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Iranian Alert -- January 21, 2004 -- IRAN LIVE THREAD --Americans for Regime Change in Iran
The Iranian Student Movement Up To The Minute Reports ^ | 1.21.2004 | DoctorZin

Posted on 01/21/2004 12:09:13 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
KEYWORDS: iaea; iran; iranianalert; iranquake; protests; southasia; studentmovement; studentprotest
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Join Us At Today's Iranian Alert Thread – The Most Underreported Story Of The Year!

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

1 posted on 01/21/2004 12:09:14 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 01/21/2004 12:12:06 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
Movement endorses France decision on banning religious symbols from state schools

SMCCDI (Information Service)
Jan 21, 2004

The Movement has expressed its support of France's decision on banning religious symbols from state schools. This support has been expressed formally by Kaveh Mohseni, the SMCCDI's representative in France, and by Aryo Pirouznia, SMCCDI's Coordinator, in the form of Public letters or interviews made with French and Persian media.

Mohseni who has written a letter to the French President, on January 7th by supporting the conclusions of the official commission, and has made several interviews with French media sources, such as the "Proche Orient Info"; Has sent, today, a second letter for the attention of Mr. Staci head of the official commission by expressing the Movement's constant support and reminding him of the dangers posed by the religious fanatism. The SMCCDI's representative in France has requested the change of French policy in reference to Iran and this country's public support of the Iranian Nation in order to reach Secularity and Democracy.

"Your support of Iran's Secular and Democratic forces will be what will help to create long standing relations between our 2 people" he has stated in parts of these two letters available on the "Documents" section of the French version of this website.

From the other part, Pirouznia who was speaking, yesterday, to the abroad based "Azadi TV" denounced the Islamic regime's policy of demagogy and its constant try to enflame the religious feelings of naive believers. Reacting to the regime's governmental TV and statement, the SMCCDI's Coordinator stated: " The French decision has nothing against Islam. Banning of any religious or sectarian signs is a general French principle dating from 1905 Separation of State and Church in this country and especially from the Jules Ferry law intending to fight against any discrimination in public schools and buildings. This interdiction is not only for Islamic symbols, such as veil, but also for Christian, Jewish or even Anarchists signs in these institutions."

"the Islamic regime is here by simulating that this French decision is targeting Islam while the Mufti of Cairo has expressly confirmed that the measure has nothing to do against it. We're witnessing, here again, the correct reaction of some of the Islamist scholars as we are still witnessing the gesticulations of the Iranian mullahs and their Arab paid mercenaries in some European cities in a desperate try to detourn the attentions from the real source of problems meaning themselves... I hope that the mullahs actions and demagogy will serve as a lesson to those French officials who are making of themselves the "Allies du Diable" (allies of Evil) as they say." Pirouznia added.
3 posted on 01/21/2004 12:13:02 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
Pressure on North Korea, Iran


(CNN) --South Korea has given a cautious welcome to U.S. President George W. Bush's pledge to keep weapons of mass destruction out of the "hands of the world's most dangerous regimes."

Japan was more upbeat, describing Bush's speech as a strong message that the U.S. is committed to world peace.

Bush singled out North Korea and Iran in his annual State of the Union address on Tuesday and vowed America would not allow them to pursue WMD programs.

North Korea has been pushing for a lifting of sanctions, economic and fuel aid, and a security commitment from the U.S. before it gives up its nuclear ambitions -- repeated consistently since October 2002 when U.S. officials said Pyongyang admitted to secretly pursuing a nuclear weapons program in violation of a 1994 treaty.

The White House has refused the demands saying it will not be blackmailed into concession, and has been seeking to resolve the standoff via diplomatic channels in cooperation with other nations in the region. However, international talks aimed at finding a resolution have so far achieved little.

South Korea's Foreign Ministry on Wednesday said Bush's speech reinforced Washington's consistent hard-line stance against weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and their proliferation.

The ministry also said Bush hasn't dramatically changed his stance since he branded Iran and North Korea, along with Iraq, an "axis of evil" two years ago.

After applauding Libya for its disclosure and promise to dismantle its WMD programs -- achieved, Bush said, through nine months of "intense negotiations" -- the U.S. president admitted "different threats require different strategies."

"Along with other nations in the region, we are insisting that North Korea eliminate its nuclear program. American and the international community are demanding that Iran meet its commitments and not develop nuclear weapons," Bush said.

South Korea applauded Bush for contrasting the case of North Korea with the recent positive example of Libya and also Iraq's Saddam Hussein regime, which was toppled by a U.S.-led invasion.

"The U.S. president clearly sent a message that North Korea should come out to negotiate and not ignore the nuclear issue," ministry spokesman Shin Bong-kil said, noting Seoul had not yet fully digested the speech.

In Tokyo, Japan's foreign ministry also welcomed Bush's renewed promise to use multi-nation dialogue to try and end the North Korean standoff.

"We are pleased President Bush committed to international cooperation to the reconstruction of Iraq and also in resolution of the North Korean issue," ministry spokesman Hatsuhisa Takashima told CNN.

"The message was very strong and we are pleased President Bush not only emphasized the importance of protecting American people but he is also committed to world peace."

Japan -- a close U.S. ally that has been involved in diplomatic efforts to resolve the North Korean crisis -- has recently dispatched an advance team of ground troops to pave the way for a larger deployment of soldiers to assist in humanitarian projects in Iraq.

Hatsuhisa said the troop dispatch was proof Tokyo shared the same commitment as Bush in the reconstruction of Iraq as well as the ongoing fight against terrorism.

Elsewhere, there little immediate response to the State of the Union address.

North Korea and Iran did not immediately respond to the speech.

Tehran three months ago promised to halt uranium enrichment -- a key process in the manufacture of nuclear weapons.

But international efforts to ensure a fragile agreement negotiated in October to avert a looming crisis appear to be failing with experts and Western diplomats concerned Iran may be reneging on the deal.

There were no indications that any of China's government controlled television stations carried the speech live.

Internet news reports on state-run focused on Bush's defense of the Iraq war as well as the continuing war on terror. The China Daily used's coverage of the State of the Union address.
4 posted on 01/21/2004 12:17:59 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
Some ministers have resigned.
5 posted on 01/21/2004 3:09:17 AM PST by AdmSmith
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To: AdmSmith
TEHRAN, Jan 21 (AFP) -- A number of Iranian Ministers and vice presidents have submitted their resignations in protest at the mass disqualification of candidates from next month's election, and will quit the cabinet unless hardliners back down, Vice President Mohammad Ali Abtahi said Wednesday.

"A certain number of ministers and vice-presidents have resigned," Abtahi told reporters after a meeting of the reformist government.

But he said those concerned would stay in their jobs to await the outcome of the re-examination of its candidate blacklist by the Guardians Council, the conservative political watchdog that has moved to bar large numbers of reformers from contesting the February 20 parliamentary polls.

"It is natural that they wait for the outcome of the work" of the Guardians Council, Abtahi said, without naming the cabinet members who had decided to resign.
6 posted on 01/21/2004 3:14:37 AM PST by AdmSmith
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To: AdmSmith
How many have resigned? And will they renege, if they learn that their disqualification has been overturned?
7 posted on 01/21/2004 4:25:51 AM PST by Pan_Yans Wife (He who has never hoped can never despair.)
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To: Pan_Yans Wife; AdmSmith
"would stay in their jobs to await the outcome of the re-examination of its candidate blacklist by the Guardians Council,"

This sounds to me like their resignations don't mean much.
8 posted on 01/21/2004 4:34:45 AM PST by nuconvert ( "It had only one fault. It was kind of lousy.")
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To: nuconvert
Then once again, it appears that their tactics have more to do with retaining their position, than in outrage over the hardliner's tactics.
9 posted on 01/21/2004 4:36:15 AM PST by Pan_Yans Wife (He who has never hoped can never despair.)
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To: Pan_Yans Wife
Angry outbursts, sit-ins, dawn 'til dusk fasts, "resignations",........dramatic, isn't it? ; )
10 posted on 01/21/2004 4:41:15 AM PST by nuconvert ( "It had only one fault. It was kind of lousy.")
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To: AdmSmith
This whole drama seems like a way for the Guardian Council to rid themselves of a few trouble-makers, but get the public more interested in voting. They knew the people were getting fed-up with all of them and planning on staying away from the polls. So why not stir things up and get people emotionally charged? Votes for the reformists, looks better than no voting at all. They just went over-board disqualifying too many. But that fits the definition of fanatic, doesn't it?
11 posted on 01/21/2004 5:03:35 AM PST by nuconvert ( "It had only one fault. It was kind of lousy.")
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To: nuconvert
I do not think that everything was staged. The GC is really doing what they think is the best. Naturally, it is madness, but they think it is the right thing. However, IF the government really resigns and calls upon the Iranians to protest against the GC then the events can get a life of its own.

However, I think that Khatami is more an academic than a politician, so he will be the chicken.
12 posted on 01/21/2004 5:24:36 AM PST by AdmSmith
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To: AdmSmith; nuconvert
Addendum: As Khatami is in Davos, the resignation is not yet a real move. Khatami will probably make some announcement on changes in the economic regulations in Iran(privatizations?) and speak about the need for foreign investments. The audience will say that they have heard this before and need something more than just talk.
13 posted on 01/21/2004 5:34:29 AM PST by AdmSmith
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To: AdmSmith
Khatami's past inactions prove he's "chicken".

"IF the government really resigns and calls upon the Iranians to protest against the GC then the events can get a life of its own."

Yes. This would be great....but I don't think it's going to happen.

And where is Rafsanjani? Awfully quiet, isn't he?

14 posted on 01/21/2004 5:42:24 AM PST by nuconvert ( "It had only one fault. It was kind of lousy.")
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To: nuconvert
Rafsanjani is counting his money.

Is it possible to see if he has sold his stakes in the companies listed in Tehran? (I think that he started to divest last year...)
15 posted on 01/21/2004 6:15:14 AM PST by AdmSmith
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To: AdmSmith; DoctorZIn; nuconvert; Pan_Yans Wife; freedom44; RaceBannon; seamole; Valin; McGavin999; ..
West says Iran still enriching uranium

The Washington Times
21st of Jan, 2004

LONDON, Jan. 21 (UPI) -- Western diplomats say Iran has breached its promise and has begun enriching uranium again, The Daily Telegraph reported Wednesday.

The enrichment process is a crucial step in producing nuclear weapons.

"This is clearly a breach," one diplomat told the newspaper. "The goal is cessation of enrichment and we are moving in the opposite direction."

Iran says it had only "temporarily" suspended operation of the gas centrifuges to enrich uranium and insists it has a right to make fuel for nuclear reactors to generate electricity.

The latest disclosure could undermine the fragile agreement negotiated in October by Britain, France and Germany to avert a new crisis over weapons of mass destruction.

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw met his German and French counterparts Monday to discuss Iran and other issues.
16 posted on 01/21/2004 7:04:04 AM PST by F14 Pilot (Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists.)
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To: DoctorZIn
Straw to Meet Khatami in Davos Today

January 21, 2004
The Financial Times
James Blitz, Christopher Adams and Robert Graham

The British, French and German foreign ministers this week held a private three-way meeting near London in another indication of how the UK is seeking to boost its trilateral relationship with Paris and Berlin in the newly enlarged European Union.

None of the countries' foreign ministries gave any briefing on Jack Straw's private meeting with Dominique de Villepin of France and Joschka Fischer of Germany at Mr Straw's official country residence at Chevening in Kent on Monday night.

However, the meeting comes amid growing indications that the three countries are developing a co-ordinated approach to a variety of international issues, such as the possession by Iran of weapons of mass destruction and European defence and budgetary affairs.

According to one senior foreign office official, both Tony Blair, prime minister, and Mr Straw want London to hold trilateral policy meetings with their Paris and Berlin counterparts about every six weeks. Both men are thought to believe that when the EU enlarges to 25 members in May, business will best be done among small groups of nations.

"You cannot really discuss policy among 25. You can vote on it but not really have real, free discussion," said the official.

Developments in Iran are almost certain to have been one of the main issues discussed at Chevening, not least because Mr Straw is due to meet President Mohammad Khatami at the annual World Economic Forum in Davos today.

The tripartite mission of the British, French and German foreign ministers to Tehran last year led to Iran's decision to accept heightened international inspections of its nuclear programme, as an example of enhanced EU co-operation.

But the prospect of the Iranian authorities refusing to deliver on these pledges of nuclear co-operation has increased as hardline elements in the Tehran regime tighten their grip ahead of national elections.

The changing situation in Iran threatens to undermine the credibility of the three ministers' action in heading off a confrontation between Tehran and Washington on the nuclear issue.

Against this backdrop, Britain, France and Germany have every interest in examining ways to maintain pressure on Iran to comply with its diplomatic undertaking to halt developing the nuclear cycle for military purposes.

With the Pakistani government also cracking down on scientists believed to have passed nuclear secrets to Iran, Libya and North Korea, there is also a chance to confront Tehran with hard evidence of its plans to harness its nuclear programme to military ends.

France also remains deeply concerned about Syria's refusal to listen to any friendly advice over how to lessen US hostility towards Damascus. Recently Syria rejected an offer of talks with Israel and the Syrian regime still remains deeply embedded in Lebanon. But a tripartite mission to Syria would not be undertaken unless some gesture was likely to be forthcoming from the Syrian regime.
17 posted on 01/21/2004 7:31:34 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
Torch Bearer for Iran's Pragmatic Conservatives

January 21, 2004
The Financial Times
Gareth Smyth

For the past week Iranian television has followed the parliamentary "sit-in" of reformist deputies after the Guardian Council excluded 80 of them from next month's parliamentary election.

In contrast to the sit-in, which has excited little public response, the news also featured a visit by Hassan Rowhani, secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council (SNSC), to Paris for discussions with President Jacques Chirac over Iran's nuclear programme.

"Rowhani is doing real politics, whereas the parliament is just a skirmish," says a former Iranian diplomat.

"Rowhani understands we've suffered too long from ideologies, and that Iran should instead pursue its national interest."

At 55, Mr Rowhani is not well known in Iran, but he has solid experience and powerful allies.

Within political circles, he is expected to carry the torch of pragmatic conservatism in next year's presidential elections.

As secretary of the SNSC since 1988, he is trusted by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader. He is also close to Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, former president and influential head of the Expediency Council, which arbitrates between arms of government, the judiciary, state-owned television and the armed forces.

Mr Rowhani left parliament four years ago and is not a candidate in next month's election. Yet he may be its main winner.

The self-styled "new conservatives" are confident of a parliamentary majority that will give them a springboard to capture the presidency next year and so end the reformist era that began with Mohammad Khatami's victory in 1997.

They believe Mr Rowhani's growing public image as a man of action can reverse the trend of two heavy conservative defeats in consecutive presidential elections.

Even some outside the conservative camp agree.

"Khatami has been too nice - Rowhani will be more successful because his goal is improved administration and managing the economy, not a cultural revolution," says Saed Leylaz, vice-president of the government-owned Khrodro Diesel vehicle manufacturers, who has known Mr Rowhani for many years.

"We need a leader like Tony Blair, someone good at PR but who's serious and firm."

Siamak Namazi, managing director of Tehran consultants Atieh Bahar, says: "Rowhani is a credible person for the west and, crucially, is trusted by the system here."

The rise of Mr Rowhani has been steady rather than spectacular. Born in the central Iranian city of Semnan, he went to Qom aged 12 to study Islamic jurisprudence, rising to the rank of hojjat al-islam, one below ayatollah.

After a degree at Tehran university, he did a PhD in law at Glasgow university in the late 1970s, interrupting his studies to join Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's entourage in Paris as the 1979 Islamic Revolution loomed.

Mr Rowhani entered parliament in 1980, becoming head of its defence and foreign affairs commissions and deputy speaker. This brought him close to Mr Rafsanjani, then parliamentary speaker, who held executive responsibility for the 1980-88 war with Iraq.

The relationship between the two men unnerves those who see Mr Rafsanjani as a manipulator.

"Rowhani is not the decision-maker, the power is somewhere else," says a leading reformer.

"Even if the conservatives win the parliamentary elections and Rowhani becomes president, he won't be able to deliver in the face of opposition from hardline conservatives who think he's betraying them."

Reformists argue that leading Iran towards rapprochement with the west and domestic reform requires a vision that Rowhani lacks.

They say the "new conservatives" have simply stolen reformist ideas - including more relaxed social codes.

The new conservatives shrug off the criticism. "The reformers didn't have enough power to succeed. Any system resists change, and conservatives want to improve, not change, the system," says Amir Mohebian, political editor of the conservative daily newspaper Resalat. "This means we no longer insist on the form of the hijab (the veil), it doesn't have to be the chador (the head-to-toe garment covering all bar the face)."

"The reformers used to be popular because they criticised social restrictions," says Mr Leylaz. "But the moral police have largely gone and people are free in their private lives - so they're less interested in politics."

Iran's conservatives expect voter apathy to help them in coming elections. Internationally, they believe the US is less concerned with Iran's political system than with its nuclear programme, its influence in Iraq and its holding of leading members of al-Qaeda.

As SNSC general-secretary, Mr Rowhani has handled all these issues. While no one abroad sees him as a pushover - he insists strongly that Iran's suspension of uranium enrichment is entirely voluntary - there is also a sense that amid Iran's competing centres of power, he is a reliable negotiator.

"Many in the west like Rowhani because they think he can get things done, as indeed he has over the nuclear issue," says one diplomat.

"This means that in the short term at least, they may prefer an Iranian leadership that can deliver, even if it's not very representative."
18 posted on 01/21/2004 7:33:06 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
Vice President Play Down Election Flap

January 21, 2004
Parinoosh Arami and Parisa Hafezi

TEHRAN -- A top Iranian official said on Wednesday President Mohammad Khatami and his reformist cabinet were ready to quit but later made clear he was reiterating a resignation threat government officials made last week.

Vice-President Mohammad Ali Abtahi told reporters many ministers and vice-presidents had handed in their resignations over a hard-line ban on liberal candidates standing in parliamentary elections and Khatami could lead a mass walk-out.

But speaking later to Reuters by telephone, Abtahi said his remarks repeated the threat made by senior government officials last week and comments by Khatami that reformists should either stick together or leave together.

"It's nothing new. The resignation letters were submitted last week," he said.

Khatami and his allies have made repeated resignation threats in recent years in response to moves by unelected hard-liners to block their efforts at reform.

Other officials played down talk of a political crisis and said they were optimistic a dispute over the disqualification of thousands of parliamentary candidates would soon be resolved.

"The talks are ongoing and we are very hopeful it will be resolved," said one minister, who is among roughly 16 cabinet members who have submitted their resignations.

Abtahi stressed the election row could still be defused if the hard-line Guardian Council, which has barred almost half the 8,200 hopefuls from running in the February 20 vote, followed the advice of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei who has urged a thorough revision of the disqualifications.

"The framework set by the Supreme Leader is very good and can save the country from the crisis," he told reporters.

Khatami, who is due to address the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, later Wednesday, told reformist politicians in a letter Tuesday he was optimistic about the chances of a fair election.


The Guardian Council -- an unelected 12-member body dominated by hard-line clerics with sweeping powers -- announced Tuesday it had so far reversed only 200 of the candidate bans, about five percent of those it had originally disqualified.

Reformists accuse the Guardian Council of trying to help conservative candidates reverse their defeat in 2000 parliamentary elections to reformists, who currently hold roughly two-thirds of parliament's 290 seats.

"These methods (of the Guardian Council) can harm the principles of the (Islamic) revolution and democracy and turn the election into a sure thing," Abtahi told reporters.

Reformist parties, including Khatami's, have threatened to boycott the vote unless the bans are overturned. Dozens of MPs have held an 11-day sit-in at parliament in protest.

Another senior reformist, Vice-President Mohsen Mehralizadeh, said the political standoff had been exaggerated.

"I am convinced that this crisis, if you want to call it that, will be resolved and has no significance," Mehralizadeh told reporters after meeting Austrian President Thomas Klestil in Vienna Wednesday.
19 posted on 01/21/2004 7:33:52 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
Iranian Vice Presidents, Others Resign
Photo: Iranian Vice President Mohammad Ali Abtahi, leaves a cabinet meeting in this Sept. 17, 2003, file photo. Some Iranian Cabinet ministers and vice presidents have submitted their resignations to protest disqualifications of thousands of prospective election candidates, Abtahi announced Wednesday Jan. 21, 2004. Iran's Guardian Council, an unelected body controlled by hard-liners, triggered the crisis when it disqualified more than a third of the 8,200 people who applied as candidates in the Feb. 20 elections. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi, File)

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - Some Iranian Cabinet ministers and vice presidents have resigned to protest the disqualifications of thousands of prospective election candidates, Vice President Mohammad Ali Abtahi said Wednesday.

Abtahi did not say how many officials resigned nor did he identify them.

"A number of Cabinet ministers and a number of vice presidents have resigned. Naturally, they are waiting to see how things go," Abtahi said after a Cabinet meeting at the Presidential Palace.

"The Cabinet ministers are very serious in their resignation."

When asked if he had also resigned, Abtahi smiled but did not respond.

The resignations are the latest twist in an ongoing political crisis between reformists and hard-liners.

The crisis was triggered when supervisory bodies affiliated with Iran's Guardian Council, an unelected body controlled by hard-liners, disqualified more than a third of the 8,200 people who applied as candidates in the Feb. 20 elections.

State media controlled by hard-liners say those disqualified failed to meet the legal criteria for candidacy, but reformists maintain the move was intended to skew the elections in favor of conservatives.

"Such disqualifications of prospective candidates is against democracy. The 1979 Islamic revolution was based on democracy, and such methods (by hard-liners) damage our Islamic democracy and turn elections into sham elections," Abtahi said.

The announcement of the resignations came a day after the Guardian Council said it was reinstating 200 candidates and would reconsider the cases of thousands more. That came after fierce opposition from reformists.

Interior Minister Abdolvahed Mousavi Lari presented a report during Wednesday's Cabinet session saying the hard-liners want to secure at least 180 seats in the 290-seat parliament.

Abtahi said that in recent days a presidential committee has "exerted much effort to reverse the situation, but practically, there has been little progress."

Iranian President Mohammad Khatami, who is attending an international conference in Davos, Switzerland, must approve the resignations for them to take effect.

Khatami, a leading reformer, has warned that he also might resign if the disqualifications are not reversed.

20 posted on 01/21/2004 8:12:18 AM PST by FireTrack
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