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Iranian Alert -- January 15, 2004 -- IRAN LIVE THREAD --Americans for Regime Change in Iran
The Iranian Student Movement Up To The Minute Reports ^ | 1.15.2004 | DoctorZin

Posted on 01/14/2004 11:56:49 PM 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; iranquake; 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 01/14/2004 11:56:50 PM 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 01/14/2004 11:59:33 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn

Iran's protesting politicians out on a limb
By Ramin Mostaghim

TEHRAN - In an effort to ease the growing political crisis in Iran, supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Wednesday ordered the country's hardline conservative body to revise its massive blacklist banning thousands of reformists from next month's parliamentary elections, including 80 current members of parliament.

According to Iran's state television, the supreme leader said those candidates should not have been barred from running unless there was adequate proof they are not qualified. But despite Khamenei's words, members of parliament protesting the ban have refused to end their sitin.

President Mohammad Reza Khatami has urged the approximately 100 protesters - including lawmakers who joined although they are not barred from competing at the polls scheduled for February 20 - to end their sitin, held in parliament's lobby, and promised to work to reverse the ban. But by vowing to keep up their round-the-clock vigil, the protesters are turning up the heat on negotiations with the president and clerics, and fanning debate about the future of democracy in Iran. This leaves Khatami and Mehdi Karrubi, the speaker of parliament, to carry on with shuttle diplomacy.

Karrubi has accused the unelected Guardian Council of the Islamic Constitution, a 12-member panel of clerics and lawyers, of trying to rig the elections by barring reformists who favor greater openness and freedom of expression. Khatami, however, has said that the council can be persuaded to reinstate a number of disqualified candidates through negotiation rather than protest.

Khatami's own Islamic Mosharekat (Participation) Party, or IMP, has suffered the highest number of disqualifications. The IMP presently commands a majority of seats in the legislature. "Most of the over 4,000 nominees rejected by the Guardian Council of the Islamic Constitution are supporters or sympathizers of the party," said Ali Yossefi, an IMP organizer from eastern Tehran.

The protesters have said that if they are not reinstated as candidates for re-election, international pressure will be brought to bear on their behalf.

Mohsen Midamadi, an IMP politburo member and head of the party's parliamentary foreign policy committee, said he discussed the issue with European Union foreign policy and security chief Javier Solana, who wrapped up a two-day visit to the country on Tuesday.

But as the protest entered its fifth day on Thursday, observers and activists debated the action's wider significance. Sitin participants so far have failed to win popular support, especially on university campuses - a key base for the democracy movement.

"If the protest remains limited to the disqualification cases for some candidates and their agenda does not embrace all out democracy and human rights issues, the students will not support them," said Farid Moddaresi, 24, a political activist and journalist.

"The Iranian students and other walks of society are thinking of establishing an umbrella front to embrace all activists fighting for human rights and democracy, regardless of their religious belief and political tendencies," he added.

Likewise, observers from the secular opposition question the protest's long-term impact. "The sitin protest is not a genuine one and will play no role in the future development of Iran," Siavash Mokhtari told IPS. Unidentified intelligence officials strangled his father, the writer Mohammad Mokhtari, to death more than four years ago.

Members of the public also have expressed skepticism about the protests. Azamsadat Abhari, a 66-year-old woman who proudly stated that she has never voted since the 1979 revolution that brought in theocratic rule, dismissed the sitin as political theater designed to drum up public interest in the polls.

"Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, chairman of the expediency council Hashemi Rafsanjani and the speaker of the parliament [Karrubi] are pretending to be uninformed about the [Grand Council's] disqualification reasons," she said. "Once they make sure that enough people are enticed to vote, they [will] collaborate and nullify some of the disqualifications and all the hocus-pocus will vanish."

Nevertheless, reformist journalists, most of them young, plan to call on the parliamentary protesters to keep going - but also to champion the rights of citizens regardless of religion, race and political allegiance. The journalists are collecting signatures among their ranks for an open letter to the lawmakers.

"This open letter will be published in a few days and the signatories advise the disqualified candidates to forsake their personal campaigns to be requalified [for the polls] and fight for human rights and democracy," said reformist journalist Mohsen Akbari, 27.

The prospects for such a transformation appear to hinge on the majority IMP. Some see the party as too politically ambitious.

Commented Hassan Abduli, 50, a laid-off civil servant who earns a living by tutoring high school students in mathematics and physics: "In vain the IMP tries to seize the leadership of the fledgling democracy movement in Iran. Party officials are making attempts to minimize people's democratic requests and to reoccupy their seats in parliament."

Yet the IMP also has opened its doors to more radical politicians and advocates of democracy. Every night, people flock to the party's downtown headquarters to listen to speechmakers who call for expanding the reform agenda.

One of the speakers was Ahmad Qabel, a former cleric who protested the emergence of a religious ruling establishment by disrobing himself in the seminary at the holy city of Qom a decade ago. Addressing the IMP crowd, he stressed the importance of remembering that "the Iranian people have suffered in the past 25 years and their citizenship rights have been ignored by the rulers".

Ayatollah Khamenei has the final say concerning all state matters, and his intervention is expected to ease the mounting political tension. Meanwhile, the council is set to make a final ruling on the disqualifications at the end of the month. A final list of candidates is to be released in mid-February.

(Inter Press Service)
3 posted on 01/15/2004 5:22:10 AM PST by AdmSmith
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To: PhilDragoo; AdmSmith; nuconvert; Pan_Yans Wife; blackie; Pro-Bush; DoctorZIn; RaceBannon; ...
Chirac urges more ties with Iran

IRIB English News

Paris, Jan 15 - French President Jacques Chirac in a meeting with the Secretary of Iran's National Security Council Hassan Rowhani on Wednesday said, "Paris wishes to expand ties with Tehran."

Referring to the ancient Iranian civilization, President Chirac said, "Iran has its own particular attraction and Paris favors broadening the span of its ties and cooperation with your country."

The French President added, "France and the EU wish to expand and strengthen their ties with Iran in political, cultural, and economic fields."

Referring to Iran's nuclear activities, President Chirac said, "France, Germany, and England's initiative in holding talks with Iran regarding its nuclear activities, and Russia's close cooperation in that regard ended all concerns on Iran's nuclear activities, and solved a potential regional and global crisis."

Referring to the close consultations between Paris and Moscow on Iran's nuclear activities, Chirac said, "The EU is determined that the Tehran declaration needs to be fully implemented."
He added, "The foreign policy of France is based on pursuing strategies aimed at restoration of peace and stability in the Middle East and the Persian Gulf region and Iran's cooperation in that context is welcomed."

Turning to the Iraq crisis, he said, "We too, like Iran, favor giving a broader role to the United Nations in Iraq to assist the Iraqis in the establishment of a democratic political system, relying on the Iraqi nation themselves there."

On Palestine issue and the Israeli troublesome security wall there, President Chirac said, "France is fully opposed to the construction of the wall."

On the status of the French Muslims, he said, "We have not adopted an anti-Islamic stand. We have five million French Muslim citizens in our country whom we fully respect."

Iran's Secretary of Security Council, too, during the meeting at Paris' Elisee palace appreciated the French government and nation for the sympathy they have expressed with Bam quake victims, and their generous humanitarian aid on the occasion.

He said, "The newly emerged regional and international conditions have doubly necessitated broader Tehran-Paris cooperation."

Referring to Iran's cooperation with three European countries on its nuclear projects, Rowhani said, "The case was a good example for multi-lateral approaches towards peaceful international crisis solving through holding dialogue."

He added, "The Islamic Republic of Iran, by remaining fully committed towards the implementation of the articles of the Tehran declaration has proved its sincerity in dealing with the case."

Rowhani said, "Iran and the EU, can through broadening their comprehensive cooperation, move towards solving all problems that are important for both sides, including fighting against terrorism, elimination of the weapons of mass destruction from the Middle East, and the Iraq crisis."

Referring to some of the difficulties with which the Iraqi nation are currently entangled, Rowhani said, "Establishing a puppet regime in Iraq and establishment of permanent foreign military bases in that country are dangerous plans, that seriously endanger not only Iraq's but the whole region's stability and security."

Rowhani asked France and the EU to play a more decisive role in solving the Iraq crisis by insisting on giving a broader role to the United Nations there, both in restoration of peace and stability, and in assisting the Iraqis in performing the sensitive task of the establishment of new political system.
4 posted on 01/15/2004 6:40:34 AM PST by F14 Pilot (Is there any truth in that, senor?)
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To: DoctorZIn; McGavin999; freedom44; nuconvert; Eala; AdmSmith; dixiechick2000; onyx; Pro-Bush; ...
Important Developments on Iran's upcoming elections -- Pilot

Iran officials to drop resignation threat - source

15 Jan 2004

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Government officials are likely to drop their threats to resign after Iran's Supreme Leader moved to defuse a political row over parliamentary elections, a senior government source said on Thursday.

"To avoid tension in the country, those who have threatened to quit will drop their resignation threats," said the official, who was one of at least 16 members of President Mohammad Khatami's cabinet who had said this week they would step down.

The resignation threats, also made by 27 state governors, were in response to the hardline Guardian Council's decision to disqualify almost half of the 8,200 candidates hoping to run in parliamentary elections on February 20.

Most of those disqualified were reformist allies of Khatami, including more than 80 members of the 290-seat parliament.

The reformist-hardline stand-off, the worst since Khatami carried reformers to power with a shock 1997 presidential poll victory, prompted a sit-in protest by dozens of MPs and had led to some calls for the parliamentary elections to be postponed.

But Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, using his unparalleled political authority, weighed in to defuse the crisis on Wednesday, calling on the Guardian Council to review the cases of those barred from standing.

"The Guardian Council has enough time to review the cases carefully... to prevent the violation of anyone's rights," state television quoted Khamenei as saying in a meeting with members of the council.


Protesting members of parliament said it was too soon to call off their sit-in, which entered a fifth day on Thursday.

"We will continue," said Mohammad Reza Khatami, younger brother of the president and deputy speaker of parliament.

"We have to wait to see what the Guardian Council does in practice," added the MP, who was one of those disqualified from standing for the next parliament.

Analysts said the hardliners could now move to split the reformist camp, which has rallied together against the vetoes.

The Guardian Council, a 12-member body of hardline clerics and Islamic jurists under Khamenei's control, could now appear generous by reinstating most of those it had initially vetoed.

"The hardliners don't really need to compromise, but this will be their tactic," said analyst Saeed Leylaz. "Reformists will have to give in because they don't have public support."

Opinion was divided on whether the Guardian Council would allow well-know reformist firebrands such as the president's brother to stand.

The government source predicted better-known figures would be reinstated, while analyst Leylaz said hardliners would prefer to qualify less high-profile candidates and had a blacklist of about 18 top reformists who would remain barred.

At stake is control of parliament which conservatives lost to reformists in 2000 elections.

Hardliners fear reformist causes such as a free press, free speech and women's rights will undermine the system of clerical rule in place since Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution.

Reformers say they do not want to dismantle clerical rule -- only to place more emphasis on the law and citizens' rights.

But many ordinary Iranians have already lost faith in Khatami's ability to overcome conservative resistance, and the public have shown no sign of rallying to the reformists' cause.

"It's none of my business what they're up to," said Maryam, 23, a student. "It's a struggle to gain a bigger stake for themselves, it's not for the people."
5 posted on 01/15/2004 6:43:01 AM PST by F14 Pilot (Is there any truth in that, senor?)
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To: F14 Pilot
Important quotations from above article

Reformers say they do not want to dismantle clerical rule -- only to place more emphasis on the law and citizens' rights.

But many ordinary Iranians have already lost faith in Khatami's ability to overcome conservative resistance, and the public have shown no sign of rallying to the reformists' cause.

"It's none of my business what they're up to," said Maryam, 23, a student. "It's a struggle to gain a bigger stake for themselves, it's not for the people."

6 posted on 01/15/2004 6:45:38 AM PST by F14 Pilot (Is there any truth in that, senor?)
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To: F14 Pilot
"to prevent the violation of anyone's rights,"

Yeah, sure...wouldn't want to do that !
7 posted on 01/15/2004 6:52:21 AM PST by nuconvert ( "Cats are smarter than dogs. You can't get eight cats to pull a sled through snow")
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To: AdmSmith
"...trying to rig the elections..."

LoL......seemed it was okay to "rig" the elections when these reformists were voted in.....
8 posted on 01/15/2004 6:54:32 AM PST by nuconvert ( "Cats are smarter than dogs. You can't get eight cats to pull a sled through snow")
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To: F14 Pilot
Get many replies about your tagline? :)
9 posted on 01/15/2004 7:02:16 AM PST by Pan_Yans Wife (He who has never hoped can never despair.)
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To: DoctorZIn
Iran Has Yet to Agree on Nuclear Freeze with UN

January 14, 2004
Louis Charbonneau

VIENNA -- The U.N. nuclear watchdog said on Wednesday it had yet to agree with Iran on what constituted suspension of uranium enrichment activities, which Tehran has promised to freeze over charges it is covertly developing an atomic bomb.

Western diplomats have said Iran has continued to amass large amounts of uranium-enrichment centrifuge machinery, despite a promise to suspend all activities related to a technology critical for bomb-making.

On Wednesday, the United States warned Tehran to fulfill its pledges and called for a comprehensive and indefinite suspension, with the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency dictating the terms to Tehran.

The United States, which sees Iran as a source of terrorist activity, views with skepticism Tehran's insistence its nuclear program is aimed only at generating electrical energy. Diplomats say Washington, London and other capitals are viewing the "limited suspension" with concern.

The IAEA, whose inspectors have the task of verifying Tehran's statements that its nuclear program is purely peaceful, declined to comment. But an IAEA spokesman acknowledged the agency was still discussing with Iran what activities should be suspended.

"We are still in consultations about the scope of their suspension," IAEA spokesman Mark Gwozdecky said. He gave no details about where the agency and Tehran disagree.

He said the IAEA would report to the IAEA governing board about the enrichment suspension in March.

"At the request of Iran and the (IAEA) Board of Governors, we are monitoring Iran's suspension of enrichment-related activities and will report on this to the next scheduled meeting of the board," Gwozdecky said.

Enrichment is a process of purifying uranium for use in weapons or to make nuclear fuel for power plants. Experts say acquiring weapons-grade material is the biggest hurdle countries seeking to make an atomic bomb must overcome.


"Failure by Iran to live up to its promise and to adopt a comprehensive and indefinite suspension of all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities would be deeply troubling," State Department spokesman Richard Boucher told reporters in Washington.

"To begin to rebuild the international community's confidence that Iran has genuinely abandoned its nuclear weapons efforts, the scope of that suspension we believe must ... cover all sensitive aspects of the nuclear fuel cycle," he said.

Several Western diplomats said Iran made it clear that it was only suspending activities that fell under its limited definition of the term "enrichment-related" and has therefore continued acquiring enrichment centrifuge machinery.

They say it had originally been understood that the IAEA -- not Tehran -- would define the terms of the suspension. They also say Iran maintains it would only breach the accord if it actually enriched uranium, not just acquired materials.

The Western diplomats said Tehran has been interpreting the term "enrichment-related" as narrowly as possible to enable it to forge ahead with its ambitious enrichment program, which Iran says will provide low-enriched uranium for electricity- generating plants.

Uranium enrichment has been a sensitive issue in Iran ever since IAEA inspectors found traces of bomb-grade highly-enriched uranium at two sites in the country. This sparked concerns that Iran either made or imported weapons-grade material for a bomb.

Tehran insists its nuclear program is purely peaceful and says the traces were from contaminated machinery Iran purchased on the black market during the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war.

(additional reporting by Saul Hudson in Washington)
10 posted on 01/15/2004 8:18:53 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
The Appearance of Change in Iran

January 15, 2004
The Washington Post
Karl Vick

TEHRAN -- The young woman dressed in a manner forbidden by law was complaining about something she saw on a television channel that's illegal to watch.

"The stuff on Euro News," said Nesa Hamlehdar, exasperated. "They show Iranian women in chador. Boys as soldiers. Old cars."

She rolled her eyes. "This is the image the West has of us!"

In Iran, reality looks a lot more like Hamlehdar. Pausing in a fashion mall on her way home from a day of college classes, the 22-year-old language student wore tight bell-bottoms under a tunic cut not like the all-enveloping chador, which translates literally as "tent," but more like the little black cocktail dresses that now pass for outer garments in some parts of Tehran.

There was eyeliner and nail polish. And her scarf was pushed back to reveal fully half her hair -- something officially prohibited shortly after then-President Abol-Hassan Bani-Sadr in 1981 explained that women's hair emits rays that drive men insane.

"The limitations that used to be," Hamlehdar said, "do not exist now."

That basic fact of Iranian daily life signals a fundamental shift in politics. The dramatic relaxation of the theocracy's strict official dress code is but the most visible aspect of a grudging yet steady expansion of what Iranians call "personal space." The term describes the realm of purely personal liberties that extends from holding hands in public to watching satellite television without fear of a police raid.

Initially championed by reformers who also demanded political freedoms, these personal liberties are being granted by the conservative Islamic clerics who control the most powerful institutions in Iran's government. The hard-liners, who wrote the rules in the first place, now see a political advantage in allowing them to be widely ignored.

Iranians elect a new parliament in February. And years before a hard-line election oversight body caused an uproar this week by summarily banning reformist candidates by the thousands, moderates in the conservative camp plotted a subtler route to victory, one based on giving people more of what they want.

"Already, we have plenty of freedoms on the street. Nobody can curb that," said Mohammed Javad Larijani, a senior official in Iran's judiciary, which is headed and staffed by conservative appointees. "We politicians have staked our future on that freedom. We are hopeful to gain power through that freedom."

Many Iranians, while embracing the new leeway, say they recognize that the gains are meant to relieve pressure for more fundamental political freedoms, which remain closely circumscribed. While taking morals police off the streets, for example, hard-liners have also closed more than 200 newspapers.

"It's like a safety valve to prevent an explosion in society," said Shadi Kohandani, 25, an accounting student. "They want to keep everyone amused so they don't think about more important things. They're investing for the next elections."

"At least we have these -- music, clothes," agreed Nazanin Derakhshanzadeh, shopping for a new overcoat in north Tehran.

The authorities' message, she said, was clear: " 'Don't think further. Don't ask about politics.' It works, because in the old days, people didn't have freedom in choosing clothes and styles of living. People think they are getting a lot."

The changes can be subtle. A young man smoking in public during the month of Ramadan goes unchallenged. A billiard parlor opens in the holy city of Qom. And on the street, vendors who six months ago stealthily hissed "Playing cards" to passersby now hold the forbidden instruments of gambling overhead. "I sold a deck to a cleric," said a dealer in Isfahan, the country's second-largest city.

In downtown Tehran, the feared court formerly known as the Office for the Prevention of Moral Crimes is now the Social Department of the Law Enforcement Teams. On a recent Monday morning, barely 20 people were waiting in a lobby that a few years ago was brimming with parents bailing out children caught up in weekend sweeps of parties featuring bootlegged liquor or forbidden music.

"It's a total defeat for the old methods the conservatives were using," said Mohammad Reza Khatami, a leading reformist legislator and brother of Iran's elected president, Mohammad Khatami, a reformer whose six-year challenge to the clerical establishment is widely seen here as a failure. "If you leave politics and go to every other area of the country, we see that the reformists have been successful."

But as the increasingly fractured reform movement has lost public confidence, conservatives have seized the opportunity to soften their reputation as being intolerant. An adviser to Iran's supreme leader said the new tolerance reflected the eclipse of cultural hard-liners who favored "mechanical methods" for encouraging piety.

"In an Islamic society, selling wines is forbidden, but if somebody is drinking wine in his house, the question is, do we enter the house to arrest him or not?" said the adviser, Amir Mohebian, editor of the conservative newspaper Resalat. "I think the system should apply only to the public sphere, not to the house. If somebody goes from the way of God in his house, that is a problem between him and God."

Mohebian called it "a kind of minimalistic idea of ruling an Islamic system."

Many others contend that the clerics had no choice. The intrusion of morals police into private life played a major role in the landslide election of Khatami as president in 1997 by an electorate largely too young to remember the 1979 Islamic revolution. Today, about 60 percent of the Iranian population is younger than 20, and the voting age is 16.

"They really didn't expect that the girls would put on such tight manteaux," said Shima Kohandii, 20, the accounting student's sister. She used the French word for "cloaks" that, in Tehran today, takes in any outer covering, no matter how slinky. "Suddenly, they're confronted with this."

The change is far from wholesale. The full black chador remains common in much of this country of 70 million, especially in working-class and rural areas. But in fashion-conscious neighborhoods, women venture out confidently in bright colors that show off their figures and wear scarves tugged barely to the top of the head, sometimes with hair cascading down the back.

"Please see to your hijab," reads the sticker on the door of Bossini, the boutique where Bahareh Akhavan, 21, works as a sales clerk. The accompanying graphic suggests a nun's habit. Yet Akhavan arrived in a cloak so tight the buttons strained.

"Most of the people who have beautiful bodies want to put these on," she explained. "Some intentionally go on a diet so they can wear tight clothes. I do that myself."

Iranian women report paying close attention to Fashion TV, a staple of the black-market satellite television common in the Iranian households that can afford it. Nominally outlawed, the dishes are now rarely hidden.

"They can't stop it. How are they supposed to stop it? They don't want to make fools of themselves," said Amir Tajrishi, a clerk in a software store where most of the video games are sold to young men who saw them advertised on satellite.

The new leniency also extends to romance. With morals police no longer on the streets, young couples hold hands in public even while passing Friday prayers in downtown Tehran.

"It has become common behavior," said Amirabbas Sari Aslani, 25, who had tucked his girlfriend's hand inside his jacket pocket on a chilly afternoon. "People need to show this behavior."

Some show more. Scandalized Tehran residents exchange reports of discovering couples necking in public parks -- widely considered outrageous behavior. Cohabitation before marriage is no longer rare, university students and others say.

In a nation that next year marks a quarter-century under clerical rule, deciding for yourself what can be worn in public is a new experience for many young women.

"Well, we put it on, we step outside. If you're bothered, it seems you've guessed wrong," said Mahdis Zare, 21.

"What I find," said Mahsa Nouruzi, 19, "is that the way people look at me determines whether I am crossing a line."

And by Western standards, those lines remain almost Victorian. Pausing in a Tehran mall, Hamlehdar, whose name translates to "woman attacking," gave a little shudder showing how much forearm she dared to show last summer.

"This is enough for us," Hamlehdar said. "We don't want anything special. We just want to live our lives. We're not involved in politics."
11 posted on 01/15/2004 8:20:40 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
Screen Actors Guild announces nominees

AP Entertainment Writer

Besides Depp, Dinklage and Penn, the lead actor contenders were Bill Murray for "Lost in Translation" and Ben Kingsley for "House of Sand and Fog."
12 posted on 01/15/2004 8:28:56 AM PST by freedom44
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To: DoctorZIn
The Twisting Maze of Iranian Politics

January 14, 2004


Tensions between Iran's unelected traditionalist and elected modernist clerics have again risen, following the Guardians Council's disqualification of thousands of candidates from the February parliamentary elections. This crisis underscores a structural problem within the Iranian political system. The struggle between the two camps represents an evolution in Shiite political thought and could have widespread ramifications for Iran in its domestic and foreign affairs.


On Jan. 12, Iran's Guardians Council, a powerful oversight body of conservative clerics, rejected 44.2 percent -- 3,605 of 8,157 -- of the candidates intending to run in the Feb. 20 parliamentary elections. This has split the Iranian leadership between the modernist camp, led by President Mohammed Khatami, and the traditionalists, led by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. Those who openly have opposed the rejection include Khatami and most of his Cabinet, Parliamentary Speaker Mehdi Karroubi, numerous Parliamentary members and governors of several provinces. The crisis has reached the point that Khatami and his Cabinet are threatening resignation if the decision is not rescinded. Meanwhile, the leaders of the two camps have urged all Iranians to be patient. Khamenei has called for his loyalists to allow resolution through the country's legal system. Khatami has urged for his to let dialogue resolve the issue. The final resolution could pave the way for a balance-of-power shift in Iran.

Clearly, neither camp wants the political system to implode, but neither wants to be marginalized either. This power play is intertwined with their respective ideologies, which point to the fault line built into the Iranian political structure.

Iran's Islamist government is a peculiar and complex fusion between modern Shiite theocracy and Western parliamentary democracy. Iran's Shiite clergy has historically been close to the corridors of power even when not directly ruling. Its financial independence from the state and influence over the educational and legal systems since the 19th century gradually facilitated its rise to power. While the ulema (religious scholars) were in the process of positioning themselves in Iran, the country was undergoing a constitutionalist movement (1905- 1911) that sought to check the powers of the monarchy.

It was not until the late 1960s -- when the founder of Islamist Iran Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini (1902-1989) led a movement against the then-monarch Muhammad Reza Shah Pahlavi -- that the Iranian ulema began to seek a more direct governing role. In a series of lectures, Khomeini argued that a true Islamic government is led by those knowledgeable about Islam, i.e. the clerics. These lectures were published in 1971 in book a book entitled Velayat-e-Faqih: Hukomat-i-Islami (State of the Jurist: Islamic Government).

Velayat-e-Faqih literally means state/government rule of the jurists. It is in essence a modern Shiite political system. But Khomeini was not the sole creator of the notion of Velayat-e- Faqih.

Shiites have always believed that Allah ordained that the Prophet Muhammad would be succeeded by divinely appointed imams who were his blood descendants. According to this belief, there were 12 such infallible imams:

Ali bin Abi Talib (660-661)
Hasan bin Ali (625-670)
Hussein bin Ali (626-680)
Ali Zayn al-Abideen (658-713)
Muhammad al-Baqir (677-733)
Jafar al-Sadiq (702-765)
Musa Al-Kadhim (746-799)
Ali al-Rida (765-818)
Muhammad al-Jawwad (811-835)
Ali Al-Hadi (827-868)
Hasan Al-Askaree (846-874)
Muhammad al-Mahdi (869-)

The 12th and last imam, Muhammad al-Mahdi, is believed to have absented himself from the physical plane in ghaybat-i-sughra (lesser occultation) around the year 874. Seventy years after this lesser occultation, Shiites believe al-Mahdi went into a state of ghaybat al-kubrah (greater occultation) -- a deeper hidden state.

Due to the last imam's long absence, Shiite scholarship faced a lack of Islamic leadership, and a need for a wider interpretation of everyday issues in the light of Islamic law. This era also was also marked by debates between the 'akhbari' and 'usuli' schools of thought of Shiite scholarship. The former took the literal understanding of the divine texts (Koran & Sunnah) while the latter opted for a more general and broader understanding of them.

The eventual victory of the usuli position over that of the ikhbari within Shiite Islam came about around the middle of the 18th century under the leadership of Aqa Baqir Bihbihani (1706- 91), who paved the way for the formation of the concepts of Velayat-e Faqih (jurist's government) and Marjaa-i-Taqleed (locus of mass following). Both concepts were the result of further ijtihad (the juristic process of deriving rules for new situations from the Koran and Sunnah) on the Shiite doctrine of the divinely appointed Imamah. It was Mullah Ahmad Naraqi (1771- 1829), a student of Bihbihani, who actually formulated the theory of the jurist's government. The basis of Velayat-e Faqih is the appointment of a deputy of the imam who could administer certain aspects of governance until the imam returned. This deputy had to be a mujtahid (the scholar qualified to perform ijtihad) but a marjaa-i-taqleed (a senior mujtahid who has reached the level that he is to be emulated by laypeople). In the 20th century, it became fashionable to refer to such an individual as ayatollah (sign of Allah).

Ayatollah Khomeini and his allied clerics, in an effort to implement the Velayat-e-Faqih, heavily borrowed from parliamentary democratic theory. In the past 25 years, this system has evolved into a complex arrangement of elected and unelected clerics.

The Iranian electorate directly elects the president, who can serve up to two consecutive four-year terms. Theoretically, he is the second-highest ranking official and appoints his Cabinet.

Every four years, Iranians also elect the 290 members of the unicameral Majlis, or Parliament. This legislative body also has the power to summon and impeach ministers and presidents. However, the Guardians Council must give its approval to all legislative activity.

Iranians directly elect the 86 clerics in the Assembly of Experts, which appoints its Supreme Leader, oversees his performance and removes him if he is unable to execute his duties. The Guardians Council also screens the candidates who run for the assembly.

The Guardians Council is the most influential branch of the Iranian government. It comprises 12 clerics who serve six-year terms: Six are theologians appointed by the supreme leader and six are jurists nominated by the judiciary and approved by the Majlis The terms are on a phased basis -- half the council's membership changes every three years. The Guardians Council ensures that all legislative activity conforms to Islam. It also vets all candidates to parliament, the presidency and the Assembly of Experts.

At the apex of this system sits the supreme leader who, in addition to the six Guardians Council members, appoints the head of the judiciary, the commanders of all the armed forces, the Friday prayer leaders and the heads of radio and TV. He also confirms the election of the president.

The Expediency Council advises the supreme seader and is the final arbiter in legislative disputes between the parliament and the Guardians Council. The Supreme Leader appoints this council's members, who are prominent religious, social and political figures.

The Iranian judiciary defines legal policy, guarantees that Islamic law is enforced, and nominates six members to the Guardians Council.

Tensions arise in this maze of elected, quasi-elected and appointed figures between those whose power base is popular support and those who claim the divine as their power base. Both sides are driven by ideological and material interests and both sides invoke Islam when arguing their respective positions.

The modernist clerics and their nonclerical supporters want to reduce the power of the unelected clerics who overrule decisions of the executive and legislative branches. Conversely, traditionalist clerics say that the ulema are the only ones who can ensure that rulers act in accordance with Islam. A significant portion of the electorate sees clerics as incapable of political leadership.

What appears to be a fight over the meaning of an Islamic democracy is also about the political interests of the two groups. The clerics, who have enjoyed power for a quarter of a century, now believe they will be marginalized should the modernist camp emerge triumphant. Nonclerical aspirants to power cannot attain it if they do not measure up to Guardians Council standards.

Judging from previous crises, this current snarl will be overcome in some form of a compromise, but what that will entail is not apparent at this stage. However, the balance of power in the Iranian political system will shift in favor of one camp or the other.
13 posted on 01/15/2004 8:32:04 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
Bringing Democracy to the Arab World

January 15, 2004
Joshua Muravchik

There are 22 Arab countries. Of the world's 170 other governments, 121, or 71 percent, are elected. The number of Arab countries with freely elected governments: 0.

In The End of History, Francis Fukuyama likened the nations of the world to wagon trains carrying American pioneers west. Their speeds and routes varied, but they were all headed in the same direction. Are the Arab states the last wagon train to democracy? Or is there something that sets them apart? Are they headed in another direction? Or have their wheels come off, leaving them forever stuck in place?

These are questions to which few Americans--and few American governments--have usually given much thought. But that changed along with so much else on September 11, 2001. Recognizing that a war against terrorism could not be won solely on the battlefield, the United States looked to remove terrorism’s underlying causes. To some, such as United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, the chief cause is poverty. But for the administration of President George W Bush, it is tyranny. As the president put it in his address at London's Whitehall Palace in November 2003: “Democracy, and the hope and progress it brings, [are] the alternative to instability and to hatred and terror. We cannot rely exclusively on military power to assure our long term security. Lasting peace is gained as justice and democracy advance. In democratic and successful societies, men and women do not swear allegiance to malcontents and murderers; they turn their hearts and labor to building better lives. And democratic governments do not shelter terrorist camps.”

Accordingly, Bush set the goal of spreading democracy to the Middle East as a way to drain the fever swamps in which terrorism breeds. As the president has explicitly acknowledged, his initiative constitutes a break with 60 years of American foreign policy. Until recently, the Middle East had been regarded as exotic and forbidding; Washington’s view was that, as long as it pumped oil, the United States had little interest in trying to change the region's ways. Now America is betting its security on its ability to overhaul Arab political culture.

Is this a fool’s errand? Are the Arabs capable of democracy? And if so, can Americans be the agents of their transformation? The answer, of course, is that no one knows. The lack of a single democratic Arab government gives grounds for skepticism. The claim that something in Arab culture makes it resistant to democracy cannot be refuted until the first Arab democracy comes into being. But there is reason to be skeptical of the skepticism.

Mistaken Assumptions

Similar doubts have been expressed in the past about a host of countries and cultures where today democracy seems very much part of the norm. When Mussolini snuffed out Italian democracy in 1922, the historian Arnold Toynbee wrote: “The vague and abstract Greek word ‘democracy’ by which this peculiar institution of the medieval kingdom of England and its political offspring had come to be known, slurred over the fact that parliamentarism was a special local growth which could not be guaranteed to acclimatize itself in alien soil.”

After democracy fell in Italy, it collapsed in countries across southern and eastern Europe, almost all with Roman Catholic majorities. The notion took hold that democracy was congruent only with Protestantism. Catholicism, so it was said with perfect sociological logic, teaches its adherents obedience and hierarchy, and it has an infallible ruler at its head. Only Protestantism, with its belief in an unmediated relationship between the believer and God, fosters the kind of egalitarian habits of thought that democracy requires. Today more than 90 percent of countries where Catholics predominate have democratically chosen governments.

Toward the end of World War II, President Harry Truman received a briefing about what the United States could hope to do with Japan once the imperial power had been defeated. The briefer was Joseph Grew, the State Department's leading authority on Japan who had been America’s ambassador to the country until the war broke out. Grew instructed the president that “from the long range point of view, the best we can hope for is a constitutional monarchy, experience having shown that democracy in Japan would never work.”

Similar ideas were aired about India's capacity for democratic self government prior to its independence and about democracy's supposed dissonance with Confucian culture in the days before Taiwan and South Korea became democratic. (Today, ironically, the political success of these two Asian “tigers” is often explained by their remarkable economic growth, but a couple of generations ago when they were desperately poor their poverty, too, was sometimes explained by reference to the habits instilled by “Confucian culture.”)

Indeed, within living memory, it used to be argued that large numbers of Americans were not ready for self government. us Senator Strom Thurmond suggested in a 1957 address to the Harvard Law School: “Many Negroes simply lack sufficient political consciousness to spur them on to participate in political and civic affairs . . . [A] great number of those who lack this political consciousness probably also lack certain other qualities prerequisite to casting a truly intelligent ballot.” A generation later, Thurmond’s spokesmen liked to boast that he was the first Southern senator to hire a Negro as a professional aide.

In light of this history of misjudging the readiness of Negroes or Confucians or Hindus or Roman Catholics for democracy, how much weight should be given today to analyses that find something in Islamic culture that does not mesh with democracy? To be sure, the Muslim world lags in this respect. Only nine (20 percent) of the predominantly Muslim countries have elected governments. Still, these nine--Turkey, Albania, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Nigeria, Mali, Senegal, Niger, Djibouti--prove, that democracy is possible in a majority Muslim country.

Something about the Arabs?

Could it be that something particular to the Arab world makes it especially allergic to democracy or incapable of practicing it? As I have said, it is impossible to refute this supposition categorically until we have our first functioning Arab democracy. But two pieces of evidence inspire confidence that that day is not far off. First, the world has seen an Arab democracy, namely Lebanon. From the time of its independence around the end of World War II until the mid 1970s, Lebanon was essentially .democratic. It was an odd democracy, to be sure, with offices carefully parceled out to the various religious and ethnic groups that make up the national mosaic, but the government rested on elections, free debate, and parliamentary give and take. Foreign intervention by Palestinians, Israelis, and Syrians destroyed this relatively successful system. Today Lebanon remains a Syrian suzerainty, but for roughly three decades it afforded a glimpse of Arab democracy.

Second, increasingly forceful voices can be heard within the Arab world urging democratization. These include not only dissidents such as Egypt’s Saad Edin Ibrahim but also members of ruling governments. The kings of Jordan and Morocco have taken steps toward democratization, as have the rulers of most of the small Persian Gulf states. Perhaps most important, a team of several dozen Arab scholars from many countries working under the auspices of the United Nations issued the Arab Human Development Report in 2002. This report, which decried three “deficits” in the Arab world freedom, knowledge, and women's participation created a sensation that had not yet abated when the authors struck again. They issued a second report in October 2003 elaborating on the knowledge deficit and linking it directly to the absence of “social and individual freedoms.” The authors also announced that two more reports are in the works, each to focus on one of the other “deficits.”

The two reports point to numerous indicators of social development in which the Arab states have lagged badly. Could it be that their relative poverty accounts for the lack of democracy? It has been well established, at least since the publication of Seymour Martin Lipset’s Political Man in 1960, that democracy is highly correlated with economic development and other benefits that flow from it, such as literacy. Perhaps the Arabs cannot be democratic until they advance further economically? One problem with this supposition is that the wealthiest of the major Arab countries is Saudi Arabia, which is also arguably the farthest from democracy.

Another is that democracy has gained considerable footholds in sub Saharan Africa, which is on the whole far poorer than the Arab world. What appears to be lacking is political change itself, not some precursor.

Fomenting Democracy

This leads to the question of whether America can be the instigator of that change. Intuitively, since democracy means self rule, it would seem that this is something people must do for themselves, not something that can be introduced by outsiders. But history contradicts this intuition. America, the first modern democracy, has been a powerful engine spreading democracy elsewhere. At its most active, America has done this by force of arms; at its most passive, simply by setting an example from which others have borrowed. In between these two extremes, the United States has intervened on behalf of democracy by nonviolent means: with diplomacy, foreign aid, international broadcasting, and even covert political manipulations.

Germany, Japan, and other members of the Axis alliance of World War II are democracies today thanks to us military occupation. The states of the former Soviet bloc are mostly democracies in part because of American efforts to undermine Soviet power. us broadcasting that kept truth and hope alive behind the iron Curtain and us financial and technical assistance that aided the transition from communism also contributed to this outcome. The states of Latin America are almost all democracies in part because of diplomatic pressures by the Carter and Reagan administrations that delegitimated military dictators. Much the same can be said of the Philippines, South Korea, and Taiwan.

To foment democracy in the Middle East, overthrowing the regime of Saddam Hussein was a good start. His was the most entrenched, recalcitrant, murderous, and dangerous of the Arab tyrannies. And historically Iraq stands second only to Egypt as a pole of influence in the Arab world. If US efforts to implant democracy in Iraq take hold, as they did so successfully elsewhere in the post World War II occupations, this will greatly encourage democrats in the other Arab countries. And it will greatly increase the pressure for concessions felt by their rulers. It will have just as much effect on neighboring Iran, not an Arab country but one that significantly influences and is influenced by its Arab neighbors. The replacement of Iran's theocracy by a genuine democracy would also reverberate loudly across the region.

Beyond the mission in Iraq, it is not likely that subsequent us moves to spur democracy will consist of military measures. What impelled the use of force in Iraq was the combination of the threat that America felt Iraq’s long history of developing and using weapons of mass destruction, its support for various terrorist groups, its aggression against neighbors and the belief that there was no other way to achieve regime change given Saddam’s ultra repressive methods. The other nondemocratic regimes of the Middle East seem either less threatening or (in the case of Iran, which outdistances Saddam's Iraq in its nuclear programs and support for terrorists) more susceptible to change by other methods.

Outside of Iraq, America will use such nonmilitary methods as diplomatic pressure, foreign aid, increased international radio and television broadcasting, and direct assistance to democracy advocates. By these means it will try to foster a regional tide of democratization that will bring the Middle East into sync with the rest of the world.

A dramatic revolution in the methods by which people are governed has taken place this past 30 years. In this brief span of time, the proportion of states ruled by governments elected (in meaningful, competitive elections) by their citizens has gone from less than one third to nearly two thirds. Democracy, or at least its rudiments, has suddenly become the norm a norm that one day will extend to the Arab world.
14 posted on 01/15/2004 8:37:25 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn; Pan_Yans Wife; F14 Pilot; Cyrus the Great; faludeh_shirazi; Persia
TEHRAN 14 Jan. (IPS) Islamic Republic of Iran’s leader, Ayatollah Ali Khameneh’i, in an effort to diffuse one of the regime’s worst political crisis, urged Wednesday the Council of the Guardians (CG) to review its decision to disqualify some of the candidates from running in the upcoming Legislative election on February 20.

In a meeting with the 12-members CG, half of them appointed by himself, Mr. Khameneh’i observed that since distinguishing the qualification has different stages, “we should not go far in confirming the qualification of the members of parliament", referring to the extreme criteria the Guardian Council has adopted so far in approving the credential of tens of leading reformist MMs (Members of the Majles) candidates.

“On the disqualifications by the Guardian Council of incumbent MPs, Ayatollah Khameneh’i said that those whose qualification has been approved so far should be re-confirmed, unless the contrary is proved”, the official news agency IRNA reported, as threats by President Mohammad Khatami to lead a mass resignation of MMs, government ministers and provincial governors “unless a hard line political watchdog backed down” was denied.

"We have to remain firm. If one day we are asked to leave, then we will all leave, together", the usually mild-mannered President had warned Tuesday an open Majlis session, adding "When it comes to the elections and defending people's rights, the president is firm and will not forget his oath".

"The Guardians Council has a good opportunity to review the cases with precision and conforming with the law", the state media that is directly controlled by the leader quoted Mr. Khameneh’i as telling members of the body.

Ayatollah Khameneh’i, who has the final say on all matters of state, said in the case of MMs who are currently sitting in parliament -- 83 of whom had been barred from re-election -- "if their aptitude was proved in the past, the principle is that they are still competent unless it can be proved otherwise".

Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, the Secretary of the CG that vets all candidates to all elections in the theocratic regime of Iran bowed to the leader’s demand, promised to “re-examine” the case of disqualified incumbent MMs, among them Dr. Mohammad Reza Khatami, the younger brother of the President who is both the first deputy-Speaker and leader of the leader of Islamic Iran Participation Front, the country’s largest political party and other outspoken reformist lawmakers of the 292-seat Parliament, confirming that the body has received complaints against the disqualification.

“This is a civilian coup, one that means changing the regime without military intervention”, Mr. Mohsen Mirdamadi, the Chairman of the National security and Foreign Affairs of the Majles, himself barred, described the CG’s decision.

To resist the decision, rejected lawmakers, joined by other confirmed deputies immediately staged a sit-in at the Majles and menaced of going on an endless hunger strike if the CG decision is upheld.

But contrary to the outrage the move has created in Iranian political circles and the importance it has received outside, the public has remained almost indifferent to what some commentators described as a “storm in a tea cup”.

"We hope ... the upcoming elections in Iran will be free", French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin told a news conference Wednesday in Manama at the end of a five-nation Persian Gulf tour.

"It seems to me to be essential, in the context of the relations of trust we want to maintain with this country, that they be such", he said, echoing a similar warning earlier in the week from European Union (news - web sites) foreign policy chief Javier Solana.

But Iranian commentators dismissed a comment by the French news agency AFP saying “A departure of the reformist government, elected with massive majorities in past polls, could plunge Iran and its blend of democracy and theocracy into political chaos and back into international isolation”.

“These people, including the president himself described outside as moderate, have been powerless or unwilling to carry out the reforms they had promised and suddenly, they contest what they rightly deserve”, Mrs. Nasrin Mahdavi, an Iranian journalist in Germany covering for the Persian service of the Voice of America told Iran Press service.

Other observers said by ordering the CG to approve the most prominent reformist MMs, Mr. Khameneh’i offers them the “most poisonous gift” by making them utterly unpopular.

Already divorced by the voters, mostly the young ones that make the majority of Iranian voters and the international community, the reformists, in order to regain their lost popularity inside and outside, make all this noise, oblivion of the fact if they are allowed to run for the next elections, they would add to their discredit with the public and if elected, they would be nothing than more pawns in a Majles controlled by the conservatives.

The Guardians Council is due to make a final ruling on the disqualifications at the end of the month, and a definitive list of candidates is due to be released around 12 February.


Note: A former leader of the Revolutionary Guards who recently defected and lives in the US said on Satellite TV that he's certain this was a ploy to get more people out on Feb 20th, he said that the regime has done many things like this before. He, himself, being a part of several of the schemes.

15 posted on 01/15/2004 8:39:19 AM PST by freedom44
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To: DoctorZIn
France Urges Iran to Free Prisoners Of Conscience

January 15, 2004
Dow Jones Newswires
The Associated Press

PARIS -- France pressed Iran Thursday to release prisoners of conscience to mark upcoming legislative elections that have been plunged into crisis.

The Feb. 20 elections "constitute an important democratic step" for Iran, French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin said after meeting a senior Iranian official, Hasan Rowhani.

France is following the election process "with great attention and interest," de Villepin said, although he did not refer directly to the recent disqualification of thousands of liberal candidates by hard-liners.

De Villepin said France was particularly concerned about Iranian prisoners of conscience.

"I asked Dr. Rowhani that a gesture of clemency be made," he said at a joint news conference with the Iranian. "We hope that a page will definitively be turned with the next legislative elections."

Iran's hard-line Guardian Council has rejected nearly half of the candidates who registered to run for the 290-seat elections. Among them were nearly 80 sitting members of parliament.

Rowhani, head of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, said: "No one is imprisoned in Iran unless there is a judgment passed by a judge after a trial."

"What is important is that all countries accept law and legality," he said.

On the upcoming elections, Rowhani said the problems "could be resolved very easily." He referred to a call Wednesday by Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who ordered hard-liners to reconsider the disqualifications. They have been criticized by the European Union and the U.S.

Rowhani said Washington shouldn't comment on internal Iranian matters.

"Obviously we accept meddling from no country in our internal affairs," Rowhani said. "With a friend like France we have a friendly discussion ... but with the United States it's another matter."

Rowhani noted Washington's own election drama ahead of U.S. President George W. Bush's inauguration.

"The situation of past American presidential elections, which unwound in a truly catastrophic and dramatic manner, no longer allows the United States to speak about elections in other countries."
16 posted on 01/15/2004 8:53:41 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
Public Shows No Sign of Rallying to the Reformists' Cause

January 15, 2004
Parisa Hafezi

TEHRAN -- Iranian government officials are likely to drop their threats to resign after Supreme Leader Ayatollah ali Khamenei moved to defuse a row over parliamentary elections, government sources told Reuters on Thursday.

The resignation threats by officials and 27 state governors were made in protest at the hardline Guardian Council's decision to disqualify almost half of the 8,200 candidates hoping to run in parliamentary elections on February 20.

"To avoid tension in the country, those who have threatened to quit will drop their resignation threats," said one official among at least 16 members of President Mohammad Khatami's cabinet who said this week they would step down.

Most of those disqualified were reformist allies of Khatami, including more than 80 members of the 290-seat parliament.

The confrontation between reformists and hard-liners, the most dramatic since Khatami carried reformers to power in a 1997 presidential poll, prompted a sit-in protest by dozens of MPs and calls for the elections to be postponed.

But Khamenei, using his overriding political authority, moved to defuse the crisis on Wednesday, calling on the Guardian Council to review the cases of those barred from standing.

A second government source said that following Khamenei's comments, "those who had threatened to resign will have to withdraw." He said that President Khatami would in any case not accept their resignations.

In a further sign that tension was easing, protesting reformists canceled a large rally scheduled for Thursday, and the dozens of MPs staging a sit-in at parliament said they welcomed Khamenei's intervention.

"The leader's remarks were the first positive sign of solving the problem and it should stop this illegal process," Mohammad Reza Khatami, brother of the president and one of the disqualified MPs, told reporters.


The MPs vowed to continue the sit-in, but struck a more optimistic tone than in recent days.

"With the presence of all candidates from different (political) slants, we will hopefully witness elections worthy of the country's democratic system," the MPs said in a statement.

Analysts said the hard-liners might now try to split the reformist camp, which has united against the vetoes.

The Guardian Council, a 12-member body of hardline clerics and Islamic jurists under Khamenei's control, could make itself look magnanimous by reinstating most of those it has vetoed.

"The hard-liners don't really need to compromise, but this will be their tactic," said analyst Saeed Leylaz. "Reformists will have to give in because they don't have public support."

Opinion was divided on whether well-known reformist firebrands like the president's brother would be allowed to stand.

The government source predicted that better-known figures would be reinstated, but Leylaz said the hard-liners would prefer to lift the veto only on less high-profile candidates and had a blacklist of about 18 top reformists who would remain barred.

At stake is control of parliament, which the conservatives lost to reformists in the 2000 elections.

Hard-liners fear reformist causes such as a free press, free speech and women's rights will undermine the system of clerical rule in place since Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution.

But many ordinary Iranians have already lost faith in Khatami's ability to overcome conservative resistance, and the public have shown no sign of rallying to the reformists' cause.
17 posted on 01/15/2004 8:55:27 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
Iran's Real Reformers

January 15, 2004
The Wall Street Journal
Review & Outlook

Angered that 80 of their members have been disqualified from standing for re-election, the "reformists" were in their fourth day of a sit-in yesterday. Amid much international fanfare, this faction had gained control of the parliament in 1999, promising a degree of political liberalization. The promised liberalization never materialized and many of the disqualified candidates would likely have lost their seats in an election anyhow.

The fact that there have been no street protests in support of the "reformers" suggests much of the public has already lost faith in their ability to be agents of change. Ordinary Iranians won't risk the wrath of religious police just to ensure power for another faction. This loss of public support didn't deter the Iranian Guardian Council -- appointed by, and accountable only to, the Iranian Supreme theocrat, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei -- from seeking to curtail the parliamentarians' meager influence.

Beyond this scrum between competing factions, it's worth noting that the ground under the feet of Iran's ruling mullahs appears increasingly unstable. In June they faced student demonstrations demanding reforms to separate mosque and state, and in November the world discovered the mullahs had been lying about their nuclear program for 18 years. Last month the Bam earthquake took thousands of lives, and left the country's backwardness and the slowness of relief exposed for all to see.

Iran's under-30-year-olds -- who comprise a majority of the population -- have been leading the calls for a more liberal Muslim society. These are Iran's real reformers. But there is as yet no sign that their voices are being heard.
18 posted on 01/15/2004 9:13:25 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; ...
Iran's Real Reformers

January 15, 2004
The Wall Street Journal
Review & Outlook
19 posted on 01/15/2004 9:15:04 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: F14 Pilot
Freedom now ~ Bump!
20 posted on 01/15/2004 12:19:58 PM PST by blackie
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To: F14 Pilot
Freedom ~ Bump!
21 posted on 01/15/2004 12:20:43 PM PST by blackie
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To: DoctorZIn

22 posted on 01/15/2004 2:05:14 PM PST by OESY
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To: DoctorZIn
"something officially prohibited shortly after then-President Abol-Hassan Bani-Sadr in 1981 explained that women's hair emits rays that drive men insane. "

It would explain so much....
23 posted on 01/15/2004 2:09:02 PM PST by StolarStorm
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To: DoctorZIn
Their Last Chance?

January 15, 2004
The Economist
The Economist Print Edition

In the view of Mohsen Mirdamadi, one of Iran's most senior politicians, it smacked of a coup d'état. On January 11th the Council of Guardians, the iron fist of Iran's formidable clerical establishment, let it be known that it was barring some 4,000 candidates, including 82 serving deputies, from standing in parliamentary elections due on February 20th.

Officially, most of the disqualified candidates are being penalised for their supposed indifference to Islam and to the constitution, and for querying the virtually limitless powers enjoyed by the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. No one doubts that they have been chosen because they support the country's reform-minded president, Muhammad Khatami, and his dangerously democratic ideas.

The Council of Guardians may be hoping to dissuade Iranians from voting. Last year's council elections, when the reformists lost power in most big cities, showed that a low turnout favours the conservatives. They hope that their stable 15%-or-so of the vote will win them a disproportionate share of parliament's 290 seats.

Ever since their sweeping victory in the last parliamentary election, in 2000, reform-minded deputies have backed the president in his struggle against Iran's roundly disliked, but immensely powerful, conservative institutions. Denied much of their legislative clout, parliamentarians have been reduced to using the chamber to highlight—but not, alas, to curb—the conservatives' abuses of power.

The Council of Guardians duly avenged itself on the biggest party of whistle-blowers, the Participation Front; just two of its 67 serving deputies were cleared to stand. In Tehran 52% of all candidates were barred. In distant Kurdistan, where ethnic nationalism wears reformist colours, the figure was 59%.

Since rumours of mass disqualifications had circulated long before they were made public, the barred parliamentarians had prepared their response. On January 11th about 80 deputies began a sit-in in the parliament building, to go on “as long as necessary”. If the council refuses to back down, says Reza Khatami, one of parliament's two deputy speakers (and the president's younger brother), the agitation will grow and will “take new forms”.

To the regime's external enemies, these words are a portent—of political implosion, perhaps, foretelling the fatal weakening of the Islamic Republic. In Iran, a different view prevails. Rarely, since President Khatami's triumphant election in 1997, has the establishment seemed so powerful, or its eventual victory so assured.

The Guardians' grip

For the past four years, parliament has been undermined by hardliners. Kayhan, the conservatives' favourite newspaper, has taken pot shots at the “economic criminals”, “foreign lackeys” and “violators of public morals” who occupy it. Occasionally, conservative thugs have beaten up deputies. Most damaging of all, the Council of Guardians has sapped parliament's credibility as a chamber for making laws.

On the face of it, parliament's four-year report card is starred with enlightened legislation. Since 2000, deputies have, inter alia, liberalised a tough press law and made Iran subscribe to United Nations conventions outlawing torture and sex discrimination. They have legislated to expand trial by jury, devolve powers to local councils and ban the police from entering universities. But the Council of Guardians has spiked every one. Last October, when a reformist newspaper totted up parliament's record, it found that the council had vetoed 111 out of a total of 295 bills that parliament had ratified.

The shooting down of a particular set of bills, tabled by President Khatami, set the stage for the current confrontation. One had laid down strict criteria for the barring of candidates from running for public office; the other had enshrined the president's right to reverse the sort of flagrant violations of the constitution that conservative institutions have indulged in.

President Khatami and his supporters have not always reacted intelligently to these provocations. Reza Youssefian, one of the protesting deputies, acknowledges that the reformists have lost credibility by hinting repeatedly that they would withdraw from public life in protest at conservative obstructionism, and never doing so.

In 2001 the president threatened not to stand for re-election. He ended up standing, and won by a landslide. Later, through his aides, he let it be known that he would certainly resign if his two bills were shot down by the Council of Guardians. The bills were spiked, but the president did not budge. On January 13th, he threatened to resign again over the sit-in and take the protesting deputies with him: “We will all leave together,” he said. But he remains.

Perhaps partly because of this, only the government, the foreign media and the slender reformist press have paid the sit-in much attention. Millions of Iranians are still unaware of it. For the majority who do not read newspapers, the sole source of news is the hardline state broadcasting monopoly, Sound and Vision, which has so far refused to mention it. Even those Iranians who read reformist newspapers, or listen to the BBC, seem unmoved. In 1999 students at Tehran University responded to the banning of a reformist newspaper by mounting a spectacular protest that lasted several days. The class of 2004, by contrast, seems keener on swotting for exams. A proposed student sit-in was squashed by the university authorities.

Nor, concedes one of three barred female deputies, have Iranian women taken much note of events. Why should they, when the reformists have done so little for them? Over the past four years, most of parliament's limited attempts to redress gaping legal imbalances between men and women have been stymied by the Council of Guardians. Besides, President Khatami has appointed no women as ministers.

The president has responded to the current crisis with a mixture of coyness and caution. He condemned the disqualifications but asked the deputies to suspend their sit-in while secret talks continue. For some, it is hard to reconcile today's Mr Khatami, the backroom dealmaker, with yesterday's inspirational statesman who promised to institute openness and the rule of law. The deputies' defiance cannot disguise the fact that the president's reform movement has run out of steam.

This does not mean that the movement was worthless, or has achieved nothing. No one who remembers Iran before Mr Khatami was elected would dispute that it has changed. Since 1997, Tehran has become a more humane, even permissive, place. Seven years ago, anyone taking a drive with a member of the opposite sex, or wearing make-up, was punished by jail or a lashing. These activities are still crimes, but the authorities now turn a blind eye.

On Mr Khatami's watch, Iran's human-rights record has become a bit less appalling. He himself is tolerant of criticism. Despite the banning of dozens of reformist publications, some good newspapers cling on. And dissidents are no longer summarily killed by hit squads; they are tried, albeit with scant regard for justice, and then locked up.

Iran is more open to foreigners than it was before Mr Khatami came to power. The government's swift acceptance of foreign aid after last month's earthquake in Bam stood in contrast to the rejection of similar offers that followed Iran's last big quake, in 1990. The Council of Guardians has even been persuaded to ratify legislation designed to attract foreign investment.

Despite the shadow cast by the tensions between Iran and America, foreign relations have proved President Khatami's greatest success. Besides making friends with countries, like Saudi Arabia, that sided with Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s, he charmed the European Union into starting talks on a trade pact and oversaw improved ties with countries, like Turkey, which Iran used to vilify for dealing with Israel.

An impossible contradiction

Yet Mr Khatami was elected only on a promise to reform his country as much as its theocratic structure would allow. And at the heart of Iran's strange semi-democracy lies an impossible contradiction. Although Iranian leaders like to claim that the Islamic Republic's legitimacy derives from its famously lively elections, everyone knows that the real influence lies in the hands of men, mostly clerics, who never have to face the voters.

Many Iranians had hoped that Mr Khatami could persuade the most senior of these, the supreme leader, to relinquish some of the powers that he enjoys under Iran's oddly incoherent constitution. That has not happened. Mr Khamenei is not impressed by the two massive endorsements that the president has received from the electorate. He senses a threat from uppity reformist deputies who, only last summer, elliptically called on him to step aside. He remains defiantly answerable to God and an assembly of clerics whose members he has a strong hand in selecting.

Mr Khamenei has likened himself to a referee at a keenly contested football match. On January 14th, cajoled by Mr Khatemi, he ordered the Council of Guardians to confirm the eligibility of all the sitting-in deputies who had not committed crimes. But he was presumably aware of the council's plans, since every member is either his appointee or the appointee of his appointee. According to Mohsen Kadivar, a reformist, the supreme leader shows his red cards only to one team.

The scope of the recent disqualifications is a sign of reviving self-confidence among the conservatives. For the past two years, their authoritarian instincts have been checked by the immense international pressure and scrutiny to which Iran has been subjected. That pressure started at the beginning of 2002, when George Bush included Iran in an “axis of evil”. The United States had already invaded one of Iran's neighbours, Afghanistan, and was turning its attention to another, Iraq. Many Iranians were convinced they were next.

That impression grew last year, as Iran squirmed in the spotlight shone by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Evidence presented by the agency suggested that Iran had broken its treaty obligations and was alarmingly close to acquiring the technology needed to build a nuclear bomb. Last autumn the IAEA's board of governors demanded that Iran put its programme in cold storage.

Conservative sermonisers duly fulminated against the IAEA and America; hardline military commanders refused to allow agency inspectors into their bases. This, in effect, sabotaged the reformists' efforts to accommodate the agency's demands. Then, on October 21st, came a surprising U-turn. Iran undertook to reveal the sources of its nuclear technology, suspend its uranium-enrichment efforts and open suspected nuclear sites to spot inspections.

The Rohani effect

One immediate result of this capitulation was to lighten the international pressure on Iran. It may also turn out to have determined the domestic balance of power. The decision to agree to the agency's demands was taken by Mr Khamenei, but the supreme leader did not depute the president to negotiate the details. Instead, he chose Hassan Rohani.

Mr Rohani holds no elected office. He is the supreme leader's representative on a bipartisan body called the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC). During his talks with the Europeans he made it clear that he carried Mr Khamenei's full authority, an impression the president could never have conveyed. The foreign ministers, tired of empty reformist promises, were seduced.

Iran seems to be abiding by its nuclear promises. The message is clear; the conservatives can be trusted. Mr Rohani's elevation suggests, too, that the conservatives are gathering the reins of foreign policy. Next year, when Mr Khatami steps down, the conservatives anticipate that one of their own will replace him. Not unreasonably: the Council of Guardians is expected to prevent all reformists from standing.

Mr Rohani now looks like a foreign minister in waiting. Since last October's deal, he has been respectfully received in Brussels and Moscow. His globetrotting at Mr Khamenei's behest has the effect of making the government look irrelevant.

A conservative imprimatur is being more clearly felt on other Iranian policies. The most important of these is Iraq. The United States no longer suggests that Iran is out to destabilise its western neighbour. Iran is a good friend to four influential members of the American-appointed Governing Council. It sends petrol, officially and unofficially, across the border. The Revolutionary Guard gets on with coalition forces that control the areas contiguous to Iran. Iran's softer Iraq policy may stem from fear of American intentions; it certainly depends on conservative will.

So, too, do tiny hints of change in Iran's attitude to Israel. State radio may still devote hours to the murderous misdeeds of the “Zionist entity”, but conservatives no longer have their old appetite for confrontation. Mr Khamenei is unlikely to concede, publicly, Israel's right to exist, or to give up his paternal interest in Hizbullah, the Lebanese militia which Iran started in the 1980s. But the proposed restoration of full relations with Egypt, the first Arab state to make formal peace with Israel, is a telling instance of Iran's new pragmatism.

From their lair in the parliament building, the reformists view all this with wry amusement. The reform movement, they remind visitors, has sincerely sought to reconcile Iran with the world, only to be thwarted by conservatives. It was the conservatives, they recall, who stymied Mr Khatami's overtures to Bill Clinton. Now the same conservatives are interested in striking a deal with the Americans.

The aid that the United States sent to the victims of last month's earthquake in Bam may have been, as the administration said, humanitarian in purpose. The offer to dispatch a high-level mission to the afflicted region was more overtly political. Many Iranians rather like the Americans; but because the regime officially does not, the offer was deferred. But there may be other chances to repair the relations that were severed with the takeover of the American embassy in Tehran in 1979. The Americans are less worried about Iran's nuclear ambitions than they were, and would like to encourage more Iranian co-operation in Iraq.

One hardline voice?

Iran's western interlocutors, whether American or European, will face the same dilemma. The slow rise of conservatives in the supposedly democratic parts of government means that, increasingly, foreign governments must work with the least enlightened parts of the Iranian system.

As Iran's nuclear capitulation showed, there are advantages for the West in this. Powerful conservatives, like Mr Rohani, can deliver more than well-intentioned but ineffective reformists. Yet Mr Rohani may prove an awkward friend. Europeans and Americans insist that Iran become more responsive to its people, and the conservatives are reluctant democrats.

That much was underscored by the mass disqualifications. In the conservative view, barring reformists is part of an effort to unite the two branches of Iranian decision-making, elected and unelected. By next summer, when Mr Khatami is replaced, they want Iran to speak with one voice. At present, they are being thwarted by 80 truculent parliamentarians.

Whatever the outcome, Mr Khatami and parliament, supported by a few newspapers, are all that prevent conservative institutions from taking an even stronger grip on the country. This is why the sit-in in Tehran, viewed with indifference by most Iranians, is so important.
24 posted on 01/15/2004 3:01:09 PM 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; ...
Their Last Chance?

January 15, 2004
The Economist
The Economist Print Edition
25 posted on 01/15/2004 3:02:14 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
Hizbullah, Iran Funded Nablus Terror Cells

January 15, 2004
The Jerusalem Post
Margot Dudkevitch

Three recently arrested brothers from Nablus, all members of the Fatah, are suspected of being involved in the transfer of hundreds of thousands of shekels from Hizbullah and elements in Iran to fund terrorism.

In an attempt to hide the real purpose of the funds, Fadi, Hamdi, and Shadi Abdu transferred money claiming it was designated for cultural and social activities. Officials estimate they brothers transferred more than NIS 1 million to Fatah cells in Nablus.

Details of their activities were released by security officials on Thursday.

The closure imposed on the Gaza Strip, meanwhile, will remain in effect until Saturday night, when security officials will meet to decide whether to lift it. Officials said Israel will continue to target those considered to be "ticking bombs," adding that Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin gave his personal approval to Erez terminal suicide bomber Reem Salah al-Rayashi.

A security official said the closure was not in response to Wednesday's bombing but to concrete warnings of plans by terrorists to perpetrate another attack at the Erez crossing.

On Thursday the security establishment registered 52 terrorist warnings, approximately half stemming from Samaria and the rest from Gaza.

"The threats relate to every kind of attack conceivable, suicide bombings, shooting attacks, and abduction," an official said.

At present trucks containing goods are permitted to enter and leave the Gaza Strip, and Palestinians who have received authorization from the district coordinating office can enter Israel in cases of humanitarian assistance.

Early Thursday morning, security forces demolished two homes in the Tulkarm refugee camp. One belonged to Hitam Lawisi, a Tanzim member arrested by security forces earlier in the week. According to officials, he manufactured explosives, had shot at soldiers, and was planning a rocket attack inside Israel. He also dispatched two suicide bombers to Netanya in June, but they threw away their explosives and returned to Tulkarm.

The second house belonged to Tarek Abu Raba of Hamas, who recruited and dispatched suicide bombers. He was shot and killed by soldiers last year.

Security forces also arrested 12 fugitives in various locations in the West Bank. Palestinians shot at soldiers attempting to arrest fugitives in Jenin and Tulkarm.

Shots were fired at a patrol near Kadim and at a bus near Silwad, north of Ramallah.

In the Gaza Strip, shots were fired at IDF positions near Rafah and at the Erez crossing and at a vehicle and an IDF post near Gadid. Residents in Kfar Darom were ordered to remain in their homes after a grenade was thrown at an IDF position near its hothouses.
26 posted on 01/15/2004 3:02:44 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn

January 15, 2004

TOGETHER they form the largest bloc in the parliament, where, with their allies, they command a two-thirds majority. So why are 80 members of the 290-member Islamic Consultative Assembly, the Iranian parliament, behaving like an opposition and holding a sit-in amid threats of mass resignation?

The reason is that the next general election, to be held on Feb. 20, could end the parliamentary career of many of them, not because of rejection by voters, but because they won't even be allowed to stand for election.

A couple of months ago Richard Armitage, No. 2 at the State Department, described the Islamic Republic of Iran as "a sort of democracy." Well, he was sort of right, if by democracy he meant the holding of regular elections without bothering about their quality and purpose.

In a normal democracy, anyone who does not have a criminal record and meets basic qualifications such as citizenship is allowed to stand for office. But this is not the "sort of democracy" that Iran has had since 1979.

In Iran, all candidates must be pre-approved by the Council of the Guardians of the Constitution - a 12-man, mullah-dominated organ appointed by the "Supreme Guide" and answerable to him. These "guardian angels," as they are known not without irony, can decide who is a good Muslim and who is not. Good Muslims are allowed to stand for elections, and bad Muslims are pushed aside.

A man regarded as a good Muslim and allowed to be a candidate may be reclassified suddenly as a bad Muslim after the election. In that case "the guardian angels" have the power to cancel the election, kick the now bad Muslim out of the parliament and even send him to jail.

Even a parliament composed entirely of good Muslims cannot legislate as it deems fit. The "guardian angels" have the power to annul any piece of legislation they do not like.

The current crisis started when the Guardian Council rejected the applications of 2,004 men and women, among them scores of incumbents, who wished to stand in next month's general election. By doing so, the "guardian angels" have already determined the shape of the next parliament, making sure that it would be dominated by a new majority. And that has outraged the present majority.

But what are the key points of difference between the two sides? The short answer is: not much.

For purposes of simplification, the Western media refer to the two sides in Iran as "reformists," supposedly led by President Muhammad Khatami, and "conservatives," whose leader is identified as another mullah, Ali Khamenei, the Islamic Republic's "Supreme Guide."

The terms "reformist" and "conservative," however, mean little, if anything, in the current context of Iranian politics.

The supposedly "reformist" bloc has controlled the presidency for the past six years and the parliament for the past four years. And, yet, it has implemented absolutely no reforms of any significance. Nor has it even proposed such reform.

The "conservative" faction bases its ideology not on the need to conserve, but on the necessity of exporting the Khomeinist revolution, first to other Muslim countries and then to the entire world.

The so-called "conservatives" have a coherent discourse that one may like or dislike: Islam is the only true faith, all other religions have either been abrogated by God or were man-made concoctions from the start. Today, the only country in the world that has a truly Islamic system is Iran. It is, therefore, Iran's duty to help replace all other regimes in the Muslim world with truly Islamic ones.

Once that has happened, a powerful Islamic bloc should be formed, led by the Iranian "Supreme Guide," to convert the whole of mankind to the Khomeinist version of Islam, if necessary, by war.

In the meantime, no deviation from the established rules should be tolerated inside Iran. Women should cover their heads, and men should grow beards. The "polluting" culture of the West should be kept out. Such ideas as pluralism, democracy and human rights, all inventions of the Jews and the Crusaders, must be kept out of the Dar al-Islam (The House of Islam). Elections should still be held, but only as a periodical reconfirmation of the people's devotion to the system.

The discourse of the so-called "reformists" lacks similar clarity. Khatami, for example, has become a master in the art of ambiguity and double-talk. When addressing the Europeans, he talks of reason and science and cites Aristotle and Hegel. But when talking in Iran he claims that women should cover their head because their hair emanates a dangerous ray that drives men wild.

As far as foreign policy is concerned, the "conservative" faction is not suicidal. It knows that it cannot take on the "Zionist-Crusader" bloc, led by the United States. It admits that it can never develop friendly ties with that bloc, and is prepared to accept a period of peaceful coexistence in the name of détente.

The so-called "reformist" faction, however, is bedeviled by its contradictions. It knows that women's hair does not emanate deadly rays. But, at the same time, it opposes the repeal of the law imposing the hated headgear.

What is happening in Iran today is a power struggle between two factions within the same Khomeinist establishment. The so-called "reformist" faction is not objecting to the principle of vetoing candidacies by the "guardian angels." It is objecting to the fact that its own members are vetoed.

The "reformist" faction is not calling for a constitutional amendment either to abolish the Council of Guardians or to lift its veto over candidacies. What it really wants is to gain control of the council for itself and use it as a means of preventing its rivals from standing for election.

What is astonishing is that many in the democratic world still fail to understand the reality of the Iranian situation.

The European Union, for example, has just appealed to the "guardian angels" not to veto so many candidacies. The EU is only asking for a reduction in the dose of the poison, and not and end to the poisoning of a nation's political life.

Even if the Council of Guardians allow all the so-called "reformists" to stand as candidates, the forthcoming election would still be far from democratic. The reason is that no one who is not a Khomeinist of one sort or another is allowed to stand for election to anything.


27 posted on 01/15/2004 3:06:24 PM 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; ...

January 15, 2004
28 posted on 01/15/2004 3:06:54 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: StolarStorm
29 posted on 01/15/2004 4:07:35 PM PST by nuconvert ( "Cats are smarter than dogs. You can't get eight cats to pull a sled through snow")
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To: F14 Pilot

Chirac has lost Saddam and is lonely.

30 posted on 01/15/2004 4:08:10 PM PST by PhilDragoo (Hitlery: das Butch von Buchenvald)
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To: DoctorZIn
"The new leniency also extends to romance. With morals police no longer on the streets, young couples hold hands in public even while passing Friday prayers in downtown Tehran."

Wasn't there a picture the other day here, that showed foreign "moral police"?
31 posted on 01/15/2004 4:13:51 PM PST by nuconvert ( "Cats are smarter than dogs. You can't get eight cats to pull a sled through snow")
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To: F14 Pilot
"It's a struggle to gain a bigger stake for themselves,
it's not for the people."

They're onto us, y'know what I'm sayin' here, bruthuh.

32 posted on 01/15/2004 4:27:39 PM PST by PhilDragoo (Hitlery: das Butch von Buchenvald)
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LOL......good one
33 posted on 01/15/2004 5:08:01 PM PST by nuconvert ( "Cats are smarter than dogs. You can't get eight cats to pull a sled through snow")
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To: DoctorZIn
"The Expediency Council advises the supreme seader and is the final arbiter in legislative disputes between the parliament and the Guardians Council. The Supreme Leader appoints this council's members, who are prominent religious, social and political figures."

Anyone heard from Rafsanjani lately?
34 posted on 01/15/2004 5:18:13 PM PST by nuconvert ( "Cats are smarter than dogs. You can't get eight cats to pull a sled through snow")
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To: DoctorZIn; F14 Pilot; Grampa Dave
The actions of the Council of Guardians are identical to those of Beijing in Hong Kong.

The promise of reform is the opiate to thwart revolution.

35 posted on 01/15/2004 6:07:26 PM PST by PhilDragoo (Hitlery: das Butch von Buchenvald)
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To: DoctorZIn; F14 Pilot; Grampa Dave; MeekOneGOP; autoresponder; SAMWolf
There are not conservatives and reformists; there are Islamists in the raw and Islamists in drag.

The most enlightened reformist is of a piece with Reverend Jim Jones and Unabomber Ted Koczynski.

But when talking in Iran he claims that women should cover their head because their hair emanates a dangerous ray that drives men wild.

Cover your hair! You're driving me wild!

36 posted on 01/15/2004 6:21:39 PM PST by PhilDragoo (Hitlery: das Butch von Buchenvald)
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To: PhilDragoo

37 posted on 01/15/2004 6:56:14 PM PST by nuconvert ( "Cats are smarter than dogs. You can't get eight cats to pull a sled through snow")
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To: F14 Pilot
38 posted on 01/15/2004 9:23:00 PM PST by windchime (Podesta about Bush: "He's got four years to try to undo all the stuff we've done." (TIME-1/22/01))
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To: DoctorZIn
Shah's son wants role in Iran future

Thursday 15 January 2004 8:25 PM GMT

Twenty five years after the fall of the Shah of Iran, his exiled son says he still wants to be a catalyst for change in the country.

Claiming the government is incapable of reforming itself, Reza Pahlavi told journalists on Thursday the new crisis caused by blacklisting reformist candidates for the Iran's 20 February national elections highlighted the country's problems.

"It is not a crisis between so-called liberal and radical factions, but between the whole regime and the people. This regime is not reformable. There must be a fundamental change," said Pahlavi.

The only way for the Iranian people to make their voice heard, he added would be "to boycott" the election as no elected body had been able to stand up to the conservative clerics led by supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Scores of Iranian reformist MPs have vowed to maintain a sit-in in the Iranian parliament, despite the intervention of the supreme leader to order the Guardians Council, a 12 member religious body, to lift its disqualification of the reformist candidates for the election.

US-backed hopeful?

A former pilot and father of two who now lives in the Washington area, Pahlavi was training on a US air base in Texas when his father, Muhammad Reza Pahlavi, was forced to leave Iran on 16 January 1979.

He said it was a difficult period for him and his family.

But by refusing to join any political party, Pahlavi says he wants to act as a "catalyst" for change by campaigning for a national referendum for democratic and secular change.

On top of his book on the topic, Winds of Change, Pahlavi appears regularly on radio and television programmes broadcast into Iran from abroad. Internet has also aided his efforts to reach Iranians.

He says he has also had discrete contacts with some members of the Shia Muslim clergy in Iran who favour a separation of religious and state powers.

Constitutional monarchy

Acknowledging that there were also problems with his father's authoritarian government, Pahlavi is careful not to raise the possibility of a return to the monarchy.

He said the Iranian people must choose between a republic or a constitutional monarchy.

Despite its record, the monarchy was at least more modern and progressive, he added.


"Today we are in a situation where instead of being 50 years ahead we are one or two centuries behind."

The fall of the Taliban in Afghanistan and Saddam Hussein in Iraq has encouraged Pahlavi that he can play a role in a new Iran.

"This regime has so far succeeded in hiding between the Taliban in Kabul and Saddam's regime in Baghdad. Today it is a regime that is withdrawing and can feel that it is weakening," said the shah's son.

Iran is a country "with 70% of the population aged under 30" that wants to be free and modern, according to Pahlavi. Change, he added, "is a question of time."


You can find this article at:
39 posted on 01/15/2004 9:31:02 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
Terror expert Mansoor Ijaz says chemical weapons came in from Iran

January 14, 2004

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

This is a partial transcript of Special Report with Brit Hume, Jan. 13, that has been edited for clarity.

BRIT HUME, HOST: The administration is not saying anything about this, and it is not even clear officials know anything about it. But some sources in Iraq are talking about a development that could prove an important turn in the search for weapons of mass destruction. For more on this we turn to the man who so often seems to know things before everybody else.

Fox News foreign affairs analyst Mansoor Ijaz, who joins us now from Berlin.

Mansoor, what's up?

MANSOOR IJAZ, FOX NEWS FOREIGN POLICY ANALYST: Well, Brit, what I have learned in the last 24 hours is that about three days ago in the northern part of Iraq, a convoy of trucks and jeeps and cars was brought across from Iran where some of the Kurdish Peshmergah -- these are these Kurdish rebels that are sort of like Mujahideen, if I may put it that way, from the old Afghan War.

They intercepted one of those trucks that were carrying a large warhead that had extremely sophisticated plastic -- C- 4 plastic explosives in it. And when the driver of that truck was put under interrogation, he then admitted that as many -- there were a total of 30 warheads that apparently were scheduled to come across.

One of them got caught, and 29 made it across somehow or the other. Of those 29, we are told now that somewhere between six and 12 of them may have, in fact, been laden with chemical explosives that would be then attached to a rocket of some sort inside Iraq that's already there in a separate convoy. And that those warheads would then be exploded over, for example, an encampment near the Coalition Provisional Authority (search) or something like that.

Now, what alarmed me about this and the reason that I felt it was necessary to get this out as soon as possible, is because I have now heard three times in the last week, from separate sources that I have been talking to that something big is being planned for Baghdad. In which the idea that is being put forward is to kill as many as 3,000 to 5,000 people at one shot; something that would be similar to a World Trade Center (search) type of attack. In that part of the world, the only way you could get that done is if you launched a massive chemical or biological attack.

HUME: Now, talk to me a little bit about the Kurdish forces who were involved in this event. Are these -- are they friendly to the United States and the coalition? Are they not? And what -- you know, and how credible are they?

IJAZ: Yes. It's a good question. The strange thing here is that what I have been told is that the sources that got this information out, what they saw on the ground physically going on is that the Kurdish leaders that had -- the Kurdish rebels that had caught this guy had taken the warhead and were actually trying to sell it back to the Iranians along with their silence. Because there's something else going on here that's of a larger political nature.

We now know that during the past week, the reformists in Iran have been pummeled and stopped from allowing their candidates to be fielded for the upcoming elections. We also know that there is, as we have said here before about a month and a half, two months ago, that there is a wintertime offensive being prepared with the help of the Iranian and Revolutionary Guard in Afghanistan, maybe with the help of Al Qaeda, maybe even bin Laden, al Zawahiri, and people like that who, as we've said here before, are in Iran right now.

And at the same time, they're trying to launch something in Iraq. The idea of which would be the wag the dog scenario, where if your domestic politics, you can't fix it, and it's getting too much pressure under honor the mullahs in Iran right now. Better to start the fire and ratchet it up a notch on both sides outside, both in Afghanistan and Iraq at the same time.

HUME: Now, how great a likelihood do you believe that you are finding this out or others finding this out, and it getting out, will have on it actually happening?

IJAZ: Well, I think the first thing we've got to do is go and talk to those Kurdish rebels and find out where the heck those other convoy trucks went. The second thing that we need to do, and I talked with General McInerney earlier this evening to determine what the range is, what type of warheads would be used and how these things could be put together. He made a very strong recommendation, and I agree with that, that we need to get Global Hawk One back in theater. Because if these things...

HUME: That thing out of there now?

IJAZ: ... these chemical warheads were attached -- they are out of there right now, and they're not in theater. And the trouble is that they're in desolate areas in which these rockets could be launched from.

And remember, a chemical weapon, to have massive -- the most massive impact that it can have to have a midair burst. Which means that it needs to be launched from, let's say, 100 kilometers away or 50 kilometers away or 200 kilometers away.

These are areas that our people are just not, you know, focused on right now because we've got so much work to do in and around the urban areas in Iraq. So I think we need to get down to finding out where that convoy of 29 warheads are and do that immediately. And get our Kurdish friends to help us rather than trying to sell them back to the Iranians. That doesn't make any sense.

HUME: Oh, we've got just a few seconds left. The credible of your sources, your assessment?

IJAZ: They're unimpeachable. Again, I think they've been right all along. We'll find out in the coming days in a print report about the bin Laden story in great detail. Everything has been verified. We will see that.

HUME: Thank you Mansoor.,2933,108371,00.html
40 posted on 01/15/2004 9:34:46 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
Just what we need another regime way!....where are the folks in this country from Iraq that wanted the US to go into Iraq for a change....they were all over the airwaves at one time encouraging our that we have gone in why don't we hear from them anymore?
41 posted on 01/15/2004 9:39:11 PM PST by LADYAK
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To: LADYAK; DoctorZIn
The press doesn't accurately portray the struggle and the frustration and anger within Iran.

And I do not believe this evil regime will allow their people to speak out the truth on the state run televisions.

The story of Iran cannot be found by reading the local newspaper. It takes a great deal of reading to find the true story, from multiple sources.

42 posted on 01/15/2004 10:04:27 PM PST by Pan_Yans Wife (He who has never hoped can never despair.)
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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!

"If you want on or off this Iran ping list, Freepmail DoctorZin”

43 posted on 01/16/2004 12:14:34 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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