Subject: DNI-NEWS Digest - 9 Dec 1999 to 10 Dec 1999

There are 10 messages totalling 791 lines in this issue.

Topics of the day:

2. Towards a society free of capital punishment - Moratorium 2000
3. 'Independce of Iran' party established Tehran
4. 34 Picked for U.S. Soccer
5. CIA Wanted Master of Disguise to Create Fake Shah
6. Taboo on Dogs Waived to Fight Drugs
7. Iran says mass produces anti-tank missiles
8. The Peacock Fades
9. Iran MendsTies With Europeans
10. Announcement by ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi

Date: Fri, 10 Dec 1999 12:46:56 EDT
From: Bobby Iri <Bobby@WWW.DCI.CO.IR>


By Safa Haeri, IPS Editor

PARIS 8TH Dec. (IPS) Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr Mousa said
Wednesday that having bad relations with Iran was "abnormal" and Cairo
was working hard to built good relations with Iran".

"It is in the interests of both Iran and the Arab world to have the
best of relations and it is abnormal to have bad relations with Iran,
so we work hard to built good relations with Iran and I believe
(establishing) formal ties will come at the right moment, meanwhile we
are speaking and listen to each other", Mr Mousa said.

Answering questions from Iran Press Service, Mr. Mousa said that Egypt
considers Iran and Turkey as forming part of a greater Middle East
that includes the Arab world, Iran, Turkey and Egypt.

Although relations have greatly improved in the past two years, yet
the Iranian ruling conservative clerics and chief among them,
ayatollah Ali Khameneh'i continue to upheld grand ayatollah Ruhollah
Khomeini's condition that ties would be resumed only after Egypt
withdrew from the Camp David Agreements it signed with Tel-Aviv twenty
years ago.

In fact, it was the founder of the Islamic Republic who cut relations
with Cairo because of Egypt's recognition of Israel.

For its part, Egypt suspects the Islamic Republic helping Arab and
Islamic terrorist organisations in the one hand and is angry with the
Iranians to have named a street after Khaled Eslambouli, the terrorist
who assassinated the late Anwar Sadat.

Before coming to Paris from Athens to attend a meeting of France and
Africa, Mr. Mousa had stated that what unites Arabs and Iranians are
"far more than what separates them", adding that in his view, it is
not possible to eliminate Iran or turkey from Middle East

Speaking at the prestigious Institut Francais des Relations
Internationales (IFRI, or the French Institute for International
Relations) on "Egypt at the Heart of Middle East", the Head of the
Egyptian diplomacy said his country was working for the establishment
of a "comprehensive peace" in the Middle East, a peace based on peace
for land, a peace that includes and guarantee peace, security,
prosperity and reconciliation for all and between all the region's
nations and peoples.

"What we are dealing with in regard with the establishment of a
Palestinian State is not a symbolic state or a crippled one, the
cardinal issue is viable and real state. This is a sine quoi none for
the conclusive reconciliation and stability in the Middle East", the
Foreign Minister stated.

"The same as Egypt is in the heart of the Middle East, the region is
also on the heart of Egypt. That is why we work for a comprehensive
and just peace which can not be achieved without full Israeli
withdrawal from all occupied Arab lands, including South of Lebanon
and the Golan Heights, the right of the Palestinians to return,
solving all pending issues such as the future of Jerusalem, borders,
water etc. This is the only way to open the gates to normalcy, to full
integration, to free exchange of goods and people".

He said the Arab Israeli dispute was not over a sea port or passage or
any other interim measures, it is a question of land, of territory and
of rights.

He said hopes to reach a comprehensive peace are not lost but Israel
must understand that it can not ask to have everything, peace plus
land plus power plus superiority etc. "However one had to give Ehud
Barak his chances to establish peace with Arab neighbours,
particularly the Palestinians", he pointed out.
However, he criticised the continuation of creation of new Jewish
settlements in occupied Palestinian lands, saying though it was true
that Mr. Barak has send buldozers to destroy some settlements
established illegally, yet at the same time he has authorised much
more to be established. The Israeli settlement policy must cease if
peace has to prevail", he warned.

Concerning the stalemated peace talks between Syria and Israel, Mr.
Mousa said though he too does not know exactly what the late Yitsahak
Rabin, the assasinated Israeli Premier had promised to the Syrians,
yet he is certain that once Tel-Aviv would get out of South Lebanon,
negotiations with Damascus would follow, adding that in his view, Mr.
Barak would withdraw from South Lebanon as he has promised to do, even

Israel Radio quoted cabinet Minister Benjamin Ben Eliyezer confirming
that Mr. Barak would take all the Israeli forces out of it's security
zone in South Lebanon before next July thus depriving the Syrians from
what they consider is a bargain card in peace talks against Israel.

"Since it was the Americans who passed on the Syrians Mr. Rabin's plan
for the evacuation from the Golan, therefore, only American, Israelis
and the Syrians knows exactly what they are talking about and now it
is again to the Americans to act", Mr. Mousa observed, adding that
Cairo would also help the process.

As he was addressing the audience of senior French and foreign
diplomats, experts, observers and journalists, including the Israeli
ambassador to France, Israeli press quoted US State Secretary Mrs.
Medeleine Albright saying she had been spirited from her talks in
Damascus with the Syrian President Hafez Asad.

IFRI is the same think tank organisation where the Foreign Minister of
the Islamic Republic Kamal Kharrazi was to give a conference last year
on the Iranian foreign policy but not only he refused to appear on
vague and inexisting security risks, but refused arrogantly to
apologize, setting a good example of Islamic politeness and fair play.
MOUSA 81299

Date: Fri, 10 Dec 1999 04:36:49 EST
From: Sohrab68@AOL.COM
Subject: Towards a society free of capital punishment - Moratorium 2000

Subj: Towards a society free of capital punishment - Moratorium 2000
From: (hoghoogh bashar)

A worldwide campaign is underway to make the world free of the capital
punishment by the end of the year 2000. On Human Rights Day (10th
December) Amnesty International is launching "Moratorium 2000" with the
same objective. Three years earlier, on Human Rights Day in 1996, the
Iranian Human Rights Working Group (IHRWG) launched a campaign to
abolish the death penalty in Iran. We welcome this opportunity to
combine our efforts with the international human rights organisations
and press for an early end to the practice of capital punishment in

Our call issued on 10th December 1996 was endorsed by a significant
number of Iranian political organisations as well as hundreds of
individuals from all walks of life. Among these were Iran Nation Party,
the first political party inside Iran ever to come out against the death
penalty, and its leader Mr. Darioush Forouhar who was slain together
with his wife last year by agents of Iran's Ministry of Intelligence in
what was later to be known as the "chain murders".

The campaign against the death penalty launched by IHRWG was supported
by a series of educational and promotional articles written by members
of the group for the Iranian media which were mostly published outside
Iran. However, this year, for the first time we managed to bring up the
issue inside Iran through publishing an article in the mass circulation
daily Neshat. Regretfully, the article was responded with a huge outcry
by certain politico-religious groups in Iran who claimed that a call to
abolish the death penalty amounted to the negation of Islam and its
religious laws of retribution (though the article had made no reference
to these or any other religious laws). Following this outcry, the
newspaper was shut down, its publisher and editor persecuted and
sentenced to imprisonment, and the author of the article was vilified
and threatened with death. However, as a result of this article being
published, and the publicity surrounding it, the issue of the death
penalty has been raised to a main topic of political debate in Iran with
promising signs of growing support among the politically active
population (both religious and secular) for an end to capital punishment
in Iran.

We once again repeat our call to all Iranians and Iranian political
groups to join the world campaign against the death penalty and support
our call to the Iranian government to respond positively to human rights
organizations and put an end to the practice of capital punishment in
Iran - NOW!

Please write to us or visit our web page dedicated to the death penalty
campaign (, see the text of our 1996 call, and declare
your support.

Iranian Human Rights Working Group (IHRWG)
Human Rights Day
10th December 1999

Date: Fri, 10 Dec 1999 20:14:21 -0500
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@PANJERE.NET>
Subject: 'Independce of Iran' party established Tehran

Dec. 10, IRNA -- A new party, 'Independce of Iran' announced its formation
here Friday.

The names of the party's president and of its founder members are yet to be
announced by the party later on, but a fax message signed by the head of
its secretariat, Sadeq Shams, Friday said that the party had been formally
established on the strength of an interior ministry license that had been
issued in June this year.

It said in the same message that the prime commitment of the 'Independence
of Iran' party is to "create a proper economic, social, and cultural
environment for Iran so as to make it possible for all to enjoy a decent
life, play a role in their self-determination, serve their fellow citizens
and the humanity with peace of mind, and March on unhampered on a road that
will take them closer to god in conformity with Islamic values and lofty

The message said Friday that the party had been created as the result of
extensive social and "scientific" studies that had been undertaken in Iran
since 1994.

Date: Fri, 10 Dec 1999 20:14:49 -0500
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@PANJERE.NET>
Subject: 34 Picked for U.S. Soccer

CHICAGO (AP) - Former U.S. captain John Harkes, who has played 89 games
for the national team, was among 34 players picked Thursday for the
Americans' training camp next month prior to an exhibition game against

Harkes, a midfielder for the New England Revolution of Major League
Soccer, was cut from the national team before last year's World Cup by
then-coach Steve Sampson, but new coach Bruce Arena, Harkes' former
coach with DC United, brought him back last July when the United States
played in the FIFA Confederations Cup.

The camp starts Jan. 5 in Claremont, Calif., and the United States plays
Iran Jan. 16 at Pasadena, Calif. The last time the teams met, Iran won
2-1 in the first round of the 1998 World Cup.

Nine European-based players were invited to the camp, including
goalkeeper Brad Friedel (Liverpool), Claudio Reyna (Glasgow Rangers) and
defender David Regis (FC Metz).

Also included were four players with German teams - Steve Cherundolo
(Hannover 96), Frankie Hejduk (Bayer Leverkusen), Jovan Kirovski
(Borussia Dortmund) and Tony Sanneh (Hertha Berlin) - plus two players
based in the Netherlands, defender Gregg Berhalter (Cambuur) and
midfielder John O'Brien (Ajax Amsterdam).

``his is as close to a full team that we've had since I've been coach,''
Arena said. ``Obviously this is a critical year for us with World Cup
qualifying approaching at the end of summer, so it's important for us to
start on a positive note. We want to make some real progress in 2000,
but that can only be measured by what we do when qualifying starts.''

The remaining 25 players are from MLS, including six players from
champion DC United: Jeff Agoos, Carlos Llamosa, Ben Olsen, Tom Presthus,
Carey Talley and Richie Williams.

Veterans invited include goalkeeper Tony Meola (the starter at the 1990
and 1994 World Cups), defender Marcelo Balboa, midfielder Cobi Jones and
forward Eric Wynalda.

After the game against Iran, the Americans play an exhibition against
Chile on Jan. 29 in Coquimbo. The U.S. team then goes to the CONCACAF
Gold Cup, the championship of soccer's North and Central American and
Caribbean region, opening with two games in Miami, against Haiti on Feb.
12 and Peru on Feb. 16.

Date: Fri, 10 Dec 1999 20:16:40 -0500
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@PANJERE.NET>
Subject: CIA Wanted Master of Disguise to Create Fake Shah

WASHINGTON ( -- Antonio Mendez was the CIA's master of

The CIA and President Jimmy Carter turned to him the first week of
November 1979 as Carter faced the crisis that eventually ended his
presidency. Sixty-six Americans from the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, Iran,
had been taken hostage, and six others were hiding at the nearby Embassy
of Canada.

Fourteen hostages soon were released, but the remaining 52 remained
captive for 444 days.

Though the media then described the hostage-takers as "students," Mendez
said they actually were Iranian Revolutionary guards. Mendez said the
revolutionaries were angry that America was harboring Iran's U.S.-backed
dictator, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. The shah, seeking cancer treatment
in the United States, was wanted back home to stand trial for alleged
crimes against his people.

A daring plan

The CIA wanted Mendez to carry out a daring plan to diffuse the
situation: create a fake shah -- a body-double -- to be spirited out of
the U.S. to Egypt, where authorities would announce he had died from

They hoped the plan would result in the hostages' release.

But the CIA needed a dead ringer. They wanted Mendez, the agency's
pioneering chief of disguise, to pull it off.

"The idea was to remove the shah to another country and have him
'expired,'" Mendez told

The real shah, according to the CIA plan, would have secretly remained
in the U.S. indefinitely.

Wife came up with idea

At the Smithsonian Institution, where Mendez lectured this week, he told
an audience that his first wife, now deceased, had devised the plan.
Mendez said he dismissed the idea until a deputy suggested the same

His division quickly examined photos to find CIA employees who "looked
shah- or cadaver-like," and found two who shared some of the Iranian
leader's physical characteristics.

The agents were outfitted and coached in the shah's mannerisms, and
videotaped as a ploy to win over CIA Director Stansfield Turner on the
plan. One "shah" lay on a gurney, as if dead. The other "shah" suddenly
appeared on the tape looming over the "corpse" to give Turner a double

If approved, the deception would have required several presidential
directives, but it was scratched as quickly as it was concocted. The
real shah departed for Panama in December despite his need for top-notch
medical care.

"The president had an option. That doesn't mean it was sensible, but we
did it," Mendez said of the scrubbed plan.

Pahlavi later flew to Egypt, where he died in exile on July 27, 1980.

Idea had precedent

Though the CIA's shah plan was not executed, the idea had precedent,
Mendez said. Decoys have been used before so real world leaders could
conduct business safely elsewhere.

During World War II, the British disguised a man as Prime Minister
Winston Churchill.

In a more famous wartime instance, the Allies dressed a corpse as a
British intelligence officer and dumped the body into the English
Channel. The corpse carried phony documents that successfully convinced
Nazi officers the D-Day invasion would hit France somewhere other than

But it was disguising the living, including himself on countless
occasions, in which Mendez specialized during his 25-year career as a
CIA operations officer. Those war stories are the subject of his new
memoir, Master of Disguise: My Secret Life in the CIA.

The CIA reviewed the book six times before it was published, to ensure
that national security was not compromised. The "fake shah" story is not
in the tome and never has been cleared by the agency.

Agent was illustrator

Mendez, from Nevada, trained as an illustrator until answering an ad for
a CIA "espionage artist" in 1965.

He served the next seven years in the Far East, and grew adept at
creating disguises and false documents. During Cold War trips to the
Soviet Union, Mendez perfected his trademark persona -- "the little old
lady from Moscow" -- that he used to deceive KGB counterintelligence

A good disguise, he said, involves more than just makeup and dress. It
also comprises the character invented, down to mannerisms and even the
stride of a "legend," or false persona.

"You're creating an actor in a role. You coach them. Sometimes you have
to teach them to change their gait. You act as a director."

Multiple personalities

As chief of disguise, Mendez ensured that new agents received
instruction on disguise. Now operations officers have disguises at their

CIA officers had to learn to live multiple lives. Typically, most had a
cover "for status" and a cover "for action," he said.

Mendez said officers had to learn to tuck away the truth in their minds.
If captured, they could lead interrogators down false trails of
information, further and further from the truth.

With lies -- called "deceptions" in the trade -- such an integral part
of the clandestine world, does Mendez ever confuse reality with fiction?

"As an intelligence officer, your ability to define what is reality as
opposed to what is defined as reality is probably your sharpest
ability," he said. "The business of assuming things is verboten."

President Bush surprised

Mendez' second wife, Jonna, knows this better than most CIA spouses. She
was in the agency longer than her husband, and succeeded him as "chief
of disguise."

In one episode detailed in his book, she attended an Oval Office meeting
in disguise, only to unveil her true identity to a stunned President
George Bush, who once headed the CIA.

The get-up was a present from a colleague.

"All of a sudden I was very young, really pretty, I mean really pretty.
It was just great fun," Jonna Mendez said. "I saw the president a week
ago and he remembered this."

Hollywood angle

After the phony shah mission was dismissed, Tony Mendez immediately was
dispatched in secret to Tehran to rescue the six Americans holed up in
the Canadian Embassy. Time was short, as the Iranians had begun to
figure out there were a few they had missed.

He got the six U.S. diplomats out by having them pose as location scouts
for Studio 6 Productions in Hollywood -- a CIA front that actually set
up shop in Tinseltown on the same studio lot used for the movie The
China Syndrome.

Usually, though, Mendez and his colleagues didn't have time to invent
such elaborate schemes. Sometimes 20 minutes was all they had, and
questions had to be answered fast. What is the operational goal and whom
is it you are trying to fool? Is it a casual or hostile observer?

Above all, an operations officer had to be confident of success to pull
it off, Mendez said.

"You had to assume to be the best. But you had to strive for it, you had
to work at it."

James Gordon Meek is an staff writer in Washington

Date: Fri, 10 Dec 1999 20:18:08 -0500
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@PANJERE.NET>
Subject: Taboo on Dogs Waived to Fight Drugs

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran has bought sniffer dogs from France to help in
its desperate battle against drug trafficking despite an Islamic taboos
against the animals, newspapers reported Wednesday.

They said Iran's anti-drug agency had taken delivery of five Alsatians,
trained by French police to sniff out hidden drugs, and was awaiting
five more.

Iranian authorities were previously unwilling to use dogs to combat
trafficking because Muslims traditionally consider all breeds of the
animal to be unclean, and to be avoided.

``Iran's police is one of the best in the world in finding drugs but
traffickers still often hide them in ingenious places where officers
cannot see them,'' newspapers quoted Yahya Azimi, deputy-head of the
agency, as saying.

Azimi said the dogs would be placed at border crossings, airports and
cargo and passenger terminals. A French trainer is in Iran to teach the
police how to handle the dogs.

Iran is a key transit route for drugs smuggled from Afghanistan, the
world's largest opium producer, and neighboring Pakistan to Europe and
oil-rich Gulf Arab states.

Iran, a country of about 62 million, also suffers from its own drug
problem. Officials put the number of addicts and casual users at two
million, although health workers say privately the figure is much

Date: Fri, 10 Dec 1999 20:19:21 -0500
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@PANJERE.NET>
Subject: Iran says mass produces anti-tank missiles

TEHRAN, Dec 7 (Reuters) - Iran said on Tuesday it was mass-producing
anti-armour guided missiles with a range of 4,000 metres (13,000 feet).

State television quoted Defence Minister Ali Shamkhani as saying the
Tosan-1 missiles ``complete the chain of our defence capability.''

The missile had an ``effective range'' of 4,000 metres and was designed
to destroy tanks, armoured vehicles, and concrete structures such as
dams, the television said.

It could be fitted with night vision devices and accurately hit targets
in the dark up to 2,500 metres away, it quoted another defence official
as saying.

Iran launched a drive after the 1980-88 war with Iraq to modernise its
weapons systems, notably missiles, despite a Western arms embargo and
U.S. economic sanctions.

Last week, it began producing optical electronic components which it
said could be used in manufacturing smart weapons.

Israel and the United States, the Islamic republic's arch-foes, have
voiced concern over Iran's weapons programmes. Tehran says its weapons
are purely defensive and its missiles have only deterrent puropses.

Date: Fri, 10 Dec 1999 20:20:42 -0500
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@PANJERE.NET>
Subject: The Peacock Fades

Friday, December 10, 1999; Page C13

Excerpts from "the first rough draft of history" as reported in The
Washington Post on this date in the 20th century.

Street demonstrations in Iran had built into a crescendo by December
1978, and the question was how long the Shah could hold on. Islamic
militants seeking to drive the King of Kings from his Peacock Throne
laid plans for a final round of confrontation with the Shah's security
services. The protests exploded as planned, and the Shah fell from power
and fled Iran a little more than a month later, on Jan. 17, 1979. An
excerpt from The Post of Dec. 10, 1978:

By Jonathan C. Randal

Washington Post Foreign Service

TEHRAN, Dec. 9 --

Tehran, uncharacteristically quiet today with its streets virtually
deserted, awaited the start Sunday of a two-day religious holiday that
Iran's opposition hopes will launch the final round of its nearly
year-long effort to overthrow the shah.

Violence continued in other Iranian cities. United Press International
reported that 29 persons were killed when army troops opened fire on
anti-shah demonstrators in Tabriz and the Moslem holy city of Qom.

[In Washington, the Pentagon said that 983 dependents of U.S. servicemen
and Defense Department civilians stationed in Iran had left the country
by air Friday and Saturday. The Pentagon dispatched five C141 transport
planes from the United States to complete this airlift, which spokesmen
emphasized was not an official evacuation. About 500 to 600 dependents,
who have said they want to remain, are still in Iran, a Pentagon
spokesman said.]

Tehran looked like a city expecting a siege. Its usually traffic-jammed
streets were all but empty.

A massive exodus by road, which began in earnest Friday, today involved
130,000 cars, according to traffic officials, as residents took
advantage of a long holiday weekend to escape the violence that both
government and opposition decry but fear may break out.

Opposition organizers claim that 1.5 million people -- a third of Tehran
-- will march Sunday in a mammoth anti-shah demonstration that will
converge from seven lines to march on the Shahyad monument, which
symbolizes the shah's claim to represent continuity in the country's
2,500-year history.

The march commemorates both international Human Rights Day and the
anniversary of Ashura, the date 1,298 years ago when Hossein, grandson
of the prophet Mohammed and founder of the Shiite sect of Islam, was
killed in battle.

Some 3,000 foreigners and Iranians left on regularly scheduled and
special flights from Tehran Airport, which abruptly shut down at 7 p.m.
until Tuesday morning.

In making the announcement of the shutdown, Iran Air, the national
carrier, which flew most of its planes out of the country for safety's
sake, offered no explanation for its decision. But observers noted that
the protest march is due to end near Tehran airport. ...

In this sprawling city, residents emptied canned food shelves in
groceries, which were about the only shops open.

Hundreds lined up for kerosene used for heating and cooking and now
scarce because of the six-day-old oil-field strike, which has reduced
production to well below the normal 6 million barrels-a-day level. The
airport ran out of JP4, the fuel used by jet aircraft.

The Intercontinental Hotel, a past target for rioters, bricked up its
ground floor windows and welded steel beams across the ballroom

This series is in a book that can be purchased online at or by calling

© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

Date: Fri, 10 Dec 1999 22:05:31 EST
From: Sohrab68@AOL.COM
Subject: Iran MendsTies With Europeans

Iran MendsTies With Europeans
Businessmen Find Myriad Opportunities
By Afshin Molavi
Special to The Washington Post
Friday, December 10, 1999; Page H01
TEHRAN—With two Iranian waiters drumming their fingers
on the table, a group of Italian businessmen sang
lusty love songs as restaurant patrons smiled, laughed
and tapped their feet. The impromptu concert at a
downtown Tehran restaurant reflected the current mood
in Iran's relations with the European Union as the two
sides embrace after years of strained relations.
"We are like old friends reuniting," one Western
diplomat said. "Of course, there are still problems,
but we are trying our best to work them out."
While Iran's raging power struggle between reformist
supporters of President Mohammed Khatemi and his
powerful conservative rivals captures headlines, a
quiet revolution has been taking place in Iranian
foreign policy as Tehran also improves its ties with
the Arab world and consolidates its close ties to
Japan, China and Southeast Asia.
Iran's ties with the European Union are of particular
importance, Foreign Ministry officials said, because
they signal most vividly the country's return to the
international community after years of isolation.
A key member of the Organization of Petroleum
Exporting Countries bounded by the strategic Persian
Gulf and Caspian Sea, Iran possesses the world's
fifth-largest oil reserves and the second-largest gas
Following the 1979 revolution, which resonated with
anti-Western and anti-imperialist themes, Iran's
diplomatic relations with most European states
suffered. Relations began to improve at the end of the
Iran-Iraq war in 1988 when the newly formed Supreme
National Security Council adopted a pro-Europe foreign
policy. However, the February 1989 death edict against
British writer Salman Rushdie for blaspheming Islam in
his book "The Satanic Verses" derailed the initiative.
Iran began to back away from the fatwa against Rushdie
last year.
Relations gradually improved throughout the 1990s,
with Italy and France in the lead, but they hit
another low point in early 1997 when a German court
implicated Iranian officials in the assassination of
Kurdish dissidents in Berlin. After the verdict, all
European Union ambassadors in Tehran were withdrawn
for nearly six months.
Today, the atmosphere has warmed considerably. Khatemi
wooed France and Italy on recent visits and is
planning a trip to Germany. Two European Union
presidents, Thomas Klestil of Austria and Constantine
Stephanopoulos of Greece, visited Iran recently, the
first EU heads of state to visit since the revolution.
Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi is expected to
visit London in January, to be followed by British
Foreign Minister Robin Cook's visit to Iran in April.
Ties have improved so rapidly that some diplomats have
been caught by surprise. At a recent meeting of a
European ambassador and Iranian government officials,
the ambassador was shocked to be sitting across the
table from a senior Iranian general, usually
off-limits to Western diplomats.
"We have come a long way," said a Western diplomat,
who asked not to be named. "These days, we are
witnessing substantial and serious moves on both sides
to improve ties."
Western diplomats cited as a key consideration Iran's
geopolitical and economic weight in the region. They
said dialogue with Tehran helps prevent
misunderstandings and leads to cooperation in such
fields as anti-narcotics efforts and refugee
assistance. It also could temper some of Iran's
opposition to the Middle East peace process, diplomats
said, although recent intelligence reports from
Washington and Western Europe point to increased
Iranian support for groups opposed to peace.
European oil companies have benefited from the warming
ties, grabbing major contracts all over Iran, much to
the dismay of their American rivals, who are shackled
by U.S. economic sanctions imposed for Iran's support
of terrorism. Last month, Royal Dutch/ Shell Group,
the Anglo-Dutch oil and gas company, was awarded an
$800 million contract to invest in two major offshore
oil fields. TOTAL, the French state-owned oil firm, is
leading two major oil and gas projects, worth more
than $2.5 billion. A French-Italian joint venture is
running another $850 million project.
And it's not only oil. Every day, European businessmen
arrive in Tehran on flights from Lufthansa, Swissair,
and British Airways eager to cut deals, sell products,
and seek out investment opportunities.
"Iran has adopted a pro-Europe commercial policy,"
said Bijan Khajehpour, a leading Tehran-based business
consultant. "In the absence of American competition,
the field is open to many European companies." Europe
has responded warmly to Iran's welcome. European trade
delegations have flooded the capital in recent months.
"Wherever you turn in Iran, there are business
opportunities," said Bob Fisher, the head of a British
trade delegation to Iran last month.
Iran maintained steady, albeit limited, commercial
ties with several European states throughout the years
of tension. Italy and France emerged as key commercial
partners after the Rushdie affair, cutting into
Germany's once dominant share of the market.
While Europe may be smiling, Iran is not wholly
satisfied. "It is clear that Iran would prefer to have
American private sector participation in the country's
economy," Khajehpour noted, adding that years of
European commercial contacts transformed Iran's once
American-dominated industrial and infrastructure base
to a primarily European one now.
Meanwhile, back at the restaurant, the crooning
Italian businessmen frowned at the prospect of an
American return to Iran. "Tell the Americans they
should stay away from Iran," one of the businessman
said. "It is really terrible here."

Date: Fri, 10 Dec 1999 22:06:45 EST
From: Sohrab68@AOL.COM
Subject: Announcement by ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi

Announcement by ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi
Rafsanjani of his candidacy to the forthcoming Majles (parliament)
elections did not surprised Iranians, but it was interpreted in different
To most observers, the Chairman of the Council for the Discernment of the
State's Interests (CDSI) made his mind once becoming certain that
hojatoleslam Abdollah Nouri, the fiery and popular Publisher of the
reformist "Khordad" daily is definitely barred from entering the race.
In their view, there is no doubt that in case Mr. Nouri could run for the
elections, he would be elected high handedly, beating all his rivals,
including the former president, and grab the presidency of the Majles.
Some go further and share the view that in one way or another, Mr. Hashemi
Rafsanjani encouraged the lame ayatollah Ali Khameneh'i to order the
controversial Clergymen's special Tribunal (CST) to judge and condemn Mr.
The twice Interior Minister under both Mr. Hashemi Rafsanjani and Mohammad
Khatami was sentenced to five years of imprisonment and five years of
abstention from press activities and his mass circulation daily shut on
charges such as insulting Islam, offending the grand ayatollah Ruhollah
Khomeini, challenging the authority of the present leader, defending
dissident ayatollahs and personalities and supporting normalisation with
the United States etc.
Contesting the legality and constitutionality of the CST, Mr. Nouri
refused to appeal and the court sent him to jail immediately after the end
of the trial.
To some optimistic, pro-Rafsanjani observers, once back to the presidency
of the Legislative, Mr. Hashemi Rafsanjani would co-operate closely with
President Khatami to accelerate implementation of reforms.
"With Mr. Rafsanjani as Speaker, Mr. Khatami can count on an important and
powerful ally and the combination of the two will help normalisation of
Iran's relation with outside world", said Mr. Siavosh Qazi, an Iranian
journalist in Tehran covering for some French media, including Radio
France Internationale.
But many others doubt, saying Mr. Rafsanjani will act as the
conservative's "last chance"-.
In a recent meeting with Friday preachers, ayatollah Ali Akbar
Nateq-Nouri, the present Speaker expressed the conservative's bewilderment
and despair at the prospect of loosing their control of the Legislative,
repeating his view that the next Majles would be dominated by mostly
independent candidates close to the reformists.
Because of this perspective, a majority of political analysts are of the
opinion that the trial of Mr. Nouri was orchestrated deliberately to
remove him from Mr. Rafsanjani's path to the president of the parliament.
"Rafsanjani does not support reforms as pushed for by the opinion. He is
for a kind of compromise between the reformists and the conservatives. He
is afraid of the wick going up. His real plan is to place himself between
the leader and the president in order to play one against the other", one
analyst commented on condition of anonymity.

End of DNI-NEWS Digest - 9 Dec 1999 to 10 Dec 1999