Sunday, August 15, 2004

US poised for killer blow against Muqtada -

US poised for killer blow against Muqtada -: "Monday 16th August 2004 :
US poised for killer blow against Muqtada
By Jim Lobe
WASHINGTON - Once again, US armed forces appear on the verge of winning a decisive military victory in Iraq - this time in the holy city of Najaf. And once again, they appear closer to losing the larger wars for a stable and friendly Iraq and for an Islamic world that will cease producing anti-US terrorism.
That is the rapidly growing concern of Middle East and Islamic specialists as US Marines, after a week of fighting, captured virtually all of central Najaf on Thursday, including the home of Mehdi Army leader Muqtada al-Sadr, and launched a final siege of the Imam Ali Shrine, which is considered the world's holiest by some 120 million Shi'ite Muslims.
According to a report on Friday by the Arabic-language al-Arabiya TV channel, Muqtada was injured in the fighting. The report said that he suffered three injuries, but did not say how and when he was wounded. Later, one of Muqtada's spokesmen confirmed that the cleric had been injured, but said 'his injuries are not life threatening'. Earlier this week, Muqtada vowed that he would resist US forces 'with the last drop of my blood'.
The military commanders and Iraq's interim premier, Iyad Allawi, are debating whether to wait out Muqtada and his armed followers, who are believed to be inside the shrine, or to invade its precincts - preferably with Iraqi troops. The end result of such actions is not likely to work in Washington's favor, according to most experts. But reports from the troubled city on Friday indicated that there has been a lull in fighting pending possible negotiations. US commanders said the new ceasefire orders were designed to allow political negotiations to proceed between Muqtada and the interim Iraqi g"

Iran enjoys windfall of rising oil prices

The Daily Star - Business Articles - Iran enjoys windfall of rising oil prices: "Iran enjoys windfall of rising oil prices

By Agence France Presse (AFP)

Monday, August 16, 2004
TEHRAN: Iran is benefiting from the current increasing oil prices in the short term, Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh said on Sunday.
'Given the increased revenues from crude exports, hiking oil prices will be to the benefit of Iran,' Zanganeh told the Oil Ministry's news agency Shana.
'The higher the oil price, the more profitable oil industry development projects,' he added.
Zanganeh said 'political tensions' were the main reason for skyrocketing prices on the world oil markets.
'Market factors under the current conditions have not played any role in pushing prices higher and political crisis and tensions have kept prices high,' he told Shana.

He echoed Iran's envoy to OPEC, Hossein Kazempour Ardebili, who said Saturday there is no reason for OPEC to raise production to bring prices down.
'Currently, there are over 2.8 million barrels of oil (per day) as surplus supply in the world's stockpiles, therefore there is no reason to supply more oil, even if feasible,' Kazempour told Shana.
But he added, 'Obviously, oil prices will have an upward trend regardless of the fundamental factors of the market, namely supply and demand.' "

Iran faces petrol crisis

Khaleej Times Online: "Iran faces petrol crisis

15 August 2004

TEHERAN - Leading crude oil producer Iran faces a growing shortfall in supplies of vehicle fuel, with heavily-subsidised petrol (gasoline) consumption reaching 70 million litres a day, the oil ministry's news agency Shana reported yesterday.
Average consumption has reached 66 million litres, compared with a daily output by Iran's refineries of some 39 million litres, obliging the Islamic Republic to import the rest at an annual cost of 1.5 billion dollars. Despite a 23 per cent price hike for the Iranian year that started March 20, pump prices are still only 800 rials (less than 10 US cents) a litre for standard, lead-free petrol and 1,100 rials for super. This is close to 2.5 times less than the real price, with the difference being made up by subsidies totalling 3.5 billion dollars a year.
This not only makes for heedless consumption in a country with inadequate public transportation and a large number of old and uneconomical cars, but massive smuggling of fuel to neighbouring countries. The government is unwilling to raise the price again but is considering other steps along with appeals to cut down on fuel use. One measure just launched is the production of an electronic smart card for buying petrol, enabling individual purchases to be monitored. "

Ir: Speaker: Majlis to strive for release of IRNA correspondent "Ir: Speaker: Majlis to strive for release of IRNA correspondent

Published: 15.08.2004
IRNA, Tehran, 14 Aug 2004 -- Majlis Speaker Gholam-Ali Haddad-Adel said here on Saturday that Majlis would strive to secure release of IRNA reporter Mostafa Darban, who was arrested along with three other IRNA staff in Baghdad on Monday, August 9.

Haddad-Adel said Iranian MPs feel one of the sons of Iranian nation has been arrested, so they consider it as their duty to cooperate with all the organs, having a direct role in release of IRNA correspondent.

Speaking to IRNA on sidelines of the meeting of Iranian ambassadors and representatives abroad, Haddad-Adel said Majlis feels it as its duty to secure release of Darban as well as all those taken hostage in Iraq.

Haddad-Adel deplored the fact that the event had taken place on days close to the Journalist's Day.

Describing conditions in Iraq as "complicated", Haddad-Adel said anything in Iraq depends on public presence and fortunately the people have strong presence on the scene. He added that it is a positive sign, indicating a bright horizon is ahead for public sovereignty in Iraq. Meanwhile, Association of Iranian Journalists (AIJ) on Saturday deplored the arrest of IRNA reporter Mostafa Darban from his office in Baghdad.

Eye-witnesses said that policemen in Iraqi police uniforms arrested the IRNA reporter and several local staff of IRNA office in Baghdad on August 9.

In a statement, faxed to IRNA, the AIJ called on Iraqi government to give explanation on the matter and secure his immediate release.

The statement said that such actions of the Iraqi government has escalated insecurity for the reporters in the country. The AIJ also expressed concern about temporary banning of al-Jazeera TV from Iraq and called for resumption of the TV operation. "In the past week, three worrying events took place in Iraq indicative of a political resolve to stop the reporters from doing professional duty in the country. Temporary ban on al-Jazeera TV runs counter to the international conventions and the principles already advocated by Baghdad government," it said.

"The Iraqi government is expected to lift the temporary ban on al-Jazeera TV and respect the international public opinion," it added. "IRNA is a professional news agency which respects impartiality and accuracy of reporting in both domestic and international developments. IRNA`s presence in Iraq has been in the context of the brotherly and good neighborly relationship between Iranian and Iraqi nations," IRNA colleague in Tehran said.

"If IRNA reporter's arrest has been made for political considerations by certain segments of Iraqi government, they should know that IRNA reporters are independent by profession and do not regard any political considerations in doing their business." he said.


IRAN Successful Enhansed SHIHAB-3 Test


NICOSIA [MENL] -- Iran has claimed a successful launch of what it termed an enhanced Shihab-3 intermediate-range missile.
Iran's Defense Ministry said the test of the latest version of the Shihab-3 was meant to determine the success of recent modifications of the missile. The ministry did not elaborate.
'The Defense Ministry announced that the latest version of the Shihab-3 was tested today,' the official Iranian news agency, Irna, said. 'This experiment on the ground was aimed at evaluating modifications recently made to the missile on the basis of research results. The pre-determined targets were hit in the testing.'
The ministry said the Shihab-3 was fired on Wednesday from a launching site in central Iran and achieved its objectives. In a June 2003 flight, the Shihab-3 was said to have achieved a range of 1,380 kilometers. "

Former foreign secretary: Britain financed the Iraqi nerve gas program

Description of Selected News: "London and Washington Facilitated Saddam WMD Program: Cook

TEHRAN (MNA) – The former British foreign secretary has revealed that that Britain and the U.S. facilitated toppled Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD) program, the Saudi Mohit news website said on Saturday.

In a book entitled “Reasons for Resignation” Robin Cook has disclosed the secrets and details of the joint attack against Iraq by the U.S. and Britain.

In his book he states that the attack on Iraq was morally, diplomatically and politically wrong.

By granting a $1 billion loan to the former Iraqi government, Britain financed the Iraqi nerve gas program, the former foreign secretary stated.

Cook also said that the administration of former U.S. President Ronald Reagan made a great contribution to arming Saddam with unconventional weapons and that U.S. firms constructed facilities for the production of anthrax and other biological toxins in Iraq.

Cook quit the cabinet over his opposition to the war against Iraq."

Iraqi Embassy Seriously Pursuing Case Of Kidnapped Iranian Reporter

Description of Selected News: "Iraqi Embassy Seriously Pursuing Case Of Kidnapped Iranian Reporter: Official

Tehran Times Political Desk
TEHRAN (MNA) -- Iraqi charge d�affaires Khalil Salman al-Sabihi said on Saturday that the Iraqi Embassy in Tehran is seriously pursuing the case of the Iranian reporter kidnapped in Iraq through frequent contacts with Iraqi officials.
�We have informed the Iraqi government about the views of Iranian officials and are seriously pursuing the case in an attempt to clarify the situation of the Iranian reporter,� he told the Mehr News Agency.
Al-Sabihi said that the Iraqi police were not involved in the incident, adding that a group of kidnappers had taken the reporter hostage. He went on to say that Iraqi officials would try their best to obtain the release of the Iranian national.
Iraqi officials have no information about the reporter�s situation and whereabouts, he added.
The Iraqi charge d�affaires in Tehran was summoned to the Foreign Ministry on Wednesday to receive the Iranian government�s official protest about the recent kidnapping of an Iranian reporter in Iraq."

Khatami To Visit Kurdestan Province On Tuesday

Description of Selected News: "Khatami To Visit Kurdestan Province On Tuesday

SANANDAJ, Kurdestan Prov. (IRNA) -- President Mohammad Khatami is to arrive in this western province on Tuesday to inaugurate a number of newly completed development projects, it was announced here Saturday.
Davud Nassiri-Omid, head of the public relations department of the provincial governor-general's office, told reporters that some newly completed industrial and sports projects are to be inaugurated by the president during a one-day tour of the province.
Operations of the Sanandaj Steel Mill and a newly established tractor manufacturing factory along with construction operations on a petrochemical complex project in this provincial capital are to be launched by the president, he added.
The president is also scheduled to attend the inaugural ceremony for the newly constructed 15,000-capacity Sanandaj stadium. He will also be meeting officials and outstanding residents of the province and will also attend a session of the provincial administrative council, according to his prepared agenda.
The trip will be Khatami's second to the province since he was elected president seven years ago."

John Negroponte Linked to Kidnapers of Fereidun Jahani

Description of Selected News: "Iraqi Prime Minister Welcomes Invitation To Visit Iran

NAJAF (IRNA) -- Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi has welcomed an invitation to visit Iran despite a recent war of words which have dogged ties between the two neighbors.

Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi announced Tuesday that Allawi had been invited to pay an official visit to Iran.

"We want establishment of good relations with neighboring countries, especially Iran, and believe that our bilateral ties are based on common interests," Allawi told IRNA reporter at this Iraqi holy city Saturday.

Allawi's conciliatory statements come in the wake of accusations leveled by few interim Iraqi government officials, including Defense Minister Hazem al-Shalaan, accusing Iran of interference in Iraq's domestic affairs. The Iraqi prime minister stressed that 'the complaint' had only been made against 'unofficial figures' in Iran, saying, "We do not accuse the Iranian government of interference in Iraq's domestic affairs."

They also follow the arrest of several Iranians in Iraq, including four IRNA correspondents and a consular official.

Baghdad bureau chief Mostafa Darban and two Iraqi staff, Mohammed Khafaji and Mohsen Madani, have been arrested and Iranian officials say the fate of the fourth is still unaccounted for.

Tehran said one of its consular officials in Iraq, Fereidun Jahani, had disappeared on August 4 on the road between Baghdad and Karbala.

A statement from a group, calling itself the Islamic Army in Iraq, has alleged that Jahani was 'detained for stirring sectarian strife and for activities outside his diplomatic duties'.

An unnamed source has been quoted as saying that the group had acted in collaboration with the U.S. embassy in Iraq under direct supervision of U.S. ambassador John Negroponte.

Iran has twice summoned Iraq's top diplomat to Tehran for explanation following the accusations, including allegations that four Iranian intelligence officers had been arrested on suspicion of spying and carrying out acts of sabotage in the country."

Khatami Says Iranian Foreign Policy Is Based On Non-Interference and Détente

Description of Selected News: "Khatami Says Iranian Foreign Policy Is Based On Non-Interference and Détente

TEHRAN (MNA) -- Expounding on Iranian foreign policy President Mohammad Khatami said Saturday that Iranian foreign policy is based on détente and non-interference in other countries’ internal affairs.

Speaking at the inaugural ceremony of forum attended by Iranian ambassadors abroad Khatami underlined the significance of public opinion and said that overlooking this reality will isolate Iran and prevent it from taking advantage of the modern world's benefits.

Khatami said only a government will survive that realizes the people’s aspirations, a report released by the Public Relations Department of the Presidential Office said.

Turning to recognition of the new system during Iran's glorious Islamic Revolution, the president said that the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran called for democracy, freedom and development in line with religious principles.

This indicates that religion supports democracy, social development and justice, he added.

"Based on the new system, diplomacy is defined as the relation between the government and other nations aiming to protect national interests and promote security," he added as quoted by IRNA.

Reiterating the need for active presence in the international scene, he noted that to do so it is necessary to become powerful.

Khatami said a weak country can hardly benefit by establishing ties with other states.

He added that real democracy, technology, dynamic economy and public opinion are among the most important factors contributing to power in today's world.

"Knowledge, technology and a strong economy are indispensable for survival in today's world," he added.

"The role of `public opinion' is so crucial that the even biggest world powers need to influence public opinion in their own favor in order to justify their misdeeds including occupying other countries’ lands, suppress innocent people, and even do state-sponsored terrorism.

The president said that Iran should seek access to advanced technology and progressive economy by having an active presence in the global market.

"We are set to establish a new ruling system based on understanding for a democratic system. We wish to present our own indigenous democratic model advocating for enforcement of religious rules," he added.

Khatami further added that Iran supports the oppressed people in the world without interfering in other countries’ internal affairs.

Lauding the resistance of the Palestinian people, he said that Iran's policy on Afghanistan and Iraq is based on detente and stability. -------Majlis Speaker Says Tehran's Policy Based On Defending Self-Identity

Majlis speaker Majlis Speaker Gholam-Ali Haddad-Adel also said Tehran's policy is based on defending self-identity, national security and national interests.

Addressing the same gathering on Saturday, Haddad-Adel said the 7th Majlis eyes expansion of international relations and would try to help the Foreign Ministry in its bid for this purpose.

Haddad-Adel stressed the need for Iranians to identify their position and identity worldwide, saying that national identity covers an extensive and great realm in the country.

He said religion is the cause of unity in Iran and the country's foreign policy should be designed based on the same notion.

"The Islamic Revolution triumphed in Iran in light of strong link between religion and policy; the key to our power and strength is combination of religion and government as well as religion and policy," said Haddad-Adel.

He said the defense of national identity, wise approach, identification of interests and preservation of dignity are the specifications of Tehran's diplomacy.

The 7th Majlis might have its own views on the economic and political issues but the views should not harm national strength, added the speaker."