Skip to comments.Iranian Alert -- May 21, 2004 [EST]-- IRAN LIVE THREAD -- "Americans for Regime Change in Iran"
Posted on 05/20/2004 10:39:41 PM PDT 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. Most Americans 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. I began these daily threads June 10th 2003. On that date Iranians once again began taking to the streets to express their desire for a regime change. Today in Iran, most want to replace the regime with a secular democracy.
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.
U.S., Russia want IAEA to report on Iran nuke program to UN
Interfax - Report Section
May 20, 200
MOSCOW - The United States and Russia believe the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) should report to the UN Security Council on Iran's nuclear program, a senior U.S. official said on Thursday.
The U.S. and Russia have discussed Iran's alleged efforts to develop nuclear weapons and the threat such arms would pose to international security and stability, Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security John Bolton told a news conference at Interfax on Thursday.
Washington and Moscow decided that it would be useful if the IAEA submitted a report on Iran's nuclear program to the Security Council, he said.
Labour Peer Calls for Referendum for Regime Change in Iran
PA News - Report Section
May 20, 2004
The meddling mullahs of Iran are trying to export their menacing version of Islamic fundamentalism into Iraq, Labour peer Lord Corbett of Castle Vale, claimed today.
He was speaking at a meeting convened in the House of Commons by the National Council of resistance of Iran, attended by lawyers and parliamentarians.
He said: The aim of the meddling mullahs is not only to foster and create instability in Iraq, it is to prepare the way for the export of its menacing version of Islamic fundamentalism and the establishment of a sister theocratic state in Iraq.
Lord Corbett added: In parliaments throughout the European Union and the USA, elected representatives are backing those who work with the National Council of Resistance of Iran to win freedom and democracy back from the mullahs.
Win Griffiths, Labour MP for Bridgend, said there should be a United Nations-sponsored referendum for a change of regime in Iran.
LOSING THE COMMON MAN
By AMIR TAHERI
May 21, 2004 -- WHY don't the Americans trust us? Why don't they talk to us? Even before yesterday's raid on the home of Ahmed Chalabi of the Iraqi Governing Council, more and more Iraqis have been asking such questions.
"It is as if we are being scripted out of matters that concern us," says a member of the Committee for Reconstruction and Development in Baghdad. "Several European companies have been enlisted to work out urban development plans that should be decided by us."
Another official complains that Iraqi journalists and managers are systematically shut out of Coalition-financed media ventures. The Coalition's official TV station, al Iraqiyah, is almost entirely run by Maronite Christians from Lebanon. Some 80 percent of its programs are made in Dubai by Lebanese, Egyptian and Iranian producers. No Iraqis around. The accent is Lebanese, as are the music program.
Lebanese and Egyptian re-runs provide a good part of the fare, much to the chagrin of the Iraqis. It offers shows on Lebanese cooking, something Iraqis either don't know about or dislike. Other programs include body-building lessons for ladies, something Iraqi women regard as indecent.
The new programs treat Iraqis as morons who must be fed Arab-style propaganda with every news bulletin billing Coalition Provisional Authority chief Paul Bremer in the same way that Saddam Hussein was billedin his heyday.
Not surprisingly, the costly TV station attracts no more than 12 percent of the audience share in Iraq far behind that won by Iranian and Qatari satellite channels.
"Being ruled by mighty America is one thing," says Saadoun Qurban, a Baghdad businessman. "But being bossed over by people from tiny Lebanon is quite another."
Are there Iraqis to run their own media? Yes, plenty. In fact, Iraqis are the stars of the most popular Arab TV channels, including the controversial Al-Jazeera.
Another complaint: American leaders seldom bother to appear on the Iraqi station. President Bush went on the Dubai-based Al-Arabiya to speak of his horror about Abu Ghraib, which happens to be in Iraq. And it was in an interview with Al Ahram, the Egyptian government's newspaper, that the president offered his apologies over the prisoner-abuse scandal.
Iraq has 150 new newspapers, almost all of them better than Al Ahram, if only because they aren't propaganda sheets for an unelected government. Yet they can't even get an interview with Bremer's driver, let alone President Bush.
Worse still, Bush presented his first Abu Ghraib apologies to Jordan's King Abdullah. The Iraqis regard themselves as potential leaders of the Middle East and resent being treated as if they were under the tutelage of the King of Jordan or anyone else.
"Would it not have been better for the president to call the head of the Iraq Governing Council or, better still, to invite him to the White House, to offer an apology?" asks a member. "And was it not odd that the first move to make up for Abu Ghraib was an invitation to the Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmad Quraie to visit Washington? This means that Iraqis are tortured, but the Yasser Arafat gang are rewarded."
The list of senior Americans who appear on Qatari, Saudi and Lebanese TV channels to explain U.S. policies reads like a Who's Who of the Bush White House. But they systematically shun Iraq's new, privately-owned and free media, which is the most robust in the so-called Arab world today.
Needless to say, most of the contracts granted since liberation have gone to non-Iraqi companies and businessmen. The Kuwaitis have received a share far in excess of the actual size of their country. (Until recently, Bremer even had his laundry done in Kuwait.)
There are Turkish, Iranian, Jordanian, Lebanese and even Syrian companies and businessmen all over the place. The CPA believes that they are more welcome than companies and businessmen from the West. The Iraqis, however, feel all that as a humiliation.
"The Americans don't even trust us as their man-Friday," complains Saleh Ali, a Baghdad businessman.
To make matters worse, the Coalition now wants to bring in Lakhdar Brahimi, an Algerian diplomat, to rule Iraq in the transition period.
"Iraq was a state and a founder of the United Nations when Algeria was a French province," says Ali. "Is there no Iraqi capable of doing the job that they have reserved for Brahimi?"
Contrary to the generally held view that Iraq is an "artificial country" with no sense of identity, the overwhelming majority of Iraqis have strong patriotic sentiments that cut across ethnic and religious differences. They set the concept of "Uruqua" (Iraqi-ness) against that of "Uruba" (Arabness) to claim a special leadership place for their country.
The Iraqis complain that America and its allies have never tried to address the Iraqi masses. Contact is limited to tribal and religious leaders, plus a few dozen officials in and around the Governing Council.
In most cases, Iraqi masses hear about Coalition decision through other Arab countries. And they resent that.
"We were supposed to be special friends," says Khalid Kishtaini, a novelist. "In practice, however, the Americans seem to take us for granted while courting other Arabs at our expense."
Why has the Coalition marginalized Iraqis in so many domains?
One reason may be the fact that the Coalition has imprisoned itself in fortress-like buildings, reducing direct contact with the Iraqis to a minimum. This is a pity. The overwhelming majority of Iraqis have a sense of gratitude toward America and its allies, although they may be reluctant to say so in front of TV cameras. A small minority of terrorists and anti-U.S. insurgents has succeeded in preventing the people-to-people contact needed to build lasting friendships.
Will John Negroponte, the man chosen to be the first U.S. ambassador to liberated Iraq, understand the situation and try to establish a rapport with the people of Iraq? Maybe if it is not too late already.
Amir Taheri is reachable through www.benadorassociates.com.
IN MAJOR SHAKE UP AT THE VVIR, ALI LARIJANI BIDS FAREWELL, REPLACED BY EZZATOLLAH ZARQAMI
By Safa Haeri
Posted Thursday, May 20, 2004
By Safa Haeri
LA HERRADURA (SOUTH OF SPAIN), 20 May (IPS) In a major shake up at the head of the Voice and Visage of the Islamic Republic (VVIR, or the Iranian Radio and Television Organisation), Mr. Ali Larijani, a personal friend of Ayatollah Ali Khameneh'i, is to leave the huge Organisation after ten years of controversial but iron fist rule over one of the most important bastions of the ruling conservatives.
The news about the departure of Mr. Larijani, a former officer of the Revolutionary Guards and his replacement by Mr. Ezzatollah Zarqami, one of the former islamist revolutionary students who stormed the American Embassy in Tehran on 4 November 1979 and taking 55 American diplomats and staff as hostages for 444 days, was first published by newspapers close to the conservative establishment immediately after Mr. Khameneh'i paid an unscheduled visit to the Radio and Televisions head quarters situated on a hill top in the posh district of north of the Capital Tehran.
Mr. Zarqami is one of the very few students who did not joined the leftist current that, after the victory of Hojjatoleslam Mohammad Khatami in the presidential elections of May 1997 became known as the reformist movement.
Among all the students who attacked the American Embassy, Mr. Zarqami who joined the Revolutionary Guards at the end of the occupation and worked there with Mr. Ali Larijani before becoming a Deputy Islamic Guidance Minister for Cinematographic Affairs, kept only one friend, namely Mr. Mahmoud Ahmadi Nezhad, the current Mayor of Tehran, wrote the pro-reformist daily Sharq under the title Larijani Out, Zarqami In.
Like all other key or strategic institutions of the Islamic Republic, the State-owned Radio and Television are directly under the direct control of Ayatollah Khameneh'i and often, reflects his views and the policies of the conservatives, hence the anger of the reformists who are almost ignored and the majority of the Iranians that accuses the Organisation of being the propaganda tool of the ruling minority instead of an independent instrument at the service of the wider public, satisfying the needs of the viewers.
According to Iranian analysts, the change is significant, as it shows the will of the ruling conservatives to perpetuate their hold on power by bringing up new generation of decision-makers younger, less dogmatic, less politically motivated and at the same time more obedient to the ruling establishment and more in line with the founding principles of the Islamic Revolution, above all the principle of velayat motlaqeh faqih, or the absolute rule of the leader, the corner stone of the present Iranian theocratic system.
The appointment of Mr. Zarqami is important for he and a few other officials represents the new generation of decision-makers. Total dedication to the principle of velayate faqih, past military presence at the (Iran-Iraq) War fronts especially membership at the Revolutionary Guards, youth, cooperation with institutions in charge of the safeguard of the political establishment (Intelligence Ministry, Revolutionary Guards or Islamic Revolution courts) as well as accepting the idea of khodi and nakhodi (one of ours and no ours) are the highlights of these new officials that due to their young age, one can describes them as the young neo conservatives, the paper confirms, adding that the appointment of Mr. Zarqami as the new Head of the VVIR would no doubt reinforce the position of this young generation against that of the conservatives old guard.
Under the generic name of the Developers of Islamic Iran, led by Mr. Qolamali Haddad Adel, a close relative of Mr. Khameneh'i likely to become the next Speaker of the Seventh Majles dominated by the young neo-cons -- and by the same token, would make history in becoming the first no-turbaned man sitting in this important position is fully in line with the conservatives new approach.
To many analysts, between Mr. Haddad Adel, Larijani and Ahmadi Nezhad, this later has the most chances to become Iran's next president and is already groomed by the conservatives for that job.
One of the important particularities of the new comers is, according to some political pundits, their relative desinteressement to foreign relations, giving the priority to domestic problems, and above all strengthening the calamitous situation and eroding power of the conservatives led by the Khameneh'i-Hashemi Rafsanjani duo, at a time that the Iranians have also lost all hopes with the reformists.
Mr. Hashemi Rafsanjani has already highlighted this change of priorities in speeches made immediately after the victory of the conservatives at the 20 February Legislative elections, reiterating that the new Majles would spent less of its time in futile debates and factional confrontations, concentrating more on satisfying peoples most urgent demands like job, security, justice and equity, issues that the conservatives accused the Khatami government of ignoring, giving the priority to enhance the regimes image abroad, mostly with the Europeans.
Going from the principle that power makes negotiations and bargaining easier, the new team that is emerging would take North Korea as a model of fait accompli, meaning less palabres with the International Atomic Energy Agency in the one hand and more efforts in finishing the nuclear bomb, commented Mr. Nima Rashedan, a former Revolutionary Guards officer turned journalist, living now in Switzerland.
However, other observers said, the presence of Dr. Ali Akbar Velayati, the former Foreign Affairs Minister who now is serving as a special advisor to the leader on foreign relations having the upper hand on the Ministry would keep a lid over those who would take the risk of cutting bridges with important international organisations. In fact, only one diplomat considered as khodi can take the making of foreign policy out of the hands of the militaries, Sharq said.
Speaking with the Persian service of Radio France International, Mr. Rashedan warned that the appointment of Mr. Zarqami, the very example of a typical Revolutionary Guards elite would increase the support of the VVIR for extremist organisations such as the Lebanese Hezbollah or the Islamic Jihad of Palestine without changing much for the viewers or the gteneral policies of the Organisation.
ENDS LARIJANI LEAVES VVIR 19504
Is it true that Iranians are the most pro-American (or least anti-American) people in the Islamic world?
-- No 19.11 % (94)
-- Yes 70.93 % (349)
-- Not Sure 9.96 % (49)
Total Votes: 492
LONDON-TEHRAN 20 May (IPS) Iranian authorities on Thursday expelled the correspondent of the influential newspaper The Guardian because he reported on the aftermath of the Bam earthquake without permission, the paper announced.
The correspondent Dan de Luce, 38, who holds an American passport, would return to London after authorities declined to renew his visa and accreditation.
He would be permitted to reapply in three months time, authorities said.
The Iranian government said the ban was for three months only and De Luce could then re-apply for a resident's visa and press accreditation.
In a statement,the Islamic Guidance and Culture Ministry, which is responsible for foreign journalists in Iran said: "Dan De Luce deliberately contravened the regulations.
In a statement relayed through the embassy in London, the Islamic Guidance and Culture Ministry, which is responsible for foreign journalists in Iran, said: "Dan De Luce deliberately contravened the regulations.
"His professional activities have been suspended for three months and this is not because of what he wrote but because of contravention of the regulations".
De Luce, who had visited the ravaged zone 4 months ago covering the visit of Prince Charles, had published a dispatch last month critical of the reconstruction effort in Bam following last year's earthquake which killed more than 20,000 people.
He then applied with the Ministry to make another visit to Bam, which had been temporarily closed to foreign journalists after an outbreak of violence, but was denied permission to go to Bam to report.
He went there in March to carry out voluntary work with an Iranian NGO, helping to clear debris.
He said he had not at that time been planning to write anything for the press.
But, moved by what he saw and heard in Bam, he wrote an article for the Guardian, published on April 2, in which he reported that the earthquake survivors were critical of the government's reconstruction effort.
He applied to renew his visa on April 25, and was told on May 3 that he would have to leave the country for a period of three months.
He had travelled to the city as an aid volunteer, after being denied a permit to make the trip as a journalist.
"Dan de Luce deliberately contravened the regulations. His professional activities have been suspended for three months and this is not because of what he wrote but because of contravention of the regulations," the Iranian Ministry of Islamic Culture and Guidance said in a statement.
De Luce told the Guardian he was "disappointed to be leaving. I was just trying to do my job. I wrote the story from Bam because I thought it was important to document the situation there, what the survivors and the aid agencies were saying".
Guardian Editor Alan Rusbridger said the expulsion "can only set back our attempts to understand the fast-changing nature of Iranian society", adding he hoped Iran would reconsider.
The Foreign Office said it was for Iran to decide who could enter the country, but de Luce's expulsion "sends the wrong messages about freedom of the press, about Iran's willingness to engage sensibly with the international community".
De Luce's predecessor for the Guardian, Geneive Abdo, left Tehran in 2001, expressing fear she might be punished after authorities criticised her interview with a political prisoner.
Iran's foreign press corps has grown considerably over the past several years as the country improved its relations with Europe, although U.S. news organisations still have only limited representation there.
In a strongly worded message to Ayatollah Ali Khamenehi, the Rome-based Association of Iranian Journalists Abroad vigorously protested to the decision of expelling Mr. De Luce and also urged him to order the release of all Iranian jailed journalists.
Visiting journalists have occasionally been expelled from Iran or denied visas, but foreign correspondents residing there full-time have not been expelled for many years.
De Luce said yesterday: "It's not reasonable to ban journalists from the site of a major earthquake that attracted so much international attention and aid money. By doing this, they're damaging Iran's reputation needlessly".
He said he believed his expulsion was intended to set an example to other foreign correspondents in Tehran.
"The authorities use visas to keep us on a tight leash. Push too far and you might jeopardise your status here," he said. "And sadly, it tends to be effective".
In a strongly worded message to Ayatollah Ali Khamenehi, the leader of the Islamic Republic, the Rome-based Association of Iranian Journalists Abroad vigorously protested to the decision of expelling Mr. De Luce and also urged him to order the release of all Iranian jailed journalists.
The expelling of De Luce is another example of the Islamic Republics not tolerating press freedom and its fear of the world becoming aware of the sad situation of the country, the AIJA noted.
On orders from Mr. Khamenehi, the Judiciary had arrested a dozen of journalists, editors and columnists and shut more than 100 publications.
The Paris-based Reporters Sans Frontieres has named the Iranian leader as one of the worlds most dangerous predator of press freedom
Nobel Peace Prize Winner Shirin Ebadi to Speak in Chatham, Va.
CHATHAM, Va., May 18 /PRNewswire/ -- Iranian legal and human rights activist and 2003 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Shirin Ebadi will speak May 26- 27, 2004, at Chatham Hall in Chatham, Va.
Ebadi was named Nobel Peace Prize Laureate for championing the rights of women and children in Iran and elsewhere in the world. A highlight of the Ebadi visit will be her May 26 public address at the Educational and Cultural Center in Chatham. She will also meet with students studying western civilization and world cultures at Chatham Hall.
In awarding the prize to Ebadi, the Nobel Committee said that it hoped the prize would inspire "those who struggle for human rights and democracy in her country, in the Moslem world, and in all countries where the fight for human rights needs inspiration and support."
The visit by Ebadi follows three other recent appearances at Chatham Hall by noted women in politics and culture. In February, the school hosted Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland and former United Nations high commissioner for human rights, and social activist Sherialyn Byrdsong. In March, the poet Nikki Giovanni visited the school.
"We think it's significant that Shirin Ebadi is traveling to Chatham to connect with our students in their unique learning community," said Dr. Gary Fountain, head of Chatham Hall.
Founded in 1894, Chatham Hall is an all-girls boarding school that offers students a college-preparatory academic program, rich extracurricular opportunities, a strong honor code, and a beautiful 362-acre campus. Graduates have been accepted at Princeton University, University of Virginia, Dartmouth College, Cornell University, The College of William & Mary, Vassar College and many others. Chatham Hall has the highest percentage of boarding students among peer girls schools.
PRESS ALERT: Ms. Ebadi will answer questions during a half-hour news conference prior to her May 26, 2004, public address.
The new voice of the Islamic Republic
That is Shirin Ebadi
May 20, 2004
By: Ali Ardeshir Jowza
Democracy takes time, as peoples, especially in the Middle East have to go through trials and tribulations to reach that goal. One must not expect democracy to come from abroad. These were words of Shirin Ebadi echoed in her speech at the Comcast Center at the University of Maryland on the twelfth of May (2004). Strangely enough, the last Pahlavi Shah always told the world that Iran was not yet ready for democracy and that it would take time to reach that goal, he always pointed out that one must not expect it to happen overnight. For this, he was overthrown and called a tyrant, for Ebadi, applauses and standing ovations all around.
Having analyzed Shirin's words/speeches/interviews (after she won the Nobel), and heard various viewpoints of who this woman is and what her objective and goals actually were, I had to go for myself and listen to her words live. I had my pre-conceptions, based on my own findings before, and I can say, at least based on this speech; the Islamic Republic has found their new voice piece and fact to spew their rhetoric. Like Khatami, she eloquently and poetically has mastered the ancient Iranian art of fooling the masses.
In this speech at Maryland University, she like a good diplomat put forth the IRI's objectives, and goals. She outlined, and put as the IRI loves to do, Islam on a pedestal, she blasted the United States (and Israel) on its human rights towards Iraqi's, Afghanistan, and Palestinians-while forgetting to mention that her own IRI puts all these countries to shame. She placed the United Nations on a moral high ground, arguing that this body needs more power on issues such as human rights. Finally, she tried to say that Iran is not a separate identity, but rather belongs to a greater Islamic world and culture (Cyrus the Great must be turning over on his grave as I speak).
The first section of her speech, an Iranian friend and I joked sounded like sermons given by Iran's mullahs during Friday Prayers (namaz-e Jomheh). Islam, its prophet, all could do no wrong. A one sided history of Islam was beautifully put forth, while no wrongs were pointed out. For example, she mentioned how Muhammad cared highly for women and children, forgetting to mention what the Quran says about women, or how this prophet of God and representative of that great entity on earth married and copulated with a nine-year-old girl.
If God is timeless, his prophet, no matter the time period in history, should not act and live like a normal Bedouin in Arabia would at that time-this of course is my opinion, take it as you will. In another example, she talked about how the first muezzin caller was black, and how the prophet talked about equality of all; then what about Islam and slavery? Hence, her first part was merely to the trained ear, a Friday Islamic sermon at its best. The people in the audience took to her words, because they were lost in its poetry and eloquence. If they sat back and thought for a moment to what she was saying, they might not have clapped and stood up in admiration as much as they did.
The second section of her speech was IRI foreign policy at its best. That is, to blast the United States(and Israel) on what has happened to the Iraqi's, Afghanis, and the Palestinians, yet fail to mention the IRI's human rights record. Aren't the Iranian masses just as, if not more oppressed as the Palestinians are? One moment, I will not forget, is how Ebadi blasted the United States and its treatment of Palestinians, Afghanis and Iraqis, and how the people of America must recognize and not allow their government to violate the human rights of these peoples. However, doing a great disservice to her fellow Iranians, she forgot to mention Iranians, who suffer the most human rights abuses, and who need American support the most to help them topple the IRI.
Giving the United Nations more power over human rights , was another part of Ebadi's speech. This thought is exactly what the IRI and European Union argue. Again, she failed to mention that the United Nations is all about politics; they blast Israel for human rights abuses, but Kofi Annan calls Iran a democracy? Annan's statement, probably says it all on what my take on the UN and human rights are.
Finally, and probably most disturbing to me and all Iranian nationalists is the fact that Ebadi is trying to clump Iran as part of a bigger Islamic World, a world of one Islamic culture. Iran and Iranians for the past twenty-five and one can argue for probably fourteen hundred years have been struggling to fight ever joining this 'ummah'. All those who fought for Iran, realize that we are our own civilization, an Iranian civilization as distinct from Islam as the Chinese civilization is from the French. Thankfully, Iranians that think like Shirin Ebadi on a greater Islamic civilization are few and far between.
Ebadi to me has come to represent (as this speech solidified) everything we do not need in Iran today. I think those at the MCI Convention Center will agree with me that Ebadi, with her sweet words, turned her back on all Iranians inside and out of Iran who have died, and are in jails and under torture, today and in the past, who have struggled for Iran, not Islam. To those ninety nine percent who applauded and gave her half a dozen standing ovations, that's something to think about. Is Shirin Ebadi-Mullah Ebadi??
Taheri is making good points...
IRAN-HEZBOLLAH LINK EYED
By URI DAN
May 21st 2004
The NY Post
JERUSALEM The reason for Israel's ongoing offensive at the southern tip of the Gaza Strip lies hundreds of miles to the east in Iran.
It is Tehran's deepening involvement in Palestinian terrorism directly or through Iran's Hezbollah surrogates in Lebanon that prompted this week's massive hunt for arms-smuggling tunnels at the Gaza town of Rafah.
Tons of weapons are waiting in Egypt's Sinai Desert to be shipped through the tunnels. If the contraband gets through it "would change the balance between Israel and the terrorists," said Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz.
This is not just a matter of rifles and bullets. It is Russian-made Strella shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles and Katyusha rockets and launchers.
It is the same kind of material that Iran tried to smuggle into Gaza in January, 2002, aboard the infamous smuggling ship Karin-A until Israeli commandos seized it in the Red Sea.
These are weapons that, in the hands of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, could knock Israeli planes out of the skies and reach towns inside Israel.
The high command considered the arrival of missiles and rockets on the Egyptian side of the Gaza border such an urgent matter that it ordered the massive sweep into Rafah.
Why can't the smuggling be stopped on Egypt's side of the Rafah tunnels?
Zvi Fogel, former chief of staff of Israel's southern command, told The Post that appeals to Egypt to halt the smuggling have been in vain.
"They don't care if Israel bleeds. They would like to see Israel retreating," he said.
Iran Try's To Censor Film About Clerics
According to Irans state controlled news agency IRNA, Several cinemas in Tehran have stopped screening a hit movie mocking Iran's clerics that sparked hardline criticism.
Seven out of 28 cinemas in the capital stopped screening of the film The Lizard.
"The Lizard", which follows the fortunes of a thief who escapes prison by donning the turban and robes of a Muslim cleric. He proves a crowd-pleaser as a preacher.
The film has been playing to packed houses. It sold e650,000 worth of tickets in 18 days, IRNA reported..
Nonetheless, The Lizard but has meet strong criticism by Irans clerics and Friday prayer leaders. Worshippers in the cities of Hamedan and Shiraz heard special sermons condemning the film, IRNA reported.
Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati -- head of the Guardian Council, an non-elected constitutional watchdog with sweeping powers -- recently said the film was a "bad influence and should be banned".
The film has already been banned in major Iranian cities such as Mashhad, Rasht and the seminary center of Qom.
Iran continues to be a repressive regime under the rulership of the Ayatollahs and clerics. It is a nation devoid of democracy and freedom especially Freedom of the Press and Freedom of Speech. Until Iran becomes a democratic and freedom observing nation its citizens can not experience human rights free from oppression and tyranny.
Petrol bombs thrown at UK embassy in Iran
Fri 21 May, 2004
TEHRAN (Reuters) - Demonstrators have hurled petrol bombs and stones at the British embassy in Tehran for the third time in less than a week to protest the presence of Western forces in Iraq, witnesses say.
The petrol bombs landed outside the embassy on Friday, which has become the focal point for anti-war protests in Iran in recent days, the witnesses said.
Thought you might like to join us here!
A Race Against Time'
IAEA director-general Mohamed ElBaradei discusses the threat of nuclear proliferationand how it could affect global security
By Gregory Beals
Updated: 6:18 p.m. ET May 20, 2004May 20 - Mohamed
ElBaradei believes that the regime of safeguards meant to control the proliferation of nuclear weapons is in danger, and as the director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, he is in a position to know. Everything from Irans and North Koreas nuclear program to the nuclear black-market activities of Pakistani scientist A. Q. Khan have occupied his attention and frequently made his job more difficult. The Egypt-born ElBaradei, 62, has taken a novel approach to nonproliferation. He believes that the best path to keeping countries from seeking atomic weapons is to address their underlying security concerns. Ultimately, he would like to see all nuclear materials used in the worlds commercial nuclear programs come under multinational controls. Last week, he spoke with NEWSWEEK's Gregory Beals at his offices at the United Nations about his concerns over nuclear arms proliferation, the war in Iraq and the impact it may have on security in both the Middle East and the rest of the world. Excerpts:
NEWSWEEK: Youve called for international authorities to oversee production of fissile materialshighly enriched uranium and plutonium. But given their potential to be used in nuclear weapons, why should the IAEA continue to countenance them in the first place?
Mohamed ElBaradei: We are working on a plan to clean up the use of highly enriched uranium in civilian programs. In fact, I talked to President Bush about that and he suggested that we have a comprehensive plan to clean up all highly enriched uranium in the world. On the other hand, the use of plutonium is more problematic because there is a lot of plutonium around the world. But eventually not having any plutonium or highly-enriched uranium is really the way to go.
When I talk to experts in the United States about the terrorist use of a radiological weapon, they tell me that for the most part they are surprised that it hasnt happened yet.
Its very difficult to assess the threat. What we know is that there are a lot of radioactive sources that could be used for a dirty bombhundreds of thousands around the world. Is the threat real? Of course it is real. But we cannot accept that as a fait accompli or be pessimistic. We need to do our best to prevent it if possible. It is a race against time, we know that.
It strikes me that there is a difficult balance at play here. Should we let the bad guys know what the potential uses of these materials are by talking about the dangers in public?
I dont think we gain anything by not talking about any issue. I think it is important to continue to alert people to the danger that they face. These are the dangers that we live with. We need to talk about it. We need to understand that there is always a certain degree of risk in our life.
Do you think that the U.S.-led war in Iraq has helped to create the stable kind of environment that would lead towards a nonproliferation regime there?
Iraq proved that inspections can work and will work. It shows that you can possibly resolve these issues without use of force because we have discovered that Iraq was free from weapons of mass destruction. On the larger issue it shows that you need to look into better options for assuring compliance. It is true Iraq was not the model of compliance over many years, but you need to think of other models of compliance before you resort to war.
What do you think the Iraq war says about how the U.S. views the importance of inspections?
Iraq is still under the spotlight as to what was the major reason for going to war. We know now that it was not just about inspections. But I come back to the central theme that you cannot delink proliferation from security, and security means you cannot have two worlds of the [countries that] have nuclear weapons and those that are the have-nots. That does not work. That is not sustainable. You have to deal with the insecurity of countries by trying to provide them a security system that, in case of a crisis, can intervene and provide their security. Right now the collective-security system of the United Nations is not looked at as credible. It works sometimes and it doesn't work other times. The system is an on-again-off-again system.
Is the Bush administration getting more faith in collective security?
I would hope so.
Has anyone in the Bush administration acknowledged to you that you were correct in stating that Iraq had no viable nuclear-weapons program?
I am not waiting for that. The important thing is to look to the future....
Are you surprised by the breadth of the black market utilized by Pakistani nuclear scientist A. Q. Kahn? In particular, did it surprise you that non-nuclear states were participating in that market?
What is surprising is the black market itself. That companies and individuals were involved without the knowledge, in most cases, of their own governments, that is really the worrying indication. It indicates the importance of having a good national-control system over countries and individuals, particularly countries that are into the high-tech type of engineering because they can produce the facilities that can produce fissile materials which can make a weapon.
Governments must know what is going on within their borders and to make sure that none is involved themselves in the nuclear black market. We are doing a lot of investigation now about the A. Q. Khan network which, as we know, has been all over the placeEurope, Africa, Asia, the Middle East. Components have been manufactured and designed in every part of the world. But the important thing now is to have a good national system of accounting and control over certain sensitive items that could be used in nuclear trade.
What would it take for you to judge that Iran is not pursuing nuclear weapons? Is suspension of their program enough or should it be dismantled altogether?
Having a nuclear-enrichment program does not automatically mean that you have a weapons program. It is mostly a question of intention. Our task is to make sure that everything, including the enrichment program in Iran, is not being used for military purposes. My view is that it is too close for comfort in terms of security, because if a state has plutonium or highly-enriched uranium they are very close to a weapons capability. Then it is a question of security intention. Of course, we need to be sure that the Iran program is not weaponized. But the question of the enrichment program has to be dealt with in terms of the overall regime we would like to manage for everyone.
Are you concerned that we might see an arms race in that region of the world if Iran goes nuclear?
It is not just a question of Iran. There is a good deal of frustration in this area. There is a good deal of a sense of impotence, imbalance and frustration because of the fact that Israel continues to be outside the regime. I have said that this is not sustainable and again it comes back to a question of security. The Middle East is the most prone for proliferation because of this sense of a security imbalance. You need to work on a security structure in the Middle East as you work on a peace process. Unfortunately this has not happened, the focus has always been on land for peace or what have you. But this is not really a serious discussion of security requirements that should undergird the peace process. I do not see any peace in the Middle East in the long term without having the region free of all chemical, biological and nuclear weapons.
There are so many different views on Iran. It seems as though you are right in the middle of all of this. What do you see your role in all of this?
The nuclear issue is part of a larger issue of security in the Middle East which includes Afghanistan, Iraq, this network of extremist groups that work in the region. There is a good degree of linkage between many security issues and nuclear is just one of them ... I of course have to operate aware of all of this and provide my personal advice. My ultimate objective is to resolve this issue through verification and through diplomacy, if we can. That is the best option and we have been making progress We have been securing much better cooperation from Iran and frankly, if it carries over in terms of diplomacy and verification, that would be a great success and a good precedent.
How do you know what Washington wants?
We listen to the different voices that come from Washington. I give them my views on how I see things and how we can move forward. We have to talk to as many people as possible both in Iran and Washington and other places. Our role is to make sure that they have all the facts. I couple that with my personal views on how I think they might go, but at the end of the day it is their call.
The United States, Europe and Tehran seem to be pursing different goals vis-à-vis Iran's nuclear program. How much stress has this put on the agency?
It is an issue that is taking up a lot of our attention, but we got used to that after Iraq. Our role is to do the right thing: to be impartial, be objective, and not have a hidden agenda. This whole issue is part of global security. You cannot deal with proliferation in isolation of the whole concept of collective global security. As long as countries feel insecure for whatever the reason, they will continue to try to proliferate and develop weapons of mass destruction, whether they be nuclear, chemical or biological. We should not lose sight of the big picture, which is a system of global security in which countries should not try to develop weapons of mass destruction.
We've seen discussions go on between Washington and Pyongyang a long time now. To what extent will any future inspections in North Korea be hampered by the continuing stalemate?
North Korea is one of the worst precedents that has been established in terms of nonproliferation. They have been in noncompliance for 12 years. We know that it has weapons or capability to make a weapon on short notice and it has withdrawn from the nonproliferation treaty without any reaction from the international community. It gives the impression that if you have a nuclear deterrent you are treated gently. It is going to be difficult to verify the nuclear program in North Korea, but it is not impossible. Again it requires absolutely full transparency, full cooperation, and it is going to take some time. But the more time passes the more difficult it becomes.
CIA: Chalabi Possibly Spied for Iran
May 21, 2004
BAGHDAD, Iraq -- Iraqi Governing Council member Ahmad Chalabi, once a darling of the American government, may have passed classified U.S. information to Iran, Fox News has confirmed.
U.S. troops and Iraqi police on Thursday suddenly surrounded and raided Chalabi's house and police also searched offices of his organization, the Iraqi National Congress.
CIA sources told Fox News there are reports that the INC passed information to Iran, but as far as what type of information, the sources said that isn't known for sure.
Defense officials also told Fox News there was speculation that INC members allegedly shared information with Iran and misused funds and property belonging to the Iraqi Governing Council.
CBS News reported that the U.S. has evidence Chalabi has been passing highly classified U.S. intelligence to Iran, citing senior U.S. officials.
CBS said the "rock solid" evidence was said to show that Chalabi himself gave Iranian intelligence officers information so closely guarded that if revealed it could "get Americans killed."
Coalition officials in Baghdad portrayed the raid as one in which the United States did not have a major role. Coalition spokesman Dan Senor said it was led by Iraqi authorities with support from the U.S.-run Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA).
American officials in Iraq have complained privately that Chalabi has been interfering with a U.S. investigation into allegations that Saddam Hussein's regime skimmed billions of dollars in oil revenues from the controversial United Nations-run oil-for-food program.
But Senor said that investigation has "nothing to do with what transpired today" and Chalabi and the INC were not the targets.
An Iraqi judge issued a series of search and arrest warrants relating to fraud, kidnapping and "associated matters," Senor said. Up to 15 people were named in the warrants, but Chalabi himself wasn't believed to have been on the list.
Evidence and illegal weapons were seized during the raid.
Once favored by the American government as the possible new leader of Iraq, Chalabi has also recently come under suspicion because he has been openly criticizing the United States for its plans to transfer power to the Iraqi people at the end of June.
Sources told Fox News that the raid was the result of a corruption investigation initiated by the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior.
The sources said the probe may have something to do with members of the Iraqi National Congress bribing or extorting former members of Saddam's Baath Party, perhaps demanding payments for withhold damaging information.
Senior Department of Defense officials told Fox News that early reports that U.S. troops were involved in the actual raid itself were untrue. Instead, they said, soldiers provided a security perimeter but didn't accompany Iraqi police inside the Chalabi house.
In a news conference Thursday, Chalabi blasted the coalition for raiding his house. Though he said he and his people are grateful to President Bush for ousting Saddam, he believes it's time for the Americans to leave and demanded that sovereignty be turned over to the Iraqis immediately. He blamed the coalition for coddling former members of Saddam's Baath Party and treating Iraqis badly.
"Let my people go," he said with characteristic drama. "My relationship with the CPA now is nonexistent."
He described his colleagues on the Iraqi Governing Council as "great patriots" and demanded that complete control be passed to them.
"I am America's best friend in Iraq," Chalabi said. "If the CPA finds it necessary to direct an armed attack against my home you can see the state of relations between the CPA and the Iraqi people ... This is the penultimate act of failure of the CPA in Iraq."
He said that more than five Humvees, filled with what he alleges were FBI and CIA officers and American civilians, came to the house where he and the defense minister live and forced their way in.
There was a fistfight outside, but no weapons fired, according to Chalabi. He said he was sleeping when police stormed into his room carrying guns.
"I was asleep. I opened the door. The police went into my room carrying pistols," Chalabi said. "I told them to get out."
The men made off with computers, documents, files and prayer beads, Chalabi said, and helped themselves to food and "several cases of Pepsi."
Police seized documents related to the oil-for-food program, a report by the Oil Ministry to the Governing Council and letters from the council, he said.
A U.S. official told Fox News that while the FBI and the United States Marshals Service were involved in Thursday's action, the CIA was not.
Chalabi claimed U.S. authorities here were angry with him because "I am now calling for policies to liberate the Iraqi people, to get full sovereignty now and I am pushing the gate in a way they don't like.
"I have opened up the investigation of the oil-for-food program which has cast doubt about the integrity of the U.N. here, which they don't like," he said.
In a statement, Chalabi's INC accused authorities of behaving in "a manner unbecoming in the climate of the new Iraq" and reminiscent of "the former fascist regime."
It called on the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council, of which Chalabi is a prominent member, to take "a national and responsible stand toward these provocations."
Entifadh Quanbar, an INC spokesman in Washington, D.C., told Fox News that soldiers raided Chalabi's home because he has been outspoken about the oil-for-food investigation and Iraqi sovereignty. Quanbar said the raid was a politically motivated attempt to intimidate Chalabi.
Fox News learned that Chalabi has alleged that he has files pertaining to the oil-for-food program, though it wasn't confirmed whether any of those documents were seized in Thursday's raid.
The CPA has asked Chalabi to turn over all his oil-for-food files to an official auditing body, Fox News learned.
Chalabi claims L. Paul Bremer, the top U.S. civilian administrator in Iraq, has been withholding funds he was supposed to be given to investigate the scandal-scarred program. However, CPA officials say he was never promised such funds and does not have the power to conduct such an investigation, sources told Fox News.
During Thursday's search, police sealed off Chalabi's residence in Baghdad's swanky Mansour district. Reporters were barred from approaching the scene.
Some people could be seen loading boxes into vehicles. A couple of Humvees were in sight, along with about a dozen U.S. soldiers and several armed Westerners wearing flak vests and using SUVs without license tags vehicles associated here with U.S. security.
Neighbors said some members of Chalabi's entourage were taken away in the raid.
A Chalabi aide, Haidar Musawi, accused the Americans of trying to pressure Chalabi.
"The aim is to put political pressure," Musawi told The Associated Press. "Why is this happening at a time when the government is being formed?"
Musawi said the U.S.-Iraqi force surrounded the compound at about 10:30 a.m. while Chalabi was inside. They told Chalabi's aides that they wanted to search the house for INC officials wanted by the authorities.
The aides agreed to let one unarmed Iraqi policeman inside to look around.
Abdul Kareem Abbas, an INC official, said Chalabi's entourage objected to the raid but "we couldn't because they came with U.S. troops."
"They came this morning, entered the office of Dr. Ahmad Chalabi and said that they were looking for people," said Abbas. He said they wanted to make arrests.
For years, Chalabi's INC received hundreds of thousands of dollars every month from the Pentagon, in part for intelligence passed along by exiles about Saddam's purported weapons of mass destruction.
Chalabi, long mistrusted by the CIA and the State Department, came under further criticism after major combat ended and the large stockpiles of weapons he had promised existed were never found.
Last week, the Pentagon abruptly cut off the INC's funding. U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz confirmed earlier this week, during testimony before Congress, that Washington has ended payments of $340,000 a month to Chalabi's organization for intelligence gathering.
Chalabi, a secular Shiite Arab and former banker who left Iraq for exile after a left-wing coup in 1958, was convicted of fraud in absentia in Jordan in 1992 for allegedly embezzling over $1 billion from a bank he ran and sentenced to 22 years in jail. He has repeatedly denied the charges.
The oil-for-food program, which began in December 1996 and ended in November, was designed to help Iraqis cope with U.N. sanctions.
Chalabi has complained recently about U.S. plans to retain control of Iraqi security forces and maintain widespread influence over political institutions after power is transferred from the CPA to an Iraqi interim administration.
Musawi said Chalabi "had been clear on rejecting incomplete sovereignty ... and against having the security portfolio remain in the hands of those who have proved their failure."
However, U.S. and coalition officials have recently accused him of undermining the investigation into the oil-for-food program. The U.S.-backed investigation has collected more than 20,000 files from Saddam's regime and hired American accounting firm Ernst & Young to conduct the review.
Chalabi has launched his own investigation, saying an independent probe would have more credibility. He took an early lead in exposing alleged abuses of the oil-for-food program and has been trying to force the coalition to give him the $5 million in Iraqi funds set aside for the probe to pay for his effort. The move has been strongly resisted by Bremer.
Chalabi's backers have hired a competing American accounting giant, KPMG, to do its audit, but they want Bremer's administration to pay the bill out of the Iraqi funds, mostly seized Saddam assets and Iraqi oil sales.
The United Nations is conducting its own investigation, led by former Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker.
Another source of tension could be Chalabi's calls for closer relations with Iran. Washington and Tehran have been at odds since Islamic revolutionaries ousted Iran's U.S.-backed shah in 1979 and held Americans hostage for more than a year.
Fox News' Kelly Wright, Teri Schultz, Bret Bair, Ian McCaleb, Catherine Donaldson-Evans, Andrew Hard and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Chalabi Aide Suspected
May 21, 2004
WASHINGTON -- Administration officials believe that Iraqi Governing Council member Ahmad Chalabi's intelligence chief - named in an arrest warrant issued during a raid of Chalabi's home and offices Thursday - is an Iranian spy.
Intelligence chief Aras Karim Habib, 47, is a Shia Kurd who ran a program for Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress which the Pentagon funded to gather Saddam Hussein-era documents and provide informants until it abruptly dropped its support this month. The Information Collection Program had received $340,000 a month since October 2002.
A U.S. intelligence source said that information about Karim's activities came in part from a detainee at the military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where hundreds of Taliban and al-Qaida fighters are being held.
Another source with access to sensitive intelligence and who was interviewed separately confirmed that the United States had developed information leading the government to believe that "this guy is an agent of the Iranians."
It was unclear Thursday whether the cancellation of payments to the Information Collection Program was linked to the new intelligence about Karim. Though some Pentagon officials have said that much of the intelligence provided by the program justified government funding, others complained that much of the information was suspect.
It also was unclear Thursday whether the arrest warrant for Karim was related to his alleged espionage activity. At a news conference following the raids Chalabi said that a member of his staff said that three agents "supervising" the raid had identified themselves as "from the FBI and CIA."
But an FBI official in Washington said that his agency was not involved in the Baghdad raid, and a CIA spokesman said that none of his agency's personnel were present.
Chalabi confirmed that one of the arrest warrants named Karim, but that he was not detained.
Attempts to reach Karim and INC spokesman Francis Brooke in Iraq Thursday were unavailing.
Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, a long-time ally of Chalabi, told a Senate panel this week that the Pentagon had ended its intelligence relation with the INC because the United States was "in the process of transferring sovereignty to the Iraqi people" at the end of next month. He said that the INC had provided "some very valuable intelligence."
Disclosure that Karim is believed to be an Iranian intelligence agent follows reports in Newsweek this week that the State Department and CIA were expressing concern about a "surge in recent intelligence" alleging that Chalabi and the INC had been passing sensitive intelligence to Iran.
Karim, according to a 2001 article in the respected Intelligence Newsletter, had been selected by Washington to help prepare for the overthrow of Saddam.
He is the son of the former secretary-general of the Democratic Party of Kurdistan.
Shortly after the Ayatollah Komeinei assumed power in Iran, Karim began espousing fundamentalist Shiite ideas and fled Iraq to take refuge in Iran. There he joined the Pasdaran's Ramadan Force, which carried out numerous operations inside Iraq.
According to the Intelligence Newsletter, Karim joined Massud Barzani's Democratic Party of Kurdistan when a Kurdish zone was created in 1991 and enrolled in its intelligence service. He later established ties to the CIA and the Turkish secret service.
Tom Brune contributed to this story.
France Holds Iranian in Arms Haul
May 21, 2004
French police have arrested an Iranian national after discovering a cache of arms in Marseille. Police said they found explosives, detonators, handguns and ski-masks in a cellar in the southern city.
Documents in Spanish and Arabic found in the man's flat during the police raid on Friday were in the process of being translated, they said.
Officials would not say whether they suspected a terror plot or criminal activities.
US Ambassador Refutes Reports on Possible US Attack On Iran
May 21, 2004
Reno Harnish, the US Ambassador to Azerbaijan, has dismissed reports by some Azerbaijani media on a possible US attack on Iran.
In an interview with a TV channel, Harnish stated that the US has no intention to launch a bomb strike on Iran using Azerbaijans territory.
Some Azerbaijani news agencies released reports on Tuesday and Wednesday concerning a possible use of force by the US on Iran using the territories of Azerbaijan and Georgia.
Refuting the reports Harnish added that they were based on a certain US publication.
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