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Subject: DNI-NEWS Digest - 15 Mar 1999 to 16 Mar 1999

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Subject: DNI-NEWS Digest - 15 Mar 1999 to 16 Mar 1999
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There are 9 messages totalling 504 lines in this issue.

Topics of the day:

1. Liberalism
2. Three Iranian girls charged with dressing as boys
3. UAE paper accuses Iran of sowing discord in Gulf
4. Iran steps up calls for US investment in oil, gas sectors
5. Gulf ministers urge Iran to settle island dispute peacefully
6. Five Iranian moderates barred from Tehran council: paper
7. Iranian conservative warns France over Rushdie
8. Former Tehran mayor gets approval for new paper
9. Iran sees oil market regaining stability


Date: Tue, 16 Mar 1999 10:19:57 -0500
From: Mehran Sam <msam@HMS.HARVARD.EDU>
Subject: Liberalism

Liberalism, the Political Structure of the Iranian Community
By: Dr. Sadeq Zibakalam



From the first day of victory of Islamic Revolution the
Marxist forces started to use the term `liberalism' as a lever to
define a number of moderate figures and groups that had entered the
Revolution, its main target being the provisional government.
However, gradually when difference arose between the provisional
government and a number of clerics and Islamic revolutionary figures,
the same term was used to condemn and deface the government. Nowadays
`liberalism' has to a great extent lost its negative
anti-revolutionary weight.


Personally I don't know any political culture in which the liberal and
`liberalism' is used to insult or debase. Sometime back I had an
interview with a Japanese journalist. Of the topics discussed the
journalist expressed his complete surprise about our definition of

Apparently in an interview with a right wing religious personality
when the reporter had told the man that the subject that he was
quoting was one of the principles of `liberalism', he violently
retorted by saying that he was in no way linked to `liberalism' and
sharply opposed that school of thought.

The reporter who had become surprised with that reaction was asking me
why was that clergyman so sensitive against the term `liberalism'. He
was right to be surprised. Because neither in Japan nor in any other
country `liberalism' brings shame or glory.

`Liberal' or `liberalism' are not the only terms that are looked as
negative, insulting or abusive. `Western-oriented', `affiliate,
`bourgeois', `arrogant', `careless right people', `Freemasons',
`affiliated', `penetrative agent' and `politically isolated or
bankrupt' are also abusive terms that compose our arsenal. Recently
those related to the right wing are using `suspicious' which has many
interpretations such as `the suspicious figures are plotting to cause
difference among state officials', or `suspicious figures intend to
divide peoples and groups, or `within the open political atmosphere a
number of suspicious elements in newspapers are plotting', or `
suspicious figures and enemy agents have targeted the pillars of the
System and are misleading our youth, causing unrest in universities,
are disturbing the community, are discrediting our sanctities, etc.'

Actually the term `suspicious figure' is being applied by the right
wing to a large portion of the population and despite serious and
continued struggle against `liberalism' it seems that a big part of
our political system is composed of liberals who should be naturally
plotting against the government.

But why has `liberalism' found such a bitter fate in our country? Was
always `liberalism' so much hated and debated in our community? The
answer to these questions is negative. The fact is that from a certain
era in our politics `liberalism' was attacked as a loathsome and
detestable political institution. This period commences from the first
year after the victory of Islamic Revolution up to now. Before that
`liberalism' was interpreted as a political term like other political
terms which had no important role. In fact our political figures
considered themselves as liberals. Meanwhile no political faction used
that term against other faction. But gradually and from the first days
of victory of the Revolution it were the leftist Marxists figures who
applied that term to a certain moderate factions within the
Revolution. At first it was the Toodeh Party which used that
interpretation and immediately after that other leftist groups such as
the Fadayiyoun militia, the Mojahedin Organization and the Union of
Iranian Communists, the Labor and Farmers Party and big and small
Marxist parties and figures and left wing papers imitated the Toodeh
Party and attacked the liberals.

But who are these liberals and to which political group they belong?
In reply I must say that the main opponent of the left during the
provisional government was Bazargan. During its attack against the
provisional government and moderate Islamic groups, the left did fail
to use every tactic to attack them. The list of sins and crimes
committed by the provisional government was very large. Some of the
charges leveled against that government were conciliation, having
secret ties with the United States, wishing to boost relations with
the West and specially the U.S., supporting the rich, preserving the
army, repelling progressive forces, they failed to support the
laborers and they supported the bourgeois and the rich. However,
instead of repeating this long list of libels, the leftist faction
sufficed to attack them under the term `liberal'. In other words a
liberal was considered a person in the community who possessed all
these qualities and such a quality as a whole was applied to the
provisional government. Meanwhile thanks to steady and regular
efforts by the left faction liberals were gradually construed as
affiliated, suspicious, conciliatory, western-oriented figures and
factions - or immoral and non-revolutionary persons.

As mentioned above in the beginning it were the Marxists who were
trying to invalidate the provisional revolutionary government by the
term `liberalism'. But gradually difference erupted between the
provisional government and a number of clerics and Islamic
revolutionary figures and these anti-government forces resorted to
that label to lash out at the new government particularly after the
resignation of the provisional government in 1979. In the meantime the
non-religious left and religious left charged the provisional
government and its officials as well as other parties with liberalism
without having any philosophical or political, ideological or
historical information about that term. In fact the distorted `left'
definition was enough for the clerics or other leftist religious
figures to combat the government. Interestingly enough the Late Imam
made little use of this term to fight Muslim groups.

But contrary to the Late Imam many clerics and particularly left wing
politicians used this expression relentlessly against a wide spectrum
of moderate religious and non-religious groups including the
nationalists and specially late engineer Bazargan and his Freedom
Movement Party. Apart from the leftist clerics, other figures and
leftist Islamic factions did not fail to attack the liberals. In fact
from the early days of assuming power in 1981 the reigning leftist
faction launched a widespread onslaught against liberalism. Majlis
Speaker Hojjatoleslam Mahdi Karroubi, Head of judiciary Mousavi
Ardabili and Prime Minister Hossein Mousavi, the press, IRIB and
Friday prayer leaders made a regular attack against liberalism.

To this one must add the Islamic Republican Party , the Unity
Consolidation Bureau, the Islamic Revolutionary Mojahedin Organization
and several well known left wing figures such as Hojjatoleslam Seyyed
Ali Akbar Mohtashami, Behzad Nabavi, Dr. Saeed Hajjarian,
Hojjatoleslam Abdollah Nouri, Seyyed Mostafa Tajzadeh, Hojjatoleslam
Assadollah Bayat, Hojjatoleslam Sadeq Khalkhali and many other leftist
personalities. Aside from Islamic left faction several other Islamic
figures such as Ezzatollah Sahabi, Dr. Habibollah Peyman and the
writers of Iran Farda monthly did not fail to criticize or attack
liberalism. `Liberalism, paved the way for imperialism' is an
interesting title used by Dr. Peyman and many left wing Islamic
personalities including the Toodeh Party to fight liberalism. At the
end one must refer to a wide spectrum of the right faction. Both
during their reign and when they were off the saddle - i.e. from 1989
onward and particularly from May 23 presidential elections - these
parties resorted to this tool to defeat and eliminate their
opponents. Among these the revolutionary hot head radicals, those who
struggled against the U.S. and liberalism, many faithful, religious,
national and patriotic figures, those who had been tortured under the
Shah's regime, those who believed in liberty and civil society, rule
of law, limited government power or freedom of speech and pen, freedom
of films were pushed to the margin and buried under tons of debris by
bulldozers which fought liberalism as if they were criminal bankrupt
figures, delinquents or unfavorable social figures.

None of those who are present advocates of civil society did say
anything or write any article in defense of Madani, the political
figure of the contemporary Iranian history who was attacked for being
liberal. On the contrary in a competition to attack and persecute late
Bazargan the leftist forces were trying not to be left behind.

This tragedy was of course indispensable. It was a price that both
Islamic and non-Islamic factions had to pay to achieve political
growth and perfection. What the left wing was unaware of was that
after this wave of attacks against liberalism, they would become the
next target for attacks which actually happened. Liberalism was a path
builder but not to impair imperialism but to damage civil society,
liberty, law obedience which did not benefit neither the Revolution
nor Islam or Iran.

On the contrary it benefited dogmatism, authoritarian and despotic
inclinations. Of course the glorious Islamic Revolution greatly
accelerated political growth in our community and we should forget the
radical moves and fervors of the first few years following the victory
of the Revolution which was indispensable.

The fact is that liberalism has less negative weight and anti-value
weight these days. Of course as we are aware the right and
conservative faction is still trying to use the weak and ancient
liberalism taboo to attack its opponents. But the fact is that a large
portion of our community has matured and revolutionized during this
last two decades. If a decade ago those who attacked freedom with
liberalism libel could find followers or credit among people, such a
tactic has greatly lost its political credit and virtue. One reason
for resorting to terms such as `suspicious groups' or `suspicious
elements' or `those who are trying to plot' proves that the liberalism
libel has lost its credit and importance.


Date: Tue, 16 Mar 1999 23:50:46 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Three Iranian girls charged with dressing as boys

TEHRAN, March 16 (AFP) - Three teenaged Iranian girls were
brought before a Tehran court for walking the streets of the capital
dressed as boys, the Iranian newspaper Khorassan reported Tuesday.
"We always dreamed of being boys," the three told the judge
Monday, adding that they had defied the Islamic republic's strict
female dress code in order to be "left alone."
Parastou, Elnaz and Mojghan -- ages 15, 16 and 17 respectively
-- were also charged with leaving their family homes without
"I was working in a hair salon and one day Elnaz and Mojghan
came and asked me to cut their hair very short," Parastou told the
"That's when I knew they had a cool plan," she said, adding that
she took part to show her "solidarity" with the other two.
Elnaz told the court that her parents had always wanted a son
and that her mother particularly regretted that she is a girl, the
paper said.
Mojghan said she had been abused by her stepfather and said that
to be left alone she would "have to live as a boy."
Faced with their transvestite tales the judged ruled himself
incompetent in the matter and referred the case to another court.


Date: Tue, 16 Mar 1999 23:50:53 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: UAE paper accuses Iran of sowing discord in Gulf

DUBAI, March 16 (AFP) - Iran is trying to divide the Gulf Arab
states over the issue of its occupation of three islands claimed by
the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the Al-Khaleej newspaper said
"Iranian officials, including foreign minister Kamal Kharazi,
are now so vain that they have asked the Gulf states to change their
attitude and have tried to make the UAE back down on its claim on
the islands," the daily said.
"When will our Iranian neighbours realise that their attempts to
divide the ranks of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) on the
islands question is doomed to fail and shows their bad intentions?"
the newspaper said.
The daily, which is close to the government, said the GCC
resolution adopted in Riyadh on Monday "was a clear message to Iran.
It was necessary now because of the attitude Tehran adopted after
the GCC meeting" in Abu Dhabi.
The six Gulf Arab states on Monday called on Iran to peacefully
resolve its conflict with the UAE over the islands of Abu Musa and
the Greater and Lesser Tunbs and stop taking unilateral action.
The six states held an extraordinary meeting earlier this month,
during which that demanded that Iran "immediately" cease its
military exercises near the islands.
Iran has controlled the islands since 1971 after Britain ended
its protectorate but rejects arbitration, claiming the islands as
its territory, and has in the past offered talks on Abu Musa alone.
The UAE's Al-Bayan newspaper, which is also close to the
government, on Tuesday said the GCC statement "comes at a critical
moment and shows the Gulf state's firmness" on the islands issue.
A hardline Iranian paper stepped up the war of words with the
UAE over the disputed islands on Tuesday, demanding Tehran recall
its ambassador from Abu Dhabi.
Iran should break off "all commercial and touristic ties with
this tiny country led by a subservient sheikh," the Jomhuri Islami
(Islamic Republic) paper said, pressing for the immediate recall of
Iran's ambassador to the UAE.


Date: Tue, 16 Mar 1999 23:51:13 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Iran steps up calls for US investment in oil, gas sectors

TEHRAN, March 15 (AFP) - Tehran again challenged Washington on
Monday to allow US firms to do business in Iran's oil and gas
sectors and end sanctions against the Islamic republic.
"It's time that the United States revised its policy and
attitude and opened the way for US companies to take part in oil and
gas development projects in Iran," Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi
US policy is "hurting American companies," he said, quoted by
the official IRNA news agency.
Kharazi announced last week that US firms face "no obstacle" to
doing business in Iran's oil industry, an indirect challenge to the
unilateral total embargo Washington imposed on Tehran in 1995.
Washington's policy has been coming under increasing attack from
US oil executives.
The policy "has created more problems than it solved," Michael
Stinson, senior vice president of oil giant Conoco, told the Senate
International Relations Committee earlier this month.
"I find it almost tragic that the French are building relations
in Iran in ways we cannot," he said.
French oil firm Elf Aquitaine and Italy's ENI signed a 540
million dollar deal in early March to develop Iran's Doroud oil
field in a direct challenge to the so-called D'Amato law.
The 1996 legislation calls for sanctions on foreign firms
investing more than 20 million dollars in the energy sectors of Iran
and Libya, countries Washington accuses of supporting terrorism.s


Date: Tue, 16 Mar 1999 23:50:59 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Gulf ministers urge Iran to settle island dispute peacefully

RIYADH, March 15 (AFP) - Gulf Arab foreign ministers insisted
Monday that Iran end its "occupation" of three strategic Gulf
islands and settle its sovereignty dispute with the United Arab
Emirates peacefully.
The statement by the Gulf Cooperation Council is the latest
broadside in the escalating war of words over the potentially
oil-rich islands of Abu Musa and the Lesser and Greater Tunbs
claimed by both Iran and the UAE.
The six GCC members demanded at the end of a two-day meeting
here that Iran "end its occupation of the three islands, stop
implementing by force a 'status quo' policy and stop erecting
Iranian installations on the islands, a move aimed at changing their
demographic composition."
Earlier this month the UAE accused Iran of violating its
territory by launching military exercises near the three islands and
also protested against Iran's opening of a town hall on Abu Musa.
The GCC foreign ministers from Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar,
Saudi Arabia and the UAE called on Iran to settle the conflict
"peacefully and in line with international law, either through
direct negotiations or the International Court of Justice."
Iran has controlled the islands since 1971 after Britain ended
its protectorate but rejects arbitration, claiming the islands as
its territory, and has in the past offered talks on Abu Musa alone.


Date: Tue, 16 Mar 1999 23:51:05 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Five Iranian moderates barred from Tehran council: paper

TEHRAN, March 15 (AFP) - The election of five moderates to the
Tehran municipal council has been annulled, a newspaper said Monday,
as Iran's conservatives stepped up the pressure to overturn the
sweeping victory by reformers in last month's elections.
Former interior minister Abdollah Nuri and four other backers of
reformist President Mohammad Khatami will not to be allowed to take
their seats on the council by orders of the conservative-dominated
Supervision Board, the pro-government newspaper Sobh-e-Emrouz said.
It said Nuri, one of Iran's several vice-presidents, as well as
Ahmad Hakimi-Pour and Mohammad Atrianfar had been disqualified
because they had not resigned from their official posts before
standing as candidates.
The election of Sobh-e-Emrouz director and former deputy
intelligence minister Said Hajarian was annulled due to the
"ambiguous nature" of his written commitment to the constitutional
principle of the supreme rule of the nation's spiritual leader.
Ebrahim Asgharzadeh, a leader among the radical 1979
hostage-takers at the US embassy in Tehran, was disqualified because
of his judicial record with a revolutionary court, the paper said.
The Supervision Board, under control of parliamentary
conservatives, had threatened to bar the men ahead of the February
26 elections but they were allowed to stand after last-minute
intervention by Khatami.
Conservative efforts to overturn the election results began in
earnest last week when influential MP Ahmad Rasoolinejad called for
the impeachment of Interior Minister Abdol-Vahed Mussavi-Lari over
his ministry's handling of the elections.
Rasoolinejad said there had been "thousands of complaints" filed
with election authorities about the polling, which he said was rife
with illegalities.
Mussavi-Lari had earlier raised the ire of conservatives by
saying that the new municipal officials elected across the country
will provide "strong support" for Khatami's reformist government.
The results of the vote "paved the way for popular participation
in the administration of the society's affairs," he said.
But conservative judiciary chief Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi warned
local officials to keep well away from the broader political
struggle nationwide between reformers and conservatives.
"You were elected as local officials and should concern
yourselves with local problems, and keep out of factional and
partisan disputes," he said.
Khatami supporters swept all 15 of the muncipal council seats at
stake in Tehran and scored impressive wins in the provinces during
the first municipal elections in Iran since the 1979 Islamic
The decisive victory has raised expectations that reformers will
take control of the conservative-dominated parliament in next
spring's parliamentary elections.
It will also put Khatami supporters in mayor's offices
nationwide following a bitterly contested vote that was seen as a
crucial test for the president's democratic reforms as well as a key
indicator of the relative popularity of both camps ahead of next
year's parliamentary elections.


Date: Tue, 16 Mar 1999 23:51:20 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Iranian conservative warns France over Rushdie

TEHRAN, March 15 (AFP) - A leading Iranian conservative on
Monday warned France about supporting author Salman Rushdie ahead of
a visit by President Mohammd Khatami next month.
"We must announce to the political and intellectual leaders of
France that insulting the sanctity of over one billion Moslems does
not mean supporting freedom of expression and thought," said
Habibollah Asgarowladi, secretary general of the hardline Islamic
Coalition Society (ICS).
He said Rushdie's presence in Italy last week during Khatami's
visit was the result of "US instigation" and cautioned France not to
repeat the mistake.
"Continuing support for Salman Rushdie shows a stubborn attitude
towards the world of Islam," he said, quoted by the official IRNA
news agency.
The umbrella ICS is considered to be the hard core of the
Islamic regime's conservatives. Asgarowladi is one of the "barons"
of the Tehran bazaar, a conservative stronghold.
Rushdie was in Italy to receive an honorary degree Wednesday as
Khatami was in the midst of the first visit to western Europe by an
Iranian head of state since the 1979 Islamic revolution.
The presence of the British-born Indian author, sentenced to
death in 1989 by the Islamic republic's founder Ayatollah Ruhollah
Khomeini, caused widespread outrage


Date: Tue, 16 Mar 1999 23:51:27 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Former Tehran mayor gets approval for new paper

TEHRAN, March 15 (AFP) - The convicted former mayor of Tehran
was given the green light Monday by Iran's culture ministry to
launch a new newspaper, the official news agency IRNA said.
Gholamhossein Karbaschi was given approval to launch the
Ham-Mihan (Compatriot) paper despite onging efforts by opponents in
the conservative-dominated parliament to take away his control over
the official paper of the Tehran municipality, Hamshari (Citizen).
Conservative MPs have mounted a campaign in the last few weeks
to take the 400,000-circulation daily out of the hands of the
municipality, effectively ending Karbaschi's control over the
Karbaschi was forced out of office last year and sentenced to
five years in prison, and a 20-year ban on holding public office, on
corruption charges that he insisted were a political set-up.
But as his successor has yet to be named, the municipal paper
remains under the control of the popular former mayor, whose
sentence was reduced to two years and a 10-year ban while his case
is on appeal with Iran's supreme court.
The spectacular trial of Karbaschi, a close political affiliate
of reformist President Mohammad Khatami, was widely seen among
reformers and moderates as a politically motivated attack by the
regime's conservatives and hardliners.
The ban on holding office has not kept him from his duties as
secretary general of the reformist Executives of Construction Party
Two ECP members were among the 15 pro-Khatami candidates who
swept all seats on the Tehran municipal council in last month's
elections, the first municipal elections in Iran since the 1979


Date: Tue, 16 Mar 1999 23:51:36 GMT
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Iran sees oil market regaining stability

TEHRAN, March 15 (AFP) - Iran said Monday it expected oil
markets to regain their stability after a decision by oil-producing
countries to cut output by more than two million barrels per day.
"We believe this decision will bring balance and stability back
to the market," Oil Minister Bijan Namdar-Zanqeneh told Radio
He welcomed the "political support of the producing countries at
all levels" for the agreement, and said this would guarantee that
the cuts were implemented.
Key oil producers met in the Netherlands last week and decided
on the cuts, in an attempt to boost flagging oil prices.
The cuts by individual producers were not specified in The
Hague, pending further negotiations with other OPEC and non-OPEC
countries ahead of the cartel's ministerial conference on March 23
in Vienna.
However, reports say that Saudi Arabia will bear about one
quarter of them.
Before the Hague meeting, Saudi Arabia and Iran agreed to work
to get rid of the oil surplus on the world market.
Iran is OPEC's second biggest producer after Saudi Arabia, with
current production of 3.7 million bpd, of which 2.4 million goes for
Oil revenues account for 85 percent of Iran's foreign currency
Crude lost more than 40 percent of its value in 1998, as OPEC
repeatedly failed to enforce the agreed production limits, flooding
the market with cheap oil.


End of DNI-NEWS Digest - 15 Mar 1999 to 16 Mar 1999