Date: Mar 13, 1998 [ 0: 0: 0]

Subject: DNI-NEWS Digest - 11 Mar 1998 to 12 Mar 1998

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Subject: DNI-NEWS Digest - 11 Mar 1998 to 12 Mar 1998
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There are 8 messages totalling 392 lines in this issue.

Topics of the day:

1. Iranian diplomat barred from return following probe: reports
2. New commander appointed to head Iran's revolutionary force
3. Iranian government decides to privatise state companies
4. Clinton to greet wrestlers back from Iran trip
5. Baghdad, Tehran reach deal on Iranian pilgrimages to Iraq
6. Number of car accidents falls in Iran
7. Iranian in and out of jail, beset by three wives, creditors
8. fwd: Major Human Rights Symposium Planned

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Date: Fri, 13 Mar 1998 04:13:54 +0100
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Iranian diplomat barred from return following probe: reports

BUENOS AIRES, March 12 (AFP) - An Iranian cultural attache has
been barred from Argentina as a result of an investigation into
bombings of the Israeli embassy and a Jewish organization, news
reports said Thursday.
The newspapers Clarin and Pagina/12 said Moshen Rabbani, a
leading Shiite Moslem religious leader, was barred from returning
from a vacation in Iran in December.
The reports said the decision came amid growing evidence of
Iranian involvement in the March 1994 car bombing of the
headquarters of the Argentine Jewish Groups Federation that left 86
people dead and the 1992 blast at the Israeli embassy in the
Argentine capital, which killed 29.
A foreign ministry official declined to comment on the reports.
Rabbani was the leader of the At-Tahuid mosque in Buenos Aires,
which investigators believe was a meeting place for persons who may
have been involved in the attacks.


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Date: Fri, 13 Mar 1998 04:13:22 +0100
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: New commander appointed to head Iran's revolutionary force

TEHRAN, March 12 (AFP) - Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali
Khamenei has replaced the commander of the Basij militia, a force
created after the 1979 Islamic revolution in an ambitious drive to
set up a 20-million-strong army of volunteers, state radio and
television reported Thursday.
Khamenei, who is commander-in-chief of the armed forces, issued
a decree appointing Brigadier General Mohammad Hossein-Zadeh Hejazi
to the post, previously occupied by Brigadier General Ali-Reza
Afshar.
The move was made on the advice of the commander of the
Revolutionary Guards, General Yahya Rahim Safavi.
The Basij is part of the elite Revolutionary Guards.
General Safavi was himself appointed to his post last September,
replacing long-time Revolutionary Guards commander General Mohsen
Rezai.
The Basij was set up by the late founder of the Islamic republic
Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and it is made up mostly of young men
and women loyal to the ideals of the revolution.
But while the goal was to create a 20-million-strong army of
volunteers, the number of Basij fighters in the force does not
exceed several hundred thousand.
However, activists from mosques, schools, factories and
government offices operate under the same name, and they could be
easily mobilized for various purposes.
The former Basij chief said recently that he could enlist up to
five million, including many in schools who are the equivalent of
boyscouts.
The militiamen of all ages were recruited in their millions to
fight in the 1980-1988 war against Iraq and many were killed or left
handicapped.
The Basijis earned enormous praise for their courage, piety and
spirit of self-denial during the war.
But their profile dimmed after the war as the country embarked
on a drive for reconstruction and economic development.
The volunteers were edged off center-stage in universities,
government offices and factories, where their idealism and
traditionalism came into conflict with the pursuit of money and a
push for progress.
While for devout revolutionaries the Basij is symbol of
"martyrdom" and dignity, the more Westernized middle class remember
them as an intrusive group which regularly harassed them.
Many posing as militiamen in military fatigues set up
roadblocks, especially in the more affluent part of cities, to
search cars for any signs of "decadent" Western culture -- such as
alcoholic beverages, video and audio cassettes or drugs.
They are also allowed to enter private homes or offices to
confiscate anti-Islamic items, including satellite dishes which are
banned in the Islamic republic, or to stop young couples in the
street to establish their exact relationship.
But the militia also engages in "do-good" national projects,
such as nationwide vaccination drives, census-taking and
construction projects, as the government tries to shift the
ideological zeal of the youth militia towards economic development.
The parliament has passed many laws requiring that the Basijis
be given a share of the stocks in companies where they work, or
allocating them financial assistance to start their own businesses.
They constitute a large labor force unleashed after the war in
an economy plagued by recession and soaring unemployment.
The government has authorized many of them to enforce security
and Islamic law in parallel with the regular police, although the
two sometimes find it hard to get along.
Afshar, who was replaced as basij chief, had announced the
formation of a 300,000-strong militia force to enforce Islamic
regulations.


------------------------------

Date: Fri, 13 Mar 1998 04:14:22 +0100
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Iranian government decides to privatise state companies

TEHRAN, March 12 (AFP) - The Iranian government has decided to
privatise around 2,400 state-owned companies in a bid to improve
efficiency and reduce control over the economy, an official said
Thursday.
Government spokesman Ataollah Mohajerani said the decision was
made on Wednesday night in a meeting of the government council,
chaired by President Mohammad Khatami.
The move is in line with an article in next year's budget, which
demands a "reduction in the state control" over such firms, most of
which have been set up this decade by ministries and other
government bodies to increase their revenue.
Mohajerani, quoted by the official IRNA news agency, said 400 of
the companies were "important," of which 30 operate in the fields of
oil, petrochemicals, steel as well as water and power.
The 30 firms and a non-profit organisation account for nearly 90
percent of such government activities, he added.
The official gave assurances that the government would exercise
care in transferring the companies so as to "ensure social equity
and in a bid not to harm desirable management."
"We should act in a way not to make a group of people rich who
have not earned it," he said.
The council also ordered government agencies to save money given
the current fall in oil prices, and a budget deficit of around two
billion dollars for this fiscal year, ending March 20.
The government controls about 85 percent of the economy, oil
accounting for much of it, and there have been growing calls for
privatisation to improve efficiency in an economy plagued by
mismanagement and corruption.
However, past efforts at privatisation have not been successful,
and many officials and MPs have charged that a wave of transfers in
the early 1990s were marred by nepotism and poor judgement.
MP Kamal Daneshyar said recently that the authorities were
investigating possible violations in the transfer of a petrochemical
complex in the Gulf port of Imam Khomeini. The complex, he said was
sold at one-third of its real price and without authorisation.
Meanwhile, the private sector has been reluctant to make large
and strategic investments, especially in industry, given erratic
regulations, unpredictable tax laws and massive red tape.
After the 1979 Islamic revolution, the government nationalized
all banks and confiscated many industrial units and big agricultural
holdings.
But as private property is sacred in Islam, conservative clerics
opposed expropriation of property, and many conservative officials
now want a speedier privatization drive.
"The only way to solve the existing economic problems and ease
recession are to strenghten people's participation and investment in
production," said Mohsen Rafiqdoost, who heads the Foundation for
the Disinherited, a revolutionary body overseeing confiscated
properties.
He acknowledged however in a recent interview that "there is
little incentive for investment in industry because of crippling
restrictions and poor returns."
There has been growing criticism that state-owned companies are
a source of unaccountable revenues for government agencies and
engaged in unfair competition with the private sector given that
they benefit from government privileges.
"State banks, insurance and investment agencies hold a large
share of the country's wealth and do not allow others to enter the
market," said Rafiqdoost, quoted by Resalat newspaper.


------------------------------

Date: Fri, 13 Mar 1998 04:15:02 +0100
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Clinton to greet wrestlers back from Iran trip

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Clinton will Thursday greet
members of a U.S. wrestling team whose trip to Iran last month
was seen as an early sign of a possible thaw in the relationship
between the two countries.
Clinton's White House reception of the five amateur
wrestlers puts the presidential stamp of approval on their
groundbreaking trip to Tehran and continues a slow dance paced
by small gestures and people-to-people exchanges.
White House spokesman Mike McCurry said, however, the
diplomatic significance of the wrestlers' stop at the White
House should not be overstated.
``I think it's first of all to greet them and give them a
warm welcome,'' McCurry told reporters.
``It's also to recognize that the president has encouraged
people-to-people contact between Iran and the United States,
that that is something useful for both nations, although the
outstanding issues that we have in dispute with the government
of Iran clearly are best resolved in official
government-to-government dialogue,'' he said.
Iranian President Mohammad Khatami, in an interview with CNN
television in January, called for increased dialogue between the
people of Iran and the United States to break down what he
called a wall of mistrust.
Clinton then said in a speech to mark the end of the Muslim
fasting month of Ramadan that although Washington had ``real
differences with some Iran policies'' they were ``not
insurmountable.''
The wrestlers, Kevin Jackson, Zeke Jones, Melvin Douglas,
Shawn Charles and John Giura, were the first American sports
team to visit Iran since the 1979 Islamic revolution led to a
break in relations between the United States and Iran.
The wrestlers were warmly greeted and cheered by thousands
of Iranian fans, for whom wrestling is a revered national sport.
The visit brought comparisons to ``pingpong'' diplomacy of the
1970s in which American table tennis players visited China as a
prelude to improved ties between the two countries.
``Obviously there was a dynamic created by President
Khatami's remarks on CNN and the President (Clinton) responded
with a message to Iran,'' a U.S. official said Thursday.
``This continues, hopefully a step in the right direction,''
he said.

------------------------------

Date: Fri, 13 Mar 1998 04:12:31 +0100
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Baghdad, Tehran reach deal on Iranian pilgrimages to Iraq

BAGHDAD, March 12 (AFP) - Baghdad and Tehran have struck an
accord to organise pilgrimages for Iranians to holy Shiite Moslem
sites in Iraq, the official Iraqi news agency INA said on Thursday.
If the pilgrimages go ahead, they would be the first from Iran
since the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war and represent the latest step to
normalise relations between the two neighbours.
Tourism company officials from both countries signed an accord
two days ago to organise transport and lodgings for the pilgrims,
who will be greeted at the border by an Iraqi company and taken to
the holy sites by bus, INA said.
An Iranian embassy official here said that an Iranian delegation
left Baghdad on Thursday after signing the agreement.
Iraq opened its border with Iran to allow all Iranian pilgrims
to enter Iraq from September but Iran dismissed the offer as a
propaganda ploy and no Iranians crossed the frontier.
Tehran has long accused Baghdad of barring pilgrims from Shiite
Iran from visiting the most holy sites in Shia Islam, in Najaf and
Karbala, south of Baghdad.
Iran and Iraq have yet to sign a peace treaty, almost 10 years
after a UN-brokered ceasefire. The issue of prisoners of war is at
the top of a long list of outstanding issues.

------------------------------

Date: Fri, 13 Mar 1998 04:40:09 +0100
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Number of car accidents falls in Iran

TEHRAN, March 12 (AFP) - The number of road accidents fell in
Iran during the past year by 4.6 percent, and 786 fewer people were
killed compared to the previous year, the official IRNA news agency
reported Thursday.
The decline came after traffic accidents recorded a steady rise
in the previous five years, a traffic official told IRNA.
Iran is reported to have one of the highest rate of road
accidents in the world. According to official figures, there were
more than 200,000 car crashes during the Iranian year ending march
1997 with only three million cars on the road.
Around 5,000 people were killed in accidents during the same
period.
The Iranian parliament passed a law in October making it
obligatory to wear seat belts in cars and safety helmets on
motorcycles.
But as the new figure was released, a newspaper reported that
seven people in a car were killed on Wednesday in a collision with a
tanker truck near Sanandaj, the main city in western Kurdistan
province.

------------------------------

Date: Fri, 13 Mar 1998 04:41:15 +0100
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Iranian in and out of jail, beset by three wives, creditors

TEHRAN, March 12 (AFP) - An Iranian man has been in and out of
prison for the past year, sued alternately by his three wives, a
secret former spouse and several other people he cheated, a
newspaper reported Thursday.
A year ago, Saeed's three wives sued him after learning they had
a common husband, the daily Iran said.
But in front of the court they started fighting "tooth and
nail," and when their husband tried to intervene, they "beat him
unconscious."
In an about turn, Saeed, a real estate broker, became the
plaintiff and filed a suit against his wives, forcing them to pay
compensation.
But as he stepped out of the court, he was confronted by several
people who were suing him for cheating them out of their money by
selling them the same house, a fraud which cost him a three-year
jail sentence and 74 lashes of the whip.
Last week, Saeed was released on parole but, as he was preparing
to leave the prison with his three wives waiting outside to greet
him, a guard informed him that he had to return to his cell because
of a new suit filed against him, by a former wife.
Akram, 34, was suing because a check from her former husband had
bounced. Saeed had given her the check for seven million rials
(around 1,500 dollars) as a backup to his marriage vow, which is
customary in Iran.
But she charged that her former husband had "cheated me out of
my money then left me without any news."
"This man is a wolf in the guise of a sheep. He doesn't deserve
any pity," she told the judge, adding that she got a divorce in
absentia after two years.
The court sent Saeed back to prison.

------------------------------

Date: Fri, 13 Mar 1998 06:18:19 +0100
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: fwd: Major Human Rights Symposium Planned

A Major Symposium on Human Rights is planned as part of this year's
International Leadership Forum in Washington, D.C. The Human Rights portion
will take place on Monday June 15, 1998. To receive registration information
contact, “1998 International Leadership Forum,” c/o WashingtonInc., 1225
19th Street, N.W., 5th Floor, Washington, DC 20036, USA Telephone
202-828-7073 Fax 202-828-7092

American University WCL, Conference on Human Rights Claudio Grossman*,
Chairman IACHR -- .

Conference speakers:
Claudio Grossman, Chairman, Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, The
Inter-American System and the Protection of Human Rights.

Jose Miguel Vivanco, Executive Director, Human Rights Watch: The Role of
Non-Governmental Organizations in Promoting and Protecting Human Rights;

Professor Dinane Orentlicher, Washington College of Law: Individual
Responsibility and Accountability for Human Rights;

Professor Tom Buergenthal, George Washington University: Protection of
Human Rights and the United Nations

Mrs. Mary Robinson, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
(Invited)

THE 1998 INTERNATIONAL LEADERSHIP FORUM
The International Leadership Forum is scheduled to take place in
Washington, D.C. from June 12 through June 20, 1998. Please join us as
we explore the following 6 topic areas: (1) Human Rights (2) International
Trade (3) Health Care (4) The Environment (5) War/Conflict Resolution
(6) and; Religion. The Partial List of Distinguished Speakers includes†:

Her Majesty Queen Noor of Jordan
The Honorable Albert Gore, Vice President of the United States
HE Guillermo Belt, Inspector General of the OAS
The Right Honourable Manuel Esquivel, Prime Minister, Belize
HE Arnoldo Aleman Lacayo, President, Nicaragua
HE Abdul Salam Majali, Prime Minister, Jordan
HE Vicente Fox Quesada, Governor, Guanajuato, Mexico
HE Claudio Grossman, Chairman, Inter-Am’n Com’n on Human Rights
Mr. Peter Kelly, Former Finance Chairman, DNC, Washington
Amb. Everett Ellis Briggs, President, The Council of the Americas
Amb. Richard Holwill, Former U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State
Mr. Jose Aponte, Vice President, American Red Cross
Mr. Jack St. John, Former Dir, Bus. & Export Affairs, U.S. State Dept.
Mr. Jacques Fomerand, Director, UNU Office, New York
Mr. Anthony Robbins, Author, Personal Power
†All Speakers subject to Confirmation.

We will meet on a daily basis in working groups to identify the most
pressing problems within each topic area; ideally,we will propose
practicable steps where relevant. Experts will be on hand to facilitate the
discussions. The entire Forum will vote on the proposed solutions. Our
conclusions will be transcribed and presented as white papers to
international organizations, national governments,Non-Governmental
Organizations, and the Media.

The cost of the Forum includes roundtrip ground transfers,
accommodations, all breakfasts and dinners, three lunches, and access to all
symposiums. The Cost is $ 3500.00.* Full Payment MUST be received
by March 31, 1998. To receive registration information contact, “1998
International Leadership Forum ,” c/o WashingtonInc., 1225 19th Street,
N.W., 5th Floor, Washington, DC 20036, USA
Telephone 202-828-7073 Fax 202-828-7092
*Based on Double Occupancy: Single supplement add $ 750.00

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End of DNI-NEWS Digest - 11 Mar 1998 to 12 Mar 1998
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