Skip to comments.Iranian Alert -- June 21, 2004 [EST]-- IRAN LIVE THREAD -- "Americans for Regime Change in Iran"
Posted on 06/20/2004 10:09:33 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.
EU ACCUSES IRAN OF GROSS VIOLATIONS OF HUMAN RIGHTS
Posted Sunday, June 20, 2004
BRUSSELS-TEHRAN 20 June (IPS) Relations between Iran and the European Union continue its downward trend after the 25-members organisation issued Sunday a statement criticising strongly the Islamic Republic for its appalling human rights situation.
The statement put forward by Dublin, which is now chairing the European Union, expressed "grave concern" at the persistence of widespread human rights abuses, mostly on political prisoners, the situation of Iranian women and crackdown on journalists and dissidents.
"The European Union continues to be gravely concerned at the continued and numerous violations of human rights in Iran", the statement said two days after the Europeans Big 3, namely Britain, France and Germany sponsored a Resolution on Friday at the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency deploring that Tehran had not come clean and clear with the Vienna-based IAEA on its nuclear programs.
Delegates from the EUs human rights commission met last week in Tehran with officials from the Iranian Judiciary, the fourth time the two sides have sat down since December 2002.
Families of Iranian political prisoners had tried to meet the European delegation, but they said authorities had prevented them. But the Iranian Judiciary always insists that there are no political prisoners in Iran, the same as the government says that it has no plan for making nuclear weapons.
The European Union must blame itself, for, we had provided them with a list of human rights abuses by the Iranian authorities, but they have ignored it. Now, they repeat exactly what we had told them before going to Tehran, Mr. Karim Lahiji, the Head of Iranian League of Human Rights in exile told Radio Farda, the Persian service of Radio Free Europe-Radio Liberty.
The statement would further cloud Iran-EU relations, an Iranian political analyst told Iran Press Service, speaking on condition of anonymity. The Iranians, for sure, would take the statement as another sign of the European Union going closer to the Americans, their most powerful enemy, he added.
The statement said the EU delegation had "raised the cases of 40 prisoners of conscience at present in detention in Iran, who should be released immediately and definitively."
These include unequal rights for women; the use of torture in prisons and other places of detention, and a culture of impunity for perpetrators", the statement said, pointing also to "the lack of an independent judiciary, the use of the death penalty, as well as reports of the continued use of amputations and other cruel punishments; a continuing campaign against journalists and others who seek to exercise their freedom of opinion and expression, a flawed electoral process which impedes the democratic choice of the Iranian people, and discrimination on religious grounds, according to the EU statement.
But it did not say how the Iranians responded to the demand, but the tone of the statement appeared to back up comments from diplomats that the latest talks had netted "no concrete results". Last week, a senior official in the hard line judiciary even denied the presence of any political prisoners in Iranian jails.
"We started off with critical dialogue; then we moved onto constructive dialogue; and now we seem to be in a phase of monologue", was the wry spin on EU policy towards Iran given by one senior Tehran-based European diplomat.
As well as engaging Iran on the nuclear issue and human rights, the EU is also looking for progress in Iran's record on terrorism and a change in its stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
In one of their first meetings, the Europeans had called on the Iranians to be courageous and recognise at once both the Jewish State and the Palestinian Authority, a demand that Iranians had rejected.
Tehran's official position is that Israel, a State they describe as a cancer planted in the Middle East by the Americans and the British should be destroyed and consider Palestinian and Arab organisations listed by the Americans as terrorist organisations as freedom fighters, hence Washington and some European nations accusing Iran of supporting international terrorism and terrorist groups.
In the Dublin-sponsored statement, the EU warns Iran that if it fails to correct its human rights records, it would be denied the signing of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement, an accord much needed by the Iranians.
Dr Mohammad Javad Larijani, an advisor to the Iranian Judiciary for International Affairs said continuing dialogue with Europe does not mean that Iran has to change its policies.
Progress on terrorism, human rights and nuclear issues has been set as conditions to the possible signing of a Trade and Cooperation Agreement, and the statement spelled out clearly that far more progress on the rights issue was needed before a trade deal can be considered. This is indispensable for the development of wider and eventually closer relations between the EU and Iran," the statement noted.
EU IRAN 20604
Iran's Growing Nuclear Threat
By Joe Mariani (06/20/2004)
For years, the Iranian government has been playing games with the world about its nuclear program, claiming that they were only interested in peaceful nuclear development. That lie is about to be disproved in the most terrible way possible -- by the emergence of Iran as a nuclear power.
For reference, ordinary natural uranium has an atomic weight of 238. Only .72 percent of naturally-occurring uranium consists of an unstable isotope with a weight of 235. Various complex methods can be used to separate the lighter uranium from the mix; the most common is by gas centrifuge, of the sort that was found buried under a rosebush in Iraq. Highly-enriched uranium (HEU) contains more than 20 percent Uranium-235. Weapons-grade HEU consists of more than 90 percent pure U-235. A power-generating reactor can be fueled with lower grades of uranium; there is no need for HEU unless you want a sustained nuclear fission reaction -- in other words, a nuclear bomb.
After months of playing hide-and-seek with the International Atomic Energy Agency, Iran has taken a hard-line stance against any restrictions on its nuclear program. Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi said, "Iran has a high technical capability and has to be recognized by the international community as a member of the nuclear club. This is an irreversible path." The "nuclear club" consists of those countries that admit to having nuclear weapons -- the US, the UK, France, Russia, China, and most recently Pakistan and India. North Korea claims to have working nuclear weapons, but has not yet openly tested one, and Israel is suspected of having them. Libya was close to achieving nuclear capability, but Moammar Ghaddafi wisely gave up his ambitions in that direction after the US-led coalition removed Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq in March 2003. Though Iran claimed to have halted its uranium enrichment program, inspectors from the IAEA have repeatedly found traces of highly-enriched uranium at multiple sites in Iran.
Iran has been caught in lies regarding its nuclear weapons programs before, and has covered up very badly. When IAEA inspectors tried in May 2004 to visit suspicious sites they had seen only months earlier, they found that the sites themselves had vanished. The buildings that the inspectors believed contained working enrichment facilities were gone, and in their place were freshly-planted flowerbeds. The Iranians pretended that no buildings had ever been there, even when shown aerial and satellite photographs of the missing buildings. Now, they refuse to keep up even a weak pretense. What else could it mean but the imminence of their nuclear ambition being fulfilled?
A radical fundamentalist government which sponsors global terrorism gaining nuclear capability is a horror that cannot be allowed to happen. If terrorists are willing to blow themselves up in cars packed with explosives or strap on "bomb belts" in order to kill innocent civilians in restaurants and buses, why would they balk at using nuclear weapons in the same way? If they believe they will be rewarded in the afterlife for killing a few children on a schoolbus, what reward do they think they'll receive for wiping an entire city off the map? It's no longer a matter of if, but when. If we allow Tehran to create nuclear weapons, how long will it be before we wake up to find that a nuclear bomb has destroyed a major city like Tel Aviv, Baghdad, Paris, New York, London or Washington DC? Every place on Earth that terrorists have struck, they would have attacked with nuclear weapons if it had been possible. Next time, it might be.
What can be done to stop this threat? If we think we have the time -- and that depends entirely on our intelligence services, which have not exactly had a good track record in the Middle East -- we can attempt to impose sanctions. Most of Iran's oil exports are shipped through the Straits of Hormuz, which can be blockaded with just a small percentage of America's naval force. With the bulk of its oil income halted, the Iranian economy would collapse, but not overnight. Will we have the determination to keep up the blockade long enough? Other oil-exporting nations would undoubtedly halt their exports to any participating nations, and gas and oil prices would rise higher than ever before. (One has to wonder whether this is why President Bush refuses to release oil from the nation's emergency reserve.) The only other option is to strike Iran's suspected nuclear facilities before they can enrich enough uranium to build a weapon, although knowing their locations depends on our intelligence services as well.
The only certainty either way is that the "mainstream" media, Democrats and Liberals would vilify President Bush even more than they already do, if that's even possible. One really has to wonder whose side they're on. Of course, they wouldn't be too kind to him if whole cities began to disappear, either.
Joe Mariani was born and raised in New Jersey. He now lives in Pennsylvania, where the gun laws are less restrictive and taxes are lower. Joe always thought of himself as politically neutral until he saw how far left the left had really gone after 9/11.
More Afghans returning home from Iran
Tehran, Iran, Jun. 20 (UPI) -- About 13,000 Afghans have been repatriated from Iran in recent months and the exodus is continuing, the Iranian news agency IRNA reported Sunday.
The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Alireza Reza'i told IRNA that a convoy taking 788 Afghan family members left Bandar Abbas, in southern Iran, Saturday for the Dogharoun border checkpoint in the northeastern province of Khorassan.
"A growing number of applications for repatriation have been filed by Afghan refugees within the past few days," he said.
Other sources said the Afghanis who had left home because they did not want to live under the Taliban Islamic militant regime now want to return because they see the situation in their country as slowly stabilizing.
Reza'i noted that upon arrival in Afghanistan, every Afghan refugee receives between $5-25 from the UNHCR to cover the expenses of the inland trip to their final destination.
Iran to ban water-pipe in public
By Jim Muir
BBC correspondent in Tehran
Young Iranians have taken to gathering around the qalyoun to smoke and flirt Iranian officials have said that smoking the hubble-bubble, or water-pipe, will be banned in all restaurants and leisure places from Monday.
The water-pipe is one of the most traditional instruments of relaxation and indulgence in the Middle East.
In Iran, where it is known as the qalyoun, it has been at the centre of traditional culture for centuries.
The move comes amid plans for a broader summer crackdown on what hardline officials call "social corruption".
Fines and confiscation
The sweet scent of fruit-flavoured tobacco wafting around restaurants and teahouses is a familiar part of any scene of public relaxation in Tehran.
But not for long - if the authorities have their way.
Police and public health officials will now be out and about making sure that this latest clampdown on public pleasure is fully applied.
Restaurant owners and people caught smoking the qalyoun on their premises or in public places will be liable to fines and confiscation of the offending items.
For a transitional period only, private rooms may be set aside for men only to indulge their habit.
It is not clear quite why this highly popular, traditional and seemingly innocent pastime is being suppressed.
Officially, it is to do with health - but cigarette smoking is still permitted in restaurants and elsewhere - and is generally regarded as much more harmful.
With the water-pipe, the smoker does not inhale any tar.
The move comes amid preparations for a broader summer crackdown on what hardline officials here call "social corruption".
This includes poor observance of Islamic dress codes and public morals, parties involving alcohol and the mingling of unmarried people from both sexes.
It is in this context that most people are bound to see the move to oust the hubble-bubble from public sight and scent, especially since young people have recently taken increasingly to gathering around the qalyoun to smoke and flirt.
It remains to be seen how successful the drive will be in such a big country where the practice is so widespread.
Qalyoun vendors complain that their sales have already been plummeting.
But it is not illegal to sell the pipes or to use them at home, so the indulgence is certain at least to be kept alive where most Iranians have there real fun nowadays - behind closed doors.
Knowing our intelligence it is better if we leave this to Israel. The Mossad has way better intelligence in Iran than we do.
Report: Iran Seizes British Naval Vessels
Monday, June 21, 2004
TEHRAN, Iran Iranian state television reported Monday that Iranian forces had seized three British naval vessels on the Iraqi border and arrested their crews, according to wire reports.
A British spokesman in Iraq confirmed that contact had been lost with three patrol boats.
Iran's Arabic-language al-Alam news channel reported that the boats had been seized on the Shatt al-Arab waterway (search), where the Tigris and Euphrates rivers empty into the Persian Gulf and which also serves as the southernmost border between Iraq and Iran.
"The Iranian navy has confiscated three British boats that entered Iranian territorial waters" Sky News' Web site quoted an Iranian official as telling al-Alam, "arresting the crew of eight people."
(excerpted....please see link for entire article)
Iranian Leader Vows Nation Not Seeking Nukes
Monday, June 21, 2004
TEHRAN, Iran Iran's supreme leader said Monday his country was not seeking nuclear weapons, but he vowed that Tehran won't give up its program to enrich uranium for fuel in nuclear reactors.
"If Europeans and others are really worried that we may acquire nuclear weapons, we assure them that we are not seeking to produce such weapons," Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (search) said in his first remarks since Friday's rebuke of Iran's nuclear activities by a U.N. atomic watchdog agency.
"But if they are unhappy about Iran's access to the outstanding nuclear technology and want to stop this trend, I tell them they should be assured that the Iranian nation won't give in on this," he told a gathering of university officials.
Khamenei, who has the final say on all state matters, also said Iran's intention to control the whole nuclear fuel cycle was "essential" to avoiding foreign dependence on nuclear fuel.
(Excerpted....please see link for full story)
U.K. confirms loss of boat communication
AP | 6/21/04
Posted on 06/21/2004 7:24:52 AM PDT by kattracks
Unaddressed Proliferation: Preemption, take II
"Kerry said that a "nuclear-armed Iran is unacceptable." But he and the Blixiecrats of the IAEA aren't sure that the Iranians are really trying to produce nuclear weapons. This despite more than two decades of crude lies and deceptions by Tehran. Kerry wants to "call [the Iranians'] bluff" by offering to provide them with all the "...nuclear fuel they need for peaceful purposes and take back the spent fuel so they can't divert it to build a weapon." If they refuse, he thinks, we'll know they're up to no good. We already know that. And what Kerry doesn't understand is that Iran isn't bluffing: It's deceiving."
Summary of Iran Stories in Today's Broadcasts
Friday, June 18, 2004
Conditions of Jails: Two Views
Improvement of conditions in the Evin prison of Tehran and prisons in other cities was one of the accomplishments of the judiciary in the past five years, so that when inmates enter the jails, they would like to stay, attorney general Ayatollah Hasan Namazi said. Tehran-based lawyer Nemat Ahmadi, who has represented many jailed writers and activists in court, tells Radio Farda that: I would not wish for Ayatollah Namazi to be in the place of the likes of jailed cleric Hassan Yusefi Eshkevari, with all the diseases he contracted in jail, or jailed writer Akbar Ganji, who is suffering from asthma and other illnesses, or jailed student Manuchehr Mohammadi, who gums bleed everyday, or other political prisoners, even for 24 hours He adds: There is hardly room to move in many of the solitary cells, and there is a ward for special diseases in jails, where sick inmates receive hardly any medical attention and medicine. (Mahmonir Rahimi)
Conservatives Plan Islamic Dress Code Enforcement
Several conservative Majles MP called for new regulations to enforce Islamic dress code on young people in major cities, as hot summer months bring back tighter, shortly cropped overalls, with slits, and more colorful, hear-revealing scarves for girls, and short sleeve shirts for boys. Tehran MP Abassali Akhtari said Islamic dress code must become ingrained in the society's culture. Another Tehran MP Fatemeh Aliya said the problem of the increasing number of unmarried young women should be resolved by promoting polygamy, and chief of Tehran police Sardar Talaee said police will take serious action to root out bad-hejabi, a term for all outfits which cover the body less than the head-to-toe black veil.
France-Iran Expand Economic Ties
As Air France resumes daily Paris-Tehran flights, Iran's largest auto manufacturer signed a deal with France to produce Peugeot 206, and develop a new model of Peugeot 307 to be assembled exclusively in Iran within the next years. Also, France's other auto maker Renault will start making its Logan9 model in Iran.
Summary of Iran Stories in Today's Broadcasts
June 19, 2004
Iran to Continue Work on Uranium Enrichment and Heavy
Water Projects, Rowhani Says
Work will continue on Irak's heavy water facility and Isfahan uranium processing plant, Iran's chief nuclear negotiator and secretary of the supreme national security council Hassan Rowhani said on Saturday, reacting to a resolution passed on Friday in Vienna by the UN International Atomic Energy Agency's board of governors. He called the mention of the Ahwaz heavy water plant in the IAEA resolution an aberration, adding that heavy water has never been a part of safeguards agreement and was not mentioned in Iran's negotiations with the three major European governments, according to government news agencies. Rowhani said Iran will reconsider its voluntary suspension of uranium enrichment activity. He added that the additional protocol to the NPT is set to be ratified by the Majles.
The Europe's big three reneged on their promises to Iran, MP Alaeddin Borujerdi, head of the Majles national security and foreign relations committee, said in reaction to the passage of the tough IAEA resolution drafted by Britain, France and Germany. He added that the Majles will not accept the IAEA's resolution on Ahwaz and Arak plants.
The different statements made by Rowhani and Borujerdi reflect the Iranian government's effort to fortify its bargaining position by pretending that the so-called independent legislature would not go along with the IAEA demands. He adds that Rowhani's threat to restart nuclear enrichment program is also tentative. (Amir-Mosaddegh Katouzian)
We do not want to carry out enrichment for the time being and no decision has yet been taken to resume it, but we will reconsider the suspension of other activities, secretary of the supreme national security council Hassan Rowhani said, according to official news agency IRNA, which dispatched a revised version of earlier reports in which Rowhani had threatened that Iran would reconsider the suspension of uranium enrichment. The official news agency said the new comments meant that Iran will apparently resume the production of centrifuge components rather than resume enrichment itself.
In a resolution passed Friday, the UN International Atomic Energy Agency deplored the Islamic government's lack of full, timely and proactive cooperation. A number of questions remain outstanding, the resolution said, urging Iran to clarify all outstanding questions within the next few months. Despite a tough language, the resolution avoided giving Iran a deadline and omitted a clause sought by US that could send Iran's case to the UN Security Council for violating the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). This resolution is strong and firm despite a concerted campaign led by the most senior levels of the Iranian government to try to intimidate individual board members and the board as a whole and also a full-scale campaign by the Iranian government to discredit this agency, US envoy to IAEA Kenneth Brill said. The statement calls in very explicit terms on Iran to accelerate its cooperation, IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei said. The Iranian government will cooperate with the agency and abide by existing agreement, head of Iran's delegation to IAEA Hossein Mousavian said. He called the resolution a positive step, hinting that Iran expected a tougher resolution. In Tehran, foreign minister Kamal Kharzzi said the resolution was adopted under political pressure from the big powers.
The resolution passed yesterday in Vienna marks a new era of UN supervision of Iran's nuclear programs, Radio Farda broadcaster Bahman Bastani says.
The main thing is that the resolution is aimed at continuing the work to completely resolve all of the world community's questions regarding Iran's nuclear program. We think this will be done as the basis of cooperation between the IAEA and Tehran, Deputy Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Kislyak said today, according to Moscow's Interfax news agency. The resolution adopted by the IAEA reflects not only the attitude of the IAEA, but also of Tehran towards resolving the remaining issues connected to Iran's nuclear program, Kislyak added.
Summary of Iran Stories in Today's Broadcasts
June 19, 2004
Expediency Council Returns Fourth Development Plan to Majles
The 30-man Expediency Council, the members of which are appointed by the Supreme Leader to settle legislative disputes between the Majles and Guardians Council, rejected the government's fourth five-year economic
development plan, which had been approved by the previous session of the Majles, following a Guardians Council's veto. The new Majles, dominated by conservatives, is sensitive to clauses in the bill which calls for transparency and accountability of state-owned enterprises, Tehran-based economist Ali Rashidi tells Radio Farda. These include allocation of monopolies, favoritism in awarding of contracts and the issue of broadening people's participation in the economy, he adds. (Fereydoun Zarnegar)
Former Revolutionary Guards Commander Calls for Return to Crusade Mentality
Reacting to the increasing international pressure on the Islamic government, former chief of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Mohsen Rezai proposed a return to the early revolutionary years' crusade mentality. Rezai, who is the secretary of the Expediency Council, said the government's recent experience of trying to mend fences with the west and distancing from the core supporters shows that a return to crusade mentality has become necessary.
Five Billion Dlrs Energy Wasted Annually In Iran
June 21, 2004
News of Neftegaz.ru
Deputy Minister of Industry and Mines for Planning, Development and Energy Mohammad Safar Eslami said here Saturday it is estimated that five billion dollars in energy is wasted in Iran annually, IRNA reported.
Speaking at the first seminar on efficient fuel consumption Eslami said that energy conservation could lead to job creation strengthening the national economy.
He said an abundance of energy is a relative advantage for a nation playing a vital role in spurring competitiveness.
Eslami also lamented the lower productivity of energy rates in Iran compared to international norms.
He said the share of energy consumption of households, commercial, and transportation sectors is much more intensive than that of the industrial sector.
"The energy consumption is much dependent on industrial performance," he added.
Eslami said during the past decades Iran has adopted inward-driven economic policies including import substitution and self-sufficiency at the expense of other important issues like productivity or gaining a foothold in international markets.
The consequences of these policies are lack of contact with the world, lack of innovation and creativity, a deficient economy in scale with production, no propagation of an entrepreneurial culture, pervasive corruption and the most important factor being a lack of access to modern technology in many industries.
A grave source of concern is the unfettered consumption of gasoline in the country.
An oil industry official said here Monday that gasoline imports, due to negligence of conservation policies, will exceed expectations in the current Iranian year (started March 20).
"Therefore, the figure has been revised upward to dlrs 2.8 billion," Managing Directors of the National Oil Derivatives Distribution Company said.
Speaking at a gathering of Isfahan Refinery directors, he said that previously gasoline imports had been estimated to top dlrs 2.2 billion.
He pointed to the shelved plans for the discarding of dilapidated pollutant generating automobiles, sub-standard gasoline being consumed on the streets, and a general neglect of public transportation as the main causes for higher gasoline imports.
"If the current trend continues gasoline subsidies will top dlrs 15 billion to 20 billion in the next five years," Kashefi emphasized. "Hence, we should expedite the privatization of all economic affairs," he added saying that currently Iran is consuming 64 million liters of gasoline daily.
Iraq is Not in a Free-Fall
June 21, 2004
National Review Online
On June 17, I received a telephone call from an Iraqi friend. Had I heard about the car bomb outside a military recruiting center in Baghdad? I had. It was headline news. He proceeded to tell me that a mutual Iraqi friend was in the hospital. He was heading to a meeting with an American official and was in the wrong place at the wrong time; he was hit by shrapnel.
Many Iraqis sacrifice for their country. Over the course of the four years I have been involved in Iraqi affairs, I have lost a number of Iraqi friends and, more recently, American colleagues. Newspapers, pundits, and academics may scream "quagmire," but Iraqis remain better off today than they did under Saddam. More importantly, Iraqis believe their lives will be better in two years than they were two years ago. They have hope.
He-said, she-said arguments about media focus are meaningless. Cameras do not lie, but they do not give the full perspective. The New York Times has an editorial position in its news department which is not going to change. Headlines will continue to favor hyperbole over fact. Journalists will write that Fallujah was a Sunni uprising, ignoring the relative calm in Sunni towns like Ramadi, Baquba, Samarra, Hib Hib, Nahr al-Shaykh, and Mosul.
Pundits and academics the shrillest of whom have not been to Iraq will cast doubt on achievements. They will repeat the canard that the Defense Department was mistaken in its belief that Americans would be greeted as liberators. They will ignore their own reporting from just over a year ago: On April 10, 2003, the Washington Post headlined, "Hussein's Baghdad Falls; U.S. Forces Move Triumphantly through Capital Streets, Cheered by Crowds Jubilant at End of Repressive Regime." Buried in the Baltimore Sun the same day was a story entitled, "On Arab TV, few tears shed over regime's fall; in a switch, U.S. forces shown controlling capital, being welcomed by mobs." Many small-town newspapers readily reported what their un-jaded reporters saw. The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Mississippi, for example, reported, "American soldiers were welcomed as liberators as the citizens in the streets told what U.S. military leaders were hesitant to formally proclaim: the end of Saddam's tyranny." The Greenville [South Carolina] News reported that young people chanted, "'Bush, Bush, thank you...' as American troops rolled through Saddam City in eastern Baghdad." Even the French, never fans of liberation (except their own) conceded the welcome. The day after the fall of Baghdad, French radio announced, "Saddam Hussein has fallen, his dictatorship too. The American soldiers are received in Baghdad as liberators."
There are several objective factors to indicate that Iraqis have more confidence in their future than do American pundits. On October 15, 2003, the Coalition Provisional Authority issued a new run of Iraqi currency. The Iraqi dinar floats freely and is traded not only across Iraq, but also in the currency markets of Beirut, Cairo, and Karachi. Upon the release of the new dinar, one dollar bought 2,000. When I witnessed a chaotic currency auction on the streets of Basra three months later, the dollar bought only 1,100 dinar. For the last several months, the rate has hovered between 1,400 to 1,450 dinars to the dollar. Simply put, national currencies do not strengthen when constituents have no faith in their future.
April 2004 was a month of chaos and scandal in Iraq. Pundits and left-wing politicians began openly calling for withdrawal. Iraqis, however, juxtaposed their April experience with what they had faced in previous wars and under Saddam, and concluded that things were not so dire. The Iraqi currency did lose 1.8 percent of its value in April, a relatively minor decline compared to the Canadian dollar, which lost 4.5 percent of its value relative to the U.S. dollar over the same time period. Why? Iraq is not in a free-fall; headlines or news coverage which implies as much is wrong. Why else would the Iraqi currency do so well?
Some journalists are dishonest; most are not. Working on the streets of Baghdad is difficult. Most correspondents hire local fixers to act as translators, assistants, and facilitators. Often, these bilingual Iraqis are asked to "go out and get quotes," while the Western correspondent writes his story in the Palestine or Sheraton hotel, or whatever other lodging he has acquired. Some news agencies have continued their relationships with their assigned fixers from before liberation. Others disproportionately hired fixers from Saddam's now-dissolved Ministry of Information.
Ultimately, however, it is the editors' choice of what stories to dedicate space to which shapes public opinion. Often, these stories involve violence and the result is far less confidence in our mission among Americans than among Iraqis. Objective indicators tell a far different story, though. On August 16, 2002, the Guardian published analysis which showed that one-in-six Iraqis fled their country during the reign of Saddam Hussein. Human-rights groups intervened as Iraqis smuggled themselves onto the shores of Australia and England. The French set up detainment camps for refugees in towns like Calais. Turkey and Greece cooperated to crackdown on people smuggling. In 2000-2001, while a visiting lecturer in Safavid and Qajar dynasty Iranian history at the University of Sulamani in northern Iraq, I lost ten percent of my class not to dull lectures, but rather to people smugglers and illegal immigration in Europe. This raises the question: If Iraq is in chaos, too dangerous for even the United Nations to function, then where are the refugees? Rather than fleeing, Iraqis are returning. They are opening restaurants, boutiques, hotels, and car dealerships across the country. One Iraqi told me he invested more than $200,000 in a new bottling plant. Another spent $550,000 on a restaurant. Generally speaking, people do not invest money when they have no confidence in the future. After 35 years of dictatorship, ethnic cleansing, and genocide, Iraqis see light at the end of the tunnel.
Antiwar activists, journalists, and progressive pundits paint a portrait of Iraq that does not represent reality. On June 2, Australia's largest-circulation daily, the Herald Sun analyzed press bias in Iraq. It took to task Australian politicians who had cried wolf prior to the war. Many of these politicians took their information from a report issued by International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War(IPPNW). The IPPNW report predicted that U.S.-led military activity in Iraq "could kill between 48,000 and 260,000 civilians and combatants in just the first three months of conflict.... Post-war health effects could take an additional 200,000 lives." Other groups predicted starvation and malnutrition affecting three million people, as well as a flood of refugees. None of this happened.
John Pilger, the Michael Moore of Great Britain, wrote that United Nations sanctions killed more than 60,000 Iraqi children each year. Civilian deaths continue. According to www.iraqbodycount.net, 11,300 Iraqi civilians have died since liberation. But, as the Herald Sun reported, "Iraqi doctors now say it was Saddam himself who killed the children with his greed and cruelty while killing thousands of adults, too, every year. So do the math. If Pilger was right, our liberation of Iraq has already saved well over 40,000 lives."
Not everything has gone well in Iraq. U.S. forces won a stunning military victory; diplomats botched the occupation. Interagency wrangling delayed establishment and hampered operation of a free Iraqi media outlet. Rather than put an Iraqi face on occupation, Bremer sought the spotlight. Many career diplomats treated President George W. Bush's goals for a democratic Iraq with disdain. Policy flip-flops confused Iraqis looking for consistency. Bremer's personal foibles, especially his tendency to treat mediators as adversaries and personalize politics, antagonized Iraqis. Because of his abuse of the Central Criminal Court of Iraq, some Iraqis now compare Bremer to Ayatollah Sadiq Khalkhali, hanging judge of the Iranian Revolution. Bremer's abuse of the judiciary has undermined Iraqis' faith in American promises of democracy as much as a small number of CIA contractors and the 800th Military Police Brigade undermined faith in American human-rights standards. The U.S. military failed to adequately secure the border; Bremer's decision last October to veto any contribution of Turkish troops to guard the non-Kurdish portion of the Syrian-Iraqi border has had profound consequence on the security of both Iraqis and American forces. Rather than encourage political parties which span ethnic and sectarian identification, the State Department and British Foreign Office did the opposite. Bremer's decision to hold party-slate elections rather than single-member constituency elections will push Iraq further toward the failed Lebanese model rather than true democracy. Ironically, Jordan abandoned nationwide party-slate elections because they disproportionately favored militant Islamists.
Winston Churchill once quipped, "Americans can always be counted on to do the right thing...after they have exhausted all other possibilities." American operations in Iraq have not gone smoothly, but there has been progress in Iraq, sometimes despite us, and sometimes because of us. Iraqis may complain about CPA policies, but behind the complaints they remain thankful that liberation created a template upon which they can build. There is a tendency in an election year to bash Bush fairly or unfairly. But, as the media paints a bleak picture with each bomb, fairness requires an answer to the question, "Where are the refugees?"
Michael Rubin is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.
Leader: Iranian Scientists are Working to Produce Fuel
June 21, 2004
Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting
Tehran -- Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Seyed Ali Khamenei on Monday castigated the United States and the Europeans for having stirred up a controversy over Iranian nuclear program.
In a meeting with University Jihad officials, the Supreme Leader said that nuclear technology is something and nuclear arms are something else.
"The Iranian nation, based on the logic of Islam, has never pursued access to nuclear arms. At the same time, it reserves its right to develop nuclear technology as a national goal," the Supreme Leader said.
"The big powers see their illegitimate profits in their economic, cultural, scientific dominance over other nations and pursue the strategy of preventing other countries from attaining scientific independence.
"The reason for the US propaganda against Iranian nuclear program is that the enemies of the Iranian nation and the government are worried about the fact that the nuclear technology has become indigenous in Iran.
Iranian scientists are working to produce fuel for Bushehr power plant," the Supreme Leader said.
"The United States accuses Iran of deceiving international community, whereas, it is well-known as symbol of hypocrisy. It is well-known for crimes and systematic scandals worldwide. The latest is the examples of mass killing in Iraq and Abu Ghraib prison. What the US has done in Iraq is a shame for the entire international community" The Supreme Leader said.
The Supreme Leader said that the US stirred up controversy over Iran's scientific progress to avenge the end to its hegemony over Iran after the victory of the Islamic Revolution.
"Iran does not need nuclear arms. Without nuclear arms, Iran has managed to defeat enemies of the nation, including the US, in the past 25 years by relying upon national solidarity. It does not like to acquire nuclear arms either," the Supreme Leader said.
"The former Soviet Union had stockpiles of nuclear arms, it collapsed. The Zionist regime has several hundred warheads, but, it has been driven to desperation by the stone throwing Palestinian campaigners.
Nuclear arms can not work," the Supreme Leader said. Iran is signatory to Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and Iranian nuclear program to produce fuel for Bushehr power plant is in line with the international convention, the Supreme Leader declared.
The Supreme Leader said that producing fuel for Bushehr power plant is what Iran needs to utilize Bushehr power plant, otherwise, Bushehr power plant would be left useless if the other countries refused delivery of fuel for whatever political or international reason.
"If the Europeans are concerned about Iran's access to nuclear arms. For the reasons above-mentioned, Iran will never go after nuclear arms. But, if they want to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear technology, Iran will not accept such an extortion," the Supreme Leader said.
dismissing the propaganda that Iran does not need nuclear energy for its oil reserves, the Supreme Leader said that oil will finish and it also has environmental problems, so Iran prefers to save oil for future and can not overlook nuclear energy for economic development.
"Enemies of the nation are looking for a day when Iranian oil reserves will be depleted and the nation will stretch its hands to them for help. It is unacceptable."
Reining in Iran
June 20, 2004
A recent e-mail circulated among Middle East policy types quoted a Persian saying, in reference to Iran's lousy foreign-policy skills. "The road you have taken will only lead to Turkestan," is how the saying was translated. Which means loosely, according to Persian sensibilities, you're heading the wrong way.
It's an apt description of Iran's intransigence in dealing with questions about its nuclear weapons ambitions. The problem for the rest of the world is what to do about it.
Iran has been duplicitous about its nuclear program for 18 years. Last October, France, Germany and Britain worked out a deal agreeing not to refer Iran's nuclear violations to the U.N. Security Council; in exchange Iran would stop all work on uranium enrichment and come clean about its nuclear activities. Iran also agreed to more intrusive inspections. This was widely seen -- especially after the discovery that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq -- as a triumph of diplomacy in dealing with nuclear proliferation issues.
It also highlights what can become the limits of that approach. Iran continued to play cat-and-mouse games with the International Atomic Energy Commission, which led the inspections, and seems to have continued work on a nuclear energy program that could lead to weapons development. By the end of last week, the IAEA passed a resolution submitted by France, Germany and Britain deploring Iran's lack of cooperation and demanding compliance.
The Europeans declined to set a deadline the United States requested for Iran to satisfy inspectors. Instead, the resolution gives Iran a "few months" to comply. If Iran refuses, it will have made a mockery of the U.N. Security Council and the IAEA. Iran has said it will not pull out of the nonproliferation treaty, but that treaty is hollow if its laws are meaningless.
A military threat to reinforce the resolution is clearly something to avoid with the region still in turmoil. On the other hand, there is a window of opportunity with Iran that we did not have with North Korea, where we learned after the fact about its nuclear capabilities. There is still time for deterrence, but Europe, and Russia, have to take a tougher stand.
Right now, the only option is more vigorous diplomacy that includes possible economic consequences for noncompliance and holds out inducements for dismantling any weapons capacity. A firmer deadline would be wise.
The Bush administration has appropriately allowed Europe to take the lead on dealing with Iran. It should support those efforts. Europe and the United Nations, meanwhile, need to grapple with the issue of when to draw a line in the sand. If the White House has seemed too quick to draw that line, the administration's critics around the world have been leery of drawing any lines at all. Ultimately, if they can't bring themselves to enforce international laws, countries like Iran will feel free to break them.
No Theocracy for Iraq
June 21, 2004
The following is an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government:
On a visit to the U.S., the president of the interim Iraqi government, Ghazi al-Yawar, said he does not believe that Iraq will become an Islamic theocracy like Iran:
I don't think so. Whoever knows the social background of the Iraqi people, they know that, yes, they are genuine believers in God. But it's a live-and-let-live society. What we want to have in Iraq is a society [in which] everybody can live comfortably. Everybody respects other people's private beliefs, but nobody should prevail [over] the others. We are a diversity of religions and ethnic groups which we are proud of because this is a positive sign.
Theocratic Iran is far from being a model for Iraq. In fact, the opposite is more likely to be the case. A democratic and pluralist Iraq, says President George W. Bush, will be a beacon of hope to the Iranian people:
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.
Iraqi interim President al-Yawar says he is optimistic that ethnically and religiously diverse Iraq will not break out in a civil war or become a haven for terrorists. But he expects violence from what he calls foreign and domestic enemies to increase as Iraq moves to full sovereignty on July 1st, and to national elections in the coming months. He says that Iraq can have a democratic future:
Why not? If we make all Iraqis feel that they are partners in this country; if all Iraqis know that they have a stake, an interest in the prosperity of Iraq; when we enhance the level of national awareness within the Iraqi people; when all Iraqis feel they are equal in front of the law of Iraq; definitely, we will be a democracy.
President al-Yawar says Iraqis are determined to have a free, democratic, federal Iraq. And he, like President Bush, says that such an Iraq will be a source of stability to the Middle East, which is very important for the rest of the world.
Behind 'The Terminal,' a true story
Christian Science Monitor - By Ethan Gilsdorf
Jun 21, 2004
PARIS As far as Steven Spielberg's new blockbuster, "The Terminal," is concerned, the experience of being trapped inside an airport for a year can lead to friendship, comic high jinks, and even romance.
But it's hard to see the life of Mehran Karimi Nasseri through Spielberg-colored glasses. Mr. Nasseri is the inspiration for the movie - a real-life Iranian refugee who arrived at Paris's Charles de Gaulle Airport in 1988 without a passport and without papers to enter another country. He's been stuck in Terminal One ever since. Like a lost and battered suitcase, he has been claimed by no one.
"The Terminal," which opened Friday in the United States, recounts the hardships of Viktor Navorski (Tom Hanks), a fictitious Balkan traveler stranded at New York's JFK Airport. His homeland erupts into civil war and his passport becomes void. He can't officially enter the US, but neither can he return to Eastern Europe. So he lives for months in the hermetically sealed microcosm of an airport concourse.
Some of Navorski's survival tactics are similar to Nasseri's, like bathing in the washroom, setting up a living area on a bench, and accepting food vouchers from airport workers. But where the movie has embellished the story with madcap adventures and a fling with a flight attendant played by Catherine Zeta-Jones, Nasseri's life consists mostly of reading. His most recent book is Hillary Clinton's autobiography. "Maybe I don't do it like Tom Hanks does it," he says. "My day is just like inside a library. Silence."
Lately, though, he's had more visitors than usual. This urban legend is already the subject of three other films, two of them documentaries. Reporters and tourists visit and talk with him all day at his makeshift press lounge. "Is this public entertainment?" Nasseri asks with a pained grimace. Yet, at the same time, "Alfred," as he is also known, seems to relish his celebrity.
"He is known throughout the world and people come to see him," says Valérie Chevillot, who can see Nasseri's encampment of assorted boxes, bags, and suitcases through the window of her Phénix clothing boutique. "But no one really knows him."
The original crisis began when Nasseri tried to travel to England from Belgium via France. But he lost papers declaring his status as an Iranian refugee. It's been confirmed that he was expelled from Iran in the 1970s, but the famous squatter has since rejected his heritage - even denied he can speak Farsi - under the belief that his Iranian background is the cause of cause of his troubles. No family members have ever contacted him. "Police say they don't live," he says cryptically.
Summarizing the details of Alfred's bureaucratic nightmare since then isn't easy. Nasseri waited at Charles de Gaulle while Britain, France, and Belgium played a shell game with his case for years. At one point, in a classic Catch-22, Belgian authorities said they had proof of his original refugee papers, but insisted he pick them up in person - yet wouldn't let him into the country. He has been jailed several times, and technically could be removed from the airport at any time.
After a lengthy legal battle waged by his lawyer, the French government finally gave him the necessary documents to reside in France and legally travel.
But he refuses to use them.
Nasseri is convinced he has no official identity. If he leaves France, he says, "There are soldiers there who shoot you dead." So he won't venture further than the first floor of the terminal. "I stay until I obtain my origin identity," he often repeats.
Airport shopkeepers don't seem bothered by the fuss over their famous neighbor. The cleaning staff warn that he'll charge a few euros if you take his picture. But otherwise, "he never asks anything of anyone," says Mossaoid Ben, who runs the Coccimarket next door.
Mr. Ben hypothesizes why Nasseri has remained in the dreary cocoon of the Charles de Gaulle building, a kind of doughnut-shaped, concrete UFO stranded out on the tarmac. "He'll have to pay rent elsewhere. Maybe that's why he's here."
Other theories abound as to why Nasseri persists with his self-imposed exile. "In my opinion, Alfred needs professional help to get him adapted to the outside world," says Alexis Kouros, an Iranian documentary filmmaker and doctor, who tried to help him leave for Brussels while making his film, "Waiting for Godot at de Gaulle," in 2000. "He used to be a normal person. By spending 15 years in that place, he has become institutionalized," says Mr. Kouros, who worries Alfred's mental health is worsening.
Nasseri, a pale and listless man, spends much of his day writing on sheets of blank white paper that have become a journal of his self-imposed captivity. "I write about what I hear on the news," he says. "Ray Charles dead; the elections in France." His reams of papers and books fill some dozen Lufthansa cargo boxes. "The only problem is I need a portable TV," he says.
In theory, he has plenty of money to buy one. DreamWorks, the company that made "The Terminal," paid Nasseri for the use of his story. But he doesn't have a bank account, so he can't access checks reportedly sent to his lawyer.
Nevertheless, he's enjoying the renewed burst of attention. "Gives me something more to read. It's better to read than about war, Iraq, terrorism," he says.
There's also a hint of optimism in Nasseri's voice. He talks wistfully of how he hopes to move to the United States or Canada. "I expect some change by October," he says. "In the end I will be happy."
Just shows that things are getting worse and worse in Iran.
Thanx for the pics
Iran would be an interesting place to visit if it could get back it's own culture. Freedom for the Persians bump.
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