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There are 10 messages totalling 1042 lines in this issue.

Topics of the day:

1. Press law approved
2. The Salam is dead. peace be upon The Salam
3. Iran/Reuters: Iran's hardliners take aim at press freedoms
4. Iran/AP: Iran Parliament Makes Writers Liable
5. Iran/Reuters: Canada Nuclear Fusion Reactor Might Go To Iran
6. Iran/Reuters: U.N. warns of new population boom in Iran
7. Iran/Reuters: 7/07/99's Iranian News Papers Headlines
8. Iran/BBC: Iran closes down Salam newspaper
10. Iran/Stratfor Foundation: Barak Floats the Idea of Rapprochement with Iran


Date: Wed, 7 Jul 1999 14:05:14 +0200
From: Jamshid Naghizadeh <janakgf1@W200ZRZ.ZRZ.TU-BERLIN.DE>
Subject: Press law approved

TEHRAN, July 7 (AFP) - Iran's conservative-dominated
parliament on Wednesday adopted the outline of a
controversial bill aimed at tightening controls on
the country's press.

The bill was passed by 125 votes to 90, with 55 MPs
absent, but it will be examined in detail by the
assembly in the next few days before becoming law.

The press is a gateway for cultural invasion, so let
us take measures,"
said the conservative parliamentary speaker Ali Akbar

"Some people, under the pretext of press freedom, are
plotting against the system," he charged.

Reformers in Iran who backed President Mohammad
Khatami have repeatedly criticized the bill as an
attempt by conservatives to muzzle free speech ahead
of key parliamentary elections in February next year.

Under the bill, "national security-related" press
offences would be handled by Iran's hardline
revolutionary court rather than press courts.
Individual journalists as well as directors of
publications would be legally responsible for
violations of the press law.

But liberal Culture Minister Ataollah Mohajerani, a
staunch Khatami ally, said: "Freedom can not be
repressed by any law."

"We have to create laws in accordance with freedom,
not freedom according to our laws," he told

"If a crime is committed, we will take legal action,
but let the people first say what they want to say,"
said Mohajerani, who fended off a bid by parliament
in May to oust him for failing to defend Islamic


Date: Wed, 7 Jul 1999 19:11:51 +0100
From: "a.abdi" <a.abdi@BTINTERNET.COM>
Subject: The Salam is dead. peace be upon The Salam

The Salam is dead. It may rest in peace until the day of its




Date: Wed, 7 Jul 1999 20:17:52 -0500
From: "Aryo B. Pirouznia" <aryopirouznia@EMAIL.MSN.COM>
Subject: Iran/Reuters: Iran's hardliners take aim at press freedoms

FOCUS-Iran's hardliners take aim at press freedoms

08:22 a.m. Jul 07, 1999 Eastern
By Jonathan Lyons

TEHRAN, July 7 (Reuters)

Iran's parliament on Wednesday swept aside objections by the government of
moderate President Mohammad Khatami and approved the general outlines of
tough new press restrictions that threaten to eviscerate his entire
programme of social and political reforms.

With 125 of 215 deputies present voting Yes, parliament approved in
principle a series of changes to the press law that would tighten controls
on the media, effectively rolling back the press revolution set in motion
after Khatami's populist landslide election in May 1997.

The vote came after the personal intercession of influential speaker Ali
Akbar Nateq-Nouri, loser to Khatami in the presidential poll, asking MPs to
set aside deep-set differences and give preliminary approval to the bill.
Final details would be worked out after consultations with the government,
he said.

``Both MPs who are for and those against it admit that the present law in
force is vague in some parts. Therefore, let us just vote to accept the
amendments in principle and then representatives of the factions will sit
with each other and the government and sort out the details,'' the speaker

Proposed changes in the new bill include compelling journalists to reveal
their sources, barring opposition journalists and editors from ``any form of
press activities,'' and strengthening conservative influence over the media.

Other measures would effectively limit government subsidies to reformist
publications and institutionalise the right of the Revolutionary Courts --
created to expedite political cases -- to intervene in complaints against
the media.

Conservatives say the move was necessary to defend ``Islamic and
Revolutionary values'' from a Western-inspired cultural invasion, but
reformers and their backers in much of the Iranian media fear a clampdown on
hard-won freedoms.

``Newspapers do not have the right and the freedom to plot against the
system,'' hardline deputy Marziyeh Vahid-Dastjerdi told the chamber.
``Giving unlimited freedom to the newspapers will lead to dictatorship.''

Opponents charged the law was an attempt to reverse the Khatami landslide.
``When 20 million people vote for the president, this means his policy of
opening up the media is approved by the people,'' said Qorbanali Qandahari.

The margin of victory surprised analysts, many of whom had expected a narrow
defeat for the new restrictions. One parliamentary observer said the office
of Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, had lobbied behind the
scenes to ensure approval.

Whatever the source of the victory, government officials tried to put a
brave face on the vote.

``We must wait until the result is clear. This will be a long process, and
we cannot make advance judgment of what will happen,'' Minister of Culture
and Islamic Guidance Ataollah Mohajerani, whose office is responsible for
press affairs, told reporters after the vote.

A senior aide to Mohajerani said negotiations on a final text could take at
least three months, before parliament would face a final vote. ``This is
just the beginning,'' he said.

But reformist newspaper editors and commentators said there was little
ground for optimism that the bill could be watered down substantially. ``If
this situation continues then a lot of independent newspapers will not be
able to continue publication,'' Ali Hekmat, editor of Khordad daily, told

Pro-Khatami editor Abbas Abdi of the daily newspaper Salam said hardliners
may have won the battle but were certain to lose the war. ``You cannot gain
victory by oppression. This is not a victory of the right faction, this just
shows their ignorance.''

Still, Abdi said the government and its backers had little hope to make
anything but cosmetic changes in the restrictions: ``These are unimportant,
minor issues. The major issue is that the bill to change the press law has
been approved.''

Moderate newspapers were expected to play a large role in promoting
reformist candidates in next February's crucial parliamentary elections, but
new limits on the press could tip the balance of power toward the
conservatives who now control the assembly.


Date: Wed, 7 Jul 1999 20:19:14 -0500
From: "Aryo B. Pirouznia" <aryopirouznia@EMAIL.MSN.COM>
Subject: Iran/AP: Iran Parliament Makes Writers Liable

July 7, 1999
Iran Parliament Makes Writers Liable
By The Associated Press

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP)

Authorities shut down a leading moderate newspaper on Wednesday, hours after
hard-liners pushed a bill through Iran's parliament aimed at curbing the
country's increasingly bold media.

The outspoken Salam daily, a staunch backer of the reformist President
Mohammad Khatami, was closed on orders of the hard-line judiciary, the
official Islamic Republic News Agency reported.

Action against the paper was widely expected after it published details of
an alleged Intelligence Ministry plot to muzzle the press.

Earlier Wednesday, Iranian hard-liners pushed a bill through Parliament that
makes writers, not publishers, liable for what they write.

The new legislation is a major setback to moderate allies of Khatami, whose
efforts to open up Iranian society have been overwhelmingly backed by the
majority of Iranian newspapers.

For months, hard-liners locked in a power struggle with Khatami's faction
have been trying to undermine his support by closing newspapers, arresting
journalists and refusing to prosecute vigilantes who attack moderate
newspapers and journalists.

The legislation was approved by 125 of the 215 deputies present in the
Majlis, or Parliament. The hard-line speaker, Ali Akbar Nateq-Nouri, took
the unusual step of calling for an open ballot, which forced more
independent deputies to vote for the bill. The number of negative votes and
abstentions was not known.

In the run-up to the vote, Nateq-Nouri urged deputies to approve the bill
now and debate its details later.

``We all feel the danger, don't we? Let's lock the doors to the enemy and
vote for the bill. Then we can among ourselves and debate the details,'' he
told the Majlis.

Culture Minister Ataollah Mohajerani warned of the chilling effect of making
reporters directly subject to the courts.

``We should not do something to create fear in the minds of writers,''
Mohajerani said in a radio broadcast monitored in Dubai.

In April, the hard-liners suffered a major defeat when they failed to
impeach Mohajerani, whose ministry controls the media.


Date: Wed, 7 Jul 1999 20:16:44 -0500
From: "Aryo B. Pirouznia" <aryopirouznia@EMAIL.MSN.COM>
Subject: Iran/Reuters: Canada Nuclear Fusion Reactor Might Go To Iran

Canada Nuclear Fusion Reactor Might Go To Iran

06:09 p.m Jul 07, 1999 Eastern
By Randall Palmer

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada's fledgling nuclear fusion reactor program might
be sold lock, stock and barrel to Iran, which U.S. officials have often
accused of seeking to acquire nuclear weapons.

The director of the program, physicist Real Decoste, said Wednesday that
negotiations were advanced with Iran on the sale of the experimental reactor
and its technology, since the federal government cut off funding in 1997.

``We are dismantling everything and trying to sell the equipment along with
the technology and the knowledge,'' said Decoste, whose runs the Canadian
Center for Fusion Magnetics.

He insisted that fusion -- as distinguished from fission technology used in
commercial nuclear power plants -- would in no way be useful to military

``Fusion is very peaceful development. It's the most peaceful use of the
atom you could think of,'' he told Reuters from the group's offices outside
Montreal. ``There is no possibility of a military application for this

Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade as well as
the Atomic Energy Control Board were nonetheless vetting the proposed
transaction to be sure it did not contribute to nuclear proliferation.

``That is an overarching concern,'' foreign affairs spokesman Sean Rowan

And, because Canada applies what it calls a ``controlled engagement policy''
toward Iran, it will also require specific approval from Foreign Minister
Lloyd Axworthy.

Fission harnesses the energy released from splitting atoms, which powers
atomic bombs and nuclear plants.

Fusion tries to generate power by joining the nuclei of atoms together, but
scientists have yet to come up with a commercially viable, controlled
process that produces more energy than it consumes -- which is why Ottawa
stopped paying.

But the fusion process, which powers the sun, also is what is used in the
hydrogen bomb.

University of Waterloo physicist Robert Mann, who has no connection to the
project, said he did not believe the Tokamak technology used in the Canadian
project had ever been militarized.

``The kind of technology in Tokamak has never been used in weaponry to my
knowledge,'' he said.

Rowan said the question of possible military uses is exactly what the
federal government experts would look into.

Member of Parliament Bob Mills, foreign affairs spokesman for the opposition
Reform Party, urged caution: ``(On) fusion technology, I'm not sure you'd
get agreement among scientists as to whether it could be used for military

``The real world out there is one of terrorism, one of a greater instability
than ever before,'' he added.

``It seems before you hand over this technology you should be sure that
whoever you're handing it over to is a very stable, reliable country.''

Decoste said about C$150 million -- more than $100 million U.S. at current
exchange rates -- had been spent on the center, which started up in 1981 and
installed its reactor in 1987.

Besides Ottawa, the other main contributors to the project were Quebec
universities and the electricity company Hydro Quebec, now the sole owner.

Decoste said the current negotiation was to sell it for less than C$10
million. Some of the scientists still left with the center could work on it
in Iran if it goes through.

He said Iran was simply forward-looking, trying to build an economic future
for when their oil eventually runs out.

($1-$1.47 Canadian)


Date: Wed, 7 Jul 1999 20:21:44 -0500
From: "Aryo B. Pirouznia" <aryopirouznia@EMAIL.MSN.COM>
Subject: Iran/Reuters: U.N. warns of new population boom in Iran

U.N. warns of new population boom in Iran

09:45 a.m. Jul 07, 1999 Eastern
By Mehrdad Balali

TEHRAN, July 7 (Reuters) - Iran, successful in cutting birthrates in recent
years, is facing a renewed threat as a generation of post-revolution
babyboomers is reaching reproductive age, a U.N. official said on Wednesday.

``The population growth rate is certainly alarming. The rate is expected to
rise from 1.4 percent in 1996 to 1.7 percent in 2001,'' Mohammad
Mosleh-Uddin, the United Nations Population Fund's representative in Iran,
told a news conferences.

``This is because 52 percent of the population is below the age of 20 and 62
percent is under 25,'' he said.

Iran's population was 60 million according to the latest census in 1996, but
is believed to be 63 million at present.

Mosleh-Uddin said he had sought $11 million in UNFPA funds to help Iran curb
population growth during its third five-year development plan for the period
from March 2000 to March 2005.

Birthrates surged after the 1979 Islamic revolution until the end of the
1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war, as officials encouraged bigger families and shelved
family planning programmes.

By 1986, the annual growth rate had reached 3.2 percent, among the highest
in the world, and the country's population nearly doubled by the end of the
decade to around 55 million.

Alarmed, the government embarked on a population control programme with
UNFPA help in 1988.

Despite the opposition of some prominent Shi'ite Moslem clerics, Iran's
health ministry introduced contraceptives and launched an information
campaign in rural areas on the issue.

In 1989, the late spiritual leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini ruled in a
milestone decree that contraception was not un-Islamic. In 1993, parliament
adopted a family planning law, limiting state child support to three
children per family.

The U.N. official said the UNFPA had set up workshops in remote areas and
helped Iran improve its census-taking. It also co-operated with the health
ministry on helping prevent unwanted pregnancies and set up nine centres for
contraceptive surgery.

Billboards have been erected at street corners to educate the public and the
ministry plans to offer pre-marriage family planning counselling to young

Such campaigns have helped raise the average marriage age to 22.4 from 19.9
in 1986, according to UNFPA statistics. Iranian officials say economic
difficulties facing the young also contributed to this trend.

The U.N. official said the UNFPA also encouraged greater participation of
men in family planning programmes.

``Iran is already progressive in this regard in the Moslem world. Six
percent of Iranian men use condoms and two percent undergo vasectomy. This
is considerable compared to other Islamic countries.''

The United Nations last month awarded Iran's former health minister, along
with a Vietnamese body, its 1999 Population Award.


Date: Wed, 7 Jul 1999 20:22:37 -0500
From: "Aryo B. Pirouznia" <aryopirouznia@EMAIL.MSN.COM>
Subject: Iran/Reuters: 7/07/99's Iranian News Papers Headlines

PRESS DIGEST - Iran - July 7
03:18 a.m. Jul 07, 1999 Eastern

TEHRAN, July 7 (Reuters) - These are some of the leading stories in Iranian
newspapers on Wednesday. Reuters has not verified these stories and does not
vouch for their accuracy.


- A group of university students demonstrated outside the French embassy in
Tehran to protest recent anti-Iranian remarks by the speaker of the French


- The European Union's trade with Iran fell by more than 20 percent in terms
of value during the first three months of 1999, continuing last year's trend
due to falling oil prices. Iranian exports to 15 EU countries fell by 25
percent during the first quarter to $815 million compared with the same
period in 1998.


- Iran's insurance industry witnessed a 30 percent growth rate over the past
five years, an official said.


- Police broke up a demonstration outside the United Nations office in
Tehran in protest at the recent arrest of two student leaders. A number of
protesters were detained by police.


- Iran sold some $135 million worth of petrochemical products during the
first three months of the year.


Date: Wed, 7 Jul 1999 20:20:53 -0500
From: "Aryo B. Pirouznia" <aryopirouznia@EMAIL.MSN.COM>
Subject: Iran/BBC: Iran closes down Salam newspaper

Wednesday, July 7, 1999 Published at 21:58 GMT 22:58 UK
World: Middle East

Iran closes down newspaper

Conservatives say new law will prevent abuses of press freedom

Iran has suspended a leading moderate newspaper on the same day that the
parliament passed the first reading of a sweeping new law which has been
strongly criticised by moderates as a move to curtail press freedom.

A court ordered Salam, one of the main newspapers backing President Mohammad
Khatami, to cease publication after a complaint from the Intelligence
Ministry over the printing of a secret ministry report about an alleged
hardline plot to muzzle the country's pro-reform press.

The ministry accused Salam of "confusing public opinion" by publishing
selected parts of the memo, along with allegedly misleading headlines, a
court statement said.

The publication ban will remain in force until a final ruling is issued by
the court, the statement added. A Salam journalist earlier told reporters
that police had arrested the newspaper's night editor, Morad Raisi.

The new law, set to be adopted after a detailed examination by parliament in
the next few days, would give Iran's hardline Islamic revolutionary courts
jurisdiction over "national security-related" press offences, rather than
referring such cases to press courts as in the past.

"The press is a gateway for cultural invasion, so let us take measures,"
conservative parliamentary speaker Ali Akbar Nateq-Nuri said during debate
on the bill, which was passed by 125 votes to 90 with 55 deputies absent.

"Some people, under the pretext of press freedom, are plotting against the
system," he said.
Mr Nateq-Nuri said the aim of the law was to prevent the abuse of freedom in
the press.

The measure was denounced by top moderates including liberal Culture
Minister Ayatollah Mohajerani, a staunch ally of President Mohammad Khatami,
who has put increased press freedom at the heart of his reform agenda.

"Freedom can not be repressed by any law," Mohajerani told the parliament.
"We have to create laws in accordance with freedom, not freedom according to
our laws."

President Khatami and his entire cabinet stated their opposition to the law
last week.

Editors from a dozen newspapers said in a joint statement Tuesday that the
bill would pave the way for "restrictions on the press, practically no job
security for the country's journalists and preliminary steps for closure of
various press institutions."

Although Iran's moderate press has enjoyed considerable freedom since
President Khatami's election in 1997, it has come under mounting pressure
from hardliners within the regime in recent months.

Two journalists were arrested last month, on charges of spreading
anti-Islamic propaganda. Their newspaper, Hoveyat-e-Khish, was banned
because of its attacks on clerical hardliners.

In February a revolutionary court closed down the Zan newspaper after it
published a new year's message from Farah Diba, the former empress and wife
of the deposed Shah.

The press crackdown comes ahead of next spring's key parliamentary
elections, seen as crucial for the country's conservatives after they were
solidly defeated this February in Iran's first municipal elections since the
1979 Islamic revolution.


Date: Wed, 7 Jul 1999 22:34:04 -0500
From: "Aryo B. Pirouznia" <aryopirouznia@EMAIL.MSN.COM>

Vol. 2, No. 27, 7 July 1999

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

The "RFE/RL Iran Report" appears three days late this week
due to a Czech holiday.

The case of the alleged Israeli espionage ring and the
arrests of 13 Jews has received little attention in the
Iranian press in the last week, having been crowded out by
other domestic issues. Relatively moderate sources about
the espionage case reject linkages with Said Emami and the
murders of dissident politicians and intellectuals (see
below: "Fallahian In From The Cold"), while hardline
sources take the opposite approach. The Iranian government,
meanwhile, continues to reject international concern over
the Jews' fate as a form of foreign interference.
Expediency Council Secretary Mohsen Rezai, addressing
a memorial service for Mustafa Chamran in Susangerd
(southwest Iran), said: "The Zionists have raised a hue and
cry about the arrest of the 13 spies in order to cover up
their own involvement in the recent murders and to mislead
public opinion." He went on to say, according to the
Islamic Republic News Agency on 25 June, that this is all
part of an Israeli plot to destroy Iran's improved
relationship with Europe. Hojatoleslam Mohammad Mohammadi-
Araqi, who heads the Islamic Propagation Office, also said
there was a connection between the arrests and Said Emami's
suicide, "Keyhan" reported on 26 June.
The English-language daily "Iran News" editorialized
on 28 June that Israel is using the issue to create tension
in Iran. In fact, the editorial said, Israel is frightened
by Iran's improved relations with its neighbors, especially
Saudi Arabia. Also, Israel has blown the case "out of all
proportion" in order to divert the world's attention from
its "savage attacks in southern Lebanon."
U.S. State Department spokesman James Foley rejected
the charges as "unfounded and unacceptable," AP reported on
2 July, while Benjamin Gilman (R-NY), chairman of the House
of Representatives' International Relations Committee, said
"The arrest of these Iranian citizens is a specious act and
an indication that Iran is going backward." Laurent Fabius,
president of the French National Assembly, warned Tehran
that if the 13 Jews are executed, Western governments could
break diplomatic relations with Iran, Reuters reported on 2
Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi addressed the issue in
messages to several of his counterparts, the secretaries-
general of the U.N. and the Organization of the Islamic
Conference, the speaker of the European Union, and UN High
Commissioner for Human Rights (which is odd, considering
Tehran prevents U.N. human rights investigators from
visiting Iran). The message, state radio reported on 28
June, said they had been charged but not convicted. Release
requests, furthermore, were unacceptable and insulting to
Iran's sovereignty. According to Interfax on 1 July, the
message from Kharrazi to his Russian counterpart, Igor
Ivanov, said: "certain groups assume that Iran's new image
hinders their interests and they try to create a global
atmosphere of suspicion around it." All statements by the
Iranian government have pointed out that Muslims as well as
Jews have been arrested.
Amongst all this comes a story from the 28 June issue
of the weekly "U.S. News & World Report" that German
Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's office has linked the
release of the 13 Jews to President Hojatoleslam Mohammad
Khatami's proposed trip to Bonn. The Iranians responded by
saying only four of the 13 are actually spies. (Bill Samii)

The alleged suicide of former Ministry of Intelligence
and Security official Said Emami (also known as Islami) in
mid-June is having a significant impact on the Iranian
domestic scene. While some may have hoped that his death
would close the file on the murders of Iranian dissident
politicians and intellectuals, others are still demanding
answers. Amidst these demands for information, cracks are
appearing within the hardline establishment.
Last week Abbas Abdi, in an interview with "Khordad"
newspaper, said former Intelligence Minister Ali Fallahian-
Khuzestani should be questioned about Emami's suicide and
the murders. This suggestion was repeated a few days later
in "Salam," the newspaper Abdi edits. Editorials in "Salam"
and "Khordad" repeated this demand during the following
An unattributed commentary in "Neshat" on 24 June said
those who appointed Emami as the official in charge of MOIS
internal security "should answer public opinion." Asked if
Emami's death eliminated the "main clue" to the murders,
Ezzatollah Sahabi, managing-editor of "Iran-i Farda"
monthly, said Emami was not the main clue; rather,
Fallahian's "role remains suspicious," "Neshat" reported on
27 June. The Office of Strengthening Unity, an Islamist
student group, issued a statement demanding that Fallahian
answer questions about his tenure at the MOIS.
Parliamentarian Zabihollah Safai, "Hamshahri" reported on
30 June, said Fallahian is the "main culprit" because he
was responsible for appointing Emami. Such statements from
relatively moderate publications, commentators, and
organizations are not surprising.
More interesting are the comments from Hojatoleslam
Mohammad Mohammadi Reyshahri, regarded by some as the
MOIS's "eminence grise." He claimed, according to a 27 June
"Khordad" editorial, that he had always opposed the
appointment of Emami to the MOIS. Despite this advice,
Fallahian went ahead and appointed him.
To learn more about Emami, one can examine who
attended memorial ceremonies in his honor. Of the 200-400
(estimates vary) mourners, the most significant name is
Hojatoleslam Ruhollah Husseinian. While a guest on the
television talk show "Cheraq" last winter, Husseinian said
the spate of murders were the work of President Mohammad
Khatami's supporters (see "RFE/RL Iran Report," 25 January
1999). Husseinian explained his presence at the ceremony in
a letter published in "Neshat" on 28 June: "Offering one's
condolences to the relatives of a dead person is an
important humanitarian and Islamic principle."
Husseinian's presence undermines Reyshahri's efforts
to exonerate himself by implicating others. Husseinian was
deputy head of the Society for the Defense of Values of the
Islamic Revolution, the party Reyshahri created to support
his unsuccessful presidential campaign. Also, Husseinian
held high positions in the MOIS and still does so in the
Special Court for the Clergy, both of which Reyshahri
helped create.
(Referring to Husseinian, Ayatollah Mohammad Abai-
Khorasani, secretary of the Qom Association of Seminary
Students and Lecturers (Majmae-yi Mudarisin va Muhaqiqin-i
Howzeh-yi Elmieh-yi Qom), said, according to "Sobh-i Imruz"
on 29 June: "Those who attributed the serial killings to
the supporters of President Khatami and then participated
in the mourning ceremony for Said Emami should repent.
Those who referred to Emami as 'martyr' did not explain
based on which Islamic source they call 'martyr' a person
who committed suicide." Parliamentarian Seyyed Mohsen
Yahyavi said, according to "Salam:" "paying tribute to
anyone who has betrayed his nation and whose offense has
been proven, is a counter-revolutionary and anti-Islamic
These events indicate that Fallahian may end up being
the fall guy for these murders. His prosecution, which
seems highly unlikely, may even be served up as a sop to
the German government, which issued a warrant for his
arrest in connection with the Mykonos case. An extremely
unlikely alternative is the implication of Hojatoleslam
Qorban-Ali Dori-Najafabadi, who has been criticized a few
times for allegedly ignoring Khatami's instructions to
replace Emami. The actions of Husseinian, meanwhile,
indicate that those who think and possibly act as Emami did
continue to hold important positions in the Iranian
government. (Bill Samii)

Public receptivity towards the government's
explanation of Emami's suicide and the series of murders
varies, and some interesting theories have emerged.
Theories blaming outsiders predominate, but generally they
are met with scorn. Official treatment of the issue has
increased public distrust of the government.
Rasht Parliamentarian Ahmad Ramazanpur Nargesi said:
"The officials are not giving explicit and clear details of
the different aspects of Emami's case maybe because such
details will harm national security," "Tehran Times"
reported on 26 June. Apparently few people believe that
Jafar Dameerchi, political editor of the conservative
daily "Resalat", said the real mastermind behind the
killings is Mustafa Kazemi (aka Musavi), "Tehran Times"
reported on 27 June. Others continue to suspect foreign
involvement. Habibollah Asgharoladi of the Islamic
Coalition Association said the Kurdistan Workers' Party
(PKK) was behind at least one of the deaths, "Manateq-i
Azad" reported on 27 June.
After pointing out that Emami dealt with internal
security for the MOIS, "Neshat" asked on 24 June: "if we
imagine that Said Emami was an Israeli pawn and that all
the issues of the case were related to sources outside the
country, what is the guarantee that Israel might not be
able to place more elements in these positions?"
Ezzatollah Sahabi, managing-editor of "Iran-i Farda"
monthly, said the authorities are "mocking" the public by
telling them nothing about the case for seven months,
"Neshat" reported on 27 June. Sahabi ridiculed allegations
that Emami was an agent of foreigners: "Some people think
they can exonerate themselves in this way. They do not know
that they are undermining their own credibility by their
"Hamshahri" asked on 26 June why so many people (up to
400) attended the memorial ceremonies (at Hojat Bin al-
Hassan Mosque, Behesht-i Zahra, and Jame'eh Mosque) for
Emami, when he died with such a bad reputation. When asked
why the memorials were not disrupted by ultra-conservative
thugs, hardline daily "Jebheh" director Massoud Dehnamaki
said it was understandable that they did not disrupt
Emami's memorial ceremony, although they disrupted
ceremonies for nationalist figures like Mehdi Bazargan and
Ali Shariati. He explained it by saying that at the latter
two events, people chanted slogans against theocracy and
waved flags bearing the Lion and Sun of the previous
There are even suggestions that Said Emami is not
really dead. "Manateq-i Azad" reported on 29 June that its
reporter found no trace of Said Emami on the computer
records at Behesht-i Zahra cemetery, and his efforts to
follow up on the issue were stopped by a cemetery official
citing "security reasons."
The overwhelming public reaction to the alleged
suicide was summarized by former prosecutor Ayatollah
Musavi-Tabrizi. He told "Hamshahri" on 27 June: "the people
do not believe that Emami was the chief culprit. Nor do
they believe that he committed suicide." (Bill Samii)

After a great deal of speculation, on 22 June
Judiciary chief Ayatollah Mohammad Ali Yazdi, who is due to
retire in late-July after ten years, identified his
replacement. Yazdi said Ayatollah Mahmud Hashemi-Shahrudi
will succeed him, although "nothing has been put on paper
yet," according to the Islamic Republic News Agency. On 29
June, however, "Neshat" said the appointment may not go
through because Hashemi wants to replace some senior
officials who are associated with the ultra-conservative
Islamic Coalition Association.
Such comments may be unexpected, because on paper,
Hashemi seems a likely candidate. He currently serves on
the Council of Guardians of the Constitution, Council for
Discernment of Expediency, and is a member of the Qom
Theological Lecturers Association. While such a background
indicates Hashemi's conservatism, it does not necessarily
indicate a politically hardline inclination.
More significant are Hashemi's Iraqi origins (born in
Najaf in 1948) and his many years of study in Najaf under
Grand Ayatollah Khoi. Forced out of Iraq by the Baathist
regime, Hashemi served as the Supreme Leader's
representative to the Supreme Council for the Islamic
Revolution in Iraq. It is possible that Khamenei is
appointing individuals with Iraqi backgrounds to such
important positions because he is losing support in the
Iranian religious community. This may explain Ayatollah
Yusef Sanei's disapproval of Hashemi, which "Arya" reported
on 22 June. It also is possible Hashemi was chosen because,
as an Iraqi, he will not have an independent base of
support and will be dependent on Khamenei.
The rumors of Yazdi's pending retirement initiated
commentary on ways to improve the judiciary, which
currently is viewed as a hardline bastion. Attorney Ahmad
Bashiri said the judiciary requires a reorganization which
will remove individuals "not familiar with the intricacies
involved in this field." He said the replacements should be
those who "have sufficient familiarity with intricacies of
judicial work," "Khordad" reported on 23 May. Bashiri also
urged a review and revision of the existing legal code.
A 17 June "Salam" editorial said the Judiciary's main
weakness is the obvious political inclination of its chief,
Yazdi. Rather than easing tensions, Yazdi's statements
cause greater societal unrest. The editorial complained
that Yazdi is against a free press, and that he failed to
act on the U.N. human rights report. An article in "Neshat"
on 19 June said Yazdi had appointed many conservatives who
had lost their previous government posts. He tried to unify
all the country's courts so only one individual conducts
the initial investigation and then passes the final
judgment, thereby "extending the influence of the clergy
over the Judicial body."
The 19 June "Neshat" article also said that since the
defeat of conservative candidate Hojatoleslam Ali Akbar
Nateq Nuri in the 1997 presidential campaign, Yazdi has
become Khatami's chief political rival. But in this
rivalry, a student group complained in an open letter,
Khatami has not protected them from the Judiciary. The
Islamic Society of Students of Semnan said "The Judiciary
has clearly been ignoring the laws for some times. ...
[creating] the impression ... that the Judiciary is
involved in political work." The students told Khatami:
"The people want to see for themselves that you support
some of your own programs, in a transparent and explicit
manner, otherwise they -- because of aged-old habit --
would become pessimistic soon." (Bill Samii)

Recent reports about demonstrations at his home in Qom
and about renewed efforts to keep him under house arrest
indicate the continuing political relevance of Ayatollah
Hossein-Ali Montazeri-Najafabadi, once designated as
successor to Father of the Revolution Ayatollah Ruhollah
On 27 June, a memorial honoring the 18th anniversary
of the death of Hojatoleslam Mohammad Montazeri, the son of
Ayatollah Montazeri, was held in Qom. Mohammad Montazeri
and 72 other important regime members were killed in a
bombing of the Islamic Republic Party headquarters (it is
not known how many actually died, but 72 was chosen because
that is how many of Imam Hussein's followers were killed at
Karbala). "Neshat" and "Arya" reported on 26 June that a
number of religious figures, including Hojatoleslams
Mohammad Taqi Fazel-Meybodi, Ghulam Hussein Nadi, and
Abulfazl Musavian, sent a letter of condolence to Ayatollah
Montazeri. These three were detained previously on the
orders of the Special Court for the Clergy because of their
closeness to Ayatollah Montazeri.
An article in the conservative "Abrar" newspaper
denounced attendance at the memorial, saying the Montazeris
were close to Mehdi Hashemi, who was executed in the late-
1980s for plotting against the government. Ahmad Montazeri,
the son and spokesman for Ayatollah Montazeri, rejected
such claims in a 30 June interview with RFE/RL's Persian
Service, pointing out that the regime frequently pins such
labels on those it fears.
On one hand, a 29 June report in "Arya" claimed that
100 people attended the ceremony and a violent
demonstration followed, while "Khordad" reported the same
day that 4000 people attended and a short demonstration
followed. On the other hand, Ahmad Montazeri told RFE/RL
that the event was peaceful. Only about 30 people attended
and security officials were present the whole time.
Several months ago reports appeared that the Supreme
National Security Council had asked the Supreme Leader's
office to end the house arrest of Ayatollah Montazeri (see
"RFE/RL Iran Report," 22 February 1999). "Sobh-i Imruz"
newspaper reported on 29 June that the Special Court for
the Clergy urged revocation of the Supreme National
Security Council's request.
Ahmad Montazeri said reports of the Supreme National
Security Council release request are floated every few
months, but they are all untrue. The reason the Clerical
Court is angry with Ayatollah Montazeri this time, Ahmad
said, is his father's comments about the inappropriate role
the Guardians Council has assumed in determining
eligibility of candidates for elected office -- "advisory
supervision". Although Ayatollah Montazeri was in the group
that created the constitution and defined the Guardian
Council's role, his views contradict those of Supreme
Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. (Bill Samii)

Two events in June -- Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal
Kharrazi's visit to Lebanon and the appointment of
Lebanon's Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri as deputy head
of the Islamic Parliamentary Union -- may indicate a change
in Iranian attitudes towards Lebanon. It is believed that
Iran may decrease its support for Hizballah -- the Islamic
resistance in Lebanon -- while aiding the Lebanese
government itself. Events following the 24-25 June Israeli
airstrikes against Lebanon, which Tel Aviv says were in
retaliation for Hizballah attacks against Israel, support
this view. While Iran's approach to Lebanon may be
changing, furthermore, its attitude towards Israel has not.
Lebanese commentator Karim Pakradouni writes in "Al-
Sharq Al-Awsat" on 25 June that Kharrazi's trip is a public
indicator of the change in relations, as is Tehran's
matching support for the Beirut government as well as
Hizballah. Lebanese President Emile Lahud reciprocated by
sending a military delegation to a Hizballah award
ceremony. This means, Pakradouni writes, that Iran "is
prepared to back the Lebanese state against U.S. and
Israeli pressure." He summarizes: "The visit and the
election are signs that something has changed within
Lebanon and Iran in the direction of dialogue and
understanding, and this Lebanese-Iranian transformation is
a milestone on the road of change taking place in Arab-
Iranian relations."
Writing in Beirut's pro-Syrian Arab nationalist "Al-
Shira" on 28 June, Nasir Shararah also believes changes are
occurring. He writes that in the 1980s Tehran wanted to
assassinate Berri, Amal's leader, because it was
"contemplating taking total control of the Shia in Lebanon
and that Berri was a hurdle in this regard!" The emergence
of Sheikh Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah changed Iran's
attitude, Shararah writes, because he was not loyal to Qom
and wanted to establish himself as a source of emulation
for the Lebanese and Arab Shia.
Berri's reception in Tehran indicates "the end of an
era" during which Iranian extremists rejected relations
with Amal, according to the "Al-Shira" article. Some
suggest this change stems from President Mohammad Khatami's
blood relationship with Seyyeda Rabab al-Sadr, the sister
of Seyyed Musa Sadr, the Iranian-born cleric who helped
establish Amal in 1968. But Shararah believes other factors
are more important, particularly Berri's relationship with
Syria, Iran's strategic ally. The Iranians backed Berri to
show their openness to all Lebanese parties, thereby
building on the Islamic parliamentary union as a vehicle
for Iranian international influence. In exchange, Berri
wants more aid for Amal so the polarization between its
supporters and those of Hizballah will be eliminated.
Furthermore, Shararah writes, Berri wants official Iranian-
Lebanese channels to be stronger than unofficial ones.
After Israeli jets bombed bridges south of Beirut,
targets south of the Litani River, and a power plants
supplying Beirut (on 24-25 June), in a deliberate targeting
of Lebanese infrastructure, the editor of "Al-Quds Al-
Arabi" Abdelbari Atwan wrote on 28 June that the
relationships of Iran and Syria with Lebanon have changed.
This was made clear when "the jets struck more than once
without a single missile being fired at them, particularly
by the Syrian forces that are supposed to defend Lebanon in
such circumstances." These events indicate "a new stage in
Lebanon and Syria, one in which there might be no room for
the Islamic resistance or any other resistance."
The belief that Iranian policy in Lebanon is going
mainstream and in closer accord with Syrian policy is borne
out by events following the Israeli raids. Kharrazi flew to
Damascus to discuss the situation with his counterparts. He
explained: "The fate of Iran, Syria, and Lebanon -- in
terms of the policies these states choose to pursue -- is
intertwined. ... [Iran] will support the bold resistance of
the Lebanese people against the hostile Zionist entity and
its repeated attacks on Lebanon," official Syrian radio
reported on 27 June. The only support he mentioned was
provision of engineers from the Roads and Transport
Ministry to help rebuild damaged bridges.
On the other hand, the Iranian leadership was quick to
condemn Israel. Khatami, in a message to Lahud, expressed
concern about "The inhuman atrocities of the Zionist regime
against the innocent people and its attacks on residential
areas and civilian installation of Lebanon," the Islamic
Republic News Agency reported on 28 June. In a 30 June
speech at the 26th Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers
in Ouagadougou, Kharrazi said: "The Zionist aggression is
yet another clear indication of the continuation of Israeli
policy of violence and terror ... and obstruction of peace
and stability in the region. The Zionist regime attempts to
force its illegitimate and expansionist designs through
intransigence, persistent violation of its international
undertakings and imposition of new conditions on Lebanon."
(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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Date: Wed, 7 Jul 1999 22:42:28 -0500
From: "Aryo B. Pirouznia" <aryopirouznia@EMAIL.MSN.COM>
Subject: Iran/Stratfor Foundation: Barak Floats the Idea of Rapprochement with

2000 GMT, 990707 Barak Floats the Idea of Rapprochement with Iran

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz has reported that newly elected Israeli Prime
Minister Ehud Barak has plans to seek a formal rapprochement with Iran.
Barak reportedly said that he finds it imperative for Israel to resume
contacts with Iran given the changes in the political climate in the Islamic
Republic since the election of President Mohammed Khatami two years ago.
"Iran's military power and ballistic advances, together with her steadily
rising favor with the U.S., have convinced Barak that it may be time to stop
branding Iran an evil terrorist nation and start falling in line by
recognizing it as an unchangeable factor that can be dealt with," the paper

What makes this report both interesting and plausible is a similar article
in Haaretz last month citing an unnamed British official who said Khatami
wanted to open secret talks with the Jewish state on a series of
confidence-building measures on arms control. However, that report was
quickly dismissed by the Iranian government as a propaganda ploy. As well,
the Israeli Foreign Ministry has stated openly that there can be no talk of
rapprochement with Iran while it detains 13 Iranian Jews on charges of
spying for Israel.

Still, we believe that neither of these articles is too far fetched. Barak
is steadily shaping up as a proponent of advancing Israel's strategic
interests through a policy of realpolitik. Israeli and Iranian strategic
interests have more similarities than differences in the post-Cold War era.
This has resulted in unofficial and tacit cooperation between the two
countries for years despite the rhetoric from both countries. The most
obvious strategic problem that both countries have faced is Iraq. Iran, for
obvious reasons, has always had to place most of its efforts into containing
Iraq. Israel has had to contend with the same problem, albeit to a lesser
extent. In fact, as Israeli army chief of staff between 1991 and 1995, Barak
himself said he considered Iraq -- which had fired Scud missiles on Tel Aviv
during the 1991 Gulf War -- was more "troublesome" than Iran. Therefore,
while both countries will be hard pressed domestically to tear down the
propaganda wall that separates them ideologically, official signs of
rapprochement are not unreasonable in the near future.

There is and always has been a logical connection between Israel and Iran.
But logic is not all there is to the equation or, more precisely, there is
the internal logic of Iranian ideology. Iran has several devils. Israel and
the United States are two. Iraq is another. One of Iran's major dilemmas is
working with one devil against another. It is one thing to do it. It is
quite another thing to do it publicly. Barak's desire to shift ongoing,
private and tacit cooperation into a public concession makes perfect sense
in every context except domestic Iranian politics. Barak is leading a new
and ambitious government. He may seriously want to explore these
possibilities with Iran. But it will take substantial evolution in Iran's
domestic political scene before this can occur. We suspect that Barak knows
this well and is exploring the boundaries limiting his freedom of maneuver
before settling down to work.


End of DNI-NEWS Digest - 6 Jul 1999 to 7 Jul 1999