Skip to comments.Iranian Alert -- July 15, 2004 [EST]-- IRAN LIVE THREAD -- "Americans for Regime Change in Iran"
Posted on 07/14/2004 8:59:55 PM PDT by DoctorZIn
The US media still largley 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.
July 12, 2004
Tech Central Station
Ralph Kinney Bennett
Iran is determined to build a nuclear bomb.
At present we must endure the familiar slow dance of warnings, denials, speculations, denials, revelations, denials, etc., etc., until the inevitable day when headlines announce the new member of the nuclear club.
The key is how quickly Iran can acquire or produce the highly enriched fuel necessary to produce effective nuclear weapons. It is buying nuclear power plant fuel (enriched 3 to 5 percent with uranium-235) from Russia, but acquiring weapons grade uranium (enriched 20 to 90 percent) is a little more difficult.
But Iran is also working and spending prodigiously to produce enriched uranium on its own. This enrichment program centers on how quickly Iran can build the tens of thousands of centrifuges necessary to separate the rare U-235 isotope from uranium hexafluoride gas (UF6). These centrifuges are costly, complex, precision-made devices incorporating exotic materials such as super strong maraging steel. It takes years to build them in sufficient numbers, test them adequately and marshal them into the precisely plumbed formations (called cascades) that can safely and efficiently produce significant amounts of enriched uranium.
A typical "cascade hall" is a vast room, its concrete floor filled with what would appear to be thousands of gleaming new stove pipes stacked vertically side-by-side in long rows. Each of these slim metal cylinders, about six-and-a-half feet tall and the approximate girth of a telephone pole, is a vacuum chamber containing within it another cylinder called a rotor tube.
At the bottom of each inner cylinder is an electric motor, which turns the rotor tube at tremendous speeds. This inner rotor tube itself is balanced on a single friction point -- a small lubricated "needle" bearing. A series of ring magnets holds the top of the tube in place. Thus, these ingenious devices rotate in an almost friction-free environment at speeds around 1500 revolutions per second.
They run so fast and create such centrifugal force that they actually flex like bow strings along their axes (special joints or "bellows" on the rotor tubes control this flexing). These centrifuges, using relatively little electrical power, can run continuously for a decade with no maintenance. Vast banks of interconnected centrifuges, tens of thousands of them, run night and day slowly producing small amounts of enriched U-235.
The tremendous centrifugal force pushes heavier gas molecules (U-238) out to the walls of the rotor tube, while the lighter U-235 molecules tend to collect close to the shaft at the center. This lighter stream of U-235 is drawn off, joining the streams from thousands of other centrifuges to slowly build a supply of enriched gas that can eventually be incorporated into nuclear fuel or -- at advanced stages of enrichment -- fissile material for weapons.
At a secret facility near the Iranian city of Natanz, the Tehran government is building a series of vast cascade halls, designed to eventually hold 50,000 or more centrifuges. Iran is going to the trouble of building these cascade halls underground in thickly walled steel reinforced concrete buildings, an attempt to protect them from aerial attack. Even the underground entrance tunnels to these buildings have been designed with a series of baffles to protect against the direct entry of "smart bombs" or cruise missiles.
The "hardening" of the Natanz facility is further evidence that Iran learned long ago the lesson of Osirak. Iraq's Osirak nuclear reactor was the heart of that nation's Tuwaitha Nuclear Center, on the outskirts of Baghdad, when the Israeli Air Force destroyed it in a daring raid back in 1981. The raid set back Iraq's nuclear weapons program and forced it to begin dispersing its nuclear assets to sites throughout the country.
In fact, the ambitious building project at Natanz, about 90 miles north of Isfahan, is just the latest known addition to Iran's large and sophisticated nuclear facilities. There is a large underground nuclear facility, including uranium enrichment, hidden deep in the Albroz Mountains just north of Teheran. What was once a backward mountain village, Moallen Kalayeh, near the site, is now home to hundreds of scientists, technical experts and security people.
Some intelligence reports indicate that in addition to centrifuge separation work at Moallen Kalayeh, Iranian scientists are working with a more exotic but potentially safer, faster and more productive method of uranium enrichment involving AVLIS (atomic vapor laser isotope separator). AVLIS equipment was reportedly shipped to Iran by Russia a year ago.
This advanced system, first developed at the U.S. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, uses a precisely tuned laser beam to search out U-235 isotopes in a stream of vaporized uranium passing through a vacuum chamber. The "optically excited" U-235 isotopes are then separated and collected.
After authorizing a plant scale AVLIS system to show sustained performance, the United States Enrichment Corporation (USEC), the government-created but now privatized company that oversees all U.S. uranium enrichment programs, canceled the program for economic reasons in 1999. Russia, however, continued to develop and refine its own AVLIS system -- the one reportedly sent to Iran.
(It is interesting to note that the United States has never used the centrifuge method of uranium enrichment, but has relied on the old, slow, but proven method of gaseous diffusion at two large plants in Piketon, Ohio, and Paducah, Kentucky. However, the U.S. is now planning to build two pilot centrifuge cascade plants at Piketon and at Eunice, New Mexico.)
In addition to the underground cascade halls at Natanz, there are other buildings in more advanced stages of construction where new centrifuges will be assembled and tested using components made at sites scattered throughout Iran. The assembly of centrifuges is an exacting and complicated process. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reports that a pilot plant of 160 centrifuges in a small cascade has been in operation at Natanz for more than a year. IAEA officials reportedly saw the components for 1000 more centrifuges at the same location.
Cascades of the size being built at Natanz are an immense undertaking of a sophistication difficult for the average person to grasp. Only a dozen nations have the wherewithal to undertake such a program. Japan, for instance, continues to have great difficulty in building and operating large-scale centrifuge cascades despite its renowned technological capabilities.
Iran claims that it needs plants the size of Natanz to provide low-enriched fuel for the nuclear reactors it plans to build in order to supply the country with 6,000 megawatts of electricity. If the Natanz plants were operating full out with 50,000 centrifuges, say some experts, they would provide not quite half of the fuel necessary for the contemplated power reactors. Iran is buying low-enriched fuel from Russia to augment its needs, but there may well be other large cascade facilities under construction.
The significance of such large centrifuge plants is this: A relatively small fraction of such a plant's centrifuges, say 5000, could be used to produce enough highly enriched uranium to build three or four weapons a year. Dr. David Albright, of the Institute for Science and International Security, notes that "if a country can make an enrichment plant of this size, it can make enough machines to outfit another secret enrichment plant" for nuclear weapons. Given the present restrictions Iran has placed on IAEA inspectors, such a plant would be impossible to detect.
Perhaps one is already in operation.
Any expansion of the nuclear club must give one pause. But the fact that the government of Iran is the true center of an anti-Western, Jihadist (if you will) movement of a peculiarly corrosive and hate-filled nature, makes its fixation on the acquisition of nuclear weapons all the more troubling and dangerous.
Khatami: Iran Never Relinquish its Right to Enrich Uranium
July 14, 2004
Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting
Tehran -- President Mohammad Khatami said on Wednesday that enrichment of uranium for civilian application is Iran's legitimate right and Iran will never relinquish its right recognized by Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
Speaking at a press conference after a cabinet meeting, he said that political pressures are being exerted on International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to disrupt the normal procedure of closing Iran's case with IAEA board of governors.
Iranian case with the board of governors was expected to be closed in mid June, but, the three European states whose foreign ministers had undertaken to help end the case in return for Iran's signing up to additional protocol to NPT drafted a resolution to the board of governors totally different from the context of the Tehran declaration they signed on October 21, 2003.
"They (European partners) had asked Iran to voluntarily suspend uranium enrichment and they will seek to close Iranian case with IAEA.
We did so, but, they did not," President Khatami said.
"After we saw they did not keep their promise, we also ended the suspension of uranium enrichment," President Khatami said.
Iran enriches uranium to produce fuel for Bushehr power plant. "The European friends were expected to select better phrases in the draft resolution with IAEA board of governors about Iran.
Iran arranged subsequent visits to the nuclear sites of IAEA inspectors, provided them with information to remove the technical problems with the international agency to see Iranian case to be closed.
It is unfortunate that we did not get the result," President Khatami said.
"The fact is that the Iranian nation will not agree to see its right of access to nuclear technology denied," he said. "We will go ahead with cooperation with the international agency and negotiations with our European friends," President Khatami said.
Asked when Foreign Ministers of France, Britain and Germany will come to Iran? President Khatami said that they are not scheduled to come to Iran.
IRAQ REQUIRES A HELPING HAND TO KEEP IT AFLOAT
by Amir Taheri
July 14, 2004
Special to Gulf News
Judging by diplomatic statements the whole world is now eager to help Iraq. "We will do all that we can to help Iraq," says German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer who had been in the forefront of the campaign to keep Saddam Hussain in power before liberation.
"The international community must come together and help Iraq," echoes France's new Foreign Minister Michel Barnier, signalling a possible change of course in Paris.
Other opponents of the liberation of Iraq have expressed similar sentiments. "Helping Iraq" was a key pledge in a communiqué issued by Iran and Syria at the end of Syrian President Bashar Al Assad's visit to Tehran this week.
Russia, China and India, too, have also indicated readiness to help Iraq. But how sincere are these promises? We shall not know the answer until concrete measures are taken to help Iraq stabilise and speed up rebuilding its economy.
The first step towards helping Iraq is for those countries that have refused to recognise the interim government to do so immediately. This should be followed by the reopening of embassies in Baghdad.
The interim Iraqi government should be allowed to reclaim that country's embassies abroad and to reopen them immediately. These moves will send a signal that everyone now accepts that Iraq has a new legitimate government. Next, those who say they want to help Iraq must stop their disinformation campaign in that country.
It is no secret that the bulk of rumours spread in Iraq each day come from Arab, especially Egyptian and Jordanian, intelligence services. Having shut themselves out of Iraq by an ambivalent attitude last year, Egypt and Jordan, along with other Arab states, are compounding their error by waging psychological war against the new leadership in Baghdad.
A more dramatic version of that psychological war can be observed in the Arab satellite television's coverage of Iraq. These channels, include Al Jazeera of Qatar, or the state owned Al Alam in Iran; and, one must assume, reflect the policies of their governments.
In the very least, these channels should stop broadcasting the video messages of terror groups killing people in Iraq. This does not mean censorship but proper journalistic treatment of material that must not be aired unedited and without comments to put it in context.
The claim of impartiality cannot justify showing videos of beheadings as an act of "resistance to occupation". Another way to help is for Iraq's neighbours, especially Iran and Syria, to stop distributing money and arms to political loose cannons and remnants of he fallen regime. The new Iraqi government says it has "conclusive evidence" that both these countries are involved in fomenting trouble in Iraq.
Those who say they want to help can also contribute troops. Iraq is likely to need a foreign military presence for another three years. Regardless of who wins the next presidential election, the US is certain to provide the bulk of the troops. But others could help. One way to do so could be described as "the Zapatero way".
Spain's new Socialist Prime Minister Jose Luis Zapatero won the election with a promise of withdrawing Spanish troops from Iraq. Now that he is in power he realises the consequences of that policy. He cannot, of course, eat humble tapas. But he is trying to mend things by sending Spanish troops to Afghanistan and Haiti to replace Americans, thus enabling the Pentagon to have more reserves for Iraq.
Germany and France could adopt similar positions, and send troops to replace GIs in some of the 22 peacekeeping missions in which the US shoulders the main burden. A good place to start would be in the heart of Europe, in the Balkans.
The Arab states, too, could adopt the "Zapatero way". Iraqis do not want Arab, or for that matter Turkish, troops on their soil. But Egypt and Jordan, and other Muslim states, notably Turkey, Pakistan and Malaysia, could contribute troops to replace Americans in several African and Asian theatres.
Nato could also help by stopping to treat Iraq as a leper. Iraq needs Nato's help in training the new Iraqi army and police force. This can best be done inside Iraq. French President Jacques Chirac's attempt at preventing this is bad for both Iraq and Nato. Another way to help Iraq is for the OPEC members to allow the newly-liberated nation to export more oil than allowed under its official quota.
Current Iraqi production averages at 1.8 million barrels a day. This could quickly be increased to three million, and Iraq has the potential to reach seven million barrels a day within five years.
Even then, taking into account rising global demand, the price of oil per barrel is likely to stay above the $25 mark regarded by OPEC as ideal. There is no reason why Iraq, which has a large population, and needs the money, should have the same quota as the smaller OPEC members that do not need so much cash.
Much has been said about Iraq's missing billions. By some estimates the fallen regime has hidden some $30 billion of Iraqi money in tax havens around the globe. At least another $10 billion has disappeared in corrupt deals involving the United Nations. The US should take the lead in tracing the missing money and help return it to the Iraqis.
Iraq should also get direct control of the estimated $14 billion that remains in an escrow account managed by the UN.
The measures mentioned above involve no significant financial cost to countries expected to take them. But there are other measures that involve serious money. The first concerns the American aid package of $18 billion. If properly spent this could give a boost to the Iraqi economy which is showing signs of revival.
So far, however, the main part of disbursement has gone to legal fees, consultancies and managerial costs that benefit non-Iraqi, mostly American, businesses.
The package should be redesigned away from big projects that might bear fruit in several years. What Iraq urgently needs is thousands of small and medium projects to improve the average citizen's life quickly.
At this time in Iraq, small is not only beautiful but good politics. It is also good politics for the US to give the Iraqis a real say in how and where the aid is used. More important, perhaps, is the need to solve Iraq's debt problem.
Iraq's foreign debt is around $120 billion, a huge burden for a crippled economy. Of these some $22 billion consists of arrears accumulated by Saddam over the past 13 years. A further $20 billion is owed to the Paris Club countries, notably Russia, France, Germany, Britain and the US. The Gulf states account for a further $60 billion of Iraqi debt.
The rest is owed to other countries and banks. As things stand Iraq would have to allocate a third of its oil income to servicing its debt. This translates into slower economic growth and cuts in social services. The Arab part of the Iraqi debt consists of the money given to Iraq during its eight-year war against Iran. It would be both honourable and good politics to write off that debt.
The Paris Club should write off at least 60 per cent of the debt. The US has asked for a total write-off, while Russia proposes 50 per cent. France, however, says it would not go beyond 30 per cent. The total Iraqi debt should be brought down to $50 billion, including the arrears, with a two to three years grace period and realistic rescheduling.
Iraq, with the world's second largest oil reserves, is a good medium and long-term investment for its creditors. Donors' conferences held during the past year have come up with a number of promises, but none has materialised so far.
What is needed is an implementation schedule to ensure that at least part of the $5 billion pledged in Madrid is made available this year. Helping stabilise Iraq and put it back on the path of economic development and democratisation is a good investment in reshaping the Middle East, indeed the whole Muslim world, ensuring oil supplies, and enhancing the security of the Western democracies.
Amir Taheri, Iranian author and journalist, is based in Europe. He can be contacted at email@example.com
I'll tell you exactly what our government is thinking: Iraq and Afghansitan must be secure, progressive, and secular democracies before anything major can happen in Iran. Any kind of major upheaval in Iran may cause turmoil in the region if Iraq and Afghanistan aren't established and independent democratic countries. And due to history of problems in Iran, it's best to just "allow the regime to collapse".
But, anyone who thinks the regime is just going to "collapse", is living in outerspace. The regime has a fiercly loyal 15% backing - volunteer basiji who'd kill themselves before they'll allow demonstrations in the streets, hezbullah who are well-funded by the regime and know they will disappear if the regime goes, neighboring countries that fear a secular democratic Iran will be horrendous for their own regimes, revolutionary guards that owe alligance to the regime, Bazaris who receive their bread and butter from the regime, international nations [europeans, russians, japanese, chinese who are only worried about Iran's oil, and the media who simply don't give a flop - since this is a pro-Freedom movement.
Unless there is mass covert backing any form of change in government is impossible. The reigning hard-liners will never succumb, nor will they ever reform.
My Iranian friend put it best when he said "The Mullahs are not like the Shah, they don't think morally, ethically, or principally; they will kill each and every individual that threatens their stay in power." <--- in reference to the Shah refusing to allow executions of most of the Islamists in the country.
Canada recalls its ambassador in Iran
Iranian regime in a fix over fashion
TEHRAN, July 13 (AFP) - A fresh crackdown by Iranian police targeting insufficiently veiled women has prompted a serious debate within the Islamic republic's now-dominant conservatives over how to tackle what they see as an erosion of Islamic values.
For the past few weeks police have been carrying out a series of operations across the capital Tehran, rounding up large numbers of young women sporting flimsy headscarves, three-quarter length trousers and shape-revealing coats.
Witnesses said the detainees -- picked up in parks, fast food restaurants or from sidewalks -- have been briefly hauled into police stations and subjected to lessons on morality before being freed.
While the crackdown is nothing new -- police regularly stage such operations at the outset of the hot summer months -- residents are nevertheless questioning whether it is a reflection the recent changes in Iran's political landscape and a sign of things to come.
While a reformist, Mohammad Khatami, is still president, his moderate allies were ousted from parliament after they were mostly barred from contesting February's elections.
Many fear that will entail undoing one of the few achievements of Khatami -- more cultural and social freedoms demanded by a population where around two-thirds of people are under the age of 30.
But a look at the comments from top officials in the conservative regime and the closely-controlled media points to a searching debate over how far authorities should be prepared to go.
Taking a no-nonsense stance are figures such as Ayatollah Noori Hamedani, a top cleric based in the religious nerve centre of Qom and considered a "source of emulation" within Shiite Islam.
Quoted by the Etemad newspaper, the cleric called for the creation of a "Ministry for Fostering Virtue and Suppressing Vice".
"In Saudi Arabia, this office has such power that even the king and the ministers are under its eye, and the same should be the case in our country too," he was quoted as saying.
"I learn from the media about virtues being abandoned and vice being committed, and why should this happen in a country where so many people have been martyred so that Islamic values can be implemented," he lamented.
"These are apocalyptic signs."Such comments have been backed up with calls from a number of hardline deputies and extremist newspapers.
Accoring to the Ya-Lesarat paper, linked to the hardline Ansar Hezbollah group, concrete measures deemed necessary include the impounding of cars and confiscation of driving licenses of women behind the wheel who flout rules forbidding the display of hair or the wearing of cosmetics.
Since the 1979 Islamic revolution, all post-pubescent females are required to wear the veil and a long coat that conceals their bodily form.
But some conservatives appear uneasy about taking the crackdown too far, with even the right-wing Ressalat newspaper asserting the problem on enforcing the dress code on women was "complicated" in a modern, urban environment.
"The declarations of certain deputies regarding poorly-veiled women are immature," it said in a commentary this week."The police intervention over the past few weeks has not been based on a study on the problem of the veil, and the best way forward for police is not to intervene against women, but against the suppliers of skimpy clothing.
Otherwise, it warned, "every intervention by official organs like the parliament will have the reverse effect."And top conservatives, such as the deputy head of parliament Mohammad Reza Bahonar, have also warned against adopting an overly harsh approach.
For Ali Akbar Nategh Noori, another top conservative close to the supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, "tough measures" also lead to the regime being branded as "Taliban".
The final word comes down to Khamenei himself -- and last week he made it clear that when it comes to fashion, a diversity of styles was here to stay.
"When I talk about a cultural invasion, some people think I am talking about boys with long hair. They think I am against such long hair. But this is not cultural invasion," he was quoted as saying by the Shargh newspaper.
"Cultural imitation is of course a big danger, but this should not be mistakenly seen as me being against fashion, variety or change in lifestyles," Khamenei asserted.
But as for what types of fashions were permitted, he only said "you should be careful about taking European models... you should design your own."
Summary of other Iran current affairs news
LONDON, July 14 (IranMania) - Iranian MP of Shahre Kurd said that the 7th Parliament is opposed to the establishment of branches of any foreign university in Iran - Iran Daily
- Studies show that 53% of 84 gas stations in Tehran are not standard and their heating systems have serious flaws Abrar Eqtesadi
- On the sidelines of the 28th session of the world heritage committee in China, Iranian and foreign specialists from such international bodies as UNESCO announced the formation of an international committee to restore the ancient Bam Citadel -Abrar Eqtesadi
- According to Irans Minister of Health 25% of the child births in Iran are unwanted - Shargh Newspaper
- Visiting Singaporean Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong was seen off Tuesday by President Seyed Mohammad Khatami at Sa`adabad historical-cultural Complex - IRNA
- President Mohammad Khatami and his Egyptian counterpart Hosni Mubarak discussed regional developments over phone on Tuesday - IRNA
- Tose'eh newspaper Managing Director Qoli Sheykhi appeared before the Administrative and Media Court to be indicted and officially notified of his charges. He is charged with spreading lies with the intent to distort public opinion - Shargh
- Turkey and Iran would sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) during Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's visit to Iran - Anadolu Agency
- Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi arrived Wednesday morning to attend the 7th Iran-Tunisia joint economic commission session - IRNA
- The cabinet on Tuesday authorized Ministry of Economy and Finance to sign agreements with the African countries of Niger and Nigeria on investment - IRNA
LABOR: Judiciary Charges Arrested Teachers Association Leaders with Anti-Regime Activities
The Islamic revolutionary court charged secretary-general and spokesman of the teachers trade union with anti-regime activities. Conservative Majles MPs began a behind-the-scenes effort to get Mahmud Beheshti-Langeroudi and Ali-Asgar Zati released, as the union called off a demonstration in front of Majles.
Radio Farda Newsroom
July 13, 2004 - Seventy-two hours after their arrest, the judiciary slapped secretary general of the trade association of teachers Mahmud Beheshti-Langaroudi and the associations spokesperson Ali-Asghar Zati of anti-government activities.
Ali Pourseleyman, central council member of Irans teachers organization, another teachers group, tells Radio Fardas broadcaster Farin Asemi that as result of talks with conservative Majles MPs Hajji Babai and Noee Eqdam, a protest demonstration by teachers in front of the Majles has been cancelled. Mr. Hajji Babai, who is a member of the Majles education committee has promised to resolve the current problem through peaceful means, he says.
He says now that the charges against the two arrested teachers union leaders have been announced, they should be released until their trial. Their detention is unconstitutional, he adds, since no charges against them has been proved in court. He appeals to the office for legal protection of teachers in the education ministry not to leave these two teachers alone.
This just in from a student inside of Iran...
There are reports speaking about Iranian support to crash/harm the Yemeni government.
The fanatic government of Iran invited the former president of Yemen (Hossein al-hoothi) and his son to Qom in south of Tehran and they are coordinating an attack or coup against Ali Abdullah Sallah the president of Yemen.
It sounds like a plot against the government of Yemen which is an ally of the USA in war against terrorism.
I will let you know more later."
It is a very interesting predicament. I hope that soon there will be stability in Afghanistan and Iraq allowing some sort of break through in Iran. One thing I can say for sure, regardless of the need, you can't please all the people all the time.
Bush, Kerry Have Different Approaches to Iran
July 14, 2004
WASHINGTON -- U.S. policy toward Iran, whose nuclear policies and involvement in Iraq fly in the face of U.S. interests, could hinge on the outcome of the November presidential election.
If re-elected, President Bush is expected to pursue more aggressive support for factions that want to topple hard-line leaders in Iran while Democratic challenger John Kerry is more inclined toward engaging the Islamic republic.
"I think you would see us continue a very hard line on the nonproliferation issue and support for dissident elements inside Iran would pick up," a senior administration official said. He ruled out military action.
Added another Republican insider said, "My understanding is that this tough view is one that has been expressed by the president himself on a number of occasions lately."
Reflecting a different approach, Kerry foreign policy adviser Rand Beers told Reuters in an interview: "Yes, we would be prepared to talk to Iran."
He said the Democratic candidate is "not naive" and recognizes deep differences between the two countries. These include nuclear proliferation, the Arab-Israeli conflict and policy toward Iran's neighbor Iraq.
"But we do think there are some issues about which we can talk and can move forward and hopefully those issues would represent building blocks on which to base a broader degree of cooperation," Beers said.
Relations between the two countries are still overshadowed by bitterness from the Islamic revolution 25 years ago, when radicals overran the U.S. embassy and took Americans hostage.
Bush has taken a hard line, branding Iran part of an "axis of evil" with North Korea and prewar Iraq as it seeks to quash any nuclear weapons ambitions it may have. He also accuses the Islamic republic of supporting terrorism, based largely on its support for radical Palestinian groups.
Immediately after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on America, the White House began a series of discreet contacts with Tehran. Iran, which is predominantly Shi'ite Muslim, roundly condemned the attacks by the Sunni militants of al Qaeda.
But the contacts, which had limited effect, are believed to have ended in May 2003, when U.S. officials said that al Qaeda operatives in Iran helped plan a bombing in Saudi Arabia.
The Bush administration then changed tack and sought out dissident Iranians abroad and, to a lesser extent, at home, to try to put pressure on Tehran's ruling clerics.
More recently, it has brushed off as ineffective European efforts to persuade Iran to end its questionable nuclear activities. Washington now wants the U.N. nuclear watchdog -- the International Atomic Energy Agency -- to bring Iran before the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions.
Tehran says its nuclear program is peaceful and aimed solely at meeting growing domestic energy needs.
Beers agreed the European initiative was unlikely to resolve the Iranian nuclear problem.
But he insisted, "this is not an issue on which we can afford to step back and point fingers" and refuse to talk to Iran as Bush did for three years with North Korea.
"We have to find ways in which to engage with Iran" in a multi-party format that could also include direct U.S.-Iranian talks, he said.
Kerry in a June speech proposed to "call (Iran's) bluff."
"The Iranians claim they're simply trying to meet domestic energy needs. We should call their bluff, and organize a group of states that will offer the nuclear fuel they need for peaceful purposes and take back the spent fuel so they can't divert it to build a weapon," he said.
"If Iran does not accept this, their true motivations will be clear," he said.
Asylum Seeker Speaks of His Fears for the Future
July 15, 2004
An asylum seeker living in Coventry who sewed his eyes, ears and mouth up in a bid to escape deportation has finally been ordered to return to his native Iran - where he faces the death penalty.
Shahin Porfohe broke Islamic law in Iran by having a homosexual affair. He faces 74 whiplashes and death by stoning on his return.
But despite a series of desperate appeals to the Immigration Service and the Home Office, the 24-year-old has been refused asylum.
Since arriving in Coventry in 2002, Mr Porfohe claims he has received no benefits or housing. He has lodged with fellow countrymen and done odd jobs to pay for his keep.
Speaking exclusively to The Observer, Mr Porfohe said he had no happy memories from his time in Coventry as he has spent the time living in fear of being forced to return to Iran.
Last year, when his first appeal against deportation was thrown out, he sewed up his eyes, ears and mouth for a week in protest.
He then filed a fresh asylum application - which was turned down - and further appeal was also thrown out.
Earlier this month Mr Porfohe finally received the letter from the Home Office he had been dreading.
It stated: Your application has been refused and you no longer qualify for support under section 95 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999. You must now leave the UK.
Mr Porfohe described his two year wait for a final decision on his asylum application as a time bomb.
"I am feeling like I am standing on a bomb waiting for when it's going to explode," he said.
"What can I do?
The Iranian left his home, business, mother and three sisters and travelled to the UK by lorry from Iran after his two brothers paid the fee.
He travelled alone in the back of the lorry for 12 days before arriving in England.
We stopped at the side of road and the driver told me to go," he said.
It was an open road and I did not now where I was or which country I was in.
I couldnt understand his language so I walked and found a police station and they gave me instructions to get to London and the address of the Home Office.
He was then sent to Coventry and found refuge with Iranians already living in the city.
During his stay, he has had to visit the Immigration Service office in Solihull each week while being banned from getting a job.
I was not just leaving my background for a better life - they want to kill me," he said.
When I came here I thought it would be better.
"If they send me back I will be killed.
The Home Office is not helpful to the refugee - the newspapers say they are, but they are not.
"I am living off friends from my country. It is not right.
A Home Office spokesman said: Once asylum seekers have exhausted all avenues then they are liable for removal from the country as soon as possible.
They are expected to leave voluntarily, but there is a system of removals where flights will be booked and they will be removed from the country.
Under the Geneva Convention an asylum seeker must prove a well founded fear of persecution for their race, religion or social group - which can include sexuality.
Iranian Opposition Group's Future In Balance
July 13, 2004
The Financial Times
Gareth Smyth and Mohsen Asgari in Tehran
A leading Iraqi politician reassured Iran this week that some 4,000 members of an Iranian opposition group detained by US forces in Iraq as prisoners of war had been recategorised by the new Iraqi government as refugees.
The reclassification could facilitate their repatriation to Iran, where they face an uncertain fate. The return of the Iranian opponents is being sought by Tehran but might be resisted by parts of the US administration.
Abdulaziz Hakim, leader of one of Iraq's leading Shia Muslim parties, said he expected the new Iraqi government to expel the members of the group, known as the Mujahidin-e Khalq (MEK).
However, US treatment of the group, which is listed as a "foreign terrorist organisation" by the State Department, has been shrouded in secrecy.
Iran's leadership wants to try the MEK's leaders for attacks that have killed hundreds of Iranian officials and badly wounded Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, then president and now supreme leader, in a 1981 bombing.
When US forces overran the MEK's three camps inside Iraq last year, they impounded the group's Iraqi-supplied heavy weapons - including tanks - and gathered 4,000 members in camp Ashraf, the group's headquarters 100km north of Baghdad.
But US forces allowed MEK to maintain its own discipline and organisation - in stark contrast to conditions at detention centres such as Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo Bay - sparking speculation that the Pentagon wanted to use the group as a weapon against Iran, or as a bargaining chip to secure al-Qaeda figures held by Tehran.
Iraq's Governing Council voted last year to expel the MEK but was overruled by Paul Bremer, then the chief US administrator.
US authorities in Baghdad recently made no response to repeated Financial Times inquiries about the MEK.
A US official in Washington denied there had ever been plans in the Pentagon to "utilise MEK members in any capacity, especially as a future opposition organisation in Iran".
But a European diplomat told the FT that the Pentagon had "long toyed with the idea of using the MEK in some way against the regime in Iran".
And an adviser to a former Governing Council member suggested that those in Iraq's new government who wanted to expel the MEK had yet to win the battle.
Last year Tehran gave the US names of the senior MEK members, including its leader, Masoud Rajavi, it wants handed over, but it has also encouraged ordinary MEK members to return in peace.
Officials with the MEK in Europe have protested loudly at attempts to return any of the detained to Iran. They insist they would face torture or execution.
Rafat Yazdan-Parast of Nejat, a group established in Tehran by relatives of MEK members in Ashraf, denied this.
She said that 20 people who had returned to Iran after escaping from Ashraf had been debriefed over 24 hours by security officers at a Tehran hotel and then allowed to rejoin their families.
Kamand Ali Azizi, a man of 34 and a former MEK fighter, said he escaped from Ashraf in March: "There were towers with armed MEK guards, and an American military car doing the rounds outside the fence. We climbed the wire and then dropped, and eventually got home via Baghdad."
Mr Azizi said that 1000 of the 4000 in Ashraf were held separately by the MEK because they had expressed a wish to return to Iran.
He said the US troops at Ashraf had no name tags on their uniforms - suggesting they were special forces.
Editorial: Iran's insult to justice
Zahra Kazemi was a Canadian photographer who was bundled off to jail after being arrested taking pictures outside Tehran's notorious Evin prison. Held in secret, she was fatally injured by a blow to the head. Iran lied about the cause of death. Then it thwarted a post-mortem. Now her alleged killer is to be tried in secret.
Canadian observers will not be allowed to attend the trial Saturday of an intelligence agent charged with her "semi-intentional murder" a year ago.
Indeed, President Mohammad Khatami has declared the agent to be not guilty, and piously hopes the court will identify the true culprit.
This is a brutal travesty of justice and Prime Minister Paul Martin is right to react strongly.
As a visibly angry Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham said yesterday, "justice will not be done behind closed doors in Iran."
Apart from recalling our ambassador, for the second time, and hauling in the Iranian ambassador for a tongue-lashing, Graham is pondering his next steps.
They should include raising a fuss at the United Nations and in international court. Making it tougher for Iranian officials to come here. Curbing our brisk trade in Persian carpets, caviar and pistachio nuts. And reconsidering hosting students.
Iranian officialdom has shown nothing but contempt for Canada. Let's return the compliment.\
Bush, Kerry Have Different Approaches to Iran
July 14, 2004
Shiite leadership clash in Iran, Iraq
By HAMZA HENDAWI
ASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER
Thursday, July 15, 2004 · Last updated 1:39 a.m. PT
BAGHDAD, Iraq -- For centuries, enmity between Arabs and Persians has shaped much of the Middle East - from the Arab conquests of the 7th century to the Iraq-Iran war of the 1980s.
Now, with Shiites empowered in postwar Iraq, the gloves are off again. But this time, the antagonists are the Shiite ayatollahs of Iraq, a mainly Arab country, and Iran, formerly Persia.
At stake is the leadership of the world's estimated 170 million Shiites - and the outcome will have profound consequences not only for the two nations but the entire Islamic faith.
At the heart of the conflict is a rivalry between the holy cities of Najaf in Iraq and Qom in neighboring Iran.
A victory by Najaf's "quietist" school of thought, which places a cleric's spiritual calling ahead of involvement in politics, could deal a serious blow to the claim of legitimacy by Iran's ruling clergy. It could also provide a counter-ideology to the militant political Islam adopted by some Sunni Muslim groups in the region and which are behind the terrorism of recent years.
Iraq's Shiites have emerged from decades of oppression by a Sunni Arab minority when Saddam Hussein's regime fell 15 months ago. As the majority, they are now poised to dominate the country politically after a general election due in January.
Najaf's senior clerics refuse to be publicly drawn into the Najaf-Qom rivalry, but they don't conceal the nationalist undertones involved.
"It is the Shiites of Iraq who spread the faith in Iran," boasts Mohammed Hussein al-Hakim, son of Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Said Hakim, one of Najaf's four top clerics. "Shiites appeared in Iraq centuries before there were any Shiites in Iran."
Similar sentiments are indirectly reflected by ordinary Iraqis, eyeing with suspicion Shiite political parties known to be closely linked to Iran or created there by politicians who found refuge there during Saddam's 23-year rule.
"For hundreds of years, the Iranians prevented Arabs from assuming the Shiite marjaiyah (top clerics)," laments Qays al-Khaz'ali, an aide of young cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, whose militant movement has gained much of its popularity because of his repeated boasts of Arab descent and scathing criticism of Iranian-backed politicians and groups.
Iraq is the 7th century birthplace of Shiism, a faith born of a dispute over who succeeds the Prophet Muhammad after his death. It's home to the sect's most revered sites in Najaf and Karbala south of Baghdad and Samarra to the north of the Iraqi capital.
Shiites, however, did not become a majority in Iraq until the 19th century through massive conversions of Arab tribesmen frustrated by the injustices of the Sunni Ottoman rulers.
In Iran, Shiism became the official religion early in the 16th century but Shiites only became a majority in the 1800s. Ideological differences between the two communities always existed, but they were driven farther apart in the 20th century.
During 35 years of Saddam's Baath party rule, Iraq's Shiite majority was brutally oppressed and tens of thousands of Shiites, including clerics, were killed, jailed or deported.
Najaf's senior clerics were targeted. Those who dared to speak out against Saddam were killed. Keeping quiet meant survival, but also diminished influence and empty coffers.
In the meantime, Qom gained pre-eminence and Iran emerged as the world's bastion of Shiism after the 1979 Islamic revolution. It suited Saddam to see Najaf fade into insignificance, but the fall of his regime signaled the city's rebirth and the start of its journey to replace Qom as the world's foremost seat of Shiite learning.
Najaf's seminaries are filled with students again and the city's top clerics are renewing links with followers and loyal clerics across the world. Najaf's independence and energy is a far cry from Qom under the rule of the clergy.
"Qom seminaries have become very politicized," Iranian analyst Mohammad Hosseini said in Tehran. "Qom is the center of Iranian Shiite theology. Najaf is the center of global Shiism."
Reducing Qom to playing second fiddle to Najaf is not a purely religious matter.
Qom cleric and writer Mohammad Javad Akbarein says that unlike those in Najaf, Iran's senior clerics rely on government funds and patronage.
"The Qom seminary wants to remain as a pioneer platform for Shiite Islamic thinking and definitely doesn't want Najaf to take its place," he said.
Ironically the Najaf renewal is led by an elderly, Iranian-born cleric who settled in Iraq more than 50 years ago and is now considered the world's top Shiite authority.
Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Husseini al-Sistani, following in the footsteps of his mentor, the late Abu al-Qasim al-Khoei, belongs to the "quietist" school of thought, whose followers see it as the purist form of Shiism.
In contrast, the principal of "wilayet al-Faqeeh," or "the right of the most learned to rule," serves as the central ideological plank that supports the monopoly on power held by Iran's clergy since the Islamic revolution.
Al-Sistani, however, has influenced Iraq's U.S.-sponsored political process, demanding that a general election be held at the earliest date possible and that a permanent constitution must be written by elected, not selected, delegates. His supporters say such demands don't amount to meddling in politics, arguing that his intervention was much needed at a critical time for Iraq.
Associated Press reporter Naser Karimi contributed to this report from Tehran, Iran.
Iran warns U.S. against attacking it
Tehran, Iran, Jul. 14 (UPI) -- The secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, Hassan Rohani, warned the United States Wednesday against repeating its Iraq adventure in Iran.
"If they want to confront Iran, they will have to face 70 million Iranians," Rohani said in an interview with the London-based Arabic daily al-Hayat.
He explained that the situation in Iran is different from what it was in Iraq before the invasion by U.S.-led coalition forces in March last year.
"No one can compare between the two because the former Iraqi regime had produced weapons of mass destruction which it used against its own people and neighbors and invaded neighboring countries, ignoring the will of the international community," Rohani said.
He argued that in the past 25 years, since the Islamic revolution in Iran toppled the Shah's regime, Iran had proved that it was not seeking war or weapons of mass destruction.
"The Americans know very well that the conditions in Iran are totally different from what they were in Iraq ... There, a dictatorial regime hated by its people was in power, while in Iran there is a popular government which will be defended by 70 million Iranians," he added.
Iran: Four labour leaders summoned to court
Thursday, 15 July 2004, 9:28 am
Press Release: International Confederation Of Free Trade Unions
Iran: Four labour leaders summoned to court
Brussels, 14th July 2004 (ICFTU Online): The International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) has urged the Government of Iran to drop charges against four labour leaders who have been summoned to court for allegedly collaborating with the banned leftist political organisation "Komala", based in Iran's Kurdistan. Mahmoud Salehi, Jalal Hosseini, Borhan Divangar and Mohammad Abdipoor are to appear in court on 24 August 2004.
The four were among seven labour leaders and activists released after heavy international pressure, led by the ICFTU, following their unlawful arrest on 1st May 2004 (Labour Day). Around 50 workers were arrested while celebrating Labour Day in the city of Saqez (Kurdistan province). Most were quickly released, but the seven, including Messrs. Salehi, Hosseini, Divangar and Abdipoor, all well-known labour leaders, were only released on bail on 12 May.
They were initially arrested for illegal assembly, but at the time of their release no known charges had been brought against them. The ICFTU suspects that the current charges are directly linked to their labour rights activism and in particular their attempt to celebrate Labour Day on 1 May.
The ICFTU is especially worried that the labour leaders' prosecution could be linked to their contacts with the ICFTU mission in late April, only two days before their arrest, as this mission had been closely monitored by the Iranian security service.
In its letter to the Iranian President Seyed Mohammed Khatami the ICFTU urges him to take immediate measures to ensure that charges are dropped and calls upon him to launch an independent investigation into the repression of the Labour Day celebration. The ICFTU has also submitted the details of these latest developments to the ILO as additional information to its existing complaint against Iran for violation of the freedom of association.
The existing complaint against Iran at the ILO concerns the killing of four striking workers in the city of Shahr-e-Babak, the unlawful arrest of 50 workers on Labour Day and government interference to prevent workers from organising and enjoying other workers' rights at the Iran Khodro auto company. The ICFTU represents 151 million workers through its 233 affiliated national trade union centres in 152 countries and territories. ICFTU is also a member of Global Unions: http://www.global-unions.org
Al-Qaida's Kurdish allies find home in Iran
Kurdish Islamic militants driven out of northern Iraq seem to be regrouping just across the Iranian border.
By IWPR reporters in Mariwan, Iran and Biyara, Iraq
The Kurdish militant group Ansar al-Islam is reorganising in Iranian Kurdistan, say residents of the area, Iraqi security sources and local Iranian officials. The radical group's presence - an open secret in the small towns of this mountainous region - appears to have, at the very least, the acquiescence of the Iranian authorities, and some sources report that Iranian intelligence offers logistics and possibly military training. Indeed, IWPR spoke to an Iranian official who says that he was ordered to assist the militants, as well as a local Kurd who was recruited by them for training. Despite the ideological gap between the radical Sunni Islamism of the Ansar and the Shi'ite Islamism of the Tehran government, both Iranian and Iraqi observers believe that there is room for an alliance of convenience between the two parties.
The bargaining chip
While the Kurdish militants need room to rebuild, the Iranians can use them to undercut the influence of secular Kurdish nationalism in the area, and simultaneously have a bargaining chip in dealings with the US. Ansar al-Islam was established in September 2001, first under the name Jund al-Islam, in Iraqi Kurdistan. Most of its founding members were Iraqi Kurdish Islamists who fought in Afghanistan and had strong ties with al-Qaida. According to Ansar prisoners in Iraq, many received al-Qaida training in Afghanistan and then returned to Iraq to conduct attacks against the secular Kurdish political parties, and later against US targets in Iraq. Ansar's fighters fled the mountains of Iraq last March after an American cruise missile pounded their headquarters. Ground assaults on Ansar-held areas continued throughout the war, and most of the surviving fighters, thought to be close to 800, fled east into Iran. "When we were fleeing to Iran after the US bombing, the Iranian authorities singled out the Ansar fighters and their families, and took them away in military cars," said Golala Salih, a resident of the Iraqi town Tawela which sits on the Iraq-Iran border and was the former stronghold of Ansar al-Islam. "They did not let us [ordinary refugees] cross into Iran." Like most non-Ansar people named in this story, Salih is not her real name, as it has been changed for her protection. Most Ansar operatives are identified but they use code names, which change with their location.
Mixing with the locals
The Ansar gunmen and their families who crossed the border are now in camps at the foot of an Iranian mountain range - the first in Baramawa village, 20 kilometers west of Mariwan, and the Darbandi Dizly camp further to the west, say residents of the area. In addition to being outsiders, the militants, who wear the short-hemmed garment and grow the trimmed beard associated with Sunni radicals, are highly conspicuous in the region. The area is renowned for its spectacular beauty, and, perhaps more importantly for the Ansar gunmen, it is surrounded by forests and rugged mountains and lies close to the Iraqi border. Ansar fighters and their families are now mixed in with the local villages, leaving the residents feeling fearful and resentful. "Since these gunmen and their families have been living here, we have been in constant fear," said Mam Rasoul, an elderly resident of the village. "The US might fire missiles at them, or the Kurdish peshmerga (soldiers) might come here to get them." Others are resentful of the apparent financial support the Islamic fighters are receiving. "They get food rations and money every month," said Gulnaz, an elderly woman who lives in Daranaxa village near the Darbandi Dizly Ansar camp. She says that the Ansar group's living standards are better than long time residents of the area. A high-ranking Iraqi security official said that while the foot soldiers of Ansar are living in these camps "their leadership and cohorts in other radical Islamic parties are spread over the Iranian Kurdish cities and towns of Bokan, Sanandij, Mariwan, and Saqiz".
Two prominent Kurdish newcomers in the area bear the same names as Iraqi Ansar activists known to Iraqi intelligence. Both of them have been spotted by locals going to a three-story house in Mariwan's Zrebar Road occupied by Iraqi Kurds with beards and short-hemmed trousers, which locals say was until recently one of Ansar's two headquarters in the town. The second is a two-story marble building near its Stadium Roundabout. One of the two local Ansar leaders is Sheikh Jamal, who lives in the Laylakh district of Mariwan. His neighbors told IWPR that he spent the last five years in Afghanistan fighting with al-Qaida and that he is now teaching military tactics to Ansar al-Islam new recruits. The Iraqi security official said that they know of a Sheikh Jamal but could not confirm that he is the Mariwan Ansar official. "They use different code names in different cities," said the official. "Some had a codename in the town and different one in the mountain." The second leader is Zryan Hawleri, whom Iraqi officials say is a top Ansar operative from Arbil in Iraq, now living in Mariwan. Residents of Mariwan say that an out-of-town Kurd by that name currently owns a small corner shoe repair store. A nearby shopkeeper said that he does not believe that Hawleri has come to Mariwan for business, "He is not working most of the time and receives many visitors."
According to a local Iranian Interior Ministry official, Hawleri has probably received a new identity from Iranian intelligence. The official, who disapproves of the Islamists' presence in the region and fears they will radicalize the local population, showed IWPR a copy of an Iranian ID card with Hawleri's picture. It was issued by the Islamic Hawza of Iran, the Islamic Shiite school of Iran, with the name of Zryan Ali Pour, an Iranian surname. The official said he was ordered by the Iranian Ittilaat intelligence service to provide special permits, required by foreigners to rent houses, to other likely militants, including two Afghans wearing Salafi garb who rented a mud-brick house in a district heavily populated by Ansar members. A neighbor said that during Ramadan the two men received 15 to 20 visitors every night. Most had long beards and short Kurdish trousers, another Salafi trademark. "The meetings would last until midnight," the neighbour said. The official, as well as an IWPR reporter, have also seen Kurdish Islamists being given rides in the Iranian-made pickups and landcruisers favoured by the Ittalat. IWPR also met a young man who claims he signed up with the group in the town of Sanandij for US$250 a month. "Ansar al-Islam was able to attract 150 to 200 young Kurds from the poor neighborhoods of the town," the recruit said. He said he is not a supporter of the group's ideology but joined only for the income. He further said that he disapproves of Ansar tactics which he says exploits needy people. "Leading people in Ansar would not themselves do what they are asking the poor foot soldiers to do," he said. He told IWPR, on the condition of anonymity, that the Sanandij branch of the group has ties with a newly formed group in Pakistan called Tabligh, or proselytizing. Once Ansar leaders feel they can trust a recruit, he said, they are sent to the Iranian city of Zahedan on the Pakistani border for political and military training - and while he has not been trained himself, 35 new recruits left for training in two camps in May. The local ministry of interior official also said that militants are sent for training in Baluchistan, the region of Iran in which Zahedan is located.
Attacking Kurdish secularism
An Iranian journalist who has extensively covered militant affairs in Afghanistan says that before the toppling of the Taliban regime, Kurdish militants received training in the Afghan city of Herat. After 2001, he says, the Iranians allowed fleeing al-Qaida operatives to set up in two camps on the Afghan and Pakistani borders, one of which lies near Zahedan. The Ansar presence in Iranian Kurdistan has coincided with the growth of Sunni radicalism in the region. Mullah Muhammed is the most prominent preacher of Yakshawa village near the city of Bokan. Locals refer to this Iranian Kurdish cleric as the Ansar head there. Mullah Muhammed is a popular preacher. One young government employee who attends Muhammed's Friday sermons regularly says that he understands Islam "better than anyone else" and can explain things very clearly. "He attacks the Kurdish secular parties of Iran and Iraq, and says that jihad is the only right path for Islam," said the government worker. Ansar also maintains what appears to be a propaganda apparatus in Mariwan. The sermons and speeches of Ansar leaders and other radical Sunnis are on sale in the town's shops. Studio Dangi Islam, the Voice of Islam, is a record shop that sells CDs of speeches of Mullah Krekar, the Ansar leader, Osama Bin Laden, Taliban leader Mullah Omer, the Iraqi Kurdish Islamic Group leader Ali Bapir, and other hard-line mullahs. It also sells video CDs of Ansar battles in Iraqi Kurdistan. In a number of bookstores, some of the most prominent titles are biographies of Bin Laden and Mullah Omer that were published in early 2003 by the Iranian ministry of culture. The ministry banned them in mid-2003 but copies still circulate.
This article originally appeared in Iraqi Crisis Report, produced by the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR). Iraqi Crisis Report is supported by the UK Foreign Office and the US State Department.
Why are Nearly 400 Members of Al-Qaeda Living in Iran?
Orange County, CA,
July 15, 2004 -
Hundreds of alleged members of Al-Qaeda, including 18 of its top leaders, and other terror groups are living in Iran, some under tight security, the London-based Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper reported.
"More than 384 members of Al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations are present in Iran, including 18 senior leaders of Osama bin Laden's network," the daily said, citing a senior source in the Iranian presidency.
Al-Qaeda has been threatening an attack on the United States perhaps before the November election. Similarly, the Iranian government, a known supporter of terrorism has also been threatening action against the United States.
In a speech, last May, a top Revolutionary Guards official, Hassan Abbassi, an intelligence theoretician, who teaches at the Revolutionary Guards' Al-Hussein University, said, "there are 29 sensitive sites in the U.S. and in the West. We have already spied on these sites and we know how we are going to attack them, according to the Middle East Media Research Institute (Memri.org).
The Saudi-owned newspaper, Asharq Al-Awsat, said the terrorist leaders were living under tight protection, some of them in villas in the Namak Abrud region, near the town of Chalous on the Caspian coast, (60 miles) north of Tehran. Others are living in Lavizan, in the northwest of the capital, and which also houses a large military complex, it added. Authorities in Tehran would not verify their report.
Total to Invest in Iran
July 15, 2004
French oil giant TOTAL Group announces it is ready to invest Irans economical and technical projects, especially in South Pars gas field.
Francois Vatier, the representative of Total in Iran, voiced TOTALs readiness to implement LNG installations for phase 11 of Irans huge gas reserves of the South Pars, common with Qatars, with the participation of the National Iranian Oil Company and the Malaysian Petronas.
This is the most important project for which the company is negotiating with Iran, he added.
China, Japan, and Europe are among the countries that Iranian LNG can be sold to.
The Virus Must Be Stopped!
July 15, 2004
by Dariush Shirazi
If, for only a moment, we could melt away all the rhetoric about Bush's military service, failure to uncover stockpiles of WMD, and the hunt for Osama Bin Laden, and instead focus on the bigger picture of freedom's struggle in the Middle East and the future of our world, we would arrive at a very sobering conclusion. The tumultuous history of the human race has led us to where we now stand, on the verge of a historic moment, a moment that if seized to the fullest could give birth to unthinkable beauty, prosperity, freedom and peace.
The question we should all be asking ourselves is not "What about the economy, stupid?", or even, "What about the weapons, stupid?" We should really be asking those questions that remain unasked, almost intentionally so, such as - "What about the Islamic Regime in Iran, stupid?" and "What about the Iranian people who are overwhelmingly pro-US, anti-tyranny and begging for a chance, stupid?" Of course these questions are far from stupid, and in fact the answers to them shine light on many fundamental aspects of this "War on Terror" and the so-called "Forward Strategy of Freedom".
As coalition soldiers roam through the streets and villages of Iraq and Afghanistan, a grand strategy is being devised and implemented in an effort to halt the progress of democratization and freedom. This operation has been launched in the face of America's proposed effort to achieve freedom and stability in the region, and the operating headquarters are without a doubt, to the East of Iraq, in the hands of the Mullahs who brutally hold onto power in Iran. The Clerics who have repressed the Iranian people for over two decades through their systematic murder, torture and imprisonment as well as political assassinations throughout Europe and the United States, have only one thing in mind. They will go to any and all lengths to maintain their mafia rule, and they will do this by spreading their virus into all corners of Iraq and Afghanistan, until the forces of freedom retreat or until the Mafia Mullahs are stopped!
President Bush speaks of a forward looking strategy of freedom in the Middle East, and the natural willingness within all humans to be free, but by rhetoric alone this objective will not be achieved. America's proposed objective is by all means the right one, and in fact many Americans would have supported military action against the regime in Iraq even without the WMD argument, but the past is the past, and the people of the world stand ready, in the midst of a historic battle between the forces of good and evil.
The future of the world depends on the outcome of this battle. On one side there are the Terror Masters, who, through brute repression and enforcement of a twisted fanatical ideology, control large masses of land and it's inhabitants. On the other side, is the free world, a world that grows more interconnected and united each day. However, this evolution can be broken and reversed. The world's evolving state depends on freedom for all human beings, and it's unfailing defense, however the terror masters continue to spread their virus, in an effort to prevent the administering of the one and only cure, freedom. This infection will prevent globalization. This infection will prevent peace. In the end, the successful spread of this virus will destroy our hopes, goals and dreams for the future of the world. Time is not a luxury we have. We must act now!
As witnessed in Iraq, we have found that the cure to this virus is not found within the bark of some tree, but rather it lies within every human being. When the Iraqi regime fell, the cure was released after decades of suppression, and beautiful notions of progress, evolution and liberty were triggered. However, almost immediately the virus began to spread through the porous Iran/Iraq border, within vials carried by thousands of Islamic Clerics sponsored and guided by the regime in Iran. Through propaganda and violent military assaults they are attempting to halt any progress in an effort to destroy mankind's cure. They will continue to spread their fanatical virus, unless they are stopped.
For the American Administration to wait and fail to act for fear of the political uncertainties brought about by the election-cycle whirlwind sweeping across the land of the free and home of the brave is an outright mistake, and a dangerous one at that. President Bush must set aside the political storm clouds that now cast shadows over America, for one last stand, a stand that will most certainly bring about the achievement of his proposed goals for freedom, as well as rewarding him with another four years in office so that he may continue his leadership and sustain current progress.
The ongoing political circus being played out in Iran has shown that neither the "hardliners" nor the so-called "reformers" have the support of the people. Iranians have for years viewed the regime in Iran as illegitimate, and on February 20, 2004 they showed to all of us how illegitimate the clerical regime really is, by massively boycotting the sham elections. The regime claimed that the Iranian people boycotted the election because many reformers were banned from participating, a lie they want us to believe. It was reported that the regime paid off and brought in bus loads of Iranians from rural areas to vote, in an effort to create the illusion that there was no boycott, a trick it seems only the big media fell for. Politicians in America and abroad who have been paid off by the regime as well as regime-loving journalists have and continue to twist and turn the facts, we should ignore them. The regime has been illegitimate for decades, and has sponsored international terrorism from sea to shining sea. On February 20th, 2004, the Iranian people made their case to the world! Did we hear them?
The cure to the entire debacle and virus that is spreading throughout the Middle East rests in the hearts and souls of the Iranian people. If we fail to act in support of the Iranian people, we will have made a huge mistake and committed a great disservice to all of humanity. Everyone of us has a stake in freedom, and its victory in the Middle East. We must not wait one day more and we must never fail to defend freedom.
It's time for one last stand!
Dariush Shirazi is a pseudonym of an Iranian-American university student and Los Angeles-based freelance journalist and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Isn't it interesting that one of the co-chairs is a President at Texas A&M University? I wonder why a ranking President would involve himself with such controversial activity.
I think people underestimate the mullahs.
"President at Texas A&M University"
That's Nothing....he was Director of the CIA !