Sunday, September 26, 2004

Netiran>Articles>Politics>Presidency>Who Will Be the Next Iranian President?

Netiran>Articles>Politics>Presidency>Who Will Be the Next Iranian President?: "Who Will Be the Next Iranian President?

Eqtesad-e Iran, Monthly Magazine, Vol. 6, No. 62, Apr. 2004, Page 24
Word Count : 719

Although any debate about the next presidential election slated for spring 2005 is a bit early, yet figures such as Hassan Rowhani, Mohammad Javad Larijani, Ali Akbar Velayati, Mohammad Reza Bahonar and Ali Akbar Nateq-Nouri are among possible conservative candidates. In the opposite camp, that is the reformists Mohammad Reza Khatami, Ataollah Mohajerani and Mirhossein Mousavi are believed to have a chance.

Before the final composition of the seventh Majlis is made clear, perhaps it would be premature to talk about possible presidential candidates for 2005 elections. In fact various developments that are expected to happen within framework of domestic and foreign policies will make it difficult to predict who will take charge of the Executive. Also, before the seventh Majlis starts to work it is not wise to say who or which group will win presidential campaigns.

However, taking into account tendencies of various personalities, factions and political groups and foreign policy issues facing Iran, different scenarios could be predicted. Several prominent figures have so far indicated their willingness to run for president. The first person mentioned most frequently by domestic and foreign media was secretary of the Supreme Council of National Security, Hassan Rowhani, who is also Iran's top nuclear negotiator with International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). He managed to bring the country's nuclear crisis to a kind of compromise through historical negotiations with foreign ministers of Europe's big three at Sa'adabad. By using suitable diplomatic tools, he settled the issue which apart from being a personal achievement for him, at least delayed a crisis that could have cost Iran very costly.

However, he has opponents in both conservative and reformists camps and he has to step up his endeavors in the run-up to the next presidential polls.

Iran's diplomatic apparatus is expected to be called into action due to increasing significance of such issues as the big Middle East plan worked out by the United States, fighting Al Qaeda and its global terror network, regional nuclear issues, as well as the establishment of an official government in Iraq and stability in Afghanistan. Therefore, in view of the Hassan Rowhani's achievement in negotiating with the European authorities, he is expected to have busy days during the new Iranian year.

In addition to Rowhani, who belongs to pragmatic spectrum of the rightist faction, other names heard are Mohammad Javad Larijani and Ali Akbar Velayati.

Mohammad Javad Larijani is mainly known as a political ideologue among conservatives has been mostly absent from official diplomatic scenes despite his high potentials for engagement with the Europeans, especially, UK. Larijani is among trusted figures of the Islamic system, who has managed to pull off foreign policy challenges of the Islamic Republic in his own way.

On the other hand, Ali Akbar Velayati, a former pediatrician, is a seasoned diplomat with 16 years of experience as foreign minister during war and reconstruction periods. However, some believe that despite that work record he stands less chance for presidency than other conservative figures.

Other conservative personalities enjoying even less chance include former Majlis deputy, Mohammad Reza Bahonar; and former Majlis speaker, Ali Akbar Nateq Nouri.

From Reformist to Independent

The reformists who are still stunned with the blow they received during seventh Majlis elections, have done little yet. Two weeks after parliamentary polls, secretary general of the Islamic Iran Participation Front (IIPF), Mohammad Reza Khatami, told daily Al-Watan that his party would take active part in the upcoming presidential polls. Major reformist figures whose names have been mentioned include Ataollah Mohajerani, the resigned minister of Khatami and former head of the Institute for Dialogue Among Civilizations; Mehdi Karroubi, current Majlis speaker; Mirhossein Mousavi, the successful prime minister of war period; and Mohammad Reza Khatmi himself. However, they stand less chance than conservative rivals, but are likely to run for president in 2005.

Of course, the former president and current chairman of the Expediency Council, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani cannot be ignored. Also, independent candidates and remote possibilities such as women's candidacy should be born in mind. However, to find the answer to the question that who will be Iran's next president, one must wait until June 2005."

Analysis: Iranian Parties Hint At Presidential Candidates

Analysis: Iranian Parties Hint At Presidential Candidates: "Analysis: Iranian Parties Hint At Presidential Candidates

By Bill Samii

Though Iran's next presidential election is still nine months away, there is a great deal of speculation about the likely candidates.

"I would rather someone else enter the presidential race, but if the society as well as prominent pundits conclude that I can fulfill this task better, I will announce my readiness," Expediency Council Chairman Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani told reporters in Mashhad on 16 September, IRNA reported. Rafsanjani added that there is plenty of time for other candidates to come forward.

The reformist Islamic Labor Party's Abbas Ahmadi told Fars News Agency on 10 September that Hashemi-Rafsanjani has met with leaders of his organization and announced that he would run as a candidate under certain conditions. Rafsanjani said his decision would depend on the country's political climate, and he would do it for the sake of the revolution and the system.

"The presidential election will represent the religious democracy in Iran."

Former Prime Minister Mir Hussein Musavi is the reformists' favorite, but he is being coy about his intentions (see "RFE/RL Iran Report," 6 September 2004). Given the difficulties President Hojatoleslam Mohammad Khatami has had in accomplishing anything substantive since being elected in May 1997, Musavi's hesitation is understandable.

"Election of an informed, experienced, faithful, and capable manager will expedite [Iran's] development," Majid Ansari of the pro-reform Militant Clerics Association (Majma-yi Ruhaniyun-i Mubarez) said in the 23 August "Aftab-i Yazd." He added that a strong democracy with public support through elections will neutralize foreign threats. Musavi, therefore, is the only candidate for the 2nd of Khordad Front, Ansari said, adding, "We are still talking to Musavi."

Another prominent member of the Militant Clerics Association, Hojatoleslam Ali-Akbar Mohtashami-Pur, also weighed in on Musavi's behalf, "Aftab-i Yazd" reported on 11 September. Mohtashami-Pur described Musavi's "main qualifications" as "his trustworthiness, truthfulness, and honesty." He added that Musavi managed the country during the 1980-1988 war with Iraq and said that the country's infrastructure is under attack. "We need individuals such as Engineer Musavi, whose main concern day and night is the people."

Ansari said on 12 September that efforts to persuade Musavi to run as a presidential candidate are continuing, IRNA reported. Addressing the annual meeting of the Office for Strengthening Unity student organization, Ansari added, "The president is representing the republican aspect of the system and the presidential election will represent the religious democracy in Iran."

An anonymous "informed source" said in the 8 September "Resalat" that Musavi definitely will not be a candidate. Quoting an anonymous "prominent theoretician of the 2nd of Khordad Front," the source said: "the 2nd of Khordad Front groups are now going to select another person as their candidate in the presidential elections. This is because Mir Hussein Musavi has announced explicitly and clearly that he is definitely not going to stand as a candidate." Musavi reportedly gave many reasons for not running, but the source refused to share them.

Hamid Reza Taraqi, a member of the conservative Islamic Coalition Party's central council, said its strategy is to encourage high public participation in the election by supporting the candidate most likely to unite the voters and gather the highest number of votes, ISNA reported on 7 September. Taraqi said Ali Akbar Velayati -- former foreign minister and current adviser to the supreme leader -- might be a candidate but the Islamic Coalition Party has not started considering candidates. Taraqi concluded that the party has not made a decision on Velayati or anybody else.

Another Islamic Coalition Party member, Hassan Ghafurifard, said in the 4 September "Sharq" that Velayati has decided to run for president. "As far as I know, he has decided to stand for the elections and he has even made the arrangements for his campaigning."

Urumiyeh parliamentary representative Abed Fatahi has mentioned Expediency Council secretary and former Islamic Revolution Guards Corps commander Mohsen Rezai as a possible candidate for president, the reformist "Aftab-i Yazd" reported on 9 September. "Channels and sources close to Mohsen Rezai are propounding the likelihood of his presence in the presidential election, which in some respects is a source of delight." Among Rezai's advantages over other possible candidates, Fatahi mentioned "his youth and the fact that he was a fighter and an expert in economic, political, and military affairs.""

Daily Times - REGION: Iran seeks Indian radar to protect nuke facilities

Daily Times - Site Edition: "REGION: Iran seeks Indian radar to protect nuke facilities

* Sources claim New Delhi under pressure from US not to sell radars

TEHRAN: Iran is negotiating with India to buy advanced radar system to help protect its nuclear weapons facilities. The Untied States is closely monitoring the potential deal.

Industry sources on Saturday said New Delhi has been considering an Iranian request for upgraded Western-origin radar systeMs

They said the systems are designed for fire control and surveillance of anti-aircraft batteries. Iran is seeking an unspecified number of Upgraded Support Fledermaus radar systems from the Indian state-owned Bharat Electronics Ltd, or BEL. The deal could reach $ 70 million and mark the first major defence agreement between New Delhi and Tehran since they signed a defence cooperation pact in 2002.

The government in New Delhi has been examining the Iranian request for about a year now. Tehran has relayed two separate requests for the upgraded radar systems Industry sources said New Delhi has been under pressure form the United States not to sell the radars to Iran.

The United States has determined that the request is part of Iran’s military effort to protect its nuclear weapons facilities. Iran already employs Soviet-origin anti-aircraft systems around the Bushehr nuclear reactor. It has already been a client of BEL in 2001, the Indian company sold Teheran components for sonar systems deployed by the Iranian navy. The 2002 defence cooperation pact between New Delhi and Teheran was meant to pave the way for Indian upgrades and maintenance of Iran’s navy. The Upgraded Super Fledermaus is monopulse radar used in 35-mm air defence batteries and designed to detect low-flying objects, such as unmanned air vehicles. The digital system contains a but-in simulator as well as a signal jammer. BEL has confirmed Iran’s request for the upgraded radar. Executives said Iran has sought the same fire control and surveillance radar that the company upgraded for the Indian Army in 2001. The Super Fledermaus was acquired in the early 1980s and produced by BEL under licence from the radar’s designer Ericsson Radar Electronics. "

The Sun News | 09/26/2004 | U.S. targets Iran's influence in Iraq

The Sun News | 09/26/2004 | U.S. targets Iran's influence in Iraq: "U.S. targets Iran's influence in Iraq

Steps weighed to counter political pull

By Robin Wright and Justin Blum
The Washington Post
WASHINGTON - The Bush administration is exploring several steps aimed at containing Tehran's growing influence in Iraq, according to U.S. officials, who say a split between the Pentagon and the State Department has paralyzed the administration's ability to craft a long-term policy on Iran for three years.

As one measure, the United States has earmarked $40 million to help Iraq's political parties mobilize - and, subtly, to counter Iran's support for its allies in an emerging race to influence the outcome, U.S. officials said.

With the election in Iraq four months away, the administration has grown increasingly alarmed about the resources Tehran is pouring into Iraq's well-organized Shiite religious parties, which give them an edge over struggling moderate and nonsectarian parties, the officials said.

In the past year, Iran has provided tens of millions of dollars and other material support to a range of Iraqi parties, including the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, the Islamic Dawa Party and rebel cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army, U.S. officials say. The U.S. funds will, in theory, be available to all Iraqi parties, although the U.S. goal is to bolster the prospects of secular groups, on the premise that Iranian-backed parties are unlikely to turn to America for training or money, U.S. officials said.

In another diplomatic move aimed partly at Iran, the United States has been promoting a plan for a conference that would bring the United States together with Iraq's neighbors, including Iran, plus representatives of the European Union, the Group of Eight industrialized nations, the Organization of the Islamic Conference, the Arab League and the Gulf Cooperation Council.

Secretary of State Colin Powell lobbied for the conference last week at the United Nations, knowing it would provide a setting in which he and Iran's foreign minister could participate, U.S. officials said. The meeting is tentatively planned for mid-November, after the end of the holy month of Ramadan, in Egypt.

"It's not an attempt to open a channel to Iran. It's a way to talk about how all Iraq's neighbors and special friends and others can help the Iraqi government, and that includes Iran," said a senior State Department official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of ongoing diplomacy. "It's about how to be responsible neighbors, and one of our concerns is that Iran is not being a responsible neighbor. It's a way of addressing one of the issues we have with Iran."

The two moves follow a decision by the administration's top foreign-policy team this summer to initiate steps to prevent Iran from gaining a major behind-the-scenes role in shaping the Iraqi government scheduled to be elected in January, U.S. officials said. But they also reflect U.S. recognition that attempts to keep Iran out of Iraq, given strong religious, geographic and ethnic ties dating back centuries, are likely to fail and could even backfire, U.S. officials said.

"The idea that you can prevent Iran from having influence or playing a role is totally misplaced, given connections between the clergy, geographic proximity, a long border, family connections, the large community of Shiites from Iran and all the mullahs who studied in the same schools under the same teachers," said Shaul Bakhash of George Mason University, an expert on Iran and author of "The Reign of the Ayatollahs: Iran and the Islamic Revolution.""

Iran: Parliament approves to vet Turkish deals

Iran: Parliament approves to vet Turkish deals: "Iran: Parliament approves to vet Turkish deals
Tehran, Sept 26, IRNA -- Iran's parliament approved a bill Sunday, giving itself the prerogatives to scrap two contracts with Turkish companies if they are deemed a threat to the country's national security.
The decision prompted the Government to postpone President Mohammad Khatami's planned visit to Turkey as long as the fate of a contract for airport construction and operation and a deal with a Turkish telecommunications company have not been decided.

"The Government decided that, given the Majlis decision today and the importance attached to ties with Turkey, the President's visit to that neighboring country is postponed until construction of more confidence in order to finalize the contracts," Government spokesman Abdollah Ramezanzadeh said.

The parliament passed Sunday a bill, requiring the government to secure parliament's approval for operation of an Iranian airport by a Turkish-led consortium and providing Iran with more mobile phones by Turk Cell company.

The decision followed parliament's approval of general outlines of a bill, giving the legislative body the power to vet all contracts signed with foreign companies.

The Majlis, however, approved for now the requirement to include Turkcell, which has won a contract to set up the first Iranian private mobile phone network, and TAV which has been awarded to construct and operate Imam Khomeini International Airport.

Parliament Speaker Gholamali Haddad Adel stated that the decision did not mean the scrapping of the two contracts.

He also dismissed contentions that the decision would shut the door to foreign investments or ostracize Iran and tie Iran's hands in foreign contracts.

The decision came as several officials announced an imminent breakthrough in the standoff which has dogged the two Turkish firms' operations in Iran.

Deputy Foreign Minister Mohsen Aminzadeh stressed last month that there was no problem with the deal between Iran's Transportation Ministry and Turkish-Austrian consortium Tepe-Akfen-Vie (TAV) to operate Imam Khomeini International Airport (IKIA) in southern Tehran.

Iran's armed forces closed down IKIA on May 8, citing security concerns, just after it was officially inaugurated with the landing of a foreign aircraft.

The forces have stressed that the airport will remain closed as long as 'security requirements' for carrying out flights from the facility are not met.

Aminzadeh said the speculation that 'security considerations' were impeding the project was wrong. He, however, did not say what the real problems were.

"Relevant officials have announced that this company (TAV) has no security problem and has observed all security considerations," he added.

Like TAV, Turkey's leading GSM operator Turkcell has failed to go ahead with a project to set up Iran's first private mobile phone network.

The company was expected to invest about three billion dollars in the project, making it one of the biggest foreign investments in Iran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

There were hopes of a breakthrough during Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's visit to Tehran in late July, but that did not come through.

Iranian officials have said that the IKIA will eventually be able to handle 40 million passengers a year, making Tehran a regional transport hub.

The initial operation, however, involves Phase 1 of the facility, which will have a capacity to transit six million passengers per year.

Transportation Minister Ahmad Khorram had said that the implementation of Phase 2 had also been ceded to TAV on a two-year contract.

President Mohammad Khatami inaugurated Terminal 1 on February 1-- the 25th anniversary of the founding of the Islamic Republic marked by the return of Imam Khomeini from exile."

Iran court upholds billionaire sentence for fraud

IranMania News: "Iran court upholds billionaire sentence for fraud

Sunday, September 26, 2004 - ©2004
LONDON, Sep 26 (IranMania) - An Iranian court has upheld a 27-year jail sentence on a billionaire businessman whose activities came to symbolise the rampant corruption sweeping the country, Iranian media said on Saturday, Agence France Press (AFP) reported.

Shahram Jazayeri had appealed against the prison term imposed on him in November 2002, along with 50 lashes and fines. The case prompted supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to order a judicial crackdown on corruption.

According to Jazayeri's lawyer, Mohammad-Sadegh Al-Mohammad, the supreme court annulled part of the verdict and sent the case back to the lower court which "has ignored the supreme court's annulment of the previous charge of sabotaging the country's exports mechanism, and confirmed the first judgment."

He said a new appeal would be made to the supreme court.

In November 2002, the court sentenced 49 people, including the sons of some prominent clerics, to jail, lashes and fines for "economic corruption", "disruption of the country's economic system", and bribery.

The group was charged with links to Jazayeri.

Jazayeri was accused of paying huge bribes to scores of reformist and conservative MPs and officials to try to secure inside information and legislation favourable to his import-export business empire.

Among those he named during his trial was the former speaker of the then reformist-dominated parliament, Mehdi Karubi, and Hadi Khamenei, brother of Iran's supreme leader,

He told the court he had give Hadi Khamenei 5.5 bln rials ($1 mln), although he denied it constituted bribes."

Iran blasts U.S. "lawless militarism" in Iraq

Description of Selected News: "Iran blasts U.S. "lawless militarism" in Iraq

UNITED NATIONS (Agencies) – Iran accused the United States on Friday of "lawless militarism" in Iraq and called Israel the biggest threat to peace in the Middle East, Reuters said.

"The attack against Iraq was illegal," Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi told the UN General Assembly, thanking UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan for publicly stating the same in a television interview last week. The invasion was an example of "increasing lawless militarism," involving "the use of brute and unsanctioned military force to achieve some political goals, albeit desirable goals," said Kharrazi, explaining that his country, which fought an eight-year war with its neighbor, had "benefited greatly by the removal of Saddam Hussein."

Kharrazi said Israel, which is widely believed to have nuclear weapons but does not acknowledge them, had systematically thwarted UN efforts to make the Middle East a nuclear-free zone.

"All countries of the region and beyond are unanimous in considering the Israeli arsenal, including its weapons of mass destruction, combined with its policy and record of aggression and state terrorism, as the single greatest threat to regional and global peace and security," he said.

"Israelis cannot hide these facts behind smoke screens. It is time for the international community to show its resolve to maintain the credibility of multilateral disarmament instruments by taking action to compel Israel to comply," he said.

Pursuit of racist policies aimed at beleaguering the Palestinian residential areas, forced immigration of Palestinians to places outside their homeland and the construction of the wall to terrorize the Palestinian people and deprive them from their basic needs are other such examples. "The exercise of the veto power in the UN Security Council has impeded international efforts to stop the Israeli crimes and kept this organization from performing its duty to address threats to international peace and security."

Kharrazi stressed that a durable peace in Palestine will be possible only if it is based on justice and guarantees and end to the occupation of the Palestinian lands, restoration of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, return of the Palestinian Diaspora to their homeland, participation of all in a democratic process and the establishment of a Palestinian state with Al-Qods Al-Sharif as its capital.

"We are of the view that the enlightened Palestinian people are capable of deciding independently about their political and social affairs and we respect their free decisions on the future of Palestine," the minister stated.

Kharrazi stressed the need for a global approach based on collective cooperation under the provisions of the UN Charter and principles of the international law to fight against terrorism as an international challenge, IRNA news agency reported. Kharrazi said, "We must rise above business as usual politics and avoid discrimination, double standards and selectivity in our approach to fighting this global menace."

"As a victim of terrorism, Iran strongly condemns terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and has demonstrated strong conviction in fighting terrorism by the arrest and handover of the greatest number of Al Qaeda members apprehended by any single state to date," he remarked.

"If we, in this august body, do not collectively defend the rule of law, we have helped to send the UN Charter to oblivion in the interest of domination and militarism," the minister said.

He welcomed the valuable efforts by the Afghan government in consolidation of peace, security and stability in the country, saying "Significant progress has been made in the areas of public administration, fiscal management and social developments ... The Afghan people are willing to take control of their lives and determine their own destiny. "Holding fair and free presidential and legislative elections and establishing a broad-based, representative and multi-ethnic government will be a vital step along the process of democratization and reconstruction in Afghanistan."

He said the paradigm of Dialogue among Civilizations, presented by President Mohammad Khatami and warmly received by the international community can promote mutual understanding and facilitate cooperation among states in the pursuit of peace, tolerance , freedom and prosperity. "In our view, the only option available to us is to foster closer international cooperation under internationally recognized rules and instruments in the light of dialogue, justice and democracy."

Kharrazi insisted on Iran's right of getting access to nuclear technology for peaceful aims.

Kharrazi also stressed the importance of taking action by the international community due to the existence and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

"As the only victim of the unbridled use of weapons of mass destruction in recent years, Iran feels very strongly about the absolute imperative of a collective and rule-based multilateral campaign to eradicate all these weapons and to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons as an interim measure.

"This must be done by the universal application of disarmament and non-proliferation instruments in a comprehensive and non-discriminatory manner," he said.

He urged addressing the legitimate disarmament and non-proliferation concerns of the international community through transparency and vigorous application of monitoring mechanisms.

"Iran has always been prepared to contribute activity to this global effort. While we insist on our right to use technology for peaceful purposes, we have and will leave no stone unturned in order to provide assurances of our peaceful intentions," he said.

Iran has been in the forefront of efforts to establish a zone free from weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East, the minister said, adding this initiative which has received the repeated approval of the General Assembly and the Security Council has been systematically obstructed by Israel's intransigence and its rejection of all multilateral instruments, regrettably with impunity.

Pointing to Iran's stance on Iraq, Kharrazi said, "Iran's view of the way we got here in Iraq is clear. The Iraqi dictator is gone and the Iraqi people are to begin to take control of their lives and destiny, however they continue to experience violence and insecurity nevertheless.

"We condemn all acts of violence and terrorism in Iraq. We stress the need for promoting security, preserving the unity, territorial integrity and political independence of Iraq, promoting democracy through drafting a new constitution, holding free and fair elections as scheduled and accelerating the reconstruction in Iraq as well as the speedy withdrawal of foreign forces from Iraq," the minister added.

The Iranian minister called the formation the Iraqi transitional government as a positive step towards the restoration of the Iraqi people's sovereignty and stressed the pivotal role of the United Nations and substantial responsibilities to discharge in the transitional period.

"In this connection, the compliance with the provisions of the relevant Security Council resolutions and the enhancement of the pivotal role of the UN and its Secretary-General and his special representative for Iraq is the best option and approach to restore peace and security in that country," Kharrazi mentioned.

Iran welcomes the position of the UN Secretary-General on the important role that Iraq's neighboring countries can play in the restoration of peace and stability in Iraq and its reconstruction, he noted.

He said based on an overall and realistic review of the current developments in international relations, the world today faces the formidable challenge of extremism in two distinct and yet interconnected faces: violence and terrorism of non-state actors and unbridled militarism of states.

"Insecurity is manifested in the horrendous acts of extreme violence and terrorism; whether it is in Iraq, Afghanistan or Russia.

"Lawlessness is manifested in going outside of the law among nations and the UN Charter, relying on the glorification of force and the brute use of the military might," he said.

Kharrazi stressed to be relentless against terrorism in a truly collective and all-inclusive manner and to muster the courage and national discipline to guard against militarism and remain within the confines of the law among nations.

"The increasing insecurity and the escalation of acts of violence and terrorism in different parts of the world are a matter of serious concerns of all of us," he noted."