Subject: DNI-NEWS Digest - 24 Feb 2000 - Special issue

There are 19 messages totalling 1288 lines in this issue.

Topics in this special issue:

1. Iranian Reformist Nouri Given Permission for New Home Leave
2. Political Factions in the 6th Majlis
3. 2 Tons of Narcotics Seized
4. zoroastrian-visit
5. elections-ecpi
6. Fraud charges mar final stage of Iran polls
7. Payvand:Resalat-Lessons of the 21st election
8. Washington Post-THE RELIABLE SOURCE
9. Payvand:Asr-e Azadegan-Music, Concerts, Cassettes
10. Iran executes three drug traffickers
11. Senate Votes on Iran Sanctions Bill
12. fwd: A New Iran, a New U.S. Policy
13. The ballot box
14. Albright Renews Iran Talks Offer
15. Iran Cops To Go on Trial
16. Iran says reformist victory will not shape US ties
17. New Revolution' Possible
18. Some 92,500 Iranian haj pilgrims expected
19. U.S. Senate targets Russia over weapons sales to Iran

Date: Thu, 24 Feb 2000 06:13:34 EST
From: Sohrab68@AOL.COM
Subject: Iranian Reformist Nouri Given Permission for New Home Leave

Iranian Reformist Nouri Given Permission for New Home Leave

TEHRAN (AFP) - Leading reformist Abdullah Nouri, who was imprisoned
for spreading "anti-Islamic propaganda," has been given permission to take
home leave again, a pro-reform newspaper said in a news release yesterday.

The former interior minister, who returned to north Tehran's notorious Evin
Prison yesterday after three days of home leave, can go home again "until
Saturday morning," the Fath newspaper said. The Special Clerical Court that
had sentenced him to a five-year term, gave permission for the home leave.

During his temporary release earlier in the week, he expressed satisfaction
with the results of Friday's Legislative elections that he had been banned
from standing in.

"The result could change many things and even have an impact on my
release," he told journalists.

Nouri, who ran a moderate newspaper, was barred from standing in the
polls because of his jail sentence, which was seen as part of an attempt by
conservatives to retain their now-broken hold on Parliament, notably in
clamping down on the reformist press.

Home leave for up to a week at a time is allowed under Iranian law for
prisoners who show proof of good behavior.

Date: Thu, 24 Feb 2000 06:14:39 EST
From: Sohrab68@AOL.COM
Subject: Political Factions in the 6th Majlis


Political Factions in the 6th Majlis


TEHRAN - Mohammad Reza Rahchamani, secretary of the reformist
Islamic Iran Solidarity Party (IISP), told IRAN NEWS Wednesday that the
6th Majlis will have a large number of political factions, including the
Imam and Leadership Line, Islamic Iran Participation Party (IIPP), IISP, as
well as the faction belonging to the Line of Imam and the Executives of
Construction Party (ECP).

He said: "Since the well known rightist political figures failed to secure
enough votes to enter parliament, the Conservative faction will be rather
small and will number only about fifty or so, but there will be disagreement
and disunity among the reformists mainly over the way the Majlis should be
run. However, I doubt that there will be disagreement about supporting the

On Tuesday, Mohammad Reza Khatami, secretary of IIPP, was asked
about the possibility of one of his party's members becoming the future
Majlis speaker. He said: "We have to wait until IIPP forms its faction in the
new Majlis. We will then confer with our members and also discuss the
matter with the 2nd of Khordad Front (the umbrella group containing all
reformist factions) before we make a decision (regarding who should be the
next speaker)." The election's preliminary results show that reformists will
dominate the 6th Majlis. But it is not as simple as that because some analysts
believe that the fact that the 2nd of Khordad Front is made up of several
political factions makes it vulnerable to factionalization and dissent.

What seems certain at this stage of the game is that IIPP itself will have a
of disagreements with other, smaller, groups in the Majlis.

This could easily be detected from Mr. Mohammad Reza Khatami's
statement in a recent press conference when he made a distinction and a
clear demarcation between his party and others that function under the
umbrella of the 2nd of Khordad Front.

No one can dispute the fact that IIPP introduced and supported a large
number of candidates nationwide, including well known figures such as
Abbas Abdi, Rajabali Mazrooie, and Mohammad Reza Khatami which
increased the prestige and popularity of the party, but distinguishing between
IIPP and other factions and parties could only result in many disagreements
among the 2nd of Khordad Front's various groupings.

The possibility of such a disagreement is dismissed by some IIPP officials
such as Mohsen Safaie-Farahani who, at the same press conference, told
IRAN NEWS: "We hope that there will be no disagreements (between IIPP
and the rest of the 2nd of Khordad Front), and we can continue our
cooperation which resulted in issuing a common list of candidates in 201
constituencies prior to the elections."

Others, such as Abbas Abdi, are less optimistic about the continuing
solidarity among the 2nd of Khordad Front's partners. Abdi recently told the
Abrar daily that it would be natural for the 2nd of Khordad Front to suffer
some disunity after its initial success.

In the final analysis, the cohesion of the 2nd of Khordad Front depends to a
large extent on how the defeated Conservatives react to their own defeat. If
they continue to seriously oppose the front, then the front members will
their wagons and continue to work as a unified front. But if the right wingers
reduce their anti front activities, then in the absence of a common enemy, the
front members will begin fighting among themselves for a bigger share of

Date: Thu, 24 Feb 2000 06:16:19 EST
From: Sohrab68@AOL.COM
Subject: 2 Tons of Narcotics Seized

2 Tons of Narcotics Seized


TEHRAN-- Two tons of different kinds of narcotics were seized from
smugglers in Kerman Province during the past two weeks, a local Law
Enforcement official said yesterday.

He said that the amount which included opium, heroin and morphine, was
seized in armed clashes with the smugglers during several separate

Five smugglers were killed during the operations, he said, quoted by IRNA.

Meanwhile, a gang of smugglers was also busted in the northern Province of
Gilan Tuesday and 39 kg of opium was seized during the operation.

Date: Thu, 24 Feb 2000 06:18:56 EST
From: Sohrab68@AOL.COM
Subject: zoroastrian-visit

thr 074
president's representative visits zoroastrian leader
tehran, feb 23, irna -- a representative of president khatami on
wednesday paid a visit on the leader of the iran's zoroastrian
community rostam shahrzadi who is suffering from an illness.
the representative abolqassem khoshrou in the visit conveyed the
greetings of the president to the zoroastrian leader and wished him
good health and god's blessings. khoshrou also said in the visit
that the president has ordered rapid arrangements for taking care of
shahrzadi's health condition.
the zoroastrian leader in the visit thanked the president's
attention to his health problem and prayed for the president khatami's
success in his service towards the iranian nation. he remarked that
the relations between iranian mulsims with other iranian minority
communities are based on friendship and mutual understanding.
::irna 23/02/2000 21:40

Date: Thu, 24 Feb 2000 06:21:43 EST
From: Sohrab68@AOL.COM
Subject: elections-ecpi

thr 070
ecpi under-secretary-general on sixth majlis elections
tehran, feb. 23, irna -- under-secretary-general of the executives
of construction party of iran (ecpi) hossein mar'ashi said here on
wednesday that sixth majlis election tally is a victory of the masses
and one can not take it as a victory of any wing or political
mar'ashi told reporters at the end of the open session of majlis
that iran's policy despite its diversity and popularity suffers from
the weakness of relying on political waves.
referring to low percentage of votes garnered by chairman of the
expediency council (ec) akbar hashemi rafsanjani, mar'ashi said that
in his view, opponents of the ec chairman managed to distort realities
through negative publicity and introduce mr. rafsanjani, who is a
reformist, to the public as a personality who is against reform.
asked whether mr. rafsanjani would be speaker of the sixth majlis
in case of he wins a seat to the legislative, mar'ashi said, ''that's
up to him (rafsanjani) and the decision made by as well as the general
tendency of the majlis deputies.
asked to elaborate on ''tendency'', mar'ashi said naturally, mr.
rafsanjani has both friends and foes among the elected deputies but
one should wait and see the views of the two groups on the issue.
asked on the coalition of the ecpi and the followers of the path
of imam and leadership in case of mr. rafsanjani's presence at the
sixth majlis, mar'ashi said: ''i have explained time and again that
we consider mr. hashemi rafsanjani as a reformist but you insist that
he is a right wing personality.''
a reporter asked, ''some consider the reason for low voting for
mr. hashemi as wrong conclusion of his advisors about social
conditions as well as difference of opinion regarding the entry of mr.
hashemi rafsanjani to the race for the sixth majlis elections; what is
your opinion on this?'' a reporter asked.
mar'ashi said there had been no difference of opinion and no
mistake has occurred in political and social analyses. but at any
rate the point worth noting is mistake in finding the example.
the relative majority have elected mr. hashemi but our attitude
was based on the fact that the majority would vote for him with
respect to his reformist personality, he added.
asked why mr. hashemi rafsanjani, as a reformist personality, did
not respond to public query on events over the past two or three
years, mar'ashi replied, ''our analyses on a personality such as mr.
hashemi should not be based on several stances. one should analyze his
personality in a 30-year period.''
one should study the role of mr. hashemi rafsanjani on different
periods, said mar'ashi adding that but perhaps there might be
difference of opinion between him and certain reformists in a special
juncture on the speed or degree of reforms.
one should not judge people on several transitory and opportunist
angles, said mar'ashi adding that many of those introduced as
reformists these days are those with records of opposition to reforms.
but they considered the political and social conditions ripe, took
several transitory and periodic stances, he added.
unfortunately, a personality such as mr. rafsanjani with bright
reformist record and years of struggle behind him was presented to the
public as a conservative and anti-reformist.
asked to comment on mrs. faezeh hashemi's low rank in the list of
winning candidates for the sixth majlis compared to her second rank in
the list of winning candidates for the fifth electoral race, mar'ashi
said mrs. hashemi is a cultural figure and follows mostly cultural
developments. in the fifth majlis public demands were cultural but the
course of the demands in the sixth majlis was changed in favor of
difference in the type of pubic demands had been influential in
people's decision making in the case of fa'ezeh hashemi rafsanjani, he
::irna 23/02/2000 20:04

Date: Thu, 24 Feb 2000 08:31:52 EST
From: Sohrab68@AOL.COM
Subject: Fraud charges mar final stage of Iran polls

Fraud charges mar final stage of Iran polls

By Jonathan Lyons

TEHRAN, Feb 24 (Reuters) - Iranian officials on Thursday delayed releasing
final poll results for Tehran amid allegations of vote-rigging in a tight
race for the last of the capital's 30 parliamentary seats.

Officials told Reuters they were investigating charges that 100 ballot boxes
were stuffed with fraudulent votes. Another 100 boxes had yet to be counted
out of a total of 3,111 across the city, they said.

``Some ballot boxes are being recounted. Protests have been made against
alleged vote-rigging...especially in the south of Tehran,'' one ministry
official said.

``The interior ministry is following up this case results will be
released by tomorrow (Friday) night.''

With almost all votes counted, reformists backing President Mohammad Khatami
had a firm grip on the top 27 places and were leading in the race for another
two seats -- an improvement on an already strong showing in the provinces.

But the fate of former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the
standard-bearer for the conservative establishment and the only obstacle to a
reformist sweep of the capital, hung in the balance.

According to unofficial results, Rafsanjani was clinging to a place in the
top 30, but it was uncertain whether he would clear the 25-percent threshold
needed to enter parliament in the first round. A strong showing in South
Tehran could put him through.

Authorities, under mounting pressure to publish a final tally, had promised
final results by noon (0830 GMT) on Thursday. That deadline came and went
with no official comment.

However, the ministry assured voters their ballots would be protected.

``The officials in the interior ministry in coordination with Mr Khatami's
policies will not allow even one vote to be manipulated,'' Mohammad
Qadimi-Zaker, the ministry's director general of elections, told the
afternoon daily Aftab-e Emrouz.

Complicating the count is the dual nature of authority for the polls, divided
between the reformist government's interior ministry and the conservative
clerics who dominate the Guardian Council.

Elections monitors say interior ministry supervisors have refused to sign off
on results from the disputed districts, despite approval of the balloting by
representatives of the Guardian Council.

Failure to resolve the dispute could force a new election, although analysts
said that was unlikely. A meeting was scheduled for later on Thursday between
the ministry and the Guardians.

Rival newspapers, meanwhile, fanned the flames of controversy.

``Some people are worried their votes may be tampered with,'' read a
front-page headline in the leftist Bayan.

But the conservative afternoon daily Kayhan said the delays were part of a
plot to deprive the former president of his rightful seat.

``Lots of efforts are being expended by a certain political current to remove
the name of Mr Hashemi Rafsanjani from the list of candidates who have made
it to parliament from Tehran,'' it said.

Authorities say they have focused their attention so far on South Tehran, a
traditionalist stronghold widely seen as the most favourable grounds for
Rafsanjani, a pragmatic cleric and veteran revolutionary.

Date: Thu, 24 Feb 2000 10:03:39 -0500
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@PANJERE.NET>
Subject: Payvand:Resalat-Lessons of the 21st election

Payvand's Iran News ...

Lessons of the 21st election By Mohammad Kazem Anbarlui Editorial to
Resalat daily 22 February 2000

Although the sweetness of the popular participation can be sensed at the
palate of the lovers of the system, but bitterness cannot be
disregarded. According the interior minister, about 38 million people
were eligible to vote, while apparently only 26 million took part, i.e.
12 million did not go to the ballot boxes. It is very important to find
out who these 12 million were. Certainly they are not dissidents and
outsiders, because they did not boycotted the election.

Mr. Rafsanjani's government in the last days of its rule still holds the
record for people's largest participation.

The seventh presidential elections show the ceiling of this record.

This lack of participation should be attributed to the failure in
materializing the promises as well as people's demands, particularly
those of the lower classes. The economic problems and the incompetence
of the economic authorities were one of the major reasons for this lack
of participation. The government has hidden these issues under loads of
debates such as political development, civil society, etc., and is not

It seems that this group's sulking is not a result of their anger with
the system. Their comment is "We don't have a share in participation."
They neither have a newspaper to express their viewpoint nor a party in
which to experience their abilities to take their share of power. They
are lower, weaker and deprived classes facing numerous problems in
making ends meet. The government should pay special attention to the
demands of the lower classes, those classes that absorbed all the
attention of the late Imam. They are unfortunately no only forgotten,
but even terms such as deprived, meek and ? have left the political
literature of groups.

Another lesson was people's turning to new political faces. In
democratic countries, power is transferred every ten years. People
experiment with new faces and contenders. The composition of the votes
shows that the people have put more trust in one of the two rivaling
factions which does not mean that they have given up their trust in one
group and put it in another.

Those who see the results of the election as black and white are
mistaken. The game of democracy and votes knows no black or white. If
the chosen ones fail to keep people's trust, naturally the next term
would be the turn of those who assume this competence.

In an optimistic interpretation, people are testing fresh forces with
new claims, and this competition is a reasonable affair within the
framework of the system?

Date: Thu, 24 Feb 2000 10:05:06 -0500
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@PANJERE.NET>
Subject: Washington Post-THE RELIABLE SOURCE


By Lloyd Grove With Beth Berselli Wednesday, February 23, 2000; Page C03


* We hear that King Juan Carlos of Spain was royally ticked off last
night when he arrived for dinner at Georgetown's Four Seasons Hotel--two
minutes after President Clinton showed up for a Rep. Maxine Waters
(D-Calif.) fund-raiser--only to be directed through the lowly bellmen's
entrance. But His Majesty's snit was nothing compared with the road rage
inspired by 15 minutes of total gridlock caused by the dueling

* The Landon School might cater to Washington's power elite, but
everybody is welcome at this Saturday's auction at its Bethesda campus,
where bidders can try for such items as a walk-on role in ABC's "The
Practice," arranged by Landon parent and former "Wonder Woman" star
Lynda Carter Altman, and "Lion King" tickets for six, dinner at Sardi's
and a corporate-jet ride to New York--the aircraft provided by Landon
grandfather Nathan Landow. No limo, alas.

* Former housing secretary Henry Cisneros--who left the nation's capital
after running afoul of the law--is keeping up his Washington connection,
sort of. In March 2001, Washington Redskin Brad Badger will wed
Cisneros's daughter, Mercedes.

* James Carville doesn't need to worry where his next bottle of rum is
coming from. Tonight, President Clinton's onetime political guru, joined
by Al Franken, emcees a "Captain Morgan for President 2000" rally at the
National Press Club--paid for by the Seagram Spirits and Wine Group.
Carville refused to tell us how much walkin'-around money he's getting
for the gig.

How Do You Say 'It's Academic' in Farsi?

* Iranian-born Mahan Esfahani--an honor roll student at Rockville's
Richard Montgomery High School, president of the Model United Nations
Club and captain of the winning "It's Academic" quiz team--is something
of a local hero. But now the 16-year-old junior is going global. This
week he's scheduled to be interviewed by Voice of America--for broadcast
in Iran and other countries with Farsi speakers--about his starring role
on the high school quiz show that airs Saturday mornings on Channel 4.

"It'll send a great message," Esfahani told us. "The thing about Iran
is, it may not be a country rich in resources, but it's a country that's
rich in talent. You have Iranian kids 15 or 16 years old, winning
various academic olympiads and computer science awards and they don't
have a computer. Teenage kids over there will see that a great deal of
America's talent lies in the students who come from abroad."

Esfahani, who speaks Farsi at home with his parents, accountants Jamhoor
and Nila, came here when he was 2 years old. Aside from his schoolwork,
Esfahani is an amateur composer and a concert-level pianist. Last week
he took first prize in the prestigious Texaco Opera Quiz at the Kennedy
Center, earning a trip to New York and a crystal trophy presented by
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. When he finally gets to a
top-flight college, "I want to double-major in international relations
and musicology," he told us intimidatingly, adding that he'd eventually
like to work at the United Nations or The Hague.

Flavor of the Millennium?

Charlize Theron is living dangerously in "Reindeer Games," which opens
Friday and is one of five movies this year alone starring Hollywood's
24-year-old "It" Girl. This time, she plays "the passionate prison pen
pal who draws Rudy Duncan"--i.e., Ben Affleck--"into the winter ride of
his life," says a press release.

"I don't know if I am the longest-living 'It' Girl in history, but you
can't be the 'It' Girl forever," Theron told us from Los Angeles. "While
it lasts it's very nice, but what's important to me is that I actually
have a job."

If this sounds mundane coming from the pouty-lipped mouth of a movie
star, Theron has gotten as far on elbow grease--and the sheer grit
necessary to rise above a tragic family background--as she has on great
looks. Growing up in South Africa, she studied ballet seriously from age
6, dancing professionally in Johannesburg; moved to Milan at age 16 to
work as a model, then settled in New York to join the Joffrey Ballet
until a knee injury ended her dancing dreams.

Her first language was Afrikaans, and she still uses it with her mother,
who lives with her in L.A. But she has worked hard to lose the accent.
"I am South African. That's my home," Theron said. "But I learned to
speak the way Americans speak, though sometimes I have little
slips--mostly in my grammar. It's pretty obvious that if you come across
as a foreigner, it limits your ability to get roles."

Back in South Africa, where Theron had spent much of her life in
boarding school, her violently abusive father was shot and killed by her
mother, in self-defense, the authorities ruled. That was nine years ago.
More recently, in 1997, her 22-year-old stepbrother was killed in an
automobile accident.

"Anything you experience in your life informs your work," Theron said.
"Everything that happens to you, you carry with you. . . . You can't
dwell on that stuff. I have no desire to live my life in constant fear
and being paranoid. If I did, I would be miserable."

© Copyright 2000 The Washington Post Company

Date: Thu, 24 Feb 2000 10:05:43 -0500
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@PANJERE.NET>
Subject: Payvand:Asr-e Azadegan-Music, Concerts, Cassettes

Payvand's Iran News ...

02/23/00 Music, Concerts, Cassettes By Behzad Tonekaboni Arts page,
Asr-e Azadegan daily 22 February 2000

Niavaran culture house and the days of youth On February 22 through 24,
Niavaran culture house will host Shahin Farhat, musical expert and one
of Iran's most prominent pianists together with Amir Sarraf, another
renowned pianist for a live performance. In the concert, titled "Eternal
Iranian Compositions", old ballads will be performed by the two masters.
Pieces by Ali Akbar Khan Shahnazi, Morteza Khan, Amir Jahed, Javad
Badizadeh, Ruhollah Khaleqi, Fereydoon Hafezi and Ali Tajvidi will be
played. A group of young musicians from Armenia will perform pieces of
classical music in Niavaran culture house between February 25-27.

The Spanish play and sing in Tehran The distinguished Spanish guitarist
Miguel Rivera and his fellow singer Antonio Lopez will perform a
flamenco concert in the cinemateque of Tehran's Museum of Contemporary
Arts, to introduce their homeland's traditional music to Iranians. The
duo first had a successful performance in Niavaran culture house.

The most wanted to perform again Successful groups of the Fajr Musical
Festival will perform again this week in the Vahdat hall. Armenia's
philharmonic orchestra conducted by Loris Chaknavarian, Iran's national
orchestra led by Farhad Fakhreddini, most enthusiastically received by
the audience during the festival, will go on stage for an encore on
Thursday and Friday respectively.

Date: Thu, 24 Feb 2000 10:05:57 EST
From: Sohrab68@AOL.COM
Subject: Iran executes three drug traffickers

Iran executes three drug traffickers

TEHRAN, Feb 24 (Reuters) - Three drug traffickers were hanged after their
death sentences were confirmed by Iran's Supreme Court, Kayhan newspaper
reported on Thursday.

The armed traffickers were arrested by police in Mazandaran province in
northern Iran after smuggling 7,330 kg (16,120 lb) of opium and 510 kg (1,120
lb) of heroin and sentenced to death by the revolutionary courts.

Date: Thu, 24 Feb 2000 10:06:55 EST
From: Sohrab68@AOL.COM
Subject: Senate Votes on Iran Sanctions Bill

Senate Votes on Iran Sanctions Bill

.c The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Senate is voting today on a bill that singles out
Russia for possible sanctions if it supplies Iran with weapons of mass

Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota predicted overwhelming
support among senators who want to send ``as strong a message'' as possible
about the transfer of dangerous weapons and materials.

The House passed a very similar bill last September by 419-0, and is expected
to quickly adapt the Senate version and send it on to the president. The
White House last year threatened to veto the House bill, saying it would
weaken the U.S. ability to persuade the international community to halt
weapons transfers to Iran.

But Democratic leaders said the administration, while still opposed, is now
satisfied the bill would give the president enough flexibility to deal with
different circumstances, and would not recommend a veto.

Under the legislation, the president would be required to submit reports to
Congress every six months to identify countries such as Russia, China and
North Korea providing Iran with materiel to promote its missile and weapons

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

The bill also would bar the United States from making payments to the Russian
space agency for helping build the International Space Station until the
president determines that Russia is actively opposing proliferation in Iran.

Clinton vetoed legislation in 1998 that, unlike the current bill, would have
required 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.

Legislators said the administrative action, while needed, did not go far
enough and that the growing influence of reformists in Iran's government did
not obviate the threat posed by Iran's weapons program.

``The danger is still there, and those who are in charge of nuclear
proliferation in Iran have a very strong grip on what's being done,'' said
Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss.

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., a chief sponsor.

The bill is H.R. 83.

Date: Thu, 24 Feb 2000 11:53:18 -0500
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@PANJERE.NET>
Subject: fwd: A New Iran, a New U.S. Policy

Iran Daneshjoo Organization News Service -

A New Iran, a New U.S. Policy

Democracy International
by Dr. Ira Straus *

Special to SMCCDI
February 22, 2000

With the landslide reformist win in its parliamentary elections, Iran is
more than halfway to the end of the Islamic Republic. Many experts are
underestimating the pace of change in Iran, much as their predecessors did
in 1979. The actual prospects open up important opportunities for America.

Change has already gone farther in Iran today than it had in the Soviet
Union a year before its demise. In the Soviet Union, 1990 was the year
when semi-free elections were first held on the provincial (Republic)
level; free nationwide elections never took place at all. In Iran,
relatively free elections for the nationwide parliament have now been
held; fairly free
municipal elections having been held last year, presidential elections the
year before. The Iranian reformers won in all three sets of elections by
landslide margins, far exceeding Western expectations in each case, and
dwarfing the margins racked up by the Russian democrats in the 1990

By the logic of this calendar, we should be expecting the end of the
Islamic Republic within a year.

As yet, no one is preparing for this. Most experts are emphasizing the
obstacles -- the entrenched power structures of the mullahs, the limited
goals of the reformers, the long slow path ahead.

It creates a sense of deja vu.

The U.S. made the same mistake with Iran in 1979. Just months before the
Islamic revolution, the CIA was saying that Iran was nowhere near a
pre-revolutionary situation.

The same mistake was made with Soviet Russia, too. Gorbachevís reforms
were often described as "cosmetic" and as aimed at "dividing and deceiving
the West". As late as September 1989, arguments of this sort were still
being made by the National Security Adviser, Brent Scowcroft, and by his
expert on Russia, Condoleezza Rice. Ronald Reagan was derided as "naÔve"
for having talked about an end to Communism.

We should not make the same mistake again.

It is a tragedy of experts, that their expertise is mostly on the past.
Their expertise would be made obsolete by fundamental change. Little
wonder they are prone to underestimate the forces of change!

Experts on Iran, like the earlier experts on the Soviet Union, know all
about the structural obstacles to change. They know all about the
ideological commitments of the existing institutions and their entrenched
personnel. They know much less about the new reformist forces that are

The reformers are still finding their voices. They are prying the door
open to entire areas of thought that have been repressed. Each new thought
has new
implications, many of them still repressed. Each turn in the road opens up
new vistas. "Let us admit the case of the conservative," said John Dewey:
once thought is set in motion, it always "puts some portion of an
apparently stable world in peril, and no one can guarantee where we shall
come out." The
conservatives in Iran are afraid that it will lead to the whole system
falling apart. After three reformist landslides in a row, it is too late
for them to restore the old apparent stability. The only question is
whether they will allow change to proceed peacefully.

We should be thinking in terms of a probability of the Islamic Republic
coming to an end within 1-2 years. We should be ready for it.

We should think through the implications of a free Iran. One that puts
aside Islamic revolution, puts aside enforced fanaticism, puts aside
anti-Americanism, puts aside repression, puts aside the supra-state power
structures of the mullahs... This will be an Iran that we can do business
with. And we will have plenty of business to do with it.

Thanks, ironically, to the mass literacy and participation achieved by the
Islamic Revolution, the new Iran has a good chance of emerging as one of
the most democratic countries in the Islamic world. As such, it could
become one of Americaís leading partners in the region.

The U.S. can help this along by planning on a free Iran playing a
dignified role in the world, one that builds on Iranís interests and on
shared interests, not just on unilateral U.S. demands. The U.S. could
build on its shared interests with Iran vis-a-vis Saddam Hussein and the
Taliban, and could facilitate a reconciliation between Iran and Turkey.

Interestingly, Iran takes a view of the problems to its east that
coincides with U.S. interests. Specifically, it is against the Sunni
Islamic extremists to its east -- the Taliban in Afghanistan, and related
movements in Central Asia and Pakistan. Here, Iranís interest coincides
with that of Russia and India as well as America. A free Iran opens up a
prospect for a grand democratically-oriented alliance - Iran, Russia,
India, America - which would have the resources to foster moderation
throughout the Central Asian region.

Iran already has close relations with Russia. This is something to start
building on. Thus far the Iran-Russia link has harmed U.S.-Russian
relations; but with a free Iran, it could become a plus and grow into a
U.S.-Iran-Russia link. Already today, Russia could help America improve
its relations with Iran. It would be useful for the U.S. to consult with
Russia to this end.

A free Iran would be a relatively stable source of oil. It would be a more
affordable outlet for a pipeline from the Caspian sea, and less irritating
to Russia, than the one currently planned.

The U.S. should be thinking in terms of a transformed geopolitical
situation in the Greater Middle East and Eurasia. The major powers
involved in the region -- Russia, India, U.S., Europe, Turkey, Iran -- are
all lining up against extremism, Islamism, and terrorism. All are coming
to be supportive of moderate governments and stability in the region,
along with reform and democratization. It is a good time for policy
planners to be working out scenarios for turning this convergence into an
effective grouping.

* Dr. Ira Straus is U.S. Coordinator of the independent Committee on
Eastern Europe and Russia in NATO, and Executive Director of Democracy

Date: Thu, 24 Feb 2000 12:35:05 EST
Subject: The ballot box

The ballot box
Majlis elections mark new era

Written and Photographed by Dokhi Fassihian
February 21, 2000
The Iranian

There is excitement on the streets of Tehran. Democracy
arrived with a vengeance. All over town, people are
about the latest results of Friday's vote and making
for the final makeup of Iran's sixth Majles. In taxis,
restaurants, and parties, politics rules supreme.

In a stunning victory, reformists belonging to the
Islamic Iran
Participation Front (pro-Khatami factions) have swept
Mashad, Esfehan and Shiraz and other major cities.
in second place are independent candidates, and coming
in last
with a small minority are the conservatives.

Displaying a suprisingly poor performance is Chairman
of the
Expediency Council and former president Akbar Hashemi
Rafsanjani. Conservatives hoped that he would return as
Speaker of the Majlis and hold back the reformists. In
Rafsanjani's bottom ranking after the vote count was a
embarrassment. He was the only candidate given special
permission by the conservative-dominated Majles to keep
position while running on the conservative ticket for
All other candidate were required to resign from their

It is still not clear whether Rafsanjani will squeeze
in enough
votes to guarantee him a seat in the Majles, but as far
as the
public is concerened, he is history. Rafsanjani is
unpopular among Tehran's residents, who went to the
polls in
massive numbers to keep him out of the Majles. "I am
voting to
keep the likes of Rafsanjani out!" a shop owner
"This is my main reason for voting."

"He should be ashamed of himself," a cab driver ranted
Rafsanjani. "It is so tacky of him to run again, after
all of the
positions he's held. He is making a fool of himself and
conservatives tricked him. [Majlis Speaker]
Nateq-Nouri, on
the other hand, was smart. He knew he wouldn't win, so
didn't run."

The same cab driver told me that this was only his
second time
voting and that he was voting for reformists supporting
President Khatami. "I voted for Khatami, many people
Since I felt it made a difference, I'm voting again."

Friday's elections were truy historic. Election
officials estimate
that a whopping 83% of eligible voters participated in
parliamentary elections -- the largest turnout in
Iran's history,
even beating the turnout for the 1997 presidential
which swept Mohammad Khatami to office in a landslide.

"I haven't seen this phenomenon for 21 years," said the
driver with great excitement. "I've been driving around
just to
watch the lines of people wrapped around buildings
waiting to
vote, and it's all because of Khatami!"

There was exceptional diversity among Iranians out to
vote on
their weekend day of rest. Families and friends arrived
groups and waited in line patiently to get their chance
at the
ballot box. It was perhaps the only time I've seen
people here
wait patiently in a single-spaced line! Many clutched
pieces of paper and newspaper cutouts of candidate
lists from
campaign advertisements in newspapers. They all carried
anxious determination on their faces. This was the
moment of

Once inside, voters presented their identification
papers for
stamping and received a ballot in return. Then, it was
off to
find a corner to stand or sit and study their choices,
confer with
relatives and friends, and carefully write out the
names of each
of their thirty choices. Voters took their time--many
up to 30
minutes. All whom I spoke with later told me they voted
for a
mixture of mostly reformists and a few independents.
Even in
the conservative bastion of south Tehran, people were

I visited eight polling stations throughout the city on
day. Most crowded were those in the more affluent areas
north and northwestern Tehran. Polling stations in
Tehran also had lines of people outside. In the south,
were less voters, but more voting stations; people
trickled in
throughout the day.

There were different reasons for voting, but all wanted

A 28 year old man asked me about relations between the
and Iran. "I'm hoping with my vote a reformist victory
will help
relations improve and help me leave Iran," he told me.
When I
asked him why he would leave if the situation improved,
replied, "People here lie too much. It has become a

"Economics," said another voter . "Most people are
voting for
economic reasons -- for an end to the poverty which has
gripped the country."

"I am voting so that people can feel my pain, so they
can hear
my voice," said another voter in central Tehran. "I
want my
children to have a bright future."

By far, the most striking characteristic of the past
few days
has been the incredible sense of moral and national
"Have you voted yet?" were the first words exchanged
strangers, friends, and relatives on Friday. I was
asked this
question many times by different people and among the
people I asked, very few said no. Even then, they told
me they
were still considering voting.

Despite lingering skepticisim people are getting a feel
for the
political process. They have reached deep into their
hearts and
taken back their government. Friday the 18th 2000,
another real turning point in Iran's political history,
like May
23rd 1997, when people brought their popular president
office. Indeed, democracy has finally arrived.

Date: Thu, 24 Feb 2000 15:34:35 EST
From: Sohrab68@AOL.COM
Subject: Albright Renews Iran Talks Offer

Albright Renews Iran Talks Offer

.c The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) - Secretary of State Madeleine Albright today renewed an
offer to talk directly to Iran about U.S. concerns with Iranian policies.

At a news conference, Albright also said the United States would watch very
carefully how the Iranian government responds to the large turnout of voters
last Friday ``and the message that it sends from the Iranian people that they
want some change.''

The returns in the balloting for parliament appear to indicate a surge toward
moderation in the Persian Gulf country.

Albright offered nothing in the way of gestures beyond renewing a
long-standing overture for a dialogue that she has made clear would include
U.S. allegations that Iran supports terrorism, is trying to sabotage Middle
East peacemaking and seeks to amass an arsenal of weapons of mass

``We have been prepared for direct dialogue. We say that again,'' Albright

Just today the Senate passed a bill, 98-0, that would require the president
to report twice a year a list of countries that could be subject to sanctions
for providing Iran with materiel to develop missiles and weapons.

On Wednesday, the State Department opposed any World Bank loans for Iran
until the Persian Gulf country pursues economic reform and abandons support
for terrorism.

``We will not support any loan to Iran that comes to the World Bank's
executive board,'' spokesman James P. Rubin said.

But Richard N. Haass, vice president and director of foreign policy studies
at the Brookings Institution, urged the administration to reconsider. He said
``it would send a positive message'' to Iran.

Federal law requires the United States to oppose loans by the World Bank and
other international institutions to countries listed by the department as
sponsors of terrorism. Iran is one of seven countries so designated.

Rubin said Iran has yet to make progress in abandoning support for terrorism
- arming the militant Islamic group Hezbollah in southern Lebanon, for
instance - and in economic reform.

Date: Thu, 24 Feb 2000 15:35:00 EST
From: Sohrab68@AOL.COM
Subject: Iran Cops To Go on Trial

Iran Cops To Go on Trial

.c The Associated Press

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - Several police officers who allegedly led an illegal
attack on Iranian university students will go on trial next week, a newspaper
reported Thursday.

The raid on a Tehran University dormitory in July sparked the worst unrest in
Iran in decades. The trial, which will include two top former commanders,
will start Wednesday, Arya newspaper said, quoting a university statement.

The public trial is seen as an indication that hard-liners, who have just
suffered a stunning parliamentary defeat at the hand of reformists, are
willing to make concessions. Hard-liners control the judiciary, the police
and the armed forces.

Student demonstrators had demanded a trial for those responsible for the
raid, in which one person was killed and 20 injured. Some 400 students had
lodged complaints with the military court against 20 policemen for illegally
entering the dormitory after students protested the closure of a moderate

Date: Thu, 24 Feb 2000 15:35:53 EST
From: Sohrab68@AOL.COM
Subject: Iran says reformist victory will not shape US ties

Iran says reformist victory will not shape US ties

TEHRAN, Feb 24 (Reuters) - Iran radio warned arch-foe the United States on
Thursday there would be no concessions from Tehran following a big reformist
victory in last week's parliamentary polls.

In a commentary, state radio said the nation was united in its demands for
practical steps by Washington to break the diplomatic freeze between the two
former allies.

``America should not wait for changes in Iran, for there is a consensus among
the entire Iranian nation to safeguard its national interests and it will not
make concessions to its number one enemy,'' the radio said.

The commentary follows similar remarks by victorious leaders of the biggest
pro-reform coalition, which is close to President Mohammad Khatami.

Western governments have welcomed the reformist victory in the February 18
poll, with some analysts suggesting it might provide an opening for renewal
of ties between the United States and Iran, broken after the 1979 takeover of
the U.S. embassy.

The radio said Washington had so far refused to take any firm steps to repair
relations, such as ending its unilateral sanctions, easing its opposition to
World Bank loans and dropping allegations Iran was out to acquire weapons of
mass destruction.

Instead, the United States, the biggest supporter of the deposed monarchy,
should apologise for its past actions against the Iranian people.

``If the American statesmen would truly like the Islamic Republic of Iran to
reconsider its relations with the American administration, they should
respect the interests of this great nation.

``By apologising for their past hostile deeds and policies, they should give
sufficient guarantees that such policies will not be repeated in the
future,'' the radio said.

Cultural and sporting contacts between the two states have increased since
President Khatami took office in August 1997, but there has been nothing
approaching a political breakthrough.

Date: Thu, 24 Feb 2000 16:00:32 EST
Subject: New Revolution' Possible

New Revolution' possible
Iran's reform-minded President Mohammad Khatami now has the chance to make
good on the promises that swept him into office three years ago. In an echo
of that
overwhelming victory, Iranians have elected a parliament in which moderates
will predominate, ending 20 years of control by advocates of strict Islamic
rule. Leaders of the reformist bloc say that when the legislature convenes in
May they will move quickly to guarantee freedom of expression, safeguard the
privacy of citizens and make real the civil rights provided by the
constitution. Iran may be standing on the edge of a second revolution, this
one based on popular mandate and the rule of law. Khatami and the
parliamentary reformers must nonetheless proceed cautiously. Ayatollah Ali
Khamenei, Iran's constitutionally designated supreme leader, retains control
over the military and has the final say in foreign policy and religious
matters. The 12 appointed members of the Council of Guardians can reject any
legislation passed by the parliament. Much of what the reformers hope to do
would impinge on the religious powers of the clerical conservatives, as well
as their economic interests.
The reformers say they have no intention of doing away with Islamic law or
showing disrespect to the clergy. Their aim is to achieve a civil order based
on democratic principles. But the incompatibility of those principles with
theocratic rule is apparent to all.
Authoritarianism, religious or secular, can't exist side by side with a free
press, a pluralistic political system and guaranteed civil liberties. One or
the other must give
The U.S. State Department has welcomed the election results as a sign that
Iran is moving toward greater freedom. But the newly empowered moderates have
been quick to assert that major obstacles stand in the way of improved
relations with Washington, and such dialogue is unlikely to be among their
key priorities, at
least until that aim is approved by Ayatollah Khamenei. But that is no reason
not to be encouraged by the election results.
The people of Iran have made clear they aspire to a life that is freer
socially, intellectually and politically. Change might come more slowly than
many want, but
the mechanism for fostering change is now in place.

From Los Angeles Times

Date: Thu, 24 Feb 2000 20:28:44 EST
From: Sohrab68@AOL.COM
Subject: Some 92,500 Iranian haj pilgrims expected

Some 92,500 Iranian haj pilgrims expected

TEHRAN, Feb 24 (Reuters) - Some 92,500 Iranians are expected to travel to
Saudi Arabia for the haj pilgrimage this year, the official Iranian news
agency IRNA reported on Thursday.

It said 12,500 pilgrims had already arrived in the kingdom for the pilgrimage
which officially starts on March 14.

Iranian pilgrims have said they will stage a rally to denounce the United
States and Israel when the haj reaches its climax on March 15 with a march to
Mount Arafat, site of 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 Israel and the United States as enemies of

Saudi Arabia says the pilgrimage is purely religious and should not be

18:48 02-24-00

Date: Thu, 24 Feb 2000 20:31:08 EST
From: Sohrab68@AOL.COM
Subject: U.S. Senate targets Russia over weapons sales to Iran

U.S. Senate targets Russia over weapons sales to Iran

By Christopher Wilson

WASHINGTON, Feb 24 (Reuters) - The U.S. Senate on Thursday unanimously
approved legislation designed to punish Russia and other countries if they
help Iran develop weapons of mass destruction.

In a move many senators hope will aid reformers who won a big victory over
hardliners in Iran's parliamentary elections last week, the Senate voted 98-0
to hand President Bill Clinton's administration the discretionary authority
to impose sanctions on any country that supplies nuclear, biological or
chemical weapons equipment or technology to Tehran.

The U.S. House of Representatives last year overwhelmingly approved similar
legislation, aimed at prodding the Clinton administration toward a more
aggressive stance on Russian weapons proliferation to Iran.

The Clinton arbitration said it thought the new legislation was unnecessary.

``We believe we have all the tools we need to address the problem of
proliferation to Iran, and we've demonstrated in previous cases that we're
prepared to impose penalties on violators. So we believe additional
legislation is not necessary,'' David Leavy, spokesman for the White House
National Security Council, told Reuters.

Bipartisan support for the legislation grew out of Republican criticism of
the administration's Russia policy and intelligence reports that Russian
firms, scientists and academics are top providers of sophisticated weapons
technology and materiel to Iran.

Yet the bill was passed amid hopeful signs of a possible easing of tensions
between Washington and Tehran after the Iranian reformists' election victory,
which is expected to bring many pro-reform politicians to power.

Senate Republican leader Trent Lott of Mississippi said the bill should
strengthen the reformers while warning Iran's Islamic fundamentalist old
guard that the United States remains concerned about the country's continued
quest for long-range missiles capable of carrying nuclear and chemical

``I think that this is an indication from us that we want Russia to stop
providing this technology and information and it will be helpful to the
(Iranian) reformers in saying, within their own country to those that are
pushing forward with this nuclear capability and other mass destruction
capabilities, that they should stop doing that,'' Lott said.

``It is a clear message to Russia that they must do more to stop providing
technology and information and assistance in a variety of ways on missile
capabilities and weapons of mass destruction to Iran,'' he added.

Congress has become increasingly frustrated with intelligence reports of
technology transfers and weapons supplies to Iran by Russian scientists,
companies and other entities. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) also
warned this year that Iran is closer to amassing a nuclear arsenal than
previously thought.

The new legislation requires Clinton to submit reports to Congress every six
months identifying countries that assist Iran in developing missiles and
weapons systems. These countries would face a range of punitive measures
including sanctions and the suspension of economic or military assistance at
the U.S. president's discretion.

Clinton vetoed a similar bill in 1998 that, unlike the current legislation,
required mandatory sanctions against those aiding missile development in

The White House had also threatened to veto the latest measure, arguing that
it would hurt efforts to convince Russia to join the nonproliferation effort.

The Senate modified the bill to make it more palatable to the White House by
giving the president the discretion to impose sanctions instead of making
them mandatory.

``It started out stronger when we first introduced the initial legislation,
but in the process of trying to get something done, we have modified it,''
said Sen. Joseph Lieberman, a Connecticut Democrat. Nevertheless, he 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.''

The legislation also stipulates that the United States should not make
payments to help the Russians build the International Space Station, unless
Russia clearly shows that it is opposing proliferation to Iran.

``If Russia and the Russian Space Agency cooperates with the U.S. on
proliferation then I believe we can work in partnership with them to increase
commercial space launch and to provide funding for the International Space
Station,'' said Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California.

End of DNI-NEWS Digest - 24 Feb 2000 - Special issue