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Protestors Demand MKO out of Iraq; Nuke Talks to Resume Jan 20

08 Jan 2011 10:21No Comments

Press Roundup provides selected excerpts of news and opinion pieces from the Iranian and international media. Click on the link to the story to read it in full. Tehran Bureau has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy. The inclusion of various opinions in no way implies their endorsement by Tehran Bureau. Please refer to the Media Guide to help put the stories in perspective. You can follow other news items through our Twitter feed.

THE LEAD

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Iraqi Protesters Demand MKO Expulsion

Tehran Times | Jan 8

Iraqi protesters in the north of the country have called for the expulsion of anti-Iranian terrorist group Mujahedin Khalq Organization (MKO) from Iraq.

The demonstrators gathered outside MKO's Camp Ashraf in Iraq's northern Diyala province and demanded that the terrorist group be removed from their country.

Iranian relatives of some MKO members also joined the protesters, calling for the release of their family members who are said to be held inside the camp against their will.

MKO leaders are reported to be using torture and pressure on their own dissident members, barring penitent members from leaving the organization and joining their families.

Iraqis Protest outside MKO's Camp in Iraq

Fars | Jan 7

The group, founded in the 1960s, blended elements of Islamism and Stalinism and participated in the overthrow of the US-backed Shah of Iran in 1979. Ahead of the revolution, the MKO conducted attacks and assassinations against both Iranian and Western targets.

The group started assassination of the citizens and officials after the revolution in a bid to take control of the newly established Islamic Republic.

The group fled to Iraq in 1986, where it was protected by Saddam Hussein and where it helped the Iraqi dictator suppress Shiite and Kurd uprisings in the country.

Since the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, the group, which now adheres to a pro-free-market philosophy, has been strongly backed by neo-conservatives in the United States, who also argue for the MKO to be taken off the US terror list.

Iraqi security forces took control of the training base of the MKO at Camp Ashraf -- about 60km (37 miles) north of Baghdad -- last year and detained dozens of the members of the terrorist group.

The Iraqi authority also changed the name of the military center from Camp Ashraf to the Camp of New Iraq.

EU Says Iran Nuclear Talks to Resume on January 20

IRNA | Jan 7

The next round of talks on Iran's nuclear program is slated to be held from January 20 through 22 in Istanbul, a European Union source told the German Press Agency dpa in Brussels on Friday.

"The meeting has been tentatively scheduled to start on the evening of the 20th, continue on the 21st and to conclude on the morning of the 22nd," the EU source was quoted saying.

Negotiations between Iran and the 5 plus 1 group -- comprising United Nations Security Council permanent members the United States, Russia, France, Britain and China, plus Germany -- resumed in Geneva early last month following a 13-month break.

According to Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili, the issue of uranium enrichment suspension will not be on the agenda when Iran meets the G5 plus 1 in Istanbul.

Jalili said the western strategy of combining dialogue and pressure was doomed to fail.

"There will be dialogue within the framework of cooperation and not pressure," he said.

OTHER NEWS

Armenia Denies Iran Spy Story

Daily Times | Jan 8

Armenia on Friday denied that a US woman reportedly detained in Iran for alleged spying after entering the country from Armenia had ever been to the former Soviet republic.

The woman, identified as Hal Talayan, was initially reported by Iranian media to have been detained after entering Iran with espionage equipment hidden in her teeth.

But later reports contradicted this, saying that she had not been allowed to cross the border between Armenia and Iran because she did not have a valid visa.

Armenia's National Security Service, however, said this was also impossible.

"A person with such a name did not enter and thus never left Armenia," said Artsvin Bagramian, head of the National Security Service press centre.

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Journalist Mehran [Faraji] Held Incommunicado

RAHANA | Jan 7

[Throughout the RAHANA report, Faraji's name is incorrectly given as Mehran Rajabi, a contemporary film actor.--Eds.]

Since the arrest of Mehran [Faraji], a journalist and a member of Karoubi's election campaign, his family has been unable to visit him or receive any information about him.

Mehran [Faraji] was in Qazvin to visit his family when the security forces rushed into their house and arrested him. The officers were in unmarked clothing and gave no grounds for the arrest. They also confiscated his personal computer and books.

His family has been given no information about the premise for his arrest nor they have received any visitation rights. The only information they have received is that their son is being held in Ward 209 of Evin Prison.

Mehran [Faraji] has the work history in media agencies such as ISNA, ILNA, Kargaran Newpaper, Etemade Meli Newspaper and Hamshahri Newspaper.

According to Human Right Organizations, Iran has world's highest incarceration rate of journalists and due to this it has been dubbed the world's biggest prison for journalists.

See also: "Journalist Mehran Faraji Arrested" (RAHANA)

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Student Detainee Arash Sadeghi in Critical Condition and His Right Hand Disabled

RAHANA | Jan 7

Arash Sadeghi's right hand has become disabled after he was beaten by the Evin Prison authorities.

The interrogators of the Intelligence Ministry have beaten and mistreated Arash Sadeghi to the extent that he was transferred to Ward 350 from solitary confinement in critical condition.

He has been suffering from stomach bleeding and lung infection. He had also suffered a dislocated shoulder during his first arrest which has once again been injured. According to witnesses, he is not even able to stand.

Before going to detention, Arash had stated that he will continue his activities in prison and will make the life miserable for those who orchestrated a coup during the elections.

He was pursuing his Masters in Philosophy at Allameh University. He was also a member of the University's Islamic student Association and was sentenced to 5 years in prison in the appeals court.

He was arrested following the disputed presidential elections and spent one year in temporary detention. He was confined in the IRGC run Ward 2A and Ward 209. Despite his release on bail, the authorities raided his father's house a while ago when he was not present which led to his mother's death after she suffered a heart attack.

Sanctions Slow Iran's Warhead Capability

Wall Street Journal | Jan 8

Israel's outgoing intelligence chief said Iran won't be able to build a nuclear weapon until 2015, reflecting a growing consensus among the U.S. and its allies that Tehran's suspected effort to obtain a warhead has been significantly slowed.

Officials in the U.S., Europe and Asia credit, in part, an international campaign that they say has restricted Iran's ability to procure the raw materials needed to build an atomic bomb. In particular, they say, Iran has had difficulty acquiring carbon fiber and a particular high-strength steel, two critical inputs for making machinery used in producing enriched uranium.

These officials say Tehran is stalled in its efforts to deploy advanced centrifuge machines that could drastically accelerate the production of highly enriched uranium, which is needed for a nuclear bomb. Tehran says it isn't trying to build a nuclear weapon.

Reformists Slammed in Tehran Friday Mass

Radio Zamaneh | Jan 7

Iranian hardliner, Ahmad Jannati continued slamming the reformists in the Friday Mass Prayers in Tehran today. The head of Iran's Guardian Council ridiculed Mohammad Khatami's conditions set for the participation of reformists in the elections and said: "The people do not believe in you. Who would vote for you?"

Jannati maintained that the reformists should completely withdraw form Iranian politics.

He accused the reformist of being anti-Revolutionary and using the words of the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, said that they "failed their test" in the past elections.

The Islamic Republic hardliners say that the challengers of Ahamdinejad's victory in the past election were involved in a conspiracy to topple the government.

The opposition however denies these allegations and insists that the ballot was rigged and call for open and transparent elections which they claim is fully guaranteed in the existing constitution.

Afghans Protest Iran Fuel Truck Ban

AP (via Washington Post) | Jan 7

Hundreds of Afghans demonstrated outside the Iranian Embassy in Kabul Friday to protest Iran's blocking of thousands of fuel trucks at the border with Afghanistan, a step that has sent domestic fuel prices soaring as the country's harsh winter sets in.

The unofficial ban on fuel trucks crossing the Iran-Afghanistan border began about two weeks ago, with about 2,500 trucks stuck at the crossing. The move, which Afghan officials have criticized as being tantamount to an embargo, has led wholesale domestic fuel prices to rise as much as 70 percent.

Carrying banners and chanting "down with Iran," about 300 to 400 people marched through the streets of Kabul to demonstrate outside the Iranian embassy.

"It has been two weeks that the government of Iran has been blocking the fuel tankers to Afghanistan, and this comes at a time the Afghan people are going through winter," said Najibullah Kabuli, a former member of parliament.

Iran's Humanitarian Aid Cargo Enters Gaza

Fars | Jan 7

Egypt opened the country's border with the Gaza Strip and allowed medical supplies from Iran to be delivered to the besieged people of the coastal strip.

The Iranian medical supplies are part of the Asian Aid Caravan to Gaza (Asia 1) which is carrying an estimated one million dollars worth of medicine, foodstuffs and toys as well as four buses and 10 power generators for hospitals.

Earlier this week, Egyptian authorities had refused to allow 10 generators donated by the Islamic Republic to pass through the Rafah border crossing.

The relief supplies have been unloaded from a ship organized by the convoy, which has docked at the Egyptian port of El Arish, press tv reported.

The Asian Aid Caravan to Gaza (Asia 1) for Palestinians of the Gaza Strip arrived in the Palestinian territories on Monday.

The Egyptian authorities granted visas to 120 activists but refused entry to several members of the caravan, including seven Iranian MPs.

OPINION & ANALYSIS

Persia's Little Prince

Karim Sadjadpour, Associate, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (Foreign Policy) | Jan 7

For those, like myself, who were born outside Iran or left at a very young age, the term "exiles" was never an appropriate fit. We were second-generation immigrants, and we took it for granted that we would adopt new cultures and languages. We had few if any memories of or claims over what had been lost, only romanticized stories from elders about the verdant Caspian Sea region (shomal), the majestic Alborz Mountains, and the luscious Persian lamb whose fat was miraculously concentrated in the tail -- the original "junk in the trunk."

Alireza Pahlavi's generation of uprooted Iranians -- young adolescents at the time of the revolution -- were often affected more profoundly than those who were too young to remember, or old enough to cope. Three decades later, many still struggle to find their bearings. They negotiate what Brazilians would refer to as saudade, a deep longing for something that is unattainable. Their lack of rootedness has often prevented them from forging stable emotional relationships and fulfilling their professional potential.

I sometimes wondered why Alireza, a serious student who had cut short his Ph.D. studies at Harvard in ancient Iranian studies, remained silent all these years. Although the Pahlavi family's experience as exiles was no doubt softened by significant (though significantly exaggerated) wealth, it was made more difficult by the scorn of many of their exiled compatriots who held them partially if not entirely accountable for their collective plight.

Consumed with his own demons, Alireza perhaps concluded that he had been dealt a hand that he could not win. If he remained on the sidelines he would be excoriated by some for not speaking out. And if he became active and outspoken, others would excoriate him for having Ahmed Chalabi-like aspirations, as they have his older brother Reza.

Why the Pahlavi Dynasty Still Haunts Iranians

Azadeh Moaveni (Time) | Jan 6

[I] wondered why I felt so strongly about how Farah, 72, occupied herself in her elderly Parisian exile. Did it matter much to anyone, let alone Iran? I realized that part of why I cared so much was that she remained the lone figure in the Iranian First Lady department of my mind. We know next to nothing about the wives of the mullahs. Mrs. Khatami, Mrs. Ahmadinejad -- who knows what they even look like, let alone how they spend their time and what they contribute to Iran? The clerical government of Iran denies Iranians a First Family to grow up with -- to admire, to envy, to criticize. We are left to feel our place acutely as outsiders to the clannish, insular fiefdom of the ruling mullahs, undeserving as citizens of even knowing their wives and children.

Perhaps that is why I continue to hold Farah and her family to such high standards. They continue to be the First Family of my imagination, a reflection of my fierce wish to be a part of what happens to Iran, to feel included in a country that no longer has a place for people like me. My expectations of them are oversize, and my anger toward them is studded with grievances against the Islamic Republic, as though the family members are to blame for the three decades of often brutal misrule that followed them.

Iranians these days cannot vent their political opinions in newspapers or on television, so they use the Internet as a forum to say all the things they so urgently need to express about their plight. Reading the posts of young Iranians on Facebook and on the BBC Persian service's website after the news of the suicide came out, I was struck by how so many young people who weren't even born during the Pahlavi era were roused by Alireza's death. Many expressed their sympathy in messages that were remarkable for their emotional and political maturity; they reminded me that living under dictatorship can make young people as wise as 40-year-olds in first-world democracies. (See TIME's best pictures of 2010.)

Many were incensed that anyone might feel sympathy for a Pahlavi. These are the angry Iranians who have given up on the mullahs entirely, for the prospect of meaningful, peaceful change seems a chimerical notion, inconceivable for their generation. Their despair -- over lives disfigured by economic blight, in which simple dreams like finding a job or getting married seem permanently out of reach -- is so easily channeled into fury with the Pahlavis. It is as though they want to scream at them with the bitterness of children accusing a parent, "You let us down, you fumbled, it is all your fault." It is almost a familial dysfunction: so many Iranians rushing like angry relatives at the chance to lay their anger at Iran's fate at the feet of the Pahlavis, whose failure turned Iran over to the mullahs. Decades after the fall of the Shah, the clan remains a politically acceptable target for so many painful feelings.

US Hardliners Lose Ground on Iran?

Robert Dreyfuss (The Diplomat) | Jan 6

[T]he scuttlebutt in Washington is that the Obama administration is now prepared to put a much-improved offer on the table. According to several sources in think tanks, on Capitol Hill and among Iran experts, the United States will offer to allow Iran to continue enriching uranium, on its own soil and with its existing array of centrifuges. That offer, however, will be contingent on Iran exporting the bulk of its enriched uranium for processing outside the country, most likely in Russia, where part of it will be transformed into fuel rods for use in the Tehran Research Reactor (TRR), which is used for medical purposes, and part of it will be reprocessed into fuel for the Russian-built nuclear plant at Bushehr, which recently started up. That latter use could be crucial, since it allows Iran to claim that it's refining and enriching fuel for civilian use in a power plant, not for military purposes.

In exchange, Iran would be required to accept stringent new oversight by the international community, through the International Atomic Energy Agency. In addition, it wouldn't be allowed to expand either the number or the capacity of its existing centrifuges. In any case, according to Iran watchers, the sanctions regime has already severely undercut Iran's ability to manufacture and operate additional centrifuges. And Iran's nuclear programme has also been undermined by what appears to be a devastating covert operations effort--led, it's hard not to presume, by the United States and Israel--that has included the Stuxnet computer virus, a series of assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists and engineers and a campaign of sabotage aimed at equipment and technology used in Iran's nuclear industry.

Were a deal struck roughly along these lines, it would achieve the much-desired win-win outcome for both sides. The United States could claim that it has achieved its primary goal of tougher inspections and verification measures aimed at ensuring that Iran doesn't opt for a military nuclear programme, while creating an ongoing conveyor belt that would take Iran's low-enriched uranium outside the country, where it could be transformed into civilian-use fuel rods. Iran, on the other hand, could claim that it has stood firm, winning the world's recognition of its right to a uranium enrichment programme on its own soil, under Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty terms. Once in place, the deal would allow Iran to insist that economic sanctions imposed by the United Nations Security Council be lifted.

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