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Iranian Alert -- January 31, 2004 -- IRAN LIVE THREAD --Americans for Regime Change in Iran
The Iranian Student Movement -- Up To The Minute Reports ^ | 1.31.2004 | DoctorZin

Posted on 01/30/2004 11:07:59 PM PST by DoctorZIn

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


TOPICS: Extended News; Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: iaea; iran; iranianalert; iranquake; protests; southasia; studentmovement; studentprotest
Join Us At Today's Iranian Alert Thread – The Most Underreported Story Of The Year!

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

1 posted on 01/30/2004 11:08:00 PM PST by DoctorZIn
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To: Pan_Yans Wife; fat city; freedom44; Tamsey; Grampa Dave; PhiKapMom; McGavin999; Hinoki Cypress; ...
Join Us At Today's Iranian Alert Thread – The Most Underreported Story Of The Year!

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

2 posted on 01/30/2004 11:11:11 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
U.S. Congressional Staffers to Visit Iran

January 30, 2004
The Associated Press
Barry Schweid

WASHINGTON - Congressional staff members will visit Iran next month in a bid to improve relations, Sen. Arlen Specter said Friday.

In an Associated Press interview, the Pennsylvania Republican said he hoped the visit, arranged in a meeting with Iran's ambassador to the United Nations on Wednesday, would lead to trips to Tehran by members of Congress and then by Bush administration officials.

"They are showing some signs of wanting to improve relations," Specter said by telephone from his Philadelphia office. "Now is a good time."

The senator, who will send an assistant as part of the group, said he had consulted with a senior Bush administration official before taking up the subject with Ambassador Mohammed Javad Zarif at a dinner in the U.S. Capitol. No senators or House members will go with the delegation.

The State Department cleared the ambassador to travel to Washington. Normally, travel of U.N. ambassadors of countries with which the United States does not have relations is limited to a 25-mile radius of New York.

A group of House members, including Rep. Bob Ney, R-Ohio, who has joined Specter in seeking improved relations with Iran, attended the dinner, as well.

Ney, in an interview, said he thought a visit by congressional staffers was a good idea and he supported it.

But, he said on the telephone from Philadelphia on his way home to Ohio, "I don't think it is set in stone."

Ney, who taught English in Iran in the early 1970s, said, "There are signs of reform in Iran, but I stress we should not read into the signs more than is currently happening."

Apparently, the visit would be the first by congressional staffers to Iran since Iran's 1979 revolution in which the Shah of Iran was overthrown and the U.S. Embassy in Tehran was overrun by religious extremists. U.S. officials from the embassy were held hostage for 444 days.

Rep. Doug Bereuter, R-Neb., who attended the dinner, said he hoped "we would reach a point where it would be appropriate for members of the House and Senate to visit later this year."

Bereuter described the conversation with the Iranian ambassador as "a good discussion on how to build mutual confidence and understanding."

Asked about reports of a visit, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said, "It would be fine with us if they decided to go."

Officials within the Bush administration appear to hold differing views about prospects for an accommodation with Iran, which President Bush two years ago denounced as part of an "axis of evil" with Iraq and North Korea.

Some officials are convinced a strong reformist element exists in Iran, receptive especially to young people's desires for modernization. Other officials believe fundamentalist Muslim clerics remain in ultimate control in Tehran and consistently have vetoed liberalization.

Specter said he told Zarif that if Iran wanted better relations with the United States, it should withdraw its support from Hezbollah, the Lebanese group that has fought a cross-border war with Israel and is listed as a terrorist organization by the State Department.

Iran provides weapons to Hezbollah through Syria, which effectively controls Lebanon, according to department officials.

The ambassador retorted that Iran is a force for stability in southern Lebanon, Specter said, but "I disagreed."

Specter said Iran was enormously impressed by the Bush administration's use of force in Iraq and had shown signs of wanting better relations. He cited Iran's decision to submit its nuclear facilities to international inspection.

Also, Specter said, "They have helped us in the fight against al-Qaida and in the Afghanistan situation."

"I don't think we have given them sufficient credit. They deserve credit" for their support against the terror network headed by Osama bin-Laden, he said.

DoctorZin Note: Once again, I ask you to write your congressman and ask them to stop these initiatives with the mullahs of Iran. It disheartens the popular movement against the mullahs in Iran. It creates fear in the Iranian people that we will betray them for good relations with the mullahs. Remember, the mullahs are the very reason we are having problems in Iraq. They are the true terror masters.

Ask your congressman to stop this madness!

Click here to write your congressmen.
3 posted on 01/30/2004 11:25:50 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Sept 11 accused got training in Iran - defector

Reuters - World News
Jan 30, 2004

HAMBURG - A Moroccan accused of helping the September 11 suicide hijackers received training in encryption techniques at an al Qaeda camp in Iran in 1997, an Iranian defector said on Friday.

But his testimony to a German court was promptly undercut by comments from Germany's intelligence services, who questioned his credibility and said his evidence was worth very little.

Hamid Reza Zakeri, the cover name of a man who says he worked in Iranian intelligence and defected in 2001, was testifying towards the end of Germany's second major trial of suspected members of al Qaeda's Hamburg cell.

He told the court that the defendant, Abdelghani Mzoudi -- suspected of handling money for the September 11 plotters and covering up for them -- had spent three months in Iran learning to master codes and was an integral part of the conspiracy.

It was not immediately clear how the alleged training was linked to the plot.

Mzoudi, 31, had been expected to be cleared of aiding and abetting the murder of several thousand people and being a member of a terrorist organisation until the testimony from Zakeri surfaced last week.

The verdict is now expected next Thursday.

In evidence heard last week from police interviews, Zakeri had said Iran's secret service had contact with Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network ahead of the September 11 attacks.

He also told Reuters in an interview on Tuesday that bin Laden's son had personally forewarned Iranian leaders of the planned attacks on U.S. cities, because al Qaeda wanted Tehran's help in sheltering its members afterwards.


Zakeri, a tall, bearded man with thick hair and glasses, told the court on Friday much of his information came from a high-ranking source in Iran with whom he remained in contact. He acknowledged he had neither met nor seen Mzoudi personally.

As recently as December, he said, al Qaeda military chief Saif al-Adel and Iranian officials met, concerned about Mzoudi's release from custody last month. They believed it was part of a CIA ploy to lead the U.S. agency to al Qaeda figures.

"They came to the conclusion that Mzoudi would have to be killed by a letter bomb sent from Duesseldorf or Vienna, or if he was deported, that he could then be seized," Zakeri said.

It was not clear that his sometimes rambling testimony had helped the prosecution case.

"It's difficult to follow you, Mr Zakeri," judge Klaus Ruehle said at one point during over three hours of questioning.

Ruehle later read out statements from Germany's intelligence services who had been asked to assess Zakeri's credibility.

"The worth of his evidence is very small. Much is unverifiable and speculative," the BND foreign intelligence agency said.

His trial is only the second anywhere of a September 11 suspect. His friend and fellow-Moroccan Mounir El Motassadeq was sentenced to 15 years by the same Hamburg court last February, but is awaiting a ruling on an appeal.
4 posted on 01/30/2004 11:28:28 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
The sooner the better. Btw, I'm just finishing up 'Whirlwind' by James Clavell which is a fictional novel dealing with the travails of a foreign (British) owned helicopter company in Iran immediately before and during the time that Khomeini took power. Anybody familiar with the novel want to comment on the accuracy of the author's portrayal of the motives and attitudes of various factions in Iran circa 1979, or to suggest an accurate account of the internal dynamics of the Islamists, Marxists, Marxist-Islamists, Bakhtiarites & pro-Shah forces during the 'revolution'?
5 posted on 01/30/2004 11:28:41 PM PST by Post Toasties
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To: DoctorZIn
Viva la Reformers! -- The True Reformers!

In National Interest - By Reza Bulorchi and Nir Boms
Jan 30, 2004

Defying conventional wisdom, fresh voices of freedom appear to be coming from the Middle East as of late. Assad of Syria delivers his plans for democratization directly to the New York Times. Khaddafi of Libya delivers his to Newsweek, as he claims to be an ally in the war against terrorism and invites the world to review his nuclear arsenal. Khatami of Iran, the "moderate" President, threatens to resign due to an election crisis resulting from the Guardian Council's decision to disqualify more than 3,000 candidates from the ballot of his country's upcoming February 20 elections. Among the disqualified candidates were 80 incumbent Parliament deputies – including two deputy speakers. The banning of candidates, of course, is never a positive step. But the political crisis brewing in Iran must clearly show that voices of freedom are indeed making headway there – right?

Wrong. What you see is not always what you get when it comes to the Middle East, a region that has not yet began the process of democratic change. The cynical Syrian abuse of the crisis in Bam – the Syrians flew humanitarian aid into the earthquake – devastated city only to bring back weapons for terrorist groups-is just one example of new cosmetics hiding the same old faces. Nevertheless, knowing there are forces of reform in a country like Iran is welcome news in Washington, where there are many who would like to show that our policies in the Middle East are already producing results. There is only one problem: what Iranians have seen from Khatami and his faction over the past seven years has been nothing more than just the rhetoric of reform.

Iran's theocracy is based on a theory of government called the Velayat-e faqih, or absolute clerical rule. Velayat-e faqih is at the core of the complex structure of the Iranian political system in which immense religious and political authority rests with the vali-e faqih (or the Supreme Leader, currently Ali Khamenei). The interpretation of what is or is not an "Islamic principle" falls within the authority of the Supreme Leader and his hand-picked Guardian Council, the 12-member body tasked with vetting candidates for their "heart-felt" and "written" allegiance to the "Supreme Leader."

To be sure, there are factions within the Iranian political system, but the conflict is more of a power grab rather than a content debate over fundamental issues facing society, above all secular democracy. "I have principles for my path," said Khatami earlier last week to the Parliament deputies, "and the most important principle for me is to conserve the system." Indeed, the so-called reformist faction has lost no opportunity to conserve the doctrine of Velayat-e faqih.

In Iran, elections serve as a veneer to mask a rigid theocracy. The mullahs have perverted Western democracy and the parliamentary system to ensure that those institutions would not pose a threat to their grip on power. This hybrid of theocratic soul and democratic gloss has created a paper democracy in Iran, giving ammunition to Tehran's advocates in Washington and Europe to justify "engagement" and "dialogue" with its clerics.

Khatami's "reformists", by the way, have some interesting associations. Among them, one will find mullah Mohammed Mousavi-Khoeiniha, one of Khatami's deputies who was fully behind the US Embassy take-over in Tehran in 1979. Joining him was the recently deceased Ayatollah Sadiq Khalkhali, the notorious hanging judge; Ali Akbar Mohtashami, the terror master, who directed the Hezbollah in Lebanon in the 1980s and is believed to have coordinated the 1983 bombing of the US Marine barrack in Beirut; the US Embassy hostage-takers; the architects of the Ministry of Intelligence and former commanders of the Revolutionary Guards. These and others were baptized as "reformers" following Khatami's presidency

And this brings us to one of the biggest deceptions since Khatami's presidency in 1997: the promise of rule of law and civil society. In a system erected on the anti-democratic doctrine of Velayat-e faqih, this is a non-starter. This principle was incorporated into the constitution to make it, in essence, reform-proof. In fact, the biggest beneficiary of Khatami's mantra of "rule of law" has been the conservatives who consistently invoke it, casting aside the President's faction by applying the existing election and press laws. In Iran, rule of law means rule of Velayat-e faqih. In other words, Islamic sharia law. The establishment never gave Khatami's faction any real say in domestic policies. His smile, his citing of Montesquieu and Alexis de Tocqueville and his shallow discourses on lofty topics such as Islam, democracy and a dialogue between civilizations served as a diplomatic face-lift for Tehran.

The Iranian government is already besieged by domestic, social and political crises, as well as by international pressure for its sponsorship of terrorism and procurement of nuclear weapons. And despite the brave face they keep in public, Iran's leaders cannot escape the reality of what has happened in its neighboring countries to the east and the west.

The Guardian Council's move has made one thing abundantly clear: under the current political structure, a metamorphosis of the Islamic Republic from within by the likes of Khatami is an impossible task and a "reformed" Velayat-e faqih system is a contradiction in terms. Change - by way of genuine reform - can only come from inside the country but outside this regime.

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell has recently talked about Iran's "encouraging" moves and "new attitude." This is misplaced praise for a regime that still thrives on domestic terror and the export of fundamentalism. We need to see the clerical regime for what it really is: a theocracy, intrinsically and structurally incapable of reform. After a quarter of a century of acquiescence, the U.S. must help the Iranian people and opposition forces tear down the clerics' house of cards.
6 posted on 01/30/2004 11:34:08 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn

TEHRAN 30 Jan. (IPS)

As the Council of the Guardians announced the final results on the candidates it has approved for running for the seventh Majles under the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the most powerful man after the leader of the regime, Ayatollah Ali Khameneh'i declared conservative’s determination of not bargaining with the reformers.

According to a spokesman for the 12-members Council, 5.450 hopefuls out of a total of 7.900 candidates have been declared fit to run for the next Parliament, but disqualified reformist lawmakers said there are "very few" of them among the eligible candidates.

In a sermon to worshippers in Tehran during the traditional Friday prayers, Mr. Hashemi Rafsanjani called on Iranian voters to come to the polls "massively, regardless of any origin or ideologies, to disarm the enemies of the Islamic Republic like the Americans and the Europeans as well as their local pawns, the counter-revolutionaries", referring to the reformers who opposes the massive disqualifications by the CG.

This is the first time that the former president who chairs the powerful Assembly for Discerning the Interests of the State (ADIS, or the Expediency Council) placed in the same basket the reformers who controls the present Majles, now reaching its last days, with the Monarchists and other groups opposed to the Islamic Republic.

"The people of Iran must be vigilant and fully aware that if they do not come out massively for the polls, our enemies who are watching the outcome carefully, would not leave us in peace", he told the worshippers bussed to Tehran University campus.

Almost all other Friday preachers, insisting that voting is both a "moral and religious" duty that must be obeyed by all voters, joined him.

Mr. Hashemi Rafsanjani’s harsh words for the reformists signals the end of efforts deployed on both sides, but mostly by the embattled and powerless president Mohammad Khatami and the "chameleon" Speaker of the Majles, Hojjatoleslam Mehdi Karroobi at diffusing the crisis amiably, according to political analysts.

The new attacks on the reformists came as disqualified deputies continued their sit-in while Mr. Khatami’ Government seemed to be divided on the important subject of delaying or not the elections, as demanded by some of the lawmakers.

In fact, the Interior Minister, Hojjatoleslam Abdolvahed Mousavi-Lari and some of his colleagues are mending fences with the President over the proposal, made by some deputies to delay the date of the elections, officially sat for 20 February, if the CG insists on its decision to keep most of the reformist candidates out of the race, but Mr. Khatami has declared his opposition, stating that the elections must be held on time.

Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, the Secretary of the CG warned the Interior Minister against the plan and Mr. Asadollah Badamchian, a member of the influential Party of Islamic Associations told him that if he is not able to organise "fair and free" elections, he is "free to leave".

In a statement carried by the independent Iranian Students News Agency ISNA, the protesting deputies said in a statement that they would only wait a few more hours "to keep their promise to the people" and boycott the elections.

But analysts said even if they did, nothing would be changed. "The elections would be held on time and the conservative candidates would occupy the majority of the Parliament’s 292 seats. The rest, the warning that a poor turn out would harm the legitimacy of the regime etc are plain nonsense", Dr Qasem Sho'leh Sa'di, a former deputy from Shiraz and a lawyer told Radio Farda, a 24 hours radio station controlled by the US government and based in Prague.

"Students, a powerful political force in a country two-thirds of people are under 30 years-old and the minimum voting age is 15, have kept out of the fray wary of again being drawn into street protests only to be left high and dry by top reformers", Mr. Ali Akbar Dareini, a staff writer of the American news agency The Associated Press said in a dispatch from Tehran, adding:.

"The public also has appeared largely unimpressed by the row, disenchanted by years of broken promises by reformers seemingly unable to bring about social and economic change".

7 posted on 01/30/2004 11:36:18 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
8 posted on 01/31/2004 12:50:02 AM PST by windchime (Podesta about Bush: "He's got four years to try to undo all the stuff we've done." (TIME-1/22/01))
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To: DoctorZIn; AdmSmith; McGavin999; knighthawk; faludeh_shirazi; nuconvert; Pro-Bush; blackie; ...
Corrected News- Pilot

Iran parliament vote will lack legitimacy - minister

31 Jan 2004

In TEHRAN story headlined "Iran parliament vote will lack legitimacy-Khatami" please read headline as "Iran parliament vote will lack legitimacy-minister" and in paragraph one ....Iran's interior minister said.... instead of ....Iranian President Mohammad Khatami said.... (making clear legitimacy comment was from interior minister).

Please insert as paragraph two ...."There is no possibility of holding free and competitive elections and we don't consider this election legitimate," the official IRNA news agency quoted Interior Minister Abdolvahed Mousavi-Lari as telling reporters....

A corrected story follows.

TEHRAN, (Reuters) - Iran's interior minister said on Saturday next month's parliamentary election would lack legitimacy after the hardline Guardian Council confirmed bans preventing thousands of candidates from standing.

"There is no possibility of holding free and competitive elections and we don't consider this election legitimate," the official IRNA news agency quoted Interior Minister Abdolvahed Mousavi-Lari as telling reporters.

IRNA quoted President Mohammad Khatami as adding: "We have reached a dead-end with the Guardian Council.";:401b7ec5:7c3daf956e651d2?type=worldNews&locale=en_IN&storyID=4254199
9 posted on 01/31/2004 4:03:43 AM PST by F14 Pilot ("Terrorists declared war on U.S. and War is what they Got!")
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To: F14 Pilot
Is it easy to play with the words??? I am asking the Media...

That is why I believe Media are unbelievable.
10 posted on 01/31/2004 4:05:14 AM PST by F14 Pilot ("Terrorists declared war on U.S. and War is what they Got!")
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To: DoctorZIn
In a sermon to worshippers , Mr. Hashemi Rafsanjani called on Iranian voters to come to the polls "massively, regardless of any origin or ideologies, to disarm the enemies of the Islamic Republic like the Americans and the Europeans as well as their local pawns, the counter-revolutionaries", referring to the reformers..."

Truly preaching to the choir here.

"...the warning that a poor turn out would harm the legitimacy of the regime etc are plain nonsense", Dr Qasem Sho'leh Sa'di, a former deputy from Shiraz and a lawyer told Radio Farda, a 24 hours radio station controlled by the US government and based in Prague."

Doesn't sound like the U.S. has ENOUGH control over the radio station. Why are they letting this guy talk?
11 posted on 01/31/2004 6:25:10 AM PST by nuconvert ("Why do you have to be a nonconformist like everybody else?")
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To: F14 Pilot
Freedom in Iran ~ Now!
12 posted on 01/31/2004 7:39:45 AM PST by blackie (Be Well~Be Armed~Be Safe~Molon Labe!)
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To: F14 Pilot
Thanks for the ping!
13 posted on 01/31/2004 7:58:23 AM PST by Alamo-Girl
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To: DoctorZIn
Why Throw a Lifeline To a Sinking Regime?

January 31, 2004
Iran va Jahan
Shaheen Fatemi

The regime in Tehran has never been closer to total collapse. This morning's headlines read:

TEHRAN (Reuters) - President Mohammad Khatami said on Saturday Iran's parliamentary election would lack legitimacy after the hard-line Guardian Council confirmed bans on hundreds of reformists from standing in the Feb. 20 vote.
The government's own poll conducted by the Ministry of Interior reports that more than 85% of the people intend to boycott the forthcoming parliamentary election by NOT participating in this show.

Under such circumstance hearing and reading the following report from a US funded radio beamed to Iran is very hard to understand:

A group of US congressional staff members will visit Iran next month in an effort to improve relations with Iran, US Senator Arlen Specter said on Friday. "They are showing some signs of wanting to improve relations," Specter said in a telephone interview with the Associated Press, noting "now is a good time." Specter said he hoped the visit, arranged in a meeting with Iran's ambassador to the UN on Wednesday, would lead to trips to Tehran by members of US Congress and then by Bush administration officials.
How is this to be explained to the people of Iran who have been listening to the President of the United States and his message of hope for the future of democracy in the region? While people of Afghanistan and Iraq are inching their way toward freedom and true self-determination, why is the Taleban-like regime in Tehran being courted?

It is time for all Iranians in the United States and elsewhere to raise their voices in opposition to such last minute efforts to save a regime that has lost total support of its own people. A regime that is currently deeply involved in support of terrorism against its own people as well as the American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. A regime that has a long record of terrorist acts against the Americans for the past twenty-five years. A regime that has been forced to admit that it has violated its obligations under the Non-proliferation treaty. A regime that continues to violate the most basic rights of its own people.

At a time when the European Union has publicly denounced the regime in Tehran and has conditioned all its future cooperation on full democratization of the country, why is the US Congressional throwing a lifeline to this regime?

Is there again another "intelligence failure" and people in Washington don't know what is really going on in Iran? Or have they allowed themselves to be hoodwinked by a clever former intelligence ministry official who is now serving as the regime's ambassador at the UN?

It's time for raising our voices of protest by contacting the Whitehouse and the US Congress against this untimely and unfortunate decision.
14 posted on 01/31/2004 8:37:25 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: Pan_Yans Wife; fat city; freedom44; Tamsey; Grampa Dave; PhiKapMom; McGavin999; Hinoki Cypress; ...
Why Throw a Lifeline To a Sinking Regime?

January 31, 2004
Iran va Jahan
Shaheen Fatemi
15 posted on 01/31/2004 8:39:21 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Trouble in Tehran

January 27, 2004
Foreign Affairs
Jahangir Amuzegar

Iran's march toward becoming a secular democracy, which seemed to be accelerating just a year ago, has been significantly slowed down by recent events abroad and at home.

The ruling theocracy's fear that Iran would soon be flanked by two secular, pro-American regimes in Afghanistan and Iraq has abated as the situation in Afghanistan has grown more tenuous and Washington's problems in Iraq have continued to mount. Meanwhile, Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei's grip on reformists in Iran seems to be tightening, just as the country gets ready for parliamentary elections next month.

Last year, the Taliban's crushing defeat and the rise of a reform-minded political elite raised much hope for the dawn of a modern democratic government in Afghanistan that would stand in sharp contrast to Iranian-style theocracy. But these hopes were dashed last month when the loya jirga ratified a new constitution that is supposed to adhere to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (including by granting equal rights to women) but in fact forbids passing any law contrary to Islamic scripture. The UN's endorsement of this document gives further credence to President Muhammad Khatami's concept of "Islamic democracy" and thus extends the Islamic Republic's life expectancy.

In Iraq, both the turmoil caused by postwar insurgencies and the rising prestige and political clout of the Shi'ite Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani have also been a boon to Iran's Islamic Republic. The grand ayatollah's long-held goal of making Iraq an Islamic state and the possibility of a Shi'ite alliance between Iran and Iraq are bound to be encouraging to the Iranian mullahs. Iraq's uncertain future has thus emboldened Iranian hard-liners to thwart secular-oriented reforms at home.

Finally, Khatami's failure in his six-year opposition to Iran's clerical establishment has also temporarily slowed the liberalization process. Repeated hints that he would resign if his two reform bills were rejected by the arch-conservative Council of Guardians have proved to be an empty threat. Earlier this month, the Council disqualified wholesale some 3,600 candidates to upcoming parliamentary elections, fueling the political crisis between clerics and reformists and increasing the chances of a landslide victory by hard-liners. But the crisis will eventually be solved one way or another, and it can only slow down, rather than stop, the countdown to Iran's "D" day.
16 posted on 01/31/2004 8:41:14 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Iran Says No Plans to Receive U.S. Congress Team

January 31, 2004

TEHRAN -- Iran's foreign ministry spokesman said on Saturday there were no plans for U.S. congressional aides to visit Tehran next month, in what some U.S. senators had said could be a step toward improving relations. "Such a trip is not on our agenda," Hamid Reza Asefi told the official IRNA news agency.

U.S. Senator Arlen Specter said in Washington on Friday that a group of U.S. congressional aides would visit Iran next month, in a potential step toward renewing official contacts, severed after the 1979 Iranian revolution.

Specter said the staff delegation "was confirmed to go next month" but he declined to be more specific.

Asefi gave no reason for Iran's apparent change of mind. Iran this month rejected a proposed visit by a U.S. humanitarian delegation led by Senator Elizabeth Dole after December's devastating earthquake in southeastern Iran.

It would be the first such visit to Iran since Washington broke ties with Tehran shortly after the 1979 Islamic revolution when radical students stormed the U.S. embassy and held 52 hostages for 444 days.

Specter and Senator Bob Ney said they hoped a February visit would lead to official meetings between members of Congress and Iran's parliament.

President Bush in 2002 labeled Iran part of an "axis of evil" with North Korea and Saddam Hussein's Iraq.

But U.S. officials have spoken in recent weeks of a willingness to resume a dialogue with Iran which last year agreed to snap inspections of nuclear facilities Washington believes could be part of a secret atomic bomb making program.
17 posted on 01/31/2004 8:42:20 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Iran Poll Crisis Reaches Deadlock

January 31, 2004
BBC News

Iran's President Mohammad Khatami says deadlock has been reached in attempts to overturn a ban by hardliners on reformists standing for parliament. His Interior Minister Abdolvahed Moussavi Lari said "the possibility of organising a free and competitive election does not exist".

"We do not consider this election to be legitimate," he was quoted as saying.

Thousands of candidates have been barred from the 20 February poll by the hardline Guardian Council.

The bans have drawn daily protests from reformist MPs, 80 of whom had been disqualified from standing for re-election, and a boycott threat from a student group.

Mr Khatami had been trying to reach a compromise with the Guardian Council - an unelected 12-member body that vets candidates for office and all laws - but that compromise appears decidely one-sided, says the BBC's Miranda Eeles in Tehran.

The president was expected to convene an extraordinary government meeting on Saturday to discuss what steps to take.

"This government will only organise free and competitive elections," state news agency Irna quoted him as saying.

No postponement

Mr Lari had requested the postponement of the poll, but the Guardian Council said it "saw no legal, political, security or competition environment reasons" to do so.

On Friday, the Guardian Council said it had reversed bans on a third of the candidates initially barred.

"More than 1,160 candidates were reinstated," the Council said, after a deadline for reviewing the bans expired.

The body originally disqualified about 3,600 of 7,900 candidates.

The Guardian Council had already reinstated several hundred candidates following a call for a review by the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The latest reinstatements bring the official number of candidates to about 5,450.

On Thursday, Iran's provincial governors complained that there were not enough candidates for a free and fair election.

Earlier, Iran's main pro-democracy students' group, the Office for Fostering Unity, called on people not to vote.

The groups also urged reformist MPs to continue their protests against the disqualifications.

On Wednesday President Mohammad Khatami, himself a reformist, warned he would not accept even a single "unfair" disqualification.

"Even if one person has been disqualified unfairly, as president, I will defend his right," Mr Khatami said.
18 posted on 01/31/2004 8:43:31 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Iran Cabinet Delays Election Crisis Talks

January 31, 2004
The Associated Press
ABC News

TEHRAN, Iran -- President Mohammad Khatami was admitted to the hospital Saturday with severe back pain, forcing the postponement of an emergency Cabinet meeting to discuss the crisis over parliamentary elections, his office told The Associated Press.

Earlier Saturday, Khatami indicated that his government could not proceed with the Feb. 20 vote under conditions imposed by the hard-line Guardian Council, which disqualified more than 2,000 reformist candidates from the ballot.

"My government will only hold competitive and free elections ... the parliament must represent the views of the majority and include all (political) tendencies," the official Islamic Republic News Agency quoted Khatami as saying.

The deepening conflict over the election Iran's worse political crisis in years came as the Islamic nation marked the 25th anniversary of the revolution that swept to power the anti-American, hard-line clerics who rule alongside the government.

After disqualifying more than 3,600 of the 8,200 people who filed papers to stand for election, the clerics of the Guardian Council softened their position Friday by reinstating 1,160 candidates.

But more than 2,400 prominent reformist politicians and party leaders including 80 sitting lawmakers remained barred, and Friday, by law, was the last day for any more changes.

Reformists called Friday's action cosmetic and threatened to boycott the election. They accuse the clerics of trying to sway the vote to regain control of the 290-seat parliament, which the conservatives lost four years ago for the first time since the 1979 revolution.

On Saturday, Interior Minister Abdolvahed Mousavi Lari reiterated the reformists' view of the vote as undemocratic.

"There is no possibility of competitive, free and fair elections," IRNA quoted Lari as saying. "We don't consider this election as legitimate."

Lari had urged the clerics to postpone the vote, but the Guardian Council rejected that Friday. While the interior ministry organizes elections, the 12-member, unelected council has an overriding, supervisory power.

Khatami spoke after he and his Cabinet visited the mausoleum of the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, father of the Islamic revolution that toppled U.S. ally Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, as part of anniversary commemorations.

He had called a special Cabinet meeting for later Saturday, but that was canceled because of his back problem and hospitalization, a senior official in Khatami's office said. "The president has had back problems for a long time," the official told AP, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Khatami, whose program of greater democracy and a relaxation of the Islamic social code has been thwarted by hard-liners, could be left with two options.

He could refuse to hold elections, which would leave voting in the hands of hard-liners most likely relying on the elite Revolutionary Guards and supporting military forces to organize the polls.

Or, he could challenge the Guardian Council and instruct the Interior Ministry to include all disqualified candidates in the ballots. The council claims the barred candidates lacked the criteria to stand for office even those already in parliament.

Most members of the council are hand-picked by Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has final say over its actions.

Saeed Shariati, a leader of Iran's biggest reformist party, the Islamic Iran Participation Front, said his party would announce Monday whether it would boycott the vote.

"The council statement means there is no option left for us but to boycott this sham election ... as Iran's biggest party, almost all our candidates have been barred," Shariati said Friday.

The front's leader, Mohammad Reza Khatami, is the president's brother, a deputy speaker of parliament and one of the disqualified candidates.
19 posted on 01/31/2004 12:13:15 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Iran's Khatami Retracts Comment Over "Deadlock"

January 31, 2004

TEHRAN -- The office of Iran's embattled President Mohammad Khatami Saturday ordered media to retract his comment that his government had reached a "deadlock" with powerful conservatives in a crisis over forthcoming elections.

"We have reached a deadlock with the Guardians Council regarding the qualifications of candidates," the embattled president was quoted as saying earlier in the day by the official news agency IRNA, the student news agency ISNA and several other Iranian news outlets.

However, the president's media office later asserted the comment "does not exist."

"In the official and quotable comments of the esteemed president, this sentence and comment does not exist," it said in a statement, without giving any explanation for its retraction.

Khatami's comment came amid a serious stand-off with the conservative-run Guardians Council, a political watchdog that has disqualified thousands of pro-reform candidates from contesting the February 20 parliament elections.

The president's statement, an apparent admission of defeat, also overshadowed a wreath-laying ceremony at the mausoleum of Iran's late revolutionary founder, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

Iran's clerical regime is currently marking the 25th anniversary of the 1979 Islamic revolution.
20 posted on 01/31/2004 12:14:49 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Iran's Threat to Coalition Forces in Iraq

January 15, 2004
The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
Raymond Tanter

On January 13, 2004, Eli Lake of the New York Sun reported that two senior members of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) had defected to coalition forces in Iraq. This defection constitutes a good opportunity to reflect on several issues, including Iran's efforts to infiltrate the Iraqi Shi'i community, Tehran's potential plans to target (either directly or by proxy) U.S. forces in Iraq, and the appropriate U.S. policy response to this potential Iranian threat.

Iran's Support for Anti-American Terrorism

According to the State Department's Patterns of Global Terrorism 2002 (issued in April 2003), Tehran provides the Lebanon-based Hizballah with "funding, safe haven, training, and weapons." Such support (estimated at $80 million per year) has given Iran a terrorist proxy of global reach. For example, Hizballah suicide bombings against the U.S. Marine barracks and the U.S. embassy annex in Beirut (in October 1983 and September 1984, respectively) killed some 300 U.S. diplomats and soldiers. In addition, the twenty-two individuals on the FBI's list of Most Wanted Terrorists include three Hizballah operatives accused of the 1985 hijacking of TWA Flight 847, during which a U.S. Navy diver was murdered. The hijacking featured the infamous image of an American pilot peering out of the cockpit with a gun to his head. Moreover, according to a November 1, 1996, report by the Washington Post, Saudi intelligence concluded that a local group calling itself Hizballah was responsible for the June 1996 truck bombing of the Khobar Towers U.S. military housing complex on the kingdom's Persian Gulf coast. The Saudis also asserted that this local group was a wing of Lebanese Hizballah. More recently, Hizballah secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah made the following remarks in a speech given one week before coalition forces launched Operation Iraqi Freedom (as broadcast on al-Manar, the organization's Beirut-based satellite television station): "In the past, when the Marines were in Beirut, we screamed, 'Death to America!' Today, when the region is being filled with hundreds of thousands of American soldiers, 'Death to America!' was, is, and will stay our slogan."

Iran's support for anti-American terrorism is not limited to Hizballah, however. According to the State Department, some al-Qaeda operatives have obtained safe haven in Iran. U.S. intelligence believes that one such operative is Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, for whose capture the State Department's "Rewards for Justice" program offers up to $5 million. Iran's links to al-Qaeda may predate the organization's post-September 11 flight from Afghanistan. At the trial for those suspected of bombing the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, one of the defendants testified that he had provided security for meetings between al-Qaeda and Hizballah operatives. In addition, phone records revealed at the trial demonstrated that, during the period preceding the bombings, 10 percent of the calls made from Osama bin Laden's satellite phone were to Iran.

Iranian Efforts in Postwar Iraq

Over 2,000 Iranian-sponsored clerics have crossed into Iraq from Iran since the cessation of major combat in May 2003. Many of them carry books, compact discs, and audiotapes that promote militant Islam. Moreover, according to Iranian dissident sources, the IRGC's Qods (Jerusalem) Force is establishing armed underground cells across the Shi'i southern region of Iraq, often using the Iranian Red Crescent as a front. Such sources also contend that the Jerusalem Force has established medical centers and local charities in Najaf, Baghdad, Hillah, Basra, and al-Amarah in order to gain support from the local population. In addition, according to a September 2003 Washington Times report, IRGC agents have been deployed to Najaf in order to gather intelligence on U.S. forces. Tehran has also permitted members of Ansar al-Islam, a terrorist faction with close links to al-Qaeda, to cross back into Iraq and join the anti-American resistance.

Even as Tehran began to send Iranian operatives into postwar Iraq, members of Hizballah infiltrated the country as well. Because most of Hizballah's members are Arab, they may constitute an even more effective Iranian proxy in Iraq than Iranian agents trained in Arabic. According to Iranian dissident sources (and confirmed in part by U.S. intelligence), Tehran tasked Hizballah with sending agents and clerics across a major portion of southern Iraq. Indeed, once major combat operations came to an end, Hizballah "holy warriors" crossed into the country not only from Syria, but from Iran as well. Initially, these operatives numbered nearly 100, but this relatively small figure belies their potential impact on behalf of Tehran. Hizballah has established charitable organizations in Iraq in order to create a favorable environment for recruiting, a tactic that the organization had previously tested in southern Lebanon with Iranian assistance. Moreover, according to Mohammed al-Alawi, Hizballah's chief spokesman in Iraq, the organization's agents act as local police forces in many southern cities (e.g., Nasiriya, Ummara), ignoring an official U.S. ban on militias. Overall, Tehran seems to be using Hizballah to supplement its own penetration of local Iraqi governing offices and judiciaries.

In addition, Iranian dissident sources report that Tehran has used Hizballah to smuggle Iraqis living in Iran back into their native country. A significant number of Iraqis have dual nationalities and have resided in Iran for many years; some have even served as IRGC commanders. Hizballah can help conceal their long association with Iran; indeed, some of these individuals have apparently joined Iraqi police forces since the end of major combat.

Iranian dissident sources also contend that Hizballah is casing coalition assembly centers in Iraq and tracking the timing and order of movements by various coalition vehicles, including tanks, armored personnel carriers, and motorcades (this assertion has yet to be confirmed by U.S. intelligence officials). Hizballah agents are reportedly videotaping various locations in two-person teams, often using public transportation such as taxis. Footage of targets is sometimes concealed between banal imagery (e.g., wedding festivities) in order to avoid detection by coalition forces. Such reports echo Hizballah's own public statements, voiced as early as mid-April 2003, regarding its willingness to attack U.S. forces in Iraq and its increasing ability to do so.

Talks with Iran?

The devastating earthquake that struck Iran in December 2003 renewed the debate over whether Washington should resume its quiet dialogue with Tehran. That dialogue was suspended in spring 2003 after intelligence linked al-Qaeda operatives held in Iran to a series of suicide bombings in Saudi Arabia. Now that Tehran has agreed in principle to some limits on its nuclear program, Iranian-sponsored terrorism heads the list of topics that Washington needs to discuss with Tehran. Another key issue is Tehran's efforts to build an intelligence infrastructure in Iraq. Prior to resuming U.S.-Iranian dialogue, Washington should not only insist that Iran expel al-Qaeda, but also demand that Ansar al-Islam, Hizballah, and the IRGC's Jerusalem Force withdraw from Iraq. With over 10,000 coalition forces stationed in southern Iraq, force-protection planners should be particularly wary of Hizballah's intelligence efforts, given the organization's past attacks against U.S. military forces in Lebanon and Saudi Arabia.

Raymond Tanter is an adjunct scholar of The Washington Institute.
21 posted on 01/31/2004 12:15:58 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn; All
Abdul Qadeer Khan under 'house arrest'

STANDFIRST, Jan 31: Investigators have uncovered a sophisticated black market in components with Islamabad at its centre.

While on a tour of eight Asian countries in the summer of 2002, Colin Powell, the US secretary of state, arrived in Islamabad with a special request.

Mr Powell asked President, General Pervez Musharraf, to arrest Abdul Qadeer Khan, the mastermind of Pakistan's nuclear weapons programme and a hero in the country. He said Mr Khan needed to be questioned over the alleged secret trading of Pakistan's nuclear technology to North Korea and he had evidence.

An American spy satellite had recorded images of a Pakistani transport plane being loaded with missile parts in North Korea. It was, the US believed, part of a barter deal trading Pakistani nuclear know-how for missiles.

According to sources in Washington, Mr Powell offered Gen Musharraf assistance for an inquiry into Mr Khan's activities. The Guardian has learned that money, equipment and lie detectors for interrogations would be made available. Gen Musharraf rejected the overture but the case against Mr Khan has been building up inexorably since.

Yesterday, Mr Khan was under effective house arrest in Islamabad waiting to hear if he will face charges of treason.

The evidence being considered is embarrassing for Pakistan, whose scientists are accused of being at the centre of the illegal and dangerous trade in nuclear secrets. Astonishing details of their alleged involvement not only with North Korea but with Libya and Iran have emerged in the last two months after the UN's demand that Iran provide its investigators with a comprehensive record of its 20-year-old nuclear effort. The UN's nuclear detectives, acting on names and contacts supplied by Tehran plus information gleaned in Iran, found evidence which pointed to Pakistan as the source for Iran's uranium enrichment technology. But in an interview with a Pakistani satellite channel last month Mr Khan denied any involvement with Iran. "I am being accused for nothing, I never visited Iran, I don't know any Iranian, nor do I know any Iranian scientist.I will be targeted naturally because I made the nuclear bomb, I made the missile," he said.

When Libya's leader, Colonel Muammar Gadafy, volunteered last month to scrap his covert nuclear bomb project, MI6, the CIA and UN inspectors from Vienna got a glimpse of Libya's equipment and concluded that Pakistan and Mr Khan were again the source, directly or indirectly, of the bomb-making equipment.

Gary Milhollin, head of the Wilson Project, a counter- proliferation group, said: "In all three places (North Korea, Iran and Libya), it's the same designs and technology. It was pilfered by A Q Khan. It's old but it works. The Pakistanis used it to make 30 bombs."

The result is that almost two years after Gen Musharraf rebuffed Mr Powell and almost 30 after Mr Khan absconded from the Netherlands with top secret blueprints on how to enrich uranium, the scientist feted in Pakistan may be about to face trial.

The signals from Islamabad, this week, are that at least two men, apparently Mr Khan and Mr Farooq, will face trial for selling Pakistani nuclear secrets abroad.

Faisal Saleh Hayat, Pakistan's interior minister, said on Monday: "No patriotic Pakistani should even think of selling out Pakistan. "There was a time when they used to call themselves heroes of Pakistan. But now the real face of some of these heroes is being exposed. We will take legal action against them."

The network being revealed by investigations in Pakistan, Iran, and Libya has alarmed seasoned inspectors and intelligence services by its scale, its sophistication and the ease with which it has operated unimpeded for almost two decades.

According to this week's issue of Der Spiegel, a German weekly, a German intelligence report found in the mid-1990s that "there is said to be cooperation between Iran's atomic energy organisation and Pakistan's Khan laboratories".

Almost ten years later, the threads in the dense web of the nuclear black market stretching from the far east to the Middle East and Europe are being unravelled.

Pakistan and its nuclear laboratories named after Dr Khan, at Kahuta, south of Islamabad, are the common factor in tracing equipment found in Libya and Iran, and believed to be in North Korea. But the networks which appear to have been set up in the mid-80s may now have grown so extensive as to have acquired a life of their own, independent of the original Pakistani sponsors.

According to diplomats tracking the investigations, Tehran named some six individuals and several firms as being involved in the black market trade.This led to the questioning of Mr Khan and his associates, but investigators suspect this is the tip of an iceberg.

"This is globalisation at work," said one well-informed source."So many fingers are pointing at Pakistan. There are only a handful of people who can pull together systems like this. But there are a large number of firms who can do gadgets and gizmos for centrifuges." Another diplomatic source agreed Pakistan was the main suspect. "But there's a whole bunch of other suspects and sources. There has been a very active market in this stuff and this thing is widening." Those suspected of involvement include an unnamed British businessman in Dubai and middlemen in Sri Lanka and the Middle East.

A planeload of nuclear equipment impounded by the Americans from Libya will provide details on the provenance of the machinery, as will a shipload of centrifuge components manufactured in Malaysia and seized aboard a German boat en route to Libya in October.

Mr Milhollin said Col Gadafy's programme, going back a decade, involved a deal with the Pakistani scientists "to outsource" the manufacturing and supplies of parts. But the main focus of the investigation is the trade in parts for gas centrifuges, the key machines required to establish a home-based nuclear weapons effort. The centrifuges found in Libya and Iran are all of the same fundamental design, by the German engineer Gernot Zippe. The design dates from the late 1960s for what was to become the Anglo/German/Dutch consortium, Urenco. At the same time as Zippe was working on his design, Mr Khan was studying in Germany and Belgium.

In 1975 he absconded with the Zippe centrifuge blueprints. Back home and given carte blanche to lead Pakistan's race to match India's nuclear bomb, he and his experts improved the Zippe design, known as G-2, to what has become known in expert circles as Pak-2. A Dutch court sentenced Mr Khan to four years jail for industrial espionage in 1983, but the verdict was overturned on the grounds that he had never been served with the arrest warrant.

It remains unclear how tainted Gen Musharraf's government is. The political imperative for both Islamabad and Washington is to maintain that Pakistan's role was limited to that of a few rogue scientists acting without state authorisation and that in any case the nuclear deals preceded Gen Musharraf's takeover in 1999 and have been suppressed since then.

The latter claim is called into question by the alleged sighting of the Pakistani plane in North Korea in 2002 and by some of the supplies to Libya which have taken place since 1999. Because of the Pakistani leader's importance to the Americans in the war on terror, "there is," says one of the diplomats, "a high need to protect Musharraf. That's politics. Musharraf may not have wanted to know what was going on for reasons of plausible deniability".

But even if the Pakistani channels are being closed down and Gen Musharraf escapes international censure and survives the domestic fallout, the damage may well already be done.

Jon Wolfsthal, a nuclear analyst at the Carnegie Endowment said: "There's concern that this thing has spread beyond their (Pakistan's) control. Once you let the chickens loose, you can't get them back into the coop."
22 posted on 01/31/2004 2:08:40 PM PST by nuconvert ("Why do you have to be a nonconformist like everybody else?")
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To: DoctorZIn
Arlen Specter--well, duh.

85% boycott--yyyyyessss.

Eat a magic bullet, Arlen.

23 posted on 01/31/2004 3:39:36 PM PST by PhilDragoo (Hitlery: das Butch von Buchenvald)
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To: DoctorZIn; All
Dozens of Iranian Lawmakers Resign in Response to Blacklist

Kansas City Star ^ | Saturday, January 31, 2004 | SORAYA SARHADDI NELSON - Knight Ridder Newspapers

TEHRAN, Iran - (KRT) - Dozens of Iranian lawmakers resigned from parliament Saturday to protest the refusal by Iran's ruling Islamic clerics to lift a widespread ban on pro-reform candidates in next month's parliamentary elections.

The resignations herald an almost unavoidable showdown between the popularly-elected government of President Mohammad Khatami, who is allied with the reformers, and unelected hardline clerics on the Guardian Council.

The clerics have been trying to wrest control of the assembly from reformers who are working to bring secular rule to Iran.

On Friday, the all-powerful council refused to reinstate most of the candidates they had banned, including key reform leaders and incumbents, and insisted that elections proceed on Feb. 20 as planned.

In a clear warning they would not stand for defiance, the council also disqualified at least seven incumbents who were initially approved to run, but who protested on behalf of blacklisted colleagues.

With negotiations hopelessly stalled, most reformers say they no longer have a choice but to stand up the 12-man council. Among the options being weighed by Khatami and his ministers are postponing the elections or including the names of the 2,450 blacklisted candidates on the ballots.

Either action would directly contravene orders from the council and lead to a crisis of political control.

The outcome of the clash is of intense concern to the Bush administration, which would like to see a moderate, secular government come to power that would end alleged efforts to develop nuclear weapons and cut off support for international terrorism.

Any immediate decision on how to confront the council was delayed after doctors were summoned to the presidential office to treat Khatami for severe back pain on Saturday afternoon, officials said. His staff later canceled all of the president's meetings and events in the coming days, including the long-awaited inauguration Sunday of the new international airport south of the capital named after the Islamic Republic's late founder, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

State-run news outlets quoted Khatami saying that his government had reached a "deadlock" with powerful conservatives in a crisis over forthcoming elections. The statement was later retracted without explanation.

Instead, he was later quoted saying that his government "will hold only free and competitive elections."

But reformist incumbents staging their 21st daily sit-in in a hallway outside the main Majlis chamber insisted democratic elections were no longer possible. An estimated 60 lawmakers signed the joint letter of resignation. At least one reinstated incumbent also submitted his resignation.

"This Islam is the Islam of caliphs, not the Islam of a republic. This is dictatorship itself!" senior Majlis member Mohsen Mirdamadi proclaimed to fellow resigning parliament members who responded with enthusiastic applause. "Our duty is to stand against this deviation."

After his speech, Mirdamadi, one of the students who took hostages at the U.S. Embassy here in 1979, told Knight Ridder that the deepening political crisis was something he'd never imagined possible.

"The main threat we faced against our liberty early in the revolution was a threat from the outside - especially America," he said. "No one thought that someday we'd face a threat against our liberty from the inside."

The names of the resigning lawmakers are to be submitted to the speaker of the Majlis on Sunday. After the names are read aloud, those quitting will walk out en masse, organizers said. The debate and parliamentary approval needed for the resignations to take effect could tie up the legislature for a month.

Iran's interior minister, meanwhile, renewed his plea to the Guardian Council to postpone the elections. The request was immediately rejected.

"The Interior Ministry is obligated to hold these elections on the legally appointed date," Council member Reza Zavarei told Iran's student news agency. He added the bans confirmed on Friday could not be appealed.

Also on Saturday, Iran's foreign ministry spokesman denied reports of an impending, unprecedented visit by a group of congressional aides to Tehran in February, which was announced by Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa, the day before. "No planning has been made for the visit of representatives from the American legislature to Iran and such trips are not on agenda," spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi told state-run media.
24 posted on 01/31/2004 3:42:03 PM PST by nuconvert ("Why do you have to be a nonconformist like everybody else?")
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To: DoctorZIn
I heard a rumor. I don't quite know what to make of it, but I can see several possibilities that even if the US cuts a deal, there is someone or something else waiting in the wings.
The scuttlebut is that Iran's Mullahs are offering up Bin Laden and Al Zawahiri in return for the US backing off of badmouthing the mullahs or helping the students. Don't know if it's true. It came from Monsoor Ijaz.
Has anyone heard anything like this???
25 posted on 01/31/2004 4:49:16 PM PST by Nix 2 ( QUINN AND ROSE from 6-10 AM-104.7 FM in da Burgh&WWVA AM)
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To: DoctorZIn

by Amir Taheri
Arab News
January 30, 2004

PARIS, 30 January 2004 — At a radio phone-in program the other day I was taken to task by some listeners for what they believed is Iraq's "slide into chaos." "You campaigned for the liberation of Iraq and now look what has happened!"

This was followed by a "what has happened" list of events that included Shiites demonstrating, Kurds asking for autonomy, Sunnis sulking, and various political parties and groups tearing each other apart in the Iraqi media over the shape of the future constitution.

The truth, however, is that, far from sliding into chaos or heading toward civil war, Iraq is beginning to become a normal society. And all normal societies face uncertainties just as do all normal human beings.

One should welcome the gradual emergence of a normal political life in Iraq after nearly half a century of brutal despotism, including 35 years of exceptionally murderous Baathist rule.

The central aim of the war in Iraq, at least as far as I am concerned, was to create conditions in which Shiites can demonstrate without being machine-gunned in the streets of Baghdad and Basra, while the Kurds are able to call for autonomy without being gassed by the thousands as they were in Halabja under Saddam.

It is good that Grand Ayatollah Ali-Muhammad Sistani can issue fatwas, something he could not have done under Saddam Hussein. It is even better that those who disagree with the grand ayatollah could say so without being murdered by zealots.

And why shouldn't the Sunnis sulk if they feel that they may not get a fair deal in the new Iraq? And what is wrong with Kurds telling the world that they are a distinct people with their own languages, culture and even religious faiths, and must, therefore, be allowed to develop within the parameters of their identity?

If anything, the Iraqi political fight is taking place with an unusual degree of courtesy in which the Marques of Queensbury' rule applies, which is not the case even in some mature democracies. The new Iraq, as it is emerging, will be full of uncertainties. But that is precisely why the liberation war was justified. Under Saddam the Iraqis faced only the certainty of concentration camps and mass graves.

The Iraqis are now free to debate all aspects of their individual and national life. The fact that different, often conflicting views are now expressed without fear should be seen as a positive achievement of the liberation. Democracy includes the freedom to demonstrate, especially against those in charge, and to "tear each other apart" in the media and town-hall political debates. It also includes the difficulty of reaching a consensus on major issues. Those who follow Iraqi politics would know that Iraq today is the only Arab country where all shades of opinion are now free to express themselves and to compete for influence and power in a free market of ideas.

Even the Baathists, whose party was formally banned after the liberation, are beginning to group in a number of local clubs.

What are the key issues of political debate in Iraq today? Here are some:

• The Arab Sunnis want Iraq described as "part of the Arab nation." This is opposed by the Kurds who say the constitution must describe Iraq as a "binational: Arab and Kurdish" state. The Shiites, some 60 percent of the population, reject both the Arab and the "binational" formulae. Instead, they wish to emphasize the concept of Iraqitude (Uruka).

• The Kurds want Iraq to become a federal state so that they can enjoy autonomy in their provinces. This is opposed by Arab Sunnis and Shiites.

• Some parties, both Sunni and Shiite, want Islam to be acknowledged as the religion of the state in the new constitution.

• Some parties want Iraq to withdraw from OPEC, the Arab League and the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) and, instead, seek some form of association with the European Union.

• Several parties and personalities want a clause for peace and cooperation with all nations to be included in the constitution. They see this as a step toward an eventual recognition of Israel.

• There are deep divisions on economic philosophy.

• There are divisions on the electoral system. The Kurds and Sunni Arabs want proportional representations with measures that could prevent Shiites from using simple majority rules to impose their will. The Shiites want a first past-the-post system that could give them up to 70 percent of the seats in any future Parliament.

Most of these issues have haunted Iraq since it was carved out of the Ottoman Empire and formed into a nation-state some seven decades ago. Successive Iraqi despots tried to keep a lid on these issues either by denying their existence or by stifling debate. This is what most Arab regimes, which share many of Iraq's problems, have done for decades and continue to do today. If Iraq is to be transformed into a model for all Arabs it should take a different path right from the start.

The US-led coalition that now controls Iraq could well revert to that despotic tradition by imposing an artificial consensus. The fact that the coalition has chosen not to do is to its credit. Real consensus is bound to be harder to achieve and Iraq is certain to experience a lively political debate, including mass demonstrations and a war of leaflets, until a compromise is reached on how to form a provisional government and how to handle the task of writing a new constitution.

Most Iraqi political figures, acting out of habit, constantly turn to the coalition authorities with the demand that their own view be adopted and imposed by fiat. The coalition should resist the temptation to dictate terms. It should also refrain from making any partial alliances. Today, the entire Iraqi nation, in all its many different components, could be regarded, at least potentially, as a friend of the US and its allies.

The US-led coalition should accept that the road ahead will be bumpy. But that is not necessarily bad news. For democracy is nothing but a journey on constantly bumpy roads.
26 posted on 01/31/2004 5:12:56 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn

TEHRAN, 31 Jan. (IPS)

The Iranian crisis over mass disqualification of reformist candidates, among them several leading reformist lawmakers deepened on Saturday with contrary statements attributed to the government and the President, saying that an amiable solution of the raw has reached a "dead end" and warning that elections in such situation "lacked legitimacy and legality".

As the disqualified reformists announced their decision to resign, Iranian news agencies reported that obeying the Chief Executive, ministers and provincial governors decided to remain in office, forgetting earlier threats to resign and the office of Mr. Mohammad Khatami denied a report by the official IRNA news agency earlier on Saturday that he had told reporters talks with the Council of the Guardians to resolve the crisis were at a "dead-end".

"Khatami did not say such a thing", the British news agency "Reuters" quoted a spokesman as having said.

Mr. Khatami also cancelled an emergency meeting of his cabinet to review the situation.

According to the latest list of the approved candidates, the number of reformist deputies disqualified increased to 87 instead of the original 80 barred by the Council of the Guardians, humiliating further more the reformist camp.

Dr. Mohammad Reza Khatami, the younger brother of the embattled President and fist vice-Speaker of the Majles who is among the disqualified deputies, in a statement published Friday on behalf of the protesting deputies reiterated that they would resign in mass and again urged the Government to delay the elections.

"Now that the brave people of Iran has discovered the true visage of the Council of the Guardians as a body opposed to the reforms, representatives of the people have no other way but to boycott the elections", he added, again urging the Government to delay the date of the elections.

Also, Khatami has dismissed his Interior Minister Hojjatoleslam Abdolvahed Mousavi-Lari favouring postponing the date of the elections, due for 20 February, insisting forcefully that the voting must be organized on time, a new and major concession to the ruling conservatives.

According to a spokesman for the CG that has barred the majority of the reformist candidates on grounds of their "lack" of allegiance to Islam, the concept of velayat faqih, or the absolute rule of the leader etc. has re-instated several of the disqualified hopefuls, with only three incumbent deputies only.

"An election in which more than half of the seats are pre-determined is not legitimate", Mr. Mousavi-Lari who’s Ministry is responsible for organizing the elections told IRNA.

In a letter to the 12 members CG that is directly controlled by Ayatollah Ali Khameneh’i, the Minister had demanded that the elections be reported, waiting for the divergences between the Government and the Majles on the one side and the conservatives on the other be solved.

But in his answer, Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, the Secretary of the CG reminded him bluntly that he could resign if he thinks that the Interior Ministry can not organize the elections on time.

"According to the law, the Interior Ministry is obliged to hold the elections on the legally appointed date," Guardian Council member Reza Zavarei told the independent Students news agency ISNA. He said the bans confirmed on Friday could not be appealed.

"It would be a shame for the government to hold the first ever sham election and Khatami should not do so", said Ali Tajernia, one of some 100 MPs holding a three-week sit-in protest at parliament over the candidate bans.

Despite the intensifying of the crisis, the first one of the 25 years-old Islamic Republic by its magnitude, public interest in the dispute remained muted, expressing the voters anger at the reformers, accused of failing to carry out their promised reforms.

According to a survey carried out recently by the Interior Ministry, more than 77 per cent have said they would not take part in the forthcoming elections against near 11 per cent saying they would. Some 7 per cent have said they "very probably" would not go to the poling stations while more than 2 per cent said they "probably would" and 2 per cent having "no idea".

"What the conservatives are after is to end the existing duality in the governance. They want to have the control of the regime in its totality and to this end, they do not care about what the world would say", commented Dr Qasem Sho’leh Sa’di, a former Member of the Majles and an opponent of the present political system of Iran.

"At first glance, the scheme might benefit both the people and the conservatives, but at a long range, they would have no other way but to bow to the people’s demands for a more democratic and free system", he added.

Meanwhile, the Iranian Foreign Affairs Ministry denied reports in the American press, quoting some American congressmen about a planned trip to Tehran.

"No plans for US congressmen or senators to visit Iran have been made and this sort of trip is not on our agenda", the Ministry’s senior spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi told IRNA.

Iranian representatives at the Majles also expressed their objection to the invitation. "If American lawmakers are to come to Iran, it should be on our invitation, but we ignore everything and have not been informed about it", one member of the Foreign and National Security Affairs Committee observed

Asefi’s comments come a day after Senator Arlen Specter, a Pennsylvania Republican, said the visit could set the stage for a later mission by US lawmakers.

Washington cut all relations with the Islamic Republic after revolutionary students, most of them now favouring resumption of ties, stormed the US embassy in Tehran on 4 November 1979 and held 55 American diplomats as hostages for 444 days.

The Senator made the statement after meeting the Iranian Ambassador to the United Nations Mohammad Javad Zarif over a diner in Washington D.C. on Tuesday. He gave no exact date for the trip, but press reports have pointed to the month of February, just over a week before the controversial Iranian elections.

Zarif's appearance in Washington was a significant gesture as for the White House, Iran is still considered as a "rogue State".

Like other diplomats from nations with which the United States does not have official relations, Mr. Zarif is confined to New York, where the United Nations is headquartered and a radius of 30 kilometres from the city centre.

Playing down the importance of the meeting, Mr. Asefi observed that this was not the first time that Iran's representative at the United Nations, "in order to explain things to non-governmental people in the United States, attends such sessions".

"Before this, Iran's representatives have been to Washington for similar purposes", he added, mentioning also that in the Swiss mountain resort of Davos Foreign Affairs Minister Kamal Kharrazi had met Senator Joseph Biden in the sideline of the World Economic Forum.

"Mr. Zarif would not agree with the visit of American lawmakers without having clear authorisation from the leader, Ayatollah Ali Khameneh’i, who decides on all major policies", one Iranian diplomat told Iran Press Service, adding that "sometimes, the Office of the Leader fails to inform the Foreign Affairs Ministry about its decisions".

27 posted on 01/31/2004 5:15:20 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Feature : The Slogan Of The People

Saturday, January 31, 2004 - ©2003

31 January 2004

Niloofar Nafici

I am stunned and in disbelief of what I see before my eyes. It's amazing to see what has happened to my people, the Iranian people. We have so much pride, love, and respect for our amazing "Iranian” background. Yet every day we continue to quarrel amongst ourselves. Why do we fight amongst ourselves? Ignorance is the reason my friend; that profound dirty eight letter word that so many of us love to hold on to. Unfortunately our ignorance hinders us and like our favorite side-dish, maast-toh-kheyar (yogurt & cucumber), too many of us continue to observe, sitting on the sideline, watching our ancient and noble Iran be raped daily.

How is it that we, as Iranians, are now able to negotiate our moral responsibility to our countrymen, brave Iranian men and women that suffer at the hands of so-called "religious" men daily? These are the very clerics that enjoy lavish lifestyles, while the very souls that they claim to “save” (by force), deteriorate and struggle or endure unimaginable agonies in their notorious prisons. While abroad, we sit and discuss Iran’s future; should there be reform? Should there be this or that? Should I have a latte? Why don’t we focus our energies on supporting the very capable albeit extremely repressed Iranians inside Iran itself. They are the ones who feel the bitterness and brutality of this regime, and they alone are capable of toppling it. But they need our support, morally, if not more, at the very least.

If one person dies in the cause of freedom, in my eyes it is clear enough and merits our support and attention; if over 30,000 Iranians are imprisoned that DEMANDS our attention. Sorry, but that's very clear to me, when we hear about heroine being cheaper than milk and eggs, when we hear that Iran is number two in the world for prostitution, this is the country where some of the smartest and most educated people in the world are left jobless and have no choice but to struggle to make ends meet alone. All this occurs while the 47th richest man (Rafsanjani) in the world is a “humble” mullah from Iran. Well, I’ll be damned. Once again, you would think that's reason enough to stand up for those brave freedom-loving Iranians. Our countrymen stand in the face of oppression and tyranny on a daily basis; unfortunately some of us indirectly support this regime through our own ignorance or preoccupation with our lives. Others of us attempt to fight the oppression in ways that are feasible abroad but end up giving up because our struggle is not manifested in tangible means. The end result is too many strong voices each with an exact idea that is the “only” possible solution to our oppression. Well guess what, this isn't burger king, and you can't have it your way, all day. Democracy is a process of individuals arguing and expressing DIFFERENCES in opinions and beliefs. When will we learn to LISTEN to each other instead of demanding to be listened to all the time? I hope that we can learn to accomplish this important step to cooperate together; so that we can build the strong national unity that we so dearly need.

Let us remember the passion we have inherited from our forefathers? The same drive, the same enlightened thinking, the same amazing spirit of our ancestors that are rooted as far back as 2500 years ago. Let us not forget our own great ancestor, Cyrus the Great, declared the first declaration of Human rights in the history of the world in 538 BC. Isn't that a shame? This is such a profound fact, from an even more profound culture, but we are now suffering immensely at the hands of a self-righteous group of terrorists that continue to terrorize our land. All in their scheme to make a profit, to fill their pockets as much as possible, they take money (qoms) from the people who struggle daily, in the place of scholars and holy men. These people are leaches, they live only to suck our noble land dry until its dead and then they can move on to their next pray. Such parasitic organisms must be cut out like cancer and shall be through the will of the people. But again, they need our help, and our support. Our dear women in Iran wish only to progress their lives and pursue their dreams, but end up pursuing men in the streets of Arab countries instead. They sell their bodies, like common a common commodity, what a shame that our noble Iran has fallen so.

Ignorance and inaction are the greatest weapons of our oppressors. Mr. Albert Einstein said it well “The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing”. We need to truly educate ourselves, and manifest those core beliefs of humanity, love and life that are so strongly part of our ancient heritage. We must make it a priority to fight and to constantly challenge the ignorance we come across daily within our own community. From religious centers, to organizations that say they help "progress" and "spread" Iranian culture; we have to carefully analyze and pay attention to where our help and financial support really goes. Ironic isn't it? They supposedly try to preserve our history, but what's the point when there's no future for the Iranian people? I'd rather salute the students, the true scholars from past to present, from Ferdowsi to Amir Taheri and many others. They are truly the heroes of our land, the soldiers of truth, fighting a terrorist totalitarian regime that defines what brutal oppression is. We must support our countrymen that go out in the streets, risking their own lives, crying out for a referendum, for change, for freedom, for a TRUE democracy in Iran. The time has come for change. Change brought forth by those who have suffered long enough. This is where the cycles of oppression and the history of terror ends. This is where we realize what being an Iranian is about: our people, our future, our true Iran. I end with the clear, powerful and simple words of those brave Iranians in the streets, risking their lives: "Referendum, Referendum, Een hast shoaare mardom" (Referendum, Referendum, This is the slogan of the people).
28 posted on 01/31/2004 5:20:06 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Let us pray that you are correct.
29 posted on 01/31/2004 11:40:47 PM PST by AmericanVictory (Should we be more like them, or they like us?)
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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”

30 posted on 01/31/2004 11:47:15 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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