Summary of Iran Stories in Today's BroadcastsBehnam NateghiSunday, February 01, 2004
<b>Political Quake: 123 Reformist MPs Resign to Protest Elections Bans</b>
• Protesting against the Guardians Council's bans on their reelection and the Council's mass disqualifications of reformist candidates, 123 Majles MPs turned in their resignations this morning, following the Guardians Council's publication of the final list of approved election candidacy applicants, in which more than 2,000, or nearly two-thirds, of the disqualifications were overturned, but the majority of bans on 83 Majles MPs were upheld. Reading a joint statement of the resigning MPs, Isfahan reformist MP Ali Mazroui said nearly one-third of the 290 Majles MPs resigned, because they could not uphold the people's right to elect deputies of their choice in the February 20 Majles elections. Twenty-four cabinet ministers and scores of their deputies and provincial governors had resigned, but their resignations were overturned by President Khatami, who dropped out of the scene yesterday due to “back pain,” and avoided presiding over an emergency cabinet meeting which had been scheduled for today. The cabinet ministers and government officials who want to resign should be given a deadline by which to turn in their resignations, anyone who resigns after the expiration of the deadline should be prosecuted with the charge of “corrupt on earth” which carries a death penalty, conservative managing editor of the daily <i>Kayhan</i> Hossein Shariatmadari, who represents the Supreme Leader in the nationalized Kayhan publishing group, write today in an editorial. The authorities' next step is to determine whether to hold the elections, as the conservatives have urged, or postpone it to defuse the crisis, as the interior ministry has suggested. The head of the Islamic Republic law enforcement forces said the police are ready to provide security for the elections. Meanwhile, Majles speaker Mehdi Karrubi asked the Supreme Leader to intervene.
• The reformist MPs had hoped that with their resignations, they would force the Majles to close down, and prevent it from voting on such important bills as the upcoming fiscal year's budget and the government's fourth five-year economic development plan, reported foreign news agencies AFP and AP from Tehran, adding that the earlier 109 resignations were not enough to bring the number of MPs present to below two-thirds of total MPs. (Jean Khakzad)
• In today's <b>Radio Farda Roundtable</b>, which focuses on the prospect of the mass resignations of Majles MPs, Tehran-based lawyer and human rights advocate <b>Mohammad Hossein Aghasi</b> says in order for their action to be effective in closing down the Majles five months ahead of the end of its term, enough MPs should resign to bring the number of MPs present in the Majles below the legal number required for quorum. He says the Majles speaker's appeal to the Supreme Leader is illegal, since according to the constitution, the Supreme Leader has no jurisdiction over such matters, although the conservatives place the Supreme Leader beyond and above the law. The 11-members of the Guardians Council who have created the current crisis represent a power that is beyond their legal authority, he adds. Member of the central committee of the association of the Islamic student councils (Dafter-e Tahkim Vahdat) <b>Hojat Sharifi</b> says: It is not inconceivable that the resignations of the MPs would be approved, because the reformist MPs' decision has been to exit the government and boycott the Majles elections. He adds that there are two analyses about the reasons that Guardians Council moved to disqualify reformist election candidacy applicants, including the Majles MPs, and in effect, eliminate the reformist faction of the regime. One is that they did it out of ignorance; the other interpretation is that the move was organized at the highest level with the approval of the Supreme Leader. However, any regime, in order to stay in power, needs either the support of its people, or the support of foreign governments, he says. It is believed that the totalitarian faction, which finds itself lacking in popular support, has made behind-the-scenes deals with foreign governments, the EU and the US. US-based commentator <b>Hormoz Hekmat</b> says the mass resignations of the MPs would help push forward the movement started by the people and the students and faculty members in the past two months to regain the people's right to sovereignty. But the problem is not that a number of reformists were banned from reelection, the main problem is that the Majles, which should be the people's representative, has had no authority under the Islamic regime, in which, according to the constitution, the Majles has no authority, compared to the vast authorities and powers held by the Supreme Leader and his appointees. He adds that the willingness shown by the Bush administration to negotiate with the totalitarian faction of the Islamic government is not a strategic decision, but a tactical one. The totalitarian faction's hope that it can resolve all its problems through secret deals with foreign governments is not a realistic hope. (Fereydoun Zarnegar)
• The conservative-backed society of Bazaar merchants threatened the reformists with harsh action. It called the mass resignation of the reformist MPs “a ridiculous show,” in a statement issued today. (Amir Armin)
• Secretary of the Guardians Council Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati said the cabinet and President Khatami himself gave the Council a list of their favorite candidacy applicants and asked that they be reinstated. The public relations office of the presidency denied Jannati's statement. (Bahman Bastani)
• Negotiations with the Guardians Council has produced no result, interior minister Abdolvahed Mousavi Lari said, urging President Khatami to accept the resignations of 27 cabinet members and provincial governors, who said the mass disqualifications by the Guardians Council of 2,400 out of 8,000 candidacy applicants would result in un-free and uncompetitive elections. President Khatami and the interior minister had both said the government will only hold free and competitive elections. Elections in which half of the winners have already been decided by the Guardians Council would not be competitive, the interior minister said. The coordination council of the reformist faction, made up of representatives of 18 pro-reform parties and political groups, announced that it would not participate in the elections. However, conservative commentator Amir Mohebbian of the Resalat newspaper predicted that the differences between the two factions over the elections would soon be resolved in secret negotiations. (Amir-Mosaddegh Katouzian)
• Some of today's reformists used to be considered hard-liners, whereas some of those who are now seen as within the conservative camp, used to known as moderates, foreign minister Kamal Kharrazi said in an interview with Swiss daily <i>Neue Zürcher Zeitung</i>, playing down the reformist-conservative dichotomy that is being reported in the foreign press. The current problem arising from the mass disqualification of reformist Majles candidacy applicants is temporary issue and resolvable, he added. (Shahram Mirian, Cologne)
• There was no way left for the Majles reformist MPs but to resign, senior dissident cleric Ayatollah Hosseinali Montazeri said, according to his son <b>Ahmad Montazeri</b>, who tells <b>Radio Farda</b> that his father believes the conservatives would back down from their bans on the reformist candidates, when the Supreme Leader eventually intervenes. In his meeting with German ambassador to Tehran Freiherr Von Maltzahn, Ayatollah Montazeri said the Shiite clerics in Najaf and Qum are in constant touch and there are no differences or competition between them, Ahmad Montazari says. Ayatollah Montazeri told the German ambassador that the formation of Israel was a result of the German oppression of the Jews in Europe, and now that Israel exists, it would be good if the Western countries saw to it that an independent state be formed for the Palestinians, who have lost their homes as the result of the establishment of the Jewish State. (Jean Khakzad)
• In an interview with the Rome daily <i>Corriere della Sera</i>, Ayatollah Montazeri said the Guardians Council's decision to disqualify reformist candidacy applicants was “illegal,” and a “treason” against the Islamic revolution (Ahmad Ra'fat, Rome)
• The mass resignation of the Majles MPs would impact the Islamic regime's relations with the EU and the US, because for the first time, it has become clear to the world that a powerful faction in Iran is trying to make its total hold on power legitimate, German press commentator and University of Osnabruek professor <b>Mohsen Maserat</b> tells <b>Radio Farda</b>. (Shahram Mirian, Cologne)
• Today's <b>Radio Farda Human Rights and Democracy Roundtable</b> is devoted to the elections crisis. After the mass resignation of 123 reformist Majles MPs and the interior ministry's assertion that fair, free and competitive elections cannot be held on February 20, Majles speaker Karrubi appealed to the Supreme Leader to resolve the conflict. Constitutional reform activist, Tehran University law professor and former Majles MP <b>Qasem Shoaleh Saadi</b> says the Supreme Leader would not intervene for two reasons. First, unlike Ayatollah Khomeini, who had the moral authority to intervene in all matters, Ayatollah Khamenei lacks the religious credentials required for a religious source of emulation. He may risk disobedience in the conservative faction if he intervenes on behalf of the reformists. Furthermore, he adds, the Supreme Leader would not intervene, because the mass disqualification of the reformist candidacy applicants, including the current MPs, was carried out with his approval. Ayatollah Khamenei said in a recent speech in Qazvin that there is no room in the Majles for the opposition, Shoaleh Saadi says. Lack of popular support for the reformists, which stemmed from the reformists' failure to implement any of their promised reforms in the past seven years, has been another factor in the conservatives' move to eliminate the reformist faction altogether. Princeton-based commentator and US-Iran relations advocate <b>Houshang Amirahmadi</b> says the reformists' failure was entirely the responsibility of the Khatami government, not the Majles MPs, who, he says, did their jobs right. The people chose the reformists in previous elections, because between the two factions, the reformists talked about people's rights and people's sovereignty. Now that the public has become frustrated with the reformists, the people are cleverly moving towards alternatives to the current system. Tehran University political science professor <b>Sadeq Zibakalam</b> says one reason people did not show much support for the Majles reformists when they were banned from reelection is the rampant conspiracy theories. Some people see the whole conflict as a means to boost voter turnout. I believe, he adds, President Khatami and Majles speaker Karrubi are negotiating behind-the-scenes with the Guardians Council to find a way to resolve the crisis, but they won't succeed, because, since a year ago, the conservative faction has decided to use its legal levers to unseat the reformist faction. Since the conservative faction lacks any popular support, the only way they could eliminate their opponents was to use the Guardians Council's vetting power, in order to block their reelection. (Fereydoun Zarnegar)
• A bomb was discovered at the entrance of the Majles this afternoon, and was defused; police spokesman told the conservative Fars news agency. The news came only an hour after Tehran judiciary chief Abasali Alizadeh said the judiciary would not intervene in the elections conflict, unless laws were broken. If the Guardians Council and the interior ministry agree to postpone the elections, judiciary would do nothing, he said. But if actions of protesters cause delay in the legal process of the Majles elections, the judiciary would prosecute the perpetrators, he added. (Ali Sajjadi)
<b>Foreign Ministry Denies Plan for US Congressmen and Senators Visit</b>
• There were no plans for the US congress members to visit Tehran next month, foreign ministry spokesman Hamid-Reza Asefi said on Saturday. “Such a trip is not on our agenda,” Hamid Reza Asefi said. US Senator Arlen Specter said in Washington on Friday that a group of US congressional aides would visit Iran next month, in a potential step toward renewing official contacts, severed after the 1979 Iranian revolution. Specter said the staff delegation “was confirmed to go next month” in a meeting last week in Washington with Iran's UN representative Mohammad-Javad Zafif. (Ali Sajjadi)
• The visit to Iran by US Congressmen has been under consideration for more than two years, former US National Security Council aide and acting director of the Columbia University's Middle East Institute <b>Gary Sick</b> tells <b>Radio Farda</b>. The proposed trip of the US Congressional aides is a slow step, but an interesting one, not by the White House or the US State Department, but by the US Congress, which wants to get involved in the US-Iran relations, he says, adding that the trip is a healthy step towards possible reconciliation between the two countries. (Leyli Sadr)
<b>Islamic Student Councils Warn the EU agaisnt Closeness to “Totalitarian” Faction</b>
• In a harshly worded statement signed by representatives of 47 Islamic student councils that form the association of the Islamic student councils (Daftar Tahkim Vahdat), student activists warned the EU against getting close to what they called the totalitarian faction of the regime. It said the European governments may have felt that closeness with the faction of the regime that holds all levers of power may help resolve such international problems as the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and stabilization of Iraq and Afghanistan. (Leyli Sadr)
<b>Sit-in Protest of the Hospital Employees in Qum</b>
• Hundreds of the laid off employees of Qum's Shahid Beheshti hospital have been staging a sit-in protest for the past six days in front of Qum judiciary to demand salaries and benefits due to them at the time of the hospital's closing two years ago. The all-women hospital belonged to the Fatemieh religious foundation, backed by powerful conservative Qum clerics, which also unsuccessfully ran the now defunct girls-only Fatemieh medical school. The protesters demand to receive the 140-million rials forwarded by the President Khatami cabinet for their salaries, and warn that the Fatemieh foundation may use the money to pay the overdue bills of five companies under its direction that served the hospital, Qum-based journalist <b>Hamed Mottaqi</b>, editor of the new Naqshineh website, tells <b>Radio Farda</b>. (Mahmonir Rahimi)
مسعود ملک (راديوفردا): شمار نمايندگان مستعفي مجلس به 123 نفر رسيد. اين نمايندگان پس از سه هفته تحصن، امروز در اعتراض به رد صلاحيت گسترده و غير قانوني داوطلبان نمايندگي مجلس هفتم از سوي شوراي نگهبان، استعفاء نامه هاي خود را تسليم مهدي کروبي، رئيس مجلس شوراي اسلامي کردند. سياوش اردلان گزارشي دارد در اين زمينه.
سياوش اردلان (راديوفردا): امروز صحن علني مجلس، صحنه طغيان طرفداران اصلاحات در برابر دستگاه هاي مقتدر حکومت بود که به گفته اصلاح طلبان، مسير نظام را از اهداف اوليه انقلاب جدا کردند. نمايندگاني که 22 روز است در اعتراض به رد صلاحيت داوطلبان انتخابات مجلس هفتم توسط شوراي نگهبان در مجلس تحصن کرده اند، امروز يکي پس از ديگري به صف ايستادند و يک يک استعفاهاي خود را دست مهدي کروبي، رئيس مجلس دادند. اما استعفاي نمايندگان مجلس به معناي از کار افتادن قوه مقننه کشور نيست. نمايندگان مستعفي، با بهره گيري از قوانين مجلس، اجازه دارند تا در جلسه بعدي، اگر تعداد نمايندگان به حد نصاب برسد، هر کدام به مدت يک ساعت از خود دفاع کنند. نمايندگان اصلاح طلب با اين کار، مجلس را به تريبون خود براي توجيه استعفاء و حمله به شوراي نگهبان تبديل مي کنند. به طوري که مجلس را از پرداختن به کارهاي ديگر باز مي دارند. محسن ميردامادي، نماينده تهران، استعفاء نامه خود و همکاران اش را در صحن علني چنين قرائت کرد:
محسن ميردامادي (نماينده تهران در مجلس شوراي اسلامي): اگرچه بستن مطبوعات، بازداشت فعالان سياسي و مطبوعاتي، مانع تراشي بر سر قانونگذاري نمايندگان مردم در جهت تعميق حقوق ضروري و مسلم ايشان از مسائل مهم جامعه است، اما امروز اصلي ترين مساله ما به تاراج رفتن بزرگترين دستآورد انقلاب و اصلي ترين نماد ضد استبدادي نظام، يعني مجلس مستقل و آزاد است. حال که مستي زدگان قدرت و اقتدارگرايان عزم خود را جزم کرده اند تا با حذف جمهوريت نظام، و در نتيجه اسلاميت آن و تشکيل مجلسي فرمايشي و فرمانبردار، سراشيب سقوط را تا فرجام شوم آن و سوختن در آتشي که خود هيزم آن هستند طي کنند، ما را چاره اي جز عدم حضور و عدم همراهي در اين مسير و گريزي جز از استعفاء از عنواني نيست که از اين پس در آن خيري براي ملت، وقتي براي خود نمي يابيم
س.ا.: پس از آقاي محسن ميردامادي، ادامه خواندن استعفاء نامه به علي مزروعي، نماينده اصلاح طلب اصفهان سپرده شد که خطاب به ملت ايران چنين گفت:
علي مزروعي (نماينده اصفهان در مجلس شوراي اسلامي): به ما حق خواهيد داد در مجلسي نمانيم که نمي تواند حق شما را استيفاء کند و مانع برگزاري انتخاباتي شود که طي آن قرار است ملت، نه به نمايندگان واقعي خويش، بلکه به انتخاب ديگران راي دهد. از اينرو استعفاي رسمي خود را از نمايندگي مجلس ششم، به پيشگاه شما تقديم مي داريم.
س.ا.: افزون بر نمايندگان اصلاح طلب مجلس، همفکران آنها در دولت نيز گفتند که انتخابات مجلس در شرايط فعلي، غير قابل قبول است. از جمله موسوي لاري، وزير کشور ايران. تا پيش از امروز نمايندگان مجلس خواستار به تعويق افتادن انتخابات به عنوان چاره موقت حل بحران بودند. اما تا اين لحظه دستگاه هاي جناح راست حکومت، نشان ندادند که تمايلي به تعويق انتخابات مجلس هفتم در اول اسفندماه داشته باشند. بر عکس فرمانده نيروي انتظامي امروز اعلام کرد که آماده تامين امنيت انتخابات مجلس هفتم در موعد مقرر است. به ويژه پس از صبح امروز که مهدي کروبي بار ديگر علنا از آيت الله خامنه اي، رهبر جمهوري اسلامي، خواست تا در اين بحران مداخله کند، همه نگاه ها به سوي آيت الله خامنه اي دوخته شده است.
رهبر جمهوري اسلامي تا کنون از مداخله مستقيم در اين بحران خودداري کرده است، ولي گفته است که اگر لازم باشد مداخله خواهد کرد. محاسبات آيت الله خامنه اي در اتخاذ تصميم نهايي، معطوف به پيامدهاي موضعي است که به نفع هر کدام از دو جناح بگيرد. اگر از اصلاح طلبان حمايت کند، در واقع پشتوانه خود را که دستگاه هاي زير دست وي هستند، مثل شوراي نگهبان تضعيف کرده است. اگر هم به نفع محافظه کاران وارد عمل شود، عملا بر اصلاحات درون حکومتي مهر پايان زده است.
در اين جدال قدرت دو جناح حکومت با سر سختي هاي شان، خود را در موقعيتي قرار داده اند که عقب نشيني آبرومندانه را براي هر کدام از آنها دشوار مي کند. عدم حمايت هاي خياباني مردم از جناح اصلاح طلب و برگزيدگان خود در مجلس، محاسبات سياسي حکومت را در برخورد با اين بحران به جدال هاي داخلي در رده هاي بالاي سياست تبديل کرده است، تا نگراني از تضعيف امنيت کشور. استعفاي 123 نماينده مجلس به معناي از کار افتادن قوه مقننه کشور نيست. نمايندگان مستعفي، قصد دارند با استفاده از وقت يكساعت دفاع از خود در جلسات بعدي، مجلس را به تريبون خود براي توجيه استعفاء و انتقاد از شوراي نگهبان تبديل مي کنند. همفکران نمايندگان مسعتفي در دولت خاتمي نيز گفتند که انتخابات مجلس در شرايط فعلي، غير قابل انجام است. اکنون پس از آنکه امروز صبح رئيس مجلس بار ديگر علنا از رهبر جمهوري اسلامي، خواست تا در اين بحران مداخله کند، همه نگاه ها به سوي رهبر جمهوري اسلامي دوخته شده است. عدم حمايت مردمي از جناح اصلاح طلب و نمايندگان مستعفي، محاسبات سياسي حکومت را در برخورد با اين بحران به جدال هاي داخلي در رده هاي بالاي سياست تبديل کرده است، تا نگراني از تضعيف امنيت کشور.