Monday, January 03, 2005

Boston.com / US destabilizes Middle East by Giving Iraq to Iran - Jordan is Scared

Boston.com / News / World / Iran says meeting of Iraq's neighbors not necessary, apparently responding to Jordan accusation of interference: "Iran says meeting of Iraq's neighbors not necessary, apparently responding to Jordan accusation of interference
By Jamal Halaby, Associated Press, 1/3/2005 13:53

AMMAN, Jordan (AP) There is no reason for Iraq's neighbors to meet in Amman later this week, Iran's ambassador to Jordan said Monday, underscoring the strain in relations after Jordan's King Abdullah II accused Tehran of seeking to influence the upcoming Iraqi elections.

A day earlier, Tehran said Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi would not attend Thursday's meeting. Iran will be represented by one of its deputy foreign ministers, Golam Ali Khorsho, Jordanian Foreign Ministry spokesman Raja Sukayri told the official Jordanian news agency Pert on Monday.

Jordan has invited the foreign ministers of Iraq's other neighbors Iran, Turkey, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Syria and representatives from Iraq, Egypt and Bahrain to the meeting.

The U.N. special representative for Iraq, Ashraf Qazi, also will attend, Sukayri told Petra.

''We don't believe there's a need for such a meeting now, at least not before the elections'' in Iraq, scheduled for Jan. 30, Iranian Ambassador Mohammad Irani said.

''What are we going to talk about? We discussed everything we needed to discuss in the November meeting,'' Irani added, referring to a ministerial meeting in Egypt.

Most of the Arab countries in the region have Sunni Muslim majority populations and are unsettled by the prospect of a Shiite Muslim-dominated government emerging from Iraq's Jan. 30 elections. Iraq's Shiite majority had been suppressed under Saddam Hussein.

Arabs in the region fear a Shiite regime in Iraq could both embolden their own Shiite communities and prompt Iraq to move closer to mainly Shiite Iran or adopt Iran's Islamic state.

Jordan's monarch said in an interview last month that more than 1 million Iranians have entered Iraq, many to vote in elections, and they were being encouraged by the Iranian government.

Iran called Abdullah's comments an insult to the Iraqi people."

Asia Times - Mud Slinging Begins, Enemies of Iran Distort Rafsanjani Record!

Asia Times - Asia's most trusted news source for the Middle East: " Middle East

This distortion of the facts is an attempt to cloud Rafsanjani's record with distortions and untruths. JBOC

Iran's presidential dark horse
By Safa Haeri

PARIS - With the next Iranian presidential elections fixed for June 17, and the world watching with growing interest, the election campaign kicked off on November 17 last year when several conservative potential candidates presented a summary of their programs to a selected number of journalists - but not including the official news agency IRNA.

Of the five candidates presented officially, three are former high-ranking officers of the mullahs' Praetorian Guards - Mohsen Rezai, the former commander-in-chief of the Army of the Guards of the Islamic Revolution, or the Revolutionary Guards, who is the secretary of the Expediency Council; Ali Larijani, former head of the conservative-controlled Voice and Visage (Radio and Television), now the supreme leader's personal representative at the Supreme Council on National Security; and Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nezhad, the mayor of Tehran, who did not attend the meeting.

The two other contenders are Dr Ali Akbar Velayati, a former foreign affairs minister, and Ahmad Tavakkoli, a former labor minister who is a member of the present conservative-controlled majlis (parliament).

Introducing the candidates, the coordinator of the Islamic Revolution Forces, known as the Osoulgerayan or the Fundamentalists, Ali Akbar Nateq Nouri, a former Speaker who was badly defeated by Mohammad Khatami in the May 1997 presidential elections, said that in the view of the Fundamentalists, the popularity of a candidate is more important than his competency. "Whoever is adhering to Islam, Revolution, Emam [grand ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini] and the leader [Ayatollah Ali Khamenei] can be considered as a member of the Fundamentalists, who consider a good but popular candidate as better than the best but unpopular."

According to many political observers, the man who is most opposed to Hashemi Rafsanjani's candidacy is one of his former longtime friends and comrades in arms, but now his most implacable and powerful enemy, Khamenei, the leader of the Islamic Republic.

The two men have in fact a bitter memory of each another when, after the death of Khomeini, the leader of the Islamic Revolution and the founding father of the Islamic Republic, in August 1989, Khamenei, then a diminutive and powerless president, was picked by the Assembly of Experts as the leader of the regime and Rafsanjani, the powerful Speaker and the regime's virtual No 2 after the grand ayatollah, became president.

The reason the experts, maneuvered behind doors by Rafsanjani, chose Khamenei as leader was his low profile, his detachment from power games and his background as an intellectual preferring poetry to politics.

However, it took only a few months for the new couple to run into deep trouble, as on the one hand Khamenei, who was also elevated overnight to the rank of ayatollah, would, under pressure from his entourage, try to assert and consolidate his role and position as the leader, while on the other hand the new president, also a junior cleric, would try to run the country independently, as he had done since the victory of the Islamic Revolution in 1979, with the blessing of Khomeini.

The result of this bitter fight was a total paralysis of the regime, as Khamenei, in order to show to both the Iranians and the international community that he was the boss - and not Rafsanjani - would systematically block all major initiatives taken by the president at the domestic and international levels, including a certain liberalization of the economy, by giving more incentive to the private sector, or timid efforts to improve relations with the United States.

To prevent Rafsanjani, who is in his 70s, from entering the latest presidential race, the majlis sought to pass a bill limiting the age of potential candidates to 60, but it then dropped the initiative as it was too obvious who the law was aimed at.

Although Nateq-Nouri announced that none of the candidates of the Fundamentalist faction would be allowed to invite Rafsanjani to take part in the race, thus touching on the election's most sensitive nerve, many political observers point out that the issue of his participation sharply divides the ruling conservatives, as well as the now almost defunct reformers.

"Few contenders, whether conservative or reformers, would dare to stand against a heavyweight such as Hashemi Rafsanjani," noted Amir Mohebbian, the editor and senior commentator of the Resalat newspaper, a pro-conservative daily close to the bazaar oligarchy.

In fact, while several groups from the hardliners, like the Fundamentalists, have openly sided against the former president, others, tagged as "moderates", "neo-conservatives" or "pragmatists", are insisting on his participation.

While some leading candidates, such as Velayati and Larijani, have hinted that they would be eclipsed if Rafsanjani decided to enter the election, others, including Rezai, have said they would fight to the end, regardless of whom they might face.

"It is quite possible that the more critical Iran's international situation grows in the coming months, the more moderate Iran's next president is likely to be ... for instance, despite extensive opposition to Rafsanjani's candidature, he might, in the final weeks before the election, be found the appropriate person for the job," commented Amir Nourbakhsh, a director of the firm Atieh Bahar Consulting of Tehran.

This is also the view of other analysts, who speculate that the maverick chairman of the Expediency Council, Rezai, considered as a "master manipulator", could well be behind the support Khamenei provided to the Iranian diplomats who in Vienna negotiated the resolution of the international nuclear watchdog allowing Iran to escape possible economic sanctions from the United Nations Security Council, as pressed and demanded by Washington, this in connection with Iran's nuclear program, which Washington believes is being used to develop nuclear weapons.

"Without the explicit backing of the leader and sincere understanding and goodwill from our European partners, namely Britain, France and Germany, we would hit the wall," a senior Iranian negotiator on Iran's nuclear-program issue told Asia Times Online on condition of anonymity, adding that both Rafsanjani and Rohani, who is also the supervisor of the nuclear question, played a "major role" in persuading Khamenei to give his green light to the diplomats to negotiate the deal in terms of which Iran suspended its uranium-enrichment program.

"If Iran's next president is elected from among forces politically close to the mindset of those who negotiated the recent agreement on Iran's nuclear program, it would be possible to expect a moderate conservative administration that would gradually move towards detente with the West," Nourbakhsh pointed out, naming Rohani as one of the men who symbolizes with this faction.

So unpopular is Rafsanjani that in the 2000 legislative elections he did not get enough votes to enter the majlis as a candidate from Tehran.

However, like a cat that always lands on its feet, Rafsanjani has repositioned himself as a possible "savior" of both the Islamic Republic and the Iranian nation, and while rejected by some hardline factions, he is sought by tens of other political groups and formations, such as the Servants of Building Iran, the Moderation and Development Party, the Association of Islamic Revolution's Youth, the Islamic Labor Party, the Association of Iranian Experts, to name a few united under the generic coalition of "For a Brighter Tomorrow".

While there is a profusion of runners in the ruling conservative camp - to the point of becoming both a headache and a major problem for the conservatives - the so-called reformers, badly defeated in the last legislative race and rejected by the population, mostly the youngsters and the women who make up more than 70% of the population, are in desperate search for candidates.

After Mir Hoseyne Moussavi, Iran's wartime popular prime minister and the reformers' first hope as a candidate for the presidency, decided not to accept the offer, the movement turned to Mehdi Karroubi, the Speaker of the sixth majlis, and Mostafa Moin, the higher education minister, as second choices.

Some moderate reformists, aware of their past mistake of when in power taking a pleasure in arrogantly humiliating Rafsanjani, are now embracing the idea of throwing their support behind the former president in the futile hope that, due to his pragmatic attitude, he might, in the event he is elected, form a coalition cabinet that takes on board some heavyweight reformists.

However, the problem of Rafsanjani's possible candidacy has badly divided the conservatives. "The traditionalists' camp of the conservatives that constitutes their historic backbone would certainly go for Hashemi Rafsanjani, while others would decide for candidates preferred by the leader," predicted Ali Shakkouri Rad, a reformist lawmaker in the last majlis.

But as Moin has very little chance of drawing a substantial number of votes, even if he is ratified by the Council of Guardians, the leader-controlled body in charge of vetting all candidates, Karroubi seems the best choice for the reformists.

In this case, the likelihood is to see a fight between Rafsanjani and Karroubi, with both men having equal chances, unless a third cleric, namely Rohani, enters the arena. To some pundits, Rohani, who is 55, could be be a better and more popular president than Rafsanjani.

Unlike the former president, who trails a background of corruption, nepotism, opportunism and crackdown on dissidents, Rohani is known for his integrity, has a clean record, has served in high positions, although not as high-profile as those occupied by Rafsanjani, and last but not least, he has a sound religious and Western education, having a masters degree from Glasgow University.

"If the Iranian state were to seek to appoint its next president based on national interests, criteria to preserve the regime and the president's skill to reconcile political factions, it would certainly fail to do so, at least under the current circumstances. The reason is simple: Iran's national interests are contrary to incentives to preserve the regime of the Islamic Republic," pointed out Nourbakhsh, explaining that seen from experience, "it is almost impossible for the Iranian state today to find a presidential candidate who could produce a high turnout [source of domestic legitimacy], be able to gain the trust of the international community [external legitimacy] and capable of accommodating the interests of major political groups [national reconciliation]".

Safa Haeri is a Paris-based Iranian journalist covering the Middle East and Central Asia."

Iran VP due in Uzbekistan Tuesday - Persian Journal Latest Iran news & Iranian Article News paper

Iran VP due in Uzbekistan Tuesday - Persian Journal Latest Iran news & Iranian Article News paper: "Iran VP due in Uzbekistan Tuesday

First Vice President Mohammad Reza Aref, heading a 60-member political and economic delegation, will pay a three-day official visit to Uzbekistan beginning on Tuesday.

Iran's Ambassador to Uzbekistan Mohammad Fat'hali said here Monday, this would be the first visit by a high-ranking Iranian delegation to Uzbekistan since the country's independence.

He said Aref and his accompanying delegation will hold talks with the Uzbek President, Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, Foreign Minister and Head of the institute for foreign relations.

They will also visit the cities of Samarkand and Bukhara.

The Iranian Ambassador added that Tehran and Tashkent will sign several memoranda of understanding on preferential tariffs, acceptance of the standards of each other, transportation, library and petrochemistry.

Fat'hali noted that the caretaker of Roads and Transportation Ministry, Commerce Minister, Deputy Foreign Minister, Managing Director of the National Iranian Petrochemistry Company and Iran's special envoy for the Caspian Sea affairs Mehdi Safari will ac company the first Vice-President in his Tashkent visit.
Aref will leave Bukhara for Tehran on Thursday."

Iran to launch satellite soon Iran to launch satellite soon

Iran to launch satellite soon: "Iran to launch satellite soon
TEHRAN, Jan. 3 (MNA) -- Iran will launch a satellite in the near future, the acting chairman of the Geographical Organization of the Defense Ministry, Bahman Zomorodian, announced on Monday.
Zomorodian said guarding Iran’s borders is part of the mandate of the Geographical Organization.

He also stated that the short-lived decision by the National Geographic Society to invent a fictitious name for the Persian Gulf was a pre-planned move, but the historical documents of Europe and the United States prove that the move was unjustified.

In the light of the illogical moves by certain countries, the organization has opened a fair to display historical documents showing that the name Persian Gulf has been used for over 2000 years."

Iran ready to bolster trade cooperation with Afghanistan

Iran ready to bolster trade cooperation with Afghanistan: "1/3/05
Iran ready to bolster trade cooperation with Afghanistan
Kabul, Jan 3, IRNA -- Iran's ambassador to Kabul here on Sunday announced his country's readiness to boost all kinds of economic and trade cooperation with Afghanistan.
Mohammad Reza Bahrami made the remarks during a meeting with Afghan Minister of Finance Anwar ul-Haq Ahady.

Iran kicked off its cooperation on reconstruction of Afghanistan following the transitional government's establishment, Bahrami said.

Based on a 5-year commitment, Iran is due to donate 50 million dollars annually to the war-torn country, the Iranian envoy said. He added that the total donation will reach 250 million dollars by 2006.

The official said that Iran was implementing 16 development projects in Afghanistan including the construction of Herat-Dogharoun road, implementation of a project to provide Herat's water and electricity and construction of a technical and vocational center in Herat.

A total of 5 million dollars has been invested for implementation of the aforesaid projects, Bahrami said.

He Touched upon the eagerness of Iranian businessmen for further investments in Afghanistan, saying the establishment of the 'Ariyan Bank' --the first Iranian bank opened on December 26 in Kabul-- would pave the way for expanding bilateral cooperation.

The Afghan minister, for his part, praised the efforts made by Iranian officials to reconstruct Afghanistan, saying that Iran was a close ally of his country.

He also called on Iran to draw up a plan for providing Kabul's electricity."

HUMAN EVENTS ONLINE :: Conservatives Should Make Time to Read Michael Crichton's State of Fear by Myron Ebell

HUMAN EVENTS ONLINE :: Conservatives Should Make Time to Read Michael Crichton's State of Fear by Myron Ebell: "Conservatives Should Make Time to Read Michael Crichton's State of Fear
by Myron Ebell
Posted Dec 29, 2004

This year's most politically incorrect book--and also the one likely to have the biggest impact on public opinion--is not by HUMAN EVENTS' Ann Coulter. Nor, surprisingly, is it by any other prominent conservative writer or talker. It's Michael Crichton's new novel, State of Fear.

When I first thumbed through my copy, I was worried that this time Crichton had gone too far in weighing down his plot with complex scientific information. That the characters spent too much time in long didactic discourses.

Happily, this first impression was wrong. Crichton works his usual magic, deftly weaving loads of technical detail, including footnotes, graphs, and charts, into a fast-paced adventure. His tens of millions of devoted readers will not be disappointed. State of Fear is a page turner.

But this review is not aimed at Crichton's fans, but at conservatives who don't usually read sex-and-violence-packed techno-thrillers. My advice to fellow conservatives is: make an exception. Read State of Fear.

What makes State of Fear thoroughly objectionable to liberal establishment orthodoxy is that Crichton has cast as his villains leaders of the modern environmental movement. And to top that, the scam that environmentalists are trying to peddle is global warming alarmism.

Environmentalists who have spent thirty years convincing the public that their motives are pure are going to be outraged. They will complain that the portrayal of Nicholas Drake, president of the National Environmental Resource Fund, is a reprehensible caricature of real environmentalists. True, but it does make a change from the genre's usual assortment of slimy corporate bad guys and their crude right-wing politician stooges who have no regrets about destroying the planet if only they can make a buck out of it.

Crichton doesn't hint that environmental leaders are in it for the money and the power. He hits us over the head with it. In one hilarious passage, Drake is caught on a surveillance tape explaining to his PR chief what's wrong with global warming:
"I hate global warming," Drake said, almost shouting. "...It's a (expletive deleted) disaster."

"It's been established," Henley said calmly. "Over many years. It's what we have to work with."

"To work with? But it doesn't work," Drake said. "That's my point. You can't raise a dime with it, especially in winter. Every time it snows people forget all about global warming.... They're trudging through the snow, hoping for a little global warming. It's not like pollution, John. Pollution worked. It still works. Pollution scares the (expletive deleted) out of people. You tell 'em they'll get cancer, and the money rolls in." (page 295)
Against a background of exotic settings, beautiful women, and non-stop danger, his naïve young hero, Peter Evans, is sucked into stopping a global conspiracy that threatens millions of lives. He is also slowly introduced to the facts about global warming (and a number of other environmental issues). What Peter learns is that what everything he knows is true about global warming -- because that's all he's ever heard from the major media -- is false.

Crichton asks the right questions, gets the scientific facts correct, and shows that the facts don't support alarmism.

And for those who still have doubts or simply want more information, he attaches a lengthy bibliography, a statement of what he has come to believe about global warming and what's wrong with the environmental movement, and an essay on "Why politicized science is dangerous."

So hats off to Michael Crichton. He has written an entertaining book, which is normally praise enough for any novelist. But he deserves much more praise than that. For someone whose continuing success depends on media approval, speaking truth to power takes courage.

State of Fear is the perfect gift for liberal relatives and friends who do believe everything they read in the major media about global warming. Even if they're not totally convinced, it will at least raise some doubts. And if they are offended, you can reply that the dust jacket gives no hint that it's an attack on one of the sacred cows of modern liberalism.
Mr. Ebell is director of global warming policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute."

Iran "Gholam Shire'i" questioned secularism in France - Persian Journal Latest Iran news & Iranian Article News paper

Iran "Gholam Shire'i" questioned secularism in France - Persian Journal Latest Iran news & Iranian Article News paper: "Iran "Gholam Shire'i" questioned secularism in France
Dec 29, 2004, 12:39

Iran majlis speaker Gholam Adel known as "Gholam Shire'i" in majlis Wednesday denounced the expulsion of a Muslim student from a French school for wearing a veil. Gholam Shire'i urged European countries "to confront such unfair French measures," the Iranian News Agency reported.

"The French decision to ban the Muslim veil in public schools is a blunt violation of human rights and aimed at confronting a religious minority in that country," Gholam Shire'i told mullah-run majlis.

He said Muslim women "know very well that wearing the veil does not curb their political and social activities."

France earlier this year passed a controversial law banning the provocative display of religious symbols in public schools, including Muslim veils, Jewish skullcaps and oversized crosses."