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Iranian Alert -- February 8, 2004 -- IRAN LIVE THREAD --Americans for Regime Change in Iran
The Iranian Student Movement Up To The Minute Reports ^ | 2.8.2004 | DoctorZin

Posted on 02/08/2004 12:02:17 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
Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
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Join Us At Today's Iranian Alert Thread – The Most Underreported Story Of The Year!

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

1 posted on 02/08/2004 12:02:19 AM PST by DoctorZIn
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To: Pan_Yans Wife; fat city; freedom44; Tamsey; Grampa Dave; PhiKapMom; McGavin999; Hinoki Cypress; ...
Join Us At Today's Iranian Alert Thread – The Most Underreported Story Of The Year!

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

2 posted on 02/08/2004 12:04:55 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Unrest in Iran

01:00 AM EST on Sunday, February 8, 2004

The ongoing political crisis in Iran demonstrates how limited that country's vision of a republic remains. Last Sunday, more than a third of the parliament resigned in protest after hardliners managed to bar more than 2,000 candidates from running for elections later this month. The banned candidates tended to be reformers favoring greater freedom, and included 87 current members of the 290-seat parliament. (Their fault? Insufficient regard for Islam.)

The protest came on a day when Iran was to have celebrated the 25th anniversary of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's return from exile. That event sparked the revolution that ended 2,500 years of monarchy, and placed Iran under a strict form of Islamic rule. When the reform-minded Muhammad Khatami was elected president, in 1997, the government grew somewhat more moderate. But it remains an odd blend of religious and democratic impulses.

In all matters, the ultimate say lies with Iran's religious ruler, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Under and partly appointed by him is the Guardian Council, which can veto legislation and approve candidates for office. The council's recent decision to block hundreds from vying for seats in parliament led to the current crisis. Opponents rightly see the maneuver as a naked grab for power by fundamentalist forces.

Though religious leaders remain at the pinnacle of power, Iranians have gained some freedoms in recent years. Small victories have made many people, especially the young, impatient for more. But little help is coming their way from the parliament. Denied any real power because of the council's veto authority, Khatami and his forces have resorted to making threats they rarely carry out.

In the short run, it appears that Iran's fundamentalists are on the verge of strengthening their hold on the government. But in the long run, it is hard to imagine how the current political system can survive. Ultimately, Iranians' commitment to a republic based on free elections does not square with a clerical dictatorship. Something has to give.
3 posted on 02/08/2004 12:50:56 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Nuclear smuggling probe spreads to 3 continents

Feb. 7, 2004, 11:02PM
VIENNA, Austria -- The rapidly expanding probe into a Pakistani-led nuclear trafficking network extended to at least seven nations Saturday as investigators said they had traced businesses from Africa, Asia and Europe to the smuggling ring controlled by Pakistani scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan.

Three days after Khan confessed on television to selling his country's nuclear secrets, Western diplomats and intelligence officials said they were just beginning to understand the scale of the network, a global enterprise that supplied nuclear technology and parts to Libya, Iran, North Korea and possibly others.

"Dr. Khan was not working alone. Dr. Khan was part of a process," said Mohamed ElBaradei, director of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Vienna-based U.N. agency that is conducting the probe along with U.S. and other Western intelligence agencies. "There were items that were manufactured in other countries. There were items that were assembled in a different country."

Among the countries known to be involved are Malaysia, South Africa, Japan, the United Arab Emirates and Germany. A company in another European country also was involved, two diplomats said.

In October, the Bush administration presented Pakistan with evidence including detailed records of Khan's travels to Libya, Iran, North Korea and other nations, along with intercepted phone conversations, financial documents and accounts of meetings with foreign businessmen involved in illicit nuclear sales, senior Pakistani officials said.

Using suppliers and middlemen scattered across three continents, the network delivered a variety of machines and technology for enriching uranium, a key ingredient in nuclear weapons. Libya and Iran have given investigators the names of many of the companies and middlemen involved, diplomats said.
4 posted on 02/08/2004 12:53:47 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Iranian footballers to play in the US

Saturday, February 07, 2004 - ©2003

Tehran, Feb 7 (IranMania) – Iran National Team will leave for the US to play two friendlies in April.

The Washington Post Daily on Sunday, February 1st referred to the recent meeting between Iran’s representative to the UN, Mohammad Javad Zarif and two American senators in the Capitol Hill saying the two sides discussed resumption of bilateral ties. They agreed to play two friendlies in the US as well.

The game will be Iran’s second friendly match with the US since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. The previous game was held on January 16, 2000, at the time of Mohsen Safaee Farahani’s chairmanship of Iran’s Football Federation which turned to be a controversial issue at that time. That game ended in 1-1 draw.

Emphasizing not to be identified, an official of Iran’s Football Federation firmly confirmed the news but declined to comment on the details of the trip.
5 posted on 02/08/2004 12:54:33 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Scientist who sold atomic secrets 'can keep his money'

By Victoria Schofield in Islamabad and David Wastell
(Filed: 08/02/2004)

President Pervaiz Musharraf has pledged that the disgraced founder of Pakistan's nuclear weapons programme can keep the vast wealth he accumulated selling bomb-making technology to rogue states around the world.

As Gen Musharraf provoked worldwide consternation by pardoning Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan for supplying nuclear expertise to Libya, Iran and North Korea, he said last week that he would also spare the scientist's property or assets.

"He can keep his money," Gen Musharraf said, adding that there had been good reason not to investigate the origin of Dr Khan's suspicious wealth before 1998, when Pakistan successfully tested its first nuclear weapon. "We wanted the bomb in the national interest and so you have to ask yourself whether you act against the person who enabled you to get the bomb."

Dr Khan is believed to have earned millions of dollars from his sale of nuclear know-how, beginning in the late 1980s. Much of the money was funnelled through bank accounts in the Middle East. His assets include four houses in Islamabad worth an estimated £1.5 million, a villa on the Caspian Sea, a hotel in Mali and a valuable vintage car collection.

Gen Musharraf said he understood the need for Pakistani scientists to develop a secret overseas network when building their first nuclear weapon. "Obviously, we made our nuclear strength from the underworld. We did not buy openly. Every single atomic power has come through the underworld, even India."

Dr Khan, 69, made a televised confession of his wrongdoing last week after being confronted by government investigators. Since then he has been in a state of limbo. Despite being granted a pardon, he is under house arrest and has been forbidden to give interviews. "He should not talk for some time," Gen Musharraf told the Telegraph.

There has been widespread criticism in Pakistan over the treatment of a man nationally revered as the "father of the bomb". His supporters have filed a habeas corpus petition to be heard tomorrow by the Lahore High Court, asking it to end the "media trial" of a "national hero".

Opposition parties, meanwhile, have taken advantage of the growing groundswell of support for Dr Khan to renew their attacks on Gen Musharraf, who came to power in a military coup four years ago.

The Pakistan People's Party, led from exile by the former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, doubts the authenticity of Dr Khan's admission, which it says was made "under duress".

Dr Khan was initially reported to have told government investigators that he did nothing without the knowledge of Pakistan's military chiefs, including Gen Musharraf. In his televised confession, however, he said he had no authorisation from the government.

Imran Khan, the former cricketer who leads the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaaf (PTI), claims that Gen Musharraf pressurised Dr Khan in order to safeguard his own reputation. "It could not be possible that nuclear technology was transferred without the knowledge of top military officials," he said.

Dr Khan's evolution into national hero began soon after India shocked its neighbour with its first nuclear bomb test in 1974. He promised Pakistan's then prime minister, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, that he could match India's weapon and finally did so in 1998, when Pakistan successfully tested its first nuclear weapon. He became an icon, his image appearing on billboards and bumper stickers.

Dr Khan sold nuclear technology almost as fast as Pakistan devised it, offering Saddam Hussein a design for a nuclear weapon in 1990, according to a document seized by UN weapons inspectors. The Iraqi leader suspected a trap and declined.
6 posted on 02/08/2004 12:56:01 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn; nuconvert; Pan_Yans Wife; McGavin999; freedom44
Leader asks officials to ignore `grievances` in electoral row

Feb 8, 2004
Tehran - IRNA News Agency

IRNA -- Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei demanded
Saturday `certain grievances` nursed by officials against each other
in the electoral row be ignored in order to hold the forthcoming
election in a `healthy, lively and enthusiastic` climate.
"Today our country needs more unity and concord among the esteemed
officials and the dignified (Iranian) nation expects as such from the
country`s officials," he said in a letter, a copy of which was faxed
to IRNA.
"... thus, it is appropriate that certain grievances of the organs
against each other are ignored," he said in response to President
Mohammad Khatami and Parliament Mehdi Karroubi who had complained of
the Guardians Council`s failure to heed the leader`s views.
The executive and legislative heads wrote to the supreme leader
on Friday to thank `His Eminence for his wholehearted efforts as well
as those of his office for resolving the electoral problems`.
On Saturday, President Khatami`s office reiterated that the
Interior Ministry would carry out its task to arrange the
parliamentary election on February 20 as scheduled.
The announcement put an end to speculation that other organs might
intervene to hold the election, which has been marked by a row over
large-scale disqualification of the aspirants.
The daily Jomhuri-ye Eslami on Saturday quoted `informed circles`
as saying that `in case executive officials in charge with the Majlis
election do not announce their readiness to hold the poll by today,
certain measures will be taken to hand over the task to other organs`.
President Khatami`s office stressed that `the election will be
held at the appointed time by the Interior Ministry and all state
authorities across the country`.
They said, `Notwithstanding that a major part of his (the
leader`s) views have not been attended to, the election...will go
ahead on February 20`.
Secretary of the Guardians Council, Ahmad Jannati, announced
Friday that the supervisory body had reinstated more than 200
candidates in the last phase of reviewing their qualifications.
The daily Jomhuri-ye Eslami said among them were 12 incumbent MPs
as well as three members of the Association of the Combatant Clerics.
The Guardians Council had declared over 2,000 prospective
candidates from among more than 8,000 of the nominees as disqualified.
The supervisory body has said that the qualifications of more
than 5,200 candidates had been approved, which meant there were 19
contestants for each seat of the parliament, where 290 seats are up
for grabs.
The Guardians Council vets the candidates as well as parliamentary
bills to vet their compliance with the Islamic Sharia law and the
7 posted on 02/08/2004 12:56:47 AM PST by F14 Pilot (Do Not Believe The Media)
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To: DoctorZIn
Khamenei orders end to poll moans

Iran's supreme leader has ordered an end to complaints about the banning of 2,000 reformist candidates from general elections later this month.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei dashed any final hopes of a delay to allow a resolution to the country's political crisis.

President Mohammad Khatami had argued that the conservative vetting council had been wrong in its blacklist, which includes most well-known reformists.

But he conceded defeat and agreed the 20 February vote could go ahead.

Mr Khatami and parliamentary speaker Mehdi Karrubi sent a joint letter to Ayatollah Khamenei complaining that the unelected Guardians Council had disregarded the leader's instructions to review the credentials of disqualified candidates, especially among the scores of sitting reformist deputies who have been ruled out.

The letter warned that the actions of the council had diminished competition and would lead to reduced public enthusiasm for voting.

But in a reply, read on state radio, the supreme leader said the importance of holding elections outweighed other concerns.

"For the sake of the election, some complaints from all parties involved need to be ignored and everyone must work hand in hand," he said.

Questions ahead

The BBC's Jim Muir in Tehran says the reply made it clear that the embattled reformists have a stark choice: to contest the elections with many of their top figures absent, or pull out and leave the way open for a comeback by the conservatives.

But he adds that there are also questions for Ayatollah Khamenei.

"The leader's word is supposed to be final on any issue. His refusal to do more to impose his stated wishes on the hardline council has led many reformists to question where the real power lies," our correspondent says.

The crisis began when the decision last month by the unelected Guardians Council to bar nearly half of the 8,200 candidates who wanted to run in the 20 February election.

Some were reinstated following rare intervention from Ayatollah Khamenei, who then asked the Council to review the remaining 2,500 cases.

But reformist sources say only about 200 more candidates have now been reinstated, leaving more than 2,000 rejected.

The biggest of the reform factions, the Participation Front, has declared it will not compete, although some of the other groups have yet to make up their minds.
8 posted on 02/08/2004 12:57:57 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Keep your chin up Doc, the times they are a changing.

External pressure from Afghanistan and Iraq will have weight.
9 posted on 02/08/2004 1:05:25 AM PST by mylife
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To: DoctorZIn
Your post in #5 was already posted as a thread here.
Scientist who sold atomic secrets 'can keep his money'

Why are you reposting it? You do this a lot. Can't you just post a link to previously posted articles?

10 posted on 02/08/2004 1:07:00 AM PST by Jean S
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To: DoctorZIn
My apologies, it was #6, not #5.
But you haven't answered my question, why are you regularly reposting articles that have already been posted here?
11 posted on 02/08/2004 1:30:41 AM PST by Jean S
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To: JeanS
I can't talk on behalf of DoctorZIn but it is really important for people to know more about the ongoing events in Iran and moreover this thread is dedicated to articles and issues of Iran, that is why, I think, he keeps posting articles here. Therefore, many Freepers can visit the thread and find their favorite topics or articles. Another reason can be his Archiving, Doc and a couple of Freepers archive the articles of this thread.
Hope you get your answer. And I have to thank you for your comment.
12 posted on 02/08/2004 1:55:32 AM PST by F14 Pilot (Do Not Believe The Media)
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To: DoctorZIn
Doc, my take is that the upcoming election is just a Political Maneuver. Every one should be aware that there is NOT ANY DIFFERENCE between Reformists and Hardliners inside the Islamic Republic Regime.
13 posted on 02/08/2004 2:06:56 AM PST by F14 Pilot (Do Not Believe The Media)
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To: Cindy; nuconvert; Ragtime Cowgirl; MEG33; Pro-Bush; McGavin999; AdmSmith; freedom44; RaceBannon; ...
Iran Helped Bin Laden’s Lieutenant al-Zawahiri Escape

Debka Files, Israel
7th of Feb 2004

Iran consistently denies ever having sheltered or hidden Osama bin Laden’s top lieutenant and operations ace, Dr Ayman al-Zawahiri, in the group of al Qaeda leaders present in the country. This assertion is wide of the truth. The Islamic Republic did in fact hide the bespectacled Egyptian medical doctor for close on a year. He was granted sanctuary, a base of operation and finally provided with a safe getaway route – as discovered by DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s most reliable exclusive sources.

Two years after the September 11 terrorist horrors in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania, Zawahiri’s importance as a linchpin and live wire of the al Qaeda network and badly wanted quarry of American special forces and intelligence agents.

His capture is as crucial to the United States global war on terror as the apprehension of Bin Laden himself or Saddam Hussein.

The Iranians looked after him very well. Last month, as the hunt drew near, they helped Zawahiri stay a step ahead of his pursuers and leave the country by a secret tortuous route. DEBKA-Net-Weekly learns that Iranian intelligence agents were personally ordered by Iranian intelligence minister Hojatoleslam Ali Younesi to spirit the wanted terrorist chief, disguised as an Iranian Shiite cleric out of his hiding place and across into Turkey. Travelers from Iran are not required to show passports at the Turkish frontier. An Iranian spy cell buried in Turkey waited for him and conducted him to one of their own safe houses. There he stayed for two or three days before moving on to an unknown destination.

Zawahiri is as intent on keeping al Qaeda’s terror campaign alive as of keeping his head down. Our al Qaeda watchers therefore point to his two most likely destinations: The Ferghana Valley, a lawless territory ruled by Al Qaeda that straddles Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and China; or the wild Pankisi Gorge badland on the Chechen-Georgian border. Iranian intelligence would be able to prepare the absconding terrorist mastermind’s welcome in the latter place through its active channels of communication with Chechen rebels and Saudi Al Qaeda fighters focusing on Chechnya and its environs. At the Pankisi Gorge, Zawahiri would have moved on to his next stop helped by many helping hands in his own movement.

Some made their escape there in late May, when Tehran plotted the flight of some of the al Qaeda perpetrators of the massive bombings in foreigners’ compounds in Riyadh on May 19. Flouting insistent Saudi and American demands to hand the wanted men over, Iranian intelligence gave them transportation and money to smooth their way as far as the Pankisi Gorge.

Reporting from exclusive sources in Tehran, DEBKA-Net-Weekly has learned that, a day or two after Zawahiri left Iran, a tense tug-o’-war took place between Iranian intelligence ministry officers and Iranian Revolutionary Guardsmen over control of a group of al Qaeda terrorists. They confronted each other at an airport in the northern Iranian city of Mahabad in Iranian Kurdistan.

Eight senior al Qaeda operatives were known to have been harbored in Tehran as recently as mid-August. Both the United States and Saudi Arabia, as DEBKA-Net-Weekly has reported, have a list of 60 names of Al Qaeda operations officers in the Islamic Republic.

Three of those terrorists were the prize fought over by the two armed Iranian factions.

A large Revolutionary Guards contingent was about to put them on an unmarked plane parked near a side runway with its engines running to extradite them to Saudi Arabia, the start of their deportation to their countries of origin, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

Suddenly, the Iranian Guardsmen were surrounded by a larger contingent of Iranian intelligence ministry officers, who demanded custody of all three Al Qaeda men. A second group of officers had meanwhile boarded the plane and ordered the pilot to switch off the engines. At one point in the four-hour standoff, according to our Iranian sources, guns were drawn and threats made. But the officers from the Tehran ministry issued a 15-minute ultimatum to hand the terrorists over or else they would open fire. The Revolutionary Guards backed down.

DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s intelligence sources report that this was the third time Guards had been frustrated in attempt to send some senior Al Qaeda operatives back to their respective home countries.

DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s intelligence and counter-terrorism sources believe that one of the three terrorists was Saif al-Adel, number three in the Al Qaeda hierarchy and the group’s military commander. Last month, the CIA determined that al Adel, like Zawahiri an Egyptian national, had been in Iranian custody for some three weeks. They have been searching for him for ten years, since the “Black Hawk Down” incident in Somalia in 1993 in which 18 Americans were killed. He is suspected of having commanded a Al Qaeda unit fighting in Mogadishu at the time.

Now, he is named as mastermind of the Riyadh bomb blasts and was on the point of being flown out to Saudi Arabia when the Intelligence minister Younesi had managed to block the extradition while also spotlighting a deep division in the Islamic Republic’s ruling regime.

Shortly after the airport confrontation, we learn that Moshen Razai, chef de bureau of the still powerful former president Hashem Rafsanjani, sent an encrypted report on the incident to members of his faction in the Revolutionary Guards command. He posted it over his private, closed personal website, which DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s intelligence sources were able to access. At the end of the message, Razai wrote: “There are still elements within Iran’s intelligence services who are protecting Al Qaeda adherents and will do anything to prevent their extradition to Arab countries and thwart any progress towards better relations with them.”

Razai is himself a former commander of the Revolutionary Guards. His boss, Rafsanjani, is thought to be the most influential of any Iranian leader among the Guards.

The next move came about several hours later from Imad al-Parsa, a close associate of Rafsanjani and Razai. He summoned his own inner circle, including a large number of senior Revolutionary Guards officers and told them: “The same elements that executed the 1979 seizure of the US embassy in Teheran and took its diplomatic staff hostage, thereby foredooming Iran to bad relations with the West for a generation, are at work again.”

DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s Iran analysts learn from this episode that the attempt to use al Qaeda as an instrument of terror and bargaining chip to gain a respite to develop nuclear weapons has landed Tehran in hot water with regard to the regime’s internal cohesion.

The clerical leaders are now split down the middle.
14 posted on 02/08/2004 5:00:07 AM PST by F14 Pilot (Do Not Believe The Media)
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To: F14 Pilot
Past time to make Iran several offers they can't refuse.

Perhaps it's time to make Teheran ready for massive new city planning . . . for maybe around the year 8,500.

Or maybe the "holy" cities in Iran should go first.
15 posted on 02/08/2004 5:17:14 AM PST by Quix (Choose this day whom U will serve: Shrillery & demonic goons or The King of Kings and Lord of Lords)
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To: DoctorZIn
16 posted on 02/08/2004 5:22:12 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: F14 Pilot
Very interesting info in this post.

Thank You

17 posted on 02/08/2004 6:23:09 AM PST by nuconvert ("Why do you have to be a nonconformist like everybody else?")
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To: DoctorZIn
That Continual Matter of Iran

February 08, 2004
The New York Times
Steven Weisman

WASHINGTON — Iran has been the siren of the Middle East for successive American administrations. Each presidency, it seems, has brought a new opportunity for influence that ends badly. The question is: Will President Bush follow the examples of Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan and be lured in, only to run aground on the Iranian shoals?

The Bush administration's policy makers, like many experts, are riveted by the power struggle between reformers and hardliners in Iran. But administration officials are divided over whether to press for democracy if it could jeopardize other priorities, like getting Tehran to end support of terrorism against the United States and Israel or to dismantle its nuclear arms program. Most immediately, the administration needs Iran's help to keep Iraq and Afghanistan stable.

It is not as if Washington can do much to nurture Iranian democracy. Indeed, increasingly, administration officials conclude that the reformers are likely to be routed by hard-line clerics led by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the power behind his religious throne, former President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.

"Put it this way: we're not holding our breath for democracy to break out," said a senior administration official. "We could be heading toward a situation where the mullahs are even more unambiguously in control and moderates have completely disappeared."

Last week, Iran's leading reform party said it would boycott the parliamentary elections scheduled for this month because nearly half its candidates were rejected by the 12-member Guardian Council, established to ensure rule by the religious elite. But even if reformers compete fairly in an election, many analysts say they would have trouble winning because President Mohammad Khatami, the leading reformer, is widely seen as having failed to bring about much improvement in Iranians' lives since his election in 1997.

Still, the turmoil poses many tactical questions for the Bush administration.

Administration officials wonder, for example, whether American support will make it harder to bring about democratic change. Would pressure for democracy undercut efforts to persuade Iran to abandon its nuclear weapons program, or shut down its support of terrorist organizations? Just as bad, would this cost the administration the backing it has received from Iran, and been grateful for, in establishing new regimes in Iraq and Afghanistan?

And if reformers ever gained power, might they loosen religious control in Iran, letting in more jeans and lipstick, but not ease policies inimical to the West?

"Right now, it's safe to say this administration is somewhat paralyzed," said one American official. "The feeling is that, sadly, there is no one in the Iranian government, not even the reformers, who can be the champions of the Iranian people."

Mr. Bush's team has long been divided over how to proceed. Since taking office, the administration has seemed to swing between seeking an opening and cutting off talks. Indeed, the joke in some circles is whether the administration's hardliners and accommodationists are as much at odds as they are in Tehran.

Until last May, the accommodationists were ascendant in Washington. Then came the bombings of residential compounds in Saudi Arabia, and American intelligence suggesting that Iran was sheltering the Al Qaeda operatives believed responsible. A series of meetings between mid-level Iranian and American envoys were suspended.

Last summer, the administration grew increasingly alarmed about Iran's nuclear weapons program and headed toward a nasty confrontation at the International Atomic Energy Agency. The focus of concern was what appears to be a plant to make highly enriched uranium for nuclear weapons at Natanz in central Iran, a site not known to nuclear experts until two years ago.

In part because of their desire to avoid another confrontation in the Middle East, Britain, France and Germany won American approval in October for a diplomatic initiative in which Iran agreed to suspend its enrichment activities at Natanz, which it maintains is a peaceful facility, and to accept additional inspection protocols.

Some American officials fear that compliance with that pledge may be slipping, and that, in any case, a confrontation over Natanz is virtually certain. "The European deal may have postponed the reckoning, but unless the Iranians give up their program, it's not going to avoid the reckoning," said a senior American official.

Even many Europeans say they are not sure of Iran's intentions. A senior European envoy said that after a meeting recently with the leader of Iran's national security agency, Hassan Rohani, it was not clear whether Iran truly intended to end its weapon program or was simply playing for time.

"We are very suspicious of their intentions," he said, adding that it was often hard to tell even in meetings who was a reformer and who was a hard-line cleric.

Many American officials argue that, terrorism and nuclear weapons aside, the most pressing concern with Iran has to do with Iraq. That is because the leading Iraqi cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, is calling for elections, which would almost certainly lead to Shiite control of Iraq for the first time in modern history.

Born and reared in Iran, Ayatollah Sistani is a mysterious figure himself. Many American policy makers fear that his ascension to power in Iraq could lead to a theocratic state with headquarters in Baghdad.

But some others say that Ayatollah Sistani is a moderate who opposes an Iranian-style theocracy. His authority should be encouraged, according to this reasoning, because it would enhance Iraq's status as a Shiite citadel and ultimately offer an alternative to hard-line clerical rule in Iran.

"Our biggest hope for regime change in Iran is to get things right in Iraq," said Patrick Clawson, deputy director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. "If a secular government can be established in Iraq with Sistani's blessings, it's going to have a huge underlying effect next door."
18 posted on 02/08/2004 8:11:46 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
I just received this from a student inside of Iran...

"I have a happy feeling today over the freedom of my country. I think it will be freed sooner than we all may expect.

The upcoming election will show the realities of the regime and will show its unpopularity to the people of the world.

So we can expect that the free world can support the freedom movement inside Iran and help us get rid of these mad mullahs."
19 posted on 02/08/2004 8:13:58 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: F14 Pilot
Freedom ~ Now!
20 posted on 02/08/2004 8:18:02 AM PST by blackie (Be Well~Be Armed~Be Safe~Molon Labe!)
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