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Posts Tagged ‘iran’

U.S. keeps India waiting on Iran sanctions waiver

Posted by Admin on May 7, 2012

http://in.news.yahoo.com/clinton-hopes-india-even-more-cut-iran-oil-051703966–finance.html

By Andrew Quinn | Reuters – 2 hours 48 minutes ago

KOLKATA (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton leaned harder on India on Monday to deepen cuts of Iranian oil imports, saying Washington may not make a decision on whether to exempt New Delhi from financial sanctions for another two months.

Clinton, on a three-day visit to India, said the United States was encouraged by the steps its ally had taken so far to reduce its reliance on Iranian oil but that “even more” action was needed.

The oil issue has become an irritant in ties between India and the United States. India is unwilling to be seen to be bowing to U.S. pressure and is reluctant to become too reliant on Saudi Arabia for its oil needs, which officials say privately would be strategically unwise.

The sanctions threaten to shut out Iranian oil importers from the U.S. financial system unless they make significant and continuing cuts to their crude purchases by an end-June deadline.

India is Iran‘s second-biggest crude customer, so it is crucial to the U.S. strategy of choking off the Iranian economy to force Tehran’s leaders to curb their nuclear programme.

(For slideshow: Hillary Clinton in India, click http://reut.rs/IQVrji)

“We do not believe Iran will peacefully resolve this unless the pressure continues. We need India to be part of the international effort,” Clinton told a townhall-style meeting in Kolkata.

Publicly, India has rejected Western sanctions but privately it has pushed local refiners to start cutting imports. India’s refiners signed new yearly contracts with Iran running from April 1 and Reuters calculations suggest imports could plunge about 25 percent in 2012/2013.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said in April that India had already substantially cut Iranian oil imports. But Clinton’s comments on Monday suggested that Washington expected more action before it would grant the sanctions waiver.

The United States in March granted exemptions to Japan and 10 European Union nations. India and China, Iran’s biggest crude importer, remain at risk.

Clinton held up Japan as an example, saying it had cut imports despite having suffered a devastating earthquake and tsunami that crippled its Fukushima nuclear reactor. Japan’s cuts of between 15 and 22 percent were enough to get a waiver.

Washington has not stated specifically what cuts it expects from each country, only that they must be substantial.

“We think India, as a country that understands the importance of trying to use diplomacy to try to resolve these difficult threats, is certainly working toward lowering their purchase of Iranian oil,” Clinton said.

“We commend the steps that they have taken thus far. We hope they will do even more,” said Clinton, who was due to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Delhi later on Monday.

ADEQUATE MARKET SUPPLY

Clinton noted that Saudi Arabia, Iraq and other oil-producing nations were supplying more crude to the markets to offset any loss of supply from Iran.

“If there were not the ability for India to go into the market and meet its needs we would understand that. But we believe there is adequate supply and that there are ways for India to continue to meet their energy requirements,” she said.

She added that the United States would make a decision on whether to exempt India from the U.S. sanctions on Iran in “about two months from now”.

An Indian official privy to the Indian talks with Iran and the United States had earlier expressed hope that Clinton might announce a waiver during her visit. The official said the government had done enough to secure the exemption.

A senior U.S. official said on Sunday that Carlos Pascual, the U.S. special envoy who has been negotiating with Iranian oil importers to cut their imports, would visit India in mid-May to discuss the issue.

Clinton said at the town-hall event that Iran posed a grave threat to the region and that Indians should not view it as a “far-off threat”. Iran had dispatched “terrorist agents” to target Israelis and others in India, she said.

Clinton’s trip coincides with a visit by a large Iranian trade delegation, which is in Delhi to discuss how the two countries can trade via a rupee mechanism set up to skirt sanctions. U.S. officials played down the importance of the Iranian visit.

Trade disputes and frequent U.S. complaints that it is difficult for American companies to do business in India have also strained ties. Ambiguously worded Indian proposals to crack down on tax evasion and tax indirect investments have also alarmed Washington and sown confusion among foreign investors.

Finance Minister Mukherjee announced in parliament on Monday that he would delay by one year, until fiscal 2013/2014, the introduction of the tax evasion measures.

In her meeting with Singh, Clinton was expected to push for the government to open up India’s retail sector to foreign supermarkets such as Walmart – a major economic reform that has stalled and become emblematic of the policy paralysis gripping Singh’s government.

Clinton held talks earlier with Mamata Banerjee, the firebrand chief minister of West Bengal and Singh’s key ally in government, who has blocked the retail reform. Clinton said before meeting Banerjee that she planned to raise the issue but the chief minister said afterwards that it was not discussed.

(Writing by Ross Colvin, additional reporting by Matthias Williams in New Delhi; Editing by John Chalmers and Jeremy Laurence)

 

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Silencing The Critics

Posted by Admin on February 23, 2012

http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=29383

by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

Global Research, February 20, 2012

paulcraigrobert.com – 2012-02-19

RevolutionisingAwareness-Newsletter---February-2012-Edition-CP-ML-For-Web

In 2010 the FBI invaded the homes of peace activists in several states and seized personal possessions in what the FBI–the lead orchestrator of fake “terrorist plots”–called an investigation of “activities concerning the material support of terrorism.” 

Subpoenas were issued to compel antiwar protestors to testify before grand juries as prosecutors set about building their case that opposing Washington’s wars of aggression constitutes giving aid and comfort to terrorists.  The purpose of the raids and grand jury subpoenas was to chill the anti-war movement into inaction.

Last week in one fell swoop the last two remaining critics of Washington/Tel Aviv imperialism were removed from the mainstream media. Judge Napolitano’s popular program, Freedom Watch, was cancelled by Fox TV, and Pat Buchanan was fired by MSNBC.  Both pundits had wide followings and were appreciated for speaking frankly.  

Many suspect that the Israel Lobby used its clout with TV advertisers to silence critics of the Israeli government’s efforts to lead Washington to war with Iran.  Regardless, the point before us is that the voice of the mainstream media is now uniform. Americans hear one voice, one message, and the message is propaganda.  Dissent is tolerated only on such issues as to whether employer-paid health benefits should pay for contraceptive devices. Constitutional rights have been replaced with rights to free condoms.

The western media demonizes those at whom Washington points a finger. The lies pour forth to justify Washington’s naked aggression:  the Taliban are conflated with al Qaeda, Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction, Gaddafi is a terrorist and, even worse, fortified his troops with Viagra in order to commit mass rape against Libyan women. 

President Obama and members of Congress along with Tel Aviv continue to assert that Iran is making a nuclear weapon despite public contradiction by the US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and the CIA’s National Intelligence Estimate.  According to news reports, Pentagon chief Leon Panetta told members of the House of Representatives on February 16 that “Tehran has not made a decision to proceed with developing a nuclear weapon.” http://www.denverpost.com/nationworld/ci_19978801?source=rss   However, in Washington facts don’t count.  Only the material interests of powerful interest groups matter.

At the moment the American Ministry of Truth is splitting its time between lying about Iran and lying about Syria. Recently, there were some explosions in far away Thailand, and the explosions were blamed on Iran.  Last October the FBI announced that the bureau had uncovered an Iranian plot to pay a used car salesman to hire a Mexican drug gang to kill the Saudi Ambassador to the US. The White House idiot professed to believe the unbelievable plot and declared that he had “strong evidence,” but no evidence was ever released. The purpose for announcing the non-existent plot was to justify Obama’s sanctions, which amount to an embargo–an act of war–against Iran for developing nuclear energy.  


As a signatory to the non-proliferation treaty, Iran has the right to develop nuclear energy. IAEA inspectors are permanently in Iran and report no diversion of nuclear material to a weapons program. 

In other words, according to the reports of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the US National Intelligence Estimate, and the current Secretary of Defense, there is no evidence that Iran has nukes or is making nukes.  Yet, Obama has placed illegal sanctions on Iran and continues to threaten Iran with military attack on the basis of an accusation that is contradicted by all known evidence. 

How can such a thing happen? It can happen because there is no Helen Thomas, who also was eliminated by the Israel Lobby, to question, as a member of the White House press, President Obama why he placed war-like sanctions on Iran when his own CIA and his own Secretary of Defense, along with the IAEA, report that there is no basis for the sanctions.   

The idea that the US is a democracy when it most definitely does not have a free watchdog press is laughable.  But the media is not laughing.  It is lying.  Just like the government, every time the US mainstream media opens its mouth or writes one word, it is lying. Indeed, its corporate masters pay its employees to tell lies. That is their job. Tell the truth, and you are history like Buchanan and Napolitano and Helen Thomas.

What the Ministry of Truth calls “peaceful protesters brutalized by Assad’s military” are in fact rebels armed and financed by Washington.  Washington has fomented a civil war. Washington claims its intention is to rescue the oppressed and abused Syrian people from Assad, just as Washington rescued the oppressed and abused Libyan people from Gaddafi. Today “liberated” Libya is a shell of its former self terrorized by clashing militias. Thanks to Obama, another country has been destroyed.

Reports of atrocities committed against Syrian civilians by the military could be true, but the reports come from the rebels who desire Western intervention to put them into power. Moreover, how would these civilian casualties differ from the ones inflicted on Bahraini civilians by the US supported Bahraini government, the military of which was fortified by Saudi Arabian troops? There is no outcry in the western press about Washington’s blind eye to civilian atrocities committed by its puppet states.

How do the Syrian atrocities, if they are real, differ from Washington’s atrocities in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, Libya, Somalia, Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo prison, and secret CIA prison sites?  Why is the american Ministry of Truth silent about these massive, unprecedented, violations of human rights? 

Remember also the reports of Serbian atrocities in Kosovo that Washington and Germany used to justify NATO and US bombing of Serbian civilians, including the Chinese consulate, dismissed as another collateral damage.  Now 13 years later, a prominent German TV program has revealed that the photographs that ignited the atrocity campaign were grossly misrepresented and were not photographs of atrocities  committed by Serbs, but of Albanian separatists killed in a firefight between armed Albanians and Serbians. Serbian casualties were not shown.  http://www.freenations.freeuk.com/news-2012-02-19.html  

The problem that truth faces is that the western media continually lies. On the rare instances when the lies are corrected, it is always long after the event and, therefore, the crimes enabled by the media have been accomplished. 

Washington set its puppet Arab League upon Syria in order to establish Syria’s isolation among its own kind, the better to attack Syria. Assad forestalled Washington’s set-up of Syria for destruction  by calling a nationwide referendum on February 26 to establish a new constitution that would extend the prospect of rule beyond the Ba’athists (Assad’s party). 

One might think that, if Washington and its Ministry of Truth really wanted democracy in Syria, Washington would get behind this gesture of good will by the ruling party and endorse the referendum.  But Washington does not want a democratic Syrian government.  Washington wants a puppet state.  Washington’s response is that the dastardly Assad has outwitted Washington by taking steps toward Syrian democracy before Washington can obliterate Syria and install a puppet.

Here is Obama’s response to Assad’s move toward democracy: “It’s actually quite laughable–it makes a mockery of the Syrian revolution,” White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters aboard Air Force One. 

Obama, the neoconservatives, and Tel Aviv are really pissed. If Washington and Tel Aviv can figure out how to get around Russia and China and overthrow Assad, Washington and Tel Aviv will put Assad on trial as a war criminal for proposing a democratic referendum. 

Assad was an eye doctor in England until his father died, and he was called back to head the troubled government. Washington and Tel Aviv have demonized Assad for refusing to be their puppet.  Another sore point is the Russian naval base at Tartus. Washington is desperate to evict the Russians from their only Mediterranean base in order to make the Mediterranean an american lake. Washington, inculcated with neocon visions of world empire, wants its own mare nostrum

If the Soviet Union were still extant, Washington’s designs on Tartus would be suicidal.  However, Russia is politically and militarily weaker than the Soviet Union. Washington has infiltrated Russia with NGOs that work against Russia’s interests and will disrupt the upcoming elections. Moreover, Washington-funded “color revolutions” have turned former constituent parts of the Soviet Union into Washington’s puppet states. Shorn of communist ideology, Washington does not expect Russia to push the nuclear button. Thus, Russia is there for the taking.  

China is a more difficult problem.  Washington’s plan is to cut China off from independent sources of energy.  China’s oil investment in eastern Libya is the reason Gaddafi was overthrown, and oil is one of the main reasons that Washington has targeted Iran. China has large oil investments in Iran and gets 20% of its oil from Iran. Closing down Iran, or converting it into Washington’s puppet state, closes down 20% of the Chinese economy.

Russia and China are slow learners. However, when Washington and its NATO puppets abused the “no-fly” UN resolution concerning Libya and violated the UN resolution by turning it into armed military aggression against Libya’s armed forces, which had every right to put down a CIA sponsored rebellion, Russia and China finally got the message that Washington could not be trusted.  

This time Russia and China did not fall into Washington’s trap. They vetoed the UN Security Council’s set-up of Syria for military attack.  Now Washington and Tel Aviv (it is not always clear which is the puppet and which is the puppet master) have to decide whether to proceed in the face of Russian and Chinese opposition.  

The risks for Washington have multiplied. If Washington proceeds, the information that is conveyed to Russia and China is that they are next in line after Iran. Therefore, Russia and China, both being well-armed with nuclear weapons, are likely to put their foot down more firmly at the line drawn over Iran. If the crazed warmongers in Washington and Tel Aviv, with veins running strong with hubris and arrogance, again override Russian and Chinese opposition, the risk of a dangerous confrontation rises.

Why isn’t the american media raising questions about these risks?  Is it worth blowing up the world in order to stop Iran from having a nuclear energy program or even a nuclear weapon?  Does Washington think China is unaware that Washington is taking aim at its energy supply? Does Washington think Russia is unaware that it is being encircled by hostile military bases?

Whose interests are being served by Washington’s endless and multi-trillion dollar wars?  Certainly not the interests of the 50 million americans with no access to health care, nor by the 1,500,000 american children who are homeless, living in cars, rundown motel rooms, tent cities, and the storm sewers under Las Vegas, while huge amounts of public funds are used to bail out banks and squandered in wars of hegemony. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=suJCvkazrTc  

The US has no independent print and TV media. It has presstitutes who are paid for the lies that they tell. The US government in its pursuit of its immoral aims has attained the status of the most corrupt government in human history. Yet Obama speaks as if Washington is the font of human morality.

The US government does not represent americans. It represents a few special interests and a foreign power.  US citizens simply don’t count, and certainly Afghans, Iraqis, Libyans, Somalians, Yemenis, and Pakistanis don’t count.   Washington regards truth, justice, and mercy as laughable values.  Money, power, hegemony are all that count for Washington, the city upon the hill, the light unto nations, the example for the world.


Paul Craig Roberts is a frequent contributor to Global Research.  Global Research Articles by Paul Craig Roberts

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Syrian forces fire on anti-Assad crowd in capital

Posted by Admin on February 18, 2012

http://news.yahoo.com/chinese-envoy-meet-syrian-leader-u-n-condemnation-011432194.html;_ylt=Av1812XJ_k8gLm9NCAGS0SOs0NUE;_ylu=X3oDMTNmbjVja3RuBG1pdAMEcGtnAzAxNDFhYzQwLTYyZGUtM2FhYi04YzdlLTQyNmJjMjE2NDZiMgRwb3MDMQRzZWMDbG5fUmV1dGVyc19nYWwEdmVyAzgzYmIyZmUwLTVhMjgtMTFlMS1iYTU1LTZjMWQxM2Q0ZTJmYQ–;_ylv=3

By Khaled Yacoub Oweis and Angus MacSwan | Reuters – 1 hr 19 mins ago

AMMAN/BEIRUT (Reuters) – Syrian security forces fired live ammunition to break up a protest against President Bashar al-Assadin Damascus on Saturday, killing at least one person, opposition activists said.

A Chinese envoy met the Syrian leader earlier in the day and urged all sides to end 11 months of bloodshed, while backing a government plan for elections.

The shooting broke out at the funerals of three youths killed on Friday in an anti-Assad protest that was one of the biggest in the capital since a nationwide uprising started.

“They started firing at the crowd right after the burial. People are running and trying to take cover in the alleyways,” said a witness, speaking to Reuters in Amman by telephone.

The opposition Syrian Revolution Coordination Union said the gunfire near the cemetery had killed one mourner and wounded four, including a woman who was hit in the head.

Up to 30,000 demonstrators had taken to the streets in the Mezze district of Damascus, witnesses said.

Footage of the funeral broadcast live on the Internet showed women ululating to honor the victims. Mourners shouted: “We sacrifice our blood, our soul for you martyrs. One, one, one, the Syrian people are one”.

Assad described the turmoil racking Syria as a ploy to split the country.

“What Syria is facing is fundamentally an effort to divide it and affect its geopolitical place and historic role in the region,” he was quoted by Syrian state television as saying after meeting Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zhai Jun.

CHINESE SUPPORT

Zhai, speaking hours before the shooting at the funerals, said Chinabacked Assad’s plan for a referendum on February 26 followed by multi-party elections to resolve the crisis. The opposition and the West have dismissed the plan as sham.

The Chinese envoy appealed for an end to violence from all sides, including the government and opposition forces. His comments nevertheless amounted to a show of support against world condemnation of Assad’s crackdown on the popular uprising.

China supports the path of reform taking place in Syria and the important steps that have been taken in this respect,” he said.

China’s state news agency Xinhua highlighted Zhai’s comments that China was “deeply concerned by the escalating crisis”. The Syrian TV report quoted him as saying: “The Chinese experience shows a nation cannot develop without stability.”

Beijing and Moscow have been Assad’s most important international defenders during the crackdown which has killed several thousand people and divided world powers. The United Nations, the United States, Europe, Turkey and Arab powers want Assad to step down and have condemned the ferocious repression.

Russia and China vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution on February 4 calling on Assad to quit and also voted against a similar, non-binding General Assembly resolution on Thursday.

BOMBING THE OPPOSITION

Syrian government forces meanwhile renewed their bombardment of the opposition stronghold of Homs on Saturday.

A blanket of snow covered Homs, on the highway between Damascus and the commercial hub Aleppo, as Syrian troops pounded mainly Sunni Muslim rebel districts with rockets and artillery.

The troops were close to Baba Amro, a southern neighborhood that has been target of the heaviest barrages since the armored offensive began two weeks ago, activists said.

“Troops have closed in on Baba Amro and the bombardment is mad, but I don’t know if they are willing to storm the neighborhood while it is snowing,” activist Mohammad al-Homsi said from Homs.

“There is no electricity and communications between districts are cut, so we are unable to get a death toll… there is no fuel in most of the city.”

The military has also opened a new offensive in Hama, a city with a bloody history of resistance to Assad’s late father. The Assad clan are Alawites, an offshoot of Shi’ite Islam, in a majority Sunni country.

Assad, who succeeded his father Hafez when he died in 2000 after 30 years in power, says he is fighting foreign-backed terrorists.

The uprising began with civilian protests in March, but now includes a parallel armed struggle led by the loosely organized Free Syria Army, made up of army deserters and local insurgents.

Syria’s other significant ally is Iran, itself at odds with the West. An Iranian destroyer and a supply ship sailed through the Suez canal this week and are believed to be on their way to the Syrian coast, a source in the canal authority said.

The West is concerned that the conflict is sliding towards a civil war that could spread across the region’s patchwork of ethnic, religious and political rivalries.

But it has ruled out Libya-style military intervention, instead imposing sanctions and urging a fragmented opposition, which includes activists inside Syria, armed rebels and politicians in exile, to present a common front against Assad.

Tunisia, which is hosting a meeting on Syria next week, said on Friday Arab countries would encourage the opposition to unite before they would recognize them as a government-in-waiting.

(Additional reporting by Mohammed Abbas in Beirut; Editing by Alistair Lyon)

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Iran warships ‘enter the Mediterranean’

Posted by Admin on February 18, 2012

http://news.yahoo.com/iran-warships-enter-mediterranean-092951653.html;_ylt=AoP4.EwCQ3PWv0SQPpTyLCGs0NUE;_ylu=X3oDMTNibGJ1bTVsBG1pdAMEcGtnAzU0NWE5MGIwLTY1N2QtM2I3NC05NWNjLTEyNGFhOWMxOTBiMgRwb3MDMQRzZWMDbG5fQUZQX2dhbAR2ZXIDOTc2Yjk0ZTAtNWEyNy0xMWUxLWIzNmUtZjQ0MGIwYzZmODJk;_ylv=3

By Mohammad Davari | AFP – 1 hr 25 mins ago

Iranian warships entered the Mediterranean Sea after crossing the Suez Canal on Saturday to show Tehran‘s “might” to regional countries, the navy commander said, amid simmering tensions withIsrael.

“The strategic navy of the Islamic Republic of Iran has passed through the Suez Canal for the second time since the (1979) Islamic Revolution,” Admiral Habibollah Sayari said in remarks quoted by the official IRNA news agency.

He did not say how many vessels had crossed the canal, or what missions they were planning to carry out in the Mediterranean, but said the flotilla had previously docked in the Saudi port city of Jeddah.

Two Iranian ships, the destroyer Shahid Qandi and supply vessel Kharg, had docked in the Red Sea port on February 4, according to Iranian media.

Sayari said the naval deployment to the Mediterranean would show “the might” of the Islamic republic to regional countries, and also convey Tehran’s “message of peace and friendship.”

The announcement comes amid heightened tensions between Iran and Israel, fuelled by the longstanding dispute over Tehran’s nuclear programme and rising speculation that Israel might launch pre-emptive strikes against Iranian facilities.

Israeli officials are also accusing Tehran of orchestrating anti-Israeli bombings in India and Georgia as well as blasts in Thailand. Iran denies the allegations.

The first Iranian presence in the Mediterranean in February 2011 provoked strong reactions from Israel and the United States, with the Jewish state putting its navy on alert.

During the 2011 deployment, two Iranian vessels, a destroyer and a supply ship, sailed past the coast of Israel and docked at the Syrian port of Latakia before returning to Iran via the Red Sea.

Israeli leaders denounced the move as a “provocation” and a “powerplay.”

Iran’s navy has been boosting its presence in international waters in the past two years, deploying vessels to the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden on missions to protect Iranian ships from Somali pirates.

And Iran sent submarines to the Red Sea last June to “collect data,” its first such mission in distant waters, while its naval commanders say they plan on deploying ships close to US territorial waters in the future.

Iranian naval forces are composed of small units, including speedboats equipped with missiles, which operate in the Gulf and are under the command of the Revolutionary Guards.

The navy, using small frigates, destroyers, and three Russian-made Kilo class submarines, oversees high seas missions in the Gulf of Oman and Gulf of Aden.

It now permanently has at least two vessels in those areas to escort merchant ships, and has been involved in more than 100 confrontations with armed pirates, according to the navy commander in December.

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Russia warns against any military strike on Iran

Posted by Admin on November 7, 2011

http://in.news.yahoo.com/russia-warns-against-military-strike-iran-102133490.html

By Thomas Grove | Reuters – 6 hours ago

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia‘s foreign minister warned on Monday that any military strike against Iran would be a grave mistake with unpredictable consequences.

Russia, the closest thing Iran has to a big power ally, is deeply opposed to any military action against the Islamic Republic, though Moscow has supported United Nations Security Council sanctions against Iran over its nuclear programme.

The U.N. nuclear watchdog, the IAEA, is expected this week to issue its most detailed report yet on research in Iran seen as geared to developing atomic bombs. But the Security Council is not expected impose stiffer sanctions as a result.

Israeli media have been rife with speculation that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is working to secure cabinet consensus for an attack on Iranian nuclear installations.

“This would be a very serious mistake fraught with unpredictable consequences,” Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said when asked about reports that Israel planned a military strike against Iran.

Lavrov said there could be no military resolution to the Iranian nuclear problem and said the conflicts in Iran’s neighbours, Iraq and Afghanistan, had led to human suffering and high numbers of casualties.

A raid on Iran’s nuclear facilities would be likely to provoke Tehran into hugely disruptive retaliatory measures in the Gulf that would sever shipping routes and disrupt the flow of oil and gas to export markets, political analysts believe.

Iran is already under four rounds of United Nations sanctions due to concerns about its nuclear programme, which it says is entirely peaceful.

Washington is pushing for tighter measures after discovering what it says was an Iranian plot to kill the Saudi ambassador to the United States.

Russia has tried to push Tehran to disclose more details about its nuclear work to ease international concerns.

Senior Russian security officials accept that the West has legitimate concerns about the nuclear programme though Moscow says there is no clear evidence that Iran is trying to make a nuclear bomb.

Any military strike against Iran would be likely to sour ties between the West and Russia, whose leader, Vladimir Putin, is almost certain to win a presidential election in March.

“There is no military solution to the Iranian nuclear problem as there is no military solution to any other problem in the modern world,” said Lavrov, who has served as foreign minister since 2004.

“This is confirmed to us every day when we see how the problems of the conflicts around Iran are being resolved — whether Iraq or Afghanistan or what is happening in other countries in the region. Military intervention only leads to many times more deaths and human suffering.”

Lavrov added that talks between Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States, Germany and Iran should be resumed as soon as possible.

(Writing by Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Giles Elgood)

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Russian scientists expect to meet aliens by 2031

Posted by Admin on July 2, 2011

http://news.yahoo.com/russian-scientists-expect-meet-aliens-2031-145615642.html;_ylt=AlyK.mPsGh4UscgUEHBVPJLtiBIF;_ylu=X3oDMTNhM2lzNzdzBHBrZwM3YjY3MTBmZS1kYmMyLTMzZTItOWJlYS0xNmY4ZDQ5ZjZlZjYEcG9zAzEyBHNlYwNNZWRpYVRvcFN0b3J5BHZlcgMyYjIxYmQ4MC1hMTk3LTExZTAtYmY5ZS02YTdlMTk4N2YxYzk-;_ylg=X3oDMTFxcW12NnU4BGludGwDdXMEbGFuZwNlbi11cwRwc3RhaWQDBHBzdGNhdANob21lfG9kZG5ld3MEcHQDc2VjdGlvbnM-;_ylv=3

By Alissa de Carbonnel | Reuters – Tue, Jun 28, 2011

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russian scientists expect humanity to encounter alien civilizations within the next two decades, a top Russian astronomer predicted on Monday.

“The genesis of life is as inevitable as the formation of atoms… Life exists on other planets and we will find it within 20 years,” Andrei Finkelstein, director of the Russian Academy of Sciences‘ Applied Astronomy Institute, was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying.

Speaking at an international forum dedicated to the search for extraterrestrial life, Finkelstein said 10 percent of the known planets circling suns in the galaxy resemble Earth.

If water can be found there, then so can life, he said, adding that aliens would most likely resemble humans with two arms, two legs and a head.

“They may have different color skin, but even we have that,” he said.

Finkelstein’s institute runs a program launched in the 1960s at the height of the Cold War space race to watch for and beam out radio signals to outer space.

“The whole time we have been searching for extraterrestrial civilizations, we have mainly been waiting for messages from space and not the other way,” he said.

(Writing by Alissa de Carbonnel; editing by Paul Casciato)

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Iran says oil prices to reach $150 per barrel

Posted by Admin on April 6, 2011

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President of Iran

Belligerence and Hypocrisy

http://in.finance.yahoo.com/news/Iran-says-oil-prices-reach-reuters-728569414.html

On Monday 4 April 2011, 9:22 PM

 

TEHRAN (Reuters) – Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Monday that oil prices will reach $150 per barrel and the current crude prices were “not real”.

“The price of oil will increase to $150 per barrel in a period of time … the current oil prices are not real,” Ahmadinejad told a news conference.

Oil traded above $119 a barrel for Brent on Monday, just off a two-and-a-half year high touched in February, spurred by political instability in the Middle East and North Africa.

Iran is OPEC ‘s second biggest crude producer after Saudi Arabia .

Disruption of Libyan exports because of violent unrest in the OPEC member country also provided an opportunity for Iran to sell some of the crude that had built up in floating storage.

A popular uprising in Libya has shut down almost all of the country’s 1.6 million barrels per day (bpd) of oil production, prompting Saudi Arabia to boost crude output to try to compensate for the loss and rein in oil prices.

(Editing by Jason Neely)

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Egypt crisis: Israel faces danger in every direction

Posted by Admin on February 2, 2011

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/israel/8296776/Egypt-crisis-Israel-faces-danger-in-every-direction.html

The Egyptian crisis is ringing alarm bells in Jerusalem, writes David Horovitz.

Protesters take part in an anti-Mubarak protest at Tahrir square in Cairo

Protesters take part in an anti-Mubarak protest at Tahrir square in Cairo

The Middle East is in ferment at the moment – but despite the general excitement, the outcome could be a grim one for Israel, and for the West more generally.

In the past few weeks, we have seen a president ousted in Tunisia. We’ve seen protests in Yemen. We’ve seen Iran essentially take control of Lebanon, where its proxy, Hizbollah, has ousted a relatively pro-Western prime minister and inserted its own candidate. We’ve seen the King of Jordan rush to sack his cabinet amid escalating protests. We’ve seen reports that similar demonstrations are planned for Syria, where the president, Bashar Assad, will find it far harder to get away with gunning down the crowds than his father did in 1982. And most dramatically, we are seeing the regime in Egypt – the largest, most important Arab country – totter, as President Mubarak faces unprecedented popular protest, and the likelihood that he will have to step down sooner rather than later.

It is tempting to be smug. Egypt’s blink-of-an-eye descent into instability underlines afresh the uniqueness of Israel, that embattled sliver of enlightened land in a largely dictatorial region. Those who like to characterise it as the root of all the Middle East’s problems look particularly foolish: the people on the streets aren’t enraged by Israel, but because their countries are so unlike Israel, so lacking in the freedoms and economic opportunities that both Israeli Jews and Israeli Arabs take
for granted.

Yet the country is deeply concerned. The main worry is over a repeat of the events in Iran a little over 30 years ago, when popular protest ousted the Shah, only to see him replaced by a far more dangerous, corrupt, misogynist and intolerant regime. Iran is plainly delighted by what is unfolding. With peerless hypocrisy, a government that mowed down its own people less than two years ago is encouraging the same spirit of protest in Egypt. Its allies in the Muslim Brotherhood are well placed to fill any leadership vacuum – and, for all the group’s dubious claims to be relatively moderate, it embraces leadership figures deeply hostile to Israel and to the West. The Muslim Brotherhood, it should not be forgotten, gave birth to Hamas, the terrorist group which now runs Gaza, after killing hundreds in its takeover.

The danger for the Egyptians is that, when the protests are over, their brave efforts will have replaced Mubarak not with a leadership more committed to freedom and democracy, but quite the reverse. Yet for Israelis, it underlines the challenges we face when it comes to peacemaking.

Our country, it is often forgotten, is 1/800th of the size of the Arab world, only nine miles wide at its narrowest point. We are not some territorial superpower that can afford not to care if there is hostility all around: we desperately need normalised relations with our neighbours. But if we do a lousy deal, with a regime that is either unstable or not genuinely committed to reconciliation, the consequences could be fatal.

Israelis, I believe, would make almost any territorial compromise in the cause of genuine peace.
But where both the Palestinians and the Syrians are concerned, we’re far from certain that we have a dependable partner. And as the Egyptian experience is demonstrating, even our most concrete certainties can turn fluid overnight.

For half of Israel’s lifespan, our alliance with Egypt has been central to our foreign policy and military strategy. To achieve it, we relinquished every last inch of the Sinai desert – and, until this weekend, we scarcely had a reason to question that decision. Yes, it’s been a cold peace: there’s been no profound acceptance of Israel among ordinary Egyptians, or the country’s media and professional guilds. Yet Egypt under Mubarak has been less critical of Israel than most other Arab states, gradually intensifying the effort to prevent the smuggling of missiles, rockets and other weaponry into Hamas-controlled Gaza. The absence of war on our Egyptian border has also freed our strained military forces to focus on other, more threatening frontiers.

Over the past two years, as Turkey has moved out of the Western orbit, our other vital regional alliance has slipped away. Now Egypt could also be lost – at a time when Iran and its nuclear ambitions cast an ever greater shadow over the region, and over Israel’s future.

But perhaps the most profound concern is over the reversal of momentum that the Egyptian protests could come to represent. For a generation, Israel has been trying to widen the circle of normalisation – to win acceptance as a state among states. We made peace with Egypt, then with Jordan. We built ties with Morocco and the Gulf. We have reached out to the Syrians and Palestinians.

Now, for the first time in more than 30 years, we see that momentum reversing. We wonder whether Egypt will continue to constitute a stable partner. We worry about the potential for instability in Jordan. We see that all our borders are now “in play” – that the Israel Defence Forces must overhaul their strategy to meet the possibility of dangers in every direction.

We had hoped that the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty of 1979 would come to be the defining event of the modern era. Now, we fear that our world will be defined by another event from that year: Iran’s dismal Islamic revolution.

David Horovitz is editor-in-chief of ‘The Jerusalem Post’

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HUMAN RIGHTS AND DEMOCRACY IN IRAN

Posted by Admin on January 30, 2011

Table of contents:

1.      Introduction;

2.      Outline;

3.      Limitations of this study;

4.      The road to democracy;

5.      Democracy in Iran;

6.       Human rights in Iran;

7.      Conclusion.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

 

1. Introduction:

This paper looks at human rights and democracy in Iran in the wake of political reforms being implemented there since the late 1980’s/early 90’s. It proceeds on the important premise that before preparing a marks sheet on Iran’s progress in these two areas, it is necessary to bear in mind that these two concepts have a unique dimension shaped by a chain of events that ushered them in Iran. It would not make much sense to make sweeping and generalised statements about democracy and human rights, essentially Western concepts, when they are applied in one of the world’s oldest civilisations, in which an Islamic form of government is very much at the centre of power. “In Iran as in other Muslim countries, paths to human rights lie within Islam, to the extent that dialogue can grow between traditionalists and innovators” (Gustafson & Juviler, 1999, p. 9). Any discourse on democracy and human rights in Iran has to be understood in relation to the country’s circumstance, which is that the reform movement, which tried to infuse these ideas into the country, was basically a reaction to the failure of the Revolution to sustain the goal it sought to achieve in the face of the changing dynamics in international relations in the post-Gulf War and Iran –Iraq war. Thus, one has to understand that there exists a unique paradigm for democracy and human rights in Iran, which is at variance from what the West broadly perceives as universal values for all mankind. Keeping this consideration in mind, this paper looks at the progress made on these two fronts, guaranteeing and denying which is the leitmotif of the opposing camps, the reformists and the conservatives, respectively.

2. Outline:

This paper takes off by detailing how democracy has been introduced in stages. The most striking feature of this country’s process of democratisation has been the reluctance of the ruling establishment to give in to the moderates, who have sought to implement democracy. Thus, the study of the democratisation of Iran has been chiefly characterised by the tussles that have been taking place in the country’s political establishment between those who want to introduce democracy and those who want to abort it. Hence, a considerable portion of this paper is devoted to sketching the long series of battles in the war between the reformists and the conservatives. Human rights in Iran, an offshoot of attempts at launching democracy, and its corollary, are detailed here. Mention is made of the efforts at bettering human rights in the country by Nobel Peace laureate, Shirin Ebadi. Finally, this paper offers its conclusions, in which it tries to prognosticate prospects and pitfalls for democracy and human rights in the country.

3. Limitations of this study:

A complete study of the actual progress made in the transition of the political system in any country would be truly comprehensive and complete if one were to keep one’s ears to the ground; in the absence of this factor, this paper relies heavily on the writings of opinion-makers emanating from that country. This is not to doubt their authenticity, but most of these opinion makers have their own agendas to carry out, and as such, their objectivity is not indubitable. A thorough and objective study is best arrived at by measuring the impact of democracy and human rights at the grassroots level. In the absence of this exercise, this paper is prone to get swayed by the (at times) emotive nature of the sources from which it bases its study. In other words, the most objective and scholarly work on human rights and democracy in Iran would be one that is seen from Iranian, not Western or Western-oriented eyes, a requirement not met by this paper. Some attention is given to reports of human rights violations from Amnesty International, whose objectivity has never been proven.

Another important shortfall of this paper is that it looks at human rights in Iran only from the time the new regime has taken power, i.e., after the death of the Ayatollah, who led the Revolution. Although gross human rights violations took place during the time the Revolution installed an Islamic-type government and the Shah’s regime it overthrew, this paper does not look at those, and chooses the period from the start of the new regime, only because this is when democratisation started in the political system. Finally, since the two are closely interrelated, there may be some overlaps in describing the events pertaining to these two. Another very important aspect to be borne in mind is that this paper was written just a few weeks prior to the presidential election of 2005, when the tussles between the conservatives and moderates were at their peak. The result of this election has not been reflected in this paper.

4. The road to democracy:

The reform movement in Iran, which has been spearheading the implementation of democracy and human rights in the country, was born in the wake of the failure of the Revolution to spread benefits to the masses. (Kazemi, 2003) Although the Islamic Revolution of 1979 was an event whose importance has deeply impacted modern Iranian history, ironically, the country’s two earlier revolutions, those of 1906 and 1953, took place for the furtherance of democracy. (Momayesi, 2000, p. 41) They resulted in the establishment of monarchies. The latest revolution, the root of the current tussle for democratisation, at first was followed by major international political and economic problems. (Wright, 1996) The Revolution took place in very violent circumstances, whose culmination was the overthrow of the corrupt, unflinchingly pro-Western Shah. (Seliktar, 2000, p. 73-90) For all the tumult and convulsion that major event precipitated, the direct effect it produced, that of total Islamic rule, lasted no more than a little over a decade. The regime had to soon slowly either abandon or dilute some of its core ideals. This was due to the variety of unforeseen changes that unfurled on the international scene. One of the ideals that had to inevitably become a product of the changed situation was democracy. “In the 1990s, several factors contributed to the intensification of the debate over democracy and democratic institutions in Iranian society. These include the death of Ayatollah Khomeini in 1989, the disillusionment of a substantial portion of Iranian society with government policies, especially in the areas of liberty and individual rights, the imposition of more restrictions over freedom, and authoritarian infringement of people’s constitutional rights. The advocates of reformist Islam launched afresh a campaign to promote democratic values in government and society.” (Momayesi, 2000, p. 41) The first concrete step towards the latest round of democratisation was the elevation of the moderate reformist, Hashemi Rafsanjani from Speaker of the parliament, the Majlis, to the office of the president in 1989. Rafsanjani had assumed office at a time when “…the struggle to determine the true revolutionary path had entered a new phase, involving major policy reevaluation”. (Ayalon, 1995, p. 317)

5. Democracy in Iran:

To undo the highly ensconced politico- religious system in a matter of two presidential terms was no easy task. After the end of his two four- year terms, the mantle of presidency now passed on to his successor and like-minded reformist, Mohammed Khatami, who “…emphasized the country’s need for national unity, respect for the law and civil rights, the creation of a vibrant civil society, and the eradication of poverty.” (Amuzegar, 1998, p. 76) His efforts at reform of the political system, aimed at bringing about democracy were well received at first, as they were representative of the change the people were yearning for. (Yasin, 2002) Initially, Khatami seemed to have taken off from where his predecessor had left. He enjoyed massive support from the least thinkable constituencies in the earlier theocratic regime –youth and women. One of the most drastic changes he sought to implement was in the area of religious governance; he went about altering the structure of the clergy, something that was unimaginable earlier. Changes were implemented in some of the most important institutions, such as those of the supreme leader, the Faqih, the presidency, the judiciary and the Majlis. Khatami carried out amendments to the 1979 Islamic constitution, which had come into effect because of the Revolution. Dictated by the need of the hour, brought about by the death of the architect of the Revolution, Ayatollah Khomeini, one of the most tangible steps towards democratisation of the ruling clergy was “…a significant revision in the qualifications for the holder of this omnipotent office. The all-important and stringent religious qualifications were reduced.” (Kazemi, 2003)

After Khatami’s re-election in 2001 with a reduced majority, the pace of democratic reform lost some of its earlier tempo. The opposition to his democratisation process has been growing steadily, especially since the hardliner conservatives have enjoyed greater numerical superiority in the Majlis. The hardliners have stepped up the ante in opposition to the various reforms he has initiated. With a greater say in the Majlis, they have intensified their opposition to Khatami’s reforms. “Khatami’s victory ushered great hope for progress toward democratisation and reform of the rigid political system. This hope has been largely dashed as the conservative supporters of the Islamic Republic have prevented meaningful political reform…[t]he forces of opposition to Khatami are made up of a disparate but powerful set of institutions and actors with entrenched political, economic and ideological interests. While cognizant of Khatami’s massive electoral victories and popular support, they can find other means of thwarting his reform agenda, through the country’s major institutions” (Kazemi, 2003) Another area of discomfort for Khatami has been in the constituency on whose back he rode to power –students. Their earlier support for him dissipated when he tried to implement a major reform– privatisation of universities. Protests by student bodies at this proposal spilled on to the streets, in the form of massive demonstrations against the president as well as the clergy, on two occasions, once in July 1999, and on the fourth anniversary of this event.  (“Student Heroes Take on,” 2003, p. 23)

In another important round of their row, in February 2004, the conservatives gained an upper hand, disqualifying 2300 candidates belonging to the reformist camp from general elections later that year. With the conservatives gaining a comfortable majority in these elections, the process of democratisation has suffered a major setback, with the presidency, at that time being the only reformist position in the government. (Deccan Herald, 23rd Feb. 2004, p.8) In the words of US president Bush, “[s]uch measures undermine the rule of law and are clear attempts to deny the Iranian people’s desire to freely choose their leaders.” (The Washington Times, 25th Feb. 2004, p. A15.) Yet another major setback to democratisation has opened up as recently as on May 22, 2005, with barely a month to go for the presidential elections slated for June 17, 2005. The Council of Guardians barred from standing in the election the reformist camp’s candidate for president, Mostafa Moin. Additionally, in the same breath, it disqualified each and every of the 89 women candidates saying women are unfit to lead the country. Even as the reformists cried hoarse at the move, saying it has amounted to a coup d’ etat, and saying this move undermines the spirit of election to the presidency in that it would virtually amount to having an appointed president, one silver lining for the reformist camp is that of the six candidates allowed to contest the presidential election out of the 1014 who threw their hat in the ring, one is Hashemi Rafsanjani himself. The other consolation is that they have control over the Interior Ministry. (The Hindu, 24th May 2005, p.10)

6. Human rights in Iran:

Despite the avowed aim of the reformists in Iran to bring about democracy and respect for human rights, there are everyday occurrences of incidents in which amputations and floggings are commonplace, and pregnant women and children are routinely executed. (The Washington Post, 5th January 2005, p. A12)

If the reformists and the conservatives are united over one issue, it is their antipathy to any reference to human rights in the country. They are unanimous and vehement in their opinion that America is seeking to use international human rights organisations to criticise Iranian human rights. They believe that the US is trying to establish its hegemony by interfering with the internal affairs of strategically important countries such as Iran. They accuse the Americans of being selective in their criticism of human rights violations in different countries. (Karabell, 2000, pp. 212) The Iranian government allowed the Red Cross and the UN to inspect the country’s human rights situation in 1990 for the first time in its history. (Kamminga, 1992, p. 99) The Red Cross and the UN had reported that 113,000 women had been arrested in Teheran alone either for improperly wearing their headdress or for moral corruption; the UN had also reported an increase in executions, suppression of minorities and the press, and summary executions of anti-government demonstrators. (Mohaddessin, 1993, p. 142) The government reacted very angrily when America accused the Iranian government of expelling the members of the Red Cross on grounds of complicity with America. It came out heavily against the Human Rights Commission envoy. When the topic was reinvigorated in 1996, reflecting the general opinion in the country, an editorial in the Teheran Times said:

“Criteria for human rights are respected by everyone; however, any judgement on the situation of human rights in a country should be harmonious with the nation’s culture, religion and traditions. The special envoy should not surrender to direct and indirect pressures from the United States and other Western powers, whose aims are to use human rights as a leverage against Iran…”(Karabell, 2000, pp. 212, 213) Arguments and counter arguments between human rights organizations and the government continue with regularity.

The confrontation between the conservatives and reformists in the Majlis has also contributed to violations of human rights: Khatami’s reform of the clergy was based on the idea of undermining the six-member ‘Council of Guardians’, a powerful clerical body in the power structure of the ruling elite by exposing their corruption.  This earned him the scorn of those in power: this Council hit back by hounding his aides, who were seen as moderates. Hojjat-al-Islam Mohsin Kadivar, a well-known liberal writer, Gholam-Hussein Karbaschi, the then mayor of Teheran and Abdollah Nouri, the former interior minister, were among those in the reformist camp that the conservative clerics persecuted. The leftist, pro-Khatami newspaper, Salam, also suffered a similar fate, and was forced to close down. This brought students to the streets in support of Khatami on July 9, 1999. To quell this mob, the police had to open fire; Khatami thus unwittingly ended up antagonising the very constituency that took to the streets to support him. (Sardar, 1999)

Amnesty International, in its report on human rights violations in Iran came out with some scathing observations, which it attributes to the feud between the reformists and the conservatives. Its summary reads thus: “Scores of political prisoners, including prisoners of conscience, continued to serve sentences imposed in previous years following unfair trials. Scores more were arrested in 2003, often arbitrarily and many following student demonstrations. At least a dozen political prisoners arrested during the year were detained without charge, trial or regular access to their families and lawyers. Judicial authorities curtailed freedoms of expression, opinion and association, including of ethnic minorities; scores of publications were closed, Internet sites were filtered and journalists were imprisoned. At least one detainee died in custody, reportedly after being beaten. During the year the pattern of harassment of political prisoners’ family members re-emerged. At least 108 executions were carried out, including of long-term political prisoners and frequently in public. At least four prisoners were sentenced to death by stoning while at least 197 people were sentenced to be flogged and 11 were sentenced to amputation of fingers and limbs. The true numbers may have been considerably higher.”(Amnesty International, Report 2004)

A look at the field of human rights in Iran would be incomplete without a mention of the efforts of the Nobel Peace laureate, Shirin Ebadi. Her efforts have been primarily focussed on the improvement of human rights in the areas concerning women and children in over the past three decades. Inspired to work for the improvement of human rights in her country following her demotion under the Revolution from the position as the country’s first woman judge, she believes that guaranteeing human rights in an Islamic society is not at all impossible. The two are never incompatible, she feels, saying that the important question is not the law of Islamic jurisprudence, the Shariat in itself, but its interpretation. Some of her major accomplishments have been the victories she has secured in getting important reforms done to the family law, the legal age at which girls can marry, and the rights of illegitimate children. Another significant victory of hers in improving human rights in Iran has been in pressurising the government to reveal the identities of the student demonstrators that were killed in the police violence of July 9, 1999. (Lancaster, 2003)

7.      Conclusion:

The road to democracy and human rights continues to be bumpy in Iran, so long as the tussle for supremacy continues within the Majlis between the conservatives and the moderates.  Seen in the overall sense, the speed of change towards democracy has been rather slow-paced.

This is perhaps understandable in an ancient country in which till recently, authoritarianism was so pervasive that most of the country’s resources were held by a thousand or so families. (Lytle, 1987, p. 1) Another major reason for democracy to take more than the expected time to gain ground in feudalistic societies such as Iran is that by its very nature, it cannot be planted violently in the system, in the way the Revolution of 1979 was. If it were to supplant the existing system and take its place by coercion, that would have to be done by adopting undemocratic means, thus defeating its very nature and ending up being an oxymoron!

Seen in this overall sense of the country’s difficult path to democratisation, despite the relative slowness being taken for democratisation to take root, there is still a lot of scope for optimism, as this observation by Momayesi (2000) best sums up the situation: “It is perhaps appropriate to view the current situation as an ongoing, step-by-step struggle and conflict over reform, rather than simply a stagnation under the grip of vested conservative clerical interests. It is evident that Iran shows some signs of movement toward a stable constitutional definition of governmental powers and processes. It seems more apt to see the glass of freedom in Iran as half full rather than half empty… [w]e must think in terms of a long march rather than a simple transition to democracy. Democracy and human rights must be adapted to suit countries with a distinctive culture and experiences, rather than simply being transplanted from existing democracies, East or West. The diversity and the range of democratization alongside persistent authoritarianism sometimes gets lost in the selective media coverage of Islamic Iran. But new freedoms pose difficult challenges to the most capable of leaders everywhere.” (Momayesi, 2000, p. 41) Thus, “…democracy, an element external or internal to Islam, was originally planted in the foundations of Islamism and is emerging, although extremely slowly, as a far more potent element of the Iranian revolution than it had been.” (Usman, 2002)

Having said this, the picture for human rights may not be as rosy: the crackdown on human rights is a major setback to the government, negating as it does important moves to draw foreign investment that the country can ill-afford to forego. For instance, prior to the moves by the conservatives in February 2004, some leading companies, such as the French car giant, Renault, the Turkish communications giant, Turkcell, and some Japanese companies, which would develop the country’s oil fields at an eventual cost of some $ 2 billion, were in the process of investing huge amounts in the economy, which was opened up for the first time since the Revolution. These actions by the government place the investors under pressure to withdraw, as they would not like to be seen to be investing in tyrannical governments. They also throw the intentions of the government in doubt, as they prompt the foreign investors to pack their baggage. (The Washington Times, 25th Feb. 2004, p. A15.)

Unfortunately, it often happens in Iran that for the hardened attitudes of the clergy, it is the moderates who take the blame. Their attempts to undo the years of reactionary policies are often frowned at. For instance, the Second of Khordad, a reformist party that is seen as Khatami’s most important aide, along with its close allies, has been all for “…economic liberalization and privatization, as well as increased personal freedoms, including those of women, and have criticized the corruption and arbitrary power of the ruling clerics. But the front has been unable to implement policies that would address the country’s high unemployment rate or the high poverty rate (40 percent). Reformers have been unable to improve the lot of most Iranians, either because they have been blocked by conservative clerics or because they do not make bread-and-butter issues their top priority.” (Cole, 2004, p. 7)

A major test of the triumph or defeat of democracy would be the presidential elections scheduled for June 17, 2005. Its victors would play a decisive role in shaping the democratic process in the country. A sustained effort at this would be necessary for further democratisation and furtherance of human rights if the moderates were to come to power. But if they have to continue the process Rafsanjani and Khatami have set in motion, there would have to be installed a new reformist president who has considerable freedom to implement the reforms; or else, he too, would go the Khatami way, forever fettered by a conservative parliament.

On the other hand, should the conservatives pull off another coup and get one of their own elected as president, that would almost certainly neutralise all the efforts at democratisation and furtherance of human rights that have been taking place till now. Whether Iran would emerge as a champion of democracy and human rights or go back to being an inheritor of a theocratic government brought about by violent revolution, only the upcoming presidential elections would say. If the upper hand the conservatives have been gaining till now in its tiff with the moderates is any indication, the second scenario seems to have a slightly higher chance of materialising.

Written By Ravindra G Rao

References

 

 

Amnesty International, Report 2004. Available: http://web.amnesty.org/report2004/Irn-summary-eng (Accessed 2005, May 25)

 

Amuzegar, J.,1998, Khatami’s Iran, One Year Later. Middle East Policy, Vol. 6, No.2, 76-94.

 

Ayalon, A. (Ed.), 1995, Middle East Contemporary Survey: 1993, Vol. 17, Westview Press, Boulder, CO.

 

Cole, J., Iran’s Tainted Elections. The Nation, Vol. 278, No. 7. (2004, March 1) Retrieved May 25, 2005, from Questia database, http://www.questia.com.

 

Gustafson, C. & Juviler, P. (Eds.). 1999, Competing Claims? Competing Claims? M.E. Sharpe, Armonk, NY.

 

2004. “Hard-Liners Face Hurdles in New Iran; despite Poll Win, Options Limited” The Washington Times (Washington , USA) February 25, 2004, p. A15.

2004. “Conservative ‘coup’” Deccan Herald (Bangalore, India) February 23, 2004, p.8.

2005. “Guardian Council’s move a coup d’ etat: reformers” The Hindu (Bangalore, India) May 24, 2005, p.10.

2005,.”Risks of Appeasing Iran’s Mullahs”, The Washington Times (Washington, USA)2005,  January 5, p. A12. Retrieved May 25, 2005, from Questia database, http://www.questia.com.

 

Kamminga, M. T.,1992, Inter-State Accountability for Violations of Human Rights, University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia.

 

Karabell, Z.,2000, 8 “Iran and Human Rights”. In Human Rights and Comparative Foreign Policy /, Forsythe, D. P. (Ed.) (pp. 206-221), United Nations University Press, New York.

 

Kazemi, F., 2003, The Precarious Revolution: Unchanging Institutions and the Fate of Reform in Iran Iranian Politics Is a System Made by the Clerics for the Clerics, and for Their Supporters Who Possess a near Monopoly on the Spoils of the Revolution and the Country’s Resources. Journal of International Affairs, Vol. 57, No.1, p. 81+. Retrieved May 25, 2005, from Questia database, http://www.questia.com.

 

Lancaster, P., “A Worthy Winner: The News That Iran’s Shirin Ebadi Was the Nobel Peace Prize Winner Came as a Surprise to Many, Not Least the Peace Laureate Herself”, The Middle East, , November 2003, p. 32+. Retrieved May 25, 2005, from Questia database, http://www.questia.com.

 

Lytle, M. H..1987, The Origins of the Iranian-American Alliance, 1941-1953, Holmes & Meier, New York.

 

Mohaddessin, M.,1993,  Islamic Fundamentalism: The New Global Threat, Seven Locks Press, Washington, DC.

 

Momayesi, N., 2000, “Iran’s Struggle for Democracy”, International Journal on World Peace, Vol. 17, No.4, p.41. Retrieved May 25, 2005, from Questia database, http://www.questia.com.

 

Sardar, Z., “Iranians Hold a Dress Rehearsal for Revolution”. New Statesman, 1999, July 26, Vol. 128, p.12+. Retrieved May 25, 2005, from Questia database, http://www.questia.com.

 

Seliktar, O.,2000, Failing the Crystal Ball Test: The Carter Administration and the Fundamentalist Revolution in Iran, Praeger Publishers, Westport, CT

 

“Student Heroes Take on Mullahs; the Pro-Democracy Movement in Iran Continues to Gather Momentum despite the Ruthless Tactics Employed by the Ruling Islamic Theocracy to Hold on to Power”,  July 22, 2003. Insight on the News, No. 23. Retrieved May 25, 2005, from Questia database, http://www.questia.com.

 

Usman, J., 2002, “The Evolution of Iranian Islamism from the Revolution through the Contemporary Reformers” Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law, Vol.35, No. 5, p. 1679+. Retrieved May 25, 2005, from Questia database, http://www.questia.com.

 

Wright, R., 1996 Summer, “Dateline Tehran: A Revolution Implodes”, Foreign Policy, p.161+. Retrieved May 25, 2005, from Questia database, http://www.questia.com.

 

Yasin, T.,2002, “Knocked off Axis? Iranian Reform Challenged” Harvard International Review, Vol. 24, No.2, p.12+. Retrieved May 25, 2005, from Questia database, http://www.questia.com.

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6.5-magnitude quake hits Iranian villages

Posted by Admin on December 26, 2010

Washington Post Foreign Service
Tuesday, December 21, 2010; 12:10 PM

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/12/21/AR2010122101184.html

TEHRAN – At least 11 people died during a 6.5-magnitude earthquake Monday night in southeasternIran, state radio reported Tuesday.

The total number of casualties was unclear at midday Tuesday, but the semiofficial Fars news agency reported that in one area in the province of Kerman, at least 1,800 houses were damaged. There were several reports of people trapped under rubble.

The tremor’s epicenter was 60 miles from the ancient city of Bam, where a 2003 quake killed at least 26,000 people.

State radio reported that the worst-hit area appeared to be a stretch of impoverished villages in which a total of about 4,000 people live in mud-brick houses. Even moderate quakes in this part of Iran have killed thousands in the past, mainly because of shoddy construction techniques and poor infrastructure.

Medical teams from the Red Crescent, the Islamic Red Cross, were dispatched to the area. But roads are reportedly blocked, and phone lines have been cut off.

“We are distributing heating appliances and water among survivors,” said Mohammad Barzang, the governor of the Rigan province, according to the official Islamic Republic News Agency.

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Suicide bombers kill at least 39 in southeast Iran

Posted by Admin on December 16, 2010

Site of suicide bombing

Suicide bombing Aftermath

http://www.headlinenewsbureau.com/siterun_data/news/world/doc1b7de88cfcf2a3c28f13b8ff47fe6c9c.html

By ALI AKBAR DAREINI | Posted: Wednesday, December 15, 2010 10:14 am

Two suicide bombers blew themselves up near a mosque in southeastern Iran on Wednesday, killing at least 39 people, including a newborn baby, at a Shiite mourning ceremony, state media reported.

The attack, which also wounded 90 people, took place outside the Imam Hussein Mosque in the port city of Chahbahar, near the border with Pakistan, the official IRNA news agency said.

The bombers targeted a group of worshippers at a mourning ceremony a day before Ashoura, which commemorates the seventh century death of the Prophet Muhammad‘s grandson Hussein, one of Shiite Islam‘s most beloved saints.

An armed Sunni militant group called Jundallah, or Soldiers of God, claimed responsibility in a statement posted on its website. The group has carried out sporadic attacks in Iran’s southeast to fight alleged discrimination against the area’s Sunni minority in overwhelmingly Shiite Iran.

The group said Wednesday’s attack was a second act of revenge for the execution of its leader, Abdulmalik Rigi, in June.

“This operation is a warning to the Iranian regime that it must end its interference in the religious affairs of the Sunnis, stop executions and release the prisoners,” said the Internet statement. “Otherwise, martyrdom operations will continue with a stronger forcer.”

One of the attackers detonated a bomb outside the mosque and the other struck from among a crowd of worshippers, state TV reported.

Security forces shot one of them, but the bomber was still able to detonate the explosives, the report added, quoting deputy Interior Minister Ali Abdollahi. A third attacker was arrested, state TV said.

Forensic official Fariborz Ayati put the number of dead at 39 and said they included three women and one newborn baby, IRNA reported.

Mahmoud Mozaffar, a senior Iranian Red Crescent Society official, said emergency services had been put on alert over the past few days because of anonymous threats, according to another news agency, ISNA.

The deputy interior minister blamed Sunni militants, an apparent reference to Jundallah.

“Evidence and the kind of equipment used suggest that the terrorists were affiliated with extremist … groups backed by the U.S. and intelligence services of some regional states,” Abdollahi told state TV.

Iranian officials claim Jundallah, which has operated from bases in Pakistan, receives support from Western powers, including the United States. Washington denies any links to the group, and in November the State Department added Jundallah to a U.S. list of foreign terrorist organizations.

President Barack Obama condemned the attack and said the United States stands with the loved ones of those killed and with the Iranian people.

“This and other similar acts of terrorism recognize no religious, political or national boundaries. The United States condemns all acts of terrorism wherever they occur,” Obama said in a statement released by the White House.

Parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani said the bombing sought to create sectarian splits in the country.

“The aim of the terrorists … is to sow discord among Shiites and Sunnis,” he said. “Such actions can be done only by the Zionist regime and the U.S.”

In July, two suicide bombers blew themselves up at a mosque in the same province, Sistan-Baluchestan, killing at least 28 people. Jundallah had said that attack, too, was revenge for the execution of its leader a month earlier.

The strike in July also targeted Shiite worshippers during a holiday, in that case Hussein’s birthday.

The group has also attacked members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, the country’s most powerful military force.

In its deadliest strike, a suicide bomber hit a meeting between Guard commanders and Shiite and Sunni tribal leaders in the border town of Pishin in October 2009, killing 42 people, including 15 Guard members.

Drug traffickers and smugglers also are active along the barren frontier area of Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan and have launched attacks on security forces.

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