Date: Oct 15, 1998 [ 0: 0: 1]

Subject: DNI-NEWS Digest - 13 Oct 1998 to 14 Oct 1998

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Subject: DNI-NEWS Digest - 13 Oct 1998 to 14 Oct 1998
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There are 8 messages totalling 352 lines in this issue.

Topics of the day:

1. Kyrgyzstan Blocks Arms to Anti-Taleban Forces
2. Iran Upholds Unisex Medical Services
3. Liberal editor freed from Iranian jail
4. 11 killed in Iran bus crash
5. Lion bites off girl's arm in Iranian zoo
6. Iranian authority rejects hospital segregation bill
7. UN envoy meets Taliban leaders
8. Iranian students stage rally to call for Rushdie death

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Date: Wed, 14 Oct 1998 11:10:29 +0200
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad.abdolian@RSA.ERICSSON.SE>
Subject: Kyrgyzstan Blocks Arms to Anti-Taleban Forces

Global Intelligence Update
Red Alert
October 14, 1998

Kyrgyzstan Blocks Arms to Anti-Taleban Forces

Kyrgyz officials, at a press conference on October 13, announced
they had detained a trainload of munitions disguised as
humanitarian aid from Iran bound for Afghanistan. The detention
of the train signals both a shift in the attitude of the Central
Asian Republics toward Iran and a reevaluation of their belief in
the potential of Afghan opposition forces to survive the Taleban
onslaught. The seizure of the munitions shipment may have also
seriously altered the balance of power in Afghanistan, cutting
off the last hopes of Ahmad Shah Massoud's troops and forcing
Massoud into a final act of desperation -- destroying the mouth
of the Salang Tunnel.

On September 23, the Iranian Foreign Ministry requested that
Kyrgyzstan allow a shipment of humanitarian supplies from Iran to
be unloaded in Osh and sent by truck to troops of the former
Afghan government, now the opposition to the Taleban. The train
in question was not hauling only sacks of flour, but also 500
tons of ammunition, including grenades, rockets, and 122 mm
shells. That Iran has been and continues to try to aid the
opposition to the Taleban is no surprise. That Kyrgyzstan
interdicted that shipment is certainly unexpected, but why was
Iran shipping by that rout in the first place?

Iran does not usually send supplies through Kyrgyzstan. The
traditional and quicker route has been to send materiel by train
to Dushanbe, Tajikistan, and from there by truck to Ishkashim
where it is taken across the border into Afghanistan. It is
apparent, however, that Tajikistan decided to make good on its
declaration that supplies to anti-Taleban forces were not coming
out of Dushanbe. With Tajikistan's decision solidified, and the
train already en route from Mashhad, Iran had to quickly reroute
the train and so made the call to Kyrgyzstan. The Kyrgyz
officials, themselves not sure of the chances of survival for the
Afghan opposition, gave no firm commitment to Iran over the route
of the train, leaving themselves plenty of room for plausible
deniability.

Whether or not Kyrgyzstan was going to let the supplies through
was not firmly decided until Uzbek officials halted the Iranian
train in Bekabad and held two cars before sending it on to
Kyrgyzstan. Uzbek officials then apparently decided that they
too needed to be ready for a Taleban victory, and notified Kyrgyz
customs officials in Osh that the train was transporting
munitions. Two days after the train arrived in Osh, during which
time major negotiations were likely being held between the Kyrgyz
government, local Osh customs officers, and Iran, the train was
impounded. (Actually, most of the train was impounded, but two
cars are still unaccounted for.) The move by Kyrgyzstan to hold
the train and issue a public statement to that effect was the
final signal to Iran that the "Stans" were preparing to accept
the victory of the Taleban and wanted to begin making diplomatic
overtures to their new neighbor. It was also an expression of
the growing discomfort they feel in cooperating with Iran.

Aside from the new diplomatic stance of the Central Asian
republics, the detention of the train and subsequent non-delivery
of the ammunition may have hastened the defeat of Massoud, and
will force Iran to make a decisive move in the region. 200,000
Iranian troops have been massed on the border with Afghanistan in
alleged military exercises, but the threat they pose to the
Taleban has yet to be realized. We believe the reason Iran
hasn't yet made a decisive action is because it was waiting for
support from the Central Asian republics and Russia. The most
likely Iranian strategy was to engage in a war of attrition with
the vastly outnumbered Taleban forces along the border. This
would draw Taleban attention while Russian-backed Afghan
opposition forces pushed south from Uzbekistan toward Kabul, to
link up with Massoud as he broke out of the Panjshir Valley. By
deciding against cooperation with Iran, and not allowing Massoud
to get the vitally needed supplies, the Central Asian republics
have left Iran in a position where it must act alone. Iran must
now either withdraw from the border, accepting a Taleban-
controlled Afghanistan and facing ridicule for U.S.-style
military posturing without action, or attack Afghanistan on its
own with questionable chances for success.

More immediately, however, the missing supplies and apparent
abandonment by Central Asian republics have left Massoud's forces
in a state of utter desperation. Reports out of Afghanistan on
October 13 claimed that Massoud's forces have blown up the
northern entrance of the Salang Tunnel, a desperate act that has
been avoided throughout the fighting in Afghanistan. The Salang
Tunnel is the main north-south route through the mountains that
effectively divide Afghanistan in half. Without the tunnel,
heavy traffic must travel around the mountains to the west,
through Herat, the route that the Taleban were forced to take in
their latest offensive in the north. All sides have been
unwilling to destroy the tunnel, as even if they do not hold it,
they may need it some day. To destroy the tunnel would be to
admit that one did not expect to need it.

The Iranian train, already delayed by Tajikistan's refusal to let
it unload in Dushanbe, carried supplies for the winter for
Massoud. With the highway from the Salang Tunnel north to
Uzbekistan in Taleban hands, Massoud has been depending on
mountainous trails for his resupply routes. Those trails will be
closed by winter. Massoud, realizing that neither the trainload
of ammunition nor reinforcements from Uzbekistan would arrive,
destroyed the tunnel as a parting shot at the Taleban. Massoud
in effect admitted he was defeated, sealing off his hope for
reinforcement, but declared he's "taking it with him," physically
dividing the country and limiting future Taleban mobility. Every
action for Massoud's forces is now an attritional action. He has
mountains to the north, but Taleban forces to the east, west and
south. We wouldn't write an obituary for the "Lion of the
Panjshir" yet, but we don't expect significant action from him
until spring, if he survives the winter.

The tenuous cooperation between the Central Asian republics and
Iran, based on a mutual fear of a fundamentalist Taleban-
controlled Afghanistan, is evidently finished. Iran's hopes for
support in a two-front offensive against the Taleban have been
dashed. Massoud's hopes for much-needed ammunition and supplies
for the winter have been crushed. Iran must rethink its course
of action toward Afghanistan. One by one, the Central Asian
republics have expressed neutrality in the situation, accepting
the likelihood of a Taleban victory and consenting to Russian
assistance in defending their borders from both the Taleban and
the Iranians. Iran is alone, its troops are poised, the
decision must be made.

------------------------------

Date: Wed, 14 Oct 1998 11:11:33 +0200
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad.abdolian@RSA.ERICSSON.SE>
Subject: Iran Upholds Unisex Medical Services

Iran Upholds Unisex Medical Services
.c The Associated Press

CAIRO, Egypt (AP) -- Iran's Guardian Council on Tuesday rejected
legislation that would have required separate medical facilities for men
and women.

The council ruled that the proposal ``would result in an increase in public
expenditure.''

The decision was announced on state-run Iranian television and monitored by
the British Broadcasting Corporation in London.

The Guardian Council, made up of six clerics and six lay members, assesses
the constitutionality of legislation enacted by Iran's parliament, the
Majlis. It also screens candidates for major elections.

AP-NY-10-13-98 2209EDT

------------------------------

Date: Thu, 15 Oct 1998 01:45:56 +0100
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Liberal editor freed from Iranian jail

TEHRAN, Oct 14 (AFP) - The director of a popular liberal Iranian
newspaper has been freed from jail a month after he was arrested on
charges of acting against national security, the official IRNA news
agency reported Wednesday
Hamid-Reza Jalai-pour of Toos daily was released Tuesday night
after his mother met Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamanei,
the agency said.
After the meeting, Khamanei ordered a Tehran revolutionary court
to release Jalai-pour on bail, IRNA said, adding that the
"investigation into Jalai-pour's charges would continue."
Toos was shut down by the security forces and its editorial
staff arrested in mid-September for "acting against the national
security and interests."
The three senior officials of the newspaper Mashallah
Shamsolvaezine and Ibrahim Nabavi and Jalai-pour were all taken into
detention.
The culture ministry said Toos was closed because of an
interview with former French president Valery Giscard d'Estaing in
which he claimed Islamic Republic founder Ayatollah Ruhollah
Khomeini had sought and been granted political asylum when he went
to France before the Islamic Revolution in 1978.
Toos, which supported President Mohammad Khatami and his
moderate views, had been popular with young Iranians and
intellectuals.
But it had come under growing attack from hardline conservatives
which accused the paper of seeking to undermine the values of the
1979 Islamic revolution.
Toos took over the staff and offices of the pro-Khatami Jameeh
(Society) newspaper which was opened in February and shut down
shortly afterwards.


------------------------------

Date: Thu, 15 Oct 1998 01:46:07 +0100
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: 11 killed in Iran bus crash

TEHRAN, Oct 14 (AFP) - Eleven people were killed and seven
others injured in a collision between a bus and a truck in central
Iran, newspapers reported Wednesday.
The accident occurred Tuesday on a road near Esfahan, central
Iran, it said.
Some 5,000 people are reported killed in Iranian road accidents
each year.
On Sunday, 15 people were killed and 21 others critically
injured in a similar collision west of Iran.


------------------------------

Date: Thu, 15 Oct 1998 01:46:39 +0100
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Lion bites off girl's arm in Iranian zoo

TEHRAN, Oct 14 (AFP) - A hungry lion bit off the arm of a
10-year-old girl in a northern Iranian zoo, the official IRNA news
agency reported Wednesday.
The girl stuck her left arm into the lion's cage in the
Babolsar, Mazandaran province zoo Tuesday, and the beast "grabbed"
the arm and "chewed it up," the agency said.
The girl, identified only by her first name, Shima, underwent a
two-hour operation at a nearby hospital. IRNA did not specify
whether her arm was saved.


------------------------------

Date: Thu, 15 Oct 1998 01:47:04 +0100
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Iranian authority rejects hospital segregation bill

TEHRAN, Oct 14 (AFP) - Iran's Council of Guardians rejected a
bill calling for sexual segregation in hospitals approved by
parliament early this month, newspapers reported Wednesday.
The council, a higher legislative body which seeks to ensure
laws passed by the parliament conform to the constitution and
Islamic law, said the program would cost money.
The bill, passed by the conservative-dominated parliament on
October 4, would require the health ministry to take measures on
gender segregation in hospitals.
That includes offering medical services compatible with Islamic
law, in particular the treatment of women by female staff and men by
male staff.
The measure received initial approval in April despite
opposition from the government, reformists and the media.
Iranian authorities launched a campaign several years ago to
segregate the sexes in public places, including hospitals, and buses
were segregated by sex after the 1979 Islamic revolution.
Any physical contact between men and women who are not related
is forbidden in the Islamic republic.


------------------------------

Date: Thu, 15 Oct 1998 01:45:46 +0100
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: UN envoy meets Taliban leaders

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Oct. 14 (UPI) -- Leaders of Afghanistan's Taliban
militia say they will release 25 Iranian prisoners if Iran pledges not
to interfere in their country.
Taliban-controlled Radio Kabul reports U.N. special envoy on
Afghanistan Lakhdar Brahimi met with Taliban leaders for five hours
today in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar.
The report says Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar told Brahimi the
prisoners would be freed if Iran guarantees non-interference in
Afghanistan's internal affairs.
The talks took place in the shadow of some 270,000 Iranian troops
deployed along the border. The Taliban, still fighting pockets of Iran-
backed opposition fighters, have diverted 24,000 troops to the border to
keep watch over the Iranians.
Tensions escalated in August when Taliban soldiers, allegedly acting
without orders, killed a group of Iranian diplomats when the Taliban
overran the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif, an opposition stronghold.
Iran accuses the Sunni Muslim Taliban of killing civilians among the
Shi'ite Muslim minority, a charge they deny.
Brahimi's mission is to defuse tension between the two neighbors. He
spent four days meeting Iranian officials last week, then traveled to
Pakistan for talks with Taliban and Pakistani officials.
Radio Kabul said Omar and Brahimi also discussed Saudi dissident
Osama bin Laden, accused by the United States of masterminding the
bombing of two of its embassies in Africa in August.
The broadcast said Omar told Brahimi the Taliban would not hand over
bin Laden to any other country. Omar reportedly told Brahimi: ``Osama
has been restricted in Afghanistan. He is not allowed any kind of
military or political activity.''
Brahimi and Taliban representatives will meet again in Islamabad, the
report said. No date was announced.


------------------------------

Date: Thu, 15 Oct 1998 01:47:31 +0100
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Iranian students stage rally to call for Rushdie death

TEHRAN, Oct 13 (AFP) - Thousands of students belonging to
fundamentalist militia groups held an anti-Western rally here
Tuesday to demand that the death sentence against British author
Salman Rushdie be carried out.
The 2,000-3,000 protesters, among them a number of women in
black chadors, protested outside Tehran university, issued a
statement denouncing pro-Western "cultural plots" in the Iranian
media and expressing support for the fatwa, or religious decree,
calling for Rushdie's death.
The late founder of the Islamic republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah
Khomeni, issued the fatwa against Rushdie in 1989 for alleged
blasphemy in the writer's satirical novel "The Satanic Verses."
"Independently of diplomatic negotiations, we are calling for
the application of the holy death sentence against Rushdie," the
statement said.
Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi, after meeting with
British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook in New York on September 24,
said Tehran was distancing itself from the fatwa as well as a bounty
offered on Rushdie's head by an Iranian religious foundation.
Kharazi's declaration provoked an angry reaction from hardline
conservatives in Iran, who insisted the death sentence was still in
effect.
More than 150 members of the 270-seat conservative-dominated
parliament signed a petition last week describing the fatwa as a
"divine order."
"The verdict against Rushdie the blasphemer is death, both today
and tomorrow, and to burn in hell for eternity," the MPs said, while
a spokesman for the Iranian foreign ministry described the fatwa as
"irrevocable."
The protesters' statement also denounced "abuses of liberty" in
Iran since last year's election of moderate reformer Mohammad
Khatami as president.
The demonstration was organised by the university chapter of
Bassij, a group of volunteer Islamic militia.

------------------------------

End of DNI-NEWS Digest - 13 Oct 1998 to 14 Oct 1998
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