Summary of Today's BroadcastRFE/RL Persian ServiceMonday, March 18, 2002
* Khamenei Rejects Talks
* The problems of state-run businesses
* Khatami's disappointing year
* Bad hair days in Tehran
* Iranian descendants in Zanzibar
Leader Rejects Talks with the US
* In a speech to officials, including President Khatami, Ayatollah Khamenei said readiness for talks with the US would only show weakness in the face of US "threats." He admonished opponents of such talks to avoid "bad taste" in their political statements. President Khatami today echoed the Leader's position, even though yesterday a cabinet spokesman said the government sees no problem in direct talks between American and Iranian parliamentarians. (Siavash Ardalan)
Investigators Blame Pilot for Crash of Iran Air's Tupolev Killing 119
* Iran's National Aviation Organization (NAO) found the pilot of Russian-made Tupolev jetliner responsible for last month's crash in Loristan that killed 119. Some Majles MP's said they are not convinced by the NAO's investigation. (Ardalan Niknam)
Lawyer Warns of Summary Trials in Emergency Holiday Courts
* Holding emergency trials in bus terminals during the holiday season may violate the rights of the accused to have fair trials, warns Tehran lawyer Shafi Shafii, who tells RFE/RL that the judiciary's declared intention to carry out court ordered punishments on the spot is both unclear and practically impossible. (Mahmonir Rahimi)
Central Bank Governor Loses Seat in Expediency Council
* Central Bank Governor Mohsen Nurbakhsh was named to the Expediency Council at a time that his party, the Executives of Construction (Kargozaran-e Sazandegi), was prominent in the political scene, according to Tehran-based journalist, Mohammad-Reza Balideh. Now that the party no longer plays a role, Nourbakhsh is being removed from the Council, and after nearly two decades, it would not be surprising if Nourbakhsh were also to resign from his position at the Central Bank. (Fereydoun Zarnegar)
Government-Owned Businesses and the Economy
* In the third installment of the interview series, four Tehran economists comment on the impact government-owned businesses have had on the Iranian economy:
* Dr. Ali Rashidi calls their impact "negative." Allocations for expenditures of government-owned companies are rising 48% in next year's budget bill, and along with their mounting losses these companies are a public burden. The nationalization of most economic enterprises soon after the 1979 revolution led to inexperienced, politically connected managers wasting the resources at their disposal.
* Dr. Morteza Imani-rad tells RFE/RL that the business environment in Iran makes all business activities unprofitable, regardless of ownership by the government or the private sector.
* Dr. Jamshid Pazhuyan says some government-owned companies cannot be privatized, because they will be closed due to lack of profits and the country will be deprived of needed products and services.
* Dr. Sadeq Zibakalam, a Tehran professor of economics says using public funds for some of the government-businesses can only be justified if their activities help in economic or scientific development of the country. Otherwise, they should not use funds earmarked for development. (Fereydoun Zarnegar)
Iranian Political Year in Review
The Iranian year 1380 began with the election of President Mohammad Khatami to a second term. Two analysts comment about the impact of Khatami's election and its outcome.
* Former MP and Paris-based political analyst Ahmad Salamatian tells RFE/RL that the election, marked with his own indecision to run, showed the receptiveness of the Iranian society to political mobilization. However, because of their own organizational and personal shortcomings, the regime's reformists could not succeed in gaining the upper hand.
* Tehran-based political analyst Mohsen Sazegara tells RFE/RL that by electing Khatami with an overwhelming majority, Iranian voters repeated their demands for democracy, civil society, personal freedoms and an end to Iran's isolation. However, he adds, Khatami's new cabinet and his methods were the same as in his first term, and his inaction has resulted in widespread frustration with the reform movement. The conservative Guardians Council obstructs the pro-reform Majles by finding its bills un-Islamic, since they were found to be incompatible with the Leader's pronouncements. (Mehdi Khalaji)
New German-Persian Dictionary
* Khosrow Naqd, author of a new Persian-German-Persian dictionary tells RFE/RL that instead of defining the meanings of words, he has tried to suggest accurate equivalents. (Shireen Famili)
Hairdressers Avoid Government Scrutiny
* Hairdressers operating out of private homes and apartments try to avoid government scrutiny and taxes by not applying for business permits. Pari, a hair-dresser in Tehran tells RFE/RL that Iranians living in Europe, who visit her salon, tell her that the style and equipment used in some Tehran hairdressers are more advanced than Europe. She says applying for a permit has too many requirements that she cannot meet. A customer at Pari's hair salon, complains to RFE/RL about general lack of hygiene in hair salons, adding that men's barber shops, which are open to street and are visited by health officials, are much cleaner than women's hair dressing salons. (Mahmonir Rahimi)
Unification of the Foreign Exchange Rate
* On March 21 the foreign exchange rates in Iran will be unified for the second time in the past 20 years. A similar move in 1992 resulted in hyperinflation and a decline in the value of the national currency and may serve as a warning, though $6 billion in foreign currency reserves and rising crude oil prices leave room for optimism. The Central Bank Governor announced that foreign exchange trade would be carried out at the banks. Passengers leaving will be able to carry out up to $5,000 in cash, and transfer of unlimited amounts of cash out of the country through the banking system will become possible after the new year. (Fereydoun Khavand, Paris)
* Israeli and Palestinian security forces meet in Jerusalem with the US envoy to cease fire conditions. (Jamshid Chalangi, Cairo)
* Four die in Kirghizstan as police open fire on demonstrators demanding the freedom of the MP Azimbeik Nazarov. (Mani Kasravi, Moscow)
* Afghanistan Defense Ministry spokesman rejected US reports about Iranian efforts to destabilize Afghanistan and blamed Pakistan for harboring al-Qaida terrorists and Taliban leaders. (Siavash Ardalan)
* Afghanistan prepares for the return of the exiled shah, Mohammad Zaher, on March 26. (Sohrab Behnezhad, Kabul)
* Russian Defense Minister warns the US about the resilience of al-Qaida and Taliban elements hiding in Afghanistan. (Homayoun Majd, Washington)
* Iraqi Vice President Ramedan says Iraq will agree with the resumption of UN weapons inspections if the UN gives advance notice to Iraq on places the inspectors plan to visit. (Shahran Tabari, London)
ARTS & IDEAS
Songs & Song Makers
* RFE/RL's Mahmoud Khoshnam reviews the life and work of the late Habibollah Badii, composer of many popular songs.
A Trip to Zanzibar
* In this five-part documentary, RFE/RL's Ali Attar goes to Zanzibar to investigate the roots and customs of the descendants of Iranian immigrants there who call themselves Shirazi and celebrate the Iranian New Year. RFE/RL's editor Iraj Gorgin introduces the program with information about the history of Zanzibar and Tanzania.
Wildlife in Iran: Final Episode
* In the final segment of his weekly show, Wildlife in Iran, Dr. Esmail Kahrom reminds everyone of the need to preserve the environment and endangered species.
رهبر جمهوري اسلامي براي نخستين بار پس از تهديدهاي رييس جمهوري آمريكا، اين تهديدها را جدي دانست و در سخناني خطاب به "كارگزاران نظام" اظهار داشت در برابر اقدام دشمن به اقدام همه جانبه و ضربه متقابل اقدام خواهيم ورزيد. رهبر جمهوري اسلامي، در واكنش به دعوت سناتور جوزف بايدن از نمايندگان مجلس در ايران براي مذاكره رودرو، اظهار داشت: "مذاكره راه حل نيست." و افزود: "كساني كه هنگام تهديد شدن آماده مذاكره مي شوند، ضعف و ناتواني خود را آشكار مي كنند و اين كاري منفي است." با اين حال، رهبر جمهوري اسلامي مخالفان تند و تيز مذاكره با آمريكا را نيز از "كج سليقلگي" برحذر داشت و آن را نشان ديگري از ضعف دانست. وي از جناح هاي نظام خواست در برابر آنچه تهديدات آمريكا ناميد، يكپارچه شوند و اين دعوت ظاهرا با نظر مساعد جناح ها همراه شده است. عليرغم آنكه روز گذشته سخنگوي دولت مذاكره نمايندگان مجلس با سناتورهاي آمريكايي را بي اشكال خوانده بود، امروز محمد خاتمي رييس جمهوري اسلامي اظهار دا شت:
"سياستمداران آمريكا نبايد دچار اين توهم باشند كه كسي در ايران از موضع ضعف دستهاي خود را در برابر تهديدات انها بالا خواهد برد".