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Iranian Alert -- DAY 39 -- LIVE THREAD PING LIST
The Iranian Student Movement Up To The Minute Reports ^ | 7.18.2003 | DoctorZin

Posted on 07/18/2003 12:00:58 AM PDT by DoctorZIn

The regime is working hard to keep the news about the protest movment in Iran from being reported.

From jamming satellite broadcasts, to prohibiting news reporters from covering any demonstrations to shutting down all cell phones and even hiring foreign security to control the population, the regime is doing everything in its power to keep the popular movement from expressing its demand for an end of the regime.

These efforts by the regime, while successful in the short term, do not resolve the fundamental reasons why this regime is crumbling from within.

Iran is a country ready for a regime change. If you follow this thread you will witness, I believe, the transformation of a nation. This daily thread provides a central place where those interested in the events in Iran can find the best news and commentary.

Please continue to join us here, post your news stories and comments to this thread.

Thanks for all the help.


TOPICS: Extended News; Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: iran; iranianalert; protests; studentmovement
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To: All

By Afshin Molavi 7.17.2003

WASHINGTON (EurasiaNet-PS) Reformist forces in Iran are making what some observers have described as a last-ditch effort to thwart the country’s increasingly defiant conservative minority, which controls the key levers of power in the Islamic republic. The reformists have appealed to the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Khameneh’i, to embrace democratic reforms over dictatorship "to save the country and repel foreign threats."

In recent years, reformers have suffered a seemingly unending string of political setbacks at the hands of their conservative rivals, who have forcefully resisted all attempts at modernisation by Parliament and President Mohammad Khatami’s government. The defeats have caused much of the reformists’ popular support to evaporate.

The strongly worded appeal to (Ayatollah Ali) Khameneh’i, sent on July 15 and signed by 350 reform-minded intellectuals, is clearly an attempt to blunt the conservatives’ political momentum. The appeal calls for the immediate release of all political prisoners, the revival of banned newspapers, a wide-ranging overhaul of the hard-line judiciary and the reduction of power of un-elected bodies that "contradict the people’s will".

The letter examined "a vital dilemma" facing the Islamic Republic: the choice between democracy and dictatorship. Rather than "succumbing to a despotic interpretation of Islam and the constitution by supporting people who do not have any standing before public opinion", the signatories urge Khameneh’i to support a "democratic interpretation of the constitution".

"It is important that we make our views heard", signatory Ali Reza Alavitabar, a leading reformist intellectual and publisher of several banned newspapers, told "EurasiaNet".

"The Iranian population has become frustrated with the reformist movement because of our inability to ensure the success of our platform of political and social liberalisation. The conservatives have effectively used the system to block us", Alavitabar continued. "They must either stop doing this, or we must make changes to the system to ensure the democratic nature of the Islamic Republic, so they won’t have the power to block popular will so easily".

The Islamic Republic’s political system grants disproportionate power to un-elected bodies and institutions, hampering the country’s fledgling democracy movement. Several of the signatories, including Alavitabar, signed the document at substantial personal risk since they are already under investigation by the judiciary.

"Freedom has costs," Alavitabar said. "Some of us must be willing to pay them."

The reformist appeal targeted three un-elected institutions in particular: The Council of the Guardians (CG), the Expediency Council, and the judiciary. The CG, an un-elected body of six clerics and six lay jurists, has the power to veto all parliamentary legislations. Several times in recent years, the CG has vetoed legislations introduced by the reformist-dominated parliament that would have strengthened Iranian democracy. The Guardians Council also has the power to vet all candidates for public office, and has repeatedly rejected radical reformist candidates, along with secular nationalists, and secular democrats.

Meanwhile, conservative have utilized Iran’s judiciary to jail, harass and intimidate their political opponents. Journalists who have been brought before the press court of Saeed Mortazavi have likened him to "a grand inquisitor" rather than an impartial judge.

The Expediency Council, headed by former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, was created in the late 1980s to mediate disputes between the Guardians Council and parliament. Instead, it has effectively proven itself an ally of the conservative camp, rarely siding with reformists.

The un-elected bodies have effectively created a dual power arrangement in Iran that one pro-democracy student group characterized as "a system of political apartheid." Reformists, including President Khatami, have repeatedly called for a reduction in the power of un-elected bodies, saying they interfere in the political system. Khatami has introduced legislation that would reduce the power of the Guardians Council and strengthen the presidency.

The July 15 letter warned Khameneh'i and the conservatives not to resort to violence and crackdowns against students and reformists who seek change. "Such methods are not only illegal and lack popular, religious, and moral legitimacy, but are also useless and inefficient," the letter said.

In the past month, Iran’s conservatives have stepped up their onslaught against opponents, jailing several leading journalists and detaining up to 4,000 Iranians who took part in nationwide anti-regime protests in June. Iranian officials acknowledged June 16 that interrogators had beaten a journalist to death in late June, following her arrest for photographing a Tehran prison. Conservatives also have taken steps to tighten control over mass media, issuing frequent orders to editors to not cover certain events.

One frustrated newspaper editor told EurasiaNet: "How can I do my job in this kind of environment? I’m always wondering: will this next article land me in jail?" Recently, four editors have been ordered to serve jail time, bringing to 20 the total number of journalists behind bars.

The recent reformist letter comes on the heels of another letter sent to Khamenei a few weeks earlier by reformist parliament members, outlining some of the same themes. In that letter, they noted: "the vast majority of people are disgruntled and hopeless. The majority of elites are either silent or have chosen to emigrate. There is a massive capital flight and foreign forces have totally encircled the country." Couching their argument in national security terms, the letter writers wrote that only a real democracy would ensure the security of the state from foreign threats and internal crises. [For background see the Eurasia Insight archive].

Iran’s reformists are also facing a crisis of their own, observers say. Double-digit inflation and chronic unemployment has caused grumbling about economic mismanagement. The reformists’ inability to follow through on campaign promises has left many of their supporters frustrated. During recent student protests, several chanted slogans urging Khatami to act forcefully or resign.

In addition, Iran’s reformist camp is splitting into two factions – one favoring substantial structural change, the other supporting a more cautious course, according to Alavitabar. He said the "structural change" reformists want a more aggressive strategy to promote reforms. Several of the "structural change" reformists in parliament "might resign within the next few months," a reformist MP, who asked not to be named, told EurasiaNet.

"I’m not sure if it will make a difference in the short-term, but it would show that we cannot accept this anti-democratic assault," the MP said. "Perhaps the benefit would come in the long-term."

Iran’s conservatives, thus far, have shown little willingness to compromise. Their recent victory in Tehran’s municipal elections has bolstered their confidence, analysts say. [For additional information see the Eurasia Insight archives]. In those elections, Tehran residents stayed away from the polls en masse, while the conservatives – who rarely get more than 20 percent of votes – managed to mobilise their base supporters and win the low turn-out election.

Conservatives hope to repeat that same winning formula in parliamentary elections in 2004, analysts add. ENDS REFORMERS VERSUS CONSERVATIVES 18703

Editor’s Note: Mr. Afshin Molavi is a Washington-based journalist who specializes in Iranian and Caucasus affairs.

EurasiaNet carried the above article on 17 July on its website

Some editorial works are by IPS
41 posted on 07/18/2003 11:58:33 AM PDT by DoctorZIn (IranAzad... Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
The Murder of Canadian Journalist Sparks Bitter "Family Fight"!!

July 18, 2003
The Associated Press
Ali Akbar Dareini

TEHRAN, Iran -- The death of an Iranian-Canadian photojournalist in detention is being bitterly debated by Iran's elected reformers who hold hard-liners directly responsible for the death and unelected but powerful conservatives who blame the victim.

Vice President Mohammad Ali Abtahi said earlier this week that Zahra Kazemi, a freelance photographer, died of brain hemorrhage ``resulting from blows inflicted on her.''

Kazemi, 54, a freelance photographer from Quebec, was detained in Tehran on June 23 as she took photos of Tehran's notorious Evin prison during street demonstrations. She was never charged with any crime. Authorities had tried to keep journalists from covering the protests.

Abtahi, a close ally of reformist President Mohammad Khatami, said an investigation was continuing. He stopped short of confirming accusations by Kazemi's family and friends that the photographer was beaten to death by Iranian security agents who detained her as she covered the demonstrations led by students eager for reforms.

Prominent reformist lawmaker Ali Shakourirad another Khatami ally blames the hard-line head of the judiciary, Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi, and Tehran Prosecutor Saeed Mortazavi for the death and the resulting international scandal.

Reformers have long held Shahroudi and Mortazavi responsible for a crackdown on Iranian journalists that started years before Kazemi's death.

As a judge, Mortazavi was behind the closure of more than 90 pro-democracy publications and the imprisonment of dozens of writers and political activists over the past three years. Shahroudi promoted him to the rank of Tehran prosecutor earlier this year.

``The responsibility for the death of Kazemi rests with the Tehran prosecutor and the head of judiciary,'' lawmaker Shakourirad said Friday. ``There is consensus in Iran that Mortazavi is not competent. He tried to conceal the truth and now he has to answer many questions.''

Mortazavi is widely believed to have been behind the initial government announcement, now officially discredited, that Kazemi died of a stroke and to have pushed for quick burial after her death. A committee appointed by the president to investigate the death stepped in Tuesday to prevent the burial, a move followed the next day by the vice president's announcement that she died of a beating.

Kazemi's death and the presidential intervention is a reminder of the 1998 killings of at least four political dissidents, two of them writers and journalists. In that case, it was Khatami's intervention that forced the hard-line Intelligence Ministry to acknowledge its agents were involved, though the ministry said they were rogue operatives.

Hamid Reza Taraqi of the hard-line Islamic Coalition Society, insisted in an interview Friday that Kazemi herself was to blame for her fate.

``Kazemi was illegally taking photos, was detained and a situation developed naturally in the process of interrogation ... She was not tortured. It was due to her own physical condition. She herself should be blamed, not the ruling establishment,'' Taraqi said.

Taraqi accused the president of ``magnifying'' Kazemi's death at the expense of authorities.

``Weakening the judiciary benefits Iran's enemies,'' he said.

In the struggle for power in Iran, hard-liners, who resist any attempt to tamper with the late Ayatollah Khomeini's vision of a country ruled by clerics, lack popular support. Reformers who want democracy and social freedoms lack control of such key centers of power as the judiciary and the security services. Last month's protests were among the largest in years.

Political analyst say Kazemi's death will only worsen Iran's international image.

``It will also encourage the international community to condemn Iran for human rights violations,'' said university professor Davoud Hermidas Bavand. ``The death strengthens the position of countries like U.S. that believe dialogue has failed to encourage Iran to induce changes in its behavior.''
42 posted on 07/18/2003 1:23:20 PM PDT by DoctorZIn (IranAzad... Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: All
US Calls On UN Nuclear Agency To Report On Iran Findings

July 18, 2003
Dow Jones Newswires
Nasdaq News

NEW YORK -- The U.S. State Department said Friday that the head of the U.N.'s nuclear agency should provide a full factual account of what its inspectors had found in Iran and should do so well in advance of the U.N.'s next board meeting in September.

Spokesman Richard Boucher made the comment to reporters following a report from Vienna, citing diplomats, that U.N. inspectors had found enriched uranium in environmental samples from Iran.

According to the transcript of his briefing in Washington, Boucher said "We expect Director General (Mohamed) ElBaradei to provide the International Atomic Energy Board of Governors with a full and factual accounting of what they have found in Iran. We would hope that would come well in advance of the next International Atomic Energy Agency Board of Governors meeting, which is scheduled, I think, Sept, 8 to 12. And we'll work with other members of the board to ensure that the board takes effective and appropriate action."

Asked if the U.S. had been notified about IAEA findings, Boucher replied "It's not for us to describe what we've heard; it's for them to say what they have to say on the subject. But I would say we look forward to hearing the full account of everything that they have uncovered."

Answering a subsequent question, Boucher said "I can say that we've heard a lot. There was a board meeting in June; the IAEA laid out a whole lot of information of what they've been finding. We're also looking for additional information from recent visits, and from the results of the sampling that they've done. And I'm sure they'll be producing that information when it's ready."

Boucher said "We have long said that Iran's clandestine nuclear program represents a serious challenge to regional stability, to the entire international community and to the global nonproliferation regime. And I think if you see the reporting of recent - the revelations of recent months demonstrate the accuracy of those statements that we've made."

In Vienna, The Associated Press reported that ElBaradei referred to the report that enriched uranium had been found as "pure speculation at this stage."

"There's a lot of analysis we need to discuss ... with Iran," ElBaradei told AP. "We are not in any way ready to come up with a conclusion on that issue before we discuss all the results with the Iranian authorities."
43 posted on 07/18/2003 1:24:41 PM PDT by DoctorZIn (IranAzad... Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: All
More news on the jamming....

Cubans questioned about jamming of broadcasts to Iran

The Associated Press
7/18/03 4:54 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The United States has called in Cuban representatives and asked them to investigate whether jamming of broadcasts to Iran originates on or near the island, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said Friday.

He said the meeting took place in Washington on Thursday.

A senior State Department official, who spoke on condition of anonymity said, "We are giving them the chance to find it and close it down."

Boucher said, "We raised the jamming with the government of Cuba. The interference with Loral Skynet commercial satellite transmissions appears to emanate from the vicinity of Cuba and does appear to be intentional."

Iran's Islamic government has accused U.S.-based satellite stations of stoking pro-democracy protests by providing unfiltered information in the country.

While Cuban authorities have long jammed U.S. government broadcasts to their own country just off the coast of Florida, blocking transmissions to a third country in a distant hemisphere would be unprecedented, a U.S. official said earlier this week.

In Ciego de Avila, Cuba, Ricardo Alarcon, president of the Cuban National Assembly, denied the accusations as an anti-Cuban ploy of the United States.

"You never know what they'll come up with to justify aggression against the island," said Alarcon, a top adviser to President Fidel Castro on U.S. affairs. Alarcon's comments were distributed by the Cuban news agency, Prensa Latina.

Kenneth Tomlinson, who oversees the Voice of America, as chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, said Wednesday "this has ominous implications for the future of international satellite broadcasting."

Iran itself can't block the programming because the signals must be jammed over the Atlantic Ocean where the satellites are positioned.

U.S. officials believe Iran contracted with Cuba to do the job this month, on the eve of the four-year anniversary of large-scale student protests, "to block the flow of news in a time when they obviously thought they were going to loose control of their own people," Tomlinson said.

He said an interference signal jamming the satellites has been tracked to a facility near Havana -- a claim based on information provided by the satellite service providers.
44 posted on 07/18/2003 3:26:31 PM PDT by DoctorZIn (IranAzad... Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
"Kenneth Tomlinson, who oversees the Voice of America, as chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, said Wednesday "this has ominous implications for the future of international satellite broadcasting."

Is this why the media has been avoiding this story?
It's a threat to their future livelihood?
Might affect investments?
Stock market values?
45 posted on 07/18/2003 3:41:01 PM PDT by nuconvert
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To: nuconvert
Very good questions.
46 posted on 07/18/2003 4:01:45 PM PDT by dixiechick2000
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To: nuconvert
I agree. I wish we had answers to these questions.
47 posted on 07/18/2003 4:25:24 PM PDT by DoctorZIn (IranAzad... Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: All
State Department: US Expects Full IAEA Accounting on Iran

World News
Jul 18, 2003

The United States says it expects a "full and factual" accounting by the International Atomic Energy Agency of any evidence it may have found in Iran about that country's efforts to produce weapons-grade uranium. The comments follow news reports that samples taken by the IAEA in Iran have yielded traces of highly-enriched uranium.

The Bush administration has long contended that Iran's nominally-peaceful nuclear program is concealing a covert weapons effort.

And it is calling IAEA Director-General Mohammed ElBaradei to provide the United States and other agency board members with an early report on what IAEA inspectors may have discovered on recent visits to Iran.

The appeal followed an account by the Reuters news agency Friday quoting diplomats in Vienna the IAEA headquarters as saying that IAEA environmental samples taken in Iran indicate that country has been enriching uranium without informing the U.N. nuclear watchdog.

Briefing reporters here, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said the United States expects a full report on the test results, and hopefully well in advance of the IAEA's next scheduled board meeting September 12.

He said latest report and other recent revelations about Iran's nuclear activities only underscore concerns about Iran's nuclear program, which, he said, poses a serious challenge to regional stability and global non-proliferation efforts.

"We've always said that the Iranian clandestine nuclear program should be a very serious concern to everyone, that it was much more than a peaceful reactor program," he said. "I think this substantiates those statements that we've made over time, and we would expect everyone to be able to act accordingly."

Questioned about the Reuters report, a spokeswoman for the IAEA said the agency was still in the middle of a complex inspection process in Iran, and is investigating "a number of unresolved issues."

She said more samples would be taken in coming weeks and that the IAEA is not ready to judge the significance of test results. Mr. ElBaradei himself was quoted by the Associated Press as saying the alleged uranium discovery was "pure speculation" at this point.

In February, Iranian authorities allowed Mr. ElBaradei and other IAEA experts to visit a uranium-enrichment facility at Natanz in central Iran that had been identified by an Iranian exile group last year as part of a covert bomb program.

Iran says the Natanz plant is to produce fuel for nuclear power plants and it has no interest in building nuclear weapons, though the Tehran government has resisted tougher inspections of its program.

U.S. officials have accused Iran of seeking nuclear weapons and missiles to deliver them, and that it otherwise makes no sense for the energy-rich country to be spending hundreds of millions of dollars to acquire a full nuclear fuel-cycle.
48 posted on 07/18/2003 4:26:18 PM PDT by DoctorZIn (IranAzad... Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
I don't know if this was posted back in June some time or not. It's the transcript of an interview with Brit Hume and Professor Sobhani of Georgetown University regarding Iranian/American T.V. (hope it's not too long)

June 18: Is President Bush Instigating Protests in Iran?

Thursday, June 19, 2003


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I appreciate those courageous souls that speak out for freedom in Iran (search). They need to know that America stands squarely by their side. And I would urge the Iranian administration to treat them with the utmost of respect.


BRIT HUME, HOST: Statements like that from President Bush have led the Iranian government to claim that the U.S. government is instigating the protest in that country in the past week. But the president's words might not be heard in Iran were it not for U.S.-based satellite TV stations -- there you see one now, that are heard and seen in that country even though they are illegal.

So, who are these broadcasters and what impact are they really having? For answers, we turn to Professor Rob Sobhani of Georgetown University.

Professor, welcome.


HUME: Who are these people and what are they doing and how many are there? And where are they getting their money? What's going on here?

SOBHANI: These are part of the broader Iranian dissident move, they're opponents of the Islamic government of Iran. Most of them fled after the Islamic Revolution in Iran.

HUME: And where do they live?

SOBHANI: They live in Los Angeles. There are close to 500,000 Iranians living in Los Angeles County alone.

HUME: Five hundred thousand?

SOBHANI: Five hundred thousand in Los Angeles County alone, and in all of California, most likely around a million Iranians.

HUME: Well, how does that compare with the Iranians Diaspora around the world?

SOBHANI: It is the largest Iranian Diaspora (search) in the world here in the United States. Here in our area in the Washington area, we have approximately 200,000 Iranians.

HUME: Boy, I had no idea of that. Wow.

SOBHANI: And that's why the message is resonating inside the country because those youths inside the country have relatives here.

HUME: Now, the Iranian government is not hospitable to these broadcasts. They try -- and satellite TV is illegal, isn't it?

SOBHANI: Absolutely.

HUME: So how many people hear them?

SOBHANI: It's courageous. They get it. Approximately 10 to 15 million probably get it on a nightly basis. And then each program is probably taped. The video is then distributed; much like the Ayatollah Khomeini (search) did in '79 for his revolution.

HUME: Well, that was the audiocassettes.

SOBHANI: Audiocassettes, exactly. In this particular case, it's a videocassette and it is distributed. And that's where the students get most of their information and encouragement.

HUME: Now, Michael Ledeen was here the other day from the American Enterprise Institute, and he said that the words of encouragement from the president of the United States really matter, even mildly expressed like this. Is that true?

SOBHANI: Absolutely. If the president of the United States wanted to directly talk to the Iranian people, he could do it through these satellite television stations in Los Angeles. And it would have a huge impact.

HUME: How many of them are there, these stations?

SOBHANI: There are at least seven.

HUME: Really, seven?

SOBHANI: Seven. But of the top, you are looking at may be three to four that really matter, that people inside the country listen to.

HUME: Now, we're seeing some pictures of National Iranian TV, the studios there. It looks pretty...

SOBHANI: Pretty rudimentary.

HUME: It looks pretty...

SOBHANI: But professional. Absolutely.

HUME: Well, yes. But I've seen a lot of worse looking sets than that.

SOBHANI: And that gentleman just there, he is one of the most you know, well liked anchors. He's the Brit Hume of Iranian Satellite TV. Yes.

HUME: And he's -- what's that Iranian Satellite TV, is that the big of the one?

SOBHANI: That's one of the biggest ones. The biggest one is probably N.I.TV, which is run by a former...

HUME: What does that stand for?

SOBHANI: National Iranian Television. But once again...

HUME: Sounds the same.

SOBHANI: It's almost the same name, but the point being, they're probably the biggest. N.I. TV is probably the biggest one.

But the impact that they have is greater, as I said. They can take President Bush's message immediately translate it, get it into Iran and that has enormous impact.

HUME: Now, what kind of budget do these Iranian TV stations in the U.S. operate under?

SOBHANI: Well, unfortunately, they have to rely on their own resources; they have to rely on advertising revenues from you know, local vendors. And that's why Senator Brownback...

HUME: You mean, and that advertising appeals to the Iranian-Americans who watch those stations?

SOBHANI: Absolutely. Absolutely. The local car dealership...

HUME: Because they're not getting any advertising, any business from the people in Iran?

SOBHANI: No. No. There's no -- absolutely not. And they're not getting any advertising from Coca-Cola or Pepsi Cola, by the way either. What they're getting is the local advertising within their own local market.

HUME: So you're talking about car dealers, restaurants?

SOBHANI: Absolutely. Absolutely. And that's why Senator Sam Brownback legislation...

HUME: Now, he's the Republican Senator from Kansas, and he's introduced legislation to do what?

SOBHANI: To provide $50 million to boost the operations of these satellite television stations, because unlike Iraq, Iranian people do listen, do watch and are encouraged by this.

HUME: Well, would that not brand these forever as organs of the U.S. government and perhaps diminish their credibility with the Iranians or not?

SOBHANI: The Iranian government has always used the United States as a whipping tool. And so whether we do it or not, we're always going to be branded as the Great Satan. So, I think that Senator Brownback's legislation is absolutely timely. I think the president can really provide a lot of moral support by supporting Brownback's legislation.

HUME: Now, the $50 million is not a lot of money. I mean it's a lot of money in your standards and mine, but...

SOBHANI: Absolutely.

HUME: ... in the overall terms of the federal budget it is nothing. What is the situation with that bill?

SOBHANI: Well, I think if there were to be some encouragement from the Bush administration it could pass, because I think there is bipartisan sentiment on Capitol Hill, both Democrats and Republicans would support it. I think they're looking for the president and administration for a green light. And once they get that I think it will pass.

HUME: Now, how successful can the Iranian government be in jamming these broadcasts? I mean knowing first of all, they're illegal to start with, so it's not easy to get them, but what about jamming?

SOBHANI: Exactly. Well, obviously like the Soviet Union tried to do it, just like other dictatorships try tried to do it, they will try to jam as well. But these people are very entrepreneurial, they're very shrewd, they're very smart, I should say. And they find ways of getting that screen into the homes in Iran. And that's why the $50 million will also help a lot because it will prevent the jamming by the government.

HUME: You mean they can buy more sophisticated equipment?

SOBHANI: Equipment. Absolutely.

HUME: Now, it was mentioned in Jim Angle's report that the United States has been down this road of encouraging insurrection before. And then at times in the past, it's not meant that it was going to be there when things really happened and the crunch came and crackdown came. Is there a danger of that here in your judgment?

SOBHANI: I don't think so because what we're seeing in Iran is homegrown. What we're seeing in Iran is basically...

HUME: Well, it was in homegrown in Hungary, too and it was certainly homegrown in Iraq after the First Gulf War, too.

SOBHANI: Absolutely. But the difference is this; the people inside Iran do look to the United States for moral support. All they're asking for is moral clarity right now. Make sure we don't let them down. However, not military...

HUME: Well, let them down may mean not be there militarily, wouldn't it?

SOBHANI: Exactly. No. We don't need to intervene militarily. All they want is for example, just like we talked earlier, support Brownback's legislation. Make sure Europeans don't throw a lifeline to the Islamic government. Make sure that the president does talk to the Iranian people. Outline a vision for how he sees U.S.-Iran relations. That would go a long, long way within Iran.

The missing element in all of this is an opposition figure. Once an opposition figure emerges, then I think we will see an acceleration.

HUME: All right. Rob Sobhani, great to have you. Thanks for coming.

SOBHANI: Thanks a lot. Thank you.

49 posted on 07/18/2003 10:03:16 PM PDT by nuconvert
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To: AdmSmith; DoctorZIn; RaceBannon; Eala; Valin; seamole; rontorr
16 July 2003

U.S. Expresses Condolences for Death of Iranian-Canadian Journalist in Iran
Calls on Iran to protect human rights of demonstrators, journalists

Washington -- In the wake of press reports indicating that more journalists have been arrested in Iran, the State Department, on June 15, said the United States "views with concern the continuing arrests and detentions of student activists and journalists for simply peacefully demonstrating, voicing political views, and reporting information."

The State Department called on the Iranian regime to protect the human rights of activists and journalists, and to release them.

A State Department spokesman also reacted to the death of an Iranian-Canadian journalist who died in custody after being arrested in Iran.

"We express our condolences for the death of the Iranian-Canadian journalist, Zahraa Kazemi, and join in the demand for a full investigation into the circumstances of her death," the spokesman said.

(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site:
50 posted on 07/18/2003 10:04:44 PM PDT by F14 Pilot
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To: nuconvert; DoctorZIn; AdmSmith; RaceBannon; Eala; piasa; Texas_Dawg; norton
Iran: An independent inquiry must be opened into the death of Zahra Kazemi

Press release, 15/07/2003

Amnesty International added its voice today to the calls made by Iran's Islamic Human Rights Commission and other international human rights organizations in calling for an independent and thorough investigation into the death in custody of 54-year-old photojournalist Zahra Kazemi on 12 July 2003.
"Iran's obligations under international human rights treaties require the establishment of an independent and impartial judicial inquiry to determine the causes of Zahra Kazemi's death," Amnesty International said.

"Such investigation must also determine whether Zahra Kazemi was ill-treated or tortured in custody as some reports have indicated," the organization added.

Zahra Kazemi, who had dual Canadian and Iranian nationality, died at the Baghiyetollah Hospital in Tehran while under guard. She was arrested for taking photographs of people protesting against the detention of family members outside the Evin prison in northern Tehran. Amnesty International has documented for years cases of ill-treatment and torture in detention.

The organization welcomed reports that President Mohammad Khatami ordered the Ministers of the Interior, Justice, Intelligence and Culture and Islamic Guidance to investigate Zahra Kazemi's death in custody.

"The authorities must enact concrete measures aimed at ending all forms of ill-treatment in Iran, such as acceding to the UN Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment," the organization said.

"Only a prompt, thorough, independent and impartial investigation will serve the interests of justice."
51 posted on 07/18/2003 10:08:16 PM PDT by F14 Pilot
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To: F14 Pilot
-- In the wake of press reports indicating that more journalists have been arrested in Iran,..."
What press reports? (Probably from us here)
This was on the State Dept site?
The media doesn't think this is newsworthy either? I guess not since they covered up the original story.

unethical media >redundant
52 posted on 07/18/2003 10:17:41 PM PDT by nuconvert
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To: F14 Pilot
Thank you for the posts. I'm glad to see the Amnesty International will be investigating Zahra's "execution". That may be a harsh word, but that's the only way I know to describe it.

What do you make of this?

BTW, Fox News had an excellent report on the Cuban jamming of the satellite signals. I hope we do something about that.
53 posted on 07/18/2003 10:55:57 PM PDT by dixiechick2000
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To: nuconvert; DoctorZIn; RaceBannon; Eala; rontorr; yonif; Valin; piasa; Texas_Dawg; BeforeISleep; ...

PARIS 17 July (IPS) It is now becoming clear that the man who caused the death of Ms. Zahra Kazemi, the Iranian-born, Canadian photojournalist is Mr. Sa’id Mortazavi, promoted recently by Ayatollah Ali Khameneh’i, the leader of the Islamic Republic as the Prosecutor of Tehran and the Islamic Revolution tribunal.

Ms. Kazemi, 54, was detained on 23 June in front of the Evin prison and died in hospital on 11 July of what Iranian officials admitted Wednesday as brain hemorrhage due to "blows" received on her head during interrogations at the Intelligence Ministry.

At first, Iranian authorities said the photographer died from a brain stroke, but on Wednesday, and under mounting pressures from the international human rights and press organizations, Hojjatoleslam Mohammad Ali Abtahi, President Mohammad Khatami’s deputy for legal and parliamentary affairs confirmed for the first time officially that Ms. Kazemi died of brain bleeding "due to blows on her head".

Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham said during a conference call with media on Wednesday that he had been told by his Iranian counterpart that Ms. Kazemi died of a fractured skull; although how she got the fatal injury had not been determined.

"The incident has no outcome other than tarnishing our international image at a time when we are in deep crisis at home and abroad", Abtahi told journalists.

Informed sources, speaking on conditions of anonymity, revealed Thursday that the arrest of Ms. Kazemi was ordered by Mr. Mortazavi who personally interrogated the photojournalist and beat her "frequently" in order "to force her to reveal the country that had sent her to Iran for espionage".

"Mortazavi personally beat on Kazemi’s head with his shoe", the French daily "Liberation" reported on Thursday, quoting "well-informed Iranian sources.

"The men who arrested Ms. Kazemi were plainclothes thugs belonging to Mr. Mortazavi, who interrogated her at his own office. During the 3-4 days she was there, the photographer was under constant tortures and savagely beaten up by Mr. Mortazavi and other interrogators from the Judiciary", confirmed Dr. Karim Lahji, an outstanding Iranian jurist and lawyer based in Paris.

"She was handed over to the Information Ministry after she suffered injuries. There, people, seeing her bad physical state, send her to the medical department, where doctors immediately decided to transfer her to the Baqiatollah hospital, where she went into coma before dying", added Lahiji, who now acts as defence for Ms. Kazemi’s 26 years-old Stephen Hachemi.

Both the Iranian Islamic Human Rights Committee and the Majles’ Foreign Affairs and Security Committee have also confirmed that Ms. Kazemi was under the custody of the leader-controlled Judiciary and Tehran’s prosecutor, interrogated and tortured before being handed over to the Information Ministry.

Informed sources told Iran Press Service that at least four Iranian journalists, namely Reza Alijani, Hoda Saber, Taqi Rahmani and Amir Teyrani, all close to the Nationalist-religious movements, are in Mortazavi’s custody and tortured.

Rejecting demands by the Canadian government, Stephen Hachemi and Iranian and international human rights and press groups for the transfer of Ms. Katemi’s body to Montreal for autopsy, Iranian government’s official spokesman Abdollah Ramezanzadeh said on Wednesday that once identified and arrested, the would be culprits would be handed over to the Judiciary, meaning to Judge Mortazavi, the very man that murdered the journalist.

Tehran, which insists adamantly that Ms. Kazemi is an Iranian citizen and never mention her Canadian citizenship, have so far rejected the demands, but promised Ottawa that they would do "all they can" to have the culprits punished according to Iranian laws.

"If proved that she was spying, then there would be no culprits", one Iranian journalist noted, reminding that the Iranian Judiciary would eventually take up that accusation to absolve itself from charges of manslaughter.

Iranian conservatives-controlled newspapers have criticised Mr. Khatami for naming an investigation committee in the case of Ms. Kazemi’s death and imply indirectly that she might have been a spy, since she had been arrested while taking pictures near the notorious Evin prison, a restricted area.

"If crimes have been committed, we are demanding of the Iranian government to punish those who committed the crime and we will push that case", Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien said after meeting Chilean President Ricardo Lagos.

"Because if it is the case, it's completely unacceptable that a journalist goes there to do professional work and is threatened that way".

In response to a statement by Chretien earlier this week that Canada-Iran relations would be affected if Iran does not transfer Kazemi's body to Canada, Ramezanzadeh said Chretien has not considered international law.

"Kazemi is an Iranian and therefore subject to national law", Ramezanzadeh observed.

But jurists say since Kazemi is also a Canadian citizen, therefore Canada has the right to ask for the body to be returned to her homeland.

In faxes to both the lamed and unpopular Iranian leader and the powerless president, the Rome-based Association of Iranian Journalists Abroad (AIJA) said it holds Mr. Khameneh'i as the "only person responsible for the murder of Ms. Kazemi and asked both men to say:

Who ordered the arrest of Ms. Kazemi?

Who were those who arrested her?

Why the authorities did not report on her arrest?

Where she had been held and who were the interrogators?

Why she was hospitalized in a hospital belonging to the Revolutionary Guards?

Other Iranian experts, speaking to the reformers-controlled "Emrooz" (Today) internet newspaper, asked: Was the photojournalist beaten up and if the answer if positive, why?

Was she also beaten while in prison?

Where was she held before being transferred to hospital?

Why the authorities first claimed Ms. Kazemi died on brain stroke?

Why it was Mortazavi who wrote the news about the death and passed it to Mr. (Mohammad Hoseyn) Khoshvaqt to be published in the name of the Guidance Ministry?

What are the connections between the death of Ms. Kazemi with Mr. Mortazavi?

If the photographer was Iranian, why it was the General Director (of the Guidance Ministry) in charge of Foreign Press that announced the death?

Which organs want the body be buried the soonest possible?

Why it was announced that Ms. Kazemi was a spy? Were the accusations examined? And by which organs?
54 posted on 07/18/2003 10:57:49 PM PDT by F14 Pilot
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To: dixiechick2000
There is no doubt why they are trying to make such weapons.
If they reach one or two bombs, they can easily rule Iran and they won't be afraid of any foreign intervention.
They will be a bigger threat to Israel and their own people.
These mullahs do not recognize any right or law.
The only way to get rid of them is to topple them as soon as possible.
55 posted on 07/18/2003 11:03:10 PM PDT by F14 Pilot
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To: nuconvert; DoctorZIn; RaceBannon; Eala; rontorr; yonif; Valin; piasa; Texas_Dawg; BeforeISleep; ...
U.S. Questions Cuba About Jamming TV Signals to Iran.

WASHINGTON — The United States has confronted Cuban representatives in Washington about whether Cuba has been blocking U.S. satellite signals used to broadcast television to Iran.

We have indeed raised the jamming with the government of Cuba. I think I would say the interference with Loral Skynet's (search) commercial satellite transmissions appears to be emanating from the vicinity of Cuba. It does appear to be intentional. So, yesterday, we called in Cuban government representatives in Washington, and we formally requested the Cuban government to look into the matter," State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said Friday.

National Iranian Television (search), based in Los Angeles, and the U.S. government's Voice of America (search) send signals from various points in the United States to Telstar-12, located above the North Atlantic Ocean. The signal is then redistributed and sent down to Iran.

But officials say a jamming signal that basically scrambles the broadcast before it reaches television sets has been traced to an area near Havana, Cuba. The site identified by U.S. satellite photos is a facility in Cuba known as Lourdes, built back in 1962 with the help of the Soviets.

NITV has been broadcasting uncensored news, talk and entertainment into Iran since 2000, and Iran's Islamic government has accused the television company of stoking student protest movements against the government. U.S. officials believe Iran contracted Cuba to do the job. The two are close allies, with Cuba getting most of its oil from Iran.

The blocking comes on the eve of a four-year anniversary of large student protests and follows a recent surge of protests by students who want the government overthrown. Iranian President Mohammad Khatami has offered to resign to appease the protesters.

Kenneth Tomlinson, chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees Voice of America, said that if officials in Tehran had asked Havana to help, the goal would have been "to block the flow of news in a time when they obviously thought they were going to loose control of their own people."

The Iranian government denies that it has anything to do with any jamming of signals. Iran would be unable to block the signal on its own because it must be jammed from a position in the Atlantic Ocean, under the satellites.

Cuban authorities have long scrambled signals by the U.S. government toward its country, but no country has ever blocked transmissions between two other countries, particularly one in another hemisphere, a U.S. official said earlier this week.

"This is truly unprecedented for a country in the Western Hemisphere to interfere with broadcasting going to a country in the Middle East," said Zia Atabay, president of NITV.

Atabay acknowledges that he and other independent Iranian programmers may pose a threat to Iran's religious leadership by providing uncensored information, but he doesn't apologize.

"Now, when they are shutting my voice and my channel out, it means they are cutting all the voices in Iran," he said.

Tomlinson said the implications for the future of international satellite broadcasting are "ominous."

The Cuban Interests Section (search) in Washington did not respond to requests for comment, but a senior State Department official, who spoke on condition of anonymity said, "We are giving them the chance to find it and close it down."

In Cuba, Ricardo Alarcon, president of the Cuban National Assembly, told the news agency Prensa Latina that the accusations were part of an anti-Cuban ploy by the United States.

"You never know what they'll come up with to justify aggression against the island," said Alarcon, a top adviser to President Fidel Castro on U.S. affairs,2933,92348,00.html

56 posted on 07/18/2003 11:12:36 PM PDT by F14 Pilot
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To: F14 Pilot
"If they reach one or two bombs, they can easily rule Iran and they won't be afraid of any foreign intervention.
They will be a bigger threat to Israel and their own people."

That may be what they sre striving be as big, or bigger, threat to Israel, and us, than N. Korea.

"These mullahs do not recognize any right or law"

That is becoming more obvious by the day.

57 posted on 07/18/2003 11:47:24 PM PDT by dixiechick2000
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To: dixiechick2000; nuconvert; DoctorZIn; RaceBannon; Eala; rontorr; yonif; Valin; piasa; Texas_Dawg; ..

Millionaire Mullahs
Paul Klebnikov, 07.21.03

A looming nuclear threat to the rest of the world, Iran is robbing its own people of prosperity. But the men at the top are getting extremely rich.
It's rumble time in Tehran. At dozens of intersections in the capital of Iran thousands of students are protesting on a recent Friday around midnight, as they do nearly every night, chanting pro-democracy slogans and lighting bonfires on street corners. Residents of the surrounding middle-class neighborhoods converge in their cars, honking their horns in raucous support.

Suddenly there's thunder in the air. A gang of 30 motorcyclists, brandishing iron bars and clubs, roars through the stalled traffic. They glare at the drivers, yell threats, thump cars. Burly and bearded, the bikers yank two men from their auto and pummel them. Most protesters scatter. Uniformed policemen watch impassively as the thugs beat the last stragglers.

These bikers are part of the Hezbollah militia, recruited mostly from the countryside. Iran's ruling mullahs roll them out whenever they need to intimidate their opponents. The Islamic Republic is a strange dictatorship. As it moves to repress growing opposition to clerical rule, the regime relies not on soldiers or uniformed police (many of whom sympathize with the protesters) but on the bullies of Hezbollah and the equally thuggish Revolutionary Guards. The powers that be claim to derive legitimacy from Allah but remain on top with gangsterlike methods of intimidation, violence and murder.

Who controls today's Iran? Certainly not Mohammad Khatami, the twice-elected moderate president, or the reformist parliament. Not even the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei--a stridently anti-American but unremarkable cleric plucked from the religious ranks 14 years ago to fill the shoes of his giant predecessor, Ayatollah Khomeini--is fully in control. The real power is a handful of clerics and their associates who call the shots behind the curtain and have gotten very rich in the process.

The economy bears more than a little resemblance to the crony capitalism that sprouted from the wreck of the Soviet Union. The 1979 revolution expropriated the assets of foreign investors and the nation's wealthiest families; oil had long been nationalized, but the mullahs seized virtually everything else of value--banks, hotels, car and chemical companies, makers of drugs and consumer goods. What distinguishes Iran is that many of these assets were given to Islamic charitable foundations, controlled by the clerics. According to businessmen and former foundation executives, the charities now serve as slush funds for the mullahs and their supporters.

Iran has other lethal secrets besides its nuclear program, now the subject of prying international eyes. Dozens of interviews with businessmen, merchants, economists and former ministers and other top government officials reveal a picture of a dictatorship run by a shadow government that--the U.S. State Department suspects--finances terrorist groups abroad through a shadow foreign policy. Its economy is dominated by shadow business empires and its power is protected by a shadow army of enforcers.

Ironically, the man most adept at manipulating this hidden power structure is one of Iran's best-known characters--Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, who has been named an ayatollah, or religious leader. He was the speaker of parliament and Khomeini's right-hand man in the 1980s, president of Iran from 1989 to 1997 and is now chairman of the powerful Expediency Council, which resolves disputes between the clerical establishment and parliament. Rafsanjani has more or less run the Islamic Republic for the past 24 years.

He played it smart, aligning himself in the 1960s with factions led by Ayatollah Khomeini, then becoming the go-to guy after the revolution. A hard-liner ideologically, Rafsanjani nonetheless has a pragmatic streak. He convinced Khomeini to end the Iran-Iraq war and broke Iran's international isolation by establishing trade relations with the Soviet Union, China, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. In the 1990s he restarted Iran's nuclear program.

He is also the father of Iran's "privatization" program. During his presidency the stock market was revived, some government companies were sold to insiders, foreign trade was liberalized and the oil sector was opened up to private companies. Most of the good properties and contracts, say dissident members of Iran's Chamber of Commerce, ended up in the hands of mullahs, their associates and, not least, Rafsanjani's family, who rose from modest origins as pistachio farmers. "They were not rich people, so they worked hard and always tried to help their relatives get ahead," remembers Reza, a historian who declines to use his last name and who studied with one of Rafsanjani's brothers at Tehran University in the early 1970s. "When they were in university, two brothers earned money on the side tutoring theological students and preparing their exam papers."

The 1979 revolution transformed the Rafsanjani clan into commercial pashas. One brother headed the country's largest copper mine; another took control of the state-owned TV network; a brother-in-law became governor of Kerman province, while a cousin runs an outfit that dominates Iran's $400 million pistachio export business; a nephew and one of Rafsanjani's sons took key positions in the Ministry of Oil; another son heads the Tehran Metro construction project (an estimated $700 million spent so far). Today, operating through various foundations and front companies, the family is also believed to control one of Iran's biggest oil engineering companies, a plant assembling Daewoo automobiles, and Iran's best private airline (though the Rafsanjanis insist they do not own these assets).

None of this sits well with the populace, whose per capita income is $1,800 a year. The gossip on the street, going well beyond the observable facts, has the Rafsanjanis stashing billions of dollars in bank accounts in Switzerland and Luxembourg; controlling huge swaths of waterfront in Iran's free economic zones on the Persian Gulf; and owning whole vacation resorts on the idyllic beaches of Dubai, Goa and Thailand.

But not much of the criticism makes its way into print. One journalist who dared to investigate Rafsanjani's secret dealings and his alleged role in extrajudicial killings of dissidents is now languishing in jail. He's lucky. Iranian politics can be deadly. Five years ago Tehran was rocked by murders of journalists and anticorruption activists; some were beheaded, others mutilated.

Some of the family's wealth is out there for all to see. Rafsanjani's youngest son, Yaser, owns a 30-acre horse farm in the superfashionable Lavasan neighborhood of north Tehran, where land goes for over $4 million an acre. Just where did Yaser get his money? A Belgian-educated businessman, he runs a large export-import firm that includes baby food, bottled water and industrial machinery.

Until a few years ago the simplest way to get rich quick was through foreign-currency trades. Easy, if you could get greenbacks at the subsidized import rate of 1,750 rials to the dollar and resell them at the market rate of 8,000 to the dollar. You needed only the right connections for an import license. "I estimate that, over a period of ten years, Iran lost $3 billion to $5 billion annually from this kind of exchange-rate fraud," says Saeed Laylaz, an economist, now with Iran's biggest carmaker. "And the lion's share of that went to about 50 families."

One of the families benefiting from the foreign trade system was the Asgaroladis, an old Jewish clan of bazaar traders, who converted to Islam several generations ago. Asadollah Asgaroladi exports pistachios, cumin, dried fruit, shrimp and caviar, and imports sugar and home appliances; his fortune is estimated by Iranian bankers to be some $400 million. Asgaroladi had a little help from his older brother, Habibollah, who, as minister of commerce in the 1980s, was in charge of distributing lucrative foreign-trade licenses. (He was also a counterparty to commodities trader and then-fugitive Marc Rich, who helped Iran bypass U.S.-backed sanctions.)

The other side of Iran's economy belongs to the Islamic foundations, which account for 10% to 20% of the nation's GDP--$115 billion last year. Known as bonyads, the best-known of these outfits were established from seized property and enterprises by order of Ayatollah Khomeini in the first weeks of his regime. Their mission was to redistribute to the impoverished masses the "illegitimate" wealth accumulated before the revolution by "apostates" and "blood-sucking capitalists." And, for a decade or so, the foundations shelled out money to build low-income housing and health clinics. But since Khomeini's death in 1989 they have increasingly forsaken their social welfare functions for straightforward commercial activities.

Until recently they were exempt from taxes, import duties and most government regulation. They had access to subsidized foreign currency and low-interest loans from state-owned banks. And they were not accountable to the Central Bank, the Ministry of Finance or any other government institution. Formally, they are under the jurisdiction of the Supreme Leader; effectively, they operate without any oversight, answerable only to Allah.

According to Shiite Muslim tradition, devout businessmen are expected to donate 20% of profits to their local mosques, which use the money to help the poor. By contrast, many bonyads seem like rackets, extorting money from entrepreneurs. Besides the biggest national outfits, almost every Iranian town has its own bonyad, affiliated with local mullahs. "Many small businessmen complain that as soon as you start to make some money, the leading mullah will come to you and ask for a contribution to his local charity," says an opposition economist, who declines to give his name. "If you refuse, you will be accused of not being a good Muslim. Some witnesses will turn up to testify that they heard you insult the Prophet Mohammad, and you will be thrown in jail."

Other charities resemble multinational conglomerates. The Mostazafan & Jambazan Foundation (Foundation for the Oppressed and War Invalids) is the second-largest commercial enterprise in the country, behind the state-owned National Iranian Oil Co. Until recently it was run by a man named Mohsen Rafiqdoost. The son of a vegetable-and-fruit merchant at the Tehran bazaar, Rafiqdoost got his big break in 1979, when he was chosen to drive Ayatollah Khomeini from the airport after his triumphal return from exile in Paris.

Khomeini made him Minister of the Revolutionary Guards to quash internal dissent and smuggle in weapons for the Iran-Iraq war. In 1989, when Rafsanjani became president, "Rafiqdoost" gained control of the Mostazafan Foundation, which employs up to 400,000 workers and has assets that in all probability exceed $10 billion.

Theoretically the Mostazafan Foundation is a social welfare organization. By 1996 it began taking government funds to cover welfare disbursements; soon it plans to spin off its social responsibilities altogether, leaving behind a purely commercial conglomerate owned by--whom? That is not clear. Why does this foundation exist? "I don't know--ask Mr. Rafiqdoost," says Abbas Maleki, a foreign policy adviser to Ayatollah Rafsanjani.

A picture emerges from one Iranian businessman who used to handle the foreign trade deals for one of the big foundations. Organizations like the Mostazafan serve as giant cash boxes, he says, to pay off supporters of the mullahs, whether they're thousands of peasants bused in to attend religious demonstrations in Tehran or Hezbollah thugs who beat up students. And, not least, the foundations serve as cash cows for their managers.

"It usually works like this," explains this businessman. "Some foreigner comes in, proposes a deal to the foundation head. The big boss says: ‘Fine. I agree. Work out the details with my administrator.' So the foreigner goes to see the administrator, who tells him: ‘You know that we have two economies here--official and unofficial. You have to be part of the unofficial economy if you want to be successful. So, you have to deposit the following amount into the following bank account abroad and then the deal will go forward.'"

Today Rafiqdoost heads up the Noor Foundation, which owns apartment blocks and makes an estimated $200 million importing pharmaceuticals, sugar and construction materials. He is quick to downplay his personal wealth. "I am just a normal person, with normal wealth," he says. Then, striking a Napoleonic pose, he adds: "But if Islam is threatened, I will become big again."

Implication: He has access to a secret reservoir of money that can be tapped when the need arises. That may have been what Ayatollah Rafsanjani had in mind when he declared recently that the Islamic Republic needed to keep large funds in reserve. But who is to determine when Islam is in danger?

As minister of the Revolutionary Guards in the 1980s, Rafiqdoost played a key role in sponsoring Hezbollah in Lebanon--which kidnapped foreigners, hijacked airplanes, set off car bombs, trafficked in heroin and pioneered the use of suicide bombers. According to Gregory Sullivan, spokesman for the Near Eastern Affairs Bureau at the U.S. State Department, the foundations are the perfect vehicles to carry out Iran's shadow foreign policy. Whenever suspicion of complicity in a terrorist incident turns to Iran, the Tehran government has denied involvement. State Department officials suspect that such operations may be sponsored by one of the foundations and semiautonomous units of the Revolutionary Guards.

Iran's foundations are a law unto themselves. The largest "charity" (at least in terms of real estate holdings) is the centuries-old Razavi Foundation, charged with caring for Iran's most revered shrine--the tomb of Reza, the Eighth Shiite Imam, in the northern city of Mashhad. It is run by one of Iran's leading hard-line mullahs, Ayatollah Vaez-Tabasi, who prefers to stay out of the public eye but emerges occasionally to urge death to apostates and other opponents of the clerical regime.

The Razavi Foundation owns vast tracts of urban real estate all across Iran, as well as hotels, factories, farms and quarries. Its assets are impossible to value with any precision, since the foundation has never released an inventory of its holdings, but Iranian economists speak of a net asset value of $15 billion or more. The foundation also receives generous contributions from the millions of pilgrims who visit the Mashhad shrine each year.

What happens to annual revenues estimated in the hundreds of millions--perhaps billions--of dollars? Not all of it goes to cover the maintenance costs of mosques, cemeteries, religious schools and libraries. Over the past decade the foundation has bought new businesses and properties, established investment banks (together with investors from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates) and financed big foreign trade deals.

The driving force behind the commercialization of the Razavi Foundation is Ayatollah Tabasi's son, Naser, who was put in charge of the Sarakhs Free Trade Zone, on the border with the former Soviet republic of Turkmenistan. In the 1990s the foundation poured hundreds of millions of dollars into this project, funding a rail link between Iran and Turkmenistan, new highways, an international airport, a hotel and office buildings.

Then it all went wrong. In July 2001 Naser Tabasi was dismissed as director of the Free Trade Zone. Two months later he was arrested and charged with fraud in connection with a Dubai-based company called Al-Makasib. The details remain murky, but four months ago the General Court of Tehran acquitted him.

Iran's most distinguished senior clerics are disgusted by the mullahcrats. Ayatollah Taheri, Friday prayer leader of the city of Isfahan, resigned in protest earlier this year. "When I hear that some of the privileged progeny and special people, some of whom even don cloaks and turbans, are competing amongst themselves to amass the most wealth," he said, "I am drenched with the sweat of shame."

Meanwhile the clerical elite has mismanaged the nation into senseless poverty. With 9% of the world's oil and 15% of its natural gas, Iran should be a very rich country. It has a young, educated population and a long tradition of international commerce. But per capita income today is 7% below what it was before the revolution. Iranian economists estimate capital flight (to Dubai and other safe havens) at up to $3 billion a year.

No wonder so many students turn to the streets in protest. The dictatorship has been robbing them of their future.

Discontent Unveiled
Disaffected, denied opportunity and just plain bored, Iran's youth have taken their frustrations with the clerics' regime to the streets.

Iran U.S.

Population **** 67 million 283 million
Percent under ****** 25 65% 35%
GDP per capita ******* $1,800 $37,000
Inflation ******* 25% 2%
Unemployment ***** 18% 6%
Sources: U.S. Census Bureau; U.S. Department of Labor; Atieh Bahar Consulting; Forbes estimates.

***** IT IS A TRUE STORY ***** unfortunately!
the stats you see is a comparison.

58 posted on 07/19/2003 12:28:43 AM PDT by F14 Pilot (WHY?)
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To: DoctorZIn
This Thread is now closed.

Join Us at the Iranian Alert -- DAY 40 -- LIVE THREAD PING LIST

Live Thread Ping List | 7.19.2003 | DoctorZIn

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

59 posted on 07/19/2003 1:23:07 AM PDT by DoctorZIn (IranAzad... Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: F14 Pilot
Thanks for the ping
bump to read later...
60 posted on 07/19/2003 6:52:31 AM PDT by firewalk
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