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Najaf office of Iran-based cleric involved in bid to end Sadr standoff

Sunday, May 02, 2004
IranMania News

NAJAF, Iraq, May 2 (AFP) - Representatives of Iran-based Grand Ayatollah Kazem Hossein Haeri are helping mediate to end a standoff between wanted Shiite Muslim cleric Moqtada Sadr and US forces, the ayatollah's office said Sunday.
An official at the office said Haeri believed that any confrontation with the Americans in this Shiite holy city would result in significant civilian casualties.

"Armed confrontation will give occupation forces the excuse to hit civilians under the cover that they are ridding Iraq of followers of ousted president Saddam Hussein or members of the Al-Qaeda terror network," the source said on condition of anonymity.

He said Sadr was "completely independent" from Haeri but the ayatollah nevertheless had authorised his office here to put pressure on the cleric and the US-led coalition to find a peaceful resolution to the standoff. The office was working through Shiite members of the US-appointed Governing Council and tribal leaders.

A fresh mediation effort involving Iraqi police chiefs and tribal leaders was announced by Sadr's spokesman on Saturday. The official at Haeri's office said the talks aimed to convince the US-led coalition to postpone the trial of Sadr, wanted in connection with the murder of a rival cleric last year, until after the June 30 deadline for the transfer of partial sovereignty to an interim Iraqi government.

As for Sadr's Mehdi Army militia, the official said that it would be converted into a political party that would have the right to take an active role in Iraq's future. "This is the solution that we find reasonable and Sayed (eds: honorific) Moqtada may accept it," said the official.

Previous mediation efforts have come to a dead-end because of what the Sadr camp described as "impossible conditions dictated by the Americans." The US-led coalition insists that while it welcomes all attempts to avoid bloodshed it is not negotiating with Sadr, who must face justice and disband his militia.

A force of 2,500 US troops is camped outside Najaf and clashes with Mehdi militiamen near Kufa to the north last week killed 64 Sadr fighters, according to the US military. Grand Ayatollah Haeri, 65, has been living in exile since 1976.

In Iraq he was a leader of the Dawa party, and then took a leading role in the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, which was Iran-based but has become the main party in post-Saddam Iraq.
15 posted on 05/02/2004 4:54:59 AM PDT by F14 Pilot (John ''Fedayeen" Kerry - the Mullahs' regime candidate)
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To: freedom44; nuconvert; AdmSmith; McGavin999; Cindy; Eurotwit
Univ. of Chicago Returns Tablets to Iran

Associated Press Writer

TEHRAN, Iran - The University of Chicago on Saturday returned 300 ancient clay tablets taken from Iran on loan 67 years ago, marking the first U.S. return of borrowed Iranian artifacts since the Middle Eastern state's 1979 Islamic revolution.

The clay tablets belong to the Achaemenid dynasty that ruled ancient Persia about 2,500 years ago. They have provided historians with details about the languages and daily life in the Persian empire.

The tablets were received in Iran on Saturday, the official Islamic Republic News Agency said, citing National Museum chief Mohammed Reza Kargar.

Archeologists discovered the tablets in 1933 in the ruins of Persepolis, capital of the Achaemenid dynasty. They were loaned for research purposes to the institute, Kargar said.

The tablets have taken on added significance as the university's Oriental Institute — a leading center for the study of ancient Iran in America — tries to re-establish ties with Iranian scholars and archaeology sites.

The United States severed diplomatic relations with Iran in 1979 after Iranian militant students seized the U.S. embassy to protest Washington's refusal to hand over the shah to Iran for trial. Militants held 52 people hostage for 444 days.

Tehran-Washington relations began thawing after the 1997 election of President Mohammad Khatami, who called for cultural and athletic exchanges to help bring down the wall of mistrust between both countries.

Relations worsened after President Bush named Iran as part of an "axis of evil."

Kargar said Iran was open to new cooperation with the university's Oriental Institute, which shared a close relationship for most of the 20th century until Iran's 1979 revolution.

"Iran's Cultural Heritage Organization is prepared for scientific exchanges with the world's scientific centers, but so far we have not signed any research cooperation agreement" with the Oriental Institute, Kargar said.

The 300 tablets are among tens of thousands discovered in 1933 by University of Chicago archeologists excavating in Persepolis. They vary in size from that of a dish towel to a packet of chewing gum and in color from beige to reddish brown.

The tablets are written in cuneiform — an early system of writing that used wedge shapes — but the language is Elamite, which is poorly understood. The translations took years, but all 300 tablets have been translated and published.

From the tablets, researchers have learned how much laborers in Persia were paid, that workers were brought in from distant parts of the empire, such as Greece, Egypt and Central Asia, and details about the system under which foreign delegations were authorized to travel across the land.
16 posted on 05/02/2004 5:38:57 AM PDT by F14 Pilot (John ''Fedayeen" Kerry - the Mullahs' regime candidate)
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