing a bill — possibly within days — calling for new economic and diplomatic sanctions on Damascus for its support of terrorist groups. Congress overwhelmingly approved the punitive measure last month after the administration dropped its long-standing opposition to the bill.

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said the United States was prepared to support "all tracks of the Middle East peace process," but said Syria's continued backing of Palestinian militant groups remained a major obstacle.

"We find it hard to understand how Syria can talk peace at a time when Syria continues to support groups that are violently opposed to the peace process, that are violently opposed to the Palestinian government [and] to the building of a Palestinian state," Mr. Boucher said.

In a lengthy interview published yesterday in the New York Times, Mr. Assad argued that strong U.S. support for new talks between Syria and Israel over the disputed Golan Heights could help repair America's image in the Arab world after the war in Iraq, a campaign that Syria bitterly opposed.

He also defended Syria's cooperation in the U.S.-led war on terrorism and with the U.S.-led security force now in Iraq. He said Syria had provided sensitive intelligence information on operations by the al Qaeda terrorist network, foiling attacks on U.S. targets. Mr. Assad said Syria is cracking down on Islamic militants attempting to cross into Iraq, but conceded his country does not have the manpower to seal its 300-mile border with Iraq.

Mr. Assad, who succeeded his father Hafez Assad in 2000, contended that Damascus supported only the political and humanitarian wings of militant Palestinian groups such as Islamic Jihad and Hamas.

But the Bush administration and leading members of Congress have called this a distinction without a difference, and Israel argues that Syria's support for violent Palestinian groups goes far deeper that Mr. Assad will admit.

Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz, in an interview with The Washington Times last month, said Israeli intelligence had learned that a deadly restaurant bombing in Haifa in October had been ordered by the Damascus office of Islamic Jihad, an incident that led to an Israeli bombing mission on a suspected terrorist training camp 12 miles from the Syrian capital.

Israeli pilots buzzed Mr. Assad's presidential residence during the mission, Mr. Mofaz revealed.

No bill-signing date has been made public, but a National Security Council official yesterday said President Bush still intends to sign the "Syria Accountability Act" in the near future.

Citing Syrian support for terrorism and its military domination of Lebanon, the legislation would ban the export to Syria of commercial goods that could have military uses and calls on President Bush to impose at least two sanctions from a lengthy list contained in the measure.

Possible punitive actions include: barring most U.S. investments in Syria; restrictions on travel by Syrian diplomats beyond Washington and New York; a freeze on Syrian government assets in the United States; and banning Syrian aircraft from U.S. airspace.

Owing to a last-minute amendment in the Senate, the act gives President Bush broad discretion to waive the sanctions "in the national-security interests," although Mr. Bush still would be required to state in writing why he approved the waiver. White House officials say it is too soon to tell whether Mr. Bush will impose any sanctions.

Syria, which has seen its ties with the European Union and Turkey improve in recent months, largely has brushed off the sanctions, saying the primary victims would be American companies and oil firms. U.S. exports to Syria in 2002 amounted to about $269 million.
16 posted on 12/02/2003 8:32:44 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
Al-Qaeda Ideology Spreading - UN

December 02, 2003
Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting

Tehran -- Security Council has reported that Al Qaeda's ideology continues to spread, especially in Iraq, raising the fear of more terrorist attacks, UN Information Center in Tehran reported here on Tuesday.

The second report by the monitoring group of the Security Council Committee overseeing sanctions against Al Qaeda and the Taliban found that while progress had been made in cutting off Al-Qaeda's access to financing, moves to freeze companies linked to the organization had proven much more difficult.

The report also stated that serious obstacles remained to successfully monitoring and upholding the arms embargo against Al Qaeda and the Taliban.
17 posted on 12/02/2003 8:34:19 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
Iran Demands to be an Observer in the Arab League

December 02, 2003
Arabic News

The spokesman for the Iranian foreign ministry, Hameed Rida Asifi, said yesterday that Iran asked the Arab League to give it the status of an observer in the Arab League.

The Iranian papers quoted Asifi as saying that the director of the foreign ministry affairs for the Middle East and North Africa, Muhammad Ali Sabahani, "submitted this request so as to have Iran an observer in the AL during his meeting with the secretary general of the Arab League ( Amr Moussa) on November 13, and we are waiting for the answer."

This is, however, the first time in which Iran submits such a request which created controversy between the supporters and opposers of this request even for an Iranian status as an observer at the League.
18 posted on 12/02/2003 8:35:16 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
Turkey Attack Ringleaders Met with al-Zawahiri

December 02, 2003
The Associated Press

ANKARA, Turkey - Two key suspects in last month's suicide bombings in Istanbul met with and took instructions from Osama bin Laden's right-hand man, newspapers reported Tuesday, a day after the government made its strongest statement linking the attackers to al-Qaida.

Main suspects Habib Aktas and Azad Ekinci met with bin Laden's top lieutenant, Ayman al-Zawahiri, several times, Hurriyet newspaper reported, quoting the testimony from another suspect. The two Turks are suspected of planning the Nov. 15 suicide bombings of two synagogues and of the British Consulate and a British bank five days later.

"They were the only ones to meet with al-Zawahiri," Hurriyet quoted the man, identified as Yusuf Polat, as telling police during questioning. "The instructions came from him. They would meet (with him) at least three times a year, using false identity documents."

Milliyet and Zaman newspapers carried similar reports. Police would not comment on the reports.

The reports came a day after Deputy Prime Minister Abdullatif Sener said following a Cabinet meeting that "those who were involved in these terrorist attacks as suicide bombers, and those who had relations with them ... are linked to the al-Qaida terrorist organization."

At least three claims of responsibility for the bombings purportedly came from al-Qaida. The government had been hesitant to name al-Qaida and Sener's statement was the first time the government outright linked the attacks to bin Laden's network.

The man identified as Polat was captured while trying to travel into Iran and charged over the weekend with a crime equivalent to treason - the most prominent arrest to date in the investigation. Newspapers have said he confessed to belonging to a small al-Qaida cell in Turkey.

Police said he surveyed the site for one of the synagogue bombings and gave the go-ahead for the attack.

Newspapers initially identified Ekinci as one of the suicide bombers, but he is now described as one of the ringleaders.

Police believe that he, Aktas and four other suspected ringleaders of a Turkish cell linked to al-Qaida fled abroad just before the attacks, Cumhuriyet newspaper reported.

On Sunday, Syria handed over 22 suspects in the bombing at Turkey's request. Two of the suspects - a husband and wife - were brought to Ankara for questioning by anti-terrorism police on Tuesday after a preliminary interrogated by police in the southern city of Antakya, near Syria. Newspapers have said the two were connected to Ekinci.

More than 130 people have been detained in connection to the bombings and 21 people - including Polat - have been charged, most with aiding or membership in an illegal organization.

On Monday, a Moroccan source told The Associated Press in Rabat that a senior al-Qaida operative suspected of ordering a deadly terrorist attack in Casablanca earlier this year may also have been behind bombings in Turkey.

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, whom the CIA has described as a close associate of bin Laden, is believed to have played a role in attacks in Istanbul, said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Al-Zarqawi was identified by Moroccan authorities in July as the mastermind of a wave of suicide bombings that killed 33 bystanders and 12 suicide bombers in Casablanca in May.
19 posted on 12/02/2003 8:36:18 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
Iran Uncovered, Inside the Hidden Revolution

December 02, 2003
Channel 4 News
C4 News

Dispatches reporter Jane Kokan risks her life as she goes undercover in Iran to obtain secret pictures showing the medieval barbarity the Iranian authorities want to keep hidden.

Iran has been labelled part of the Axis of Evil but as Jane discovers, the real evil is the state-sponsored torture and murder of its own young.

This June, violent street demonstrations shook Teheran and other Iranian cities. Students, supported by thousands of ordinary Iranians, took on the mullahs' thuggish vigilantes to demand freedom of expression and democracy: the latest chapter in a peoples' revolution that has been quietly gathering pace. The world saw virtually none of this, because journalists were kept well away, with threats of violence.

They were not idle threats. In July, the Canadian journalist Zahra Kazemi was beaten to death after 77 hours of interrogation for photographing students demonstrating outside Evin prison.

No television crew has managed to tell the story Zahra was killed trying to tell - until now. In this special Dispatches , reporter Jane Kokan, another Canadian, goes undercover to reveal what is really going on in Iran, securing exclusive interviews with leaders of Iran's hidden revolution, and detailing, with powerful video and forensic evidence, the 'disappearances' and torture of young people opposed to the regime.

Gaining entry to Iran via an overland package trip from the Balkans, Jane meets up secretly with dissidents right across Iran. Dodging her minders, who stalked her whenever she left her hotel, Jane finds and films the anonymous site in Shiraz where Zahra Kazemi's body was buried.

In a series of covert trips away from the eyes of her minders, Jane films compelling first-hand stories of vicious torture, from student leaders under almost constant surveillance. Jane even manages to interview one the young leaders of the revolution, Amir Fakhravar, on a mobile phone smuggled into his prison cell. This was right in the heart of Teheran under the eyes of the revolutionary guards.

Throughout this cat-and-mouse game with the authorities, Jane films her minders and keeps a vivid diary of her increasingly perilous trip. She is followed to phones and internet cafes, and at every hotel is placed in the same room - 101 - between two minders.

Jane couldn't risk taking her tapes with her back across the border. Instead, they were smuggled out of Teheran, across the Turkish mountains. Just as well Jane didn't take the chance: leaving Iran, she was searched and all her tourist tapes viewed by the authorities: the one incriminating tape she was carrying - last-minute interviews with students in Tabriz - she hid in her knickers.

Seventy per cent of Iranians are under 30, many have access to the Internet and satellite TV and, as one of Jane's confidants says touchingly, all they want is a 'normal life' - free from oppression.

Iran Undercover - Inside the Hidden Revolution is broadcasting on Channel 4 at 10.40pm, Dec 02.
20 posted on 12/02/2003 8:37:43 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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