Skip to comments.Iranian Alert -- August 29, 2004 [EST]-- IRAN LIVE THREAD -- "Americans for Regime Change in Iran"
Posted on 08/28/2004 9:07:40 PM PDT by DoctorZIn
The US media still largely 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. As a result, 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. In fact they were one of the first countries to have spontaneous candlelight vigils after the 911 tragedy (see photo).
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.
EHRAN, Aug. 28 - President Mohammad Khatami, in a rare news conference, said Saturday that Iran would not give up its right to have a nuclear program and that it was willing to guarantee it was seeking nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.
"We have suggested that the Middle East should be cleaned of all kinds of nuclear weapons," he said.
"On the other hand, we want to be able to master nuclear technology," he added, to enable Iran to manufacture uranium as fuel for its nuclear plants. "We want it and no one can deprive us of having it."
In return, Mr. Khatami said that Iran was willing to "provide any guarantee" to prove that its nuclear program was for peaceful purposes.
"We do not welcome tension," he said. "We do not welcome our case to be sent United Nations Security Council."
"We will do our best to resolve our differences through negotiations with the International Atomic Energy Agency and the international community," he added, referring to the United Nations international monitoring agency for nuclear programs.
Iran has allowed tougher inspections of its nuclear sites since October, but this is the first time the government has said publicly that it would provide a guarantee to ease international concerns.
The United Nations nuclear agency is expected to release its report about Iran's nuclear activities during the first week of September.
The United States has accused Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons and has urged the United Nations agency to send Iran's case to the Security Council, which could impose sanctions.
The agency concluded in its report in June that Iran had secretly begun its uranium enrichment program in the mid-1980's. That finding has raised concerns over Iran's nuclear ambitions.
President Khatami brushed off claims by John R. Bolton, the American under secretary for arms control, who said Iran had informed three European Union countries - Germany, Britain and France - that it could produce weapons-grade uranium within a year.
"We do not consider Mr. Bolton as fair and do not accept his claims," Mr. Khatami said. "If the United States really had any proof or documents against Iran, it would have made more noise rather than just claims. This shows that they do not have real proof."
Relations have become tense between Iran and neighboring Iraq as well. The Iraqi defense minister has accused Iran of arming militia forces close to Moktada al-Sadr, the Iraqi cleric whose militia has battled American and Iraqi forces in Najaf.
Ibrahim Jafari, deputy president of Iraq, made a surprise visit to Iran on Tuesday, and the deputy prime minister of Iraq, Barham Saleh, came to Iran on Saturday. The trip was aimed at preparing for a visit by Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, Iran's official news agency, IRNA, reported.
Mr. Khatami denied accusations that Iran was stirring chaos in Iraq, and said that his country wanted stability and security in Iraq.
He further warned the United States, saying that America must know it should not repeat "the unsuccessful experience" of invading Iraq and attack Iran, contending that the result would be even worse in the case of Iran.
Iran bans display of lingerie in showroom
29 August 2004
TEHERAN - Window shoppers in Iran will no longer have the pleasure of looking at womens lingerie or buying a variety of pets, according to new police rules reported yesterday and criticised by President Mohammad Khatami.
According to the student news agency Isna, shops have been barred from displaying lingerie in their windows - with the display ban also applying to unveiled mannequins with noticeable curves.
In addition, men have also been banned from employment as salesmen in womens underwear stores - with offending shop owners facing the loss of their licences.
In other measures reported by Isna, commercial centers and restaurants have also been told not to keep or sell dogs, and monkeys - animals. The measures are contained in a new manual for police, Isna said. Another rule includes women being banned from taking driving lessons with male instructors unless they are accompanied by an immediate male relative.
Israelis Fear Fallout from Pentagon Spy Probe
Sun Aug 29, 2004 08:27 AM ET
By Matthew Tostevin
JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel's image in the United States may be tarnished and relations with its main ally suffer even if suspicions a Pentagon analyst gave secrets to the Jewish state prove false, Israeli officials said Sunday.
Israel has strenuously denied spying after U.S. government sources said the FBI was investigating whether an analyst fed classified documents dealing with bitter foe Iran via a powerful pro-Israel lobby group.
But Israelis voiced fears that just a hint of scandal may hurt links that have rarely been so close or so vital.
"Even if this is nonsense, it could still harm relations because of the damage in public opinion," said a senior Foreign Ministry official. "It will be very difficult to correct it."
Timing could be critical as Israel counts on Washington for backing over a unilateral plan to break from conflict with the Palestinians, to trump growing pressure over its West Bank barrier and to address fears that Iran could build an atom bomb.
Israeli officials insist that Israel has not spied on the United States since being caught red-handed two decades ago in a scandal involving U.S. Navy analyst Jonathan Pollard -- jailed for life in a case that is still an irritant in relations.
The powerful American Israel Public Affairs Committee also denied serving as a conduit for documents from the analyst connected to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's office.
Official intelligence cooperation tends to be close, though, with both countries sharing fears of Islamic militancy and whether Iran will develop nuclear weapons. Tehran denies trying to build bombs to rival Israel's presumed nuclear arsenal.
SUSPICIONS OVER IRAN SPECIALIST
The Washington Post said the investigation focused on an Iran specialist at the Defense Intelligence Agency who had once served in Israel. It was unclear whether the case would result in espionage charges or lesser charges, the report said.
Some Israeli officials suggested the leak of the Pentagon probe, just before the Republican party convention in New York, looked like a pre-election attempt to soil Jewish, pro-Israel "neo-conservatives" in President Bush's camp who championed war in Iraq.
"What should be asked is who had a vested interest ... And that's where this gets serious -- the effect it could have on the relations of the Jewish community in the United States," said Uzi Arad, a former official of spy agency Mossad.
Any dip in ties could be damaging for Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who has highlighted his warm relations with Bush and visited the White House nine times since taking office.
Unprecedented assurances from Bush that Israel could expect to keep some occupied West Bank land forever are vital for Sharon as he tries to implement his plan for "disengagement" from conflict with the Palestinians.
In another apparent break with long-standing policy to help Sharon get his initiative past right-wingers, the White House recently signaled a softer stance on limited expansion of some Jewish settlements -- drawing Palestinian ire.
Israel also needs U.S. help to defeat an international campaign against a barrier it is building inside the West Bank in the name of keeping out suicide bombers. Palestinians call the structure a land grab and the International Court of Justice has ruled it is illegal and should be torn down.
"If the (espionage accusation) turns out to be substantive it is at a time that Israel really can't afford ... Israel's lifeline right now is its relations with the United States," said historian Michael Oren, a fellow of the Shalem Center.
"Even if the charges are proven groundless, it still leaves Israel in the defendant's box," he said.
Iran Hosts Iraqi Official, Eyes Better Relations
Sun Aug 29, 2004 09:32 AM ET
TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iraqi deputy Prime Minister Barham Salih said Sunday he brought a message of friendship to Iran, which has been angered by charges it is stirring up tension in Iraq, the official IRNA news agency said.
Shi'ite Muslim Iran has cautiously welcomed Iraq's interim government as a step toward full democracy and sovereignty. But Tehran has been irked by accusations it was involved in the recent Shi'ite uprising centered on Najaf.
"I am carrying a message of friendship from the Iraqi government and nation for the Iranian government and nation," IRNA quoted Salih as saying during a meeting with Iran's Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi.
Salih's visit is aimed at paving the way for Iraq's interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi to travel to Iran.
Iran, which fought a bloody 1980-1988 war with Iraq, has also been angered by the kidnapping earlier this month of one of its diplomats in Iraq.
"We are neighbors and have a lot of issues to talk about. The case of the kidnapped Iranian consul is one of the main issues," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi told a weekly news conference Sunday.
Asefi said no specific date had yet been set for Allawi's Iran visit.
New attacks on Internet freedom deplored
Reporters Without Borders strongly criticised the Iranian authorities today for blocking access to three pro-reformist Internet websites and arresting some of their contributors. It also denounced continuing harassment by the judiciary of the staff of the website Naqshineh and the shutting down of three cybercafés in the southern city of Bushehr.
"This is a new step in the cowing of the Iranian media," the worldwide press freedom organisation said. "After closing down many daily newspapers and filtering out blogs (websites where people comment on the news), they are now directly targeting website staff and contributors."
Three websites blocked
Access to the news websites Baamdad (www.baamdad.com), Emrooz (www.emrooz.ws) and Rouydad (www.rouydad.info) has been blocked since 21 August.
The Teheran prosecutor's office has also summoned and arrested half a dozen people working for Internet service providers (ISPs) or as webmasters for the targeted sites.
The three websites are close to the country's main reformist party, the Islamic Iran Participation Front, whose secretary-general, Mohammad Reza Khatami, has protested to the deputy head of the judicial affairs section of the prosecutor's office about pressure by morality police on ISPs to block websites deemed "undesirable."
Summoning of boss of Naqshineh website
Hamid Motaghi, head of the news website in the southern city of Qom, Naqshineh (www.naqshineh.com), which has been blocked since March, was summoned to appear on 21 August before the 14th division of the city court. He was allowed to go free a few hours later after posting bail of 100 million rials (9,500 euros). He said he was being harassed and threatened by court officials, who he accused of being under the orders of the country's Supreme Guide, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Naqshineh is being prosecuted for articles it carried about the parliamentary elections in February. A student at the Qom Koranic school, Mojtaba Lotfi, who has written articles for the site, was given a prison sentence of three years and 10 months on 14 August for posting "lies" on the Internet.
Three cybercafés shut down
Three Internet cafés in the city of Bushehr were closed on 25 August by the morality police, who are close to the intelligence services. The manager of one of them, who tried to resist, was beaten up by police.
Egyptian officials postpone visit to Israel and PA
By Aluf Benn, Haaretz Correspondent, Haaretz Service and Agencies
Egypt's intelligence chief, General Omar Suleiman, and Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit have postponed their visit to Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
The two officials are now due in the West Bank city of Ramallah next Sunday to meet with PA Chairman Yasser Arafat and discuss Israel's planned withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.
German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer said Sunday that a complete Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip is a necessary condition for progress in the stalled Middle East peace process.
Speaking during a visit to the Jordanian capital Amman, Fischer said a "genuine breakthrough" was possible if the unilateral Israeli withdrawal goes ahead.
He also said the region needs a "fair compromise" on the basis of "two independent states".
While in Jordan the German foreign minister held talks with his Jordanian counterpart Marwan Muasher and King Abdullah II on the situation in Iraq and the Middle East.
The German minister is due in Israel on Monday.
Labeling Europe and Middle East countries "direct neighbors", Fischer insisted on a European Union role alongside the United States in working out any settlement between Israel and the Palestinians.
"I don't believe this can be done alone by the United States, because we are direct neighbors ... and developments there will affect our security," Fischer told a joint press conference with Muasher.
"The EU sticks to the road map [peace plan] and the relevant Security Council resolutions and we think the region needs a fair compromise solution based on two states," he said.
He said the Europeans were "ready to engage themselves in a constructive way" in efforts aimed at moving forward the Palestinian- Israeli peace negotiations provided that the Gaza withdrawal was "done in the proper way".
Fischer said the Gaza pullout should lead to the evacuation of the rest of occupied Palestinian territories.
Fischer also warned Sunday that an Iranian nuclear arms buildup would be a "nightmare." He said that saying Europe is looking to head off any dangerous confrontation with Tehran.
Fischer said an Iranian nuclear challenge only adds to Middle East problems that include bringing security and stability to postwar Iraq, resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict and introducing democratic reforms. The United States accuses Iran of using a nuclear energy program to hide nuclear weapons production, an accusation the Iranians deny and that has concerned Europe.
"It would be a nightmare for the region ... if there'd be the beginning of an arms race - a nuclear arms race - in the region," Fischer told reporters. "We are in intensive talks with Iran, and we hope the leadership in Tehran would not miscalculate the situation."
Fischer also indicated Germany, France and Britain were near an understanding with Tehran on supplying Iran with nuclear energy technology - a prospect the European have held out if their suspicions about a nuclear weapons program are alleviated.
"We think we have reached an agreement, and we are ready to fulfill our part step by step and word by word," Fischer said. The Iranians accused the Europeans of backing out on a previous commitment.
Fischer did not elaborate, but said: "We are really very serious to find a way out of a very dangerous, possible confrontation."
Washington has been lobbying for the International Atomic Energy Agency to refer Iran's nuclear dossier to the UN Security Council, which could impose sanctions on Iran.
Fischer, who arrived from neighboring Syria on Saturday, was also scheduled to hold talks with Jordan's King Abdullah II. The German minister is on a regional tour that will include Israel, the Palestinian territories and Egypt. He already has visited Lebanon.
On Iraq, Fischer said Germany still had a different perspective from that of the United States: "The U.S. is our close friend and ... most important ally, but I think we have a different view."
Fischer said Germany remained opposed to sending troops to Iraq, but that its contribution to rebuilding the war-ravaged country included humanitarian aid, debt relief and training Iraqi police.
Ghaith Abdul-Ahad / Getty Images
Sept. 6 issue - Six months ago, Abu Sajjad was rolling in cash. His cloth shop is right in front of the Imam Ali shrine, a great location to attract pilgrims visiting this holiest of Shiite sanctuaries. The faithful who flocked into Najaf from Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan bought hundreds of yards of fabric to take home as souvenirs. Now Abu Sajjad looks at his storefront, riddled with bullets and shrapnel, and shakes his head. "Why did this happen?" he asks. The area surrounding the shrine is a burned-out shell. Entire buildings look like they've been sliced in half. Broken telephone poles lean awkwardly across narrow streets, and tangled electrical wires droop down like old tinsel. Mosaics on the outer walls of the gold-domed shrine have been stripped away by shrapnel and stained with black soot. And still the young toughs loyal to rebel cleric Moqtada al-Sadr are nearby, manning a barricade behind a shot-up ambulance.
"We prayed for God to come and strike down these gangsters," says Abu Sajjad. But neither the U.S. Marines nor troops of the U.S.-approved Iraqi government finished the job. And many Iraqis are asking: Why? How is it that al-Sadr could lead two insurrections in five months and still be alive, much less negotiating a new truce through Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani? Who is backing the round-faced young mullah? Who is protecting him? The most common answerat once the simplest and the most complicatedis "Iran."
"Everyone is telling us that Iran is everywhere," says a senior Western diplomat in Baghdad. "It has become an obsession with Iraqis." And with Washington, too. U.S. intelligence and defense officials tell NEWSWEEK they have ample information pointing to Iranian support for al-Sadr. "He's clearly their guy," says one. But hedging their bets, "the Iranians are putting their chips down on red and black, even and odds," says another official in Washington. "At some point a winner will emerge on the political scene, and they just want to be sure they have leverage."
Iran and Iraq, in fact, have a ferocious, intimate enmity that dates back thousands of years. Especially in the holy precincts of the Shiite shrines, Persian and Arab populations have warred and mingled, embraced and intrigued against each other for generations, creating webs of relationships that challenge American comprehension. To give one striking example, Moqtada al-Sadr, the symbol of resistance and suspected collaborator with Iran, is of Arab blood. Ayatollah Sistani, who's seen by the Americans as their great white-bearded hope, and whose return to Najaf restored calm after three weeks of fighting, is of Iranian origin.
The Iranian leadership publicly cheers on the Iraqi rebels, even as it sometimes supports peacemaking efforts. At Friday prayers in Teheran last week, Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani likened the resistance in Najaf to the Russians' stand against the Nazis at Stalingrad. Such statements infuriate Washington's allies in Iraq, who see Iran as their natural strategic rival. "Iran is intervening to slaughter democracy in Iraq," Defense Minister Hazim Shaalan said recently. "It controls border points and sends spies and saboteurs to Iraq and infiltrated the new Iraqi government, including my ministry."
Some U.S. officials argue that Iran was always a bigger threat than Iraq. Former terrorism adviser Richard Clarke notes that Iran "funded and directed" Hizbullah organizations that blew up 242 American Marines in Beirut in 1983, and 19 U.S. military personnel at the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia in 1996. "Al Qaeda regularly used Iranian territory for transit and sanctuary prior to September 11," as Clarke wrote and the 9/11 Commission confirmed, and many of Al Qaeda's top leaders "moved across the border into Iran after U.S. forces finally invaded Afghanistan." Iran's nuclear program, meanwhile, continues on-again-off-again progress toward development of atomic weapons.
Faced with such challenges, Washington appears unable to decide whether confrontation or accommodation is the best response. Clarke says the Clinton administration looked at the possibility of all-out war against Iran after Khobar, but finally decided against it and sought ways to use covert action or limited military strikes instead. The Bush administration may have reached the same conclusion. Yet the presence of U.S. forces on the ground in Iraq has made them vulnerable to an Iranian-backed guerrilla war of attrition in a way they never were before.
The situation grows more convoluted every day. Even without Iranian meddling, the ill-prepared U.S. occupation has helped radicalize many young Shiites and push them toward leaders like al-Sadr. "Iraqi Shiites wouldn't naturally gravitate toward Iran," says Seyed Abbas al Modarrisi, a leading cleric in Karbala who spent nearly two decades exiled in Iran. "We're Arabs. They are Persians. And there are cultural differences. But many Shiites have lost faith in the Americans."
The fact that Iran's own government is badly divided might be some consolation to Washington, but it's also a source of confusion. Who can the Bush administration or Allawi's government talk to? Moderate reformist President Mohammed Khatami is almost completely marginalized. Rafsanjani and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the country's two main power brokers, don't always see eye to eye, while rich religious foundations and factions of the Iranian security services often have their own agendas. Some of the unrest in Iraq is traced to a special unit of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards known as the Quds Brigade. Its supposed leaders, Mohammed Agha Mohammadi and Mohammad Reza Naghdi, are both of Iraqi origin and could be looking to set up an independent power base.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.