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Iranian Alert -- August 13, 2003 -- LIVE THREAD PING LIST
The Iranian Student Movement Up To The Minute Reports ^
Posted on 08/13/2003 12:02:17 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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posted on 08/13/2003 12:02:17 AM PDT
To: Ernest_at_the_Beach; Pan_Yans Wife; fat city; freedom44; Tamsey; Grampa Dave; PhiKapMom; ...
Join Us at the Iranian Alert -- August 13, 2003 -- LIVE THREAD PING LIST
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posted on 08/13/2003 12:03:03 AM PDT
Iran Pressing Campaign To Undermine America
August 11, 2003
The New York Sun
The Iranian government, feeling pressured by popular protests and by America's increasing presence in the region, is responding with a four-pronged policy aimed at preserving its regime and weakening America.
That is the assessment from those familiar with events inside Iran and nearby states. They describe a pattern by which Iran is reacting to the American defeat of Saddam Hussein.
What is significant is the aggressive nature of the Iranian moves, which both helps to explain some of the problems America has faced in postwar Iraq and at the same time threatens to eclipse them. The steps being taken in Iran, according to those familiar with them, include:
- Budgeting several billion dollars to build a nuclear bomb by the time of the next American presidential inauguration, in January 2005.
- Moving aggressively to expand Iranian influence in Syria by building mosques in Damascus and by providing free and low-cost oil to the Syrians.
- Undermining America in Iraq by working with Saudi Arabia, Syrians, and loyalists to Saddam Hussein.
- Pressing a campaign of meetings between Iranian officials and American foreign policy experts.
Efforts on the last front included a conference at Geneva on June 27 and 28 at which eight Iranians met with an international group that included a top White House counterproliferation official from the Clinton administration, Gary Samore, as well as the deputy director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Patrick Clawson; a senior research fellow at National Defense University, Judith Yaphe, and the executive director of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center, Henry Sokolski.
"They were very anxious to get face-to-face time with American officials," Mr. Sokolski said, describing the Iranians as "pleading" for him to go to New York to meet with officials at the Iranian mission to the United Nations. He declined. "I think they want to make folks believe they are meeting with Americans all the time, that the dissidents should give up," he told The New York Sun.
Among the speakers at the Geneva meeting was Iran's ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Ali Akbar Salehi, who sought to convince the Americans and Europeans that Iran's nuclear program was intended for civilian use.
The claim was "not credible," Mr. Clawson told the Sun. "It was spin. It was laughable. It was embarrassing."
Ms. Yaphe described the Geneva event as "a really interesting meeting" featuring "important Iranians" who were "serious people, well plugged in with the regime."
When it came to Iran's efforts to build a nuclear bomb, the Iranians "really didn't understand why it was viewed as such a bad thing, why there was so much opposition to it," she said.
Mr. Samore, director of studies at the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies, which organized the June meeting in cooperation with the Swiss Center for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces, said he'd like to convene another, similar gathering in the fall, after a September meeting of the board of governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Iran's actions are driven in part by a sense by the mullahs that they are being encircled by America. The American Navy has had ships in the Persian Gulf to support the liberation of Iraq.
The American military also has established bases in Qatar and in the former Soviet republics of Central Asia. American troops are present in Iraq and Afghanistan, which both border Iran and which America is trying to reshape into free democracies.
America is pursuing an oil pipeline deal with Azerbaijan, which borders Iran. Turkey, which also borders Iran, is a NATO ally of America, and while the Turkey-America relationship has had its rough spots recently,Turkey is still in the American camp.
The Iranian actions are also driven in part by how it sees America acting toward other countries. North Korea and Pakistan are getting friendlier treatment from the Bush administration than Iran does, and the mullahs think that is because Pyongyang and Islamabad already have nuclear weapons.
Iran's nuclear program was detailed in a 5,000-word investigation in the August 4 issue of the Los Angeles Times, which reported, among other things, that "so many North Koreans are working on nuclear and missile projects in Iran that a resort on the Caspian coast is set aside for their exclusive use."
The Iranian actions against America in Iraq are driven by the examples of Somalia and Beirut, where Americans bled and fled. The Iranians are said to be hoping for America to react to the casualties in Iraq by leaving there, too.
The Iranians are happy to allow others to take responsibility for the attacks on American soldiers in Iraq, so they are working with traditional rivals, including the Saudis and Saddam Hussein's loyalists. The Iranians, who are Shiites, are focusing their attacks in traditionally Sunni areas of Iraq, but they are also active in Iraq's Shiite areas.
An Iranian story involves a man falsely accused of a crime by a scoundrel. The case goes before a meticulously honest judge. The man considers bribing the judge, but is advised that such an attempt would certainly backfire, with the insulted judge finding the man guilty. The accused man went ahead and sent the bribe, and was found innocent. Later, he explained that he had sent the bribe in the scoundrel's name. Such deception characterizes the Iranian activities in Iraq, according to those familiar with them.
The newly deepened ties between Iran and Syria are driven by needs on both sides. The Syrian regime had been funding itself by importing cheap oil from Saddam Hussein's Iraq and selling it at a profit. With Saddam ousted, the Syrians needed a new sponsor, and found it in Iran, which has stepped in to provide oil to Syria in exchange for the right to use Syria as a base of operations against America in Iraq.
The financial ties between Tehran and Damascus are mirrored by increasingly close religious ties. Syria's ruling sect, the Alawites, are considered heretics by many mainstream Muslims.
But in the early 1970s, a fatwa by the Imam Musa Sadr ruled that Alawis are a branch of Shiite Muslims. Sadr mysteriously disappeared in 1978, but his niece is now the wife of the president of Iran, Mohammed Khatemi. The Iranians are now building new Shiite mosques all over Damascus, and the Syrian dictator, Bashar Assad, appears to be trying to move Alawism closer to Shiism.
"There is a very, very close relationship between Iran and Syria," said the president of the U.S. Committee for a Free Lebanon, Ziad Abdelnour. He said the ties had been "very much heightened" following the ouster of Saddam's regime in Iraq. http://iranvajahan.net/cgi-bin/news_en.pl?l=en&y=2003&m=08&d=13&a=1
posted on 08/13/2003 12:05:29 AM PDT
To: Ernest_at_the_Beach; Pan_Yans Wife; fat city; freedom44; Tamsey; Grampa Dave; PhiKapMom; ...
posted on 08/13/2003 12:06:43 AM PDT
IRANS RICH AND WELL-CONNECTED FAVOUR ECONOMIC STATUS QUO
By: Nicholas Birch*
TEHRAN, 12 Aug. (The Daily Star) Two years ago, Hoseyn Yazdi was looking forward to a quiet retirement. Now hes back at work as one of Tehrans countless unofficial taxi drivers, trying to supplement a monthly pension of $65.
"A kilo of meat costs $5 these days; most weeks my wife and I go without", he says angrily. "If things carry on like this, people like us will soon be dying of starvation".
Strong words, but by no means unusual in a city where peoples conversation turns with alarming speed to their daily struggle to make ends meet. But what makes such talk baffling is that most economists insist the country is relatively well managed.
"Iran has huge resources of oil and gas, and the rise in oil prices since 1999 from $10 a barrel to over $26 today has given the economy an immense boost", says Yves Cadilhon, head of the French economic mission in Tehran.
"Quite frankly, theyve used the money well: roads have been improved throughout Iran, and their electricity infrastructure is now as good as Turkeys".
"Our sales have more than quadrupled since 1996", says Said Laylaz, assistant manager of sales and marketing for the countrys biggest car maker, Iran Khodro. "Somebody must have money to buy them".
So why are Iranians complaining? For Laylaz, a supporter of moderate President Mohammad Khatami, popular gripes are a side effect of political reforms.
"People are no longer afraid to speak out. Theyre not
angrier, just more vocal", he argues.
Jahangir Amouzegar, Irans Finance Minister in the 1970s, disagrees: "Its the envy factor", he says.
"I doubt anybody is getting poorer, but the trouble is that a tiny minority is getting richer very quickly".
It has been a bitter pill to swallow given that "the covenant of the meek", or social justice, was a favourite catch phrase of the leaders of Irans 1979 revolution. It has been made far worse, though, by the fact that the principal beneficiaries of wealth redistribution have been regime clerics and their closest allies.
Among the main bastions of clerical control are the bonyad, immense foundations built up after 1979 from wealth confiscated from Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, Irans last Shah. Ostensibly "charitable" organisations, they frequently use their amassed wealth up to 35 percent of the countrys economy according to analysts for more questionable purposes. In 1997, for instance, one senior cleric and bonyad boss announced his institution was offering $2.5 million for the assassination of novelist Salman Rushdie.
Another bonyad based in the holy city of Mash-had has used donations from pilgrims to buy 90 percent of the arable land in the surrounding region. Controlled since 1979 by the arch conservative Ayatollah Abbas Vaez-Tabazi whose son and daughter are married to two of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenehis children the foundation also owns universities and a Coca-Cola factory.
Backed by Khatami, Irans majority reform-minded Parliament recently scrapped laws exempting the foundations from paying tax. Most observers doubt anything will change. In any case, they argue, bonyad bosses can always fall back on privileged relations with Irans banks, almost all state-owned.
"Credit is rationed", explains Amouzegar, "and its rarely private business that gets it."
"Ive never even bothered trying to get a bank loan", says Ataollah Khazali, owner of a small smelting works just outside Tehran. "Perhaps the private banks will be better for people like me, but theyre very new and few people trust them".
For now, cash-starved businessmen like Khazali are obliged to turn for credit to members of the countrys bazaari class, strongly pro-regime merchants who double as money lenders.
"Iran lacks liquidity; we do our best to remedy that", one bazaari says. One method used, he explains, is the systematic back-dating of cheques.
"Strictly speaking its illegal, but it enables us to play with money that isnt ours".
This bazaari is a small player, specialising only in copper goods. Others, with political attachments, are more powerful.
The current head of the influential pro-bazaari Coalition of Islamic Associations, Habibollah Asgar-Auladi, was Commerce minister in the 1980s, a position he used to procure lucrative foreign trade contracts for his brother. The family is now estimated to be worth $400 million.
Neither brother is renowned for his reformist sentiments. When Khatami broke his customary cautious reserve to warn against the rise of "religious fascism" in December 1998, Habibollah publicly reminded him he was "president of the whole nation and not just one group which insults and violates the holy values of the revolution".
"These bazaari are like a mafia, obeying no laws", says one clothes manufacturer, who buys all his fabric from them. "If one of them decides to boycott a company, they all do".
"Fortunately the younger generation is slightly more moderate", adds opposition economist Ali Rashidi. "Unfortunately, they age well: Plenty are over 90 and still going strong".
With Irans chronic unemployment officially 12.5 percent but likely closer to 20 percent exacerbated by the arrival on the job market of 1980s baby-boomers, analysts insist only a radical reworking of Irans crony capitalism can stave off a crisis.
"The regime knows it has no choice but to liberalise", argues Said Laylaz. "They may use anti-Western rhetoric as their political trump card, but they can only save themselves by opening up the country".
Jahangir Amouzegar is more pessimistic: "Its not Islamic ideology thats holding the system up; its the clerics and bazaaris hold on the economy", he says. ENDS IRAN ECONOMY 12803
Editor's note: Mr. Nicholas Birsh is a specialist on the Middle East, mostly on Iran and Turkey
The Beirut-based "The Daily Star" published the above story on its Tuesday 12 August issue.
Highlights and phonetisation of names are by IPS http://www.iran-press-service.com/
posted on 08/13/2003 12:08:13 AM PDT
To: Ernest_at_the_Beach; Pan_Yans Wife; fat city; freedom44; Tamsey; Grampa Dave; PhiKapMom; ...
posted on 08/13/2003 12:09:15 AM PDT
Well, isn't that special? I swear that once Iran is free, they will have much to teach US about Republics, Democracy and Freedom - IT WILL HAPPEN!
It may happen sooner than most expect.
posted on 08/13/2003 1:37:11 AM PDT
To: Ernest_at_the_Beach; Pan_Yans Wife; fat city; freedom44; Tamsey; Grampa Dave; PhiKapMom; ...
This just in from Iran....
People in Tehran reported they are now getting some LA based Iranian broadcasts again. They mentioned NITV and Pars TV.
This is very encouraging to them.
posted on 08/13/2003 1:51:40 AM PDT
Comment #10 Removed by Moderator
Iranian dancer sparks cultural conflict during homecoming
Aug. 12, 2003 07:05 AM
LOS ANGELES - Mohammad Khordadian spent days in a cramped Iranian prison cell while an Islamic court decided whether to have him hanged.
His alleged crime? Sharing his love of dance.
It was another twist in the strange odyssey of the Iranian-born dancer known to millions in his homeland for his Jane Fonda-type aerobics videos and campy dance routines.
Khordadian, 46, became the a symbol of lingering Iranian-American tension when he returned to Iran last year for the first time since 1980 to visit his ailing father.
In the nation where student aspirations for democratic reforms have clashed with the ideals of religious hard-liners, he was arrested and convicted for "promoting moral corruption" by holding dance classes in the United States.
"I had two loves in my life, dancing and my country. Unfortunately, they tried to make me pick one of them," Khordadian said.
Instead of death, the Islamic judge eventually banned Khordadian from teaching dance for the rest of his life. Though released from prison and allowed to leave Iran, he could be jailed for up to five years if he returns and is again convicted on those charges.
Now back in Los Angeles, where he is again grooving with fans, the dancer's experience provides insight into the power struggle in Iran.
"All I did was dance and try to keep our culture alive," he said.
The dancer became famous in Iranian households after moving to Los Angeles and being granted political asylum. His line of exercise videos were smuggled into revolutionary Iran where housewives relied on them to stay fit and entertained.
These days, his dance routines - a mixture of old world folklore and Hollywood glitz - have gotten frequent play on Farsi-language shows beamed into Iran by satellite television.
"Youngsters follow him because they see Westernized and Easternized dance moves in his routines," said Alireza Amirghasemi, a partner at the Persian Broadcasting Co. in Encino, which beams entertainment and news programs to an estimated 15 million viewers in Iran.
In the two decades since Iran's Islamic revolution, exiles like Khordadian have thrived in Los Angeles, home to a third of the nation's 277,000 Iranian immigrants.
It's here that Khordadian teaches Middle Eastern dance, including belly dancing, to many Iranian-born expatriates seeking a connection to their culture.
"His classes make you happy," said Guity Satey, a men's clothing retailer who has been honing her dance steps three times a week at a studio in West Los Angeles. Khordadian's classes are open to both genders unlike in Iran, where men and women dancing together in public is not permitted.
Friends and relatives had warned Khordadian that it would be foolhardy to attempt a trip to Iran. When he got word last year that his father was ill, the dancer decided to ignore the advice. His mother and best friend had died in Iran during his absence, and fame was making him lonely.
"I go to concerts where 6,000 people come to see me. But in the end, I go back to a hotel room alone," said Khordadian. So on April 9, 2002, he arrived in Tehran.
He was taken to a room and questioned about the reason for his trip. A few days later, he was summoned to meet with an adviser to President Mohammad Khatami. The aide expressed concern that Khordadian's image was being exploited on satellite broadcasts.
Khordadian believes now that the president's aide tried to warn him of the power of the Islamic clerics who control the country's courts. But he didn't know how to read between the lines.
"They said 'Go quietly,' " he said.
After spending time with his father and sisters, Khordadian traveled to the town of Isfahan, known for its ancient architecture. Khordadian was soon spotted by fans and a spontaneous crowd of hundreds of people formed.
Back at his hotel, Khordadian found 10 men with long beards waiting. The country's religious establishment had figured out he was there.
Ten minutes before his plane was due to depart Tehran, Khordadian was arrested and blindfolded. He spent 21 days in solitary confinement in a cell that was too small for him to lie down.
He was later transferred him to the notorious Evin prison, where he spent 40 days. He was not physically mistreated during his detention but was emotionally scarred by the experience.
Still, even during his court hearing, Khordadian recalled a strange compliment from the Islamic judge, who had clearly heard of the defendant.
"'You are more talented than Michael Jackson because you can dance many different styles. Can you dance salsa?' " Khordadian recalled the judge asking. http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/0812IranianDancer12-ON.html
Comment: The judge watch Western TV.
I anticipate that judges differs, but in general how independent are they? For instance in Poland even before the wall fell down in 1989 the judges were mostly honest people.
posted on 08/13/2003 2:57:37 AM PDT
Aug. 13, 2003
Iran expatriates make waves, By Nir T. Boms
In March, Iranian ex-rock star Zia Atabay placed a small satellite dish on the roof of a former pornographic studio in a Los Angeles neighborhood and began broadcasting. Atabay once the "Tom Jones of Iran" escaped his homeland shortly after 1979 and found refuge in California's 600,000-strong Iranian expatriate community. With his wife's support he launched his Farsi satellite station, calling it NITV (The National Iranian Television Network) and stressing its nonpartisan nature.
The station began airing some old films, music and eventually news and original programs. A few days later he received his first telephone call from Teheran. The Iranians on the line were exhilarated, telling him how excited they were to see programming banned in Iran.
This caught Atabay by surprise. "What do you mean?" I am not even broadcasting to Iran!" He wasn't. Someone at the satellite dispatch station had pushed a button which opened an additional link that quickly went across the ocean.
The Iranian regime feared an American "invasion" but never suspected the intrusion would come in this form and daily enter 300 new homes.
According to Atabay, approximately 25 million Iranians a third of the population have viewed NITV. It has created a culture around it. Since private satellite dishes are expensive not to mention illegal programs are often recorded and distributed via video tapes and the Internet for private screenings.
Atabay quickly established satellite links to other Farsi-speaking communities in Pakistan, Azerbaijan, and Bahrain. The channel was received in the Middle East, Europe, the Persian Gulf, South America, and even Australia, adding millions of viewers.
"We tell the Iranians about Gandhi and Nehru in India," says Atabay. "We broadcast programs about the Iron Curtain and about the fall of the Soviet Union. In the aftermath of the 9/11 terror attacks I asked young Iranians to show solidarity with America. The world must understand that the Iranian people do not condone the terrorists. Using my channel, I asked that they take to the streets, and they did. The images of students in the streets of Teheran were broadcasted all over the world."
Atabay hired Iranian comedian Ali Dean, known for impersonating ayatollahs. Dean successfully recreated a popular 1980s British show, Spitting Image. The difference was that instead of puppets in the spitting image of Margaret Thatcher and Neil Kinnock, the Farsi-speaking community watched puppets in the image of the mullahs. NITV began fighting the Iranian theocracy by revealing its leaders' true faces.
Following NITV'S example, other Farsi channels like Azadi and Channel One began beaming to Iran. They join the Voice Of America and Radio Farda, a 24-hour US-run radio service.
IN RESPONSE to this new wave of information, the mullahs of Iran launched their counterattack. Armed with microwave trucks designed to jam satellite signals and help locate the dishes, the mullahs unleashed the Revolutionary Guards to crack down on people tuning into the foreign programs.
Iran also reached out to Cuba for assistance. Intelligence sources reported a secret visit to Havana by Moshen Hashemi.
The details of the visit remain unknown. However, only days before the anniversary of the commemoration of the first wave of student riots, July 9, 1999, Cuban satellite jamming systems were successful in blocking Parsh TV, Azadi TV, VOA, and NITV broadcasts into Iran.
The jamming signal is thought to come from a complex outside Havana built by the Soviet Union to eavesdrop on the US during the cold war.
Though the mullahs have been temporarily successful in their efforts, Atabay believes the power of the dish having been unleashed will not be forgotten.
He tells me that when Iranian students arrested by the Republican Guards come out of jail they immediately call his station. They play a crucial role in providing information about the evolving situation on the ground. In turn Atabay sends them new satellite frequencies that will be in use.
Unfortunately, finding alternative ways of reaching Iranian audiences is increasingly difficult. Kourosh Abbassi, a spokesperson for Azadi Television, says they tried changing the satellite frequencies, but "within minutes" the new ones were blocked. The task of locating these broadcasts on the satellite dial becomes ever more difficult.
"Morale is low here," says Abbassi, as he notes over 2,000 responses received from supporters in Iran. "Technically, if they can do it to us they can do it to anyone, even to CNN."
On June 28, Iranian students took to the streets by the thousands and they are still there today. According to government reports 4,000 were arrested (the actual number is estimated at 10,000), many with the use of excessive force.
Some outside television and radio stations were able to find alternative ways to reach their audience using short wave, Internet, and telephones.
Alireza Morovati, an anchor for the Voice of Iran radio station, told me that the students were coordinating their activities on the air: "Someone from Shiraz was talking with someone from Teheran, telling them about the demonstration and the riots. Teheran and Shiraz were connected only via Los Angeles."
It seems that the battle over the power of the dish is reaching a climax. "Our mission is to bring the voice of freedom to Iran" says Morovati. Sometimes all it takes is one small dish.
The writer is vice president of the Washington-based Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.
posted on 08/13/2003 5:46:36 AM PDT
("If I Forget Thee, O Jerusalem, Let My Right Hand Wither" - Psalms 137:5)
To: DoctorZIn; nuconvert; dixiechick2000; AdmSmith; McGavin999; Eala; RaceBannon; Texas_Dawg; Valin; ...
Posted on Wed, Aug. 13, 2003
Iran Won't Let U.S. Interrogate al-Qaida
ALI AKBAR DAREINI
TEHRAN, Iran - Iran said Wednesday it won't allow the United States to interrogate senior al-Qaida operatives in Iranian custody.
"No," was President Mohammad Khatami's brief reply when reporters asked if Iran would allow U.S. investigators access.
A day earlier while on a visit to Australia, Deputy U.S. Secretary of State Richard Armitage told reporters the United States wanted to talk to al-Qaida suspects in Iran.
"We know that Iran, to her own admission, is holding a certain number of al-Qaida," Armitage said. "Some of them we believe to be quite high level. We'd like to get access to them and interrogate them to try to head off whatever plans they've already got in the works."
Khatami said Iran was ready to hand over Saudi al-Qaida detainees to Saudi Arabia, which is investigating bombings on May 12 in Riyadh, its capital.
"If their nationality is Saudi, we have no problem handing them over. We have no problem cooperating with Saudi Arabia," Khatami told reporters after a Cabinet meeting.
On Monday, Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said Iran would try al-Qaida operatives in Iranian custody whose nationalities are not clear and if no country takes them.
Asefi also said Iran will also try those al-Qaida figures who have committed crimes in Iran. He gave no further details.
Last week, Iran's government spokesman Abdollah Ramezanzadeh said Iran won't hand over senior al-Qaida captives to the United States because Iran had no extradition treaty with Washington.
Intelligence Minister Yunesi confirmed for the first time last month that Iran was holding "a large number of small and big-time elements of al-Qaida." Iran has not identified any of the detainees, citing security reasons.
U.S. officials have said intelligence suggests that al-Qaida figures in Iran include Saif al-Adl, a top al-Qaida agent possibly connected to the May 12 bombings in Riyadh; Abu Mohammed al-Masri, wanted in connection with the bombings of two U.S. embassies in East Africa in 1998; Abu Musab Zarqawi, whom some U.S. officials describe as the key link between al-Qaida and toppled Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein; and Saad bin Laden, the son of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.
Many al-Qaida operatives are believed to have fled to Iran after the overthrow of the Taliban regime in neighboring Afghanistan in late 2001. http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansascity/news/breaking_news/6522526.htm
We will need to disengage in AFGHANISTAN,IRAQ before we are of much use in IRAN i fear
To: F14 Pilot
Iranian hard-liners' grip tight as reformists regroup
13 August By Nicholas Birch Christian Science Monitor
Many in the reform movement have become disenchanted by the inability of their leaders to loosen conservatives' hold over Iranian politics.
Amir Mohebbian, a columnist for the conservative Iranian daily Resalat, has little trouble summing up the state of his country's reform movement.
"Iran's reformers are like poker players whose bluff has been called," he says firmly. "Their game is over."
Mr. Mohebian's paper is a mouthpiece for the hard-liners who surround supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, its pronouncements ignored by most Iranian readers. But on the issue of the country's beleaguered reform movement, even those at the opposite end of the political spectrum grudgingly admit it is right.
In 2001, following the reelection of moderate President Mohammad Khatami by a wide margin, many Iranians believed they finally had a government capable of bringing the changes they demanded. But disenchantment quickly set in. Despite the support of a new reformist majority in parliament, the man some have labeled Iran's Gorbachev has proven unable to influence hard-liners in the executive and judiciary to loosen their grip on Iranian politics.
"The reform process has been emasculated," says Davoud Hermidas Bavand, a law professor at the Supreme National Defense University in Tehran. "The mood in Iran now is angry, but above all pessimistic."
Analysts say the crunch came on June 3, when the Guardian Council - a staunchly conservative unelected upper house - refused to ratify a parliamentary bill that would have stripped the councilof its power to veto candidates it considered unsuitable for elected office.
Mr. Khatami had described the measure as crucial to planned reforms, and had hinted he would resign if it was vetoed. He has yet to budge, however.
Their leader's helplessness exposed more harshly than ever, parliamentary reformists seem increasingly split between moderates, many of whom are clerics willing to work within Iran's theocratic system, and others, who privately want out.
Rift among reformists
With rumors rife that a small group of radical reform lawmakers may be preparing to resign, analysts question Khatami's ability to hold his group together until elections next year. "His insistence on change through consensus has reached the end of its usefulness," says one reformist deputy. "The time has come for confrontation."
A far more serious blow to Khatami's cause came in early July. Dismayed by his perceived failure to defend 4,000 protesters detained after nationwide pro- democracy demonstrations in June, the student-led Office to Foster Unity (OFU) announced it would no longer be supporting him. With about 60,000 members, OFU is among the largest and best-organized protest groups in Iran.
Though conservatives like Mohebbian insist reformists "overestimate people's desire for change." In Tehran, at least, criticism of the regime is omnipresent.
Taxi drivers routinely boast that they have stopped picking up anyone wearing a cleric's turban and robes. Deep skepticism of Iran's leaders extends even to some members of the baseej, a pious semi-militia.
The trouble, argues pro- reform columnist and businessman Saeed Laylaz, is that hard-liners have been just flexible enough to appease most of their critics.
"These people are not stupid," he says. "Their willingness to permit the loosening of puritanical laws on dress and public behavior have created the illusion of freedom." He also warns against the assumption that the grumbling in Tehran is shared throughout the country.
"The Shah made that mistake, and he ended his life in exile," he says. "Only cautious reforms can balance urban radicalism and rural demands for bread."
He may be right. A more convincing explanation for widespread Iranian apathy, though, was given by Mohsen, a student at Tehran University. "Look where our last one-night revolution got us. How can we be sure the next one won't be worse?" he asks.
Such cynicism worries Rouzbeh Mirebrahimi, the youthful political editor of the pro-reform daily Etemad. He points to the dismal 12 percent turnout at local elections in Tehran this February. "We handed victory to the conservatives on a plate," he fumes. "And the same thing could happen in next year's general election."
He believes the recent death of Canadian-Iranian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi, who was detained by police after taking photographs outside Tehran's high-security Evin prison and had her skull fractured during interrogation, could motivate the flagging reformists. "Her murder," he says, has forced us to pull together."
Bolstered by Canadian pressure, reformist criticisms have forced Iran's hard-line judiciary chief to remove Tehran prosecutor Saeed Mortazavi - whom many suspect of having had a hand in killing Ms. Kazemi - from leading the investigation into her death.
"He's been the main instigator of newspaper closures over the past four years," comments Iran expert Ali Ansari, who is based in Britain. "Now it's payback time." http://www.iranexpert.com/2003/iranianhardliners13august.htm
posted on 08/13/2003 6:13:25 AM PDT
President denies claims on Iran-US talks/correspondence
Tehran, Aug 13, IRNA -- President Mohammad Khatami here on Wednesday
dismissed the prospect of interrogation of Al Qaeda members in Iran by
Speaking to reporters, the president said that no talks have been
held between Iran and the US on the issue and added that once Iran is
through with the investigation of Al Qaeda members who are currently
Iran's custody and their identities are confirmed, proper decision
will be taken for their trial or expulsion.
"We will arrest Al Qaeda members if we come across them, given
that they are our enemies, similar to Americans," he noted.
Concerning the claim of a Saudi official that Iran is refraining
from delivering a member of Al Qaeda, a Saudi citizen, to Saudi
Arabia, he said, "Given joint cooperation and constant negotiations
between the two states, if that is the case, there will be no
He rejected that there were any exchanges or any correspondence
between the Iranian and American statesmen and said that such claims
are simply speculations.
President Khatami also denied the rumor that Iran's permanent
representative to the United Nations, Mohammad-Javad Zarif, has been
holding talks with the US officials on behalf of Iran. http://www.irna.ir/en/tnews/030813170324.etn00.shtml
To: DoctorZIn; nuconvert; dixiechick2000; AdmSmith; McGavin999; Eala; Texas_Dawg; Valin; yonif; ...
Khatami says will not forward twin bills to EC
Tehran, Aug 13, IRNA -- President Mohammad Khatami said here on
Wednesday that he would not forward his twin bills on promoting
presidential powers and reforming the electoral law to the Expediency
"I will not send my bills to the EC," Khatami told reporters after
a cabinet meeting, adding that he hoped the dispute between the
Majlis and the Guardian Council (GC) on the electoral law would be
resolved before the elections for the seventh Majlis.
Khatami presented the twin bills to the Majlis last September as
what he said could enable him to better deliver on his promises to the
people and to actualize people's aspirations.
The bill on presidential power redefines Khatami's prerogatives by
highlighting the president's right to warn any of the highest ranking
officials of the three constitutional powers whenever needed and mete
out punishment in case the warning is not heeded.
Also, the bill on amending the electoral law has been basically
drawn up to address the GC's prerogative of approbatory supervision.
Under the Constitution, the GC is authorized to reject Majlis
legislation which it deems contrary to the Sharia law of Islam or
After the fourth Majlis, however, the GC expanded its domain of
responsibility to decide the competency of election candidates by
interpreting one of its constitutional authorities - approbatory
supervision - as a right to ensure that only candidates who meet its
standards are allowed to run for public office.
The government has announced that Khatami's bill on amending the
electoral law is meant to increase people's participation in elections
and reduce wanton disqualification of elections hopefuls.
The GC has rejected both the bills. http://www.irna.ir/en/tnews/030813145154.etn01.shtml
...We will need to disengage in AFGHANISTAN,IRAQ before we are of much use in IRAN i fear...
Our engagement in Afghanistan and Iraq is putting significant pressure on Iran.
To disengage in those countries is precisely what the Iranian regime wants.
Iraq "chaos" will only end with foreign forces' departure: Iran
Mon Aug 11, 7:37 AM ET Add Mideast - AFP to My Yahoo!
TEHRAN (AFP) - The "chaos" in Iraq (news - web sites) will only end with the departure of foreign forces from the country, Iran's foreign ministry spokesman warned.
"We do not support any acts which endanger the life of the innocent, but we think that the presence of foreign forces and the way they behave towards the Iraqis are the principal cause of insecurity in Iraq", Hamid-Reza Asefi said in his weekly press conference.
"So for calm to return, it is necessary for the foreign forces to leave Iraq and to agree to give the future of this country to the Iraqis as soon as possible," Asefi said Monday. "Only under these conditions, can we hope for the end of chaos in Iraq." http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=1514&e=14&u=/afp/20030811/wl_mideast_afp/iran_iraq_us_unrest_030811113753
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