Subject: DNI-NEWS Digest - 24 Feb 2000 to 25 Feb 2000

There are 7 messages totalling 584 lines in this issue.

Topics of the day:

1. Summary from Abdi:29 April news on Iran--Interesting to see
2. A critical time for diplomacy
3. Iran's former president promises to respect vote
4. No change in Iran's stance to U.S.- Rafsanjani
5. Russia blasts U.S. Senate over Iran arms vote
6. Does the US really want democracy in Iran?
7. Future of Iran ex-president Rafsanjani in balance

Date: Fri, 25 Feb 2000 05:18:29 EST
From: Sohrab68@AOL.COM
Subject: Summary from Abdi:29 April news on Iran--Interesting to see

29 April news on Iran

Summary from Abdi:

A) Development without legal security and freedom is impossible.
B) HojjatulIslam Rafsanjani was shrunk to Mr Rafsanjani while
HojjatulIslam Khamneyi
has swallowed to the status of ayatullah and GrandAyatullah.
C) While Khamneyi continues silencing and threatening authors and
journalists, Rafsanjani
leads them to establish a firm and strong allience.
D) Mohajerani: It is better to carry a reasonable message for our
audience than spreading
nonsense every day and night.
E) Khamneyi to Basijies: I have empetied 1050 places in the prisons, you
may fill the
vacancies ASAP.
F) Rafsanjani to press family: I am going to lose my job and power soon
and I won't be
able to support you. Then try to grow up standing on your own feet. Dady
is going away.

Date: Fri, 25 Feb 2000 07:37:58 EST
From: Iran Man <IRANEHMAN@AOL.COM>
Subject: A critical time for diplomacy

A critical time for diplomacy

Andrea Wright on developments in Iran

The following is a guest column from Andrea Wright. Wright lived in
Iran for eight years and was present at the outset of the Iranian
Revolution. She was staff writer for The Tehran Journal, and public
relations director/publicist for a number of Iranian ministries and
organizations. Currently she is an assistant city editor in the Rio
Grande Valley of Texas.



Scant attention was paid in early April to, first, the arrest, then the
release
from Evin Prison of Tehran Mayor Gholamhossein Karbaschi. Hopefully
the CIA is more attentive. It wasn’t too swift with its predictions when
the last Iranian revolution erupted, and the U.S. lost an important ally,
Iran.

From my bird’s-eye view of that one, experience suggests another may
finally be in the offing, if slightly less tumultuous. Iranians in the
diaspora
-- somewhat akin to Russian aristocracy who fled the Bolshevik
Revolution and dotted the European landscape thereafter -- have been
wistfully predicting total collapse of the fundamentalist regime that
replaced their constitutional monarchy every day since the shah was
toppled. But April’s events may truly be a harbinger of change.

The promise lies in the fact that never before since the rise to power of
the mullahs has here been such an open opposition demonstration that
flies in the face of the religious establishment’s action(s).

Riot police were called to disperse the demonstrators, about 4,000 strong,
who were protesting the reformist mayor’s arrest and jailing April 4 on
what some saw as trumped-up charges of misappropriation of public
funds. This is a rather droll charge in light of the corruption-ridden ranks
of the ruling clergy, whose pockets and Swiss bank accounts have
reportedly been comfortably padded by bribery and graft.

That popular support of reform should reach such a level as to embolden
4,000 Tehranis to take to the streets is evidence of the people’s growing
dissatisfaction with the rigid social restrictions imposed by the religious
rulers governing since the 1979 ouster of the shah.

When, in 1978, the Iranian rebellion that ultimately overthrew a
2,500-year-old monarchy spilled into the streets and even greater numbers
openly chanted “Death to the shah!” we knew that the winds of change
had strengthened to the point of no return. Until that time, no one would
have so much as whispered such blasphemy in a private setting behind
locked doors. That’s how it has been in the succeeding 20 years under
the new regime of mullahs and Islamic Revolutionary Guards.

That the April demonstrations succeeded in the release of Karbaschi
rather than a bloodbath or roundup and mass imprisonment is remarkable.

It’s a critical time for diplomacy. The West, in its eagerness to see an end
to an Islamic form of government, or theocracy, should not rush into the
wrong camp -- again. Considering the extreme volatility of the entire
Middle East and the failed peace talks of Israelis and Palestinians, we
need as many friends as we can muster in the region.

The Iranian people are Muslim and will be, no matter who or what
replaces the current fundamentalist leaders. The majority is still
undereducated, if at all, and is still deeply religious even if ready to
accept
greater personal freedoms and to see improved economic conditions
because of increased trade with the West.

They will not be any more accepting of a swarm of scantily dressed
western women, battalions of brash international businessmen and
jet-setters swizzling scotch ‘n soda in 1998 or 2000 than they were in
1979. Too much, too soon, will be as big a mistake as it was then.

While young Iranians, many mere infants or not even born at the time of
the Islamic rise to power, are eager to experience that which international
trade brings and hunger for greater intellectual freedom, they are still the
children of an ancient culture that need not be trampled underfoot by
western values.

That culture -- of close-knit and extended families, a certain business
decorum, music and poetry more than a thousand years old, unique
national cuisine and much more -- is even more deeply rooted in Iran and
the Iranian psyche than is Islam.

Entrepreneurs, adventurers and long-exiled Iranians anxious to return
home should learn form history, lest history repeat itself. A country can
be modernized without being Westernized.

Ghandi’s’ approach to a non-violent revolution is more apt to overcome
the darkness surrounding Iran than bombs or a blitz of western culture; a
program not of seizure of power but “a program of transformation of
relationships.”

Date: Fri, 25 Feb 2000 07:47:10 EST
From: Sohrab68@AOL.COM
Subject: Iran's former president promises to respect vote

Iran's former president promises to respect vote


By Jonathan Lyons


TEHRAN, Feb 25 (Reuters) - Former Iranian president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani,
his political fate in the balance amid a dispute over election returns,
pledged on Friday to respect the result of the vote.

Rafsanjani, standard-bearer for the establishment in polls largely swept by
reformers close to President Mohammad Khatami, was clinging to one of the
last of Tehran's 30 seats yet to declare, according to one unofficial count.

But the interior ministry has refused to certify the tally, citing reports of
vote-rigging in south Tehran, a traditionalist stronghold and likely
Rafsanjani power base.

Rafsanjani told worshipers at Tehran's Friday prayers that the big turnout
proved the enduring strength of the Islamic revolution, and he warned the
United States not to expect concessions from Iran in the wake of the
reformist win.

``With regard to myself, I must thank those who trusted me and voted for me,
and I respect those who did not want to vote for me and decided to vote for
others. Their ideas and their votes must be respected.

``Those who came to this field but did not win votes must not be worried,
because serving the nation is not limited to being in parliament and there
are many (other) arenas,'' said Rafsanjani, a pragmatic cleric and once
Iran's most powerful politician.

RESULTS DELAYED AMID ROW

Elections officials on Thursday delayed the planned release of final poll
results for Tehran, citing allegations of vote-rigging in the tight race.

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

With almost all votes counted, reformists backing 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 Rafsanjani, the only obstacle to a reformist sweep of the
capital, was unresolved, and it appeared he may have trouble reaching the
25-percent threshold needed to enter parliament in the first round.

Complicating the count was 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 and a compromise was expected.

The row has also threatened to split the reformist coalition, with yougner
activists keen to see Rafsanjani excluded from parliament and political
veterans aware of the dangers of antagonising the powerful establishment he
represents.

Rafsanjani also warned Washington not to see the pro-reform victory as a
repudiation of Tehran's hardline on any resumption of ties with its former
ally.

``Iran's foreign policy and issues pertaining to Islam are stable and
immutable,'' he said.

Washington broke off ties with Tehran in the wake of the 1979 seizure of the
U.S. embassy by militant students. A recent thaw launched by Khatami has so
far failed to lead to anything like a political breakthrough.

Date: Fri, 25 Feb 2000 07:48:00 EST
From: Sohrab68@AOL.COM
Subject: No change in Iran's stance to U.S.- Rafsanjani

No change in Iran's stance to U.S.- Rafsanjani


TEHRAN, Feb 25 (Reuters) - Former Iranian president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani
on Friday blasted renewed pressure from the United States and warned that the
reformist election victory would not lead to concessions from Tehran.

Rafsanjani used the main Friday prayers sermon to repeat Iran's insistence
that the reformist triumph in last week's parliamentary vote would in no way
open the door to renewed ties to its arch-foe.

He also accused Washington of an inconsistent approach to Iran, on the one
hand praising the polls and on the other passing a new Senate resolution to
punish third countries that helped arm the Islamic republic.

``You do not understand our people and the love they have for the (Islamic)
revolution,'' said Rafsanjani, whose own future as an MP hangs in the balance
amid disputed elections returns.

``The things that take place in Iran are a dispute inside the family, and
whatever happens inside the family is not a big issue. Sometimes one member
wins, sometimes another, but they are both part of the same family.''

``We have said from the beginning our policy is one of detente and reducing
tensions. We will not bow down before the Americans. They have wronged us in
the past and they should rectify their past mistakes,'' Rafsanjani said.

The U.S. Senate on Thursday unanimously approved legislation designed to
punish Russia and other countries if they helped Iran develop weapons of mass
destruction -- something Tehran says it is not seeking.

By a vote of 98-0, the Senate gave the White House discretionary authority to
impose sanctions on any country that supplies nuclear, biological or chemical
weapons equipment or technology to Tehran.

Western governments have cheered the large turnout in the February 18 general
elections, in which the pro-reform coalition backing President Mohammad
Khatami took most of the seats.

Some Western analysts have suggested the victory could pave the way for an
eventual restoration of U.S.-Iranian ties, ruptured in the aftermath of the
1979 takeover of the American embassy by militant students.

Earlier this week, members of the coalition -- which includes a number of the
original student leaders who seized the embassy -- called on Washington to
take the first concrete steps toward normalisation.

They demanded for an end to unilateral sanctions against Iran and repudiation
of allegations the Islamic republic is seeking weapons of mass destruction.

Rafsanjani echoed that line, telling Washington the elections had changed
nothing: ``Iran's foreign policy and issues pertaining to Islam are stable
and immutable.''

Date: Fri, 25 Feb 2000 07:50:40 EST
From: Sohrab68@AOL.COM
Subject: Russia blasts U.S. Senate over Iran arms vote

Russia blasts U.S. Senate over Iran arms vote


MOSCOW, Feb 25 (Reuters) - Russia denounced on Friday as hypocritical and
counterproductive the U.S. Senate's approval of legislation to punish
countries cooperating with Iran on nuclear technology issues.

``Unfortunately, we have to state that American lawmakers are again
artificially stirring up tensions, trying to extend domestic legislation
beyond U.S. borders and using invented pretexts to pressure other
countries,'' the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

It said the move underscored double standards, given the Senate's refusal
last year to approve the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.

``It is clear to everyone that...the U.S. Congress is openly hypocritical on
how it 'cares' about nuclear non-proliferation -- the same Senate recently
'failed' the ratification of one of the most important international
agreements in the field, the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty,'' it
said.

Russia's State Duma lower house of parliament is due to start hearings on
ratifying the agreement in March.

The Senate on Thursday unanimously approved legislation allowing Washington
to impose sanctions on any country that supplies nuclear, biological or
chemical weapons equipment or technology to Iran, which it sees as a
``rogue'' state.

Russia is building a nuclear power station in Iran, a site which the United
States fears may help Tehran acquire nuclear weapons. Moscow has dismissed
such suggestions, saying the project does not violate any international
norms.

An Atomic Energy Ministry spokesman told Itar-news agency that work on the
$800 million Bushehr power plant would continue as scheduled despite possible
U.S. sanctions.

The Foreign Ministry warned that any attempt to apply the new legislation
would worsen international relations and undermine the legal basis of
cooperation in nuclear non-proliferation and export control.

``The United States would have to bear full responsibility for such a
development,'' it said.

Former Iranian Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani on Friday blasted the renewed
pressure from the United States.

Date: Fri, 25 Feb 2000 17:47:37 GMT
From: Arash Alavi <arash@MY-DEJA.COM>
Subject: Does the US really want democracy in Iran?

Excerpts:

But there is one dark suspicion that haunts both Arabs and
Iranians, and it is founded on the conviction that the
United States and Israel - despite all their
publicly-expressed enthusiasm for democracy - will find
that a truly democratic Iran has no place in the Middle
East. In Tehran, they have been recalling once again the
era of Mohamed Mossadeq, freely elected but swiftly
overthrown in 1953 by a coup d'etat funded by the CIA and
British intelligence.

[...] If America really supports democracy in Iran, why not
in Saudi Arabia? Does it really want free speech in Tehran
and a parliament which will be free to reject the policies
which America wishes it to adopt? What if Mr Khatami
persists in giving his support to the guerrillas who are
trying to drive Israeli occupiers from their land? Will
this be the sort of democracy that will be left to thrive
in the new Iranian dawn?

This thoughtful, intelligent president, whom so many
Iranians admire, has spoken of peace many times. And of
dialogue. And of respect.

But he had better keep his security men on their toes.


Full text follows:


The Independent
22 February 2000


Robert Fisk: Iran's new dawn might mark the end of US
influence in the Gulf


Comment: 'Does the US really want free speech in Tehran and
a parliament free to reject policies America wants?'


The overwhelming victory of President Mohamed Khatami's
supporters in the new Iranian parliament is already being
portrayed by the United States as a "hopeful sign for the
West". Washington claims it is on the side of Mr Khatami's
democratic "reformists". But the new Iran emerging from
last week's poll is likely to diminish rather than increase
American influence in the region as its traditional allies
in the Middle East lose their fear of Tehran's Islamic
regime.

With Iraq still under almost daily bombardment by American
and British aircraft and Saddam Hussein supposedly
"neutralised", Western diplomats and arms salesmen have
regularly used the Iranian "threat" to justify the
continuing presence of United States troops in Saudi
Arabia, Kuwait and other Gulf emirates - as well as the
purchase by Gulf states of billions of dollars' worth of
weapons. But if Iranian democracy now becomes a reality,
these arguments are going to collapse.

Although the Iranian parliamentary election was primarily
domestic in content - about free speech, the lifting of
personal restrictions and freedom of information -
President Khatami has consistently argued that peace in the
Gulf must be decided by the Arabs and Iranians who live
there, not by the United States. In an interview he gave
shortly before his own landslide presidential election,
Mohamed Khatami said that the peoples of the Gulf must
"join hands" to ensure peace and security in the area. "I
believe," he insisted, "that strangers, with their military
forces, must leave the region."

The Arabs have been quick to understand the seismic shift
which the victory of the Khatamists in Iran represents.
Only last weekend, King Fahd of Saudi Arabia formally
invited Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Seyed Ali
Khamenei, to pay a state visit to Riyadh. And with almost
all European nations now maintaining good relations with
Tehran - Britain reopened its embassy there last May -
Iran's isolation in the region is fast turning into
America's isolation.

Royal Dutch Shell and the French oil group Total have each
concluded $800m contracts with Iran since 1995, but the
United States - under the d'Amato legislation - allows
American oil companies to invest only a maximum of $20m in
Iran. Tehran's major hotels are now packed with European
and Asian businessmen, but there are precious few American
accents to be heard in the corridors of the Iranian oil
ministry.

True, Syria - traditionally Iran's only ally in the Arab
world - is intensely concerned at the implications of the
elections. President Assad was one of the first foreign
visitors to arrive in Tehran after Mr Khatami's
presidential victory, and Damascus may well send a senior
delegation again in the next few weeks.

Iran funds much of the Hizbollah guerrilla movement which
is fighting Israeli occupation troops in the south of
Lebanon, and Hizbollah officials are themselves asking what
the future holds for their movement if the new Tehran
parliament allows President Khatami a free hand in foreign
affairs. Syria has hitherto represented itself as the
West's channel of communication to Iran - this was the
basis of Syria's involvement in the release of western
hostages - but what will be its role now that Iran is
itself being invited to talk directly to its old enemies?

A group of Hizbollah members were discussing this very
issue at Tehran airport last week as they waited for the
arrival of colleagues from Lebanon. If America holds out
the prospect of a new relationship with Iran, offering to
unfreeze Iranian assets in return for an end to the Islamic
Republic's support for the Hizbollah, they were asking
themselves, would the guerrilla battle in southern Lebanon
come to an end?

This is certainly what the Israelis are hoping, although
Syria will be in no mood to oblige. Without Israel's
continued bleeding in Lebanon, Damascus feels that Israel
will be under no pressure to withdraw from the occupied
Syrian Golan Heights. Hizbollah's existence thus underpins
Syria's demand for an Israeli retreat - but the victory of
Iran's reformists could yet undermine the Hizbollah.
However, President Khatami has always expressed his support
for the guerrillas' struggle in southern Lebanon, and
recently held warm talks with Seyed Hassan Nasrallah, the
Hizbollah chairman, promising Iran's continued assistance
to the organisation.

With the danger of a radical Iran removed from their
frontiers, the Gulf Arabs are also likely to ask why they
should repay Washington for its military "protection" by
supporting a "peace" process that gives ever greater
rewards to the Israelis at the expense of the Arabs.

But there is one dark suspicion that haunts both Arabs and
Iranians, and it is founded on the conviction that the
United States and Israel - despite all their
publicly-expressed enthusiasm for democracy - will find
that a truly democratic Iran has no place in the Middle
East. In Tehran, they have been recalling once again the
era of Mohamed Mossadeq, freely elected but swiftly
overthrown in 1953 by a coup d'etat funded by the CIA and
British intelligence.

Just a few weeks ago, President Clinton was demanding
democracy in Iraq so that its people would be
"democratically represented" - a phenomenon that does not
exist in any other Arab state, saving perhaps Lebanon. If
America really supports democracy in Iran, why not in Saudi
Arabia? Does it really want free speech in Tehran and a
parliament which will be free to reject the policies which
America wishes it to adopt? What if Mr Khatami persists in
giving his support to the guerrillas who are trying to
drive Israeli occupiers from their land? Will this be the
sort of democracy that will be left to thrive in the new
Iranian dawn?

This thoughtful, intelligent president, whom so many
Iranians admire, has spoken of peace many times. And of
dialogue. And of respect.

But he had better keep his security men on their toes.

---
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/World/Middle_East/2000-02/fisk220200.s
html

Date: Fri, 25 Feb 2000 12:59:25 EST
From: Iran Man <IRANEHMAN@AOL.COM>
Subject: Future of Iran ex-president Rafsanjani in balance

Future of Iran ex-president Rafsanjani in balance
By Jonathan Lyons


TEHRAN, Feb 25 (Reuters) - The political fortunes of former Iranian president
Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani hung in the balance on Friday, as officials tried to
resolve alleged irregularities in the tight election race for Tehran's 30
parliament seats.

Officials said rival conservative and reformist election boards were meeting
to resolve discrepancies in a partial recount for Tehran, forcing yet another
delay in announcing official results.

Reformers allied with President Mohammad Khatami have clinched at least 27
seats from the capital, on top of their strong showing in the provinces, in
what is seen as a ringing endorsement of the president's liberal reforms.

Rafsanjani, standard-bearer for the conservative establishment, was
struggling to hold onto a Tehran seat and avoid a risky run-off contest in
April.

``We are hoping they will finish comparing the results,'' Javad Qadimi-Zaker,
head of elections for the reformist interior ministry, told state television.

``We are hopeful we can keep our promise and announce it tonight.''

Final results had been promised by noon on Thursday, but the deadline slipped
amid word interior officials had ordered a recount from parts of southern
Tehran, a presumed Rafsanjani powerbase. Results were then promised on
Friday.

An unofficial ministry count earlier showed Rafsanjani falling short of the
25-percent threshold needed to claim a seat in the first round, ministry
sources said.

However, conservative newspapers published a rival count, approved by
representatives of the hardline Guardian Council, that showed Rafsanjani with
just enough votes to take a place in the new parliament.

Failure to resolve the dispute could force a new election, although analysts
said that was unlikely and a compromise was expected.

Earlier on Friday, Rafsanjani, a pragmatic cleric and veteran revolutionary,
pledged to respect the choice of the voters no matter what the outcome.

Rafsanjani told worshippers at Tehran's Friday prayers that the big turnout
proved the enduring strength of the Islamic revolution, and he warned the
United States not to expect concessions from Iran in the wake of the
reformist win.

``Iran's foreign policy and issues pertaining to Islam are stable and
immutable,'' he said.

Washington broke off ties with Tehran in the wake of the 1979 seizure of the
U.S. embassy by militant students. A recent thaw launched by Khatami has so
far failed to lead to anything like a political breakthrough.

End of DNI-NEWS Digest - 24 Feb 2000 to 25 Feb 2000