Skip to comments.Iranian Alert - December 9, 2004 [EST] -- IRANIAN DISSIDENTS TO FORM UNITED REFERENDUM FRONT
Posted on 12/09/2004 1:48:14 AM PST by DoctorZIn
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Iranian Dissidents to form united referenfum front
Posted Tuesday, December 7, 2004
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By Elie Lake
NEW YORK, 7 Dec. (The New York Sun) After years of bitter internal divisions and a series of crackdowns from the Islamic Republic, the Iranian democratic opposition in the last two weeks has organized a united front to push for a referendum on the powers of the supreme leader.
In an exclusive interview with The New York Sun, a founder of the new front, which comprises the major student groups as well as leading lawyers and activists inside the country, said organizers this week began fanning out across Persia to collect the names of fellow citizens for a petition supporting changes to the constitution to allow a referendum.
"We think this is a good step that all the opposition groups are united in one direction, the direction of the referendum", Mohsen Sazegara said in a telephone interview from London. "As far as I know, this is a unique event, all groups from monarchists to republicans, from left to right are now behind us and they support the referendum movement".
We think this is a good step that all the opposition groups are united in one direction, the direction of the referendum
Mr. Sazegara is a founder of what in Farsi is called Tahkime Vahdat, which is translated into "Consolidate unity". The organization includes many of the reformists who had tried to work within the system with President Mohammad Khatami as well as supporters of the son of the deposed Shah, Reza Pahlavi.
Perhaps most important though, the new unified front includes the Islamic student organizations active in the country's universities. These groups originally supported the 1979 Islamic revolution but in recent years have demanded more political freedoms for the Iranian people.
Mr. Sazegara told the Sun yesterday that Tahkime Vahdat sought to enlist handwritten signatures for the referendum petition inside the country to post on their new website, www.60000000.com,a site that hopes to eventually get that many supporters for the referendum. "We have received in the last two days already 350 emails, containing the names of whole families, in some cases with 50 names each. This shows that the referendum is supported by the youth and their parents." In the last two weeks, the website says it has already received 19,000 people who support the national vote.
So concerned have the Mullahs been about the web site that they have blocked it nside the country, borrowing a tactic from Communist China that bars its citizens from accessing even western newspapers. "It's fine that they want to block the website, we are just going to get the people to participate through the email," he said.
Mr. Sazegara said his organization planned to present the names of Iranians who sought the referendum to the United Nations and other international bodies. "We want to show the international community that this is the will of the Iranian people."
Mr. Sazegara arrived in London in March for surgery to his ailing heart; a condition worsened when he was in an Iranian jail and led a 79 day hunger strike. He told the Sun he intended to return to Iran in the coming months, where the regime says he must spend another year in jail for his opposition activities. "If they send me to jail again, I will start another hunger strike".
Unlike many in Iran's exile opposition, Mr. Sazegara was originally a close ally of Grand Ayatollah Roohollah Khomeini, the leader of the Islamic Republic. Indeed he was an early member of the revolutionary guard, the elite military force that has in the past facilitated terrorist activities against America and Israel.
"In those days we thought we were afraid of foreign attacks. I thought if we could have a militia to organize the people in an army then we could protect the country. I thought it was a good idea in those days. After three months after establishing it, I found out that I was not suitable for military action and went into radio and television. The revolutionary guard became something else. Now the revolutionary guard commanders intervene in politics", he said.
Tahkime Vahdat also includes the lawyer for the families victimized by the chain murders of the 1990s, Nasser Zarafshan, who has been in prison since 2002; the former president of Tehran University, Mohammed Maleki; as well as human rights lawyer who was arrested for attending an opposition conference in Berlin in 2001, Mehrangiz Kar. Ms. Kar is now a professor at Harvard University.
From the ranks of student activists inside the country, the organization includes Ali Afshari, Reza Delbary and Akbar Atri. The new group is also significant because it has enlisted support from Iran's ex-patriot community in Europe and America.
We ask all Iranians, progressists and patriots, to join us in our call, and, by signing the present Appeal, echo our voice, with strength and determination, throughout the world
Mr. Sazegara told the Sun yesterday that he was interested in enlisting support from western democracies including America, the country he fought against in 1979 when he was a member of the revolutionary guard.
"We need America to defend the democratic rights of the Iranian people. We want this right to vote in a referendum, we don't want the current constitution, we want to change it", he said. "We need practical help to defend Iranian people. If the Americans can use international policy and sanctions, not against the Iranian people, but against the officials of the regime, this would be good. The people of Iran would like to see the bank accounts frozen for the regime officials. If they publish the bank accounts, the Iranian people will be very happy". Mr. Sazegara also said he would like to see the State Department publicly call for the release of journalists and bloggers arrested in the last month.
Below is the text of National Appeal for Referendum in Iran
Translation from the Persian text and introduction by Ramin Parham
Iran will not recover its lost dignity and place among the free nations of the world and the Iranian people will not enjoy the right to freely and responsibly pursue their individual and collective happiness, but in the hands of Iran.
As recent history has shown, the support of the community of democratic nations will be instrumental in freedoms final victory. But, it will act only as a booster. Iranians alone are the main engine of change. The years of discord and disbelief may be behind us. The battle-ground is no longer blurred by political maneuvering and demagogy. The face of the enemy is emerging, sharper than ever: the fundamental discourse, ideology, constitution, and institutions of the political system known as the Islamic Republic of Iran.
The Obsolete is increasingly exposed in its worn out fibers and venomous essence. The New is on its way. Its form and its content will be determined by the people of Iran. The first practical step has now been taken: what follows, is the English translation of a national call that deserves our resolute support. We are Sixty Million. The theocrats are alone. Let us blow them away!
National Appeal for Referendum in Iran
The experience of the past 26 years along with dozens of disasters, big and small, which have befallen on the people of Iran, belittling the nation and politically isolating Iran, all indicate that there remains only one indisputable way to resolve the ongoing crisis and liberate the oppressed people of Iran:
The organization of democratic governance based on the Universal Charter of Human Rights
Such a system, backed by the will of the majority of the people and on the basis of our national integrity, interests, and cultural and economic values, while building a trust environment with the international community, is the only one which can steer our battered country towards salvation. To achieve this, drawing up a new Constitution and defining the political system we aspire to, constitute the first and vital step. In particular, the experience of the past 8 years clearly demonstrates that no reform will ever be conceivable within the structural framework of the current Constitution. Therefore, given the fact that the Constitution of the Islamic Republic along with the behavior of the Institutions that emanate from it:
Is in fundamental opposition with the Universal Charter of Human Rights and with the individual and social rights and liberties of the people;
Has made official inequalities between Iranian citizens through the legalization of religious, ideological, and gender apartheid, and, based on religious despotism, has, in effect, denied the Iranian people its sovereignty;
Has erected a major barrier on Irans progress in all areas, including economic development and the realization of social justice; and,
To the detriment of Irans national interests in diplomatic relations, has prevented our country from joining the concert of free nations.
Therefore, we, the signatories of the present Appeal, call for the organization of a referendum, expressing the peoples free will under the monitoring of international institutions, in order to convene a Constituent Assembly and draft a new Constitution on the basis of the Universal Charter of Human Rights and its Additional Protocols.
We ask all Iranians, progressists and patriots, to join us in our call, and, by signing the present Appeal, echo our voice, with strength and determination, throughout the world.
Editors Note: Some editing and highlights, as well as phonetisation of names are by IPS
DoctorZin Note: Please also check out http://70000000.com
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Analysis: The Iranian Nuclear Imbroglio
Vienna, 8 December 2004 -- A year ago, efforts to rein in Iran's alleged nuclear-weapons program looked like a triumph of multilateral diplomacy. Now they look like a diplomatic quagmire with no end in sight.
An Iranian technician working at a uranium-conversion facility in Isfahan last month
Five days of tense negotiations at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) wrapped up on 29 November with European diplomats exacerbated, the United States threatening to unilaterally seek UN Security Council sanctions, and many wondering whether Iran is even negotiating in good faith.
The Vienna-based IAEA, the UN nuclear watchdog agency, passed a resolution endorsing and agreeing to monitor Iran's suspension of sensitive nuclear activities, part of a deal Tehran signed with the European Union on 14 November to avoid sanctions. But for Western diplomats and officials involved in the negotiations, it was a Pyrrhic victory at best.
Due to Iran's constant threats to cease all cooperation, the accord is riddled with loopholes and falls far short of the ironclad and legally binding guarantees both the United States and the European Union wanted. And just a day after the deal was sealed, with the ink barely dry, Tehran was already threatening to pull out.
Diplomats who once described the agreement as a confidence-building measure to assure the world that Tehran wasn't developing nuclear weapons are now warily talking of a mounting "confidence deficit."
"There is a general unease," a Western diplomat in Vienna close to the negotiations said, describing the mood of the officials involved in talks. "People want to believe, but aren't sure they can.... This whole process is fraught with peril, but we need to see it through."
Ever since serious suspicions about Iran's nuclear program surfaced in February 2003, the United States and the EU have played "good cop-bad cop" with Tehran: the Europeans offered economic and political concessions; the Americans threatened Security Council sanctions.
By October 2003, the process seemed to create a perfect diplomatic storm to contain Iran's nuclear program when Tehran agreed to suspend uranium enrichment -- a process that produces fuel that can be used in nuclear weapons. But Iran reneged on that deal months later, and threatened to pull out of the 1970 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) if the Security Council imposed sanctions -- and months of frustrating cat-and-mouse diplomacy followed.Iran and the European Union are scheduled to begin negotiations on 15 December on economic and political concessions.
If Iran is determined to pursue nuclear weapons whatever the diplomatic and political cost, there is very little the United States or the rest of the world can do short of a military strike - something could likely further destabilize neighboring Iraq and the Middle East, analysts say.
"They've got us in a corner and we've got them in a corner," said Stephen P. Cohen, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institute specializing in foreign policy and proliferation issues. "I don't see an end to it."
What Is Iran Up To?
At the heart of the unease are fundamental unanswered questions about Tehran's intentions.
Some officials close to the negotiations think the Iranians, who diplomats consider to be master negotiators, are just setting the stage to squeeze as many economic and political concessions out of the Europeans as possible. Others think the real prize is diplomatic recognition from the United States, coupled with guarantees that Washington will not seek "regime change" in Tehran.
Many, however, fear that Tehran is dragging out negotiations as long as possible in order to win time to develop a nuclear weapon.
"Iran may be willing to see if it can be offered enough carrots to give up," the Western diplomat in Vienna said. "Or they could be just playing for time.... We need to make the price so high that Iran doesn't want to make nuclear weapons, or we need to make the benefits so great."
Although oil rich, Iran insists its nuclear program is entirely peaceful and solely for generating electricity.
Regardless of Iran's intentions, it has a proven ability to enrich uranium and has begun developing an emerging infrastructure that could produce weapons-grade material. Without restrictions, Tehran could be just a few years away from a weapon, analysts say.
"This is a highly risky business and there is no guarantee it will work," a senior official close to the IAEA said, referring to international efforts to entice Iran away from a weapons program.
Iran and the European Union are scheduled to begin negotiations on 15 December on economic and political concessions, ranging from trade deals, possible EU support for Iran's bid to join the World Trade Organization, and transfer of peaceful nuclear technology.
On 30 November, a day after the Vienna talks concluded, Tehran was already issuing threats that they may back out of the agreement yet again if they aren't satisfied with what they received.
Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, Supreme National Security Council Secretary Hojatoleslam Hassan Rohani, said Tehran's agreement to suspend activities related to uranium enrichment would be temporary.
Rohani touting Iran's "great victory" after the November talks
"We're talking about months, not years," Rohani said. "Negotiations with Europe will be complicated, it won't be easy and will have lots of ups and downs," he added. "If the Europeans do not show honesty, we will leave the talks.''
The EU says the concessions they are offering are contingent on the enrichment suspension being made permanent.
European Carrots, American Sticks
Iran's nuclear program has been under international scrutiny since February 2003, when the IAEA began investigating allegations of a weapons program.
IAEA inspectors soon found traces of weapons-grade uranium at two sites in Iran -- a clear breach of the NPT treaty-- provoking concerns that Tehran has developed the know-how to build a nuclear weapon.
Enriching uranium is allowed under the nonproliferation treaty, as long as it is reported to the IAEA and open to inspections to assure that they are for peaceful purposes. By covering up these activities, Iran led many who had previously given Tehran the benefit of the doubt to suspect they were trying to develop nuclear weapons.
The United States seized on the new findings and demanded that Tehran be formally declared in violation of the nonproliferation treaty and hauled before the Security Council for possible sanctions. But at an IAEA board of governors meeting on 12 September 2003, the nuclear watchdog instead gave Iran a 31 October 2003 deadline to come completely clean about its nuclear activities. The agency's 35-country board also decided to reconvene 20 November 2003 to decide what measures to take.
In an effort to defuse the mounting crisis, the foreign ministers of France, Germany, and Britain traveled to Tehran and on 21 October 2003 and persuaded Iran to agree to stop enriching uranium and to sign an Additional Protocol to the NPT treaty, which allows for more stringent inspections. The three European states -- which became known as the "EU Three" -- also offered Iran economic concessions if Tehran were to fully with the IAEA.
Two days later, on 23 October 2003 Iran turned over a declaration to the IAEA admitting to 18 years of covert atomic experiments, including the unreported uranium enrichment in violation of the NPT treaty -- although it continued to deny this was for a weapons program.IAEA inspectors discovered that Iran was in possession of a design and components for an advanced P-2 centrifuge.
At the November 2003 board meeting, the UN nuclear agency endorsed the agreement, and Iran's nuclear ambitions appeared to be contained.
"The international community has laid down a marker that Iran must strictly adhere to its nonproliferation obligations in both letter and spirit through a policy of active cooperation and full transparency," IAEA chief Muhammad el-Baradei said at the time.
"We are in new territory with respect to Iran's nuclear program," he added. "We now know more about this program, its nature, extent, and development than at any time in the past."
Shortly afterward, IAEA inspectors discovered that Iran was in possession of a design and components for an advanced P-2 centrifuge, which can enrich uranium faster than the older P-1 design Iran was known to possess.
In June, Iran backed out of the deal with the EU and announced it would resume research work on centrifuges. In September, Iran announced that it had begun converting large amounts of uranium gas to prepare it for enrichment.
As pressure again mounted for sanctions, Tehran cut another deal with the EU Three, signed on 14 November, in which it again agreed to suspend uranium enrichment.
But when the IAEA board met from 25-29 November to endorse the accord, Tehran infuriated both Washington and Brussels by demanding an exemption for 20 centrifuges for research purposes. Iran backed down, but demanded -- and won -- key changes in the wording of the IAEA resolution.
Crucially, the resolution describes the enrichment freeze as voluntary, as opposed to the legally binding commitment both the United States and the EU sought. It is the softest of the six resolutions the IAEA's board of governors has passed in the past 15 months concerning Iran.
Iran's President Hojatoleslam Mohammad Khatami called the resolution "a definite defeat for our enemies who wanted to pressure Iran by sending its case to the UN Security Council.''
But diplomats said Washington did not really push hard for a tough resolution because the United States wanted to give the Europeans a chance to negotiate.
In her closing statement, Jackie Sanders, the chief US envoy to the talks, said Washington might now seek UN Security Council sanctions on its own, regardless of what the IAEA board decides in the future.
"The United States reserves all of its options with respect to Security Council consideration of the Iranian nuclear-weapons program," Sanders told delegates.
"Iran has repeatedly demonstrated bad faith, and the United States has long lost any illusions that Iran's ultimate intentions are peaceful."
Diplomats in Vienna said the Europeans are losing patience with Iran, and might now be more open to sending Iran to the Security Council in the future if the deal breaks down.
Brian Whitmore is a Prague-based correspondent for "The Boston Globe."
12/6/2004 Clip No. 401
Iranian President Khatami Clashes with Reformist Students at Tehran University
The following are excerpts from reports by various Arab and Iranian TV channels of an address by Iranian President Mohammad Khatami to Tehran University students on Iranian Student Day. Soon after beginning his speech, President Khatami found himself under attack by reformist students, who voiced their disappointment in him. Source: Various Arab and Iranian TV Channels, December 6, 2004
Commentator: Did they come in droves to criticize or to praise him? It was impossible to tell. But opinions were clearly divided, so much so that they came to blows. Mohammad Khatami, the president elected with the most support in Iran's history this is what he has come to. Some complained, while others' harsh criticism at times even turned into curses. It seemed that the students of the conservative movement were the only ones who, uncharacteristically, defended the reformist president.
Male Student: We, the students of the Basij, who are always accused of resisting the president, have come to defend him.
Female Student: Why did you keep silent over many things and nominate yourself for a second term? Commentator: Khatami defended his government's achievements in foreign relations and in managing the nuclear issue crisis vis-à-vis the international community.
Khatami: The way we have dealt with the nuclear issue has removed a grave danger that threatened Iran. If we had not acted in an intelligent and calculated manner, we would have faced problems now.
Commentator: In the area of internal policy and in response to the students' accusations of being remiss in handling the pressures of the conservative movement, especially of the Guardian Council, Khatami launched an attack against both the reformists and the conservatives. He accused voices in the reformist movement of following Iran's enemies.
Khatami: Their behavior has cost them their popularity among most of the people. Today we hear voices in the reformist camp which are echoed by the enemies of this people.
Voice: Dear friends, please be seated Let us preserve the etiquette and honor of the university I ask the dear friends In the name of Allah the Compassionate, the Merciful University etiquette and honor require that we be more tolerant towards one another.
Voice: At the university, Basij members have always been oppressed. In the entrance to the auditorium, some people were beaten. Those who were there saw me defend them. But the security men beat me too They beat me as well as them. We have always been the oppressed in the university Cannons, tanks, and Basij members are no more effective
Voice: I ask the friends to be more tolerant and patient.
Khatami: Sir, this is against the rules of democracy. What are you doing? How many people are booing? Don't make me have you removed. Behave yourselves.
Khatami: Listen Be patient. If people not yet in government cannot be tolerant, God forbid, what will happen once they reach the government? I believe that different views are being presented here by different people. I hope that I hope
Crowd: No more lies! No more lies! No more lies! No more lies! No more lies!
Khatami: All right Okay, okay You must be reasonable Only dictators do not accept anyone who is different.
Khatami: I hope that we will not see dictators at the university.
Khatami: We must be tolerant towards people with different opinions
Khatami: I believe that the reforms should come from within the regime. I consider the Islamic Republic to be a great achievement of the most popular revolution in my lifetime.
Khatami: As someone familiar with the pains of society, I see the necessity of preserving this regime. I see the Islamic revolution as the most important stage in Iran's recent history. I see the defense of [the revolution] as my individual duty, for the sake of democracy, freedom, and liberation from foreign control.
Khatami: Long-lasting tyranny is our chronic pain, and the cure for this chronic pain is the rule of the people. We demand freedom. There is no escape. We want freedom in order to survive and to remain proud
Khatami: Dear sir, dear sir. Don't you want progress? Don't be angry. You are young. You don't know what this is all about.
Crowd: Jannati, Jannati, you're the enemy of the people!
Khatami: If you represent the people, I am the enemy of the people.
Voice in crowd: Is your name Jannati?
Voice in crowd: What?
Voice in crowd: They are saying, Jannati, Jannati, you are the enemy of the people.
Khatami: Oh, I thought you were saying Khatami.
Khatami: I thought you were saying "Khatami."
Khatami: Remember, the protestors are standing before the president and shouting their slogans in complete freedom.
Khatami: I say this even now The right way is to act within the Islamic Republic. Rest assured that beyond the Islamic Republic thre will not be a democratic regime in the true sense of the word.
Crowd: (cheering, applause)
Khatami: Don't be tempted by those who were banished from the revolution and want to give us the gift of "freedom" and "democracy."
Khatami: Brothers and sisters, thank God my term is over. But if anybody is owed anything, it is me.
Crowd: (shouts, booing)
Khatami: I'm not saying that the people is indebted to me. The people is the benefactor. The public owes me nothing. The public is the benefactor. But as the representative of this people, I say that some movements are indebted to me. Those fanatics with twisted minds, who lust for power, and who ignore the popular reform movement and its demands, have mobilized forces against this trend instead of conceding to the public and its demands. These demands stem from the public's desires that were manifest in the epic of May 23 [1997, when Khatami was elected]. They objected because of their envy and created obstacles.
Female student to interviewer: I don't think President Khatami was able to fulfill his promises. I don't want to criticize him. However, even though he has always claimed to be honest, he did not have clear positions.
Male student to interviewer: In general, his term was a good one. We have succeeded in opening up to the world, and our relations with many countries have improved.
Male student #2: President Khatami enjoyed great support for a while, and I voted for him in the elections. But he was not able to use this support in order to fulfill his promises.
To view the video click here.
Time is GMT + 8 hours
Posted: 09 December 2004 0415 hrs
Iran, EU nuclear talks to start December 13 in Brussels: Tehran
TEHRAN : Iran's nuclear negotiator Hassan Rowhani is to travel to Brussels on December 13 for talks with three European foreign ministers on Tehran's agreement to freeze sensitive nuclear work, an aide said.
The talks are to take place at the invitation of Britain's Jack Straw, Michel Barnier of France and German Foreign Minister Joschka Fisher, Ali Agha Mohammadi of Iran's National Security Council told AFP.
"The aim of this trip to the headquarters of the European Union is to start negotiations on implementing the Paris accord", targeting a long-term agreement on the nuclear issue with the EU.
Rowhani, Iran's top national security official, said on Tuesday that the first round of the dialogue was also likely to involve EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana.
The director of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Mohamed ElBaradei, has also asked to take part, he said.
According to an EU source in Brussels, Tehran "asked for the first meeting of the steering committee (overseeing the nuclear agreement with Iran) to take place at ministerial level" in order to give it "better visibility".
Last week the IAEA's 35-nation board of governors decided Iran should not be referred to the UN Security Council for possible sanctions after Tehran agreed in a deal with the three EU states to suspend its uranium enrichment programme.
Iran agreed to the deal amid threats from the United States -- which alleges that the Islamic republic is secretly developing nuclear weapons -- to send the matter to the Security Council in New York.
In return, Iran was promised considerable and wide-ranging rewards by the European trio who would like the freeze to become permanent.
Enrichment has been and remains at the heart of the stand-off.
Iran says it only wants to enrich uranium to low levels, so as to produce fuel for a series of atomic power stations it has yet to build. The nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) permits enrichment for peaceful purposes.
In return for the suspension, the EU is offering Iran a package of incentives -- due to be hammered out in more detail when negotiations begin -- on trade, security and technology.
Iran has pledged to maintain its suspension while the negotiations with the EU are in progress.
Israel Urges International Effort on Iran
8 December 2004
Israel's ambassador to the United States, Daniel Ayalon, says it is time for the international community, particularly Russia and the United Nations, to make a more coordinated effort to curb Iran's suspected support of terrorism and development of weapons of mass destruction.
Mr. Ayalon says Iran remains one of the strongest threats to peace in the Middle East. And he says Russia, which is helping Iran build nuclear reactors, can play a positive role in curtailing the threat. Iran and Russia say the nuclear cooperation program is for peaceful purposes. But the United States says the nuclear program could help Iran develop weapons of mass destruction.
Mr. Ayalon says so far Iran has faced few serious consequences from the international community for what he calls its nuclear and terrorist activities.
"I can tell you here that most of the terror activities and efforts are now being directed by inspiration of Iran through the help of Syria and their cronies in Lebanon where they are trying to infiltrate, sending materials, sending instructions," Mr. Ayalon. "Most of the finances come now via the Hezbollah to cells of Tanzim and al Aqsa brigades, terror organizations in the territories. There are also some attempts to recruit Israeli Arabs. This is a very, very major obstacle on the issue of terrorism. Certainly, we would like to see Russia using their leverage vis-à-vis Iran. I think that if Iran would face a unified international position against their activities in terror, and also on the proliferation issue of weapons of mass destruction, this is the only way to stop them."
Mr. Ayalon refused to comment on Palestinian elections, scheduled for January 9th, other than to say Palestinian voters will decide whether they want to pursue peace and stability or continue terrorism.
He made his comments at a discussion sponsored by the Israeli Project, a private organization to promote U.S.-Israeli relations.
How long before Reuters and our MSM start referring to these freedom-seeking dissidents as "terrorists"?
1. "We need America to defend the democratic rights of the Iranian people. We want this right to vote in a referendum, we don't want the current constitution, we want to change it", he said. "We need practical help to defend Iranian people. If the Americans can use international policy and sanctions, not against the Iranian people, but against the officials of the regime, this would be good. The people of Iran would like to see the bank accounts frozen for the regime officials. If they publish the bank accounts, the Iranian people will be very happy". Mr. Sazegara also said he would like to see the State Department publicly call for the release of journalists and bloggers arrested in the last month.
When the elections happened in Ukraine, most of the world STOOD UP AND PROTESTED because the people had been robbed of their Free Election! I really don't think the world would have even blinked IF THE PEOPLE had not gone out in full force and raised hell. There is an old saying, "The squeaky wheel gets the grease." Look at the attitude of Mr. Sazegara in the article above. He says that IF Iran puts him back in jail, he'll just go on another hunger strike. Even though, because of his heart, he could die. It reminds me of a line in the old Ben Hur movie. "Death is better than BONDAGE." Patrick Henry would agree. BUT, until the Iranian folks understand this, and come together as ONE to demand their Freedom, no matter what the cost, I really don't think the world will do much more than it is doing. More talks with the mullahs. More talks.....
2. Iranians alone are the main engine of change.
There ya go. I couldn't have said it better myself.
3. Israel's ambassador to the United States, Daniel Ayalon, says it is time for the international community, particularly Russia and the United Nations, to make a more coordinated effort to curb Iran's suspected support of terrorism and development of weapons of mass destruction.
Here is the problem. While the world holds chats with the mullahs, the mullahs are continuing to develop their weapons to take over the world for allah. Put yourself in Israel's place. How long can they sit by and watch the EU/UN/etc "FIDDLE" while the Middle East "BURNS"? This is a sad situation all the way around. Freedom isn't free, it always costs LIVES. My one sincere hope is that the folks of Iran continue this petition, get the needed signatures, rise up themselves, get the notice/backing of the rest of the world, and run the mullahs out before Israel is FORCED to take matters into her own hands.
Iran secretly approached US for pactBy Muawia E. Ibrahim
9 December 2004
ABU DHABI An international expert has disclosed that Iran had secretly approached Washington to negotiate an agreement on the nuclear issue after it felt vulnerable to US pressure, following the Riyadh bombings last year.
Delivering a lecture at the Emirates Centre for Strategic Studies and Research (ECSSR) in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday, Dr Gary Samore, Director of Studies and Senior Fellow for Non-proliferation at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), UK, said: After the Iraq war, Iran felt vulnerable to US pressure and secretly approached Washington to negotiate an agreement on the nuclear issue. However, this happened after the May 2003 Al Qaeda bombings in Riyadh, which Washington traced to senior Al Qaeda officials residing in Iran. Teherans overtures were spurned.
He said the unexpected had happened at that time when the US, instead, led a campaign at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to adopt a resolution in September 2003 that implicitly threatened to refer Iran to the UN Security Council for past violations of its IAEA safeguards agreement.
In response, Iran reached an agreement with the EU-3 (the United Kingdom, France and Germany) in October 2003 to resolve past violations, accept more intrusive IAEA inspections under the Additional Protocol and temporarily suspend its enrichment and reprocessing programmes. In return, the Europeans agreed to protect Iran from US efforts to refer Iran to the UN Security Council, which Teheran feared could lead to economic sanctions and even lay the basis for a military attack on its nuclear facilities, the non-proliferation expert said.
He said as the American predicament in Iraq worsened by early 2004, an emboldened Iran began to renege on the 2003 agreement, resuming some aspects of its enrichment programme. The US responded by again threatening to refer Iran to the UN Security Council, and a new suspension agreement was reached in November 2004. In return, the EU-3 again agreed to block referral to the Security Council as long as Iran continued to cooperate with the IAEA and maintain the suspension.
The expert said prospects for the upcoming EU-3 negotiations with Iran, scheduled to begin in mid-December, are uncertain. On the one hand, Iran would clearly prefer to complete its enrichment programme, which would give it a nuclear weapons capability within a few years. As a result, Teheran will resist European efforts to obtain a permanent cessation of its fuel cycle programme in exchange for various political and economic inducements. On the other hand, Teheran has been reluctant to risk a confrontation with the great powers, all of whom prefer to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. As a result, it has been willing to cooperate with the IAEA and temporarily suspend its enrichment programme in order to avoid referral to the Security Council.Dr Samore said for the immediate future, Teheran may be content to negotiate with the EU-3 and bide its time, as it awaits developments in Iraq and the outcome of Irans presidential elections in May 2005. A key factor in the ultimate success or failure of the EU-3/Iran talks will be whether the US is prepared to endorse and support an agreement.
(AFX UK Focus) 2004-12-09 09:17 GMT:
Iran to give up seat on ThyssenKrupp's supervisory board
FRANKFURT (AFX) - The representative of the Iranian government on the supervisory board of German heavy industry giant ThyssenKrupp is to give up his seat on the board, it emerged Thursday, with press reports suggesting the move was a result of pressure from the US. The name of Mohamad-Mehdi Navab-Motlagh, deputy minister for economic and international affairs in Tehran, is not on the list of supervisory board members proposed for re-election at ThyssenKrupp's upcoming annual shareholders meeting on Jan 21. The list of candidates for re-election was published in the invitation to the meeting and was made available on ThyssenKrupp's website. A spokesman for the company declined to comment on the matter. However, a number of German newspapers suggested that the departure of the Iranian government official from ThyssenKrupp's supervisory board was a condition imposed by the US administration for including the German steel and engineering giant in public contracts in the US. Washington had already compelled ThyssenKrupp to cut Iran's stake in the company to less than 5 pct in 2003, the reports said. ThyssenKrupp did so by buying 16.9 mln of its own shares from the Iranian public holding company Ific for 406 mln eur in May 2003. The move cut Tehran's stake in ThyssenKrupp from 7.8 pct to 4.5 pct. The business daily Handelsblatt reported in its Thursday edition that the US had now imposed an additional condition, demanding that Iran give up its seat on ThyssenKrupp's supervisory board. The newspaper quoted sources close to the company. Iran acquired a blocking minority stake of 25.01 pct in the then-steel giant Krupp in 1976. That stake was reduced to 7.8 pct when Krupp merged with Thyssen in 1999. spm/vs/cw
IRAN, EGYPT AT ODDS OVER SPY CASE
Iran is denying Egyptian allegations that it recruited Egyptians and Saudis to carry out terror attacks in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, according to news reports.
Egypts state prosecutor said this week that an Egyptian national, 31-year-old Mahmoud Eid Dabous, was arrested and charged with spying for the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, providing them with intelligence to carry out terror attacks in Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
Dabous, together with Iranian diplomat Mahmoud Rida Hasan Dost, was charged with spying and planning assassinations in Egypt and Saudi Arabia and for involvement in the bombing of the chemical compound in the Saudi town Yanbou last May.
Dabous is currently awaiting legal proceedings, whereas Dost left Egypt for Iran and will be tried in absentia, according to the London-based Al-Hayyat.
Egyptian sources said the information in this affair is reliable and that the parties were involved in planning to target the Egyptian national security, to destabilize Saudi Arabia and damage Egyptian-Saudi relations.
Irans Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said the Egyptian allegations are completely unfounded and a sheer lie, according to the official Iranian news agency IRNA.
"Iran is itself a terrorism victim and our stance against terrorism is fully clear and transparent, he said. Such vain allegations serve policies of Zionist Regime and are against public interests of regional states.
The incident is likely to sour Iranian-Egyptian relations which improved last December, when leaders of the two countries met for the first time in 24 years on the sidelines of the United Nations World Summit on the Information Society in Geneva. The meeting was interpreted by the media as indicative of a full restoration of diplomatic relations between the countries.
Iran cut its diplomatic relations with Egypt following President Anwar Sadats signing of the Camp David peace agreement with Israel. Sadats welcoming of the Shah of Iran following the collapse of his regime in 1979 heightened the tensions between the two countries. Later, an Iranian street was named after Khaled Al-Islambouli, the man who assassinated Sadat in 1981, further worsening the situation.
By The Media Line Staff on Thursday, December 09, 2004
December 09, 2004, 8:12 a.m.
The Great DebateWhy the skeptics are wrong.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the third in a three-part series of excerpts from The Case for Democracy by Natan Sharansky with Ron Dermer. They are taken from the books introduction.
Less than two years after the collapse of the Berlin Wall and immediately after the first Gulf War ended, I met with the editorial board of one of Americas most influential newspapers. I suggested that the United States, which had just saved Saudi Arabia and Kuwait from extinction, had an historic opportunity. Now was the time to use Americas primacy in the Middle East to start bringing freedom to a region of the world where hundreds of millions are still denied it. I argued that just as the United States had effectively used linkage to accelerate changes within the Soviet Union, America should link its policies towards the Arab states to those regimes respect for the human rights of their subjects. As a first step, I suggested that Americas newfound leverage in the region might be used to insist that Saudi Arabia accept an opposition newspaper or remove some of its severe restrictions on emigration.
The eyes of my hosts quickly glazed over. Their reaction was expressed in terms that Kissinger easily could have used in 1975 in discussing the Soviet Union: You must understand, they replied politely, the Saudis control the worlds largest oil reserves. They are our allies. It is of no concern to America how the Saudis rule their own country. Saudi Arabia is not about democracy. It is about the stability of the West.
On September 11, 2001, we saw the consequences of that stability. Nineteen terrorists, spawned in a region awash with tyranny, massacred three thousand Americans. I would like to believe that horrific day has dispelled the free world of its illusions and that democratic policymakers recognize that the price for stability inside a nondemocratic regime is terror outside of it. I would like to believe that the leaders of the free world are now unequivocally committed to advancing freedom throughout the region not merely for the sake of the hundreds of millions who have never tasted it, but also for the sake of their own countries security. Most of all, I would like to believe that those who are confident of the power of freedom to change the world will once again see their ideas prevail.
But I have serious doubts. There are, to be sure, important signs of hope. I am heartened by the American-led effort currently underway in the region to build democratic societies in Afghanistan and Iraq as well as by President Bushs determination to see this effort succeed. Moreover, as was true a generation ago, the belief in the power of freedom is not confined to one side of the political and ideological divide. Across the Atlantic, a left of center British prime minister, Tony Blair, appears no less committed than President Bush to a democratic transformation of the Middle East. And to his credit, Mr. Blair has had to make the case for democracy against the views of many in his own Labour Party and the overwhelming doubt of the British public.
But those who believe that a democratic Middle East is possible are few in number. Within certain parts of America, and nearly everywhere outside of it, the voices of skepticism appear ascendant. Many have questioned whether the democratic world has a right to impose its values on a region that is said to reject them. Most argue that military intervention in the Middle East is causing more harm than good. Even within the Bush administration, the presidents words, expressing a profound faith in freedom, are not always translated into policies that reflect that faith.
Freedoms skeptics have returned. They may couch their disbelief in different terms than they did a generation ago. Then, with Soviets nuclear-tipped missiles pointed at Western capitals, the focus was on the inability of the free world to win the war. Now, it is on the inability to win the peace. Nevertheless, the arguments peddled by the skeptics sound all too familiar.
They insist that there are certain cultures and civilizations that are not compatible with democracy and certain peoples who do not desire it. They argue that the Arabs need and want iron-fisted rulers, that they have never had democracy and never will, and that their values are not our values.
Once again, it is asserted that democracy in certain parts of the world is not in the best interests of the West. While it will be readily admitted that the current regimes in the Middle East suppress freedom, those regimes are believed to also suppress a far worse alternative: the radicals and fundamentalists who might win democratic elections. The message is clear: It is better to deal with a Middle Eastern dictatorship that is our friend than a democratic regime that is our enemy.
Finally, it is said that even if the free world might be made more secure by the regions democratization, there is little the democracies can do to help. We are told that freedom cannot be imposed from the outside and that any attempt to do so will only backfire, further fanning the flames of hatred. Since democratic reform can only come from within, the prudent role for leaders of the free world, it is argued, is to make the best of a bad situation. Rather than recklessly trying to create a new Middle East that is beyond reach and which will provoke greater hostility toward the West, democratic leaders are advised to work with the moderate non-democratic regimes in the region to promote peace and stability.
One thing unites all of these arguments: They deny the power of freedom to transform the Middle East. In this book, I hope to explain why the skeptics are as wrong today as they were a generation ago and why the West must not betray the freedoms on which it was built.
I am convinced that all peoples desire to be free. I am convinced that freedom anywhere will make the world safer everywhere. And I am convinced that democratic nations, led by the United States, have a critical role to play in expanding freedom around the globe. By pursuing clear and consistent policies that link its relations with nondemocratic regimes to the degree of freedom enjoyed by the subjects of those regimes, the free world can transform any society on earth, including those that dominate the current landscape of the Middle East. In so doing, tyranny can become, like slavery, an evil without a future.
The great debate of my youth has returned. Once again, the world is divided between those who are prepared to confront evil and those who are willing to appease it. And once again, the question that ultimately separates members of the two camps remains this: Do you believe in the power of freedom to change the world? I hope that those who read this book will count themselves, like me, among the believers.
Natan Sharansky, a former Soviet dissident and political prisoner, is author of the memoir Fear No Evil and currently serves as the Israeli minister for Jerusalem and Diaspora affairs. Ron Dermer is a political consultant and former columnist for the Jerusalem Post.
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