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Green Leaders: 'End Rule of Hooligans'; Calls Grow for Monday Rally

08 Feb 2011 23:47Comments

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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Iran in Hands of 'Hooligans,' Say Opposition

AFP | Feb 8

Iran's main opposition leaders charged on Tuesday that the Islamic republic is being run by "anti-religion...hooligans," in a statement on the eve of its 32nd anniversary.

The bitter criticism from Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, once seen as pillars of the Islamic establishment.

"Today, the regime is hiding behind this concern that if it does not exist, religion will vanish and, by repeatedly voicing alarms, it tries to rally and organise the religious strata behind itself," the opposition leaders said.

"But in reality what has hurt the religious atmosphere of society the most is the anti-religion and oppressive behaviour of the regime itself," they said in the joint statement on their websites, Kaleme.com and Sahamnews.org.

"Today the political situation in the country is nothing short of the danger of reproducing monarchism except for hereditary rule," they said.

But "a new discourse has been born...which rejects violence and seeks change peacefully. A discourse which seeks to put an end to the rule of hooligans and instill meritocracy."

Opposition Comes out Swinging as Revolutionary Anniversary Approaches

Los Angeles Times | Feb 8

"Unconditional obedience to power holders is enshrined in divinity and sanctity, refusal to question the rulers is an act of piety and any criticism is ridiculously interpreted as hypocrisy and conspiracy with foreigners and Zionism," read [the] statement.

"Alas, what happened to the election's outcome following a quasi-coup by authoritarians denied the nation its basic right to determine its own fate," the statement continued.

"But the arrest of protesters, roughing them up in the streets, killing a large number of men and women in the streets and detention centers, the student dormitory and Kahrizak scandals, storming the residences and offices of grand ayatollahs, busing in people for staged shows, propaganda campaign, slanders, libels, suppressing laborers, teachers, students, professors and women movements, organizing shameful carnivals and security maneuvers to spread fear, distracting public attention from main issues, immoral treatment of the families of martyrs and prisoners and announcing the death of the Green Movement in different official ceremonies have all failed to save the autocrats from the main challenge they face -- people's distrust of the government."

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Iran's 'Day of Rage'

RFE/RL | Feb 8

Shortly after Mousavi and Karroubi's request [for a rally permit for next Monday] was made public, opposition websites, blogs and social networking sites were flooded with messages of support, pictures, and posters calling on Iranians to take to the streets on February 14 [25 Bahman on the Persian calendar].

A February 14 page created on Facebook is gaining members, both among Iranian expats and Iranians inside the country.

Many Iranians have changed their Facebook profile pictures to a Green picture with the date February 14 written on it.

Slogans are also circulating for what is being described by some as Iran's "Day of Rage," including: "Down with Dictators, Be it In Cairo or Tehran" and "Marg bar Dictatori, Che Shotori, Che Motori" (which translates as "death to dictatorships that are being enforced with camels or motorcycles.") The former refers to Egypt, the latter to Basij forces in Iran that often use motorbikes.

It remains to be seen whether the online activism will translate into action. Many observers express doubt because of the repression and ongoing crackdown. Yet Iranians have shown in the past that they can be unpredictable when it comes to political decisions.

See also: "Greens Seek Egyptian Solidarity March; State Media: Protesters 'Thank Iran'" (Tehran Bureau Press Roundup)

Iranian Reform Party Welcomes February 14 Rally

Radio Zamaneh | Feb 8

The Iranian reformist organization Islamic Iran Participation Front is urging people to join the February 14 rally in support of the Arab uprisings, so long as the government issues a permit.

Islamic Iran Participation Front welcomed the decision by Iran's opposition leaders to stage a demonstration in support of the "democracy-seeking uprisings of the region," calling it a sign of "unity and solidarity of the Iranian people with the people of Tunisia and Egypt," Norooz website reports.

Accused of "activities against national security and propaganda against the regime", the Participation Front is one of the reformist parties that have been banned from political activity in the past year and a half, part of a crackdown on protests against the re-election of Ahmadinejad in Iran.

The reformist group says the Islamic Republic authorities are faced with a "decisive test" that could become a "starting point in resolving the recent political disputes through calm dialogue based on legal provisions."

The reform group argues that denying Iranian people their protest would "completely invalidate all of the Iranian government claims of support for the uprising of the people of Tunisia and Egypt."

OTHER NEWS

Iran Says Dutch Statements 'Irresponsible'

Radio Zamaneh | Feb 8

A spokesman for Iran's foreign ministry has accused Dutch authorities of making "irresponsible statements" regarding the case of Zahra Baharami, the Iranian-Dutch woman who was hanged in Iran on January 29 for drug smuggling, after an initial arrest on security charges.

"It is unfortunate that countries that claim to defend human rights and always try to appear civilized lend their support to judicial cases that concern crime, betrayal or drug smuggling," said Ramin Mehmanparast, spokesman for Iran's judiciary, in a news report by ISNA.

Uri Rosenthal, the Dutch foreign minister, broke off all diplomatic contacts with the Islamic Republic last week, describing Bahrami's rushed execution as "savage" and "shocking."

Iran Accuses Netherlands of Backing 'Terrorists'

AFP | Feb 8

Mehmanparast accused the Netherlands of making "a human rights issue out of an indefensible drug case and applying political pressure" on Iran.

"We can see an example of the wrong path of Western countries, especially The Netherlands, in supporting terrorist groups...who have over 12,000 killings in their records," Mehmanparast said at his weekly press conference.

He was alluding to the Islamic republic's armed opposition, the People's Mujahedeen Organisation of Iran, some of whom live in western Europe as refugees.

"The behaviour of these statesmen is turning their countries into a sanctuary for criminals, smugglers and terrorists."

Iranian Opposition Recruits Disgruntled Revolutionary Guard to Cripple Ahmadinejad

Telegraph | Feb 7

Iran's opposition is targeting the powerful Revolutionary Guard to recruit a cadre of disgruntled officials to carry out a newly launched plan to cripple President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's regime from within its own ranks.

A billionaire opposition leader who has pledged his fortune to the cause of removing the Iranian government and a former senior Guard commander told The Daily Telegraph that dissatisfaction with hardline tactics was rife in throughout the Guards

Amir Jahanchahi, the leader of the exiled opposition group, Green Wave, has teamed up with Gen Reza Madhi to target insiders to undermine the government and its grip on the powerful oil industry.

Leading opposition leaders in the West now believe that disaffected members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps are ready to turn on the hardliners of the regime, under the direction of Mr Ahmadinejad and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

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Pro-Government Media Pitting Mahdavi Kani Against Hashemi

Rooz | Feb 8

Pro-government media in Iran are reporting of the impending candidacy of Ayatollah Mohammad Reza Mahdavi Kani for the position of the chair of the Assembly of Experts on Leadership (Majles Khobregan). According to these reports, Mahdavi Kani is under pressure by a number of political personalities and organizations to compete with incumbent Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani in the upcoming elections for the top position on the powerful body that constitutionally is charged with supervising the work of the leader and appointing one if necessary. Jahan News website, affiliated with Alireza Zakani, a pro-government MP, has referred to increased "speculations in favor of Ayatollah Mahdavi Kani taking the chair position" while at the same time warning of "widespread plans" to "discredit and dissuade" him from this.

This pro-government site has identified the pressure group against Mahdavi Kani's candidacy as "Hashemi Rafsanjani's entourage" and states that just recently this group recruited an entire team of media and political experts to ensure that Ayatollah Mahdavi Kani fails in his candidacy. According to this site, the members of this team are composed of "a number of newspapers editors, some members of the Assembly of Experts, family members of Hashemi Rafsanjani, and high ranking officials of Azad University."

Ayatollah Mohammad Reza Mahdavi Kani is the general secretary of Tehran's Jam-e Rohaniat Mobarez (Tehran Association of Combatant Clergy) and the chancellor of Imam Sadegh University, an educational institute entrusted with the training of high ranking officials for management positions within the Islamic Republic regime. He is also considered one of the most influential clerics in the traditional right wing of the political spectrum as well as among the most trusted officials of Ayatollah Khamenei.

Iran Faces Renewed Afghan Dam Sabotage Claims

Mianeh | Feb 7

Officials in Farah province say repeated attacks on the Bakhshabad hydropower facility are an attempt by Iran to derail a project which would massively boost local energy and water supplies.

In the latest incident, unknown armed men abducted two project engineers in the Khake Safed district on November 26, 2010. One of the engineers was killed and the other was released after a ransom of 100,000 US dollars.

Mohammad Younes Rasouly, the deputy governor of Farah province, claimed the attack was a political act intended to disrupt development in Afghanistan.

"There are foreign elements that are trying to disturb and put at risk construction of the Bakhshabad power plant, so that no company will be willing to implement the project," he said.

"The interference of Iran is as dramatic as the shining of the sun, but who is here to prevent it?" asked Sayed Ahmad Khan, the head of the Farah provincial council.

Iran Finds Way Round Petrol Sanctions

Financial Times | Feb 7

On the face of it, the mathematics are compelling. Iran's fuel-thirsty drivers consume roughly 100,000 barrels a day of gasoline more than the country's refineries can produce.

Scenting an opportunity, the US government last June barred international companies from doing business there if they were found selling refined petroleum products to Iran. The tightened sanctions form part of efforts to force Iran to end its nuclear programme.

Leading international trading houses had stopped selling petrol to Iran in the spring. By October, the US said other groups, such as India's Reliance Industries, Turkey's Tupras, Kuwait's Independent Petroleum Group and Russia's Lukoil had also halted sales.

Yet, in spite of stiffer sanctions, Tehran is finding gasoline on the open market, analysts say. It has diverted production from some of its petrochemical plants and, working through intermediaries, is paying a premium to Chinese and smaller international trading companies outside the reach of the US.

"Do the Iranians have enough gasoline to cope? They really do, they're OK. They saw this coming a long time ago," says Jamie Webster of PFC Energy, an energy consulting firm.

Tehran, Beijing Sign $13b Rail Deal

Iran Daily | Feb 9

Iran and China have signed a contract of around $13 billion to build a railroad network in the Islamic republic.

The contract to build a railroad network extending 5,300 kilometers (3,293 miles) was signed when a Chinese delegation visited Tehran, a statement on the website of the Construction and Development of Transportation Infrastructure Company read.
It did not say when Beijing's team was in the Iranian capital.

"We signed a 130,000 billion rials (around $13 billion) contract to build more than 5,300 kilometers of railroad network," the statement said, quoting the firm's managing director Masoud Rahnama, who did not elaborate on the deal.

China has recently emerged as the largest trading partner of the Islamic republic.

Direct bilateral trade currently stands at $30 billion, IRIB quoted Assadollah Asgaroladi, the head of Sino-Iranian Chamber of Commerce, as saying.

In 2009, bilateral trade stood at $21.2 billion.

Turkey Rules out Heeding US Action on Iran Trade

AFP (via Ahram Online) | Feb 8

Turkey plans no action against Istanbul-based companies implicated in a US case of illegal exports to Iran, foreign trade minister Zafer Caglayan said Tuesday.

"This is America's black list, not ours. We are bound by UN Security Council resolutions" on sanctions against Iran, Caglayan told reporters.

"Turkey has its own laws.... It is out of the question for us to impose any sanctions against those companies or to ban their activities outside the framework defined by Turkish law," he said.

His remarks echoed Ankara's position that it will abide by UN sanctions against its eastern neighbour, but not by tougher restrictions imposed unilaterally by the United States and the European Union.

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More Abuse in Rajai Shahr Prison, Arzhang Davoudi Severely Beaten

HRANA (via Persian2English) | Feb 7

According to HRANA, on Sunday, political prisoner Arzhang Davoudi was stripped naked and severely beaten by security agents. His entire body is bruised and he experiences bleeding.

On February 3rd, Intelligence agents had transferred Arzhang Davoudi from the security ward of Rajai Shahr 'Gohardasht' prison to ward 1 solitary confinement. The reason for the transfer is unknown.

Arzhang Davoudi was arrested on November 2004 for writing the "Secular Iranian Manifesto". He was charged with "Acting against national security".

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Kurdish Post-Graduate Student Arrested

Daneshjoo News (via Persian2English) | Feb 8

Mohammad Ilkhanizadeh, a Kurdish post-graduate social studies student at the University of Tehran was arrested.

He was summoned by the IRGC to appear at their headquarters in Bukan (the county where his family lives, located in the Western Azerbaijan province). When he arrived on Saturday, he was arrested.

According to Daneshjoo News, when his family attempted to inquire on his whereabouts, they were told that he had been transferred. It is believed that he was transferred to Tehran for further interrogations.

Death Row Prisoner's Father: He is Innocent; His Sentence is Revenge Against Me

ICHRI | Feb 8

Zanyar Moradi is a Kurdish prisoner from sentenced to public hanging on charges of moharebeh (enmity against God) and "corruption on earth" whose father, Eqbal Moradi, spoke with the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran from his home in Kurdistan, Iraq. "Unfortunately, Zanyar's mother and I live in Kurdistan in Iraq, and except for my old parents, I have no other relatives in Mariwan. I heard from Zanyar's friends that he has been moved from Karaj's Rajaee Shahr Prison to another location and this has us very worried. I have no news from my son, except through the media. I can't call my parents too often due to security reasons, and all I know is that they visited with my son twice while he was still at the Sanandaj Prison," Moradi said.

Eqbal Moradi is a member of the Kurdish opposition group Komalah. "How can a 20 year old kid be a murderer? My son was arrested 20 months ago and after 17 months he was accused of murder and terror. But the people of Mariwan and even the family of the victim know that Zanyar and a few other kids did not do this. All of Mariwan's people and even the victim's family know that the murderer in this recent case of murders is none other than the regime, and this has nothing to do with the kids," said Moradi regarding his son's charge of assassinating the town of Mariwan's Friday Imam.

"My son had no involvement with politics and only went to school and worked. Zanyar lived with us in Kurdistan, Iraq, until I sent him to my parents due to their physical conditions and loneliness. He was arrested a month after the Mariwan Friday Imam was assassinated. At first I thought the reason for his arrest is my political activities, but several months later we heard through television [news] that he has been named a terrorist along with a few others.... I didn't think the regime would be so eroded to victimize a child."

OPINION & ANALYSIS

Tunisia Could, and So Can We!

Shafagh Ashna (Tehran Review) | Feb 7

This note is [...] an answer to those who follow the course of events in Arabian countries with regret, and compare any success they achieve with what happened in Iran and start complaining: Why could Tunisia succeed but we couldn't? Don't the leaders of the protest movement in Iran have anything better to do than just making announcements? Why didn't we finish off the job on the 25th of Khordad? The people who keep complaining like this are those who were very optimistic last year during the mass demonstration and haven't even taken back their votes and believed that the regime would soon fail. These are the ones who committed violent acts sometimes and objected any peaceful act, all the time willing to direct the rally to the radio and television building or the Pasteur Square. I would like to talk to these people in the following note, so we can have a better understanding of the real state of affairs in Iran.

First I'd like to declare, despite my deep happiness and respect for the people of Arabian countries, that what happened in Iran's streets last year, namely the Green Movement, is far more progressive and has deeper roots. I believe that Iran's movement is somehow the godfather of recent events. Moreover, the Green Movement, whether in the form of street rallies or in people's homes living in the virtual area, is a polygonal movement including people of different types and social stratum. Furthermore, the way Iranian people behaved and what they demanded (taking back their votes), demonstrates a level of relative intellectual maturity at least in the urban area.

They grumble, nag and ask furiously why on earth Tunisian people could kick out the dictator in one week but we haven't succeeded even to take back our votes after twenty-one months? I answer them: Have you ever spotted Tunisia on the map? It is smaller than some provinces in Iran. Its population is less than one million people. No doubt it is possible to finish the job in a week there. However, isn't Tunisia going through a revolution? We revolted 32 years ago and kicked out the dictator. So what happened? Tunisia must follow the same path now. And after all can all the problems be solved by a revolution?

They say: "See how Egyptians are harassing Mubarak! His son has run away from the country. Do you hear them saying Mubarak should go? They sleep in the streets. Have you forgotten that Kyrgyzstan also accomplished the task in one week?" My answer is again: Wait! Wait and see where Egypt will lead to. Have you forgotten what happened last year? An innocent girl walking in Amirabad's alleys was suddenly shot. A young boy was sentenced to death because he threw a stone at the police. More than a hundred people have been executed last month. Don't you remember how the truck rode over people? Don't you remember they called the protesters Mohareb? What does Mohareb mean? It means a person who fights against Allah! Fighting against Allah is definitely more difficult than struggling with Mubarak!

When Khamenei Falls, So Will the Regime

Nooshabeh Amiri (Rooz) | Feb 7

Among the protestors in Egypt, there was a woman sitting on the street holding a placard that read: Thank you Egyptian military for remaining with the nation. And so the scenario that took place in Tunisia repeated itself in Egypt: the military did not side either with the dictator nor the people, but stayed with the country. But have the gentlemen who have usurped the seats of power in Iran and dream of permanently staying there come to the realization that the approach that they have chosen ties everything, the country, to Mr. Khamenei regime and his surrogates? As things stand, when he goes, so does everything else. Does Mr. Khamenei himself realize that when the falling domino arrives in Iran, it will not leave anything standing?

By taking control of all the institutions in the country has Mr. Khamenei not tied their fate and ultimately that of the Islamic Republic regime onto his own? Future events will provide the answer to these questions but till then -- which will not be far away -- is it not reasonable that voices should rise from amongst the institutions and personalities in the Islamic Republic in support of the country, voices similar to those of the army in Egypt and Tunisia? If this does not happen, then what is certain is that this regime will fall when Khamenei, Ahmadinejad and their structure fall.

WYSIWYG [What You See Is What You Get] a Fantasy

Hojjat-ol-Lah Joudaki, Former Cultural Attaché in Iran's Interests Section in Cairo (Iranian Diplomacy) | Feb 8

How many Iranians, even those boasting the epithet of 'regional affairs analyst' are aware of these facts: that the absolute majority of Egyptian Muslims perform their daily prayers, fast during Ramadan, do not swindle, and in general abstain from what is banned by Islamic teachings? Can they accept the fact that Coptic Christians -- who make up fifteen percent of Egypt's population -- follow the same, if not a stronger, virtuous pattern of conduct?

In their post-colonial history, Egyptians have had their share of political upheavals: they have battled with Israel, endured poverty and unemployment, and lived under the shadow of military rule. According to the latest surveys, they are among the most fervent anti-American and anti-Israeli citizens of the region, even if the bitter lessons from history stop them from engaging in another war with Israel.

Whether ordinary citizens or politicians, Egyptians have an accurate perception of contemporary Iran and its 1979 Islamic Revolution. Indeed, they were eager supporters of Iran and its revolutionary zeal. Thirty-two years after the event, the good and bad of the Revolution are laid bare for them to learn from. A survey of books on Iranian affairs authored in Egypt during recent years proves that Egyptians are seeking a different path, one whose main focus is the eradication of autocracy and corruption.

In Iran, what is generally reported as news by various agencies is actually the projection of dreams by the funding political camp. It is the worst type of journalism, which erodes the public trust. Two weeks ago, Iranian state-run TV victoriously ran a piece on Tunisians publicly holding collective prayers after fifty years. Anyone with a tad of knowledge about Arab Muslim countries knows how far from reality such reports are. Collective Friday prayers is an imperative religious practice that was never abandoned by Sunni Muslims. A simple clerk at the Iranian Embassy in Tunis can testify to this fact.

Don't Link Us to Iran!

Mojtaba Sadeghian (Tehran Times) | Feb 9

Many point to the fact that the current uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia are somehow a kind of replay of Iran's 1979 revolution. In addition, the influence of Iran, as a major regional player and as the only state resisting against the Zionist regime, has made many people, especially the poor citizens of the Arab world, recognize the efficacy of Iranian diplomacy and encouraged them to press their repressive leaders to imitate the methods used by Iranian leaders. Unfortunately, some figureheads of the current uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, such as Mohamed ElBaradei and Rachid al-Ghannouchi, have tried to distance themselves from Iran and claim they should not be linked to the Iranian revolution!

Ghannouchi, in an interview with the Financial Times, has argued that he is totally different than Iranian political figures. He even said, "I am no (Imam) Khomeini!" Good luck Mr. Ghannouchi, but this is not the way an Islamic revolutionary defines himself.

[T]he image portrayed by the Western media about Iranians and their leaders, especially after the incidents that followed the presidential election of 2009, has provided anti-Iranian circles an opportunity to undermine Iran's achievements and breakthroughs and to depict the current uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia as non-Iranian, U.S.-friendly revolutions.

This is obviously U.S.-Israeli propaganda meant to decrease the anti-Western sentiments in the region. They realize that if the current protests in these countries end in an Iranian-style revolution, they will suffer a great defeat and will no longer be able to pursue the interests of the Zionist regime in the region.

Thus, everyone knows that any link between Iran's revolution of 1979 and the current uprisings in the Arab world is not a materialistic connection but a meaningful spiritual link that cannot be denied.

Dov Zakheim Spells Out Dangers of the 'Military Option'

Eli Clifton (LobeLog.com) | Feb 8

Former Undersecretary of Defense Dov Zakheim is coming out strongly against an Israeli attack on Iran's nuclear facilities.

Zakheim, a foreign policy hawk, talked to The Jerusalem Post at the Herzliya Conference.

They reported:

Zakheim said in an interview that in his opinion, Israel did not have to attack Iran to stop its nuclear program. Israel, he said, has developed the Arrow 2 ballistic missile defense system, which, together with US Navy Aegis missile defense ships in the Mediterranean, would likely succeed in intercepting an Iranian missile fired at Israel.

"There is less than a 1-percent chance that an Iranian missile will get through these defenses," Zakheim said. "Iran, however, is worried about Israel's alleged nuclear program, and their fear is 100%, so why would they want to take a 1% chance if there is a 100% chance that they will be destroyed?" Zakheim also warned about the potential fallout Israel would face from such an attack. He said that on the one hand, Israel would turn the Iranian people into its "permanent enemy," and on the other hand, an attack could lead to "terrible relations" with the US.

Zakheim's suggestion that the Iranian leadership might be behaving in a rational manner goes against what Iran hawks such as Reuel Marc Gerecht, Jennifer Rubin, and Cliff May argue. More importantly, an assumption of rationality permits a realistic analysis of an Iranian cost-benefit situation. Given Israel's "qualitative military edge," it would seem highly unlikely that an Iranian leadership that values self-preservation would engage in a first-strike nuclear attack.

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