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Iranian Alert -- February 17, 2004 -- IRAN LIVE THREAD --Americans for Regime Change in Iran
The Iranian Student Movement Up To The Minute Reports ^ | 2.17.2004 | DoctorZin

Posted on 02/17/2004 12:00:39 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: Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: iaea; iran; iranianalert; iranquake; protests; southasia; studentmovement; studentprotest
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Join Us At Today's Iranian Alert Thread – The Most Underreported Story Of The Year!

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

1 posted on 02/17/2004 12:00:40 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 02/17/2004 12:03:16 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Iranians and Arabs in U.S. Raising Money to Back Bush

New York Times - By Leslie Wayne
Feb 17, 2004

Wealthy Arab-Americans and foreign-born Muslims who strongly back President Bush's decision to invade Iraq are adding their names to the ranks of Pioneers and Rangers, the elite Bush supporters who have raised $100,000 or more for his re-election.

This new crop of fund-raisers comes as some opinion polls suggest support for the president among Arab-Americans is sinking and at a time when strategists from both parties say Mr. Bush is losing ground with this group. Mr. Bush has been criticized by Arab-Americans who feel they are being singled out in the fight against terrorism and who are uneasy over the administration's Palestinian-Israeli policies.

Yet the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and the war in Iraq have been a catalyst for some wealthy Arab-Americans to become more involved in politics. And there are still others who have a more practical reason for opening their checkbooks: access to a business-friendly White House. Already, their efforts have brought them visits with the president at his ranch in Crawford, Tex., as well as White House dinners and meetings with top administration officials.

The fund-raisers are people like Mori Hosseini, the Iranian-born chief executive of ICI Homes, a home builder in Daytona Beach, Fla. Mr. Hosseini is a Ranger, gaining the top designation after raising $200,000 from his family and acquaintances. (The minimum level of money raised for a Ranger is $200,000, while it takes $100,000 to be a Pioneer.)

Never before has Mr. Hosseini been this active politically. But he said he was inspired by Mr. Bush's "decisive" action, especially in Iraq, and Mr. Hosseini's efforts have led to an invitation to a White House Christmas party and a private meeting with the president and a handful of other donors at a recent fund-raiser at Disney World.

"He has saved Iraq," said Mr. Hosseini, who left Iran when he was 13. "He's the savior, if not of Iraq, but also of the other countries around Iraq. They want freedom. I am so sure of this because I am from that part of the world."

Mr. Hosseini's enthusiasm runs counter to what some polls say is a drop in Mr. Bush's popularity among Arab-Americans. In a recent release, the Arab American Institute, a nonprofit organization representing Arab-American interests in government and politics, said Mr. Bush's support had fallen sharply since the 2000 election. A January poll conducted for the group by Zogby International, which is headed by John Zogby, a Lebanese-American, found that Mr. Bush's approval rating among Arab-Americans had fallen to 38 percent from as high as 83 percent in October 2001.

The biggest reason for this drop-off, according to the institute's poll, is concern over Arab-Americans' No. 1 issue, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. To many Arab-Americans, the administration's actions are seen as more pro-Israel than evenhanded, especially its support of Ariel Sharon, the Israeli prime minister.

In addition, a program begun after 9/11 that required thousands of Arab and Muslim men to register with the immigration officials has sent chills through Arab-Americans, as has the antiterrorism law known as the USA Patriot Act, which Arab-Americans say is a threat to their civil liberties.

Even so, prominent Arab-Americans have kept the money flowing.

"It's like the Catholic Church," said Mr. Zogby, whose brother, James, is president of the Arab American Institute. "The total dollars are up, but the number of donors is down."

One reason may be that Arab-Americans are not a monolithic group. The term is used generally to refer to people from Arab countries, but they may have diverse religious, ethnic and cultural backgrounds, like Lebanese and other Arab Christians or Muslims from Egypt and Pakistan. Many Arab-Americans left their countries because of political and economic oppression and are now small-business owners or entrepreneurs who say the Republican Party best represents their values.

As with any specific group, it is impossible to determine exactly how much of Mr. Bush's campaign money comes from Arab-Americans.

Fred Pezeshkan counts himself among the Republican hard core. For the past 25 years, Mr. Pezeshkan has lived in Naples, Fla., where he is president of the Krate Construction Company. He is also a first-time Ranger, having raised $200,000 for Mr. Bush. In previous years, except for voting Republican, the Iranian-born Mr. Pezeshkan was not politically active.

But to Mr. Pezeshkan, the invasion of Iraq shows "a strong American interest to go to those countries in the Middle East and bring democracy, culture, education, hospitals and the things that they need."

Scott Stanzel, a spokesman for the Bush campaign, said that the campaign was "working hard to maintain" support given by Arab-Americans in 2000, but that it had no special outreach programs for them.

George Salem, chairman of the Arab American Institute and a political adviser to Presidents Ronald Reagan and the elder George Bush, said the younger Mr. Bush was "a more difficult sell to some segments" of the Arab-American population, especially because of the new antiterrorism law.

Mr. Salem, a Washington lawyer, said Mr. Bush had two big selling points: he was the first president in recent memory to call for an independent Palestinian state, and he made two high-level Arab-American appointments, Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham and the director of the Office of Management and Budget, Mitchell E. Daniels Jr., whose father is from Syria.

One of the largest concentrations of Arab-Americans is in Detroit, home to Yousif Ghafari, a Lebanese Christian who came to the United States in 1972 and now heads his own engineering firm.

For years Mr. Ghafari donated to the Republican Party, but this year he stepped up the pace, raising $350,000 to become a Ranger. He said that "the 9/11 situation was a bad situation for us" but that he supported Mr. Bush for "taking the initiative" to oust Saddam Hussein and believed that Mr. Bush had the capacity to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

"The Western-educated and business-motivated know that the whole Middle Eastern region has to change," said Mr. Ghafari, who collected donations from non-Arabs as well.

One of those Mr. Ghafari tapped is Tim Attallah, a Dearborn lawyer and a first-generation Palestinian-American. Mr. Attallah, who donated $2,000, said he was having a hard time reconciling his personal beliefs with some of the Bush administration's policies.

In 1993, Mr. Attallah stood on the White House lawn as an invited guest when the Israeli-Palestinian peace accord was signed. But now, he said, he is troubled by the administration's stance in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and is concerned about the antiterrorism law and the lack of Republican leaders campaigning for Arab-American votes.

"These are tough times for us, and we have not seen our friends," Mr. Attallah said.

Big donations have brought high-level access for Dr. Malik Hasan, a native of Pakistan and the former chief executive of Foundation Health Systems of Denver, one of the largest health maintenance organizations. In the past decade, Dr. Hasan has given several hundred thousand dollars to Mr. Bush and the Republican Party, including a $100,000 check to the Bush inaugural committee.

This year, Dr. Hasan is a Pioneer. In the past few months he has met personally with Mr. Bush, once at a White House dinner and again at a fund-raiser in Washington. He visited with Mr. Bush at the president's ranch, and Dr. Hasan's wife, Seeme, has been brought into high-level meetings on Arab-American concerns.

The couple say they are still fans of Mr. Bush, even though, Mrs. Hasan said, their American-born son was recently surrounded by the police and detained at an airport for no apparent reason other than his ethnic background.

"As a Muslim I felt it was wonderful that Saddam Hussein was removed," Dr. Hasan said. "The rest of the Muslim countries were standing there doing nothing. Honestly, I wrote to the president and said I adored his accomplishments."
3 posted on 02/17/2004 12:04:26 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn


February 17, 2004 -- THEY are known as "Arab Afghans" and have been at the forefront of terrorist wars in more than a dozen countries for almost a quarter of century. They fought in Afghanistan in the 1980s, and in the 1990s waged merciless wars in Egypt and Algeria. They made their European debut in ex-Yugoslavia and are still active in Chechnya.

Since last spring, however, the "Arab Afghans" have found a new battlefield: Iraq. It is there that they mean to make their last stand against a world they regard as "satanic."

The term "Arab Afghans" was coined in the 1980s to describe Arab "volunteers for martyrdom" who went to Afghanistan to fight the Red Army. Most came from well-to-do families, especially from the Gulf states, but others joined from Pakistan, Indonesia, Turkey and, later, the ex-Yugoslav republics. In the year 2000, most Western and Arab intelligence services estimated the number of "Arab Afghans" at around 20,000, mostly active in Algeria and Chechnya. The question now: How many have infiltrated Iraq?

It was almost 10 months ago that the first terror attacks shook the newly liberated country. We know that many elements of the fallen regime, in alliance with Mafia-style groups that had benefited under Saddam Hussein, were behind these early incidents.

The weapons and explosives used in those attacks came mostly from looted stocks of the disbanded Iraqi army. Some operations, including those against the late Ayatollah Mohammed Baqir Hakim and the U.N. office in Baghdad, bore the imprints of the fallen regime's Mukhaberat (intelligence) services.

Yet with the capture of almost all prominent Ba'athists, including Saddam himself, the "conventional" terror campaign launched last May appears to have been brought under control. The Coalition authorities and the Governing Council have also succeeded in draining part of the Ba'athist support base by including more Sunni tribes and personalities in national politics.

Since August, however, Iraq has seen two other types of terrorist operations.

The first bears the imprint of small and isolated bands looking for targets of opportunity. In some cases, the aim is revenge; in others, to send a message to one particular group, family, tribe or party. As always with this form of terrorism, it is hard to distinguish between purely personal and mainly political motives.

"Opportunist" terrorism is likely to continue for some time. Iraq is a land full of individual grievances, and, with no effective policing mechanism as yet, it is not hard for small bands to organize and carry out sporadic attacks against vulnerable targets.

But it is the second type of post-August terror that represents the main threat to security and stability now, and possibly for some time to come. It can be described as "unconventional" because it makes frequent use of suicide operations. And it is clear that the "Arab Afghans" are emerging as the most active elements in the terrorist war now faced by Iraq.

Consider what the various terrorists want.

The aim of the Ba'athist remnants was to inflict casualties on the Americans in the hope that the United States would do "another Somalia" and run away, leaving them as the only armed and organized force in a chaotic situation.

Many had shared that illusion. Iran's former President Hashemi Rafsanjani, for one, predicted last May that the Americans would "gather their things and go" once they lost 500 men in Iraq. Well, that has not happened. And the message is reaching the most diehard Ba'athists.

The adepts of opportunistic terrorism, for their part, are also likely to rethink their position as the country rebuilds its law-and-order infrastructure. Individual attacks may continue for months, if not years, as has been the case in so many other Arab countries. But these would have little or no impact on the bigger political picture.

The "Arab Afghans," on the other hand, could slow down the process of stabilization and inflict great sufferings on the Iraqi people. Unlike the terrorists of the early stages, these elements do not aim at driving the Americans out of Iraq. Their aim is to prevent Iraq from establishing a transition government whose first task would be to negotiate a speedy withdrawal of U.S. and other Coalition forces.

This type of terrorism is not new. It was first developed by the 19th century Russian nihilists, who believed that by "reducing everything to nothing" they would, somehow, build a new and better world.

The nihilists target all those who provide a society with the services it needs for a normal life. A study of the list of recent victims of terror in Iraq makes this abundantly clear.

Over 1,400 people have been killed since August. Just over 200 were U.S. and other Coalition troops. A further 600 were Iraqi policemen, new army recruits and members of the newly created criminal investigation office.

The rest of the victims consist of Iraqi teachers, doctors, economists, engineers, civil servants, political cadres, judges, lawyers, religious figures, media people and business entrepreneurs.

As various al Qaeda strategists have written in the past few months, the "Arab Afghans" regard Iraq as their No. 1 battleground. They are determined to prevent it from emerging as a pluralist, modern society in which there would be no room for the obscurantism that is the very stuff of radical Islamist ideologies.

We have seen a similar type of terrorism, first in '70s Lebanon, then in Algeria since 1992. The "Arab Afghans" perfected it in Pakistan and Algeria. In Lebanon, the aim was to decapitate rival ethnic and religious communities. In Algeria the goal was, and remains, to decapitate the nation as a whole.

It is almost certain that most of the terrorists now operating in Iraq are foreign elements who infiltrated the country in the early aftermath of the liberation. And this distinguishes them from their Algerian counterparts.

In Algeria, the overwhelming majority of the Islamic Armed Group (GIA) and similar terror gangs were local boys operating under the command of "emirs" who had once fought in Afghanistan, Chechnya and ex-Yugoslavia.

The Iraqi version of the GIA, however, consists of individuals who have little or no local base. This is why defeating them should be that much easier.

E-mail: amirtaheri@benadorassocia

4 posted on 02/17/2004 12:06:04 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Iran's Khatami: "Vote, even if election is unfair"

Tuesday, February 17, 2004 - ©2003

TEHRAN, Feb 16 (AFP) -- Reformist President Mohammad Khatami urged Iranians to turn out and vote in parliamentary elections this week to prevent hardliners from winning, even if the mass disqualification of pro-reform candidates meant the elections were not fair.

"What has happened has satisfied some and angered many others, but this anger should not push people not to take part in the elections," the embattled president said in a statement carried by the official news agency IRNA.

"Many people have the feeling that in many constituencies, they cannot vote for their preferred candidate. But with a little tolerance, they can search to find those candidates who are closest to their views," Khatami wrote.

"Even if they cannot send the person they want to the Majlis, they can prevent those they do not want from entering," he added.

In a clear reference to religious hardliners, he warned that "non-participation in elections would allow a minority to take control of the destiny of the country."

"Nobody can force our people from adhering to a point of view they do not believe in, but at the same time one cannot not participate in the elections ... even if the people, the candidates and the deputies have been mistreated."

He called on voters to "choose the best possible candidate", but admitted he was "writing with a heavy heart".

"We must fight with all our strength to defend religious democracy," said the president.
5 posted on 02/17/2004 12:21:13 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: All
Iran's conservatives mull "Chinese model"

IranMania News
17th Feb, 04

TEHRAN,(AFP) -- Conservatives poised to win Iran's parliamentary elections this Friday have a clear objective: reimpose clear political and social boundaries they feel have been damaged by the incumbent reformists, and focus on delivering a badly needed burst of economic development.

Not surprisingly, the talk is of hardliners here embracing the "Chinese model" -- albeit with an Islamic twist.

In recent weeks, the right-wing Kayhan newspaper espoused the example of Beijing in a commentary lashing out at Iran's reformers. "Chinese reforms", the paper argued, were what people in Iran needed -- a focus on growth and jobs.

In contrast, Kayhan said, the reformists' four-year hold on parliament and their focus on social issues only resulted in political bickering, and ultimately a total stalemate while the economy was ignored.

For Amir Mohebian, an editor at the conservative Ressalat paper, the likely winners of Friday's elections do "want high economic growth, but that does not mean political repression."

Ahmad Tavakoli, a top member of the Coalition of Builders of Islamic Iran -- a conservative bloc expected to do well in Friday's Majlis polls -- was also keen to play down any suggestions of looking overseas for a political strategy.

He said he and his allies "take on board anything that is good, but the Islamic republic of Iran has its own identity and own values, and has no need to copy anyone" -- even though the economy has become central in their bid to woo an electorate that has in the past voted en masse for political change.

"These questions are not priorities given the real problems of the country, notably economic," said the bloc's spokesman Gholam-Ali Hadad-Adel when asked about issues such as headscarfs for women or whether to allow Iranians to watch satellite television.

But if conservatives are looking to China's communists for ideas, there are catches. While all agree Iran's hardliners could excel at restricting political freedoms, improving an economy lumbering under state control and opening it up to crucial foreign investors may be a tough task.

Indeed, conservatives have in the past been blocking reformist efforts to introduce painful reforms needed before Iran can compete internationally and reduce its reliance on oil exports.

"The Chinese are able to get away with no progress on democracy because they have the economic clout and they can deliver huge levels of economic growth driven by the manufacturing industry," explained a senior European diplomat.

But the problem for Iran, he said, is that "outside the oil sector, the economy is stagnant and in desperate need of very difficult reforms. Iranian society is more open and better informed, and therefore tougher to discipline if things go badly on the economic front."

Some analysts fear conservatives may be tempted to spend the country's multi-billion-dollar stash built up on the back of high oil prices. If oil prices slip, the present annual economic growth rate here -- which hovers around six or seven percent -- could go down with them.

And according to liberal opposition leader Ebrahim Yazdi, "when it comes to repressing social freedoms, there would be problems."

For analyst Said Leylaz, "the Chinese model is already being applied in some way", given that conservatives already wield power over most state institutions and the economy and that social regulations remain clearly defined.

"The conservatives will, without doubt, continue on this road. But maintaining high economic growth will be a problem -- and if the conservatives do not manage to keep growth above six percent, there will be very serious social tensions."
6 posted on 02/17/2004 1:37:41 AM PST by F14 Pilot (Either you are with us or you are with the REGIME)
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To: DoctorZIn
"90% of Iranians oppose conservatism":Tajzadeh

February 17, 2004
IranMania News

Tehran, February 17 – Following the wide-scale illegal disqualification of certain reformist and independent candidates of the February elections by the conservative Guardian Council, the majority of the Iranians say that they won’t take part in the elections, Mostafa Tajzadeh, Iran’s Former Deputy Interior Minister told Iran’s Labor News Agency (ILNA).

“Although the conservatives have repeatedly claimed that the most important issue for them is people’s participation in the election and not the results of the elections, in practice they have proved the opposite.

The illegal invalidations not only made the upcoming elections unhealthy and unfair but inflicted a heavy blow on the Iranians’ national solidarity, security and honor. In view of the regional developments, the only weapon Iran could have in the face of the foreigners was holding free and fair elections. However today it seems that the Iranian hardliners are trying to set the scene for foreign aggression.”

On the rifts among the reformers, Tajzadeh commented: “All reformist groups unanimously believe that the February elections are unfair and that more than 90% of the Iranians oppose the rule of conservatives and will not vote for them. They are also sure that that the participation of 40 million voters in the elections, as claimed by the conservatives is impossible and even Iran’s State Broadcasting Organization’s propaganda can hardly prove fruitful.”
7 posted on 02/17/2004 1:39:20 AM PST by F14 Pilot (Either you are with us or you are with the REGIME)
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To: DoctorZIn
Iran's anniversary clouded by electoral crisis

By Golnaz Esfandiari
18th Feb 2004
Asia Times

Twenty-five years ago, mass protests against the United States-backed regime of Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi led to one of the key events of the 20th century - the Islamic revolution in Iran. Crowds at that time chanted, "Down with the Pahlavi monarchy! Down with [then Prime Minister Shahpour] Bakhtiyar!"

But celebrations to mark the event have been overshadowed by the political crisis over the disqualification of more than 2,000 pro-reform candidates from parliamentary elections scheduled for Friday. The candidates have been accused of being "unIslamic "or disloyal to the constitution". Among them are 80 sitting lawmakers, which means that in at least 132 of the 290 seats in parliament there's little opposition.

Iranian President Mohammad Khatami used the anniversary to deliver a speech to a crowd in Azadi Square, in which he warned that restricting political freedoms represents a threat to the nation. Khatami reminded the crowd of what motivated the revolutionaries of a quarter century ago. "A quarter of a century has passed since the victory of the Islamic revolution. Before the victory of the revolution, this public square, in which you have gathered today, saw masses of people who, based on Islam, chanted for independence and freedom," Khatami said.

Khatami, elected as a reformer, said elections are a symbol of democracy and warned that "if this [right] is restricted, it's a threat to the nation and the system." But despite the disqualifications, Khatami urged Iranians to turn out and vote in parliamentary elections to prevent hardliners from winning, even the elections were not fair.

In a statement carried by the official news agency IRNA, Khatami said: "What has happened has satisfied some and angered many others, but this anger should not push people not to take part in the elections. Many people have the feeling that in many constituencies, they cannot vote for their preferred candidate. But with a little tolerance, they can search to find those candidates who are closest to their views. Even if they cannot send the person they want to the majlis [parliament], they can prevent those they do not want from entering."

The outgoing speaker of Iran's parliament has defended taking part in the election. Mehdi Karoubi acknowledged that Friday's vote would not be fair since the unelected Guardians Council of senior clerics had disqualified so many contestants.

"It's not a fair election because of wide disqualifications, but we can discuss if it's a free election or not, because people are free to vote or not," he told a news conference. "We believe that our presence is more useful than just not participating," said Karoubi, a member of the pro-reform Association of Combatant Clerics.

Reformist supporters of Khatami said that they were bound to lose because hardliners had rigged the candidate lists. The biggest reformist party, the Islamic Iran Participation Front, led by Khatami's brother, Mohammed Reza, is boycotting the poll after all its candidates were banned.

Karoubi, a mid-ranking cleric, said that the Guardians Council had become politicized, and that splits among clerics could damage Iranians' faith in Islam. In an interview with Sharq newspaper, he forecast that the conservatives would use their control of the next parliament to impeach Khatami's most reformist ministers.

Most Iranians have appeared indifferent to the latest round of a long-running power struggle, having lost faith in Khatami's ability to deliver change due to the conservatives' hold on the levers of power.
In contrast to the 2000 parliamentary election at the height of the reform movement's popularity, this campaign has been low key, with no big rallies. As a result, political analysts forecast a low turnout, especially in the big cities.

Revolution remembered
Faraj Sarkouhi, an exiled writer and journalist, says that for many Iranians, the days of the revolution were ones of great hope in the country. "I had been freed from jail in those days, and I hoped that the [revolutionary] forces would bring democracy and progress for the country, despite the religious leadership that caused some doubts, I hoped that the press would be free, the books would be published without censorship, [political] parties, associations and civil society organizations would be formed, and I hoped that I would be able to write freely. In fact, in these 25 years, I have not seen anything but the death and silencing of those beautiful hopes and dreams," Sarkouhi said.

Sarkouhi was a signatory to the 1994 declaration of 134 Iranian writers, a document that called for an end to literary censorship. He left Iran in 1998 after being jailed several times.

Many Iranians from different political groups and different backgrounds were involved in the protests that led to the fall of the shah. They were united by strong opposition to the shah's rule, its lack of freedoms as well as foreign influence in the country. The revolution itself was concluded 10 days after the return of Iran's main religious leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Khomeini returned on February 1, 1979, after 14 years in exile - lastly in France - and took control of the revolution. "Independence, freedom, and Islamic Republic" were the slogans of the revolution.

Ali Akbar Mahdi is a professor of sociology at Ohio Wesleyan University in the US. He says few people knew what an Islamic system would look like. "The last [slogan, about the Islamic Republic] was really something that came out at the very end of the revolutionary process, when the leadership of the revolution was taken over by the clergy. And the public did not really know what the content of this Islamic Republic [would be]. They trusted one man, and that was Ayatollah Khomeini," Mahdi said.

On April 1, 1979, after a referendum, Khomeini declared the country an Islamic republic. Islamic laws were applied, and an Islamic constitution was created, which gave ultimate authority to unelected religious leaders.

Amir Taheri is a veteran Iranian journalist and writer who, at the time of the revolution, was editor-in-chief of Iran's largest newspaper, Kayhan. He says the Islamic system dashed the hopes of many of the revolutionary forces. "[It is,] of course, a disappointment to the left. It's a disappointment to the democrats and, of course, it was a disappointment to the monarchists, as well. So most of the hopes of the revolutionaries were dashed. Many of the leaders were executed by the mullahs when they came to power," Taheri said.

Saeed Rajayi Khorasani, a former Iranian ambassador to the United Nations, says the Islamic Revolution fulfilled all its promises: Iran is an Islamic republic, Iran is independent, and there is a great deal of liberty in Iran. He was asked about the detention of writers and activists for expressing their views and the closure of more than 80 liberal publications in recent years. "Of course, there are certain red lines in certain areas of, let's say, the political domain of the country. You cannot be disrespectful to the leadership. You cannot ignore the significance of the Shoraye Negahban, or the Guardians Council. The Guardians Council is also part of the constitution of the country," Khorasani said.

But analysts say the revolution has had mixed results. According to Mahdi, the Islamization of Iran's judicial system was one of the most devastating aspects of the revolution. "The clerics did not like the shah's judicial system. They regarded it as modern, as civil and as Westernized, and they dismantled the whole thing from day one, and they put in place a Sharia law-based system, which has been very, very painful on the country, particularly on women in that country," Mahdi says.

Following the Islamic Revolution, wearing a veil became mandatory for women, and many other discriminatory laws were introduced, such as the need for a woman to first get permission from her father or husband before she could travel.

Mahdi says that after the revolution, Iranian women lost most of the rights they had gained during the shah's era, but says their social participation increased. "Despite all that negativity, Iranian women's participation in social affairs and social life has increased tremendously because the traditional sector of the society - which was the largest sector of society during the Pahlavi [period] - did not participate because they never trusted the shah and the system, and they did not regard the society as a safe place for women. Now this kind of traditional fear, religious fear, has been removed, so there is a lot of gain there, as much as there is a great deal of suppression," Mahdi said.

Following the revolution, Iran became internationally isolated and mismanagement of the economy led to a sharp decline in living conditions. The revolution has had some positive effects, but observers say they were largely inadvertent. Taheri says the revolution helped politicize Iranians and raise their political awareness. As a result, he says, Iranians now know what they want. "The Iranian people now know that democracy and human rights are not abstractions, but they are concepts that affect their daily lives. So for the first time, there is a genuine popular constituency in Iran for democratization and the achievement of human rights. And I think that is really the most positive outcome of the past 25 years," Taheri said.

In Iran, media reported that millions of people attended rallies around the country last week to reconfirm their allegiance to the 1979 revolution. In the capital, Tehran, tens of thousands reportedly marched to Azadi (Freedom) Square to take part in a parade.

Professor Mahdi says most Iranians aspire for change but don't want another revolution. "The Islamic Republic is in a struggle with itself. There is a tremendous amount of force within the country and a great deal of aspiration to change, but this change is desired to be gradual and nonviolent. Iranians do not seem to be at this stage anymore, desiring some kind of a violent overthrow again, just like the revolution, because they did not have much positive experience out of that revolution. So for that reason, I believe that we will see more change, more opening of the system and more pressure from the bottom," Mahdi said.
8 posted on 02/17/2004 4:55:12 AM PST by F14 Pilot (Either you are with us or you are with the REGIME)
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To: F14 Pilot
There's some interesting technical information over at
9 posted on 02/17/2004 5:20:14 AM PST by risk (Democracy. Whiskey. And sexy!)
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To: DoctorZIn
This just in from a student inside of Iran...

According to a poll done by one of the organization run by Mr. Hashemi and IRNA news Agency, 36% of Tehrani people will attend the election on Friday.

And the turnout in small cities and villages wont be more than 50%.

Remember that ordinary people expect less than 25% turnout in Tehran and this poll was done by a governmental institute. "


"An Iranian webpage asks Iranian to show their unity on boycotting the election by sending SMS messages on their cell phones and asking their fellow friends to boycotte the election and forward that message for another 5 people they know."
10 posted on 02/17/2004 7:03:33 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
When Turban Meets the Crown

February 17, 2004
Daily Star
Mahan Abedin

The visit to Iran last week by Prince Charles, the heir to the British throne, was widely perceived, both in Britain and the Middle East, as an important episode in Anglo-Iranian relations.

While the palace and the British government vigorously denied the political intent of the trip, this was difficult to accept. That Charles would visit the Islamic Republic solely in his capacity as patron of the British Red Cross stretched naivete to its extremity.

Yet for all its political significance, the real importance of this trip lay in its symbolism. After all, virtually nothing could be more symbolic than the presence of a British royal in Tehran on the eve of the 25th anniversary of the victory of the Islamic revolution against the former Iranian monarchy.

The British government has been seeking better relations with Iran since President Mohammad Khatami’s election in 1997, and the effort was escalated in 1999. The strategic decision, adopted by the British foreign policy establishment, did not go unopposed ­ inside Britain and outside. Domestically, a faction inside the British intelligence services that tends to view Iran through an American conceptual prism fiercely opposed normalization. But opposition did not step there: Even Prime Minister Tony Blair was less than enthusiastic over the prospect of warmer relations with Tehran. However he did not wield his veto and allowed the Foreign Office to pursue its strategy of engagement.

Internationally, the British decision was opposed by both the US and Israel. Prior to 1997, the UK had usually sided with the US, as opposed to the European Union, over sensitive issues relating to Iran. Washington did not share the belief that the reformist victory of 1997 signified a potential radical shift in the policies of the Islamic Republic. An important plank of US foreign policy in the Middle East consists of distorting Iran’s image, and the US was unwilling to follow Britain in relinquishing this powerful rhetorical tool.

Britain’s warming relations with Iran has had some success ­ the recent nuclear deal sponsored by the EU, in which Britain played a role, is an example. However the greatest achievement was the partial overcoming of the historical volatility in Anglo-Iranian relations. An example was the case of Hadi Soleimanpour in September 2003. The former ambassador to Argentina was detained for an investigation into his possible involvement in a 1994 bomb attack in Buenos Aires, and then released. Had the event occurred prior to 1999 it would likely have resulted in a break in relations. As it happens the event passed with relatively little fanfare.

Britain has justified the positive engagement with the Islamic regime primarily on the grounds that this will strengthen reformist elements in Iran. A confrontational approach, supporters of the policy argue, will merely consolidate the position of hard-line forces in the regime. Recent events in Iran, particularly the decision of the conservatives to consign reformists to the margins of political life, pose serious threats to the British approach and effectively destroy the argument that an engagement policy can strengthen reformists.

The British have been reluctant to change their policy, even as reformists have been barred from entering the forthcoming Parliament. This is not wholly inspired by cynicism, for Britain truly believes that the moderation and maturity evident in Iranian foreign policy is now largely irreversible. Charles’ trip was designed to send a signal that the conservative monopolization of power will not affect Anglo-Iranian relations. From this perspective, the trip did not signify a radical shift in relations, but merely served to consolidate post-1999 gains.

Contrary to widespread belief, Iran’s foreign policy is not significantly affected by the regime’s internal contradictions. This has been particularly evident in recent years, as the Islamic Republic has striven to develop a highly sophisticated foreign policy driven by national interest rather than ideology. It follows that the decision to receive Charles in Tehran is unlikely to have been influenced by factional politics. More likely it was shaped by the regime’s desire to flaunt Western support in the face of perceived threats from the US and Israel.

Indeed, the Iranian security and diplomatic communities anticipate a serious confrontation with the US over the nuclear issue. Their assessment is that Britain can relieve the pressure and possibly dissuade the US from contemplating a military solution to the crisis. In this respect Iran, ironically like Britain itself, may have an exaggerated sense of the “special” nature of the Anglo-American alliance. This could lead to major miscalculations in the event of a conflagration, as the UK is unlikely to be in a position to exert much effective influence over the US.

Irrespective of all the serious political ramifications, it was the symbolism of Charles’ trip that was most important. The trip is likely to be seen in the future as a milestone of the Islamic Republic, at least in terms of shock value. The regime has built much of its ideological reputation on its uncompromising enmity toward monarchical institutions. Moreover, many Iranians, particularly the Islamists and nationalists who form the regime’s natural constituency, regard the British monarchy as a historical symbol of illegitimate foreign influence in Iran.

By playing host to Charles as he roamed the rubble of Bam and shook hands with the hapless Khatami, the powers-that-be in the Islamic Republic took another major step in deconstructing their own ideological world.

Mahan Abedin, a London-based financial consultant and analyst of Iranian politics, wrote this commentary for THE DAILY STAR
11 posted on 02/17/2004 7:05:08 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Legitimacy in Tatters

February 17, 2004
St. Petersburg Times
Times Editorial

Hope for the liberalization of Iran through the democratic process is about to be dashed, at least in the short run. The country is preparing to hold sham parliamentary elections that are expected to return conservative hard-liners to power.

The elections, scheduled for Feb. 20, have been rigged by the Council of Guardians, a powerful group of unelected clerics that has unilaterally disqualified thousands of reformist candidates, including more than 80 incumbent parliament members. The return of the legislative branch into the hands of the nation's right wing may or may not dim some of the expectations for rapprochement with the West, but it will certainly disengage the government further from the hearts and minds of its own people - leaving embers of discontent burning.

It has been 25 years since the Islamic revolution ended the rule of the shah. Young Iranians, many of whom have no memory of that time, have become restless with the weight thrown around by the nation's rigid mullahs, who hold ultimate control of the state and most aspects of life. It has been apparent since 1997, when reformist President Mohammad Khatami was elected over a candidate preferred by the hard-liners, that public opinion has shifted and is clamoring for reform. Since then, Khatami was re-elected and the reformists won a majority in parliament.

But even with a clear, popular mandate, the reformist agenda has been thwarted by the persistent efforts of the nation's religious leaders, who have used their power to set aside legislative reforms, shutter critical newspapers and jail journalists. The people's frustration with the lack of change was exhibited in recent municipal elections in which conservative candidates swept to victory because a large proportion of the electorate didn't bother to vote.

Yet only a matter of days ago, it appeared the mullahs had finally gone too far. The move by the Council of Guardians to take back the parliament by preventing more than 2,000 reformists - nearly a third of the candidates - from running seemed to be the last straw. In response, 130 of 290 parliament members resigned in protest. Khatami stated he would refuse to stage elections under these conditions. But as the standoff reached a climax, Khatami caved. The elections are now on track, and their legitimacy is in tatters.

Iran's hard-liners may have won this battle, but it is clear their hold on power is only secured through coercion and manipulation. The growing unrest of the population - 70 percent of which is under 25 - with the country's stalled economy and unresponsive government is foreshadowing a day of reckoning. Despite this short-term defeat, reform will come to Iran. The only question is when and how.
12 posted on 02/17/2004 7:06:21 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Beards In, Beckham Out

February 17, 2004

Tehran - Once-popular cultural centres are slowly being given an Islamic cast, David Beckham has been declared persona non grata, and "religious and revolutionary values" is the new catchphrase.

Iran's conservatives, poised to win control of the Islamic republic's parliament in elections on Friday, have already been in charge of Tehran's muncipality since winning local polls a year ago.

And a peek at their new-look Tehran gives a taste of things to come if they also secure control over the legislature.

"Tehran's managers are racing to close down all cultural and art centres," said prominent MP and film director Behrouz Afkhami, part of the incumbent reformist majority set for a pounding in the polls.

"Words like culture, entertainment or leisure terrify them," he said of the conservatives, who have all but assured themselves of sweeping into the Majlis after a hardline political watchdog, the Guardians Council, disqualified most reformists from standing.

During the 1990s, the drab urban sprawl of Tehran underwent something of a cultural renaissance under the management of moderate and reformist-leaning managers.

Cultural centres sprung up, offering residents from all social classes facilities such as language courses, cinema, libraries, theatre groups and music concerts.

But in February 2003, greater Tehran's population of around 10 million gave in to political apathy sparked by the intractable conservative-reformist standoff.

Less than 12 percent of eligible voters turned out, and the conservatives won.

"Since then, the new mayor has been working to make Islam the number one feature of Tehran," explained an Iranian journalist.

Fast food

Two of the capital's western-style fast food restaurants, popular among young people for picking up more than a burger, were also shut down by the authorities late last year.

Under Iranian law, restaurants are required to have dedicated male and female sections - something that many of the fast food joints here appeared to have forgotten.

Aside from setting new, stricter boundaries for cultural activities, mayor Mahmoud Ahmadi Nejad is also enforcing a dress code which requires long-sleeved shirts for male muncipal employees and some form of facial hair.

On the smog-clogged streets, police are getting tougher on "vice" - especially drivers who play thumping music in their cars. And the colour provided by advertising billboards has also come under attack.

Last year, the face of England soccer star David Beckham, advertising motor oil in the first such use of a foreign celebrity since the 1979 revolution, was taken down by the municipality.

No explanation was given, but conservatives are notoriously hostile to any personality cults - unless the centre of attention is the nation's supreme leader.

"Many of these ads are immoral and contrary to the culture and ideals of the Republic," said Mohammad Ali Abadi, in charge of cleaning up the city.

Edited by Duane Heath,,2-10-1462_1484987,00.html
13 posted on 02/17/2004 7:07:54 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Elections Add to Frustration in Tehran's Traffic

February 17, 2004

TEHRAN -- "You can turn that thing off and put a cassette on instead," the young passenger tells the taxi-driver. "That thing" is Iranian state radio telling the country to go out and vote.

Iranians are left with few political choices in Friday's parliament elections after Islamic hardliners disqualified most reformists from even standing, meaning that conservatives are all but certain to win.

And frustration over the polls, and the country's politicians as a whole, has only added to the clouds of pollution that millions of Tehranis battle every day during the rush hour.

"The people must take part in the elections with enthusiasm," proclaims the message on conservative-run state radio, urging Iranians to fulfil their civic duty as ordered by supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

"Go on, switch it off and put a cassette on," insists the young man, aged around 20 and sporting a neatly trimmed beard on his chin and perfectly comfortable interrupting the conversation of the total strangers sharing the taxi ride with him.

"You pay me just 1,000 rials (12 cents) and you are going to give me orders on top of that?" the visibly fatigued driver hits back.

Tehran's shared public taxis are a world unto themselves, constantly changing as passengers get on or off. Men and women are crammed in together, while elsewhere strict rules of gender segregation are enforced.

Up to six or seven commuters can be squeezed in to one car. In general there are four on the back seat and two on the front passenger seat -- grim stuff for the one who has a handbrake wedged against his backside.

Fat people pay double.

The driver's seat is slid forward, his body forced against the steering wheel. They mostly drive Paykans, a locally produced car derived from Britain's Hillman Hunter of the 1960s.

There are 30,000 city taxis with official licences, and 80,000 without.

With inflation and unemployment high, many use their cars as taxis on a freelance basis, braving six-lane traffic on highways that have three lanes and are shrouded in a cloud of choking carbon monoxide that gives the city its unattractive grey-brown aura.

For the residents of the city who wait for rides at intersections, there are few other modes of transport, aside from paying top-dollar for the second-rate cars available on the Iranian market.

And having to endure a thankless job for very little money, the shared taxi drivers do not take lightly to moaning.

"Nobody forced you to get in, so you can pay and get out," this driver tells the young man, who promptly takes heed and jumps out.

The other passengers, however, protest. "You remind me of my son," an old man tells the driver. "You don't even make an effort to understand."

"It's just like those who are monopolising everything," he says of Iran's politicians. "The result is that people don't believe in anything anymore."

"You're right," admits the driver, a tired man who looks around 50 but is probably much younger. "People are so taken up by their own problems that they can't listen to these kind of radio programmes any longer."

The older passenger thanks the driver for the apology for not switching off the radio. "If only our leaders would also recognise their errors."

A well-dressed woman, also aged around 50, then climbs in and takes the seat vacated by the disgruntled young man. And debate over the election begins again.

"We've been hearing these slogans for the past 25 years," she says of the revolutionary propaganda. "Once these people get elected, they will fill up their pockets. So why bother voting on Friday?"
14 posted on 02/17/2004 7:09:19 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Iran Confirms it is Vettig Use of New Centrifuges

February 16, 2004

TEHRAN -- A senior Iranian official has acknowledged Iran is working on an advanced uranium enrichment centrifuge, but denied that such second-generation equipment had already been produced, a press report said.

"That Iran is building a new generation of centrifuge is a lie. Iran is just conducting a preliminary study of the G2 centrifuge and has informed the International Atomic Energy Agency," Hossein Mussavian told the Hamshahri newspaper.

The official is the secretary for international relations in Iran's powerful Supreme National Security Council, and close to the body's chief Hassan Rowhan -- who last year negotiated a deal with Britain, France and Germany for Iran to cooperate with the IAEA.

Diplomats at the IAEA's headquarters in Vienna said last week that UN nuclear weapons inspectors in Iran had found blueprints for an advanced uranium enrichment centrifuge, the G2, that Tehran had failed to declare even as it was claiming to be providing full disclosure on its atomic energy program.

Enriched uranium is used as fuel for nuclear reactors but can also be used for making atomic bombs.

But the diplomats said the discovery was not a "smoking gun" that the IAEA could use to take Iran before the UN Security Council, where it could face sanctions.

Nevertheless, the discovery has raised fresh alarms and has placed the Islamic republic -- accused by the United States of trying to develop nuclear weapons -- under further scrutiny ahead of the publication of a new IAEA report on Iran's controversial bid to generate atomic energy.

The IAEA board had given Iran until last October 31 to reveal all details of its nuclear program.

In addition, Iran had promised Europe's "big three" that it would suspend uranium enrichment, yet appears to be working within a narrow definition of that suspension.
15 posted on 02/17/2004 7:10:55 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Nuclear Proliferation as a Marketing Opportunity

February 16, 2004
Radio Free Europe
Bill Samii

The international community is watching with concern as Iran continues to violate its nuclear obligations. Now, Tehran has offered to sell nuclear fuel. It is unlikely that Tehran already has the capability of producing the fuel, so this seems almost undoubtedly to be another tactic designed to convince the Europeans to make more concessions to Iran. And once they make more concessions, the Europeans -- led by France, Germany, and the United Kingdom -- will surely proclaim their actions to be the outcome of dialogue with Tehran.

U.S. President George W. Bush said during an 11 February speech at the National Defense University in Washington, D.C. that Pakistani nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan provided Iran with uranium centrifuge designs and Iran is "unwilling to abandon" its uranium enrichment program, according to the White House website ( He said Iran is taking advantage of a loophole in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to "produce nuclear material that can be used to build bombs under the cover of civilian nuclear programs."

Bush said that permitting countries such as Iran, which are being investigated for violating their nonproliferation obligations, to serve on the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors is "an unacceptable barrier to effective action." Any state under investigation should not be on the board, Bush said, and it should be suspended if it is on the board already. "Those actively breaking the rules should not be entrusted with enforcing the rules."

Iranian state radio on 12 February accused Bush of repeating "baseless allegations" against Iran.

But then the "Financial Times" reported on 12 February that IAEA inspectors found undeclared experiments including a new type of uranium-enrichment centrifuge design in Iran. Reports in the 13 February editions of "The Washington Post," the "Los Angeles Times," and "The New York Times" added details to this story. They reported that UN inspectors had discovered documents for a sophisticated uranium enrichment machine referred to as P2 or G2, depending on the source. This discovery resulted from the investigation into the activities of Pakistani nuclear scientist A.Q. Khan.

Tehran had not previously declared this centrifuge project although it claimed to have been completely forthcoming in an October report to the IAEA (see "RFE/RL Iran Report," 27 October 2003). Iran's IAEA representative at the time, Ali Akbar Salehi, said, "We have submitted a report that fully discloses all our past activities, peaceful activities, in the nuclear field."

Henry Sokolski of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center described the importance of this discovery in a comparison: "This is like saying I prohibited you from having any motorized vehicles, and you declared your motor scooter, and I discovered you had a Ferrari," the "Los Angeles Times" reported.

Referring to the initial reports about the discovery of undeclared Iranian nuclear activities, U.S. Undersecretary of State John Bolton said, "The information that the IAEA has learned is certainly consistent with the information that we had, and it's not surprising. It's another act of Iranian deception and not something that leads to any feeling of security that they are carrying through on their commitment to suspend enrichment activity."

Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi, during a 12 January visit to Rome, rejected Bolton's comments, RFE/RL reported. Kharrazi responded, "We have decided to develop nuclear technologies for peaceful purposes and we insist on that. This is our right, this is our legitimate right to have access to nuclear technology for peaceful purposes." Kharrazi claimed that Iran does not believe nuclear weapons will contribute to its security, and he said that Iran is ready to respond to IAEA inspectors' questions.

In the wake of Kharrazi's statement, Tehran decided to exploit the opportunity to market its new product. Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Assefi said on 13 February, "The Islamic Republic of Iran has achieved major success in the technology of nuclear fuel centrifuge ready to play its role within the context of an international cooperation in the market that supplies fuel for nuclear reactors," ISNA reported.

In case that statement was insufficiently clear, Kharrazi said, according to a 14 February IRNA report, "The Islamic Republic of Iran, as a country which has potentials on producing nuclear fuel, is ready to offer its produced fuel to international markets."
16 posted on 02/17/2004 7:12:10 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
"You can turn that thing off and put a cassette on instead," the young passenger tells the taxi-driver. "That thing" is Iranian state radio telling the country to go out and vote.


17 posted on 02/17/2004 7:13:06 AM PST by F14 Pilot (Either you are with us or you are with the REGIME)
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To: DoctorZIn
Reformist Shuns Iranian Vote Plea

February 17, 2004
BBC News

A leading Iranian reformist MP has challenged President Mohammad Khatami's call to vote in elections this week. Reza Yusefian told the BBC that it was unfair to ask people to vote with no real competition for the hardliners.

Mr Khatami made his plea in the hope of stopping conservatives winning full control of parliament, observers say.

Iran has been in political turmoil since thousands of reformist candidates were disqualified by the hardline Council of Guardians vetting body.

Some 80 sitting MPs, including Mr Yusefian, were among those barred.

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei has ruled that the poll must proceed on time on Friday despite the reformists' complaints.

The poll suffered a new blow last Saturday with the withdrawal of a further 550 candidates who had been deemed suitable to stand.

The biggest pro-reform faction, the Islamic Iran Participation Front, had most of its top leaders disqualified and is not taking part.

About 46 million Iranians are eligible to vote in the elections, but observers say there is little sign of public interest in them.

Extra-parliamentary campaign

Mr Yusefian told the BBC World Service's World Today programme that the reformists had no chance of winning the elections.

"The MPs have declared several times that they think these elections are unfair and unjust because there is no real competition between the two rivals," he said.

"We are not convinced why the president has urged the people to participate in the election and we are not satisfied with his call."

He said the reformists would probably now move on to an extra-parliamentary campaign for change, adding that recent actions had proved them to be true to their principles.

"I think that the MPs' sit-in and resignations have convinced a lot of people that the reformists are serious regarding their demands for heading towards reform and they are not going to make some compromise and get some privileges for themselves," he said.

Mr Yusefian's comments appeared at odds with Mr Khatami's call to voters to pick candidates with views closest to their own.

Mr Khatami said a low turnout could mean a minority gaining control of Iran, which would not be in its interests.

The BBC's Jim Muir, in Tehran, says the president had taken an "unusual step".

Mr Khatami has disappointed many reformists who hoped he would refuse to endorse the 20 February elections unless they were free and fair.

Our correspondent says that for him to do so would have been to question the foundations of the Islamic republic, so instead he was trying to make the best of a bad job and to persuade the people to vote.

Low turnout predictions

A government survey predicts a turnout of about 30% of voters nationwide.

Some experts believe that in the big cities - especially the capital Tehran - turnout could drop as low as 10%.

BBC regional analyst Sadeq Saba says some reformist groups are campaigning for a low turnout in an attempt to put the legitimacy of the new chamber in question.

The conservatives, meanwhile, have decided to field less known candidates in an attempt to boost their support, he adds.

They are concerned that their big guns are easily recognisable and they could be shunned by neutral voters.
18 posted on 02/17/2004 7:13:17 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Lawmakers Accuse Khamenei of Trampling on Freedom and Basic Rights

February 17, 2004
The Associated Press
Ali Akbar Dareini

TEHRAN, Iran -- In a daring move, more than 100 reformist legislators have accused Iran's supreme leader of trampling on freedom and basic rights.

The legislators, who include deputy speaker Mohammad Reza Khatami, have sent a letter to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei criticizing his support for the disqualification of about 2,400 candidates in the parliamentary elections due to be held on Friday.

It is extremely rare that people publically criticize Khamenei, who is regarded by his supporters as being incapable of error.

"The popular (1979) revolution brought freedom and independence for the country in the name of Islam, but now you lead a system in which legitimate freedoms and the rights of the people are being trampled on in the name of Islam," the legislators said in the letter, a copy of which was given The Associated Press.

"Institutions under your supervision, after four years of humiliating the elected parliament and thwarting (reform) bills, have now deprived the people of the most basic right -- the right to choose and be chosen," the letter said.

The letter was sent to Khamenei on Monday. It was not expected to be published in Iranian newspapers.

A lawmaker who signed the letter, Reza Yousefian, told the AP that Khamenei has not reacted by Tuesday afternoon and he and his colleagues in the outgoing parliament did not expect him to react.

"The state-media have ignored, and will ignore, the letter because the rulers don't want the nation even to hear criticism of Khamenei. But who doesn't know in this country that freedom has been slaughtered in the name of Islam by few unelected clerics," he said.

Yousefian is one of the legislators that was disqualified from standing again.

The disqualifications were carried out by the Guardian Council, whose 12 members are appointed by Khamenei.

President Mohammad Khatami, the elder brother of Reza Khatami, condemned the disqualifications and initially said his government would not hold elections under such conditions. However, earlier this month, President Khatami bowed to Khamenei's authority and said the elections would be held, but he warned that the lack of a fair choice would demotivate people from voting.
19 posted on 02/17/2004 7:14:22 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Clashes rock Hamadan

SMCCDI (Information Service)
Feb 17, 2004

Violent and sporadic clashes rocked, this afternoon, the western City of Hamadan as hundreds of demonstrators gathered to protest against the financial frauds of the regime and the closure of the "Islamic Equity Bank". The bank's closure follows its declaration of bankrupty while the residents believe that its managers, linked to the regime, have transferred the residents deposit to aboard.

The Islamic regime's plainclothes men and special forces have come into action by closing the perimeters of several areas around the bank's offices and have beaten and arrested several demonstrators shouting slogans against the regime and its leaders.

The most brutal repression has been reported from the "Mozafarieh Bazar" which is the hart of the city's economy.

The tension was reported as very high in his city which has been scene of various protest actions in the last two years.
20 posted on 02/17/2004 7:15:29 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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