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Iranian Alert -- September 17, 2003 -- IRAN LIVE THREAD PING LIST
The Iranian Student Movement Up To The Minute Reports ^
Posted on 09/17/2003 12:03:39 AM PDT by DoctorZIn
The regime is working hard to keep the news about the protest movment in Iran from being reported.
From jamming satellite broadcasts, to prohibiting news reporters from covering any demonstrations to shutting down all cell phones and even hiring foreign security to control the population, the regime is doing everything in its power to keep the popular movement from expressing its demand for an end of the regime.
These efforts by the regime, while successful in the short term, do not resolve the fundamental reasons why this regime is crumbling from within.
Iran is a country ready for a regime change. If you follow this thread you will witness, I believe, the transformation of a nation. This daily thread provides a central place where those interested in the events in Iran can find the best news and commentary.
Please continue to join us here, post your news stories and comments to this thread.
Thanks for all the help.
TOPICS: Extended News; Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: iran; iranianalert; protests; studentmovement; studentprotest
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posted on 09/17/2003 12:03:39 AM PDT
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posted on 09/17/2003 12:04:48 AM PDT
Pressure on Iran over nuke programme is anti-Islamic
Tuesday, September 16, 2003 - ©2003 IranMania.com
TEHRAN, Sep 16 (AFP) -- Iran's powerful former president, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, has accused the United States of being anti-Muslim by pressuring Tehran over its nuclear programme, the state news agency IRNA reported Tuesday.
"They are pressuring us because they do not want the Islamic world to be equipped with up-to-date science and technology," Rafsanjani, who heads Iran's top political arbitration body, was quoted as saying.
"If Iran's regime were not an Islamic one, the US would definitely not try to stop our nuclear activities," the charismatic cleric told a gathering in the northeastern city of Mashhad.
His remarks on the nuclear stand-off came after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) called on Tehran Friday to suspend its uranium enrichment program, reveal whether it was enriching uranium to weapons-grade level and accept an additional protocol to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treatythat would allow for unannounced IAEA spot checks.
Iran has fiercely denied US allegations that it is using an ambitious atomic energy project as a cover to develop nuclear weapons. http://www.iranmania.com/News/ArticleView/Default.asp?NewsCode=18048&NewsKind=Current%20Affairs
posted on 09/17/2003 12:09:35 AM PDT
Islamic regime puts its docile National-Religious "opponents" under spotlight
SMCCDI (Information Service)
Sep 16, 2003
The Islamic republic regime is placing, once again, its docile National-Religious "opponents" under the spotlight according to its well known demagogic policy. Such policy intends to focus the World's attention on the smallest part of the opposition to the regime which has no real support among the population but which is very close to the regime's so-called "reformist" stands.
Based on such policy, the Islamic republic regime has brought to its so-called justice several members of the National-Religious opposition for their "leading role" in the waves of unrests which rocked main Iranian cities during last June.
The reality is that the absolute majority of students and Iranians who were protesting last June are seeking the complete overthrown of the Theocratic system and are qualifying the regime's "reformists" and its National-Religious opponents as alike.
These protesters, reported as thousands by most foreign journalists, were seeking a National Referundum, under UN monitoring, for choosing the he frame of future "secular" Iranian regime.
It's to note that thousands of Secularist Iranians are languishing in jails while the Clerical regime is undertaking this new desperate mediatic effort in order to promote the National Religious faction as its main source of opposition. http://www.daneshjoo.org/generalnews/article/publish/article_2392.shtml
posted on 09/17/2003 12:12:01 AM PDT
ARGENTINE PROVIDES DOCUMENTS INVOLVING EX IRANIAN DIPLOMAT
ROME 16 Sept. (IPS)
With the next trial of Mr. Hadi Soleymanpour due on 19 September, the Argentinean Judge that has issued an international warrant against him and eight other officials from the Islamic Republic of Iran has send a 600 pages document to a London Court that tries him, according to Argentine press.
Mr. Soleymanpour, a former Iranian ambassador to Argentine is accused by Judge Juan Jose Galeano to have participated in the bombing of the Jewish Centre in Buenos Aires on July 1994, killing more than eighty people and wounding 300 others.
Tehran has vehemently denied the charges, stating that the accusation is politically motivated and taken under heavy pressures from Washington and Tel-Aviv.
The ex-diplomat was arrested on 21 August in Durham, north of England, where he is a research student at the citys prestigious university and was held in a prison in London, but was released last week on a 750.000 British Pounds of bail by an Appeal Court, requiring Mr. Galeano to provide more convincing documents concerning Mr. Soleymanpour activities in the bombing.
To protest the arrest of Mr. Soleymanpour, Iran recalled briefly his Envoy from Britain and cut all trade and cultural ties with Buenos Aires.
According to Mr. Ahmad Rafat, a Rome Correspondent for "Radio Farda" (Tomorrow), the Persian service of the Prague-based Radio Free Europe-Radio Liberty, Judge Galeano has told "La Nacion" daily that he is determined to have Mr. Soleymanpour prosecuted and eventually secure his extradition to Argentine.
Besides Mr. Soleymanpour, Interpol also seeks Irans former Intelligence Minister Hojjatoleslam Ali Fallahian and Hojjatoleslam Mohsen Rabbani, the then Irans cultural attaché at the Iranian embassy in Buenos Aires.
Though Mr. Galeano had issued his international warrant on early August, it is not known why Mr. Soleymanpour did not left Britain on time, or why the Iranian authorities did not ordered him back home immediately?
Shelved for lack of sufficient proof under President Carlos Menem, accused by some American papers of receiving a 10 million US Dollars bribe from Tehran, the case was re-activated after Mr. Nestor Kirchner became President, promising that he would bring all the culprits to trial. ENDS DIPLOMAT ARRESTED 16903 http://www.iran-press-service.com/
posted on 09/17/2003 12:18:03 AM PDT
An interesting piece on corruption in the media. -- DoctorZin
John Burns: 'There Is Corruption in Our Business'
'NY Times' Writer on the Terror of Baghdad
SEPTEMBER 15, 2003
Editor & Publisher
The following are the words of New York Times correspondent John F. Burns, on his experiences reporting from Baghdad during the war. Excerpted from the book Embedded: The Media at War in Iraq, an Oral History by Bill Katovsky and Timothy Carlson, published this week by The Lyons Press, used with permission.
From the point of view of my being in Baghdad, I had more authority than anybody else. Without contest, I was the most closely watched and unfavored of all the correspondents there because of what I wrote about terror whilst Saddam Hussein was still in power.
Terror, totalitarian states, and their ways are nothing new to me, but I felt from the start that this was in a category by itself, with the possible exception in the present world of North Korea. I felt that that was the central truth that has to be told about this place. It was also the essential truth that was untold by the vast majority of correspondents here. Why? Because they judged that the only way they could keep themselves in play here was to pretend that it was okay.
There were correspondents who thought it appropriate to seek the approbation of the people who governed their lives. This was the ministry of information, and particularly the director of the ministry. By taking him out for long candlelit dinners, plying him with sweet cakes, plying him with mobile phones at $600 each for members of his family, and giving bribes of thousands of dollars. Senior members of the information ministry took hundreds of thousands of dollars of bribes from these television correspondents who then behaved as if they were in Belgium. They never mentioned the function of minders. Never mentioned terror.
In one case, a correspondent actually went to the Internet Center at the Al-Rashid Hotel and printed out copies of his and other people's stories -- mine included -- specifically in order to be able to show the difference between himself and the others. He wanted to show what a good boy he was compared to this enemy of the state. He was with a major American newspaper.
Yeah, it was an absolutely disgraceful performance. CNN's Eason Jordan's op-ed piece in The New York Times missed that point completely. The point is not whether we protect the people who work for us by not disclosing the terrible things they tell us. Of course we do. But the people who work for us are only one thousandth of one percent of the people of Iraq. So why not tell the story of the other people of Iraq? It doesn't preclude you from telling about terror. Of murder on a mass scale just because you won't talk about how your driver's brother was murdered.
In February I was denied a visa. Then I found there were visas available. I was in Amman. Some of my rivals who had omitted to notice that Iraq was a terror state were busy here sucking up. They were very pleased with themselves. These were people who'd argued that it was essential to be in Iraq for the war. I got a visa of dubious quality; it was a visa which allowed me to come in and cover the peace movement.
I assumed I would be thrown out immediately. I arrived only two weeks before the war. They accredited me. They took my passport away and held it for five days until a man who is said to be a deputy director of the Mukhabarat showed up one day -- a certain Mr. Sa'ad Mutana.
He was assigned to be my minder. He was an extremely unpleasant man. At this point a dozen people from the information ministry came to me and said, "Get out!" They said he was certainly a senior official. He introduced himself as a former general. The reason they kept me here is that when the war starts, I could become a hostage.
Well, I stayed. On the night of April 1, they came to my room at this hotel and said, "You're under arrest. We've known all along you're a CIA agent. You will now collaborate with us or we will take you to a place from which you will not return." They stole all my equipment. They stole all my money.
Then they left. The hotel had no electrical power at the time. They said, "You stay in your room." I assumed they left somebody outside. I went out into the darkened corridor. There was nobody there, so I slipped into the stairway.
To tell you the truth, I didn't know what to do. As it happened, a friend of mine, an Italian television correspondent, happened to be coming up the stairwell. She asked, "What are you doing?" I replied, "I really don't know. I'm at wit's end." She said, "You come to my room. They won't attack my room." She is a former Italian communist who had not challenged them.
So there's a strange inversion. I found my safety at a critical moment with an old friend who had not challenged them.
I then arranged a meeting with [General Uday] Al-Tayyib through my Italian friend. "Director," I said to him, "if something happens to me now, the facts are all well known to my newspaper and well known to people in Washington, and you will be held directly responsible. If something happens to me, you will go before an American military tribunal and I wouldn't be surprised if you were shot. So you better do something to stop it." He seemed frightened. The director said, "I'll see what I can do."
A week earlier I had been apprised by the Times that the ministry of information building was to be destroyed in twenty-four hours. We had a general notification that the ministry of information and the Al Rashid Hotel were not excluded from the target lists. But as long as we were all in those buildings, they wouldn't attack.
So we had moved to the Palestine Hotel, but the TV networks were still filing from the information ministry because they were not allowed to file from anywhere else. Which is why CNN got expelled. They refused to go on filing from there; they used a videophone to file their stories on the first heavy night of bombing on March 21. They were caught with a videophone and they were expelled by dawn.
So in the three or four days that followed, I got a call from the Times saying that they had certain indications from the Pentagon that in twenty-four hours the information ministry would be gone. So I got up at 2:00 a.m., and I said to people downstairs, "Get Mr. Al-Tayyib here." He arrived at 5:00 a.m and I said to him, "Listen to me and listen carefully. I'm not going to cause a panic among journalists. I remember what you did to CNN the last time. I don't want to be accused of spreading alarm and despondency, but you've got to close that ministry down, because anybody who's in that building tomorrow night will be killed. We have friends in Washington. People who are concerned about my welfare and that of other American correspondents. That's how we know it."
For twenty-four hours he said he'd see what he could do. They did nothing. That night at 8:00 p.m, I went to every floor of the ministry. I told everybody. "Get off! Get off this building. It's going to be attacked this night."
When I got back to my hotel room I got another call from New York saying it's been put off twenty-four hours because of weather. It was after my second meeting with Al-Tayyib that they raided my room. He shouted at me. He said, "We know you're a CIA agent because they attacked the ministry." I said, "You lying son of a bitch. I told you that because I come from a newspaper and a country who cares about people. We were told this on the basis of human decency. Not just for ourselves but also for Iraqis. They didn't want to kill innocent Iraqis. You failed to do anything at all about it."
I went there two nights running to get people out. As a result, there was only one person injured, a secretary to the minister, which is pretty amazing considering they hit the building with seven or eight cruise missiles. I said, "You're a son of a bitch. You know exactly what the truth of this was. I told you as a matter of decency and you did nothing at all. Now you invert this to say I'm a CIA agent." The end of the story was that on the night of April 8, he stole $200,000.
Now this son of a bitch sits in his home about three miles from here, saying he expects to be re-appointed director general of information. He has been meeting with director generals of ministries and is using a vetting process where they will disqualify only senior Ba'ath Party officials. I think this guy will be disqualified because he was a Mukhabarat official, but he is now saying to visiting correspondents, "Well, of course, we all knew it was time for a change in Iraq." This was a man who is incapable of telling the truth, who attempted at every opportunity to seduce Western women correspondents. He was screwing people in his office. He had photographs of himself and Saddam Hussein and a box of Viagra. This was a loathsome character altogether.
Now left with the residue of all of this, I would say there are serious lessons to be learned. Editors of great newspapers, and small newspapers, and editors of great television networks should exact from their correspondents the obligation of telling the truth about these places. It's not impossible to tell the truth. I have a conviction about closed societies, that they're actually much easier to report on than they seem, because the act of closure is itself revealing. Every lie tells you a truth. If you just leave your eyes and ears open, it's extremely revealing.
We now know that this place was a lot more terrible than even people like me had thought. There is such a thing as absolute evil. I think people just simply didn't recognize it. They rationalized it away. I cannot tell you with what fury I listened to people tell me throughout the autumn that I must be on a kamikaze mission. They said it with a great deal of glee, over the years, that this was not a place like the others.
I did a piece on Uday Hussein and his use of the National Olympic Committee headquarters as a torture site. It's not just journalists who turned a blind eye. Juan Antonio Samaranch of the International Olympic Committee could not have been unaware that Western human rights reports for years had been reporting the National Olympic Committee building had been used as a torture center. I went through its file cabinets and got letter after letter from Juan Antonio Samaranch to Uday Saddam Hussein: "The universal spirit of sport," "My esteemed colleague." The world chose in the main to ignore this.
For some reason or another, Mr. Bush chose to make his principal case on weapons of mass destruction, which is still an open case. This war could have been justified any time on the basis of human rights, alone.
As far as I am concerned, when they hire me, they hire somebody who has a conscience and who has a passion about these things. I think I was a little bit advantaged in this, because I am 58 years old.
Look, I don't believe in the journalist as hero, because I think that wherever we go, and whatever degree of resolve that may be required of us, there are always much, much braver people than us. I travel in a suit of armor. I work for The New York Times. That means that I have the renown of the paper, plus the power of the United States government. Let's be honest. Should anything untoward come to me, I have a flak jacket. I have a wallet full with dollars. I'm here by choice. I have the incentive of being on the front page of The New York Times, and being nominated for major newspaper prizes.
The people who we write about have none of these advantages. They are stuck here with no food and no money. I don't want to be pious about this, but for a journalist to present himself as a hero in this situation is completely and totally bogus.
We have the lure of a spectacular reward. That draws us on. I got a Pulitzer Prize in Sarajevo, which was awarded for "bravery" or something somewhere in the citation. I said, and I absolutely meant it, "I assume that we are talking here about chronicling the bravery of the people of a city that was being murdered. That was where bravery came into this. Then there were no rewards save the possibility of surviving." So I don't want to present myself here as anything like that. No, I don't. As a matter of fact, I think this vainglorious ambition is part of the same problem really. It is the pursuit of power. Renown. Fame.
There is corruption in our business. We need to get back to basics. This war should be studied and talked about. In the run up to this war, to my mind, there was a gross abdication of responsibility. You have to be ready to listen to whispers.
E&P welcomes letters to the editor: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source: Editor & Publisher Online http://www.editorandpublisher.com/editorandpublisher/headlines/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1979014
posted on 09/17/2003 12:27:23 AM PDT
Japan cool as Iran widens oil talks to counter US pressure
By Carola Hoyos in London and Mariko Sanchanta in Tokyo
Published: September 17 2003 5:00 | Last Updated: September 17 2003 5:00
Japan reacted coolly yesterday to news that Iran had widened its negotiations over the giant Azadegan oil field to international energy companies based in other countries.
Tehran's decision to allow European and Asian groups to study the field's structure was seen as a political move to counter attempts by the US to persuade Japan not to invest in developing the field as adispute over Iran's nuclear programme intensified.
"I am aware of the news, but we are not directly aware of what is going on between the Iranian authorities and other firms," said a senior Japanese government official.
"Our position remains the same as before. Commercial players are still pursuing project negotiations, but no agreement has been reached at this moment."
Washington has increased pressure on Japan not to go ahead with the multi-billion-dollar deal.
The Middle East Economic Survey reported this week that Tehran had formally invited "a handful of European and Asian companies . . . to receive data on the complete Azadegan structure". Iranian officials and representatives of the companies were to meet yesterday in Tehran to discuss the level of interest in the field.
This goes squarely against the efforts of the US. Spencer Abraham, US energy secretary, tried last month to win assurances from other countries that they would not invest in Azadegan if Japan pulled out. He raised the issue with the Italian and Dutch governments during his brief trip to Europe last month.
But the greatest threat comes from Chinese companies keen to invest internationally to satisfy the country's rapid growth in demand for energy.
In the past Iran has set strict financial terms that have led to difficult and drawn-out negotiations, and oil executives warn that a sudden flurry of deals as Tehran tries to wriggle out of its difficult diplomatic situation is unlikely. http://news.ft.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=FT.com/StoryFT/FullStory&c=StoryFT&cid=1059479889978
posted on 09/17/2003 12:28:53 AM PDT
Jailed Iranian reformer on hunger strike, allies say
Tuesday, September 16, 2003 - ©2003 IranMania.com
TEHRAN, Sep 16 (AFP) -- A prominent Iranian reformer jailed after publishing an opinion poll stating most people wished to restore dialogue with the United States has gone on hunger strike in protest over prison conditions, according to his supporters.
"In the last contact that we had with my father, he told us he intended to go on hunger strike, and he said he will keep it up until the end," the daughter of Abbas Abdi, Maryam, said during a reformist gathering in Tehran.
"Judge Mortazavi does not allow us to meet my father or even phone him," she added, referring to Tehran's hardline public prosecutor Saeed Mortazavi, best known for his closure of scores of reformist newspapers.She said her father intended to begin his hunger strike.
Abdi, a prominent member of the Islamic Iran Participation Front (IIPF) -- the Islamic republic's main pro-reform party -- was arrested last year amid a judicial backlash against the controversial opinion poll that stated 74 percent of Iranians wanted to see dialogue with the US.
Ironically, Abdi was also one of the leading players in the seizing of the US embassy in Tehran in 1980 and the holding of its diplomats for 444 days, an event that prompted the severing of ties between Tehran and Washington.
In February a Tehran court jailed him for eight years on charges including "providing information to the enemies of the Islamic regime". In April his term was reduced on appeal to four-and-a-half years.
The head of the IIPF and brother of embattled reformist President Mohammad Khatami also voiced concern over Abdi's treatment.
"We are intensely worried about the disaster in the prisons, in which the murder of Zahra Kazemi is just a small example," Mohammad Reza Khatami said.
Kazemi was an Iranian-Canadian photographer who died on July 10 after being arrested for taking unauthorized photographs outside Tehran's Evin prison.
She died of a brain haemorrhage after a blow to the head suffered while in custody, according to an official inquiry ordered by President Khatami.
The president's brother said he was not demanding Abdi's release, but merely for news of his well-being. http://www.iranmania.com/News/ArticleView/Default.asp?NewsCode=18035&NewsKind=Current%20Affairs
posted on 09/17/2003 12:36:11 AM PDT
No Wars In '04?
By Frank J. Gaffney Jr.
Insight Magazine | September 16, 2003
On the eve of the second anniversary of the deadly 9/11 attacks, President George W. Bush offered the country a visionary, courageous and correct assessment of the progress of the war on terror - and his strategy for waging and winning it.
One particularly noteworthy passage in the president's address televised to the nation on Sept. 7 was his characterization of the high stakes involved in this global conflict:
"For America, there will be no going back to the era before September the 11th, 2001 - to false comfort in a dangerous world. We have learned that terrorist attacks are not caused by the use of strength; they are invited by the perception of weakness. And the surest way to avoid attacks on our own people is to engage the enemy where he lives and plans. We are fighting that enemy in Iraq and Afghanistan today so that we do not meet him again on our own streets, in our own cities."
Unfortunately, this presidential affirmation of U.S. policy geared toward fighting the terrorists and their state sponsors on others' soil rather than our own is at risk of being undermined by recent actions the president has allowed to be taken in his name.
Pre-eminent among these was the decision announced recently that Secretary of State Colin Powell had been authorized by Bush to seek a U.N. Security Council mandate for postwar Iraq. At best, the effect was to signal the president's recognition that his U.S.-led liberation had failed and could only be legitimated - and salvaged - if those who had opposed it (in particular, the French, Germans, Russians, Syrians, Chinese and U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan) were placated with U.S. concessions leading to new military and/or political arrangements. At worst, the signal was the United States was preparing, once again, to bail out on a difficult and costly international mission.
Matters were made worse by the coincidence of this apparent volte-face with several others. For example, Powell pointed recently to the fact that talks about North Korea's nuclear-weapons programs had taken place in the context of the six-party "framework" as evidence that the United States successfully was containing the danger that Pyongyang soon will be able to wield - exporting the ultimate weapons of mass destruction. This claim rang all the more hollow for it being accompanied by reports that the Bush administration had decided to revert to the Clinton policy of giving Kim Jong Il financial and other rewards before North Korea demonstrably abandoned its nuclear ambitions.
There also was the decision to back away from a resolution that would have put the other imminent nuclear threat - that posed by Islamofascist Iran - before the U.N. Security Council for urgent action. Similarly, with the exception of periodic warnings from Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld about Syrian contributions to instability in Iraq, the Bush administration seems to have decided to give Damascus a pass.
Then there is Saudi Arabia. As Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) was scheduled to demonstrate in yet another congressional hearing on Sept. 10, the kingdom continues to contribute vast sums and cannon fodder to the terrorist organizations we are fighting in Afghanistan, Iraq and other places. Yet, the Bush administration's party line remains that Riyadh is "cooperating" fully with Washington and is a reliable partner in the war on terror.
In much the same see-no-evil vein, Powell actually declared last week that "U.S. relations with China are the best they have been since President [Richard] Nixon's first visit" in 1972. This despite evidence that the Communist Chinese remain very much the "strategic competitors" the Bush administration confronted upon taking office. This is thanks to, among other things, their continuing nuclear buildup and proliferation, threats on Taiwan, life support for North Korea, trade-devastating currency manipulations and strategic mischief-making in both our own hemisphere and elsewhere.
How can one square the seeming disconnect between the firm and robust things Bush says and what his administration actually is doing on so many fronts - a disconnect unlikely to go unnoticed by our enemies?
A possible - and deeply worrying - explanation is that the president is heeding the counsel reportedly advanced of late by his political handlers. Published accounts say the most influential of these, White House adviser Karl Rove, has warned that there must be "no more wars" for the remainder of Bush's term. Grover Norquist, allowed by Rove to portray himself as a close ally, has opined publicly that "[Wars] are expensive and a drain politically. They are not political winners." According to Norquist, head of Americans for Tax Reform, it follows that if Bush persists in engaging in them, he could doom himself to being a one-term president.
Further evidence that the Bush administration now is following what might be called the "No More War in '04" strategy was obtained last week, when an unnamed senior official told a reporter that the North Koreans could "breathe easy because we aren't going to do anything to them for 14 months."
As Bush noted in his Sept. 7 speech, however, the alternative to our being on offense against our terrorist enemies and those who shelter, arm or otherwise support them is to be on defense. Just because we find war to be inconvenient or a "drain politically" does not mean we can avoid fighting them. It simply means we likely will wind up having to wage them, in the president's words, "again on our own streets, in our own cities."
If Bush wishes to be taken seriously - either by our foes or the American electorate - he would be well-advised to make clear that there is no daylight between his rhetoric and his policies concerning the war on terror. After all, at stake is not only his presidency but the national security. http://frontpagemag.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=9859
posted on 09/17/2003 12:37:44 AM PDT
To: DoctorZIn; McGavin999; Eala; AdmSmith; dixiechick2000; nuconvert; onyx; Pro-Bush; Valin; ...
On the airwaves: more voices of America
It was 2 pm in Washington, Nov. 18, 1996, prime time for evening listeners and viewers in Tehran. A brand new television studio was being launched at the Voice of America (VOA), the largest and only global US publicly funded broadcast network. For several years, Persian-language TV host Ahmed Baharloo had been on VOA radio, and his weekly call-in program, Roundtable With You, was widely heard in Iran. Now, with a newly established satellite TV link to rooftops throughout the Islamic Republic, would the program be seen as well?
This was the hour of reckoning. The anticipation in the control room was palpable, crowded as it was with VOA radio and television staff. The switchboard lit up as radio call after call came in. The expert in the studio was a Persian-speaking specialist in television satellite reception, and some of those present began to wonder if his expertise really would be needed.
At precisely half past the hour, a caller in Tehran named Mehrdad phoned in. For the first time, he explained, he could see Baharloo having listened to him on the radio for years. The control room erupted in thunderous applause. VOA had entered the multimedia age. Baharloo told his caller that he would mail him a prize, since Mehrdad was the first viewer of the VOA Persian Service. No need to send me a prize, the viewer interjected; Youve just given me the greatest gift of all!
Within a few weeks, the TV calls were matching or exceeding those on radio, and the government in Iran confiscated 1,700 satellite dishes. But with a video footprint covering most of the country, it was all in vain. As New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman put it a few months later: The Voice of America has a Farsi call-in show in which Iranians from all over the country telephone Washington, long distance, just to chat about their problems. They are knocking at the worlds door. This past summer, VOA Persian launched the latest in a series of expansions. Now it sends daily TV transmissions to Iran.
The pioneering program seven years ago foreshadowed the great Middle East media revolution of the late 1990s and the post-Sept. 11, 2001 years. As the Iraq war demonstrated, television has emerged as the primary source of information in the Arab world, Iran and beyond. Among international broadcasters, a stampede is under way to capitalize on this. In the words of Arab-American scholar Hisham Sharabi, relatively new non-government Arab TV networks are an important catalyst in what he sees as a possible transformation in the Arab political order.
How did this happen? In 1996, Qatars Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani began to fund Al-Jazeera television. Uniquely, the ruler insisted it was to reflect expressions of opinion by opposition as well as established regimes throughout the region a marked departure from the practice of state-controlled Arab media at the time. Provocative, irreverent, subversive was the way analyst Rym Ayadat of the Paris newspaper Le Figaro described the station. Al-Jazeera did break the mold.
It soon was replicated in style and substance throughout the Gulf region: Abu Dhabi TV was modernized and made news its primary suit with vivid, on-scene reportage. On the eve of the Iraq war last winter, the Saudi-owned Middle East Broadcast Center in London joined in by launching Al-Arabiya TV, while Iran inaugurated its Arabic-language network Al-Alam.
Despite the proliferation of these new indigenous networks, the United States and France are planning to launch international Arabic-language television networks. The US Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), which oversees the VOA and other American overseas outlets, has announced it will introduce an around-the-clock television service later this year or in early 2004. The start-up cost is projected at $62 million, with annual operating expenses of approximately $37 million. Congress is still debating legislation to cover about half of the initial costs, but staff is being hired and the new Middle East Television Network (METN) seems to be well under way.
In France, a parliamentary commission last May unanimously recommended establishing next year a full-time news channel broadcasting across Europe, the Middle East and Africa in French, English and Arabic. Unlike the US stand-alone METN, it would rely heavily on material produced by the established French global network, Radio France International. It would be staffed by 200 journalists at an annual cost of $93-116 million. As an insight into French thinking, the commission said that Al-Jazeera offered proof that what it called Anglo-American cultural imperialism could be broken.
The principal question, of course, is: Can the new non-Arab international broadcast television outlets succeed in entering an already crowded and popular souq of news and ideas? Undoubtedly, this will depend on the content of their programs and production values and primarily on whether or not viewers find that the new networks offer solid information unavailable elsewhere. One thing seems certain: entertainment television may work in attracting some youthful viewers, but it will not appeal to elites or serious advocates of political reform in the Arab world.
The experience of the US-funded Radio Sawa, which replaced VOA Arabic 18 months ago, is instructive. Radio Sawa, a pop music station with a fast-paced headline service and occasional stringer reports and chats, attracted large numbers of youthful listeners in Jordan, Kuwait and the UAE. A survey by a London firm, however, indicated that during the Iraq war listeners of all ages turned away from the station or rated it far below other Arabic services as a news source. In a post-Sept. 11 world, where the situations in Iran, Afghanistan, and on the Israeli-Palestinian front are so tense, viewers in the Arab world who count will expect solid content, reportage and insightful analysis if the new international TV outlets are to compete.
Hisham Sharabi has pointed out that Arab TV is increasingly characterized by candid, academic discussions on history, economics and literature. He noted that talk shows, especially those dealing with womens issues, have tackled problems and ideas hardly ever aired in Arab media in the past. In addition, there were frank critiques of the new Arab TV outlets within the Arab world in the weeks following the Iraq war.
The need for informed, interactive debate on the airwaves of the Middle East has never been greater than today, and international broadcasters have the potential, still, of offering valuable perspectives from abroad. Last January, the US Broadcasting Board revived the former VOA Arabic website, which now receives more than 170,000 site visits a day and is linked to other websites in Egypt and Saudi Arabia. It highlights the latest news and VOA reportage from the Middle East and other regions, provides English lessons in Arabic and American press roundups and historical vignettes. An editor of Egypts Al-Ahram daily e-mailed that it is the first site he visits every day.
This kind of crucible of thought is a vital service to users in the post Sept. 11 world. As US Librarian of Congress James Billington said a few years ago: Democracy is a fire in the minds of men. That fire feeds on constant communication, back and forth
a sharing of information, ideas, skills and experience.
Alan L. Heil Jr., former VOA deputy director, served as a foreign correspondent for the station in Beirut, Cairo and Athens from 1965-1971. His book, Voice of America: A History, was published by Columbia University Press this past summer. He wrote this commentary for THE DAILY STAR http://www.dailystar.com.lb/opinion/17_09_03_d.asp
Jordanian Monarch Passing Mullahs' Message to the U.S.?
September 17, 2003
WASHINGTON -- Iran might be willing to cooperate with the United States and neighboring countries to avoid a civil war in Iraq and a possible breakup of the country, Jordanian King Abdullah said.
Abdullah, who paid a visit to Tehran earlier this month, said Iranians were seriously concerned that spreading violence could lead to civil war in Iraq following the downfall of the government of Saddam Hussein.
"I think with us there is an agreement that a breakup in Iraq would be a tremendous problem for all of us," the king said in an interview with PBS television.
He said Iranian President Mohammad Khatami believed fighting between Iraq's Shiite and Sunni Muslims would as bad as a conflict among various factions of the Shiite population.
"From my discussions in Tehran, they were extremely keen to put a stop" to ethnic and religious violence in Iraq, Abdullah said. "They see the distabilization, the ethnic conflict -- Shia-on-Shia and Sunni-on-Shia -- being disastrous for all of us. And so, there is enough there for us to agree upon and work together on."
The king is in Washington to meet with President George W. Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell and to discuss the current situation in the region, particularly with an eye on reviving a faltering Israeli-Palestinian peace plan known as the "roadmap." http://www.iranmania.com/News/ArticleView/Default.asp?NewsCode=18055&NewsKind=Current%20Affairs
To: DoctorZIn; McGavin999; Eala; AdmSmith; dixiechick2000; nuconvert; onyx; Pro-Bush; Valin; ...
EU/Iran: Postponement of the Human Rights Dialogue
Call to the European Union
Paris, 15 September 2003 : The FIDH and the LDDHI have been informed of the postponement of the third session of the EU/Iran human rights dialogue, which was supposed to take place in Tehran on 15 and 16 September.
It seems that the postponement has been requested by the EU because of the refusal by the Iranian authorities to allow participation by certain international NGOs.
The The FIDH and the LDDHI have participated in the two first sessions of the dialogue and had decided to go to Tehran for the third session, in spite of its strong reservations concerning the results of the two first round-tables.
The FIDH and the LDDHI regretted that the more sensitive issues, as corporal punishments and discrimination against religious minorities, were not really addressed during the first round-table (December 2002 see http://www.fidh.org/communiq/2002/ir1912a.htm).
It deplored as well the restrictions concerning participation by international and Iranian independent NGOs.
Those reservations were confirmed after the second session (March 2003 see http://www.fidh.org/communiq/2003/ir2403f.htm)
: it was mainly limited to academic exchanges of view, substantive questions were only incidentally addressed and there was no follow-up with regard to the commitments made by Iran at the first round-table.
Since the launching of the dialogue, the human rights situation in Iran did not improve. The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention went to Iran last February. Its conclusions and recommendations are clear in that regard. None of them were implemented up to now. The same is true with regard to the recommendations of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, which examined the situation in Iran last August. The visits in Iran by the Special Rapporteurs on Freedom of expression and Violence against women as well as of the Working Group on enforced disappearances did not take place yet.
The law prohibiting torture has not been adopted, the Conventions against torture and on discrimination against women have not been ratified, torture is still widespread, the moratorium on death by stoning has not been officially confirmed, other corporal punishments are still in force (flogging and amputation) and violations of freedom of expression are worse than ever.
In view of that context, The FIDH and the LDDHI consider that the third session of the EU/Iran human rights dialogue will only be credible if certain guarantees are gathered :
ensure participation by international and Iranian independent NGOs
ensure the presence of representatives of the judiciary, the Council of Guardians and the Office of the Supreme Leader, institutions where power really rests
ensure a follow-up with regard to Iran's commitments at the preceding round-tables, notably regarding ratification of international instruments, prohibition of torture, cooperation with UN mechanisms and corporal punishments
present a public and periodic assessment of the dialogue, including before the European Parliament.
The FIDH and the LDDHI recall that the dialogue should not be considered as an alternative to the UN human rights mechanisms, but should on the contrary accompany them. The FIDH and the LDDHI reiterate their strong conviction that public condemnation by the international community of human rights violations in Iran represents a very important support for human rights defenders in the country and reformist elements. The public and objective evaluation by the UN of the human rights situation in Iran is crucial to feed the human rights dialogue.
The FIDH and the LDDHI consequently call on the EU to draw the consequences of the evolution of the situation in Iran, of the current blocking of the dialogue and of the absence of any tangible result of the two first sessions by tabling a resolution on human rights in Iran at the UN General Assembly, in December.
Press Contact : Gaël Grilhot : +33-1 43 55 25 18 http://news.gooya.com/2003/09/16/1609-ff-01.php
The Ayatollahs' Bomb
September 17, 2003
National Review Online
An invulnerability strategy.
In recent weeks, Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has been receiving many senior clerics for happy embraces. They have come in unusually large numbers to congratulate him. According to Iranians I talk to, they believe that Iran now has all the necessary components for an atomic bomb or two or three, and all that remains is to assemble the damned things.
That would track with the mullahs' clear international strategy, which is to stall for time. They think that if they can make it into early 2004, they'll be safe from us for at least eleven months, as Bush would not attack during an election year (never mind that Bush has no intention of attacking at all, we're talking about how they see things). In the meantime, they expect to be able to test a nuclear device, which will, they think, transform them into the North Korea of the Middle East. That is, invulnerable to us.
So the stall is on, in all directions. The negotiations with the Atomic Energy Agency are dragged out, and you can be sure the Iranians will insist that their parliament approve anything agreed to by the negotiators. The talks with State Department emissaries apparently in the hopes of getting the mullahs to turn over some of their al Qaeda allies (not bloody likely), drag on and on. Time is working in their favor, just as the president said it would.
None of this has any great effect on the Bush administration, because they believe the latest assessment from the intel guys, who say that Iran is a good 3-5 years away from having the bomb. I wonder how they arrive at such estimates, and I especially wonder why any president would take them seriously, since we have always been surprised at how quickly others have developed atomic weapons.
We were surprised by Stalin, and by the Chinese, and by the Indians and the Paks. Hell, we were even surprised at the Indian and Pakistani nuclear tests a few years back. And we were apparently surprised when the North Koreans told us they really did have a weapons program, although it was clear to everyone except Madeline Albright (who was too busy dancing with the dictators of Pyongyang to be able to think about it).
Furthermore, I don't think we have very good information about Iran. Almost the whole Iranian nuclear program is underground. Deep underground, thanks to the Chinese and the North Koreans who helped dig the tunnels and secure areas, mostly underneath the cities. Maybe so deep underground than even our jazzy satellite technologies can't figure out what's going on down there. And I doubt we know just how much enriched uranium was smuggled into Iran from Iraq in the years leading up to the war.
Paradoxically, however, this is one time the mullahs may outwit themselves. As things stand, this administration is going to do everything possible to forestall a day of reckoning for the mullahs, hoping that the brave Iranian people will do it for us (and providing some assistance, as in the case of the new, secure Internet server now at the disposal of Iranian users).
But if Iran turns up with the bomb, that would add urgency to our ongoing war against the terror masters in Tehran.
Let's hope we have time to do that before they use the thing.
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/ledeen091703.asp
To: Pan_Yans Wife; fat city; freedom44; Tamsey; Grampa Dave; PhiKapMom; McGavin999; Hinoki Cypress; ...
Whitewashing Radical Islam
September 17, 2003
The Economist this week demonstrated anew just how deeply dhimmitude has penetrated into Western thinking about Islam. Dhimmitude is the institutionalized subservience mandated by Islamic law, the Sharia, for non-Muslims, primarily Jews and Christians.
Dhimmis must endure inferior status under the Sharia; if they protest, they risk forfeiting the protection that they buy with their special high tax rate (jizya) and their humiliation.
The elaborate legal superstructure of dhimmitude in Islamic law is founded on the Qurans Sura 9:29, which calls on Muslims to fight against the People of the Book (primarily Jews and Christians) until they pay the Jizya [special tax for non-Muslims] with willing submission, feel themselves subdued. A vast body of Muslim theology and jurisprudence guaranteed dhimmis relative security as long as the jizya was paid; if payment ceased, jihad would resume.
This is the origin of the system of dhimmitude a vast, uniquely Islamic institution of religious apartheid, implemented for over a millennium across three continents (Asia, Africa, and Europe) and still influential in Islamic nations policies toward non-Muslim populations. The native infidel populations of lands conquered by Islamic armies were required to pay the jizya, recognize Islamic ownership of their land and accept laws forbidding them to own weapons, ring church bells, build new places of worship or repair old ones, testify in Muslim courts, or dress like Muslims. If they complained about these inequalities, they risked forfeiting their protection.
Through political correctness, multiculturalist myopia, and the politicized pseudo-academic writings of dhimmi scholars such as Edward Said and John Esposito, the silence and subservience of dhimmitude has entered the public debate about Islam in America and Western Europe. It threatens to strangle that debate with whitewashes about the roots of jihad ideology, the reality of dhimmitude, and more.
A notable example appears in the September 13-19 issue of The Economist. In an article entitled In the name of Islam, Peter David goes so far as to acknowledge what few other analysts have dared to: that the jihad ideology that gives rise to terrorism has, or claims to have, connections with some of the fundamental ideas and practices of the religion itself. However, he never provides readers the smallest glimpse of what these fundamental ideas and practices might be. Instead, he shifts direction and explores the thought of the influential Egyptian Muslim radical, Sayyid Qutb (1906-1966), who taught that no (Muslim or non-Muslim) state, ungoverned by Sharia, had any right to exist.
David states that much radical jihadist theory is modern, as political as it is religious, with origins in the late 20th century. But his Economist piece offers no hint of the great pains that Qutb took in order to show the foundations of his teachings in traditional Muslim sources. David quotes Qutb as dividing the world into the House of Islam (dar al-Islam) and the House of War (dar al-harb) but makes no mention of the fact that this is an ancient distinction established by some of Islams earliest theologians and jurists, or that it remains significant to Islamic law today. Qutb himself was not so circumspect: he completed an immense thirty-volume commentary on the Quran, In the Shade of the Quran, in which he attempts to demonstrate again and again that the pure Islam of the sacred book is todays radical Islam of blood and terror.
Qutbs tradition is not the only one in Islam, and millions of peaceful Muslims would reject his theological and political ideas. But to imply that religious violence and religious terrorism are newly minted elements of Islam with no plausible traditional foundations is to ignore how jihad ideologues read (and use to recruit) the Quran, the Muslim Prophet Muhammads example, an elaborate body of Islamic theology and jurisprudence, and fourteen centuries of Islamic history.
David underscores his omission by breezily dismissing jihadist justifications for violent jihad, stating, Islam has a concept of jihad (holy war), which some Muslims think should be added to the five more familiar pillars of faith: the oath of belief, prayer, charity, fasting and pilgrimage. But the Koran also insists that there should be no compulsion in religion. Had David read Qutb further, he would have found, the great Egyptian radical also insisted that jihad in no way involved forced conversion. However, that is not the same as saying jihad is not violent. As I detail extensively in Onward Muslim Soldiers: How Jihad Still Threatens America and the West, Qutb drew on traditional concepts of Islamic law to inveigh against the concept of jihad as a forceful means of converting people to Islam. Rather, he insisted, jihad was an offensive struggle to establish the hegemony of the Sharia and subservient dhimmi status for all non-Muslims who would then be free, of course, to ease the pain of their inferior condition by converting to Islam if they chose.
According to David, Only a small fraction of [the worlds] 1.5 billion Muslims will have heard of, let alone subscribe to, the ideas of theorists such as Qutb. These ideas may be more widely diffused than he thinks. A casual look today at the Muslim blogspot www.clearguidance.com, run out of Staten Island, turned up bloggers quoting the writings of Qutb, Osama bin Ladens mentor Abdullah Azzam, and Osama himself. Maybe there are few people reading such books, but only a few are needed to commit terrorist acts.
David goes on to say that Islam and Christendom have clashed for centuries. But if there is something in the essence of Islam that predisposes its adherents to violent conflict with the West, it is hard to say what it might be. The ignorance of this statement is nothing short of breathtaking. According to a traditional source of Islamic law, Muslims must make war upon Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians . . . until they become Muslim or pay the non-Muslim poll tax. This obligation is amply delineated in numerous traditional Islamic sources, and it is the foundation for the institutionalized oppression inflicted by dhimmitude laws, under which Jews, Christians, Zoroastrians, Hindus and others have suffered for centuries.
Knowingly or not, The Economist whitewashes radical Islams sources in Islamic theology and tradition. This plays into terrorists hands as clearly and directly as a whitewashed portrait of Americas pre-Civil War South plays into the hands of white supremacists, or a whitewashed picture of Nazi Germany into the hands of anti-Semites. A new organization, Dhimmi Watch, is forming to oppose all such whitewashes on behalf of human rights victims of jihad and dhimmitude now and throughout Islamic history. Whitewashes have no place in any serious, honest analysis of modern-day terrorism.
Robert Spencer is author of Islam Unveiled: Disturbing Questions About the World's Fastest Growing Faith" (Encounter Books) and of "Onward Muslim Soldiers: How Jihad Still Threatens America and the West" (coming this September from Regnery Publishing). An Adjunct Fellow with the Free Congress Foundation, he writes frequently on Islam in a wide variety of publications. http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=9860
Statoil Chairman Says Rafsanjani's $15.5 Million Deal "Smelled Bad"
September 16, 2003
The New York Times
OSLO -- Olav Fjell, the chief executive of Norway's government-controlled oil company, Statoil, survived harsh questioning today by his company's directors, but he still faces a criminal investigation into a $15.5 million consulting contract intended to improve Statoil's access to oil fields in Iran.
Statoil's board chairman, Leif Terje Loeddesoel, said today at a news conference that the contract ''smelled bad," and he directed sharp criticism at Mr. Fjell.
But Mr. Loeddesoel said the chief executive could continue in his job after explaining his actions in a 13-hour meeting that ended late Monday night.
The Norwegian police, who raided Statoil's offices last Thursday, questioned Mr. Fjell for two hours this afternoon. The police said they were investigating whether the contract involved the ''illegal influencing of foreign government officials."
Mr. Fjell told reporters that Statoil hired a small company called Horton Investment last year to provide advice on doing business in Iran. Owned by Abbas Yazdi, an Iranian who lives in London, the company is registered in the Turks and Caicos Islands in the Caribbean, which are known as tax havens.
Norway's leading business daily newspaper, Dagens Naeringsliv, quoted Mr. Fjell last week as saying he knew some of the money might go to Mehdi Hashemi Rafsanjani, the influential son of the former Iranian President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and an executive in a subsidiary of the National Iranian Oil Company.
The newspaper reported that the younger Mr. Rafsanjani denied participating in any consulting deal with Horton Investment or Statoil.
Statoil executives said today that the white-collar crime unit of the police would have to determine whether the contract, which Mr. Fjell canceled last Friday, amounted to corruption. Mr. Loeddesoel said he first heard about the contract in June, after Statoil's internal auditors questioned payments, which by then totaled more than $5 million.
The board chairman said he told Mr. Fjell that the contract seemed to violate Statoil's ethical guidelines, but he said Mr. Fjell had defended it.
Mr. Fjell said today in a contrite tone: ''I have received harsh criticism on this matter, and the criticism is justified. The contract was a serious misstep." He said he regretted that the contract had called into question Statoil's commitment to ethical business practices.
In an interview, Mr. Fjell spoke opaquely about Mr. Rafsanjani. ''The contract was with Horton Investment, a company owned by an Iranian living in London who has given us advice," Mr. Fjell said. "We have also had advice from the junior Rafsanjani, but I don't know what the financial relationship is between Horton Investment and Rafsanjani, if any."
Mr. Loeddesoel said that the size of the Horton contract, its 11-year time frame and the fact that deposits were being made to a Swiss bank account worried him more than Mr. Rafsanjani's family connections.
But it is Mr. Rafsanjani's proximity to power that raises the issue of what Statoil thought it was getting for its $15.5 million. http://www.nytimes.com/2003/09/17/business/worldbusiness/17stat.html
Total Completes Iran Oil Project
September 17, 2003
Together with the Italian ENI and Canadas Bow Valley, Total completed a buyback oil project in Iran.
The Balal oil field, which was developed by the companies, was handed to National Iranian Oil Corp. (NIOC).
Under the buyback formula, Total and partners will be remunerated for their work from the proceeds of incremental production over a period of several years.
For Total it is the third buyback project in Iran and the company is interested in keeping a presence in the country. http://www.neftegaz.ru/english/lenta/show.php?id=39908
RANIAN OFFICIAL SAYS U.S. AT WAR WITH ISLAM.
Expediency Council Chairman Ayatollah Ali-Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani said in a 16 September speech to seminarians in Mashhad that what he alleges is a U.S. campaign against Iranian nuclear activities is nothing other than a war on Islam, IRNA reported. The United States does not want the Islamic world to be equipped with modern and sophisticated scientific and technological knowledge, he said, and would not oppose Iranian nuclear activities if Iran was not an Islamic state. Hashemi-Rafsanjani said Iran should acquire nuclear technology to keep pace with the rest of the world. Hashemi-Rafsanjani praised the work of Iranian scientists and called on Iranian political parties to maintain unity. BS
Source: RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 7, No. 177, Part III, 17 September 2003
Comment: Rajsanjani is desperate, he thinks that if he can start a conflict that he can control and finally solve, he will get endorsement from the West to stay in charge of Iran and thus use Iran as his private cash cow for his family. The judiciary in Tehran should start a procedure against Rafsanjani jr. using the information obtained from Statoil in Norway.
posted on 09/17/2003 10:09:24 AM PDT
IRANIAN PRESIDENT ENCOURAGES PARTICIPATION IN PARLIAMENTARY ELECTION.
President Hojatoleslam Mohammad Khatami said in a 16 September speech in Sepidan, Fars Province, that the state must get ready for the upcoming parliamentary election and make preparations for massive public participation, Iranian state radio reported. "The people's presence in the arena will be an important source of support for the state and even for military forces," Khatami said. "That is because if the people are in the arena, military forces, which enjoy popular support, will smack all aggressors in the mouth." According to state radio, Khatami stressed the importance of supervising elections and the contribution of such supervision to the choice of candidates. However, according to IRNA, Khatami stressed the need for supervising elections but added that this does not imply an absence of choice. Furthermore, people should exercise free will in selecting their parliamentary representatives, according to the news agency. BS
Source: RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 7, No. 177, Part III, 17 September 2003
Comment: Note the text: support for the state and even for military forces Guess what is not included?
posted on 09/17/2003 10:11:31 AM PDT
CONSERVATIVE IRANIAN PARLIAMENTARIAN DISMISSIVE OF 'TWIN BILLS.'
Boin-Zahra parliamentary representative Qodratollah Alikhani, who is a member of the conservative Tehran Militant Clergy Association (Jameh-yi Ruhaniyat-i Mubarez-i Tehran), said the executive branch's "twin bills" will get nowhere, "Resalat" reported on 16 September. These are two pieces of legislation introduced last September that would reduce the Guardians Council's ability to eliminate candidates for elected office and increase the president's powers vis-a-vis other branches of government. The Guardians Council, which must approve all legislation on constitutional and religious grounds, has already rejected the bills several times. Alikhani dismissed reports that the conservative political faction is willing to compromise. The conservative faction "will never be prepared to accept and approve the twin bills," he said. "The twin-bills question is not a small matter that can be resolved through negotiation and talks, since the principal leaders and decision makers have already repeatedly tried to hold talks without achieving any result." As a result, Alikhani said, "the issue of a compromise over the bills and the possibility of their approval is completely ruled out." Nevertheless, he predicted, there will be enthusiastic public participation in the upcoming parliamentary election. BS
Source: RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 7, No. 177, Part III, 17 September 2003
posted on 09/17/2003 10:12:32 AM PDT
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