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Iranian Alert - January 12, 2005 - EU Lessens Nuclear Issue in Iranian Trade Talks
Regime Change Iran ^ | 1.12.2005 | DoctorZin

Posted on 01/12/2005 1:46:19 AM PST by DoctorZIn

Top News Story

EU Lessens Nuclear Issue in Iranian Trade Talks

January 12, 2005

Marc Champion and Juliane von Reppert-Bismarck

Trade talks between the European Union and Iran to be reopened today won't be linked directly to progress on controlling Iran's nuclear ambitions, EU officials said.

The talks, aimed at securing a Trade and Cooperation Agreement between the EU and Iran , were frozen in 2003. They now are being reopened as a result of Iran's Nov. 15 agreement with Britain, France and Germany to suspend its uranium-enrichment program temporarily.

Even if nuclear watchdogs were to catch Iran cheating, however, the EU wouldn't automatically abandon trade talks, EU officials said yesterday. "There is no mechanical link between the two," the official said.

Parallel negotiations are also under way between the so-called EU-3 and Iran to secure permanent "objective guarantees" that Iran isn't building a nuclear-weapons program. Negotiators in those talks have said specifically that trade talks would end if the nuclear negotiations were to fail.

The differences on linkage are largely bureaucratic, according to a British official familiar with the wider talks. If the nuclear talks fail, the EU-3 would go to other EU leaders to persuade them to halt trade talks too. Nevertheless, the lack of a direct trigger is unlikely to help the European effort to use increased trade and investment as leverage to persuade Iran to abandon its enrichment program, which Iranian officials have vowed to keep. ...

--Marc Champion and Juliane von Reppert-Bismarck

TOPICS: Extended News; Foreign Affairs; War on Terror
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"If you want on or off this Iran ping list, Freepmail DoctorZin

1 posted on 01/12/2005 1:46:21 AM PST by DoctorZIn
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To: Pan_Yans Wife; fat city; freedom44; Tamsey; Grampa Dave; PhiKapMom; McGavin999; Hinoki Cypress; ...
Join Us At Today's Iranian Alert Thread – The Most Underreported Story Of The Year!

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

2 posted on 01/12/2005 1:48:29 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn

Ze'evi: Iran Will be Able to Enrich Uranium in 6 Months

January 11, 2005
David Ratner

Iran could become capable of enriching uranium in six months and develop atomic weapons in two years if it is not stopped by the West, Military Intelligence head Maj. Gen. Aharon Ze'evi said Tuesday.

Tehran, which has said it will suspend uranium enrichment, insists its atomic program is aimed solely at the peaceful generation of electricity, but Washington believes Iran's nuclear energy program is a front to build a bomb.

"According to estimates, Iran is not currently capable of enriching uranium to build a nuclear bomb, but it is only half a year away from achieving such independent capability - if it is not stopped by the West," Ze'evi said in a lecture at Haifa University's National Security Studies Center.

Ze'evi said if Tehran did not stop its uranium enrichment activities, Iran would develop its first atomic weapon between 2007 and 2009.

He said he is trying to impart to the Europeans the significance of the Iranian nuclear threat.

"The Iranians can reach Portugal with nuclear weapons," Ze'evi said. "This doesn't worry the Europeans. They tell me that during the Soviet regime as well they were under a nuclear threat, and I try to explain to them that Iran is a different story."

The European Union said Tuesday it will resume trade talks with Iran this week after Tehran agreed to suspend uranium enrichment, AFP reported. However, the bloc vowed to keep up pressure in areas of concern including the Islamic state's nuclear plans.

But tension remains, notably because Tehran has agreed to maintain the suspension of its uranium enrichment activities only as long as the EU trade talks continue.

Iran agreed last week to allow the United Nations nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, to inspect its Parchin military site, where Washington believes work linked to nuclear bomb-making was carried out.

The inspection will be part of the United Nations investigation into allegations Iran has carried out work linked to nuclear "weaponization," the process of testing or assembling a warhead and attaching it to a delivery system.

3 posted on 01/12/2005 1:48:59 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn

The Method in Nuke Madness


Understanding nations' reasons for and against such arms can help maintain stability, even with North Korea and Iran in the nuclear club

Why do countries decide to launch military nuclear programs -- or abandon the idea when they have the capability to develop nukes? The answers will be critical as the Europeans try to dissuade Iran from developing nuclear arms, the Six-Party talks try to persuade North Korea to give up the arsenal it's believed to have, and other countries, not wanting to be left behind, mull their own options.

The renewed focus on nuclear weapons in the wake of 9/11 and the Iraq war stems from a remarkable shift in the proliferation pendulum. Until India and Pakistan tested bombs in 1998, the world had seen a significant move toward disarmament. A wide range of countries -- from former Soviet Bloc members such as Ukraine and Kazakhstan, to Argentina, Brazil, Taiwan, and South Africa -- had given up their nuclear programs.

NOT NECESSARILY DISASTROUS.  However, if efforts to stop Iran and North Korea from joining the nuclear club fail, will the three dozen or so countries with strong commercial nuclear programs decide they need to jump on the bandwagon and convert their knowhow to military uses? The answer might be no -- even though some experts fear a much higher level of risk if volatile, confrontational countries develop more bombs.

The world would clearly be better off if Tehran and Pyongyang jettisoned their nuclear ambitions and the other potential wannabes decide they don't wannabe. Iran is believed to be close to having a weapons capability. Experts think North Korea has had enough fissile material for two bombs for a decade and could have reprocessed more plutonium since it kicked out weapons inspectors. It may have as many as six bombs now, though such suspicions haven't been confirmed.

Still, if the number of nuclear-club members rises, it won't necessarily lead to disaster. Ted Galen Carpenter, a foreign-policy expert at the libertarian Cato Institute in Washington, argues that the world has seen an unpredictable, weird regime armed with nukes before -- the Chinese government during the Cultural Revolution under Mao Zedong.

STATURE HUNGRY.  "Mao said it would be possible to fight and win a nuclear war by outlasting us" because the Chinese population was so much larger, Carpenter recalls. Yet Beijing and the U.S. didn't go to war -- no doubt because the prospect of massive nuclear retaliation served as a deterrent.

Why do countries develop the bomb in the first place? The most obvious reason is for defensive purposes -- to deter a potential enemy from even thinking about attacking. But in a collection of essays entitled The Coming Crisis: Nuclear Proliferation, U.S. Interests, and World Order, some of the authors argue that countries have reasons beyond a possible external threat for pouring resources into weapons programs.

Scott D. Sagan, a political-science professor at Stanford University and co-director of the school's Center for International Security & Cooperation, suggests the desire to enhance France's global stature helps explain Paris' development of a weapon, while internal bureaucratic imperatives and domestic political demands prodded India into moving ahead with a bomb.

FORSWEARING NUKES.  Caroline F. Ziemke of the Institute for Defense Analysis emphasizes the importance of a country's "strategic personality," which reflects how a nation perceives and pursues its interests. She cites as an example Iran and its sense of Persian cultural and moral superiority, which prompts Tehran to try acquiring nuclear capability.

Equally important are the reasons countries that could make bombs relatively easily decide not to do so. Libya made that choice so it could become integrated into the international community. Some analysts believe that Seif al-Islam al-Qaddafi, Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi's son, pushed his father in that direction to help improve the economy he eventually might govern.

Egypt abandoned its program because it jeopardized stability in the region, economic growth, and the country's close ties with Washington, according to an essay by former diplomat Robert J. Einhorn included in The Nuclear Tipping Point: Why States Reconsider Their Nuclear Choices.

Taiwan dropped its program under pressure from the U.S. and the International Atomic Energy Agency, according to a paper by Derek J. Mitchell of the Center for Strategic & International Studies in the same volume. And Saudi Arabia forswore its nuclear plans to mollify an outraged Washington after the Reagan Administration discovered the Saudis had bought some intermediate-range missiles from China behind Reagan's back, according to a chapter written by Thomas W. Lippman of the Middle East Institute.

UNDERSTANDING COUNTRIES.  What does all this mean for policy in the future? Giving countries assurances that they can feel secure under a U.S. nuclear umbrella -- that Washington will respond if they are attacked -- will take away an important incentive for countries thinking about obtaining their own nukes. That would require America to maintain a stockpile, though the Bush Administration has pledged to slash its warhead count by 50%. ...

Furthermore, Ziemke recommends avoiding tactics that feed strategic-personality issues. With Iran, she says, the U.S. should stay away from talk of an Islamic threat and argue that nuclear weapons are immoral because they waste limited resources. To play to Tehran's desire for superiority in the Muslim world, the U.S. could try to persuade Iran to take a leadership role in the region in renouncing these weapons.

While it's hard to say which scheme will work, the point is strategies to try to preserve stability exist -- even if Iran joins the nuclear club and North Korea beefs up its presumed nuclear stockpile. What Washington needs to do is understand why countries act as they do. Scholars are trying to lay a foundation for that. It's up to policymakers to put that knowledge to good use.

Crock covers national security and foreign affairs for BusinessWeek from Washington. Follow his views in Affairs of State twice a month, only on BusinessWeek Online
Edited by Patricia O'Connell

4 posted on 01/12/2005 1:49:38 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
The Adventures of Chester

How soon to Syria?

By Chester

What is afoot in Syria?
[An attempt at aggressive pattern-spotting.]

Belmont Club had an interesting post yesterday, examining the status of the counter-insurgency campaign in Iraq. Wretchard used several mainstream sources to raise the following (paraphrased) possibilities:

1. A senior State Dept official, who was present in Algeria for their violence-ridden elections in the mid-1990s, which were successful, says the security situation in Iraq is comparable or better.

2. Insurgent attacks against the US have halved since six weeks ago, though the size and ferocity in some cases has increased.

3. A major terror network has been rolled up in Mosul (previously reported by Chester here.)

4. Diplomacy is focusing on Syria as the new center of gravity of the insurgency.

5. Signs indicate a possible shift in US tactics, to include incursions into Syria.

Last night, we responded to all of this here, noting especially the advantage of a small force, like a “hit squad,” in gaining strategic surprise (or operational surprise, depending on how it is viewed – note: the US seems to always achieve tactical surprise).

Today, the plot thickens: DEBKAfile reports explicitly what Wretchard implied: US action in Syria in imminent. Normally, we take anything from Debka with an entire shaker of salt. But in this case, their coverage seems to be mirroring news reports trickling out of the mainstream press.

Debka reports that the recent diplomatic trips to Syria by US officials have given the following demands to the House of Assad:
1. Start repealing Syria’s 40-years old emergency laws.
2. Free all political prisoners from jail.
3. Abolish media censorship.
4. Initiate democratic reform.
5. Speed up economic development
6. Cut down relations with Iran.
7. Announce publicly that the disputed Shebaa Farms at the base of Mt. Hermon are former Syrian territory. This would cut the ground from under the Lebanese terrorist Hizballah’s claim that the land is Lebanese and must be “liberated” from Israeli “occupation.”
DEBKAfile’s counter-terror sources report that the Iran-sponsored Hizballah’s attack on an Israeli convoy patrolling the disputed Shebaa Farms sector, killing an Israeli officer, on Palestinian election-day, Sunday, January 9, was addressed as much to President George W. Bush as to the new Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas as a foretaste of what it has in store.
8. Hand over to US or Iraqi authorities 55 top officials and military officers of the former Saddam regime, who are confirmed by intelligence to be established in Syria and running the guerrilla war in Iraq out of their homes and offices.
(An address, telephone number and cell phone number were listed beside each name).
But the punchline was in the last demand.
9. Syria had better make sure that none of the Kornet AT-14 anti-tank missiles which it recently purchased in large quantities from East Europe turn up in Iraq. [Chester says: VERY INTERESTING: read this.] US intelligence has recorded their serial numbers to identify their source. DEBKAfile’s military sources add: Because he cannot afford to buy advanced fighter planes and tanks, Assad purchased massive quantities of the “third generation” Kornet AT-14 anti-tank weapons.
Just in case any are found in Iraq, General Casey, commander of US forces in Iraq has already received orders from the commander-in-chief in the White House to pursue military action inside Syria according to his best military judgment.
Number 9 therefore incorporates a tangible threat. The American general has the authority to launch military action against Syria as he sees fit and without delay if Damascus continues to meddle in Iraq’s affairs.
The first thing to note here is that these demands constitute much more than an attempt to gain some cooperation in stopping the Iraqi insurgency. Just the second and third demands alone seem to indicate that the US is seeking major change in Syria – one might even say – gasp! – regime change! But let's not get hasty. More from Debka:
The Syrian ruler protested to Armitage that he is doing everything he can to hold back the flow of guerrilla fighters and weapons into Iraq. As proof, he ordered Syria’s chief of staff General Ali Habib to establish a forward command center on the Syrian-Iraq border to oversee efforts to control border traffic on the spot.

The fact is that General Habib is one of the few Syrian officers which the Americans have trusted. He commanded the Syrian units dispatched to Saudi Arabia in the 1991 Gulf War against Iraq and made friends with the US commanders and officials conducting the war, including vice president Dick Cheney and the then head of joint chiefs of staff, Colin Powell. However, even Habib’s old American buddies do not rule out the possibility that he was posted to the border not to restrain the traffic but to take command of Syrian units posted there and prepare them for the contingency of an American military offensive.

Assad and General Habib are both aware, according to our sources, of the near carte blanche handed down to General Casey to pursue military action against Syria as and when indicated by US military requirements in Iraq.
A wise, but transparent move by Assad isn't it? Sure, let old Dick Cheney think kindly Assad is dispatching Cheney's old Gulf War tea-drinking buddy, Habib, out to the border area to "control border traffic." The fact is that Habib's expertise in the way Americans think and fight would serve Assad well. If any of this is true, Habib's role is at best ambiguous. He could be attempting to control the border as stated, or he could be positioning himself to control the border from US-Iraqi incursions, or he could be setting up a new defense of the border. He could even be readying to assume command of the insurgency if its leadership is neutralized. Fortunately, if this is obvious to us, dear readers, surely it is to the Pentagon.

Debka’s analysis, with Chester’s thoughts:
1. It will not take place before President Bush is sworn in for his second term on January 20 or Iraq’s general election ten days later.
We’re not sure we agree that the trigger for Syrian incursions is the inauguration. If Gen Casey has been given free reign, then he will not take the US inauguration into consideration. And if the incursions are to be relatively small and low-key, what is their relation to the inauguration anyway? The inauguration is not a decision point of any kind. It is merely a media event.

As to the second part of this point, why would the military wait until after the Iraqi election to act in Syria? Does acting in Syria dissuade Iraqis from voting? Most Iraqis have probably decided at this point whether they will vote or not. Seems as though taking the fight to the command and control or logistics nodes of the insurgency might dismantle some pre-election, or election day attacks to boot . . .
2. The Americans will not start out with a large-scale, orderly military offensive, but rather short in-and-out forays; small US and Iraqi special forces units will cross the border and raid bases housing Iraqi guerrillas or buses carrying them to the border. If these brief raids are ineffective, the Americans will upscale the action.
What Debka is trying to say is that seizure or control of key terrain will not be an objective of the raids. Instead, destruction of enemy forces will be paramount. Aside from US and Iraqi special forces, what other units might partake? Certainly some close air support would be helpful – and a large team of task-organized intelligence specialists could be set up safely within Iraq to exploit any captured documents or personnel – possibly near the border town of Q’aim, the largest city along the Iraqi-Syrian border, and a major thoroughfare, as it sits astride both a highway and the Euphrates. If planes or helicopters are too overt, artillery could be fired from within Iraq into Syrian positions – given specific targeting information. There will be more to this than a small ground contingent. Combined arms will play a part.
3. The Allawi government will formally request the United States to consign joint Iraqi-US forces for action against Syrian targets, so placing the US operation under the Baghdad government’s aegis. In other words, Iraq will be at war with Syria without issuing a formal declaration.
Who’s to say that Iraq even considers a formal declaration against Syria? Or Iran for that matter? Those two certainly have their own meddlesome schemes in Iraq and were not kind enough to forewarn with a declaration of war. Besides, a declaration of war, must by necessity be preceded by a great deal of uneventful diplomacy – completely ineffective in this case – Iraq has little to threaten Syria with, except the good graces of the US.
4. It is fully appreciated in Washington, Baghdad and Jerusalem that intense American military warfare against Syria could provoke a Hizballah backlash against Israel. Damascus may well activate the Lebanese Shiite group to open a second front on Israel’s northern border. The Syrian ruler is expected will tolerate a certain level of American low-intensity, low-profile action. But, because of his reluctance to strike back directly at American or Iraqi targets, he will field the Hizballah – and not just for cross-border attacks but to galvanize the terrorist cells it controls and funds in the West Bank and Gaza Strip into a stepped-up offensive against Israeli targets. These Palestinian cells have proliferated over the years, particularly in the Fatah and its branches, encouraged by Yasser Arafat’s cooperative pact with the Hizballah which remains in force after his death.
Just one question: If this is correct, who’s to say that the Israelis will wait for Hizbollah to start things off? One would think they know one way or another what the US is up to and how it will affect them.

If you were Assad, and knew that the US, with minimal force, could completely wallop your own country – think punitive strike or expedition, not even anything akin to what we're attempting in Iraq – how would you react to the 9 demands above if you knew there were American forces operating with impunity within your borders? Perhaps US incursions into Syria are aimed toward the dual goals of defeating the insurgency leadership, and intimidating the Syrian government. Perhaps a kind of "soft" regime change is being sought here . . .

While all of this is turning in your mind, consider that according to the World Tribune, Allawi is supposedly asking for a postponement of the elections.
Iraq's interim government has met U.S. officials and Iraqi politicians regarding a postponement of the Jan. 30 elections.

Iraqi officials said Prime Minister Iyad Alawi and Defense Minister Hazem Shalaan have determined that insurgents would torpedo Sunni participation in the elections, a move that could split the country.

"Alawi sees no point in the elections, but doesn't want to do anything without a consensus that would include the United States," an Iraqi official said. "He has been talking to everybody to ensure that any delay would be limited and agreed by all."


So far, Alawi has proposed a postponement of the elections for about one month. Officials said coalition and Iraqi forces have made a dent in the violence and over the next few weeks could be utilized for an intensive effort against Saddam loyalists and the Tawhid and Jihad group headed by Abu Mussib Al Zarqawi. One option, they said, was the formation of a joint U.S.-Iraqi squad to hunt down and kill insurgency leaders.

Officials said Shi'ite politicians have also been considering a delay in the elections, a proposal urged by European Union and Arab states. They said the United States does not oppose a delay as long as Shi'ite leaders, particularly Ayatollah Ali Sistani and Kurdish politicians, announce their consent and Sunni leaders pledge to participate in rescheduled elections.
Several thoughts here:
Maybe Allawi thinks he will lose the election, and knows that US/Iraqi counterinsurgency action in Syria is imminent. Maybe he knows that security conditions will improve after that action and thinks that if the election is held afterwards, he'll have a better chance of winning.

Read this article about the growth of Iraq's security forces. It doesn't give the numbers of men per battalion, so it is difficult to gauge. but this line is interesting: "By late February, nine additional military battalions were scheduled to become operational, officials said." That certainly makes for a much more secure election . . . nevertheless, The Adventures of Chester continues to predict that elections will be held on schedule. Another thought: if in fact, the elections are postponed, the US will have surrendered the initiative to the terrorists. A Syrian incursion to regain it and put offensive pressure on them might counteract this . . .

Final thought about Syria: a long time ago, when The Adventures of Chester was a wee toddler in the blogosphere, and only about a week old, we thought that the 1000 Arabic-speaking Green Berets that supposedly were deployed in mid-October from the 10th Special Forces Group in Fort Carson, CO, (as reported in the Observer) were not going to be heavily involved in the Battle of Fallujah. From all reports, we were right – only a handful of SOF teams – mainly integrated with Iraqi forces, were in the fight.

Does anyone know where the rest of the thousand went? Was this just a routine rotation? We don't know, but suspect not.

[Here's the original quote from the Observer:
The 10th Special Forces Group has for years been catapulted into action from its base in the Colorado mountains. Now, according to US reports, more than 1,000 of them are heading for the Middle East, amid official reluctance to discuss where they are going or what they will be doing.

Speculation has been mounting, however, that such a large movement of the Green Berets, with their specialist snipers, linguists, civil affairs specialists and military intelligence officers, could only be headed for two places - for Afghanistan and an attempt to capture Osama bin Laden or, more likely, to spearhead the fighting inside Falluja, acting as forward air controllers on the ground for US bombers and strike helicopters, and leading the hunt for al-Zarqawi.]

5 posted on 01/12/2005 1:50:30 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn

Iran Denounces Newsmen Who Claimed Torture

Tuesday January 11, 2005 10:16 PM

AP Photo VAH105


Associated Press Writer

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - Iran's hard-line judiciary on Tuesday denounced journalists who claimed they were tortured into making confessions, saying the newsmen were inciting people against the government.

More than 20 journalists from print, Internet and other media outlets have been detained since September in a crackdown on the pro-reform press.

Several of the journalists told a presidential commission last month they were tortured into confessing to charges such as insulting sacred beliefs and endangering national security after publishing articles critical of conservatives in the government.

President Mohamad Khatami on Saturday ordered an investigation into journalists' allegations, and international rights organizations expressed concern for the journalists' safety.

Judiciary spokesman Jamal Karimirad said the journalists should pursue their claims through the Tehran prosecutor's office. ``Going to unrelated and incompetent bodies that play up things is not correct,'' he said.

``In case their rights have been trampled or they have claims, they should not go to other bodies and incite public opinion inside and outside the country against the judiciary.''

The claims come amid a long-running dispute between conservative Shiite clerics, who control powerful political and legal decision-making bodies here, and reformists demanding greater freedom for Iranians.

Hanif Mazrouei, one of the Web bloggers detained, dismissed Karimirad's comments, saying the judiciary does not listen to prisoner complaints.

``How can we file complaint against a top authority who ordered interrogators to use force to obtain confessions?'' Mazrouei said. ``My interrogator punched me in the head and stomach and kicked me in the back many times to force me confess to having illegal sex and endangered national security through my writings.''

Mazrouei spent 66 days in solitary confinement and was blindfolded most of the time. No official charges were brought against him. He and the others have been freed but are frequently summoned to court.

Tehran prosecutor Saeed Mortazavi is named by detainees as the main authority behind the torture. Mortazavi, previously a judge, is widely seen as the person behind a press crackdown in 2000 that led to the closure of more than 100 pro-democracy publications, as well as the arrests and prosecution of dozens of reformist journalists and political activists.

Human Rights Watch has said it was ``extremely concerned'' about the safety of local journalists who have received death threats from judicial officials since their testimony alleging torture.

6 posted on 01/12/2005 1:50:56 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn
Buzz Machine

The torture of fellow bloggers in Iran

: My fellow bloggers, we must keep the attention and heat on the torture and censorship of our colleagues in Iran.

My fellow journalists, we must defend the human rights of our bloging colleagues there.

The latest story says the Iranian judiciary is condemning the bloggers who said they were being tortured -- and mind you, they said this via the former vice-president of Iran, a blogger himself (whose own blog was blocked after he wrote about this). Says the AP:

Iran's hard-line judiciary on Tuesday denounced journalists who claimed they were tortured into making confessions, saying the newsmen were inciting people against the government.

More than 20 journalists from print, Internet and other media outlets have been detained since September in a crackdown on the pro-reform press.

Several of the journalists told a presidential commission last month they were tortured into confessing to charges such as insulting sacred beliefs and endangering national security after publishing articles critical of conservatives in the government.

"My interrogator punched me in the head and stomach and kicked me in the back many times to force me confess to having illegal sex and endangered national security through my writings," [said Hanif Mazrouei, one of the Web bloggers detained].

Mazrouei spent 66 days in solitary confinement and was blindfolded most of the time. No official charges were brought against him. He and the others have been freed but are frequently summoned to court.

: Also see Brooding Persian, Hoder, Iranian Truth about censorship and blocking of blogs and sites in Iran.

: RELATED: Lady Sun, a well-respected Iranian blogger, has just returned to the 'sphere.

7 posted on 01/12/2005 1:51:22 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn

DoctorZin Note: An important new blog has joined the blogosphere.

The Counterterrorism Blog

The first multi-expert blog dedicated solely to counterterrorism issues, serving as a gateway to the community for policymakers and serious researchers. Designed to provide realtime information about cases and policy developments.

8 posted on 01/12/2005 1:51:45 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn

Taking Exception

Right Course on Iran

By Patrick Clawson
Wednesday, January 12, 2005; Page A21

Susan E. Rice ["We Need a Real Iran Policy," op-ed, Dec. 30] derides as "bizarre" President Bush's statement that "we're relying upon others" to take the leadership role in stopping Iran's nuclear program. She dismisses out of hand the Bush administration's acceptance of European leadership on this issue, claiming that "obviously" the president has not had a "born-again conversion to multilateralism."

In fact, relying on European leadership is the smart course, and the unilateral U.S. initiative that Rice recommends would impede efforts to stop Iran's nuclear program.

Any U.S. offer to engage Iran would only sideline the negotiations between Iran and the European Union. And Europe is better placed to take the lead, given the history of distrust between the United States and Iran. Europe is trusted by both sides.

Rice dismisses Bush's statement that "we don't have much leverage with the Iranians right now," on the grounds that the United States could offer Iran significant incentives. But much of what she suggests the United States offer Iran consists of things that the hard-liners running Tehran do not want. Consider the normalization of relations, which Rice proposes as an incentive. The hard-liners have no desire for a U.S. embassy in Tehran; the onslaught of Iranians seeking visas would be an embarrassment to them. And normalization would provide Washington with a more high-profile platform for which to raise the full range of its concerns about human rights and democracy. Indeed, as Kenneth Pollack, the Clinton administration's National Security Council Iran officer, notes in his new book, "The Persian Puzzle," Iranian officials complain that "any criticism of Iran's internal affairs . . . is disrespectful," which "make[s] it clear that Iran is simply not ready for a meaningful relationship with the United States."

Rice calls for the United States to offer Iran incentives "in exchange for a full and verifiable halt to Iran's nuclear program as well as termination of its support for terrorism and anti-U.S. elements in Iraq and Afghanistan." But no Iranian political leader has expressed the slightest interest in following Libya's example by giving up terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. As the Iranian presidential campaign heats up before next May's elections, the candidates are competing as to who can go farthest in insisting that Iran will keep its current foreign policy stance, while denying that they will make concessions to the United States. The idea of a "grand bargain" with Iran, which Rice advocates, is rejected as "not a realistic or achievable goal" by the longtime advocates of a more active U.S. diplomatic engagement with Iran who signed a recent Council on Foreign Relations report on the subject.

Rice implies that the European Union is either unable or unwilling to promote the kinds of policies the United States wants regarding Iran. In fact, in the latest round of European-Iranian talks last month, the European side raised not only the issues of weapons of mass destruction but also of terrorism, Arab-Israeli peace and human rights. Europe has insisted that progress in dealing with Iran requires progress on all four fronts -- a more comprehensive stance than Rice proposes. Indeed, in June 2003, Europe suspended negotiations with Iran about a trade agreement when there was no progress on the full range of European concerns. And in August 2003 the leaders of Britain, France and Germany took the unprecedented step of bluntly telling Iran that it had to give up something to which Tehran had every right under international law -- its uranium enrichment program -- or it would be hauled in front of the U.N. Security Council, where it could face diplomatic or economic sanctions. ...

In the past, when Iran has been convinced that it faced a united insistence by the major powers on some course of action, it has made major concessions, as shown by its October 2003 suspension of uranium enrichment and the November 2004 Paris accords, which led to the current Iran-Europe negotiations. The Bush administration's focus on great-power consensus about Iran's nuclear program is the best way to make progress; the unilateral initiatives Rice proposes would be at best a diversion. Oddly enough, the sharpest critics of the Bush policy are those who complain about Bush administration unilateralism. The reality of multilateralism is that sometimes others take the lead and we follow.

The writer is deputy director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

9 posted on 01/12/2005 1:52:09 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn; nuconvert; freedom44; Valin; McGavin999; seamole

Some MEK terrorist members returned to Iran

Persian Journal
Jan 11th, 05

The State Department said Monday some members of an Iranian rebel group have voluntarily repatriated to Iran from Iraq. The Mujahedin-e-Khalq terrorist group is struggling to topple the Iranian regime but because of its involvement in bombings and other similar activities in the past the State Department considers it a foreign terrorist outfit.

An unspecified number of MeK activists, who were fighting against the Iranian regime with Saddam Hussein's support, were stranded in Iraq after U.S. troops removed the Iraqi dictator.

They were placed in a camp and were not allowed to leave despite demands by MEK supporters to allow them to participate in activities against Iran.

But Ereli said some of these MeK workers, "found not to have engaged in terrorist activity have (now) been voluntarily repatriated to Iran."

"There are others who do not want to go back to Iran, and third-country repatriation options are being looked at," he added.

The State Department official, however, said the U.S. position on the MeK has not changed. "It's a foreign terrorist organization and we're dealing with them as a foreign terrorist organization."

10 posted on 01/12/2005 1:57:10 AM PST by F14 Pilot (Democracy is a process not a product)
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To: DoctorZIn

Halliburton Unit Wins Contract in Iran


WASHINGTON-A subsidiary of the vice president's previous company, Halliburton, won a contract this week to develop a much sought after oil and gas field in Iran, a country accused by the White House in recent months of covertly developing nuclear weapons.

Halliburton spokeswoman, Wendy Hall confirmed to The New York Sun yesterday that the subsidiary, Halliburton Products & Services Ltd., also known as HPSL, won the contract first announced on Iranian television to develop phases 9 and 10 of the south Pars oil and gas field. The subsidiary of Halliburton, headquartered in Dubai, is currently the target of a grand jury investigation from the Justice Department for possible violations of an executive order barring American companies from substantial investment in Iran's energy sector.

"Halliburton's business is clearly permissible under applicable U.S. laws and regulations. These entities and activities are staffed and managed by non-U.S. personnel. If Congress decides to change the laws and provisions, Halliburton will, of course, comply," Ms. Hall said.

Yesterday the Agence France Presse news agency quoted Pars Oil and Gas Company managing director Akbar Torkan announcing on state television that Halliburton and an Iranian concern, Oriental Kish Co. won the final bid to drill in the oil and gas fields located on an offshore field bordering Qatar. The Pars field is believed by industry analysts to be one of the world's largest reserves of natural gas.

The news wire quoted an anonymous official with Mr. Torkan's company saying the deal was worth $310 million. Ms. Hall in an email however said that she believed this figure was high. She did not provide further details.

Vice President Cheney, who was the chief executive officer of Halliburton between 1995 and 2000, came under considerable fire from the Democrats during the campaign season for his ties to the oil services giant. In the last year government probes have been launched not only looking into HPSL, but also Halliburton business dealings in Nigeria where they are alleged to have bribed government officials.

According to an October 21, 2003 report from Halliburton to the managers of the pension funds for the New York City Police and Fire Departments, the total earnings from Halliburton's business in Iran represent one half of one percent of the company's total revenues. Specifically, HPSL does "$30 and $40 million annually in oilfield service work in Iran." That work consists of "cementing, completions work, down hole tools and well testing, stimulation ervices, PDC drilling bits, coring bits, fluids logging and the provision of drilling fluids."

In the late 1990s, when Mr. Cheney was CEO of Halliburton, he was one of the harshest critics of President Clinton's unilateral sanctions against Iran. At this time, Halliburton became one of the founding members of an industry lobbying group, USA Engage, devoted to ending bilateral sanctions against rogue states. But upon assuming office, Mr. Cheney surprised many of his old colleagues when he failed to recommend the lifting of the 1995 executive order that prohibited American businesses to invest in Iran's oil and gas sector in a task force report on energy policy that he authored.

"With respect to these current reports, the facts have yet to be determined," a spokesman for the State Department, Kurtis Cooper said yesterday. "From a policy perspective however, we have long stated that we do not believe U.S. or foreign firms should be helping Iran develop its oil industry, so long as Iran refuses to set aside its nuclear weapons ambitions and continues with other destabilizing policies."

Under the Iran Libya Sanctions Act, the State Department can deny foreign and domestic companies access to American capital markets for investing over $40 million in Iran's energy sector. While the law has rarely been enforced, another State Department official yesterday told the Sun that Foggy Bottom was "developing more information. We are looking into this."

The Treasury Department, which has jurisdiction over the executive order specifically barring American oil companies from doing business with Iran had no comment yesterday. "Separately incorporated foreign subsidiaries are not included in the definition of US persons in the current US executive order. We are not commenting on the individual cases," a Treasury Department official said.

One of the original sponsors of the Iran Libya Sanctions Act, Rep. Elliot Engel, a Democrat from New York, said the White House should launch a new investigation into these reports. "I am calling on the President and Vice-President to open an investigation into this matter and publicly condemn Halliburton for doing business with a nation that has American, Israeli and other innocent peoples' blood on its hands," he said.

The president of the foundation for the defense of democracies, Clifford May, also criticized the company Vice President Cheney used to head. "It certainly sounds as though Halliburton is violating, if not the letter of the law, at least the spirit of the law," he said. "Most important this regime that is ruling Iran needs to know that there will be severe repercussions if it goes ahead with nuclear weapons, but that there are clear incentives if it forgoes that option." Mr. May is a member of the committee for the present danger which recently drafted a policy paper calling on the Bush administration to open selective negotiations with Iran to allow free and fair elections.

The Halliburton deal was also yesterday a hot topic on many of the Iranian based web logs that are committed to the new movement to hold a popular referendum on their country's constitution. One Iranian American activist, Banafsheh Zand-Bonazzi said the timing of the deal was terrible. "An American company such as Halliburton should know better to continue these investments in Iran at the same moment when the Bush Administration is trying to get European companies doing this kind of business to pressure the regime through threats of divestment," she said. Ms. Zand-Bonazzi is the daughter of Iranian journalist and political prisoner, Siamak Pourzand.

11 posted on 01/12/2005 2:07:18 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn

Businessman charged by feds with aiding Iran nuclear program

Associated Press Writer

January 11, 2005, 7:59 PM EST

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. -- An Iranian-born businessman illegally smuggled equipment to support the Iranian nuclear missile program, federal prosecutors said Tuesday.

Mohammad Farahbakhsh, 43, an Iranian-born U.S. citizen living in Los Angeles, was arraigned in U.S. District Court Tuesday on charges that he sent pressure sensors and other equipment from Stamford to the United Arab Emirates, where they were to be shipped to Iran.

His four-page indictment does not mention the nuclear program, but federal agents recently raided Farahbakhshs homes in Los Angeles and in Cambridge, Iowa, where they discovered computer files showing deliveries to a company involved in Iran's nuclear missile program, prosecutors said.

The company, the Shahid Hemmat Industrial Group, has twice been hit with U.S. sanctions for its role in developing missile technology.

"That was the first time we ever heard about this nuclear program," defense attorney Kristan Peters said after court Tuesday.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Appleton said prosecutors planned to file a new indictment that includes information from the searches.

The sensors Farahbakhsh is accused of shipping through the UAE can be used for both civilian and military projects. Appleton said investigators are still trying to determine the uses for the other material allegedly shipped to Shahid Hemmat.

Peters said Farahbakhsh, who goes by the name Hadi Farah, has no dealings with the Iranian military or the nuclear program. Prosecutors disagreed.

"There's a picture of the defendant standing on an Iranian oil tanker after providing them with a radar system," Appleton said.

Farahbakhsh was charged in Connecticut because he allegedly ordered pressure sensors from Stamford-based Omega Engineering in 2003. Just 20 months ago, Omega was fined $313,000 for illegally shipping equipment to Pakistan. When the company learned the sensors were destined to Iran, officials notified the FBI.

"Omega deserves credit for coming around and being on the right team," U.S. Attorney Kevin O'Connor said Tuesday.

Federal agents worked with the company to catch Farahbakhsh when he reordered equipment in 2004. He was arrested in October in Los Angeles, where he has been held while a plea deal was discussed. Those talks fell apart, attorneys said, and he was transferred to Connecticut.

Farahbakhsh, a dual citizen of Iran and the United States, is charged with two counts of violating federal export laws. He faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted on both counts.

The indictment does not say whether the equipment made it to Iran, but that is not required to charge someone. In the next indictment, Farahbakhsh could face new charges or additional counts of the same charges, Appleton said. He expects it will be filed next month.

Peters said Farahbakhsh was allowed to ship the sensors to the UAE for construction of automobile testing components. He knew those components were ultimately bound for Iran, but she said he cannot be charged because the sensors are such a small piece of the component. She said she will try to have the case dismissed.

Investigators are also looking for a second person who allegedly conspired to ship the sensors. The person, whose name is redacted from the indictment, allegedly does business at the Akeed Trading Company in the UAE. A person answering the company cell phone Tuesday night hung up on a reporter. Nobody at Omega was available to take a call Tuesday night.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Holly Fitzsimmons did not make a decision on bail Tuesday. Prosecutors want him held, saying he will flee to Iran because bail would be a "negligible cost of doing business." Farahbakhsh's wife is in California and his ex-wife, Debbie, and four children are in Iowa, his lawyer said. Her client can be placed on house arrest and a Federal Aviation Administration flight list to ensure he will not flee, Peters said.

12 posted on 01/12/2005 2:15:09 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn

Iran expresses respect for Palestinian election result 2005-01-12 02:15:37

    TEHRAN, Jan. 11 (Xinhuanet) -- Iran on Tuesday voiced its respect for the result of Sunday's Palestinian presidential election and reiterated its support for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, the official IRNA news agency reported. "Iran respects the result of any election held by the Palestinian people," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid-Reza Asefi was quoted as saying.

    "Any approach or strategy to deal with the Palestinian-Israeli conflict should be in conformity with the interests and his toricaland legitimate rights of the Palestinian state," he said. He stressed that ignoring the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories and depriving the Palestinians of their natural rights were the roots for the continuation of the conflicts and sufferings of the Palestinian people.

    "The history of the Palestinians' struggle is a great lesson and a valuable experience, and the Palestinian leaders can manage to vindicate the Palestinians' rights with the people's support and resistance," he said.

    "The Palestinians need sympathy, cooperation and unity to regain their basic rights," he added.

    Chief of the Palestine Liberation Organization Mahmoud Abbas won a landslide victory in the presidential election to succeed late Yasser Arafat.

13 posted on 01/12/2005 2:17:10 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn

About 120,000 Iraqi exiles to vote in Iran

By Najmeh Bozorgmehr and Gareth Smyth
Published: January 12 2005 02:00 | Last updated: January 12 2005 02:00

About 120,000 Iraqi exiles in Iran are entitled to vote in Iraq's elections on January 30, the intergovernmental body organising "out-of- country" voting said yesterday.

Kate Pryce, of the International Organisation for Migration, said there would be 70 polling stations, with 800 observers, in at least six cities, including Tehran, Kermanshah and the holy cities of Mashad and Qom. The geographical spread of Iraqi refugees would make this the biggest operation of the 14 countries where expatriate Iraqis will vote. Unofficial estimates have put the number of potential Iraqi voters abroad at 250,000 in Syria, 234,000 in the US, 180,000 in Jordan and 150,000 in the UK. But with voters registering until January 23, the IOM admits there are no accepted figures for Iraqis in Iran. Gareth Smyth and Najmeh Bozorgmehr, Tehran

14 posted on 01/12/2005 2:18:39 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn

America’s Options Against Iran

by Harold C. Hutchison
January 11, 2005 Discussion Board on this DLS topic
America’s Options Against Iran. Iran’s nuclear program is a matter of concern. The real question, of course, is “what can the United States do about it?”

The options are negotiate, launch aerial attacks to take out the nuclear program, or to enact regime change through one means or another. Negotiation is not exactly an option – Iran has pretty much ruled out any deal that would limit its nuclear weapons program. There is also the fact that the Israelis will not patiently sit by while the Iranians use negotiations to buy time to continue their nuclear weapons development. These two factors leave only the option of stopping the program through air attacks or regime change.

Air attacks have huge problems. Iran has a widely-dispersed nuclear program. There are at least 23 cities (plus uranium mines) in this program. However, targeting does not just involve the nuclear program. Iran also has a huge missile program. There are 40 cities or islands involved with Iran’s missile program, which also would need to be hit – so as to limit or preferably eliminate delivery options for the Iranians. This means at least 63 sites have to be hit in order to guarantee a major disruption to the Iranian nuclear program and its delivery system.

The type of air attack involved would probably be on the order of the first day of the 1991 Gulf War, in which a devastating air attack was launched over a month’s time. Even that devastating attack was not enough to prevent Saddam Hussein from launching missiles against Israel and Saudi Arabia in the 1991 Gulf War. In 2003, special operations forces were able to prevent a large number of launches, but their use is a huge step forward. Iran has some modern planes (particularly the MiG-29 Fulcrum), but the majority of their aircraft are old F-14As, F-4 Phantoms, J-7 Fishbeds, and F-5E Tigers. An air campaign would be able to hit the sites, and degrade the program. Iranian response would unpredictable, though.

The best option to guarantee a halt to Iran’s nuclear weapons program is to overthrow the imams. There are two ways this can be done; sponsoring the domestic opposition (which has significant popular support), or through an invasion. The former option has worked in the past. In the 1980s, the CIA was able to keep the Polish Solidarity movement functioning as an opposition movement despite martial law and opposition by the Polish and Russian secret police. That said, the effort took eight years, and the CIA back then was run by William Casey. Today’s CIA has become more of a bureaucracy, and much more risk-averse. The other problem with such an effort is that the situation in Iran is markedly different in two respects: Poland did not have a lengthy history of sponsoring terrorist attacks, nor was that country trying to develop nuclear weapons.

The other option is an invasion. This is probably the touchiest option. Currently, Iraq involves 17 American  brigades and three division headquarters. Afghanistan involves another division headquarters and three brigades. The 2nd Infantry Division is pretty much committed to defending the Republic of Korea. Two more divisions are carrying out peacekeeping in various parts of the world (the Sinai, Kosovo, and Bosnia being major deployments on that front). This is seven out of 24 divisions available (12 active, 8 National Guard, 3 active Marine, one reserve Marine). The Army is arguably stretched thin, since some divisions will have returned from Iraq or Afghanistan. Until the situation in Iraq stabilizes or additional divisions are formed up, that will remain the case. Iraq has become an insurgency, and those take time (usually five to ten years). Iran would, in all likelihood, develop a similar insurgency. That will further tie down American forces in the region.

The options against Iran are limited, in large part due to the “peace dividend” of the 1990s, in which eight active-duty and four National Guard divisions were disbanded. What is also not mentioned is that the divisions at the end of the Cold War had more troops per division than they do now. The Air Force and Navy suffered similar cuts (the navy lost over 200 ships, including three carrier battle groups, and the Air Force lost a dozen fighter wings and retired the entire force of FB-111A and B-52G bombers). The peace dividend is proving to be very costly three years into the war on terrorism. 

15 posted on 01/12/2005 2:20:26 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn

Blast rocked Iran’s Khorramshahr

Tuesday, January 11, 2005 - ©2004

LONDON, Jan 11 (IranMania) – A heavy blast rocked Khorramshahr, southwestern Iran at 11:30 am local time on Monday, Iran’s Fars News Agency reported.

The blast was reportedly caused by a mine-sweeping operation in the Shalamcheh border city. The city was a scene of clashes during the 8-year Iran-Iraq War.

The mine-sweeping operation began last summer and so far 25 blasts have occurred in the city and its surrounding areas.

The inhabitants of the area are however concerned over the safety of the region. Many children have lost their lives in the years following the end of major battles as they were playing in the areas packed with unactivated mines. Many of the city’s residents have fled their homes seeking shelter in cities such as Khorramshahr which has not yet recovered from the damage of the Iran-Iraq war after almost 17 years.

16 posted on 01/12/2005 2:21:53 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn


Good news: Iran filtering updates

I read these in the Iranian about the filtering situation in Iran:
January 11: "Third note:I'm writing again to update you on the filtering situation. This will most likely be my last update on the story, since everything seems to be back to normal, so to speak. [Petition to unblock Orkut]
Neda Network is back. Rumor has it that they refused to filter Orkut and that's why they had to close down briefly. Pars Online apparently never closed according to some, and was "plumbed" according to others.
People are just figuring out different ways to circumvent the filters and get to Orkut. One of the most effective ways to do it is to use Orkut's IP address instead of the regular URL, which would mean just typing in the address bar in order to reach the site. Of course, proxies could be used for the purpose too. There are a few guides on how to use proxies already on the web.
Most importantly, the rumors about the restriction of blog sites definitely don't seem to be true and only hype. Persianblog, and the rest are all functioning as they always did. The filtering only concerns Orkut. >>> First & second note
-- Anonymous, Tehran"
[January 9]:
"Second note:Hi again,
I'm writing to update you on what I reported earlier about the crackdown. I've checked, and contrary to what the BBC is reporting, it is alive and well and living on the Iranian web shores. [See petition to unblock Orkut]
There are no updates on rumors concerning Pars Online and Neda, but this also might be of interest: Apparently, there has been a case made against [Vice President] Abtahi at the clerics' court ("daadgaah-e rowhaaniat") after he created the commission to investigate allegations of mistreatment made by arrested bloggers. This is also still a rumor, but the difference is that Abtahi himself has claimed having heard about the case.
I'll attach two screenshots [from my computer monitor in Tehran] of the now filtered Orkut as well as the filtered petition site.
First note:Thought you'd want to know that there are rumors of a major Internet crackdown over here. Orkut has definitely been filtered "be dastoore ghovveye ghazayie", is not working anymore (though according to the company itself, it's only for 24 hours), Pars Online has been "plumbed" ("polomb!") this morning according to another rumor, and so on.
Weblogs haven't been filtered (yet?), neither is -- at least not on the ISP I'm using. People can still get on Orkut if they use the secure version of the site (by using https for every page they're trying to retrieve), but apparently, there's a way to filter that as well.
-- Anonymous, Tehran"

17 posted on 01/12/2005 12:03:08 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn

Blogging Iran: A Case Study

Here's a interesting link to someone's thesis at the U
University of Oslo on Iranian blogging in english.

Thanks to Nema of Iranian Truth.

18 posted on 01/12/2005 12:21:19 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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To: DoctorZIn


19 posted on 01/12/2005 3:07:08 PM PST by windchime (Won't it be great watching President Bush spend political capital?)
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To: DoctorZIn
This thread is now closed.

Join Us At Today's Iranian Alert Thread – The Most Underreported Story Of The Year!

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

20 posted on 01/13/2005 12:22:07 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
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