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There are 10 messages totalling 1247 lines in this issue.

Topics in this special issue:

1. Netanyahu to Visit Russia on Arms Aid to Iran
2. US Ready to Look at RUSSIA'S ...
3. Russia Offer to Scale Back Nuclear Work in Iran We
4. Iranian FM Calls for Commitment of Oil Output Cut
5. The Little Flower That Could
6. Iran Denies Politics Are Behind Its Oscar Hopes
7. Middle East Economic Briefs


Date: Sat, 20 Mar 1999 22:23:34 EDT
From: Bobby Iri <Bobby@WWW.DCI.CO.IR>
Subject: Netanyahu to Visit Russia on Arms Aid to Iran

Netanyahu to Visit Russia on Arms Aid to Iran


JERUSALEM, March 19 (Reuters) - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu travels to Ukraine, Russia and Georgia next week,
aiming to halt Moscow's military aid to Iran and boost Jewish
immigration to Israel, his spokesman said on Friday.

Spokesman Aviv Bushinsky rejected news reports that the trip was
an election gimmick to boost Netanyahu's popularity among
Israel's more than 700,000 former Soviet Jews, a key political
constituency, ahead of a May 17 Israeli national election.

Accompanied by Foreign Minister Ariel Sharon, Netanyahu will be
making his second visit to Moscow as prime minister. The first
was in March 1997. He will visit the Great Synagogue and a
Jewish school.

Bushinsky said Netanyahu had not asked to meet Russian President
Boris Yeltsin but would see Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov.
Netanyahu will meet the presidents of both Ukraine and Georgia
during the three-day trip.
"The main purpose of the trip is to hold talks with Primakov
about Russia's nuclear aid to Iran and to encourage immigration
to Israel," Bushinsky said.

Like the United States, Israel has repeatedly urged Russia to
withhold the sale of rockets, nuclear technology and technical
help to Iran.

Russia has signed an $800 million deal to complete an Iranian
nuclear reactor in the southern port town of Bushehr, despite
Western fears that Tehran might use the technology to develop
nuclear arms.

Yeltsin has denied that Russian companies are aiding Iranian
missile and nuclear programmes. But other Russian officials have
said Moscow could not force companies to stop doing business
with Iran.

Copyright 1999 Reuters Limited.


Date: Sat, 20 Mar 1999 22:23:50 EDT
From: Bobby Iri <Bobby@WWW.DCI.CO.IR>
Subject: US Ready to Look at RUSSIA'S ...

US Ready to Look at RUSSIA'S Non-Proliferation Proposal.


WASHINGTON, March 19 (Itar-Tass) - The United Stated is ready to
analyse proposal by Russian Nuclear Energy Minister Yevgeny
Adamov concerning non-proliferation and Russia's cooperation
with Iran, said Leon Fuerth, an assistant to the US
vice-president for national security.

He told reporters on Thursday that the US could handle the
proposal in working contacts with the Russian government, with
Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov to visit the US on March 23-25.

Primakov and US Vice PresS on March 23-25.

Primakov and US Vice President Albert Gore will co-chair a
regular meeting of the intergovernmental cooperation commission.
The US is to look at the crux of Adamov's proposal and at a
possible decision, Fuerth said in a comment on Adamov's
interview published on Wednesday in The New York Times.

Adamov said that Russia is willing to give guarantees to stop
contacts in the nuclear field with Iran, a cause of Washington's
concern, if the US administration reverses the economic
sanctions against Russia's Research and Design Institute of
Energy Engineering, or NIKIET, and the Mendeleyev Chemical
Technological Institute implicated in nuclear cooperation with

Fuerth said the US administration wants the Russian government
to cooperate on the non-proliferation issue in the most serious
way, and is ready to answer cooperative moves.

He said non-proliferation concerns not only nuclear but also
rocket technologies, and brings in question quotas of commercial
launches of US communications satellites on Russian booster

The US' stance is that the quotas of satellite launches into a
geostationary orbit cannot be broadened until the US has grounds
to believe that transfer of Russian rocket technologies to other
countries is under rigorous control.

He stressed that potential for the development of Russia-US
business cooperation in uses of space is extremely high.

Both sides realise this, but a very serious discussion is needed
on how this potential can be employed, Fuerth said.

He added that Moscow and Washington had been discussing the
issue for more than "one day" and the US administration is
interested in achieving progress in solving it at the meeting of
the inter-governmental commission due here on March 23-25.


Date: Sat, 20 Mar 1999 22:23:56 EDT
From: Bobby Iri <Bobby@WWW.DCI.CO.IR>
Subject: Russia Offer to Scale Back Nuclear Work in Iran We

Russia Offer to Scale Back Nuclear Work in Iran Welcomed


WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Clinton administration declined Thursday
to make a deal with Russia to lift sanctions against leading
nuclear research institutes until they stopped working with

Responding to an offer by Atomic Energy Minister Yevgeny Adamov,
a State Department spokesman said, "We would like to see action
taken to remedy the problem before the penalties can be

Adamov, who made the offer Wednesday, said he would take it up
with U.S. officials on a trip to Washington. If the sanctions
were lifted the firms would stop their cooperation with Iran, he

In January, the United States barred 10 Russian research centers
from any work here on the grounds they were providing Iran with
technology that could help Iran develop weapons of mass

Containing Iran's nuclear program is a key foreign policy
objection of the administration.

James Foley, the deputy spokesman at the State Department, said
Thursday, "We welcome statements by Minister Adamov that Russia
is willing to curtail illicit cooperation with Iran's nuclear

"This is a potentially positive statement on his part," Foley

The spokesman went on to underscore Russia was still cooperating
with Iran and that was of serious concern to the administration.

The issue is due to be taken up next week at meetings here of a
joint commission headed by Vice President Al Gore and Russian
Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov.

Copyright 1999& The Associated Press.


Date: Sat, 20 Mar 1999 22:24:02 EDT
From: Bobby Iri <Bobby@WWW.DCI.CO.IR>
Subject: Iranian FM Calls for Commitment of Oil Output Cut

Iranian Foreign Minister Calls for Commitment of Oil Output Cut


Caracas (March 18) XINHUA - Oil producing countries must fulfill
their promise to cut their output in order to stabilize world
market oil prices, visiting Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal
Kharazi said here Thursday.

Kharazi confirmed that Iran will cut its oil production by 264,
000 barrels per day (bpd) beginning April 1 as part of its
contribution to the initiative approved last week by members of
the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in The
Hague, the Netherlands.

"Petroleum's future depends on the observation of this decision
(made in The Hague) and measures taken thereafter; cooperation
within OPEC is also necessary to guarantee the stability of the
world market," said the minister at a press conference, while
ending his visit to Venezuela.
He said the OPEC ministers meeting on March 23 in Vienna would
study concrete measures to implement the agreement.

The ministers of energy of five major oil production countries,
Saudi Arabia, Iran, Algeria, Mexico and Venezuela, agreed during
the Hague meeting to cut their crude oil output by two million
bpd beginning April 1 to raise slumping oil prices.


Date: Sat, 20 Mar 1999 22:24:24 EDT
From: Bobby Iri <Bobby@WWW.DCI.CO.IR>
Subject: The Little Flower That Could

The Little Flower That Could

By Nora Boustany

Friday, March 19, 1999; Page A19

If flowers can sprout through scorched soil in tough climates,
then Zahra Shojaie, a female member of the Iranian cabinet who
braved one of those brazen breakfast crowds at a Washington
hotel yesterday, did just that.

Speaking in English at the Mayflower Hotel, Shojaie, Iranian
President Mohammed Khatemi's adviser on women's affairs and one
of his two female ministers, boasted of achievements by Iranian
women since the 1979 revolution, such as their "decisive
turnout" in the 1997 elections that swept Khatemi into power.

She departed from her prepared text, however, to say: "We are
aware of some limitations. Some are cultural, some are economic,
and some are social. We need to work harder. A lot remains to be
done in changing the prevailing gender attitudes regarding
permissions and the protection of women's rights."

She did not stop there. "We should also increase the number of
women involved in decision-making," she declared. Human society
should not be "gender-specific, divisive or discriminative."

When a male listener challenged her, noting that Iranian women
are subjected to virginity tests, that their testimony in court
carries half the weight of a man's and that the marriage age of
girls has been reduced to 9, Shojaie smiled.

"Do Iranian women like the idea of being flogged?" asked the
questioner, a guest at a forum organized by Middle East Insight.
"And how do they feel about the primitive instead of the
enlightened traditions which clearly exist in Islam?"

"While belief should stay intact, some Islamic laws are subject
to change because of circumstances," said Shojaie, who is head
of the Center for Women's Participation. "Of course women are
for reform and change, and my organization . . . is responsible
for reforms and change.

"Not just women, all humanity is trying to have a good life. Of
course women -- because of double oppression they have had in
history -- have to work very hard," she said, emphasizing that
the participation of men and women would lead to a more balanced
society. "But this attitude is not shared by all. Some prefer
that ladies stay at home; I think it is a universal attitude,
but its intensity varies."

Having taken time away from a U.N.-sponsored women's conference
and gotten special State Department authorization to travel here
from New York, Shojaie will head home carrying a suggestion by
Robert H. Pelletreau, chairman of the American-Iranian Council
and former assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern
affairs, that Tehran invite some congressmen over to schmooze.
Would she ask her leadership to include them in the growing
American-Iranian dialogue, since they are "representatives of
the people, not the American government"?

Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) echoed the request: "Many of my
colleagues would be interested in going to Iran. What could be
done to facilitate visits including members of the U.S.
Congress?" Shojaie offered measured hope. "We have to improve
contacts," she said. "I think the dialogue between people could
be solved; we have issues of our own."

Coincidentally, Zahra means flower in Persian, and Shojaie means
brave. "I'm afraid of women," muttered an Iranian diplomat
translating for her, when asked to speak up.

Busy Are the Merciful

Sadako Ogata, the U.N. high commissioner for refugees, said in
an interview that U.N. workers are looking for displaced people
hiding in the mountains of Kosovo near the Serbian province's
border with Macedonia. "The crisis is not over, but the
humanitarian tragedy continues. International interests have not
gelled, and the saddest part of it is that the longer it takes,
the worse it gets," she said after firing off an appeal to
Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic to expedite a peace
agreement with Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority, which is
seeking independence for the province. More than 30,000 people
have been displaced in Kosovo since Feb. 23, bringing the total
to about a quarter-million people over the yearlong war, she
noted, with thousands trapped in the woods with nothing but
plastic sheeting for cover.

Ogata returned this month from visits to Sierra Leone, Guinea,
Ivory Coast and Liberia. Guinea is the largest recipient of
refugees in Africa, with about 450,000, and Ogata said
cross-border incursions there may force relocation of the
refugee camps. Security in neighboring Liberia, where a
seven-year war ended two years ago, is holding, she added. "I
said bye-bye to 100,000 people going back to Liberia with all
their chickens, pots and pans. It was a happy sight."

In Guinea, the refugee agency helped set up an orthopedic center
for people who lost limbs in the conflict in Sierra Leone. There
she saw a 12-year-old boy whose hand was amputated trying to
write again with an artificial hand. "When people succeed at
walking or writing again, you see the joy in their faces. I told
people not to lose hope, but is the international community
going to help? In war-torn society, recovery is a very serious
long-term effort. It is about body movement training and
psychological trauma," she said. "And they are the lucky ones.
They survived."

Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company


Date: Sat, 20 Mar 1999 22:24:44 EDT
From: Bobby Iri <Bobby@WWW.DCI.CO.IR>
Subject: Iran Denies Politics Are Behind Its Oscar Hopes

Iran Denies Politics Are Behind Its Oscar Hopes

TEHRAN, Iran (Reuters) - Iran's booming film industry hopes the
fact that Oscar night coincides with the start of the Iranian
new year will help bring home a prestigious statuette for the
first time, despite speculation that politics, rather than art,
might lie behind any award.

On Feb. 10, the last day of Tehran's Fajr international film
festival, it was announced thousands of miles away in Hollywood
that Majid Majidi's "Children of Heaven" had been nominated for
a best foreign-language film academy award.
It was a double triumph for Majidi, 39, whose other film, "The
Color of God," a touching story of a blind boy's difficult
relationship with his father, had taken top honors in Tehran on
the same day. News of the Oscar nomination was carried by
Iranian media amid speculation by some skeptics that it could
not have happened without the dark forces of geopolitics.

However, Majidi rejects the idea of any conspiracy behind the
nomination for his film, distributed in the United States by
Miramax. Members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and
Sciences who decide the Oscars are the most independent experts
in the industry, he said. Their number and different views made
it unthinkable that they could be manipulated to any political


The nomination fueled political speculation because of the tense
nature of U.S.-Iranian relations, but cultural ties have
increased in recent years regardless of the battle of words
between statesmen, Majidi told Reuters.

"Culture is much more important than politics. My film relates
to the masses of people, tries to eradicate suspicions and
misunderstandings among nations and to change views of many
people in the face of political propaganda against Iran."

Iranian filmmakers have fascinated film festival juries the
world over as they struggle at home with restrictions that bar
them from dealing with certain subjects.

For example, they can show neither women who do not follow the
Islamic dress code nor any physical contact between the sexes.
Direct reference to sexual love has been another taboo for
directors since the 1979 Islamic revolution.

Pressures have eased somewhat since the 1997 election of
moderate President Mohammed Khatami, with many hitherto banned
films appearing at cinemas despite protests by conservatives who
fear a dilution of revolutionary principles.

Like Jafar Panahi's much-admired "The White Balloon" and other
Iranian films that have won international acclaim in recent
years, Majidi's movie centers around an apparently trivial
incident that turns into an excruciating dilemma for its
protagonists and draws the audience into the suspense.

The film tells the story of Zahra, a poor little girl who loses
her shoes. Frightened of her father's rage, she secretly shares
the shoes of her devoted brother, Ali, to attend separate shifts
at the neighborhood school.

Ali, a talented runner, wheedles his way into a race at the last
minute, determined to capture the third prize of a pair of shiny
new sneakers to give to his sister. But in the heat of battle he
overtakes the last two boys and wins the race, receiving a
trophy but losing out on the new shoes.

"Children of Heaven" won eight prizes in last year's Fajr film
festival and four at the 1996 Montreal film festival. But
despite good reviews it has not been a box-office hit in Iran.

Some critics explained this by saying it was too sentimental or
displayed jarring scenes of extreme poverty. But film critic
Jamshid Arjmand said such objections were irrelevant.

"The point is that Majidi has masterfully controlled this
subject matter to make a film that observes all professional
criteria and at the same time conveys a shocking sensation," he


Majidi, an admirer of the late American filmmaker John Ford,
says the screenplay was derived from a factual story and that he
did not seek to lyricize poverty.

"My focus is not poverty or class distinction, I rather wanted
to accentuate pure human virtues even amid hardship, the
devotion and dedication among siblings, and to assert that the
human being can overcome problems in any circumstances."
But he does not deny the impact of his love for children and his
passionate social conscience.

"I also wanted to awaken those rich people who are negligent
toward their poor fellow humans," he said, adding that the movie
was not an overt political statement, although it had moral

None of the film's actors had previously appeared in front of
the camera, but Majidi's experience with children's films and
plays enabled him to work with and guide the untrained cast.

"Children of Heaven" faces tough competition Sunday night from
four other films in the same category, including "Life Is
Beautiful" from Italy and "Central Station" from Brazil.

"They are major rivals but the chances of my film are higher.
When I visited the United States in January to introduce the
film the reaction of critics was very favorable and many
predicted it has a good chance of winning," Majidi said.

"If it wins the prize it will be a major event for the totality
of our cultural society, for it will open new avenues between
our cinema and the world, particularly the United States, which
has the last word in world cinema," Arjmand said.


Copyright 1999 Reuters Limited.


Date: Sat, 20 Mar 1999 22:25:28 EDT
From: Bobby Iri <Bobby@WWW.DCI.CO.IR>
Subject: Middle East Economic Briefs

Middle East Economic Briefs


CAIRO (March 19) XINHUA - The following are economic briefs from
Middle East countries.

CAIRO -- Egyptian civil aviation authority has disclosed that
five satellite systems for airport aerial control have been
introduced to improve contacts with aircraft.

Likewise, local airports have been supplied with advanced radar
equipment and civil aviation data, he said.

About 350 engineers, technicians and air controllers were being
trained abroad to operate the latest air control and
communication systems.

DOHA -- Qatari Minister of Energy Abdullah Al-Attiya has said a
detailed offer to supply Lebanon with Qatari natural gas will be
submitted during Lebanese Prime Minister Salim Hoss' visit
Sunday, the Arabic daily Al Hayat reported Friday.

He said that Lebanon can generate 2,000 megawatt electricity
currently, half of which was being produced by oil fuel, and all
its gas needs are imported from abroad.

Lebanon needs 2.5 billion cubic meters of gas in 2001 and up to
3 billion in 2005.

DOHA -- A senior official of the Iranian Gas Company has said
that Iran welcomes cooperation with American firms that possess
advanced technology and a plan is under consideration to double
the country's gas production in eight years.

The unnamed official pointed out that Turkey was the gate for
Iranian gas exports to European markets.

Meanwhile, the Al Hayat published Friday said that Iran has an
ambitious plan for the development of natural gas projects.

Director of the International Affairs Department of the company
Majdi Hashemi Rafsanjani said Iran will invest some 8 to 10
billion U.S. dollars in this field to meet local consumption
needs and for export.

He added that Iran has many gas fields to develop and exploit,
indicating that confirmed Iranian gas reserves exceed 800
trillion cubic feet (about 21.6 trillion cubic meters), ranking
second after Russia.


Date: Sat, 20 Mar 1999 23:47:54 EDT
From: Bobby Iri <Bobby@WWW.DCI.CO.IR>

Vol. 2, No. 11, 15 March 1999

A Review of Developments in Iran Prepared by the Regional
Specialists of RFE/RL's Newsline Team.

WHY WAS ITALY FIRST? The visit last week to Italy and the
Vatican by President Hojatoleslam Mohammad Khatami was the
first trip to Europe by an Iranian leader since the Islamic
Revolution 20 years ago. There are various explanations for
Italy's invitation and for it being chosen first. It is not
inconceivable that Italy wanted to legitimize its recent $1
billion oil deal with Iran (see "RFE/RL Iran Report," 1 March
1999 and 8 March 1999). And having recently rescheduled $370
million in Iranian loans, the Italian export credit agency
must ensure that its debtor appears creditworthy (see "RFE/RL
Iran Report," 22 February 1999).
The pro-Khatami daily "Khordad" editorialized on 9 March
that being chosen first was a reward to Italy for being one
of Iran's biggest trading partners and its least troublesome
European counterpart. According to RFE/RL's Persian Service:
"In 1997, Italy was Iran's top EU trading partner, having
imported $1.8 billion in Iranian goods. Italy increased its
oil purchases by 10 percent to 10.05 million tons in the
first ten months of 1998." Also, Italian Foreign Minister
Lamberto Dini visited Iran last year, as did Prime Minister
Romano Prodi.
A "New York Times" analysis said: "Iran's faltering
economy badly needs foreign investment, and Khatami hopes to
improve his government's credibility and thus attract trade
and loans." Vienna's "Der Standard" explained the trip
thusly: "Italy has long joined France with glee in entering
the vacuum that has been left by the American and British
firms who obediently adhered to the American Iran-Libyan
Italian Foreign Minister Lamberto Dini explained his
country's invitation via an article in "La Republica." He
wrote that by meeting with Khatami, Italy is strengthening
him domestically, thereby increasing his efforts towards
moderation and improvement of human rights. "If the pragmatic
Italians could pull Iran a step further in this direction,"
Norway's "Aftenposten" editorialized, "they would have made a
contribution to its stability, predictability and development
as a member of the international community." Indeed, the trip
may have helped Khatami already.
The official Islamic Republiy.
The official Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA)
provided extensive and laudatory coverage, saying, for
example, that Italian representatives gave Khatami a
"tumultuous welcome," as well as the "red carpet treatment."
Khatami met with Pope John Paul II, Italian President Oscar
Luigi Scalfaro, Senate leader Nicola Mancino, Chamber of
Deputies head Luciano Violante, and the Rome municipality
awarded him a medal.
The English-language "Iran News" on 6 March said the
trip was the direct result of Khatami's "Dialogue Among
Civilizations" concept. From this symbolic perspective, the
meeting of the Organization of the Islamic Conference chief
with the head of the Roman Catholic Church was certainly
From a public relations perspective, the trip was
slightly marred when Turin University awarded an honorary
degree to Salman Rushdie, author of the "Satanic Verses." The
Tehran press took this as an intentional insult. "Jomhuri
Islami" blamed "pro-Zionist militants in the Italian Foreign
Ministry." Commenting on this incident and the actions of
Iranian oppositionists during the Italian trip, "Kar va
Kargar" warned: "Iran remembers that Italy and Europe are
safe havens for terrorists that continue to attack and insult
our nation."
"One cannot but reach the conclusion that at least some
officials of the Italian government fully intended to insult
our president, our nation and our religious beliefs," "Iran
News" wrote. Italy was allegedly quick to apologize.
According to IRNA on 11 March, Italy's Dini sent a letter to
his Iranian counterpart expressing regret that Khatami's
visit coincided with that of "the apostate writer of 'Satanic
Khatami is expected to visit France in April. And other
European states are also interested in the Khatami
experience. Portuguese Foreign Minister Jaime Gama delivered
an invitation from his president during a visit to Tehran.
But "Jomhuri Islami" warned on 9 March that Westerners should
not misread what is happening in Iran, and they should not
think that they can resume "intervention ... in internal
affairs of Iran and its political affairs."
Although Europe is strongly interested in working with
Iran, the Islamic Republic is willing to have U.S. firms work
there, too. Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi said on 8
March that "There is no obstacle to U.S. oil companies
participating in [Iranian] oil development projects" if
sanctions are lifted. And the same day, "Iran News"
editorialized that it is "advisable that the U.S. reconsider
its foreign policy before it is too late." (Bill Samii)

results of Iran's first council elections were announced.
According to the IRNA a total of 22,201,772 votes were cast
in Iran's 28 provinces, excluding Tehran. Depending on which
figure for total eligible voters one accepts, this puts
turnout at about 56.9 percent (39 million eligible, per the
State Registration Office and IRNA) or about 63.4 percent (35
million, per the Plan and Budget Organization).
In Tehran itself, IRNA reported, 1,408,275 votes were
cast, and out of that 1,403,389 ballots were considered
valid. Thirteen of the top 15 vote-getters in Tehran are
identified with and were endorsed by the pro-Khatami "Second
of Khordad Front." Only two of the top 15, Gholamreza
Foruzesh and Seyyed Mohammad Gharazi, were endorsed by the
conservative Tehran Militant Clergy Association (Jameh-yi
Ruhaniyat-i Mobarez-i Tehran), according to the pro-Khatami
"Zan" daily. Unconfirmedng to the pro-Khatami
"Zan" daily. Unconfirmed reports from observers in Iran
indicate that in some cities - Shiraz, Qazvin, and Mashad -
candidates not identified with a particular faction won
council seats.
London's "The Economist" of 6-12 March reported that
"the election was judged to be the fairest of the 20 or so
polls held since the revolution," although it did not say who
made this judgment or how it was made. One of the problems in
determining free and fair elections in Iran is that a citizen
can vote anywhere in the country as long as he or she
presents an identification card. The card is then stamped to
show that the individual has voted. So even if people vote
only once, they can be bussed in from insignificant villages
and towns to major cities.
Be that as it may, there was a relatively limited number
of complaints by losing candidates. But parliamentarian Ahmad
Rasulinejad said there were thousands of complaints and
argued that the government should investigate them before
announcing the final results. Rasulinejad also said that
Interior Minister Abdolvahed Musavi-Lari and his deputy,
Mustafa Tajzadeh, should be impeached for their handling of
the election, according to the daily "Iran News" of 11 March.
Central Election Supervisory Board chief Hojatoleslam
Ali Mohammad Savoji sent a letter to the Interior Ministry
saying that three elected candidates - Saeed Hajjarian,
Mohammad Atrianfar, and Ahmad Hakimipur - should be
disqualified for not having left their government posts
within the required time, "Zan" reported on 11 March. But Dr.
Rahchamani of the same body said a person cannot be
disqualified after the election, "Iran" reported on 11 March.
Iranian analysts and columnists waited until most of the
results were in before commenting on the meaning of the
elections, and they generally adopted a positive tone. The
conservative "Qods" daily editorialized on 6 March that the
election was another important milestone in the country's
legal history, and combined with the participation in the
recent Assembly of Experts election, it showed people's trust
in the system. The pro-Khatami "Salam" daily editorialized on
9 March that this is a big success for the associates of
Khatami, but it is also a success due to the participation of
so many political groupings. This is an advance in Iran's
political develoce in Iran's
political development, and the people have taken another step
towards unity, the pro-Khatami "Sobh-i Imruz" wrote on 9
A less conciliatory view on the elections came from the
Supreme Leader's office, which dictates the Friday sermons.
During the 5 March sermon in Tehran, Judiciary chief
Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi said: "... the elected ladies or
gentlemen should not think of themselves as being very
important. ... You should not interfere in the affairs which
concern the entire state."
Commenting on the responsibilities of the councils,
Interior Minister Musavi-Lari said "they will not be involved
in political affairs but will have much power in the fields
of culture, development, and public services," IRNA reported
on 8 March. But he also said that among their first duties
will be the selection of Tehran's new mayor, and, judging by
the make-up of the council and the symbolic importance of the
Tehran mayor, the issue will be highly politicized. (Bill

Hojatoleslam Abdolvahed Musavi-Lari told IRNA on 8 March that
among the first duties of the Tehran City Council, which
probably will start work in early April, is the appointment
of a successor to convicted Tehran Mayor Gholamhossein
Karbaschi. There are at least six candidates for this
position, "Arya" reported on 2 March. The conservative Tehran
Militant Clergy Association's candidates are Sayyid Mohammad
Jahromi, former governor-general of Fars Province, and
parliamentarian Davud Danesh Jafari. The Executives of
Construction Party has two candidates. One of them is
Mohammad Hashemi, who served as head of Islamic Republic of
Iran Broadcasting and then as vice president in charge of
executive affairs during the presidency of his older brother,
Hojatoleslam Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, and who now serves
in the same position under President Khatami. The party's
other candidate is Mohammad Qarazi, who was minister of Post,
Telegraph, and Telephone during the Rafsanjani
administration. The Islamic Iran Participation Party supports
Mohsen Mirdamadi, former governor-general of Khorasan
Province, and Mohsen Safai Farahani, head of the country's
soccer federation and formerly head of the state power
company (Tavanir). Meanwhile, Massoud Dehnamki, publisher of
the banned, hard-line biweekly "Shalamcheh," was quoted by
"Arya" as saying that Karbaschi is just a pawn in a political
chess match. (Bill Samii)

IN ALBANIA AND BOSNIA. Iranian involvement with the Balkans,
economic and otherwise, may soon increase. On 9 March,
Albanian Minister of Economic Cooperation Ermelinda Meksi met
with Iranian Ambassador Mohammad Kazem Bigdeli to discuss an
expansion of relations. Meksi called for a greater presence
of Iranian traders and goods in the Albanian market, IRNA
reported on 9 March. More importantly, Meksi said her country
is ready to purchase Iranian oil. And on 6 March, IRNA
reported that Iran's Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs
signed a memorandum of understanding with Sarajevo's
governorate for the joint development of a garment factory
and a plant nursery. In addition, a chain store will be
opened and vocational training courses will be offered.
Last month the Albanian newspaper "Koha Jone" reported
that an Iranian and a Syrian were placed on indefinite
detention for carrying falsified documents and possessing
illegal arms. They had come to Albania four months earlier
and opened an Islamic youth center in Tirana. Allegedly, they
were preparing to attack the U.S. embassy there. A Saudi
citizen was arrested in connection with the case a month
earlier. These incidents may be connected to reports that
Saudi-born terrorist Osama bin Laden's efforts to attack
several Western facilities, including the U.S. Embassy in
Albania, were foiled. But the Iranian Embassy in Tirana
stated, according to the 23 February issue of "Gazeta
Shqiptare": "The two persons accused of terrorism are not
Iranians, and newspaper reports about their alleged Iranian
origin are simply false. The activity of the Islamic Republic
of Iran is wholly transparent, and the Albanian authorities
are fully informed about it."
In a February interview with the Croatian daily
"Jutarnji List," Iranian Ambassador to Bosnia-Herzegovina
Seyyed Homayoun Amir Khalili discussed developments in
Tehran's stance towards the country. After helping to end the
"unequal war" by aiding the Muslims and trying to "protect a
nation from being eradicated," Iran still wants to help. It
will do so through the growth of "economic and cultural
relations," he said. One of the means by which this is being
done is the presence of six radio stations which broadcast
two hours daily, and one hour of satellite television daily,
according to the article's author. Also, there was a curious
incident involving Iranians in Bosnia. In mid-February, the
body of Iranian Ali Baladi was discovered on the road from
Sarajevo to the Bosnian Serb-held town of Pale, AP reported.
In connection with this incident, three Iranian males and a
Bosnian female were arrested on the boundary between Serb-
held territory and the Muslim-Croat Federation. RFE/RL Balkan
analysts believe this was simply a criminal affair. (Bill

"Keyhan" daily, which is published by the Supreme Leader's
office, reported on 6 March that a government circular was
distributed forbidding quotation of RFE/RL broadcasts without
cautionary commentary. So why, complained "Keyhan," did IRNA
quote from an RFE/RL broadcast about the arrest of Islamic
intellectual Hojatoleslam Mohsen Kadivar? IRNA then
complained that on 8 March "Radio Azadi" (Radio Liberty) and
the U.S. government's Voice of America did not give any
coverage to President Hojatoleslam Seyyed Mohammad Khatami's
trip to Italy. This demonstrated that there is no difference
between RFE/RL and VOA, IRNA said, and it also showed
America's displeasure about the relationship between the
Islamic Republic's government and Europe. The next day, in a
very strange flip-flop, IRNA quoted an RFE/RL Persian Service
broadcast about the Italian trip, even attributing it to
"freedom-radio." Incidentally, many Iranian newspapers quoted
RFE/RL's Persian Service interviews in the weeks surrounding
the council elections. (Bill Samii)

TRIAL OF SECURITY OFFICIAL. The trial of Brigadier General

<< Continued to next message >>>


Date: Sat, 20 Mar 1999 23:48:24 EDT
From: Bobby Iri <Bobby@WWW.DCI.CO.IR>

<< This message is part 2 of a previous message >>>

Mohammad Reza Naqdi, head of the National Police
counterintelligence, and ten other officials, on charges that
they tortured Tehran district mayors, is scheduled for 3 May.
They will be tried in a military court, although the National
Police is part of the Interior Ministry. During the court
case of "Zan" daily's chief, Faezeh Hashemi, last autumn,
there were repeated allegations that Naqdi was involved in
the assault on Minister of Islamic Culture and Guidance
Ataollah Mohajerani and former Interior Minister Abdullah
Nouri, "Hamshahri" reported on 14 November. (Bill Samii)

announced that Council of Guardians spokesman Ayatollah
Mohammad Emami-Kashani had been hospitalized for "heart
failure." He was visited by a representative of President
Hojatoleslam Mohammad Khatami, and Vice President for
Executive Affairs Mohammad Hashemi visited him on behalf of
his brother, Expediency Council Chairman Hojatoleslam Ali
Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.
This contrasts sharply with the hospitalization and
subsequent death of Ayatollah Ahmad Azari-Qomi last month,
which received almost no official recognition. An examination
of Emami-Kashani's activities in the last 20 years shows that
there are three reasons why he gets such attention while
other senior clerics are ignored, isolated, and confined.
One reason is his background and relationship with the
founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Musavi
Khomeini, who appointed him as a Friday prayer leader. In
April 1989, Emami-Kashani served on the council which revised
Iran's Constitution in areas such as the succession to the
Supreme Leader, the presidency, the judiciary, and the
Expediency Council's role vis-a-vis the government.
A second reason for such attention is that Emami-Kashani
consistently supports the legitimacy of the Vilayat-i Faqih
(rule of the jurisprudent), as well as that of Iran's Supreme
Leader. As Guardians' Council spokesman he said in 1990 that
any Assembly of Experts candidates approved by Supreme Leader
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei automatically qualified to stand for
office, but all others had to pass an exam. He repeated this
theme before the 1996 parliamentary elections.
In April 1997 he told people that they were not only
duty-bound to vote in the presidential election, but that
"voting for the most pious candidate is an obligation."
Before the October 1998 Assembly of Experts election, Emami-
Kashani said that people should be satisfied with the choice
of candidates, because the Guardians Council is better
qualified to select them.
Emami-Kashani has been quite concerned about
factionalism. In April 1998 he warned that unrest over Tehran
Mayor Gholamhossein Karbaschi's arrest only harmed Iran and
helped its enemies. In a July 1998 sermon, he said: "The
enemy will take advantage [of your discord] to spread the
rumor that there is no security [in Iran]. ... He is lying.
He is spreading this rumor via his propaganda mouthpieces."
A third factor behind Emami-Kashani's status is his
stand on foreign affairs, which corresponds closely with that
of Khamenei and Iran's most hard-line elements. For example,
in May 1990 he accused Saudi Arabia of refusing Iranian hajj
pilgrims, although it was they who had caused lethal riots in
previous years and who then refused to comply with a Saudi
ban on demonstrations.
He has been consistent in his dislike of the U.S. and of
Israel. After Iraq's humiliating defeat in 1991, Emami-
Kashani said "Humanity is really being covered in dirt by the
immorality they [U.S.] are propagating." By August 1995 he
was accusing the U.S. of fabricating the Iraqi threat so it
could "indulge in adventurism and make the region more
unstable." Emami-Kashani said in August 1996 that "it is
really unfortunate that the White House and the American
government are following Israel like a slave. Because we
cannot compromise with Israel, they [U.S.] organize all kinds
of plots against us. ... America is a servant of Israel."
In August 1997, he said "The Zionist regime [Israel]
has not only occupied Palestine but also occupied the White
House. America wants to set conditions before talking to us
... Mr. America, this is a dream. We will never negotiate
with you." Emami-Kashani stuck to this theme after President
Khatami's January 1998 CNN interview in which a willingness
to engage in dialogue was expressed. "The hands of the United
States are invressed. "The hands of the United
States are involved in every dispute and the Muslim world
ought to be awake and show solidarity to confront the plans
against the Muslims," Emami-Kashani said.
Another source of Emami-Kashani's influence has been his
ability to choose political allies. In February 1990 he
supported then-President Rafsanjani's economic program and
his anti-profiteering drive. A year later he hailed the Iraqi
surrender after Operation Desert Storm as the "fruition" of
the Rafsanjani peace plan. Such consistent support was
rewarded in the 1998 Assembly of Experts election via his
inclusion on the Executives of Construction Party's
candidates list.
Emami-Kashani's profile demonstrates several things a
senior Iranian cleric needs for political success. He must
have good revolutionary credentials, either through pre-
revolutionary opposition to the monarchy or post-revolution
closeness to Khomeini. He must display loyalty to the system
of Islamic government. And he must share the foreign policy
views of the regime's most hard-line elements. And it also
helps if one makes good political alliances. (Bill Samii)

Copyright (c) 1999. RFE/RL, Inc. All rights reserved.

The RFE/RL Iran Report is a weekly prepared by A. William
Samii on the basis of materials from RFE/RL broadcast
services, RFE/RL Newsline, and other news services. Direct
comments to A. William Samii in Prague at

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Every day from 1930-2000 Tehran time on 25, 31, and 49
meterbands, or 6040, 9680, 11730, and 12025 khrz, and 0800-
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Date: Sat, 20 Mar 1999 23:49:20 EDT
From: Bobby Iri <Bobby@WWW.DCI.CO.IR>

Vol. 2, No. 11, 19 March 1999

A Review of Developments in Iraq Prepared by the Regional
Specialists of RFE/RL's Newsline Team

U.S., TURKEY CONSULT ON IRAQ. Martin Indyk, U.S. assistant
secretary of state for Middle East affairs, visited Turkey to
discuss setting up "organized political consultation
mechanism to discuss regional problems," including
coordination on policies towarde Iraq, Anatolia reported on
12 March.
The Turkish side at these talks was headed by Ugur
Ziyal, Foreign Ministry deputy undersecretary. He said that
Turkey believed there should be four parameters to guide
policy on Iraq: the preservation of Iraq's territorial
integrity, political unity and sovereignty; the involvement
of all Iraqis in any decisions about that country's future,
Turkish opposition to being involved in changing regimes in
other countries, and specific rules for operations in the
northern No-Fly Zone of Iraq be established and maintained.
At the same time, Ziyal repeated Turkey's understanding that
Iraq was responsible for the U.S. bombing of Iraq because
investigations determined that the United States "bombed Iraq
within the framework of genuine self-defense."
During these sessions, U.S. officials stressed that
Washington wants all future cooperation between Turkey and
Iraq to follow the UN framework rather than to fall under the
category of bilateral relations. Concerning the visit of
Iraqi First Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz to Ankara last
month, Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit maintained at
that time that efforts are now being exerted to reactivate
bilateral economic relations, but there were difficulties
with this as well as restrictions imposed by the embargo on
Among the difficulties are Turkey's claims that Baghdad
has been supporting the PKK. Evidence of this was reportedly
given to Aziz in Ankara. While Iraq has said it will respond
to this material, Baghdad has not yet done so.
Another difficulty is that Iraq and Syria have requested
a convening of the joint tripartite committee, of which
Turkey is the third member. Turkey opposes such a meeting at
this time. According to Anatolia, diplomatic sources have
said that conditions must be right to realize the latest
Syrian and Iraqi demands with regard to water, stressing that
any negotiation based on the principle of "fighting terrorism
in exchange for water" is unacceptable.
Earlier, Turkish President Suleyman Demirel had used a
more concrete reason for Turkey's support of Operation
Northern Watch (the joint U.S.-British patrolling of Iraq's
no-fly zones from Incirlik airbase in Turkey). He said: "We
don't want northern Iraq to be used as a base against Turkey.
The flights from Turkey are within the framework of Operation
Northern Watch. They have only an observation purpose to see
if there is movement in northern Iraq" (Anatolia, 10 March).
(David Nissman)

Ministry has claimed that representatives of the United
States and Britain on the UN Security Council (UNSC) were
using the "wicked measures of procrastination and
prevarication" in order to prevent "Iraq from using its funds
to facilitate the travel of Iraqi pilgrims to perform
pilgrimage," according to a report on the Iraq Television
Network on 14 March.
In its statement, the Foreign Ministry termed this
action an "encroachment on the rituals of true Islam and one
of the methods of the dubious U.S.-British policy of wasting
time so as to foil any attempt to pay Iraqi funds to the
Iraqi pilgrims."
The American-British objective, it said, was to stall
until the time expired to make these disbursements so that
"the time of the pilgrimage becomes too close with the result
that even if an agreement is issued by the Sanctions
Committee [of the UNSC], Iraq will not have availed itself of
it because such a great number of pilgrims need time to
complete their papers and travel and be prepared to perform
pilgrimage rites."
In reality, the problem is less complicated than in reality, the
problem is less complicated than it
appears, but it will have the same effect. According to a
report carried on Radio Free Iraq on 14 March, the United
Nations was prepared to release $44 million from the 'Oil for
Food' program to pay for 22,000 Iraqis to make the hajj.
Iraq, however, wanted this money to be transferred to its
central bank account; the UN wanted a humanitarian
institution to make the exchange. Iraq threw up obstacles to
this and now there is not enough time to execute the
transaction. As a result, many Iraqi pilgrims will be unable
to make the hajj even if Baghdad were suddenly to agree to
the exchange.
Some pilgrims are making the journey from Iraq overland.
Republic of Iraq Radio reported on 15 March that a "first
batch" of some 2,000 pilgrims have already arrived in Saudi
Arabia and that Saudi authorities have provided them with the
facilities needed to perform the hajj rites.
The story would have ended there, had Iraq let it drop.
However, two Iraq Airlines planes have also flown pilgrims to
Saudi Arabia, and this has sparked a mini-debate in the UNSC
as to whether these flights are in violation of Resolution
670, which may or may not mandate an air embargo. According
to AFP on 17 March, Saudi Arabia has already turned down a
U.S. request to seize the plane. A second Iraq Airlines plane
is also carrying pilgrims to Saudi Arabia. This plane was
seen off by Dr. Ahmad Murtada Ahmad, minister of transport
and communications as well as director general of Iraq
Airlines, INA reported on 17 March. (David Nissman)

result of a hoof and mouth epidemic among livestock in Iraq,
65,000 animals, mostly sheep, have died. Breeders say that
the epidemic is the result of a shortage of rainfall and also
a short supply of drugs and vaccines from the Iraqi State
Veterinary Organization.
Dr. Fadil Abbas, director general of the Iraqi State
Veterinary Organization, told Baghdad's "Alif Ba'" newspaper
on 3 March that UN sanctions were to blame. He said that
"there has been a big shortage of drugs and vaccines due to
obstructions by Sanctions Committee 661, which considers some
of these drugs and vaccines fo fall under the dual use
category." Noting that this is the first time such an
epidemic had spread to Iraq, he also complained that Iraq's
scientific laboratory had been destroyed by UN inspection
"Alif Ba'" reporters also toured the Al-Kindi company,
which was established in 1990 for the production of
veterinary drugs and vaccines by the Industry Ministry. Dr
Munaf Husayn, its acting manager, said that "the company is
finding it difficult to produce some vaccines due to the
shortage of raw materials. UN inspection teams also used to
interfere in our work. The company was hit four times and
several of its buildings were destroyed." (David Nissman)

"Komsomolskaya Pravda" reported on 11 March that a school in
Tatarstan's city of Naberezhnyye Chelny is now teaching
"Wahhabism" and that some of its students have volunteered to
fight for Islam in Chechnya and Iraq.
The Muslim Spiritual Administration in Kazan, learning
that Wahhabism (an Islamic trend which it does not approve)
was being taught in schools under its control, sent a
commission from the Tatar Muslim Spiritual Association to the
"Yulduz" Muslim high school last January to check the
situation. According to the Moscow paper, "What violations
they uncovered there we can only guess. But it did emerge
that in the breaks between Arabic lectures the pupils there
were shown propaganda films about Chechen combat formations."
It also came out that a preacher in the mosque attached
to the school and an official of the school were involved in
the recruitment of the students for Chechen detachments.
Some 14 youths there reportedly have expressed the wish
to fight the Americans in Iraq and are already at military
camps there, the paper said. And it also claimed that
officials of the Naberezhnyye Chelny branch of the all-Tatar
public center leadership have been openly recruiting young
boys for the Iraq detachments. (David Nissman)

Jawhar N. Salem, speaker of the house of the Iraqi Kurdistan
National Assembly, sent a letter to UN Secretary-General Kofi
Annan to protest what he called Iraq's systematic Arabization
policies directed against Kurds, Assyrians, and Turkomans.
The area now under control of the Kurdistan Regional
Government (KRG) covers approximately 54 percent of the
region of Iraqi Kurdistan and contains 3.6 million people.
Outside of this "safe haven" lies 46 percent of the territory
of Iraqi Kurdistan and almost 2.5 million people of Kurdish,
Assyrian, and Turkoman ethnicity. It is this area which is
the subject of Mr. Salem's letter of protest.
His letter states that the KRG "remains anxious about
the well-being of their brethren who suffer the cruel
practices of the Iraqi regime in the unprotected region," the
"Kurdistan Observer" reported on 17 March. In that region, it
suggests, the Kurdish and other non-Arab population is
subjected to a policy of "ethnic cleansing," including being
evicted from their homes, altering nationality, and
introducing tribal Arabs into Kurdish lands. Moreover, it
says, to eliminate all traces of Kurdishness, the Iraqi
authorities have changed place names, removed archaeological
evidence, and denied non-Arabs the right to purchase land
there. The KRG argues that all of these actions violate UN
Security Council Resolution 688, and it calls for the UN to
intervene. (David Nissman)

the Iraqi National Turkoman Party has called for UN
supervision of next summer's elections in northern Iraq.
According to Aydin Beyatli, "current political ambiguities in
northern Iraq" were affecting the Turkoman population. He
urged that "a solution to the crisis should be solved within
the territorial integrity of Iraq," the "Turkish Daily News"
reported on 15 March.
Turkomans currently are experiencing difficulties in
cooperating with the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), which
they accuse of denying them their cultural rights. While
Beyatli stresses that a solution must be found within Iraq's
territorial integrity, he has said that the alternative would
be the establishment of a Turkoman federation.
The concept of the establishment of a Turkoman
federation, or some equivalent political entity, was also
raised earlier this year. The leader of the Iraqi Turkoman
National Turkoman Party, Mustafa Kemal Yaycili, said in
January that the Turkomans had been left out of the
Washington Agreement. He pointed out that "as it is, the plan
being implemented under the Washington Agreement offers two
options: the establishment of an independent Kurdish state,
or a tripartite federation of Kurds, Shiites, and Arabs" (see
"RFE/RL Iraq Report," 29 January 1999.)
Riyaz Sarikahya, the head of the Turkmeneli Party, has
proposed the establishment of an autonomous "Turkmeneli
Region" between Mosul and Kirkuk (see "Turkish Daily News,"
24 January 1999.)
Elections and who should particdipate in them are
currently causing the most difficulty for Iraq's non-Kurdish
minorities. The plan of the KRG calls for only those living
in areas under Kurdish control -- also known as the "safe
haven" -- to take part. An official spokesman of the
Kurdistan Democratic Party, Safin Diza'i, has made it clear
that "only Turkomans living in Kurdish-controlled areas can
take part in the elections. Some 90 percent of Iraq's
Turkoman population live in Baghdad-controlled areas of Iraq.
A major issue before the international community is to
find a formula acceptable to all parties concerned with the
election to permit a wider participation in next summer's
electoral activities. One of the reasons that this question
is so intractable is that it inevitably raises questions
about what a post-Saddam Husseyn Iraq will look like. Abbas
Al-Bayyati, secretary-general of the Islamic Union of Iraq's
Turkomans, said in January that a future regime should take
note of the diversity of Iraq's population and "establish the
basis for a pluralistic political system that absorbs all the
components of the people within its legislative and executive
mechanism, according to each component's percentage of the
Any such decision will also be significant for Iraq's
future territorial integrity. If some sort of democratic,
free modus vivendi cannot be found among Iraq's heterogeneous
ethnic groups, Iraq seems certain to continue to be a source
of regional instability long after the present regime is
gone. (David Nissman)

Council, meeting in Irbil in northern Iraq, has issued a
"final resolution" relating to activities of the Iraqi
Turkmen Front. Proceedings of the Council also included a
discussion of regional and international issues related to
the Turkmen cause.
The resolution marked out its five most immediate
concerns. The first point was a condemnation of the attacks
on Turkmen political parties and establishments on 1 August
1996 and 10 November 1998 in Irbil, and compensation from
local authorities for the damages was requested.
The second point was a condemnation of "the ethnic
cleansing, oppression, discrimination, assimilation, and
forced relocation applied by the Baghdad regime on the region
outside the secured zone," according to the 16 March Internet
edition of Turkistan-N.
Third, immediate action from Amnesty International and
human rights groups for the immediate release of all Turkmens
as well as all political prisoners arrested by the Baghdad
regime on 31 August 1996.
Fourth, the "futile attempt to create puppet parties in
the region in order to present the Turkmens as a divided
people has been severely condemned." These efforts have had a
certain degree of success in the international arena because
the Iraqi Turkmens are only now emerging as a people with a
clear agenda and plans for a common future.
The final point concerns continuing talks between the
Iraqi Turkmen Front (ITF) and the Kurdistan Democratic Party
(KDP) over compensation for damages to Turkmen establishments
and organizations. Satisfaction of this debt will help to
bring an end to the tensions existing between the ITF and the
KDP and thus will bring a greater stability to the area.

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End of DNI-NEWS Digest - 20 Mar 1999 - Special issue