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Missile Sale Dispute
New York Sun
BY BENNY AVNI
UNITED NATIONS - As Jerusalem officials attempted to belittle the dispute with Moscow over a reported sale of 18 modern surface to surface missiles to Syria, Washington's warnings yesterday were much more explicit, even hinting at the prospect of sanctions against Russia.
"There are potential sanctions, under U.S. law, but that would have to be looked at if and when such a sale should occur," State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said, answering questions about the reported Russian sale of missiles to Syria.
The Russian defense minister, Sergei Ivanov, was in the capital yesterday for a series of meetings, and he landed right into the controversy over the sale, which American officials explicitly said were contrary to American law. Syria is of huge concern for Washington, not only because of its threat to Israel, but also because of its reported support for the anti-American insurgency in Iraq.
Several officials in Jerusalem told the New York Sun that while coordinating with Washington they were trying to act behind the scenes to avoid a public confrontation with President Putin, who is considered a highly valued ally for Prime Minister Sharon. The foreign minister, Silvan Shalom, told reporters in Jerusalem that Israel is in close consultations with the Russians, adding "we are working to achieve an understanding" with Moscow.
The government censor, charged with preventing military secrets from appearing in the Israeli-based press, was able to keep the lid on the story, thought several reporters have been aware for several days of a Russian-Syrian missile deal. Haaretz hinted about it last week when it reported on a special meeting of Mr. Sharon's foreign policy team to deal with a new "crisis" in Russian-Israeli relations. Yesterday, once the story appeared in the Russian daily Kommersant, it led the Israeli news all day.
Coincidentally, at the same time that the story hit the airwaves, the Knesset's Foreign and Defense Committee held a previously planned special closed-door meeting on the growing regional missile threat. The head of the committee, Yuval Shteinitz of the Likud party, called on the Israel Defense Force to establish a new unit that will be dedicated to the issue of missiles.
Mr. Shteinitz told the Israeli Web site Y-net that the problem with the Iskander-E missiles was their superior precision over the older Scuds with the same or even longer range that Syria currently possesses. This, he added, would force Israel to fund a very expensive upgrade of its own systems.
Several Israeli publications reported that Israel is most concerned with the SA-18 shoulder-fired missiles which could be used against Israeli fighter jets be transferred by Syria to Hezbollah.
Until now, the most serious missile threat Israel faced came from Iran, which is remodeling North Korean long-range missiles into its own Shahab series. The most advanced, Shahab-3, can reportedly reach the heart of Israel, as well as parts of Europe, including Russia. Israel is working on the Arrow anti-missile system, considered the world leader in its field.
Besides strategic reasons, the stories about revamping Syria's missile batteries were so alarming to Israel because until now the assumption was that Damascus, considered on the verge of bankruptcy, was unable to afford a new arms race. In the last few years there were several similar reports about a Russian sale to Syria, and if this one proves more founded, many would wonder what changed in the financial situation of Damascus.
January 14, 2005 Edition > Section: Foreign
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Amid Talk of Withdrawal, Pentagon Is Taking Steps For Longer Stay in Iraq
BY ELI LAKE - Staff Reporter of the Sun
January 14, 2005
WASHINGTON - As the Bush administration drops hints about withdrawing troops from Iraq as early as this year, the Pentagon is building a permanent military communications system that suggests American soldiers will be in Iraq for the foreseeable future.
The new network, known as Central Iraq Microwave System, will eventually consist of up to 12 communications towers throughout Iraq and fiber-optic cables connecting Camp Victory, located outside of Baghdad, to other coalition bases in the country, according to three sources familiar with the project. The land-based system will replace the tactical communications network the Army and Marines have been using in Iraq. That network relied primarily on satellites and is much easier to dismantle. The contract for the new communications system covering central Iraq, won by Galaxy Scientific Corporation, is worth about $10 million.
The New York Sun learned of the investment in the communications system at a time when Washington is abuzz with speculation that the president may this year bring home many of the 150,000 American soldiers serving in Iraq. Earlier this week on National Public Radio, Secretary of State Powell said that as Iraqi security services assume more responsibility in fighting insurgents, he would expect the number of American soldiers on the ground there to decline. "With the assumption of that greater burden, the burden on our troops should go down, and we should start to see our numbers going in the other direction," he said.
Earlier this month, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld dispatched to Iraq a retired four-star general, Gary Luck, who was a key adviser to General Franks in developing the plan for the invasion, to assess America's options in Iraq. He is due to present his report next week. Press outlets have speculated that General Luck's visit indicates the Pentagon may be considering an exit strategy to coincide with the January 30 elections for Iraq's legislature. The United Iraqi Alliance, the coalition likely to command the most seats in the new Parliament, is comprised of Shiite parties that in the past have called for the end of the American occupation in Iraq. The second plank of their platform says a new government should negotiate a withdrawal date upon assuming power.
The new projects to build the CIMS network do not necessarily mean the number of American troops would not diminish over time. But according to experts as well as some Pentagon officials, the new investments indicate that there will at least be some level of American forces in Iraq for several years to come.
A senior defense policy expert for the American Enterprise Institute, Thomas Donnelly, told the Sun that the kind of investment in the communications system is similar to the systems established during the Cold War in West Germany and more recently in the Balkans, two locations where American soldiers are still serving today. "This is the kind of investment that is reflective of the strategic commitment and intention to continue a military presence in Iraq," Mr. Donnelly said. "This is one of the indicators of an intention to stay, these kinds of communications networks."
The assistant project manager for CIMS, Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Schafer, rejected the notion that the system was a permanent one. In an e-mail message to the Sun he wrote, "CIMS will connect major bases serving U.S. and coalition forces in Central Iraq with much greater reliability. CIMS will be much less costly to maintain, reduce costly satellite costs, and free up tactical signal forces, but does not necessarily signal more permanence."
Other Pentagon officials familiar with the project told the Sun that its scope, which plans to eventually connect American bases in Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and even Afghanistan, indicates a commitment to a long-term presence in the region, including Iraq.
"I believe this terrestrial microwave system going in, whose final target is Afghanistan, together with such recent signals as a new military relationship between the U.S. and the United Arab Emirates, are further indications of the long-term implementation of the Bush vision to bring democracy to the Middle East," a former CIA officer and founder of the CIA's counterterrorism center, Duane Clarridge, said in an interview.
Mr. Clarridge, who has spent four months in Iraq in the last year and is the former chief of Arab operations for the CIA's clandestine service, added, "People should get realistic and think in terms of our presence being in Iraq for a generation or until democratic stability in the region is reached."
The military concept underlying the new military communications network is called commercialization by experts in the field because the microwave towers and cables could also be used for nonmilitary uses like telephone and cell phone lines.
The vice director for the Navy's command, control, communications, and computer systems, Rear Admiral Nancy Brown, gave an interview in November to Signal Magazine in which she said the new network could eventually be turned over to the Iraqi government for commercial use. "Previous commercialization efforts supported only a few thousand troops in a handful of base camps," she told the magazine, the official publication of the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association. "The major and crucial difference between the OIF [Operation Iraqi Freedom] commercialization effort and previous precedents set in Bosnia, Kosovo, and Afghanistan was the sheer magnitude of the undertaking. This new effort will support tens of thousands of troops in multiple sites throughout a region the size of the state of Texas."
Syria-U.S. confrontation ruled out
BEIRUT, Lebanon, Jan. 12 (UPI) -- Syrian Ambassador to Washington Imad Mustafa has ruled out a military confrontation with the United States despite extremely tense political relations.
"I believe that neither the U.S. administration nor the American people are ready, both mentally and practically, to engage in a new military action against Syria after the invasion of Iraq," Mustafa said in an interview with the Saudi daily al-Hayat, monitored in Beirut.
"Our relations with the United States are extremely tense but I don't think that tension will escalate to the point of military confrontation or invasion of Syria," he said.
He rejected U.S. accusations Syria was fueling violence against U.S. forces in Iraq as "ridiculous."
"Syria is equally worried and deeply concerned about mounting violence in Iraq," he said.
150,000 drug addicts in northeast Iran cityThu. 13 Jan 2005
Tehran, Jan. 13 - There are at least 150,000 drug addicts in the city of Mashad (northeast Iran), according to the head of the city's Central Medical Bureau.
"According to recent statistics there are 150,000 drug addicts at present in Mashad", Rajab Hedayatnia said.
He added that men comprised 98 percent of these addicts and the remainder were women.
Hedayatnia admitted that over the past year, only 3,570 drug users had received treatment in specialized clinics, adding that the number of addicts was continuing to grow.
The total number of illegal drug users in Iran is estimated to be more than seven million.
European Parliament resolution censures Iran rights violationsThu. 13 Jan 2005
Strasbourg, Jan. 13 - The European Parliament adopted a resolution by majority vote today condemning human rights violations in Iran in the second such move over the past six months.
The toughly-worded resolution denounced practices such as execution of juveniles and stoning carried out by the Iranian regime.
Parts of the resolution read, "the European Parliament strongly condemns death sentences against and/or the execution of juvenile offenders, pregnant women and mentally handicapped persons.
The EP resolution also expressed deep concern over "the worsening situation with regard to freedom of opinion and expression and freedom of the media, especially the increased persecution for the peaceful expression of political views, including arbitrary arrests and detention without charge or trial".
The European Parliament censured the campaign by the Judiciary against journalists, cyber journalists and webloggers leading to the closure of publications, imprisonment and according to reports widespread torture and forced false confessions.
The resolution also pointed to the fact that Iran is still not a party to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and its Parliament recently rejected draft legislation on gender equality, and called on Iranian authorities to give evidence that they do implement their declared moratorium on stoning and demanded the immediate implementation of the ban on torture.
The resolution also noted with concern the finding by the United Nations Special Rapporteur Ambeyi Ligabo that the Iranian Press and Penal Code do not conform to the permissible restrictions listed in the Article 19(3) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
In an apparent reference to the inclusion of the Iranian opposition group, the Peoples Mojahedin Organisation of Iran (PMOI) in the European terrorist list, the resolution also called for a review by the EPs Committee on Foreign Affairs and on Public Liberties of the way in which the Parliament may become involved in the process of regular updating of the Councils Common Position relative to the application of specific measures to combat terrorism, taking into account developments from 2001 onwards.
It is estimated that the Iranian regime has executed over 120,000 PMOI members since the 1979 Islamic revolution, 30,000 of whom were massacred in Iran's prisons in 1988.
During the parliamentary session, a number of Members of the European Parliament, including Struan Stevenson (UK), André Brie (Germany) and Paulo Casaca (Portugal), addressed the parliament calling the tag against the PMOI unjust and emphasizing the need to remove the PMOI from the EUs terrorist list.
In December, the Iranian opposition leader Maryam Rajavi in a meeting at the European Parliament called on the EP to condemn human rights abuses by the regime and support the Iranian opposition.
Christian Convert, Asylum-Seeker Deported from Australia to Iran
An Iranian man who sought asylum in Australia after converting from Islam to Christianity has been deported to Tehran
Thursday, Jan. 13, 2005 Posted: 2:25:54PM EST
An Iranian man who sought asylum in Australia after converting from Islam to Christianity has been deported to Tehran, a refugee advocacy group said Wednesday. According to Refugee Action Coalition, the manwhose identity was not released due to fears for his safetyhas a "high likelihood" of being killed in Iran, where activists say Christian converts are routinely persecuted and often put to death.
"There are documented cases of people not getting out of Tehran airport after they've landed," said Ian Rintoul, a spokesman for the Refugee Action Coalition. "So we have very serious concerns about this guy."
Rintoul said the 30-year-old asylum-seeker, who arrived in Australia by boat four years ago, was placed on a flight late Tuesday from Sydney to Dubai, from where he would be transported to Iran.
According to the Associated Press, the Department of Immigration declined to confirm if he had been removed from Australia, however a department spokesman said that all asylum seekers' claims were carefully assessed on their merits, and that no asylum seekers would be deported unless the government was satisfied they would not face persecution.
Such decisions "do not rely on sweeping and superficial generalizations that particular countries are either safe or unsafe for own nationals," the spokesman said, as reported by AP.
According to Amnesty International, which campaigns for internationally recognized human rights, persecution of Christian converts was common in Iran, and that many Western countries consider this when assessing asylum requests.
"It's pretty much universally accepted in most countries that converts will face persecution if their conversion is discovered when they return to Iran," said Amnesty International's refugee coordinator in Australia, Graham Thom.
Since 1999, the U.S. Secretary of State has designated Iran as a "Country of Particular Concern" under the International Religious Freedom Act for its particularly severe violations of religious freedom.
According to the U.S. State Departments International Religious Freedom Report, freedom of religion is restricted by the Iranian Government, whose Constitution declares the "official religion of Iran is Islam, and the doctrine followed is that of Ja'fari (Twelver) Shi'ism."
Thursday, January 13, 2005
Puzzled!And the list grows. I can't quite remember now whether some ISPs had always blocked certain sites which I am only now noticing or whether we are having a genuinely expanded list of filtered "news and analysis" sites. You can now count among the blocked sites the War in Context, CommonDream, CounterPunch and to my utter chagrin even the National Review.
This is now way too personal. How would I keep track of what mischief Mr. Ledeen is up to if the authorities here insisted on filtering sites so comprehensively? Is it too late to ask Santa to deliver Ledeen's writings via email?
Such is life I suppose in an authoritarian state. You can never be certain about the goodies future has in store for you. But on the plus side, at least it focuses the mind. And here I was thinking only today while taking a walk which author I would go for if I had to choose only a single one amongst the NR pundits.
Not all that difficult really, I concluded. The only serious thinker in the lot consistently making me think is Mr. Hanson. And I know where to find his writings. Although I must admit, I was a bit concerned after reading his latest piece. Geopolitical wars come and go. But that other more important, perpetual war on imbecility might suffer if Mr. Hanson continues being a Disenchanted American.
Mr. Hanson might find his world reconstituted radically and his perceptions more to his liking if he were to reevaluate the centrality he allows the notions of envy and jealousy in his analyses. He is much too refined a thinker to react in a manner almost identical to any Jerry Springer guest. And I am not being facetious here.
I have been watching the show on Satellite for a few days with French subtitles (funny ha?) The joys of insomnia, I guess. I was struck though by the three most common retorts you'd hear from all the guests: "You don't know me!" "You all want some of this!" You are just jealous!"
But I digress. I am still puzzled by this round of filtering. What are they really after?
So I began to wonder if this unabashed extensive filtering might not be aimed at covering and distracting from the actual upgrades to a new smart filtering program set to dazzle us once it implements successfully. The present program supposedly called HADID is rumored to have been developed with the help of the Norwegians at the cost of tens of millions. Are they fine-tuning it?
I mean, certain ISPs are filtering almost real time. I am not literate about the finer points of filtering. But what strikes me as odd is that latest opinions and some particularly unflattering news items and even certain key word combination searches in the Google are being blocked. Dr. Najmabadi's latest piece in the Iranian.com was filtered almost as soon as it went up. So was an item about torture (Iran) on BBC and a certain Newsday item on torture (Abu Ghuraib) filtered in the morning was accessible in the evening, the same ISP.
This is the land of extreme and dazzling gestures after all. What other country would have helicopter gunships flying over the city only to shower people with flowers? A not too subtle reminder, of course, of all the bullets and missiles which could just as easily rain down on our heads instead!
Surreal, isn't it? Sort of like that ghastly debate on torture in the Anglo American Blogosphere. If our ruling classes were half as smart as they think they are, instead of attempting to filter so many sites, they would have translated some of the more macabre profundities and made them accessible to as many people as possible.
I mean, I am sure quite a few Iranian bloggers and journalists would definitely want to know about the boundaries of acceptable torture.
"Please Judge Mortazavi, let's set some boundaries here first. You can hit me with your shoe, just as long as I don't suffer catastrophic organ failure like that unfortunate Iranian-Canadian Journalist!" Or, "I have asthma and if you were to bring me some mold you might get to see me cough up blood shortly and I'd have hard time breathing. But that you can do and it won't actually be torture since millions of people live with mold all the time no big deal, really."
Now seriously, societies are almost as fragile as human bodies. You can't start with the assumption of radical difference and just blithely arrive at conclusions to your liking. The unimaginative, omnipresent ticking bomb scenario misses the point that strictly speaking most social changes in authoritarian societies are in point of fact ticking bombs. What do you think would happen if there were a revolution in Iran? At the most optimistic level, I would suggest a short civil war with all the anxiety, fear, torment and the bloodshed which that would imply.
And so even starting with considerations of public safety can really lead us to the unpalatable consequence of justifying positions of not only a Mr. Gonzalez, but also a Judge Mortazavi.
I'll try to elaborate and throw in my two cents worth about the torture debates in the next post. But surrounded as we have been with all the reports of forced confessions, death and torment, I haven't been able to avoid thinking about pain.
So I was exploring with some of my smarter adult students recently some aspects of Latin and Greek influences in English as well as how peculiar certain English verbs can be. Think about the transitive verb pain (Elaine Scary) as well as various proposed etymologies for repentance while I put the rest of this together.
P.S. Sorry for the missing links. For the duration of this uncertain phase in and out of the Blogger, for me!
Interview with Bat Ye'orHeres a fascinating and disturbing audio interview (Real and Windows Media formats) with Bat Yeor, author of the forthcoming book Eurabia: The Euro-Arab Axis: Crosstalk Programs.
Defeating the Woman-HatersJanuary 14, 2005
Donna M. Hughes
Twenty-six years ago in Iran, Islamic fundamentalists captured their first state. They turned it into a theocratic dictatorship and used its resources to fund terror abroad and pursue weapons of mass destruction. Since then, violence, expansionism, and terror against civilians have become hallmarks of Islamic fundamentalism. If the Iranian regime obtains nuclear weapons, it will use them to maintain control of Iran, intimidate countries within missile range, and expand their influence abroad.
To defeat the worlds leading state sponsor of terror, one must understand what keeps them it power. Insight into the role of misogyny hatred of women in the tyranny's ideology and its tactics of social control is the key to ending the reign of terror.
The Ideology and State of Islamic Fundamentalism
Islamic fundamentalism in Iran is a political movement conceptualized by Ayatollah Rouhollah Khomeini based on his interpretation of the Koran. Islamic fundamentalism is not just a conservative form of Islam. It is a pathological ideology and totalitarian political system.
The ruling clerics energize their followers by preaching hatred of their chosen enemies: the liberal west, women, moderate and liberal Muslims, and non-Muslim religious groups, particularly Jews. Their deepest prejudice is for women. Islamic fundamentalists loath women. They hate female shapes, which must be hidden under tent like garments. They hate their female voices, so women are banned from singing in public. They hate their female minds, so women are prohibited from holding decision making jobs. And most of all, they hate their female sexuality, which they claim is a corrupting force on earth.
They hate liberal culture and democracy because women are allowed to dress, travel, speak, think, and even sing, freely. They believe that womens freedom and equality are what has corrupted western culture, and that is why they must purge it and its representatives from their land.
The Khomeini-crafted theocracy granted dictatorial rule to the supreme religious leader ‑ velayat-e-faqih thereby creating an unreformable system because all significant powers of the state are held by the supreme religious leader and his appointees in the Council of Guardians. Khomeini crowned himself as the first supreme leader; after his death, the religious reign was passed to the present supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
The clerics version of sharia law imposes a crushing system of gender apartheid on Iranians based on the premise that women are physically, psychologically, intellectually, and morally inferior to men. Men are legally granted all decision-making power within the family, including control of the movement and employment of women and the custody of children. A public dress code or hejab is mandatory and violations result in reprimands, arrests, whippings, imprisonment, and even summary executions have been documented. All public activities are segregated, and women are banned from attending sporting events in which mens legs are uncovered. Women are banned from associating with men who are not their relatives. The age of marriage was lowered to nine years of age for girls. Polygamy was legalized. And stoning to death became a legal form of punishment for sexual misconduct.
The clerics made laws on how to control, punish, torture, and kill women and girls. Misogyny and violence against women were institutionalized.
Ideology in Practice
In Iran, terror begins at home. The clerics put their ideology into practice in the most oppressive and barbaric ways the world has seen in recent times. The first victims were women and girls.
Misogynous views and laws reinforced and empowered mens oldest sexist prejudices and anxieties. Mens frustrations with life, their insecurities, even their sexual feelings are projected onto women. Suppressing women became the solution to men and societys failures. Mens anger is aimed at wives, sisters, and daughters. Women became targets for sadists. Vigilante squads roam the streets and spy on private parties looking for women violating the dress code or talking to male friends. Blaming the victim gave men freedom to commit acts of violence against women and girls.
Women and girls in Iran suffer from physical and psychological effects of the restrictions and harassment. Women and girls have numerous health problems related to their limited physical activity and inadequate, segregated health care system. The suicide rate among girls is among the highest in the world.
Given that mothers and future mothers are the scapegoats of the clerics pathology, there are biological limits to what the clerics can do to them. They cant exterminate them all or put them in gulags as previous dictators have done to political, ethnic, and class enemies. Instead, they perpetually torment and terrorize the female population. For the tens of thousands who have been executed, from teenagers to pregnant mothers to aged grandmothers, their murders are carried out in the most torturous manner. Virgins are raped before execution. Women are stoned to death with rocks that inflict the most pain before death: small stones are not allowed because they dont cause enough damage; large stones are not allowed because they might kill too quickly. A particularly sadistic form of execution that was used against political resistors following the revolution was one shot through the lower abdomen the womb.
The Iranian clerics have shown that sexual exploitation is a complement to sexual repression. Widows from the Iran Iraq war who asked for assistance became victims of clerics sexual exploitation. Temporary marriages which allow a man to marry a woman or girl for only one hour came back into practice to legitimize prostitution. Sex trafficking, slavery, and prostitution are escalating problems in Iran. Government officials are frequently involved in running the sex slavery rings.
There has been no moderation of misogyny since the fundamentalists seized power in Iran in 1979. In the past several months, teenage girls have been executed by hanging or sentenced to flogging and death by stoning for crimes contrary to chastity and giving birth to an illegitimate child. In each case, the girls were victims of multiple forms of sexual exploitation and abuse: incest, rape, prostitution, temporary marriage, sexual abuse in prison, and being sold to a pimp. Officials are frequently corrupt, even complicit in crimes, and arrests, convictions, and punishments are often arbitrary, as well as heinously unjust and cruel.
Stonings and hangings are frequently carried out in public to terrorize the rest of the population. Public executions are one of the ways the clerics maintain social and political control in Iran. It is well known that many of those executed in public are democracy activists or those who have challenged the authority of an official.
Defeat Misogyny to Defeat Terror
The misogyny of Islamic fundamentalism is not ancillary to the Iranian regimes grip on power in Iran or their global sponsorship of terror. Misogyny is at the heart of their ideology and is the framework of their state structure and authority. Undermine their misogyny by empowering women and the Iranian regime will crumble from within.
The following are recommendations to the U.S. government, the United Nations, other democratic countries, particularly those in Europe that regularly talk to Iranian officials, and international non-governmental organizations on how to defeat the Islamic fundamentalism by defeating misogyny.
Place the freedom of women and girls at the top of the agenda for dealing with Iran. Give the analysis and defeat of misogyny equal weight to efforts to contain terror and weapons of mass destruction. Equate the dismantling of misogyny to destroying the structure and power of the theocratic state.
Voice support for women and their freedom and equality in every policy statement on Iran. Speak directly to Iranian women about their plight under Islamic fundamentalism and their hopes for freedom, equality, and democracy. All governmental departments that deal with human rights, womens issues, democracy, terrorism, and foreign policy should have a plan for advancing womens freedom and equality as a strategy to defeat Islamic fundamentalism.
Fund communications technology and broadcasts that focus on womens freedom. Provide funding for programming on women and womens freedom and equality for public and privately owned radio and satellite broadcasts run by pro-democracy organization and news agencies. Support programs developed by Iranian women activists, such as Radio Voice of Women produced by Womens Forum Against Fundamentalism in Iran. Provide funding for Internet servers that can be accessed by women activists from inside Iran.
Hold hearings on Islamic fundamentalism and women in Iran. The U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives should hold hearings on the situation of women and girls under Islamic fundamentalism in Iran. They should invite testimony from survivors of the Iranian regimes prisons and engage strategists on how to undermine misogyny and advance womens freedom and equality. Parliaments and U.N. bodies, particularly the Commission on the Status of Women, should hold meetings that specifically address Islamic fundamentalism and lend their support to freedom and equality to women in Iran.
Grant political asylum to women fleeing misogynist tyranny. Victims of Islamic laws which institutionalize violence against women should be recognized as political refugees and granted asylum. Women have been on the forefront of fighting fundamentalism. Thousands have already died resisting the clerics regime. Women who have risked their lives to oppose fundamentalism should be protected when they are forced to flee. In addition, voice opposition to other countrys deportation of women back to Iran where they face political persecution and possibly execution.
Put Iran on Tier 3 of the 2005 U.S. State Department Trafficking in Persons Report. Iran has a severe and escalating problem of prostitution, slavery, and trafficking of women and girls. Government officials frequently collaborate with traffickers. Worst of all, victims are not provided with assistance; instead they are persecuted and executed.
Engage and support opposition groups committed to womens freedom and equality. The departments of State and Defense, intelligence services, and Executive branch should meet regularly with opposition groups to share information and cooperate on strategies specifically aimed at defeating misogyny and advancing womens freedom and equality. They should morally, politically, and financially support pro-democracy opposition groups, which include many women members, inside and outside Iran.
Visiting delegations should challenge misogyny. Delegations from the United Nations, European countries, and international non-governmental organizations that visit Iran should challenge the Iranian regime on their treatment of women and insist on visiting womens prisons and talking to the inmates.
Support pro-democracy activists calls for an internationally-monitored referendum in Iran. Support the non-violent strategy of holding a nation-wide referendum in which the Iranian people can vote on the system of government they want.
Take the women led resistance groups off the terrorist list. There are two Iranian opposition groups that are led by women dedicated to womens freedom and equality: The Peoples Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI, also known as the Mojahedin-e-Khalq or MEK) and the National Council of Resistance of Iran. The PMOI is a political and formerly armed resistance group that is strongly opposed to Islamic fundamentalism. The Secretary General, Mojgan Parsaie, is a U.S. educated woman, the entire Leadership Council is composed of women, and many of the experienced military commanders are women. The National Council of Resistance (NCRI) is also led by a woman, Maryam Rajavi, with a long record of supporting womens freedom and democracy. The NCRIs parliament-in-exile is composed of more than 50 percent women. In 1996, Maryam Rajavi made this promise to the mullahs: You have done your utmost to humiliate, torture, and slaughter Iranian women, but rest assured that you will receive the blow from the very force you discounted, the very force whom your reactionary mindset cannot allow you to take into consideration.
The PMOI and NCRI are on the U.S. terrorist list as an act of appeasement to the Iranian regime by the Clinton administration who sought to normalize relations with supposed reformers in Iran. Later the PMOI was also added to the European Unions terrorist list, also as an act of appeasement to the Iranian regime. A recent 16 month review of the PMOI by the U.S. found that none of their personnel was linked to acts of terrorism.
The Iranian regime holds the upper hand in the power struggle with the west as long as the U.S. and Europe constrain their opponents. Removing these pro-woman, pro-democracy resistance groups from the terrorist lists and supporting their efforts to overthrow the Iranian regime provides an alternative approach to appeasement and attempts to normalize relations with terrorists or military action.
Encourage allies to adopt the same anti-misogyny policies. Urge democratic allies to confront misogynous practices in all their dialogues with Iranian officials and businessmen.
This new policy approach offers a strategic psychological advantage: It will drive the clerics crazy! They are terrified of any interference with their prison for women as Iran was called by a U.N. representative in his report to the General Assembly. The clerics are so afraid of discussion of womens issues that they have banned any publication of materials that defend womens rights. Promoting womens freedom and equality is the most powerful psychological weapon to use against the clerics because it goes to the root of their pathology, their ideology, and their social and political control of the population in Iran.
A policy of defeating misogyny and supporting freedom and equality for women in Iran will complement other policies aimed at defeating terror and stopping the development of nuclear weapons.
Supporting a policy of freedom for women in Iran will send a powerful message to pro-democracy activists in Iran. It will convey to those struggling to survive that we really understand the fundamentalists, their mindset, and tactics of control. It will empower activists in their efforts to overthrow the Iranian regime.
Women in Iran have been politically active for over a century. Those with access to universities have pursed their educations as an act of political resistance to Islamic fundamentalism. Women are active in the pro-freedom, pro-democracy movement inside Iran. While everyone in Europe and the U.S. is stumped by how to contain the clerics, the solution is right there in Iran just waiting for the opportunity.
Women, Freedom, Democracy and Foreign Policy
Equality for women is on every list of changes needed to modernize and democratize countries in the Middle East. Yet, it is always assumed to be a lagging issue that can or must wait until other more significant changes are made. In fact, there is tremendous transformative power in advancing womens freedom and equality. It challenges all the backward ideologies, practices, and state and social structures that need to evolve in the Middle East.
The calls for more equality for women need to be operationalized into policies, strategies, and programs that address specific barriers to freedom and advancement in each country. Womens freedom should be placed on the table at diplomatic meetings and linked to foreign policy. Engagement and support of advocates for equality for women should receive the highest priority. Assisting women gain freedom and equality can be the solution to major problems facing the world today.
Donna M. Hughes is a Professor and holds the Carlson Endowed Chair in Womens Studies at the University of Rhode Island, www.uri.edu/artsci/wms/hughes ,firstname.lastname@example.org
Jan. 13, 2005 11:37
By JANINE ZACHARIA
In April 2003, shortly after the fall of Baghdad, some Pentagon officials lobbied hard to have the Iraq-based Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization transformed into a US asset and ally.
Mujahedin was on the State Department's terrorist organization list because of the methods it has employed to try to overthrow the regime in Teheran.
"There was an attempt by the Pentagon, that was really waged until August 2003, to take the Mujahedin and turn it into a freedom-fighting force, to launder it, turn it into a conduit for US regime change assistance against Iran," one State Department official recalled.
The State Department sternly opposed the idea, arguing that the US could not selectively side with terrorist groups that it found favorable to work with.
"You were really going to shoot down your credibility in the international community," the official said.
It was left to Condoleezza Rice, President George W. Bush's national security adviser, to mediate. After conferring with the president, Rice announced the US would not alter its position on the MEK.
"She talked to the president and they said, 'a terrorist is a terrorist. We're not going to get in the business of laundering them, or embracing the enemy of my enemy and turning them into vehicles for regime change.'"
US policy toward Iran remained, at least for the moment, containment, Bush and Rice decided. Even though the decision may have disappointed many of the president's political allies, "she took a principled stand and she ended the debate," the official said.
Rice found found herself at the center of such debates, a policy referee who worked to shield the president from interagency squabbling. Shortly after her confirmation hearing as the next US secretary of state on Tuesday, Rice's role as chief mediator of such battles will end.
THERE ARE plenty of questions senators could ask Rice. After all, she was the president's chief adviser on national security and foreign policy affairs during two of the greatest US intelligence debacles in American history - the September 11 terrorist attacks, and the absence of Saddam's alleged weapons of mass destruction.
Richard Clarke, the former White House counter-terrorism chief, who last year released a blistering account of the White House's preoccupation with going to war in Iraq, and its failure to decisively confront al-Qaida during the first nine months of the administration, placed much of the failure on Rice's shoulders.
"Well, prior to 9/11, the Bush administration didn't have an approach to terrorism," Clarke said in an interview last year. "And it was clear that the national security adviser didn't like this kind of issue; she didn't have meetings on this issue. The president didn't have meetings on the issue of terrorism," he said.
BEFORE THE Iraq invasion, Rice said of Saddam Hussein: "We do know that he is actively pursuing a nuclear weapon. We do know that there have been shipments going into Iraq of high-quality aluminum tubes that are only really suited for nuclear weapons programs. We don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud," she said.
Charles Duelfer, the former arms inspector in Iraq, later told Congress that the tubes were probably for a rocket program. And while a former National Security Council staffer told the Post that Rice made "sure that everybody had their say" and that "the processes at the White House played out fairly," much criticism has been leveled at the White House for ignoring opinions that did not jibe with its political outlook, particularly on the question of Saddam Hussein's relationship with al-Qaida.
Senators may quiz Rice about some of this. Members of the September 11 Commission already had a chance to do so after initial resistance from the White House, which tried to bar Rice from testifying. Yet, despite a wearying sense of unease throughout Washington that the democratic experiment in Iraq may fail without a radical shift in approach, Rice has largely weathered it all unscathed.
Like CIA director George Tenet, who received a medal of honor from the president, Rice has sidestepped much of the criticism. Most of it has been directed toward Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and the Pentagon war planners. Instead of a critical look at her role in policy arguments, most expect her Senate confirmation to be painless and swift.
That could be in part precisely because of the perception that Rice has served mostly as policy referee, rather than policy creator. But that is selling her short. In fact, close associates say she has been at the heart of the decision-making process, whether it be the fashioning of a new doctrine of preemption, putting democracy building at the heart of the Bush administration's Middle East policy, or drafting an approach toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that called for supporting Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and dumping the late Yasser Arafat as a negotiating partner.
And that is a role that will become more pronounced once she arrives at the State Department.
"I think she is going to be the designer as well as the implementer," said Dennis Ross, the former US special Middle East envoy who is now counselor and Ziegler distinguished fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
"I don't think she'll be implementing what someone else has done. I think she will be shaping what it is that's going to be done and then trying to carry it out."
THAT WAS something outgoing Secretary of State Colin Powell, often at odds with Rumsfeld or Vice President Dick Cheney, could not always do. Powell built up a group of loyal followers, many of whom will be sad to see him go. But even those most fond of Powell acknowledge that his influence, sometimes diminished in the intra-agency debates, meant they too were also left in the wilderness.
Now, with Rice, one of the president's most trusted confidantes, coming over, many in the State Department believe their influence could increase in the second Bush administration.
"Having a secretary who everyone knows is close to the president is likely to make the State Department feel that it is a more relevant actor," said Ross.
The former NSC staffer agreed. "Secretary Powell is very effective and very much beloved at State. At the same time, Dr. Rice is so close to President Bush. It reminds me a little of the way Secretary (James) Baker was there with the previous President Bush. That kind of closeness can really benefit State and its effectiveness a great deal. Now, when the secretary of state speaks, you'll know that the president is speaking as well."
Robert Zoellick, the US trade representative, whom Bush has nominated to be deputy secretary of state, will join Rice in Middle East diplomacy. And there is wide speculation that David Welch, currently US ambassador to Egypt, will replace William Burns as the assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern Affairs.
Rice has often been the articulator of the administration's policy toward Israel and the Palestinians, especially in closed-door sessions with Israeli interlocutors. Early on, Sharon, after one of his first meetings in 2001 with Rice, famously quipped to Israeli reporters that he had had trouble concentrating during the meeting because "he could not take his eyes off Rice's legs."
But the meetings and communications became increasingly serious, particularly beginning in the spring of 2002 after Israel invaded large swathes of the West Bank after a suicide bombing at a Pessah Seder in Netanya. As Israel constructed its security barrier, or laid the groundwork for the disengagement plan, Rice was often the one who would speak to Sharon's chief of staff Dov Weisglass, to convey administration satisfaction, or displeasure, with Israeli moves.
"She has been the chief interlocutor on (these) issues," said one official with an American Jewish organization. "That's been the most significant thing. I presume that relationship will continue."
RICE IS expected to attend a March parley in London on Palestinian nation-building and then perhaps travel to Israel and the Palestinian areas to meet with leaders and hash out the next steps, post-Arafat.
"She, more than anybody at a senior level of the administration, has been the person who paid the closest attention to this issue," said Ross. "She's obviously part of the channel with Dubi Weisglass. And I think she's someone, I believe, who came to care about the issue and actually believes there's an opening now, especially with Arafat gone."
"She is pro-Israel," said the former NSC staffer. "The United States is very pro-Israel. I also think she's a quite fair-minded and realistic person who sees the situation clearly. Certainly, she and the president and others were seized by what they thought were the failures of the approach taken previously, especially during the Clinton years. That shapes their views about where the United States should be going on this."
The US quickly blessed Sharon's plan for disengagement from the Palestinians. In closed-door sessions, Rice has referred to Sharon as "courageous" and "statesmanlike."
Instead of a step-by-step mediation role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Washington has instead preached Palestinian democracy and reform first. But her belief in the importance of democracies stretches beyond the Palestinian example.
In an August 2002 interview with the National Review, Rice said, "the one thing that has been affirmed for me in the strongest possible terms is the tremendous legitimacy of democracy vis- -vis any other system of governance."
She is a student of the former Soviet Union and the rapid change that came once the Iron Curtain fell. And when it comes to the belief in spreading democracy, whether it be to Iraq, Afghanistan, or the Palestinian areas, Rice and Bush have been in lockstep.
"The president is very clearly motivated by this. And I really didn't see any daylight between him and Dr. Rice on this at all. She seemed completely involved in this," said the NSC staffer.
And no doubt, as secretary of state, her involvement will only deepen.
On the ball
Condoleezza Rice, 50, will become the first black, female US secretary of state, and only the second female secretary of state after Madeleine Albright, once the Senate confirms her appointment this month.
Yet the former Stanford provost's supreme aspiration would not be to head the State Deaprtment, but the National Football League.
"NFL Commissioner would be a dream job for me," Rice told an interviewer last fall. "I love football, and I think the NFL is an exceptionally well-run league. It's also central to the way we think of ourselves as a country."
Rice grew up in segregated Birmingham, Alabama watching football games with her father, a Presbyterian minister. She was a child prodigy, who read just about anything at the age of five, went to college at the age of 15 and became a gifted concert pianist. She originally planned to study music but changed direction and focused her studies on foreign affairs. She was guided by political scientist, Josef Korbel, incidentally Albright's father.
She was discovered by the first president Bush's national security adviser, Brent Scowcroft, in the late 1980s, while she was at Stanford. Scowcroft, now a frequent critic of the Bush administration's foreign policy, brought her to the NSC to direct Soviet affairs. She met the current President Bush for the first time in 1995, and according to news reports, Bush was dazzled by Rice's sports knowledge and her tale of Willie Mays, the baseball hero, being in the same class as Rice's mother in school.
Rice spends time outside of work with the Bush family, both at the Camp David compound in Maryland and the president's home in Texas. They are close friends. Loyal to the president, she is considered an effective messenger for the administration's views.
"She has a really skillful way of delivering messages that can be quite tough," the former NSC staffer said. "She's also the kind of person who makes everyone around her feel like they should sit up straight and mind their manners. She smiles and laughs. But there's a properness about her, a graciousness, a class, that makes people feel like they wouldn't want to, for example, use bad language around her."
That is pretty obvious that the regime in Tehran has been doing lots of dirty deeds since 1979.
Why should this be proven when we know the fact?!
What's Farsi for circle jerk?
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