June 1998, Week 1
|Khomeini's Grandson Calls for Unity||June 5|
|List of Iranian players for world cup submitted||June 4|
|Croatia 2, Iran 0||June 4|
|Iran President to Visit New York||June 4|
|U.S. Condemns Iran Bombings||June 4|
|Iran World Cup Socer Team Troubled||June 3|
|Iran minister to answer for reported Murdoch visit||June 3|
|In Iran, Soccer's a Political Football||June 2|
|They Won't . . . They Can't . . .||June 2|
|Moderates, conservatives clash in central Iran||June 1|
Khomeini's Grandson Calls for Unity
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- With the rift widening between supporters and foes of Iran's moderate president, the grandson of Ayatollah Ruhollah
Khomeini urged Iranians toward unity on Thursday's anniversary of the Islamic revolutionary's death. |
Speaking to a crowd at the religious leader's gold-domed shrine outside the capital, Hassan Khomeini called President Mohammad Khatami t he best proponent of his grandfather's teachings.
``Today, Khatami is the man who is providing the best assistance for the thoughts of Imam Khomeini and the current leadership of the cou ntry,'' the young Khomeini said. ``Khatami is establishing the pillars of the thinking of the Imam in the society.''
Like President Khatami, Hassan Khomeini is a hojatoleslam, or mid-level cleric. Both wear black turbans identifying them as direct desce ndants of Islam's Prophet Mohammed -- an important sign of political and religious prestige in this overwhelmingly Shiite Muslim nation.
While appearing to voice support for the moderate president, the younger Khomeini, thought to be in his mid-20s, also invoked a familiar theme of the Islamic revolution that Khatami has tried to soften: anti-Americanism.
``Whoever talks about relations with the U.S. government ... is far from the thinking of the Imam (Ayatollah Khomeini).''
Invoking the words of his late grandfather, who led the revolution that toppled the pro-American Shah in 1979 and installed a fundamenta list government, Hassan Khomeini declared: ``Relations with the United States are as (impossible as) relations between the wolf and the lamb.''
That brought the crowd to its feet in the revolution's battle cry of ``marg bar Amrika'' -- ``death to America.''
Khomeini died in 1989. Khatami, a relative moderate who was elected president a year ago in a landslide victory over the revolution's ha rd-liners, has advocated dialogue between the Iranian and American peoples -- but not their governments. Khatami attended Thursday's cer emony but did not speak.
The crowd appeared to number in the tens of thousands, not the hundreds of thousands that came in previous years.
Thursday's turnout was about the same size as the one at a rally in Tehran on May 23, the first anniversary of Khatami's election.
But there was an important difference: The demonstrators at Khatami's rally were almost all Tehran residents, many university students.
The throng at the Khomeini shrine, only 12 miles south of Tehran was swelled by contingents bused from faraway cities and provinces.
The crowd -- mostly men, carefully segregated from the women, who were in all-enveloping black chadors -- surged forward during Hassan K homeini's speech and when Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Khomeini's successor as Iran's spiritual leader, appeared. They were held back by stee l-bar fences and Revolutionary Guards.
Every few minutes, young men and boys fainted in the 90-degree heat. Their limp bodies were passed by hands over the heads of the crowd until they could be lowered onto the stretchers.
Among the first to pass out was Mehdi Hosseini, a 15-year-old Tehran schoolboy, who regained consciousness after being fanned with a pos ter bearing the image of Ayatollah Khomeini.
``I've been coming here for several years,'' the teen-ager said. ``I arrived last night and started praying.
``I'm here because Khomeini was a great man who changed history.''
List of Iranian players for world cup submitted
From:Persian Gulf Soccer
Iranian National Team head coach, Jalal Talebi, has announced
that the following players will be representing Iran in the World Cup finals
in two weeks time. Highlighted players will most likely be starting players:
The Iranian National Team is currently in Zagreb (Croatia). Iran will
meet the Croatian National
Croatia 2, Iran 0
RIJEKA, Croatia (AP) -- A spectacular free kick by Robert Prosinecki and a close-range goal by Davor Suker lifted Croa
tia to a 2-0 victory over Iran on Wednesday in a World Cup warmup match. |
Croatia held the visitors in their half of the field through most of the game and dictated the tempo with short, safe passes.
Iran, whose midfield crumbled early, battled stubbornly on defense, winning mid-air duels, but often having to resort to fouls to fend off Croat attacks.
An Iranian foul on Zvonimir Boban, the home side's captain, from a few yards outside the penalty area proved particula rly costly for the Iranians. Prosinecki converted from the dead ball situation in the 30th minute, lifting his shot ov er the wall and into the top corner of the net.
Although mostly outplayed, the Iranians were not without their chances, thanks to quick breaks and long passes down th e wings to their front men.
Khodadad Azizi missed Iran's best opportunity when he fired a 56th-minute penalty kick wide of the goal.
Suker put the game beyond doubt in the 77th minute when he latched onto a loose ball in the box and sent it past helpl ess goalie Ahmadreza Abedzadeh.
The match completed Iran's cycle of warmup games before joining Group F in France with Germany, Yugoslavia and the Uni ted States.
Croatia joins Group H in its first World Cup, with two-time titlists Argentina and fellow newcomers Japan and Jamaica. Before leaving for France, Croatia will play a tuneup match with Australia at home on Saturday.
Iran President to Visit New York
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- President Mohammad Khatami, who has sought a more moderate course for Iran since his election a y
ear ago, plans to visit the United States this fall to address the U.N. General Assembly, a government official said W
Referring to the planned address in September as a ``very important speech,'' the official said Khatami would discuss the position of Muslims in the world and in the United Nations.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Khatami would urge the United Nations to give Islamic nations a permanent seat on the Security Council.
The official's comment was the first confirmation of the planned trip, though such a visit had been rumored for days. The trip would require U.S. government permission, which has never been refused to a head of state for a visit to the United Nations.
During a broadcast interview in January, Khatami called for a dialogue with Americans and more cultural and educationa l exchanges -- breaking through nearly 20 years of hostility.
The United States severed ties with Iran after militants stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979 and held 52 Americ ans hostage for 444 days.
Two previous Iranian presidents have addressed the United Nations since the 1979 Islamic revolution. Both used their s peeches to attack the United States.
The president also will use his trip to meet the 2 million member Iranian community in the United States, the official said. Many Iranians fled their country to settle in the United States and other Western countries after the revolutio n.
U.S. Condemns Iran Bombings
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The United States strongly condemned terrorist attacks in Iran carried out by an outlawed oppositio
n group. |
A bomb exploded at the Revolutionary Prosecutor's office in Tehran, the capital. Officials said at least three people were killed and two injured.
State Department spokesman James P. Rubin noted Tuesday that the Mujahedeen el-Khalq, which claimed responsibility for the attacks, has been designated a foreign terrorist organization by the secretary of state.
The Paris office of the Mujahedeen called Rubin's statement ``an unjustifiable interference in the internal affairs of the Iranian people.'' It said the statement ``was more of the same shameful policy of appeasement of the bloodthirsty mullahs.''
In an earlier statement, the Mujahedeen said the attacks came in retaliation for the killing of its fighters in recent months.
Iran World Cup Socer Team Troubled
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- Iran seems to have four rivals in its opening group at the World Cup: European heavyweights
Germany and Yugoslavia and the improving Americans, plus its own soccer association. |
All three nations in Group F with Iran are listed in the top 11 of FIFA's lastest world rankings. So Iran must o vercome some formidable opponents on the field.
And off it, the Iranians must deal with their own federation, which has changed its administration once and its coach four times since the fall.
That instability has damaged preparation for the country's first trip to soccer's big show since the fall of the Shah in 1979.
Iran took the longest path of any qualifier to get to France '98 (17 matches) and claimed the last place in the 32-team field. Since qualifying, Iran is 1-1-1 against other qualifiers, has scored only two goals and now must get used to another coach.
A series of poor results, topped by a 7-1 thrashing by AS Roma in late May, led to yet another upheaval, this ti me costing Croatian Tomislav Ivic his job.
Jalal Talebi had less than a month to change the side's direction heading into their World Cup opener against Yu goslavia on June 14.
``Officials at the soccer federation are not taking the necessary action, and this has harmed Iranian football,' ' said Hassan Habibi, Iran's coach from 1979 to 1981, who didn't think the coaching change was going to help the team enough.
The Iranian federation has been criticized from many directions.
``In South Asia, when an official makes such big and repeated blunders, he finally commits suicide,'' the Iran N ews said in an editorial. ``But in our sports, it has become the norm that when one makes a mistake, one looks f or a scapegoat to shift the blame on.''
It's not that Iran is devoid of talent. It's three main forwards, Ali Daei, Karim Bagheri and Khodadad Azizi, al l play in the German first division.
Bagheri, who led World Cup qualifying with 19 goals in 17 games, and Azizi, Asia's 1996 Player of the Year, both were named in May to the Asian all-stars.
And Iran has a rising youngster in midfielder Mehdi Mahdavikia, who played a key part in the country's qualifica tion effort and was named Asia's Young Player of the Year.
Daei recently had surgery for a broken cheekbone while playing with Armenia Bielefeld, and the team captain, goa lkeeper Ahmadreza Abedzadeh, had knee surgery in April. But both are expected to recover in time for Iran's firs t game.
Iran's problems started early. After setting a World Cup record with a 17-0 victory over Maldives in the first r ound of qualifying, Iran looked an easy qualifier for one of the three guaranteed Asian places in the World Cup.
It opened the second round 3-2-0, but lost two of its last three games and tied the other to fall into a playoff with Japan for the last guaranteed Asian spot.
Brazilian Valdeir Vierra, originally hired to coach the Olympic team, took over as coach from Iranian Mohammad M ayely-Kohan one day after Iran was beaten 2-0 by Qatar, forcing Iran into the playoff. But it took time for him to improve matters.
The Japanese won the playoff 3-2 in extra time, sending Japan to the Cup and Iran to yet another playoff, this t ime with Oceania champion Australia.
A 1-1 draw at home was followed by a 2-2 tie in Melbourne, which included a dramatic two-goal rally in the final 15 minutes for the Iranians, who qualified on more away goals.
The qualification set off street celebrations in Tehran and led federation officials to think that with the bonu s money Iran receives for qualifying, it could get a big-name coach.
In came Ivic, who took two months to get to know his players.
``Until the end of April we were never a complete team. We were always missing five or six players,'' Ivic said. ``I spent more than two months just discovering my players.''
Now Telebi has to do it all over again -- and in less than half the time.
Iran minister to answer for reported Murdoch visit
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- Iran's hard-line lawmakers, angry at the
moderate president's policy of encouraging visits by Americans,
plan to question the foreign minister, focusing on a reported visit
by media tycoon Rupert Murdoch.
The parliament hard-liners want Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi to explain why certain Americans were allowed into the country particularly Murdoch, whom they view as an ardent supporter of Israel, the Islamic Republic News Agency reported Tuesday.
"Why has the Foreign Ministry granted entry ... to Rupert Murdoch, one of the main pillars of Zionism?" the Majlis, or parliament, asked in a statement carried by the news agency.
However, there is some doubt the Australian-born Murdoch, now a U.S. citizen, was ever in Iran.
Iran's Farda daily said Murdoch was in the country last week meeting with government and soccer federation officials. But Murdoch's News Corp. in Sydney, Australia, has denied any knowledge of such a visit.
Iran does not bar unofficial visits by Americans, but even moderate President Mohammad Khatami says official contacts are premature.
IRNA did not say when Kharrazi would appear before parliament. The 270-seat house is dominated by conservatives opposed to Khatami's political and social reforms.
A U.S. wrestling team and several U.S. academics have visited Iran since January, when Khatami urged cultural and educational exchanges with Americans.
In Iran, Soccer's a Political Football
By: Anne Swardson|
Washington Post Foreign Service
COMO, Italy:Ever since Iran drew the United States as one of its three first-round opponents in the 1998 World Cup so ccer tournament, officials and players in both countries have insisted the event is about sports, not politics.
Unfortunately for Iran, the sports side is having a bit of trouble. The Iranian soccer team is headed to the World Cu p with a mediocre record in its tune-up matches, and with its third coach in five months.
Its only bright light is psychological: The new head coach, an Iranian, has improved the team's morale. On May 23, th ree days after he was named to the post, Jalal Talebi led Iran to a 4-1 victory against Italian League power Inter Mi lan, although Inter Milan was without 13 of its best players -- all of whom had left to train with their nations' Wor ld Cup teams.
"We still have the pressure of the U.S. game against us, but I believe the players will take heart from this," said T alebi, who was promoted from technical advisor to head coach immediately after Iran lost an exhibition match to Itali an League club AS Roma, 7-1.
An Iranian whose residence is in Palo Alto, Calif., Talebi most recently has coached the Tehran-based pro team Bahman , the Indonesian Olympic team and pro teams in Singapore. He replaced Tomislav Ivic, a Croat who had replaced Brazili an Valdir Vieira as coach only in January. Vieira coached Iran to its first berth in the World Cup since 1978, a year before the fundamentalist revolution that overthrew Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi.
Despite pleas from Iranian and American coaches and players, the United States-Iran game, June 21 in Lyon, could neve r be devoid of politics. The two countries have not had diplomatic relations since the shah was thrown out and rebels held 52 Americans hostage in the U.S. Embassy in Tehran for 444 days.
Political tensions have eased recently, but just a tad, with President Clinton agreeing to waive a sanctions law to a llow a large European oil investment in Iran. The Iranian public, however, is obsessed with beating the United States .
As it happens, though, Iran's other two first-round opponents are not political allies, either. Yugoslavia brings bac k memories of Serb treatment of Iran's fellow Muslims, the Bosnians. And Germany is where a group of Iranians was con victed last year of terrorism for a restaurant bombing, a conviction that led European Union nations to withdraw thei r ambassadors from Iran.
"Sports have always been associated with political life in Iran," said Christian Bromberger, a professor of anthropol ogy at the University of Aix-en-Provence in France who spent two months in Iran this year studying the society and it s national soccer team. "People would grab [Ivic] on the street and say, 'You've got to beat the United States.' "
In an interview, Talebi agreed that the Iranian people want a victory over the United States -- "you can't stop peopl e from thinking" -- but said it was too bad.
"It is a very difficult and sensitive game that we are looking to play with no political reasons," he said. "The play ers are very excited, a little bit shaky, a little afraid. Because it is the United States, it is more pressure for t hem."
Adding to the pressure is that neither team has much of a chance of advancing to the round of 16 without a victory ov er the other.
A sober man with sad eyes, Talebi said he thought hard before accepting Iran's coaching job, and in the end took it o ut only of patriotism. He did not select the team, and said that if it had been up to him, he would have changed as m uch as 25 percent of the roster.
In addition, he said, Ivic tried to change the team too much, radically limiting its attacking style and radically st rengthening its defense. The result, said Talebi, was confusion.
For his part, Ivic told the French sports newspaper L'Equipe before his firing that "our days are numbered," and that if Iran did not change its playing style "we will be laughed at in France."
After he was sacked, he told the newspaper: "For about 20 days, I've sensed a conspiracy behind my back. . . . During my last stint in Tehran, people were telling me to be careful of myself."
In the victory over Inter Milan, Talebi put the stars up front, and it paid off.
Two of the three players who play in the German League -- Ali Daei and Karim Bagheri (both of Arminia Bielefeld) -- s cored, with Daei getting two goals. The fourth goal was by midfielder Mehdi Mahdavikia. Star forward Khodadad Azizi, the other German League player (Cologne), played only the second half, which was when Iran scored all four goals.
In the days before and after the game against Inter Milan, the Iranians bunkered into Inter's training center in the foothills of the Italian Alps, with Talebi pushing to rebuild his team and its solidarity.
"We Iranians are very emotional, we are a very close people," Talebi said. "So when we were together we talked about our feelings, we talked about our problems. It was a release for the players."
Iran's record in the pre-World Cup season has been dismal. So far this year, it has lost five times (against Nigeria, Hungary, two French pro teams and Rome), drawn once (against Chile) and won three (against Jamaica, another French p ro team and Inter Milan).
Talebi's true test will begin June 14 against Yugoslavia, but one more pre-World Cup warmup also looms. It is against World Cup-bound Croatia in Zagreb on Wednesday. It remains to be seen whether former coach Ivic will be there.
They Won't . . . They Can't . . .
By Meg Greenfield|
(C) 1998, Newsweek Inc. Reprinted by permission; all rights reserved
There was a famous article that appeared in the 1960s on the subject of China and its nuclear potential. It was writt en by an authoritative foreign-policy establishment figure, whose words commanded great respect. But what was to make the article so famous was neither the gravity of the subject nor the distinction of the author. It was the compellin g plausibility of its explanation of why the Chinese were not going to develop a nuclear bomb. We all slept better at night -- that is, until a very short time later, when we were awakened by the blast of a first Chinese nuclear explo sion. I remember a wise old bird in the national-security apparatus explaining to me why the article ran off the rail s. It was all pretty much based on the author's own conception of what was in the Chinese national interest, he said -- what was too costly, what took too many scarce resources from other pressing national needs and set back the progr ess that was so important to them, etc. All true, my mentor said, but this was the author's view of what was in the i nterest of the Chinese. It was obviously not the Chinese view of what was in the interest of the Chinese, of what ove rrode what as a priority.
World power or not, we Americans have managed to stay pretty provincial in this regard. We have recently been taken u nawares again by certain momentous developments abroad, the general tumult in Asia and the Indian nuclear tests in pa rticular. Some part of our chronic surprise at the behavior of allies and antagonists alike tends to trace back to mi sperception of the kind reflected in that ancient explanation of why the Chinese were most unlikely to take up the nu clear option: They wouldn't . . . they couldn't . . . not in their interest . . . far too expensive . . . far too dan gerous and they know it. The best illustration of this kind of misbegotten assuming came at the time of the sudden, s tartling August roll-in to Prague, in 1968, by Soviet tanks and troops determined to put down the rebellious dissent. Dean Rusk, the secretary of state at the time, was in the middle of his testimony to the Democratic platform committ ee at the Statler Hotel in Washington. He was interrupted and urgently summoned away to deal with the unexpected news , practically in midsentence.
How, I later asked an administration official, could this have happened? How could the Soviet military action have co me as such a surprise that the secretary was off doing something else? This invasion, after all, hadn't suddenly spru ng out of an impenetrable jungle somewhere. It was Soviet tanks lumbering across Central Europe. And was it not true -- it must be true -- that our intelligence agencies were watching that relatively visible and accessible part of the world all the time? Surely, we had seen the tanks coming, so what accounted for our being taken unawares? The answer was classic and, I am fairly certain, truthful: Well, yes, we saw them, but we thought it was some kind of maneuver or trick because we couldn't believe they were going to do something that risky or dumb.
In the aftermath of intelligence failures, this is one of the commonest explanations. Again and again you will hear t hat someone saw the suspicious traffic, that someone prepared an analysis that was right on the money but not believe d or not acted on because it didn't seem as if the threat was imminent or sufficiently substantiated by other evidenc e. Mostly what you see here is a durable political tendency to let ourselves become captives of our own fixed ideas a nd longstanding perceptions of what motivates other people.
Consider Iran. It was long an article of faith with most of us that the shah, whom the United States was supporting f or strategic reasons in the Middle East, was imperiled by Soviet-connected Iranian opposition in the Tudeh Party that was working assiduously for his overthrow. And no doubt it was hard at work to that end. But by the time the big exp losion came, the Tudeh Party and the American-feared Marxist insurgency were off to the side somewhere. It was a nati onalist/religious fundamentalist fervor that had overtaken the population, mobilized by mullahs and energized by an I ranian religious man who was in exile in Paris and whose picture we had seen in the paper. At the beginning, my frien ds and I made fun of his Bhagwan-like appearance and what we assumed were his megalomaniacal delusions about how he a nd his followers were going to take over the country. But we stopped laughing pretty fast when he did what he said he was going to -- created enough turmoil to updump the shah and sweep away the interim officeholders and assume firm c ontrol of a large, angry, turbulent and profoundly anti-American constituency.
I don't believe the American intelligence agencies were as oblivious to what was rumbling in that society as my frien ds and I were. They couldn't have been. But they were far from grasping the magnitude of what was going on. And this should be considered against the fact that Iran must have been as drenched in U.S. intelligence agents at the time as any place on earth. Here I think the Iranian problem merges into a larger problem we have, as a country, in addressi ng these things. It is that we are too much in thrall to our political formulations and our preconceptions of how thi ngs work, too ready to believe that whatever we see proves them out (until we can pretend this no more), too little a ble even to imagine a political sensibility other than our own.
Many important players in our government thought, in 1961, that the Cuban populace would rise up as one and help us t o topple Fidel Castro. We thought comparable, misguided thoughts about the Vietnamese for a long time. It was our wis dom that the Cambodians were a uniformly gentle, peaceful people who were not capable of fielding a killing faction l ike the Khmer Rouge. People in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union were never going to rise up, at least not successf ully. The Afrikaners would never let go. The Asian "miracle" governments with their formidable economies were going t o take over the world.
Stubborn as we are, we must have learned a couple of things by now. One is that when an angry people decide they have had enough repression, they can take to the street and scare the repressors out. The other is never to trust our ass umptions about what the other guy assumes is best for him.
Moderates, conservatives clash in central Iran
TEHRAN, (Reuters) - Clashes between conservatives and
moderates disrupted a prayer gathering in a central Iranian
city, which has been a site of recent political unrest,
newspapers said on Saturday.
The daily Salam said hardline opponents of Isfahan's moderate Friday prayer leader, Ayatollah Jalaleddin Taheri, clashed with his supporters on Friday, Islam's holy day.
The newspaper said protestors demanded the resignation of Taheri, a key supporter of Iranian President Mohammad Khatami, and also called for the resignation of two key moderate ministers.
Taheri has come under fire from hardliners for his vocal criticism of attacks on moderate newspapers and cinemas showing films deemed immoral by hardliners.
The clashes are part of a sharpening conflict between moderates backing reform-minded Khatami and conservatives fearing the abandonment of Islamic principles.
The daily Farda said thousands of people held a rally in Isfahan on Thursday "in protest against the violation of the sanctity of the month of Moharram by students who applauded and cheered" in support of Khatami in a gathering on May 23 at Tehran University.
Moharram is a Moslem holy month, marked by sorrowful remembrances of a leading Shi'ite Moslem martyr.
Protesters were offended by the festive atmosphere at Tehran University where Khatami gave a speech to mark the first anniversary of his election. It was attended by massive, cheering crowds of students, which contrasted to the more sombre mood of conservative rallies.
The Isfahan protests followed a massive rally in the holy city of Qom earlier in which 20,000 Shi'ite seminary students and teachers marched to protest the festive Khatami rally as "a Western cultural onslaught on Islamic values and beliefs."
A senior conservative cleric, in a rare personal attack on Khatami, said in published remarks on Saturday that the pro-Khatami crowd's clapping and whistling was un-Islamic.
"The president must publicly admit that he has committed an error, or else I fear (he will get) a slap in the face by God and by the people," said Ayatollah Abolqassem Khazali.
Hardliners opposed to Khatami and his supporters have clashed on a wide range of issues since the election, in which Khatami trounced conservative opponents.
Occassionally, the disagreements turn violent, as was the case last Monday when hardliners attacked a rally in Tehran held by moderate students, the latest in a series of assaults on moderate and dissident groups.
Isfahan and the nearby town of Najafabad, the hometown of a senior dissident cleric, have been a hotbed of protest since the cleric, Ayatollah Ali Montazeri, was put under house arrest after he questioned the authority of Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in a speech in November.
Supporters of the dissident Montazeri have held frequent strikes. These were followed by a massive march in support of Khamenei in the city of Isfahan less than two weeks ago.