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Iranian Alert -- January 16, 2004 -- IRAN LIVE THREAD --Americans for Regime Change in Iran
The Iranian Student Movement Up To The Minute Reports ^ | 1.16.2004 | DoctorZin

Posted on 01/16/2004 12:13:18 AM PST by DoctorZIn

The US media almost entirely ignores news regarding the Islamic Republic of Iran. As Tony Snow of the Fox News Network has put it, “this is probably the most under-reported news story of the year.” But most American’s are unaware that the Islamic Republic of Iran is NOT supported by the masses of Iranians today. Modern Iranians are among the most pro-American in the Middle East.

There is a popular revolt against the Iranian regime brewing in Iran today. Starting June 10th of this year, Iranians have begun taking to the streets to express their desire for a regime change. Most want to replace the regime with a secular democracy. Many even want the US to over throw their government.

The regime is working hard to keep the news about the protest movement in Iran from being reported. Unfortunately, the regime has successfully prohibited western news reporters from covering the demonstrations. The voices of discontent within Iran are sometime murdered, more often imprisoned. Still the people continue to take to the streets to demonstrate against the regime.

In support of this revolt, Iranians in America have been broadcasting news stories by satellite into Iran. This 21st century news link has greatly encouraged these protests. The regime has been attempting to jam the signals, and locate the satellite dishes. Still the people violate the law and listen to these broadcasts. Iranians also use the Internet and the regime attempts to block their access to news against the regime. In spite of this, many Iranians inside of Iran read these posts daily to keep informed of the events in their own country.

This daily thread contains nearly all of the English news reports on Iran. It is thorough. If you follow this thread you will witness, I believe, the transformation of a nation. This daily thread provides a central place where those interested in the events in Iran can find the best news and commentary. The news stories and commentary will from time to time include material from the regime itself. But if you read the post you will discover for yourself, the real story of what is occurring in Iran and its effects on the war on terror.

I am not of Iranian heritage. I am an American committed to supporting the efforts of those in Iran seeking to replace their government with a secular democracy. I am in contact with leaders of the Iranian community here in the United States and in Iran itself.

If you read the daily posts you will gain a better understanding of the US war on terrorism, the Middle East and why we need to support a change of regime in Iran. Feel free to ask your questions and post news stories you discover in the weeks to come.

If all goes well Iran will be free soon and I am convinced become a major ally in the war on terrorism. The regime will fall. Iran will be free. It is just a matter of time.


TOPICS: Extended News; Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: iaea; iran; iranianalert; 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 01/16/2004 12:13:18 AM PST by DoctorZIn
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To: Pan_Yans Wife; fat city; freedom44; Tamsey; Grampa Dave; PhiKapMom; McGavin999; Hinoki Cypress; ...
Join Us At Today's Iranian Alert Thread – The Most Underreported Story Of The Year!

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

2 posted on 01/16/2004 12:15:35 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
How to Deal with Iran's Mullahs? Recall Reagan

January 16, 2004
Houston Chronicle
Reza Ladjevardian

After the tragic and devastating earthquake in Bam, there have some discussions of a possible "earthquake diplomacy" between the Bush administration and the mullahs in Iran. Such rapprochement would precariously jeopardize America's strategic interests.

Since President Reagan's key-shaped cake to the mullahs and Iran-Contra until today, various intelligent, well-intentioned officials have tried to portray the mullahs as pragmatic. Now the argument goes that the mullahs and America have a mutual interest in ensuring stability in Iraq and Afghanistan.

However, there is no confluence of interests. The mullahs clearly understand the blossoming of democracy in that region would mean their eventual demise. As such, they would try to foil any such plans. The real problem is the mullahs themselves.

For more than two decades, they have diverted billions of dollars from Iran's oil revenues to filling their own pockets and financing international terrorism.

The mullahs' bloody hands are involved in countless numbers of terrorist acts across the globe, and it is they who introduced suicide bombers as a weapon. According to the CIA, the mullahs' Hezbollah is the "A list" of terrorists and more powerful than al-Qaida.

In dealing with the mullahs, the Bush administration ought to follow Reagan's example with the communists and not that of President Nixon. As Reagan rejected the Nixon doctrine of detente with the communists, and settled for nothing less than the tearing down of the Berlin Wall, President Bush should also accept nothing short of a full-fledged democracy in Iran.

Would the world have been better off today had Reagan compromised and continued Nixon's detente with the Soviets -- and not have applied the necessary financial pressure on them until their empire imploded?

Similarly, the longer the mullahs are in power, the more of a danger they present to the world. This is especially true in light of their nuclear ambitions.

The Bush administration needs to systematically expose the mullahs' corruption, incompetence and brutality in order to showcase the fallacy of Islamic fundamentalism as a political and economic ideology. This is an absolutely essential step in winning the war on terrorism so as to prevent further disillusioned Muslims from being seduced by the allure and false promises of this intolerant ideology.

Let the angry Muslim students hear and see what the Iranian students have had to endure under Islamic fundamentalism. Let them bear witness to the executions, tortures, beatings, drug addictions, lack of opportunities, sad and unhappy faces and wasted lives.

Similar to the last days of communism in which there were more communist sympathizers in Berkeley, Calif., and Cambridge, Mass., than in Moscow, Islamic fundamentalism has been completely refuted in Iran, but not yet so in Pakistan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, etc.

Helping the Iranian people to liberate themselves from the grasp of the mullahs could be accomplished with no American military involvement.

Through a mixture of coercion and engagement, America needs to pressure the Iranian government to implement two critical bills passed by Iran's Majlis, but rejected by the Council of Guardians. These two bills focus on establishing a free press and free elections.

Without a free press, a democracy would wither and die; with a free press a dictatorship would crumble. In the annals of history, no dictatorship has survived the onslaught of a free press. The newspapers that have been shut down and the journalists and students who have been imprisoned and routinely tortured seek a civil, democratic society based on the ideals of peace, equality, justice, transparency and a genuine representative government.

There is not a more critical issue facing America's foreign policy today than establishing a democratic role model in the Middle East. The Iran option won't require bloodshed or billions of taxpayer dollars. It would also be a prudent hedge in case the Iraq plan doesn't unfold as desired.

The mullahs' theocracy belongs in the dust bin of history just like communism and fascism. The Bush administration should not increase the life expectancy of this doomed regime by continuing the misguided policies of the past two decades and engaging in quid pro quo deals with the mullahs. Such myopic, politically motivated policies have enabled the mullahs to survive and to pose an ever greater menace for America.

Winning the war on terrorism is impossible so long as the mullahs are in power.

Ladjevardian, an Iranian-American, is a Houston-based writer. He can be e-mailed at
3 posted on 01/16/2004 12:40:32 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
British politicians against expulsion of Iran's MKO members from Iraq

AFP - World News (via Yahoo)
Jan 15, 2004

LONDON - Over 300 British politicians condemned Tehran for attempting to oust and extradite thousands of opponents from Iraq and called for Iran's main opposition group, the People's Mujahedeen, to be removed from a US list of terrorist organisations.

"The world now knows that the PMOI (People's Mujahedeen) is an essential part of the drive to halt the advance of fundamentalism in Iraq and the region," said a statement signed by 220 members of parliament and 85 Lords from Britain's second chamber.

"This underlines the need to remove the terrorist tag from the PMOI and hang it around the neck of the terrorist mullahs' regime in Tehran, which is also guilty of mass violations of human rights," the statement said.

"Thus it is important to recognise the presence of the PMOI in Iraq as an independent political movement," it said.

The US-installed interim Governing Council (IGC) in Iraq announced on December 9 that it planned to deport the People's Mujahedeen group which is on the US State Department's list of foreign terrorist organisations.

The US administrator in Iraq, Paul Bremer, has said that members of the People's Mujahedeen in US custody would not be sent to Iran for trial, as demanded by Tehran, but to third countries.

"As clearly stated by experts in international law, Iraq is a country under occupation and therefore the status of the PMOI in Iraq is governed by international law, and not the IGC," British politicians said in their statement published at a press conference in Westminster in central London. The People's Mujahedeen mounted attacks inside Shiite-dominant Iran from neighbouring Iraq when Saddam Hussein was in power, but surrendered to the coalition in May, when US troops disarmed more than 3,800 of them.

They are now guarded by US troops at their base in Camp Ashraf, northeast of the Iraqi capital.
4 posted on 01/16/2004 12:57:07 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
While I agree with Reza Ladjevardian's sentiments, he seems to be under the impression that what Mr. Powell says, is what Mr. Bush wants or believes.
It's not.
It's Mr. Powell that would have some sort of detente. I believe this statement "tearing down of the Berlin Wall, President Bush should also accept nothing short of a full-fledged democracy in Iran" is the reality of the President's policy.
Reza Ladjevardian's suggestion of letting the world "see what the Iranian students have had to endure under Islamic fundamentalism. Let them bear witness to the executions, tortures, beatings, drug addictions, lack of opportunities, sad and unhappy faces and wasted lives." is very good and one made by others. Getting the media to cooperate, is another story. Perhaps the President needs to do this more directly in the form of a nationally televised speech or press conference, with pictures or a slide show of "life under the regime", similar to how the army has presented it's updates during the war.
Yes, a free press is essential..."Without a free press, a democracy would wither and die; with a free press a dictatorship would crumble." And for these reasons, it will not materialize in Iran until the regime is gone.

"Winning the war on terrorism is impossible so long as the mullahs are in power."


5 posted on 01/16/2004 5:48:59 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: DoctorZIn; All
Let's not forget who MKO (Mujahedeen Kalq) are. They've changed their name to PMOI (People's Mujahedeen), but not their objective to take over and run Iran themselves.

Posted 7-14-03 -

The CULT of RAJAVI (excerpts from N.Y. Times article)

''Every morning and night, the kids, beginning as young as 1 and 2, had to stand before a poster of Massoud and Maryam, salute them and shout praises to them,'' Nadereh Afshari, a former Mujahedeen deep-believer, told me. Afshari, who was posted in Germany and was responsible for receiving Mujahedeen children during the gulf war, said that when the German government tried to absorb Mujahedeen children into their education system, the Mujahedeen refused. Many of the children were sent to Mujahedeen schools, particularly in France. The Rajavis, Afshari went on to say, ''saw these kids as the next generation's soldiers. They wanted to brainwash them and control them.'' Which may explain the pattern to their stories: a journey to self-empowerment and the enlightenment of self-sacrifice inspired by the light and wisdom of Maryam and Massoud."

"the land -- along with all clothing, ammunition, gas and the like -- had been donated by Saddam Hussein and that the Mujahedeen was, in effect, fighting one dictatorship under the wings of another, both Madani and Bahshai insisted that the Mujahedeen's precondition for setting up bases in Iraq was independence from Iraq's affairs. ''All we've used is the soil,'' Bahshai insisted. Either she was an adept liar or in deep denial, since everyone I spoke to -- Iraqi intelligence officers, Kurdish commanders and human rights groups -- said that in 1991 Hussein used the Mujahedeen and its tanks as advance forces to crush the Kurdish uprisings in the north and the Shia uprisings in the south. And former Mujahedeen members remember Maryam Rajavi's infamous command at the time: ''Take the Kurds under your tanks, and save your bullets for the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.''

"Though for years the Mujahedeen preached a Marxist-Islamic ideology, it has modernized with the times. Today, one of the standard lines of the Mujahedeen's National Council of Resistance to politicians in Europe and America is that it is advocating a secular, democratic government in Iran, and that when it overthrows the regime, it will set up a six-month interim government with Maryam as president and then hold free elections. But despite its rhetoric, the Mujahedeen operates like any other dictatorship. Mujahedeen members have no access to newspapers or radio or television, other than what is fed them. As the historian Abrahamian told me, ''No one can criticize Rajavi.'' And everyone must go through routine self-criticism sessions. ''It's all done on tape, so they have records of what you say. If there's sign of resistance, you're considered not revolutionary enough, and you need more ideological training. Either people break away or succumb.''

"Salahaddin Mukhtadi, an Iranian historian in exile who still maintains communications with the Mujahedeen because it is the strongest armed opposition to the Iranian regime, told me that Mujahedeen members ''are locked up if they disagree with anything. And sometimes killed.''

"Afshari, who fled the group 10 years ago, told me how friendship was forbidden. No two people could sit alone and talk together, especially about their former lives. Informants were planted everywhere. It was Maryam's idea to kill emotional relationships. ''She called it 'drying the base,''' Afshari said. ''They kept telling us every one of your emotions should be channeled toward Massoud, and Massoud equals leadership, and leadership equals Iran.'' The segregation of the sexes began almost from toddlerhood. ''Girls were not allowed to speak to boys. If they were caught mingling, they were severely punished.''

"Though Maryam and Massoud finagled it so they could be together, they forced everyone else into celibacy. ''They told us, 'We are at war, and soldiers cannot have wives and husbands,''' Afshari said. ''You had to report every single day and confess your thoughts and dreams."

"In the chaotic days after the fall of Baghdad, several Mujahedeen members managed to flee the military camps and were in Kurdish custody in northern Iraq. Kurdish officials told me they weren't sure what to do with them. One was Mohammad, a gaunt 19-year-old Iranian from Tehran with sad chestnut eyes. He hadn't heard of the Mujahedeen until one day last year when he was in Istanbul desperately looking for work. A Mujahedeen recruiter spotted him and a friend sleeping on the streets, so hungry they couldn't think anymore. The recruiter gave them a bed and food for the night, and the next day showed them videos of the Mujahedeen struggle. He enticed them to join with an offer to earn money in Iraq while simultaneously fighting the cruel Iranian regime. What's more, he said, you can marry Mujahedeen girls and start your own family. The Mujahedeen seemed like salvation. Mohammad was told to inform his family that he was going to work in Germany and given an Iraqi passport.
The first month at Ashraf, he said, wasn't so bad. Then came the indoctrination in the reception department and the weird self-criticism sessions. He quickly realized there would be no wives, no pay, no communication with his parents, no friendships, no freedom. The place was a nightmare, and he wanted out. But there was no leaving. When he refused to pledge the oath to struggle forever, he was subjected to relentless psychological pressure. One night, he couldn't take it anymore. He swallowed 80 diazepam pills. His friend, he said, slit his wrists. The friend died, but to Mohammad's chagrin, he woke up in a solitary room. After days of intense prodding to embrace the Mujahedeen way, he finally relented to the oath. He trundled along numbly until the Americans invaded Iraq, when he and another friend managed to slip out into the desert. They were helped out by Arabs, and then turned themselves over to the Kurds, hoping for mercy. Mohammad fell ill, and the next thing he knew he was in prison. ''The Mujahedeen has a good appearance to the outside world, but anyone who has lived among them knows how rotten and dirty they are,'' he said."

"Meanwhile, inside Iran, the street protesters risking their lives and disappearing inside the regime's prisons consider the Mujahedeen a plague -- as toxic, if not more so, than the ruling clerics. After all, the Rajavis sold out their fellow Iranians to Saddam Hussein, trading intelligence about their home country for a place to house their Marxist-Islamist Rajavi sect. While Mujahedeen press releases were pouring out last month, taking undue credit for the nightly demonstrations, many antigovernment Iranians were rejoicing over the arrest of Maryam Rajavi and wondering where Massoud was hiding and why he, too, hadn't been apprehended. This past winter in Iran, when such a popular outburst among students and others was still just a dream, if you mentioned the Mujahedeen, those who knew and remembered the group laughed at the notion of it spearheading a democracy movement. Instead, they said, the Rajavis, given the chance, would have been the Pol Pot of Iran. The Pentagon has seen the fatal flaw of hitching itself to volatile groups like the Islamists who fought the Soviets in Afghanistan and, more recently, the Iraqi exile groups who had no popular base at home. It seems dangerously myopic that the U.S. is even considering resurrecting the Rajavis and their army of Stepford wives."

Elizabeth Rubin is a frequent contributor to the magazine. Her last article was about political reformers in Iran.
6 posted on 01/16/2004 6:43:04 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: DoctorZIn
7 posted on 01/16/2004 6:51:08 AM PST by knighthawk (Live today, there is no time to lose, because when tomorrow comes it's all just yesterday's blues)
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To: DoctorZIn
Can Iranians Change Their Political System?

January 16, 2004
The International Herald Tribune
A. William Samii

PRAGUE -- There has been an uproar in Iran over the hard-line Guardian Council's rejection of 3,533 out of 8,144 prospective candidates for the parliamentary election in February. Reformist legislators walked out of Parliament and mounted a sit-in. Some legislators and cabinet members, and all 27 provincial governors, threatened to resign. Regardless of how this crisis is resolved, it demonstrates all the problems with Iran's political system.

The Guardian Council comprises six clerics appointed by Iran's supreme leader, the unelected Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and six lawyers selected by the judiciary chief, who is appointed by the supreme leader. Its role in vetting electoral candidates is based on its interpretation of the constitutional article calling for it to "supervise elections."

This vetting process has upset many people for many years. Not only did the council reject hundreds of candidates before the February 2000 parliamentary polls, but it overturned the results in some constituencies where reformist candidates won. In response to past criticism, Khamenei has remarked that the council was the most important institution protecting the Islamic nature of the Iranian system and was duty-bound to "prevent infiltration of impure elements into pillars of the system."

Iran's popularly elected yet relatively powerless president, Mohammad Khatami, introduced legislation in 2002 that would limit the Guardian Council's role in elections, but the council also vets all legislation for its compatibility with Islam and the constitution; not surprisingly, it rejected Khatami's legislation several times.

The council's rejection of so many prospective candidates is striking, but what is truly unusual is its decision that 80 incumbent parliamentarians are ineligible.

The current crisis is likely to end in one of three ways. Rejected candidates have the opportunity to appeal to the Guardian Council, and there is the possibility, not unprecedented, that some of the rejections will be rescinded. This could be a face-saving outcome for all concerned, but there are unlikely to be thousands of successful appeals.

There also could be an election boycott, which has been threatened by several of the country's main reformist political parties, and which would probably lead to low voter turnout. The conservatives would not mind this - low turnout in the February 2003 municipal council elections allowed them to dominate the polls. On the other hand, the Iranian regime bases much of its legitimacy and credibility on holding regular elections with high participation. Indeed, it keeps the polling places open late, buses in voters and encourages public employees' participation.

The promise by President Khatami and the speaker of the Parliament, Mehdi Karrubi, to appeal to Khamenei reveals the third and most likely possibility. Khamenei said in a speech Monday to provincial governors, broadcast by state radio, that he saw elections as "ephemeral" events that nevertheless "generate enthusiasm" and "draw the people's attention." He urged Iran's governors to avoid tension and said the issue must be resolved through "legal channels." In the past this has meant that Khamenei would refer to another unelected body, the Expediency Council.

In the last few years the 35-member Expediency Council has sided with the Guardian Council on several important issues, possibly because six members are the clerics on the Guardian Council, another one is the judiciary chief, and most of the rest are conservative appointees of the supreme leader. In March 2003, for example, it decided to increase significantly the Guardian Council's budget for electoral activities, despite the protestations of the president and speaker.

The third possible outcome summarizes Iran's democratic dilemma - an unelected body has control over elections, and only an unelected official can overrule that body. For all the elections Iran holds, and for all the talk of reformists and religious democracy, the real decisions are made by a handful of conservative clerics operating behind closed doors.

In the presidential elections of 1997 and 2001, as well as the parliamentary election of 2000, Iranians voted in overwhelming numbers for reformist candidates who promised to change things. But the promises came to naught and Iranians came to see that their efforts are futile in the face of opposition from entrenched forces who can manipulate the system to maintain their grip on power.

Recognition of this situation is likely to keep voters at home on election day, and that is bad news for those who would like to see regime change without external intervention.

The writer is the senior regional analyst for Southwest Asia at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, and prepares the weekly RFE/RL Iran Report ( The views in this article are his own.
8 posted on 01/16/2004 8:50:23 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
Bam Quake Death Toll Hits 41,000 - Iran Official

Jan. 16 — TEHRAN, Iran (Reuters) - The earthquake that flattened the ancient Silk Road city of Bam killed 41,000 people and the death toll could rise, a senior political aide told the official IRNA news agency Friday.
"Up to this point, 41,000 have been killed and the toll could reach 45,000," Mohammad Mohammadi Golpayegani, aide to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was quoted as saying.
9 posted on 01/16/2004 9:04:21 AM PST by freedom44
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To: DoctorZIn
Iran Quake Toll Tops 41,000, Could Reach 45,000

January 16, 2004
ABC News

Iran on Friday raised the death toll for the December 26 earthquake in the south-eastern city of Bam to 41,000, with a close aide to supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei saying the final figure could hit 45,000, state media reported.

"In this incident, up until now 41,000 of the people of Bam have been killed, and there is a possibility that this could increase to 45,000. This is a great catastrophe," Mohammad Mohammadi-Gholpayghani was quoted as saying by the news agency IRNA.

The official heads the office of the supreme leader, who on Friday made his second visit to the quake-devastated city to inspect recovery and relief operations.

Previous official estimates had put the death toll at between 30,000 and 35,000, although recovery crews in Bam have continued to pull out bodies as they work to clear the rubble.
10 posted on 01/16/2004 9:06:32 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
Iran MPs: no compromise on candidate vetting

Friday, January 16, 2004 - ©2003

TEHRAN, Jan 16 (AFP) - The head of Iran's main reformist party vowed Friday that parliamentary deputies barred from standing for re-election next month would not compromise with hardliners who drew up the blacklist.

Mohammad Reza Khatami, the head of the Islamic Iran Participation Front (IIPF) and the younger brother of President Mohammad Khatami, said the thousands of other disqualified candidates must also have their candidacies approved.

His comments were made during the sixth day of a sit-in at the Majlis building, which has been the centre of angry protests since the Guardians Council -- an unelected watchdog that screens all legislation and candidates for public office -- moved to bar key reformists from contesting the February 20 polls.

"This sit-in has only one request, and that is to have an election based on the law. We will not compromise on that," said the IIPF leader, one of 83 mostly-reformist MPs who were on the Guardians Council blacklist.

"We will calmly press our demand to have free elections. But even if all the MPs are qualified but people outside the Majlis are not, we will continue our sit-in," he said.

"This is a matter of principle," he asserted, as scores of disgruntled MPs continued to occupy the Majlis building in central Tehran.

Of the approximately 8,157 people who registered to stand for seats in the Majlis, 3,605 have been disqualified.

With Friday a weekend here, many had also brought their families and children along. The Majlis building was also thronging with reporters, and security searches were stepped up for all people entering the building.
11 posted on 01/16/2004 9:08:02 AM PST by freedom44
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To: DoctorZIn
After 25, Shah of Iran's son hoping for change

WASHINGTON, Jan 15 (AFP) - Twenty five years after the fall of the Shah of Iran, his exiled son, Reza Pahlavi, says he still wants to be a catalyst for change in the country but that its Islamic regime is incapable of reforming itself.

The 43-year-old Pahlavi said in an interview with AFP that the new crisis caused by the blacklisting of reformist candidates for the Iran's February 20 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.

Pahlavi, a former pilot and father of two who now lives in the Washington area, was training on a US air base in Texas when his father, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, was forced to leave Iran on January 16, 1979, two months before the triumphant return to Iran of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who died 10 years later.

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

But 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.

Pahlavi said he has also had discrete contacts with some members of the Shiite Muslim clergy in Iran who favour a separation of religious and state powers, an even with the grandson of the Ayatollah Khomeini, Hossein Khomeini, who is now a critic of the regime.

Acknowledging that there were also problems with his father's authoritarian regime, 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 regime 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 percent of the population aged under 30" that wants to be free and modern, according to Pahlavi. Change, he added, "is a question of time."
12 posted on 01/16/2004 9:09:12 AM PST by freedom44
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To: DoctorZIn
These numbers are staggering.

I read a brief article recently, and it stated that the UN estimates that it will have completed providing temporary emergency shelter for all of the remaining residents by APRIL.

The regime's failure is obvious, when it comes to the scope of this tragedy. The problem today is for an already threatened and wounded community to absorb the sobering after-effects for months and months to come.
13 posted on 01/16/2004 9:11:54 AM PST by Pan_Yans Wife (He who has never hoped can never despair.)
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To: DoctorZIn
Political Barbs Welcome an Iranian Visiting France

January 15, 2004
The New York Times
Elaine Sciolino

PARIS -- With Iran embroiled in an internal political struggle, Hassan Rowhani, the head of that country's National Security Council, and Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin of France clashed Thursday over the coming Iranian parliamentary elections and human rights.

Mr. Rowhani also criticized France's decision to press for a legal ban on the Islamic veil in public schools.

In blunt language unusual in diplomacy, Mr. de Villepin demanded that Iran's elections next month be free and fair and that people arrested for their political beliefs be released.

"We hope that a page will be definitively turned with the coming legislative elections," Mr. de Villepin said at a news conference after the two men met at the Foreign Ministry. He described them as "an important marker of democracy."

With parliamentary elections scheduled for Feb. 20, Iran is mired in one of the most serious political battles in the 25-year history of its Islamic Republic.

More than 60 members of Parliament began a sit-in on Sunday after the hard-line Guardian Council banned more than 3,000 potential candidates, including 80 of the current 290 members, from running. Most of the sitting lawmakers rejected were from the reformist camp, which won more than 70 percent of the seats four years ago.

In broadest terms, the confrontation reflects a brutal ideological and power struggle between conservatives, who preach adherence to a vision of an Islamic state in which order and security are the priority, and reformers who are determined to inject more freedom and openness into all aspects of political, social and economic life.

Coincidentally, the battle comes at a time of stock-taking in Iran as the country is poised to celebrate the 25th anniversary of its revolution next month. Twenty-five years ago on Thursday, Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi fled the country for Egypt. He never returned, and he died 18 months later.

Mr. Rowhani, who is on a three-day visit to France, strongly defended Iran's electoral process, saying, "In the course of the last 25 years, Iran has accumulated enough experience concerning the democratic process."

Without singling out France, he rejected what he called "the interference of any country in the internal affairs of our county."

He was specific, though, about criticism coming from Washington. "The United States never speaks uniquely out of its concern for the future of the Iranian people," Mr. Rowhani said. "It pursues its own interest and tries to show hostility toward the Iranian people."

He added, "The last American presidential elections, which took place in truly catastrophic and dramatic conditions, do not allow the United States to talk about elections in other countries."

On Monday the deputy State Department spokesman, J. Adam Ereli, called on Iran's government to disavow attempts by hard-liners to shape the outcome of the election.

As head of Iran's National Security Council, which is responsible for security, intelligence, military and strategic policies, Mr. Rowhani, a cleric, has emerged as one of the most influential political figures in Iran. He reports directly to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader and the most powerful political figure in the country.

Mr. Rowhani negotiated an accord last October with Mr. de Villepin and his British and German counterparts that commits Iran to agree to more intrusive international inspections of its nuclear sites by the International Atomic Energy Agency and a suspension of its activities to enrich uranium.

Mr. Rowhani insisted in his meeting with President Jacques Chirac on Wednesday and in the news conference on Thursday that Iran was respecting its agreements with the agency, despite strong suspicions that the country is continuing to assemble centrifuges that can be used to enrich uranium.

Richard A. Boucher, the State Department spokesman, said Wednesday that the nuclear agency had "called on Iran to adhere to its pledge to suspend `all' — all — enrichment-related and reprocessing activity." He added that the United States would watch carefully to make sure that Iran complied.

Mr. Rowhani also defended Iran's human rights record, saying he had told Mr. de Villepin that there was "not one person in prison in Iran except when there is a judgment by a judge following a trial."

He turned the tables on his French host, accusing France of violating human rights by passing a law banning Muslim girls from wearing veils to school. "We hope that Muslims will be free to practice their religion," he said.
14 posted on 01/16/2004 9:12:16 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
Despite Lack of Popular Support, Reformists MPs Vow to Continue Sit-in Strike at Majles

•The sit-in strike of 82 reformist Majles MPs, whose bids to stand for reelection was rejected by the Guardians Council, entered its fifth day, despite the Supreme Leader's call to the Guardians Council to review the decision to bar them. President Khatami's cabinet ministers and 28 provincial governors retracted their threats of resignation, which had been announced in support of the disbarred MPs, but despite lack of popular support, the pro-reform strikers vowed to continue their sit-in until they receive assurances of fair and free elections. The Guardians Council's election supervision committees disqualified nearly half of the 8,000 who applied for candidacy in the Majles February 20 Majles elections.

•After spending four nights at the Majles, the protesting MPs were faced with the fact that no ordinary citizens came to the streets in their support. The six-year battle between the regime's reformists and conservatives, which continues now at its height in the Majles building, has always missed one element: the people. Many listeners who called Radio Farda hotline said the people cared little for the struggle of the regime's reformists. Tehran-based journalist Faramarz Qarabaghi tells Radio Farda that many people did not even follow the news of the Majles MPs' sit-in strike. The doubt in people's mind about the authenticity of the reformists' struggle, which has been nurtured during the past four years, would not go away with four nights of sit-in strike, Paris-based leftist activist Ali Keshtgar tells Radio Farda. People's memory about the conservatives' violence and the reformists' silence contributes to the present public apathy, journalist Sina Motalebi, who fled to Europe last month, tells Radio Farda. The reformists showed little attention in the past four years to people's demands, particularly for personal freedoms, whereas personal freedoms and boosting democratic institutions were on top of the reformists' election slogans four years ago, he adds. (Keyvan Hosseini)

•Strikers rejected President Khatami's plea to end their sit-in and said their strike would only end in mass resignations. The upcoming elections are a crucial test for the reformists, who have lost popular support as a result of their failure to implement their promised reforms. (Maryam Ahmadi)

•Moderate reformist website Baztab urged the Guardians Council to defend its decision to bar the reformists from standing for reelection, but reformist columnists called for retraction of the Guardians Council's vetoes. Meanwhile, the reformist daily Shargh predicated that the crisis would either end with a compromise, or the elections may be cancelled or postponed. (Shireen Famili)

•The striking MPs have in effect attacked the foundations of the Islamic government and clerical rule, conservative Tehran MP Gholam-Ali Haddad-Adel, a son-in-law of the Supreme Leader, told the daily Etemad. Any compromise would be to the detriment of the reformist strikers, pro-reform writer Ahmad Zeydabadi wrote in the reformist daily Shargh. (Ali Sajjadi)

•The Guardians Council decision to bar 82 reformist MPs from the upcoming elections may serve to reverse voters' apathy, which is rooted in the public's frustration with President Khatami's reforms. (Baktash Khamsehpour)

•“Now the Guardians Council has a good opportunity to review the cases (of the disqualified applicants) with precision and conforming to the law,” the Supreme Leader told members of the Guardians Council on Wednesday, reversing his decision announced a day earlier that he would not interfere. He said that in the case of the current MPs, 83 of whom have 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.” Observers say the Supreme Leader's remarks have placed the striking MPs in a deadlock, since ending their strike would mean they only cared for their own jobs, instead of defending more than 3,000 other disqualified applicants. (Fereydoun Zarnegar)

•The review ordered by the Supreme Leader is only concerned with the 83 disqualified MPs, not the 3,500 of other mostly reformist election candidacy applicants whose credentials have also been rejected by the Guardians Council, former Majles MP, Tehran University law professor and constitutional reform activist Qasem Shoaeleh-Saadi tells Radio Farda. Now, expecting that the Guardians Council would overturn the disqualifications, the MPs' strike may appear self-serving, if they end it. And, if they don't, they would risk splitting the reformist faction by defying President Khatami's plea, he adds. In any case, due to their inept performance in the past four years, the public is not expected to vote for them, he adds. If these reformist MPs had stood firm on their positions during the past four years, they would not have faced such an ending, he says. (Fereydoun Zarnegar)

•London's Guardian quotes editorials from Iran, Pakistan and UAE newspapers about the Majles protest. (Shahran Tabari, London)

•“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,” writes the Wall Street Journal in an editorial. “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.”

•A group of conservative theologians and seminary students threatened to march to the Majles from Qum in support of the Guardians Council. Their plan was cancelled, even though they had lined up buses for the trip to Tehran, Qum-based reformist cleric Ahmad Ahmadpour tells Radio Farda. The reason the right-wing pressure groups have any impact on the country's politics is that the reformists have been weak. Each time their opponents, who are a minority in the society and very few, stepped forward, the pro-reform group moved one step back, he adds. There is talk in Qum that pro-reform clerics may mobilize a group to go to Tehran to stage a demonstration in support of the striking MPs, he says. (Mahmonir Rahimi)

•No permit has been issued for any demonstrations in front of the Majles, announced an interior ministry spokesman. (Farin Asemi)

•In a communiqué issued at the Majles today, the protesting MPs said they would continue their sit-in “until all illegally disbarred election candidacy applicants receive approval.” “We are waiting to see how the Guardians Council interprets the Supreme Leader's remarks, pro-reform MP Meysam Saeedi said. President Khatami's administration did not boost its Majles supporters yesterday, and the MPs rejected Khatami's plea to end their strike. However, they called the Supreme Leader's order a positive step. (Siavash Ardalan)

•In their 8th communiqué, the striking MPs called for fair and peaceful resolution of the crisis. The Majles has been accused of radicalism by the conservatives, but this Majles silenced many critics of the regime outside Iran and showed a democratic face for the Islamic Republic to the outside world, MP Hossein Mar'ashi said. Forty-five applied in Chenaran, of Khorasan province for candidacy in the elections, but the Guardians Council rejected 21 of them, including one Friday prayer leader, on the basis of lack of commitment to Islam, said MP Ahmad Moradi, who resigned yesterday in protest against the disqualifications. (Maryam Ahmadi)

•In his meeting with secretary of supreme national security council Hassan Rowhani, the French foreign minister called for democratic elections in Iran and release of political prisoners. (Farin Asemi)

•Free election is not defined by the number of people who went to polling booths, Virginia-based human rights advocate and lawyer Mehrangiz Kar tells Radio Farda. The variety of filters set in the constitution to vet candidates block many social and political groups from entering the elections, she adds. (Ali Sajjadi)
15 posted on 01/16/2004 9:17:28 AM PST by freedom44
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To: nuconvert
They are a Leftist-Islamist group.
16 posted on 01/16/2004 9:19:01 AM PST by F14 Pilot (Is there any truth in that, senor?)
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To: freedom44
Good post, freedom. Thank you.
17 posted on 01/16/2004 9:21:06 AM PST by Pan_Yans Wife (He who has never hoped can never despair.)
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To: DoctorZIn
French shocked by program on Iran SMCCDI (Information Service) Jan 16, 2004

Millions of French were shocked, yesterday evening, by a program broadcasted on Iran. The program which was the famous "Forbidden Iran" was broadcasted by the governmental "Antenne 2" (A2) network and was seen by more than 20 millions. Tens of e.mails have been sent, in the first hours following this broadcast, to SMCCDI by expressing writers' anger of French Government's Policy in reference to Iran and the support of French citizens of the Iranian Resistants. One of these e.mails is stating: "fight , fight, for your freedoom and put an end to this horrible regime which by constantly violating the most basic human rights denies the existence of Allah and mankind.

I, as a french citizen ,how can i help you ??

Go ahead and remember this song of the french resistance during world war the second: IF YOU FALL, another will go out to fight.

Laurent". The program broadcasted by this French TV was the original 40 minutes documentary shown by the English "Channel 4" and not the 20 minutes censored program shown on the American PBS. The original program shows scenes of stonning and amputation processes along with interviews made with families of slained opponents, such as, the late Foroohars. The broadcast by the British "Channel 4" had already created anger among many British as was showing their Foreign Secretary as an ardent supporters of the mullahs oppressing Iran. Tens of e.mails were received as well following the broadcast. "Forbidden Iran" became possible due to the courage of "Jane Kokan" a maverick female reporter having traveled undercover to Iran. Aryo Pirouznia, speaking on behalf of SMCCDI, had expressed the Movement's deepest gratitudes, to Ms. Kokan and her team, during the reporter's interview on the Glen Mitchell Show broadcasted by the US National Public Radio (NPR) on January 7th. "Madam, we praise your courage for having accomplished what for many Iranians have died by trying to show the plight of the Iranian Nation to the World..." Pirouznia had said in part of program.

18 posted on 01/16/2004 9:30:53 AM PST by freedom44
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To: freedom44
I heard recently that this uncensored version will be broadcast all over Europe in the coming days.

This is great news. I only wish that we could have seen the entire broadcast here in the US.
19 posted on 01/16/2004 10:45:26 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
This just in from inside of Iran...

I have told that the police in Tehran surrounded the parliament this morning to prevent people to go there.
20 posted on 01/16/2004 10:47:27 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn; F14 Pilot; freedom44; nuconvert
Can we expect jamming of satellite transmission this weekend?

and, what about the internet connections and mobile phones in Iran?
21 posted on 01/16/2004 12:20:01 PM PST by AdmSmith
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To: AdmSmith
The regime continues to attempt to jam the satellite broadcasts, but not 24/7 and not all broadcasts.

I would expect them to increase the efforts this weekend.

Re: the internet, I am sure they will block the sites but if people use the they should be able to get around this.
22 posted on 01/16/2004 12:53:19 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
UK's Straw To Meet Iran's Khatami at Davos

January 16, 2004
Dow Jones Newswires
The Associated Press

LONDON -- U.K. Foreign Secretary Jack Straw will meet Iranian President Mohammad Khatami at next week's World Economic Forum for broad-ranging talks expected to cover Tehran's nuclear program, a U.K. official said Friday.

Straw, whose visit to Tehran with his French and German counterparts in October helped broker an agreement on U.N. access to Iran's nuclear sites, will meet Khatami Wednesday at the event in Davos, Switzerland.

Iran agreed last month to accept unannounced inspections by the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency.
23 posted on 01/16/2004 1:06:39 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
Iran Reformists to Fast In Attempt to Reverse Ballot Bans

January 16, 2004
The Associated Press
Dow Jones Newswires

TEHRAN -- Reformist lawmakers on the sixth day of a parliament sit-in vowed Friday to begin a fast in an attempt to force the reversal of the disqualification of more than 3,000 candidates from next month's election.

Mohammad Reza Khatami, a vice speaker of parliament who has been barred from the election, told a press conference inside parliament that reformist lawmakers would begin fasting Saturday.

"We are determined even more than before to resist illegal hard-line efforts to hold a sham election through mass disqualification of hopefuls," said Khatami, leader of the Islamic Iran Participation Front, Iran's largest reformist party, and a younger brother of President Mohammad Khatami.

"We are prepared to pay all costs of defending free elections," he said. "Without free elections, democracy is meaningless."

The Guardian Council, an unelected constitutional watchdog controlled by hard-liners, has disqualified thousands of the nearly 8,200 prospective candidates - including 80 sitting reformist lawmakers - for Feb. 20 legislative elections.

The move early this month caused outrage among reformists, and lawmakers have protested with sit-ins since Sunday.

The disqualifications were seen as an attempt to bolster hard-liners in the long-simmering power struggle with allies of President Khatami, who seek social and political reform.

Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei intervened Wednesday to cool down the developing political crisis and ordered the 12-member Guardian Council, appointed by him, to reconsider its disqualifications.

Reformers have welcomed Khamenei's intervention but say they are waiting to see how the council will interpret the order. Khamenei also told the council to "resist bullying tactics" by some lawmakers.

"We have seen no positive step by the council so far and there is no guarantee that there will be free elections. We will begin fasting as of Saturday to step up our campaign," Khatami said.

The protesting lawmakers said their sit-in will continue until all disqualified candidates are allowed to run in the upcoming polls.

"We are defending the basic right of all Iranians to choose and be chosen," said Meysam Saeidi, another reformist lawmaker disqualified from the election.

"This is the final battle for democracy in Iran where hard-liners seek to impose brazen dictatorship through sham elections. There is no way to give in," he said.

Khamenei, who holds ultimate say in Iran, is seen as the leader of hard-liners, but has reined them in on occasion in the past to prevent an overt clash with liberals.

He met council members Wednesday and told them that incumbent legislators, who already have been approved by the council for past elections, should be deemed qualified to run "unless it's proven otherwise."

For new candidates, he said, "logical and common qualification is sufficient, and there is no need for further investigation."

Iran's 27 provincial governors have vowed to resign by Monday unless disqualifications are reversed. Khatami's administration has indicated it may not even hold the elections if disqualifications aren't reversed.

Hard-liners, who control unelected bodies including the judiciary, have thwarted the president's reform plans for years.

The Feb. 20 elections are seen as a test for Iran's reformers, whose popularity has waned because of their perceived failure to deliver on promises of liberalization.

Reformists believe the ruling Islamic establishment needs to become more open and respect the demands of its overwhelmingly youthful population and accuse hard-liners of seeking to impose dictatorship in the name of Islam.

But hard-liners hope to prevent a parliament dominated by reformers, who have sought profound changes and support Western-style democracy, which the conservatives say is against the principles of the 1979 Islamic revolution.
24 posted on 01/16/2004 1:07:38 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: freedom44
"The program broadcasted by this French TV was the original 40 minutes documentary shown by the English "Channel 4" and not the 20 minutes censored program shown on the American PBS. The original program shows scenes of stonning and amputation processes along with interviews made with families of slained opponents, such as, the late Foroohars. "

Thanks for this info. It seemed strange that it was only 20 mins long. We got the "watered-down" version.
Great to hear the Europeans are getting the real thing.
The EU needs to change their position on Iran. Hopefully pressure from the people will make a difference.
25 posted on 01/16/2004 3:20:26 PM PST by nuconvert ( "It had only one fault. It was kind of lousy.")
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To: DoctorZIn

26 posted on 01/16/2004 4:47:19 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn; AdmSmith; Pan_Yans Wife; F14 Pilot; PhilDragoo; freedom44
The Splits

David Warren/1-14-03

The Syrian president, Bashir Assad, may soon have a bigger problem with Hezbollah than Israel has. This is because, after a generation of hosting the most psychopathic arm of Iran's psychopathic theocracy, Mr. Assad no longer wants to know them. His minority Alawite, Baathist dictatorship, which Hezbollah has helped to sustain over the years, suddenly finds itself in a position where it must make new friends. Specifically, it is in urgent need of better relations with Turkey, the United States, and Israel; and Hezbollah is not popular with any of them.

It isn't in the forefront of the news, but the Syrian dictatorship is under huge and growing pressure from an increasingly impatient Bush administration to stop the terrorist insurgency into Iraq through Syria. The U.S. also wants Syria to open to Western inspection, as Libya has just done, the Assad regime's illicit weapons programmes, and for them to surrender Saddamite agents and weapons that they are almost certainly hiding.

This at a time when Syria has never been so isolated within the Arab world. It is now surrounded by American allies on all sides, except for a small patch of oceanfront, and the former state of Lebanon, which it continues to occupy in defiance of all international law. And Damascus is the headquarters for about a dozen Jihadist organizations whose senior members are on almost everyone's most-wanted list.

Imad Fayez Mughniyeh is among them -- Hezbollah's ingenious operations chief, mastermind of innumerable very bloody incidents, including the bombings of the U.S. embassy and marine barracks in Beirut back in 1983. The Americans want him very, very badly.

President Assad continued to offer lip service to the "Islamic revolution" months after that ceased to be fashionable, with the fall of Baghdad. He briefly imagined himself filling the fallen Saddam Hussein's shoes as the rhetorical champion of the "oppressed Arabs". He did this, I believe, more out of stupidity than from any other motive. With the passage of months, it became obvious to him and to his advisers that they were isolated, abroad. Worse, they became increasingly isolated at home, where the televised sight of Iraqis celebrating the overthrow of Baathism in the streets of Baghdad was putting ideas into the streets of Damascus.

The back-pedalling now is frenetic. Last week, Mr. Assad went on an appeasement tour of Turkey, the northern neighbour that almost invaded Syria in 1998 -- before his father and predecessor evicted the Kurdish guerrilla leader, Abdullah Ocalan, and shopped his Damascus-based terror operations to the Turks.

The Turks strongly advised, as the Americans had been doing, that it was time for Syria to make peace with Israel; and this week Mr. Assad is wrestling with his own past vows, in order to make that possible. There were semi-secret Israeli-Syrian negotiations for the return of the Golan Heights in exchange for a Sadat-style recognition of Israel's legitimacy, that ended in the year 2000. These should shortly resume.

But, not yet able to acknowledge domestically the evaporation of his negotiating position, Mr. Assad cannot stop blustering. Yesterday, he turned down publicly and rather contemptuously an invitation from Israel's president, Moshe Katsav, to visit Israel directly. He insists that the negotiations with Israel resume from where they left off, rather than starting again from scratch. This latter position is pure buffoonery, since the two sides would have to negotiate even to agree where the last negotiations left off.

His justified fear of the U.S. has him making distance from Hezbollah's chief sponsor, the ayatollahs' Iran, and possibly shopping minor terror assets quietly. Iran's ayatollahs in turn are making their own cautious concessions to the U.S., in light of Iraq. Such splits are happening throughout the region, as various regimes manoeuvre to assure their own survival in the face of a post-Saddam earthquake. Even Saudi Arabia is making discreet overtures to Israel, about an eventual peace treaty that could leave the Palestinians as diplomatically isolated as the Assad regime now finds itself.

But no such negotiations are easy, given the past. There is too much rhetoric to climb down from quickly.

One of the diplomatic difficulties for statesmen from democratic countries, is the Arab leaders' unfamiliarity with the exigencies of electoral politics. I am not being sarcastic about this -- I've been told by people who have had firsthand experience, that even so urbane a leader as Egypt's Hosni Mubarak genuinely fails to understand what it might be like to have an electorate.

In the case of Bashir Assad, who, like his father before him, compounds imaginative with other intellectual disabilities, the problem is especially acute. He persists in making ludicrous demands, for the sake of his public image. He does not understand, for instance, that no prime minister of Israel can give away the Golan Heights, as a precondition for having a conversation with him. This is because a substantial majority of Israelis, many of whom still remember that the Golan Heights were used prior to their conquest in 1967 as a platform from which to rain shells down upon lower-lying Israeli villages, would rather keep the high ground. They might give it back, but not for nothing.

On the other hand, Mr. Assad has a political problem, that we fail to appreciate fully: that if he does make peace with Israel, Hezbollah will skin him alive.
27 posted on 01/16/2004 6:37:14 PM PST by nuconvert ( "It had only one fault. It was kind of lousy.")
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To: AdmSmith; Pan_Yans Wife; F14 Pilot; PhilDragoo; freedom44; knighthawk; Eala; seamole; Valin

David Warren/1-17-04

Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Husaini al-Sistani, Iraq's highest-ranking Shia cleric, has begun seriously throwing his weight around in Iraq, helping to organize a demonstration in Basra yesterday of tens of thousands of Shia faithful, to chant "No to America!" and demand immediate mass elections -- in a country which has not had a reliable census in several decades, and where the infrastructure for a fair general election does not yet exist. Raising the temperature further, the second-ranking Shia cleric, Hojat Al-Islam Ali Abdulhakim Alsafi, has written a sarcastic public letter to President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair, that is being read in all the mosques.

The Shia of Iraq are not an homogenous and discrete ethnic group. Most are racially and linguistically Arab, which alone distinguishes them from the Shia of Iran. While their numbers are overwhelming in the southern third of Iraq, they may be found everywhere; and among Arab Iraqis, there is some degree of shading between Shia and Sunni sects. Unknown, but very large proportions are not religious; and the tribal orders of the countryside break down in Basra and other large cities. And not all the devoted pay their respects to Ayatollah Sistani.

Nevertheless, Sistani has more prestige than anyone in Iraq, and when he commands the faithful to take to the streets, his orders are echoed in the Friday prayers, and reinforced by stick-wielding zealots.

More fundamentally, power corrupts. I fear that Iraq's Shia clerics and their camp followers have only begun to get a taste of power, and their appetite for it will grow quickly as they acquire more. This in a country with no experience of give-and-take, no machinery of checks and balances -- things which take decades or centuries to grow, and require stability.

This is evident in Ayatollah Sistani's own proclamations. He began by counselling Iraqis to co-operate with U.S. and British troops, and by declaring that he had no political aspirations. While he still plays the role of a purely religious leader, he has surrounded himself with political operatives. His demands have become more strident, and are now coupled with threats. He adds new demands to further increase the pressure: most recently saying that the snap election must be combined with a referendum on whether U.S. troops should be allowed to stay.

The U.S. position is constrained, thrice over. 1. Since the Iraqi people were not defeated, but liberated from a tyrant by the U.S. invasion, the U.S. does not have the luxury of dictating to the conquered. 2. Since it refused to install the secular-Shia Ahmed Chalabi as an "Iraqi Karzai" for moderate forces to rally around, it has left the Shia clerics to fish the whole pool. 3. The Bush administration further gave away its key wild-card trading position. It has publicly declared it will not consider breaking the country into three or more constituent national parts (say, Kurdistan, a Sunni-majority "Upper Mesopotamia", and a Shia-majority "Lower Mesopotamia"). The threat of this last would be the natural trump against a Shia power-play.

It could become a threat regardless, for the Shia clerical muscle-flexing is already making the Kurdish leadership feel claustrophobic. They have had the pleasure of governing themselves, and have done a good job of creating a fairly open and prosperous society in the part of Iraq that was put under the protection of the allied no-fly zone after the Gulf War. They are powerfully allergic to mullahs whose sense of reality is evaporating.

And the Sunni Triangle, which the American soldiers are finally getting under control (violent incidents and casualties dropping week by week), could suddenly re-erupt as people who did well out of Saddam Hussein's tribal Sunni dictatorship, contemplate the prospect of the U.S. delivering the country into the hands of their most lethal enemies. They know the Americans won't massacre them; but they also know that the Shia have scores to settle with them. Their solution has always been, strike first.

Paul Bremer, the chief U.S. administrator in Iraq, is currently in the States with a delegation of the Iraqi governing council under its present rotating chairman Adnan Pachachi. While Mr. Bremer again consults anxiously with the White House on what to do, Mr. Pachachi is leading an American-backed Iraqi appeal to the United Nations in New York, to please get involved in the Iraqi transition. Once again, U.N. cover is wanted to take some of the heat off the U.S. But as we've seen in the past, the last thing the U.N. wants to do is to be helpful.

The Bush administration has pulled off so many miracles in Iraq so far, that they should not be counted out for another. But they are now playing with a bad hand, against people who anyway cheat at poker. They have no motive to raise the stakes; the trick now is to cut their losses.
28 posted on 01/16/2004 6:43:41 PM PST by nuconvert ( "It had only one fault. It was kind of lousy.")
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To: DoctorZIn
Oh gee, you mean a whole fasting?

That'll make them change their minds..

"fasting", now that's dangerous..
29 posted on 01/16/2004 9:47:38 PM PST by freedom44
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To: DoctorZIn
Appears strange to me.

Strange that the European media is paying more attention to this broadcast than we are.

30 posted on 01/16/2004 9:49:01 PM PST by freedom44
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To: DoctorZIn

Get Iraqis on their own.

by Amir Taheri
National Review Online
January 16, 2004

Is the Bush administration having second thoughts about its plan to transfer power to an interim Iraqi government by the end of June?

The question is raised by recent remarks made by officials in Washington and Baghdad about possible delays in implementing the plan. The cited source of their doubts is a statement made last Sunday by Grand Ayatollah Ali Muhammad Sistani, the most prominent religious leader of Iraqi Shiites.

Sistani's comment was a response to a group of unnamed "believers" who wished to know what he thought of the plan to set up an interim government. The ayatollah replied: "The ideal mechanism is an election, which many experts believe is possible to hold within the next months with an acceptable level of transparency and credibility."

The Coalition plan, however, envisages a process of selecting the interim government through a number of caucuses and informal consultations with ethnic, tribal, religious, and political groups. The Coalition authorities, and almost all Iraqi political parties, believe that the country is not yet ready for free and fair elections, and that an interim government representing all strands of opinion is the best option.

Thus, Sistani's call for elections is seen by some officials in Washington and Baghdad as a definitive rejection of the current plan. But this is a dangerous misreading not only of Sistani's intentions, but also of the role that the Shiite clergy should play in a future democratic Iraq.

To begin with, Sistani's statement is a fatwa, which means an opinion, and not a decree or an edict, as some U.S. officials, including L. Paul Bremer, the Coalition's chief civilian administrator, seem to believe.

In Shiism, as in Islam in general, no religious expert (mujtahid) has the authority to issue either a decree or an edict. There are no popes and cardinals in Islam, and the opinion of one religious expert could be challenged or even contradicted by another's. Believers refer to experts when they feel they cannot find the proper answer to a question on their own. If they find the answer given by one expert inadequate or unreasonable, they can always refer to another expert or revert to their own judgment. In other words, the religious expert in Islam is like a medical doctor whose diagnosis may be challenged or rejected by a second opinion.

All of this is based on a key principle of Islam: the notion that an individual bears sole responsibility for his actions. There is no confession or excommunication. The believer has a duty to consult as widely as he can before he acts on any matter, yet in the end, the decision is his, and his alone.

This principle, however, has been challenged however, notably the late Ayatollah Ruhallah Khomeini. They claim that most Muslims, being poor and illiterate, lack the knowledge and moral strength needed to make correct decisions. They call the masses the mustazafeen, meaning "the enfeebled ones".

"The mustazafeen need the guardianship of the theologians, as much as sheep need a shepherd," Khomeini wrote almost 50 years ago. It was on that principle that Khomeini based his Islamic republic in Iran in 1979 and wrote a constitution under which a mullah, designated as "The Supreme Guide," has absolute power beyond the wildest dreams of even the most despotic monarch.

Sistani understands all this perfectly. For almost 50 years he has been in the camp of those who have defended mainstream Islam against Khomeinist and other deviations from the faith. Thus Sistani would be the last person to claim that he has any authority to dictate what the people of Iraq should or should not do. It would be a supreme irony if this veteran anti-Khomeinist cleric is transformed into an Iraqi version of the ayatollah by Bremer and company.

To be sure, the Coalition authorities must respect Sistani, not only because it is good politics but also, and perhaps especially, because he deserves the highest degree of respect. Sistani should also be consulted, albeit not directly by occupation officials, on all issues just as other prominent Iraqi citizens are. But it would be wrong to treat Sistani as a political leader of Iraqi Shiites. When it comes to taking and applying political decisions, the Coalition must deal with Iraqi politicians. Dragging Sistani into politics is bad for Iraq, bad for him, and bad for the Coalition.

How, then, should one take Sistani's latest opinion? The cleric says that holding elections is the "ideal," and not the only, mechanism for forming an interim government. This means that if his ideal mechanism were proved unrealistic by present circumstances he would be prepared to change his opinion. This could be done with the help of the Governing Council, whose current chairman, Adnan Pachachi, is in contact with Sistani and the United Nations, whose experts agree that Iraq is not ready for elections.

But even if, at the end of the day, Sistani remains unconvinced, that should not bring the whole process to a halt. It is unlikely that Iraqi Shiites would be foolish enough to repeat their mistake of 1920 and choose to stay out of the nation's political life. Holding elections is not a religious duty, but a matter of political expediency. The Koran calls for consultation (shawr), and not elections in the Western democratic sense, as a key for legitimizing any government.

I do, however, happen to agree with Sistani that the ideal way to form an interim Iraqi government is through free and fair elections. I also share Sistani's belief that such elections, though extremely difficult to organize, are not impossible to hold.

Having said that, the responsibility for Iraq lies with the Coalition and the Governing Council, not with any theologian or media commentator. Theologians and media commentators, and others who might contribute to the debate, must be heard. But the ultimate decision, legally and morally, rests with the Coalition. If a premature attempt at holding elections leads to disaster, it won't be Sistani or any media commentator who will pay the political, and other, costs of failure.

What's most needed now is for Iraq's governance to be handed over to the Iraqis, as quickly as possible. I doubt that Sistani would want to be held responsible for postponing the transfer of power to the Iraqis and for prolonging the occupation. The Coalition rejects the election option not because it is technically difficult, but because the results cannot be pre-scripted.

Sistani is right, and the Coalition is wrong. But this is not the end of the world: Iraq has been liberated and will have plenty of free elections in future. Emerging from half a century of despotism, terror, and war, the people of Iraq cannot afford a prolonged period of uncertainty. They need a clear political roadmap that, though it may not be ideal, would nonetheless suffice in guiding them through a difficult period of transition.

— Amir Taheri is an NRO contributor and the Iranian author of ten books on the Middle East and Islam. He is reachable through
31 posted on 01/16/2004 10:17:52 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn

A P.C. mess.

by Michael A. Ledeen
National Review Online
January 16, 2004

We are now making the Afghans and the Iraqis pay a terrible price for American political correctness, and the price is being exacted by our diplomats and misnamed "strategists." The fundamental error — enshrined, as the splendid Diane Ravitch has recently explained in her stellar work on American history textbooks — is the belief that American political and civic culture is just one among many, no better and quite likely considerably worse, than most. Hence we have no right to tell anyone, here or elsewhere, how they should behave.

This leads inevitably to one of Jerry Bremer's favorite dicta, which is that the United States policy in Iraq must be "even-handed." We will not support one party, or group, or faction, against the others. We're not going to take sides. We will manage things in such a way that all Iraqis will have a fair shot at political participation, and then we will let the Iraqis decide what they want.

That doctrine is lethal to freedom in the Middle East, where none of the many active tyrants in the region has the slightest interest in even-handedness. The tyrants want to survive, and if at all possible, to win. They do not want free societies or polities in Iraq and Afghanistan, because they fear the spread of freedom to their own countries, which would spell their doom. So they are feverishly supporting their own tyrannical kind under the benevolent noses of American overseers. The Saudis, Iranians, Syrians, and others are pouring money, mullahs, imams, killers, and political enforcers into the recently liberated countries. They are spending millions of dollars to blanket Iraq with anti-American, fanatical broadcasts from an amazing number of radio and television stations (Iran alone is running more than ten of them), and they are supporting those Iraqis who will push for Islamic tyrannies in both countries.

Our misguided notion of even-handedness is in effect a surrender to the forces of tyranny. We do nothing to support the pro-democratic, basically secular groups and parties, we in fact have long withheld funding (despite laws and appropriations to the contrary) from the Iraqi National Congress — a pro-American, democratic, inclusive, and even multicultural umbrella group — and we have recently acquiesced in legislation in both Iraq and Afghanistan that gives Islamic law — sharia — privileged standing, specifically in civil marriage and inheritance procedures.

No wonder the Baghdad dentist who operates writes caustically "I'm so happy about this, now I can marry and divorce in any way I like. Yay! I'm at the moment gathering family members to go to the local cleric so I can divorce my fourth wife which I don't really like anymore, and get myself an 11 year-old virgin. All the other small details will be settled within the family and with the blessings of the Sayid."

President Bush should tremble at the thought that all our efforts to bring democracy to the Middle East will, instead, replace one form of tyranny with another. He should have been outraged when our ambassador plenipotentiary in Kabul, Zalmay Khalilzad, twice accepted the definition of Afghanistan as an Islamic republic. He should intervene to stop (Islamic) legal proceedings against two Afghan women now charged with "blasphemy" for questioning the desirability of giving sharia special status in the new national constitution. And he should insist that Americans not fight, and even die, for the creation of yet more theocratic states in the Middle East.

All this is the inevitable result of the doctrines of political correctness, which make it socially unacceptable to state the simple truth that the United States has developed a superior political culture, one of the crucial elements of which is the separation of church and state. When Alexis de Tocqueville recognized this act of genius in the early 1830s, he marveled that it made both politics and religion stronger and more responsive to the needs of their followers, and he urged Europeans to adopt it. Scholar after scholar, including some of the best of the Islamic world, have recognized that an excessive intrusion of certain Islamic precepts into civil society has contributed mightily to the lack of freedom, creativity and even scientific knowledge. The liberation of Iraq and Afghanistan gave hope that the region's long decline might be reversed. Yet our own leaders, on the ground and back in Washington, are permitting one of the main elements in the ruin of the region to reassume its dominant role.

Our diplomats are clearly not as prepared to fight politically for democracy as our soldiers fought militarily to remove the Taliban and Baathist tyrannies. Yet both are integral parts of the same war, and should be waged with equal conviction and equal intensity. The difference seems to be that our soldiers had no doubt of the legitimacy of the American cause, while the diplomats and strategists — in the Pentagon and the National Security Council as in Foggy Bottom — are afraid to assert it and fight those who challenge it.

We've made a terrible mess. As "riverbend" — another Iraqi blogger — puts it: "This is going to open new doors for repression in the most advanced country on women's rights in the Arab world! Men are also against this (although they certainly have the upper-hand in the situation) because it's going to mean more confusion and conflict all around." But our guys won't risk criticism for being politically incorrect, by fighting for our values, and insisting that our wisdom be used to create a better and freer Middle East.
32 posted on 01/16/2004 10:20:04 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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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”

33 posted on 01/17/2004 12:13:18 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
2 interesting pictures of Sistani; David Warren's and Amir Taheri's.

Warren's Sistani has "tens of thousands of Shia faithful shouting "No to America" and "when he commands the faithful to take to the streets, his orders are echoed in the Friday prayers, and reinforced by stick-wielding zealots."
"He began by counselling Iraqis to co-operate with U.S. and British troops, and by declaring that he had no political aspirations."
"While he still plays the role of a purely religious leader, he has surrounded himself with political operatives. His demands have become more strident, and are now coupled with threats. He adds new demands to further increase the pressure: most recently saying that the snap election must be combined with a referendum on whether U.S. troops should be allowed to stay."

While Taheri paints a different picture of Sistani.He says Sistani's statement is a fatwa, which means an opinion, and not a decree or an edict..."
And he says, "Sistani would be the last person to claim that he has any authority to dictate what the people of Iraq should or should not do."
"The cleric says that holding elections is the "ideal," and not the only, mechanism for forming an interim government"

Warren and Taheri do seem to agree that Sistani shouldn't be allowed to dictate politics. According to Taheri, "Dragging Sistani into politics is bad for Iraq, bad for him, and bad for the Coalition." I agree. And as Taheri writes, "the responsibility for Iraq lies with the Coalition and the Governing Council, not with any theologian or media commentator." And the "Governing Council, believes "that Iraq is not ready for elections."

If that's the view of the Governing Council and the Coalition agrees, then it would seem chairman Pachachi's job, to speak with Sistani and try to persuade him to see things their way. Hopefully it won't take "the Bush administration... pull(ing) off a miracle", as David Warren puts it, in order to resolve this situation.

34 posted on 01/17/2004 8:57:18 PM PST by nuconvert ( "It had only one fault. It was kind of lousy.")
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To: DoctorZIn
I do, however, happen to agree with Sistani that the ideal way to form an interim Iraqi government is through free and fair elections. I also share Sistani's belief that such elections, though extremely difficult to organize, are not impossible to hold.

It is the timetable that makes this difficult, not that the people do not deserve a voice in their government. How does the CPA impliment elections, within the limited amount of time, and maintain legitimacy? Are we entering a crisis?

35 posted on 01/18/2004 9:42:13 AM PST by Pan_Yans Wife (He who has never hoped can never despair.)
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To: nuconvert; faludeh_shirazi; DoctorZIn
Can I ask something?

Rajavi sounds like some piece of work.

I notice that faludeh_shirazi posted this thread, which essentially was an ad for a fundraiser for Bam and regime change in Iran. Two worthy causes, but as we know sometimes worthy sounding causes are not what they seem.

I notice that the domain is registered to the same guy who resistered the domain for the political arm of Rajavi's group, and the same guy who registered a website for Rajavi's defense (awfully similar to the Free Mumia websites).

Not only did the same guy register all of them, they all are hosted on the exact same machine.

Can you guys explain that? What exactly are the opinions of the MEK/MKO here? What are the opinions of Rajavi?

Also, I have noticed quite a few ties between the SMCCDI and the TransNational Radical Party. What exactly is going on with that? What opinions of that do you all have?

36 posted on 01/23/2004 3:31:26 PM PST by William McKinley
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To: William McKinley
First, since this caught my eye, TransNational Radical Party, I have to say I'm not familiar with them, though they are listed on the U.N.'s web site. Maybe someone else has information.

When it comes to charities, research is required to be assured that a donation is going to the desired recipient. The issue of charities was of some concern to me also, immediately following the Bam earthquake. People mean well, but you have to do your homework on these charities if you want to be sure.

"What exactly are the opinions of the MEK/MKO here? What are the opinions of Rajavi?"

Not quite sure what you're asking.
37 posted on 01/23/2004 4:33:00 PM PST by nuconvert ( It's a naive domestic Burgundy without any breeding, ..I think you'll be amused by its presumption)
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To: nuconvert
You are so very right on the charities. Face it, bad people lie about their motives and have no hesitation in using tragedy as a way to raise money for their causes.

What I was asking regarding Rajavi and the Mujahdeen is if they are looked at kindly by anyone here. I would hope not, but if so I'd be interested in hearing some rationale.

As for the TRP, I know a quite bit about them, enough to know that seeing them involved with the SMCCDI makes me wonder.

38 posted on 01/23/2004 4:38:39 PM PST by William McKinley
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To: William McKinley
MEK and Rajavi are Not looked upon kindly by Me. They aren't looked upon kindly by the people in Iran and I'm not aware of anyone who does.
39 posted on 01/23/2004 5:03:23 PM PST by nuconvert ( It's a naive domestic Burgundy without any breeding, ..I think you'll be amused by its presumption)
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