Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Iranian Alert - November 1, 2004 [EST]- IRAN LIVE THREAD - "Americans for Regime Change in Iran"
Regime Change Iran ^ | 11.1.2004 | DoctorZin

Posted on 10/31/2004 9:15:47 PM PST 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 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. 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.


TOPICS: Foreign Affairs; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: armyofmahdi; ayatollah; cleric; humanrights; iaea; insurgency; iran; iranianalert; iraq; islamicrepublic; journalist; kazemi; khamenei; khatami; khatemi; lsadr; moqtadaalsadr; mullahs; persecution; persia; persian; politicalprisoners; protests; rafsanjani; revolutionaryguard; rumsfeld; satellitetelephones; shiite; southasia; southwestasia; studentmovement; studentprotest; terrorism; terrorists; wot
Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-2021-24 next last
Join Us At Today's Iranian Alert Thread – The Most Underreported Story Of The Year!

"If you want on or off this Iran ping list, Freepmail DoctorZin

1 posted on 10/31/2004 9:15:50 PM PST by DoctorZIn
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: DoctorZIn

Go Goli Ameri!

2 posted on 10/31/2004 9:21:55 PM PST by proudpapa (of three.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Pan_Yans Wife; fat city; freedom44; Tamsey; Grampa Dave; PhiKapMom; McGavin999; Hinoki Cypress; ...
Join Us At Today's Iranian Alert Thread – The Most Underreported Story Of The Year!

3 posted on 10/31/2004 9:35:30 PM PST by DoctorZIn
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: DoctorZIn

Iran denies European allegations regarding human rights violations

31-10-2004, 12:02
Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi, referring to recent European Parliament allegations of human rights violations by Iran, said on Sunday there is no need for it to pre-judge issues or tell Iran what to do.

At his weekly press briefing, Asefi told reporters that the Islamic Republic is under obligation to observe human rights based on Islamic teachings and that it has tried to remove any points of inconsistency in its enforcement of these rights. "If the European Parliament desires to talk about current issues, it would do better by paying due attention to the situation of religious minorities and Muslims in Europe," Asefi commented.

Asked about the results of recent talks between Tehran and the European Big 3 (Britain, France and Germany) and the nuclear package offered by the EU to Iran to try to end the nuclear standoff, the Iranian official said that talks were continuing and the two sides were working on a joint compromise plan that would be offered to the two sides' officials.

Referring to a report caliming a European Big 3 proposal for Iran to suspend its uranium enrichment activities for a period of 10 years, Asefi said that the Europeans "did not set a period of time for any suspension."

"What they have said," added the spokesman, "was that Iran suspend its enrichment activities for as long as the talks were ongoing." (

4 posted on 10/31/2004 9:36:02 PM PST by DoctorZIn
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: DoctorZIn

China signs giant oil deal with Iran

Beijing, China, Oct. 30 (UPI) -- China's Sinopec Group has signed a $70 billion oil and natural gas agreement with Iran, the China Daily reported Sunday.

The huge agreement is China's biggest energy deal with the No. 2 producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, the newspaper said.

Under a memorandum of understanding signed Thursday, Sinopec Group will buy 250 million tons of liquefied natural gas over 30 years from Iran and develop the giant Yadavaran field, the China Daily said. Iran is also committed to export 150,000 barrels per day of crude oil to China for 25 years at market prices after commissioning of the field.

Iran's oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh, who is on a two-day visit to Beijing pursuing closer ties, said Iran is China's biggest oil supplier and wants to be its long-term business partner, the newspaper said.

Official figures show that China imported 226 million tons of oil in 2003, about 13 percent of which coming from Iran, the paper said. Beijing expects to secure foreign energy supplies by the deals for its economy, which has turned China into a major oil importer but suffers severe power shortages.

5 posted on 10/31/2004 9:36:32 PM PST by DoctorZIn
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: DoctorZIn

Compromise Said Possible on Iran Nukes

Sunday October 31, 2004 10:01 PM

AP Photo VAH103


Associated Press Writer

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - Defiant lawmakers - shouting ``Death to America'' - unanimously voted Sunday to approve the outline of a bill requiring the government to resume uranium enrichment, a move likely to deepen an international dispute over Tehran's atomic activities.

Nevertheless, Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Hossein Mousavian, told The Associated Press in an exclusive interview that a compromise could still be reached with European negotiators to avert the risk of U.N. sanctions.

Britain, France and Germany have offered Iran a trade deal and peaceful nuclear technology - including a light-water research reactor - in return for assurances Iran would indefinitely stop enriching uranium. Uranium enriched to a low level can be used to produce nuclear fuel, but if enriched further it can be used to make nuclear weapons.

While lawmakers were discussing the bill, Mousavian ruled out an indefinite suspension of enrichment activities. But he suggested Iran would consider halting the building of more nuclear facilities, which it would need to produce enough fuel for additional power plants.

Washington has accused Iran of trying to build atomic weapons and has pushed for the case to be referred to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions if Tehran doesn't give up all uranium enrichment activities before a Nov. 25 meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog.

``I see the chance of a compromise before November as 50-50,'' Mousavian told the AP.

``We have rejected two possibilities: cessation and unlimited suspension,'' he said. ``We told the Europeans if your target is cessation, it will be impossible. But we are flexible if your proposal is balanced.''

Tehran maintains its nuclear program is for peaceful energy purposes.

Mousavian said some progress was ``definitely'' made during Iran's talks last week with Europeans, who he said ``showed flexibility and understanding.''

However, those negotiations could be hampered if Iran's government obliges calls by lawmakers to push ahead with enrichment.

Parliament speaker Gholam Ali Haddad Adel said Sunday's vote by the conservative-dominated parliament in favor of the outline of a bill that forces their government to resume uranium enrichment sent a message to the world.

``The message of the absolute vote for the Iranian nation is that the parliament supports national interests,'' he said. ``And the message for the outside world is that the parliament won't give in to coercion.''

No date was set for discussing details of the legislation and the outline did not include a deadline for the government to resume uranium enrichment.

Another vote is expected on the bill when details are worked out, but that is usually a formality. The bill also requires approval by the hard-line Guardian Council.

Iran is not prohibited from enriching uranium under its obligations to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, but faces growing international pressure to suspend such activities as a good-faith gesture.

Britain, Germany and France have warned most European states will back Washington's call to refer Iran's case to the Security Council if it does not agree to a compromise. The IAEA is also trying to persuade Iran to limit nuclear activities.

But Iran's nuclear program is an issue of national pride that provides a rare point of agreement between many conservatives and reformers.

Iran, which repeatedly has refused to give up its nuclear program, last year suspended actual uranium enrichment. However, Tehran has rejected demands that it stop all other activities related to enrichment, such as building centrifuges.

Iran already has nuclear facilities in Isfahan and Natanz, but officials say that at full capacity they would only be able to supply one power plant.

``It will take a minimum of five years for Iran to provide fuel for one nuclear power plant,'' Mousavian said. ``If they (the Europeans) guarantee nuclear fuel, we would welcome it. It will be the best guarantee not to go for expansion.''

Mousavian said any compromise would also have to include a timetable. ``We can't agree to an open-ended package,'' he said.

He said a third round of talks with the Europeans is planned, after two previous meeting in Vienna. But it has not yet been scheduled.

6 posted on 10/31/2004 9:36:59 PM PST by DoctorZIn
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: DoctorZIn

Iran denies sheltering Laden 2004-11-01 10:35:11

Osama bin Laden speaks in this image made from an undated video broadcast on Friday, Oct. 29, 2004 by Arab television station Al-Jazeera. <BR><BR>
<P>In the statement, bin Laden directly admitted for the first time that he carried out the Sept. 11 attacks, and said 'the best way to avoid another Manhattan' was to stop threatening Muslims' security. Al-Jazeera, based in Qatar, did not say how it had received the tape. (China Daily/AP)
Osama bin Laden speaks in this image made from an undated video broadcast on Friday, Oct. 29, 2004 by Arab television station Al-Jazeera. (Reuters Photo)

    BEIJING, Nov. 1 (Xinhuanet) -- Iran has denied reports that it is sheltering Osama bin Laden, leader of the terrorist Al-Qaida group.

    Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid-Reza Asefi was quoted as saying that "American papers always manage to come up with such juicy news when an important event such as the presidential election is near. "

    Asefi stressed that neither Bin Laden nor any other extremist from Al-Qaida is in Iran. However, he acknowledged that a number of low-rank al-Qaida operatives were in Iranian prisons.

    Asefi said that he believed the spread of such news was an attempt to cover up the US failure in the fight against terrorism.

    Some American media, including the Washington Times, claimed last week that bin Laden crossed from Afghanistan into Iran in July 2002 under a deal with Tehran.

    Iran has reiterated that it is against any principles and activities of terrorism.


7 posted on 10/31/2004 9:37:26 PM PST by DoctorZIn
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: DoctorZIn

The Iranian government denies everything. According to President Khatami they have the most democratic government in the world. :)

8 posted on 10/31/2004 9:41:07 PM PST by freedom44
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: DoctorZIn

9 posted on 10/31/2004 10:23:56 PM PST by freedom44
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: freedom44

I love the ad...

10 posted on 10/31/2004 10:26:35 PM PST by DoctorZIn
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: DoctorZIn

Here & there October 26, 2004

An interesting picture: while on a recent trip to Rome and the Vatican, during the descent from the top of the dome of Saint Peter's Cathedral in Vatican City, there is at some point a long list of plaques commemorating the ascension of State Leaders from over three centuries to the top of the dome itself.

The attached photo, taken by myself, is the plaque documenting the ascension of Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi. It reads:

On the 20th of August 1948, His Imperial Majesty Shahanshah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi ascended to the Vatican and entered the internal part of the Dome.

I believe this to be one of the last official public plaques commemorating the Shah to be seen around Europe, and most certainly around Rome. This plaque was in the "Eastern rulers" section of the list, right next to the one commemorating Japanese Emperor Hirohito's ascent.

An interesting fact: this visit took place before the notorious stop-over during the troubled Mossadegh days of 1953... the Shah and Soraya did not have time or yearning for tourism then.
11 posted on 10/31/2004 10:46:26 PM PST by freedom44
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: DoctorZIn

Iranian Majlis - Parliament. Exciting as usual.
12 posted on 10/31/2004 10:48:14 PM PST by freedom44
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: freedom44

Red States Targeted By Al Qaeda

By DoctorZin

The U.S. media made a huge error in its translation of Osama Bin Laden's most recent speech.

Bin Laden was not offering to spare the United States from more terrorism, if President Bush is not reelected. Rather, he was warning that those states that vote for John Kerry in Tuesday's election will be spared terrorist attacks.

According to the Middle East Media Research Institute,
"the words "ay wilaya" (which means "each U.S. state")(2) to mean a "country" or "nation" other than the U.S., while in fact the threat was directed specifically at each individual U.S. state.

This suggests some knowledge by bin Laden of the U.S. electoral college system. In a section of his speech in which he harshly criticized George W. Bush, bin Laden stated: "Any U.S. state that does not toy with our security automatically guarantees its own security."

The Islamist website Al-Qal'a explained what this sentence meant: "This message was a warning to every U.S. state separately. When he [Osama Bin Laden] said, 'Every state will be determining its own security, and will be responsible for its choice,' it means that any U.S. state that will choose to vote for the white thug Bush as president has chosen to fight us, and we will consider it our enemy, and any state that will vote against Bush has chosen to make peace with us, and we will not characterize it as an enemy. By this characterization, Sheikh Osama wants to drive a wedge in the American body, to weaken it, and he wants to divide the American people itself between enemies of Islam and the Muslims, and those who fight for us, so that he doesn't treat all American people as if they're the same.

Our friend Dan Darling will also be discussing this and other neglected aspects of Bin Laden's speech in an article to posted here soon.

13 posted on 11/01/2004 12:51:28 AM PST by DoctorZIn
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 12 | View Replies]

To: DoctorZIn

Osama's Message

by Dan Darling at November 1, 2004 09:08 AM

Osama bin Laden's recent audiotape, combined with the recent message from Adam Gadahn/Azzam al-Ameriki, have left more than a few Americans and intelligence and law enforcement analysts puzzled as to what his apparent purpose is and why he would break cover this late in the game. This analysis will attempt to puzzle out the meaning of bin Laden's statement on a point-by-point analysis and what I think his objectives are in making it. I'm going to be using the MEMRI, BBC, and al-Jazeera transcripts of the excerpts that were broadcast on al-Jazeera on Friday, shifting between the three as differences arise.

I should note that because we're dealing with a non-Roman language (Arabic), there are going to be differences in how to properly translate some portions of the tape. If you're familiar with all of the differences inherent in various translations of the Old Testament from Hebrew or Aramaic into English, we're kind of dealing with the same thing here. Al-Jazeera is using the English subtitles provided by the al-Sahab propaganda company that produced the video in their translation.

The message ...

To begin: Peace be upon he who follow the Guidance.

This greeting is pretty much pro forma for bin Laden, though the Islamic nature of it tends to be fairly low-key, as is the general Islamic character of the tape, a fact that Amir Taheri and others have noted. To me, this absence of Islamic rhetoric represents a shift in bin Laden's rhetorical strategy that we first saw in his April 2004 videotape in which he cited among other things Halliburton as the main cause of the war in Iraq and announced the possibility of a truce between al-Qaeda and any European government willing to take him up on his offer. The less religious and more political his rhetoric becomes, the more concerned I would be because it serves to widen his appeal outside his traditional audience in the Islamic world to possibly include tacit or active alliances with non-Islamic powers. And when I say that, I'm not so much talking about far right or far left factions here in the West as I am communist states like North Korea.

Oh the American people, I address these words to you regarding the optimal manner of avoiding another Manhattan, and regarding the war, its causes, and its consequences. But before this, I say to you: Security is one of the important pillars of human life, and free men do not take their security lightly, contrary to Bush's claim that we hate freedom.

"Another Manhattan," of course, refers to 9/11. "The war" he refers to, I assume refers to the war in Iraq, and it should be noted that bin Laden appears to view it as being one and the same as the general US-led offensive against himself and his organization, i.e. the war on terrorism. The point he is attempting to make here is that as long as the US pursues what he considers "anti-Islamic policies," he is going to keep attacking them. As noted in Imperial Hubris among a multitude of other sources, bin Laden basically views "anti-Islamic" as being anything that runs against the goals of himself or his organization, though I tend to take a different view on the solution to the problem than does the author of Hubris. Essentially, as long as the US continues to obstruct al-Qaeda's goals with respect to the Middle East (something I would argue we do there simply by virtue of our existence), they're going to keep attacking us.

The charge that al-Qaeda does not hate freedom is an interesting one, as even Juan Cole of all people has noted that bin Laden has more or less embraced Neo-Wilsonian rhetoric with respect to the organization's goals for the Middle East more commonly used by American neoconservatives is interesting. My guess would be that he is attempting to tap into the pro-democracy impulses that have rocked many quarters of the Arab world over the course of the last year as part of a bid to position himself as their champion before the US has the opportunity to do so, probably figuring that he can radicalize these impulses toward his own ends and stage a "one man, one vote, one time" situation when the time is ripe. The fact that he recognizes just how potent a weapon pro-democratic sentiments in the Middle East would be in his arsenal if he can emerge as its public champion should also serve as a notice to all of the Middle East experts out there who believe that working to democratize the region is a fool's errand.

Let him explain why we did not attack Sweden, for example.

Probably because Sweden does not pose an existential threat to al-Qaeda's agenda for the Middle East. From the view of bin Laden and other al-Qaeda leaders, Europe is more or less beneath their contempt with the possible exception of France (because of its sponsorship of the Algerian government) and they expect the Continent more or less Islamicized by the end of the century in any event. The events of 3/11 in Spain also appear to have caused bin Laden to believe that he can knock European governments out of the fight with relative ease, hence his offer of a truce (suhl, which is granted to a defeated enemy) to them back in April. I'm not saying that these characterizations are necessarily accurate, but rather that this is what the al-Qaeda leadership believes.

Clearly, those who hate freedom have no pride, unlike the 19 [suicide hijackers of 9/11], may Allah have mercy on them. We have been fighting you because we are free men who do not remain silent in the face of injustice. We want to restore our [Islamic] nation's freedom. Just as you violate our security, we violate yours.

Here again is his attempt to "hijack" the pro-democratization movement with respect to the Middle East and rhetorically juxtaposes membership in al-Qaeda with subjugation under the corrupt and despotic governments of the Middle East. This is truly something that I would be paying attention to if I were a government analyst, because if nothing else it marks bin Laden as an extremely shrewd and manipulative observer of Middle East politics. No longer is he claiming to battle for the restoration of the Caliphate (though one of his lieutenants, Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan leader Tahir Yuldashev recently released a video of his own to tell the base that this is still very much on the organization's agenda) with himself or a puppet like Mullah Omar at its head. Instead, now he is arguing that he wants to overthrow the governments of the Middle East in order to establish a "free ummah," in many ways echoing statements by President Bush and others about the need to spread democracy in the Arab world.

This concerns me for a number of reasons. The Cold War and post-Cold War world is full of examples in which entirely legitimate pro-democracy or self-determination campaigns often became every bit as bad or worse than the regime they were fighting. A lot of people in the US foreign policy establishment are more or less wanting to pull the plug on calls for greater efforts to democratization in the Islamic world, instead favoring stability in the region. Without getting into the merits or lack thereof of this approach, if the US pulls the plug on the pro-democratization initiative in the Middle East, bin Laden seems to be more or less positioning himself to fill the void. In other words, in the absence of respectable actors, the not-so-respectable ones are going to take over.

Just something to think long and hard over.

But I am amazed at you. Although we have entered the fourth year after the events of 9/11, Bush is still practicing distortion and deception against you and he is still concealing the true cause from you. Consequently, the motives for its reoccurrence still exist.

The BBC renders that last sentence "Thus, the motives still exist for repeating what happened."

The other way that phrase being translated as "practicing distortion and deception can also be rendered is as "misleading" - it's all about whether you're going for literal or dynamic equivalence in the translation. I haven't seen clips of Democratic or American liberal criticisms of Bush in Arabic (and if anybody knows where to find some, do let me know), so I'm unsure as to whether or not bin Laden is trying to make a deliberate reference to the claim that's been floating around in Democratic circles that Bush "misleads" America, which I think has been a standard claim for about a year or two now.

In any event, bin Laden is claiming that Bush is being dishonest with the American public about the true causes of 9/11 by not informing us that we were attacked because we won't bin Laden rule the Middle East (though I doubt he'd phrase it quite like that) and instead citing al-Qaeda's hatred of freedom. I myself don't see much of a difference between the two, but a different form of this criticism (that we were attacked because of US Middle East policies rather than due to al-Qaeda's hatred of freedom) has also been circulating in a number of circles for quite some time now. The implication, if we are to take bin Laden at his word, is that if Bush just comes out and says that he'll stop attacking us. Yeah, and I have a bridge to sell you.

So I shall talk to you about the story behind those events and I shall tell you truthfully about the moments in which the decision was taken for you to consider.

I say to you Allah knows that it had never occurred to us to strike towers.

The basic gist of this is that he's going to tell his audience what Bush has been hiding from the American public. Because we're dealing with as close to a literal translation as you can get with Arabic here that last part reads kind of funny - he's saying that he didn't start out his jihadi career planning to destroy the World Trade Center.

But after it became unbearable and we witnessed the oppression and tyranny of the America/Israeli coalition against our people in Palestine and Lebanon, it came to my mind.

This is actually quite savvy for him to say this, as in one fell stroke he capitalizes on the Palestinian lightning rod issue and answers criticisms of him that have appeared in Arab circles that he only turned against the US after the Afghan War against the Soviet Union was concluded and he had no further need for them - a variant of the "bin Laden was a CIA agent" meme. Under close examination however, doesn't make a great deal of sense, given that he waited until 2001 (after the Israeli withdrawl from southern Lebanon) to launch his attack on the US and has never once acted against the Israeli forces stationed there. The closest thing I'm even aware of with respect to al-Qaeda activity in Lebanon during the Israeli presence there is the Dinnieh group, and they were mainly interested in fighting the Lebanese government, not the Israelis.

I should note, however, that by invoking himself as a fan of resistance against the Israeli incursion into southern Lebanon, bin Laden tacitly complementing Hezbollah.

Oh yes, and the forces stationed in Lebanon in the 1980s included American, French, and Italian troops among others, all of whom I believe were there under a UN mandate.

The events that affected my soul in a difficult way started in 1982 when America permitted the Israelis to invade Lebanon and the American 6th fleet helped them in that.

Apparently not enough to leave Afghanistan (or rather, Pakistan, as bin Laden was based in Peshawar at this point with his mentor Abdullah Azzam). I'll ignore the inconsistency that he attacked the US in 2001, nearly 10 years after the US and nearly 1 year after Israel had pulled out of Lebanon. If this is supposed to be Reason #865,332 why he hates the West, okay, but I don't see why we should take that as any more credible a reason than those he has enumerated at length on previously ...

And the whole world saw and heard but did not respond.

In those difficult moments many hard to describe ideas bubbled in my soul but in the end they produced intense feelings of rejection of tyranny and gave birth to a strong resolve to punish the oppressors.

And as I looked at those demolished towers in Lebanon it entered my mind that we should punish the oppressors in kind and that we destroy towers in America in order that they taste some of what we tasted and so that they be deterred from killing our women and children.

If this is intended to convince his critics in the Arab world regarding allegations of him being willing to work with the Great Satan when it served his needs, I think it's likely to fall fairly short. One might note that he appears to drop any pretense of trying to argue that those killed on 9/11 weren't innocent civilians and stops just short of explicitly stating that it's acceptable to kill an enemy's women and children if they do the same to you. As this kind of equivocation is generally frowned upon by most Islamic authorities, I can understand why he avoided coming out and saying as much, but it seems like he's trying more and more these days to appeal to Arab pride and anger rather than Islamic law, the implications of which you can judge for yourself.

We had no difficulty dealing with Bush and his administration, because it resembles the regimes in our [Arab] countries, half of which are ruled by the military, and the other half are ruled by the sons of kings and presidents with whom we have had a lot of experience. Among both types, there are many who are known for their conceit, arrogance, greed, and for taking money dishonestly.

Here's another sign that bin Laden is twisting Wilsonian rhetoric to his needs, this time in order to castigate against the corrupt and despotic regimes that dominate the Arab world. His basic argument is that there is no fundamental difference between the dictatorships of the Arab world and the Bush administration, a rhetorical argument that one encounters from time to time among some of its less cordial detractors. With the exception of the nepotism charge, there doesn't appear to be any deliberate mirroring of US political rhetoric.

This resemblance began with the visit of Bush Sr. to the region. While some of our people were dazzled by the U.S. and hoped that these visits would influence our countries, it was he who was influenced by these monarchic and military regimes. He envied them for remaining in their positions for decades, while embezzling the nation's public funds with no supervision whatsoever. He bequeathed tyranny and the suppression of liberties to his son and they called it the Patriot Act, under the pretext of the war on terrorism.

Bush Sr. liked the idea of appointing [his] sons as state governors. Similarly, he did not neglect to import into Florida the expertise in falsifying [elections] from the leaders of this region in order to benefit from it in difficult moments.

Given this and other the next set of rhetoric, I myself find it all but inconceiveable to argue that bin Laden hasn't seen Fahrenheight 9/11 and adopted its arguments to suit his own purposes. Does anybody know if has Fahrenheight 9/11 been screened in Pakistan yet? In any event, no doubt Michael Moore will be pleased to know that the man whose only complaint he once had with him was that he attacked "blue" rather than "red" states seems to like his movie ...

Bin Laden's adoption of a familiar litany of anti-Bush charges as his own should be viewed through the prism of a very shrewd and extremely cynical observer of American politics rather than his agreement or lack thereof with them. In all seriousness, I very much doubt he cares all that much about the state of American civil liberties after 9/11 or voting procedures in Florida, but he's repeating them because he knows enough about the US to know that these are lightning rod issues that divide many of us as Americans. It's the same reason why, in past statements, he has mentioned social conservative criticisms of American morality, the charge that Clinton launched cruise missile attacks on Afghanistan and Sudan to divert attention from Monica Lewinsky, attacked the US for not signing the Kyoto Protocols, ect. It's also the same reason why his minion Adam Gadahn brought up the issue of same-sex marriage in his own video to America - because by invoking these issues and either claiming or opposing them, they know that the ultimate effect will be to divide us. The more divided we are, the less focused we are on fighting him, and that goes for both sides of the political spectrum.

We agreed with the general commander Muhammad Atta, may Allah have mercy on him, that all operations should be carried out within 20 minutes, before Bush and his administration would become aware. We never imagined that the Commander in Chief of the American armed forces would abandon 50,000 of his citizens in the twin towers to face this great horror alone when they needed him most. It seemed to him that a girl's story about her goat and its butting was more important than dealing with planes and their 'butting' into skyscrapers. This allowed us three times the amount of time needed for the operations, Allah be praised.

This is bin Laden's first public acknowledgement that he ordered the 9/11 attacks, so maybe Reuters and the BBC can finally get around to ditching their disclaimers that we "blame" the attacks on him. As I said, this criticism of Bush, which I myself first heard aired publicly from widow of one of the 9/11 victims during the commission hearings, was featured prominently in Fahrenheight 9/11 and has since been echoed in a number of other circles since. The similarities between these remarks and those in the film are too great in my mind to be ignored and were deliberately framed by bin Laden as such.

Your security is not in the hands of Kerry or Bush or Al-Qa'ida. Your security is in your own hands, and any U.S. state that does not toy with our security automatically guarantees its own security.

There was some commentary on this last part from a number of Islamist internet forums affiliated with al-Qaeda. The term used here for "state" is, as noted by MEMRI, wilaya, which in Arabic usually means some kind of a subdivision with a nation or a province. An independent country, by contrast, would be referred to as dawla. Now I would generally describe the denizens of al-Qaeda forums like al-Qala as knowing about as much about the intended strategy of the al-Qaeda leadership as I would myself knowing the intended strategy of Bush or Rice given some of the things they say - bin Laden controlling the Pakistani nuclear arsenal, having access to Soviet chemical and biological weapons, US soldiers engaging in cannibalism and rape in Iraq, ect.

Nevertheless, MEMRI thought it valuable enough to note the following from al-Qala:

This message was a warning to every U.S. state separately. When he [Osama Bin Laden] said, 'Every state will be determining its own security, and will be responsible for its choice,' it means that any U.S. state that will choose to vote for the white thug Bush as president has chosen to fight us, and we will consider it our enemy, and any state that will vote against Bush has chosen to make peace with us, and we will not characterize it as an enemy. By this characterization, Sheikh Osama wants to drive a wedge in the American body, to weaken it, and he wants to divide the American people itself between enemies of Islam and the Muslims, and those who fight for us, so that he doesn't treat all American people as if they're the same. This letter will have great implications inside the American society, part of which are connected to the American elections, and part of which are connected to what will come after the elections."

And this bit from al-Islah, a similarly affiliated band of nuts:

"Some people ask 'what's new in this tape?' [The answer is that] this tape is the second of its kind, after the previous tape of the Sheikh [Osama bin Laden], in which he offered a truce to the Europeans a few months ago, and it is a completion of this move, and it brings together the complementary elements of politics and religion, political savvy and force, the sword and justice. The Sheikh reminds the West in this tape of the great Islamic civilization and pure Islamic religion, and of Islamic justice..."

Analysis and Implications

To be quite frank, I don't take nearly as upbeat a view of this as do Wretchard or the MEMRI staff, both of whom, like Greg (and wouldn't you like to know whether or not I knew that tape was going to be broadcast ;) I have nothing but admiration and respect for. Apart from faux Fahrenheight stuff, I did notice 2 distinctive themes in both this message:

1. Bin Laden's adoption of Wilsonian rhetoric and painting himself as a champion of freedom and democracy in the Islamic world. To put this as best I can, if the US shifts policies and ditches the neocons' pro-democratization initiative the way a lot of people in the foreign policy establishment are hoping for, he appears ready to pick up the tab as best he can. Basically, in the absence of responsible people leading the pro-democracy movement in the Middle East, bin Laden is positioning himself to pick up the tab. This represents a shift in strategy as much as anything else, as it represents a tacit concession that his own Salafist "base" isn't enough to defeat the US. If he were a politician, I'd say that he was trying to move to the center in a bid to win the general election.

2. Bin Laden's ability to compromise his fanaticism and desire for power with a sophisticated political savvy and pragmatism is an extremely dangerous one. If he's really starting to adopt the same kind of friend/foe distinctions among his Western enemies that he apparently does among his fellow Muslims (allying himself with Shi'ite heretics, for example), then he might be open to making overtures to them for his advantage. Neither political party in the US is going to be open to his overtures, but can we really say the same of Europe? Or North Korea?

As far as why bin Laden broke cover now, less than a week before the presidential election, I have no idea. If this tape is what everyone says it is, with him simply seeking to influence the election, I'll sleep quite happily for the next month. My fear is that it's a signal (and the lack of "chatter" isn't all that reassuring to me - was there any before 3/11? Or the Chechen attacks in Russia in late August and early September?) for some kind of an attack, possibly to take place after the election so that he can claim that he offered us mercy and we refused to take him up on it. I also think that there's another kind of strategy at work here, one that nobody really wants to talk about either out of partisanship or because nobody wants to think about it before an election.

Assuming bin Laden knows enough about American society to understand how news cycles work, he knows that by releasing his tape when he did is going to ensure that his was the last major news cycle before the election. This has a definite benefit to it, at least from his perspective, because he ensures that whoever wins come Tuesday, the losers will attribute their opponents' victory to him. So if we don't manage to get another Florida this time around, he's just ensured that we're going to have one for the next 4 years.


I wasn't planning to go here, but apparently some people simply have not gotten the message yet so I'll repeat it as loud as possible yet again from my bully pulpit:

1. I no longer work for AEI or Michael Ledeen. That ended when I left DC. Period. If Dr. Ledeen wants me to work for him again (or the reverse) I will be more than willing to serve, but I do not work for him now nor am I any kind of a portal for his views on these subjects. My thoughts on Iran, al-Qaeda, the war in Iraq, et al. are my own and always have been, not Dr. Ledeen's or AEI's. If you want to know what Dr. Ledeen thinks about a particular issue or subject, my advice would be to ask him, not me.

2. Dr. Ledeen does not advocate an invasion of Iran, but rather prefers to achieve internal revolution inside the country. Disagree all you like, but it's at least prudent to understand something about his position before you start criticizing it. It's kind of like the simultaneous claims that are often thrown about made that he supports the goals of both the Mujahideen-e-Khalq or the restoration of the Pahlavi dynasty. Both claims are false, but if they were true it would be quite a confusing thing to do.

Hopefully that puts the final nail in the coffin on that subject.

14 posted on 11/01/2004 1:40:05 AM PST by DoctorZIn
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 13 | View Replies]

To: DoctorZIn

Analysis: Iranian Military Rhetoric Reflects Outside Pressures

Iran -- map
By Alex Vatanka

The commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corp (IRGC), Brigadier General Yahya Rahim Safavi, said on 8 October that U.S. invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq are merely the foundations of an expansionist U.S. military strategy to subdue the entire Middle East, the Iranian Student News Agency (ISNA) reported. Safavi added: "If this strategy fails heavily in Iraq, it will, undoubtedly, stop. Otherwise it may extend to neighboring countries."

This line of thinking reflects Iran's fear that it is the next candidate for regime change in the context of the White House's "axis of evil," and it explains regime hard-liners' efforts to undermine U.S. objectives in Iraq. From the hard-liners' perspective, the survival of the Islamic Republic is at stake. The IRGC -- constitutionally designated to be the guardian of the Islamic revolution and Iran's territorial integrity, and which is believed to control the country's nuclear and ballistic-missile programs -- therefore has a unique responsibility, and this arm of the regime has found itself to be in the ascendancy as pressure piles on Iran.
"U.S. military presence [in Iraq] will not become an element of strength [for Washington] at our [Iran's] expense. The opposite is true, because their forces would turn into a hostage in Iranian hands in the event of an attack."

In contrast with the IRGC's apparent policy of brinkmanship -- senior IRGC official Hassan Abbasi cited "a strategy drawn up for the destruction of the Anglo-Saxon civilization" (see "RFE/RL Iran Report," 14 June 2004) -- more moderate political figures like President Mohammad Khatami emphasize the peaceful nature of the country's nuclear program, underscore the defensive nature of Iranian military doctrine, and argue that the ballistic-missile program is only a deterrent.

Many in the regime deem it necessary to be bellicose in order to avoid the fate of Iraq's Ba'athist regime. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the recently installed hard-line-dominated parliament, ranking officers in the regular armed services and the IRGC, and the conservative media are increasingly emphasizing Iran's abilities to avenge a possible U.S. or Israeli strike at Iranian nuclear facilities, as well as a capacity to sabotage U.S. initiatives throughout the wider Middle East. As Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani told AFP on 18 August, Iranian assets and capabilities can be activated region-wide and presumably utilized in Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, and the waters of the Persian Gulf. In the same interview, Shamkhani said that the "U.S. military presence [in Iraq] will not become an element of strength [for Washington] at our [Iran's] expense. The opposite is true, because their forces would turn into a hostage in Iranian hands in the event of an attack" on Iran. The clear message from that interview and similar statements is that the regime in Tehran will fully mobilize all resources at its disposal to hurt the United States, although Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid-Reza Assefi later claimed that Shamkhani was misquoted.

Coinciding with the last two International Atomic Energy Agency sessions debating Iran's file, the IRGC put on a show of military muscle. In September the largest-ever "Ashura" exercises were conducted with prominence given to "asymmetric assets" and "resistance units" staging "deep defense." In October, the IRGC test-fired a Shihab-3 missile with allegedly improved range and accuracy.

During the September Ashura exercises, IRGC commanders noted that Iran's military strategy has learned from its eight-year war with Iraq (1980-88) and by observing recent U.S. military invasions in Afghanistan and Iraq. IRGC spokesman Masud Jazayeri said that "considering that some powers can observe some parts of our military exercise, we hope that the greedy enemies avoid carrying out any possible attack against our country after witnessing our capabilities," ISNA reported on 14 September. Whether such rhetoric can help the IRGC gain the upper hand remains to be seen. But the Iranians have clearly monitored the U.S. military's performance in Iraq and registered its tactical and operational shortcomings. The latter seem to have shaped the nature of the latest Ashura drills, where the focus was on small rapid-reaction forces, speedy transportation of ground-force units, and enhancing the military skills of the paramilitary Basij forces. In other words, Iranian military leaders hope to deter a U.S. military invasion by emphasizing the heavy costs that Washington is likely to incur once it has entered Iran.

Iran's mass media openly discuss the country's military options. The brazen rhetoric often runs parallel with debate on guerrilla warfare. That the U.S. military will have superiority in conventional battle is taken for granted. On 21 September, the reformist "Mardom Salari" newspaper ran an analysis on "deep defense" that quotes an assessment from the U.K.-based Center for Defense Studies which concludes, "if it [Iran] should come under attack, the advantage of deep defense in the cities by the IRGC and Basij volunteer forces can mobilize a devastating defense against foreign aggression." Safavi has claimed that the Basij paramilitary force is 10 million strong and organized along 3,000 battalions. This is an outlandish figure, but it is very difficult to estimate the extent of popular mobilization against a U.S. military intervention.

As far as "asymmetric assets" are concerned, the opinions of the chief of staff of the armed forces, General Hassan Firuzabadi, are revealing. When the current parliament rejected a bill drafted by the outgoing reformist deputies on the professionalization of the military, Firuzabadi declared that a professional military would be "mercenary," "Kayhan" reported on 20 September. Harkening back to the heyday of the Iran-Iraq war, Firuzabadi appealed instead to religious fervor by suggesting that the regime's military strategy depends on "young individuals between 18 and 25 who have no dependents and are ready to sacrifice their lives to defend Islam, the Koran, and the country."

In reality, Iran has moved a long way since the early 1980s when revolutionary zeal could mobilize the public. There is no doubt that the IRGC and senior officials in the regular armed forces are very fearful about Washington's intentions. As the regime's survival is the ultimate goal, however, even the ideologues of the IRGC can be expected to compromise.

Alex Vatanka is an analyst at Jane's Information Group.

15 posted on 11/01/2004 8:07:15 AM PST by DoctorZIn
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: DoctorZIn

WPS Russian Media Monitoring Agency

What the Russian Papers Say: Iran Has a Secular Government!

November 01, 2004
WPS Russian Media Monitoring Agency
Yevgeny Trifonov


It is favorable for the world not to push the "problem" regime to confronting anybody

Author: Yevgeny Trifonov

Reference: Novoye Vremya, No. 44, October 31, 2004

WPS Subject: The prospects of Iran in the world and its contacts with Russia

President Vladimir Putin's visit to Iran evidences that Russia has no intention to deny cooperation with the state which is regarded as a "sick person" in the Middle East.

Russia's cooperation with Iran is similar to balancing on the razor edge. Should we abandon the cooperation, which includes completion of a nuclear power plant in Bushehr, arms and accessories supplies for assembly of Russian military equipment at Iran-based plants, Washington will undoubtedly praise Moscow for discretion, but multi-billion contracts will be lost, as well as Russia's standing in the region, which has no respect for those who follow the lead of other countries policies. In addition to the "nuclear" and military contracts, Russian companies Rosneft, LUKoil, Tatneft, and Stroitransgaz are involved in the development of Iranian oil fields. Iran is also purchasing Russia-made aircraft, being among a few states which use it. However, making a stake on Iran without regarding the potential aftermaths is pregnant with unfavorable consequences: the United States doesn't forget unsanctioned contacts with a country, the policy of which contradicts to the US policy.

It won't be serious to blindly agree that Iran is a link in the "axis of evil."

Iran is a unique state, in which a secular government coexists with a religious government. The Iranian president is commander-in-chief of the armed forces, with the gendarmerie and police under his command. However, the religious head of Iran has his own army named Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) with its own air and naval troops. By its strength, the "secular" and religious armed forces of Iran are almost identical, but the IRGC has bigger budget than the regular troops, which means the IRGC is more combatant.

Iranian defense industries are mainly under control of the religious, rather than civil figures. Iranian foreign policy is bizarre: the secular branch of the state power is displaying its striving for peace and has no contacts with terrorists. The Iranian religious authorities used to transit Talibs, who were hiding from the U.S. commandos, to fight the Americans in Iraq; it is also assisting the Palestine and Lebanese terrorist groups, and Iranian President Khatami can do nothing about this.

The dual power cannot last perpetually in Iran. The military operation in Iraq performed by the USA and its allies, as well as permanent US pressure on Iran is strengthening the religious power in this country. The latest parliamentary election, which passed against the backdrop of anti-Iranian protests in the West and U.S. military threats, have brought to the victory of Islamic fundamentalists, who gained almost 80% of seats in the parliament (the democratic forces held 80% of seats in the previous parliament). However, the Islamic reaction is growing weaker anyway; in case no rough and inadequate actions are taken to feed it, the religious branch of the Iranian power is more likely to be dismantled sooner than later.

The problem of Iran is that the United States hasn't yet decided whether or not a military operation should be conducted against Iran, similar to that which had crushed Hussein's regime. Iran is posing no real threat to the USA: the Iranian army is now much weaker that the Iraqi armed forces at the moment of invasion in Kuwait in the 1990s. Unlike Iraq under Saddam, Iran has its own defense industries, which are very weak though: tanks and aircraft manufactured at Iranian military plants are either licensed versions of T-72 tanks and MiG-29 planes of Russia, or non-licensed copies of the obsolete Western military equipment. Iran may theoretically manufacture the WMD (chemical, bacteriological and nuclear, as well as carrier rockets), but will only be doing this in case radical Islamists gain a victory in this country. The secular power of Iran is doing much for reviving normal relations with Europe and the USA; the major task for it now is to overcome the social and economic crisis and poverty, in which two-thirds of the Iranian population is living.

In fact, Russia has been conducting similar policy with regard to Iran as the European states, primarily France and Germany. It is required to cooperate with Tehran by avoiding pushing it into the file of the "rebel states," without provoking creation of the so-called conventional weapons. If Russia breaks its relations with Iran, it will be replaced by China, which has everything required to develop the Iranian defense industries, and it will be impossible to get control over this process. The technology Russia has been supplying to Iran can hardly be used for military purposes: the fuel for the Bushehr nuclear power plant could be converted into material for nuclear bombs, but they will be extremely primitive. If Iran takes the path of harsh confrontation with the West, it will find finance and opportunities to acquire canisters of mustard gas and a couple of nuclear charges without the assistance of Russia. However, if Iran focuses on peaceful construction, nuclear energy will be vital for it.

Nowadays Russia is not urging Iran to get into a clash with anybody; the time of Primakov's dreams of anti-American "pentagon" (Russia-Belarus-Iran-China-India) have fortunately receded into the past. On the eve of the Putin's visit Moscow once agains confirmed it has been an adherent of fulfilling IAEA's demands by Iran. It appeared so that a dialog with Iran is easier for Russia, and we are availing ourselves with this advantage both in the economy and politics. The West, which is not quite content now that Russians get Iranian contracts so far, will follow this path sooner or later. However, this belongs to the sphere of trade competition, rather than the field of foreign policy, although the borders between them are very vague.

Translated by Andrei Ryabochkin

16 posted on 11/01/2004 8:10:50 AM PST by DoctorZIn
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: DoctorZIn

Iran Would Freeze Enrichment for 6 Months at Most

Mon Nov 1, 2004 08:29 AM ET

By Parisa Hafezi

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran could agree to freeze uranium enrichment for six months at most and only provided the European Union abandons its demand that Tehran scrap enrichment for good, a senior Iranian security official said on Monday.

Tehran risks being reported to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions if it does not freeze enrichment before the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) board meets on Nov. 25.

Iran says it wants to enrich uranium to produce fuel for atomic power reactors generating electricity. But the same process can also be used to make atomic bombs.

The EU says the enrichment suspension should be indefinite. Iran wants its duration linked to Iran-EU negotiations on a package of incentives aimed at resolving the nuclear dispute.

Asked how long Iran would be prepared to freeze enrichment for, Hossein Mousavian, foreign policy committee secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, told Reuters:

"We can agree to a period of two to three months, maximum six months, to finalize the package."

But he said that if the EU maintained its position that Iran must scrap its nuclear fuel cycle capabilities, "then, if not now, in some months we will reach a confrontation."

EU and Iranian negotiators are due to meet in Paris on Friday for a third round of talks over Iran's nuclear program.

The EU is offering Iran a number of incentives including guaranteed supply of imported nuclear fuel, help with a light-water power reactor and a resumption of trade talks if Iran agrees to scrap enrichment for ever.


Mousavian said the chances of reaching a compromise before the IAEA meeting were currently 50-50.

&#8203;&#8203;&#8203;&#8203; "The cessation of uranium enrichment is already rejected. It is our red line and if it is the Europeans' condition then it is better to leave the talks now."

"(But) if the Europeans' concern is to be assured that Iran's (uranium) enrichment will never in the future be diverted from peaceful purposes ... there's a very good chance of reaching a compromise."

Mousavian has said Iran is ready, if necessary, to defend itself in the U.N. Security Council and thinks it unlikely sanctions would be imposed on Tehran over the nuclear issue.

As a signatory of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Iran is entitled to mine, process and enrich uranium to make reactor fuel under IAEA supervision.

While IAEA inspectors have found several instances of potentially weapons-related research and activities in Iran they have found no clear evidence it is trying to make atom bombs.

Iran's hard-liner-dominated parliament on Sunday approved a bill which calls on the state to continue to develop a civilian nuclear energy program, including the full nuclear fuel cycle.

Asked whether the bill could force the government to resume enrichment as some deputies have demanded, Mousavian said:

"No, it just means that Iran's rights should be respected and there should be no discrimination against it."

Analysts say there is widespread support for the nuclear program across the Islamic state's normally divided political spectrum.

Around 1,000 students and clerics gathered outside Iran's Atomic Energy Organization headquarters in Tehran on Monday to call on officials not to give in to EU demands.

"Nuclear technology is our legitimate right," they chanted. "We don't want atomic bombs, we are atomic bombs!"

17 posted on 11/01/2004 8:17:18 AM PST by DoctorZIn
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: DoctorZIn

Iran: 'Hey World, Pay Attention to Us!'


Nov. 8 issue - Hossein Derakhshan is tired of listening to the debate over Iran's nuclear-weapons program while the world ignores oppression inside Iran. So on his blog ( he's pleading, "Hey, world! Pay attention to us!" He is one of thousands of Iranian Internet geeks enraged by the country's latest plan to clamp down on their cyberfreedoms. The government is planning to roll out an alternative network, called Shaare'2, that it hopes will eventually close off Iran's Web users to the outside world and allow in only what the state approves.

The move is a response to rapidly expanding Internet access. More than 2 million Iranians now use the Net regularly. According to the government's figures, only 15 percent of Iranian Web sites are hosted inside the country, which means the others are beyond the reach of government censorship. Iranian authorities claim they are building Shaare'2 because they are concerned about obscenity and security, but they clearly also want to stifle dissent, which has thrived among the nation's blogging class.

Shutting down the current networks will be hard.mullahs take hope from China, which from the beginning allowed Internet access only through a backbone of government networks. Iran plans to build Shaare'2 as a parallel network, lure users by offering them five gigabytes of storage space for a nominal fee and eventually dismantle the current networks by busting unapproved ISPs. But be warned: even China is having trouble keeping hackers in line. ...

18 posted on 11/01/2004 8:22:40 AM PST by DoctorZIn
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: DoctorZIn

Buying Time in Tehran

November 01, 2004
Foreign Affairs
Afshin Molavi

Foreign Affairs Nov/Dec 2004, Vol. 83 Issue 6, p9, 8p

AFSHIN MOLAVI has covered Iran for news outlets including The Washington Post and Reuters and is the author of Persian Pilgrimages: Journeys Across Iran. He is a Fellow at the New America Foundation.

Iran and the China Model

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini once famously dismissed an aide worried about inflation by telling him that "this revolution was not about the price of watermelons." Today, Khomeini's successors are finding the high price of watermelons--not to mention of meat, housing, and cars---much harder to ignore. The untold story of post-revolutionary Iran is one of economic decline: the steady, 25-year deterioration of a nation that once boasted a per capita income equivalent to Spain's, pumped six million barrels of oil a day, and nurtured a vibrant middle class. Today, Iran's real per capita income is a third of what it was before the revolution; oil production is two-thirds of the 1979 level, and the middle class is being squeezed by chronically high inflation, widespread un- and underemployment, and debilitating wage stagnation.

In May 2005, President Mohammad Khatami, who thundered into office in 1997 on a platform of political and social liberalization, will leave his job chastened and largely defeated by his conservative foes. Not only did he fail to achieve political change, he also proved unable to heal the sick economy he inherited or to ward off a looming employment crisis. With its extremely young population--two-thirds of which is under the age of 30--Iran needs to create more than 800,000 jobs a year. So far, the government has failed even to come close to that target. As a result, Iran's young people have grown deeply frustrated and hungry for political change and economic relief--even as they remain unsure of how to achieve them.

The newly resurgent conservatives think they have the answer. Having beaten back the reformers' challenge through bureaucratic infighting, organized violence, the jailing of leading reformers, and election-rigging, the conservatives now want to embark on a program dubbed the "China model" by Iran's media. The idea--which is neither new nor profound nor uniquely Chinese--is to offer economic growth, jobs, and limited social freedom in exchange for continued control of the political sphere. The conservatives are betting that Iran's citizens will be satisfied with consumerism and thus give up their demands for pluralism.

Will the Islamic Republic pull it off?. If Tehran's goal is to create an economic dynamo on a scale similar to China's, the short answer is no. With U.S. sanctions firmly in place, a poor regulatory environment for foreign direct investment, a relatively uncompetitive manufacturing sector, and a cronyist business climate rife with corruption, Iran is hardly primed for an economic renaissance. Moreover, the hard-line wing of the conservative faction has shown little interest in real economic reform, preferring instead a form of crony capitalism that spends state resources on political patronage of key constituents, including the security services--a model followed widely in the Middle East, most notably in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Syria.

If, however, Tehran's goal is more modest-to get through a politically bumpy period by creating limited economic openings that produce minor job growth and forestall unrest--the conservatives may succeed. And such modesty is likely, given that a genuinely expansive economic reform program that enlarges the private sector, creates jobs, and strengthens the middle class could undermine the stability of the regime. Indeed, Iran's 1979 revolution occurred during a time of economic improvement and relative social liberalization.

Thus the conservatives are likely to tread carefully. This regime has had its obituary written before, and as one conservative official told me, Tehran is "good at crisis management." The Islamic Republic has already weathered post-revolutionary instability, a devastating eight-year war with Iraq, international isolation, a spirited reformist challenge, a grassroots democracy movement, student unrest, enormous popular discontent, and two U.S. wars in the neighborhood.

Moreover, Iran's public has grown deeply apathetic, its hopes for change snuffed out by the failure of Khatami's reform program. The regime is therefore likely to survive the current economic crisis, as it has crises of the past. As crisis management, an authoritarian bargain-a China model "lite"--could work for Tehran, even if fundamental economic changes of the sort Beijing has enacted are unlikely anytime soon.


Will the Iranian public--justifiably viewed as one of the great hopes for popular democracy in the Middle East--accept the crude authoritarian bargain of the China model? At the moment, they seem more likely to ignore it. Frustrated by the failure of the reform movement, Iranians are starting to show signs of widespread political apathy. After nearly 3,000 reformist candidates were banned by the hardliners from running in February's elections for the Majlis (Iran's parliament), voter turnout (at 51 percent nationwide and 28 percent in Tehran) was lower than in any other election since the revolution. (There was also an inordinately high number of spoiled ballots.) Iranians might not like what the conservatives are planning, but they seem to lack the energy and will to oppose it. Political apathy has also been compounded by fear, a result of the hard-liners' consistent and ruthless use of violence and intimidation.

Even with public support or indifference, reforming Iran's economy won't be easy, despite the country's enormous potential. Iran boasts a cheap work force of both skilled and unskilled labor, a large market of 7o million people, low-cost energy resources, ample cash reserves to cushion the inevitable blows caused by liberalization, a strategic location adjacent to the markets of South and Central Asia and the Persian Gulf, wealthy potential investors in the Iranian diaspora, and a well-educated technocratic elite comfortable with Westerners.

Beneath the surface, however, the conditions are less promising. A key problem is the degree to which Iranian politics have become factionalized, paralyzing economic policymaking. During his tenure, President Khatami complained that "a crisis every nine days" made it hard to get anything accomplished. Although the conservatives have since recaptured the Majlis, they are not a monolithic bunch. Differences and personal rivalries remain and will ensure continued conflict. Pragmatic conservatives, led by former president and perennial power player Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, view the world, the economy, and the China model differently than do hard-line, ideological conservatives, who control key institutions such as the judiciary and the security services and influence Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah All Khamenei.

The hard-liners see the China model principally as a means to forestall unrest. They are thus less interested in real economic reform and more prone to think in terms of patronage politics. Their approach--more a distributive model than a China model--will use oil wealth strategically, doling out subsidies to the population and interest-free loans and cash to their supporters while creating a few highly restricted and tightly controlled openings for foreign investment and the private sector. Hard-liners view Iran's economy as a small party with a closely guarded invitation list. And the party, they believe, should remain socially conservative.

The pragmatists, on the other hand, are less interested in controlling how people live and have a better grasp of how the global economy works, of the need for liberalization, and of the obstacles to economic growth. They; too, view the China model as a safety valve, but their economic vision promises more opportunities for the private sector and foreign investment. Unfortunately, the hard-liners already have the upper hand. In August, the Majlis overturned laws passed by the earlier, reformist parliament aimed at easing foreign investment and facilitating the entry of foreign banks into Iran. Mohammad Mir Mohammadi, a hard-line member of the Majlis, announced that the vote had prevented "foreign dominance of Iran's economy."

The hard-liners also have an advantage thanks to three years of high oil prices, which have translated into a cash windfall for Tehran. Swelling foreign reserves ($35 billion, at last count) have allowed the government to put much-needed reforms on hold without disrupting its patronage networks. One influential hard-line parliamentarian, Ahmad Tavakoli, has even begun talking about further reducing the cost of gasoline, which is already kept artificially low (at about nine cents a liter) by high government subsidies.

Since Iran earns some 85 percent of its foreign currency from oil exports and gets an extra billion dollars a year with each $1-per-barrel rise in global oil prices, the current spike in prices has inflated Iranian GDP growth figures, which have ticked above 6 percent in the last two years. High oil prices have also contributed to a property boom and a bull market on the Tehran stock exchange. But they have not yet resulted in significant job growth, which could spell real trouble for the conservatives in the near future.

Thus the pragmatists may eventually regain control. Yet the only thing that seems certain is that progress toward economic reform in Iran will remain halting, following the familiar Tehran tango: one step forward, one back, one step to the left, another to the right.


The Iranian public, meanwhile, could be forgiven for feeling a strong sense of déjà vu. Iran has tried the China model before, and the results only contributed to the current economic woes. In 1989, Rafsanjani, then president, made a similar attempt to buy off the discontented populace with stability, jobs, and limited social freedoms. His initiatives were welcomed by Iran's war-weary population, which, having just concluded a brutal eight-year conflict with Iraq, embraced his non-ideological and pragmatic approach.

Rafsanjani significantly liberalized the economy, foreign investment began trickling in, and a new generation of Iranian business elites--many of them government apparatchiks with close ties to those in power--arose. In 1995, the Iranian president even made an overture to Washington, offering Conoco an offshore oil contract (although the U.S. government ultimately rejected the deal).

Rather than truly opening the economy, however, the Rafsanjani era only ended up strengthening Iran's bonyads---government-linked Islamic charities and businesses that today control as much as a quarter of the nation's GDP---and further wove government into the tapestry of Iranian private business. In the highly incestuous business climate, companies associated with the bonyads or government ministries won the lion's share of government reconstruction contracts and used their access to licenses and cheap credit to become leading traders. Well-connected conservative merchants (known as bazaaris) with established trading networks also used some of their accrued wealth to enter industry, which had been the preserve of the state in early revolutionary Iran (and of Western-oriented business leaders before 1979). As a result of these developments, Iran's private sector is today hampered not only by government obstruction, but also by government competition. The country's chaotic business sector is filled with government-linked and government-owned firms engaged in crony capitalism, insider dealings, and predatory practices to crush large competitors. Reformist journalists deride "business mafias" that exploit their access to state insiders for personal gain.

Khatami-era reforms opened some new spaces for a genuine private sector, and a string of recent business successes by outsiders--that is, those not linked to Iran's state power networks--shows that opportunities have increased. Still, those opportunities remain far too constrained. The bonyads, accountable only to Khamenei, still own everything from banks, hotels, and shipping lines to car manufacturers and fruit juice producers. They dominate many industries, squelching some private competitors and rewarding others who play by their rules. Several government ministries even run their own businesses: the Intelligence Ministry owns telecommunications and information technology companies and the Agriculture Ministry owns agribusinesses. Companies affiliated with Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps have won contracts to build roads, pipelines, and apartment blocks, occasionally even using army conscripts as free labor to lay bricks and pour cement.

These problems are replicated on a smaller scale: civil servants commonly open small businesses, using their access to insider information to win subcontracting work or to procure necessary (but otherwise hard to come by) licenses. Many bureaucrats also regularly accept bribes. One small-business owner I know in Tehran even employs a mid-ranking government tax auditor to fake his taxes. "He knows how to fool his bosses better than I do," the businessman explains, "and I pay him better than his government salary."


Of course, oligarchic and kleptocratic governments and low-level corruption are common in much of Asia, even in its fastest-developing economies (including China's). But aside from Iran, none of these countries also faces exclusion from the world's largest market and largest foreign investor. And U.S. sanctions are not likely to be lifted in the near term. In fact, Washington is currently increasing its pressure on Iran due to Tehran's alleged pursuit of nuclear weapons. Still more pressure may be brought to bear as international human rights groups such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International--which pulled their punches on Iran during Khatami's era--renew their sharp criticism of the country, calling on the European Union to impose penalties on Iran for its persistent political repression. Meanwhile, the July 2003 killing of Zahra Kazemi, an Iranian-Canadian journalist, and the subsequent cover-up may undermine what were growing business ties between Canada and Iran.

Even if the external climate were friendlier, Iran's prospects for economic rejuvenation would be uncertain. A good example of the failure of Tehran's state-directed economic ventures is the status of the country's natural gas industry. With the world's second-largest reserves of natural gas, Iran should, by the end of the decade, be able to claim around ten percent of this increasingly vital energy market. But as the veteran Iran energy watcher Vahe Petrossian has noted, Tehran is unlikely to meet this goal, thanks to a late start and a lack of skilled negotiators. Meanwhile, Qatar, which shares natural gas fields with Iran, is now poised to become the leading natural gas supplier in the area.

Successfully adopting the China model would also require large infusions of foreign investment, and on this score too, Iran's prospects look bleak. In addition to the uncertain climate created by the Majlis' scrapping of the 2002 Foreign Investment Protection and Promotion Act, two high-profile foreign investments have recently become ensnared in the familiar mix of ideological, political, bureaucratic, and personal rivalry that often paralyzes Iranian politics. On May 8, a Turkish-led consortium, which had won a contract to operate the newly opened Imam Khomeini International Airport, found its contract abrogated on the first day when the Revolutionary Guards shut the airport down. The guards said that having foreigners operate the airport was "an affront to Iran's dignity" and charged that the Turkish consortium had ties with Israel, a charge the Turks deny. Another explanation was that the Revolutionary Guards wanted one of their own companies to get the contract and hoped to embarrass Ahmad Khorram, the reformist transportation minister detested by most hard-liners (and currently under impeachment threat in the Majlis). Whatever the reason, future investors will be wary.

Indeed, it is not surprising that foreign direct investment in Iran continues to lag behind that in other players in the region, such as Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, and the Persian Gulf sheikhdoms. Already, the tiny emirate of Dubai, with a population of just over one million, attracts far more foreign investment than Iran. In fact, many businesses that sell to the Iranian market prefer to locate in the more business-friendly Dubai or send goods to more efficient Dubai ports, where Iranian traders and Dubai merchants do brisk business in re-export to Iran. One Dubai merchant explained, "We benefit from Iran's government incompetence."

Not only are they incompetent, but many hard-line Iranian officials also still view foreign investors as "exploiters." Iran's constitution itself reflects this suspicion, virtually banning all foreign investment. The hard-liners fear that foreign money would mean giving strangers control over their country. Iranian political discourse reflects this suspicion as well, distinguishing between "insiders" (khodi) and "outsiders" (gheyr-e-khodi). Insiders are generally thought to include all revolutionary players (including the religious reformers around Khatami) and to exclude secular democrats and nationalists. Now the hard-liners want to restrict the political and business playing field still further, keeping out everyone except like-minded individuals with social or family links to those in power. Already, such thinking has produced a version of crony capitalism that can be called khodi capitalism: a system dominated by Iran's Islamic apparatchiks and business elites, who maintain incestuous business relationships that mix the public and private sectors and reward only those with the right connections.

Despite the conservatives' best efforts to sabotage investment, Iran will continue to attract foreign interest in its oil and gas sector. Still, beyond its natural resources, the prospects are bleak. China can at least offer foreign businesses the tantalizing prospect of a market with more than a billion consumers and an army of cheap laborers. Iran, with only 70 million people and an unproven labor force, promises much smaller rewards.

A "China model lite" could marginally improve Iran's economic prospects if oil prices remain high and at least limited reforms are undertaken. Thus far, however, Iran's hard-liners seem to understand the repressive side of the China model better than its reformist side. Iran's economy is likely to remain afloat, buoyed by oil money. But the country will fail to live up to its enormous economic potential and will do just enough to get by, frustrating Iranians, enriching insiders, and alternately tempting and repelling foreign investors. Given the long-term facts of Iran's demography, dramatic changes are inevitable at some point in the not-too-distant future, despite the present public apathy. In the meantime, however, the mullahs seem likely to do just enough to avoid the abyss. Major economic reform is not likely, but neither is a serious collapse.

19 posted on 11/01/2004 8:25:44 AM PST by DoctorZIn
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: DoctorZIn

Brutal pressure leads to sporadic clashes in Ahwaz

SMCCDI (Information Service)
Nov 1, 2004

The brutal pressure, made by the Islamic regime's militiamen and the City Council, lead today in sporadic and violent clashes in the southern City of Ahwaz.

Tens of residents rushed to rescue the ambulant sellers, located in the Imam Khomeini (former Pahlavi) avenue, in order to oppose the regime's militiamen who were seen attacking them and trying to confiscate their assets.

Stones and sticks responded to the militiamen's tear gas and heavy clubs while slogans were shouted against the Islamic regime and its leaders.

Several protesters and militiamen were seen injured.

The regime has started to spread a false but relatively successful propaganda by stating that the today's unrest was created by elements intending to separate the region from Iran. The use of such demagogy intends to calm the residents as the possibility of splitting Iran, following the downfall of the Islamic regime, is a psychological card played by the intelligence circles in order to make fear especially in border regions.

For a better understanding of Iran, its Geography and People, check the two following links located in the "About Iran" section of the Movement's website:

20 posted on 11/01/2004 2:08:46 PM PST by DoctorZIn
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-2021-24 next last

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.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794 is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson