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Iranian Alert -- December 12, 2003 -- IRAN LIVE THREAD
The Iranian Student Movement Up To The Minute Reports ^ | 12.12.2003 | DoctorZin

Posted on 12/12/2003 12:13:10 AM PST by DoctorZIn

The US media almost entirely ignores news regarding the Islamic Republic of Iran. As Tony Snow of the Fox News Network has put it, “this is probably the most under-reported news story of the year.” But most American’s are unaware that the Islamic Republic of Iran is NOT supported by the masses of Iranians today. Modern Iranians are among the most pro-American in the Middle East.

There is a popular revolt against the Iranian regime brewing in Iran today. Starting June 10th of this year, Iranians have begun taking to the streets to express their desire for a regime change. Most want to replace the regime with a secular democracy. Many even want the US to over throw their government.

The regime is working hard to keep the news about the protest movement in Iran from being reported. Unfortunately, the regime has successfully prohibited western news reporters from covering the demonstrations. The voices of discontent within Iran are sometime murdered, more often imprisoned. Still the people continue to take to the streets to demonstrate against the regime.

In support of this revolt, Iranians in America have been broadcasting news stories by satellite into Iran. This 21st century news link has greatly encouraged these protests. The regime has been attempting to jam the signals, and locate the satellite dishes. Still the people violate the law and listen to these broadcasts. Iranians also use the Internet and the regime attempts to block their access to news against the regime. In spite of this, many Iranians inside of Iran read these posts daily to keep informed of the events in their own country.

This daily thread contains nearly all of the English news reports on Iran. It is thorough. 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. The news stories and commentary will from time to time include material from the regime itself. But if you read the post you will discover for yourself, the real story of what is occurring in Iran and its effects on the war on terror.

I am not of Iranian heritage. I am an American committed to supporting the efforts of those in Iran seeking to replace their government with a secular democracy. I am in contact with leaders of the Iranian community here in the United States and in Iran itself.

If you read the daily posts you will gain a better understanding of the US war on terrorism, the Middle East and why we need to support a change of regime in Iran. Feel free to ask your questions and post news stories you discover in the weeks to come.

If all goes well Iran will be free soon and I am convinced become a major ally in the war on terrorism. The regime will fall. Iran will be free. It is just a matter of time.


TOPICS: Extended News; Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: iaea; iran; iranianalert; protests; southasia; studentmovement; studentprotest
Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
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Join Us At Today's Iranian Alert Thread – The Most Underreported Story Of The Year!

"If you want on or off this Iran ping list, Freepmail DoctorZin”

1 posted on 12/12/2003 12:13:10 AM PST by DoctorZIn
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To: Pan_Yans Wife; fat city; freedom44; Tamsey; Grampa Dave; PhiKapMom; McGavin999; Hinoki Cypress; ...
Join Us At Today's Iranian Alert Thread – The Most Underreported Story Of The Year!

"If you want on or off this Iran ping list, Freepmail DoctorZin”

2 posted on 12/12/2003 12:15:45 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn Shines Spotlight on Iranian Net Censorship

By Andrew L. Jaffee, December 11, 2003

The website has helped to turn some of the UN World Summit on the Information Society's focus to Iran's censorship of the Internet. According to the BBC, "hundreds" of Iranian Internet users have been posting comments on complaining about Iranian government censorship of more than 10,000 websites.

Pro-democracy Iranians and their supporters are hoping to pressure UN technology summit delegates into lobbying Iran's government to loosen its Net censorship. The BBC claims that in spite of government censorship, Iranian blogs were instrumental in rapidly spreading word about the UN summit and recent moves by the authorities to restrict access to websites like Google.

As Iran's ultra-conservative judiciary has shut down several magazines and newspapers in the past few years, Iranian citizens are increasingly turning to the Web to get information. According to the BBC, the Iranian government is trying to limit the number of indigenous Internet service providers (ISP's). In other words, they want more Iranians obtaining Internet connections through a smaller number of ISP's. This way, authorities will have an easier time monitoring and controlling their peoples' Net access.

But sites like are turning the pressure up on the Iranian government. Website members attending the UN summit, like Ahmed Reda, posed questions about Web censorship directly to Iranian President Khatami at a press conference. Though Khatami mentioned political blogs in Iran, he was evasive about the censorship issue. members said they "confronted" an Iranian official at the UN summit over Net censorship:

How does Ahmad Motamedi, Iran's minister for Information and Communication Technology (ICT), explain the huge number of websites censored in his country? "Sometimes mistakes happen," he said.

Some mistake. In a rare interview, Mr Motamedi claimed that officially just 240 sites were banned in Iran and that no-one was punished for writing anti-government messages online.

He had a harder time explaining the arrest of Sina Motallebi, the journalist and blogger held earlier this year.
The people at should be applauded for putting Iranian government officials on the spot. Khatami was elected president six years ago. He promised reform, but many Iranians have become fed up with the slow/nonexistent implementation of political changes. Iranians have since held many public demonstrations demanding reform. Most often, the authorities have responded with violence.

Violence is not reform. Censorship is not reform.
3 posted on 12/12/2003 12:19:31 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
An Iranian ‘no’ to imposed democracy

On June 13, United States Congressman Brad Sherman introduced legislation into the Committee on International Relations and the Ways and Means Committee of the House of Representatives for the purpose of “fostering democracy and freedom in Iran.”

Sherman’s bill is aimed at providing assistance to Iranian dissidents and opposition television broadcasters based in the United States, reimposing a total embargo on Iranian goods that had been partially lifted and giving President George W. Bush the authority to reduce US payments to the World Bank and other international financial institutions that provide loans to the Iranian government. The bill was cosponsored by 22 members of Congress and will be introduced for discussion on the floor in the near future. The so-called Iran Democracy and Freedom Support Act includes provisions from a previous Iran Democracy Act, submitted by Senator Sam Brownback, a Kansas Republican.

Proponents of the bill are among the staunchest supporters of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s government in Israel and have close links to pro-Israel groups in Washington. They also have ties to others who regularly take a hard-line on Iran, including Michael Ledeen of the American Enterprise Institute, Patrick Clawson of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and Richard Perle, the former Pentagon official who supported the US invasion of Iraq and has strongly advocated regime-change in the Middle East.

After Bush’s “axis of evil” speech, and especially in the past two months, tensions between the United States and Iran have greatly escalated. Pushing for a confrontation has been a coalition including Vice-President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Washington neoconservatives, the Israeli government and Iranian expatriates.

US Secretary of State Colin Powell and the European Union (EU) have prescribed a different approach. For example, on Oct. 28 the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing on Iran and invited in Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage. In his testimony Armitage declared the US would not pursue regime-change in Iran and would attempt other means to encourage democratization there.

However, such an attitude is not to everyone’s liking. US neocons have urged State to take a tougher approach to Iran. Similarly, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was pressured by Washington to condemn Tehran for violating the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT) and encouraged to pave the way for Security Council involvement in possible sanctions.

The Bush administration’s mounting problems in Iraq and its desire to further involve the Europeans in the Iraqi conflict forced it to reluctantly accept the EU’s softer position on Iranian NPT violations. The foreign ministers of Britain, Germany and France visited Tehran in October and convinced the Iranian government to accept IAEA demands. Under pressure from President Mohammad Khatami and the EU, conservatives within the Iranian government agreed to go along with this. Iran agreed to sign the Additional Protocol to the NPT, which gives the IAEA the right to conduct more intrusive inspections of atomic sites, without prior notice.

Iran’s agreement to sign the Additional Protocol was not enough for the neocons in Washington and the Sharon government. With the implicit approval of the US, Sharon threatened to take matters into Israel’s own hands and bomb Iranian nuclear facilities if the IAEA did not adopt a tougher stance.

As US foreign policy toward Iran has continued to swing between those favoring confrontation and those advocating a less provocative approach, the “confrontationalists” have failed to adequately consider the implications of their policies for Iran, the Middle East, and the international community. Iran’s goodwill in Afghanistan and Iraq, and its cooperation with the IAEA, has made little difference in the overall Washington mindset. The Sherman bill has the stamp of the neocons, the pro-Israel lobby and Iranian expatriates, who all advocate regime-change imposed from outside, rather than through domestic reform. So far, the behavior of the US and Israel suggests they are unconcerned about the establishment of Iranian democracy; rather, they seek a government in Tehran that is incapable of challenging American and Israeli hegemony in the region.

The Iranian expatriates encouraging the antagonistic US policies against Iran are mostly monarchists who supported the late shah’s tyranny to the end. They, too, care little for Iranian democracy, and wish merely to see a return of the old regime. The Sherman bill seeks to give US financial support to this group under the rubric “opposition broadcasters,” since the monarchists have established over 10 international television and radio stations in the US in order to destabilize the Iranian government. This group has negligible support in Iran, even inside opposition groups and in the student movements.

The opposition and democratic movements inside Iran are formed around nationalist and religious-nationalist groups, who advocate reform and change from within. These groups are critical of past and current American policies toward Iran, in particular the 1953 CIA-sponsored coup against the democratic government of Mohammad Mossadegh, which brought Shah Muhammad Reza Pahlavi back to power. They mistrust American claims of democratization because they believe the Bush administration has built up close links to individuals who lack any democratic credentials in Iran.

The Iranian nationalists, religious-nationalists and reformers also argue that American policies have severely undermined their own political aspirations and agendas. Such legislation as the Iran Democracy and Freedom Support Act, they argue, plays into the hands of Iranian conservatives, allowing them to justify their tight grip on power and their suppression of dissent under the guise of defending against an outside threat. Similarly, the Iranian expatriates supporting the US legislation know well that they do not have support inside Iran and, therefore, benefit from any confrontation with the US, since this can postpone homegrown Iranian reform initiatives.

Iran is not the only country that the United States has problems understanding, at least if one reads former US National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski correctly. He recently described American behavior in this way: “(It) can be summed up in a troubling paradox regarding the American position and the role in the world today. American power worldwide is at its historic zenith. American global political standing is at its nadir. Why? What is the cause of this? These are facts. They are measurable facts.

They’re also felt facts when one talks to one’s friends abroad who, like America, value what we treasure, but do not understand our policies, are troubled by our actions, and are perplexed by what they perceive to be either demagogy or mendacity.”

Mehdi Noorbaksh is a professor at the Center for International Studies at the University of St. Thomas, Houston. He wrote this commentary for THE DAILY STAR
4 posted on 12/12/2003 12:31:35 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
Iran's leader rules out nukes

From correspondents in Geneva
December 12, 2003

IRAN'S President Mohammad Khatami insisted overnight that his country would not make nuclear weapons, as he told Muslims they should embrace western democracy.

Launching an urgent appeal for dialogue between Islam and Christianity, Khatami told an audience at the World Council of Churches (WCC) that Iran's dominant Islamic faith ruled out the use of nuclear weapons.

"We cannot seek nuclear weapons because of our religious faith, I told our religious leaders," he said, speaking through an interpreter.

"The Islam that I know does not allow the use of nuclear weapons, then we cannot go ahead and manufacture them," the Iranian president added in response to questions.

Khatami's comments came a day after Iran said it had given the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) the formal go-ahead to carry out more intrusive inspections of its suspect nuclear programme.,4057,8140753%255E1702,00.html
5 posted on 12/12/2003 12:33:00 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
EU to argue case with US for dialogue with Iran
By Judy Dempsey in Brussels

Published: December 11 2003 18:52 | Last Updated: December 11 2003 18:52

Javier Solana, the European Union's foreign policy chief, travels to Washington next week to press the argument that Europe's political and diplomatic dialogue with Iran remains a crucial element in attempts to curb Tehran's nuclear programme.

The visit comes at a delicate point in relations between the EU and US over Iran. The US administration is divided over whether to call openly for regime change in Iran or give the diplomatic track currently pursued by the Europeans a chance.

Neo-conservatives in Washington continue to advocate regime change. But Richard Armitage, deputy secretary of state, said "regime change" was not US policy at a Senate hearing on October 28

"The administration is divided over Iran. But we are not going to change our policy. We are waiting for the Iranians to deliver. But that does not mean just being passive," said an EU diplomat involved in negotiations with Iran.

Earlier this week, Mr Solana won support from foreign ministers for a visit to Iran next month, where he will spell out EU policy towards the Islamic Republic - if Iran meets all its obligations set out in the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

The decision to send Mr Solana came after Iran said it would sign the "additional protocol", opening the way to enhanced inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations nuclear watchdog. It also agreed to suspend uranium enrichment - a process required for producing nuclear weapons. The IAEA will monitor the suspension.

Italy, holder of the EU's six-monthly rotating presidency, said Iran should be rewarded for taking those decisions even though it has yet to sign the additional protocol. Franco Frattini, Italian foreign minister, said ministers should consider resuming negotiations on a trade and co-operation agreement. These talks are linked to progress on issues including human rights, combating terrorism, respect for Iran's nuclear obligations and supporting any Middle East peace process.

Britain, France and Germany, which together forged the EU's distinctive policy towards Iran, forced Italy to back down, saying it was too early to send such signals to Iran.

"If we talk about resuming these [trade and co-operation] negotiations, what leverage is then left to us?" asked another EU diplomat. "Iran has to deliver. This will take time, a year or two. We have to judge when is the right time to send the signals."
6 posted on 12/12/2003 12:34:45 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
7 posted on 12/12/2003 12:46:30 AM PST by windchime
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To: All
`Peace prize belongs to people of Iran'

Dec. 12, 2003
Toronto Star

Shirin Ebadi, speaking in Farsi, accepted her Nobel Peace Prize Wednesday recognizing her human rights work, particularly the rights of women and children, in her native Iran. Here is an edited excerpt from a translation of her Nobel Lecture:

The people of Iran have been battling against consecutive conflicts between tradition and modernity for more than 100 years. By resorting to ancient traditions, some have tried and are trying to see the world through the eyes of their predecessors and to deal with the problems and difficulties of the existing world by virtue of the values of the ancients.

But many others, while respecting their historical and cultural past and their religion and faith, seek to go forth in step with world developments and not lag behind the caravan of civilization, development and progress.

The people of Iran, particularly in recent years, have shown that they deem participation in public affairs to be their right, and that they want to be masters of their own destiny.

This conflict is observed not merely in Iran, but also in many Muslim states. Some Muslims, under the pretext that democracy and human rights are not compatible with Islamic teachings and the traditional structure of Islamic societies, have justified despotic governments, and continue to do so.

In fact, it is not so easy to rule over a people who are aware of their rights, using traditional, patriarchal and paternalistic methods.

The discriminatory plight of women in Islamic states, too, whether in the sphere of civil law or in the realm of social, political and cultural justice, has its roots in the patriarchal and male-dominated culture prevailing in these societies, not in Islam.

This culture does not tolerate freedom and democracy, just as it does not believe in the equal rights of men and women, and the liberation of women from male domination (fathers, husbands, brothers), because it would threaten the historical and traditional position of the rulers and guardians of that culture. . . .

The decision by the Nobel Peace Committee to award the 2003 prize to me, as the first Iranian and the first woman from a Muslim country, inspires me and millions of Iranians and nationals of Islamic states with the hope that our efforts, endeavours and struggles toward the realization of human rights and the establishment of democracy in our respective countries enjoy the support, backing and solidarity of international civil society.

This prize belongs to the people of Iran.

It belongs to the people of the Islamic states, and the people of the South for establishing human rights and democracy.
8 posted on 12/12/2003 1:24:28 AM PST by F14 Pilot
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To: F14 Pilot
Iranians' comment over internet censorship.
9 posted on 12/12/2003 1:29:30 AM PST by F14 Pilot
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To: All
Iran's Afsaneh Noroozi may soon be released

IranMania News
11th of Dec, 2003

Tehran, (IranMania) – Iran’s controversial prisoner, Afsaneh Noroozi, may soon be set free as her lawyer headed for Kish Island, Southern Iran to pave the way for his client’s release.

Abdolsamad Khorramshahi told reporters that the Bandar Abbas court received the letter of Iran’s Judiciary Chief on the invalidation of the execution ruling so that the country’s Supreme Court can further investigate the case.”

“Afsaneh Noroozi will be released on bail and the Supreme Court will issue the final ruling. That’s why I decided to travel to Kish to meet the judge in charge of the case in person.” he added.

In 1997, Afsaneh Noroozi stabbed to death a police officer on the Persian Gulf island of Kish, she testified that he had tried to rape her in his office. Iranian women MPs and reformists have been campaigning on her behalf in Iran.
10 posted on 12/12/2003 1:36:51 AM PST by F14 Pilot
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To: DoctorZIn
A year or two??? This is almost the most ridiculous thing I have read in quite some time. Would the student dissenters in Iran truly trust France and Germany NOT to help the hardliners in Iran's present government? My Lord. They want money and lots of it. They want an arrow aimed at Israel. The LAST thing they want is a FREE IRAN!
11 posted on 12/12/2003 2:29:19 AM PST by Nix 2 ( QUINN AND ROSE IN THE AM)
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To: F14 Pilot
People of the South, she says?
12 posted on 12/12/2003 3:48:06 AM PST by Pan_Yans Wife ("Your joy is your sorrow unmasked." --- GIBRAN)
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To: DoctorZIn
They mistrust American claims of democratization because they believe the Bush administration has built up close links to individuals who lack any democratic credentials in Iran.

Name names. Just which people are they taking about,here? Who do they wish Bush would avoid? I've been wishing he would engage people on the issue, out in the open. Haven't read a headline lately that says Mr. Bush met with Mr. X, of XXXXXXXX Movement for Iran.

13 posted on 12/12/2003 4:20:34 AM PST by Pan_Yans Wife ("Your joy is your sorrow unmasked." --- GIBRAN)
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To: DoctorZIn
A slap on the wrist is no punishment. The EU nations have no shame. Their greed blinds them to evil.
14 posted on 12/12/2003 4:22:06 AM PST by Pan_Yans Wife ("Your joy is your sorrow unmasked." --- GIBRAN)
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To: DoctorZIn
Student Day in Iran

December 12, 2003
VOA News

“Free all political prisoners!” and “Death to despotism!” were some of the chants heard December 7th in Tehran during the annual Student Day. The slogans were a message to the Iranian clerical regime that its radical Islamic program had failed to create a better society –- and continues to make life worse for many Iranians.

According to news reports, some fifteen-hundred Iranian students joined the demonstration, which marked the anniversary of student deaths in protests in 1953.

Some of the protestors directed their frustration at President Mohammed Khatami. Leila Zanjani Zanjani, a female student leader, told the Associated Press that, “Khatami doesn’t have the courage to fulfill his promise. . .unfortunately, after six years failing to enforce promised democratic reforms. Khatami,” said Ms. Zanjani, “has lost the confidence of the young generation.”

Ms. Zanjani speaks for many Iranians who want a free and democratic state, and who denounce the theocratic system.

The U.S. supports the Iranian aspiration for democracy. U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage recently told the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, “There’s no question that the Iranian regime is engaged in destructive policies and actions.”

Iran has an abysmal human rights record. Its pursuit of weapons of mass destruction threatens to destabilize the region. Iran continues to support terrorist groups, including Hezbollah, Hamas, and Palestine Islamic Jihad. And, as White House spokesman Scott McClellan says, Iran is still harboring al-Qaida terrorists:

“Iran must change its course, change its behavior –- particularly on the issue of its relationship with al-Qaida and the Ansar al-Islam terrorist organizations, and that would be an important step.”

The Iranian people have made it clear that they oppose the price their government has imposed on them for its support for terrorism. Instead, they want their government to devote itself to more constructive purposes, such as reintegrating Iran into the world community, revitalizing the Iranian economy, and engaging in genuine democratic reform.
15 posted on 12/12/2003 7:24:15 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
Mystery of Iran's Missing Jews

December 12, 2003
Jewish Telegraph

Babak Tehrani was 17 years old in June 1994 when he hugged his parents and two younger brothers, left his home in Tehran and, guided by a well-paid smuggler, tried to slip across rugged mountains into Pakistan.

He was joined by his friend Shaheen Nikkhoo, 20.

The two were caught by Iranian police at the border town of Zahedan - and haven't been heard from since.

Tehrani and Nikkhoo are among 11 Iranian Jews, ranging in age from 15 to 57 at the time of their ill-fated flights, who were caught and arrested while trying to leave Iran in the 1990s.


All attempts to learn of their fate or win their freedom through personal pleas or backdoor diplomacy have been met with evasions or silence by Iranian authorities.

Now, for the first time, their families and the Jewish organisations backing them have decided to go public and enlist the help of the UN and media.

''The families have lost patience, and we've lost hope that those responsible elements in Iran will release these prisoners voluntarily,'' said Sam Kermanian, secretary-general of the Iranian American Jewish Federation.

''We are therefore in need of international support.''

According to the IAJF's latest information, the 11 men were spotted alive earlier this year in a Tehran prison.

The other missing Jews are aged between 24 and 66 - and include two pairs of brothers. All disappeared between 1994 and 1997. A twelfth Jew, Eshagh Hassid, 66, last spoke with his sister in February 1997 and indicated he would try to leave the country. His fate is unclear.

Kermanian said flight across Iran's south-eastern border with Pakistan is common - and was even more so during the mid-1990s, when emigration rules were more stringent.

''Everybody chooses this route for different reasons, but thousands of Jews and millions of non-Jews have left Iran through these means,'' he said.

The restrictions on Jews in Iran were particularly tough during the mid-1990s. For example, entire families were forbidden from emigrating; at least one member had to remain.


Emigration restrictions have been eased somewhat since then.

However, some have suggested that Iran wants at least some Jews to remain in the country as virtual hostages to deter any potential attack from Israel. Others say they fear a wholesale Jewish exodus would damage Iran's image.

Indeed, whenever Iran's human rights record is criticised, Iranian officials counter by saying minority groups like Armenians, Assyrians, Zoroastrians and Jews - have elected representatives in Parliament.

Nevertheless, since Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution, the Jewish community has dwindled from 100,000 to between 20,000 to 25,000.

''This would be the first government in Persia in 2,500 years to make the country devoid of Jews, and that would not reflect well on the regime,'' Kermanian said.

In the first few years after the men disappeared, advocates hoped Iran's new president, Mohammed Khatami, would prove to be as moderate as he portrayed himself. But the moderation -- especially vis-a-vis the Jews -- never materialised.

The first publicised word of the 11 came in September 2000, when Mehdi Kharroubi, the speaker of Iran's Parliament said during a visit to New York that he would look into the issue.

But that contact came amid more intense, public lobbying efforts to win the release of 10 of the original 'Iran 13' - Jews jailed in 1999 on charges of spying for Israel.

Since then, little has been heard publicly about the missing 11.

Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice-chairman of the US Jewish Conference of Presidents, said of the missing men: ''After nine years with little progress, we still haven't been able to even verify if they're alive or in prison.''

Now UN secretary-general Kofi Annan has been asked to ascertain the men's whereabouts and condition - and to obtain their release.

Ramin Nikkhoo of Los Angeles, Shaheen Nikkhoo's older brother, said: ''I wake up and think about him. I shower, I eat, I go to work, and all the time I think about him. I feel the same anguish as I did on the first day, nine years ago.

''The Iranians can't just get away with kidnapping men, they have to give them back to their families.
16 posted on 12/12/2003 7:25:37 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
Iran's President Defends Web Control

December 12, 2003
BBC News
Aaron Scullion

Iran's policy of blocking access to certain websites has been defended by the country's authorities at the UN digital summit.

Speaking in Geneva, Iran's President Mohammad Khatami insisted that the country only blocks access to 240 "pornographic and immoral" websites.

He said the ban only applies to sites that are incompatible with Islam, and a government official added that "all political sites are free".

Online censorship in Iran became a big issue at the summit after hundreds of Iranians flooded a website covering the event with complaints about restricted access.

'Criticism is OK'

The web has become an important alternative method of communication in Iran, with the authorities often imposing heavy penalties on any net service providers that fail to block access to their list of restricted websites.

More than 10,000 sites are banned in Iran, according to reports.

But when questioned by BBC News Online over this figure, President Khatami insisted the number was much smaller - just 240 - and that the authorities were not blocking pro-reform sites.

"We are exerting greater control over pornographic and immoral websites that are not compatible with Islam", President Khatami said.

"But we are not censoring criticism. Criticism is OK.

"Even political websites that are openly opposed to the Iranian government ... are available to the Iranian people."

President Khatami added that Western broadcasters, such as the BBC, would not be blocked in Iran.

'No punishment defined'

Iran's minister for information technology, Ahmad Motamedi, added that there was "no punishment defined" for people publishing material the government did not agree with, despite the detention of Sina Motallebi, an Iranian blogger and journalist, earlier in 2003.

Dr Motamedi first insisted he knew nothing of the story, and then said the writer "has been arrested but not in relation to weblogs."

The minister offered an example, "If somebody is a weblog writer, and kills somebody, should they not be arrested?"

President Khatami also spoke of the popularity of weblogs in his country, saying "I do not use weblogs - but I do not use many good things."

"Our youth and adolescents during high school, and university, are using weblogs very extensively. Access for youth to the internet is very satisfactory."

He added that, after English and French, more weblogs were written in Persian that any other language.

'Freedom not chaos'

that "principles of democracy" were key to a knowledge-based society.

Speaking to journalists, President Khatami added, "democracy runs in tandem with freedom of expression, but this does not mean that everything goes.

"Freedom of expression and freedom of thought are the preconditions of a democratic society. But freedom does not mean chaos".

President since 1997, Mohammad Khatami held the post of minister of culture and Islamic guidance in the 1980s.

He was eventually forced to resign over accusations that he was too permissive in sanctioning books, magazines and films which some considered subversive.
17 posted on 12/12/2003 7:26:42 AM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
Geopolitical Diary: Friday, Dec. 12, 2003

U.S.-Iranian relations continued to move forward Dec. 11. Iran announced that it has arrested 130 al Qaeda members and is prepared to extradite them. Iranian President Mohammad Khatami said in Geneva, "Those who have committed crimes in Iran will be judged in Iran and the others will be extradited to the country of their origin. There is no place for al Qaeda, no place for any terrorist for those who act against peace in the world." Iran also praised the Iraqi Governance Council's (a.k.a., the United States) announcement that it will turn over Mujahadin-e-Kahalq members to Iran. The Mujahadin-e-Khalq is a group of Iranian exiles that had been operating against Iran under Saddam Hussein's regime.

This all confirms reports that surfaced over the weekend of Dec. 6 that King Abdullah of Jordan was brokering a U.S.-Iranian deal to exchange al Qaeda for Mujahadin-e-Khalq. When the history of this period is written, we expect it to be revealed that King Abdullah has served as one of the most important channels between Washington and Tehran.

(text deleted for copyright reason)

There are many winners in this deal, but what they win is still murky. Much less murky are the losers: the Mujahedin-al-Khalq and al Qaeda members being swapped have some seriously uncomfortable moments ahead. If al Qaeda allow this to go forward without response, they will seem helpless. A few months more of this and their credibility will start to dissipate. Therefore, they must do something. Therefore, they will -- if they can.

source: stratfor
18 posted on 12/12/2003 9:56:38 AM PST by AdmSmith
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To: DoctorZIn
Japan-Iran Oil Project Talks Stalled - Kyodo

December 12, 2003
Dow Jones Newswires
Dow Jones

TOKYO -- A Japanese business consortium and Iran appear unable to avoid a rupture in their stalled negotiations for a major oil development project unless the Iranian government makes a concession, the Kyodo news agency reported Friday, citing officials in the Japanese group.

Differences over contract terms remain wide, they said.

At issue is a project to develop part of the Azadegan oil field in southwestern Iran, which is one of the largest oil fields in the country, Kyodo said.

Earlier this week, Iran virtually set a deadline for concluding the negotiations by urging the state-backed Japanese consortium to clarify its official position on the issue by Monday, saying the Japanese group will have to participate in an international bidding process for the project unless the Iranian request is met by then, Kyodo said.

An official in the consortium, which includes Tomen Corp., Inpex Corp. and Japan Petroleum Exploration Co., said the project will be unprofitable under terms proposed by Iran with regard to how to treat fees and share expenses, according to Kyodo.

Another official said, "Progress in negotiations is difficult" in light of the U.S. government's opposition to Japanese participation in the project because of Tehran's alleged nuclear weapons program, Kyodo reported.

Unless the deadline set for Monday is designed for "bargaining tactics, no agreement is possible," he said. "We will have to ask for freezing negotiations until the international situation stabilizes," according to Kyodo.

The preferential negotiation rights awarded to the Japanese business group expired at the end of June, but the Iranian government has continued to deal with it while inviting other foreign businesses to submit bids, Kyodo cited.
19 posted on 12/12/2003 5:28:04 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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To: DoctorZIn
Iraqi Council Could Seek US Help To Eject Anti-Iran Group

December 12, 2003
Dow Jones Newswires
The Associated Press

BAGHDAD -- The Iraqi Governing Council might ask the U.S. military to expel an anti-Iran paramilitary group from Iraq, but the council has no plans to hand them over to Iran, where they are wanted for terrorist attacks, two Iraqi officials said Friday.

Earlier this week, the U.S.-appointed council decided to expel by year's end the 3,800 members of the Mujahedeen Khalq, listed as a terrorist organization by the U.S. and the European Union.

"We might ask the Americans because they have the military capabilities," Governing Council member Dara Noor al-Din said. "We don't have an army and the police force isn't well enough equipped to face the Mujahedeen, because they have light weapons."

The U.S.-led administration of Iraq will meet the council to discuss the expulsion of the Mujahedeen Khalq, said a spokesman for the Coalition Provisional Authority, or CPA.

The coalition official, who spoke in a briefing with media on condition of anonymity, didn't say whether the U.S. military would forcibly eject the group.

"We and the Governing Council and most Iraqis agree that the Mujahedeen Khalq is a terrorist organization and needs to be dealt with as such," the official said.

The group was disarmed by U.S. forces and is currently being held inside its camp northeast of Baghdad. Mujahedeen members at the camp said they were prohibited by the U.S. military from speaking with the press.

The Mujahedeen Khalq has for years sought to topple Iran's clerical government and kept an army in Iraq. During Saddam Hussein's rule, its fighters are believed to have taken part in some of Saddam's campaigns to suppress dissent among the country's Kurdish and Shiite Muslim communities.

The coalition briefer said he had no information on speculation that the group might be bartered away in a prisoner swap between the U.S. and Iran. A swap would hand the Mujahedeen Khalq to Tehran in exchange for members of al-Qaida in Iranian custody.

The administration of U.S. President George W. Bush administration has called on Tehran to detain and hand over al-Qaida members in Iran. In October, Bush said it would improve Iranian-U.S. relations "if we end up reaching an agreement on the al-Qaida that they hold."

Officials in the U.S. Department of State have criticized U.S. defense officials for agreeing to a wartime cease-fire with the Mujahedeen Khalq, after initially bombing the group's base during the war. Some in the U.S. have commended the Mujahedeen for battling the Iranian clerical regime, and the Pentagon is thought to be more sympathetic to its goals than the State Department.

Recently, however, the U.S. appears to have taken a harder line against the group, and Iraqi Governing Council members - eager to mend ties with Iran - seem ready to dispose of a band of fighters whose presence has become an embarrassment.

Still, the Governing Council has no plans to hand the group, known as the MEK, to Tehran.

"We're not concerned where the MEK are going to go," said Entifadh Qanbar, a spokesman for Governing Council member Ahmad Chalabi. "They can choose their own destination. We've given them sufficient time to gather their stuff and leave the country."
20 posted on 12/12/2003 5:29:23 PM PST by DoctorZIn (Until they are free, we shall all be Iranians!)
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