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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: email@example.com.
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
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
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
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
Iran Accuses US
September 17, 2003
Iranian officials claimed that the US sees the Islamic word as a serious threat for its interests around the world.
Therefore the US would fight Irans nuclear programme in order that no Islamic country would ever receive sophisticated technology.
But Iran will soon complete the acquisition of nuclear technology and keep up with recent advances. http://www.neftegaz.ru/english/lenta/show.php?id=39936
Montazeri Calls for Elections in Iran
September 17, 2003
The Associated Press
Ali Akbar Dareini
QOM -- In his first public speech in six years, Iran's leading dissident cleric criticized the country's hard-line Islamic leaders Wednesday, saying they should submit to elections and allow the country's young people to choose their future.
Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri addressed his followers after five years of house arrest and several months of illness.
About 300 students crowed into a small building in central Qom, a holy city 80 miles southwest of Tehran, to listen to the 81-year-old cleric, who was once the designated successor of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Montazeri recalled the late Khomeini's saying that the people should make their own decisions.
"The same applies now," Montazeri said, "the majority of our population is now dissatisfied with the ruling establishment. The matter should be put to popular vote."
In Iran's Islamic government, unelected bodies controlled by hard-liners hold the levers of power, including the judiciary, military and police and supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has the final word in all matters. Hard-liners have used that power to prevent social and political changes pushed by the elected president and the reformer-dominated parliament.
Speaking to The Associated Press after his speech, Montazeri said the path to reform in Iran is "to allow the people to choose their rulers. If people are not satisfied, the establishment is not legitimate."
Montazeri was placed under house arrest in 1997 after telling students that Khamenei was incompetent to rule. He accused the ruling clerics of monopolizing power and ignoring the democratic ideals of the revolution. The clerics denounced him as a traitor.
In January, Iran's Supreme National Security Council lifted the house arrest. By then Montazeri's health had deteriorated and the move was believed to have been prompted by fears of an uprising if Montazeri were to die while under restrictions.
Montazeri is one of a few grand ayatollahs, the most senior theologians of the Shiite Muslim faith. He enjoys huge followings in Qom and Isfahan, his birthplace. He fell out with Khomeini, and lost his position as successor, shortly before the leader's death in 1989.
In an interview with the AP, Montazeri said: "The authorities should increase their tolerance ... and allow the new generation to choose their future."
In his speech, Montazeri criticized the conservatives' crackdown on intellectuals and writers, dozens of whom have been detained and had their publications banned.
"It is a disgrace that university teachers are humiliated and detained," he said. "This is against Islamic teachings." http://abcnews.go.com/wire/World/ap20030917_739.html
Iran Not Willing to Comply with IAEA Resolution
September 17, 2003
Middle East Online
TEHRAN - Iranian officials gave fresh signals Wednesday that they do not intend to comply with a resolution passed by the UN's nuclear watchdog giving Tehran until the end of next month to come clean on its atomic programme.
"At the beginning of the 1979 Islamic revolution, we stood up to identical pressure and we are used to it. The Islamic republic has no intention of giving in to pressure," powerful former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani was quoted as saying in his latest comment on the deadline.
On Friday, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) gave Iran until October 31 to clear up widespread suspicions it is using an atomic energy programme as a cover for nuclear weapons development.
The resolution, passed by the IAEA's board of governors after intensive US lobbying, demands Iran answer all the IAEA's questions regarding its enrichment activities, provide unrestricted access to IAEA inspectors and provide a detailed list of its nuclear-related imports.
One of the IAEA's demands is that Iran sign an additional protocol to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which would allow inspectors to make surprise visits to suspect sites.
Failure to satisfy the IAEA could see Iran declared in violation of the NPT on November 20, when the board convenes again in Vienna. The issue could be referred to the UN Security Council, leading to the possible imposition of sanctions.
Even some key reformists have rejected the ultimatum.
Parliamentary speaker Mehdi Karrubi, a close ally of President Mohammad Khatami, said the IAEA resolution was "political".
"The Iranian people will not accept giving in to the logic of force," he was quoted as saying by the official news agency IRNA.
And a prominent conservative, justice chief Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahrudi, qualified the resolution as "unjust".
"The US and their allies want to stop Iran from accessing new technology," he was quoted as saying on state radio. He said the "only solution was to resist".
Embattled President Khatami, however, on Wednesday maintained his silence on the crisis when asked for his reaction to the resolution.
Iran's official position on the resolution has been spelled out by the foreign ministry, which stated that "the nature of our cooperation with the IAEA is under consideration." http://www.middle-east-online.com/english/?id=7036http://www.middle-east-online.com/english/?id=7036
Iranian Power Project Generates Tension
September 17, 2003
The Financial Times
With its 50 metre penthouse swimming pool, French marble-clad exterior, Grecian pillars and fountain, one of Moscow's first modern office buildings looks as though it should have been built for a private oil magnate rather than a branch of Russia's Ministry of Atomic Energy.
The $40m headquarters, completed in 1996 for Konverse Bank, a bank controlled until recently by "MinAtom", is testament to the financial flows of a nuclear industry spun out of the Soviet Union's military machine.
Today it generates export revenues of more than $3bn a year. MinAtom's sales of nuclear expertise - notably to Iran - are an important source of export earnings. But they are also a problem for Moscow's fledgling partnership with the US and they will be on the agenda of John Bolton, US deputy secretary of state, who arrived in Moscow on Wednesday for a conference on proliferation.
For the past decade, after western suppliers withdrew from the construction of Iran's Bushehr nuclear power station, MinAtom has taken up the slack. The deal, worth about $1bn, should lead to Bushehr's launch in 2005, but has triggered fears of its misuse.
"Iran is not a stable country politically, and you don't know who will be in charge in three or five years. Stopping the programme would help global security," says Vladimir Slivyak from Ecodefence, a Russian anti-nuclear lobby group.
The US has long pushed Moscow to stop its co-operation on Bushehr, as well as on a broader series of arms and technology deals. It has even imposed sanctions on Russian research institutes and companies involved in exports to Iran.
The pressure may be working: a senior US official told the FT that Russia had decided to put off the first shipment of nuclear fuel to Bushehr to next spring. The delivery had been scheduled for late this year.
Earlier this month, the United Nations nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, passed a resolution giving Iran until October 31 to give full details of its nuclear programme.
The direct danger from Bushehr is still under debate. "Neither Iran nor Russia has violated any agreement, and we are in line with the guidelines of the IAEA," says Alexander Rumyantsev, head of MinAtom.
He stresses that as a condition for completion of the power station, Iran must first finalise a contract committing it to return all spent nuclear fuel to Russia for reprocessing and storage, further limiting any prospect for proliferation.
While the IAEA has been pushing for Iran to sign an "additional protocol" to provide for supplementary nuclear inspections, Mohammed ElBaradei, the head of the agency, himself says he sees no risks of proliferation from Bushehr itself.
However, the US argues that it could be used as a cover for a military nuclear programme, if only through training specialists.
"The Russians have too much faith in their nuclear skills and don't believe the Iranians are capable of replicating them," says one senior US diplomat.
The recent discovery of undisclosed fuel enrichment facilities in Iran, despite continued official assurances that it has no interest in helping a military nuclear programme, has sparked fresh concern in Russia as well as the US and the EU.
President Vladimir Putin's own statements and actions in recent months indicate a change in tack on nuclear co-operation, suggesting a shift away from a purely commercial logic.
He replaced Sergei Adamov, the former head of MinAtom accused of corruption, with Mr Rumyantsev, and installed others from his own circle in key positions.
"Before, the position on Iran depended not just on the president but on the atomic industry. Now the managers listen to the political orders and obey," says Mr Slivyak, who argues that there has been a significant increase in Russian caution towards Tehran in the past six months.
Mr Putin and other senior officials have stepped up their calls for Iran to comply with the IAEA's additional protocol, even while refusing to making it a condition for Bushehr's completion. The result, combined with the US's preoccupation with Iraq, seems set to ensure that Bushehr will not be a "relationship-breaker" with Moscow.
While its refusal to complete the power station could put additional pressure on Tehran to comply with the IAEA, Alexander Pikaev, an academic from the Carnegie Moscow Centre, argues that going ahead could be wiser: Russia supplying its own fuel on condition it is returned afterwards would be safer than pushing Iran to develop its own supplies, which would be far more difficult to track.
Russia may be hoping that continued "technical delays" in signing its own long-delayed contract for the return of spent fuel with Iran at Bushehr will win it time for the US and others to persuade Tehran to comply with the IAEA's additional protocol.
Mr Putin could then be seen to have supported Iran and not given in to international pressure. http://news.ft.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=FT.com/StoryFT/FullStory&c=StoryFT&cid=1059479914477
Rafsanjani Calls for "Fatwa Council"
September 17, 2003
"Conducting a regime can not be founded on the fatwa or a single person," Rafsanjani said, using the Islamic term for religious edicts.
"If there is council or councils which focus on important questions and issue a fatwa, that would be a basis for the constitution's Council of Guardians to approve or reject laws passed by parliament," he said at a meeting with clerics late Tuesday in the northeastern city of Mashhad.
The Council of Guardians, composed of six ayatollah appointed by Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and six jurists named by the judiciary chief, examines parliamentary legislation to ensure it conforms with the constitution and Islamic precepts.
"Any given law could turn the country upside-down ... could decide between peace or war, could isolate us, humiliate us in the eyes of the world, or, on the other hand, honour us," said Rafsanjani.
He did not specify the criteria for selecting members of his proposed fatwa council, nor give a timing for its possible formation.
The Council of Guardians normally reaches its verdicts on the advice of conservative clerics rather than religious reformers in the Islamic republic with an eye on public opinion. http://www.iranmania.com/News/ArticleView/Default.asp?NewsCode=18083&NewsKind=Current%20Affairs
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