Skip to comments.Iranian Alert - November 4, 2004 [EST]- IRAN LIVE THREAD - "Americans for Regime Change in Iran"
Posted on 11/03/2004 10:09:18 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 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.
MOSCOW (AFX) - Iran has the capacity to produce nuclear weapons but does not intend to do so, Ali Akbar Soltan, deputy director-general of Iran's foreign ministry political department, was quoted as saying by Interfax news agency. "We do not intend making nuclear weapons," he said. The IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) in Vienna has set a Nov 25 deadline for Iran to suspend uranium enrichment activities and answer all questions about its nuclear ambitions. The US alleges Iran is secretly trying to develop nuclear weapons, a charge Iran denies. "If we had had such an intention, we would have done so a long time ago because Iran has the capacity to do so, especially talented scientists," Soltan told an international conference here. "But we are interested only in nuclear power for peaceful purposes," Interfax quoted him as saying. Meanwhile, US officials in Washington said James Billington, the chief of the US Library of Congress, is visiting Iran this week to discuss possible research and educational exchanges. The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the trip had been arranged by a private organization known as "Catalytic Diplomacy" and that it was intended to explore a possible exchange program between the Library of Congress and Iran's national library.
1:36 a.m. November 3, 2004
BERLIN Despite past differences with Washington, Germany pledged on Wednesday to work with whoever wins the U.S. presidential election to stabilise Iraq and ensure Iran did not obtain nuclear weapons.
Speaking as President George W. Bush appeared headed for victory over Democrat John Kerry, Interior Minister Otto Schily said it was in German interests to help restore order in Iraq regardless of its opposition to the U.S.-led war there.
"Despite the issue of our differing positions in the past, we all have to contribute to ensuring that the situation in Iraq stabilises," Schily said on German television.
Kerry argued during his campaign that he would have more success than Bush convincing traditional allies like Germany and France to commit troops.
But the German public is overwhelmingly opposed to sending soldiers and the government has ruled it out, although Defence Minister Peter Struck suggested last month that if conditions in the violence-ridden country changed so could Germany's stance.
Berlin's relations with the Bush administration were strained by the Iraq war, but Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has worked with some success over the past year to patch up differences.
Karsten Voigt, coordinator for German-American relations in the German Foreign Ministry, pointed to Iran as one area where close cooperation was urgent and necessary.
"In Iran there is clearly a need to work together," he said. "The Europeans the British, French and Germans are seeking a peaceful solution. But the goal is to prevent, together with the Americans, Iran gaining access to nuclear weapons."
Voigt expressed doubt that Washington would take military action in Iran. "Let us hope and work together to ensure that the cooperative solution the Europeans are working on will be successful," he said.
WASHINGTON - In a move that could widen cultural exchanges with Iran, Librarian of Congress James H. Billington is holding talks in Tehran on acquiring a wide range of publications for the library.
Billington was invited by the director of Iran's national library, Muhammad Kazam Mousavi Bojnourdi, and discussed the invitation with State Department officials, Helen Dalrymple, spokeswoman for the Library of Congress said Wednesday.
The Library is interested in expanding its collection of Iranian publications, a process curtailed after Iran's revolution in 1978-79, she said. Billington is seeking printed, digital and other material in different formats and in a wide range of languages.
The United States broke relations with Iran after militants took over the U.S. Embassy in Tehran 25 years ago this week and held Americans hostage for 444 days.
However, there have been some cultural exchanges, and officials of the U.S. Agency for International Development went to Iran last year to assist in earthquake relief.
State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said the fact that Billington was in Iran on the anniversary of the embassy takeover was purely coincidental.
Boucher also said the Bush administration had approved Billington having talks in Iran and that State Department officials briefed him before he flew to Tehran.
| WASHINGTON [MENL] -- President George Bush was expected to make Iran his leading foreign policy concern during any second term in office.
Officials said the White House and other departments in the administration have already discussed U.S. options to halt or delay Iranian nuclear weapons production. They said the options would be examined and developed during 2005.
"The president knows about Iran and is worried about Iran, but has set aside this issue for his second term," an official said. "By next year, it will clearly be a leading national security issue."
On Wednesday, Bush claimed victory over Democratic challenger John Kerry as the president led in both popular and electoral votes. Bush was reported to have achieved a majority of 274 electoral votes.
Millions of Iranians expressed their satisfaction on the outcome of the US Presidential elections and George W. Bush's victory by calling and congratulating each other. Many were seen walking in the streets and shaking each others hands or showing a discret V sign.
Many are speaking about the promises made by Mr. Bush to back the Iranian Nation in its quest for freedom and democracy.
As Iranians and especially the younger generations have become happy , those affiliated to the Islamic regime are seen deeply worried about their future.
The regime and its US based known apologists and lobbyists had tried hard to make fear to Iranians on the outcome of a Bush win. Money was poured by controversial individuals, such as Akbar Ghahary the treasurer of IAPAC, to money oriented TV and radio networks, such as, 670 AM, Tamasha TV, Melli TV and a specific program of Apadana TV hosted by an ideologist named Faramarz Foroozandeh.
But all these desperate tries were not able to lure the Iranians of inside and nor especially the members of the Diaspora.
Witnessing such fiasco, the Islamic regime tried hard to bring the few thousands of professional demonstrators for its organized celebration of the 1979 attack against the US Embassy in Tehran. It's to note that the Iranian Capital has over 12 millions of inhabitants and that the today's official commemoration of one of the main Islamist act of terror ecountered another massive popular rejection.
BBC World Service
Total Votes: 78,242
Who would your choice for President be?
a. George Bush
Chinese Traditional 27%
Chinese Simplified 28%
b. John Kerry
Chinese Traditional 69%
Chinese Simplified 69%
c. Ralph Nader
Chinese Traditional 4%
Chinese Simplified 3%
JERUSALEM - Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom called Wednesday for UN sanctions against Iran unless it called a complete halt to uranium enrichment.
We hope the conclusions to be presented by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) at the end of November in Vienna, will be straight and clear, so the UN Security Council can rule in favour of sanctions if Iran refuses to halt its nuclear programme, he told public radio.
Iran is a threat to the entire worlds stability because the country is developing a nuclear weapons programme, including long-range missiles that could reach London, Paris and parts of Russia, Shalom charged.
Britain, France and Germany are preparing for talks with Iran on Friday over a deal in which Tehran would suspend uranium enrichment in exchange for a nuclear cooperation programme with Europe.
Under an IAEA resolution, Iran has until November 25 to clear up suspicions over its nuclear programme or risk seeing the issue referred to the Security Council for possible sanctions -- a move backed by the United States.
FOR BUSH, IRAN WILL BE LEADING ISSUE
Good article Dr Z. I emailed it around to my email list.
There has been speculation about whether the newly re-elected George Bush will be more hawkish over Iran.
Pointing to talks with Tehran, Mr Straw said: "I don't see any circumstances in which military action would be justified against Iran, full stop."
Mr Straw said President Bush's re-election gave the world the chance to make new progress on Middle East peace.
No more war?
After months of talks, Iranian president Mohammad Khatami this week said Iran was ready to pledge not to pursue nuclear weapons.
But he wants recognition of Iran's right to peaceful nuclear technology.
Asked if it was inconceivable that the world would support US military action against Iran, presumably bombings or using Israel as a "proxy", Mr Straw replied: "Not only is that inconceivable but I think the prospect of it happening is inconceivable."
He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme the US had been part of the consensus on pursuing the negotiations with Tehran and there was no reason to think that would change.
The chances of another conflict in the wake of the Iraq war "pretty remote", he said.
"I don't think, please God, that we are going to see in the next four years the most cataclysmic event for international relations that we have seen in 60 years which occurred on 11 September 2001," he said.
He believed the international divisions which had followed the terror attacks could be healed.
'Chance for progress'
Mr Straw said everybody should recognise that America had come to a "very clear democratic result" in re-electing President Bush, and try to work with the US.
"It is actually a moment of opportunity for the democratic world to come together and to work on items and issues, particularly the Middle East, on which we have seen frustratingly small progress in recent years," he argued.
Mr Straw said Foreign Office officials were continuing to examine the accuracy of The Lancet medical journal's estimates that the Iraq war has led to 100,000 extra deaths.
Estimates of casualties varied greatly, he said, with groups such as Iraq Body Count suggesting about 15,000 civilians had been killed by military intervention in Iraq.
Critics of the war are particularly concerned about the prospect of a major assault on Falluja by the US-led force in Iraq.
Mr Straw said the Iraqi interim government was seeking a political solution to the problems in the insurgent-held city.
But it was necessary to tackle the "nest of terrorists" in the area, just as had happened in Afghanistan to pave the way for democratic elections, he added.
In the US polls, Democratic challenger John Kerry conceded defeat on Wednesday evening and in his victory speech President Bush said he wanted to reach out to all Americans.
Tony Blair has spoken to both President Bush and Senator Kerry.
The prime minister said he looked forward to continuing his strong relationship with the president during his second term in the White House.
The international community had to be brought together, said Mr Blair, stressing the need for action on poverty, the Middle East and the conditions exploited by terrorists.
It was a message he repeated at Thursday's Cabinet meeting and he will discuss the election result with European leaders when he flies to a summit in Brussels later in the day.
His spokesman said: "The prime minister does believe we need to use this as an opportunity to rebuild the relationship across the Atlantic."
Britain will not back military action against Iran if President George W Bush decides to confront Tehran in his second White House term, Jack Straw has said.
The Foreign Secretary rejected claims that hardliners in Mr Bush's administration could press for an attack on Iran as "inconceivable".
Mr Bush has labelled Iran as part of his "axis of evil" and has led calls for the United Nations to crack down on Tehran's alleged attempts to make nuclear weapons.
However, Mr Straw said the prospects of another conflict on top of the war on Iraq were "pretty remote" and that the international community would resolve the dispute "constructively".
"I don't see any circumstances in which military action would be justified against Iran," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.
Mr Straw, who is in Germany for the Queen's state visit, also described Mr Bush's re-election yesterday as an "opportunity" for Europe to heal its divisions with Washington.
Mr Bush's second term in the White House could also lead to Europe and the US making progress on several issues, particularly the Middle East peace process.
"It is in everybody's interests - including that of continental Europe - that we work together with the United States and that is what the Prime Minister Tony Blair and I and the rest of the Government will be seeking to do," he said.
VIENNA (AFP) - Iran and the EU continue last-chance talks in Paris Friday with both sides seeking compromise over Europe's call for the Islamic republic to suspend uranium enrichment in order to allay US-led concerns it is secretly developing nuclear weapons.
The European Union is no longer explicitly calling for an indefinite suspension of Iran's uranium enrichment, diplomats said in Vienna, and Iran has said it would consider a six-month suspension in order to move closer to EU demands.
The United States, which is keeping a low profile on the European initiative, wants the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), at a meeting in Vienna on November 25, to take Iran before the UN Security Council for running what it claims is a secret nuclear weapons program.
The Council could then impose punishing sanctions.
A Western diplomat said the United States was "fully in waiting mode, waiting to see how the Iranians react" to the European offer, which is aimed at avoiding taking Iran to the Security Council.
Diplomats said ambassadors from Britain, France and Germany had Tuesday handed over in Tehran a written request for Iran to halt uranium enrichment, a process which makes fuel for civilian reactors but which can also be used to manufacture the material for the explosive core of nuclear weapons.
"This paper fudges the uranium enrichment question by saying suspension needs to hold until the conclusion of negotiations over the long-term status of Iran's program," said the Western diplomat who requested anonymity.
The EU, led by Britain, France and Germany, has so far in, talks that started in October, said Iran must indefinitely suspend uranium enrichment, but Iran insists that its right to enrichment cannot be called into question by an indefinite suspension.
Europe's three major powers are offering Iran nuclear technology, including access to nuclear fuel, increased trade and help with Tehran's regional security concerns if the Islamic Republic halts enrichment.
But Iran has said it wants these incentives to be given to it up front, instead of having to wait until the end of the negotiating process, diplomats said.
"Iran is willing to consider a suspension but wants to know what it will get in return," a non-aligned diplomat close to the IAEA told AFP Tuesday after a briefing the the NAM in Vienna by Iran's IAEA ambassador Pirooz Hosseini.
The European proposal submitted Tuesday hardens the offer of incentives, including moving up the timetable for Iran to receive them, diplomats said.
Top nuclear negotiator Hossein Mousavian said in Tehran that Iran could agree to maintain a suspension of uranium enrichment for half a year.
But he added: "Cessation is rejected, indefinite suspension is rejected, suspension shall be a confidence-building measure and a voluntary decision by Iran and in no way a legal obligation."
In Brussels, French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier urged Iran on Tuesday to produce a "lasting" halt to its uranium enrichment activities, carefully avoiding the word "indefinite" as signs emerged of a compromise deal between Iran and the EU.
"We are in an extremely intensive phase of discussions with the Tehran government and we are entering into this final phase of discussions with a certain optimism," Barnier told reporters at an EU meeting in Brussels.
German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer said the international community should accept Iran's "legitimate right to use nuclear power for peaceful purposes".
But on the other hand, Iran must "stop the (uranium) fuel cycle", Fischer told reporters in Brussels.
Iranian President Mohammad Khatami said in Tehran of Friday's talks: "I am optimistic... Both sides are showing flexibility."
| Rick Kupke, of Rensselaer, Ind., recounts Sept. 24 about when an Iranian man, thinking Kupke was an American spy, threatened to cut out his eye shortly after the Nov. 4, 1979, takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, Iran. Kupke and 51 other Americans were held hostage for 444 days.
AP Photo/JOHN TERHUNE
McLEAN, Va. (AP) -- In the minds of many, terrorists struck their first blow against the United States on Sept. 11, 2001. But others look back exactly a quarter-century ago, on Nov. 4, 1979, when 66 Americans were taken hostage at the U.S. Embassy in Iran.
Most remained in captivity for 444 days. Today, reflecting on their experiences through the prism of 9/11, the war in Iraq and two decades of tumultuous relations with the Middle East, many say the United States was too late to recognize that a new era had begun.
"The day they took us is the day they should have started the war on terrorism," said Rodney "Rocky" Sickmann, 47, of St. Louis County, Mo., an embassy security guard.
Many agree that terrorists were emboldened by their success in the Iran hostage crisis -- none of the hostages were killed, but the U.S. government agreed to release $8 billion in frozen Iranian assets -- and see the kidnappings and beheadings in Iraq as a consequence.
"Given the terrorist modus operandi nowadays, we probably wouldn't come out alive. They weren't as bold then. They had a latent fear of the United States," said Chuck Scott, 72, of Jonesboro, Ga., a former Green Beret in Vietnam who was an Army colonel when he was taken hostage.
Steven Kirtley, 47, of McLean, who was a Marine security guard at the embassy, said that while he's grateful everybody survived, he's also angry about what he sees as America's largely ineffectual response to the hostage-takers. He called the episode "a stepping stone to get that terrorist movement going. It was such a terrible loss of face ... such a show of weakness that I still don't think we've recovered."
Fifty-two of the hostages were held for the entire 444 days. Of those, 11 have since died.
Among the rest, memories of that time have resurfaced with the kidnappings and beheadings of Americans in Iraq.
"When I saw them there blindfolded with the guys with the ski masks on -- I had gone through those things in Iran," said Rick Kupke, 57, of Rensselaer, Ind. "I can tell exactly what they felt and the fear that's going through them."
William Blackburn Royer Jr., 73, of Katy, Texas, remembers being jolted awake by the screams of his captors, "herded like cattle" into another room, stripped naked and forced up against a wall in front of a firing squad.
"The whole thing was a shock to the system -- my legs were shaking from the insecurity of the situation," he said. "It was intended as a good psychological upheaval."
Still, he was not sure if he would be killed.
Paul Needham said he remembers reciting the 23rd Psalm as he was lined up for a firing squad. He said he reflects on his captivity every day.
"It definitely changed me," said Needham, 53, of Oakton, Va., a professor at the National Defense University. "I took a look at getting my priorities in life in order -- God and family and country, rather than work, work and work."
While nearly all the hostages said they feared for their lives at some point, many said their memories center on the tedium. Most hostages were largely isolated, and many said they were allowed outside for exercise less than once a month.
During a six-week stint in solitary confinement, Gary Earl Lee said he "made friends" with ants and a salamander that inhabited his room. He would tease the ants with a pistachio nut, letting them almost reach it before nudging it farther away.
"At least they were something better than the guards," said Lee, a retiree living in south Texas.
L. Bruce Laingen, of Bethesda, the embassy's charge d'affaires, was the highest ranking American taken hostage. He said it doesn't make sense that 25 years later the United States has little dialogue with Iran, considering the large American stake in the Middle East.
He mainly faulted Iranian leaders for pursuing hostile policies such as developing nuclear technology and continuing to threaten Israel. He has lingering bitterness for the men and women who took him hostage.
But he doesn't blame the Iranian people, who he said were welcoming.
"We need to understand Iran, and Iran needs to seek to understand us," he said.
As for the anniversary, many said they prefer to remember another day.
"We celebrate Jan. 20, the anniversary of our release," Laingen said. "That's a good day. Nov. 4 is the day the roof fell in."
US attack on Iran 'inconceivable'
BRUSSELS, Nov 4 (AFP) - The European Union's Dutch presidency dismissed Thursday speculation about a US military strike on Iran to force the Islamic republic to abandon its nuclear drive.
Referring to suggestions that some in the United States wanted to attack Iran, labelled part of an "axis of evil" by the re-elected President George W. Bush, Dutch Foreign Minister Bernard Bot said "not all people in Washington" endorsed this.
"I don't think we're thinking of military strikes. I think that would be counter-productive," he told reporters shortly before the start of a two-day EU summit that will debate Iran among other international headaches.
Ahead of fresh talks on the nuclear issue between Iran and the EU in Paris on Friday, Bot said the EU had "clear indications" that the Iranian government wants to pursue dialogue.
"It is more helpful to continue the dialogue and to convince the Iranians that there are other means if you want to have a nuclear programme," he said, noting a Russian offer of enriched uranium for peaceful atomic energy in Iran.
But the Dutch minister added: "Of course we cannot wait interminably."
Earlier Thursday, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said it was "inconceivable" that the United States would attack Iran over its nuclear programme and that the world would back such action.
US stand on Iran crucial in oil issue
[ THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 04, 2004 04:10:26 AM]
Last Update: Thursday, November 4, 2004. 9:17pm (AEDT)
A veteran Washington correspondent and political author says George W Bush's resounding election victory will see him pursue a strong conservative agenda in his second term, possibly including support for military strikes against Iran.
Mr Bush has vowed to continue to pursue the war on terrorism and has promised to earn the trust of a country divided by a bitter election campaign.
Correspondent Martin Walker, now a senior editor with United Press International, says Mr Bush will pursue his conservative agenda with a strong mandate.
"I'm pretty sure we're going to see a real push to impose a very, very conservative set of justices on the Supreme Court," Walker told ABC TV's 7.30 Report.
"We're probably going to have three vacancies coming up in the next few months and I'm not sure that Roe v Wade, the traditional right of a woman to have an abortion is going to survive that.
"We're going to see privatisation, more and more, of social security, young people being encouraged to take care of their own pensions.
"We're going to see, I think, a new push for the outlawing of gay marriage - all of these conservative measures.
"I think we're also going to see, very, very quickly a real crisis with the rest of the world as George Bush carries out that pledge he made in the debates that Iran will not be allowed to develop nuclear weapons.
"How he does that, we don't know, but my guess is we could well be seeing Israeli war planes, with US support, hitting Iranian nuclear facilities within the next three or four months."
Walker says it is "very nearly a foregone conclusion" that Mr Bush's second-term foreign policy will be conducted without Colin Powell and Rich Armitage, seen as moderate voices on foreign policy.
"I'm told that Colin Powell and Rich Armitage have actually printed out the brochures for the private foreign policy consulting firm they're planning on setting up," he said.
Walker says the widespread analysis that 'moral values' won the election campaign for Mr Bush is credible.
"[Moral values is] a code word for a number of separate things," he said. "It means, first of all, God.
"It means, secondly, gays and being very, very careful about any rights being extended to them.
"Thirdly, it means guns and the rights of Americans to bear arms and, finally, what it means is patriotism.
"The Republicans have learned the trick - they learned it under Ronald Reagan, they learned it back under Richard Nixon - to wrap themselves in the flag, to accuse the Democrats of being a bunch of weak, namby-pamby appeasers and that the sanctity of the Republic is only safe in Republican hands.
"I've got to say that George Bush played that card brilliantly, even though the Democrats thought that by nominating a genuine Vietnam War hero in John Kerry, they could finally make some ground in these macho stakes, but the Republicans did it again."
November 04, 2004
The Economist Print Edition
Why did Tehran's parliamentarians, usually so quick to suspect foreigners of stealing a march, stay silent last week when China signed an advantageous deal to extract and buy huge quantities of Iranian oil and gas? Look to China's power of veto in the United Nations Security Council. The deal's small print favours China, but the Iranians are hoping for Chinese protection if other council members, notably the United States, try to have them sanctioned by the council for their advancing nuclear ambitions.
Iran thinks the likelihood of sanctions has diminished since September, when the board of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN's nuclear watchdog, asked it to suspend all uranium-enrichment and plutoniumreprocessing activities. Russia, Iran's main civilian nuclear supplier, also has a veto in the Security Counciland could block an anti-Iran resolution too. So, rather than refer Iran to a divided council, France, Britain and Germany want to persuade the Iranians to accept a deal to freeze (in the hope ultimately of dismantling) Iran's programme to master the full nuclear fuel cycle and thus keep the issue off the UN's agenda.
The scheme depends on Iran's willingness to stop producing feedstock for centrifuges that produce enriched uranium and to halt work on a heavy-water reactorat Arak, in central Iranideally suited to producing plutonium. But the Iranians say they are prepared to stop these fuel-cycle activities, which they maintain are for civilian purposes but which could also provide fissile material for bombs, for no more than a few months; they demand rewards that include recognising their right to pursue all such nuclear technologies.
The American administration fears that such a deal would allow the Iranians to develop their programme secretly. After all, the Americans point out, Iran exploited loopholes in an earlier deal, signed with the Europeans in October last year, which was meant to halt Iran's progress towards producing uranium and plutonium but barely slowed it down.
The bruised Europeans hope that a fresh deal, with no loopholes, would permit further negotiations to end Iran's attempts to master these dangerous technologies. But the Iranians insist they will not entertain such an idea, and have shown themselves to be shrewd negotiators.
In the run-up to November 15th, the deadline set by the IAEA for a suspension of Iran's nuclear fuel-cycle activities that could be verified ahead of the agency's board meeting later in the month, Iran's negotiators have been telling their European counterparts that they are under pressure from hawks at home. On October 31st, Iran's parliament, now dominated by hardliners, approved the framework for a bill to compel the government to develop fully a nuclear capabilityincluding, says parliament's speaker, a nuclear fuel cycle.
The Europeans are mulling over whether to offer further incentives to persuade Iran to hold off. But few of these are seductive enough. The European Union might, for instance, support Iran's bid to join the World Trade Organisation, but that is not much of a lure so long as the United States opposes it, which it still does. Other incentives, such as a European proposal to sell Iran a light-water reactor, might not be enough to persuade Iran, in return, to scrap its plan to build the Arak reactor.
Only America, it seems, might dissuade Iran from pressing ahead with its enrichment and reprocessing plans. Military strikes on suspected nuclear installations in Iran, perhaps by Israel, which feels most directly threatened by the prospect of an Iranian nuclear bomb, are fraught with risk. Through its fellow Shia proxies, Iran could sow chaos in Afghanistan and Iraq, and help stoke up terror against Israel. But so far the Bush administration has refused to offer incentives. And as long as Iran regards America and Israel as potential aggressors, it is unlikely to stop seeking what it regards as a nuclear shield.
November 03, 2004
The Jerusalem Post
The reelection of George W. Bush will be perceived by militant Islamists as a defeat for them, just as the fall of the Aznar government in Spain was seen by them as a victory. Bush's endorsement by the American people by a respectable margin is a landmark for this region, as the election was fought, more than perhaps any in history, over policies relating to this part of the world.
Though the war in Iraq was the central issue in the campaign, it might be premature to argue that the election constituted a ringing endorsement of that war. Rather, Americans, despite their misgivings, seemed to agree that there is no turning back in Iraq.
Perhaps most significantly, the election provided a mandate for the context in which the war was fought: Bush's conclusion that the spread of liberty, rather than the "stability" of a sea of dictatorships, is the only real way to stem the tide of Islamist terrorism.
Now that Bush has received this mandate, the urgent question is what he will do with it.
The election, as elections do, postponed and distorted what might have been the natural evolution of the Bush policy following the ousting of Saddam Hussein.
Speaking to cheering troops on the USS Abraham Lincoln on May 1, 2003, Bush laid down his post-war marker: "Any outlaw regime that has ties to terrorist groups and seeks or possesses weapons of mass destruction is a grave danger to the civilized world and will be confronted. And anyone in the world, including the Arab world, who works and sacrifices for freedom has a loyal friend in the United States of America."
It has not been that way, exactly.
The Iranian regime, now the leading remnant of what Bush aptly called the "axis of evil," is openly defying Europe and the United States. The mullahs have actively contributed to, and taken advantage of, the troubles America has had in Iraq. Between the war and the election, Teheran has enjoyed a form of immunity, during which it has bought precious time to transform its quest for nuclear weapons into an irreversible fait accompli.
There is still much to do to consolidate an American victory in Iraq a victory central to transforming the Middle East. At the same time, the Iranian challenge looms ever larger. The war in Iraq, after all, was fought not only to demonstrate that regimes that openly support terror and defy the world will not stand, but to prevent the nexus of the "world's most dangerous powers and most dangerous weapons."
On that aircraft carrier, Bush said, "The battle of Iraq is one victory in a war on terror that began on September the 11, 2001 and still goes on." He was right that it was just one victory, but since then the war has, except for the very important capitulation of Libya, essentially stalled on the level of challenging rogue regimes. Success in Iraq, itself not guaranteed, will have been a failure if it prevented the United States from confronting the not lesser threat from Iran.
Bush has repeatedly stated that each situation requires its own policy, meaning that the precedents of Afghanistan and Iraq do not mean that the only tool in the American arsenal is military force. This makes perfect sense, but it introduces the question: how will the Iranian bomb be stopped?
Even before Bush's reelection, and despite their wish for his defeat, France and Germany have quietly moved to heal wounds from the bruising battle over the war in Iraq. They have, with the UK, led their own initiative to stop the Iranian nuclear program, which they claim is unacceptable.
Unlike with Iraq, then, Bush's European problem was having to take yes for an answer. His reluctance was doubtless a function of both the ongoing embroilment in Iraq and the impending election.
Now that the election is over, and the E-3 have had ample chance to coax Iran into compliance, there is little more time for "testing" Iranian intentions that are obvious for all to see.
It is not clear that even the threat of painful UN Security Council sanctions will induce Iran to demonstratively abandon its nuclear program. What is clear is that nothing short of such a threat has a hope of success, and that sanctions are the best hope for avoiding the need to take military action.
Deputies of Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani have warned the Shia of Iraq of the risk of going to hell if they fail to participate in the January 2005 elections. This new approach to politics on the part of the Hawza is very curious.
Mandating political participation in a system controlled by an oppressive regime is alien to Shia thought, unless the participant is certain of a positive outcome. The corruptness of the political process in Iraq is beyond doubt and a Shia participation is far from certain to beget any positive outcome. Hence, it is preposterous to threaten those who do not participate with hellfire. Furthermore, the Hawza seem to be content with the current election law in Iraq, despite the potential damage it could cause the political future of the country.
Aside from its extreme vagueness, this law is designed to benefit a clique of party bosses and their foreign patrons. In defiance to common sense and practicality, Iraq, with all its political and ethnic chaos, is being lumped into one giant electoral district. Political parties will submit lists of candidates asking, for example, a voter from a village in the marshes of Nasiriya to expect that his interests are represented by people from, Baghdad, Kurdistan, Detroit, and London. If he has a problem with this farce, he can go to hell -- literally.
There are two explanations for the Hawza's fervour about this election. The first is historical. The Hawza has often been blamed for the plight of its constituents over the past 80 years after their notorious fatwas demanded all Iraqis to boycott the elections of 1923. With the same extremist tones, the Ayatollahs of the time declared that if "anyone participates or helps in the elections [it] would be as if he fought against Allah, the Messenger and the imams. Such [a] person would clearly deserve the eternal torment in hellfire." The result was the elimination of the majority from any participation in the government. The Shia never recovered from this infringement, nor did they forgive the Hawza for betraying their legitimate claims. The bitterness grew after the same Ayatollahs decided to cancel their own fatwas and rubber- stamp the same elections which they had previously banned.
The second explanation relates to the chances of certain political parties close to the Hawza in the elections. Given the approved setup, clergymen and politicians loyal to the Hawza will have the opportunity to submit a list blessed by the Grand Ayatollah and enter the legislature without having to worry about the rising popularity of rivals such as Moqtada Al-Sadr. The list is also meant to secure easy passage to parliament for a few questionable individuals who failed the test during the crisis of Najaf. The political background for the list will involve the Al-Daawa Party, the Supreme Council and other clergy associated with the Hawza. To say that withholding support for this kind of politician would classify eligible voters as enemies of the Prophet is nothing but an empty rhetoric.
Having a legislature dominated by a combination of self-appointed extreme Shia leaders is not necessarily beneficial for the Shia community. Many of the clerics have already been in governmental positions over the past 18 months while others dominate the local administration in most parts of southern Iraq.
Yet whenever a crisis presented itself they were nowhere to be found. Indeed, they have been part of a government that violated the most sacred Shia symbols and practiced some of the worst kinds of corruption. Even the destruction of the old city in Najaf and the damage to the Shrine of Imam Ali were not sufficient enough to generate one resignation or strong denouncement from these pretentious Shia leaders. There is no evidence that they would act any differently should they be elected to the next government.
However, Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani has surely made a few positive political accomplishments when he interceded personally to curb certain plots against a democratic Iraq. Among his commendable accomplishments are his demands that the writing of the permanent constitution must be carried out by an elected committee, his rejection of the transitional administrative law and his historic interception of a catastrophe in Najaf. Yet to this record he should have added a clear rejection of the election law and demanded a decent set of rules for what could be the most important political event in Iraq for years to come.
The law in its present language -- vague and incoherent, an apparent translation of a foreign document -- does not provide independent individuals with a fair access to running for political posts. In addition, nothing in this law can prevent a recurrence of the travesty that accompanied the appointment of the current assembly. The next legislature will be called upon to make some very significant decisions. Among these are the writing of a permanent constitution, the status of foreign troops in the country, and the political identity of Iraq at the regional and international levels; not to mention the hot issues in the domestic realm. Any smell of illegitimacy would exacerbate these disputes and render a genuine settlement out of reach. At that point, the road to hell would not require a fatwa.
JEDDAH, 4 November 2004 With President George W. Bush re-elected for a second term, the Middle East and the Muslim world beyond would do well to take a second look at the man who would lead the American superpower for four more years.
Who is George W. Bush? Is he a bumbling, low IQ rich kid, playing dummy for sinister ventriloquists? Or is he the populist demagogue in blue shirtsleeves out to sell the gullible Americans a bill of good?
If he is any of those things one must wonder how he has succeeded in persuading more than 50 million Americans to vote for him for a second time.
Is it not possible that he may be a traditional conviction politician of the kind that became endangered species after the cultural revolutions of the 1960s?
The first thing that we need to note is that Bush returns in a stronger position. He becomes the first candidate since 1988 to win the US presidency with a majority of the popular vote. He is also the fourth American president in more than half a century to win a second term. Also, he is the first US president since 1901 to enter a second term with his party in control of both the Senate and the House of Representatives. He has won more votes than any president in all American history in an election that also saw the largest voters turnout ever in the US. This point merits attention because some people outside the US had assumed that Bush, having stolen the 2000 election, did not represent the American people.
Such assumptions enabled many people to present themselves as anti-Bush rather than plain anti-American. Now, however, it would not be easy to disguise anti-Americanism as anti-Bushism.
The second point to understand about Bush is that he is the first US president for half a century to be prepared to use American power, including military force, in a decisive way and, when necessary, regardless of what the global glitterati and the international community might think. The fact that he is able to do so is due to the 9/11 events that changed America forever.
Bushs victory underlines another often overlooked fact.
The United States, far from being the hedonistic liberal society represented by Hollywood elite, is, in fact, a conservative traditional society. This enables Bush to assume a missionary posture that would be unthinkable in other democracies, especially in Europe.
Unlike European, and some American, politicians, who deal in shades of gray, Bush sees the world in black and white terms. When Bush says: You are either with us or against us, he really means it. He perceives of good and evil as physical realities, and not metaphysical abstractions, affecting the lives of both individuals and nations. French President Chirac likes to call Bush a cowboy while Japanese Premier Koizumi describes him as Gary Cooper at High Noon.
According to an old Arab saying a man is best known through his enemies rather than his friends. The logic of this is that a bad man might choose good friends. Well, here are some of Bushs enemies: Mulla Omar, Osama Bin Laden, Saddam Hussein and, oh yes, the speculator George Soros.
Some world leaders have tried to understand George W. Bush based on what they know of his fathers tenure as president. The older Bush, however, was a classical style balance of power player raised on a fare of Cold War politics. To him the highest call of politics was to defend and perpetuate the status quo. The younger Bush, on the other hand, is a change-maker, as evidenced in his domestic and foreign policies.
Love him or hate him, W will be around for four more years. And, unlike in his first term in which he was dogged by memories of the 2000 dispute in Florida and cast by his foes as a usurper, he is now the undoubted leader of his people.
In the past four years some countries and leaders adopted a waiting-it-out policy in the hope that Dubya will not get a second term. That policy is no longer a realistic option.
The Palestinians cannot wait four more years in the hope that George W. Bushs successor will, once again, unroll the red carpet for Yasser Arafat to the White House. If they want to talk to Washington they have to come up with a new leadership.
The mullas cannot afford to wait four more years in the hope that Bushs successor would swallow a nuclear-armed regime in Iran. Syria cannot ignore the latest Security Council resolution on Lebanon for four more years. Iraqs enemies cannot hope to fight for four more years to prevent stabilization and demcoratization.
While the world must accommodate and work with W2, it is also important that George W. Bush, too, should review its policies and, above all, style, in the second term. Dubya could repeat Ronald Reagans experience who, despised by many in his first term, ended up by winning virtually everyones admiration in his final four years at the White House.
W2 would need to modify the needlessly abrasive style of sections of his administration. It needs to ruffle fewer fathers when there is no need to do so. Having shown that he is capable of waging war in military terms he now needs to also show that he can make more effective use of diplomacy, both official and public, and the magnetic pull of American culture and values. More urgently, Bush needs to explain the United States involvement in Iraq more convincingly to his own people. Many enemies of Iraq and the US have built their strategy on the hope that rising doubts about the necessity, not to say legitimacy, of the war might sap public support for the presidents ambitious dreams for a new Middle East.
The American people have decided to give George W. Bush the rare privilege of a second term. There is no reason why the rest of the world should not also do so.
2004 Thursday 04 November
Starting today a special law established for the homeless and poor will be enforced. Landlords will not be permitted to evict for tenants who are three months behind on their rents and those who are homeless will be permitted to sleep in the Metro Stations or other public places at night.
Among these refugees there are young Iranians who roam the streets and live in tents because they were refused asylum. Many of these are waiting for the day when they are permitted to live legally in some European country.
Twenty eight year old Vaheed, tells the Radio Farda interviewer of his trip to France 4 years ago; he had dreams of getting into university in France as he had no way of getting into university in Iran. His request for asylum was denied and if he knows that if he returns to Iran he will be arrested and imprisoned.
Another refugee says that for now, he is working in a place where people who are not documented and have no work permit are taken on for cheap labor (jobs that the French refuse). Twenty two year old Mohammad says that he hopes to go to England.
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