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Iranian Alert -- March 6, 2004 -- IRAN LIVE THREAD --Americans for Regime Change in Iran
The Iranian Student Movement Up To The Minute Reports ^ | 3.6.2004 | DoctorZin

Posted on 03/06/2004 12:04:22 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.

DoctorZin


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

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

1 posted on 03/06/2004 12:04:22 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 03/06/2004 12:06:38 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Defector says Iranian military pro-U.S.

Believes as many as 40% 'waiting for the arrival of America'

Posted: March 5, 2004
1:00 a.m. Eastern
© 2004 WorldNetDaily.com

A former commander of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps has defected to Azerbaijan and disclosed that Iran's military is infused with pro-U.S. sentiment.

Col. Bakharali Bagiryan arrived in Baku last week.

"I came to Azerbaijan 40 days ago and was registered with the Azerbaijani representative office of the UNHCR as a political émigré," Bagiryan said at the Baku Press Club Feb. 23.

Bagiryan said many Iranian military troops would like to defect.

"In Iran, the military are not issued with passports, which deprives them of the opportunity to leave the country legally," he said. "I have been sent to Azerbaijan in the capacity of a representative of those who want cardinal changes in Iran's state structure."

The IRGC are Islamic shock troops and are Teheran's key liaison with international terrorist groups, such as Lebanese Hezbollah.

Bagiryan said some 40 percent of servicemen in the Iranian army think as he does and are "waiting for the arrival of America in Iran."

"The strengthening of the U.S. position in the region causes optimism among many Iranian servicemen and they secretly support the operation in Iraq," the colonel said. "I think that many of them would back a similar U.S. operation in Iran."

Bagiryan said Teheran's claim that the Iranian army fully supports the government is groundless. He said he intended to stay in Azerbaijan and help those fighting for the national interests of southern Azerbaijan.

His remarks appeared in the Baku newspaper Turan, an independent, non-governmental news agency close to the People's Front of Azerbaijan.

http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=37417
3 posted on 03/06/2004 12:25:44 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
US, EU struggle for draft UN resolution on Iran

Vienna |Reuters
06-03-2004
Gulf News Online

The United States and the European Union's "Big Three" were searching for a compromise on a draft UN nuclear resolution on Iran that is not too harsh but keeps up the pressure on Tehran, diplomats said yesterday.

On Monday, the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) Board of Governors begins meeting to discuss resolutions on Iran and Libya's previously undeclared nuclear programmes – both of which were supplied by a global black market linked to the father of Pakistan's atom bomb, Abdul Qadeer Khan.

Diplomats from the 35 states on the IAEA's board said a resolution on Iran had been drafted by the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand and was being circulated. But it had to be revised to accommodate comments from France, Britain, Germany and non-aligned countries.

"It's important that the board keeps its hands on this issue," said one Western diplomat, adding that the draft's tone was "not too critical" so as to avoid being controversial. "It's important to send a message that the board remains involved."

The diplomat said the EU's "Big Three" were working on softening the resolution by "making the text more positive".

In a new report on UN inspections in Iran, IAEA chief Mohammed El Baradei said Iran withheld information on its research in the advanced "P2" enrichment centrifuge, which can produce arms-grade uranium at twice the speed of the "P1" centrifuge.

In October, Tehran gave the IAEA what it described at the time as a full and truthful account of its entire nuclear programme. But it failed to mention either the P2 or sensitive experiments with plutonium and polonium, a substance that can be used to initiate a chain reaction in a nuclear fission bomb.

Iran has been lobbying board members to remove the Iranian atomic programme from the IAEA's agenda, but the resolution proposed by US and its allies would prevent that.

Washington has long accused Iran of running a secret atomic weapons programme in violation of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and has called on the IAEA board to declare Iran in "non-compliance" and report it to the UN Security Council. That could lead to sanctions.

But the United States has met with strong resistance on the IAEA board from the 'Big Three', who would prefer to engage Iran instead of isolating it, and the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), which has been loathe to come down hard on Tehran.

Washington dropped the idea of reporting Iran to the Council at next week's meeting, but diplomats said the Libyan precedent would set the stage for a possible Council report in June.

In December, Libya announced it had a nuclear weapons programme but invited the IAEA oversee its dismantling. Since then, US, British and IAEA experts have evacuated most sensitive atomic equipment and documents to the United State.

For the United States, Libya has become everything that Iran is not – cooperative with UN inspectors, transparent and apparently sincere in its desire to dismantle its weapons of mass destruction programmes.

On Thursday, US Under Secretary of State for arms control and international security, John Bolton, told reporters in Lisbon that Iran's behaviour was in sharp contrast to that of Libya, where disarmament is moving at an "acceptable pace".

http://www.gulf-news.com/Articles/news.asp?ArticleID=112975
4 posted on 03/06/2004 2:35:43 AM PST by F14 Pilot
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To: DoctorZIn
Bump!
5 posted on 03/06/2004 6:13:11 AM PST by windchime (Podesta about Bush: "He's got four years to try to undo all the stuff we've done." (TIME-1/22/01))
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To: F14 Pilot
Bump!
6 posted on 03/06/2004 7:54:25 AM PST by Eala (Sacrificing tagline fame for... TRAD ANGLICAN RESOURCE PAGE: http://eala.freeservers.com/anglican)
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To: DoctorZIn
Iran Preventing Libya from Disclosing its Nuke Details

March 06, 2004
Khaleej Times
By a correspondent

LONDON -- A British newspaper has reported that Iran is trying to prevent Libya from disclosing incriminating details of Teheran's top-secret nuclear weapons programme, by threatening to unleash groups opposed to the rule of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, according to reports in the Arabic Press.

Western intelligence sources have learned from interrogation of Al Qaeda suspects, captured near Afghanistan's border with Iran, that a Libyan militant group is being protected and trained by experts from Iran's Revolutionary Guards, the reports said.

According to the paper, the Libyan Combat Islamic Group (GICL) was expelled from Libya by Col. Gaddafi in 1997 after it was implicated in attacks against government targets. At first the group relocated to Afghanistan, where it became closely involved in Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda organisation.

After the war in Afghanistan in 2001, the group was given a safe haven in Iran, together with other north African militant groups linked to Al Qaeda.

The Iranians have told Libya of the group's presence in Iran so long as Col. Gaddafi does not reveal details of Iran's secret nuclear activity.

One of the reasons that Col. Gaddafi sought to improve relations with Britain and cooperate with British intelligence following September 11 was his concern about the growing activities of Libya's militant groups. The improved relations culminated in Gaddafi's decision, announced at the end of last year, to dismantle his weapons of mass destruction.

"This is a serious initiative by the Iranians," said a Western intelligence official with access to the interrogation transcripts of Al Qaeda detainees in Afghanistan.

"They are desperate to prevent Col. Gaddafi from spilling the beans about either Iran's involvement in international terrorism or in developing nuclear weapons."

Teheran is known to have enjoyed an unofficial cooperation pact with Libya on nuclear weapons development since the mid-1990s.

Iran's nuclear programme has come under intense scrutiny since Col. Gaddafi finally acknowledged the existence of the Libyan nuclear bomb project at the end of last year.

In the past, Libyan military officials regularly attended test-firing sessions of Iran's Shahab ballistic missile, which many weapons experts believe is being developed as a delivery system for nuclear weapons.

New evidence, collated by officials from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna since Col. Gaddafi agreed to dismantle his nuclear programme, has revealed how Pakistan provided both Tripoli and Teheran with the expertise and materials to construct a nuclear device. Now that Libyan scientists are cooperating fully with IAEA officials and are revealing the extent of Col. Gaddafi's nuclear weapons project.

http://www.khaleejtimes.com/DisplayArticle.asp?xfile=data/middleeast/2004/March/middleeast_March152.xml&section=middleeast&col=
7 posted on 03/06/2004 8:30:22 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Sistani Dispensation Forbids Illegal Entry into Iraq

March 06, 2004
Xinhuanet
chinaview.cn

BAGHDAD -- Great Ayatollah Sayd Ali Al Sistani, the highest religious reference in Najaf, 180 km south of Baghdad, forbid entering Iraq illegally, newspaper Al Sharq Al Awsat said Saturday.

Smugglers and volunteers, who want to carry out terrorist attacks in this country, usually use illegal entrances, said the local newspaper.

The newspaper quoted dispensation of the Shiite religious leaderas saying "entering the Iraqi territories from unofficial places isforbidden, and taking money or facilitating smuggling operations isalso forbidden."

The dispensation was issued in answer to news saying that thousands of Iranians enter Iraq everyday, and that smuggling operations spread in the south, especially in the oil industry.

Al Sistani criticized the occupation forces and blamed them for the attacks in Karbala and Baghdad last Tuesday, which resulted in killing 271 people and injuring 500 others.

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2004-03/06/content_1349261.htm
8 posted on 03/06/2004 8:31:15 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Despite Fear of Torture, Iranian Faces Deportation

March 06, 2004
Vancouver Sun
Global BC

An Iranian man who says he faces torture if forced to return to his home country has had his bid to stay in Canada rejected. Ali Reza Monemi, 27, fled Iran after he was lashed with a leather whip by the morality police in 1999.

"He was found in a public park with a woman who was married," Monemi's lawyer Peter Larlee says, "and he was taken by the morality police, held in custody for two days and then taken back to the place where he was found and lashed 60 times. And because of this, he fled Iran."

Monemi has been working in West Vancouver for the last five years. Despite his appeals to stay, he has been ordered to leave the country within the next 11 days.

Lashings are not an uncommon punishment in Iran. They're often done in groups of 10 to prevent the victim from passing out.

After receiving the first 15 lashes of his punishment, Monemi couldn't breathe. His tormentors stopped momentarily to give him oxygen, then continued the lashing. The worst of it was below the belt.

"We have a medical report provided by a medical practicitioner in Vancouver who has examined him and found that he has scarring on his back that is consistent with lashing, that is someone who has been tortured, who has been whipped, and has suffered as a result of it," Larlee says.

In spite of that evidence, and documents from Iran's Islamic court that state that Monemi's punishment is far from over, the Canada Border Services Agency is deporting Monemi because, his lawyer says, they don't believe the claims of torture.

"He has been convicted in abstentia, with a further sentence of 95 more lashes, a term of imprisonment and exile within Iran," Larlee says.

Because Monemi fled Iran, he could also be facing the death penalty. That is why he is going to the federal court of Canada to have his case reviewed.

Monemi worries he might not survive another flogging.

"It's so scary for me," he says.

http://www.canada.com/vancouver/vancouversun/news/story.html?id=bfc57c62-ce75-4bd3-9d92-c76c88a581d2
9 posted on 03/06/2004 8:32:06 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Riots Breakout in Bam

March 06, 2004
AFP
IranMania

TEHRAN -- Residents of the quake-hit city of Bam in southeast Iran rioted in anger at continuing difficult living conditions more than two months after the massive tremor, a press report said Saturday.

They burned cars and destroyed containers after a demonstration on Thursday degenerated into violence, the reformist daily Shargh reported.

It quoted provincial authorities as saying that agitators on motorbikes incited the demonstrators, prompting police to intervene during the night.

The authorities said there were no casualties, but the Fars news agency quoted Bam's Friday prayer leader, Asghar Asgari, as saying that two people were wounded by bullets fired in the crowd.

Shargh said the demonstrators, who numbered 500 at one point, protested at the indifference of the authorities, saying promises of officials had not been kept while they continued to live in tents and with inadequate sanitation.

The provincial governor's office accused the media of exaggerating the extent of international aid, leading the residents to believe that reconstruction would be easy.

The historic city of Bam and its region were devastated on December 26 by the worst earthquake in more than a quarter of a century, which killed some 43,000 people.

http://abcnews.go.com/sections/2020/World/empress_040305-1.html
10 posted on 03/06/2004 8:32:50 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani: The Real Face of Power in Iraq

March 06, 2004
Independent UK
Paul Vallely

He is seldom seen in public. He does not do TV interviews. He communicates only through written edicts or through lower-ranking members of the network of scholars who study the Koran and Islamic law in the provincial town of Najaf. And yet the 75-year-old Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Husseini al-Sistani is undoubtedly now the most powerful man in Iraq. Revealingly it has taken almost a year for George Bush to wake up to that fact.

The events of this week have underscored the importance of the venerable Shia cleric who in January called 100,000 demonstrators on to the streets of five key cities to protest against America's refusal to allow immediate direct elections in Iraq - and who, more significantly, was able to send them all back home, with the ease of a man turning off a tap, when he had secured the concession from the Americans he had been seeking.

This week, when 180 pilgrims were killed by bombs targeted at the Shia community, could have seen the start of a civil war between Shia and Sunni Muslims, but the Ayatollah swiftly clamped down on talk of retaliation.

But he was happy to scupper the signing by Iraq's provisional Governing Council of an interim constitution yesterday to pave the way to the transfer of sovereignty back to Iraqis and the holding of full elections. At the behest of the Ayatollah five Shia members of the council refused to append their names .

What is becoming clear is that Ayatollah Sistani represents the most significant political challenge encountered so far by the US-led coalition. Twice already he has forced Washington to rewrite its political road map. At his behest the US has reversed its plan to write a constitution before elections: the elected assembly will now write the constitution. He has also successfully demanded that the United Nations be brought in to assess the feasibility of the elections.

None of this is what the US viceroy Paul Bremer III had expected. The elderly cleric, with long white beard and black turban - indicating that his family claims descent from the prophet Mohammed - may have looked reminiscent of the great American hate figure of the 1979 Iranian Revolution, Ayatollah Ruholla Khomeini, who introduced theocracy to the modern Middle East, but he had not been expected to behave like him.

One of only five living grand ayatollahs in the world, Sistani was said to be of the "quietist" school of Islamic tradition. He had, after all, lived in uneasy stalemate with the Saddam regime, spending long periods under house arrest and largely staying out of politics. And in the early months of the US occupation he had seemed malleable enough. His initial response to the invasion was to advise "believers not to hinder the forces of liberation, and help bring this war against the tyrant to a successful end for the Iraqi people". What the Americans failed to note was that he added that Iraqis working with the occupiers should ask, at the end of every conversation with them, "when they were leaving".

Had they been more diligent they would have worked out Sistani's influence much earlier. They should have noticed that Sistani receives millions of dollars in donations and controls a network of schools, mosques, clinics and other social welfare institutions. They should have observed that when, in the early days of the occupation, Sistani spoke out against looting, it died down rapidly in Shia areas. And when he issued a fatwa against the black market in petrol, queues at petrol stations immediately shrank by 75 per cent.

They should have seen the significance of the fact that - though he gave private audiences to members of the US-appointed Iraqi Governing Council and the UN Special Representative, Sergio Vieira de Mello, who later died in a Baghdad bomb - he consistently refused to meet American officials. He was positioning himself for the long term.

Events have placed him well. One by one the other main clerical leaders have been killed. Ayatollah Muhammad al-Hakim, Saddam's principal Shia enemy, died in a car bomb in Najaf recently after returning from 24 years' exile in Iran. Abdul Majid Khoei, the son of Ayatollah Sistani's predecessor as the highest Shia religious authority in Iraq, was also assassinated in Najaf last spring when he returned after 12 years' exile in London. The leader of the other great clerical family, 30-year-old Muqtada al-Sadr, son of the great Ayatollah al-Sadr famed for preaching in a shroud, who was killed by Saddam in 1999, does not have the religious credentials to be a serious rival.

Ayatollah Sistani's prime influence comes from his status as Shi'ism's leading marjah al-taqlid, the title (literally object of emulation) given to a cleric whom Iraq's 15 million Shia Muslims regard as a guide in every aspect of their lives.

Born in Mashad, Iran, 75 years ago, the young Ali began studying the Koran as a youthful prodigy at the age of five. He has lived immersed in Islamic study ever since, first as a student in Qom and then for the past four decades in Najaf which has been the centre of Shia learning for 1,000 years. He has studied philosophy, rhetoric and law under the great scholars of his day and has developed a reputation for penetrating to the "real meaning" behind the words of key Islamic texts. His followers speak of his holiness, personal asceticism and intellectual rigour characterised by a keen interest in modern science, economics and international politics.

Most revealingly he is a specialist in ijtihad, the use of reason to apply Koranic values to contemporary situations - a discipline which only the most distinguished Shia clerics are allowed to practise. (The "gates of ijtihad" were closed to Sunni Muslims 1,000 years ago.) This allows Islam to be reinterpreted in light of changing circumstances.

Thus Sistani's website concerns itself with such contemporary obsessions as whether Muslims can use perfume which contains alcohol (yes), use interest-bearing investments (in some circumstances), gamble (on horses but not lotteries), masturbate (no), perform anal sex (yes, though it is "strongly undesirable") or oral sex (yes, so long as no fluid gets into the mouth). All of which is some distance from current Western values but which at least offers the possibility of engagement with the West in a way which is inconceivable with such Sunni fundamentalists the Taliban, al-Qa'ida or the Wahhabi puritans of Saudi Arabia.

There is another interesting strand in his thinking. One of Sistani's fellow students in his early days in Najaf was Ayatollah Ruholla Khomeini who believed that, left to their own devices, most people would not live by Islam's precepts and so developed a doctrine of clerical dictatorship - velayet-e faqih (the Regency of the Jurist), which was the basis for the Iranian revolution. By contrast Sistani repeatedly stresses that religion has to be separated from government.

Where Khomeini in his 14 years in exile in Najaf argued that "only a good society can create good believers", Sistani insisted the opposite: "Only good men can create a good society." Today, about a third of Iraq's 15 million Shia follow the Khomeini line; the majority follows Sistani.

This is obviously of considerable political significance. It highlights Sistani's current dilemma. His theological position insists clerics should not interfere in government. "The clergy are the conscience of society," he has written. "The administrative aspects of society's life must be left to men of politics." Yet he believes that at present Iraqi Shia need some leadership, which can come only from their clerics, to develop the political framework in which religion and politics can have their distinct spaces.

There is clearly scope for much confusion here. Sistani has said that no law in Iraq should conflict with Islamic principles, and he wants Islam to be recognised in law as the religion of the majority of Iraqis. But he wants to secure a model which will mean that a future secular regime cannot pass laws that contradict Islam rather than establishing a state along the Iranian model.

The best way of ensuring this, he sees, is through the pure democracy of "one person, one vote". This is why he opposes the complex structure designed by the Americans to ensure that the Shia majority cannot ride roughshod over the educated Sunni elite and the autonomy-craving Kurds. It produces the peculiar irony of an unelected mullah pressuring the world's self-styled greatest democracy to implement the self-determination it ostensibly invaded Iraq to bring. Sistani summed that up in a recent letter to the US administrator which said: "Mr Bremer, you are American. I am Iranian. I suggest we leave it to the Iraqis to devise their constitution."

There are those who worry that once Sistani has had a taste of power his demands will grow rather than recede. The handful of people - including Sunnis, Kurds, secularists and women's rights campaigners - who have recently had audiences with the Ayatollah in his modest home off a crowded market street in Najaf are more sanguine.

"He didn't use any of the rhetoric clergymen usually wrap everything they say with. He was quite plain and direct, though he talked so softly, almost in whispers, in a heavy Persian accent," said one. "The man was secular! I have never heard a clergyman saying the things that we lot take to represent our secularism," said another.

"He talked about the ancient pillars of the Sunni doctrine and praised them in detail and said how the difference between the Shia and Sunni was far less significant than the danger facing the Iraqi nation at present," said a third. "They told me he wouldn't meet with a woman," said a female politician, "but I met him and discussed women's issues."

There are many people fervently hoping that Grand Ayatollah Sistani will prove true to his word. Not least among them George Bush in the coming election year. "He's Hobson's choice for the Americans," one commentator said, "but it could be a lot worse."

We might let the Ayatollah himself have the last word. He recently gave advice to a politician about to put someone forward for office. "Whoever you nominate, make sure he's not wearing a turban," Ayatollah Sistani said. The question is: will he apply that maxim to himself?

A life in brief

Born: 1929 near the Iranian city of Masshad, a site of Shia pilgrimage. Lives near the Iraqi holy city of Najaf.

Education: Began studying the Koran aged five, then philosophy aged 11. Apprenticed to a succession of eminent Muslim scholars.

In 1949 he joined the Islamic seminary in Qom, Iran, to study jurisprudence under Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Hussain Brojardi.

Career: 1952: moved to Najaf to study with some of the most important Shia clerics of the time, including Grand Ayatollah Imam Abul Qassim al-Khoei.

1992: selected by his peers to head the most important hawza, or network of schools, in Najaf. Has written many books on Islamic law and gained a reputation as one of the top Shia religious authorities in the world.

He says...: "Mr Bremer, you are American. I am Iranian. I suggest we leave it to the Iraqis to devise their constitution."

"The clergy are the conscience of society. The administrative aspects of society's life must be left to men of politics."

They say...: "Sistani represents the middle of the road in Iraq's political spectrum... We have to listen to and deal with what Sistani is saying." - Judith Yaphe, National Defense University, Washington DC

http://news.independent.co.uk/people/profiles/story.jsp?story=498357
11 posted on 03/06/2004 8:33:44 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
In Iran, Daring to Dream of Democracy

Washington Post - By Afshin Molavi
Mar 7, 2004

This past summer at a major intersection in Tehran, I stood under a massive mural of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, watching a gray-bearded cleric trying to hail a cab. None would stop for him. By my count, eight empty taxis passed by without picking him up.

Residents of the Iranian capital have become familiar with this scene. Several clerics have told me that they literally de-frock and put on civilian clothes when they want to catch a cab. One young seminary student told me: "I don't even bother with taxis, but buses aren't much better. When I get on, people whisper behind my back. When I'm in a store, people smile and wish me well, but I see in their eyes that they don't like me." My Tehran barber, Hossein, a 38-year-old man who grew up in a religious home, puts it this way: "When I was growing up and we saw a cleric walking down the street, my father would insist that I go out of my way to say hello to him. Today, I steer my own children away from them."

Given these anti-clerical attitudes in the Islamic Republic of Iran, it's small wonder that the 25th anniversary of Khomeini's return from exile passed with little note there. But it is still remarkable nonetheless. On Feb. 1, 1979, the unbending cleric who dared to defy the shah was met in Tehran by a jubilant, expectant crowd of nearly 2 million. He proclaimed "the spring of freedom" for the Iranian people, promised economic deliverance for the poor, and lambasted America and the West with a sound and fury that stunned many in Western capitals.

Today, the radical experiment in religious governance that he launched is viewed with widespread disillusion. Khomeini and his allies created a system that gave only limited democratic spaces to the people and granted decisive power to the new inheritors of the Iranian realm -- the clergy. The traditional authoritarianism of Persia held. This time, however, the king wore a turban.

It is often noted that Iranians are frustrated with their isolation and deteriorating economy. But something deeper is going on in Iran -- a wide-ranging repudiation of the mingling of religion and politics, and a growing movement for secular democracy. As a Farsi speaker (I left Iran as a child), I've been able to speak to Iranians directly. In villages and cities I visited last summer, I often heard people say, "Let the necktie-wearers come back," a direct reference to secular technocrats whose record of economic management in the Shah's era far exceeded the past 25 years.

Even in seminaries, a rising number of clerics publicly advocate the separation of mosque and state, arguing (accurately) that Khomeini's vision of Islamic rule upended more than a thousand years of classical Shiite tradition, which prohibited clergy from ruling the state. It's time to get back to the fundamentals of private religious guidance and instruction, they argue -- a critical point since Khomeini is often referred to in the West as a fundamentalist. In reality, he was a Shiite aberration.

Although much of Iran's population -- weary of social and political restrictions and the failed promises of the revolution -- has embraced the idea of democratic change, it still isn't sure how to get there. The reform movement that captivated the population with the 1997 and 2001 presidential election victories of Mohammad Khatami is largely spent, outmuscled by its hard-line foes. February's conservative "victory" in a parliamentary election in which the vast majority of reformist candidates were barred from running is another nail in the reformist coffin. Pro-democracy student groups have publicly renounced their support for Khatami and the country's reformists. The rest of Iran's population has given up on them, too. As one Iranian businessman told me, "Enough of the timid reformers in turbans. We need to move on."

Move on to what? Though no major figure has emerged as a leader, the idea of secular democracy is filling the vacuum, particularly among Iranians under the age of 30, who comprise nearly two-thirds of the population. One need look only at the country's Islamic student unions, once a bastion of pro-Khomeini zealotry, to witness this change. Today, they serve as leading voices for secular democracy. One student group, the Daftar-e-Tahkim-e-Vahdat (formed upon Khomeini's orders in the early days of the revolution to counter campus leftists), has repudiated Khomeini's vision of Islamic government and has dismissed Khatami's "Islamic democracy" as irrelevant. As one Daftar leader, Akbar Atri, put it, "We want democracy without a prefix or suffix. That means no Islamic democracy."

What's more, some of the most vigorous student democracy advocates hail from families of former revolutionaries, the religious middle classes and clerics. This is not an elitist movement of Westernized, secular liberals, but a homegrown one composed of many of the same classes that supported Khomeini. We recall that Khomeini once dismissed democracy as alien to Iranian culture. Before him, the shah said Iranians need kings, not parliaments. Today's Iranians see democracy as the natural next step in their evolution.

How long that will take, though, with the conservative clerics still in control, is anyone's guess.

Admittedly, not all Iranians have embraced the principles of secular democracy. For many, it's just the next system worth trying after the Islamic Republic's economic failures.

If the great Ronald Reagan debating line -- "Are you better off today than you were four years ago?" -- were put to Iranians with a different timeline -- "Are you better off today than you were 25 years ago?" -- the answer would be "no." Iranians are today poorer, less free in the social realm and only marginally more free politically than before the revolution. In inflation-adjusted terms, Iranians today earn roughly one-fourth of what they did before the revolution. Educational opportunities have expanded, but job opportunities have not. Unemployment hovers at 20 percent and underemployment is widespread: engineers drive taxis, professors work as traders. The secular, technocratic middle class has been decimated.

In public protests, people chant, "The mullahs live like kings, while we live in poverty!" Leading Iranian clerics, who plied populist themes and class-based resentment in their rise to power, have settled comfortably into the villas and palaces of the shah's elite. Iranians under the age of 30, "the children of the revolution," live their lives in varying degrees of revolt ranging from active political dissent to more common and more subtle acts of resistance -- quiet defiance of strict social laws or simply voting with their feet. Last year, nearly 200,000 of the best and brightest left the country legally; tens of thousands leave illegally.

Iranian college campuses, however, offer glimmers of hope. The leftist, anti-imperialist ideas of the 1970s have given way to a more pragmatic discourse about economic and political dignity based on Western models of secular democracy. Iranian youth largely dismiss the radical ideas of their parents' generation, full of half-baked leftism, Marxist economics, Third World anti-imperialism, Islamist radicalism and varying shades of utopian totalitarianism. "We just want to be normal," is typical of what hundreds of students have told me. "We're tired of radicalism." Another student told me, "We're not rich enough to be radical leftists. We have to worry about getting a job."

For inspiration, Iranian youth would do well to turn back to the era of their great-grandparents and the 1906-11 Constitutional Revolution, Iran's first attempt at democratic reform. That era produced a constitution that embraced democracy, secularism, women's rights and a strong parliament. Ultimately, the movement was snuffed out by royalist reactionaries and foreign powers (namely the British and Russians). But the dream of that movement -- of a fair society based on just laws and of an independent, democratic, secular and prosperous Iran -- has not died. It lives even stronger among today's "children of the Islamic revolution." That, in the end, might be the Islamic Republic's most lasting -- and ironic -- legacy.

http://www.daneshjoo.org/generalnews/article/publish/article_5209.shtml
12 posted on 03/06/2004 8:35:45 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn; freedom44; faludeh_shirazi; nuconvert; Valin; RaceBannon; Pan_Yans Wife
What She Saw at the Revolution

Shah of Iran's Widow Shares Insight into Final Days of Monarchy

ABC News
March 6th, 2004

March 6 — Farah Pahlavi is a 65-year-old woman living a quiet life in Potomac, Md., but 25 years ago she was an empress living at the center of a cultural and political upheaval that continues to affect world politics to this day.

Pahlavi is the widow of the late shah of Iran, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, the emperor of Persia, whose pro-American government was overthrown by Islamic fundamentalists in January 1979.

In 1959, at age 20, she was a young commoner studying architecture in Paris when she was introduced to the shah. She recalls their first meeting, "I was so flattered and happy to see him from so close. And I remember I wrote a letter to my mother saying he has such beautiful eyes but very sad eyes."

More at:

http://abcnews.go.com/sections/2020/World/empress_040305-1.html
13 posted on 03/06/2004 9:53:04 AM PST by F14 Pilot
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To: F14 Pilot
The Walters interview was interesting, even though I have little patience for Walters and her silly questions. She actually asked, "Do you think of your husband, often?" or something similar. Foolish question from a foolish woman.
14 posted on 03/06/2004 9:54:57 AM PST by Pan_Yans Wife (The soul unfolds itself, like a lotus of countless petals. --- Kahlil Gibran)
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To: DoctorZIn
It could be the eternal wisdom of Persia's great poets, an unforgettable bond to Iran and an everlasting love for a ruler the world shunned in his last days in exile that have kept Farah Pahlavi anchored.

She has suffered in her 25 years since the shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, piloted his family out of Iran. At 66, she remains philosophical about her losses, the dizzying highs and lows her journey has involved.

"There are days where I find myself depressed and tired . . . people write to me and they want me to give them courage," she said. "Life is a struggle, for everyone at every level, but you should not lose your dignity. To go on is the struggle of life."

"There are so many answers in Persian poetry. A blue sky, love of family and nature. All this gives me positive energy," she said. "At the end, it is in yourself that you have to find the way to go on."

The account of her life as a glamorous and stunning empress who had to give it all up in the face of historical upheaval is narrated in her memoir, "An Enduring Love: My Life With the Shah," published in English by Miramax Books. The book, which was translated from French, topped bestseller lists for weeks last fall in France.

In the book, she chronicles Iran's plunge into chaos and arbitrary executions in the early days of the revolution, and her husband's battle with cancer. She describes the humiliation of becoming a diplomatic burden in search of a haven and medical care at the height of the U.S. hostage crisis in Tehran.

She details the political maneuvering she and her husband faced as they jetted from Egypt to the United States, the Bahamas, Mexico and Panama before finally returning to reside in Egypt. It is a retelling of events based on her own diary entries as well as accounts from the shah's doctors, the former first lady of Egypt, Jehan Sadat, and others.

Pahlavi talked about her life and work Wednesday in an interview at her home in Potomac. The afternoon sun flooded her living room, decorated with kilim carpets, modern Iranian paintings and a bronze bust of the shah.

She follows every newscast and development in Iran as if still there, and she devotes time each day to answering e-mail from students in Iran who ask her to call them, parents worried about their children or disillusioned expatriates who need her moral support.

Pahlavi began writing her book three years ago, when she was overcome with grief as her youngest daughter was losing a battle with depression, eating disorders and a dependence on sleeping pills. Leila, 31, died in a hotel room in London in 2001.

"I felt so miserable, I started then," she said of beginning the memoir.

Pahlavi said that if she has one regret, it is that she did not spend more private time with her husband and children. Her happiest memories are of giving birth to a boy, a girl, a boy, a girl, and of traveling around the Iranian countryside, where she said she met ordinary people. "I always wanted to travel as a nomad, or cross the Iranian desert on camel back. Apparently, it is an unbelievable experience," she said longingly.

Pahlavi was born Farah Diba, an only child. She lost her father and was brought up by her mother in her uncle's house.

In the summer of 1959 in France, while trying to obtain a scholarship to continue her architecture studies in Paris, a chance encounter with the shah developed into a romance. They married later that year.

A longtime acquaintance, Haleh Esfandiari, who served as deputy director of one of her many cultural foundations, said that "she never lost that popular touch. She was genuine. While the shah gave the impression of being distant, she allowed people to rush and embrace her while visiting the provinces." Esfandiari, director of the Middle East Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center here, attended the same girls school in Tehran as Pahlavi.

Pahlavi describes the forced separation from her children when they needed their parents the most, the final scene of tearful farewells with palace personnel throwing themselves at the shah's feet, and the cook who grabbed his copper pots and bags of lentils and beans to take with him on the plane.

"When we look back, we all had a part in this revolution," she said of her countrymen. "They all, in a sort of hysteria, thought religious men could bring freedom and democracy.

"Khomeini used them all," she said of the grand ayatollah who led the 1979 Islamic revolution. "Maybe we should have handled or addressed problems differently," she conceded, noting that there were shortcomings in her husband's rule. He died in 1980.

The political jockeying by some members of the royal entourage after the death of her husband still stings. "It's very hard to have seen one side of human beings, then have to see the other side, their actions and words, coming from people who were close to you," she said.

But, she added, "I have tried to put myself above it."

"If you have to cross the desert to reach your goal, go," she said, borrowing from the words of Hafiz, one of Iran's most celebrated poets, "pay no heed to the wounding thorns."

http://www.iranvajahan.net/cgi-bin/news.pl?l=en&y=2004&m=03&d=05&a=4
15 posted on 03/06/2004 12:45:36 PM PST by freedom44
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To: DoctorZIn
Iran angry at US general's remarks
Mar 6, 2004, 19:20

Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi here on Friday, in response to the recent remarks of the commander of US Central Command (Centcom) in Iraq, lieutenant General John Abizaid said that they are repetitive and not legally or reasonably substantiated.

Turning to Abizaid's allegations voiced at the armed services committee of US house of representatives, he added that they are meant to cover up the weaknesses and failures of the intruding forces in controlling the occupied region.

He noted that this would no way alleviate their responsibility for keeping stability and security in Iraq.

"The strategy of resorting to old ways of propaganda and psychological warfare aiming to raise charges against others are no solution to rid the US of the consequences of their wrong security policies and the occupation of Iraq," he stressed.

Asefi referred to part of Abizaid's remarks that Iran disregards the crossing of Al-Qaeda members through its border as contradicting his allegation that Iran has caused no interference in Iraq.

He underlined, "such evidences clearly show Iran's firm determination to support the people of Iraq and Afghanistan, promotion of regional stability and security as well as development of democracy based on the public will rather than the foreign rule, while the US invasion only undermined the stability and security of the region."

Turning to the commitments of the occupying forces to establish security in Iraq, in accordance with the Geneva Convention, the official noted that Iran would make full use of its legal rights to completely restore the rights of its citizens, and that the withdrawal of the foreign forces from Iraq would be the only way to establish security and stability there.

http://www.iranian.ws/iran_news/publish/article_1591.shtml
16 posted on 03/06/2004 12:55:21 PM PST by freedom44
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To: DoctorZIn
Two Mild Quakes Jolt Avaj
Mar 6, 2004, 07:17

Email this article
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Iran news - Two earthquakes, measuring 3.4 and 3.1 degrees on the open-ended Richter scale, jolted the city of Avaj in Qazvin Province, northwest of Tehran, IRNA reported. According to the seismological network affiliated to the Nationwide Seismology Center, the first tremor hit the city at 22:04 hours local time (18:34 GMT) on Thursday while the second one shook the area at 05:14 hours local time (01:44 GMT) on Friday morning. There were no reports of damages or casualties by the tremors.

http://www.iranian.ws/iran_news/publish/article_1586.shtml
17 posted on 03/06/2004 12:56:10 PM PST by freedom44
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To: DoctorZIn
31 percent of 15- to 29-year-old Iranians are unemployed
Thirty-one percent of Iranian youth in the 15 to 29 years age group, are either unemployed or lack a suitable job, said an official in Shiraz, Fars province on Saturday, IRNA reported.

Presidential Advisor and Head of the National Youth Organization Rahim Ebadi told an international seminar on minor credits for the youth that unemployment growth rate among the young population in Iran stands at about 13.2 percent a year and if the trend continues, in the next three years more than 52 percent of the youth will be unemployed.

Ebadi said the country has not been able to meet demands of the youth due to rapid growth in population.

He said rise in employment opportunities can raise the life expectancy rate and the hope for education and marriage among the youth.

The official said the youth, aged 15 to 19, account for 39 percent of the country's active work force and the unemployment rate stands at about 34 percent among the age groups of 15 to 19 years old and at about 16 percent among the 25 to 29 years age group.

He said that about 320,000 graduates apply for jobs, raising concerns they would not find adequate jobs.

http://www.payvand.com/news/04/mar/1040.html
18 posted on 03/06/2004 12:58:26 PM PST by freedom44
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To: DoctorZIn
"Whoever you nominate, make sure he's not wearing a turban," Ayatollah Sistani said"

Words to live by.
19 posted on 03/06/2004 7:35:43 PM PST by nuconvert (CAUTION: I'm an acquaintance of someone labelled :"an obstinate supporter of dangerous fantasies")
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To: DoctorZIn
Summary of Iran News - BBC Monitoring, March 6th

March 06, 2004
BBC Monitoring
BBC Monitoring Middle East

Prisoner's father says no progress in condition of political prisoners in Iran

Text of report by Iranian newspaper Aftab-e Yazd web site on 6 March

Mohammad Baqer Batebi has said: Previous talks in Justice Department about improving the conditions for political prisoners were only words which were never put into practice.

Father of Ahmad Batebi [a student arrested during 1999 student unrest in Tehran] told ILNA: Although my son has a high spirit, the recent pressures on him have led to his nervous break down. And, I have forwarded a letter from the coroner's office to the Justice Department and Evin prison asking for a furlough. I have also sent a letter to my son's university and asked for a leave which I don't know whether or not it has been accepted.

He added: We have repeatedly asked the judicial bodies to probe into my son's case, but our requests are pointless, they do not reply to us and only a two-day furlough has been given to my son.

Source: Aftab-e Yazd web site, Tehran, in Persian 6 Mar 04

Iran's Judiciary chief to visit Evin prison, hold news conference on 6 March

Text of report by Iranian newspaper Aftab-e Yazd web site on 6 March

According to an ILNA report, [the head of the Judiciary], Ayatollah [Mahmud] Hashemi-Shahrudi, will visit Evin prison this evening and hold a press conference with reporters. Whether or not the head of the Judiciary will meet political prisoners is not clear.

He had previously expressed the hope that jail sentences would no longer be given to the people and the prisons to remain vacant.

Source: Aftab-e Yazd web site, Tehran, in Persian 6 Mar 04

Iran: Local governor says most of arrested people released

Text of report by Iranian newspaper Aftab-e Yazd web site on 6 March

The governor of Parsabad has said: Most of the 18 detainees in the recent unrest in the city which took place after [the 20 February parliamentary] elections were released by 2 March.

Kamaleddin Pirmo'azen said in an interview with ILNA that the executive board has confirmed the elections in Parsabad and the city is calm at the moment.

He said that 500 people poured into the streets after the announcement of the election results, adding: Among them were a number of insurgents who broke the windows of 20 shops, 2 banks and the Governor's Office.

Source: Aftab-e Yazd web site, Tehran, in Persian 6 Mar 04

Iran: Majlis deputy for Nahavand summoned to court for remarks on elections

Text of report by Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA) web site

Tehran: Mohammed Ali Hoseyni the Majlis deputy for the people of Nahavand [today] went to the Office of the General and Revolutionary Prosecutor of Tehran.

ISNA's legal correspondent, reporting from the prosecutor's office responsible for breaches committed by state employees and the media, said Ali Hoseyni went to the branch this morning after being summoned by investigator Hoseynian.

Hoseyni will have to deal with accusations made by a representative of the prosecutor regarding his remarks about Majlis elections.

Source: ISNA web site, Tehran, in Persian 0919 gmt 6 Mar 04

Thirty per cent of 15- to 29-year-old Iranians said unemployed or underemployed

Text of report in English by Iranian news agency IRNA

Shiraz, Fars Province, 6 March: Thirty-one per cent of Iranian youth in the 15 to 29 years age group, are either unemployed or lack a suitable job, said an official here on Saturday [6 March].

Presidential adviser and head of the National Youth Organization Rahim Ebadi told an international seminar on minor credits for the youth that unemployment growth rate among the young population in Iran stands at about 13.2 per cent a year and if the trend continues, in the next three years more than 52 per cent of the youth will be unemployed.

Ebadi said the country has not been able to meet demands of the youth due to rapid growth in population.

He said rise in employment opportunities can raise the life expectancy rate and the hope for education and marriage among the youth.

The official said the youth, aged 15 to 19, account for 39 per cent of the country's active workforce and the unemployment rate stands at about 34 per cent among the age groups of 15 to 19 years old and at about 16 per cent among the 25 to 29 years age group.

He said that about 320,000 graduates apply for jobs, raising concerns they would not find adequate jobs.

Source: IRNA news agency, Tehran, in English 1544 gmt 6 Mar 04

Iran: Former Guards chief says US and Iraqi forces foiled large-scale attacks

Excerpts from report by Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA) web site

Tehran: The secretary of the Expediency Council said: "Those who attacked Karbala and Al-Kazimiyah want to create a major incident in order to promote discord between the shi'i and the sunni people. In these circumstances Muslims should maintain their vigilance."

At the end of today's meeting of the Expediency Council, Dr. Mohsen Reza'i told reporters: "At today's meeting events in Iraq were discussed and a full report was given to the members. According to this information, events in Iraq happened on the basis of a well-organized campaign, however 60 per cent of the operation was thwarted by the forces of the Badr Corps, Iraqi police and the Occupation Forces.

He reported the discovery of five cars filled with explosives by a Saudi, the arrest of three people planning to carry out suicide operations, two of whom were Yemenis, and the discovery of a bomb in Najaf.

He added: "This was a well-organized plot carried out by a number of ignorant fanatics. The main objective of the campaign was to create discord between the shi'i and sunni people, and ultimately the various Islamic sects, in order to overshadow the problems of Afghanistan, Palestine and Iraq. But it is not exactly known who carried out these actions."

Reporting the discovery of a letter by the American intelligence services through the infiltration of the Internet, he added: "There is no definite reason that this letter is directly linked with the recent events."

The secretary of the Expediency Council added: "Before the explosions occurred reports had been received by the Americans as well as Lebanon's Hezbollah. The Iraqi forces were aware of the campaign and therefore managed to foil 60 per cent of the plots."

He stressed: "Muslims have to be careful so that these events don't overshadow the main issues of the Islamic world."

The secretary of the Expediency Council also said that today's meeting also discussed policies on technology and that "the country has many potentials which must be developed". [passage omitted: remarks about the importance of technology]

Speaking about the extraordinary meeting of the Expediency Council, Reza'i finally said: "If there is a difference of opinion between the Guardian Council and the Majlis about next year's budget we [at the Expediency Council] shall certainly hold an extraordinary meeting."

Source: ISNA web site, Tehran, in Persian 0910 gmt 6 Mar 04

Iran: Senior conservative says ties with US are outside Majlis jurisdiction

Excerpt from report by Iranian Labour News Agency (ILNA) web site

Tehran: A member of the Central Council of the [conservative] Islamic Coalition Party has said: If the reformists are able to really move towards the real expectations of the people and to act as their true representatives, then it is possible that people will have a different attitude towards them.

Hamid Reza Taraqi spoke with an ILNA correspondent [passage deleted: remarks about the pro-reform groups] about the failure of the conservatives to announce their ideological views, such as their support for the Guardianship of the Jurisconsult and the anti-American struggle in their election slogans.

He said: Expressing support for the Guardianship of the Jurisconsult or expressing ideological views are taken for granted in election slogans as far as the forces defending [religious] values are concerned. There is no need to have a new slogan to express these things.

Taraqi added: Generally speaking the Majlis has no great role vis-a-vis the debate about America. This is among issues related to national security and the major policies of the country. There is no need to refer to this issue in election slogans.

He added: Forces defending [religious] values are trying to use slogans which are within their sphere of duty. They are refraining form slogans about subjects which are not within the sphere of their decision-making or administration.

Source: Iranian Labour News Agency (ILNA), Tehran, in Persian 0936 gmt 6 Mar 04

Iran's right-wing figure says no candidate for presidential elections yet

Text of report by Iranian newspaper Aftab-e Yazd web site on 6 March

Kerman elected MP in seventh Majlis has said: The right faction has designated no specific candidate for presidential elections [in May 2005].

Mohammad Reza Bahonar told IRNA on Thursday [4 March]: So far we have reached no final conclusion and if names of people including Dr [Hasan] Rowhani are mentioned, they are only based on guesses.

He added: The next presidential election will totally depend on the performance of the seventh Majlis in its first year.

Secretary-general of the Islamic Association of Engineers referred to the final year of the presidency of [Mohammad] Khatami, saying: The seventh Majlis faces a paradox in its first year. He said: The majority of the seventh Majlis has decided to focus on common points of view with the government. We offer our hand of support and cooperation to the government and the president and we hope that with the help of the government we would be able to remove parts of the problems of the country and the people.

He called removal of problems the most important need of the people in the recent elections, adding: We have a difficult task ahead of us, but we will try to reach a serious understanding with the government during the first year of our work.

About the next Majlis Speaker he said: There are no differences on this issue, although some rivals are trying to create differences.

He recalled the meeting between the seventh Majlis elected MPs with the minority faction of the sixth Majlis, and said: The final decision will be made by the majority faction and MPs in the seventh Majlis.

The member of Expediency Council further called freedom as God's most invaluable gem after life, and said: The limits of freedom have been defined by the constitution.

He added: Currently, citizens are enjoying good rights, but these freedoms should be protected.

Source: Aftab-e Yazd web site, Tehran, in Persian 6 Mar 04

Iranian president meets Kazakh head of ECO

Excerpt from report by Interfax-Kazakhstan news agency

Almaty, 6 March: Iranian President Mohammad Khatami has held a meeting with the secretary-general of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) [ECO's founding members were Iran, Turkey and Pakistan; after the fall of the Soviet Union, it was joined by Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Azerbaijan and Afghanistan], the Kazakh representative, Askhat Orazbay.

"Khatami voiced his hope that the appointment of the ECO's new secretary-general will begin to develop relations among this regional organization's member states," a report distributed by the Kazakh Foreign Ministry on Saturday [6 March] says.

As was reported Orazbay's candidature for the post of the ECO's secretary-general was supported by the governments of the member states of this organization late in December last year.

For his part, Orazbay stressed at the meeting held [in Tehran] last Wednesday [3 March] that it was important "to properly implement agreements signed by the ECO member states".

[Passage to end omitted: background on the ECO]

Source: Interfax-Kazakhstan news agency, Almaty, in Russian 0955 gmt 6 Mar 04

Iran to manufacture 15.5 million cars in two decades

Text of report in English by Iranian news agency IRNA

Tehran, 6 March 6: Up to 15,500,000 cars will be produced in Iran in the next two decades, said Organization for Optimization of Energy Consumption here on Saturday [6 March].

The organization said 14,197,865 cars will join Iranian transportation fleet by 2022.

The number of cars stood at 4,151,892 in 2002 with 30-year-old dilapidated cars accounting for 2,454,065 of them.

Based on the report, Iran imported 8,700,000 litres of gasoline in the said period to meet domestic shortage.

Iran is expected to need more than 500 billion litres of gasoline in the next 20 years, prompting it to import at least 112bn dollars worth of gasoline.

Source: IRNA news agency, Tehran, in English 1407 gmt 6 Mar 04

Iran-Pakistan body on gas pipeline to meet next month - agency

Text of report in English by Iranian news agency IRNA

Islamabad, 6 March: Pakistan Minister for Finance and Economic Affairs Shaukat Aziz on Saturday revealed that the Iran-Pakistan joint experts committee on the gas pipeline project is to meet next month.

During the state-run Pakistan Television (PTV) talk show on Iran-Pakistan relations Saturday [66 March], he said: "The issue of a gas pipeline from Iran to Pakistan was discussed in the recent Joint Ministerial Commission (JMC) meeting of the two countries in Islamabad.

"The committee of experts would meet in April to discuss modalities of the project."

He added that a brief meeting of the JMC would also be held in June this year to review progress on the project and other issues related to the economic cooperation between the two countries.

The Iran-Pakistan-India project was readjusted after India raised its concerns over its safety, the pipeline having to pass through Pakistan territory.

The finance minister noted that officials of the two sides would submit a comprehensive report regarding the project to visiting Iranian Vice-President Mohammad Reza Aref and Pakistani Prime Minister Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali in six months.

He said that Iran had additional gas reserves and Pakistan needed them for domestic and industrial purposes.

Shaukat Aziz said that the pipeline would be constructed in three years and by then his country's gas requirement would mount.

Iran and Pakistan in the JMC's meeting, he said, agreed on the establishment of a joint investment company that would have its headquarters in Karachi and with a branch in Tehran.

The minister said that an agreement between the two countries for an active role for the private sector would boost trade and discourage smuggling on the Iran-Pakistan border.

He said that construction of more roads and improvement of existing road links between the two countries was vital for trade enhancement.

Shaukat Aziz, in response to a question, said that the Iranian delegation led by First Vice-President Mohammad Reza Aref was keen to strengthen economic relations with Pakistan, adding, "we hope the cooperation would increase".

On the same occasion, Dr Waqar Masud Khan, secretary of the Economic Affairs Division, said that he believes linking Pakistan with Europe through Iran would be beneficial for the whole region and that Pakistan could be an economic bridge in the area.

He said that Iran was supplying electricity to some border areas of Pakistan after receiving a request to extend supply to more areas, particularly the coastal areas of Pakistani Baluchestan.

Secretary of the Ministry of Commerce Kamal Afsar said that the private sectors of the two countries were allowed to involve themselves in the rice export from Pakistan to Iran by 20 March.

He said that Iran was keen to establish a joint border free market and that the two sides had agreed to open national bank branches in Tehran and Islamabad.

Source: IRNA news agency, Tehran, in English 0919 gmt 6 Mar 04

Cuba: Iranian industries minister visits, seeks to strengthen economic ties

Text of unattributed report: "Iranian minister interested in strengthening economic ties with Cuba" published by Cuban news agency AIN web site

Havana, 2 March: Eshaq Jahangiri, the Iranian minister of industries and mines, arrived today in this capital in accordance with an invitation by the Foreign Investment and Economic Cooperation Ministry of Cuba.

The Iranian minister described [efforts] to expand cooperation between his country and Cuba as important. Given that political ties are good, there is therefore much to do in the area of trade, he told [Cuban news agency] Prensa Latina.

Jahangiri also said that, during his stay in Cuba, he hopes to be able to analyse issues of interest.

Our country can provide raw materials to Cuban [as published] industries, he explained, while he highlighted that his country is interested in cooperation with Cuba in the fields of medicine and biotechnology.

This will be a special moment to expand ties between Cuba and Iran, said Jahangiri.

The Iranian visitor's agenda includes interviews with Government Minister Ricardo Cabrisas and Felipe Perez Roque, Cuba's foreign minister, as well as officials of the light and transport industries, among others.

Source: AIN news agency, Havana, in Spanish 3 Mar 04

Iran-Pakistan body on gas pipeline to meet next month - agency

Text of report in English by Iranian news agency IRNA

Islamabad, 6 March: Pakistan Minister for Finance and Economic Affairs Shaukat Aziz on Saturday revealed that the Iran-Pakistan joint experts committee on the gas pipeline project is to meet next month.

During the state-run Pakistan Television (PTV) talk show on Iran-Pakistan relations Saturday [66 March], he said: "The issue of a gas pipeline from Iran to Pakistan was discussed in the recent Joint Ministerial Commission (JMC) meeting of the two countries in Islamabad.

"The committee of experts would meet in April to discuss modalities of the project."

He added that a brief meeting of the JMC would also be held in June this year to review progress on the project and other issues related to the economic cooperation between the two countries.

The Iran-Pakistan-India project was readjusted after India raised its concerns over its safety, the pipeline having to pass through Pakistan territory.

The finance minister noted that officials of the two sides would submit a comprehensive report regarding the project to visiting Iranian Vice-President Mohammad Reza Aref and Pakistani Prime Minister Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali in six months.

He said that Iran had additional gas reserves and Pakistan needed them for domestic and industrial purposes.

Shaukat Aziz said that the pipeline would be constructed in three years and by then his country's gas requirement would mount.

Iran and Pakistan in the JMC's meeting, he said, agreed on the establishment of a joint investment company that would have its headquarters in Karachi and with a branch in Tehran.

The minister said that an agreement between the two countries for an active role for the private sector would boost trade and discourage smuggling on the Iran-Pakistan border.

He said that construction of more roads and improvement of existing road links between the two countries was vital for trade enhancement.

Shaukat Aziz, in response to a question, said that the Iranian delegation led by First Vice-President Mohammad Reza Aref was keen to strengthen economic relations with Pakistan, adding, "we hope the cooperation would increase".

On the same occasion, Dr Waqar Masud Khan, secretary of the Economic Affairs Division, said that he believes linking Pakistan with Europe through Iran would be beneficial for the whole region and that Pakistan could be an economic bridge in the area.

He said that Iran was supplying electricity to some border areas of Pakistan after receiving a request to extend supply to more areas, particularly the coastal areas of Pakistani Baluchestan.

Secretary of the Ministry of Commerce Kamal Afsar said that the private sectors of the two countries were allowed to involve themselves in the rice export from Pakistan to Iran by 20 March.

He said that Iran was keen to establish a joint border free market and that the two sides had agreed to open national bank branches in Tehran and Islamabad.

Source: IRNA news agency, Tehran, in English 0919 gmt 6 Mar 04

Iran not to be referred to Security Council for nuclear programme - agency

Text of report in English by Iranian news agency IRNA

Brussels, 6 March: Iran will not be referred to the UN Security Council for possible sanctions due to its nuclear activities, EU diplomatic sources told IRNA in Brussels.

"Iran's level of cooperation with the IAEA recently has been extremely positive and hence the EU will not agree to refer Iran to the Security Council," said the sources.

The 35-member board of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will meet in Vienna on Monday to discuss the report by IAEA chief Dr Muhammad al-Baradi'i on Iran's nuclear programme.

Al-Baradi'i told reporters in Brussels on Tuesday that Iran "was moving in the right direction."

"The good news is that we are seeing more Iran cooperation, access to sites, the fact that they have suspended comprehensively their enrichment programme," said the IAEA chief before he met EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana on Tuesday.

EU sources, however, noted that in his report Al-Baradi'i also voiced concern that there were some research and development activities that Iran had not declared before.

"But the key message is that Iran's full suspension of its uranium enrichment programme is an extremely positive development," said the sources, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Meanwhile, EU foreign ministers are to discuss EU-Iran ties in their next meeting in Brussels on 22 March.

The ministers are expected to reiterate EU's desire to continue engagement and dialogue with the Islamic Republic, EU sources told IRNA.

"We expressed our disappointment at the way Majlis elections were held but we must not cry over spilled milk," said the sources.

"If the Majlis is efficient, if it carries out reforms there would be no problem in dialogue with Tehran. But we have to wait and see," said the sources.

Source: IRNA news agency, Tehran, in English 0921 gmt 6 Mar 04

Iran: Daily calls for better safety measures for Iranian pilgrims to Iraq

Text of report entitled " Shi'is' position" by Iranian newspaper Iran web site on 4 March

After the explosions on Ashura in Karbala and Al-Kazimiyah, which killed and wounded a large number of pilgrims, including Iranian pilgrims, Iran announced that it had closed its border with Iraq. Although this was necessary in the current circumstances, it can be viewed as giving a patient medicine after he has already died. There is no doubt that the Iranian people's zeal to visit the holy shrines during the month of Muharram and Tasu'a and Ashura exceeded any political decisions and imposed itself on the political echelons of the two countries of Iran and Iraq. However, it goes without saying that in this period, the religious nature of this fervour has resulted in boosting the numbers of Iranian pilgrims in Iraq due to the availability of extensive facilities for the Iranian pilgrims.

This has happened despite the warnings by the sources who are aware of the situation in Iraq, the dangers faced by the pilgrims, and the presence of serious security problems that were not evaluated by the experts. Instead, they were ignored.

The effects and fallout from the explosions in Karbala have emerged not only in the form of the martyrdom of a number of Iranian pilgrims, but in the objectives, including the undermining of the position of the Shi'is in Iraq's political future. It is obvious, that the presence or emergence of insecurity in the Shi'i-inhabited areas of Iraq is a serious challenge to achieving stability in Iraq and the vindication of the lost historical rights of the Shi'is.

The clear message of these explosions is that, in the event the Shi'is come to power, Iraq and the region will be gripped by insecurity. Now that Iraq is on the threshold of the elections and just when the most amicable means of attaining the rights of the majority of Shi'is seemed to be within reach, the fresh explosions can be construed as a serious blow to the position of the Iraqi Shi'is. This is precisely what should not have occurred with regard to the legitimate interests of Iran in Iraq.

Perhaps the imposition of a sort of management on the pure sentiments of the Iraqi Shi'is at the present juncture may help the Iraqi Shi'is more, and the Iranian officials - instead of focusing on the numbers of pilgrims at the shrines - should think about ensuring that the citizens can express their religious fervour and perform their religious obligations with minimal danger and in a climate of security.

The experience of the Iranian pilgrims at the House of God [Ka'bah] and with regard to the country of Saudi Arabia is before us. By paying greater attention to the inclinations of the Iranian Muslims with other countries, the organized visits by the pilgrims, respect for laws and security issues - in addition to ensuring the safety of the lives and property of the Iranian pilgrims in the past few years - have helped eliminate most of the obstacles in the path of political convergence between the two countries of Iran and Saudi Arabia. Hence, the two countries have - as two important players in the region - achieved more closeness than before.

Naturally, with regard to Iraq, by abiding by the above instances, by organizing the trips, and by paying attention to the warnings based on actual facts, Iran would, in addition to protecting the lives of the Iranian pilgrims (as the first priority), strengthen the capability for regional convergence of the two countries. Accordingly, in view of the disarray in Iraq today, Iranian officials should expend more effort considering the issue. For example, along with information from the Iraqi police forces, the Badr Corps, the Jaysh al-Mahdi, and other popular forces that had evaluated the situation in the religious cities of Iraq during the past few days as being in control, information and warnings from other sources should also be heeded, and the volume and extent of the Iranian pilgrims should also be reappraised.

Because this was not done, a lot of blood has been shed, and our borders have been declared closed. We hope that, henceforth, the necessary measures will be taken in a timely manner.

Source: Iran web site, Tehran, in Persian 4 Mar 04

Iraqi civil defence seize explosives; UK forces arrest two Arabs in Basra

Text of report by Iraqi Shi'i group's Iran-based radio station Voice of the Mujahidin on 6 March

The [Iraqi] civil defence forces have found 34,000 kg of highly explosive TNT in the Al-Dawrah, south of Baghdad. An Interior Ministry statement said that the large amount of explosives was hidden in 170 large metal containers, each holding 200 kg, in a farm in Al-Bu'aythah. The statement added that the operation was carried out in cooperation with the occupation forces after receiving intelligence information that a person in Al-Sayyidiyah neighbourhood is dealing in explosive material, which he stored in the farm and accommodated a poor family there to protect the explosives, which he claimed were agricultural substances.

In another development, the British forces in Basra have announced the arrest of two Arabs, whose nationality has not been revealed yet, possessing large sums of money and explosives. The two men have been detained for questioning. A spokesman for the occupation forces said the results of the investigations would be announced within the coming two days.

Source: Voice of the Mujahidin, in Arabic 0700 gmt 6 Mar 04

Iran: Quake jolts city in southern province of Bushehr

Text of report in English by Iranian news agency IRNA

Tehran, 6 March: An earthquake measuring 4 degrees on the open-ended Richter scale jolted the city of Borazjan, in the southern province of Bushehr, early Saturday [6 March].

The seismological base of Tehran University's Geophysics Institute said the tremor occurred at 0103 hours local time (2133 gmt) on Saturday.

There were no reports of any damage to property caused by the quake.

Iran is situated on some of the world's most active seismic fault lines and quakes of varying magnitudes are of usual occurrence.

Source: IRNA news agency, Tehran, in English 0557 gmt 6 Mar 04

http://www.monitor.bbc.co.uk/
20 posted on 03/06/2004 8:48:18 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
As U.S. Watches, Iraq Warms to Old Enemy

March 06, 2004
The Associated Press
Jim Krane

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- With the ouster of Saddam Hussein, Iraq has begun a new friendship with Shiite Iran, a move that upends decades of U.S. policy that sought to keep the two Persian Gulf nations apart.

Shiite Muslims, who comprise 60 percent of Iraq's 25 million people, were long oppressed under Saddam's Sunni-dominated regime.

Now Shiites are headed for control of Iraq's next government, a move expected to build strong relations between the two former enemies, who spent eight years locked in a war that saw a million killed and wounded.

Washington appears to be resigned to the new state of affairs.

"We've known for a long time that the next government was going to be Shiite," said Gregg Sullivan, the U.S. State Department spokesman for Near Eastern affairs. "That doesn't mean it has to be a Shia religious government, but we're not ruling that out, of course."

In the future, a democratic and Shiite-run Iraq could influence Iran, Sullivan said. But for now, it is Iran that is helping shape Iraq.

On Friday, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Husseini al-Sistani, an Iranian citizen and Shiite leader based in southern Iraq, had a hand in scuttling the signing of Iraq's interim constitution. Al-Sistani thought it should be more favorable to the Shiites.

Other Iraqis who lived in exile in Iran are now among the most powerful figures in Baghdad.

Perhaps the biggest sign of rapprochement is the throwing open of the long-sealed border. For months, some 10,000 Iranian pilgrims have crossed the border each day, flooding religious shrines in Iraq's holy cities of Karbala and Najaf.

On Tuesday that opening turned tragic, when bombs exploded in crowds ofShiite pilgrims in Baghdad and Karbala on the holy day of Ashoura. Iranians made up a quarter of the 181 dead and 553 injured.

After the blasts, Tehran asked its citizens to avoid Iraq until the country stabilizes. But there is little doubt on both sides of the border - and in Washington - that the invasion of Iraq has led to a new friendship.

In recent months the two countries' dignitaries have made several official visits to each other's capitals. There are plans afoot to build a cross-border oil pipeline and has been talk of abolishing travelers' visas.

"There will be very close ties on all levels, in trade, in security, in investment," said Entifadh Qanbar, a spokesman for a Shiite member of Iraq's Governing Council, Ahmad Chalabi. "Iran is a huge country. It could be a great market for Iraq."

The United States and Iran have been at odds since Islamic revolutionaries ousted Iran's U.S.-backed shah in 1979 and held U.S. embassy workers hostage for more than a year.

Since then, the U.S. government has sought to keep Iran and Iraq apart.

The United States played both sides of the Iran-Iraq war. The Reagan administration gave intelligence and weapons to Saddam, while secretly arming Iran and sparking the Iran-Contra scandal of 1986.

After the Gulf War in 1991, the United States declined to back Iraqi Shiites' rebellion against Saddam, in part to prevent an Iran-backed regime from taking power. Tens of thousands of Shiites were slaughtered and Iraq endured 12 more years under Saddam.

Now, Iran-backed Shiites are taking power anyway.

Iran played its cards wisely, nurturing an Iraqi Shiite bloc without acting to destabilize Iraq, said Davoud Hermidas Bavand, a university professor in Tehran.

For two decades, Iran sheltered the Supreme Council of Islamic Revolution in Iraq and its leader Abdel-Aziz al-Hakim, who returned to Baghdad last year and became a powerful member of the Governing Council.

"Iran accepted the U.S. invasion and occupation knowing that under democratic principles the Shia would come to dominate Iraq," said Jeremy Binnie, an analyst with the Jane's Group in London.

Some analysts see the two countries forming an alliance that vies for regional dominance with pro-American Sunni-led regimes in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf.

But as support for Iran's mullahs dwindles, a democratic Iraq may wind up influencing Iran, Sullivan said.

Already, Iraq's reopened Shiite shrines are eclipsing those in Iran. And Iraq's more progressive Shiite leaders, like al-Sistani, are emerging as counterparts to Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

"Iraq's ascendance in the Shiite world is not going to sit well with Iran," Sullivan said. "I'm not so sure (Tehran) is enthused about Sistani's emergence. I think there will be more and more Shia groups turning away from Iran and toward Iraq."

Lebanon's Hezbollah, a Shiite party whose armed wing has been branded a terrorist group by the State Department, is one of those groups, Sullivan said.

"There's even talk that Hezbollah has already been looking toward Shia leaders in Iraq and traveling to Iraq to visit the holy sites," he said.

http://www.sunherald.com/mld/sunherald/news/world/8123718.htm
21 posted on 03/06/2004 8:49:13 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Iranian teachers start sporadic strike

SMCCDI (Information Service)
Mar 6, 2004

Thousands of Iranian teachers have started a week long strike in sign of protest against the empty official promises and the persistent repressive and discriminatory measures against them.

Observed strikes have been reported from most areas of the Capital and provincial cities, such as, Esfahan, Mahabad, Shiraz, Hamadan, Kermanshah, Mashad, Amol, Marivan, Khorram-Abad and Oroomiah (former Rezai-e) where the teachers have attend school but refused to be present in the classrooms. Teachers of other cities, such as, Rasht, Yazd and Bojnoord are expected to join the strike as early as tomorrow.

Teachers are still asking better conditions, the release of their jailed colleagues and the public trial of those involved in the deaths of two of their coleagues killed during the Teachers demonstration of January 2002.

A spread of their strike and the radicalization of their movement will face the regime with a grave problem as millions of young Iranians will then be send to streets in the current explosive situation.

Millions of school students stayed in the courtyards, despite the official injunctions, in sign of solidarity and rejection of the official order speaking more of what they're planning for the religiously banned "Fire Fiest" and the "celebration" that they'll make during this tabou breaking night. The banned "Fire Fiest" will be celebrated, again this year on March 16th, despite coinciding with the religious month of Moharam and Iranians are planning to make wide scale celebration and rejection of the Islamic regime and its ideology basis.

http://www.daneshjoo.org/generalnews/article/publish/article_5212.shtml
22 posted on 03/06/2004 8:50:13 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Influent US Senator reiterates support of Iranian freedom lovers

SMCCDI (Information Service)
Mar 6, 2004

The influent Senator John Cornyn (R - TX) reiterated, this evening, his support of Iranian freedom lovers during a discussion made with Aryo Pirouznia of SMCCDI. The event was held in the frame of the "Lincoln Day Diner" ceremony held at the Fairmont Hotel in Dallas-Texas where the SMCCDI Coordinator expressed the Movement's gratitude toward those who have shown that Iranians are no more left alone in their struggle against tyranny.

The well listened senator who was formerly the Texas Attorney General, partially during George Bush's governance of Texas, stated: "....We won't forget the plight of Iranians and we will do everything we can do to support them in their endeavor to reach freedom.."

Later and during his public speech, he slammed the Islamic republic regime for its actions which jeopardize the World and reaffirmed America and the Republicans firm commitments to defend peace and freedom across the world and the main objective of putting an end to suffers of tyrannized peoples.

It's to note that Mr. Cornyn was, on July 13th 2003, the guest speaker of the "July 9th Student Uprising in Iran" which was organized by SMCCDI. During this unprecedented meeting, he slammed the Islamic regime for the killing of Iranian students and the persistent rights abuses while condemning it for the dangers which it poses to World's peace and stability. In parts of this well acclaimed speech which was covered by main Texan TV channels, such as, CBS, Fox and Warner, he stated: " ...Make no mistake: these are the actions of a vicious regime that fears for its survival. I am here to tell you that I am committed to ensuring that those who died protesting the repression of the Iranian government will not have died in vain. After 24 years of theocratic rule, and nearly seven years under the so-called reform government, it is clear that the repressive government in Iran is still up to no good...."

Since then, Mr. Cornyn has joined several fellow colleagues who are pushing for the freedom of Iran and its enchained people and has taken several public actions in their favor.

As an example, he endorsed on, February 19th of this year, a public letter for the attention of Mr. Powell, the US Secretary of State, in which along with his fellow colleagues Sam Brownback (R - KS), Norm Coleman (R - MN) and Jon Kyl (R - AZ ), he has criticized the Islamic regime for the continuation of rights abuses and threatening the world's peace while warning on any US policy change in reference to the mullahcracy.

In part of this letter, these principled senators, have warned Mr. Powell about any future error in US Diplomacy toward the falling theocratic regime and its negative impacts for the Iranian people. After putting several conditions for any policy change and as a closing argument, they have stated: "... Let us not compound the tragedy of the Bam earthquake with policy missteps that further condemn the people of Iran and threaten to place America on the wrong side of history".

Mr. Cornyn's full speech, made on July 13, 2003, can be seen at: http://www.daneshjoo.org/article/publish/article_3058.shtml

http://www.daneshjoo.org/generalnews/article/publish/article_5214.shtml
23 posted on 03/06/2004 8:51:23 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
This thread is now closed.

Join Us At Today's Iranian Alert Thread – The Most Underreported Story Of The Year!

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

24 posted on 03/07/2004 12:03:51 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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