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Iranian Alert -- February 18, 2004 -- IRAN LIVE THREAD --Americans for Regime Change in Iran
The Iranian Student Movement Up To The Minute Reports ^ | 2.18.2004 | DoctorZin

Posted on 02/18/2004 12:01:11 AM PST by DoctorZIn

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


TOPICS: Extended News; Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: iaea; iran; iranianalert; iranquake; protests; southasia; studentmovement; studentprotest
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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 02/18/2004 12:01:12 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 02/18/2004 12:05:19 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Woman joins Iran ballot

By Borzou Daragahi
18th Feb 2004

TEHRAN — Homa Nasseri will be a rarity in Friday's parliamentary election — a reform-minded woman who has been granted permission by the hard-line Council of Guardians to run for office.
Like thousands of other candidates, Miss Nasseri was originally barred from running by the council, an appointed body of clerics and jurists who vet all political candidates and laws.
But she appealed the ruling, prompting a representative from the council to come to her neighborhood and ask about her.
"They had strange questions," she said. "They wanted to know whether I prayed and whether I dressed modestly."
Apparently satisfied with what it learned, the council reversed its ruling and Miss Nasseri joined with seven other candidates who visit mosques, civic associations and studentgroups under the banner of the Independent Reformists.
There will be few others like them on the ballot Friday. Hundreds of reform candidates — including many current members of parliament — have withdrawn their names to protest the banning of like-minded politicians.
More than 100 of the reformist lawmakers yesterday put their names on an extraordinary protest letter accusing the nation's spiritual leader of rigging the election in support of hard-liners.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who is generally considered above criticism in the theocratic state, has allowed freedoms to be "trampled," said the letter.
Numerous political groups have called for a boycott of the vote, suggesting the turnout will be far lower than in past elections. Last year's Nobel Peace Prize winner, human rights lawyer Shirin Ebadi, announced yesterday that she will not vote.
Nevertheless, political campaign posters dot the streets of Tehran and ads have begun filling newspapers, many adopting the same secular, good-government themes promoted by the reformists.
"Honesty with people, confidence in the youth, management by professionals, social welfare," reads one ad for a political party.
And at a tiny mosque on a narrow side street in south Tehran, a crowd of about 50 potential voters waited one recent evening to meet Miss Nasseri, a well-spoken, unemployed doctor who has dabbled in journalism and social science.
"We're living in a country that has so many resources," she said after arriving an hour late, her grass-roots political campaign stymied by Tehran's nightmarish traffic congestion.
"We, the people of Iran, have a special history and a special culture that separates us from other nations. But we also have special needs."
Her reasonably polished stump speech touches upon all of Iran's contemporary social worries — inflation, unemployment, juvenile delinquency, drug addiction and AIDS.
"I'm an unemployed doctor, and you're an employed worker," she says. "There's no difference."
Miss Nasseri has spent about $700 on her striking campaign posters, one of which shows her wearing a red rose on her black head scarf — a sly wink at those disillusioned with the morbid tones of Iran's ruling clerics.
"There are other candidates spending $60,000 or $120,000," she said. "There's a big difference between those on top and those on the bottom."
Another poster shows her smiling broadly in front of a map of Iran and next to a globe of the world. "I wanted to convey joy with my posters," she said.
Each sign includes her Web site (, designed by her tech-savvy sister, and her e-mail address, as well as the slogan, "Peace, human rights, democracy."
She says her phone rings constantly with curious voters such as Ali Moeni, a 27-year-old taxi driver and community activist who has plastered his rickety car with her posters and says he'll devote his week to campaigning for her.
Mr. Moeni said he spends his mornings on a dusty soccer field coaching disadvantaged youngsters. "If we could get a real field for them, all of this would be worth it."
3 posted on 02/18/2004 12:11:32 AM PST by F14 Pilot (Either you are with us or you are with the REGIME)
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To: DoctorZIn
Lawmakers Reprove Iran Leader

Open Letter Boldly Accuses Khamenei of Sanctioning 'Sham' Elections

By Karl Vick
Washington Post Foreign Service [Excerpt]
Wednesday, February 18, 2004; Page A15

TEHRAN, Feb. 17 -- Outgoing Iranian lawmakers made a bold, direct challenge to the country's supreme leader Tuesday, issuing a tartly worded open letter accusing Ayatollah Ali Khamenei of leading "a system in which legitimate freedoms and the rights of the people are being trampled on in the name of Islam."

The six-page letter was released to foreign journalists in the parliament lobby, where scores of reformist incumbents held daily sit-ins for more than three weeks protesting mass disqualifications of candidates for the legislative election set for Friday.

The letter makes clear that the banned lawmakers regard Khamenei, who holds the title of supreme leader of the revolution, as responsible for this Friday's "sham" election, which was technically engineered by the Guardian Council, a supervisory body whose 12 members were appointed directly and indirectly by Khamenei. The council also has the power to veto legislation.

"Institutions under your supervision, after four years of humiliating the elected parliament and thwarting bills and restricting the legislature, have now, on the verge of the parliamentary elections, deprived the people of the most basic right the right to choose and be chosen," the letter said.

"Do the members of the Guardian Council dare to resist your orders? Or is it that, as rumors say, despite your public statements, they were permitted by you to disqualify these people illegally and widely?"

The letter appeared to challenge the ban on criticizing the supreme leader, who under Iran's theocratic system is regarded as responsible only to God. The unique structure was established for Ruhollah Khomeini, the charismatic grand ayatollah who led the 1979 Islamic revolution. The lawmakers accused Khamenei, who succeeded Khomeini in 1989 but holds a lesser clerical rank, of "petrified thinking." The letter was not reported by state-run media, whose editors have been scolded for covering the election controversy. Editors at an independent newspaper preparing to publish excerpts grimly predicted their own arrest or closure of the paper. Judges have closed more then 40 newspapers in recent years under a press law passed the last time conservatives controlled parliament.
4 posted on 02/18/2004 12:12:57 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
An Election Nobody Will Win

NYTimes Editorial
Published: February 18, 2004

ASHINGTON — It doesn't take a crystal ball to predict that Iran's ruling mullahs will be victorious in the parliamentary elections scheduled for Friday. After all, to protest the disqualification of thousands of candidates by the government's all-powerful Guardian Council, more than a third of Parliament has resigned and rival parties have vowed to boycott the voting. Still, no matter how many seats the clerical establishment gains, it will be a Pyrrhic victory — the regime is going to be far more vulnerable to the growing dissatisfaction of the Iranian public and less legitimate to the rest of the world.

This is not to say the official opposition will gain much, either. Seven years after Mohammad Khatami won the presidency on pledges of reform, few Iranians have any illusions about substantial changes under the current system. Everything that has played out in recent weeks — the three-week-long sit-in in Parliament by 80 disqualified incumbents, the widespread resignations of government officials, the Interior Ministry's refusal to organize the unfair elections — got lots of international press coverage, but it did little to reverse the Iranian public's widespread apathy about politics.

Average Iranians know that all this political wrangling is not really about their fundamental rights to free speech and representative government. Rather, it is an internal power play between the hard-liners and the reformists over who gets a bigger share of power in the current system.

In fact, Mr. Khatami's reformist rhetoric, with its sprinkling of quotations from Voltaire and Tocqueville, has done more to provide cover for European trade with Tehran than to improve the lives of ordinary Iranians. The public hangings, amputations, floggings of women and crackdowns on dissidents continue. According to the state-run news media, since the beginning of the year at least 31 people have been hanged. According to human-rights groups, economic misery, bureaucratic corruption, drug addiction and prostitution continue to rise.

The mullahcracy is so loathed that fewer than 10 percent of the electorate turned out for municipal elections last year — even though the vote was organized by President Khatami's forces. The electoral process is a self-serving practice where all candidates must declare allegiance to the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Thus it was no surprise that despite an earlier pledge not to permit an unfair election this month, Mr. Khatami eventually capitulated to Ayatollah Khamenei and is allowing Friday's charade to go ahead.

In the end, it matters little whether the pro-Khatami candidates are on the ballot or not. As the Pentagon adviser Richard Perle said at a gathering of some 5,000 Iranian-Americans last month, "There is no question where the power lies in Iran today — it isn't through the electoral process, it isn't through those people who stand for elections, it's with a handful of self-appointed dictators."

There is only one way to change the situation: a United Nations-supervised referendum on regime change. Leading Iranian exiles including Maryam Rajavi have long called for such a measure, and there are now clear indicators that the Iranian people would welcome it. A government survey last year found that 45 percent of respondents wanted the political system totally changed, even if it involved foreign intervention. (And if nearly half of Iranians were willing to say this to official pollsters, you can imagine how strong the anti-mullah sentiment really is.) Last June, tens of thousands of Iranians took to the streets to demand a nationwide referendum on regime change.

Of course, a referendum is anathema to the mullahs, who know that given the opportunity, millions in Iran would vote them out of office. That's why 4,000 of those protesters were arrested and, according to Amnesty International, many have yet to be released.

Unfortunately, the United States has sent mixed signals to Tehran. While President Bush has been unequivocal in encouraging the democracy movement, the State Department has pushed hard for negotiating with the mullahs. The department arranged a travel waiver for Iran's United Nations envoy — who is usually confined to a 25-mile circle around New York City because of a lack of diplomatic relations between the countries — to fly to Washington in January to meet with a bipartisan Congressional delegation. It has endorsed sending a Congressional delegation to Tehran on the 25th anniversary of the clerics' rise to power. (The department has even classified the Iranian National Council of Resistance, an exile group of which I am a former official, as a "terrorist organization.")

To believe that the United States can do business with tyrants in Tehran is counterproductive. Not only would a new effort at diplomacy give the mullahs a shot in the arm precisely when they face growing popular opposition, but it would signal that America is willing to negotiate with a regime that uses terror at home and abroad.

The so-called reform movement is a spent force. Millions of average Iranians have shown courage in calling for the only thing that can bring about true reform: a referendum for regime change. Washington would do well to embrace that call.

Ali Safavi is president of Near East Policy Research, a consulting and policy analysis firm.
5 posted on 02/18/2004 12:24:29 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Rejected Iran Reformer Protests in Tehran

Associated Press Writer
February 16, 2004, 12:46 PM EST

MASHHAD, Iran -- Four times he's submitted his name as a candidate for Iran's parliament. Four times the watchdogs of the Islamic establishment have said no.

Each snub changed Mohammed Sadegh Javadihesari -- from surprised to stubborn to angry.

After the latest rejection -- being included among more than 2,500 reformers disqualified from Friday's ballot -- the teacher and activist traveled 540 miles to the capital, Tehran, to join a sit-in protest with lawmakers and become a spokesman for the drive to boycott the elections.

"The conservatives are trying to conduct an ideological cleansing," said the 44-year-old Javadihesari, flicking jade green worry beads.

The story of one recalcitrant reformer is just a speck in the momentous -- and possibly critical -- showdown between Iran's non-elected theocracy, which claims divine leadership, and liberals who say the popular will demands more openness and opportunities.

But to listen to Javadihesari is to understand better how it got it this point.

He jabs his finger as he talks about "the Iranian pyramid," ruling clerics at the peak with unlimited powers and answerable to no one. It's turned an unflinching supporter of the 1979 Islamic Revolution into an equally vehement critic of the system it produced.

"We insist on democracy instead of despotism," he said. "This is what the revolution was about. We have been betrayed."

There are millions like Javadihesari. They were eager foot soldiers of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini against the Western-backed shah. Now, they are branded as dissidents by the Islamic regime for challenging their conduct.

Javadihesari was on the streets battling the doomed monarchy, then joined a volunteer militia at the front lines of the 1980-88 war with Iraq. He returned to teach high school in Mashhad, one of the strongholds of hard-line Islam in Iran and a place of pilgrimage for Shiite Muslims who visit the gilded shrine of Imam Reza, a 9th century Shiite saint.

But Imam Reza also carries another meaning for reformers. It's the colloquial name of a powerful Mashhad-based foundation run by clerics -- Astan e Qods e Razavi, or AQR. It controls more than 50 companies from construction to oil and is a symbol of the vast economic grip of the religious rulers.

Over the years, Javadihesari said, he became convinced that things were not right in Iran. The old activism began stirring inside him.

"I was always involved on the edge of politics by organizing student groups and teachers," Javadihesari said. "People kept asking me to run for parliament. I never expected what would happen."

The Guardian Council turned him down for the 1992 elections. The 12-member panel -- hand-picked by Khomeini's successor, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei -- has the power to block any candidate from running for high office.

Javadihesari said he demanded a reason for the rejection. "I was told I wasn't being loyal to the revolution," he said. "I was, frankly, shocked."

There was more to come. He had left teaching to become an editor at the newspaper Khorasan, named for the large northeastern province where Mashhad is the capital. He claimed conservative forces pushed him out of the job. He left to begin a rival paper, Toos, the ancient name of an area near Mashhad.

He tried another parliament bid in 1996. Again, he was stopped. Two years later, authorities closed Toos and Javadihesari spent 35 days in detention.

"These narrow-minded people have stolen our revolution," he said. "For us, the revolution was like our child. ... We were the ones who stopped the shah's tanks. We were the ones who faced his bullets. It was about freedom, not what is happening now."

Javadihesari often repeats the goal described by President Mohammad Khatami: an Islamic democracy. The concept is at the heart of the current duel -- acknowledging Iran's Islamic character, but allowing the will of the people to dictate policies and directions.

"These people running the country are still Muslims, but they have lost the spirit of Islam. It's about freedom and equality," said Javadihesari. "They are Muslims, but they are not faithful."

In 2000 -- when reformists backing Khatami took control of parliament -- Javadihesari was back on the Guardian Council blacklist.

He fully expected to be rejected for this year's ballot, but he refuses to back down. He believes the Guardian Council will cause a backlash against the regime.

"We don't have to make terror in the streets," said Javadihesari, who has returned to teaching at a high school. "We can just expose all the corruption and hypocrisy. We will defeat them through transparency. Different times require different medicine."

He expects no more than 20 percent turnout in Friday's elections -- an outcome that would be perceived as a resounding pledge of support for reformers and their boycott.

But in a statement issued Monday, President Khatami, while criticizing the disqualifications for barring many "competent" candidates, called on citizens to vote.

"People's lively presence in the polls will strengthen the relationship between the people and the government," the official Islamic Republic News Agency quoted the statement as saying.

Javadihesari won't say whether he will try again for parliament in four years, but he believes the reformers will eventually prevail.

"This system thinks it can push us aside. It will fail," he said. "I don't know how long it will take, but it will fail."

Copyright © 2004, The Associated Press,0,4215502.story?coll=sns-ap-world-headlines
6 posted on 02/18/2004 12:26:06 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
'200 killed' in Iran train blast

Wednesday, 18 February, 2004, 10:37 GMT
BBC News, UK

More than 200 people are reported to have been killed in Iran when rail wagons carrying sulphur, petrol and fertiliser derailed and exploded.
Many more have been injured in the blast, which happened near the town of Neyshabur in Khorassan province, Irna news agency reported.

A local official said the explosion occurred when fire-fighters were trying to extinguish the blazing wagons.

Vahid Barakchi said five villages were destroyed by the blast.

"The scale of the accident is very extensive and the damage seems to be more than initial estimates suggested," he added.

The blast shattered windows more than 10km (six miles) away and could be heard in the regional centre of Mashhad some 75km from the scene.

Several firefighters are reported to be among the dead.

Rescue workers are struggling to take more than 350 injured people to hospitals in Neyshabur and Mashhad.

Some sources say the runaway train wagons - which included 17 wagons of sulphur, six wagons of petrol, seven wagons of fertilizers and 10 wagons of cotton wool - were set loose by earth tremors.

More than 40,000 people died in an earthquake on 26 December in the ancient city of Bam in south-eastern Iran.
7 posted on 02/18/2004 2:51:54 AM PST by F14 Pilot (Either you are with us or you are with the REGIME)
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To: freedom44

Crown Prince Reza Pahlavi beside an F-5 fighter/trainer jet in Lubbock AFB, Summer of 1978.

8 posted on 02/18/2004 3:01:38 AM PST by F14 Pilot (Either you are with us or you are with the REGIME)
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To: All

A frame grab taken from Iranian television shows a destroyed train wagon near the Iranian city of Nishapur, February 18, 2004. More than 200 people were killed when runaway fuel wagons exploded in northeast Iran, the state IRNA news agency reported. IRNA reported the 51 runaway train wagons, filled with petrol, fertilizer and sulfur products, were set loose by earth tremors. (Irib/Reuters TV)

9 posted on 02/18/2004 5:40:32 AM PST by F14 Pilot (Either you are with us or you are with the REGIME)
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To: F14 Pilot
"a reform-minded woman who has been granted permission by the hard-line Council of Guardians to run for office."

That's pretty much all you have to read .....
10 posted on 02/18/2004 6:02:58 AM PST by nuconvert ("Progress was all right. Only it went on too long.")
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To: F14 Pilot
Awful story.

Could they pack any more flammable and explosive materials on that train? SHEEEEESH!

Too bad it didn't explode outside Khamenei's home.
11 posted on 02/18/2004 6:07:29 AM PST by nuconvert ("Progress was all right. Only it went on too long.")
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To: DoctorZIn
Surprised Javadihesari isn't in jail right now. Or dead.
12 posted on 02/18/2004 6:13:40 AM PST by nuconvert ("Progress was all right. Only it went on too long.")
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To: DoctorZIn
Iran Announces Shahab-3 Upgrade

February 18, 2004
Middle East Newsline

NICOSIA -- Iran has announced plans to upgrade the Shihab-3 intermediate-range missile. Iranian officials said the upgrade project would replace previous plans to develop the longer-range Shihab-4. But officials said the range of the Shihab-3 would also be extended.

"We will be optimizing our Shihab-3 instead," acting Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan said recently. "Such allegations [of developing the Shihab-4] are part of the U.S. and Israeli psychological war against the Islamic Republic."

Other officials said the upgrade of the Shihab-3 would extend the range of the missile to at least 1,600 kilometers. They said some of the improvements were demonstrated in a Shihab-3 launch in June 2003, when the missile reached a range of 1,380 kilometers. The Shihab-4 was planned for a range of 2,000 kilometers.
13 posted on 02/18/2004 7:55:51 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Iranian Youth, Skiing is More Attractive Than Voting for Cheats and Liars

February 18, 2004
Gulf News Online

Khosro zipped up his ski jacket against the cold wind and made a decision - like many young Iranians he wasn't going to vote in Friday's parliamentary election, he'd rather go skiing.

"What's the point? I voted in the last two elections but these leaders we have are just cheats and liars. I'm going to ski instead," he said, before joining a colourful queue of youngsters waiting to take a chair lift to the top of the run at the Shemshak ski resort about 57 km from Tehran.

Concerned about wide-spread voter apathy, Iran's clerical establishment has made repeated calls in recent days for a big turnout on Friday to send a message to enemies like Washington that Iranians still support the 25-year-old Islamic state.

But even a bitter political dispute over the mass disqualification from the ballot of reformist candidates by hardline clerics has failed to stir young Iranians, many of whom are disillusioned after years of failed promises of reform.

In a country where two in three are under 30 and the minimum voting age is 15, youngsters are a key constituency among Iran's 46 million voters.

Millions of youngsters voted for the moderate cleric Mohammed Khatami when he became president in 1997 and was re-elected in 2001 promising to relax social restrictions, bolster democratic institutions and reform the justice system.

But after seven years of political deadlock during which unelected hardline bodies have blocked Khatami's reform bills and jailed dozens of his sympathisers, many young Iranians now see Khatami as part of the problem.

Khatami on Monday urged Iranians to vote to prevent a conservative landslide. "Khatami had nice words but no actions," said Reza, 24, who is doing military service but wants to be a doctor. "He's part of the system, he doesn't really believe in change."

"Nothing has really moved forward here since the (1979 Islamic) revolution. Look at this ski lift - it was built by the shah. All of this resort was built by the shah. Nothing has changed, and it won't until this system collapses."

Shemshak and its sister resort Dizin are favourite getaways for well-to-do young Tehranis during the winter and spring months. Here in the Alborz mountains, away from the smog-choked streets of the capital, a relaxed atmosphere prevails.

Some girls flout Islamic dress codes by skiing bare-headed. Boys and girls squash next to one another on the ski lifts, ignoring laws that prohibit physical contact in public between unrelated members of the opposite sex.

In Tehran, too, restrictions have eased since Khatami's election. Girls wear make-up and bright headscarves, young couples can be seen holding hands. But few youngsters credit Khatami with these small changes.

"Whatever freedom we have now we earned for ourselves by resisting and no-one can take it away from us," said Kayhan, 29, as he sipped a soft drink with his girlfriend and brother in a popular fast food restaurant in upscale northern Tehran.

The political disillusionment cuts across social class, although for different reasons. For lower class youngsters like Hossein, 27, who works as a gardener for a wealthy Tehrani family, it's the lack of economic, not social opportunities, that drives his resentment against Iran's political leaders.

"Without connections or money you can't get a job or start a business," he said. "Our leaders can't be trusted. Everything here is ruined yet they tell us we're the envy of the world."
14 posted on 02/18/2004 7:56:56 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Japan, Iran Close to Reaching Deal on Oil Project

February 18, 2004
Kyodo News

TOKYO, Kyodo --- Japan and Iran may be close to reaching an agreement for a major oil development project in Azadegan, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda indicated Wednesday.

''I heard (the two countries) are negotiating for a contract,'' the top government spokesman told reporters, referring to a newspaper report that Tokyo and Tehran are expected to seal an agreement for the project in the near future.

Asked about whether the negotiations have progressed since last year, Fukuda did not give a direct answer but said, ''I think an agreement will be reached at some point.''

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hatsuhisa Takashima said at a separate press conference, ''We hope the negotiations will result in success.''

If Japan gains the rights to the oil field development, it will help diversify Japan's oil resources, Takashima said.

In Tehran, Oil Ministry sources told Kyodo News that Iran and Japan will likely reach an accord in negotiations on the project later in the day.

Japan and Iran are likely to reach a basic agreement that will grant Tokyo rights to development of the Azadegan oil field and sales of crude oil there, a major Japanese daily reported in its Wednesday evening edition.

Quoting informed sources, the Yomiuri Shimbun said the two countries will soon sign a contract, and Kazumasa Kusaka, director general of the Natural Resources and Energy Agency, has already been dispatched to Iran for further negotiations.

The Azadegan oil field is believed to have crude oil reserves of 26 billion barrels, one of the largest oil fields in the world. If the agreement is reached, it will be the largest oil field that Japan will develop independently, the daily said.

After obtaining preferential negotiation rights in November 2000, a government-backed Japanese consortium involving Tomen Corp., Inpex Corp. and Japan Petroleum Exploration Co. have negotiated with the Iranian government over the oil field in southwestern Iran for over three years.

But the talks had been stalled due to pressure from the United States which has urged Japan to withdraw from the project due to its concern about Iran's alleged nuclear program.

The Azadegan oil field will start crude oil production in 2006 with estimated maximum output of more than 500,000 barrels per day, the daily said, adding the Japanese side will likely import 300,000 to 400,000 barrels a day.
15 posted on 02/18/2004 7:58:13 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Khatami's Brother Backs Secular State in Iran

February 18, 2004
Middle East Online

MADRID -- The time has come for Iran to have a secular state in place of the Islamic regime in place since the 1979 overthrow of the Shah, Spanish daily El Pais on Wednesday quoted the brother of Iranian President Mohammad Khatami as saying.

Asked by an El Pais correspondent if the time had come for a government non-religious in composition Reza Khatami, parliamentary vice-president and leader of the main reformist party as well as the president's younger brother, responded simply: "Yes."

Reza Khatami is one of 80 sitting MPs whom the conservative and unelected Guardians Council watchdog have barred from standing in Friday's poll.

In the light of that decision Reza Khatami dubbed the election "illegal, unjust ... and "a farce without liberty."

He called on his brother "to be stronger in the face of the new conservative parliament" he expects to win the poll.

Asked by El Pais if he feared imprisonment for speaking out Reza Khatami said the regime "has sufficient tensions to bear and has no need to create more.

"They can fill the prisons but reforms will continue," he insisted.

Iranian reformists, grouped around President Khatami, are bracing for defeat in Friday's parliamentary elections amid pressure from the Islamic republic's hardline judiciary.

Mohammad Khatami appealed to Iranians on Monday to turn out for the vote, notwithstanding that they are unable to vote for some of the candidates of their choice.
16 posted on 02/18/2004 7:59:15 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: Pan_Yans Wife; fat city; freedom44; Tamsey; Grampa Dave; PhiKapMom; McGavin999; Hinoki Cypress; ...
Khatami's Brother Backs Secular State in Iran

February 18, 2004
Middle East Online
17 posted on 02/18/2004 8:00:04 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Iranians Find Outlet on Internet

February 18, 2004
Yahoo News

TEHRAN -- If Iran's hardline clergy has had little trouble barring reformist candidates from parliament, it is finding it much tougher to keep dissent from spreading on the increasingly busy Internet.

An expert scours the Web for the best free software around-- but beware the hidden cost of freebies.

Dozens of Farsi-language political websites have sprung up catering to Iranian web surfers hungry for news and views that go beyond the austere, official line of the Islamic Republic.

And while the ruling clerics look certain to tighten their hold on the political establishment in Friday's parliamentary election, they are fighting a losing battle to keep dissident websites in check, experts said.

"They are closing them down left and right," said one Internet executive who spoke on condition of anonymity. "But you close one, 10 more open."

Ali Shemirani, correspondent for the weekly magazine Assr-e Ertebat (Communications Era), estimated that between 20 and 30 major political websites were active in Iran and most of them were pro-reformist.

With some 20,000 Iranian "web logs," or online personal diaries, also sprouting up, he said, between 50 and 60 have become widely read for their overtly political content.

"Statistics show that these types of sites are growing," Shemirani told AFP. "The government may not be happy about it, but they can't stop it completely."

Reliable figures on the number of Internet users in Iran are hard to pin down, with estimates ranging from 2.5 million to four million, double the level of four years ago.

Experts say the number is likely to more than double again in the next five years in a country where two-thirds of the 66 million people are below 30 years of age and many are already technologically savvy.

Shemirani said users first zeroed in on chat rooms and e-mail but now are branching out into other areas, including current affairs. "People can now express their political ideas more freely than before," he said.

The capacity for carrying Farsi content on the Interent should also rise significantly in the coming months when Iran's first broadband services will be available, experts said.

One popular site currently available is Gooya, a directory of links to everything from news to Canadian immigration law. Another is the Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA), founded four years ago as an alternative to the official Islamic Republic News Agency.

"Since the people want more and more to get their unvarnished news items from different sites, I think the number of people visiting ISNA is on the rise," said the head of the agency's information technology desk who asked not to be named.

Reformists are sponsoring a number of sites carrying political news, including Emrooz (Today), which has been dodging a government crackdown and is based outside of Iran.

Parliamentary candidates on both sides of the political spectrum are also tapping into the Internet, with some putting their names on cards offering one-hour web access as an electoral inducement.

"I think most of the candidates and political figures have websites. They realize this is a good way to get in touch with the public," said Abdolleh Fateh, president of the Internet provider Pars Online.

Even the arch-conservative Guardians Council, which was responsible for disqualifying more than 2,300 candidates from Friday's polls, has cottoned on to the power of the web.

The poweful council, controlled by religious hardliners, has its own site of news and background documents, preaching unabashedly from its homepage, "Don't let the revolution fall into the hands of scoundrels."

One of the sassiest sites is run by the reformist vice president, Mohammad Ali Abtahi, who keeps up a web log with his own musings, gossip, anecdotes and candid photos of Iranian politicans.

He is equally candid about his feelings on Friday's elections: "I don't give a damn."
18 posted on 02/18/2004 8:01:06 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn

19 posted on 02/18/2004 8:01:57 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
"Our leaders can't be trusted. Everything here is ruined yet they tell us we're the envy of the world."

The lies just don't work any more.
20 posted on 02/18/2004 8:03:18 AM PST by nuconvert ("Progress was all right. Only it went on too long.")
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To: DoctorZIn
"reformist vice president, Mohammad Ali Abtahi....about his feelings on Friday's elections:
"I don't give a damn."
21 posted on 02/18/2004 8:08:31 AM PST by nuconvert ("Progress was all right. Only it went on too long.")
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To: nuconvert
Here is some text from France, Le Monde Diplomatique:

"By signing, together with the French, German and British foreign ministers, an agreement under which Tehran undertakes to respect international nuclear rules, Hassan Rouhani, head of the supreme national security council, breached for the first time the wall of fear that paralysed decision-making within Iran's theocracy (6). Instead of taking refuge behind the anti-Israeli and anti-US cant that hid a huge political vacuum, the Islamic government has understood the changes at international and national level. It has agreed, with no possibility of turning back, to enter into a partnership and abandon a policy of separation and clandestine action. The measures to introduce transparency that Iran has taken in an area as sensitive as nuclear weapons still have to be supplemented and confirmed to restore confidence and facilitate alliances, but the decision of principle has been taken.

The agreement in the nuclear field, in which France played a key role, is also revolutionary for Europe. For the first time in 50 years it has seized the initiative from the US and proved that its method is effective. While applying pressure and occasionally threats, Europe proposed a positive outcome that met Iran?s needs and legitimate expectations: access to modern technologies and a role in regional security.

Whereas 25 years of US ostracism had had no effect in Iran, the European initiative promising an immediate outcome meant that it was possible both to provide security guarantees to the international community and to condemn the erring ways of revolutionary Iran.

Renault's decision to create a car plant, at a cost of $891,469,215, intended to replace the famous Peykan, which has been in production for more than 40 years, confirms Iran?s stability and its lack of major political or economic risks. That investment shows that Iran is no longer considered at risk of turmoil because of some new revolution that would block its development. Like Total, when it breached the US oil embargo in 1995, Renault has understood the real implications of Iran's awakening. Other companies are following.

For now, developments in Iran continue to be marked by conflict and even tragedy. Through the (unelected) Council of Guardians, the theocracy in power continues to undermine the electoral process: it is disqualifying the opposition even before the elections and refusing to adopt legislation. But the situation is no longer that of the 1990s, since external and internal forces now form an indivisible whole. That has not prevented some Iranian conservatives and technocrats from hoping for a system on the Chinese or Saudi model, open to technology but closed to ideas. Nor has it prevented US neo-conservatives from demanding radical regime change.

But both these groups have failed to appreciate the extent to which Iran has evolved over the past 25 years. Through nationalism, Islam and knowledge, Iran has become used to independence and Iranian society used to freedom of expression, preceding freedom of action."


Comment: A lot of crap from the frogs.

22 posted on 02/18/2004 8:24:01 AM PST by AdmSmith
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To: AdmSmith
"Iran is no longer considered at risk of turmoil"

LOL! Boy have they got a surprise coming!
23 posted on 02/18/2004 10:00:14 AM PST by nuconvert ("Progress was all right. Only it went on too long.")
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To: DoctorZIn
Iranian radio beaming anti-U.S. messages into Iraq


An Iranian government-backed radio is broadcasting anti-coalition messages to Iraq, U.S. officials say.
The clandestine Mujahadeen Radio, in Arabic, is continuing to attack the invasion of Iraq as "genocide" against the Iraqi people.

Recent broadcasts have stated that the hunt for Iraq's weapons of mass destruction was used as a pretext to invade and that the United States has allowed "Zionists" to enter Iraq.

"The radio uses Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) transmission frequencies as well as the IRIB server for its webcasts," according to one official.

The radio station has accused the United States of killing Iraq's children, women and men and destroying the country's resources.
24 posted on 02/18/2004 1:04:42 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn

TEHRAN, 18 Feb. (IPS)

As expected, Iran’s media, official as well as the few that speak for the reformists refrained from publishing the last letter wrote by more than a hundred Members of the Majles barred from running in the coming elections to Ayatollah Ali Khameneh’i, accusing him indirectly for the mass disqualification of reformist candidates by the Council of the Guardians.

"The organs under your authority, having for four years humiliated the Majles and the representatives of the people by blocking legislation, have openly blocked the most basic right of the people: to choose and be chosen", the lawmakers said, referring to the 12-members CG that is controlled by the leader.

The letter was read and distributed at the Majles by a group of some 70 reformist deputies who have resigned over the disqualifications.

"Who is bully, the men who are elected by the people and defend their rights or those who violate people’s basic rights, that of choosing freely their representatives", the signatories asked Mr. Khameneh’i, referring to the term of "the bullies" he used in a recent speech to denounce the protesting lawmakers who had staged a protest sit-in.

This was the second time that reformist lawmakers wrote an open letter to the leader, warning him against the continuation of conservative’s policies imposing their wishes to the entire nation.

"If there is a cup of poison to be taken, it is now, or the whole of the regime would face extinction", the deputies had warned last May, after the CG rejected the bills presented earlier to the Majles by the government of the embattled President Mohammad Khatami aimed at curtailing some of the powers of the Guardians in the one hand and increasing some of the powers of the president.

However, the second letter read at the Majles on Wednesday was milder than the previous one, analysts noted, adding that "anyhow, like the previous letter, this one comes too late and stop short of addressing the main issues".

"The question consists of knowing how the Council of the Guardians was confident enough to resist your orders or whether, according to the rumour that is circulating and contrary to public statements, they obtained your permission by other means to persist in the illegal and massive disqualifications of candidates", they further asked, avoiding any direct criticism of the leader, an act that under the present laws of the Islamic Republic is considered as a criminal offence.

Though Ayatollah Khameneh’i had ordered the Guardians to "review" the case of some senior incumbent MMs, but they upheld their decision to ban some 2,300 candidates, including 80 reformist lwmakers, among them the younger brother of the President, Dr. Mohammad Reza Khatami, the first deputy-Speaker and leader of the Islamic Iran Participation Front.

Referring to a demand formulated by protesting MMs and backed by the Interior Ministry to postpone the date of the elections, due on Friday 20 February, the signatories observed that, "this (delaying the elections) would not have been contrary to Islam or the law".

But both "KHs" (Khatami and Khameneh’i) definitively ruled out, stating that elections must be held on due time and facing a serious mass abstention by the voters, the majority of them young generation badly deceived by the reformists, stated that voting is a "religious duty".

As a result, over 130 reformist lawmakers resigned and the IIPF and some other groups and formations in the Second Khordad Coalition that support Mr. Khatami decided not to go to the polls.

Late on Monday, President Khatami wrote "with a heavy heart" that a disgruntled and apathetic public should put aside complaints that the polls are unfair and try to keep out hardliners.

"It was a dramatic call from the weakened president, who had been elected on a pledge to deliver greater democracy, to the large numbers of voters, especially young people and women, who had put him and his allies in office", commented the French news agency AFP.

"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 in a statement carried by state news agency IRNA.

"The parliament formed by the Guardians and not the will of the people will would be a threat to our national security and independence instead of safeguarding them", the letter went on, adding: "We are very worried about the future and worry that the regime, without the support of the people, will be forced to surrender to foreign attacks".

"The turnout will be weak", predicted the younger Khatami. "People know that because of the disqualification of candidates, there is no point in voting", he added.

"If the elections are held without any vote riggings and frauds, it would become a kind of referendum", said Mr. Hoseyn Loqmanian, an outspoken reformist deputy from the western city of Hamadan and the only lawmaker who was jailed for a brief period on charges of insulting the leader.

President Khatami’s pathetic appeal reflects fears of a low turnout that would deal a serious blow to a regime that has cut itself from the people and has prided itself on having huge numbers of voters participate in past ballots.

A campaign by blacklisted reformist candidates, joined by many Iranian political formations and students, intellectual, scholar associations inside and outside Iran to shun Friday's election gained an illustrious endorsement Tuesday when Nobel Peace laureate Shirin Ebadi said she would not vote.

"I will not vote myself because I don't know those who have been qualified. I'm not ready to vote for someone I don't know", the human rights activist and lawyer said in an interview with the British news agency Reuters.

"The first principle of democracy is that people should have the right to vote for anyone they want", she noted.

Her comment was a blow to efforts by the ruling conservatives to mobilize a big turnout Friday despite widespread public apathy and anger among the mass of the voters.

The exclusion of some 2,500 contenders had "damaged people's freedom to vote", she said, observing that the outgoing reformist-dominated parliament had made little progress in improving human rights because the Guardians had vetoed all key legislation.

"For example, parliament had voted to join an international convention outlawing discrimination against women but the Council had blocked it. Khatami's power to effect change was limited by the constitution", she said.

"People want them to eliminate discrimination based on sex, people want more freedom of speech, people want more democracy, people want more respect for human rights", she said.
25 posted on 02/18/2004 2:16:28 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Largest Oil Deal in Decades

February 19, 2004

Iran has sealed a ground-breaking deal with Japan for a controversial oilfield project, delayed by US allegations that Tehran is in pursuit of a nuclear weapons programme.

Valued at US$2 billion, the contract for part of the giant Azadegan field is one of the biggest international oil contracts since the 1979 Islamic revolution and represents a significant boost for Iran's efforts to attract foreign capital.

It will see Japan Petroleum Exploration, INPEX Corp and Tomen Corp develop the southern half of Azadegan, one of the world's largest untapped oilfields.

The deal was the result of four years of on-off negotiations.

Azadegan, near the border with neighbouring Iraq, reinvigorates Iran's drive for investment, stalled for years by internal power struggles and Washington's attempts to isolate Tehran.

"This is a long overdue step," said Philip K Verleger, visiting fellow at the US Institute for International Economics said ahead of the signing.

"The United States has unfortunately used its influence in an effort to discourage Japanese investment in Iran."

Investment in the massive field, which contains 25-35 billion barrels of reserves, adds to some US$13 billion of foreign cash which has trickled into Iran's energy sector over the past nine years.

Heavily reliant on oil imports, Japan has been juggling its desire to strike a deal with a major Middle East producer against US pressure to wait because of concerns in Washington that Iran was developing nuclear weapons.

Iran, already Japan's third largest oil supplier, has denied the charges but promised to co-operate with inspectors from the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Missed deadline

Tehran reopened its oil and gas sector in 1995 with European companies like French Total and, more recently, Anglo-Dutch Shell taking the lead.

American companies are barred by unilateral US sanctions but Washington has never tried to implement the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act, designed to discourage non-US firms from investing in those countries.

Azadegan is thought capable of pumping up to 600,000 barrels per day (bpd) once fully onstream, pushing Tehran closer to its production capacity goal of 5 million barrels daily. Capacity is now pegged at 4.2 million bpd.

Plans to lift output capacity suffered a setback when the Japanese companies missed a June 2003 deadline to finalise a deal for Azadegan's southern sector, which is expected to pump 300,000 barrels daily.

Negotiations gathered pace after Tehran stepped up co-operation with the IAEA.

The northern half of Azadegan has attracted interest from China's Sinopec, Russia's LUKOIL, India's ONGC and Spain's Repsol.,1227,256488-1-453,00.html
26 posted on 02/18/2004 4:04:53 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Iran Awards Mobile Phone Licence

February 18, 2004
BBC News

Turkcell, Turkey's biggest mobile phone operator, has been awarded a contract to set up Iran's first private mobile phone network.

The company is expected to invest about $3bn in the project - making it one of the biggest foreign investments in Iran since the 1979 Islamic revolution.

Iran's state monopoly TCI has about three million subscribers but demand is expected to soar to 30 million by 2009.

Turkcell's lines will start operating in 11 months' time, an official said.

Reuters quoted Masoum Fardis of Iran's communications ministry as saying Turkcell could expect to win 16 million subscribers within 15 years.

He also said Iran would put out to tender a third mobile phone licence in two years' time.

Turkcell is to pay 300m euros ($385m; £202m) up-front for its licence. Further fees and taxes depend on revenues the company is able to generate.

Unsuccessful bidders for the contract included Kuwait's Mobile Telecommunications Company, South Africa's MTN and Orascom Telecom of Egypt.
27 posted on 02/18/2004 4:05:27 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Stalinist Mullahs

February 18, 2004
National Review Online
Michael Ledeen

The Iranian regime is in open battle with its own people.

Iran is now racing, literally hell-bent toward two dramatic confrontations: one within the country, between forces of tyranny and forces of democracy and/or reform. The other rages outside the country, a desperate war against the United States, its Coalition allies, and the Iraqis who support us. Both derive from the fundamental weakness of the fundamentalist regime, which has lost the support of the overwhelming majority of the Iranian people, and is increasingly defining itself a pariah state because of its support for terror and its brazen pursuit of atomic weapons.

Unreported in the American press and apparently unnoted by the leaders of the Bush administration, the regime is in open battle with its own people. In late January the regime's thugs murdered four workers, injured more than 40 others, and arrested nearly 100 more in Shahr-e Babak and the small village of Khatoonabad, prompting an official protest from the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions. (Would that the American trade-union movement had leaders worthy of the name, capable of expressing such outrage). Demonstrations five days ago in the western city of Marivan were so potent that the regime sent helicopter gunships to shoot down protestors, and there are reports that members of the regular armed forces joined the demonstrators. And in Hamadan, demonstrators clashed with security forces after the closure of the unfortunately named "Islamic Equity Ban." The demonstrators accused the bank managers of stealing the bank's money and smuggling it out of the country to their personal benefit, and that of the regime's top figures. The charge is credible because, as Western governments know well, large quantities of cash — just as in the case of Saddam Hussein — have been moved out of Iran in recent months by friends and relatives of the leading officials.

Much more attention has been given to the "hard-liners vs. reformers" kabuki dance leading up to Friday's parliamentary elections. The ritual dance itself-the hard-liners first removed thousands of reformers from the electoral lists, then, following protests, restored a few hundred — is not as important as most reporters and columnists would have us believe, since the makeup of the parliament has nothing to do with the real exercise of power in Iran. But the lessons from the dance are enormously important. Above all, the dance has shown both the political impotence and the moral fecklessness of President Khatami, because he first failed to get his people on the ballot, and then, once the Supreme Leader and the various theocratic institutions had slapped him down, he supinely obeyed and then had the cheek to call upon the people to turn out and vote, in support of "Iranian democracy." Maybe he'd been listening too much to Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, the other great philosopher of "Iranian democracy."

The other great lesson is that many Iranians, when pushed to the wall by the tyrants, do indeed have the courage to fight back. In an unprecedented step, more than 100 reformers issued a letter to Supreme Leader Khamenei, in which they used language more traditionally reserved for greater and lesser satans in Washington and Jerusalem. They surely know that punishment will be severe, but they did it anyway. One fine day such shows of courage will inspire the Iranian people to defend them en masse, fill the public spaces of the major cities with demonstrators, and demand an end to the regime. And one fine day such actions will compel the Bush administration to support the Iranian people. And on that day the regime will fall, and with it the keystone to the international terror network with which we are at war.

Meanwhile, the regime is placing terrorists in parliament. Loyal members of the security forces are now candidates in the upcoming elections from Teheran and other metropolitan center. For example, 30 candidates running under the banner of Abadegarane Irane Eslami (The Builders of an Islamic Iran) are members of the security forces and are being managed by the father-in-law of Khamenei's daughter Mr. Hadad Adel. For example:

1. Parviz Sorouri, a top Basij organizer in western Teheran. He is the editor-in-chief of Revolutionary Guard (Pasdaran) publications in Lebanon and Syria. A terrorist activist.

2. Said AbuTaleb, a member of the security apparatus and intelligence of Pasdaran. He was active in Iraq, posing as a television worker. He was arrested in Iraq and later released.

3. Hosseyn Fadai, one of the organizers of the army's branch known as the Badr forces. The Badr forces have undertaken terrorist activities in Iraq. A known terrorist, he is also a member of the group that oversees supplies for the armed forces.

4. Mehis Kouchakzad, responsible for organizing the safehouses for the terrorists in Karbala, a known terrorist.

5. Elias Naderan, the manager of legal matters regarding the Pasdaran in parliament.

6. Alireza Zaakni, responsible for the Basij at Teheran University and its presence in the student body, he oversees all Basij/student activities nationwide.

7. Emad Afrough, a member of the Governing Council of the Army and in charge of security and intelligence matters in the Guardian Council.

8. Seyyed Fezollah Moussavi, director of the Committee for the Defense of the Palestinian Nation and the head of the council overlooking the benefits of the Martyrs of the Intifada, a known terrorist group.

The chief of staff of the armed forces has cancelled all leaves for all military personnel starting Tuesday for one week. All soldiers have been commanded to cast their ballots in the elections on Friday, as have all members of the revolutionary guards and all air force personnel.

In other words, the regime is now removing the "reformist" mask from all Iranian institutions. Henceforth we will see Stalinist Shiites alone.

And we may see them with atomic bombs. Oddly, just as the foreign minister was announcing Iran's intention to sell enriched uranium to interested parties — thereby spitting in the eye of the French, German, and English diplomats who sang love songs to themselves just a few short months ago, proclaiming they had negotiated an end to the Iranian nuclear program — two smugglers were arrested in Iraq, near Mosul, with what an Iraqi general described as a barrel of uranium. Here is what General Hikmat Mahmoud Mohammed had to say about the event: "This material is in the category of weapons of mass destruction, which is why the investigation is secret. The two suspects were transferred to American forces, who are in charge of the inquiry."

Compulsive readers of these little essays may remember that, late last summer, I told CIA that I had been informed of a supply of enriched uranium in Iraq, some of which had been carried to Iran a few years ago. I had offered to put CIA in touch with the original couriers, who said they would take American inspectors to the site, but CIA could not be bothered to go look.

I am told that the uranium in the barrel near Mosul came from the same secret laboratory. Perhaps now the CIA will think better of my sources, and work harder to find these materials.

Faster, please.
28 posted on 02/18/2004 4:23:35 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: Pan_Yans Wife; fat city; freedom44; Tamsey; Grampa Dave; PhiKapMom; McGavin999; Hinoki Cypress; ...
Stalinist Mullahs

February 18, 2004
National Review Online
Michael Ledeen
29 posted on 02/18/2004 4:24:37 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
This just in from a student inside of Iran....

"Doc, some candidates are asking (( Begging )) the students to vote for them.

Today, at our university... 2 of the hard line candidates gave us Free Internet Access Accounts and also gave us great taste sandwiches (LOL).

We will use their accounts and had their sandwiches but we wont vote for any one."
30 posted on 02/18/2004 4:31:22 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Unconfirmed reports...

Debka says, "Hundreds of tons of explosives bound for Taleban in Kandahar believed aboard the train whose explosion killed at least 300 Iranians and destroyed five villages Wednesday. According to unconfirmed reports from Tehran, the colossal blast was caused by sabotage."
31 posted on 02/18/2004 4:33:06 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
•The Islamic student councils of universities in many provinces boycotted the Friday elections. In its statement, the Kermanshah University's Islamic student council accused the Supreme Leader of dictatorship and President Khatami of ineptitude. The Islamic student council of the welfare and social work university called the next Majles illegitimate and denounced its legislations in advance as illegal. The Amir-Kabir University's Islamic student council said in its statement that its boycott of the elections was not just to protest against the mass disqualification of the reformist candidates, but also to protest against the power structure in the Islamic Republic. (Mehdi Khalaji)

•People turned out for street protests in the Kurdistan province cities of Bukan and Marivan. The people destroyed and closed the local campaign headquarters of the election candidates, but after two days, the police reopened them, a caller to the Radio Farda elections hotline says. The Kurdish people protest against the Guardians Council's ban on their candidates and demand fair and democratic elections, local writer and journalist Hasan Salasuran tells Radio Farda. (Bahman Bastani)

• Instead of well-known conservative parties, such as the association of the conservative clerics (Jam'eh-ye Rowhaniat-e Mobarez) and the hard-line right-wing party United Islamic Society (Jam'iat Mo'talefeh-ye Eslami), the conservatives campaign under a multitude of new parties and coalitions, emphasizing on the youth, Western education and professionalism of their candidates. On the other hand, the reformist camp toils on, wounded, and in disarray, campaigning for a list of only 26 candidates in Tehran, and a total of 220 across the country. (Keyvan Hosseini)

•In Tehran and major cities, more between 70 percent to 80 percent of the voters will stay away from the voting booths on Friday, but in provinces, where competitions are not political but ethnic or tribal, 60 percent to 70 percent are expected to vote, Tehran University political science professor and reformist commentator Sadeq Zibakalam says in today's RadioFarda Roundtable on the elections. However, due to their dismal record of the past four years, the reformist MPs would not have been elected, even if they were allowed to run, he adds. So, in a way, we can say that the Guardians Council did the Participation Front party and its allies a service by banning them from standing in the elections, he says. Certain devices may be used to make the voter turnout appear greater than it actually would be, warns member of the central committee of the association of Islamic student councils (Daftar-e Tahkim-e Vahdat) Amir Pakzad. The fact that the conservatives will try unlawful means to legitimize the elections shows that they have heard the people's voice, he adds. The voter turnout in the elections will be a vote on the Supreme Leader's absolute rule, Paris-based activist and former Majles MP Mehdi Salamatian says. The Friday elections will be a vote on the popularity of the clerical rule, and less than 80 percent or 90 percent turnout would be a blow to the clerical regime, he adds. It would mean a “no” to the political system in which one person makes all the decisions. As such, the elections will be a security issue, and for those involved in holding the elections and counting the votes, fabricating satisfactory numbers will become a religious duty, he adds. (Amir-Mosaddegh Katouzian)

•The low turnout can be considered as a vote against the clerical rule, Washington-based activist Amir-Hossein Ganjbakhsh tells Radio Farda. (Ali Sajjadi)
32 posted on 02/18/2004 4:33:10 PM PST by freedom44
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To: DoctorZIn
BUMP. Velvet Revolution, hopefully, with the mullahs seeing the error of their ways in repressing a dynamic and vibrant civilisation and allowing the people to define themselves.

33 posted on 02/18/2004 4:41:11 PM PST by swarthyguy
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To: DoctorZIn; MLedeen
The CIA is virtually incompetent in Iran.

34 posted on 02/18/2004 4:41:44 PM PST by freedom44
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To: DoctorZIn

35 posted on 02/18/2004 5:40:56 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
36 posted on 02/18/2004 6:07:52 PM PST by nuconvert ("Progress was all right. Only it went on too long.")
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To: DoctorZIn
"Nothing has really moved forward here since the (1979 Islamic) revolution. Look at this ski lift - it was built by the shah. All of this resort was built by the shah. Nothing has changed, and it won't until this system collapses."

Are we about to witness the Muslim version of Atlas Shrugged?

37 posted on 02/18/2004 6:28:37 PM PST by Mudcat
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To: DoctorZIn
"the regime is now removing the "reformist" mask from all Iranian institutions. Henceforth we will see Stalinist Shiites alone"

I'm afraid it looks like it's going to get worse for the Iranian people, before things get any better. I hope they're up to the challenges ahead.
38 posted on 02/18/2004 6:29:12 PM PST by nuconvert ("Progress was all right. Only it went on too long.")
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To: freedom44
The CIA is virtually incompetent in Iran.

That's because they're virtually nonexistent in Iran. What are they supposed to use for intel gathering, that "psychic distant viewing" stuff from Art Bell?

39 posted on 02/18/2004 6:31:12 PM PST by Mudcat
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To: DoctorZIn
Iranian Papers Shut on Eve of Elections

February 18, 2004
Paul Hughes

TEHRAN -- Iran's hardline judiciary has shut two leading newspapers for publishing a letter criticizing Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei over the exclusion of thousands of reformist candidates from Friday's elections.

Iran's Islamic conservatives appear set to recapture parliament amid widespread public indifference to what reformist President Mohammad Khatami has called an "unfair" parliamentary election.

Wednesday's final day of campaigning was overshadowed by a train disaster that killed about 300 people. Journalists said the liberal Sharq and Yas-e No dailies were sealed by order of the Tehran Prosecutor's Office. It was not immediately clear how long the ban, reflecting an increasingly conservative mood among the authorities, would last.

Campaigning for polls in the oil-producing nation of 66 million is prohibited on Thursday.

Issa Saharkhiz, a liberal journalist and former deputy culture minister, told Reuters the newspapers had been closed for failing to obey an order from the Supreme National Security Council banning publication of the letter to the supreme leader.


The letter to Khamenei was sent by some 100 reformist legislators in protest at the disqualification by a hardline watchdog of more than 2,500 candidates for Friday's polls.

The scathing six-page epistle accused Khamenei of allowing his appointees to "violate the legitimate freedoms and rights of the people" in the name of Islam. Public criticism of Iran's absolute Islamic leader is a criminal offence.

Around 100 newspapers have been closed down in the past four years and many journalists and publishers have been jailed. Paris-based rights group Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said last year Iran had more journalists behind bars than any other country in the Middle East.

Friday's vote could stifle a seven-year experiment in political reform that brought greater freedom of speech and a relative relaxation of Islamic social and cultural restrictions rooted in the 1979 Islamic revolution.

The lackluster campaign paled in the face of disaster on its last day, Wednesday. A runaway train laden with fuel and fertilizers plowed off the rails in northeastern Iran and blew up, killing about 300 people.

The dead were mainly curious local residents, as well as firefighters who had rushed to the scene to douse an initial blaze before the wagons exploded.
40 posted on 02/18/2004 6:41:29 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
US Offered Assurances By Japan Over Iran Deal

February 18, 2004
Dow Jones Newswires
Alex Keto

WASHINGTON -- A senior Bush administration official said Wednesday the U.S. has been offered assurances that Japan's decision to go ahead with large oilfield development deal with Iran won't water down Japan's concerns with Iran's nuclear programs.

"In its public statements and its bilateral discussions with us, Japan has made it clear to us they still have concerns over the Iranian nuclear program," the official said on condition of anonymity.

"Japan has made it clear that the future of its overall relationship with Iran depends on Iran fulfilling its IAEA and NPT obligations," the official added.

The official was referring to commitments the Iranians have made to the Interantional Atomic Energy Agency and the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

The U.S. has accused Iran of seeking to develop nuclear weapons in violation of its commitments under the NPT. The Iranians have said they aren't, but they do intend to enrich uranium.

Earlier in the day, the Japanese agreed to a billion deal with Iran that would develop the Azadegan oilfield and give Japan exclusive rights to the oil.

The talks were interrupted until Iran signed an additional protocol with IAEA regarding its nuclear program.

While the official declined to go further than his statement on the deal, other U.S. officials weren't so reticent and expressed frustration with the deal.

"Our policy has been, with respect to Iran, to oppose petroleum investment there. We remain deeply concerned about deals such as this, and disappointed that these things might go forward. So we've, I think, very consistently expressed these views. The government of Japan is quite aware of our views on this," said State Department Spokesman Richard Boucher.

Boucher said he wasn't aware of how much pressure the U.S. put on Japan to nix this particular deal, but he did say that over the years, the U.S. has made its position clear on such deals.

"They know that fundamental concerns about Iran's nuclear developments, about Iran's support for violent groups that oppose the peace process, Iran's harboring and support of terrorists - all these things remain and have not changed," Boucher said.

Rather than offering reassurances, Boucher said Japan didn't take U.S. concerns seriously.

"I think in many ways the government of Japan does share those concerns, but our position is that because of those fundamental concerns, we should really not be investing in the oil sector in Iran. We made our view known to many other governments, including Japan," Boucher said.

- By Alex Keto, Dow Jones Newswires; 202-862-9256;
41 posted on 02/18/2004 6:42:03 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
US 'Deeply Concerned' by Japan-Iran Oil Project

February 19, 2004
AFX News

WASHINGTON -- The US said it is "deeply concerned" by Japanese plans to participate in a major oil development project in Iran, which is under US economic embargo.

"We remain deeply concerned about deals such as this and disappointed that these things might go forward," said State Department spokesman Richard Boucher.

He said the US had consistently expressed its views on the subject and the government of Japan "is quite aware of our views on this."

The Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper reported yesterday that Japan and Iran are expected to agree on a multi-billion dollar joint development project for the Azadegan oilfield.

The two countries are to reach a basic accord on the project "soon" as Tokyo has already dispatched Kazumasa Kusaka, head of the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy, to Iran, the paper said.

The Azadegan oilfield, located in southwest Iran, is considered to be the world's fourth largest with estimated reserves of 26 bln barrels of oil.

Boucher said Washington had "fundamental concerns" about nuclear developments in Iran, its support for groups that oppose the Middle East peace process and Iran's harboring of terrorists.

"All these things remain and have not changed," the spokesman said.
42 posted on 02/18/2004 6:42:33 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Tokyo Turns Back On US, Signs Iran Oil Deal

February 19, 2004
Dow Jones Newswires
Sally Jones

LONDON -- Eager to gain a foothold in Iran's energy sector, Japan opted to ignore U.S. pressure to stall talks with Iranian oil officials and signed a much-delayed deal in Tehran late Wednesday to develop the country's massive Azadegan oil field.

The deal, valued at a little under $3 billion, advances import-dependent Japan's efforts to secure Mideast oil supplies and shows Iran's willingness to loosen what have been restrictive investment terms to boost ties with an economic superpower and pull in much needed foreign capital.

It also drew a rebuke from the U.S. State Department, which said the agreement, which it has long opposed, was poorly timed given renewed questions about whether Iran has fully disclosed its nuclear capabilities.

"It's deeply disconcerting," said Greg Sullivan, spokesman for the State Department's Near Eastern Affairs Bureau. "It's been something we've repeatedly raised with the Japanese."

Tapping into Azadegan's huge oil reserves of around 30 billion barrels has long been a top priority for Japan, which relies on imports to cover the bulk of its energy needs. Japan lost oil rights in Saudi Arabia in 2001.

Keen to bag a deal to develop the onshore oil field in southwestern Iran, Tokyo moved quickly to secure negotiatings rights to develop Azadegan back in 2000. It showed Iran just how serious it was by pledging $3 billion in credits.

"It is very essential for Japan to tap into Azadegan," Yoshihisa Ohno, an official with Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said. "Japan has virtually no oil of its own."

Improved Terms

Although the contract was signed under Iran's unpopular "buyback" scheme, industry sources pointed to positive changes in the terms.

Under the the deal signed with the National Iranian Oil Co. (NIO.YY), a Japanese consortium led by Inpex Corp. and including Tomen Corp. (8003.TO) and Japan Petroleum Exploration Co.(1662.TO) will be allowed to develop the onshore field for about 16 years - about twice as long as previous deals allowed.

"Iran realizes that it has to be more flexible," a senior Iranian oil source said. "What we are seeing is more relaxed and prolonged terms."

Buybacks skirt the Iranian constitution, which prohibits foreign firms from taking an equity stake in Iran's energy sector. Instead, they participate in a project for a limited period and are repaid in oil or gas revenues.

The main gripe of potential investors has been that the time frame for participating in Iranian energy projects has been too limited.

Tokyo will hold a 75% stake in the project, and local company the NaftIran Intertrade Co. will hold the remainder. Capital expenditure on the project is valued at $2 billion. Other costs such as customs and taxes will push the total figure closer to $3 billion, people close to the deal said.

For Iran, the deal with Japan is a big step in securing better relations with an economic superpower. It also triggers much needed foreign investment. So far Iran has only locked in around $12 billion of the $24 billion in foreign investment projected during coming years.

Iranian Minister of Petroleum Bijan Namdar Zangeneh said Wednesday the deal will open the door to more investment by Japanese companies and others. The country is in talks with Japanese companies about a project at Kharg Island in the Persian Gulf to collect now-wasted natural gas that is found in oil fields, the minister said.

Talks are also under way with Chinese and Indian oil companies over the development of northern areas of the Azadegan field, and Iran will soon sign a contract to develop oil in the South Pars natural gas field in the Persian Gulf, the minister said.

The minister also encouraged the Japanese companies to bring in a European oil major as a partner in Azadegan.

New Capacity

Iran, facing growing competition from its neighbors and soaring domestic demand for energy, is keen to hike oil output, and quickly.

The Azadegan field is expected to produce 150,000 barrels a day in the first phase, which will be complete in 52 months, and 260,000 barrels a day in the second phase, which will be wrapped up in eight years, the minister said. An Iranian oil source said Wednesday that he expects the first barrels to be pumped in the next 22 months.

The extra oil will go a long way to securing Iran's position as the No. 2 producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. Today, Tehran's crude oil production capacity stands at just over 4 million barrels a day, about 40% of the capacity of top OPEC producer Saudi Arabia.

Under pressure from Washington, which is nervous about Iran's nuclear power program, Japan backed off from signing a deal for Azadegan last June. Sources close to the negotiations said discussions between the two sides also were mired in differences over contract terms.

The talks resumed in earnest after Iran signed an additional protocol to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty late last year allowing snap inspections of its nuclear sites.

New concerns about Iran's intentions have arisen in the U.S., however, with revelations the country possessed drawings for a more sophisticated nuclear centrifuge design than it had acknowledged in disclosures to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

"Given the recent revelations about the sensitive centrifuge designs, it raises all kinds of concerns about Iran pursuing development of nuclear weapons," Sullivan said.

Industry sources said they weren't surprised that Japan finally went ahead and inked the deal. They say Tokyo was concerned it might jeopardize a project that would offer it a steady flow of oil.

"Japan needs to invest to ensure its oil supplies for the future," said Ali Granmayeh, political expert and lecturer at the University of London.

-By Sally Jones, Dow Jones Newswires; 44-207-842-9347;

(John M. Biers in Houston and Hashem Kalantari in Tehran contributed to this article).
43 posted on 02/18/2004 6:43:26 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Natural disasters and dangerous accidents play well into the hands of those who reject the regime.
44 posted on 02/18/2004 7:59:23 PM PST by Pan_Yans Wife (Your friend is your needs answered. --- Kahlil Gibran)
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To: DoctorZIn; F14 Pilot; freedom44; nuconvert; Grampa Dave

Reza Khatami

The time has come for Iran to have a secular state in place of the Islamic regime in place since the 1979 overthrow of the Shah, Spanish daily El Pais on Wednesday quoted the brother of Iranian President Mohammad Khatami as saying.

This is massive: the Islamic Republic has a 70%-plus negative rating.

Hey, New York Times, that's less popular than you say Bush is--get with the program and report this--

We have to rely on the Spanish press?

45 posted on 02/18/2004 8:00:06 PM PST by PhilDragoo (Hitlery: das Butch von Buchenvald)
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To: nuconvert
The more bitter the circumstances, the stronger the resolve. AT THE TIME OF THEIR CHOSING.
46 posted on 02/18/2004 8:01:29 PM PST by Pan_Yans Wife (Your friend is your needs answered. --- Kahlil Gibran)
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To: DoctorZIn
When the regime collapses, the autographs that the Japanese have on their contract won't mean much. Maybe they'll learn a lesson.
47 posted on 02/18/2004 8:09:53 PM PST by nuconvert ("Progress was all right. Only it went on too long.")
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To: DoctorZIn
"Iran's hardline judiciary has shut two leading newspapers for publishing a letter criticizing Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei" "the liberal Sharq and Yas-e No dailies were sealed by order of the Tehran Prosecutor's Office.

Here they go again.
Mortazavi's office.....he's been keeping a low profile.
I don't remember him ever being punished at all for his role in Kazemi's murder. Did I miss something? Or was he just warned to keep his head down for a while?
48 posted on 02/18/2004 8:16:50 PM PST by nuconvert ("Progress was all right. Only it went on too long.")
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To: DoctorZIn
AP Interview: Reformer Criticizes Islamic Control, but Says Demonstrations Too Risky
(Mohammad Reza Khatami )

By Brian Murphy/
Associated Press Writer

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - The leader of Iran's ruling clerics must be made more accountable to reform demands and should shed some powers to break a "vicious circle" of control, the most prominent dissident lawmaker and brother of the country's president said Wednesday.
But Mohammad Reza Khatami - who was deputy parliament speaker and among more than 2,400 candidates blackballed from Friday's elections - warned against public demonstrations to demand change, saying Iranians have no appetite for another revolution.

In an interview with The Associated Press, he offered glimpses of a high-stakes gambit: trying to pressure Iran's supreme leader and the Islamic power base that controls everything from foreign policy to the media.

"They have no accountability to any part of the government and to the people ... We have a vicious circle here," Khatami said during the interview in the headquarters of his party, the Islamic Participation Front.

The strategy of directly challenging supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei could win applause from many Iranians frustrated by stalled efforts for more political and social openness.

But it carries clear risks. The Islamic leadership has come down hard in the past on those perceived as threats to the system.

On Tuesday, Khatami and other pro-reform lawmakers made public a letter sent to Khamenei accusing him of allowing freedoms to be "trampled in the name of Islam."

The letter served as a parting salvo by banned reform candidates calling the elections a "parliamentary coup" and urging for a voter boycott. It also was a taboo-breaking missive against the country's top religious and political authority - whose supporters say holds divine right to rule.

Khatami said Khamenei should dismantle some of his power structure to allow elected officials room to make key decisions.

"They know what the people want and, because of this, I think they should respond to this will of the people ... even if they don't like it," said Khatami, whose brother, President Mohammad Khatami, has greatly lost his appeal after backing down in attempts to postpone the elections.

He added that reformers want to reach a point "for people to believe they could change the leader."

It would be a huge challenge.

Khamenei and his inner circle have vast and powerful resources, including militia forces and the judiciary. In recent years, conservatives have detained or intimidated hundreds of reformers and muzzled dozens of publications.

Late Wednesday, two reformist newspapers, Yas-e-No and Sharq, were ordered to suspend publication, and top editors and staff were detained by judiciary agents for publishing portions of the reformers' letter to Khamenei, said Issa Sahakhiz, member of the Iranian branch of the Committee to Protect Journalists.

The rulers' almost unlimited power has become a crucial issue in the battle over the elections.

The Guardian Council, a 12-member panel appointed by Khamenei, issued the mass disqualifications through its powers to vet political candidates. The blacklist means that the 290-seat parliament will likely return to the control of hard-liners.

But a sharp drop in voter turnout - particularly in the cities - would be interpreted as convincing public backing for liberals.

Khatami hoped for less than 25 percent turnout in the capital, Tehran, and anticipated 40 percent to 50 percent nationwide. In 2000, parliament elections drew more than 67 percent of voters around Iran and nearly 47 percent in Tehran.

"I think we will suffer from some pressures overall - more and more than before - but it's an opportunity for us to ... come back to the community and come back to the people," he said.

But he said it was "too risky for the time being" to try to organize mass demonstrations.

"People are not ready for another revolution because they are not happy with the result of the (1979 Islamic) revolution and they don't know what would happen after (another) revolution," he said.

Seeking changes within the system still appears the goal of reformers despite the current ballot boycott.

Khatami said his party already has some candidates in mind for next year's presidential elections - when his brother finishes his second and last term. But he declined to offer any names.

"Some things should be hidden in Iran because the conservatives would focus on that," he said.

Khatami, however, discounted any chance of him trying to succeed his older kin because of having to clear the Guardian Council review.

"I don't think of myself at all," he said.

He urged reformers not to follow in the model of his brother, who was elected in 1997 but failed to make any real headway to weaken the Islamic establishment.

"President Khatami clearly was leader of the reforms," his brother said. "But he didn't work very strongly and he ignored his leadership in the reforms."

Khatami believes his brother will leave office and seek an international role promoting cultural and social issues.
49 posted on 02/18/2004 8:42:57 PM PST by nuconvert ("Progress was all right. Only it went on too long.")
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To: DoctorZIn
Two Freedom Fighters Hanged in Public

SMCCDI (Information Service)
Feb 18, 2004

The Islamic republic regime has executed, in Public, two other Freedom Fighters in the Northeastern City of Bandar Guaz.

The two were lashed and then executed following a speedy trial for having reacted to the "Law" enforcement forces and having injured several of them.

Official sources of the Islamic republic regime have anounced the names these new victims of their repressive rule as "Mahmood" and "Mehdi" aged in mid twenties.
50 posted on 02/18/2004 9:23:06 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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