DNI-NEWS Digest - 29 Jun 1998

There are 9 messages totalling 517 lines in this issue.

Topics of the day:

1. National Front Asked to Postpone Press Conference 2. Isfahanis Petition MP Against Nouri's Impeachment 3. Isfahanis Say No to Dismissal of Friday Prayer Leader 4. Do you remember when schools where free? 5. Impeachment will Cost MPs Next Election, says Weekly 6. Tehran Women Ignore Islamic Dress Code 7. Pahlavan Gives Poor Marks to the Opposition 8. Ensuring Freedom, Indvidual Rights is Khatami's Main Program 9. Israeli General Disputes Israel's Unquestioned Military Superiority

National Front Asked to Postpone Press Conference

Iran Daily (Journal of Islamic Republic News Agency) June 30, 1998

National Front cancels press conference

Tehran - A press conference scheduled by two members of the Iran National Front was called off. The reason behind this was said to be a suggestion made by an official in the ministry of information to the group.

The invitations for the press gathering which was to be held Sunday, were signed by Adib Boroumand and Ali Ardalan and sent to the media.

Hassan Lebaschi, representing himself as the spokesman for the group, told IRNA that on Saturday one of the officials at the ministry of information, in a telephone conversation, asked them to postpone the meeting. The official said that under current circumstances, the press conference was not to the benefit of the country.

He added that the group had accepted the request, but confirmed they would arrange another gathering soon, to express their stance towards domestic developments.

The invitation sent to the press read, "We intend to express our views regarding social problems at a press conference."

Isfahanis Petition MP Against Nouri's Impeachment

Iran Daily (Journal of Islamic Republic News Agency) June 30, 1998

What's Up?

Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Seyyed Ata'ollah Mohajerani is next on the impeachment list of the opponents of President Mohammad Khatami, wrote a local publication in the central province of Isfahan. According to the latest issue of the weekly Navid-e Isfahan, the faction which has been licking its wounds after the May 23 presidential elections last year, will certainly not let the dismissal of former Interior Minister Abdollah Nouri suffice. They will not stop until they succeed in imposing their views on the nation and the president, wrote the weekly. It also published a petition signed by a group of Isfahanis urging their representatives at the parliament (Majlis) Hassan Kamran and Pishgahi-Fard, to withdraw their names from the list of MPs who voted for the impeachment of the interior minister.

Isfahanis Say No to Dismissal of Friday Prayer Leader

Iran Daily (Journal of Islamic Republic News Agency) June 30, 1998

What's Up?

A petition signed by residents in Samirom of Isfahan Province denounced the dismissal of the Friday prayer leader of the town, Hojjatoleslam Seyyed Hossein Hosseini. Informed sources said that the preacher was removed from his post by the responsible council which assigns prayer leaders due to what he him-self has called 'baseless charges of supporting Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri'. The preacher had informed the public of the decision in his last sermon on June 19. Last Friday, said a citizen speaking on the con-dition of anonymity, the Friday prayer was not performed and an assignee carried out the common ritual of noon and afternoon prayers. The prayer leader devoted the better part of his sermon only to the per-sonality of Imam Reza (AS), marking his martyrdom anniversary, he said.

Do you remember when schools where free?

source http://www.neda.net/hamshahri/770408/elmif.htm#elmif6

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Impeachment will Cost MPs Next Election, says Weekly

Iran Daily (Journal of Islamic Republic News Agency) June 30, 1998

What's Up?

A local publication in the northern province of Gilan said that the impeachment of the interior minister by the parliament (Majlis) was the beginning of a 'Big No' to the right wing. According to the latest issue of the weekly Khazar, sacking Hojjatoleslam Abdollah Nouri which was against the nation's wishes, will serve as a major source of criticism against the traditional right wing candidates who intend to run for the sixth Majlis elections. The impeachment was dif-ferent from earlier ones in that MPs who were against the minister, had this time labeled their initiative as an action which supported President Mohammad Khatami's plans and defended legitimate freedoms in the society, wrote the weekly. Under this guise and with baseless and vague charges, it added, the traditional right wing put aside the presi-dent's best companion. The impeachment at least showed that the right wing has shed its mask and is openly opposing President Khatami's policies and the will of the 20 million voters who created the epoch of May 23 last year, wrote Khazar. It also asked whether Majlis deputies were liable to prefer their factional interests over those of their con-stituents. How can an MP talk against the president's policies while his constituents have voted for the president to carry out the same plans, the weekly questioned.

Tehran Women Ignore Islamic Dress Code

Iran Daily (Journal of Islamic Republic News Agency) June 22, 1998

What's Up?

The Austrian Press Agency (APA) quoted its correspondent in Tehran as saying that these days Tehrani women don't take observing Islamic conduct, including wearing Islamic dress seri-ously. APA's reporter, Alexia Verneger, said that the women in Tehran show their hair beneath their scarfs and their dresses have shortened to above their knees. She went on to say that under the present circum-stances, Iranian girls and boys have no fear of the Islamic Revolution's Guard Corps (IRGC) and wander freely in Tehran's streets. According to this foreign correspondent, after the victory of Mohammad Khatami in the May 1997 presidential elections, major palpable changes have taken place within Iran's society.

Pahlavan Gives Poor Marks to the Opposition

Iran Daily (Journal of Islamic Republic News Agency) June 21, 1998

Pahlavan gives poor marks to the opposition

At the outset of their retreat, the foreign-based Iranian opposition groups were enthusiastic. But they grad-ually lost fervor and split into diverse groups and sub-groups.

The above analysis was made by Changiz Pahlavan in an arti-cle, published in the weekly "Rah-e No", aimed to expand on the situation of the foreign-based Iranian opposition. .

"Publication of several newspa-pers and magazines is the only great accomplishment of this group," he wrote.

Pahlavan has claimed that the configuration of the opposition differs from one country or another. "Most monarchists reside in America while the left-ists as well as Mujahedeen are active in France and Sweden. This is while a wide spectrum of all parties can be found in Germany," he continued.

According to Pahlavan, the intellectual lines followed by the opposition can be traced to west-ern schools like feminism, post modernism, environmentalists and above all human rights activists.

"The result is that the opposi-tion demands sound rather exotic when compared to the realities of the Iranian society and its slogans are quite unreal and idealistic," he commented.

Pahlavan went on to say that the exiled opposition was also dis-armed after the May 23 elections and let go many of its mottos. "A great number of Iranians abroad either took part in the elections or wished to have done so after-wards."

A number of opposition mem-bers resort to tough measures to justify their presence abroad. Refusing to accept the realities and developments of the Iranian society is one remarkable charac-teristic of such people. On the other hand, they are quite sensi-tive to the current of events in Iran, the article stated.

"Not willing to be absorbed by the western societies, the first-generation opposition is forced to emphasize its Iranian identity," the author added.

Opposing the Iranian govern-ment along with efforts to main-tain identity are aimed to decrease and/or prevent the ever- increasing self-alienation, according to Pahlavan.

It seems noteworthy that on the whole, the Iranian opposition lacks the necessary popularity and capability to gain power and present coherent ideas and thoughts, Rah-e No quoted him as saying.

"The opposition has been fur-ther disturbed by last year's pres-idential elections and is not able to offer an alternative which is contingent upon its own intellec-tual capacity. The Iranian opposi-tion seems to favor a reactionary strategy and hence chooses to react to certain events," Pahlevan concluded.

Pahlavan's article did not speci-fy the opposition groups by name.

Ensuring Freedom, Indvidual Rights is Khatami's Main Program

Iran Daily (Journal of Islamic Republic News Agency) June 20, 1998

President gives ringing endorsement of Nouri

Tehran - President Seyyed Mohammad Khatami said here Thursday that Interior Minister Abdullah Nouri, is one of the strongest ministers in the cabinet and his presence and opinions in all fields are a source of blessing.

Addressing a group of deputies and advisors of the interior min-istry, President Khatami stated, "No doubt his absence from the cabinet will entail massive dam-age for the government and the country."

The president added that impeachment is a specific kind of dialogue and promotion of this habit (of dialogue) in the society is part of the present administra-tion's policy.

He went on to say that some good intentioned people may be against political development and stressed that everyone is entitiled to his/her opinion but everything must be transparent.

In the process of impeachment, he added three key points must be taken into consideration, which he enumerated as: The constitution, policies of the system and pro- gram of action of the president.

Khatami added all points have been approved by the public in the course of elections and subse-quently by the Majlis.

"In a healthy and calm atmos-phere impeachment can have good results,"he said. He enumer-ated the positive aspects as removing ambiguities and misun-derstandings between the Majlis and the administration and putting forward new proposals. This in turn, he added, will strengthen the administration and finally, if both sides observe the principles, such a dialogue will set a good pattern in the society for debates and dis-cussions.

The president also noted that he had to make one point clear that political development is the main axes of his administration's pro-grams. In this framework, human beings and manpower are the core and respect for human dignity and prestige and ensuring freedom and indvidual/social rights are the foundations for all progress, dig-nity and prosperity.

He added that freedoms and rights are defined in the constitution and must be granted to the people accordingly.

President Khatami said that he felt responsible before God to meet the pledges he made with the people, which have been endorsed by the leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the majority of Majlis deputies.

"Within this context, the appoint-ment of interior minister, who has a key role in the realization of this program, was of importance to me.

After a long search, I appointed Mr. Nouri. This was a result both of his bright record before and after the revolution and also because I trust his piety. Then too, let us not forget the fact that he was trusted by the late leader of the Islamic Revolution.

The president in conclusion expressed hope that the Majlis will tackle the issue in a healthy environment. He made known his desire that in light of the sensitive conditions of the country and the difficult tasks ahead of the gov-ernment, the result of the censure motion will confirm Hojjatoleslam Nouri. This he said, would allow the administration to carry on with its duties and strengthen the bonds between the Majils and the government.

Israeli General Disputes Israel's Unquestioned Military Superiority

Global Intelligence Update Red Alert June 30, 1998

Israeli General Disputes Israel's Unquestioned Military Superiority

Israeli Major General Matan Vilnai, former Deputy Chief of Staff of the Israel Defense Forces, said on Sunday night that Israeli defense doctrine is no longer "up-to-date." In a speech before defense specialists, Vilnai said that "It would be absolutely safe to say today, and I am not telling any secrets here, that our defense doctrine is not up-to-date, and it is probably incapable of providing an answer to the emerging threats the State of Israel has to confront. We think we are the neighborhood bully, to use a slang term, that no one would have the nerve to challenge us, and that should anyone challenge us, they will get such a beating that will teach them not to start anything next time." But, he went on to say, "The situation has changed. We no longer have the possibility of achieving a decisive victory, while the Arabs still have that option."

This is extraordinary language from one of the highest ranking Israeli officers. While it should be remembered that Vilnai was passed over for promotion to chief of staff last month, when Shaul Mofaz was selected, this statement is not merely sour grapes. It is an assessment that has become increasingly common within the IDF as well as with foreign observers.

Israeli strategy has had to accept two historical facts. First, since Israel is surrounded by potential enemies, Israel's worse case scenario consists of a simultaneous, surprise attack on all fronts by combined Arab forces. Second, Israeli forces cannot withstand a war of attrition. Israel's solution to these strategic problems has been to initiate conflicts themselves and to control the timing, location and sequence of engagements to the extent possible. Second, Israel sought to impose extremely tight timelines on conflicts by initiating and maintaining intense and violent operational tempos designed to force enemies off balance operationally and psychologically. Israel's defense consisted in sequentially defeating enemies at the time and place of their own choosing.

The Six-Day War was the classic case.

Israel was able to execute this strategy through several means. First, the disadvantage of being surrounded provided the advantage of interior lines. Forces could be shifted from front to front rapidly. Second, Israel's intelligence services were tasked with the responsibility of providing a warning so that Israeli could take the initiative. Finally, Israel's air and armored forces were tasked with the responsibility of engaging and destroying enemy forces early in any conflict. The latter was achieved through a combination of training and technology optimized for the well- defined battle zone the IDF operated in.

Today's military environment differs in several ways. Southern Lebanon is a conflict in which air and armored forces are of limited value. It is an infantry war that necessarily forces the IDF, which is casualty averse, to accept casualties. The situation on the West Bank also requires the presence of IDF forces without allowing the IDF's advantage to be shown. In addition, the threat of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons delivered on civilian targets by long-range missiles takes the conflict into a dimension in which the Israelis do not have a clear advantage nor an obviously effective counter. The Arabs are clearly more capable of absorbing an NBC assault on its population than is Israel, whose population is smaller and more concentrated. This is clearly what Vilnai is speaking about.

We feel, however, that there is another dimension to this problem. Israel has avoided engaging its enemies simultaneously by diplomatic as well as military means. The Camp David accords took Egypt out of the equation for a generation. However, recent trends in the Arab world appear to indicate that Egypt may be interested once again in military coordination with what used to be called the confrontation states. If this were to happen, the old strategic reality would be created, but this time without Israel's clear cut operational superiority.

New weapons technology does not necessarily favor Israel. Smart weaponry is extremely effective against strike aircraft and armor, the foundations of Israeli military power. The diffusion of this technology to the Arab world is a direct challenge to both Israeli air superiority and armored maneuver warfare. It also threatens the ability of Israel to impose rapid victory by radically increasing the cost of air superiority over the battlefield at the same time as the rate of attrition on armored forces increases. This raises the possibility of paralysis on the battlefield, opening the door to a war of attrition in which Israel's ability to absorb casualties is not clearly superior to that of Arab countries. Thus, the evolution of the regional balance of power and the evolution of weapons technology combine to place Israel in an increasingly precarious position.

General Vilnai has put his finger on the critical weakness of Netanyahu's foreign policy. The idee fixe of Israeli foreign policy has been that Israel enjoys absolute military superiority and therefore cannot be defeated in war. It followed from this that peace agreements, while useful and desirable, were not, in and of themselves, indispensable. An agreement that undermined Israel's military capability was, quite the contrary, dangerous and to be avoided, even if this meant war. The assumption has been that for Israel war was a safer and more certain alternative than any peace accord could possibly provide. What Vilnai seems to be saying is that it is no longer absolutely certain that Israel can prevail in a potential conflict. Therefore, the risks inherent in war have increased. Thus, the calculus between war and peace agreements has shifted as well. If Vilnai is correct, then peace accords may no longer be more dangerous than the military option.

This is an extraordinary shift and it has been announced by no other than the IDF's former deputy chief of staff. In many ways, this redefines the region. There are few things more important than to see whether Vilnai's view becomes widely accepted in the IDF and, if it is, to observe what Israel is going to do about it.


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End of DNI-NEWS Digest - 29 Jun 1998