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Iranian Alert -- February 2, 2004 -- IRAN LIVE THREAD --Americans for Regime Change in Iran
The Iranian Student Movement Up To The Minute Reports ^ | 2.2.2004 | DoctorZin

Posted on 02/02/2004 12:06:43 AM PST by DoctorZIn

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


TOPICS: Extended News; Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: iaea; iran; iranianalert; iranquake; protests; southasia; studentmovement; studentprotest
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To: DoctorZIn
Iranian Reformers to Boycott Elections

February 02, 2004
The Associated Press
FOX News

TEHRAN, Iran -- The leader of Iran's largest pro-reform party said Monday it will boycott Feb. 20 parliamentary elections, saying they would not be free and fair and raising the stakes in the country's growing political crisis.

Mohammad Reza Khatami, leader of the Islamic Iran Participation Front and brother of Iran's president, said the party would not field any candidates because thousands of liberal candidates have been disqualified from the polls by hard-line clerics of the Guardian Council.

Many of the disqualified candidates are sitting lawmakers, including Khatami, who also is deputy parliament speaker.

"We have no hope for the possibility of free and fair elections. All legal opportunities have been killed," Khatami said.

Earlier, the government spokesman said Iranian Cabinet ministers backed calls to postpone the vote and vowed during an emergency meeting not to hold a sham election. The decision came after Interior Minister Abdolvahed Mousavi Lari presented a report saying conditions for free elections did not exist.

"The Cabinet also agreed not to hold elections that are not competitive, fair and free," spokesman Abdollah Ramezanzadeh said.

Reformist President Mohammad Khatami did not attend the Cabinet meeting because he is resting at home with severe back pain.

The five ministers assigned last week to reach a compromise with the council said their efforts had failed "despite showing flexibility," Ramezanzadeh said.

The powerful council ultimately decides when an election is held, but the government's position strengthens the hand of reformists demanding a boycott.

Without the participation of the Islamic Iran Participation Front, enough hard-line candidates will run uncontested to retake control of parliament from the reformists. Reformists won the parliament in 2000 for the first time since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, and used it as a platform to press for social and political reforms.

The controversy began last month when the Guardian Council, whose 12 members are appointed by Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, disqualified more than 3,600 of the 8,200 people filing papers to run in the polls.

After protests and an opinion from Khamenei, the council Friday restored 1,160 low-profile candidates to the list — still keeping more than 2,400 candidates out.

Reformists say the council disqualified liberal candidates to fix the election in favor of conservatives. The hard-liners repeatedly have thwarted President Khatami's efforts toward greater democracy and a relaxation of the Islamic social code.

The council denies political motives and argues that the disqualified candidates lacked the criteria to stand for election, even though more than 80 of them were elected in 2000.

Some 124 lawmakers in the 290-seat Majlis, or parliament, resigned Sunday in a dramatic gesture intended to force the clerical hierarchy to reinstate the candidates.

Hard-liners may have to resort to extraordinary measures — perhaps even relying on the elite revolutionary guards and other armed forces — simply to hold the elections in two weeks as scheduled.,2933,110129,00.html
21 posted on 02/02/2004 8:46:40 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
The Road Not Taken

February 02, 2004
Iran va Jahan
Cyrus Kadivar

Four years before the fall of the Iranian monarchy, Paul E. Erdman published a novel entitled, The Crash of '79. Those who have read it will recall that the villain of the piece was Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, described as a "megalomaniac" who dreams of controlling the Middle East by exploding six nuclear bombs over Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Of course, like all bestsellers the book caused a sensation.

Certainly, the Shah's Iran was awash with the most sophisticated weapons purchased with billions of dollars from the United States and Europe. The Nixon Doctrine had turned Iran into the Policeman of the Persian Gulf and one of the West's most reliable allies in the oil-rich region. It was no secret then that Iranian scientists were engaged in developing their country's atomic energy for peaceful purposes.

In another long forgotten book published in 1977 and entitled The Mind of A Monarch, the Shah revealed his vision for his country with a sense of responsibility for the future that the current Islamic leaders of Iran have squandered. "I have proposed a military nuclear-free zone in the Middle East," the Shah told the author, R.K. Karanjia, an internationally famous Indian journalist.

Far from being the madman in Erdman's thriller, the Iranian monarch stressed that while he had no intention in building atomic weapons his country would pursue atomic energy or nuclear technology for industrial and developmental purposes.

"According to my thinking," he said, "the whole world should collaborate, on the one hand, against nuclear weapons and, on the other, in promoting nuclear energy for peaceful purposes."

Fast forward. The Shah's Iran is now part of history. An irresponsible gang of pseudo-clerical despots have ruled the country since the 1979 revolution that brought them to power. In 2003 the international community woke up to the possibility that Iran would possess an atomic bomb in three or five years' time, if not sooner. Worse yet, the Russians have reached the warm waters of the Persian Gulf by building Iran's first nuclear reactor in Bushehr and planning a few more in the near future.

The passage of almost a quarter of a century has given historians enough time to draw comparisons between Iran yesterday and that of today. The Shah's vision before his unforeseen and tragic downfall may have seemed exaggerated at the time it was expressed. Yet, revisiting it again one finds that it contains the key elements of a progressive and rational mindset that has eluded the heirs to Khomeini.

What was the golden road Iran would have taken had there been no Islamic revolution? While still on the Peacock Throne the Shah had envisaged a "Great Civilization" often mocked by his leftist critics as "unattainable."

Perhaps the rapid modernisation was to blame for the rising gap between what was being promised and what was achievable. The sudden liberalisation of the political system had unleashed uncontrollable expectations that the government was unable to influence.

But this vision given what followed in Iran after Khomeini's followers "hijacked" the revolution was a logical aspiration articulated by a leader obsessed by Persia's grandeur. Even in exile, Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi went to his grave convinced that Iran's future lay in the next 25 years when it would rank among the globe's five great non-atomic powers in a single generation. That generation was destroyed in 1979.

The current Iranian generation aged between 16-30 appear to be demanding from their masters a volatile mixture of political, economic, social and cultural reforms that would allow it to compete in the highly technological world facing them. The Shah and his technocratic advisors had spoken of developing all Iran's resources to cope with the rising population that was estimated to reach 65 million people.

"Every citizen will have an equal opportunity to show his ability, his skills, his attainments," the Shah had said in 1977. "Within the next two decades, our standard of living will be such that nobody will go hungry and all will be able to eat as much as they can ... We shall have big steel, aluminium and copper industries, and go for atomic and solar energy in a big way…We shall be building more roads, harbours and airports ... We have no aggressive intentions or ambitions."

The revolution changed all that overnight. Iran, once called an "Island of Stability" by US President Carter is now viewed as part of the "Axis of Evil" by President Bush.

Iran's diplomatic successes under the Shah's regime had meant that the country enjoyed international support from the USA, Europe, Japan, Russia, China and many Arab and African states. The revolution overturned any goodwill that existed. A radical regime committed to spreading its violent message unleashed a wave of trouble.

The capture of American embassy staff in Tehran for 444 days, a bloody 8 year war with Iraq that left millions dead, the state sponsorship of terrorism, the development of long-range missiles capable of hitting Tel Aviv and London and an ambitious nuclear bomb programme (despite continued denials) has justly raised many diplomatic eyebrows. The "Punch and Judy show" played in Iran by the hardliners and the so-called reformists within the clerical regime is not very comforting.

All this can hardly be conducive to attracting foreign investment, halting the brain drain or reassuring the West that the Iranian regime can become a trusted partner contributing to peace and stability in the Middle East.

Despite recent attempts by the foreign ministers of France, Germany and Britain to quell a mounting crisis over Iran's nuclear program, the US is determined to prove that Iran has "lied" for the past 18 years by, among other things, producing plutonium and enriched uranium in ways that would be useful only for the manufacturing of an "Islamic bomb."

In the late 1970s a seminar was held in Tehran on the Third World in the 21st Century. In a speech given at the time the late Shah warned the participants that the duty of the developed world was "to speed up the development of backward countries" in order to "ensure a new policy of peace and co-operation, as against the old one of the Cold War and co-destruction." Only in this civil manner, he predicted, would mankind be united in an international, harmonious, working partnership.

Such lofty ideals were replaced with several symposiums in recent years inviting the leading heads of various terrorist organisations to unite in combating US influence. The most disturbing allegations that senior members of the notorious Al-Qaeda were hiding in Iran has strengthened the hawkish advocates of a military strike.

The most reassuring development has come from an unexpected quarter: the Iranian society. The struggle between the people and the Islamic state has come at a time when the country is witnessing an erosion in moral values (Iran has one of the Islamic world's largest drug, suicide and prostitution statistics), a widening gap between rich and poor, high unemployment, corruption and greater repression.

In 2004 apathy, bitterness and despair has reached epidemic proportions in a nation that once enjoyed the thrill and excitement of a swiftly developing society which invested young people with a patriotic commitment to nation-building over 25 years ago.

It is time for the Iranian people to build a new road to lead them to freedom and progress or continue on a senseless path to nowhere.
22 posted on 02/02/2004 8:47:50 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
"MPs and Governors Who Quit May be Prosecuted "

This is what I've been wondering. House arrest? Imprisonment? Or will that get too much attention from the outside world?
23 posted on 02/02/2004 9:21:52 AM PST by nuconvert ("Why do you have to be a nonconformist like everybody else?")
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To: DoctorZIn
"Should the council reject the delay request, Khatami's government could refuse to organise the vote. Khatami could also allow provincial governors, who play a key role in administering elections, to carry out their threat to resign over the vote row."

Khatami can't do anything with Khamenei's blessing.

24 posted on 02/02/2004 9:31:44 AM PST by nuconvert ("Why do you have to be a nonconformist like everybody else?")
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To: nuconvert

"withOUT Khamenei's blessing"
25 posted on 02/02/2004 9:33:44 AM PST by nuconvert ("Why do you have to be a nonconformist like everybody else?")
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To: DoctorZIn
Showdown or Backdown?

February 02, 2004
The Economist
The Economist Global Agenda

The battle between reformists and religious hardliners in Iran has intensified, with the main reformist group announcing a boycott of this month’s elections. But have the pro-democracy campaigners the will to defeat the conservatives?

TWENTY-FIVE years ago this week, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini returned to Iran from exile to lead the Islamic revolution that threw out the country’s pro-American monarchy and created the modern world’s first theocratic state. Iran’s celebrations of the anniversary have been overshadowed by a power struggle between religious conservatives and pro-democracy reformers. This struggle could lead to Iran’s elected but largely impotent president and parliament finally wresting themselves from the clerics’ iron grip. Or it could end in the religious conservatives sweeping aside Iran’s pretence at democracy and reasserting full control over the state.

On Monday February 2nd, Iran’s largest pro-reform party, the Participation Front, said it would boycott parliamentary elections, due on February 20th. This is in protest at the disbarring of thousands of reformist candidates by the Council of Guardians—a hardline group of clerics and Islamic jurists which has the power to overrule the parliament. The boycott was announced a day after around a third of the reformist-dominated parliament resigned. In a stormy session, parliamentarians—many of whom have been staging a sit-in for the past three weeks—denounced the theocracy’s attempt to nobble the elections. “They want to cover the ugly body of dictatorship with the beautiful dress of democracy,” said one.

Khomeini’s successor as supreme leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, had asked the Guardians to reconsider the bans, but on Friday they announced that only a third of the disqualified candidates would have their bans lifted. This leaves more than 2,000 reformist candidates still disallowed, including 87 serving parliamentarians—among them the brother of Iran’s pro-reform president, Mohammad Khatami. On Saturday, the president’s officials called again for the elections to be postponed, despite the Guardians’ rejection of an earlier request for a delay. President Khatami and his ministers have threatened to resign over the bans, though it is not clear whether they are prepared to carry this out: around 18 months ago, the president threatened to resign in a dispute with the Guardians but failed to do so when they refused to back down.

The power struggle has raged on since President Khatami was first elected in 1997. Though virtually all his efforts at liberalisation were thwarted, he was re-elected in 2001. Fellow reformers swept to victory in other polls, but they suffered similar rebuffs at the hands of the clerics. The parliament has passed some remarkably enlightened laws in recent years: to liberalise the press; to sign United Nations conventions outlawing torture and sex discrimination; to expand trial by jury; and to stop the police from storming the universities, which are a main base for pro-reform movements. But the Council of Guardians has spiked every one.

Nevertheless, it would be unfair to say that the liberalisers have achieved nothing. Since Mr Khatami’s election, Tehran has become a more humane, even permissive, place. Seven years ago, anyone taking a drive with a member of the opposite sex, or wearing make-up, was punished by jail or a lashing. These activities are still crimes, but the authorities turn a blind eye. On Mr Khatami's watch, Iran's human-rights record has become a bit less appalling.

The last time Iranians had a chance to vote, in local-council elections a year ago, they expressed their frustration at the continuing impasse by largely staying at home. But the low turnouts (only 10-15% in some cities) favoured the religious conservatives. Voter apathy would probably have handed them victory again in this month’s parliamentary elections, but it seems that the Guardians did not want to risk failure. Next year, when President Khatami’s mandate ends, the conservatives hope to replace him with one of their own. The Council of Guardians is expected to try to ensure this by, once again, banning reformist candidates.

In the meantime, having hitherto stymied the Khatami government’s attempts at a reconciliation with America, the conservatives now seem interested in striking a deal with the “Great Satan”. It was Hassan Rohani—a leading hardliner close to Ayatollah Khamenei—who led Iran’s recent negotiations with the International Atomic Energy Agency over confessing to its nuclear dabblings and accepting tougher inspections by the agency. Since concluding a deal last October, Mr Rohani has been respectfully received in Brussels and Moscow. His globetrotting at the supreme leader’s behest is making Mr Khatami’s government look ever more irrelevant. Indeed, Mr Rohani is beginning to look like the foreign minister-in-waiting of a future government of pragmatic conservatives.

How will the conflict end? Ordinary Iranians are exasperated at both the theocracy, for failing to increase prosperity and personal freedom, and at the reformists, for failing to deliver on their grand promises of change. Much will depend on the mood among students—a powerful force in a country where two-thirds of the population is under 30 and the minimum voting age is 15. So far, campus protests have been muted. But students at Tehran University are reported to be planning a protest on Wednesday.

Several outcomes are possible in the short term: the reformists’ quiet capitulation to the conservatives’ relentless pressure; or a student-led counter-revolution, which is either repressed harshly by the hardliners, or which succeeds in overthrowing the theocracy; or, indeed, Ayatollah Khamenei may, at the last minute, defuse the crisis by ordering the Council of Guardians to overturn the bans on reformist candidates. But whatever happens now, it will not banish altogether the prospect of Iran’s next revolution. The pressure for change should, sooner or later, prove irresistible.
26 posted on 02/02/2004 3:53:56 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Iranian Arrested in Baghdad

February 02, 2004
RIA Novosti
Focus News

Two Foreigners were arrested in Baghdad in attempt to plant explosive near an oil refinery close to the Iraqi capital, RIA Novosti said.

The US general Martin Dempsey reported the arrest and explained that the two men arrested were Iranian and Afghan.
27 posted on 02/02/2004 3:54:50 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Nigeria Holds Iran Diplomat as Spy

February 02, 2004
ABC News

JERUSALEM -- An Iranian diplomat is in Nigerian police custody on suspicion of spying on the Israeli embassy and other sensitive compounds in the capital Abuja, Israeli security sources said Monday.

They said the Iranian was arrested on Jan. 23 when staff reported him "staking out" the embassy. Although he carried no credentials, police discovered he was a diplomat, they said.

"A digital camera was found in his possession, with surveillance pictures of the embassy and several other international and local official buildings in the capital," a senior Israeli security source said.

A Nigerian police spokesman said last Thursday an Iranian was being questioned after taking photographs of strategic buildings, but did not say the man was a diplomat.

Officials at the Iranian embassy said then that they were not aware of the arrest.

Monday, officials in Nigeria, where it was a public holiday, and in Iran could not immediately be reached for comment.

The independent Nigerian Guardian newspaper said the buildings the suspect had photographed included the Nigerian National Petroleum Corp towers, the British Council, the Defense Ministry and army headquarters. It did not mention the Israeli embassy.

Israeli diplomatic missions are heavily guarded for fear of terrorist attacks. Israel accused Iran of backing bombers who killed 29 people at its embassy in Buenos Aires in 1992. Iran, which does not recognize the Jewish state, denied involvement.
28 posted on 02/02/2004 3:55:29 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
29 posted on 02/02/2004 3:56:09 PM PST by windchime (Podesta about Bush: "He's got four years to try to undo all the stuff we've done." (TIME-1/22/01))
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To: DoctorZIn
Nightline Iran: "Inside Iran," 25 Years After the Revolution
[A Transcript of last week's broadcast.]

January 29, 2004
ABC News
Nightline English


Twenty-five years after this.


Deep down inside, not a lot has changed.


Most Americans tend to think of this.


If you speak you go to jail.


But not this.


We have rave parties. We have ecstasy parties, coke parties.


But as Iran moves toward elections, are all the changes merely cosmetic?


The younger generation wants more than the older ones can give them.


Or a move toward real reform?


We will have a gap between the society and government if this election is not fair.

graphics: inside Iran


Tonight, "Inside Iran," 25 years after the revolution.

graphics: ABC NEWS: Nightline


>From ABC News, this is "Nightline." Reporting from Washington, Ted Koppel.


(OC) If you'd like to catch a glimpse of the image of Iraq that's keeping US foreign policy makers awake at night, you have only to look next door at Iran. That's not entirely easy to do these days. American journalists, especially television journalists, haven't had a great deal of access to Iran lately. But, ABC News correspondent Jim Sciutto and producer Nick Watt just emerged after several days of traveling through Iran. What they found is an often confusing picture. Iran is a country where with a demographic that would make an American television network executive drool. Millions upon millions of very young people, thirsting for Western music, movies and a hip lifestyle. To a very limited but still surprising extent, they're living that lifestyle. But that, reports Jim Sciutto, conceals a political system that is still under rigid Islamic control. You can forget the parliament, real power in Iran rests in the hands of 12 appointed clerics and jurists, conservatives all, known as the Guardian Council. There's supposed to be a parliamentary election in Iran next month. 8200 candidates were running for office. The Guardian Council simply disqualified most of the reformers among them, almost 4,000 strong. Among those, 80 members of the Iranian parliament who are simply being refused the right to run again. This is what scares American policy makers in Iraq, where there is also a Shiite majority. If there were to be a direct election in Iraq, one man/one vote, would it lead to the sort of political structure that now rules in Iran? Whatever the answer to that question may be, here's Jim Sciutto with a rare look inside Iran.


(VO) There is Iran outsiders expect to see. Women covered from head to toe. Men crowding vast public mosques. The genders separated in many public spaces. Those images are easy to find here but do not tell the full story. Since pro-reform politicians won the presidency here in 1997, and a parliamentary majority in 2000, Iran has changed in ways that until recently were considered unacceptable and un- Islamic. Today, some girls wear make-up and tighter clothes. They push their veils farther and farther back on their heads, showing their hair, which conservative Muslims consider risqu.. Young unmarried couples hold hands in public. Teenagers listen openly to Western pop music. For Had, whose English nickname is Freddy, is lead singer of the Tehran heavy rock band Moha, "the priests." Bands like this were forbidden into the late 1990s. Now they can practice and sometimes play concerts. Some bands even sell CDs, though only with the approval with an official Islamic committee.


(VO) "Nobody bothers us," he said, "even though right across from us there's a guy from the revolutionary guards. They're used to it by now." Behind closed doors young Iranians constantly told us, they are pushing the limits of Iran's conservative Muslim society even further.


The nightlife is really amazing.


(OC) Is it? The nightlife in Tehran is amazing?




(OC) What's it like?


In the suburbs, in the suburbs around Tehran, you can see everything. You can never imagine to see it in Las Vegas, I think. Wild parties.


And we have rave parties, we have ecstasy parties, which is -I mean, the fashion recently, cocaine parties, coke parties. I don't know.


(OC) Do people have sex before marriage?


Yes, they do.


Yes, mostly.


(OC) Mostly? Most people, really?




Nowadays, it is changing. I mean, the newer generations even -I mean, I'm 30 years old. When I see behind myself and see the -new generation after me, how they behave and what they do and what they believe and attitude, I'm like just, oh God.


(VO) For changes like this to happen, there must have been some official approval, but there were no public pronouncements. Iran's pro-reform politicians criticized by many here for delivering change too slowly, claim credit for helping at least to create a more permissive environment. Small steps towards their vision of a more open, more equitable Iran. This doctor is the Iranian President's spokesman and a Reform Party activist. What greater freedoms do women have?


So many things, you know. Now just 64 percent of our students are the girls.


(OC) Seven years ago, what would it have been?


It was less than 40 percent.


(VO) But young Iranians, 70 percent of the population is under 35, say the government's small concessions have come with no new political freedoms. For them, the changes are purely cosmetic.


You see more women coming up with, let's say, better designed clothes and more fashionable. But deep down inside, not a lot has changed. Politically, socially, not a lot has changed.


(OC) How about political freedom here?


I think you know, there's no freedom of -no political. If you speak, you go to jail.


(VO) Many here believe Iran's conservatives are using token gestures, looser veils, tighter clothes, more Western music, to draw attention away from efforts to stifle even reverse political reform. But signs of a continuing crackdown, they say, are distressing. Since 1999, 200 pro-reform newspapers have been shut down. Nearly 4,000 mostly reformist candidates were barred from next month's parliamentary elections. Thousands of political prisoners are in Iranian jails. 30-year-old student leader Ali Afshari finished a three-year prison sentence just last month. An outspoken critic of Iran's religious leaders, he was charged with threatening security.


(VO) "I spent 350 straight days in solitary confinement," he said. "They didn't let me sleep and sometimes they beat me. Only my hopes for the future kept me alive." While Ali was being held in Tehran's notorious prison, an Iranian-Canadian journalist named Zahra, investigating suspected torture of detainees, was arrested outside while attempting to take photographs. She later died in police custody, allegedly beaten to death. Inside and outside Iran, her case sparked outrage. "For now the Reform movement has been defeated. It is like what has happened in China," he said. "Politically the government puts people under limitations but gives them a bit more social freedom. What we really want are political rights."


(VO) Such views are not confined to Iran's university campuses. It is a measure of the internal tensions here that some of the religious leaders who helped lead Iran's Islamic revolution believe the current government has lost its way. Even in Kohm, Iran's most conservative Muslim city, there is public dissent.


(OC) It is full of landmarks to Iran's 1979 revolution. This is the seminary where Ayatollah Khamenei studied. But the city's more moderate clerics say Iran's current religious rulers are violating many of the principles the revolution was intended to achieve.


(VO) This is a professor at one of this city's most prestigious and conservative religious seminars. "The first slogans of the revolution was independence, freedom and the Islamic republic. But all those slogans are now forgotten and wasted," he said. "We should give the right of choice to people. We should allow people to think about any religion, to follow any school of thought. We are not guardians of the people. People should be free." Those are dangerous opinions, even for a respected mullah. He has been barred from appearing on Iranian television. For many Iranians, the December earthquake in the southwestern City of Bam put the government's failures in the sharpest light. Ancient buildings collapsed into dust, domestic relief efforts were slow. More than 40,000 people were killed.


As you see in Bam, it shows the real face of Islam Republic of Iran, the regime. They cannot do everything. It's a real crisis. It can cut the process. It can control everything and limits your freedom, but they cannot help you.


(VO) Increasingly, Iranians, especially young people, place equal blame for such failures on the conservatives and the reformers they once had such high hopes in.


The expectations of the younger generation are very high. They have the right to say that they haven't reached what they wanted. But we have the right to say, as reformers, to say to them that we did not promise them to solve everything.


(VO) Still, for many here, the few solutions that have come have been purely superficial. A veil hiding deep divisions over Iran's future.


(OC) Next month's parliamentary elections give the appearance of democracy in Iran. But reality is far more complicated. That part of the story when we come back.

graphics: Nightline


This is ABC News "Nightline." Brought to you by ...

commercial break


(OC) It's actually damning with faint praise, but Iran has one of the more democratic governments in the Middle East. Nevertheless, it is still a fledgling one where real political freedom often remains elusive. Once again, here's Jim Sciutto.


(VO) For nearly three weeks, Iran's pro-reform lawmakers have staged a 24-hour vigil inside parliament. At least 40 members remain here all day and all night, striking in shifts so they can occasionally see their families. We were the only American reporters allowed inside. One of the strikers is the brother of pro-reform President Said Mohammed Khatami.



The last election was much more free than this election. And we do not want to go back, we must go forward, to proceed.


(VO) The lawmakers are protesting the disqualification of thousands of candidates from next month's parliamentary elections. Nearly all of them reformists. Iran's ruling council of religious clerics claim they were insufficiently loyal to Islam, but few here doubt their motives were purely political. "For the time being, people are just watchers, not participants," said this disqualified candidate, a newspaper editor. "If they get the impression that their representatives are serious in what they're doing, they will join us."


(VO) But the reformers' fight has not energized the Iranian public. The overwhelming verdict of people we talked to is that the strike is more about political drama than substance. "I think the decisions are already made and the scene has already been set," this young businessman told us. "I just try to mind my own business, study, play sports and things." The lack of support from young Iranians, more than 2-3rds of the population is under 35, is a politically ominous sign for the reformers. It was young voters who swept President Khatami to a surprise victory in 1997. Today, political polls show that fewer than a third of Iranians even plan to vote in next month's elections. Voter apathy is strongest among young people.


(OC) Will you be voting in the election next month?


No, never?


(OC) Why not? "Because it's not going to make any difference. It will be the way it is and it will continue to be so whether we vote or not."


(OC) This is a neighborhood of Tehran University, site of many public demonstrations in the past, including large pro-democracy protests last summer. But here it has been quiet. The reform candidates' disqualification has not mobilized the students.


(VO) The students' restraint is in stark contrast to last June. When they took to the streets by the thousands, calling for the resignation of ruling cleric Ayatollah Khamenei and freedom for all political prisoners. Thousands of students were arrested and many remain in jail. Today, some of Iran's most well known student leaders say they have given up on the Reform legislators. "The development of democracy and our country are not possible within the framework of laws we have now," he said. "Reform from the inside, let's call it parliamentary reform, was not able to give the people what they wanted and solve our problems." Ali is now hoping for a spontaneous popular rebellion like the ones that toppled governments in Georgia last fall and Yugoslavia in 2000. But student leaders admit they're not sure how to bring that about or even what they plan to do next.


As students, we must concentrate on the problem inside the universities.


(OC) It sounds like your ambitions have gotten smaller?


Yes. It got smaller because we are not the ability of being the leadership of the big social movement.


(VO) A loss for reform lawmakers next month would have repercussions inside and outside Iran. Reformers say that if they keep their majority, they will work for closer ties with the US.


I think it will be time next year to solve many problems that we have in our foreign policy, including in the region and in the world, with the United States and other countries.


(VO) For now, the government of President Khatami, elected seven years ago with so much hope, is cautiously managing expectations. They say the candidates' disqualification is just one step on the path to democracy.


Going toward democracy needs time and needs error and a trial, in fact. So, we try to come out from it as the people want.


(VO) But Iranians consistently told us what they want is real political freedom, something many here do not believe the lawmakers sit-in can deliver. This is Jim Sciutto for "Nightline" in Tehran.


(OC) So what should we in the US make of Iran's struggles? That conversation when we come back.

commercial break


(OC) My guest tonight, Jonathan Lyons, was the Reuters bureau chief in Iran from 1998 to 2001. For much of that time he was the only American journalist living in Iran. He and his wife, also a journalist, co-authored "Answering Only to God, Faith and Freedom in the 21st Century Iran." Jonathan, which Iran should we focus on to intelligently understand what's going on over there, the Guardian Council or the tight jeans and the underground parties?


Well, actually the tight jeans and the underground parties are more fun, perhaps. But I think we really need to look at the Guardian Council. Because, ultimately this really is a religious question that Iran and Iranian society have to try to resolve.


(OC) And when you say we have to focus on that, have they determined, have they deliberately permitted the sort of social reform to take place without at the same time having any kind of legal reform?


Well, I think these are safety valves, as we see in some other societies. But, interestingly, when I lived there, I used to notice that the liberalization of dress and of special behavior often accompanied a period of time when the conservatives or the clerical establishment felt that they were more in control. So, sometimes these things are -actually mirror images of each other.


(OC) In terms of where Iran stands with regard to the United States and US interests, can you place it for us? I mean, should we regard them as essentially hostile to US interests, waiting for the chance for an opening, something in between?


Well, I think when you talk about Iran, it's -almost always something in between. And as you know, Ted, it's very complicated. But in essence, all sides of the major political fault lines in Iran would like to have a better relationship and ultimately diplomatic relations and certainly economic relations with the United States. But they need to do this in a way that doesn't disadvantage their own group and give extra advantage to the other side. And so, I think we will eventually see that, but only when both the so-called reformers and the conservatives are ready to move together. And the United States needs to help create some of those conditions, if it can, for that sort of joint movement.


(OC) There are clearly people in the Bush Administration who believe that given the right kind of encouragement -I don't want to use the word revolution or counterrevolution, but that there could be some sort of an uprising. How realistic do you think that is?


Well, I think history shows, and I mean very recent history going back to my own experience covering the student riots -a couple years ago, that the police powers and the powers of repression are really very, very strong. And so, I'm not sure that -you didn't use the word revolution, but some sort of rebellion is really in the cards. But I think we're gonna see a slow and steady march with setbacks, with victories. It could take several generations to see the sort of fundamental change that many people inside and outside Iran are wishing for that country.


(OC) Conventional wisdom has it that the Shiites in Iraq and the Shiites in Iran really were not all that close to one another. But as we look at the Ayatollah Sistani in neighboring Iraq, now calling for a direct vote. Being able more or less at the drop of a hat to be able to put 100,000 people on the streets in demonstrations. Should the United States be concerned about the relationship between the Shiites in Iran and Iraq?


I don't think they need to be overly concerned. I think we have to go back a step and look at what underlies some of those assumptions. Many people in Iran, including many, many clerics, are looking for an alternative or a reform or a way out of this dead end that they feel that they're in. And so, one has to ask, what exactly would they be exporting? I mean, Iran has a lot of economic and political problems. And I don't think too many people in Iraq are looking wistfully over the border to say, well, we wish we could sort of work things out in that way. I think, and you eluded to earlier of course, the differences between Iraqi Shi'a and the Iranian Shi'a. And there really are quite distinct differences. So, I think recent history, experience, ethnic divisions, linguistic divisions. I think that these are all really significant. And we have to put some face value on demands for a more democratic Iraq coming from some of the Shi'a leaders.


(OC) All right. Jonathan Lyons, thanks very much, good to have you with us.


You're welcome, Ted.


(OC) Ill be back in a moment.

graphics: Nightline:


To receive a daily e-mail announcement about each evening's "Nightline" and a preview of special broadcasts, log on to the "Nightline" page at

commercial break


(OC) And that's our report for tonight. I'm Ted Koppel in Washington. For all of us here at ABC News, good night.
30 posted on 02/02/2004 3:57:24 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Ayatollah Montazeri: 'The Guardian Council Manipulates the Laws

February 02, 2004
Middle East Media Research Institute

Grand Ayatollah Montazeri Interview: 'The Guardian Council Manipulates the Laws; It is a Betrayal of the Revolution'

Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, the highest ranking Iranian cleric, who led the Islamic Revolution along with Ayatollah Ruholla Khomeini 25 years ago, gave a recent interview to the Italian daily Il Corriere della Sera. In the interview, he expressed his views on the conflict between reformists and conservatives in Iran, between the Majlis (Iranian parliament) and the Guardian Council, which recently rejected 3,600 of the 8,157 candidates for the coming election on February 20th.

Ayatollah Montazeri, a founding father of the first Constitution of Iran after the revolution, was designated by Khomeini as his successor. But he was marginalized and held under house arrest from 1997 to 2003, accused of having criticized the current Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei. He is now free and lives in the holy Shi'ite city of Qum. "Outside his gate," writes Paolo Conti, the interviewer, "many worshipers line up to obtain Qur'anic interpretations from him. But many of his aids warn foreign visitors: 'Montazeri free? To tell you the truth, around here many apartments are occupied by people from the secret services that follow his every move.'" The following are excerpts from the interview:(1)

Question: "What do you think of the current conflict between the political and religious institutions in Iran?"

Ayatollah Montazeri: "At the beginning of the Islamic Revolution, we said regarding the elections: the Minister of the Interior and the Shah used to pick candidates to be voted, [but] now the election must be really free. We thought of a Council of Guardians to oversee the Ministry of the Interior, to make sure it did its work correctly, not to select the candidates... Then there was a revision of the Constitution, and I opposed it. They have manipulated it and put things upside down ... all against our original intentions. Thus today, instead of free elections, we have a selection made by one faction of the electoral contest. All of this is illegal and anti-constitutional."

Question: "So the spirit of the Islamic Revolution has been betrayed?"

Montazeri: "[Acting] this way wounds the image of Iran, creating international qualms - and all this as a result of the illegal actions of a few. It is local experts from the cities that should evaluate the candidates; they are better informed of personalities and situations."

Question: "You have contested the various special tribunals that proliferate and suffocate the Iranian justice system."

Montazeri: "They do not exist in the Constitution, which delegates judicial affairs to the Ministry of Justice. All of this disappoints the people, who become disgusted with the system. Khomeini wanted the special tribunals for a short time. They were supposed to disappear. After his death, they were re-instituted. The sentences of these tribunals are illegal. Such abuses happened before the Revolution, which in fact took place in order to prevent their occurrence. Instead, the same things are going on. And the people are not free."

Question: "What do you think of the constant closure of reformist newspapers?"

Montazeri: "Today in Iran, there is no freedom of the press. They have closed more than a hundred publications; honest and knowledgeable people have been deprived of their jobs. They have reduced newspapers to self-censorship. For instance, they are forbidden to write about me. If they do, they [the editors] are immediately summoned. There is repression, as before the Revolution..."

Question: "You said: If this leadership does not change, the Islamic state itself is in danger. Do you think that the system may fall apart?"

Montazeri: "The peoples' consensus is the basis for everything. The Islamic Republic means popular government. If the people are disappointed, they will stop believing in the Revolution or in Islam. There is a lot of aggressiveness from the system. Yet, the Qur'an speaks continuously of a God of love, clemency, and mercy. If there is rage and violence there will be rejection..."

Question: "You do not have a good opinion of Khatami. Why?"

Montazeri: "He talks a lot, but in practice he does little. Let's take [for example] the sit-in of the MP's to protest against the Guardian Council members' rejection of candidacies. Khatami should already have organized it three years ago, when the Guardians themselves rejected the electoral law. Khatami has adopted a tactic of quietism; he has avoided angering 'others.' But in fact what were these reforms? They were the implementation of the promises made at the beginning of the Revolution. Nothing special."

Question: "You have also questioned Ali Khamenei's role..."

Montazeri: "The [Supreme] Leader [Khamenei] should only give directions; basically guide. Instead, he puts himself above the law that is no longer in the hands of the Majlis. The new Article 110 of the Constitution gives him all the power, which is followed by the word 'absolute,' including control over the police and army, without being accountable to anyone. I opposed it... This is also why they ousted me. On the other hand, the President has all of the responsibilities but no power. That is the problem."

Question: "How do you judge the repression of the student protests?"

Montazeri: "They attacked these youths. They threw them to the ground and beat them... They should not have done it! Regarding young people our religion tells us: 'We must be like fathers, good [and] merciful.' In prayer we say: 'Oh, Prophet, you are sweet and good to everyone, if you were cruel and aggressive everyone would abandon you.' It is a lesson for those who govern. However ... the Guardians have rejected three times a Majlis law to abolish censorship. If they have rejected it, this means they prefer torture."

Question: "Recently you have also spoken against forbidding men and women to shake hands."

Montazeri: "It is not forbidden [by Islam]. I have written everything in an opinion paper requested by Muslims living in Europe. Islam insists on respecting the interlocutor. If the woman does not find the gesture contrary to her self-respect, then it is allowed. It should be done mainly with non-Muslim women that would interpret the lack of this gesture as impolite. As for Muslim [women], if it implies misconduct, then no, it is not allowed."

(1) Il Corriere della Sera (Italy), January 30, 2004.
31 posted on 02/02/2004 4:19:01 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
US Renews Call for Free Elections in Iran

February 02, 2004
VOA News
David Gollust

The United States Monday renewed its call on authorities in Tehran to respect the Iranian people's wish for free and fair elections, though the State Department is taking a cautious approach in its public comments on the political crisis there.

U.S. officials are closely following the situation in Iran. But they are refraining from specific comments about developments in the struggle between reform politicians and the conservative Guardian Council out of concern it might be seen as American interference.

At a news briefing, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher limited his remarks to a general expression of support for a free electoral process in Iran.

"We've always been supporters of free and fair elections," he said. "We've always been supporters of the idea that the Iranian people should have a right to decide their government and their government's policies. We urge the Iranian government to respect the Iranian people's wish for a genuine voice through free and fair elections."

Mr. Boucher also said the United States has made clear its concerns about the status of political freedom and human rights in Iran and is watching the events unfolding in Tehran in that context.
32 posted on 02/02/2004 4:19:34 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn

PARIS, 2 Feb. (IPS)

The Islamic Republic was mute on Monday about reports by Pakistani press that Dr Abdol Qadir Khan, known as "the Father" of Pakistan’s atomic bomb and for that considered as a national hero had sold nuclear information to Iran.

According to Pakistani journalists who were briefed by the officials on the issue, Professor Khan told investigators he had provided nuclear secrets to Iran, Libya and the Communist North Korea in order to also make them become nuclear powers and help decreasing international pressures over Pakistan.

"Dr. Khan transferred to ageing technology for enriching uranium for personal greed, without the authorisation from Islamabad, but certainly with the help of some colleagues", Reza Khan, a Pakistani journalist told the Persian service of Radio France International.

Though Iranian independent agencies like the Iranian Labour News Agency ILNA reported the news, but it failed to mention the name of Iran, saying that Khan "had sold nuclear information to Libya, North Korea and some other countries".

Actually, it was Iran that informed the Vienna-based United Nations nuclear watchdog that it bought from Pakistan the technology and some components for enriching uranium.

"That technology, Professor Khan got it in Holland during the seventies, right after India carried out its first nuclear tests", Reza Khan said, adding that nuclear inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency had found that the uranium enriching techniques and materials used by both Iran and Libya were similar to what Pakistan used to possess in its highly secret arsenal.

Because of the Muslims holiday of Sacrifice, no officials could be reached in Tehran or Islamabad, but Pakistani sources said President General Parviz Mosharraf would address the nation on the issue on Tuesday.

Informed Iranian sources said the Tehran-Islamabad cooperation in nuclear field dates back to the former Iranian regime, with the Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi providing some of the badly needed financial funds to Pakistan to continue nuclear researches and sharing the information with Iran.

"That cooperation, kept highly secret, continued after the revolution and was even increased as Iran had also became an Islamic Republic like Pakistan in the one hand and the new regime, traumatised by the eight years of devastating War with Iraq, had decided to build its own nuclear bomb as a deterrent and dissuasive power", one Iranian source told Iran Press Service on condition of anonymity.

"Khan made a lot of money, with which he bought a lot of properties outside Pakistan, including a luxury hotel in an African nation named under his wife and daughter, who is now outside the country", the journalist said, confirming Islamabad’s official version of the scandal.

"The real danger for Mosharraf is the Pandora Box that the scandal might open", the French news agency AFP quoted Mr. Riff’at Hussain, a political analyst and head of the Strategic Studies at the Qa’ed-e-A’zam University of Islamabad as having commented.

"Cornered, Abdol Qadir Khan might as well tell interrogators everything, including that he sold the information with the knowledge of the Government", he added, referring to Islamabad’s categorical statements that Khan and other colleagues at the KRL (Khan Research Laboratory, after the name of Dr. Khan himself) transferred the know how without the knowledge and authorisation of the authorities.

Pakistani newspapers said the "nuclear leaking" from KRL to Iran, Libya and North Korea continued until the end of the last century and "even more as Iran and Libya are concerned".


33 posted on 02/02/2004 4:20:33 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Potemkin WMDs?

Michael Ledeen
February 02, 2004, 8:33 a.m.

So now comes David Kay, a good man, a person I like a lot, with a lot to say. He set out to find large stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction and didn't. He says there's evidence that some stuff may have gone to Syria, but nothing like the quantities he expected to find. He has no doubt that Saddam had — or rather had ordered, and was told he had — a full-blown WMD program. But there's no sign of it, at least so far as David Kay and his CIA minions could find.

So what happened?

David now thinks that it was a Potemkin program. Count Potemkin was the lover of Tsarina Catherine the Great of Russia, and he was told to build new towns and cities for the grandeur of the regime. He couldn't manage it, but he couldn't tell his mistress the terrible truth. So he lied to her. And when she asked to see the new places, he created the eighteenth-century equivalent of movie sets. She sailed down the river, the movie sets were set up on the banks, and happy people waved at her. When the royal ship was out of sight, the villagers packed up the set, and raced downstream to the next site. From this, the expression "Potemkin village."

Thus, David tells us, Saddam's WMD program. He ordered his loyal servants to make him atomic bombs, chemical and biological weapons, and effective delivery systems. They couldn't manage it, but they couldn't tell Saddam because he would have killed them. So they faked it, producing a vast documentation for a program that did not really exist. The CIA (and the Brits, the French, the Germans, the Israelis, the Russians, etc. etc.) got some of this, and got some of the same false reports as Saddam received, and they went for it, just as Saddam did.

It's a great theory. It's imaginative and entertaining. It explains our failure to find what we expected to find, and it explains what we did find: considerable documentation about WMD programs. It also explains how Saddam could have ordered the deployment of WMDs, and nothing happened. Nothing could happen, because there was nothing there.

It's also devastating to the CIA and the other intelligence services, because one of its central conclusions is that the intelligence world didn't really have a clue about what was really going on — or rather, what wasn't going on. It suggests that the intelligence world never really challenged its own conclusions, even though there was no physical evidence to support them. If David Kay is right, then every datum in the analysis was fictional.

What a scandal! CIA's supposed to create such fictions, not be gulled by them.

As I say, it's a terrific theory. But I'm skeptical, and I've got a real reason for my skepticism, which David can easily confirm. Last August I called him in Baghdad to tell him that I had a person — a good person, like himself, a person I trust — who was prepared to take him to an underground laboratory from which a quantity of enriched uranium had been taken a few years ago, and smuggled to Iran. Wow, he said, let's go look. Have the guy call me, we'll check it out.

The guy could never get David on the phone because the CIA decided not to investigate after all. The CIA never went to look, and I don't know if that stuff was real or fictional. But this case was totally different from the Potemkin WMDs of David's elegant theory. Because my guy was in contact with the people who said they had moved the stuff from Iraq to Iran. They were now sick, and wanted to tell their story before they got much worse. But, as I say, the CIA never went to look. They pretended they wanted to, they finally met with my guy, but they told him they didn't believe his story (although there was really no reason to either believe it or not, it was a matter of either looking or not, and if you didn't look you couldn't know anything one way or the other). He said the people who had done the smuggling had a full description of the material on a CD Rom, which they were willing to provide. CIA wasn't interested. And that's the end of it, so far as I know.

So there's one instance where the CIA wasn't curious enough to take a ride and look at a lab. And I ask myself whether there were other such cases. I know of other examples, not involving WMDs, but involving Saddam's money, where CIA refused to look, and the stories they were told — and decided not to believe — turned out to be true.

And then I read the words of Peter Hain, the leader of the House of Commons in London. He says "I saw evidence that was categorical on Saddam possessing chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction." And we know, from the recent Hutton Report, that Tony Blair's claim that Saddam could be prepared to launch WMD attacks against Coalition forces "within 45 minutes," had come directly from MI6. Were the Brits fooled too? Hain insists they were not.

And then there's the story from the Syrian journalist in Paris who claims to have maps from high-ranking military intelligence officials in Damascus, identifying the sites where, he says, some of Saddam's stockpiles were moved. Have we checked that story?

I love the theory. But I have my doubts. Maybe time will tell.
34 posted on 02/02/2004 4:22:27 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn

February 2, 2004

AT a radio phone-in program the other day, some listeners took me to task for 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 Shi'ites 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 view that Iraq is plunging into chaos, and even civil war, is echoed by many who did all they could to prolong the Ba'athist rule in Baghdad. French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin, for one, is going around lamenting what he labels as "uncertainties" that face Iraq.

The truth is that, far from sliding into chaos or heading towards civil war, Iraq is beginning to become a normal society. And all normal societies, as de Villepin might acknowledge, 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 Ba'athist rule.

The central aim of the war in Iraq, as far as I am concerned, was to create conditions in which Shi'ites 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.

It is good that Grand Ayatollah Ali-Muhammad Sistani can issue fatwas, as he never could have under Saddam. It is even better that those who disagree with the grand ayatollah can say so without being murdered by zealots.

Why shouldn't the Sunnis sulk if they feel that they may not get a fair deal in the new Iraq? 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 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, which is not the case even in some mature democracies. (Consider what Howard Dean has to say about George W. Bush.)

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. Like other normal societies, Iraq is home to different, often conflicting, views on many issues. The fact that these views are now expressed without fear is 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 debates. It includes the difficulty of reaching consensus on major issues. It is only in a despotic regime that complex issues can be settled with a nod from the tyrant.

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 Ba'athists, whose party was formally banned after the liberation, are beginning to group in a number of local clubs.)

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

* The Arab Sunnis want Iraq described as "part of the Arab nation," based on the principle of Arabitude (uruba). This is opposed by the Kurds, who say the constitution must describe Iraq as a "bi-national: Arab and Kurdish" state. The Shi'ites, some 60 percent of the population, reject both the Arab and the "bi-national" formulae. Instead, they wish to emphasize the concept of Iraqitude (Uruka). Various minorities, including Christians, share that view.

* 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 Shi'ites, who argue that a federation is made up of pre-existing states that come together. Iraq, however, was created as a unitary state in 1921 and could not develop federal structures out of nothing. Also, a centralized state is needed to control the oil revenue and organize the use of water resources.

* Some parties, both Sunni and Shi'ite, want Islam acknowledged as the religion of the state in the new constitution. Other parties, including some on the left, oppose this; they want a secular system.

* 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. Others insist that the new constitution should preserve Iraq's traditional foreign relations.

* 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 towards an eventual recognition of Israel. Others, however, insist that Iraq should not recognize Israel until there is a solution to the Palestinian problem.

* There are deep divisions on economic philosophy. The Kurds, and some Arab Sunnis, seek a welfare state in which the public sector provides the basic services free of charge. Many Shi'ites want a free-enterprise market economy to prepare Iraq for joining the World Trade Organization.

* There are divisions on the electoral system. The Kurds and Sunni Arabs want proportional representations, with measures that could prevent Shi'ites from using simple majority rules to impose their will. The Shi'ites 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 debates 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 still do. If Iraq is to become a model for all Arabs, it should take a different path right from the start.

The U.S.-led Coalition could revert to that despotic tradition by imposing an artificial consensus. The fact that the Coalition has chosen not to do so 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 United States and its allies.

The 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.

35 posted on 02/02/2004 4:24:33 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Iranian Terrorist a Guest of US Congress

SMCCDI (Public Statement)
Feb 2, 2004

On January 29, 2004, Washington Post published an article by Ms. Robin Wright under the title of “Iranian Envoy a Guest of Congress.”

Naturally, both the message and the messenger of the aforementioned article outraged, baffled, and disappointed us!

We believe, the fundamental and essential obligation of any credible and reputable journalist, especially one parading as an authority on Iran, ought to be: To represent the facts, to be honest and truthful, and, above all, to inform without bias and self-promotion!

Ms. Wright is considered to be not only a journalist; she is a self-proclaimed expert on Islamic Republic and its players as well. Unfortunately, in the United States, others seem to believe this! Many defer to her knowledge and understanding of the theocratic regime in Iran; of course, we find this ludicrous and nothing more than self-promotion; but that is beside the point! For someone who claims to know every minute detail of the regime we find it repulsive how she, continuously and constantly, hides the truth and the reality about the grotesque nature of the terrorist Islamic Republic, its actors, and its agents.

At the outset, the title she has chosen for the article is misleading. The correct title is:

Iranian Terrorist a Guest of Congress!

Moreover, in the article it was reported that Mr. Mohammed Javad Zarif, the representative of the terrorist regime of the Islamic Republic that is occupying Iran, “had visited Washington yesterday to meet with a bipartisan congressional group, the latest in a string of recent overtures by both nations.”

According to Ms. Wright, “the visit comes a week after Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi met with Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (Del.), the ranking Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.”

She further elaborates that Mr. Zarif had a private meeting and an interview before the congressional dinner; in addition, elucidating: “Rep. Robert W. Ney (R-Ohio) and Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) hosted the private dinner, attended by about half a dozen members of the House and Senate.”

It is ironic that Ms. Wright describes Mr.Zarif’s itinerary in detail: Private talks, meetings, interviews and private dinner, hosted by the members of Congress, yet, she omits to inform the public about Messrs. Zarif’s and Kharrazi's background. She forgets to mention a small item that they are both terrorists themselves and that their claim to fame, their ascend in the echelon of the Islamic Republic, is due to the fact that they were among the Islamist student leaders who had captured the Americans at the Embassy in Tehran, Iran.

The truth remains that Messrs. Zarif and Kharrazi were directly involved and responsible for the capture, internment, and torture of the American hostages who were held in their brutal grip for over a year! Try as they might, they cannot cover or hide; their identity and past are well known.

We wonder, how is it possible that the representative of a terrorist regime--listed as such by the United States government--the very terrorist who is directly responsible for the captivity of American diplomats could be invited as a special guest in the hallowed chambers of the United States Congress?

How is it that Ms. Wright, a self-proclaimed specialist of the Islamic Republic, an often guest of the regime, one who visited Iran on numerous occasions, can deny the American public this vital information? After all, the fact that Messrs. Kharrazi and Zarif were the original captors of the American hostages is widespread and well-publicized information! This is their badge of honor they have been wearing with pride for over two decades!

We ask: Ms. Wright, don’t you think you owed the truth, at least, to those members of Congress before they began coddling and praising Mr. Zarif or prior to Senator Specter appearing on CNN and publicly admiring this terrorist? Indeed, one wonders how you and others would be able to look those American hostages in the eye and explain this fiasco and embarrassment to them?

The American public and even those who, out of naiveté or sheer ignorance, believe in the sham of “reformers” and advocate “engagement “ with this terrorist regime would be outraged once they learn the truth.

To her we say: Madam, honesty and integrity should be the foundation and the moral compass of a trustworthy journalist and a so-called expert of your stature--but alas.

As for the honorable members of Congress, we find it bewildering, extremely regrettable and inconceivable that such distinguished members of the United Stated Congress, namely: Senator Biden, Senator Specter, Representative Ney and others, knowing the human rights record, the atrocities of the Islamic Republic, and, above all, the deep hatred and resentment of the Iranian masses for the occupying regime of the Mullahs, could turn their backs on the Iranian people and their aspirations for freedom. More puzzling is that, recognizing the regime for what it is, they cuddle not only the terrorist regime but also the actual terrorists themselves; the very ones who have harmed American citizens!

Though there are doubts about their true motives and rationale for supporting the regime, to those members of Congress who fall for the charade of a divided government, the false labels of “Hard-liners” and Reformers,” and subsequently advocate “Engagement” with the regime we say:

The totality of the terrorist theocratic regime in Iran is economically, socially, and morally bankrupt and on the verge of disintegration. To survive, the regime is in desperate need of foreign investment; of course, to be looted by the corrupt Mullahs and their brood. To be able to continue their atrocities unimpeded they need the support of the United States. Such attempts by the members of United States Congress, no matter how well intended, will only sustain the barbaric regime and prolong the suffering of the Iranian people. Simply put:

For us, for the Iranian people: You are either with us or with the regime!!

And, we repeat: You are either with us or with the regime!!

As students and the immediate victims of this regime, and on behalf of the entire population of Iran, we call upon all the decent and caring American people who believe in human rights, liberty, freedom and justice to contact their representatives in Congress and put a stop to this travesty.

The "Student Movement Coordination Committee for Democracy in Iran" (SMCCDI)
36 posted on 02/02/2004 5:16:44 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: Pan_Yans Wife; fat city; freedom44; Tamsey; Grampa Dave; PhiKapMom; McGavin999; Hinoki Cypress; ...
Iranian Terrorist a Guest of US Congress

SMCCDI (Public Statement)
Feb 2, 2004
37 posted on 02/02/2004 5:17:49 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
I hope SMCCDI sent a copy of this to each of the senators and congressmen. In fact they ought to send a copy to EVERY senator and congressman.
38 posted on 02/02/2004 5:37:17 PM PST by nuconvert ("Why do you have to be a nonconformist like everybody else?")
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To: DoctorZIn
Hugh Hewitt just linked our thread on his blog...

"February 2, 2004
Posted at 5:45 PM, Pacific

Great thread on all developments coming out of Iran over at FreeRepublic. Bookmark it."

It appears Iran is getting more of his attention as of late...

Thank him for the link.
39 posted on 02/02/2004 6:02:22 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: Pan_Yans Wife; fat city; freedom44; Tamsey; Grampa Dave; PhiKapMom; McGavin999; Hinoki Cypress; ...
Hugh Hewitt just linked our thread on his blog...
40 posted on 02/02/2004 6:07:01 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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