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Iranian Alert -- August 4, 2004 [EST]-- IRAN LIVE THREAD -- "Americans for Regime Change in Iran"
The Iranian Student Movement Up To The Minute Reports ^ | 8.4.2004 | DoctorZin

Posted on 08/03/2004 9:00:41 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 American’s 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.


TOPICS: Extended News; Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: alsadr; armyofmahdi; ayatollah; cleric; humanrights; iaea; insurgency; iran; iranianalert; iranquake; iraq; islamicrepublic; jayshalmahdi; journalist; kazemi; khamenei; khatami; khatemi; moqtadaalsadr; mullahs; persecution; persia; persian; politicalprisoners; poop; protests; rafsanjani; revolutionaryguard; rumsfeld; satellitetelephones; shiite; southasia; southwestasia; studentmovement; studentprotest; terrorism; terrorists; wot
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To: Khashayar
Thanks for the pics.

I have no idea why, but most of the champion wrestlers/body builders seem to originate in countries that form an arc that can be traced from the Balkans/Mediterranean, sweeps over the Anatolian peninsula/Caucasus and eventually winds up in central Asia/Iran.

21 posted on 08/04/2004 12:28:30 AM PDT by The Scourge of Yazid ("You can abort 'em but don't deport 'em!")
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To: The Scourge of Yazid

I agree with you to some extent but WE have our own champions born here and we do not import any one from other countries to win a medal.

Qatar ( arabic country in the Persian Gulf ) imported many foreign players for their soccer, weight lifting and tennis teams to attend the Olympics.

22 posted on 08/04/2004 1:37:21 AM PDT by Khashayar
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To: Khashayar; freedom44; DoctorZIn; Lijahsbubbe; Slings and Arrows; a_Turk; SJackson
Spokesman for Qatari Ministry of Sport:

That is a malicious lie! We do not import anything. Nothing. Never.

(Comment posted by guest worker brought over from Bangladesh.)

23 posted on 08/04/2004 1:42:07 AM PDT by The Scourge of Yazid ("You can abort 'em but don't deport 'em!")
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To: F14 Pilot

Allawi still plans to visit Iran soon: spokesman

Xinhua, China
August 4th, 04

BAGHDAD, Aug. 3 (Xinhuanet) -- Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi didnot cancel his visit to Iran, the Baghdad newspaper quoted hisspokesman as saying on Tuesday.

The Prime Minister intends to determine a date for his visit toIran in his coming tour, which includes a number of Islamic andArab countries, said Hirmis Sada, adding Allawi is keen ondeveloping positive relations between Iraq and Iran. Sada denied reports that Allawi had cancelled his Tehran tour,saying that such wrong news could harm the interests of Iraq andthe good relations between the two neighboring countries.

Media reports said earlier that the Iraqi Prime Ministercancelled his visit to Iran because of sharp differences betweenthe two countries, especially concerning the Iranian interferencein the Iraqi interior affairs.

Allawi did not deny some differences between the two sides, butthey would be settled diplomatically according to the interests ofboth and security of the region, Sada stressed.

24 posted on 08/04/2004 3:14:36 AM PDT by F14 Pilot
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To: The Scourge of Yazid


In Arabic countries like Bahrain, UAE, Qatar, Kuwait and Saudi, People from Philippines, Pakistan, India (NON ARABS) work hardly! Iranians invest in lots of businesses (cuz Iran is not safe for their own investments), Westerners are in charge of managements and handling. What ARABS do is to receive the benefits of this hardwork, investment and management. And in return these arabs are busy to export Radicalism, Terrorism and Hate.

What useful people these arabs are.

25 posted on 08/04/2004 3:30:26 AM PDT by Khashayar
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To: risk; freedom44; nuconvert; RaceBannon; sionnsar
Some Pictures of Alborz High School in Iran founded by an American (Dr. Jordan) in early 20th century...

26 posted on 08/04/2004 3:42:27 AM PDT by Khashayar
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To: Khashayar; SJackson; freedom44; F14 Pilot; sheik yerbouty; Slings and Arrows; KangarooJacqui; ...
Yeh, pretty much.

Man, I wish I had an army of personal servants.

It would make the job of posting these comments that much easier.

Dictating words to someone who actually does the manual labor.


Wealthy Arab sheik:

I tell you bruda, it is da life! I have not move my ass a millimeter since the oil boycott when (How you say?) "Mr. Peanut" was your country's president.

27 posted on 08/04/2004 3:43:05 AM PDT by The Scourge of Yazid ("You can abort 'em but don't deport 'em!")
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To: DoctorZIn; McGavin999; freedom44; nuconvert; sionnsar; AdmSmith; dixiechick2000; onyx; Pro-Bush; ...

Today in history, is the 100th anniversary of the Iranian Consitutitional Revolution in 1904.
Iranians were the first Asian nation that uprised against the dictatorship of the rulers. They protested againt the Qajari Kings and the rule of Radical Islam. And they successfully made the first Asian Parliament and make the king respect the Parliamentary system.

Interesting to know that an American Teacher died in clashes with Kings forces while helping Iranian constitutionalist forces in city of Tabriz. Iranians still pay tribute to his grave in that city and are thankful for his help.

28 posted on 08/04/2004 5:19:39 AM PDT by F14 Pilot
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To: All


Iran's revolution in 1905

During the early 1900s the only way to save country from government corruption and foreign manipulation was to make a written code of laws. This sentiment caused the Constitutional Revolution. There had been a series of ongoing covert and overt activities against Naser o-Din Shah's despotic rule, for which many had lost their lives. The efforts of freedom fighers finally bore fruit during the reign of Moazaferedin Shah. Mozafaredin shah ascended to throne on June 1896. In the wake of the relentless efforts of freedom fighters, Mozafar o-Din Shah of Qajar dynasty was forced to issued the decree for the constitution and the creation of an elected parliament (the Majlis) in August 5, 1906. The royal power limited and a parliamentary system established.

On August 18, 1906, the first Legislative assembly (called as Supreme National Assembly), was formed in the Military Academy to make the preparations for the openning of the first Term of the National Consultative Assembly and drafting the election law thereof. During this meeting, Prime Minister Moshirul Doleh, delivered a speech as the head of the cabinet. The session concluded with the address made by Malek Al Motokalemin. ...........


29 posted on 08/04/2004 5:41:01 AM PDT by F14 Pilot
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To: F14 Pilot

Thanks for the ping!

30 posted on 08/04/2004 7:14:36 AM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: LibreOuMort

Ping to #28...

31 posted on 08/04/2004 7:19:31 AM PDT by sionnsar (Iran Azadi ||| Resource for Traditional Anglicans:
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To: LibreOuMort; F14 Pilot
"History lesson in #29" ping.

Thanks, F14 Pilot!

32 posted on 08/04/2004 7:26:36 AM PDT by sionnsar (Iran Azadi ||| Resource for Traditional Anglicans:
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To: DoctorZIn

Kerry, the EU and Iran

August 04, 2004
The Washington Times

In his quest for the presidency, John Kerry has sought to portray President Bush as someone with a mindless contempt for our European allies and the United Nations. The way to achieve success in Iraq, Mr. Kerry says, is to elect a president "who has the credibility to bring our allies to our side." In a Dec. 3 speech to the Council on Foreign Relations, Mr. Kerry said that, if he were elected president, he would "go to the United Nations and travel to our traditional allies to affirm that the United States has rejoined the community of nations." This, Mr. Kerry would have us believe, is far superior to Mr. Bush's approach to dealing with Saddam Hussein — one which did not win the approval of Kofi Annan, Jacques Chirac or Gerhard Schroeder.

One would never know it from listening to Mr. Kerry, but his approach has been tried by the Europeans for more than a year in an attempt to halt Iran's nuclear program. It has been an abject failure, while Mr. Bush's more assertive foreign-policy approach has achieved some important successes.

Mr. Bush, for example, ended any possibility that Saddam Hussein could build more weapons of mass destruction and intimidated Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi into ending his WMD programs. By contrast, diplomats representing the EU 3 (Britain, France and Germany) said Sunday that talks in Paris produced "no substantial progress" in restricting Iran's nuclear activities. On Saturday, Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi announced that Iran has resumed building centrifuges to enrich uranium for atomic weapons.

Over the past year, the International Atomic Energy Agency has issued a series of reports documenting Iran's illicit nuclear weapons programs. During this period, the Bush administration has reluctantly deferred to the Europeans' desire for a softer approach to Iran.

While this has been taking place, Mr. Kerry has actually attacked the Bush administration for being too tough on the dictatorship in Iran. In his Dec. 3 speech, for example, he said: "It is incomprehensible and unacceptable that this administration refuses to broker an arrangement with Iran." Mr. Kerry touted the EU's effort as a superior alternative to the Bush approach. In February, Mr. Kerry's national security issues coordinator, Rand Beers, accused the Bush administration of blocking U.S.-Iranian talks. That same month, the Kerry campaign sent a letter to the Tehran Times (a mouthpiece for Iran's Islamist government) suggesting that the Bush administration is to blame for many of the world's problems.

Mr. Kerry's formulation is quite simply false. When it comes to Iran policy, the fundamental problem thus far is that Washington has deferred to Mr. Kerry's ideological soulmates in Europe, whose diplomatic approach to Iran has yielded absolutely nothing and given the regime more time to develop nuclear weapons. There are few better recent illustrations of the bankruptcy of Mr. Kerry's foreign-policy approach.

33 posted on 08/04/2004 8:20:51 AM PDT by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn

Iran's Nuclear Challenge

August 04, 2004
The New York Times
Editorials / Op-Ed

The invasion of Iraq, which President Bush has often said would help stabilize the Middle East, is now hindering efforts to deal with a real nuclear threat: Iran. Despite its ritualistic denials, Iran gives every indication of building all the essential elements of a nuclear weapons program. And while the United States has hoped to pressure Iran into halting that program, the government in Tehran has clearly concluded that it has little to fear for now from an American government whose diplomatic credibility has been damaged and whose military capacities have been stretched by the war in Iraq.

Given Washington's unsatisfactory options right now, the best choice is to support Britain, France and Germany as they search for a diplomatic settlement. The chances of success do not look good; the European initiative has had minimal results and seems to be losing ground.

Iran announced on Saturday that it had resumed the construction of centrifuges that are capable of producing material for a nuclear bomb. Tehran says it is still honoring a pledge not to operate any of these centrifuges, but it proclaims its right to resume enrichment at any time.

There would be little reason for Iran to take the provocative step of restarting centrifuge construction now unless it also intended to resume operations at some later date. And since there are other, safer ways for Iran to get the less-enriched uranium used in power-producing reactors, it is fair to presume that Iran means to use the centrifuges to produce bomb fuel.

Constructing uranium centrifuges is, regrettably, legal under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. Using them to produce fuel for bombs is not. Diplomacy can resolve this issue only if both sides ultimately want a deal, and it is not at all clear that Iran's ruling clerics do. They may just be playing for time to develop their enrichment capacity before quitting the nuclear treaty and building bombs.

The tone of Iran's dealings with the outside world has changed for the worse since early this year, when hard-line clerics seized control of Parliament by excluding many of their once-formidable reformist rivals. That shut down an experiment in partial democracy that many hoped would eventually lead to less confrontational foreign policies, like decisions to close the nuclear program and end support for terrorist groups. Since then, Iran has stepped up its meddling in Iraq, stopped trying to improve its abysmal human rights reputation and turned more belligerent in the nuclear negotiations with Europe.

Britain, France and Germany want Iran to renounce, permanently and verifiably, all technology capable of making nuclear bomb fuel. In exchange, they offer an equally firm commitment to use outside suppliers to guarantee an adequate supply of uranium for civilian power reactors. Such a deal could work only if Iran returned the spent fuel to the outside suppliers. Otherwise, plutonium could be extracted from it and reprocessed to make nuclear weapons. Unless Iran changes its position and forswears all rights to enrich uranium or reprocess plutonium, there can be no deal.

For want of a better alternative, Europe is right to give Iran a little more time to change its mind. But the world cannot afford to wait long. Once the new centrifuges are completed, Iran's ambitions will become much harder to contain. If no agreement is reached soon, this apparent drive to build nuclear weapons should be recognized as a threat to international peace and security and taken up by the United Nations Security Council later this year.

34 posted on 08/04/2004 8:21:44 AM PDT by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn

Martyrs, Virgins and Grapes

August 04, 2004
The New York Times
Nicholas D. Kristof

The virgins are calling you," Mohamed Atta wrote reassuringly to his fellow hijackers just before 9/11.

It has long been a staple of Islam that Muslim martyrs will go to paradise and marry 72 black-eyed virgins. But a growing body of rigorous scholarship on the Koran points to a less sensual paradise - and, more important, may offer a step away from fundamentalism and toward a reawakening of the Islamic world.

Some Islamic theologians protest that the point was companionship, never heavenly sex. Others have interpreted the pleasures quite explicitly; one, al-Suyuti, wrote that sex in paradise is pretty much continual and so glorious that "were you to experience it in this world you would faint."

But now the same tools that historians, linguists and archaeologists have applied to the Bible for about 150 years are beginning to be applied to the Koran. The results are explosive.

The Koran is beautifully written, but often obscure. One reason is that the Arabic language was born as a written language with the Koran, and there's growing evidence that many of the words were Syriac or Aramaic.

For example, the Koran says martyrs going to heaven will get "hur," and the word was taken by early commentators to mean "virgins," hence those 72 consorts. But in Aramaic, hur meant "white" and was commonly used to mean "white grapes."

Some martyrs arriving in paradise may regard a bunch of grapes as a letdown. But the scholar who pioneered this pathbreaking research, using the pseudonym Christoph Luxenberg for security reasons, noted in an e-mail interview that grapes made more sense in context because the Koran compares them to crystal and pearls, and because contemporary accounts have paradise abounding with fruit, especially white grapes.

Dr. Luxenberg's analysis, which has drawn raves from many scholars, also transforms the meaning of the verse that is sometimes cited to require women to wear veils. Instead of instructing pious women "to draw their veils over their bosoms," he says, it advises them to "buckle their belts around their hips."

Likewise, a reference to Muhammad as "ummi" has been interpreted to mean he was illiterate, making his Koranic revelations all the more astonishing. But some scholars argue that this simply means he was not "of the book," in the sense that he was neither Christian nor Jewish.

Islam has a tradition of vigorous interpretation and adjustment, called ijtihad, but Koranic interpretation remains frozen in the model of classical commentaries written nearly two centuries after the prophet's death. The history of the rise and fall of great powers over the last 3,000 years underscores that only when people are able to debate issues freely - when religious taboos fade - can intellectual inquiry lead to scientific discovery, economic revolution and powerful new civilizations. "The taboos are still great" on such Koranic scholarship, notes Gabriel Said Reynolds, an Islam expert at the University of Notre Dame. He called the new scholarship on early Islam "a first step" to an intellectual awakening.

But Muslim fundamentalists regard the Koran - every word of it - as God's own language, and they have violently attacked freethinking scholars as heretics. So Muslim intellectuals have been intimidated, and Islam has often been transmitted by narrow-minded extremists.

(This problem is not confined to Islam. On my blog,, I've been battling with fans of the Christian fundamentalist "Left Behind" series. Some are eager to see me left behind.)

Still, there are encouraging signs. Islamic feminists are emerging to argue for religious interpretations leading to greater gender equality. An Iranian theologian has called for more study of the Koran's Syriac roots. Tunisian and German scholars are collaborating on a new critical edition of the Koran based on the earliest manuscripts. And just last week, Iran freed Hashem Aghajari, who had been sentenced to death for questioning harsh interpretations of Islam.

"The breaking of the sometimes erroneous bonds in the religious tradition will be the condition for a positive evolution in other scientific and intellectual domains," Dr. Luxenberg says.

The world has a huge stake in seeing the Islamic world get on its feet again. The obstacle is not the Koran or Islam, but fundamentalism, and I hope that this scholarship is a sign of an incipient Islamic Reformation - and that future terrorist recruits will be promised not 72 black-eyed virgins, but just a plateful of grapes.

35 posted on 08/04/2004 8:22:22 AM PDT by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn

Tehran's Tyrants

August 04, 2004
Nir Boms and Reza Bulorchi

Legal rulings in other countries do not often make headlines in the United States. But two recent verdicts in Iran have made democracy activists, both in America as well as around the world, sit up and take notice.

Last week, Hashem Aghajari, whom the Iranian Supreme Court had sentenced to death, had his sentence changed to a five-year prison term following appeals and a rare, direct intervention from Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Aghajari had made comments during a June, 2002, speech that were used by Iran's hard-line judiciary to launch a new front against Iran's embattled "reformist" faction. In his speech, Aghajari took a jab at the very foundation of Iran's theocratic regime, stating that Muslims were not "monkeys" who should blindly follow the teachings of senior clerics.

Aghajari was charged with "insulting the prophets" and with questioning Khamenei's rule. While it is astonishing that one of their "own" (Aghajari was a close confidante of Iranian President Mohammed Khatami) earned for himself a death sentence simply with a verbal assault against Iran's theocratic establishment, one can only imagine what happens in closed trials to those outside the establishment, like students and political activists, who are struggling to bring about real change.

Aghajari's case struck a chord with the Iranian student movement and triggered a grassroots campaign to reverse the court's decision. At Tehran University, some 1,200 students denounced "the medieval verdict" and signed a petition for Aghajari's release. Their action woke up the Iranian parliament, prompting 178 deputies to issue an open letter that called on Iran's judiciary chief, Ayatollah Mahmud Hashemi-Shahrudi, to overturn the verdict and allow Aghajari to go free. Following these events, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei issued a rare order for a re-trial, resulting in Aghajari's sentence reduction from death to five years imprisonment.

Aghajari's was not the only Iranian trial to make world headlines this month. Following the Kafkaesque trial of Iranian-Canadian photojournalist and murder victim Zahra Kazemi's, the judge acquitted last weekend the only man charged in the case. The 54-year-old Kazemi was arrested in June of last year for taking pictures outside Tehran's notorious Evin prison. She died from a brain hemorrhage after being struck with a blunt object during interrogation.

Under intense pressure from the West and after warnings from the Canadian government, which later recalled its ambassador from Tehran, Khatami released a statement before the trial, asking the judiciary to identify "the real guilty person." But as a second round of hearings opened, Canadian, Dutch, and British diplomats were bluntly told to stay away. The trial judge then concluded that the suspect, Mohammad Reza Ahmadi, a junior agent, was innocent of any wrongdoing and that Kazemi's death was the result of "an accident" that occurred when she fell in her prison cell.

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi, a member of Kazemi's defense team, has accused Iran's judiciary of a cover-up. The Kazemi case, however, did focus much attention, long overdue, on the plight of Iranian political prisoners in interrogation rooms.

These two cases provide a glimpse into the inner workings of the Iranian "justice" system, and into the struggle between the ruling clerics and those forces calling for change and reform. On Monday, dozens of political prisoners in Tehran's Evin Prison ended a three-week hunger strike commemorating the July, 1999, Iranian student uprising, demanding the release of all political prisoners. Meanwhile, the mullahs' "justice" system was on full display; in the past few weeks, several people were hanged in public.

But as the struggle for justice continues to unfold in Iran, it is important to note the growing cracks in the mullarchy's wall of injustice. The world's increasing focus on Iran, particularly in light of its role in destabilizing Iraq and developing nuclear weapons - not to mention its ties to Al-Qaeda - provides a constant reminder of Iran's core problem: a fundamentalist regime that will do anything to maintain its grip on power.

Tens of thousands of reform-minded young Iranians-and not the mullahs- are the ones willing to offer a different vision of Iran to the world. The United States, Europe and those concerned about democracy must therefore continue to pressure Iran and increase their engagement not with the regime of today, but with those who are willing to lead the regime of tomorrow.

Nir Boms is a co-founder of the Pulse of Freedom Initiative and a fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. Reza Bulorchi is the executive director of the U.S. Alliance for Democratic Iran.

36 posted on 08/04/2004 8:23:11 AM PDT by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Christoph Luxenberg for security reasons,noted in an e-mail interview that grapes made more sense

He has written a book about it and here is a review
37 posted on 08/04/2004 11:57:02 AM PDT by AdmSmith
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To: F14 Pilot

Freedom for Iran ~ NOW!

38 posted on 08/04/2004 2:02:20 PM PDT by blackie (Be Well~Be Armed~Be Safe~Molon Labe!)
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To: F14 Pilot; All
Howard Baskerville

Grave of Howard Baskerville in Tabriz, Iran

Baskerville served with the Presbyterian mission in Tabriz. "At the height of the anti-American sentiment in Iran during the 1980's, the tomb was always covered with yellow roses, ..... no one claimed any knowledge of who had placed the flowers on any particular day, but... the tomb always had fresh flowers on it." And still does.

39 posted on 08/04/2004 2:07:37 PM PDT by nuconvert (Everyone has a photographic memory. Some don't have film.)
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To: DoctorZIn


NY Post

August 4, 2004 -- YOU don't see much about it in the media, but what is happening on the Iraqi po litical scene these days may well be more important than images of car bombs and kidnappings that have dominated the headlines for the past few months.

The first noteworthy event is the formation of an Iraqi electoral college, to be known as the national congress. Under the plan, around 1,000 prominent citizens from all walks of life, all ethnic communities and all regions will come together to elect a 100-member body that will act as an interim parliament for the newly liberated country.

Contrary to the wishes of many Iraqis, the 1,000 members of the electoral college will not be directly elected by the citizens. But since there is no central authority to impose its choices on the people, it is certain that those who will end up as members will enjoy some genuine popular support.

In other words, the members will "emerge" from their respective constituencies. All this is modeled on the Afghan tradition of Loya Jirga (High Assembly), the gathering of senior tribal, religious, business, cultural and political leaders, convened at crucial moments of the nation's history to decide the way ahead.

The 100-member interim parliament to emerge from the congress will tackle several important issues. It will prepare the final draft of a new constitution that would have been approved by the congress, and will establish the modalities of submitting it to a referendum. It will also finalize the rules under which elections for a full parliament are to be held.

Those who follow the political, as opposed to the media, side of the Iraq story these days are impressed by the moderation and maturity shown by almost all segments of Iraqi society. Intellectuals, merchants, tribal chiefs, clerics, politicians, trade unionists and leaders of numerous non-governmental groups are coming together to develop a culture of debate, compromise and consensus in an atmosphere of openness never known in Iraq before.

The interim government has helped foster that atmosphere by lifting the ban imposed by the now defunct coalition authority on a few publications, including Muqtada al-Sadr's weekly mouthpiece. It has also made it known that ordinary members of the banned Ba'ath Party will be allowed to play a role in building a new pluralist system.

The interim government decided to start the process of creating the congress after it became clear that the United Nations, which was supposed to organize and lead the entire exercise, is unwilling or unable to do so.

The U.N.'s excuse is that its staff needs protection against terrorism. But it does not want that protection to come either from the U.S.-led Coalition forces or from forces controlled by the interim Iraqi government. And since no other country has offered troops for the proposed 4,000-man U.N. protection unit, the whole exercise is in abeyance.

It is clear that many key members of the United Nations — notably Russia, Germany, China and France — are playing for time until after the U.S. presidential election. Having opposed President Bush's policy toward Iraq from the start, they are reluctant to come in and help make it a success.

All that should change after the American elections. If Bush is re-elected, his opponents would know that they can't afford to moan and sulk for four more years. If John Kerry wins, the powers that had opposed Bush could claim a role in Iraq without having to eat humble pie.

The Iraqis, however, have wisely decided not to wait for the United Nations (which they neither like nor trust). They have decided to go ahead with the elections plans, effectively rendering the U.N. role academic, at least at this juncture.

It is important that the interim government stick to the timetable for ending the transition. Iraq urgently needs elections to bestow legitimacy not only on its developing government structures but also (especially) on the pluralist system it needs for its survival as a nation-state.

The Iraqi political leaders are aware of the unique opportunity that a combination of factors has provided for them to build a modern nation-state based on unity in diversity. Despite the ongoing terrorist campaign, the interim government must not be tempted into reviving the institutions that turned Iraq into a republic of fear. Prime Minister Iyad al-Allawi's attempts at portraying himself as a law-and-order man with an iron fist may be profitable in tactical terms, but would be counter productive from a longer-term point of view.

The terrorists in Iraq, like anywhere else in the world, use violence precisely because they lack popular support. If they had such support, nothing would prevent them from organizing mass demonstrations, creating political parties and associations and contesting the forthcoming elections. But because they know they can never win in any free election, these practitioners of terror and violence are doing all they can to prevent elections. They are also trying to provoke the interim government into becoming like them, that is to say killing people at random solely to instill fear.

The aim of the terrorists is to establish moral equivalence between themselves and the new Iraqi political leadership. They want to create a situation in which they can say: Look, we are both the same, we both kill! And then they could claim further that they are killing on behalf of an abstract ideal, say pan-Arabism or pan-Islamism, while the new Iraqi leadership is killing "for the Americans."

The new Iraqi leadership, which includes all shades of the political spectrum except the terrorists, should not fall into that trap.

To be sure, Iraq (like any nation) needs an intelligence service and a counterterrorism force, an army and a police force. But, if perceived solely as means of using violence against adversaries, all that would be ineffective in terms of proper political power.

40 posted on 08/04/2004 3:23:10 PM PDT by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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