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Subject: DNI-NEWS Digest - 16 Apr 2000 to 17 Apr 2000 - Special issue
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Subject: DNI-NEWS Digest - 16 Apr 2000 to 17 Apr 2000 - Special issue
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There are 7 messages totalling 1599 lines in this issue.
Topics in this special issue:
1. NY TIMES: Secrets of History: The CIA in Iran
2. AP-Iranian Guards Threaten Reformers
3. Reuters- N.Y. Times Details CIA's Role in 1953 Iranian Coup
4. AFP-Guardian Council overturns election of eighth reformist to Parliament
5. AFP-Two days of violent Iran unrest after Islamic militia stops woman
6. National Post-Undercover in Iran
7. JEWS' SPY TRIAL STARTS WITH 'CONFESSIONS.'
Date: Mon, 17 Apr 2000 11:30:18 -0400
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@PANJERE.NET>
Subject: NY TIMES: Secrets of History: The CIA in Iran
How a Plot Convulsed Iran in '53 (and in '79)
By JAMES RISEN
or nearly five decades, America's role in the military coup that ousted
Iran's elected prime minister and returned the shah to power has been
lost to history, the subject of fierce debate in Iran and stony silence
in the United States. One by one, participants have retired or died
without revealing key details, and the Central Intelligence Agency said
a number of records of the operation — its first successful overthrow of
a foreign government — had been destroyed.
But a copy of the agency's secret history of the coup has surfaced,
revealing the inner workings of a plot that set the stage for the
Islamic revolution in 1979, and for a generation of anti-American hatred
in one of the Middle East's most powerful countries.
The document, which remains classified, discloses the pivotal role
British intelligence officials played in initiating and planning the
coup, and it shows that Washington and London shared an interest in
maintaining the West's control over Iranian oil.
The secret history, written by the C.I.A.'s chief coup planner and
obtained by The New York Times, says the operation's success was mostly
a matter of chance. The document shows that the agency had almost
complete contempt for the man it was empowering, Shah Mohammed Reza
Pahlevi, whom it derided as a vacillating coward. And it recounts, for
the first time, the agency's tortured efforts to seduce and cajole the
shah into taking part in his own coup.
The operation, code-named TP-Ajax, was the blueprint for a succession of
C.I.A. plots to foment coups and destabilize governments during the cold
war — including the agency's successful coup in Guatemala in 1954 and
the disastrous Cuban intervention known as the Bay of Pigs in 1961. In
more than one instance, such operations led to the same kind of
long-term animosity toward the United States that occurred in Iran.
The history says agency officers orchestrating the Iran coup worked
directly with royalist Iranian military officers, handpicked the prime
minister's replacement, sent a stream of envoys to bolster the shah's
courage, directed a campaign of bombings by Iranians posing as members
of the Communist Party, and planted articles and editorial cartoons in
But on the night set for Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh's overthrow,
almost nothing went according to the meticulously drawn plans, the
secret history says. In fact, C.I.A. officials were poised to flee the
country when several Iranian officers recruited by the agency, acting on
their own, took command of a pro-shah demonstration in Tehran and seized
Two days after the coup, the history discloses, agency officials
funneled $5 million to Iran to help the government they had installed
The outlines of the American role in the coup were disclosed in Iran at
the outset and later in the memoirs of C.I.A. officers and other
published accounts. But many specifics have remained classified, and the
secret history obtained by The New York Times is the first detailed
government account of the coup to be made public.
The C.I.A. has been slow to make available the Iran files. Two directors
of central intelligence, Robert Gates and R. James Woolsey, vowed to
declassify records of the agency's early covert actions, including the
coup. But the agency said three years ago that a number of relevant
documents had been destroyed in the early 1960's.
A C.I.A. spokesman said Friday that the agency had retained about 1,000
pages of documents related to the coup, besides the history and an
internal account written later. He said the papers destroyed in the
early 1960's were duplicates and working files.
The chief State Department historian said that his office received a
copy of the history seven years ago but that no decision on
declassifying it had yet been made.
The secret history, along with operational assessments written by coup
planners, was provided to The Times by a former official who kept a
It was written in March 1954 by Dr. Donald N. Wilber, an expert in
Persian architecture, who as one of the leading planners believed that
covert operatives had much to learn from history.
In less expansive memoirs published in 1986, Dr. Wilber asserted that
the Iran coup was different from later C.I.A. efforts. Its American
planners, he said, had stirred up considerable unrest in Iran, giving
Iranians a clear choice between instability and supporting the shah. The
move to oust the prime minister, he wrote, thus gained substantial
Dr. Wilber's memoirs were heavily censored by the agency, but he was
allowed to refer to the existence of his secret history. "If this
history had been read by the planners of the Bay of Pigs," he wrote,
"there would have been no such operation."
"From time to time," he continued, "I gave talks on the operation to
various groups within the agency, and, in hindsight, one might wonder
why no one from the Cuban desk ever came or read the history."
The coup was a turning point in modern Iranian history and remains a
persistent irritant in Tehran-Washington relations. It consolidated the
power of the shah, who ruled with an iron hand for 26 more years in
close contact with to the United States. He was toppled by militants in
1979. Later that year, marchers went to the American Embassy, took
diplomats hostage and declared that they had unmasked a "nest of spies"
who had been manipulating Iran for decades.
The Islamic government of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini supported
terrorist attacks against American interests largely because of the long
American history of supporting the shah. Even under more moderate
rulers, many Iranians still resent the United States' role in the coup
and its support of the shah.
Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright, in an address in March,
acknowledged the coup's pivotal role in the troubled relationship and
came closer to apologizing than any American official ever has before.
"The Eisenhower administration believed its actions were justified for
strategic reasons," she said. "But the coup was clearly a setback for
Iran's political development. And it is easy to see now why many
Iranians continue to resent this intervention by America in their
The history spells out the calculations to which Dr. Albright referred
in her speech.
Britain, it says, initiated the plot in 1952. The Truman administration
rejected it, but President Eisenhower approved it shortly after taking
office in 1953, because of fears about oil and Communism.
The document pulls few punches, acknowledging at one point that the
agency baldly lied to its British allies. Dr. Wilber reserves his most
withering asides for the agency's local allies, referring to "the
recognized incapacity of Iranians to plan or act in a thoroughly logical
Britain Fights Oil Nationalism
he coup had its roots in a British showdown with Iran, restive under
decades of near-colonial British domination.
The prize was Iran's oil fields. Britain occupied Iran in World War II
to protect a supply route to its ally, the Soviet Union, and to prevent
the oil from falling into the hands of the Nazis — ousting the shah's
father, whom it regarded as unmanageable. It retained control over
Iran's oil after the war through the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company.
In 1951, Iran's Parliament voted to nationalize the oil industry, and
legislators backing the law elected its leading advocate, Dr. Mossadegh,
as prime minister.
Britain responded with threats and sanctions.
Dr. Mossadegh, a European-educated lawyer then in his early 70's, prone
to tears and outbursts, refused to back down. In meetings in November
and December 1952, the secret history says, British intelligence
officials startled their American counterparts with a plan for a joint
operation to oust the nettlesome prime minister.
The Americans, who "had not intended to discuss this question at all,"
agreed to study it, the secret history says. It had attractions.
Anti-Communism had risen to a fever pitch in Washington, and officials
were worried that Iran might fall under the sway of the Soviet Union, a
historical presence there.
In March 1953, an unexpected development pushed the plot forward: the
C.I.A.'s Tehran station reported that an Iranian general had approached
the American Embassy about supporting an army-led coup.
The newly inaugurated Eisenhower administration was intrigued. The
coalition that elected Dr. Mossadegh was splintering, and the Iranian
Communist Party, the Tudeh, had become active.
Allen W. Dulles, the director of central intelligence, approved $1
million on April 4 to be used "in any way that would bring about the
fall of Mossadegh," the history says.
"The aim was to bring to power a government which would reach an
equitable oil settlement, enabling Iran to become economically sound and
financially solvent, and which would vigorously prosecute the
dangerously strong Communist Party."
Within days agency officials identified a high-ranking officer, Gen.
Fazlollah Zahedi, as the man to spearhead a coup. Their plan called for
the shah to play a leading role.
"A shah-General Zahedi combination, supported by C.I.A. local assets and
financial backing, would have a good chance of overthrowing Mossadegh,"
officials wrote, "particularly if this combination should be able to get
the largest mobs in the streets and if a sizable portion of the Tehran
garrison refused to carry out Mossadegh's orders."
But according to the history, planners had doubts about whether the shah
could carry out such a bold operation.
His family had seized Iran's throne just 32 years earlier, when his
powerful father led a coup of his own. But the young shah, agency
officials wrote, was "by nature a creature of indecision, beset by
formless doubts and fears," often at odds with his family, including
Princess Ashraf, his "forceful and scheming twin sister."
Also, the shah had what the C.I.A. termed a "pathological fear" of
British intrigues, a potential obstacle to a joint operation.
In May 1953 the agency sent Dr. Wilber to Cyprus to meet Norman
Darbyshire, chief of the Iran branch of British intelligence, to make
initial coup plans. Assuaging the fears of the shah was high on their
agenda; a document from the meeting said he was to be persuaded that the
United States and Britain "consider the oil question secondary."
The conversation at the meeting turned to a touchy subject, the identity
of key agents inside Iran. The British said they had recruited two
brothers named Rashidian. The Americans, the secret history discloses,
did not trust the British and lied about the identity of their best
"assets" inside Iran.
C.I.A. officials were divided over whether the plan drawn up in Cyprus
could work. The Tehran station warned headquarters that the "the shah
would not act decisively against Mossadegh." And it said General Zahedi,
the man picked to lead the coup, "appeared lacking in drive, energy and
Despite the doubts, the agency's Tehran station began disseminating
"gray propaganda," passing out anti-Mossadegh cartoons in the streets
and planting unflattering articles in the local press.
Trying to Persuade a Reluctant Shah
he plot was under way, even though the shah was a reluctant warrior and
Mr. Eisenhower had yet to give his final approval.
In early June, American and British intelligence officials met again,
this time in Beirut, and put the finishing touches on the strategy. Soon
afterward, the chief of the C.I.A.'s Near East and Africa division,
Kermit Roosevelt, a grandson of Theodore Roosevelt, arrived in Tehran to
The shah was a problem from the start. The plan called for him to stand
fast as the C.I.A. stirred up popular unrest and then, as the country
lurched toward chaos, to issue royal decrees dismissing Dr. Mossadegh
and appointing General Zahedi prime minister.
The agency sought to "produce such pressure on the shah that it would be
easier for him to sign the papers required of him than it would be to
refuse," the secret history states. Officials turned to his sister for
On July 11, President Eisenhower finally signed off on the plan. At
about the same time, C.I.A. and British intelligence officers visited
Princess Ashraf on the French Riviera and persuaded her to return to
Iran and tell her brother to follow the script.
The return of the unpopular princess unleashed a storm of protest from
pro-Mossadegh forces. The shah was furious that she had come back
without his approval and refused at first to see her. But a palace staff
member — another British agent, according to the secret history — gained
Ashraf access on July 29.
The history does not reveal what the siblings said to each other. But
the princess gave her brother the news that C.I.A. officials had
enlisted Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf in the coup campaign. General
Schwarzkopf, the father of the Persian Gulf war commander, had
befriended the shah a decade earlier while leading the United States
military mission to Iran, and he told the agency "he was sure he could
get the required cooperation."
The British, too, sought to sway the shah and assure him their agents
spoke for London. A British agent, Asadollah Rashidian, approached him
in late July and invited him to select a phrase that would then be
broadcast at prearranged times on the BBC's Persian-language program —
as proof that Mr. Rashidian spoke for the British.
The exercise did not seem to have much effect. The shah told Mr.
Rashidian on July 30 and 31 that he had heard the broadcast, but
"requested time to assess the situation."
In early August, the C.I.A. stepped up the pressure. Iranian operatives
pretending to be Communists threatened Muslim leaders with "savage
punishment if they opposed Mossadegh," seeking to stir anti-Communist
sentiment in the religious community.
In addition, the secret history says, the house of at least one
prominent Muslim was bombed by C.I.A. agents posing as Communists. It
does not say whether anyone was hurt in this attack.
The agency was also intensifying its propaganda campaign. A leading
newspaper owner was granted a personal loan of about $45,000, "in the
belief that this would make his organ amenable to our purposes."
But the shah remained intransigent. In an Aug. 1 meeting with General
Schwarzkopf, he refused to sign the C.I.A.-written decrees firing Mr.
Mossadegh and appointing General Zahedi. He said he doubted that the
army would support him in a showdown.
During the meeting, the document says, the shah was so convinced that
the palace was bugged that he "led the general into the grand ballroom,
pulled a small table to its exact center" and got onto it to talk,
insisting that the general do the same.
"This meeting was to be followed by a series of additional ones, some
between Roosevelt and the shah and some between Rashidian and the shah,
in which relentless pressure was exerted in frustrating attempts to
overcome an entrenched attitude of vacillation and indecision," the
Dr. Mossadegh had by now figured out that there was a plot against him.
He moved to consolidate power by calling for a national referendum to
The results of the Aug. 4 referendum were clearly rigged in his favor;
The New York Times reported the same day that the prime minister had won
99.9 percent of the vote. This only helped the plotters, providing "an
issue on which Mossadegh could be relentlessly attacked" by the
agency-backed opposition press.
But the shah still wouldn't move against Dr. Mossadegh.
"On Aug. 3rd," the secret history says, "Roosevelt had a long and
inconclusive session with the shah," who "stated that he was not an
adventurer, and hence, could not take the chances of one.
"Roosevelt pointed out that there was no other way by which the
government could be changed and the test was now between Mossadegh and
his force and the shah and the army, which was still with him, but which
would soon slip away."
Mr. Roosevelt told the shah "that failure to act could lead only to a
Communist Iran or to a second Korea."
Still haunted by doubts, the shah asked Mr. Roosevelt if President
Eisenhower could tell him what to do.
"By complete coincidence and great good fortune," the secret history
says, "the president, while addressing the governors' convention in
Seattle on 4 August, deviated from his script to state by implication
that the United States would not sit by idly and see Iran fall behind
the Iron Curtain."
By Aug. 10, the shah had finally agreed to see General Zahedi and a few
army officers involved in the plot, but still refused to sign the
decrees. The C.I.A. then sent Mr. Rashidian to say Mr. Roosevelt "would
leave in complete disgust unless the shah took action within a few
The shah finally signed the decrees on Aug. 13. Word that he would
support an army-led coup spread rapidly among the army officers backing
First Few Days Look Disastrous
he coup began on the night of Aug. 15 and was immediately compromised by
a talkative Iranian Army officer whose remarks were relayed to Mr.
The operation, the secret history says, "still might have succeeded in
spite of this advance warning had not most of the participants proved to
be inept or lacking in decision at the critical juncture."
Dr. Mossadegh's chief of staff, Gen. Taghi Riahi, learned of the plot
hours before it was to begin and sent his deputy to the barracks of the
The deputy was arrested there, according to the history, just as
pro-shah soldiers were fanning out across the city arresting other
senior officials. Telephone lines between army and government offices
were cut, and the telephone exchange was occupied.
But phones inexplicably continued to function, which gave Dr.
Mossadegh's forces a key advantage. General Riahi also eluded the
pro-shah units, rallying commanders to the prime minister's side.
Pro-shah soldiers sent to arrest Dr. Mossadegh at his home were instead
captured. The top military officer working with General Zahedi fled when
he saw tanks and loyal government soldiers at army headquarters.
The next morning, the history states, the Tehran radio announced that a
coup against the government had failed, and Dr. Mossadegh scrambled to
strengthen his hold on the army and key installations. C.I.A. officers
inside the embassy were flying blind; the history says they had "no way
of knowing what was happening."
Mr. Roosevelt left the embassy and tracked down General Zahedi, who was
in hiding north of Tehran. Surprisingly, the general was not ready to
abandon the operation. The coup, the two men agreed, could still work,
provided they could persuade the public that General Zahedi was the
lawful prime minister.
To accomplish this, the history discloses, the coup plotters had to get
out the news that the shah had signed the two decrees.
The C.I.A. station in Tehran sent a message to The Associated Press in
New York, asserting that "unofficial reports are current to the effect
that leaders of the plot are armed with two decrees of the shah, one
dismissing Mossadegh and the other appointing General Zahedi to replace
The C.I.A. and its agents also arranged for the decrees to be mentioned
in some Tehran papers, the history says.
The propaganda initiative quickly bogged down. Many of the C.I.A.'s
Iranian agents were under arrest or on the run. That afternoon, agency
operatives prepared a statement from General Zahedi that they hoped to
distribute publicly. But they could not find a printing press that was
not being watched by forces loyal to the prime minister.
On Aug. 16, prospects of reviving the operation were dealt a seemingly a
fatal blow when it was learned that the shah had bolted to Baghdad.
C.I.A. headquarters cabled Tehran urging Mr. Roosevelt, the station
chief, to leave immediately.
He did not agree, insisting that there was still "a slight remaining
chance of success," if the shah would broadcast an address on the
Baghdad radio and General Zahedi took an aggressive stand.
The first sign that the tide might turn came with reports that Iranian
soldiers had broken up Tudeh, or Communist, groups, beating them and
making them chant their support for the shah. "The station continued to
feel that the project was not quite dead," the secret history recounts.
Meanwhile, Dr. Mossadegh had overreached, playing into the C.I.A.'s
hands by dissolving Parliament after the coup.
On the morning of Aug. 17 the shah finally announced from Baghdad that
he had signed the decrees — though he had by now delayed so long that
plotters feared it was too late.
At this critical point Dr. Mossadegh let down his guard. Lulled by the
shah's departure and the arrests of some officers involved in the coup,
the government recalled most troops it had stationed around the city,
believing that the danger had passed.
That night the C.I.A. arranged for General Zahedi and other key Iranian
agents and army officers to be smuggled into the embassy compound "in
the bottom of cars and in closed jeeps" for a "council of war."
They agreed to start a counterattack on Aug. 19, sending a leading
cleric from Tehran to the holy city of Qum to try to orchestrate a call
for a holy war against Communism. (The religious forces they were trying
to manipulate would years later call the United States "the Great
Using travel papers forged by the C.I.A., key army officers went to
outlying army garrisons to persuade commanders to join the coup.
Once again, the shah disappointed the C.I.A. He left Baghdad for Rome
the next day, apparently an exile. Newspapers supporting Dr. Mossadegh
reported that the Pahlevi dynasty had come to an end, and a statement
from the Communist Party's central committee attributed the coup attempt
to "Anglo-American intrigue." Demonstrators ripped down imperial statues
-- as they would again 26 years later during the Islamic revolution.
The C.I.A. station cabled headquarters for advice on whether to
"continue with TP-Ajax or withdraw."
"Headquarters spent a day featured by depression and despair," the
history states, adding, "The message sent to Tehran on the night of Aug.
18 said that 'the operation has been tried and failed,' and that 'in the
absence of strong recommendations to the contrary operations against
Mossadegh should be discontinued.'"
C.I.A. and Moscow Are Both Surprised
But just as the Americans were ready to quit, the mood on the streets of
On the morning of Aug. 19, several Tehran papers published the shah's
long-awaited decrees, and soon pro-shah crowds were building in the
"They needed only leadership," the secret history says. And Iranian
agents of the C.I.A. provided it. Without specific orders, a journalist
who was one of the agency's most important Iranian agents led a crowd
toward Parliament, inciting people to set fire to the offices of a
newspaper owned by Dr. Mossadegh's foreign minister. Another Iranian
C.I.A. agent led a crowd to sack the offices of pro-Tudeh papers.
"The news that something quite startling was happening spread at great
speed throughout the city," the history states.
The C.I.A. tried to exploit the situation, sending urgent messages that
the Rashidian brothers and two key American agents should "swing the
security forces to the side of the demonstrators."
But things were now moving far too quickly for the agency to manage. An
Iranian Army colonel who had been involved in the plot several days
earlier suddenly appeared outside Parliament with a tank, while members
of the now-disbanded Imperial Guard seized trucks and drove through the
streets. "By 10:15 there were pro-shah truckloads of military personnel
at all the main squares," the secret history says.
By noon the crowds began to receive direct leadership from a few
officers involved in the plot and some who had switched sides. Within an
hour the central telegraph office fell, and telegrams were sent to the
provinces urging a pro-shah uprising. After a brief shootout, police
headquarters and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs fell as well.
The Tehran radio remained the biggest prize. With the government's fate
uncertain, it was broadcasting a program on cotton prices. But by early
afternoon a mass of civilians, army officers and policemen overwhelmed
it. Pro-shah speakers went on the air, broadcasting the coup's success
and reading the royal decrees.
At the embassy, C.I.A. officers were elated, and Mr. Roosevelt got
General Zahedi out of hiding. An army officer found a tank and drove him
to the radio station, where he spoke to the nation.
Dr. Mossadegh and other government officials were rounded up, while
officers supporting General Zahedi placed "known supporters of TP-Ajax"
in command of all units of the Tehran garrison.
The Soviet Union was caught completely off-guard. Even as the Mossadegh
government was falling, the Moscow radio was broadcasting a story on
"the failure of the American adventure in Iran."
But C.I.A. headquarters was as surprised as Moscow. When news of the
coup's success arrived, it "seemed to be a bad joke, in view of the
depression that still hung on from the day before," the history says.
Throughout the day, Washington got most of its information from news
agencies, receiving only two cablegrams from the station. Mr. Roosevelt
later explained that if he had told headquarters what was going on,
"London and Washington would have thought they were crazy and told them
to stop immediately," the history states.
Still, the C.I.A. took full credit inside the government. The following
year it overthrew the government of Guatemala, and a myth developed that
the agency could topple governments anywhere in the world.
Iran proved that third world king-making could be heady.
"It was a day that should never have ended," the C.I.A.'s secret history
said, describing Aug. 19, 1953. "For it carried with it such a sense of
excitement, of satisfaction and of jubilation that it is doubtful
whether any other can come up to it."
Eccentric Nationalist Begets Strange History
By ELAINE SCIOLINO
ASHINGTON, April 15 — Except for Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, father of
its revolution, no leader has left a deeper mark on Iran's 20th century
landscape than Mohammed Mossadegh. And no 20th century event has fueled
Iran's suspicion of the United States as his overthrow has.
An eccentric European-educated lawyer whose father was a bureaucrat and
whose mother descended from Persian kings, Dr. Mossadegh served as a
minister and governor before he opposed Reza Shah's accession in the
He was imprisoned and then put under house arrest at his estate in the
walled village of Ahmadabad west of Tehran. Eventually he bought the
village, growing crops, founding an elementary school and beginning a
public health project.
When Britain and Russia forced Reza Shah from power in favor of his son,
Mohammed Reza Pahlevi, in 1941, Dr. Mossadegh became a member of
Parliament. He was hailed as a hero for his fiery speeches on the evils
of British control of Iran's oil industry. In 1951, when Parliament
voted to nationalize the industry, the young shah, recognizing the
nationalists' popularity, appointed Dr. Mossadegh prime minister.
In that job he became a prisoner of his own nationalism, unable to reach
an oil compromise. Even as the British negotiated with Iran, they won
the support of the major oil companies in imposing an effective global
boycott on Iranian oil.
Still, in the developing world Dr. Mossadegh became an icon of
anti-imperialism. He was revered despite his odd mannerisms, which
included conducting business in bed in gray woolen pajamas, weeping
publicly and complaining perpetually of poor health.
He amassed power. When the shah refused his demand for control of the
armed forces in 1952, Dr. Mossadegh resigned, only to be reinstated in
the face of popular riots.
He then displayed a streak of authoritarianism, bypassing Parliament by
conducting a national referendum to win approval for its dissolution.
Meanwhile, the United States became alarmed at the strength of Iran's
Communist Party, which supported Dr. Mossadegh.
In August 1953, a dismissal attempt by the shah sent Dr. Mossadegh's
followers into the streets. The shah fled, amid fears in the new
Eisenhower administration that Iran might move too close to Moscow.
Yet Dr. Mossadegh did not promote the interests of the Communists,
though he drew on their support. Paradoxically, the party turned from
him in the end because it viewed him as insufficiently committed and too
close to the United States. By the time the royalist coup overthrew him
after a few chaotic days, he had alienated many landowners, clerics and
After a trial, he served three years in prison and ended up under house
arrest at his estate. In March 1967, in his mid-80's and weakened by
radium treatments for throat cancer, he died.
When the revolution brought the clerics to power in 1979, anti-shah
nationalists tried to revive Dr. Mossadegh's memory. A Tehran
thoroughfare called Pahlevi Avenue was renamed Mossadegh Avenue.
But Ayatollah Khomeini saw him as a promoter not of Islam but of Persian
nationalism, and envied his popularity. So Mossadegh Avenue became Vali
Asr, after the revered Hidden Imam, whose reappearance someday, Shiite
Muslims believe, will establish the perfect Islamic political community.
Still, even Ayatollah Khomeini was careful not to go too far. Ignoring
Dr. Mossadegh, rather than excoriating him, became the rule.
Two decades later, the Mossadegh cult has been revitalized by resurgent
nationalism and frustration with the strictures of Islam. Dr. Mossadegh
inspires the young, who long for heroes and have not necessarily found
them, either in clerics or kings.
In campaigns for local elections in February 1999 and parliamentary
elections a year later, reformist advertising made use of Dr.
Mossadegh's sad, elongated face. And every year since his death, his
supporters have rallied at his estate.
His legacy still stirs considerable debate. In August, Parliament
approved a bill to abolish a holiday marking the nationalization of the
oil industry in 1951. The decision set off protests in the press.
"Alas! Parliament ignored the most apparent symbol of the struggle of
the Iranian people throughout history against colonialism," the
reformist daily Khordad said.
In November, legislators were forced to reinstate the holiday.
C.I.A. Tried, With Little Success, to Use U.S. Press in Coup
By JAMES RISEN
ASHINGTON, April 15 — Central Intelligence Agency officials plotting the
1953 coup in Iran hoped to plant articles in American newspapers saying
Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlevi's return resulted from a homegrown revolt
against a Communist-leaning government, internal agency documents show.
Those hopes were largely disappointed. The C.I.A.'s history of the coup
shows that its operatives had only limited success in manipulating
American reporters and that none of the Americans covering the coup
worked for the agency.
An analysis of the press coverage shows that American journalists filed
straightforward, factual dispatches that prominently mentioned the role
of Iran's Communists in street violence leading up to the coup. Western
correspondents in Iran and Washington never reported that some of the
unrest had been stage-managed by C.I.A. agents posing as Communists. And
they gave little emphasis to accurate contemporaneous reports in Iranian
newspapers and on the Moscow radio asserting that Western powers were
secretly arranging the shah's return to power.
It was just eight years after the end of World War II, which left
American journalists with a sense of national interest framed by six
years of confrontation between the Allies and the Axis. The front pages
of Western newspapers were dominated by articles about the new global
confrontation with the Soviet Union, about Moscow's prowess in
developing nuclear weapons and about Congressional allegations of "Red"
influence in Washington.
In one instance, the history indicates, the C.I.A. was apparently able
to use contacts at The Associated Press to put on the news wire a
statement from Tehran about royal decrees that the C.I.A. itself had
written. But mostly, the agency relied on less direct means to exploit
The Iran desk of the State Department, the document says, was able to
place a C.I.A. study in Newsweek, "using the normal channel of desk
officer to journalist." The article was one of several planted press
reports that, when reprinted in Tehran, fed the "war of nerves" against
Iran's prime minister, Mohammed Mossadegh.
The history says the Iran operation exposed the agency's shortcomings in
manipulating the American press. The C.I.A. "lacked contacts capable of
placing material so that the American publisher was unwitting as to its
The history discloses that a C.I.A. officer, working under cover as the
embassy's press officer, drove two American reporters to a house outside
Tehran where they were shown the shah's decrees dismissing the prime
Kennett Love, the New York Times reporter in Tehran during the coup,
wrote about the royal decrees in the newspaper the next day, without
mentioning how he had seen them. In an interview, he said he had agreed
to the embassy official's ground rules that he not report the American
role in arranging the trip.
Mr. Love said he did not know at the time that the official worked for
After the coup succeeded, Mr. Love did in one article briefly refer to
Iranian press reports of American involvement, and The New York Times
also published an article from Moscow reporting Soviet charges that the
United States was behind the coup. But neither The Times nor other
American news organizations appear to have examined such charges
In a 1960 paper he wrote while studying at Princeton University, Mr.
Love explained that he "was responsible, in an impromptu sort of way,
for speeding the final victory of the royalists."
Seeing a half-dozen tanks parked in front of Tehran's radio station, he
said, "I told the tank commanders that a lot of people were getting
killed trying to storm Dr. Mossadegh's house and that they would be of
some use instead of sitting idle at the radio station." He added, "They
took their machines in a body to Kokh Avenue and put the three tanks at
Dr. Mossadegh's house out of action."
Mr. Love, who left The New York Times in 1962, said in an interview that
he had urged the tanks into action "because I wanted to stop the
Months afterward, Mr. Love says, he was told by Robert C. Doty, then
Cairo bureau chief and his boss, of evidence of American involvement in
But Mr. Doty, who died in 1974, did not write about the matter, and by
the summer of 1954, Mr. Love decided to tell the New York office what he
knew. In a July 26, 1954, letter to Emanuel R. Freedman, then the
foreign editor, Mr. Love wrote, "The only instance since I joined The
Times in which I have allowed policy to influence a strict news approach
was in failing to report the role our own agents played in the overthrow
Mr. Love said he had hoped that the foreign editor would order him to
pursue the subject. But he never received any response, he said.
"I wanted to let Freedman know that I knew there had been U.S.
involvement in the coup, but that I hadn't written about it," he said.
"I expected him to say, 'Jump on that story.' But there was no
response." Mr. Freedman died in 1971.
'Gentleman Spy' at Helm
onald Wilber, who planned the coup in Iran and wrote its secret history,
was old-school C.I.A., a Princetonian and a Middle East architecture
expert who fit neatly into the mold of the "gentleman spy."
Years of wandering through Middle Eastern architectural sites gave him
the perfect cover for a clandestine life. By 1953, he was an obvious
choice as the operation's strategist.
The coup was the high point of his life as a spy. Although he would
excel in academia, at the agency being part-time was a handicap.
"I never requested promotion, and was given only one, after the
conclusion of Ajax," Dr. Wilber wrote of the Iran operation.
On his last day, "I was ushered down to the lobby by a young secretary,
turned over my badge to her and left." He added, "This treatment rankled
for some time. I did deserve the paperweight."
He died in 1997 at 89.
Date: Mon, 17 Apr 2000 11:32:35 -0400
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@PANJERE.NET>
Subject: AP-Iranian Guards Threaten Reformers
Iranian Guards Threaten Reformers
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - An elite military wing in Iran warned pro-reform
leaders and writers Sunday that any attempt to undermine the country's
Islamic ideology would be met with ``Islamic violence.''
The strongly worded statement by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps
conforms to an increasingly strident tone taken by hard-liners against
reformists who swept parliamentary elections in February.
``We hope the time doesn't come for this, but if it does, Islamic
violence will be employed without any hesitation to defend truth and
justice. Then, it will be too late for them to learn lessons,'' the
statement said, according to the official Tehran radio.
The IRGC is an elite military force separate from the regular army. It
has hundreds of thousands of men in arms and its own air force and
weapons industry. Like the rest of the armed forces, it is controlled by
The hard-liners, who also control the broadcast network and the
judiciary, have found themselves struggling for survival against the
reformist movement, which became a significant force after President
Mohammad Khatami's 1997 election.
Hard-liners in the ruling clergy have become increasingly strident in
their verbal attacks in recent weeks after reformists swept February's
But on Sunday, a hard-line controlled election supervisory body, the
Guardians Council, said it will recount votes in Tehran, where
reformists won 29 of 30 seats.
In a statement, the Guardians Council said it has asked the
pro-reformist Interior Ministry to hand it over all ballot boxes from
Tehran. It did not give a reason for the recounting or say how many
votes would be recounted.
Khatami and his allies want to loosen the strict Islamic laws and social
restrictions that have been in place since the 1979 Islamic revolution
brought the Shiite clergy's rule.
The most visible sign of Khatami's reform program has been the emergence
of an outspoken press that has questioned the actions of the
Khatami, however, has no control over the broadcast network, whose chief
is appointed by the hard-line supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
The state-run television and radio gave prominent coverage to the
Also Sunday, newspapers reported that a colleague of a leading Iranian
reformist who was shot in March has been jailed on the orders of the
hard-line judge investigating the shooting.
Ahmad Hakimipour, a city councilman, was arrested Friday while visiting
his family in his native town of Zanjan, west of the capital Tehran,
Hakimipour's brother, Mahmoud, told the daily Asr-e-Azadegan.
He said Hakimipour was a close of friend of Saeed Hajjarian, who was
shot March 12. Hakimipour was with Hajjarian during the attack and was
the one who rushed him to the hospital, according to the paper.
The paper did not say why Hakimipour was arrested.
Hajjarian, a city councilman and confidant of reformist President
Mohammad Khatami, was gravely injured in the attack and remains in
intensive care at a Tehran hospital.
The Tehran City Council will hold a meeting Sunday to decide on a
reaction to Hakimipour's arrest, Asr-e-Azadegan quoted council member
Morteza Lotfi as saying.
Date: Mon, 17 Apr 2000 11:34:45 -0400
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@PANJERE.NET>
Subject: Reuters- N.Y. Times Details CIA's Role in 1953 Iranian Coup
NEW YORK (Reuters) - A secret CIA document shows that the U.S.
intelligence agency ``stumbled into success'' in its covert 1953
operation to oust an ultra-nationalist Iranian prime minister and
bolster a ``vacillating'' young shah, The New York Times reported on
The newspaper called the still-classified history the first detailed
U.S. government account of the coup to be made public.
The events of 1953 consolidated the power of the shah, whose
authoritarian, U.S.-supported rule lasted 26 years, until he was deposed
in a militantly Islamic -- and anti-American -- revolution.
The Times said in a multipart article in its Sunday edition that the
government report, ``written by the CIA's chief coup planner,'' showed
that the 1953 operation's success ``was mostly a matter of chance'' and
that the CIA ``had almost complete contempt for the man it was
empowering, Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, whom it derided as a vacillating
In the end, the agency ``stumbled into success despite a series of
mishaps that derailed its original plans,'' the paper noted.
The complete government document was posted on the Times' Web site,
http://www.nytimes.com. The newspaper said the study of the CIA's first
successful overthrow of a foreign government had been provided by a
former official who kept a copy. It was written in 1954 by Donald N.
Wilber, described as a ``gentleman spy'' and expert in Persian
architecture who died three years ago at 89.
British Role Pivotal
The Times said the document showed the pivotal role that British
intelligence played in planning the coup against Iran's Prime Minister
Mohammed Mossadegh, who sought to nationalize the Anglo-Iranian Oil Co.
The CIA operation, code-named TP-Ajax, was designed to maintain the
West's control over Iranian oil. But the agency found the shah ``a
reluctant warrior'' when it came to issuing royal decrees dismissing
Mossadegh and replacing him with the more tractable Gen. Fazlollah
Zahedi, the Times said.
``The history says agency officers ... worked directly with royalist
Iranian military officers, handpicked the prime minister's replacement,
sent a stream of envoys to bolster the shah's courage, directed a
campaign of bombings by Iranians posing as members of the Communist
Party, and planted articles and editorial cartoons in newspapers,'' the
But ``almost nothing went according to the meticulously drawn plans'' on
Aug. 15, 1953, the Times said. Mossadegh had advance warning of the
plot, Zahedi went into hiding, and the shah fled to Baghdad.
It was only when several Tehran newspapers published the shah's decrees
four days later that popular support permitted the successful mounting
of a second coup.
Two days after that, CIA officials moved $5 million into Iran to help
consolidate the government they had put into power, the Times quotes the
secret history as saying.
Date: Mon, 17 Apr 2000 11:36:42 -0400
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@PANJERE.NET>
Subject: AFP-Guardian Council overturns election of eighth reformist to
Iran - Sunday, 16 April 2000 - Agence France Presse
TEHRAN, April 16 (AFP) - A conservative-led Iranian council has
overturned the election of an eighth pro-reform winner in February's
parliamentary polls, newspapers reported here on Sunday.
The Council of Guardians cancelled the election of Karim Rahmani in the
province of West Azerbaijan, the reformist Bayan paper said.
Eight pro-reform supporters of President Mohammad Khatami have now seen
the council overturn their victories in the election, in which
reformists ended the longstanding conservative majority in the
The upending of the results in the northwestern city of Khalkhal earlier
this month sparked violent protests as angry demonstrators smashed
government buildings and set vehicles on fire. Some 40 people were
Protests have also erupted in other cities as the council has annulled
results in the February 18 polls, which gave Khatami the majority he
sought after the outgoing parliament stymied many of his reforms.
The new parliament, in which reformists still hold a wide majority
despite the cancellations, is set to take office next month.
Date: Mon, 17 Apr 2000 11:37:16 -0400
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@PANJERE.NET>
Subject: AFP-Two days of violent Iran unrest after Islamic militia stops woman
TEHRAN, April 16 (AFP) -
Violent street clashes in Iran continued for the second night in a row
between young people and members of the volunteer Islamic Basiji
militia, Iranian state radio reported Sunday.
The clashes, which broke out overnight Friday in the northern city of
Rasht after the Basiji stopped a young woman for inappropriate attire,
resumed again late Saturday, state radio reported.
It said an unknown numer of people had been arrested after demonstrators
smashed windows in public buildings and fought with security forces.
Papers said that after the Basiji stopped the woman overnight Friday,
young people clashed with the volunteer militia, adding that banks and
other public buildings were attacked while other protesters set fire to
tyres and used them to block streets in the city.
Ten people were arrested Friday but there were no reported injuries in
the clashes, which ended when anti-riot police arrived to restore order,
the papers said.
(In a statement received in Nicosia, the outlawed opposition People's
Mujahedeen said security forces "badly beat up" protesters in Rasht.
(They said that Iranian authorities had sent forces from Iran's elite
Revolutionary Guards to quiet the unrest, adding that the guards
"effectively imposed martial law on large areas of the city."
The volunteer Basiji are considered one of the pillars of the Islamic
regime and regularly patrol the streets to check for adherence to Iran's
Islamic law, which includes a strict dress code for women.
Date: Mon, 17 Apr 2000 11:38:53 -0400
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@PANJERE.NET>
Subject: National Post-Undercover in Iran
Undercover in Iran
A writer sets out to learn the fine art of camouflage and discover her own
Aida Edemariam National Post
Alison Wearing likes to prove the media wrong. Particularly the Western
media, which is rather too fond of glancing over at other countries,
blithely pegging them as good or bad, then reporting on their internal
conflicts accordingly. It's not an unusual instinct, but few women, or
men, would go further than argue it over beers -- certainly, they
wouldn't go as far as Wearing, who has worked as a migrant labourer
commuting between a Palestinian village and Israel at the beginning of
the intifada, visited villages caught up in the Croatian and Bosnian
wars of 1993, and spent months veiled in black polyester in Iran to
prove her point. Even fewer would return to write a book as lyrical,
insightful, funny and stubbornly independent as Honeymoon in Purdah: An
"I couldn't believe there was a country so awful as that in the world,"
she says of Western newspaper accounts of the situation in Iran in the
mid-'90s, over wine and the white-blonde head of her breastfeeding
eight-month-old baby, Noah. "Part of me had to see it for myself." In
her book she puts it more starkly: "I look for saints where there are
said to be demons."
She has just returned from a trip to Mexico, paid for by the advance to
this, her first book. Wearing, 32, has always had to fund her travels by
waitressing, teaching music, teaching English as a second language, data
entry. So Mexico was a treat.
It doesn't take long sitting opposite Alison Wearing to realize you are
being closely observed. It would be unsettling, if she didn't have such
a warm, charismatic presence, wasn't so comfortable in her body. She
laughs easily, purely, infectiously. Sometimes apologetically: It's not
easy tending to a baby's urgent needs -- and to insistent questions
about a book finished a year and a half ago -- while jetlagged and
recovering from a sudden febrile illness picked up in Mexico. But she
speaks quickly and articulately, with an obvious enjoyment of words.
Wearing was born in Peterborough, Ont.; when she's not travelling, she
still lives just outside town with Noah and her partner Jarmo. Noah was
born in her mother's living-room, during a rainstorm that was followed
by a perfect double rainbow.
She was about 13 when her father declared his homosexuality and moved to
Toronto. (A gentle man with a close-cropped white beard, her father now
proudly babysits his grandson.) "That did just put a spin on the world"
for someone already restive in a small town, she says. As soon as she
had finished high school, she began travelling: Germany, France,
Czechoslovakia, China, Ecuador, Peru, Yugoslavia. She'd always written
copious, descriptive letters home, but claims that it wasn't until she
went to UN-sanctioned Serbia in 1993 (the resulting 1994 article in
Queen's Quarterly won a National Magazine Award in 1995) that she
thought of doing any more with her scribblings. "I heard from Serbians,
Croats, the whole gamut -- they all felt that it worked, that it told
their story without passing judgment or falling on one side or the
other. And I thought that if I could do anything for the world" --
slight, self-aware laugh -- "it's that. That's what I do the best."
Then she went to Iran. President Hashemi Rafsanjani had just survived an
assassination attempt, and in 1995 there were riots in suburban Tehran.
Though Wearing is highly skeptical of scaremongering, and knew that in
comparison to the Khomeini years President Rafsanjani was relatively
progressive, it was the one place in the world she could not imagine
going to alone. So, she says in her book, she enlisted a gay
ex-roommate, Ian, forged a marriage certificate, and took a bus to the
northern Iranian city of Tabriz, where Ian had acquaintances. (In fact,
the man she went with was her partner at the time, and the relationship
unravelled during the trip. When she sat down to write, she realized
that this threatened to hijack a book intended to be all about Iran,
and, after a year of agonizing, dispensed with the complications. "Ian"
is a fictional composite of her partner and her father.)
Once in Iran, they had no particular plans. They traveled to about 25
cities, visited about 50 homes and saw a total of nine other tourists in
nearly three months.
It was quickly obvious Wearing would only be able to "learn the language
of the place," as she puts it, if she adopted a kind of camouflage. (A
word of Farsi origin used more frequently on the Indian subcontinent
than in Iran, purdah means the segregation, the hiding, of women, a
broader concept than just the attire it is often used to describe. In
Iran, that attire is properly called hejab. It usually consists of a
long black coat, black manteau, black scarf and, in religious
circumstances, a black chaador, which literally means "tent." But
"you're wearing the tent underneath. It seemed more like the fly over
the tent," says Wearing.) None of it was comfortable in temperatures of
up to 48 degrees Celsius.
She didn't succumb to fashionable variations, Tehran-style:
"Red, to the knee, with a gold belt, and bouffy hair with a little scarf
of top," she remembers, with distaste. "I didn't attract any attention,
because you could only see a triangle of my face. But what you did end
up seeing was every woman's eyes. And there was so much that was said
through eyes." Much was also said in other ways. Chaadors are shaped
like a levelled-off slice of pie -- "there's a more angular curve, and a
longer curve. If you wear it upside down that's signalling that you're
available. It's very subtle. I mean, you really have to look." Her
companion, who had curly dark hair and grew a beard for the duration,
simply made sure he dressed conservatively -- black shirt and trousers,
if he wished to be particularly respectful. Though he wore glasses that
were obviously foreign, his mein did not draw attention.
And Iran was hospitable beyond Wearing's wildest imaginings (often
beyond Ian's comfort level). There were cultural reasons. "As many
people explained, they are all pilgrims, and there is a tradition of
accepting pilgrims into your home because you might at one point be a
pilgrim. I was expecting hospitality similar to what I'd found in other
Middle Eastern countries, but this was 100 times that. We just never
never, never went a single day, not five hours, without being invited by
someone for something. And they didn't want anything. Often they didn't
know our names and they didn't want our names. They were just so
thrilled that we had come." Peals of laughter. "By the end, we expected
it. We'd get off the bus and go, 'Okay, who's taking us for dinner?' "
Every home in Iran, however modest, has walls around it. Alison and Ian
were seeing behind them. "There isn't a public life, really, because
everything is prohibited," says Wearing. "The chaador is a metaphor for
that. And everyone wears very simple colours, dark colours, a lot of
black." And when they go home and remove their chaadors "it feels like
bright lights. Because all of your senses have gone into a holding
pattern and are idle." After months of squinting gratefully within
sand-coloured walls, she was unprepared for stepping outside Iran's
"We went from Iran to Italy and then to France, from one extreme to the
other. All these people, women particularly, spending a gazillion
dollars on make-up and clothes and shoes and perfume and matching this
and designer that. It just seemed revolting, after a place where the
soul is of greater value than the body. So I didn't come back thinking
'Oh great, I'm home, and everything is so much better and women are so
free and so liberated."
She'd proved abundantly -- and not unsurprisingly -- the complexity of
Iran; but it was really her own preconceptions that were unseated,
preconceptions she hadn't been made to question until she had been in
Aida Edemariam is the Deputy Book Editor of the National Post
Date: Mon, 17 Apr 2000 15:23:05 EDT
From: Iran Man <IRANEHMAN@AOL.COM>
Subject: JEWS' SPY TRIAL STARTS WITH 'CONFESSIONS.'
JEWS' SPY TRIAL STARTS WITH 'CONFESSIONS.'
The trial of 13 Jews accused of espionage on behalf of
Israel and the U.S. opened on 13 April in Shiraz, Fars
Province. Eight Muslims were arrested in the case, according
to Iranian authorities, but they are not being tried and it
is not known if they are imprisoned. The trial is being held
in private because the case deals with national security
issues, according to the Justice Department.
Four of the 13 confessed and asked for clemency,
provincial judiciary chief Hussein Ali Amiri said after the
first session. Defense attorney Esmail Nasseri, however, said
that "We categorically deny that any confessions were made."
Amiri did not say which four had confessed, but only four
defendants appeared for the first session: Dani Teflin,
Faramarz Kashi, Ramin Nematizadeh, and Shahrokh Paknahad.
The other defendants have been identified as Javid Ben
Yaqub, Ramin Farzam, Farzad Kashi, Omid Teflin, Farhad Saleh,
Nasser Lavihim, Asher Zadmehr, Navid Balazadeh, and Nejad
Brokhimnejad. Defense attorneys complained that they had only
a few days to prepare, but a 12 April statement from the Fars
Justice Department said that several of the accused refused
to select lawyers.
According to an unnamed judiciary source cited by
London's "Al-Hayah" on 13 April, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali
Khamenei, President Hojatoleslam Mohammad Khatami, and
Judiciary chief Ayatollah Mahmud Hashemi-Shahrudi urged the
court to hold a "fair" trial, an injunction that raises
questions about the kinds of trials it normally conducts.
Also, Iranian state radio's external English-language service
reminded listeners on 13 April that the Jews' trial "has
nothing to do with their religious beliefs."
"Sources acquainted with the case," claimed that "some
of the defendants" had been to Israel and undergone "security
and training courses on the use of advanced communications
equipment for conveying military information," "Al-Hayah"
reported. Both the U.S. and Israel have rejected such
espionage charges and demanded the Jews be released.
Human rights organizations and Jewish community
organizations are calling for them to be released, too, and
they are urging governments and the international community
to do the same. European governments that have promoted
"critical engagement" with Iran, meanwhile, may feel added
pressure, because executions or convictions would be another
sign that their policy has failed to alter Iranian behavior.
Great Britain said it was considering an "appropriate
response," according to Reuters. Foreign Minister Robin Cook
is expected to visit Iran soon.
U.S. Secretary of State Madeline Albright told a Senate
subcommittee on 13 April that Washington is monitoring the
situation. She added that "I am on the phone daily now with
foreign ministers, because there is a resolution that we are
sponsoring in Geneva that makes clear that the treatment of
the Bahai and the Iranian Jews is unacceptable. This morning
we got news that the trial has been postponed until 1 May.
That is one possible step in the right direction, though some
of the things we are still hearing about how the trial may be
carried out are not acceptable."
The next court session is scheduled for 1 May. Whether
this is to allow the Jewish prisoners to celebrate Passover
or to avoid conflicts with Ashura commemorations is not
clear. Tehran's Central Jewish Committee had requested a
Passover furlough for the prisoners, Reuters reported on 4
April. (Bill Samii)
GUARDIANS COUNCIL DEFENDS VOTE CANCELLATIONS.
The Guardians Council's efforts to change the results of
the February parliamentary election continue to cause unrest
in Iran, but the 12-member body has issued statements
defending its actions and complaining of factional politics.
Meanwhile, there are unconfirmed reports of a plot to
overturn the election results and to oust President Mohammad
In early March there were demonstrations in Bandar Abbas
and Minab (Hormozgan Province) and Gachsaran (Boir Ahmadi va
Kohkiluyeh Province) after the Guardians Council annulled
results there. On 6 April, results in the city of Damavand
and Firuzkuh were declared null and void, and the result in
Khalkhal (Ardabil Province) was overturned and a new
(conservative) winner declared. Subsequently, two days of
violent protests in Khalkhal ended after the intervention of
the Law Enforcement Forces and the military, according to
IRNA. State television reported that 40 people were arrested.
There was a peaceful demonstration in Damavand. And "Bayan"
reported on 16 April that the Guardians Council overturned
the election of a reformist candidate, Karim Rahmani, in West
So far, eight results have been overturned. Deputy
Interior Minister Mustafa Tajzadeh said that the Guardians
Council has not presented any documentary evidence for its
actions, IRNA reported on 8 April. The same day, the
Guardians Council released a statement alleging cases of
voter intimidation, vote buying, and biased electoral
officials in Khalkhal. It went on to describe complaints from
throughout the district and violations of the electoral law,
according to IRNA and state broadcasting.
A more complete Guardians Council statement was read on
state television on 10 April. It described vote buying; voter
intimidation; "voting on behalf of illiterate people and
writing the names of one's favorite candidate;" using
identification cards of dead people or using fake
identification cards; and spreading lies about candidates. To
verify such violations, all the available "documentary
evidence" and "reports sent by the local supervisory and
investigative committees were used." The Guardians Council
said that "during these [elections] there were far more
illegal violations and interventions [sic] than there were in
The Guardians Council expressed the belief that
complaints about the result cancellations were factionally-
based. It said that people who wanted to send their
candidates to parliament are still trying to achieve this
objective. "They want to create the kind of parliament they
want which is made up of those affiliated with a certain
faction. One does not expect such individuals or factions to
confess to their wrongdoing and infringement of the law."
Meanwhile, there still is no final result in Tehran,
where the recount was stopped after half of the 1000 ballot
boxes were re-evaluated (see "RFE/RL Iran Report," 13 March
2000). Expediency Council chairman Ali-Akbar Hashemi-
Rafsanjani urged a resumption of the recount in a letter to
the Guardians Council, "Hamshahri" reported on 3 April, and
the Tehran governor said his staff is ready to help. Deputy
Interior Minister Tajzadeh said the Guardians Council's
failure to make an official pronouncement on the issue is
An "informed source" told the 13 April "Tehran Times"
that the delay occurred because Guardians Council secretary
Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati had gone to Mecca for the Hajj. The
final Tehran result will be announced on 17 April, the
English-language daily reported.
An unidentified source close to the reformist Islamic
Iran Participation Party claimed in an interview with the
Saudi "Asharq al-Awsat" that there is a plot afoot to cancel
the election results entirely and to overthrow President
Khatami. The Islamic Revolution Guard Corps, the Basij, and
conservative figures are trying to have the election results
annulled, and Hashemi-Rafsanjani supposedly is trying to
persuade Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to annul them,
too. Also, the IRGC intelligence branch and the Qods Force
are collaborating with Ayatollah Jannati, former judiciary
chief Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi, and Ayatollah Mohammad Taqi
Mesbah-Yazdi, to oust the president.
This plan, according to "Asharq al-Awsat," would
coincide with Ashura, when religious sentiments are at their
height. IRGC units would quell any resulting unrest. Khatami
would be replaced by Rafsanjani. (Bill Samii)
SOME SENIOR CLERICS STAND BY PRINCIPLES.
In the beginning of March, journalist Reza Ansari-Rad
was summoned by the Special Court for the Clergy for
publicizing the views of dissident cleric Ayatollah Hussein
Ali Montazeri-Najafabadi and for trying to revive Montazeri
politically. This is typical of the fate awaiting Iranians
contacting Montazeri, who has been under intermittent house
arrest since 1989. When Isfahan Friday Prayer leader
Ayatollah Jalaledin Taheri tried to visit Montazeri at the
end of March, however, all that happened was that guards
would not let him in, "Fath" reported. Taheri was forced to
speak to Montazeri via a walkie-talkie from Ahmad Montazeri's
home next door.
Many outside observers like to classify politics in Iran
as an issue of clericalism versus secularism, but Taheri
exemplifies the kind of cleric who can uphold religious
principles while simultaneously retaining popular support.
Taheri is a popular religious figure, but he also has been
physically attacked by hardliners and they have demonstrated
for his dismissal (see "RFE/RL Iran Report," 25 January 1999
and 9 August 1999) He also has spoken out against violence
for any cause, in contrast to clerics who advocate violence
against people with different opinions (see "RFE/RL Iran
Report," 30 August 1999).
The reformist "Sobh-i Imruz" daily discussed the reasons
for Taheri's popularity on 29 February. The daily said that
"Throughout all the years after 1342 , he had an active
and effective role in forming the revolution, and after the
victory of the revolution, he has never been absent from the
political scenes of the country." It explained that "The
secret of maintaining his popularity is nothing but the
ability to be fundamentalist and populist at the same
time...unlike those 'fundamentalists' who regard themselves
as being the axiom of the world and human beings, and have an
attitude of guardianship toward the people, he has never seen
himself as [the] people's guardian, and has lived with his
'principles' among and with 'the people.'" The daily went on
to describe Taheri's consistency and lack of equivocation.
Taheri is not alone in standing by his principles or in
his support for Montazeri. Grand Ayatollah Yusef Sanei
supported Montazeri's criticism of the promotion of violence,
according to the 16 March "Sobh-i Imruz." Sanei said that
when an Islamic government exists [as it currently does in
Iran], "the murder of individuals is contrary to religious
law." Sanei has supported Montazeri and his views before, and
he is seen as a supporter of the reformist movement. For
these reasons, Sanei has earned hardliners' animosity (see
"RFE/RL Iran Report," 7 June 1999). As a Source of Emulation
and former member of the Guardians Council and the Assembly
of Experts, however, he is effectively untouchable.
Grand Ayatollah Mirza Javad Gharavi-Aliari also
criticized violence, and assassination specifically,
according to the 8 April "Iran." Gharavi said that violence
and punishment are acceptable only when required by a
"competent court." He added that "threatening or intimidation
of individuals is religiously forbidden, too."
Statements by Taheri, Sanei, and Gharavi call attention
to the splits within the clerical community over its role in
Iranian political life. And they also show that just because
one is a an Iranian Shia cleric, one is not necessarily a
supporter of violence or repression. (Bill Samii)
IRAQI OIL SEIZURES PART OF PLAN TO DOMINATE PERSIAN GULF.
The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Navy seized 12 ships
carrying Iraqi oil between 5 and 11 April, IRNA reported. And
on 12 April the Kish Island director for legal affairs,
Mahmud Alam, said that tankers carrying smuggled oil have
left behind oil slicks that threaten the environment. The
Kish public court authorized interceptions of the offending
tankers, and the Kish Free Trade Zone administration is
Some observers believe that interception of the
smugglers is a message to the U.S. that Tehran is willing to
cooperate with it in enforcing the sanctions against Iraq.
While not going so far, Petroleum Finance Corporation's Raad
Alkadiri suggested that the seizures contain at least "some
element of a gesture to the United States," Reuters reported
11 April. But the information from Kish Island puts the issue
in a new light.
Tehran has consistently complained that foreign naval
forces are the main cause of pollution and environmental
damage in the Persian Gulf. The main pretext for the presence
of the foreign naval forces has been enforcement of the UN
sanctions against Iraq. If Tehran demonstrates a willingness
and an ability to enforce the UN sanctions independently, it
would obviate the need for the presence of foreign forces.
With foreign forces out of the Persian Gulf, Iran can
dominate the region. And it could control the transit of oil
shipments, both licit and illicit.
Tehran also is sending messages to Baghdad. After the
Mujahedin Khalq Organization's February and March mortar
attacks in Tehran, Iranian forces attacked MKO camps in Iraq.
After the first attack, Tehran urged Baghdad to restrain the
terrorists. The second attack made it clear that as long as
Tehran restricted its activities to MKO targets, Baghdad
would do nothing. So Iran decided to motivate the Iraqi
regime by interrupting its main source of revenue.
It is not just Iraqi perceptions that are being shaped.
Iran's allies and its apologists will be able to point at the
naval interdictions and say that Iran is cooperating with the
international community and the UN. As an unnamed "Iranian
oil source" told Reuters, "Iran is just trying to show that
it is acting responsibly with respect to international
regulation." Vice Admiral Charles Moore, commander of the
U.S. 5th Fleet and head of the Multinational Interception
Force, said on 6 April that "The Iranians are making an
attempt here at a minimum to develop a perception that they
in fact are going to cooperate with the UN."
Iranian state radio described the messages on 12 April.
"Iran's intensified operations in disallowing the Iraqi
smuggled oil to be shipped via the Persian Gulf contains two
clear messages: Iran stresses the policy of obeying the UN
regulations and resolutions. And the second message concerns
the Iraqi regime, which holds a negative record in violating
international laws and regulations. It is a regime which does
not heed the principles pertaining to good-neighborly
relations with Iran."
Iran is in a strong position to intercept the oil
shipments, since it normally benefits from such smuggling
operations. Since the imposition of sanctions against Iraq,
the IRGC has charged protection fees for the oil shipments,
and an IRGC station at the mouth of the Shatt al-Arab
waterway controls the operation (see "RFE/RL Iran Report," 21
December 1998). Admiral Moore said that this operation is
coordinated at high levels of the Iranian government. The
IRGC charges smugglers $50 per metric ton of oil, and this
could earn the Iranians $500 million annually.
Moore went on to say that smuggling has increased with
the rise in oil prices, and despite the MIF's efforts, about
4.8 million metric tons of oil gets through annually. The MIF
has changed its tactics to stem this flood, Moore said, "But
at the end of the day, we're not going to be able to do much
with more forces as long as the Iranians provide a sanctuary
for these smugglers." (Bill Samii)
CZECH PARLIAMENT BANS BUSHEHR DEAL.
The Czech Chamber of Deputies (lower house) passed a law
banning the export of goods or know-how for use in
construction of Iran's Bushehr nuclear project on 4 April.
Violation of the law is punishable with a fine of up to 20
million crowns [about $560,000] and confiscation of the
equipment. ZVVZ Milevsko, the firm that was due to provide
air-conditioning equipment for the Bushehr project, will not
receive any compensation. President Vaclav Havel had not
signed the law as of 16 April. (Bill Samii)
JAPANESE ARMS SUPPLIERS SENTENCED.
Ichiro Takahashi and Tsuneo Ishida, executives with the
Japanese Sun Beam trading firm, were sentenced to two years in prison and
fined 1.5 million yen each for shipping parts for
anti-tank rocket launcher sights to Iran without proper export
permits, Kyodo news service reported on 12 April. Judge Saturo
Hattori said that "The crime was of a nature that could have
caused further international strife. It was not just a crime
by individuals as it could have undermined Japan's
international credibility." Iran's former ambassador to Japan, Hussein
Kazempur-Ardabili, and another Iranian diplomat were
implicated in the case. An international arrest warrant is
outstanding for businessman Massoud Momtahan. (Bill Samii)
NORWAY EYES IRANIAN MARKET.
Norsk Hydro's international exploration and production
unit and the National Iranian Oil Company's exploration
department signed a one-of-a-kind contract on 12 April, IRNA
reported. Under this deal, all operational costs will be
covered by Hydro, which is committed to a minimum $47 million
investment over 4.5 years. If any oil or gas is discovered,
the costs will be covered by revenues from the field's
production. Otherwise, NIOC will not incur any costs,
according to IRNA. When contacted by RFE/RL, Hydro refused to
comment or provide any details on the contract.
Nine Norwegian firms, including Statoil and Hydro, will
participate in an Iranian oil and gas fair over Easter,
Oslo's "Aftenposten" reported on 9 April. Their main
objective, according to the daily, is to secure contracts in
the Iranian oil industry, which they believe is about to
undertake major modernization and expansion projects.
Hans Asanuma Frisk of Statoil told "Aftenposten" that
his firm thinks Iran is "interesting," but no investment
decisions have been made. "Statoil has a project underway
where we look at the possibilities of going into Iran. We
undertake an overall assessment of conditions and
opportunities in the country, but we do not, for the time
being, look at concrete projects," Frisk said. Norwegian
firms that are already active in Iran's energy sector include
Saga and Noreen.
It is not just the energy sector that appeals to the
Norwegians. A trade delegation visited Tehran last November.
And recently, Bjorn Bjornsen, travelling envoy of the
Norwegian Export Council, told "Aftenposten" that other
potential investment areas are infrastructure,
telecommunications, construction, horticulture, and the
maritime sector. He warned against expecting "quick returns."
SOME HOPE FOR GAS SECTOR.
Iranian Energy Ministry official Mehdi Husseini warned
that Iran does not now have a place in the international gas
market and that if it does not get one soon, the opportunity
will be lost, "Akhbar-i Eqtesad" reported on 1 March. This
year's overall lack of developments in this sector would not
prompt Iranian optimism, but in the final week of March there
were reports that an Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline would
go ahead, and in early April Tehran reported the discovery of
a new gas field.
In mid-March Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Namdar-Zanganeh
asked Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov to cut his natural
gas export price from the current $40 per 1,000 cubic meters
to $28, in exchange for which Iran would increase its
imports. Two days later, Turkmen Foreign Minister Boris
Shikhmuradov announced that Iran will increase its imports of
Turkmen gas to 13 trillion cubic meters annually. This could
be a substantial increase, because last year Iran imported
only 2 trillion cubic meters of Turkmen gas. And in February,
Niyazov announced that Turkmenistan is negotiating a 50
trillion cubic meter deal with Russia's Gazprom.
In an analysis for RFE/RL, Michael Lelyveld, however,
points out that none of these deals have been finalized yet,
and while the deals could total over 90 trillion cubic meters
annually, "Turkmenistan is believed to have exported only
about 5 trillion cubic meters so far this year." Lelyveld
suggests that the Turkmen statements seem to be "an obvious
attempt to play the Iranian option against Russia, and to
play both countries against the United States." This appears
to have worked. PSG International, a U.S. led consortium,
presented Turkmenistan with improved financial terms for the
Trans-Caspian Pipeline, which will transport gas to
Natik Aliev, president of the State Oil Company of
Azerbaijan (SOCAR), announced that Azerbaijan will only
consider the export of gas through Iran if the amount of
extracted gas justifies new routes. Currently, Azerbaijan is
committed to pipelines going through Georgia to Turkey,
Interfax reported on 9 April. Ali Kazem, spokesman for the
Iranian embassy in Yerevan, announced that construction of a
gas pipeline from Iran to Armenia has stopped because the
Armenian government is short of funds, AP reported on 24
March. Kazem promised that the project will resume soon.
Identical problems were reported in November, and at that
time it was reported that Russia's Gazprom would make up the
financial shortfall (see "RFE/RL Iran Report," 3 January
Indeed, Gazprom, despite its promises, has not been a
significant contributor to Iranian energy developments
recently. One reason is that Gazprom is suffering its own
financial problems. A company official said in January that
its domestic customers pay only 18-20 percent of their bills
in cash, and there have been complaints of gas shortages at
Russian power plants. Gazprom is, furthermore, competing for
the Turkish gas market. Including it in Iranian gas projects
(development of the South Pars fields, for example),
therefore, was not a wise move. In the words of Julia Nanay,
director of the Petroleum Finance Company: "They don't want
Iran to succeed, certainly not with exports to Turkey."
A glimmer of hope for Iranian gas came from Islamabad.
Pakistan will permit construction of a pipeline for Iranian
gas to India, Karachi's "Business Recorder" reported on 21
March. Completion of this project has been delayed for
several years due to poor Pakistani-Indian relations, but
Federal Minister Usman Aminuddin justified the project by
saying that it could earn about $500 million in transit fees.
Pakistan also agreed to import around 35,000 barrels per day
of Iranian oil, and Iran may import surplus Pakistani motor
spirits and kerosene.
There is not wholehearted enthusiasm for this project in
Pakistan. Although Rawalpindi's "Jang" praised the project on
22 March because it will earn much-needed foreign currency
for Pakistan, the same city's "Nawa-i Waqt" argued that
Pakistan should not allow the pipeline's completion and Iran
should not supply gas to India, as a show of Islamic
solidarity, until the Kashmir conflict is resolved.
Meanwhile, Iranian Oil Minister Namdar-Zanganeh
announced on 12 April that a gas field near Bushehr has been
discovered. He said the Tabnak field is one of the biggest in
the world, with an estimated reserve of 445 billion cubic
meters of gas, over 240 million barrels of gaseous liquids,
the potential to produce 2 billion cubic feet, and an
estimated value of $16.5 billion.
And construction of a Turkish gas pipeline to Iran,
which was scheduled for completion last January, is
continuing. Turkish state television reported on 29 March
that the Turkish portion of the pipeline is 60 percent
complete and it should be finished by August. (Bill Samii)
End of DNI-NEWS Digest - 16 Apr 2000 to 17 Apr 2000 - Special issue