Skip to comments.Iranian Alert -- June 8, 2004 [EST]-- IRAN LIVE THREAD -- "Americans for Regime Change in Iran"
Posted on 06/07/2004 9:00:58 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.
Iran: Torture Used to Suppress Dissent
June 07, 2004
Human Rights News
Human Rights Watch
"Like the Dead in Their Coffins"
Torture, Detention, and the Crushing of Dissent in Iran
June 2004 Vol. 16, No. 2(E)
The Iranian government has intensified its campaign of torture, arbitrary arrests, and detentions against political critics, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. Iran's outgoing reformist parliament in May passed legislation to prohibit torture, but without effective implementation, the law remains an empty gesture.
The 73-page report, "Like the Dead in Their Coffins: Torture, Detention, and the Crushing of Dissent in Iran," provides the first comprehensive account of the treatment of political detainees in Tehran's Evin Prison and in secret prisons around the capital since the government launched its current crackdown in 2000. Human Rights Watch has documented systematic abuses against political detainees, including arbitrary arrest, detention without trial, torture to extract confessions, prolonged solitary confinement, and physical and psychological abuse.
"Claims that reforms in Iran have put an end to torture are simply false," said Sarah Leah Whitson, executive director of Human Rights Watch's Middle East and North Africa Division. "More than ever, journalists, intellectuals and activists are afraid to voice opinions critical of the government."
The Iranian government's use of these harsh techniques has largely squelched the country's political opposition and independent media. Faced with increasing political pressure for reform in the past four years, the government has intensified its campaign against dissent. As of June, the government has closed virtually all independent newspapers, several key journalists and writers have fled the country, many prominent writers and activists have been imprisoned, and scores of student activists have been intimidated into ending their involvement in peaceful political activity.
While newspaper closures in Iran have received wide media attention, the story of the abuses that journalists, intellectuals and protestors have endured in detention has never been fully told.
The report documents the systematic use of prolonged solitary confinement as a tool to break the will of dissidents, and as a means to extract forced confessions. Individuals interviewed for the report, including a number of writers and journalists, told Human Rights Watch about brutal interrogations in which they were blindfolded, physically threatened, and forced to recant their political views. Former detainees also described basement solitary cells where they were left for weeks at a time without any human contact, and threats by judges that if they did not confess, they would be held in solitary confinement indefinitely.
Student activists told Human Rights Watch about physical torture experienced at the hands of plainclothes security and intelligence agents. The report documents cases of beatings, long confinement in contorted positions, kicking detainees with military boots, hanging detainees by the arms and legs, and threats of execution if individuals refused to confess.
The report also describes in detail the plainclothes intelligence agencies that work for the judiciary and are directly responsible for detaining and torturing those who criticize the government. These agencies often operate outside of, or parallel to, the established administrative structure of government and report directly to Iran's religious leadership. The members of these "parallel forces," whom former detainees describe as foot soldiers in the campaign against dissent, have not been held accountable for their acts.
Human Rights Watch documented the participation of judges in interrogation roomsoften in secret prisonsoverseeing abusive and coercive interrogations, interceding with detainees and urging them to sign false confessions, and even issuing threats of their own. A number of judicial authorities, especially Chief Prosecutor Said Mortazavi, have blatantly abandoned their duty to fairly administer justice and instead are known for ordering the torture of political detainees.
A number of former detainees reported that they were treated more harshly after requesting the aid of defense counsel, or inquiring as to the legal status of their cases.
The report called on the European Union to increase pressure on Iran to take strong steps to end torture and ill-treatment in detention and restore freedom of expression. The ongoing EU-Iran human rights dialogue will have its next meeting in Tehran on June 14 and 15. The dialogue, entering its third year, has failed to achieve any tangible results. In fact, the human rights situation in Iran has markedly deteriorated since the inception of the dialogue.
"The European Union's weak response to continuing human rights violations in Iran is deeply disturbing," said Whitson, "It's time for the European Union to condemn Iran's record of persecution and torture and to set real benchmarks that the government must meet."
Human Rights Watch called on the Iranian government to release all political prisoners and effectively prohibit torture immediately.
The current crackdown began in April 2000 after Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei gave a speech targeting the independent press for being a "stronghold for the enemy." In 2002 and 2003, the Iranian government turned the focus of its repression on political activists. It responded to a series of student protests across Iran with several thousand arrests. The government's campaign of repression fed on itself: as more and more newspapers were closed down, there were fewer and fewer avenues to publicize abuses by the government. The rapid decline in publicly available information about the government's practices gave Iranian authorities an even freer hand to engage in abuse, and the government took full advantage of the lack of scrutiny.
Testimonies from "Like the Dead in Their Coffins"
Hossein T., an Iranian university student and activist
Twice they took me to the courtyard in Evin, where the executions are carried out. They tied my feet. They took off my blindfold. One man was saying: "Tell me why you lied. Tell me what you did." They hung me from my feet, and they put a bag over my head. For what I think was 30 minutes, they were kicking me and hitting me. They hit my chin, and the skin broke. Blood began to fill the bag that was tied over my head. Blood began to drip on the floor, and this is when they stopped.
The second time they took me in there, they hung me from my hands. They used a baton to beat my torso. They broke my hand, and I fell unconscious. When I regained consciousness, they said, "If you say you lied, we will stop." I could not speak. It is not because I am brave that I did not confess, it is because I couldn't talk.
Massoud B., an Iranian journalist and writer
In the first few hours, it is very hard. You have never been this close to walls in your life. You don't want to sit, because it is chalk, and you are not used to sitting on chalk. You stand. You pace. You start to get dizzy. After you get dizzy, you lean on a wall. After three or four hours, your legs get tired, and you sit. And then you scream and no one hears you.
And you feel like they are holding you, like they are physically holding on to you. Your hair and nails grow faster. A lot of prisoners say that solitary is like being like "the dead in their coffins" because we had heard that the dead's nails grow in their coffins. Even if they had given me something to read, they had taken my glasses. Even if I had had my glasses, there wasn't enough light.
In Brussels, Jean-Paul Marthoz: +32-2-732-2009
In London, Urmi Shah: +44-20-7713-2788
In Washington D.C., Joe Stork: +1-202-612-4327
To the Office of the Leader
On Unlawful Arrest and Detention
On Torture and Ill-Treatment
On Administration of Justice
To the Guardian Council
To the European Union
To the Special Rapporteur on Torture and Cruel and Inhuman Punishment
Arbitrary Arrest and Detention
Detention Centers and Ill-Treatment
Parallel Forces and Illegal Detention Centers
White Torture: The Use of Solitary
Encounters with the Judiciary
Denial of right to counsel and right to prepare a defense
Denial of the Right to Appeal
The Independent Press and the Prisoners
The Article 90 Commission
A Bleak Future
Iran's Sex Slaves Suffer Hideously Under Mullahs
Posted June 8, 2004
By Donna M. Hughes
A measure of Islamic fundamentalists' success in controlling society is the depth and totality with which they suppress the freedom and rights of women. In Iran for 25 years, the ruling mullahs have enforced humiliating and sadistic rules and punishments on women and girls, enslaving them in a gender apartheid system of segregation, forced veiling, second-class status, lashing and stoning to death.
Joining a global trend, the fundamentalists have added another way to dehumanize women and girls: buying and selling them for prostitution. Exact numbers of victims are impossible to obtain, but according to an official source in Tehran, there has been a 635 percent increase in the number of teen-age girls in prostitution. The magnitude of this statistic conveys how rapidly this form of abuse has grown. In Tehran, there are an estimated 84,000 women and girls in prostitution, many of them are on the streets, others are in the 250 brothels that reportedly operate in the city. The trade is also international: Thousands of Iranian women and girls have been sold into sexual slavery abroad.
The head of Iran's Interpol bureau believes that the sex-slave trade is one of the most profitable activities in Iran today. This criminal trade is not conducted outside the knowledge and participation of the ruling fundamentalists. Government officials themselves are involved in buying, selling and sexually abusing women and girls.
Many of the girls come from impoverished rural areas. Drug addiction is epidemic throughout Iran, and some addicted parents sell their children to support their habits. High unemployment -- 28 percent for youth 15 to 29 years of age, and 43 percent for women 15 to 20 years of age -- is a serious factor in driving restless youth to accept risky offers for work. Slave traders take advantage of any opportunity in which women and children are vulnerable. For example, following the recent earthquake in Bam, orphaned girls have been kidnapped and taken to a known slave market in Tehran where Iranian and foreign traders meet.
Popular destinations for victims of the slave trade are the Arab countries in the Persian Gulf. According to the head of the Tehran province judiciary, traffickers target girls between 13 and 17, although there are reports of some girls as young as 8 and 10, to send to Arab countries. One ring was discovered after an 18-year-old girl escaped from a basement where a group of girls were held before being sent to Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates. The number of Iranian women and girls who are deported from Persian Gulf countries indicates the magnitude of the trade. Upon their return to Iran, the Islamic fundamentalists blame the victims, and often physically punish and imprison them. The women are examined to determine if they have engaged in "immoral activity." Based on the findings, officials can ban them from leaving the country again.
Police have uncovered a number of prostitution and slavery rings operating from Tehran that have sold girls to France, Britain and Turkey as well. One network based in Turkey bought smuggled Iranian women and girls, gave them fake passports, and transported them to European and Persian Gulf countries. In one case, a 16-year-old girl was smuggled to Turkey, and then sold to a 58-year-old European national for $20,000.
In the northeastern Iranian province of Khorasan, local police report that girls are being sold to Pakistani men as sex slaves. The Pakistani men marry the girls, ranging in age from 12 to 20, and then sell them to brothels called "Kharabat" in Pakistan. One network was caught contacting poor families around Mashad and offering to marry girls. The girls were then taken through Afghanistan to Pakistan where they were sold to brothels.
In the southeastern border province of Sistan Baluchestan, thousands of Iranian girls reportedly have been sold to Afghan men. Their final destinations are unknown.
One factor contributing to the increase in prostitution and the sex-slave trade is the number of teen girls who are running away from home. The girls are rebelling against fundamentalist-imposed restrictions on their freedom, domestic abuse and parental drug addictions. Unfortunately, in their flight to freedom, the girls find more abuse and exploitation. Ninety percent of girls who run away from home will end up in prostitution. As a result of runaways, in Tehran alone there are an estimated 25,000 street children, most of them girls. Pimps prey upon street children, runaways and vulnerable high-school girls in city parks. In one case, a woman was discovered selling Iranian girls to men in Persian Gulf countries; for four years, she had hunted down runaway girls and sold them. She even sold her own daughter for $11,000.
Given the totalitarian rule in Iran, most organized activities are known to the authorities. The exposure of sex-slave networks in Iran has shown that many mullahs and officials are involved in the sexual exploitation and trade of women and girls. Women report that in order to have a judge approve a divorce they have to have sex with him. Women who are arrested for prostitution say they must have sex with the arresting officer. There are reports of police locating young women for sex for the wealthy and powerful mullahs.
In cities, shelters have been set up to provide assistance for runaways. Officials who run these shelters are often corrupt; they run prostitution rings using the girls from the shelter. For example in Karaj, the former head of a Revolutionary Tribunal and seven other senior officials were arrested in connection with a prostitution ring that used 12- to 18-year-old girls from a shelter called the Center of Islamic Orientation.
Other instances of corruption abound. There was a judge in Karaj who was involved in a network that identified young girls to be sold abroad. And in Qom, the center for religious training in Iran, when a prostitution ring was broken up, some of the people arrested were from government agencies, including the Department of Justice.
The ruling fundamentalists have differing opinions on their official position on the sex trade: deny and hide it or recognize and accommodate it. In 2002, a BBC journalist was deported for taking photographs of prostitutes. Officials told her: "We are deporting you ... because you have taken pictures of prostitutes. This is not a true reflection of life in our Islamic Republic. We don't have prostitutes." Yet, earlier the same year, officials of the Social Department of the Interior Ministry suggested legalizing prostitution as a way to manage it and control the spread of HIV. They proposed setting up brothels, called "morality houses," and using the traditional religious custom of temporary marriage, in which a couple can marry for a short period of time, even an hour, to facilitate prostitution. Islamic fundamentalists' ideology and practices are adaptable when it comes to controlling and using women.
Some may think a thriving sex trade in a theocracy with clerics acting as pimps is a contradiction in a country founded and ruled by Islamic fundamentalists. In fact, this is not a contradiction. First, exploitation and repression of women are closely associated. Both exist where women, individually or collectively, are denied freedom and rights. Second, the Islamic fundamentalists in Iran are not simply conservative Muslims. Islamic fundamentalism is a political movement with a political ideology that considers women inherently inferior in intellectual and moral capacity. Fundamentalists hate women's minds and bodies. Selling women and girls for prostitution is just the dehumanizing complement to forcing women and girls to cover their bodies and hair with the veil.
In a religious dictatorship like Iran, one cannot appeal to the rule of law for justice for women and girls. Women and girls have no guarantees of freedom and rights, and no expectation of respect or dignity from the Islamic fundamentalists. Only the end of the Iranian regime will free women and girls from all the forms of slavery they suffer.
Dr. Donna M. Hughes is a professor and holds the Carlson Endowed Chair in Women's Studies at the University of Rhode Island. She wishes to acknowledge the Iranian human-rights and pro-democracy activists who contributed information for this article. If readers have information on prostitution and the sex-slave trade in Iran, contact Hughes at email@example.com. Read more at: www.uri.edu/artsci/wms/hughes/.
Defeating Global Jihad: Reagan Showed the Way
By Robert Spencer
FrontPageMagazine.com | June 7, 2004
Mark Steyn reminds us that only Reagan could have stood there and declared without embarrassment: Tear down this wall! In the warm glow of this weeks encomia its easy to miss the reason why anyone might have felt embarrassed at all. With the dreaded wall long made into paperweights, its easy to forget that before (and during, largely) the age of Reagan, the idea that Communism was evil, and the Soviet Union an evil empire, was, among the intelligentsia in America and Western Europe, in the worst possible taste.
It should be remembered today that the vicious caricature of the amiable dunce that dogged Reagan throughout his political career originated in great part not from any bumbling or forgetfulness on his part, but from what the media and political establishment regarded as the sheer outrageousness of his political views. In the eyes of the elite, Reagan was primitive and limited primarily because he lacked the sophistication and intelligence necessary to see that the United States and the Soviet Union were essentially the same; talk of good and evil, or of the rights of man, was only rhetorical fodder for the lumpenproletariat, nothing more. No one, the pundits huffed, with even a rudimentary grasp of the subtleties and necessities of realpolitik would dare use such moral language to describe the Cold War. How dare he depart from the gospel of moral equivalence that the media establishment had dinned into the ears of the reluctant faithful for decades? You just couldnt say the things that Ronald Reagan said, and his success so stunned and enraged his opponents that all they could do was try to smear him as a puppet and a fool.
The same scenario is playing out today. America is once again locked in a death struggle with a relentless totalitarian foe about which most people are reluctant to tell the truth. Substitute Islamophobe for Red-baiter, and you can adapt learned political analyses from the 1970s by the ton for use today.
Except for a few small details. It is a great failing of our age that there is no Ronald Reagan on the scene. Todays stifling orthodoxy remains largely unchallenged. Not just liberal publications and spokesmen, but conservatives who claim to wear Reagans mantle temporize and dissimulate about our current despotic antagonist in a way that the man himself would have found contemptible. Leaders and pundits must cling to fond fictions about Islam being a religion of peace that has been hijacked by a tiny minority of extremists. They thus pass up the opportunity to call for a worldwide reform of Islam that starts by identifying the elements of Islam that give rise to violence and extremism and finishes by repudiating those elements, so that Muslims and non-Muslims can live in peace as equals.
How do you tell a Communist? Reagan asked in 1987. Well, its someone who reads Marx and Lenin. And how do you tell an anti-Communist? Its someone who understands Marx and Lenin. How do you tell a jihadist? Well, a contemporary Reagan might say, its someone who reads the Quran and Sunnah. How do you tell an anti-jihadist? Its someone who understands how these Islamic texts are used to recruit and motivate terrorists and who is willing to call upon self-proclaimed moderate Muslims to face this fact and initiate an honest, definitive and thoroughgoing reform. And if they will not? Then at least they should know that the lines have been drawn, and that the lovers of freedom are not going to stand for more mayhem wrought by those who would enclose non-Muslims and women behind a wall of oppression.
If Islam is no part of the problem, such reform cannot be part of the solution. By vilifying and attempting to marginalize those who dare tell the truth about Islamic radicalism as Reagan did about Communism, todays intelligentsia provides ample cover to radical Islamic terrorists, allowing them to operate under the radar screen of media scrutiny and even law enforcement.
Freedom is under attack by the warriors of jihad; the battle lines do indeed resemble those of the Cold War. There are very useful analogies to be drawn between communism and Islam, says Ibn Warraq. Communism has been defeated, at least for the moment; Islamism has not, and unless a reformed, tolerant, liberal kind of Islam emerges soon, perhaps the final battle will be between Islam and Western democracy.
This is the war were in now. If only we had a Reagan to fight it.
Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and the author of Onward Muslim Soldiers: How Jihad Still Threatens America and the West (Regnery Publishing), and Islam Unveiled: Disturbing Questions About the Worlds Fastest Growing Faith (Encounter Books).
Reagan critics decry glowing tributes
By Steve Miller
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
June 8th 2004
Much of the world remembers Ronald Reagan as a friend and a historic president, but some writers and activists are vilifying the late president.
Hollywood actor Danny Glover said Mr. Reagan would be remembered most for the Iran-Contra scandal, in which he approved the sales of weapons to Iran and funneled proceeds to guerrillas in Nicaragua.
"We all know Reagan's legacy, from the Iran-Contra affair to the funding of the Nicaraguan military, in which over 200,000 people died," Mr. Glover said at a Sunday rally in Los Angeles to protest U.S. involvement in Iraq. "The groundwork for the move steadily to the right happened with the Reagan administration. People want to elevate him to some mythic level. They have their own reason for doing that."
Christopher Hitchens, in a column for the online journal Slate (www.slate.com), said Mr. Reagan was "dumb as a stump" and "a cruel and stupid lizard."
Liberal author Greg Palast begins a column on his Web site (www.gregpalast.com) with, "You're not going to like this. You shouldn't speak ill of the dead. But in this case, someone's got to."
Mr. Palast blamed Mr. Reagan for the 1983 terrorist bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Lebanon. "Killer, coward, conman. Ronald Reagan, good-bye and good riddance," the column ends.
On his Web site (www.rall.com), cartoonist Ted Rall said of Mr. Reagan: "I'm sure he's turning crispy brown right about now."
"A real piece of work, Reagan ruined the federal budget, trashed education, alienated our friends and allies and made us a laughing stock around the world," wrote Mr. Rall, author of "Wake Up, You're Liberal: How We Can Take America Back From the Right."
In a column on the Web site of Black Entertainment Television (www.bet.com), Joe Davidson praised Mr. Reagan for signing the legislation for Martin Luther King Day and said "he liked horses."
But the columnist called Mr. Reagan's two terms "a long and dreary night for African Americans" and said Mr. Reagan "supported racism with remarks like those that characterized poor, black women as 'welfare queens' " and "appointed conservative judges, like Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who continue to issue rulings to the detriment of African Americans."
In a column yesterday, Editor and Publisher senior editor Joe Strupp scolded newspapers for treating Mr. Reagan softly in their remembrances.
"The overwhelming praise for a president who plunged the nation into its worst deficit ever, ignored and cut public money for the poor while also ignoring the AIDS crisis, is a bit tough to take," he wrote.
Activists for homosexuals also criticized Mr. Reagan, whom they blamed for being slow to respond to the AIDS epidemic.
"Ronnie will spend eternity in hell for his treachery," wrote Robert Kunst, a Florida-based activist.
"Reagan was one of the most despicable presidents," wrote Mr. Kunst, adding that Mr. Reagan was "responsible for 500,000 American AIDS deaths and 10 million worldwide, while he catered to the right wing in this country, and then also disgraced America by going to Bitburg, Germany, in August 1985, to honor the SS. Nazis murderers buried there."
Iran, IAEA Still Far Apart on Nuclear Program
Arms Control Today
outstanding issues between them so that a final solution can be reached at the meeting.
But IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei, who is preparing a final report for the board on whether Iran has followed through on its safeguards agreement with the agency, told CNN May 16 that the jury is still out on whether Irans nuclear programs are exclusively for peaceful purposes and that Iran should be more forthcoming in cooperating with the IAEAs ongoing investigation. (See ACT, May 2004.)
Under the joint action plan reached between Iran and the IAEA, Iran pledged to provide the agency with detailed information about its gas centrifuge-based uranium-enrichment program by the end of April and to deliver by mid-May a declaration required by the additional protocol to its IAEA safeguards agreement. Tehran has submitted the former but not the latter, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hamid-Reza Assefi told reporters May 16.
Safeguards agreements authorize the IAEA to verify that states-parties to the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) are not diverting civilian nuclear activities to military purposes. The additional protocol requires Iran to provide significantly more information about its nuclear activities to the IAEA than its original safeguards agreement and provides the agency with more authority to verify the declaration. Iran has signed the agreement and has pledged to act as if it were in force until it is approved by the Majlis, Irans parliament. (See ACT, January/February 2004.)
The April pledge was Irans most recent promise to cooperate with the IAEA, which has been investigating allegations made public in August 2002 that Iran was pursuing clandestine nuclear activities. The IAEA board has adopted several resolutions urging Iran to cooperate, most recently in March, and is still seeking Irans full cooperation in providing information about its nuclear programs.
As part of an October agreement with the United Kingdom, Germany, and France, Iran agreed to suspend activities related to its uranium-enrichment programs. Tehran announced that it had completed the suspension in April. Tehran also agreed in October to conclude an additional protocol and cooperate with the agencys investigation.
Irans centrifuge programs have caused the most concern. Gas centrifuges have civilian uses, but can also produce highly enriched uranium for use in nuclear weapons.
After the board condemned Iran for violating its safeguards agreement by secretly testing centrifuges with nuclear material, agency inspectors found additional evidence suggesting that Iran has undertaken other undisclosed enrichment activities and conducted work on a more advanced type of centrifuge. (See ACT, March 2004.)
ElBaradei said in a May 14 speech at the Council on Foreign Relations that the agency does not yet have proof that Iran has enriched uranium to the military level.
Assistant Secretary of State John Wolf told Arms Control Today May 13 that Iran is still moving in the direction of a nuclear weapons capability and that the United States has good reason to believe Iran is not complying with its additional protocol (see page 14). Wolf did not elaborate, except to say that this belief is not based on intelligence information.
Further complicating the matter, ElBaradeis report may not provide a complete picture of Irans nuclear activities because test results from samples taken from some inspected facilities may not be available in time for the report. Department of State officials have blamed the delay on Irans March decision to postpone a visit by IAEA inspectors. (See ACT, April 2004.)
Washington is still mulling over its strategy for the IAEA board meeting. A State Department official interviewed May 17 stated that the United States will probably want the board to adopt a resolution condemning Irans behavior. The U.S. position on the content of such a resolution will depend on the detail and tone of ElBaradeis report, which will be influential in shaping the views of other board members, the State Department official said.
The United States has previously said the board should declare Iran in noncompliance with its safeguards agreementa finding that requires the board to refer the matter to the UN Security Council. The United States has failed once to persuade the board to declare Iran in noncompliance.
Washington may instead encourage the IAEA board to say it cannot verify Irans suspension of its centrifuge program because of the countrys demonstrated ability to manufacture relevant components at various locations throughout the country, a State Department official said last month.
Wolf did not say what the United States wants the Security Council to do in the event Iran is referred for noncompliance, nor would he comment on a possible U.S. response in the event that the Security Council fails to act.
TEHRAN (AFP) - The millions of residents of the Iranian capital, all housed on top of a string of seismic faultlines, had up until recently taken their geophysical predicament with a mixture of apathy and sheer ignorance.
But since an earthquake measuring up to 6.1 on the Richter scale jolted the mountains to the north of the shoddy, sprawling city, fears of a looming catastrophe of biblical proportions have set in.
The May 28 earthquake, which measured between 5.5 and 6.1 on the Richter scale, killed 35 people and injured more than 200 in two provinces crossed by the vast Alborz mountain range.
But alarmingly, the quake also shook Tehran. For several seconds, walls vibrated as if a heavy truck was speeding past right outside the door, cracks appeared in the plaster and windows were shattered.
Residents were sent running out onto the streets, with those living in high-rise blocks realising the evacuation took quite long without using an elevator. Thousands chose to spend the night outdoors.
The following day, newspapers carried images of cars crushed by rocks on the main mountain road to the Caspian Sea coast, a popular destination for Tehranis.
With memories of the mass death and destruction of the December earthquake in Bam still fresh, it appears -- for the time being at least -- that the very real dangers of a quake in Tehran have been brought home.
But with fear has come rumour.
With aftershocks still rumbling, news that a quake would hit Tehran on Friday, May 29 at precisely 4:00 pm spread like wildfire. The source of the rumour was supposedly state media, and prompted yet more evacuations.
The truth, however, is hard to bear for many.
"It is impossible to predict the power and timing of an earthquake," insisted Mohsen Ghafori Ashtiani, president of Iran's Seismological Institute.
"These rumours are completely false," added Mahmoud Fatemi Aghda, director of the Natural Disasters Institute. "Since March, the faults under Tehran have not moved."
While last Friday's catastrophe never happened, and even though the experts have been on the air waves urging calm, the rumours keep doing the rounds.
Yet another quake was supposed to come on Wednesday, June 2, with the prediction falsely attributed to a professor, Mohammad Reza Rahimi Tabar, at Sharif university -- one of the capital's most prestigious learning institutions.
Despite yet more denials that the faultlines under Tehran had been "activated" by a tremor in a province to the east, hundreds of students there chose to spend a night under the stars rather than risk being crushed by collapsing dormitories.
The local press has also latched onto the website (http://quake.exit.com) of Zhonghao Shou, a Chinese scientist living in California, who claims he can predict earthquakes by cloud formations apparently caused by the heat given off by strained seismic faults.
As a result, the clouds above the capital are beginning to interest people.
One local press agency then reassured people by claiming there would not be another earthquake within three days. And the pundits are now expecting the worst to come on Tuesday, June 8.
Some people are latching onto the rather alarming statistic that a quake can be expected in Tehran every 150 years.
The last one, residents have noted with trepidation, occurred 170 years ago. This makes it all a question of "when", and not "if".
For when the big one does come, Tehran's residents can be assured of a total catastrophe. According to various studies, notably by Japanese experts, a quake measuring over 6 degrees on the Richter scale could kill more than one million of greater Tehran's 12 million people.
"Since one week, our car is full of water, blankets, biscuits and canned food," explained Ahmad, a young resident here.
But aside from making the obvious preparations, the fear also appears to have sparked some deeper soul-searching, and a new look at a capital marred by anarchic building practices where developers have placed scores of high-rise apartment blocks -- mostly cobbled together by cheap Afghan labour -- on top of seismic faults.
"People are afraid," admitted one local property agent. "They are not buying apartments. The market was stagnating a bit before, but now it's worse."
TEHRAN (AFP) - European fans of the Iranian pistachio will be able to continue savouring their nibbles for several more months, during which the Islamic republic must ease EU fears over health risks.
Iran's pistachio industry had been in turmoil, with its product close to being slapped with a ban in the the European Union.
The head of Tehran's Chamber of Commerce (news - web sites), Mohammad Reza Behzadian, said that in April Brussels gave Iran 40 days to cut aflatoxin levels in the greenish-red split shell nuts.
Aflatoxin is a substance found in mold and has been linked to cancer in the liver and kidneys. Along with nuclear proliferation, human rights abuses and terrorism, the topic has ranked among the top issues being discussed with the European bloc.
The fear of a ban prompted fresh talks in late May, where Iran reportedly earned a reprieve.
"Iran has committed itself to reduce contamination," explained Behrouz Qaybi, the head of the pistachio unit at the Iranian agriculture ministry.
Iranian sources said the EU has now given Iran six more months to reduce from 16 to 10 percent the quantity of consignments rejected by the EU, which currently tests all imports.
In return, the EU has promised technical expertise in the production chain, especially in the handling process where mold can develop. The ultimate aim is to end the present checks on all shipments and replace them with random testing.
"The EU is closely watching Iran's performance and will let us know later how they see the situation," said one official from Iran's Nut Exporters Union.
The EU applies the some of the strictest regulations in the world on acceptable aflatoxin levels -- four parts per billion as opposed to 10-15 ppb in most other importers -- which Iran complains is unfair.
In 1997, the EU suspended imports for three months after detecting contamination 200 times above the norm.
Iran is the world's number one pistachio producer, claiming to hold 50 percent of the market. Pistachios, along with carpets, caviar and saffron, are a source of national pride and a top non-oil export.
An EU ban would not be a fatal blow, given that only around 16 percent of Iranian production goes to the EU.
However, the fact that a small but sizable percentage of these exports are being rejected means that shipping costs are increased and the nuts are being sold on to third countries at half price, Nut Exporters Union head Mohammad Hassan Shamsfard said.
An export increase last year saw the salty nuts overtake the carpet industry -- a sector that has hit the doldrums amid tougher competition -- as the number-one non-oil export.
With competition from the United States also increasing, the label of cancer risk could deal a major image blow, placing at risk the current 803 million dollars in annual revenue.
"When a consignment is rejected, we have to pay the client back, and the client will then look for another supplier," said Hossein Niku, director of the Amin Padidar pistachio company.
And exporters are also complaining that political concerns are beginning to hit the pistachio trade.
"One diplomat told me that Iran would be better off to start looking at the nuclear problem," one exporter said.
That is scary!
I am sorry for the people of Tehran and mad at their government which doesn't care about the people.
Is this delicious?
Free Iran bump
LoL...I like your tag line.
The sky is falling......
There's a lot of bad people in pistachios, so I can't say I'd be sorry to see them lose their shirts. But I know it would affect the economy there, so I have mixed feelings.
Have you by any chance heard of the book "Strange birds from Zoroaster's nest"?
Another reason why I love FR - the Recipes!
RSF Urges the European Union to Reconsider its "Constructive Dialogue" with Iran
June 08, 2004
Reporters Without Borders
Reporters Without Borders has called for the release of Reza Alijani, editor of the monthly Iran-e-Farda, and laureate of the Reporters Without Borders-Fondation de France 2001 press freedom award. He has been detained since 14 June 2003, together with Hoda Saber, one of the bosses of Iran-e-Farda and Taghi Rahmani, of the weekly Omid-e-Zangan. The case is murky in the extreme.
Alijani is currently the only Reporters Without Borders laureate who remains behind bars. Initially held in solitary confinement and then in the special wing of Evin Jail, he will shortly mark his first year of unfair imprisonment, along with Saber and Rahmani.
"Despite statements of good intentions by head of the judiciary, Mahmud Hashemi Shahrudi, who announced steps to improve respect for the law in Iran, the jailing of Alijani illustrates how far the Islamic Republic is from complying with minimum human rights standards," said Reporters Without Borders.
"As the European Union opens its fourth year of 'constructive dialogue' with Tehran on this question on the 14-15 June, we insist on pointing out that press freedom has only worsened. It is time for the European Union to draw the obvious conclusion and to strongly condemn this regime," Reporters Without Borders said.
Alijani was sentenced at the end of a closed-doors trial on 10 May 2003, to six years in prison and ten years loss of civil rights, Rahmani to 11 years in prison and ten years of loss of civil rights and Saber to ten years in prison and ten years loss of civil rights. The three journalists were all sentenced in connection with their work. They each posted substantial bail to remain at liberty while awaiting the outcome of an appeal, as allowed under law.
On 14 June 2003, the three men were arrested without explanation on the order of the Tehran prosecutor Said Mortazavi.
Golamhossein Elham, spokesman for the judiciary, confirmed on 15 October that the three journalists were serving their prison sentences, but he gave no reasons for their imprisonment, nor the date or place of their trial.
Until 30 October they were all kept in solitary confinement. Then they shared the same cell. Their lawyers have not had access to their files and their families have been denied regular visits.
On 1st May 2004, Alijani found out that their appeal had been heard. The following day the three journalists' lawyers told a press conference, "We have received no information about the sentences. We still do not have access to our clients' files."
On 7 June, the lawyers had still not received any documents relating to the trial or any official explanation for the imprisonment of the three men.
Reza Alijani, biographical details :
Alijani joined Iran-e-Farda in 1992 and later took over as editor. Under his leadership, the monthly became a magazine of reference for reformists and was highly popular with students. Alijani was frequently summoned before revolutionary courts over his articles in support of press freedom. Having already been tortured and detained in the 1980s for his involvement with an underground publication, Alijani was already known to the Iranian authorities.
In January 1999, he received death threats from a fundamentalist organisation that had admitted responsibility for murders of intellectuals in 1998. Alijani refused to be silenced. In an interview with the daily Arya, he referred, for the first time in Iran, to the 1988 murders by the authorities of thousands of prisoners. On 24 February 2001, ten months after the banning of Iran-e-Farda, the journalist was arrested by agents of the security forces and held for 200 days in a single cell before being put in with two other journalists Hoda Saber and Taghi Rahmani. He was released on bail on 16 December 2001. His trial was held on 10 May 2003. He was initially released on bail then imprisoned again on 14 June 2003. Aged 42, Alijani is father of two children.
With 13 journalists behind bars, Iran is the Middle East's biggest prison for journalists.
Author Finds That With Fame Comes Image Management
June 08, 2004
The New York Times
In one whirlwind year, Azar Nafisi has found herself drawn further and further into the maddening, seductive fold of American success. She has gone from unknown academic émigré to literary celebrity with the startling commercial success of "Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books," about life and literature under the Islamic government in Iran.
Pushed by world events that have made Muslim women interesting to American book club readers, the book is now in its 21st week on the paperback best-seller list of The New York Times.
The stars seem aligned in her favor. So why has this Iranian professor and author been brooding as much as celebrating? "We all know how dangerous it is for a dream to come true," Ms. Nafisi said in an interview. "It is so amazing in America because you say, `I want this' and they say, `Come and get it.' " Now, she wonders, "How much time do you have to spend creating or not creating an image?"
Ms. Nafisi, 54, is learning the pitfalls and conundrums of playing the fame game in her adopted country as she contends with her corporate handlers, her book club fans and jealous former countrymen. "I thought I can live with the snide remarks: `Look at her wanting to become a celebrity, yada yada,' " she said. "That is not pleasant, but you can live with it. But one thing I can't live with, which I would criticize, is to be in competition with my book. A writer should allow the work to speak for itself."
Still, when Random House, her publisher, encouraged her to take part in a marketing campaign for Audi, sponsored by Condé Nast, she agreed. After all, in exchange for her participation, for which she was not paid, Audi is sponsoring literary events in five cities. "This seemed a good chance to talk about the causes I like to a wider audience," Ms. Nafisi said.
To promote Audi, a picture of Ms. Nafisi, suspended in air in front of a shelf of books, appeared last month in several publications owned by Advance Magazine Group, Condé Nast's parent, including Vanity Fair, Wired, Golf Digest, The New Yorker and Vogue.
She is joined by David Bowie (Audi is sponsoring his latest tour), the actor William H. Macy and the teenage soccer star Freddy Adu, all part of Audi of America's "Never Follow" campaign to promote the brand to affluent and educated potential buyers. "We want to make Audi distinct from BMW or Mercedes by associating it with these people," explained Rod Brown, management supervisor for the Audi of America account at McKinney & Silver, the North Carolina advertising company that dreamed this up with Condé Nast for Audi. Last year's "Never Follow" honorees included John Malkovich, K. D. Lang and Daniel Libeskind.
"We wanted people who weren't just famous or rich but who are doing something really cool," Mr. Brown said. He had an immediate response when Ms. Nafisi's name was mentioned by a Condé Nast publicist who used to work at Random House. "A light bulb went off," he said. "Azar is to literature what Audi is to cars."
The analogy might be strange to Ms. Nafisi, who does not drive. And the strangeness of her new life struck her in full force at the Manhattan party introducing this year's "Never Follow" campaign. For certain New Yorkers it was a familiar scene: mountains of hors d'oeuvres, opulent flowers, open bar, the paparazzi outside, the sleek men and women admitted to indulge and to gawk. The guests included celebrities like Brad Pitt and Edie Falco. For Ms. Nafisi this was new. "What does any of this have to do with my book?" she asked more than once.
Not even a few gulps of Champagne loosened Ms. Nafisi's restraint, even as she stood less than 10 feet from Mr. Bowie as he serenaded about 500 undulating partygoers. "While I was going through the motions, I was analyzing myself, analyzing David Bowie, looking at the crowd, wondering what they were thinking," she said. But, she said: "To be a writer you want as much experience as possible. And I liked David Bowie. There is an inner elegance. Another rock star I would not have wanted to be associated with."
No one expected any of this from a book that requires readers to undertake a serious examination of the relationship between literary text and life. "I've worked on books that have taken off beyond expectation but never on this level and never this kind of book," said Libby McGuire, Random House's senior vice president for marketing. "This is not an easy book. I wasn't surprised that something like `The Secret Life of Bees' took off. You can give that book to anyone from 15 years old to 80 years old. This is so different from that."
Ms. Nafisi had been overwhelmed with pessimism about her book's prospects. "I would call my editor day and night," she recalled. "I told her: `This book will not sell a copy. It is hopeless.' "
Random House acquired the book in 1999, when it was still an idea, for a $30,000 advance. "We felt there was definitely a message about books we thought would appeal to booksellers, and if they read it you have a better chance of them recommending it to someone," Ms. McGuire said. "That was our hope, our wish." In 2002 the company announced a first printing of 25,000 copies, intending, Ms. McGuire said, to print 12,000.
But Sept. 11 had changed the subject's appeal and its potential audience. The sales force obtained orders from bookstores for more than 20,000 copies before publication. The announced first printing was increased to 50,000 copies. Meanwhile the buildup to war in Iraq increased Ms. Nafisi's public recognition. As a visiting professor at the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University, and with her intelligence wrapped in an appealing package of warmth and forthrightness, she had become a popular commentator. Her persona, along with enthusiastic reviews, helped sell 95,000 copies of her book in hardcover.
Using standard prediction for nonfiction titles, Random House expected paperback sales to be similar to hardcover or maybe a bit more, Ms. McGuire said. Random House promoted the book in its online newsletter, which goes to 5,000 reading clubs, and offered to have Ms. Nafisi call and discuss the book while they were meeting. The book made its paperback debut on The Times's best-seller list in January, quickly moved to No. 1 and has sold 484,000 copies. The company has also sold rights in 22 countries.
Ms. Nafisi has been traveling and speaking extensively for more than a year. Last month she was onstage with Eve Ensler, who wrote "The Vagina Monologues," at a PEN event in New York. Ms. Nafisi is now touring Europe as part of the paperback promotion. She has done interviews together with Dmitri Nabokov, Vladimir's son, and bonded with make-up men from Afghanistan.
She has also confronted naysayers and ill-wishers. "People from my country have said the book was successful because of a Zionist conspiracy and U.S. imperialism, and others have criticized me for washing our dirty laundry in front of the enemy," she said.
Ms. Nafisi said she has also had to contend with her own intellectual snobbery as she has toured the United States and met her fans, most of whom live outside the academic realm she has inhabited, first in Iran and now in the West. "I had always looked at book groups a little condescendingly, like ladies clubs from the 1950's," she said. "Then I met all these people through bookstores and book groups and realized how fantastic it is that people get together to talk about books."
Now, she says, she fears the biggest obstacle to writing may be success. Before leaving Iran seven years ago, she said, "I wondered, `Will I ever be able without worry to sit down and write and teach?' I can now complain to no one because no one is preventing me from writing. But they are, in a sense, by their enthusiasm. There are too many good people to talk to."
The Woman Question
June 08, 2004
Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars
October 10, 2003, was a significant day for women throughout the Middle East. Shirin Ebadi, an Iranian activist, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of her work in Iran for human rights, women's rights, and children's rights. Through her, the prize acknowledged the wider struggle Iranian women in particular, and Middle Eastern women generally, have waged to gain their rightful place in their not-so-hospitable societies.
The Nobel committee put Middle Eastern governments on notice that the international community is following with keen interest the efforts of women in the region to achieve equality under the law.
For Iranian women, Ebadi's Nobel Prize had a special poignancy. It rewarded their quarter-century fight against a political regime determined to turn back the clock on women's rights. Ebadi, a practicing lawyer who was born (in 1947) and educated in Iran, was among the first female judges to be appointed to the bench under the shah's regime, in 1975. Although she was an activist in the revolution against that regime, Ebadi was purged by the Islamists after they came to power in 1979, when women were barred from all judgeships. Following her dismissal, Ebadi established a private legal practice, taught law at Tehran University, wrote on legal matters, and worked passionately for women's and children's rights. Like other activists in the Islamic Republic, she was thrown in jail for specious reasons, and she was barred from practicing law for five years. But she was not deterred.
Ebadi's prize created great excitement in Tehran, and great consternation in the Iranian government. President Mohammad Khatami, who owed his presidency in large part to the votes of women and the young, shocked those who regarded him as an enlightened cleric by remarking that the important Nobel Prizes were awarded in the sciences. In a mass rebuke to the government, tens of thousands of Iranians-men and women alike-turned out at the Tehran airport to greet Ebadi on her return from Paris, where she had been when the call came from the Nobel committee.
In fighting for their own rights, women in the Middle East are broadening the democratic space in society as a whole. Ebadi herself dramatically emphasized this point simply by appearing without a scarf at a Paris press conference. By defying a sacred rule of the Islamic Republic, she drew attention to an issue that is of great concern to women throughout the Middle East and is also a key symbol in the larger struggle for democratic rights. What could be a simpler and more fundamental individual right than to dress as one pleases?
PhotoHomeward-bound after receiving news of her Nobel Peace Prize in Paris, Iranian activist Shirin Ebadi, shown with her daughter, dramatized a key practical and symbolic issue by refusing to wear a head covering.
Courageous women such as Shirin Ebadi have made women prime movers in the struggle for a more liberal democratic order, and the status of women is now a key barometer of progress. In Jordan, women launched a campaign against so-called "honor killings," in which men kill female relatives who bring "dishonor" on the family. In Kuwait, women who participated in the resistance to the Iraqi occupation of 1990-91 started a campaign for women's suffrage after the Iraqis were driven out. In Iran, women successfully campaigned against the stoning and flogging of their sisters. In Saudi Arabia, a brave group publicly challenged the authorities in 1990 by the simple but bold step of driving their own cars. And Iraqi women have successfully pressured the Governing Council to rescind regulations that required family law to be based on religious law. In each of these instances, women have helped expand political space and the concept of democratic rights by example and, often, achievement.
All of these conflicts concern at a fundamental level the role and interpretation of Islam. The Middle East's national constitutions are based on Islamic law and recognize Islam as the official religion, and Islam, through the Koran and the traditions of the Prophet, also sets down rules for everyday human behavior. Yet there's considerable diversity in the Islamic world. The Islam practiced in Indonesia is not the Islam practiced in Saudi Arabia or Bosnia or Nigeria. Women's roles and rights in each country are the product of its particular history, culture, and political character. Growing up in the tolerant environment of pre-revolutionary Iran, for example, I always found the highly conservative, orthodox form of Islam practiced in some Arab countries puzzling. But after the Islamists came to power in Iran in 1979 and began to regulate women's lives-public and private-I learned to understand the difficulties women in those countries face.
Today, in some less conservative states, such as Jordan, Syria, and Egypt, women's rights are open to liberal interpretation. But in Saudi Arabia, where a fundamentalist form of Islam reigns, the status of women is based on a strict interpretation of the Koran and the sharia (Islamic law), and is not negotiable. Women are required to wear an abaya, which covers them from head to toe. Wearing the abaya is also expected, though not mandatory, in the Persian Gulf States. (Saudi women are free to set the abaya aside when they are outside the country.) But in Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Tunisia, and a few other countries, the state no longer regulates what women may wear. In Iran, until recently women were flogged for not observing the Islamic dress code, which requires either a black veil covering the whole body and leaving only the face and the hands (but not the wrists) exposed, or a long, loose robe, also in black, with a hood-style head cover. Yet on the streets of Tehran and other cities over the years, the length of the robe has grown shorter, the hood has been replaced by a scarf, and pastel colors have supplanted black. Increasingly, Iranian women now dare to sport short, tight-fitting robes and skimpy head covers.
Even as a degree of liberalization has occurred in some countries, there's been movement in the opposite direction in others. A recent trend in Egypt, Iraq, and even relatively cosmopolitan Lebanon, especially among Shiites, is for women to cover their hair, even when not required. It's unclear what's behind this change. Some observers see the trend as a political statement against the regime in power; others say it reflects a revival of religious feeling; still others believe women wear the scarf as protection from harassment by fundamentalists. It's not uncommon for many women to cover their hair on their way to work but remove their head cover once inside their office.
The key differences in the status of women in the region's countries can't be traced to differences between the Sunni and Shiite forms of Islam. Societal conditions - level of education, size of the middle class, degree of urbanization, national history - seem to matter more. Women are enfranchised in Sunni-dominated countries such as Egypt and Jordan and in Shiite Iran (one of two Shiite-majority countries, along with Iraq), but not in other Arab countries. Women may drive cars in Iran and Egypt, among other places, but not in Saudi Arabia.The main obstacle to the emancipation of women is family law, which is based on the Islamic sharia and regulates marriage, divorce, child custody, and a woman's right to work, to choose her place of domicile, and to leave her house, town, or country. In Saudi Arabia, a woman didn't even have the right to her own identity card until two years ago; she had to be registered on the card of her husband or father. In Iran, a married woman still needs notarized permission from her husband to travel. I know of women who were prevented from leaving the country even though they were members of government delegations going abroad on official business.
The Middle East's rulers have rarely taken the initiative in advancing women's rights. The shah of Iran enfranchised women in 1963 in the face of clerical opposition. Last year, King Mohammad VI of Morocco persuaded parliament to make major changes in Morocco's family law. The new law restricts a man's right to divorce on demand, and to more than one wife; it raises the legal age of marriage for girls to 18 and recognizes the equality of the spouses in a family. The king also suggested a quota of seats for women in parliament and local councils. In Iraq, the Governing Council has partially yielded to women's demands by calling for electoral laws that will give women 25 percent of seats in a future parliament. But in 1999, the parliament of Kuwait rejected a proposal by the emir, Sheik Jaber Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah, to grant women the right to vote and to sit as members of that legislative body.
Women themselves have been the main force for change, and the change they seek is fundamental, not merely incremental. The number of educated women is growing with extraordinary speed, and so is the demand for fuller participation in government and public affairs. When no women were included in the committee responsible for drafting the interim laws that will serve as a basis for the new Iraqi constitution, Iraqi women publicly protested. And Afghan women presented President Hamid Karzai with a women's bill of rights for inclusion in the constitution. In Iran, protests against overt discrimination in the workplace and in universities have forced the government to alter its policies.
The spread of the Internet and satellite dishes will promote further change, though not with lightning speed. Globalization undermines isolation, giving women an awareness of the progress their counterparts are making elsewhere in the world and linking them in a common effort. In most Middle Eastern countries, women's organizations that have links to the Internet have established their own websites. While the percentage of Arab women with access to the Internet is in the low single digits, female-led nongovernmental organizations are working to change that. A worldwide network of supporters awaits women when they do get access. Today, when a woman is sentenced to death by stoning for adultery, whether in Iran or northern Nigeria, groups around the world mobilize to alert international and local organizations and to protest to heads of state. On a number of occasions, national governments have been forced to overturn the sentences.
The wider world has provided another important goad to action, in the unexpected form of two sobering reports sponsored by respected international organizations. The United Nations-funded Arab Human Development Report, written mostly by Arab experts and thinkers and published in July 2002, came as a rude surprise to the people of the Middle East. It exposed the degree to which the region trails the rest of the world, even in comparison with other developing countries, when judged by basic economic, social, and political indicators. Despite its substantial oil revenues and other natural resources, the Middle East lags far behind in making progress on gender issues, human rights, and good governance. And for the first time a group of prominent Arab intellectuals and experts blamed the Arabs themselves, rather than colonialism and other external factors, for the failures of the Arab world.
The report examines the state of economic, social, civil, cultural, and political development in 22 countries with a combined population of some 300 million. (Nearly 40 percent of that population is under the age of 14, creating a demographic time bomb.) The authors identify three major areas of deficit in the Arab world: freedom, women's empowerment, and knowledge. The section on women begins with this sentence: "Arab women have made considerable progress over the decades." But the authors go on to say: "Sadly, the Arab World is largely depriving itself of the creativity and productivity of half its citizens." On paper, boys and girls in all countries of the region have equal access to education, but the percentage of girls in school varies from country to country. In most countries, primary and secondary education is segregated, while classes in colleges and universities are mixed (except in Saudi Arabia). In Iran, Lebanon, Oman, and Qatar, the number of women entering the universities is actually greater than the number of men. In some countries, the number of women's universities, with their more comfortable all-female surroundings, has been on the rise.
PhotoIn a Riyadh supermarket, a Saudi woman peers from her abaya, required dress in the kingdom.
The second report, Gender and Development in the Middle East and North Africa: Women in the Public Sphere, was released last fall by the World Bank. While noting progress, the report points out many shortcomings. Thus, "women's average literacy rate rose from 16.6 percent in 1970 to 52.5 percent in 2000," but that still leaves nearly half of all Arab women without the ability to read and write. Despite a 50 percent increase in women's employment in the region since 1960, the report notes, the rate of female integration into the labor market "remains among the lowest in the world," in part because of restrictive family law and a culture that sees men as families' sole breadwinner.
The two reports show that the number of educated women is growing but that women do not play a commensurately greater role in society. Governments have been relatively bold in expanding educational opportunities for women but timid in addressing obstacles embedded in family law.
In the political sphere, women have made significant progress in the last two decades but still remain at a great disadvantage. The national constitutions of the Middle East generally guarantee equality under the law for both men and women, but rarely is this promise realized. Turkey granted women the right to vote in 1934; Iran, Tunisia, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, and a few other countries did so gradually over the ensuing decades, including Bahrain in 2001. Women still do not have the right to vote in four countries: Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (where neither sex is enfranchised), Qatar, and Kuwait.
The right to vote is no guarantee of representation - or of anything else, since elections in most countries can hardly be described as free and fair and many legislative bodies have little power. According to the Arab Human Development Report, women claim only 3.5 percent of the seats in Arab parliaments. Lebanese women, for example, were enfranchised in 1952, but the first woman was elected to parliament only in 1992. In Iran, just before the 1979 revolution, 20 women sat in parliament; in the first round of elections this past February, only eight women won seats. Jordanian women were enfranchised in 1974, but no parliamentary elections were held until 1984, and it wasn't until 1993 that a woman gained a seat. Six women sit in the new parliament elected last year.
More women are serving in cabinet positions, but the numbers remain so low that women in some countries are lobbying for a quota system that will give them a proportional share of parliamentary seats and cabinet positions. Women now hold cabinet positions in Syria, Egypt, Bahrain, Jordan, Oman, and Qatar. But a handful of token appointments will no longer suffice. And women no longer think their cause is significantly advanced when they are appointed to cabinet posts that have acquired a gender-specific identity, such as health and education. Women leaders argue that cabinet positions, indeed, all leadership and managerial positions, must be filled on the basis of merit rather than gender. The region, they say, needs a large number of female ambassadors, undersecretaries, directors-general, governors, mayors, city and local councilors, judges, lawyers, and diplomats. But if it takes quotas to achieve this goal, activists increasingly argue, then let quotas be put in place. In Iraq, for example, women pressed for a constitutional guarantee reserving them 40 percent of all political appointments and seats in parliament. They had to settle for a goal of 25 percent of parliamentary seats.
No matter what is accomplished at the level of higher politics, equal legal status for women is virtually unachievable so long as family law remains based on the sharia, and rules derived from a particular interpretation of Islam prevail in the social sphere. Under this system, women need the permission of a male member of the family to seek education and employment. They have no right to a divorce, and they lose custody of their children when their husbands divorce them. Girls as young as nine can be married at the whim of their fathers and divorced at the whim of their husbands. In many places, women can still be killed for bringing "shame" on the family, stoned for adultery, and flogged for showing a bit of hair. If women are to be empowered, family law must be modified. Yet only a few women sit on high courts in the Middle East-though in some countries, such as Syria, their numbers are increasing in lower courts-and few countries have family courts to adjudicate family disputes.
The specious guarantees of equality before the law for all citizens that mark so many constitutions can no longer be accepted as polite fictions. Middle Eastern governments must be persuaded to adhere to the letter of their constitutions. The full integration of women into society will be impossible so long as women are seen as second-class citizens, under the tutelage of the male members of the family. A growing community of educated women will demand access to employment; and economic independence, be it in cities, towns, or villages, will inevitably create demands for a voice in writing the laws that influence women's lives. To change the laws women must be present in political offices and law-making bodies, and this must be achieved through wider political participation and, if necessary, quota systems.
In a number of countries, men are learning to respect and work with women. Only through such partnership will women's empowerment be accelerated. Female Middle Easterners are increasingly active, and increasingly supported by an international network of members of their own sex that can monitor the progress women are making and the stumbling blocks governments place in their path. It's frustrating for many women that their cause may take one or two steps forward only to take one step back. But the struggle for women's rights can no longer be stopped. Women in the region know this-and so do their governments.
[Sidebar]EVEN AS A DEGREE OF LIBERALIZATION HAS OCCURRED IN SOME COUNTRIES, THERE'S BEEN MOVEMENT IN THE OPPOSITE DIRECTION IN OTHERS.
[Sidebar]THE MIDDLE EAST'S RULERS HAVE RARELY TAKEN THE INITIATIVE IN ADVANCING WOMEN'S RIGHTS.
[Sidebar]THE SPREAD OF THE INTERNET AND SATELLITE DISHES WILL PROMOTE FURTHER CHANGE, THOUGH NOT WITH LIGHTNING SPEED.
[Sidebar]WOMEN STILL DO NOT HAVE THE RIGHT TO VOTE IN FOUR COUNTRIES . . . BUT THE RIGHT TO VOTE IS NO GUARANTEE OF REPRESENTATION.
[Author Affiliation]HALEH ESKANDIARI is the director of the Wilson Canters Middle East Program. Before leaving Iran in 1978, she was a journalist and deputy secretary-general of the Women's Organization of Iran. She is the author of Reconstructed Lives: Women and Iran's Islamic Revolution (1997).
Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars
Spring 2004. Vol. 28, Iss. 2; pg. 56, 8 pgs
About 40 Armed Iranians Stopped At Iraqi Border
June 07, 2004
KIEV -- Ukrainian troops based in eastern Iraq picked up about 40 Iranians trying to enter the country illegally at the weekend with assault rifles, Kalashnikovs, hunting guns and ammunition, the defense ministry here said Monday.
The Iranians, travelling in a convoy of three cars and three minibuses, were stopped Saturday at the border with the Shiite Iraqi province of Wasset, the ministry said in a communique, adding that they were planning to join the ranks of guerrillas fighting the US-led occupation.
The seized weapons were taken to a Ukrainian base, while the Iranians were handed over to Iraqi border police, the statement said.
Ukraine has more than 1,650 troops deployed in Iraq.
About 40 Armed Iranians Stopped At Iraqi Border
June 07, 2004
IAEA Draft Resolution Slams Iran For Lack Of Cooperation
June 08, 2004
VIENNA -- Key European powers Tuesday presented a draft resolution that takes Iran to task for lagging cooperation with a U.N. atomic agency probe into its suspect nuclear activities.
A diplomat quoting parts of the text to The Associated Press said the document "deplores" the fact that Iran's "cooperation hasn't been complete, timely and proactive."
At the same time, the diplomat said, the draft "acknowledges Iranian cooperation" in granting agency inspectors access to sites and locations in their investigation.
The draft was circulated informally among delegations representing the 35- nation board of governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency ahead of a board meeting that starts Monday
Another diplomat also familiar with the text said that its language could change before it is formally presented at the board meeting.
But he said expectations were that any resolution would express international impatience with Iran because of outstanding questions about its uranium enrichment programs and other suspect activities that the U.S. says points to weapons ambitions.
"We all agree that the Iranians cannot be trusted 100%," said the diplomat, from a board-member nation.
The June 14 meeting of the 35-nation IAEA board of governors will review of report on Iran by agency Director General Mohamed ElBaradei, as part of more than a yearlong agency probe of nearly two decades of covert nuclear activities.
The IAEA report alleges Iran had tried to buy critical parts for advanced P-2 centrifuges that can be used for energy purposes or to enrich uranium to weapons grade.
It also notes that the origin of highly enriched uranium traces normally used to make nuclear weapons is still unclear - although Iran insists they weren't produced domestically but imported on equipment it purchased through black market middlemen.
Iran suspended uranium enrichment last year, and in April it said it had stopped building centrifuges. The moves followed mounting international pressure after IAEA inspectors found the traces of highly enriched uranium at two Iranian sites last year and evidence that Iran was trying to build centrifuges capable of producing weapons-grade uranium.
Iran long has rejected U.S. allegations its nuclear program is for military purposes. ElBaradei said last month his agency hadn't found proof to date of a concrete link between Iran's nuclear activities and its military program, but " it was premature to make a judgment."
Iran Caught out in a Vanishing Trick Too Many
June 08, 2004
Until recently, Washington was resigned to putting on hold any showdown with Iran over its clandestine nuclear weapons program. The Bush administration lacked support in the International Atomic Energy Agency for referring the issue to the UN Security Council and possible international sanctions and decided to postpone go-it-alone steps until after the November 4 presidential election.
That situation has changed dramatically. Tuesday, June 8, France, Britain and Germany overcame their reluctance to get tough with Iran and took the bull by the horns. Without waiting for the UN nuclear watchdog to submit its report at the June 14 Vienna board meeting, the three European governments circulated a draft UN nuclear resolution that would sharply rebuke Iran for not cooperating fully with the lAEA. The draft reportedly acknowledges Iranian cooperation in responding to agency requests for access to locations, but deplored this cooperation for not being complete, timely and proactive.
The draft would urge Iran to reverse its decisions to begin operating a uranium conversion facility and constructing a heavy water research reactor that could produce bomb-grade plutonium.
Last Friday, June 4, DEBKA-Net-Weekly revealed:
The most secret section of the latest report the International Atomic Energy Agencys director Mohammed ElBaradai has drafted on Irans nuclear program is also the most embarrassing for the international nuclear watchdog. Our intelligence sources reveal exclusively that when inspectors arrived in Iran in mid-May and asked to revisit installations they saw in February or April, they were astonished to find empty spaces. When they questioned their Iranian escorts, they were greeted with blank stares. What installations? the officials asked.
The inspectors pulled out photos from previous visits and showed the Iranian officials what had been there before. The Iranians dismissed them as having been shot in other places that looked the same - or grafted there by hostile intelligence bodies.
When the inspectors persevered and reported the existence of aerial photos showing the exact location of the missing facilities, the Iranians shrugged.
The Iranians had amazingly dismantled and spirited away all the structures containing incriminating evidence of continuing uranium enrichment for weapons production so completely that there was no sign a building had ever stood there. The fresh flowerbeds were still in the same places as before but the lawns had been extended to cover the former sites, most probably with thick layers of earth. All the inspectors could do was to remove soil samples and take them away.
According to our sources, US officials involved in the Iranian nuclear issue have no doubt that the installations were not destroyed but removed to secret subterranean sites probably built under military bases scattered around the country and that the Iranians are industriously advancing their forbidden programs.
However, so as not to give the game away, they discontinued work on uranium enrichment.
The ElBaradei report does not specify the locations over which the broad lawns have been planted. Our sources report at least five, including Nantaz, Arak and Tehran.
After diplomatic consultations at the end of May, the US and the German, British and French governments reached the same conclusion: Tehrans costly and elaborate exercise in deception attests to its bad faith on nuclear weapons development and provides grounds enough to put Iran in the dock. For the time being, the Bush administration appeared willing to hold off direct action on the issue until after the presidential election on November 4.
Sunday, June 6, top officials in Teheran declared that Iran had answered all nuclear ambiguities and there is nothing left on the table. They were optimistic enough to assert that the June 14 IAEA meeting would give Iran a clean bill of health. The Iranian nuclear case must be removed from the nuclear watchdogs agenda, they insisted. The foreign ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said emphatically: If the case remains open, it is because of the agencys laziness,,, and its unfounded fussiness.
However, when President George W. Bush arrived in France to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the allied landing in Normandy, he came armed with fresh intelligence data. After the success of their vanishing trick, the Iranians felt they could safely resume the full-scale production of enriched uranium. They were confident enough to announce publicly the activation of their new heavy water plant at Arak.
Tehrans cockiness may have been its undoing.
DEBKAfiles sources reveal that before he left Europe, Bush conducted a hasty consultation with Germany Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, French president Jacques Chirac and British premier Tony Blair. They decided to wait no longer and the next day, the E-3 circulated its draft ready for submission.
DEBKAfiles Tehran sources predict that the Islamic republic will not take this reversal lying down. It is likely to lash out at the nearest objects of its ire, American interests in Iraq and the Israeli-Lebanese border. Iran has been holding a large force of guerilla and suicide fighters in Iraq ready to punish the Americans in case they let the world body loose on its nuclear program which explains why the three European powers are sponsoring the draft rather than the United States.
The Iranians have also been keeping the Hizballah on the ready to stir up big trouble against Israel on a scale much broader than the exchange of fire Tuesday.
The industrial powers represented Tuesday at the G-8 summit on Sea Island, Georgia, are also determine to stop up nuclear leaks for the future. They are reported close to consensus on several proposals, one to suspend for one year all new transfers of equipment for uranium enrichment and reprocessing. This would include endorsement of a UN resolution to criminalize proliferation activity and press for reforms of the UN nuclear watchdog to strengthen its role. Concern over the inadequacy of current measures to prevent the spread of nuclear technology were raised when it emerged that A.Q. Khan, the father of Pakistans nuclear bomb, had helped North Korea, Libya and Iran to develop their arms programs.
Iran Caught out in a Vanishing Trick Too Many
June 08, 2004
EU 'Big 3' Rebuke Iran in Draft Nuclear Resolution
Reuters - World News
Jun 8, 2004
VIENNA - France, Britain and Germany circulated a draft U.N. nuclear resolution Tuesday that sharply rebukes Iran for sluggish cooperation with the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency.
The draft, seen by Reuters, says the IAEA governing board "acknowledges Iranian cooperation in responding to agency requests for access to locations" but "deplores ... the fact that this cooperation has not been complete, timely and proactive."
The draft also urges Iran to reverse its decisions to begin operation of a uranium conversion facility and construction of a heavy water research reactor that could produce bomb-grade plutonium.
The text also says the IAEA board, which meets next week to discuss Iran's nuclear program, "deeply regrets" that Iran has not fully suspended all aspects of its uranium enrichment program, as it promised to do under a deal Tehran struck last year with the three European states.
The text will undergo revisions before going to the board of the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog.
"We have seen the draft. We think the board is going to take appropriately firm action when it meets next week," said a U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Several diplomats said Washington was disappointed that the resolution was not even more critical of Iran, which the United States believes is using its nuclear energy program as a front to build atomic weapons. However, they said U.S. negotiators would push for harsher language in future revisions.
Iran insists its nuclear ambitions are purely peaceful. Iranian officials were not immediately available for comment.
A FREE IRAQ SENDS IRAN A SIGNAL
The following is a editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government:
Iraq has a new interim government that will take over authority from the U.S.-led coalition on June 30th. The selection of the new government, headed by Prime Minister Iyad Allawi and President Ghazi Mashal Ajil al-Yawar, is a significant move toward a free and fully independent Iraq. The interim government's greatest task will be to guide Iraq to national elections by next January.
President George W. Bush says that a fully sovereign nation with a representative government will realize the dream of the Iraqi people. But it will also do more:
A free Iraq in the heart of the Middle East is going to be a game-changer, an agent of change. It's going to send a clear signal that the terrorists can't win and that a free society is a better way to lift the hopes and aspirations of the average person.
One country that will note the change, says Mr. Bush, is Iran:
It's important for. . .those who love freedom in Iran to see. I mean, listen, a free Iraq on the border of Iran is going to send a very clear signal to those who want to be free -- that a free society is very possible.
President Bush says it is necessary to work toward democracy throughout the Middle East:
Because a society that is not free and not democratic is a society that's likely to breed resentment and anger. And therefore, a society that makes the recruitment of young terrorists more likely.
In the past, says Mr. Bush, the U.S. and other countries pursued a flawed policy in the region:
For decades, free nations tolerated oppression in the Middle East for the sake of stability. In practice this approach brought little stability, and much oppression. So I have changed this policy. In the short term, we will work with every government in the Middle East dedicated to destroying the terrorist networks. In the longer term, we will expect a higher standard of reform and democracy.
Free societies are peaceful societies, says Mr. Bush. We will stand with the people of that region as they seek their future in freedom."
Clarke: More Reasons to Invade Iran Than Iraq
Tuesday, June 08, 2004 12:36 p.m. ET
VIENNA (Reuters) - It would have made more sense to invade Iran than Iraq, says a former U.S. counterterrorism adviser who has already accused the Bush administration of being soft on terrorism and wasting resources by attacking Iraq.
Richard Clarke, a former adviser to three U.S. presidents and four administrations, said mere possession of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) did not justify invading a country. This was the U.S. government's stated grounds for the Iraq war.
"If you take the case of Iran, its nuclear program is far more advanced than Iraq's was," Clarke told the Austrian daily Der Standard in an interview translated into German. "There would have been far more grounds to invade there (Iran)."
The United States believes Iran's nuclear program is a front for developing atomic weapons. Tehran denies this, saying its atomic ambitions are limited to generating electricity.
The U.S. military has found none of the caches of Iraqi WMD that Washington said Saddam Hussein had possessed in abundance.
In his recently published memoirs "Against All Enemies," Clarke charged that the administration of President Bush did not take the al Qaeda threat seriously enough before the September 11, 2001 attacks and needlessly attacked Iraq.
Clarke's accusations have damaged Bush's reputation for being tough on terrorism -- a key theme in the president's re-election campaign. The Los Angeles Times reported in April that 52 percent of Americans agreed that Bush had been lax on terrorism before September 11 while 40 percent disagreed.
Bush has repeatedly denied Clarke's charges.
In a chapter entitled "That Almost War, 1996," Clarke says former U.S. President Bill Clinton almost launched a war against Iran for what Washington says its support for terrorism against the United States.
However, Clarke says Clinton chose not to attack Iran but ordered an "intelligence operation" that seemed to have worked.
"Following the intelligence operation, and perhaps because of it and the serious U.S. threats, among other reasons, Iran ceased terrorism against the U.S.," Clarke wrote. "War with Iran was averted."
"War with Iran was averted."
Who's he kidding?
Clinton would never have gone to war, anyway.
"when inspectors arrived in Iran in mid-May and asked to revisit installations they saw in February or April, they were astonished to find empty spaces. When they questioned their Iranian escorts, they were greeted with blank stares. What installations? the officials asked.
The inspectors pulled out photos from previous visits and showed the Iranian officials what had been there before. The Iranians dismissed them as having been shot in other places that looked the same - or grafted there by hostile intelligence bodies.
When the inspectors persevered and reported the existence of aerial photos showing the exact location of the missing facilities, the Iranians shrugged.
The Iranians had amazingly dismantled and spirited away all the structures containing incriminating evidence of continuing uranium enrichment for weapons production so completely that there was no sign a building had ever stood there. The fresh flowerbeds were still in the same places as before but the lawns had been extended to cover the former sites, most probably with thick layers of earth. All the inspectors could do was to remove soil samples and take them away."
The old bury-the-evidence-trick. Seems to be popular in the Mideast.
On second thought, maybe it's more a case of, "Now you see it, Now you don't"
Although it doesn't look it, it really is.
All my friends have enjoyed it when they have come to my house.
Did Clarke just say that we didn't need to go to war with Iraq because we needed to go to war with Iran, even though we no longer needed to go to war with Iran?
Anybody got a waffle translator handy? I am confused.
Good for the Ukranians! Great job, I wonder if the Iraqis will jail them or just deport them back to Iran?
I don't know.............
If it's a frittata, which is eggs, how come it looks like a brownie with green stuff on top?
LoL. Yeah, I know what a frittata is. How come it's brown?
Actually its green...
i dont think ive had that one. zereshk are the little red berries in it, though, and zereshk polo is niiiice.