Sunday, October 02, 2005

AP Wire | 10/02/2005 | Iraq rejects Saudi charge of Iran meddling

AP Wire | 10/02/2005 | Iraq rejects Saudi charge of Iran meddling: "Iraq rejects Saudi charge of Iran meddling

Associated Press
CAIRO, Egypt - Iraq angrily rejected Saudi Arabian allegations of increasing Iranian involvement in Iraq, as Arab foreign ministers gathered on Sunday to discuss a pan-Arab strategy to help restore stability to the war-torn country.

Top American diplomats, meanwhile, have stepped up efforts with Arab officials to involve them with endeavors to convince Iraqi Sunni Arabs to accept Iraq's contentious constitution.

In a sign of rising tensions, Iraqi Interior Minister Bayan Jabr, a powerful member of the Shiite-led government, disputed Saudi accusations that Iran now dominates Iraq, instead accusing the Saudis of being "tyrants" who discriminate against their own Shiites.

Iraq's Sunni-dominated neighbors, chiefly Saudi Arabia and Jordan, have expressed concern that too much influence from Iran could empower Iraq's majority Shiites and cause a political shift in the region, including a possible split of the country into a Kurdish north, a Sunni center and a Shiite south.

The vast majority of Muslims in the Arab world are Sunnis; in Iraq they are a 20 percent minority.

Last week the Saudi foreign minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, criticized the United States, saying its strategy in Iraq had deepened sectarianism to the extent that Iraq was effectively being handed over to Iran, its eastern, Shiite-led neighbor.

Both the United States and Iran dismissed Prince Saud's charges last week, and Jabr on Sunday also rejected them, calling the Saudis "tyrants who think they are king and God."

"Saudi Arabia has other motives to launch such accusations," he said. "Saudi Arabia has its own problems. There are 4 million Shiites who are treated as third-class citizens."

That evening, Prince Saud repeated the accusations, without naming Iran, in his opening speech to the foreign ministers' meeting in the Saudi city of Jiddah.

"History will not forgive Iraq's neighbors who have exploited Iraq's misery for their shortsighted interest," he said.

Arab foreign ministers were meeting in Jiddah to discuss "an Arab strategy to help the Iraqi people," Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa said in Cairo before the meeting.

On Saturday, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said Arabs should help Iraq to crush its insurgency if they want to stop Iran from interfering there.

He urged Arabs to stop describing the insurgents as "resistance fighters," saying such terms amounted to incitement.

Arab diplomats in Cairo said the ministers are expected to urge Iraqi Sunni Arabs to accept a final draft of the constitution worked out through last-ditch efforts by the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad.

Khalilzad met Saudi King Abdullah in Jiddah on Saturday night to brief the king on his efforts. Later he flew to the United Arab Emirates for similar talks.

Iraq's Sunni leaders are mobilizing to defeat the constitution in the Oct. 15 referendum.

In Cairo, another top American diplomat, James Jeffery, the State Department coordinator on Iraq, made similar efforts with Moussa and Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit.

Sunni-dominated Arab countries have expressed concern that the draft constitution gives too much weight to Iraq's ethnic and religious divisions. They say it greatly increases the powers of Iraq's Kurds and Shiites while marginalizing the Sunni minority.

In another source of friction between Iraq and its neighbors, Arab nations have been hesitant to send ambassadors to Baghdad, particularly after the al-Qaida in Iraq terror group kidnapped and killed top diplomats from Egypt and Algeria in July."

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Iran Daily: IRIB UrgedTo Respect Jews

Iran Daily: "IRIB UrgedTo Respect Jews

TEHRAN, April 13--Parliament Speaker Gholamali Haddad-Adel called on the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting to show due respect to religious minorities and their rights.
Speaking during the parliament’s open session on Wednesday, Haddad-Adel pointed to the remarks of Jewish MP Maurice Motamed during a pre-agenda speech, criticizing the IRIB’s negative representation of Jews and asked the state TV and radio to observe minority rights in their programs.
Motamed had criticized the IRIB for airing an anti-Jewish series. “Insulting the Jews and making false accusations against them in a TV series during the past decade has not only hurt their sentiments, but also convinced them to leave their homeland in large numbers,“ the MP noted.
Motamed recalled a comment by the late Founder of the Islamic Republic Imam Khomeini who once said: “For us, Jews are different from Zionists. The Jewish community, like other minorities, belongs to this nation and Islam treats them on a par with other minorities.“
Haddad-Adel confirmed noticing the same discrepancy when watching a TV series and said the Jewish MP was entitled to the criticism."

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Iran Daily - Arts & Culture - 09/13/05 - Iran Repairing Christian Churches

Iran Daily - Arts & Culture - 09/13/05: "ICCO Repairing Churches

A church in Abadan, Khuzestan province

TEHRAN, Sept. 12--Iran will spend five billion rials to repair churches across the country. Islamic Culture and Communications Organization (ICCO) said in a press release that an annual budget has been allocated to repair churches belonging to various Christian communities, including the Armenians, in Iran.
Iran’s cultural attachŽ in Armenia Alireza Otoufi said that Iran accords special importance to Iranian religious minorities and the government has set aside five billion rials to repair the churches in the current fiscal year (March 2005-March 2006).
Otoufi explained that the government’s decision to that effect in a meeting in Yerevan, Armenia with archbishops of Armenian churches in Tehran, northern Iran and Isfahan.
He said that Iran is the only country that extends annual budget for repairing churches.
Archbishop of Armenians in Tehran and northern Iran, Siveh Sarkisyan said that Iran is a unique country and the government and churches enjoyed excellent relations in the field of dialogue among religions.
Archbishop Sarkisyan appreciated the services of Iranian cultural attachŽ in Yerevan and said, “Wherever, we are, we have the same obligations for promoting religion.“
Bobken Charyan, a bishop of Isfahan archdiocese thanked the Iranian government for its cooperation with the churches.
Copies from chapters of holy Qur’an were presented as gifts to the guests"

Iran Daily - Front Page - 09/12/05 - Profile of New IRNA Chief - Ahmad Khademolmelleh

Iran Daily - Front Page - 09/12/05: "Profile of New IRNA Chief
Ahmad Khademolmelleh

Newly-appointed managing director of IRNA, Ahmad Khademolmelleh, 46, was born in Tehran. He got his BA in journalism from Allameh Tabatabai University and MA in management from the Management Faculty in Tehran.
Khademolmelleh began work at IRNA in 1981 as a news writer and has had a 25-year career as journalist. He was appointed director of the News Department in 1992 and was chief of IRNA’s United Nations Bureau in New York from 1997 until 2002.
IRNA’s new chief has served as news writer, news reporter, editor, editor-in-chief, head of IRNA’s bureau in Mazandaran and Ilam provinces (during the 8-year Iran-Iraq war), senior editor-in-chief of Newsroom and advisor to IRNA’s former managing director (his last capacity).
During his journalistic career in 1986-89, Khademolmelleh cooperated with the then-prime minister, Mirhossein Mousavi, as the director of Public Relations Department for news and promotional affairs.
He was also involved in at least 20 military operations during the war imposed by ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein from late 1980 to early 1983 when he headed IRNA’s teams covering the war.
From 1995 to 1997, he served as the director general of the Presidential Office’s Information and News Department. He established the first computer-based Information Dissemination Network in the then-president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani’s Office.
As IRNA’s bureau chief at the UN for five years, Khademolmelleh set up the first computer news network in IRNA’s "

Iran News - Water export possible: Iran's Energy Minister

Iran News - Water export possible: Iran's Energy Minister: "Water export possible: Iran's Energy Minister

Saturday, September 24, 2005 - ©2005

LONDON, September 24 (IranMania) - Iran's Energy Minister Parviz Fattah said that abundant water resources in certain parts of the country make export to neighboring countries possible.

In an interview with ISNA, Fattah added that talks are underway with the Foreign Ministry to facilitate this.

According to the minister, 80 dam construction projects are underway in different parts of the country with an average physical progress of 25 %. They are expected to become operational within the next four years, brining total water reserve capacity to 30 bln cubic meters, he said.

The minister noted that by implementing hydroelectric dam projects, the government hopes to boost power production and reserve levels considerably.
He added that despite the support of the government and parliament, privatization of the power sector is not making much progress.

?The ministry prioritizes water projects on the basis of climatic conditions and development needs. The power and water sectors currently face arrears of 24,000 bln rials and 7,000 bln rials respectively.?

The minister acknowledged that the water sector has turned into a loss-making industry in almost all provinces mainly due to unsuccessful performance of contractors and factories.

At present, the total volume of available water resources in Iran does not exceed 94 bln cubic meters, of which 83 bln cubic meters are used in the agriculture sector, he said, adding that some 93 % of this amount is consumed in low-productivity activities, whereas the same figure stands at an average of 65 % worldwide.

More importantly, close to 70 % of water resources is distributed in 30 % of the country?s area.

Given the mean annual rainfall of about 250mm, the total volume of precipitation in the country is about 413 bln cubic meters of which 130 bln cubic meters can be harnessed, he concluded."