December 1998, Week 3
|Iran says U.S. apologized for stray missile||December 21|
|Iran win soccer gold||December 20|
|Iran, Kuwait set up Middle East final||December 16|
|Iran Arms Dealer Sentenced 5 Years||December 16|
|U.S. Removes Iran From Its Drug List||December 16|
|Khatemi's Remarks to Students Stir Ire of Iran's Conservatives||December 16|
|Iran Closes Activist Newspaper||December 16|
|Iran's press is battleground for the country's future||December 15|
|Iran implies U.S. had role in dissident deaths||December 15|
|Iran arrests suspects in dissident killings||December 15|
Iran says U.S. apologized for stray missile
(Reuters) -- Iran said on Sunday the United States had apologised for a stray missile from air strikes on Iraq which hit an Iranian border
"The government of the United States, through the embassy of Switzerland in Tehran, expressed its regret over the landing of a missile in the city of Khorramshahr," a foreign ministry statement carried by state-run television said.
"The U.S. government said it did not intend to violate Iran's sovereignty and it was investigating the incident," the statement said.
The missile landed in Iran's southwestern city of Khorramshahr on Thursday, damaging property within a 200 metre (200 yard) radius and cau sing panic. There was no report of injuries.
Iran's parliament on Sunday demanded an apology from the United States.
"America's missile attack on Khorramshahr once more proved that America's hostility toward Iran has not decreased," the deputies said in a n open letter.
"The foreign ministry should follow up the aggression through the United Nations up to the point where damages are compensated and the Ame rican administration offers an apology," deputies of the 270-seat assembly said.
Earlier Iranian foreign ministry officials protested about the incident to the ambassador of Switzerland, who represents the United States in Iran, and the British charge d'affaires.
Iran win soccer gold
By Brian Williams |
BANGKOK, (Reuters) China recovered their pride by winning the track and field title at the Asian Games on Saturday but the only tension in a disappointing soccer final won by Iran was extra security because of the Iraqi bombing. The last day of full competition ended with Indian probably the happiest team after they beat South Korea in a penalty shootout for the men's hockey gold medal that automatically qualified them for the Sydney 2000 Olympics.
With only one medal left to be decided in the men's marathon on Sunday's last day, China again ruled supreme both in athletics and the overall medals table.
China, which does not have a runner in the marathon, finished the Games with 129 golds, with 15 of them in track and field, making them the region's champions for the fifth straight Games. However their overall medal haul was below the 137 they won at the last Games in Hiroshima in 1994 and far from the record 183 they won at the 1990 Beijing Games. Not even Iran playing with 10 men late in the game could save Kuwait from defeat in the soccer final which Teheran's World Cup squad won 2-0. The eve of the end of the December 6-20 Games coincided with the start of the Moslem holy fasting month of Ramadan which saw Iranian and Kuwait players up at dawn to eat their last meal before the match. The all-Gulf final was also played against the backdrop of a third day of air attacks on Iraq which led to Thai security forces going on to full alert for the gold medal clash. But the match was virtually over within 30 minutes as the powerful Iranians scored goals in the seventh and 27th minutes.
Kuwait's Czech coach Milan Macala fumed about the refereeing saying tough Iranian tackling resulted in a likely broken leg for one of his players in the incident that led to the sending off Iranian Mehdi Madhavikia, a striker who has interested several European clubs. Madhavikia was sent off in the 78th minute after he raised his leg high in the air to make a running interception and felled Kuwait's Ahmad Al-Mutairi. Coach Macala said Al-Mutairi had been taken to hospital with a probable broken leg and criticised poor refereeing by Thailand's Pirom Unprasert. We must have better referees at tournaments like this. I saw many hard fouls which went unpunished," he said. "Iran has a strong team, physically strong, and the referee helped them." A sleepy hurdler, a disappointed pole vaulter and women relay runners gave China the gold medals they needed to guarantee victory over Japan in the athletics. After winning 22 of 43 athletics golds at the 1994 Games in Hiroshima, China had entered the final session of the athletics competition with a narrow 12-11 lead over Japan, but they went on to take the title with 15 golds.
Hurdler Chen Yanhao outclassed the field in the men's 110 metres hurdles followed by Cai Weiyan who took the women's pole vault and the final Chinese gold of the Games went to the women's 400 metre women relay team. China's men and women rowers also kept their nation's red flag flying by completing a clean sweep of all 11 rowing finals with six golds on Saturday morning. The feat was even better than the 11 out of 12 rowing gold medals they won at the last Games in 1994 in Hiroshima where there was a men's eights contest. The Secretary General of the Chinese Olympic Committee, Tu Mingde, told Reuters he setbacks his team suffered in losing the swimming title to Japan and not living up to expectations in other events was because of a young and inexperienced team. He also took solace from the drug-free image that China has earned at the 13th Games after the scandals that involved 11 of its athletes in Hiroshima. "Winning medals is important for athletes, of course, but it's not the only thing," Tu said. "Our athletes have learnt a lot about winning fairly and sportsmanship."
India wrote the closing chapter to the last full day of comeptition with its first Asian Games men's hockey gold for 32 years, defeating defending champions South Korea on penalties. The match ended tied 1-1 after extra time and India went on to win the shootout 5-3. South Korea was left dejected and even suffered the humiliation of having their captain sent off in extra time. The Indian team rushed to embrace goalkeeper Ashish Ballal, who stopped two of South Korea's penalty shots, as they finally regained the title last won when Bangkok held its first Asian Games in 1966. India's veteran captain Dhanaraj Pillay said he would continue with the team until the Olympics and said his side has a real chance of winning gold there as well. Ashish Ballal is the best goalkeeper we have and he is the hero," Pillay said.
Iran, Kuwait set up Middle East final
By: Michael Battye|
Copyright of Reuters
Kuwait beat Thailand 3-0 on Wednesday to set up a final against favourites Iran, 1-0 winners over China, at the Asian Games. It took the Iranians 49 minutes to break down a tough Chinese defence built around Fan Zhiyi of English first division side Crystal Palace. Ali Mousavi pushed home a rebound from a low, hard freekick into the penalty area by Bayern Munich's Ali Daei. It took the Kuwaitis only 25 seconds to crack the Thais in their semifinal. They struck again early in the second half and just before the end. The hard-working Thais lacked the guile, and a little slice of the miracle that got them to the semifinal, to crack the defence of the Gulf champions. "You can't give goals away at any stage of the game, but we shot ourselves in the foot," said Thailand's English coach Peter Withe.
The Thais were rocked -- and the crowd of more than 60,000
silenced -- straight from the kick-off as Husain Alkhodari rose at the far post to head a
cross from Ahmad Almutairi into the corner of the net across a furiously scrambling
goalkeeper, Chaiyong Khumpian.
The tough-tackling Thais threw everything they had at
the Kuwaiti defence but conceded another goal in the 54th minute as Bader Alhalabeej
floated in a lovely cross which Faraj Laheeb headed in for his ninth goal of the
tournament to take sole possession of the competition's top scorer slot.
The Thais' fate was sealed in the 74th minute when
Phatanapong Sripramote was sent off after collecting his second yellow card for a rough
tackle and the Kuwaitis put the icing on their cake with a third goal just before the end.
The Thais, 2-1 victors over South Korea in extra time in the quarter-finals despite having two men sent off, managed to worry the Gulf champions on several occasions but could not get the ball into the net. In the 32nd minute, Kritsada Piandit moved on to a sweet pass just inside the area and blasted a shot that looked sure to be the equaliser, only for a Kuwaiti defender to block it. Thailand came close again on the stroke of half time as Tawan Sripan fired in a low cross and the Kuwait defence just managed to scramble the ball away as three attackers descended on it.
Kritsada suffered another blocked shot when he should have scored in the 82nd minute and almost immediately Kiatisuk Senamuang should have got a consolation goal but failed to get the ball under control when unmarked eight metres from goal. Iranians needed no luck against China who were playing without on-the-spot advice from coach Bob Houghton who was serving a one-match suspension for dissent in the quarter-final. Iran always looked the better of two tired sides and it was a surprise they did not score more.
A toothless Chinese attack without main striker Hao Haidong, suspended for two games after being sent off for spitting at an assistant referee in the 3-0 quarter-final win over Turkmenistan, rarely threatened the Iranian defence. Iran had most of the possession and limited a Chinese team with four European-based players to breakaways. But the Iranians clearly missed the prompting from the back of injured defender Mohammad Khakpour and with Karim Bagheri of German second division Arminia Bielefeld having a poor game, Daei had few chances to add to his eight goals in the tournament. The Iranians, who beat China 2-1 in a second-round group match with Bagheri dominant in the midfield, have now beaten China four times in a row, including two wins in the qualifying rounds for the 1998 World Cup in France. China rarely looked like derailing the Iranians, even when they sent Fan Zhiyi, the best defender in Asia according to Houghton, into attack in the last few minutes.
Their best chance fell to Yang Chen, who plays in Germany with Eintracht Frankfurt. Fan Zhiyi put Yang clear with a glorious 50-metre pass but the striker blasted the ball straight at Iranian goalkeeper Behzad Gholampour who made a comfortable save. But for most of the match, the Chinese were too busy in defence to look like scoring.
Iran Arms Dealer Sentenced 5 Years
By Sonja Barisic|
Associated Press Writer
NORFOLK, Va. (AP) -- A federal judge sentenced an international arms broker to five years in prison and fined him $125,000 for developing a ``shameful'' scheme to sell F-14 jet parts to Iran.
Parviz Lavi, 62, threatened national security with his actions, Judge Rebecca Beach Smith said Tuesday.
``You have been the architect of the majority of your problems even after you pleaded guilty,'' the judge said, n oting that Lavi failed to fully cooperate with authorities investigating the scheme.
Lavi, who received the maximum sentence, also will have three years of probation after he leaves prison.
A New York-based Iranian native who became a U.S. citizen, Lavi pleaded guilty to conspiring to violate the feder al Arms Export Control Act. Authorities said he led a scheme to buy the American-made parts and sell them for use in Iran's fleet of 79 of the aging fighter jets.
Export of the parts requires a license, and the federal government has not granted such licenses for sales to Ira n since that country's revolution in 1979. Iran bought the jets from the United States before then.
During the sentencing hearing, prosecutors played excerpts from recorded telephone conversations in which Lavi ar ranged to buy samples of F-14 engine parts from a government informant.
Thomas Radermacher, a U.S. Customs agent, testified that investigators found that Lavi intended to pay $25,000 fo r the parts and sell them for $115,000.
Two other men also have been convicted in the scheme.
Tony Zar, a former Lavi employee who cooperated with investigators, pleaded guilty to conspiracy and was sentence d in October to three years probation.
Robert Cassidy, a Houston businessman who also used to work for Lavi, was convicted of conspiracy and is to be se ntenced Jan. 8.
U.S. Removes Iran From Its Drug List
By Thomas W. Lippman|
Washington Post Staff Writer
President Clinton removed Iran from the government's list of major drug-producing countries, telling Congress that Ir an has virtually eliminated cultivation of the opium poppies that produce heroin.
The president's action means Iran will no longer be subject to the annual review process known as "certification," in which selected countries must be certified as cooperating with U.S. efforts to combat drug trafficking or face the l oss of U.S. aid and other economic sanctions.
Senior officials said Iran's removal from the so-called "majors list" after 11 years will have no immediate effect be cause the country, which is still listed by the State Department as a major sponsor of international terrorism, recei ves no U.S. economic or military aid. The United States will continue to vote against loans or grants to Iran in mult ilateral lending institutions such as the World Bank, officials said.
State Department and White House officials said Iran was dropped from the list because it no longer met the standard for inclusion set by Congress. Officials said the decision was unrelated to the administration's effort to improve re lations with Iran.
"It's not as if the president winked at some details in order to reach out to the Iranians," one administration offic ial said. "But we don't mind if they read it positively."
In cutting Iran from the list, the president brushed aside a warning from two senior Republicans in Congress, who sai d in a letter last week that any such move would be "not based on substantive grounds related to drug control but on the speculative hope that such a unilateral gesture will win diplomatic points in Iran for some anticipated rapproche ment. This is the triumph of hope over experience," wrote Sen. Charles E. Grassley (Iowa) and Rep. Benjamin A. Gilman (N.Y.), chairman of the House International Relations Committee.
Grassley and Gilman said the administration has provided "no convincing evidence" Iran has cut drug production or tra fficking.
Clinton, however, said in his notification to congressional leaders that a U.S. survey "found no evidence of any sign ificant poppy cultivation" in areas of Iran where poppies were grown in the past. Iran is an important transshipment point for drugs headed to Europe, mostly from Afghanistan, but Clinton said there is no evidence that those drugs are headed for the United States, a standard set by Congress for inclusion on the list.
Iran has set up 168 interdiction checkpoints on its border with Afghanistan and constructed "berms and other fortific ations" in an effort to stop the flow of heroin and opium out of Afghanistan, an administration official said, citing United Nations data.
A country must be put on the U.S. list if it has 2,540 acres or more of opium poppies or coca plants under cultivatio n or if it is a "significant direct source" of drugs to the United States. Iran did not fail either test, U.S. offici als said, basing their assessment on satellite reconnaissance and extensive surveys by intelligence and law enforceme nt agencies.
Clinton also removed Malaysia from the list, which now includes 27 countries plus Hong Kong. Among them are 16 in the Western Hemisphere, including Mexico, the Dominican Republic and Haiti, dramatizing the exposure of the United State s to the flow of narcotics from neighboring countries.
In addition, Clinton listed Cuba, the Netherlands Antilles, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua as "areas of concern," noting, "Geography makes Central America a logical conduit and transshipment area for South American dr ugs bound for Mexico and the United States, and . . . there has been evidence of increased trafficking activity in th is region of the last year."
Khatemi's Remarks to Students Stir Ire of Iran's Conservatives
Iran's powerful conservatives have slammed President Mohammed Khatemi for staunchly defending his "civil society" pro gram, taking direct aim at the popular moderate leader for the first time.
In a series of public statements and press commentaries, the conservatives blasted Khatemi's question-and-answer sess ion Monday with a university crowd hungry for social and political reform, accusing him of playing partisan politics and defaming the divine values of the Islamic Revolution.
Several analysts said the commentaries signaled a confrontational stance by the conservative establishment, fueled in part by Khatemi's success in curtailing their political and economic clout. The mounting tensions have prompted one Khatemi ally to call for mediation by Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has final say in all affairs of state.
Habibollah Asgaroladi, secretary of the traditionalist Islamic Coalition Society, condemned the president today for n ot reining in students' demands that he rapidly implement the reform platform that brought him to power in May 1997 w ith 80 percent of the vote. Chief among the students' demands are freedom of expression and grass-roots democracy.
Conservatives also were outraged by the president's suggestion that a whiff of fascism could be detected in their cla im of a monopoly on the legacy of the 1979 revolution.
"We are giving advice to the president with goodwill. Mr. Khatemi is the president of the whole nation, not just the president of a group of people who insult and abuse the divine values," Asgaroladi said at a meeting of the Coalition Society, which includes powerful merchants and their clerical mentors.
"The president's answers to some insulting questions were not appropriate. . . . His remarks have caused concern amon g religious people, scholars and the press," he said.
An editorial in the hard-line daily Resalat declared: "Mr. Khatemi, you must know that you are the president of 60 mi llion people who live Islam and the revolution. You must not let a political faction, with guidance from foreign radi o services, degrade you to the level of an opposition leader."
Other conservative publications carried similar commentaries.
In a rare flash of emotion during Monday's session with students, Khatemi denounced his conservative critics for seek ing to monopolize the revolution. "Are you the only revolutionaries? Who says Islam and the revolution are only what you claim?" the president asked to enthusiastic applause.
The heated rhetoric comes amid rising social and political tensions in Iran, inflamed by slayings of cultural and pol itical figures, an attack on a bus-load of visiting U.S. businessmen and muscle-flexing by hard-line elements.
Iran Closes Activist Newspaper
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- A court on Monday fined and temporarily shut down a newspaper headed by Iran's leading wom
an activist, Iranian television reported. |
The decision was part of a crackdown on several liberal newspapers by hard-liners in the judiciary. It reflects the conservative clergy's efforts to thwart moderate President Mohammad Khatami's efforts to open up society b y allowing a free media.
The report did not say why the penalties were imposed on the newspaper Zan, owned by Parliament member and wome n's rights advocate Faezeh Hashemi. Only last Tuesday, a court cleared Hashemi of publishing untruths.
Hashemi and court officials were not immediately available for comment.
The report said Hashemi, the daughter of former President Hashemi Rafsanjani, was fined about $830 and prohibit ed from publishing for two weeks.
Hard-liners in the judiciary have shut down six other publications in recent months and detained six journalist s for allegedly publishing lies.
The court on Monday also fined the proprietor of the newspaper Bavar, Mirza Baba Motahhari-Nezhad, $1,000 and b anned him from publishing any newspaper for six months.
Iran's press is battleground for the country's future
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- Waving old copies of the banned liberal newspaper Tous, Iranian youths at a pro-democr
acy rally shouted as if they were fans at a soccer match: "Give us back the freedom paper!"
"Freedom, forever!" they yelled, their voices getting louder and angrier.
"Yazdi, resign, resign!" they chanted, referring to Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi, who as the head of the nation 's powerful judiciary is behind the closure of about half a dozen newspapers and the arrests of several journal ists.
Iran's newspapers are at the center of the battle between President Mohammad Khatami and the hard-line cler ics who oppose his efforts to liberalize government and society.
The newspapers do not just cover the news, they are the news.
Since Iran has no formal political parties, most of Tehran's 37 papers have become stand-in parties -- each with its own platform -- in what has become the liveliest debate about democracy the country has ever seen.
The moderates claim about a dozen newspapers, the hard-liners at least five including Shalamcheh, which ref lects the extremist views of the Ansar-e Hezbollah -- a vigilante group that regularly breaks up pro-democracy rallies and attacks dissidents.
The outspoken Tous, closed down in September, has become a symbol of the struggle for a free press. Its edi tor, Mashallah Shamsolvaezin, says the liberal papers started after Khatami's election are being attacked by ha rd-liners to undermine the president.
"They were unable to fight him directly, so they attacked his achievements to weaken him," said Shamsolvaez in, whose paper's 300,000 circulation made it the second largest in Iran.
Shamsolvaezin, who was jailed along with three colleagues, said 30 vigilantes stormed his newspaper in Sept ember, blindfolded them and made them stand against the wall.
"It was very uncivilized," he said at his Tehran home shortly after his release, a month after he was arres ted.
Tous' struggle to survive is typical of how the battle over Iran's future is being fought.
The paper began publishing with the name Jameah after Khatami became president in August 1997. A court orde r, alleging libel and fabrication of stories, closed it down last June. It reappeared under two other names -- Tous and Aftab-e Emrouz -- after being given new licenses to publish by the Ministry of Culture and Guidance, which is under Khatami's control.Each time it was shut down by the judiciary, which is run by the hard-liners.
The paper was first closed after it reported that the commander of the Revolutionary Guards Corps, Gen. Rah im Safavi, told his troops in a private meeting to "cut out the throats and tongues" of the liberal press. But Tous had a stormy relationship with the hard-liners from the start, partly because it questioned the ab solute powers of Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
The paper was closed for good June 16, a day after Khamenei ordered the judiciary to get tough on newspaper s he claimed had abused press freedom. Several other publications, including the lively Rah-e Now, also were cl osed. Shamsolvaezin has refused to apologize for questioning Khamenei's absolute powers and demands to know the l egal reason his paper was shut down.
"The constitution stipulates that the leader is like any other citizen before the law," he said. "What did we do wrong? What did we violate? Give us a constitutional reason why and where we acted against the law."
But even some moderates say Tous went too far in attacking the right-wing clerics.
"Tous marched ahead with a sharp object and plunged it right into their stomach," said Abbas Abdi, editor o f the liberal daily Salam.
Some journalists say Tous miffed Khamenei because it ignored an unspoken rule of Iranian newspapers -- dedi cating the top of the front page and a few inside columns to news about the leader and senior clergymen.
But Ali Movahedi Savoji, a hard-line member of Parliament, says the judiciary acted completely under the la w in banning Tous.
"Over the past year, we gave them 114 warnings that they were violating the law," Savoji said. "The press i s free, but at the same time laws have to be obeyed."
Shamsolvaezin viewed the situation differently. "We have freedom of expression in Iran," he said. "But the problem is freedom after expression."
Iran implies U.S. had role in dissident deaths
Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali
Khamenei, on Monday implied that the United States was behind the recent disappearance
and killings of dissident
intellectuals, Tehran radio reported.
The bodies of three secularist writers have turned up in recent weeks. A fourth dissident is missing and feared dead.
The deaths, and earlier murders of an opposition leader and his wife, have demoralized Iranian society and raised questions about moderate President Mohammad Khatami's ability to bring promised social and political changes.
Members of Iran's small secularist community charge they are being targeted to undermine the president's liberal reforms. But religious hard-liners have looked outside their borders to find the cause of the deaths.
U.S. intelligence services were trying to "block the progress of Iran's Islamic system through creating insecurity," the radio quoted Khamenei as saying.
"World arrogance directly or indirectly commits crimes like the recent murders," he was quoted as saying.
Khamenei called on security authorities to investigate the murders of Iranian authors which would "undoubtedly unveil the hands of the enemy."
His remarks follow a recent statement by Iranian parliament members that accuses an Iraq-based opposition group and international intelligence services of carrying out the killings. Since the string of mystery deaths, several Iranian secularist writers have gone into hiding.Firouz Gouran , the editor of the banned monthly Jame'eh Salem, or Healthy Society, said on Monday many of his colleagues had left their homes or adopted special security measures.
"This has spread panic everywhere," he said. "Whenever I hear footsteps from downstairs, I see the specter of death before my eyes."
Two of the murdered authors were among a group summoned to a revolutionary court in October for trying to restart a banned union of writers and journalists.
Despite pledges of prompt action and high-level inquiries, no one has been charged in the deaths.
Khatami has created a task force to probe the killings, the official news agency IRNA said on Monday.
"This special task force is seriously in action with the help of all police and security forces," it said.
Iran arrests suspects in dissident killings
Iranian police have arrested the first suspects in a series of dissident murders that has frightened many moder
ates into hiding, state radio reported Monday.
Iran radio quoted an unidentified judiciary spokesman who confirmed the arrests, but gave no details.
Three writers and two political activists have been killed in recent weeks, while two other dissidents remain m issing.
Moderate Iranian President Mohammad Khatami has pledged to bring the killers to justice and has assigned a spec ial task force to the case, the official IRNA news agency said Monday.
The deaths have demoralized Iranian society and raised questions about Khatami's ability to bring promised soci al and political changes.
Members of Iran's small secularist community charge they are being targeted to undermine the president's libera l reforms.
They are demanding that the religious clergy, which has the highest power in Iran, bring an end to the violence .
"Enough talking; arrest the murderers," said the daily Zan, published by leading moderate Faezeh Hashemi, a dau ghter of former President Hashemi Rafsanjani.But religious hard-liners have looked outside their borders to find the cause of the deaths. U.S. intelligence services are trying to "block the progress of Iran's Islamic system through creating insecurity," he told Tehran radio.
"World arrogance directly or indirectly commits crimes like the recent murders," he was quoted as saying.
The United States condemned the murders, calling them an attempt to stifle free expression.State Department Deputy Spokesman James Foley said Monday the incidents "point to a pattern of violence and int imidation" against those who disagree with the government.
Since the string of mystery deaths, several Iranian secularist writers have gone into hiding.
Firouz Gouran, the editor of the banned monthly Jame'eh Salem, or Healthy Society, said many of his colleagues had left their homes or adopted special security measures.
"This has spread panic everywhere," he said. "Whenever I hear footsteps from downstairs, I see the specter of death before my eyes."