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Subject: DNI-NEWS Digest - 18 Oct 1998 to 19 Oct 1998

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Subject: DNI-NEWS Digest - 18 Oct 1998 to 19 Oct 1998
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There are 6 messages totalling 494 lines in this issue.

Topics of the day:

1. BBC: Militant cleric challenges Guardian Council secretary refuses open
2. Law of Jungle Rules In Iran's Autobahns
3. PRESS DIGEST - Iran - Oct 19
4. Internet access in Iran - Los Angeles Times
5. Freed Iran newspaper head says held in solitary
6. INTERVIEW-Iran moderates see poll as key to reform


Date: Mon, 19 Oct 1998 18:29:19 +0200
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad.abdolian@RSA.ERICSSON.SE>
Subject: BBC: Militant cleric challenges Guardian Council secretary refuses
open debate

Iran : Militant cleric challenges Guardian Council secretary refuses open

BBC Worldwide Monitoring
Source: IRNA news agency, Tehran, in Persian 1021 gmt 15 Oct 98/BBC Worldwide
Monitoring/(c) BBC

Text of report by the Iranian news agency IRNA

Tehran , 15th October: Mehdi Karrubi, the secretary of Tehran 's Militant
Clerics' Society issued a letter Wednesday afternoon [14th October] addressed
to Ahmad Jannati, the secretary of the Guardian Council, in which he called
on him and Mohammad Emami-Kashani, the spokesman of the council, to
participate in a debate.

In the letter, Karrubi said: In interviews and discussions which have been
broadcast by the media, some members of the Guardian Council, including your
excellency and HE Ayatollah Emami-Kashani, have strongly stressed the
importance of the law and have said that tension and unhappiness are the
result of the refusal to surrender to the law, and that objectors are trying
to violate the existing laws of the country by being persistent and by
creating commotion.

In another part of the letter, the secretary of the Militant Clerics added:
From the time that I was the Speaker of the third Majlis until now, my opinion
has been that, unfortunately, the actions of the honourable [Guardian] Council
show cases of the violation of the law, disrespect for certain honourable and
revolutionary individuals, indifference towards the rights of other people,
illegal communications, disregard for the clear instructions of his excellency
the Imam [Khomeyni], contradictory behaviour and giving rise, therefore, to
many subsequent cases of argument.

The letter added: In order to put an end to such tensions, claims and
conflicts, I declare that I am prepared to participate in a debate with your
excellency and the spokesperson of the Guardian Council at any place that the
honourable council approves of; whether this takes place at a university or a
large mosque, in the presence of the people, and whether it is broadcast by
the Voice and Vision [radio and television] or not.

He added: After the debate people will judge if those who have objections to
the Guardian Council are wrong or whether that council is operating outside
the framework of the law so as to impose the particular [political]
preference of its own factional affiliation.

On Wednesday evening Ayatollah Jannati, the secretary of the Guardian Council,
replied to Hojjat ol-Eslam Karrubi's suggestion that a meeting should be held
to resolve the existing problems between them.

In a part of the reply, Ayatollah Jannati said: The jurisconsults of the
Guardian Council were, in the first instance, appointed by his eminence the
Imam [Khomeyni] and subsequently by the eminent leader [Khamene'i].
Therefore, if we are not able to resolve a situation and unable to reach an
understanding amongst ourselves, would it not be better for the person who
appointed us - and who is responsible for finding solutions to issues which
cannot be resolved in an ordinary fashion - to also resolve this issue which
directly concerns his appointees?


Date: Tue, 20 Oct 1998 00:15:29 +0100
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Law of Jungle Rules In Iran's Autobahns

Law of Jungle Rules In Iran's Autobahns [Horseplay]
By Ahmad Khoshnegar
.c The Associated Press

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- Driving on the broad, half-maintained autobahns in Iran
can be a test of nerves. The road rules here have more to do with the law of
the jungle than any Iranian sense of order.

With no regards to speed limits, everyone's out to prove who's the fastest.

Big sedans and clunky roadsters rocket along at 125 kph or more, appearing
seemingly out of nowhere to fill the rearview mirror of lesser models that
wander into the fast lane to pass a truck.

Those who don't get quickly out of the way must endure a tailgater flashing
lights, honking his horn until they do.

There's even a pecking order: Giant (prounced Jiaan) pullover for Volkswagen
drivers who pull aside for an Audi, Audi for BMW, BMW for Mercedes and
for Paykan (old British Hillman cars still produced in Iran)-- depending, of
course, on the driver's testosterone level. And everyone bows to the
Porsche driven by a mullah.

``I love driving really fast,'' says Nasser Yakhchi, a sales director from
Payma who stopped at a rest stop near Karaj in his 1968 purple Paykan ``The
faster I drive, the safer I am, because then I concentrate completely.''

But the time-honored pedal-to-the-metal tradition faces an uncertain future
under the conservatives. The mullahs, are intent on slowing down traffic and
raising gas taxes to increase the government revenues.

Tabloid headlines expressed shock when Ayatollah Ali Khamanie proposed a 90
speed limit. Daytime TV shows skipped the usual Quran and theology shows with
themes like ``I drive as fast as I want.''

Ayatollah Khamanie's brother who owns several Volkswagen and Mecedes Benz
dealerships in Tehran quickly squashed the discussion, warning against
that might hurt the auto industry.

On Saturday, conservatives and liberal reached a deal that gives
more leeway to reduce speeds on city streets, while leaving the autobahns
-- for now.

Both sides remain open to an eventual ``Islamization'' of traffic laws, where
speeds are generally capped at around 90 kph.

Studies have shown slower driving is generally safer driving, but Iranians
passionately defend their status as the only country in Middle East without a
superhighway speed limit. ``Free driving for Iranians'' is the rallying cry
speed junkies who see themselves as defenders of a basic human right.

``Personally, I don't understand why other countries have speed limits,'' says
Hasan Yazdi, spokesman for Tehran's Paykan auto club.

``Why should you put a speed limit on the safest roads in the country?'' asks
Farzad Yousefi-nezhadpor of the Mostazafan Transportation Department. ``It's
not necessary.''

Of course, about 30 percent of the 2,100 miles of the Iran autobahn system
already has a permanent speed limit, mainly through urban areas and dangerous
stretches. Another 20 percent is temporarily limited -- due to construction or
when weather is bad.

On the rest, the government ``recommends'' drivers not exceed 80 kph. But
hardly anyone listens as it all falls on deaf ears.

Even as the roads get more crowded and the stretches where drivers can really
floor it shrink, support for autobahn limits has dropped, from 71 percent in
1991 to about half in a poll this year.

Some speed limit advocates blame Iranian carmakers and car sellers for fueling
the lust for speed with advertisements for sleek, fast cars.

``That's why it's so hard to stop,'' says Massomeh Ghomy, a traffic
psychologist in Tehran's Department of Transportation. `An addiction can't be
cured by a fine.''

Yet in a society where everything from shopping hours to appropriate names for
children is strictly regulated -- and accepted -- many Iranians view the wide
open autobahn as a last escape.

``Iranians are under pressure from the government, under pressure from their
employer,'' said Mehrdad, a doctor who only gave his first name. ``They
have no
say in their profession or at home. But on the autobahn, they can let it all

AP-NY-10-19-98 0347EDT


Date: Tue, 20 Oct 1998 00:16:20 +0100
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: PRESS DIGEST - Iran - Oct 19

PRESS DIGEST - Iran - Oct 19
TEHRAN, Oct 19 (Reuters) - These are some of the leading stories in Iranian
newspapers on Monday. Reuters has not verified these stories and does not
for their accuracy.


Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the enemies of the Islamic
republic were in ambush to harm the Iranian nation by imposing a war on it.


President Mohammad Khatami said it was necessary to narrow the gap between
deprived provinces and other parts of the country.


Foreign Ministry spokesman Mahmoud Mohammadi appreciated efforts of the U.N.
envoy for Afghanistan and the International Committee of the Red Cross that
to the release of Iranians detained by the Taleban movement in Afghanistan.


President Khatami congratulated his Azeri counterpart on his re-election in
presidential polls.


Iran's Green Front warned the death of coral in the Gulf was an environmental


An Islamic leftist student group staged a rally on Sunday in protest against
the rejection by the conservative-dominated Guardian Council of many
to the October 23 elections of the Assembly of Experts. The 86-seat Assembly
names and has the power to dismiss Iran's supreme leader.


The Energy Ministry is to sell 300 billion rials ($100 million) worth of bonds
to complete 16 dam construction projects.


Production of a daily 7,000 barrels of crude from the Sirri-A oil field in the
Gulf started, an Oil Minisry official said. Iran expects to gain 50 million
barrels of crude from the oil field over the next ten years, he said.
($1-3,000 rials)

04:52 10-19-98


Date: Tue, 20 Oct 1998 00:18:18 +0100
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Internet access in Iran - Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles Times
Home Edition
Page A-2
Copyright 1998 / The Times Mirror Company

TEHRAN -- Computer entrepreneur Nasser Saadat's three sisters and two brothers
live abroad, but he still manages to keep in touch. Even though he lives in
Iran , he sometimes chats with his sister in Florida for two hours at a time.
He can also tune in to the same radio stations that she hears in the United

How is this possible in a country whose testy international relations have
kept it largely isolated?

"Through the Internet," explained Saadat, whose Neda Rayaneh Institute sells
Net access to about 200 Iranian companies. "It is like having my sister here.
So where is the border?"

It used to be that individuals dissatisfied with conditions at home had to go
abroad. In today's wired world, they can go online.

Even in Iran , the Internet is winning enthusiasts, especially among young
people discouraged by hard economic realities and hankering for contact with
the outside world.

There has been a boomlet in private Internet service providers--from two to
about a dozen. The country's first cybercafe, Future Road, is opening near
Tehran University. At Iran 's International Trade Fair last month, students
lined up to try 30 terminals offering free Internet access. For many, it was a
long-awaited first chance to sample the World Wide Web.

The cost of computers and a fee of about $100 a month to Internet providers
tend to limit access to the affluent. Download speeds are limited by poor-
quality phone lines. But computers are fairly common in offices, schools and

For those who manage to link up, the Internet is a way to maintain ties with
friends and relatives, troll for business or hunt foreign employment and
study opportunities. It helps them surmount the political, economic and
cultural isolation imposed on Iran by the United States and by Iran 's often
problematic relations with other countries.

Saadat uses the Web's audio capabilities to cut the high cost of calling the
United States.

Even though the Islamic government closely monitors the arts and media, Iran
has no legislated barrier to Web access. Nevertheless, those promoting the
Internet understand the need for caution.

Saadat voluntarily "filters" Web sites involving pornography, alcohol or those
calling for the overthrow of the Islamic regime. "You can teach people to use
it in a good way or in a bad way," he said of the Internet.

"We're kind of lucky to have gotten as far as we have," said Berkeley-trained
Siavash Shahshanani of Iran 's Institute of Studies in Theoretical Physics
and Mathematics, who helped obtain Iran 's initial Internet connection in
1993. "We stayed low key, and before anyone knew it, the Internet was here."

Advocates of the Internet had to overcome suspicion at home and from the West.

Shahshanani told of a cleric known for condemning the Western cultural
invasion who demanded to see how to download a picture. Connections were
balky, so it took Shahshanani 15 minutes to capture half the image, a Time
magazine cover. The impatient cleric left, convinced that the Iranian state
had nothing to fear.

Until 1995, the entire Internet "backbone" was controlled by the U.S.
government, and any new link by another country required approval from
Washington. One key individual at the National Science Foundation was opposed
to Iran 's participation, raising fears of espionage or computer sabotage.
Others argued the benefit of giving Iranians access to unfettered information.

Tony Rutkowski, a founder of the Internet Society, was on the pro side of
that controversy. "What I was able to do, quietly behind the scenes, was to
make the case for getting them connected because it facilitated opening up
the country," he recalled.

Many Iranians are glad that his argument prevailed.

At the trade fair's Internet booth last month, Faradad Kordmahaleh, an
Iranian American from Portland, Ore., had no doubts about the Web's potential
to change Iran . "There are thousands and thousands of people here. And why
are they here?" he asked. "Because they want to be connected to what is going
on outside--they want to be connected any way they can."


Date: Tue, 20 Oct 1998 00:19:45 +0100
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: Freed Iran newspaper head says held in solitary

TEHRAN, Oct 19 (Reuters) - The director of a banned moderate Iranian
newspaper, who was released after a month in prison, said he had been held
in solitary confinement and not told of the charges against him, a weekly
magazine reported.

``Indirect psychological torture during 27 days through solitary
confinement...cannot be justified by any civil, legal or religious
principles,'' Hamid Reza Jalaeipour, freed on bail last week, told the latest
issue of the weekly Aban.

Jalaeipour was arrested together with three colleagues in mid-September after
an Islamic revolutionary court charged them with acting against Iran's
security and closed their outspoken liberal newspaper, Tous.

``We were held in total isolation and denied newspapers and a radio and not
even given books in the first 10 days,'' said Jalaeipour, adding that he had
only seen his colleagues briefly in prison corridors.

Jaleipour said he had not been told on what charges and on what legal grounds
he and the others had been arrested.

``Our biggest sin was to have taken seriously calls for 'boosting civil
bodies' and 'political development','' he said, referring to reforms
promised by President Mohammad Khatami.

The arrest of Jalaeipour and his colleagues drew protests from Iranian
moderates and international human rights groups, which expressed concern that
the four were being ill-treated to force them into signing false confessions.

Jalaeipour's case drew particular attention in Iran because of his impeccable
revolutionary credentials as a veteran Islamic activist who lost three
brothers in the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war.

Late last month, a court banned Tous after ruling it had insulted the late
supreme leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

Tous often criticised Iran's powerful conservatives and had gained wide
circulation by testing the limits of wider press freedoms introduced by

The closure of Tous came after supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called
for action against newspapers which he said were abusing press freedom.

10:05 10-19-98


Date: Tue, 20 Oct 1998 00:21:22 +0100
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: INTERVIEW-Iran moderates see poll as key to reform

[Karbaschi sold out to Khamanie in exchange for his aquital ]

By Jonathan Lyons

TEHRAN, Oct 19 (Reuters) - The leader of Iran's main moderate party says that
despite misgivings, the organisation will take part in elections this week as
the only way to realise President Mohammad Khatami's ambitious social and
economic reforms.

Gholamhossein Karbaschi, at the epicentre of the country's political
struggle, said that despite serious reservations over the selection process
of candidates for Friday's polls, he believed Iran's Islamic system was at
heart democratic.

He criticised his leftist Islamist allies for dropping out of the race for
the 86-seat Assembly of Experts, an obscure but potentially powerful body,
saying they had surrendered the field to their hardline rivals.

``We believe we should act within the framework of the constitution and the
rule of law, which is President Khatami's slogan,'' Karbaschi, head of the
moderate Executives of Construction party, told Reuters in an interview at
the weekend.

``The Assembly of Experts is very sensitive and important and can make very
crucial it is vital for us to send to the Assembly moderate,
logical and less extremist figures, albeit in modest numbers.''

Under Iranian law, the assembly oversees the work of Iran's supreme leader
and can dismiss him or curtail his almost unlimited power in political and
religious affairs. To date, it has never publicly exercised this oversight

Karbaschi, who as mayor of Tehran provided vital logistical support to
Khatami's surprise landslide victory last year, was convicted in July of
graft in what many analysts saw as a show-trial by the conservative

Suspended from office pending an appeal, the mayor has emerged as a potent
symbol of a mounting political struggle between the clerical establishment
and moderates and Islamic leftists grouped behind the popular reforms of

His public endorsement of the Assembly polls, in which the right enjoys
considerable advantages, has rehabilitated him in the hardline press from
convicted felon to responsible political leader.

Karbaschi denies any deal to exchange his party's participation for an
acquittal on appeal. But he admits the election campaign has done much for
his standing among former critics.

``In the issue of the Assembly of Experts elections it has become clear
that a 'defendant' can be transformed very rapidly into the 'general
secretary' of a political party,'' he said.

The vetting of candidates by traditionalist clerics, which saw conservatives
vastly outnumber moderates and leftists on the ballot, has raised doubts
about the polls' democratic credentials and prompted fears many of the 38.5
million eligible voters may stay at home.

The largest leftist grouping, the League of Militant Clerics (LMC), has all
but boycotted the vote in protest, refusing to support any slate of
candidates and withdrawing some prominent members who survived the
screening process.

Karbaschi, whose party leadership includes the head of the Central Bank and
the minister of culture and Islamic guidance, said any boycott would be
politically and morally irresponsible.

``There are two issues here. One is a political group trying to assume an
intellectual posture,'' he said of the LMC. ``The second is a political party
keeping one eye on the future and making a wise decision in accordance with
the circumstances.''

Shortcomings in the selection process -- only 167 of about 400 candidates,
none of them women, made the final list -- must not obscure the importance
of the elections for Khatami's vision of a ``civil society,'' he said.

``The function of the Assembly is to name the leader and to supervise his
qualifications...In reality the Assembly is very powerful within a civil
society, because under our constitution the leader has extensive powers and
the only supervision is through the Assembly.

``This is an authority no other body has in Iran. It is all the more
important in a civil society.''

Karbaschi echoed leftist criticism of the vetting of candidates but said
participation in the system, in line with the president's demands that all
obey the rule of law, was the best avenue to reform the process.

``I think our constitution is a very good one and if implemented we will need
no correction. But everyone, including the Assembly of Experts and the
supreme leader, must act in accordance with the constitution.

``One of the results of President Khatami's government is that everyone these
days is talking about 'the rule of law,' even those whose performance has
possibly been beyond the law in the past. This is very good. This is a sort
of return to a national convention,'' he said.

05:58 10-19-98


End of DNI-NEWS Digest - 18 Oct 1998 to 19 Oct 1998