Saturday, November 13, 2004

Arafat Causes Political Storm in Kuwait, Iran

Arafat Causes Political Storm in Kuwait, Iran: "Arafat Causes Political Storm in Kuwait, Iran
Arab News

JEDDAH, 13 November 2004 — Although dead and buried, Yasser Arafat has caused a political storm in Kuwait and Iran where some politicians have challenged the common Arab and Islamic view of him as something of a hero.

In Kuwait several members of the National Assembly (parliament) have called for the Minister of Information Muhammad Abol-Hassan to be impeached because of the way the state-owned Kuwaiti television has covered Arafat’s sickness and death.

The state-owned television pronounced Arafat dead two days before he actually passed away. But that is not what the parliamentarians object to. They are especially angry at a 20-minute reportage the television broadcast on Arafat’s life. In it, the late Palestinian leader was described as a combatant for Palestinian and Arab causes and paid glowing tribute.

“Arafat was a traitor to the Palestinian and the Arab peoples in general,” says Parliament member Muhammad Barrak-Matir. “It is a shame that our national television should describe the traitor as a hero and a combatant.” Another member of Parliament Muhammad Al-Khalifa has called on the government to issue an apology to the Kuwaiti people for “the unwarranted praise” bestowed on Arafat.

“Arafat was a man who sided with the criminal Saddam Hussein in his invasion and annexation of Kuwait in 1990,” Al-Khalifa said. “The Kuwaiti people will never forget Arafat’s treachery.” Ahmad Al-Bassiri, another parliamentarian, says the program that paid tribute to Arafat must be seen as a deliberate insult to our national heroes and martyrs who gave their life fighting the Iraqi invasion.

“How can we forget how Arafat betrayed the Arab nation by siding with Saddam Hussein in raping and plundering our country?” he asks. Kuwait was the only Arab state not to send a special delegation to attend Arafat’s funeral in Cairo yesterday.

Kuwaiti newspapers have been publishing file photos showing Arafat alongside with the deposed Iraqi despot Saddam Hussein.

A spokesman for the Kuwaiti television said the reportage on Arafat had been part of a package purchased from a European television group and did not reflect the editorial views of the Kuwaiti channel.

“The program was translated and ran in a hurry,” a spokesman said. “The assertion in the program that Arafat was a hero and a combatant does not reflect our views.”

Arafat has also got the Iranian government in trouble.

In a letter to Gholam Haddad Adel, the speaker of the Islamic Assembly (parliament), a group of 17 parliamentarians has protested against the decision to send Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi to attend Arafat’s funeral in Cairo.

The signatories claim that Arafat was an enemy of Islam and the Iranian people and an Israeli puppet.

“Arafat supported the diabolic Saddam Hussein in his invasion of Iran in 1980,” the signatories assert. “He was an enemy of our revolution and of Islam. He was also a traitor to his own people. By signing the Oslo Accords with the Zionists, Arafat dealt a deadly blow to the Palestinian cause.”

Kuwaiti and Iranian newspapers are almost alone in the Muslim world to denounce Arafat as a “corrupt, despotic and treacherous leader interested only in money and power.”

There is much irony in all this. Kuwait was the first state to support Arafat. Arafat set up his guerrilla group Al-Fatah (victory) in 1966 with a $50,000 check from the emir of Kuwait. Kuwait was also the first country to send its army officers to Jordan and Lebanon to train Al-Fatah guerrillas recruited in refugee camps. Between 1966 and 1990 Kuwait was the single biggest contributor to Arafat’s coffers, coughing out an estimated $3 billion over the period. Kuwait also allowed Arafat and other Palestinian leaders to set up businesses in its territory, enabling some of them to make immense personal fortunes.

Arafat’s story with Iran is also interesting. He first paid a secret visit to Tehran in 1975 where he received a $400,000 check as a sign of good will from the shah. According to Rahim Tahmasbi, a former Iranian security officer who handled relations with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), Arafat received a total of $3.2 million over four years.

In 1978, however, Arafat sided with the revolutionary mullas fighting against the shah. When the mullas won, Arafat was the first foreign figure to be invited to visit Tehran by Ayatollah Khomeini just days after the victory of the revolution. One of Tehran’s largest squares was named Palestine Square and the new regime transferred the compound housing the Israeli legation in Tehran to Arafat who instantly re-baptized it as Embassy of he Palestine Liberation Organization.

Arafat appointed one of Al-Fatah’s original founders Hani Al-Hassan as ambassador to the Islamic Republic in Tehran.

But in the 1980s Arafat supported Saddam’s invasion of Iran and called on the Arabs to mobilize against “the perfidious Persians”. The PLO embassy was shut within days and its ambassador expelled. Arafat became persona non grata in Iran until the end of his life."

The Telegraph - Calcutta : Indian Oil scouts for Iran ally

The Telegraph - Calcutta : Business: "Indian Oil scouts for Iran ally

Step on the gas
New Delhi, Nov. 13: Indian Oil Corporation has been told by the petroleum ministry to rope in either Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) or Oil India Ltd (OIL) as a partner for the Iran gas field venture as the downstream company does not have any expertise on exploration and production, petroleum secretary S.C. Tripathi told The Telegraph.

If ONGC is not interested in the joint venture, Indian Oil will take OIL as a partner.

Similarly, IOC has also been asked to forge an alliance with a foreign company that has gas liquefaction technology. This is essential as the oil major does not have this technology and the gas has to be first converted into liquid form in Iran before it is imported on board cryogenic ships.

For instance, the Indian consortium comprising Petronet LNG has a tie-up with Ras Gas for liquefied natural gas (LNG) that it has started importing at Dahej in Gujarat.

Indian Oil has signed a memorandum of understanding with Petropars, a subsidiary of National Iranian Oil Company, for a 40 per cent stake in the gigantic South Pars block and the deal will become official once it is ratified by the governments of the two countries.

A delegation of senior government officials and executives of IOC and ONGC are expected to visit Iran soon to discuss further on the matter as plenty of tough bargaining needs to be done.

Iranian law does not permit equity oil by foreign firms. Instead they are given a fixed return on their investments with which they can buy the oil or gas that is produced. It remains to be seen how the price of the gas is settled as earlier negotiations with Iran had broken down on the pricing issue.

The government wants to tread cautiously on such a huge project in which the total investment of all the companies involved could go up to $3 billion.

Indian Oil and its partners will now be carrying out a detailed feasibility report on the project before the financial figures can actually be firmed up. This is a long-term project and the gas is expected to start flowing at least four years down the line.

The Indian oil major expects to get the marketing rights for 9 million tonnes of LNG in the first phase of developing the gas block.

Iran is desperately seeking a market in energy-hungry India for its abundant supplies of natural gas. It is keen on supplying the gas through an onland pipeline via Pakistani territory.

However, India for the moment wants to confine itself to purchases of LNG which can be brought in special ships. Although this is a more expensive way of importing the gas it is considered safer and more reliable than having a pipeline running through hostile territory."

Daily Times - US may use Iraq meet to engage Iran

Daily Times - Site Edition: "US may use Iraq meet to engage Iran

WASHINGTON: Secretary of State Colin Powell may use a conference on Iraq later this month as an opportunity to engage directly with Iran, officials said on Friday, despite a looming nuclear crisis.

While insisting “nothing at this moment is planned,” one senior official told Reuters “there may be opportunities” for Powell to speak about US concerns “more directly” than just in the conference’s general meeting, set for Sharm el-Sheik, Egypt’s Red sea resort, on Nov. 22 and 23.

Another official also suggested a US-Iran contact was possible. “Stay tuned. The secretary will be there and Iran will be there,” he said, declining to be more specific.

The United States has not had formal diplomatic relations with the Islamic republic since the 1980 hostage crisis and only intermittent contacts since then, despite Tehran’s growing ability to thwart some of President George W. Bush’s major objectives, like stability in Iraq.

Bush has been under pressure from many in the US foreign policy establishment to begin a dialogue with Tehran but his administration has been divided over whether and to what degree the United States might reach out. US officials said that debate continued and they indicated any gesture by Powell would be modest.

The administration has refused to participate in European negotiations that aim to persuade Tehran to abandon a nuclear program that Washington insists is aimed at producing weapons.

Iraq’s neighbors, the United Nations, the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the Group of Eight leading industrialized countries are expected at this month’s conference. reuters"

IAEA applying double standards toward Iran’s nuclear dossier: diplomat

Description of Selected News: "IAEA applying double standards toward Iran’s nuclear dossier: diplomat

TEHRAN (MNA) – A Vienna-based Asian diplomat said the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report on South Korea’s nuclear activities shows that double standards are being applied toward Iran’s nuclear program.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the diplomat, whose country is a Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) member currently on the IAEA Board of Governors, told the Mehr News Agency that NAM will definitely respond to this discrimination.

South Korea’s activities have exceeded what the IAEA report has described as a failure and in fact it has breached its commitments, but Iran has been cooperating with the UN nuclear watchdog, he noted.

The agency has casually ignored the breaches by South Korea but has cited undocumented “ambiguities” about Iran’s nuclear dossier, he added."