Subject: DNI-NEWS Digest - 17 Dec 1999 to 18 Dec 1999

There are 9 messages totalling 584 lines in this issue.

Topics of the day:

1. BY ENTERING ELECTIONS RAFSANJANI'S PLAYING RUSSIAN
2. Iranians arrested in drug smuggling case
3. Pakistan court confirms death for Iranian's killer
4. Iran To Play Mexico in January
5. fwd: Jameehshenasi-ye Nokhbeh Koshi dar Iran
6. 6,800 register to run in Iran parliament elections
7. Writers call for public trial for intellectuals' killers
8. Tolerated Iranian opposition launches counterrattack on conservatives
9. Sirjani Was Murdered Too !

Date: Sat, 18 Dec 1999 20:57:24 EDT
From: Bobby Iri <Bobby@WWW.DCI.CO.IR>
Subject: BY ENTERING ELECTIONS RAFSANJANI'S PLAYING RUSSIAN

BY ENTERING ELECTIONS, RAFSANJANI IS PLAYING RUSSIAN ROULETTE
=============================================================

By Safa Haeri

PARIS 16TH Dec. (IPS) After months of deliberate hesitation and
shuffling, former president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani did what he
wanted to do since long time: come back to the front stage of Iranian
politics.

Bestowing on himself the role of Grand National Reconciler and
allowing gracefully all the Iranians to enjoy the honour and privilege
of voting for him, the former president officially registered
Wednesday his name as an independent candidate for the coming Majles
(parliament) elections due next February,.

Talking to journalists after he deigned to "accept" with reluctance,
the insistent and persistent "proposals of friends and others", to
become the next Speaker, Mr. Hashemi Rafsanjani said he would allow
"all political" groups to put his name on the top of their candidate
lists.

He did not mentioned the name nor the number of these "friends and
others", but observers reminded that it was the ayatollah Ali
Khameneh'i who refused his assiduous request to have the Constitution
amended to allow him to keep the presidency for a third mandate.

Copied from the American presidency system, Iranian president can only
run twice four years term.

Mr. Rafsanjani's decision to enter the election race was widely
criticised by the pro-reform groups, organisations and personalities,
both civilians and religious, denouncing it as an effort to help
conservatives continue controlling the Legislative and put break on
the reform process, but was hailed in his own camp as "balancing and
timely".

Speaking in a manner more convenient to a Roman Emperor and reminding
of the former Shah Mohammad Reza at the zenith of his power, he said
he has come on the scene "after lengthy and serious debates" with a
view to "helping reconstruction movement, creating jobs and removing
deprivation", forgetting that the roots of the present appalling state
of the Iranian economy goes to the eight years of his presidency
during which inflation run at more than 60 percent, the poor became
poorer and the rich, like himself and his family, became richer.

With a more humble tone, he said in fact, he would have liked to
remain in the background to "prepare the ground" for younger, more
talented and more energetic individuals so as to institutionalise the
revolution and see handling of elections and major issues of the
country "without his presence" but he decided to enter the arena and
"accept proposals of friends and others" on his candidacy "after a
series of discussions and debates".

Actually, Mr. Rafsanjani seems to have forgot that it was under his
tenure that terror, corruption, nepotism and deprivation, not
revolution, that were institutionalised and, whether one like it or
not, the process of democratisation, slow and timid, started after the
victory of Mr. Mohammad Khatami in the last presidential elections.

According to the Head of the Council for Discerning the State's
Interests (CDSI), "those insisting on his candidacy" had insisted that
"his experiences would be effective in forging national solidarity,
converging different conflicting groups and helping government, adding
that "what convinced him to make up his mind had been the fact that
enemies of revolution, whose voices are heard from foreign radios,
have unsound attitude towards the elections and are against his
presence in the elections for whatever reason".

But observers notes that those so-called "enemies of revolution, whose
voices are heard from foreign radios" are a few independent
journalists and political analysts obviously not sharing the views of
the ruling conservative monopolists to which Mr. Rafsanjani belongs,
plus some from his own clan.

Confirming the views of a great majority of political analysts who say
that the leader is seriously worried about the political changes and
is considering curbing the process smoothly, Mr. Rafsanjani indicated
that he and Mr. Khameneh'i had "similar viewpoints".

Observers noted that it was on order of the leader that the Majles
voted a bill excepting Mr. Rafsanjani from an election law that
forbids candidates to register while sitting in official position,
referring to Mr. Rafsanjani's registering while keeping his job as the
Chairman of the CDSI.

It was for this reason that hojatoleslam Abdollah Nouri, the former
Interior Minister turned publisher of one of the nation's most popular
and largest circulated newspaper had resigned from his post as the
Head of Tehran City Council.

Though Mr. Rafsanjani told journalists that he had done his best to
prevent Mr. Nouri's indictment and his subsequent sentencing to five
years imprisonment and banning of his newspaper Khordad, but many
insiders are of the view that he could have been "instrumental" in
persuading the lamed leader to urge the controversial Clergymen's
Special Tribunal (CST) to condemned Mr. Nouri at any cost.

Actually, Mr. Rafsanjani made his mind once certain that Mr. Nouri
would not be allowed to enter the race, for, in case the former vice-
President would be free to run, he would over beat all other
candidates, including Mr. Rafsanjani, and sit as the next Majles
Speaker, thus shifting the balance of the power in favour of both the
president and the reformists who supports him.

Known to be a "political animal", Mr. Rafsanjani was badly side lined
after the triumph of Mr. Khatami in the May 1997 elections and the
CDSI advisory body created for him by Mr. Khameneh'i could not satisfy
the appetite of a man who had been at the front line for more than 17
years.

"Besides, the path, even slow, of reforms is not to the liking of Mr.
Rafsanjani. He is also against clear and clean politic for the simple
reason that this could lead to his responsibilities in the murder of
political and intellectual dissidents during his presidency", noted
Mr. Reza Alijani, a pro-reform Tehran journalist.
Considering the unpopularity of both Mr. Rafsanjani and the
conservatives, many Iranian analysts think that if the pro-reform
groups and organisations put their house in order and avoid
dispersion, it is quite possible to see their front runner candidate
beating the former president as Tehran's first elected MP.

"Facing a personality shortage, the monopolist (conservative) camp had
no other choice but to accept Mr. Rafsanjani to fill the void, but the
choice could become a political fiasco for them", Mr. Alijani
observed.

This view is shared by hojatoleslam Hasan Yusefi-Eshkevari, an
outspoken reformist cleric belonging to the same camp as Mr. Nouri who
says Mr. Rafsanjani had "no other choice" but to try to become Majles
Speaker in order to become the Head of one of the three powers,
"playing the role reserved for him or he had in mind himself".

"However, though I in my opinion his entering in the next House is
neither productive nor positive, yet, considering his weight in the
Islamic Republic and the present political climate, he can not
continue to speak continuously for the conservatives, therefore, he
might be able to play a positive role in future developments of the
country", he told the Persian service of the Radio France
Internationale. ENDS RAFSANJANI ELECTIONS 161299

Date: Sat, 18 Dec 1999 14:09:51 -0500
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@PANJERE.NET>
Subject: Iranians arrested in drug smuggling case

LARNACA, Cyprus (AP) - Two Iranians have been arrested in connection
with an alleged attempt to smuggle 2.5 kilograms of heroin to Toronto.

On Tuesday, airport security discovered 2.5 kilograms of heroin strapped
to the body of a woman who was about to board a plane for Toronto via
Athens. Vassos Tantis, a drug officer, told the Larnaca District Court
on Wednesday that the woman had met with a man on several occasions at
three different Larnaca hotels on the southern coast.

He said the man brought the heroin with him and handed it over to the
woman to smuggle it to Toronto.

The man was found with two notebooks listing names, descriptions and
nationalities of various contacts. Police said the woman's name and her
address in Canada were listed along with those of possible carriers in
countries such as Colombia, Afghanistan and Nigeria.

They said the two suspects also met with other Iranians on the Larnaca
seafront and they are now trying to track those people down.

Police allege both suspects are part of a major international drug
trafficking ring and have requested assistance from Interpol.

Keivan Arzaghi, 42, of Teheran, was arrested Wednesday and remanded for
seven days in police custody pending an investigation into allegations
that he brought the drugs from Iran to Cyprus.

Kayvandokht Hadavand, 57, a U.S. passport holder of Iranian origin, was
arrested Tuesday. Hadavand, who lives in Canada, had arrived in Cyprus
on Dec. 3. She was remanded in police custody for eight days.

Date: Sat, 18 Dec 1999 14:09:24 -0500
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@PANJERE.NET>
Subject: Pakistan court confirms death for Iranian's killer

Pakistan court confirms death for Iranian's killer 07:46 a.m. Dec 16,
1999 Eastern

ISLAMABAD, Dec 16 (Reuters) - Pakistan's Supreme Court on Thursday
confirmed the death sentence for an Islamic militant for the murder of
an Iranian official nine years ago, court sources said.

They said a three-judge bench of the country's top court upheld a lower
court's conviction of Haq Nawaz for the December 19, 1990, murder of
Ardeshir Sadegh Ganji.

Ganji was director-general of the Iranian cultural centre in the
Pakistani city of Lahore.

The sources said the bench turned down an appeal against the conviction
of Nawaz, who police say is a member of the militant Sipah-e-Sahaba
Pakistan (SSP) group from the majority Sunni sect of Islam. Police say
the sect is engaged in a bloody feud with rival groups from the minority
Shi'ite sect.

Delays in the decision of this and some other cases of Iranians murdered
in Pakistan has been a major irritant in relations between Islamabad and
Tehran.

Thursday's verdict after a two-day hearing of Nawaz's appeal comes a
week after Pakistani military ruler General Pervez Musharraf made a
brief visit to Tehran where Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
raised with him the issue of what he called ``martyrdom of several
Iranian nationals'' in Pakistan.

Ganji was killed by a burst of fire from a Kalashnikov assault rifle as
he was about to enter a hotel in Lahore, capital of the central province
of Punjab, to attend a farewell party for him.

A special court sentenced Nawaz to death and six other accused to life
imprisonment in 1991. After a gap of eight years, the provincial Lahore
High Court upheld the sentence against Nawaz but acquitted the other
convicts.

Sunni militants accuse Shi'ite Iran of aiding their rival Shi'ite
militants who, in turn, accuse Sunni Saudi Arabia of aiding Sunni
groups. Both countries deny the allegations.

Last year, Pakistani Anti-Terrorism Courts sentenced two men to death in
April for murder of five Iranian air force technicians and their
Pakistani driver near Islamabad in September 1997, and another two to
death in October for the murder of two Iranians in February working on a
bridge under construction in Karachi.

Both the sentences have yet to be confirmed by higher courts.

Date: Sat, 18 Dec 1999 14:04:53 -0500
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@PANJERE.NET>
Subject: Iran To Play Mexico in January

CHICAGO (AP) - Iran's soccer team will play an exhibition game against
Mexico at Oakland, Calif., on Jan. 9, one week before the Iranians play
the United States at the Rose Bowl.

Iran upset the United States 2-1 at last year's World Cup. The Jan. 16
game at the Rose Bowl will be the first meeting since then between the
Americans and the Iranians

Date: Sat, 18 Dec 1999 14:07:41 -0500
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@PANJERE.NET>
Subject: fwd: Jameehshenasi-ye Nokhbeh Koshi dar Iran

Jame’ehshenasi-ye Nokhbeh Koshi dar Iran

The Killing of Iran’s Elites: A Sociological Study by Ali Rezagoli 240
pages, Tehran: Nay Publishers, 14th edition, 1999 (in Farsi)

Reviewed by Afshin Molavi and Kaveh Basmenji

As the winds of liberal reform buffet Iran, the country’s modernist
intellectuals can be forgiven a certain degree of pessimism. After all,
this old and tormented land has seen a colorful parade of failed
reformists and false messiahs wave their pamphlets and their dreams,
only to be cut down by reactionary monarchs, foreign powers, political
backwardness, or their own hubris and ineptitude. Ali Rezagoli, a Tehran
sociologist wounded by a painful reading of Iran’s past, is one of those
intellectual pessimists, observing history from the gallery and wincing
at the tragic scenes. In a soul-searching cultural inquiry into modern
Iranian political history, his book, The Killing of Iran’s Elites,
concludes that Iranian soil is not fit for reformist leaders—an
important claim in the era of President Mohammad Khatami.

The errant iconoclasts of reformist and innovative thought, Rezagoli
argues, are quickly killed or overthrown by a patriarchal, tribal,
traditional culture that fails to appreciate their efforts. "Generally
speaking, Iranian society produces corrupt rulers," he laments in this
240-page polemic that zoomed to the top of Iran’s bestseller list during
the past year. In those rare instances when "great" (in Rezagoli’s view)
leaders emerge, "the culture quickly corrects itself and kills these
great ones within a year or two."

Rezagoli focuses on three great leaders brought down before their
efforts could bear fruit: 19th century reformers, Prime Ministers Qaem
Maqam Farahani and Amir Kabir, and 1950s prime minister and nationalist
icon, Mohammad Mossadeq. Although the author deliberately avoids
discussion of post-1979 Iranian politics, he owes his book’s runaway
success mostly to today’s highly charged political atmosphere. The
central theme of reformist leaders brought down by an unsophisticated
political culture resonates in contemporary Iran, where Khatami is
seeking to introduce liberal values amid conservative opposition.

But even in hyper-politicized Tehran, the book might have achieved only
marginal success were it not for the timing of its release: The Killing
of Iran’s Elites was published during the arrest and trial of Tehran’s
popular mayor, Gholamhossein Karbaschi—acts widely seen as a
conservative attempt to quash a key reformer and Khatami ally. Suddenly,
newspapers and readers alike shouted, today’s Iran had a living
testament to the Rezagoli theory: a popular and effective reformist
leader, who is brought down by a reactionary and hostile establishment
with a minimum of popular protest (readers began to call Karbaschi
"today’s Amir Kabir"). Word quickly spread about The Killing of Iran’s
Elites and 14 print runs later, it had become the bestselling book of
the Iranian year (ending on March 20, 1999). Iranian readers ignored the
critics, who snubbed the work as unsophisticated. By embracing
Rezagoli’s argument, these readers have strayed from the traditionally
middle-class Iranian stance of blaming their country’s problems on
"foreign conspiracies" or a corrupt central government.

Beyond the political excitement generated by the book, Rezagoli raises
some important points about the effect of Iran’s culture on its
politics. If Iran’s culture is patriarchal, deeply traditional, and
tribal, then it would follow that only a charismatic strongman can rule
Iran. History has given us ample proof of that proposition. However, in
studying culture’s effect on politics, Rezagoli fails to do the critical
reverse calculation: the effect of politics on culture. More than 2,500
years of absolute and often despotic rule in Iran have bred a
traditional, anti-authoritarian, and sometimes cynical political
culture. With kings, princes, ministers, and clerics either oblivious to
or unable to meet the concerns of the average citizen, the man on the
street would naturally turn to tribe or family for support. With
governments to be feared, the Iranian Everyman would inevitably view
politics as a dangerous game played by elites. In this light, the fall
of Amir Kabir or Mohammad Mossadeq becomes merely the latest act in an
old tragic play.

Further, the cases Rezagoli uses—Mossadeq, Kabir, Maqam—are weak
foundations for his argument. In none of these cases were the Iranian
people, or even Iranian culture, involved in the leader’s fall. Kabir
and Maqam were killed by palace intrigue, and Mossadeq was brought down
by a CIA-supported coup and his own hubris and mismanagement.

Perhaps Rezagoli might have looked into another important aspect of
Iranian political culture: hero worship. The Iranian is quick to swoon,
to embrace the charismatic leader with a bagful of promises. The people
invest all their hopes and dreams and goals in this leader, this
redeemer, this hero figure, who has come to save the day. When he fails
to meet those unrealistic expectations, the old Iranian cynicism
surfaces.

In this kind of political culture, the best a leader can hope for is a
timely death, before his attempts to reform fail against the crushing
weight of tradition. Then the reformist becomes a martyr and a "what
might have been" hero figure in the minds of the people. Mossadeq, in
particular, departed at the right moment. The secular nationalist
movement he led was crumbling under increasing mismanagement and
authoritarianism by the time the CIA decided to break down the already
cracking wall in 1953. Mossadeq was exiled to his estate, where he lived
under house arrest until he died, and his name became synonymous with
Iranian nationalism. His greatest legacy is the dream he left behind to
the millions of his admirers: the dream of Iran as a liberal,
nationalist democracy, unexploited by foreign powers, progressive and
prosperous, resource-rich, and militarily strong.

Nearly half a century later, President Khatami, a child of the seminary
and a student of the West, provides Iran its brightest hope for melding
liberal democratic values within the country’s Islamic traditions. His
two years of rule have already dramatically altered the political
discourse of the nation, with talk of civil society, the rule of law,
and freedom of the press ruling the day. But can Khatami and his liberal
reform movement survive? That question is the unspoken theme of
Rezagoli’s book.

There is cause for some optimism. Khatami, a man of religion, unlike
Rezagoli’s secular heroes, understands the importance of safeguarding
Islamic traditions as he works toward democratic foundations. Like the
proverbial general who can make the peace, Khatami’s clerical
credentials boost his movement enormously. Moreover, Khatami is a
popularly elected leader, which grants him a powerful legitimacy not
accorded to most past reformists or, indeed, to many of his opponents.
And he is the beneficiary of that old friend of political movements:
propitious timing. By May 23, 1997, the day of Khatami’s election, Iran
was debt-ridden, demonized, sanctioned, war-scarred, economically
faltering, and humiliated. The old anti-West, Third Worldist slogans of
the Khomeini era had lost their resonance. Khatami, a smiling cleric who
called for greater political and social freedoms, captivated the Iranian
electorate, winning in a landslide.

Perhaps the most important element of Iran’s liberal reform movement
today is that Khatami is not alone. This is not a revolution from above.
Although the old Iranian hero worship can be seen in the massive support
for Khatami, the president is flanked by a powerful and growing group of
liberal reformists from all walks of life. Even if Khatami were to
suffer "a timely death," chances are his movement wouldn’t die with him.

Date: Sat, 18 Dec 1999 14:15:03 -0500
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@ALGONET.SE>
Subject: 6,800 register to run in Iran parliament elections

6,800 register to run in Iran parliament elections 09:13 a.m. Dec 18,
1999 Eastern

TEHRAN, Dec 18 (Reuters) - About 6,800 Iranians have signed up to run in
crucial parliamentary polls in February, which will pit reformists close
to President Mohammad Khatami against conservative opponents, election
officials said on Saturday.

It is the largest number of entrants in an election in Iran since the
1979 Islamic revolution, but the actual number contending for the
parliament's 290 seats in the February 18 vote could be much smaller
after a two-stage screening.

The Interior Ministry on Saturday began vetting the hopefuls to ensure
they meet legal requirements for candidacy, and the clergy-based
Guardian Council will later screen them for ideological and moral
qualifications.

The entrants range from religious hardliners to secularist academics to
entertainment celebrities, reflecting growing political participation
under Khatami, who took office in 1997.

Reformers, relying on Khatami's wide popularity, are hoping to unseat
the parliament's conservative majority and bolster his liberal reforms
which have been stumbling in the face of hardline opposition.

But they fear that the conservative Guardian Council may use its powers
to disqualify some of their key allies on political grounds.

Ahead of the last parliamentary elections in 1996, the council approved
some 3,200 candidates from the more than 5,100 who had signed up to run.

About 1,000 people are seeking to run in Tehran. The number of
parliament seats is being raised to 290 from 270 to take account of an
increase in population.

Official campaigning will only be allowed for one week up to the eve of
the elections, but reformist and conservative figures have already begun
competing for media coverage.

Date: Sat, 18 Dec 1999 16:40:37 -0500
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@PANJERE.NET>
Subject: Writers call for public trial for intellectuals' killers

TEHRAN, Dec 18 (AFP) - Seventy Iranian writers and others have called for a
public trial of the suspects in last year's murders of intellectuals and
opposition figures, Aftab-e-Emruz newspaper reported Saturday.

"One year after these murders, and although the intelligence ministry has
admitted its involvement ... we ask that you identify the assassins and try
them publicly," a petition signed by 70 writers, lawyers, poets and liberal
intellectuals, said.

The petition, sent to the chief justice, Ayatollah Mahmud Hashemi-Shahrudi,
also called for the judicial system "to tell the victims' families what
information" had been uncovered.

The victims' relatives and lawyers have regularly said that they had not been
kept abreast of the inquiries.

The first killings happened in December 1998, when secular opposition leader
Daryush Foruhar and his wife Parveneh were stabbed to death in their home.
Their murders were followed by those of three writers who were prominent
campaigners for freedom of speech, Majid Sharif, Mohammad Mokhtari and Jafar
Puyandeh, in circumstances that remain unclear.

At President Mohammad Khatami's request, a commission of inquiry has been
charged with clearing up these murders.

Iran's judiciary blamed the killings a group of 27 "rogue" intelligence agents
trying to "damage Iran's image abroad and isolate the country" as well as
"weaken the authority" of the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The intelligence ministry has admitted some of its men were involved, but
denied that ministry officials knew in advance or were involved in the
killings.

Secret agent Said Emami, said to have masterminded the slayings, committed
suicide while in prison awaiting his trial, according to the prison
authorities.

Khatami said Wednesday he wanted a "speedy solution" to the killings. The
president, who was speaking to Iranian journalists, also said that the people
would be kept informed of the investigations' progress.

Recordings have been made of the killers' confessions, which could shortly be
broadcast by state television, press reports here said.

Following the killings, intelligence minister Ghorbanali Dorri-Najafadi was
replaced by another cleric, Ali Yunessi. The slayings provoked a wave of
protests abroad and in opposition circles and continue to poison Iran's
political atmosphere.

Date: Sat, 18 Dec 1999 16:40:51 -0500
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@PANJERE.NET>
Subject: Tolerated Iranian opposition launches counterrattack on conservatives

Fri, 17 Dec 1999 6:00:14 PST : ClariNet Communications Corp.

TEHRAN, Dec 17 (AFP) - The opposition Iran Freedom Movement hit back at
conservatives after their leader, parliamentary speaker Ali Akbar
Nateq-Nuri, accused it of trying to seize control of the universities
with pro-American forces.

In an unprecedented attack, IFM, which so far has been tolerated by the
conservative-dominated regime, charged that "the conservative
monopolists" are responsible for "two decades of crisis, difficulties,
corruption and bankruptcy in the country."

"The IFM prefers to respond to Nateq-Nuri's defamatory comments before
the relevant court because it intends to file a complaint," it said in
a statement received here Friday.

The group also called for "Nateq-Nuri and his political friends to
submit to the will of the majority before it's too late."
Nateq-Nuri, in a speech to a group of students December 7 on the
occasion of the "day of the student," said that the "United States
wants to infiltrate our universities with the help of liberals and
nationalists."

"This is a threat and we must remain vigilant," Nateq-Nuri said
mentioning the progressive Islamic IFM as an example.

"The IFM and the pro-American nationalists want to take hold of the
universities," he said, adding that "if we examine the role of the
liberals during the unrest in Iranian Kurdistan following the (1979
Islamic) revolution, the heads of this movement should be prosecuted."

The IFM was founded by the Islamic republic's first prime minister
Mehdi Bazargan.

Iranian authorities have repeatedly accused Bazargan's provisional
government of having provoked the unrest in Kurdistan, violently
supressed by order of the founder of the Islamic republic, Ayatollah
Ruhollah Khomeini.
On Sunday, the IFM announced it was seeking permission to run in
February's legislative elections --- its candidates have been
repeatedly barred from standing in the past.

If the IFM receives approval, its list of candidates will be headed by
its secretary general, Ibrahim Yazdi, who was foreign minister under
Bazargan and a companion of Khomeini in exile in France.

Date: Sat, 18 Dec 1999 16:40:24 -0500
From: Farhad Abdolian <farhad@PANJERE.NET>
Subject: Sirjani Was Murdered Too !

Asr E Azadegan
By Emadeddin Baqi

12/18/1999

Based on the remarks of a Saeed Emami's accomplice, the Iranian author, Saeedi
Sirjani, was killed by Emami in prison by using a potassium suppository which
causes heart failure.

The Forensic Medicine announced that Sirjani's death was due to a heart
failure; this announcement was a great help for those who pretended that the
author died a natural death.

Therefore, Sirjani's murder should also be included in the serial Killings .

End of DNI-NEWS Digest - 17 Dec 1999 to 18 Dec 1999
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