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Iranian Alert -- December 8, 2003 -- IRAN LIVE THREAD
The Iranian Student Movement Up To The Minute Reports ^ | 12.8.2003 | DoctorZin

Posted on 12/08/2003 12:10:48 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
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 12/08/2003 12:10:49 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 12/08/2003 12:12:58 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
Iran's president orders Cabinet ministers to confront vigilantes

Students rally for freedom

Iranian students clasp hands and chant while holding a picture of jailed student, Ahmad Batebi, during a gathering marking the annual Student Day, at Tehran University campus in Iran.


TEHRAN, Iran, Dec. 7 — Iran's president Sunday ordered two Cabinet ministers to crack down on hard-line vigilantes who disrupt political meetings following an attack on one of his close aides, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported.

President Mohammad Khatami ordered Intelligence Minister Ali Yunesi and Interior Minister Abdolvahed Mousavi Lari to provide security and protection for participants and speakers at authorized rallies, saying he won't tolerate further attacks as the country prepares for parliamentary elections slated for Feb. 20.

''I seriously want you to, firstly, make use of all the facilities available to provide security for legal gatherings. Secondly, no effort should be spared to identify and confront those attacking authorized meetings as criminals,'' IRNA quoted Khatami as saying.

Meanwhile, about 1,500 pro-reform students at Tehran University rallied Sunday inside the campus, chanting slogans against Iran's leadership and saying the 1979 Islamic revolution failed to fulfill its promise of freedom.

The demonstrators also denounced Khatami for failing to stand up to hard-liners.

''Khatami doesn't have the courage to fulfill his promises ... unfortunately, after six years failing to enforce promised democratic reforms, Khatami has lost the confidence of the young generation,'' female student leader Leila Zanjani Zanjani told the rally.

Hard-line thugs have frequently disrupted gatherings of reformists and have rarely been brought to court.

On Friday, prominent reformist lawmaker Mohsen Mirdamadi, who heads the Iranian Parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, was beaten by hard-line vigilantes Friday as he began a speech in Yazd, in central Iran. Mirdamadi was treated at a hospital for a cut on his head.

Mirdamadi was in Yazd to meet officials of his party, the Islamic Iran Participation Front, and to make a speech. Mirdamadi is a senior member of the party, the country's largest reformist group.

''On the verge of elections, (in which) all of us want a massive turnout, legal gatherings are disrupted and violence is employed to insult dignitaries. This is not tolerable,'' Khatami was quoted as saying.

Vice President Mohammad Ali Abtahi told The Associated Press Friday that the attack on Mirdamadi was part of the hard-liners' campaign for the upcoming parliamentary elections.

Parliamentary Speaker Mahdi Karroubi told an open session of the Parliament on Sunday that five vigilantes have been detained for beating Mirdamadi. Karroubi, whose speech was broadcast live on Tehran radio, gave no further details.

Students, meanwhile, gathered for the annual Student Day, which marks the 1953 deaths of three students protesting a visit to Iran of then-U.S. Vice President Richard Nixon.

''Twenty-five years after the revolution, freedom is our biggest demand,'' Zanjani told the rally, prompting chants of ''death to dictatorship'' from the audience.

Dozens of hard-line vigilantes gathered outside Tehran University, but police and security forces kept them from entering the campus.

Iran is gripped by a power struggle between conservatives, who regard themselves as defenders of the 1979 Islamic revolution, and reformists, who wish to relax the religious constraints and create a freer society.

In June, student-led protests against the ruling establishment were effectively halted by attacks from hard-line vigilantes. The attackers were never charged, but instead about 4,000 protesters, some of them students, were jailed and gradually released later.
3 posted on 12/08/2003 12:15:56 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
Iran's Mullahs 25 years of infamy resume getting larger

Iran News
Dec 8, 2003, 03:19

The Arab League welcomed Iran

Remember you heard it right here, this is the day Iranians have become Arabs with years of hard working of Mullahs in Iran. You may have to add today's event to Mullahs 25 years of infamy resume.

The Arab League welcomed the prospect of non-Arab nations Iran joining the organization as observers.

"We welcome Iran's requests" to join the Arab League as observers, Secretary General Amr Mussa told reporters at Cairo airport before leaving for the United States.

Mussa said the league received similar requests "from neighboring countries and countries from Latin America," adding that these requests "are currently studied as part of changes concerning the restructuring of the league."

Iran's deputy foreign minister for Middle East and North African affairs, Mohammad Sobhani, "presented the request that Iran become an observer at the Arab League during his meeting with Amr Mussa on November 13," an Iranian paper reported Monday.

Established in 1945, the 22-member Arab League is based in Cairo.
4 posted on 12/08/2003 12:17:36 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn


December 7, 2003 -- IT was bound to happen: a virtual Middle East peace accord in a world of virtual reality.
The so-called Geneva Accord, signed last week by Yossi Beilin, a former Israeli justice minister, and Yasser Abd-Rabbo, a former aide to Yasser Arafat, has met with a mixture of childlike enthusiasm by some and wizened cynicism by others.

Jimmy Carter has rushed to endorse the accord with one of his trademark Colgate smiles. The accord has also won some me-tooist support from a Kofi Annan looking for a side-stool for his United Nations. Colin Powell has been tempted into entertaining the architects of the accord at a tea-and-sympathy session.

Norway, which regards itself as a "soft superpower," has called for a summit in Italy this week to support the accord.

At the other end of the spectrum, the accord (part of a corpus of texts thicker than Tolstoy's "War and Peace") has attracted derision and/or anger from the Sharonistas inside and outside Israel.

Little attention, however, has been paid to the reactions that the accord has provoked among Israel's Arab neighbors, especially the Palestinians.

A day after the champagne and caviar ceremony in Geneva, thousands of Palestinians marched in Gaza to denounce what they saw as a "sell-out" by Abd-Rabbo. A more official condemnation came from the Palestinian Dar al-Fatwa (House of Edicts) which declared the accord to be "haraam" (forbidden) and a violation of "the sacred principles of Islamic justice."

Arafat, who still pulls most of the strings on the Palestinian side, has responded with one of his classic "yes-but-no-maybe-perhaps-not-we-shall-see" equivocations. Other Arab political reaction has been dismissive or hostile.

The pan-Arab daily Asharq Al-Awsat branded the accord "a fruit of illusions." Arab News welcomed it as a means of weakening Ariel Sharon's hold on power. Egypt's state-owned media lashed out at the "betrayal" of the "right of return" to Israel for an estimated 5.5 million Palestinians.

Syria's state-owned media adopted a similar position. But they also saw the accord as a sign of Israel's weakening resolve. The newspaper Tishrin, the ruling Ba'ath Party's mouthpiece, claims that the accord shows that the Intifada is forcing the "Zionist enemy" to look for a way out of its "quagmire."

The Lebanese media, always looking over their shoulder to Damascus, have come out with much the same analysis. They see a "growing mood of desperation" in Israel and insist that the continuation of the Intifada will eventually break the Jewish state. Readers are reminded of what is presented as Hezbollah's "historic victory" to drive Israel out of southern Lebanon during Ehud Barak's premiership.

In Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf states, mosque preachers have denounced the accord as "a conspiracy to end the Intifada." One typical theme in these sermons is that just as Britain was obliged to hand Hong Kong over to China after 100 years, the Jews will end up returning the whole of Palestine to the Arabs.

The Geneva episode may conjure a couple of Nobel prizes for those involved. But anyone with a closer understanding of the conflict would know that such moves, far from contributing to peace, may render peacemaking more difficult.

There are several reasons for this:

* The architects of the Geneva Accord assume that making peace is a diplomatic and technical, rather than a political, issue: They assume it is enough to have "a good plan" and some technical ingenuity to end a conflict, even though it may lack the political support base without which no peace is possible. This technocratic method excludes the people from decision-making on the grounds that lesser mortals lack the know-how to handle "complex problems."

* The accord tries to circumvent states and other political institutions that are ultimately responsible for its implementation. The Geneva method assumes that Israel and the Palestinians are two tribes at war with no parliament and no government structures through which peace can be negotiated. The task is thus devolved to self-appointed whitebeards. This diminishes the status of both sides and assumes equivalence between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

* The accord presents complex issues as simple irritants that could be sorted out over a cup of tea. It is no accident that the document devotes more space to sharing "the electromagnetic space" between Israel and a hypothetical Palestinian state than to the issue of how many Palestinians can settle in Israel.

Much of the Geneva Accord is based on the Oslo deal, which brought 10 years of bloodshed in which more Palestinians and Israelis have died than in the preceding five decades. It also includes the offers that Arafat rejected at Wye River, Camp David and, finally, Taba.

The "wise men" of Geneva may not have realized it, but by ignoring normal political institutions - especially elected organs of decision-making - they may have bestowed some legitimacy on those who want the future of Palestine to be decided by unelected militants and suicide-bombers. After all, if Beilin and Abd-Rabbo can sign an accord, there is no reason why militant Jewish settlers and Hamas suicide-bombers should not have the right to tear up any accord.

By launching a sideshow, the Geneva crowd provide a ready excuse to keep the so-called "roadmap for peace" on the backburner for as long as possible.

The Geneva Accord is a solution in search of a problem that is never defined. There could be no serious peacemaking unless at least three conditions are met.

* There should be a genuine will on both sides to end the conflict. This may have been the case a decade ago, but is not so at present. A great deal of confidence building and a reasonable period of calm are needed before a will to peace can manifest itself once again.

* Palestine should cease to be a cause celebre for Arab despots, return-ticket Western revolutionaries and Nobel Prize hunters. The less those guys meddle in this conflict, the greater will be the chance of bringing it to an end.

For decades, Arab despots and Western leftists have presented Palestine as a cause to die for - meaning, of course, that Palestinians and Israelis should do the dying. Peace will become possible only when Palestine becomes a cause to live for, with the Palestinians and Israelis doing the living.

* There can be no genuine peace between any two neighbors unless both are democracies.

Some may object to this by pointing out that Egypt and Jordan - which no one could accuse of being democracies - have signed peace treaties with Israel. But have Egypt and Jordan really made peace with Israel? You can find the answer by simply delving into the Egyptian and Jordanian media for a day or two. Others may claim that Israel is not a democracy either. Well, assuming that is the case, all the more reason why no real peace is possible at present.

Unable to think seriously, the architects of the Geneva Accord and their cheering fans have ended up creating a framework of fantasy that disposes of the need for thinking.
5 posted on 12/08/2003 12:21:02 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: Pan_Yans Wife; fat city; freedom44; Tamsey; Grampa Dave; PhiKapMom; McGavin999; Hinoki Cypress; ...

6 posted on 12/08/2003 12:22:03 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
Iran ready to form Afghanistan's national army

Monday, December 08, 2003 - ©2003

IRANMANIA, Dec 7 -- According to Iran's State News Agency (IRNA) the Deputy Foreign Minister for Asia and Pacific affairs Mohsen Aminzadeh conferred with Afghanistan's First Vice President and Defense Minister Marshal Mohammad Fahim Khan on matters of mutual interest.

In the meeting, Aminzadeh reiterated Iran's support for the stability and sovereignty of the Afghan government and said that Iran has had an active part in the construction of Herat-Dougharoun road, the grand Milak bridge, study on railway project, development of scientific and educational cooperation and joint customs projects.

Stressing Iran's active participation in the reconstruction process of its neighboring country, he noted that once the required budget is provided, some of the projects will soon get underway. The official also declared Iran's readiness to assist in the formation of a national army and training the police.

Aminzadeh hoped that the Loya Jirga and the new constitution will soon be finalized in the country, similar to the other positive developments, to promote its political sovereignty and economic progress.

For his part, Fahim Khan thanked Iran for its close cooperation with the Afghan government and nation in line with new developments in the country. Turning to the developments in Afghanistan within the past two years as positive and expressing optimism about the future of the country, he felt assured that Afghanistan's allies will continue their support for the country's progress, promotion of its sovereignty and maintenance of its security.
7 posted on 12/08/2003 12:24:05 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
Iran impatient with alien forces

IRIB English News
Dec 8th 2003

Tehran, - Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hamid-Reza Asefi here Sunday condemned presence of extraterritorial forces in the Caspian Sea and stressed that the security of the region should be provided by the littoral states themselves.

Talking to foreign and domestic reporters, he said according to an agreement reached among five Caspian littoral states, military presence of any foreign power in the region is unacceptable.

Inviting extraterritorial forces to the Caspian region is against the consensus made by the littoral states, he said adding that such a move will damage the regional stability and will make the situation more complicated.

As to the visit to the region by the US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Asefi said the visit is in line with the US warmongering policy.

On Geneva initiative, proposed by some Palestinian groups and the Zionist regime, he said as long as the cabinet of Ariel Sharon is in power in the occupied Palestinian territory, any kind of peace plan will not succeed.

Referring to the 12th working meeting of the Caspian Sea littoral states to be held in Tehran from December 9-10, Asefi said the meeting will review negotiations on the Caspian legal convention.

The regional oil and gas, shipping, fisheries, environment, determination of marine borders and security issues will be among various topics to be discussed by the participants in the Caspian working meeting, the foreign ministry spokesman added.

Asked when Iran is going to sign the additional protocol to the non-proliferation treaty (NPT), he said Tehran has announced its readiness for cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

As to the case of the Iranian national Keyvan Tabesh, murdered by the Canadian police in Vancouver in July this year, Asefi said a delegation has been appointed by the Islamic Human Rights Commission to probe the case.

He further regretted that the Canadian officials have not been cooperative in the investigation into the case.

Turning to claims that the culprits behind the Istanbul explosions have fled via Iran, he stressed that the Iranian forces have full control over the borders.

If any document is provided by the Turkish officials in this respect, they will be studied carefully.
8 posted on 12/08/2003 12:35:53 AM PST by F14 Pilot
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To: DoctorZIn
Iran's nuke threat: Taking a page from N. Korea's playbook

By Christopher W. Holton
Special to World
Sunday, December 7, 2003

Some in the West, particularly in the European Union, view the United Nation’s IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) censure of Iran for concealing details of its nuclear program as a great victory for diplomacy.

Unfortunately, nothing in the IAEA statement truly holds Iran accountable for its actions and the prevailing attitude surrounding Iran’s nuclear ambitions could lead the world down the same slippery slope that led to North Korea building nuclear weapons while the free world hoped for the best.

At issue in Iran is whether or not the radical Islamist theocracy desires to obtain nuclear weapons. Iran, along with some members of the United Nations, claims that its nuclear program is strictly for the purpose of providing an alternative energy source. Today, the Ayatollahs claim that nuclear weapons are even against their religious beliefs.

Unfortunately, there are years of historical evidence that Iran’s nuclear program is in fact a weapons program.

Almost ten years ago, citing sources within Mossad, Israel’s intelligence agency, respected New York Times columnist William Safire reported that hundreds of Russian scientists were in Iran building nuclear reactors and that since Iran sits on a sea of cheap oil, its only reason for building a nuclear reactor was to produce plutonium for bombs.

The Iranians, of course, denied this charge.

In January 1994, the Clinton administration’s Undersecretary of State for International Security, Lynn Davis, told USA Today that “Iran’s actions leave little doubt that Tehran is intent upon developing nuclear weapons capabilities.” Davis went on to say that “Iran’s nuclear acquisitions are inconsistent with any rational civil nuclear program.”

In the wake of such statements and under increasing pressure from America and its allies, Iran claimed that its nuclear program was entirely peaceful and they insisted that they had no desire to have nuclear weapons.

True intentions revealed?
However, if one digs deep enough, one finds more sinister motives — out in the open for all to see. Probably no one has done a better job of digging than Kenneth R. Timmerman who, in 1995, wrote Iran’s Nuclear Program: Myth and Reality, which was published by the Middle East Data Project. He found four alarming statements by two Iranian leaders and two other world leaders with regard to nuclear weaponry — statements that leave little doubt as to the Iranians’ true intentions.

In February 1987, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khameini uttered these words in a speech before his country’s Atomic Energy Organization:

“Regarding atomic energy, we need it now. Our nation has always been threatened from the outside. The least we can do to face this danger is to let our enemies know that we can defend ourselves. Therefore, every step you take here is in defense of your country and your revolution. With this in mind, you should work hard and at great speed.”

That certainly doesn’t sound as if the Ayatollah wants nuclear power to air condition his mosque!

An even more overt statement came a year later. In a broadcast over Tehran radio in October 1988, the speaker of the Iranian parliament, Hashemi Rafsanjani, made this chilling declaration that called for the development of weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons:

“We should fully equip ourselves both in the offensive and defensive use of chemical, bacteriological and radiological weapons.”

It was only after Iran’s nuclear program began to grow and the Iranians began to secure the assistance of Russia and China that denials about belligerent intentions started popping up. But there is no getting around the fact that the scope and size of Iran’s nuclear program is way beyond what one would reasonably expect from an oil-rich nation. Between 1988 and 1995, Iran started construction on no fewer than 15 nuclear facilities. That is the kind of active program that one would expect from a country in a severe energy crisis — or one that is hell-bent on having nuclear weapons.

A lot more evidence of Iranian nuclear intentions surfaced during the 1990s. German and French security officials reported that, from 1992 to 1995, they foiled several attempts by Iranian intelligence agents to purchase equipment needed to create an atomic bomb. But perhaps the clearest evidence spilled out in January 1995 in a nuclear deal signed between Iran and Russia. After the U.S. strongly protested the agreement, Russian President Boris Yeltsin acknowledged that the agreement did in fact contain a military “component” and he announced that he was voiding that portion:

“But it is true that the contract does contain components of civilian and military nuclear energy. Now we have agreed to separate those two. In as much as they relate to the military component and the potential for creating weapons grade fuel and other matters — the centrifuge, the construction of shafts — we have decided to exclude those aspects from the contract.”

Such statements make Iranian claims that they do not desire to have nuclear weapons appear to be bald-faced lies. One cannot help but wonder what would have happened had the U.S. not pressured Russia on the agreement. Would Iran already have a bomb?

There is even more evidence. Ukrainian President Leonid Kucha was quoted as saying that Iran was seeking help from his nation to build nuclear weapons:

“We need oil from Iran because Russia is strangling us. We have no intention of responding to the repeated request by the Iranians to share with them know-how on nuclear weapons, or to sell them any equipment in this field.”

President Kucha made it sound as if Iran was almost desperate in its efforts to build nuclear weaponry.

Lest you believe that this is Bush administration “neo-con” scare mongering, the threat posed by Iran’s nuclear program was recognized long ago by members of the Clinton executive branch. Way back in 1994, the head of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, John Hollum, predicted that Iran would have an atomic bomb in ten years — in other words, 2004. And an authoritative report by the Monterey Institute of International Studies written in 1995 quoted unnamed U.S. and Israeli intelligence officials as saying that they believed Iran would be nuclear-armed in a ten year time frame — in other words, 2005.

Either way, we are getting perilously close.

Perhaps that is why the Iranians are now going to great lengths to conceal the true nature of their nuclear program, perhaps so that they can avoid a confrontation with the West before they have a nuclear bomb.

The Iranians seem to be using the playbook that North Korea successfully used to become a nuclear power. First the Iranians feign cooperation, then they prevaricate. They insist that their nuclear program is entirely peaceful, then claim to reserve the sovereign right to do as they wish with nuclear power. One day we may wake up and the Ayatollahs in Iran will suddenly announce that they have The Bomb.

An Iran armed with nuclear weaponry would pose a unique combination of problems for the U.S. and even our erstwhile allies in Europe. Unlike North Korea, Iran is not an isolated remnant of a dead political ideology. On the contrary, Iran is at the forefront of the dangerous, expansionist Islamist political movement that has brought terrorism to peaceful and freedom-loving nations around the globe. Moreover, unlike North Korea, Iran is heavily involved in world commerce due to its large oil reserves, meaning that Iran has a separate weapon to wield to intimidate the West. Furthermore, Iran has a robust ballistic missile program, thanks in large part to North Korean assistance. Already Iran can threaten the entire Middle East with its arsenal and some experts believe that their missiles may soon be able to target all of western Europe.

All of this seems disturbingly similar to the ingredients that went into the recipe that allowed North Korea to join the nuclear club — except that Iran is much more formidable in other ways.

But nothing should worry us as much as Iran’s longstanding ties to militant Islamist terrorist groups. Not only has Iran sponsored murderous organizations such as Hezbollah, but there is a growing body of evidence that points to growing ties and cooperation with Al Qaida.

Skeptical observers liked to point out that Saddam Hussein was supposedly a natural enemy of the Islamists who would be foolish to share any weapons of mass destruction capability with them. What will those same skeptics say about the radical Ayatollahs who rule Iran? If their regime becomes threatened from outside or within, will they hesitate to bestow their arsenal on the terrorists that they have been sponsoring for decades? What will prevent them from doing so? Their love of their fellow man?!

If they do arm their terrorist armies with their terrible weapons, our options will be non-existent. Then it will likely be too late.

Christopher Holton is the Editor of and serves on the World Tribune Board of Advisers. He has been writing about national security, defense issues and economics for more than a dozen years. He is a full-time direct response marketing consultant and lives in New Orleans with his wife and five children. He can be reached at
9 posted on 12/08/2003 12:36:25 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
This news is good for the President and for that reason alone is not going to be reported by the america hating media.
10 posted on 12/08/2003 1:59:09 AM PST by OldFriend (DEMS INHABIT A PARALLEL UNIVERSE)
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To: DoctorZIn
Three Western tourists kidnapped in Iran

Mon 8 December

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Three Western tourists have been kidnapped in southeastern Iran, an Interior Ministry spokesman says.

He declined to give details of the circumstances of the kidnapping or the nationalities of those involved. He told Reuters on Monday the tourists were kidnapped in the Sistan-Baluchestan province close to Iran's borders with Pakistan and Afghanistan.

A spokeswoman for the German Foreign Ministry in Berlin said it was possible an unspecified number of Germans had been kidnapped but declined to provide further details.

"There are indications that Germans are possibly involved. I cannot add anything else," she said. "The foreign ministry has set up a crisis team."

Sistan-Baluchestan province is a major smuggling route used by well-armed drug runners moving heroin from Afghanistan to western Europe.

Kidnapping of Westerners is extremely rare in Iran, which has been trying to promote itself as a tourist destination in recent years.

Earlier on Monday, diplomats and government sources said at least two Westerners had been kidnapped.
11 posted on 12/08/2003 5:11:59 AM PST by F14 Pilot
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To: DoctorZIn
Iran Says It Will Sign Nuclear Protocol
Associated Press Writer

TEHRAN, Iran (AP)--Iran insisted Sunday that it remained committed to an agreement allowing unfettered inspection of its nuclear facilities but gave no date for when it will sign the deal, despite mounting Western pressure.

Mohamed ElBaradei, director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said last week he expected Iran to sign a protocol to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty ``shortly.''

A Western diplomat in Vienna, where the IAEA is based, suggested Tehran was stalling, and said the United States and other countries were impatient ``for Iran to keep its promises and sign.''

``From our point of view, it's definite. We have announced to the IAEA that we have agreed to sign,'' Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi told reporters at a weekly press conference.

Asefi refused to set a date for Iran's signature but said the government was studying the matter.

``The matter is now under study at the Cabinet. After the initial signature and finalization of the issue, it will be handed over to the Parliament,'' the spokesman said.

Under Iran's constitution, any international agreements have to be approved by Parliament and ratified by a hard-line constitutional watchdog, the Guardian Council.

Iran agreed last month to open suspect nuclear sites that had been off-limits and to let inspectors from the IAEA, the U.N. nuclear agency, to conduct unannounced checks to insure the country is not trying to develop atomic weaponry, as alleged by Washington.

The 35-member board of the Vienna-based IAEA last month adopted a resolution that censured Iran for 18 years of secrecy of its nuclear program and warned it to stay in line with international efforts to ensure the country has no nuclear weapons ambitions.

The resolution did not confront Iran with a direct threat of U.N. Security Council sanctions as Washington wanted, but it warned Tehran that the IAEA would consider additional action if ``further serious Iranian failures'' were found.

Iran insists that its atomic energy program is peaceful and geared only toward energy production.

Under international pressure, Iran suspended uranium enrichment Nov. 9, but Asefi insisted that the decision was voluntary and temporary. He said enrichment would be renewed to create fuel for power plants, saying ``Iran won't give up its legitimate rights for (the) peaceful use of nuclear energy.''

The United States has been pushing the IAEA to force Iran to permanently halt uranium enrichment.
12 posted on 12/08/2003 5:35:25 AM PST by Pan_Yans Wife ("Your joy is your sorrow unmasked." --- GIBRAN)
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To: F14 Pilot
Western tourists kidnapped in Iran
Mon 8 December, 2003 12:58

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Armed drug runners have kidnapped one Irish and two German tourists on a cycling trip in southeast Iran and demanded five million euros (3.5 million pounds) for their release, Iranian government sources have told Reuters.

The sources, who declined to be named, said the kidnapping took place last week in Sistan-Baluchestan province close to Iran's borders with Pakistan and Afghanistan.

"They were travelling on bicycles on the road between (the cities of) Bam and Zahedan when the smugglers kidnapped them," one of the sources said on Monday.

The sources declined to say what efforts were being made for the hostages' release.

Irish embassy officials in Tehran could not immediately be reached for comment.

A spokeswoman for the German Foreign Ministry said it was possible an unspecified number of Germans had been kidnapped but declined to give further details.

"There are indications that Germans are possibly involved. I cannot add anything else," she said. "The foreign ministry has set up a crisis team."

Sistan-Baluchestan province is a major smuggling route used by well-armed drug runners moving opium from Afghanistan to western Europe.

Kidnapping of Westerners is rare in Iran, which has been trying to promote itself as a tourist destination in recent years.

There was a spate of kidnappings in southern Iran in 1999 when drug traffickers seized 10 Europeans in three separate incidents.

All the hostages were eventually freed unharmed and three of the convicted kidnappers were executed at public hangings in 2001.
13 posted on 12/08/2003 6:32:29 AM PST by Pan_Yans Wife ("Your joy is your sorrow unmasked." --- GIBRAN)
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To: Pan_Yans Wife
Stern words for Iran

President Bush scored a diplomatic success when the board of the International Atomic Energy Agency presented Iran with a forceful ultimatum to end its quest for nuclear weapons. The board recently adopted a resolution that condemns Iran's past failure to comply with the requirements of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and warns against "further serious Iranian failures."
The resolution represents, in effect, one last chance for Iran to demonstrate that it is not trying to develop nuclear weapons in violation of its international treaty obligations. In its final form, it was far tougher than the version originally proposed by Britain, France and Germany. That draft reflected promises made by foreign ministers from the three European governments to Tehran in October when they obtained an Iranian promise to acknowledge past breaches of the treaty and to cooperate with international inspectors. In exchange, the three promised they would block any effort by the United States to hale Iran before the United Nations Security Council to face possible economic sanctions.

But Washington -- playing bad cop to Europe's good cop -- continued to demand that Iran be held accountable for its past breaches of international law. The compromise makes it clear that any future evidence of cheating by Iran will most likely be referred to the Security Council. Mohamed ElBaradei, the head of the IAEA, said the board had sent "a serious and ominous message that failures in the future will not be tolerated."

Matters could come to a head as early as March, when the IAEA board next meets. A senior U.S. official told the Financial Times of London that Iran continues to conceal nuclear weapons activity. "The Europeans will be embarrassed because disclosures will come out that Iran has not admitted to everything," he said.

The key issue for the future of the Iranian nuclear program is whether Iran will carry out its promise to renew its suspended program for enrichment of uranium. Washington and the European governments agree that the enrichment program would enable Iran to easily manufacture fuel for nuclear weapons, and want Iran to give it up. Iran appears to be undecided between giving away the enrichment option in exchange for some benefit and running the risk that it can restart the program and escape sanctions. Iran has now been clearly warned about the risks of the latter strategy.
14 posted on 12/08/2003 6:34:17 AM PST by Pan_Yans Wife ("Your joy is your sorrow unmasked." --- GIBRAN)
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To: DoctorZIn
15 posted on 12/08/2003 6:48:56 AM PST by windchime
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To: DoctorZIn
Oil-rich Iran Faces Shortages at Petrol Pumps

December 08, 2003
Bahrain Tribune

TEHRAN -- With fuel consumption up and the government unwilling to run the risk of cutting its hefty subsidies at the forecourt, Iran is facing the prospect of serious petrol shortages in the coming months.

In recent weeks, several provincial cities — notably Karaj and Qazvin to the west of Tehran — have seen petrol pumps run dry and motorists experiencing waits of several hours in order to fill up.

Iran may be Opec’s number two exporter, but its skyrocketing local consumption as well as the smuggling of subsidised fuel across to Afghanistan and Pakistan is rapidly eating away at local supplies.

Recent official figures put petrol consumption at 57 million litres per day, a 13 percent increase on last year. Iran’s refineries, however, can only put out 38.5 million litres a day, meaning the remainder is imported at an annual cost to the government of $1.5 billion.

Overall subsidies costs the government an estimated $3.5 billion a year, a hefty chunk out of the national budget. The problem is the low cost of a litre of petrol here: at just 650 rials ($0.08), it is among the cheapest in the region.

For the government, each litre sold leaves it $0.16 out of pocket.

It also makes an attractive commodity to smuggle to neighbouring countries where fuel costs between 10 and 13 times more. Iranian fuel can be found in markets in Turkey, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The volume of the trafficking is unclear, but the government Iran newspaper reported last week that after one smuggling ring was busted in the northeastern province of Khorassan, consumption there halved to one million litres a day.

In addition, more cars are hitting Iran’s already gridlocked streets, worsening urban congestion and therefore consumption. This year, three quarters of a million new cars are expected to hit the streets.

Experts say some 1.5 million of the 4.4 million cars on Iran’s roads are at least two decades old, and the average consumption for 100 kilometers travelled is around 13 litres, against 6-7 litres in the West.

Building a viable public transport system is seen as one, albeit costly, way out of the fix.

“If we don’t quickly develop a public transport system, next year we will be obliged to import 24 to 25 million litres a day. But we don’t have the budget or the technical capacity to bring in such a quantity,” explained Deputy Oil Minister Mohammad Aghaie.

Another option reportedly under consideration by a newly-formed government commission tasked with getting its head around the problem is supplying a certain amount of fuel at subsidised prices — for exampled 120 litres per month — and the rest at cost price.

But a significant price rise, analysts say, would bring with it a very real risk of urban unrest.

“Low petrol prices are seen by most Iranians as their natural right, and inflation hitting other basic commodities is already eating away at their spending power,” one local economist explained.

“If prices go up significantly, the regime will have a real crisis on its hands.”
16 posted on 12/08/2003 8:18:52 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
Japan Must Balance Nuke Worries, Oil Needs on Iran

December 08, 2003
Elaine Lies

TOKYO -- Trade Minister Shoichi Nakagawa said on Monday that Japan must balance its oil needs against concerns over Iran's nuclear programme in talks to develop Iran's Azadegan oilfield, but he sidestepped the issue of whether a deadline had been set for a decision.

''We need to ensure our oil supply, but as the only country that has suffered from an atomic bombing, we cannot be unconcerned about nuclear weapons,'' Nakagawa told Reuters in an interview. ''We must balance these in handling this issue.''

An Iranian official said on November 29 that Tehran was weeks away from setting a deadline in bids for the $2 billion investment race for the southern part of Azadegan, one of the world's largest untapped oilfields.

A government-backed private Japanese consortium had exclusive rights to negotiate an agreement but backed off under U.S. pressure linked to concerns over the nuclear programme and lost its rights in June.

A source close to the negotiations was quoted by the Financial Times on Monday as saying that Iran was putting pressure on the consortium to decide by December 15.

''If there has been some kind of timing set, I believe a decision will have to be made in line with that,'' Nakagawa said, when asked about the report.

''But we are not aware if that (December 15) is final or not.'' Resource-poor Japan has been caught between its desire to develop the oilfield and pressure from the United States, its main security ally, to back off.

Both Japanese and Iranian officials said last month that the Japanese consortium was still in the running for the project.

The board of the U.N. nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), strongly condemned Iran last month for an 18-year cover-up of sensitive nuclear research, including activities which could point to a weapons programme. Iran flatly denies any intention to build nuclear arms.

Iran stressed on Sunday that it was committed to signing an international agreement binding it to snap inspections of its nuclear facilities.

''We need to guarantee an oil supply, but must also see whether Iran will respond positively, in line with IAEA rules, over this issue,'' Nakagawa said. ''Both of these are prerequisites for making a decision.''
17 posted on 12/08/2003 8:19:51 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
One-year Suspended Sentence Passed on Journalist Emadoldin Baghi

December 08, 2003
Reporters Without Borders

Reporters Without Borders today voiced outrage at the suspended sentence of one year in prison which the sixth revolutionary court of Tehran has passed on journalist Emadoldin Baghi without making public its reasons.

At the same time, the organisation also called on the Iranian courts to give assurances as to the state of health of Iradj Jamshidi, the editor of the economic daily Asia, of whom there has been no word since his arrest on 6 July and incarceration in Evin prison.

Baghi, who worked for Neshat, a daily closed down by the authorities, was tried on 9 November, but the sentence was announced only yesterday. It could be changed to an actual prison sentence at any time during the next five years.

This threat is clearly an attempt to silence Baghi, who often writes about violations of freedom of expression in Iran for the reformist dailies Shargh and Yas-e-no.

"I was unable to defend myself in this travesty of a trial which last only a few minutes, and I was barely able to speak," Baghi told Reporters Without Borders. "What kind of trial is it where there is neither lawyer nor judge, or where the judge is prosecutor at the same time and where the defendant is not even told of the charges against him ?"

In his book, "The Tragedy of Democracy in Iran," Baghi accused the Iranian authorities of being involved in a series of murders of intellectuals and journalists in 1998. He has already been imprisoned because of his articles in the reformist press. In his most recent previous trial, on 23 October 2000, he was given a three-year prison sentence for "threatening national security" and "disseminating false news."

After his release on 6 February of this year, Baghi was repeatedly harassed by the judicial authorities, summoned frequently to appear in court and banned from leaving the country. The harassment stepped up after last month's visit to Tehran by Ambeyi Ligabo, special rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression for the UN Commission on Human Rights.

Reporters Without Borders is very concerned about the fate of the 11 journalists currently in prison in Iran. In addition to Jamshidi, they include they include three journalists who were arrested at the same time on 14 June : Taghi Rahmani of Omid-é-Zangan, Reza Alijani, the editor of Iran-é-Farda (who is a Reporters Without Borders-Fondation de France laureate), and Hoda Saber, managing editor of Iran-é-Farda.

Rahmani's wife, Narges Mohammadi, told Reporters Without Borders : "The last family visit for the three journalists was on 30 October. Since then, for the past 32 days, neither their lawyers nor their families have received any news of them. We still don't know what they are charged with. They have not yet been brought to trial. That means that they have been in preventive detention.
18 posted on 12/08/2003 8:21:06 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
Fresh Blood in the Theocracy! Is He Next?

December 08, 2003
Der Spiegel
Dieter Bednarz

In the nuclear poker game with the West, a third faction is exerting its influence in the power struggle between the right and the reformers: the pragmatic conservatives. In advance of the parliamentary elections, there is growing disappointment in the reformers surrounding President Mohammed Khatami.

Two souls reside in the heart of Mohammed Jawad Laridjani. As a scientist, the mathematician is considered one of the leading intellects of the Islamic Republic.
At the research institute for theoretical physics and mathematics founded by Laridjani, in the upper-class north of Teheran, directly adjacent to the sumptuous Niawaran Palace of the deposed Shah, the young Einsteins of the Islamic Republic brood over nanostructures, supersymmetry and quantum gravitation. "We are a sort of Iranian Max-Planck Institute," says its director, referring to the high standards of his research facility.

But striving to achieve greater scientific knowledge is not the only objective of the 53-year-old Laridjani. He is one of the most important spokesman and leaders of the powerful conservatives, who reject a Western party model. Anyone who intends to make something of himself in Iran's center of power finds it difficult to circumvent this clever doctor with the revolutionary resume.

Acceptance by the religious establishment is an indispensable condition of professional success in the mullah state, and something for which Laridjani has his family to thank. As the son of a grand ayatollah, there has never been any doubt as to his religious conviction. Laridjani demonstrated his revolutionary fervor during the protests against the Shah in Teheran in the late 1970s. He still talks about his "youthful sins" on the barricades, behavior that led to his arrest by the secret service on two occasions.

Unlike many of his compatriots, who never ventured far from Iran's religious schools and lecture halls, Laridjani never shied away from contact with the "Great Satan," the United States. In fact, he even wrote some of his research papers in sunny California. The doctor has nothing but praise for the open atmosphere and standards of the University of California at Berkeley.

It is precisely this cocktail of religious fervor, revolutionary experience and practical worldliness that has transformed this man with the carefully trimmed sideburns into the leader of a faction that sees itself as a third force in the power struggle between defiant revolutionary fanatics and dynamic reformers. He is a true "conservative pragmatist." This political strategist believes that his new movement "is pumping new blood into the right wing."

As a sort of "spin doctor" for the mullahs, Laridjani eagerly pursues one goal above all others: the overwhelming defeat of the reformers surrounding President Mohammed Khatami in the spring of 2004. Laridjani, confident of his coming victory, enthusiastically predicts a "completely new era" for the theocracy.

Although the mathematician's predictions of a victorious outcome for his party may be somewhat rash, the importance of the election for the country's future is undisputed. The liberal newspaper Nasim-e Sabah (Morning Breeze) has even referred to the parliamentary elections as "the most important event since the 1979 Islamic Revolution."

In fact, Iran's roughly 40 million eligible voters will face a momentous decision: Will they give the liberal forces that currently prevail in parliament a second chance? Or will they help the conservatives surrounding religious leader Ayatollah Ali Khameni stage a comeback? Finally, will they even turn out to vote in an election already overshadowed by allegations of manipulation?

For Laridjani, however, there is more at stake than an election to the seventh Iranian parliament, or Majlis: This doctor dressed in expensive clothing is attempting to achieve a fundamental reorientation of politics, and is doing so successfully.

Laridjani's coolly calculating clique already appears to have made one of its most spectacular political chess plays: the announced signing of the supplementary protocol to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty. The agreement, the outcome of months of negotiations with the West, would guarantee that the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency would be allowed to conduct inspections everywhere and at all times to determine whether the mullahs, in spite of their many denials to the contrary, are indeed developing nuclear weapons.

Unlike the religious hard-liners, who would be all too pleased to see Iran become a nuclear power, if only to use its Shahab rockets to thumb its nose at hated rival and nuclear power Israel, the Iranian neocons have dispensed with ideological ballast. According to their leader Laridjani, Teheran's actions must instead "be shaped exclusively by the question of what is good for Iran." In Laridjani's view, reaching a compromise with Europe and, more importantly, with the world's only remaining superpower, the United States, is a far better solution than confrontation.

Laridjani and his supporters no longer wish to demonize America, but instead view it as a potential partner. The doctor proposes joint efforts to fight terrorism as an initial attempt at cooperation. For someone like Osama bin Laden and his Al Qaeda organization, the pragmatists no longer wish to be a part of Washington's "Axis of Evil." And with regard to the nuclear conflict, Laridjani has even expressed the unthinkable: "If the United States does build the reactors for us after all, then they can inspect them themselves."

The pragmatist is also calling for decisive action in terms of economic policy. He believes in a consistent campaign to privatize the country's state-owned businesses, which still control a large share of its crumbling industry, and in downsizing Iran's rampantly growing bureaucratic government infrastructure and making it more efficient.

In a bid to win voters, Laridjani rails against the "Mafia-like structures" within the religious foundations, which control large portions of the economy. "We will create greater competency," says Laridjani in his wide-ranging election slogan. This is why the pragmatists are more interested in qualifications than ideology when selecting their candidates, a strategy designed to win over the younger generation, which sees itself cheated out of opportunities by stubborn mullahs. After all, every third Iranian is unemployed, and each year the job market is flooded with well over 100,000 new university graduates.

Even the promising spark of economic opportunity offered by tourism has threatened to be extinguished ever since the terrorist attacks of September 11th threw their shadow over Teheran. The great Royal Square of Isfahan, once a must-see for every tourist visiting Iran and, with its arcades, one of the most outstanding examples of Safawidic architecture, is virtually unvisited today. "In the past I sold merchandise for more than 150 dollars a day," complains rug merchant Parvis, lamenting the absence of Westerners. Today he can be happy to make that much money in two weeks.

This is why an economic recovery is more important to many people than the dreams of the liberals. They think like Ali, who spends his days lifting weights and smoking a water pipe in Teheran's Lale district. "I don't care about politics," he says, "I just want employment opportunities." If he could make something of himself professionally, Ali would no longer have to spend his evenings hanging around with his four friends - all between 20 and 30 -, and could finally afford to start looking for a wife.

The pragmatists are unlikely to push for domestic policy reforms. Like the ultra-radicals, the moderate conservatives reject any form of Westernization. The concept of "liberalism" is taboo in their party, and Laridjani has no interest in talking about "reform," a word he believes is too aggressive and demanding. His goal is to achieve an "evolution" of Iranian society, one in which "all changes will be implemented with the necessary caution."

The pragmatists are also performing a balancing act between fundamentalism and future in terms of human rights. Of course, they have no interest in a rewriting of the Sharia, or Islamic law. For this reason, they will not abolish the punishment of stoning, for example. However, Laridjani believes that suspending such sentences is the right step, partly to alleviate pressure from the West.

The prophet waves away the impatience among large parts of the population like the smoke of his cigars. He advises "not to take so seriously" the student protests for freedom of expression and democracy. In his opinion, these "children" want everything to happen far too quickly and have no understanding of the "national interests of Iran." He believes that this is already evident in their demands, demands shaped by foreign influences. "Modernity," says Laridjani, "may not be imported."

In spite of their reservations about reform, the pragmatists speculate that they will win at least 50 additional seats in the Iranian parliament, and have not ruled out the possibility of gaining a majority. The strategist is confident that Iranians will not allow themselves to be taken in by the empty promises of the reformers a second time around. Nonetheless, the reformers have held a strong majority in the Majlis since the 2000 parliamentary elections, with about two-thirds of its 290 seats.

According to Laridjani, the ultra-conservatives, who are firmly in control of the judicial system and state security forces, have done their utmost to prevent any liberalization. Liberal publications have been shut down, critics of the regime have been arrested, and leading intellectuals who presented too vigorous a challenge to the mullah state have been murdered. The virtually omnipotent religious leader Khameni and his arch-conservative Guardian Council, a sort of religious constitutional court, have blocked any form of political opposition.

One can only surmise the level of resignation among the former pioneers of reform when a professional optimist such as Shirin Ebadi, a Teheran attorney and winner of this year's Nobel Peace Prize, is clearly averse to discussing politics. However, Khatami's former front-woman claims to have retained her "hope" that reforms will come soon.

The president's brother is showing the heavy strain of going into elections under the banner of progress. Reza Khatami, a member of parliament, drops wearily into his chair, and the chairman of the Iran Islamic Participation Front sounds unconvincing when he talks about the future of his movement. The bastion of the free thinkers consists of 130 members of parliament, for now.

Reza Khatami makes no effort to dispute the allegation that the reformers have disappointed their supporters: "We know that young people, in particular, are not happy with us," and he knows that many are so frustrated that they simply refuse to vote. However, low voter turnout would spell a bitter defeat for his party, as was the case in February's communal elections.

Khatami almost defiantly points out that his Participation Front has 5,000 members and 250 offices throughout the country, and that they will mobilize votes during the final months. However, the party chief declines to say exactly what it is he will use to attract voters. After all, the ultra-conservatives have successfully crushed all of their initiatives, such as their efforts to liberalize the country's press law.

However, the reformist wing refuses to admit defeat, even though the conservatives have not shied away from manipulating the election. Member of parliament Khatami complains that many of his party's most promising candidates were simply not approved by the Guardian Council: "They are trying to cut off our heads."

It already begins to sound like an obituary for his movement when the chairman of the Participation Front talks about the "historical achievements of the reformers. "The engine of progress," the party chief assures, can no longer be stopped, and he firmly believes that his brother, the president, deserves at least part of the credit. He also believes in his people's desire for freedom: "People will force the conservatives to permit reforms," and will do so peacefully, he hopes.

In any event, Reza Khatami has called upon his fellow reformers to remain calm: "Reformers, like a clever cat, must balance themselves on a narrow ledge between anarchy and dictatorship." And would his opponent Laridjani be the wolf in sheep's clothing? Khatami feels that the comparison goes a bit too far. But then the reformer smiles and says that while the pragmatic doctor in his office up in the foothills of the Albors Mountains may not be a wolf, he is certainly a clever fox.

The leader of the right has long since begun looking beyond the parliamentary elections. Laridjani also intends to win the presidential elections in 2005, when President Khatami, written off by the voters and apparently deeply depressed himself, will be constitutionally barred from running for a third term.

The aspiring officeholders are still maintaining a low profile, at least officially. Ever since his success in helping bring about the nuclear compromise, Teheran's chief negotiator, Hassan Rohani, is said to have begun forming his own political ambitions. According to Mohammed Roghaniha, editor-in-chief of the liberal newspaper Iran Daily, "perhaps someone from Rafsanjani's camp will throw his hat in the ring." Former President Ali Akbar Rafsanjani, as head of the negotiating committee, still exerts considerable influence.

And chief pragmatist Laridjani? After already having represented Teheran in the Majlis twice as more of a revolutionary fanatic, he too appears to be driven to a higher office. The doctor is said to be quietly preparing his campaign for the presidency, and with Faustian zeal.


Translated by Christopher Sultan,1518,273448,00.html
19 posted on 12/08/2003 8:23:22 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn


Unrest in the city of Saravan, situated near the Pakistan border in the Sistan and Baloochistan province continue, five days after police shot dead a young motorist And despite curfew, according to Balooch sources both inside and outside Iran.

Though officials admitted to the killing of four people in clashes between the angry population and Law Enforcement and Revolutionary Guards forces, but other Baloochi sources say the number of dead is "much, much more".

"The police shot and killed a motorist who refused to obey an order to stop. After this incident, people started to protest and there were clashes between residents and the police", Mr. Ja’far Kambouzia, a representative of Zahedan, the Province’s Capital city at the Majles said earlier, cited by the independent Iranian student news agency ISNA.

"Unfortunately, despite the appeals to the police by local authorities for moderation in restoring calm, some of (the police) intervened and there were four deaths from gunfire", he said, adding that the protestors had destroyed "public property" and that following the clashes security forces had descended on the area in force.

According to other sources in the region, disturbances continued in the following days with residents challenging the security forces, making more dead and wounded among the civilians, who clashed with the police and the basij militia, shouting slogans against the regime and its leaders, but most particularly Ayatollah Ali Khameneh’i.

A Balooch journalist in Canada put the number of dead at 40, adding that hospital in the small city and others, as far as Zahdan, were "filled with injured people, most of them by bullets". "The city is under curfew, but protests continue", he said, quoting local sources.

Like most Iranian border regions with the exception of the Republic of Azerbaijan in the northwest, the population IN Sistan and Baloochistan are predominantly Sunni Muslims staunchly opposed to the Shi’a that is the Iranian official religion.

Unlike other religious minorities that are officially recognised, with the exception of the Baha’is who are banned, not recognized and severely repressed, the Sunnis have no status and contrary to the authorities who claims that as Muslims, they have equal rights with the Shi’a, they are also repressed, their mosques and schools shut and their preachers suffering limitations.

20 posted on 12/08/2003 8:41:00 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn


Hundreds of Iranian students celebrated the national Student Day on Sunday, calling for freedom of speech and the release of political prisoners.

Because the authorities had refused authorisation to organise demonstrations outside the universities and even in the open campuses, the students held their meetings inside auditoriums, preventing basiji students, the islamist vigilante who are on the payroll of the ruling conservatives from disturbing them, as they had done previously with Mrs. Shirin Ebadi, the Nobel Peace laureate for 2003.

The annual Student Day marks the death of three students during a protest at Tehran University against former U.S. President Richard Nixon's visit to in 1970.

This year’s commemoration was named "Half a century of struggle against despotism".

Students have been at the forefront of protests against the Islamic Republic's clerical establishment in recent years, and a pillar of the surprise and landslide victory of Hojjatoleslam Mohammad Khatami in both the May 1997 and his re-election in 2001.

But as Mr Khatami got closer to the ruling conservatives and the reformers who, thanks to the youngster’s votes, won the majority of the seats at the present Majles, or the Iranian Parliament, the students became more and more disillusioned.

For the second strait year, Mr. Khatami failed to show up at the ceremonies, bringing the divorce between him and the official reformists who support him to the point of no return, political analysts pointed out, as he offered a deft ear to the plight of hundreds of students arrested on orders from the Judiciary.

Under tight police security, protesters inside the Tehran University campus on Sunday carried pictures of their jailed classmates.

Eyewitnesses told Iran Press Service that police stopped thugs of the conservatives-controlled Ansar Hezbollah in plainclothes to attack students, but also prevented journalists and photographers to enter the universities.

"Also a lot of people tried hard to come to the University to check if anything would happen, something like the nightly demonstrations that took place last months when students, joined by local residents, would demonstrate against the regime, but were stopped by security forces", one Iranian journalist at the scene reported.

In protest to both Khatami and the reformists failing to stand firm to the conservatives stopping the application of the promised political, social and economic reforms, the Office for Consolidating Unity (OCU), the nation’s biggest student movement, withdrew its influential political support for Khatami and his allies.

According to political analysts, the bulk of the students would either refrain from voting in the forthcoming Majles elections, due next February, or if they do, they would not vote for the reformists, who faces a defeat similar of the one they suffered in the last February cities and villages elections.

''Reformists used our votes as a political tool and in return we got broken promises. They forgot us", Matin Meshkini, a student leader, told the British news agency "Reuters".

''Khatami and his allies will not receive our support due to Khatami's failure to use the opportunities to push the reforms ahead'', Meshkini said.

As the inside doors meetings and speeches ended, hundreds of students rallied outside universities doors, some chanting overt anti-regime slogans such as chanting slogans such as "Hashemi, Hashemi, Iran will not become Chili", referring to both Ayatollahs Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and Mahmood Hashemi Shahroodi, respectively hard line Heads of the Expediency Council and the Judiciary, or "Canons, Tanks, Basiji" would have no effects".

The students also denounced the attitude of the leader-controlled Radio and Television, shouting "The Voice and Visage of Larijani must be shut", referring to the openly biased policy adopted by Mr. Ali Larijani, the Head of the State-controlled public media, a former revolutionary guard who is also an adviser to the leader of the regime, Ayatollah Ali Khameneh’i.

In speeches at various universities, students denounced the violence of the pressure groups, including the so-called basiji students inside the universities, the regime’s injustices by dividing the society in the "khodi and na khodi" (those who are with the minority but ruling conservatives and the rest of the population), generalised corruption at the highest level of the theocratic system, free elections outside the control of the leader-controlled Council of the Guardians.

They also denounced the brutal behaviour of the authorities during the July 1999 students upraising that left several students killed and wounded and the arrest of hundred others on direct order of Mr. Khameneh’i and the approbation of Mr. Khatami.

21 posted on 12/08/2003 8:42:56 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
Iran judge backs father in Belgian custody case

Mon 8 December, 2003 09:43

TEHRAN (Reuters) - An Iranian judge has cleared of any wrongdoing the father of two girls who have taken refuge in the Belgian embassy in Iran and want to return to their mother in Belgium, a newspaper reports.

Belgium has issued an international warrant for the arrest of Shahab Salami on charges of kidnapping for failing to return the girls to their mother after taking them on holiday to Greece in August.

Yasmine Pourhashemi, 15, and her six-year-old sister Sara went to the Belgium embassy in Tehran by taxi last Tuesday after eluding their father, who took them to Iran and stayed in the country after the holiday.

But the parents' divorce and the mother's custody rights granted by a Belgian court are not recognised in Iran. Nor does Iran recognise dual nationality.

"Iran's law does not consider either of the parents a kidnapper for taking the children even without informing the other one," criminal court judge Mohammad Erfan was quoted by the Etemad daily on Monday as saying.

Belgian Foreign Minister Louis Michel said last Wednesday he had ordered the embassy to keep the girls until their case was resolved.

But the judge said the only solution would be to hand the girls back to their father.

He said that if the mother of the two girls had any complaints about custody of the girls she should pursue the case through the Iranian courts.

But the mother Zarah, who lives in the eastern Belgian city of Liege, has expressed concerns about travelling to Iran since, under Iranian law, she would then need her husband's permission to leave Iran.

The father told the Etemad newspaper he wanted the girls to remain in Iran.

"My daughters are Iranian and I have their custody and I want them here," he said.

Foreign ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi told a news conference on Sunday that Iranian and Belgium officials were discussing ways to find a solution to the problem.

"This is a legal, emotional and family matter and should not be politicised," he said.
22 posted on 12/08/2003 8:44:53 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: Pan_Yans Wife
Iranian Laureate Praised in Oslo as Key to Reform
Mon December 8, 2003

(Reuters) - Norwegian politicians joined Iranian reformists in hailing Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi on her arrival in Oslo Monday to pick up the award, urging the world to open its eyes to human rights violations by Tehran.
Members of the Norwegian parliament said giving the 2003 prize to the Iranian lawyer for her work to promote children's and women's rights would help reinvigorate reformists in Iran, who under President Mohammad Khatami have struggled to overcome stiff resistance to change from powerful hardline clerics.

Ebadi was Iran's first female judge before the 1979 Islamic revolution forced her to step aside in favor of men and will be the first Muslim woman to win the prestigious award when she collects the $1.4 million prize at a ceremony Wednesday.

"The time has come to put some real pressure on the regime of Iran," Morten Hoglund of Norway's opposition Progress Party told a news conference.

"We need to help and support Shirin Ebadi in her struggle in the very difficult situation that she is in," Lars Rise of the ruling Christian People's Party told the news conference, hosted by the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), an exiled Iranian opposition group. "She is a great hero."

Ebadi, wearing no headscarf in unseasonally mild Oslo weather with temperatures just below freezing, smiled and waved to reporters at the Oslo airport, but did not make any comment before driving off in a black stretch limousine.

Perviz Khazai, Nordic representative of the NCRI, which is listed by Washington as a terrorist group, called for urgent international action in Iran and a referendum on power as a first step to wider democracy.

"There has never been a fair election in Iran. It has always been a choice between pest and cholera," Khazai said, accusing Khatami of showing a democratic face to the Western world while running a fundamentalist regime of lies and torture.

Ebadi, known for taking on legal cases no one else dares touch, has become a symbol of the fight for greater democracy and freedom in Iran, while conservative hard-liners label her a political stooge of the West.;jsessionid=TFKRJEAOC2JGYCRBAE0CFFA?type=worldNews&storyID=3956262
23 posted on 12/08/2003 10:42:23 AM PST by Pan_Yans Wife ("Your joy is your sorrow unmasked." --- GIBRAN)
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To: DoctorZIn
I wrote a letter to the editors of this publication about the following article. A copy of my letter follows this post. -- DoctorZIn

Next Stop, Iran?

Don't these people ever learn?
by Alistair Millar

Is Iran next? Hasn't George Bush got enough to worry about in Iraq? Costs are escalating, troops are dying. Iraqi civilians are still deprived of their most basic needs, and the U.N. is relegated to the sidelines. Senior military officials and experts from both parties are increasingly vocal in their criticism of the administration. According to Ronald Reagan's secretary of the Navy, the invasion and occupation of Iraq "is one of the most ill-advised and reckless actions that the U.S. government has ever taken."

Nonetheless, hawks in the Bush administration are undaunted. They have waited for years to execute their strategy to "secure the realm" and reshape the Middle East. For them Iraq is just the first act.

Echoing charges that were used to justify the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has openly said he supports a policy of regime change in Tehran, saying that Iran is harboring al Qaeda members and developing nuclear weapons. At the same time the administration is limiting its diplomatic options by shutting down its back-channel communication with senior Iranian officials. U.S. officials are reported to have met on May 27 to discuss possible efforts to overthrow the government in Tehran.

America has had enough trouble building international political, financial, and military support for the war on—and occupation of—Iraq. A campaign against Iran will further isolate America. Even the U.K. government—which supports engagement with Iranian reformers and whose public is still extremely skeptical of claims that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction sufficient to justify war—has said they will not support a U.S.-led campaign against Iran.

The conservative magazine The Weekly Standard has opined that we must now "take the fight to Iran." The Project for the New American Century, which boasts its affiliation with many key administration officials, wrote an open letter to Bush just after 9-11. The letter strongly urged the president to pursue a "war on terror," invade Afghanistan, alienate Yasir Arafat, attack Iraq, and target Iran. While it does not seem politically, militarily, or economically feasible now, Tehran is still on the to-do list and may well be next if Bush is re-elected.

This sends the worst possible message to Iranians and will ruin the prospects for internal reform. Pro-reformists in Iran have been clear that if the Americans are belligerent, it will help the conservatives to rally the Iranian people behind them. It may encourage Iran to learn from the Iraqi regime's fate and take a cue from North Korea: Your only option for survival is to build a bomb as soon as you can. As David Albright, a former International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspector and president of the Institute for Science and International Security, said in September: "You can end up driving Iran into a corner and causing it to embark on a crash nuclear program out of fear."

THERE IS NO doubt that uncertainties about Iran's nuclear program are a cause for concern. Iran is not being fully transparent about all of its nuclear activities and has not complied with previous IAEA requests to freeze its uranium enrichment program. The IAEA has just passed a unanimous resolution calling on Iran to provide a "full declaration" of its nuclear program, to open all nuclear sites for inspection, and to agree to environmental testing in advance of an IAEA meeting scheduled for November. There is a real danger that Iran could decide to drop out of a dialogue with the multilateral atomic agency and respond negatively to pressure generated by neocons from the United States.

To prevent that from happening, U.S. policy should take a more nuanced approach with Iran. America must reduce risks and ensure that several key objectives are met. U.S. policy must prevent weapons proliferation, increase cooperation in the campaign against terrorism, and encourage Iran's evolution toward a more democratic society. Iran is presently caught in an internal tug-of-war between a pro-reform, democratically elected government and a conservative, anti-American clergy that wields significant political power. The United States should design its policies in ways that strengthen the hand of reform constituencies and take a regional approach toward the disarmament of weapons of mass destruction across the Middle East.

Steps toward engagement should be taken and linked to reciprocal gestures of cooperation from Iran, such as acceptance of the IAEA resolution and concrete steps toward implementation of U.N. counterterrorism mandates. Over the past 20 years, incentives have been used to successfully encourage other emergent and existing nuclear weapons powers to forswear the bomb, making the world a much safer place. Increased dialogue and cooperation with Iran will increase understanding on both sides and create a basis for a gradual improvement in political relations and enhanced security on both sides. We don't have to look far to see how the option of regime change by force is working.

Alistair Millar is vice president and director of the Washington, D.C., office of the Fourth Freedom Forum, an independent research organization that works on global security issues.
24 posted on 12/08/2003 1:11:03 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
Letter to the Editor:

The author of your recent article on Iran is uninformed, misinformed or deliberately attempting to mislead your readers.

I could write an entire article on the many problems in his report but please permit me to briefly focus on why Christians should support regime change in Iran.

Your author made the statement, "Iran is presently caught in an internal tug-of-war between a pro-reform, democratically elected government and a conservative, anti-American clergy that wields significant political power."

What he fails to tell your readers is in fact it is no longer a tug of war between two groups. The vast majority of Iranians do not support either the so-called reformist or conservative movements. This can be clearly seen by any careful observer of the events in Iran. In their last election the people of Iran chose not to participate in the election (approximately 10% of potential voters participated in their last elections in Tehran).

The reason for their lack participation in the elections is due to their belief that it would only legitimize an illegitimate government. They do not have free elections. All candidates must first be vetted by the ruling hard line conservatives. So the people of Iran do not have a real choice in selecting their leaders. They want that choice.

The vast majority of Iranians want a true democracy. They are angry that thousands of their journalists and students are imprisoned for seeking real change in their government.

The Iranian government is a cruel and dangerous regime and all those who care for human rights must not stand silent as these brave men and women suffer under such a regime.

The negotiations the author of your article supports is opposed by the majority of Iranians. Instead they plead with America to halt all such negotiations and provide moral support (not military) in their struggle.

The people of Iran understand that if the world community stands with them against the regime and stops all financial support for it, it will crumble and the people may finally have an opportunity to experience the freedoms we take for granted.

We need to support these efforts not undercut them. The article you published reflects the position of the Iranian regime that is attempting to crush its opposition. Please rethink your position.

I host a small website "Americans for Regime Change in Iran." It provides all the major news on Iran on a daily basis and regularly includes statements from students inside of Iran. It is hosted on a conservative website because they support our concerns, but we attract readers from a broad spectrum of political ideologies. Join us and learn what is really going on in Iran and how you can help.
25 posted on 12/08/2003 1:13:32 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
Wonderful work, Doc!
26 posted on 12/08/2003 2:06:04 PM PST by Pan_Yans Wife ("Your joy is your sorrow unmasked." --- GIBRAN)
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To: DoctorZIn
Iraq Signs Deal To Buy Iranian Kerosene, LPG

December 08, 2003
Dow Jones Newswires
Hassan Hafidh

BAGHDAD -- Iraq has signed an agreement for Iran to supply Baghdad with thousands of metric tons of kerosene and liquefied petroleum gas to alleviate the country's severe shortages caused by sabotage and power cuts, Iraq's local newspapers reported over the weekend.

The official al-Sabah newspaper said Iraqi Oil Minister Ibrahim Bahr al-Uloum reached the agreement with Iranian officials to supply Baghdad with oil products during his visit to the country in the third week of November.

"The agreement states that Iran will supply Iraq with 10,000 tons of kerosene a month from December this year," the newspaper said, quoting an Iraqi oil official.

Tehran would also start supplying up to 12,000 tons of LPG a month to address the shortage of cooking gas, the paper added.

The LPG and kerosene that Baghdad has already paid for in cash according to international oil prices would be shipped from Iran to Iraq by sea.

Sabotage, power cuts and wear and tear of power stations and refineries have all contributed to the acute shortages of kerosene, LPG and gasoline that Iraq is now experiencing.

Long lines at Baghdad's petrol stations have again reappeared three months after Iraq's oil ministry managed to solve the problem following the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq eight months ago.

The oil ministry said production of gasoline, diesel and kerosene dropped to 20 million liters a day after the war, from 30 million liters a day before the war.

The oil ministry is also looking at importing these oil products from neighboring Kuwait, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

The paper also said officials from Iraq and Iran had discussed the possibility of Iraqi crude oil swaps with Iran of up to 700,000 barrels a day. Iraq's Basra Light crude would be sent to Iranian refineries in exchange for the Iranians supplying the same amount of its oil to buyers through its Kharq Island terminal in the Persian Gulf.

The paper didn't say when the swaps deal was likely to be agreed or implemented.

-By Hassan Hafidh, Dow Jones Newswires; +88216 218 03061;
27 posted on 12/08/2003 4:28:36 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
Solana to be Asked to Visit Iran

December 08, 2003
Andrew Beatty

BRUSSELS -- The head of EU diplomacy, Javier Solana is expected to be asked today (8 December) to travel to Iran early next year, in a bid to further the EU’s engagement with the Islamic republic.

Although discussions are ongoing, diplomatic sources have told the EUobserver that members are agreed on the need to send a "positive signal to Tehran" and are set to ask Mr Solana to make an official visit.

The move comes after last month’s announcement from the Iranian authorities to sign up to tougher inspections of its nuclear facilities, after months of negotiation.

Despite that breakthrough, EU Member states are expected to stop short of calling for the resumption of formal, political economic and trade talks, which were earlier suspended because of fears over Iran’s nuclear capabilities.

"We need to make sure we keep room for manoeuvre", said one EU source.

Europe’s capitals are keen to keep up the pressure on Iran to implement the International Atomic Energy Agency’s rules they have signed up to.
28 posted on 12/08/2003 4:29:21 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
US Renews Call for Iran to Turn Over al-Qaeda Members

December 08, 2003
Yahoo News

WASHINGTON -- The United States renewed calls for Iran to turn over al-Qaeda operatives on its territory but denied suggestions it might exchange Iraqi-based Iranian opposition figures to Tehran in return for members of Osama bin Laden's terror network.

"We believe Iran should turn over all suspected al-Qaeda operatives to the United States or to countries of origin or third countries for further interrogation and trial," State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said.

"It's essential that other countries have direct access to information these people may have about past and future al-Qaeda plans," he told reporters.

"We acknowledge that Iran has in the years past turned over some al-Qaeda to third countries, however, we're not aware of any progress with regard to al-Qaeda currently in detention, whom we suspect includes top al-Qaeda leadership," Boucher said.

His comments came in a response to questions about a weekend report that Jordan's King Abdullah II was quietly trying to broker a deal between the United States and Iran in which in Iran would surrender the al-Qaeda in exchange for US action on members of the Iranian group People's Mujahadin.

US troops in Iraq are currently interrogating members of the group, which is also known as the Mujahadin-e-Khalq and has been designated a "foreign terrorist organization" by the State Department, to determine whether to take legal action against them, Boucher said.

But he stressed that "the United States is not engaged in discussions regarding a swap of Mujahadin-e-Khalq members held by US forces in Iraq in return for al-Qaeda members held in Iran.

The Washington Post reported on Sunday that the Jordanian monarch, who was in Washington last week on a private visit, is trying to revive a dialogue between the United States and Iran in a bid to prevent further destablization in the Middle East.

Iran has acknowledged holding a number of suspected al-Qaeda militants, including top leaders, but has refused to identify them and has ruled out handing them over to the United States.

Diplomats and Arab press reports have said they include bin Laden's son, Saad, al-Qaeda's spokesman, Sulaiman Abu Gaith, and its numbers two and three, Ayman al-Zawahiri and Saif al-Adel.
29 posted on 12/08/2003 4:30:05 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
Much to do Before Extent of Iran Nuclear Program is known

December 08, 2003
Yahoo News

STOCKHOLM -- Iran has been cooperative in disclosing information about its nuclear programme but more needs to be done before there is certainty about the full scale of its activities, the head of the UN's nuclear watchdog said.

"I'm satisfied by the degree of cooperation we have seen from Iran for six weeks or so," International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) director general Mohamed El Baradei told reporters in Stockholm on the sidelines of a conference on nuclear waste management Monday.

"But I very much hope that this will be sustained because we still have a lot of work to do," he stressed.

The IAEA two weeks ago condemned Iran for 18 years of covert nuclear activities but stopped short of bowing to US demands of hauling Tehran in front of the UN Security Council for possible sanctions.

Tehran recently agreed to sign, in the "next couple of weeks", an additional protocol to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NTP) that would authorise snap inspections of Iran's nuclear activities.

El Baradei is due to file a report in February on the full scale of Iran's nuclear activities, for which Iran has pledged to supply all information required by the IAEA.
30 posted on 12/08/2003 4:30:44 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
Ebadi in Oslo to Receive Nobel Peace Prize

December 08, 2003

OSLO -- Iranian human rights lawyer Shirin Ebadi arrived Monday in Oslo where she will officially receive the Nobel Peace Prize later this week, making her the first Muslim woman to win the prestigious award.

Ebadi, 56, who was chosen for her democracy-building efforts and her work to improve human rights in Iran, will receive the prize from chairman of the Nobel Committee Ole Mjoes at a formal ceremony on Wednesday at 1:30 pm (12:30 in Oslo's City Hall.

King Harald V of Norway, who is usually present at the ceremony, sent his excuses this time, as he was scheduled to undergo surgery for a bladder cancer on Monday.

But Queen Sonja, Crown Prince Regent Haakon Magnus, and Crown Princess Mette-Marit will attend the ceremony.

The peace prize committee's decisions are often controversial and while Ebadi enjoys wide support worldwide, the award has drawn fire from hardliners in Iran who have criticized Ebadi and even sent her death threats for what they perceive to be her Western and secular attitudes and behavior.

At the risk of enraging her critics further, Ebadi said on Sunday that she will attend Wednesday's ceremony without a headscarf, which is mandatory according to her country's laws for Iranian women even when they travel abroad.

"I will not be wearing the hejab," Ebadi told AFP in an interview. "My actions have always irritated some people, but that is not important."

"I want Iranian women to be free to wear or not to wear the hejab," she said, but added that she is just as opposed to moves in secularist France to ban the veil from schools.

Hours before her arrival in Oslo, Ebadi received support from the controversial National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) in her struggle for the rights of women, children and dissidents.

"We hope that this Nobel Peace Prize will help the human rights situation in Iran (...) in the whole Middle East and, to a certain extent, in the Islamic world," Perviz Khazai, a NCRI representative in northern Europe said at a press conference in Oslo.

The NCRI, which is the political arm of the People's Mujaheddin Organization, the largest armed movement opposed to the Iranian regime, figures on a United States list of terrorist organizations, but not on the European Union's list.

Asked whether the organization's support may actually work against Ebadi, who is already facing harsh criticism from Iran, Khazai said: "We have to do our best in order to support this move by the Norwegian Nobel Committee because it is a historical chance for the Iranian people."

Khazai, who was the Iranian Ambassador to Sweden and Norway before defecting in 1982, insisted that the democratic reforms initiated by Iranian President Mohammad Khatami are only "cosmetic changes."

The Iranian regime has a "very, very peculiar interpretation of Islam," he said. "It's apartheid between men and women. It's apartheid between civilization and a medieval interpretation of Islam."

In Norway, the discussion over whether or not it is right to maintain economic ties to a country with so little respect for human rights has raged for a long time.

Christian Democrat Lars Rise, a member of the Norwegian parliamentary committee on foreign affairs, has led the attack on public oil company Statoil, which has long been active in Iran, and which has recently been accused of trying to bribe its way to landing more business in the country.

"We cannot accept that a Norwegian state oil company does business with this regime, unless Iran starts to respect human rights, minority rights, women's rights, and the rule of law," he said.

Ebadi will probably be asked to comment on these issues at a press conference at the Nobel Institute in Oslo on Tuesday.

The human rights advocate is the third Muslim and the 11th woman to get the Nobel Peace Prize.

The prize consists of a diploma, a gold medal, and a check for 10 million Swedish kronor (about 1.4 million dollars, 1.1 million euros).

At a separate ceremony in Stockholm on Wednesday, the winners of the Literature, Medicine, Physics, Chemistry and Economics prizes will receive their awards from King Carl XVI Gustaf in Stockholm's Concert Hall.

That ceremony will be followed by a gala banquet for 1,300 guests at Stockholm's City Hall.
31 posted on 12/08/2003 4:31:30 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn

By Safa Haeri, IPS Editor

PARIS, 8 Dec. (IPS)

As the seventh legislative elections of the Islamic Republic approach, it appears that the leaders of the reformist bloc express certainty that the conservative-controlled monitoring mechanisms would reject most of the reformist candidates and this despite the majority of the reformist bloc shows more interest in taking an active part in the elections, scheduled for next February.

The announcement by the Office for the Consolidation of Unity (OCU), Iranian students largest organisation calling for changes in the present system that it would not support the reformists and has withdrawn from the front that backs the lamed President Mohammad Khatami in the next Majles elections, most political analysts express "fears" to see the reformists suffering a "crushing" defeat, similar the one they suffered in the past cities and villages councils last February.

The OCU played and instrumental role in the victory of Hojjatoleslam Khatami in the May 1997 election and his re-election four years later, as well in the victory of the reformists in the sixth Majles, but it decided to separate itself from the reformist wing of the clerical-led leadership after Mr. Khatami got closer to the conservatives, suffering an abysmal fall in the eyes of the majority of the young voters.

The divorce between the great majorities of students with both Mr. Khatami and the official reformists reached the point of non return after the President failed to show up at the ceremonies marking the national Student Day, ceremonies that were held inside closed-doors auditoriums in universities because of the authorities refusing to grant them permission to hold open meetings.

Nevertheless, the OCU has so far avoided calling upon citizens and students in particular to boycott the elections, while it is confident that the students, along with many more millions of citizens, will choose not to cast their ballots.

The leaders of the movement issued a call to hold a referendum on the future of the Islamic republic, and also Iran political organizations which in recent years have joined the ranks of the opposition (such as the Iran Democratic Front), are starting to voice their support of the boycott.

Dr. Mohammad Reza Khatami, the younger brother of the President who is the leader of the Islamic Iran Participation Front (IIPF) and vice-Speaker of the Majles, said that even though the reformists had had enough of the conservatives acts of repression, five thousand IIPF activists in 250 local offices across the country would put the difficult task of encouraging the citizens to come to the polls by the masses at the top of their concerns in the months left before the elections.

In an interview granted to the influential German news weekly "Der Spiegel", the younger Khatami said there is no stopping the momentum of the reforms, but the reformists "like a wise cat caught in a dead end" must exercise subtle manipulations in order to avoid falling into the "lap of the anarchists on the one hand, and not to become pawns in the hands of the tyrants on the other".

He asserted that most of the reformist-bloc candidates would not be able to run for the elections, as the leader-controlled Council of Guardians, the body that vets all candidates to all elections in the Islamic Republic, would screen them out.

"We have no intention to hide the fact that we, reformists, have miserably failed our supporters. We realise that the people and the millions of younger Iranians in particular are not happy with the results of our activities during the past seven years, and we also know that as a result of the gloomy atmosphere that has taken over millions of citizens, thousands of legitimate voters will choose not to exercise their franchise and will, in fact, vote with their feet", the Baztab news website that belongs to Mr. Mohsen Reza’i, the former Commander of the Revolutionary Guards and present Secretary to the conservatives-controlled Expediency Council quoted Mr. Khatami as having admitted.

For his part, Mr. Sa’id Hajjarian, considered as "the architect" of Mr. Khatami’s landslide victory in the 1997 elections warned the conservatives that their anticipated landslide victory in the coming elections would prove to be a most severe blow to the international image of the Islamic republic.

In an interview with the independent Iranian students news agency ISNA, Mr. Hajjarian, confined to a wheel chair and having difficulties speaking as a result of an assassination attempt on his life four years ago, explained that clearly, the world is aware that the elections in Iran are held under the watching eye of the conservative establishments, and thus, "should the conservatives win the elections, not a single person in the world will be able to accept the results as legitimate; therefore, any laws passed the next Majles (under conservative control) will not be acknowledged by any international bodies. As a result, the international criticism of the Islamic Republic will escalate and the Iranian relations with European countries will continue to deteriorate".

Hajjarian categorically rejected the conservative’s claim that voting is a religious and social duty that the citizens must fulfil, and said that it is "a right, not a duty".

"It is entirely up to the citizens to choose whether to exercise this right or not. The citizens must not be forced or intimidated", he observed.

Hajjarian compared the parliamentary elections to a funeral people choose to take part in and said that the body is left lying on the ground and nobody wants to bury it. He warned that if the people lose their faith in the reformists too, Iranian society might succumb to anarchy.

Hajjarian estimated that most residents of Tehran, Esfahan, Tabriz and other major cities will boycott the elections but fifty percent of the population in rural areas may come to the polls after all.

"However, there is no doubt that the outcome of the elections will be determined in the big cities, just as the uprisings in Tehran, Esfahan and Tabriz sealed the fate of the Shah’s rule during the revolution", he added.

Iran Democratic Front (IDF), led by Mr. Heshmatollah Tabarzadi, a former founder of the OCU who has been held in solitary confinement at Evin prison for the past five months, also supported the call for boycott of the elections.

"In order to convey to the ruling tyrants the clear message that the people want to see the existing regime in the garbage can of history, is necessary for the Iranian people to boycott the elections", IDF said in a recent statement on 21 November.

According to Mr. Tabarzadi, one of the first dissidents calling for national referendum aimed at changing the regime, not only President Khatami and the reformist bloc have failed to uphold their promised reforms, but "any citizen who expresses criticism of the regime is held in solitary confinement for prolonged periods of time and is denied fundamental rights, and even his family suffers from constant harassment".

Chairman of the students association at Tehran’s Amir Kabir University, Mehdi Habibi, who was recently released from prison, also expressed his confidence that the students would not take part in the elections and said that it’s not the fixed game of the elections that the people care about.

"What people are concerned with is the problems of freedom, fundamental rights and democracy", he said, adding that after the turbulent times the students movement has seen these past several years, the movement has held in-depth discussions and has come to the unequivocal conclusion that it has to distance itself from the game the two regime factions are playing.

"This is why the movement does not present candidates and does not participate in the elections in any way whatsoever", Mr. Habibi told the independent Iranian Labour news agency ILNA two weeks ago.

In his opinion, changing the regime and shifting the reigns of power from the reformists to the conservatives or the Imam’s followers and the like is not a solution for the difficult problems that plague the country.

"Only a referendum can tip the scales. A referendum is the only way we can understand whether the Iranian people want this regime to carry on or not", he added, reiterating that the Constitution must be amended.

As long as the fundamental obstacles stipulated by the constitution exist, Mr. Habibi told ILNA, "no fundamental problem would be solved"

He severely criticised the reformists, observing that to defend themselves, the reformists make a weak claim by saying that if they were not able to realise the people’s will, at least they’ve done no harm. "This claim is quite ridiculous. The Iranian people are smart enough to understand that the Majles hasn’t passed a single substantial bill", he pointed out.

Therefore, the people have come to the conclusion that since the Council of Guardians and the Expediency Council dictate the laws anyhow, there is no point in having the Majles around. Habibi, whose case in Tehran’s revolutionary court is still pending, said that students, like millions of other citizens in this country, will not take part in the elections.

"Even if the reformists held all 290 seats of the Majlis, none of the bills the majority of the people want to see approved would be passed since the Council of Guardians will never ratify the bills", another reformist Member of the Majles (MM) observed, referring to the fact that all laws passed by the Majles must be approved by the Guardians for their strict conformity with Islamic Canons.

"Common sense and logic dictate that we stay out of this game. Our call for a referendum is not only the significant issues, but the continued existence of the Islamic republic as well that must be put to question", he concluded.

The talkback columns in Tehran’s reformist newspapers are full of calls to boycott the elections. The readers say that there is no justification to bring the people to the polls once again, since the reformists, both in the parliament and in the government, have been a severe disappointment to the people and have even betrayed the people’s trust.

Reformist MM and former leader of the OCU, Hojjatoleslam Ali Akbar Mousavi-Kho’einiha has gone even further in his criticism of the forthcoming parliament elections and publicly said that the biggest problem the Islamic Republic faces is the unlimited power held by the leader (Ayatollah Ali Khameneh'i).

"Since the major branches of the regime operates under the control of a the single person of the Leader of the regime, that person stands in the way of any fundamental development and meaningful change", he noted, adding: "when the very person who stands at the pinnacle of the regime’s power opposes real change, what is the point in holding parliament elections?"

His view was confirmed by dissident Grand Ayatollah Hoseynali Montazeri, Iran’s and Shi’a Muslims senior religious authority, telling recently the Washington Post that there is no justification that a single person decides how 70 million citizens need to run their lives. "In today’s world, there is no longer room for tyrannical rule. Eventually, autocracy is bound to crumble and leave the arena "sooner or later".

In an interview granted to the editor-in-chief of the "Washington Post" who recently visited the city of Qom, considered as the "cradle of Shi’a militantism", Ayatollah Montazeri reiterated his criticism over the way the regime is run, as he has been doing for the past six years, unleashing fierce criticism at the way Ayatollah Khameneh'i rules the country.

Mr. Montazeri was placed under house arrest six years ago on orders of Mr. Khameneh'i, not tolerating the criticism had had made openly about the lavish life-style of the leader and the way he conducts the nation’s affairs, both on domestic and international fronts.

In the interview, Montazeri repeatedly stressed that the Islamic rule has forsaken the path of right and forgotten all promises made to the people during the revolution. He said that any person who expresses criticism finds himself behind bars.

"Those who hold the reigns of power even claim that there is not a single political prisoner in Iran! I ask the following, then: consider, among others, Abbas Abdi, Dr. Hashem Aqajari, Hojjatoleslam Hasan Yusefi Eshkevari. Are they criminals or murderers who need to be held in prison lastingly? The Constitution states that trials on political grounds should be transparent, held in the presence of jury while maintaining the rights of the defendants. Is this unequivocal directive being carried out in practice?", he observed.

A critic of the President’s lack of determination in face of the conservatives, Ayatollah Montazeri said the people are so exhausted and desperate that they do not want to bother themselves at all and called indirectly upon the Iranian people to stand up for their "legitimate rights".

Nevertheless, he expressed his hope that the Iranian people can overcome their despair and realise their civil, social and religious duty. He also said that we still hope that the leaders of the regime will be wise enough to come to their senses "before it is too late".

It should be noted that although the Iranian Labour News Agency (ILNA) published the complete interview, all Iranian newspapers, including those who support the reforms, preferred to ignore the interview, presumably out of fear of being closed down.

In order to dissuade people, hard liners have instructed the pressure groups they control to disrupt systematically rallies, conferences and meetings organised by the reformers, accusing them of playing in the hands of enemies of Islam and the Islamic revolution.

In a a speech given to the demonstrators in Qom, Hojjatoleslam Ahmad Panahian strongly condemned the reformists and said that those who lay claim to the throne of reforms in Iran are "nothing but pathetic individuals who will stop at nothing to get their names mentioned in the Radio Israel news edition in Persian".

As a result, the Islamic Iran Participation Front, the nation’s largest political organisation was forced to call off its election rallies.

Former Vice-President Ata’ollah Mohajerani cancelled his visit to Qom out of fear of fuelling the passions among the hardliners. The office of Naser Shirzad, the reformist deputy from the the central city of Esfahan had been ransacked and Mr. Mohsen Mirdamadi, the Chairman of the National Security and Foreign Affairs Committee at the Majles was beaten and injured in Yazd, the hometown of President Khatami.

Meanwhile, the conservative faction continues to apply significant efforts toward preparing for the elections. According to a reliable source who granted an interview to Tehran’s Baztab website, the loyalists of the revolution and the followers of Imam Khomeini are actively engaged in the formation of a broad coalition with the intention of winning most of the seats in the parliament. He says that the coalition will include 18 factions, all of which oppose Khatami’s government.


32 posted on 12/08/2003 4:35:12 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
As with Oslo and Wye, the Geneva hallucination will fail.

Terrorist Palestinians are unchanged and must first be defeated militarily.

Any "accord" acceptable to Arafat, Annan and Carter is a nonstarter.

33 posted on 12/08/2003 5:50:05 PM PST by PhilDragoo (Hitlery: das Butch von Buchenvald)
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To: DoctorZIn
Ebadi and Khazi wouldn't ever team up, would they?

The reason why I ask is it seems to me that Ebadi wants to work with the reform movement. And that causes me concern.

The baby needs to be thrown out with the bathwater, in Iran, to put it mildly.
34 posted on 12/08/2003 7:35:19 PM PST by Pan_Yans Wife ("Your joy is your sorrow unmasked." --- GIBRAN)
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To: DoctorZIn
Tourists held for ransom in Iran

Dan De Luce in Tehran and Luke Harding in Berlin
December 9, 2003
The Guardian

Three European tourists have been kidnapped in a southeastern province of Iran plagued by rampant drug smuggling, western and Iranian officials said yesterday.
Two Germans and an Irish citizen were on a cycling trip in the Sistan-Baluchistan province when they were abducted, a western official who asked not to be named told the Guardian.

"They were cycling between Bam and Zahedan [near the Pakistani border]," the official said. It appeared the kidnappers had no political motive and were seeking a large ransom for the release of the tourists, the official added. Iranian policeconfirmed the abduction to news agencies.

The hostages were apparently taken by the same bandit groups that kidnapped three Spanish and an Italian tourist in 1999. The hostages were later released unharmed. Last night an Iranian official said that the group Schiruk was demanding a €5m (£3.5m) ransom. Germany's foreign ministry yesterday confirmed that several foreigners had been kidnapped. Antje Leendertse, a foreign ministry spokeswoman, said there were no further details but the ministry had set up a special task force in the case.

Kidnapping is rare in Iran but the impoverished Baluchistan region is notorious for heavily armed drug gangs that ferry vast quantities of heroin from Pakistan and Afghan istan into Iran and on to Europe.

Tehran has struggled to contain the drug-smuggling trade, deploying thousands of military and police forces to the area. In the past eight months, 28 smugglers and 17 border guards have died in gun battles in the eastern region. In an attempt to keep the smugglers out, authorities have dug a network of trenches, concrete walls and sand barriers along the border.

During and after the US-led war in Afghanistan, members of the al-Qaida network fled to Iran and were suspected of exploiting the drug smuggling networks to move without being detected.,12858,1102905,00.html
35 posted on 12/08/2003 10:53:24 PM PST by F14 Pilot
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To: DoctorZIn
This thread is now closed.

Join Us At Today's Iranian Alert Thread – The Most Underreported Story Of The Year!

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36 posted on 12/09/2003 12:38:24 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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