Skip to comments.Iranian Alert -- September 6, 2004 [EST]-- IRAN LIVE THREAD -- "Americans for Regime Change in Iran"
Posted on 09/05/2004 9:02:40 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.
The International Atomic Energy Agency, which meets next week to discuss Iran's refusal to end its nuclear weapons programs, finds itself at a crossroads: It can continue its descent into irrelevancy; or it can cooperate with Washington and other democracies in encouraging private-sector nuclear energy programs for peaceful purposes.
In fairness to the IAEA, it is unreasonable to expect one international agency lacking an army of its own to face down rogue-state dictatorships like the regimes in Tehran or Pyongyang without strong support from the world's strongest military power, the United States. But it is perfectly legitimate to insist that IAEA Director-General Mohammed ElBaradei and his merry band of bureaucrats do no harm. This includes refraining from careless talk coming out of Vienna in recent weeks that appears to suggest the world would be better off if the nuclear industry were run by multinational government bureaucracies.
It is true that the IAEA's professional staff includes inspectors with a great deal of technical expertise about nuclear energy and nuclear weapons. But this expertise is meaningless as an anti-proliferation tool without the military backing of nation-states. Since the Cold War ended 15 years ago, there has been considerable progress toward taking nuclear weapons out of the hands of potentially dangerous regimes. Virtually all of this has occurred with the IAEA relegated to the sidelines.
Ronald Reagan's political resolve demonstrated by increased defense spending and American support of anti-Communist resistance movements in countries such as Afghanistan, Angola and Nicaragua helped trigger the collapse of the Soviet Union. As we noted recently, this has resulted in the destruction of 20,000 former Soviet nuclear warheads (many of which had been pointed at cities in the United States and Western Europe), and the conversion of highly enriched uranium from these weapons into low-enriched uranium, which provides electricity here in the United States. Following the collapse of Soviet Communism, former Soviet satellites, such as Ukraine and Kazakhstan, gave up their nuclear weapon infrastructures. After apartheid fell in South Africa, the government jettisoned that nation's atomic-weapons program.
Since that time, there have been even more successes particularly during the administration of President Bush. Much of nuclear material from what used to be Saddam Hussein's Iraqi weapons program and Col. Moammar Gadhafi's Libyan A-bomb plan lie in U.S. storage facilities in Tennessee. The Pakistani government has gone from active involvement in nuclear proliferation to cooperating with American efforts to terminate A.Q. Khan's nuclear network. Again, the recent progress results from the projection of American power during the current war on terrorism, not from IAEA actions.
Unfortunately, the IAEA feverishly working to make itself relevant has just embarked on a quixotic project it calls "Revisiting the Nuclear Fuel Cycle." Judging from the description of the project that appears in indecipherable bureaucratese on the agency's Web site, it sounds vaguely like an effort to put together some sort of government-run multinational agency to oversee nuclear energy programs abroad. That sounds like a sure-fire way to send private investors fleeing from the civilian nuclear energy sector a very foolish and harmful idea.
Posted Sunday, September 5, 2004
PARIS, 5 Sept. (IPS) The Islamic Republic of Iran on Sunday repeated that it was still going on with its commitment to suspend uranium enrichment.
Making the remarks in his weekly press briefing, Iranian Foreign Affairs Ministrys senior spokesman Hamid-Reza Asefi said Iran has already agreed to take certain measures in return for the commitments the Europeans assume regarding closing of Irans file at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
The Protocol allows IAEA experts full and unconditional access to all Iranian nuclear sites and projects, but Iran refuses inspection of military installations.
Mr. Asefi was referring to the agreement signed last October between foreign affairs ministers of Britain, France and Germany with Hojjatoleslam Hasan Rohani, the powerful Secretary of Supreme Council on National Security to sign the Additional Protocol to the Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and suspend enriching uranium against Europes pledge to help Iran access to nuclear technologies for civilian purposes and closing Irans dossier at the IAEA.
The Protocol allows IAEA experts full and unconditional access to all Iranian nuclear sites and projects, but Iran refuses inspection of military installations.
Iran was still committed to its promise to suspend uranium enrichment, the spokesman said not mentioning the fact that Tehran has failed to respect its pledge by announcing that it had resumed both uranium enriching activities and making parts for nuclear centrifuges, which can enrich uranium to the weapons-grade level needed for use in nuclear warheads.
It also resumed operations at a plant that produces uranium hexafluoride, the gas pumped into centrifuges.
"Suspension of enrichment continues but the issue of building centrifuges parts is a separate issue and it should be differentiated", Asefi argued, adding, The Europeans should understand that manufacturing parts is a topic totally different from uranium enrichment.
According to Mr. Asefi, Iran expected its file to be closed in the upcoming IAEA meeting, but unfortunately it was said that the IAEA needed more time to decide.
On Friday 3 September, the European Union foreign affairs ministers said from Valkenburg, in Holland, that Iran's nuclear program has cast a shadow over its relations with Europe.
We want to send out a very strong signal that we mean business", said Dutch Foreign Minister Ben Bot, whose country holds the EU presidency. "We cannot accept ... the development of weapons grade uranium by Iran, he added, referring to a U.N. report this week showing that Iran plans to process tons of raw uranium.
The 25 members European Union suspended the signing of a Trade and Cooperation Agreement with the Islamic Republic in protest against degradation of human rights situation, Tehrans support for international terrorism and opposing peace between the Palestinian Authority and Israel.
Answering to a question on the probability of Irans case to be transferred to the United Nations Security Council, Asefi expressed his belief that the case was definitely over unless US refused to abide by international laws.
He stressed that even in that case the international community could judge for itself and said Tehran believed the case could easily be settled among Iran, Europe and the IAEA.
IAEA experts revealed recently that Iran has resumed activities aimed at producing material needed for making atomic weapons.
Sources working on Irans controversial nuclear activities told Iran Press Service that while Washington presses hard the United Nations nuclear watchdog to transfer the case to the Security Council for possible sanctions against Iran, but it is unlikely that it would succeed.
On the other hand, the case would not be closed at the IAEAs coming meeting, due to Europes Big 3 suspicions on Irans commitments, one source explained.
According to the Iranian official news agency IRNA, Mr. Asefi told reporters that the report in a general view proves that Iran has been very transparent, straight and clear in its dealings with the IAEA which, he believed, was sufficient for world public opinion to judge fairly on the case.
But IAEA experts revealed recently that Iran has resumed activities aimed at producing material needed for making atomic weapons.
The Agency said in a report this week that Iran plans to process more than 40 tons of uranium into uranium hexafluoride gas. Experts said the amount was enough for four or five warheads.
On Thursday, Iran acknowledged it plans to process tons of raw uranium, but said the IAEA was informed long ago. Iran maintains its nuclear program is geared only toward producing electricity, not a nuclear bomb.
Ali Akbar Salehi, Iran's former envoy to the IAEA said Iran's uranium conversion facilities facility in Isfahan, in central Iran, has a capacity of converting more than 300 tons of uranium ore into hexafluoride gas annually.
"The Agency knew the capacity of the facility before it was built. The facility is under IAEA safeguards", the American news agency Associated Press quoted Mr. Salehi, now an advisor to the Foreign Affairs Minister, as having said, adding that the capacity of Iran's uranium enrichment plant in Natanz was 30 tons per year.
The facility in Natanz uses centrifuges to enrich uranium hexafluoride gas and turn it into pellets that are then used as fuel in nuclear reactors.
Iran acknowledged it plans to process tons of raw uranium.
At their recent meeting in the black Sea resort of Sochi, leaders of France, Germany and Russia stressed on their efforts and cooperation in stopping the Islamic Republic joining the Atomic Club by acquiring nuclear bomb.
Another question was posed to the spokesman on chances of Irans adopting more radical positions if its file fails to be closed at the IAEA to which Asefi answered that Iran acted according to its national interests and expressed the hope the IAEA would go on with its duties independently and free from political pressures.
The question concerned the visible hardening of Iranian attitude towards both the IAEA and the European Union ever since the ruling conservatives secured the control of the Legislative in the last elections, with new lawmakers repeating threats of not ratifying the Protocol when it comes to the Majles in case the IAEA and Europes Big 3 refuses to satisfy Iranian demands for access to nuclear technologies.
He said such an independent and expert attitude on the part of the IAEA would pave the way for enhancement of cooperation between Iran and the European countries.
Mr. Asefi also announced that Mr. Rohani will leave Tehran for the Netherlands on Monday and then to Vienna, ahead of the next meeting of the Board of Governors of the IAEA scheduled on 13 September in Vienna, where the organisation is based.
The Netherlands holds the presidency of the European Union (EU) at present.
Touching upon the IAEA report which is due to be presented to the upcoming IAEA meeting, Asefi commented that the report could have been compiled in a more conclusive and comprehensive manner.
Israeli attack on Irans nuclear facilities is a "silly joke and psychological war.
Asefi remarked that the vague points about the sources of contamination have also been removed by the report which stresses that the contaminations were imported into the country from foreign sources.
This makes the allegation of Irans conducting activities outside the domain of its authority an irrelevant one, he asserted, according to IRNA.
Elsewhere, the spokesman dismissed the threat of an Israeli attack on Irans nuclear facilities as a "silly joke and psychological war".
"The Israelis have an accurate appraisal of their own capabilities and Iran's capabilities. And they know that resorting to this(attacking Iran) will only translate into a decisive and irrevocable response to the Zionist regime", he added, referring to the escalating war of words and threats between Iran and Israel, which accuses Iran of seeking nuclear weapons to destroy the Jewish State. ENDS IRAN NUCLEAR 5904
Posted Sunday, September 5, 2004
TEHRAN, 5 Sept. (IPS) Several Iranian fundamentalist women demonstrated Saturday in front of the French Embassy in Tehran denouncing what they described as Frances anti-hejab interdiction laws.
The women, all basijis (volunteers, controlled by the conservatives) wearing black chadors or dressed in full Islamic gear, -- baggy head to toe shirts in dark colours -- and belonging to some so-called non government organisations chanted slogans such as Death to Anti-freedoms, France the liar, where is your slogan of liberty? or Frances laws are our shame etc.
But eyewitnesses said the women had been bussed to the spot.
Contrary to most Arab countries that offered their help to France to free the journalists, Iran did nothing.
The demonstrators also called for a meeting with the French ambassador to Tehran.
The Iranian clerical-led authorities allowed the demonstrations as two French journalists are still at the hand of the Islamic Army of Iraq that has conditioned their release to the abolition of the Secularity Law that bans all visible signs of belonging to any religion or ideology inside public schools in France.
Observers noted that the Islamic Republic had strongly denounced the incriminated law from the outset, describing it as a measure aimed at the Muslims freedom to observe the hejab, or the Islamic mandatory dress for Muslim women.
However, the law went into effect on 2 September throughout of France with almost no major incident reported, as many young Muslim girls took off their headscarf to express their solidarity with the imprisoned journalists.
Christian Chesnot and Georges Malbrunot, working for Radio France International and the centre of right newspaper Le Figaro went missing on 20 August on their way from Baghdad to Najaf to cover the fighting between Iraqi and American forces with the followers of the rebel Shia cleric Moqtada al Sadrs Army of Mahdi, on the name of the Shias twelfth Imam that went in the hiding at the age of eight and is expected to re-appear the world once it is full of sin and corruption.
The abduction of the men triggered a wave of national unity among all French political and religious personalities and organisations and angered the public opinion, mostly because France was the flag bearer of nations opposing American and British plans to attack Iraq.
The Islamic Republic had strongly denounced the law that went into effect on 2 September, with almost no major incident.
Leader of Frances five to six million Muslim communities took an active part in the negotiations with Iraqs Sunni leaders to secure the freedom of the journalists alongside many Arab political and religious leaders.
While condemning the hostage taking, they also reiterated that the law had nothing discriminatory against the Muslims.
Contrary to most Arab countries that offered their help to France and called on the Islamic Army of Iraq to free the journalists unharmed, Iran did nothing except condemning the group that is believed to have also abducted one Iranian diplomat whom it say belongs to the Revolutionary Guards intelligence.
Demonstrators were dispersed by the Police after they went the nearby Italian embassy, according to press reports. ENDS ANTI FRANCH DEMOS 5904
Sun Sep 5, 8:59 AM ET
TEHRAN (AFP) - Iran's Islamic regime hit out at the Belgian royal family for choosing the son of its ousted shah to be a godfather of one of its latest additions.
"The issue of godfathering a child is not very important to talk about, but it is surprising how the Belgians of all people have chosen an incompetent person for this job," foreign ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi told reporters.
"However it's their business and we will have nothing to do with it."
Princess Louise, the eighth grand daughter of the Belgian King Albert II, was baptised Saturday with Reza Pahlavi, the late Iranian shah's eldest son, as her unofficial godfather.
The little princess, born in February, had to wait seven months to be baptised due to her father's controversial choice.
Soon after the birth of his daughter, Prince Laurent -- the king's youngest son -- announced he had a "Muslim friend" with whom "he wished to entrust the role of the godfather".
The US-based Pahlavi is a friend of Prince Laurent and his wife Princess Claire.
The decision has worried the Belgian government, which did not want a crisis with Tehran. Moreover Catholic law does not recognise godfathers of other religions, meaning he was eventually named as an unofficial godfather.
Iran's clerical regime, founded after the 1979 ouster of the Iranian royal family, is quick to speak out against the family getting any kind of official recognition.
In May Iran lodged an official complaint with Jordan after Farah Diba, the widow of the ousted Iranian shah, was invited to the wedding reception of Crown Prince Hamza bin Hussein to his distant cousin, Princess Noor.
In the same month the invitation of both Farah Diba and her son to the marriage of Spain's Crown Prince Felipe de Bourbon and former television news presenter Letizia Ortiz sparked a mini-crisis between Tehran and Madrid.
Sun Sep 5, 8:10 AM ET
TEHRAN (AFP) - Iran again hit out at Canada for complaining about the murder in custody here of Canadian-Iranian photographer Zahra Kazemi, saying Ottawa was only crying "crocodile tears".
"We are confounded by him and his statements," Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said of Canada's Foreign Minister Pierre Pettigrew.
In recent weeks Pettigrew has upped his tone against Iran by saying dialogue with the Islamic republic was a "farce" and calling for greater international pressure on the clerical regime.
"We don't know on what basis he passes such hasty opinions. Zahra Kazemi was an Iranian. The Islamic republic's government is deeply sorry, it was a devastating accident but there is no need for the Canadians' crocodile tears," Asefi said.
The Canadian government has accused Iran's hardline judiciary of covering up how Kazemi, 56, died in hospital after sustaining a blow in custody.
Between her arrest and her admission to hospital, Kazemi was interrogated by judicial prosecutors, the police and the intelligence ministry, rival power power centres in Iran which have since blamed each other for the death.
Intelligence ministry agent, Mohammad Reza Aghdam Ahmadi, 42, was cleared of "quasi-intentional murder" in July, and the judiciary said later Kazemi's death seemed to have been accidental as "the only suspect" had been found not guilty.
Despite an apparent effort by the judiciary to close the affair, Asefi insisted "this case is not closed and done with yet".
"it was a devastating accident"
It was a devasting beating and NO accident.
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Iran's promise: '80 seconds of hell'
Sep 5, 2004, 06:09
Iranians returning to their roots.
By Alan Caruba
web posted September 6, 2004
If you want an object lesson in why Sen. Kerry's assertion that simply by working with our allies to solve threats to our nation and elsewhere around the world is wrong, wrong, wrong, I direct your attention to the nation of Iran.
Diplomacy is not working. The threat of United Nations sanctions is not working. Three nations, England, France and Germany have been meeting with the Iranian ayatollahs who run that nation and the result, as Washington Post columnist, Charles Krauthammer, recently noted was that "They have been led by the nose. Iran is caught red-handed with illegally enriched uranium and the Tehran Three prevail upon the Bush administration to do nothing while they persuade the mullahs to act nice."
These are not nice people. Just ask the 69 million Iranians who chafe under their oppression. These are the mullahs who took American diplomats hostage in 1979 and held them hostage for 444 days. They have been in a virtual state of war with both America and Israel ever since.
Even The New York Times has taken notice. On August 8, an article headlined "Diplomacy Fails to Slow Advance of Nuclear Arms" by David E. Sanger reported that none of the efforts involving European and Asian allies has managed to achieve anything with either Iran or North Korea. In the words of one unidentified administration official, the only option left is to "disrupt or delay as long as we can" Iran efforts to develop a nuclear weapon.
So it is not if they do, but when they do have nuclear weapons. And then it becomes not if, but when, the United States decides to remove this menace with a few well-placed bunker-buster bombs.
If the lessons of history are any indicatorand they always arethere is only one option left. Iran's nuclear facilities must be destroyed by military action. Or to put it another way, by preemption of its ability to begin producing nuclear weapons. One wonders what the critics of preemption, some of whom claim the US was "misled" into invading Iraq, will say about an Iran that acquires the ability to threaten their neighbors, destroy the entire nation of Israel, and possibly even threaten our cities with suitcase A-bombs.
For those who have short memories or none at all, Saddam Hussein was deterred from his own nuclear weapons program when, on June 7, 1981, Israeli F-15 and F-16 fighter-bombers took off from Etzion Air Base in the Sinai and destroyed the Osirak nuclear reactor under construction. The French were building that reactor for the Iraqi dictator. Today, it is the Russians who are helping to build Iran's nuclear facilities.
Why would a nation that sits atop huge reserves of oil and has the second-largest natural gas reserves in the world after Russia need nuclear power to generate energy? The answer is they do not. The only reason for nuclear facilities is to acquire the ability to threaten its neighbors. Both Pakistan and India have such capabilities and they managed to scare each other so badly last year that even they have gotten together to defuse the situation.
Having a nuclear weapon and being willing to pay the price for using it are two different things. The problem with Iran, however, is that they work from the same playbook as Osama bin Laden. The ayatollahs would use these weapons, on missiles or delivered by some other means, to destroy their declared enemies. In the case of Iran, diplomacy has failed because you cannot cut a deal with lunatics who take their orders from Allah.
Complimenting or facilitating the outcome is the fact that the US now has a large number of its troops in Iraq and will for the foreseeable future. It has troops in other Middle Eastern nations as well. If Sen. Kerry is elected, he has promised to withdraw those troops as quickly as possible. For which, I'm sure, the Iranians are quite grateful. But not grateful enough to stop their efforts to acquire nuclear weapons that pose a direct threat to our nation.
Moreover, Israel is on record saying it will never permit Iran to reach the point where it can manufacture or deliver nuclear weapons. Attacking Iran, however, would be impossible without the tacit permission of the United States. There is no way the Israelis could send their bombers across Iraq to get at Iran's nuclear facilities without the US granting the access they'd need. It will not happen.
Which leaves the job to the United States of America. At some point after the election, assuming that President Bush is reelected, the preemptive option will have to be used. One scenario would be to first destroy North Korea's facilities as an object lesson. Is there an alternative? No. Diplomacy has failed. United Nations posturing has failed. And the threat is too real to ignore.
Alan Caruba writes a weekly column, "Warning Signs", posted on www.anxietycenter.com, the Internet site of The National Anxiety Center. © Alan Caruba 2004
House of Iran's father of physics collapsing
Monday, September 06, 2004
LONDON, Sep 5 (IranMania) - Only a few days after the 12th death anniversary of the father of physics in Iran, Professor Mahmud Hessabi, on September 3, the Cultural Heritage News Agency (CHN) reported on Sunday that the house where Hesabi was born is collapsing.
Registered on Irans National Cultural Heritage List a few years ago, the building is located in an alley near Vahdat-e Eslami Avenue in downtown Tehran.
The house is in critical condition, such that the building may collapse at any moment and the legal problems and lack of official attention are worsening the situation, the report stated.
In addition, the watering of the green space around the house has destroyed a large section of the building.
Nasser Pazuki, the managing director of the Tehran Cultural Heritage Department, confirmed the report, adding, Our department has been restricted in this case by a number of legal problems in its efforts to save the building.
He said that the Hessabi family had asked the department to purchase the building from the persons who were allegedly its owners, but added, Sufficient funds are not available to buy the house.
Meanwhile eyewitnesses say the building will collapse soon.
The Tehran City Council has been preparing a plan since last year to restore the houses of Iranian luminaries in the city, but it seems the plan will be implemented too late to save many of these sites including Professor Hessabis house.
His other house in northern Tehran has been converted into a museum displaying his personal belongings and work equipment.
He was born in 1903 in Tehran. At the age of seven he moved to Beirut where he began attending school. At the age of seven he memorized the Qur'an by heart and later started to read great works of Persian literature. People regarded him as a child prodigy.
At the age of seventeen he obtained a Bachelor of Science degree from the American University of Beirut. Later, he obtained a B.S. in civil engineering while working as a draftsman. After a short period of time he also obtained B.S. degrees in mathematics and astronomy.
He had a scientific mind and continued his studies in the filed of physics at La Sorbonne University in Paris, where he received a Ph.D. in physics at the age of twenty-five.
He lectured at universities for three working generations.
He spoke five modern languages fluently: Persian, French, English, German, and Arabic. He also knew Sanskrit, Latin, Greek, Pahlavi Persian, Avestan Persian, Turkish, and Italian, which he used in his etymological studies.
His theory of "infinitely extended particles" is famous in the international scientific community. He was awarded the Commandeur de la Legion dHonneur, France's greatest scientific medal, for his theories.
Professor Hesabi was the only Iranian student of Professor Albert Einstein and was known to be his favorite student. During his years of scientific research he met many distinguished scientists such as Erwin Schrodinger, Max Born, Enrico Fermi, Paul Dirac, and Aage Niels Bohr and scholars such as Bertrand Russell and Andre Gide.
He was honored for the services he rendered to the country at the 60 Years of Physics in Iran congress and given the title "the father of physics in Iran".
He was the founder of the Atomic Research Center, the atomic reactor at Tehran University, and the Atomic Energy Center of Iran.
Professor Hesabi died on September 3, 1992 at the University Hospital of Geneva.
As Hesabi wished, he was buried in the city of Tafresh in his ancestors homeland Central Province.
During his years of scientific research he met many distinguished scientists such as Erwin Schrodinger, Max Born, Enrico Fermi, Paul Dirac, and Aage Niels Bohr and scholars such as Bertrand Russell and Andre Gide.
The Associated Press
Sunday, September 5, 2004; 7:03 PM
TEHRAN, Iran - An Iranian-based cleric who had been the former spiritual guide of radical anti-U.S. Iraqi Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr has distanced himself from his former pupil's actions, his Web site said Sunday.
Grand Ayatollah Kazem al-Hosseini al-Haeri, who lives in the holy Iranian city of Qom, said al-Sadr, whose loyalists have engaged in deadly clashes with U.S. forces in Iraq, is no longer his representative in that war-torn country.
"Mr. al-Sadr used to be our representative ... but that was on condition of obedience to and coordination with our office in Najaf (southern Iraq)," al-Haeri said in comments posted on his Web site.
Al-Haeri said al-Sadr "does not coordinate with our office, so his agency became void." He added that al-Sadr "does not seek our advice in his stances, so we cannot endorse what he does."
The grand ayatollah has been critical of the uprising by al-Sadr's Mahdi Army militia, which battled U.S. forces for weeks in April and May, then once more in August.
Al-Sadr is young - in his 30s - and a relatively low-level cleric in the Shiite religious hierarchy. Al-Haeri, who holds the highest clerical rank, gave him some religious legitimacy as he built his movement.
With the uprising, al-Sadr has gained popularity in some Shiites' eyes as a nationalist, anti-U.S. opponent. But he lost standing among some religious leaders because his fighters used the holy city of Najaf as their stronghold during the violence.
Al-Haeri was the closest adviser to Sadr's father, Grand Ayatollah Ayatollah Mohammed Sadiq al-Sadr, who was killed by suspected Saddam Hussein agents in 1999. The father named al-Haeri, who has lived in exile in Iran for more than 20 years, as his successor.
Another senior cleric, Iranian Sheik Hassan Hosseini, said Sunday that Muqtada al-Sadr's record among Shiite religious authorities had also been blackened by a religious court that had been run in Najaf by al-Sadr followers, which is believed to have carried out summary executions.
"I think it is for this reason that Mr. al-Haeri, too, has turned his back (to al-Sadr)," Hosseini, a lecturer at the Qom Seminary, told The Associated Press. "This act (of the Islamic courts) was against Islamic teachings."
An accord reached earlier this month in Iraq ended three weeks of fighting between U.S. forces and al-Sadr militiamen in Najaf, site of the Imam Ali shrine that is holy to Shiite Muslims around the world.
Irans hardliners roll back Khatamis reforms, but how far?
6 September 2004
TEHERAN - Irans dominant conservatives have been rolling back the tentative liberalisation of reformist President Mohammad Khatami since winning control of parliament in disputed polls earlier this year, but it remains unclear how far to the right they will take the Islamic republic.
Since the February elections, won by hardliners after most moderates were barred from standing, the Islamic republics right-wing has implemented a tough crackdown on social vices, pressed on with silencing dissident voices and stalled key foreign investors lured by Khatamis brand of Islamic glasnost.
They are trying to wipe away everything done by the previous parliament, whether political, social, cultural or economic, Elaheh Koulaie, a former reformist MP, told AFP.
Koulaie, a womens rights activist, was part of the reformist majority that held the Iranian Majlis or parliament from 2000 to 2004. The assembly managed to change the political tone of the country, even if most legislation was blocked by the Guardians Council - a hardline-run vetting body.
The Guardians Council eventually barred most reformists from contesting the February polls, handing an easy win to right-wingers. Khatami and a handful of his cabinet members have been left isolated as the few remaining moderates still in office.
The new parliament rejected the bill on equality for inheritance that we voted through the first time around. They also removed an article from the fourth five-year plan on gender equality, Koulaie complained.
The shift to the right has also been visible on the streets.
In recent months, police have been spearheading a crackdown on badly-veiled women - in other words females showing off too much of their shape or hair, and one of the most tangible results of Khatamis seven-year-old presidency.
We ask for the respect of Islamic values cherished by people, and not for the following of Western models, said one of the new conservative MPs, Javad Arianmanesh.
We distinguish between a cultural invasion and cultural exchange. In a cultural exchange we select what is appropriate, but we utterly reject cultural invasion since it targets our indigenous culture and wants to alienate our people - especially the youth, said the MP and deputy head of the Majlis cultural commission.
Concerning satellite television - which is banned - and the Internet, he said such mediums of communication are not fully pure and are run by big media giants controlled by Zionist capital.
Therefore we want to have satellite and Internet controlled and supervised.
Several pro-reform web sites and newspapers have been blocked or closed down - a sign that the flourishing political debate brought about under the Khatami era remains under assault.
Hardliners have also set their sights on stemming economic liberalisation, even though reviving the stagnant and investment-starved economy was a central plank of their election manifesto.
Contrary to the conservatives slogans in favour of a liberal economy, they also rejected an article in the fourth five year plan in favour of privatisations, Koulaie said.
Hardline deputies have also spoken out against a mobile telephone operation contract awarded to Turkish telecoms giant Turkcell, as well as a contract with French carmaker Renault to jointly build a new national car.
Foreign investor confidence was also dealt a blow when the Revolutionary Guards - an ideological army and powerful right-wing bastion - shut down Tehrans new airport on the grounds that a contract handed to an Autrian-Turkish consortium threatened national security.
But observers are uncertain how far towards renewed isolation the right wing want to go.
The conservative camp groups idealists and realists, and we hope that the realists will take the leading role, said Koulaie, pointing to differences within the right-wing camp.
According to journalist and analyst Said Leylaz, the radicals in the conservative camp are trying to go back on the liberalism of the Khatami years, but they are not fully supported by the technocrats and traditional right.
Khatamis second and final term in office ends in June 2005, and observers see the upcoming presidential election as a gauge on how far to the right the regime intends to go. Already the names of several conservative candidates are circulating, with prominent right-wingers showing some difficulty in hiding their divisions.
The conservative candidate in the next presidential election will show which current in the camp is ahead, said Leylaz.
The Defense Ministry blamed a malfunction in the third stage of the Shavit rocket, which took off from an air base south of Tel Aviv. Witnesses saw a flash of light near coastal Palmahim base. There were no reports of casualties. The Ofek-6 satellite destroyed in the crash was developed by a consortium led by state-owned Israel Aircraft Industries.
Israeli defense sources said the Ofek-6 -- the latest in Israel's locally produced line of spy satellites -- was intended to improve surveillance over Iran. Israel's strategic defense systems depend on satellites to spot incoming missile threats.
"Such incidents are very expensive for all involved," a defense source said about the lost satellite.
The setback came days after Israel's missile-killer system, the Arrow II, failed to shoot down a dummy missile off the coast of California.
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