Subject: DNI-NEWS Digest - 15 Dec 1999 to 16 Dec 1999

There are 2 messages totalling 193 lines in this issue.

Topics of the day:

1. STUDENTS SAY NOURI MUST BE FREE TO RUN FOR ELECTIO
2. IRAN WATCHES WITH ANXIETY AS SYRIAN AND ISRAELI PE

Date: Thu, 16 Dec 1999 21:20:16 EDT
From: Bobby Iri <Bobby@WWW.DCI.CO.IR>
Subject: STUDENTS SAY NOURI MUST BE FREE TO RUN FOR ELECTIO

STUDENTS SAY NOURI MUST BE FREE TO RUN FOR ELECTIONS
====================================================


TEHRAN 13TH Dec. (IPS) With slogans such as "One nation, one
Government, elected by the People", thousands of students of both sex
demonstrated peacefully Monday their firm support for both
hojatoleslam Abdollah Nouri, the owner-publisher of the banned daily
"Khordad" condemned by the Clergymen's Special Tribunal (CST) to five
years imprisonment and President Mohammad Khatami.
Analysts had immediately observed that by condemning Mr. Nouri on a
wide range of charges, including insulting Islam, offending grand
ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, humiliating his successor or defending
normalisation with the United States etc. the court had obeyed to
instructions received from ayatollah Ali Khameneh'i, the lamed leader
of the Islamic Republic who appoints the tribunal's chief and
prosecutors.

This was the second large-scale demonstration in as many days
organised by the Office of Strengthening Unity (OSU), Iranian students
largest pro-Khatami and pro-reforms organisations.

Brandishing posters of both Mr. Nouri and Mr. Khatami, the students,
estimated at between 10.000 to 15.000d, slammed the controversial,
conservatives-controlled CST for denying the former Interior Minister
the right to participate in the forthcoming Majles (parliament)
elections due next February.

According to analysts and observers, in case Mr. Nouri would take part
in the race, he would easily beat all other candidates, including
former president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and sit as the next
Majles's Speaker, securing an outstanding victory for the reformists
over the conservatives who, in the past twenty years, have constantly
dominated the Legislative.

Observers noted that only when he became sure and certain that Mr.
Nouri would not be allowed to run for the next parliament that Mr.
Hashemi Rafsanjani announced his own candidacy.

Chanting "Nouri must be free", the students also rejected the CST's
verdict against Mr. Nouri, calling on the president to use his
presidential prerogatives and constitutional powers to get the former
Head of Tehran's City Council out of prison.

Hojatoleslam Mohsen Rahami, Mr. Nouri's lawyer promised he would
continue with his efforts to appeal with the verdict which he also
termed as "illegal", adding that so far, his client continue adamantly
considering appeal.

During his defence, Mr. Nouri repeated forcefully that since he do not
consider the CST as a legal institution, he would not accept it's
verdict nor would he considering to use his right to appeal.

Mr. Rahami told the cheering students that from a legal and
constitutional point of view, Mr. Nouri has all the rights with him,
including that of running for the elections.

"Prison is not an answer to the right of free expression and anyway,
millions of Iranians consider Mr. Nouri innocent", he observed.

Warning the CST, Mr. Rahami said in case the court would confirm the
illegal sentence, it will get the answer from the people at the ballot
boxes, thus bearing all responsibilities, referring to a widely
expressed opinion that voters would plebiscite Mr. Nouri even if
barred from the race.

In his speech, Mr. Rahami also urged the authorities to identify and
punish all those who ordered last year's chain murder of political and
intellectual dissidents as well as those who carried out the orders
"regardless of their rank, position or dresses".

In the eyes of the public, such fatwas, or religious mandatory orders
could not have been issued but by senior clerics and without the
approbation of the leader.

In his Monday address to cheering, applauding and whistling students,
Mr. Khatami indirectly rejected the supremacy and tutorial rights of
the Leader over the people, saying that the Constitution of the
Islamic Republic not only recognise the right of the people, but it
takes it's legitimacy from the people.

"The religion we talk about is the one that respects both the people
and it's cardinal rights. Fighting both totalitarianism and
imperialism, our revolution led to (the creation) of an Islamic
Republic enshrined in it's Constituion people's basic rights, their
freedom and it's supremacy, recognising that the government is the
instrument of the people's free choice and will and it's
responsibility and answerability to the people",

Denouncing last July's attack by the Law Enforcement Forces and
paramilitary, conservatives-controlled Islamic vigilante on the
student's dormitories as a "shame spot" that will not be "washed out
easily", Mr. Khatami urged the students to participate "massively" in
the next elections to secure the triumph of his promised reforms.

He also called on the students to be aware of agents provocateurs who
try hard to present the students and the universities as symbols of
violence, and confrontation with Islamic and revolutionary values", a
bold reference to the Information Ministry's agents and conservatives-
led thugs who, mixed with students, burned pictures of Mr. Khameneh'i
and brandished insulting slogans against him, resulting in counter-
demonstrations organised by the hard liners and the arrest of hundreds
of students.

However, pro-conservative newspapers front-paged only passage of Mr.
Khatami's Sunday address where praised Islamic and revolutionary
values and his denounciation of US officials anti-Iranian statements
as "unworthy diatribes", observers noted.

To avoid possible clashes with hezbollahi thugs who had gathered in
front of the university ready to attack the students, the LEF
immediately dispersed the students, eyewitnesses reported. ENDS NOURI-
STUDENTS 131299

Date: Thu, 16 Dec 1999 21:20:36 EDT
From: Bobby Iri <Bobby@WWW.DCI.CO.IR>
Subject: IRAN WATCHES WITH ANXIETY AS SYRIAN AND ISRAELI PE

IRAN WATCHES WITH ANXIETY AS SYRIAN AND ISRAELI PEACE TALKS RESUME
==================================================================


PARIS 14TH Dec. (IPS) As Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak flew to
Washington Tuesday to meet the Syrian Foreign Minister Farouq al
Shara' to resume the stalemated Syrian-Israeli peace talks, the
Islamic Republic, Arabs-Israeli reconciliation's staunchest enemy for
the first times reported the event without comment nor criticising
either side.

In an Athens-dated dispatch, the official news agency IRNA quoted Mr.
Barak as having "opined" that the upcoming talks between Syrian and
Israel "may be wrapped up in weeks".

"The Israeli state-run radio quoted Barak as saying during a cabinet
meeting last night that if good-will prevailed on both sides, peace
talks would be completed in a short time", the official Iranian News
Agency reported, adding that the Labour premier has asked his
ministers to be ready for organising a referendum over Israeli
withdrawal from the Golan heights.

Analysts noted that this is the first time that the Islamic Republic
report such news without accusing Israel of flouting or deceiving the
Arab side or warning the Arab negotiators against Israeli's evil
intentions.

As the Islamic Republic's oldest and only "strategic ally" in the Arab
world, Syria is benefiting from the ruling ayatollahs largesse, that
includes receiving cheap oil, interest-free loans and construction of
silos by Iranian companies.

Tehran has also promised Damascus that it would not oppose peace
negotiations with Tel-Aviv, assuring that it would uphold the
strategic alliance even if Syria signs peace with Israel and establish
diplomatic relations with the Jewish State.

Analysts say peace agreement between Israel and Syria would be a big
blow to the Islamic Republic, since as a result of the accord, both
Damascus and Beirut would be responsible for maintaining security at
Israeli-Lebanese borders now partly controlled by the Iran-backed
Lebanese Hezbollah.

But so far, there is no official reaction from Tehran on the subject.

According to IRNA, the Israeli-Syrian peace negotiations have
generated "deep concern" in Palestinian Authority circles.

"The Palestinian Authority had welcomed the resumption of Israeli-
Syrian talks, but privately PA officials voiced worries that a treaty
between Syria and Israel now would distract attention from the
Palestinian cause and leave the Palestinians in a still weaker
position vis-a-vis Israel", IRNA said.

The talks, scheduled to be held in Washington on 15th and 16th of
December was arranged after months of secret American efforts that
included several telephone exchanges between the American and the
Syrian presidents.

On Monday, the Knesset, or Israeli parliament had approved by a tiny
majority of 47 to 3a1 and 24 abstention the resumption of negotiations
with Syria.
Although the US State Secretary Mrs. Madeleine Albright has described
the event as "an amazing moment, and there is a sense that a historic
opportunity is present", informed Israeli diplomatic sources cautioned
against much optimism. ENDS SYRIA-ISRAEL 141299

End of DNI-NEWS Digest - 15 Dec 1999 to 16 Dec 1999