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Subject: DNI-NEWS Digest - 25 Mar 1999 to 28 Mar 1999 - Special issue

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Subject: DNI-NEWS Digest - 25 Mar 1999 to 28 Mar 1999 - Special issue
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There are 11 messages totalling 1281 lines in this issue.

Topics in this special issue:

1. Gary Sick:A LOOK AT...THE IRANIAN STALEMATE: They're Changing. Why Can't
2. Edward Said : Roots of the West's Fear of Islam
3. Noam Chomsky: The madman theory
4. WPost:The old tie that caught Tehran's eye
5. Iran welcomes New Year
6. Iran Opposition Report Attack on Paramilitary HQ
7. Taliban Beats People Who Mark Shiite Muslim New Ye
8. Beirut Hostage to Sue Iran
9. Iran's Leaders Regret Economic Woes


Date: Sun, 28 Mar 1999 10:11:01 -0500
From: Rahim Bajoghli <rbajoghli@JUNO.COM>
Subject: Gary Sick:A LOOK AT...THE IRANIAN STALEMATE: They're Changing. Why
Can't We?

Washington Post
March 28, 1999

A LOOK AT . . . THE IRANIAN STALEMATE: They're Changing. Why Can't We?

By Gary Sick

You may not have heard, but the United States is in a state of national
emergency with Iran. No need to rush to your local bomb shelter, but
several days ago President Clinton informed Congress that he was again
declaring a state of emergency--for the fourth year in a row.

You haven't heard about it because no one--including, presumably, the
president--actually believes such an emergency exists. Instead, the
declaration is a self-perpetuating bureaucratic fiction that is legally
necessary to justify an elaborate array of sanctions against Iran. But
these sanctions are increasingly irrelevant and blind us to the truth
about how much Iran has changed.

There was a time when the United States faced a genuine national
emergency with Iran. I was working at the White House in 1979 when a
radical Islamic movement toppled the shah, launched subversive attacks
against U.S. friends and allies in the Persian Gulf and held 52 Americans
hostage at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran for more than a year. In the early
1980s, Iran fully deserved its reputation as a fanatic, belligerent
state. That image continues to drive U.S. policy, but the Iran of 20
years ago is not the Iran of today.

Consider the origin of the present "emergency." Four years ago, as the
U.S. presidential campaign was in its early stages, Iran offered to sign
a $1 billion contract with Conoco Inc. to develop an offshore natural gas
field in the Persian Gulf. Iran's choice of an American company was a
friendly gesture intended to demonstrate that the two countries could do

The contract was legal, but Washington was outraged at the prospect of a
breach in its "dual containment" policy against Iran and Iraq. So
President Clinton, acting under the International Emergency Economic
Powers Act, declared the emergency and issued a series of executive
terminating all commerce with Iran. This was a gross abuse of the letter
and spirit of the statute, which was designed to deal with "unusual or
extraordinary threats" to U.S. national security.

Then, with the campaign in full swing, Congress passed and the president
signed the 1996 Iran-Libya Sanctions Act. This absurd bit of legislation,
advertised by its sponsors as a blow against international terrorism, was
intended to punish foreign firms that took business denied to American
firms. It was so politically appealing that it passed the House without a
dissenting vote. Even those who recognized it as pure demagoguery did not
want to be seen as soft on Iran.

A lot has happened since. A new Iranian president, Mohammed Khatemi, was
elected in May 1997 on a platform dedicated to civil society, rule of law
and reconciliation with the international community. He spoke directly to
the American people on CNN last year, expressing regret about the
hostages and unequivocally denouncing both terrorism and the development
of weapons of mass destruction. Iran also has initiated cooperative
relations with its Arab neighbors and has worked to repair ties with U.S.
allies in Europe. Khatemi has just returned from a groundbreaking visit
to Italy, where he met with the Pope, and he will soon make goodwill
visits to Saudi Arabia and France. As the president of the Organization
of the Islamic Conference, Khatemi now speaks for mainstream Muslims
throughout the world, and Iran has altered its rhetoric accordingly.
Moreover, Iran has been a vociferous opponent of the Taliban Islamic
extremists in Afghanistan and a tacit proponent of a change of regime in

Khatemi's overwhelming electoral victory surprised everyone, but in
retrospect it can be seen as the product of a reform movement begun years
earlier under his predecessor, Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. I became
aware of this in 1994 when I began inviting Iranian scholars and
political observers to meetings with their counterparts from the Gulf
states. Such contacts were considered daring at the time; today they are
common. Similarly, reformists views--which seemed so bold back then--are
now standard fare in the Tehran press.

The reform movement draws support not only from women and young people,
but from many of the clerical elite who made the revolution. The movement
faces formidable and occasionally violent opposition from some of the
conservative elements, especially in the judiciary and the security
forces. Khatemi understands that enduring progress will only be possible
if the conservatives are brought into the mainstream. Contrary to
expectations, Khatemi has been able to forge an acceptable working
relationship with Iran's spiritual leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, even
though they represent different constituencies. Iranian politics is
chess, not football; opponents are not usually demolished, they are
and neutralized, a fact easily overlooked by Americans schooled in
adversarial politics.

The Clinton administration no longer talks of dual containment, and
sanctions against the foreign companies that inherited the Conoco
contract have been waived. Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
announced last
June that the U.S. objective with Iran is to develop "a road map leading
to normal relations." But there is a strange disconnect between America's
words and its actions. While U.S. officials speak in a new tone of voice,
all the elements of the old containment policy remain in place.

U.S. officials say they favor more academic and cultural contact between
the two societies, but we continue to treat visiting Iranians as common
criminals. No one is exempt; we even fingerprint grandmothers coming to
visit their families in Los Angeles. Under the sanctions, Iranian
students have been prohibited from taking the standard English-language
proficiency exam required for admission to Western colleges, visitors to
Tehran cannot
use credit cards issued by American banks, and the small but growing
number of Iranian scholars coming to the United States cannot be paid
honorariums--all in the name of a "national emergency" that doesn't exist
but must be ritually reaffirmed each year.

When the gap between words and actions becomes so wide that it inspires
bewilderment and scorn, it is time to take a fresh look. The United
States continues to have genuine concerns about Iran. We disapprove of
its opposition to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process; we dislike its
support of the Hezbollah guerrillas who are confronting Israel's military
forces in southern Lebanon; we are worried about its potential to develop
weapons of mass destruction, especially after its test of a missile
capable of reaching Israel.

It is difficult, however, to make a logical connection between our
objections to Iran's policies and the web of punitive sanctions that
remains on the books. We have serious differences with China as well, but
U.S. officials maintain that those differences can best be resolved by
engagement and persuasion, not by hostility and estrangement. (We also
negotiated with the Soviet Union, even at the height of the Cold War, and
we have reconciled with Vietnam, even though 50,000 Americans were killed
in that war.) We owe Iran no favors. But if our actions are harming our
political and economic interests in the Persian Gulf while not addressing
our policy concerns, something is wrong.

We make strenuous efforts to deny Iran a nuclear power station while
withholding the technology that would allow it to make clean electricity
from its ample supplies of natural gas. Despite alarming reports in the
early 1990s that Iran would have a nuclear bomb by 1999, Iran is scarcely
closer to a nuclear weapon today than it was then. We are right to be
concerned, but we should also recognize that Iran's decision to proceed
slowly--rather than pursue a crash program--may offer a basis for

Our policy of isolation and economic hostility is ignored by Americans
who are visiting Iran in small but growing numbers. Foreign companies are
lining up to grab the agricultural and energy deals now prohibited to
Americans. Even the timid Japanese provide credits for building
hydroelectric dams in Iran over our objections. Yet U.S. policy continues
to be driven by inertia and old political habits.

It is in our interest for Iran to become a stable country, to integrate
itself into the international economy and have a stake in regional
stability. In short, it is time for a selective lifting of sanctions.

We should have no illusions that a change of policy on our part would be
greeted with a sudden change of heart in Tehran. Its domestic politics
are as much a prisoner of the past as our own. But in the past year, we
have seen two former Iranian hostage takers, Abbas Abdi and Ebrahim
Asgharzadeh, calling for a new opening with the United States. Abdi met
publicly with former American hostage Barry Rosen in Paris. Both Iranians
have been physically attacked by hard-line thugs for their audacity, but
Asgharzadeh was also recently elected to the Tehran municipal council
over the strenuous opposition of the clerical overseers. The reform
process in Iran is messy and ultimately uncertain, but it is real.

The last comprehensive review of U.S. Persian Gulf policy occurred under
President Nixon in 1969. Since then the Cold War has ended, the Soviet
Union has disintegrated, the United States has replaced Britain as the
region's predominant military power, the Iranian monarchy has vanished,
Iraq has invaded two of its neighbors, the Asian subcontinent has gone
nuclear and oil has evolved from a strategic weapon to a routinely traded
commodity. We have improvised one response after another, but many of our
policies are artifacts of an earlier day.

Before signing another certification of a state of national emergency,
President Clinton should ask himself whether this kind of bureaucratic
reflex action is part of a policy solution or whether, in fact, it is
part of the problem.

Gary Sick served on the National Security Council staff under Presidents
Ford, Carter and Reagan. He is Senior Research Scholar at Columbia
University, where he directs Gulf/2000, a research and documentation
project on the Persian Gulf.

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Date: Sun, 28 Mar 1999 11:38:29 -0500
From: Rahim Bajoghli <rbajoghli@JUNO.COM>
Subject: Edward Said : Roots of the West's Fear of Islam

Edward Said : Roots of the West's Fear of Islam

By Ken Shulman: International Herald Tribune

Born into a Palestinian Christian family in East Jerusalem in 1935,
Edward Said, a professor of comparative literature at Columbia
University, has written extensively on Middle East politics. He spoke
recently with Ken Shulman in Percoto, Italy.


Q. Has the West's attitude toward Islam improved since you published
''Orientalism'' in 1978?

A. I don't think it has improved at all. In fact, it has decidedly
worsened. If you look at how Islam is represented today in newspapers and
on television, you see that it is still considered a threat, something
that must be walled out. The Arab world is depicted as a place full of
terrorists and fanatics. Instead of expanding, the West's comprehension
of the Arab world is contracting.

Q. What is the history of this anti-Arab prejudice?

A. The prejudice was created at the same time Islam was born, when Islam
was a political and economic threat to Europe. It is no coincidence that
Dante places Mohammed in the next to last circle of hell in his Divine
Comedy, right next to Satan. In the Renaissance, we have the figure of
Shylock, but we also have the figure of Othello.

It wasn't just the Jew who was suspect in Christian Europe. It was also
the Arab. The Arab who was indolent, diabolic and dishonest. On one hand,
this world of the Orient fascinated the Europeans. On the other, it
terrorized them.

Q. Is there a hint of truth in the current stereotype of the Arab world?

A. Of course there is, just as there is a hint of truth in all
stereotypes. This is what makes it possible for them to be so widely
accepted. But the distortions in the stereotype are far greater than the
few elements of realism they may contain. Today, the standard view of the
Orient is a vestige of 19th-century European colonialism, when
anti-Eastern prejudice reached its zenith.

The West's almost obsessive emphasis on terrorism and fanaticism in the
Arab world is a form of exorcism. They see it in Islam so they won't have
to recognize that the same elements exist in their own societies, and in
alarming levels.

Q. Is the West's prejudice against the Arab world more virulent than its
prejudices toward other non-Western cultures?

A. I don't think so. If you read the European political literature of the
19th and early 20th centuries, you will see the same disdain expressed
toward India, China and Africa.

Q. How does a nation that has been treated with such persistent scorn
view itself?

A. The self-image of the Arab world is often negative, and this can be
quite damaging for a people. There is a great component of self-loathing,
and of desperation.


Q. Has the peace accord between Israel and the Palestinians altered the
West's perception?

A. Very much so. Once Arafat was portrayed as the most diabolic man on
the planet. Now he is supported and invited to appear on mainstream talk
shows. Unfortunately, this aperture doesn't apply to all Palestinians. It
just applies to the ''right'' ones, the ones with the ''right'' ideas. It
hasn't led to any greater awareness of the problems and the history of
the Palestinian people.

Q. Is there a danger that in using force to maintain order among its own
people, the Palestine Liberation Organization will begin to lose some of
the sympathy it has gained in the West?

A. I hope so. Because when the current Palestinian authorities jail
newspaper editors and torture prisoners, they are merely doing Israel's
dirty work. Israel and the Western governments want Arafat to repress
certain elements of his society. They want him to be a dictator. The
mechanism of the peace accord makes this perfectly clear.

I am for peace. And I am for a negotiated peace. But this accord is not a
just peace.

The International Herald Tribune

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Date: Sun, 28 Mar 1999 11:46:16 -0500
From: Rahim Bajoghli <rbajoghli@JUNO.COM>
Subject: Noam Chomsky: The madman theory

The madman theory

A speech delivered by Noam Chomsky, Sept. 22, 1998, at the University of

I want to go back a half a century - I think we live very much within an
era that was more or less created then. There are occasional moments in
human affairs where power relations make it possible to establish social
and economic arrangements that actually merit the term world order.

Merit might not be the right word. It's not necessarily a phrase that
should be invested with positive connotations, as history amply reveals.
One of the most dramatic and in fact most easily timed of those moments
was about 50 years ago in the aftermath of the most devastating single
catastrophe in human history, which took place right in the heartland of
western civilization. At the end of the war, the United States, of
course, had an overwhelming share of global wealth and power and,
perfectly naturally, dominant forces within the state corporate nexus in
the United States planned to use that power to organize the world as much
as they could in accord with their own conceptions.
The most critical part of the Third World was then and I think remains
today the Middle East, for the very simple reason that it's the locus of
the world's major energy supplies for as far ahead as anybody can see.
Hence, it was considered to be, and is still considered to be, of
particular importance that the first beneficiaries of that wealth are not
the people of the region; rather the resources must be under effective
U.S. control, they must be accessible to the industrial world on terms
that the United States leadership can see is appropriate and,
crucially, the huge profits that are generated must flow primarily to the
United States, secondarily to its British junior partner, to borrow the
term used by the British Foreign Office rather ruefully to describe its
new role in the post Second World War era. This is done in various
ways. In part it's recycled by local managers who have to be dependent on
the global rulers, a long story which continues.

Well quite naturally these arrangements breed continual conflict.
Internal U.S. documents describe them in the conventional way. The
conflicts are conflicts with radical Arab nationalism that threatens U.S.
dominance. For the public it's put a little differently, varying over
time. These days it's international terrorism, or the clash of
civilizations; tomorrow it will be something new, but it's basically the
same ones all the time. The question is, who's going to be the first
beneficiaries of the region's resources.

These conflicts are likely to become more virulent and ominous in the
coming years, at least if the analysis and projections of quite a number
of geologists are anywhere near accurate. A reasonably broad consensus
(there's plenty of room for disagreement and uncertainty) but a
reasonably broad consensus was captured in the headline of a major review
article on the topic, in the journal Science - the journal of the
American Association of the Advancement of Science a couple of weeks ago.
The headline was, "The next oil crisis looms large and perhaps close." It
may be a little hard to believe in a period when gasoline prices are at
an historic low, but there are many who regard that as an aberration, a
short-term aberration. The crisis that many people fear is that the rate
of discovery has been declining for some time after having risen steadily
since the earliest discovery of oil, and the Gulf region, the Arabian
peninsula and the Persian Gulf region, that has by now virtually regained
the share of energy production that it had in the early 1970s, (You'll
recall that that was sufficient to bring the era of super-cheap energy to
a sudden end; it happened to be a temporary end but a foretaste of what
lies ahead.) basically back to that share, meaning that degree of power,
and that share is expected to increase, in part because world consumption
is increasing very rapidly and most of the known energy reserves by a big
measure are in that region. And it's also speculated, not apparently
implausibly, that something like the 50-per-cent mark of exploitable
capacity may not be too far away, maybe within the next few decades. All
of this combines to suggest to policy makers and others that the need to
control that region is going to become increasingly important and that's
going to mean very likely increasing confrontations with radical

As a kind of a sidelight to this, I think that, very likely, the latest
terrorist exchange in the last few weeks might well be seen in this
context. I'm referring to the terrorist bombings of the U.S. embassies in
Africa, allegedly by groups who are opposed to U.S. domination of the
major oil producers, and the U.S. missile attacks on Sudan and
Afghanistan. One might ask, why those targets? Well, like the bombings of
the embassies in Africa, the U.S. selected targets that were vulnerable,
not the ones to which the messages were aimed, in either case. The
message for the missile attacks may well have been directed elsewhere, in
this case very likely to Riyadh and Teheran. There have been recent steps
towards rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and Iran, historic enemies,
and that's not an appealing prospect for U.S. global managers. It raises
fears, which have been lingering for a long time, of regional groupings
that will get out of control in the strategically most important part of
the world, which holds the greatest material prize in world history -
that's quoting U.S. assessments from the late '40s, which still prevail.

The U.S. missile attacks have been criticized (you've read plenty of
criticisms of them) as being counterproductive (elite opinion has held
that) because of their effects on the Sudan and Afghanistan. Well, it's a
pragmatic judgment, apparently. The same opinion seems to be largely
unconcerned by the fact that, effective or not, they were war crimes -
that's now partially conceded in the case of Sudan. However, just keeping
to the pragmatic judgment, it might be evaluated in the light of a secret
1995 study of the U.S. Strategic Command, called Essentials of Post-Cold
War Deterrence, which was released recently under the Freedom of
Information Act. It's an interesting document. It resurrects Nixon's
madman theory, as it was called. It says that the United States should
portray itself as irrational and vindictive with leadership elements out
of control and it should exploit the nuclear arsenal for that purpose.

This madman posture can be beneficial to creating and reinforcing fears
and doubts among adversaries, real or potential. In this case perhaps the
big players in the region, Saudi Arabia and Iran, whose potential
rapprochement, which has been going on now for almost a year, is
doubtless a very frightening prospect in Washington. Well, we don't have
documentary evidence, so that's speculation. But I think it's not

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Date: Sun, 28 Mar 1999 13:01:53 -0500
From: Rahim Bajoghli <rbajoghli@JUNO.COM>
Subject: WPost:The old tie that caught Tehran's eye

Washington Post
March 28, 1999

The old tie that caught Tehran's eye

By Sean Boyne

When I arrived in Iran late last month, people were still marveling over
one detail of the recent elections--Sadegh Samii's posters. People had
stared in disbelief at the posters on walls in downtown Tehran. They bore
a picture of Samii, a candidate for the local council, wearing an item of
clothing they had not seen in regular use since the Islamic revolution 20
years before.

Samii was wearing a necktie.

Neckties have been taboo in Iran since the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini
ousted the shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, in 1979. They were seen as
symbols of Western decadence.
If you wanted to emphasize you were a fervent Muslim
in tune with the revolution, you not only grew a beard, you also made
sure your wardrobe didn't include any ties.

The elections were the first local elections since the revolution, and
supporters of reform-minded President Mohammed Khatemi swept the boards.

Samii's gesture may have been a small one but it was also in a sense
revolutionary. At a diplomatic dinner party in Tehran, all the talk was
of Samii. "Have you heard about the guy with the tie?" one foreign
diplomat asked me eagerly, with a mixture of awe and amusement.

I wondered if anything had happened to Samii. Had the religious police
come knocking on his door? So I called and asked him.

Samii turns out to be from an old Tehran family. He speaks English with
an upper-class British accent, and seemed friendly and outgoing. The
53-year-old banker and publisher was wondering what all the fuss was

He patiently explained to me that wearing a tie was no brave gesture of
defiance on his part. He had been wearing one for 40 years, since he was
a schoolboy, he said, and had gotten used to it.

Okay, I reckoned, he may have gotten away with wearing a tie in private.
But displaying posters of himself in one was a different matter. Wasn't
he inviting some kind of retaliation?

"People say wearing a tie is outlawed by the criminal code but I've never
seen any such law in print. Nobody reacted negatively to my
posters--neither the public nor people in authority," he assured me. "I
didn't get elected. . . . But I did come in 31st out of 4,763 candidates,
which is not bad at all."

Samii is, in a way, a symbol of the more open society that is taking
shape under the reforming guidance of Khatemi. During my 10 days in Iran,
I came across many other such examples.

An affluent young trader in Tehran's teeming downtown bazaar noted a
change in the way many women are wearing the obligatory veil. "A few
years ago, they all had the veil pulled down over their foreheads. But
since Khatemi
came in, many women, especially the younger ones, have pushed the veil
back a couple of inches, showing part of their hair. Maybe, next year,
they will not be forced to wear the veil at all," he said.

Another sign of the new openness is the increasing number of young people
using the Internet. There are now at least five Internet cafes in Tehran.
I visited one of the first to open--the Coffee Net in the affluent
northern suburbs. Here, young men and black-veiled young women sit
intently in front of computer screens, surfing the Internet and sending

Occasionally, in parks and on the street, I also saw young couples
holding hands--something that Iranians assured me I would not have seen
before Khatemi was elected in 1997.

But traveling through Tehran one night, I came across a stark reminder of
the past. The headlights of my taxi lit up a rather ghostly scene--a
walled compound patrolled by armed men. It was the former U.S. embassy,
where 52
Americans were taken hostage in 1979. Attitudes in Iran may have softened
since then, but there are still no official relations with the United

When I met with Deputy Foreign Minister Seyyed Sadegh Kharrazi in a
simple but elegant office in northern Tehran, I asked him what the United
States would have to do to bring about normal relations with Iran.

"Just a change of tone will not solve anything," he said. "Who are the
Americans to put an empty spoon in our mouths? The Americans should offer
their apology to the Iranian nation. They should release the frozen
of Iran, and remove their sanctions. If they did so, then it
[normalization of relations] could be considered."

On a personal level, I found many positive things about Iran. Like many
other people--men and women--I felt safe walking its streets late at

I visited Esfahan, one of its stunningly beautiful cities. Shiraz is
another. Most of the people I met were kind and hospitable.

While the restrictions on women are obvious the moment you set foot in
the country, they are clearly not as severe as in some other societies in
the region. Women work outside the home, drive cars and hold office at
the highest levels of government. Of the more than 300,000 candidates in
month's elections, 5,000 were women.

Several veiled Iranian women were on my flight as I left Tehran. By the
time we had reached Dubai, just across the Persian Gulf, they had all
thrown off their head scarves and bulky overcoats to reveal bare arms,
figure-hugging designer jeans, a certain amount of cleavage and
fashionable hairdos.

Their dramatic transformation reminded me that just below the surface of
a conservative, traditional society, young people especially are eager
for change.

Sean Boyne, a Dublin-based journalist, is a correspondent for Jane's
Intelligence Review.

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Date: Mon, 29 Mar 1999 01:35:24 EDT
From: Bobby Iri <Bobby@WWW.DCI.CO.IR>
Subject: Iran welcomes New Year

Iran welcomes New Year
BBC World: Middle East
Sunday, March 21, 1999 Published at 06:55 GMT

Iran's spiritual and political leaders have welcomed the New
Year with messages of hope, broadcast on Iranian television.

The country's supreme spiritual leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei,
said the past year had been --as he put it -- bittersweet for
his country.

He said economic pressures on Iran had made life difficult for
many, but added that the turnout in the council elections had
been a positive aspect of the year.

President Khatami said the nation had experienced some economic
problems because of the fall in oil prices and oil revenues.

He, too, praised the turnout in the council elections. President
Khamenei declared the Iranian New Year as the Year of Imam
Khomeini, in honour of the late Iranian spiritual leader.

From the newsroom of the BBC World Service


Date: Mon, 29 Mar 1999 01:35:38 EDT
From: Bobby Iri <Bobby@WWW.DCI.CO.IR>
Subject: Iran Opposition Report Attack on Paramilitary HQ

Iran Opposition Report Attack on Paramilitary HQ

11:47 a.m. Mar 22, 1999 Eastern
LONDON, March 22 (Reuters) - The Iranian opposition group
Mujahideen Khalq said on Monday its members had attacked the
headquarters of the paramilitary Basij forces in Tehran with
mortars last week.

A Mujahideen statement said its ``operational units launched a
major mortar attack...on Thursday, March 18, against the command
headquarters of...Basij in Tehran's Afsarieh district.''

There was no confirmation from Iran of the reported attack.
The statement said a number of Basij members and commanders were
killed or injured in the attack, which also damaged some

It said the attack was launched in response to a crackdown on a
demonstration in Iran's Kurdistan province on February 22.

The volunteer Basij forces comprise about five million civil
servants, workers, former military men and farmers, with about
500,0rmer military men and farmers, with about
500,000 active members who often assist police in enforcing
Iran's social code.

The Mujahideen has an army in Iraq equipped with helicopters and
tanks, and mounts occasional raids across the border.
Late last year it claimed responsibility for an attack on the
headquarters of the Intelligence Ministry in Tehran. In August
it said it was behind the assassination of a former head of
Iranian prisons in Tehran.

Copyright 1999 Reuters Limited.


Date: Mon, 29 Mar 1999 01:36:06 EDT
From: Bobby Iri <Bobby@WWW.DCI.CO.IR>
Subject: Taliban Beats People Who Mark Shiite Muslim New Ye

Taliban Beats People Who Mark Shiite Muslim New Year

March 21, 1999
Web posted at: 7:35 PM EST (0035 GMT)

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- Taliban soldiers whipped several
residents of the capital with steel wires Sunday after they
defied a ban on new year's celebrations, witnesses said.

The centuries-old festival, based on the Persian calendar, marks
the end of winter. It is widely celebrated in neighboring Iran
and until last year was marked also in Afghanistan.

However, the Taliban religious army which controls most of the
country banned the festival, saying it violates the tenets of

The festival traditionally involves visiting family, decorating
homes with lights and paying respects to deceased relatives at
graveyards throughout the city.

Taliban soldiers beat several people, including women, with
steel wires because they were offering prayers at graveyards in
keeping with new year's celebrations, witnesses said.

Earlier the Taliban asked Shiite clerics to explain to their
followers that new year's celebrations were against Islam.

Many people nonetheless defied the ban.

The Taliban, who largely belong to the Sunni sect of Islam and
are mostly ethnic Pashtunsof Islam and
are mostly ethnic Pashtuns, like most Afghans, rule 90 percent
of Afghanistan.

They espouse a harsh version of Islam that bars women from work
and education, forces men to wear beards and outlaws all light
entertaludininment, including music.

The Taliban are fighting the northern-based opposition alliance,
which comprises mainly of ethnic and religious minorities in a
bid to control the rest of the country.

Copyright 1999 The Associated Press.


Date: Mon, 29 Mar 1999 01:37:08 EDT
From: Bobby Iri <Bobby@WWW.DCI.CO.IR>
Subject: Beirut Hostage to Sue Iran

Beirut Hostage to Sue Iran

BBC World: Middle East
Monday, March 22, 1999 Published at 23:05 GMT

Former US hostage Terry Anderson is to sue the Iranian
government for more than $100m damages, for allegedly sponsoring
siis kidnappers in Lebanon.
He spent six years as a hostage of Shi'a militiamen in Beirut,
the longest period of captivity of any of the 18 US hostages
kidnapped in the latter stages of the civil war in Lebanon.

Mr Anderson says he does not expect to gain financially from the
lawsuit, although he says he is confident of winning.

But it is not Tehran but Washington which Mr Anderson considers
the main hurdle.

"Much of our argument is likely to be with the US government
rather than the Iranian government," he said. "The biggest
obstacle to us receiving any money is the White Hou

Although the US has legislation to force federal agencies to
assist plaintiffs recoup damages in cases like this, President
Bill Clinton issued a blanket waiver against it last year.

Mr Anderson's Lebanese wife, Madeleine Bassil, and his daughter
Sulome, are named in the suit to seek redress for emotional
distre the suit to seek redress for emotional
distress and separation.

Sulome, now 13, was born three months after Mr Anderson's
capture in March 1985. He did not see her until after his
release in December 1991.

'State sponsors'

Correspondents say Washington refuses to assist plaintiffs on
the grounds that it causes complications in dealing with the
other countries involved.

"If we don't file a suit," Mr Anderson explained, "whenever Iran
and the United States settle accounts, we won't be sitting at
the table."

Iran and Cuba, both cCuba, both countries the US accuses of being state
sponsors of terrorism, have both had damages awarded against
them in favour of US citizens.

Iran has denied it has any link with the Lebanese Shi'a Muslim
group Hezbollah, which Mr Anderson says held him hostage.

Hezbollah, which occupies a number of seats in the Lebanese
parliament, as well as fighting a guerrilla war against Israel
in southern Lebanon, is often described by some correspondents
as being "Iranian-backed".

Iran's UN ambassador, Seyed Mohammed s UN ambassador, Seyed Mohammed
Hosseinian, said last week
there is "no shred of credible evidence" that Iran finances

At the time of the kidnappings, the kidnappers demanded the
release of 17 Shi'a extremists in Kuwait convicted of bombing
the US and French embassies there.

Mr Anderson was bureau chief for the Associated Press news
agency in Beirut. He now teaches journalism at Ohio University.

Three hostages, accused by the kidnappers of being US spies,
were killed in retaliation for the US bombing of Libya in 1986
and Israel attacks on the PLO. The rest were eventually


Date: Mon, 29 Mar 1999 01:36:26 EDT
From: Bobby Iri <Bobby@WWW.DCI.CO.IR>
Subject: Iran's Leaders Regret Economic Woes

Iran's Leaders Regret Economic Woes

TEHRAN, March 21 - Iran's leaders said they regretted the
economic hardships of the past year and hoped for better in the
Iranian new year which started on Sunday.
"The year we left behind was as usual full of sweet and bitter
events. What was bitter for us was the hard economic conditions
of people, price hikes and hardships," official media quoted
spiritual leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as saying.

"I hope that God almighty will help Iranian officials remove all
problems facing the Iranian nation in their life, including
their economic problems."

Moderate President Mohammad Khatami -- elected in 1997 on a
platform of economic and political reform -- said: "The year
which ended was one of considerable difficulties, especially the
(economic) pressure on the lower and middle classes.
"The collapse of oil prices on the world markets caused problems
for all paused problems
for all producers, including our country. Luckily, through our
efforts and cooperation from other (producers), we reached an
agreement in the final days of last year which will take a
definite shape in the near future," Khatami added.

He was referring to an accord among major oil producers earlier
this month to cut output in the hope of lifting prices. The
agreement has already brought modest price rises.

Low oil prices led to revenue shortfalls of around $6 billion
dollars for Iran in the past year. Soaring inflation and
unemployment has severely eroded living standards.

Khatami vowed to continue the government's investment policies,
especially in the ent's investment policies,
especially in the oil and gas sectors.

"We have attracted more than $9 billion dollars in foreign
investment on a buy-back basis, which entails no (financial)
commitment on the part of our nation," he said, referring to a
string of deals on oil and gas projects with foreign firms.

"We plan to follow the same policy in the coming year."

Yahoo! World Headlines


Date: Mon, 29 Mar 1999 01:55:16 EDT
From: Bobby Iri <Bobby@WWW.DCI.CO.IR>

Vol. 2, No. 12, 22 March 1999

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

IRANIAN EMBASSY CLOSURES. The Iranian Embassy in Brunei
closed "in a sudden move which surprised many," announced the
"Bandar Seri Begawan Borneo Bulletin" of 9 March. Embassy
officials told the publication the closure was due to
economic problems, and about 20 perce was due to
economic problems, and about 20 percent of Iran's embassies,
including some in Europe, will shut down for the same reason.
Last November Iranian newspapers reported that, for economic
reasons, embassies in Burkina Faso, Gabon, Mozambique, Sierra
Leone, Tanzania, Brunei, and Nicaragua, as well as consulates
in Munich and Shanghai, will close. (Bill Samii)

Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) organization was
criticized for the way it covered President Mohammad
Khatami's trip to Italy. Although his speech at the European
International University in European
International University in Florence was broadcast live, the
daily "Iran" reported on 14 March, the applause after the
speech was not broadcast in its entirety. This, and the fact
that the speech was not rebroadcast nor was it mentioned in
news reports the next day, showed that IRIB has an anti-
Khatami bias, the newspaper claimed. "Khabar va Nazar" from
Rasht recently published an article claiming that IRIB has
always been biased against Khatami. During his presidential
campaign, the publication said, IRIB "directed its propaganda
attacks" against Khatami: "They called him a 'liberal' and
even hinted he a 'liberal' and
even hinted he was against the Vilayat-i Faqih." (Bill Samii)

Khatami's trip to Italy and the Vatican was apparently
considered a success by most Iranian political nsidered a success by
most Iranian political leaders. Most
foreign observers consider it one, too. And new invitations
from Portugal and Azerbaijan have been announced. Iranian
political observers are using the Italian trip as a model for
future trips, particularly the one to France planned for
Iran undoubtedly hopes to make a financial gain from the
French trip, as it apparently did from the Italian one.
Minister of Mines and Metals Eshaq Jahangiri told the "Iran
Daily" on 12 March that agreements worth $2 billion were made
in Italy. Among the projects will be development of the
Bandar Abbas Power Plant, weekly Alitalia flights, the
upgrade of Isfahan's Mobarak Steel Complex, and a road-
building project. There was also discussion about an
unsecured $1.2 billion credit pledged to Iran by an Italian
There were aspects of the Italian trip which upset some
Iranians. Expediency Council Chairman Hojatoleslam Ali Akbar
Hashemi Rafsanjani said in his sermon on 12 March that the
attack on Khatami's limousine by an Iranian exile group in
Rome was the fault o
f the Italian authorities. Rafsanjani
warned: "They could have stopped such incidents from taking
place. We could also do similar things here to retaliate."
Rafsanjani then provided a pointed example of how the French
authorities blocked the movements of
Iranian oppositionists
when the Iranian monarch visited Paris in the 1970s. "Kayhan
International" warned that "the revolutionary nation of Iran
is not willing to tolerate such types of behavior on the part
of host governments towards their president."
Habibollah Asgharoladi-Mosalman, secretary-general of
the hard-line Islamic Coalition Association, expressed
unhappiness with the simultaneous pres
ence of Salman Rushdie,
the condemned author of "The Satanic Verses," in Italy during
the Khatami visit, but thought it was good that Khatami
voiced displeasure with this too. He said "we should take a
lesson from the experiences gained during the visit to Italy
and speak to the West more openly," IRNA reported.
An editorial in the 13 March "Tehran Times" said that
"hidden hands" were behind th hands" were behind the presence of Rushdie
in Italy
during Khatami's visit. It wrote: "the ball is now in the
West's court. If the West succeeds in containing these hidden
hands, bright prospects will be awaiting Iran-West
France has been keen to benefit from these "bright
prospects" since at least August 1998. That is when French
Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine visited Tehran and extended
the invitation on behalf of President Jacques Chirac. Vedrine
was preceded in 1991 by Foreign Minister Roland Dumas, but
little came of the trip because former Iranian Prime Minister
Shahpour Bakhtiar was assassinated in France that August by
Iranian agents.
The reasons for France being high on the visit list are
similar to those for Italy's being first. The first reason is
oil deals. In a symbolically important move, French company
T company
Total signed a $2 billion contract in 1997 to develop the
South Pars oilfield after an American company was forced to
withdraw its tender. And earlier this year Elf Aquitane was
awarded a contract (with Italy's ENI) to work on the Doroud
Second, France has never frozen the credit line granted
to Iran by Hermes, its export credit agency, Milan's "Il Sole
-24 Ore credit agency, Milan's "Il Sole
-24 Ore" reported on 12 March. Even after most European
countries withdrew their ambassadors from Iran over the 1997
Mykonos judgment linked Iran's leadership with the killing of
exile oppositionists, Hermes credit
facilities remained
A third symbolic but also politically important reason
is that Iran currently heads the Organization for the Islamic
Conference. For France's more than two million Muslims it
will be symbolically valuable to have the titular head of the
Islamic community visit their country. (Bill Samii)

Khatami was expected to go to Saudi Arabia before his next
European trip, but at the last moment the trip was canceled.
The trip would have been a chance to discuss oil, religion,
and geopolitics. On the first two, Iran and Saudi Arabia tend
to agree; on the third, they do not.
In the geopolitical arena, the two would have had to
overcome serious differences on the Persian Gulf,
Afghanistan, and an Iranian proposal for an Islamic security
organization. The topic which flared up recently and which
led to the cancellation of Khatami's trip is rival claims by
Iran and the United Arabirates ov Emirates over the islands of Abu
Musa and the Greater and Lesser Tunbs. This and Iranian naval
exercises in the Persian Gulf have earned the condemnation of
the Gulf Cooperation Council, of which Saudi Arabia is the
strongest member.
A second geopolitical topic is Afghanistan. Saudi Arabia
has given the Taliban de facto recognition by signing an
accord with them regarding eligibility of Afghans for the
pilgrimage. Meanwhile, Iran is still angry over the
unresolved case of its diplomats who were murdered by Taliban
personnel last summer.
A third security issue is Iran's proposal for formation
of an Organization for Islamic Peace and Security. This
concept was brought up on 17 March by deputy speaker of
parliament Hassan Rohani. The object of this organization
will be to "settle disputes and disagreements among Islamic
countries," "Iran Daily" reported, with the hope that
Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) members will
"close the doors on aliens, and prevent them from further
intervening in the affairs of the Islamic world."
Saudi Arabia and Iran are the world's biggest oil
producers, so the maintenance of profitable oil would likely
have been discussed as well. Khatami telephoned Saudi Crown
Prince Abdullah about this subject, "Tehran Times" reported
on 14 March. At a later oil ministers' meeting in Holland, a
decision was and, a
decision was made to cut production levels by approximately 2
million barrels per day. The announcement of this decision,
as well as earlier anticipation of it, pushed prices up to
about $14.50 per barrel for light sweet crude oil and $12.60
per barrel of North Sea Brent Blend crude oil, Reuters
How much each country will cut its original output will
be announced at the 23 March OPEC meetings in Vienna.
According to a Reuters survey in February, OPEC producers are
exceeding their output quotas already. John Toalster of SG
Securities told the news agency that one can expect only 70
percent compliance from OPEC and 50 percent compliance from
non-OPEC countries. In that case, he said a cut of 1.4
million barrels per day will be very good.
Simon Henderson of the "Financial Times" recently told
an audience at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy
that Iran is unlikely to cheat on its quota. This is because,
Henderson said, Iran has already been allowed "to calculate
its production cullowed "to calculate
its production cutbacks from an artificially high level."
This issue of quota compliance worries Iranian
observers. Morteza Zaringol, chairman of the parliament's oil
committee, said in a 3 March interview with "Iran News" that
Saudi Arabia has "intentionally harmed" other oil producers,
including Iran, by exceeding its quota. Central Bank Governor
Mohsen Nourbakhsh said on 17 March that with the cutbacks he
expects Iranian budget forecasts to be met.
The timing of Khatami's trip to Saudi Arabia would have
made it religiously significant, because he was expected to
arrive during the pilgrimage period. Because Iran currently
is the leader of the 55-state OIC, this would have
demonstrated the unity of the Islamic community. In a meeting
with the Supreme Hajj Council on 22 February, Iranian state
radio reported, Khatami emphasized the theme of Islamic
unity. He said: "Unity should flourish during Hajj. That is,
attention should be drawn to the dangers threatening the
whole of the Muslim world."
Khatami also referred to Sunni and Shia differences,
such as allegations that Shia are idolaters. Khatami spoke of
the Baqi cemetery in Medina, burial site of the Prophet
Mohammad and his daughter Fatima, and of the second, fourth,
fifth, and sixth Shia Imams. For Shia, visiting Baqi is
considered part of a complete pilgrimage, whereas it is less
important for other Muslims. Khatami said: "This is not
worship of graves. We want to express our respect for the
source and foundation ofour respect for the
source and foundation of our historical identity."
Khatami's presence and the desire to maintain good
relations with Saudi Arabia might have served as a damper on
the demonstrations Iranians usually hold during
pilgrimage. This year, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
promised a political message of "Muslim unity, resistance
against the enemies of Islam, and disavowal of pagans headed
by the U.S. and Zionism." But Khatami said: "we do not want
to make troubles there." What happens now and whether a
different message ist message is sent to the Saudis remains to be seen.
(Bill Samii)

ONES, TOO. British and American agents are behind the deaths
of a bewildering assortment of Iranians, as well as other
events, according to articles published in the Iranian
weeklies "Asr-i Ma" and "Tavana" in the third week of March.
"Asr-i Ma" blamed England and the U.S. for the autumn murders
of intellectuals and oppositionists, and for killing former
Premier Shahpour Bakhtiar (in 1991) and Kurdish dissident
Qasem Sharafkandi (in 1992), although later court cases
assigned guilt to agents from the Islamic Republic --
specifically the Ministry of Intelligence and Security
(MOIS). Foreigners were also blamed in the March 1996 capture
in Antwerp of an Iranian ship carrying mortars, explosives,
and MOIS personnel. "Asr-i Ma" blamed the British for killing
journalist Esmail Raiin (in 1982), Toilers Party chief
Mozafar Baqai (circa 1989), and high-ranking intelligence
officer Hossein Fardust (in 1987). "Tavana" said the British
killed Bakhtiar, Ka
zem Rajavi (member of an Iraqi-funded
terrorist organization), as well as oppositionists and
intellectuals last autumn. Both publications said the motive
is to harm relations between Iran and Europe.
But Expediency Council Secretary Mohsen Rezai said in
mid-February that the Israelis were to blame. He said they
were behind the recent murders of oppositionists and
intellectuals, the assassination of Iranian
prisons' chief
Assadollah Lajevardi, and the attempt on Tehran province
Justice Department chief Hojatoleslam Ali Razini. (This last
attack was blamed on Mehdi Hashemi's gang, too; see "RFE/RL
Iran Report," 1 February 1999.) Rezai also said Israel was
bezai also said Israel was
behind the November attack on a vanload of Americans visiting
Tehran, "Salam" and "Iran" dailies reported on 16 and 17
February, respectively.
This penchant for conspiracy theories which attribute
"the course of Persian history and politics to the
machinations of hostile foreign powers" is described by
University of Pennsylvania Professor Ahmad Ashraf in
"Encyclopedia Iranica." Such "collective delusions," Ashraf
writes, divide the world into a good and evil camps in which
the latter determine histmps in which
the latter determine history. "Various failures and
disasters, ... can thus be blamed on powerful enemies." And
in the current atmosphere of extensive factionalism, it is a
convenient way to avoid blame for one's own failures, while
simultaneously linking one's opponents with foreigners.
Rezai's claims did not get much credit from Iran's more
liberal newspapers. "Sobh-i Imruz" asked on 17 February:
"Why?" The newspaper said asked on 17 February:
"Why?" The newspaper said the Americans' van was pictured in
a hard-line daily before the attack occurred, and the hard-
liners defended the attack after it occurred. "Such people
are like mice who have entered a trap to eat cheese," the
daily said. "And even after the trap closes they want more
cheese!" If Rezai's claims are true, "Khordad" wondered on 18
February, why can
not the intelligence and security forces
protect Iran from foreign agents?
Nor will the judiciary be affected by conspiracy
theories or extralegal pressure. Judiciary chief Ayatollah
Mohammad Yazdi said some political factions and publications
were trying to obstruct judicial investigations. He went on
to say that "the judiciary will not be frightened or
intimidated by threats of those working for some newly
established dailies," the Islamic Republic News Agency
reported on 15 March. (Bill Samii)

of our trip to Cuba, ... is to visit biotechnology centers in
Cuba, and to conduct an analysis of our f and to conduct an analysis of
our future cooperation in
the field of biotechnology," Iranian parliamentarian Seyyedeh
Ghodsiyeh Alavi declared when she arrived in Havana on 7
March, according to Cuba's Radio Rebelde Network. Among
agreements signed by the Italian and Iranian sides during
President Mohammad Khatami's recent European trip was "a
document on scientific and technological cooperation,"
Milan's "Corriere della Sera"ation,"
Milan's "Corriere della Sera" reported on 11 March. Minister

<< Continued to next message >>>


Date: Mon, 29 Mar 1999 01:56:22 EDT
From: Bobby Iri <Bobby@WWW.DCI.CO.IR>

Vol. 2, No. 12, 22 March 1999

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

of Construction Jihad Mohammad Saeedi-Kia discussed an
exchange of scientific information in the veterinary field
when Australian Trade Minister Tim Fischer visited Tehran in
early March, according to the Islamic Republic News Agency.
Knowledge in these fields can be either benign or
malign. Microbes can be developed to protect or destroy
crops. Genes can be manipulated to strengthen livestock and
create disease-resistant plants, or to create incurable
diseases. Pesticides and herbicides can either protect crops
from hostile insects and weeds, or they can destroy crops.
When "The New York Times" published an article on 8
December 1999 stating that Iran was recruiting Russian
scientists with biological warfare experience, the Iranian
government denied it. Such claims were "categorically
rejected" by the counselor of Iran's United Nations Mission,
Gholamhossein Dehghani. Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza
Assefi said such clry spokesman Hamid Reza
Assefi said such claims were meant to retard "technological
progress in Iran."
Valery Bakayev, a Russian biologist with the Pasteur
Institute in Iran who was formerly employed in Soviet weapons
programs, told "The New York Times" on 19 January that he had
never worked on biological warfare projects for Iran,
focusing "solely on the civilian development of vaccines."
And the head of the Pasteur Institute, Morteza Azartoush,
said that his organization "is in no way involved in such
activities," "Tehran Timesy involved in such
activities," "Tehran Times" reported on 27 January.
Scientists from other countries, such as Cuba and China,
allegedly work in Iran, too. Many Iranians work in related
scientific and medical fields. Some are employed at academic
institutions, such as Tarbiat-e Modaress University and
Tehran University. Others work for governmental research
bodies, such as the Razi Institute of Hesarak, which performs
venom and anti-venom studies for the Construction Jihad
Ministry. Others work for military institutions, such as the
Defense Industries Organization or the Islamic Revolution
Guards Corps.
Even exile Iranian opposition groups are involved in
biological research projects, according to an article in the
16 December "Los Angeles Times." United Nations Special
Commission chairman Richard Butler complained that
inspectors' access to an Iraqi facility occupied by the
People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran (a.k.a. Mojahedin
Khalq Organization, for which the National Council of
Resistance is a cover) was blocked. (Bill Samii)

ecember, Hojatoleslam
Mohammad Mohammadi Reyshahri was touted by "Khordad"
newspaper as a possible replacement for hard-line judiciary
chief Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi (see "RFE/RL Iran Report," 11
January 1999). The conservative weekly "Siyasat" identified
two new candidates this week. One of the candidates is
Ayatollah Morteza Moqtadai, who has served as prosecutor-
general and as a parliament deputy. He seems to be a genuine
hard-liner who, during a February 1998 sermon at Tehran
University, said about condemned author Salman Rushdie: "The
shedding of this man's blood is obligatory." Moqtadai also
was involved in the court case against "Tous" and "Jameh"
newspapers, and in September 1998 he accused "certain anti-
revolutionary elements or ignorant persons of making bad use
of the new libertbad use
of the new liberty." The other candidate mentioned by
"Siyasat" is Ayatollah Mohammad Momen-Qomi, who is a member
of the Council for the Discernment of Expediency and the
Council of Guardians of the Constitution. He appears to be
more of a theologian than a political cleric, having been
present at the mourning ceremony for the dissident cleric
Ayatollah Ahmad Azari-Qomi. (Bill Samii)

from the Islamic Republic News Age
ncy (IRNA) show that when
it comes to the issue of Salman Rushdie, condemned author of
"The Satanic Verses," President Mohammad Khatami knows how to
please domestic hardliners. In an interview with IRNA,
Khatami said Rushdie is "a person who has desecrated ... the
feelings of more than one billion Muslims." Khatami went on
to "confirm" the sentence against Rushdie. Habibollah
Asgharoladi-Mosalman, sec hard-line
Islretary-general of the hard-line
Islamic Coalition Association, said Khatami's statement shows
that such anti-Muslim sacrilege "means war of civilizations
and not dialogue among civilizations," IRNA reported on 15
March. And Ayatollah Mohammad Taqi Mesbah Yazdi, a Friday
Prayer leader an
d member of the Assembly of Experts, said
"[Khatami] very nicely defended Imam Khomeini's fatwa for
killing Salman Rushdie." (Bill Samii)

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

The RFE/RL Iran Report is a weekly prepared by A. William
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End of DNI-NEWS Digest - 25 Mar 1999 to 28 Mar 1999 - Special issue