Skip to comments.Iranian Alert - November 5, 2004 [EST]- IRAN LIVE THREAD - "Americans for Regime Change in Iran"
Posted on 11/04/2004 11:29:39 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.
Things start falling into place everywhere when the American voters do the right thing.
Remembering the Iran hostage crisis
To commemorate the occasion, BBCPersian.com spoke to two men involved - one an Iranian hostage-taker, the other one of his former captives.
They spoke of the traumatic events of that day and its lasting repercussions, both in their personal lives and for the two countries.
Ebrahim Asgharzadeh was one of the masterminds behind the takeover of the US embassy.
He is now the secretary-general of Hambastegi (Unity) Party.
How did you plan the operation for taking over the US embassy and taking its staff hostage?
We did not have an accurate and calculated plan for taking over the embassy. We did not have any plans to take any hostages, either.
We were just a group of students who wanted to stage a protest.
If you want to make any judgement about our measures you should do it within the context of the situation in those days, which was full of tension.
The Cold War era was when there was a big competition between two political camps in the world.
Didn't you see it as inhumane to take people as hostages?
We were not supposed to take hostages. We did not think that our move would turn into a long period of hostage-taking which lasted for 444 days.
What was you aim in taking over the embassy?
We neither thought of the aspects of this move, nor its implications. We only intended to make the world hear our protest.
Our only concern was that this move would be opposed by the Revolution's leader, but when we took over the embassy, everything changed within a few hours.
The leader supported us and many groups of people came to the embassy to express their support, in a way that the future events went out of our control.
We had no choice but to stay in the embassy and to take care of its staff.
How did you treat the hostages?
We had not thought of how to keep the hostages at all.
We did not act professionally and some of the embassy's staff managed to get out through the back door.
We had not even decided about blindfolding them.
I think they realised themselves that we had no plans to capture them. We tried to treat them humanely. But there is no doubt that there was a lot of psychological pressure on them.
How do you think about your move today?
In recent years we tried to make the American people understand that our move was just a reaction against the US intervention in our country.
After every revolution there will be some extremist moves.
The Islamic Revolution has now reached stability and this sort of behaviour should not be repeated in the future.
Former US hostage Bruce Laingen, now 82, was US charge d'affaire in Tehran in 1979. He was seized at the foreign ministry.
Mr Laingen is now president of the American Academy of Diplomacy.
What were your first thoughts when the embassy was overtaken?
My first thoughts were ones of obviously surprise, of shock, anger, worry, disdain. All kinds of emotions ran through my mind and the minds of my colleagues during those 444 days.
At first [there was] confidence that it could be set aside by the revolutionary government and the revolutionary leadership.
But increasingly I came to a rapid realisation that I could do nothing to help my colleagues across town. So I lived with that for 444 days.
How were you treated?
Well, the treatment of me in the foreign ministry was better than the treatment of those held in the foreign embassy across the other side of town.
I was held in a room with two of my colleagues, restricted to that space.
I was never physically abused, just denied the fundamental right of freedom.
Eventually I was taken to a prison and spent the last three weeks in solitary confinement, so I got to know what my colleagues had suffered virtually all of the time.
Many of them were held in solitary confinement for long periods of time.
Can you describe it?
Solitary confinement is living alone in the cold.
It was December, January, 1980, 1981, 1982... Living alone in a cell with no light except a dirty window at the top of the cell.
One light, one bulb hanging from the ceiling. Denied the right to do anything except when I needed to go to the bathroom to bang on the door and be blindfolded and be taken down the hall to the bathroom.
It's a very distressing feeling, it makes you doubly angry, it makes you doubly frustrated, your anger with those who are denying you your freedom becomes deeper.
How did being a hostage mark your life?
Obviously, you get over it, if you're fortunate enough to come out alive.
Hostage-taking for many of my colleagues on the other side of the town in the embassy compound meant many of them held for long periods of time in solitary confinement.
I respect them for the way they dealt with that with honour.
Are you in touch with them?
Not regularly, we are not a club.
We see each other occasionally. We have had a lot of contact in the sense that we had a launched a major judicial class action suit against the government of Iran for what they did to us.
Do all of you have the same view of what happened 25 years ago?
Yes we do, we have been united as a group since we were held, even though we could not be physically, together.
Spiritually and mentally we have been together for the whole time.
We are absolutely totally agreed in this class action suit, that what the Iranian government, and I emphasise government, did to us, the government after all embraced this violent action against us by its own citizens.
Some of the comments by the other hostages are more vindictive.
Sure, obviously. There are still 42 who are alive.
We have different views on Iran [but] all of us have a lot of respect for the people of Iran. We have little regard for the theocracy that today rules and governs there.
Do you think since 9/11 the emotion has become worse towards the incident?
Yes I think that is correct, many of us continue to feel that thought, that in the aftermath of 9/11 [we said]: "My God, it began with us."
What were your wife's views?
She was angry and worried, as were all of the hostage spouses.
All of us who got back from Tehran regard them as the real heroes.
In that crisis, in the way they reported themselves, they way they tried to reach out to us.
My wife did [the yellow ribbon] which of course triggered the way in which American people hang up ribbons for all manner of causes.
It's a symbol, a national symbol in this country of reaching out, of caring for caring for our fellow Americans.
Now the yellow ribbon that was put around the oak tree in my front yard that began this tradition is on permanent display at the library of US Congress.
I am very proud of that and I am very proud of my wife for the role she played.
Of all the foreign policy challenges facing President Bush in his second term, none apart from Iraq looms larger than Iran.
Twenty-five years after Iranian students seized U.S. diplomats as hostages, Iran and the United States are at the brink of a potentially more serious confrontation over Iran's apparent determination to develop a nuclear bomb.
Iran says it wants nuclear energy to generate electricity and has the right to manufacture reactor fuel. The United States has left negotiations to its European allies, who have managed to slow but not stop Iran's nuclear drive. Israel, which blew up an Iraqi reactor in 1981 when Iraq had begun a similar program, has warned it will not tolerate a nuclear Iran. So has President Bush. "Our position is that they won't have a nuclear weapon," Bush told Fox News Sept. 27.
The situation is so volatile that officials and foreign policy experts in both Iran and the USA say the possibility of armed conflict is real. "All options are on the table," Bush told Fox News.
Asked about the status of relations recently, Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi was blunt. "It's very bad," he told reporters Sept. 29 in New York, where he attended the United Nations General Assembly. "The question is if it can be changed or not, and if this is in the interest of Americans, Iranians and (other) people in the region to continue this animosity."
Iran is a top priority for at least three reasons:
Nuclear proliferation. U.S. estimates of how long it will take Iran to be able to make a nuclear weapon range from one to four years.
Iraq. Iran, which shares a lengthy border with Iraq, has close ties to Iraqi Shiite groups that could determine Iraq's political future. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told the Council on Foreign Relations, a New York-based think tank, Oct. 4 that the Iranians "clearly want to affect the outcome of the (Iraqi) election, and they are aggressively trying to do that. They're sending money in. They're sending weapons in." Iraq's elections are set for January.
Terrorism. Iran supports Hezbollah and other anti-Israeli groups that have conducted numerous attacks and suicide bombings in Israel. Iran has also said it is holding al-Qaeda members who escaped from Afghanistan. In return for them, Iran wants the United States to hand over leaders of an Iranian opposition group based in Iraq.
Bush is pushing for an early confrontation with Iran at the United Nations by urging the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the U.N. nuclear watchdog, to refer Iran to the U.N. Security Council unless it promises not to produce nuclear fuel. The Security Council could levy punishing sanctions against Iran. The IAEA will meet to consider the issue Nov. 25. Iran has suspended enrichment of uranium, a nuclear fuel, for a year but is threatening to resume it.
But council action is by no means certain. Alternatively, the use of force could be ineffective and backfire. Destroying the nuclear program would be difficult if not impossible, because facilities are dispersed throughout Iran and much of the infrastructure is underground. Airstrikes could retard Iran's progress, but the cost could be high. Iran's hard-line Islamic government has warned that any attack on Iran would provoke a violent response, and the United States has much at risk in the region, with its troops fighting a growing insurgency in Iraq.
For a generation before the hostage crisis in 1979, Iran and the United States were close allies. In 1953, the CIA overthrew an elected government that had nationalized the oil industry, and it reinstalled a pro-U.S. monarch, Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi.
Relations reached their peak in the early 1970s when Richard Nixon was president. "Under the Nixon doctrine, the United States relied on regional powers such as Iran" to contain Soviet influence, says Shaul Bakhash, a professor of history at George Mason University in Virginia and an expert on Iran. Relations plummeted after the shah was overthrown in a revolution led by Islamic fundamentalists in 1979.
Asked to rate relations now on a scale of one to 10 with 10 being relations under the shah and one the hostage crisis in 1979 Bakhash says, "we're barely at four."
Iran's economy minister was even more negative. "We're at zero," Seyyed Safdar Hosseini said in an interview Oct. 6 in Washington, where he attended the annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.
He criticized the Bush administration for making demands on Iran but offering nothing in return. He blamed the administration for blocking Iran's repeated efforts to join the World Trade Organization, despite what he said was Iran's compliance with requirements that it eliminate many of its trade barriers. And he insisted the nuclear program was important for Iran's economic development: "After 25 years, the U.S. should admit that Iran is an independent country based on the support of its people and is following rational policies."
Despite having no formal diplomatic relations since 1980, the two governments have had contacts.
The most tangible thaw came after the election in 1997 of Mohammad Khatami, a moderate cleric, as Iranian president. The Clinton administration eased U.S. economic sanctions slightly in 2000 to permit trade in food, medicine and carpets. But divisions within the Iranian government between hard-liners who wanted no relations with the United States and moderates who favored engagement prevented direct official talks.
Direct talks finally began secretly in Geneva in 2002 as an outgrowth of the U.S. intervention in Afghanistan after the Sept. 11 attacks. The United States and Iran found common cause in deposing the Taliban government, which had persecuted Shiite Muslims and murdered Iranian diplomats and journalists. But the meetings ended in May 2003 after they were reported by the media and a series of bombings in Saudi Arabia was linked to al-Qaeda members who the Iranians say are under house arrest.
A new opportunity to talk at a high level could come this month, when Secretary of State Colin Powell is to attend a meeting in Egypt of foreign ministers from Iraq's neighbors and major industrial nations. Those attending will be "all together in a room, talking about the region and talking about how we can bring stability to that part of the world, beginning with Iraq," Powell said in an interview with the al-Jazeera television network Sept. 29. "And if the Iranians are in the meeting and wish to talk in a responsible manner about this problem, I will be in the room, too."
European officials say the Europeans have to be more willing to punish Iran, while the United States must be willing to offer Iran incentives for giving up efforts to produce nuclear fuel.
"An effective policy is bound to require carrots as well as sticks," says Chris Patten, former external affairs commissioner for the 25-nation European Union. "We have to be able to put a package to Iran that gives Iran an opportunity to play a normal role regionally and internationally." A must, Patten says, is assurances from the United States, which "as the world's only superpower is the country Iran is most concerned about."
|China's FM due in Iran Saturday|
|Beijing, Nov 4, IRNA -- Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing is to pay a two-day visit to Iran on November 6, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said in Beijing on Thursday.
Liu Jianchao added Li will be visiting Iran at the official invitation of his Iranian counterpart Kamal Kharrazi, saying the visit will take place in response to a visit by Kharrazi to China last year.
Liu noted that during Li's meetings with Iranian officials, the two sides are expected to discuss bilateral relations, key regional and international developments as well as issues of mutual interest.
The foreign minister will also exchange views with senior Iranian officials on Iran's nuclear case, the spokesman, saying his country is hopeful that Iran's nuclear issue would be settled properly through the International Atomic Energy Agency.
He stated that Li's visit will boost mutual understanding and pave the way for expansion of Tehran-Beijing ties and cooperation.
Iran and EU "Big 3" to meet for nuke talks
Fri 5 November, 2004 04:39
PARIS (Reuters) - Diplomats from France, Britain and Germany will meet their Iranian counterparts today to discuss an EU offer of incentives in exchange for a termination of Iran's uranium enrichment programme.
Iranian negotiators will offer to temporarily suspend their enrichment programme, which Washington believes will be used to produce fissile material for atomic weapons, for around six months, diplomats close to the talks said.
But this proposal is unacceptable to the European Union's "Big Three" powers, who want Iran to agree to an "indefinite" suspension, diplomats said.
"We still want a termination of the enrichment programme and all related activities," a Western diplomat close to the EU-Iran talks said in Vienna. "I don't expect a breakthrough (on Friday)."
"This was the compromise with the G8 -- no compromises," the diplomat added, referring to a recent meeting of the Group of Eight industrial countries in Washington on Iran.
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Mohamed ElBaradei has encouraged Iran to reach a deal with the Europeans and has even offered to guarantee Iran's supply of nuclear fuel if it abandons its fuel production capabilities, diplomats said.
But Tehran has insisted that uranium enrichment, a process of purifying uranium for use as fuel in atomic power plants or in weapons, is a sovereign right that it will never abandon.
If no deal is struck ahead of a November 25 IAEA meeting on Iran's nuclear programme, the EU is expected to support Washington's demand for a referral to the U.N. Security Council and possible economic sanctions.
win for violence: Iranian press
TEHRAN, Nov 4: The Iranian press on Thursday derided US President George W. Bush's re-election as a victory for violence on the 25th anniversary of the storming of the former American embassy in Tehran.
"Bush's victory proves that Americans themselves naturally lean towards violence," the Siassat Rouz (Politics of the Day) newspaper charged.
"The United States is intrinsically opposed to the Islamic republic on matters such as Israel, the Middle East peace process, nuclear technology, human rights and democracy."
The paper also said it expected "new hostile measures and new accusations from the United States".
The United States and its top ally in the Middle East, Israel, both accuse Tehran of seeking to develop nuclear weapons, with Washington wanting to bring the Islamic republic before the UN Security Council to face sanctions.
During his previous mandate, Bush included Iran, along with Saddam Hussein's Iraq and North Korea, in his "axis of evil".
Ressalat (Mission) predicted a worse-case scenario which would see a "policy of violence disregarding international principles and European alliances".
The reformist Shargh (East) newspaper said that "The American people have re-elected a man who not only has enemies in Iraq and Afghanistan, but also in Iran, France, Germany and even England."-AFP
Iran torn between pride, compromise in N-dispute
By Farshid Motahari
TEHRAN: On the verge of the third round of talks with the European Union over its controversial nuclear programme, Iran is torn between willingness to compromise and the urge to maintain national pride.
"Whatever we do, we do voluntarily, even suspension of uranium enrichment, we will not accept obligation dictated to us by others," President Mohammad Khatami said, reflecting the duality of the Iranian position.
Khatami's predecessor also made clear that Iran could not accept any ultimatum by the European Union. "Our policy is simple and quite clear, we are ready for rational negotiations but vehemently reject any language of force or threat by whoever," Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani said.
With less than three weeks to go to the deadline enforced by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Teheran has signalled readiness to at least partly comply with EU demands.
"A time-limited suspension of uranium could be a suitable ground for continuing the negotiations, an unlimited demand would however be out of the question," chief nuclear negotiator Hassan Rowhani said.
Iran's latest concession is a six-month suspension which observers believe could be extendable to at least one year.
As a sign of national pride, the Iranian parliament last week approved a draft bill which would legalize peaceful use of nuclear technology - and eventually the process of uranium enrichment.
Government spokesman Abdullah Ramezanzadeh immediately heralded the parliament's move as a sign of solidarity with the government's nuclear policies and not as an effort to block negotiations between the EU and Iran.
In line with the government's efforts to keep the nuclear issue a "state-matter", a draft bill by more than 90 conservative MPs pushing the government to ignore EU demands was withdrawn by the parliament's presiding board.
Although Iranian officials regard as unrealistic EU threats to join the United States in bringing Iran's nuclear case to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), the prospect of being turned into another Iraq or even North Korea is not a pleasant one for the Islamic state.
"We have signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), followed all NPT regulations, signed even the IAEA additional protocol and fully cooperated with the IAEA inspectors. What can the UNSC accuse us of?" said former IAEA envoy Ali-Akbar Salehi. "But still we prefer to avoid any confrontations and unnecessary tensions," he added.
On Friday, the Iranian delegation will meet in Paris for the third time with representatives of the EU trio Britain, France and Germany.
Just before the sensitive Paris meeting, President Khatami contacted UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and reassured him once again that Iran was not after nuclear weapons, would be fully committed to the NPT and continue close cooperation with the IAEA.
"We however expect the Europeans to respect the NPT charter which allows all of its members peaceful use of nuclear technology and accordingly, acknowledges Iran's right in this regard," Khatami told Annan.
Unconfirmed press reports that the EU would show some flexibility on the duration of uranium enrichment suspension caused some relief in Teheran. If the EU however continues with its initial demand for unlimited suspension, then the talks in Paris could end in failure.
"We are hopeful to reach the necessary agreements, but even if not, we will be prepared for the worst scenario," government spokesman Ramezanzadeh said without further elaborating.-dpa
Beaten Iranian university chancellor says his capture was pre-planned
Tehran, Nov 3, IRNA -- Chancellor of the University of Science and Technology Mohammad-Taqi Salehi said that he had been held hostage by a number of students according to a pre-planned plot.
He told IRNA that the incident seems to have taken place according to a plan prepared in advance by a group of students.
Elaborating on the incident, Salehi who is now hospitalized at Tehran's Khatamolanbia Hospital said that upon leaving his office he encountered about 30 students who asked him for an appointment to meet him.
Despite his approval of their request, he added, the students rushed towards him, beat him up, and dragged him towards a a bus parked nearby.
Then the students made a few telephone calls and drove towards the building of the Ministry of Sciences, Research and Technology, he noted.
According to the chancellor, he was released after two hours following the negotiations between the hostage-takers and police forces.
Asked whether his hostage-taking had anything to do with a ceremony in the university which was to be addressed by two reformists, he said the ceremony went ahead well quietly and it seems that the incident had nothing to do with it.
He further regretted that certain people were taking advantage the university compound as a means to achieve their own goals. He said he no longer felt secure in the university because of the incident which in fact was an insult to all academics.
Government Spokesman Abdollah Ramezanzadeh here Wednesday urged that those behind hostage-taking incident should be prosecuted.
He said the government considered such provocations uncivil, nonethical and against the principles of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
However, he expressed satisfaction that the move has been condemned by all student movements.
The spokesman said nothing as to identifications of the culprits responsible for the act.
A group of students in objection to the speech of Ibrahim Yazdi and Mostafa Tajzadeh at the University of Science and Technology on Tuesday beat the chancellor and took him hostage for three hours.
According to one of the statements issued by the scientific faculty of the university, Salehi was kidnapped on a confiscated bus.
"He was held hostage for a few hours and beaten violently while the incident was witnessed by the passersby. Salehi was taken to hospital on Tuesday night, once his physical and mental condition deteriorated after being beaten," it added.
The statement also called on students to stay calm and avoid unreasonable reactions that may prepare the grounds for abuse by opportunists
Iranians are Bush's biggest fans
I am one of the expatriates who lived in Iran for 6 years before the embassy takeover. The Iranians are one of the nicest people in the world and I have lots of friends.
The demonstration against the Shah at that time was intigated by the mullahs who did not like him. From what I saw, his only fault was giving freedom to women by eliminating the use of the chador (head covering) and allowing girls to get educated.
Yet Carter let him down, which I believe, had caused all these terrorism today.
Good Luck to you in your quest for freedom for all Iran.
Libreoumort lived there about the same time as you!