Reply Wed 3 Sep, 2003 12:08 am

Political blow to Iranian president
By Jim Muir
BBC's correspondent in Tehran

The vote was more a signal to hardliners than to Khatami

Iran's reformist president, Mohammed Khatami, has received a setback in the country's parliament after his nominee for higher education minister was rejected.

President Khatami had argued strongly for Reza Faraji-Dana following the resignation of the outgoing minister in the wake of campus disturbances and student arrests in July.

A strong and decisive yes vote, he told parliament, would mean a show of support for the reformist government's policies in the fields of science and research.

But when it came to the vote - and despite its own reformist majority - the parliament, or Majlis, gave Mr Khatami the thumbs down.
Just a little news, as the world turns...
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Reply Sat 20 Sep, 2003 08:47 pm,3604,1045979,00.html

Britain, Germany among nations trying to deal privately with Iran, due to their refusal to play nice with the IAEA. Iran balks. Now, it seems Europe is sidling up to the US in our harder line towards Iran.

Would appreciate any insights into the ramifications, if any, of what is brewing in Iran.
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Reply Sun 21 Sep, 2003 05:31 pm

This is right up there with Iraq and N. Korea when it comes to importance. Thanks for the link but I have let Iran slip off my radar scope for a while. I simply must gather more current info.

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Reply Sun 21 Sep, 2003 05:41 pm
Looking forward to your analysis, JM. The turn of events seems significant to me, also.

I'm surprised that I keep having to seek out foreign sources for current Iran news.

Any others with interest, please chime in. Smile
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Reply Sun 21 Sep, 2003 05:44 pm
Just a quick question or two:

What Carrots or Sticks might Iran respond to? Should we make sure Iran possesses these and that they are not mere phantoms a la Saddam Hussein type WMDs?

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Reply Sun 21 Sep, 2003 09:06 pm
They are obviously not interested in technological advancement--(the recent carrot offered by Brits, Germany and Russia in 'payment' for Iran allowing snap inspections of their nuclear facilities.)

I'll have to read more, too, but I do think we should verify what they are holding, before we start figurring out how to wrassle for it.

I have to admit, I don't have a bead on Khatami, or the desires of the current ruling few in Iran. I know they seem to be holding on to their government by a slim thread--but I don't know how they plan to parlay nukes into a good thing, rather than a reason for us to do an "Iraq" on them.
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Reply Sun 21 Sep, 2003 09:27 pm
The Saudis published a government report of sorts in which for the first time they considered getting their own nuke, too ...

The stated alternatives were, I believe, 1) find a new strategic ally with nukes, 2) get our own nukes, 3) create a nuclear-free middle east (which would include israel, i assume).

Is there an A2K thread about that already? It was on the front pages here last week ...
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Reply Sun 21 Sep, 2003 09:39 pm
Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

Friggin' Saudis.

I haven't seen a link to the story on the main boards. (Doesn't mean BBB couldn't have thrown one up that settled to the bottom quickly. She brings a lot of international news items--it seems most of it doesn't get more than a response or two, if that.) Evil or Very Mad

We, of course, have the generic Saudi thread. I wish someone would start keeping an update thread on Iran and Saudi, Afghanistan, etc---people don't seem interested. nimh-- I didn't see it in our papers--but I've been distracted of late.
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Reply Sun 21 Sep, 2003 11:02 pm
I'm sure it didnt get half the attention in the US media as it did here. Its like that, alas.

I'll see - at an unspecified further date, cause I dont feel like promising anything - if I can dig up some English-language link about it that has roughly the same info. Cause the alternative would be to translate the Dutch newspaper's story about it, and tho I've translated stuff often enough, I already got a little stack of stuff like that on the desk - and instead of starting work on any of it I keep getting distracted by already existing topics ;-)
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Reply Sun 21 Sep, 2003 11:52 pm
There's been attention, but it hasn't been trumpeted. The Wire Service reports are there, and the foreign commentary can be hunted down, but so far its received scant mainstream editorial push here. Who knows ... the memos that will light the fire under this could be stuck in the clutter of someone else's desk.
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Reply Mon 22 Sep, 2003 04:11 pm
Well, I found last Thursday's "De Volkskrant", which had the Saudi story on the front page. Turns out it was derived from a The Guardian report.

The Guardian article refers to "a strategy paper being considered at the highest levels in Riyadh", apparently leaked to the newspaper, that "sets out three options":

· To acquire a nuclear capability as a deterrent;
· To maintain or enter into an alliance with an existing nuclear power that would offer protection;
· To try to reach a regional agreement on having a nuclear-free Middle East.

The article doesnt mention (or even hint) at how the newspaper got hold of the strategy paper in question or what the status of the paper would be.

It does add that "It is not known whether Saudi Arabia has taken a decision on any of the three options. But the fact that it is prepared to contemplate the nuclear option is a worrying development", and quotes "a senior UN official watching worldwide nuclear proliferation efforts" as saying: "Our antennae are up [..] The international community can rest assured we do keep track of such events if they go beyond talk."

The rest of the report is experts speculating on why it wouldnt be a surprise if the news was actually true.

The Saudis have meanwhile emphatically denied the story. The Saudi government's Information Office in Riyadh called the story "baseless and totally false", insisting that: "Reports that the kingdom is seeking nuclear, biological or chemical weapons are motivated by malice and have no grounding in the truth" (, while the Saudi embassy in London emphasised that "The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is not considering acquiring a nuclear bomb or nuclear weapons of any kind [..] There is no atomic energy programme in any part of the kingdom and neither is one being considered." (Reuters Alertnet).

Reuters also notes that:
A diplomat familiar with the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) told Reuters in Vienna the IAEA had no information that would back up the Guardian article.

Diplomats there also said it would be highly unusual for a country to permit any such plans to be leaked to a newspaper.

Loads of other links on this topic to be googled up, but they all refer back to the Guardian article as source, and mostly - ironically enough - rely on the line of motivation-focused speculation that has previously characterised the US administration's assessments of the danger of an Iraqi nuclear weapon programme. for example refers to

Sir Timothy Garden, an associate fellow with the New Security Issues program at the London-based Royal Institute of International Affairs [who] said the Saudis have the motivation and money to put together a WMD program. "It seems to me entirely plausible," Garden told
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Reply Fri 10 Oct, 2003 06:10 pm
Was going to post about the Iranian writer, human rights activist and dissident (and woman) Shirin Ebadi winning the Noble Prize today, but BBB already posted an article about it as a new thread that covers most of the ground. Highlights:

AP wrote:
Ebadi, who also is known for her writings, was Iran's first female judge [..] and served as president of the city court of Tehran from 1975-79. Forced to step down as a judge after the Islamic Revolution in 1979, she has since been an activist for democracy and the rights of refugees, women and children. [..]

Ebadi, who is often sharply criticized by hard-liners and conservative clerics, was arrested in 2000, spent about three weeks in jail after a closed trial, and given a suspended sentence. [..]

"I'm a Muslim, so you can be a Muslim and support democracy," Ebadi told Norwegian television from Paris. [..] The [Noble Prize] committee also lauded Ebadi for arguing for a new interpretation of Islamic law that is in harmony with vital human rights such as democracy and equality before the law.

The NRC Handelsblad article that I read also had this:

NRC wrote:
"We hope that the prize will be an inspiration for all those who fight for human rights and democracy in her country, in the Muslim world and in all countries where that fight needs inspiration and support", so the Noble committee.

The Iranian government declared itself "happy" with the prize. It declared that it hoped to be able to use Ebadi's "expertise".
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Reply Fri 10 Oct, 2003 06:39 pm
Anyone recall the 1994 winner of the Nobel Peace Prize?
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Reply Fri 10 Oct, 2003 07:16 pm
timberlandko wrote:
Anyone recall the 1994 winner of the Nobel Peace Prize?

Now why am I guessing that you're referring to Arafat? (Who got him together with Rabin for their common attempt at a peace treaty, btw, not because the committee deemed Arafats past particularly praiseworthy).

I'm guessing that you're referring to Arafat, even though I cant actually think of anything that Ebadi and Arafat would have in common.

Yeh, they're Muslim ... and thats ... about it, I think.

So the fact that I'm guessing you're referring to Arafat probably says more about (my perception of) you than about Shirin Ebadi <nods>.

Les' try again, though - Aung San Suu Kyi, wouldnt that sound like a more obvious parallel - what do you think?

(I kept guessing, btw, because clicking your link made my computer crash - but thats most likely to do with my computer - does that, sometimes. Just I'm not going to try again! ;-)
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Reply Fri 10 Oct, 2003 07:22 pm
I thought the Iranian government reaction, as quoted by the NRC, was hilarious btw. They must have been so embarassed ...

Not to drive the point home, but here's some more highlights:

As an attorney, she represented families of writers and intellectuals killed in 1999 and 2000, and worked to expose conspirators behind an attack by pro-clergy assailants on students at Tehran University in 1999. [..]

"It's a great victory for Iran, for human rights militants in Iran, for Iranian democrats in Iran," said Karim Lahidji, president in exile of the Iranian League for Human Rights and vice president of the Paris-based International Federation of Human Rights Leagues.
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Reply Fri 10 Oct, 2003 08:16 pm
Sorry about the crash, nimh. Here's the text of the page:

Click on banner to return to Nobel Prize Internet Archive homepage


1994 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate

for his efforts to create peace in the Middle East.
Chairman of the Executive Committee of the PLO
President of the Palestinian National Authority.

Born: 1929
Residence: Palestine
Book Store
Books about Yasser Arafat
Featured Internet Links
Prize co-recipient: Shimon Peres
Prize co-recipient: Yitzhak Rabin
Nobel Prize acceptance speech

Search WWW Search The Nobel Prize Internet Archive

Nobel News Links
Editorial on 1994 Peace Prize
The Nobel after Arafat
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Links added by Nobel Internet Archive visitors
Yasser Arafat's Johannesburg "Jihad Speech" (submitted by Carl Berg)
CNN: Arafat arrives in Hebron (January 19, 1997)
CNN: Peres, Arafat meet in Washington (Apr. 30, 1996)
CNN: Arafat says 'peace train' must keep going (June 4, 1996)
Historic Handshake photograph
The Palestine Home Page
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President Arafat (submitted by Mohammed Jaber)
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A master terrorist
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Honoris causa degree in University of Liege (submitted by Didier MOREAU)
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Beit-Jala City Home Page (submitted by Saleem Matar)
The Truth of the palestinean land (submitted by Ziad)
The Country of Palestine (submitted by Mazen Hejleh)
Arafats letter to Rabin (submitted by Ferdinand Buitenhuis, web editor)
Arafat, Yasir war criminal in Lebanon (submitted by Tony K. Haddad)
Let's take back Peace Prize from arch-terrorist (submitted by Am Yisroel)
Ariel Sharon is A war criminal (submitted by Jason Stanton)
Online petition to Revoke the Nobel Peace prize from Yassir Arafat "The General" (submitted by Furious peace activist)
Nobel committee regrets peace prize for Peres (Norway Today 8-Apr-2001)_
Editorial on 1994 Peace Prize
Yasser Arafat actually won the Nobel Peace Prize (submitted by Nicky)
Yasser Arafat - Nobel Lecture (submitted by Hendry Izaac Elim)
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Yasser Arafat
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No parallel between 1994's laureate and today's ... just a mention of one among many who have won the Nobel Peace Prize.
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Reply Sat 11 Oct, 2003 08:36 pm
OK, thanks for the reproduction, seen it now, you can edit it back to size.

Yasser Arafat won the Nobel Prize together with Peres and Rabin, in fact - in alphabetical order. Noble committee press release at the time only mentioned their part in the 'peace process', nothing else about their persons.

Kinda like how both David Trimble and John Hume got it in 1998 for the N-Ireland peace process. Or how both Nelson Mandela and F.W. de Klerk got it in 1993 for the one in South-Africa - even though de Klerk had had a long career in the Apartheid's ruling National Party behind him. Or, in fact, like how Begin and Sadat got it together back in the '70s.

Hell, even Kissinger got it once in such a deal, together with Le Duc Tho.

'S been pretty much standard procedure for statesmen who seemed to have pulled off a crucial peace / reconciliation agreement. Some have lasted (S-Africa), some have not (Israel, but also N-Ireland, kinda), and in all cases, seeing how peace treaties bring together people who used to be warring, those who got it included some with blood on their hands. 'S in the nature of things, and hardly reflects a bias this or that way except for a bias towards peace treaties (what, with the name of the prize an' all).

Also winners of the Noble Peace Prize, however, have been:

- Rigoberta Menchú Tum
- Aung San Suu Kyi
- The 14th Dalai Lama
- Elie Wiesel
- Desmond Tutu
- Lech Walesa
- Mother Teresa
- Andrei Sakharov
- Martin Luther King
- George C. Marshall
- Albert Schweitzer
- Woodrow Wilson
- Theodore Roosevelt

You can pick your parallel with the Iranian dissident who got it this year, perhaps, and then with that we could also return to the topic. (I didnt really see what the Arafat quip had to contribute there, even as a rawther transparent insinuation to discredit the value of getting the Nobel Prize awarded).

Now if you think for some reason Ebadi got it unjustifiably, or for the wrong reasons, that would be interesting again. And then I'd stop being pissy, too :-)
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Reply Sat 11 Oct, 2003 09:22 pm
Actually, I think Ebadi's Nobel Prize is a good thing ... much the same as was Aung San Suu Kyi's. It has discomfitted her nation's government ... much as in the case of Suu Kyi. Both prizes were deserved, even while both were political statements on the part of the Nobel Committee. I do hope Ebadi 's award brings about better results, for herself and for her nation, than so far have Suu Kyi's, or Arafat's, or, for that matter, the Dalai Lama's.
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Reply Sun 12 Oct, 2003 11:07 am
OK, perhaps I should explain my annoyance about Timber's off-hand bit of associative logic in a way that Roundtablers will easily understand. Because I realise it may well have come across as quite an overreaction. Les' make it another digression.

If I were a Communist in 1982, and Lech Walesa just received the Nobel Peace Prize, and I were a little bit clever, I would have merely commented: "yeh - and you people remember who got it in 1973, right?" - with a link to info about Kissinger (generally hated and despised by anyone left of Helmut Kohl).

Now my guess is some of you would, like me, have found that an annoying if not offensive reaction. Because the agenda behind it would have been so clear: to belittle the Polish anti-communist dissident getting a prize like that - by belittling the prize itself, through associating it with a "bad" person (taking the occasion on which he'd gotten it out of context to do so).

I picked up on something like the same trick here, and hence my reaction. Only thing I cant figure out is, what would the agenda be here? Ebadi is an enlightened Muslim, a strident, democratic opponent of the Khomeini'ans - what would there not be to like for an American conservative? One answer is: there was no agenda, it was just a random remark that happened to push my buttons.

Walter's post, in the other thread, would suggest another answer, one I hadnt thought of: "this a signal as well: strenghtening the opposition is a better alternative than e.g. war!". And fbaezer called it "a wake up call that peaceful chance is Iran is possible, for both self-righteous Qöranholding mullahs and self righteous warmongering cowboys."

Now, first off, I dont know if that logic holds - on the same count, would one have had to consider Sacharav getting it a sign that peaceful change was possible for the 1970s Soviet Union? Mwaaah ...

But would the same "signal" make (American conservatives) instinctually less interested in someone like Ebadi? Of course, I do have this deeply seated prejudice, that always makes me vaguely suspect that, when it comes to news from abroad, (American) conservatives somehow seem more eager to find what they can fear, hate or fight - or at best, what they can rescue & liberate - than what they can respect, admire, support and trust in. Those would be the conservatives who, when they think of Eastern Europe, cannot remember the name Vaclav Havel but will contentedly recall that those were 'the countries that Ronald Reagan liberated', say.

How's it work here?
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Reply Sun 12 Oct, 2003 03:33 pm
Works pretty well, I figure. I had no malicious intent, but I prolly coulda been more clear. My point was that it was a gesture unlikely of directly fulfilling its purpose. I forget sometimes how little it takes to press some other folks buttons and set them off, I guess. My own triggers have safety interlocks. That aside, nothing says I can't go off half-cocked myself. I just try to make that a little less likely.
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