Subject: DNI-NEWS Digest - 22 Feb 2000 to 23 Feb 2000 - Special issue

There are 16 messages totalling 1222 lines in this issue.

Topics in this special issue:

1. Omani police shoot dead two Iranian drug smugglers
2. Senate Takes Up Iran Sanctions Bill
3. Top Iran Candidate Lays Out Agenda
4. One soldier reported killed, 11 hurt in Iran clash
5. Iran's Reformers Talk of U.S. Ties
6. IRNA: latest tehran election results
7. IRNA: daily scoffs at flatterers
8. IRNA: minister: press safeguards reverence for freedom
9. BBC: Iran parliament meets after election shock
10. BBC: Iran's hardliners at crossroads
11. CNN: Conservatives could stymie Iran's reformist parliament
12. salon.com: Iran votes for change
13. Looking back at two years of reforms and counter reforms/Iran Analysis
14. Iran's leader said to pardon student playwrights
15. Iran says to hold anti-U.S. rally at haj
16. Iranians Study Election Results

Date: Wed, 23 Feb 2000 05:13:02 EST
From: Iran Man <IRANEHMAN@AOL.COM>
Subject: Omani police shoot dead two Iranian drug smugglers

Omani police shoot dead two Iranian drug smugglers


MUSCAT, Feb 23 (Reuters) - Police in Oman shot dead two Iranian drug
traffickers and injured a third as they tried to smuggle narcotics into the
Gulf Arab state, the official news agency ONA reported.

It said late on Tuesday that the Iranians had been trying to land a large
quantity of drugs at a beach in the northern city of Sohar on Monday, and
that they had opened fire at police when asked to surrender.

``The ROP (Royal Oman Police) men returned fire, killing two of them and
injuring the third smuggler,'' it said.

The agency did not say what quantity of drugs was being smuggled.

Oman has repeatedly warned that drug traffickers are taking advantage of its
long, barren 1,700-km (1,000 mile) coastline to smuggle narcotics.

Oman is situated near Iran, which is a major transit route for drugs smuggled
from Afghanistan and Pakistan to lucrative markets in Europe and the oil-rich
Gulf Arab states.

Date: Wed, 23 Feb 2000 05:16:14 EST
From: Iran Man <IRANEHMAN@AOL.COM>
Subject: Senate Takes Up Iran Sanctions Bill

Senate Takes Up Iran Sanctions Bill

By JIM ABRAMS
.c The Associated Press


WASHINGTON (AP) - The Senate is taking up legislation that would strengthen
the hand of the president in punishing Russia and others that aid Iran's
weapons programs. Senators said they hoped the bill would help Iranian
reformists who triumphed in recent elections.

The Clinton administration opposes the bill, which it says complicates
nonproliferation efforts, but Democrats said enough changes had been made to
avoid a presidential veto.

The White House threatened a veto last September when the House passed a
similar bill by 419-0. A Senate vote is scheduled for Thursday.

Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., said he hoped the legislation
would help the reformers against those bent on harming the United States.

He said that despite the reformists' election advances, the situation is
still ``quite scary. Iran's leaders now and in the future would be in the
possession of nuclear-tipped ICBMS capable of reaching Washington or Los
Angeles or New York.''

The legislation would require the president to submit reports to Congress
every six months identifying those providing Iran with material promoting
Iran's missile and weapons systems.

The president would have the option of cutting off arms sales or economic aid
to those nations helping Iran's weapons programs. He could also waive
sanctions for national security reasons.

The bill also states that the United States could only make payments to the
Russian Space Agency for its role in building the International Space Station
when the president determines that Russia is actively opposing proliferation
to Iran.

The bill ``is not anti-Russian,'' said Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del. ``But we are
manifestly anti-proliferation. We will not tolerate vicious and venal persons
plunging the world into a new Cold War.''

The bill ``sends a message to our friends in Russia about the intensity of
our concern about their part in helping Iran develop weapons of mass
destruction,'' said Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn.

The president in 1998 vetoed legislation that, unlike the current bill, would
have required the imposition of sanctions against those helping Iran build
missiles.

Heading off a possible veto override, Vice President Al Gore shortly
thereafter announced sanctions on seven Russian entities suspected of
transferring weapons technology to Iran. In 1999 three more Russian groups
were added to the list.

But legislators said the administrative action, while needed, did not go far
enough. Lott said that Russia, as well as China and North Korea, have not
sufficiently opposed the clandestine transfer of materials to Iran. The
administration strategy ``has failed to slow the flow of this dangerous
technology,'' he said.

Lott and others pointed to CIA warnings earlier this year that Iran may be
closer than previous believed to amassing a nuclear arsenal and that Russia,
already a top supplier of weapons to Iran, had agreed to sell Iran more
nuclear reactors for power generation.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The bill number is H.R. 1883.

Date: Wed, 23 Feb 2000 05:17:50 EST
From: Iran Man <IRANEHMAN@AOL.COM>
Subject: Top Iran Candidate Lays Out Agenda

Top Iran Candidate Lays Out Agenda

By AFSHIN VALINEJAD
.c The Associated Press


TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - Iran's top parliamentary vote-getter has said his party's
priorities when it reaches Parliament will be tackling the economy,
increasing press freedoms and working with the government to speed up
reforms.

Mohammadreza Khatami - President Mohammad Khatami's younger brother and the
head of the largest and most influential reformist party, the Islamic Iran
Participation Front - so far has garnered the largest percentage of votes in
any of the races in Friday's legislative elections.

He laid out his party's agenda at a news conference after it became clear
that the reformist coalition would win the elections, ousting hard-liners
from the legislature after a 21-year domination.

Our priority will be to ``solve the problems that the people are now facing,
like inflation, unemployment and the high cost of living,'' Khatami said.
Iran, a nation of 62 million, half of whom are under the age of 25, suffers
from more than 20 percent unemployment and high inflation.

In Tehran, more than 55 percent of the votes announced so far were for
Khatami. Reformists have 141 seats nationwide, more than 70 percent of the
195 seats that have already been decided.

Conservatives have won 44 seats and independents 10. Another 65 seats are to
be decided in run-offs for the 290-member house. Only the results for 30
seats in Tehran are outstanding, and reformers are leading the vote count in
nearly all of them, state television said.

President Khatami, who came to power in a landslide victory in 1997, promised
social and political freedoms to Iranians tired of decades of strict Islamic
rule.

But the previous hard-line dominated Majlis, or parliament, had attempted to
thwart his attempts, impeaching his interior minister and summoning other
officials to criticize how they were doing their jobs. A favorite target was
Culture Minister Ataollah Mohajerani, responsible for granting newspaper
licenses.

Even though beaten in the elections, the hard-liners still wield power
through key institutions such as the Guardians Council, which must approve
all legislation.

Reformists say they are confident that hard-liners will not want to use those
powers to block legislation and risk angering a majority of Iranians.

A free press - the result of Khatami's reforms - and live broadcasts of
parliamentary proceedings could also keep the hard-liners from resorting to
heavy-handed methods.

The hard-liners seem resigned to the fact that they must change their ways.
Most conservatives, stunned by the extent of their defeat, would not talk to
reporters, but a leading ideologue was quoted as saying that the conservative
camp must change its policies.

``We will not change our principles and positions, but it is natural that we
should reconsider our policies and methods,'' Mohammadreza Bahonar, a
conservative lawmaker in the outgoing Parliament, was reported as saying by
the independent Iran Vij daily.

Front-runner Khatami and other reformists have called for detente between
Iran and the United States, a move vigorously opposed by hard-liners, who
view Washington as Iran's archenemy.

However, Khatami made it clear that the new parliament would not rush to
endorse talks with the United States without concrete steps from Washington.

``We are waiting for practical steps from the United States, more than nice
words,'' Khatami said.

He criticized Washington for maintaining U.S. sanctions against Iran.

``The United States supported the totalitarian regime of the shah,'' he told
reporters. ``And now that Iran has become one of the most free nations, it
continues its policy of sanctions and continues its baseless claims against
Iran.''

U.S. relations with Iran broke off during the 1979 revolution that ousted the
U.S.-backed shah and brought the clergy to power. Demonstrators seized the
U.S. Embassy and held 52 Americans captive until January 1981.

A U.S. law allows for sanctions on any company that invests more than $20
million in Iran's oil industry. Washington accuses Tehran of trying to
procure nuclear weapons and of opposing the Middle East peace process.

Date: Wed, 23 Feb 2000 05:19:01 EST
From: Iran Man <IRANEHMAN@AOL.COM>
Subject: One soldier reported killed, 11 hurt in Iran clash

One soldier reported killed, 11 hurt in Iran clash


TEHRAN, Feb 23 (Reuters) - A soldier was killed and 11 injured in a shooting
at an airbase in southern Iran after a dispute between members of the
Revolutionary Guards and air force personnel, an Iranian newspaper said on
Wednesday.

The reformist daily Sobh-e Emrouz said gunmen opened fire on air force
conscripts and officers after Revolutionary Guards laid claim to a disputed
tract of land at the airbase, near the southern city of Shiraz.

The newspaper, which did not say when the attack occured, quoted witnesses as
saying the Revolutionary Guards were to blame for the attack.

There was no official confirmation of the incident.

Local journalists said the shooting broke out after the Guards tried to take
the strip of land by force.

Tension between Iran's traditional armed forces and the Revolutionary Guards,
which is expanding its naval and air force capabilities, is common but
outright clashes are rare.

Date: Wed, 23 Feb 2000 05:26:52 EST
From: Iran Man <IRANEHMAN@AOL.COM>
Subject: Iran's Reformers Talk of U.S. Ties

Back: Washington Post (US): Iran's
Reformers Talk of U.S. Ties

2/23/00

Iran's Reformers Talk of U.S. Ties

The Washington Post
By Howard Schneider

Wednesday, February 23, 2000
Page A01

TEHRAN, Feb. 22—The leader of Iran's victorious reform
coalition said today
the new parliament "will consider a policy of detente"
with the United States
and the West but added that it will be up to Washington
to take the first steps
toward renewing ties.

"America supported a regime that was the most brutal in
the world," said
Mohammed Reza Khatemi, referring to U.S. support for
Shah Mohammad Reza
Pahlavi, who was ousted in the 1979 Shiite Muslim
revolution in which followers
of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini installed a hard-line
Islamic government.

"Although America has said they want relations, they
have not taken any
positive steps. It has always been talk," said Khatemi,
the coalition's top
vote-getter in Tehran in Friday's parliamentary election
and a brother of
reform-minded President Mohammed Khatemi. "We still face
hostile sanctions
and allegations [of supporting terrorism] against us
that are unproven."

He added: "We are waiting for practical steps from the
United States more than
just nice words."

In Washington, Clinton administration officials said
they were looking for ways
to engage Iran in a dialogue as a result of the
election. [See story, Page A17]

Khatemi's remarks on U.S. relations were the most
extensive from the reform
movement since it scored its stunning electoral victory
by capturing at least
two-thirds of the 290-seat parliament. While his
comments suggested a
willingness to consider improved ties with Washington,
they also reflected little
change from the existing government's cautious approach.

"As the government has announced, we want relations with
all nations, and
parliament will consider a policy of detente," Khatemi
said at a news
conference. "What's important is the national interest."

Khatemi, the leader of the Islamic Iran Participation
Front, and other coalition
members took pains to stress that a new opening to the
West was of
secondary importance to domestic questions such as
personal and political
freedoms that were the centerpiece of the reformists'
campaign. Those issues
include diluting the ability of clerical panels to keep
liberal candidates from
running for office, increasing freedom of the press and
legalizing the ownership
of satellite television dishes.

"Our message [to the world] is they should understand
there is an upheaval
taking place in Iran and not try to think [that] what is
happening in Iran
coincides with their own interests," said Rajabali
Mazrouei, who was elected to
parliament from Isfahan.

The United States broke relations with Iran in 1979
after radical student
followers of Khomeini stormed the U.S. Embassy, took 52
Americans hostage
and held them until January 1981. Ironically, several
participants in the
embassy seizure are among the leaders of the reform
movement.

The United States maintains economic sanctions against
Iran, and the State
Department includes Iran on its list of countries that
support terrorism. This is in
part because of Iran's support of Shiite Muslim
Hezbollah guerrillas in southern
Lebanon, and suspicions of Iranian involvement in
actions such as the 1996
bombing of an apartment building housing U.S. troops in
Khobar, Saudi Arabia,
in which 19 American servicemen were killed.

When he became president three years ago by defeating a
conservative rival,
Khatemi called for a global "dialogue of civilizations"
that he hoped would
include cultural and other exchanges with the United
States, and possibly lead
to diplomatic initiatives.

While the two countries have held wrestling matches and
soccer games and
participated in art exchanges, the issue of normalized
relations remains too
sensitive in each country for either to make a
meaningful overture. Conservative
newspapers here are still filled with criticism of the
United States, which is
referred to as the "global arrogance." Attacks on the
United States also are
regular features at Friday prayer sermons delivered by
conservative clerics,
including the country's ultimate spiritual authority,
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The conservative forces were beaten badly in Friday's
parliamentary elections in
which candidates associated with President Khatemi's
reformist policies scored
their resounding victory.

The election raised the possibility of renewed debate
over policy toward the
United States. The newly elected members of parliament
tend to be younger,
less steeped in revolutionary rhetoric and more eager
for Iran to open up to the
world than the conservative incumbents they defeated.
One prominent reformer
even called for a citizen's referendum on whether to
renew relations with
Washington.

Date: Wed, 23 Feb 2000 07:16:45 -0500
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@PANJERE.NET>
Subject: IRNA: latest tehran election results

thr 047
election-result
latest tehran election results
tehran, feb. 23, irna -- according to the interior ministry,
2,337,067 votes have been counted from 2,470 boxes (out of 3,111) in
tehran until 07.15 (03.45 gmt) wednesday.
the following are the latest election results:
name vote percent
1. seyed mohammad reza khatami 1492578 63.82
2. jamileh kadivar 1153094 49.33
3. alireza nouri 1128740 48.29
4. mohsen armin 1027788 43.97
5. seyed hadi husseini khamenei 1020644 43.67
6. mohsen mirdamadi najafabadi 998258 42.71
7. majid ansari 977272 41.81
8. behzad nabavi 957064 40.95
9. ahmad bourqani farahani 956128 40.91
10. soheila jelodarzadeh 925703 39.60
11. davoud soleymani 905193 38.73
12. ahmad pournejati 894205 38.26
13. elaheh koulaie 890331 38.09
14. ali shakouri-rad 882522 37.76
15. vahideh alaie taleqani 877434 37.54
16. seyed ali akbar mousavi khoeini 875352 37.45
17. mohsen safaie farahani 873238 37.36
18. mohammad reza saeedi 858113 36.71
19. fatemeh haqiqat-joo 829629 35.49
20. seyed shamseddin vahabi 828869 35.46
21. behrouz afkhami 816741 34.94
22. mohammad naimi-pour 789696 33.79
23. abolqasem sarhadizadeh 768647 32.88
24. fatemeh rakeie 751740 32.16
25. seyed mahmoud doaie 739851 31.65
26. mehdi karrubi 731881 31.31
27. rasoul montajabnia 642657 27.46
28. alireza rajaie 633583 27.11
29. akbar hashemi bahremani
(rafsanjani) 624480 26.72
30. elyas hazrati 611687 26.17
fs/ks
end
::irna 23/02/2000 14:32

Date: Wed, 23 Feb 2000 07:21:34 -0500
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@PANJERE.NET>
Subject: IRNA: daily scoffs at flatterers

thr 048
press-khatami-rafsanjani
daily scoffs at flatterers
tehran, feb. 23, irna -- instead of allowing flatterers to destroy to
personalities, opportunists should be introduced in the society and
pressure put on them in order to guarantee the health of the country,
advised 'tehran times' wednesday.
the paper was scoffing at a flattering headline of the persian
daily 'iran' which read, ''the birth of a popular politician in
iran''.
however, ''the flattery of this newspaper and others - which
later became the harbingers of political development - of hashemi
rafsanjani and his family will never be wiped out from the memory of
the serious newspaper readers in our country,'' pointed out the
editorial.
had rafsanjani ''held fast to the practical precept of imam
khomeini, he would have disappointed those flatters who had achieved
their goals through his family members but destroyed his character,''
''it is pertinent to recall that when for the first time masoud
rajavi in 1980 without the slightest belief in imam khomeini said
that ahmad khomeini was the most qualified person to run for
presidency, (in the first presidential elections), the calculated move
of this group - which was after the defeat of the revolution -
received imam's strong reaction,'' it noted.
''the imam's reaction was such that other flatterers were
disappointed of capitalizing on his family for their vested
interests,'' commended the article.
in this light, ''if the same utilitarian groups have spread
their trap on the way of mr. khatami's family, we should be mindful
of the repetition of history. since the top executives are held
responsible for the country's shortcomings, if the calculating
currents succeed in attributing all the shortcomings to these top
executives, they can easily destroy their social base as well,''
cautioned the daily.
therefore, ''now that this current has nominated some members of
mr. khatami's family in the elections and after their success has
injected this idea into the society that the khatami family controls
all affairs of the society, it will gradually prepare the ground for
the same debates which came to the fore after the landslide victory of
faezeh hasehmi in the fifth majlis elections,'' pointed out the
paper in conclusion.
fh/rr
end
::irna 23/02/2000 15:07

Date: Wed, 23 Feb 2000 07:22:11 -0500
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@PANJERE.NET>
Subject: IRNA: minister: press safeguards reverence for freedom

thr 042
mohajerani-press
minister: press safeguards reverence for freedom
yazd, feb. 23, irna -- minister of culture and islamic guidance
ataollah mohajerani wednesday said the press is the most important
institution which safeguards reverence for freedom.
the minister made the remark while addressing a congress held
here in honor of the renowned contemporary iranian poet and
freedom-fighter mirza mohammad yazdi, also known as farrokhi yazdi.
he said freedom of the press is one of the great achievements of
president khatami's administration, adding that during his presidency
the press has been turned into a significant power in the social,
cultural and political arenas.
mohajerani said journalists who bravely shape the institution
of the press should be assisted while certain obstacles should be
eliminated so that it will not be tempted to deviate.
he underlined the power of expression which he said even
surmounted the power of arms and wealth.
the culture and islamic guidance minister stressed that although
freedom is a principle, however, no one approves of absolute and
illegitimate freedom.
the concern of people in the recent parliamentary election
was also freedom and their major aim was to vote for those who would
develop freedom and safeguard it, he further remarked.
underlining freedom as an infrastructural principle which
guarantees other concerns, mohajerani said nothing is superior
to freedom.
"freedom is the pivot and yardstick which is the core of
understanding to any other phenomenon and is a criterion for judgment
on administrations," said the minister.
pointing to the background of dictatorship in the country and
its confrontation with freedom, mohajerani said that although
dictatorship tried at certain junctures to remain at the back stage,
there had been those who devoted their lives and blood to prevent
this dictatorship from taking any form of legitimacy.
the minister said that farrokhi was imprisoned and his lips were
sewn for his freedom-seeking ideals.
he stressed that those who choose freedom should pay its cost;
otherwise, he stated, they can play no effective role in the
promotion of society.
the congress is held with the goal to further become familiar
with the political, social and cultural aspects of farrokhi's life
in his struggles against the dictatorial regime of his time.
ns/ls/ks
end
::irna 23/02/2000 14:18

Date: Wed, 23 Feb 2000 07:24:55 -0500
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@PANJERE.NET>
Subject: BBC: Iran parliament meets after election shock

Only about 20% of the MPs were re-elected

The outgoing Iranian parliament has met for one of its last sessions
after Friday's elections, which delivered a sweeping victory for the
reformists and put an end to the long-standing conservative domination
of the assembly.

Only about 20% of members have won re-election, and conservatives have
admitted that they will have to reconsider their policies in the face of
their resounding defeat.

The new assembly, or Majlis, will contain far fewer clerics and will
also be about 15 or 20 years younger - a reflection of the new
generation of voters making itself heard.

The parliament's outgoing Speaker, Ali Akbar Nateq-Nuri, who did not
stand for re-election, told the chamber that those who had not been
returned should take comfort from the massive turn-out in the election.

More than 80% of voters turned out and Mr Nateq-Nuri said it represented
a triumph of the Iranian people, the Islamic revolution and the system.

A top hardline lawmaker in the outgoing parliament, Mohammad Reza
Bahonar, said his camp would have to rethink its policies.

"We will not change our principles and positions, but it is natural that
we should reconsider our policies and methods," he said.

The independent Iran Vij daily newspaper quoted him as saying that the
reformist coalition was "more organised" in the elections.

"Anyway, our rivals will form a majority in the next Majlis," Mr Bahonar
said.

Mr Bahonar played a key role in the 1998 impeachment of former interior
minister Abdollah Nouri, an ally of reformist President Mohammad
Khatami.

Nouri was jailed in November on charges of religious dissent and for
advocating better ties with the United States.

Nearly all the best-known faces of the majority conservative faction did
not survive the election.

Another major casualty was Faeza Hashemi, the reformist daughter of
former president Hashemi Rafsanjani.

In the last elections four years ago she came in second in the voting
for seats in Tehran, but is now down to 56th place.

Correspondents say her downfall may have been her close association with
her father.

Mr Rafsanjani's failure to secure one of 30 Tehran seats in the first
round, is one of the dramatic results of the election. Mr Rafsanjani now
faces a run-off for the four seats left in the capital.

Date: Wed, 23 Feb 2000 07:26:29 -0500
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@PANJERE.NET>
Subject: BBC: Iran's hardliners at crossroads

Hardliners face some soul-searching

By Baqer Moin of the BBC Persian Service

In Iran's first relatively free parliamentary election in 20 years,
cities considered the bastion of rightwing forces have fallen one after
another to the reformists.

It is a rude awakening for the conservatives.

This is the first election in which the younger generation of Iranian
politicians has participated with vigour, bringing messages of freedom
and reform.

The conservatives have been in Iranian politics for over four decades.

They have organisational skills, financial resources, religious
commitment and factional interests to promote.

They have captured most Iranian institutions, including the Assembly of
Experts, which appoints the supreme leader, and the constitutional
watchdog body, the Council of Guardians.

They still have a strong hold on the judiciary and strong ties with
paramilitary forces, including the police.

Within clerical institutions, a number of leading senior clergy also
support the conservative cause.

Although they work in the name of Ayatollah Khomeini and his successor
Ayatollah Khamenei, they have promoted their own factional interests.

This has been at the cost of alienating a large majority of the
electorate with their isolationist foreign policy, and strict social and
cultural policies such as the severe women's dress code and the joyless
life for young people.

Soul-searching

The conservatives have not been alone in imposing their views. The
radical left-wingers who had the upper hand for a decade under Ayatollah
Khomeini were no angels either.

To some degree they faced a similar fate when they lost in the 1992
Majlis [parliamentary] elections.

Helped by former President, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the conservatives
evicted the left from most revolutionary institutions.

The left-wingers, including President Khatami himself, began a period of
soul-searching, self education and reflection, admitting their past
misdeeds.

It was this period that brought the left-wingers into closer contact
with the aspirations of the majority of Iranians, and it was then that
the path of reform was chosen.

Reform

When the 1997 presidential election came, the left - now turned liberal
reformists - were in a position to pull off a major victory headed by
President Khatami.

The question now is whether the right will pursue the same model and
begin revising their policies and approaches in order to return with
vigour if President Khatami's policies come unstuck.

This would be the most obvious course of action if the right are to
become a fully-fledged modern political force in Iran.

However, the temptation for the hardliners among the right-wingers is to
use their institutional strength to create further obstacles for
President Khatami's policies.

There are also those who argue that some of the extreme elements within
the judiciary, security and paramilitary forces may in fact create a
major crisis for the country similar to the Tehran University uproar
last year, in the hope of crushing the reform movement.

However, even if this happens, it may only bring temporary respite for
the extreme elements.

Undermined

The chances for reform now very much depend on how President Khatami,
alongside parliament, handles the minority rightwing faction.

The country's supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, has a key role to play
in ensuring that those rightwing elements within the institutions under
his command work within the constitutional framework.

The right-wingers have elevated him far above what was envisioned for
him in the constitution.

This has not strengthened his position, but rather undermined him due to
his association with the rightwingers.

The reformists do accept the supreme leader as a constitutional leader,
but they want him to submit himself to constitutional supervision.

And they also realise the country has a sizeable rightwing force whose
rights should be recognised.

It is now up to the rightwing forces to make the next move; whether to
join constitutional politics or resort to extra constitutional
campaigns.

Date: Wed, 23 Feb 2000 07:27:52 -0500
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@PANJERE.NET>
Subject: CNN: Conservatives could stymie Iran's reformist parliament

Conservatives could stymie Iran's reformist parliament

TEHRAN, Iran -- Despite reformers' commanding lead in parliamentary
elections, members of the country's conservative Islamic leadership said
Tuesday that major policy changes are unlikely to be enacted.

Candidates running in support of President Mohammad Khatami's reform
efforts have won 141 of the 195 races decided by Tuesday. Conservatives
have won 44 seats, while independents have won 10. Another 95 seats
remain to be decided, and at least 60 elections will have to be decided
by runoffs.

Khatami, who came to power in a landslide victory in 1997, had promised
social and political freedoms to Iranians tired of decades of strict
Islamic rule. The conservative-dominated parliament has so far thwarted
his efforts, impeaching his interior minister and constantly summoning
other officials to complain about how they were doing their jobs.

A more moderate parliament is expected to introduce wide-ranging legal
reforms and clear away legal obstacles to Khatami's program. The
reformers' victory -- led by the president's brother, Mohammadreza
Khatami -- has inspired hopes of greater civil liberties in the Islamic
society among secular Iranians, and of greater openness to Western
countries.

"What is important is the rule of law and judgment of the people, and
the election clarified the desires of people," said Mohammadreza
Khatami, the country's leading parliamentary candidate.

The proposed changes he announced Tuesday include a guarantee of press
freedoms and an end to the ban on watching international television
broadcasts.

Hard-liners control legislative roadblocks

But conservatives reminded the public of the constitutional limits on
parliament, and the clerical state's founding religious laws.

The hard-liners still wield power through key institutions such as the
Guardians Council, which must approve all legislation. Additionally,
supreme power lies with the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's spiritual
leader and the conservatives' main backer.

"The majority of those elected to the next parliament are committed to
the Islamic republic. They are not the reformers America thinks they
are," conservative lawmaker Morteza Nabavi said.

Voter turnout was high enough that poll hours in Friday's balloting had
to be extended. Conservatives hailed the turnout as an indication of
popular support for the Islamic system established after the 1979
revolution that deposed Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.

"The losers were those who tried to separate the people from the
system," said Ali Akbar Nateq-Nouri, conservative speaker of the
outgoing parliament, who did not seek a new term. "Those who voted
believe in the system and its principles and values."

U.S. offers hope for reconciliation

Half of Iran's 62 million people are under 25. The country suffers from
more than 20 percent unemployment and high inflation. U.S. sanctions
remain in place two decades after the fall of the U.S.-backed shah and
the yearlong occupation of the U.S. Embassy.

Mohammadreza Khatami said he wants to work toward ending those
sanctions, but he said that U.S. officials must take "practical steps"
before Iran would respond.

"The United States supported the totalitarian regime of the shah," he
told reporters Tuesday. "And now that Iran has become one of the most
free nations, it continues its policy of sanctions and continues its
baseless claims against Iran."

U.S. officials have welcomed the parliamentary elections in Iran as a
historic vote for greater openness and freedom, raising hopes of a
rapprochement after more then 20 years of hostility.

"It is our hope that this mandate will set Iran on a course towards a
more constructive and a new role in the region, one which eventually
leads to Iran's full political and economic reintegration into the
international community," State Department spokesman James Rubin said.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report

Date: Wed, 23 Feb 2000 07:29:43 -0500
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@PANJERE.NET>
Subject: salon.com: Iran votes for change

Iran votes for change
http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2000/02/22/iran_press/index.html?CP=SAL&DN
=110
Undaunted by jail, dissident journalists have fueled the nation's hunger
for reform.
- - - - - - - - - - - -
By Flore de Preneuf

Feb. 22, 2000 | TEHRAN, Iran -- The power of Iran's dissident press has
produced tangible results by helping to rid the country's parliament of
the bulk of its conservative members in Friday's elections. Early
results suggest reformers will control more than 70 percent of the new
parliament, due to convene in May.

Many of the newly elected reformers are journalists, directors of banned
dailies or advocates of the freedom of the press. The No. 2 vote-getter
in Tehran is a woman journalist. And one of the highest items on the
reformers' agenda is amending a restrictive 1984 press law.

Every day, Nik-Ahang Kowsar, 30, reads Iran's press in search of
subjects for his satire and pens three cartoons mocking conservative
politicians. "That's three different cartoons attacking them every day,"
said Kowsar. The cartoonist remains undaunted by a weeklong spell in
prison earlier this month.

Journalists in Iran are forbidden from criticizing religious leaders.
Koswar can draw secular politicians but no one wearing a clerical outfit
-- a severe limitation in a country ruled by clerics. "We know we can't
write about religion and we accept it -- we don't draw clerics," said
Kowsar.

But when Kowsar drew a crocodile shedding tears on the freedom of the
press, young theology students thought he was mocking a Tehran clergyman
whose name rhymes with the Persian word for crocodile. The students
rioted for several days, demanding Kowsar's head and the cultural
minister's resignation. Kowsar claims he was attacking the conservatives
in general, not a specific clergyman. "I wouldn't attack a person," he
said. "Criticizing the idea is more important."

Koswar believes in the power of the pen. "It's something between having
a mission and craziness," he said.

Crazy or not, repeated attacks on conservative politicians by Kowsar and
other journalists in Iranian newspapers is proving to have a profound
impact on the nation's democratic government.

The Iranian press, which was anemic not long ago, owes its new vitality
and political clout to the more tolerant atmosphere that followed the
election of a liberal-minded president, Mohammed Khatami, in May 1997.
Although television and radio broadcasting fall under the authority of
Iran's spiritual leader and have remained in the hands of conservative
clerics, anti-establishment newspapers have managed to blossom in the
past few years.

The press has become one of the main battlegrounds in the struggle
between Iran's conservatives and reformers. The judiciary, controlled by
hard-liners, has tried to shut up as many newspapers and journalists as
possible, but has found itself outpaced by the growing number of people
willing to take risks for political change.

"We were used to writing with our bags packed, ready to be taken to
jail," said Ebrahim Nabavi, author of a widely read satirical column in
the pro-Khatami newspaper the Age of Freemen. "There used to be only one
liberal newspaper," said Nabavi, who was put in solitary confinement for
a month last year when the press court found him guilty of endangering
national security with his writing. "But now there are more than 10 and
I don't feel as threatened as before," he said.

Journalists have started tackling subjects they wouldn't have dared
approach a few years ago. They wrote extensively about the serial
killing of dissidents by rogue intelligence officers in December 1998,
and shed light on the disreputable role played in the affair by Hashemi
Rafsanjani, Iran's former president and a long-time politician.

Rafsanjani's popularity plunged as a result of the media campaign
launched against him. "Fifty percent of Rafsanjani's votes were taken
away thanks to the activity of the press," said Nabavi. "Even if he was
the third most important political figure in the country, we had the
power to knock him down."

Once expected to be the next speaker of parliament, Rafsanjani scored
poorly in last week's election and probably will not secure a seat in
parliament until the elections' second round.

As the press has become more influential in shaping public opinion, the
demand for caustic political commentary has also increased. Iranian
readers used to be content with mild cultural cartoons such as those
published in Mr Flower's, a moderate satirical weekly founded in 1991.
But the weekly has been losing readers in the past few years, especially
among the young.

"People have become obsessed with politics," said Nabavi, who said he
would rather write about cinema. "Before Khatami's election, people
didn't have the space to express their democratic ideas," he said.
"Since then people decided to become more active in politics -- the
result is this new democracy."

Analysts hope the newly elected reformist parliament will help secure
these gains in press freedom. Many of the limitations affecting
journalism were never written down and are subject to change. But
journalistic freedom will depend on reforming the country's court
system. "If parliamentarians can change the laws regarding the
judiciary, then change could occur," said Kowsar.

However, laws passed by the parliament must be approved by the Council
of Guardians, an official but non-elected decision-making body composed
of 12 clerical Islamic scholars.

Despite jubilation among reform advocates over the election results,
some think the pro-Khatami coalition, which secured an overwhelming
majority, will disintegrate into factional politics. "The conservatives
are defeated, but they will form a very strong opposition minority,
while reformers will be divided into factions, " said Kioumars Saberi,
59, managing director of Mr Flower's. Pulling a dusty copy of the 1984
press law out of his desk drawer, he predicted, "I'll show you the same
press law next time you come." salon.com | Feb. 22, 2000

Date: Wed, 23 Feb 2000 07:29:06 EST
From: Iran Man <IRANEHMAN@AOL.COM>
Subject: Looking back at two years of reforms and counter reforms/Iran Analysis

IIC Iran Analysis
May 1999


Looking back at two years of reforms and counter reforms

Last month marked the second anniversary of President Khatami's overwhelming
victory. Day by day,
it has become more evident that the 2nd of Khordad (23rd of May) was a
turning point in Iran's
modern history. Most Iran analysts agree that Iran is moving in the right
direction, albeit not in all
fields. The reformists can reflect upon a record of successes showing that
the Iranian reformist
movement is perhaps the most underestimated one in the world.

Emergence of a vibrant critical press, formation of the city councils as the
corner stone of
participatory democracy, and an increased international standing, are
considered the most notable
achievements of the current Iranian administration. Furthermore, the
government's disassociation with
the decree against author Salman Rushdie, together with President Khatami's
visits to Italy, Syria,
Qatar and Saudi Arabia stands as evidence of the reformists' influence over
Iran's foreign policy.

These goals are prerequisites for the emergence of a genuine civil society
based on true democracy
and respect for human rights. Once accomplished, Iran will be able to
concentrate on her serious
economic problems. The decline in the popularity of the conservatives and
their ideology is clear to
many observers. For every apparent gain made by rightwing affiliated
institutions cracking down on
reformist groups and personalities, they suffer an even bigger setback on
another
front, not to mention a loss of legitimacy in the eyes of the Iranian people.

The end of May saw the student movement in Iran gain unprecedented momentum as
conservativebacked security forces, in the face of massive student strikes,
freed one of the leaders
within just a few days of his incarceration. In short, "irreversible" is an
adjective attributed to the
reform process by almost all analysts and observers, most strikingly the
Iranian ones.

The reformists have also suffered considerable setbacks during this two-year
period. None of these
setbacks have upset Iranians as much as the brutal murder of five Iranian
intellectuals committed by
the rouge elements in the regime's interior ministry controlled by the
conservatives. Every success for
change has been hard won. The conservatives have fought back at all levels,
and although the
overwhelming support for the reformist camp will eventually lead to change,
people fear that in the
face of defeat, the conservatives will resort to violence. Here the West can
play a pivotal role-- either
by supporting the wind of change through engaging itself with the
development of Iran, or by supporting the legacy of the status quo by
ignoring the positive
developments in Iran and neglecting its own self proclaimed role as the
defender of Human Rights and
Democracy.

Although the US has not gone as far as the EU member states such as Italy in
encouraging the
ongoing reform process in Iran, US goodwill gestures should not be belittled.
Only days ago,
President Khatami praised President Clinton's admission of the West's
wrongdoings against Iran,
referring to it as "courageous". The comments came directly after some
stunning victories for the
reformists, which further strengthened the belief that President Khatami will
push for a rapprochement
with the US as soon as the conservatives' power in Iran has been sufficiently
weakened. This however
does not mean that the US should be waiting for President Khatami to single
handedly consolidate
his power. On the contrary, President Clinton must take bolder steps to
enable the reformists in Iran
to push for this rapprochement since it is of utmost importance for the US.
This can most easily be
done by lifting the economic sanctions that hitherto have proven detrimental
to not only the US and Iran, but also to their common future.

Iranians for International Cooperation

Date: Wed, 23 Feb 2000 12:34:42 EST
From: Sohrab68@AOL.COM
Subject: Iran's leader said to pardon student playwrights

Iran's leader said to pardon student playwrights


TEHRAN, Feb 23 (Reuters) - Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has
pardoned two students jailed last year for writing a satirical play deemed to
have insulted one of Shi'ite Islam's holiest figures, a newspaper said on
Wednesday.

The reformist Mosharekat daily said Abbas Nemati and Mohammad Reza Namnabat
had received pardons from their initial three-year jail terms for blasphemy,
handed down by Iran's hardline Press Court.

The sentences were later reduced to one year.

The play, published in an obscure campus journal last summer, outraged the
conservative establishment and many senior clerics, who said it demonstrated
the failings of President Mohammad Khatami's liberal cultural policies.

Its authors said they had invoked the Twelfth Imam, whose reappearance on
earth is eagerly awaited by all pious Shi'ites, to lampoon campus
conservatives.

But the Press Court, assisted by a special clerical panel drawn from the
Supreme Court, found they had insulted the Imam in the play and had
undermined religious sanctities.

Under Iranian law, insulting one of the holy Imams can be punished by death,
but lesser slights usually carry modest prison sentences.

Date: Wed, 23 Feb 2000 12:36:27 EST
From: Sohrab68@AOL.COM
Subject: Iran says to hold anti-U.S. rally at haj

Iran says to hold anti-U.S. rally at haj


TEHRAN, Feb 23 (Reuters) - Iran said on Wednesday its pilgrims would stage a
political rally denouncing the United States and Israel at this year's haj in
Saudi Arabia.

``God willing, we will hold it in Arafat,'' Mohmmad Mohammadi-Reyshahri, the
head of Iran's haj pilgrimage, said on state television.

The pilgrimage reaches a climax on March 15 with the march to Mount Arafat,
site of the Prophet Mohammed's last sermon 14 centuries ago.

Shi'ite Iran says Moslems should seize the opportunity during haj, which
attracts more than two million pilgrims, to promote unity among Moslems and
air political grievances against against Israel and the United States as
enemies of Islam.

Sunni Moslem Saudi Arabia says the pilgrimage is purely religious and should
not be politicised.

Date: Wed, 23 Feb 2000 12:37:00 EST
From: Sohrab68@AOL.COM
Subject: Iranians Study Election Results

Iranians Study Election Results

By AFSHIN VALINEJAD
.c The Associated Press


TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - Iranian conservatives blamed themselves and ``a wave of
lies'' in the press for their stunning defeat at the hands of reformists in
Iran's legislative elections.

``The poor showing of the right-wing candidates was due to a coordinated
campaign by reformist newspapers and foreign radio stations. A wave of lies
is responsible for this situation,'' departing hard-line parliament member
Kamal Daneshyar was quoted as saying in today's edition of the Aftab-e-Emruz
daily.

Conservatives also conceded that their policies had failed after it became
clear that the reformist coalition would win the elections, ousting them from
the legislature after a 21-year domination.

``Conservatives have to regroup and reorganize themselves, identify their
weak points and re-enter politics with a new plan. People want greater
freedom in social and personal issues. The policies enforced so far have
failed,'' Daneshyar was quoted as saying.

Of the 195 parliamentary seats decided so far, reformists have won 141, more
than 70 percent.

Conservatives have won 44 seats and independents 10. Another 65 seats are to
be decided in run-offs for the 290-member parliament, or Majlis. Only the
results for 30 seats in Tehran are outstanding, and reformers are leading the
vote count in nearly all of them, state television said.

Final results will be announced Thursday, state television reported.

More than 2.3 million votes out of an estimated 3.2 million votes cast in the
capital have been counted, the television said today.

At the first session of the departing parliament to be held since Friday's
legislative elections, conservatives seemed stunned and bitter.

Mohammadreza Faker, a cleric who failed to regain his seat, turned on
reporters waiting to speak with lawmakers after Tuesday's session.

``I'm very upset with you people,'' he was quoted as telling the
Sobh-e-Emrouz newspaper. ``You destroyed everything.''

Mohammadreza Khatami, head of the largest reformist group and the younger
brother of President Mohammad Khatami, told reporters Tuesday that his
faction's top goals when it reached parliament will be improving the economy,
increasing press freedoms and working with the government to speed up
reforms.

The president, who came to power in a landslide victory in 1997, had promised
social and political freedoms to Iranians tired of decades of strict Islamic
rule.

But the previous hard-line-dominated Majlis tried to thwart his efforts,
impeaching his interior minister and summoning other officials to complain
about how they were doing their jobs.

Iran, a nation of 62 million people - half of whom are under the age of 25 -
suffers from more than 20 percent unemployment and high inflation.

Mohammadreza Khatami, who was expected to win a seat from Tehran, said Iran
needs concrete action from the United States to lower the wall of mistrust
between the two nations. He made it clear the new parliament would not rush
into talks with the United States without such action. He also criticized
Washington for maintaining U.S. sanctions against Iran.

U.S. relations with Iran broke off during the 1979 revolution, which ousted
the U.S.-backed shah and brought the clergy to power. Demonstrators seized
the U.S. Embassy and held 52 Americans captive until January 1981.

A U.S. law allows for sanctions on any company that invests more than $20
million in Iran's oil industry. Washington accuses Tehran of trying to
procure nuclear weapons and of opposing the Middle East peace process. Iran
opposes Arab-Israeli peace, but denies pursuing nuclear weapons.

Khatami and other reformists have called for detente between Iran and the
United States, a move vigorously opposed by hard-liners, who view Washington
as Iran's archenemy.

Even though beaten in the elections, the hard-liners still wield power
through key institutions such as the Guardians Council, which must approve
all legislation.

Reformists say they are confident that hard-liners will not want to use those
powers to block legislation and risk angering a majority of Iranians.

End of DNI-NEWS Digest - 22 Feb 2000 to 23 Feb 2000 - Special issue