DNI-NEWS Digest - 27 May 1998 to 28 May 1998

There are 6 messages totalling 523 lines in this issue.

Topics of the day:

1. Iran minister woos investments by Iranians abroad 2. SOME NEWS FROM jAME'EE 3. Irna: iran-khazali-independence 4. Irna:uk-iraq war damage 5. Irna:u.n.-iran-document 6. Scrappy Iran Paper a Barometer of Change Media

Iran minister woos investments by Iranians abroad

Iran minister woos investments by Iranians abroad 12:46 p.m. May 28, 1998 Eastern
By Firouz Sedarat

DUBAI, May 28 (Reuters) - Iran is hoping to boost non-oil exports and welcomes investments from Iranians abroad to deal with falling oil income due to a slump in petroleum prices, Iranian Industry Minister Gholamreza Shafei said on Thursday.

Speaking to Iranian businessmen in Dubai, Shafei invited the expatriates to take advantage of state-backed investment ventures, including in car parts manufacturing and electronics.

``We are hoping to raise non-oil exports by about 10 percent a year from last year's level of $3 billion. But even that is dependent on how our oil income shapes up because some exporting sectors depend on state allocations which come from oil revenues,'' Shafei told Reuters on the sidelines of the meeting.

His estimates were conservative compared to statements by some officials that non-oil exports would jump to nearly $5 billion within a few years, from their current depressed levels.

Shafei said Iran was planning to invest $500 million in car parts production in the Iranian year to March 1999 to limit imports and boost exports.

``The state already has set aside the $500 million, but it welcomes private participation. Iranians abroad can take advantage of this opportunity,'' Shafei told the businessmen.

The production of semi-conductors and electronic parts was another key area in which Iran was seeking to boost production with the help of investments from foreign firms and expatriates.

``This field advances fast and we feel it is imperative to have foreign partners who could assure transfer of technology so that we keep up with the latest developments,'' he said.

Shafei urged members of Dubai's Iranian Business Council -- many of whom are prominent businessmen involved in the emirate's large re-exports to Iran -- to help boost export industries in their homeland across the Gulf.

Iran is a major trade partner of the United Arab Emirates member state of Dubai, the home of a large Iranian community. Iran bought more than $400 million in re-exports from Dubai in the first seven months of 1997.

Several businessmen listed the power of Iran's state firms, labour laws in favour of workers, red-tape and inconsistent trade regulations as sources of concern for private investors.

``The labour laws are more left-wing than in most former socialist countries. One cannot fire a worker, even though he is clearly at fault,'' one businessman said.

The businessman also said investors would hardly enjoy fair competition with state ``economic empires'' and that many entrepreneurs felt threatened by an anti-graft drive against officials and businesspeople over alleged ill-gotten gains.

Shafei tried to ease concerns by saying the state was providing tax holidays and giving priority to the private sector, and denied that the labour laws were unusual.

``Which protection do we have for our workers which other industrial countries do not have?'' Shafei asked.

An official accompanying Shafei said an employer could not fire a worker on the spot, but could dismiss him after going through a legal procedure involving input by a labour council.

Businessmen at the meeting said the tone of the discussion reflected the more open atmosphere in Iran since the election a year ago of moderate President Mohammad Khatami.

Shafei dismissed concern expressed by one businessman over Khatami's cabinet being unable to carry out its programmes in face of opposition by large state-affiliated economic conglomerates run by conservatives critical of the government.

He said the government was working actively to deal with the main sources of complaints by cutting red-tape and making regulations more stable.

The Islamic republic, set up after the 1979 Islamic revolution, has in recent years actively courted Iranians living abroad for their know-how and capital.

Iran, the world's third largest oil exporter after Saudi Arabia and Norway, has been badly hit by the current slump in oil prices.

Tehran relies on petrodollars for around 80 percent of hard currency earnings and up to 40 percent of government revenue.


SOME NEWS FROM jAME'EE

Thursday, May 28, 1998

Scrappy Iran Paper a Barometer of Change Media: Tehran daily adds irreverent voice to a growing industry. Openness is not embraced by all. By ROBIN WRIGHT, Times Staff Writer

TEHRAN--It broke the story of the Revolutionary Guard commander's behind-closed-doors speech calling for the beheading of Iran's new reformers. It interviewed a former Iranian official freed after 15 years in prison as a U.S. spy. It dares to cover the misadventures of a secretive group of religious radicals known as Ansar-e Hezbollah, or Helpers of the Party of God.

And now Tehran's latest newspaper, Jameh, may get the scoop of its short life: The White House has confirmed that it has approved in principle Jameh's request for an interview with U.S. National Security Advisor Samuel R. "Sandy" Berger--in what would be the first contact between a White House official and the Iranian press in the generation since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Jameh, however, has already made history. Launched in February, the gutsy little paper--16 pages of unconventional news, commentary, acerbic satire, political cartoons and culture--has become a barometer of the sweeping changes in Iran since reformist President Mohammad Khatami took office in August.

"Jameh has two functions: We are trying to build up the level of democratic discourse, and we are a good test case to see how much freedom the government can tolerate," said Jameh's editor, Mashallah Shamsole Waizin.

The appetite for both is high: Kiosk owners say they can barely keep Jameh on the stands, even though it publishes twice a day--and three times on a good news day.

But so are the dangers: Angered by the newspaper's openness, a mob stormed Jameh's provincial office in the northern city of Rasht twice earlier this month, breaking windows and equipment, beating up staff and seizing copies of the paper.

It is also facing growing challenges from political conservatives and even other papers. Recently, the conservative Islamic Republic newspaper charged Jameh with "deviating remarks violating Iran's ideals," "abusing the open climate of dialogue" and "opportunism."

Jameh's coverage of the Revolutionary Guard chief's pledge to "root out antirevolutionaries wherever they are" ignited a firestorm of criticism.

Kayhan, one of Tehran's oldest papers, reported that the Jameh story was "forged with no regard to moral, legal and security consideration."

Jameh boldly shot back that Cmdr. Rahim Safavi's "revolutionary tone and martyrdom-seeking" belonged to a bygone period. And it advised him to "speak with a civil and lawful tone," as the constitution stipulates.

Jameh is not the only new voice in Iran. More than a quarter of the country's 991 licensed newspapers, magazines and periodicals have been authorized to operate over the past nine months, although not all of those have begun publishing. Tehran alone has 21 newspapers. Many older publications are also covering once-untouched topics and offering outlets for diverse opinions.

In a weekend speech marking the one-year anniversary of his election, Khatami observed: "The most stable and lasting system is the one which creates the least limitations to freedom of expression. In my view, freedom means freedom of thought and the security to express those thoughts without fear of prosecution."

But more than any other paper, Jameh is a microcosm of the change in Iran's political climate--and in many of Tehran's revolutionaries a generation after they toppled the monarchy.

"I as a revolutionary man do not believe today in revolution, but in evolution," said Hamid Jalaii, Jameh's ever-cheerful publisher, who is already talking of London and New York bureaus while admitting that resources are slim. "After struggling for five years, I've grown from having an ideological viewpoint to believing in pluralism."

Jameh, which is Persian for "society," pledges to offer a forum for all society's sectors.

Editor Waizin comes from a long line of Shiite clergymen and was so active against Iran's last shah that he spent a year in prison. Today, he advocates a meritocracy rather than a theocracy.

"I don't believe the clergy alone should run Iran. The clergy can be part of political activity, but participation should be based on merit," he said.

The paper's approach to news is also original. A recent issue led with a story that police would no longer stop young unmarried males and females caught together unless a complaint was filed. The cover photo was an arty shot of Iranian men doing a traditional exercise-dance outdoors.

Not a single Iranian politician, still staple fare in most papers, made the front page. Even letters to the editor contained news that wasn't reported in other papers, including a student demonstration against bad water and the detention of a controversial cleric's supporters.

"We're not cliched," Jalaii said in the modest Tehran home that has been converted into editorial offices for Jameh's staff of 45 young male and female reporters.

Although they are Khatami backers, Jameh's editors have also criticized the new leadership.

Not everyone agrees that the new openness is in Iran's interest. In fact, in the past few weeks an angry controversy has erupted over just how much freedom the press should have, illustrating the fears as well as the hopes here as the Islamic Republic moves into a new era.

At a rally Tuesday, 20,000 conservative students and professors at Qom's School of Theology protested recent openings in society, including press freedom. They warned "liberals, supporters of the former regime and mercenary writers in the pay of foreign intelligence services to stop their devilish acts in the press aimed at stripping the society of holy values." Skeptics and conservatives contend that Iran will crumble into chaos with so many freedoms and so many media outlets.

"This period of freedom is like a premature child that needs to be watched carefully," said Kiumars Saberi, Iran's leading satirist, whose pen name is Golagha.

"My fear is that using freedom to extremes will result in chaos, not stability, that will be followed by new limitations," Saberi said, predicting that Jameh and other papers like it are now "riding a wave" and will be short-lived.

Yet the editors of Jameh and other papers argue that the odds favor openness, in part because of changes in Iran's readership since the revolution.

Since 1979, literacy has grown from 58% to 82%, even with the population almost doubling. The number of university graduates has soared from 430,000 to more than 4 million. "Jameh is the result of the past two decades and the rise in education," Waizin said. "Modernism is now challenging tradition--and winning."

Another big factor is an enormous demographic shift: More than two-thirds of the population is now younger than 25. And the young, whose vast numbers played the most pivotal role in putting Khatami in power, are also Jameh's biggest readers.

The new freedoms have more supporters than detractors, editors argue. "The experts who have something to say today take the press more seriously," said Mohammed Atrian, the editor of Hamshahri. "So does the public, and they are not going to let go of this."

In gentle defiance of conservatives and revolutionary holdovers, Khatami's government is also taking a stand on a more open press. "If we do not agree with the stance of a particular publication . . . this personal attitude should not prevent its existence," Culture Minister Ataollah Mohajerani said earlier this month at Tehran's press fair.

Iran's press, which has always reflected the country's diverse and often squabbling political factions, still has a long way to go by Western standards. And because most publications depend on official subsidies to help pay for newsprint, the government has strong leverage over the print media.

Jameh's editors claim that nothing could alter their commitment. Nor are they afraid they are contributing to future chaos.

"We know Iran's democracy is today a minefield," Waizin said. "We like to think of ourselves as the mine finders."

Copyright Los Angeles Times


Irna: iran-khazali-independence

thr 003
iran-khazali-independence

khazali: president khatami must publicly confess to his mistake tehran, may 29, irna -- member of the guardians' council of ayatollah khazali said here thursday that the history is repeating itself taking a deviasive course once again in iran but that the people are now well-informed.

he said "i hope this mistake will immediatly be corrected. i request our president to declare this mistake unequivocally."

the president must frankly admit his mistakes at a public assembly, or else i fear the slap on the face by god and by the people.

the president must say that he committed a mistake, and that those words were proper to the church... in reality the allaho-akbar was gone, with the people clapping hands and whistling in the month of moharram. that was good gesture. that incident helped enlight the people. the people in qom realized immediately and they took to the streets... what kind of freedom is it?

they whistle instead of saying a salavat and they clap their hands instead of salavat.

can the constitution be changed by demonstrations? or the experts assembly?

you said 30 million votes for mr khatami. do you want to rewirte the constitution? they inveigh against the judiciary, today they attack the experts assembly...

what are these problems that are propounded today as islamic issues?

he cited a number of verses from the holy qoran saying government is only the authority of allah.

today, islam does not know borders. or republics. or arabs or non-arabs. arabs, non-arabs and afghans are the same nation. this is not confined within water or land territories. islam says all are the same nation...

i must say frankly that what happened here on the second day of khordad was a slap on the face of islam... what has happened in iran in the name of freedoms during the recent days have been against the holy qoran.
hr/dh
end
::irna 29/05/98 01:27


Irna:uk-iraq war damage

thr 010
uk-iraq war damage

uk dismisses iraqi demands for war damages london, may 28, irna -- britain thursday attempted to play down suggestions that iraq had claimed war damages for the alleged use of `radio-active' shells by the uk and u.s. during the 1991 allied war.

foreign office officials were reported by the financial times thursday to have dismissed the claims as "rubbish." the diplomatic editor of the guardian, ian black, claimed iraq was opening up a "new front in its propaganda war" with the west by demanding compensation.

the reaction follows iraqi foreign minister mohammad saeed al- sahaf making a complaint in a letter to the un secretary general kofi annan that the uk and the u.s. exposed vast areas of iraq to "fatal radioactive pollution" by using depleted uranium shells.

he referred to an admission by british foreign office minister derek fatchett in a parliamentary letter on april 30 of the "potential to cause adverse health effects" if depleted uranium was ingested, inhaled or absorbed.

the uk defense ministry also played down the iraqi complaint, saying it had not yet been informed but added that the british government has "never attempted to conceal" the use of depleted uranium to weight tank shells during the war.

western evidence is beginning to bear out claims by iraqi doctors that the residue from shells may be a grave health hazard and a cause of an upsurge in a number of unfamiliar cancer illnesses being registered in iraq, like strange skin diseases and bone deformities.

veteran labor mp, tam dalyell, who has campaigned for the lifting of sanctions against iraq, does not believe compensation is a realistic but suggests depleted uranium may be one of the causes of the so-called persian gulf war syndrome suffered by servicemen.

britain is reckoned to have fired around 100 tank shells with depleted uranium during the 1991 war but says that u.s. troops fired considerably more. hc/rr end ::irna 28/05/98 14:01


Irna:u.n.-iran-document

thr 013 u.n.-iran-document

fm statement on caspian sea legal status published as sc document united nations, new york, may 28, irna -- a statement released by iran's foreign ministry in response to an statement by kazakh foreign ministry on the caspian sea legal regime, was published as a u.n. security council document on wednesday.

the kazakh foreign ministry issued a statement on february 13, 1998 following the country's consultations with russia. the statement referred to parts of the caspian sea as 'kazakh part' and 'russian part'.

iran's foreign ministry statement stressed that using such expressions violates not only the current legal regime of the sea but also the agreement reached between the caspian sea littoral states on november 11, 1996 in ashkhabad.

as long as the sea's legal regime is not determined through a consensus of all the littoral states, the current regime is indispensible and any attempt to divide the sea is unacceptable, the statement stated.

the current legal regime of the caspian sea is based on iran-russia friendship accord signed on februay 26, 1921, as well as tehran-moscow trade and navigation accord of march 25, 1940, it said adding, the accords have nothing to do with the sea demarcation.

the statement stressed the fact that according to international regulations, the newly emerged countries after the collapse of the former soviet union should abide by the obligations made by the soviet union.

the islamic republic of iran welcomes any move to establish order in the caspian sea's affairs by the littoral states, it said, adding iran believes that any measure not approved by all littoral states is unacceptable.

it concluded by reiterating that such measures neither provide any right for any country involved nor entails any commitment for third countries.
fs/rr
end
::irna 28/05/98 14:36


Scrappy Iran Paper a Barometer of Change Media

Scrappy Iran Paper a Barometer of Change Media: Tehran daily adds irreverent voice to a growing industry. Openness is not embraced by all.
By ROBIN WRIGHT, Times Staff Writer

EHRAN--It broke the story of the Revolutionary Guard commander's behind-closed-doors speech calling for the beheading of Iran's new reformers. It interviewed a former Iranian official freed after 15 years in prison as a U.S. spy. It dares to cover the misadventures of a secretive group of religious radicals known as Ansar-e Hezbollah, or Helpers of the Party of God. And now Tehran's latest newspaper, Jameh, may get the scoop of its short life: The White House has confirmed that it has approved in principle Jameh's request for an interview with U.S. National Security Advisor Samuel R. "Sandy" Berger--in what would be the first contact between a White House official and the Iranian press in the generation since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Jameh, however, has already made history. Launched in February, the gutsy little paper--16 pages of unconventional news, commentary, acerbic satire, political cartoons and culture--has become a barometer of the sweeping changes in Iran since reformist President Mohammad Khatami took office in August.
"Jameh has two functions: We are trying to build up the level of democratic discourse, and we are a good test case to see how much freedom the government can tolerate," said Jameh's editor, Mashallah Shamsole Waizin. The appetite for both is high: Kiosk owners say they can barely keep Jameh on the stands, even though it publishes twice a day--and three times on a good news day. But so are the dangers: Angered by the newspaper's openness, a mob stormed Jameh's provincial office in the northern city of Rasht twice earlier this month, breaking windows and equipment, beating up staff and seizing copies of the paper. It is also facing growing challenges from political conservatives and even other papers. Recently, the conservative Islamic Republic newspaper charged Jameh with "deviating remarks violating Iran's ideals," "abusing the open climate of dialogue" and "opportunism." Jameh's coverage of the Revolutionary Guard chief's pledge to "root out antirevolutionaries wherever they are" ignited a firestorm of criticism. Kayhan, one of Tehran's oldest papers, reported that the Jameh story was "forged with no regard to moral, legal and security consideration." Jameh boldly shot back that Cmdr. Rahim Safavi's "revolutionary tone and martyrdom-seeking" belonged to a bygone period. And it advised him to "speak with a civil and lawful tone," as the constitution stipulates.
Jameh is not the only new voice in Iran. More than a quarter of the country's 991 licensed newspapers, magazines and periodicals have been authorized to operate over the past nine months, although not all of those have begun publishing. Tehran alone has 21 newspapers. Many older publications are also covering once-untouched topics and offering outlets for diverse opinions. In a weekend speech marking the one-year anniversary of his election, Khatami observed: "The most stable and lasting system is the one which creates the least limitations to freedom of expression. In my view, freedom means freedom of thought and the security to express those thoughts without fear of prosecution." But more than any other paper, Jameh is a microcosm of the change in Iran's political climate--and in many of Tehran's revolutionaries a generation after they toppled the monarchy. "I as a revolutionary man do not believe today in revolution, but in evolution," said Hamid Jalaii, Jameh's ever-cheerful publisher, who is already talking of London and New York bureaus while admitting that resources are slim. "After struggling for five years, I've grown from having an ideological viewpoint to believing in pluralism." Jameh, which is Persian for "society," pledges to offer a forum for all society's sectors. Editor Waizin comes from a long line of Shiite clergymen and was so active against Iran's last shah that he spent a year in prison. Today, he advocates a meritocracy rather than a theocracy. "I don't believe the clergy alone should run Iran. The clergy can be part of political activity, but participation should be based on merit," he said. The paper's approach to news is also original. A recent issue led with a story that police would no longer stop young unmarried males and females caught together unless a complaint was filed. The cover photo was an arty shot of Iranian men doing a traditional exercise-dance outdoors.
Not a single Iranian politician, still staple fare in most papers, made the front page. Even letters to the editor contained news that wasn't reported in other papers, including a student demonstration against bad water and the detention of a controversial cleric's supporters. "We're not cliched," Jalaii said in the modest Tehran home that has been converted into editorial offices for Jameh's staff of 45 young male and female reporters. Although they are Khatami backers, Jameh's editors have also criticized the new leadership. Not everyone agrees that the new openness is in Iran's interest. In fact, in the past few weeks an angry controversy has erupted over just how much freedom the press should have, illustrating the fears as well as the hopes here as the Islamic Republic moves into a new era. At a rally Tuesday, 20,000 conservative students and professors at Qom's School of Theology protested recent openings in society, including press freedom. They warned "liberals, supporters of the former regime and mercenary writers in the pay of foreign intelligence services to stop their devilish acts in the press aimed at stripping the society of holy values." Skeptics and conservatives contend that Iran will crumble into chaos with so many freedoms and so many media outlets. "This period of freedom is like a premature child that needs to be watched carefully," said Kiumars Saberi, Iran's leading satirist, whose pen name is Golagha. "My fear is that using freedom to extremes will result in chaos, not stability, that will be followed by new limitations," Saberi said, predicting that Jameh and other papers like it are now "riding a wave" and will be short-lived. Yet the editors of Jameh and other papers argue that the odds favor openness, in part because of changes in Iran's readership since the revolution. Since 1979, literacy has grown from 58% to 82%, even with the population almost doubling. The number of university graduates has soared from 430,000 to more than 4 million. "Jameh is the result of the past two decades and the rise in education," Waizin said.
"Modernism is now challenging tradition--and winning." Another big factor is an enormous demographic shift: More than two-thirds of the population is now younger than 25. And the young, whose vast numbers played the most pivotal role in putting Khatami in power, are also Jameh's biggest readers. The new freedoms have more supporters than detractors, editors argue. "The experts who have something to say today take the press more seriously," said Mohammed Atrian, the editor of Hamshahri. "So does the public, and they are not going to let go of this." In gentle defiance of conservatives and revolutionary holdovers, Khatami's government is also taking a stand on a more open press. "If we do not agree with the stance of a particular publication . . . this personal attitude should not prevent its existence," Culture Minister Ataollah Mohajerani said earlier this month at Tehran's press fair. Iran's press, which has always reflected the country's diverse and often squabbling political factions, still has a long way to go by Western standards. And because most publications depend on official subsidies to help pay for newsprint, the government has strong leverage over the print media. Jameh's editors claim that nothing could alter their commitment. Nor are they afraid they are contributing to future chaos.
"We know Iran's democracy is today a minefield," Waizin said. "We like to think of ourselves as the mine finders."


End of DNI-NEWS Digest - 27 May 1998 to 28 May 1998
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