Saturday, November 27, 2004

The Australian: Iran 'worked to moderate Sadr' [November 24, 2004]

The Australian: Iran 'worked to moderate Sadr' [November 24, 2004]: "Iran 'worked to moderate Sadr'
From correspondents in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt
November 24, 2004
IRAN worked to moderate the stance of an Iraqi Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, whose Mehdi Army militia launched two uprisings against US-led forces this year, Iran's foreign minister said today.

The US has accused Iran of destabilising Iraq through support for Sadr.

"We have tried to help him (Sadr) adopt more moderate approaches and to cooperate with Ayatollah Sistani," Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi told reporters in the Egyptian resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh.

Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani is Iraq's most revered Shiite leader. Shiites are the majority of Iraq's population and were long oppressed by Saddam Hussein, a Sunni.

European officials have said Iran has taken a more conciliatory attitude towards US aims in Iraq compared with eastern neighbour Syria.

Speaking after an two day international conference on Iraq, Mr Kharrazi also said Iran was ready to work with Iraqis to secure the two states' shared border for the benefit of both countries.

"Iran has been ready to establish a committee for border security with Iraqis to not only protect the border between Iraq and Iran from the Iranian side but also from the Iraqi side.

"There are terrorist organisations stationed in Iraq who try to infiltrate Iranian territory," he said.

Iran cut relations with Egypt after the Arab world's most populous country signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1979.

Mr Kharrazi said recent improvements in ties between the two countries had come to a halt.

"Some time ago that (relations with Egypt) was moving well but it has suddenly stopped. If they (Egypt) are interested in removing barriers and establishing full relations, Iran will certainly be ready to do that," he said without giving further details."

Engage Iran (washingtonpost.com)

Engage Iran (washingtonpost.com): "Engage Iran

By David Ignatius
Friday, November 26, 2004; Page A39

A visitor to Washington this Thanksgiving week might well feel caught in a time warp: The CIA is warning about a Middle Eastern country's efforts to acquire weapons of mass destruction; Europeans are pushing a plan for inspections and international monitoring; the Bush administration is talking tough; and neoconservative hawks are thumping for military action.

It is, as foreign policy expert Yogi Berra would put it, a case of "déjà vu all over again." But this time, the weapons of mass destruction menace is Iran. And the question for the Bush administration, struggling with a difficult and still-unfinished war of preemption against Iraq, is how to get it right the second time around.

The best advice I've heard for dealing with Iran comes from former CIA analyst David Kay. He's the man who finally uncovered the truth about Iraq's weapons program -- namely that, contrary to the expectations of nearly every intelligence service, it had been dismantled. Kay offered his analysis this week at a conference on Iran hosted by the Brookings Institution's Saban Center for Middle East Policy.

Kay argues that, after the Iraq weapons blunder, it's important to level with the world about the quality of our intelligence. He distinguishes carefully between "what we know," "what we think we know" and "what we don't know."

Somewhere between the first two categories is an American belief, shared by our key European allies, that Iran has been pursuing a covert program to develop nuclear weapons. As a CIA report issued this week put it, "The United States remains convinced that Tehran has been pursuing a clandestine nuclear weapons program, in contradiction to its obligations as a party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty."

So what should the international community do about Iran's nuclear ambitions? The debate has been polarized between the European good-cop approach of offering economic carrots to Iran if it will agree to slow its program and an American bad-cop stance that implicitly threatens Iran with military sticks. Kay argues that this is a false choice and that a wise policy should combine the two -- in ways that would serve the interests of both Iran and the West.

Kay contends that the Iranian nuclear issue is not, for the moment, an either/or question -- of carrots or sticks, of diplomacy or military action, of tolerating Iranian weapons or preempting them. A rational policy is somewhere in between those poles.

"Inspections by themselves are never a solution," Kay says. There will always be "inspection ambiguity," as there was in Iraq. And Kay thinks it would be a mistake to take the threat of military action off the table, as British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw seemed to do in a recent statement.

Kay argues that recent diplomatic efforts by Britain, France and Germany -- which won a pledge by Iran to temporarily stop enriching uranium -- should be seen as a "temporary bridge" for a serious negotiation that must include the United States. The European diplomacy is important, he says, not as an end in itself but because "it opens a window to start a strategic discussion with Iran about its future."

Kay notes that such dialogues have steered other nuclear-capable countries away from actually producing weapons, including Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Argentina, Brazil, Switzerland, Sweden and Belgium. Sometimes the key interlocutor has not been America but a third country; in the case of Japan, for example, a key role was played by China.

This dialogue might not permanently prevent Iran from producing weapons. The nuclear issue has become fused with Iranian nationalism to such an extent that a large majority of Iranians, young and old, moderate and hard-line, want their country to join the elite nuclear club. But if a combination of carrots and sticks can slow Iran's race to acquire a bomb, and check Iranian paranoia about the United States, that's of benefit in itself. "Delaying Iran is a success," stresses Kay. It gives time for Iran to mature and for the Iranian people to experience the economic benefits of cooperation with the West.

"We need to engage," argues Kay. Leaving diplomacy to the Europeans and military threats to the United States would repeat the Iraq mistake. In Iranian eyes, America is both the danger and the prize; the same could be said of American views about Iran. If ever there was an analogy to China in the years before Henry Kissinger's famous secret diplomacy, this is it.

The challenge for the Bush administration is to see if it can craft what Kay calls a "yes-able proposition" for Tehran. If that initiative fails, as it may well, there will be time to contemplate grimmer options.

davidignatius@washpost.com"

IranMania News

IranMania News: "Iran’s Agriculture Commission criticizes banks

Saturday, November 27, 2004 - ©2004 IranMania.com
LONDON, Nov 27 (IranMania) – The Agriculture Commission Head of Iran’s Parliament criticized the country’s banking system for not allocating enough facilities to the farmers, Iran’s Abrar Eqtesadi Daily reported.

“According to the Third Development Plan, Iranian banks were required to allocate 25% of their facilities to the agriculture sector, yet so far they have fulfilled none of their commitments. Iran’s banks prefer backing trade activities rather than agricultural ones.” Jassem Saedi said.

Referring to the establishment of the Agricultural Products Insurance Fund, the official added: “Unfortunately despite receiving governmental subsidies, the fund has not been able to cover all agricultural products.”"

IranMania News

IranMania News: "Iran`s Commerce Minister arrives in Kuwait

Saturday, November 27, 2004 - ©2004 IranMania.com
LONDON, Nov 27 (IranMania) - Iranian Commerce Minister Mohammad Shariatmadari arrived on Friday night to attend an Iran-Kuwait Joint Economic Commission session due to open today.

Shariatmadari is in Kuwait on the invitation of Nasser Sabah al-Ahmad, the special advisor of the Kuwait crown prince and Prime Minister, according to IRNA.

Shariatmadari is scheduled to meet and hold talks with his Kuwaiti counterpart, Abdallah al-Rahman al-Tawil, and special advisor Sabah al-Ahmad to try to find ways of bolstering economic cooperation particularly in the fields of transportation and banking.

Ways of promoting regional cooperation and commercial exchanges will be among other subjects the two sides will discuss. The visiting Iranian minister will preside over the Iranian panel during the first Iran-Kuwait Joint Economic Commission session.

Shariatmadari, during his stay, is accompanied by a high-ranking delegation comprising officials and businessmen from the Iranian private sector, several deputy commerce ministers, the president of the Iran Chamber of Commerce and director-general of Bank Saderat."

Iraqi official briefs Iran on ongoing insurgency, demands Tehran help curb infiltration

Boston.com / News / World / Iraqi official briefs Iran on ongoing insurgency, demands Tehran help curb infiltration: "Iraqi official briefs Iran on ongoing insurgency, demands Tehran help curb infiltration
By Ali Akbar Dareini, Associated Press, 11/27/2004 10:52

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) An Iraqi vice president briefed neighboring Iran on his country's ongoing insurgency Saturday, demanding the Tehran government's assistance in curbing the infiltration of terrorists into Iraq, his adviser said.

Vice President Ibrahim al-Jaafari met Iranian President Mohammad Khatami just days before Iran hosts interior ministers of Iraq's neighboring states, plus Egypt, for a regional conference.

''Al-Jaafari presented President Khatami with a detailed report about security problems in Iraq and briefed him on how insurgents, after the Fallujah fighting, were changing their tactics from a military phase into a political agenda to undermine the upcoming elections,'' Javad Taleb, an adviser to al-Jaafari, told The Associated Press.

Taleb quoted al-Jaafari as telling Khatami that Iraq wanted the Tehran conference of ministers to help stem the insurgency to allow for peaceful staging of the first post-Saddam democratic elections.

''Iraq needs the security help of its neighbors and it hopes neighbors, during the Tehran conference, give adequate promises to curb any infiltration through their borders into Iraq,'' Taleb quoted al-Jaafari as telling Khatami.

Washington has accused Tehran of interfering in Iraq and sending money and infiltrators to foment the insurgency there. Iran has criticized the U.S.-led campaign against insurgents.

Iran has denied the charges but said it did not rule out the possibility that some infiltrators might have crossed its border illegally.

A spokesman for Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi has downplayed the likelihood of delaying the Jan. 30 elections, despite calls by Sunni Muslim politicians and a number of political parties to postpone the vote because of security concerns.

Khatami, according to state-run radio, also believes the Iraqi elections should be held on time.

The two-day meeting of interior ministers from Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Kuwait, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Syria begins Tuesday.

The ministers are expected to be accompanied by senior security officials, who can share intelligence on militants and other people suspected of being linked to the insurgency in Iraq.

''It is hoped that the Tehran meeting will produce practical results in halting terrorist infiltrations into Iraq, and also assist in locating terrorist groups operating from within other countries in the region, potentially freezing their funding,'' said a Friday statement from the Iraqi Interior Ministry.

Analysts say Iran hopes its hosting of the meeting will send a signal, particularly to the United States, that it recognizes the threat al-Qaida poses both to Iraq and to itself.

Osama bin Laden's terror network is believed to have strong ties to the major Iraqi insurgency group led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The United States has placed a $25 million bounty on both bin Laden and al-Zarqawi."

Iran wants quick Iraq elections - (United Press International)

Iran wants quick Iraq elections - (United Press International): "Iran wants quick Iraq elections

Tehran, Iran, Nov. 27 (UPI) -- Iran's President Mohammad Khatami said Saturday that holding Iraqi elections quickly and forming a democratic government would restore stability and security.

He said during a meeting with Iraqi Vice President Ibrahim al-Jaafari in the Iranian capital, Tehran, that all Iraqi sects and political parties should participate in the Iraqi general elections due on Jan. 30.

According to an official statement following the meeting, Khatami called on regional countries to cooperate with the elected Iraqi government "in order to eliminate the elements of chaos."

He said the new government should be formed from "within the Iraqi people," and insisted that Iran "feels more responsible than any other country in achieving security and calm in Iraq.""