Subject: DNI-NEWS Digest - 11 Feb 2000 to 14 Feb 2000

There are 6 messages totalling 848 lines in this issue.

Topics of the day:

Date: Mon, 14 Feb 2000 07:20:46 EST
From: Sohrab68@AOL.COM
Subject: Iran to send delegation to Pakistan to examine Afghan civil war

Iran to send delegation to Pakistan to examine Afghan civil war
Iran - Monday, 14 February 2000 - Agence France Presse

TEHRAN, Feb 14 (AFP) - Iran will send a political delegation to Pakistan on
Tuesday to examine the latest developments in neighbouring war-torn
Afghanistan, the foreign ministry said.

President Mohammad Khatami had decided to send the delegation as part of his
role as acting head of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, ministry
spokesman Hamid-Reza Asefi said, quoted by state radio.

He did not specify how senior a delegation would be dispatched but said they
would go on to Saudi Arabia, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

Tehran holds the Taliban, which controls most of Afghanistan, responsible for
the killing of eight Iranian diplomats and a journalist from the state news
agency during the militia's seizure of the northern town of Mazar-i-Sharif in

Date: Mon, 14 Feb 2000 22:26:10 EDT
From: Bobby Iri <Bobby@WWW.DCI.CO.IR>

Vol. 3, No. 7, 14 February 2000

A Review of Developments in Iran Prepared by the Regional
Specialists of RFE/RL's Newsline Team.


Elections bring out media commentators and a variety of
analysts, but the government of Iran has decided that its 18
February parliamentary election will go more smoothly without
such unseemly democratic trappings. Since late-January,
Tehran has been interfering with the Persian-language
shortwave broadcasts of foreign radio services in two ways.
The most common sort of jamming is the broadcast of bubble-
type interference which is often used in the Middle East to
interrupt shortwave transmissions. The other method being
used is to override the foreign broadcasts with the Arabic
Service of the Voice of the Islamic Republic of Iran. These
Iranian government activities have been directed at
broadcasts by RFE/RL's Persian Service, the BBC, and the VOA.
Iran's jamming activities violate international law. They
also underline the regime's desperation and insy
also underline the regime's desperation and insecurity. (Bill

In the run-up to the parliamentary election, the Iranian
government is keen to maintain the appearance of domestic
unity and to avoid any issues that might raise tensions.
Silencing foreign radios is one way to do this. It also has
taken steps to do the same with the domestic Iranian media.
An editorial in the 9 February "Iran News" warned that
the "press should hold their heads high and brace for more
malice and vilification coming their way without giving an
inch." The English-language daily was reacting to the
"Manateq-i Azad's" voluntary suspension, the press court
summons for its director, Mohammad Rezaq Yazdanpanah Fadai,
and the imprisonment of cartoonist Nikahang Kosar.
Kosar drew cartoons that ridiculed Ayatollah Mohammad
Taqi Mesbah-Yazdi's 25 January claim that a former director
of the Central Intelligence Agency had come to Iran and given
money to Iranian publications and individuals. Mesbah-Yazdi
went on to say that this money was in addition to the
infamous $20 million that was previously dedicated to
overthrowing the Iranian regime, "Asr-i Azadegan" reported on
27 January. There was more to this nefarious plot, according
to Mesbah-Yazdi: "The CIA has also invited our country's
journalists to go to America in order to brainwash them and
let them have a good time, so to speak." Curiously, Mesbah-
Yazdi went to England in early-February, but he did not say
if the trip was organized by MI6 or if he had a good time,
"so to speak."
The appearance of the very clever cartoon was greeted
with three days of demonstrations by seminarians and
hardliners. There also were demands for the firing and/or
execution of Islamic Culture and Guidance Minister Ataollah
Mohajerani, who is responsible for much of the current press
freedom. The protests ended on Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali
Khamenei's orders. Mesbah-Yazdi said his comments were
Kosar was released from jail on 10 February after
posting bail of 100,000,000 rials ($57,000 at the official
Other artworks have caused divisions, too. "Iran"
published a cartoon of blindfolded people voting. "Parto-y
Sokhan" monthly was suspended for publishing a cartoon that
insulted Ayatollah Hussein Ali Montazeri. And the
conservative "Qods" received a warning for printing an car
advertisement that had a photo of Ayatollah Nasser Makarem-
Mohajerani warned journalists to avoid giving hardliners
an excuse for cracking down on them. Hardliners who were
participating in rallies marking the revolution's 21st
anniversary on 11 February demonstrated against Mohajerani.
This occurred in Qom, Karaj, Orumieh, and Shahr-i Kord,
"Mosharekat" reported on 12 February. Anti-Mohajerani slogans
are being displayed in Nahavand, where Mohajerani is
scheduled to visit.
Cracking down on publications is not the only means of
avoiding tension and promoting unity. In late-January, a
debate surfaced over the advisability of televising the
"confessions" of Ministry of Intelligence and Security
officials accused of murdering dissident intellectuals and
politicians in late-1998. A group of parliamentarians saw the
program, in which the accused allegedly acknowledged links
with Israel and the U.S. The MOIS said this information must
be confirmed before it is broadcast, but the Armed Forces
Judicial Organization advocated broadcasting right away.
Iranian newspapers reflected this debate, and so far, the
"confessions" have not been broadcast. A news conference
about the serial murders that was scheduled for the second
week of February was postponed by the Interior Ministry,
"Mosharekat" reported on 9 February. (Bill Samii)

On 18 February Iranians will vote in the sixth
parliamentary elections since the 1978-1979 revolution. The
voting age in Iran was recently raised to 16, after being
reduced to 15 in 1996. There are approximately 39 million
eligible voters.
About 6,000 candidates will compete (state broadcasting
reported on 12 February that 5,527 will compete) for 290
seats, 20 more than last time to indicate the increase in
population. Candidates must win a minimum of 25 percent of
the votes to win in the first round (this reflects new
election laws that reduced the number from 33 percent).
Should a constituency's seats remain unfilled after this,
there will be a second round in which the remaining seats are
filled by the top vote-getters. A date for the second round
has not been set.
The Interior Ministry is responsible for running the
election, but the Guardians Council is responsible for
supervising it. Election monitors will have to watch for
several methods of fraud that have appeared in previous
Iranian elections. One of these is the use of a dead person's
identity card, so a (live) person can vote multiple times.
Parliamentarian Mohammad Reza Taraqi claimed that he knew of
five million such cards, "Tehran Times" reported on 10
February. A citizen can vote anywhere in the country as long
as he or she presents an identification card. The card is
then stamped to show that the individual has voted. So even
if people vote only once, they can be bussed in from
insignificant villages and towns to major cities. In the
February 1999 council elections, monitors' access to polling
places and to ballot-counting areas was occasionally blocked,
and there were complaints that ballots in some areas were not
counted at all. In some cases, voters were paid to vote for
specific candidates.
Rumors have surfaced that there will be attacks on
polling places. Law Enforcement Forces Commander General
Hedayat Lotfian said 120,000 police officers will be on guard
to prevent disruptions and ensure safety. Deputy Interior
Minister for Security Gholamhussein Bolandian said the army,
the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, and the Basij Resistance
Forces would assist the Interior Ministry if necessary, IRNA
reported on 31 January. He also said that 40 helicopters will
be used to collect ballots in remote parts of the country.
(Bill Samii)

Some 111 political parties have been licensed to date,
according to Hojatoleslam Ali Movahedi-Savoji, head of
parliament's Article 10 Committee, which deals with the
formation of political parties. This includes groups with
primarily political orientations, as well as those that have
more single-issue orientations, such as the newly-formed
Armenian See in Tehran or the Society of Assyrians in
On the one hand, this is a positive tendency in terms of
political development. As Kerman's "Neha-yi Vahdat" reported
on 25 November, many people "believe the presence of
different factions and groups makes society dynamic and
active, because the different factions' criticism of each
other will better the country' criticism of each
other will better the country's orientation, and consequently
improve its political situation." Furthermore, the daily
says, the factions serve as "connective layers between the
people and the government."
On the other, the sheer number of groups indicates some
shortcomings, both in the system generally and in the groups
specifically. Political parties should express the collective
opinions of their membership. In Iran, however, it is the
press that expresses opinions, rather than the parties
themselves, according to the 9 December "Payam-i Zanjan." The
differences between parties, according to the provincial
daily, can be traced to their origins and personality
differences between their founders. Furthermore, some of them
become active only before elections, and afterwards they
become dormant. They therefore do not maintain continuous
contact with their supporters, nor do they feel responsive or
responsible to them, and they do not express their
supporters' opinions outside the election periods.
Habibollah Ayubi, head of the Legal and Political
Science College of Imam Sadeq University, also decried the
current situation in an interview with the 18 January
"Entekhab." Currently, he said, "instead of becoming a
contrast between two ideas and ways of thinking, factionalism
in Iran has been turned into a struggle between bands and
individuals." Ayubi believes that a few readily-identifiable
and all-encompassing parties would be of greater benefit.
In the 18 February parliamentary election, parties and
factions will be most significant in the major cities, where
voters must choose from large lists of candidates and
ideological considerations will be more relevant in their
selections. In smaller constituencies, voters will have fewer
choices and their choices are more likely to be based on
local interests. Some candidates will identify themselves as
independents, but the ideological groupings can effectively
be classified as reformists and conservatives.
The reformist groups are identified as the 2nd of
Khordad coalition, which is named after the day of President
Hojatoleslam Mohammad Khatami's election. There are 18 groups
in this coalition. Listed alphabetically, they include:

*Executives of Construction Party. A party formed by
associates of former President Ali Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani,
including his brother Mohammad, Tehran Mayor Gholamhussein
Karbaschi, and 16 ministers and vice presidents. This group
has a strong technocratic core.
*Islamic Iran Participation Party. This organization was
founded in Autumn 1998 as a pro-Khatami party by former
members of the Executives of Construction Party and the
Tehran Militant Clergy Association, as well as Students
Following the Imam's Line member Abbas Abdi.
*Islamic Labor Party. This party announced its formation
in February 1999, and its initial platform was described as
"protecting the rights of the workers and laborers."
Spokeswoman Soheila Jelodarzadeh also is a an advocate of
women's issues. Founding members were part of the Workers
House (Khaneh-yi Kargar), which supported Khatami's
presidential bid.
*Militant Clerics Association (Majma-yi Ruhaniyun-i
Mobarez). This group's leadership is Hojatoleslams Mehdi
Mahdavi-Karrubi, Mohammad Asqar Musavi-Khoeniha, and Ali
Akbar Ashtiani. This group broke away from the original
Tehran Militant Clergy Association (Jameh-yi Ruhaniyat-i
Mobarez-i Tehran), and it is now considered the left-leaning
clergy association. Dissatisfied with what it saw as
manipulation of the system, it ran no candidates for several
years. In October 1996, the group resumed its political
*Mujahedin of the Islamic Revolution Organization. This
group is led by former Minister of Heavy Industry Behzad
Nabavi-Tabrizi and Mohammad Salamati. Much of its membership
consists of ex-Mujahedin Khalq Organization members. It
dissolved in the early-1980s but re-emerged in the late-
1990s. The group advocates government intervention in the
economy and in development.
*Office for Strengthening Unity. This loose grouping of
pro-Khatami Islamist associations is comprised mainly of
student groups. It is the most active of the university-
affiliated ones, and it has gotten into physical
confrontations with the hardline Ansar-i Hizbullah. Its
leaders include Amir Mir-Damadi and Ebrahim Asgharzadeh.

Other reformist groups are the Islamic Solidarity Party
and the Groups Following the Imam's Line. There are
differences among these groups over carrying Hashemi-
Rafsanjani's name on their candidate lists.
There are a number of conservative political groups,
too, although there are fewer of them fielding candidate
lists and there is greater unity in the lists:

*Islamic Coalition Association. This conservative group
is led by Habibollah Asgaroladi-Mosalman. It was formed as a
coalition of grassroots, local Islamic clubs, and a joint
venture of conservative bazaaris and clerics. Interwoven with
the Resalat Foundation, it supports the Supreme Leadership.
It supported parliamentary speaker Hojatoleslam Ali Akbar
Nateq-Nouri in the 1997 presidential election. The ICA
absorbed members of the anti-Bahai Hojattieh Society when it
ceased its activities in 1983.
*Tehran Militant Clergy Association (Jameh-yi Ruhaniyat-i
Mobarez-i Tehran). This group originated in 1936, and it was
active in the 1963 riots in Iran. It supported Nateq-Nouri in
the 1997 presidential election. Members favor a market
economy, and are very conservative culturally. This group
strongly supports Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and
the doctrine that ultimate decision-making power should rest
with the Leadership.

Not only are the coalitions fielding different candidate
lists, there is an overlap in candidates of the reformist and
conservative factions. Some Executives of Construction
candidates, for example, also appear on the Islamic Coalition
Association and Tehran Militant Clergy Association lists. The
top five candidates, according to an 8 February report in
"Iran News," are Hashemi-Rafsanjani, Mehdi Karrubi, Mohammad
Reza Khatami (the president's brother), Ali Reza Nuri
(Hojatoleslam Abdullah Nuri's brother), and Jamileh Kadivar
(Islamic Culture and Guidance Minister Ataollah Mohajerani's
The Guardians Council announced its ultimate list of 576

<< Continued to next message >>>

Date: Mon, 14 Feb 2000 22:27:04 EDT
From: Bobby Iri <Bobby@WWW.DCI.CO.IR>

<< This message is part 2 of a previous message >>>

rejected candidates on 7 February. "The list sent by the
Guardian Council to the election headquarters, dated [7
February], is final and should form the basis for action,"
state television reported on 8 February. Campaigning
officially started on 10 February. (Bill Samii)

President Mohammad Khatami explained his first visit to
southwestern Khuzestan Province since 1997 by saying "I
always wanted to come and see the good, noble, and selfless
people of the province again," according to state radio on 9
February. Also, Khatami inaugurated a new sugar cane
processing factory and two phases of the Ramin thermal power
plant of Ahvaz.
Actually, Khatami was there to campaign for the Islamic
Iran Participation Party (IIPP) and for some damage
limitation. When his brother, Mohammad Reza, was in the
Khuzestan town of Andimeshk for a IIPP session on 22 January,
the meeting was attacked by 30 people chanting anti-reformist
slogans, "Iran"--the IRNA daily--reported. There were three
reasons for this violence, according to the 8 February
"Kayhan," a hardline daily. First of all, the town was
plastered with posters of the president and signs welcoming
"Dr. Khatami," so locals had prepared petitions and letters
of complaint for the president. When his brother showed up
instead, they were somewhat irritated. Secondly, Mohammad
Reza Khatami was effectively campaigning before campaigning
can legally start (10 February). Finally, the IIPP's
parliamentary candidate is not a local.
Of the province's voters, 95 percent cast their ballots
for President Khatami, Yusef Azizi Bani-Taruf wrote in "Asr-i
Azadegan" on 18 January. Arabs make up 65 percent of the
provincial population, and Khatami rewarded their support by
ensuring that more Arabs are in government positions: from 2
out of 120 posts to the current 17. The formation of the Al-
Janat al-Wefaq, a small Arab-Iranian society, indicates the
related improvement in local self-worth, Bani-Taruf wrote. He
added that more needs to be done by the Islamic Culture and
Guidance Ministry, such as permission for the creation of
Arabic publications. Local Arabs would not, therefore, have
any attraction to so-called "liberation movements" from
across the border.
Such ethnic sentiments are taking a divisive turn in
Khuzestan, according to other observers. "Some of the
candidates and their supporters are involved in inciting
nationalist feelings and provoking ethnic tendencies among
the people to obtain votes," reported "Jomhuri-yi Islami" on
3 February. Ethnic sentiments have been a political issue in
Khuzestan "in the last couple of years."
Other problems in Khuzestan make it fertile ground for
those wanting to use ethnicity to pursue separatist agendas.
"Hundreds" of workers at the Abadan refinery have been
demoted so they will voluntarily quit, "thousands" of workers
in the steel mill have not received their pay or bonuses, and
the "legitimate wages of Khuzestan's pipe-manufacturing plant
have been unpaid for months." These events have resulted in
demonstrations and hunger strikes, "Kar va Kargar" reported
on 18 January. "We should not expect workers to continue to
bear the problems and say nothing," the newspaper warned.
(Bill Samii)

President Khatami did not feel obliged to visit Gilan
Province, although events there are following a similar
pattern. Violence erupted when the Islamic Iran Participation
Party's Mohammad Reza Khatami spoke in Rasht. Protestors also
chanted "Down with the Hypocrite" and objected to the
nomination of Roshanak Siasi, a candidate who is not a local,
"Iran Daily" reported on 8 February. Earlier, Ebrahim
Asgharzadeh of the Office for Strengthening Unity was "beaten
up and seriously injured in Rasht," "Sobh-i Imruz" reported
on 5 January. Shareholders and workers of Gilan Electric
factory held a protest gathering to demand payment for their
shares, "Tehran Times" reported on 31 January.
A group of Gilan students were quoted by "Nasim" as
saying "We will elect pro-Khatami candidates," "Iran Daily"
reported on 9 February. "Khabar va Nazar," a Rasht daily,
warned in December that the 2nd of Khordad coalition has a
great deal of support locally, but this support may not be
translated into votes cast in the polling place. That is
because the reformists do not seem to have much of a
platform, while many conservative candidates are promoting
themselves as "independents." In November, the same newspaper
said that conservatives are "trying to pretend they belong to
2nd of Khordad," and it urged the reformists to identify
their candidates and their platform as quickly as possible.
(Bill Samii)

Most voters in Tabriz intend to boycott the
parliamentary election, because the authorities refused to
allow the registration of "independent candidates for deputy,
including Tabriz University Professor Mahmudali Chehragani,"
Baku's Turan news agency reported on 28 January. In Ardabil,
about 50 Chehragani supporters were arrested, Baku's
"Azadlyg" reported on 25 January. The sources of these
reports are the United Azerbaijan Movement and the National
Liberation Movement of Southern Azerbaijan, nationalist-
separatist organizations based in Baku, so one can guess at
their accuracy.
There were other reports of political violence in
Ardabil. A hardline pressure group physically assaulted
members of the reformist Office for Strengthening Unity at an
11 February rally, "Hamshahri" reported the next day.
Students from Mohaqeq-i Ardabil University were chanting
"Death to monopolists" when they were attacked by a group
chanting "Death to anti-Vilayat-i Faqih [leadership of the
Supreme Jurisconsult]."
The situation in Isfahan, a city of 1.4 million people,
is less predictable than in Tabriz. Municipal council head
Hussein Mollai told the 5 February "Financial Times" that 80
percent of the voters will back reformist candidates. Council
member Abdulhussein Sassan, however, said that the reformist
groups are not united and this will harm their chances at the
polls. And newspaper editor Reza Mahzuniyeh said "The result
is not predictable."
When Ahmad Shirzad, an Islamic Iran Participation Party
candidate, told a 12 February rally at an Isfahan mosque that
dissident cleric Ayatollah Hussein Ali Montazeri-Najafabadi
should be released from house arrest, he was jeered and a
scuffle occurred. Shirzad was jostled by hardliners.
Montazeri said that some of the reformists should
withdraw their candidacy so the reformist vote would not be
diluted, Reuters reported on 12 February. He said that
"Candidates should consider the expediency of Islam, the
country and their constituency and, if necessary, withdraw in
order to create unity and to allow the best person to win."
Montazeri reminded candidates that "Self-sacrifice is one of
the attributes of the godly." (Bill Samii)

The office of Islamic Iran Participation Party candidate
Ali Tajernia in the northeastern city of Mashhad, Khorasan
Province, was set on fire on 10 February. An anonymous
official from Tajernia's office said the fire was the work of
hardliners, according to AP. A 16-year-old who was
distributing IIPP campaign literature was stabbed earlier in
the week.
In Tehran, the Law Enforcement Forces (LEF) and judicial
police inspected the office of the banned but tolerated
Freedom Movement on 9 February, "Asr-i Azadegan" reported two
days later. Party member Hussein Darvish said the LEF had a
search warrant, and it said the Freedom Movement must stop
its electoral activities. Although none of the party's
candidates' eligibility was approved, the Freedom Movement
had vowed to continue campaign activities.
Tehran candidates Mohammad Kazem-Kuhi and Elahe Rastgu
claimed that their election headquarters was attacked by
individuals claiming they were from the LEF, "Sobh-i Imruz"
reported on 12 February. They have complained to the Tehran
governor-general's office and to the LEF headquarters. (Bill

Some 2.876 million members of the Iranian workforce are
unemployed. This means that the country has a 16.3 percent
unemployment rate, the Plan and Budget Organization reported
on 5 February. These figures vary from province to province.
Underdeveloped Luristan Province has a 31 percent
unemployment rate, while Semnan has an 8.8 percent
unemployment rate. An estimated 20.6 percent of the female
workforce is unemployed, and 15.1 percent of people with
higher education or university degrees are unemployed.
So if an Iranian does have a job, he or she should be
grateful. Right?
Not necessarily. The Deputy Minister of Labor and Social
Affairs announced on 9 January that workers in more than 500
factories have not received their wages for three to 15
months, "Entekhab" reported the next day. Parviz Ahmadi, head
of the board of directors of the Islamic Work Councils Center
of Tehran, said the "wood industry workers have not received
their wages for 22 months." Soheila Jelodarzadeh, a member of
the parliamentary Labor Commission, explained that in many
cases factory owners create fake crises so they can avoid
paying their workers.
The Iranian government is making it increasingly
difficult for workers to demand their rights. All laborers'
meetings must be held under the umbrella of the Social
Welfare Organization, "Kar va Kargar" reported on 6 December.
When a group requested a permit to meet outside this format
to protest the Social Welfare Organization's refusal to allow
short-term and seasonal contracts or to permit early
retirements, the Interior Ministry rejected their request.
The Interior Ministry said any gathering would be "forbidden
and illegal," IRNA reported on 18 December.
A member of the Board of Managers for Labor of the
Tehran City Council added that the Social Welfare
Organization is refusing to pay unemployment insurance
benefits, although it receives a 3 percent insurance payment
from employers. It is not clear what happens to this money.
Unemployment will be one of the most important issues
facing the incoming parliament, a group of Iranian experts,
such as Professor Ebrahim Rezaqi, said in interviews with the
2 February "Resalat." Quchan parliamentarian Mohammad Baqer
Zakeri, however, warned that none of the political factions
has a clear economic plan, "Javan" reported on 9 February.
Part of the government's plan for creating jobs is the
promotion of small businesses, Cooperatives Minister Morteza
Haji said on 26 January. He said there are currently 50,000
cooperatives in Iran. (Bill Samii)

Copyright (c) 2000. RFE/RL, Inc. All rights reserved

Date: Mon, 14 Feb 2000 22:32:17 EST
Subject: Khamenei Lying About Talks with the US

Iran's conservative Mullahs often accuse their reformist rivals of seeking to
re-establish ties with the United States, and Khamenei has often attacked and
condemned those allied with President Khatami. The truth is, however, that
both camps have to deal with Iran's current economic crisis, and the
hard-liners, more and more fearful of losing their power base, are trying to
convince the United States that they alone, are in a position to restore ties
between Iran and the U.S.

As Hashemi Rafsanjani, now a favorite of Khamenei and the conservative camp
recently said: "The severance of relations will certainly not last forever".
It is interesting that his remarks have not been the subject of attacks by
Khamenei and other conservative Mullahs - and for good reason.

The conservative Mullahs, having found the Clinton administration more
favorable to the reformists, made an attempt to hold secret negotiations with
the G.W. Bush camp. According to the Kuwaiti daily Al-Watan, a meeting was
held in London between a leading member of George W. Bush's campaign team and
a leader of the Iranian conservatives associated with the right-wing
Association of Allied Islamic Groups headed by Habibollah AsgharOladi. This
was followed by a second meeting in Geneva. In return for normalization of
relations, a Bush administration would release frozen Iranian assets, lift
economic sanctions against Iran, and help boost the Iranian economy by
encouraging U.S. firms to invest in the Iranian industrial sector.

When the Clinton administration got wind of this, and to avoid a second
"October Surprise" it took quick action. To criminalize any secret
negotiations with Iran, the US State Department accused Iran of continuing to
sponsor terrorism. Later, the CIA, to everyone's surprise announced that Iran
was much closer to the atom bomb technology than previously estimated.

"Death to America" in public; "Long live George W. Bush Jr" in secret. This
is how a Geneva-based diplomat recently described the Iranian conservatives'
attitude towards the United States.


Date: Fri, 14 Jan 2000 21:17:12 -0800
From: mike mike <esperanto@MINDSPRING.COM>
Subject: Re: Iran rejects that Bhais of Iran has been harrssed for many years.

Iran rejects U.S. charges of religious persecution

February 14, 2000
Web posted at: 11:09 p.m. EST (0409 GMT)

TEHRAN, Iran (Reuters) -- Iran denied on Monday that death sentences against
three members of the Bahai faith were final and rejected U.S. charges that
they were being persecuted because of their religion.

"From the religious and legal point of view we believe that no one can be
punished merely for their belief, let alone be given such a heavy sentence
as death," Iranian state television quoted judiciary spokesman Mir-Mohammad
Sadeqi as saying.

"This case dates back to eight months ago and no new ruling has been issued
in recent months and the ruling in this case is not final," Sadeqi said.

"This case has gone through a long process. Death sentences were issued but
the supreme court rejected them and ordered a new hearing," he added.

Sadeqi was reacting to a statement by the White House on Friday that said
President Bill Clinton was "deeply troubled" by death sentences on Sirus
Zabihi-Moghaddam, Hedayat Kashefi-Najafabadi and Mauchehr Khulusi.

"In all three cases it is clear that the individuals were arrested, charged
and sentenced to death solely because of their beliefs," White House
spokesman Joe Lockhart said.

The first two men were arrested in 1997 for violating a ban on religious
gatherings while the third has never had formal charges brought against him,
according to the U.S. National Spiritual Association of Bahais spokeswoman
Kit Cosby.

She said Iran executed more than 200 Bahais between its Islamic Revolution
in 1979 and 1986, adding that the number of such executions had since fallen
and that the last one took place in July 1998.

In October, the State Department accused Iran of seeking to "eradicate" the
Bahai faith and accused the country and four others of violating religious

Copyright 2000 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be
published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Date: Tue, 15 Feb 2000 02:56:26 EST
Subject: Fwd: United States/Israel

STRATFOR.COM's Global Intelligence Update - 15 February 2000

By The Internet's Most Intelligent Source of International News &

Check out Stratfor's Executive Black Book "A Revolution
in the Dissemination of Business Intelligence"


Questions Arise Over Pipeline Project

Musharraf Showing Afghan-based Militants the Way to Kashmir

Romanian Cyanide Spill Poisons More Than Environment

Global Intelligence Update
15 February 2000

Push for Peace Process May Tie U.S. Hands in Middle East


On Feb. 14, the Jerusalem daily Haaretz reported that Israel and
the United States are developing a joint defense pact. Under the
pact, Washington would actively guarantee Israeli security. The
pact is part of an effort to secure a formalized peace between
Israel and Syria. But to secure a peace agreement, the United
States may commit itself to a long-term policy that would undermine
its relations with Arab countries. This would ultimately limit the
ability of the United States to develop and maintain relations with
Arab nations.


The United States and Israel are discussing a joint defense pact,
according to a Feb. 14 report in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz. The
pact would reportedly obligate the United States to defend Israel
in the event of attack. Meant to facilitate the stalled, formal
peace talks between Israel and Syria, the pact, however, could
leave the United States in an unfavorable position in the region.
It will effectively bind the foreign policies of the two nations,
strain Washington's relations with Arab countries and dramatically
limit Washington's future policy options.

The completion of the Israeli-Syrian peace process has become a
major objective of the Clinton administration. U.S. President Bill
Clinton himself has taken an active role in leading the
negotiations, inviting the leadership of both former antagonists to
the United States, mediating the talks and offering incentives to
Israel for a formalized peace agreement.

Apparently to move the stalled talks along, U.S. ambassador Martin
Indyk has reportedly proposed that the United States commit to
defend Israel, particularly in case of an attack involving weapons
of mass destruction (WMD) and long-range ballistic missiles. So
far, both the Pentagon and the State Department have refused to
comment on the existence of the negotiations. The agreement would
also reportedly place U.S. logistical bases on Israeli soil to
expedite U.S. military operations in the event of attack. The
United States, however, does not need pre-positioned supplies to
launch a retaliatory strike in the event of an attack.

Instead, the defense pact seems more like an increasingly large
package of American incentives meant to get Israel to keep the
talks alive. Unfortunately, the incentive may be more than the
United States can afford. The pact would substantially increase the
U.S. commitment to Israel's continued security, which now stands at
$3 billion annually - more aid than any other country. Other
reported initiatives include placing U.S. peacekeeping forces in
the Golan Heights and Israel's recent request for $17 billion in
military aid, including cruise missile technology. However,
Washington has been careful to avoid firm security commitments in
order to keep from antagonizing Arab nations.

The United States already provides Israel with aid, weapons and
technology but a newly formalized defense pact would tie U.S.
foreign policy to Israeli foreign policy. If conflicts between
Israel and Arab nations arise, the United States would be forced to
side with Israel - regardless of U.S. interests or relations with
the Arab nations involved. The relationship would not work;
Israel's foreign policy is often in direct conflict with the United
States. Israel is known to have sold weapons and technology to U.S.
adversaries such as China and Iran.

In the Arab world, Washington's working - if tenuous - relations
would be further endangered. Already, Persian Gulf nations have
called for the United States to lower its military profile in the
region. And Iran and Iraq have long clamored for the complete
withdrawal of U.S. forces. By building a formalized, bilateral
defense agreement with Israel, Washington ensures hostility from
Arab nations.

Forged during the heat of the Cold War, the U.S.-Israeli
relationship has since cooled. No longer of vital importance to
U.S. strategic interests in the region, the peace process has
become a hot-button issue in Washington largely due to the fact
that it's an election year with an outgoing president who wants to
leave behind a legacy. In the hope of formalizing an already
tenuous peace, Washington may undercut its long-term interests in
the region, and ultimately re-formulate its entire policy in the
Middle East.

(c) 2000, WNI, Inc.




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End of DNI-NEWS Digest - 11 Feb 2000 to 14 Feb 2000