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Iranian Alert -- September 21, 2003 -- IRAN LIVE THREAD PING LIST
The Iranian Student Movement Up To The Minute Reports ^
Posted on 09/21/2003 12:01:38 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; norway; protests; studentmovement; studentprotest
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posted on 09/21/2003 12:01:39 AM PDT
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posted on 09/21/2003 12:02:38 AM PDT
Wholl Flinch First: Iran
or the world?
A showdown with the UNs nuclear agency over rapid access to Irans atomic sites is set to reveal just who exactly runs the country, and it could result in a tense global stand-off, reports Dan De Luce from Tehran
State television had a clear explanation why Iran was in a bind over its nuclear programme: America.
The UNs nuclear agency had been transformed from a neutral supervisor to an organisation under the influence of Americas political wishes, said the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting service. It was a puzzling message as the state media had always portrayed the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as a trusted extension of the United Nations.
What state television failed to mention was that Iran had managed to frustrate the IAEAs patient inspectors as well as European governments that have argued against Washingtons efforts to isolate the country. The result was a unanimous decision by the governing board of the IAEA requiring Iran prove it has no nuclear programme by the end of October or face possible sanctions.
The IAEAs strongly-worded resolution was a diplomatic catastrophe for Iran, which believed states from the non-aligned movement would give it the benefit of the doubt. Irans representative to the IAEA walked out in protest. But the ultimatum was almost inevitable after UN inspectors found weapons-grade uranium in samples taken from a nuclear site this summer and after Tehran offered contradictory explanations for its activities.
Why, governments asked, did Iran deny access for months to a factory that manufactures centrifuge parts? If Iran had nothing to hide, why had it added walls of concrete to a site that UN inspectors had asked to visit? And what was the purpose of building a heavy-water plant if its nuclear energy programme relies on light- water reactors?
Iran accused European governments of slavishly serving US interests, but last week it emerged that Britain, France and Germany had defied Washington to give Iran one last chance. In a joint letter sent in August, the three governments offered Iran the prospect of access to nuclear technology in return for signing up to snap inspections and a suspension of uranium enrichment efforts. The US lobbied against the move but Britain, France and Germany believed it was worth trying to offer Iran an incentive to soften its stance.
According to Reuters news agency, Iran never took up the offer and continued to send mixed messages. Its stalling tactics created something once believed extinct: unity on both shores of the Atlantic. France and Germany enthusiastically supported the IAEA resolution and had called for even stronger wording. Iran has also alienated Canada, a country which had embraced the idea of engagement with Tehran.
Iranian authorities have yet to solve the case of a Canadian photojournalist of Iranian descent, Zahra Kazemi, who was beaten to death while in custody earlier this summer. Canadas ambassador, who has tried in vain to get answers about Kazemis death, called Iran a feudal system. Perhaps it was no coincidence that Canada was one of three governments which sponsored the IAEA resolution against Iran nine days ago.
Iran has made life difficult for European foreign ministers who had advocated a more gentle approach. Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has made no headway in trying to win greater security for British diplomats working in Tehran. After four shooting incidents against the British embassy in less than a month, nobody has been charged and Iranian officials have been slow to condemn the attacks.
Iranian analysts say the shootings were almost certainly carried out by paramilitary groups seeking to intimidate Britain over the detention of a former Iranian diplomat, Hadi Soleimanpour, in Durham last month. Soleimanpour faces possible extradition to Argentina where he has been charged with involvement in the bombing of a Jewish community centre in Buenos Aires.
With the IAEAs October 31 deadline looming, Iran finds itself in a corner with no way to extricate itself without losing face. How it responds will reveal who really exerts authority in its theocratic system and whether efforts to stop the spread of nuclear weapons are now futile.
If Iran allows snap inspections, it will defuse international pressure but require an embarrassing capitulation.
If it withdraws from the nuclear non-proliferation treaty and kicks out inspectors, as North Korea has done, Iran would be openly acknowledging that it has a weapons programme and face utter isolation. In the worst-case scenario, the US might attack Iranian nuclear sites, but even hawks in the Bush administration consider this possibility remote.
The harsh reality is that if Iran opts out of the non-proliferation treaty, the outside world has no recourse short of drastic military action. The result could be some kind of North Korea-type stalemate.
President Mohammad Khatamis reformist government has said it will abide by the non-proliferation treaty and has promised to consider allowing short-notice inspections. But conservative voices are demanding Iran pulls out of the treaty.
At the weekly televised Friday prayers ceremony, senior cleric Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati questioned what Iran had to gain from sticking to its treaty obligations.
What is wrong with considering this treaty on nuclear energy and pulling out of it? North Korea pulled out of it and many countries have never entered it, said Jannati, who heads the Guardian Council, which vets all legislation. Permitting short-notice inspections, would represent an extraordinary humiliation, he said.
The final decision on Irans nuclear ambitions is believed to lie with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and unelected senior clerics .
Although the US and Europe have forged a common front, the whole debate about Irans nuclear ambitions reveals just how tenuous the concept of non-proliferation has become. For any government or group that wants to build a nuclear bomb, materials, technology and expertise are becoming increasingly available on the black market. With India, Pakistan and Israel already in the nuclear club, and US forces occupying Irans neighbours in Iraq and Afghanistan, the argument for the bomb carries weight among the leadership.
This week, Iran will remember its bloody eight-year war with Iraq with military displays. Scars from Saddams invasion run deep and the clerical leadership fears the US will try to instigate some kind of regime change in Iran. The attraction of the nuclear club may prove irresistible. http://www.sundayherald.com/36870
posted on 09/21/2003 12:08:58 AM PDT
No U.S.-Europe split over Iran letter - Germany
MSNBC - Reuters
BERLIN, Sept. 20 Germany, France and Britain have cleared up ''misunderstandings'' with the United States over a letter they sent to Iran, offering inducements if it stops its disputed nuclear fuel enrichment programme, according to a German government source on Saturday.
The letter drew fire from Washington last month but the source said the U.S. had misunderstood the purpose of the letter. ''Those misunderstandings have been cleared up,'' he said.
The source was speaking after the leaders of Germany, France and Britain met in Berlin.
The letter had offered Iran the prospect of sharing technology if it stopped the disputed nuclear programme and signed a treaty designed to stop the spread of atomic weapons, diplomats told Reuters on Friday.
The source said the three countries emphasised Iran could only expect something positive if it respected accords, such as the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
The aim of the letter was not to decrease pressure on Tehran to open its nuclear industry to closer scrutiny, he added.
A French Foreign Ministry spokesman confirmed on Friday the three countries had sent a letter to Iran, calling on it to sign the NPT's ''Additional Protocol'' that provides for intrusive, short-notice inspections.
But the spokesman said the letter did not include any offer to cooperate on other issues. ''There was no offer in return,'' he said. ''There has been no quid pro quo.''
Iran says its nuclear programme is purely to meet booming demand for electricity.
In a letter to European leaders on August 18, Iranian President Mohammad Khatami pledged that Iran would never divert its civilian nuclear programme for military purposes and had decided to enter immediate talks on the Additional Protocol.
But that letter, seen by Reuters, did not commit Iran to sign or ratify the protocol, and European diplomats question whether Khatami, locked in a power struggle with hardline clerics, has effective control over the nuclear programme.
Copyright 2003 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. http://famulus.msnbc.com/FamulusIntl/reuters09-20-083414.asp?reg=MIDEAST
posted on 09/21/2003 12:12:54 AM PDT
No end to Iran's nuclear crisis
Dawn - By Dan De Luce
Sep 21, 2003
TEHRAN - Britain, France and Germany have made an unsuccessful attempt to encourage Iran to comply with the International Atomic Energy Agency rules and curb its nuclear ambitions by offering to share their nuclear technology.
The incentive was intended to persuade Iran to accept tougher nuclear inspections and to halt its uranium enrichment programme.
It was offered despite strong objections by the US, according to a Reuters news agency report on Friday.
Iran's lukewarm reaction served to unite the US and European governments behind the IAEA's tough resolution last week, which requires Iran to prove that it has no-nuclear weapons programme by October 31.
If it fails to do so it make face action by the UN security council action. The reported behind-the -scenes offer sheds new light on the crisis caused by Iran's nuclear activities.
Tehran's attempt to buy time on the issue has backfired and appears to have paved the way for transatlantic unity.
The Bush administration wants Iran isolated and dismisses Europe's attempts at "constructive engagement" with reformers in the theocratic leadership.
Iran's decision to reject the offer will make it more difficult for the foreign secretary, Jack Straw, and other foreign ministers to defend the benefits of engagement.
Iranian officials told journalists privately in August that England, France and Germany were putting pressure on their government to accept short-notice inspections of Iran's nuclear plants.
But they but did not mention the incentives that were also proposed. A letter from the three powers said that if Iran agreed to the demands they would offer cooperation on technology. It did not specify what sort of technology,.
But Iran has made it clear that civilian nuclear technology is the only incentive it is interested in.
"Washington did not consider it very helpful at all," a diplomat familiar with the matter said.
The administration was worried that it might divide Europe and the US, talked to "friends and colleagues in Europe" and "attempted to dissuade them from sending the letter," the diplomat told Reuters.
A source said that the joint British, French and German initiative "still stands".
Iran has given conflicting signals about how it will react to the IAEA resolution, but has said it will continue to cooperate with the agency.
But Conservative figures advocate following the North Korean example by withdrawing from the nuclear non-proliferation treaty altogether and ejecting UN inspectors.
"What is wrong with considering this treaty on nuclear energy and pulling out of it?" Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, who heads the supervisory body the Guardian Council, said yesterday at Friday prayers in Tehran.
"North Korea pulled out of it and many countries have never entered it."
While the reformist government, led by President Mohammad Khatami, has said it will consider signing the additional protocol to the treaty which would allow short-notice inspections, Ayatollah Jannati said that would be represent "an extraordinary humiliation".
The final decisions on Iran's nuclear programme are believed to rest with the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and allied senior clerics, not with Mr Khatami's cabinet, whose powers have been systematically curtailed.
The US and European governments suspect that Iran has a clandestine nuclear weapons programme and point to its efforts to enrich uranium, build a heavy water plant, and secure spent nuclear fuel, and to its contradictory accounts of its activities.
Iran says its nuclear programme is designed for peaceful purposes, to meet growing demand for electricity.
As for the IAEA tests which showed enriched uranium at a nuclear site, Iranian officials say the samples came from contaminated components bought on the black market abroad. http://www.daneshjoo.org/generalnews/article/publish/article_2475.shtml
posted on 09/21/2003 12:15:50 AM PDT
What happened next?
Observer - By Dee O'Connell
Sep 21, 2003
Name: Roger Cooper
Place: Tehran, Iran
Facts: Roger Cooper was taken hostage in Iran and spent more than five years in prison in Tehran. He suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder after his release, but now runs a holiday business in Spain.
I worked in the Middle East on and off for over 30 years as a journalist and translator. I had an Iranian wife, and she had custody of our daughter after we divorced. When I had to leave Iran because of the revolution, leaving behind all my properties I'd built up, I started working as a freelance journalist in London. Around this time, however, my ex-wife decided Iran wasn't the place for our daughter and that she should live in England with me. Even though she arrived with no English, she did very well in her A levels, and wanted to study medicine at university.
Somehow, I had to get the money together for her studies. The only way I could do it was by going back to the Middle East to work in the oil industry, which paid very well. On a business trip to Tehran, I was suddenly pulled off the street and bundled into a car by a group of men. At first I thought the whole thing was ridiculous and that it would soon be cleared up, but then it turned nasty and they started beating me up. In the end, I was accused of spying and spent five-and-a-half years in jail. Most of the time, I knew there was no chance of getting out because of the political situation, such as when the Salman Rushdie affair broke. It was a little bit terrifying, but having worked as a journalist, I knew it was no good panicking.
Most of the time I was in solitary confinement, and I think I preferred it to being among the other prisoners. My cell was roughly 3m by 2m, which made a pretty small world, and the heat really built up in that very tiny space. I had a whole network of guards who loved coming in to chat when they got bored, and the governor even began to slip me newspapers. I already spoke fluent Persian, so I began to do a lot of crosswords, on top of all the reading I was doing. I became quite good at them, and the guards would always call, 'Cooper, what's 10 across?'
My friends formed a Friends of Roger Cooper Society to try to secure my release. Even though it was a source of comfort, I don't believe it got me out of prison a day earlier than would otherwise have been the case. When I eventually came out of jail in 1991, I was suffering from what I found out later was post-traumatic stress disorder. It's very common among hostages, and it rather set me back. I found I couldn't do simple things like cooking. I had been on a bit of a high at first, but then I used to get depressed and wouldn't leave the flat for three days at a time. I just couldn't face the world.
I found I could still write, however, and I wrote a lot of articles about what it was like in jail. I was given a book contract, and moved to France for a while so that a change of scenery would help me finish it. Eventually, I was able to go back to being a freelance journalist based in London, but the trouble is it was quite an expensive place to live and I had to look for some other way to earn a living. Another factor is that as you get older and the editors get younger, the phone doesn't ring quite so often to offer you commissions, so I really had to find something else to do to earn a living. There was a little bit of translating work around, but my main language is Persian and as relations with Iran were so bad, there wasn't much call for that. I had almost no money.
I had worked in the self-catering industry when I was young, because an old uncle of mine used to rent out flats in a town called Blanes on the Costa Blanca in Spain. He made a bit of money and built a villa, and when he died it came to my two brothers and me. I decided to buy my brothers' shares, and build it up into a business. I have 10 properties now. It's gone well, but business is not so good any more.
More people are buying second homes here and tenants are getting more demanding and take less care of the properties. It's making me think I should do something a bit easier. We get tenants from all over the world, and about a year ago, we got a visit from a Canadian filmmaker, who read my book and would like to make a film based on something I wrote about the Hungarian uprising of 1956. We've been working on a treatment, and it would be lovely if it all came off. I rather like Hungary, and I was thinking of going to live there for part of the year. It's a lovely country and I'd have the challenge of learning a new language. As well as that, I know Iraq and Afghanistan very well, and I feel quite guilty that I haven't been able to get out there, either as a journalist or perhaps as an aid worker. I'm sure I could do a lot of things in either country if I could get there.
I don't know anyone in my family who's ever retired, so I imagine I won't either. I don't think I'd like to sit on the beach with a book. I never do that anyway and I've got a beach less than 100 yards away. I'm proud of very few things in my life, but one of them is how brilliantly my daughter's turned out. She did go on to study medicine after all, and is a successful GP in Edinburgh, married to a medical researcher. The little girl who came without a word of English 20 years ago is speaking better English than me. http://www.daneshjoo.org/generalnews/article/publish/article_2474.shtml
posted on 09/21/2003 12:21:26 AM PDT
To: DoctorZIn; AdmSmith; nuconvert; Persia; onyx; Eala; Valin; McGavin999; seamole; dixiechick2000
Japan worried but still negotiating with Iran
TOKYO -- Iran is inviting international firms to bid for a concession in the $2 billion development of the prized Azadegan oil field, which could leave Japanese firms out in the cold, Japan's Trade Minister Takeo Hiranuma said Friday.
Hiranuma said Iran was continuing talks, ongoing since 2000, with a consortium of Japanese firms and was aware of Tokyo's concern about Tehran's suspected nuclear arms development.
Resource-poor Japan has been juggling its desire to develop the oil field -- one of the world's largest undeveloped reserves -- with pressure from the United States, its main security ally, to back off because of concerns that Tehran is developing nuclear weapons.
"We are aware that Iran is asking several international oil companies to consider a bid for Azadegan," Hiranuma said.
"But Iran has told the Japanese consortium that it wants to continue their negotiations, and in fact the talks are still going on."
Japan missed a June 30 commercial deadline and lost exclusive rights to a deal worth $2 billion, but Iran has said it still hopes to conclude the contract to get Azadegan pumping 300,000 barrels per day.
Hiranuma said he had no idea when the talks could be concluded or whether the nuclear issue would be an obstacle to signing a deal when an agreement was reached.
"There are a lot of things happening, but we want to continue the negotiation based on our view that steady oil supply to Japan is vital and that non-proliferation of nuclear arms is very important," Hiranuma said.
The Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper, quoting unidentified sources, reported that Tehran had invited bids from at least three oil companies in Europe and China in an apparent effort to put pressure on Japan to conclude the deal. http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/ssistory.mpl/business/2110259
posted on 09/21/2003 8:13:43 AM PDT
by F14 Pilot
The harsh reality is that if Iran opts out of the non-proliferation treaty, the outside world has no recourse short of drastic military action. The result could be some kind of North Korea-type stalemate.
With Iran squeezed from both the east and the west, how is it that the British press could envision a stalemate lasting? Do they believe that America would just stand still? I find that hard to believe. Haven't we been showing the entire world that our strength doesn't lie behind threats, but through decisive action?
posted on 09/21/2003 8:13:56 AM PDT
by Pan_Yans Wife
("Life isn't fair. It's fairer than death, is all.")
To: DoctorZIn; AdmSmith; nuconvert; Persia; onyx; Eala; Valin; McGavin999; seamole; dixiechick2000; ...
Sale to Iran prompts probe of Nevada facility
9/20/2003 05:25 pm
A federal investigation is under way into whether equipment made at a Sparks facility was sold to Iran in violation of U.S. trade laws.
The U.S. Commerce Department is investigating whether equipment made at Ebara International Corp.'s Sparks facility was later sold by Paris-based Technip SA to Iran, Ebara officials acknowledged.
U.S. laws prohibit selling goods to Iran, directly or through a middleman, because its leadership is believed to sponsor international terrorism.
The Sparks subsidiary of Tokyo-based Ebara makes pumps for the gas, petrochemical and shipboard industries.
Technip officials said they sent U.S.-made specialty pumps to Iran for use in a plastic-making factory, but Ebara officials deny knowing the pumps were destined for the Middle East.
"We did not (sell anything to Iran),"Ebara lawyer Dick Mitchell told the Reno Gazette-Journal."I have no idea about Technip with Iran.
"They (Commerce Department) are apparently investigating our transaction with Technip and say something happened with Iran,"he added.
Technip officials denied the pumps are being used in a nuclear facility.
The Washington Times reported the pumps Ebara makes could be used in nuclear reactors in Iran, but Mitchell said that was impossible.
"The items manufactured in Sparks can't be used for any nuclear or military applications,"he said.
An unnamed Commerce Department official quoted by the Gazette-Journal acknowledged the agency is investigating the matter.
About 140 people work for the Ebara facility in Sparks. The Japanese parent company has more extensive operations.
Technip employs 19,000 people worldwide in oil, gas and petrochemical engineering, construction and service positions.
Information from: Reno Gazette-Journal http://www.rgj.com/news/stories/html/2003/09/20/52158.php?sp1=rgj&sp2=News&sp3=Local+News&sp5=RGJ.com&sp6=news&sp7=local_news
posted on 09/21/2003 8:17:50 AM PDT
by F14 Pilot
Iranian militia seize 2,000 satellite dishes
TEHRAN, Sep 20 (AFP) -- Iran's volunteer Bassij militia have seized 2,000 satellite dishes in a workshop near Tehran, the conservative Jomhuri Eslami newspaper reported.
One man was arrested but his accomplices escaped, the Bassij said in a statement, quoted by the paper which gave no further details. Satellite dishes are banned in the Islamic republic, punishable by fines and jail terms.
Iran's hardline camp denounces foreign satellite broadcasts, which it argues trample on Islamic values and are increasingly used by exiled opposition groups, especially based in Los Angeles, to stir anti-government unrest.
But according to official estimates, about three million households have access to satellite television, while security forces have in recent years only managed to seize 70,000 sets.
On January 21, Iran's Council of Guardians, a conservative-controlled legislative watchdog, rejected a bill approved by the pro-reform parliament that would have allowed limited access to satellite television. http://www.iranmania.com/News/ArticleView/Default.asp?NewsCode=18143&NewsKind=Current%20Affairs
posted on 09/21/2003 9:51:08 AM PDT
(And we all cry for freedom with your fists in the sky)
Thanks for your post
Thanks for this piece of info.
Ayatollah Calls for End to NPT
September 21, 2003
TEHRAN -- A leading Iranian cleric's call for his country to consider withdrawing from the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty has raised fresh fears that Iran will ignore an international deadline to curb its nuclear ambitions.
Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, a hard-liner who heads the Guardian Council, the most powerful governing body, said during prayers at Tehran University on Friday that Iran should defy demands for tougher nuclear inspections.
He said Iran should not sign an extra protocol to the treaty, demanded by the International Atomic Energy Agency. The protocol would allow spot checks on its nuclear facilities to ensure they are not used for developing weapons.
In comments that reflect a growing internal struggle over Tehran's response, he said such inspections would be an extra humiliation.
"What is wrong with considering this treaty on nuclear energy and pulling out of it?" he asked. "North Korea withdrew. Many countries have never entered it."
Ayatollah Jannati's comparison with North Korea, which has rebuffed the IAEA and begun building nuclear weapons, heightened alarm among Western diplomats that hard-liners in Tehran would take Iran in the same direction.
It emerged last week that Britain, France and Germany had secretly offered to share nuclear technology with Iran if it accepted tougher nuclear inspections and scrapped its uranium enrichment program, a key step toward building nuclear weapons.
The offer was made last month despite strong objections from the United States. Iran reacted coolly, diplomats said, creating the united front between the United States and Europe that led the IAEA last week to impose an Oct. 31 deadline for Iran to prove that it has no nuclear weapons program.
IAEA and U.N. inspectors will fly to Iran next weekend to discuss how the protocol would be enforced.
The debate in Iran over how to respond is pitting senior clerics allied with Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader, against the more reform-minded government led by President Mohammad Khatami which says it is considering signing the protocol and insists its nuclear program is entirely peaceful.
Iranian officials said yesterday that Ayatollah Jannati was out of step with the government.
Reformists want the government to sign the protocol after it has held more talks with the IAEA. Diplomats believe that the final decision will be made by Ayatollah Khamenei, who is more likely to rebuff the international pressure.
The United States is particularly alarmed at Iran's plans for its 1,000-megawatt Bushehr nuclear power plant, which is being developed with the help of Russia.
On Friday Moscow said its nuclear cooperation talks with Iran, intended to clear the way for shipments of Russian nuclear fuel to the plant, could take a long time to finalize a signal welcomed by Washington. http://www.washtimes.com/world/20030920-111416-3462r.htm
Iran Waiting for Statoil Fall-out
September 19, 2003
London -- "Look at Norway. It's a country where the rule of law is supposedly supreme... and see the uncertain way the Statoil board initially reacted. So what do you expect to happen in Iran?"
Such was the cynical and perhaps premature comment of an Iranian oil executive in Tehran on Monday, immediately after the Norwegian oil company's board delayed overnight a decision on the future of its chief executive Olav Fjell following revelations of possible corruption involving an Iranian project.
Fjell was confirmed in his position the next day, despite being criticised for the consultancy deal in Iran that has prompted a police corruption probe in Oslo.
"They're fools for making payments when they didn't have to," was the reaction of another Iranian executive. "Statoil is a big enough and well-known company in Iran," he added.
The two divergent Iranian views illustrate the contradictions and difficulties of doing business in Iran's oil and gas sectors - the country's main hard currency generators.
Whatever happens in Norway, the scandal might itself become a major political issue in Iran or, just as easily, vanish without trace. With corruption, as with so many other issues since the 1979 revolution that brought the Islamic republic into existence, any and all allegations are regarded as plausible.
One of the consequences of the revolution was the effective disappearance of corruption for several years. In the first few months of the republic, feelings of pride and nationalism were such that few dared offer inducements to civil servants and even tips were often angrily rejected by private sector personnel.
Corruption was the exception for a few years. But under the economic pressures of the eight-year war with Iraq, the inevitable loss of ideological commitment and the less inevitable failure of political and spiritual leaders to set standards, corruption gradually spread, mushrooming after the uncontrolled economic liberalisation of the early 1990s.
In recent years, there have been widespread allegations about the emergence of economic mafia "gangs" exploiting family, political, religious, intelligence and judicial connections for personal financial gain. Indeed, the suspicion is that much of the so-called conservative and right-wing opposition to President Mohammad Khatami's reforms comes from these essentially apolitical groups, whose biggest fear is the introduction of accountability and transparency.
In the case of the Statoil affair, whatever the legal merits of the case, sources in Tehran say the impact so far is minimal, mainly because the public is not aware of the facts and allegations.
Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh would be presumed to be disturbed over the possibility of National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) officials peddling, or even presuming to peddle, influence over projects for personal gain. At the same time, executives in Iran say anyone in Zanganeh's position would have to operate within the country's realpolitik and would thus not want a confrontation over the issue.
However, with a political confrontation looming between Khatami's reformists and their opponents before next year's parliamentary elections, the Statoil affair could easily become a domestic political football.
There are many reformists in Iran looking for ways of discrediting their right-wing opponents, one of whom is presumed to be former president Rafsanjani, whose son Mehdi Hashemi, an NIOC executive, is alleged to be the Tehran link for Statoil. Mehdi Hashemi has denied any connection with UK-based Horton Investments, which was allegedly acting improperly as Statoil's consultant in Tehran.
The Iranian parliament, dominated by reformists, would be expected to call in Zanganeh for explanations, but sources in the majlis said there are no such plans at the moment because majlis officials are trying first to ascertain the facts.
Statoil said it does not expect its business plans in Iran to be adversely affected, but this could change if the political atmosphere in Tehran heats up.
Statoil has had big plans for Iran since the late 1990s, taking a 40% stake as offshore operator for phases 6 to 8 of the South Pars gas project, and bidding for a series of other big schemes including the South Pars oilfield, an LNG scheme and licensing blocks in the Persian Gulf.
The South Pars gas operatorship seems unlikely to be affected, but the South Pars oilfield scheme - for which the Norwegians are bidding in partnership with local state-owned company Petropars - could suffer delays.
Most experts have tipped Statoil's bid, mainly because of its name and financial clout. But - until the scandal over consultants is resolved - a new Statoil contract in Iran might not ring the right note in Oslo.
Most big oil companies operating in Iran, when asked about corruption, say they make clear in advance that they will not play the game and are thereafter not plagued by middlemen or opportunistic demands. The wider lesson from the Norwegians' experience seems to be that, in the long run, it pays to stick to principles. http://iranvajahan.net/cgi-bin/news.pl?l=en&y=2003&m=09&d=21&a=2
Iran Can Avoid U.N. Sanctions Over Nukes
September 21, 2003
TEHRAN -- Iran does not believe a standoff with the United Nations nuclear watchdog over its nuclear programme will lead to sanctions, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Sunday.
The governing board of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), following intense U.S. lobbying, passed a resolution earlier this month that could pave the way for sanctions if Tehran failed to prove by November that its nuclear ambitions were entirely peaceful.
''I do not believe Iran will reach a dead end which could lead to sanctions,'' Hamid Reza Asefi told reporters in Tehran, adding that Iran's nuclear activities were ''totally transparent'' and for peaceful ends.
''We welcome any country that wants to cooperate with us,'' he said.
The IAEA has accused Tehran of failing to provide full and accurate information about its nuclear programme and demanded that Tehran suspend all uranium enrichment activities.
If Tehran were declared in non-compliance with its IAEA obligations and reported to the Security Council, it could lose the right to any foreign nuclear assistance.
Russia is helping Iran build its first nuclear power station in the southern port of Bushehr, a deal worth $800 million.
Asefi reiterated Iran's suggestion that arch-foe the United States would do well to get involved in Iran's nuclear programme.
''Americans could participate in building nuclear power plants if they are worried about our activities,'' he said.
He said Iran had given its reply to a letter sent by Germany, France and Britain last month offering the prospect of sharing technology with the Islamic Republic if it opened its nuclear programme up to close scrutiny.
But Asefi declined to say what Iran's response had been. Diplomats have said they have found the lack of a clear response from Iran disappointing. http://famulus.msnbc.com/FamulusIntl/reuters09-21-040959.asp?reg=MIDEAST
Montazeri Slams US Embassy Seizure
September 21, 2003
Iran's leading dissident cleric, Grand Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri, has said the seizure of the American embassy in Tehran after the Islamic Revolution in 1980 was wrong.
This is the first time that a prominent leader of the Iranian revolution has made such an admission.
Ayatollah Montazeri, who was once designated as Ayatollah Khomeini's successor, called for an immediate resumption of relations with Washington.
The ayatollah, who was released from five years of house arrest in January, made the comments in an interview with a foreign newspaper.
Former leader Ayatollah Khomeini once described the seizure of the American embassy in Tehran as Iran's second revolution. But now his closest ally calls the move a big mistake.
Source of friction
This is a significant revision of the events of the Islamic Revolution.
It is widely believed that the occupation of the US diplomatic mission is the root cause of the continuing hostility between Tehran and Washington.
Ayatollah Montazeri has urged the Iranian Government to resume ties with the US and also criticised Iran's President Mohammad Khatami, for failing to fulfil his promises.
Mr Khatami's inaction, the ayatollah went on to say, has disappointed the Iranian people.
Ayatollah Montazeri, who is in his early 80s, said the people have every right to choose their rulers and criticise their action.
He pointed out that even the prophet Mohammad did not establish his rule before being accepted by his people.
The ayatollah attacked the existence of political prisoners in Iran and said Islam was against putting pressure on people for expressing their views.
This is Ayatollah Montazeri's second attack on the Iranian leadership in recent days. Last week, in his first public speech in six years, the ayatollah said most people in Iran were dissatisfied with their current rulers, and called for the issue to be put to the vote. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/3127350.stm
Iran is Poised to Join the Nuclear Club
September 21, 2003
The Mercury News
``Iran has been secretly developing the capability to make nuclear weapons.''
That is the chilling opening of a report in the latest issue of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists. By 2005, Iran could make enough highly enriched uranium to manufacture nuclear weapons, it said. Eventually, a vast secret underground enrichment facility whose existence was exposed last year could produce enough weapons-grade uranium to make 25-30 weapons a year.
The Iranian nuclear program, along with North Korea's, represents the greatest challenge to U.S. national security today. Unlike Iraq's apparently non-existent weapons of mass destruction, these two countries are moving quickly toward nuclear weapons. If they succeed, the entire international system of controls over nuclear proliferation will be in tatters.
A Western government official with detailed knowledge of the Iranian program told me recently that Iran is only six to nine months away from crossing a ``red line'' beyond which it will be impossible to stop it from developing nuclear weapons. And in early July, Iran tested a missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead 1,500 kilometers, putting Israel easily within its range.
Experts dismiss Iranian claims
The Iranian government continues to insist that its research is devoted solely to peaceful uses of nuclear energy. But many experts dismiss this claim. They point to numerous elements of the program that can only be useful for military ends. Suspicions have grown as Iran tried to conceal nuclear sites and then sanitized them before inspectors visited.
A nuclear Iran poses many dangers. Since the Islamic revolution of 1979, Iran has sponsored and directed terrorist organizations that have been tied to a series of attacks, including the Beirut barracks attack of 1983 that killed 242 Marines and the bombing of a Argentine Jewish center in 1994 that killed 85 people.
Iran is part of a network of nuclear proliferation that includes North Korea and Pakistan. These three countries have been trading nuclear and missile technology among themselves. Potentially they could supply other countries, and perhaps terrorists.
After months of trying to get Iran to come clean about its secret nuclear activities, the board of governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency met on Sept. 12 and issued an ultimatum. Iran has until Oct. 31 to prove it does not have a secret weapons program or be reported to the United Nations Security Council for possible economic sanctions. The resolution demands that Iran allow unrestricted inspections of its facilities and that it freeze all uranium enrichment activities.
The good news is that the United States is acting in concert with the Europeans, Japan and others who have come to share American alarm. The Europeans however differ from the Bush administration in offering Iran the prospect of continued cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy as part of any deal.
Russia plays a key role
A key player is Russia, which has resisted U.S. pressure to halt construction, now almost finished, of a nuclear power plant in Iran. The plant will dominate the agenda when Russian President Vladimir Putin comes to Camp David on Friday. The Russians are now negotiating a deal with Iran to return the spent nuclear fuel to Russia, which they believe will make it almost impossible to ever use that material to make weapons.
If Iran is ready to back off from building a bomb but also needs to preserve its dignity, the European approach makes sense. It may strengthen the hand of moderate elements within Iran who want to improve relations with the West. The key to ensuring that Iran is serious is not unrestricted inspections but a freeze on the enrichment program.
Iran may not have made up its mind yet whether to cross the nuclear Rubicon. ``I don't think the Iranians actually have a strategy other than to develop the capability to make a bomb,'' says proliferation specialist George Perkovich. Iran may try, for now, to buy time by appearing to cooperate with the IAEA demands.
But the Bush administration also shows no evidence of having a thought-out strategy toward Iran. Among the unanswered questions are: If Iran refuses to bow to the demands, will the United States consider military action? Will our allies support that? And would it even be effective?
The only thing that is clear is that while Iraq absorbs American attention, relations with Iran are quietly accelerating toward a showdown. http://www.bayarea.com/mld/mercurynews/news/opinion/6825319.htm
To: Pan_Yans Wife; fat city; freedom44; Tamsey; Grampa Dave; PhiKapMom; McGavin999; Hinoki Cypress; ...
The Bush-Putin Summit Agenda: Russian Peacekeepers for Iraq?
September 19, 2003
Ariel Cohen, Ph.D.
At the Camp David summit on September 25-27, Presidents George W. Bush and Vladimir Putin should put the recent U.S.-Russian differences over the Iraq war behind them and close ranks on rebuilding Iraq and defeating al-Qaeda.
The senior leadership of both countries recognizes that global terrorism is a strategic threat to their countries and to the West in general, whether in New York, the Caucasus, Moscow, or Baghdad.
At his August 30 press conference in Sardinia, Italy, Putin signaled a willingness to put past differences aside and negotiate an acceptable formula for Moscow's support of a U.N. Security Council resolution on sending U.N. peacekeepers to Iraq under U.S. command. Progress in such negotiations--and in the overall U.S.-Russian strategic relationship--will depend on the quid pro quo that the U.S. offers.
Restoring the U.S.-Russian anti-terrorism alliance may also spur other major powers, such as Germany, India, and possibly Turkey, to support U.S.-led efforts to shore up security in Iraq and restore the Iraqi economy.
Improving the Balance of Interests
Two years after the September 11 attacks, disagreements over Iraq--combined with the Moscow elite's perception that Russia has little to show for its unprecedented cooperation with Washington--have marred U.S.-Russian solidarity in the war on terrorism. This resulted in Russia's siding with France and Germany in opposition to the U.S.-led war in Iraq. As early as the fall of 2001, high-level officials in Moscow had signaled that recognition of Russian economic interests in Iraq could secure Moscow's support of the war, but the U.S. ignored their overtures.
Russian policymakers have also criticized the relationship as skewed against Moscow. Russia has acquiesced, for example, to U.S. withdrawal from the ABM Treaty, NATO enlargement, and U.S. deployment of forces in the Southern Caucasus and Central Asia, all of which are often cited as examples of the United States taking advantage of Russia. There is also dissatisfaction in Moscow because Congress has not lifted the obsolete 1974 Jackson-Vanik Amendment, which continues on a symbolic level to restrict Permanent Normal Trade Relations with Russia--despite Bush Administration pledges that the amendment would be repealed.
Russian criticism that the U.S.-Russian relationship is a one-way street may have some validity. But to be fair, since September 11, the United States has taken steps toward Moscow by declaring some Chechen extremists international terrorists and by pursuing cooperation with Russian companies on ballistic missile defense.
Some of Putin's political allies, especially from the secret police, nuclear power, and defense circles, still harbor anti-American sentiments and insist on Russia's "special path." This path includes building military presence and political influence in the former Soviet republics and coordinating policies with and selling arms to China and Iran. The transfer of Russian nuclear technology to Tehran is particularly dangerous and destabilizing. The new Russian overtures to Saudi Arabia are also a signal that Russia is keeping open the option of cutting a "separate deal" with the Islamic world to attract massive investment and prevent the financing of terrorist operations on Russian soil.
While all politics is local, all foreign policy is domestic: Future Russian foreign policy will be influenced by the continuing political struggle in Moscow between the Westernizers and authoritarian statists.
What Should the Bush Administration Do?
Improving anti-terrorism cooperation and pulling Russia closer to the U.S. side on Iraq may trigger competition between other powers to offer peacekeepers and support for the U.S. on Iraq, Iran, and the war on terrorism. At Camp David, President Bush should:
Request Russian support for the U.S. draft of the U.N. resolution authorizing U.N. peacekeepers for Iraq under U.S. military command while rejecting the French demands for a hasty transfer of power to the Iraqis. Putin and Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov have signaled that Russia will support U.N. peacekeepers under U.S. command in Iraq.
Invite Russian participation in the U.N. peacekeeping force for Iraq. While Russian U.N. Ambassador Sergey Lavrov has ruled out Russian troops in Iraq, peacekeepers could provide training, emergency relief, and oil pipeline security. Russia currently has up to 10,000 experienced peacekeepers who adequately cooperated with American troops in Bosnia and Kosovo.
Expand Russian participation in the reconstruction of Iraq. Russian companies have up to $1 billion in contracts to rebuild Iraq. The USSR built the Iraqi power grid, which is in need of major refurbishing, and Russian oil companies have contracts to increase production in the depleted Iraqi oil fields. Doubling the value of contracts for Russian participation in the reconstruction of Iraq would give Moscow an incentive to cooperate.
Urge Russia to cooperate in preventing further development of Iran's uranium enrichment and nuclear weapons program. On August 26, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) announced that it had found traces of weapons-grade uranium in Iran. Russia has expressed support for intrusive inspections under the IAEA's "additional protocol" and expects to conclude a spent fuel repatriation agreement with Tehran. However, as Iran is threatening to follow North Korea and withdraw from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, President Bush should encourage Russia to coordinate its position with Washington and stress that a nuclear-armed Iran will pose a strategic threat to Russia.
Explore further cooperation on missile defense. President Bush has signed a policy directive calling for missile defense cooperation with Russia, and he should use this summit to further this policy.
The Camp David summit is a strategic opportunity to put U.S.-Russian relations back on track. If successful, Presidents Bush and Putin will contribute to achieving security and peace in Iraq and strengthening the struggle against international terrorism.
Ariel Cohen, Ph.D., is Research Fellow in Russian and Eurasian Studies in the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies at The Heritage Foundation. http://www.heritage.org/Research/MiddleEast/EM901.cfm
Iran: An Islamic Experiment
September 19, 2003
Iran's Islamic Republic is unique not only in the world - where there are few enough other Islamic republics, and none at all where the Shia branch of Islam prevails - but also in Iran itself.
Never before have the clergy held full political power in the country, though they have usually been one of several important political forces.
So it is a unique experiment, and one which is currently in a state of acute ferment, with the outcome highly uncertain.
Some analysts argue that from the outset, there was a stark contradiction built into the regime's foundations, crystallised in the two words of its very name: Islamic and Republic.
To many, the first concept implies some form of divine rule, of theocracy; and the second means democracy, rule by the people.
That perceived contradiction is at the heart of today's intensifying struggle between reformists and hard-liners within the Iranian Islamic system.
The Supreme Leader
The reformists, led by the massively-elected President Mohammad Khatami and with a big majority in the current parliament, argue that ultimate sovereignty lies with the people, and that the entire political establishment - including the Supreme Leadership - should be responsive, transparent and accountable to the electorate.
While the reformists accept in principle the concept of Velayet e Feghih (the Rule of the Supreme Jurisconsult) which is one of the pillars of the Iranian Islamic regime, many of them would prefer the role of the Supreme Leader (the Vali e Feghih) to be ethereal and advisory, almost papal, rather than political, intrusive, and engaged with the levers of temporal power, as it currently very much is.
By contrast, most conservatives, and certainly the hard-liners, believe that the Vali e Feghih has a kind of divinely-bestowed authority which makes his intervention, on any issue he chooses, decisive and unchallengeable.
For some of them, it is at the core of the regime, its power and authority, and the trappings of democracy are ultimately little more than window-dressing.
One of the most common slogans chanted by Hezbollahis, Basijis and other hard-line defenders of the regime in confrontation with student or other protestors is: "Death to the opponents of the Velayet e Feghih!"
There is little doubt that the Islamic system was starting to drift badly out of touch with the people by 1997, when President Khatami suddenly burst on the scene with his surprise landslide victory.
Inefficiency, pervasive corruption and a general failure to move with the times were seen as the main factors behind a growing alienation.
Khatami and the reformists seemed to offer an answer to all that for the people - and for the regime, a new lease of life.
His idea of Islamic people's sovereignty held out the prospect of a system where the people's vote could make a difference and bring about change, where officials become servants not masters, where religion would imbue the country's values but not intrude oppressively as an imposed system.
He spoke directly to the vast new generation of young Iranians, and to women, and they responded massively.
"Iranians are traditionally very religious, but also open to new and open interpretations of religion," says Mahmoud Alinejad, an Iranian academic specialising in Islamic topics. "By voting for Khatami, they showed that they wanted change under an Islamic system, albeit a more liberal one."
It may also have reflected the fact that after two decades of revolutions and wars, many Iranians, irrespective of their Islamic commitment, have an almost innate conviction that abrupt change and upheavals take the country and their own prospects backwards.
So the vote for Khatami was also a vote for gradual change, for evolution, rather than another disruptive revolution.
Whether Khatami's liberal interpretation of Islamic democracy could have worked in objective conditions (if such a thing exists) may never be known.
But in the harsh world of real Iranian politics, it is generally deemed to have failed, not because of theoretical flaws, but because it was blocked by an entrenched minority of hard-liners determined to keep their grip on power.
Now the broad national mood is one of disillusion amounting to despair. This was reflected in the latest elections, in February, for city councils nationwide. In Tehran, where reformists swept the board in 1999, the turnout was a paltry 12%, allowing hard-liners to take over control by default.
Victory by default
The reformists now face a general election in February virtually empty-handed.
Practically all significant reformist legislation has been spiked by the Council of Guardians, a highly-conservative unelected body which has the right to vet and veto new bills.
Numerous reformists, liberals and student leaders have been put behind bars, with President Khatami and others powerless to do more than voice criticism.
Unless the conservatives judge that they cannot do without the popular support which the reformists might still be able to confer on the regime, and decide to give them some achievements to take to the polls, it is thought likely that there will be another large-scale abstention in the February elections.
The right-wing would be likely again to inherit the Majlis (parliament) and a year later the presidency, not because the pendulum of public favour had swung back their way, but by default and with minority support.
The most predictable result would be an even more disillusioned and bitter public alienation than that prevailing before Mr Khatami's advent in 1997 - unless the conservatives could somehow, and quickly, deliver some major achievements especially in the realms of economy and job-creation.
In that scenario, a narrowly-based right-wing Islamic regime might find its legitimacy under challenge more than ever before, from both within and outside the country.
If you would like to make a comment or ask the author a question about this article, we would like to hear from you. Send us your views using the form below. We will publish a selection of your emails, and send a further selection to the author for response.
The divisions that are made here do not seem to be very accurate. Most mainstream politicians in the different political camps in Iran believe in an Islamic democracy within the framework of the current constitution. While people are unhappy with the current economic situation in the country, they most definitely do not want "American or British help" in further strengthening their democracy. What they want is a change in attitude from these two countries and for the Iranian government to sort out the current economic problems facing the 'baby boom' generation.
Sasan Taymoori, Iran
What is clearly lacking among the reformists/democratic forces in Iran is a strategy of mass mobilization that will force the hard-line clerics to concede power. Martin Luther King Jr. once said: "We have learned from painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor, it must be demanded by the oppressed." In the context of Iranian politics today this means that politely asking the clerical elite to share power and to democratize Iran is a waste of time. This group has to be confronted with concrete action in the form of civil disobedience, boycotts, non-violent mass mobilization etc. Until they feel (and see) that their interests are threatened and it can no longer be business as usual they have no reason or incentive to relinquish power.
Nader Hashemi, Canada
I lived in Iran (Tehran to be exact) for a while even after the revolution and I know the people. The people of Iran show their rich Persian heritage and culture by being understanding and loving of others. At the same time, like the ancient Persians they will stand up and defend their country with everything they got as they did with the 8 year Iran-Iraq war. Bottom line, Iran needs time to heal itself. There cannot be another revolution; it will be disaster for the Middle East. We have to face it; we need to work with the people and the government of Iran to help them come out of the revolution style regime and into democracy. The UK has done a great job by opening diplomatic channels with Iran. The US should do the same.
Jack Jones, USA
Iran is an amazing country with some of the most hospitable people on earth. Regrettably they are ruled by a despotic reactionary religious theocracy based on the mullahs' constitution for the absolute rule of the clergy. This regime has no 'moderates'. That was yet another illusion created by the mullahs to fool the rest of the world and it worked for six years. Please let us not forget the recent student protests in June of this year in which over 4,000 people were arrested and tortured for demanding democracy and freedom. Please let us not forget Mrs Zahra Kazemi, the Canadian-Iranian photographer who was recently beaten to death in Iran by the state security forces for having taken photographs of the student protests. Further abuses of human rights include public executions by hanging or stoning to death and inhumane court sentences such as public flogging, gouging out of eyes and amputation of limbs. This is the present Iran as the 4 million Iranians living in exile and 70 million living in Iran know it.
Masoud Zabeti, England
The US and the West owe nothing to the Iranian government. They support terrorism and now are developing nuclear weapons. The US and the West owe it to the people of Iran and assist in revolution if they want it. There is no sugar coating the Iranian regime, they are evil.
Mike Daly, USA
I have no doubt that Iran will change for the better over time, but I am concerned that the regime does seem to be moving very quickly and deliberately to develop a nuclear capabality. The conventional arms race is bad enough in the region without the troubling prospect of nuclear weapons being held by a radical religious regime. Iran has the only population in the Middle East which had sympathy with what New Yorkers went through in 2001. It would be a shame if our two peoples could not work together for a better future. There are so many Iranians here in California who miss their home.
Mssr Renard, USA
Actually, the word "republic" has nothing to do with a democracy. Technically it is a country that is not a monarchy.
Michael Joe Thannisch, USA
The Iranian people have been trampled by this barbaric regime and those who supported it. This regime is the darkest part of Iranian history; everyone can expect another revolution, but this time an anti-Islamic revolution .
Soroosh, United States of America
The more I read about Islamic religious/political parties, the more they remind me of communism. They have a shared concept of suffering joyfully for the greater good i.e. God's will (as interpreted by those in power) or the will of the proletariat (again as interpreted by the powerful minority.) Regime survival requires a "super foe" to focus the minds of people away from their everyday drudgery; in this case the foe is Western 'decadence' and democracy; this is a role that the U.S. has ably played. Based on historical precedent, you would have to expect that the Islamic state (as distinct from the religion) will fall by the wayside as did communism as evidenced by the growing dissatisfaction in Iran.
Peter Thatcher, Australia
An interesting insight into the turbulent waters of Iranian politics. I have had to explain to quite a few people that Iran is a democracy and one of the most liberal Islamic countries in the world (bar Turkey's secularism), albeit beset by problems. I wish the US administration would do more to help (rather than hinder) Iran's fledgling modern society, rather than continuously antagonise them with accusations about nuclear weapons and supporting terrorism. It is in everyone's interest to ensure that Iran doesn't fall by the wayside especially with the chaos in Iraq. The last thing the Middle East needs is another unresponsive hard-line Islamic regime.
Matthew Adams, Thailand
Disclaimer: The BBC may edit your comments and cannot guarantee that all e-mails will be published. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/talking_point/special/islam/3112846.stm
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