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posted on 09/02/2003 12:01:13 AM PDT
Double Standards and Deception: How the Left Treats Iran and the Middle East
Defense & Foreign Affairs
By Elio Bonazzi
In an article that appeared in the New York Post, in early March 2003, prior to the Coalition war on Iraq, Iranian-born journalist Amir Taheri denounced what he felt were the deeply hypocritical position of the peace movement, which had, in the build-up to the 2003 US-led war against Iraqi Pres. Saddam Hussein, organized marches and rallies throughout 600 cities and 25 countries.
Stalin founded this peace movement movement in 1946, when the USSR was in a distinctly weak position; he was trying to consolidate the newly conquered empire in Eastern Europe without nuclear weapons to counter the military predominance of the West. Pablo Picasso designed the emblem of the movement, the famous dove, and world-renowned poets such as French Paul Eluard and Chilean Pablo Neruda composed odes inspired by Stalin. The goal of the movement was to extend the influence of the various communist parties over the more moderate center-left political formations, to push the Kremlins agenda in the West with the support of forces which would have transcended the meager political weight of the various communist parties operating in what was then described as the free world. The symbol was a dove, rather than hammer and sickle; the emblem color was white, rather than red. But the International Section of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU), operating behind the scenes in Moscow, orchestrated the peace movement to fulfill their goals.
In the course of its existence, the peace movement never betrayed its origins.
In his article, Mr Taheri reminds us that the movement was not opposed to all wars indiscriminately, but only to those that threatened the Soviet empire. The peaceniks (which is the appellation by which Mr Taheri refers to them) were comfortable with the Soviet annexation of 15 percent of Finlands territory and the Baltic States, and did not demur when the Soviet tanks entered Budapest and Prague. But when the US led a coalition under a UN mandate to prevent North Korean communists from conquering South Korea, the peace movement was up in arms, denouncing the imperialist ambitions of the US. Peaceniks reached their peak during the Vietnam War. And once again they were silent when the USSR invaded Afghanistan, but became very vocal about the deployment of the Pershing theater-strategic surface-to-surface missiles in Europe in the years which followed that very invasion. The missiles were a response to the Soviet deployment of entire batteries of SS-20 ballistic missiles aimed at European capitals. But the peaceniks never asked for the dismantling of the SS-20s; their protest was only aimed at impeding the deployment of the Pershing SSMs.
While the peace movement is probably the most evident example of double standards, tolerated and even encouraged by the left, the recent events which have occurred in Iran and the repercussion which those events had in the Western world are a revival of the hypocrisy and duplicity by those who theoretically should be staunch supporters of democracy and freedom for the Iranian people.
The Islamic Republic of Iran is an extreme-right theocracy, which has increasingly lost consensus even among the clergy. It oppresses the large majority of Iranians, perpetrating what by accepted international standards would be described as crimes against humanity on a daily basis. Women are stoned to death, people [especially the young] are tortured and executed in public without trial, tens of thousands of political prisoners populate highly objectionable prisons; the oppressors must resort to Muslim foreigners for help in anti-riot policing, enlisting Palestinians, Afghani Talibans and even Syrians arriving straight from Damascus to Tehran via camouflaged chartered flights, because Iranian police will no longer beat fellow compatriots during demonstrations.
It is clear that Iranians want a secular, representative government ; anything short of that is not acceptable. Surprisingly, both liberals and left wing radicals have, up until now shown little or no support for a secular democracy in Iran. It is difficult to argue that the struggle for a secular democracy in Iran is not progressive. After all, the Iranian opposition forces are trying to defeat religious obscurantism, which is definitely not a left-wing ideological asset; they propose a modern democracy instead, which is certainly more in line with left-wing rhetoric.
Historically, whenever a brutal dictatorship teetered on the edge of collapse, left-wing movements and media worldwide stood up in support of the freedom fighters. For instance, the autocracy in Nicaragua which lasted until July 1979 and proceeded the fall of the Pres. Anastasio Somoza had liberal media worldwide in a campaign which completely discredited Somozas Administration. The turning point was the assassination of journalist Bill Stewart by a soldier of the regular Nicaraguan Army, captured on the video camera of a fellow journalist and promptly distributed throughout the world.
Something similar has recently happened in Iran. A Canadian-Iranian photojournalist, Zahra Ziba Kazemi, was raped and murdered (at the instigation of Tehran prosecutor Saeed Mortezavi) in June 2003 while detained after being arrested for filming anti-Government riots outside the political prison of Evin in Tehran. After an initial pathetic attempt to cover up this assassination, [the Islamic Republic officials injected her body with rapid decomposing chemicals and burying her hastily] essentially refusing to return her body to Canada, in spite of an official request made by her family and demand by the Canadian Government. The murder of Ms Kazemi, however, did not provoke the same amount of public outrage which forced Nicaraguan Pres. Somoza to step down.
For weeks during the month of June 2003 and on the occasion of the July 9, 2003, anniversary of the 1999 University protests in Iran, the opposition movement inside Iran challenged the authority of the Administration, marching and rallying, chanting anti-Government slogans, defying the guns and death squads of the various mullahs in key posts. As a result, thousands of political activists, students, and others, were rounded up and packed into prisons, subjected to torture, and in some cases murdered.
It is instructive to compare and contrast the articles about Nicaragua that appeared in liberal newspapers in 1979 and the articles about Iran today. In 1979 not a single liberal journalist strove to be neutral. From the perspective of the political left, there was no doubt: Somoza and his Government had to go.
The situation is totally different today. If it is to succeed, the growing opposition movement inside Iran needs tangible support from the West. Freedom fighters need laptops, fax machines and cellular phones to organize the uprising. If the Iranian opposition is to succeed, it also needs support from international media. But, significantly, that is not happening. The basic ingredients of the political situation in Iran a growing opposition movement fighting against a leadership which oppresses the vast majority of the population would normally be considered to be the perfect ingredients for a left-wing recipe to galvanize the masses in the name of freedom and democracy. It worked for Nicaragua, at the end of the 1970s; it worked for Poland and Solidarnosc in the 1980s. The question for analysts today is why the same recipe has failed to take hold in Iran.
Mainstream US liberal media barely reported on the Iranian uprising which occurred at the end of June and beginning of July 2003. Instead of praising the opposition demonstrators who literally risked their lives, soon after the end of the uprising, The New York Times, which in spite of recent scandals still remains one of the most prestigious national newspapers, published an Op-Ed by Mr Reza Aslan, a visiting professor of Islamic Studies at the University of Iowa.
In that article, Mr Aslan argued that the Iranian opposition was fighting for a religious democracy, not secularism, and religion must play a rôle in the country. Mr Aslan completely misrepresented the reality of Iran, and could not be further from the truth. The New York Times, by publishing that article, sided with those who sought to maintain the status quo in Iran. The most prominent Shiite scholars, ayatollahs like Taheri and Montazeri, have distanced themselves from the political clergy (Khamnei and Rafsjani), openly criticizing the very concept of Islamic Republic. Hossein Khomeini, himself an ayatollah and the grandchild of the Islamic revolutions very leader, recently joined Taheri and Montazeri, criticizing religious interference in State matters, in a significant blow to the theocratic establishment. Mr Khomeini left Iran, and is now in Najaf, Iraq, which has once again become the most prominent Shiite theological center, relegating the Iranian holy city of Qom to a secondary rôle. Coalition forces in Iraq recently discovered a plot to assassinate Hossein Khomeini organized by the Shiite extremists sent by Irans Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei and former Pres. Rafsanjanis assassination teams.
Taheri, Montazeri and Khomeini the younger understand that Islam today is losing consensus in Iran and that the harshness of the Islamic revolution backfired. As a result, it is no longer appealing to Iranian youth; they now respond with either religious apathy or by embracing Zoroastrianism [the ancient religion of Iran, before Persians were forced to convert to Islam by the Arab invaders].
The peace movement taught us that only wars which were threatening the Soviet Union were worth protesting. Contemporary liberals would like to sell us a similar concept: siding with the oppressed freedom fighters against the brutal oppressors is not always politically correct. In the case of Iran, for example, the toppling of the mullahs could potentially benefit the US Bush Administration, simplifying the process of stabilization in Iraq, and extending US and Israeli influence in the Middle East. The perceived Bush-Sharon axis would come out undoubtedly stronger, after HizbAllah and HAMAS were left without their primary source of financial and logistic support, the Iranian clerics.
It is easy to understand why it is in the interest of the left to deliberately downplay the growing opposition movement in Iran. Apart from the more evident reason explained above, as far as Iran is concerned, the left still has a few skeletons in its closet, and must come to terms with past mistakes and faulty assessments.
To begin with, the left significantly contributed to the creation of the Islamic Republic, when US President Jimmy Carter deliberately destroyed the Shah, who had been a staunch ally of the US for 27 years. In the Shahs White House visit of November 1977, Jimmy Carter and his aides who demanded radical changes in the way the internal affairs of Iran were conducted met the Shah with open hostility. They asked the Shah to institute the right of free assembly, at a time when the Soviet Union was stepping up a campaign of propaganda, espionage and even sabotage inside Iran, and Islamic fundamentalists where teaming up with the Iranian Communist Tudeh party to overthrow the Government.
Nureddin Klanuri, head of the Tudeh Party, who was living in exile in East Berlin, officially sanctioned the party line in support for Khomeini:
The Tudeh Party approves Ayatollah Khomeini's initiative in creating the Islamic Revolutionary Council. The ayatollahs program coincides with that of the Tudeh Party.
Furthermore, Sadegh Ghotbzadeh, a key figure in Khomenis entourage, was known for his strong connections with Soviet and Eastern European intelligence.
The Shah was left with little room for maneuver; he had to succumb to the blackmail of the Carter Administration and release political prisoners, ending military tribunals and granting rights of assembly in order not to lose vital US military supply and training. But the mechanism designed by Carter to provoke an escalation of the opposition to the Shah was already in motion. In addition to the support of the Tudeh party and Eastern intelligence, Khomeini could also count on US leftist radicals like Ramsey Clark, who had served as Attorney-General in the Lyndon B. Johnson Administration. Mr Clark went to Tehran and to Paris, to visit Khomeini. Upon his return to the US, he played a behind-the-scenes rôle to influence prominent senators and congressmen not to allow the US military to back the Shah in case of popular upraising against the Peacock throne.
Mr Clark is today still proud of his crusade of 1979. In a recent interview he talked of overthrowing the Shah as the accomplishment of his lifetime, quoting overly exaggerated numbers of supposed Shahs victims as the moral justification for his actions. The smear campaign orchestrated by left media while the Shah was still on his throne, and which continued well after his fall, depicted the Shah as a mass murderer, responsible for the killing of 60,000 people, who died between 1963 and 1979. That number was fabricated by Khomeini, and never verified, not even by Western media, which took for granted the official truth of the newly installed Islamic Administration.
Only recently a respected historian, Emad al-Din Baghi, who had access to the files of the so-called Martyrs Foundation, told the truth about the real number of Shahs victims. For years, The Martyrs Foundation collected the names of the victims of the revolution against the Shah, classifying them by age, sex, education, etc. The findings where never disclosed by the Islamic Republic, in order not to contradict the official number established by decree by Khomeini. The statistical breakdown of victims covering the period from 1963 to 1979 adds up to a figure of 3,164. Emad al-Din Baghi left the Martyrs Foundation to write books about his findings. According to his historically accurate account, the worst moment of the uprising against the Shah, culminated in the massacre at Jaleh Square, gave the revolutionaries the chance to grossly inflate the number of victims, from 88 to initially 3,000, which later became 4,000. Western media never bothered to verify the accuracy of the numbers, based on rumors and anti-Shah hysteria, and helped perpetuate the inflated figures.
Not only the left contributed to the creation of the Islamic Republic; in more recent years, during the US Clinton Administration, the media and left-wing politicians helped the Islamic Republic propaganda, repeating and magnifying the Big Lie about Iran and its Reformist Leaders. Big Lie is a term originally coined to describe a characteristic form of nazi (and later Soviet) propaganda. The essence of the Big Lie propaganda technique is that if one repeats the lie often enough over enough channels, people will soak it up deep into their pores and come to believe it as something of common knowledge or fact.
In this case, the Big Lie consisted of portraying current Iranian Pres. Hojjat ol-Eslam (Ali) Mohammad Khatami-Ardakani and his Government as a genuine force capable of reforming the Islamic Republic from within, expanding democracy and meeting the requests of Iranians who voted for change against hard-line clerics in 1997. The Big Lie remained credible for a short time, and even opposition forces of the Iranian diaspora initially credited Mr Khatami with good intentions. But soon after the electoral victory of May 1997, it appeared evident that Khatami was a mere façade figure, whose task was to restore an image of respectability, which the Islamic Republic had lost when Ali Akbar Hashemi-Rafsajani, the former President, had ordered the elimination of anti-Islamic Republic activists [carried out by Iranian killers] in Berlin. After several European countries recalled their ambassadors from Tehran to protest against the assassinations perpetrated on European soil and threatened to reconsider business deals with Iran, the clerical apparatus in charge of the Islamic Republic decided to give itself a new and more presentable look.
The Iranian society had already sent strong signals of deep disaffection towards Islamic rule. It was easy to maneuver the elections; spiritual leader Ali Khamenei handpicked a fossilized, ultra-conservative mullah, Nategheh-Nouri, the Speaker of Parliament (Majlis), as the candidate of the establishment, knowing full well that the electorate would have voted for the alternative candidate.
But what kind of alternative was Khatami? One should not forget that democratic elections are in reality nothing more than a farce in Iran. Opposition parties that do not pledge their allegiance to the Islamic regime are banned. And as if that is not enough, the all-powerful Council of Guardians subjects all candidates to a close examination of their loyalty to the system. The latter represents the will of God, while the Parliament (Majlis) represents the will of the People. Needless to say, the will of God always prevails over the will of the people. The Spiritual Leader Ali Khamenei, who presides the Council of Guardians, is, to all intents, an absolute monarch. Of the initial 240 candidates who wanted to run for the May 1997 election, the Council of Guardians chose four who were deemed sufficiently Islamic to run. All women candidate were filtered out, leaving Khatami, carefully screened by the establishment, as the only reasonable choice. With his image of well-spoken, clean-shaven mullah capable of debating without losing his temper, Khatami was the perfect choice to rebuild the shattered image of Iran, especially in the eyes of the European powers.
The fictitious contraposition between conservatives and reformists and the electoral victory of the latter was the PR stunt that allowed the Europeans, anxious to continue usurping cheap oil and gas from Iran, to feel morally justified when they restored diplomatic and business relations with the Islamic Republic. The Western media on both sides of the Atlantic did the rest, generating a false sense of confidence in the good guys, the reformists, who, in spite of all the obstacles erected by the conservatives, would have eventually succeeded in fulfilling the needs and the democratic aspirations of Iranians. In all fairness, it has to be said that all mainstream media, irrespective of political leaning, initially praised Khatamis election, to the extent of giving him the nickname of Ayatollah Gorbachev. The mullahs benefited from the newly-found line of political credit by cracking down on internal opposition with renewed vigor. A few months after Khatamis landslide victory, journalists and intellectuals were killed in what went down the annals of history as the chain murders. In addition, real opposition magazines and newspapers were banned and forcibly closed down.
In spite of the repression of internal dissent, Khatami was invited by the major European powers for State visits. He went to Italy in March 1999, where he delivered a speech to the Parliament, to France in October 1999, where he was welcomed by Pres. Chirac at the Elysée Palace, and to Germany in July 2000, where he met federal Chancellor Gerhard Schröder and Foreign Minister Joseph Fischer.
The Big Lie represented a perfect win-win situation for Iranian officials and European powers. It legitimized the Islamic Republic and its crackdown of the opposition, while justifying the Europeans in their renewed business interests with Iran, because, as German Foreign Minister Fisher claimed: any opposition to Khatami only benefits his conservative opponents. Khatami visited Germany exactly one year after the July 1999 student protests, during which security forces and Islamic militia murdered several young people. Khatami explicitly supported the repression of the protest, and in spite of receiving thousands of petitions; he did not intervene to stop the tortures and the arrests if students who were then sentenced to death after mock trials. But that was not enough to defeat the Big Lie; the sad reality of Iran was not convenient for liberal media and European politicians, anxious to clear the way to lucrative business deals with Iran.
The latest elections held in Iran on February 2003 also showed that the Emperor had no clothes; in Tehran only 10 percent of voters cast their votes, in other parts of the country the percentage of voters was higher, but in average no more than 25 percent. That sent Iranian authorities and the world a strong message of the distaste the Iranian public felt towards Islamic rule. Initially, only the Council of Guardians was labeled the unelected few; today the same can be said about the entire ruling class.
US non-liberal mainstream media finally woke up and started questioning the Big Lie, reporting on the June/July 2003 uprisings, realizing that Iran needed a secular democracy and not the false promises of a better future by a powerless mullah. In several occasions, however, liberal media still described the Iranian situation in terms of internal fighting between reformists and conservatives, demanding that the US State Department open a dialogue with reformist forces to reach a compromise on the Iranian interference in Iraq and the nuclear facility being built in central Iran.
Left-wing radical fringes recently gave birth to a Committee called the International Committee for Transition to Democracy in Iran. Radical celebrities like Noam Chomsky, Costa Gavras and the Nobel Laureate Jose Saramago were among the founders of the committee, which mixes anti-US and anti-Imperialist rhetoric with legitimate requests for a genuine democratization in Iran. It is now time for the more moderate mainstream left to start the long overdue process of self-criticism of past mistakes, and to recognize that the only reasonable political position is to side with the growing opposition movement that wants to overthrow the mullahs to create a secular democracy in Iran. The left opposed the war in Iraq using morally charged messages like no blood for oil. In order not to lose its credibility, the left can no longer ignore the legitimate aspiration of Iranians for a secular democracy. If the left insists on perpetuating its mistakes as far as Iran is concerned [trading long term benefits for myopic short term anti-Bush gains], it will be caught, once again, on the wrong side of history. It is not too late for the left to recognize its mistakes and to rectify its position on Iran, after a factual and honest debate; but that must begin now.
Elio Bonazzi is an Italian-born political scientist and IT professional, with extensive experience covering Iranian issues. http://www.strategicstudies.org/dfa.htm
posted on 09/02/2003 12:07:43 AM PDT
Iran says "wait and see" on nuclear treaty
AFP - World News (via Iranmania)
Sep 1, 2003
TEHRAN - With suspense building over whether Iran will allow snap inspections of its nuclear sites, a foreign ministry spokesman said Monday that there is still a week until the UN nuclear watchdog meets to discuss the matter and that people should "wait and see" what Tehran will do.
"We have a week until September 8," when the International Atomic Energy Agency meets in Vienna, said Hamid-Reza Assefi. "So wait and see whether Iran does or does not" sign an additional protocol to the nuclear Non-Proliferation
An IAEA report on Iran will be presented to the agency's board of governors in Vienna. Were Iran to be found in breach of its commitments the matter could be referred to the UN Security Council.
Iran is being pressed to sign the protocol by the United States and other parties, who suspect that it is secretly developing a nuclear weapons program. Tehran flatly denies that. http://www.daneshjoo.org/generalnews/article/publish/article_2071.shtml
posted on 09/02/2003 12:12:58 AM PDT
Flawed Approaches on Iran
Moscow Times - By Jon B. Wolfsthal
Sep 1, 2003
Even during the depths of the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union often worked together to halt the spread of nuclear weapons to new countries. Now, both countries are dealing with the realization that Iran's nuclear program is more advanced than previously thought and may be aimed directly at acquiring nuclear weapons in the next few years.
Unfortunately, the approaches being pursued by both countries will do nothing to slow Iran's ability to produce nuclear weapons, and a new approach and better coordination is desperately needed before it is too late.
For the better part of a decade, U.S. officials pressured Russia to stop its support for the Bushehr nuclear reactor project in Iran. The United States argued that the power plant was a front for Iran to acquire weapons-related technology, a charge that Russian rejected. It now appears that both sides may have been wrong.
Counter to U.S. projections, Iran appears to have used Pakistan and other third parties to develop a uranium enrichment technology based on centrifuges, instead of relying on covert acquisitions of Russian technology. This does not mean, however, that Russian experts or companies have not been involved in this program without the Kremlin's knowledge or permission -- only that Russia appears not to be the primary source of Iran's newfound capabilities. Yet Russia also ignored clear signs that Iran was interested in much more than a peaceful nuclear power program. Its willingness to engage in nuclear commerce with Iran, while financially beneficial, is now coming back to negatively effect Russia's security.
To remedy the situation, the two countries have adopted similarly flawed approaches. Russian officials are working with Iran to ensure that any fuel used in the reactor at Bushehr -- fuel that when reprocessed could produce hundreds of nuclear weapons worth of plutonium -- is returned to Russia. For its part, with Russian support, the United States is pushing Iran to join the IAEA's enhanced inspection agreement, which will give the agency broader inspection and monitoring rights in Iran.
While both of these initiatives are helpful, they will do absolutely nothing to head off the main challenge posed by Iran's growing nuclear program -- Tehran's construction of advanced centrifuge enrichment facilities that could produce enough weapons-grade uranium for 20 weapons per year by the end of the decade. Iran has stated that it is developing the means to produce its own enriched uranium fuel for the Bushehr reactors out of concern that the United States will convince Russia to cut off its fuel supply.
Under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, to which Iran is a party, states are entitled to engage in all manner of peaceful nuclear development as long as they accept international inspections. This provision, however, allows states to use the cover of the treaty to acquire the very means to produce a formidable nuclear arsenal, and then later withdraw from the pact and use the material for nuclear weapons. At the heart of international concerns is the risk that Iran will follow just this scenario to the detriment of regional and even global security.
To head off this eventuality, the United States and Russia should reach quick agreement on a new strategy that would not only head off Iran's nuclear weapons potential, but address the underlying flaw in the NPT system. At a minimum, Russia should offer to guarantee -- with explicit U.S. endorsement -- Iran's supply of fuel for the Bushehr reactor as long as Iran abandons its indigenous uranium enrichment and plutonium production programs. This offer would give Iran a clear choice -- a reliable foreign source of nuclear energy or an internal nuclear program with weapons potential. The choice that Iran makes would help show the international community Iran's true intentions.
To many, it is already clear that at a minimum, Iran is seeking the option of producing nuclear weapons through its own independent nuclear program. Given its history of conflict with Iraq -- a state by no means guaranteed of a peaceful and stable future -- as well as the perceived threats from Israel's and America's nuclear arsenals, Iran's position is understandable in some circles. But this nuclear option would only serve to increase the desire of other countries, including Saudi Arabia, Syria and even a future independent Iraq, to acquire their own nuclear options, to say nothing of the steps Israel might take before Iran's became a reality.
Thus, in addition to the offer to guarantee Iran's supply of low enriched uranium fuel for its nuclear reactor, the United States and Russia should revisit the idea of establishing a clear policy that nuclear weapons will not be used to threaten states that do not have nuclear weapons or an active nuclear program. Amazingly, since the end of the Cold War, both the United States and Russia have increased the circumstances under which they would be willing to use or threaten use of nuclear weapons. It is time the two countries recognize that such a policy has negative implications that could drive states to acquire nuclear weapons.
Russia and America have an important legacy of preventing proliferation of which they should be proud. It is a legacy that should be revived and focused on the core proliferation threats in Iran and elsewhere before the nuclear confrontation of the Cold War is replaced by a broader nuclear competition the two states will not find as easy to control.
Jon B. Wolfsthal, deputy director of the Nonproliferation Project at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, contributed this comment to The Moscow Times. http://www.daneshjoo.org/generalnews/article/publish/article_2069.shtml
posted on 09/02/2003 12:18:18 AM PDT
Pakistan Will Let Iran-India Pipeline Use Its Territory
Dow Jones - World News
Sep 1, 2003
KARACHI - Pakistan is willing to let a proposed Iran-India natural-gas pipeline use its territory, a govenment statement said Monday.
A feasibility study for the project has been conducted by Australia-based resources conglomerate BHP Billiton Ltd .
Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf told Philip Aiken, president of BHP Billiton Petroleum, that Pakistan was committed to facilitating the project by providing territory, the statement said.
According to the statement, Aiken said BHP has completed the technical feasibility study for the project, and has submitted it to the Iranian government, which is in talks with New Delhi about the project.
India has in the past has refused to take part in any energy pipeline involving Pakistan because of security concerns.
Military tensions, which brought the two countries to the brink of war last summer, have eased in recent months, but formal peace talks have yet to begin.
The statement also quoted BHP's Aiken as saying the company has completed phase one of the Zamzama Gas Development program four months ahead of schedule. The first phase of the project, which is situated in the south of Pakistan, cost $150 million.
The project will produce 320 million cubic feet a day in the first phase, while the output will rise to 500mcf a day in phase two.
Aitkin expressed BHP's keen interest in making further investment in Pakistan's oil and gas sector, the statement said. http://www.daneshjoo.org/generalnews/article/publish/article_2075.shtml
posted on 09/02/2003 12:19:32 AM PDT
Rumors of Bin Laden's Lair
September 02, 2003
Sami Yousafzai And Ron Moreau
Gray-bearded and almost toothless, Khan Kaka lives in a mud house with a weather-beaten pine door beside a little plot of corn and vegetables. But to his neighbors in this corner of Afghanistan's remote Kunar province, the gangling, tobacco-chewing old man is one of the most respected figures in the Pech River valley.
IT'S ALL ABOUT connections: since 1996 Kaka's son-in-law, an Algerian named Abu Hamza al Jazeeri, has been a special bodyguard to the man Kaka calls loar sheik--"big chief"--Osama bin Laden.
Every two months or so, al Jazeeri comes down from the mountains to visit his wife and three sons, who live with Kaka. "He appears and disappears like lightning," Kaka says. "I never know when he's coming or going." The old man and his neighbors listen eagerly to the latest news from the Qaeda leader's hideout. On a visit in January al Jazeeri reported that one of bin Laden's daughters-in-law had recently died in childbirth, and that bin Laden spoke at her funeral, blaming America for her death. Only a few dozen mourners could attend, not the thousands who would ordinarily pay their last respects. Bin Laden blamed America for that, too. "I had enough riches to enjoy myself like an Arab sheik," bin Laden said, according to al Jazeeri's account. "But I decided to fight against those infidel forces that want to sever us from our Islamic roots. For that cause, Arabs, Taliban and my family have been martyred." Kaka and his neighbors have memorized the eulogy. Asked where bin Laden is now, Kaka grins and waves without a word toward the 12,000-foot peaks surrounding the valley: up there.
No one seems to have a better answer. Two years after the September 11 attacks, the world's Most Wanted terrorist remains free. "We don't know where he is," says U.S. Army Col. Rodney Davis, spokesman for America's forces in Afghanistan. "And frankly, it's not about him. We'll continue to focus on killing, capturing and denying sanctuary to any anti-Coalition forces, whether they are influenced by bin Laden or not." Some U.S. officials speculate that life on the run has made it impossible for bin Laden to communicate with his followers, effectively turning him into a figurehead. "Bin Laden's operational role is not as important as it was to Al Qaeda and the Taliban," says a senior U.S. diplomat in Kabul. "But symbolically he is still very important."
He's more than that, according to senior Taliban officials contacted by NEWSWEEK in Pakistan and Afghanistan. They say bin Laden remains directly engaged as a strategist and financier for Al Qaeda, the Taliban and related groups. In April, shortly after the collapse of Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq, the Qaeda leader convened the biggest terror summit since September 11 at a mountain stronghold in Afghanistan. The participants included three top-ranking representatives from the Taliban, several senior Qaeda operatives and leaders from radical Islamic groups in Chechnya and Uzbekistan, according to a former Taliban deputy foreign minister. He got the details from a Taliban colleague who was there. Bin Laden, in a fiery mood, appointed one of his most trusted lieutenants, Saif al-Adil, to be Al Qaeda's chief of operations in Iraq. The leader handed the Egyptian-born al-Adel a letter of introduction, asking all religious leaders, businessmen and mujahedin to give him any support possible. Al-Adel left Afghanistan immediately. A few weeks later he was reported to be in neighboring Iran, where he is said to be under house arrest. The Taliban official nevertheless insists, contrary to American intelligence assessments, that al-Adel made it to Iraq and is organizing anti-U.S. operations.
At the same meeting bin Laden said he was working on "serious projects," another ranking Taliban source tells NEWSWEEK. "His priority is to use biological weapons," says the source, who claims that Al Qaeda already has such weapons. The question is only how to transport and launch them, he asserts. The source insists he doesn't know any further details but brags: "Osama's next step will be unbelievable." The plan was reportedly delayed and revised after the March capture of Al Qaeda's operations chief, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. U.S. intelligence officials say no one disputes bin Laden's interest in germ warfare. Nevertheless, they argue, his main priority is to kill Americans by any means readily at hand--and most bioweapons are harder to get and use than many of the alternatives.
No one but bin Laden himself knows exactly what he's planning. So where is he? "Up there," says Pashtun Momand, the police major in charge of Kunar province's counterterrorism office. He's pointing at the thickly forested mountains east of the tiny provincial capital. A few people deny that bin Laden is living there. The province's governor, Said Fazel Akbar, insists that U.S. and Afghan forces are in hot pursuit. "He may come to Kunar," Akbar says, "but he can't stay for long." His opinion is not widely held.
Bin Laden seems to be in good health, according to both the former Taliban deputy foreign minister and an Afghan named Haroon, who claims to have visited the Qaeda leader in June. Three of bin Laden's sons are said to be with him, sworn to kill their father rather than let him be captured alive. Two of his wives are said to be living nearby in the mountains, but not with him; he visits them when security allows. Taliban sources say the Qaeda leader communicates with his friends and followers via handwritten letters and computer disks delivered by relays of messengers. Each carrier knows only where to find the next link in the chain. The system is slow, but it keeps the Americans from using electronic intercepts to find him.
Bin Laden could hardly ask for a better hiding place. Even some American officials agree that Kunar is a likely refuge. The sparsely populated province isn't big--less than two thirds the land area of Connecticut--but it offers more comfort and protection for bin Laden than any other part of Afghanistan. "There is no effective central government control in the mountains beyond the capital," says Kunar's chief of police, Col. Abdul Saffa Momand (no relation to the major). The mountain roads are almost impassable; his men have no radios, and their families barely survive on their monthly salary of $14--when the paychecks come at all. "A soldier on patrol at night is risking his life for nothing," the colonel says. "It's impossible to access the areas where Al Qaeda is hiding," he adds. "Even from a helicopter you only see mountains, rocks and trees." Unlike the desert ranges that are typical in Afghanistan, Kunar's mountains are covered with evergreens and shrubs, and the terrain is crisscrossed with smugglers' trails leading over the border into Pakistan.
Kunar's population is, likewise, congenial to bin Laden. In recent decades the province has become home to more than a thousand Arab men, many of whom--like bin Laden's bodyguard al Jazeeri--have intermarried with local Afghans, gaining strong family ties in the region. At the height of the war against the Soviets in the 1980s, the CIA effectively ceded Kunar to the Arab volunteers who were pouring in to join the mujahedin. "We preferred that they operate in their own fief, and out of our way," says Edmund McWilliams, a retired State Department officer and Congress's special representative to the mujahedin during the late 1980s. In the last two years the mujahedin veterans have been joined by hundreds of Qaeda members and supporters uprooted from other parts of Afghanistan.
Bin Laden and his followers are living in relative comfort, officials in Kunar believe. Some may be huddled in the caves that honeycomb the mountains, but Major Momand's intelligence sources say others live openly in stone and mud houses built against the steep slopes, hidden by the trees and underbrush. Many of the dwellings have been renovated in the last two years. The Arabs share the mountains with Afghan nomads whose flocks of sheep and goats graze there. Shali Khan, together with his wife and two children, tends a herd of 150 sheep and goats, and often encounters columns of heavily armed Arabs traveling on horseback or on foot. He says he's glad to see them. "These Arabs are good people fighting the jihad," says Khan, who takes evident pride in his pointed mustache, despite his tattered clothes and mended sandals. "They pay me well for my animals and milk."
Bin Laden apparently feels safe enough to receive visitors--with precautions. In May an Afghan named Haroon asked permission to see the Qaeda leader. The young man is active in the Taliban's anti-U.S. resistance, and he had guided bin Laden from the besieged cave complex at Tora Bora to safety in the Shahikot Valley during the U.S. bombing in late 2001 ("How Al Qaeda Slipped Away," Aug. 19, 2002). The month after sending his request, Haroon got a message directing him to a place in the mountains north of his home in Paktia province. From there, he was taken higher into the mountains by a series of guides, each one greeting the next with a whispered password. After three days he was turned over to a group of Arabs. They strip-searched him, placed his ring, watch and shoes in a bag and closely inspected the buttons on his shirt.
He spent the night barefoot in a nearby cave. At sunrise two armed Arabs, their faces covered by scarves, escorted him to an old mud-and-rock house and told him to sit there and wait. Haroon says he felt afraid. Suddenly bin Laden arrived and spoke in Arabic, slowly and quietly, urging the young man to keep fighting. "The deserts of Afghanistan are being irrigated with the blood of mujahedin," he told Haroon. "But the jihad will never dry up." After about 15 minutes the visit ended. "Please don't try to see me again," bin Laden said.
Will he ever be caught? For more than a year, Afghanistan has been sinking deeper into poverty, chaos and despair while the White House focuses on Iraq. Al Qaeda and the Taliban have not wasted the chance to regroup. Now the administration is promising to double Afghanistan's reconstruction aid to $1.8 billion. Even loyal Republicans fear that it's not nearly enough. They know what happened the last time America ignored Afghanistan. The anniversary is next week.
With Mark Hosenball in Washington http://www.msnbc.com/news/959544.asp?0cv=KB10
Amal Blasts Iran, Hizbullah over Musa Sadr
September 02, 2003
The Daily Star
The Imam Musa Sadr Brigades on Monday accused officials in Iran and Hizbullah of concealing information pertaining to the murder of Imam Sadr and his two comrades.
According to a statement, the group, which is a hard-line wing of the Amal Movement, said they repeatedly asked Iranian and Hizbullah officials, secretly and publicly, to reveal the circumstances of the brutal crime and certain information that highlights the place of hiding of the imams corpse, adding that all their requests were in vain.
The group also said that hiding information makes Iran and Hizbullah accomplices in the crime, and we will make them pay for it.
Imam Musa Sadr, the founder of Amal, disappeared along with his two companions in 1978, during a visit to Libya.... http://www.dailystar.com.lb/02_09_03/art31.asp
Iran Lets Kazemi Suspects off Hook
September 02, 2003
Iranian prosecutors have dropped all charges against two Intelligence Ministry employees implicated in the death of a Montreal photojournalist, casting doubt on whether Tehran will find anyone criminally responsible for killing Zahra Kazemi.
Jafar Reshadati, Tehran's deputy prosecutor-general, threw out indictments issued on Aug. 25 against two women said to be complicit in the "semi-intentional murder" of Ms. Kazemi, 54, who died on July 10 after a long and violent interrogation by Iranian officials.
Mr. Reshadati said in a statement yesterday that investigations into the Iranian-born Canadian's death were incomplete "from the time of [Ms. Kazemi's] detention to the last opinion offered by the forensic medical committee [after her death]."
The prosecutor called for Judge Javad Esmaeili, who laid the initial charges, to reinvestigate the crime, but there was no date given for him to table his final report.
Bill Graham, Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs, said yesterday the withdrawal of the charges could be considered a positive development only if it leads to charges against those "directly implicated and responsible for Ms. Kazemi's death."
In a statement released in Toronto just before the Minister was to board a plane for Paris, Mr. Graham noted the "great skepticism" with which his office had viewed the now-dismissed charges, and said he would continue to press for an open investigation that punishes the proper people.
"Of course, I am not surprised they dropped the charges," said Ms. Kazemi's son, Stephan Hachemi of Montreal. "The arrests were just another diversion tactic by Iran, to make it seem like they were doing something."
While reports have differed on the occupations of those formerly charged -- they are said to be both health care workers and security agents -- no one has disputed they are junior employees who played only a partial role in Ms. Kazemi's interrogation.
Mr. Graham said last week Ottawa would not accept the theory that "two lower-level people would be responsible for Madame Kazemi's death without the orders of people from higher up."
Although he did not explicitly suggest a cover-up, Mr. Graham said Saeed Mortazavi, Tehran's powerful chief prosecutor, was "potentially implicated" in the murder.
However, a spokesman with the Iranian Foreign Ministry yesterday called Mr. Graham's comments "a little incomprehensible and slightly surprising," and said Iran was doing all it could to clear up the case.
Hamid-Reza Asefi told reporters in Tehran that Mr. Graham "should guard against exploiting this matter for a domestic audience and success at home."
Mr. Asefi noted that Tehran does not formally recognize Ms. Kazemi's dual citizenship and said "the Islamic republic will pursue this case until all aspects have been cleared up."
The Kazemi case has laid bare a wide rift between hardline Islamic elements in the Iranian judiciary system and reformist politicians led by Mohammad Khatami, the President. Hard-liners control Iran's police force, security agency and prosecutions office, which -- led by Mr. Mortazavi -- first said Ms. Kazemi died of a stroke.
A committee appointed by Mr. Khatami discredited that claim and found she had died of head injuries sustained while in custody. Ms. Kazemi was arrested on June 23 while photographing a notorious Tehran prison, was subjected to a 77-hour incarceration that included violent interrogations and died less than three weeks later in an Iranian hospital.
Last week, the case deteriorated into finger-pointing between officials in the reformist Intelligence Ministry and the hardline judiciary, with each side accusing the other of dealing the fatal blows.
A spokesman for Mr. Khatami said last week his government considered the "Intelligence Ministry clean and clear of any charges," while intelligence officials said they had provided Mr. Esmaeili with evidence proving the innocence of their employees, which he had ignored.
Observers fear Iran will find someone guilty of the murder simply to deflect international pressure.
Hamid Mojtahedi, a Toronto-based lawyer who is in Iran observing the case, told the National Post last week the two women were scapegoats. "I suspect that these people were not involved in any defining moment that culminated in Ms. Kazemi's unfortunate death," he said.
Ottawa has pushed for the right to participate in the judicial proceedings in hopes Canadian investigators will be able to get to the truth, but Mr. Graham has thus far refused to break diplomatic relations or invoke other sanctions.
Canada's sole act of official protest has been to recall its ambassador to Iran, Philip MacKinnon, although Mr. Graham suggested last week that the government would consider taking more aggressive action if it felt the Iranians were stonewalling.
"I would say next week, if we're still being stalled on the report, we'll examine then what we should be doing," he said.
Ottawa has asked the UN Human Rights Commission to take up the Kazemi case, and is considering the possibility of collaborating with European countries to bring a broader resolution on human rights in Iran before the UN General Assembly.
Kofi Annan, the UN Secretary-General, has reportedly said he was "highly concerned" about the circumstances surrounding Ms. Kazemi's death.
A Montreal art gallery last week opened an exhibition of Ms. Kazemi's work. Part of its proceeds will fund Mr. Hachemi's effort to have his mother's body returned to Canada. It was buried in Iran against his wishes. firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.nationalpost.com/home/story.html?id=2BF8DA07-D9FA-482D-A39C-3252A0BDFA05
Lawsuit Against the Islamic Regime of Iran for "Crimes against Humanity"
September 02, 2003
Iran va Jahan
On September 2, 2003, MEHR Iran will sponsor its 2nd conference in Remembrance of the Massacre of Thousands of Prisoners of Conscience by the Islamic Regime of Iran in summer of 1988. Based on MEHRs proposal, Amnesty International recognized September 1st as the universal memorial day for massacre victims during its 2003 General Meeting.
Fifteen years have passed since the Islamic regime of Iran brutally killed thousands of political prisoners so that it could continue its mediaeval despotic rule. MEHR is pleased to announce that on the fifteenth anniversary of this horrible day and after six years of hard work it has finally filed a law suite against the Islamic regime of Iran through the Center for Justice and Accountability.
This event is organized to inform the world community of this horrific crime, a crime that has been ignored for so many years. The objective of the conference is to unveil the crimes of the Islamic Regime, which is responsible for these and many other murderous acts. This conference will also emphasize the importance of seeking justice for the victims through international avenues.
In addition, this conference hopes to appeal to the freedom loving people of the world to help us stop the interest-driven Western governments from supporting the Islamic Regime.
Mission for Establishment of Human Rights in Iran
P.O. Box 2037, P.V.P., CA 90274
Tel: (310) 377- 4590 ; Fax: (310) 377- 3103
; URL: http://mehr.org
When: 7:00 PM Tuesday, September 2, 2003
What: MEHR Iran is pleased to announce the filing of a lawsuit against the Islamic Regime of Iran for Crimes against Humanity.
Details of this lawsuit will be disclosed by:
- The representatives of the Center for Justice and Accountability (CJA) and
- An Iranian victim
This lawsuit will be announced during MEHR Irans annual event in remembrance of massacre of political prisoners by the Islamic Regime of Iran in the summer of 1988.
Contact (MEHR IRAN): Dr. Nima Rasakoo, Tel: (310) 739-4215
Contact (CJA): Mr. Joshua Sondheimer, Litigation Director, Tel: (415) 544-0444
FURAMA HOTEL, REGENCY HALL
8601 LINCOLN BLVD
LOS ANGELES, CA 90045
7:00 7:10 Opening remarks
7:10 7:30 Video documentary on human rights violations by the Islamic Regime of Iran including stoning and body mutilation
7:30 - 8:15 Briefing by the plaintiff and the representatives of the Center for Justice and Accountability on the lawsuit
8:15 8:30 Remarks by Sean Butler, International Criminal Court Alliance, President
8:30 8:45 Remarks by Drewery Dyke, Amnesty International, London, via teleconference
8:45 9:00 Break
9:00 9:45 Discussions on the role of Iranians abroad to help the democracy movement in Iran through the formation of a voting block
9:45 -10:00 closing remarks http://www.mehr.org/
President Khatami Welcomes King Abdullah on First Visit to Iran
September 02, 2003
Middle East Online
King Abdullah II began the first visit to Iran by a Jordanian monarch in 25 years here Tuesday in what both countries consider an "important" step in improving bilateral relations.
President Mohammad Khatami welcomed the king to Tehran along with Prime Minister Ali Abu Ragheb and his minister of administrative development, Mohammad Halayka.
But neither leader made any statement during a photo-call at the Sadabad Palace in the north-east of the capital after a review of the Iranian guard of honour in the palace gardens.
Their meeting was only the second since they held talks on the fringes of the millennium summit in New York in September 2000.
They were expected to discuss the situation in post-war Iraq, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and bilateral issues, officials said.
Jordanian Information Minister Nabil Sharif earlier said the visit, which has been planned for a long time, "is important because it comes at a crucial time for the region".
"All Muslim countries need to coordinate their efforts and understand each other and try to come up with ways to look into the challenges facing the region," said Sharif.
"There are a lot of things that can be discussed and need to be discussed to promote economic cooperation and we expect that there will be some agreements to promote trade and tourism between two countries," Sharif said.
Jordan is particularly eager to woo Iranian tourists to the kingdom, which boasts many archeological sites, including the tombs of many of the companions of the Prophet Mohammed.
The two-day visit is seen in Amman and Tehran as an "important" step in improving relations between the two countries, which were restored in 1991 after a 10-year break, during which Iran criticised Abdullah's father, the late King Hussein, for supporting Baghdad in the 1980-1988 Iraq-Iraq war.
Although ties between the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and the Islamic Republic of Iran improved dramatically after Abdullah succeeded his father to the throne in February 1999, a diplomatic spat last year fueled tensions between them.
"We're completely over it. It is completely behind us now," a Jordanian foreign ministry source said about the diplomatic tiff that involved the recall of Jordan's ambassador in 2002.
At the time, Iranian newspapers charged that Ambassador Bassam Amush had angered the Iranian authorities by accusing Tehran of "interfering" in Jordan's "security issues".
Jordan, which has yet to replace Amush, who has retired, has consistently played down the incident and Iranian officials also appeared eager to push it under the rug.
"We hope that this visit will be a good beginning for the Jordanian and Iranian people and for Arab-Iranian relations and the region," Iran's ambassador to Jordan, Nasratallah Tajik, told Al Dustour newspaper last week.
His deputy, Mohammad Fafaee, meanwhile said the "visit is important in itself because it is the first time in about 25 years that a king from Jordan visits Iraq".
Fafaee also agreed that the visit will reflect the growing concern over the situations in post-war Iraq and the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories.
"The countries in the region have realised that it is good to have a channel of communication and a dialogue to plan for cooperation because everybody in this part of world have been a target of some sort of bombing and attack," Fafaee said.
"We are living in a very difficult situation ... which has led to the point that many countries in the region have become more concerned," he said. http://www.middle-east-online.com/english/?id=6908
U.N. Investigators Urge Judicial Reform in Iran
September 02, 2003
GENEVA -- A team of special United Nations investigators urged Iran on Tuesday to speed reform of its judicial system by transferring power from revolutionary and clerical courts to ordinary tribunals.
The many ''injustices and inconsistencies'' in the administration of the law stem from the proliferation of judicial bodies, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, an off-shoot of the Geneva-based Human Rights Commission, said in a report.
The judiciary is one of the main pillars of conservative power in Iran and has helped to frustrate President Mohammad Khatami's attempts to create more open rule in the Islamic Republic.
The hardline Guardian Council rejected in May a bill that would have enabled Khatami to have judiciary officials removed from office or to suspend court rulings he deemed to be unconstitional.
''The revolutionary tribunals...as well as the religious courts, should be abolished,'' the rights group said.
It noted that the revolutionary tribunals had been set up initially to judge ''collaborators'' with the former regime of the Shah, overthrown in the 1979 clerical revolution, and that there was ''no rationale'' for their continued existence.
The tribunals were responsible for many of the cases of arbitrary detention which frequently involved people arrested for expressing opinions, it added.
Similarly, the clerical courts, which like the revolutionary tribunals had no constitutional basis, had been established following the revolution to prosecute people who falsely set themselves up as clerics, the group said.
The team spent February 15-27 in Iran at the invitation of the government, which last year announced it would open its doors to all U.N. rights experts after years of refusing any sort of investigation into its record.
While welcoming the new policy and the cooperation they had received during their visit, the U.N. experts expressed concern at a number of developments since then, including further arrests of journalists. http://famulus.msnbc.com/FamulusIntl/reuters09-02-073536.asp?reg=MIDEAST
UNCHR : Turkey Deports Kurdish Refugees Back to Iran
September 02, 2003
Ayla Jean Yackley
ANKARA -- Turkey has deported several Iranian Kurdish refugees who had sought asylum after fleeing here from northern Iraq, the United Nations said on Tuesday.
Metin Corabatir, a spokesman for the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Ankara, said the Kurds' enforced return to Iran placed them at grave risk.
''The UNHCR sought and received verbal assurances this would not reoccur. We requested...assurances the refugees be readmitted if they return.''
Corabatir said it was not clear how many had been expelled and was unable to confirm reports that 12 people were deported.
Turkey's Foreign Ministry had no immediate comment.
Corabatir said some 1,200 Iranian Kurdish refugees have been living mainly in the eastern Turkish city of Van since leaving Iraq between 2000 and 2003.
Nearly all the deportees had first won U.N. asylum status in northern Iraq but left because of security fears.
After the 1991 Gulf War, northern Iraq passed out of Baghdad's control as an autonomous Kurdish area, though frictions existed between various groups. Since the overthrow of President Saddam Hussein it has been under U.S. occupation.
Corabatir said the U.N. had asked governments not to expel asylum seekers leaving war-torn Iraq.
Khalid Azizi of the Paris-based opposition Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (PDKI) said up to 40 refugees were detained on Saturday though not all were forced to leave.
''These are people who were politically active in Iran and had been given refugee status by the U.N. in northern Iraq after escaping from Iran,'' he said.
''In previous cases where Turkey has delivered Iranian Kurds who were politically active, people have been executed.'' http://famulus.msnbc.com/FamulusIntl/reuters09-02-082113.asp?reg=EUROPE
WHY IRAN PROTECTS AL-QAEDA?
By Nawaf Obaid*
BEIRUT (IPS) As the Saudi officials have stated that Iran has failed to hand over any of the al-Qaeda terrorist it is supposed to hold, a senior Saudi oil and security analyst said since the demise of the Taleban, Iran has become a sanctuary for al-Qaeda, making it the only place in the world where both Shiite and Sunni terrorists have found haven".
On Monday 24 August, press reports, citing Irans ambassador in Riyadh, Ali Asqar Haji, suggested that Iran had handed over to Saudi Arabia a number of al-Qaeda members. However, the individuals, like the 16 Saudis Iran turned over last year, are merely foot soldiers
But on Sunday, Saudi Arabian Interior Minister Amir Nayef Ben Abdelaziz, in an interview with the pan Arabic daily Al Hayat, denied the report, saying that so far Iran has refused to cooperate with Saudi Arabia over the al-Qaeda.
Irans refusal to grant access to over a dozen of senior Saudi-born al-Qaeda suspects is disturbing, says Mr. Nawaf Obaid, a senior Saudi oil and political analyst.
"What the Saudis want are the ringleaders of one of the last functioning al-Qaeda cells with regional command and control powers. Intelligence officials also believe that members of this group know the identities of dozens of al-Qaeda operatives dispersed in Saudi Arabia, Europe and the United States", according to Mr. Obaid.
That is why Saudi officials are keen to interrogate the suspects. In the last few months, however, Iran has hindered this effort.
"To be more precise, radical Iranian clerics have hindered these efforts. Irans moderate President, Mohammad Khatami, has promised to hand over the Saudi al-Qaeda suspects. However, Saudi security officials were twice rebuffed when arriving to pick them up", Mr. Nawaf Oaid wrote in the Beirut based The Daily Star.
In the most recent attempt, Prince Mohammad bin Nayef, the assistant Minister of Interior for Security Affairs (the highest civilian administrator of the Saudi Arabian General Security Service), was told he would not be allowed to see the prisoners. A senior general in the Saudi General Intelligence Presidency who oversees coordination with Irans Intelligence Ministry was furious. According to him people close to Ayatollah Ali Khameneh'i, the leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran are holding up the extradition because they fear theyll be implicated
"This episode highlights the strength of Khamenehi and the radical clerics who follow him. Khamenehi controls several powerful state security organs, including Irans Revolutionary Guards and the newly created Foreign Intelligence Service. Both report directly to Khamenehis Office of the Supreme Leader, entirely bypassing Khatamis government", Mr. Obaid added.
In the past few years, American, Saudi and other regional intelligence services have compiled a detailed dossier on the extremists within these institutions and their connections to international terrorism.
The 1996 Khobar bombing in Saudi Arabia serves as an example. Ali Fallahian, the former Iranian intelligence minister who is believed to have orchestrated the attack, now serves as a top adviser to Khamenehi. General Ahmad Sharifi, the "case officer" who oversaw the group that carried out the bombing, is an adviser to the Revolutionary Guards military operations chief. And Ibrahim al-Mughassil, the Saudi Shiite who organised the operation from Saudi Arabias Eastern Province, has found refuge in Iran with his two main accomplices.
Since the demise of the Taleban, Iran has become a sanctuary for al-Qaeda, making it the only place in the world where both Shiite and Sunni terrorists have found haven. US, Saudi and Pakistani intelligence officials have concluded that the radical wing of Irans Revolutionary Guards has harboured numerous top al-Qaeda operatives, of which the three most dangerous are Said al-Adel (Osama Ben Ladens chief of global operations), Saad Ben Laden (Osamas son and a regional al-Qaeda leader) and a third man who is yet to be identified. With help from Revolutionary Guards radicals, the so-called "Tehran trio" masterminded the recent suicide bombings in Riyadh that killed 34 and injured over 200, according to the analyst.
Since the bombing, Saudi intelligence officers have uncovered much information about al-Qaedas operations within the Kingdom and the groups connections to Iran.
One of the leaders of the cell that carried out the attacks, Ali Fagasi al-Ghamdi, has been talking to Saudi agents since he turned himself in last June. Ghamdi identified the Tehran trio as the masterminds of the bombing and Turki al-Dandani as the main leader of his cell (a cousin of Dandani is the unidentified third of the trio). Dandani was killed in the northern Saudi province of Jouf while attempting to flee to Iraq. Saudi intelligence officials believe he was heading to Iran, to reunite with his comrades.
Ghamdi has provided an inside view of the structure and operations of the al-Qaeda cells, of which eight to 10 are now believed to be operating in Saudi Arabia. Supposedly, Ghamdi and Dandani were sent to establish a new cell because al-Qaedas ranks had thinned and it lacked the manpower to carry out attacks in the kingdom.
But since al-Qaeda cells are purposely kept isolated from each other, only those who recruited and dispatched the operatives know their identities and plans. Perhaps dozens of militants can be traced back to the Tehran trio, and this explains why Saudi authorities are extremely anxious to interrogate them.
Unfortunately, Iranian "custody" of these individuals puts them effectively under the protection of the extremists. This may for a time shield Revolutionary Guards officers with blood on their hands, but in the long run an alliance between Iranian officials and al-Qaeda cannot hold.
"International pressure and domestic anger will eventually break the bond, especially if another terrorist attack can be attributed to the actions or inaction of Iranian officials. In that case, they may meet the same fate as the last group of radicals who made common cause with Al-Qaeda, the repressive Taleban thugs in Afghanistan", the author concluded. ENDS IRAN AL-QAEDA 11003
Editors note: Mr. Nawaf Obaid is a Saudi oil and security analyst. He is the author of a forthcoming book, "Saudi Arabia Since 9/11".
He wrote this commentary for The Daily Star
Highlights and some editorial works are from IPS http://www.iran-press-service.com/
Why We Must Win
August 31, 2003
The Washington Post
A recent visit to Iraq convinced me of several things. We were right to go to war to liberate Iraq. The Iraqi people welcome their liberation from tyranny. A free Iraq could transform the Middle East.
And failure to make the necessary political and financial commitment to build the new Iraq could endanger American leadership in the world, empower our enemies and condemn Iraqis to renewed tyranny.
If we are to avoid a debate over who "lost" Iraq, we must act urgently to transform our military success into political victory.
We fought a just war in Iraq to end the threat posed by a dictator with a record of aggression against his people and his neighbors and a proven willingness to use weapons of mass destruction against both.
Iraq's transformation into a progressive Arab state could set the region that produced Saddam Hussein, the Taliban, and al Qaeda on a new course in which democratic expression and economic prosperity, rather than a radicalizing mix of humiliation, poverty and repression, define a modernity in the Muslim world that does not express itself in ways that threaten its people or other nations. Conversely, a forced U.S. retreat from Iraq would be the most serious American defeat since Vietnam.
America's mission in Iraq is too important to fail. Given the stakes, we cannot launch this "generational commitment" to changing the Middle East on the cheap. The administration should level with the American people about the cost and commitment required to transform Iraq.
Americans must understand how important this mission is and be prepared to sacrifice to achieve it. Without an intensive campaign now to explain what is at stake and absent the necessary political and financial commitment, we raise the potential for a defeat that will deal a lasting blow to American interests and freedom's progress.
Having liberated Iraq, we must demonstrate the tangible benefits of occupation, which the Iraqi silent majority will tolerate if it successfully delivers services, law and order and a transition to Iraqi rule. The danger is that our failure to improve daily life, security, and Iraqis' participation in their own governance will erode their patience and fuel insurrection.
We do not have time to spare. If we do not meaningfully improve services and security in Iraq over the next few months, it may be too late. We will risk an irreversible loss of Iraqi confidence and reinforce the efforts of extremists who seek our defeat and threaten Iraq's democratic future.
Ambassador L. Paul Bremer, an able administrator, lacks resources and the political commitment to achieve his goal of Iraq's transformation. His operation is nearly broke, and he admits Iraq will need "tens of billions" of dollars for reconstruction next year alone. Yet there is an insufficient sense of urgency in Washington, and needs on the ground in Iraq are going unmet.
Security remains a serious problem in Iraq partly because, contrary to administration assurances, our military force levels are obviously inadequate. A visitor quickly learns in conversations with U.S. military personnel that we need to deploy at least another division. We need more foreign troops, particularly from Muslim allies such as Turkey and Pakistan, but security does not necessarily improve with each new country that deploys forces. It is the number and quality of military forces, not the number of countries that send them, that matters.
Iraq's reconstruction requires not simply more troops but a different mix of troops -- linguists, civil affairs officers, military police, engineers -- as well as a significant increase in civilian experts in development and democracy-building. The number of civilian advisers in Iraq is astonishingly low. I was struck by the near-unanimity of opinion among American officers in Iraq that civilian expertise -- on reconstruction, judicial reform and local governance -- is as important as our military presence.
I was also struck by the distrust many Iraqis hold for the United Nations. It is questionable whether U.N. authority over Iraq's political transition would enhance its legitimacy. A U.N. peacekeeping force like the one that stood by as thousands of Bosnians were massacred at Srebrenica would not inspire the Iraqi people's confidence. U.N. blessing of the occupation authority, recognition of the Iraqi Governing Council and advising on Iraq's reconstruction could help in soliciting foreign troops and reconstruction aid, but U.N. primacy would endanger Iraq's transformation.
Iraqis must have a greater role in determining their future. Training a new Iraqi army, civil defense force and police force is critical. We should be equally aggressive in training and advising political parties, transferring more authority to Iraqi leaders and establishing a framework and timeline for a political transition.
Let there be no doubt: Iraq remains the central battle in the war on terror. We must succeed in Iraq because every bad actor in the Middle East -- Baathist killers, terror's sponsors in Iran and Syria, terror's financiers in Saudi Arabia, terror's radical Shiite and Wahhabi inciters, the terrorists of al Qaeda, Ansar al-Islam, Hamas and Hezbollah -- has a stake in our failure. They know Iraq's transformation would be a grave and perhaps fatal setback to them.
Iraq must be important to us because it is so important to our enemies. That's why they are opposing us so fiercely, and why we must win.
The writer is a Republican senator from Arizona. http://iranvajahan.net/cgi-bin/news.pl?l=en&y=2003&m=09&d=02&a=10
The Terror Network is United
September 02, 2003
National Review Online
The Latest Horrors
Anyone who has worked on terrorism for the past 20 years will recognize the murderous techniques employed in the most-recent monster bombings at the Jordanian embassy, the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad, and the shrine of Ali in Najaf. They all bear the imprint of Hezbollah's infamous chief of operations, Imad Mughniyah, the same man who organized the terrible mass murders at the U.S. Marine barracks and the American embassy in Beirut in the mid-1980s, and also, in all probability, the bombing of the Jewish community center in Buenos Aires a decade later. And this conviction is strengthened by the news that Mughniyah who has changed his face, his fingerprints, and his eye color, since he knows he's one of the most-hunted men on earth has been in Iraq for several weeks.
There is great reluctance in high quarters of Western governments to come to grips with the fact that the Lebanese Hezbollah is engaged in such actions, because they have convinced themselves that Hezbollah is primarily a social-welfare organization, and that its military arm has not operated against Americans for nearly two decades. They have not accepted the fact that there are many Hezbollahs, one of which is now growing in Iraq, under the leadership of the young Sheikh Muqtada al-Sadr, who was named chief of Iraqi Hezbollah by Iran's strongman Mohammed Hashemi Rafsanjani several months ago. And, as luck would have it, the young sheikh just happened to be absent from Friday prayers at the shrine of Ali when the car bombs went off.
The terror network is more complex, and far more united, than most of our analysts have been willing to accept.
Prior to moving into Iraq, Mughniyah had been closeted with his various allies in Tehran, where he met with other members of the terror galaxy, including al Qaeda's Ayman al-Zawahiri and Saad bin Laden (and most likely with his dad, Osama), and also Abu Musaf Zarkawi, the Jordanian named by Secretary of State Colin Powell as an example of the coordination between Saddam's regime and al Qaeda. Zarkawi has also moved into Iraq in recent days, as has the legendary Anis Naccache, who organized the assassination of former Iranian President Shahpour Bakhtiar in the 1980s, and was graciously released from prison by the affable government of France.
Many of our analysts are currently falling into one of those linguistic traps that Ludwig Wittgenstein used to warn us about. They constantly ask, "which organization do these terrorists come from?" But they should be asking the empirical question: "Does it still make sense to talk about separate terrorist organizations?" I have been arguing for the better part of two years that we should think of the terrorists as a group of mafia families that have united around a single war plan. The divisions and distinctions of the past no longer make sense; the terror mafias are working together, and their missions are defined by the states that protect, arm, fund, and assist them: Iran, Syria, and Saudi Arabia.
The best mafia killers are all operating in Iraq, from Mughniyah (constantly on the move) to Naccache and Zarkawi (both in Baghdad as of the end of last week). They are getting support from the three surviving terror masters in Damascus, Tehran, and Riyadh, as well as increasing assistance from our old friend, Libya's Muammar Qadaffi. In the last ten days of August, more than 3,000 terrorist operatives crossed from Iran to Iraq, despite recent Coalition efforts to "seal the border." Some of them have been detected by Iraqi security forces, who have found that the Iranians have co-opted members of some of the organizations we have nominated to govern the country. According to the London Times (August 28):
Members of two leading Shia parties in Iraq's United States-appointed Governing Council are helping to smuggle thousands of Iranians into Iraq in an illegal trade that has opened the frontier to terrorists, border police say...SCIRI and Islamic Dawa...set up floating border posts in the desert and were providing guides to ferry pilgrims past official border controls to reach the holy Shia cities...
A man described by the Times as a "senior Iraqi former exile" grimly remarked that "Iran is winning this war, not America" and asserted that Iranian Shiites were working hand-in-glove with armed Sunni groups. And a Mr. Dawoud (head of customs at Munthriya) agreed: "We didn't get rid of Saddam just to give Iraq to these people....Nobody is stopping them. Soon it will be too late."
Similar stories could be told about Syria and Saudi Arabia, but Iran remains the lynchpin of the terror network, and its leaders are engaged in a life-or-death struggle with us in Iraq, knowing that if we succeed, they are doomed. Once upon a time, the mullahs were known for their elegant cunning, but with the passage of time they have become palpably more desperate and thus more rigid. Nothing shows their desperation more clearly than the celebrated murder of the Canadian/Iranian journalist, Zahra Kazemi. She had been taking photographs of the demonstrations in Tehran in June, and was arrested by the regime's thugs. They raped and beat her to death, and what passes for the international community demanded justice. The mullahs responded by organizing a quick funeral in Tabriz (forbidding her son to take his mother's body back to Canada), and arresting two low-level functionaries. But over the weekend, the charges were dropped, and a new investigation was promised.
Such Iranian promises are as reliable as their recent undertaking to send al Qaeda terrorists back to Saudi Arabia. Saudi Interior Minister Prince Nayif bin Abd al-Aziz al-Saud announced on August 30 that none of the Saudis detained in Iran have been sent to Saudi Arabia. Needless to say, none of the al Qaeda terrorists we have been asking for have been seen this side of the Caspian Sea, nor will they until and unless the mullahs are removed from power.
Which leaves us with the usual questions for the secretary of state and his henchmen who are supposed to design an effective Iran policy: Why are you still negotiating with this evil regime? How many Iranians, Iraqis, Americans, and Englishmen have to be murdered by the mullahs before you accept the plain facts about the Iranian regime, and commit this country to the liberation of the Iranian people? Or do we have to await even greater catastrophes, and then have to confront religious fanatics armed with atomic bombs?
Michael Ledeen, an NRO contributing editor, is most recently the author of The War Against the Terror Masters. Ledeen is resident Scholar in the Freedom Chair at the American Enterprise Institute. http://www.nationalreview.com/ledeen/ledeen090203.asp
Wolfowitz: Support Our Troops
September 02, 2003
The Wall Street Journal
When terrorists exploded a bomb outside a shrine in Najaf last week, they killed scores of Muslims who had gathered for prayers -- including one of Iraq's foremost Shiite leaders, who had been playing a key role in stabilizing post-Saddam Iraq.
Similarly, when a bomb detonated in the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad recently, those killed and injured were innocent men and women -- including Iraqis -- who were engaged in the humanitarian mission of rebuilding Iraq.
But those victims weren't the only targets. Terrorists were aiming a blow at something they hate even more -- the prospect of a country freed from their control and moving to become an Iraq of, by, and for the Iraqi people. Terrorists recognize that Iraq is on a course towards self-government that is irreversible and, once achieved, will be an example to all in the Muslim world who desire freedom, pointing a way out of the hopelessness that the extremists feed on. And so, they test our will, the will of the Iraqi people, and the will of the civilized world.
While we can't yet fix blame for this most recent act of terrorism, we do know this: Despite their differences, the criminal remnants of Saddam's sadistic regime share a common goal with foreign terrorists -- to bring about the failure of Iraqi reconstruction and take the country back to the sort of tyrannical prison from which it has just been freed. The recent broadcast of a taped message by an alleged al Qaeda spokesman offered congratulations to "our brothers in Iraq for their valiant struggle against the occupation, which we support and urge them to continue."
Anyone who thinks that the battle in Iraq is a distraction from the war on terror should tell it to the Marines of the 1st Marine Division who comprised the eastern flank of the force that fought its way to Baghdad last April. When I met recently with their commander, Maj. General Jim Mattis in Hillah, he said that the two groups who fought most aggressively during the major combat operations were the Fedayeen Saddam -- homegrown thugs with a cult-like attachment to Saddam -- and foreign fighters, principally from other Arab countries. The exit card found in the passport of one of these foreigners even stated that the purpose of his "visit" to Iraq was to "volunteer for jihad."
We face that poisonous mixture of former regime loyalists and foreign fighters today.
Even before the bombing of the U.N. headquarters, if you'd asked Gen. Mattis and his Marines, there was no question in their minds that the battle they wage -- the battle to secure the peace in Iraq -- is now the central battle in the war on terrorism. It's the same with the commander of the Army's 1st Armored Division, Brig. Gen. Martin Dempsey, who recently described that second group as "international terrorists or extremists who see this as the Super Bowl." They're going to Iraq, he said, "to take part in something they think will advance their cause." He added, "They're wrong, of course." Among the hundreds of enemy that we have captured in the last months are more than 200 foreign terrorists who came to Iraq to kill Americans and Iraqis and to do everything they can to prevent a free and successful Iraq from emerging. They must be defeated -- and they will be.
Our regional commander, Gen. John Abizaid, head of Central Command, echoed Gen. Dempsey, placing in larger perspective the battle in Iraq. He said, "The whole difficulty in the global war on terrorism is that this is a phenomenon without borders. And the heart of the problem is in this particular region, and the heart of the region happens to be Iraq. If we can't be successful here, we won't be successful in the global war on terrorism." Success in Iraq will not be easy. According to Gen. Abizaid, it will be long, hard and sometimes bloody; but "it is a chance, when you combine it with initiatives in the Arab/Israeli theater and initiatives elsewhere, to make life better, to bring peace to an area where people are very, very talented and resources are abundant, especially here in Iraq."
Foreign terrorists who go to Iraq to kill Americans understand this: If killing Americans leads to our defeat and the restoration of the old regime, they would score an enormous strategic victory for terrorism -- and for the forces of oppression and intolerance, rage and despair, hatred and revenge. Iraqis understand this. Alongside us, they are working hard to fight the forces of anger and hopelessness and to seize this historic opportunity to move their country forward.
Just as in the Cold War, holding the line in Berlin and Korea was not just about those places alone. It was about the resolve of the free world. Once that resolve was made clear to the Soviets, communism eventually collapsed. The same thing will happen to terrorism -- and to all those who have attempted to hijack Islam and threaten America and the rest of the free world, which now includes Iraq. They will see our resolve and the resolve of the free world. Then they, too, will take their place on the ash heap of history.
America's troops and our coalition partners are determined to win -- and they will win, if we continue to give them the moral and material support they need to do the job. As the president said recently, our forces are on the offensive. And as Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. John Keane said in congressional testimony, "They bring the values of the American people to this conflict. They understand firmness, they understand determination. But they also understand compassion. Those values are on display every day as they switch from dealing with an enemy to taking care of a family."
I saw the troops in Iraq, and Gen. Keane is absolutely right. I can tell you that they, above all, understand the war they are fighting. They understand the stakes involved. And they will not be deterred from their mission by desperate acts of a dying regime or ideology.
* * *
Not long ago, a woman named Christy Ferer traveled to Iraq along with the USO. She'd lost her husband Neil Levin at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, and she wanted to say thank you to the troops in Baghdad. She wrote a wonderful piece about her trip, and in it, she wondered why our soldiers would want to see her, when they could see the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders, movie stars and a model. When the soldiers heard that a trio of Sept. 11 family members were there, she found out why.
Young men and women from across America rushed to the trio, eager to touch them and talk to them. One soldier, a mother of two, told Christy she'd enlisted because of Sept. 11. Another soldier displayed the metal bracelet he wore, engraved with the name of a victim of 9/11. Others came forward with memorabilia from the World Trade Center they carried with them into Baghdad. And when it was Christy's turn to present Gen. Tommy Franks with a piece of steel recovered from the Trade Towers, she saw this great soldier's eyes well up with tears. Then, she watched as they streamed down his face on center stage before 4,000 troops.
To those who think the battle in Iraq is a distraction from the global war against terrorism . . . tell that to our troops.
Mr. Wolfowitz is deputy secretary of defense. http://iranvajahan.net/cgi-bin/news.pl?l=en&y=2003&m=09&d=02&a=12
The Importance of Nudging Iran to Nuclear Disclosure
September 03, 2003
The Christian Science Monitor
SALT LAKE CITY Though attention last week was focused on North Korea and its nuclear threat, the coming week will bring us front and center with Iran, another of George Bush's "axis of evil" concerns.
On Monday in Vienna, at a UN atomic energy agency meeting, the United States will seek to nudge Iran toward full disclosure of its troubling nuclear development program. Iran doesn't deny it has such a program, but protests that it is for peaceful purposes. The US and a number of other countries are highly skeptical and suspect Iran is developing nuclear weaponry.
Suspicion has been heightened by a report last week that United Nations inspectors have found traces of highly enriched uranium at an Iranian nuclear facility. This could mean that Iran has already produced weapons-grade nuclear materials.
The US is expected to argue before the 35-member board of governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency that Iran should be found in noncompliance with the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. A consequence of such a finding might be a variety of actions by the UN Security Council, including sanctions. But other members of the board, some with substantial trade and economic interests in Iran, have been reluctant to confront Iran, and the outcome of any US initiative is not certain.
The uranium traces found by the UN inspectors were at a sophisticated uranium-enrichment plant in Natanz. Existence of the plant became known last year. Enriched uranium can be used for peaceful purposes, but highly enriched uranium is needed to produce bombs. The Iranian explanation of the presence of highly enriched uranium is that it may have come from equipment it bought from another country.
The UN inspectors reported that additional work is needed to check out Iran's story. This gives those countries that seek to block the UN's condemnation of Iran some leverage to postpone action next week.
Others are concerned that Iran is simply using delaying tactics while it continues to develop a nuclear-weapons capability. An article in the current issue of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists by David Albright and Corey Hinderstein says, "Worries about Iranian nuclear activities were heightened in early July after Iran conducted a successful test of the Shahab-3 missile, which can carry a 2,200-pound payload as far as 1,500 kilometers. The timing of Iran's announcement about the Shahab-3 and the size of its payload suggest that the missile is intended to carry a nuclear warhead."
The Israelis have long considered Iran to offer a more potentially dangerous nuclear threat than Iraq. Shimon Peres, a former Israeli prime minister recently described Iran as the "largest terror nucleus in the Middle East," possessing a selection of nuclear resources that put it right behind North Korea in nuclear capability. "There is no greater danger," Mr. Peres wrote in The Wall Street Journal, "than the conjunction of an evil regime with nuclear capabilities."
The European Union has similarly expressed concern about the threat to international security posed by Iran. A coalition of the concerned has sought to enlist the influence of Russia in persuading Iran to permit more than the present limited inspection afforded the IAEA inspectors. But Russia is conflicted. It has major economic interests in Iran, notably the construction of a big electricity-generating reactor at Bushehr.
Meanwhile, Iran plays a cat-and-mouse game with those who suspect it of developing nuclear weaponry. It dissembles and prevaricates about highly questionable activities that seem to indicate such a clandestine program is under way.
Why, for example, is it building a heavy-water research reactor at Arak, when light-water reactors are what it needs for its peaceful energy program? A heavy-water reactor can make plutonium for nuclear bombs. What is going on at the Kalaye Electric Company in Tehran, which the Iranians are reluctant to open up to UN inspectors? It is reported to be the plant where key centrifuge components are made.
All this is going on at a time of considerable political instability in Iran. The influence of its conservative clerics upon a new generation of modern Iranians is diminishing. The Iranian revolution seems to be running out of steam. Thousands of young Iranians have dared in recent months to demonstrate against the regime.
Otherwise absorbed in Afghanistan and Iraq, the US seems content to let this play out without attempting any overt intervention. That is a sensible posture.
But proof of a threatening nuclear capacity in Iran could harden US policy toward that country. Thus is underlined the importance of next week's diplomacy in Vienna.
John Hughes, editor and chief operating officer of the Deseret Morning News, is a former editor of the Monitor. http://www.csmonitor.com/2003/0903/p09s01-cojh.html
Deported Iranian missing
Age - By Meaghan Shaw
Sep 3, 2003
Amnesty International is trying to find an Iranian man who was forcibly returned home under a deal between the Australian Government and Iran.
Refugee advocates hold grave fears for the man, who promised to ring a friend in Australia when he arrived in Iran after being removed last month. He has not been heard from since.
Amnesty's Australian office has forwarded details of the man to its international secretariat in London, which is investigating.
It may issue a worldwide alert if the man cannot be traced.
A former room-mate at Port Hedland detention centre, Babak Ahmadi, said the missing man came from a politically active family: a brother was in Tehran's Evin prison, another had sought refuge in Europe and an uncle was executed.
Mr Ahmadi said he expected the Iranian Government to harass the missing man.
The investigation comes as the Government renews its offer of money to Iranians in detention who voluntarily return home.
Earlier this year, detainees were given 28 days to accept a reintegration package of $2000 to voluntarily return or be forcibly removed. This week, they were offered $1000 and given 14 days to accept.
Greens national refugee spokeswoman Pamela Curr said it proved Australia's agreement with Iran was a bluff to get detainees to give up their claims for asylum and go home.
The Australian Government last month forcibly removed two Iranians who failed to gain refugee status and would not voluntarily accept the Government's repatriation offer.
One of the returnees has said he was interrogated by Iranian intelligence officers for five hours on arrival. http://www.daneshjoo.org/generalnews/article/publish/article_2097.shtml
The least favourite son of the ayatollahs
Financial Times - By Nigel Andrews
Sep 2, 2003
No mantelpiece should take such punishment. Jafar Panahi may be the most guerdoned Iranian filmmaker of his generation. In seven years he has collected a Camera d'Or at Cannes (The White Balloon), a Golden Leopard at Locarno (Mirror), a Golden Lion at Venice (The Circle) and half a dozen other major/minor baubles. Probably the only time the mantelpiece is cleared is when ayatollahs drop round for tea.
They don't like his work at all: especially the later dissident stuff. The Circle never opened in Iran, although Panahi mobilised press support for a months-long battle with the censors over his tale of three women prisoners, released into the community, who find that the greatest prison of all is their own country. "It was only thanks to the media that the film got to Venice at all," he says, while pointing out that since that time "16 or 17 independent newspapers in Iran have been put out of business or taken over by the government".
His new film, Crimson Gold, was smuggled into this year's Cannes Film Festival in a suitcase. Arriving in time to show on a sideshow's last day, it won the sideshow's main prize. Now he is arguing with the government over cuts.
In the story of a plump, ageing pizza-delivery boy experiencing mental meltdown, caused by stress and social humiliation in a capital city teeming with inequity and oppression, Panahi and his no less eminent screenwriter Abbas Kiarostami (maker of Ten and Taste of Cherries) spare no critiques. Greed, envy and class tensions are rife. Police and government stooges are everywhere, enforcing the rule of a punitive puritanism. In one extraordinary sequence the hero witnesses the harassment and successive arrests of partygoers leaving a middle-class apartment block. Some westerners, Panahi has learned after showing his film at Cannes and Edinburgh, have difficulty even understanding this scene.
"Here in the west you have parties, you drink naturally. In our country no one can drink alcohol. Women cannot socialise freely, even indoors, with men outside their family. The authorities object to my showing this scene. But my argument to them is: 'Listen, if you're against the situation that exists, why don't you stop doing it? And if you're for it, you should be proud my film shows you arresting people!' "
Panahi sits with me and a translator in a semi-darkened auditorium at the ICA in London, delivering tales and opinions I am amazed he can utter with impunity even 2,000 miles from home. His catalogue of government obstructions and perversities goes on, even when I mention the one movie he was able to show to his countryfolk, the lauded The White Balloon, a key work of New Iranian Cinema.
Though the film was passed uncensored in Iran, partly because its touching tale of a little girl losing a wad of money entrusted to her by mum to buy a goldfish was deemed a "children's story", Panahi was frustrated in his bid to win a Best Foreign Film Oscar. The government withdrew it from contention in protest against America's then well-publicised anti-Iranian propaganda campaign. "So again I had no control over what I could do with my movie," Panahi shrugs.
The White Balloon wasn't really a children's film at all. Its brimming fresco of street life, of the daily clash of hope and adversity in a Tehran where the well-heeled jostle with the hand-to-mouth, was reminiscent, like much modern Iranian moviemaking, of Italian neorealism.
Panahi accepts the comparison - in part. "In both cases you have nonprofessional actors and real locations. But that is because a similar set of historical circumstances produced a similar national cinema. The condition of Italy after the war created the atmosphere in which such filmmaking happens. In Iran too after the Iran-Iraq war in '88 there were restrictions and difficulties we wanted to talk about. Both cinemas tried to focus on real daily existence, to give a documentary picture of how people live."
Panahi once said: "There are no evil characters in my films." He still believes that evil, if it exists, is more a matter of social and political pressures than of people. "Each human being is formed of all the conditions that made him. Had I followed any other character in Crimson Gold, a policeman or a security guard, maybe I'd also have found out that they're living in conditions that compel them to accept things or do things they wouldn't if they felt free to choose."
The new film's protagonist is free after a fashion - "the final decision to act is the individual's" - but the director deliberately picked an actor whose lumbering heavy-lidded presence suggests the numbness and anomie of despair. "I always look for an actor in the field his character belongs to in the script. So we went to all the pizza-delivery places, and through the door of one came this huge guy whose presence, height, weight, slowness, voice convinced us he was the right guy."
In Hossein Emadeddin's performance a Wozzeck-like hero emerges, primal and almost pre-cognitive, his mental disequilibrium palpable. The actor himself, says Panahi, "was schizophrenic. He was on medication. This created problems during shooting [such as his not showing up on several days]. But maybe the tensions helped to get out of him what we wanted."
The film's climactic scene of a botched crime and murder, with horrifying payoff, was snatched from a real newspaper story. But its power on screen, intensified by being filmed in a single take, comes from the sense that it has surfaced from some grim, deep soup of human complexity and that the director has done nothing to enhance tragic reality with tricks of style or narrative.
"My teacher at film school used to say that when you make a shot you must have said everything you want to say by the end of it. I don't bombard the audience with different shots. I want them to concentrate, to enter in, to think. I don't want them to be aware of the camera or the editing process or the set. I want them to enter a world and see reality." http://search.ft.com/search/article.html?id=030903000950&query=iran&vsc_appId=totalSearch&state=Form
Political blow to Iranian president
Sep 2, 2003
The vote was more a signal to hardliners than to Khatami Iran's reformist president, Mohammed Khatami, has received a setback in the country's parliament after his nominee for higher education minister was rejected.
President Khatami had argued strongly for Reza Faraji-Dana following the resignation of the outgoing minister in the wake of campus disturbances and student arrests in July.
A strong and decisive yes vote, he told parliament, would mean a show of support for the reformist government's policies in the fields of science and research. But when it came to the vote - and despite its own reformist majority - the parliament, or Majlis, gave Mr Khatami the thumbs down. Only 88 of the deputies approved the new nominee, while 127 voted against. It was clearly a blow to the president. However, the real object of the deputies' displeasure was not Mr Khatami himself but the entrenched hardliners who have made it impossible for either his government or the Majlis itself to make much progress in enacting reforms. Outside interference That was the reason for the resignation of the outgoing minister, Mustafa Moin.
The deputies clearly wanted to signal their sympathy for him and not to let his demise pass smoothly. Mr Moin resigned in the aftermath of disturbances in July, which led to the arrest of large numbers of students.
Their treatment was one of the reasons he gave for standing down. But he also cited interference by what he called outside forces in the fields of higher education. His plans for university reform were passed by the parliament but turned down by the unelected and highly conservative Council of Guardians. It has the right to vet and veto legislation.
In his appearance before parliament, Mr Khatami expressed regret at the continued detention of a number of students. He said he hoped their release would be a gift to the new minister. However, if that was intended to sway the deputies in favour of the new nominee it did not work. http://www.daneshjoo.org/generalnews/article/publish/article_2083.shtml
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