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February 99, Week 4
|US to Study Pipeline-Across-Iran Idea if Relations Improve||February 25|
|Iran OKs New Intelligence Minister||February 24|
|Iran's Reformers Push on with Troubled Campaign||February 24|
|Demonstrators Break into Iraq's Tehran Embassy||February 23|
|Jimmy Carter's Son Refused Visa to Iran||February 22|
|A 'Rogue State' No More||February 22|
US to Study Pipeline-Across-Iran Idea if Relations Improve
MOSCOW,(Itar-Tass) - Richard Morningstar, special adviser
to the U.S. President and Secretary of State on Caspian energy
resources, told a press conference, held in the Itar-Tass building here
on Thursday, that "should relations with Iran improve, the U.S. side is
prepared to study the possibility of building pipelines across Iranian
territory for the transportation of Caspian energy resources."
Mr Morningstar emphasised that "if relations with Iran improve, and the U.S. hopes that this will happen in the years to come, the U.S. would be able to take a new look at the possibility of transporting Caspian oil across Iran."
Iran OKs New Intelligence Minister
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- The Iranian Parliament today gave an overwhelming vote of confidence to a new intelligence minister whose predecessor quit following disclosures that rogue agents in his ministry killed five Iranian dissidents and intellectuals. |
Of the 224 deputies present in the 270-seat Majlis, or parliament, 197 voted in favor of Ali Yunesi, a middle-ranking cleric who was one of the founders of the Intelligence Ministry after the 1979 Islamic revolution.
There were nine opposing votes and 18 abstentions. Yunesi needed more than half the votes to win.
``We ask God that Mr. Yunesi will be able to manage this important and sensitive ministry with his capable colleagues,'' Majlis Speaker Ali Akbar Nateq-Nouri said after the vote.
Yunesi, who led the investigation into the dissidents' killings, told the Majlis that ``the most important duty of the intelligence network is to provide security for citizens. I mean security for all.''
Yunesi conducted the investigations as a military prosecutor into the killings of writers and dissidents that began in November. The Intelligence Ministry said Jan. 5 that some of its agents had been arrested in connection with the five deaths.
The revelation, which intensified a long-simmering power struggle between moderate and hard-line factions in the government, led to the resignation of Intelligence Minister Qorbanali Dorri-Najafabadi more than a week ago.
Under Dorri-Najafabadi, the Intelligence Ministry was largely under the control of hard-line opponents of the reformist President Mohammad Khatami.
But with Yunesi in charge, Khatami has greater sway over the workings of the ministry. Both Yunesi and Khatami have promised to reform the secretive ministry, which until now has answered to the hard-line supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Yunesi, 45, has held several senior positions, including prosecutor general of the Iranian capital, Tehran.
Iran's Reformers Push on with Troubled Campaign
TEHRAN, (Reuters) - The leader of Iran's reformist bloc on Tuesday defied
the latest challenge to his candidacy in this week's local elections, saying a successful campaign
was vital to President Mohammad Khatami's political reforms.
Abdollah Nouri, a former Khatami interior minister, told a news conference the local councils -- spelled out in the 1979 constitution but never implemented -- were key to the president's bid to end centuries of centralised power.
"The local council elections are the most important result of the Khatami presidency. This is more than a mere election, this is a fundamental development in the country's administrative structure," said Nouri, a mid-level Shi'ite Moslem cleric and newspaper editor.
"The councils will pass power down the country's governing pyramid, leaving issues of national importance to the top level of government," he said.
Earlier, Nouri said he would ignore a final attempt by a conservative-led oversight board to disqualify him and 11 other members of the leading pro-Khatami slate of candidates in the February 26 polls. "This makes no difference to me."
Khatami and his allies, including Nouri and other members of his Great Coalition slate, are looking to the council races to break the grip of the central clerical establishment and accelerate social and political reform.
But the project has been dogged by persistent attempts by conservatives, backed by the hardline parliamentary leadership, to bar prominent reformers from the race.
That effort appeared to grind to a halt with a ruling late on Monday by an arbitration committee that the candidates in question be allowed to stand.
The decision followed protests by leading Khatami supporters and fears that the proposed disqualifications would doom the polls just days before Friday's vote.
Deputy Interior Minister Mostafa Tajzadeh, in charge of the polls, told Iranian newspapers the committee had voted unanimously to nullify an earlier disqualification order by the oversight panel.
"The committee ruled that the candidacy of contenders already approved cannot be rejected," Salam newspaper quoted him as saying.
The arbitration committee was created earlier this month to break a deadlock between the ministry and the oversight board over who should be allowed to stand for election.
Tajzadeh said around 900 hopefuls barred by the oversight panel across Iran would be allowed to take part after all. "All the candidates who have been rejected without any reasons should be allowed to run."
The banning orders cited various grounds for disqualifying candidates, from technical violations to alleged lack of faith in Islam and the supreme clerical leadership.
Among those targeted were Nouri, as well as influential student activist Ebraham Asgharzadeh and Khatami's former adviser on press affairs.
On the ground, the row over candidates has done little to dampen enthusiasm for the polls, at least in the heavily politicised capital Tehran.
The bearded face of Nouri, who heads at least two major reformist slates, is dotted around the city on wall posters and leaflets.
Candidates of the conservative "Green" coalition, as well as scores of independents, are vying for the attention of the voters.
Demonstrators Break into Iraq's Tehran Embassy
TEHRAN, Iran (Reuters) - Iraqis protesting against the murder of a senior Shi'ite cleric
in Iraq last week broke into the Iraqi embassy in Tehran in the course of
rowdy demonstrations Tuesday, witnesses said.
A press attache at the embassy told Reuters that six people managed to climb into its compound before they were expelled by staff. Police did practically nothing to prevent demonstrators from getting close to the embassy, he said.
He said Iranian and Iraqi protesters smashed windows with stones and damaged the embassy gate as they tried to get in.
"After one hour, they brought brigades to disperse demonstrators," the attache said, adding police had failed to provide adequate security. "If they wanted to, they could have stopped them getting close to the embassy."
Iraqi demonstrators had gathered in front of the United Nations headquarters in Tehran, where they condemned the murder in the Iraqi town of Najaf of the Ayatollah Mohammad Mohammad Sadeq al-Sadr, a senior Shi'ite Muslim cleric, and his two sons.
Iraqi opposition groups said the murders provoked widespread unrest among Shi'ites in southern Iraq who suspect the government murdered the cleric, whose Friday prayer sermons drew large crowds.
But Iraqi authorities have denied any complicity in the deaths. Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf said on Tuesday he suspected U.S. involvement in the murder of Sadr, the third prominent Shi'ite religious leader killed in Iraq in less than a year.
Jimmy Carter's Son Refused Visa to Iran
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- Iran has refused a visa to the son of former
President Jimmy Carter, who broke diplomatic ties with Iran in 1979, the official Islamic Republic
News Agency reported today.
The agency quoted an unnamed source as saying that James E. "Chip" Carter III, who was to lead a group of Americans to Iran in May, was refused a visa because of his "past record." It did not elaborate.
About 25 former Peace Corps volunteers who served in Iran in the 1960s and 1970s were expected to participate in the trip to Iran. The news agency did not say whether they had been granted visas.
The younger Carter was quoted by an Iranian newspaper, Sobh-e Emrouz, as saying that the delegation does not represent the government and has a "tourist agenda."
He is vice president of the International Development with The Friendship Force, a nonprofit group based in Atlanta. He was not immediately available for comment.
President Carter was in office when the Islamic Revolution ousted the U.S.-backed shah's government in Iran and took power in 1979.
In November that year, Iranian militants stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and took 52 Americans hostage. The event led to the severing of diplomatic ties between the two countries.
A 'Rogue State' No More
By Nora Boustany|
Washington Post Foreign Service
As far as the State Department is concerned, Iran is no longer a "rogue state."
"We have changed the tone of our language. We no longer call Iran a 'rogue state,' and we no longer say things such as 'Iranian behavior.' Such is the language of tutelage, not statesmanship," according to John Limbert, a State Department official who offered an insider's view on how Washington is trying to disentangle the knots of mistrust with Tehran. "The use of the term 'rogue state' may make for a good sound bite, but it doesn't make for good policy," he said.
Limbert works in State's Bureau of African Affairs. Senior State Department officials at the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, which deals with Iran, said yesterday that Limbert's comments, delivered at a conference at Georgetown University commemorating the 20th anniversary of the Iranian revolution were "definitely cleared" and "reflected U.S. policy." Limbert, who was held hostage during the 1979 American Embassy takeover in Tehran, is fluent in Persian and served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Iran in the 1960s. He also worked as an English teacher in Shiraz, Iran, from 1969 to 1972.
"Amid the conflicts and confusing signals, there are signs of change, of a break in this 20-year cycle of mistrust," Limbert told the conference of academics and Middle East specialists, which was sponsored by the Middle East Institute and the Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding. Limbert also said that the United States was modifying the laborious visa application process for Iranians that "contradicted our oft-repeated statement that we have no quarrel with the Iranian people."
He noted that the relationship is not going to change overnight but will take time and effort, although U.S. officials are now addressing Iranian audiences more directly and frequently through the Iranian media and other outlets. For example, the Washington correspondent of the Iran News, a Tehran daily, reported extensively on Limbert's speech.
Although Limbert voiced praise for Iran's "great cultural tradition," he pointed out that U.S. sanctions against Iran "do less damage to the Iranian economy than some of their own misguided economic policies."