December 17, 2017

Iran Watch – February 2, 2009

[spoiler title=”Iran’s Ahmadinejad Endorses Another Holocaust Denial Conference”]

By Larry Derfner, Mideast Watch

The Obama administration’s expressed intention to try direct diplomacy with Iran has been rebuffed, at least publicly, by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who demanded an American “apology” for past injustices against his nation. Now, in another statement unlikely to win friends in Washington (not to mention Jerusalem), Ahmadinejad has again cast his lot with Holocaust deniers, sending a message of encouragement to a Tehran conference titled “Holocaust? A Sacred Lie by the West.” The official Iran News Daily reports:

“Zionists are plundering nations’ resources and their wealth by making use of politicians and political parties as well as dominating most of the world’s power, wealth and media sources,” said the president in a message sent to a conference on Holocaust held in the Sharif University of Technology in Tehran . . .

President Ahmadinejad added that the Zionist regime is the “illegitimate child” of the Holocaust phenomenon.

Doubts raised about U.S.-Iranian diplomacy

While Washington is given high marks for good intentions, doubts are being expressed about the chances that American diplomats can persuade Iran’s leadership to give up its pursuit of nuclear weapons. Commentator Randa Takieddine writes in the London-based Al Hayat newspaper:

It is true that there is a reformist current that wants dialogue with Washington, and another, hard-line group, which rejects this. However, all of the factions in the Islamic Republic insist on obtaining nuclear weapons. Iran looks at Pakistan, a Sunni country that has nuclear weapons, and is thus determined to not abandon enrichment, whatever it obtains from the new U.S. administration.

Obama goes back into Arab world’s good books

Obama’s election was greeted with elation in the Arab world, but that enthusiasm cooled as he kept mum during the Israeli war in Gaza while waiting out President George W. Bush’s term. However, Obama’s Muslim-friendly interview with the Dubai-based satellite TV station Al Arabiya, combined with his prompt dispatch of Lebanese-American diplomat George Mitchell to the Middle East, has raised his stock back up in the Arab world. Commentator Abdullah Iskandar writes in the Beirut-based Al Hayat newspaper:

The new American president did not hurl direct criticism at the current situation of the Arabs and Muslims; neither did he specify what is required from them, since he wanted his message—with the arrival of his envoy to the region—to be smooth and non-sensitive. However, he did not miss to say—in an implicit and diplomatic manner—that people “regardless of their faiths” must “share the same dreams and aspirations” and the ability to achieve them, thus making a clear distinction between terrorism and the point of view defending the national and humanitarian interests in the Arab and Muslim worlds.

View Source Here [/spoiler] [spoiler title=”Iranian opposition celebrates losing EU ‘terror’ tag] (AFP) – Jan 27, 2009

BRUSSELS (AFP) — The exiled Iranian opposition on Tuesday celebrated being taken off the EU’s terror list and called for the United States to do the same, arguing it is Tehran that should be sanctioned.

“The European Union has conceded to the rule of law,” Maryam Rajavi, the president of the the People’s Mujahedeen of Iran (PMOI), told reporters as a crowd of supporters thronged to celebrate victory outside the main EU buildings in Brussels.

“The time has come to place the illegitimate regime on the terrorist list,” she added.

The European Union struck the main Iranian opposition group in exile from its list of terrorist organisations Monday but refused to rule out future action against it. EU foreign ministers, meeting in Brussels, rubber-stamped a decision to drop the PMOI from the blacklist, bringing an end to a long legal battle, even though the move has angered Tehran. The Luxembourg-based Court of First Instance ruled last month that the EU had wrongly frozen the funds of the opposition group and violated its rights by not justifying why it was placed on the list. It was the third such ruling by Europe’s second-highest tribunal. It may not be the end of the story for the group, which was placed on the terror lists in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States. France has announced that it would appeal the tribunal’s ruling. The EU’s move to drop the PMOI from its terror list followed a similar legal battle and result in Britain which has done the same. However, the group remains on the US list and is now turning its eyes to the new US administration of President Barack Obama to remove the “unjust label” of terrorist group.

“The PMOI should be removed from the United States terror list, this is the best policy even for negotiations with the mullah regime,” said Rajavi, referring to Iran.

“The new US administration must not give more concessions to the mullah regime. The new government must stop them with regard to their project for nuclear weapons and the war-mongering in the Middle East and the oppression of the Iranian people.”

Iran on Monday angrily condemned the EU’s removal of the PMOI from its terror blacklist, accusing the bloc of “encouraging terrorism.” Brussels police estimated that some 2,000 supporters turned out for the noisy celebration in the Belgian capital, far fewer than the organisers had predicted but enough to close down part of the road outside the European Council building.One of the organisers, Shahid Gobadi, estimated that 15,000 supporters had taken part in the celebrations throughout the day.

“I think the policy of appeasement has been crushed,” he said. “The wheels of change will start now.”
Rajavi was joined at her platform by European parliamentarians who have supported her group’s cause over the years, with interventions from British, Belgian, French and Italian lawmakers among others. For one of those, European Parliament vice president Alejo Vidal-Quadras, the removal of the group from the EU’s black list put an end to an ignominous chapter in EU history.

“Today I feel proud to be a European, because during all this fight I was not so proud sometimes,” he said.
Founded in 1965 with the aim of replacing first the shah and then the Islamic clerical regime in Iran, the PMOI — led by Rajavi, who lives in France — has in the past operated an armed group inside Iran. It was the armed wing of the France-based National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) but it renounced violence in June 2001.

View Source Here
[/spoiler] [spoiler title=”Press conference in support of PMOI in Brussels”] January 31, 2009

NCRI – Text of speech by Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, President-elect of the Iranian Resistance at press conference held by the International Committee in Search of Justice (ISJ) in Brussels on January 27

Mr. President,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Finally, justice prevailed.

The European Union conceded to the rule of law. The unjust label on the PMOI has been removed. Seven years of political and legal campaign by parliamentarians, jurists and the Iranian Resistance have borne fruit. A major obstacle for change and establishment of democracy in Iran has been removed
This is an exceptional moment in European history. Victory of law over petty economic interests. Victory of Justice over appeasing religious fascism. Removing the PMOI from the list. sends a strong signal to the Iranian people as it encourages them in their struggle for freedom.
I congratulate this development to those who suffered the most because of this unjust label: the Iranian people and the residents of Ashraf City.

I take this opportunity to commend pre-eminent European jurists, especially the Right Honourable Lord Slynn of Hadley, for their invaluable contribution to this campaign. I also thank PMOI’s lawyers, Jean Pierre Spitzer and David Vaughan.
I extend my profound gratitude to The European Committee of “In Search of Justice”, led by European Parliament Vice President, Dr Alejo Vidal Quadras, and British committee for Iran Freedom led by Lord Corbett and other parliamentary committees in France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands. Luxembourg, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, the European Parliament and members of parliaments in Finland, Czech Republic and other countries for supporting the Iranian Resistance in this campaign. In this historic moment Let us commemorate late Lord Russell Johnston and Lord Renton.

View Source Here [/spoiler] [spoiler title=”Cyprus stops Iranian arms ship to Syria-report”] Reuters
January 30, 2009

JERUSALEM, Jan 30 (Reuters) – Cypriot authorities have detained an Iranian ship en route to Syria with a cargo of weapons, Israel’s Haaretz newspaper reported on Friday.

Quoting a European Union diplomatic source, it said Cyprus had acted after Israel and the United States requested that the Cypriot-flagged vessel be stopped.

Authorities contacted the ship and demanded that it dock in Limassol for inspection. Customs officials had unloaded part of the cargo and a large amount of weaponry, including artillery rounds and rockets, the paper said.

Cypriot authorities declined comment.

Israel believes the weapons were destined for the Lebanese Islamist guerrilla group Hezbollah or for Islamist Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip, Haaretz quoted Israeli sources as saying.

On Wednesday, U.S. military officials said personnel from the U.S. Navy vessel San Antonio last week boarded the Cypriot-flagged “Monchegorsk”, a cargo vessel travelling from Iran to Syria, and found a weapons shipment but for legal reasons did not confiscate the cargo.

The officials declined to say what kind of weapons were found or how many. They also would not be specific about where or when the incident occurred.

It was unclear whether this was the same ship which Haaretz reported had been apprehended by the Cypriot authorities.

Officials in Washington said the search was conducted as part of the U.S. Navy’s normal maritime security role in regional waters that stretch from the Arabian Sea to the Mediterranean.

The U.S. officials said the arms could not be shown to violate U.N. weapons sanctions against Iran and the vessel was allowed to continue on to Syria.

The incident came to light amid media reports that the U.S. navy has been ordered to intercept suspected Iranian shipments to rearm Hamas following Israel’s 22-day Gaza offensive against the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas.

[/spoiler] [spoiler title=”Egypt attacks Iran and allies in Arab world”] (Reuters) – Egypt aired its grievances against Iran, the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas and the Lebanese Shi’ite group Hezbollah, saying they worked together in the fighting over Gaza to provoke conflict in the Middle East.

“(They tried) to turn the region to confrontation in the interest of Iran, which is trying to use its cards to escape Western pressure … on the nuclear file,” Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit said in an interview with Orbit satellite channel broadcast Wednesday.

Aboul Gheit also said that Egypt undermined Qatar’s attempts to arrange a formal Arab summit on Gaza earlier this month, arguing that it would have damaged “joint Arab action.”

“Egypt made the summit fail… This summit, if it had taken place as an Arab summit with a proper quorum, would have damaged joint Arab action. We can see what others do not see,” he said.

The interview was broadcast Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning and the state news agency MENA carried excerpts.

The comments are the first acknowledgement by Egypt that it actively sought to prevent the Doha summit on January 16, which was the subject of a bitter tug-of-war between rival Arab states.

It also indicated that a reconciliation meeting in Kuwait last week between Egypt and Saudi Arabia on one hand, and Qatar and Syria on the other, had only a short-term effect.

Qatar failed to win enough support to hold a formal Arab League summit on Gaza but it went ahead anyway with an informal consultative meeting of Arab leaders.

The wrangling reflected deep divisions between Arab governments. On one side Saudi Arabia and Egypt, wary of the Islamist group Hamas in Gaza, favored discussing Gaza at a separate economic summit in Kuwait a few days later.

Diplomats say Egypt resents the Qatari challenge to its traditional role as leading Arab mediator and dislikes the influence of the satellite television channel Al Jazeera, which is based in Doha and owned by the Qatari government.

“Some people imagined that a satellite channel could bring down the Egyptian state, without realizing that Egypt is much stronger than that,” Aboul Gheit said.

“Egypt is very big and has extensive influence despite attempts to influence this stance and role, whether in the Al Jazeera channel or other channels,” he added.

The Egyptian minister also criticized Hamas for what he called its coup against the forces of the Palestinian Authority in the Gaza Strip in 2007.

(Writing by Jonathan Wright; Editing by Samia Nakhoul)
View Source Here [/spoiler] [spoiler title=”Ahmadinejad: The Revolution Is Not Confined to Iran”] January 31, 2009

In a speech at Khomeni’s mausoleum on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that the revolution was not confined to Iran alone, and that, even after 30 years, it was alive and would continue until “justice is inculcated [in the world].” He added that the Iranians were only in the beginning of their road and were still facing great changes.

Source: IRNA, Iran, January 31, 2009 [/spoiler] [spoiler title=”Iran rebels resist leaving Iraq, fear for future”] (Reuters) – Iranian opposition exiles informed that they are no longer welcome in Iraq say they will not go willingly and intend to use legal means to fight any attempt to drive them out by force.

“If I will go back, I will face torture and execution,” Farhad Eshradhy, 51, told Reuters from Camp Ashraf, the base of exiled guerrillas from the People’s Mujahideen of Iran (PMOI).

“The position of the Iraqi government, it is entirely illegal,” he said by telephone. “If they are going (to close the camp) by force, there is going to be legal reaction.”

The fate of 3,500 Camp Ashraf residents, most of whom have been living there or in similar camps for 20 years, has been in question since Iraq took over Ashraf from U.S. forces this year.

Iraq’s Shi’ite leaders, friendly with Tehran, want it closed within two months, but say it will not be done by force.

Human rights groups say closing Ashraf and driving residents out against their will would violate international human rights law. They see it as a test of whether Iraq can meet its legal obligations as a member of the international community.

Iraq’s national security adviser Mowaffaq al-Rubaie met diplomats from 12 Western countries on Tuesday to plead for them to take in hundreds of rebels from the camp north of Baghdad.

“We want to close all the files with our neighbors, and our eastern neighbor Iran sees this as a threat to their national security,” he told envoys from the United States, Canada, Australia and nine EU countries.

He said 35 camp residents have Western citizenship and 914 have acquired refugee status abroad. He asked diplomats to take in those 949 plus others with family ties to their countries.

“You have helped us a great deal in liberating Iraq. Now we need to clear up some of what we have unwillingly inherited from the previous regime,” he said.


The PMOI began as a group of Islamist leftists opposed to Iran’s late Shah but fell out with Shi’ite clerics who took power after the 1979 revolution. Many fought alongside Saddam Hussein against Iran.

The group surrendered its weaponry to U.S. forces after the 2003 invasion of Iraq but its presence remains a source of friction between Baghdad, Washington and Tehran.

In a major diplomatic victory for the rebels, the European Union decided on Monday to remove the PMOI from its list of terrorist organizations. The United States, Iraq and Iran all officially still consider it a terrorist group.

“Our constitution is clear that no terrorist organization can stay in Iraq to threaten our neighbors,” Rubaie said.

He said Iraq has no refugee law, and the Iranians cannot therefore stay in Iraq as refugees.

Asked by a Canadian diplomat when Iraq would shut the camp, he gave no firm timetable but said: “They are a cult, a religious cult. They are brainwashed and they are controlled by a small group of people. We need to detoxify them.”

Camp resident Behzad Saffari called such accusations “psychological warfare” by the Iranian leadership.

“Brainwashed? You can say that all of us are brainwashed: to fight for freedom and democracy in Iran,” he told Reuters.

Ashraf is run military-style, with separate dormitories for men and women, but residents say their pursuits are peaceful.

“We have a university here. They are studying engineering. Some of them are studying literature or music,” Eshradhy said.

An electrical engineer who studied at the University of Maryland, Eshradhy said he came to Iraq 22 years ago to join the fight against the clerical regime in his homeland — and has no place else to go.

“It’s the minimum right of me to be considered a refugee.”

(Editing by Michael Christie)

View Source Here [/spoiler] [spoiler title=”Six Bahais, Christian arrested in Iran: judiciary”] Tuesday, 27 January 2009 .

TEHRAN (AFP) – Iran has arrested six adherents of the banned Bahai faith and a Christian for alleged propaganda against the Islamic republic and insulting Islam, the judiciary spokesman said on Tuesday.”These people were not arrested for their faith. The six Bahais are accused of insulting religious sanctities and the Christian citizen of propaganda against the system,” Ali Reza Jamshidi told reporters.
He said the detainees’ cases were under investigation, but did not reveal their identities or say when they had been arrested.
Jinous Sobhani, the former secretary of Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi’s rights group, is also accused of “propaganda against the system and acting against national security,” Jamshidi said.
Fars news agency reported that Sobhani was arrested in mid-January for links with a Bahai organisation.
The Bahai faith was founded in Iran in 1863 but is not recognised by the government. Its followers are regarded as infidels and have suffered persecution both before and after the 1979 Islamic revolution. [/spoiler]